« PreviousContinue »
the blessings of peace to the poor man? Mr. Philips said, that according to the Did they consist in a lower price to him argument of the hon. gentleman, agricul. for his luxuries or his plearures ? No. In ture had stimulated commerce; but the the low price of bread. How did we fact was, that commerce had stimulated render the blessings of peace intelligible agriculture. One object, it had been to a poor man's mind ? By talking to urged, was to prevent fluctuation of price; him of a lower price of his daily bread. but no argument bad been employed to And now we barbarously and insultingly shew how it was to be prevented; and told him to enter with us into an abstract yet, before that was shewn, the House was and distant speculation, on a standard price to be told that the restricting price was of corn, which began by raising it, and by to occasion cheapness, and prevent flucplacing him for ever a wretched depend- tuation. If high rents could be fairly and ant on the bounty of a parish overseer. justly obtained, he would not object to He had never given a more cordial or them; but those who opposed this meaeager vote than the one he should give sure, complained of landholders taking for the hon, baronet's amendment.
unnatural and artificial means to increase Mr. Douglas completely acquiesced in rents. During the last twenty years, the the principle of the Bill, though he thought value of the fee simple had been doubled, the price of 80s. too high : that point and rents had been raised in proportion. being fitly arranged, he was convinced Gentlemen had boasted of ihe superior that it would promote materially the ge. condition of the agriculturists; but he neral prosperity of the empire. It should maintained, that it was the manufacturers be recollected, that it had been two years who had chiefly contributed to the supe under the consideration of parliament. port of the country. The House should, With respect to the exorbitant rents, it therefore, pause, before they adopted a should be remembered, that in what were measure which could not fail to be in. called the good old times, the landlord jurious to that description of persons. It was in the habit of receiving rent to the was by means of the demand for agricul. amount of one-third of the produce, but tural produce that high rents had been now all that was allowed him was a fourth, obtained, and that demand had been from and sometimes only a fifth. It was only the manufacturers. From whence, he by acting in a liberal spirit that our ma would ask, had our army and navy been nufactures had flourished ; and the agri- supplied ? It had been said, from the agriculture of the country, with the same en culturists only; but the noble lord at the couragement, without detriment to trade, head of the war department could not would thrive in an equal proportion. It fail to acknowledge, that they were furwas said that land-owners had derived nished also from the commercial and magreat advantages from the events of war; nufacturing classes. It would be a great but the liberal principles on which they misfortune to the country, if the people had acted ought not to be forgotten. It were to be told that the commercial and was impossible that the labouring agricul- manufacturing interests were to be little turists could subsist in England as they did attended to, and all the consideration was even in the most favoured countries of the to be given to the agriculturists. Proper continent that he had recently visited, and respect should be paid to the voice of the where he saw the peasants living upon people, and he trusted that those who had peas, beans, and the lowest fare, in order been advocates for this measure would io supply wheat to the peasantry of Great not proceed in a course which must tend Brilain. He allowed thal the petitions to increase the popular ferment. upon the table were numerous, but the Mr. Wellesley Pole said, that not having condition of the people and the means yet spoken upon this subject, he was they possessed of forming an accurate anxious to take an opportunity of ex. judgment ought to be considered when pressing bis high approbation of the meathe value of those pelitions was to be esti- sure before the House, in all its parts. mated. Those who were most deeply in. He wished it to be distinctly understood, terested on the other side of the question that it was his decided opinion that a wiser had comparatively few opportunities of measure could not have been brought forcoming before Parliament, and, besides, ward; and he hoped that his right hon. the arguments employed against the Bill friend would not be induced to shrink were such as readily to alarm the preju. from his duty, or to alter the measure in dices of the lower orders of the community. any respect, either as applied to the prin. ciple or to the execution. He thought, tionably too high. He thought, too, the 80s. was the price that ought to be fixed, proposed restrictive price of 80s. was much to protect the grower of corn, and to en- more than was necessary to protect the able him to compete with foreign markets: agricultural interests, and under that im. it ought to be recollected, that it was only pression alone he should vote for the a protecting price, and not a sum which motion of the hon. baronet. He took the the farmer would obtain for his wheat opportunity of stating, that he had preHe was persuaded that no Bill could have sented a petition from Newcastle-uponbeen introduced that would at once so well Tyne, signed by 25,000 persons, which consult the interest of the grower and the bad been agreed on at a meeting where consumer, the farmer, land owner, and ma- the business had been transacted with the nufacturer. Was it politic and just to reduce utmost decorum and unanimity. He was the rental of the whole kingdom one-fourth? sorry that he could not go the whole Would the hon. member for Wiltshire length of the petition, which stated that support those who professedly wished to no legislative measure was necessary. reduce the rents in so great a proportion?
Mr. Methuen said, he should oppose the The situation in which Ireland was, was Bill at all events, whether the cousequence an argument in favour of the measure be- was to lower the price of rents or not. fore the House. Ireland was one of the Though the House should not be influenced great sources of our support, and might by clamour, yet when the voice of the with proper encouragement render us in- people was so unanimously expressed in a dependent of foreign aid. We obliged constitutional manner by petitions, it should her to take our manufactures, and in time be attended to. of scarcity stopped the distilleries, which Mr. Calcrafe said, that so many circumwere the great sources of her revenue, in stances had occurred since the committee order that we might derive supply from on the subject of the Corn laws had terthem. And in our turn should we not minated their labours, that that circumgive her the preference over foreigners? stance alone would have induced him to It was necessary, also, by some legislative press the necessity of further investigation. measure, to prevent the fluctuation of It was said that the measure was not preprices. He should not, therefore, be in- cipitated, because some change in the duced by any consideration to give up Corn laws had for three years been agiany part of the Bill before the House. tated. But had it been discussed in three As to the charge of precipitation which years of peace ? Had the price of labour had been brought against the supporters been reduced for three years ? Had the of the Bill, it had been three .years ago property tax been removed during that before the House, and three weeks under period ? The country was now in a totally discussion, and the debates had gone to a new state from that in which it was when length almost unexampled. He gave due the question was first brought forward. A weight to the petitions; but when he had great deal had been said on the subject of once made up his mind, no quantity of Ireland; and he thought it proper, that petitions heaped on the table, or of consistently with moderate cheap prices clamour out of doors, should induce him to the people of this country, Ireland to give his vote against his judgment. should have the monopoly of the home.
Sir M. W. Ridley said, that last year market. But he had heard nothing to he had not voted for this Bill, because he prove that so high a price as 80s. was had no information upon the subject. He necessary to protect the interests of Irehad since, however, considered the mea- land. There was nothing to prove
that sure, and was sure that protection was by agreeing to the protecting price of 72s. necessary to the farmer. To what extent he had been a. niggard as to the Irish inthat protection ought to go, however, was terests. As the wages of labour depended another question. In his opinion, the on the price of bread, it was not possible prices at which lands were at present let, to apply the same prohibitions to the must be reduced; and he was satisfied the trade in wheat as to that in cottons true English landlord, when he saw the or other articles of manufacturing produce. necessity of such a step, would not hesi- He agreed that rents must and ought to tate to adopt it. It was necessary and fall. Rents were the effect and not the good for all orders of the community, that cause of prices. The landlords had prorent should be at a fair and moderate rate; perly taken advantage of the high prices but at present the prices were unques- to raise their rents, and they should, now the prices were low, reduce them, and be accompanied with a proportionably would not be worse off with the lower than lower price for the wages of labour, if they they had been with the higher rents. The knew their own interests they would not farmers were aware that the object of the have petitioned against the Bill. The measure was to clinch the present high truth is, that if the farmer cannot grow rents, and therefore were hostile to it. his corn to a profit, he will not employ The first effect of the measure would be the labourer at the same wages to cultito throw the labourer on the parish, from vate it; in that case the labourer cannot which necessity he had been just escaping. purchase of the shopkeeper as he was acSuch would be the effect, at least in Eng- customed to do, or the shopkeeper of the land. In Ireland and Scotland wheat did manufacturer; so that though ihe farmer not form the common food of the people. may feel the present evil in the first inMuch as he deplored all that had passed stance, the labourer will feel it shortly, in in the metropolis, and however he should the loss or lowering of his wages, and the have been disposed, if the cause had been shopkeeper and manufacturer in the di. that of the rabble of the overgrown metro- minished sale of their goods; and those polis, and not of all the people of the who say that things might be cheaper kingdom, to withdraw his support, he than they are, and yet bear a relative proshould not be induced to vote in favour of portion to each other, forget that the taxes the Bill even by the disgraceful conduct cannot now be reduced, if we mean to of the mob; and he hoped the House keep faith, as he trusted we always should, would not draw inferences unfavourable with the national creditors. Some of the to the petitions which had been presented opponents of this measure had said, that to them, from the conduct they had wit- the evil complained of might be remedied nessed.
by the landlords lowering their rents: be Mr. Charles Long said, in considering did not agree with those who said that this question, his object was to do that rents had nothing to do with the price of which was most beneficial to all, and par corn; he considered rent as one of the ticularly to the labouring and poor classes charges which the farmer incurred in the of society. The more he had reflected cultivation of his land, and he knew that upon the subject, the more he was con- rents bad been raised in some instances vinced, that the manufacturer, the shop- exorbitantly high. Adventuring landkeeper, the farmer, and the labourer, had jobbers had been found to give extrava. not, with reference to this question, as some gant prices for land, and adventuring gentlemen supposed, distinct and con- farmers had given enormous rents for tending interests, but that the interests of them; but this was in contemplation of all were inseparably connected and united. much higher prices of corn than he hoped The hon. gentleman who spoke last had we should ever see again: the rents of such said, that the wages of labour had fallen lands must come down very much, and very much, in many parts of the coun- would come down, whether this Bill passed try, and he asked whether this was not or not; but he did not believe that, genea great blessing? Whether it was a bless- rally speaking, the rents of the country ing or an evil depended upon the cause; gentleman had been disproportionably if the wages of labour had fallen be- raised, or that the rent he now received cause the farmer could not afford to would purchase more goods, than the rent employ the labourer, and on this ac. he received twenty years ago :--the evicount many of the industrious classes of dence before the two Houses of Parliasociety were thrown out of work, which ment proved this ; and, if so, we had no he believed to be the fact, the fall of the more right to call upon the landlord to wages of labour, in that case, he considered reduce those rents, which were not unreato be a great evil; it was a mockery to sonable, than we had to call upon the tell the labourer that he was to have bread manufacturer to sell his goods at a less cheap, if you did not give him wages to profit than that at which he now sold buy it. Many of the poor be had heard had ihem. Nor would such a reduction of rent, signed the petitions against the Bill, upon if we could enforce it, cure the evil; for being asked whether they wished to have there is much land now in the cultivation bread cheap or dear. Who did not wish of corn, which would not pay the expenses for cheapness, as far as it was practicable at the present price, even if it were let to to attain it? But if they had been told that the farmer rent-free. Several gentlemen a very low price of bread would necessarily had argued that the protecting price of (VOL. XXX.)
80s. the quarter, would be the actual price: protect the agriculture of the country,
Many of our manufactures had report to take it into farther consideration, been protected by restraints and prohibi. with any view to conciliation,' he should tions upon foreign importation : the Legis- not think the amendment necessary. But lature had done this, not for the sake of seeing that so many gentlemen on the the manufacturer, but for the general in other side declared their determination terests of the community ; 30 he would not to give way, that indeed they would
make no concession whatever to the opi. | the Bill was about to be committed, it was nion of the country, if this resolution were said by its promoters, that when it bad not relaxed, he should feel it his duty to gone through the committee, the country take every opportunity of opposing such a would be best enabled to understand and measure. If it were stated from any au- judge of its merits; but now that it had thority, that it would be proposed in any passed the committee, it seemed the resofuture stage to reconsider the Bill, in order lution not to afford the country time to to reconcile the public to its adoption, he judge upon the subject; nay, nor even should not resist the original motion; but due time to let the people at large become if the gentlemen opposite continued to acquainted with it. He maintained that press the measure in its present shape, no instance had ever occurred in which a and with the rapidity that appeared the measure of importance had been so hurwish of some members, he should feel ried, even where there was no such mani. himself bound to avail himself of every festation of public opinion. But the dif, occasion that offered to oppose its progress ferences which existed among even thosa and adoption.
who were essentially of the same opinion Mr. Preston renewed his former senti: as to the principle of the Bill, furnished a ments in favour of the measure, and denied reason for farther deliberation. Soine that the tenantry were inclined to give differed upon the question of average ; up their leases from any pressure of high others upon the subject of assize. In his rents. In his opinion ihe Bill was essen opinion, as the House determined to grant' tial, and that to fix upon a lower price what was called a protection to agriculture, than 80s. would only be deceiving the it would be better to settle this matter by House and the country.
duties than by prohibitions, because, by Mr. Baring thought it would be an out- such an arrangement money would be re, rage upon the opinion of the public to ceived by our own Eschequer, instead of press the measure with the precipitancy being put into the pockets of foreigners. alluded to, but which he could not believe For if the import price were settled at to be seriously intended by the gentlemen | 80s. it would be absurd to expect that on the other side, until the design was corn could be had from foreigners at less actually avowed by some authority. A than that price. Indeed, such corn could measure of such importance had certainly not be looked for at less than $2s., or 835. never been so hurried through the House. and the difference would, of course, go to On all former propositions with respect to foreigners, instead of being received, as he corn, the public were allowed ample time proposed, by our own Treasury; but the to consider and understand the subject plan would be still more productive if the before it was passed into a law. He hoped scale of duties commenced at 038. It that a similar opportunity would be af. seemed, however, that the advocates of forded upon this occasion. If, however, this measure objected to his proposition, his hopes were unfounded, and it was the however preferable for the public interest, intention of the promoters of this measure lest the idea of a duty upon corn should to push it forward with such rapidity, he excite an outcry. These gentlemen were should think it his duty to oppose it in probably influenced in the choice of pros every stage.
hibition rather than duties, by a mere wish Mr. Forbes said, that from all the infor. 10 catch at a little popularity.. ['No, no,'. mation which he had received, and espe- from several voices]. Well, these gen. cially from Scotland, 76s. was deemed 10 tlemen possibly cuntemned popularity, be an amply sufficient protection, for our , although, God knew they wanted it. But agricultural interest : if it was intended, bis Majesty's ministers might perhaps therefore to persist in fixing upon 80s., be think the public voice entiiled to some re. should think it his duty to vote for the gard, and, if so, they must feel the pro. amendment.
priety of consulting the judgment of the On a division, the numbers were. couniry upon this important question. For the Amendment ......
That judgment, however, could not be Against it .........
168 ascertained unless time was afforded. In Majority
118 every direction the people were collecting The report being then brought up, 1o express their opinion. This day a
Mr. Baring rose and deprecated the meeting was to take place in Wiltshire, in haste with which it was apparently in order to consider the question. All was tended to proceed with this Bill. When hurry and bustle to petition the House,