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down. Dat, however strong liis conviction was of the impropriety of the principle on which this measure was to be founded, he thouglit the application of such a numerous, and deserving class of individuals merited every attention ; and perhaps in discussing the remedy which had been proposed by the honourable gentleman, one less objectionable might be discovered,
Lord Milton joined in opposing the bill, which had a direct tendency to ruin the manufactures, and to increase the distresses of those cinployed in them. For these elistresses he felt as much as any man, but he thought the house ought to be extremely cautious in raising hopes which must infallibly end in disappointment, The inevitable consequence of the present measure, if carried into effect, would be, that the manufacturer would discharge a number of his workmen, by which they would be reduced to complete misery.
Sir Robert Peele disapproved highly of the principle of the measure, and he was anxious to make it known, that this disapprobation was founded upon a true regard to the interest of the work-people themselves. The great cause of the distress at present felt, was not the oppression of masters, but the shutting up of the foreign markets, and the fact was, that masters were now suffering from this cause still more than the men. As to what the honourable gentleman had said respecting this application being coun. tenanced by the masters, he was sure, if this was the case at all, it was only in a very limited degree, and that if the prezent measure was persevered in, they would soon bave the cotton manufacturers at the bar craving the protection of the house. He ho; ed therefore, that they would not permit the bill to be brought in from any sentiments of false compassion towards the men, for the inevitable result would be, that a great number of those whom they wished to relieve, wouli be discharged by their masters and ihrown upon the parishes.
Mr. Thomson said, that before fixing the minimum of vages, the honourable gentleman who moved for leave to bring in the bill, ought to equalize the abilitics of the workman.
Mr. kore explained, that it was his intention to bave fixes the mininun of wages not for the tiine but the quan, tity of work done. lle repeated, that he had been in. duced to propose the measure, not from a conviction of its propriety, but in compliance with the wishes of the cotton weavers, backed with the consent of their cmployers.
Mr. Tierney professed, that he would be as happy as any man, if some relief conld be granted in a proper way to the persons employed in the cotton manufacture, but he never could accede to a measure which weit to fix the minimum of wages.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer entirely agreed with those who thought ihat the house should manifest a dispo'sition, which he was sure was universally felt, to accele, as far as a sense of duty would permit them, to the wishes of that numerous and respectable class of individuals whom his honourable friend was anxious to relieve. le did not think that the present measure would be proiluetive of advantage. The principle of the bill, which went to fix the minimum of wages, carried into operation, could do no good, and it might do a great deal of harm. It would not have the effect of at all increasing the quantity of work, and it would diminish the number of persons employed in it, because only the best workinen would be retained. At the same time be was of opinion, that it was better that the cotton weavers should be disappointed after a discussion of the merits of their application in the house of commons, than by a refusal of his honourable friend to submit it for consideration. This discussion the application had now undergonc, and he hoped that those who made it would be convinced, that it failed not froin any indifference to their sufferings, or any indisposition to relieve them; but from a persuasion that, by granting the object which they sought to obtain, they coulil do 110 good, and might do much harm.
Mr. Rose said, that after the manner in which the pro: prosition had been received, he should not press it upon ile house.
MÍr. Baring expressed his satisfaction that the motion was withdrawn; but he could not omit this opportunity of stating his opinion, that the distress complained of arosé from the suspension of foreign trade, which had taken place in consequence of the orders of council.
Mr. Lascelles observed, that had the honourable gentle. man persisted in his measure for fixing the minimum of wages, there was no reason why the maximum also should not have been fixed. He reminded the honourable gentleman of the observation of a celebrated writer on political economy, “ that lommerce in this country had conti. nued to prosper, notwithstanding the existence of a board of trade," and recommended it to him to allow it to take its own course.
SEGAR DISTILLATION. Lord Binning rosc pursuant to the notice he had given some time aço, to make a motion on the subject of the distilleries. Previous to moving that the house should go into a committee, he would explain the nature of the resolutions be meant to offer in that committee, and the nature and causes of the changes made in those resolutions since he had first announced them. The topics involved in the report were important and momentons, and the highest authorities differed amoug themselves upon the principal points. The commitice was appointed in the first instance to consider of the means of affording relief to the West India proprietors and merchants; and the order under which the committee assembled, directed the committee to inquire, whether the most immediate and effectual means of relief would not be, to confine the distilleries to the use of sugar and molasses alone. In the course of this inquiry, it became necessary to ascertain how far the agriculture of the country would be affected by such a restriction; and this investigation led to the knowledge of facts which established the wisdom and necessity of the restriction ; exclusive of all consideration whatsoever of the interests of the West India islands. It was impossible to separate the two questions; but this he would say, that neither he nor the committee would have recommended the resolutions they had done, if the interests of the country, distinct from tliose of the West India proprietors, had not, in the opinion of the committee, rendered sucli measures necessary. The committee finding that this country was generally dependant for a sufficient supply of corn and four upon foreign countries, and that this supply was cut off in the present state of Europe, without any prospect of a sufficient resource in the last year'scropofthis country, thought it right as a precaution against famine to stop the distillation from corn, with a view to a more ample and satisfactory supply of sustenance for the people. llere the noble lord went into a statement of the quantity of corn imported into Britain annually, and contended, that the saving by the prohibition of the distilleries, would be 470,000 quarters, which would cover more than half the
deficiency created by the stoppage of importation, and more than the whole importation of oats. Under these circumstances it seemed right to suspend the distillation from corn, with a discretionary power to the privy council, to extend or to put an end to the restriction as circumstances may require. This was the substance of the Tesolutions of the committee ; resolutions which they never would have come to on account of the West India mer. chants, if the circumstances of the times had not rendered them necessary with a view to the general interests of the country. He argued on the principle, that the distress of one class of the community ought not to be remedied by burthening another class. But he denied the application of the principle in the present instance. The sufferings of the West India merchants were great ; but the relief here proposed went directly to remedy the distress present or eventual of the country, and relieved the distress of the West India proprietors only collaterally. Great Britain imported annually on an average seven hundred and seventy thousand quarters of grain from foreign countries. From some of these countries importation was now impossible. From America, in consequence of the embargo, corn could not now be received, and there was no prospect of the impediment being speedily removed. The supply of last harvest was not sufficiently abundant to have a surplus fund that may be relied on. The stock on hand was far short of the probable demand. In the sonth of England the crop was abundant, in other paris it was not. The erop of wheat was in general good, the crop of barley was short, and that of pulse good for nothing. Here the noble lord cited the evidence of the witnesses before the conmittee, beginning with Mr. Arthur Young, in order to establish that the general crop of last year was short, and the supply in the country insuflicient. The stoppage of distillation from grain would be adequate to the importation of 470,000 quarters. In the present circumstances it seemed essential to divert so large a supply from luxury to necessity. It was objecied to the measure, that it laid down a bad precedent, tending to encourage the perpetual interference of parliainent in such cases. But ihe circumstances of the present case were peculiar, and unless the same identical circumstances existed, the precedent could not apply. It was said the You. III.--1809.
quantity of grain to be sown next year would be dimi. nished by the stoppage. But the quantity to be sown depended on the prices, and the present prices were far from being low. Instead of falling, they had risen since the present measure had been announced. Here the noble lord cited accounts of prices sent to him, which shewed a continued rise in the price of corn in the last two weeks. In Scotland in particular, the accounts stated that the distillers had determined to stop whether there was a provision to that effect or not. If the business could have been conveniently gone into last night, he was prepared to offer a resolution for restricting distillation from corn for twelve months from July 1, 1808 ; with. permission to the king in council to do a way that restriction whenever an abundant crop should render it advisable or safo so to do. Understanding however that a number of the most formidable opponents of she measure may be conci. liated by delay and representation, and that substantial good may be done with less difficulty by affording the means of private arrangement, he had put off his motion till this day. This was the sole cause of the delay, which was entirely distinct from ministerial motives. The object of attaining the same good with vnanimity, was with him most important. He had herefore made the adjourne ment from yesterday, and he had also made some changes in the resolucions he intended to propose, which he had reason 10 think would render them more generally acceptable. It had been objected by the Irish gentlemen, that the report of the committee, by proposing to prohibit the im. portation of Irish spirits into England, went to a violation of the articles of Union. As nothing could be further from his wish, and the wish of every gentleman of the committee and of the bonse, than to interfere with this compact in the slightest degree, this prohibition was to be now omitted. The first resolution be meant now to propose, was that after the 1st of July, and thence to the list of October next, all distillation from corn, grain, flour, meal, rotators, and bran, should cease throughout the United Kingdom ; and secondly, that it should be lawful for bis majesty in council, after the 1st September, to contine the res ric ion till forty days after the commencement of the next session of parliament. Thus, if the ensuing harvest should be a good one, the restriction. may expire at once : if it should not, his-