Imatges de pÓgina

himself indispensably called upon to op- which was properly constituted, and a pose it. He had beard no new arguments fair and actual representation of the peoin support of it, and therefore remained ple, would not dare to treat their constie firmly of opinion, that if the House passed iuents with such contempt. He was himthe Bill it would put the whole kingdom self an avowed reformist, and as such, into a state of dreadful ferment. [A cry might not perhaps be the most agreeable of No, no! from the ministerial benches.] companion in that House ; but he wished Gentlemen might cry. No, no! but he re- to do his duty, even in giving good advice ferred them to the innumerable petitions to those who were not over-desirous to from every part of the kingdom, signed hear it. He condemned the precipitation every where by the most respectable with which the Bill had been hurried classes of society, as well as by the manu- through the House. Gentlemen had said facturing, Jabouring, and lower orders; a great deal about popular clamour out of and he would ask them how they could doors, but he had no hesitation in stating fly in the face of so many thousands on that he witnessed as much clamour within thousands who felt themselves deeply in- that House; and if it were intended thus to terested, without supposing they must cry down and discourage every member create a very great sensation in the whole who thought proper to oppose the will of country. The high price of 80s. had been the minister and the majority, tbat House fixed as a fair remunerating price, but he was soon likely to become a mere chamber had heard no other authority for it but the for registering the edicts of the Crown. opinions of surveyors, who had been proved The hon. baronet concluded with expressto be interested. (Here ensued much ing his resolution, should the Bill pass coughing and other signs of impatience.] that House, notwithstanding the continued He would endeavour to discharge his duty and universal objections of the people, to as a representative of his constituents as use every effort in his power to have petiwell as he could, and, notwithstanding the tions presented to the Prince Regent, with disinclination there seemed to be in the a view to prevent its final enactment. House to give him a fair hearing, he was Mr. Huskisson, while he allowed that resolved to give his opinion. As an inde. great attention was due to the numerous pendent member of that House he had a petitioners who had approached the House right to do so; no such interruptions as on this subject, contended, that in many those which had been offered should pre- instances these petitioners had been misvent bim from doing what he conceived led by statements similar to those in to be his duty; and if he should be obliged which the chief magistrate of the city of to retire from the House, he would take London had chosen to indulge. He maincare the people of England should have tained that unless the measure were adopthis sentiments on the subject. There was ed, the people of this country would, ere no question that was more universally un. long, be compelled to eat foreign bread, derstood throughout all the various classes and to eat it at a dear price. Adverting to of the community than this was; it was the argument which had been deduced obvious to the most common understand by the opponents of the Bill from the ing. In confirmation of this, he mentioned fact, that during the late war every effort a petition which he had within the last to prevent naval stores from reaching this ten days received from several of his own country had proved ineffectual, he asserted tenants who rented land from him at rents that it went to establish the necessity of which had been lately raised ; and the sole the present measure, for that the price of prayer of their petition was that they those naval stores had actually been might be permitted to pay their old rents. doubled. He trusted that the good sense If this were acceded to, they would think of the country would at last submit cheerthey were sufficiently remunerated for fully to a measure intended to conciliate every improvement they could make in all conflicting interests. their several farms. This clearly shewed Sir W. Curtis maintained, that the citithat they did not see this measure in the zens of London were competent to form same point of view that many members of their own judgment on this subject, and that House did. He warned the House were not likely to be misled by the statethat it was putting a most powerful engine ment of any individual. The Lord.mayor into the bands of the reformists, who might, in the warmth of discussion, have would draw from it this incontrovertible gone somewhat too far in stating that conclusion, that a House of Commons bread would be 16d. when corn was 80s, a quarter. It must be recollected, how- | other gentlemen. He conceived the neever, that bread was now near a shilling, cessity of this high price to be quite unwhen the quarter of wheat was little more supported by evidence or reasoning. than 60s.

Mr. Buthurst rose amidst loud cries for Mr. W. Smith hoped, that one good ef- the question, and defended the Bill at confect these discussions would produce, siderable length. would be to cause the method of taking Mr. Baring opposed it, and said that if the assize of bread in London to be very the measure should be carried, he would closely considered. He did not object to propose two amendments; the one to the principle of the measure, but to the render it liable to be repealed during the price proposed, of which neither evidence present session, the other to make it conor reasoning had shown the propriety. extensive with the Bank Restriction Act. He lamented that such should have been He recommended the hon. mover of the the rapidity of the proceedings of the amendment to adopt the suggestion of his House, that many of the petitions intended right hon. friend near him. to be presented to the Commons, would Mr. Protheroe however declared, that now find their way to the Peers.

he had heard nothing to induce him to Mr. Tierney complained, that Parliament relinquish or alter his original amendment. were hastening to a decision on this im- The House then divided : portant subject, while the petitions of the For Mr. Protheroe's amendment 77 people were yet pouring in upon them. Against it ......

.245 All he wished was, that the question should Majority

--163 be more fully investigated, and for that

List of the Minority. purpose he recommended the hon. gen. Abercrombie, hon. J. ileman who proposed the amendment, to Allan, col.

Leader, W.

Lubbock, J. substitụte the second Monday after the Atkins, ald.

Leigh, sir W. Easter recess, as the time of reading the Atherley, A.

Manning, W. Bill a third tiine. He was convinced that Baring, A.

Mackintosh, sir J. the House were by no means in posses. Barclay, C.

Marryatt, Joseph sion of sufficient information to enable Babington, T. Methuen, Paul C. them to decide correctly on a subject of Butterworth, J. Moore, P. such difficulty, and at the same time of such Boughey, sir J. Morland, S. B. importance. None of the witnesses who Burdett, sir F.

Buller, Mr.

Madocks, W. A. had been examined before the committee Calcraft, J.

Nugent, lord

Onslow, serj. were even asked what they conceived Calvert, C.

Palmer, col. would be a fair protecting price in time of Curtis, sir W.. Peel, sir R. peace. Surveyors had said, that for six Combe, H.C. Philips, G. or seven years past, they were accus- Courtenay, W. Portman, E. B. tomed to estimate the value of land on the Davis, R. H.

Piggott, sir A. supposition that corn would be at 10s. a

Dowdeswell, J. Ridley, sir M. bushel. This period was, however, a time

Estcourt, T. G. Robinson, A. of war, and the supposition of that price Fawcett, H.

Ellison, C.

Romilly, sir S. could hardly be applied to a state of Finlay, K.

Simeon, sir J.

Shaw, sir J. peace. He believed that the great sarmers Fremantle, W. H. Shaw, B. of this country, and a great part of the Forbes, C.

Shelley, sir T. landed proprietors, by no means wished Farquhar, J. Smyth, J. for so high a price as šos. As to Ireland, Gascoyne, I.

Smith, ald. C. no man could wish more sincerely than he

Graham, sir J. Smith, R. did for its agricultural improvement. He Howard, hon. w.

Hammersley, H. St. Paul, H. was convinced that with encouragement,

W. Smith, A.

Hamilton, lord A. Taylor, M. A. it was capable of becoming the granary Harcourt, J.

Tierney, rt. hon. G. of the United Kingdom. The Irish farmers, Harvey, C.

Vane, hon. W. however, did not demand 80s. as a pro- Heathcote, sir G. Williams, R. tecting price; but the evidence was, that Horne, W.

Whitbread, s. about 72 shillings would be a sufficient

Horner, F.

White, M.

Wilkins, W. protection for them. If, then, they only Howorth, H. asked 72s. why should we fix sos.? He

Jervoise, G. P. Wynn, C. had heard no one reason assigned why it

King, sir J. D.


Knight, H. G. should be at that price, in preference to Lambton, J. G. E. Protheroe, some of the lower prices mentioned by Langton, W. Gore W. Smith,

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After the Bill had been read a third think proper to pronounce from being time, Mr. Portman proposed by way of satisfactory to the public, than the aprider, the substitution of 76s. as the pro-pearance of this being treated as a matier tecting price instead of 80s. On this pro. where adverse interests existed, and that position another division took place. it was not taken up in the spirit of calm

For Mr. Portman's amendment 73 investigation. For in no decision ought Against it ........... ........213 their lordships to favour the interests of Majority

.... -141 one class more than another; but they Mr. Baring next proceeded to make his ought to take a general and enlarged view two motions; the one for rendering the of the interests of all, and the welfare and Bill liable to be amended or repealed dur. good of the whole community. ing the present session, was agreed to; It had been truly stated by the noble and that for making its duration co-exten- earl opposite, the last night on which they sive with that of the Bank Restriction Act, were assembled, that unless it could be was negatived without a division. The shewn that the measure was for the general Bill was then passed, and at two in the good, it ought not to be entertained ; and morning the House adjourned.

he had thus admitted, that if he could not

shew that it was for the interest of the HOUSE OF LORDS.

consumer as well as the agriculturist, he

would proceed no farther with it. If one Monday, March 13.

interest, however, ought more to be atSTATE OF THE CORn Laws.] The Corn tended to than another in that House, it Bill was brought up from the Commons, was that of the most laborious class of the read a first time, and ordered to be printed. community-the manufacturers : he trust. After wbich,

ed that even their prejudices would be Earl Grey rose to bring forward his mo. indulged; and he was convinced that the tion for further inquiry into the subject of decision of their lordships, whatever that the Corn laws; a motion which, from an decision might be, would give satisfaction imperious sense of duty alone, he was in to that part of the community, as that duced to submit to their lordships, and to which was best calculated to produce the which, froin the great importance of the good of the whole. He could safely say, subject, he conceived that he had a strong that in order that this character should be claim on their lordships patience. It was established with respect to the present not his intention at present to discuss either proceedings, he had been induced to sub. the general principle how far the Legisla- mit the present motion to the attention of ture ought to interfere with the regulation their lordships. He could have no other of the commerce in grain, or even io enter motive than this. On this question, one into any of the details of the measure now of the most important which was ever before the House, any farther than to shew argued within these walls, those friends the imperfect state of the information on whom he valued and looked up to for which iheir lordships were proceeding to knowledge and instruction, were much decide upon this occasion, and also to shew divided in opinion. With respect to his the necessity of farther inquiry into the own particular interests, if a man might subject. For the second reading of the Bill speak of his own interests in a question now before the House, it would be proper like the present, they were entirely those to reserve both the entering into the gene- of that description of persons by whom ral merits of the Corn laws, and the parti- the present Bill was supported. He could, cular discussion of the subject of that Bill; therefore, have no motive but the obtainand he was persuaded that the House ing satisfactory data on which to proceed would then enter into that discussion with excepting the elucidation of truih-exall the calmness and all the temper which cepting the attainment of those clear such an important subject certainly re- results which could alone make their deci. quired. He said all the calmness and all sion such as to afford satisfaction to their the temper which the subject required, own minds, and have authority over the because he had observed that in the dis- minds of the public. If they wished their cussions which had already taken place on decision to be respected- if they wished this subject elsewhere, these qualities had the law, (if this Bill should ever pass into a not always belonged to them; and be was law,) to be cheerfully obeyed, -the true convinced that nothing could more prevent way of proceeding ought to be to manifest the decision which their lordships should an anxious desire to investigate this important question in all its bearings, before port. It was almost unnecessary for him they came to that decision.

to state, that last year a committee of their In a question like the present, on which lordships was appointed to investigate the the greatest number of petitions had been present subject, who began to sit on the presented, that had ever, perhaps, been 13th of June, and continued to the 25th of known in the history of parliament, the July, in all six weeks, when they made petitioners uniformly stating that the mea- their Report to the House. Knowing the sure would have the effect of preventing a persons who composed that committee, cheap supply of food to the labouring he was persuaded that neither pains nor classes, it was their duty to examine into diligence was spared by them, and he the subject with the utmost diligence and knew that they had communicated much impartiality. The petitioners might pos valuable information to the House: but in sibly be labouring under a mistake-their producing this information they themfeelings might have been improperly ex- selves were aware that it was not comcited, and the views taken by them might plete; and it was incontestable that they be unfounded; but the true corrective of not only admitted that farther evidence this evil would be to go into a dispassionate was necessary, but expressly recommended inquiry into the subject, and not to seem to the House, that they should not proceed as if they had come to the decision of the to legislate on a subject of so much imquestion with minds already made up and portance without making farther inquiry, determined. If the people were right in and obtaining that knowledge on subjects their views, they had a claim on their on which they were defective. The Relordships to interfere in protecting them port of the committee was fresh in the refrom the injury which they apprehended collection of their lordships, but he was if they were wrong, it was tbeir lord. induced, on this occasion, to quote their ships paramount duty to endeavour to en- expressions : " Upon these principles lighten their judgments, and to shew at your committee have proceeded in the least that they had themselves examined investigation of this important subject; the subject. Let them not imagine that and though conscious that their labours the discontent, if it existed, could be sup- have not been productive of all the inforpressed by any appearance of conduct mation that they could have wished to indicating that they proceeded with undue have laid before your Jordships, yet they precipitation, as if ihey were determined are not without hopes, that their proceedto pass a measure on which they had them- ings will, at least, have the effect of selves made up their minds, and to shut proving, in the most authentic manner, the door to every objection and every call their anxious desire to execute fairly and for information. This course, he was per- impartially the duties confided to their suaded, it was the duty of their lordships charge: being persuaded that your lord. to follow; and the question, therefore, ships sole object in this inquiry, and in this night was, whether, in point of fact, any other that you may institute, is to there existed a case sufficient to make the obtain such a body of information as to inquiry which he called for necessary; enable you, hereafter, to judge of the rewhether, in the discussions both in that gulations which it may be proper to adopt, House and elsewhere, in debates and for securing to the public an adequate pamphlets, in the amplitude of documents, supply of grain at the lowest price that in the voluminous evidence which had may be found consistent with the necesbeen adduced, the subject was not yet sary encouragement of its growth.” And sufficiently elucidated ; and whether there the committee afterwards added, " At the still remained on any point a want of in- same time they are so fully impressed formation which could justly be required, with the necessity of producing further and which ought to induce their lordships evidence upon some parts of the question, to stay their opinion, with a view to the in order to render the investigation comfarther investigation and elucidation of the plete, that they cannot avoid anticipating question.

your lordships opinion on the propriety On this subject he had little more to of resuming the inquiry in a future session, do, than to refer to the Report of the com- and before any alteration takes place in mittee of their lordships ; for, with a laws affecting the interests both of the view to consistency, their lordships were growers and consumers of corn in this bound to adopt the recommendation with kingdom.” This was, in July 1814, the which the committee concluded that Re- opinion of their lordships committee, after the conclusion of their laborious in- , would admit the importation of foreign vestigation, who thus stated their convic- corn. This was fixed in the Bill brought tion, that before their lordships proceeded up that day at 80s. Now with respect to to make any alteration, they would call this most material point, had they, he for farther evidence by an inquiry, con- would ask them, such information as to duated in some way or other before their enable them to say what price ought to lordships House. Since the printing of be fixed ? A great deal of evidence had that immense body of evidence, a general been adduced on this subject, but not of a discontent had spread throughout the satisfactory nature, often resting on data, country, the petitioners at the bar stated, which, when examined, would not bear that in their opinion the measure proposed the test, the same witness often affording would be injurious to the trading and ma- the best means for refuting his own statenufacturing interests of the country; and ment, one part of his testimony being at yet, without one additional title of evi- variance with another, and different witdence, were they now to turn round on nesses having delivered the most different the petitioners and say to them, they were opinions. Looking at these opinions, he determined to hear nothing farther on the was altogether at a loss to conceive why subject. . This Report, in the opinion of 80s. should be stated as the proper sum the committee itself, was confessedly in- at which foreign corn might be imported.. complete. If they wished to allay the Many persons had been examined as to discontents of the country, this was most the price at which the grower of grain assuredly a strange mode of proceeding. could afford to sell it in the market. One But he knew that it would be said by witness stated that he could not produce the noble earl opposite, that though no it at less than 968.; another had stated farther inquiry had taken place, certain 120s.; a third from 90s. to 100s.; Mr. facts had since come out, so obvious Arthur Young, 87s.; Mr. Driver, 968.; both in their causes and their effects, hat Mr. Turnbull, 84s.; and Mr. Brodie and it was impossible any longer to doubt of some others, from 84 to 90s. A great the necessity of the present measure. number of these witnesses were much Upon the particular facts on which this above 80s.; and why 80s. should be pitched rested, he should have something to say upon he certainly could not conjecture. when they came to a farther stage of the In looking at the calculations on which discussion; but from what he had been many of those opinions were founded, it told had passed before it was in his power was impossible for him not to say that to attend his duty in parliament, he un- they appeared to him to be conducted on derstood that there were many persons of a principle which stated the expenses of the committee who had recommended the agriculturist much bigher than they further inquiry, who now were of opinion ought to be, and there was therefore no that it was proper to desist from making sufficient groundwork for these opinions. such inquiry.

In saying this he did not wish to be unIt was his duty now to state the parti-derstood as imputing any improper mocular point on which further information tives to the gentlemen who gave this evi. was required, and without which they dence. It was natural for men in their would be proceeding to legislate on some situation to act as they had done. But most important points, as he conceived, this he would state, that there were perwithout due knowledge of the subject. It sons of no less authority than those who was not, in his opinion, necessary to admit had been examined by their lordships' the general principle of the propriety of committee, who had given an opinion diParliament interfering for the protection rectly the contrary—there were persons of the agriculture of the country. Making as respectable in every way, who had no such admission, therefore, but for the given their opinions that a price a great sake of the present argument supposing way below this was sufficient for the the principle established that such inter-farmer. He observed his noble friend ference was requisite, the question then(the earl of Lauderdale) looking as if he was, in what manner they were about to disputed the truth of this assertion; he interfere, and if they were sufficiently in. would inform him, that he did not allude formed as to the nature and probable ef- to the evidence taken before the committee fect of the regulations which they were of their lordships, but the evidence before about to establish? The first point was, the committee of the House of Commons the regulation of the price at which they and here he must say, that notwithstanda ( VOL. XXX.)


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