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year, while of grain of all kinds that I am conceding too much. it produces no less than 45,000,000 This is inseparable from the task of quarters. Think what pecu. I have undertaken. I do believe niary interests must be involved in that in a mere party sense it would the production of such an amount have been wiser for me to say, I of grain.
Think, too, of the will stand by the Coru-laws and amount of social interests oon- resist all change. Some tell me nected with those pecuniary inter- that all the change required is an ests-how many families are de- amendment of the averages. But pendipg for their subsistence and other considerations, other respontheir comforts upon the means of sibilities, press upon those who are giving employment to thousands charged with the administration of before you hastily disturb the laws affairs. I stated before, and I rewhich determine the application of peet, that in considering this quescapital. If you disregard chose tion, the arrangements which ought pecuniary and social interests which to be made consistently with enhave grown up under that protec- larged and comprehensive views tion, which has long been conti- avoiding disturbance of capital emnued by law, then a sense of in- barked in agriculture, and the justice will be aroused, which will clouding of the prospects of worldly redound against your scheme of prosperity and social happiness of improvement, however conform- those who derive their subsistence shle it may be to rigid principle.” from laud-looking again to the
He entered into a detailed ana- state of commerce, to the advanlysis of the operation of his scale tage, when there is to be a supply at various points. He admitted of corn, of so jutroduciug that corn that the country could not be made that there may be thc least disindependent of foreign supply alto- turbance of the monetary system gether, but he would have foreign of the country, the greatest apimportation supplemental only, proach to regular commercial dealand not substantial and primary. ings, the greatest encouragement He compared his own scale with consistent with due protection to those which had preceded it, and agriculture, to manufacturing and showed by an elaborate comparison commercial industry — having to its advantages over them all. Some consider all these questions, having of his opponents had said, “ Do to weigh their relative and companot disturb, unless you settle ;- rativeimportance, the measure upon give up your alterations, and let which we have determined is that the old law stand.” He felt all which we.conscientiously believe to the difficulty of meeting objections be upon the whole the most conby answers which were seized by sistent with the general interest of the opposite side as confirming the country. We did not confer opposite objections :-"If I try to with agricultural supporters for the calm an apprehension here, I see a purpose of insuring their concurnote taken on the other side ; if I rence; we did not permit the abatety to answer an unreasonable ob- ment of it in this particular or in jection there, I am met, not by that, in order to insure its success." obstacles, but by the intimation of He.concluded his speech by dealarm on this side ; and it is claring his assurance, that accordwhispered from one to the other ing to the usual practice in this country, reason and moderation thus at once enhancing the price would eventually gravitate towards of corn, you would establish a that which is just.
steady and well-regulated barter, Lord Palmerston followed in a which would at the same time clever speech which concluded the supply your wants and open new debate. He taunted Sir Robert fields for the consumption of the Peel with the general dissatisfac- produce of your manufacturing intion which his measure gave, tes- dustry. Under such an arrangetified on his own side of the House ment, the merchant would make by an eloquent silence. He said, his arrangements for buying a suptwo courses were open to the Mi- ply of corn in those places where it nister-either to have stood by the was cheapest, and would bring it old Corn-laws, in which he would home at a period when he thought have been cordially supported by a that it could be best disposed of majority in the House, or to have both to the country and to himself. taken a bold course in changing the Above all, you would extend greatly Corn-laws, in which case he would your commercial relations with the have obtained support from other United States.” quarters. It is not given to man, Adverting to the comparative much less to man in office, to merits of the Whig and Tory proplease all parties. Lord Palmersion positions, he remarked, that there admitted that the proposed law was were larger grounds on which the a mitigation of that which it was doctrine of independence of foreign to replace, but he proceeded to supply ought to be repudiated by show in how trifling a degree ; and the House :-"Why is the earth he asked why agriculturists should on which we live divided into zones be insured against the contingen- and climates? Why do different cies of the seasons, when such an countries yield different producinsurance is not attempted in any tions to people experiencing similar other trade? the merchant is not wants ? Why are they intersected insured against loss by accidents at with mighty rivers, the natural sea. The late Ministers had pro- highways of nations? Why are posed a duty of 8s., but Sir Robert lands the most distant from each Peel had almost convinced him that other brought almost into contact that was too high. Without ad. by that very ocean which seems to mitting that, however, he contended divide them? Why, Sir, it is that that the duty should be fixed and man may be dependent upon man. known :-"If a moderate fixed It is that the exchange of commoduty was established, you would dities may be accompanied by the have a complete change in the trade extension and diffusion of knowaltogether; you would have an ledge-by the interchange of muentirely different system of trans- tual benefits engendering mutual actions in the corn market. For kind feelings - multiplying and instead of gambling transactions, confirming friendly relations. It you would establish a sound and is that Commerce may freely go advantageous trade; and, instead forth, leading Civilization with one of the merchant hurrying at every hand and Peace with the other, to rise in price to the foreign market render mankind happier, wiser, on the Continent--for the distant better. Sir, this is the dispensamarkets are hardly touched—and tion of Providence ; this is the decree of that power which created However, Lord Palmerston and disposed the universe. But, bailed the Ministerial concession, in the face of it, with arrogant,
small as it was, as breaking ground presumptuous folly, the dealers in in removing the intrenchments of restrictive duties fly, fettering the monopoly. inhorn energies of man, and setting The House then divided, when up their miserable legislation in
there appeared for Lord John Russtead of the great standing laws of sell's amendment, 226; against it, Nature."
349: majority, 123.
Corn-laws-Debate on Mr. Villiers' Amendment - General Character
of the Discussion which occupied five nights-Speeches of Mr. Villiers, Mr. T. B. Macaulay, Mr. J. S. Wortley, Mr. Wakley, Mr. Wykeham Martin, Sir Robert Peel, and Mr. Cobden--Mr. B. Ferrand brings heavy Charges against certain Manufacturers Discussion thereon-Reply of Mr. Villiers, whose Amendment is lost by 393 to 90—Public Meelings on the Corn-laws— Proceedings of Anti-Corn-law Societies - Leller of Lord Nugent on withdrawing from one of these Bodies-Sir Robert Peel is burnt in Effigy in various manufacturing Towns-- Meetings of Agriculturists - Their general reception of the Measure-Proceedings of the Aylesbury Association, where the Duke of Buckingham presidesThe House of Commons goes into Committee on the Resolutions on February 25th-Mr. Christopher proposes a new Scale of Duties as a Substitute for Sir Robert Peel's-An irregular Discussion on the Amendment terminates in its Rejection by 306 to 104 – Mr. Wodehou se's Motion respecting Duties on Barley withdrawn after some Debate-Mr. Smith O'Brien advocates greater protection to Irish Oats- Various other Amendments proposed, all of which are rejected or withdrawn-On Motion for Second Reading of the Bill Lord Ebrington moves that it be read that Day Six Months Speeches of Lord Howick, Mr. C. Buller, Sir Robert Peel, and olher Members— The Second Reading carried by 284 to 176– Rapid Progress of the Bill through Committee-Divers Amendments defeated-Resolution proposed by Mr. Cobden on Third Reading rejected by large Majority, Bill passed in House of Commons on April 5th - In the House of Lords the Second Reading is moved by the Earl of Ripon-Earl Stanhope vigorously opposes it, and censures the Government — His speech on moving the rejection of the Bill-Speeches of the Earl of Hardwick, Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Winchelsca, Viscount Melbourne, and Lord Brougham, who moves another Amendment— Both Motions are rejected by great Majorities- The Bill is read a Second Time- In Committee Viscount Melbourne moves an Amendment in favour of a Fixed Duty - It is rejected after full Discussion by a majority of 68– Three Resolutions condemnatory of all Duties on Foreign Corn are proposed by Lord Brougham-They are disaffirmed by 87 to 6– Various other Amendments are moved without success, and the Bill is read a Third Time and passed. THE House of Commons have pronounced in favour of the prin
ing thus by a large majority ciple of a sliding-scale of corn
duties, it might have seemed Corn-laws should not continue ; equally illogical and superfluous and they would no longer brook afterwards to discuss a proposition, the protracted refusal of all change of which the affirmative had been with which they had hitherto been involved in the preceding decision, met. And to what a monstrous viz., whether corn should be sub- anomaly in the condition of Engjected to any duties at all. The land had the law given birth! A motion to that effect, however, of territory unexcelled in the abunwhich Mr. Villiers had previously dant resources of nature and accugiven notice, he did not now think mulated wealth, yet labouring proper to withdraw, and after four under such a weight of distress nights of debate upon Lord John that Government had admitted it Russell's amendment, the whole could not be exaggerated ! Food subject was re-opened, and five was becoming scarcer, and the more evenings employed in a dis- people were every hour sinking cussion of the conflicting argu- in the scale of human beings; yet ments for protection or free-trade. the food which they demanded It cannot be deemed surprising they could not have, because the under these circumstances, that owners of the soil had established this second stage of a conflict de- barriers between our island and prived of all its interest by the the two civilized continents beanticipated certainty of its result, tween which it is placed, so that was marked by an unusual degree they should not aid us in our of fatness and repetition. It hopeless distress. The cause of would be an useless task to exhibit the distress, however, was now even a condensed summary of the exposed, in spite of every effort to speeches addressed to the House, divert attention from the enquiry; during the week thus occupied, and within the year two different by the host of Members who suc- Governments had been obliged to cessively challenged the attention concede to the general expression of the Chair. We shall endeavour, of opinion: one had sacrificed after giving a short sketch of the office on that account; the other line of argument adopted by the had found it proper to admit, what mover of the amendment, to record it previously denied, that the law the few striking or original pas- must be changed. He objected, sages which the debate produced, however, to both their projects; or such as derived importance from for there was no ground for the the situation or character of the maintenance of the Corn-law; and individual speakers. Mr. Villiers be had not heard of any writer on thus opened his case: He said that ethics who justified the modificafor four centuries the proprietors tion of wrong. Some, indeed, of the soil had been attempting to conscientiously held that a total legislate for the purpose of raising change of the law would be prethe value of their properties, and judicial to agriculture; but he the result of all their efforts had defied proof that the fear rested been to prejudice those properties, on any valid ground, and the and greatly to lower the owners in highest authorities were opposed the estimation of the country. The to it. Here Mr. Villiers quoted great majority of the people had Lord Grenville, the London Mere now made up their minds that the chants’ Petition of 1820, the Select