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precaution ought to apply to both. If this had beer solely a competition of interests, there was no question the fanded interest ought to have the preference; but when another interest might be promoted without prejudice to the landed interest, surely the proposition could not he rejected, merely because a meastire, expedient in itself, might happen to afford relief to the sugar plant ers. He agreed therefore that the question ought not le be argued on the ground of relief to the West Indian planters; although that was not to be thrown out of con. sideration entirely. He then put it to the judgment of the house, whether thougii fortunately there was not at present a scarcity, yet in the deficiency of the means of suppły, and the badness of the crop, under the apprehensioni of a possible scarcity, with the foreign ports slut against us, it was not wise to provide beforehand against the effects of those threatening appearances ? Those wbo put the question on the general principle, did not argue tairls, for the present was different froin ordinary cases; and hence the honourable baronet's (sir John Sinclair) arguments, though they might apply very much to former times, did not at all apply to our present situation. We had been an exporting, we were now an importing nation. The right honourable gentleman then adverted to the evidence of Arthur Young and others, and contended that the matter was clearly made out, that the crop was deficient, and that it was expedient to adopt some such measure as the present. He denied that the high price could possibly result from the agitation of this questions The efect of ihat must have been quite of a contrary description. The cause was, the scarcity in Scotlari, and the different crops in other places. It would be improper to bring ihe meas' re into operation sooner than the fire of July, as the distillers should have time to dispose of that grain which they had in such a state that it could be ap. . plied to no other purpose. Ile stated that the crop of potatoes had failcd in Ireland, and that by the effect of this proposition, the people there would have oiher food cheaper. The measure ought always to be considered as a temporary one. He admitted that it was liis duty to take care of the revenue, and that this was an important consideration. But he believed that the revenue would not suffer materially, and that the dificulty of the collec
tion in Ireland might be got over. He hoped, upon the whole, that those gentlemen who objected to the quarter from which the proposition came, as the honourable mem. ber (Mr. Curwen) on the second bench opposite did, would dismiss from their minds, in considering the subject, every thing except its real merits.
This was the proper view of it, and he hoped that no strenuous opposition would be persisted in.
Mr. Ponsonby declared, that if he had not read the resolutions proposed by the nobile lord, he should have 'voted for iie motion of going into the committee ; but the reading of these resolutions was sufficient to satisfy his mind as to the propriety of an opposite course. The gentlemen on the other side, he observed, had taken quite different routes to recommend the measure of the noble lord. One had pleaded for it as necessary to relieve the West Iudian merchants, while another contended tbat it was called for in order to guard against scarcity. To show that the latter ground was erroneous, the right honourable gentleman entered into a comparative statement of the prices of corn, at various periods, particularly in Ireland ; and he also quoted several passages from the evidence taken before the committee, to prove that tbis ground was quite untenable. As to the relief of the West Indian merchants, he was as anxious for it as any man, but to the mode now proposed he strongly objected, and, in particular, because he did not think this mode could be effective. He would rather recommend some perma. nent relief for this deserving class of men, by reducing, for instance, the revenue to which they were subject. The West Indian merchants he thought peculiarly entitled to consideration ; because, while they were subject to all the additional contributions consequent upon the war, they were not liable to profit by its results. For if, through our success, any colonies should be captured, the West Indian merchants were likely to suffer by the coinpetition which they must experience from the produce of such colonies; and if defeated, those merchants would, in consequence, be excluded from an additional market. Thus, in the event of our success or defeat, the West Indian merchants were almost equally liable to suffer. Of course they had strong claims upon the country. But the present was not the mode of relieving that class of Den. La fact, while it would administer ineffectual re
lief to then, it would offend the lauded interest. Thus ministers, who proposed is, would experience the fate generally attendant upon hall-ineasure politicians, namely, that of neither pleasing nor serving any body.
Sir Arthur Wellesley asserted, that the people of Ireland, and especially in the north, were very much distressed for provisions, which distress would, he maintained, render a measure of this nature necessary, whatever might be the state of the West Indian merchants.
Colonel Montgomery statel, that the scarcity of the po'atoe crops in that part of Ireland with which he was acquainted, had been such last year as to afford scarcely enongh to spare for the ordinary cultivation or seed. The consequence therefore was, to produce a proportionable scarci'y of corn, which he thought the measure under consideration calculated to alleviate, if not to remedy, therefore he should vote for it.
Sir John Neroport was surriscd at the statement, that the north of Ireland had recently experienced any material want of provisions, as the price of corn had not been for several months at all fluctuating at one of the greatest ports for the export of that article in Ireland, he meant Waterford. It'any scarcity existed in the north, he naturally concluded that such scarcity would have affected the price of corn at Waterford. The right honourable baronet generally deprecated the interposition of the legis. lature upon subjects of this nature. Tie thought such interposition, in almost every instance, extremely noxious. Indeed experience had proved that nothing but imperious necessity could excuse it. To such interposition he believed it was owing that this country was not able to grow sufficient food for its population, as it formerly did. From the enactment of Mr. Parnell's act to the present time, the interposition he deprecated was found injurious. As to the rise hich had recently taken place in the prices of sugar and corn, it appeared to him io proceed from the speculations likely to arise out of the existence of a committee upon this subject.
Sir Arthur Wellesley, in explanation, stated, that corn had risen in Dublin to twenty-two shillings a bar. rel, from the ordinary price of thirteen.
Mr. Ellice spoke, at some length, in favour of the report of the comunittee, and of the resolutions of his noble friend.
Admiral Hartey considered that grain being at too low a price, was to be looked upon as a serious evil, as well as its being exorbitantly advanced. If he saw that there was any probability of a dearth, or scarcity, he should then most cheerfully vote for any measure that was calculated to economise the article, and lower its price. As the case 110w stood, he could by no means think of voting for the proposition then before the house, it being, in his judgment, calculated in a great degree to ruin the farmer,
for the sake of affording some partial relief to the West Indian planters and inerchants.
Dir. Foster stated, in the most unequivocal terms, that he meant to vote in opposition to his colleagues. His reasons were these : in the first place, he thought it to be contrary to all acknowledged maxims of agriculture to say, that we should prevent the use of grain in one of its regular channels, merely for the benefit of the West Indian colonies; and in the second place, if there were any ground for such a prohibition, it ouglit to be shewn, that the necessity of ado; ting such a measure arose from the dearth or scarcity of grain, or some just cause for the apprehension that sucli a case was likely to bappen. The corn of the country was, by the wisest and most experi. enced politicians, left in general to find its own level in the market, by the usual means of competition among the dealers. When there was a bad barvest, the price of grain advanced much higher than usual : there were al. ways persons ready to import from foreign markets, and thus keep down the price whilst they promoted their own interests. But it never could be the interest of any state to be regardless of the interests of the farmer, and not to leave him some opening to dispose of the surplus of his crop. These opportunities were, first, in the sale at the breweries and distilleries; and secondly, by exportation. He believed that this was the first time in the English History, except in a time of scarcity, or the apprehension of such an event, that ever the legislature attempted thus to tamper with the agricultural interests of the nation. Besides that, he could not believe that it was capable of affording any substantial relief to the West Indian mer. chants or planters; and if the house once adopted such a incasure, and left such a preredent on their journal:, it was impossible to say to what extent the mischief might be carried hereafter, Gentlemen might say what they
pleased in that house upon the subject, but their words would have no effect upon the country at large ; and the precedent would appear upon their jonrnals without their arguments in support of the measure, so that hereafier it might be made use of, on slighter grounds even than those on which the present proposition stood. Agriculture was a business that required most extraordinary stea, diness, more than almost any other pursuit that mankind were engaged in; and if the farmers were left without four years steadiness in the law that was to govern them, there would be no market, comparatively speaking, for a. tedundant crop, and no resource in time of scarcily. In Ireland there was no steadiness in the law upon this head until the year 1784. 'The law was at that time fixed; and almost ever since they have been able to send considerable supplies of grain annually to England. In every point of view that he could look upon the present subject, it left so strong an inipression of its impolicy on his mind, that he felt himself bound to vote against the speaker's leaving the chair.
Mr. Windhum declared that the principles laid down by the honourable gentleman who had just sat downg aod by another right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pon. sonby), need only be heard, to carry conviction to the mind of any dispassionate man.
The committee, bowever, had been instructed to consider of the best means of affording relief to the West Indian planters, and to con sider of that only, as it was imagined at least ; but all on a sudden, and most conveniently it seerns for the wisbes of the gentlemen on the other side (all but the chancellor of the excbequer for Ireland), the idea of a scarcity in the country darts upon their mind, sonething like "Bayes's army in disguise, and gives a new turn to their proceedings. Really whilst there was such vacillation of opinion, such unsteadiness among their councils, there was little or no h. pe left for confidence in future. And, in fact, if there was any thing like a scarcity in the country, the very words of ministers that night were calculated to spread the alarm and add to the necessity.
Mr. H. Sumner was of opinion, ihat our colonists suffered more by the investment of Briļish capital in fo. reign islands, than by any other means whatever.
Sir Charles Burrell declared his sincere conviction of VOL. III.-1808.