Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

ence we possessed.” He justified the language which he had used, which had been called “libel,” “abuse,” “calumny,” and “vituperation;” he had said, for instance, that Lord Auckland's proclamation set forth as facts what were not facts; was not that “false 2" As a further precedent to satisfy Sir R. Peel, he referred to Lord Porchester's motion for inquiring into the Walcheren expedition. He adduced further evidence that Sir A. Burnes's despatches had been garbled ; referring to a despatch to Sir William M“Naughten, dated Cabul, July 26, 1838. The extract given in the Parliamentary document went no farther than to say that Dost Mahomed had designs on Peshawur, and there it stopped; but reading on, it appeared that the writer added, “It seems that the chief is not bent upon possessing Peshawur, or on gratifying his personal enmities, but that he is simply securing himself from injury.” All this was left out. The despatch went on to say that the

views stated were worthy of consideration, and the more so when an avowed partisan of Dost Mohamed Khan supported them . Any man might see why those parts had been left out; and he did maintain that it was an instance of very gross falsification. “. Here was Burnes, your own Minister, sent to the court of Cabul, stating distinctly that Dost Mahomed did not desire to make an attack on Peshawur, but only to defend himself against aggression; and yet you came forward and declared as broadly as it was now denied, that Dost Mahomed had such designs on Peshawur, and that he did make certain demands in furtherance of those designs.” He had adduced one instance— the book was full of similar instances. In conclusion he threatened, that if he found in the estimates one tittle of charge towards payment of the expenses of the Affghan war, he should exercise the right of inquiry which it was incumbent on the House to exercise. On a division, the motion was rejected by 189 to 75.

CHAPTER V.

CoRN LAws—Mr. Ward moves on the 14th March for a Committee to enquire into the Special Burdens on Landed Properly His Speech —Mr. Bankes moves an Amendment condemnatory of the Anti-CornLan League—Mr. Cobden ansnvers Mr. Bankes Sir R. Peel opposes the Motion, as well as the Amendment—Remarks of Lord Hon'ick, Mr. Blackstone, and other Members—The Amendment is negatived without a division The Motion rejected by 232 to 133– Mr. Williers moves on the 16th May for a Committee of the nhole House upon the Corn Laws—Mr. Williers Stuart seconds the Motion —Mr. W. E. Gladstone opposes it, nith a Speech of much detail— The Debate is continued, by adjournment, for five nights successively —Extracts from Speeches of Mr. Roebuck, Lord Hon'ick, Mr. Blackstone, who severely taunts the policy of the Government, Sir Edward Knatchbull, Iord John Russell, Lord Worsley, Sir Robert Peel, and Mr. Cobden–On a division the Motion is lost by a majorily of 256—Lord John Russell renews the Motion for a Committee on the Corn Lan's, with a vien to a fixed duty on the 13th June– His Speech—It is ansnered by Mr. Gladstone—The Motion is supported with different viens by several Members—Sir R. Peel speaks against it—It is negatived by a majority of 99–Measure of the Government for a reduction of the Duties on Corn imported from Canada—Lord Stanley proposes a series of resolutions for that purpose—His Speech on introducing them—Mr. Labouchere moves an Amendment, seconded by Mr. Thornley—Speeches of Lord Hon'ick, Mr. C. Buller, Mr. Wodehouse, Mr. Ellice, Mr. Smith O'Brien, Mr. Hume, Major Bruce, Mr. F. T. Baring, Sir R. Peel, and Lord John Russell—The Amendment is negatived by 244 to 156–Discussions in Committee on the Resolutions —Amendments moved by Lord John Russell and by Lord Worsley are both rejected by large majorities, and the Resolutions are passed by a majority of 81—A Bill, jounded on the Resolutions is read a second time on the 2nd June, qfter a Debate, its rejection having been moved by Lord Worsley and negatived by a majority of 100—Debate on the Bill in the House of Lords—Earl Stanhope moves its rejection—The Amendment is supported by the Duke of Richmond, the Earl of Radnor, Lord Beaumont, Lord Teynham, and the Duke of Buckingham, opposed by Lords Brougham, Wharncliffe, Monteagle, and Ashburton—It is rejected by a majority of 32, and the Bill passed.

HE excitement which had year, had by no means subsided prevailed upon the subject of with the passing of the measure of the Corn-laws in the preceding Government for the re-settlement

of that question. The advocates of total repeal, who were, of course, entirely dissatisfied with the modification of the protective system, which Sir R. Peel had introduced, continued, through the agency of the Anti-Corn-Law League, and by the efforts of their speakers and lecturers, to stir up the public mind in favour of the complete removal of duties; they also availed themselves of almost every vacancy that took place in the House of Commons, to try the strength of public opinion upon their cause, though only with occasional and partial success. On the other hand, the classes more immediately interested in the prosperity of agriculture, manifested strong symptoms of disquietude and anxiety, feeling in their full force the evils necessarily attendant upon change and unsettlement, in a matter of such urgent and critical importance, and being sensitively alive to the apparent precariousness of a system on which their welfare so deeply depended. The promulgation by some Members of the Government of principles which, however qualified and abstractedly stated, seemed to go great lengths towards the broad doctrines of Free-trade, had excited considerable uneasiness and even distrust, in the minds of some who had looked to the present Government as forming their only bulwark against those principles, and a jealousy was manifested in some quarters, which threatened a breach between the adherents of the Conservative Ministry and the more zealous champions of British agriculture. The debates to which we shall refer, in connection with this subject, will show the state of opinion prevailing among the different parties in the

country, and the cautious tone and policy adopted by the Government under circumstances of so much delicacy, between the opposition of one party and the alarm and distrust of an important section of their own supporters. The subject was first opened by Mr. Ward, the Member for Sheffield, who, on the 14th March, proposed a resolution similar to one which he had brought forward without success in the preceding session: “That a Special Committee be appointed to inquire whether there are any peculiar burdens specially affecting the landed interest of this country, or any peculiar exemptions enjoyed by that interest; and to ascertain their nature and extent.” He admitted that in bringing forward a similar motion last year, he had been guilty of some mismanagement; but now, in proposing it as a substantive motion, he had avoided that. He assumed the Corn-laws, which put money into the pockets of the growers at the expence of the consumers, to be an evil: and he adopted Sir R. Peel's principle, that the real interest of the country was to bu in the cheapest market, and to .. in the dearest. He glanced at the history of the Corn-laws; remarking that for the last hundred and fifty years the opposite party had been begging the question in %. of the landed interest. He mentioned instances in which the peculiar burdens on land were adduced in justification of the Cornlaws, by Lord Lincoln, lately, at Newark; and by Mr. Gladstone, who had quoted a statement, as from Mr. M'Culloch, that land was more heavily taxed than any other species of property in this country, and that if so an equivalent protecting duty ought to be laid on Foreign Corn. The question should not be viewed with reference to the taxes paid by land in this country, as compared with other countries, but with reference to the manner in which taxation pressed upon the various classes at home. Mr. Ward successively investigated the alleged burdens which pressed upon the land; they were told, for instance, of buildings and repairs; but such outlay formed a part of the ordinary expenses of property, and could no more be classed under the head of “burdens” than a similar claim with respect to factories and machinery. According to Mr. M’Culloch, cotton cloth could now be had at a quarter of the price which was given in 1814; yet no one talked of bringing in a bill to indemnify the manufacturers for that diminished price. Poor rates were said to be another burden; but from returns moved for by the Member for East Norfolk, it appeared that of 444,000,000l. paid for poor rates of the last ninety-four years, the land paid only 55,000,000l., whilst houses, mills, and factories paid 240,000,000l. The laying down of railways, which are sometimes rated at 1,500l. per mile and in other cases at 600l. per mile, had proved a great relief to the land owners. Highway-rates were said to be a burden; but highways are indispensable adjuncts to landed property, which would be almost valueless without roads: the City of London might as well call for a tax upon Cornwall to pave Cheapside, as the landed interest call upon the public. The Churchrates amount to 500,000l., of which two-fifths are paid by Dissenters; and when they com

plained, they were told by Sir Robert Peel that they took their property subject to the tax. The same answer would apply to the landowners: who belonging for the most part to the Established Church, should be the last to complain of Church-rates. Lord Stanley, in 1833, speaking of Irish tithes, declared them to be a public fund, set aside for public purposes, without claim on the part of the landlords. Mr. Ward entered at some length upon the question of the land-tax, originally granted to indemnify the Crown, and commuted in 1689 for a uniform tax of four shillings in the pound on an assessment then fixed; the effect of which was, that with the increase of property the tax, although in some countries still amounting to nearly four shillings in the pound of the real value, was in many instances as low as five farthings, and in others as low as one farthing. He compared this burthen with the correspondin

impost upon land in Austria an

France; where the land-tax is respectively one-half and onefourth of the indirect tax, while in this country it is only one twentyfifth. He then turned to the exemptions of land—remission of duty upon farm servants, houses for husbandry, windows, insurances, auction duties, carts, shepherds' dogs, &c., &c., exemptions which fall principally upon farmers, stewards, or bailiffs, overseers, or clerks, under them, persons connected with the proprietary of the soil. . In respect of the probate and o duties, the land had enjoyed an important exemption ; if these duties had been ...! since 1797, the amount would have equalled that actually paid by personal property; but the landed

interest had enjoyed an exemption equivalent to 78,800,000l. In conclusion, Mr. Ward deprecated the double debate which would be raised by the amendment of which Mr. George Bankes had given notice. Mr. George Bankes said, that if he were not prepared to negative Mr. Ward's proposition, he should not have taken that opportunity of offering another subject for the consideration of the House. He complained, that, whereas Mr. Ward professed to be ready to ive up protection in all cases, one interest had been insidiously singled out; and he objected to the Corn-Laws being the first stone removed. He quoted Mr. Cobden, who said that “the law of England gives the poor of England the right of subsistence on the soil, and he is the first mortgagee on the landlord's estate ;” but the landowner was not only pledged to bear that, but the national creditor also. Mr. Bankes believed that the land-tax in Germany and France was liable to burthens, such as the maintenance of the poor, which are imposed upon land separately in this country, under the names of county-rates and r-rates. He adverted to the attacks of the League upon the landholders, and more especially to Mr. Cobden's attack upon himself. Mr. Cobden had said that he did not pay more than 8s. a week to his labourers; but Mr. Bankes quoted several letters from tenants on his Dorsetshire estate spontaneously written, and shewing that the rate of wages for various kinds of labour, ranged from 10s. to 25s, or more ; with a variety of other contingent advantages, such as beer, wheat at the fixed price of 6s. per bushel, cottages rent free, and gratuities of

money. He mentioned an occasion in November last, when he went to visit a part of his property where he # not usually reside, in order to minister to the wants of the poor during an anticipated hard winter. Mr. Cobden had said that the people in Dorsetshire were ill-clothed and ill-educated ; their clothing came from Manchester, Mr. Bankes having spent many hundreds in clothes and other necessaries; two schools had been established in the parish, and at the head of the subscription-list stood his own name for 250l. with 500l. money lent, without interest, and not to be called for until payment should be convenient. Mr. Cobden had called upon him to prove what benefit the Corn-Law conferred upon agriculture ; he replied that thousands upon thousands of acres had been brought into cultivation in his neighbourhood, which never could have been cultivated, if the protection of that law had not been given. In a parish comprising an area of fourteen square miles, and a population of 15,000 or 16,000 persons, there was not an able-bodied person who was receiving relief. Mr. Bankes then animadverted on the Anti-Corn-Law League, the sole object of which appeared to him to be to create excitement and dissatisfaction throughout the country; when they had obtained sufficient notoriety, they would propose a repeal of the corn-laws in that House; in the meantime they sent their emissaries and spies into the country to disturb the peace and comfort of the peasantry. “I beseech Her Majesty's Government,” said Mr. Bankes, “to protect us; as a faithful and dutiful subject of the Crown, I request and demand it." He

« ForrigeFortsett »