Imatges de pàgina

propriety of such a provision; but he was sorry to say, that he did not see how that object could possibly be at present accomplished.

Lord Grenville regretted that it had appeared to those whose experience was much superior to his own, that no line could be drawn for the discretion of the judicature. However, the measure was only in its commencement, and time might find a remedy here as in other things. It was to be subjected to the perpetual care and perpetual revision of the House. As the bill now stood, though it by no means yet came up to his desires, he could not but look upon it as one of the most important boons within the power of the Legislature to give to Scotland.

The bill was then ordered to be engrossed.

Monday, March 6.

An immense number of petitions against the Corn Bill were presented from various parishes in the cities of London and Westminster, and from places in the country; the aggregate of the signatures is supposed to exceed 300,000.

No business of importance transacted during the week.

Monday, March 13.

CORN LAWS.-Earl Grey, in the course of an argumentative speech on this subject, said, he was at a loss to conceive why 80s. should be stated as the proper sum at which foreign corn might be imported. One witness stated to their Lordships' Committee that he could not produce it at less than 968.; another had stated 120s. a third from 90s. to 100s.; Mr Arthur Young 87s.; Mr Driver 96s.; Mr Turnbull 84s.; and Mr Brodie and some others, from 84s. to 90s. If these opinions were well founded, the protecting price ought to be much higher. He did not think however that they were correct, for their calculations were founded on a principle which stated the expences of the agriculturist much higher than they ought to be. He imputed no improper motives to the gentlemen who gave this evidence. But he must state, that there were persons of authority equal to those who had been examined, whose opinion was that a price much lower than 80s. would be sufficient to protect the farmer. His Lordship concluded by moving to " institute a further inquiry relative to the state of the growth, commerce, and consumption of grain, and the state of the laws relating thereto."

The Earl of Derby, implored the House to agree to the motion of his Noble Friend. The Earl of Limeric, Viscounts Mount

joy and Sidmouth, Earls of Lauderdale, and Hardwicke, opposed the motion as unnecessary, all the information required being before the House.

Lord Grenville urged, in a lengthened speech, many strong arguments against precipitating the Bill, and legislating without full and accurate information before them.

Lord Liverpool contended that the subject had occupied the attention of Parliament three years, and during the last Session that inquiry was renewed, and the result of it was the mass of evidence now upon the tables of both Houses of Parliament. One thing was most certain, that whatever it might be thought necessary to do, should be done without delay. If they meant to legislate, they should legislate at once, but their pace ought neither to be quickened nor retarded by the clamour out of doors. The injury which the country was sustain. ing from indecision and procrastination was great. Many estates could not be sold, many farms could not be let, and many landlords who were disposed to lower their rents, could not do so till it was known decisively what course Parliament intended to pursue. Neither land nor labour could stand upon its true footing in the present uncertainty of this measure. Upon a division, Earl Grey's motion was negatived by 124 to 18.

Wednesday, March 15.

On Lord Liverpool moving the second reading of the Corn Bill, Lord Grenville opposed it at great length, and with much eloquence. Earl Fortescue, Earl of Selkirk, and Lord Lauderdale, shortly spoke in favour of the Bill, the second reading of which was carried by 127 to 17: ordered to he committed on Friday.

Thursday, February 23.

CORN LAWS.-Mr Burrell moved the or der of the day for the house resolving itself into a committee of the whole house, to consider further of the resolutions respecting the corn laws.

Sir J. Newport said, there were two classes of opponents to the measure now proposed for the adoption of the house. The first class were those persons who boldly opposed any interference or restraint whatever; the others were those who pretended to wish to protect the agriculturist, but confined that protection to bounds so narrow, as to render it altogether nugatory. To the first of those he would say, that to adopt their plan we must live in Utopia, and not only live in Utopia ourselves, but must be surrounded by empires equally well regulated.

lated. With respect to the second class, he would say, it was absolutely impossible the British grower could meet the foreign grower in the market without protection, unless he were relieved from the load of the national debt, and that excess of taxation, which at present lay on their shoulders. The right honourable baronet strongly urged the policy of encouraging the agricul turists of Ireland. With respect to public opinion, it was not the duty of the house to irritate the feelings of the people, but to soothe them, and to induce them to look up to the house as their protector; but at the same time, neither were they to give way to popular prejudice, but to act on all occasions for the general good. The measure now proposed was one for protecting a certain article of manufactory, if he might so call it; and he would ask what article of manufacture was there which was not protected? then why, he would ask, should not corn also ?-Much had been said of the population at large. Why, in Ireland and England near 9,000,000 of the population were dependent on agriculture; and were these 9,000,000 of persons to be considered as of no importance in the scale of popula tion? The right honourable gentleman again urged the policy of encouraging Ireland, who, he said, returned us corn for our manufactures; since near 4-5ths of the population of Ireland were clothed from head to foot by Great Britain, and thus Ireland became a source of wealth to us, by taking our manufactures in return for their country produce.

Mr F. Lewis, Lord Proby, Mr Calcraft, Sir N. Colthurst, Mr Morris, Sir E. Brydges, Mr Lockart, Lord Compton, and Mr J. P. Grant, severally spoke for the ResoJutions, as necessary for the relief of the agricultural interests.

Mr Horner observed, it had been said, that as the industry of the manufacturer was protected by prohibition, the farmer was entitled to similar protection. This might be a good argumentum ad hominem when addressed to the manufacturer, but it was the duty of the house to take an enlarged view of the policy of the country. He would like to know also what the farmer would benefit, if he were at liberty to procure his manufactures in any other market of the world. Could he get his coarse woollens, or his general articles of manufacturing consumption, cheaper from abroad tha in this country? But the true way of onsidering even manufacturing prohibitrons, was to regard them as clogs to the cral prosperity, and throwing capital

into wrong channels, and diminishing upon the whole the produce of national wealth.

This doctrine was equally applicable to the exclusion of foreign agricultural produce. True it was, that the farmer and the landlord were suffering under circumstances attending the unexpected termination of the war. It was equally true, that the high prices during the continuance of the war gave a great stimulus to agricultural speculations, which was withdrawn on the peace. It was from this stimulus, and the spirit of speculation hence excited, that the farmer was induced in many cases to give the most extravagant rents; but was this a reason for interfering to prevent the natural tendency of such speculations? Had not the commerce of the country suffered at times similar disasters; but was it ever thought that the losses arising from this commercial speculation should be made good? There was also this set-off against present temporary inconvenience, that during the happy period of war, the farmer and the land-holder had been making immense profits, while the rest of the community were suffering. But it was said that the measure was necessary to prevent the comparatively unproductive land from being thrown out of cultivation. This, however, was inconsistent with another ar. gument on the same side, that it would eventually secure lowness of prices. Should it be so, this would equally throw the poor lands out of cultivation. The next grand argument was, that the measure was necessary to render us independent of sup plies from abroad. This would be a legitimate reason, even in point of national defence, if other interests were not sacrificed. It was generally allowed, however, that the foreign corn imported was small in quantity, when compared with our own growth; but even if the importation was larger, he had no apprehension it would lead to a dependence injurious to us. How many other corn markets were open to our supply besides those of France; and was it at all likely that another tyrant would arise to combine the world against us? Even if such another combination arose, it would be impossible to shut us out from supply; and a sufficient proof of this was, that from 1810 to 1812, when the influence of Bona. parte was at its height, we had the largest importations of corn, and especially from France herself. With regard to steadiness of price, the best means of securing it was by making our corn merchants quite sure that they could get foreign corn if they wanted it. On all these grounds, he conceiv ed the present measure quite unjustifiable.

Mr Baring's amendment" for a time to be limited" was then put, and negatived without a division.


Mr Baring then moved that the chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again; on which the gallery was cleared, but the question of adjournment was dis posed of without a division, and the debate continued on a new question, moved by Sir M. W. Ridley, that instead of 80s. the price of 76s. should be inserted in the course of which Mr Baring moved another amendment, that it should be fixed at 72s.

A division then took place-for the price of 80s. 209; for that of 72s. 65; majority, 144.

The resolutions were then agreed to.
Monday, February 27.

CORN LAWS.-0 the Report of the Committee being brought up, Mr Barclay, the new Member for Southwark, said, that from the short time he had sat in the House, it might be deemed presumptuous in him to differ so directly in his opinion from so many gentlemen of much longer parliamentary experience than he had to boast; but he felt himself imperiously called on by what he deemed his duty, to enter his serious protest against these Resolutions, and the principle upon which they were founded. If he understood that principle right, the landlord now came forward and claimed from the House and Country, a compensation for the capital which they had invested in the improvement of their own


Mr Grattan argued, that unless a high protecting price was obtained, both England and Ireland would be put out of tillage, and we must depend entirely upon other nations for a supply of corn. Whereas if encouragement was given, the domestic market was capable of supplying all our consumption, and the prosperity of Ireland would increase.

Messrs. C. Yorke, Bankes, D. Giddy, Fitzgerald, Courtenay, Whitbread, Lord Lascelles, Sir S. Warrender, and Sir T. Ackland, supported the Resolutions. Mr Marryatt opposed them.

Mr Baring said, he had the highest opinion of the landed interest: he looked upon their predominance in Parliament as a general advantage; he considered the liberties of the country as most safely placed in their hands. He believed, that in the longrun they were the class which voted with the greatest independence. As the present question, however, affected their own interest, it might be supposed they acted under a bias. Yet in these discussions, the manufacturers had been pretty roughly handled, and treated as the scum of the earth. If artificial means were adopted to keep up the prices, there never would be any other

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the Corn Resolutions be now read a first and second time. Mr Colcroft moved, that the protecting price be 72s. instead of 80s. which was negatived by 154 to 55.

Wednesday, March 1.

Petitions were presented from Southwark and Greenwich against any alteration in the Corn Laws.-Mr Robinson brought up the New Corn Bill under the title of "a Bill to amend the Laws now in force for regulating the importation of Corn." It was read a first time, ordered to be printed, and read a second time on Friday.

Mr Baring moved as an amendment to substitute Friday se'nnight: after some discussion the amendment was negatived by 109 to 79.

SPANISH PRISONERS.—Mr Whitbread again brought under review the conduct of

Sir J. Duff, and General Smith at Cadiz and Gibraltar, and moved an Address to the Prince Regent, earnestly desiring his Royal Highness's reprobation to be conveyed in the strongest terms-the adoption of measures to prevent the recurrence of similar conduct, and endeavours made to obtain the liberation of the parties.

In the discussion that followed, Mr Bragge Bathurst admitted that General Smith's conduct was indefensible; but denied that Sir J. Duff ought to be considered as the tool of the Spanish Government. It was acknowledged on both sides, that Ferdinand the Seventh had; exhibited himself as an ungrateful, bigotted, and arbitrary tyrant.

In the course of the discussion, Mr W'hitbread having noticed the behaviour of a British officer, Gen. Whittingham, who commanded the advance of the Spanish army, on Ferdinand proceeding to Madrid, to overturn the Constitution and dissolve the Cortes, Mr Hart Davies said, that Gen. W., who was his relation, held a Spanish commission, and had received orders from his superior officer General Elio: he was a very disinterested man, had left a lucrative profession in this country, and owed his promotion solely to merit. On a division, the motion was rejected by 69 to 51.

While the numbers were counting on the division, an altercation took place between Mr Whitbread and Mr Hart Davis, in the lobby of the House; Mr D. said, that General Whittingham's naine had been used most unwarrantably; and Mr W. replied that his conduct was different from other British officers, who, rather than serve the views of the Spanish monarch, had chosen to throw up their commissions. This altercation being reported to Mr Speaker, he requested that they might be called into the House; and on their resuming their seats, requested an assurance that they would take no further notice out of the House of what had passed within that night. They both complied; and Mr H. Davies saying, he gave the required assurance reluctantly.

Thursday, March 2.

Lord Archibald Hamilton, alluding to the expiry of the Bank Restriction Bill, and its renewal, moved" that a committee be appointed to examine into, and to state the total amount of the issues of paper made by the Bank; whether they are in a condition to resume cash payments, and whether they were taking any steps to enable them to do so. To inquire into the connection between the Bank and the Government: also into the profits made by the Bank, and whether they were willing to replace the tokens they had issued, according to the

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standard of silver also to the purchase of gold," &c.

In the course of the discussion, the Chan cellor of the Exchequer stated, that it was his intention to propose the 5th July, 1816, as the period when the restriction on cash payments should expire.

Messrs Horner and Tierney urged the necessity of a preliminary Committee to inquire into the situation of the Bank, and forcibly pointed out the propriety of govern ment rendering themselves independent of the Bank, let the expence be what it might.

Mr Baring, as a Director of the Bank, declared his conviction that the hopes held out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer would prove fallacious. He was convinced that the Bank would not be able to resume cash payments for several years.

Mr W. Smith remarked, as a proof of the superior foresight of Mr Fox, that the very day after the Bank ceased paying in specie, he called upon that distinguished statesman, and mentioning to him the cir cumstance, added, "but it can't last long." "Can't last long!" replied Mr Fox, " I don't know what you may do, but I think I shall never live to see it opened again." The motion of Lord A. Hamilton was nega❤ tived on a division: Ayes, 38: Noes, 134.

The House then went into a Committee on the Bank Restriction Bill, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to fill up the blank, left for the insertion of the period to which its operation should be limited with the words "fifth of July 1816."

Mr Grenfell moved," that the words and no longer,'" should be added." On this amendment a division took place, and it was lost by a majority of 92 to 35. The Bill then passed through the Committee.

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Lord A. Hamilton pointed out the absurdity of this declaration. If the Bill before the House went to reduce the price of corn, how was the farmer to be benefited by the passing of the bill? Would it not serve to increase the very evil of which they com

plain? To make bread cheaper than it is, would be, according to the previous statements of their advocates, to consummate their ruin.

Mr Baring fremarked the same subterfuge was tried at Maidstone by Lord Darnley, and detected by the multitude. Why, he would ask, should gentlemen persevere in supporting such a measure if it promised no benefit to the farmer, and excited such loud and general clamour through the country?

After some further discussion, the second reading was carried by 218 to 56, and the commitment on Monday next by 215 to 44. Monday, March 6,

Petitions were presented against the Corn Laws from Southwark, Salford, Warwick, Oxford, Southampton, Ashton-under-Lyne, Nottingham, Chatham, Manchester, City of London, Leeds, Wakefield, Pomfret, Derby, Trowbridge, Paisley, Plymouth, and Warwick.

The House then, after amendments proposed by Sir G. Heathcote and Gen. Gascoyne for postponing the Bill till after Easter, which was negatived by majorities of 126 and1 49, went into a Committee, when Mr Robinson moved that the blank should be filled up by inserting the sum of 80s. a quarter. In the middle of the discussion which ensued, Mr Lambton stated, that on his way to that House he saw the avenues to it surrounded by the military, which appeared to him so contrary to the principles of the Constitution, that he should move that the House do immediately adjourn.

Lord Castlereagh reproached the Honourable Gentleman for not enquiring if the military had not been called in by the civil power. He stated, that the House was surrounded by a numerous and tumultuous mob, which menaced the Members; that the civil power being unequal to restrain their violence, the Magistrates had called in the military.

The Speaker acknowledged that the orders had emanated from himself. The safety of members must be provided for, and he held himself responsible for the advice he had given.

Mr Croker said, that he had been stop. ped at the entrance of the House, was seiz. ed by the collar, and several blows struck at him. His name was demanded, and the nature of the vote which he meant to give on the Corn Bill. In the confusion the mob attacked each other, and he got away with the loss of the skirt of his coat.

Sir W. Garrow said, that in order to a-, void the crowd, he had endeavoured to get into the House through Westminster Hall;

but was stopped and asked his name. Be said to the people, " 1 won't deceive ye, nor will I state what my vote will be. I shall certainly act according to the dictates of my conscience, after hearing this measure fully discussed. Unless you pursue a different conduct, you, and all of you, may yet regret your present attempt to overawe members in parliament; and if my life were in danger, I would sacrifice it in such a case as this." After much difficulty he got through.

One Member said, he had been buffetted about by the mob like a shuttlecock between two battledores; and Sir Fred. Flood declared that he had been carried above 100 yards on the shoulders of the mob, and tcssed about like a mackarel at Billingsgate. Mr Morris, the High Bailiff of Westminster, and Messrs Baker and Kinnaird, magistrates, were then called, and deposed, that the crowd assembled on the outside of the House was too great to be dispersed by the civil force at their command, or to protect the persons of Members coming to the House; and upon communicating with the Speaker, had received orders to call in the Horse Guards. It was admitted by all, that Mr Lambton had evinced a constitutional

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Sir James Graham said, that after making every inquiry into the condition of the agricultural interests for twelve months past, he could now state that it would be perfectly satisfactory to a great body of landholders if the average price were tixed at 72s. so as to give 80s. for the very best wheat. This was the opinion likewise of a great many impartial Surveyors, whom he had consulted. The landholders to whom he alluded had, therefore, been not a little surprised to find the average fixed at 80s. Was the price of labour to be reduced one third, and yet the price of grain to be kept up, so as to press so heavily upon the manufacturing interests? The amendment was then negatived by 168 to 50.

Mr Baring then reprobated the indecent haste with which this Bill was passed thro?

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