even of the more wealthy classes were directly or indirectly dependent for their incomes on the prosperity of some branch or other of the national industry; they, too, were beginning—though he feared at the present they were Only beginning—to feel the effects of the present lamentable state of affairs; and even those whose inComes had not at once been affected by the prevalent distress had been exposed to that reduction of income which was occasioned by a new and direct demand to meet the exigencies of the public service. The consequence was that, whether in the upper ranks or whether in the lower, there was starcely a family in the country which was not compelled to retrench some former expense, or to give up some luxury or indulgence to which they had formerly been accustomed. Such he believed to he an unexaggerated statement of the actual condition of the country, This general view Lord Howick supported by details, derived especially from Sunderland, to illustrate the condition of trading towns, and from Northumberland to illustrate that of the rural districts; describing the depressed state of the coal and shipping trades in Sunderland, of the retail trades, the diminished consumption of butchers' meat, the increase of poor rates, the low price of live stock caused by that diminished Consumption, the distress of the farmers now beginning to press On the labouring agricultural class, the distress of the retail traders who supply that class, and their difficulty of collecting debts, the aggravated competition in the country from the migration of work people from the distressed

towns, and the increase of casual poor from the same cause. Thence he passed to the deficiency in the Excise, of 1,157,300l. on the year, 717,000l. on the quarter, as a test of the deteriorated condition of the people. He compared the Excise revenue with that of 1840, (that for 1841 having been swelled by the efforts to reduce the balances in the hands of Collectors,) when it amounted to 4,016,000l., the amount for the last year, 3,022,000l., showing a deficiency of 994,000l. That statement could not be affected by the Temperance movement in Ireland, as the returns related to England alone; but its sole cause must be a forced economy, painful to every class; even the wealthy felt the privation of accustomed luxuries, how much more the poor man compelled to reduce his scanty expenditure! It was awful to think what would have been the distress if the winter had been a hard one ; but such a state of things could not continue much longer, without extreme danger to the institutions of the country; and he pointed to the disturbances in the north as a warning, and as proof of something radically wrong. An historian, whose loss they had lately had occasion to deplore, had observed that the great mass of mankind were so constituted that they could rarely feel serious political distress unless when suffering from personal want, and that they were driven by this cause to feel discontent with the institutions under which they lived, and consequently to become impressed with the desire for change. . Now these observations, he thought, were no less just than new ; and the cause was traced by that eminent historian to the instinctive feeling in men's minds, that when they suffered general poverty it must be owing in some manner to the fault of their Government. Lord Howick believed this was an instinct which did not mislead; for was it possible to view the world around, and observe in what rich abundance the Creator had given the means of supplying all men's wants, without the conviction that it was not his intention that the condition of man should be one of privation and suffering. He believed, then, that the distress which this countr


was now afflicted with, and whic

had continued so long, afforded a presumption that there must be something wrong in the political organization of society here; for if not, whence came it about that this distress had been of so long continuance? The excessive competition of labour was the cause which he assigned for the distress; and the remedy was, to make a new opening for its energies. The rational field for natural exertion was cabined, cribbed, confined, by arbitrary barriers, which it was in the power of that House at once to remove. In the first place, there were laws upon our statute-book which went directly to the restriction of importation, not incidentally arising nor introduced by accident in providing for increase of revenue, but directly checking importation from foreign countries. These laws had operated most successfully for the purpose contemplated in their enactment; and if modified to-morrow, would open to this country, a large and important commerce in all articles of consumption, but more especially in the staple one of food. This was the foundation of his argument. If importation were

increased, an additional stimulus would be given to industry. In support of this position, he quoted Mr. Gladstone's remarks on the Tariff last year, when he said the importation of 50,000 head of cattle would cause but a small decrease in the price of meat, but would so lead to the export of 500,000l. in British manufactures; and he cited other authorities and arguments to make out these propositions; first, that we might largely increase our imports but for the obstacles imposed by our laws for that very urpose; and next, that a large increase of our imports would be attended with a very great increase in the exportation of our manufactures. If his arguments were said to be merely theoretic, he retorted, that the whole system of restriction was built on a !. which no one could now defend; a theory which took its rise in the notion that gold and silver constituted wealth—that all that a nation gained by trade went to increase the amount of its gold and silver, and that to increase its exports, and decrease its im[..." in order to have a favourale balance, was a wise policy. He pointed to the advantages which had accrued to England from the removal of restrictions on the trade of Ireland and Scotland at the Union, and of the United States at the Separation. With a direct appeal to the Ministers of the Crown, as to the responsibility which they would incur by re. jecting his proposition, Lord Howick concluded by moving :“That this House do resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House, to consider so much of Her Majesty's Speech as refers to ‘that depression of the manufacturing industry of the country which has so long prevailed, and which Her Majesty has so deeply lamented.’” Mr. Gladstone admitted the general truth of the description given by Lord Howick of the present distress, but qualified it by explanations respecting several of the suffering interests: “ The Income Tax, for instance, had been mentioned as conducing to that distress, by pressing on the middle and upper middle class; yet it had the peculiar merit of reaching the enormous accumulated capital of the country. There had also been special causes for the depression of the shipping trade; viz., the cessation of emigration to Australia, and great over-production in the trade of ship-building. He referred to the deposits in savings banks, to show an improvement in the condition of the working-classes: he would read to the House the sums received from and paid to the savings banks in South Lancashire, during the three several periods of the three months ending 31st January 1841, 1842, and 1843: during the first period, he found that the savings banks received 14,250l., and paid out 2,750l. ; during the second period, the savings banks received 7,950l., and paid out 10,300l. ; and in the third period, they received 22,100l., and paid out 3,250l. With respect to the deficiency in the Excise, Lord Howick had compared the quarter of 1840, when the sum paid for the malt duty was very large, with the quarter of 1842, when the sum paid for the malt duty was very small.” He had asked for a Committee of the whole House; to what useful end ?— To consider the Corn Laws :

the Sugar Laws 2 to undo this year what they did last year P. No such thing; but to consider ‘the state of the country.” Was it possible to conceive that any good could come from such a motion ? He was sure the noble Lord in bringing forward his motion must have been convinced of the certainty of its rejection, But the inconvenience of this proceeding was not the only ground for its rejection: he did not think that anything could operate with more pernicious effect on a feverish and languishing state of commercial industry than such a proposed inquiry. Did not the noble Lord opposite charge his right honourable Friend last year with unsettling everything by the propositions he made P and it was notorious that on the declaration of the changes intended to be effected, trade became stagnant, employment was diminished, and capital rendered redundant. This was the temporary effect of a plan which was definite and specific : his right honourable Friend did not propose to go into a Committee to fish out what might be desirable or not, but he laid on the table of the House a specific proposition; and even that was sufficient to disturb men's minds from one end of the country to the other. But the noble Lord, who felt the evil of this state of things, proposed now to renew these agitations with tenfold violence ; for he had not thought fit to state the measures on which he depended for the relief of the distress of the country.” Was Lord Howick's objection to the commercial laws concentrated on one particular law—the Corn Law P That, indeed, was the real offender in his eyes. ,

Mr. Gladstone had expected that Lord Howick's speech would lead to the naked proposition of simple free trade; but he did what he last year accused Sir Robert Peel of doing, and “halted between two opinions,” hesitating to declare how far he would remove restrictions on trade. He was sure Lord Howick professed that which he felt, and did not undertake to defend the interests of the people from any personal or party object; still it appeared to him, that the present motion served a purpose which no other motion with which he was acquainted could effect : The noble Lord the Member for London was determined last year to lead the attack on the Corn Laws; and he arranged with the Gentlemen who sat behind him—he did not know whether that noble Lord could still call them his friends, to quote an expression of the noble Lord— that he should commence the movement of the session with the debate on the fixed duty. The debate on the fixed duty went off with éclat. The noble Lord mustered the whole strength of his party, and, all circumstances considered, made a respectable appearance. But what became of the Member for Wolverhampton P The noble Lord took all the bloom off his motion, and the honourable Member for Wolverhampton had nothing but stale dregs to offer. (Continued laughter.) After he and his friends had passed muster, and helped to swell the minority of the noble Lord, they were allowed to have a separate debate. Very few Members attended, and the noble Lord joined in increasing the majority against them. It might have occurred to the

minds of these gentlemen, that this was a disadvantageous position to leave the Corn Laws in, and they had determined no longer to march in the rear of the noble Lord while waging his own battle. This being the case, a difficulty might be felt how to unite the body, which was so divided in its opinion as to what ought to follow the repeal of the Corn Laws; and he thought that it must have been clear that the movement in favour of the fixed duty could not be repeated. (Cheers and laughter.) But then it was said, that the motion was for an inquiry into the subject of the distress; and there was something so satisfactory in its first aspect, that though it did not pledge anybody to anything, yet at the same time it testified the interest Parliament took in the condition of the people. The difference between Government and their antagonists was not really so great as the Opposition made out, but was one of degree only: “The question raised by the noble Lord, it was manifest, was by no means whether restrictions should be altogether removed, for there the noble Lord and his right honourable Friend at the head of the Government were agreed in the negative; it was not whether restrictions ought to be judiciously relaxed, for there the noble Lord and his right honourable Friend were agreed in the affirmative; and he must say, that although much had been proclaimed concerning the doctrines of Free Trade put forth by his right honourable Friend, he was not struck with the novelty of those doctrines in the mouth of his right honourable Friend, because it appeared to him in the abstract to be indisputable that the policy of this country had been founded on the recognition of the validity of those doctrines; the whole question between the two sides of the House being, not merely whether there should be a judicious relaxation, but in what degree would the country bear the application of those principles. The noble Lord and honourable Gentlemen opposite did not wish to displace labour at home by the employment of labour abroad, but so to dispose the legislative measures of this country as to obtain a great augmentation to the demand for British productions, and thereby not only to maintain labour at home, but at the same time to increase the commerce abroad. His right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury intended and designed precisely to pursue that course, and to attain that object by increasing the employment of the People, by cheapening the prices of the articles of consumption, as also the materials of industry, by encouraging the means of exchange with foreign nations, and thereby encouraging in return an extension of the export trade; but, besides all this, if he understood the measure of the Government last year, it was proposed that the relaxation should practically be so limited as to cause no violent shock to existing industrial interests, such as would have the tendency of displacing that labour which was now employed, and which, if displaced, would be unable to find another field. As far as present experience had gone, he did not think any person would maintain that the proposition of last year had produced a great shock upon any commercial

industry, or had displaced English labour. One great object of the measures of last year was to give a stimulus to trade, symptoms of which already appeared, and could be proved by figures; and Mr. Gladstone cited examples of this progress in the timber trade, showing increased consumption, at better profit to the dealer, in various articles which he specified. Suppose, however, that Lord Howick were to gain his Committee, and the Corn Law were to be repealed, by what measure would it be followed, with the variety of opinions among Opposition Members ? Lord John Russell's fixed duty had met with sorry treatment from Members behind him; Lord Palmerston advocated a mere revenue duty; Mr. Cobden argued against such a duty, that an equivalent impost must be laid on home corn. If asked, why deal in corn on a different principle from that of dealing with other commodities, Mr. Gladstone had a j good temporary answer; he replied, because it had been so dealt with for centuries, and enormous investments had been made under the faith of such a principle. He still adhered to the opinion which Lord Howick had quoted, respecting the importation of 50,000 oxen, that exports would be increased in a corresponding degree on the relaxation of restrictions on imports; but the application of such a proposition must be carefully watched: It was a principle which might be very safe with reference to the importation of 50,000 head of cattle (for that would not produce the displacement of British labour); in such a case it might be well to trust to the operation of

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