Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

od

The sons of these wealthy agricultu. conclusion to be drawn from the evi.
rists were all fine gentlemen ; instead dence was, that the farmer could af-
of following the plough, they were fol- ford to sell his grain at a price a good
lowing the hounds; and the daughters, deal below 80s.
instead of milking the cows, were In giving an abstract of the reply
using cosmetics to their hands, that made by the supporters of the bill to
they might look delicate, while strum- the arguments brought against it, we.
ming on the harpsichord.” Mr Ba- shall turn, in the first place, to the re-
ring however admitted, that such a marks made by Lord Binning, in an-
degree of hardship existed as to re- swer to what had been said against the
quire some interposition of parliament; improvement of poor lands. He said,
and he proposed a temporary remedy, that “ if such expressions as had been

by fixing the importation price at 76s. made use of on the other side were to: be for a short time, and allowing it to fall go forth as the sentiments of the legism ha back by a gradual diminution. lature on the subject, it would cut up

With regard to the amount of what all improvement by the roots. The was called the remunerating price, it light lands would be first thrown out was contended, that there was not suf- of cultivation into degenerate and inficient evidence to ascertain what it ferior. pasture. In many districts of ought to be. It was said, that many the country a want of capital was still of the witnesses who had been exa- strongly felt ; so slow was the applimined, had paid no regard to the di- cation of capital to agriculture, even minution in the expences of cultivation where there had been encouragement, which must take place in consequence How much slower, then, would be of the fall in the price of corn, but the application of it, if it was pointedthat they had made their calculations ly discouraged by the legislature ? invariably upon a high price for la- When an honourable gentleman (Mr bour, and a low price for grain. In Baring) talked about attempting to consequence of this improper mode of cultivate sand and rocks, did he recol. calculating, several persons went much lect what was the state of the county higher than 80s. One witness had of Norfolk, before the new and scienstated, that he could not produce corn tific system of agriculture had been at less than 96s. ; another had stated introduced there? Had he forgotten 1203 ; a third from 90s. to 100s. ; Mr what was due to the exertions of the Arthur Young 878. ; Mr Driver 968. ; late Lord Townshend ? Norfolk was Mr Turnbull 84s.; and Mr Brodie

now a pattern to other counties which and some others from 84$. to 90%. were more favoured in their soil. From A great number of these witnesses the improvements of agriculture, we were much above 80s, and why 80$. might now see the progress of cultivashould be pitched upon, it was diffi- tion up the sides of hills, which had cult to conjecture. But, besides that never before been ploughed. But what several of these witnesses themselves, was to become of such land as that when more closely examined, made ad- of Norfolk, if such employment of ca. missions which were inconsistent with pital were discouraged ? What, also, the opinions given by them, a num. was to become of the comparatively ber of other witnesses stated the price poor land of Scotland, which of late which would be sufficient to remune- presented such a grateful prospect.? rate the farmer considerably under 80s. Every man who loved his country Some of them had stated from 70s, to must be alarmed at the very idea of 75s. as sufficient ;-and the general any retrograde motion in such a flou.

rishing system ; yet such was the an average were imported. To pro. threatened consequence of rejecting duce a cheap supply, would it not be the measure under consideration, not wiser to encourage the producers of only to England and Scotland, but to the greater quantity than those who Ireland also, the adequate encourage. supplied the lesser quantity? The ment of whose agriculture was so es. price of 80s. would be a maximum ; sentially necessary to the prosperity, for, if the price rose above that sum the tranquillization, and to the civili- for six weeks, there would be a most zation of a great people."

abundant importation from the oppoThe argument of Earl Grey and site side of the Channel. It was a Mr Horner, that the bill could afford great mistake to proceed on the supno protection to the English farmer position that the trade in grain was against the Irish cultivators, who could free, while there were so many taxes produce corn at a cheaper rate than in which pressed on our agriculturists. If England, was adverted to by Lord the importation were open, there would Liverpool, who admitted, that grain be a bounty on foreign growers to im- . might be raised cheaper in Ireland port into our markets. Five millions than in England ; but this, he con- of quarters might in that case be imtended, presented no objection to the ported. Such a state of things laid bill. “ The object was, not the pro. Our subsistence at the mercy of foreign tection of the English or the Irish powers ; and they might raise a navy landlord, but the general interests of against us by limiting the trade to the empire, the general interests of its their own ships. If our manufactures agriculture, and the general interests were to be destroyed by high prices, of the great mass of consumers in the foreign states might, in such a state of whole united kingdom. Even if the things, put an end to them at once by consequence must be to lower the rents stopping importation. On the other of the English landlords, and raise hand, we had experience that encou. those of the Irish landlords, still this ragement would produce low prices formed no argument whatever, in his as, for instance, in the cotton trade, view of the question, against the bill, the iron trade, and even in the trade of which embraced the whole interests of grain itself, the price of which, under

a system of efficient protection, and In answer to the argument against with a bounty on exportation, had the bill, that this country could not be continued to fall for a whole century. made to furnish a permanent supply It was chimerical to suppose, that the for its inhabitants, and that, in at. farmers could combine to raise the tempting to do so, land must be price of corn, when they could not brought into cultivation at such an ex. combine in any one thing. The conpence as must raise the price of corn sequence of a free importation would much above the rate at which it might be, that, in abundant years, the mar. be obtained from abroad, the follow. ket would be overstocked with foreign ing remarks were made by the Earl of corngin scarce years, foreign nations, Lauderdale :-He said, that “the sup. for their own preservation, would be ply of grain from foreign countries obliged to hold back their supply, was very small, in proportion to that The small quantity which we now imfrom our own soil. The whole quan. ported might be very well supplied by tity of grain consumed in Great Bri. our own farmers. Capital was not tain was estimated at 40 millions of wanting, nor was the capital required quarters, of which only 1,200,000 on to produce 1,200,000 quarters, in ad

[ocr errors]

the empire.

[ocr errors]

be

be

2;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

dition to the present quantity, great. of former times. “ While 62s. was All that was required was security ; for the protecting price, and while a bounthe farmers would not apply their ca. ty was given on exportation for a conpital without that security being af- siderable period, the average price of forded to their occupation, which was wheat had been as low as 30s. per given to all other lines in which capi- quarter.. A more recent instance of tal was employed.”

this might be given from the rapidity On the subject of the effects which with which the price of wheat had deit was supposed the proposed loan clined in 1813 ; when, in consequence would have on our manufactures, by of the expectations entertained of a raising the price of labour, and thus peace, its value had sunk to little rendering our mannfacturers unable to more than half of what it had been.

compete with foreigners ; it was con- From the papers on the table, this I

teaded by the supporters of the bill, would be seen from the Deptford and

in the first place, that it was quite a Portsmouth contract prices in Fem mistake to suppose, that the market bruary and November in that year.

price of corn would be as high as the The contract price at Deptford for importation price. In addition to the wheat was, in February 100s. per

remarks on this subject by the Earl quarter. lo November it was 668. 2d., +30

of Lauderdale, above quoted, we may and during this period it was to be re-
select the following observations by marked, more corn was exported from,
Lord Liverpool. He contended, that than imported into Great Britain and
"it had been most fallaciously argued, Ireland. The Portsmouth contract
that the import price of 80s. would be price was in February 102s., in No-
the minimum price of the market. vember, 678. 2d."
This was negatived by all experience, Mr Western said, that « if he were
it appearing by the returns, that the to allow, that there was a necessity
market price had been uniformly be-' that grain should be higher in this

low the import price, except in years country than in foreign countries, that 业, of scarcity, and the following year, necessity arose out of our taxation.

when the consequences of scarcity But this difference did not need to give were necessarily felt. Instead of be that serious alarm to our manufacturers ing the minimum, the import price which they seemed to feel. Grain was had been more generally the maximum not higher in proportion in thiscountry in the market. There was, therefore, to what it was in foreign countries,

no ground for believing, that the im. now, than it was sixty years ago. On be

pore price of 80s. would be generally this subject he confessed he was not the minimum price in the market. possessed of such ample information Even admitting, however, that the as he could have wished. But he price would be 80s.s still the price of would take, with regard to France, the quartern loaf ought not to be the information furnished by M. de more than 1ş., a price which could not Montesquieu, the minister of the inn now be felt by the consumer as an terior, who, in his projet of a law to evil."

regulate the exportation of grain, Mr Western denied that the impor- went back a considerable way in his zation price was the lowest at which examination of the prices in France. com could be sold in England after According to this projet, the price of the measure in contemplation was car. wheat in France, from 1756 to 1788, ried into effect ; and on this subject was 25s. 10d. per quarter, English be referred for proof to the experience money. During the same period of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

30 years, it was 46s. in England. At market, in consideration of the great
present, the average price of wheat in advantage of security."
France was 45s. ; and he would take On the subject of the injury, which
it in England at 80s. It was obvious, it was alleged that our manufactures
therefore, that the proportion between would suffer from the high price of la.
the prices of the two countries had not bour, which would be a consequence

of increased; and if the difference for the high price of corn, Mr Elliot said, merly did not prevent the success of that she was far from denying the inour manufactures, he did not see why Auence of the price of corn on that of it ought to produce that effect now." labour ; but it must be admitted, that Mr Western went on to quote some the degree of this influence might be remarks on this subject of M. de Mon- very much varied by circumstances. tesquieu, who said, that “the manu. In Ireland, for example, it would have facturer, if he pays a little more to his very little effect, because corn was not workmen, can lay it on his goods, and the general subsistence of the country. he ought therefore to be indifferent to In countries where subsistence formed a slight augmentation. The internal the principal part of the expenditure consumers being the proprietor who of the labourer, the effect would, of has sold his wheat to advantage, and course, be much more considerable. the workman who has received better In England, much of the expence of wages, they are all enabled to augment the labourer consisted in articles of their enjoyments, and consume more luxury, which, however, were become manufactured goods. If grain were essential to his comfort, and were, to fall so low as some manufacturers therefore, to be reckoned among the would wish, who would purchase their necessaries of life. Now, the opera. goods ? Certainly neither the proprie- tion of the price of corn must be tor, the farmer, nor the labourer.”. chiefly confined to that part of the “ These observations," said Mr Wes. price of labour which belonged to subtern, « are certainly deserving of the distence. It might, to be sure, affect, most serious attention:”. . My ho- in a slight degree, some other articles, nourable friend, (Mr Philips,)” con. but several it could not affect at all, and tinued Mr Western, “ seems to have in these articles .consisted the differ. contemplated with great composure, ence between the prices of this and the absolute destruction of the agri. Other countries." —He continued to culture of a great part of the country. say, that “the real source of the dearAccording to him, certain poor dis. ness of England was the weight of its tricts of this country ought to give taxation; and that the operation of way to certain rich districts of France this cause cannot be expected speedily and Flanders. I, for one, confess that to cease.”_Lord Liverpool contendI do not well understand this policy. ed, that the success of our manufacDo not, I would ask, these poor dis- tures did not depend upon cheapness tricts afford a market to our manufac- of labour, but upon capital, credit, turers ? Does not Ireland, for exam- and fuel. The superior advantages ple, take our manufactures in return we derived from capital and credit for her produce ? Is it not safer to were well known ; and our abundance rely on such a market, than on one in of fuel was an inestimable advantage. other countries ? Of the one we may The importance of this latter article be deprived, but of the other we can- was clearly shewn by the thriving es. not. We ought therefore, in fairness, tablishments of manufactories in those to give way something in extent of counties where coal was plentiful. Our

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

great excellence in machinery gave us gued, that any diminution of rent
likewise a decided superiority. Cheap- which was at all practicable, would
ness of labour was, therefore, a se- have a very trifling effect on the price
condary consideration, and they had of coru. On this subject Mr Wes-
the evidence of the manufacturers tern stated, that he had made some
themselves at the bar of the House calculations. He calculated, that
with regard to the Orders in Council, every 10s. which were added to the
that they considered cheapness of la- rent or expences of land, made an ad-
bour as comparatively of little impor- dition of 38. to a quarter of wheat, and
tance. As to the labourers themselves vice versa. Taking, then, the whole
who were employed in manufactures, rental of the country at 30s. per acre,
he had no doubt, that, if they had to (and this, he said, he was satisfied was
chuse between cheapness of bread and above the rate at which it ought to be
a reduction of wages, and bread at its taken,) it would be seen, that the an.
present price with the present wages, nihilation of the entire rent would on:
they would not hesitate to prefer the ly diminish corn 10s. per quarter.
latter. With regard to the effect in Even after this reduction of his ex-
the rise of the price of grain compared pence, therefore, by an entire annihi.
with that of wages, there was no doubt lation of his rent, the English farmer
that though wages, particularly of could not compete with the foreign
labourers by the day or week, had grower. If a reduction of 10s. per
risen in proportion to the rise in the acre were made in the rent of land,
price of grain, the wages of those this would only diminish the price of
who worked by the piece had not the quarter of corn 35. 4d., and this
risen in the same proportion.”--His would only make a difference of hard-
lordship, however, contended, uponly three-farthings in the loaf. Me
the authority of a report made to the Western, therefore, held the consi-
French legislative body by a member deration of rent to be a very immate-
of the executive government, that for rial part of the subject.-Mr Whit
a long period the price of corn had bread (in a very ingenious speech,
risen in France in the same proportion which contained a statement of his
as in England.

difficulties on the question, without It was strenuously contended by coming to any definite conclusion,) several of the supporters of the bill

, contended, that “ the clamour which that no advantage would be derived had been raised against high rents was a from a reduction of rents, but that, on most unfounded, and a most unwise cla. the contrary, it would produce very mour, and always excited his indignaserious evils. It was contended, that tion. Taking the country through, the the consequence of the diminished in rents had not been raised beyond what comes of the landholders would be a they ought to be, according to existing diminished expenditure, and conse- circumstances ; and it should never be quently a great diminution in the forgotten, that the landed interests home market for manufactures and were inseparable from our commercial commodities of every kind. Manu- prosperity. The rise of rents had facturers and tradesmen, it was said, been a fair increase, resulting from the would find themselves in a much worse depreciation of money, and the rise of situation, with cheap bread, and a prices. A considerable part of the want of demand for their goods, than capital of landlords had been expended with a high price of bread and a on inclosures, on roads, on draining; brisk trade. But it was further ar. and an increase of rent had generally

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »