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Introductory Debate on the Corn-laws on 9th February-Extra

ordinary interest manifested in the House of Commons, and out of doors- Attempt of the Anti-Corn-law Delegates to take possession of the LobbyThey are prevented by the Police- Development of the Ministerial plan by Sir Robert Peel--He proposes a modification of the Sliding-scale-Short Remarks on the Plan by Lord John Russell - It is vehemently denounced by Mr. Cobden as an insult to the People-Debate resumed on the 14th-Lord John Russell moves at great length a Resolution condemnalary of a Graduated Scale Summary of his argumentsHe is answered by Mr. W. E, Gladstone The Debate continued by Adjournment during three nights - Principal Speakers on bạth sides— Debate unmarked by novelty or originality of views--Mr. Roebuck opposes the principle of Protection in tolo-Speech of Sir Robert Peel, who is followed by Lord Palmerston-Lord John Russell's Amendment rejected on Division by 349 to 226,

N the 9th of February, being made an attempt to station them

Peel had announced for the de- been permitted, the Members of velopment of the Ministerial plan the House would have experienced for the alteration of the Corn. great difficulty in obtaining adlaws, extraordinary interest was mission. To avoid this result, the evinced, both in and out of the police and officers on duty were House of Commons, to learn the compelled to oppose the entrance issue of the long-concealed delib- of the delegates, and for a time it erations of the Government on was thought that a violent conthis subject, At an early hour flict would have taken place. The all the avenues of the House were delegates, however, after some al. thronged by persons eager to ob- tercation, thought fit to retire tain admission; and, as soon as from the field, and stationed them. the doors were opened, a violent selves outside the House, where rush ensued, and every seat in they saluted the different Members the Strangers'-gallery was in a as they passed with cries of “ No few moments occupied. Shortly Sliding-scale," “ Total Repeal," after four o'clock, a number of “ Fixed Duty," &c. In the the Anti-Corn - law delegates House of Commons the scene was marched in procession down Par- particularly animated. By five liament-street to the House, and o'еlock the House was perfectly


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crammed. Below the bar were pressions as great, and revivals of

a number of distinguished prosperity almost as sudden and strangers, among whom the Duke extraordinary as those depressions ; of Cambridge, and

and to the operation of natural Members of the Upper House causes he confidently looked for were conspicuous. Shortly after such a revival. Sir Robert Peel wards, Sir Robert Peel rose and briefly enumerated the causes to moved, “ That this House resolve which he assigned the embarrassitself into a committee to consider ment, which had been in operation the trade in Corn.”

He then re

the last four or five years, viz.quested that the Clerk of the the stimulus given to great underHouse should read that portion of takings by the connexion between her Majesty's Speech which re- joint stock banks and our manulated to that subject. The speech facturing establishments; the imwhich he then proceeded to ad- migration of labourers from the dress to the House, was listened to agricultural, to the manufacturing, throughout with profound atten- districts and consequent building tion, marked, however, by mani- speculations; the immense increase festations of keener and more

of mechanical power ; eager attention as often as the action of monetary difficulty prospeaker was supposed about to duced by similar causes in the develope the proposals of the Go United States, and the diminished vernment. The extreme impor- demand for our manufactures tance attached to the statements there; interruption of commerce contained in this address under the with China ; the war-alarm in circumstances which attended its Europe, and stagnation of comdelivery, warrants a larger allot- merce consequent upon it. He ment of space than can usually be did not think an alteration of the afforded to individual speeches Corn-laws could be any remedy within the limits of this work, for some of the evils inseparable while its unusual length prevents from these causes. Extend," its insertion entire. It is hoped he said, your foreign commerce that the extracts which follow will

as you may, depend upon it that suffice to present a tolerably clear it is not a necessary consequence and complete, though abridged that the means of employment for view of the statements and rea- manual labour will be proportionsonings which it embraced.

ate to that extension." The handHe began by observing that it loom weavers were an instance of was difficult to discuss the subject the disastrous effects upon parwithout making statements or ad. ticular classes of those sudden immissions which would be seized by provements in machinery which opponents; but he trusted to the produced the general wealth of reason, the moderation, the judg- the country ; a hard but inevitable ment of Parliament. He would condition. He referred to the not, however, excite the hope that exports to show the working of his measure would tend materially some of the

causes which he and immediately to mitigate the named. He said, we were too existing commercial distress, pro- apt, upon comparison of the last duced by a combination of circum- few years at any time, if we find stances, He had before seen de- a decline, to infer that the sources




of our prosperity are drying up: Holland, and Belgium. In 1837, we should extend the comparison the value of our exports to these over larger periods. But even three countries was 8,742,0001.; during a very recent period, the in 1838, it was 9,606,0001. ; in general exports showed an in- 1839, it was 9,660,0001. ; and in

1840, it was 9,704,0001. So that “On referring to the returns, even with respect to those countries I find that in the year 1840 the which are the chief sources of our exports of British produce and supply of corn when we stand in manufactures—I speak of their need of any, which are supposed declared value-to all parts of the to be such formidable competitors world, exceeded the exports of of our manufacturers, and with 1837 by 9,355,0001.; that they which the sale of our productions exceeded those of 1838 by is supposed to be so rapidly de1,345,000l. ; that they fell short clining on account of our exclusion of the exports of 1839 by of their corn, it


that on 1,817,0001. - a falling-off guffi- the whole there has been a procient, no doubt, to create great gressive increase in the exports of and natural anxiety and appre- commerce.

Sir, I

cannot, hension;

but the causes of that therefore, infer that the operation falling-off will be amply accounted of the Corn-laws is to be charged for if you will refer to the state of with the depression which unforour commercial transactions with tunately prevails in the country at the United States. In 1839 there the present moment."

an export to the United Various opinions obtained in the States of 8,839,0001., whereas in country as to a change of the 1840 the total amount of exports Corn-laws. Some opposed all was only 5,283,0001. ; thus leay. change. Sir Robert Peel believed ing a deficit in the state of our their

number very small, for most exports with the United States, in agriculturists believed that the 1840 as compared with 1839, of Corn-laws might be altered with the amount of 3,556,0001. Now advantage. Others demanded imthis fact is sufficient to account for mediate and absolute repeal, rethe falling-off in the general jecting all modification: and those amount of our exports in 1840 as who advocated repeal of all taxes compared with 1839. In the on subsistence, appealed to topics mean time, it is satisfactory to which gave them great advantage. view the progress of our Colonial A comparison was made between trade. In 1837, the proportion the dearness of food in this country of our exports to the Colonies was and its cheapness in others ; but 11,208,0001.; in 1838, it was that led to a fallacious conclusion : 12,025,0001. ; in 1839, it was the true question is, not what is 14,363,000.; and in 1840, it the price of bread, but what comwas 15,497,0001. Now let us mand the labouring classes have look at the state of our commer- over bread, and what command cial transactions with those coun- they have over the enjoyments of tries in Europe which are the life. The price of corn is much chief sources of our supply of less in Prussia, than in this counfood. Let us look at the state of try; but what is the condition of our export trade with Germany, the Prussian people? The eviVOL. LXXXIV.


dence of Dr. Bowring before the amount of consumption. I admit Import-duties Committee should that there is no such consumption ; tell.

but in drawing general conclusions He said that, he had made an with respect to legislation, you estimate of the consumption of have no other alternative than to different articles, (and, I believe, deal with general averages and he had in his possession the means comprehensive results; and by of calculating,) and that he found that means to ascertain,


the that in Prussia, with a population whole, what the consumption of a of 14,000,000, the consumption of country is. I will now proceed to butchers'-meat was 485,000,000 the consumption of sugar; and pounds, or very nearly thirty-five before you determine that high pounds annually for each person. prices are necessarily an evil, 1 But the honourable Gentleman says would recommend you to compare that, in this country 25,000,000 the consumption of sugar in this of persons each consume fifty country with that of other counpounds of meat annually : he tries of Europe. I again refer to says that, it cannot be less than the authority of Dr. Bowring. fifty pounds, and it has been fre- The honourable Gentleman said, quently estimated at double that that in France the consumption of amount. Now, I will take it at sugar, according to the last returns, the lowest calculation ; and from was about five pounds a head : he that it appears, that the inhabit- said, indeed, that the amount of ants of Prussia consume but thirty- consumption of sugar was four five pounds yearly, whereas in this and three-tenths a head, but I country fifty pounds are, at the think it better to take five pounds, lowest estimate, consumed annu. because there may be a certain ally. Observe, that I am not at amount of beet-root sugar, which all denying that distress prevails he may not have taken into his in many parts of the country: I calculation. Therefore, taking feel perfectly convinced that, in the consumption at five pounds a parts of the country, distress pre- head in France, it will be found to vails to a great extent. Indeed, I be the highest in Continental Eucould not have been present at the rope. In the states of the German debate last night, and heard the League it is four pounds; and in details with respect to the state of Europe generally it is two and a Paisley, without being satisfied of half pounds a head. The conthe existence of distress. I cer. sumption of Great Britain, howtainly do not mean to draw the ever, the honourable Gentleman inference that, while there are calculates at seventeen pounds a 17,000 persons out of employ at head. I will now take the conPaisley, the consumption of meat sumption of corn of the article is upon this scale. Not at all; which is the subject of our present but it is impossible to argue the discussion. Mr. Deacon Hume, a subject fairly with reference to gentleman whose loss we must all particular cases. You must not sincerely deplore, made the calcube driven away from the inference lation that each individual in this by being taunted with the question country consumed one quarter of as to whether at Paisley, Stock- wheat per annum: the honourable port, or Oldham, there is such an Gentleman makes the total con


sumption for 24,000,000 of in- turing distress, by adding to it habitants 45,000,000 quarters of agricultural distress; the prosperity grain ; which is not very far from of the two classes being identical. two quarters for each person. The There were advantages in a fixed honourable Gentleman also gives duty, which did not apply to a us the consumption of the Prussian variable duty ; but the objection states: he says the Prussian states to the principle of imposing any contain 14,000,000 of inhabitants, duty on corn was equally appliand that they consume 13,000,000 cable to both. Nor could a fixed quarters of grain in the year. duty be permanent. He did not Observe, that this is less than one think they could impose any quarter an individual. But while

amount of fixed duty sufficient for Mr. Hume calculates the con- the protection of agriculture in sumption of wheat in this country years of average supply, which as a quarter for each individual they could determinately and per annum, the honourable Gen

fixedly impose in times of distress tleman's calculation was that of and scarcity.

In considering the one quarter of bread consumed by question, it became a matter of each person

in Prussia three- importance to consider, what was fourths, at least, consist of rye. the probability that this counThe honourable Gentleman also try could supply its own popusays, that throughout the Prussian lation with corn from its own states the consumption of ryebread is in the proportion of three Now, I am not prepared to or four to one when compared to admit that this country is unable wheat. The consumption of 124 in ordinary years to supply its towns in the Prussian League own population. If I formed my would be 65} pounds of wheat judgment from the circumstances and 2402 pounds of rye for each of the last four years, I should individual ; making in the whole have been compelled to conclude 306 pounds. This would give, that we were dependent on foreign for the 124 towns, the consumption supply for a great proportion of for each individual of one bushel our consumption: I should have of wheat, instead of one quarter of been compelled to come to this wheat, which was the consumption conclusion, because the average of of Great Britain."

the last four years' importation of He quoted similar evidence re- foreign corn into this country was specting the comparative con- 2,300,000 quarters.

But if we sumption of tea, salt, and woollen take a longer period- if we take cloth. On the other hand, the twelve or thirteen years, then it consumption of tobacco and butter would appear that, on the whole, was less in England than in Prus- the annual average importation of

A reference to Belgium also foreign corn was very considerably proved, that the wages there did smaller. In proof of this, I beg not give the same command over to state, that taking the quantities the comforts and necessaries of life of wheat and wheaten flour imas in other countries. It was his ported in those years, it appeared (Sir Robert Peel's) firm belief, that that the whole did not amount total repeal of the Corn-laws to than 12,000,000 or would aggravate the manufac- 13,000,000 of quarters: from



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