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Ministers and Opposition in equilibrio.
Wood then gave notice that on the report of the resolutions being brought up, he should once more take the sense of the House upon the subject. He did so, and at last succeeded in defeating his opponent, the Bill brought in by Lord Naas being thrown out by 194 against 166.
The Speaker had to give his casting-vote, and in accordance with custom he voted for going into Committee, that the House might have an opportunity for second thoughts on the resolution itself. The result produced great cheering from the Opposition.
On the 6th of June the Ministers were again defeated by Lord Naas, and in a more decisive manner. On the House going into Committee on the resolutions already agreed to, the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved that the chairman do leave the chair, and was outvoted by 140 to 123. Sir Charles
A nearly similar result attended a motion made by Lord Robert Grosvenor, for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal the annual certificate duty on attorneys and solicitors. The noble Lord proposed not to remove the duty in the present year, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would promise a favourable consideration of the subject in the following session, he would not press the motion at all, though he regarded the tax as a sample of unjust legislation against a class. The Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that the revenue could not afford the loss of this duty, neither did he regard it as having a paramount claim to remission. On a division the Government were defeated by 162 to 132. The victory, however, was fruitless, as the Ministers succeeded in getting rid of the Bill before the second reading.
FOREIGN AND COLONIAL AFFAIRS-Ceylon, and the Charges against Lord Torrington-Notice of Resolutions censuring the Conduct of that Nobleman and of Earl Grey given by Mr. Baillie-Lord Torrington enters into a detailed Explanation of his own Conduct in the House of Lords-Remarks of Earl Grey and of the Duke of WellingtonImportant Debate on Mr. Baillie's Motion continued for two NightsSpeeches of Serjeant Murphy, Mr. Ker Seymer, Mr. Roebuck, Mr. Hume, Sir James Hogg, Sir F. Thesiger, Mr. Hawes, Mr. Gladstone, the Attorney-General, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Disraeli -Mr. Baillie's Resolutions are negatived by a Majority of 82. COLO. NIAL EXPENDITURE AND SELlf-GovernmenT-Sir William Molesworth moves Resolutions in favour of a Reduction of the former, and an Extension of the latter to the British Colonies-His able and comprehensive Speech-He is answered by Mr. Hawes-Speeches of Mr. Adderley, Mr. Cobden, and Lord John Russell-The Debate is adjourned, and is not afterwards resumed. AFFAIRS OF THE CAPE COLONY-Political Agitation and Discontent in that Settlement, and renewal of the Kafir War-Debates in Parliament on these subjects-Mr. Adderley moves an Address to the Crown, praying that a Commission may be sent out to inquire into the Relations between the British Government and the Kafir Tribes-His Speech-Lord John Russell moves as an Amendment, that a Select Committee be appointed with the same objectSpeeches of Mr. Vernon Smith, Mr. F. Scott, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Roe buck, Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and other Members-The Amendment is carried by 128 to 60-Further Discussions in the House of Lords, and in the House of Commons, on the vote being proposed for the Expenses of the Kafir War in Committee of Supply-Important Debate on the Political Grievances of the Cape Colony in the House of Lords, on the Motion of the Earl of Derby-He enters fully into the subjects of the Postponement of the promised Constitution, and the sending of Convicts to the Cape-Earl Grey defends his own Policy-The Earl of Malmesbury, Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Cranworth, the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Argyll, and the Duke of Newcastle, take part in the Discussion-Lord Derby's Motion for a Select Committee of Inquiry is negatived by 74 to 68. SIR JAMES BROOKE-Mr. Hume moves for an Inquiry into the Conduct of this Officer in reference to some of his operations against the Dyak Tribes for alleged Piracy-Mr. Headlam, Mr. H. Drummond, Mr. Milnes, and Lord Palmerston vindicate Sir J. Brooke's Character-Mr. Cobden supports the Motion -Mr. Gladstone discredits the personal Charges, but is in favour of
Inquiry-On a Division, the Motion is defeated by 230 to 19. THE SLAVE TRADE-Interesting Statement made by Lord Palmerston respecting the progress made towards its Suppression-Remarks of Sir John Pakington and Mr. Hutt. STATE PROSECUTIONS OF THE NEAPOLITAN GOVERNMENT, -Publication of Mr. Gladstone's Letters to the Earl of Aberdeen-Strong public interest and sympathy excited by these disclosures-Sir De Lacy Evans questions the Government on the subject in the House of Commons-Answer of Lord Palmerston, and steps taken by him in reference to Mr. Gladstone's Pamphlet.
HE affairs of Ceylon, and the THE charges of mal-administration alleged against Lord Torrington in his government of that island, which had occupied a prominent space in the parliamentary proceedings of the two preceding years, were in this session again made the subject of warm discussion, and at length finally disposed of. Considerable delays had arisen in prosecuting the inquiry referred to the Select Committee of the House of Commons; partly from unavoidable causes, the distance of the scene, and the absence of the necessary witnesses; partly, as the adversaries of the ex-Governor alleged, from obstacles thrown in the way of investigation by the Colonial Office at home. At an early period of the present session, however, Mr. Henry Baillie, who had been the Chairman of the Select Committee, gave notice of his intention to move the following resolutions :
"1. That this House, having taken into consideration the evidence adduced before the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the grievances complained of in the Crown colony of Ceylon, is of opinion that the punishment of the natives of that island implicated in the disturbances of 1848 has been excessive and unnecessarily severe.
"2. That this House is of opi
nion that the execution of eighteen persons, and the transportation, imprisonment, and corporal punishment of one hundred and fifty persons, by military tribunals, for alleged offences after those disturbances had been suppressed (during which one individual only of Her Majesty's troops had been slightly injured), is at variance with the merciful administration of the British penal laws, and is not calculated to insure the future affections and fidelity of Her Majesty's Colonial subjects.
"3. That this House is therefore of opinion, that the conduct of Earl Grey, in signifying Her Majesty's unqualified approbation of Lord Torrington's administration of Ceylon, has been precipitate and injudicious, tending to establish precedents of rigour and severity in the government of Her Majesty's foreign possessions, and injurious to the character of this country for justice and humanity."
Circumstances, which arose in part out of the Ministerial crisis described in a former chapter of this volume, led to the postponement of Mr. Baillie's motion, which did not come on for discussion till the 28th of May. Meanwhile, Lord Torrington, feeling the painful predicament in which his political reputation was placed, determined to vindicate his own conduct by stating his version of the trans
coffee; and all the order did was, not to sanction a fraud upon the public, but to exempt dealers from Excise penalties. He did not think it was the duty of the Government in all cases to interfere between the public and sellers: caveat emptor; purchasers must take care of themselves. In nine cases out of ten, however, no fraud was really perpetrated, the parties knowing that what they bought was not pure coffee. Every one of the numerous complaints which had been made to him had come from the sellers of coffee. Parties could easily protect themselves against the adulteration of coffee-the bean could not be imitated. The mere revocation of the order would be insufficient, and he was not prepared to undertake a crusade against all adulterations, and a vexatious interference by the Excise, which would provoke general complaint.
Mr. E. Stanley observed that the Government did interfere, in the case of other articles, and all that was sought was, not the introduction of any new principle, but that the principle adopted in respect to tobacco should be applied to coffee, the consumption of which had gradually fallen off, and no cause could be assigned for this diminution but adulteration. Assuming that chicory was harmless-which was a disputed question-that was no reason why a person should pay for chicory the price of pure cotice. But chicory itself was adulterated with vile and noxious ingredients. Colonel Thompson and Sir J. Tyrell opposed the motion, which was supported by
Mr. Wakley, who complained of the wrongheadedness of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; he had taken the fraudulent dealers under
his patronage, and had no feeling for the honest trader, who was entitled to his protection.
Mr. Hume, on the other hand, complained of the inconsistency of Mr. Wakley, who was advocating the extension of the Excise. He thought the Government perfectly right in refusing to do so, and he wished they would abolish the Excise altogether.
After a few remarks from Sir W. Jolliffe and Mr. Bass, the House divided, when the motion was nega tived by five votes only, 89 voting for, and 94 against Mr. Baring s proposition. On a subsequent day Mr. Baring made a second attempt, with the same object, moving that it be an instruction to the Committee to make provision for preventing the mixture of chicory with coffee by the vendors of that article. His motion was again opposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir John Trollope, Sir Francis Baring, and Mr. Hume: and was advocated by Mr. Crawford, Mr. Herries, Mr. Wakley, and Mr. Cayley. The result of a division was, however, more adverse to the motion than on the former occcasion, the numbers against the motion being 199, and the supporters 122.
Among the financial measures proposed during the present session by independent Members, one of the most important was the motion of Mr. Cayley, which came ou for discussion on the 8th of May, for the repeal of the Malt Tax. In his opinion, said the hon. Member, there was no measure, short of a return to the system of commercial legislation we had unhappily abandoned, which would give so much relief to the agricultural interest. Neither the commutation of the Window Tax for the
House Tax, nor the reduction of the duties upon timber and coffee, diminished the special burdens upon the land; whereas the Malt Tax was so oppressive, obstructive, and obnoxious, that the late Sir R. Peel declared that that tax must be repealed if the Corn Laws were removed, and other advocates of free trade had echoed the declaration. He might be accused of counselling a breach of public faith; but no friend to public credit would allow the revenue from which the dividends of the public creditor were mainly derived to sink into depression. Other means might and must be devised to sustain public credit; the land could not much longer bear the weight of taxation cast upon it. No portion of the 5,000,000l. of taxes repealed had lightened the peculiar burdens upon agriculture. If there was to be no corn-law legislation, there should be no cornlaw taxation; and it was in order to remedy this injustice, and to bring the burdens of the agriculturalists within the compass of their means, that he proposed to repeal a tax amounting to 70 or 100 per cent. upon one of their principal commodities. The maltster was, moreover, shackled by revenue restrictions, contrary to the principle of free trade, to which no other productive interest was subjected, and the effect of which was to establish a monopoly in the hands of large capitalists. Free trade professed to sacrifice every other interest to that of the consumer; the effect of this tax was, to enhance the price of the poor man's beer 500 per cent., and to drive him from his own hearth to the gin-palace and the beer shop. If the tax upon this national beverage were re
pealed, the consumption would be stimulated in at least an equal degree to that which followed the reduction of the duties upon coffee and tea; and there would be a further natural demand for 10,000,000 quarters of manufactured barley. Mr. Cayley showed that in the instance of home-made spirits the increase of consumption had been in exact proportion to the discriminating duties in the three kingdoms, being most rapid in Scotland and Ireland, where they were lowest. This was not, he contended, a question affecting barley only; if the Malt Tax was repealed, the accruing benefit would extend to every species of grain. The peculiarity of the article would exclude foreign malt, and the import of foreign barley of suitable quality would not exceed 500,000 quarters. The repeal of the tax would, besides, relieve the hopgrowers, and give increased employment to 100,000 persons. He concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill.
Mr. Alcock supported the motion, which he hoped would be reiterated until there was some hope of relief from a tremendous burden, equal to the Income Tax, which was cast upon a very small portion of the land. He would be satisfied if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consent to an approximation towards a repeal of the tax, by remitting 10 per cent. this year, 20 per cent. the next, and so on.
Mr. Packe coincided with Mr. Cayley in considering that the British farmer laboured under an overwhelming distress, which he was anxious to relieve; but a fallacy ran through his argument, owing to his not distinguishing the interest of the farmer in his two capacities of