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an advantage which the fortune of war had given them, and they ought, out of that advantage, to allow something to other subjects of the empire, on whose interests the war had produced an effect so injurious.
General Gascoyne had understood that the question had been postponed yesterday, with a view to some compromise, but what ihat was he was yet to learn, for he saw from the agricultural gentlemen nothing but the most: pointed opposition. But he should like to know by whom that compromise was madle, or who authorised it? The committee was no party to such a compromise, and the honourable member for Norfolk had shewn no inclination to come into the noble lord's proposition. But after all the delusion, and all the clamour that had been excited on this subject, it appeared, after all, from what ihe noble lord said, that the question was to be discussed without reference to the relief of the sugar planters! What had the committee been appoiuted for, but to consider of a mode of affording them relief? And was he now to abstain from stating their distresses? The advocates of the high price of provisions refused any relief to the planters till a scarcity should take place, when they would humanely permit them to share the profits they derived from the distress of the country. If the planters were to be relieved only by the calamity of the country, he wished they might be long without relief. It had been said that the colonies were well represented in parliament. How did that appear? There never was any objection to profit by the high duties imposed on their produce. They were valuable as a subject of taxation; but when they became a subject of legislation, then they were degraded as well as injured, as in the instance of the bill that passed two years ago. After stating the impossibility that the colonies could keep up the competition in the foreign market with the Americans, who supplied the enemy with the sugar of their own colonies, the honourable general adverted to the opinion of the representative of the county of Norfolk, that the sitting of the committee had raised the.. price of grain. He affirmed, on the contrary, that had it not been for the sitting of the committee, the price would have been double (a laugh); he meant of course, that the rise would have been double. The distress of the colonies was not only severe, but urgent, and the admission of grain
into the distilleries was the only mode of early relief, and if this was denied at the end of the session, all the previous proceedings could only be considered as a rub thrown out to amuse the planters. The general argument of the
landbolders was, that they did not wish for importation : that might be their advantage; but when the labourer was in many places in such distress for bread, be should suppose that humanity alone might induce them to allow the deficiency of importation to be thus far supplied. Their motives, however, might be pure, while a regard to their interest prevented their being sensible of the real merits of the question. But the planters were told to look for. ward to a stoppage of the distilleries from the 1st of July to the 1st of October. Why, the distilleries never worked at that time. But was it purposed to admit sugar into them at that period ? (Lord B. answered,") Why then, if ihe noble lord said so, it was not so understood (a laugh); at all events, it was better to prevent a scarcity, than to relieve it when it came. It ought to be met by anticipation, and this measure would answer that purpose. The honour. able representative of Norfolk had dwelt upon the great improvement of agriculture, which had doubled within a certain time. Yet writers, Mr. Young, Mr. Wakefield, and others, had spread an alarm of scarcity, and recoms mended inclosures. But inclosures would not remedy an immediate scarcity. This could only be done by employ. ing a substitute for grain. Some of the advocates of the high price of provisions contended, that a scarce year was sometimes a great good, as it would be attended with a permanent benefit (coughing). Coughing should not prevent his going on. He contended that the relief of the colonies, instead of being left out of the question, ought to be the most prominent object, and this was the least, objectionable mode in which the relief could be afford. ed. If they asked for a loan of five millions it would be refused them ; but they did not ask this; they only requested relief in the most moderate way. While Buona. parte was anxiously looking for colonies and cainierce, and supplying the merchants of Bourdeaux with money, among us,.whose strength and resources depended so much on comn:erce, books were published to prove that com. merce was of no benefit. He concluded by observing, that the West India planters, considering their situation, bad VOL, III. 1808,
been remarkably moderate in their claims for relief, and immediate relief ought at length to be given.
Mr. Chute did not intend, when he came into the house, to have said any thing, but had resolved to leave the discussion to those who could do the subject so much more justice. But he could not avoid taking notice of the aspersions which had been cast on the country gentlemen by the general under the gallery, a thing the less to be sure prised at as coming from an avowed advocate of the slave trade. The opposition to this measure, be observed, was founded on, the clearest and most solid principles, and he most conscientiously joined in it. Trade might suffer for a time, without any great loss to the community, or affecting in a material degree the general interests. But it was for otherwise with agriculture ; when that was injured the whole country must be injured with it. Nothing, therefore, ought to come into competition with this grand national object. This measure, if passed, would derange the agricultural system, and change the whole method of cropping. The agricultural interests ought not surely to pay for the speculations of the colonists. On these grounds he would oppose the measure. With respect to the im pu'ations of the general under the gallery, he would leave it to others to give him a detailed answer.
Mr. J. Fitzgerald would not advert to the compro. mise, by which ihe interests of Ireland alone were sacri. ficed. The noble Jord bad by this means weakened the advocates for the suspension of the distilleries, without gaining the o bers, as ofien happened in such cases. He would consider the case on the evidence in the report, wlure it was recommended not to extend the measure to Ireland ; and yet the noble lord, by his resolutions, pro. posed to apply it to the whole of the United Kingdom. Many, he said, were not aware to what extent the resolutions would go. It was to one paragraph in the report that he wished particularly to call the attention of the house. He then read the paragraph that stated the reasons for not applying the measure to Ireland ; and observed that in this the committee were unanimous, and yet the noble lord came forward and proposed, that the measure should extend to Ireland, without mentioning any ground for this alteration. Greatly as he had been astonished at that part of the report which was directly in opposition to the articles of the union, by recommending
the restriction of the intercourse in spirits, he was as much surprised at the proposition of the noble lord. Though gentlemen had been almost put to the torture in order to extract evidence froin them that the measure might be applied to Ireland, yet the result was against it. He would oppose the speaker's leaving the chair ; and if the house should go into the committee, he would propose to exclude Ireland from the operation of this measure ; and be hoped to find that Ireland was represented in that house as well as Great Britain.
The Chancellor of the Erchequer observed, that gentlemen had alluded to a compromise : he was not aware of any such compromise, nor had his noble friend, as far as he understood him, affirmed that any had taken place. If there has been any compromise, and any discredit attached to it, the honourable general had certainly shewn that he was no party to it, and that none of the discredit would rest with him. He understood his noble friend to have said, that he had postponed the resolu'ions on the former day, from an idea, arising from the nature of the objections, that a trial ought to be made whether the propositions might not be so framed as to conciliate genilemen on both sides. But he certainly had no recoilece tion that his noble friend pretended that he could con. promise the matter, nor had he any authority to do so. The honourable general under the gallery had charged his noble friend with having left the distress of the sugar planters out of the question, though the committee had been expressly appointed to devise a plan for their relief. He did not think that his noble fried had departed from the character or spirit of the report, for the measure was there recommended only with a view to the diminished supply of corn, and a power was accordingly recommended to be vested in the crown, to stop the suspension when the continuance of it should be inconvenient or inju. rious to the agricultural interests, and not desirable with a view to prevent a scarcity of food. If his noble friend then felt that a notion prevailed, that his design was to remunerate the sugar planters, and to sacrifice the landed to the West Indian interest, was it not expedient that the thing should be placed on its true ground; and that it should be stated, that, independant of the West Indian interest, there were good reasons for the adoption of such
a meaşure ? That was his view of the subject, and the view of his noble friend, who had kept strictly to the spi, rit of the report. The honourable general was, however, indignant at the delay, and said, ihat from the 1st of July to the 1st of October, the distilleries would be stopped at any rate. But his noble friend here again had only followed the spirit of the committee's recommendation; for the committee had proposed, that the suspension should commence from the 1st of July, and continue till July the following year, still leaving a discretionary power with the crown. The proposition of his noble friend, that the distillation from sugar should commence un the 1st of July, and continue tils October, with a disa cretionary power in the crown to continue it still further till thirty days after the meeting of the next session of
parliament, was in substance exactly correspondent to • the report. (General Gascoyne said across the table, that
he understood that the sugar was not to be substituted be. tween July and October, except in a case of scarcity ) That, indeed, would have afforded some ground for the honourable general's objection : but his noble friend had expressly stated that sugar was to be substituted ; and the honourable general miglit recollect that he had mentioned bis intention of proposing a reduction of the duty on sugar wash, in order to enable the distilleries to employ sugar with advantage. Another reason for desiring an interval was, to consider how the difficulty, with respect to Ireland, could be got over. The honourable gentleman over the way (Fitzgerald), who had expressed himself so strongly with regard to a recommendation of the commit. tec which he considered as an attempt to violate the act of union, was hardly reasonable in his objection to a compromise by wbich that difficulty was done away, and the resolution proposed in such a shape as made it a com mon question with respect to both countries. That this rendered the proposition more difficult be allowed ; but when both countrics were united, and the trade in grain perfectly free between them, it appeared that there was no step that could be taken to save the grain here that did not equally apply to Ireland. When there was abundance or scarcity in one country, it would be equally felt in the other. If the prices here were high, they must be bigb there, and rice tersa, so that the same measure of.