§ Mr. Curteis
had several petitions to present from different parishes in Sussex, complaining of the weight of taxation, and of the tithe-sys- 1317 tem. To one of them, from the inhabitants of Horsham, he wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the case of the petitioners being very hard. One of them had informed him, that previous to the late turn-out of the labourers, there was none in his parish unemployed, or who received less than 12s. a week, while many received a great deal more. This petition prayed that the tithe-system might be altered, and gave a plan for that purpose; and he should therefore ask to have it printed. The other petitions were chiefly from those interested in agriculture, and the agricultural interest throughout the country was in the deepest distress. he wished to draw the attention of the noble Lord interested in the bill for bettering the condition of the labouring poor, to a statement he had to make respecting the wages received by the labourers in a certain parish in Sussex. A few days ago, a gentleman, having the largest estate in a large parish of Sussex, gave him an exact account of the wages he paid to his labourers last year; which confirmed the opinion, that where they get employment they are well paid; that, generally, it is only the poverty of the fanners and landowners which prevents them from employing more hands, and where they do employ additional hands, it may happen that all have not sufficient. It would be as wrong for him to impute the disorganized state of the country to the Government having refused to go into an examination of the distress of last year, as it would be in the Government to attribute the distress to fair and adequate wages not being given to the labourers. The gentleman he had already alluded to, and he would mention the fact to shew that wages had not been raised by the late disturbances, informed him that none of his old labourers, single or married, received less than 12s. a week, and that he paid more to those who behaved well. The average rate of wages in the parish was not less than 1s. 8d. a day. To his carter he gave 16s. a week; to his second carter he gave l3s. a week; and to other superior men he gave l5s. and 18s. a week. This information was derived from a gentleman who went into all the minutiae of farming, and was, therefore, perfectly competent to explain these details. in the adjoining parish, no farmer whatever paid his labourers last winter less than 2s. a day. In the parish in which he (Mr. Curteis) 1318 had resided for the last two winters, wages had not been less than 2s. a day; which he paid himself, although it was wrongly reported the other day, that he paid his labourers only 1s. 9d. Yesterday he saw another gentleman, from a parish in Sussex, who told him that he knew but of one instance where wages were less than 2s. a clay. Indeed he said that more persons paid above 2s. than less. He would again urge upon the Government, that it was the poverty of the farmer, and nothing else, which caused the distress of the labouring classes. The agriculturists of this country were not so selfish as to act unjustly towards the labourers they employed. That being the only opportunity he should have before the recess, he would embrace it to say, that he highly approved of the sentiments uttered the other night by the noble Earl at the head of the Government, particularly in so far as they related to the agriculturist. That statement would be received with pleasure throughout the country. At the same time he was bound to say, that he heard with some degree of jealousy and alarm what fell from a noble Lord, then absent. He stated, that he had some inclination to agree with those who were in favour of free-trade. He wished to tell that noble Lord, whom the country had hitherto looked up to as a true friend of the agricultural interest, that if he favoured the doctrines of the political economist, so far as to advocate the introduction of foreign corn free of duty, he would bring destruction on all the interests of this nation. Nothing would tend so much to the ruin of the manufacturing and commercial interests, as the introduction of foreign corn free of duty. He did not stand up to advocate any particular system of Corn-laws, but the English agriculturists must, should, and would have protection, though he cared not in what way. He had received a statement from the parish of Burridge, in Sussex, which was most appalling. There are 7,000 acres of land in the parish; the tithes amount to 700l, the highway-rate to 700l., and other charges in proportion. How was it possible, he would ask, that the agricultural interest could contend against such taxes and claims as these? Yet would the political economists, in their wisdom, advocate the introduction of corn free of duty. To act on their principles would be perfect insanity. The agriculturists were 1319 not the selfish people they were supposed to be, and let them be freed from taxes and duties, and they would undertake to compete with the foreigner. Then he would agree that it might be advisable to have a perfectly free trade in corn; but till then, he hoped the Government would not yield to any of their former friends, or, if there be any in the Administration, to any of the political economists, they are associated with. The hon. Member concluded by presenting the several petitions to which he alluded at the beginning of his speech.
§ Mr. Briscoe
wished to claim the attention of the House for a single minute, what he had to say being in reference to the distress of the labouring classes; and as he thought he could suggest a practical mode for administering relief to them, it was his duty not to hesitate to trespass on the House. He wished to allow labourers to occupy portions of land not exceeding an acre, by which they might be able to raise a subsistence for the maintenance of their own families. He had received visits from farmers, and from persons who had devoted their time to the welfare of the country, and they one and all assured him that in no instance where the experiment had been made, had it been known to fail. For his own part, he had been in the habit of directing considerable attention to the welfare of the poor, and he did not think, that at the present moment there was any other mode whatever by which relief could be afforded to them, and by which the burthens which bore so heavily on the farmer, and consequently on the landlord, could be mitigated. In the county which he had the honour to represent, there existed this extraordinary phenomenon, for such he could not help considering it;— there was a parish with between 4,000 and 5,000 acres of uncultivated land, and applications were daily made to the overseers for work. There were many families quite unemployed, and although all the inhabitants of that parish, with one exception, and that exception an absentee proprietor, concurred in the propriety of enclosing only twenty acres, which would immediately furnish employment to those persons, such was the state of the law, that the parish could not turn that waste land into account. When the pressure of distress was so severely felt by all classes, not merely by the rich, but by those only one degree above the poor themselves, it was strange, that a thing so obvious to common 1320 sense as the apportionment of a part of this uncultivated land to the poor, which they were willing to receive in lieu of what they now had from the rates, should not be acted upon, and still stranger was it that the prohibition to acting on that common sense view, arose from the law. A practical farmer lately meeting a labourer, not far from Lord Winchilsea's property, he inquired into his circumstances, and found that he had a wife and eight children, that his wages were 12s. a week, that he had a cottage, for which he gave 2s. a week, but that having no garden to it, he was obliged to get 5s. a week from the parish. The gentleman asked him whether he would forego the parish allowance if he were permitted to take one or two acres of land, paying rent for it in the same way as the farmers round about. He answered that he only wished he could get the land, for by that means he should be able to give employment to his family, and to bring them up in habits of prudence and industry. The. produce of one acre under spade-husbandry was equal to three acres cultivated in the ordinary way, so that there could be no doubt of the benefit to the party taking land to cultivate by the spade, and to the parish there would be a saving in that individual instance of 13l. a year. If, upon further consideration, it should seem desirable, that the subject should be brought before the Mouse, he should probably, after the recess, ask permission to bring in a bill to enable parishes to give their waste land to the poor, and perhaps also to grant them small loans to obtain seed to cultivate the land.
§ Mr. Long Wellesley
was satisfied, that the country and the House would receive the opinions just delivered, with the greatest possible respect. This question was one of the greatest and most important which the Government could take into consideration. Of all the questions that concerned the internal welfare of this country, there were none so important as those which the two hon. Members had raised; and of all the branches of those questions, there were none more important than those which they had in part discussed. The hon. member for Sussex spoke of the Corn-laws, and of the importation of foreign corn; the other hon. Member had stated, that spade-husbandry alone could relieve the labouring classes, or at least he meant to make spade-husbandry a primary object. Those questions had 1321 occupied the attention of some of the most celebrated men in the kingdom, who had written on the subject of political economy, and the state of the poor, and could not be supposed, therefore, to be questions easily settled. For his part, he agreed with the hon. member for Surrey, that the adoption of spade-husbandry would be exceedingly valuable; and he regretted, that he had not a letter in his pocket, which he had received from Essex, in which the advantages of that system were set forth. That letter stated, that a system of spade-husbandry had been adopted near Tilbury Fort in Essex, and effectually stopped a disposition to insubordination, —an adequate price being at the same time paid for the land. The people were before this in a state of insurrection. In consequence, however, of the suggestion having been made to him, and of his acceding to it, small portions of land had been let, at a low rent, to 600 or 700 people. The hon. Member, however, must not forget the extreme difficulties of the question, that this parish was singularly situated, and that the plan might not, therefore, be equally advantageous elsewhere. If he were not afraid to occupy the attention of the House too long, he could show how a measure he was about to bring forward, concerning the clergy, would promote the same object; but that would open too wide a field. In the parish he spoke of, the population was in the proportion of eight poisons to every 100 acres of land; and the hon. member for Surrey, who was well acquainted with agricultural matters, must know, that, when there existed so great a superabundant population, it would be impossible to provide for them by spade-husbandry, unless we could do away with our old system of agriculture—a question perhaps not unworthy of consideration. He thought our present system of agriculture a bad one; for he had lived in countries where it was impossible not to see the advantages of a different system. He alluded particularly to the Florentine States, which, although one of the least communities of Europe, is, by its system of husbandry, made one of the most happy and prosperous. The House must, however, take care not to adopt an important principle of information without due consideration, which might plunge into distress a valuable portion of the community. The other night a, Gentleman brought forward a measure 1322 affecting the settlement of the poor. As a country gentleman and as a Magistrate, he knew that that was a question of vast importance. The House was quite empty; the question was nearly decided; but the words, "settlement of the poor," having caught his ear, he took the liberty of rising, and suggesting, that it should be postponed to a more fit opportunity. He would suggest, however, to the two hon. Members, although they had entered into these questions incidentally, that no man had ability and capacity of mind sufficient to settle such important subjects as these were become; they raised questions which interested the welfare of the whole community, and required all the talents of the country to adjust them. On the subject of the Poor-laws, he wished to say, that their principle was excellent, and their mal-administration the cause of all the evil of which the people complained.
Sir John Sebright
wished, that he could think, with the hon. member for Surrey, that the plan he alluded to would be beneficial, because it could be easily applied; but he was convinced, from his own experience, as well as that of others, that the benefits to the poor from such a plan would not answer expectation. Some years ago, he observed some cottages in his parish, not belonging to him, which had no gardens, whilst all his cottages had. He laid out a piece of land, and divided it into gardens for those cottages, letting each garden at the nominal rent of 6d.; in allotting these pieces of ground, he consulted some respectable labouring men, of sense and experience in such matters, who had been in his service twenty or thirty years, as to the size they should be of. The precise extent he did not recollect, but by their advice they were made excessively small, large enough, they said, for a man following his daily occupations to cultivate. He thought they were too small, and probably, if the thing were to be done over again, he should make them larger. He agreed with the hon. member for Surrey, that a garden to a poor man was not only good from the profit it yielded him, but for the employment it found for his wife and children, and also for himself in his leisure hours; but he did not believe, except in particular situations, and under peculiar circumstances, that it could answer for any labourer to hold more ground than he could, cultivate as a kitchen garden. 1323 Taking the average of land in Hertfordshire at 20s. an acre, a man by cultivating that land by the spade, could not get 6d. a-day from it. He had no objection to try the experiment, and he had land in Staffordshire, and other parts of England, from which he was willing to give up a part, rent-free, for the purpose of trying the experiment, but he was convinced it would not answer. He once had an argument on this subject with a foreigner, a friend of his, who was staving at his house, and to settle it, he took the opinion of some of the most intelligent men in his neighbourhood. One of them was a gardener, who had been thirty years in his service; a very sensible man. He asked them whether they would take any quantity of land, naming it themselves, rent-free, to gain a livelihood for their family by spade-husbandry; and they, one and all, knowing thoroughly the nature of the subject, and being intelligent labouring men, declared that they would not. There was, perhaps, some land which might be the better for spade-husbandry, but there was some which would not be improved by it; but he would not enter into that theoretical question, his only intention being, to express his opinion that, unless under very peculiar circumstances, a labourer could not be benefitted by holding more land than he could convert into the purposes of a kitchen garden; and if there were any country gentlemen in the House who thought otherwise, he called upon them to give some land for that purpose. He could only say, for his own part, that he was willing to give every one of his labourers, or any labourer on the parish, sufficient to carry the plan into effect; nor would this be such matter of great liberality; for, looking at the thing closely, the landowners would save in poor-rates what they might lose in rent. "Why," it was said," not give the labourers two acres a piece?" Why, for this reason— that they could not make use of it; but, although he did not think it would succeed, he was ready to try the experiment.
§ Lord Nugent
said, that a system of the sort under discussion, in the course of the last two years, had fallen under his observation, and the result of that experience was favourable. It might, however, be one of those particular cases which the hon. Baronet spoke of, and certainly, in that part of the country the land was very good. Small portions of land had been 1324 let at exceedingly high rents, indeed so high, that no landlord could in conscience have demanded, or in practice have had a chance of obtaining from a fanner, namely, at the rate of 3l. an acre, the tenant paying the rates. For a rood, 15s. was paid to the landlord, and 2s. to the poor-rates, and its produce was at least 5l. The crop was generally potatoes; and taking the produce at 100 bushels, producing one with another 1s. a bushel, the result would give a crop valued at 5l. The plan had this advantage, that besides encouraging the labourers to cultivate this rood with the utmost care and economy, it enabled them to bring a new capital of labour into action; for when a garden was brought into a friable state by good culture, it might be kept in that state by two children of from twelve to fourteen years of age, whose labour was thus made profitable, without being brought into the general labour-market. If there were a glut of labour in the parish, a labourer that found his wages too low, would withdraw his portion from the market, and sell himself, as it were, two or three days' labour, for the cultivation of his own garden. Upon this experience he certainly could bear his testimony to the great advantage of spade-husbandry, even where the allotments of ground were at high rents, and placed under careful restrictions.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
thought, the hon. Member had entered upon the discussion of questions which must be left to the landlords themselves. He did not pretend to have much experience in these matters, but he knew that if a cottager was not to be a thief, he should have a good-sized garden; for it was too much to expect that he should see his family want; and when once he had broken through the law, there was no saying at what he would stop. Some persons called out down with the rents, and if the House wanted a revolution, be it so, but the country was not in such a condition, that one class of the community could be relieved at the expense of another. He had a petition in his hands, which he should not then present, from a number of the inhabitants of London, at the head of whom was an Alderman, once in this House, complaining of great distress. They state, that their trade and profits are diminished, and that their property is annihilated. He could well believe the statement, for 1325 cases came before him as a Magistrate, which fully confirmed it. In one of the London parishes, above sixty householders were lately summoned for non-payment of their rates. A poor woman, the wife of one of them, went to him in tears, and told him, that she had been threatened with a warrant, to compel her to pay the poor-rates. He found upon inquiry, that her husband had been twenty-seven years in the army, but had for some years past set up in a little way of business, and was then unable to go abroad, because he had pawned his hat and coat, to make up a sum to pay the assessed taxes of which the petition he had referred to prayed the repeal: she brought the tax-gatherer's receipt, with a list of all her duplicates. They had begun with pawning little articles of luxury, such as a ring or two; then came coats, shirts, bed, and, finally, bed-covering, and the last article pawned was for 6d. They had submitted to the last extremity rather than go to the poor-house, and wanted only to be excused the poor-rates to make one effort more. The agriculturists could not be relieved at the expense of the trading classes. If the distress were confined to one particular district, the remedy of the hon. member for Surrey, or of the hon. member for Hertfordshire, might, perhaps, be beneficially applied; but the Parliament could not cure the existing grievances by any such means. To talk of putting down rents was sufficient to excite the poorer classes against their landlords. What right had the House to interfere with rents? for men make their own bargains. The farmer had his land too cheap at the beginning of the war, and by the rise of prices, the agricultural interest prospered; since then, we had been retracing our steps, and labourer, farmer, and landlord, had successively felt the effects of it. Rents had come down, and must come down, simply because the farmers could not afford to pay them. In London all leasehold property had been destroyed, some which was of equal value to freehold. In Cheapside, some of the houses, the leases of which cost thousands, could hardly be kept up by dividing them into three or four little shops. The ground-landlord alone in London maintained his station, and he could name persons in the City who received 30,000l. or 40,000l. a year for ground-rents. Bricklayers, carpenters, painters, and all concerned in the 1326 building of houses had been ruined, whilst the ground-landlord had still the same rent, and every article he consumed might be had at a cheaper rate. They were told, forsooth, that they ought to send more manufactured goods abroad. In fact, the country did that, and sent 150 instead of 100 pieces of cloth, but got no profit. His conviction was, that the Legislature must either raise prices, or bring down taxation. His hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, must not imagine that he is the only individual anxious to reduce the taxes, for he was desirous of going as far as any man in all practicable reductions. Some of the great pensions must be swept away, if the House wished to avoid those convulsions and revolutions, which must necessarily follow perseverance in extravagance. The country would infallibly be ruined, if the Parliament had not the wisdom, firmness, and honesty, to meet the necessities of the times. When Gentlemen discussed questions about the distress, however disorderly it might be to depart from the particular subject under discussion, entering upon various topics was unavoidable. He rose principally to deprecate this system of debate, deeming it better to have a distinct discussion brought on by a regular notice. The House had been told, that it ought to wait for a general examination of the taxes, and not ask for reductions on particular items; but in that he could not agree, for the House ought immediately to reduce those taxes which affect the middle classes, for if they were in a state of prosperity the lower classes need not fear want of employment. Some persons talked everlastingly about the necessity of importing foreign corn, because they said foreigners would not otherwise take our manufactured goods. But in the last year we imported 3,500,000l. worth of corn, while foreigners had taken 1,000,000l. less of our goods; so that there was scarcely a position in political economy which experience did not contradict. On the 15th February next, he meant to lay upon the Table a string of Resolutions, being a mere statement of facts, to show the nature, extent, and particular periods of the great depreciations in the value of our trade and manufactures.
§ The petition read.
§ Mr. Curteis,
on moving that the petition be printed, begged to thank hon. Members who had given him their advice, and par- 1327 ticularly the hon. Alderman, for his lesson about bringing this subject forward. He could only say, that he was inclined to obey his constituents, from seeing so many false representations going forth as to the inclinations of the agricultural interests. He bowed with deference to the House, but he was bound to say, with perfect courtesy, that the hon. Alderman was not one of those persons who would stop his mouth when expressing the sentiments of his constituents.—Petition to be printed. The hon. Member also presented petitions from the Rector, Curate, Parish Officers, and Inhabitants of Iden, Playden, and Guldeford, for the repeal of the Malt-tax.
§ Mr. Sidney
knew full well that there were many places in Sussex in which wages were extremely low. He did not say this as a matter of blame to the individuals employing labourers in those parishes, for it was shown before the committee over which he had the honour to be placed, that the lowness of wages arose from there being in some parishes a greater number of labourers than could be employed at an adequate remuneration, and from the poor-laws having being wrested from their original intention, and administered in a manner so different from what they were in the north of England. He hoped that those who had the management of the poor would retrace their steps, for till that were done, it would be impossible that the peasantry could be placed in a comfortable condition.
observed, that the hon. member for Sussex had said, that the agricultural interest must, should, and would have protection. Had the House ever heard the commercial or manufacturing interest declare that they must, should, and would have protection? Was that proper language for any hon. Member to use? Was not the House to consider every measure calmly and deliberately, with a view to the public good; and was the public good to be sacrificed to the violence of the agriculturists?
§ Colonel Sibthorp
could not understand why the hon. Member should remonstrate because it had been said, that the agriculturist must, should, and would have protection. He joined with the hon. member for Sussex in that declaration, and thought that he was entitled to the thanks of his constituents for making it. He hoped that the agriculturists might yet be allowed to demand and receive protection.
§ Mr. Tennyson
was sure, that the hon. member for Sussex would retract the expression in the sense put upon it by the hon. member for Bridport in the present distracted state of the country, and especially of the agricultural interest, the use of such language might have the most injurious consequences. There was quite enough excitement out of doors already, without having a seeming sanction given to it by Gentlemen in that House.
§ Mr. Ruthven
thought the language of the hon. member for Sussex such as he had no reason to be ashamed of, and such as would excite the grateful feelings of his constituents. He went further than the hon. Member, for he said, that the agricultural and manufacturing interests, both must, should, and would have protection, for language of that kind the people had a right to address to their Representatives, and their Representatives to address to the House. He was glad, therefore, that the hon. member for Sussex had spoken in so bold, manly, and firm a tone. With regard to the Corn-laws, he must say, that the averages, which form their distinguishing feature, are most injudicious and inconvenient. The agricultural interest had a right to fair protection, but that would be best afforded by a regular equal duty, not liable to be altered by the machinations of the corn-market. There was no doubt that the alteration in the currency had had a great influence on the present condition of the country, and if means were not taken to enable the industrious classes to pay the taxes, the taxes must be reduced. He agreed in what had been said respecting the necessity of doing away with the great sinecures and extravagant exactions that were made to support them. The Returns of such matters, including pensions, on the Table, were very defective, and the omissions ought to be supplied. When the people saw noblemen putting, as appeared by that list, 15,000l. a year into their pockets, they thought, with justice, that it was full time inquiry should be made what they had done to earn so much. The really efficient public officers ought to be liberally and generously paid, as became a great nation, but all sinecures, not granted for public service, he would have cut down without listening to the cry about vested interests. Vested interests, indeed! the vested interests of the people had been shamefully encroached upon; they had been plundered by the creation of 1329 sinecure places. He meant to include among them the chief clerkship of the Court of King's Bench, held by a nobleman of the land, who, by being clerk to a Court, put 10,000l. a-year into his pocket. What was that for? He desired to see the dignity and splendor of the aristocracy maintained, but not at the expense of the hard-earned money of the people. If that nobleman had done this country any service, or was doing it any service, he would make no objection; but he put this sum into his pocket, and employed a clerk to do his duty. There was also the hon. member for Edinburgh—that he was not in the House was no fault of his (Mr. Ruthven's).
Sir Robert Inglis
rose to Order. He put it to the Speaker whether the motion before the House admitted such a debate.
§ The Speaker
said, when a petition was on the Table, complaining of distress, it was very difficult to say what hon. Members should not speak of, as occasioning that distress. He could not, therefore, support the hon. Baronet in rising to order.
§ Mr. Ruthven
in continuation. He would attend with deference to the suggestion of any Member of that House, and to the decision of the Chair, with the greatest respect and gratitude. At the same time he must say, as he was not touching upon any thing relating to the Church, or Jewish Emancipation, that he did not expect that the hon. Baronet at least would have held him to be out of order. If it could be said that sinecure places did not affect the distress of the people, he was indeed out of order. He was speaking of the hon. member for Edinburgh, who complained the other night, that rumours were abroad of his receiving 7,000l. a year from the country, whereas it was only 5,000l. a year, and of that he had had the great misfortune to lose 400l. on one occasion, and 300l. on another, by the negligence of clerks. He had not much to complain of; but the Representatives of the people had a right to complain of his receiving such a sum. To honourable and distinguished men, who had served their country, he grudged not the rewards they enjoyed, but he did grudge those sinecure pensions to men who had never served their country, and who, most probably, never would do anything to serve it. He felt that a great deal was due to the public on this account; but he hoped that all hon. Members who 1330 agreed with him on this subject, would have a little patience, and not annoy Ministers till they had had time to bring forward their measures of retrenchment, for which he was disposed to give them every credit.
§ Lord Nugent
observed, that there were few subjects on which so much time was misspent as in deprecating further discussion. When hon. Gentlemen, one after another, deprecated discussion, there was a reasonable ground to be alarmed at the probable length to which it would run. On the presentation of these petitions the House had discussed, at length, the principles of free-trade, the benefits of spade-husbandry, the Poor-laws, and, at length, the abuses of sinecure pensions; while the petition, on which all those questions had been raised, related to the abolition of the duties on malt. He should not have risen, had not the hon. member for Lincoln, and the hon. Member who last spoke, not much in the spirit or feeling of the hon. member for Sussex, got up to reiterate, confirm, and proclaim a phrase that hastily escaped from him, with reference to what he conceived to be the claims of the agriculturist. What the hon. member for Sussex said, unguardedly, they had deliberately proclaimed and enforced. He wished those hon. Gentlemen to consider to what practical, useful end, such language could contribute,—to what could it tend, but to excite the poorer classes? Were there no other interests vested in land besides those of the land-owners? was the occupier of the soil, and was the labourer not to be considered? God forbid that we should ever see the time when the peasantry should be encouraged to say, that they must and would have protection! That sort of language had tended to excite the present disturbances; and he must on all occasions deprecate its use in the strongest manner.
§ Mr. W. Duncombe
also deprecated the use of any language in the House calculated to excite the labouring population, and especially the agricultural labouring population, in these times of difficulty; but he had no hesitation in stating, that the construction put upon the words of the hon. member for Sussex was perfectly unwarrantable. The hon. Member, in presenting a petition from his constituents, in the ardour of his feelings for their welfare and best interests, stated to the House that, in his opinion, the landed interest 1331 must and would be protected. What was the fair parliamentary construction of that phrase? In his mind, and he believed, in every candid and dispassionate mind, it was, that, in the opinion of the hon. Member, it was necessary for the safety of the country, for its best interests, that the agriculturist should be protected; meaning by the landed interest, not the landlord, alone, but the peasantry, and all depending on the cultivation of the soil. That was his conviction of the true construction of the words of the hon. member for Sussex; and he repeated, that they had been misconstrued in a manner which their plain common sense meaning did not Warrant. The hon. member for St. Ives commenced by saying, that he deprecated the introduction of the subject of spade-husbandry into discussion; but he concluded by saying, that he yielded to no man in his conviction of its advantages, especially as he had seen them in foreign countries. Further, Sir, the hon. Member said, "that these were subjects of great and extreme importance; that the subject of the Corn-laws was of extreme importance, but," said he, "they are not subjects to be taken up in this way, but are for the consideration and settlement of the executive Government alone." [Mr. Long Wellesley denied that he meant or said, that the House was not to discuss such questions.] He thought discussions of that nature, in the present times, most interesting and important to the country; and he could not concur with the hon. member for Blechingly, and others, who blamed and remonstrated with the hon. member for Sussex for the use of such words.
§ Mr. Saville Lumley
said, it would be with regret that he should see the expressions of the hon. member for Sussex go forth to the public unrefracted, as at the present moment they might produce effects much to be lamented. He did not mean to follow the hon. member for London through all the topics of his speech, but he seemed to consider the principal cause of the distresses of the country was low prices. But he begged to say, in contradiction to that, that it was his firm persuasion, that one of the principal causes of that distress was the high price of the necessaries of life.
§ Mr. Courtenay
thought, that the hon. member for Sussex attached no improper meaning to the words he used; but he would suggest to him, that his best course would be, to explain distinctly to the 1332 House the measures he proposed for the protection of the landed interest. [Mr. Curteis—Not to night.] He trusted, at any rate, that the hon. Member would not continue to deal in generals, but bring something specific forward for the benefit of the agricultural interest. The same advice might be tendered to the worthy Alderman with respect to the manufacturers, and to the hon. speaker opposite, who spoke of sinecures. There was not a man on the list to which he had alluded, who did not wish to have it fully discussed; and he trusted that any Gentleman who thought that any pension was too large would make a specific motion on the point, and not mislead the public by speaking in general terms. The hon. Member acknowledged that he would be out of order, if the people did not suffer from the two particular sinecures to which he was then alluding. Now, it so happened, that those sinecures were not paid by the people, but by the suitors of the Court, and to strike them off would not reduce the taxes of the country.
§ Petitions read.
§ Mr. Curteis
said,—in moving that they he upon the Table, he should not attempt to answer separately all the Gentlemen who had addressed him; but he begged to be understood as not having stated anything with respect to labourers in Sussex, that was not correct. There was no doubt great distress in different parts of the country; and many farmers paid lower wages than those he had stated; so that both the hon. member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Slaney) and he might be correct. With regard to what was said by the hon. member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton), he begged to state, most distinctly, to all present, that he did not think that any one could imagine that he was countenancing anything like an appeal to force, or anything but fair petition and just argument. With reference to the words must, should, and would, his opinion was, that the agricultural interest must be attended to, or the country would be ruined; that it should be attended to, would depend upon the exertions of the representatives of the agriculturists in that House; and that it would be attended to, if the House yielded its attention to a just cause.
§ The Petitions laid on the Table.