§ Earl Stanhope
said, that in rising to submit to the consideration of their Lordships the Motion of which he had given notice some days ago, he deeply regretted that the task had not been undertaken by somebody better qualified to do justice to the subject. It would have been more satisfactory to him, and he was sure more agreeable to their Lordships, if the subject had been brought before them by some person whose abilities, eloquence, information, and experi- 929 ence would have commanded attention, instead of that duty devolving on the humble individual who was now addressing them, whose opinions could be recommended only by the independence and the integrity of his character, and by his ardent desire to promote as far as possible the welfare and happiness of his country. He was aware that motions of the nature of that which he should have the honour to submit had been frequently misrepresented by those who supported any existing Government, and by those who were the advocates of any and every administration, however composed and however carried on. It had been stated by such persons, that his motion for an inquiry into the state of the country was in substance and effect, though not in form, nothing more nor less than a motion to establish a new administration. Had such been his intention, he should have had no hesitation in avowing and defending it, but in that case he should have thought proper to submit a motion of a nature totally different—he should have moved an Address to the King, entreating him to remove for ever from his councils the Ministers by whom his confidence had been abused. It appeared extraordinary that an observation of that nature should have proceeded from such a quarter. Those who called themselves the supporters of Ministers cast upon them a censure the most severe, an imputation the most dishonourable, by representing that a motion for an inquiry into the state of the country would, if successful, have the effect of removing Ministers from office. Was it then admitted by those persons, that error was so plain and palpable, mismanagement so gross and glaring, on the part of Ministers, that their dismissal from office must be the result of inquiry? What would be thought of any officer in a public department, who, being charged with mismanagement, should say, 'For Heaven's sake don't enter upon any inquiry, I shall be dismissed?' If inquiry should confirm the statement made in that extraordinary document, the Speech of the Lords' Commissioners, at the opening of the Session, and recapitulated also in the speech of the noble Duke, to the effect that the distress of the country was partial and temporary, arising from unfavourable seasons, and not caused by Legislative enactments, such a result far from being injurious or embarrassing to Ministers, would be extremely 930 gratifying to them. If Ministers were sincere in the opinions which they expressed, —if they conscientiously believed that the Speech delivered from the Throne gave a true exposition of the present state of the country (which could not be the case unless they were entirely ignorant on the subject), it would be their interest, as well as their duty, to enter upon an inquiry, rather than to shelter themselves behind a majority, which would be possessed by any other individuals holding the same situations and enjoying the same patronage. He thought that the friends of the noble Duke, from the personal veneration which all entertained for him, must most heartily desire an inquiry into the present most awful and alarming situation of public affairs, which brought disgrace on his administration, and destruction on all the interests of the country. The illustrious name of the noble Duke would be conveyed to posterity as the warrior by whose great skill the deliverance of Europe had been accomplished: he hoped it would not also be conveyed to posterity as the name of the Minister under whose guidance the ruin of the country had been consummated. The situation of the country was such as no man could contemplate, without horror and dismay. The sufferings of the agriculturists excited no sympathy, probably because their complaints had been uttered in respectful language; for recent experience had shown, that if they had formed associations, collected rents, and adopted the language of menace and intimidation, they would have been carefully attended to. What, he would ask, was the situation of the agriculture of the country at present? The rents, which were still paid in some parts of the country,—for they were by no means paid in all parts of it,—were paid, not from the profits of the farm, but from the capital of the farmer. Let not such of their Lordships as had been fortunate enough to receive their rents at their last audit lay the flattering unction to their souls that they would be equally fortunate at their next. They must be aware, that already had many tenants been driven from their farms, and consigned to bankruptcy and beggary,—that the capital of others was daily extorted from them to meet their current expenses, and that when that capital should be exhausted, their ruin, as well as that of the landowners, would be consummated. He knew that there were 931 many landowners who possessed incomes from the funds, from houses, from canals, and from various other sources,— he knew that their situation was therefore different from those who had no other means of support than those which they derived from land; he knew that they might, therefore, be indifferent to the continuance of the distress in which the landed interest was at present involved. To such persons he would say, that, whatever they might be inclined to do with their own rents, they had no right to dispose of the capital of their tenants. He was well aware that it had been said, that the remedy for the existing distress of agriculture was to be found in a reduction of rents, a species of advice which was daily given by those who had no rent to receive, and, indeed, no rent to pay save that of house-rent. He would admit to those persons that when every species of agricultural produce was diminished in value, a reduction of rent was not only just but necessary: but then he would bid them recollect that such a reduction would only transfer the pressure from the land-occupier to the land-owner; and that as such pressure would compel the land-owner to reduce his establishment, and to cast out of employment many of those who at present depended upon him for subsistence, it would only tend to aggravate the distress which arose from want of work. But the reduction of rents was talked of as if it were a new system. Was that the case? Certainly not. Rents had been already reduced fifty per cent; and it was not to be supposed that the process of reduction could be continued ad infinitum. Besides, in some cases no rent was paid at present; and where no rent was paid, he should like to know how it could be reduced. He would remind their Lordships that, according to a statement which had recently been made at a large public meeting, and which had hitherto remained uncontradicted, the expenses of an acre of arable land, exclusive of the rent, exceeded by 6s. the returns derived from it; so that the owner lost his rent, and the occupier the labour which he bestowed upon it. Was this the result of unfavourable seasons? It was a curious circumstance that the noble Duke referred the source of our present distress to the prevalence of unfavourable seasons, and that the late Earl of Liverpool had attributed the agricultural distress of 1822 to a long continuance of 932 favourable seasons, which had created what he was pleased to call a superabundance of produce. Curious as the contrast between the opinions of these noblemen was, it would be most ludicrous, if the subject were not in its results most lamentable. One of the worst consequences of the existing agricultural distress was the constant increase of the, Poor-rates, which bore upon the landed interest with a pressure which was almost incredible, and quite intolerable. He knew that in that fertile district of England, the vale of Aylesbury, the Poor-rates were in the proportion of 30s. an acre. What, then, could remain to be divided as profit between the landlord and the tenant? Their Lordships would also recollect the statement which had been made on a former evening by a noble Viscount (Torrington), respecting the condition of the parish of Mereworth, in which he resided. It appeared from that statement—he quoted from memory, for he had not a copy of it—that the amount of the local assessments in that parish reached within 40l.of the amount of its whole rental. He himself was acquainted with a parish in Sussex, where all the proceeds of the land in the parish did not suffice to maintain the poor, and where they had been obliged to apply to neighbouring parishes to give them relief. He therefore implored their Lordships to look at the course in which the country was advancing, and to consider what was the first stage on their road to ruin. The first stage—a stage which he was afraid that they had almost reached—was, that the landed proprietors were not the real possessors of their own estates, but held them as trustees for a large and increasing number of fundholders. The next stage, which was not far distant from the first, was, that the class of persons, supported at the public expense, and unable from a defalcation of the rents paid to the landed proprietors to obtain the comforts to which they had been long accustomed, would demand, and by their superior numbers would endeavour to force, a partition of the land. Their Lordships were already acquainted with the deplorable state of the labourers in more than one district of the country. Their Lordships must have seen that they had been degraded to the level of beasts of burthen, and had been yoked like cattle to the wain, to draw loads from one place to another. Was that a situation to which their Lordships wished to see labourers 933 reduced in England,—in that country which boasted of its free Constitution, and which looked down with an eye of compassion on the condition of its neighbours? These evils were not, however, confined to England; they extended also to Ireland, as he would prove by an extract from an old and valued friend of his, who resided in the county of Cork. He had been informed that a Minister of the Crown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had expressed himself in another place to this effect:—"It was not to be denied that there was a great and severe pressure of distress in the manufacturing and agricultural parts of the United Kingdom; and if he excepted some portions from that description, it was because he believed that there were parts which so far from being visited with such a calamity were enjoying a comparative state of ease and comfort. It was observable that the hon. Baronet (Sir E. Knatchbull) had confined his statements to England only, but he omitted noticing that part of the United Kingdom which at all times had commanded much of the care and attention of the House, he alluded to Ireland. If the hon. Baronet had investigated the state of the agricultural produce of that Kingdom, he would have found that great prosperity and comfort were existing, and he would have found that there were parts of this country in which much of the distress that existed had arisen from the free introduction of Irish produce; so that in proportion as one part of the kingdom was depressed, at least another portion was benefited and advanced."* It was said, that this statement had been made in a certain patriotic assembly where a hundred Irish gentlemen had seats, every one of whom must have known that the statement was false. The noble Earl then proceeded to read the letter to which he had before alluded. The writer of it stated that in Bantry the wages paid to the labouring population did not exceed 6d. a-day, and that out of a population of twelve thousand persons a great number were destitute of employment, and four thousand were in a state of starvation; that in Cork nine thousand persons were in a similar situation; and that the distress in that place and neighbourhood was daily increasing. The writer likewise described the deplorable condition of the* See the Debate on the Address.—p. 89.934 agricultural interest in Ireland, owing to a fall in the prices of different articles of agricultural produce, which he enumerated, varying from 30 to 45 per cent, and stated that in consequence of this depreciation the cottiers and shopkeepers were compounding their debts, seldom offering or paying more than 2s. or 3s. in the pound. All the labouring classes, it was stated, were in the greatest distress, and their misery was augmenting daily. The writer likewise added, that he had received several notices from his tenants of their intention to surrender farms, on which fines had always been paid thirty years ago. The noble Earl, after he had finished the perusal of this Letter, proceeded to say, that if such a state of things was not speedily remedied, it must inevitably terminate in anarchy and ruin. He would then advert to the condition of the manufacturing population. Did any man exist, asked the noble Earl, with a heart in his bosom, who could contemplate without sorrow to which no sound could give expression, the situation of those manufacturers who were unable to earn more than 2d. a-day? It behoved their Lordships, and it behoved the Ministers of the Crown too, to consider how long it would be practicable to preserve tranquillity among so many distressed and suffering; individuals who had little to lose, and little, he might add, to fear. Their Lordships would also find that the manufacturing labourers who were employed, were employed at a rate of wages which, compared with the value of the article on which they were employed, was quite deceptive. He knew, that at Birmingham one of the staple articles of its manufacture had fallen in price to one half of its former value; but the wages of the workmen employed upon it had fallen in a still greater proportion, and did not now exceed one-fourth part of their former amount. The noble Duke might perhaps say that this arose from the application of the powers of steam to machinery. He was aware of the effect which the application of steam to machinery had produced upon the labouring classes. He was aware that it had deprived thousands of them of employment—and he was likewise aware that it had not been attended by all the benefits to the master-manufacturers which were generally attributed to it, in consequence of the great, addition which, by throwing men out of employment, it 935 had made to the Poor-rates. But their Lordships had been talked to upon this subject, just as if the application of steam to machinery had only been introduced into our manufactories since the close of last Session. How stood the fact? Why, power-looms had been introduced years ago, and therefore the noble Duke was not justified in attributing the existing distress to that source. Besides, the noble Duke, if he had taken the trouble of seeking for proper information, would have found out, that of late years the employment of power-looms had not been much in favour even with the master-manufacturers. One would likewise suppose, from the noble Duke's argument, that though the labourers were suffering distress from the extensive introduction of machinery, the master-manufacturers would derive benefit from it. But how stood the fact? The master-manufacturers were greatly distressed, and in many instances were unable to realize the slightest profit from the most unwearied employment of their skill and capital. A great deal had been said of late about excessive production. Now, when their Lordships found there were large classes in the community deprived of the comforts of life, which they would gladly purchase if they had the means, he thought that the distress should be attributed, not to an excess of production, but to a deficiency of consumption. He knew that there might occasionally he a glut in the market, but to suppose that manufacturers would go on producing articles for which there was no demand, and no sale, was to suppose that they were ignorant of the ordinary rules of business, and that they were without any prudence to guide their conduct. The noble Duke had informed their Lordships, in that elaborate production which had lately been read to them,— he meant the Speech from the Throne,— that the export in the last year of British produce and manufactures exceeded that of any former year. Now the noble Duke should know that this test of the prosperity of the country was extremely fallacious. He did not mean to deny that the quantity, as declared by the official value, had increased; but he meant to contend that the quantity, as measured by its real value, had very considerably decreased. He trusted that the noble Duke would agree with him that the profit of the merchant depended upon the quantity and the price. 936 [The Duke of Wellington nodded assent.] If so, the noble Duke ought to have shown, if he wished to make any just impression upon the nation, that not only the official, but that the real value, also, of the export had increased. Now the manufacturers of England were ready to prove, if need were, at the bar of their Lordships, that not only the external, but that the internal trade of the country, was conducted at present without profit. He believed that the noble Duke would not deny that goods which had been sent to another hemisphere, and which had been offered there in vain to sale, had been reimported into this country and sold here at immense loss. [The Duke of Wellington intimated his assent.] How could such a fact be reconciled with that prosperity which the noble Duke had stated to be prevailing in certain parts of this great commercial community? It was easy for any man to say, that it was not possible for Parliament to prevent competition with our manufacturers in foreign markets. He admitted this to be the case—but what then? The Legislature ought to encourage, and not depress the home-market, which was at once the most secure and the most extensive of all the markets we could command, consuming goods estimated by some at nine-tenths, and never estimated at less than four-fifths of the whole amount of our manufactured goods. With respect to the foreign trade of the country, he wished their Lordships to turn their attention to the state of our trade with our Colonies in the West Indies. According to information which he had received lately from a great West-India proprietor—and which might or might not be correct (he had no means of deciding on it; but. a noble Lord opposite who was a West-India proprietor might be able to inform their Lordships whether it were accurate or not), acccording to information which he had lately received, the tax on the higher description of Sugar was upwards of one hundred per cent of its value, which left a profit of only 2s. per cent on the higher Sugars, and no profit at all on the inferior Sugars. What was the state, he would ask, of the Shipping-interest? The ship-owners found it impossible to carry on their business, for not only did they not realise any profit, they could hot keep their ships at sea without incurring a loss; and many of them of late years had preferred parting with their 937 ships at a sacrifice of forty per cent, to continuing to hold them at the risk of incurring a loss still greater. To this lamentable state was that interest reduced to which our ancestors attached so much importance, which was essential to our maritime commerce and greatness, and to our insular protection and defence. He had thus placed before their Lordships the existing condition of our agriculture, our manufactures, and our trade; and in surveying the situation and circumstances of all these important interests, they would find no ray of hope or comfort to remove the general gloom in which they were all involved. The noble Duke, however, had discovered one topic of consolation for their Lordships. He had found out that there had been an increased traffic upon our canals, and that the tonnage employed upon them in the last year had exceeded the tonnage of former years. When the noble Duke referred to such topics of consolation as that, he must himself have been in a state of great distress for want of arguments. He did not know whether this amount of tonnage was proved by official returns, or whether it merely rested on a memorandum of the noble Duke's own; but let it rest on what grounds it might, one thing was at least clear—that no satisfactory inference or conclusion could be drawn from it. The noble Duke would not deny that the same effect would be produced if the goods had been shipped upon speculation, and had been hawked about for sale from one part of the country to another. That would give the semblance of increased traffic, but would not be a criterion of increased prosperity. Then, said the noble Duke, "look at the new houses which are springing up on all sides of you; those who pay rent for them cannot be distressed." One would suppose from such an argument that the noble Duke, who had travelled in the course of last summer through a large portion of the country, had not travelled beyond the Bills of Mortality. New houses might have been built, but they had not been built by the productive classes. He had not heard of any new mills having been erected,—of any new manufactories having been formed,—of any new buildings having sprung up, which were connected with the industry of the productive classes, or were useful in promoting their welfare; and till he did hear of such a desirable 938 consummation, he should deny the validity of the noble Duke's argument on the number of new houses which had been erected in the metropolis. But then, said the noble Duke, "the retail dealers throughout the metropolis are not distressed." He (Earl Stanhope) would admit that there were many retail dealers in London who were not distressed; but if the question were put to him as to their condition throughout the whole country, he would reply that it could be proved beyond a shadow of doubt, that the retail dealers were in great distress, and especially in Ireland, where they were compounding their debts at the low rate of 2s. or 3s. in the pound. But to what did the argument of the noble Duke amount at best? It never was contended by any person that every man in the country was in a distressed situation. If such were the case, he much doubted whether those whom he was then addressing would be sitting in that place as a House of Lords. Who had ever said that the fundholders and the annuitants were distressed? They might continue to flourish like rank and noxious weeds among the general ruin which surrounded them. But even the fundholders and persons with fixed incomes, were injured by the prevailing distress; not that the value of their incomes was not at present increased, but that the security of those incomes was materially diminished. That security depended on the state of the Revenue, and that Revenue it was said, in the Speech from the Throne, was on the decrease. The words of the Speech were—"The national income during the last year has not attained the full amount at which it had been estimated." Would it not have been fairer to have stated that it had fallen short of the amount of former years.
§ Earl Stanhope
contended, that if the statements which were periodically published of the Revenue were to be depended upon (and the noble Duke knew better than he did whether they were to be depended on or not) there was a falling-off of the Revenue of the last year as compared with that of the former, of 1,300,000l. The Speech, however, expressed an opinion that "the diminution was not such as to cause doubts as to the future prosperity of the Revenue." Now, whatever doubts there might be upon that 939 point three weeks ago, those doubts must be much increased now, if the information which he had received was correct, that the Revenue was decreasing week by week, and particularly in the Excise, which was generally considered to be the best criterion of the prosperity and comfort of the nation. It was impossible that the Revenue should do otherwise than decline, as it was founded upon a consumption which was daily decreasing. He would therefore ask noble Lords whether, when they saw in the country a general state of distress, affecting every branch of industry,—affecting the security of annuitants, and of those who derived their incomes from the funds,—affecting the public Revenue to a great extent; he would ask noble Lords, whether, when they saw this distress, they were not to inquire as to the causes from which it originated? Was it to be attributed, as it had been attributed by the noble Duke, to some epidemical disorder, new in its nature, and tremendous in its ravages, which affected at one and the same time all the interests of the country? It was said in the Speech from the Throne that the distress was only partial,—that it prevailed only among the agricultural and manufacturing classes in some parts of the United Kingdom—such was the language of the Royal Speech: but he should wish to know where that part of the country was, in which no distress was to be found. He contended that the distress was nearly universal, and that its tendency, unless it should be checked was, continually to increase. The effects of a general distress such as now afflicted this country became, under such circumstances, causes of its aggravation. He conceived that there was no hope so fallacious as the supposition that the great and intolerable distress under which this country at present suffered, could be remedied by being left to itself, and that it would not go on progressively increasing and becoming more and more intolerable every day, if some means were not adopted to arrest its course. The present situation of things in this country was the most alarming, he would say, that had ever been witnessed in any period of our history. He would not except times that had passed by, and which he was himself old enough in some degree to remember,—not even the period of the French Revolution; and if called upon to do so, he was quite confident that 940 he should be able to prove to the perfect satisfaction of their Lordships, that the state of the country was more perilous at present than it had been then or at any former period. The times to which he alluded were those when extensive conspiracies were formed throughout this country—when a rebellion was actually raging in Ireland—when,a mutiny had broken out in our fleet, and when revolutionary doctrines were industriously circulated throughout the country. But, with all these appalling circumstances in the state of public affairs, there was one peculiarity then in the condition of the country which unhappily did not now characterize it. The great majority of the industrious classes of this country were then prosperous, happy, and contented; and not, as now, afflicted with intolerable distress, which naturally exciting general discontent, might unhappily hereafter, should no means be adopted to remove the cause of it, break out into general disaffection. Never, he would say, was there a period of our history in which more painful consequences were likely to arise than the present. It, therefore, materially behaved their Lordships to endeavour to ascertain the causes of the prevailing distress, with a view to its removal. In the Speech from the Throne, to which he had already referred, in that clear and luminous document, they had been informed that this distress was attributable to unfavourable seasons, and to other causes over which Parliament had no control. Now, he would contend, on the contrary, that it was their bounden duty to endeavour to ascertain what the real causes of the distress were, in order that they might be enabled to judge how far it was possible for them to apply a remedy to it. It was their duty to institute an inquiry into the causes of the distress with which the people of this country were afflicted. Such an inquiry was called for in order to satisfy the people of England; and he would tell their Lordships, that the people would not, and ought not to remain patient under such intolerable sufferings as they now experienced, if no inquiry should take place, and if no attempt should be made to grant them relief. It was also necessary for their Lordships to enter upon the inquiry which he proposed, in order to ascertain what remedies were applicable to the present appalling state of things. As to the nature of those remedies, he should ab- 941 stain from giving an opinion at present. All he asked for was, an inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining them; and such an inquiry appeared to him the more called for now, as the Speech from the Throne made it evident that there existed no intention on the part of his Majesty's Government to propose any remedy whatever for the consideration of Parliament. In that Speech, though not in words, at all events in effect, there was an admission on the part of his Majesty's Ministers, that they had no remedy to propose. He knew he might be asked, what good would result from such an inquiry? To that he would answer, that the good to result from it must depend upon the mode and spirit in which such an inquiry should be conducted; and he would ask in return, whether the evils which at present existed might not be increased if such an inquiry should be refused?—whether it might not appear to the people of this country that, in refusing such an inquiry, their Lordships were deserting their duty, and neglecting the interests of the country?—and whether by such a refusal they would not be likely to incur the well-merited reproaches and even hatred of the people of England? He was not about to propose the appointment of a Select Committee for the purpose of making this inquiry. Whatever advantages might result from the appointment of Select Committees upon other occasions, in the present instance the case was of two pressing urgency and too paramount importance, to admit of the delays incidental to such a mode of inquiry. The great minuteness of investigation, such as was now carried on before the Select Committee upon the East-India Trade, he conceived would be totally impracticable, and was besides quite unnecessary in this instance. Some mode of affording immediate relief was indispensably required, and a minute and detailed inquiry would only waste the time with unprofitable investigations which ought to be employed in administering relief. If a Select Committee were appointed, what would be the consequence? The noble Duke opposite (the First Lord of the Treasury) would of course take the selection of that Committee into his own hands, and he would take care who should and who should not be named upon it. Many of the noble Lords appointed upon such a Committee might never attend its sittings, while the noble and official Lords opposite, 942 who would be carefully included amongst the Members of that Committee, and who would not fail to be punctual in their attendance, would, no doubt, by the weight and authority attached to their situations, control the opinions and guide the decisions of such a Committee. Much useless discussion would be gone into; witnesses, probably, would be called from all parts of the country, and examined day after day, de omnibus rebus et quibusdam aliis, and a mass of evidence would be collected which nobody would ever read. The final result would be, that, after a minute and uselessly protracted investigation, the Committee would terminate its labours by the production of a voluminous report, perhaps establishing the fact, of which all persons had been previously aware, viz. the universality of the distress under which the country suffered, and concluding with the statement that the Committee had no remedy to propose for its relief. It was necessary that such an inquiry should be conducted fairly, openly, and publicly; and it was with that view that he meant to propose that it should be conducted before a Committee of the whole House, who might consider the resolutions which would be offered, discuss their various details, have evidence laid before them as to any facts that admitted of doubt, and have any practical question, with regard to which it might be desirable to obtain additional information, elucidated by the evidence of persons practically acquainted with it. In that way he conceived that great advantages would be derived from the discussion of the various resolutions which might be laid before them. All the various causes of the distress would be investigated and ascertained, and in that way they were more likely than by any other mode of proceeding to arrive at the real source of the distress and at the proper remedy for its removal. If he were asked what specific remedy he had to propose, he would reply, that his first object was to have the inquiry instituted, and that he would leave the suggestion of the remedy to emanate from the Committee itself. But if his proposition should be unsuccessful, and if no inquiry should take place, then it would be his duty, as well as that of other noble Lords, to lay such suggestions as should appear to them best adapted to the present state of affairs before their Lordships in the shape of a series of reso- 943 lutions. If he should, however, succeed in his present Motion, he trusted that the noble Duke opposite would not object to the discussion of such resolutions where they could be most conveniently and advantageously discussed, in a Committee of the whole House. If his Majesty's Ministers should oppose this Motion, such opposition would manifest a desire on the part of Government to object to a full and fair investigation of this important subject. He knew it would be said by many who spoke without thinking, and who appeared to be totally unconscious of the meaning of what they said, that a proceeding of this kind would only encourage false hopes among the people of this country. He could assure their Lordships that the people of this country had not that degree of confidence in Parliament which would induce them to form either false or well-founded hopes in consequence of any thing that their Lordships might do. He would ask, if it were dangerous to encourage false hopes, would it not be still more dangerous to tell the people of this country that no hopes whatever existed, and that his Majesty's Government had no intention to propose any measure for their relief, or for the redress of the grievances under which they suffered so severely? If any one thing more than another was to be deprecated, it was, that the people of this country should be led to suppose that an indisposition existed on the part of Parliament, or the Government, to enter upon an investigation of their grievances, with a view to redress them. But it had been said, that the disease of the body politic, if left to itself, might work its own cure. He certainly believed that, sooner or latter, it would do so. He believed that the evil, if left to itself, would work its own cure—a complete radical cure, and one most agreeable to all Radicals; for he was convinced it would finally terminate by uprooting the foundations, and levelling in the dust all the institutions of the country. The noble Duke opposite had said upon a former night, that this country was in a rapidly advancing state, and he (Lord Stanhope) perfectly concurred in that observation; but what was the state to which they were advancing? They were rapidly advancing to a state of general depression, to a state of national bankruptcy, to a general disorganization, and at no distant period to a total dissolution of the body politic It was to arrest the 944 progress to such a frightful state of things that he called upon their Lordships to enter upon inquiry, and then to examine what were the causes of the present distress, and whether or not they were beyond Legislative remedy or control. The question was shortly and simply this— whether or not it was the duty of Parliament to enter upon an investigation of the present state of the country? He was convinced, that by investigating the state of the country properly, and by examining into the real causes of the distress, it might be in the power of Parliament to effect much immediate good, and in the end to apply an effectual and permanent remedy to evils under which the country had long suffered. It was upon such grounds that he moved for this inquiry. In doing so he had done his duty; it now remained for their Lordships to do theirs; and for the discharge of that duty their Lordships were answerable to their consciences, and might, perhaps, hereafter be also answerable to their country. The noble Earl concluded by moving, That the House should resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House to take into consideration the internal State of the Country.
§ Viscount Goderich
In the opposition which I shall have to make to the Motion of the noble Earl I feel that I have to perform an ungracious, and, perhaps, an unpopular task; and certainly I am under no obligation to be the first to offer any remarks in opposition to this Committee, as that would rather be expected to be the part of some member of the Government. If I had consulted my own ease, I should have abstained from the course which I am pursuing; but if, before the House entered on the consideration of this measure, I felt considerable doubt as to the propriety of concurring in the proposition of the noble Earl, I must confess that the speech we have just heard has most materially confirmed that resolution. I must confess, also, that I did not at all expect that the noble Earl would have confined himself on this occasion to the description of a state of things which no one can attempt to deny—I mean the general distress which prevails in the country, and the duty which lies on your Lordships to do the best in your power to alleviate and relieve that distress. I expected that he would have proceeded to slate something as to the causes which, in his view, had 945 produced that distress, and something of the notions which he entertains as to the practicability of finding a remedy for it. I do not say that it was incumbent on any individual to submit to your Lordships a specific remedy; but when the noble Earl has proposed a course of proceeding so inconvenient in itself, and so inadequate to bring the subject fully under discussion —superficial as the noble Earl makes that out to be—I think that, before we consent to such an inquiry, we have a right to know what it is we are to inquire about. In the course of his speech, the noble Earl has taken occasion to treat with contempt the principle of Select Committees, and has particularly noticed one which is now sitting.
§ Earl Stanhope
I beg pardon. I particularly said, that for such an inquiry as that into the affairs of India, a Select Committee might do.
§ Viscount Goderich
Just so; but then the noble Earl proceeded to describe the proceedings of such a Committee in a somewhat contemptuous style; and though he has complained that the conduct of this House is not such as to command the respect of the country, I must say that the noble Earl's own description is not calculated to raise us in the estimation of the public. It, however, strikes me that it would be easy to describe the proceedings of a Committee of the whole House in terms as ludicrous as those which have fallen from the noble Earl with respect to a Select Committee. It has not been my fortune, since I have been a Member of this House, to attend a Committee of the whole House on any important subject; but do not the King's Ministers sit in a Committee of the whole House? Are not the followers of Government on the same benches, then, which they always occupy? In short, I have heard no objection against a Select Committee which may not be urged with ten times the force against the plan proposed by the noble Earl. Surely, then, no imputation of want of feeling is to be brought against any one for objecting to the mode of proceeding proposed by the noble Earl. According to my view of the case, it has one remarkable objection. He tells you that a Select Committee would go into minuteness of detail, but that a Committee of the whole House would only look at general features. But if we suppose that the people of England are to be satisfied with such a superficial 946 inquiry, little do we understand either of their interests or their feelings. When the noble Earl says that if we refuse this inquiry, the people of England will conclude that we reject their prayer, and that we have shut our eyes, our ears, and our hearts to their sufferings. I say that such is an unjust imputation; and I shall endeavour, before I sit down, to show that although I dissent from many of the noble Earl's doctrines on this subject, I do not believe that the Parliament is incapable or unwilling to effect, to a certain extent, the direct and immediate relief of the people, and of laying a foundation of great and permanent good to the interests of the country. In saying this, I am not arrogating to myself the merit of any new discovery or plan; but I think that I am able to point out a mode by which immediate relief may be afforded, and a foundation laid for great permanent advantages hereafter. I am willing to admit that my views on this subject may be wrong, and that I may be too sanguine in what I am looking forward to; but at least I have a right to claim for myself and for Parliament, an exemption from that censure and reproach which the noble Earl has cast upon us; and I am ready to place myself at the bar, not only of this House, but of the country, demanding an acquittal of the charge of having been neglectful of the interests of the country. I admit that the distress of the country is general; I admit that it is more severe in some respects than at any former period; and when I reflect on one circumstance to which the noble Earl has alluded—the exemplary patience and resignation with which the people have borne their suffer-ings—I know not what feelings can have possession of a man's mind, if he do not feel it to be a duty—outweighing and transcendant to all others—to apply his best and most earnest energies to relieve this distress. But there are considerations out of which may arise the possibility of applying some degree of alleviation of our present sufferings. And first as to the causes. It is not my intention to fatigue your Lordships by entering into any learned dissertations on the infinite variety of causes which may have tended to cripple the industry of the country, and to inflict poverty and wretchedness on its people. There are some of them, no doubt, which are beyond the reach, as the Speech from the Throne expressed it, of 947 Legislative interference. This country, was for upwards of twenty-five years, in a most singularly artificial state; and indeed every country during the same period was more or less in the same state. It was totally impossible, therefore, when that artificial state ceased, that all the interests of the country should not partake of the revulsion which was the consequence; and believe that this country, having been affected more than any other by those artificial circumstances, has felt this revulsion the most severely. The universal peace after a long continuance of general war, tended directly and necessarily to produce an equality of price for all articles of common consumption throughout the commercial world. Prices having been more artificially raised here during the war than elsewhere, sunk in proportion. One of the consequences thus produced was, that the country no longer enjoyed and could not maintain those high prices, of which so many persons appear to be enamoured, and which appear to be in great favour with the noble Earl. But, besides this, there are two other causes— the state of the currency, and the state of taxation which affect the country; and I cannot but think that it is possible for Parliament to apply—not perhaps an instantaneous—but at all events a material relief. First, then, as to the currency. Though I never entertained a doubt that the safety of the country depended on the restoration of the metallic currency, I never for a moment concealed from myself that such a course would be accompanied with great pressure upon the people. I always looked upon it as choosing the lesser evil rather than the greater. But there are some circumstances connected with the currency which ought to lead us to conclude that it is not yet in the state in which it ought to be. I allude to the state of the metallic currency, exclusive of the paper of the Bank of England. The noble Duke, the other night, stated that the amount of this currency now in circulaiton was equal to what it had been at any former period. It may or may not be so. But it appears to me to be difficult to come at any positive conclusion on the subject. But, at all events, I think that this matter does not depend on the actual quantity of the circulation, but on a great variety of other considerations, owing to a change in which, the circulation, which was at one time too little, may at another 948 time be too much. In the statement on the currency made by the noble Duke the other night, I think he counted one portion of it twice over; that is to say, I think, when he mentioned twenty-eight millions of gold, he did not apprehend that a certain portion of that must be in the coffers of the Bank of England.
§ The Duke of Wellington
My statement of the amount was independent of what was retained by the Bank.
§ Viscount Goderich
I am glad to hear that, for I then have to give the Bank credit for a more judicious management than I otherwise think it would have deserved. But, setting aside that part of the question, I think that the currency is not only insufficient, but that it is unnecessarily limited, and that it might be increased without the slightest danger to the country. I know no criterion by which we are so well to judge of the proper amount of the circulation as by the state of our foreign exchanges. For the last eighteen months those foreign exchanges have been highly in favour of this country, and till the exchanges shall be against us, it appears to me that the currency cannot be too full. The maxim we should adopt on this head ought to be, to keep it, "without o'erflowing, full," and I think that it is desirable to have in this country as large a supply as may be consistent with this principle. The view which I take of the distresses of the country leads me, I confess, to the opinion that those distresses are in part to be attributed to the imperfect system of banking which prevails out of the metropolis. In my judgment, the issues of the country bankers are not regulated by those principles which are likely to prove advantageous to themselves or beneficial to the country. When times of difficulty arrive, the issuers of the country paper immediately take alarm, and contract their circulation with a timidity unfounded and ruinous; and when the prospects of the commercial world undergo a change they immediately begin to issue on a scale so extended as well deserving to be described as rash. If I am asked what remedy I would recommend for this evil, it is this, give increased facility to the establishment of banks. It must, of course, be in the recollection of your Lordships, that after the panic in the year 1826—a panic, the grounds of which were much exaggerated, and the effects not fairly represented—I 949 say, my Lords, that after that panic, the two measures his Majesty's Government, with which I was then connected, proposed to Parliament were, first, an earlier suppression of the one-pound notes than had been assigned by law; the second was, an Act for facilitating the formation of new banks, under the regulations and the principles of Joint Stock Companies. Previous to that time the law had restricted the number of partners engaged in private banking concerns in England to six; but Lord Liverpool, who had well considered the subject, and who, above most men, was well qualified to form a sound judgment upon questions of that nature had come to a different conclusion, and the decision at which he arrived was, to recommend to your Lordships, as it was mine to recommend to the other House of Parliament, a bill for facilitating the establishment of Country Banks upon the principle of Joint Stock Companies. That measure was necessarily imperfect, and for the simple reason, that we could not induce the Bank of England to relax its privileges to the degree that was necessary for giving a fair opportunity for trial to the plan proposed by Government at the period to which I advert. Since then we have been brought within three years of the period when the Bank Charter will expire. Now, though nothing can be further from my mind than pretending to say anything of the mode in which Parliament ought to deal with that subject, I will take the liberty of saying, that it will be impossible that your Lordships should ever agree that the Charter of that Corporation be renewed, unless it give greater facilities than heretofore to the formation of Joint Stock Banking Companies. It is utterly impossible that the Bank of England should supply all the currency of the country; and the proof that it cannot do so is to be found in this, that it has done all in its power for that purpose—it has established branch banks, and done every thing else it could, but without success. My persuasion is, that nothing will better supply the existing vacuum in the currency, than the establishment of banks upon the Scotch system. I do believe, that the extensive adoption of that system would have the effect of safely and instantly filling the vacuum. Such banks would proceed upon principles very different from those which govern the present class of country 950 banks. No one bank knows anything of the manner in which other banks carry on business. The whole of them again, know nothing of what is going forward in the Bank of England, and the Government remains in perfect ignorance of the operations of all. Hence arise the most complicated and monstrous difficulties; but of the sort of banks of which I speak, publicity would be their essence; and, from the number of persons concerned in them, the fullest information would be possessed,' and the whole would thus be directed, respecting the course they ought to adopt by the variations of foreign exchanges, and the vibrations of that golden chain upon which so much depends. A body so formed could easily discern the earliest approaches of danger; and from them such contractions of their issues might be expected, as a sound and broad acquaintance with the subject might be expected to supply, their conduct being corrected and canvassed by a numerous proprietary. At all events, whatever be adopted, the Banking system must be put upon a footing safe and substantial, such as will, on the one hand prevent over issues, and on the other guard against unwise and dangerous contraction. It was with views of this sort that the measures of 1826 were proposed; but, as I have already said, they were rendered inefficient by the Directors of the Bank feeling it to be their duty to refuse their assent to any relaxation of the privileges of which their Charter had put them in possession. Notwithstanding that this refusal acted so prejudicially upon the establishment of Joint Stock Banks, seven or eight were set up, and, I believe, at the present moment are doing considerable business; but the number is too small to be productive of any extensive benefit, and this disadvantage is obviously owing to the existence of those restrictions which the privileges of the Bank of England impose. In making this statement, I by no means wish to convey any censure upon the conduct of the Bank of England. I have had much communication with the Directors of that Corporation during the few years that I was connected with his Majesty's Government; and the results of that communication, combined with other circumstances, have left the fullest conviction on my mind of the earnest desire which they entertain not only to discharge the obligations they owe to their constituents, 951 but to do all in their power to promote the public good, in fulfilling the difficult, serious, delicate, and at times awful duties, which they are called on to perform. I should do them great injustice if I did not state, that even when I thought them in error, and looked upon their conduct as injudicious, I still saw most palpably manifested a disposition, an earnest desire, to do justice to their own proprietors and the public. The next subject to which I desire to direct your Lordships' attention, is that of taxation. It will be remembered that at no time have I joined in those indiscreet attacks which at different periods have been made upon the King's Government to reduce taxation. Perhaps it will be said, and not unnaturally, that the situation which I held for some years rendered me the least likely of all men to join in those attacks; indeed it was my duty for some years to resist them; but I think that resistance was not carried beyond the proper limit. During a short period of my connection with Government, it was my fortune, as its organ in the other House, to propose the repeal of 9,000,000l. of taxes; and now I will call your Lordships' attention to the practical effect of that reduction. If the consumption of the taxed commodities had remained the same, the Revenue of the country would have been reduced to the amount of 9,000,000l. What, however, was the fact? The accounts of 1827 showed that there was a loss of only 3,000,000l. and the succeeding year was only 2,000,000l. below the income of 1827. I need scarcely, then, my Lords, praise the wisdom of those reductions; the more especially when I state the fact that the Revenue did not suffer to the extent of the reductions—nay, that the loss to the public income bore no proportion to the relief given from taxation. It was all along stated that there would be a certain loss, and it was foreseen that that loss would not equal the reduction; but there were few beyond those by whom the measure was proposed who anticipated so large a reduction with so small a diminution of income. To this I have to add, that in some branches of the public revenue, so far from lowered duties producing diminished receipts, the direct reverse was the effect produced—increased income followed upon reduced imposts. I allude particularly to the alteration of duties affecting Scotch and Irish Spirits. 952 When those alterations were first proposed, they were immediately objected to on the ground that the people would then have increased facilities of indulging in intemperance—that they might drink in the streets ad libitum —and that the change, though a pecuniary relief, would be a moral injury; facts, however, falsified this prediction. The parties who made it overlooked the circumstance that the change did not make legal spirits one whit more accessible than illicit spirits had previously been. On reference to returns, your Lordships will see that if consumption had remained the same, the loss to the Revenue would have been 800,000l. But not only was there no loss to the Revenue, but it was actually found to exceed former years, though the reduction of duty was as much as fifty per cent. Thus was there gain without loss—pecuniary advantage without any corresponding sacrifice. Upon such data as this, then, I might say to your Lordships, if you could spare 1,000,000l. of the public income, you might repeal 9,000,000l. of the taxes. But I cannot recommend such a large repeal at present. It appears however, from the papers presented to the other House of Parliament for the year 1828, after making the necessary deductions from both sides—from the one the reduction effected by means of the contract with the Bank of England for the payment of half-pay and pensions; and from the other side— the side of payments—the arrangement made with the Trustees of those annuities, we perceive that the balance is 3,231,000l.; that in 1829 it was 1,711,000l., making a total of 4,942,000l. The average of those two years being 2,471,000l.; and taking that average of 2,471,000l. as a fair criterion of the present year, we may assume for 1830 a balance of at least 2,470,000l. Now I think the circumstances of the country require that vigorous efforts should be made by the Government to reduce the taxes. In saying this, however, I beg to be understood as not undervaluing the reductions which have been made. I think those reductions are worth a great deal. The Estimates have been reduced 1,300,000l.; now if we add to this the estimated average reduction of 2,470,000l., it gives us in round numbers a sum of 3,700,000l. If I am asked what I should recommend to be done with that sum, I say, first, there are three modes in which it may be 953 disposed of 1st. That surplus of 3,700,000l. may be applied to the reduction of the public debt—2nd. It may be applied solely to reduce taxation— 3rd. It may be applied in a manner that shall form a combination of both modes. The last of these is that which I should think it adviseable in Parliament to adopt. While I was connected with his Majesty's Government there was at one time a surplus of 7,000,000l.; of that sum 2,000,000l. were applied to the reduction of taxation, and 5,000,000l. to the liquidation of debt. I am aware that debt and taxation cannot now be interfered with in any degree approximating to the same proportion; but I think that a reduction of taxes might be effected to the extent of 1,700,000l., leaving 2,000,000l. as a surplus to guard against contingencies, and to save the Government from the risk of being obliged to borrow money in time of peace [hear, hear, hear! from the Duke of Richmond, and one or twoother Peers]; but I conceive that an estimated surplus of 2,000,000l. will prove quite sufficient to prevent any necessity of going in debt. I should certainly be the last man in your Lordships' House to recommend so large a reduction of taxation, did I not believe that the situation of the country makes it a duty in his Majesty's Ministers to attempt that reduction. When I consider the various ways in which the taxes press upon the community, and when called upon to consider of the propriety of repealing some of them, it seems that I do no more than discharge an imperative duty in calling your Lordships' attention, first to some of the various ways in which taxation operates. It diminishes the actual amount which a consumer can afford to enjoy of the several articles taxed. In manufactures it diminishes the quantity of capital, skill and industry which can be applied to the many branches on which it directly operates, to say nothing of the encouragement which it affords to illicit practices. There is one most absurd and mischievous tax, of which I earnestly desire to see the repeal—I mean the tax upon hops. All objections to all other taxes combine themselves against the tax upon hops. Directly and at once it interferes with the produce of the soil. You might as well tax apples and pears while they are growing, or rather before they have grown to maturity, and while they are in the field, 954 for the duty is levied upon hops before the proprietor has realised a single shilling on them. There is no produce of the soil so much affected by the variations of the weather as hops. One year the duty on them may be as high as 400,000l.— the next it may suddenly drop down to 40,000l. It is for that and other reasons the most unfit object of taxation that can easily be conceived. Who can point out in our system anything more objectionable than bringing an Excise-officer into a garden? I find that the average amount of the tax on hops is 250,000l.; the repeal of that would give a positive and direct relief to a part of the country on which it peculiarly presses, and which suffers severely from the present distress. The Hop Duty, too, is so local and limited in its operation, that its severity is felt with increased force. The duties on, printed cottons too are very heavy, press most unequally, and yield a revenue, the collection of which is extremely expensive. Ireland is not affected by them—they press solely on England—and this consideration is of much importance, seeing: that Ireland is exempt from 12,000,000l. of the duties which press upon England. Then, besides this, the duties on printed cottons are levied by Excise-officers with all the cumbrous machinery of the Excise, and with all the oaths by which the collection of Excise duties is usually attended. The average amount of this duty is about 2,000,000l., of which 1,500,000l. or 1,600,000l. is annually paid back on exportation: thus the whole of these cumbrous and troublesome operations are gone through for the sake of 400,000l., for that is the average amount received by the Exchequer out of the 2,000,000l. levied. I know that there are those in this House, as there are out of it, who have no very friendly feeling towards the cotton trade, and who regard it as a monstrous evil, preying upon the vitals of the nation. But the giant has now grown up, and if not supported in full health and vigour, will consume the resources of the State, and, perhaps, ultimately bring it to the brink of ruin. As it stands at present, however, it is the staple article of our manufactures, diffusing wealth among all classes; our duty therefore is, not to allow the continuance of any tax which interferes with its prosperity, especially when that tax is so unproductive in amount and so expensive 955 in collection. There is another tax to which I shall now advert—I mean the tax upon leather. Certainly that tax is not very large in amount as compared with the value of the article taxed—it is only three-halfpence a pound upon the leather, while the value of that leather is above 15s. or 16s. a pound. But the nature of the trade causes great inconvenience to arise from this impost of which no one can form any idea who does not make himself practically acquainted with the details. He who is a tanner cannot become a currier—he must carry on his business in a particular way, he must keep his hides a certain time in the vat—so long, and no longer—he must try no experiment—he must disregard all the discoveries of modern science—chemistry becomes of no value to him—he must go on in the same beaten routine—improvement is shut out from his trade, and endless vexations imposed upon it, for the sake of a paltry tax, from which the Revenue derives but little advantage. But, repeal it, my Lords, and you will serve every class of the community as consumers; you will relieve the agricultural class in particular, as producers of the article taxed. The taxes on leather, hops, and printed cottons, amount to somewhat upwards of a million. The removal of the tax on sea-borne coals, which yields about 600,000l., would also be a great public benefit. I should also recommend a modification of the duties on beer, so as to give encouragement to the production and consumption of strong beer. The effect of the present system is, to render the operations of the Excise, as respects beer, extremely complicated, and most inconveniently to divide the business of brewing. Thus the man who brews strong beer cannot brew intermediate ale or small beer; and here, as everywhere else, comes in the whole cumbrous and objectionable machinery of oaths and penalties. The modification that I should recommend would have the effect of increasing the consumption of malt, and affording relief to the agricultural classes. In the particular cases, then, my Lords, to which I have adverted, I would say that relief can be afforded to the amount of 1,700,000l., and as far as that sum goes, it would be a substantial and beneficial relief, and might be safely ventured on. I deplore as deeply as any man, the public distress, but the conviction of the prevalence of that distress does not lead me to 956 entertain those gloomy, miserable, and hopeless views which the noble Earl endeavoured to impress upon the House. I doubt the prudence of telling the people that their condition is hopeless—I doubt the prudence of rooting out from their minds all confidence in the Legislature. When in danger I should candidly confess the amount of it; but I think there is equal folly and unfairness in telling them, on the present occasion, that their case is hopeless. All that the noble Lord recommends is inquiry, and at the same time he would have us believe that there exists in the people a disposition to treat with contempt the deliberations of the Legislature, and to place confidence neither in its wisdom nor good intentions. Neither in the course he recommends, nor in the opinions he entertains, can I bring myself to concur. There is one other point to which I have not yet adverted —I mean the expected proceedings with respect to the Charter of the East-India Company. I am the furthest in the world from wishing to anticipate the opinion of Parliament upon this great question, but it cannot be settled in any manner without great advantage to the public. Again, the present condition of Ireland is such as awakens the most brilliant hopes, and teaches us confidently to anticipate, that we shall get through our present difficulties with more ease than through any former crisis of a similar description. Formerly, when looking to that country, we saw nothing but clouds and tempests, but now the sun of liberty has arisen and the gloom of former years has passed away—and though the influence of the long continuance of bad government may yet keep back the fulness of Ireland maturing, as in the natural seasons the evil influence of the atmosphere may retard the genial progress of summer, yet the tremendous barrier which impeded her advancement has been removed, and that country—no longer unhappy Ireland—is in a fair way to establish her own prosperity, instead of being a clog upon the operations of Government, and upon the improvement of the empire at large. In the condition in which Ireland at present stands, we may soon expect to see her the scat of industry and the depositary of capital. When I state that the contribution of Ireland to the taxes of the country is only 3,800,000l., I think it will be seen that there is much room for advance; and when I call your Lordships' attention 957 to the change which has taken place in its condition, you will perceive that there is every prospect of improvement. I am not prone my Lords to indulge in a spirit of prophecy, not fond of flattering predictions, though never dealing in threats of future woe; yet I cannot help now asserting that ere long the time will come, when Ireland, hitherto a source of weakness, will administer profusely to the wealth and strength of the empire. In making these few remarks, my Lords, I have had no other motive but a desire to contribute my humble suggestions for the good of my country. If I could suppose that the Motion of the noble Earl were calculated to effect this, he should have my hearty support; but conceiving that there are other and more practical remedies within our reach, which may be, as I have stated, immediately applied by his Majesty's Government, I feel bound to oppose the Motion of the noble Earl, in the full confidence that his Majesty's Government will apply their best energies to lighten the existing evils.
§ The Duke of Richmond
, after apologising to the House for addressing them at so early a period of the Debate, said he had never heard a more convincing speech than that of the noble Earl by whom the present Motion was brought forward. He would not follow the noble Viscount who had spoken last through all the minute details into which he had entered, but he would beg the House to remember that that noble Viscount had admitted the general pressure of the distress, though the Speech from the Throne, on the first day of the Session, had distinctly stated that that distress was partial. Taxation was a self-evident cause of the distress, and the distress was acknowledged to be universal; yet the very noble Lord by whom that universality was admitted told Parliament, in 1825, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the financial condition of the country was placed upon a rock, the foundation of which could not be undermined. He was very glad to find that the noble Viscount had gained something by experience. The Government did not seem to have profited in the same manner; for it seemed even yet not to believe that the distress was felt in every part of the country in every branch of business, and felt with unparalleled severity. He thought, for his own part, that the distress was very general, and he was convinced that 958 if they did not join together to find out the causes of that distress and the remedies that ought to be applied to it, the result would be fatal to the tranquillity of the country. Several causes had been stated by different noble Lords. First, it was stated that the rents of land were too high—if upon inquiry that which he did not believe should appear to be true, namely, that high rents were one of the causes of the present distress, they might depend upon it that the country Gentlemen would maintain their high character, and would cheerfully sacrifice their own interest, and be the first to show themselves ready to serve their country at their own cost. He did not wish to use strong expressions; but as he had been in many parts of the country a witness of the distress, he might speak strongly without being liable to be supposed desirous of exciting a spirit hostile to the Government. He would assert that the condition of the people was most deplorable, and he would ask any man in that House whether their condition could remain as it was— and he would say as a Peer of Parliament that it ought not to remain as it was. In the part of the country with which he was more particularly acquainted, he could assert that men did not get remunerated for their labour as they ought. In that part of the country the labouring men were employed upon the roads at 4d. per day in some instances, and in others at 3d. per day, and were besides obliged to find their tools. Were their Lordships prepared to say that such things could go on? That was the case in Sussex; but was it the case there alone? Was it not the same in Wiltshire and Dorsetshire, and indeed throughout all the agricultural districts? He did not believe that the distress of the labouring men was owing to the farmers, who were themselves nearly crushed by the difficulties of the times, by the taxes, by the Poor-rates, and by the county-rates, all of which they were hardly able to pay, and which were increasing every day by general causes and by Legislative enactments. These men were loyal to their King, and obedient to the laws, and they sought not to intimidate, but they asked from their Lordships that inquiry which it seemed to him they had an actual right to demand. Who was there that had not read, and having read, who did not feel deeply, those facts which were seen every day in 959 the newspapers—that peasants, guiltless of any crime, were harnessed to waggons, and degraded to the labour of brutes? [hear] This cruel occurrence was frequently witnessed, not only in Chester, but in the very county in which the noble Duke at the head of the Government was one of the principal land-owners, and the Lord-lieutenant. The distress, however, was not confined to the agricultural districts. The manufacturing interest was in the same state of distress. It was impossible to read the newspapers without being convinced that the manufacturers were suffering to a very considerable extent. He would, however, give some proofs of the existence of that distress; for he was sure that if the noble Duke at the head of the Government believed in its existence as he did, the inquiry now sought for would be at once granted. He would read a few extracts that would show the noble Duke that the distress was greater than the hangers-on at Downing-street were likely to admit. The statements he was about to read were from a newspaper most likely to contain good information on such a subject, and one more disposed to underrate than exaggerate the amount of the distress. He found it there stated that at a public meeting at Birmingham a short time before, it had been asserted in the presence of twelve thousand, or fifteen thousand people, and not contradicted, that the manufacturing interests of that town were at the very lowest ebb, and that trade for the last fourteen days had been as it were entirely suspended. This was confirmed by the agreement amongst the iron masters of Staffordshire, in the beginning of the last month to blow out fifteen blast furnaces; but though the trade had come to this resolution, in order to prevent the further increase of a manufacture for which there was no market, it was much to be doubted whether the measure would relieve the distress; for what was to become of the poor labourers thus thrown out of employment? Of course, they must be left to starve. The accumulation of distress at Manchester was spoken of in alarming terms in the month of May last. The cause of distress then was attributed to reduced wages which did then cause a considerable disturbance. It was then stated by a correspondent in one of the public papers (the Times) not likely to overrate the distress, that things were 960 in a very bad state. "As far as I can learn, he says, there is this important distinction between the present riots and those of 1826. In that year a sudden and violent suspension of trade threw tens of thousands of workmen out of employment. In the present time the prevailing distress of particular classes of operatives as they are called, has been gradually accumulating, until labour no longer furnishes the means of human subsistence. The prospect from such a state of things is both gloomy and appalling. The absolute extinction of large bodies reared to a particular trade, cannot be contemplated without horror from which humanity shrinks, and yet it would appear that 'to this complexion it must come at last.'" But things it appears were not much mended several months afterwards, for in the month of September, at its very close this is the picture that was drawn. "For many weeks the state of trade has afforded nothing worthy of remark, for there have been no striking changes. There has, indeed, been a constant down ward progress of prices; but this, unfortunately, of late, has been the rule instead of the exception, and therefore was not a thing to be noted as news. A panic occasioned by the breaking of our banks, or the bankruptcy of our principal spinners and manufacturers, which would at once have thrown thousands out of employment, would, no doubt, have drawn the attention of all the kingdom to us; but there has been such a monotony in the sufferings which have been endured here, that their very existence is probably doubted in other parts of the kingdom." It is the general property of distress to be clamorous; and under other circumstances our working population would have been clamorous, and probably riotous. That was the state of Manchester in the month of September last, their Lordships had seen that in the previous month of May, the inhabitants of that town were in no better condition, and it did so happen that a public meeting had been called for that day at Manchester, to take into consideration the extreme distress now prevailing in that town. In Macclesfield too there was great distress. The Committee there for the relief of the poor report to the London Committee: "that in the year ending November 1828 twenty-two poor-leys were levied in the township of Macclesfield, and produced 961 4,571l. In the year ending 1829 forty-two poor-leys were levied and produced 7,227l. The difficulty of collecting the rate has compelled the overseers to reduce the weekly allowances generally from 2s. to 1s. per head. This circumstance might account in some places for a diminution of the amount of poor-rates, and if any noble Lord should in the course of the evening refer to such a fact, he should say look at Macclesfield and ask if it is not because the allowance of each pauper has been reduced. It had been stated, indeed, that at Manchester such a diminution had taken place, probably because the practice of Macclesfield had extended thither, and aggravated the distress, and the sufferings of the poorer classes. He had been informed also that in Blackburn in February last, eleven thousand three hundred and sixty persons required relief, the average of their incomes being 1s. 7d. per day. In January, at Preston, one third of the population, or ten thousand persons received assistance they not having 2s. a-week. He might quote similar cases from almost all parts of the West Hiding of Yorkshire, particularly from Huddersfield where the people did not earn on an average, more than 2d. per day. In answer to all this they were told that the exports had increased; he did not know whether that were true or not, but if it were, it did not appear to him that the manufacturer was much bettered in consequence of it. The manufacturer could not make a profit upon the exported article, and under such circumstances every one must be aware that the trade would be little benefitted by an increased amount of exports. The consequence of this low state of wages, which only afforded the labourer a bare existence, was, that it disinclined him to labour, since he was in no better condition by the most industrious exertions than he would be by throwing himself upon the parish; and paupers had lately expressed this feeling in saying that they preferred being paupers without work to being paupers with it. He was not one of those who would encourage the use of such language. He knew the duties of a Christian and of a subject of this and of every other realm, and he knew that such language did not become any man. He did not defend it; he only stated that existing circumstances had occasioned many men to use it. He was sorry to say that the 962 distress was not partial—it was daily getting worse and worse. The agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, and the miner were all affected by it; and under these circumstances he thought inquiry, and immediate inquiry, most necessary. One word to the right Rev. Prelates before he sat down. On this occasion he hoped they would vote in favour of the Motion. If they had, as he believed, communications with their parochial clergy, whose duty it was to visit the cottages and hovels of the poor, they must know from those communications the miseries and privations to which that class of men, the labouring population of this kingdom, supposed to be the strength and pride of a country, were reduced. They must know that the want of every comfort had converted these poor men from the once free and happy peasantry of England, to the condition of wretched and abject slaves. If he wanted any proof of this, he might find it in the charge of one of the right Rev. Prelates to his Clergy, recently delivered, in which it was said that "The Legislature never could have contemplated this extensive system of pauperism, which, whether legally or otherwise, was now eating like a canker into the vitals of the country." The numerous County Meetings, the Petitions to Parliament, and the Memorials to Government, proved that the country experienced the existence of this wide-spread distress, and thought there was sufficient ground for an inquiry as to the best and most effectual means of preventing those mischiefs which must follow if the miseries of the people should drive them to acts of violence. Under such circumstances, he was happy to have, in favour of inquiry, the opinion of one of the most upright ministers that ever presided over the affairs of the country—Lord Liverpool— who, in the year 1822, upon a statement of the existence of great distress being-made, said, "If what I have heard be founded in error, which I believe, the best and most effectual means of dispelling the error is that which the practice and constitution of your Lordships' House allows and prescribes—a full and fair investigation of the subject." Those noble Lords who had looked up to Lord Liverpool as their guide, must still be inclined to adhere to his opinions, thus deliberately expressed; and on them he called for their support to the present Motion. 963 Nothwithstanding the weight and number of those who ranged themselves round Ministers, he hoped that inquiry would not be refused. The people asked for that in their Lordships' legislative capacity, which, in their judicial character, they never denied—a full and fair investigation: and he trusted that their Lordships would not allow the Parliament to be prorogued without showing that they had made some efforts and did something to meet the wishes of the country, to alleviate its distresses, and to place its happiness on a better and a firmer basis. He felt it contrary to his duty to let this occasion pass without doing his utmost to prevent the extension of distress, and the recurrence of those evils which of late, and even now, preyed on the country.
The Earl of Rosebery
felt it necessary to say a few words upon the subject of the present distress, which, if not equally general as that in 1816, was somewhat of the same character, and existed under a similar combination of circumstances. How it happened that, in 1815, 1816, in 1821, 1822, in 1826 and in 1829—great and general distress had occurred in this country, was a question that, no doubt, had much occupied the attention of Ministers and was one to which it would be of great importance to give a clear solution. That during a period of fifteen years of profound peace, times of distress should so often have occurred, was most painful; and the first care of the Legislature was to inquire into the causes of their recurrence; and the first duty, both of the Government and the Parliament, was if possible to provide for it a remedy, or at least a corrective. To him the most painful circumstance in the recurrence of the state of distress during peace, was its frequency. It was like the return of a wasting disease, which undermined the constitution, and at each attack left the body with less strength to resist the next occurrence of the disorder. He would first enumerate the causes which, in his opinion, had brought this country into its present state; and next he would refer to those remedial measures which were within the sphere of the Legislature to apply. He must begin that enumeration with the question of the currency. Though like the noble Viscount he was in favour of a metallic currency, yet he could not disguise from himself the fact that much of the evils now existing had been produced by the 964 change to it from a paper currency. He believed that if that question now came before the House for the first time, their Lordships would be of opinion, either that the standard ought not to be altered, or that a longer time ought to be given the country to prepare for it; but as we had gone through the ordeal, he thought Parliament could not be guilty of a greater dereliction of duty than to depart from the standard it had then established. He attributed some of the distress to the calling in of the small notes throughout the country; he had been a party to that measure by the vote he gave in favour of it; he regretted it, but as the resolution had been passed and acted upon, he would not now consent to retract it. He thought that the immense and rapid improvement in machinery had been one of the causes of distress in the manufacturing districts. He knew that others differed from him in that opinion; but he had heard the noble Duke state the same opinion, and he thought it might be proved by carrying the opposite argument to its extreme length. Although no man was more convinced than himself of the necessity of machinery, yet in this country, which was so thickly peopled its rapid increase must of itself, if pushed to an extreme, produce distress among the labouring population. If their Lordships could fancy (what he knew to be impossible) that all the manual labours of the country could be effected by machinery, the greatest and most overwhelming distress must be produced among the working classes. The redundancy of the population in this country (a circumstance much connected with the rapid increase of machinery, which had thrown out of employment many who otherwise would have had their share of work) was another cause of distress. But there were two other causes which materially depressed the labouring population of England and Scotland, particularly of the former. The first was the immense influx of Irish labourers; and the second, the mode in which the Poor Laws of England were administered, especially in the Southern Counties. The influx of Irish labourers, who would work for much less than the peasantry of this country, injured the latter very considerably; while the Poor Laws, as they are now administered, were no better than a premium on improvident marriages. The mode of 965 paying the labourer out of the Poor Rates, and that of making a scale of payment according to the numbers in each family, appeared to him to be only a bounty upon early and inconsiderate marriages, and on the propagation of the species without the means of providing for their support. The next cause of distress was the unequal distribution of wealth, which was accumulated in a few hands, causing a great diminution of consumption, so as materially to affect the state of the country. If that accumulation of immense capital by a few could be prevented, and if it could be more equally distributed (which he feared, and almost knew to be impossible), the means of consumption of all the articles of life would be more widely extended; and, in proportion to their increased consumption, the distress of all classes would be diminished. Another cause of the present prevailing distress was taxation. He believed that it was in the power of Government and Parliament to relieve the country to a great degree by the remission of taxation, and also by a commutation of some taxes. The next subject to which he wished to call the attention of the House was the imperfect state of banking in England. He conceived that, if proper means were resorted to, banking might be made a much more secure and perfect system in this country. Confidence would then be restored—loans more easily negotiated, and a great deal of the difficulties of commercial men diminished. To these causes he must add the bad crops of the two last years, which had undoubtedly contributed much to agricultural distress. He could state, from his local knowledge, that this cause had operated in the districts with which he was acquainted. It did not, however, appear to him, that if there had been an abundant crop, the agricultural interest would have been much improved, for the prices would then have been so low as not to afford remuneration to the cultivators. He would then venture to state what he thought were the remedies for this state of things. He thought the question of the currency ought to be considered with respect to a proper system of banking. The noble Duke had allowed that the circulation was greater now than the years of depreciation; it was now sixty-five millions, whereas, in years of depreciation, it had only been sixty-four millions; and, if he remembered well, amongst the items of this circulation, the noble 966 Duke had stated there were twenty-eight millions of gold, and he believed the noble Duke had that night said across the table, that this sum of twenty-eight millions was exclusive of what was deposited in the coffers of the Bank of England; but then it was not stated to be exclusive of the gold in all the other banks in England. He would now come to a point which bore strongly upon the question of the currency, and which had not been touched by any of the noble Lords who spoke upon the subject that night. It was to make a joint gold and silver currency, by which they would be returning to the currency of those times during which England had enjoyed the longest period of prosperity. He thought that such a proceeding would be attended with great advantage to the country; and in suggesting it he felt himself supported by the authority of Mr. Locke, who stated that gold was not generally used as a measure of commerce; and by that of the late Lord Liverpool's father, who, although he himself advocated a gold standard of currency, yet allowed, that while gold and silver were jointly the standard currency of the country, no objection to it had been made. He accordingly submitted to their Lordships, that by adopting his suggestion, they might, without any departure from sound principles, alleviate in some degree the existing distress; for such a standard of currency, which, he remarked, was that of all the world except England, would furnish all the advantages of small notes, and afford great security against panics. Amongst the causes of the present distress, he had alluded to a superabundant population, and to the influx of Irish labourers into this country. He allowed he was as sanguine as any man with respect to the good effects to be anticipated from the Catholic Relief Bill; but he thought that some provision ought to be made for the Irish poor, and that some plan should be devised for a gradual remedy in the system of paying wages from the Poor-rates. He would now say a few words on retrenchment and public economy in general. He thought that the line of conduct adopted by the noble Duke was such as ought to give confidence to their Lordships and to the public at large, that he would introduce retrenchment into all branches of the expenditure, as far as was consistent with the security and well-being of the country. He was one of those who believed that all retrenchments and economy were not pro- 967 ductive of unmixed good. They could not turn adrift a number of persons, without producing a certain degree of evil; [hear, from the Duke of Wellington] for, by depriving them of employment, they added to the mass of suffering, and increased the pressure of affliction upon those who had been previously in a state of distress. A reduction in taxation ought always to accompany retrenchment, else the latter became a positive evil; because you did not relieve the suffering population, but, on the contrary, aggravated their distress. Thus it happened that a number of clerks could not be dismissed, nor a regiment disbanded, without their adding to the sum of human misery. Then as to the money so saved, what did they propose to do with it? To throw it into the Sinking Fund. Now to this he objected; he would go farther than the noble Viscount—he would take not merely the seventeen hundred thousand pounds, but he would even take the whole amount of the surplus Revenue, even if it absorbed the Sinking Fund; for although there were circumstances under which a Sinking Fund was useful, yet there were others, as in the present, when it actually aggravated the evils under which the people suffered. He should also recommend a commutation of taxes; and his plan was this—to substitute an Income or Property Tax to some certain amount, for various other taxes bearing hard upon the industry of the country. It appeared to him the only plan which could be legally devised, to make the absentees contribute their fair share to support the burthens of the country. It would also make the funded proprietor, whose property had greatly increased since the peace, by the increase in the value of money, pay his fair proportion of the taxes. This Income Tax would levy on the landed and funded proprietors alone, leaving out trades and professions, which, from the fluctuating nature of their profits, should never be taxed, except under the pressure of extreme necessity. There was one other point—the Corn Bill—to which he wished to advert; he would not allude to it in its general bearings, but as it was always spoken of as the cause of distress either to the agriculturist or the manufacturer, he could not altogether pass it by in a discussion like the present. Now he never advocated a protecting duty for the artificial support of the landed interest; but his reason in voting as he had voted was, that 968 he believed that in the long run, taking the average of a number of years—the encouragement it gave to the internal production of grain would render that grain cheaper; and also, by the circumstance of a larger portion of the land being kept continually in cultivation, prevent the dreadful pressure upon the lower classes that had been more than once experienced in years of dearth or war. This was the reason he had supported Mr. Canning's Bill. As to the scale of duties adopted by Parliament on the recommendation of the present Administration, he thought it was higher than it ought to be permitted to remain; and he for one should be ready to lower it gradually to the scale approved of by the House of Commons in 1829. He had now briefly, and to the best of his ability, laid his views upon the subject before their Lordships. To others he would respectfully leave it to modify the suggestions he had made into some better shape and some more acceptable form, which might have the effect of inducing their Lordships to institute an inquiry into the causes of the present distress. He thought, however, the mode of inquiry suggested by the noble Earl was of all others the most inexpedient, the most unsatisfactory, and the most unlikely to produce that result which the noble Earl was so anxious to effect. He should, therefore, be reluctantly compelled to vote against him; but if any Motion for an inquiry were brought forward in a definite and less exceptionable form, it should receive his warmest and most sincere support.
§ The Earl of Eldon
hoped their Lordships would excuse him if he requested the favour of a hearing for a short time. The question before them might, he thought, be compressed into a very small compass. He was not able to come down on the first day of the meeting of Parliament, else, perhaps, he should not have trespassed on their patience at this late period; he could assure their Lordships, however, that he would not detain them long from enjoying the advantage of those views and information which they were likely to receive from the noble Lords who would follow him. He confessed that there was no passage of his life, personal or political, which he regretted more than his absence, all involuntary as it was, on the first day of the Session, when such an extraordinary course of proceeding was adopted by his Majesty's Ministers. He said this, mean- 969 ing no offence to any of the noble Lords opposite, for whom he had the highest respect, but certainly, when he read next morning what was described to have taken place in that House the evening before, he could not believe—he would not believe, until that belief were forced upon him, that such sentiments as those represented had been embodied in a King's speech, and promulgated by British Ministers. He found the distress described to be partial; and even for this partial distress no causes were assigned, except bad seasons, the state of foreign countries, and certain improvements in machinery, with other indefinite causes, all equally said to be not under legislative control. He knew not whether it were the lay or the spiritual lords who had made the grand discovery that the seasons were not under legislative control: but to find that the distress of the country was to be disposed of in so sweeping and unsatisfactory a manner, was enough to break the heart of any Englishman. It was an extraordinary thing to be told that there were other causes besides bad seasons for this lamentable distress, without specifying what these other causes were; thus leaving Parliament to find them out, as best it might, and also to find out why they were not under legislative control. For he would say, that if ever the country was in a situation which would make it the bounden duty of Parliament to ascertain what these other causes were, and why they were not under legislative control, and wherefore they were utterly incapable of being remedied or alleviated, it was that very time, because even a small portion of alleviation would, in their grievous distress, be agreeably received by the people of England, who were suffering with exemplary patience, which he hoped and trusted in God they would continue to manifest, notwithstanding the anxious endeavours of certain persons to goad them into undutifulness. He hoped these individuals would not succeed in their attempts to aggravate the feeling of disappointment and discontent that might, perhaps, exist, should their Lordships, rejecting the Motion of the noble Earl, refuse to inquire into the means of giving the people relief. He trusted their Lordships would keep down this spirit by a determination to support the laws of the country, which, he begged them to remember, they might better carry into effect if they now showed 970 an anxiety to afford relief to the people. With respect to the Inquiry suggested that night, the House had two ways, and only two ways, of entertaining it; and he was sorry to learn that, from the observations which fell from his noble friend near him, with respect to the inexpediency of a select committee—and from the observations of another Lord condemning an Inquiry by the House itself, that both the courses recommended were considered to be objectionable; he was sorry both were objectionable; because, if to the extent maintained by these noble Lords, he should be glad to know if their Lordships had any other course. He would say none— positively none; and all hope for the distressed people of England was at an end —they must take one or other, or else they must be content to contemplate the sufferings of their countrymen in a state of perfect quietude. He hoped he had not hitherto, and should not at any time, allude disrespectfully to the statements of his Majesty's Ministers; but really when their Lordships were told, that independent of bad seasons, there were other causes for the general distress, one would suppose that the Administration was satisfied what were those other causes, and had ascertained that they were one and all not to be alleviated by legislative control, and therefore that there was no remedy for any of them. What course, then, had their Lordships to pursue? If they were satisfied with the speech from the Throne expressing the sentiments of the other side of the House, they must conclude that no inquiry could be of any use; but he never would believe that the Constitution of the country, or the duties of their Lordships' House, would leave them in such a condition as not to be able to learn that which they had a right to ask, and could demand to know—namely, what all these causes were that, like the seasons, were beyond legislative control, and why they were so. The noble Lords on his side had differed altogether from these statements. The noble Viscount and the noble Earl gave them the flattest contradiction—they enumerated not one, but many causes of public distress which might be removed by the legislature. The noble Viscount had enumerated, he believed, three; and the noble Earl had considerably enlarged the catalogue—he had suggested no less than twelve ways, by which (if they would only condescend 971 to adopt any one of them) some alleviation might be given to the people's suffering. While the Administration told them that the causes of the public distress, like bad seasons, which they had probably learned from the bench of Bishops were not under the control of the Prime Minister of England, could not be altered, though they acknowledged that there were others, be they few or many: the noble Lords near him had mentioned several that might be alleviated by the legislature. They had even counted up an appalling number. He appealed to their Lordships to say whether the manufacturers, the merchants, the farmers, the landowners, the peasantry—once the boast of England, were not in a state of unexampled distress; and for the Peers and the Commons of England to be told that there were causes for this distress which could not be discovered, or should not be revealed, was something equally unexampled. He believed, however, that Ministers, though they thought themselves unable, were anxious to relieve the people, and he rejoiced to sec the right rev. Prelates in their places, for he was sure that they would vote for a motion that had for its object to relieve distress. As for his noble friend, who thought no inquiry could be made, and who would support none—
The Earl of Rosebery
explained, that he should be ready to support any motion for inquiry, brought forward in what he considered a definite and practicable form.
§ The Earl of Eldon
resumed: He had done his noble friend injustice—not willingly. But he would wish to have this practicable mode of inquiry pointed out; he did not recollect if the noble Lord had told them his mode. Certainly his noble friends had between them suggested fifteen ways of affording ample relief. He would not have spoken that night, were it not for the purpose of recording his opinion, that their Lordships' House was bound to make some inquiry. As to the plans laid before them by his noble friends, he begged to say that nobody would be more willing to defer to their opinions than himself; but he thought, when they possessed the right and power of collecting the opinions of the House of Lords as a House, that this would be a most desirable mode of conducting their inquiry. He therefore would not take a decision upon trust from his noble friends, either as to the causes or the remedies, but he would have it in 972 the only constitutional way. The noble Earl had stated as causes of this distress, amongst others—the mal-administration of the Poor-rates in the south of England, the influx of Irish labourers, and a super abundant population, which Ministers probably intended to include amongst the causes beyond legislative control; but all these statements were in direct contradiction of the Speech. It was accordingly the duty of the House to see if these opinions were well founded, to the end that, if possible, some relief might be granted in the shape of legislation, and not in that of a fine speech; a speech from which, after you have heard it, you find you have learned nothing. With respect to the question of the currency, he would observe, that if there were any change, faith should not be broken with the public creditor; and he might remark that there would be, in his opinion, more danger in altering the currency, than in abiding by the present standard. It appeared to him, that such a remedy would be worse than the disease. There was one point alluded to by the noble Viscount, to which he would advert —he meant, the beneficial consequences of the measure which had distinguished the last Session of Parliament. On this subject he had only one word to say. He had had the misfortune to differ from a great majority of that House with reference to that question, and he had thought he was only doing his duty, and acting in the fair discharge of that duty, in the part he had taken. He had not failed to think very anxiously on the subject since, and as a friend to the country, he wished that his apprehensions on the subject might be found without support. If he could recall his apprehensions, he would readily do so; but he still could not discharge them from his mind. On the whole, although he was inclined, on many occasions, to defer to the opinions of noble Lords, he must say that he did not think the arguments urged against inquiry at all conclusive. He thought the country had a right to know the opinion of the House of Lords collectively concerning its present condition, and he could not get rid of his sense of duty, which informed him that the legislature was bound to inquire into the causes of the distress. If it could not be entirely removed it might be alleviated, and he thought it the duty of Parliament to make the attempt.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, he would proceed to notice what had fallen from the noble and learned Lord that had spoken last, and to set the noble Earl right with reference to his misconception of his Majesty's Speech, delivered by the Lords Commissioners, but he would in the first instance beg leave to advert to something which fell from the noble Earl that made the Motion, and from the noble Duke that had spoken in the course of the debate. The noble Earl, although he had stated that it was not his intention to make his Motion personal against him (the Duke of Wellington), yet he certainly did contrive, somehow or other, in most part of his speech to introduce matters entirely personal. The noble Duke had done the same, although he apprehended that the noble Duke especially could not have any personal feelings against him or against the Ministers. He had, however, brought forward an occurrence in a county in which he (the Duke of Wellington) was the Lord-lieutenant, when the noble Duke forgot that he himself was in the neighbourhood, in another county, in which a similar misfortune had occurred. It was their Lordships' duty he admitted, to do all in their power to alleviate the existing distress, but he was sure that no benefit could be derived to the community at large from personal attacks in that House, and from impeaching individuals. The object they must all have was to endeavour to discover the causes of the distress, and to ascertain the means which could be devised to alleviate it. The noble Earl who commenced this debate began by stating that the agricultural population of the country was in a state of the greatest distress, and he was followed in the same strain by the noble Duke opposite. No man felt more confident on that subject than himself, and on the first day of the Session (although his noble friend was not present), he had stated what he now repeated, that he did not entertain the slightest doubt of the distress; but when the noble Duke called upon the House to appoint a Committee of Inquiry into the agricultural distress, he should recollect that the usual course on similar occasions was, to state what substantive measure he intended to propose. Did the noble Earl mean to propose a repeal or an alteration of the Corn Laws? For if he did, he would at once tell him he would oppose him. The Corn Laws could not be repealed without injury 974 to the country. That measure had worked completely to the object destined, by preventing the price of corn rising so as to injure the interests of the country at large, whilst it enabled the agriculturist to receive a beneficial reward in some degree for his labour. In the second year of the existence of that law, a greater importation of corn than ever had taken place, to the extent of three million quarters, of which two million five hundred thousand came from Ireland, and the prices had not been lowered in this country, beyond what was deemed a remunerating price to the agriculturists. With reference to another branch of agriculture, at that moment he had the means of proving that the prices received for other articles of agricultural produce, such as meat, timber, &c, were fully equal to what they were when the Bank Restriction Act was in existence, and when the amount of taxes was the heaviest. [cries of no, no.!] This was true. This being the fact, what measure did the noble Earl propose to adopt, to relieve the distress of the agriculturists? The next subject that the noble Earl referred to was the manufacturing interests. No man could doubt that the amount of the manufactures in the country at present was larger than was ever known. This was produced by the improvements in machinery, and the application of steam. The great competition in this country reduced the price of labour extremely low. He should now come to consider the causes of distress. His noble friend had not happily adopted the speech he quoted. His Majesty had begged Parliament to advert to the unfortunate state of distress, and to endeavour to trace out the cause. The words of the Speech were:— "His Majesty feels assured that you will concur with him in assigning due weight, to the effect of unfavourable seasons, and to the operation of other causes which are beyond the reach of legislative control or remedy." "His Majesty is convinced that no pressure of temporary difficulties will induce you to relax the determination which you have uniformly manifested to maintain inviolate the public credit, and thus to uphold the high character and the permanent welfare of the country." These were the very circumstances to which his Majesty referred, and which were referred to by the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount would find, however, that he could not repeal the taxes he wished to have 975 repealed, without injuring the resources of the country. He would only beg to call to the recollection of the House the state in which the world was at the end of the war in the years 1814 and 1815. Europe was then absolutely overrun with armies, and had been so for thirty years. There was nothing but armies in the world, and nothing was thought of but the means of sustaining them. Except in France and this country, there were few manufacturers in Europe; but when the peace took place, all the world became manufacturers, and a great fall in prices necessarily ensued. He would read, from a paper he held in his hand, a few extracts of the prices of several commodities in different places since the peace of 1814. Cotton in England—the raw article, in 1814, had sold at 2s. 2d. the pound, or, with duty included, at 2s. 4d. In 1815 and 1817 it had sold at 1s. 8½d., and in 1829 at 6d. This was a fall in price equal to what had taken place in any other article. Silk in 1814 had sold for 1l. 4s., or, with duty included, for 1l. 9s.; whilst in 1829, it sold for 8s. 10d., or with the duty, at 8s. 11d. the pound. Sheep's wool in 1814, had sold for 8s. 2d.; or with the duty, at 8s. 3d.; whilst in 1829, it sold for only 2s. 3d. or with the duty, at 2s. 4d. These were circumstances beyond the control of Parliament, and which could not be remedied, and yet they must affect the situation of the country. Another article he would quote was fir timber, which had fallen equally. Profits had fallen equally with the fall of the raw material. Cotton yarn, which had sold for 4s. 4½d. the pound, in 1814, in 1830 sold for 1s. 5½d.; and cotton manufactured goods had altered in price within the same period from 1s. 5d., 1s. 8d., 2s. 0½d. to 6¼d., 8¾d., and 8½d. Irish linens had fallen from 1s. 7d. to 1s. 0¾d. Woollen cloths from 1l. 8s. 11d. to 1l. 5s. 5d. Other articles had been reduced enormously in price by the competition with foreigners. In those articles in which there was no competition with foreigners, prices had been reduced very much, such, for instance, as in the iron and pottery trades. Here were causes evidently beyond the control of Parliament—Parliament could not by any act of theirs raise the price of the manufactured goods. The noble Earl (Stanhope) had talked of the great distress in Ireland—in Cork and other places. He felt excessive concern to hear of this distress, and 976 would be glad to hear of any possibility of relief—but he was sure that relief could not be given by a Committee of the whole House which was not to examine into any thing, as far as he could understand, by which the relief of that distress could be achieved. No remedy appeared to him to be suggested by the appointment of the Committee. The noble Viscount had adverted to making the Bank of England surrender its charter as a means of relief, by leading to a better system of banking; but his noble friend was mistaken if he supposed that Government had not paid attention to the subject. He would tell his noble friend that this was beyond all parliamentary control. This was not a measure which Parliament could now debate. Parliament could not interfere on the subject but by consent of the Bank, without at least evincing its bad faith by the breach of the Bank Charter. His noble friend had then adverted to a measure which was to lead to a repeal of the taxes. No man could wish more than he did to repeal the taxes as far as possible. What was Parliament engaged on every day except in considering the establishments, and the means of augmenting the resources, with a view to alleviate the burthens of the people? The noble Lord had said that the country could now obtain relief, for the Government had saved a sum of money. He must beg leave to observe to his noble friend, that he had made a very great mistake in his statement of the income and expenses of the country for the last and the present year. He had made his calculations upon the grounds that the accounts of the Revenue made the receipts equal last year with the year preceding, but there was a material difference, amounting even to the sum of 1,300,000l. The King's Speech did not take the noble Lord's view of the case, but adverted to the difference of the Estimates, and their actual produce. The Revenue of the year 1829 was estimated at 900,000l. less than that of the preceding year, for owing to particular circumstances connected with the Malt trade, the Malt Duty of 1828 had produced 900,000l. more than was expected in 1829. To this must be added an actual deficiency of 400,000l.; so that his noble friend had made a mistake of 1,300,000l. in estimating the produce of the Revenue for 1830. Another mistake was his striking out the receipt of 977 the Dead Weight from one side of the Account, and not from the other, forgeting that the whole charge fell upon the public.
§ Viscount Goderich
said in explanation, that he had included the Dead Weight, for he knew it came eventually from the public—not from the Bank.
§ The Duke of Wellington
, in continuation said, his noble friend would find, if he included all these items, that instead of a surplus Revenue over expenditure of three millions, there would be only a million and a half, and that would be its utmost amount, even after all the savings, it was the wish of his Majesty's Government to carry into effect as far as possible. It should be remembered that the savings were not all clear gain to the public; and, moreover, if the savings were not made where they would not fall on individuals, they would do more injury than good. When offices became vacant, the Government always considered whether the public service could not go on without filling them up; and if this were not the case, the next point was to consider whether the place could not be filled by some persons who already received half-pay or pension, so that the half-pay or pension might be saved to the public. They had tried to reduce the list of pensions of the Army and Navy, by not keeping men in the service the full time they ought to serve, according to the original institutions in the Army. As the men were generally willing to take their discharge the amount of their pensions was lessened. He should deceive the House by telling them that savings would be beneficial if they were made at the expense of individuals who must be thrown on the public as soon as the savings were made. With inference to the question of the Silver Currency, which had occupied a large portion of the noble Lord's speech, he should prove that the noble Lord was entirely mistaken. In point of fact, both the metals, silver and gold, circulated now on the same principle on which they had circulated previously to the year 1797. But it was well known that our silver coinage, previous to the war, was much deteriorated by wear and other causes, and was then only a legal tender by tale to the amount of 5l. It was by weight, however, and at the rate of 5s. 2d. an ounce, a legal tender to any amount. Silver was now a legal tender only to the extent of 978 two pounds; and the instrinsic value of the coin being not quite equal to its nomination, it was kept in circulation only by limiting the amount of the tender, and therefore the silver coin might be said now to circulate on the same principle as previous to the year 1797. The noble Lord was totally mistaken when he said that silver would circulate to a greater degree if it were made a legal tender to any amount. If any such measure were attempted, the Bank invariably found that the silver returned to them, and thus it was found impossible to force it unnaturally into circulation. The important subject of the silver currency had been under the consideration of Government, and he could assure the noble Viscount that the subject had not been neglected. One other point he wished to advert to. He alluded to what had been said with reference to the shipping interests. No man felt more than he did the necessity of encouraging the shipping and navigation of the country; but there was no reason to complain of any depreciation of the shipping interest, for at this moment the tonnage amounted to more than for many years past. The shipping of the country had rather been on the increase than otherwise. He must observe, that the shipping interest did not make such large profits as formerly; but neither were the expenses of ships so high. The charges of ship-building, equipment, provisions, and the wages of seamen, were lower.— It was true that foreign ships had been allowed some advantages in England, beyond what they formerly possessed, upon the reciprocity system; but it was found necessary for the general benefits of trade, and for the advantage of the country, to render the carriage of goods as low as possible. This was absolutely necessary, when the competition among all trades, and of all countries, was so active and severe. The noble Earl had thought proper to arraign him, because, on the first day of the Session, he had stated certain things which had induced him to believe that the distresses of the country were not so extensive as had been stated. If the noble Earl thought that he did not feel fully the distresses of the country, he was very much mistaken; but he must tell the noble Earl that although he was ready to acknowledge the distress to its utmost extent, it was not for him to exaggerate the amount, or to suffer the 979 House to be led away with inflated statements and distorted views. Was it possible that the Revenue could continue to be so productive, if the distress of the country was so extreme as it had been represented to be? Did an increased produce from reduced taxes show the existence of that general extremity of distress? Let their Lordships look at the produce of the Malt Tax, in 1828 and in 1829; notwithstanding the bad harvest in the former year. Let them look at the produce of all the other taxes. He was justified also in referring to the increase of buildings, not only in London, but throughout the kingdom. That must surely be the consequence of a progress making by the people towards prosperity. There were other circumstances which bore him out in his opinion. For instance, the condition of the Savings Banks. It was true that at one period large sums had been drawn out of those banks, but they had since come back. Whence did they come? Was not that a circumstance which showed that there was some progress towards a better state of things? Then there was an increasing traffic on roads, canals, railways, &c. That traffic had been increasing for ten years, and was now nearly double what it was ten years ago. A noble Marquis, in remarking on the state of the currency, a few nights before, had observed, that the amount of currency at present in circulation might not be enough for the wants of the people. Did not that show an increase of trade? All these circumstances, notwithstanding the distress which did exist—which he did not deny—which no man could deny, still impressed his mind with the conviction that the country was in progress to an improved state of things. He begged their Lordships to consider well the circumstances to which he had requested their attention. Let them call for what documents they thought proper; let them inquire carefully and extensively into the subject; but let them not agree to the present Motion for no purpose but to make an attack on the existing Administration.
§ The Earl of Eldon
, in explanation, observed that it seemed to be supposed that he had objected to the small-note circulation; but he had no hesitation in declaring it to be his opinion, that, under proper regulations, the small-note circulation ought to be restored. As to what the 980 noble Duke had said about the shipping interest, he knew that it could be proved to demonstration that the distress of that interest was most severe.
§ Viscount Goderich
wished to say a few words in explanation. The noble Duke supposed that he had erroneously stated the surplus Revenue of the last two years. What he had stated was, that he found the surplus of the year 1828, after deducting, on the one hand, the payments by the Bank on acccount of the Dead Weight, and, on the other, the payments to the Trustees, was 3,232,000l. If he had included the two items which he had mentioned, the surplus would have been 5,000,000l. The actual amount of the Revenue for the year 1828, deducting the amount paid by the Bank on account of the Dead Weight, was 52,104,000l. The actual expenditure, deducting the amount paid to the Trustees, was 48,872,000l.; leaving, as he had already said, a surplus of 3,232,000l. The Balance Sheet of 1829 exhibited the following statement:—
The surplus of the two years, therefore, was 4,243,000l.; and the average surplus of each year 2,471,000l. What he had assumed was, not the near approach of great prosperity, but that we might anticipate that the Revenue of the present year would be equal to the average Revenue of the two preceding years. But if the expenditure of the present year were to be reduced below that of 1829, by 1,300,000l. then he maintained that a surplus might be anticipated of 3,700,000l. Such was the calculation which he had made; and his only apprehension was, that it might prove too sanguine.
Revenue £50,786,000 Expenditure 49,075,000 £1,711,000
§ The Duke of Richmond
, in explanation, said that the noble Duke must know but little of him if he could suppose that anything which he had said had been dictated by personal feeling. He had served under the noble Duke's banner, and bad passed some of the happiest days of his life with him; and if he were to act as his personal feelings dictated, it would be in every case to support the noble Duke. He had alluded to an occurrence in a county in which the noble Duke had a preponderating influence, only to corroborate his assertion, that the English peasantry were 981 now in a most impoverished and degraded condition.
The Marquis of Salisbury
bore testimony to the severe distress existing in the country. Would their Lordships suffer the agricultural population to be borne down as they were at present? Hundreds of able-bodied labourers were compelled to have recourse to a pittance derived from the parish for their existence. It had been said that there was a greater currency at present than in former years. He would ask if there ever existed the same distress for want of currency? He did not mean to compare the two countries, but the distress at present existing in this country was similar to the distress which existed in France immediately before the Revolution. With respect to the motions before their Lordships, he certainly did not think the proposition for an inquiry at the bar of the House a wise one. In his opinion, it would do more harm than good. He thought the best course would be, to refer different subjects to Select Committees; and he called on the noble Duke standing by the fire (Richmond)—for no one could do it better—to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the cause of the distress under which the labouring population were suffering. If the inquiries in Select Committees failed, then a more general inquiry might be instituted by all their Lordships at the bar of the House.
The Earl of Radnor
expressed his surprise at the speeches of the noble Viscount who had followed the noble Mover, and of the noble Duke at the head of his Majesty's Government; and his still greater surprise at the conclusions to which they had arrived. The noble Duke had begun his speech in a spirit not called for by any thing which had occurred. He had lost his temper; and charged the noble Earl, and the noble Duke who had spoken so ably on the question, with personality; although there was nothing in the speeches of the noble Earl and the noble Duke to justify the accusation. As to the general tenour of the noble Duke's speech, nothing could be more in favour of the Motion, except the tenour of the speech of the noble Viscount. The noble Duke not only dropped the word "inquiry" several times in the course of his speech, but actually concluded his speech by urging their Lordships to investigate and inquire. No doubt every noble Lord had inquired, and would inquire 982 in his own neighbourhood. But the question was, whether they should not inquire in their capacity as Peers of Parliament, as a House of Lords, for the sake of the country at large. The noble Earl who made the motion did not call upon their Lordships to inquire, in their personal and individual character, but he called upon. Parliament to inquire, that they might know the facts in their legislative capacity. He was astonished that the noble Duke, in his position as First Lord of the Treasury, having, as it appeared, a doubt on his mind whether the country was in a state of distress or not, did not wish for an inquiry, were it only to inform himself upon the subject, in order that he might know what measures to recommend to his Majesty, or propose to Parliament. The noble Duke ought to endeavour to ascertain whether distress existed or not, to get clear of the doubt by which he was agitated on the subject. Sometimes the noble Duke admitted the distress; then again he denied it, urging the increase of buildings, and that agricultural produce for instance, timber (not frequently, by-the-bye, classed with agricultural produce), had not fallen in price. Now the fact was, that timber had fallen in price. The noble Duke said that meat had not fallen in price. If he would look at his butcher's bills, unless he had been greatly imposed upon, he would find that meat had fallen from ten-pence halfpenny to seven-pence a pound. Cheese had fallen cent per cent. Grazing cattle had fallen greatly in price, there being no adequate sale for them in Smithfield market. Under all these circumstances, the agricultural interest had a right to cry out. The noble Duke's mind was really so wavering that their Lordships ought to inquire, for the purpose of communicating information to his Majesty's Ministers. The manufacturers, the noble Duke acknowledged were in some distress; but he endeavoured to account for that distress by the statement that more goods had been manufactured since the conclusion of the war. If it could be shown that the prices had been uniformly decreasing, that argument would be intelligible; but, on reading the statement of prices, it appeared that they were sometimes up and sometimes down, so that the argument had no bearing at all upon the question. All this uncertainty, however, was a good argument in favour of those who wished for full and correct information as to its cause. But the noble 983 Duke also took a technical objection to his noble friend's Motion. He objected to it, because his noble friend had, very wisely in his (Lord Radnor's) opinion, abstained from stating the precise object which the Committee was to have in view. The state of the country was a sufficient ground for the inquiry, and the proposal of a remedy for that state ought to be the result of the investigation. But it was of all things most astonishing to hear the noble Duke argue against this Motion, when their Lordships recollected that not ten days ago a member of his Majesty's Government came to the House to propose that the affairs of the East-India Company should be referred to the consideration of a Select Committee. His Majesty's Government, having no project of their own on the subject, wished to have a committee of their Lordships to learn what was their lesson, and to ascertain what was their duty. To do that, however, was to abandon the functions of Government, and to throw the responsibility on Parliament—undoubtedly a most improper proceeding. The speech of the noble Viscount who spoke second in the debate was, in its tendency, most favourable to his noble friend's Motion; but the conclusion of it was astonishing. Indeed, the speech itself was astonishing too. On the first day of the Session, the noble Viscount had objected to all inquiry, because it was a delusion to believe that any relief could be afforded. Now he had made a speech of an hour long to show, not only that it was no delusion, but that he had projects, ready cut and dried to relieve the distress. He gave great credit to the noble Viscount for the means which he recommended. But why did not the noble Viscount resort to those means when he was in office? The same taxes which he had that night proposed to take off might have been taken off with great advantage when the noble Viscount was in office; and it was to be regretted that such an alleviation of the pressure on the people did not at that time occur to the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount said that he did not like to prophesy much, because he did not wish to prophesy ill; yet, surely, the noble Viscount had prophesied ill, when he said it was a delusion to suppose that the existing distress could be relieved. It was true that the prophecies of the noble Viscount were not always verified by the 984 event. Some years ago he had declared that the prosperity of the country was founded on a solid basis, a declaration which undoubtedly had been proved inaccurate. In the year 1824 the noble Viscount told the other House of Parliament "that the country was in a state of cheerful prosperity, with an increasing revenue, decreasing taxation, and a debt in a course of gradual and certain reduction;" and that this was all "the result of sound policy and considerate legislation." There was a great deal more poetical description of the prosperity of the country; and one part of it touched him sensibly; he meant that in which the noble Viscount had claimed for Parliament "the merit of having brought the country to its existing state of content and prosperity;" and contradicted the assertion of those who had said "that it was utterly impossible for it to extricate the kingdom from the condition of distress and depression in which it had recently been placed;" and yet the other night the noble Viscount declared that it was all delusion to suppose that any relief could be afforded to the present distress. The noble Viscount, in his speech of 1824, went on to say, "Parliament, the true source of such general happiness, may enjoy the proud, the delightful satisfaction, of looking round upon the face of a joyous country, smiling in plenty, and animated;" and then came a sublime passage, which he confessed he did not quite comprehend, "with what I hope to see—unrestricted industry, content, comfort, prosperity, and order, hand-in-hand, dispense, from the ancient portals of a Constitutional Monarchy, their inestimable blessings among a happy, united, and, let it never be forgotten, a grateful people." The next year the noble Viscount went still further. He declared, "that he was of opinion that if, upon a fair review of our situation, there should appear to be nothing hollow in its foundation, artificial in its superstructure, or flimsy in its general result, they might safely venture to contemplate, with intuitive admiration, the harmony of its proportions and the solidity of its basis." Now that "solidity" which the noble Viscount talked of in 1825 was precisely the paper currency which the noble Viscount had the other evening called "filthy rags"—
§ Viscount Goderich
declared that he had never used such an expression; although 985 in several of the Newspapers he had seen it attributed to him.
The Earl of Radnor
observed, that with respect to the passages which he had quoted from the noble Viscount's speeches in 1824 and 1825, he had refreshed his memory by a reference to the recorded reports of those speeches; but he had not had an opportunity of doing so with reference to the last-mentioned expression. He would not positively assert that the noble Viscount had used that expression; but unless his memory greatly failed him he believed that he had clone so. The one-pound notes were the solid basis of the prosperity of the country, on which the noble Viscount, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, congratulated the country. The solid basis of our prosperity was putting forth filthy rags. What he blamed the noble Duke for was, not for doing what every body said ought not to have been done—he meant the measure for putting an end to the circulation of the rags; but, when this measure was adopted, there were other measures that ought also to have been adopted at the same time, to prevent the consequence of putting an end to the paper money. He would not then discuss those other measures; but he thought their Lordships would act wisely in going into a Committee to inquire into what measures might yet be taken. Nobody now doubted the distress; the noble Duke and his colleagues did not doubt the distress; and as they had already changed their opinions on some most important points, he did not doubt that ere the close of the Session the House would yet see greater changes even than before in their opinions. He could bear witness that the distress in that part of the country where he acted as a magistrate was very severe, so severe as to be indescribable. But there was something beyond the pecuniary distress which demanded their Lordships' attention; out of that distress there had arisen a most acrimonious and hostile feeling, a feeling which he was afraid was increasing, and threatening the destruction of society. Only a few years ago there was a social intercourse between all the different classes in the country; it extended downwards, from the farmer through the labourer, and upwards, through the landowner to the Peers, and the highest person in the realm. At present this connexion was entirely destroyed, and 986 there was nothing but dissatisfaction. He did not blame any man in particular, but he would assert that this was the natural result of our legislative measures. The labourer was full of animosity against the farmer, both as a farmer and as an overseer, because he thought the farmer was grinding him down to the lowest possible pittance. The farmer was, himself, pressed down by distress; and instead of keeping his labourers on his farm as he formerly did, whether he had always employment for them or not, he sent them away as soon as he had got his work done, in the most slovenly way possible. He had lately talked a great deal with an opulent yeoman of the Weald of Kent, where the distress was as great as any where, and this gentleman had told him that in one parish, the name of which he (Lord Radnor) did not recollect, there were no less than thirty-one single men out of employment, which was a thing never before heard of. The labourers every where felt sore that they got no more than would just keep soul and body together, and more than this they could not have, as they were paid out of the resources of others. The industrious man was grieved that his situation was so bad. Then, again, it was the practice to send the men round to the farmers to employ them; and the farmer being obliged to employ them, whether he wanted them or not, had his feelings embittered by that circumstance. The farmers were, of course, anxious to support appearances, and they were annoyed by their situation. It had been well stated by the noble Earl, that these states of distress had frequently occurred, and every time they had occurred they had attacked a weaker part of the Constitution; but it had not also been remarked, that every time they had occurred attempts had been made to remedy the evil, by sending out the dirty rags. Exchequer Bills or, Bank notes, or some other species of paper money, had always been issued, so that the measures taken to remedy the evil were precisely those which they were all then deprecating. Besides the pecuniary distress, then, there was also the feeling of acrimony he had alluded to, and both the pecuniary distress and the acrimony were on the increase. The landlord, too, had encumbrances; and anxious to keep the engagements he had made, he pressed his tenants; 987 the tenants were angry, and thus feelings of ill-will went through all classes, and were likely to extend and be strengthened. Into these circumstances it was their Lordships' duty to inquire. He would not refer to the remedies proposed; he would only say, that issuing Bank notes, altering the standard, or changing the standard from gold to silver, all of which had been suggested, were of that same species of tampering with the currency, which had already caused all the evils. All our present miseries were the consequences of changes in the currency. His noble friend had said, that tampering with the currency was the cause of the evil; but he believed his noble friend was officially connected with the Government—was the author at least of those confidential communications of which they had heard that night—when that original sin was committed. By tampering with the currency we had caused all the evils, and they never would be cured by further tampering with the same extensive and important instrument. To regulate the currency was the highest prerogative of the Crown, and he hoped that the Ministers would support this part of the prerogative, and maintain the metallic standard. It was that which gave the labourer security for his wages—it was that which gave the rich man a certainty that his property would be safe; and as it affected all the relations of property in the country, he trusted that never again would the currency be tampered with. The noble Lord concluded by declaring that he would give his cordial support to the Motion of the noble Earl.
The Marquis of Lansdown
could assure the noble Earl (who had submitted the Motion to their Lordships with that degree of earnestness which the subject well deserved), that if he could persuade himself that assenting to the Motion would further the object of enlightening that House and the country as to the causes and cure of that state of difficulty in which he felt as much as the noble Lord that the country was fallen—if he thought that the inquiry would enable them to ascertain what the wisest among them did not then know, how much of the distress arose from permanent, and how much from temporary causes—if, duly contemplating the importance of the inquiry, he could persuade himself to adopt the mode of inquiry recommended by the noble Lord, 988 or if he thought it could be carried on successfully, he would vote most cordially for its adoption. He was aware of the utility of discussing some questions, as he supposed the noble Earl meant to discuss his by his calling witnesses to inquire into facts at the Bar; but feeling the importance and utility of that method of inquiry, he thought that when applied to an investigation of causes that were numerous, varied, remote, and complicated, it could not be serviceable; and aware of the confusion in which such an inquiry must involve their Lordships, as he could not bring himself to think that an inquiry so conducted would be attended with any beneficial effects, he should not give his vote for going into the inquiry. Their Lordships must be aware that the inquiry, whether successfully conducted or not, would excite expectations which could not be gratified. It would give rise to circumstances that must be anything but instructive to their Lordships. He had seen an Eastern work translated, of which the title had prevented him from reading it, but which he thought they would be likely to see realized there, if the Motion of the noble Earl should pass. It was called "A Sea of Controversial Waves," and if their Lordships were to open their doors to an inquiry, they would let in on them all the elements of confusion, and their Bar would exhibit a scene that would do any thing but conduce to the beneficial result they all wished. What had been stated that night in support of the Motion, and what had been stated and admitted in other debates, convinced him, however, that there were many circumstances which-called for inquiry in another form. There were many circumstances, some connected with the state of the coin, which deserved from their Lordships a patient investigation; such an investigation as could only be conducted up stairs by an accurate and careful examination of witnesses, and such as might make their Lordships fully aware of the afflicting condition of the labouring classes. He would take that opportunity to say, that whatever else they might do to remedy the evils of the country, there could be no permanent foundation laid for the prosperity of the country which did not succeed in removing the labouring classes from the condition which they, unhappily, at present occupied. That rotten and unstable basis of the community must be supplied 989 by one firm and sound, and that could be! done only by increasing; the comforts and consumption of that class, from which alone could a permanent and increasing Revenue be expected. This must be the main object of their Lordships' consideration. Many causes had been stated as contributing to the present state, whether universal or partial, but certainly varied distress, in which the country was involved. For himself he had no hesitation in saying, without referring to transactions gone by, that all our distress arose from the unhappy, the fatal perseverance, year after year, in the practice of contracting money engagements in a depreciated currency, with a full knowledge of their consequences, and after many signs and warnings, which had all been rejected;—we had gone on, year after year, contracting a series of money engagements in a depreciated currency, wilfully binding ourselves to the fact that the currency was depreciated, which money engagements we had now the greatest difficulty to fulfil. This was the root of all our sufferings. In saying so he wished it to be understood, that onerous as he considered these engagements, severely as they pressed on the country, they were engagements which, for the honour and credit of the country, Parliament was under the necessity of finding the means to discharge. It was one thing to see the cause of this calamity, and another to find out a remedy—one thing to say with whom the blame rested, and another to affirm who ought to be acquitted. For his own part he feared their Lordships could not console themselves by being able to say, Delicta majorum immeritus lues, for many among them had contributed to these evils; some of them had recommended, and all of them had but too feebly opposed the measures, the consequences of which had been fatal to our prosperity. In the circumstances in which the country was placed, their Lordships had only to consider how they might enable the Constitution of the country to stand the repeated shocks which, as stated by his noble friend, were recurring at decreasing intervals, were attacking feebler parts of the Constitution, and leaving, after each recurrence, the body politic weaker than it was before. There was only one means presented itself, in which they were all of one opinion, and that was retrenchment; but retrenchment qualified, as his noble friend had stated, 990 by a great diminution of taxation. The noble Duke had, in the course of his speech, referred to various causes, all of which might be fit subjects of inquiry. Some of these causes were consistent with the effects ascribed to them; but he had heard with unfeigned surprise, that the noble Duke supposed one of the causes of our distress over which the Legislature had no control was the low price of cotton, the raw material of our most important manufacture. He was utterly at a loss to know what inference the noble Duke meant to draw from this statement. He could conceive no contradiction more extraordinary than that the introduction of the raw material of our greatest manufacture at a cheap rate, which would enable our manufacturers to make cottons cheaper, our people to purchase cottons cheaper, and our merchants to export cottons cheaper,—how this could be the cause of distress, was a point which he trusted the noble Duke would explain, or correct him if he had misunderstood the argument. For his own part he looked upon this, like our improvements in machinery, as among the causes which had enabled us, in competing with foreigners, to hold up our heads among nations who had less difficulties than we had to contend with, and which had enabled us to preserve our position, our faith, and our honour, in spite of all our disasters and all our distresses.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that the noble Marquis had altogether misunderstood him. He had stated the fall in the price of the raw material as an evidence, not that we were suffering, for this very fall in the price of the raw material, he admitted had been productive of benefits to our own manufacturers, but he stated it as a proof of those changes in prices which Parliament could not control. He had, indeed, also stated that the fall in the price of the raw material would account for the fall in the price of the manufactured article.
The Marquis of Lansdown
was glad the noble Duke had corrected the error into which he had unintentionally fallen. The fall in the price of the raw material, then, through this series of years, had been beneficial to the country. There was another point to which he was anxious to advert, he meant the currency. With the late Earl of Liverpool, of whom he could never speak without respect and the most kindly 991 recollections, he had differed totally on the subject of the standard which that noble Lord had preferred. He thought it a great misfortune that when the state of the currency had been reviewed and revised, silver had not been made the standard instead of gold. After much consideration he had been confirmed in this opinion, and for this reason,—that as he believed it to be desirable that one weight and one measure of quantities should be common to the world, so he believed that nations should agree upon a common measure of value—a common standard. He had no hesitation in stating that he thought this might be even now a fit subject of inquiry. Of late the countries which chiefly supplied the precious metals had undergone great political convulsions, and therefore he thought that the proportion in which gold and silver was produced in those countries, and in what manner those proportions had varied with the new circumstances of those countries, would furnish a subject of inquiry than which he knew of none more interesting. He was aware of the opinion that silver was now in greater quantities in proportion to gold than before the war of the French Revolution; and if so, and if other circumstances upon which equally strong opinions were held, should be found as they were believed to be, he could see no impropriety in reverting to that metal as a standard; inasmuch as it was, in spite of what the noble Duke had said, the ancient standard of the country. The noble Duke had stated, but he did not know upon what authority, that up to 1796 silver had been a legal tender to the amount of only 5l. Now, he had always thought that silver had been a legal tender to the amount of 25l. He had the Act of 14 Geo. III. before him, which Act, he found, had been twice continued, and it clearly made silver a legal tender for 25l; but it must be well known to the noble Lords that silver was, in fact and in practice, a legal tender to a much greater amount than 25l.
The Marquis of Lansdown
. —No doubt, in weight; and was not weight every thing? The coin, it was well known, was continually liable to deterioration from wear, and for that reason, coin was a legal tender to the amount of only 25l., while in weight it was a tender to any amount. 992 He was entitled, then, to say, that previous to the French Revolutionary war, silver, and not gold, was the standard metal of this country, He thought it a misfortune that it had not been allowed to remain so. Let it be understood that he made no proposition, that he urged no change. He felt as sensibly as any one the inconvenience of change; but what he meant was this, that if there were to be any inquiries, he thought there was Hone more worthy of their Lordships' attention than an inquiry into the proportion between the two metals, into the proportions in which they were produced in America, and into the proportions that were brought here, in order that, if it should seem right upon such inquiry, we might revert to the ancient standard. Whether it would be judicious, as some ingenious persons had thought it would, among whom he believed was his friend Mr. Baring, that we should have a mixed standard of gold and silver, was a point upon which he did not offer any opinion. Connected with this subject was another point to which he would advert. He meant the Banking system. Surely neither the noble Viscount (Goderich) nor the noble Duke meant to say that the Banking system was yet in a proper state. We were still allowing bankers to issue notes without security, and yet, at the same time, we were prohibiting the bankers from combining to give that security, the want of which every body complained of. Let no one, then, tell him that the Banking system was yet a sound system. But here, again, they were told, "We are under engagements." No doubt they were: but did the noble Duke forget that they were now within three years of the expiration of the Bank Charter? For his own part, he had no doubt that the noble Duke was in a condition, not only to make terms with the Bank, but even in a condition to prescribe such terms as might be deemed necessary to give confidence and security. He would then advert to the subject of taxation, and he must say, that he concurred with the noble Viscount, or rather went beyond him, in the view which he took as to the desirableness of a remission of taxation in as many ways as possible; and he did so, not so much for the purpose of obtaining immediate relief, as with a view to lay a foundation for increased prosperity hereafter, from which relief to a still greater extent, and of a 993 more permanent nature, might be expected. He spoke with the more confidence upon this subject, for, sitting in Parliament, as he had done, for many years, and observing the operation of taxation and of remission of taxation, he well knew how the imposition of taxes depressed a country, and to what an extent it was benefitted by the remission of them; and further, he had observed many instances in which the effect of a reduction in the rate of taxation, so far from diminishing the produce of the revenue, had increased it. He would state one instance of this in which he himself had had a share. A Committee of their Lordships' House had sat upon foreign trade; over which he had the honour to preside; and it occurred to him that a great increase might be effected in the importation of French wine, and that the Revenue and the country would be mutually benefitted by a considerable diminution of the duty. He brought the subject before the Committee, and some of the principal persons concerned in the wine trade were examined. It would afford the House an idea of the value of practical opinions upon such a subject, when he stated that everyone of those Gentlemen was examined, of course upon oath, and he could not extract from a single individual an admission that taking off a part of the duty on French wines would increase the consumption of them; on the contrary, every one of those persons had divers ingenious reasons to assign, in order to show that no such effect could be produced by that means, and that the use of French wines would be confined to the table of particular persons, and that they would not find their way to houses of two stones, that was, to the tables of country gentlemen. However, this evidence did not shake his firm conviction that an effect such as he anticipated must result from the lowering of the duty; and two or three years after the date of the Committee, his noble friend, at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer, had the good sense to take off a large proportion of the duty, and the result was, that (in spite of the predictions of persons concerned in the trade) more than double the quantity of French wines was drunk after the reduction than before; and, instead of a diminution, there was a large increase of revenue upon that article. Facts such as these increased his confidence in the advantage of the proposition relative to a reduction of taxation, even 994 with a view to increase the amount of our Revenue. Seeing the effect of taking duties off the luxuries of the higher classes of society only, what effect might we not expect from duties being taken off the luxuries of the lower classes, whose numbers were so much greater? Besides the gratification of benevolent feelings their Lordships would have the consolatory reflection, that by such reductions they would increase the consumption of these luxuries on such a wide basis, that almost every man who only used a single drop or grain of them would use more than he was accustomed to use, and not only the consumption would be increased, not only the comforts and well-being of the people would be augmented, the revenue of the State would at the same time be increased and improved. The effect of reduction of duty would be felt greatly on the articles of hops and malt; and perhaps to the articles which were to be classed among the necessaries rather than the luxuries of life, he might add sugar, a diminution of the duty on which would be beneficial to all classes. By such reductions we should bring articles like these more within the reach of the community. He also thought that such other taxes might be taken off as affected most considerably the productive industry of the country. It was not merely that the amount of taxation taken off would afford relief to the country to the precise extent of the reductions in a pecuniary point of view, but the diminution would occasion a sort of elasticity among various interests, and excite a spirit and engender habits to which Parliament might look for the most advantageous results upon the general welfare of the community. Looking to the consideration of the necessity of preserving good faith with the public creditor, when we came to examine the value of the Sinking Fund towards the attainment of that object, it would appear that the best security of all Sinking Funds consisted in the productive industry of the country. Placing himself in the situation of a great fundholder (which he was not), he should have no hesitation in saying, "Take away the Sinking Fund, and do what you will with it; but give me in exchange for the Sinking Fund the unshackled industry of the people, which will afford me the best and soundest ultimate security." He should be prepared to give his assent to any motion for inquiry likely to be conducted in 995 such a form as the nature of the occasion appeared to call for; likely to obtain a sober and deliberate investigation; but for the reasons stated, he did not think an inquiry at the bar of the House calculated to throw light upon the subject of the state of the country, so as to enable their Lordships to legislate with confidence in reference to it, or in a manner that would afford satisfaction to the country; and it was upon these grounds that he felt himself reluctantly obliged to negative the Motion of the noble Earl.
said, he arose at that late hour of the debate, for the purpose of proposing an amendment to their Lordships. At the same time, he could assure their Lordships that he felt no disposition to attempt to embarrass the Government by any vote of his, or by proposing the adoption of any particular measure of his own, far less by supporting the noble Earl's Motion, which contained more than met the eye, and came upon the House cum quibusdam aliis, the particulars of which had not been stated by the noble Earl. However, the opinions of the noble Earl were well known, and no doubt he would take an opportunity of endeavouring to couple them in some way with his Motion if it were carried. It was lest these opinions should be introduced and acted on, that he did not support the Motion. However, he thought some inquiry necessary; because, if a change of system, arising out of such inquiry, were not adopted, he saw no reason to think that we should find ourselves in a better situation at the end of the next fifteen years, than we were in at present after fifteen years of peace. Their Lordships had been given to understand by the Ministers, that they had no plan to propose for the relief of the country; and although it might be proper, as a general rule, to avoid interfering or meddling too much with the country, there were times when such interference was absolutely necessary, and the present he took to be exactly such a period. If the vessel were aground during the ebb-tides, it might be very well to wait till the spring tides came to float it, and no exertion might be necessary; but if the vessel grounded during the spring-tides, it would be necessary for the crew to stir themselves to free it from the sand which choked it up, as they could expect no assistance from any thing but their own exertions. Such was the situation of the 996 country: we were past the point at which things might be left to themselves, we must rely upon a judicious and active interference. It was said that in the description of the distress that existed there was some exaggeration: possibly it might be so, but would any one deny that the situation of the country at present was very unsatisfactory; would it be denied that if we were not in a stationary condition we were at least in a state of extremely slow advancement? Look at trade and manufacture: profits were little or none, wages exceedingly reduced; he admitted that there was some degree of employment, but at a very low rate. In Barnsley, wages were so low as to make up but 20d. a head per week in each labouring family. In other places there was employment, but at such wages as enabled the labourer to save nothing. Every thing was spent upon the bare necessaries of existence. How did this tell, not only upon the manufacturing but on the agricultural community? It reacted upon rents: if the manufacturing population could merely procure the necessaries of life, they had nothing to spend upon its comforts or luxuries, and therefore it was, that agricultural produce was at a low price. Why did manufactured goods sell at a low rate? Was the noble Duke (of Wellington) aware what it was that limited and settled the price of manufactured goods, of which we made more than we consumed? It was regulated by the continental market. How increase the price of our surplus manufactured goods? By taking that from the Continent which it could give us in return for them. Raise prices, and you raise wages: increase the wages of the manufacturing population, and you benefit the agricultural interests. An increase of the wages of the manufacturing classes would be attended by an increase of the wages of agricultural labourers, though not exactly to the same extent; rents would rise, and the whole country would be benefitted. We must extend our market if we wished to benefit the country. If we could not go the whole length that might be desirable in this way, at least let us not be longer duped by the East-India Company and the Bank. We had suffered for years and years by their robberies. By these and other causes was the country paralyzed; but we had the cure in our own hands, not by enriching one class and impoverishing another, as in the case of 997 alterations of the currency, but by throwing open trade, increasing our foreign commerce, and thus contributing in the highest degree possible to the prosperity of the country. The noble Viscount attributed our present sufferings to the transactions of the last twenty five years —this must be a ground of satisfaction to those who had opposed the profusion of those times. He (Lord King) claimed the honour of being one of these. Among other things, he had opposed a paper-currency, although Lord Liverpool frequently asserted that it gave us increased facilities and advantages in war, and drew out the resources of the country to their utmost extent. Lord Liverpool only took a one sided view of the question: a paper currency might give us facilities in war, but what did it do in peace? It was the great cause of our present difficulties. The House had heard something of reduction of expenditure, and a diminution of taxation;—why? Because the taxes had fallen off. At the termination of the war it was said we could not go on without a Property-tax: it was taken away from Ministers, yet they contrived to get on. In 1821, a period of distress, reductions, were made; but in 1824, a time of prosperity, we got back to our old extravagance; so, in 1829, there had been a falling-off of the revenue, and that compelled reductions, of which we should not otherwise have heard. He was a little sceptical on the subject of some of the reductions talked of. The noble Duke (of Wellington) said, that his plan was, when an office became vacant, to put in a pensioner. Now, in the Navy Estimates, page 24, in the list of superannuations and pensions to Commissioners, Secretaries, &c, formerly employed in the Civil Department of the Navy, since January, 1829, he found the name of the hon. Robert Dundas (whose office had been reduced), with an allowance of 500l. a year tacked to it, and that of the hon. W. Bathurst (also reduced) with an allowance of 400l. per annum. It. would seem as if the noble Duke's plan was first of all to make, officers, in order afterwards to make them pensioners; and then, finding them pensioners, to make them officers again, as a saving to the public. Here was an allowance of 900l. a year to these two gentlemen; compare that with the pension and pay of Sir Robert Barlow, one of the most meritorious officers 998 that ever entered the public service of the country. His salary as a Commissioner was 416l. 13s. 4d., which added to 456l. 5s., his Rear-admiral's half-pay did not amount to the sum received by two gentlemen of whose services nobody had ever heard. The noble Lord proceeded to draw a contrast between the state of the country, now, and subsequently to the last peace. The period between 1782 and 1792 was one of the greatest prosperity; while the fifteen years since 1815, to say the best, evinced a most feverish state of recovery from the mischiefs entailed upon us by the war. It would be disingenuous to omit stating that the Corn-laws were very different during these two periods. In the former period there was a nominal duty of 6d. a quarter on the importation of corn. It was unnecessary to do more than allude to the present state of the trade in that article. He did not consider a high price of corn to be consistent with a state of prosperity, or an advantageous condition of the Revenue. The noble Lord concluded by moving an Amendment on the resolution of the noble Earl, "That a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the depressed state of the agricultural and manufacturing interests of the kingdom, for the purpose of ascertaining whether any and what relief could be afforded by an extension of foreign trade."
The Marquis of Bute
was of opinion, that there were not sufficient grounds for inquiry; and stated, on his own actual knowledge, that the distress was only partial. He was not insensible to the distress, and had done what he could to alleviate it. During the last two months, he considered that a good deal of improvement had taken place among the manufacturing and ship-building interests. He reposed the utmost confidence in the present Government, and gave them credit for a desire to relieve the country to the utmost of their ability. He wished those taxes which pressed the most heavily on the poorer classes to be taken off: he might mention the taxes upon hops, beer, and coals carried coast-ways. The noble Marquis concluded by expressing his determination to oppose both motions for inquiry.
said, that the noble Baron had selected rather invidiously the name of an individual for remark, though he knew that other individuals were in a 999 similar situation. The noble Baron must know that all pensions for services were paid by a certain scale, which had been regulated by act of Parliament; and by this scale, Sir R. Barlow (to whose case the noble Lord had alluded) received nearly the full amount of his former salary. The noble Viscount said, he thought it was necessary also to add, that the assertion that Government put persons into offices merely with a view of giving them pensions, was utterly unfounded.
observed, that to the names of the persons whom he had mentioned, no number of years of service whatever was attached.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
would vote against the original Motion and the Amendment, because he expected no relief from the means proposed to be adopted. The noble Duke (of Wellington) had stated that the agricultural distress could not be so great, as meat and timber now bore nearly as high prices as at most other periods. He denied the correctness of the noble Duke's statement as to timber; he (Lord Wharncliffe) could now only get 2s. 6d. a foot for timber, which formerly brought 5s. 6d., so great was the reduction caused in the price of the article by the importation of foreign timber. It had fallen at least 100l. per cent. With respect to meat, by whatever process the price was kept up in town, it had fallen greatly in value in many parts of the country, and fat stock fetched very little more than lean.
§ The Duke of Wellington
observed, that what he had said was, that at present meat and timber both brought prices nearly equal to those which they produced when taxes were much higher.
The Earl of Darnley
said, that if he thought any advantage were to be expected from the inquiry which it was proposed to institute, he should vote for it; but he was not of opinion that this was the case. He contended that the distress was not so great as had been supposed by some; and expressed his conviction that we were arrived at the lowest point of depression, and that both in agricultural and manufacturing affairs we might even now see cause for sanguine hopes of a return to a better state. He gave the Government credit for sincerity in their attempts to carry reductions into effect, but thought that they might be carried much farther, Sir H. Parnell had stated, 1000 in his valuable financial work, that more by 1,300,000l. was now paid for the collection of a revenue of 54,000,000l. than was formerly paid for the collection of a revenue of 58,000,000l.; here was ample room for reduction.
expressed the great satisfaction he felt at hearing the luminous speeches of the noble Mover, and the noble Marquis (Lansdown), but as he thought no good could result from so wide and indefinite an inquiry, he begged the noble Earl to withdraw his motion.
§ Earl Stanhope
, in reply, stated that he had not brought forward his Motion, of which he had given due notice from the love, as the noble Duke insinuated, of making a fine speech. He declared that he had no love for talking, but he would at all times freely and unreservedly state his opinion on public affairs. He conceived it was the duty of the people to remonstrate, and of the Peers who felt their grievances to echo their complaints; and if they were not allowed to do so, he should be at a loss to discover the difference between a government practically despotic and theoretically free. The distress of the country was he believed rapidly increasing, and he could look forward to nothing but calamity from neglecting to remedy it. He trusted that he knew what was his duty to his country under such circumstances, and that he should always have the courage to perform it.
then divided on the Original Motion: Content 15 present, proxies 10; Total 25: Not Content 67 present, proxies 51; Total 118; Majority against the Motion 93.
|List of the Minority.|
§ Against this vote the Earl of Eldon entered the following; Protest,1001
§ "First, Because we are convinced that the distress which prevailed in this Kingdom at the time of the commencement of the present Session of Parliament, and which his Majesty must have been induced to believe, and have been advised to represent to Parliament as partial, was at that period most severely felt in almost all parts of the Kingdom, and that it has since increased and continues to increase.
§ "Secondly, Because it has been stated to Parliament that the distress so represented to be only partial was to be attributed to the seasons, and to other causes not under legislative control, and the representation so made whilst it states a self-evident truth respecting the seasons, omits all mention what the other causes of distress are, and Parliament therefore has not the means of ascertaining, without further inquiry, whether such causes are or are not under legislative control.
§ "Thirdly, Because we think that it is the duty of this House not to rest satisfied with respect to matters of such importance without instituting a solemn inquiry, in order to ascertain what are the causes which have produced extreme distress throughout the Kingdom, or the greatest part thereof; and whether that distress can by any and what legislative measures be removed or alleviated; and because it is we conceive, the duty of Parliament, without any delay, to the utmost of its power, by all just means to endeavour to alleviate it.
§ "Fourthly, Because we think that if it should be found upon satisfactory inquiry that the causes of the distress cannot be removed, or the distress be alleviated by the Legislature, his Majesty's subjects will not fail duly to appreciate the earnest endeavours of Parliament to relieve them, and then they will cease to labour under an aggravation of their distress, occasioned by their present belief that if the distress cannot be wholly removed it may be materially alleviated; an aggravation of distress from which it may be in the power of Parliament to relieve them, by ascertaining what are (other than the seasons) the causes of the distress, and whether such other causes are or are not under legislative control.
§ (Signed) ELDON."
§ The following Peers afterwards signed the Protest:—1002
§ Stanhope, Northwick, Churchill, Teynham, Richmond, Lennox, and Radnor.