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Let these measures pass into a law. were superfluous, I can say with Mr. Suspend your indignation until Burke, under eimilar circumstances, then ; and then it will be perfectly under
every accident, in pain open to you to determine what and in sickness, in depression and measure you will adopt for the
pur distress, I shall call to mind this pose of terminating my political accusation and be comforted. I life. I shall still pursue steadily shall never regard the reproaches that course which my conscience that
may be heaped on me, if the tells me I should take, let
and events prove that these precautions those opposite pursue what course have been superfluous. Sir, the you think right. I only hope you month of July will have established will permit these measures to be the conviction that these measures passed into a law. I do assure you of precaution were not superfluous ; that I deplore the loss of your con and I am speaking now, not of the fidence, if I have unfortunately lost temporary, but of the permanent it : I deplore it more than I do the ones we have adopted. Sir, when loss of political power. The accu I do fall, I shall have the satisfacsations which you have preferred tion of reflecting that I shall not against me are on this account have fallen because I have shown harmless, that. I feel they are un subserviency to any party. I shall deserved. Every man has within not fall because I have preferred his own bosom and conscience the the interests of party to the general scales with which are determined interests of the community. I shall by their real weight whether his carry with me the satisfaction of acts are deservin of reproach or reflecting, that during the course of approbation ; and if I could feel, of my official career my object has if I could believe, that I had been been to mitigate monopoly, to inmoved by corrupt motives or un crease the demand for industry, to worthy impulses, one-tenth part of remove the restrictions upon comthe accusations you have levelled merce, to equalize the burden of against me must have been fatal to the taxes, and to ameliorate the my existence and my peace. You condition of those who
pay them.” may think I have taken too great precautions against Irish famine : The House divided as follows : you are mistaken.
Events will For the second reading 302 prove that these precautions are not Against
214 unnecessary. But even if it were not so, the motive was to rescue a
88 whole population from the calamity of possible famine and disease; On the 4th of May, on the moand I shall, under these circum- tion being made that the House stances, be easy under such an ac should go into Committee on the cusation. I am not saying whether Corn Bill, Lord George Bentinck this measure will do it or not ; I again attempted to interpose an am merely speaking of the motive. obstacle, by moving a postponeI am only observing upon the ment till that day six months. He weight such an accusation will repeated the assertion which he have even if the precaution is super- had made on former occasions, that fluous. With the information we the distress of Ireland had been have had, even if the precautions greatly exaggerated. He
answered at some length by Sir or for the manner in which he had Robert Peel, who was followed made it. He argued strongly in by Lord John Russell, Mr. G. favour of the measure. Bankes, and Mr. Disraeli, the two The Chancellor of the Exchelatter gentlemen speaking with quer rose to put Lord George much severity of the measure and Bentinck right upon an important the parties who had proposed it. point. He thought the noble lord After two divisions occasioned could hardly be aware of the effect by motions from the opponents of of leaving out the word “oats” the Bill, the order of the day was from the clause. The real effect carried, and on the next evening the of that motion would be, that after House went into Committee. Upon the 1st of February, 1849, oats, the clause applying to the reduc- instead of paying a ls. duty, as tion of the duty on oats, Lord proposed by the Bill, would be adGeorge Bentinck moved the omis- mitted without paying any duty at sion of the word "oats,” assigning all
. It was provided by the Bill, the peculiar circumstances of Ire- that after that date, the duties land as his reason. The annual should be ls. upon all wheat, importation of oats from Ireland barley, bear or bigg, oats, rye, had amounted in the last and for- peas, and beans, for every quarter. mer years to 2,500,0001. in value; In lieu, however, of that duty, the and, supposing that the free im- noble lord proposed nothing; thereportation of oats from abroad fore the effect of the motion would should but lower the price of oats be, that the duty on oats would be to the extent of 10 per cent, that lost altogether, and that oats would would affect Ireland in a very be admitted without paying any grievous degree, and the loss to duty. He felt it his duty to state the Irish producer, with respect to what would be the real effect of the the single article of oats, would alteration, if carried, in order that amount to 250,0001. a year. Lord the time of the House might not be George proceeded to comment on wasted in a fruitless discussion. some points in Sir Robert Peel's The Attorney-General having speech of the previous evening, confirmed Mr. Goulburn's construcand expressed himself with in- tion, the amendment, after some creased animosity on the position further discussion, was withdrawn, assumed by the Government. It and the other clauses were agreed was most humiliating in a great to without a division. statesman like Sir Robert Peel to On the bringing up of the Report come down and acknowledge that on the 8th of May, another discusthe whole course of his life had sion took place. Sir Charles Burbeen a series of errors. Lord rell again moved as an amendGeorge also reasserted his opinions ment, that the Report be brought about Irish distress, and the steps up on that day six months. He which Ministers ought to have repeated the assertion, that the taken to meet the partial evil distress of Ireland had been exwhich existed.
tremely exaggerated. This view Sir H. V. Barron said, that the was supported by Colonel Verner people of Ireland would not thank and Mr. George Bankes. The latLord George Bentinck, either for ter asserted that the fear of famine the proposition which he had made was already at an end, and he
called on Lord Lincoln (the Secre- contest with Mr. Hillyard, upon his tary for Ireland) to deny it if he accepting the office of Irish Secrecould.
tary. The debate, after this, asLord Lincoln admitted, that he sumed a personal character : it was responsible for all the state- eventually terminated by the Rements which had been made by port being agreed to without a Sir Robert Peel and Sir James division. Graham, on the subject of the The House arrived at the last scarcity in Ireland. He asserted stage of the Bill on the 11th of that they were in all respects cor- May, when Sir James Graham rect; and that the distress, so far moved, that it be read a third from being on the decline, had not time. yet reached its height. He ap The Marquis of Granby therepealed to Mr. Stafford O'Brien upon moved as an amendment, that himself, who had gone to Ireland it be read a third time on that day sceptical on the subject of the dis- six months. The amendment was tress, but who had not been a day seconded by Mr. Milnes Gaskell, upon his estate before he wrote a who had recently held the office of letter to him representing in the a Lord of the Treasury, but had strongest manner the existence of resigned it upon the change of
distress and destitution, ministerial policy. Mr. Sheridan, and stating that, unless aid were Mr. Cayley, Mr. Plumtre, Sir John promptly administered, it would be Walsh, Mr. Newdegate, Mr. Huddifficult to maintain the peace. The son, the Marquis of Worcester, pressure was not so great in some Mr. Disraeli, Lord George Benparts of the north of Ireland as tinck, and several other members, in the south-west, and generally supported the opposition with arguin the south portions of the island: ments similar to those before emthe reason of this, with respect to ployed; Sir James Graham, Mr. the north, was that the people in Sherman Crawford, Mr. Charles those parts of the country were not Wood, Mr. Villiers, Lord John so generally dependent on the Russell, and Sir Robert Peel, were potato for food as in other parts. the principal speakers on the other As showing the increasing demands side. At length, after three nights' made on the Government for aid, debate, the third reading was carhe quoted two letters, which he ried in a full House, at four had that morning received, one o'clock in the morning of the 16th from the island of Valentia, and May, by the following division :the other from the county of Cavan, representing that the supply For the third reading 327 of potatoes, both for consumption For the Marquis of Granby's and seed, was completely exhaust amendment
Mr. Stafford O'Brien testified to Majority for third reading 98 the existence of much distress in the counties of Limerick and Clare. The principal debate on the
Lord George Bentinck taunted Corn Bill, in the House of Lords, Lord Lincoln with the loss of his took place upon the question of the seat for Nottinghamshire, where second reading of the measure, on he had recently been defeated in a
the 25th of May.
The Earl of Ripon introduced to be so intimately connected with the motion. Having undertaken the commercial and agricultural into discharge this duty voluntarily, terests of the country, that it ought he should not apologize to their to be permanently maintained, the lordships for bringing forward a question was reduced to one of measure which he had always consi- time. After a detailed history of dered as by far the most important, the various measures restrictive of as regarded the social condition of the importation of foreign grain, the country, that had ever called showing that if the system of profor the attention of that House. tection was so essential to, and so The question, however, was interwoven with, all the interests difficult as it was important. His of the country, it had been a most lordship proceeded to state the unstable system, and that, meanmotives which had influenced him while, agricultural improvements on former occasions with reference had been going on, and were still to it—the principles upon which going on, he said it must, therehe had supported the Corn Law, fore, be admitted, that the repeal and what were not the principles of the Corn Law was a question of he had recognized. When he in- time; and, if so, the principle was troduced the Corn Bill of 1815, he gone. Then came the fact of the did it with reluctance, and he told rapid increase of the population, Lord Liverpool, who had desired which had a tendency to press him to introduce that measure, upon the limits of subsistence, if that he had a great objection on one augmented in a geometrical principle to any Corn Law what- and the other in only an arithmeever. He had never supported any tical ratio. Another question was, Corn Law, on the grounds assigned that of Ireland. Those who thought by many others, he did not ac that a temporary suspension of the knowledge that any ground for a Corn Law would have met that Corn Law was to be found in rents, evil gave up the important prinmortgages, and settlements ; nor ciple that the law contained a did he consider it part of a great power of self-adaptation to circumsystem of protection to national in- stances; and, if once suspended, dustry—a doctrine which the legis- such a law could not be reverted lature had never avowed, but, en to. A great objection urged the contrary, many of its acts were against a repeal of the Corn Law directly adverse to the proposition. was, that it would throw land out His lordship adduced, amongst of cultivation ; he had never been other examples, the case of wool, able to ascertain what was the on which no import duty had been land which would thereby relapse imposed till 1819, and then for the into waste ; he had found in his purpose of revenue. The only experience that no such apprehenground upon which he had re sion was entertained. In conclucognized the expediency of a Corn sion, his lordship declared he felt Law, was a sincere conviction that, no shame at being a party to this without such a law, this country measure, and at bringing it before would be, or might be, more de- the House. He knew it was inconpendent than it ought in prudence sistent with what he had formerly to be upon foreign countries. Un- done, and it might be with sentiments less a Corn Law was considered he had expressed ; but he was in
fluenced by no bad motives ; he to crush the aristocracy ; and, unacted under a solemn conviction, less their lordships maintained the founded upon deliberate reflection, good opinion of the middle classes that this measure was not calculated of the country-which they could to injure any of the interests of the not do if they abandoned their country, but would do good to former opinions--they would be them all.
powerless indeed. This measure The Duke of Richmond moved was only the first of a series of that the Bill be read a second attacks that would shake the time this day six months, feeling it foundation of the Throne, cripple to be a measure likely to inflict a the Church, endanger the institudeadly blow upon British agricul- tions of the country, and plunge a ture and the national greatness. happy and contented people into Lord Ripon had not told their misery, confusion, and an
anarchy. lordships what, in his opinion, Earl Fitzwilliam supported the would be the average price of corn Bill, and believed it would be if this measure should pass ; but passed by a great majority ; nesurely Ministers had not dared to vertheless, it was not a measure bring in such a measure without he should have proposed ; a great estimates. Lord Ripon had given revenue had been wasted by it, their lordships a history of the for which a substitute must be various measures regulating the found. He did not think that importation of corn, except that of the measure would be injurious to 1842, which was the measure they the landed interest, and therefore were about to repeal ; and of this they were not entitled to demand he had not said one syllable. The compensation ; but he had exnoble duke then amused their pected there would have been a lordships by reading extracts from diminution, if not a repeal, of the the speeches of Lord Ripon in malt tax, which was not only op1815 (when Mr. Robinson) and in pressive, but unequal. He ob1842, dwelling on the discrepancies jected to the retention of a rag of between them and the speech of protection for three years ; the the earlto-night. Lord Ripon landed interest desired to have a had admitted that improvements settlement of the question at once. . had been made in agriculture for Though he disapproved the Bill, years past, and the money ex he must vote for it, as he had no pended on land, upon the faith of alternative except that of rejecting an Act of Parliament, was now the measure for another year. In about to be confiscated. The noble propounding a measure of this duke then proceeded to show the magnitude, was it right or decent benefits which the labourers had for the Ministers to propose it in a derived from the system of pro manner which drove their Lordtection, as exhibited by the vast ships, as it were, into a corner ? accumulations in savings-banks. The least amendment of the Bill, The present measure was called for being a money Bill, would sacriby the cotton manufacturers, who fice it. Adopting all the Duke of looked to a permanent reduction Richmond's opinions upon the conin wages therefrom.
The object, duct of Ministers, he must still the avowed object, of the advocates oppose his amendment. of this measure out of doors was The Duke of Cleveland opposed