the natural laws of exchange be-
tween man and man; but it did
not follow that the law on which
the masses of the labour of the
country were dependent should be
abandoned. Let them honestly
ask themselves this question—
whether or no they were in a con-
dition to repeal the Corn Law
without the displacement of a vast
mass of labour *
Mr. Gladstone explained his use
of the word “temporary.” Though
he had used the epithet “tempo-
rary” with reference to one protec-
tive law, it was an epithet which
would apply to every commercial
law. There was no commercial law
that must not be regarded as tem-
porary. Since 1765, they had had
twenty-five corn laws. He did not
know why that which had been
mutable heretofore was all of a
sudden to become permanent.
(Loud cheering from the Opposi-
tion Benches.) The form of corn-
law had been changed from time
to time, and regulated according
to the circumstances of the coun-
try and the necessities of British
labour and capital. The principle
had been permanent; and that
principle he was not prepared to
abandon whilst the principle of pro-
tection was applied to other arti-
cles of commerce.
He denied that the maintenance
of Corn Laws was a question of
rent; for however rents might be
reduced, the redundancy of labour
would make the pressure be felt
less by the landlords than by the
labourers. He was ready to ad-
mit the arguments used on the
other side to a certain point. If
a change in the Corn-law were
to take place, and if that change
were to produce an increased ini-
portation of foreign corn, and if
that importation of foreign corn

were to be paid for in British goods
he thought it would be taking a
most short and false view of the
interests of British agriculture to
view that importation of foreign
corn, as so much displacement of
British agricultural commerce.
(Loud cries of Hear!” from
the Opposition Benches.) Why,
the first effect would be that it
might reduce prices; but un-
doubtedly it would give a demand
for the labour of those now unem-
ployed, and thereby create a new
class of producers, and raise the
wages of those who now had low
wages, and thereby enable them
to consume more largely. More
wheat, he doubted not, would be
consumed in a state of comfort
than in a state of poverty; and
even if more wheat were not con-
sumed than the amount of wheat
received by foreign importa-
tions, no doubt there would be a
further increase of and demand for
other articles of agricultural com-
merce. He had not the least he-
sitation in admitting that; and
that admission, he thought, might
save a great deal of time in that
House—it was a proposition which
could not be disputed. But he
would not admit the assumption
involved in the proposition; the
question was, were they without
knowledge, upon speculation, to
assume that increase of trade which
Lord Howick presumed but which
he had not endeavoured to demon-
strate. That increase of trade
might be indefinitely distant.Were
they, without increasing the means
of employing the population, so to
encourage the import of foreign
corn as to displace the British
labour now employed in agricul-
ture ? Were they to pursue such
a course without having taken
those measures which would se-

cure the prospect of those results
by which alone such a change in
the law could be rendered advisa-
able 2 How were we circumstanced
with regard to foreign countries
The three countries from which
we chiefly derived corn were Rus-
sia, including Russian Poland,
Germany, and America. What
were our circumstances as re-
spected those countries with re-
gard to the exportation of our
goods P What tariffs had been
imposed in those countries 2 and
what effect had those tariffs had
on the exportation of British
He showed the working of fo-
reign duties in neutralising the
benefit of greater cheapness of im-
ported commodities as compared
with those produced at home. “The
complaint of the manufacturer of
this country against the Corn-law
was this, that he got from the
British farmer a smaller return for
his manufactured goods than he
would obtain from the foreign far-
mer. Suppose that corn were one-
fifth dearer in England than
America, he (the manufacturer)
said, “I give 100, and only get
back 80.” He valued at 20
the tax paid for protection to the
British agriculturist. He did not
take into consideration the manner
in which the general standard of
prices was affected by the protec-
tive duties of the Tariff; but he
contended that he paid that amount
as a tax to the British landlord.
Suppose that to be true—grant
the allegation, and suppose he sent
his 100l. worth of goods to Ame-
rica, upon which in England he
only #". 80l., when he got there he
found he must pay 40l. as a tax
to the American Government. The
present Tariff of America levied
a tax of 40 per cent. ad valorem.

What better was the British ma-
nufacturer, if he escaped paying
20 per cent. to British agriculture,
and had to pay 40 per cent. to the
American Government 2
It might be said that we ought
to teach foreign countries the true
principles of trade; but the recent
augmentation of the French duty
on linen yarns, of the German
duty on the goods of mixed woollen
and cotton, and the American
Tariff, showed how little disposed
foreign countries were to follow
our example. He believed that
there was no one country on the
face of the globe to which the
changes of the last year in our Ta-
riff had been so extensively valua-
ble as they had been to the com-
merce of America. Summing up his
arguments, Mr. Gladstone observed
that Lord Howick might have
spared himself the trouble of ad-
vancing abstract principles where
the real question was one of time
and degree. “That view had been
recognised in this country for the
last twenty-five years by every
Government which had successively
held office ; there was no one who
had held office during that period
who had not introduced measures
in the nature of relaxations of our
commercial code. But he must say
that the Government to which right
hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords
opposite had belonged was, of all
others most slack in introducing
such measures until the memo-
rable year 1841.”
Mr. Labouchere supported the
motion. Sir Robert Peel had pro-
mised that the operation of the
Tariff would enable people to meet
the Income-tax by lowering prices.
Now Mr. Gladstone told them
that it had not lowered prices in
any assignable degree. He pro-
tested against the “temporary”
tion, with details of progressively increasing distress in Sheffield since 1836, when there was not an able bodied man of decent character out of work. To many statistical proofs of the distress of the usual kind he added one which was partly new. Of the silverplaters and saw-makers who had been formerly in employment, not one-fifth could now find work, and many of these only for a few days a week. An informant wrote to him, “These two trades are generally supplied by the sons of respectable families from the country districts, well educated, and who give premiums with them. Of fifteen young men who have just served their time, three are partially emo four are upon the parish, and eight have returned to their parents or friends. Of fifty-one who have come of age in the last two years, only seven are partially employed; the rest are living either upon the parish or their friends. There are ten other trades still supporting their own poor; 1,000 families, averaging four in each, subsisting upon ls, 3d per week per head.” Mr. Gladstone had spoken of the illiberality of the American Tariff, which fixed duties of 30 to 40 per cent. upon British products; but he forgot that the duty in this country upon American corn is about 90 per cent. Mr. D'Israeli apprehended the question before the House to be, whether it was advisable by any sudden and extraordinary means to extend the commerce of the country, as a remedy for the existing distress; he considered the present one of those temporary periods of depression common to all commercial countries, and that their proper course was, to proceed Vol. LXXXV.

with courage and patience, taking care that property should contribute to alleviate suffering. No improvement could be expected from altering the Tariff or Cornlaws. Mr. Ross declared the opinion at Belfast to be in favour of a fixed duty on corn, say 8s., declining ls, every year. Dr. Bowring resumed the debate on the 15th, and drew attention to the state of Bolton, which, he said had grown even worse than it was the preceding year. Among individual instances that he mentioned, was that of an engineer, who had been out of work for nine months, and in that time had travelled 1,100 miles in search of employment, during a great part of the time in a state bordering on starvation. He mentioned another man, who had only butter-milk and bread for his family's dinner, and said that he had been driven mad by misery. Dr. Bowring added, that the cases he had mentioned were isolated instances, but “that numbers of men were daily reduced to misery by the operation of those laws.” There had been a decrease of 3,700l. a week paid for wages in twelve trades in Bolton, equal to 185,000l. a year. To these statistical details, Dr. Bowring added an appeal to the apprehensions of the House—“Let the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government but give way to his own convictions, assert his own principles, follow out his own enlarged views, and dare to practise what he plainly enough preached, and he would relieve the country from her present oppressors, and restore to prosperity those interests to which he owed the foundation of his own honourable elevation. He had no doubt that

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that measure, but of which neither of these causes seemed to afford an adequate solution, occasioned to the landed and farming interests almost equal grounds of discouragement and perplexity. The reality of that distress and privation among the working classes which report had made current, was confirmed by a test of unquestionable authority as regards the condition of the people: namely, by the diminished consumption of those articles which contribute in so large a proportion to the public revenue. The income of the country for the quarter ending Jan. 5, 1843, exhibited under the head of Excise a falling-off as compared with the corresponding quarter of 1842, of 717,262.l., equivalent to a yearly decrease in that department of 2,869,048l. In the Customs the decrease on the same period was 581,1851.; equivalent to 2,324,740l. ; in the Stamps, 56,763l, equivalent to 227,0521. ; in the Taxes, 23,8491, equivalent to 95,388l. The total decrease on these four branches being 1,379,057l., equal to a total yearly deficiency of 5,516,228l. : a result which afforded pregnant evidence of the reduced means and deteriorated condition of the bulk of the


The distress to which the foregoing statements bear testimony had unquestionably been borne with much patience by those on whom it so heavily weighed, but it was inevitable that during so long a continuance it must have engendered a restless and uneasy feeling in the public mind, and an undefined impression that some powerful and extensive remedies were required to restore the functions of society to a healthy and thriving state. As to the nature

of the particular remedies which were required, however, the state of public opinion was by no means definite or unanimous. While some assailed the Corn Laws as the root and source of all the derangements that prevailed in the social economy, others denounced the excess of trade and the reckless extension of manufacturing speculations as the elements of national ruin. Some threw the whole blame upon the Income Tax, and the other financial measures of Sir R. Peel's Government ; some accused the Poor Laws; others pointed to Emigration as the natural safetyvalve and outlet for the pressure of a too rapidly increasing population. The facts and arguments upon which the advocates of these differing theories based the views which they supported will be found detailed in the accounts which will presently be given of the interesting discussions in - Parliament on these subjects: it is enough here to state the general direction of the opinions prevailing upon public affairs at the commencement of this year, as having been concentrated in an especial manner upon that class of questions which has of late continually assumed a more prominent position in public affairs: those, namely, which relate to the internal condition, the physical comforts and resources of theindustrious classes, and the bearing upon their welfare of particular systems of commercial and fiscal economy. On the 2nd of February, the Session was opened by Commission. The Lords Commissioners were the Lord Chancellor, Lord Wharncliffe, the Duke of Buccleuch, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Earl of Shaftesbury. The Commission having been read by the

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