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the supply? Certainly not; for it would vantages were obvious; but how long those cut off one source of present supply with disadvantages were expected to last, ibey out adding any other adequate to our in- had not been told. He thought the assercreasing wants.
tion quite too vague to satisfy their lord. He was aware of the general argument ships, that the country was capable of wbich might here be urged, that as the growing corn sufficient for its consumpultimate effect of the Bill would be to 'en. tion, because the assertion of that capacity courage and give a stimulus to our own | did not state whether it referred to the agriculture, we should, bereafter, grow an present amount of our population or to independent and ample supply, which our probable increase. "In what ratio to would secure a steady and moderate price; our population, therefore, he would ask, but, in order to give that encouragement, was ibis capacity of production conceived they were beginning by raising it above to exist, or what amount of capital should its natural level. Nothing else was in. be employed to render that capacity eftended by the measure. What might be fective? When this capacity was asserted, its future operation he could not undertake he thought it should be also shewn what to say; but it was now brought forward sacrifice of national wealth would be nefor the avowed object of preventing corn cessary to render our produce of corn from falling back to that price which it adequate to the wants of our population. would bear if no restrictions upon foreign For it was a very malerial question to importation were imposed. Another pur- consider, whether, in order so to extend pose, contemplated by the supporters of our agriculture, capital might not be with the Bill, was to afford encouragement to drawn from other objects in which it was the agriculture of Ireland; but that en likely to be more providently employed couragement could be extended to Ireland for the benefit of the nation. For instance, only, by securing her from the foreigner it would be most preposterous to hold out who could sell bis corn cheaper. In that an inducement lo capitalists to abandon way, also, the price would be raised; for pursuits yielding a profit to the country, how it could be possible to shut the market in order to embark in the culture of lands against him who would sell cheaper, and incapable of producing corn without conopen it to him who would sell dearer, siderable expense, because the amount of without raising the price of the commo- such expense could never be fairly drawn dity, might be comprehensible to the in- from the consumer by a price which corn genuity of some, but for himself he con- could reasonably bear. The idea, indeed, fessed he was too dull to understand it. of providing adequate remuneration for How was the cultivator to be protected such agriculturists at the expense of the by this measure? The land at present in public, would be quite as unreasonable as cultivation was not sufficient to grow an an attempt to render this a wine country adequale supply of grain ; and how could by excluding the import of that article, it be made sufficient, but by bringing that and by thus rendering us independent of soil into cultivation which was not now foreign supply. under the plough, because the actual price But to enable the House to decide upon of corn would not repay the capital and the subject of an adequate growth of corn skill that must be employed upon it? The for our supply, a further investigation was whole price of corn would thus be raised, indispensably necessary; for the report of by throwing into the market that which the committee, and the evidence taken bad been grown upon those inferior lands before it, had by no means furnished sufat an increased expense. Nor could that ficient materials. Yet with this insuffi. effect be considered as at all surprising, ciency of materials and information it as it was nothing more than the ordinary was proposed to legislate for a considerconsequence of a restraint upon importa. able period. It was, indeed, proposed to tion, which always caused the price of. fix the price of corn at such a rate as to the commodity so restrained to rise above provide a permanent encouragement for its natural level.
the farmer; but how was this encourageWith respect to the object of the Bill in ment to be secured ? By preventing imits future operations, he regretted that no portation, it was calculated that the farmers intimation had been held out, by any of would be induced to grow enough of corn the supporters of it, as to the period at for the consumption of ihe country; but which it would begin to produce its ad. in order to do so in an average of seavantageous results : its immediate disad- sons, they must grow too mucb in a plea
tiful season; and how were they to dis. entirely ignorant of the principles of compose of the surplus ? Where was thai merce who could entertain such a notion, country in which corn was to be made for it might be as well said that those dear by law, to dispose of its surplus pro countries were dependent upon us. But duce ? That surplus could noi, in fact, find every commercial transaction was an exa market in any other country, and there change of equivalents, in which both parfore must remain on the hands of our ties were equally interested. It could not farmers. Thus the object of this Bill be prelended ihat we were dependent was likely to be defeated, and the farmers upon Russia because this country afforded become more distressed than they pro- the principal market for her produce. On bably were at present. Thus the farmers the contrary, Russia was by that circumwould be rendered unable to sell cheaper, stance so dependent upon us 'ihat this while they would be also rendered uno dependence notoriously occasioned that able to export, through the operation of effort on the part of Russia which had led this measure, for forcing an increased (God grant that it might lead !) to the deprice of corn.
liverance of Europe. The fact was, ibat But the fallacy of the arguments, or the interest which the Russian landrather the assertions, adduced in support Iders felt in their com ercial interof this measure, was in no case more gla course with this country, was the great ring than in that which referred to the cause of the restoration of the pacific danger of our dependence upon foreign relations of Russia; and why should not supply. That such apprehension was the landed interest of France feel equally utterly groundless was quite evident, from well disposed towards this country, if our the experience of the last twenty years, market were opened to their produce wben the general state of the country, and through a free trade in corn. Such a cirespecially the improvement of our agri- cumstance must indeed serve to excite a callure, afforded the most conclusive an- strong interest in France in the mainteswer to those who professed to entertain nance of peace with this country. But the apprehension of such a dependence. could it be supposed, that because France He not only deprecated this apprehension would thus feel an interest in selling her as quite visionary, but some observations produce to us, we should therefore become connected with it, which he deemed illi- dependent upon her! The idea was ab. beral;
for he protested against the lan- surd, quite as absurd, indeed, as the wild guage used to excite a prejudice with maxim prevailing among some politicians regard to what was improperly called our on the continent, that we were dependent “ natural enemy,” because he saw no rea upon those nations to whom we sold our son why we should not be as ready to open manufactures; the buyers in such cases a just and liberal intercourse with France being just as dependent as the sellers. as with any other nation. But further, as Yet from ibis absurd measure it was often to the idea of dependence upon France : assumed that this, the most independent it has been stated by the noble earl, that nation in the world, was dependent upon the price of corn in France was 47s. a its customers, who were its customers only quarter, and that its export was prohibited to supply their own wants. But it it were when it arrived at 49s. Now, if this coun maintained that we were dependent betry were so dependent upon France, how cause we brought from other countries, came it that our demand had not been then we must contrive to supply all our such as to raise the price from 47s. 10 49s.? wants al home, in order to guard against But the fact was, that our import from the imaginary danger of dependence. France was insignificant, not exceeding This supply was, however, impossible. 145,000 quarters, while our national con Some of our most essential articles must be sumption was from 13 to 15 million quar. had from other countries-naval stores, for ters. How, then, could it be rational to instance. But this apprehension of deentertain any fear of our dependence for pendence upon other nations, because we supply upon what was called our natural purchased from them, was quite a new enemy? The idea of such dependence notion. We must, in fact, buy, or we was, in fact, quite nugatory. We had, could not sell; we must export, or we indeed, usually a much larger supply from could not import. And here he took ocPoland and Holland ; but was if therefore casion to observe, that the old maxim, to be inferred that we were dependent that the balance of exports over imports upon either of these countries? They we constiluted the wealth of a country, was
quite fallacious; that wealth being, in fact, those conveniencies, which, from our pe. created by the profit arising out of the culiar circumstances, their means could exchange of those articles which one not reach at home. If the Bill passed, country could produce cheaper than an- there was no labourer who had a family or other, and which, exchange most of course, three children, who would not be obliged be mutually beneficial. But if this coon- to apply for parochial relief: the manutry endeavoured to supply herself with facturers would be reduced to this recorn and manufactures, she must possess a source, which was at present but too gene. double capital, enough to supply the loom rally resorted to by the agriculturist; and and the plough, or one or the other must even the artificer, if the reward of his toil be neglected. Now, the question was, did not increase in the same proportion as whether it would be wise on our part to the price of bread, would be reduced to abandon or to hazard the loom, which was the same painful resource. The noble found so productive of national wealth, in baron concluded by observing, that he the speculation of becoming a great agri. had studiously avoided every thing which cultural country. The country bad been might be construed into an imputation of hitherto found incompetent to grow suffi- improper motives to the supporters of the cient corn for its consumption ; and the measure; and by thanking the House 'for question was, whether by pursuing our the attention with which he had been prosperous system of manufacture, we heard. should not be able, through the disposall The Earl of Lauderdale said, there was of that manufacture abroad, to procure not one thing which the noble lord who corn considerably cheaper than we could had just sat down had offered to the possibly grow it at home.
House, which he had not anticipated. Adverting to the petition from the city The noble lord had throughout argued of London, the noble lord forcibly pressed opon a false view of the present situation the necessity of inquiry upon the im- of the country, as well as upon a false portant point referred to in that petition, view of the measure on which ihey were namely, as to the influence which this Bill that day proceeding. This measure bad was likely to have upon the price of bread. for its object not only a system by which He asked their lordships, whether they the price of grain would be diminished, could reconcile to their sense of justice, io and by which the country would heredecide upon the merits of this measure after be secured that article at a fair and without hearing both sides ? And it was to moderate rate, but it had in view the rebe recollected, that as yet only one side lief of the agriculturist from the distress had been heard, no evidence whatever under which he at present laboured. He having been adduced on the part of the said he had given his mind as much to manufacturers and the other petitioners this subject as any man-he bad consi, against the Bill. In his opinion, the ten- dered it in all its bearings; and the result dency of this Bill would be to raise the of bis deliberations was, that so far from price of bread above its natural level; being injurious to the community, it would and considering the influence of the price prove in the highest degree beneficial, of provisiona upon the price of labour, be With respect to the argument urged, of a conjured their lordships maturely to in high price of provisions being injurious quire and deliberate, before they deter to the manufacturers, he could only say, mined upon such a question. The conse that the evidence of those individuals quences to our national wealth from any went directly to refute it. When those considerable check to our manfactures he individuals were examined three years thought it unnecessary to dwell upon, for ago upon the question of the orders in those consequences must be obvious to council, he bad distinctly asked them their lordships judgment; but he begged whether their distresses were not attrito impress upon their minds the serious butable to the high price of provisions ? injury likely to result from that provoca. And their answer was, that they never tive to emigration, which must arise our experienced any inconvenience from the of any enhancement of the price of provi. high price of provisions, provided trade sions, especially combined with the known was brisk. And the fact was, that the pressure of our taxes. Indeed, it was a extra employment which was given to lamentable fact, that numbers even of the the labourers by this briskness, amply higher order of our gentry had already compensated for any increased price of felt it advisable to seek in other countries provisions. The Bill, he obser
no new measure; it was only rendering be obliged to hold back their supply. effectual the old laws, wbich had been the small quantity which we now im. enacted for the protection of our farmers, ported, might be very well supplied by and which had formed the system of ibis our own farmers. Capital was not wanicountry ever since the reign of Edward ing, nor was the capital required to pro3, who had prohibited importation when duce 1,200,000 quarters, in addition to wheat was below. 6s. the quarter. Far the present quantity, great. All that was from burthening the manufacturer, it required was security; for the farmers would relieve him by relieving the farmer; would not employ their capital without for from the prosperity of the farmer, the that security being afforded to their occu. labourer would be employed, the shop- pation, which was given to all other lines keeper would thrive, and would create a in which capital was employed.--The demand-the most material and safest de- noble earl then contended, that the lowermand on the manufacturer for his coming of rents would be attended with a modities. The supply of grain from fo- comparatively trifling reduction in the reign countries was very small in propor. price of grain. It had been argued, that tion to that from our own soil
. The whole from the reduction of taxes, a correspondquantity of grain consumed in Great Bri- ing reduction ought to take place in the tain was estimated at 40 million of quar- price of agricultural produce; but in the ters, of which only 1,200,000 on an present state of the revenue of this coun. average were imported. To produce a try, and the way in which it was managed, cheap supply, would it not be wiser to no man could say what our taxation would encourage the producers of the greater | be, and that it would not press heavier quantity than ibose who supplied the than it had done on the agriculture of the lesser quantity ? The price of 80s. would country. He had argued throughout, that be a maximum ; for if the price rose the measure ought to be adopted as one above that sum for six weeks, there would which was beneficial to the consumer. be a most abundant importation from the There was not one of the general princiopposite side of the Channel. It was a ples contended for by the noble lord great mistake to proceed on the supposi- (Grenville), that he was not deeper pledged tion that the trade in grain was free, while to than most men; but it was necessary there were so many taxes wbich pressed to look at the real situation of the country on our agriculturists. If the importation at this time, in measuring the application were open, there would be a bounty on of these general principles. He was careforeign growers to import into our markets, less of present popularity-he looked .Five million of quarters might in that alone to the welfare of the country; and case be imported. Such a state of things he knew that when they came to feel the laid our subsistence at the mercy of fo- beneficial effects of this measure, the reign powers, and they might raise a navy people of this country would not be defi. against us by limiting the trade to their cient in gratitude to their real benefactors. own ships. If our manufactures were to The Earl of Selkirk contended, that how. be destroyed by high prices, foreign states ever desirable it might be that a free trade might, in such a state of things, put an should universally exist, it was well known end to them at once by stopping impor- that no state acted upon this principle; and tation. On the other hand, they had ex while we were most in want of a supply perience that encouragement would pro- of food from other countries, we might duce low prices--as, for instance, in the open our ports in vain for it. He entered cotton trade, the iron trade, and even in at some length into the connexion be. the trade of grain itself, the price of which, tween the price of food and the wages of under a system of efficient protection, and labour, and contended that the present with a bounty oh exportation, had conti. measure would have the most beneficial nued to fall for a whole century. It was effect, in só far as concerned the labour. chimerical to suppose that the farmers ing classes. He argued also, that a recould combine to raise the price of corn, gular supply of food, at an equal price, when they could not combine in any one was greatly preferable to the sudden rises thing. The consequence of a free impor- and depressions of price which would tation would be, that in abundant years follow from such an extensive country as the market would be overstocked with Great Britain being in any way depenforeign corn-in scarce years foreign na- dent on foreign countries for any conside: Lions, for their own preservation, would rable part of her food.
The House then divided on the question | Earl Grey again urged the impossibility for the second reading: Contents, 92 ; of properly considering the Treaty without Proxies, 52, 144; Not-Contents, 15; baving information of the previous negoProxies, 2, 17: Majority, 127.
ciation, particularly if it should worn out, The Bill was then read a second time as he believed was the case, that we had and commilied for friday.
rejected moderate overtures in the hour of
elation and success, lo wbich we had af. List of the Minority.
terwards acceded when the time came of Fortescue
reverse and defeat. He did not know at Gloucester Grey
the moment, whether any precedent of Somerset
such a communication existed; but he Argyll Torrington
thought the information he sought for of MARQUISSES. Buckingham King
so much importance to the proper discusWellesley Montfort
sion of the question, that he should take Douglas Grenville
an opportunity of moving for its pro.
Proxies. duction. Essex
Devonshire Aylesbury Spencer
CORN LAWS - AGRICULTURAL Taxa. Stanhope
TION.] Earl Stanhope rose to bring forward bis promised motion on this subject,
which he prefaced with a variety of obHOUSE OF LORDS.
servations. The line of the noble earl's Thursday, March 16.
argumentation and detailed relerence, TREATY WITH AMERICA.) The Earl of were similar to those which he used on Liverpool laid on the table the Treaty of moving his resolutions last session pro Peace with the United States of America, forma, which he now proposed for the and gave notice of bis intention to move adoption of the House. He approved of the consideration of it on Wednesday. the principle advanced last night by a
Earl Grey wished to know whether it noble earl high in office-that it was was the intention of ministers to lay before essentially necessary to encourage the the House any information as to the pre- agriculture of the country; in ibis he vious negociations ?
cordially agreed with bim, and it was one The Earl of Liverpool answered in the of the principal objects of wbat he was negative.
about to propose to encourage agriculture, Earl Grey observed, that it had been by relieving the farmers in the only way the practice to communicate information they should be relieved, and to enable respecting negociations which had ter. tbem to sell bread at a cheap and reasonminated to the House ; and that it would able rate to the consumer, by relieving be impossible to come to the proper con. him from those parts of taxation that bore sideration of the Treaty without knowing the heaviest on his agricultural pursuits. what had been the previous demands, and This principle was recognised by many in what manner those demands had been of the petitions with which their lordships persisted in or retracted.
table was loaded; but more especially by The Earl of Lidcrpool denied that it had that of the corn growers of Peterborough been the practice to communicate infor- and its vicinity, in which his proposed mation respecting negociations that had resolutions were adverted to in a way terminated happily. On the contrary, be worthy tbe most serious attention of the believed there was no precedent whatever House. In illustration of bis positions, of that nature. With respect to those the noble earl referred to certain parts of negociations that had broken off, it un. the evidence given before their lordships doubtedly had been the practice to com- committee ; but more particularly to that municate information to Parliament. In given by Mr. James Buxton, who, among the present instance, however, there was olher very material points, stated, that in no necessity for any such communication, 1792, the whole expenses of his farm for and therefore none was intended to be labour was 2741. 14s. 1d. ; that, in 1812, made; nor was it intended at all to recur those expenses came to 8161. 1Ss. 6d.; to the negociation, but to ground an Ad- and that upon the same quantity of land, dress to the Prince Regent, on the terms and for the same degree or scale of im. of the Treaty being satisfactory and ad provement. That the poor's-rates of the ranlageous to the country.
same farm were in 1792, 171. 198.; that in