HL Deb 29 March 1827 vol 17 cc120-8

The following is a Copy of the Resolutions on the Corn Trade, printed and circulated by lord Redesdale:

  1. . "That the wealth and strength of Great Britain originated in the cultivation of its soil, and must always be dependent on that cultivation, whatever other advantages the country may possess.
  2. . "That the cultivation of the soil of a country is a trade and manufacture, and is so far the most important trade and manufacture in every country, as every other trade and manufacture must depend upon it.
  3. . "That though the production of corn for the food of man is in Great Britain one of the most important objects of cultivation, yet the means of obtaining the production of corn, the quantity purchased, and the profit to be derived by the cultivator from the production, are all dependent on many other objects of production, and especially on the production of animals, and of food for animals, and on the further produce or other benefit derived from such animals; and the general profit of the cultivator is the result of the combination of all the several articles so produced, each article contributing, to the more profitable production of the rest, the amount of the whole production at the same time greatly depending on the capital and skill employed in fitting the land for the purposes of cultivation, and on the capital and skill employed by the cultivator; and it is the combined effect of all these operating causes which gives plenty from cultivation, and renders cultivation profitable.
  4. . "That the laws now in force regulating the importation of foreign corn, are founded on the principles expressed in the foregoing Resolutions, having in view the extension and improvement of the cultivation of the country, the increase of its. productions, and insuring to the improvers 121 and cultivators of the country the just reward for their expenditure and labour, as expressly acknowledged in the preamble to the act of the fifteenth year of the reign of King Charles 2nd, intitled 'An Act for the Encouragement of Trade.'
  5. . "That under the encouragement proposed by the said act of the fifteenth of King Charles 2nd, and many other acts since made, in conformity to the principle expressed in the preamble to that act, great quantities of land, which were in the fifteenth of King Charles 2nd lying waste and yielding little, have been improved with great cost and labour, and much more corn has been produced, and great numbers of people, horses, and cattle have been employed, and a population very greatly increased in number, and consuming a much greater quantity of corn in proportion to their number, has been provided with food by means of the improvements so made, and the produce of the country has thereby become equal to provide for such increased population, both with corn and other food, in great abundance; unless, by the dispensation of Providence, the extraordinary inclemency of a particular season should happen to render the production of that season considerably less than the production of an ordinary season
  6. . "That under the apprehension of the possible occurrence of such an extraordinary season, and the consequent failure of crops, provision has been made in the said act of the 15th of Charles 2nd, and in all the subsequent acts respecting the importation of foreign corn, to prevent the scarcity which might be produced by inclement seasons, the importation of foreign corn being allowed whenever the prices of home-grown corn, estimated according to the value of money at the several times of passing such acts respectively, should indicate so great a failure of crops, as to raise just apprehensions that the produce of the country might be insufficient for the consumption of its inhabitants; but at the same time allowing to the home-growers of corn the benefit of a rise in the prices of corn, corresponding with the deficiency in the quantity produced, and thereby compensating to them, by increase of price, the loss which they would otherwise have suffered by deficiency in their crops, whenever that deficiency did not, by an extraordinary rise in price, indicate the danger of distressing scarcity.
  7. . "That considering the present value 122 of money, and the great rise of prices of almost every article of consumption, and the great increase of burthens imposed on the people of Great Britain, and especially on the produce of the soil; the prices of 60s. for the quarter of wheat, of 32s. for the quarter of barley, of 24s. for the quarter of oats, and of 36s. for the quarter of rye, peas, and beans, cannot be considered as indicating such a deficiency in the quantities of the same different sorts of grain produced in the country, as to warrant any apprehension of scarcity; and, on the contrary, those prices are not more than sufficient to remunerate the corn-growers for deficiency of crops in ordinary years, as they are very little above the prices in very plentiful years, when the prices are always lower than fair remunerating prices in an ordinary year, as the supply in such very plentiful years greatly exceeds the demand, and the surplus forms part of the consumption of the succeeding year, and often at an advanced price.
  8. . "That the continual and great variations in the prices of different sorts of grain during the course of above one hundred and fifty years, of which there is clear evidence, demonstrate that, assuming certain prices for each or any species of grain, as the prices, or nearly the prices, for which such grain may be sold with advantage to the producer in every year, is an attempt to do that which is impossible; and, on the contrary, that the fair prices of each year must depend on the amount of the produce of each year, which may vary so greatly from year to year, as to make the fair prices in one year greatly exceed or greatly fall short of the fair prices in another year.
  9. . "That to allow the importation of foreign wheat into Great Britain at all times, without payment of any duty on importation, and to permit such wheat afterwards at any time to be entered for sale on payment of a duty of 20s. only, whenever the average price of wheat, taken weekly in certain districts, shall amount to 60s., and to impose a scale of duties increasing, as the average price should fall below 60s., and diminishing as the average price should exceed 60s., would be to fix indirectly the price of 60s. for the quarter of wheat, as the highest price for which wheat should be sold, even in the most unfavourable years, inasmuch as foreign wheat may generally be obtained at so low a price, that on payment of a duty of 123 20s. only, it can be brought into the market for sale, with considerable profit, at a price below 60s. the quarter; and if a proposition to that effect should be made law, wheat produced in Great Britain can never be sold at a higher price than 60s. the quarter; and the effect of such a law must be to keep the price of wheat at all times under 60s. the quarter, whatever failure may happen in the home-grown crops.
  10. . "That in like manner the importation of barley, oats, and other sorts of grain, under the same circumstances, to be entered for home consumption on payment only of several duties bearing a like proportion to the prices of those articles as before mentioned, would operate indirectly as a law limiting the prices of such several articles as the sums proposed as the average prices on which the rise and fall of duties should take place, and would compel the sale of barley, oats, and such several sorts of grain, always at prices rather under than above the medium prices at which such duties should take place.
  11. . "That limiting the prices of wheat, barley, oats, and other sorts of grain to the several prices before mentioned, at all times, however unfavourable the seasons might prove, must have the effect of compelling the growers of such articles to sell the same at great loss whenever unfavourable seasons may cause any material failure of their crops; and by taking from them all profit, must gradually deprive them of the means of cultivation, and render the tillage lands of Great Britain gradually less and less productive, without further diminishing the actual price of corn; until, by the ruin of the agriculture of the country, the cultivated land should become so far unproductive as to be very unequal to the support of its population: and then, unless foreign production should be imported to an enormous amount, the deficiency of supply to answer the demand would again raise the price of corn, and the country would at the same time pay a high price for the corn consumed in it, though in great part foreign corn, and would become dependent on, and tributary to, other countries for its daily bread.
  12. . "That the idea of fixing a certain, or nearly a certain price at all times for grain of any description, in any country, with any regard to the welfare of the cultivators of the soil, is extravagant and absurd, as demonstrated by the experience of all countries, and by the evidence before 124 the House of the great variation from year to year, and from month to month, of the prices of all sorts of grain in this country, and in every other country with respect to which evidence has been procured, the prices varying in many instances, almost in the proportion of two to one, and seldom in any two successive years bearing nearly the same proportion; and as the amount of the produce in every country, of each year, must vary from the amount of the produce of precedent and subsequent years, according to the season of each year, so the price must vary to render the cultivation profitable; and that variation must be greatest where cultivation is most expensive or most artificially conducted, and where the people are most burthened with taxes and other charges; and the sale of corn at a regulated price in any country, can only be effected by the introduction of foreign corn, to compel the cultivator to sell his corn at less than the cost of its production; and this attempt, by ruining the cultivators, must finally tend to raise, rather than to reduce, the ordinary price of corn.
  13. . "That the foreign corn hitherto imported, has always been, and the foreign corn hereafter to be imported, probably will always be, paid for in money, and not by a corresponding export of British manufactures, or other commodities, to the places from which such corn has been, or shall be brought.
  14. . "That at all times when the quantity of wheat produced in Great Britain, together with the wheat imported from Ireland, shall be equal to the demand for consumption in Great Britain, the importation of foreign wheat in addition to that quantity must be useless, or must have the effect either of excluding from the market and rendering useless an equal quantity of home-grown wheat and Irish wheat, or a quantity of wheat consisting of foreign and home-grown and Irish wheat, Equal to the quantity of the foreign wheat imported, and that quantity must remain in store, without any other effect than that, by occasioning a glut in the market, the importation of foreign wheat might reduce the prices both of foreign, and home-grown, and Irish wheat so low, as to discourage the growth of wheat both in Great Britain and Ireland in succeeding years, and thereby reduce the quantity of land cultivated both in Great Britain and Ireland.
  15. . "That in like manner the importa- 125 tion of other sorts of foreign grain, whilst the production of the country with the assistance of Ireland should be equal to the demand, must have the like pernicious effects.
  16. . "That if a million of quarters of foreign whet should be purchased in the Baltic, or elsewhere, at the price of 26s. the quarter, and paid for in money, and not by a corresponding export of British manufactures, or other commodities, and afterwards sold in the home market at 60s. the quarter, having paid a duty of 20s. the quarter, and if an equal quantity of home-grown wheat and Irish wheat should be thereby excluded from the home market, the sum of three millions of pounds sterling, which would have been received by the home-growers of Great Britain and Ireland for the same quantity of wheat, would be transferred to others; namely, 1,300,000l. would be transferred to foreigners for the price paid in money for such foreign wheat, one million would be paid to the public revenue for duty, and 700,000l. would be paid to individuals of various descriptions for expenses of import and other expenses, and for profits to the speculators in the purchase of such foreign wheat.
  17. . "That if (of which there is no prospect) such million of quarters should be distinctly paid for by the export from Great Britain of manufactures or other commodities, and not in money, yet the value of such exports would be only to the amount of 1,300,000l., and the clear profit derived to manufacturers and traders from such exports would be of very small amount, whereas the loss to the home-growers of wheat would still amount to three millions sterling, though the public revenue would gain a million sterling by a tax really paid by the home-growers of corn, already burthened with an enormous disproportion of the public charges; and in like manner, by the importation of foreign barley, oats, and other grain, whether purchased with money or with commodities exported, the loss to the home-growers of those articles would be equal to the amount of the whole quantity of foreign corn sold in the market, whilst the gain to the manufacturers, if any, would be of trifling amount; and the government would be the principal gainer, by a new tax, thus imposed, in effect, on the home-growers.
  18. . "That the state of the currency of the country must at all times affect the 126 real prices of all commodities estimated at the nominal value of such currency, and may materially affect the profit derived from the importation of foreign corn, and of all articles imported from foreign countries, and the profit to be derived from the importation of foreign corn may become enormous, by reason of the state of the currency of this country, and the rate of exchange between this country and the country where such corn shall be purchased, which may give rise to the most extravagant speculations in foreign corn to be imported into Great Britain.
  19. . "That the effect of the importation of foreign corn at duties so low as to operate as a restriction on importation, may be judged of by the effect of the importation of foreign wool, by which the price of the home-grown wool, and especially of short wool, has been greatly reduced, and great quantities of such wool remain in the hands of the growers, driven out of the market by the importation of foreign wool; and the importation has greatly increased since the reduction of the duty, whilst the export of woollen manufactures has decreased instead of being increased; so that the home-growers of short wool are now suffering an annual loss of great amount, great part of which amount has been paid to foreigners for foreign wool, without any adequate benefit to this country; and further loss has been sustained by the importation of foreign tallow, hides, skins, and other articles.
  20. . "That by importation of foreign wool, tallow, hides, and skins, and of other commodities, the produce of agriculture, the cultivation of the country, and all persons interested in the lands of the kingdom, and particularly the cultivators of tillage land, have suffered great injury, inasmuch as the profit derived from those articles enabled them to adopt that system of husbandry which has so much increased the productive powers of tillage land, by a regulated course of crops, to which the profits arising from wool, tallow, hides, skins, and other offals of animals is essential, and the price of meat as well as the price of corn must eventually be greatly affected by depriving the cultivators both of tillage lands and of grass lands of those profits, which are important parts of the profits derived from the breeding and feeding of animals bred and fed for the purpose of producing meat for the food of man.
  21. ."That much as the island of Great 127 Britain may suffer from any material alteration of the existing Corn-laws, Ireland will probably suffer more, inasmuch as the corn market of Great Britain is now at all times open to Ireland, and the importation of corn from Ireland has been (since the free intercourse has been allowed) continually increasing, and if not obstructed by foreign competition, the cultivation of Ireland must continually increase, so as to enable that country to supply any deficiency which the most inclement season may occasion in Great Britain, and render the importation of foreign corn, at any time, unnecessary; and the constant importation of foreign corn, at the rates of duties before-mentioned, must be a death-blow to the rising, cultivation of Ireland.
  22. . "That the employment of capital is essentially necessary to the proper cultivation of any country, but the importation of foreign produce has already destroyed a large proportion of the capital which was employed in the cultivation of Great Britain, and the constant importation of foreign corn will greatly reduce the capital still employed; and such importation must prevent that increase of agricultural capital in Ireland, which is essential to raise that country to the high state of cultivation of which it is capable; and the same causes will prevent the improvement of vast tracts of land in Great Britain, which are still capable of great improvement.
  23. . "That the constitution of the government of the United Kingdom, in all its parts, and the symmetry and security of the whole, are founded and depend upon landed property, and cannot subsist in their present form if the value of such property shall be materially diminished, and its due weight in the government of the country shall be thereby destroyed; and any material injury to that property, by destroying the just balance of the constitution must lead to the overthrow of the existing form of government, and the substitution of some new form of government, unless the misery of general confusion shall bring the country back to that form which has produced its happiness and prosperity for so many years.
  24. . "That the experience of many years has proved the wisdom of those laws which have been founded on the system adopted on the Restoration of Charles 2nd, and on which the existing laws regulating the importation of foreign corn were founded.
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  26. . "That a general system of free trade is incompatible with the present condition of the world, and particularly with the condition of this country, burthened with enormous taxes and charges of various descriptions, and loaded with an enormous national debt, which renders all the rest of the inhabitants of the country tributaries to the public creditors, who are maintained in idleness by the industry and at the charge of others, through the medium of burthens imposed on many articles of production, and most especially the productions of cultivated land, which are loaded with charges far exceeding the burthens imposed on other productions, and cannot therefore be brought into the market on equal terms with the productions of countries not so burthened; and the unequal burthens thus imposed on cultivated land could not now be sustained, if a portion of those burthens were not borne by the rest of the community, through the medium of the prices paid for the commodities raised by the cultivation of land.
  27. . "That a general system of free trade can only be founded upon the establishment of universal and constant peace, and universal and constant goodwill of man to man, and is utterly inconsistent with the present condition of mankind, divided into various states, under various governments, founded on various and conflicting principles, jealous of and hostile to each other, and particularly jealous of and hostile to the internal and external prosperity of this country, and its extended dominions in the eastern and western world, all of which are objects of the ambition of other nations, and for the protection and management of which it has hitherto been found expedient to maintain a large armed force, both naval and military, and other large establishments, creating a necessity for the continuance of a large portion of those heavy burthens with which this country is charged, even if its national debt were annihilated."