§ LORD DELAMERE
was understood to say that he was anxious, in defence of his character, to offer a few words of explanation to their Lordships. The noble Duke (Richmond) on a former occasion had stated his surprise at finding his (Lord Delamere's) name as a member of the Cheshire Agricultural Protection Society. He (Lord Delamere) answered without hesitation that he had never belonged to that society, and that he never had belonged to any society of the sort, and that he believed he had never aided that society by subscription, but that he could not tax his memory; his strong impression, however, was, that he had never done anything of the sort. He now repeated that he never did belong to the Cheshire Agricultural Association; and he felt called upon, as a gentleman and man of honour, to declare that what he had said on the former occasion as to not being a subscriber he then repeated. It was strictly true. The fact was, that when the Anti-Corn-Law League began distributing pamphlets and laying out money for the purpose of setting tenants against their landlords, and began to tamper with the registration, he, with a large portion of the gentlemen of the county did attend a meeting at Northwich to see whether it might not be possible to defeat the machinations of the Anti-Corn-Law League; and it being considered necessary that there should be a small sum at the command of the Committee, for the 439 discharge of legal, advertising, and other expenses, he had subscribed something and paid it immediately to the chairman; but he had never attended any meeting afterwards, and he never was a member of the Cheshire Agricultural Protection Association, nor any other protection association. If the noble Duke had told him what he (the Duke of Richmond) had stated in his (Lord Delamere's) absence from the House, he should have immediately risen and made the explanation he had just given.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
It appears, from the noble Lord's statement, that the people in his part of the country do not hear much, neither, I am afraid, do they remember much. Your Lordships may remember, that I got up the other night to justify myself as to the grounds which induced me to believe that the noble Lord was a member of the Cheshire Agricultural Society. The moment I saw the noble Lord in his place I told him what I had stated, though, as there was a debate going on, he might not have heard what I said.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
I am not charging the noble Lord, I beg to remind your Lordships, with a greater offence than has been perpetrated by many of your Lordships—a change of opinion on the corn question within the last two years. I tell you fairly, my Lords, that ever since this Bill came into your Lordships' House, I have come down every night with a list of all the noble Lords favourable to it who have been members of protectionist societies; and I should not be at all surprised if, before the debate closes, I find an occasion of reading to your Lordships what I conceive to be so curious as well as perhaps instructive a document. It appears that on the 5th March, 1844, there was a large meeting of the gentry and farmers of Cheshire, who met in the market-place, and so large was the attendance that there was obliged to be an adjournment elsewhere. Now the first resolution that was proposed at that meeting was—That a society be formed for the protection of agriculture; that the objects of this society be not merely the protection of the landed interests against the schemes of the League, but also to oppose all measures that may be brought forward, having a tendency to deprive agriculture of that protection to which it was so justly entitled. That this society ought not to interfere with political subjects, but that every effort should be made to secure to the tenant-farmer a fair remuneration 440 for his industry, so as to enable him to give to the labourer a fair day's wages for a fair day's work.This resolution, my Lords, I find was moved by the right hon. Lord Delamere. My Lords, that is the paper on which I rest my justification. I agree in every syllable of it, and I only wish the noble Lord had adhered to it as stedfastly as might have been expected from the part he took in those proceedings.
§ LORD DELAMERE
With regard to that meeting I certainly attended it, and it was very numerously attended. But the adjournment spoken of did not take place from the great numbers attending it, but from the fact of our having been ousted by the Anti-Corn-Law League. The resolution alluded to was certainly moved by me, but it was moved in conjunction with many others bearing on the particular circumstances of that period; for then it was that paid emissaries were sent by the League to Cheshire, who endeavoured to separate the farmers from the landlords, and the labourers from the farmers. That resolution was accompanied with others as to registration. I refused an invitation to belong to the Protection Society of Cheshire, nor did I ever pay a halfpenny towards it except the trifle of 25l. which was given for the purpose of counteracting the machinations of the League.
§ VISCOUNT COMBERMERE
I can only say that, as chairman of that society, I always considered the noble Lord as one of our most active and efficient members. As he has now withdrawn, of course I can no longer look on the noble Lord in that light. The noble Lord says he did not pay his subscription. I received this morning a letter from Mr. Harding, a neighbour, if not a tenant, of the noble Lord, who says, as secretary of the Association, "Having seen that Lord Delamere stated that he did not belong to any protection association, or subscribe to the funds of any such society, I beg to state, for your Lordship's information, that Lord Delamere is our vice-president, and that he subscribed to our funds towards the end of last year; and further, that he moved the first resolution at our meeting," that referred to by the noble Duke (Duke of Richmond).