HL Deb 14 April 1842 vol 62 cc457-8
Lord Western,

in presenting a petition from the farmers of Essex, said, that the petitioners complained of the injury they should sustain from the proposed alteration of the Corn-laws, and stated this impost was to be considered as a tenant's tax, and not as a landlord's tax. They also complained of being deceived by the right hon. Gentle-roan at the head of the Government, and by their own representatives. The noble Lord said, he could bear his testimony to the fact, that the belief among the farmers was general, that they had been deceived by the present Government, and they knew, they had been deceived by their own representatives. The feeling which had been expressed on a recent occasion, that the Government measure had driven the farmers from the frying-pan into the fire, was universal in his county, and would be universally expressed, but that the Conservative landlords kept down the spirit of farmers to the utmost extent in their power. He did firmly believe, that he represented fairly what was the feeling of the farmers in the county in which he resided.

The Duke of Wellington:

As a day is fixed for the discussion of this subject, I think it would be as well—probably more fair—if noble Lords would refrain from the use of such harsh expressions as that the country has been deceived by the right hon. Gentleman, at the head of the Government, in another place. I think these expressions ought at least to be avoided, until the House can come to a fair discussion on the question, and when the noble Lord may have an opportunity of stating how, where, when, and in what language, my right hon. Friend deceived the public on this question. I repeat, my Lords, that I think the noble Lord's candour should at least have prompted him to say how, where, and when that deception was practised, before he came down, and in set terms, on the mere presentation of a petition, pronounced a charge of this description. My Lords, I deny the imputation as formally and as distinctly, as the noble Lord has made it. I say, it is not true.

Lord Western

The noble Duke says, that my assertion is not true. I tell the noble Duke and the House, that the tenantry of the county in which I reside, believe, that they have been deceived by the Government and by their representatives. The conduct of the right hon. Baronet, at the head of the Government, in 1838, 1839, and 1840, on the subject of the Corn-laws, naturally led to the conclusion, that he would take a similar course in the present year. Who could imagine, from the opinions formerly expressed by the right hon. Baronet, that he would introduce such a measure as that which he has now proposed? I don't say, that he has wilfully deceived the agriculturists; but his conduct led to the conception, on their part, that he would never have entertained the measures now before the country.

Petition laid on the Table.

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