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deserves notice, not only in refer- all the calculations erroneous, and ence to the subject matter and if a most important class continued objects of the proposition, but depressed amid the general prosstill more on account of the effect perity, it was the duty of Parliawhich it was calculated to produce, ment to investigate the subject in and did actually produce, upon the a charitable spirit, and to adopt relations of parties and the position the course which reason and policy of the Government. The resolu- dictated. Mr. Disraeli vindicated tion moved by the hon. Member the character and the conduct of for Bucks, and which was debated the British farmers from the stigma by adjournment on the 11th and of sloth and want of skill, and 13th of February, was in these characterized the outcry against terms, viz. :-" That the severe rent, and the plea that this was a distress which continues to exist landlord's question, as economical among the owners and occupiers fallacies, tending to arm one agriof land, lamented in Her Majesty's cultural class against another. The Speech, renders it the duty of the object of his motion was not to Government to introduce, without dispute the fact of the general delay, measures for their effectual prosperity of the country, or to relief." Mr. Disraeli began by attack the new commercial system, observing that the fact, admitted but to adapt the condition of the in the Speech from the Throne, owners and occupiers of land to that, concurrent with the general that system. He should make no prosperity of the country, there attempt to bring back the abrowas a continual depression of a gated system of protection; if that certain class, well deserved, not system was to be restored, it must only the consideration of the Go- be done by a very preponderating vernment, but the deliberation of opinion out of doors. What, then, Parliament, in order to ascertain the was the reason why the cultivator nature and sources of that particu- of our soil could not compete with lar distress. He then referred to the foreign producer? It was the the anticipations which had been amount of taxation to which he formed five years ago as to the future was liable, and which had been prices of agricultural produce, and allowed to press unequally upon the effects of the change of the him in consequence of the artifisystem upon landed property. The cial state in which agriculture was result had been the reluctant re- formerly placed. The great mass cognition of continued distress of our general taxation was supamong the agricultural classes, plied from three sources-external after attempts in past years, on imposts, inland revenue, and local the part of the Government, to contributions. Nearly one-half of represent the depression of prices the first was raised by not permitas exceptional and temporary, and ting the cultivators of this soil to to prove that what had happened produce a particular crop, or loadcould not possibly occur. He did ing it with a peculiar impost; not mean to build upon these re- two-thirds of the inland revenue sults a proposition' to retrace our were raised by a colossal tax upon steps; but if all the estimates one crop of the British agriculupon which the changes of system turists; while of the 12,000,0001. had been founded were wrong, and of local contributions, 7,000,0001.
were paid by them, and the whole subjects, not excluding one partiwas levied upon a very limited cular class, which it was acknowclass. Mr. Disraeli entered into ledged had been treated with inthe details of these several bur- justice. dens, urging, at much length, the The Chancellor of the Exchehardships they inflicted upon the quer was quite ready to discuss landed interest; and, with respect this subject with calmness and to the last, he referred to the pro- temper, but Mr. Disraeli had asked posal made by him in the last ses- no distinct opinion of the House sion for relieving the land in the upon anything, throwing into the matter of local taxation—a ques. hotch-potch of his speech all the tion which had been since much ad. subjects which had occupied it for vanced. He urged, in addition, the the last five years. Sir Charles severity with which the tithe fell justified the opinions he had exupon the owner and occupier, not pressed in past years respecting merely in the commutation, but in the effects of the change in our the incidence of the charge itself, commercial policy; he had never which, as Mr. M‘Culloch thought, concealed his apprehensions of the justified an adequate countervailing difficulties which agriculture, like duty upon foreign corn. All these manufactures, might experience facts proved that the British farmer upon the withdrawal of protection, was overweighted. But it was said but he thought still that it would that the land enjoyed exemptions. revive and stand upon a sounder These, however, Mr. Disraeli en- foundation than before. The antideavoured to show were compara- cipations of the advocates of free tively small or illusory, and he trade had not proved more exagopposed to these exemptions the gerated than the gloomy forbodland tax. It was only by that ings of its opponents. The dispowerful instrument, the property tress alleged to exist among our and income tax, that our present agriculturists was paralleled in financial system was upheld, and France, notwithstanding its large from the returns of that tax it ap- exports of corn to this country peared that at least one-half was and its importing none. The di. levied from the ownersand occupiers minished price of meat here was of land—from owners whose rents the result of increased production, were reduced, and from occupiers and cattle were produced at a without profits. What these classes cheaper rate. Mr. Disraeli had required was only justice; they did dealt only with the owners and not shrink from competition, but occupiers of land ; but, though it they asked not to be forced into it might be very convenient to ignore manacled. Mr. Disraeli, in conclu- that important fact, the agriculsion, reviewed the remedies sug. tural labourers—whose condition gested by others, pointing out their on a former occasion was made the intrinsic inefficiency, or the impe- point upon which the whole quesdiments thrown in their way; treat- tion turned-were never in more ing even a fixed duty upon corn as prosperous circumstances than at no boon to the farmer, but merely a present. In Ireland as well as compromise. He desired no legis- England the numbers of ablelation that was not consistent with bodied paupers were rapidly dimithe welfare of all Her Majesty's nishing. Wages, in relation to
prices, were higher than during pled, and asked whether it was the war.
While the labouring possible that a legislation which classes were thus benefited, there had produced such results could had been no reduction of rents be wrong? No protected interest commensurate with the diminution ever lost protection without tranof prices. Sir Charles then re- sient sufferings; agriculture had viewed the several burdens alleged not been the only interest proto fall peculiarly upon the land — tected; the others had recovered the tithe, the prohibition to culti- from their depression, and now vate tobacco, the Excise duties on flourished beyond precedent; the agricultural products (which were application of capital and improved paid by the consumer, a fact over processes of cultivation would prolooked by Mr. Disraeli), and local duce the same result in agriculture, contributions,—which he justified and enable the British farmer sucor palliated. The assertion that cessfully to compete with foreigners. seven-twelfths of the local taxation He called upon the House, therewere paid by the agricultural classes fore, to reject this motion. was an error, and Mr. Disraeli had The Marquis of Granby obconfused with the owners of agri- served that, after five years' excultural land other landowners who perience of our commercial policy, have no title to relief from such the landed interest was in a worse burdens. He next passed in re- position than when it began. view the objections which Mr. Taking the quantity of wheat sold Disraeli had offered to other re- at 20,000,000 quarters, and the medies than his own, and, assum- depreciation at 248. a quarter, it ing that that gentleman, if he amounted to 24,000,0007. ; the demeant anything, asked to be re- preciation upon the whole crop lieved from the Customs duty on was no less than 60,000,0001. In tobacco, and the Excise duty on this state of things Mr. Disraeli malt, hops, and spirits, asked him, had asked the House not to rehow be would provide for the public verse its late policy, but to see expenditure? It could only be by whether it could relieve the landed reimposing those duties which, with interest from burdens always unso much advantage to the country, just, but which, under the existing had been repealed. Before that conditions, had become intolerable. course was pursued and our present The Chancellor of the Exchequer policy reversed, let the House con- did not say the proposition was sider what had been the result of unjust, but alleged difficulties in that policy. Since 1841 the re- the way of lessening the weight venue had increased 4,726,0001.; of taxation upon the agricultural the taxes repealed amounted to classes. But those classes had 10,763,0001., from which, if the not created the difficulties; those taxes imposed (5,655,0002.) were who had were bound to find a rededucted, the balance of relief was medy. Lord Granby contested
, upwards of 5,000,0001., with an the details brought forward by Sir augmentation of revenue nearly C. Wood, and adduced evidence to the same amount. Sir Charles from which he drew different con: read statements of our foreign clusions respecting the state of the trade, showing, he said, an increase country. He doubted whether the of our exports perfectly unexam. labourer was better off than under protection, and whether he would ing remissions of taxes, was prosnot prefer high-priced corn with a perous, and the exports had high rate of wages.
He believed reached the unexampled amount that other interests were not so of 70,000,0001. Notwithstanding flourishing as Sir C. Wood had the repeal of the Navigation Laws, represented, and he was convinced the outward tonnage of British the Legislature would be obliged, ships had exceeded that of 1850 sooner or later, to return to a sys- by 188,000 tons. But, after all, tem of protection, admitting the the most conclusive test of the principle that for every tax im- real prosperity and well-being of posed upon the home producer an the great body of the people was equivalent tax must be laid upon furnished by the immense imthe foreigner.
portations of foreign wheat and Sir James Graham joined issue flour, paid for and consumed by with the Marquis of Granby on
millions of mouths that would not these two points—that the great otherwise have been fed. There body of agricultural labourers had had, no doubt, been a serious disnot been gainers by the present turbance of prices; but so there commercial policy, and that, sooner had been in France, where protecor later, it would be expedient to tion was high, and even in this return to the system of protection. country under protection. In 1822 He admitted that the depression the average price of corn for of the prices of corn had been the year was 44s., and in some somewhat greater than he had weeks it was below 40s. But the expected, and the duration of the time had arrived when the price depression longer. On the other of corn must be left to find its natuhand, Mr. Disraeli had conceded ral level. The shepherd and the that the general condition of the ploughman, who now enjoyed a people was prosperous, and the cheaper meal, knew the reason why. condition of the labourer, in Sir The soldier, who felt his pay virJames's opinion, lay at the root of tually augmented, also knew the this whole subject. He did not reason why. It was necessary to undervalue the importance of the speak plainly, and he was satisfied landlord or the farmer; but he that no power in England could perregarded as paramount the welfare manently raise, by force of law, the of the great body of the people. price of bread. His objection to In Ireland the number of able- the motion, which was studiously bodied men receiving out-door re- ambiguous, was that it implied, lief had diminished from 1,210,000 though it did not ask, a reversal in 1849, to 572,000 in 1850. In of that system of fiscal policy to England the number of able-bo- which he traced the tranquillity died poor had been reduced 14 and social order of the last three per cent. In Scotland, the poor in years. Sir James showed the exreceipt of relief numbered 101,000 ceptions to which the remedial meain 1850, instead of 106,000 in sures suggested by Mr. Disraeli 1849; and the number of casual were open, and asked what his poor, the heaviest charge in Scot. motion could mean if not a return land, had diminished from 95,000 to protection. He contrasted the in 1849, to 53,000 in 1850. Mean- expressions used by that gentlewhile the revenue, notwithstand- man last year with his late speech, and putting the best interpreta- from realizing the predictions of tion he could upon these mystical those who had foreboded ruin to phrases, he came to the conclu- our shipowners and shipbuilders, sion that the real object of the had been completely the reverse. motion was to turn out the pre- Mr. Labouchere furnished some sent Administration, dissolve Par striking instances of the improveliament, return to protection, and ment in this branch of trade; reimpose a duty upon corn. He and upon the general question saw, therefore, that they were on said, he was satisfied with the the eve of a serious struggle ; that manner in which it had been they must gird up their loins and left by Sir C. Wood and Sir James prepare to offer a firm, manly, Graham. and uncompromising resistance. Mr. Cayley supported the moIn an impressive peroration he ap- tion, observing that its advocates pealed to the latest declaration of asked only justice, and it was not the author and champion of our their fault if justice and protection present policy, the late Sir Robert were convertible terms. He disPeel. “Though dead,” Sir James puted the accuracy of the concluobserved," he still speaks, and sions drawn by the Chancellor of from the tomb I hear the echo of the Exchequer from his “ troops his voice-'I earnestly hope that of figures," and he utterly denied I may never live to see the day that the revenue had recovered so when the House of Commons quickly from the collapse of 1847 shall retrace its steps.'" He as in years of protection. Thus, would give his vote in opposition in the interval of 1822 and 1824, to the motion.
upwards of 6,000,0001. of taxes Mr. Booker referred to details had been repealed, in spite of purporting to show that the coun- which the revenue had increased try was not in the prosperous state more than 3,000,0001., making a which had been supposed, that the gain of 9,000,0001. in three years. condition of the labourers had not Mr. Cayley contended that since improved, and that wages had di- 1841 the revenue had really di. minished ; sooner or later the minished; that the profits upon country must return to a system our exports had not increased ; of fair, proper, and efficient pro- and it was admitted that the tection of British industry. landed interest had sustained Mr. Labouchere said the effect
losses. He condemned of the motion was to change our the whole theory of our taxation commercial policy; the defence of pursued for the last 40 years, that policy must mainly rest upon and considered that vo member the results it had produced upon who desired to do justice could the comforts and prosperity of the withhold his support from the people; and, taking any test, the motion. answer would be the same—there Mr. Cardwell said, that although never had been a period in which, Mr. Cayley asked only for jusnotwithstanding the partial dis- tice, his speech was one continued tress of one class, the great body impeachment of the great meaof the people had been equally sure by which the peace and loywell off
. The effect of the change alty of the country had been in. in the Navigation Laws, so far sured in times of more than ordi