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CHAPTER III.

The House of Commons goes into Committee on Sir Robert Peel's Reso

lutions on the 2nd of March-Mr. Villiers moves as an Amendment, That all Duties on Imported Corn should cease— Division of Parties on this PropositionSpeeches of Sir Robert Peel and Lord John RussellThe Amendment is lost by a Majority of 187Debate on the Second Pieading of the Corn Bill continued by adjournment for four nights - Mr. E. Yorke, seconded by Sir John Yarde Buller, mores an Amendment for the rejection of the BillSpeech of Sir Robert Peel in answer to the Attacks made upon himThe Amendment is lost, and the Second Reading is carried by a Majority of 88 -Further Debates on the Corn Bill in the House of Commons- The Third Reading is moved on the 11th of May, by Sir James Graham, and is carried by 327 to after an animated Debate - The Corn Bill is discussed in the House of Lords, on the Motion for a Second Pieading, on the 25th of May-Speeches of the Earl of Ripon, the Duke of Richmond, Earl Fitzwilliam, the Duke of Cleveland, the Marquis of Londonderry, Lord Stanley, Lord Brougham, the Earl of Wilton, the Duke of Cambridge, the Marquis of Normanby, Earl Grey, Marquis of Lansdowne, the Earls of Dalhousie, Clarendon, Carnarron, Haddington, Hardwicke, and the Duke of WellingtonOn a Division there appear for the Second Reading (including Proxies) 211; against it, 164 ; Majority, 47Various Amendments are moved in Committee, by the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Wicklow, and Lord Ashburton, which, after much discussion, are rejected by considerable MajoritiesThe Duke of Richmond opposes the Third Reading by an Amendment, which is subsequently withdrawn, and the Bill is passed.

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NE large space occupied, in stages, until they became law.

the preceding chapter, by the Night after night, these discuspreliminary discussions on Sir Ro. sions continued for several weeks bert Peel's commercial policy ren with little interruption, every inch ders it impossible, and at the same of ground being pertinaciously contime unnecessary, to pursue with tested by the opponents, and all the same detail the numerous de- the resistance being made to the bates which succeeded during the Ministerial scheme which the forms progress of the Corn and Customs and usages of Parliament allow. Acts, through their successive It is needless to say that debates

course.

so continued soon ceased to possess mond, on the ground of his exthe attraction of novelty ; the sub- pressed preference. The probabiject, extensive as it is, became lity of a deficient harvest next year fairly exhausted by the industry was urged. and ingenuity with which every ar Considerable difference of opigument bearing upon it was en nion was expressed by members faforced and reiterated by successive vourable to free trade as to the speakers. It is conceived that the policy of supporting the amendspeeches of which a summary has ment or the original resolution. been given in the last chapter will Mr. Ward and Mr. Cobden deindicate sufficiently the main posi- clared themselves in favour of the tions taken up by the supporters amendment, but Mr. Hume, Mr. and opponents in these debates, T. Duncombe, and Mr. Wakley, and that it will be sufficient, in avowed their intention of supporttracing the further progress of the ing the Government, whose meameasures through the House of sure had gone as far or farther Commons, to limit our notice to a than they had anticipated. brief statement of results.

Sir Robert Peel said : If the On the 2nd of March, on the case of Ireland were the sole

ques. House going into Committee, the tion to be considered, he thought first resolution being moved, Mr. the immediate suspension of all Villiers proposed, as

an amend

duties would be the preferable ment, “ That all duties on im.

But there were other conported corn do now cease." He siderations ; and the Government explained, that this amendment did had considered that the whole quesnot arise from any desire to impede tion could be better dealt with in the Ministerial measure, but from the way they had proposed, than a conscientious belief that the full by the course prescribed by the advantage of the measure might amendment. Sir Robert proceeded be extended at once, without danger to show that, by the adoption of his or inconvenience. The opinions of measure, certain descriptions of corn leading agriculturists, farmers as and other food would be admitted well as landlords, showed that they duty-free, and all other kinds at had no apprehension of injury from a greatly reduced rate. immediate abolition, but that, on spect to the amenement, he saidthe contrary, they preferred it. Still, if the measure be carried Protectionist members in the House - that is, immediate instead of de-Lord Worsley, Mr. William Miles, ferred repeal—I shall accept the and others—had asserted, that im amendment (though my conviction mediate abolition would be better of the policy of my measure rethan a postponement for three mains unchanged), and yield to years. Lord John Russell was of the opinion of the majority of this the same opinion. Mr. Villiers House: but it is totally impossible thought that Sir Robert Peel him- I can answer for the effect of such self must prefer immediate aboli a change in the passing of the meation, as he had proposed what was sure. I prefer the deferred to immetantamount to it, the opening of the diate repeal, on this, among other ports in November. He also claimed grounds, that the Government inthe support of the Duke of Ricb tend to accompany it by other

With re

measures. I cannot help thinking, most important statement, to the if we had come forward in the first effect that, in his opinion, if he instance with a proposal for the to- had brought forward a project of tal repeal, the measure would have immediate repeal he would have encountered such a degree of op- failed in his endeavour to settle position, that we must have aban- the question. “Looking,” contidoned all hope of success.

nued Lord John, “ at the comSir Robert was of opinion, that parative advantages of the two if the question were settled, wheat courses, I, for my own part, say, in the home market would instantly that I will not incur the responsirise in price ; and he did not think bility of assenting to the motion of that the slightest apprehension the honourable member for Wolverneed exist of this country being in- hampton. It is far better, in my undated, under any circumstances, opinion, to promote the measure of with foreign corn.

the First Minister of the Crown ; Mr. Bright had threatened the and I believe, if the House carry it House with continued agitation if by as great a majority as voted for the repeal were not immediate: Sir the Committee, that the Upper Robert Peel was sorry to hear it. House will accept it more readily He thought, however, that such an as a measure of that Minister.” agitation was unreasonable ; he did Sir Robert Peel had expressed not think the agricultural party his regret, the other night, that Lord would make an attempt to disturb John Russell had not undertaken a a settlement when once made. Ministry founded on the immediate [This statement of opinion was abolition of the Corn Laws. "I received in silence. But not was surprised to hear that stateonly did he think the threatened ment,” said Lord John, for, agitation unreasonable, he thought, though I believe the right honouralso, it would not be successful. able gentleman would have given “ I think a great number of per me every support to any measure I sons would withdraw from the ranks might bring forward which he conof the Anti-Corn-Law League ; ceived to be for the public good, that a great number of yet I think he must have heard, would say that our proposal was since that time, objections and not an unfair one, considering the statements strong enough, and nudifferences of opinion which exist, merous enough, to have convinced considering the prospect there is of him that those who would have the duty expiring in three years, followed bim and supported me in and that every day we are ad- office, on such a proposition, would vancing towards a total repeal of have been a very small number inthe duty, which, after the proposed deed, as compared with the hundred reduction, would be much lower and twelve members who have now than at present.”

voted with the right honourable genLord John Russell said he would tleman. I must fairly say, that I have voted for the amendment were do not believe there would have he not apprehensive that the suc been more than forty, or perhaps cess of the measure would be endan- fifty, members to have voted with gered if the amendment were carried. Sir Robert Peel had made a After other speeches, Mr. Villiers

men

me.

78

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replied, and the House divided, be difficult to render it a palatable when there appeared

substitute, especially with a small

admixture of wheat. It would thus For the Amendment

come into competition chiefly as Against it.

265 human food, and, to a certain

extent, would doubtless supersede Majority 187

even wheat.

Mr. Miles added, that

it was not his intention to divide Upon the bringing up of the the House ; and he hoped the Report, a few nights afterwards, friends with whom he acted would some further discussion arose. Upon adopt the same course ; thus disthe resolution which referred to playing as great an anxiety as maize, rice, and buck-wheat, Mr. those on the free-trade benches to Miles made some observations. He afford relief to the Irish people. had expected that Sir Robert A desultory discussion ensued, in Peel, to make it more palatable, which the members on the side of would have introduced into the protection generally expressed conresolution a few words limiting currence with the views of Mr. the free importation of Indian corn, Miles. Some of the Irish membuck-wheat, and rice, to three bers declared their anticipation of months. No absolute necessity for permanent benefit to Ireland from the change had been shown ; but, the substitution of a more subhad the abolition of duties been stantial and nutritious food for pomerely temporary, the Protection- tatoes. ists would have shown, by the rea The Corn Bill, founded upon the diness of their assent, that they resolutions just referred to, stood had no wish to prevent the intro- for a Second Reading on the 20th duction of food for the Irish people. of March. The debate was Should the Bill, however, pass, the tinued by adjournment for four abolition would be permanent, and nights. Mr. E. Yorke began, by he hoped the agriculturists would moving as an amendment, That well consider what they were about. the Bill be read a second time on Maize, in point of nutriment, came that day six months. He said, next to wheat, and a bushel of it if gentlemen around him felt as he was equal to a bushel and three- did, they would not be deterred fourths of barley, or to three bushels from using every form that the of oats. No doubt, therefore, it House allowed, and adopting every would be used largely where barley rule that the usages of Parliament and oats were now consumed; and suggested, to defeat the measure. he was informed that maize could He spoke of the Ministerial scheme be introduced into the port of Liver as a breach of faith, calculated to pool at only 20s. a quarter, duty diminish the value of property, and included. England could not com reduce the profits of farmers and pete with America in the produc- the wages of labourers. With the tion of this article, the climate view of showing the feeling which

too cold. No doubt could exist existed among the agricultural lathat its introduction, duty-free, bourers, he mentioned that he had would displace, to a great extent, received a communication from a barley and oats ; for it would not poor but intelligent man, who said

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that in the neighbourhood from He refuted the more imwhich he wrote, there was “not a portant objections to the ministerial village in which the people were measure. He showed the necesnot ready to assert, by brute force sity of adopting means to improve if necessary, their right to taste of the physical condition of the poputhe fruits of their own labour ;" lation : the first step ought to be and he added, that “every village that which the Government had in the vicinity was ripe for outrage taken. Looking at the measure as at the first reduction of wages. a whole, he was convinced that it

Sir John Yarde Buller seconded would not be injurious to the agrithe amendment, which was sup- cultural interest, and that it would ported by Sir R. H. Inglis, Lord be conducive to the interest of the Pollington, the Earl of March, community generally. He noticed Mr. Shaw, Mr. Finch, Lord Ren- the taunts of his dependence on dlesham, Lord George Bentinck, opposition support. and other members. On the other An honourable gentleman asks side, speeches were delivered by me how long do I calculate upon Mr. Fox Maule, Sir John Hanmer, their support? I will be perfectly Lord Ebrington, Mr. F. Baring, frank and explicit on this, as on Mr. Goulburn, Mr. C. Buller, Sir every other subject. I have no James Graham, and Lord Palmer- right to place any confidence in the ston. Sir Robert Peel, at the con support of honourable gentlemen clusion of the debate, entered into opposite-I have none whatever. a vindication of his own conduct I feel and acknowledge every proand measures from the attacks per obligation to them as a public which had been made upon them man, for the support which they by some of the preceding speakers, have given to this measure, and for remarking that, had he occupied studiously avoiding every thing calthe position of a private member culated to create embarrassment to of the House, he would have al- its progress ; but then our differlowed the accusations to pass un ences remain the same. I have noticed. He entered into a defence no right to claim their support, of his proceedings, bringing to or their protection ; nor shall I recollection most of the facts seek it, by departing in the slightalready known in connection with est degree from that course which the ministerial explanations. He my public duty may urge me to adverted to what he said on Mr. adopt. If this measure pass, our Villiers 's motion of 1845, and com temporary connection is at an end ;, mented on at the time, to show and I have not the slightest right that he had then arrived at the to expect support or forbearance conviction, that the Corn Laws from them. Still less have I, after could not be defended on the old the declarations that have been grounds : in consequence of this made, a right to expect forbearspeech, the Protection Society ance or support from this side of passed resolutions expressive of the House. distrust in the Government. He He concluded his speech in replied to a charge made by Mr. these words : Bankes, of having acted an uncon “I am not surprised to hear stitutional part in venturing to honourable members predict to me advise Her Majesty as to a succes that my tenure of power is short.

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