« PreviousContinue »
together with those of the manufacturing tenantry, had no interest in the present districts, should induce the House not to question. He believed the prevailing proceed any further with the measure. sentiment among the tenantry was, that
Lord Lascelles presented a similar peti. this was the landlord's affair, and not tion from Leeds, subscribed by 24,000 theirs, for they could only pay to the persons; and petitions from Wakefield, landlord what ihey could afford after de. Pontefract, and some other places in the fraying their other expenses. But lo talk West Riding of Yorkshire. He said, he of the labourer was altogether ridiculous. believed there was a very general disap- Whether wheat was 120 or 80s. the quarter, probation of the Bill in the manufacturing he could only expect dry bread in the districts.
one case, and dry bread in the oiher; and Sir Samuel Romilly presented a similar they therefore had no interest whalever in petition from Westbury. He concurred | it. With respect to petitions from the entirely in the sentiments of the persons Fens, he could not but express his opinion, petitioning, and thought the present one that if any persons were more entitled of the most injurious measures ever brought than others to the thanks of their country, forward in that House. He lamented ex. it was those who made land productive; ceedingly thạt such an important subject but there happened to be evidence as to should be carried through with such pre- these fens in the report before the House. cipitation, and that they should appear That evidence was decidedly against 80s.; unwilling to hear the sentiments of the and therefore, if the persons best accountry:
quainted with land of that description did Mr. Whitbread presented similar peri- not consider 80s. as a necessary price for tions from Derby, Great Bedwin, and the protection of the petitioners, be conHammersmith.
sidered it conclusive on the subject. Mr. Yorke presented a petition from the Mr. Methuen begged to assure the House, corporation of the conservators of the that the petitions he had presented that Bedford Level, stating their distressed day were not signed by manufacturers state, and praying for an alteration in the alone, but that they contained the names corn laws. It was rather too much for of many land owners, who were convinced gentlemen who took the opposite side of of the injurious tendency of the measure. the question, to say that they expressed Mr. Home Sumner presented a petition the sentiments of the people. That they from the inhabitants of Croydon against expressed the sentiments of a part, he was the Bill, and observed, that as he had willing to admit. How easy was it to get already brought up one from the same petitions signed in great towns like Lon- place of a different tendency, he could not don? The agriculturists had not the same but regret that while he performed his opportunities of coming forward as the duty, he should have to differ in his opiinhabitants of great towns. The sense of nion from any portion of his constituents. the people was much divided on this Mr. Calcraft presented a petition from question, and it was therefore a proper the inhabitants of Rochester, signed by subject for the decision of parliament." If 8,700 names. The hon. gentleman de. the agriculturists could be collected toge- clared he fully concurred in the prayer of ther to petition, the difference in number the petition, and hoped the House would would not be great. The petitioners had even now find it necessary to pause in redeemed between 3 and 400,000 acres of their precipitancy. land from the water, under the guarantee Mr. M. A. Taylor presented a petition of parliament, and they now claimed its against the Bill from Poole, which, he protection.
said, was numerously signed; not by Mr. Baring said, it seemed to be held | manufacturers, for there were no persons out by those who favoured the present of this description in the town, but by merBill, that the agriculturists were all on its chants and others, many of whom were side. Now, he would maintain,. for he considerable land holders. He trusted, had had communications from various re that if the House should agree to the Bill, spectable quarters on the subject, that the the people would sit down quietly under tenantry and labourers in general felt no it; but, for his own part, he would give it interest whatever in the price at which the his utmost opposition. The same hon. protecting duty should be fixed-(Hear, member gave notice of a motion relative hear!].—He would repeat it, that the to Wills ; and also of another, for a Bill to labourers in agriculture, and even the abolish the punishment of the Pillory.
Congress At VIENNA] On the motion | faction, and he hoped in a manner that for going into a committee on the Corn would prove satisfactory to the whole Bill,
House. Mr. Whitbread did not rise to object to Mr. Whitbread thought the noble lord the Speaker's leaving the chair, but there must have misunderstood the intent of his were other orders of the day on which he question. He had asked if he did not prowished to obtain some information. He pose to give some information to the desired to know, if the discussion on the House; for whatever the noble lord might Corn Bill should last long, how it was have been told by his colleagues, he (Mr. intended to dispose of the question on the W.) did think the time was come when renewal of the Bank Restriction Act. some information ought to be given from And he desired particularly to know what the Prince, or from the noble lord in his the noble lord opposite (lord Palmerston) place, without being called for. From the meant to do in that case with the Mutiny answer he had received, he could hardly Bill? While he was on his legs, seeing the believe the noble lord was the man who noble viscount in the blue ribbon (Castle had been at Vienna ; for what had fallen reagh) in his place, he wished to ask if the from him was but a continuation of that time for making those disclosures which system of evasion which had been prachad been called for, but withheld in his lised in his absence. It would be most absence, was at hand, and if they might satisfactory to the House that the informasoon expect him to come down with a tion to be given should come spontaneously message from the Prince Regent on the from the noble lord; but if no communi. subject of his late important mission? cation was to be made to that House be
Lord Castlereagh said, he should be happy fore the Easter holidays, he would certo give the hon. gentleman every informa- tainly move for that which he thought tion in his power, but at present he was necessary. He repeated, however, that not able to intimate to him when any com- it would be best that the noble lord should munication on the subject referred to was give what he thought himself at liberty to likely to be made from the Prince Regent. offer, and it would then be for the House When he should know such a message was to determine whether or not that was to be brought down, he would not fail to sufficiently ample and satisfactory. give due notice of it. If, before this was Lord Castlereagh replied, that whatever done, the hon. gentleman should wish communications the Crown might have to to obtain information on any particular make, would be made at the proper period; point, he thought it would be best, that he but if the hon. gentleman wished for any should raise some question—that after information in the present instance, he some days had elapsed, he should call for was at liberty to call for it; and he might that which he thought necessary. The be enabled in that case to state how ihe hon. gentleman would certainly under business of the Congress now stood, and stand that, under present circumstances, whether that which the hon. gentleman the explanations which he (lord Castle might desire should be produced, could or reagh) could give, would be in many could not be given. That which had been respects limited. If, however, the hon. done, had not yet received its full ratificaa gentleman called for any information tion. Most important questions had been which he might consider desirable, it decided, and the determinations of the would enable him (lord Castlereagh) to Congress had been reduced to articles; state what disclosures he could make but these not having yet been ratified, without injury to the public service. At could not be produced. What had been present he could only say, though the pro• done, bad been done (he repeated it) with ceedings were not closed, yet much bad the concurrence of all the great Powers, been done ; and it was important to add, and every thing had been satisfactorily that what was done, had been done with arranged ibat regarded the peculiar intethe general concurrence of all the great rests of this country. Powers, who had made every arrangement Mr. Whitbread inquired if he was to unfor upholding those decisions which had derstand, that unless some member moved been dictated by the common interest of for information, the noble lord proposed all. All the great points in which this to remain altogether silent on these great country was especially concerned, had subjects ? been met by all the Powers in a spirit of Lord Castlereagh had not intended to peace, and arranged perfectly to bis satis- assert this, but in the present state of
things his communications must necessa- , and looking the subject honestiy in the rily be limited.
face, with a due recollection of what had Mr. Whitbread wished to know if he was taken place in the case of the rents since to understand, that at any given time the 1791, he thought a reduction of one-third noble lord, would lay any information be might very reasonably take place, which fore the House, as a minister, or as a mem would be a most wholesome relief to the ber of parliament?
cultivator of the soil. The House was told Lord Castlereagh said, not as a minister that 80s. was a very fair and moderate certainly.
price, but on what authority did they reLord Palmerston, in answer to the ques-ceive this information ? Look to the retion put to him, said, if the discussion on port, and it would be found, that they were the Corn Bill should not take up much to bottom themselves on the opinions of of the time of the House, it was his inten- land-surveyors, who received a per-centtion to proceed with the Mutiny Bill that age according to the high value they put evening. If, however, the House should upon rents, by which, according to the arbe occupied till a late hour in the commit- guments held up in favour of the pretee, he was willing to postpone it to a sent measure, the landbolders were to fix future day.
the price of corn on the whole population Mr. Whilbread then gave notice, that on of the kingdom. The true method of proan early vacant day he would raise a ques. cedure would be to lower the rents, which tion on the subject of the noble viscount's could not fail to produce the best possible mission, which would give the noble vis effect, and would render the present very count an opportunity of laying before the unpopular measure totally unnecessary. House such information as he might give He was himself a considerable landholder; consistently with his duty.
and from the first moment of his being so,
he had always objected to high rents, as CORN Bill] The Chancellor of the tending to prevent all good offices between Exchequer moved the order of the day landlord and tenant, and to weaken, if not for the House to resolve itself into a com. in course of time finally to destroy that mittee on the Corn Bill. On the question, desirable attachment which, in his opinion, that the Speaker do leave ihe chair, ought ever to subsist between persons so
Sir Gilbert Heathcote rose to object to it. closely and intimately connected in point He said, that improper notives had been of mutual interests. He thought the preimputed to the landed proprietors; but, sent measure might be avoided by enhowever faulty their motives might have powering the Prince Regent, with the ad. been, the blame was more attributable to vice of his privy council, to stop the imthe Government, who had given their sanc- portation of foreign corn, whenever it tion to the measure, when their duty might be found necessary, and by that ought to have pointed out to them that means make the measure a temporary one. they had no right or business to interfere In addition to this, it ought to be the pecubetween two parties so situated as were liar care and conduct of ministers to introthe landed proprietors and the manufac- duce economy into every department, both wring interests; nay, indeed, as appeared civil and military; and he had not a from the innumerable petitions, he might doubt but by these means the country say between the landed interest and a vast would be relieved from its present presmajority of the whole nation. But he must sure, without resorting to a measure so unnow call the attention of the House to the popular as the present Bill evidently.was real question, which was this. The Go to the whole nation. He wished most vernment wanted to wind up the expenses particularly to call the attention of the of the war; the sum was no less than landed interest to the melancholy events 20,000,000l.; and in order to prevail on which were consequent on the French rethe landed interest to support them in the volution. He would beg them to recol. measures necessary to raise this sum, mi. lect who were the persons that formed the nisters bad thrown out the alluring bait of great mass of the refugees who emigrated giving their aid to this measure respecting to this country on that lamentable occa. the corn laws. It was in vain to come to sion. They would find that the great any fair decision on the subject by the majority of these unhappy fugitives from means which had been proposed; the only their native land were great landed proway to meet the matter fairly, would be prietors, who had brought on the revoluby an immediate reduction of the rents; tion and the direful effects attendant on it,
by rack rents, and treating with contempt in favour of it. Who were the evidence ? the calls of a suffering people, groaning Men whose characters were raised in prounder their weight and pressure.
portion to the rise of land. Every land Mr. Horace St. Paul declared, that he holder, he contended, was interested in would not have troubled the House with this, for they would gain considerably in the expression of his sentiments, but for the amount of their renls. If corn was the precipitation that marked this measure raised from 60s. to 70s. the landlord would in every stage of its progress-precipitate gain a guinea an acre; if.to 80s. he would he would call it, with respect to the coun- gain 21. 11s. [A laugh, and cries of Hear, try, in not affording the people an oppor-hear!) The House might be surprised at tunity of expressing their opinions on the this. Gentlemen might laugh within those subject-precipitate, likewise, as it re-walls, but there was but little laughing on this spected the members of parliament, in not subject without them. But he would prove granting them a sufficient time to form his assertion. An acre of land, at a low their judgment-and, finally, he conceived average, produced three quarters of wheat. it precipitate even for the ministers, from If there was an increase of 78. a quarter, the impulation that might be cast on them, there must consequently be a clear gain of of hurrying it, as if they were apprehen- one guinea an acre; and if the price be sive of its justice and policy: and cer raised to 80s. he fancied that on a fair caltainly such an opinion might naturally beculation be would not be found to have entertained, for the refusal of a reasonable over-rated the profits. As to the argutime to exajnine iis expediency, displayed ment brought forward by certain hon. symptoms of such an apprehension. He members, that the amount of rent made had now risen to enter his protest against no difference in this question, he would their proceedings, and after having given not insult the understandings of the House the most anxious consideration to the sub- by dwelling on it; but he would assure ject, he had arrived at this conclusion, ibat | them, that farmers in general were hostile all legislation on the article of corn was to this Bill, because it would afford a prein the present instance unwise and prema- tence to the landlords not to abate their ture ; and, however he might think a pro• rents. He could not agree with those tecting price ultimately necessary for the who asserted that low prices would profarmer, he would oppose such a law, while duce idleness. He knew that among mawe were still ignorant of the real state of nufacturers a man might earn as much in the affairs of Europe. At present it was three days as would support him for a impossible to decide on this question; and week; but in agricultural labour the busiit might be esteemed somewhat presump ness must advance regularly, and without tuous to settle a price before we could as. intermission. But who, he asked, supportcertain the state of our currency, and our ed the poor in the great scarcity: Not various relations with other powers. We landholders or farmers, but the merchants
now proceeding in darkness and and shopkeepers-No one, said the hon. ignorance, without even that knowledge to gentleman, condescended, on the first direct us which we might have expected night of debating this question, to mention from its being made a ministerial question. the effect it would have on the quartern But what must have been the surprise of loaf. . A worthy baronet (sir James Shaw). the House to find that the speech of the had proved that when the average price of right hon. gentleman who so modestly in. corn was 80s., the quartern loaf was controduced this measure, contained no infor. siderably above Is.; and his arguments mation on the subject nothing new--no were answered only by the assertion, that thing to instruct. The hon. member next they were calculated to stultify the under. observed, that the evils suffered last year standings of the House. It had been by the agriculturists no longer existed ; said that the people decided on the meathere was now no glut of foreign corn in sure by feeling, rather than reason. How the market, no properly-tax, and the war else, he would ask, could they decide, with America was now terminaled; these when their families were starving? He circumstances should weigh considerably prayed the House to pause before they in the decision of this question. The decided on so momentous a point; and de. House likewise should consider who those clared that although a friend to the landed persons were that promoted this measure, interest, be considered the general welfare who the committee were that sat on the of the empire as more important. The bon. subject. Many of them were prejudiced gentleman then enumeraied the various (VOL. XXX.).
circumstances which were connected with tiously considering the question — after this question; and observed, that if the examining it, as far as his judgment al. House were deficient in information on any lowed him, in its various bearinge, to give one of these points, they ought to pause the measure before the House, important until they were perfectly satisfied. They as it was to every branch of the commu. ought to be completely acquainted with all nity, from one end of the empire to the the circumstances growing out of the situa- other, his decided support. To make the tion of the times. At the present moment, legislature beloved and respected, it was when the affairs of Europe were by no necessary that they should act in a firm means settled, when a great variety of in- and determined manner. They would terests were to be balanced, he thought the never be able to keep themselves in that House ought not lo precipitate a measure proud and honourable situation, if, by of such vital importance. He considered clamours without doors, and by cheers the hurrying of this Bill through the within, they were deterred from pursuing House, at this period, as originating in the that course, which their judgment pointed grossest prejudice and ignorance of the out to them as the most desirable to be subject: But, at the same time, he be- followed. It was not his intention, on the lieved that there was not an individual in grounds stated by an hon. gentleman near that House who was desirous of raising him, to vote for 80s. as the protecting the price of corn on the community. The price; but he would support 76s., and he hon. gentleman concluded by observing, thought, by so doing, that he should be that they would assist the agricultural in- essentially serving the best interests of terest more by abstaining, at present, from the country. any interference with the corn laws, than Mr. Ellison supported the motion, and by pressing forward this or any other mea. observed, that the assize of bread rensure connected with the subject.
dered the price of that necessary of life Mr. Vyse declared himself to be friendly bigher in London than in the country. to the interests of the agriculturist, which He thought the amount of the protecting it was his intention to support, not from price was comparatively of litile conseany partial or unworthy motive, but be. quence. If 76s. was agreeable to the cause, if some measure like that before country, he should be very well satisfied ; the House were not followed up, the state the object was to give confidence to the would be menaced with the greatest farmer. It would be most unjust that the danger. He was convinced, that the ef agriculturist, after sinking his capital in fect of the measure would be, not to make his land, should be open to the compebread dear, but to make it permanently tition of the foreign corn grower, who, cheap. The Bill before the House had from the small burthens to which he was been, in his opinion, met with unmerited subjected, might undersell him. He said, reprobation within doors, and with machi. that when individuals had applied to him nations and contrivances without. on the subject of petitioning parliament bill protecting the agriculturist, were not with reference to this measure, he had sanctioned by that House, the consequence endeavoured to dissuade them from any would be, that France, who could not interference, because he thought the ques. fight this country in a time of war, would tion had better be left to the deliberative have the power of starving her in a period wisdom of parliament, which would adopt of peace. From one end of the country such measures, and such measures only, to the other, if the object and intention as were calculated to benefit the empire of the Bill were clearly explained—if its in general. He was extremely adverse to merits were fairly described if it were the line of argument taken by those who shown to be a measure, as it really was, opposed the Bill, which went to divide the which would benefit no class in particular, country into two classes, the agricultural but would be useful to all then he was and the manufacturing. Now, he had sure that a greater number of persons always considered their interests as one would express themselves in favour of the and the same; he had ever looked upon proposed alteration, than had been in the people of England as one great united duced to declare their hostility to it. Much body, however subdivided with respect to clamour had been unfairly excited against their pursuits and professions. No man the Bill; but if the clamour were ten despised clamour more than he did. They times greater, he would support it. He were met together to do their duty, and felt it his duty, after coolly and conscien- he trusted they would not be prevented,