HL Deb 18 April 1842 vol 62 cc572-638
The Earl of Ripon

moved the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Corn Importation Bill. The order, having been read, the noble Earl addressed their Lordships as follows:—My Lords,—Although the measure to which your Lordships' atten- tion is about to be called has become from not unfrequent discussion familiar to you, and although the bill, the second reading of which I am about to press on your attention, does not proceed on any new principle, but is only a modification of the existing law, I feel I should not fully discharge the duty which has devolved on me, if besides briefly laying before your Lordships the provisions of the bill, and the grounds on which it has been submitted to Parliament, I did not also make a few observations of a more general nature. My Lords, I have always felt, and I still continue to feel, that the present is one of the most—if not the most — important questions which Parliament could be called upon to decide. It relates to a subject in which are involved the prosperity and contentment of the people and the safety of the State, for what can be more important to a nation than an adequate supply of the necessaries of life at a reasonable rate? The question before us involves, as I have just said, great interests,—the interests of agriculture, of manufactures—the interests of those who naturally seek to derive profit from the employment of their capital. Each of these is important in itself—I know that they all are important—but, my Lords, I think that, however we may estimate the separate or aggregate importance of these, there is one consideration which rises above them in importance, and that is the consideration by what means the people may be most easily fed. At the same time, as this consideration is of so much importance to the nation, so much the more difficult will be the decision as to the means proposed. I am well aware, my Lords, that some of the highest authorities as statesmen have differed as to the mode in which a measure of this kind should be carried into effect. Men of the soundest views—of the greatest practical knowledge—differ as to the means by which the people may be most easily fed; but, my Lords, the question is so mixed up with an eager sense of supposed clashing and conflicting interests at one side and the other, that it is almost impossible to impress on either the real identity of those interests. It is so mixed up with violence—with charges of ruin which it is feared will be brought on as one or another mode is adopted, that it is almost impossible to come to any satisfactory discussion of the question. There is, however, one inference which your Lordships will allow me to draw from the paramount importance and difficulty of the question-that in proportion as the subject is important and its difficulties great, it behoves us so to discuss it, as not to share in or excite those angry feelings without which it has hitherto seldom been debated. In this feeling, which I now humbly venture to recommend to your Lordships, it shall be my endeavour to lay my views of it before your Lordships, and if in the course of my remarks I should be led aside by such considerations as I now deprecate, I hope your Lordships will intimate to me in some very significant manner that I have departed from my own rule. My Lords, in considering how the question (by what means the people may be most easily fed) is to be legislatively brought about, I find I have to deal with two great antagonist principles—one, that all restrictions on the importation of foreign corn should be removed; the other, that the importation should be regulated, and restrictions partly retained. Let me for a moment, my Lords, advert to the first of these principles, let me for a moment consider the fitness, the propriety, the justice, of this principle,—of abandoning all protection to corn of home growth, of abandoning all restriction on the importation of foreign corn. My Lords, I am ready to admit, that there are considerations which would appear at first to recommend this principle in many points of view. It has kind, generous, charitable feeling in its favour. There is something very gratifying to the poor man to be told that if Providence should shorten his supplies at home, be has the whole world open to him, and that the injury which might be feared from an unproductive season here will not be severely felt by him, as he is sure to be supplied by the surplus of other countries. This theory is plausible, and, as I have said, has many things apparently to recommend it, but, my Lords, the more attentively I have considered the subject the more I am convinced, that no principle is more fallacious or more likely to mislead those who would force it on the attention of Parliament or the public. My Lords, I have always said that, this question is one of a choice of difficulties; and if I could be persuaded by fair argument that the people could be fairly and cheaply fed by the withdrawal of the protection now given to agriculture, I should not be found amongst those who would continue the restrictions on foreign corn; but, my Lords, I hold it a great evil to adopt a plan which I am convinced would have just the opposite consequences. My Lords, the great evil which I anticipate from the adoption of the principle that all restrictions on the importation of foreign corn should be withdrawn is this, that the people of this country would be compelled to depend on other countries for their supply of corn—not to meet an occasional deficiency, but to depend altogether on other countries for the main part of their annual supply — that such dependence would be leaning on a broken reed, and that they would be habitually in danger of the failure of that supply. No one doubts, my Lords, that the progress of agriculture in this country has for many years past been most remarkable. That progress has been such as to keep pace with the demands of the people (not entirely, for that was impossible) but has been such as to supply—not entirely, but almost—the wants of our greatly increased population, and that with very little addition from foreign countries we may be said to be able to rely on our own resources. From many causes, into which it is not my intention, nor is it necessary, to enter, the cost of agricultural production in this country has become higher than in other countries of Europe. It is quite clear, from what I have said, that the amount of our agricultural produce has been brought nearly equal to the demand; but this could not have been done unless capital had been applied to the land, and obtained such a return as induced the capitalist to continue his investment; but if you take away the protection which has been given to our home produce, you will cause the withdrawal of some of the capital from the land, and, of course, the produce will be less; and you will then have to depend on foreign supply, not only for the amount you were in the habit of getting, but also for the amount you would lose by the withdrawal of a portion of the capital heretofore invested in the land. I may be told that it is the better land, and not the poor land, which would go out of cultivation; but that does not alter my argument, for I contend that the introduction of foreign corn consequent on the removal of protection to our home growth, would make us dependent on foreigners for our supply just in proportion to the amount of the foreign corn introduced, in addition to the amount which we were annually in the habit of importing. Now, my Lords, if this be the case, and if the production of our own soil shall be materially affected, as I contend it will be by the removal of all restrictions on the importation of foreign corn, let us see what prospect we shall have of an adequate supply from other countries. This is a part of the question not often referred to in discussion. My Lords, it appears to me that if we diminish the amount of the home produce by 10 per cent. on the whole, it will be a matter of doubt whether we shall be able to get an adequate supply from any part of the world. I do not know of any country in Europe from which we can expect any such increased supply. From several documents which have been laid on the Table relating to this subject, your Lordships will find that there are only two states in Europe from which we could expect any material addition to the amount of our present supply from them. These are Denmark and Mecklenburg. In the papers to which I have referred it is stated distinctly, that notwithstanding the encouragement which would be held out by the repeal of the Corn-laws, the utmost supply upon which we could rely from foreign countries in Europe would not exceed 2,250,000 quarters of wheat; but if your Lordships will examine the returns on the Table, you will find that this is an exaggerated statement. From Palermo there is no export of grain; Warsaw is included in the Dantzic account. For the last thirteen years the average of our imports has been about 1,500,000 quarters of wheat; if to this you add 2,500,000 of quarters, the diminution of your home growth, the difficulty will be greater to supply the deficiency. I am aware, my Lords, that this argument cuts both ways; for if the amount which we require be so small, and the difficulty of supplying it great, it will operate favourably, at least less injuriously, to the home grower. It certainly will show that the fears on one hand will not be realised, nor the hopes on the other prove well founded. But, my Lords, in making those remarks my object is to show that the abolition of protection to the home grower will not secure a steady and certain supply from other countries. The papers before us show that we cannot get any large supply from Prussia. The answer to the questions put by Government as to whether an increase of a regular and steady demand from this country would not increase the supply in a short time will show how far that increase may be relied on. The question was put as to St. Peters-burgh? And the answer was—No. Riga? —No. Odessa?—No. We cannot calculate on any material addition to the amount heretofore got from these sources. We might get some, but it would be small. The same question is put as to Dantzic? —No, Konigsberg?—No. Stettin?—No. Memel?—Yes, The increase would here be about one quarter on the supply obtained heretofore; but, then, let it be remembered that the whole amount from Memel was 5,000 quarters, and the addition of one-fourth would go a short way in filling up the deficiency of our produce. From Elsinore I find that we should have some small increase, but it would be very trifling compared with what we should require. From Hamburgh we should get but little, as the greater part taken to that place would be from the Prussian states. My Lords, I do not say that the means of supply in all those places would not be increased after a series of years, but then it must be by the application of capital to the land, which a steady demand for the produce at a remunerating price would insure; but, my Lords, what would then be the consequence? We should then have to pay a high price instead of a low one, and the only advantage we should have gained would be, that if we did get an adequate supply, we should have it at a high rate, for, no doubt, my Lords, the foreign grower would pay himself for the application of his capital, or, which was the same thing, he would make us pay him, and we should have no alternative, for by throwing our own land out of cultivation by want of encouragement we should be at his mercy, and if we did not give his price, we should not have his grain. Let me now, my Lords, say a word as to Russia, on which some of the advocates of no restriction are disposed to place great reliance for a large supply of corn. But, my Lords, a few facts will show that we can place no firm reliance on Russia for a permanent supply. Russia at some times exports largely, at others she suffers grievously from a defective supply. Taking only the last nine years into consideration, six of them were years of bad harvest, and in three years she suffered from actual famine, to such an extent, indeed, that she was obliged to suspend the import duty on foreign corn. My Lords, when we talk of the effect of our Corn-laws and the effect of our partial restrictions, we are apt to forget that other countries have also their Corn-laws. My Lords, it is a great mistake to suppose they have not. Russia has a duty of 13s. 4d. the quarter on wheat and 4s. per quarter on rye, which is the food of the people. Indeed, all European states have some Corn-laws or other, except Prussia and Denmark. My Lords, we hear it constantly urged that it is uncharitable, that it is unchristian, that our artisans should be called upon to compete with the inhabitants of countries which have no tax on corn. This, however, is an erroneous assumption. Prussia has a tax of 12s. the quarter on the consumption of wheat, and bread is dearer at this moment at Berlin than in London. This tax is not directly levied on the wheat, but is commuted for a kind of poll-tax on the consumers; but it is in this way a heavy tax on consumers. But, my Lords, I have, and so have many of your Lordships, heard the United States of America referred to as a country from which we might derive supplies of corn. A little examination will show this opinion to be greatly erroneous. The price of corn in many of the States is not much lower than with us. Take, for instance, the average prices in Philadelphia for the last twenty-four years, and you will find that in ten years out of those twenty-four, the price of wheat was higher than in England; and if we include the carriage, we shall find that it was higher there in twelve years out of those twenty-four. I would here refer your Lordships to a publication on this subject in the United States, to show what are the feelings of Americans themselves as to the capacity of their country to afford an extensive supply of corn to other countries. The noble Earl here read an extract from the publication, which was in substance, that,— The cultivation of wheat in the states for the last fifty years was carried little beyond the wants of the people and the small amount exported, which export was occasioned by the unusually high demands for it in other countries. The wheat raised in the time mentioned was within that section of the country occupied by the old states, and was about equal to the home consumption. Any surplus shipped to foreign countries or sent to the Canadas was produced by the states north and west of the Ohio river. Now, it is a striking fact that the corn so imported is produced in that section of our country the most remote from our Atlantic ports, and with the aid of all artificial communications, it cannot reach those ports except at a very considerable additional charge." That goes, I think, to show that from the United States you cannot hope to derive that great supply which the sanguine anticipations of those who are for no restriction at all lead them to expect. I should say, however, that in many parts of the old States of the Union cultivation has exceedingly diminished, and that much of the land now growing corn is very scanty in its production. The paper continues:— Extensive as has been the increased cultivation in wheat, the consumption at home ' has kept pace with it, and there is little apparent improvement on the average of any ten years in the course of the last fifty years. So far then we may safely conclude that any idea of relying upon the United States to make up any material deficiency of our home supply would only lead to extreme disappointment. If that be true, this scheme would go to disturb, to interfere with the successful application of capital in our own country to this most important object, and all for no purpose— without attaining its end; and it would, therefore, be running an unnecessary risk; indeed, be a sort of insanity to attempt it. The inference one must draw from these facts is, that it is much wiser, much safer, to rely essentially upon our own produce; and that in order to assure the safety of that reliance, we ought to give protection to that produce. That inference is a fair one; and the next question we come to is, what ought to be the nature and extent of that protection? It is obvious that protection can only be effectually given by some system of duty. That may be either a fixed duty or a duty fluctuating inversely as the price. I am not upon this occasion about to enter into a comparison between those two kinds of duty. My noble Friend opposite (Lord Melbourne) has given notice of his intention on a future stage of this bill to move some amendment which will have the effect of raising that question, and I am therefore absolved at this moment from the necessity of arguing, as otherwise I should be prepared to do, against that scheme, which, I think, like the former I mentioned, could only end in disappointment. I will now proceed to discuss, as ' shortly as I can, the remaining part of the subject, that is, the principle of protection by a fluctuating duty; and I will then explain to your Lordships the nature of the bill which now lies on the Table. My Lords, with respect to a duty that fluctuates in the inverse ratio of the price, whatever objections may be made to it, whatever defects there may be in the existing law in applying it, and however desirable or necessary it may be, as I think it is, to modify the application of it by a new law, I cannot conceive that there is anything in the slightest degree inconsistent with equity or justice, if we are to have protection at all, in adjusting that protection in such a way that when there is no longer any necessity for protection to the producer, it should diminish so as to give the benefit of lower prices to the consumer. The principle of an ad valorem duty which presses according to the higher price of an article, is doubtless unjust; but surely the principle itself of a duty fluctuating inversely as the price, is one that is only just; and the simple question is, whether you can so arrange the scale, and so deal with the application of it, as to prevent the recurrence of those evils to which it may have been and may be liable. I know, my Lords, that it is said that we have had thirteen years' experience of the principle, and that it has totally failed, and that therefore some other principle ought to be resorted to. I confess I cannot see how it has failed. I don't say that there is no defect in it— nothing to be remedied—that it cannot be improved; on the contrary, I think it can; but I cannot admit that the scale, as a principle, has failed. What was the principle of it? It was to give you foreign corn when you wanted it; but to keep it out when you did not. That was the principle of it, and in that way has it been applied during the last thirteen years. It is true that you have imported 1,000,000 of quarters in a year; but that has happened in those periods of the thirteen years when your own supply was not sufficient for the demand, and not when the supply was sufficient and your own prices were exceedingly low. So far, then, from having failed, it proves that the principle has worked according to the views of those by whom the law was enacted. But then I certainly may be asked "If that be your opinion, why do you propose to alter it?" That I admit is a very natural question, and a question that one is bound to answer. But if I am right at all in the view I have stated upon this subject, it is one to which the attention of Parliament must from time to time be directed with the utmost vigilance. My Lords, the interests concerned in if are too mighty to permit the Legislature to abstain from taking, when necessary, an enlarged view of all the circumstances of the case. It does not at all follow that the extent of the protection necessary at one time is as a matter of course necessary at another; and I think it would not be difficult to show, and I will endeavour to show, that the protection which the law now gives is beyond the necessity of the case; but there are other circumstances which must be taken into the consideration of this question. Your Lordships are aware of the great increase in the population of this country since the present act passed. During the last ten years there are upwards of 2,000,000 additional consumers of food—that is the increase in the population; and although it seems to be perfectly clear that the produce of our country has not only not fallen off during that time, but has actually increased, and therefore supplied a considerable portion of the food necessary for that increased population, yet it is also clear from the importation of corn for consumption that has taken place, that it has not supplied the whole; and if there is any truth in the doctrine that the tendency of population is to press on the limits of subsistence, then it is also clear that the circumstances of the case. are already altered by that increase of population, and may be still further altered in time to come if that increase goes on in the same ratio. It is right, therefore, to consider this question at an early period, in order that we may not be taken by surprise when the necessity may come. But, my Lords, there is another point which appears to me to make a difference in regard to this case from the period when the act passed. At that time it was assumed and supposed, and reasonably enough I think,—I am speaking of wheat only—that the quantity of wheat which this country might derive from Ireland would not only be very considerable, but would increase. That has not turned out to be the fact, because during the first six of the last thirteen years, the amount of wheat and flour imported from Ireland into this country was, on an average, 658,000 quarters, a very considerable part of our supply, being nearly one-third of the largest quantity of any foreign corn imported; but that quantity has, during the last seven years, diminished on an average to 427,000. That certainly, is a very important feature in this case, and your Lordships will recollect that one of the most strenuous supporters of the principle of the Corn-laws in this House (a noble Lord who is now engaged in the service of the country elsewhere (Lord Ashburton) said last year, that he considered that point of Ireland to be a material circumstance in the consideration of this subject. Now, what does that alteration in respect to Ireland arise from? It has arisen, my Lords, from two causes; —the one I believe to be this—that it has not been found notwithstanding the high prices of corn in this country, that would appear to offer a never-ending stimulus to the agriculturist in Ireland—it may arise from climate, or from some other cause, I know not but it has not been found so profitable in Ireland to grow wheat for this country as oats. But, my Lords, there is another cause. The consumption of wheat in Ireland, although the production of wheat there is in some respects diminishing, for at all events the surplus is diminishing, is in many parts of the country greatly increasing. It is, my Lords, a most fortunate circumstance. Who can regret that in that country, which has suffered so many evils, the comforts of the people should be increased, and the quality of their food be so much improved It certainly cannot be considered a misfortune; but it does tell upon this country. Some of your Lordships will recollect the time as I do, when a great portion of the people of this country were not supported on wheaten bread, but lived upon bread of barley or rye. That has been greatly altered. The consumption of wheat is much more general amongst the people, and we may naturally think that the same process will go on in Ireland, until at last, in all probability, there will be little or no surplus to export to this country. I say that that is a matter which justifies us in taking the subject of this law into consideration at the present time. I am perfectly prepared to admit that in the working of this law there are defects which ought to be corrected, and the correction of which, so far from inflicting any evil upon any class of the community, above all, so far from inflicting any evil on the producers of this country, will tend to confer the greatest benefit on them. ["Hear."] My noble Friend, Lord Stanhope, perhaps does not agree with me in that, but he will excuse the liberty I take in stating how I think that is established. One defect of the present act is, that which I suspect my noble Friend thinks one of its beauties, viz., that the protection is most extravagantly high. What can be the advantage of a higher protection than is ever brought into operation? The only effect it can have is to injure the principle of protection itself. If you attempt to establish a protection which is not necessary, you go far to injure the principle itself, and destroy the advantage you should derive from it. My Lords, I have reason to know, and so as any one who has had any communication with persons who are competent to form an opinion upon this subject, that there is a general opinion in this country, that the protection of the present law is too high, and not necessary. That defect, in my opinion, should now be remedied. Then, my Lords, there is another objection, and a very strong one, I believe, to the present law—viz., the rapidity with which the duty varies. Your Lordships will recollect, that in the bill which came up to this House in 1827, into which this principle of a graduated scale was first introduced, but which, from circumstances to which it is not necessary to advert, did not pass into a law, the fluctuations were not so rapid as in the law as it now stands. I had the honour of proposing that bill to your Lordships' House. It was very vehemently opposed by some noble Lords, but the House acquiesced in the principle of it, and all the details except one. There was a clause introduced which, though it did not affect this question of the amount of duty, did affect another part of the bill, and which led to its not passing into a law; and on the following year the present law was passed. But that which has been described by some as a jumping scale is undoubtedly a great defect, because when the prices are rising towards the ultimate point, the difference of duty becomes so great, and the temptation to wait until the low duty price is reached is so strong, that the holders of corn are induced, for the sake of greater gain, by getting their corn out at 1s. duty instead of a duty of 10s. or 12s. to keep it until the last moment. It also induces persons to try what effect they can pro- duce upon the average prices which regulate the amount of duty, by operating on them in different markets of the country wherever they think that that dealing can be carried on with any chance of success. I think that that unquestionably is a very considerable defect in the existing law, and the way to correct it is to correct the great inequality of duty at certain points of the scale, and to make the fall much more gradual, thereby taking away almost the only temptation to hold corn until the price arrives at the ultimate point. Your Lordships will find in the papers before me that with regard to wheat, very little comparatively has been taken out for consumption when the prices were rising, and that that has been the consequence of the great difference between the points of the scale to which I allude. But this same jumping scale does not apply to barley and oats; and with respect to those kinds of grain, you will not find the same result. In those grains the highest point of the scale has never been reached, except in one or two instances, and therefore in that case the principle of the existing law operates much more advantageously than it is proved to do with respect to wheat. I have alluded, my Lords, to the question of the averages. That certainly is a point upon which there is always a great deal of sensitiveness exhibited, and perhaps with some reason, though not so much as may appear to some persons. No doubt this system of averages is liable to objections, cogent objections. But I think they have been over-estimated, and that by the mode in which we propose to deal with that subject, they will be entirely removed. The first and best mode of removing them is by removing the temptation that now exists with regard to them; and I think that the new scale which we propose will take away that temptation of raising the prices to the highest point in the markets in order to obtain the lowest amount of duty. In the next place, we propose that they should be taken by a different class of persons, by which I think greater security will be given to transactions of business, and more care taken that frauds, or whatever else they are called, may not be so easily committed as they have been up to this present time. And then, my Lords, we propose what I think is a most important improvement,—namely, the extension of the number of towns from which the averages are taken. It is quite clear, that the wider you make the basis from which the averages are taken, the difficulty of effecting fraud is the more increased, because the progress is of this kind:—it is attempted solely in great markets, where the quantity returned is generally very large, the prices generally high, and the application of the quantity and price to the formation of an average must be effected by an artificial addition to the prices returned. The question has been asked as to what is likely to be the effect on the prices in consequence of including these new towns. I cannot see very well how any sensible effect can be produced, unless the quantity and price in the new towns are mainly higher or lower than in the present towns. For instance, if it were supposed, that the effect of these new towns would be to raise the price 5s. in order to bring about that additional price, the total amount of price in the new towns must exceed the price in the old towns by not less than 10s. Suppose they were pretty equal in number, and the quantity sold in the new towns was pretty equal; then, in order that these new towns should affect the prices of the averages, it is necessary that the additional price beyond that of the old towns should not be less than 10s. That objection, then, has obviously no foundation at all, and, I think, it is generally admitted, that no such effect is likely to be produced. If that be correct, we should gain the advantage of a just statement of the actual sales of corn throughout the kingdom, without introducing any principle to which any objection can possibly be made. I am afraid I have trespassed too long on your Lordships' time in these preliminary observations; but I thought I should not be doing my duty if I had abstained from making them, in order that your Lordships may better understand the proposition I am about to make, and see how far anything I have stated or the reasons I have given may support the adoption of that measure. The proposition, then, which I have to make to your Lordships is this, that instead of the duty increasing to any amount not defined, the highest amount of duty in the importation of wheat shall be 20s., and shall attach whenever the average price of corn in this country shall be under 51s. It is proposed also, that it shall diminish 1s. for every 1s. increase in price, with two ex- ceptions in the course of the process —that is, that when it arrives at52s. and is under 55s., embracing three stages at each, of which the price will rise 1s.,then the duty shall be the same—namely a duty of 18s.; because, assuming 56s. to be about a fair remunerating price for wheat, this was considered to be a fair advantage to give to the producer. After which it is proposed that the duty shall diminish 1s. as the price rises 1s. till the price reaches 66s., when it is proposed to make the duty 6s, embracing three stages, the object being to diminish the temptation to hold back corn till the highest point is reached, and to induce persons to abstain from holding back under the expectation of gaining a greater benefit. Now, as to the remunerating price: my Lords, it is a difficult thing to say absolutely what is to be considered a remunerating price; but some aid may be gained by considering the price which wheat has reached, combined with our own opinion, for the last thirteen years. Now, for the last thirteen years, the price has been something more than 58s.; so that something between 56s. and 58s. or 60s. would be likely to be a price that will afford a reasonable remuneration, and the maintenance of which is necessary for the protection of the agricultural interests of the country. I have reason to believe that as to wheat, the price is considered to be a fair one, and I do not find it has been a subject of material complaint, and I think it may be presumed to be satisfactory to the country; but I am aware that with respect to barley and oats, a different opinion is entertained, and it is supposed that the protection is very inadequate for these two important grains. Now, the principle we have endeavoured to observe in fixing the duty on barley and oats is to adhere as nearly as we could to the principle of the existing scale. Wheat being at 50s., the duty is 1l.; barley being at 25s. the duty is 11s., rather more than half. Formerly it was supposed that the duty on barley might be taken at half, and therefore we considered that the making barley equal to about one half, in proportion to wheat, would be sufficient. And, on the same principle in a part of this scale wherein the average price of barley is 27s. and under 30s., the duty is proposed to be fixed at 9s. Now, it is supposed that this duty on barley will expose our agriculturists to a most ruinous competition with foreign barley. I confess that, looking at the facts, I cannot see any grounds for entertaining that apprehension. I am afraid, my Lords, I weary you by these details; but they will be necessary at some stage of the discussion, and, perhaps, they are better entered into now. It appears, with regard to barley, that it has been assumed that it could be put on board ship in a foreign port at 19s, 6½d. per quarter; but before it could be brought here, there must be an addition to that price, of freight and charges of many descriptions, and it is impossible to take these at less than 4s. 6d. or 5s.; so that the total amount of the charges would raise the price of the foreign barley to 24s. or 25s. It is clear, therefore, that if this be the case, the protection given by this scale is sufficient up to any price short of 31s.; and I cannot see anything to induce me to think that the protection is not an adequate one, looking to what we before considered a sufficient protection to barley. But the whole bill proceeds upon the principle of diminishing protection; and, therefore, the question must be urged by those who object to the whole scheme, and cannot be an objection in the opinion of those who are disposed to admit that a reduction of protection should take place. In the bill of 1827, which did not pass into a law, the protection proposed, though a great deal higher when the prices were low, at this point did not differ very materially from that now proposed; from 31s. to 32s., the duly was to be 8s. 6d., whereas, by the present bill, it is only 7s., being a reduction of only 1s. 6d. a quarter. I cannot, my Lords, see that that this scale of duty can give rise to any well-founded apprehensions. I have heard a great many people say, that we shall have a large quantity of foreign barley brought into the country; but, my Lords, I have not heard any part of Europe named whence an increased quantity of barley is likely to be imported, except the small country of Denmark. But Denmark is a country of extremely limited extent and capacity, and whilst her power of production is limited, her population is increasing, so that her own demand is augmenting; and it does not appear to me that any apprehension need be entertained, even supposing that a few thousand quarters of barley may be brought from this small country. It is clear, if the effect of this bill be, as we expect, to produce an increased demand, that it will increase the price of barley in the country. It is not improbable, supposing that there is any weight in the argument as to the effect of the bill, that there will be an increased demand, which will lead to an increased price; so that the protection would not be inadequate, but, on the contrary, under the circumstances, will be found quite sufficient. With regard to Germany, whence also some barley is expected to be imported, the grain in the north of Germany is by no means of a superior quality, and from the nature of the soil is not likely to be increased in quantity; and it is stated that Prussia could not grow good malting barley, if at all, without going through an expensive process of improving the soil. In south Germany they do not grow barley for exportation; the consumption of it is very great for beer. Immense quantities of barley are grown in Bavaria; but there is no chance of any being sent into this country thence, the expense, besides the duties, of sending it down the Neckar to the Rhine, and from the Rhine to Holland, whence it has to be shipped, affording an ample protection, in addition to the duty, to our agriculturists. Much the same observation may be made with respect to oats. I think all apprehensions as to the quantity of oats likely to be imported, and the thousands and thousands of acres that will be thrown out of cultivation, are entirely groundless. Under the most favourable circumstances there could not be more than 800,000 quarters introduced; once the quantity has been 900,000 quarters, sometimes 500,000 and 600,000, and sometimes none at all; and when I find that the quantity of oats consumed in this country is 15,000,000 quarter!, arid that it has a protecting duty of 6s. up to 23s., I cannot conceive that this is hot an adequate protection to those whose industry is employed in this branch of cultivation. I believe I have now stated to your Lordships enough to show the nature of this measure; I have laid before you many of the grounds on which I think it to be a measure which you will do well to pass; I have stated the reasons which induce me to believe that the fears' entertained of it are all chimerical and fallacious, and I do not think it necessary to do more than express my confident belief and hope that the measure will work beneficially for all classes in the country. This is the sole object which those who framed it have in view, and if they could have been guilty of the crime of endeavouring to deceive the people of this country upon this subject, I can only say, that they would be guilty not only of the most miserable, as well as the basest, political offence of which a Ministry could be guilty, but they would commit an act of inconceivable folly. The people of this country are too quick-sighted and too enlightened to be so deceived; they are capable of judging of measures and of the motives of those who bring them forward, and with a firm reliance upon their sense of justice, and upon their construction of the motives which actuate the Government and the Legislature, I am convinced that this bill will be received by them as a satisfactory adjustment of this great question. We, my Lords, have done our duty in preparing this bill, and Parliament will, we hope, do its duty in passing it.

Earl Stanhope

said, it was singular that some of those who had originally recommended the existing Corn-law, and had stated that it was perfectly unexceptionable in its mode of operation, should now come forward to propose what they themselves admitted (he quoted their words) to be a very considerable reduction of the protection which the Corn-law afforded to agriculture. The sliding-scale was no part or parcel of the principle of the Corn-law; it was only one of the modes—it might or might not be the best—of executing the principle of the Corn-law—that is, of affording protection to agriculture: he would show presently what sort of protection was now offered—a sliding-scale equally pernicious with a fixed duty. He concurred in the opinion which the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Melbourne) had expressed in his speech in 1840:— My noble Friend carefully abstained," the noble Viscount observed, "from saying what it is that he means to do—whether his object is to have a fixed duty, or a diminution of the present ascending and descending scale; but whichever of these alternatives be his plan, as I see clearly and distinctly that the object cannot be carried without a struggle—without causing much ill blood, and a deep sense of grievance—without stirring society to its foundations, and leaving behind every sort of bitterness and animosity. I do not think the advantages to be gained by the change are worth the evils of the Struggle by which, your Lordships may depend upon it, the change could alone be effected. An appeal had been made to the country on this subject, which had returned a most triumphant majority, exceeding the most sanguine expectation of the party opposed to the noble Viscount, and pronouncing the opinion of the majority of the country to be in favour of protection to the agricultural as well as other interests. The conservative candidates bore on their banners that they were friends to agriculture; the defence and preservation of the Corn-law were the watchwords of the party; promises and pledges were given in profusion, and, on the eve of the election, the right hon. Baronet now at the head of the Government, in addressing his constituents at Tamworth, said:— I deprecate a struggle on the subject of the Corn-laws, because I think, as Lord Melbourne did last year, the advantages are not sufficient to counterbalance the risk, and I ask your free suffrages with this frank and explicit declaration of my opinions. Frank and explicit! He saw no frankness here, for he never recollected to have read a sentence that had less. He did not mean to make any verbal criticism, but what was to be understood by "advantages"? Were they the advantages of maintaining the present Corn-laws, or of altering or abandoning them? It was utterly unintelligible if it was meant the advantage of altering or abandoning the present Corn-laws; it was inconsistent with all the right hon. Baronet's previous opinions. If it was meant the advantages of maintaining the present Corn-laws, what was intended by their not being "sufficient to counterbalance the risk?" What risk did the right hon. Baronet incur with an immense and overwhelming majority in both Houses of Parliament ready to support the Corn-laws? He deprecated a struggle—with whom? With the Corn-law league? With the landed interest? It would have been very convenient if the right hon. Baronet had been a little more frank. He need not have informed his constituents at Tamworth what his plans were, but if he had only given them a hint that he intended to make a very considerable diminution of the present protection to the home grower—that the importation of cattle was to be encouraged—it would have had the effect of relieving himself and his Colleagues of the cares and anx- ieties of office. He saw before the close of the last Session of Parliament, clear and unequivocal symptoms of a determination to make a considerable alteration in these laws. [Lord Hardwicke: "Why did not the farmers see it?"] They did not; if they had seen it, things would have taken a different course. Those who had prepared this plan, who had given every possible encouragement and excitement to clamour, had now produced disaffection and discontent amongst the whole agricultural class, and they had lost, and for ever, the attachment of their own political adherents, who might continue to support them, not from attachment, but in order to exclude another party from office. He should not waste the time of their Lordships in saying anything of some of the Minister's adherents; he resigned them, without comment, to the castigation they would be sure to receive from their constituents, whose interests they had deserted, and whose confidence they had betrayed. The noble Earl who had last spoken had avowed, that no satisfactory information had been obtained on the subject, that alone was a sufficient reason for obtaining it by means of a parliamentary inquiry, and till it was obtained no step should have been taken. There was a misapprehension as to the prices of corn abroad. Some supposed because of late years prices were usually high on the continent, as in this country, those prices were to be considered the ordinary prices. There was no precise information since 1827. According to the returns of the British consuls, the average of the prices in 1825, at eight ports in the north of Europe—namely, Copenhagen, Memel, Hamburgh, Konigsberg, Embden, Libau, Rotterdam, and Dantzic, was 18s. 7d. per quarter. He had a petition presented from the Holderness Agricultural Society in 1827, which stated that at Hull, good wheat in bond was sold at 24s. per quarter. Mr. J. Sanders, of Liverpool, stated, in 1836, before a committee of the House of Commons, that he had seen wheat for eight or nine years together, during the last twelve years, produced at 18s. or 20s. a quarter, and he added— If the foreigner had always access to this market, no man can say at what price he will not grow wheat." Mr. Hayne stated, that at Odessa wheat might, in May last, have been purchased at 14s. to 16s. per quarter, and that the freight thence amounted to 12s. per quarter, making the total expense 26s. or 28s. per quarter last year. He had imported "as tine a cargo of wheat as possible," which, including all expenses of freight, &c, cost 27s. per quarter. That statement exactly corresponded with the opinion recently given by two eminent corn-factors at Liverpool, who stated, that under the proposed law, after one or two favourable harvests, the average prices would be 46s. or 48s. per quarter. In the speech of the noble Earl he had admired the ingenuity with which he glided over the most important parts of the bill connected with the reduction of the duty, There was a decrease of duty between the prices of 55s. and 65s. of no less than 1l.4s. 8d. a quarter. The present average duty from 55s. to 66s., both inclusive, is 1l. 16s. 8d.; it is now proposed to reduce the average duty between these prices to 12s., being a reduction of 45 per cent., and which could not be made without most injurious consequences to the agricultural classes. He denied that the present protection was extravagantly high. A letter from Mr. Gladstone, dated the 26th of May last, states, that— In the last and present month large quantities of foreign wheat have been freely imported and entered for consumption at Liverpool and elsewhere, paying a duty of 22s. 8d. per quarter, and leaving a fair profit to the importer." It was now proposed to reduce the duty from 22s. 8d. to 8s.; and it was said that this would inflict no injury on the agriculturists, and that they ought to look upon it as a considerable boon and advantage! His noble Friend in speculating on the probable consequences of the present measure, supposed, without condescending to give the slightest ground or reason for his supposition, that the proposed sliding-scale would have the effect of giving a protection up to a point when the price of wheat should be between 54s. and 58s., say at 56s. He should very much like to know the grounds of this supposition: for he declared that the proposition was utterly untenable. So far from this proposed measure giving the farmers a protection up to 56s., which, as he should presently show, would be inadequate, it would not after favourable seasons give a protection up to 50s. Their Lordships were bound to consider what was a remunerating price to the British grower. This was a point which his noble Friend had passed over with perfect silence, as if it was a matter of no consequence. He would not detain their Lordships by reading agricultural details about ploughings and barrowings; but he knew, that in a part of Buckinghamshire, and that not the worst, corn would not bring a remunerating price unless it was sold in the market for 60s. per quarter. The proposed measure, therefore, would have the ultimate effect of annihilating rent; and with the cessation of rent there would be a cessation of consumption and expenditure; and he would leave their Lordships to judge what effect this would have on the other classes of the community. He did not believe that the land would go out of cultivation. Whether prices were reduced to 50s. or 40s., he did not believe that the land would relapse into a state of nature. It would be cultivated for the consumption of those who owned, occupied, or tilled it; and any of these three classes, if they wished to have other articles not produced by that land, would procure them only by barter. The consequence would be the entire subversion of the whole system now established, the annihilation of all public and private trading, and at no distant period, a national bankruptcy. Another assumption of the noble Lord was, that the present protection afforded by the Corn-laws was extravagant, and that it might be diminished without inconvenience or injury to the agricultural interest. His noble Friend had not, however, supplied the House with the smallest proof, or shadow of a proof, of this assertion. It might have been fair to argue in 1828, when the present law was introduced, that a less amount of protection was requisite then than in 1815; and for this obvious reason, that that monstrous and destructive measure known by the name of Peel's Bill was not in existence previous to the latter year. When that measure was brought forward, a statement was made that it would lower prices 3 or 5 per cent.; and the author of it either had not the wisdom to learn or the candour to avow the consequences it had produced. However, another individual, who was looked to as a great authority by a class of persons for whom he had no respect, viz., the band of political economists—he alluded to the late Mr. Ricardo—had the manliness to avow that the fall of prices, instead of being from 3 to 5 per cent., had been from 30 to 50 per cent., and if he had known that, no power on earth should have induced him to support such a mischievous measure. But there had been no measure since 1828 which had diminished what was considered the remunerating price, which was admitted on all hands to be for wheat 60s. the Winchester quarter, or 62s. according to the new fashioned or imperial measure. He was aware that improvements had been introduced in agriculture; but by whom? By the landlords or the tenants; and those improvements might have been accompanied by considerable expense, which had been provided for out of the pockets of the landlords and tenants. With what show of justice, then, could they attempt to reduce the price of wheat and the profits of the agricultural classes, without any reference to those expenses. He most earnestly exhorted their Lordships not to trample on the rights or disregard the interests of others, if they expected their own rights and their own interests to be respected. His noble Friend had stated the average price of wheat at 58s. per quarter during the last thirteen years; but his noble Friend could not certainly be aware that from 1833 to 1836 the price of wheat in this country was so ruinously low that, there was a Parliamentary inquiry into the cause. If his noble Friend separated from those thirteen years the three years from 1833 to 1836, when the price of wheat was respectively 46s. 2d., 39s. 4d., and 46s.6d., or, on an average, 44s. 8d., which no man would be bold enough to maintain to be a remunerating price,—he would find that the average price had been since 1828, 62s. 7d. per quarter. His noble Friend at the commencement of his speech seemed to argue that an entire free-trade in corn would be an advantage if it were practicable, and that a low price of corn was per se a benefit. He would answer his noble Friend with his own words. To use the language of Holy Writ, "Out of thy own mouth will I condemn thee." His noble Friend could not have forgotten the joy and exultation he expressed —naturally enough—at that universal prosperity and satisfaction which pervaded the country in 1825. Would to God that other Sessions of Parliament might open under similar auspices! His noble Friend was one of those Ministers who advised the King in 1825 to address the Parliament, assuring the Members of the Legislature, That there never was a period in the history of this country, when all the great interests of the nation were at the same lime in so thriving a condition, or when a feeling of content and satisfaction was more widely diffused through all classes of the British people." Some persons might naturally inquire, What could have been the price of corn when his noble Friend advised such a speech to be delivered? and might conceive it must have then fallen below 40s. per quarter. This was not, however, the caste. At that time the average price of wheat Was above 66s., and had during the preceding year been 62s. per quarter. The encouragement proposed to be given by the Government measure to agriculture was comparatively much lower than had formerly been given by the patriotism and wisdom of their ancestors to the cultivation of the soil. He would refer to the statute the 22d of Charles 2nd, cap. 13. The average price of wheat for the ten years preceding the passing of that act was 44s. 9d., being a higher price than was presented by the average price of the years 1834, 1835, and 1836; and a considerably better price when the comparative value of money and the weight of taxation was considered. This statute of Charles 2nd, was passed professedly for the encouragement of agriculture, and it enacted that when the price of wheat was at 55s. per quarter and under, the duty should be 16s. 6d.; and the duty now proposed at 55s. was 17s.; so that the only increase of protection which the noble Earl and his Colleagues now thought necessary for agriculture, notwithstanding the enormous, unparalleled, and almost incredible amount of the burdens of the country, was but an additional sixpence on the quarter. His noble Friend having evaded the question bf what Was a remunerating price, had endeavoured to establish the principle of a maximum price for corn. what was this but the enactment in a different form bf the maximum law Which prevailed in France? Many of their Lordships might be old enough to recollect, and they all knew from history, what were the consequences of this maximum law. The farmers did not, would not, could not send their corn to market where it must be gold, according to law, at a price at Which it was ruinous to produce it. They refrained as much as possible from frequenting the markets in towns, and there arose in that unhappy country a long-continued famine, which by infuriating the populace was the prime moving cause of all the atrocities which disgraced and desolated that country. And here he asked the noble Earl who opened the present debate, or any of his Colleagues, for a frank and explicit answer to this question—under the operation of the proposed law, did they or did they not expect large importations? Did they or did they not expect a large or a small reduction of price? He would meet them on either alternative. If they expected small importations and an inconsiderable reduction of price, what then would be the advantage to the consumers, if that class must be considered separately? If, on the contrary, they expected large importations, which would be very profitable to the re-venue and very acceptable in its present dilapidated state, had they considered what must be the necessary effects produced, not only on agriculture, but on all the other branches of productive industry, which have all one common interest in preventing the competition of foreigners in the home market? Had the Government at all contemplated the effects produced by enormous importations of foreign corn, either under the present law or any other law? Had they not seen that the effect of a considerable importation of corn was a considerable exportation, not of manufactures, but of specie? Even under the present Corn-law—under that extravagantly high protection, as it was now represented to be—the treasure in the Bank had been reduced from 11,000,000l. to 3,000,000l. or 4,000,000l.; and it was very inconsiderable at present. If this state of things were continued, and the effect increased by the passing of the proposed Corn-bill, and the new tariff, it would be utterly impossible (and he referred on this point to the evidence of those who thought free-trade "a consummation devoutly to be wished") for the Bank to continue payments in specie under such circumstances. The proposed measure was not, as the noble Earl said, considered a fair arrangement as respected wheat. All who were practically acquainted With the country knew that the scale as regarded wheat would be destructive of their interests. But then they were told in homely language, that "half a loaf was better than none," and that it would be advisable for them to accept the proposed terms. What reason was there to hope that these terms, bad as they were, would be final? Any such expectation must be destroyed by the declaration made by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, who took occasion to state more than once that he desired it to be understood that the proposed measure should hot be considered as final. The farmers were told they must accept these terms, as they would get no better. He Should like to know on what grounds the agricultural class were to be considered as criminals, and why they should be glad to accept any commutation of their sentence? He rejected altogether all overtures for compromise, and he would say, "No surrender," as had been said by another person in another place—by a noble Duke who had shown his patriotism and public spirit at a time when both were nearly extinguished in this country, by preferring principle to place, and whose consistency in opinion and conduct would for ever en-ear him to the country. If they could prove that the protection was excessive, let it be diminished; if they could prove it unreasonable and unjust, let it be entirely withdrawn. He, for One, solicited and accepted no compromise on principle. He was not One of those who advocated the doctrine of expediency. There were cases, and the present was one, where extremes met. The farmers were not to be deluded into the notion that by the operation of this bill prices would be kept up to 56s. or 58s. Let them have a free-trade, ac companied, as the noble and learned Lord opposite had argued, by a free-trade in all manufactured articles. He threw down the gauntlet. He dared them to the attempt, Let them try it, and there would be raised in the country such a storm of fury, indignation, resentment, and vengeance as would scatter to the winds, annihilate, and destroy the advocates of free-trade. When he said "destroy," he did hot, of course, mean physically—he did not; of course, mean to offer his noble and learned Friend to the physical vengeance of the mob. It might be said, if these observations were well founded, why had not many petitions been presented in their support? But from the contempt with which those expressions of public feeling were treated in that enlightened and patriotic assembly—the House of Commons, and the neglect with which they were treated even by their Lordships, the people had become weary of petitioning. There was also another reason which had been avowed as a sort of apology for listlessness under the deplorable and unexpected change in the conduct of those now in power, and that was this—the farmers were unwilling to petition or openly oppose these measures, lest they should overwhelm the present Administration, and reinstate their political adversaries in the government of the country. He must; however, observe, that when a man was sentenced to death, it did not much import to him whether the executioner were A Whig or a Conservative; and to carry the simile a little further, if he should be sentenced to have his head cut off, whether the instrument employed for that purpose should be a guillotine or an axe—a sliding-scale, or a fixed duty. As far as the agricultural interest was concerned, judging from the experience they already had, he should wish to know what worse could befal them if the former Ministers were restored. He took it that any Houses of Parliament that would reject the present Corn-law upon the ground of not affording sufficient protection to agriculture would resist as effectually the alternative of It fixed duty or free-trade in corn. He was grieved to say that nothing but mischievous measures had yet been propounded by the present Government, and he should steadfastly resist not only the Corn Importation Bill, but also the new tariff. He hoped it would not be thought that silence indicated consent. A distinguished statesman in another place observed, with reference to the silence of the agriculturists, dumtacent clamant; but if they were silent, and he spoke not unadvisedly, or without sufficient authority, their silence proceeded from a conviction which every day grew deeper, and with which he himself Was conscientiously impressed, that they were, according to the celebrated expression of Prince Talleyrand, "at the beginning of the end," and that the end itself was not far distant. The signs of the times we're written in such large and legible characters that those who ran might read them. It had been upon several occasions his painful duty earnestly, though perhaps weakly —sincerely, though ineffectually—to warn their Lordships Of the inevitable consequences of the system which had been so long pursued in this country under Tory, Whig, and Conservative. The end was not far distant; it would be accelerated and aggravated by such measures as that now under their Lordships' consideration. He would entreat them once more, at this twelfth hour, to ponder the consequences of their conduct, and to consider whether if they should be found to be the tree that bore bad fruit they would not be hewn down and cast into the fire—whether, if they thought that their duty consisted merely in registering ministerial edicts, the example given in the Commonwealth would not be renewed—again voting them an useless body, and one that ought to be abolished. Whatever might be the result, he believed it would be far more fearful than many of their Lordships anticipated; in his conscience he believed it was now at the very threshold of their doors; and the first French revolution, with all its confiscation and atrocities, would afford but a feeble and inadequate representation of its horrors. He, through good report and through evil report, and if with weak talents, at least without any objects of personal ambition, would as heretofore endeavour to do his duty to his country— neither asking, wishing, nor wanting anything which any Government could give. He now moved that the bill be read a second time this day six months.

The Earl of Hardwicke

felt that in addressing their Lordships on this occasion he was altogether inadequate to do justice to the subject, and he did so more for the purpose of justifying the vote he was about to give, than in the hope of being able to add anything new to the arguments and illustrations which had formerly been adduced on the different occasions when this most important topic was discussed. He was not one of those who, in advocating this measure, was influenced by those feelings of apprehension alluded to by his noble Friend, lest their rejection of it might overthrow the present Government, and reinstate noble Lords opposite, who, however estimable in private life, could not, from the democratic character of their supporters, conduct the Government as they might wish. He supported this measure from no such fear. He supported it because he thought it a good measure—because he thought it just— and because he thought it would do no injury whatever to the agricultural interest. His noble Friend who last addressed their Lordships had, in the course of a most discursive speech, travelled a little out of his way to assail a right hon. Gentleman, the Prime Minister of the country, charging him with what would undoubtedly have been a most grave offence—namely, deceiving the people for the purpose of getting possession of power.

Earl Stanhope

I made no charge whatever of that sort. I commented on the address of the right hon. Baronet to his constituents; and if the noble Earl had done me the honour to attend to those observations, he would have found that they might have been interpreted in both ways. I do not deny that the general impression in the country arising from the right hon. Baronet's previous declarations was, that he was a zealous and true friend to the existing Corn-laws; how he may now be considered so, I have no doubt my noble Friend will be able to explain.

The Earl of Hardwicke

was very glad he had given way to his noble Friend, for undoubtedly if his former statement had gone forth to the public as the deliberate opinion of a person of his distinguished talents and high rank, it would unquestionably have done great injustice to individuals; but it would have operated prejudicially rather to the noble Earl himself than to the character of his right hon. Friend. The noble Earl said the expressions which had been used might be interpreted both ways; but he would venture to assert there was only one way of interpreting them—namely, that his right hon. Friend was determined to adhere to the broad principle of the sliding-scale, reserving to himself, however, the power of making any alterations he thought fit. Nay, more, he believed this was well understood throughout the country—among the farmers themselves. In the county with which he was more immediately connected, the agriculturists felt that the Corn-laws were in an unsettled state, and were considering the changes which it would be fit to make in them. He himself had propositions made to him by Gentlemen whom the noble Earl knew perfectly well, having presided over them in the town of Cambridge—propositions, too, which reduced the duty by the sliding-scale; therefore it was not only by the Government that the notion of a change was entertained; the country generally felt that some alteration in these laws had at length become necessary. He did not mean to trouble their Lordships with any observations relative to the effect of the existing Corn-laws in contributing to the welfare and independence of the country; he did not mean to say one word with regard to the fluctuations caused by the sliding-scale; but he would say this, after the decision pronounced by the House of Commons, their Lordships were not left to form an opinion as to whether they would alter the Corn-laws or not. They might reject this bill, but the question as to alterations in the present system was settled and determined by the voice of the country. No Corn-law could be so bad, no protection could be so inadequate, as that which was always questioned and debated. That which was always agitated was never satisfactory; and, although it might afford some protection, it was not the sort of protection he wished to uphold. For this reason it had been thought right to endeavour to modify the present law in such a way as might render it more acceptable to all classes of the community, —the superfluous protection that unquestionably existed being brought down to something more consonant with the views of the consumers and the degree of protection to which the agriculturists were entitled. If the present bill passed into a law, they would get rid of all the odium which attached to the present system, and the agriculturists would have a better protection, because the community would be better satisfied; while in the actual working of the law no material deterioration would take place. With regard to the bill itself, he was prepared to show that no deterioration in the price of agricultural produce would be the result. He would not support the present measure if he were not perfectly satisfied in his own mind that it would make no difference whatever to agriculture. The average price of corn in this country from 1660, including those years in which the Corn-laws were altered, which were always years of depression, although at times the price had been 45s. and under, still the average was 57s. 1d. This satisfied him that even supposing a very material alteration in the Corn-laws to take place, so great a change in the price of the article as by some was apprehended could not be the result. For himself he believed that no deterioration would take place. Thus, when the price of corn was 56s. the duty on importation would under the present bill be 16s., and the price at Dantsic, the cheapest port, was 40s., which, with 4s. for expenses of shipment, made the price of foreign wheat 60s., without reckoning the charges in this country arising from landing, carting, and perhaps redressing. But at 60s. the importer would loose 4s. per quarter when the price of English wheat was 56s., and therefore he would not come into the market at all. Again, when the price was 57s. the duty would be 15s. The price at Dantzic was 40s., + 15s. duty, + 4s. charges = 59s. Here, also, there would be a loss of 2s. per quarter on the introduction of foreign wheat, and the importer would not come into the market. In fact, the present law protected the farmer up to 66s. per quarter. It appeared from the Parliamentary papers, that the quantity of foreign corn imported into this country during the last thirteen years was 11,322,000 quarters, of which 9,500,000 had been admitted when the price stood at 70s.; eighty quarters out of 100 had come in at a duty of 6s. 8d, He did not see anything in the present bill which would alter this arrangement; he did not see why the corn-dealer should not do just the same thing under the new law as he did at present—that was, hold back his corn until the price became high, and he could introduce it at a moderate duty. It was his conviction that the alteration in the law would make no change injurious to the farmers; the effect would remain exactly the same as regarded their real interest; but the surplus and absurd protection which existed under the old bill would be got rid of. That was his reason for supporting the measure. With regard to barley, the selling price of that grain in this country was 30s. a quarter. The duty by the new bill would be 9s. at that point. 9s. + 19s. 6d., the price of the foreign grain, + 4s. for charges on importation, would bring the price at which it could be imported to 32s. 6d., so that the importer would lose 2s. 6d. It was not necessary for him to trouble their Lordships with more calculations of this kind; the same principle would be found to hold good throughout; but he would ask their Lordships to observe, that in making the calculations he had read to them, he had wholly omitted all charges which would be incurred in this country. There would be in addition the expense of unloading the vessel, of carting the corn to the place at which it was sold, and, he thought most likely, of re-dressing it, besides the profits of the importer. Therefore, he thought he answered that opinion of his noble Friend with respect to the ruin that would be inflicted on agriculture by the bill before their Lordships in a manner as full and as satisfactory as could be thought desirable. He perfectly well knew that in speculative matters precise and exact calculations were out of the question, but at the same time he believed their Lordships would not be led much astray by using the documents before them, and it was a very great satisfaction to him to find himself able to give his warm and earnest support to Government on this measure, not from the fear that anybody else would take possession of their power and places, but from the firm belief he entertained that agriculture was entirely and perfectly protected; so much for this portion of the enactment, which was the most important one. He should like to say a, word on a subject passed over by his noble Friend who opened the debate— the effect that would be produced by a fixed duty of 8s. a quarter—and he would take the same data for his calculation as in the former instance. His objection to a fixed duty was chiefly and simply this— that he did not think it a maintainable duty. In times when a bad harvest made prices high, he was perfectly sure that it would be swept away; no protection at all would be left, and the agriculturist would he at the mercy of the Executive Government, to be dealt with as they might please, A clamour for the repeal of the duty would be raised through the country, and no government would be in a position to maintain it—not because they would not wish to do so, but because they would not have the power. In times of pressure, in short, there would be no protection at all. Taking the price of corn in this country at 56s., and the duty at 8s., the price of imported corn would stand thus: 8s. + 40s. the price at Dantzic, + 4s. for charges of freight, would bring the price to 52s., giving to the importer a gain of 4s., when the home price was at 56s. At that point, therefore, there would be no protection with a fixed duty. He remembered that the farmers of Cambridgeshire stated in the petition to which his noble Friend had adverted, that they could not possibly live unless they were certain of 60s., a price which they had never ob- tained at any period of their lives, for they never had had 60s. under any averages. He could say that a people more regular in their habits and more satisfactory in all their dealings did not exist, but they never had a higher price than 56s. 11d. a quarter. Therefore, he said, although 60s. was claimed as indispensable, he was, for his own part, perfectly satisfied in the belief that on an average of years 56s. was the price which they might hope to obtain for the great article of our agricultural produce. With respect to the averages it was quite unnecessary for him to say anything after what his noble Friend bad stated so much more ably than he could hope to do, in introducing the bill to their Lordships' notice. He could not help feeling that in this, branch of the subject also there was a decided improvement. Under the present bill the difference in the duty was so great between the points of the scale, that by raising the averages at once from 66s. to 73s. which was not very difficult to accomplish, the importer would realise a profit of 26s. It was easy for speculators to raise the prices to this extent, when they conspired for that purpose, by a system of fictitious purchases and sales, which never reached the farmer's pocket any way, as might be easily proved. Now, under the new bill if the same game were attempted to be played, it would be necessary to raise the averages from 59s. to 73s., a much greater distance, before they could realise a profit of 26s. As it was perfectly well known that all those sales by which the averages were so much raised were carried on in London, he could not help thinking that the addition of a great number of towns to the former list by which the averages were determined— and he should have been glad if the number had been even increased—was a very great improvement in the law. That could be shown in a very satisfactory way from the data furnished in the papers before their Lordships. It appeared that, with London included, the duty would stand at 10s., but if London were struck out of the list, the duty would be 6s. The sales were carried on with a view to influence the duty between corn-dealers and corn-factors, not between the grower and the dealer. He thought the more easy slope of the averages, and the additional number of the towns were great improvements in the present plan, which would tend much to cheapen the food of the people, at the same time that they would protect the real agricultural interest—that was, the interest of the grower. He believed he had now stated nearly all that he intended with reference to this bill, and he was afraid not without fatiguing their Lordships. He might venture to add, that no one could be totally inattentive to the language which was held out of doors on this subject, of which his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope) seemed to be the mouthpiece. It was said that statements calculated for deception were addressed to the people of this country by persons now in power, who endeavoured to delude them. This was an assertion which possessed no manner of foundation in truth, and he would challenge anybody to state under what circumstances, when or where, any statements of this kind had been made. He himself must plead guilty to being one of those whom his noble Friend had attacked for the line of conduct he had taken on this question; he had marched under the banners of protection to agriculture, and he was satisfied that the course he was now adopting would be infinitely better calculated to protect that interest than the course taken by his noble Friend. No protection would arise from the sort of speech which had been delivered by his noble Friend—no protection would be willingly granted if such language were to be generally held, but if the case was fairly stated to the people of this country, they were intelligent enough to understand what was set before them, and he believed they would not, for they could not, when the matter was understood, doubt for a moment that their best interests had been preserved. That party which was now in power had on their accession determined not to act either for party or class interests. He believed that that party, on taking power, had looked down from the eminence on which they were placed, and, haying viewed and considered the state of the country had come to the determination of putting aside all class interests and party considerations, and using every means in their power to promote the welfare of the people, and to support those great interests in this country and abroad which were now in some measure jeopardised. He believed that for that reason they were supported in Parliament, and that they would continue to be supported; he believed that the honesty and loyalty of the people of this country, under all circumstances, and at all times, would know how to appreciate the value of those who, putting aside all such motives of action as he had mentioned, determined to do their best to promote the great interests of the country.

The Duke of Buckingham

begged to be excused for a few moments, if he offered some remarks on this important question. He agreed with his noble Friend that a more important question could not be brought under their Lordship's notice. It was necessary that he should offer his observations at the present moment, because he was given to understand that according to the forms of their Lordships' House, it would be impossible for him to propose any alteration in this bill in committee, and therefore he felt compelled, in this early stage of the measure, to state the grounds on which he meant to give his vote against it, The question was. whether the bill should be read a second time now, or on this day six months. He looked on this bill with deep feeling of alarm. He looked on it as a measure produced no doubt from the best of motives, but, in his humble judgment, calculated to do harm to the agricultural interest. If their Lordships looked at the progress made by the agriculture of this country for a number of years past, it was impossible not to rejoice at the state of excellence to which it had been brought. But if by this bill the protection hitherto secured to the farmer should be greatly reduced, as he believed it would be, he feared it would be found that the spirit of enterprise which now animated the agricultural interest, would, ere long be extinguished, and the consequence of forgetfulness and neglect as to the soil of the country would be, that our fields would no longer be maintained at that high pitch of cultivation to which protection to the British farmer had brought them. He looked on the bill with alarm, inasmuch as he saw a prospect of the foreign farmer being enabled to enter our market at a price at which he thought pup own farmers should be protected; knowing the capabilities of foreigners for producing a large supply of grain, his fear was, that if you gave capital and a market to the foreign farmer, he would, ere long, be enabled to meet the English farmer in our own cities, and to overpower his competition. Not many years ago, the country was placed in such a situation as to be obliged to lean greatly on the progress of agricultural improvement for support in a contest of unexampled difficulty. He trusted it might be long, ere such a crisis again occurred; but if there were a possibility that it would happen at some future time, and if once they pauperised the agricultural interest, they would take away one of the chief sources of support, and by so doing, increase incalculably the danger to the country. If they depended solely on foreign supplies of grain, and the ports were closed against them, they would then be unable to obtain the necessaries of life, and might be placed in a situation which it was fearful to contemplate. Believing that the measure would be injurious to agriculture, and that it would impede the progress which agriculture had made of late years, he must deplore the probability which existed that their Lordships would be induced to pass it. It was proclaimed that this bill was to be an adjustment of the differences existing between two classes in this country. He avowed himself, as he had done before, the friend of the present Corn-law. However he might incur the displeasure, anger, or violence of others, he hoped he might be allowed to express his free and unbiassed opinion, and take that course which he honestly thought most conducive to the interests of the country. The bill, in his opinion would not satisfy the expectations of either party, or lead to the adjustment of the differences prevailing. He felt, and indeed, his noble Friend had shown, that it would not satisfy the manufacturers, who called for a total repeal; and he could assure their Lordships on the part of a great body of the agriculturists of this country, that it would not satisfy them. In giving up what they had then, they were giving up a law which, in his humble judgment, had worked beneficially; they were risking more than at the present moment they were aware of, and ere long, they would be called on to yield a little more. It was not for him to point out to their Lordship's what might ensue if the clamour for repeal were continued—suffice it to say, he viewed this measure with more alarm, the more he reflected on those consequences which might be expected from it. It did not grant that protection which the farmer had a right to expect; On that ground, he took his stand, and he should give his vote in support of the amendment of his noble Friend. He regretted many of the remarks which had fallen from his noble Friend, in which he could not go along with him, but he completely agreed with him that the bill would be highly injurious to the interests of the farmer. He shared those deep feelings of anxiety for the welfare, happiness, and comfort of his fellow-countrymen which ought to animate every Member of their Lordships' House; and he would be ready to go any lengths in trying to reconcile the agriculturists to this measure, if he believed it for their good; but he would ask their Lordships, if they consented to pauperise the agricultural interest, and drive the cultivators of the soil from those pursuits in which they were engaged, might they not be placed in the same difficulties and distresses by which the manufacturers were now afflicted? He would call on them to pause ere it was too late to retrace their steps, and feeling it his duty to support the existing law, and to protect the farmer, as he had always striven to do, he could not but view this attack on his interests with the greatest apprehension. His noble Friend who had just sat down, had attempted to show that the new scale would be equally beneficial to the farmer as the old, but the foreigner would now be enabled to import corn at 58s. instead of at 68s. or 69s. as formerly. It had been said that few petitions from the farmers had been presented, and that they had not been forward to state their grievances. It was not for him to say what the reasons for thus acting might be, but he must express his regret that the farmers had not been more alive to their own interests. Be that as it might, he felt he must adhere to the opinions he had repeatedly expressed on this subject, and he should sit down by giving his cordial support to the motion to postpone the second reading of the bill for six months, as a measure prejudicial to the farmer and subversive of the agricultural interest.

The Earl of Winchilsea

expressed his satisfaction that a measure which had excited so much discussion, and which had so important a bearing on the tranquillity and prosperity of the country, was now about to be brought, as far as human prudence could foresee, to a final settlement. He contended that the agitation which had prevailed in the country on this question had produced great evils. There was no question on which it was so easy to excite the labouring classes of this country as the price of bread, although he was prepared to maintain that it was one on which the great body of the labouring classes were quite unqualified to come to a just and accurate conclusion. Limiting their views only to the present moment, they were unable to grasp this great question, and to enter into those prospective views which had influenced the Legislature in its wisdom to secure to the agriculturists of this country that protection and encouragement which the importance of their avocation to the public welfare demanded. It was sound policy to guard from injury capital and interests of such immense value as those vested in the cultivation of the soil, and the legislation of this country had been directed to this end, and to the prevention of great fluctuations in price, and of those occasional rises from which the labouring classes were the first to suffer. The agitation of this question had shaken the confidence of the agricultural classes in the continuance of that prosperity which was secured to them by those laws on the faith of which they had invested their capital, and had, within the last two years, considerably retarded those great improvements which had been commenced chiefly in drainage and the use of artificial manure, by means of which thousands of acres, in Lincolnshire for instance, which formerly produced nothing but water now grew the finest wheat, he might say, in the empire. Indeed, such was his confidence in the capabilities of the soil and the effects of those improvements, that he did not hesitate to express his conviction, that if they proceeded with the same rapidity for fifteen years to come as they had done for the fifteen years that had passed away, England would become, instead of an importing, an exporting country, more than able to supply the wants of her increasing population. There was no country which offered greater facilities for the extension and improvement of agriculture, or which more invited the investment of English capital, than Ireland. Few noble Lords, he presumed, were prepared to contend for a free-trade in corn, looking to the burdens imposed on agriculture for the support of the poor, for the maintenance of the high-roads, and the preservation of the public peace. Those were the three great national burdens, and they certainly fell very heavily on the agricultural interest. If this were a new country, and if we were free from such burdens, he, for one, might advocate free-trade in corn, and indeed free-trade in every article that entered into human subsistence. But if they were to bear these burdens, then they must have a Corn-law to enable them to sustain them. There were now in effect two propositions before the House—the proposition of the Government for a sliding-scale, and that of the late Administration for a fixed duty. Now, in his opinion, the fixed duty was altogether a perfect fallacy. If the price of wheat was at 36s,, as it was a few years ago, what advantage would a fixed duty of 8s. be to the agriculturist? If the price were to rise to 80s., what Government, let him ask, could maintain such a duty? Besides the agriculturists must have protection. They were liable to all the variations of seasons. They were not, like the manufacturers, able to carry on their occupations without consulting wind or weather. If they had not protection, therefore, agriculture must fall into decay, and this was a statement which he made advisedly, and after due deliberation. Now, it had been said in that House, and the sentiments had been echoed by a cheer, which was erroneously attributed to him; it had been said, that her Majesty's present Government had most grossly deceived the agriculturists. Now, he was prepared to say, that that was a gross misstatement. They went to the country on the dissolution. That dissolution was forced by the late Government — a Government which took a step, in his opinion, alike discreditable to themselves as an Administration, and calculated to disturb the peace of the country. He referred to the agitating cry of "cheap bread," which they had raised for a mere party and factious purpose. That cry was as delusive as it was agitating, for, as the people well knew, cheap bread meant low wages, and in some cases, no wages at all. Well, it was said, the party at present in power went to the country pledged to maintain the existing Corn-law. Now, he denied, that they had done any such thing. They were not pledged to any particular scale of duties whatever. To the principle of the present law, they certainly were pledged, and he contended, and did say most emphatically, that the Government had maintained that principle. And with regard to the change in the scale of duties he was prepared also to express an opin- ion, that the agriculturists would sustain no injury from the alteration of the duties on wheat. There were a variety of emendations in the system which would prevent them from sustaining any injury. The list of towns in which the averages were to be taken was to be altered; he only wished they had been so altered as to exclude Mark-lane, to which market, after all, the frauds and fictitious averages were to be traced. But in extending the system to a number of other towns, he thought the Government had rendered a great service to the public. To the agriculturist, also, they had given an important benefit, by so altering the scale, as to render it a jumping instead of a sliding-scale. And having thus candidly expressed his opinion, he must make one statement in addition. Although closely connected and bound up with agriculture, he had ever viewed this question with reference solely to what he considered the interests of the great mass, the vast labouring population of this country. He trusted, that for their sakes, the present measure would settle the question; and, at the same time, he hoped, that its result would be, to give bread to the people at the lowest price at which the English agriculturists could afford to sell, and to so obviate all necessity for resorting to the dangerous expedient of drawing supplies of corn from foreign countries whenever we might be left entirely unsupplied in the event of war. He would also say, before he sat down, that he could not but regret the course taken by the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) on the present occasion; and, more than all, that he regretted the noble Earl should have attributed to persons of high character and of high standing in the country, opinions and motives of action, which, he was sure, that noble Earl would, on after deliberation, much regret having laid to their charge. He would ask the noble Earl to consider attentively what possible interest such parties could have in acting as he would lead the House to suppose they had acted? Those parties were as closely connected with agriculture as the noble Earl himself, and he would venture to add, quite as anxious for its prosperity. For his own part, he believed those parties had pursued a conscientious course, and he earnestly hoped and believed, that their measures would tend to put the question on a firm footing, and to further the general inter- ests of the country, manufacturing as well as agricultural. Entertaining these feelings and opinions, he should very cordially give his vote in favour of the second reading of the bill.

Lord Western

said, he had listened with great attention to the noble Earl (the Earl of Ripon) who had introduced this bill, and who, in his speech, had said so much to shew the impossibility, or, at all events, the improbability of any overwhelming importations of foreign corn, that he appeared to be advocating a free-trade, and that he (Lord Western) should be also obliged to be a convert in its favour. He should indeed, be infinitely delighted to be able to give a vote in support of that unrestricted importation of corn which is so much desired by great numbers of the people; but he was of opinion, that the aggregate taxation of the country pressed with such weight, mediately, if not immediately, upon the produce of agriculture, indeed, upon all other products of industry, that it would be impossible to sustain a competition with comparatively untaxed foreign countries. The price of corn was compounded of taxes and cost of productions, labour being the chief ingredient of the cost part; upon a forced reduction of the aggregate price, the labour must give way, for the tax part would remain untouched; and the diminution would fall upon the cost parts of price, and thus would the labourers be in fact the chief sufferers. Besides which the wages of labor would fall as they always do when the price of corn falls, reducing the farmer's means of paying their men and thus lessening the demand for their labour; this was always the case, though perhaps the wages did not so invariably and immediately rise upon the advancing price of corn, no theory was necessary to establish this truth, practice unfortunately proved the fact, and wages had already fallen. The noble Lord then proceeded to shew the probable injurious effects of such reduction of the protecting duties which were intended in the bill, and which he thought would be very seriously felt in all the agricultural districts. He should, therefore, support the amendment moved by the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) which if carried, would leave the law as it stood at that time. He would now take leave to say a few words as to the conduct of Government upon this subject. The present Administration had come into office upon the strength, and in the confi- dence of their determination to support the protective principle by which the Legislature had so long been governed. It was universally believed, that a Conservative Government would conserve the existing institutions of the country, and its policy as regarded the agricultural interests. He was sure, that there was no supporter of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) who did not entertain that full conviction. It was, therefore, with astonishment and regret, they saw the contrary course he was now pursuing, particularly as respected his proposed tariff of reduced duties; who ever expected, or could have suspected such a tariff from such a quarter? They might have expected a measure of the sort from his noble Friend at the head of the late Administration. From that noble Lord he did anticipate such a tariff. He did anticipate, that sooner or later his 8s. duty would be followed by some such extension of free-trade, and that apprehension induced him to withdraw his support on that occasion from his noble Friend, which he was very reluctant to do, and should be even more so again after discovery of the total want of confidence to be placed in the views of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the present Conservative Government—what popularity he (the hon. Baronet) was to gain by his present course, or who to please, he could not imagine. It could not be his old Conservative agricultural Friends. He was sure the hon. Baronet must have lost much of their confidence and attachment. He might still have their votes, but he must have lost their hearts. It was not in the nature of things they could approve his present policy, the expectations many had formed were wholly disappointed; They considered themselves deceived; they never thought of his making dangerous experiments upon the agriculture and trade of the country. They would not know what to expect next. It would be almost better to have a free-trade at once, having began upon the free-trade principle, where was the hon. Baronet to stop?—a free-trade in corn at once would be preferable, the great energies of the people would thus be called forth to their utmost efforts, and it is impossible to say what they might not accomplish if freed from the burthens of taxation to the enormous extent now carried, they would almost surprise themselves with the powers they possess. There was no reason why with their capital, skill, and industry, with a climate and soil suited to the growth of wheat, they might not produce it as cheap, if not cheaper, than any other country in the world; or if the revenue would not hear a large reduction of taxes, if a sufficiently extended currency to meet the taxation, instead of that miserably contracted and ever-vary-circulation we now labour under, was established by Parliament, the nation would rise again over all difficulties and distresses. Here he said he was led to a consideration of the state of our commerce and manufactures, which were weighed down by the operation of our monetary system established in 1819, and under which our circulating medium had become so uncertain, so fluctuating, and so insufficient. He felt deeply interested in reference to these new measures of experiment upon our agriculture, but if possible he felt even more alarm in contemplating the depressed condition of our commerce and our manufactures, and the wretched, destitute, almost starving state of their operatives in these districts. Was it not to our commerce and manufactures that our agriculture owed much? that the value of our land had been increased? was it not to our commerce and manufactures that England owed her greatness and her superiority? Why, then, allow such existing distress to continue and prevail? the remedial course was obvious, as was the cause of the misery. The violent and continued contraction of the currency after a delusive expansion, was evidently the cause. The general circulation of the country had been reduced at least a fifth of its aggregate amount. A sudden reduction by the Bank had, in 1837, produced the most tremendous losses to the commercial world,—losses to the extent of forty millions sterling in that one year. These were facts that could be proved; he would be prepared to prove them, if allowed, and why was this contraction done or suffered. This was a point that required explanation. It was requisite under our present monetary arrangement that the Bank should hold a certain amount of bullion in her coffers, supposed to be not less than nine or ten millions. She was also to assist commerce by temporary loans, discounts, and such means, but was to guard her bullion carefully. It might, however, unfortunately be reduced by various means, and if to a great and rapid extent, she became alarmed, in that case what was to be done? Why the Directors distinctly told both to the Commissioners of the House of Lords and Com- mons they had no means of replenishing their coffers but by reducing the circulation, thus throwing down the price of all commodities. This was the real secret of our distress, and if it were to continue he should look forward to more fatal consequences. He could not imagine why the leading men of both parties determined to leave this question of the currency untouched. He warned them that the time had now come when if they did not deal with it soon, and that energetically, they would regret their conduct to the last hour of their lives. He apologized for having been led away from the subject of the Corn-law, but really he felt deeply the depressed state of our commerce and manufactures, and the frightful distress of the laborious classes. He considered that the evidences of prosperity, wealth, and power in the country were redundant, and that if our currency was not so contracted and insufficient, we might have an overflowing Exchequer, instead of a miserable deficit. In regard to the Corn-laws, he thought the people were completely mistaken in their views. He should like to gratify their wishes if possible, but under the actual circumstances of the country, particularly under our monetary system, as it was worked at present, it could not be safe to comply with any material alteration of these laws.

Lord Fitzgerald

thought the noble Lord who had just sat down was inconsistent in his observations, and in the course which he had declared it was his intention to take. The noble Lord had at first declared that he would vote in support of the second reading of the bill, and then in a few minutes proclaimed his intention to support the amendment of the noble Earl from whom he was separated in council and in party—a course which he believed would not be followed by the noble Lords immediately around him. Had any one who heard the statements of the noble Lord in the first part of his speech heard the latter part, wherein he dilated with much propriety and justice upon the advantages of commerce and manufactures to this country; and when he told their Lordships that to those sources chiefly this country owed its sources and its power; and also, when he dwelt on the necessities and privations of the labouring classes; a person having heard all this would be ill-prepared to arrive at the conclusion to which the noble Baron had come—namely, that he would, with the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope), maintain fully the present system of Corn-laws, without any alteration whatever. He would leave the noble Baron to explain this conduct to his friends. He would also decline to follow the noble Baron through his arguments upon the monetary system of the country. The noble Baron had declared that he was ready and anxious to open the ports of this country to a free trade in corn, were it not for one slight difficulty—the pressure of taxation under which this country was, he said, sinking. When the day arrived that the noble Baron would be able to point out the way of alleviating the heavy burdens of the country, he, and he believed numerous other noble Lords who had the welfare of the nation at heart, would be ready to go into the whole question anew, in order to settle it on the most advantageous footing. The noble Earl on his left (Earl Stanhope) had complained of deception, and on a former night of disappointment, and had reiterated the same assertions more than once. This part of the noble Earl's speech however, might be left as having been answered by the speech of his noble Friend, who, at the opening of the debate, most successfully vindicated those who introduced this measure from the charges brought against them, and who desired not to he separated on this occasion from the right hon. Baronet, to whom the noble Earl had applied language which he thought himself justified in using, and who, moreover, on the part of the right hon. Baronet, denounced the charges made by the noble Earl against him. The right hon. Baronet had never done anything to justify any of the impressions which the noble Earl had formed of his conduct. It was said that the agriculturists and the Friends of that great body had been disappointed, because they expected from the right hon. Baronet an adherence to the protective principle. But had that principle been abandoned? On the other hand, was it not said that this principle had been maintained to too great an extent? The noble Earl had said that the language of the right hon. Baronet justified him in believing that the Corn-law was to be maintained as it stood, without any deviation from it.

Earl Stanhope

had stated that he saw clear and unequivocal symptoms before the last dissolution of Parliament that there would be considerable deviations from the existing law, but he also understood, that the right hon. Baronet was in favour of the Corn-laws as they stood.

Lord Fitzgerald

said, it was difficult exactly to understand this last statement of the noble Earl. The noble Earl said, he believed that there would be considerable alterations in the Corn-laws notwithstanding his impression that the right hon. Baronet was in favour of their maintenance. Now, in the debate on the Corn-laws in 1840, the right hon. Baronet was arraigned by Mr. Clay, a Member for the borough of the Tower Hamlets, who made a charge against the right hon. Baronet, the very reverse of that made by the noble Earl, and on the authority of a speech made in the House of Commons, which the right hon. Baronet, though present, did not repudiate, and the quotation was this— On that great question (alluding to the Corn-laws) my opinions remain unchanged. I adhere to those which I expressed in the discussion of last year. I did not then profess, nor do I now profess, an unchangeable adherence to the details of the existing law— a positive refusal, under any circumstances, to alter any figure of the scale which regulates the duty on foreign corn. I did profess, and I now repeat, that I consider a liberal protection to domestic agriculture indispensable, not merely to the prosperity of agriculture, but to the general interests of the community; that I think a graduated duty, varying inversely with the price of corn, far preferable to a fixed duty." The right hon. Gentleman then clearly declared his adherence to the protective principle; and he would ask the noble Earl whether that quotation justified the opinion he had formed with regard to the intentions of the right hon. Baronet? In the same debate the right hon. Baronet being taunted with not revealing his opinions—and this was before he resumed the reins of Government—made this statement— Many hon. Gentlemen opposite have expressed a wish to hear me repeat what I have said before, that nothing can be so absurd as for any man to declare his inviolable adherence to details. I say I prefer a graduated scale to a fixed duty; but to say that the details of the bill are an actual protection, and that I would not listen to modifications, would be a declaration utterly unworthy of me to make, or the House to accept." He did not intend to enter into the general details of this question; in fact, as yet no argument had been urged against the bill, except from those who were anxious to maintain the present law. It was true that there were other Members of their Lordships' House, who would argue the question upon entirely different grounds, and in quite another manner; some noble Lords who were amongst the most able debaters in that House, and whose opinions were not consonant with those of the supporters of the measure before their Lordships, nor with those of the noble Lords who opposed it upon the present occasion, and whose only complaint was, that sufficient protection would not be given to the agriculture of the country; but he did not think it necessary to enter further into the details of the measure after the speech of his noble Friend who opened the debate that evening. He trusted, and believed, however, that their Lordships would not blame him, or think him presumptuous, because he had been anxious to vindicate those with whom he acted, and above all to vindicate from the charges cast upon him one who, of all public men that had ever united in one person the confidence of his Sovereign and his country, was the last man who for political advantages to himself or the party with whom he was connected, or even in support of the principles he maintained, would be capable of the unworthy conduct charged upon him—that of deceiving the people of England; a man who would repel with indignation the aspersions cast upon him by the noble Earl, ay, even in the hearing of every man to whom the noble Earl had addressed himself that night.

Lord Beaumont

was most unwilling to intrude upon the attention of their Lordships, but considering how strongly he felt on the subject, he could not consistently with his duty do otherwise than throw himself upon their indulgence while he gave utterance to a few observations upon this important question. He would bring no charge against her Majesty's Government of abandoning their principles; he would make no criticisms upon public declarations of individual Members of Parliament. If he were disposed, he might quote from the speeches of noble Lords who supported this measure, for the purpose of contrasting their past assertions with their present conduct. But he would not do so, because he had foreseen that when once a change was proposed to be adopted by the late Government with regard to the Corn-laws, however certainly that proposed change might prove a fatal rock to that Ministry, it would be inevitable that their successors must take up the subject, and revise the system, and enter into some arrangement, in order that the wishes and expectations of the country might at least meet with attention. But though he did not charge her Majesty's present Ministers with an abandonment of principle, and though he expected from them a revisal of this measure, he little thought that they would propose a plan which at "one fell swoop" would take away one-half the protection of wheat, and two thirds of that of barley and oats, and leave the agricultural interest and the farmers labouring under accumulating difficulties and exposed to probable ruin. There was another extraordinary circumstance attending the progress of this measure. It was kept so secret, that no opportunity was given to those interested properly to examine it; they were totally taken by surprise; they had not time to calculate its effects before it had passed the other House. Nay, at least prior to the recess, there was no opportunity to consider the resolutions, and to compare the different prices of foreign markets with their own; and consequently those concerned remained without petitioning their Lordships' House, and were perhaps more silent than their interest in the measure could well justify. But what was the case now? What had been the effect which the short period of the recess had produced? Had not the agriculturists now begun to declare their opinions? Had not Lincolnshire spoken? Had Essex made no protest? Had there been no meetings in Buckinghamshire? Was Berkshire quiet? And there were other counties with which he was more or less connected or acquainted, in which the agriculturists had looked upon this mea-sure with dismay, and when he reflected on the support which Ministers had received from the landed interest and then turned to the sweeping measures now proposed for their Lordships' adoption, he might well say, that the first act of her Majesty's Government was to amputate the arm that raised them to power. In fact such had been the conduct of those now in power towards the agricultural interest that the latter might well apply the Italian proverb to their former friends and say— Da quel che Io fido quardami Dio. Da quel che non Io fido quardero Io." With regard to the frauds on averages, it was certainly incumbent on the Government upon the introduction of a new measure to take means to prevent the recurrence of such frauds; but he thought they had adopted a plan which would not answer the proposed end. The fraud was committed in this manner —at least he knew it was so in the East Riding of Yorkshire and part of Lincolnshire, and some other counties,—in every town in which an average was taken there was an agent, and the agent understood the right time to raise the prices and to make sales, and when to hold back so as to produce an effect in the market. Moreover, wherever there was a miller, there was an agent, and they were both interested parties. They managed the markets, and the common complaint was, that the public were in the hands of the miller and the factor. Now, in all the new towns he presumed there was a miller; and, therefore, there would be an agent, so that by increasing the number of towns for taking the averages they were only increasing the number of rogues. Would it not be better to take the averages at once from the grower? In Scotland the average was taken from the grower and factor conjointly; and there the system acted well, but the object of the average was different in Scotland from that for which it was intended in England. And therefore the motive for falsifying the return did not exist there as it did here. In one country it was for the purpose of fixing the rent, in the other for fixing the duty. In Scotland, therefore, it might be well to take it from both; but in England it ought to be taken from the grower, and the grower only, and then they would get at the true price at which the grain was produced; and this would prevent the prices from being forced up at a period when the farmer had no corn to thrash, in order that the miller and the factor might make their profits. Again, the trade in corn would be more steady, and not subject to those sudden puffs as at present, if they had the averages taken from the first and best source, for then the duty would be regulated by the amount of supply and not by the dictates and interests of the speculating merchants. The freight also was unjustly considered as additional protection, for it cost as much to send corn from Yorkshire to London as from Hamburgh to London. With regard to wheat, taking 56s. as the remunerating price, what was the difference between the protection afforded by the present scale of duties above the proposed one? More than half. If it had been that hitherto that the present protection was a little too much, surely the diminution of nearly one-half must have the effect of exposing the wheat-grower to competition with the foreigner, and throwing out of cultivation the poorer soils. These poorer soils, though they made the least return, employed the most hands in cultivating them, and they were often rented by the poorer class of farmers, because the rents were lower, and it was the wheat produced on these thin soils and cultivated by these poorer farmers, which in consequence of its quality would come most directly into competition with foreign corn-growers. Where poor land had been improved and cultivated, there had grown up small villages and towns in consequence, where lived blacksmiths and small shopkeepers, and traders to supply the wants of the farmers, spread over the surrounding district. If the effect of this measure were to throw these poor lands out of cultivation, these villages and their populations must be sacrificed. Their Lordships must know, that 58s. was no remunerating price for wheat grown on these poor lands, on many of which they had expended enormous sums in draining and improving for the purpose of giving employment to the poor. Was it fit that those lands should be abandoned, and those villages and homes rendered desolate which had been raised partly by individual exertions in redeeming waste soils, but more by the happy operation of their wise measures in protecting corn? By these measures they had reared a happy and contented peasantry; they had planted cities, and raised villages and hamlets. This had been greatly the case on the worlds of Yorkshire and the extensive commons of Lincolnshire. What then were they about to do? They were about to drive that population to emigrate, to cause those lands to be forsaken and restored to what they were a few years ago—to rabbit warrens —and to be tenanted by grouse and wildfowl. The richer class of these farmers would then come into competition with the farmers on the richer lands, and thus this measure would tend to raise the rents of these lands. The demand for agricultural labour would be considerably decreased, and the labourers thus thrown out of work would be driven to the towns in search of employment, and forced to change their usual habits and accustomed pursuits; their healthy homes and well-tilled fields for the dingy streets and gloomy workshops of Leeds and Manchester, and increase the already too great supply of labour in those towns. He had no doubt but by this measure a momentary impetus would be given to the exporting of manufactures from this country. But the exporting manufacturers did not generally, he believed, work from orders given, but on speculation. In a short time there would be the recoil; the tide would ebb; and what would be the consequence? The demand for labour would cease, and this unhappy population, whom they had driven from the agricultural districts into these towns, would be left stranded and unsupported. They would then be thrown back on the rural parishes from which they originally came, and the poor-rates increased by the expense of removals, appeals, and the support of this unemployed population would swamp those parishes on which they were thrown. This, he believed, would be the consequence so far as those lands were concerned in which the proposed protecting duties would afford no protection for wheat. If such were the consequences as to wheat, he asked what would be the consequences as to barley and oats, on which there had been made an uncalled-for reduction, as these grains did not constitute the food of man; and in the rotation of crops now introduced in the improved mode of agriculture, it was necessary to grow these products? He alluded particularly to the high lands of Yorkshire, where an immense expense had been incurred in the use of bone-dust, and to the large tract of warp-lands on the banks of the Trent and Ouse, which would feel the effects of this measure more than any others, owing to the importation of barley and oats from Denmark to Hull. If he might allude to the tariff in this instance, he would add, that foreign potatoes would be brought into competition with the home produce, there having been a reduction from 2s. to 2d. per cwt. in the duty imposed on their import. The expense of cultivating potatoes on warp lands in manure was 10l. 10s. an acre, and this crop was looked to as the only one in some places to give employment to the people, as it afforded employment to those who were unfit for any other work. Here, by the tariff, they cut with a two-edged sword. They had raised the duty on bird-manure. The noble Earl (Earl of Ripon) shook his head. He hoped it was a misprint; but there was 5s. duty on that manure, where there was none before. This duty would increase the expense of raising the crop, and yet they took away the protection afforded it. He would now come to that portion of the subject which regarded the importation from abroad. To some noble Lords it was a brilliant and a happy idea that they should seek the cheapest market for their goods; that they should go to rich lands which did not cost an hour's labour, and get their produce from it. He believed it was the opinion of the noble Earl (Earl Fitzwilliam) that it was not advisable to scratch our barren rocks to force them to produce grain; that we ought to go to those countries whose lands were the richest, and where the cultivation of the soil scarcely demanded an hour's labour. On the same principle they ought to look for their velvets to Genoa, and for their silks to Lyons. To protect cultivation or force manufactures was to oppose the laws ordained by nature, and instead of preserving in an artificial state the indifferent lands of this country, we should allow them to return to their original sterility. But if this principle were adopted, we should be nearly altogether dependent on the Continent for corn, because he could not agree in the statement of the noble Lord, that we in England could grow corn as cheaply as it could be grown on the Continent. He was so certain on that point, that if all the taxes in England were taken off, he was convinced we never could compete with the richer soil, and the better climate, and the cheap labour of the Continent. The measure of the Government was a step halfway towards abrogating protection, and would tend to make us more dependent on the Continent than hitherto. During the continuation of peace we might rely upon a supply, but what would be the result if we were again to be engaged in war So long as we were dependent for food on other countries, we should be like an army without a commissariat. He therefore thought that we were bound to force cultivation in this country in self-defence. On this principle we had for a long time acted, but in his opinion, he thought the present measure involved the practical abandonment of this principle. They had enclosed waste lands, and brought them into cultivation, and had accustomed the people to use fine wheaten bread down to the poorest person by the operation of the existing law. He would ask them, then, if it were not hazardous to attempt to alter by one-half a measure of that kind? And would the measure they were attempting to pass, do away with many of the mischiefs which now existed—with joint-stock bank credits, and men of straw competing with the manufacturers, and by this competition lowering prices, and reducing all to one common level of ruin? They would not stop that system by this measure, and he believed, that that was the system which had caused most of the distress in the manufacturing districts. But there was another evil with regard to this measure. The producer of manufactures for the home market would, of course, be a loser in the same ratio, as they reduced the home market by reducing the comforts and luxuries of the agriculturists. He had heard some manufacturers say, and he believed the assertion to be true, that the prosperity of the agricultural districts, which prosperity depended chiefly on the present Corn-laws, was the best friend and most certain support of the great manufacturing interests. And again, what assurance had the exporting manufacturers that the foreigner would take their goods in return for the increased quantity of corn imported? They had no guarantee that he would. On the contrary, had the Emperor of Russia made any reduction on the import duties on English manufactures into Russia? We had taken hides, and tallow, and raw materials from Russia, and Russia in return for this had not taken our manufactured goods; but our imports from Russia had greatly exceeded our exports, and our exports had not been manufactures but yarns. They then came to the Zollverein. Had Prussia encouraged them in this measure? On the contrary, the German states were manufacturing, and going on most prosperously. The manufactories of Saxon v and Germany said, "Take our corn, do what you will, we, the League, will never admit your English manufactures." If they reduced the import duty on corn here, an export duty on it would be imposed in Russia, sooner than they would damage their home manufactures by importing our manufactures in exchange. And could we blame them? No; it was natural for all countries to do this. Did not France pursue this course, perhaps, more than any other country? It was natural, because all countries had increasing population, and they must create manufactures even at a loss, or they would be swamped with their pauper population. But what was the difference in the result of encouraging manufactures, and encouraging agriculture? Every improvement in agriculture—in draining or in bringing into cultivation the poorer soils, had tended to increase employment for the poor; it was the same even in Macadamizing the roads. By therefore giving an "unnatural" protection to agriculture—if they pleased so to call it—they gave employment to an immense number of the poor. But when the genius of this country was brought to occupy itself with the manufactures, and invent and find out improvements, what was the result? We admired the invention, but it reduced the number of hands employed, and while it added to the gains of the wealthy manufacturer it produced famine amongst the poor. Improvements in agriculture increased the demand for labour; improvements in manufactures decreased that demand. The only way to counteract this result was by an immense increase in the number of mills to give occupation to the number of hands that would be otherwise thrown out of employment; but an unreasonable increase in the number of mills had hitherto been the cause of the ruin and the depression of the trade, because the demand for goods had not kept pace with the amount of production. To have remained silent whilst the present measure was going through the House, would have been a dereliction of his duty. Before he sat down, he would say one word as to the bouquet of measures which had been proposed—the tariff and the Corn-law. That they were bold, candid, and impartial measures, and had not spared any interest, he could not deny. They had treated the manufacturer in the same manner as the agriculturist—they were both embarked in the same boat. It had exposed the free-traders to the operation of the principle they advocated, for the law had been applied to them—even-handed justice had turned the poisoned chalice to their lips, and the cry now was, "No free-trade in gloves, no free-trade in shoes, no free-trade in straw-plait, but free-trade for everybody save us." Those who were the loudest in favour of the principles of free-trade, must now abandon the arguments they formerly found so persuasive amongst the shoemaker and strawplait manufacturers of the country for, if he had understood the noble Earl who had presented several petitions from those trades in the early part of the evening, it was no longer free-trade, but protection for home-made gloves, protection for Northampton shoemakers and high protective duties on strawplait that now formed the burden of their prayer. He would now apologise to their Lordships for having occupied so considerable a portion of their time, and thanking them for the great attention they had paid him, conclude by repeating that he could not in duty refrain from protesting against a measure which he considered both dangerous and uncalled for.

Lord Brougham

said, that though he did not intend to trouble their Lordships at any length on the present occasion, yet if he delayed longer in offering a few things for their Lordships' consideration, he did not see how they could come to a division with a clear understanding of the question before them. It was necessary that he should first state what he considered to be the true position of the question as it now stood, upon which, if the House, without further explanation, proceeded to a division, various noble Lords entertaining very different and very conflicting sentiments, would find it exceedingly difficult and inconvenient to express any opinion by their votes. Their Lordships had before them a motion that the bill be now read a second time. Upon that motion an amendment had been moved by a noble Earl which went to a direct negative, and in the ordinary Parliamentary form affirmed a complete, entire, and uncompromising refusal of the measure. If, then, he was called upon in the first instance to vote for the amendment moved by the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope), in what position did he find himself placed, if he neither agreed with the noble Earl in wholly opposing the measure, nor, on the other hand, altogether agree to the whole extent of the measure which the bill embodied. He was reduced to the alternative, either with the noble Earl to reject the bill altogether, or to adopt the bill without any difference as to the opinions expressed by his noble Friend the original mover. Now, neither of these courses would be in accordance with his opinions. It was true, that he considered this bill as a considerable change; and that it was a change in the right direction. As compared with the existing law, he approved of the law proposed. He held the proposed measure to be an improvement—but, he would not exaggerate — no very great improvement upon the existing Corn-laws. He lamented that the bill proceeded no further, but still the change it made was not only considerable, but in the right direction; and therefore, upon the whole, he was in favour of the mea- sure. On the other hand, he should presently state to their Lordships why he did not think it went by any means far enough, and why he also felt it his duty to move by way of amendment to the amendment of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Stanhope), that which he considered to be the assertion of a right and just principle, namely, the total and absolute repeal of the duty upon foreign corn. Now, in the first place, he begged to ask why was the proposed measure denied to be an improvement on the existing law? It was perfectly true that the change would be wholly ineffectual when the price of corn was down to 50s., because it signified nothing whether the present duty of 36s., was retained, or there was substituted in its place 20s. 8d.., which was the highest rate of duty according to the present measure. [The Earl of Ripon: 20s. would be the highest rate of duty.] Certainly: the highest duty answering to the lowest price, which would be 50s. Some doubt existed as to what would be the result if this country took a supply from foreign markets. Dantzic, Odessa, and, he believed, Amsterdam, had been referred to, but with regard to Amsterdam he would exclude it, because there the prices were extraordinarily high. But take Dantzic, for instance, where corn, he would suppose, could be bought at 45s. 6d. on board, or 40s. on board, adding 5s. 6d. for freight, carriage, and insurance to this country; but take it either way, it was material, as regarded the lowest price and the highest duty, because, adding 20s. 8d. to 50s., would give 70s., a price which was almost prohibitory; precisely in the same way, if they took high prices and the lowest rate of duty, they would then come to 72s. or 73s., and then there would be under both scales a 1s. duty; so that the difference would be nothing between the new plans at the highest and at the lowest prices. But when they came to intermediate parts of the scale, to a price varying from 53s. to 65s., a very material difference a rose between the existing scale under the statute of the 9th of George 4th., chap. 60, and that now proposed by his noble Friend. He would now take the price at 62s. Under the existing law, the duty would be 24s. 8d., while by the proposition of his noble Friend it would be 10s. Now, taking the price at Dantzic or in the Baltic, to be 40s., adding to that 5s. &d. for bringing the commodity over to this country, and then making the further addition of the proposed 10s. duty, they would have 55s. 6d. as the price at which it could be sold in the markets of this country. But. by the existing scale, the duty of 24s. 8d would bring up the price to 72s., and, therefore, it would be absolutely impossible under that scale, to import a single bushel of corn; while, with a 10s. duty, as proposed, it would not only be possible but easy to import abundance. For these reasons, he thought the measure now under consideration was a considerable improvement upon the present law, and also a removal of the obstacles which existed under it. He was ready further to admit that, to a certain degree, the trafficking and jobbing in the averages would be rendered more difficult, and that the temptations to those pernicious operations would be less under the proposed measure than under the existing law. In the third and last place, of these changes he entertained a considerable doubt in one material respect; he was by no means certain that the addition of 150 towns would have the effect expected. He was apprehensive that the addition of those towns for the purpose of the averages might have a prejudicial influence, because they were at a greater or less distance from the chief corn markets of the country, and the result might be, that the averages of price would be very considerably lowered, and the duty in proportion raised. It was possible for his noble Friend to take some steps, which he thought ought to be done, either by a separate act of Parliament, or by the introduction of a clause in the bill before the House, first to try the experiment of these 150 towns, and strike them off if found hurtful or unessential. For the various reasons he had stated, however, he was, upon the whole, impressed in favour of the proposed measure over the existing law, of which it was a mitigation; and wishing to see as speedily as possible the existing law put an end to, and the trade in corn thrown entirely open, being persuaded not only that it would be a just, expedient, but also a safe course for all interests concerned. He could say that it was an improvement, at all events a mitigation of the existing evil, and so far and to that extent he approved of it and was prepared to support it, provided he could not get a better. But as, on the other hand, he preferred a fixed duty he should be prepared to vote with his noble Friend (Viscount Melbourne) to-tomorrow night, though, he repeated, he should infinitely prefer the entire and absolute freedom from all imposts on the importation of corn. He came now to the eulogies which had been pronounced upon this bill as a final measure. Now, the measure seemed to him to present no appearance of finality; it carried in its bosom the seeds of further change, and he could not help thinking that the measure was but a step in that direction which would open the gates to further alterations and to the adoption of what he must hold to be a safer legislation — namely, that which would give this country the entire, free, and unrestrained access to the corn markets of the world. He fully agreed in the argument —one of the principal arguments in favour of an entire and complete abolition of the Corn-laws—that a worse state of things could not be imagined, than the temporary and continual fluctuations in the price of corn. If those changes and fluctuations operated injuriously to the trading interests, they worked still worse, if worse were possible, upon the agricultural interests. The agriculturists were most interested in having the question settled once for all. He would call the attention of those noble Lords to the extraordinary fact, that thousands on thousands, nay, millions sterling, were kept locked up in their coffers by prudent capitalists rather than adventure their property in the purchase of an article of which no man could safely estimate the value. According to the general opinion which had obtained in men's minds, that the rent of land did depend upon the state of the Corn-laws, while those laws were not fully settled and defined, those capitalists would not invest their capital in the purchase of land. He did not take the same view as some persons in regard to the effect which the repeal of the Corn-law would have upon the rent of land; even if they gave every scope to their imagination, leaving leases and time-bargains out of the question, the anticipations of the mischiefs which would arise from the largest possible change in the Corn-laws to the cultivator of the land —the practical farmer—were altogether without foundation. The farmer was like other traders, he produced like other traders, he found wages as they did, and if the depreciation of prices should result, which those who felt the most alarm anticipated, it was clear that the practical farmer had no interest which could be injured. Noble Lords had been arguing as if there was now, and at all times, in all the great ports of continental Europe—in every harbour, in every creek, on every strand, and in every half-navigable river—from the Baltic through the Channel, from thence into the Mediterranean, round the Levant and up to Odessa, mountains of grain ready to be shipped and sent into our harbours, the moment Parliament should have removed those restrictions which now existed on the corn trade; but it was no such thing. Where were these large quantities of grain? There was not more grain grown in the corn countries than was sufficient to feed their people and to supply those two or three countries which were in the habit of constantly importing corn—Holland being, he believed, the principal of those importing countries; but in no one country in Europe was there more corn grown than was sufficient for the purposes he had stated. Then, by opening the markets here, you of course add to the demand upon those corn-growing countries; and see the first and necessary effect of that. A paper had been laid either before their Lordships, or the other House of Parliament, affording, he thought, a sufficient test of what would be the price of corn in this country if the Corn-laws should be repealed to-morrow. He did not mean the substitution of one sliding-scale for another, or of a fixed duty for a sliding-scale; but the total and entire repeal of the law. The return referred to the island of Jersey or Guernsey, one, in short, of the Channel Islands, in which the corn trade was free, and it stated what had been the average price of corn in that island; almost all of which, be it remembered, was brought across the sea. But the freedom of importation being absolute and perfect, the average price for the ten years ending 1840 was shown by the return, to be 51s. and some odd pence— the average price in this country during the same period having been under 57s. or 58s., being a difference of 14s. or 15s. per cent.; therefore, the apparent risk which the corn-grower would run by this country being placed upon the same footing in respect to the trade in corn with our Norman Channel Islands, was no more than 14 to 15 per cent But, then, would corn remain at the same price when you added to that demand, which now kept it at 51s. in Jersey? Would corn continue to be sold there at that price, if we, by opening our ports, increased the demand upon those countries from which Jersey was supplied? Assuredly not, unless it was contended, that the consequence of opening our markets were that no increased demand would result. If there would not, then his proposition, that no risk was run, and no harm could be done, was proved in another way. One of two consequences must follow from opening our ports— either that the increased demand being nothing, the price would not be raised, and, consequently, no harm done to any one; or that there being really a demand upon the foreign corn markets—in which case alone could there be any risk—the price must necessarily rise; and instead of corn remaining in Jersey at an average price of 51s. 6d., it probably would be 55s. or 56s. a-quarter; making a difference probably of 2s. or 3s., even if we admitted the most unlimited supply we could obtain from the foreign markets. There were undoubtedly some noble Lords, who had considered the question most deeply, such as his noble Friend, the noble Earl, who was largely connected with the county of Northampton (Earl Spencer), his noble Friend, and others, who were deeply interested in the prosperity of agriculture, and in the maintenance, not merely of the farmers' profits, but of the landlords' rent, those noble Lords believed that the total repeal of the Corn-laws, and the opening of our markets to the Corn-growing countries of the Continent, would not have any effect whatever in lowering the price of corn. This opinion was also expressed last August by another noble Peer, in moving the Address in answer to the Queen's Speech. He also was one of those who looked forward to the advantages which the country would derive in the increase of its commerce and manufactures from the repeal of the Corn-laws, rather than to any reduction in the price of corn. Looking at the position of the foreign corn-grower, and the state of those countries from which we should obtain our supplies if the trade were thrown open, it was impossible that any very considerable increase could suddenly take place in the amount of grain grown in those countries, unless a much larger quantity of land was thrown into cultivation—a matter of some difficulty in countries which had not made any great advances in civilization, like those in the Ukraine and the Vistula—not on the banks, but at some distance from it—districts which grew corn, and brought it down that river to the ports of shipment. The land in those countries was for the most part forest land, covered with wood or heath, capable when well laboured, successfully-treated, and amply manured, of producing large crops; but the bringing of such lands into cultivation could not be done by a thought or a wish, or by the mere magic of an English act of Parliament abolishing the duty on the import of corn, and throwing open our ports to the foreign grower. He must have hands to cultivate, and although in this country the population was rapidly increasing at the rate of 1,000 a-day, and the demand for corn increasing at the same rate, he believed that in those distant countries of which he spoke, the increase in the population during five years was little more than nominal. He did not say that the improvement in commerce would not benefit those countries as well as ours, nor did he say, that the number of inhabitants would not increase—that their lands would not be better cultivated and their crops improved—but this was not the work of a day; and he was not at all certain that even when all this should be achieved, there would be any very formidable or alarming abundance in the supplies from those countries. It was almost as chimerical to suppose, that anything like a glut would result in ten years after the introduction of a free-trade in grain, as to suppose that such a change in the law would immediately make an important difference, if any difference at all, in the supply. As the condition of the people improved they became greater consumers—and as the numbers of the people in the Ukraine, in Poland, and other corn-growing countries increased, and they advanced in civilisation, their circumstances would improve, and they would become greater consumers of their own produce, and to such an extent as to make the export of that produce much less in proportion than it was at present. Their. Lordships might see an example illustrative of this argument in a country near this, and with which they were all acquainted: he alluded to Ireland. Great Britain had imported thence, for the three years ending 1835, not less on an average than in each year 761,000 quarters, whereas the average for the three years ending 1841, was only 216,000 quarters. This was, he devoutly hoped, or rather, he doubted not in the least, owing to the improvement which had taken place in the condition of the Irish people, who had thus consumed more than previously of the necessaries of life. A noble Lord had referred the national distress, not to the Corn-laws, but to the currency; but then the noble Lord had reckoned that pernicious influence since 1835 only. But how could it be said that a measure passed twenty years before that period could have caused the existing distress. How could the Bank be said now to have the power of unduly influencing the currency; since, as the gold standard was established, the moment a single note was issued over what the currency really required, that note would speedily be returned on the Bank. So long as the conversion of Bank paper into gold was compulsory, there was no danger of the recurrence of such depressions as might have been the result of a system under which the market price of gold was so much above the Mint price, that it was 5l. and even 5l. 10s. and an ounce instead of 3s. 17s. 10½d.; and under which a bank note for 1l. passed only for 14s. For all these things, there had been a clear reason,—viz., the non-convertibility of the paper into gold; and now that this convertibility had been completely established, no such things could possibly be apprehended from the currency. Notwithstanding which, he regretted that at the time of this settlement there had not been some arrangement as to the public creditor. The noble Lord had said, there ought to be more paper. Why, would the noble Lord wish Government assignats to be issued? Would not the noble Lord be at all apprehensive of the return of the system in this country under which, in France, 20,000 francs in assignats had been given for a pair of gloves. He did not expect to induce their Lordships, now, to agree to the total repeal of the Corn-laws; but he hoped the day was not far distant when the people would open their eyes to the necessity of that great change. If, on no other ground, such a change was desirable as a final and conclusive settlement of the question—a measure which would quicken trade, and which would revive commerce and manufactures, by opening fresh markets for our energy, enterprise, and industry—putting an end meanwhile to the dissensions between different interests. He altogether rejected the notion, so often urged, of the labourer's having an interest in this question by reason of low prices (as it was alleged) producing low wages, though it was admitted that high prices did not always produce high wages. He needed not remind their Lordships, that the price of labour depended upon the demand for it, and the supply of it in the market. Whatever might be the price of provisions, the price at which labour would be sold must depend upon the amount of it brought to the market, and the amount of it demanded. Was a reason for this required? Here was one. When food was, from any cause whatever, dear or scarce to the working man, he would naturally work harder, and during more hours of the day, which, by producing an increased supply of labour, would tend to keep the market down. But lower the price of food, or by any means provide the working man with more of it than he then has, and you necessarily lessen the pressure which induces him to work, and you raise the price of labour in proportion as it is less brought into the market. If they wanted a fact as evidence of his proposition, look to America. There food was cheaper, but was the price of labour lower in consequence? No; the price of labour was as a dollar there to 2s. a day compared with the price here; while the price of grain was as 40s. there, and 60s. here. It was very well for a noble Lord behind him to remind him of the difference of population, and that the supply of labour in America was less. He ought to have also added, that America is an uncleared country, and that therefore the demand for labour was greater. That precisely made out his case. It was because there was a less supply of labour, and a greater demand that the price of labour was higher, though food was cheaper. Perhaps he ought to apologise to their Lordships for repeating the arguments against this oft-refuted fallacy; but it was only in the repeated refutation of it that there lay any hope (slight, he admitted) of its ultimate abandonment. He felt also, that he ought to apologise for having detained the House so long; but he had deemed it his duty to state his objections to the existing system and to the present measure, and also the reason why he proposed a resolution different from either. Situated as he was, not wishing, by voting with the noble Lord, to condemn a" measure which, after all, he admitted was an improvement, and, on the other hand, not wishing to record an unqualified support of the present measure, he felt that he had no alternative but to take the course which he had already indicated. In the event, then, of the amendment of the noble Earl being negatived, he should move as an amendment to leave out all the words after the word "that," and to insert these words "no duty ought to be imposed upon the importation of foreign corn of any description."

The Earl of Shaftesbury

very much doubted whether it was competent to the noble and learned Lord thus to move a general resolution as an amendment upon the second reading of a particular bill.

Lord Brougham

entertained no doubt whatever on the subject. It was competent to him to move such an amendment even on the question that the bill be read a second time.

The Earl of Shaftesbury

Not an amendment of any sort or description.

Lord Brougham

said, it was quite consistent with Parliamentary usage to move an amendment on an amendment. It was customary in the other House of Parliament, and the first vote was taken on the second amendment. That was done in the Duke of York's case when it was before the other House, as the noble Lord (Lord Canterbury) on the cross benches would, no doubt, remember.

The Earl of Ripon

said, it seemed to him very doubtful, whether the amendment could be put, because the first question to be decided was, whether the noble Earl's amendment should be agreed to. If that were decided in the negative, the bill would be read a second time, and then be did not see how the noble and learned Lord's amendment could be put at all.

Lord Brougham

maintained, that the first question would be put on his amendment.

Lord Canterbury

apprehended the noble and learned Lord was quite mistaken. The first question to be- put, would be on the original motion. The amendment of the noble Earl would be stated to the House, merely as an inducement not to agree to the original motion. Unless the original motion were negatived, the question would not be taken on the amendment; and if the amendment could be put at all, then the second amendment, that of the noble and learned Lord must be put first.

Earl Fitzwilliam

said, the House would give him credit, he was sure, for having no intention to discuss this question; but, at the same time, considering the importance of the subject and the course which he intended to pursue, he should be sorry to give a silent vote. It by no means followed, from the course he had taken on former occasions with regard to the question involved in the amendment of his noble and learned Friend, that he should take the same course now. Seeing as he did, that the existing law was one of which it was exceedingly desirable for them to disencumber themselves, he could not help entertaining considerable gratitude towards those who, if not the first to take the lead, had at least mounted very gallantly the gap made by others. He should vote for the second reading of this bill, not because he thought there was anything of finality in it, but because he thought, in accordance with his noble and learned Friend below him, that it carried in itself the seeds of future amendment. He held it to be impossible for any one to believe, that the right hon. Baronet, who by propounding this bill and the tariff in connexion with it proved, that he was not the nominal head merely of the Government, but its real head, did not see much further into this question than those Gentlemen who thought it would be a final settlement. A final settlement of this question there could be but one, and that was by the adoption of perfectly free-trade. Not that he understood by free-trade the principle contained in the amendment of his noble and learned Friend, that there must be no duty whatever on foreign corn, but, that there should be no duty levied for the purpose of regulation. And the tariff seemed to him, as far as it went, to be in accordance with what he conceived to be the principle of free-trade, so far as that the duties levied appeared to be for revenue, and not for the purpose of regulation or protection. He looked upon this bill as being a step in advance. Whether it would have the fourteen years' life of its predecessors he did not know, but his own opinion was, that it would not last quite so long. Believing as he did, that its introduction had depended upon the last harvest, so he thought its duration would depend upon ensuing harvests. In now voting for the second reading, he was not involving himself in the responsibility of hereafter supporting it, nor did he say, that he might not at once attempt to produce some modification of it.

Viscount Melbourne

said, although he had nothing to say on the question that had not been said over and over again in the course of the debate, yet to prevent misunderstanding he thought it right to state his reasons for voting as he should do on the present occasion. From the opinions he held, the propositions which he had already brought forward, and the course which he had taken in regard to the ques- tion, it must be already well known to their Lordships that he could not approve of either the principle or the general provisions of this bill. At the same time he concurred in the opinion that had been already expressed, that it was a considerable improvement on the existing law; and, therefore, though he should in the course of its progress through the House attempt to prevail on their Lordships to adopt a principle which he considered to be more prudent, wise, and fitted to the best interests of the country than those embodied in the bill yet, at the same time, he should not take a course which would deprive them of the advantages which the measure was calculated to confer on the country. With these views he should vote for the second reading.

Their Lordships divided on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question — Contents 119; Not-Contents 17:—Majority 102.

List of the Not-Contents on the first division.
Buckingham Hastings
Willoughby d'Eresby
Clanricarde Beaumont
EARLS. Lilford
Orkney Rayleigh
Tankerville Godolphin
Stanhope Western
Malmesbury De Freyne.

The question again put that the bill be now read a second time,

Lord Brougham

moved as an amendment to substitute these words. "No duty ought to be imposed on the importation of foreign corn."

Their Lordships divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question—Contents 109; Not-Contents 5:—Majority 104.

List of the Not-Contents on the Second division.
Clanricarde Kinnaird
EARL. Vivian.

The following protest against the second reading of the bill was entered,


1. Because no alteration in the existing duties upon foreign corn ought to have been proposed without having previously endea- voured to ascertain by a Parliamentary inquiry at what prices, and in what quantities it could be imported; and also whether the remunerating prices of corn which is grown at home continue to be the same as they were when the present Corn-law was enacted.

2. Because the protection which agriculture now enjoys is not greater than is requisite, is advantageous to all classes of the community, and could not be diminished without extreme injustice to those who, under the faith of Parliament, have invested their capital in the cultivation of land.

3. Because the proposed alteration of the Corn-law would "cause a very considerable decrease of the protection which the present duty affords to the home grower," as was allowed to be the case by the Minister who recommended that alteration.

4. Because a "very considerable decrease" of the present protection would discourage British agriculture, might render this country dependent upon foreigners for a supply of the first necessary of life, and might, in the event, of unfavourable seasons, expose it to the horrors of famine.

5. Because a "very considerable decrease" of the present protection might produce a permanent depression in the prices of British corn, a corresponding diminution of consumption and expenditure, and a corresponding increase of the distress and discontent which now unhappily prevails.

6. Because the discouragement of British agriculture would be very injurious to the labourers who are now employed in tillage, and might reduce their wages, which, in many districts, are already much too low to provide for their comfortable subsistence.

7. Because it is the bounden duty of Parliament to afford due protection to those who are employed in agriculture, as well as in any other branch of British industry, all of whom have a common interest to prevent the competion of foreigners in the home market.




Bill read a second time, to be committed the next day.


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