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Sir Robert Peel explains his great Scheme of proposed Measures for the
Relaxation of Duties on the 27th of January-His able and comprehensive Speech on that occasion - Reception of the Scheme, and comments of various Members upon it--Strong opposition is declared. by some of the usual Supporters of the Government-Further discussion is adjourned to the 9th of February—Mr. P. Miles moves an Amendment that the House go into Committee on that Day Six Months, which is seconded by Sir W. Heathcote-- The Debate is carried on by repeated Adjournments for Twelve Nights – Forty-eight Members speak in favour of Free Trade, and Fifty-five on the side of Protection –Speeches of Lord Sandon, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Inglis, Mr. Sidney Herbert, Mr. Stafford O'Brien, Mr. Sharman Crawford, the Marquis of Granby, Lord Worsley, Sir James Graham, Mr. Thomas Baring, Viscount Morpeth, Mr. M. Gaskell, Mr. Roebuck, Sir Houard Douglas, Mr. W. Miles, Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Manners, Mr. Bright, Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Cardwell, Mr. Thomas Duncombe, Sir Thomas Acland, Sir George Clerk, Mr. Beckett Denison, Mr. Villiers, Mr. Cobden, and Lord George Bentinck-On a Division the Motion of Sir Robert Peel is carried, the Amendment of Mr. P. Miles being rejected by 337 against 240.
Robert Peel, in accordance ties, abstractedly and in principle, with his notice, detailed in the House were open to objection-and that, of Commons his great scheme of though the policy of them might commercial and financial policy. in some cases be defended, it must He commenced his speech on this always be on some special ground occasion by observing, that in pur- of national interest, or of justice suance of the recommendation towards individuals. He was also of the Speech from the Throne, about to act on the assumption he was about to call upon the that, during the last three years, House to review the duties which there had been an increased proapplied to so many articles, the ductiveness in the revenue, notproduce and manufacture of other withstanding a large remission of countries. He would proceed on taxation ; that there had been an the assumption contained in Her increased demand for labour ; and Majesty's Speech, that the repeal that there had also been inof prohibitory and the relaxation creased competence, comfort, conof protective duties was in itself a tentment, and peace among the
population. In advising the con make the sacrifice, if it were one, tinued application of those prin- of their protection to the common ciples, which had produced such good. Of late years, the whole salutary results, and which had tariff had been submitted to the already been sanctioned by the review of the House. In 1842 he House, he was not inclined to had proposed, and in 1845 he had disregard the necessity of main- carried out, to a very large extent, taining public credit unimpaired ; a plan for remitting the duties on and he was therefore prepared to the raw materials constituting the act with forbearance, in order elements of manufacture. There that he might not prejudice in was, at this moment, scarcely a duty any respect the permanent inter on the raw material imported from ests of the country. It was pos- foreign countries which we had not sible that, owing to the numerous
abandoned. He had, therefore, a and various interests which his right to call on the manufacturer present proposition would affect to relinquish the protection of which an impression might arise that his he was now in possession. The scheme was a rash one, and ought only two articles of raw material to be discouraged. If such should now subject to duty were tallow be the opinion of the partisans of and timber. He intended to reprotection, nothing would be more duce the duty on tallow from 38.2d. easy for them than to meet him on to ls. 6d. a cwt., and to make a an early night with a resolution gradual reduction on timber till it that protection to domestic indus- reached a point at which it would try was in itself a good, and that emain fixed, and which he would the principle of it ought to be definitely describe on a future day. sanctioned by the House. It might, Having given the manufacturers on the other hand, be the conclu- free access to every raw material sion of the House--considering all of manufacture, he called upon the difficulties of this question, and such of them as were engaged in the nature of the contest which making up the three articles, wool, had long existed, and would long linen, and cotton, which formed continuo to exist, if there were not the clothing of the country, to give a satisfactory adjustment of it, a proof of the sincerity of their con that his proposition, extensive as it victions by relinquishing the prowas, ought to be accepted as tection which was now given to whole, though there might be ob- the articles of their manufacture. jections in detail to parts of it. If He made this call upon them the that should be the conclusion of more confidently, because it was the House, he should have confi- the manufacturing, and not the dence in his ultimate success ; but, agricultural interest, which first if not, the sooner its disapproba- called on the Government for protion was expressed, the better for tecting duties. He then stated all parties. The great principle of that he intended to relinquish all the relaxation of protective duties duties upon the importation of the he was not going to apply to any coarser articles of manufactures in one particular interest ; on the wool, linen, and cotton, and to recontrary, he asked all the interests duce the duties on-linen and woollen of the country-manufacturing, goods of a finer quality from 20 to commercial, and agricultural—to 10 per cent. At present there
was a duty on silk, which was from corn, he proposed an immecalled 30 per cent., but which was diate repeal of duty. Every kind often higher. He proposed to of vegetable and animal food would adopt a new principle in the levy be admitted at once free of duty. ing of that duty, which was now All animals from foreign countries an encouragement to the smuggler, would also be introduced on the and not to the British manufac same terms.
He then proceeded turer, and to impose a duty of 15 to describe the nature of his proper cent., instead of 30, for every posal with respect to the importa1001. value of silk. The right ho tion of foreign corn : he had alnourable Baronet then described at ready stated that he intended to great length the reduction of duties exempt some articles now included which he intended to make upon in the Corn Laws, as maize, from the importation of paper-hangings, duty altogether. It might, theremanufactured metals, dressed hides, fore, be as well for him to inform boots, shoes, hats, straw-plat, car the House at once, that though lie riages, candles, soap, brandy, ge did not intend to
the imneva, sugar, and various other mediate repeal of the Corn Laws, articles ; and then proceeded to yet, in the hope of making a final review the articles connected with adjustment of the question, and agriculture on which import du for the sake of giving time for adties were levied. He proposed justment to the agricultural into reduce the duty on all seeds terest, he did intend to propose to 58. per cwt. Indian corn that their continuance should only maize, which was of such im be temporary. The bill which he portance in the fattening of cattle, should, therefore, introduce on this he proposed in future to introduce subject would contain an enactduty free. In removing that duty ment that, after a certain date, grain he was not depriving agriculture of of all kinds should come in duty any protection, but absolutely con free. He proposed, however, that ferring a benefit upon it. He a considerable reduction should be also proposed that buckwheat, and made at once in the existing amount maize, and buckwheat flour, should of duty, and that the duty so rebe admitted duty free. If any duced should be limited in its congentleman would ascertain the price tinuance to three ycars. His bill which had been recently paid by would contain a provision that at farmers for linseed-cake and rape- that period, when the change would cake, they would agree with him be least felt-namely, on the 1st that the removal of the duty on of February, 1849-oats, barley, maize was not a disservice to the rye, and wheat, should be only agricultural interest. The right liable to that mere nominal duty honourable Baronet then described which he intended to apply to the reduction of duty which he in- maize, for the purpose of procuring tended to propose on the importa- statistical returns of the quantity tion of foreign butter, cheese, hops, imported. The main question, then, and cured fish, stating that in each for the House to consider was this case the duty would be reduced to ---what is to be the intermediate half its present amount. On all state of the law ? He proposed articles
of agricultural produce that there should be an enactment which constituted food as distinct for three years to this effect, that
till the 1st of February, 1849, the sent administered by 16,000 local following duties should be levied on authorities distributed throughout all wheat imported into this country the country. Nothing could be from foreign ports. Whenever the more defective than that a highway average price of wheat should be which united several distinct paunder 48s. a quarter in this coun- rishes should not be under the try, the duty should be 10s. a control of one board, but should be quarter ; that above 48s. and un under the control of every distinct der 49s., it should be 9s. a quarter; parish through which it ran. In that above 49s. and under 50s., it each parish there was a different should be 8s. a quarter; and so on surveyor of the high roads. The till the price reached 54s. a quarter, system led of necessity to a lax exwhen he intended to impose an penditure, and to very bad reparainvariable duty of 4s. a quarter. tion of the roads. He proposed to The enactments which he proposed compel parishes to unite themselves for all other descriptions of grain into districts for the repair of the would follow the scale of duties upon roads. Those districts would be wheat; but he referred the House for generally the same with the Poor the details of them to certain papers Law unions, and thus the high which he would have printed to lay roads would be under the control before them. There would, there. of 600 instead of 16,000 different fore, be levied on wheat at its pre- authorities. Another of the bursent price a duty of 48., instead of dens grievously, and he thought the present duty of 168. a quarter; justly complained of by the agriand every other grain taken out of cultural interest, arose out of the bond for consumption in the home law of settlement. Under that market would be liable to little law, during manufacturing promore than a nominal duty. Suchsperity, the rural population was was the arrangement for the ad- encouraged to migrate to the majustment of this great question nufacturing towns. The peasant which Her Majesty's Government thus migrating consumed the prime now offered to the House. He in- of his life, and gave all the adtended to accompany that arrange- vantage of his strength to the manument with other provisions, calcu- facturers. A revulsion took place lated, he would not say to give in trade, and manufactures ceased compensation to, but to advance the
to prosper. The individual was interest of that portion of the com then sent back to the rural district, munity.which would be called upon and was thus transferred to a new to relinquish protection, with which home, where he is unable to obhe was himself more particularly tain a livelihood, from being unconnected, and in the welfare of used to rural employments. For which the prosperity of England the purpose of not merely relieving was deeply involved. He then re the land from a burden, but of also viewed some of the burdens which protecting an indigent man from fell on the land, and which he injustice, Government intended to thought capable of alleviation by propose that the power of removauseful reforms, and not by trans- bility should be taken away in the ferring them to other parties. First case of every labouring man who among these burdens he placed the had had a five years' industrial rehighway rates. They were at pre- sidence in any manufacturing town.
He likewise proposed that the chil among the owners of entailed dren of any person, or the children estates, in raising the funds to of his wife, legitimate or illegiti- carry them into execution. GOmate, under sixteen, residing with vernment proposed that the credit the father or niother, and the wife of the State should be einployed of any person, should not be in enabling those improvements to removed where the removal of the be made. An advance of Experson himself was prohibited. chequer Bills should be made by Further, he proposed that no widow way of loan for the purpose of residing with her husband at the agricultural improvement, security time of his death should be re- being of course taken to protect movable for twelve months after the country against loss. The his death from the parish in which right hon. baronet, after describhe resided at the time; and, lastly, ing at some length the mode in that no order of removal should be which these advances were to be taken out on the ground of charge. made and repaid, concluded by bility shown to have been occa- stating that that was another plan sioned by accident or sickness, by which he hoped to enable the unless the removing magistrates agricultural interest to meet comshould be satisfied that the effects petition with the foreign grower. of the accident or sickness are such With respect to the local burdens as to be permanent and incurable. pressing on the agriculturist, he Here, again, by alteration of the must declare at once that he could law a great social advantage would not advise any alteration in the be obtained, and the agricultural mode of the assessment of the interest would be relieved from a poor-rates. It had been said that great burden. He then approached they were a charge upon the land, another matter, in which he pro- and that there should be an alterposed, without any loss to any other ation in the mode of the levy. In interest, a great advantage to the point of fact they were not a agricultural interest. There was charge upon the land. The oppoa natural dread in that interest of a sition was between real and pervery formidable competition on the sonal property. It was real processation of its present protection. perty upon which the poor-rate It was impossible to deny that was levied, as on mines, houses, agricultural science was yet in its lands and manufactories. If the infancy; and he, therefore, pro- poor-rates were a charge for geposed that the State should give neral objects, it would be just to facilities to the improvement of make personal property contribute; agricultural skill and industry. but they were a local charge, and The Duke of Richmond had colpersonal property could not be lected a mass of interesting evi- called on for contribution without dence to show the great capability establishing an inquisition into of improvement which was inhe- every man's affairs, which, for the rent to all kinds of land. Much minute objects of a poor-rate benefit might be effected by in- raised to relieve local distress, creased draining. Mr. Pusey had would not be tolerated. The rato prisposed several schemes for the on personal property had been improvement of land ; but great abandoned because it could not be difficulties occurred, especially levied ; and therefore he was not Vol. LXXXVIII.