HL Deb 25 March 1830 vol 23 cc834-5
Lord Suffield

said, he had to present to the House Petitions from the owners and occupiers of land in the several hundreds in the county of Norfolk, complaining of great distress, caused by the excessive burthen of Taxation, from part of which they prayed to be relieved, more particularly from the burthen of the duty on malt. The petitioners complained that they were now in a worse situation than they were ten years ago, and they stated, that the capital of the farmer had been very materially reduced, which proved that his trade had been a losing one. In adverting to the distress of the country, it was not his intention to advocate the interest of one class more than another because he happened to belong to it. He had been an enemy to the Corn-laws from the beginning, because he felt that they failed in giving that protection to the home-grower which was intended, and at the same time they had not produced any advantage to the consumer. Bread was still too dear, though the farmer did not derive any benefit from the high price. What the farmer required was, a reduction of rent, and that had taken place to a considerable extent, and a still greater reduction must take place. The petitioners, he admitted, did not pray for any such reduction, but there was no doubt that it would be a relief to them. Indeed, too high rents could not be long continued, for in the result they would operate to the injury of the party receiving, as well as to the party paying them. The distress of the country, however, did not arise in any great degree from that source. He looked upon our present condition as a just retribution on us for not having availed ourselves of the opportunities which had been afforded us of obtaining effectual relief. That relief, in his opinion, might have been obtained, and was still to be obtained, by a proper administration of the laws respecting the Poor. By a due attention to those laws— not by the farmers, for the matter did not rest with them, but by the gentlemen and magistrates of the country—the burthens of the poor-rates might be greatly, and in some parts of the country, wholly reduced. He could prove that this had actually taken place in some places, and that was more conclusive than any reasoning he could offer to their Lordships on the subject. He would not pursue this point farther, as a more fit opportunity would present itself. The petitioners also prayed, and he fully joined them in that prayer, for a reduction of taxation, because he considered a large reduction was necessary to relieve the country. He rejoiced at what had been done in that way, but he did not think it went far enough. He should like to see a reduction of the duty on Malt, on Coals, Soap, Candles, and other necessary articles of consumption which bore very heavily on the people. At the same time he felt grateful to Government for the relief it had already afforded, and he would venture humbly to hope that still greater reductions of taxation would be made.

Petitions read, and to lie on the Table.

The Earl of Eldon

, referring to what fell from him on a former occasion in respect to the debt of the country, said, that what he stated had been incorrectly given. He was represented to have said, in allusion to the alteration in the currency, that debts contracted in a depreciated currency ought to be paid in a depreciated currency, or at the same rate they were contracted. He was in the recollection of several noble Lords, and he could appeal to them in stating that he had said no such thing,— quite the reverse. He should consider such a proposition as extremely unjust.