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Debates on the State of the Country and Public Distress-Prevailing
topics of the Session-Mr. Wallace proposes a Series of Resolutions and Address to the Queen on the State of the Nation-Speeches of Sir James Graham, Dr. Bowring, Mr. M. Altwood, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Ellice, Lord Palmerston, Lord Stanley, Mr. Roebuck, and other Members, The Debate is continued by Adjournment for three nights-On a Division the Resolutions are negatived by 174 to 49—
The same Subject comes under Discussion a few nights afterwards on a Motion by Mr. Villiers for a Select Committee on the Corn-laws--Mr.' Fielden seconds the Mo‘ion-- It is opposed by Mr. P. Howard and Sir C. Napier-Sir Robert Peel complains of the Obstruction offered to Business by the Opposition-He vindicates the New Corn-law and Financial Measures, and states his Opinions respecting the Effects of Machinery on the Employment of the People, and his Prospects of the Improvement of Trade--Speeches of Lord John Russell, Mr. Cobden, and Lord Howick – Mr. Villiers' Motion is rejected by 231 to 117--Lord Brougham introduces the Subject of the National Distress in the House of Lords in moving for a Select Committee-He discusses at large the Principles of Commercial Policy-Speeches of Earl of Ripon, Earl Stanhope, Lord Kinnaird, Marquis of Clanricarde, Viscount Melbourne, and Earl of Radnor-Lord Brougham's Motion is rejected by 61 to 14-The_great Chartist Petition is presented in the House of Commons-Its vast Bulk and Number of Signatures-Procession of Petitioners and singular Spectacle at the Presentation--Debate on the Petition introduced by Mr. T. Durcombe who moves that the Petitioners be heard by Counsel at the Bar-Motion seconded by Mr. Leader, aud supported by Messrs. Roebuck, Hume, Wakley, Villiers, O'Connell
, and Munta- Opposed by Mr. Macaulay, Lord F. Egerton, Mr. Hawes, Mr. Oswald, Lord John Russell, and Sir Robert Peel-The Motion rejected by 287 to 49.
THREE great measures, each 1842. These were the Corn-Imcomplexity and importance, en- Bill, and the Customs-duties Bill,
, gaged a very large preponderance or New Tariff. A reference to the of the time and attention of the Debates of Parliament during the Legislature during the Session of entire Session will show how very
large a proportion of the discus- parties in the state ; the spirit of sions of both Houses related to one political controversy within the or other of these subjects. And, House concurred with external indeed, when the importance of circumstances, and the pressure each of these measures is con- from without, to make the considered, the extent of their bear- dition and wants of the labouring ings, and the vast mass of details classes, and the laws which affect which they all, but more especially the operations of industry, almost the last-mentioned, presented for perpetually the battle-field between consideration, we shall be dis- the Ministry and their opponents. posed to consider that this Session. It is needless to say, that in the reas compared with those preceding, peated debates which occurred on by no means deserves to be con- ihese subjects, the same views and sidered unproductive or deficient arguments were continually enin practical results. The remain- forced and met by the same aning works which were effected, swers, but the positions mainwith one or two exceptions which tained by either party in these we are now about to particularise, controversies may be easily underwere of secondary interest; and, stood, by reverting to two or three as is commonly the case where no only out of the many occasions on vital party principles are at issue, which the opposing principles of excited little discussion worth com- commercial and economical policy memorating. The Session may, came in issue. in fact, be described as having been One of the most important and almost exclusively devoted to the extended discussions of this dature discussion of economical questions, arose upon a series of resolutions and in various forms and shapes, proposed by Mr. Wallace, as an whether directly in the course of amendment on going into Comdebates upon the Government mittee of Supply. The purport measures, or indirectly on other of them was to affirm the existence occasions, the subjects of commer- of distress, to declare that the altecial policy, national distress, taxa- ration of the Corn-law and Tariff, tion, the manufacturing system, coupled with the Income-tax, could the results of machinery, the in- not afford relief, and to propose fluence of Corn-laws, were ever an address to the Queen not to and anon recurring, and formed prorogue Parliament until inquiry the standing topics of controversy should have been instituted into from the commencement of the the causes of the distress, and Session to its close. The condition until the Queen and the House of the country, now suffering under should have been assured by the a remarkable depression and stage Ministers, “ that effectual means nation of trade, whereby large were secured to provide sustenance numbers were reduced to severe for the unemployed and their desprivations, afforded continual pre- titute families, until their suffertext for the introduction of these ings should be terminated by a subjects, and as the causes which ciemand for their industry, and had produced these evils, and the wages for their labour. Mr. remedies proper for their removal, Wallace read extracts of letters formed the most prominent ground of recent date from Glasgow, of difference between the two great Paisley, Greenock, and Kilmar. nock, which described the misery Mr. Matthias Attwood ascribed of the unemployed in those places it to Mr. Huskisson's policy and as continuing and increasing. The the reciprocity treaties, which, motion was seconded by Mr. while they produced apparent ad. Walker. It was supported by Dr. vantages to particular interests in Bowring, who condemned expen- a country, disturbed and injured diture in foreign wars while mil- all others. He asked, how it was lions were starving at home; and that Sir James Graham did not by Mr. Aglionby, who admitted, view the state of affairs with dehowever, that he did not think spondency, if Government had that prolonging the sitting of Par- taken no measures for the relief of liament would alleviate the dis- the country? If Parliament sepatress ; he adduced reports of in- rated, and left the country in its tense suffering from Carlisle and present condition, he must be a Cockermouth.
bold politician who could meet it Sir James Graham deprecated again without apprehension; and desponding language, as tending he should not feel satisfied with to aggravate the miseries of which anything but a statement of the it professed to complain ; and he views of Government on the conderived confidence from the recol- dition of the people, and full enlection that three bad harvests in quiry into the causes of the dissuccession have never been known. tress. He had seen the distress arising
Lord John Russell could not for some time, and he feared that approve of the hostile course tofor six or seven years it could not wards the Government taken by be wholly obviated. Did he be- Mr. Attwood, who had himself lieve that the repeal of the Corn. proposed no remedy; but he so laws would alleviate the distress, far agreed with him in principle, he would advocate that measure ; as to think that the commercial but he solemnly declared his difficulty of the country was the belief that it would not, but that primary evil with which Ministers it would displace and discourage ought to have dealt; whereas they agricultural industry, and condemn had dealt with the financial de the agriculturists to a common ficiency as the primary subject, ruin with the manufacturers. and had treated the depression of
Mr. D’Israeli argued that the trade as secondary in their meacommercial difficulty was owing sures. He reiterated the argument, to general causes; and he attri- that if Sir Robert Peel's principles buted it mainly to the neglect of were good with respect to cattle, closing a commercial treaty with seeds, and other articles, à fortiori France, and to the war with China, they must be so with respect to which had disturbed our commerce the far more important articles of with that country.
corn and flour. He illustrated the Mr. Hume imputed it to the probable working of a change of restrictive policy adopted by the the Corn-law, by what had taken United States and Germany in place with respect to cattle: there retaliation for our Corn-laws; and had been a panic; that brought on that theme he enlarged ; adding down prices, which seemed to jusreports of increasing distress from tify the panic ; Sir Robert Peel Forfạr and Dundee.
still persevered with his measure ; the panic subsided, men recovered financial difficulties of the nation their senses, and once more the more lightly: now, the people's price of cattle is such as to be too acquiescence in the Income-tax high for the general prosperity. was a strong proof that they did Lord John Russell did not ascribe not think lightly of those difficulall the evils to the Corn-law, any ties ; nay, it had been reported, more, as Canning said, than you and on no slight authority, that would ascribe a man's disease to the original intention of the late the want of rhubarb, though that Ministers themselves had been to might be an appropriate remedy: support that tax.
He did not but he thought that if corn had assume that the people's acquiesbeen introduced, even at 8s. duty, cence was owing to any exorbitant last year, it would have prevented confidence in this Government; much of the difficulty; and if any he ascribed it to the prevalent one would
propose an alteration of conviction that the state of affairs the law, he would now support it. imperatively required the equalizaHe could not, however, throw upon tion of the revenue with the exGovernment exclusively the whole penditure. In some general reresponsibility of providing a re
marks in vindication of the Gomedy for the distress ; nor could vernment measures, (to which Sir he support Mr. Wallace's motion Robert Peel charged Lord John for interrupting an ordinary Com- Russell with giving but a leftmittee of Supply.
handed support,) he retorted the Sir Robert Peel recalled the dis- allusion to the reduction of the cussion to the practical question duty on cattle: the panic produced before the House—the delay of by that might be produced to a the prorogation until after en- wider extent and with more grievquiry. He asked, how was the ous effect by alteration of the enquiry to be conducted ?-at the Corn-laws; and if that had done Bar of the House, or before a so little good as Lord John Russell Select Committee ? And the pro- described, perhaps the same result rogation was to be suspended would follow with Corn-law re. until the Ministers could assure peal. Sir Robert Peel admitted the Ilouse that means were secured the distress; but he mentioned for providing sustenance and em- the remarkable fact, that at this ployment! This was nothing else very time there was an increased than the very proposal of Mr. quantity of cotton taken out for Ferrand, for maintaining the suf- consumption --in the first six ferers out of the public funds, months of 1841 the quantity was against which Mr. Wallace himself 464,500 bales; up to the 24th had voted. Sir Robert Peel next June, 1842, 538,000 bales; and complained of the course taken by although mills had been closed, new Mr. Attwood, who had at last mills were actually in course of suggested nothing. Mr. Attwood erection. He feared that, in any seemed to have no practical remedy case, the application of capital to in view, except, perhaps, either to manufactures and the improvedegrade the coin, or to abolish the ments of machinery would throw convertibility of paper into gold. out small capitalists with imperfect Lord John Russell had blamed the machinery, and from time to time Government for not treating the deprive large numbers of people of
cmployment. The measures of under its notice the appalling Government were the best that state of things described by Mr. under the circumstances could be Aldam, Mr. Brotherton, and Sir resorted to. He praised the for. Benjamin Hall. He thought, howbearance of the people, even under
prorogation of Parthe efforts of wicked men to excite liament would tend to hasten the them to excesses; which left to adoption of measures against which Government no alternative but large majorities had voted this the firm maintenance of law and Session ; for if Government were peace.
disappointed as to the improvement After Sir Robert Peel's speech, resulting from their measuresMr. W. Williams moved the ad- if they found the gloomy anticijournment of the debate, and re- pations of the Opposition realized commenced it on the ensuing they could call Parliament to
evening, by adducing documents gether before the close of the to show the starvation and want year, and, as a last resource, try of employment existing in Coven- those measures which had been so try; and insisting that Sir Robert earnestly pressed upon their conPeel, having admitted the distress, sideration. And Mr. Wallace's was bound to provide a remedy, motion was at least attended with whereas he pleaded the advanced this advantage, that it enabled the period of the Session, and said, Opposition distinctly to throw on that it was too late to do anything. Ministers the undivided responsiMr. Williams proposed a plan of bility, in the present awful state his own-to admit corn, cotton, of the country, of rejecting those and raw silk, free of duty; to measures while they had themrepeal the Malt-tax; to reduce selves no substitute to propose. the duty on coffee and sugar to He said the Government had made 3d. perlb., on tea to 30 per cent. ; some important admissions. They and to meet the reduction of the had admitted that private charity revenue by reducing all payments was inadequate to the exigency; out of the Exchequer by one-third, that employment alone could efexcepting the pay of common sol- fectually relieve the people: and diers and sailors ; a measure which that an increased importation of he justified on the calculation that the articles on which the duties the Currency Bill of 1819 had were just reduced would lead to added one-third to the burthens an increased exportation of our of the country.
own goods. This doctrine was a Mr. Aldam adduced statistics true one, though the operation on of the distress of Leeds, Mr. which it was founded might be Brotherton described the depres- sometimes circuitous : but if it sion and pauperism at Salford, was true of other articles, why, in and Sir B. Hall brought forward such a state of things as the similar statements respecting the present, was it not applied to the parish of Marylebone.
admission of sugar, of coffee, of Viscount Howick could foresee spirits, and above all, of corn ? no practical advantage from the For, under the new Corn-law, inquiry proposed by Mr. Wallace; dealers still kept corn in the ex.
; but the House ought not to sepa- pectation of a rise in price, and the rate without having had brought uncertainty was still such that they