« AnteriorContinua »
ence in their domestic finances. Did man who lifted his unhallowed hand the noble lord seriously mean to be against it! The noble lord had cerunderstood that the sum of 10001. tainly made a very dexterous speech would make all the difference between -it
all his wonted circuitpractical allegiance and open rebel- ous ingenuity, and the result must lion in Scotland ? He had
have satisfied the House, that if his spect for commissioners and their re- health had recently suffered, his inports ; but he could not help remark- tellects and abilities were as great as ing, that if their suggestions were
The Lord Advocate had come held conclusive and mandatory-if down to the House like a true Scotchthey were to be erected into judges man, that was, like an honest man, in supreme, without appeal—it would and had maintained that nothing could throw the whole organization and ad- induce him to think the appointment ministration of the
country into irre- of a fifth Baron wrong-five was the mediable confusion.
true, orthodox, infallible number in Mr Tierney made an animated Scotland ; and that no change was speech against ministers, and endea- wanted, and no inquiry to produce voured to ridicule the shifts to which
But what was the conduct of they had recourse in opposing all the noble lord ? First, he makes the economical reform. If a proposition appointment—then he justifies itwere brought forward for some ge- and, thirdy, he requires a committee neral financial reform, then the cry to ascertain whether it was right or of the other side was, that the whole wrong. But, looking at the whole of fabric of the state was about to be the circumstances, he would askoverset ; and if a particular practical could any man say that this was not retrenchment were suggested, the cry a plain, downright, unequivocal job? was, “What a fuss you are making The fact was, ministers dared not reabout nothing—what a noise about fuse the appointment of Sir Patrick one or two thousand pounds !” In Murray: he did not intend by any fact, if ministers were credited, they means to disparage the qualifications were the only proper judges of what of that gentleman, but the ministers public money should be spent, and were afraid to refuse his appointment. who ought to spend it. It was im- They well knew that if they had done possible for them to be economical so, they would have lost some votes - they were obliged to call in the aid in that House. The present Chiefof patronage and influence for their Baron of Scotland (Sir S. Shepherd) support—they existed upon it—it was had lately been an ornament to that the foundation of all their hopes, and House. He went down, not fully they could not lose even the fifth part acquainted with the practice of the of a fifth Baron of the Exchequer, Scottish courts-a stranger amongst without some risk to their stability. them-and it might have been said, The establishment was the strong-hold “ Don't you think we ought to have behind which ministers entrenched five Barons instead of four?” to which themselves. If any body spoke of re- he, in his good nature, would say, moving the third Secretary of State, “ In the name of God, let us have or of abolishing the Secretary at War, five ;" and then the Scotchmen cried the cry was the same—“it breaks in out, “ Five for ever!" Considering upon the establishment:" it was soon how favourite a number five appearvery easy to call the establishmented to be in Scotland, and what infi. the constitution, and then woe to the nite mischiefs might result from reducing it to four, it was somewhat proposition into rejecting the present odd that the Lord Advocate should motion, they would put an end to all have consulted the opinions of only hope of economy and retrenchment. four heads of courts. With still greater After a few words from Mr W. singularity he had actually appealed Dundas on the ministerial side, the from the magic and mysterious five House divided, when the motion was to dangerous and neglected four, and negatived, but by a majority so small, now set up the opinion of four judges as plainly shewed a strong sense unagainst the decision of five commis- favourable to the appointment. Of sioners! In short, Mr T. contended, 366 members present, 177 voted for that the present appointment was a the motion, and 189 against it, makmanifest abuse; and that if the House ing a majority only of 12. were entrapped by Lord Castlereagh's
Mr Holme Sumner's Motion relative to Agricultural Distress.—Lord Lansdowne's Motion relative to Foreign Trade.-Other Debates on this Subject. -Motion for Disfranchising Grampound.—The slien Bill.—Mr Brougham on the Education of the Poor.-Welsh Judicature.
The subject which, beyond per- kets, the seasons, and over nature ithaps any other, occupied the atten- self. It did not appear very conceition of Parliament during this early vable that a power which could make period of the session, was the very war and peace on earth, and could serious distress in which the agricul- sway the destinies of twenty millions tural interest was involved. The great of men, should not be able to regulate depression consequent upon the low the price of a peck of oatmeal, or a prices of 1814 and 1815 had been pound of butter. It was some time, sensibly mitigated by the rise which indeed, ere Parliament itself became ensued after the scanty crops of 1816 fully aware of its own impotence, or and 1817. The plentiful produce of could believe that all its ponderous 1818, however, caused a rapid fall, machinery of committees, examinaand though that of 1819 was much tions, and reports, had no action whatinferior, yet the ample stock on hand ever on the movements of the econocaused the depression of prices still mical machine. By welcoming and to continue, when there was no su- acting upon the applications made to perabundant quantity to compensate it, this assembly encouraged the false for it. A general cry of distress rose expectations which the nation had among the landlords and farmers in been led to cherish from its interfethe different quarters of the kingdom, rence. Buoyed up by these, the farmand petitions to Parliament for relief ers now came, and demanded that were poured in. There is a sort of Parliament should procure for them a impression throughout this country, price for their grain, such as would as if parliament were omnipotent--as pay
of cultivation. The if its empire extended over the mar- fact, however, was, that Parliament bad already done all which legislative hostile to the merchant or the manuenactment could do. In excluding facturer, or any wish to obtain a moforeign grain when wheat was under nopoly for the agriculturist. He only 80s. a quarter, it secured to the farm- argued, that the House having in 1815 er all the monopoly which the na- taken the petitions of the agricultution would possibly submit to. Under rists into consideration, resolved that the experienced failure of this provi- some protection should be afforded sion, however, the views of the agri- them; and the committee appointed culturists had taken a different turn. to inquire into the subject reported, The general call was now for a high that, unless a remunerating price of permanent duty, to be levied equally, 80s. per quarter of wheat were secuwhatever the price of grain might be. red to the farmer, it would be imposProhibition had failed, and permanent sible for him to go on. Now, the duty being something different, had prayer of the petitions at present beat least no positive experience against fore the House, with the language of it. It does not seem to possess any which honourable members were sufother recommendation. A complete ficiently acquainted, was, that the peprohibition, so long as it operated, titioners should have such a remunerawas certainly a more powerful instru- ting price as would enable them to ment than any duty could be; and carry on their trade : they did not ask when the price rose to a great height, more at present than the House had it was easy to foresee, that no nation formerly acknowledged that they were whatever, least of all this nation, entitled to ; but they shewed that the would long bear a high duty on its provision which had been made for import. These considerations not- their protection in 1815 was totally withstanding, it was understood that inadequate to the purpose for which the heads of the agricultural interest it had been intended. Nobody, he were determined to make a push for maintained, could be more loyal than the adoption of this new system. They the agriculturists, and no complaints did not, however, advance to support could be more free from any taint of it with open front, but judged it pru- discontent at the burdens which had dent to make their approach by the been brought upon them by the late slow and circuitous process of a com- arduous struggle. They were grateful mittee.
for the security of liberty and properDuring the early part of the ses- ty which they enjoyed in consequence sion, several desultory conversations of it. It was obvious, however, that took place at the presentation of the agriculture was in a state of rapid desuccessive crowds of petitions; but it cline since 1814, and that it was fallwas not till the 3d of May that the ing off more rapidly than ever. subject was regularly, and on a great honourable gentleman, whose opiscale, brought before the house. Mr nions on the subject of political ecoWestern was the individual under nomy had great weight, had said, that whose auspices it was understood to if it could be shewn that the agriculbe peculiarly brought forward ; but turists bore a greater proportion of as he then laboured under indisposi- any public burdens, such as poortion, Mr Holme Sumner, a highly re- rates, than other classes of the comspectable landed proprietor, and a munity bore, Parliament should afford moderate supporter of ministers, un- them assistance. Now, could the hodertook the task of introducing it. nourable gentleman doubt that there He began with denying ary feelings were burdens on the agriculturists
from which other classes were ex- Mr Robinson, the member of adempted? What would the honourable ministration under whose superintengentleman say to the weight of the dance the concerns of trade, and parwhole church establishment, which ticularly of the corn trade, were pewas borne exclusively by the landed culiarly placed, rose to express the interest to the whole county ex- sentiments of himself and his colpense, to the whole expense of all the leagues. Among the various subjects highways in the kingdom, except that to which the attention of Parliament of the turnpikes ? It was impossible was directed, none required to be that the agriculturists of a country so treated with more reserve and caution, situated could, without the assistance and, he would add, with less frequenof some restrictive measures, compete cy, than the question which his howith foreign markets, when corn from nourable friend had this night subthe Black Sea could be brought into mitted to the House. The discussion our ports at half the price at which of all topics connected with the subour own farmers could afford to sell it. sistence of the people gave rise to so Some persons might say, "since grain much apprehension, that in all coun. can be procured from foreign coun- tries the agitation of these subjects
ies at half the price, why grow any was thought to involve great danger. here ?" If this principle were admit- He regretted, therefore, to find the ted, it was clear that the agriculturist question of the corn-laws introduced must withdraw his capital ; and the at present. When it was mentioned consequence would be, that Great Jast session, ministers had unequivoBritain must be rendered wholly de- cally declared their disapprobation of pendent on foreign productions : one any change in the existing law. Adof the most beautiful countries in the mitting that there certainly existed disworld would thus be converted into a tress, he yet conceived it to have been perfect desert, and thrown into a state a good deal exaggerated. He did not of dependence on foreign imports for see the usual symptoms of general agthe necessaries of life. The agricul- ricultural distress ; he did not see teturists pledged themselves to prove, nants leaving their farms ; he did not that the bill of 1815 had left them see individuals taking them on specunearly as unprotected as if it had ne- lation as they became vacant; he did ver passed. In striking the average, not see the poor-rates increasing. a system of fraud and falsehood had The depression appeared to him to been practised, by which the interests arise simply in consequence of the of the agriculturists had suffered most change from a state of war, the cirmaterially ; for, since the year 1815, cumstances of which had afforded enthe English grower had not received couragement to the cultivation of inan average price of 72s. The honour- ferior lands, such as could be renderable gentleman declined mentioning ed productive only at an expense any specific measure; at the same time, which prices in time of peace could he gave it to be understood, that the no longer pay. The law of 1815 was success of the present application said to be ineffectual, because it did would be followed up by a request to not produce to the farmer a constant adopt some such measure for their price of 80s. for his corn. It was said relief.
at the time, by some honourable genMr Gooch, in seconding the motion tlemen, that if the bill were brought of Mr Sumner, went over very nearly in, then 80s. would be the minimum ; the same ground.
but he had contended, on the con