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42,000 persons; one from Leicester to the same effect, signed by 8,000; one to the same effect, from Northallerton, signed by the whole population of the place; one from Sunderland, and a great number of petitions to the same effect from various parts of Scotland and England. He had besides several which he could not present in consequence of the determination which the House had just come to with respect to petitions.
Earl Stanhope had a variety of petitions to present against the Bill; the number of signatures to the petitions which he had presented, and was now to present, amounted to about 300,000. There were two from the county of Wilts, both of them together signed by 25,000 persons, and one from Beverley, in Yorkshire. These petitions were powerfully bitter, but such as ought to be received. He had also one from Dalkeith, which would not do, in consequence of their lordships decision; one from Hungerford, which would do; an admirable petition from Stirling, which would do; one from Falkirk, containing excellent arguments, which for the above reason their lordships could not hear, and a great number of others.
All these petitions were laid on the table, with the exception of about ten or twelve, which were not received on account of the objection already stated.
The Marquis of Buckingham put it to the candour of the noble earl whether he ought to persist in moving the third reading of the Corn Bill till those petitioners whose petitions were refused, on account of the objection taken in point of form, should have an opportunity of coming forward in a more formal manner. It could not be supposed that petitioners could have been accurately acquainted with forms of which their lordships themselves did not seem to have been well
The Earl of Liverpool saw no reason for delay. The petition from the 'Staffordshire potteries had been already published, and the nature and object of the rest must also be very well known.
CORN BILL.] On the order of the day for the third reading of the Corn Bill,
The Marquis of Buckingham protested against the Bill, against its principle, the mode of carrying it into practice, and against the precipitation with which it had been hurried through the House in defiance of the petitions of the people.
His lordship characterized the measure as a bribe given to the landed interest to induce them to acquiesce in the maintenance of war establishments in a time of peace; and considered it as most unjust to the other classes of the community, that the landholders should thus have secured to them in a time of peace the high prices which they had obtained during a period of war.
The Earl of Westmoreland said, he wished,, as Nero did of the Romans, that England had but one head, or that all its heads, and those of London especially, could have been present at the former discussions of the question. They would have found all the argument on one side; for to his mind, nothing in conviction could be more conclusive than the speech of the noble earl (Liverpool) beside him. He disapproved of the language that called Ireland a foreign country, or placed her on the same footing with the Continent as to our protection. The effect of the system of protection was remarkable in that country. Forty years ago, she was unspeakably wretched; corn bounties were introduced, and they made her one great agricultural country. The opinion of noble lords seemed to be, that such a diminution in the price of corn should take place, as would throw about a third part of the land out of cultivation. The produce of that third was about 12 millions of quarters; now where were we to get such a quantity? The value of those 12 millions would be about SO millions sterling: we had never in the worst of times been forced to buy more than 3 millions' worth in the year. But supposing we could find the corn, how were we to bring it home? We might reckon that 3 quarters occupied a ton of freightage. Here we must use 4 millions of tonnage. Now the greatest quantity of tonnage that had ever entered the British ports in a year was not more than 3 millions and a half.
The Earl of Buckinghamshire also argued in support of the Bill, contending for its necessity, with a view to the encouragement of agriculture, in order that we might insure a steady supply within ourselves, and animadverted upon the language used by his noble friend (the marquis of Buckingham), which he considered as calculated to misguide the public mind.
The Marquis of Buckingham, in explanation, disclaimed any intention of misguiding the public mind.
The Earl of Buckinghamshire denied any
people in Ireland, and many in this country, employed in agricultural occupations, could not be collected, though decidedly in favour of the Bill. It was of little importance to their lordships, whose rents were in general so moderate, Earl Stanhope said, he could not help that the fall in the price of corn could not laughing at the noble Premier's ideas of lower them, whether the Bill passed or British superiority as arising from fuel, no; but it was of great importance to the credit, and machinery. When the work-labourer that the price of bread should man ran away to foreign countries, he carried off his money; so much for permanent capital: as to fuel, he should tell the noble Premier, that there might be machinery worked without fuel. The noble prime might stare at this; but though he (earl Stanhope) would give way to him where he had his official papers beside him, he would tell that noble prime that as to machinery and such like matters, the noble prime was not fit to tie the latchets of his shoes. Conceiving this Bill to be grossly injurious to the poorer classes, he felt it his duty to move, that it be rejected.
intention of throwing blame upon his noble friend's motives.
The Earl of Carlisle objected to the Bill, as being calculated to excite great discontent, without any advantage being shewn that could be derived from it.
Lord Grenville thought, the effects of the Bill would be precisely contrary to the predictions of his noble friend (the earl of Harrowby), and he took that last opportunity of opposing it, and of renewing his entreaties to their lordships to pause, to consider, and inquire, before they passed the Bill. The effect was to raise a tax on the community to support the rents and the profits of the farmers. It was thus an act of injustice; and it was an act of impolicy, inasmuch as it caused loss to the country, by diverting capital from its proper channel. Even if he were so sanguine as to the future good effects of the Bill, he did not think that the present was the proper time for trying a perilous experiment, and of submitting to present evil for the sake of future and contingent good.
The Earl of Liverpool said, that the only charge he could bring against himself was, that he had not urged the passing of such a Bill as that before the House in the last session of parliament. Much evil would thus have been avoided. If the Bill produced evil, it might be repealed; but the evils which might be produced by neglecting to pass it would be irreparable. If one quarter of the wheat land of the kingdom was thrown out of cultivation, no foreign supply could possibly make up the deficiency in the quantity of food.
The Earl of Lauderdale denied, that any precipitation had been shown by the supporters of the Bill. He thought the arguments of the opposers of the Bill went entirely on the unfounded supposition, that the corn trade was a free trade, and that the price of provisions would be raised by the Bill; both of which assumptions he thought entirely false, because, from the excessive taxation of this country, a bounty was at present paid, in effect, to foreign corn-growers.
The House then divided on earl Stan-hope's motion, that the Bill be rejected: Contents, 21; Not-contents, 128. The Bili was then read a third time, and passed.
enhance the price at which we purchase
List of the Peers who voted for the Rejection it; and to confine the consumer of corn
of the Corn Bill.
to the produce of his own country, is to refuse to ourselves the benefit of that provision which Providence itself has made for equalizing to man the variations of season and of climate.
Sussex Gloucester Somerset
Duke of Devonshire
PROTEST AGAINST THE CORN BILL.] On the third reading of the Bill it was moved, "that this Bill be rejected;" which motion having, on a division, been negatived, the following Protest was entered:
"1. Because we are adverse in principle to all new restraints on commerce. We think it certain that public prosperity is best promoted, by leaving uncontrouled the free current of national industry; and we wish rather, by well-considered steps, to bring back our commercial legislation to the straight and simple line of wisdom, than to increase the deviation, by subject ing additional and extensive branches of the public interest to fresh systems of artificial and injurious restriction.
"2. Because we think that the great practical rule, of leaving all commerce unfettered, applies more peculiarly, and on still stronger grounds of justice as well as of policy, to the corn trade than to any other. Irresistible indeed must be that necessity which could, in our judgment, authorize the Legislature to tamper with the sustenance of the people, and to impede the free purchase and sale of that article, on which depends the existence of so large a portion of the community.
3. Because we think that the expectations of ultimate benefit from this measure are founded on a delusive theory. We cannot persuade ourselves that this law will ever contribute to produce plenty, cheapness, or steadiness of price. long as it operates at all, its effects must be the opposite of these. Monopoly is the parent of scarcity, of dearness, and of uncertainty. To cut off any of the sources of supply can only tend to lessen its abundance; to close against ourselves the cheapest market for any commodity, must
"4. But whatever may be the future consequences of this law, at some distant and uncertain period, we see, with pain, that these hopes must be purchased at the expense of a great and present evil. To compel the consumer to purchase corn dearer at home than it might be imported from abroad, is the immediate practical effect of this law. In this way alone can it operate. Its present protection, its promised extension of agriculture must result (if at all) from the profits which it creates by keeping up the price of corn to an arti
ficial level. These future benefits are the consequences expected, but as we confidently believe erroneously expected, from giving a bounty to the grower of corn, by a tax levied on its consumer.
5. Because we think that the adoption of any permanent law, for such a purpose, required the fullest and most laborious investigation. Nor would it have been sufficient for our satisfaction could we have been convinced of the general policy of so hazardous an experiment. A still further inquiry would have been necessary. to persuade us that the present moment was fit for its adoption. In such an inquiry we must have had the means of satisfying ourselves what its immediate operation will be as connected with the various and pressing circumstances of public difficulty and distress with which the country is now surrounded; with the state of our circulation and currency; of our agriculture and manufactures; of our internal and external commerce; and above all with the condition and reward of the industrious and labouring classes of our community.
"On all these particulars, as they respect this question, we think that Parliament is almost wholly uninformed; on all we see reason for the utmost anxiety and alarm from the operation of this law.
Lastly, Because if we could approve of the principle and purpose of this law, we think that no sufficient foundation has been laid for its details. The evidence before us, unsatisfactory and imperfect as it is, seems to us rather to disprove than to support the propriety of the high price adopted as the standard of importation,
the world. However, there was no lack of British ministers at Vienna. The noble lord was placed there, as it were, in the bosom of his family, surrounded by those persons in whom he could confide, not only from their talents, but from their being nearly connected with him. The noble lord, however, had cast a slur on those persons, inasmuch as he called in the duke of Wellington from Paris to conclude those negociations which he had left unfinished. If it was necessary that the duke of Wellington should have been sent to Paris from the extraordinary situa tion of affairs in France, he should not have been removed from his post there under any consideration: and though, if we consider the events which have so entirely changed the face of affairs between the time when I gave my notice and the moment in which I am now speaking, we may rejoice that the duke of Wellington was removed from Paris; yet confining ourselves to the subject before us, it was most extraordinary that he alone should have been thought fit to unravel that part of the negociations which the noble lord opposite had not concluded. Instead of such an important part of the arrangements being left by him, (as we must conclude from this circumstance, they were left unsettled), we had expected that the noble lord would display to this House all the great acts of the European Congress; that he would be able triumphantly to announce that all the great principles which the allies, when advancing upon Paris, announced to Europe, had been carried into complete execution; that their promises had been fully accomplished; and that they were, in deed, as well as in word, the liberators of the Continent. For my own part, I had firmly hoped that he would, on his return from Vienna, as he did on his return from Paris, enter this House with the treaty in his hand, signed by all the Powers of Europe. But being frustrated in this hope, it remains for me, as an individual member of parliament, at the request of the noble lord, to call for that explanation which, without some questions, he would not be able to give, and to inform him of the charges which have been made on the government of this country in his absence.
The hon. gentleman proceeded to say that these charges could not be said to be personal to the noble lord, because that noble lord had always been regarded
ADDRESS RESPECTING THE CONGRESS AT VIENNA.] Mr. Whitbread rose, in pursuance of his notice, and said :-The noble lord in the blue ribbon (lord Castlereagh), who is more particularly the object of universal attention, has, during the fifteen months which have last passed, run a great and brilliant career. He was selected by his Majesty's government as the person most fit to conduct the affairs of this country abroad-to contend, if to contend was necessary, for its interests; and being thus selected by his political friends, no one of his political opponents was found to cavil at that choice. But there was no one of his high situations which I should have so much envied him, as that, when as a commoner, he returned from his last great mission, to the Commons of the United Kingdom, to lay before us the proceedings of the Congress at which he assisted, to explain doubts, to disperse those calumnies which he complains have been cast upon himself as the representative of Great Britain, and the continental Powers our allies; and thus deserve and receive again the undivided approbation with which he was once before hailed in this House. But it must occur to every one, that after the noble lord had accepted a second time the great task of settling the relations of this country with foreign powers, he ought not to have returned leaving that task unperformed: if it was necessary that the noble lord should go to the Congress at Vienna, he should not have returned without having finished the great work, without being able to explain to the satisfaction of the country and
was not answered; but to shew that the questions which he (Mr. W.) and his political friends had put, during the absence of the noble lord, were not for the purpose of attacking a defenceless administration, but in the hope that those papers would be contradicted, which, if true, proved that a system of spoliation and rapine was carried on, which would leave the seeds of war in every state; that the great Powers had grossly neglected their duty, and put themselves on a level with the man whom they bad wisely and magnanimously combined to overthrow; or if the papers in question were admitted to raise their voices in that House, and unite their protests against the concurrence of this country in the measures to which these publications referred.
merely as the representative of our Government, and he should repeat them to show that they were not brought merely to take advantage of his absence. It had been said, that pending no negociation had so many questions been put as during the progress of the Congress of Vienna. In answer to this he should observe, that during the negociations at Chatillon and those at Paris, no inquiry had been made on that side of the House: he and others had remained satisfied till the noble lord bad returned-they would have remained satisfied also during the Congress at Vienna, if nothing had transpired of the negociations there, or if only vague rumours, discredited by the manner in which they were stated, had found their way into the public prints. But when official documents, at variance with good faith and against plighted treaties, had been published with the appearance of authority, it was impossible that they should shut their eyes; and when they saw that, without waiting for the termination of the Congress, armies took possession of independent states, and proceeded to make partitions, it was impossible that they should shut their ears to the general cry of bitter lamentation, disappointment, and despair throughout Europe; and it became their duty to call on the ministers present at the time, to know whether the reports spread, as to the conduct of the allied powers, were well founded. The noble lord had probably heard how his right hon. colleagues had been harassed during his absence; and they might have complained of the utter ignorance in which they were left by him, which disabled them from cutting a better figure: but he did not know whether they had informed the noble lord of the threats they had thrown out, that when the noble lord returned, all the political opponents of the Administration should have reason to remember and regret the attacks they had made. One very active member of the Administration (Mr. Wellesley Pole) had also promised, that if they would wait till the noble lord returned, they should have, singulatim et literatim, every thing which had passed respecting Saxony, Genoa, and Poland; but soon after, he had begged that all that he had said might go for nothing. It was not his wish that the noble lord should be bound by the declaration of his colleague, or that the right hon. gentleman should resign his seat in the Cabinet, because his pledge
The noble lord had said, that there had been propagated gross calumnies against this country and the allied Powers. He would now have an opportunity of shewing that the honour of the allies had not been implicated, that there had been no breach of faith, in those acts which now appeared injurious both to their honour and their good faith. He hoped if he stumbled, in the course of his statement, on any paper having no foundation in truth, the noble lord would give some indication of that circumstance, that he might not unnecessarily take up the time of the House. The noble lord would not deny, in the first place, the declarations of the allies in their advance upon France, in which they professed themselves the saviours of Europe, and the defenders of independent states; and promised that a general pacification should shew that they had not forgot in prosperity the lesson which they had learned in adversity, especially the Declaration at Frankfort in December 1813, the Manifesto on the rupture of the negociation at Chatillon, and the proclamations of the various generals. Never did any men occupy a position so grand as the allied Sovereigns at Montmartre before Paris! they shewed a moderation in victory which obtained the praise of all men; and had They there died, they would have died at the very pinnacle of human glory. What had their subsequent conduct proved, but that they had forgotten all the lessons which should have made so deep an impression on them, and that they wished to tread in the steps of the conqueror whom they had destroyed, and, unless the papers which he should