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measure the less imperiously demanded by every consideration of sound policy.' If the Corn laws be really beneficial to the producers, they must, for the same reason, be really in. jurious to the consumers. If they enrich the agriculturists, by securing them higher prices than they would obtain under a free system, they must, to the same extent, impoverish the manufacturing and commercial classes, who are compelled to pay these artificially enhanced prices; while, by raising the rate of wages, they must lower the profits of stock, and operate to force capital out of the kingdom. Nothing, indeed, but the extreme importance of the subject could induce us to stop for a single moment to argue with those who suppose that high prices can, under any circumstances, be advantageous to a nation. To facilitate production, and to make commodities cheaper and more easily obtained, are the grand motives which stimulate the inventive powers of genius, and which lead to the discovery and improvement of machines, and processes for saving labour and diminishing cost; and it is plain that no system of commercial legislation deserves to be supported which does not conspire to promote the same objects. But, instead of promoting, the Corn laws openly and violently counteract them. By preventing the importation of corn from the cheapest markets, they raise its price, and force a large proportion of the capital and industry of the country to engage in a comparatively disadvantageous employment. Such a system cannot be maintained without causing immediate injury and ultimate ruin. Instead of being advantageous, high prices are in every case distinctly and completely the reverse. The smaller the sacrifice for which any commodity can be obtained, so much the better. When the labour required to produce, or the money required to purchase, a sufficient supply of corn is diminished, it is as clear as the sun at noon-day that more labour or money must remain to produce or purchase the other necessaries, conveniences, or amusements of human life, and that the sum of national wealth and comfort must be proportionally augmented. Those who suppose that a rise of prices can ever be a means of improving the condition of the country, might, with equal reason, suppose that it would be improved by throwing its best soils out of cultivation, and destroying its most powerful machines ! The opinions of such persons are not only opposed to the plainest and most obvious principles of economical science, but they are opposed to the obvious suggestions of common sense, and the universal experience of mankind.
In order to simplify the consideration of this great question, we have argued thus far, on the supposition that there is nothing in the circumstances under which the agriculturists of Great Britain are now placed, or in the public burdens imposá, ed on them, that could unfit them for withstanding the free competition of foreigners, or entitle them, in any view of the matter, to claim that a higher duty than 5s, or 6s. a quarter should be imposed on foreign wheat, and proportionally on other foreign corn when imported. But as this is a point of great practical importance, we shall examine it somewhat in detail. .: I. In entering upon this examination, it is necessary, in the first place, to distinguish between the landlords as such, and the growers of corn. Rent being the excess, or the value of the excess, of the produce obtained from the superior lands of a country, over that portion of their produce or its value, that is, required to defray the expenses of their cultivation, and to yield the farmers the common and ordinary rate of profit on their capital, it is obvious that it is altogether extrinsic to the cost of production. And therefore it results, that such taxes as fall exclusively on rent, might be augmented so as to absorb it entirely, without in the slightest degree affecting the price of corn. Nothing can affect its price, unless it affects the cost of its production; but rent being a surplus which is over and above that cost, it is quite clear, that it is of no consequence to a cultivator whether the rent which he pays be 'received by a landlord or a. tax-gatherer. Hence, though it should appear that the land-, lords of this or any other country are heavier taxed than any other class of the community, that circumstance would not afford the shadow of a ground for giving the home-growers of corn a protection against foreign competition. If the opening of the ports should have the effect to throw any unusual burden on the landlords, or to impose a sacrifice on them which it does not impose on the rest of the community, they would be entitled to a compensation. But if the opening of the ports would not afa fect the relative condition of the landlords—if it would have no influence on the burdens which have been long imposed on them, and under which their estates have been acquired, and the existing interests of the country grown up-and if its only, effect would be to place industry on a more secure foundation, to avoid the misapplication of a large amount of capital, and the annual loss of from fourteen to fifteen millions where is the individual who will contend that the landlords have any right to claim that a duty should be imposed on foreign corn, in order to protect their interests ?
II. With respect; in the second place, to those taxes or burdens which affect the cultivators of the soil or the producers of
. manufaarges affecern, unless to a pri
corn, they may be exceedingly heavy without entitling them to a protection from foreign competition. It must be remembered, that all imported corn must be paid for, either directly or indirectly, by the exportation of some species of manufactured goods : And it is clear, on the first blush of the matter, that the home producers of corn have not the semblance of a claim to a protecting duty on the importation of foreign corn, unless they can show that the taxes or public charges affecting raw produce, exceed those which fall on manufactured goods. We are no apologists for heavy taxation; but however oppressive it may be-though it were to abstract a fourth or a third part of the income of every individual-still if it affected them all equally, it would leave the relative values of the commodities produced by them exactly where it found them; and if it did this, it is clear to demonstration, that it could not possibly render any particular class less able than the others to withstand the unfettered competition of foreigners, and could not, therefore, entitle them to a protecting duty. But if higher duties were laid on a particular class of commodities, the case would be different. Suppose, for example, that the various duties affecting manufactured commodities amount to only 10, while those affecting the raw produce raised by the agriculturists amount to 20 per cent.; it is obvious, that, in order to maintain the agri. culturists in the same situation as the manufacturers, the price of raw produce must rise 10 per cent. higher than it would be, were it not loaded with that excess of duty; and it is further obvious, that the exclusion of foreign grain, by enabling the cultivators to diminish the supply, enables them to raise the price, and to throw the burdens peculiarly affecting them on to the 'consumers. In the event, however, of the ports being opened to the importation of all sorts of foreign corn free of duty, the agriculturists would be deprived of the power of limiting the supply of corn, and, consequently, of raising their prices, so as to indemnify them for the excess of burdens by which we suppose them to be affected. The 10 per cent. excess of duty affecting corn raised at home, would then really operate as a bounty on the importation of that which was raised abroad; and if it were not defeated by a protecting duty of 10 per cent., the agriculturists would be placed in a relatively disadvantageous position ; and such of them as occupied the poorer description of lands would be driven from their business.
It appears, therefore, that if the growers of corn are only taxed to the same extent as the other classes of producers, they have no claim, whatever may be the absolute magnitude of the burdens laid on them, to a protecting duty. But if they are more heavily taxed, they are entitled to demand that a duty
should be charged on all foreign corn when inported, equivalent to the excess of duties affecting their produce, as compared with those affecting the produce of the manufacturers. Such a duty, by fitting all classes equally to withstand foreign competition, will preserve them in the same relative situation after the opening of the ports as previously; and will treat all parties, as they ought ever to be treated, with the same equal and impartial justice.
Putting, therefore, the question with respect to protection on this ground, the only tenable one on which it can be put, let us next proceed to inquire whether the agriculturists are really more heavily taxed than the manufacturers or merchants.
The taxes which seem peculiarly to affect the agriculturists, and on the pressure of which they found their claim to a protecting duty, are Tithes-supposed to amount, Ireland included, to about four millions and a half a year--the Land tax amounting to two millions--and Poor rates and other county burdens, computed at about seven millions more-making, in all, about thirteen millions.
But, on examination, it will be found, that by far the largest proportion of this sum has invariably been paid out of rent, and that it has really no more to do with the cost of producing corn than the taxes laid on tobacco or nutmegs. And, first, with respect to tithes :-It has been fully established by Mr Ricardo, that if all, or nearly all the lands of a country were subject to this charge, it would, in the event of foreign corn being excluded, or loaded with an ad valorem duty of 10 per cent., occasion an equivalent rise in the price of corn, and would, in consequence, fall wholly on the consumers, and not on the landlords or occupiers. And, conformably to this principle, it has been argued, that if the ports were now to be opened for the importation of foreign corn free of duty, the cultivators, unable, by limiting the supply, to raise prices, would relinquish the tillage of bad land ; which would have the effect to reduce the rent of the landlords, and to throw a burden wholly on them that has hitherto been borne equally by all classes. But although the principle advanced by Mr Ricardo holds under the circumstances he has supposed, it is essential to observe that, these are not the circumstances under which the agriculturists of Great Britain are, or ever have been placed. So far, indeed, is it from being true that all, or nearly all our lands are affected by the burden of tithe, that it appears that about a THIRD part of the land of England and Wales is exempted from it* exclusive of considerable tracts in Ireland, and of
• According to a statement given in the excellent article on England in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, (vol. ix. p. 32.), the total the whole of Scotland! And such being the case, it is quite idle to suppose that the cultivators of the tithed lands have had any power so to narrow the supply of corn brought to market, as to throw any considerable portion of the burden of tithes on the consumers. Had the extent of tithe-free land been inconsiderable, they might have thrown the greater part of it upon them; but when they have had to come into competition, not with a few, but with a third of the cultivators of England, and all those of Scotland, it is obvious that the price of corn must have been regulated by the price for which it can be raised on the last lands cultivated that are free from tithe, and not by what it could be raised for on the last lands cultivated that are subject to that charge. It appears, therefore, that if the whole land of the empire had been subject to tithes, the proposition advanced by Mr Ricardo, that tithes do not fall on rent, but on the consumer, would, under the existing restraints on importation, have been strictly true. Inasmuch, however, as this is not our situation as a very large proportion of our lands are not subject to tithes, and the cultivators of the tithed lands are, in consequence, without the means of limiting the supply and raising prices, the proposition advanced by Dr Smith, that tithes constitute a portion of the rent of the land, and that their payment has no effect on the price of corn, is most certainly correct. Neither, it is to be observed, is this a burden recently imposed upon landlords. Tithes have existed for a thousand years; and having been constantly paid out of rent, it is clear to demonstration, on the principle previously laid down, that the landlords cannot urge the existence of this burden as a reason why a corresponding duty should be laid on foreign corn imported. Tithes form a portion of the rental of the country appropriated by the State, to whom they really belong, to the support of the Church. And though they may be, and we believe with Dr Paley really are, a most noxious institution, they are in no respect more injurious to the landlords thạn to any other class of the community. Every estate affected by tithe 'was acquired with a full knowledge that it was liable to that burden, or, which is the same thing, that the public, or, by its permission, the Church, was entitled to a tenth part of its gross produce; and when such is the case, it would not, it is evident, be more absurd to impose a protecting duty on foreign
annual value of all the land of England and Wales, in 1815, amounted to 29,476,8501. And it also appears, that lands of the annual value of 7,901,378l. are wholly tithe free; while lands of the annual value of 856,1831. are tithe free in part, and lands of the annual value of 498,823l. pay only a low modus.