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dustry did not want any protection, had been obstructed was fast and there was no instance where crumbling away, and those prinprotection had been withdrawn ciples were beginning to be recogfrom
any article in which either nised which placed upon a solid producers or consumers had suf foundation the continuance of the fered injury. In the present case, inestimable blessing of peace. He the agricultural labourers could not urged their lordships to pass a suffer ; their condition could not measure that would remove a conbe worse than it now was. To the stant and fertile source of discongood and practical tenant-farmer tent, and benefit all classes, foundcompetition would prove only a ed as it was upon a great and healthy stimulus. But suppose comprehensive view of the varying 100,000 human beings in this circumstances and complicated incountry were cursed with an abun- terests of this great country. dant supply of food, what then? The Earl of Carnarvon opposed There must be a reduction of rents the Bill, insisting on the absence till some
were found of of any necessity for the repeal of meeting foreign competition ; so the existing law, and disputing the that this question was a landlords' doctrine of Lord Clarendon that question, and nothing else. But, British industry needed no proin his opinion, the apprehensions tection in its competition with that entertained from this measure were of foreign nations. He contended hypothetical and groundless. The that the wages of the agricultural farmers thought so too; for im- labourer would be forced down by provements had not stopped ; farms this measure to the very lowest were not thrown up, but were level, and that the poor farmertaken at higher rents, and land the occupier with little capitalstill fetched a good price. The would be ruined. The noble earl noble Earl then pointed out the then went over the grounds so fallacies of many of the notions of often traversed,—the treatment of the Protectionists, and the error, the Protectionist party by the as well as the vices, of a system Government; the incongruity of now repudiated by all the great the arguments of the Premier with statesmen of this country. As to those he had once so pertinaciously meeting hostile tariffs by hostile maintained ; the tendency of the tariffs, his conviction was that all proposed measure to derange prices, future negotiation for commercial to inundate the country with fotreaties must fail, because they reign corn in cheap years, and to would be always defeated by the make it dependent in deficient mutual jealousies of the parties. seasons upon unfriendly nations. The only safe course was for each His lordship wound up his speech country to pursue that policy which by a
by a pointed animadversion upon was suited to its own interests, the conduct of the Ministers, and without regarding what was done the change of opinions in the other by other nations. The noble lord House. The public connected chashowed that in spite of hostile racter with consistency, and the tariffs our commerce had increased conduct of the Government had even with countries the most hos- given a severe blow to the public tile to our manufactures. The morals of this country. If ever system by which human intercourse there was a Government pledged
to the principle of protection, it liament, had he presented himself was that of the Duke of Welling with more unfeigned reluctance or ton ; and when it discovered its greater pain, not from any doubt mistake it should not have taken or hesitation as to the conduct he advantage of its own wrong, but had pursued or was pursuing, but should have appealed to the con from finding himself opposed to stituency. With the view of pro- those with whom for many years curing such an appeal he voted it had been his pride to act. He against this Bill. If the country agreed with the Earl of Carnarvon should feel that the cry for justice that, as a general principle, puband a dispassionate consideration lic character was connected with was not heard in this House, and consistency of conduct ; but, upon that patriotism was swallowed up questions involving no religious in party attachment, he should or moral principle, he was not agree with the gentlemen of the ashamed to avow a change of League that the House had lost opinion. But he had never given its purpose of public utility. vent in Parliament to any opinion
The Earl of Malmesbury also that the agriculture of this country opposed the Bill, which he said, depended upon protection ; he had if passed, would be passed either thought that the landed interest because their lordships placed un- would not have been injured if the bounded confidence in the Ministers Corn Law had been done away of the Crown, or because it was sin- with, but for the panic which cerely and loudly demanded by the would have attended the change. people. The noble earl asserted The noble earl then explained the the injurious effects of the reduc course he had recently pursued tion of duty upon foreign barilla when this subject was broached in the kelp trade of the Hebrides, in the Cabinet, and the circumand denied that the present protec- stances under which this measure tion to native products operated as had been adopted by the Governa burden. He put it to the right ment; and then applied himself to reverend prelates, who were the answer some of the arguments of guardians of the temporal goods of Lord Stanley, whose speech, elothe Church, and whose interests quent as it was, glowed with Conwere different upon this question servatism. Although he believed from those of their parochial clergy that the principle of free trade was —some of whom had fixed incomes growing in favour with the country, that the clergy would be paid yet he did not think the Governnot according to the old but to the ment should have assumed the new and reduced prices of grain. responsibility of appealing to the The verdict of the people had been country.
ile declined entering passed upon this measure at the into the details of the measure, election of 1841, and their rejec- which had been most ably done tion of the candidates, who had by Lord Clarendon, who had dealt recently appealed to their suffrages more generously with the Goin its favour, had confirmed that vernment than Lord Normanby. verdict.
The Bill would, in his opinion, The Earl of Haddington ac
more steady prices than knowledged that never, either in the present law, and the apprethis or the other House of Par- hensions respecting an exorbitant
foreign supply at one time, and were said to be jealous of their a parsimonious one at another, rents, and they were very properly were at variance with past experi- so, for a great political economist
After passing lightly over had said that the consequence of a the other topics which arose out reduction of rents one-fourth would of the question, the noble earl be disastrous to all the productive declared he should witness with classes of the kingdom. The noble great alarm the throwing out of lord concluded by urging upon their this Bill, because he was persuaded lordships that it was their imperathat a new Parliament would bring tive duty, from a regard to the an overwhelniing majority in fa- poorer classes of this country as vour of free trade, and their lord- well as to their own honour, to ships would lose the opportunity let this great question go to the of a graceful concession to public people of England. feeling.
Earl Grey addressed the House The Earl of Hardwicke ad- in support of the measure in a long dressed the House against the and able speech. After paying a Bill. He considered the party high compliment to Lord Stanley's with whom he acted were pro- speech, he observed that the real tecting the poor against the aim of all Corn Laws was to secure overbearing influence of the ma what was called a remunerating nufacturers ; and he quoted an price for corn--in other words, American newspaper to show that to raise the price of food to the the principle of protection was people by artificially restricting considered in that country as the supply. Such being, as he essentially democratical, and its conceived, the real object, it was abolition would inflict injury upon incumbent on the opponents of this the lower classes. The noble earl Bill to prove that that object was pointed out how much, under a a good and desirable one. This, protective system, the country however, the noble lords on the had prospered in agriculture, other side had evaded to do. commerce, shipping, and revenue, The principal argument which they which, notwithstanding a reduc- had put forward was that of the tion of taxation, had kept pace danger of being dependent upon with the national expenditure, foreign nations for subsistence. whilst the people had had cheaper This theory had been satisfactorily bread than they would have had disposed of by Lord Brougham, under free trade. In replying to who had shown that, during the the speech of Lord Brougham, his height of our struggle with France, lordship charged that noble and Napoleon was unable to exclude learned lord with having advocated the corn of the Continent from our the sliding-scale, to which he de- ports. Lord Brougham had also clared last night he had always shown that the existing Corn Laws been opposed, and referred to a could not be considered as laying speech he had made, in 1827, on the consumer a tax of less than in favour of the scale, which, 10,000,000 a year, which was douowing to the enormous number of ble the amount of the Income Tax speeches he had made during his and double the Malt Tax. This life, he had very excusably for tax was one not for the benefit gotten. They (the Protectionists) of the State, but for the benefit
the imaginary benefit--of a class. no country would derive so much Lord Grey proceeded to show from advantage from the change as the instances of the years 1833, Ireland. Lord Stanley had de1834, 1835, as contrasted with picted the injurious effects which 1839, 1840, 1841, that in the would arise to the Colonies from former period, when wheat was free trade; but, so far from agreelow in price, trade prospered, ing with that opinion, he (Lord wages were high, and the con Grey) believed that it would prove dition of the working classes was the surest method of binding our favourable; while in the latter Colonies to us. The colonial
poperiod, concurrently with high licy, which he deemed the wisest, prices, trade declined, wages sunk, was that of maintaining the mutual and numbers of the working po- dependence of the Colonies and pulation were out of employ. A the mother country. It was comnoble lord had referred to Poland mercial jealousy which had lost us as affording an example of cheap our settlements in North America. corn with low wages.
But in Against Lord Stanley's predictions Poland wages were kept down of ruin to the interests of Canada, by misgovernment, by restrictions he cited the report of a debate in on industry, and by a system of the Canadian House of Assembly, qualified slavery. In his (Lord where the language of the princiGrey's) view Corn Laws inflicted pal speakers was in favour of free a double disadvantage on the la- trade, and where they had carried bourer ; while they enhanced the the repeal of the before-existing price of food, they depressed the duty on American corn by a marate of wages. If this supposition jority of 45 to 27. After stating were true, no consideration ought his reasons for believing that a to restrain them as a Christian fixed duty, although he had deemed Legislature from sweeping away it a desirable measure in 1842, these restrictions. He referred to would now be impracticable, Earl the rise which had taken place in Grey adverted to the Anti-Cornrent, and to the spirit with which Law League, the existence of improvements were prosecuted, as which he fully admitted to be a a proof that the agriculturists as a great evil, at the same time disclass entertained no real fears on claiming the intention of throwing the subject. He instanced also the any blame upon the leaders of that cases of wool, of live stock, of flax body, especially upon Mr. Cobden, and rape-seed, the reduction of on whose conduct and mode of duties on which had called forth carrying on his opposition to the so much alarm, to show the fu- Corn Laws he pronounced a high tility of similar apprehensions as eulogium. His great objection to regarded corn. He expected that the Bill was that it retained “ the under the proposed Bill the price rag of protection ” for a term of of wheat would be lower, but not years, which might occasion the greatly lower than the average continuance of the League, whose of the last dozen years, while power might be turned to other the fluctuations would be reduced and more dangerous purposes. within narrow limits. He had no Adverting to Lord Stanley's defear of land being thrown out of scription of the proper duty of cultivation, and he believed that the House of Peers as a check
upon hasty and ill-considered le- opinion which they now heard from gislation, Earl Grey took a rapid the responsible advisers of the glance at the progress which free- Sovereign was perfectly sincere. trade opinions had made in the Every one knew that in adopting country since the time of Adam the opinions which they now put Smith, and proceeded to notice forward they were making a great its effect on Parliament itself. sacrifice, and doing that which afDuring the
last few years, forded the strongest possible proof though there was a nominal ma of the necessity which existed for jority against it, no man who had passing the measure. looked at the proceedings of the Lord Ashburton opposed the Bill, other House of Parliament could remarking on the singular coincihave failed to find symptoms of dence that the Earl of Ripon, who the rapid approach of the period at proposed the present Bill, should which the principle would be fully be the same individual who brought adopted. Its opponents spoke in a Bill into the House of Commons such terms that they evidently many years back, intending to fix considered themselves beaten, and the price of wheat at the high that this result could not be much price of 80s. He brought in the longer delayed ; till at last they first corn Bill of the present series, saw Her Majesty's Ministers, who and now he moved the last. Had had so long been the ablest advo- the ports been opened last autumn, cates of protection, coming forward Lord Ashburton did not see that and manfully avowing a complete there would have been any difficulty change of opinion. They made in closing them again. A similar that avowal, and he gave
occurrence took place in the time full credit for making it with per of Mr. Huskisson. In 1825, when fect sincerity and honesty ; in fact, corn reached 72s. a quarter, that he knew of no reason why it should able Minister let in the bonded corn be otherwise ; and when he found at a duty of 10s. At that time those supporting it, who, under there were 400,000 quarters in other circumstances, would be the bond ; and Mr. Huskisson let in most forward to resist such a that quantity in three parts, at measure as the present, he de- intervals of three months, and thus rived from that circumstance the prevented the approaching distress. strongest possible reasons in fa How different from this cautious vour of the course, which he had policy were the measures of the no doubt that the House of Lords present Government ! To show would pursue when they came to the probable extent of the comvote upon this most important petition likely to arise under free question. It was well known that trade in corn, Lord Ashburton the Ministers of the Crown did referred to the evidence given by hold views respecting the Corn Mr. Bamfield before a Committee Laws in the years 1839 and 1841, of the Lords, and remarked that at which were not in accordance with once as much as 6,000,000 quarters those opinions under the influence might come in, or nearly one-third of which the present measure was of a whole year's consumption. brought under the notice of Par Under such circumstances it would liament; but no man in his senses be impossible to tell how low the could doubt that that expression of price of corn might fall, The