Page images

30 years, it was 46s. in England. At market, in consideration of the great present, the average price of wheat in advantage of security.” France was 45s.; and he would take On the subject of the injury, which it in England at 80s. It was obvious, it was alleged that our manufactures therefore, that the proportion between would suffer from the high price of lathe prices of the two countries had not bour, which would be a consequence of increased ; and if the difference for the high price of corn, Mr Eliot said, merly did not prevent the suceess of that “ he was far from denying the inour manufactures, he did not see why Auence of the price of corn on that of it ought to produce that effect now.” labour ; but it must be admitted, that Mr Western went on to quote some the degree of this influence might be remarks on this subject of M. de Mon- very much varied by circumstaaces. tesquieu, who said, that's the manu. In Ireland, for example, it would have facturer, if he pays a little more to his very little effect, because corn was not workmen, can lay it on his goods, and the general subsistence of the country: he ought therefore to be indifferent to In countries where subsistence formed a slight augmentation. The internal. the principal part of the expenditure consumers being the proprietor who of the labourer, the effect would, of has sold his wheat to advantage, and course, be much more considerable. the workman who has received better In Englaud, much of the expence of wages, they are all enabled to augment the labourer consisted in articles of their enjoyments, and consume more luxury, which, however, were become manufactured goods. If grain were essential to his comfort, and were, to fall so low as some manufacturers therefore, to be reckoned among the would wish, who would purchase their necessaries of life. Now, the operagoods ? Certainly neither the proprie- tion of the price of corn must be tor, the farmer, nor the labourer.”. chiefly confined to that part of the « l'hese observations," said Mr Wes- price of labour which belonged to subtern, “ are certainly deserving of the sistence. It might, to be sure, affect, most serious attention.”-“ My ho- in a slight degrec, some other articles, nourable friend, (Mr Philips,)" con but several it could not affect at all, and tinued Mr Western, “ seems to have in these articles consisted the differcontemplated with great composure, ence between the prices of this and the absolute destruction of the agri. other countries." —He continued to culture of a great part of the country. say, that “the real source of the dear. According to him, certain poor dis. ness of England was the weight of its tricts of this country ought to give taxation; and that the operation of way to certain rich districts of France this cause cannot be expected speedily and Flanders. I, for one, confess that to cease.”_Lord Liverpool contendI do not well understand this policy. ed, that “the success of our manufac. Do not, I would ask, these poor dis- tures did not depend upon cheapness tricts afford a market to our manufac- of labour, but upon capital, credit, turers? Does not Ireland, for exam- and fuel. The superior advantages ple, take our manufactures in return we derived from capital and credit for her produce ? Is it not safer to were well known ; and our abundance rely on such a market, than on one in of fuel was an inestimable advantage. other countries ? Of the one we may The importance of this latter article be deprived, but of the other we can was clearly shewn by the thriving, esit not. We ought therefore, in fairness, tablishments of manufactories in those to give way something in extent of counties where coal was plentiful. Our

great excellence in machinery gave us gued, that any diminution of rent likewise a decided superiority. Cheap- which was at all practicable, would Ress of labour was, therefore, a se have a very trifling effect on the price condary consideration, and they had of corn. 'On this subject Mr Wes. the evidence of the manufacturers tern stated, that he had made some themselves at the bar of the House calculations. He calculated, that with regard to the Orders in Council, every 10s. which were added to the that they considered theapness of la- rent or expences of land, made an ad, bour as comparatively of little impor. dition of 35. to a quarter of wheat, and tance. As to the labourers themselves vice versa. Taking, then, the whole who were employed in manufactures; rental of the country. at 30s. per acre, he had no doubt, that, if they had to (and this, he said, he was satisfied was chuse between cheapness of bread and above the rate at which it ought to be a reduction of wages, and bread at its taken,) it would be seen, that the anpresent price with the present wages, nihilation of the entire rent would onthey would not hesitate to prefer the ly diminish corn 10s. per quarter. latter. With regard to the effect in Even after this reduction of his exthe rise of the price of grain compared pence, therefore, by an entire annihi. with that of wages, there was no doubt lation of his rent, the English farmer that though wages, particularly of could not compete with the foreign labourers by the day or week, had grower. If a reduction of 10s. per risen in proportion to the rise in the acre were made in the rent of land, price of grain, the wages of those this would only diminish the price of who worked by the piece had not the quarter of corn 3s. 4d., and this risen in the same proportion.”—His would only make a difference of hard. lordship, however, contended, uponly three-farthings in the loaf. Me the authority of a report made to the Western, therefore, held the consiFrench legislative body by a member deration of rent to be a very immateof the executive government, that for rial part of the subject.—Mr White a long period the price of corn had bread (in a very ingenious speech, risen in France in the same proportion which contained a statement of his as in England.

difficulties on the question, without It was strenuously contended by coming to any definite conclusion,) several of the supporters of the bill, contended, that the clamour which that no advantage would be derived had been raised against high rents was a from a reduction of rents, but that, on most unfounded,

and a most unwise clathe contrary, it would produce very mour, and always excited his indignaserious evils. It was contended, that tion. Taking the country through, the the consequence of the diminished in- rents had not been raised beyond what comes of the landholders would be a they ought to be, according to existing diminished expenditure, and conse circumstances ; and it should never be quently a great diminution in the forgotten, that the landed interests home market for manufactures and were inseparable from our commercial commodities of every kind. Manu- prosperity. The rise of rents had facturers and tradesmen, it was said, been a fair increase, resulting from the would find themselves in a much worse depreciation of money, and the rise of situation, with cheap bread, and a prices. A considerable part of the want of demand for their goods, than capital of landlords had been expended with a high price of bread and a on inclosures, on roads, on draining ; brisk trade. But it was further ar and an increase of rent had generally

stimulated the industry of the farmer, end of the town ; and who, instead of so as to make his land more produc- dining at one o'clock, along with their tive than before."

clerks, as their forefathers did, were It was further maintained, that, if now to be seen sitting down to a table the reduction of rent, the principal ar. profuse in its variety of dishes, at six ticle of the farmer's expence, would and seven o'clock.” Mr Huskisson be productive of so little effect, still very properly added, that “ he did less could be expected from the reduc- not complain that it was so ; he botion of other articles of expence. A noured the industry, and gloried in very heavy article of the farmer's ex. the success which occasioned it ; and, pence consists in the amount of his though the comparison might appear taxes, not merely direct, but indirect. invidious, he was driven into it by the Of this article of expence no reduction equally invidious comparison made by could be expected. It was shewn by the hon. gentleman." Lord Binning, that the taking off the On the Inst branch of the question, property tax would produce a very in the amount of the importation price, considerable effect on the expence of it was contended that the grounds for cultivation. He stated the tenant's fixiag on 80s. were perfectly sufficient. property tax at 2s. 6d. per acre at the Mr Western maintained, that “ 80s. very highest ; and, as the average of a quarter was not a price that ought a wheat crop was at least three quare to give any uneasiness, or that looked ters to the acre, it followed, that 10d. like a scarcity price. The average per quarter was as much as the pro- price of wheat during the last twenty perty tax affected the price of wheat. years was 83s. During the first ten of Besides, he remarked, the removal of these years, it was 73s. If the price the property tax could not be consi- of wheat ten years ago was 73s., could dered as clear gain to the farmer ; as 80s. now be considered more than a other taxes would be imposed in its fair price? During the first ten of the place. Lord Binning took occasion last twenty years, what was our taxa. to remark on the observations which tion? In 1792, the whole of our taxes had been made by Mr Baring on the amounted only to 16 millions. When mode of living of farmers and their fa- wheat was at 73s., the taxes were 34 milies. “ It appeared to him," he said, millions ; and at present our taxes ex6 surprising that Mr Baring should ceeded 60 millions. In taking 80s.; have forgotten the growth of the therefore, he was taking the very low. wealth and magnificence of the trades- est rate at which the import price could people within the same time. They, be fixed.” The Earl of Liverpool too, occasionally indulged themselves contended, that " it was erroneous to with wine as well as the farmers ; but say, that there was no evidence to jus• he was so far from being displeased at tify the price of 80s. The fact was, this, that he was happy to see the in- that the evidence on this point varied creasing wealth of the mercantile part from 728. to 96s. The medium of of the community.” Mr Baring's re- these prices, according to the weight marks also called forth the animadver- of the evidence, might perhaps have sions of Mr Huskisson, who contrast- been calculated at 85s., but under the ed that gentleman's picture of the pre- circumstances of a diminution of tax• sent mode of living of the farmers, by ation and of other burdens upon agria picture of the luxury of our mer culture, the price of 80s. had been chants, “ who have exchanged their fixed upon ; and that, he maintained, snug dwellings in the city for magnifi- was a fair protecting price." cent mansions in the squares at the west


Observations on the Policy of the Corn-Bill.

In forming an opinion respecting the bled to diminish and confine the com. policy of the present system of corn merce of the enemy, and, in the same laws, we have had much doubt and hesi- proportion, to enlarge and extend onr tation ; and, though the conclusions at own. In proportion as other nations which we have arrived are the result of became the allies or vassals of France, slow and deliberate reflection, and are, we were enabled also to destroy their consequently, satisfactory to ourselves, commerce, and to deprive them of yet we are very far from saying, that their colonial possessions ; and in this they must, therefore, be just. We have manner we, by degrees, acquired a too much respect for the many acute commercial monopoly quite unprecereasoners whose conclusions have been dented. The effect was a rapid increase the reverse of ours, to dogmatise upon in our manufactures, and consequentthe subject; while, at the same time, ly in our wealth ; and this increase our confidence is increased by the con was necessarily attended by a great sideration, that the opinion wbich we addition to our population, and a great have formed is supported by the au. extension of our agriculture. It is thority of some of the ablest of our stated by Mr Colquhoun, that, ace statesmen and political economists. cording to the census taken in 1801,

In considering this question, the and that in 1811, the increase of the two great problems to be solved, fare, population of Great Britain, in these the causes of the great progressive rise ten years, was nearly a million and a in the price of corn from about the half of souls. For the subsistence of jear 1792 to the year 1813, and the this increasing population, a great ada prodigious increase in the agriculture ditional supply of corn became necesand wealth of the country during that sary; and, in order to procure it, a period ; and the causes of the depres- vast quantity of new land was brought sion of prices that took place in 1813, into cultivation, to the extent, it has followed by an almost unexampled de been estimated, of above two millions gree of national distress.

of acres. To this must be added the For twenty years previous to the returns of a very large capital employcommencement of our present calami ed in improving land, which had been ties, a number of causes combined, in formerly only imperfectly cultivated, a remarkable manner, to promote the but of which the produce was now in agricultural improvement of Britain, many instances more than doubled by After the breaking out of the war the expenditure of money and labour. with France, we were gradually ena This great increase in our national

For a

wealth, and extension of agriculture, would be diminished, and, as populawere necessarily accompanied by a tion increased, the wages of labour progressive rise in the price of corn, would fall. But the demand for corr and in the rent of land. It is a pecu• would go on increasing. Part of the liar quality of the produce of the accumulated capital would be employground, contrasted with the other pro ed on the more expensive cultivation ducts of industry, that its price, be of inferior soils ; and, if the cultivation sides replacing the capital employed of these soils could afford the usual to raise it, with the usual profit of profit on capital at the time, the cul. stock, and paying the expence of la- tivation of the more fertile soils would bour, affords a surplus, or rent, to the now afford an excess above this rate of proprietor of the ground. This excess profit, the price of the produce being in the price of raw produce above the the same, whether raised on the richer cost of its production, from which it or poorer soils. It is this excess which yields a tent, has been noticed by al- constitútes rent ; and its nature is the most all our writers on political eco same, whether it is received by the oc. nomy, none of whom, however, be. cupier of the ground, or by another fore Mr Malthus, appear to have view. person to whom he has let it. ed it in ils true light. Most of them, time the occupiers of land might them, and even Smith himself, in speaking selves receive this excess above the of the high price of produce, which is usual rate of profit, or, in other words, the cause of rent, treat this as a kind might unite the character of landlord of monopoly price, beneficial to those and tenant; but it is easy to see, that, who receive it, but proportionally in- in the progress of society, a separation jurious to the community, who pay it. of these characters would take place ; But Mr Malthus* has demonstrated, and that, when this excess became that the rent of land has no resemblance sufficiently large, the proprietors would whatever to a monopoly, and that its be satisfied to subsist upon it without existence is not only inseparable from trouble, leaving it to others to make the cultivation of the ground, but essen: the usual profits of capital by the actial to the wealth and improvement of tual cultivation of the ground. every country. In the earlier stages Such being the nature of rent, it is of society, the cultivation of land plain, that it must continue to rise would, at first, like any other kind of along with the progressive improveindustry, yield only wages and profit ; ment of a country in wealth, populafor, where good land was in abundance, tion, and agriculture. As wealth and nobody would pay any rent for it. In population increase, the demand for such a state of society there is neither subsistence increases in the same protenant nor landlord. The proprietor portion; to supply this demand, not occupies as much ground as he can only the better soils must be rendered cultivate by the aid

of his family and more productive by expensive improvehis servants, which last are usually ments, but also more land of inferior slaves or bondsmen. The profit of quality must be brought into cultivathe capital, and the wages of the la. tion. When these poorer soils are probour employed upon it, however, must gressively brought into tillage, they be high. But as capital accumula. at first yield little or no rent, but they ted beyond the means of employing are cultivated if they can be made to it on the most fertile lands, profits pay the expences of cultivation; and,

Essay on the Nature and Progress of Rent.

« PreviousContinue »