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The hon. baronet then brought up the
applauses of the House, as the upholder | spect to the Corn Bill, equivocal; now I
Mr. Methuen spoke to order. The hon. baronet was not warranted in asserting that the House pursued a consistent system of profligacy.
The Speaker. The hon. baronet has been long enough a member of this House to know that it is a breach of its orders to use such language.
Sir F. Burdett. I do know it, and I wish that my assertion was not only a breach of order, but a breach of truth [Order, order!].
Mr. Sumner thought, that as the hon. baronet had allowed that he knew he was transgressing the orders of the House, his words should be taken down.-[Cries of No, no!]
Sir F. Burdett. It is a matter of perfect indifference to me-the hon. member may do just as he pleases.
Sir John Sebright explained, that he did not mean to cast any reflection upon the electors of Westminster: he only alluded to certain persons, whom the hon. baronet was in the habit of addressing in Palace yard.
Sir F. Burdett. The hon. baronet should be informed that the householders of Westminster are the electors. The noble lord has termed my arguments with re
The Humble Petition of the Inhabi-
"That your petitioners, fully sensible of the value of our excellent constitution of government, though always lamenting the limitation and abridgment of its blessings by a corrupt system of administration, and the want of an equal representation of the people, have patiently endured the unexampled burthen of taxation, occasioned by the late protracted, calamitous, and, in their judgment, unnecessary war, although they could not but feel that it fell with very unequal severity on the inhabitants of towns, while the owners and occupiers of lands were in general much more than compensated, by the enormous increase of rents, and by the high price of the produce of the earth.
"That on the unexpected and fortunate return of peace, it was reasonable to hope, that this forced and unnatural state of things, would be, in a great degree, corrected; that the rent of land and the prices of provisions would be reduced; that some of the more grievous and burthensome taxes would cease; that commerce would flow into its accustomed channels; that a stimulus would be given to our manufacturing and trading interests, by the freedom of intercourse with foreign nations; and that all classes of our fellow-" subjects would participate in those blessings and advantages to which they had formerly been accustomed in times of tranquillity.
"That your petitioners have, however, noticed with extreme concern and anxiety the introduction into your honourable House of a Bill relative to the importation of Corn, which, if passed into a law, must necessarily and directly produce, and in the judgment of your petitioners is intended to produce, a great permanent increase in the price of one of the first necessaries
of life, for the sake of enabling the pro- posed some particular measures on the prietors and cultivators of land to main-subject. He hoped the sense of his contain undiminished a splendid and luxurious stituents, expressed in a constitutional style of living, unknown to their fathers, manner, would be attended to. in which they were tempted to indulge during the late war, so highly profitable to them, and so calamitous to most of their fellow-subjects.
"That it appears to your petitioners, that the measure which is the object of this Bill neither has been, nor can be proved to be called for by any necessity; that, on the contrary, the system of prohibition is injudicious; and that whenever the produce of all the land which can be cultivated at a moderate expense, is found insufficient for the support of a greatly increased manufacturing population, it is wiser to import, from countries where it can be grown at a low price, the additional quantity of corn required, which the spirit and industry of our merchants would at all times obtain in exchange for manufactures exported, than to diminish the national capital and increase the price of bread, in attempting to force it from barren spots at home, by an enormously expensive mode of cultivation.
"That the certain consequences of this prohibitory measure, if persevered in, will be, as your petitioners conceive, consider able inconvenience to the middle orders of society; great distress to the poorer and more numerous classes; a most serious injury to the manufactures and commerce of the country; a great loss of national property; a powerful inducement to emigration; and eventually, though not imme. diately, a bar to the prosperity of the landed interest itself. For these reasons, they are firmly persuaded that it is both impolitic and unjust.
"Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that the said Bill may not pass into law, and that the degree of freedom which the corn trade at present enjoys may not be diminished.
"And your petitioners shall ever pray." The Petition was ordered to lie on the table.
General Gascoyne presented a Petition from Liverpool against the Corn laws, signed by 48,000 persons. He stated that this petition had been drawn up and signed without any meeting having been held from the spontaneous feeling of the inhabitants. The opinion of the people of Liverpool had become decidedly hostile to any alteration in the Corn laws, although formerly they had merely op
Mr. Baring rose to present three Petitions against the Corn Bill, from Maryle-bonne parish, from Plymouth Dock, and from his constituents at Taunton; the last of which had come just in time to be thrown on the table and totally disregarded with the many others which had been presented. He hoped it was not necessary for any member of the House to disavow an intention of exciting tumult, as the noble lord (Castlereagh) had called on the opposers of the Corn Bill to do. He admitted that the Government was justified in using all fair exertions to suppress the disturbances, and he therein differed from the hon. baronet (sir F. Burdett), who, whatever he might do with his vote, had thrown the weight of his argument into the scale with the supporters of the Bill. He thought the hon. baronet wrong also as to the relation which he conceived to exist between the ministers and the country gentlemen. The ministers had been made a cat's-paw by the country gentlemen, rather than the country gentlemen by the ministers; who would eat the chesnuts, he could not decide. As to the unfortunate accident in Burlington-street, there was no one, he believed, that would blame the right hon. mover for taking the most effectual means to defend his house; nor would any imputation be cast on him, even if any of the persons employed to defend his property had misbehaved themselves. Although he did not agree with the hon. baronet in his notions of reform, he thought the measure, if carried, would be more efficacious towards producing a reform in that House, than any speech which that hon. baronet had made or could make.
Mr. Brand said, that though a friend to a reform of the representation, he thought that question had been most improperly mixed up with the consideration of the manner in which this country might best be supplied with provisions, both by the hon. baronet, and by the hon. gentleman who spoke last. The hon. gentleman, indeed, had mixed up with his speeches all that was inconsistent, heterogeneous, and contradictory-every thing that could excite the public mind, by imputing the most improper motives to the supporters of the Bill; and he must be conscious, however
he lamented it, that the state of disturbance in which the metropolis was had arisen from such statements.
Mr. Tierney rose to order. He was convinced, from the well-known benevolent disposition of his hon. friend, that he had not any deliberate intention to cast improper imputations on individuals; but he would perceive that it went to make a member answerable for the consequence which a conscientious support of his opinions in the House might produce out of doors.
Mr. Brand continued, that he thought it most improper that the hon. gentleman (Mr. Baring) should have attributed improper motives to any individuals or class of individuals. The consequence had been, that members, that he himself was not able, without personal inconvenience and danger, to attend his duty in that House. It was impossible for him to speak of the statements which he supposed to have produced this, without irritation. He concurred with the hon. baronet in what he had said respecting the representation, except as to the language which the hon. baronet had used on the occasion; but he thought the subject quite irrelevant to a question concerning the mode of promoting the agriculture of the country.
Mr. Baring contended, that he was strictly in order, as to what he had said respecting parliamentary reform; and he repeated that the measure then before the House would injure the reputation of that House with the people. They would lose more by persevering in that measure than by any act that had ever taken place since he had sat within those walls. He had never said, that there were persons who had not voted conscientiously; but he maintained that this was a question between landed proprietors and the great body of the people. [No! no!] Gentlemen might say "No! no!" but he was persuaded he was right, without following the supporters of the measure in all their agricultural trumpery.
The petitions were ordered to lie on the table.
TREATY OF CHAUMONT-LANDING OF BUONAPARTE IN FRANCE.] Mr. Whitbread begged to know if a treaty, which was not then ratified, and could not consequently be produced, but which had been required from the noble lord as early as July last, and several times since, would be laid upon the table before the debate (VOL. XXX. )
on Wednesday. Being then on his legs, he also begged to be informed, whether Government had received any intelligencerespecting the landing of Buonaparté ine France.
Lord Castlereagh replied, that he wouldf endeavour to produce the treaty of Chau-> mont before Wednesday. As to the second question, it was true that Government had received information that Buonaparté had landed in France.
Mr. Whitbread hoped that the noble lord would produce the treaty on Monday: it contained many matters of importance to the discussion. He hoped that it would turn out that the conduct of Great Britain had been perfectly correct, and that our allies had been equally immaculate in the preservation of their plighted faith.
Lord Castlereagh did not think it right now to reply to any insinuations, if they were intended. The treaty might not be ready before Monday, but at any rate the substance was sufficiently known.
Mr. Whitbread remarked that he hoped the treaty would be forthcoming; the House had voted supplies upon the faith of the ratification of that convention.
Lord Castlereagh observed, that it would not be a greater stretch to argue upon the substance of the treaty than to vote public money upon it.
Mr. Tierney objected to the noble lord, that he made a sort of favour of that which the House had a right to demand; it was the duty of every minister to lay a treaty on which money was voted upon the table the moment it was ratified. He demanded the treaty.
Lord Castlereagh said that he was not aware that he had provoked language of that imperious kind. Ministers, without being influenced, would pursue that course which had hitherto secured to them the approbation of the House and of the country. Such terms did not become so sagacious and experienced a member. He would take measures to procure the treaty, but surely the substance would answer fully all the purposes of argument.
Mr. Whitbread complained of the contemptuous manner in which the noble lord thought fit to treat members. Ministers had secured the vote of money, and now Parliament might obtain the vouchers as they could. He contended that the confidence shewn by Parliament in voting the public money, demanded a different return. The documentary evidence was absolutely necessary; and he (I)
was sorry that the noble lord required to be urged, not only to give this piece of nformation, but the whole explanation vegarding his important mission. He inquired what money had been paid under .he treaty ?
He regarded the measure as one of the many attempts to support the defective state of the money system, and that it had been proposed at the worst time that could have been chosen. He thought that even a regard to the public feeling should induce the House to suspend the passing of the measure, even if the Bill did not appear to them impolitic and unjust.
Mr. Wilberforce said the hon. gentleman who had just sat down seemed to think, that all the danger and mischief were on one side only; but if those who had argued in support of the Bill were correct in their opinions, the measure was absolutely necessary. There was a general impression, that the opening of our ports freely for the importation of foreign corn would prevent agriculturists from supply
our home market, and would occasion a general decline and decrease of agriculture. If that were true, what could be more serious, what more alarming? If it were true, it was necessary for the general weal of the empire that the Legislature should adopt proper remedies before it was too late. Gentlemen said, that every thing should be left to find its own level. He admitted this principle generally, but did they not see that in the present state of circumstances it was inapplicable? If the whole of Europe were under one government,-if it were one great family—if all were as much disposed to dispense happiness as they were often found inclined to injure one another, he should then say, let every country produce that which the nature of its soil and other circumstances may render beneficial, and let it supply other nations with its superabundance. Nothing would be more just than that principle; but it was worthy of the most serious consideration, that those very countries from which we might derive supplies, were countries which, at no great length of time, might be united against this nation. If that were the case, we had sufficient reasons for not trusting to their kindness, or good policy. As to having been supplied by France at a particular period, he begged the House to remember, that that was not owing to the situation of our commerce, but because the French emperor found it a productive source of revenue. But would gentlemen put the happiness of so many millions upon an issue like that? Would they trust to the tender mercies of France for supplies? Would they trust to any commercial interests whatever? No; there could not be any truth more
Lord Castlereagh replied, that no money had been paid under it.
Mr. Whitbread said that the intelligence gave him great satisfaction; and after a few words from lord Castlereagh, the subject was dropped, on an understanding that, if possible, the treaty should be laid upon the table.
Mr. Wilberforce wished to know whether the noble lord would give the House some intimation of what had passed at the Congress on the subject of the abolition of the slave trade?
Lord Castlereagh said that on Wednes-ing day next, among other information, he should state what had passed on that interesting subject.
Mr. Ponsonby said that if, on Wednesday, it was intended to call for any opinion on the conduct of the noble lord, he, for one, should not give any opinion without documents having been laid before him. He should lay in his claim, both for time and authentic documents, before he could come to any decision on the subject.
Lord Castlereagh said he perfectly concurred with the right hon. gentleman. What he should do on Wednesday was, to give a general outline of the business at the Congress, and not to call for any decision on his conduct.
CORN BILL.] Mr. Robinson moved the order of the day for the third reading of the Corn Bill.
Mr. Protheroe said, that as in the course of the last two years, he had spoken at least nine times on the subject of the corn laws, he thought it unnecessary to trespass on the time of the House now in rising to move an amendment to the motion which had just been made. He lamented the popular commotions which had taken place, panegyrised the general conduct of the right hon. gentleman who had brought forward the measure, and concluded by moving, That the Bill be read a third time on that day six months.
Mr. Fremantle seconded the amendment, and observed, that the Bill being founded on averages which were known to be fallacicus, the operation of it could not be effectual in producing stability of price.
certain than this, that a great country like were a sufficient price; but he saw most England, should be independent of foreign distinctly, that it would be better to go nations with regard to her supply for food. beyond what the consumers thought necesProvidence had given us the means of sary, in order to protect the growers. He satisfying all our wants, and we should be said, therefore, it would be with considerungrateful and undeserving, if we did not able apprehension he should stop at 76s., if avail ourselves of its kindness. He was those persons more conversant with the astonished, therefore, to hear honourable subject than he was should persist in premembers argue, that we should depend on ferring 80s.; though if we were guided the policy of foreign nations for our exist- by his own opinion, he should deem 768. ence. Did the great commercial gentle-sufficient. If, however, the lower price was likely to diminish the cultivation of land, he thought it might produce an injury to the country that it would be terrible to contemplate. On this head, one side was as much concerned as the other, the consumer as much as the grower; and if the alteration of one-fifth might tend, as had been represented, to introduce a scarcity of corn, it should at all events be avoided. Having, therefore, come to this conclusion, he felt it his urgent, though painful duty, under the present peculiar circumstances, to vote in favour of the measure. If he was in error upon the subject, his error was at least an honest one, for he had used every faculty he possessed thoroughly to understand it: and he was convinced that by passing the present Bill they would preserve from the greatest degree of danger and ruin even those very persons who imagined they saw nothing but ruin and distress in it.
Lord Barnard thought a protecting price should given to the grower, and therefore heartily concurred in the present measure.
Mr. Smyth (of Cambridge) contended, that the agricultural interest ought not to be denied that artificial protection which parliament had given to every other interest in the country. He would have preferred the price being fixed at 76s. instead of 80s. ; but now that the question was, whether 80s. should be preferred to 63s. he felt it is duty to vote for 80s. by supporting the Bill.
Sir Henry Parnell corrected a misrepresentation which had been very prevalent with regard to the measure which he had proposed upon this subject about two years ago, and insisted that that measure would have been by no means so operative as the present, as his measure would have only added 15s. per quarter to the existing import price. This allegation the hon. baronet sustained by describing the nature of his plan, the rejection of which he the more deplored, because if it had been adopted the distress since prevailing
man, who had spoken so frequently on that subject (Mr. Baring) suppose that France would not raise the price of corn, when the demand for it was increased? If honourable gentlemen would consider that point, they would find that all the reasoning was not confined to one side. He would next say a few words as to the policy of promoting the agriculture of the country; and instead of speaking of the country gentlemen in the way which an hon. member bad done, he would say, that it was the pride and honour of this nation, that we had that race of men in the country who fertilised the districts around them more than any other country in Europe. The manufacturing interests ought, no doubt, to be protected; and he was persuaded, that he, who had sprung from a commercial stock, and had so long represented a district where manufactures flourished to a great extent, would never be suspected of undervaluing commerce. But he wished it to be remembered, that no less than one hundred and fifty articles were prohibited, for the purpose of favouring our own manufactures. The whole would be injured in the end, and none more than the manufacturer. The agriculturist must be paid somehow or other; but people would give up some things, especially articles of luxury, for necessary food. Notwithstanding, therefore, all
that had been said on behalf of the manu. facturing interests, the House should consider the situation of the peasantry, who could not attend to plead their own cause; they should consider them as calling on the Parliament with ten thousand tongues, to protect them and their families. With respect to the restricting price, he had not heard one single argument to shew, that because the sum was fixed at 80s., the price of corn must necessarily be raised to that extent. But that price would afford a sufficient inducement to the agriculturist to improve his lands, because he knew that his expenses would be repaid by it. He should have thought, however, that 76s.