HC Deb 09 March 1842 vol 61 cc304-405
Sir R. peel

having moved, that the Order of the Day for the Second Reading of this Bill be read,

Lord J. Russell

said, he observed there was on the orders a bill (the Railways Bill) which had precedence of the Corn Bill. He hoped it was not intended to make any alteration in the usual regulation with regard to Wednesdays.

Sir R. Peel

had said, a few nights since, that he did not intend to interfere with the days usually appropriated by the House to those hon. Members who undertook the ungrateful task of legislation. To-day, however, there being nothing on the paper, he had thought it better to bring forward this measure with a view of advancing its progress. Next Wednesday, he was not likely to be so fortunate as to have an opportunity of appropriating the sitting to Government business, but he might say, once for all, that he did not intend to interfere with the days which custom had left open to the notices of hon. Members generally.

The Order of the Day was then read.

On the motion that the bill be read a second time,

Mr. Pakinglon

presented a petition from farmers in Worcester against the bill.

Viscount Ebrington

said, he was aware that it might be considered useless to propose any amendment to that measure in opposition to the Government, because it was said the whole was undoubtedly an improvement upon the existing Corn-law, and therefore it would be right to accept it, some said as an instalment, others as a permanent settlement of the question. But he thought that when the question was about to be settled, it should be settled upon some sound basis; it should be settled so as to relieve the embarrassed state of trade, and, if possible, the distress which prevailed throughout the country. It appeared to him that a fixed duty should be imposed upon foreign corn, if any duty at all was imposed. A fixed duty was certainly best for trade, and therefore would tend to promote an interchange of commodities, and thereby prevent bullion being sent out to purchase corn. A regular trade would also promote the interest of the consumer, and the profits of merchants would then be kept down by fair competition. If there was a moderate fixed duty, the agriculturists would be able to tell when foreign rivals could compete with them, and when they could not. He knew that a large body were opposed to any duty, but he thought that even they would agree with him that if there was to be any duty at all, a fixed duty was by far the best. Her Majesty's late Government had brought forward a measure for a fixed duty on those grounds, but upon what ground the present measure was introduced he could not say. It could not be introduced for the purpose of checking extensive frauds, because the right hon. Baronet had said that no frauds had been committed, and it was not introduced to lower the price of corn, because the right hon. Baronet had said that the price was not too high at the present moment. It appeared to him that absolute independence of other countries was a proposition the carrying out of which would be out of the question. The right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, in introducing his bill, had recommended it as a measure likely to promote the interests of the country, by preventing those fluctuations in the currency which produced such disastrous effects upon the trade and commerce of the country. But the right hon. Baronet had not stated the manner in which the currency was affected by the present system, and he believed that if the one system produced evils of this nature, they would also flow from the provisions of the other. If one measure was unsound in principle, the other was equally so; the difference between them lay merely in detail. As to the argument that a fixed duty could not be maintained when prices reached a great height, he would admit that there might be circumstances under which he thought that not only should import duties be given up, but that a bounty should be actually bestowed upon the importer to save the people from starving. But to bring this about, a war must be raging more tremendous than that which we waged with Napoleon, for during that, under a practically fixed duty, we obtained corn from France; and the sea must be closed to our ships, or else, which it was almost impious to think of, the harvest must, in contradiction with the bountiful course of Providence, simultaneously fail all over the world. This was possible, and only just possible, but he did not think that it was necessary to make any provision for such an emergency in legislating on this subject, and therein differed from his noble Friend near him. His noble Friend said, that the duty on corn ought to be calculated to give a protection to agriculturists in exact proportion to the amount of the burdens leviable exclusively upon land, and he did not believe he was justified in imposing any higher duties on food than were sufficient to accomplish this purpose. His other noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston) wished to see a duty levied on corn as it was or ought to be on all other imports, for the sake of revenue only; and with reference to this question, it should be remembered, that the distinction between necessaries and comforts of life is purely artificial, and that if corn is to be exempted from tax merely because it is an article in general consumption, none could be maintained on sugar and the other articles of the same nature, which, being used by the great body of the people, were those which contributed most to the revenue. He was not unaware of the arguments in favour of direct instead of indirect taxation; but without entering into the merits of the question, he would only remark that it involved a fundamental change in our whole financial system. He could see no grounds for introducing the proposed in preference to the existing sliding scale. The evils of both were of the same nature. The effect of every sliding scale, containing what amounts to a prohibitory duty, was deeply injurious to commerce, and in the end prejudicial to the agriculturist, by inducing in him an over degree of confidence in being continually supported by such monopolising enactments, and leading him to extend his cultivation, and enter into a ruinous competition with his brother farmers. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, had stated that the intention of the rests in the scale was to moderate the fluctuations which might otherwise be occasioned by a rapid descent in prices. He had stated that the object was to steady the market at the times when the prices showed that it was in a critical state. Now, if a critical state of the market meant anything, it meant a state when large importation either succeeded to trifling importation, or suddenly and rapidly diminished. Tried by this test, the rests such as they were, appeared to be misplaced. By the returns furnished by the right hon. Gentleman's department, it appeared that at 52s., 53s., and 54s., the importation of wheat had continued uniformly small, while at about 58s. a considerable and sudden increase in the amount was perceivable; the same was true of the prices at which rests were placed in the scales for barley and oats. It was clear, therefore, that by the right hon. Vice-President's own rule, according to his own shewing, the rests were misplaced, or rather placed at random. He (Viscount Ebrington) begged to decline any participation in these views of the right hon. Gentleman, he did not see why any particular shilling of the price indicated a more critical state of the market than another; he was aware that the suddenly increasing import of Corn at 58s. was to be attributed to other causes, but he was anxious to demonstrate to the House, that by their own account the Government had no intelligible reason for placing the rests where they were. He did not object to them, he only wished they extended from one end of the scale to the other; but it should not be forgotten, that when the prices reached a particular part of the rest, when they got far forward on the landing-place of their staircase, in reality their effect was, to encourage speculation, for if the speculator succeeded in his operation he diminished the amount of duty, while if he failed he did not increase it. With regard to the new method of taking the averages, he thought that its effect would be to diminish the nominal price, and the House would remember that if such were the case, the income of the clergy would suffer a reduction for the benefit of the landowner. All classes were displeased with this plan. The farmers were alarmed, the millers complaining, the manufacturers anything but contented, and the people showed their feelings by burning the right hon. Baronet in effigy. All were adverse to the right hon. Baronet's plan, but he no doubt repeated, with the satirist—populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo, ipse domi, at the Treasury, he only wished in the present state of the Exchequer, he could add, simul ac nummos contemplor in arcâ. He felt it his duty to move that the bill be read a second time that day six months.

Colonel T. Wood

wished to see the subject before the House, settled on the soundest principles. The difficulty was, however, to determine what these princi- ples were; and he did think, that with regard to the long debates which had taken place upon the subject, the effect had been to make these principles more obscure than ever. What were the sound principles in question? Were they those of the noble Lord opposite? Were they those of some low indefinite fixed duty, of which the House had as yet heard nothing, or were they the principles of total repeal advocated by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton? Although it was desirable to approach as near as possible in legislating upon this subject to abstract theory, yet it was utterly impossible completely to arrive at that point, and they must, therefore, take the mea sure which might appear to be most practicable for adoption; that measure, he believed, to be the bill now offered to the House by her Majesty's Government. When that measure was introduced to the House, he certainly did feel somewhat disappointed. He should have wished to have seen a measure less prohibitory in its nature. But he confessed that subsequent examination of the measure, and of the grounds on which it was founded, had induced him to form a more favourable opinion of the measure than that which he had at first entertained. He had had conversation with persons engaged in the corn trade, which had led him to believe, that under the proposed measure, and in ordinary seasons, a considerable trade in corn could be carried on, and, in seasons of dearth, that it would provide a supply for the wants of the country. This view of the subject was confirmed by the speech which had been addressed to the House by the hon. Member for Coventry, and other hon. Members practically conversant with the details of the corn trade. Under ordinary circumstances a consider able quantity of corn could be imported at 56s., with 16s. duty at a profit to the importer of 3s. or 4s., and when the prices rose, large importations, which until then would have been held back, would be poured in, flooding the market, at a duty of about 6s., thereby preventing those unfortunate advancements in the price of food under which the people had too often been suffering, diminishing the inconvenience which had been felt in the currency of the country, and affording a larger supply for the wants of the people. If they could effect this, he thought they had reason to feel grateful for the propo- sition of the Government. Taunts had been thrown out against hon. Members on his side of the House for having, as it was alleged, deserted the defence of that amount of protection which they had once thought necessary for the safety of the agriculturists. Their taunts were, as he believed, wholly unfounded. He took the measure of the right hon. Gentleman as a good omen of the success, which would attend the future measures of the Administration. He trusted, that this bill would be received by the country as a remedy for the grievances which might exist. He was sure the public gave the right hon. Gentleman credit for being instigated by nothing but a love of justice; and that if ever the stability of his Government were endangered, they would rally round one who had inscribed his name high in the annals of his country.

Captain Vivian

Though the opposition with which he sat constituted a far less number than the Ministerialists, still the people of the country coincided with their views on this question, because the late Government was opposed to a law not framed for the benefit of the people, but solely for the advantage of a few. He had listened to the speeches of the hon. Gentlemen, and he understood them to attribute the evils of the country to overproduction and improvement in machinery. Now, admitting those circumstances to be the cause of the evil, he thought the best way of remedying it, would be to increase our trade, and to extend our manufactures, instead of shutting them gradually out of every market. The noble Member for London, had well illustrated that the present bill would shut us out of the important markets—the American. He trusted that the country would in time be brought to see the proposition of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) in its true light, as that which would most conduce to the permanent interest and happiness of the people.

Mr. Blackstone

wished to state the reasons which should induce him to give his support to the amendment of the noble Lord opposite. This was the first time he had voted against the measure of the Government. He had hitherto opposed all the motions on the other side of the House, but he could not, in conscience, oppose the present motion. He was not ashamed to say, that he had been returned to that Parliament, because he favoured measures of protection to the British farmer. He might be considered presumptuous in taking that course, but other hon. Members for agricultural counties had expressed great alarm at the measure of the right hon. Baronet, and he felt the same alarm. He felt quite satisfied, that he should be justified in the eyes of his constituents in giving his opposition to it. He had never been convinced, that this measure would lead to the amelioration of the present distress. If he had, he should have strained a point in order to give it his support. He had taken considerable pains to ascertain the wishes of the agricultural community, and they uniformly said, that they saw no reason for proposing the present measure, except with a view of meeting the distresses of the country. It had not conciliated the opposition, and all he could see who Were favourable to the bill were 510 individuals, who had presented five petitions in favour of it. The new bill having met with no support whatever from the manufacturers, he felt bound to see, before he made any alteration in the old law, whether the new one was a good and wholesome remedy for the evils which were alleged to exist. It was admitted that the old Corn-law, which was to keep corn at 63s., admitted it on an average at 57s. Now, if the present bill were found to give a price 6s. or 7s. less than the intended average, it would be viewed with the greatest dismay by the agriculturists. The result of corn being 60s. a quarter must be ruinous, not to the landlord so much as to the labourer; for, instead of wages being 60,000,000l. a year, they must be speedily reduced by 12,000,000l. He should conclude with referring the report of the agricultural committee, of which the right hon. Member for Dorchester was chairman. It was to this effect—that measures which had been in operation for years should not be lightly abandoned; that to retreat was occasionally more dangerous than to advance, and that the ameliorations of the law respecting corn might be more safely left to the cautious forbearance, than to the active interposition of Parliament. Under such circumstances, he found it is painful duty to vote for the amendment.

Mr. Buck

contended, that the effect of the present system had been to keep prices moderate, and with less variation than in almost any other country in the world. The consumer had never less cause of com- plaint, for millions of quarters of foreign wheat had been introduced at the lowest possible amount of duty. Foreigners, however, had not in this instance acted upon the reciprocity system, for notwithstanding such large importations of this produce, they continued to prefer the gold to the manufactures of this country. The noble Lord, the Member for North Lincolnshire, (Lord Worsley), had taunted county Members on that (the Ministerial) side of the House with forfeiting their professions and pledges on the hustings when they came forward to support the principle of this bill. Undoubtedly, he and a considerable number of his constituents, would have been as well pleased as the noble Lord himself, if the right hon. Baronet had gone a little higher with his scale; but, at the same time, he was perfectly satisfied, that he was acting in unison with their feelings, in refusing to be a party to any one act which could by possibility weaken a Government in whom they reposed the most perfect confidence, and hazard the accession of another whose principles they knew were inimical to the national interests. He could not help thinking that the conduct of the noble Lord was rather more inconsistent in having supported an Administration that brought forward a measure which, if carried, would have annihilated native agriculture, and thrown those out of employment whose existence depended on the cultivation of the soil. He believed it was a sound maxim to provide as far as possible by the encouragement of British agriculture for the subsistence of our own population. That principle had been laid down and admirably expressed by the President of the United States about two years ago, who said with reference to native agriculture, No means of individual comfort is more certain, and no source of national prosperity is so sure. Nothing can compensate a people for a dependence upon others for the bread they eat." Such had been the prevailing sentiments of every Government of this country up to 1841; and whether they perused the speeches of Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Canning, or many other enlightened individuals who had adorned this country, such invariably would they find had been their opinion. If, however, the present Government were to follow the course prescribed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, they would bring the country into a state of deep distress.

Viscount Howick

said, until I heard the speeches of the two hon. Gentlemen who have just sat down, I had thought that the existing Corn-law of 1828 had been universally abandoned; I had believed it to be now acknowledged that that measure has proved an utter failure, that whereas its authors promised us that by adopting it we should secure the country from the difficulties arising from rapid and violent fluctuations in the price of corn, and render it in future steady and moderate, the real effect of the law has been the very reverse of that which was looked for; and since it has been in operation we have had the extremes both of high and of low prices, alternately occasioning the most severe distress, on the one hand to the commercial and manufacturing, and on the other to the agricultural classes. I thought, I say, that this had now been universally admitted, and that the present Corn-law, which but a few months ago had so many ardent, and I must add, such successful defenders upon the hustings, was now universally given up, and was, with the general consent of all parties, to be quietly put upon the shelf, with a noble Duke in the other House, who alone adhered to it. But, Sir, it appears that I was mistaken, and this law, which I had supposed to be so universally given up, has found at last two defenders in the hon. Gentlemen opposite, though I must say it is not very fortunate in its advocates, for the hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Buck) concluded his argument in its favour by saying that he should vote for its repeal; and the other hon. Gentleman (Mr. Black-stone) is the only person, as far as I am aware, who has been chivalrous enough to come forward and declare that he will, at all hazards, maintain it, and support his opinion in its favour by his vote. But though the Corn-law of 1828 has at last found two Gentlemen to speak in its de fence, I will not detain the House by attempting to prove that it has practically failed; I will leave them to discuss its merits with the right hon. Baronet opposite, and with the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Wood) who only just now told us that this law has worked so ill, that it has in the last year proved so injurious to the country that no Government could possibly any longer uphold it. It is enough for me, that the law which has been so long and so obstinately clung to has now been practically abandoned, but I think it is worthy of oar consideration that, although the right hon. Baronet and his Colleagues have taken a course which shows that they are aware of the evils which have resulted from the existing law, they still, in the change which they have recommended, adhere, with unaccountable pertinacity, to the policy upon which that law is founded;—at the very moment when, by proposing its repeal, they most distinctly recognise the practical failure of the act now in force, with strange inconsistency, they call upon us to adopt another measure proceeding upon the selfsame principle. Before I proceed further, let me say that I am most anxious to avoid treating this as a party question. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Colonel Wood) seemed to think that the object of this side of the House is to institute a comparison unfavourable to the present Government between their conduct with reference to this subject and that of their predecessors: Sir, I can assure him that I have no such wish; indeed, I think it only right to state, that though I could not but approve of the principle of the measure contemplated by the late Government, since it was that for which I have always contended, my approbation did not extend to the time and the manner in which their intention of bringing forward that measure was announced; and, on the other hand, though I am by no means satisfied with the change proposed by the right hon. Baronet opposite, I am bound to admit that it has been brought forward in a manner befitting its importance, and which shows a serious intention on the part of the Government that it should pass into a law. I have also no hesitation in saying that, in my opinion, the change proposed will be an important improvement upon the law as it at present stands; it will be an improvement, because it will considerably lower the duties now payable upon the importation of corn, and diminish the severity of the existing restrictions upon trade; in itself, therefore, as a mitigation of the evils of the present law, the change will be valuable, but in my eyes it is of still greater value as the first step towards a more effectual and complete reform of the system of our Corn laws. I am persuaded that this repeal of the act of 1828, by those who have hitherto so resolutely defended it, will prove the commencement of a progress towards a better and a wiser system, which nothing on earth will hereafter have power to arrest. Sir, I admit that the measure of the right hon. Baronet will be an improvement upon the existing law; but the mistake into which it seems to me that he has fallen, is that of adhering to the faulty principle of the Act he proposes to abrogate. That this act has, in his judgment, practically failed is clear, both from his recommending its repeal, and from the reasons which he has assigned for doing so, but I think these reasons ought to have led him to go farther, and I differ from him in this, that 1 think the failure of the act of 1828 attributable not to any faults in its details which can be corrected by the bill now before us, but to an error in the principle which it was founded, and in the object which it was intended to accomplish. The object of the act of 1828 was to maintain a certain price for corn, and the increase of the duty as the price fell, and the diminution of the duty as the price rose, were intended and expected to prevent the rise or the fall from going beyond the limits within which, in the opinion of the framers of the measure, it was desirable that they should be confined. I say, sir, that in 1828 it was avowed by those who introduced and supported the act still in force that this was the object which it was intended to accomplish; indeed, it would not be easy to point out what other it could have. But this was not an object which Parliament ought to have aimed at accomplishing; Parliament steps out of its proper province when it legislates with the view of deciding what is to be the price of food or of any other article. It is not possible—and if it were possible, it would not be desirable—that the price of any commodities—least of all of corn, should be decided by Parliament; and to endeavour, by the machinery of an act of Parliament, to prevent those fluctuations in the price of corn which must arise from the variety of the sea sons, is an attempt as futile, as if it could possibly succeed, it would be mischievous. A rise of price when the pro duce of the harvest is deficient, is the means by which economy of consumption in proportion to the diminished supply is enforced upon the community, and by which, at the same time, the farmer is compensated for the diminished amount of produce that he has to sell, and is thus enabled to continue the cultivation of the land. On the other hand, the fall of price in abundant years is the means by which the blessing of plenty is extended to all classes. Any attempt, therefore, by legislative enactments, to enforce an unnatural equality of prices, can do nothing but harm. The only way in which fluctuations of price, arising from the variety of the seasons, can advantageously be diminished is, by the natural and unchecked operation of trade. The trader, if left to himself, would purchase in cheap years, and thus check the fall of prices, which must otherwise result from an unusually abundant supply, while, at the same time, he would accumulate a stock which would be brought into the market with advantage to all classes in less abundant seasons; and, in like manner, he would import from foreign countries a greater or a less supply of corn, according to what he believed to be our own wants, taking care, for his own sake, that the supply should be sufficient, and yet not redundant. This would be the natural state of things, if the law did not interfere with it; and experience has shown that the natural system, when allowed to do so, works with a regularity and beauty which it is impossible sufficiently to admire. In the whole order of creation there is nothing more marvellous or more striking than the manner in which, by the combined operation of a number of individuals, none of whom, probably, bestows a thought upon the public good—each seeking to promote only his own private and individual in terest—the supply of food to a great community is regulated. The manner in which, without waste, without interruption, without irregularity, each individual of a large nation is supplied with a proper portion of food, in proportion to the sup ply—the price varying in such a manner as to enable the production to be continued, and at the same time without undue pressure on the consumer—the manner in which all these things take place without interference on the part of any public authority, by the mere agency of a set of traders, as unconscious as the wheels of some vast machine of the result of their combined operations, is indeed wonderful; and the more one considers this beautiful mechanism of society, the more must one be convinced that it is the appointment of unerring wisdom, and infinite benevolence. Yet it is with this system that man presumes, by the clumsy contrivances of legislation, to interfere; and not satisfied with the order' of society appointed by Providence, and with the means which Providence has established for the regulation of the supply of food, he must attempt to correct and improve what Providence has established. It is really quite extraordinary to observe how slow we are to learn the folly and presumption of such interference. Within the memory of many now alive, the laws passed by our ancestors against forestalling and regrating have been enforced, and practices have been solemnly denounced from the seat of justice as mischievous and injurious, which every man of ordinary education is now convinced to be not only innocent, but of the greatest advantage to society. We now understand the folly of such interference, so far as the internal trade of the country is concerned; freedom is established in that branch of commerce; but with respect to our foreign trade we still obstinately cling to restrictions and contrivances framed in the selfsame spirit, and characterized by like folly and presumption with those which we have so properly abandoned. What is the principle of a varying scale of duties? It proceeds on the assumption that the natural inducements to persons engaged in trade to increase importation with scarcity and diminish it with abundance are insufficient? It is perfectly clear that if we had a fixed duty, or no duty at all on corn, in either of these cases the self-interest of the merchant would induce him to increase or diminish the supply according to what he had reason to believe would be the demand for the article. But the presumption on which the act of 1828 is founded, and upon which the bill now before the House also proceeds, is that this natural inducement is not sufficient, and that it is necessary for Parliament to step in and tell the merchant that in times of deficiency he shall not only have the increase of price naturally arising from that circumstance, but two or three shillings a quarter arising from the alteration of duties. And what has been the result of this attempt to correct what we have rashly concluded to be a deficiency in the arrangements of Providence, and to render more certain the operations of trade in maintaining an equality of prices? Why, instead of accomplishing our object we have deranged and disorganized the whole system of trade, and instead of obtaining that unnatural steadiness of prices at which we have aimed, we have on the contrary most injuriously increased those fluctuations of price which must take place and have deprived the country of the advantage of that natural correction of either too high or too low prices which trade, if left to itself, would have afforded us. Such, Sir, I contend, has been the operation of the existing law; and as I have already observed, the measure now before the House still retains the same faulty principle, although the very fact that it has been brought forward, and the nature of the measure itself clearly prove that her Majesty's Government are aware that the act they propose to repeal has worked in the manner I have endeavoured to describe. What other interpretation can be put upon the reasons assigned for diminishing the rapidity with which as compared with the old law the rates of duty are now to vary, and for the very significant rests which the right hon. Baronet has introduced into his scale? We have been told, that the object of these changes is to induce the importer not to look forward to an increase of profit from a further reduction of duty, but to bring his corn into the market when it is wanted. The right hon. Baronet proposes, that when the price of corn is between 52s. and 55s., the duty should be continued at 18s., in order that the importer may not look to a further rise in price, but at once bring his corn into the market. This is a perfectly valid argument. I entirely concur with the right hon. Baronet in the propriety of his decision upon that point; but if this is a good reason for keeping the duty uniform for the interval between 52s. and 55s., I wish to know why it is not equally good for the interval between 52s. and 60s. If the right hon. Baronet has made these rests in order to avoid giving the importer an unnatural motive for holding back his corn when a supply-is wanted—if the rests are introduced in order to restore, to a certain extent, trade to a natural state, and to place the trader under the influence of motives which would operate upon him were Parliament not to interfere at all—if the principle is good to the extent of 3s., why is it not good to a still greater extent? It unfortunately has not been in my power to hear the debates on the earlier stages of the bill, but in reading the reports of them I have seen no reason assigned by the right hon. Baronet for going so far and no farther towards the adoption of a sounder and wiser system — for going half way down the hill, and then perversely stopping without proceeding to the bottom. I should like to hear from the right hon. Baronet why the principle on which he has acted, if good, is not carried out to its just and legitimate conclusions? As far as I can understand the reasons assigned for the course proposed, they are these; it is said, that agriculture requires protection, but that the duties imposed with this view upon the main article of food, cannot be maintained when the price rises to a certain amount; and that, as a compensation to the farmer for the loss of the protection to which he is fairly entitled in times of scarcity, you will impose higher duties than would otherwise be advisable on foreign corn in times of plenty. This, as I understand it, is the argument on the other side. Before 1 proceed to consider it, I must in the first place declare, that for one I protest against the use of the word "protection" in this sense; it is an absurdity unsuited to the age in which we live. Protection to agriculture and other branches of industry? The only protection to which, in my mind, they are entitled, or which they require, is that which secures to every man the enjoyment of the fruits of his own honest industry—which guards him against being deprived by others, directly or indirectly, of the produce of his labour. This is the only protection which I will ever acknowledge to be due to agriculture or any other branch of national industry, and it is an abuse of language, when under the name of protection, you give to one particular class of the community the power of saying to their fellow subjects—" You shall buy those things which we produce, though they may be dearer or worse than similar articles which you could purchase elsewhere, you shall not be at liberty to make the most of your industry, and the produce of your labou.r—you shall not be at liberty to exchange that which you produce in the manner most advantageous to you." I for one think, that in this House it has been too long the fashion, even when our measures have been in the right direction, to want the courage plainly and distinctly to maintain the principles of free-trade, and to repudiate the doctrine of what is called "protection;" but I am persuaded the time is now come; and I am rejoiced to find that my noble Friend, the Member for Tiverton, has acted upon the same conviction, when these principles ought to be maintained boldly and without reserve. For my own part I have never held language different from that which I hold now,—inamely, that the only legislative protection that British industry requires is, to be secured in the enjoyment of the fruits of its labour. Such a protection has nothing in common with the principle of allowing one class of British subjects to impose a heavy tax upon all other classes. But when I say this, I think it right to guard myself against its being supposed that I aim at the total repeal of all duties on corn. Such a measure is not that which it has ever been my opinion that we ought to adopt. I have stated what I think should be the principle of our legislation, but I have never denied that, in adopting this principle, caution is necessary. Looking at the necessity of raising a large public revenue, and looking to the peculiar burdens that weigh upon land, I think it would be upon the whole expedient, that a moderate duty should be imposed upon corn; but then it must, indeed, be a moderate duty, for if the alternative were proposed to me of choosing between the scale fixed by the present bill, and a total repeal of all duties, though I think both objectionable, yet I should not for a moment hesitate to choose total repeal. But to return to the reasons assigned for this measure, which I was considering; I am for the sake of argument, willing to assume, that what is called protection is due to agriculture— that to some extent a restriction should be imposed on the importation of foreign corn; but if so, I see no reason why that protection should not be equally due in years of insufficient harvests, when the farmer has already been a sufferer by the partial failure of the produce of his land. If 13s. is a sufficient protection when wheat is at an average price of 60s., why should that protection fall to 1s. when the farmer is visited with an insufficient harvest, or why should a duty of 20s. be necessary when wheat is at 50s. a quarter. Even upon your own principle of protection, I cannot understand the justice of this arrangement. I am aware, that it has been urged as an argument in favour of the principle of lowering the duty as the price of corn rises—an argument which I am sorry has received some countenance from my noble Friend pear me (Lord J. Russell), I know, I say, that it has been urged, that it would be impossible to maintain the duty when the price of corn rises to any unusual height. This may be a plausible argument, but before I admit its force, it must be shown to me that the fall in the duty, as the averages rise, is attended by any real benefit to the consumer. I believe, the effect of a remission of duty in this manner, so far as regards relief to the consumer, to be altogether nugatory and delusive. I have never heard, that any tax is found fault with because it is productive to the Exchequer, it is only to the burden it imposes upon the consumer, that an objection can be made, and if the burden must be borne, there would be no sense in rejecting the advantage of the income it may produce. Now, Sir, I contend that although the revenue is certainly sacrificed by the fall of the duty, as the price of corn rises, experience has shown that this reduction is attended by no benefit to the consumer. The fall of duty, instead of diminishing the price charged to the consumer, is more than counterbalanced by the increased expenses on importation, and the rise of price in all the markets within the immediate reach of our merchants, occasioned by our system of varying duties, which makes it necessary whenever the averages reach a certain point, to introduce a supply in the shortest possible time, without resorting to distant markets, or waiting to make the most economical arrangements for the importation of corn from those which are nearer, lest time should be given for the averages again to fall, and the duty consequently to rise. I wish to avoid, as much as I can, going over the same ground which has been already travelled over during these debates, and I will not, therefore, attempt to show more in detail, how completely the supposed benefit to the consumer from the reduction of the duty, as the averages rise, is neutralised by the increased cost of obtaining supplies when wanted, in consequence of the uncertainty as to the time for which the low rates of duty may be chargeable, but in considering the effect of the scale of diminishing duties upon the interest of the consumer, there is another fact, which is of too much importance to be passed by. The fact to which I advert, is that under operation of our present Corn-law, the stocks of corn in hand at the time of harvest are very materially diminished from what they formerly were. This change is easily accounted for; the effect of our varying duties is to render the trade in corn so full of hazard, to give it so much the character of a gambling speculation, as to have compelled all persons of prudent and steady habits either to abandon it, or to confine their operations to comparatively short periods, thus the trade is crippled and confined, and prevented from performing its proper office of accumulating in plentiful years a stock to meet the deficiency of less abundant harvests. I need not attempt to point out to the House how much more severely the effect of any deficiency in the harvest must be felt now that it is the habit to have little more corn in hand than is required to carry us through the year, than it would be, were it still the practice to have beforehand, at the time of harvest, a supply sufficient for several months. Now, Sir, the fact that there has been such a change in the habit of the country as to the amount of the stock of corn in hand at the time of harvest, rests upon authority which will hardly be disputed. The high authority to which I refer is that of the report of a Committee of this House drawn up by the right hon. Baronet opposite, the Secretary of State for the Home Department. In the report of the Agricultural Committee of 1833, there is this passage:— But the diminished annual growth of wheat cannot be considered apart from the amount of the stock on hand; and the evidence of Mr. Jacob on this subject is no less striking than important, especially since his general view is confirmed by the local experience of occupying farmers throughout England. I will not detain the House by reading the evidence of Mr. Jacob here referred to, but I have no doubt that the right hon. Baronet will admit, that I am correctly giving its substance, when I say, that the statement of Mr. Jacob thus adopted and confirmed by the right hon. Baronet and the Committee over which he presided, was to the effect, that before the passing of the act of 1815, there was usually in the hands of farmers and traders at the time of harvest, a stock of old corn, equal to a six months' consumption; but that since that time, and especially since the Act of 1828, there had seldom been a stock in the country at harvest time, equal to the consumption of one month.* Such *The importance of the fact which I have here mentioned on the authority of Mr. Jacob, being the case, it is not difficult to understand why it is that the fall in the rate of duty as the price rises, is wholly nugatory as a means of relief to the consumer, for the proof that it does so fail to afford relief, I might appeal to all the experience we have had since the passing of the law, but I will not trouble the House by going any farther back than to the last year. In the autumn of last year, corn rose to a frightful price, I mean the corn required for immediate consumption, immediately before harvest. The last harvest, the House may remember, was a late one; not extraordinarily so, but still it was decidedly a late harvest; and so completely had consumption exhausted the stock on hand—so entirely had our granaries been swept out, that there was the greatest difficulty in meeting the demand of the consumer. And here I must beg to observe, that the averages, as published in the Gazette, offer a very insufficient criterion by which to judge of the real price of grain. In the South of England, the season was an exceedingly wet one, a great deal of corn was damaged, and much bad corn was offered for sale at the markets in that part of the country, and, of course, had the effect of depressing apparent prices, as shown by the Gazette, hence before the averages, had risen so as to encourage the entry of foreign corn in the North of England, the real price of good corn for immediate use rose to a frightful height. By a memorandum furnished to me by a gentleman, on whose authority I can place the most perfect reliance, it appears that, on one market day, at Richmond, in Yorkshire, as much as 12s. a bushel, or 96s. a quarter, had been paid, for good wheat; and at Darlington and at New-castle-on-Tyne, about the same time, the price was as high as 84s. a quarter. These were not the prices of fancy parcels chosen for seed, which are often paid for at an extravagant rate, but these prices had been paid for wheat bought bonâ fide for immediate consumption. I know also from farmers, that in the part of Northumberland, where I myself reside, prices, not equal to those I have just mentioned, but still exorbitantly high for that district, were given for wheat. At such prices, the consumption of wheaten bread by the working classes was practically prohibited. confirmed by that of Sir James Graham and the Agricultural Committee, will be more Working men have themselves told me, that at the price corn then bore in Northumberland and Durham, it was impossible for them to consume wheaten bread, and that they had been forced to confine themselves to potatoes, barley, and other substitutes. To show more completely the injurious effect of the system upon the consumer, and how little real advantage he gets from the diminishing scale of duties, it is only necessary to remind the House, that while this state of things existed, at the very time this severe pressure was weighing on the consumer, there were near two millions of quarters of wheat in our warehouses under lock and key, clearly understood, if we consider for a moment the very different effects which a short crop must have upon the country in the opposite cases, of our having habitually a large or a small stock of wheat on hand at the time of harvest. A deficiency of 10 per cent in the harvest is one of no unusual occurrence (the deficiency of the crop of 1838 is reckoned by Mr. Tooke at 25 per cent, or that of an ordinary year); and if we suppose, that in average years we produce enough, or nearly enough wheat for our own consumption, it will, of course, follow, that a crop short to this extent Will create a deficiency equal to the ordinary consumption of one-tenth of a year, or about thirty-six days. In the existing state of the corn trade, which leaves in the country little more wheat than is absolutely required to carry us over from one harvest to another, the whole of this deficiency must be met by importation and by increased economy of consumption enforced by a rise of price. But such efforts are made by persons of all ranks to keep up their accustomed consumption of food, that a forced diminution of it to any large amount, can only be brought about by a very considerable rise in the price of wheat, occasioning, of course, great distress to the poorer classes. On the other hand, if the deficiency is to be met by importation, reckoning the annual consumption of the United Kingdom at 24,000,000 of quarters (the most common by received estimate) the quantity required will be 2,400,000 quarters or more than was entered for home consumption even during last year. It is obviously impossible, that so large an importation can take place without greatly raising the price of corn in the ports of shipment abroad; the sum, therefore, which would have to be paid by this country to foreign nations (including the price of the corn, and the freight, and charges payable to the foreign shipowner) cannot be calculated at a lower amount, than from five to six millions, and it requires no argument to show that we cannot effect so large a payment out of the regular course of trade, as an extraordinary and unexpected demand, without in some way or and certain to be brought into the market within two or three weeks. Now, Sir, when I see that this is the effect of the varying scale of duties, I say, that it is a delusion to talk of the reduction of the duty under that scale when the averages rise as a boon to the consumer, it would be far better for him to pay, even in seasons of scarcity, a moderate fixed duty, because such a duty would not interfere with the natural operations of trade, and trade if left to itself, would guarantee us against the recurrence of such a state of things as I have just described; I am persuaded, that with a fixed duty, prices could not rise as high as under the exist- other occasioning a heavy pressure upon the country, the burden will be as great as if with a harvest equal to our consumption, we were suddenly called upon to raise by taxes a sum of 5,000,000l. to be sent as a subsidy to some foreign power. In point of fact, in the present state of the corn-trade, there is reason to believe, that the whole of my deficiency in the harvest is made up partly by economy of consumption enforced by high prices, and partly by importation. Such must be the effect of a short crop when there is habitually not more corn in the country than is necessary to carry us safely over from one harvest to another; let us next consider what would be the effect of an equal deficiency in the harvest if we were in the habit of having a six months stock beforehand, as Mr. Jacob states to have been the case before 1815. Under such circumstances, a short crop would still, no doubt, occasion a rise of prices, and as a consequence of that rise, economy of consumption, and an increased importation of foreign wheat; but these effects would be produced to comparatively a very small extent; the rise of prices would be checked by the increased inducement it would give to the holders of corn, to bring it into the market, and thus the deficiency would mainly be met by drawing on the stock in hand previously maintained; perhaps four out of the five weeks, consumption, for which I have supposed the crop to be short, would be thus supplied, and we must then have six following years of equally deficient crops before the stock in hand would be exhausted. It is hardly necessary to observe, that it is exceedingly improbable that for so many years following we should have deficient crops, it is much more likely that in some of them we should have abundant harvests, when the stock in hand, under a system of regular trade, would be again replenished, and the purchases made with this view, would be no less a relief to the farmer, than the drafts before made on the stock in hand would have previously been to the consumer. ing law. But grant that such might not prove to be the case, supposing even that some extraordinary combination of circumstances should raise prices to so extravagant a height as to make it necessary in some special emergency to remit the duty, 1 see no reason why Parliament should not interfere for that purpose by some express measure, or how it can be inferred from that admission that we ought to have a permanent law, providing that the duty should always be reduced when the price of corn reached a certain height. In 1800 and 1801, Parliament in its wisdom thought it necessary to offer a bounty on the importation of corn. Whether judiciously or not, is not now the question; but because Parliament then thought such a measure necessary under the pressure of extreme dearth, did any one think that it would have been wise to pass a permanent act, offering a bounty on the importation of corn whenever the price should rise to 120s. a quarter? No one would have made such a proposal; it would have been seen at once that such a law, instead of averting the difficulties of dearth would have produced them by encouraging speculators to hold back their importations whenever the price of corn approached the point at which the bounty wag to be paid, in the hope that the extravagant price might be reached, at which they would be entitled to receive it. In this case, whatever advantage may have been derived from granting the bounty, depended upon its being a special and extraordinary measure, and in like manner it may be admitted that a remission of the duties chargeable on the importation of corn, if granted under special circumstances, might possibly relieve the consumer; but it does not therefore follow that any benefit to him will result from the reduction of these duties under the operation of what is called the sliding-scale. Such a reduction for the reasons I have stated, I must contend to be altogether nugatory, as an advantage to the consumer; but at the same time I am prepared to argue, that it is most injurious to the farmer. It is injurious to the farmer, not because it prevents him from obtaining a high price for his corn when there is a deficiency, but because in very abundant years, this state of the law keeps the trader out of the market and prevents him from stepping in to relieve the British grower by purchasing his surplus, and at the same time making provision against a future deficiency. This is the effect of the existing law, because it holds out a prospect of greater profit from speculating in foreign than in British corn. In the committee of 1836, it was proved by the concurrent testimony of persons of the most opposite opinions, of the advocates as well as the opponents of the existing Corn-law, that under that law there is a tendency to invest the capital employed in the corn-trade, rather in foreign than in British corn. Thus, a most serious injury is inflicted upon the British farmer, and he finds that even the prohibitory duties of cheap years cannot prevent a most ruinous fall in the price of his produce. The right hon. Baronet has now acknowledged that this is true, and that the farmer cannot be guaranteed against very low prices in abundant years. This is now acknowledged, but though the high duties levied when the averages are low, cannot prevent a great fall of price in abundant seasons, they inflict nevertheless a grievous injury on the consumer, not by keeping up the price in times of plenty, but because by their effect he is deprived of the resources which in times of an opposite character, a regular trade would have placed within his reach; they deter merchants from making provision beforehand for an unusual demand, so that when such a demand arises, the means of meeting it are in fact limited to those afforded by the nearest markets where the price is speedily raised, because the competition of countries at a greater distance is practically excluded by the uncertainty of the law. Hence, it appears to me, that this uncertainty is in reality a greater burden upon the community than the imposition of even a heavy duty, which being fixed in its amount, would not interfere with the regular operation of trade. Such, Sir, are the grounds upon which I have long come to the conclusion, that the principle Of the existing Corn-law to which the right hon. Baronet adheres in the bill now before the House is essentially unsound, and I cannot but express the deep regret with which I see that the present Session is likely to pass away without our effecting a more complete improvement in our policy upon this important subject. I am persuaded that this delay in accomplishing a real reform in the system of our Corn-laws (for it is only the post- ponement of a reform which cannot very long be deferred) is pregnant with danger to the best interests of the country. Among the reasons which render it expedient that this question should be settled with the least possible delay one of the strongest, is that afforded by the distress under which the country is now admitted to labour. Unfortunately, there can be no doubt as to either the existence or the severity of this distress; all parties are agreed in admitting it to be intense, and in admiring the patience with which the people have borne their sufferings, a patience which adds, if possible, to their claim upon the House for any relief which it is in our power to afford. The right hon. Baronet in submitting to the House the bill now before us, fairly stated, that he did not recommend the measure as a means of relieving the existing distress. [Sir R. Peel: Not to give immediate relief.] Yes, not as a means of affording immediate relief, and the right hon. Baronet then proceeded to argue that this admission afforded no valid ground for objecting to his proposal, because the existing distress is not, as he contends, attributable to the Corn-law, and could not by any possible change of that law be immediately removed. Sir, it is my most anxious wish not to overstate the argument; I feel it to be a duty which I should be ashamed to neglect, to avoid on a topic of this exciting nature, anything in the shape of exaggeration. I am bound, therefore, to say, that I so far concur with the right hon. Gentleman as to entertain great doubt whether any measure which it is in the power of the House to adopt, would operate as an immediate cure for the distress that now prevails. I also agree with the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that the Corn-laws are certainly not the only, and perhaps not the principal, cause of that distress. So far, then, I at once would say I concur with the right hon. Gentleman. But I am at the same time bound to add, in the same spirit of candour, that it does appear to me, that the distress under which the people are now suffering, although it may have partly or mainly arisen from other causes, has, at least, been considerably aggravated by the existing Corn-law, and I am also persuaded, that of all the measures which it is in the power of the House to adopt, to prevent a recurrence of that distress, and to promote that return to prosperity of which I, in common with the right hon. Baronet, by no means despair, none is so likely to be efficacious as a complete reform of the Corn-laws. I think that this is a conclusion to be deduced as an inference necessarily and irresistibly following from arguments which have been used, and the admissions which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and by others who have adopted similar views, as to the causes of the distress. If I am not mistaken, among the causes of distress that have been enumerated by hon. Gentlemen on the other side were these—bad harvests—fluctuations in the value of the currency, and over speculation and production. Now, I am ready to admit, that these three causes have contributed materially to the distress. With respect to bad harvests, it is impossible but that in every state of society they should, more or less, produce suffering. In a country, indeed, which, like England, has arrived at a high pitch of civilization, the effect does not show itself so clearly as in a nation that is in a ruder and less complicated state of society. Still it is impossible that there can be a considerable diminution in the annual return derived from the capital and labour employed in agriculture without a corresponding amount of privation being in some shape or other imposed on the people. There being less produce, there is, of course, less to be divided, and greater exertions must be made by the people to obtain the supply they want. But if the arguments I have addressed to the House as to the effect of the Corn-law upon the trade in corn are true, it is clear that the sufferings produced by bad harvests must be greatly aggravated by the existing system. So with respect to fluctuations in the value of the currency, if these have been one of the causes of the distress, can it be said, that the Corn-law has had no influence in producing this distress, when it is notorious that its effect in preventing a regular trade, and in producing a sudden demand for bullion to pay for corn has, in the opinion of all who are most competent to form a judgment upon the subject, been a cause of great difficulty and danger to the Bank of England, the principal regulator of our currency. With regard to the last mentioned cause of distress, that upon which, as it appears to me, the greatest stress has been laid by hon. Gentlemen on the other side—namely, over speculation and over production, I presume, when hon. Gentlemen on the other side talk of over-speculation and over-production — all they mean to say is, that there has been over-production in certain particular branches of trade and manufactures. It will never, I suppose, be contended, that the people suffer distress because the country in general has been too industrious, and because too much capital and too much labour have been productively employed—in short, that distress and poverty are the results of the country being too rich. This would be a contradiction in terms, and an absurdity which it never can have been the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to utter. I, therefore, apprehend that I cannot be mistaken in saying, that the correct interpretation of the right hon. Gentleman's argument is, that there has been a misdirection of the productive power of the country, and over-activity in particular branches of trade; not that there has been too much energy, skill, and activity generally. If this is a correct representation of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, I entirely concur with him in his opinion. No doubt, it is perfectly true, that much of the existing distress has arisen from misdirection of capital. But if so, does it follow irresistibly; is it not a strictly logical inference from the fact, that such over-speculation and production have been one of the principal causes of the distress, that the best and indeed the only cure which it is in the power of the House to apply, is, to remove the restrictions on trade, and especially upon the trade in corn, which have forced the capital and industry of the country out of their natural and most productive channels? If misdirection and mistakes in the employment of capital and labour have been the causes of distress, then I would say, guard against the future recurrence of that distress by the abrogation of the laws which have prevented capital and labour from falling into their natural channels, and being applied in the manner which would be most productive. This, I contend, is the legitimate inference from the statements and arguments of the right hon. Baronet. But upon this point there is another observation to which it is material to call the attention of the House. Having admitted, that there has been over-speculation and over-production in the sense in which I have used the words, I wish to appeal to any hon. Gentleman acquainted with the actual state of affairs in the nation at the present moment, and I would ask, whether the misdirection and the errors to which I am adverting are not to be in a great degree accounted for by the extreme difficulty that exists at this time in finding a profitable field for the employment of capital and labour. Is it not notorious, that in every branch of trade there is the most intense competition? Throughout the whole circle—if I might so express it —of industry will be found a race of the severest kind going on among capitalists and among labourers. This fact is shown by many symptoms, and especially by the extraordinary tide of emigration that has been setting out of the country for the last few years. That tendency to emigrate is the clearest possible proof of a deficiency in the field for the employment of capital and labour. I find no fault with emigration. On the contrary, I think, that as far as is practicable, every encouragement should be given to it. But still 1 must assert, that the strength of the tide of emigration does prove the truth of what I have advanced. This emigration is not confined merely to labourers, but consists both of labourers and capitalists. It is instructive to observe what takes place when there is a large emigration of persons from this country. Take the newest colony, New Zealand, for example. A great number of capitalists and labourers proceed to that colony. They consist, I am justified in assuming, of persons who have found it impossible, in consequence of the over-crowded state of this country, to find a profitable field for the investment of their capital and the employment of their labour in England. The moment they arrive in the colony part of the labourers are employed in raising food, and the remainder in providing for the wants of the community in various other ways. At once there is an end to all complaints of deficiency in the means for employment. Nothing is heard but of high wages and high profits; and if there is complaining at all, it is of the want of more capital and more labour. What produces this effect? Is it not the increased field afforded to these people for employing themselves in the production of food? The first step in this circle of increased activity is the increased production of food, and it is by this, that a new field is opened for the exertions of those who had been wasting their time in this country as unwilling idlers. But does it not deserve to be considered whether it might not answer as well and produce the same result, if, instead of forcing a large body of the unemployed manufacturers of Manchester to go to Canada and New Zealand, there to commence farming with which they are unacquainted, they were to be allowed to stay at home to exercise the trade in which they had been brought up, and to exchange the produce of their labour for food wherever they could obtain it? Will any man say, that there is not in America and the northern parts of Europe corn lo be had—not immediately perhaps, but in a little time, when this country had given them an assurance that her market would no longer be precarious? Will any man say, that a supply of coin would not be offered in exchange for the produce of the manufacturing labour of this country, and that without interfering in any degree with any existing trade, and without displacing one pound of capital, or one pair of hands from employment? A new demand would be created for the labour of these persons if they were merely allowed to exchange the produce of their labour with persons who were in a position to supply them with food in return. What, I ask, would be the difference to the country? The result to the landlord, so far as relates to the demand for corn, would be much the same as at present. Whether these persons emigrate, or corn is allowed to be imported for their consumption at home, they equally obtain their supplies from a distance; but if they remain at home, their consumption of butcher's meat would go to increase the demand for the produce of the land of England, and their consumption of all exciseable articles to augment our revenue, their demand for all their articles of consumption would prom6te the activity of various branches of trade, and they would themselves continue to form an integral part of our population, and to increase the strength and wealth of the United Kingdom. This would be the consequence of putting an end to a law which now interferes with that exchange which might otherwise be effected. Sir, 1 have now concluded all the arguments in favour of a change in the law, founded upon a consideration of the general inter- ests of the country, with which I mean to trouble you, but before I sit down I wish to address a few words more particularly to the owners and occupiers of land. As one having a common interest with them— an interest to which, I assure the House, I am not philosophical enough to be by any means indifferent—for, whatever Gentlemen opposite may think, I have no desire to ruin myself and all connected with me—but as one having a common interest with the landowners, J wish to point out the extreme and overwhelming importance to them, above all other classes, of an early and satisfactory settlement of this question. First, let me ask those hon. Gentlemen who have an interest in landed property, whether it is not perfectly clear that the bill which is now about to be passed—for I am, of course, aware that it will pass—is merely a precursor to further alterations? The right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department has, I believe, gone out of his way to disclaim the notion of the present being considered a final measure, and has told the House, as plainly as a gentleman in his position well could, that it is merely a prelude to something more. That it will prove so, that it will speedily be followed by further changes, it seems to me impossible for any man to doubt who will calmly consider the course of events during the last few months, and the present position of affairs. Sir, we know that at the late general election the agricultural party were completely triumphant; they carried all before them, and they have in consequence obtained a Government, in which, as the House had been told by the hon. Member for North Devon, they place the most implicit confidence. Such a Government now holds the reins of office, and with greater real power than has been possessed for some years by any Government. And what has been the result? With all these advantages the victorious agricultural party have abandoned the Corn-law of 1828, which they had hitherto so stoutly maintained, and they have actually, before they have been attacked, struck the flag they had so long nailed to the mast. Why have they done so? Why have they made this surrender in the very hour of victory? Sir, the reason is obvious; it is because, in the midst of their seeming triumph, they have a secret consciousness that the all-powerful tide of public opinion is setting too strongly against the existing Corn-law to make it possible to retain it. The hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, has told us plainly that such is the case, and the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, in introducing the bill now before us, made a statement, which was not indeed quite so plain, but which, when translated out of the conventional language of a Minister of State, amounted to something like the same thing. The right hon Baronet had said, that all his communications with the agriculturists had convinced him that they in general approved of his intention to attempt some modification of the Corn-law. I have no doubt that they do so: I have no doubt they feel that their long-cherished Corn-law can no longer be maintained in its present shape. But will the change now proposed be satisfactory either to the agriculturists themselves, or to any one class of the community? If it is not calculated to give immediate satisfaction, is it founded upon principles so just in themselves, so consistent with truth and sound reason, that the practical working of the measure is likely to reconcile the country to it? I contend that it is not. It is merely a continuance of the same vicious policy that has hitherto prevailed, and in the course of a year or two we shall see the right hon. Baronet, if he should be then at the head of the Government, coming forward and saying that "This Corn-law cannot be maintained—another change must take place. Although I have a majority in the House of Commons, common sense and reason are too strong for me. The law has worked ill, and it becomes my duty to propose a further alteration." Such will be the language which the right hon. Gentleman will be compelled to use. But would it not be preferable to propose an alteration at once that should at least have some chance of being permanent. We ought not to forget how proverbially true it is that the longer a compromise is deferred, the worse are the terms upon which it can be effected, and the progress of the discussion upon this question shows that the rule holds good with regard to it. The right hon. Gentleman has said that even now a fixed duty would not give satisfaction. I admit that to a large number of persons it would not be satisfactory, but I still hope that if it were now adopted, and the duty were sufficiently moderate, it would be found practically to work so well, that in the course of two or three years all agitation on the subject would be forgotten, and the country would acquiesce in the settlement. But if the present state of things is to be continued, if we are still to be exposed to the general inconvenience which has resulted from the practical working of the old Corn-law, and which will equally be felt if the new one proceeds upon the same vicious principle, then, indeed I am persuaded that the struggle will not cease, and that the difficulty of putting an end to it, except by a complete surrender, will continually increase. Already, by deferring a final settlement until the present time, how much worse are the terms that could now be obtained as compared with those which might have been agreed upon some time back. In 1828, few Gentlemen in this House, and but a small proportion of the country, would have objected to grant to agriculturists a fixed duty considerably greater in amount than any which had been lately talked of. Fifteen or even twenty shillings would not have been thought unreasonable. When I at that time voted for a fixed duty, I was in an inconsiderable minority, and I believe no one even proposed any greater change of our policy such as that which has now so large a party in its favour. Compare the state of things now even with that of only last year. I believe that when her Majesty's late Government proposed their measure of an 8s. duty, it would have been acquiesced in by the country. But I do not think it probable that so high a duty would now be accepted as a settlement of the question; I believe that if the House wishes to make a final settlement they will find it necessary to go down to 6s. or 5s. Every day that we defer the adjustment of this most important question, the worse will be the terms we shall obtain. The interval during which it will still remain in our power to obtain a fixed duty at all, will in my opinion be but short; and this, I think, ought to be a weighty consideration with those hon. Gentlemen who entertain a dread, in which I confess, I do not participate of the effects of foreign competition on our agriculture. For my own part, I should have little fear of the effect of a repeal of the Corn-laws beyond the first disturbance created by alarm and excitement I do not, like the hon. Member for Devonshire, believe that British farmers are so inferior to the continental agriculturists in skill, enterprise, and industry, that they would be unable to enter into that race of competition of which our manufacturers are not afraid. I believe, on the contrary, that British farmers could compete with those abroad as successfully, as it is well known that our manufacturers have done. And I am confirmed in this opinion, by finding that it is shared by no small proportion of the agriculturists themselves; there is comparatively little of that panic terror of foreign competition which is elsewhere felt, in those districts of the country where the land is best cultivated. In the county with which I am connected, notwithstanding the defeat I sustained at the last election, I can confidently say that the opinion of the best and ablest agriculturists has been shown in the strongest manner to be in favour of a change of the Corn-laws. I believe the number to be daily increasing of those who are satisfied that they have little to fear even from a greater change than that which was last year proposed by my noble Friend the Member for London; and it is especially notorious, that in Scotland and in the North of England, and, indeed, wherever the land is best cultivated, and where the best informed and most intelligent race of farmers is to be found, that the opinion in favour of a change is becoming more and more general. It is in those parts of the country where the most barbarous and negligent system of agriculture prevails that an extreme apprehension as to the effect of an alteration of the law is chiefly entertained. But to return—I think the danger of having worse terms hereafter, is by no means the strongest argument founded on a consideration of the interest of the land, which may be urged against our allowing any more time to be lost before we attempt a permanent settlement of this question. It is, in my opinion, a much more serious consideration, that whilst this matter continues unadjusted—that whilst a law which is felt to be only provisional is allowed to remain in force, it is vain to look for those improvements in agriculture for which there is so much room. I believe that there is no plan that the Legislature could adopt by which the improvement of agriculture could be so effectually discouraged and retarded as the keeping the laws relating to the importation of corn in a state of doubt and suspense; and in spite of the majority by which, no doubt, the measure now proposed will be carried—in spite of the apparent triumph of those who are the advocates and supporters of the retrictive system which now prevails—the House may rest assured that in the public mind there will remain a persuasion (impossible to be got rid of) that although this law is passed now, it can be passed only provisionally. There is nothing that the Government can do— no declaration that it can make—no majority that it can enlist in favour of the measure, that will satisfy the public that this bill will long continue in force. But, whilst further changes are hanging over the heads of the farmers, I ask how it is possible that the various relations between the tenant and the landlord can be satisfactorily arranged? Who will venture to take a long lease of land with the dread of future and unknown changes in the law relating to the importation of corn? What tenant in a similar state of uncertainty, will venture to make permanent improvements on the land? And when I speak of permanent improvements on the land, I must say, that I think it of the utmost importance, in reference to those improvements, that the Legislature should put an end to a state of the law which has already tended greatly to discourage the system of granting leases. Every one of the slightest experience of agricultural matters in the country must be aware that the practice of granting leases of land has materially diminished since the year 1815. Land is now much more frequently let from year to year than it was in former times, and the system of granting leases to tenants is now only found to prevail in particular districts; formerly it was much more general. This is a change which I think may fairly be attributed in no slight degree to the uncertainty as to the value of land occasioned by our policy with regard to the Corn-laws, and it is a change which I have very high authority for considering to be most injurious. In books not devoted to politics, in the valuable journals of the Agricultural Society of England and of the Highland Society of Scotland, exceedingly able papers have lately appeared, describing the very great and extraordinary improvements accomplished during the lapse of the last half century in the agriculture of Scotland and Northumberland, and among the circumstance which the authors consider to have contributed to bring about this great improve ment, the greatest influence is assigned, and as I believe correctly, to the practice which happily prevails in those parts of the kingdom of granting leases. How is it possible that the land can be effectually improved unless there is given to those who occupy it—to those who have the stimulus of their own interest to act with enterprise, and to lay out their capital with the view to distant returns—the security afforded by a lease. I appeal to any man who has been in the habit of travelling about this kingdom whether, from the state of agriculture in its different districts, he could not at once distinguish those districts where the practice of granting leases is common. Especially, then, as regards the interests of the land, I hold it to be of the utmost importance that the Legislature should come to a speedy settlement of the laws relating to the importation of foreign corn. I conceive, that it would be the greatest boon that could be conferred on those interests that this question should no longer be left in a state of doubt and agitation. I feel, that in addressing the House at so much length, I have perhaps exceeded the limits to which I ought properly to have confined myself, and therefore though it had been my intention to touch upon one or two other points, I will now abstain from doing so, and conclude the observations I have addressed to the House by entreating the hon. Gentlemen opposite, and more especially those interested in the land, to believe me when I assert, as I do, most unfeignedly, that in supporting the views I have ventured to lay before them for their consideration, I have been actuated by no motive whatever, except a desire to promote that which I believe to be best both for the land and for every other interest in the kingdom. In corroboration of that assertion, and to show that I am influenced by no party motive, I need only to refer to what has been my past conduct in this House. When I had first the honour of a seat in Parliament, the subject of the Corn-laws occupied much of its time, and was the great topic of debate. Hon. Gentlemen must recollect, that in the two years, 1827 and and 1828, the measures proposed by the respective Governments of Lord Liverpool and the Duke of Wellington were under discussion. Both those measures passed through the House of Commons, and one of them is now the law of the land. In the discussions upon both those measures, I voted in very small minorities in favour of the principle of a fixed duty upon corn. In one of those years, if I remember rightly, the supporters of that principle were in a minority of only sixteen, and in the other they numbered, somewhere, I think, between twenty and thirty. Such were the small minorities by which the principle was then supported in this House, and in which I voted. From that time to this, in office or out of office, I have invariably supported the same policy. I have invariably, both by vote and argument, supported the policy of giving greater freedom to the trade in corn, and of abolishing the restrictions imposed by by the existing law. So much in reference to the motives by which I have been actuated. I will now only add, with reference to the vote which I am this evening going to give in favour of the amendment of my noble Friend, that if I conceived that by that vote I should be understood as voting in favour of the existing Corn-law in preference to that which has been proposed by her Majesty's Government, I most undoubtedly should not vote for the amendment. I should, on the contrary, most cheerfully support the measure proposed by the Government, because, as I have already stated, I consider that measure a mitigation, and an important mitigation, of the restrictions now in force on the trade in corn. But I conceive, that the House by its proceedings has already pledged itself to make some change in the law relating to the importation of corn, and that, therefore, the effect of the vote I am now going to give will be merely this—to declare that the principle upon which her Majesty's Government propose to amend the existing law is not, in my opinion, satisfactory. I do not think that the form in which the question has been brought to issue is, upon the whole, the most convenient that might have been chosen. If I had had any voice as to the course to be adopted, I should have greatly preferred that the House should have agreed, without debate or division, to the second reading of the bill, and that in committee an amendment should have been moved to bring the bill, as far as the forms of the House would permit, into the shape in which I think it ought to stand. This, I think, would have been the preferable course; but I felt, that as the proceedings on the subject have already been drawn to so great a length, and that, as there is to be a debate and division in this stage of the measure, it would be highly inexpedient that I should endeavour to cause another debate and another division in a subsequent stage. I wished to avoid giving the House such unnecessary trouble and exposing the public business to much unnecessary delay. Therefore, as I was unavoidably absent during the preliminary discussion on this subject—as this will be the only opportunity of which it will be in my power to avail myself of expressing by my speech and recording by my vote the Opinion I have so long entertained upon this question, I have no choice but to vote for the amendment moved by my noble Friend; and I have the consolation of knowing, or at least of believing, that the number of those who will follow the course of the hon. Member for Walling-ford (Mr. Blackstone) is so exceedingly small, that there will be no danger— which I should be the first to deprecate— of the failure of the Government measure, in consequence of an alliance of parties entertaining different and conflicting opinions. If we could defeat it by a majority, prepared to carry further the removal of noxious restrictions upon trade, I should be most happy to do so, but I would not make myself the tool of those whose object is not to remove but to continue these restrictions, and I assured her Majesty's Government, that if there were the slightest danger of such a contingency, my name should not be found in the list of the minority upon the division on the question now before the House. With this explanation, and thanking the House very sincerely for the attention it has been good enough to afford to an address which I am aware has been rather unreasonably protracted, I will now resume my seat.

Mr. Pakington

was strongly and decidedly favourable to the measure proposed by her Majesty's Ministers. He reminded the House that the opinions of Mr. Canning and Mr. Huskisson were opposed to the principle of a fixed duty, and he begged to observe, that if ever there was a speech conclusive against the principle of a fixed duty, it was the speech lately delivered by the noble Lord, the Member for London (Lord John Russell), who made concessions and acknowledgments absolutely fatal to the principle for which he was contending. Much had been said in the course of the discussions on this question as to the injurious operation of the Corn-laws upon the manufacturing interests of the country. One fact was, he thought, conclusive against all that had been asserted upon that point. What had been the condition of the cotton manufacture under the operation of these laws? In 1820 the declared value of cotton exports was 16,500,000l. In 1828, the year in which these calumniated laws were passed, the declared value of cotton exports was 17,200,000l.; being an increase of less than 1,000,000l., in eight years; whereas in 1839, when the laws now in existence had been in operation eleven years, the declared value of the cotton exports rose from 17,200,000 to 24,500,000, the most gigantic stride ever made in the manufacturing prosperity of any country on the face of the earth. The House having already decided by large majorities against the principle of a fixed duty—having by large majorities decided that there should be some protection still continued to the agricultural interest, the only question that now remained to be considered was, what the amount of that protection should be. In his opinion the scale proposed by the Government was the best and fairest that could be adopted, and entertaining that opinion, he should give to the measure now before the House his unqualified support. He regretted the course that had been taken by the hon. Member for Wallingford. He thought that a measure of this nature, brought forward by a Government entitled to the confidence of every man who loved the institutions of his country, ought to be received with general approbation. But it was not from that feeling alone that he supported the measure. He supported it because he believed it was designed, and well designed, to promote the interests of all classes of her Majesty's subjects, because he believed it to be fair, just, and moderate. The noble Viscount who had just spoken had charged the Gentlemen connected with the landed interest with having struck their flag. He, for one, begged to observe, that he had never deserted from the pledges he had given upon the hustings. He did not mean to contend that there might not be found here or there one accidental instance of parties who had departed from pledges in supporting any thing that differed from the existing law; but the noble Viscount was completely mistaken if he attributed such conduct to the great body of the friends of the agricultural interest. He could not refrain from adverting to one circumstance connected with the late debate which had given him great pain—he meant the tone of acrimony which had been but too conspicuous between the manufacturing and the landed interests. He did not advert to the speeches of the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand) those speeches were altogether peculiar; but whatever the merits or demerits of those speeches might be, he must say that they appeared to burst like rockets amongst the Gentlemen opposite. If the strange stories which that hon. Gentleman told the House about the use of "devil's dust" were true, he had no hesitation in saying that such practices ought to be exposed, and no one ought to rejoice more in their being exposed than the repectable and honest manufacturers. He did not refer to this, but to the tone in which the discussion had been conducted—to the criminations and recriminations, and to those charges of selfish and interested motives which each party had indulged in during the debate; such a tone was not befitting the dignity of the House, nor was such language calculated to promote the interest of any class in the community. He believed the prosperity of the manufacturing and agricultural classes was bound up with each other; that when trade prospered the prosperity re-acted on the landed interest, and when the agricultural interest prospered prosperity was shared in by the manufacturing interest. It was because he believed the measure of Government would conduce to the prosperity of all classes, and not exclusively to that of the agricultural interest, that he was prepared to give it his support. The agricultural interest would so far derive benefit from the measure in having removed from them the odium of enjoying an unnecessary and useless protection, while it would give them a sufficient protection. He thought that the agricultural interest would also be benefited by the new mode of taking the averages. The way in which they would benefit by the new mode of taking the averages, he believed, would be by the averages being honest and bonâ fide, and not as heretofore, fraudulent and fictitious. He also thought that the new measure would benefit the commercial classes and the general consumers. The noble Viscount, the Member for Sunderland, complained of the fluctuations under the old law. No doubt that was one great objection to it, but he would remind the House that, with one or two exceptions, the fluctuations in this country had been less than in any other nation. The proposed measure would diminish these fluctuations, and so far the consumer would be benefited. The noble Viscount had said nothing to show that the proposals of Gentlemen opposite, if carried into effect, would be looked upon as a final and satisfactory settlement of the question. The House could not have forgotten that this was no question sought for by her Majesty's Government. It had been brought forward by a hostile party for hostile purposes. Without any warning it was thrown down in May last by the Government for the purpose of discord, in the hope that it would enable the Government to procure from the people in a moment of passion and excitement, that support which, in their calm judgment, they withheld. He was happy to say that in that hope they had been disappointed, and the result was, that the party then in power were now a weak, feeble, and disorganised opposition. He congratulated Ministers on bringing this question before the House, and on their prospect of being able to bring it to a successful termination.

Mr. C. Buller

You talk of consistency! you who cannot maintain even through a single speech a decent show of consistency, nor make your arguments consonant with the votes which you conclude by telling us you shall give. You say, that the old Corn-law is the best law—you attempt to prove that agriculture and manufactures alike have prospered and increased under it; and then, for no earthly reason, except for mere party purposes, end by telling us that "you shall vote for its alteration." It was not his business to defend the course pursued by the hon. Member for Wallingford. The hon. Member meant to vote against the bill, but he had come to his conclusions on grounds totally opposite to those maintained by Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, who denied that this was the right principle on which to legislate in regard to corn. Both were consistent; those only must be inconsistent who defended the old law, yet voted for its alteration. He was delighted to hear the hon. Member for Droitwich (Mr. Pakington) add his authority to the condemnation of the acrimonious language used in the debate, but in blaming parties on both sides of the House, the hon. Gentleman made a most remarkable exception; the only person he excepted being the hon. Member for Knaresborough, who, he should have thought, was not exactly the person meant to be complimented for his abstinence from acrimony. It appeared, however, that the hon. Member for Droitwich excepted him solely on the ground of his being peculiar; and if the word was used in the conversational sense, he thought, on the whole, that it was a very sound plea for that Gentleman. He would not attempt to introduce any novelty into the discussion, but he would call the attention of the House to the principal arguments which he thought of importance in considering the effect of the Corn-law. The chief objection urged against the existing Corn-law appeared to him to apply to the present bill—the effect it had in restricting foreign trade. As he could not see how the present bill, embodying as it did the principle of the sliding scale, could insure a regular trade with countries that produced corn, he thought that it would do nothing to remove one of the essential objections to the principle of the sliding scale. Another argument was one which had, if he recollected aright, been first mentioned in that House by a Gentleman, an enlightened advocate of free-trade, and whose absence from these discussions he deeply lamented — he alluded to Mr. Grote, late Member for London; and in expressing his regret for that absence, he thought he might rely on the sense which even political opponents must entertain of the great integrity, the great courtesy, the great industry, and the great knowledge always displayed by Mr. Grote. In 1839 that Gentleman, availing himself of the great alarm created by the monetary crisis which had very recently occurred, pointed out the effect of the Corn-law in connection with that crisis. He showed, that under the present law, the demand for corn would always be uncertain and sudden; and that for want of a regular trade in corn with foreign nations, this Country, when a necessity for having corn arrived, was obliged to pay for it in gold —that at the time alluded to the Bank of England had thus been suddenly drained of gold to the amount of between 2,000,000l. and 3,000,000l. in order to pay for corn, and only been saved from bankruptcy by having recourse to the bank of France. This, in his opinion, was a great objection to the sliding scale. The derangement of the monetary system affected all classes—all who either gave or received credit; and no class suffered more than the farmers, because they were a very borrowing class; and a contraction of the currency of the Bank of England was followed by a contraction in the circulation of the country banks, whose customers the farmers usually were. He wished to know how the present bill could remedy this evil. He wished now to direct the attention of the House more particularly to an evil arising from the present system, the magnitude of which had been impressed on his mind by a document which had been recently laid before the House— he alluded to the effect of the Corn-law as a tax on the employment of human labour. The document he referred to was the report of the inspectors of factories, more especially the report of Mr. Horner, inspector in Lancashire. He believed that document had not been referred to in the course of the debate, except once by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester, who had quoted from it before it was published. He thought the publication would show that the right hon. Baronet was by no means correct in his deductions from it. Great credit was due to Mr. Horner for the trouble he had taken in inquiring into the condition of the people employed in the factories of this country, and he must say, that the conclusions to be drawn from that document were perfectly appalling when considered in reference to the condition of the people of England. Mr. Horner had carried his inquiries through the different factories in his district; be had calculated the amount of power existing in each; he had calculated the number of persons which the manufactories would employ if they were in full work; he had given the results in a table; in which he had also specified the amount of power actually in operation, and the number of human beings actually employed at the period of his report. Bad as he had thought the condition of the people employed in the factories, he never believed that the amount of destitution was so great as that which actually it was. Mr. Horner stated that his remarks did not apply to the cotton trade merely, but more or less to the silk trade, and to the woollen and flax trade even more than to the cotton trade. It appeared, then, that if the mills generally had been at work, and all their available power in operation, about 29,800 persons would be actually employed more than the number now employed. The number of persons employed on short time, and consequently receiving diminished wages, was no less than 32,000; so that there were 61,000 persons partially employed, or not employed at all; and even deducting 14,516 for the 3,350 new horse power added since 1839, there would still remain 15,300 unemployed, and 32,000 partially employed, out of those who appeared once to have been employed—making together nearly 50,000 people out of 223,000, or about two-ninths of the population in distress for want of employment. He was aware that it might be said that additional power had been created without ever having given employment; but it struck him, from the general character of the report, that the whole number of people had been employed. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester, stated the other night, that since 1839, no fewer than ninety-one new cotton mills had been established, and he was sure the right hon. Baronet, in alluding to a document not before the public, did not intend to deal unfairly with the House when he stated the addition which had been made to the productive power of the country; but in using that as an argument against any distress in the manufacturing districts, he ought to have stated that during that time the addition was in this way far more than counterbalanced by the enormous quantity of power thrown out of employment. The right hon. Baronet mentioned that ninety-one new additional mills had been established, having a power of 3,350 horses; but it appeared that at the very same time mills having a power of 6,778 horses were out of employment, so that there still remained mills having a power of 3,438 horses unemployed, and as Mr. Horner showed, this power would give employment to about 16,000 persons. It appeared, then, that nearly 60,000 persons were either destitute of employment, or working on short time. He would not have dwelt on this appalling fact if Mr. Horner had not in his report, pointed out the nature of the causes which prevented persons finding employment, and given a fair ground for inferring that these fearful results were connected with the operation of the sliding scale; and he dwelt on this part of the subject, not in order to harrow the feelings of the House by picturing the distress, but in the hope that by doing so he might be able to make them comprehend the effect of the Corn-law on the condition of the people, and induce them to apply a remedy. Mr. Horner stated the mode in which the distress in the manufacturing districts was bringing about the substitution of machinery for human labour—how it was that the more the manufacturer became distressed, the greater was the difficulty he experienced in competing with the foreign manufacturer; and the greater the ingenuity he exercised in the invention of machinery that he might as much as possible dispense with human labour. The distress was not merely temporary when they thus threw human beings out of employment, unless some new and great stimulus was given to trade. Every improvement in machinery, in the long run, with free-trade and with full opportunity for human labour to develope itself, must increase the amount of human labour employed; but the application of improved machinery which was occasioned not by prosperity, but by the efforts of distress, merely substituted machinery for a certain amount of human labour, without leading to any further demand for the latter. Under the present system, there might be human labour thrown out of the market and for ever kept out of it by the introduction of machinery. In every manufacture, said Mr. Horner, ingenuity had been stimulated to manufacture the articles at less cost, by making machinery more productive and by substituting mechanical for manual labour; and, when manual labour was still necessary, by substituting children for adults. In every department of a cotton mill the object had been carried more or less into effect by these means, but in no department so conspicuously as in one of the last processes, the spinning of the yarn on mules, which was performed by the most skilled, and therefore the highest-paid class of workers in the mill. Those persons who were formerly paid the highest wages now earned least, and were called by their brother workmen cyphers. He would invite the attention of the House to the specific means by which, according to Mr. Horner, human labour was dispensed. That gentleman stated, with regard to Manchester, In a mill in Manchester (A. B.), where they spin the finest numbers of yarn, a room was shown to me where, in 1829, there were eight mules of 324 spindles each, worked by four spinners. The mules were afterwards doubled in length, and carried 648 spindles, and I found them worked by two spinners. These lengthened mules were immediately to be double-decked, as similar ones in the mill had already been, and then one man would work the whole. Thus one man now works the 2,692 spindles, which in worked by four men. In another mill (L.L.), also spinners of fine yarn, I found a man working two mules of 864 spindles each, who formerly ' worked two of 300 each. The mule of 300 was thirty-four feet long-that of 864 was ninety-four feet. At a mill in Bolton (G.H.), spinning low numbers, I found a man who had formerly worked two mules of 336 spindles each, working four double-decked mules of seventy-two feet in length, and carrying each 672 spindles, so that he was working 2,688 spindles. He was spinning No. 40.* * * The owner of a mill in Bolton (J.K.) writes to me: By increasing the length of our mules, we now employ only twenty-six spinners to do the same work which required thirty-five spinners in 1837." Again, Mr. Horner said: In a mill in Manchester, spinning fine numbers (M. N.), thirty-three spinners do the work on which sixty were formerly employed. In another of the same description (H. G.), two years ago they had nine spinners, but, by double-decking the mules, only three are required. In a third (F. E.), spinning low numbers, they had in 1834, forty-six spinners and eighty piecers; they have now twenty-five spinners and seventy-five piecers to do the same work. The proprietors of a large mill in Manchester parish (U. T.), engaged in spinning only, state, `that by recent improvements in their machinery, they had reduced the number of persons employed from 338 to 258, thus saving the wages of seventy-two persons, without diminishing the quantity of work turned off.' He admitted the general principle, that in a system of free trade the saving of human labour was advantageous; but in the present state of things, and under the present system of Legislation, it appeared to him that the immediate saving of human labour, by the introduction of new machinery into any particular process, was not compensated by a general increase of the demand for labour: and that the fact was, that the number of persons out of employment was fearfully large. The account of the effect upon the wages of those still employed was not quite so unsatisfactory. In the case of some classes of workmen wages had increased; but as a counter-balance, one out of every two workmen in those classes had been thrown out of employment. It appeared to him that there was a fatal change taking place in our manufactures; not fatal under some circumstances and under a proper system of trade, but fatal unless the people could get employment. What was the operation of this substitution of machinery for human labour? Capital was expended on machinery and mechanical improvements, and the workmen were thrown out of employment. But that was not all: a tendency was given to over production. For when human labour was employed, if from overproduction or other causes prices were not remunerative, the balance was restored by not employing so many labourers, and thus diminishing the amount of production; but when mechanical labour was used, and the machine was made, as Mr. Horner explained, and as hon. Gentlemen who were at all acquainted with these things must well know, the manufacturer found it advisable to go on working and producing even at a loss, rather than permit the machinery to stand still. Now what was the effect, and what was the natural and obvious remedy for over production? A cessation of production in order to allow the stock on hand to become exhausted, until the supply and demand again become in due proportion to each other. But in Lancashire it appeared that the manufacturers were working their mills at a loss rather than not at all: and Mr. Horner said that in consequence of the decreased price, the manufacturers could only pay themselves by increasing the quantity produced and sent into the market, and thus still more overstocking the world with goods: so that instead of their having reason to hope that, from the exhaustion of the stocks in hand, demand would gradually revive, and employment increase, there seemed reason to apprehend that what had occurred during the two last years of distress had only augmented the stock of manufactured goods, and deferred the period of renewed demand and renewed employment. But it alight be said, what had this to do with the Corn-laws? He did not say that those laws were chargeable with all these evils, but the operation of those laws must tend to produce such results. There were, no doubt, other causes which contributed to produce those evils. The competition of capital would necessarily, he was aware, reduce profits; but was that any reason why, by their legislation, they should reduce profits still more? It was no excuse to say that distress would have existed without legislation, when it was obvious that the operation of the Corn-laws, by diminishing the supply of corn, necessarily increased the value of human labour. Now, he, for one, doubted that the plan of the right hon. Baronet would tend to diminish the existing evils. Throughout the whole of his speech, the right hon. Baronet had not said that his object was to diminish the price of food. The right hon. Baronet, had taken some offence at an hon. Member saying that his intention was to fix the price of corn. The right hon. Baronet said he would not pretend to regulate prices by legislation; but the only defence he made for his bill was, that prices would be kept under it to a certain amount; that prices had averaged at 56s. or 58s., and that under the bill they would range at 54s. or 56s., which he considered a very good price to be maintained. [Sir R. Peel: The hon. and learned Gentleman is misstating what I said.] Perhaps the right hon. Baronet would explain what he had really said. He was not quoting from a book or from a newspaper, but he had understood the right hon. Baronet to say that the price had been 56s. or 57s. under the old law, and that no one could fairly complain of the price at 56s. to 58s., and that his bill would tend to bring about that average of prices. He admitted that the right hon. Baronet had not said that his bill would do this, but he did the best he could in the bill to bring about that effect. But what in fact was the avowed object of a sliding-scale except to keep the price at a particular amount? If not, why did they put on a high duty when the price of corn was low, and a low duty when the price of corn was high? Why to make the price of corn something between the two extremes. [Cheers from the Ministerial Benches.] A noble Lord, a Member of the Government, cheered. He assumed, therefore, that the noble Lord put the same interpre- tation upon the measure as that which he was attributing to the right hon. Baronet. He had stated some of the grounds of his objections to the old Corn-law, which were not, in his opinion, removed by the measure now before the House; and there was also this great objection, which applied to this as it did to every other law having a sliding-scale for its principle— viz., its monstrous and palpable injustice,— the injustice that they should frame laws not to compensate for particular burdens falling upon particular classes—not to guard against temporary evils, but to secure to the farmer that which no Legislature had ever attempted to secure to any other tradesman or manufacturer— viz., a certain and high price for his produce in every season, and under every variety of circumstance. The uncertainty of seasons was a disadvantage that applied not to corn only, but equally to all agricultural operations; sugar, cotton, coffee, and in fact every article that was raised from the earth, depended on the seasons. But then there were advantages in agriculture which compensated this disadvantage to a great extent. Agriculture ought not to have these advantages over other trades without the counterbalancing evil that nature had assigned them all. So long as they had a law upon the principle of the one before them, so long as they had a class interest keeping up the price of agricultural produce by legislative enactment, so long would they hold out to the world an instance of a Legislature endeavouring by its legislation, to promote the interests of its members against those of the people at large. He had never indulged in imputations against the agriculturists, and he was not now going to attribute to them any sordid or improper motives, but this he might say, that they were, in this matter, following that bias of judgment which, even in the highest-minded people, would operate with them in favour of their own interests. Hon. Gentlemen were giving way to that bias without feeling its force; but, as long as legislation was carried on under its influence, they would give grounds for discontent, and teach the people to complain. One argument in favour of the present Corn-law, which bad been advanced during the discussions upon the subject last year, struck him as having some weight with J many hon. Members, and he was desirous to reply to it by specific statistical statements, instead of by general argument. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) had repeated the argument, and he believed it had even been advocated by some of those who were favourable to free-trade principles. It was said, that there was at least this good in the Corn-laws, that when the price was high in this country, the duty on foreign corn was low, and thus a supply was obtained. The only argument in favour of a sliding-scale, as against a fixed duty, which had any semblance of force, was that derived from the fact, that the varying duty is when prices are very high below the amount of 8s. proposed for the fixed duty. Those who used this argument confined the attention of their hearers to the mere item of duty, and dwelt on the diminution of duty as if that were of any importance to the public, while that diminution denoted an increase of price. "What right have you to complain," they said, "when the duty is only a shilling?" The fair answer to this would be—" We have a right to complain when the price of wheat is 73s. a quarter." This argument was more particularly used in the debates of August and September last, and as the price was then high, and corn was coming in at a 1s. duty, it was frequently said, in the course of those debates, that it would at that very time be worse for the public to have the fixed duty proposed by the late Government than the existing sliding-scale. "I am always rejoiced, continued the hon. and learned Member, to be able to get a fallacy committed to specific facts, and reduceable to actual figures, and as I think it is most useful that the country should know exactly what was the result of having the existing sliding-scale instead of the proposed fixed duty, during the months of August and September last, I think I may as well trouble the House with an estimate of the exact amount, which I have drawn up from the returns that we have. From the returns made by the corn inspectors, and given in page 50 of the last papers on this subject which have been sent round, we get the actual amount of sales in the markets in which the averages are taken. We know also the average price; and can, therefore, exactly calculate the amount paid for the whole quantity of corn sold in these markets. Now, I have compared these amounts with what I estimate as those which would have been paid on the same quantities had the plan of the late Ministry been adopted by Parliament, and the 8s. duty become law about the beginning of August. Had that been the case, I may assume that in the first week of August a considerable importation would have commenced. The average price then was 68s. 3d., and I may therefore, at least, assume that the price would not have risen above that amount, but continued thereat from that time to the 10th of September, when the great importation actually took place. But, surely, I may assume more. When the importation actually took place the price immediately fell to 64s. 8d.; and, unless not only all the notions of Gentlemen opposite, but also all the calculations of practical men respecting the price at which wheat might be imported from abroad are utterly erroneous, I may surely assume that in August last wheat might, with a profit, have been landed in England at 56s. 8d.., and might, consequently with an 8s. duty, have been sold for 64s. 8d., and I think I shall, therefore, be quite within the mark when I assume that the operation of a fixed duty of 8s., taking effect at the beginning of August last, would have been immediately to bring down prices to 64s. 8d., and keep them at any rate as low as that. Now, I find from the returns, and from the London Gazette, that during the period of six weeks from the 30th of July to the 10th September:— In the 1st week there are returned as sold 110,076 quarters, at an average price of 70s. 5d. per quarter. In the 2nd week there are returned as sold 111,346 quarters, at an average price of 72s. 5d, per quarter. In the 3rd week there are returned as sold 108,383 quarters, at an average price of 74s. 7d. per quarter. In the 4th week there are returned as sold 91,219 quarters, at an average price of 76s. 1d. per quarter. In the 5th week there are returned as sold 69,898 quarters, at an average price of 74s. 1d. per quarter. In the 6th week there are returned as sold 72,915 quarters, at an average price of 71s. 2d. per quarter. Now, on the supposition of the price having under a fixed duty continued all this time at 68s. 3d., the enhancement of price, and consequent loss to the consumer, by the sliding-scale, would have been—-in the first week, 2s. 2d. a quarter; in the second, 4s. 2d.; in the third, 6s. 4d.; in the fourth, 7s. 10d.; in the fifth, 5s. 10d.; and in the sixth, 2s. 11d. On the supposition that under a fixed duty the price had fallen to, and continued at 64s. 8d., the loss would have been—5s. 9d., in the first week, 7s. 9d. in the second, 9s. 11d. in the third, 11s. 5d. in the fourth, 9s. 5d. in the fifth, and 6s. 6d. in the 6th. Taking these data, it is easy to calculate what the loss to the consumer, occasioned by having the present sliding-scale, instead of the proposed fixed duty, would have been; — 1st week, the loss on 110,076 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 2s. 2d. per quarter, equal to 11,924l., and on the second 5s. 9d. per quarter, equal to 31,684l. 2nd week, the loss on 111,346 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 4s. 2d. per quarter, equal to 23,197l., and on the second 7s. 9d. per quarter, equal to 43,146l. 3rd week, the loss on 108,383 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 6s. 4d. per quarter, equal to 34,321l. and on the second 9s. 11d. per quarter, equal to 53,839l. 4th week, the loss on 91,219 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 7s. 10d. per quarter, equal to 35,727l., and on the second, 11s. 5d. per quarter, equal to 52,070l. 5th week, the loss on 69,898 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 5s. 10d. per quarter, equal to 20,386l., and on the second, 9s. 5d. per quarter, equal to 32,910l. 6th week, the loss on 72,915 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 2s. 11d. per quarter, equal to 10,633l., and on the second, 6s. 6d. per quarter, equal to 23,697l. Thus in six weeks, the loss on 563,837 quarters sold would, on the first supposition, have been 136,188l., and on the second, 237,346l. Now, the total amount of wheat returned by the inspectors, as sold in 1841, is only 3,913,927 quarters, but the consumption of the United Kingdom cannot be estimated at less than 16,000,000 quarters of wheat, and consequently the quantity returned from these towns does not appear to be one-fourth of the total consumption. In order, therefore, to estimate the real amount of the loss in these six weeks, we roust suppose that there was at least four times as much corn sold all over England, with a similar loss thereon. This would give a total sale of about 2,255,348 quarters, on which the loss, even on the supposition that a great importation had merely kept down the price to 68s. 3d., which it was at the end of July, would amount to 544,752l.; and on the supposition that a great importation, at the beginning of August, would have reduced the price to 64s. 8d., as it actually did when the large importation took place in September, the total loss would have been not less than 949,384l. But this is doing no justice to the comparison between the operation of a fixed duty and a sliding-scale. If there is truth in any of our speculations on the subject, the effect of a fixed duty would be to produce a regular trade in corn—liable, no doubt, to some fluctuations in price, in consequence of variations of seasons and harvests, but still enabling us generally to command a regular supply of corn from abroad, at a price of 50s, or 52s., or, with a fixed duty of 8s., at a cost of from 58s. to 60s. I see no reason to doubt that, had a fixed duty been for some years in operation, and had we been in the habit of drawing a regular supply of wheat from the continent, we should, with a fixed duty of 8s., have obtained foreign wheat during the whole of these six weeks at 60s. the quarter, and that the price of the wheat sold in England during that time would never have risen beyond that sum. Now, on this supposition, what was the loss attributable during these six weeks to our having a sliding-scale instead of a fixed duty of 8s.? In the first week a loss of at least 10s. a quarter on 110,076 quarters, equal to 55,038l. In the second week a loss of at least 12s. a quarter on 111,346 quarters, equal to 66,807l. In the third week a loss of at least 14s. a quarter on 108,383 quarters, equal to 75,868l. In the fourth week a loss of at least 16s. a quarter on 91,219 quarters, equal to 72,975l. In the fifth week a loss of at least 14s. a quarter on 69,898 quarters, equal to 48,928l. In the sixth week a loss of at least 11s. a quarter on 72,915 quarters, equal to 40,103l., Which amounts, in the six weeks, to a total loss, on 563,837 quarters, of 359,719l., in the average towns; and consequently, on the grounds which I before mentioned, to a total loss of probably no less than 1,438,876l. on the total quantity sold in the United Kingdom during that period. But this is not the total loss to the public by having a sliding-scale instead of a fixed duty. As far as a duty, whether fixed or varying, raises the prices of home-grown grain, the additional sum taken from the consumer goes into the pockets of the seller; and the loss to the public which I have calculated on these three suppositions at 544.000l., 949.000l., and 1,438,000l;. respectively goes into the pockets partly of the landlords and partly of the corn-dealers. But, with respect to the foreign corn imported, whatever is added to price by a fixed duty all goes to the public revenues, contributes to public purposes, and benefits the consumerss of corn by preventing the necessity of imposing other taxes. But in the case of a sliding-scale, a very small portion of the additional price attributable to the duty goes to the public; because the high duties, for the most part, operate on price without being actually paid; and those that actually are paid are almost always insignificant. In September last, no less than 2,178,371 quarters of wheat and flour were entered for home consumption, chiefly at the 1s. duty, on which the total amount received for public revenue was only 135.818l. Now, at an 8s. duty, the same amount of wheat would have produced a total amount of 871.348l.; and if you deduct from this 135.818l., the amount actually received, the remainder, about 730,000l., is the amount lost to the public revenue by having a sliding scale instead of a fixed duty. And this loss of duty is not, as I have shown, compensated to the public by any diminution of the price of bread, but is aggravated by a considerable increase of price, owing to the sliding-scale. In addition to this clear loss of 730,000l. in the shape of revenue, the public loses, by having to pay according to the three preceding calculations, either 544,000l., 949,000l.,or 1,438,000l. So that, putting the two losses together, the public could not have lost less than 1,274,000l.; it may, more probably, be said to have lost 1,679,000l.; and, comparing the actual working of the sliding-scale with what would probably have been the working of a fixed duty, had it had a few years' trial, we cannot say that the comparative loss of both kinds occasioned by our present system could have been less than 2,168,000l. This is my answer to the argument, that at any rate when prices are high, the present sliding-scale is less oppressive than the proposed fixed duty; that the sudden lowering of the scale of duty at high prices compensates for its height at low prices; and to the assertion, that in the course of this very last season the price of wheat would have been greatly enhanced had we had an 8s. fixed, instead of the present fluctuating duty. I meet these assertions by taking the exact working of the sliding-scale on the actual sales and importations of six weeks, and comparing it with what we may fairly calculate to have been under similar circumstances during the same period, the working of a fixed duty of 8s. I think I have proved that by the operation of the sliding-scale, the price of bread was greatly enhanced, so much so, that we cannot fairly say that the people of England had less than 1,438,000l. more to pay for six weeks' wheat than they would have had with an 8s. fixed duty; that this sum they lost by the present law remaining in force; that this sum they would have kept in their pockets had the 8s. fixed duty been fairly in operation; that this sum they paid to the landlords and corn-dealers; and that in addition they lost 730,000l. for the revenue of this country, and had the pleasure of paying it, partly to continental landlords and corn dealers, and partly to our own speculators. I have taken here the very circumstances selected by our opponents as most favourable to the sliding-scale. Under these circumstances alone do they represent their device as producing more relief to the consumer than could be obtained with a fixed duty. Under these very circumstances, I think I have proved the sliding-scale to be productive of a very serious comparative enhancement of the price of bread, as well as of a waste of public revenue. But, however I may flatter myself as having shown the fallacy of this very common argument in favour of the sliding-scale, and however curious I may may be to hear how the inferences which I have deduced from actual facts and figures can be met, I cannot flatter myself that the fallacy which I have attempted to expose will be used one bit less frequently or less confidently than before. But I feel confident that the public has thought so much on the subject within the last few months that it will not be imposed on by this fallacy, or allow its ears to be tickled by this confusion between duty and price. The public has learned to distinguish between duties and prices; it has learnt that though, according to the sliding-scale, the duty falls as the price rises, the material point for the consideration of the consumer is, that the price rises as the duty falls; and that to him the material thing is not what duty is paid at the ports, but what price he pays in the markets. The public is not to be misled by the pretended humanity of your low duties; it knows well that in these low duties lies the very sting of the sliding-scale, and that low duties mean high prices. For it is to get to these low duties that corn is kept back until the price rises to that great height at which the duties are lowest. He felt grateful, continued the hon. Member, to the House for the attention with which they had listened to the arguments which he had brought forward to defend his vote, There were certainly two merits in the bill of the right hon. Baronet. The first was, that it would bring a little more revenue. Another, and a far greater, advantage was, that it had pulled the first brick out of the old system, which gave hope that the rest might follow at a future time. The poor old Corn-law, after having been ridden to death in June and July last on the hustings, now found only one defender in the hon. Member for Walling-ford (Mr. Blackstone). At any rate, with whatever arguments hon. Members went to the hustings for the future, the good old Corn-laws would not be amongst them. No, it would be the merit of having repealed that law which would henceforth be insisted on. Some other cry would be resorted to, just as unfair and unmeaning, with a consistency like that of the hon. Member for Lincolnshire, he meant the Member opposite (Mr. Christopher), who first of all said, ' stand by the old Corn-law," who next proposed an alteration in that law, who then proposed to make a change in that very alteration, and finally who wound up his consistency by voting against himself, and negatived his own amended proposal. The right hon. Baronet the other day had adverted, in a touching manner, to the difficulties by which he was surrounded on the present occasion. He had addressed the Opposition—he had appealed, although not in explicit terms, to their good sense, their generosity, their sense of public duty, to support him against these unreasonable friends of his. On the only two occasions when those friends of the right hon. Baronet had plucked up their courage to divide against him hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House had supported the right hon. Baronet. He assured the right hon. Baronet, that whenever the right hon. Baronet's agricultural friends gave him an opportunity of choosing between the right hon. Baronet's scheme and a worse proposition, the right hon. Baronet should have his support; but whenever it was a choice between the right hon. Baronet's scheme and a better, he should be compelled to vote against him. Might he venture to ask the right hon. Baronet, hampered as he was by the agricultural and landed interest. [Sir R. peel"had nothing to complain of."] Might he ask the right hon. Baronet, when he appealed to them to take this reasonable course, to take a retrospective glance, and to say what would have been the result, if the right hon. Baronet seeing that sooner or later some change was inevitable, had pursued the same reasonable course, when his noble Friend was in office? He conscientiously believed that if the right hon. Baronet had last Session set the example by coming forward and holding to the agricultural interest the same language as he held now—had he told them then as he did now that he would make as good terms for them as he could, if they would not insist on having too much—if, instead of raking up all the stale arguments which he found in favour of the old Corn-law, causing the utmost excitement and violence amongst the agricultural interest—if, instead of doing this, he had come forward, holding the same language of moderation which he now held—it was, he repeated, his conscientious belief that the right hon. Baronet might have contributed then to do what he sought to accomplish, but which even the right hon. Gentleman could not expect to do, by the present measure—namely, to put the trade in corn on a stable footing by a solid and enduring law.

Sir E. Knatchbull

was understood to maintain that, notwithstanding all that had been said, the proposition of the right hon. Baronet had given general satisfaction to the agricultural interest. He would even go so far as to affirm that no measure which had ever been submitted to that House, had met with a more unanimous concurrence, both of Parliament and the public, than the proposition of the right hon. Baronet. [Ironical Cheers.] Did hon. Gentlemen dispute the fact? He did not mean to include the Anti-Corn-Law League. He was aware that petitions had been presented against the Government measure. He knew also that they far outnumbered those in favour of the measure; but why? It was because the same means had not been resorted to by the agriculturists. It was because those in favour of the right hon. Baronet's measure preferred employing the means they possessed in alleviating the distress of the poor, to prostituting them in mischievous and useless agitation. Feeling that an apology was necessary on his part for venturing to address the House upon a subject on which every argument had been exhausted, and which he hoped was consequently about to terminate, he felt acutely the great disadvantage under which he laboured in following the hon. and learned Gentlemen who had just addressed the House. That hon. and learned Gentleman admitted that the proposition of the right hon. Baronet had some merit, because it had removed one brick from the old Corn-law, from which, he augured the fall of the whole structure. The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland exulted in the abolition of the "No surrender cry." He had talked of capitulation, and declared that the flag was struck. He ventured to tell the noble Lord that the flag was not struck—that there was no surrender. The noble Lord had gone beyond the 8s. duty, he wished to have no duty whatever. Nay, the noble Lord went further. He said that he believed that, in making that avowal, he was expressing the opinion of the farmers of Northumberland. [Viscount Howick: No, no.] If he had misapprehended the noble Viscount, he begged his pardon. He unquestionably understood the noble Viscount to go that length. He confessed that he was much disappointed at the observations which had fallen from an hon. Member in that evening's debate, and he was sorry that the hon. Gentleman was not in his place during the speech of the noble Viscount. For they had only three propositions before the House— a fixed duty, against which the hon. Gentleman had voted—a free-trade, to which he was opposed—and the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. Would the hon. Gentleman vote against all? If so, did he think he could maintain the present law, which those in the Cabinet, under the existing circumstances of the country, and considering the increase of population since the Corn-law of 1815 was passed, thought could not be maintained. The hon. Gentlemen the Member for Liskeard, advocated a duty for the purpose of revenue, but what would the country say if this money were raised by a taxation on food. Then, said the hon. Gentleman, they ought to look to the interests of consumers in having a lower price of corn. Now, he did not think that lowering the price of food was all that was necessary; it was the means of purchasing that was required, for a man who had no money could get no corn. It reminded him of the story of a gentleman from the sister country, who went into a shop in London and asked the price of eggs, and was told they were six for a shilling. "Oh," said he, "six for a shilling! why, I can get thirteen for a shilling in Ireland." "Then," replied the shopkeeper, "you had better go back to Ireland." "No, re joined the gentleman, "that's of no use, for though I can get thirteen eggs for a shilling in Ireland, I have no money there to purchase them." The noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, in speaking of the prices of corn, had said, that although there had been a good harvest, the price of corn in the neighbourhood in which he resided had remained high, and had caused great suffering. If this had been the case, it must have been that it was necessary to buy old corn before the new corn could be brought to market; but if such a thing had occurred in his part of the country, he was sure that wages would have been advanced with the high price of corn, and that the suffering of which the noble Viscount complained would not have taken place. He must refer again to the hon. Member for Liskeard on one other point. The hon. and learned Member had alluded to the want of employment for labourers in the manufacturing districts and attributed that to the operation of the Corn-laws. He did not understand how the hon. Member made that out. The hon. Member said, that only one man was now employed out of four, and that within a certain district seventy-two manufacturers were not employing their workmen full time; the distress, however, of these parties did not arise from the Corn-laws, but from labour having been supplanted of late by improvements in machinery. He had given his consent to the bill before the House, trusting that it would soon pass into a law, and in the full conviction that it would conduce to the benefit of all the interests of this country, agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing. Hon. Gentlemen opposite talked of the exclusive friends of agriculture. That observation, however, could not apply to the present Government; they had proposed this change in the law in the confidence that it would do justice to the agricultural interest, but with all equal conviction that they were doing what would ultimately tend to the great advantage of all classes. If the interests of the country were bound up together, and if one interest could not prosper without the others, he might venture to anticipate that it would be thought that the matter had been fairly considered by the Government, and that the ultimate effect would be what all most anxiously wished, and which every friend of this country should wish to be the result. Very much had been said in the course of the discussion as to the tone and temper in which this should be discussed. He agreed in thinking that anything like violence should be avoided, and he was quite satisfied that whatever defects there might be, it was right to pass this bill into an act. Whenever the time should arrive when it should be deemed consistent to make further changes, he trusted that it would not be done in the midst of criminations and re-criminations, but that they would never lose sight of the great principle of doing everything for the safety, honour, and well-being of the country.

Viscount Howick

begged to say one word by the way of explanation. The right hon. Baronet who had just sat down had done him the honour of quoting passages from the speech which he had made upon the subject, but the right hon. Baronet had quite mistaken him on one point, for he had quoted him as having said precisely the opposite to that which he did say. His argument was this—that the present Corn-laws were so very injurious to the interests of the country that it would be much better if they had been totally repealed. He, however, added, that his own view was this: that for the interests of the country generally it would be better that a fixed moderate duty should be imposed. To prove that these were his sentiments he had gone further, by stating that in a very short time he believed such an arrangement as he had advocated would not be any longer practicable, for that nothing but a total repeal would then give satisfaction. What he had also stated was this: that among even the farmers themselves, there was a growing opinion hostile to the existing Corn-laws. This opinion, he must say, prevailed much more among the farmers in the North of England than those in the South, which latter class was much inferior to the former in comfort and intelligence.

Sir E. Knatchbull

was perfectly satisfied with the explanation of the noble Viscount.

Mr. Sheil

said, I certainly am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and who is so remarkable for perspicuity, should have mistaken the observation of the noble Lord (Viscount Howick), who is so remarkable for his perspicuity. The right hon. Baronet has misconceived what the noble Lord advanced, and he seems to me to have omitted that part of the speech which is most deserving of attention. Among the observations of the noble Lord, I was struck with one which appeared to me particularly deserving of attention. The noble Lord designated the measure of the right hon. Baronet as the precursor of ulterior measures. The noble Lord stated that it was obvious that the right hon. Baronet cannot stop here, and that either he or some other minister must ultimately abandon this protection. To that observation no remark has been made by the right hon. Gentleman. Whether he agrees in that remark, or did not agree, it is not for me to determine. I think that the observation of the noble Lord deserves the most serious consideration. The right hon. Baronet is about to tamper with the law which regulates the price of provisions. It has been well said by Edmund Burke, in his excellent thoughts on scarcity," that to tamper with the laws regulating the price of provisions, is at all times dangerous," but when you do tamper with these laws—when you do more—when you do yield to public opinion, you ought, at least, to see that you are acting satisfactorily to some great party. You are about to take the first step, and that an important step, in the course of innovation. You are about to take a step which does not satisfy all parties, even on your own side. The Duke of Buckingham, at least, feels a strong objection to it. When that change is proposed, he, who was not in the Cabinet of 1839, ceased to be in the Cabinet of 1842. Might he venture to say "Honi soit qui mal y pense?" When you are about to make a change which is thought material by your own supporters it is a matter of much regret and of some surprise, that you do not do at once that which you or some one else must do at last. You still adhere to the vicious principle of the present system, of which perpetual uncertainty is the conspicuous essence. You still adhere to the sliding-scale. You adhere to the principle that affords incentives, and that affords oppor- tunities for fraudulent combinations. You still adhere to the principle which substitutes the spirit of rash adventure for the spirit of legitimate commercial speculation. You apply the principle of a sliding-scale to corn alone —you apply it to no other article of human food. Colonial coffee and colonial sugar are protected by fixed duties. It is said that the sugar duties are about to undergo a change. It is rumoured that the apprehensions which were so lately entertained as to the indirect sanction you would give to the slave-trade begins to subside. Do you mean to apply the principle of the sliding-scale to coffee and to sugar? If you did so, if you passed a law declaring that the duty upon Brazilian sugar and upon Havannah sugar shall depend upon the average price of East India and of West India sugar. I will ask the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Trade, whose peculiar care this would be, whether such a law would not inflict a great practical injury on the growers of coffee and the growers of sugar in the Brazils? I do not feel surprised that the agriculturists of this country do not adopt the opinions— the extreme opinions as they are considered by many—of Mr. Adam Smith and Mr. Huskisson in his latter days, that the very measures intended for the protection of the agricultural interests are in fact deleterious to them; but it does appear to me strange that the advice of so decided a friend of protection as Mr. M'Culloch should not have more weight with the agriculturists. Mr. M'Culloch says that a fluctuating scale of duty adds an artificial variation to the inevitable natural variations of the seasons, and inflicts as much injury upon the farmers as upon the traders. Is this a sound principle? Let us examine how the sliding-scale works now, to see how it will work under the proposed changes. The sliding-scale in one single year, in the year 1835, shifted thirty-five times—it underwent thirty-five different changes. On the 19th July, in 1838, the duty was 20s. 8d.; on the 13th September, the duty was 1s.; in the week ending October 11, it was again 20s. 8d.; and, before the end of December, it again descended to 1s. In the year 1840, the lowest duty was 2s. 8d.; it remained so for one week, and in five weeks afterwards it was 20s. 8d. In the year 1840, on the 17th September, it was only 1s.; in the next week, it was 2s. 8d.; it rose to 16s. 8d., the next week; to 20s. 8d.; and on the 14th October it reached 22s. 8d. It appears to me that this system, or anything like this system, must produce injury to the agriculturists, and that the farmers suffer equally with other classes, from that which they believe to be their safeguard. But, says the right hon. Baronet, "the new plan which 1 propose, and the machinery which I introduce, will obviate many of the objections of the present law. I introduce rests, which will baffle the fraudulent working of the averages." It is true that you lower the duty, but you leave a duty ranging between 20s. and 1s. You, therefore, leave ample opportunity for working the averages—you leave every chance for having a glut of corn at a time when it can be contemplated this long duty will arrive. It has been urged, and I admit the force of the objection, that in times of scarcity it will be very difficult to maintain a fixed duty. I will meet that objection, and I will answer it by a reference to Mr. M'Culloch. He says that if the ports are constantly open, if there is a regular trade in corn at a fixed duty, the supply would be perpetual; and that if there be a fixed duty we shall take away the chance of a great scarcity. I admit the force of the objection, but where there is a choice of evils—where we have to make our election between difficulties, I would confide in a fixed duty to be brought under the consideration of Parliament, rather than surrender the averages to the jobbers of Mark-lane. Whatever may be the opinions as to a fixed duty or the effect upon the commercial and manufacturing interests of this country, there is no doubt during the last four years millions of quarters of corn have been imported, and yet we have no trade. Trade is barter. Trade is the exchange of one commodity for another. When our demand for corn is desultory, the demand for our manufactures cannot be permanent. If there were a free-trade in corn, foreign countries would not pass laws intended to exclude our manufactures; they would not do as they now did, they would not pass retaliatory tariffs to protect their own domestic manufactures. It is not the agriculturist of this country, it is not the independent yeoman, it is not the farmer who expends his capital upon his land, it is not the man who dreads competition from foreign markets, but it is those in possession of the secrets of our mechanism —it is those who emulate us in industry and begin to rival us in skill, that your Corn-laws afford protection. It will hardly be contended, that the countries from which during the last four years we have drawn our supplies of corn, have taken the manufactures of this country in return in anything like a commensurate quantity. It appears, from a return laid upon the Table of the House, that the number of English vessels which entered the Baltic in ballast in the year 1839 was 1,100— not laden with your manufactures, but wholly in ballast. Look at the returns also before the House of the number of vessels which entered the port of Dantzic in the year 1838, distinguishing those which were laden and those in ballast. In 1838 there were 413 English vessels entering the port of Dantzic in ballast; and in the same year 417 vessels left the port of Dantzic laden with corn. This proves undeniably that when you now take corn from foreign countries your own manufactures are not taken in return. What effect has this system upon your currency—upon that metallic currency which the right hon. Gentleman had established, and over which he ought to watch with peculiar care? It seems to me to be impossible to establish a metallic currency, and to continue a system of laws such as those which exist. Corn must be paid for in bullion—the exchange is against us—the circulation is checked, and the inevitable result is a panic. I beg to call the attention of the House to the language of Mr. Huskisson in 1821, with reference to this view of the subject. In the famous report of 1821, the words which I shall read were applied by him to the existing system of Corn-laws—that of 1815. The words of Mr. Huskisson are as applicable to the existing system of the right hon. Baronet as if they were yesterday specifically composed to meet it. These are the words of Mr. Huskisson:— The inconvenient operation of the present Corn-laws, which appears to be less the consequence of the foreign corn brought into the country on the average of years than the manner in which the gram is introduced, is not confined to great fluctuation in price, and consequent embarrassment both to the grower and consumer, for the occasional prohibition has also a direct tendency to contract the extent of our commercial dealings with other states, and to excite in the rulers of those states a spirit of permanent exclusion against the manufactures of this country. In this conflict, the exclusion is injurious to both. The two parties, however, are not upon an equal footing. On our part, the prohibition must yield to the wants of the people; on the other side, there is no such overruling necessity, and inasmuch as the reciprocity of demand is the foundation of all means of payment, a large and sudden influx of corn might, under these circumstances, create a temporary derangement in the course of exchange, the effect of which, after the resumption of cash payments, might lead to a drain of specie from the Bank, the contraction of the circulation, a panic among the public banks, and a public dearth, as experienced in former years of scarcity. That was written by Mr. Huskisson in 1821, two years after the bill was passed which is rendered memorable by the association with it of the name of the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government. I am not one of those who are disposed to quarrel with the measure of the right hon. Baronet. I think that it evidenced the possession of great moral courage in the right hon. Baronet to effect and carry out such a measure. But it is said, do not make such a change in the relation of the agriculturist of this country as the alteration of the Corn-law would effect; do not rush upon a step which will occasion such a revolution in the position of the property of the agricultural interests of England. But, by the measure of 1819, the right hon. Baronet changed every contract in the kingdom—he altered the relation of landlord and tenant, the relation of debtor and creditor, and of every class in the country; he instituted a new order of things, to the results of which, the celebrated and learned author of "Corn and Currency" has so well alluded. But the right hon. Baronet was not then a Minister of the Crown; his solicitude for the interests of his country were unbiassed by any anxiety for the maintenance of his party. I wish he could now act with the same moral intrepidity, and heedless of all intimations given to him in another place, and would make the amendment which the country demands, in a spirit worthy of an Englishman, and would afford relief to the operatives of the country more effectual than any to be found in an acknowledgment, however eloquent, of their wretchedness, or in any unprofitable commiseration. It is said that the Corn-laws are not connected with the distress of the country—the existence of any distress is denied. The existence of it has been proved, and now I come to this part of the case. For my own part, when I find the Corn-laws affect the trade of this country—when I find the Corn-laws affect the manufactures of this country— the employment of the people—I find in them an adequate cause of that public distress which exists, and an adequate cause of that legitimate effect is, I think, fairly ascertained. If something effectual is not done in Parliament—in a Parliament in which the landed interests are said to have such an influence—I am afraid that the people of this country will be disposed to turn with resentful importunity from the mere expression of our sympathy, and will adopt a more stringent mode of proceeding; and as they have been led to believe that the Poor-law was not enacted from any profound solicitude for the poor, so they will think that the Corn-laws are retained from an exclusive regard to the feelings and interests of the rich. And I must say, that it would be hard indeed for this House to turn from the supplications for relief; it would be hard, if, while we, by our legislation affect the employment of the people, and induce the operatives of this country to ask for an asylum in those domiciles of woe which are provided for them, we refuse to afford them the means of supporting themselves in a manner becoming their ancient character and position. If charity is to be withheld, let not work, at all events, be refused. The people of England do not ask for charity, they do not go on their knees to ask any eleemosynary contributions—they ask for bread to produce work—for work to produce bread—they ask not for cheap bread indeed, but for more—they ask for the means of earning bread, whether it be cheap or costly. They call on us to strike off those fetters which cramp the industry of the country, and in doing so they wish us to consult, not merely their interest, but our own. I entirely agree in the sentiments which I have heard expressed by an hon. and learned Member to-night, that the agricultural and commercial interests of the country are not distinct. So far from their being distinct—so far from their being at variance, and conflicting with each other, they are the same. Trade depends upon agriculture, agriculture depends upon trade. I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, when he looks upon the splendid picture which the rural scenery of England presents, would draw from its contemplation one of the highest pleasures. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kent, a native English gentleman, must see in the very smoke with which our cities are enveloped from their furnaces, intimations of the means by which the agricultural interest is advanced, and the greatness of the country is achieved. No, Sir, the commercial and agricultural interests of England are not distinct. But if they were—if it was necessary to make a distinction between them—if in giving sustainment to both it is necessary to make a sacrifice of either, I should be disposed to say that the maintenance of the commerce of England ought, in the mind of every Englishman deserving the name, to be the object of paramount consideration. It is not, after all, by agriculture that this country is so distinguished; for what is this but a speck upon the scene? It is not to agriculture —it is not to the extent or fertility of our soil—it is not to any rare skill in calling forth the products of the earth;—no; it is the spirit of commercial enterprise by which Englishmen are distinguished from any other nation on the face of the earth. It is the indomitable perseverance in the glorious pursuit of our boundless traffic, by which every difficulty has been overcome, and every obstacle surmounted. It is to the unwearied energies of the country, to its amazing industry, to its untiring zeal, to the marvellous skill with which it has filled the earth with the products of its labour—it is this commerce, which has extended its influence to the boundaries of the earth—it is to these glorious causes that England is indebted for its prominence among the nations of the earth. Against our trade it was that our mighty adversary directed his principal attempts. He, however failed. Let us have a care lest we effect by our policy what Napoleon was unable to accomplish; let us have a care lest by an obstinate adherence to a system, which so many enlightened men— men not more enlightened than impartial have condemned as the source of so much mischief—which has already produced so much calamity, and threatens us with, perhaps, still greater injury—which contracts our commerce, which exposes our monetary system to perpetual disturbance, which reduces our operatives to a state of the most unhappy destitution—let us, too, have a care lest by a pernicious adherence to that fatal system we do not entail evils upon our country for which your talents, if you were the brightest your wisdom if you were the wisest and your virtues, if you were the most high-minded Minister to whom the existence of this country was ever entrusted, would be unable to find a cure.

Mr. Gladstone

Sir, I think that amongst the first words which fell from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman, I heard the expression of his astonishment that, at the present period, and after the experience which we have now enjoyed, her Majesty's Government should still be disposed in attempting the settlement of the question of the Corn-laws to adhere to the principle of a graduated scale. 1 do not mean to say that there are not Gentlemen in this House who might have uttered such a sentiment without raising in my mind any feeling of surprise; but most certainly I did entertain a feeling of surprise when I heard such sentiments uttered by the right hon. Gentleman. It is possible that my mind may have been labouring under some hallucination—it is possible there may be errors in the records of the proceedings of this House; but I think there have been occasions, and occasions not very remote, upon which the question of a Corn-law founded not only upon a graduated scale, but upon the old graduated scale, has been brought forward, and, marvellous as the fact may seem, the right hon. Gentleman has supported it. The right hon. Gentleman has selected the year 1838, and he says that in that year the graduated scale produced no less than thirty-five changes of duty. There was a motion for its removal in 1838. The right hon. Gentleman resisted that motion. But early in 1838 he did not know of these thirty-five changes which took place in the course of the year. The effect which that change produced in his mind could not be expected to be fairly perceived until the year 1839. The year 1839 afforded him another opportunity. In that year a motion of a most qualified description was brought forward for the correction of the monstrous evil against which the right hon. Gentleman has to-night exerted all the powers of his eloquence and declamation. In 1839 the hon. Member for Wolverhampton moved, that certain persons should be heard by counsel at the bar in support of a petition, complaining of the operation of the Corn-laws; and even to that most moderate request—even to that simple demand for the consideration of the question, the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to give and did give his absolute negative. Do not suppose that I complain of him for having changed his opinions—do not suppose that upon almost any question of politics—certainly least of all upon a difficult question relating to matters of trade and commerce and the rules of political economy—that I presume to question the motives or impeach the judgment of the right hon. Gentleman on account of the alteration which has taken place in his opinions. But when I consider that within the last two years he was himself found among the staunch defenders of these very laws in their most offensive form—that within these two years he was not willing to admit even of compromise or inquiry—I think the surprise he has expressed may well be expected to excite upon this side of the House, at least a corresponding sentiment. Now let us look to the argument, if I may so call it, of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman quotes the words of Mr. Huskisson in 1821. Is it quite fair in the right hon. Gentleman, of all men alive to quote the words of Mr. Huskisson in 1821? The right hon. Gentleman has quoted the words of Mr. Huskisson in that year against both the words and acts of Mr. Huskisson in every subsequent year of his life. He says these words were good against the scheme established by the present law. He knows that Mr. Huskisson supported the present law—he knows that he was in great part the author of a system in 1827 perhaps a few degrees less strong than the present law, but analogous to it. The right hon. Gentleman really quotes Mr. Huskisson in 1821 against Mr. Huskisson in 1828. The right hon. Gentleman ought to recollect that, perhaps in after times, some future Members of Parliament, engaged in a Corn-law debate, may treat him in a similar manner; and if they be fortunate enough to find any speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, when a staunch defender of the present stringent Corn-law, thus may be found citing the authority of the right hon. Gentleman in favour or high protecting duties, notwithstanding the speech just delivered by him. The right hon. Gentleman has retrodden those paths which in the very long debates which have taken place, were so well beaten by many hon. Members of this House, and as I particularly have had occasion to trespass on the indulgence of the House, and go into many details, I feel some scruple in following the right hon. Gentleman at any length through all the topics to which he has adverted. But the right hon. Gentleman was remarkably eloquent upon the subject of the relations of commerce and agriculture, and I regretted to hear his remarks. He said in the first instance there was an identity of interest between them, but he afterwards went into some supposititious cases of rivalry and opposition of interests, and I was far from sorry to hear all that he thought proper to say respecting the manufacturing skill and industry of England, but I Was dissatisfied to hear him rate rather low our agricultural skill and industry. He said it was not her superior skill in extracting the products of the earth that had given this country her prominent position among nations. I, on the contrary, certainly feel well convinced, and am prepared to maintain, that the very same skill and energy which have been so eminently conspicuous in the commercial and manufacturing greatness of England have likewise given to British agriculture a power and efficiency which h exceeds that of almost every other nation; and, feeling as I do, amidst these discussions, that nothing is more desirable than to check any disposition which may be found amongst certain classes to speak disparagingly of others. I lament, that the right hon. Gentleman, when speaking of the great ability and energy displayed in the pursuit of British commerce, should have attempted to diminish that confidence which I trust the agriculturists of the country will continue to feel from year to year, from their experience, both in the power of their soil, and the efficacy of the means which they apply to its cultivation, as compared with those of foreign countries. The right hon. Gentleman then adverted to a topic which is familiar, and even trite to all those who have attended to these debates, and complained of the operation of the Corn-laws, founded on the principle of a graduated scale, in diminishing and hampering our trade in foreign corn. I may repeat the observations which I ventured to make upon a former occasion. We are now at the end of a period of four bad harvests. The right hon. Gentleman says, if we had had a fixed duty upon corn, it would have led to a fixed import; that a fixed import would cause a fixed trade; and that a fixed trade would increase the demand for our manufactures abroad. I pass over the fact that he begs the question, Which is certainly a very important question, that an importation of corn from any given country will fee followed by an increased demand for our manufactures. In the course of a very long period of time it is probable such would be the case. ["Hear."] Yes; in a very long period of time. But look at the cases of the countries which are furnishing us at this moment with two or three times the value in raw materials of the manufactures which we send to them. Why is it, that they do not take more of our manufactures? If Russia does not take our manufactures for tallow and hemp, why should other countries be obliged, or in all cases be inclined to take our manufactures for corn? But, granting the case of the right hon. Gentleman, I do not wish to encourage a fixed trade in corn altogether independent as to its amount of our wants. I wish the trade in corn to be extended as far as is consistent with other and still more important interests. But, presuming a trade is established, still he cannot deny, that the extent of that fixed trade must necessarily be limited by our average demand. Suppose in common years we wanted a supply of 2,000,000 of quarters, I will grant, for argument's sake, that with a fixed duty we might obtain that quantity, and might expect to pay for it in manufactured goods. But what are the present circumstances? Four bad harvests have produced 10,000,000 quarters less than the average produce. How is that deficiency to be supplied by a fixed trade? A fixed trade would bring the quantity you usually require. A fixed trade might enable you to pay for the quantity you usually required in British manufactures. But here is a sudden demand to meet the deficiency of 10,000,000 quarters on the last four years. You must exhaust the foreign granaries—you must offer higher prices—you must pay in bullion. The very same arguments which have been adduced to exhibit the evils which have occurred during the last four years, will prove, that under any new system of a fixed duty, in case of a succession of four bad harvests, substantially the same circumstances must arise. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Liskeard, alluded to a rather different kind of argument—to the fact, that the Corn-laws diminish the demand for labour. It is with great satisfaction, that I perceive a disposition on the other side of the House to give up particular forms of argument against the Corn-laws. It is quite natural, that in the discussion of complicated interests, a number of fallacies should become current on both sides, and it is desirable they should be ex- ploded. One of the fallacies which was employed in the warfare on the hustings was the cry of cheap bread. Now, it is generally admitted in this House, that the cry of cheap bread considered in itself, means nothing that is necessarily beneficial to the labouring classes. We ought not to look to the mere wages of the labourer, but to his relative means—to his command of the power of enjoyment. The absolute price which he may be called on to pay for bread is in itself comparatively unimportant. With equal wages it is of immense importance; but the question is, what effect a change of this description would have upon wages? I rejoice, that the hon. Gentleman, instead of referring to the more exoteric doctrine of cheap bread, chose to argue the question on the demand for employment, and the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to shew, that the abolition of the Corn-laws, which would put land out of cultivation, would add to employment. 1 cannot help alluding to another cheering symptom which has manifested itself during these debates—that less has been said than in former years of the power of our foreign competitors to undersell British manufactures. Whatever may be the distress among our manufacturers at this moment, so far from foreign competition having produced it, on the contrary, foreign manufacture, has, I believe, suffered far more from British competition, than British manufacturers have suffered in neutral markets from foreign manufacturers. It has already been shown, by my right hon. Friend, at the head of the Government, that our exports, more especially of cotton yarn and goods, have greatly increased, and, that at the same time, the consumption in the home market, has also, upon an average of years, increased, so that it appears wrong to entertain such apprehensions as hare been avowed; and from patriotic, and not from party motives I rejoice, that less from foreign competition is to be dreaded, than had been surmised. I admit, that the competition of foreign rivals is formidable in some branches nor will I attempt to weaken any argument that has been used to show that British manufactures are entitled to some protection against some of those disadvantages; but I affirm that British manufacturers, taken as a whole, are able to beat their opponents in almost every market of the world. But the hon. Gentleman said, the effect of the Corn-laws is to limit the demand for labour. He spoke of the great hardships of the present state of things, and alluded to the report of Mr. Horner, who stated that in one place 32,000 persons were only partially employed, and 17,000 without employment, making 52,000 persons out of work. Undoubtedly this is a lamentable state of things, but the real question for the House to consider was, would a repeal of the Corn-laws remedy it? Now, setting aside all questions of cheap bread and foreign competition, and looking to the subject as regards the employment of the labouring classes, I will ask, does any Gentleman really believe that a sudden repeal of the Corn-laws would diminish the number of unemployed labourers? I do not say of the number of labourers unemployed in manufactures, but those of all classes. Is it possible that any man can suppose, whatever may be his opinion of the ultimate effect of the repeal of the Corn-laws on land—is it possible any man can doubt that a repeal of the Corn-laws would at once displace a vast mass of agricultural labour? This has been, to a great extent, treated as a landlord's question, but I will contend that, for the present generation, at least, it is more of a labourers' question. What is rent, which is said to be augmented by these laws? Now the most approved authorities in political economy have defined rent as the surplus produce the land yields after the cost of cultivation and the maintenance of the cultivator. This being so, and considering the many classes of land in cultivation, it is further taught by these writers, that the lowest class yields no rent, or at least that the returns are exceedingly small, and may be put out of account. If you raise the price of agricultural produce in any country, you would bring a much wider extent of land into cultivation, and therefore the poorer soils would be tilled and if the poorer soils in our country be cultivated through the rise of the price of agricultural produce, it follows that if you diminish prices, so as to limit production, that the effect must be to throw the poorer soils out of cultivation. This might diminish rents, but in the present extent of cultivation, it is clear that if you reduce rents, it must be by throwing certain lands out of cultivation, and you must, therefore, at the same time, throw out of employment a great body of labourers. It is also said that if the Corn-laws Were repealed, the agriculturists, instead of raising wheat to the present extent, would turn their fields into pasture. That is another view of the question. It may even be held, that by doing this, the landlords would maintain their rents undiminished; but is it not at least clear that the transfer from tillage to pasture would throw a vast number of labourers out of work? —It is evident, then, that throughout the country the support and the employment of agricultural labourers would be more endangered by a repeal of the Corn-laws than the rents of the landlords. I hope, now, that the practical result of those considerations will be to induce the House to approach this question in the calm temper recommended to them by a preceding speaker. Of all things I deprecate any violent legislation on this subject, because the effect would be to disturb the enormous mass of capital embarked in agricultural pursuits, to spread a panic amongst the cultivators of the soil, and to diffuse, perhaps in consequence of merely groundless apprehensions and fears, much real misery through the community. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard said, that one object was to attempt to preserve that certainty of price to the farmer which we did not give to other interests, by excluding foreign competition in certain states of the corn market. But the hon. and learned Gentleman should recollect that we attempt this because a security is already given to other interests which cannot be given to the farmer—that is, that while other interests have a legal protection afforded them, independent altogether of any reference to the quantity of the produce, and consequently to the price, no power can, in the opinion of nine-tenths of the Gentlemen present, give such a security to the farmer; and, therefore, the State may try and compensate the farmer for its incapacity to maintain any protecting duty when prices are high, by giving him a protection greater than that given to other interests, when prices are moderate or low. Nothing can be more fair, surely, in principle, setting apart for the moment, the policy of such a course, than that this inability on the part of the State, in one condition of the market, should be counterbalanced by a somewhat greater favour in another. The hon. and learned Gentleman also said, that in the markets of the country, under the old law, the consumer derived no benefit from the 1s. duty when the price was 73s.; that the foreign holder derived all the profit, that the saint amount, about 2,000,000 of quarters, would have come in under an 8s. duty, as actually did come in under the present law, and that too at prices not above 64s. Now, in the first place, we ought to guard against the fallacious assumption, that the effects of the old and the proposed law would be the same. Admitting the defective working of the old law, I believe that the new law, as shown in the course of these debates, and as declared by eminent mercantile authorities, including men of all parties, will have the effect of permanently removing, or at least of materially diminishing the inconvenient effects of the present system. But the hon. and learned Gentleman was too severe on the dead, to which class the law of 1828 might now be considered to belong, while, on the other hand, he claimed too much credit for a fixed duty. The hon. Gentleman said that at the price of 56s. that is to say, 64s., with 8s. duty deducted, the foreign holder of corn would be as much induced to bring corn to England as at 72s., that is to say, 73s., with 1s. duty deducted. But is it natural that the foreigners would go to such a distance, pay as much for transport, and pay as much to the original cultivator when the price he can obtain in England is only 56s. as when it is 72s.? Such a statement requires no refutation. But the new law is likely to give a sufficient encouragement to the foreign holder, and relief to the consumer at home. The hon. Gentleman, in calculating the loss which, as he supposed, was sustained by the consumer through the operation of the existing law during the past autumn, charged the rise of price, which he conceives was effected by practising upon the averages, on four times the number of quarters of corn which were returned to the inspectors. But, although on the whole year, the returns made to the inspectors may not represent above one-fourth of the consumption, yet, at the period of speculation, it was far otherwise. Both the quantities returned underwent a great increase, and the prices were also considerably above the general level, and many of the sales moreover were not bonâ fide but nominal. So that it would be a very great exaggeration indeed to treat the whole enhancement of price thus estimated as a loss sustained by the body of consumers upon the whole quantity of wheat required for their subsistence. I heard with great pleasure the able and temperate speech of the noble Viscount, the Member for Sunderland. But now that the House has determined by an overwhelming majority against a total repeal of the Corn-laws, and against a fixed duty, what is it that we are discussing? The hon. Gentleman, who last spoke, called the new law the precursor of ultimate change, and quoted Burke, to show that a Government ought not to tamper with provision-laws. But a Government does not tamper with a subject when it brings forward a measure, admitted to be practicable, a measure which can and which will be carried, and which is not a speculation, or a mere political manœuvre. I do not mean to say that the measure of last year, though introduced under suspicious circumstances, was not a sincere and conscientious measure; but the word tamper was a two-edged weapon, and it bears sharply certainly on the propositions made last year by the Gentlemen-now in opposition. I affirm that the present Government does not tamper with the Corn-laws in bringing forward a measure which is allowed to be a relief and which is allowed to be practicable. Even the noble Viscount, the Member for Sunderland, in his candid speech, while stating that he did not believe the Corn-laws to be the sole cause, or the principal cause but to be a cause of the present distress, said the proposed alteration would be a very substantial benefit, for it would mitigate the restrictions, and diminish the evils now felt—and he added, that though he had no objection to vote with his hon. Friend, the Member for Wallingford, because he believed the opposition would be ineffectual, yet if he believed the result of the junction would be to reject the bill, nothing on earth would induce him to give his vote against it. This was the declaration of one of the most able advocates of a fixed duty. Those are the true tamperers with the Corn and provision-laws who bring forward a measure which they know they cannot carry. I do not question their intentions; but if they knew so little of political affairs, or of their position, as to deal with a question involving the most vital interests of society, agitating the country from end to end without a chance or a hope of settling it, those who attempted to deal with such a question demanding the utmost strength of a Government long after they had lost all strength whatever, and when they could have no rational hope of bringing their efforts to a conclusion, the Government which so acted tampered in truth, and tampered most unwarrantably, with the Corn-laws. With regard to the graduated scale, I should be ready to show, if it were necessary at this stage of the discussion, that it is possible to conceive a graduated scale which might operate without inconvenience to trade, and be in every way beneficial both to the consumer and producer. But I will content myself after all the argument that has already passed on this matter with reminding the right hon. Gentleman, and those who think with him, that though there is no such thing as ideal perfection on this subject, yet there is great parliamentary authority in be half of a graduated scale, and if the agriculturists have been in a delusion with regard to it, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman to view them with something of compassion and sympathy, when he recollects that till lately he has been a partaker in their delusion. Surely it is a matter worthy their consideration that the landed interest possess a large share in the representation of the country, and even if in error must have their errors lightly dealt with. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard bestowed much compassion on my right hon. Friend on account of the uneasiness which it is supposed he must undergo from the state of feeling among the agriculturists. Why, if ever there was a time in which the agriculturists have done themselves honour by the feelings they have generally exhibited, by the good sense and practical prudence they have generally, or with but rare exceptions displayed in the way they have regarded this matter, the present is that time. [" Hear."] I am sincere in that declaration; I think it is difficult to look at the details of the present law, and not see that the agriculturists of England are making a considerable sacrifice. I do not say that they are sacrificing too much—I am far from contending that they are sacrificing more than the commercial and the general interests of the country have a right to demand; but at a time when parties have been sharpened by political excitement, have been pitted together in the field of a general election, have been heated by every stimulant which those who ought to have known better could apply—when we considered the exaggerated views that, from these circumstances, parties have been led to entertain, I will say that it is honourable to the agriculturists of England that they have accepted the present proposition, have supported it, and are pre- pared to carry it through as an amendment of the existing law. Let those who think that a maximum duty of 20s. is a prohibitive duty, put themselves in the position of those who think their interests are bound up with the Corn-laws. I do not say that it is so, hut let them assume that the agriculturists think it is so. Is it no material change, instead of a duty gradually rising with the price, to produce the present scale instead of the protection that the law had given them for the last 140 years? [An hon. Member: The protection has not existed so long.] If the hon. Gentleman would examine the documents that have been published on the subject, he will find that Corn-laws have existed with a maximum duty of 20s. and upwards for the last 140 years, from the beginning of the last century; and now that the maximum duty imposed an wheat is 20s. a quarter, it is a fair subject of praise to the agriculturists that they have surrendered nearly half of their protection. I do not believe that the agriculturists have surrendered too much. I believe that they can afford to part with a portion of their protection, but I will say that it is laudable and honourable in them, standing in their position, both in the country and in Parliament, to have made that sacrifice to the other classes of their countrymen. But, after all, the question is as to this supposed tampering with the Corn-laws. It might be, as the hon. and learned Member said, like taking a brick out of a wall, but if that brick was mouldered away, and they took it out and put in a sound one, I am not sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not call that an improvement. The noble Viscount said that this was but the precursor of ulterior change; far be it from him to say that in matters of trade and production it is possible for Parliament to exercise such a gift of foresight, as to make provision by anticipation for generations to come. If hon. Gentlemen look back at the course of history, they would find that there had hardly ever been a period of ten, fifteen, or twenty years, without some new law relating to corn. The noble Viscount had also objected to it, that it is not a practical measure; and he came forward with his old scheme of a fixed duty. The noble Viscount spoke of the proposed measure as chimerical,—is not the doctrine of a fixed duty in the present state of men's minds a chimerical proposition? If anything could be called chimerical, it is the duty of 4s. or 5s. a-quarter supported this, year by the noble Viscount. The noble Viscount alleged, also, that this was an unsettling measure, and not a final one, All finality is comparative, but what is the finality of the noble Viscount, the Member for Sunderland? Last year it was 8s., but this year it is 5s., and before two years were passed, I am afraid the duty would vanish altogether. But suppose, if I may make such a supposition, that Parliament should adopt the principle of a fixed duty; let them suppose, if their imaginations were elastic and bold enough, that by some incomprehensible means a law should pass in the present Session, similar to the measure proposed by the late Government, what would be the consequence? Who would be pledged to maintain it? What body would support it? What would be the general conviction of the country with regard to it? Is it not clear as the sun at noon-day, that on the Corn-laws, the country is divided into two parties, one objecting to all protection, the other attached to the principle of a graduated scale? Who, then, are the few solitary champions of a fixed duty by which I mean a duty over and above a mere nominal rate, a duty of 6s. or 8s,; Is it not common in this House to hear hon. Gentlemen declare, as the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone had declared, that they liked a fixed duty, as it was the shortest way to arrive at no duty at all? If we could divide the House in the same way as they sometimes took the votes in another Chamber over the water—if we could take a poll of the House on the questions of no duty at all, of a graduated scale, and of a fixed duty, can it be believed, that one-sixth of the House would vote for a fixed duty? And how do the few champions of a fixed duty stand among themselves? What is their consistency on this vital point? He saw three of them opposite; the first, the noble Lord, the Member for London, was for a fixed duty, descending suddenly to 1s. at a famine price; near him sat the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard who said, that the descent to a minimum duty was the very sting of a sliding scale; then the noble Viscount, the Member for Tiverton, another neighbour of theirs held the doctrine, that a protection duty could not be justified at all, but that if a duty were levied on corn, it ought to be a duty for revenue. Now, a more extraordinary pro- position than this never reached my ears, nor one of which the noble Viscount who proposed it, ought to be more inclined to repent. When they laid a duty on a foreign article, which came into competition with a corresponding British article, would it do to call it a revenue duty? The noble Viscount held the doctrine of a revenue duty in words, and contradicted it in fact; but I do not believe, that any genuine free-trader would be content with the noble Viscount's abandonment of the word, and his retention of the thing, signified by that word. Here, then, were three champions of a fixed duty and all of them utterly at issue with each other, as to the amount of it, and as to the principles on which it should be levied. I have troubled the House much longer than I intended, and I will now come to a conclusion. The plan proposed is a measure, that practical men may adopt, and have adopted; its details have not, perhaps, the unanimous, but they have the general concurrence of the agricultural and commercial bodies. It is a measure of considerable relief, it has been declared even by its opponents, to be a material improvement of the present law. It is a measure against which not the least able and perhaps the most tenacious of those who are about to vote against it, has said he would not take any step in opposition, if he did not know, that that opposition would be unavailing. Can anything justify more completely the position in which her Majesty's Government stood, as supporters of a measure which as they believe will be acceptable to the country at large, and will be considered to be a boon by all the great and varied interests affected by its operation.

Lord J. Russell said,

the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, with all the ability which he had devoted to the subject, had, no doubt, felt the extreme difficulty of defending the bill before the House. Had he not felt that difficulty, he would scarcely have resorted to that mixture of political imputation and accusation of various kinds against the late Government, which was totally unnecessary for any other purpose than to disguise the weakness of his defence of the present measure. The right hon. Gentleman knew full well that that fixed duty which he said had so few supporters was in the opinion of one noble Viscount who would vote for the present measure—he meant the noble Viscount who represented the commercial community of Liverpool—that which was commercially the best principle to be adopted in legislation; the right hon. Gentleman knew quite well that the principle of a fixed duty was that of which commercial men generally, irrespective of party distinctions, approved. Feeling fully the pressure of that conviction upon him, it was, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman had been obliged to resort to political imputations, and disguise the weakness of his attack on the principle of a fixed duty. The right hon. Gentleman knew also that with respect to this measure it had been said, that it was not expected to afford any material relief to the existing distress. He knew that the measure now before the House made really no variation as regarded the principle of a protecting duty; he knew, too, that commercially speaking another principle was the good one, and yet, knowing all these things, he had spoken on the question without offering one argument in favour of the present plan, or of discussing the objections against it. The right hon. Gentleman said, he should like to adopt the test that was resorted to in some foreign chamber—that he should like to ascertain how many there were for a graduated scale, how many for a fixed duty, and how many for a total repeal. Why, if the question could really be fairly discussed, irrespective of other considerations, how many Members on the opposite side did the right hon. Gentleman suppose would declare for the graduated scale of the present law? His noble Friend who sat near him (Viscount Howick), who had spoken most ably on the question that night, had said, what would force itself upon every reasonable mind, though not perhaps to the extent to which the noble Viscount had gone, that if by any coalition of different parties in that House the present bill could be defeated, he would not concur in that vote j but that was a very different thing from a natural conjunction to throw out the bill. His noble Friend felt, that if those who were for a fixed duty, as he was, could get a majority to consent to throw out this bill, that then he would see a better introduced. The right hon. Gentleman had brought various charges against the late Government, charges of political manœuvres, and of their having brought forward their measure of last year when they had no expectation of carrying it. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman, that his opinion then was, that if they (the late Government) brought forward propositions founded upon sound principles of free-trade, they would be able to carry imme- diately a great part of those measures, and that if they could not succeed in immediately carrying a Corn Bill, yet that public opinion would grow so favourably towards a change as that they would ultimately be able to carry a sound measure on that subject. In his dearth of arguments, the right hon. Gentleman might make unworthy imputations, but he thus declared what had been his expectations in bringing forward a proposition for a change in the Corn-laws. He had felt on that occasion, and so also had all the Members of the then Government—that in proposing measures founded upon the principles of free-trade they could not deal with the questions of sugar and timber, and leave the great question of the Corn-laws untouched. They felt that it would not have been just to the country to have dealt with those great questions, and to have postponed the Corn Bill. But how were they met on that occasion? Gentleman who had sat and voted with them on general principles, Mr. Handley for instance, declared that being favourable to the Corn-law as it stood, and wishing to maintain it, they would vote against the Government on the sugar and timber propositions, or on any other question that would go to effect the existing Corn-laws. Yet those very hon. Members were afterwards taunted with their attachment to the Administration, because they continued generally to act with a Government which had avowed itself favourable to a change in the Corn-laws. This he would venture to say with reference to that portion of the subject, that if the constituencies of Lincolnshire desired to have for their representatives those who were prepared to maintain the present Corn-laws, they would have done better to have returned Mr. Handley as their Member, with the noble Lord who now represented them, who at least avowed themselves supporters of the existing Corn-laws, than to have adopted those who were for a change in the Corn-laws, by voting for the present proposition. So much for that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech which related to the political character of the measures of the late Government. He repeated, that they brought forward the proposal for a change, because they thought the circumstances of the country required it; Viscount Melbourne having always declared, that the altertion of the Corn-laws was a question of time and circumstances, and the circumstances of last year, in their opinion, then required the change they proposed.

But those who were then opposed to the late Government, carefully concealed their intention of altering the Corn-laws—they let it be understood that they were in favour of the existing law, and now, having had the advantage of that opinion, and many of them having been pledged to the maintenance of the existing Corn-laws, they came forward in support of a measure of change. His noble Friend, the Member for Lincolnshire, had already quoted the pledges given by those hon. Members on that subject, and he had heard no denial of the opinions so quoted from any hon. Member who was affected by them. The right hon. Gentleman among other things, had said that the late Government had approached this question after four bad harvests. The right hon. Gentleman had also expressed a wish to do away with all fallacies on that subject. Why, that statement itself was a fallacy. No doubt the harvest in considerable portions of the country might have been considered unfavourable, as compared with others, but while the harvests were insufficient for the maintenance of the people, it was not right to say that the measure of the late Government was introduced after four bad harvests. As population increased, it became necessary to cultivate lands with wheat less favourably situated as to soil and climate, and which required longer time and finer weather for their full production. But that was one of the consequences of the Corn-laws themselves. The right hon. Gentleman said, that this was more a labourer's question than that of the landlords and farmers. He admitted, that with respect to labourers, there had been great exaggeration, in maintaining that, even if the Corn-laws were at once totally repealed, there would be an immense extent of land thrown out of cultivation. There was, however, this to be considered—that the population of the country had rapidly increased during the last twenty years. An enlightened writer had said, that you must either improve the land at present in cultivation, or bring into cultivation 2,400,000 acres more of land, in order to supply the surplus quantity of food required in 1840 over that of 1831. That increase of population might render the admission of foreign corn absolutely necessary, and it therefore by no means followed that any great extent of land would be thrown out of cultivation by a repeal of the Corn-laws. But with a moderate fixed duty no danger whatever need be apprehended. If the fear were a natural fear, then, as a labourer's question, a diminution in the price of corn by the admission of it at a low price would be an advantage to the labourer. As a labourer's question, therefore, a change in the Corn-laws was desirable. The whole of the labourers employed in agriculture were, as regarded food, in precisely the same condition as the artisans of the manufacturing towns. Notwithstanding the opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, as to the effect of foreign competition upon our manufactures, he believed that for a great many years past, whatever might have been the state of the Corn-laws, foreign manufacturers had increased, foreign machinery had improved, and a great extent of capital had been devoted to manufactures in the continental countries in Europe. The consequence of that must be a formidable competition. As stated by Mr. Huskisson in his admirable speech of 1830, the manufacturers of England had no means of meeting that competition but by diminishing the wages of labour and the cost of production; and one of the ways of reducing the cost of production was by the use of machinery which thereby reduced the expense of manual labour. Mr. Huskisson was right in that principle. He said, that if the English manufacturer went to a foreign market and could not command the price he chose, and the price he formerly received, he must reduce it to the level of the foreign manufactured article. It had been always said, that the home market would supply all defects, and that there it was, that the home manufacturer had ever found his best sale. But then by Corn-laws you put such a price upon corn, that the consumers of manufactures were obliged to expend a greater portion of their wages upon food, the consequence of which was, a diminution in the sale of their manufactures. The diminution of 3,000 bales of cotton a week during the last year was a tolerably strong proof of that. In the first place, we had now a foreign competition in manufactures to a greater extent than hitherto; and that competition was increasing year after year; and in the second place, that competition had the effect of diminishing the quantity of food in this country as compared with its population. Now, both those circumstances tended to produce distress. It might naturally be supposed, that such causes would produce such effects. And had those effects been wanting? They know but too well, that they now existed, and that in many districts throughout the country thousands were obliged, by the want of employment, to consume as much food only as with difficulty kept them alive. In such a condition of affairs, it appeared to him, that the remedy, a remedy which would produce a great and immediate effect, would be to make a large change in import duties of all kinds, but especially in those of corn. He therefore did not agree in the view of the right hon. Gentleman, whom he understood to say, that we were now suffering one of those ordinary transitions which took place in the commerce and manufactures of the country—that after a great production there was usually considerable distress—that that distress by the operation of natural causes would pass away; and that in considering the Corn-laws it was only necessary to deal with a part of the subject, to correct their minor defects—to divest them of their excess of protection, instead of looking to a great change in them for the purpose of relieving the distress which prevailed in the country. He differed from the right hon. Gentleman in that view of the question, and he therefore objected to the remedy which the right hon. Gentleman proposed to apply. There was one argument which he had used at the commencement of these discussions which hon. Gentlemen opposite, and the right hon. Baronet in particular, seemed anxious to deal with. It referred to our trade in corn with America. The right hon. Baronet felt it was a great disadvantage, that we should not be able to introduce corn and flour from America as from other countries. There was no doubt that he felt it would be of importance to our commercial relations with that great and thriving country, that we should be able to carry on a trade in corn with it; but he felt likewise, that the sliding-scale was an obstacle to that trade. He felt, and must feel, that if a merchant sent for a cargo of corn, and that on its arrival there was a duty of 8s. or 10s., he would be able to import it at a profit; but, that if he had to pay 18s. or 20s. he must sustain a loss, and that an obstacle was thus thrown in the way of the trade. The right hon. Gentleman attempted to get rid of the difficulty by instancing a voyage of unusual rapidity which took place about two years and a half ago. With some voyages from America you might, no doubt, obtain corn in time for a profitable sale; but he asked whether it would not be better to frame the law in such a way as to prevent that difficulty altogether — a difficulty which was inseparable from the sliding-scale, and which undoubtedly placed America in a worse position as regarded the corn trade with England than any other country. Consider the vast extent of territory, greater than that of all England, which was capable of producing wheat in America, and consider the thousands of your people who might be fed with that corn. And yet they were to witness a Parliament sitting in England, and a Congress sitting in America,—they were to witness these two Legislatures of the most free and enlightened nations in the world, interposing an obstacle by the agency of a sliding-scale to the enjoyment of this blessing. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the great quantity of corn which the price of 72s.. would admit, which the price of 56s. and a duty of 8s. would not. But the real question was, whether the corn could be introduced with profit. If it appeared, that the price of 56s., with a duty of 8s., would yield a profit equal to that which was obtained in other commercial transactions, then would the merchant undertake the voyage. The right hon. Gentleman said, that the price of 72s. offered a greater inducement. No doubt it did. It offered the inducement, as stated in a pamphlet by a Conservative writer, of 100 per cent.; but, on the other hand, there might be a loss of 50 per cent, by the venture. The merchant might say, "It is true we may at one time lose, but by the operation of your sliding-scale we may make up for that loss by immense profits." But was that the proper footing upon which the laws of this country should be placed as regarded the importation of corn? The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the protection to the agriculturists, which he said had existed for 140 years, and of which he declared the bill under consideration to be a very material modification. Now, the policy of the law; and he should not have referred to this part of the subject, had it not been for the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman —the policy of the law up to 1804, had been very different from what the right hon. Gentleman had represented, or from what was now sought to be enacted. The policy of the law during the greater part of that time was, he conceived, to have three different duties—first, a high or prohibiting duty; then a moderate duty, extending over a long range of prices; and lastly a minimum duty, of a very low amount. In 1670, during the reign of King Charles 2nd, when prices ranged at from 55s. to 82s. 6d., the duty was 8s. 3d. In 1699, after the revolution, the duty, at the same prices, or over a range of no less than 27s., was only 8s. 7d. In 1703, when prices were from 55s. to 82s. 6d., there was a duty of 8s. 8d.; and in 1747, the duty when prices ranged at the same amounts, was only increased to 9s. 3d. There was, therefore, during all that period, when prices were at 55s., at which rate it was now proposed to levy a duty of 18s., there was, during all that time,—namely, from 1670 to 1774, a period of more than 100 years, a duty of only 8s. or 9s. per quarter. But what was the change that then took place? Was it to give a higher protection to the agriculturists against the foreign importers? Why, shortly after that time, when prices were at 49s. 6d., instead of there being a duty of 8s., there was only imposed a nominal duty of 6d.; and that condition of things remained until 1791— prices being, as he believed, during all that period, more steady and certain than they were almost ever known. From 1791 to 1804 there was, at the average rate of 55s., a nominal duty of only 6d. The law of 1804 imposed a duty of 24s. 3d., when the price was 63s.; so that, from 1670 to 1804, so far from there being a greater protection, there existed a fixed duty of 8s., instead of which they now proposed to impose a duty of 20s., sliding down by slow degrees to 1s., and which they were bold enough to stand there and declare to be a mitigation of the old law. In 1804, after several years of scarcity, and during a depressed state of the currency of the country, an attempt was made to carry up the duties to a higher price. Another measure was also passed in 1815, but these measures were founded on the circumstances of the time; they bore the same marks of being framed to meet the depreciated condition of our currency. Now, however, that by the Currency Bill of 1819, the measure introduced and successfully carried by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government—now that that bill secured to them a metallic currency, based upon payments in gold—now that that bill was in operation, he could see no reason why they should not go back to the liberal principles of their ancestors, and, instead of imposing duties more stringent, should pass a measure akin to that on which they had thought fit to act throughout a long series of years. It would be borne in mind, that at the time the principle of the present law was first assented to, the principle of prohibition was the aim of all statesmen. The same principle was applied to cotton, silks, and other fabrics, and it was not until 1825, when Lord Ripon and Mr. Huskisson, each in their several departments, showed the erroneous and indefensible nature of this principle, that the law with regard to manufactured articles was changed from one of prohibition to one of moderate protection. He believed, that the trades which had in those days the most loudly exclaimed against that change were among the very trades which had derived the greatest benefits from it. Our silk and glove trades had prospered under the change; other manufactures had derived decided advantages from the opening of the trade, and what they now said was, apply the same successful principle to articles of human food; and as you formerly refused, though much pressed by those interests, to be deterred from changing the law by the outcries of the silk and glove manufacturers, so now do not be misled by the equally groundless apprehensions of agriculturists, to whom there is every reason to believe similar benefits will as surely result. But even with respect to agriculturists, there was a case in point. When the prohibitory principle was changed, there were, he remembered, great objections taken on their parts to the proposed admission of foreign wool at a low rate of duty. The Duke of Richmond had moved committee after committee, with the view of restoring the original state of the law, but far from justifying the fears of the agriculturists, the result was an increase in the home production of wool and greater prosperity in that branch of farming occupation. Why then, he asked, when all their theoretical principles recommended it, and when they found by experience, that those principles were true in practice—why, he asked, did they declare that system to be unsound with respect to one article which they found to be perfectly sound with regard to other articles? There was a reason, perhaps, for the rejection of the principle under such circumstances — a reason which was political rather than economical—a reason depending on the state of parties in that House, rather than on the views of the thinking part of the nation—a reason which proceeded rather from a wish on the part of the Government to secure their supporters, than from any sound consideration of commercial policy. The right hon. Baronet himself had told them of the apprehension he felt, that he should be doing too much. It was true, that to a certain extent he had carried his point for a change of the law against the opinion of his agricultural supporters; but by what arguments had they been induced to join him in making this change? Why, the arguments used to obtain their acquiescence to this bill would have been sufficient to induce them to support a much greater alteration. What were those arguments? Did they refer to the distressed state of the country? Why, those who objected to the alteration contended, and the right hon. Baronet himself had expressed an opinion, that this measure would make no material alteration in the condition of our population, because the existing Corn-law was not the cause of the existing distress. Did the Government, then, obtain the concurrence of the agriculturists by arguments based on the principles which Adam Smith and Mr. Huskisson had compounded? On the contrary, although those principles had been long established arid relied on among commercial men, they had not yet, he believed, the concurrence of the agriculturists. The real argument used was, that if the farmers did not consent to this alteration, they would have a change in the Administration, and a party would come into office who would treat them still worse then they were treated now. The right hon. Baronet had scared them from their propriety by telling them, that if they did not follow his lantern, in order to come to that House, they might expect, as they walked through Palace-yard alone, and in darkness, to meet with the ghost of the late Government. It was by such arguments as these that the agricultural body were persuaded, and not by references to any sound principles of policy or expediency. And if such arguments were good for the change proposed, they were good also, he argued, for a change still greater and more important. For his own part, if such use was to be made of the late Ministry he was quite willing that they should make a still further use of them. They might say, if they pleased, as he understood some one had said in Lincolnshire, they will abolish all protection, therefore let us vote for those who will secure to us as much as we can get. This would be an inducement, no doubt, to the right hon. Baronet to make still further changes, He might say, "they (the ex-Ministers) will give you no duty at all; I will give you a fixed duty of 8i., which you will think not much better." Then, perhaps, would follow a state of things which he should like to see—not a return of the late Ministry to office, for in the present state of that House it was obvious that it would be impossible for them to carry on the Government, but the establishment of an Administration under the auspices of his Grace the Duke of Buckingham, and an attempt by the agriculturists unsupported to carry on the Government of the country. He should desire nothing better than to gee such a specimen of an Administration as that. He felt assured that it would establish the right hon. Gentleman more firmly than he was now established, but he should not object to that consequence, if it were shown that it would be impossible for those who were opposed to any alteration of the Corn-laws to form or to carry on a Government, and that really sound principles should be introduced into our whole commercial policy from beginning to end. One circumstance had struck him in the course of this debate, which showed how much a discussion of a bill of this sort changed for the worse the disposition of the House. When they usually legislated, they legislated against some evil; for example, bills were introduced to remedy the evils arising from the present manner of building in cities, or to enable an inquiry to be instituted to ascertain the truth with respect to frauds in Exchequer-bills, or to prevent the bad consequences which would arise from the dissolution of a certain class of marriages contracted in Ireland. Such was the general course of legislation; it was directed to remedy some evil existing in the country. But now, when country Gentlemen spoke, they always assumed as an evil to be guarded against, a low price of corn. It was said, "Corn is such a price at Dantzic or Odessa, and if you let in foreign corn you will have it here at no higher price than 45s. or perhaps even 40s. the quarter, and there is no saying to what price meal, and flour, and bread may sink." They thought nothing more need be said when they had shown what was actually the price in foreign countries, and that corn would be at a similar price here, and considered that an evil which Parliament ought by all means to prevent. He said they ought to proceed on totally different principles, and he did not wish that corn should be sold at 54s. or 56s., but that it should be sold at the cheapest price compatible with justice to the agricultural interest. He would not impose upon the British farmer the task of bringing corn to market loaded with imposts which were laid upon him; but which were not laid upon his competitors. He said, if there were such imposts, give the agriculturist an equivalent protection, and let him be placed on an equal footing with those whose competition he had to encounter. The lower the price of corn could be brought down consistently with that object the better. His belief was, if the House would reject this bill, and if they would assume the virtue of really legislating upon sound principles, that without very much diminishing the price of corn in this country they would produce a much greater abundance of employment, and in that way they would enable the people to obtain a much greater abundance of food He believed that if they would legislate upon such principles.; the trade with America and the northern countries of Europe would exceedingly increase. He believed that any financial difficulties which they might have to meet would be overcome by such freedom of trade, and by the consequent general increase of the commerce and wealth of the country. He believed that in that general increase of commerce and wealth, and especially in the increase of manufactures, the landed interest would find their truest sources of prosperity; that, whatever might be the temporary apprehensions of weak and narrow-minded men, they would soon find that the principles assumed as the basis of their legislation were really just principles, and that here, and throughout Europe and America, their example would be looked to for generations to come.

Sir R. peel

said, Sir, I must in the first place offer my acknowledgments to the noble Lord for the liberal offer which he has been good enough to make to me of the 8s. duty. The noble Lord says I should be perfectly welcome to take possession of the 8s. duty, and propose it as the measure of Government, and that he thinks my friends and supporters would be compelled to sanction that measure or any other which I may propose, and that I should hear no taunt from him if I adopted that measure. Now, I do not adopt the measure of the noble Lord, because 1 disapprove of it; I disapproved of it when in opposition, and stated the grounds on which I was led to form that opinion. The noble Lord, it appears from what he said to-night, was aware, during last Session, that I should probably propose some alteration in the Corn-laws. He cannot, therefore, taunt me with any inconsistency in bringing forward a measure for the amendment of the Corn-laws. The noble Lord, wishing to secure two Members for Lincolnshire, intimated his opinion to the constituency that they had better support Mr. Handley and the noble Lord the present member for that county, as they might be quite sure that the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman would give their cordial support to the existing system of Corn-laws, whereas it was perfectly clear that I intended to propose an alteration, and that those who would succeed the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman would probably support such a scheme. The noble Lord, therefore, must have been prepared for such a measure as the one I now propose. If I were to propose an 8s. duty I could not defend it on the principles of the noble Lord. He tells us that he does not wish that corn should be at a higher price than is consistent with justice to the agricultural interest. It is incumbent on him, therefore, to tell us what justice to the agriculturist is. I apprehend that he will labour under the same difficulty as he thinks I do. I am not exactly aware of the distinction in principle here between the noble Lord and myself. I have been excessively blamed for intimating an opinion that corn might probably be hereafter at a price from 54s. to 58s., and the noble Lord distinctly says to-night—that is the consolation he gives the agriculturists—that with an 8s. duty he does not apprehend there will be any material difference in the price. Why, if the noble Lord means the present price of corn, I cannot agree with him. My opinion is, that under my law, the price of corn, taking the average of the last four years, at 62s to 64s., will be less than in those years. If you adopt the scale of duties which I propose, I must own I think there will be a reduction in the price of corn from any such general averages as 62s. or 64s. I should not have thought it necessary to refer to the speech made on bringing forward the bill, and should have submitted to all the misconstructions and misrepresentations of what I said, if the noble Lord had not again repeated them. I have been told that I said on that occasion that I did not contemplate that any relief whatever would be afforded by it to the commercial distress, and therefore half the gentlemen who have spoken on the other side have said to my hon. Friends, "Why do you support this measure, from which the author of it himself declares there will be no mitigation of the existing commercial distress?" I beg to refer now to what I did say on that subject. Here is a report of what I said, which I did not correct in any way. I am always surprised at the general fidelity with which the reports of what passes here are given, and I take it as being an ordinary report, uncorrected by myself. I found, on bringing forward the scheme, a general attempt to create excitement and agitation throughout the country by declaring that the whole of the existing commercial distress might be attributed to the Corn-laws. I found that many persons were suffering great privations, and I found strenuous and combined efforts made to inflame their passions by representing the Corn-laws as the cause of the manufacturing distress, and the great agricultural interest of this country as solely actuated in their maintenance of the Corn-laws by pecuniary and corrupt motives. The language I made use of with reference to this point was as follow:— I feel bound to declare, that I cannot attribute the distress, to the extent in which it was by some supposed imputable, to the operation of the Corn-laws. I do not view with those feelings of despondency with which some are inclined to regard them, the commercial prospects of this country. Those were the words I made use of, and the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, to whose speech I listened with the greatest attention, and I may add also, from the moderation of its tone, as well as from its ability, with great satisfaction, states, that in that respect, he takes a view not materially different from mine. I do think I should be practising a delusion if I said, that the alteration of the Corn-laws would produce material and immediate mitigation of the commercial distress. That was the qualified way in which I stated this opinion. I added, that While I admit the existence of commercial distress, while I deplore the sufferings which it has occasioned, and sympathise with those who have unfortunately been exposed to privations, I feel it my duty, in the first place, to declare that, after having given to this subject the fullest consideration in my power, 1 cannot recommend the proposal which I have to make by exciting a hope, that it will tend materially and immediately to the mitigation of that commercial distress, That was the language 1 adopted, and 1 do believe that the effect of the Corn-laws has been greatly exaggerated. I said, I thought there were other causes which had done much more to produce distress; and I declared, that I did not despond, nor did I believe that the resources of the country were exhausted, and our manufacturing prosperity ruined. I said, I thought there were other causes in operation which would account, not altogether, but in a material degree, for the present distress. This is one of the misrepresentations to which, in the course of ten nights' debate, I have been constantly subjected. 1 have been subjected to the imputation of having brought forward this measure, without the slightest hope that it would contribute in the least to restore commercial prosperity. It has been said, that I declared that the object of the law was to fix the price of corn at 54s. or 56s., or at least to insure its never verging more than from 54s. to 58s. I beg again to refer to what I really did say:— Nothing can be more difficult, than to attempt to determine the amount of protection required for the home producer. I am almost afraid even to mention the term ' remunerating price,' because I know how necessarily vague must be the idea which is attached to it. The price requisite in- order to remunerate the home grower must necessarily vary; a thousand circumstances must be taken into account before you can determine, whether a certain price will be a sufficient remuneration or not; and the same difficulty occurs when we attempt to determine on adjusting the scale of duties. … I cannot say, on the other hand, that I am able to see any great or permanent advantage to be derived from the diminution of the price of corn beyond the lowest amount I have named, if I look at the subject in connexion with the general position of the country, the existing relations of landlord and tenant, the burdens upon land, and the habits of the country. When 1 name this sum, however, I must beg altogether to disclaim mentioning it as a pivot or remunerating price, or any inference that the Legislature can guarantee the continuance of that price; for I know it to be impossible to effect any such object by a legislative enactment. It is utterly beyond your power, and a mere delusion to say that, by any duty, fixed or otherwise, you can guarantee a certain price to the producer. It is beyond the reach of the Legislature." I said, that all you could do was, to determine the price at which you would permit competition with the foreign grower, but you could not guarantee the producer a fixed price, or answer for its maintenance at between 54s. and 58s. For this report, as I said before, I am not in the slightest degree responsible; but, as far as my recollection serves me, it is exactly in correspondence with what I did say. The noble Lord, selected a particular instance with respect to imports from the United States. I certainly did mention a particular instance in which an import had taken place from the United States in a very short period. An hon. and gallant Officer opposite (Sir C. Napier) said, I ought not to rely on that case as an indication of the length of voyage under all circumstance, and desired that there might be produced an account of the length of the voyage by ships importing corn from the United States. I have it now before me, with respect to New York, the chief port from which corn is brought into England, giving the length of voyage of all ships from New York to Liverpool in 1841. The number of ships was thirty, and the average duration of the voyage was twenty-three days; and that being the case, if you do permit, by an alteration of the law, a more regular trade in corn than you have had under the existing law, it does appear to me clear from this paper, that the United States are not, in comparison with Dantzic and other ports in the Baltic, placed at such disadvantage with respect to the import of corn into this country as some people have imagined. Having already had frequent occasion to address the House upon the subject, 1 have always wished, as far as possible, to confine my observations to the particular subject immediately under discussion. I thought we had already discussed the merits of the fixed duty, and also of the sliding-scale. But the noble Lord has revived both. And yet he is not now at liberty to propose the scheme of a fixed duty. This advocate for great principles will negative my bill. He who talks so much of conciliating political support, dare not maintain his own principle and resolution in order that he may collect a few stray votes from those around him. If the noble Lord had been consistent, and had wished to enlighten us, he ought distinctly to have explained what he means by justice to agriculture. On what principle was his 8s. duty to be maintained? He admits the 8s. duty would not diminish the price of corn; if that be so, and if the manufacturer be of opinion that the high price of corn is the cause, of all others, favourable to foreign competition, how does the noble Lord think that the 8s. duty would be a settlement of the corn question? This is the case of the free traders, the constant and decided advocates of a repeal of the Corn-laws. They say that a bread tax is odious and unjust, they say that the existence of a tax upon corn subjects you to an unfair and discouraging competition with foreigners, but the noble Lord tells them, "Take the 8s. fixed duty on corn," although he does not think the result will be any diminution of the cost of corn in this country—he does not expect prices will be reduced. How, then, can he expect that his project would be a permanent settlement of the question? and how can he expect to unite in permanent union with him those whose support he could conciliate only when he ventured to move a negative? Why, the first moment he brought forward any distinct substantive proposition, as has been my duty, his present supporters would at once abandon the noble Lord. The noble Viscount, the Member for Sunderland, who spoke early in the debate, not only admitted that this was a substantial and material improvement of the existing law—he not only admitted, with the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, that it would have this advantage, that it would occasion an increase of revenue; but he also drew a favourable contrast between the proceeding of the present and the late Government with respect to the manner in which they brought forward this question. Having determined on an alteration in the Corn-laws, we placed the announcement of it in the Queen's Speech, and on the earliest day on which it was possible to discuss the question, we brought it forward, on the authority and responsibility of the Government. The noble Lord, on the contrary, maintained an entire silence on the subject in her Majesty's Speech, and intimated to the House his intentions with reference to the Corn-laws only at an advanced period of the Session. As a question affecting great and complicated interests, and in respect to which the minds of men were much divided, I had to deal with the Corn-laws; and I felt this, that if the question was to be touched, it was desirable to bring it to a practical conclusion. I did not want to bring forward a measure enunciating some general principles, and after spending the Session in discussion, find myself in August praccally where I was in January previous. I wished to propose a measure which there would be a prospect of passing into a law —not giving universal satisfaction, for that I despaired of—but having the concurrence of the well-thinking, rational, intelligent portions of the community. Yes, and I have had it. And what makes your debates so flat and dull? What, but that the country has decided in favour of my measure? I am not speaking of the Anti-Corn-Law League; it is quite impossible that they should so soon forget their vocation as to permit their acquiescence in this law. I am not speaking of the agricultural community, but I do believe that among the trading, manufacturing, commercial classes, there is a strong conviction that the measure I have proposed, looking at the existing state of the country, is a fair and just arrangement. Yes, and if it were otherwise, I should find the debates in this House carried on with much more spirit and vigour. Well, now, this is the second reading of the bill; and the proposal of the noble Lord is, that it be rejected. But the decision to-night will be no indication whatever of the opinion on the subject of the Corn-laws, because it will be my misfortune to find myself opposed by those who, with the noble Lord (J. Russell), were in, favour of a fixed duty. And, by the by, when the noble Lord offered me the fixed duty scheme, I should like to know whether he meant the fixed duty of the last Session or that of the present. Allow me to tell the noble Lord, when he says I scare my agricultural friends by threatening them with the ghost of the late Government in Palace-yard, that if that ghost were an indication that the late Government were really defunct, the apparition would not be an unwelcome one. [Cheers.] I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman opposite does not understand me. But will the noble Lord tell me, when he makes the offer of the fixed duty, whether he is bequeathing to me one of those legacies which the late Government on their death bed left to an admiring country—the 8s. fixed duty, which was to be maintained by a resolute Government, whatever the price of corn might be, in order to insure permanence in the commercial arrangements of the country, or that modification of a fixed duty which, to the surprise of the noble Lord, he proposed in the course of this Session—which adopted the averages, for they were necessary to the system, and provided that when corn should arrive at 73s. there should be a sudden drop in the scale from 8s. to a nominal duty? I shall be opposed by those advocates of a fixed duty on corn who think there should be a fixed duty as countervailing the burdens on land; and by those other advocates of a fixed duty who agree with the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton that a tax should be imposed on foreign corn imported into this country, not by way of protection, but specially for the purposes of revenue. I shall also be opposed by the advocates of the 5s. duty. I shall be opposed, I fear, by those Gentlemen who are opposed to any duty whatever. I am afraid I shall be opposed by some, I trust a very few, who, differing totally from the great body of my opponents, think my proposal endangers the prosperity of agriculture. [Lord Worsley: "Hear."] The noble Lord is one of them. Then I am afraid I shall also be opposed by some Gentlemen from the sister kingdom—the loudest advocates for free-trade, who, when the proposal was in the distance, or brought forward by a Government who could not carry it, gave their political support to an Administration which was the very ghost of free-trade in Palace-yard. Now, I earnestly ask those hon. Gentlemen well to consider what would be the consequence of rejecting this measure: 3s. 4d. on oats is the highest duty which the noble Lord gives them; and any protection so inadequate, so pregnant with danger as they say it is to the interests of the agriculturists, being at any rate a higher protection than that which the noble Lord offers, will, I should think, be preferable in their eyes. My hon. Friend the Member for Wallingford expressed his astonishment that I should propose so sweeping a measure as this; he differs from me, and thinks it will cause the introduction of a great quantity of foreign corn. I shall therefore, 1 fear, encounter his opposition, on the ground that the measure is injurious to the agricultural interests. But I ask those hon. Gentlemen to consider, if they reject this measure, what prospect of success there would be of carrying any other measure? I do not agree with the noble Lord that success is indifferent. I think hon. Gentlemen ought to feel that confidence in the strength of their own arguments as to consider it a misfortune for them to be rejected; but I must say, that I do not think there would be any advantage from an increased protection upon oats in Ireland, or wheat in England. They may not think I go far enough; but, upon the whole, considering the present state of parties, and of the public mind, it is not probable that any law will be proposed which will be more generally satisfactory, or which, at any rate, will give increased protection; and if they come to that conclusion, and find among the most intelligent of the agriculturists who wish, perhaps, for increased protection, yet at least, admit that there are considerable difficulties in the subject—an opinion that this is a better measure than they anticipated —I trust that this feeling, which I believe to predominate among the most intelligent agriculturists of this country, will have its due influence in this House, and that my hon. Friends, if they will not agree with me in all its details, will feel themselves enabled to give me their support. The noble Lord has ridiculed the prejudices and fears of the agriculturists. Now, the noble Lord should be sparing upon that point. He has a perfect right, and I do not complain of it—on the contrary, I think it manly and courageous—to change opinions when upon more extended views you believe them to be wrong; but he ought to have had mercy on the farmers who entertained fears respecting agriculture; for, if ever there were a public man who wrote in a manner to excite those fears, and confirm the prejudices of the agriculturists, that man was the noble Lord. There sit the noble Lord the Member for London and the hon. Member the late Vice-President of the Board of trade (Mr. Sheil); and if ever any men did anything to excite apprehension, the one for Irish oats, the other for English wheat, they were the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman. The noble Lord was all for English wheat; the right hon. Gentleman was all for Irish oats; but their agricultural partialities have in some degree vanished. Surely I might say,— Tuque prior tu parce, in respect to those unfortunate farmers whose apprehensions you have done as much as any man to excite. But what, I again ask, will be the consequence of rejecting this measure? In proposing it I offer a great mitigation of the evils complained of in the present system. Reject it, and what other arrangement can be made? Is the noble Lord strong enough to carry his 8s. duty? Is any other party strong enough to maintain the existing system, or to give a Corn-law more favourable to the agriculturists? The only alternative is, leaving this question the subject of prolonged agitation and discussion, interupting all commercial intercourse, disturbing the relations between landlord and tenant, and making it impossible for any man to know upon what terms he holds his land. I believe that as large a portion of the community as any man could anticipate, when a change in the Corn-laws was proposed, have decided that this is a just protection, and I believe that they are anxious for the passing of the bill. I cannot anticipate the support of those who are in favour of repeal or a fixed duty; but I earnestly hope that the great body of those hon. Gentlemen who have for many years given me their confidence, and such marked proofs of it in the present Session, will feel it their duty upon this occasion, and upon every other future discussion upon this subject, to support the bill which I have had the honour of submitting to the House.

Lord Worsley

rose to move an adjournment of the debate. [Cries of "Go on," and "Question."] If the House would permit him, then, he wished to address them, in consequence of an observation that had been made respecting him in an early part of the debate, in which the hon. Member for Devonshire stated, that he had said, that he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite were inconsistent in their votes in that House, when he recollected the hopes they held out to their constituents, and he stated, that he thought, however inconsistent they might have been, their inconsistency was not equal to that of which he was guilty last year. But when the hon. Member stated that, the hon. Member forgot to state also, that when her Majesty's late Ministers proposed an alteration in the sugar duties and the Corn-laws, he expressly stated in the House, that he should oppose the Govern- ment on the sugar duties, and he accordingly voted against them; and he also said, that he should oppose the Government on the Corn-laws. He had referred to the debates on the question of want of confidence in the late Administration, and he found, that what he had said was this: Although it is painful to me to separate from the Government and vote against them, as it will most probably transfer power from them to Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, yet, upon the Corn-laws, I have only one course to pursue, and whenever that subject is brought forward, I shall feel obliged to repeat the vote which I reluctantly gave against them on the question of the sugar duties. That occasion was a different one from this; then a single vote was likely to transfer power to other hands; but that was not the case now. He could understand, that hon. Members might say, if the balance of power were as nice now as it was then, that they would vote with the Government; but he thought, that they ought to vote against the Government upon this scheme, which they themselves disapproved of, for they might do so without withdrawing their general support from the Government. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Kent, said, that there was upon his side of the House a general acquiescence in this measure; but at the same time, he seemed to take great pains to prevent hon. Members from following the example of the hon. Member for Wallingford. The right hon. Member might, perhaps, have forgotten, that there had been a division on part of this scale, and that several hon. Members had voted against the duty on oats the other night. There had also been several hon. Members on the other side, who had stated unhesitatingly their opinion, that the scale of duties in this bill was not sufficient to protect the agricultural interests. And who were those hon. Members? Were they the representatives of small constituencies? Did they not represent large bodies of people in this country? The hon. Member for Shropshire stated, that it would be ruinous in Wales. The hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs had said, that it would be so in Scotland. The hon. Member for Waterford had declared, it was most unpopular in Ireland. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire proposed an amendment. The hon. Member for Norfolk said it was impossible to carry out the Poor-law Bill, if this measure was passed. The hon. Member fur Essex objected to the bill. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire did the same, and the hon. Member for Devonshire objected to the bill, as it did not give sufficient protection to the agricultural interest, but, at the same time, he stated, that he could not make up his mind to vote against the right hon. Baronet. He might have taken the same course, last year, but he preferred acting as an independent Member. There was no inconsistency in his voting confidence in the last administration, although he had voted against the Corn Bill which they had proposed. He agreed with the general policy of the last Administration, although he differed from their policy on one important measure, and he disagreed with the policy of the present Government, and from his knowledge of the previous life of the right hon. Baronet, at the head of that Government, he did not expect any measure which would maintain sufficient protection to the agricultural interest. But it might be said, that the House was since pledged to inquire into the Corn-laws. But who said so? The amendment on the Address was moved by those who before 'objected, not only to the measure proposed by the last Administration, but who generally opposed all alterations in the Corn-laws, and what were the words of that amendment: — We assure your Majesty, that we are deeply sensible of the importance of those considerations to which your Majesty has been graciously pleased to direct our attention in reference to the commerce and revenue of the country, and to the laws which regulate the trade in corn. That in deciding the course which it may be advisable to pursue with reference to such matters, it will be our earnest desire to consult the interest, and promote the welfare of all classes of your Majesty's subjects. Was the bill now before the House calculated to promote the objects introduced into that amendment? He thought it was not he thought it was not calculated to promote the agricultural interests, and the manufacturers believed it was not calculated to promote theirs. There was a general opinion, that the measure now introduced was not to be a final one. But the right hon. Baronet said, there was a general willingness to have it adopted. And why was this the case? Simply because the country knew his power to carry his measure. The right hon. Baronet's supporters knew this. They knew, indeed, that the present was not the measure which they could have wished, but they durst not come back to the old, independent, English, county-member course. He had maintained this character both among the present, and also during the late Administration, but he could not expect all others to follow his example. They thought there was much difficulty connected with the question; now he did not see this difficulty. It was said, that if the bill were lost, they must either take the fixed duty, or the old law. He opposed the measure, because he believed it did not give sufficient protection to agriculture. The right hon. Gentleman, the Vice-President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Gladstone) formerly said, that 20s. duty was prohibitory, that evening he had said it was not. Now, he did not understand this discrepancy of statement. He thought there should be a prohibitory duty. He agreed with his noble Friend, the Member for London (Lord John Russell), that wheat should be grown cheap, but he also thought it should be produced as much as possible in this country, and cheap foreign corn must be kept out during cheap prices here. The hon. Member for Devonshire said, the barbarous system of farming was still carried on in his county. Now, he (Lord Worsley) begged to say, it was not so in his county. In those parts, the most extensive investments were made at the present time on the faith of protection. He thought, if wheat in this country was to be bought at 45s. per quarter, there was no need for the introduction. The corn-dealers alone, in his opinion, liked the change. The bill had been recommended as having a tendency to lower corn abroad, and produce a regular trade in corn here. On both these points he objected to the bill. He anticipated, that land would be thrown out of cultivation by it, and that agricultural would be added to manufacturing distress. The noble Lord, in conclusion, withdrew his motion for an adjournment.

Sir C. Napier,

would not detain the House five minutes. The gallant Officer referred to some calculations to show, that an interval of fifty-one days must elapse between the dispatch of an order from this country (by steamer) and the arrival of a cargo from America. He wished to know what inconvenience would arise from making the duties payable upon foreign corn according to the price in this country, at the time it was placed on board in a foreign port.

Mr. Villiers

said, as it appeared that the House was determined not to accede to the noble Lord's motion of adjournment, and as it was impossible at that late hour, and in the then state of the House, to enter into the question, he would only-say one word to distinguish his motives and that of other Members who agreed with him in voting for the amendment, from those who opposed it, because they were advocates of a permanent restriction on free-trade in food, and from those who opposed it thinking, that the measure was a substantial improvement on the bill, and who gave their votes from believing, that it would have no effect in rejecting that measure. He opposed the bill upon principle, because its purpose was to raise the price of and obstruct the trade in food. He opposed it because it would afford no immediate relief, and for that opinion he had the right hon. Baronet's own authority. He opposed it because he thought it would give no ultimate relief—for the peculiar mode of obstructing the trade was precisely the same as in the present law, and which had the effect of preventing an abundant and regular supply—and was constructed with the distinct purpose of preventing food being grown abroad for the supply of this country; and he opposed it because if the proposed reduction of the duty had the appearance of rendering the market more accessible to foreign producers, he believed, that the provision for striking the averages had been contrived for the purpose of preventing the reduction having that operation. For these reasons, alone, then, he should feel himself bound and justified in offering to this measure his most strenuous opposition.

The House divided on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question:—Ayes 284; Noes 176: Majority 108.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bailey, J. jun.
Acland, T. D. Baillie, Col.
Ackers, J. Baillie, H. J.
Acton, Col. Baird, W.
Adare, Visct. Baldwin, C. B.
Adderley, C. B. Balfour, J. M.
Alford, Visct. Baring, hon. W. B.
Antrobus, E. Barneby, J.
Arkwright, G. Barrington, Visct.
Ashley, Lord Baskerville, T. B. M.
Astell, W. Bateson, Sir R.
Attwood, J. Beckett, W.
Bagge, W. Bell, M.
Bagot, hon, W. Bentinck, Lord G.
Beresford, Capt. Fellowes, E.
Beresford, Major Feilden, W.
Bernard, Visct. Ferrand, W. B.
Boldero, H. G. Filmer, Sir E.
Borthtwick, P. Fitzroy, Capt.
Botfield, B. Fleming, J. W.
Bradshaw, J. Follett, Sir W. W.
Bramston, T. W. Ffolliott, J.
Broadley, H. Forbes, W.
Broadwood, H. Forester, hn. G. C. W.
Brownrigg, J. S. Fuller, A. E.
Bruce, Lord E. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Bruce, C. L. C. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bruen, Col. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Buck, L. W. Gore, M.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gore, W. O.
Bunbury, T. Gore, W. R. O.
Campbell, Sir H. Goring, C.
Campbell, A. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Carnegie, hn. Capt. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Chapman, A. Granby, Marquess of
Charteris, hon. F. Grant, Sir A. C.
Chelsea, Visct. Greenall, P.
Chetwode, Sir J. Greene, T.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Gregory, W. H.
Christmas, W. Grimston, Visct.
Christopher, R. A. Grogan, E.
Chute, W. L. W. Hale, R. B.
Clayton, Sir W. R, Halford H.
Clayton, R. R. Hamilton, W. J.
Clerk, Sir G. Hamilton, Lord C.
Clive, hon. R. H. Hanmer, Sir J.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Harcourt, G. G.
Codrington, C. W. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Collett, W. R. Hawkes, T.
Colville, C. R. Hayes, Sir E.
Compton, H. C. Heneage, G. H. W.
Coote, Sir C. H. Henley, J. W.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Courtenay, Visct. Herbert, hon. S.
Cresswell, B. Hinde, J. H.
Cripps, W. Hodgson, F.
Crosse, T. B. Hodgson, R.
Darby, G. Hogg, J. W.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Houldsworth, T.
Denison, E. B. Holmes, hn. W. A'Ct.
Dickinson, F. H. Hope, hon. C.
D'Israeli, B. Hope, A.
Dodd, G. Hope, G. W.
Douglas, Sir H. Hornby, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Douglas, J. D. S, Irton, S.
Douro, Marquess of James, Sir W. C.
Dowdeswell, W. Jermyn, Earl of
Drummood, H. H. Johnson, W. G.
Duffield, T. Johnstone, Sir J.
Duncombe, hon. O. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Du Pre, C. G. Jones, Capt.
East, J. B. Kemble, H.
Eaton, R. J. Knatchbull, rt. hon.
Egerton, Sir P. Sir E.
Egerton, W. T. Knight, H. G,
Eliot, Lord Knight, F. W.
Emlyn, Visct. Knightley, Sir C.
Escott, B. Law, hon. C. E.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Lawson, A.
Farnham, E. B. Legh, G. C.
Leicester, Earl of Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Lemon, Sir C. Round, C. G.
Lennox, Lord A. Round, J.
Liddell, Hon. H. T. Rous, hon. Capt.
Lincoln, Earl of Rushbrooke, Col.
Lindsay, H. H. Russell, C.
Lockhart, W. Russell, J. D. W.
Lowther, J. H. Ryder, hon. G. D.
Lowther, hon. Col. Sanderson, R.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Sandon, Visct.
Mackenzie, T. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Mackenzie, W. F. Scott, hon. F.
Mackinnon, W. A. Seymour, Sir H. B.
MacGeachy, F. A. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Mahon, Visct. Sheppard, T.
Mainwaring, T. Shirley, E. J.
Manners, Lord J. Shirley, E. P.
March, Earl of Sibthorp, Col.
Marsham, Visct. Smith, A.
Martin, C. W. Smyth, Sir H.
Martin, T. B. Smollett, A.
Martyn, C. C. Somerset, Lord G.
Master, T. W. C. Somerton, Visct.
Masterman, J. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Meynell, Capt. Stanley, Lord
Miles,'P. W. S. Stewart, J.
Miles, W. Stuart, H.
Milnes, R. M. Sturt, H. C.
Mitchell, T.A. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Morgan, O. Taylor, T. E.
Morgan, C. Taylor, J. A
Mundy, E. M. Tennent, J. E.
Murray, C. R. S. Thompson, Mr. Aid.
Neville, R. Thornhill, G.
Newry, Visct. Tollemache, hn. F. J.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Tollemache, J.
Norreys, Lord Tomline, G.
O'Brien, A. S. Trench, Sir F. W.
Owen, Sir J. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Packe, C.W. Trotter, J.
Paget, Lord W. Turnor, C.
Pakington, J. S. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Palmer, R. Vane, Lord H.
Palmer, G. Vere, Sir C. B.
Patten, J. W; Vernon, G. H.
Peel, rt. hn. Sir R. Villiers, Visct.
Peel, J. Vivian, J. E.
Pemberton, T. Waddington, H. S.
Pigot, Sir R. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Plumptre, J. P. Welby, G. E.
Pollock, Sir F. Whitmore, T. C.
Powell, Col. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Praed, W. T. Wood, Col.
Price, R. Wood, Col. T.
Pringle, A. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Pusey, P. Wyndharn, Col.
Rae, rt. hn. Sir W. Wyndham, W.
Rashleigh, W. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Reade, W. M. Young, J.
Reid, Sir J. R. Young, Sir W.
Repton, G. W. J. TELLERS.
Richards, R. Fremantle, Sir T.
Rolleston, Col. Baring, H.
List of the Noes.
Acheson, Visct. Aldam, W.
Ainsworth, P. Anson, hon. Col.
Bannerman, A. Hatton, Capt.
Barclay, D. Hawes, B.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Hay, Sir A. L.
Barnard, E. G. Hayter, W. G.
Bell, J. Heathcoat, J.
Berkeley, hon. C. Hindley, C.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Hobhouse. rt. hn. Sir J.
Berkeley, hon. H.F. Holdsworth, J.
Bernal, R. Horsman, E.
Blackstone, W. S. Howard, hn. C. W. G.
Blewitt, R. J. Howard, hon. H.
Bowring, Dr. Howick, Visct.
Brocklehurst, J. Humphery, Mr. Aid.
Brotherton, J. Hutt, W.
Browne, hon. W. Jardine, W.
Buller.C. Johnston, A.
Busfeild, W. Labouchere. rt. hn, H.
Byng, G. Lambton, H.
Byng, rt. hon. G. Langston, J H.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Larpent, Sir G. de H.
Cavendish, hn. G. H. Layard, Captain
Chapman, B. Leader, J. T.
Childers, J. W. Loch, J.
Clay, Sir W. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Clive, E. B. McTaggart, Sir J.
Cobden, R. Maher, V.
Colborne, hn. W. N. R. Mangles, R. D.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Marjoribanks, S.
Collins, W. Marshall, W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Martin, J.
Craig, W.G. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Crawford, W. S. Mitcalfe, H.
Curteis, H. B. Morris, D.
Dalmeny, Lord Morison, General
Dalrymple, Capt. Mostyn,hon. E. M. L.
Dashwood, G. H. Murray. A.
Dawson, hon. T. V. Napier, Sir C.
Denison, J. E. O'Brien, W. S.
Dennistoun, J. O'Connell. D.
D'Eyncourt, r. hn. C. T. O'Connell, M. J.
Duff, J. O'Connell, J.
Duncan, G. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Duncombe, T. Ogle, S. C. H.
Dundas, A. D. Ord, W.
Easthope, Sir J. Paget, Col.
Ebrington, Visct. Palmerston, Visct.
Ellice, E. Parker, J.
Ellis, W. Pechell, Capt.
Esmonde, Sir T. Philips, G. R.
Evans, W. Philipps, Sir R. B. P.
Ferguson, Col. Philips, M.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Pinney, W.
Fielden, J. Plumridge, Capt.
Fitzalan, Lord Ponsonby, h. C.F.A.C.
Fitzroy, Lord C. Ponsonby, hn. Lord G.
Forster, M. Powell, C.
Fox, C. R. Protheroe, E.
Gibson, T. M. Pulsford, R.
Gill, T. Rawdon, Col.
Gordon, Lord F. Redington, T. M.
Gore, hon. R. Rennie, G.
Grey, Sir G. Rice, E. R.
Guest, Sir J. Ricardo, J. L.
Hall, Sir B. Roche, Sir D.
Harford, S. Rumbold, C. E.
Harris, J. Q. Rundle, J.
Hastie, A, Russell, Lord J.
Russell, Lord E. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Scott, R. Wakley, T.
Scrope, G. P. Walker, R.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Wall, C. B.
Smith, B. Ward, H. G.
Smith, J. A. Wawn, J. T.
Smith, rt. hn. R. V. Westenra, hon. H. R.
Somers, J. P. Wilde, Sir T.
Somerville, Sir W. M. Williams, W.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wilson, M.
Stanton, W. H. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Stuart, Lord J. Wood, B. "
Stuart, W.V. Wood, C.
Strutt, E. Wood, G. W.
Tancred, H. W. Worsley, Lord
Thornely, T. Wrightson, W. B.
Towneley, J. Yorke, H. R.
Traill, G.
Troubridge, Sir E. T. TELLERS.
Villiers, hon. C. P, Tufnell, H.
Villiers, F. Hill, Lord M.

Bill read a second time.