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the Bill, which he characterized as great experiment; but he had unprecedented for its boldness and such confidence in the ability of dangerous in its character, alto- the present Ministers, displayed in gether departing from that course their domestic and foreign policy, of policy under which this country that he could not desert them had attained a power and renown upon a question which, after all, superior to any other country in was more a question of rent-roll the world ; and the great evil at- and of profit than of any high tending it was, that if it failed, principle of political economy. He however ruinous its consequences, thought that their Lordships should it would be impossible to retrace try an experiment proposed by our steps. The concessions which Ministers who had raised this accompanied the measure were of country to the very highest pina trivial character, and still left it nacle of prosperity. one of the most unjust and oppres
Lord Stanley began by expresssive ever imposed upon a loyal ing great distrust in his own people. The measure of 1842 was powers, but he felt a conviction of believed by all to be final, and the the truth of the cause he suparguments now urged against it by ported, when entering upon the the Minister were precisely the defence of a system of law which same as those which had been em- had been designated by Earl Fitzployed by Mr. Villiers and Mr. William an absurd system, and Cobden in 1842. It was the duty which had been vigorously assailed of the Government to have assem- by those who had hitherto ably bled their friends and consulted and strenuously defended it, and them before this measure was de- to whom it owed its very existence. termined on, instead of betraying Upon the question of authority, he them as they had done. The per- appealed from the authority of the sons who would be most injured living to that of the dead ; from by this measure were the small statesmen of the present day to landholders, or country gentlemen, Lord Chatham, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. the yeomanry (the pride and orna Huskisson ; to Lord Liverpool, ment of England), and the tenant- Mr. Canning, and Lord Grey. farmers ; whilst thousands of agri- The Earl of Ripon had denied cultural labourers would lose their that the Legislature had recogemployment, if land were, as he nized the principle of protecting believed it would be by this mea- native industry as reason for sure, thrown out of cultivation. regulating the importation of corn, The noble Duke, like the Duke of whereas such a principle had been Richmond, considered that this adopted so early as the reign of measure was a prelude to further Edward IV., and it had contiinnovations, and that the next nued to be the rule of our legisobject of attack would be the Irish lation up to the present time, that Church.
it was expedient to secure the inThe Marquis of Londonderry dependence of this country upon supported the measure. He said foreign nations for corn, and to that the farmers in the north of give encouragement and protecEngland did not participate in the tion to the cultivation of its own apprehensions entertained by the soil. This had not only been our noble Dukes. He felt it was a own policy, but at the very mo
ment when we were venturing upon
a total abolition he considered unthe bold experiment of leaving the justifiable in itself ; but he was supply of this nation's food to left alone. The noble lord then chance every other country in entered into details respecting the the world of any eminence main course he had taken in these transtained a protection to its agricul actions, and then into statistical ture. He did justice to the mo details applicable to the policy and tives of those who had brought effects of the existing Corn Law, forward this measure, and Sir Ro and particularly to the operation of bert Peel in particular could not the sliding-scale in checking the fail to have foreseen the disloca tendency of a rise in the price of tion and disruption of ties, the corn, and in preventing the flucshock to public confidence, and the tuation of prices.
This was a distrust which it would occasion on complete answer to those who said the part of constituencies in public that fuctuation of prices was the men and in Parliament. But the peculiar vice of the sliding-scale ; right hon. Baronet had mistaken whereas never had prices fluctuated the emergency and the position in so much as during the free trade which he was placed ; he had con in corn, when we were most defounded the brawling torrent of pendent on a foreign supply. In agitation with the deep, still cur- the prices of articles not subject to rent of public opinion. Ministers any sliding-scale, in which there had been asked in another place, a free trade-potatoes and what they expected would be the cotton, for example—the fluctuaresult of this measure, and they tions were enormous. frankly said they did not know. sent Corn Law had kept us inThis measure, therefore, was in dependent of foreign nations, and troduced without a knowledge of maintained a steadiness in prices ; what its effects would be. The and would any man contend that grounds assigned for the measure these advantages had been purwere, the famine in Ireland and chased by a sacrifice of any inthe success of the tariff ; but these terest ? So far from it, our reasons were mutually at variance. exports had increased, our shipIf this Bill relieved the famine in ping had increased, the value Ireland, it could only be by bring- of land had augmented ; why, ing down the price of corn to the then, was this hazardous experimeans of the starving population ment to be made ? of Ireland. Their Lordships must of manufacturing prosperity was distinguish between famine and not without its danger; it should great local scarcity. He spoke of not be checked, but it ought to be famine in Ireland as a vision, a base carefully watched ; the power of less vision ; he spoke in different production was always overtaking terms of the amount of destitution that of absorption, and if manuand distress through the partial factures were pampered to an unfailure of the potato crop.
When wholesome increase, when the the subject came before the Cabi- bubble burst the ruin would be net, of which he was a member, extensive. But it was not clear he yielded his own opinion, and that the repeal of the Corn Law consented to a suspension, and a would increase manufactures. If suspension only, of the Corn Law;
an argument was drawn from the
effects of the tariff upon other the relief of Ireland was a proarticles, the price of corn would position perfectly absurd. The rise with the repeal of the duty, noble lord then laboured to show for that of wool had risen. He, the injurious effects of the measure however, contended that the price upon the Colonies. Destroy the of corn would fall greatly ; that principle of protection, and he told we should have an inundation of them that they would destroy the foreign corn at 40s. a quarter, whole basis on which our colonial making that about the price of system rested. If our Colonies corn in the British market. The were taught commercial indepenlarge profits of the foreign corn dence, they might learn political grower on the importation of the independence. With regard to article into England would furnish Canada, we were going to break him with a capital which he would our promises to her ; and more, apply to the raising of more corn. we were about to destroy the comAnd how were the manufacturers munication by the St. Lawrence, to be benefited by this measure ? and to make New York the chanOnly by the reduction of wages. nel of our communication with The price of labour must fall Upper Canada, whilst the United with the price of corn. If the la- States saw our suicidal policy and bourer's wages were to be reduced, were taking advantage of it. In they ought to have the balance of conclusion, his lordship made a advantages fairly put before them. powerful appeal to those noble The noble lord" then showed the lords who went with him in his fallacy of the notion, that Russia, argument, and disapproved of and Prussia, and the United States were alarmed at this measure, and would not take our manufactures yet, for various reasons, were prebecause we did not take their corn, pared to vote for it, against a blind and that our exports to these coun deference to the authority of the tries would increase after the Bill other House, which, according to passed. But admitting that there its recorded votes, had repeatedly would be a great increase in the negatived this measure.
Such a exports of our manufactures, diffi- sudden conversion diminished conculties might arise, and war inter- fidence in the last vote. He warnvene ; and when foreign markets ed them, likewise, against being were closed against us, and we had deterred by the fear of being susdestroyed our home markets, then pected of unworthy motives of would be the period of bitter suf- self-interest. It was for their fering to all, and especially to our lordships to check hasty and illartizans. And upon whom would considered legislation, and to prothe loss fall ? Not merely on the tect the people against the treachlandlords but on the tenant-farmers, ery of those whom they had chosen who must suspend improvements, to represent their opinions. discharge labourers, and reduce Lord Brougham began by comwages according to the cold and plaining of the disadvantage under selfish maxims of the free-traders. which he laboured in addressing But if this system could be carried their lordships after a speech of so into effect in England, could it much power and eloquence at so even be tried in Ireland ? And late an hour. Lord Stanley had to say that this measure was for denied the alleged famine in IreVOL. LXXXVIII.
land, and he (Lord Brougham) ters of wheat were sent hither-a doubted any general famine in great part from the ports of France Ireland, but that a great scarcity itself. The argument drawn by existed there could be no doubt. Lord Stanley, from the existence Ile might maintain that there was of protective laws in other counno reason for introducing the mea tries, was neutralized by his adsure this year, and yet support the
mission that the moment a presmeasure on its merits. The noble sure came the law was suspended and learned lord then showed the in all those countries. The noble inconsistency of Lord Stanley's and learned lord then discussed opposition to this Bill with his the other arguments of Lord Stanadvocacy of the Canada Corn Bill. ley, to which he replied in some With respect to the effect of this detail, and prognosticated that if Bill on prices, the question was we set other nations the example too difficult to answer : it depended of a liberal tariff, they would folupon a great variety of considera- low it, and the benefit would be tions. The apprehensions of large mutual. The noble and learned tracts of foreign land being brought lord concluded by disclaiming all suddenly into cultivation was ut- community of feeling with those who terly groundless. Where was the assailed the landed interest, upon capital ? where were the labourers? which, as well as upon Sir R .Peel, The operation of increasing the he pronounced a high eulogium. growth of corn in such a country The Earl of Wilton expressed as the Ukraine must be gradual his intention of voting against the and slow. He did not argue that Bill, though his vote would be there would be no diminution of given with pain and regret at price in consequence of this Bill, but finding bimself opposed for the he thought the diminution would first, and he hoped for the last be small. He could, from inquiry, time, to the Duke of Wellington. undertake to say that the tenant The Duke of Cambridge deemed farmers were not apprehensive of it due to his own character to this measure. He had met with state the course which he intended many instances of farms let at an to pursue on this most important increased rent none in which question. He had been a memfarms had been refused or let at a ber of the House of Peers for fortyreduced rent. He expected that five years, and he had made it an the agriculturists would benefit invariable rule never to vote in from this measure to an extent opposition to the Government, but, far beyond the slight loss by a if he could not vote with the Godiminution in price. Lord Stanley vernment, not to vote at all. It had maintained that this country was painful to him not to be able should not be dependent upon to vote with them upon this quesforeign nations for the food of the tion, but his own character was at people, and contended that a war stake. Having a high opinion of would exclude us. But Napoleon's Sir R. Peel, he had attended the almost universal power could not late debate in the House of Comseal up the ports of the continent mons, in hopes that he should be against the exportation of grain convinced by him ; but the reasons to this country, for in one year, he gave had worked no conviction (1810), a million and a half quar- in his mind. He was no politician;
he wished to act honestly and have such a country as this, with fairly towards the country. He so many conflicting interests, deregretted that this question should pendent to any extent for food have been brought forward at all, upon her nations, when it could less for the question itself than for grow corn enough for its own conwhat might be the consequences sumption. As to this question of it. Feeling as he did, he could being settled out of doors, it had not support her Majesty's Govern- been settled in 1842, and
upon the ment upon this occasion.
faith of its being so settled capital The Marquis of Normanby be- had been invested in improvements lieved that the effects of the of land, and that capital would by measure, whether for good or for this Bill be diverted to other counevil, had been much overrated. tries and employed in the cultiva. He thought, however, that the tion of their soil. He implored balance was in favour of the good, their lordships to vote without any and that it would tend to relieve consideration of private feeling or the distress of the labouring classes. private interest, but only from a He condemned the Government for sense of public duty. not taking earlier measures to ame The Earl of Clarendon rejoiced liorate their condition. He reflected at the introduction of this measure, with much severity on the incon- and at the justice of the arguments sistency of Sir Robert Peel's con- by which it had been defended duct, and on the sacrifice of public during the long and wearisome character, which he considered to ordeal which it had passed through have been made by the introduction in the other House. He did not of these measures by the party now consider this a party measure : the in office.
question was merely one of time, The Earl of Cardigan declared of facts, and of experience. During his inability to support, upon this the last thirty years the opinions occasion, a Government which of almost every one had changed seemed to have no fixed and de- upon the subject of the Corn Law. terminate opinions.
Would the Protectionists say that The Earl of Winchilsea deli- their opinions were the same? vered a keen philippic against the When they took upon themselves Government for their change of the responsibility of the Governopinion upon this question, which ment, as they expected to do, were he declared was not now whether they prepared, at all hazards, to protection to agriculture should maintain the existing law? The be retained, but whether the Go- noble Earl vindicated the course vernment of this great country, pursued by Sir Robert Peel, who supported by those who had base- had acted upon a higher ground ly betrayed their constituencies, than that of party, and although should be allowed to act so de some had pretended to have been grading a part as to give a pre- taken by surprise, he had, during mium to one of the most revolu- the last four years, spoken lantionary factions that had ever guage that was, or ought to have existed. There was no greater been, perfectly intelligible. With friend to cheap bread than he was; regard to the plea now urged in fabut it must be cheap bread of your of the Corn Law, that native inhome growth, for he would not dustry must be protected, native in