§ LORD ASHBURTON
said, that he did not in any way wish to anticipate the important discussion on this subject which would shortly come before their Lordships. They were all aware of what had passed elsewhere. That information they gained from the Votes of the other House. He was now only anxious that when the Corn Bill did come before their Lordships there should be no delay, as far as he was concerned, occasioned by the calling for any Papers which he might consider requisite for the consideration of this most important subject. He did not wish to delay the discussion of the question, and therefore he would now move for two or three Papers which he thought their Lordships should have before them, before they proceeded to the discussion of the Government measure. Their Lordships were probably aware, that that measure would have the important consequence of letting out of bond something like a million and a half of quarters of wheat. Now, that quantity was something like four or five times more than ever had been in bond during the last six or seven years. If the measure were passed at all, their Lordships ought to pass it with their eyes open, and with a full knowledge of all the consequences which it was likely have on the whole of the agricultural population of this country—a subject which, in Parliament as well as out of Parliament, was now treated with too much levity and indifference. He, with this view, therefore, should wish to have a Return, made up to the latest period, of the quantity of wheat and wheat-flour, of oats, oatmeal, and barley, under bond in the United Kingdom. To this there could be no objection, and it was a return which could be made with great distinctness. Next, he should wish to have a return of the quantity of the same imported since the commencement of the pre- 169 sent year, and of the quantities entered for home consumption; and of the rate of duty paid thereon. He would also wish for a return of the amount payable for every 100l. of tithe assessed under the Tithe Commutation Act for each year since the passing of that Act down to 1845 inclusive.
agreed in the necessity of having the important documents moved for by his noble Friend before them. His opinion decidedly was that the letting of that one and a half million of quarters out of bond would produce a fall in the price of the commodity; but he should endeavour at the proper time to satisfy their Lordships that that depression would be only temporary. After the delay which the Corn Bill had already experienced, he trusted that it would now be expedited as much as possible. He hoped, also, that the Land Burdens Committee would endeavour to lay their important Report upon the Table of the House as early as possible.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
recommended that the statement should extend back to the year 1828, when the last Corn Bill but one was passed. The information might be on the Table in another form; but it was desirable that the same Paper should contain the whole. The quantity of corn in bond at present was unusually great; but it was to be accounted for by the fact that the present Corn Bill had been virtually announced, and before the country for the last six months; and that being the case, of course no merchant in his senses would hurry to take his corn out of bond.
§ The DUKE of RICHMOND
said, that there never was more corn upon the farmers' hands than at this moment. If the corn now in bond had been let in to consumption, he believed that the price of corn would have been much lower. The delay, however, in passing the Corn Bill had prevented that great reduction in price; and so far the farmer had been a gainer by it. They talked of that question as if it were settled. He (the Duke of Richmond) did not believe that it was settled, for he could not imagine that so many noble Lords on the Ministerial side of the House had changed their opinions; and he thought that there were still some fixed duty advocates on the opposition, who would not be induced by a party feeling to vote against their consciences.
§ EARL GREY
was of opinion, and he 170 spoke from some practical knowledge of the subject, that the farmers had grievously suffered from the delay in passing the Corn Bill. Noble Lords seemed to think that the home growers were to be perfectly deluged with wheat when they removed the dam and let in the grain now in bond, which during the last six months should have been flowing in to the market in a regular current. He did not think that the farmer would suffer in consequence. The farmer had suffered considerably, and in some parts of the country the price of wheat had been lower, in consequence, as he believed, of foreign wheat not having been admitted. It was notorious that a great quantity of the last harvest's wheat was so bad from the wet and other causes, that it was utterly impossible to grind it without old and foreign wheat. He knew that in the north of England that was almost universally the case with the wheat; and he was convinced that in that part of the country, and he believed that throughout the kingdom, it would have been an immense advantage to the fanners if the ports had been opened in November or December last, so that they might have had foreign wheat to mix with their own inferior grain.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
said, he should probably be able to lay the Report of the Land Burthens Committee upon the Table of the House early next week; and he should hope for great and important measures resulting from that Report.
§ Motion agreed to, Returns ordered.