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those who supported this as a colonial measure, or with those who defended it on the score of existing or appreheded scarcity; bnt with a view to the great national interests which it was calculated to promote.
Mr. Ponsonby declared that he never had taken up the present as a party question; and had no communica tion upon the subject with those with whoin he was accustomed to act, out of the bouse of commons. He repeated what he had said on a former evening, that the resolutions were a virtual and effective violation of the articles of the Irish union. The right honourable gentleman (Mr. Rose) indeeil, seemed to hold this argument extremely cheap, when he said that these articles ought not to be violated merely upon the grounds of convenience. But Mr. Ponisonby contended that a sacred and solemn compact ought not to be violated in any circumstances, nor under any pretence whatever. He opposed the measure as a direct interference with the agricultural system of the country, which never ought to be done but in cases of extreme urgency. This interference would be attended with much mischief. The farmer bad three markets for his commodities; the first arising out of the demand of the people for food; the second was the brewery; and the third the distillery ; and if he was cut off from one of these markets, he would be induced in consequence to grow less corn. With respect to Ireland the measure was peculiarly unjust ; because one of the principal advantages which accrued to Ireland from the union was, having the British markets open to her agricultural produce. It was as unwise too as it was unjust; because, with a view to a possible scarcity, it was extremely important to avoid discouraging agricultural improvement in Ireland, from which we could derive supplies with much greater certainty than from any other country.
Nir. Hibbert said, that be bad heard nothing against the substance of the measure ; as all the objections pointed merely to some circunstances attending its introduce tion, or the manner in which it was supported. In 1807, an inquiry was instituted how far it might be expeclient to introduce the use of sugar and molasses into the distil. leries, expressly for the purpose of relieving the planters. The committee to which that inquiry was entrusted, immediately came to a resolution that there was no ground for the measure upon the appichension of a scarcity of corn, and that it was not one which they could recommend. This resolution was adopted by a committee in which there was a greater proportion of West Indian plant. ers than there was in the coinmittee which had been appointed in the present session. The object for which the last committee was appointed was a very different one; their commission was to inquire how far it might be proper to confine the distilleries to the use of sugar and inolasses. In conducting such an inquiry, which required great knowledge of calculation, and considerable information respecting the present state of the colonies, he put it to the house whether it would be proper to leave it to any twenty-one gentlemen of landed property who could have been named. He did not assert that there was an actual scarcity existing, but he allirmed, that some symptoms of a deficiency of corn were already apparent ; and if there was a deficiency, there was no way in which it could be better supplied than by the introduction of a substitute for the corn at present under the distilleries. The honourable gentleman next shewed the tendency which the measure would bare to relieve the planters, while it was liable to fewer objections than any other mode of relief which could be suggested. He should therefore yote for the speaker's leaving the chair.
Mr. Boyle (solicitor general of Scotland) admitted that it would be a most folish policy to relieve one set of men at the expence of another class of the community. When he considered, however, the facts stated in the report · upon the table, and what he knew of the state of the crop, particularly in Scotland, he thought it would be a measure of prudence to stop the distillation from grain, not merely from the beginning of July, as had been proposed by the noble lord, but if possible from the beginning of June. This opinion he had forined some months ago, altogether independant of the present situation of the West Indian planters. He should therefore betray the: duty he owed to the country, if he did not vore for the present measure.
Sir Henry Milimay professed to feel as deeply as any man for the present distress of the West Indian planters, and to be most anxious that some relief should be accorded to them. But this relief might be inuch better given by a deduction of the present duties on sugar, by a relaxation of the navigation act, or by advancing then
a sum of money, as bad been done in one instance before, He hoped, however, that in order to relieve the West Indian planters, the house would not consent to derange the whole of t'e existing agricultural system of the conne try. The landed interest, he said, already bore their lult proportion of the public burdens. The poor rates, the militia, &c. rested exclusively upon the land. The price of barley, he contenderl, had risen in consequence of the discussion of the measure ; because, ever since it was projected, the distilleries had been buying up all the barley they could find at any price, for the purpose of increasing their stock of spiri's. lie therefore hoped that the measure would be dropped.
Mr. Western reprobated the measure as one likely to be producive of greater, inischief ihan any that could be brought forward. It kept the public feelings during its discussion in a state of perpetuai azation. If a scarcity really existed, ministero had the means of collecting the best information on the subject, and ought to have applier the remedy by stopping the distilleries upon their own responsibility. In 1195, when the distilleries were stopped, wheat was at 9}s, a quarter, and barley at 42s., wbeat having afterwards risen to ]oss. and barley to 495. ; and in 1802, the suspension was taken off, when wlieat was at. 75s. and barly at 445,, a price con iverably biglier than they were at now, when it was proposed to rene'w tlie suspension. He believed that there was in the country a supply of corn amply sufficient to meet the demand. This be inferred from the actual market prices, which had been of late remarkably steadis. But if there were any apprehension of a scarciiy, we onght to be extending our breweries and distilleries, in order to encourage the growth of corn, iristead of probibiting those which now exisod from using corn, Neither the farmer . nor the landlord, he said!, wished to have extravagant prices: ali they wislied, was to have a free and unresíricted trade". This was all the encouragensent they asled or desired; and alrout four years ago he had bronglit in a bill to discourage the importation of foreign conii, wbich nirt with he decided support of Mr. Pitt, and the approbation of the house; and he congratulated himself on having introduced that bill, because he was convinced that, in consequence of this act, we were now better prce pared to meet the dificulties of our situation thai we
should otherwise bave been. With respect to the enemy, he asserted that it would be extremely unwise, by a measure of this sort, to hold out to him the bopes of being able to injure this country by cutting off our foreign supplies. But at the same time that he stated these objections to the measure, he should be most happy if some proper mode of relief could be devised for the West Indian planters.
The Chancellor of the Erchequer disclaimed the idea of interfering unnecessarily with agriculture. The only ques. tion in his mind was, whether the circumstances of the present time were such as to justify or call for such interference as that now proposed. He had not at any time given countenance to the idea of the existence of a scarcity ; but from the deficiency of the last barvest in Scotland, and the failure of the crops of potatoes and oats in Ireland, he held that we were in a state of imperfect supply. In this state of imperfect supply, and under the circumstances in which we stood with respect to other countries, be thought it right to retain and husband the supplies on hand, till such time as the ascertained produce of the present crop should remove every apprehension of the danger which he thought now to be guarded against. He knew of no instance of the distillation from corn having been stopped by proclamation ; but if the necessity should arise when parliament was not sitting, he should think the government very culpable if it did not take that power upon itself. That was a very different case, however, from that of a danger foreseen while parliament' was sitting, as likely to arise when parliament would not be sitting, The apprehensions of scarcity were entertained by many persons of great authority from different parts of the country. Among others, an honourable baronet opposite (sir John Sinclair) had communicated to him an alarm with respect to Scotland ; and another honourable meinber, now absent, the member for Norwich (Mr. l'in, Smith), had spoke with similar apprehension with respect to the county of Norfolk. He was, therefore, not a little surpriied at the course pursued by both those honourable gentlemen on the present question. Much of the objec. tions that were urged to the measure, was matter of lation as to the mode of carrying it into effeet, and was therefore adılitional ground for going into the coinmittee. He denied that the rise which had lately taken place in
the price of grain, had arisen from the agitation of this mcasare, or from his statements in the house. The sole cause of that risc was the ina:lequacy of the stock to the demand. It was impossible for government to take the measures that seemed necessary, otherwise than through parliaunent. To proceed by proclamation would have the effect of s: reading consternation throughout the country, ond the honourable gentleman opposite would have been loudest in complaint if that course had been pursued.
Mr.Whitbread reminded the house that the right honour. able gentleman who had just sat down, had not from the beginning to the end of his speech, said one word of granting relief to the West India planters. He had now raised the planters entirely out of sight, and recommended the mcasure on the ground of a scarcity which every one knew did not exist ; a scarcity which his majesty's chancellor of ile exchequer for Ireland denied to exist in that country, and which was denied to exist in Scotland by the president of the board of controul. But the right honourable gertleman's conduct now was analogous to what it had been when he into
Then he set up a cry about popery; and now he wished (or if he did not wish it, the effect of his speech now was) to set up a still more dangerous cry about scarcity. It was evident also, that upon this, as upon many other subjects, there was a great difference of opinion among his majesty's minisa ters. He observed that government had contributed very much to increase the distress of the West India planters, by foolishly taking possession of the Danish islands. He would willingly liave consented to go into a committee to consider of some means of granting relief to the West India planters, but he could not give the smallest counichance to the present micasure.
Mr. William Smith strongly protested against the adoption of this mesure, which was calculated to be materially prejudicial to the landed interest of the country, whilst at the same time it was in its very nature inadeqnate to the end proposed, that of affording any thing like substantial relief to the West Indir colonies and traders.
Mr. Wilberforce declared that he thought there was reason to congratulate the house on the prospect which it then had of affording cyen a temporary relief to the West India planters, and endeavoured to convince the house Fon.. 111.-1903.