Page images

hoped that it would be final; he -a single mercantile man-or to thought it would be a good thing if produce one from the eminent men it should be so, and it would not all over the world who would not be his fault if it were not.” reprobate the sliding-scale as the

The Earl of Roseberry thought greatest monster in legislation that it would have a very brief which had ever been produced. existence, and that even as a step In all the revisions of the tariffs, towards further measures it would by some of the wisest and most be a failure. A fixed duty appeared experieneed men, had the principle to him the only remedy for the ex- of a contra valorem scale ever isting evils.

been applied to any article but The Marquess of Salisbury ad- corn?


He insisted that a fixed vocated the Government plan. duty would be more easily main

It was attacked by Lord Port- tained in time of dearth than a man; who wondered at Lord sliding duty. “Suppose a great Ripon's inconsistency in supporting exigency had arrived a time when

La it, since in 1821 and 1822 he sat prices were high, and food was as one of nineteen county Members dear, and when there would be a upon a select committee, which great clamour for the repeal of the reported in favour of a fixed duty. fixed 8s. duty. The Government The measure would unsettle

would deliberate whether

they bargain between landlord and te- should or should not adhere to the nant, without relieving the country duty. Were he answering for from dependence on the specu- them, he should certainly say under lator; and if it failed, it would be such circumstances, adhere to the impossible to fall back on a fixed duty ; for this reason, that if even duty.

the Government were to give way, The Earl of Winchelsea was and the fixed duty be removed, the prepared to contend that the bill consumer would get little or no bewould give to the agriculturists nefit from it-it would all go to the greater protection than they had ever owner of the grain. An instance had before- not because it woulden- occurred the other day illustrative hance prices, but because it would of the operation of this. There relieve the grower from the frauds was a great quantity of foreign practised upon the averages and grain lying in bond at Glasgow,

or the sudden alterations in the duties. on the Clyde: th was great disHe thought it a great improve- tress in the neighbourhood at the ment.

time, and the Government were Lord Monteagle, who also con- called upon to allow the grain to sidered the bill an improvement, go out of bond duty free; suppose descanted at considerable length on they had, what would have folthe necessity of a foreign supply, lowed ? was it thought for a mo

, and the comparative merits of free- ment that the grain so let out trade in corn, a sliding-scale, and would have sold for 20s. a quarter a fixed duty; giving the preference less than the other grain of the to the last. He wished that he same quality then in the market ? could discuss the measure in a ce- would the taking off the duty have lect committee; he defied the lessened the price in that case ? Government to produce a single No; the only effect would have witness to defend the sliding-scale been to put so much money into grain."

the pocket of the proprietor of the was corn a fit subject for taxation

at all ?

He declared it was not a He alluded to the effect of irre. fit subject for taxation at all, begular importation on the currency, cause it was a poll-tax, paid alike referring to a return of the fluc- by the poor and the rich ; and it tuations in the amount of bullion fell most heavily on those whose at the Bank since the enactment resources were the most slender. of the last charter. At one period It was also a poll-tax eminently in 1838, when the importation of uncertain in its operation ; as it foreign corn was at the rate of depended on the wind, and the 562,000 quarters a month, it ap- weather, and the seasons, whether peared that

there was only one farthing of the duty should be 2,800,0001. bullion at the Bank to paid. The necessity of the treameet all the liabilities of the coun- sury, however, could not depend try. Every British statesman for supply on the vicissitudes of the ought to congratulate himself that seasons. this demand for foreign corn did

The Duke of Wellington renot occur simultaneously with the peated some of the recommendaAmerican disasters. But what an tions of the Ministerial plan ; and illustration did this case afford of insisted, in contradiction to Lord the boasted independence of foreign Monteagle, that the price of corn nations which these Corn-laws had always been steady under the were to bring about.

Corn-law of 1829. Lord MontThey could not much longer eagle had said, that the slidingsupport with any safety a system scale was an absurdity only known which separates classes, and places to the Corn-law : “ It might be the highest personages in the State an absurdity; the noble Baron in the position of making laws ap- might have good reason to think parently for their own benefit, and so; but, begging the noble Baron's against the interests and welfare pardon, the principle of a slidingof their fellow countrymen. scale had always been known in

Lord Brougham approved of the corn-trade of this country, Lord Melbourne's resolution, com- The Corn-law of 1794 contained paratively ; for the preference of a graduated scale of duties, dea fixed duty must depend greatly pending on the state of prices in on the amount, nor could he in

this country. It had invariably any case regard it as sound legisla- been the principle acted on, and tion. Taking it, however, at 8s., was always applicable to any arhe thought it somewhat the better ticle that was produced, the quanproposition of the two; but there tity, quality, and value of which was no difference between them depended on the state of the seain extending the markets for our sons in which it was produced.” products abroad, or increasing the He said that Lord Melbourne growth of corn for this market need not go back to the Greeks The latter trade must depend upon and Romans in search of its profits, and the dealer could rience as to dependence on foreign

expenot tell whether he could afford nations; in our own time, we had to bring in his corn with the ad- seen the Emperor of Russia imdition of 8s. duty, until he should pose a duty on the export of corn, know what the price is here. But avowedly to raise the price in this

[ocr errors]

country; and only last year it had large exports and refuses to import been forbidden. The supply of our products in return; and then Britain depended on the tranquil- he enlarged on the advantages of lity of the countries lying on the the sliding-scale. banks of two or three streams that On a division, Lord Melbourne's run into the Baltic. It remained motion was negatived by 117 to to be proved that the Corn-laws 49: majority, 68. produced drains of gold from the Lord Brougham then moved Bank in payment for sudden im- these resolutions :ports of grain. Those inconve- “ 1. That no duty ought to be niences were produced by other imposed upon the importation of circumstances. Certainly, if large foreign corn, for the purpose of sums were required to be sent protecting the agriculturist, by abroad at once for the payment of taxing the introduction of food. corn, the deficiency of bullion must “ 2. That no duty ought to be be aggravated; but he believed it imposed upon the importation of was found that corn, under ordi- foreign corn, for the purpose

of nary circumstances, was constantly regulating trade, by taxing the inin the course of being imported, troduction of food. and that a demand for the intro- “ 3. That no duty ought to be duction of a supply into the home imposed upon the importation of market, arising from any failure in foreign corn, for the purpose of the harvest, did not require the raising the revenue, by taxing the transmission abroad of large sums introduction of food.” of specie. Corn was brought into The resolutions were rejected the market only by opening the by 87 to 6. doors of the public storehouses, Upon the House going into and it was paid for by the money Committee, Earl Stanhope moved circulating in the interior of the the omission of clauses 12 and country. It was true that the re- 13, which related to the appointplacement of the corn so consumed ment of inspectors in the City of would require the transmission of London; objecting to exclude Lonlarge sums; but that was done by don from the list of towns redegrees.

turning averages.

The clauses, Lord Lansdowne followed up however, were affirmed without a Lord Melbourne's arguments, and division. ridiculed the successive attempts Lord Beaumont moved to omit to amend the Corn-laws six times clause 17, under which dealers in within a few years, and each corn were to make returns to the time with confidence as to its inspectors; proposing that the rebeing a final settlement; yet fo- turn should be made by the growreign corn was not excluded, and ers, and not by the dealers.

“ remunerating price” was se- The original clause was afcured.

firmed; other amendments moved Lord Fitzgerald followed, com- by Earl Stanhope, Lord Beaubating the doctrine of the mutual mont, and Lord Mountcashel, were dependance of foreign countries; rejected in a manner equally unpointing to Russia, who sends us equivocal, and so the bill passed.

[ocr errors]



Financial Measures--Embarrassing Circumstances of the Country-

Sir Robert Peel's bold and comprehensive Plans of Reform-His Speech on introducing his Budget-Its Reception by the HouseRemarks of Lord John Russell-- In the House of Lords Lord Brougham moves a String of Resolutions respecting the Income-taxThe Earl of Ripon moves the previous question, which is carriedDebate in the House of Commons on Finance Speeches of Mr. F. T. Baring, Mr. Goulburn, Lord Howick, and Lord John Russella Sir Robert Peel vindicales his Measures, and explains the Machinery of the Income Tax Bill-Reception of the Measure by the Opposition in the House of Commons- Notice given by Lord John Russell First Debate on the Subject-Objections against the Tax urged by different Members-Some of the Liberal Party support il-Speeches of Mr. Smith O'Brien and Mr. Roebuck-Sir Robert Peel defends his Measures against the Objections urged-Speech of Lord John Russell - Attempt to postpone the Decision of the House by Motions of Adjournment - They are negatived, bul, ultimately, it is deferred till after the Easter Recess— The Subject resumed-State of Public Feeling respecting it - Mr. Blewitt moves an Amendment on Sir Robert Peel's Resolution, but afterwards withdraws it-The First Resolution carried without a Division-Debate on the Second ResolutionThe Second and Third Resolutions carried-Lord John Russell moves an Amendment condemnatory of the proposed TaxSpeeches of Mr. Goulburn, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Macaulay, Lord Stanley, Mr. Labouchere, Sir R. H. Inglis, Viscount Sandon, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Hawes, Sir James Graham, Mr. F. Baring, Mr. Ferrand, and other Members - The Debate continued for Four Nights, after which the Amendment is rejected by 308 to 202-On the First Reading, Lord John Russell moves the Rejection of the Bill--Speeches of Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Raikes Currie, and Mr. Roebuck- The Amendment is negatived on a Division by 286 to 188—Progress of the Bill in Commiltee-- Amendment of Mr. Ricardo for exempting Terminable Annuities is rejected— Discussion OR Schedule D-Mr. Roebuck moves an Amendment to reduce the Amount payable on Profits of Trades and Professions-It is opposed by the Government, and rejected - Rapid Progress of the Committee with the Clauses of the Bill-Mr. F. Baring's Proposal to exempt Foreign Fundholders, and various other Amendments, are defeated by large Majorities, and the Bill passes through Committee -On the Third Reading Mr. S. Crawford moves an Amendment which is negatived Mr. Hume, and Mr. F. Baring oppose the Measure-Speech of Mr. Goulburn-The Third Reading is carried by 199 lo 69.


THE difficulties which Sir Ro. feebleness and inadequacy to the

bert Peel had to encounter occasion. The reasons and policy in framing a measure of finance, on which this great fiscal reformaadapted to the exigencies of the tion was founded, the principles country, were of a more than on which it was framed, and the usually formidable nature. He calculations on which its details had not like many other financiers, were adjusted, were set forth in a as Mr. Goulburn in 1830, or Lord speech which, for luminous stateAlthorp on more than one occa- ment and thorough mastery of the sion, a considerable surplus revenue complicated subjects involved in it, at his disposal. Sir Robert Peel has seldom been surpassed in Parwas embarrassed by a certain defi- liament. Though the great imciency for the ensuing year of portance and ability of this oration 2,570,0001., with contingencies in well entitle it to be perpetuated in China and India of uncertain its entire shape, the limits of this amount. And even this deficiency work render it necessary to confine was not the mere temporary result ourselves to such a condensed sumof a sudden pressure, but a decline mary of its principal features as in the receipts of some years stand- can be presented within a narrow ing, in despite of an increase both compass. On the 11th of March, of duties and of population. Under pursuant to previous notice, the these circumstances, it was obvious Jong-expected development of the that mere temporary expedients, Ministerial plans was made in a and such petty devices of financial Committee of Ways and Means, dexterity as had served the turn of before a full and anxiously attenChancellors of the Exchequer in tive House. Sir Robert Peel comeasier times, would now but ag- menced with a short preliminary gravate the evil. The present appeal to his audience for a patient juncture demanded a remedial mea- and impartial hearing of the whole sure of a bold, comprehensive, and measure that he was about to prosubstantial character, going to the pose, avowing at once his own root of the mischief, and applied unfailing confidence and composure rather to the basis than the details of mind in proceeding with a full of our financial economy. In this consciousness of the integrity of respect, the measure produced by his motives to the discharge of a Sir Robert Peel and his colleagues great public duty, and his convicshowed no disproportion to the tion that a full and unreserved emergency. On the contrary, the disclosure of all the difficulties in breadth and boldness of the scheme which the nation was placed, and took the House of Commons, and a manful resolution to look all its the country by surprise. What- embarrassments boldly in the face, ever other objections might be was the course which wisdom and alleged against it, and many were duty alike dictated, and the first urged from various quarters, it step towards improvement and was safe, at least, against those of recovery. He then at once pro

« PreviousContinue »