29 MAY 1841, Page 2

Debates anis iprocubinas in Varliament.


Early on Monday evening, in the House of Commons, Sir ROBERT PEEL gave notice, that on Thursday he should move a resolution to the following effect— "That her Majesty's Ministers do not sufficiently possess the confidence of the House of Commons to enable them to carry through the House measures which they deem of essential importance to the public welfare; and that their i continuance in office under such circumstances s at variance with the spirit of the constitution."

The greatest sensation was caused by Sir Robert's declaration : the scene is thus described by the Morning Post—" The most enthusiastic cheers from the Conservatives followed this announcement, and con- tinued for some minutes. After they had subsided, a single cheer from Mr. O'Connell produced a second burst of anticipated triumph from the Opposition, and considerable time elapsed before the excitement was Over."] In reply to Mr. WALTER, Lord JOHN RUSSELL said that it yt'as not his intention to proceed with the Poor-law Act Amendment Bill this session. (Loud cries of "Hear, hear "from both sides of the Hoarse.) He afterwards said, that in the present state of the business before the House, he had not thought it practicable to carry the bill this session and he feared that many motions and speeches would be made upon it with a view to the hustings alone. But he desired to be understood as having in no degree changed his opinions upon the pi ineiple of the measure.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER afterwards moved the usual resolution for continuing the annual Sugar-duties.

Sir ROBERT PEEL seconded the motion. Quoting the commencement of Lord Sandon's resolution against the admission of foreign sugar, he observed, that after concurring in that resolution, he could have no in- tention to refuse the duties on the free-labour sugar of our own Colo- nies, and he should therefore oppose no resistance to the present proposal. He did not desire to stop the supplies ; being of opinion that the ques- tion at issue between the Ministers and the Opposition might be more conveniently tried upon a motion of want of confidence.

Mr. Hume said, that the effect of Sir Robert Peel's policy would be to make sugar twopence or threepence a pound dearer to the consumer. The recent triumph which the Opposition thought they had gained over the Ministers was gained in reality over the public. He hoped that Sir Robert's friends would read the resolution upon the hustings.

Sir ROBERT exclaimed—" This is what I get by supporting Govern- ment? But I will tell the honourable gentleman what I shall be able to say upon the hustings : I shall quote a speech of his." He then read some extracts from a speech made last July by Mr. Hume, who then said, "If this practice (of importing Cuban and Brazilian sugar) should prevail, the efforts of the House to exclude slave-grown sugar will be rendered abortive. If we want an increased supply of sugar for our home consumption, I think we ought to take that in preference which is the produce of free labour."

Mr. Hume explained, that he only meant that, as the House had decided against the importation of slave-sugar, it was not right to allow it to be imported: he himself had always been willing to admit any and every kind of sugar, and had always voted in that sense.

Sir DE LACY Evens denounced Sir Robert Peel as the head of a band of confederated monopolists ; and hoped that he would have the candour to inform the people at the hustings that the continuance of the sugar-monopoly was chiefly owing to him. Lord Joins RUSSELL observed, that Sir Robert had been quite right in not reading the humanity part of Lord Sandon's resolution : everybody knew all along that it was a mere pretext, and it had taken in nobody but Dr. Lushington. Lord John corrected some misrepresentation which had obtained currency as to the reduction of price contemplated by the Government in the proposed alteration of the Sugar-duties : he had said that if the West Indian planters could bring their sugar into the market at 61s. the hundredweight, they would be no loser by the change ; but Shit if they failed in their promise to do so, the people would be taxed without remedy to the extent of 2d. or 3d. a pound mile's% the duties were altered.

Lord STANLEY wondered that Lord John Russell had not offered that explanation before.

Mr. WAHLEY said, that Ministers had within these few days suc- ceeded in checking the progress of their growing unpopularity. He approved the Ministerial measure for the reduction of sugar, and he had supported it for that reason, and not because he meant to record his confidence in Ministers. If the Tories meant to bring forward Whig measures, it signified very little which party were to be the Govern- ment; and by their strenuous efforts to oppose the financial reforms which Ministers had offered, they had placed themselves in a false po- sition. He scarcely knew what advantage there would be in a change to a Ministry who would imitate all that was bad in their predecessors, while they rejected all the good. He did not know whether there was a Radical party in that House with whom the Queen could advise ; but the good sense of the English people ought to break up the present organization of Whig and Tory. If, next Thursday, Sir Robert Peel would promise more than the Whigs, he should have Mr. Wakley's support. Mr. Baring's resolution was agreed to.

Sir ROBERT PEEL opened the debate on his resolution early on Thursday evening ; dashing at once into the midst of the subject. After the repeated defeats of Ministers, indicative of a withdrawal or the confidence of the House and of their inability to give effect to measures which they deemed important to the public welfare, and after the Chancellor of the Exchequer's notice on the previous Thursday, that it was still his intention to proceed with the business of the House,. unaccompanied as that notice was by any explanation, Sir Robert felt that it was impossible to acquiesce in such a course he felt that he must bring the question of confidence to issue at once ; and instead of doing so by any side-blow, such as stopping the supplies or obstructing some important bill, he preferred doing it in the most direct and manly manner. His resolution affirmed two propositions ; the first of which was, that Ministers do not sufficiently possess the confidence of the House to enable them to carry measures which they deem of essential importance to the public welfare. Was it necessary for him, looking at the whole continuous course of their legislation, to offer detailed proof'

of that proposition If that were true, so was the second proposition in his resolution, that the continuance of Ministers in office was at variance with the spirit of the constitution. All historical precedents- affirmed it, from the period whence the present system of Parliamentary government dated, at the accession of the house of Hanover— "1 begin with Sir Robert Walpole. Sir Robert Walpole held office, I think, for a period of twenty-five years : he was appointed in the year 1715. He was dispossessed of power under these circumstances : a mo- tion was made by Mr. Pulteney which implied the withdrawal of the con- fidence of the House of Commons : that motion was negatived by a majority of three in favour of the Minister: but upon Sir Robert Walpole being in a minority on the Chippenham election, (the determination of the electious was then exclusively influenced by party-spirit, and that was thought a convenient mode of testing the strength of a Minister) upon Sir Robert being in a mino- rity on the decision of the Chippenbam election, notwithstanding the slight majority he had on the question of confidence, after a period of twenty-five years' authority he relinquished office. In the year 1782, Lord North yielded to the same influence : two motions of want of confidence were made, the one by Sir John Rous, the other by Lord George Cavendish ; the one was nega- tived by a majority of 9, the other by a majority of 10; but Lord North felt it his duty, notwithstanding that majority, to yield to the necessity implied by the withdrawal of the confidence of the House of Commons. In the year 1804, Lord Sidmouth retired, with a majority, I think, unknown in the recent history of Parliamentary contests : Lord Sidmouth had frequent majorities ;. but his majority being reduced to 37, Lord Sidmouth, considering it to be in- dicative of the withdrawal of the confidence of the House of Commons, thought it his duty to retire. In 1812, on the first formation of Lord Liver- pool's Administration, on the motion of Lord Wharncliffe, then Mr. Stuart Wortley, a resolution was come to by the House implying that a more ex- tended and efficient Administration should be formed : the majority of four was decisive of the fate of the first Administration attempted by Lord Liver- pool ; he and his colleagues resigned their trust. Attempts, which proved to be effectual, were made for forming another Administration, and Lord Liver- pool was then, and not till then, replaced in power. I think the next Admi- nistration which yielded to the influence of public opinion expressed by the House of Commons, was that presided over by the Duke Of Wellington : at the meeting of Parliament in 1830, on a question whether or not the Civil- List should be referred to a Committee of the House of Commons, we were defeated by a combination of parties entertaining opposite opinions ; and the House of Commons resolved, by a majority of, I think, 29, to refer the consi- deration of the Civil List to a Select Committee. I felt that minority in which the Government was left to be decisive of its fate ; and therefore the Duke of Wellington and myself felt it to be our duty to retire. Indeed, an honourable baronet opposite will recollect that his opinion anticipated ours : he asked immediately after the division, whether it was the intention of Ministers to retain their places ? " [Sir John tlabhouse interrupted Sir Robert to confess that it was a very improper question but he had subsequently apologized for the impropriety. Sir Robert said, he did not complain of discour- tesy.] "The next Administration which also yielded to public opinion as sig- nified by the House of Commons, was that over which I myself presided for a short time in 1835. I did carry on for a short period an unequal contest against the powers which were leagued against me ; but this I must say, that the first time there was a positive obstructon to any act of legislation, I felt it my duty to withdraw. The noble lord implied an opinion that I was holding- power injuriously to the public interests, and said, on the 16th of March, 4i am daily coming more and more to the opinion that we ought to revert, when- ever we can, to the old practice of the constitution '; and as soon as he carried a resolution that no adjustment of the Irish Tithe question would be satia- factory except the one he advocated, I at once signified that I could no longer remain Minister." In his enumeration of precedents, Sir Robert had omitted one—that of Mr. Pitt, in 1784; when he continued in office notwithstanding adverse votes of the House of Commons— 'The circumstances of that case are in no degree analogous to the present instance. On the 17th December, the bill which bad been brought in by M. Fox for the regulation and management of the affairs of India was rejected in the House of Lords. On the very same day, the House resolved to go into a Committee of the whole on the state of the nation' upon the Monday follow- ing. On the 19th December, the Government of Mr. Fox and Lord North was dissolved. Mr. Pitt was then appointed Minister. But before there was time for the reelection of Mr. Pitt, his seat being vacated by his acceptance of face, au address to the Crown was moved not to dissolve Parliament; and his , Majesty was earnestly entreated to hearken to the advice of his faithful Corn- scans, and not to the secret advice of particular persons who may have private interests of their own, separate from the true interests of his Majesty and his . people.' The House adjourned on the 24th December. Parliament resumed on the 12th January 1781; and before any one act of Government could be submitted to the consideration of the House of Commons—on the very day on which Mr. Pitt appeared in the House of Commons as a Mi- nister of the Crown—a resolution of the House was come to, moved by Lord Surrey, • That in the present situation of affairs, it is peculiarly ne- cessary that there should be an Administration which has the confidence of this House and of the public.' On the 16th January, four days after the meeting of Parliament, it was moved by Lord Charles Spencer, That the Appointment of his Majesty's present Ministers was accompanied by circum- stances new and extraordinary, and such as do not conciliate or engage the confidence of this House ; and that the continuance of the present Ministers in trusts of the highest importance is contrary to constitutional principles, and injurious to the interests of his Majesty and his people.' The objection, then, to the continuance of Mr. Pitt in office, was not that the confidence of the House of Commons had been withheld from the measures he produced : there were surmises, there were allegations, that Mr. Pitt owed his power to the ex- ercise of undue influence—that the King's name had been made use of for the purpose of influencing elections. Resolutions were affirmed implying ob- jections, not to the acts of his Government, but to the principle on which it was constituted ; and the battle which Mr. Pitt was then fighting was not in opposition to the principle that a Minister ought to have the confidence of the House of Commons for the purpose of carrying on the Government, but Mr. Pitt contended that Mr. Fox, having a majority in the House of Commons, was attempting to control the constitutional prerogative of the Crown; and. without reference to attempts at legislation, without reference to public acts of the Government, was denouncing that Administration, and implying before- hand the want of confidence in it. Is the present, I ask, a case at all analo- gous? Am I obstructing the course of a Government at its first formation ? am I depriving it of the opportunity of submitting its measures to the con- sideration of Parliament."

Sir Robert then quoted the opinions of great constitutional authori- ties—of Mr. Burke, that Ministers should yield to Parliament, "and not that Parliament should be new-modelled until it is fitted to their purposes"; of Mr. Fox, who declared the true basis of efficient govern- ment to be the confidence of the House of Commons, and that those who thought themselves wiser than the House, "and they alone, must answer for it;," of Lord John Russell himself, who insisted that Minis- ters ought to enjoy- the confidence of the House of Commons, and said, "Otherwise their measures will be thwarted, their promises will be dis- trusted; and, finding all their steps obstructed, their efforts will be directed to the overthrow of the constitution." Sir Robert did not en- tirely assent to the last consequence ; but the weakness of Government subjected it to the influence and obstructions of party. Take Lord John's own experience on the Appropriation-clause, the Jamaica Bill, and the Sugar-duties- "I never taunted the noble lord for abandoning the Appropriation-clause. . I thought he was placed in a situation of necessity, which upon the whole made it advisable fur the public interests that there should be a settlement of _ the Tithe question without the Appropriation-clause; but can I conceal from myself that this necessity arose out of the weakness of the Government—out of a want of confidence on the part of the House of Commons, which left to the Government no other alternative but to recede from the most express en- gagement, or, by insisting on that engagement, to sacrifice great public interests? Then look at the Jamaica Bill. The Government brought in a bill, the object of which was to extinguish representative government in the colony of Jamaica: it failed : we opposed them : they were compelled to i bring n another hill in conformity with our recommendations. The noble lord declared that the authority, of the Crown would be weakened ; Lord Melbourne, that the vote of the House of Commons was fatal to the measure. That is the opinion which you yourselves gave as to the degree in which the Colonial interersts were to be compromised by the attempt to govern without a sufficient majority in the House of Commons. Take, again, the case of the Sugar-duties. After the grounds on which that measure bad been advocated— after the importance which had been attached to it—after the expectations of relief which were held out in consequence of its adoption—after the declara- tion of the Attorney-General, that we must consider the Budget as a whole— was it becoming in the Chancellor of the Exchequer to more without a word of explanation the adoption of the existing Sugar-duties? Is this for the credit of the House of Commons ? "

It might appear that the strength of the Crown's prerogative could support Ministers against the House ; but that was a superficial view—. The interests of the Crown and of the House of Commons are identical. You cannot strike a blow at the just and legitimate authority of the House of Commons without inflicting a blow upon the Monarchy. But can it be said to add to the authority of the Monarchy if its Ministers and Representatives in this House—those who counsel measures to this House upon the authority of the Crown—can it be supposed that the sorry triumph of their being main- tained in power without a majority is any compensation for the positive evils of their own inefficiency and want of authority ? Ministers might say, with Mr. Pitt, that if they had not the confi- dence of the House, they had the confidence of the country— It was a dangerous resource, as Mr. Fox had observed, to assume the seine of the country from any evidence except the votes of their representatives; but this Sir Robert knew, that there had been twenty elections since the beginning of the present Parliament, in which Members had been chosen of different opinions from their predecessors ; and only four of those elections had been won by Ministers, and sixteen by by their opponents ; who had thus a clear majority of twelve upon twenty.

If it were said that the present is a special case, the reply was, that Ministers cannot be judges in their own case. But they might say that they intended to appeal to the country-

" I know nothing whatever upon that subject : as a Member of the House ,of Commons I can have no evidence of the intention of the Crown. I know you have the power at any time of dissolving ; I know that you can choose the most favourable time for dissolving : no doubt that is the prerogative of the Crown—a prerogative of a delicate nature, with which it is difficult fur the House of Commons to interfere. But I shall have no additional confidence in you, if, after exciting the public mind upon such a subject as that of the sub- sistence of the people, you intend to take that opportunity of dissolving Parlia- ment and appealing to the people on that question. I firmly believe that you are not advancing, by that course, the interests of the Monarchy of which you are the advisers." Sir Robert pointed-out the inconsistency of abandoning the Poor4aw Bill, because it would lead, as Lord John Russell said, to protracted dis- cussion without any final result, and to speeches made for the hustings rather than for the House; while Ministers persevered in the Corn measure, which must be as resultless and as much a means of agitation. He had other grounds of want ofoonfidence in Ministers—their financial

• incapacity : oscillating between Conservative and the opposite opinions, they gave up the Post-office revenue, (not that Sir Robert denied the advantages in many respects of the reduction of the Post-office duty,) in order to recover the support on their own side of the House which they had lost by adopting the policy of the other side in the Jamaica bill : their weakness alone compelled them to produce a Budget whose only effect would be to disturb the country. Into the Foreign policy of Ministers he would not enter, though he thought it had subjected this country to a dreadful risk of war ; because he was desirous of founding his motion on the broad constitutional principles to which he had adverted. To show that he acted in no party-spirit, he alluded to the support which he bad repeatedly given to Ministers : the last in- stance was when Mr. Duncombe, on Tuesday night, moved an address to the Crown to discharge political offenders ; he then helped them to de- fend the prerogative of the Crown which their neglect in not bringing down to the House a sufficient force had exposed to encroachment. The House of Commons was constituted according to Lord John Rus- sell's own bill ; it was his own House ; and that House had withdrawn its confidence. Sir Robert concluded with moving his resolution. • Lord WORSLEY, though opposed to Ministers in respect of the Corn question, thought it would be unwise to pronounce a want of confidence on the narrow ground of the three financial measures which they had just proposed. What faith could the agriculturists, who were alarmed by the Whig proposal, have in the qualified declarations of those oppo- site? He would throw out the Corn-law measure, but not the Govern- ment. MY. CHRISTOPHER was astonished at Lord Worsley's incon- sistency ; because, at the late Lincolnshire meeting, he declared that he confided neither in Sir Robert Peel nor in the Government.

Sir JOHN HOBHOUSE enumerated the legislative deeds of Ministers-.- the English and Scotch Municipal Reform ; the Registration of Births, Deaths, and Marriages ; the Irish Tithe; the Rural Police ; the Reduc- tion of the Postage; the Irish Municipal Reform ; the Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues Bill ; the Union of the Canadas. Lord Pal- inerston's foreign policy had won the admiration of all Europe. If, indeed, their Irish Registration Bill had been condemned by a majority of the House, so had Lord Stanley's. With reference to precedents, Sir John observed that Sir Robert Walpole retired because he had no hopes of carrying his great measure, the Excise Bill. Sir Robert Peel himself had been a Member of Lord Liverpool's Administration when it was beaten by a majority of 37 on the Property-tax without resign- ing: he was beaten on the Test and Corporation Acts, and adopted the policy of the Opposition; in 1835 he was beaten on the decisive question of the Speakership, on the Address, on the Leicester election, and on the London University, without retiring. Mr. Pitt was beaten eleven times ; and he asserted the prerogative of the Crown in vindi- cation of his adherence to office ; declaring that the decision of the House of Commons could not force Ministers to resign, and that a Minister was bound to look to the immediate consequences of his resignation. It was said that Government knew they could not carry the repeal of the Corn-laws : the same thing was formerly said of the laws against the Catholics; yet those laws had been repealed. Perhaps the day would come when those who had repealed the laws against the Catholics would repeal also the laws against the importation of Corn ; though Sir Robert Peel always came a day too late with his political discoveries.

Mr. DISRAELI further discussed political precedents, and condemned the reckless attacks of Ministers upon every interest in the country. Mr. THOMAS HORHOUSE charged the Opposition with desiring to check the prerogative of the Crown. Mr. Llorimu. attacked Lord Worsley, and enlarged on the weakness of Ministers. Sir HESKETH FLEETWOOD would support Sir Robert Peel when he promised better measures than the present Government,—whose chief fault was that they sometimes took lessons of him : in the mean time he should wait till he saw how Ministers behaved in standing by the promised Corn-law motion before he finally condemned them. Mr. WALTER would oppose the Govern- ment, as the authors and supporters of the Poor-law.

Mr. Macsumey observed, that Sir Robert Peel had departed from the usual discreet reserve which made him avoid great and general prin-

ciples, and had now laid down a general proposition : Mr. Macaulay however, thought it in the highest degree inexpedient formally to pro- nounce upon the spirit of the constitution— It must be evident that, if the assertion that this or that course was incon- sistent with the spirit of the constitution were placed on record in the journals of that House, and the principle should prove fallacious, the House might ne- vertheless consider themselves bound to act in conformity with their recorded opinion, and the greatest inconvenience might ensue; for it could not but de- tract from the character of that House, if on after consideration they felt called upon to declare that which they had pronounced to be the spirit of the con- stitution null and void.

Indeed, Sir Robert's proposition might be reduced ad absurdum, by showing that what he pronounced counter to the spirit of the constitu- tion might be inevitable— There were 658 Members in that House what security, was there in the constitution of this country, against a state of things in which 320 Members of that House might be found strong and zealous Tones; and, on the other hand, 320 equally strong and zealous Whigs ? Between these two great parties it might be supposed perhaps that seventeen or eighteen could be found adverse to the strong opinions entertained on either side of the House, and equally in- clined to interpose obstacles to any measure originating with either party. Under these circumstances, how could the Government be carried on? The case supposed was neither impossible nor improbable ; it had actually occurred: Government and the opposite party in the House each entertained in Midi affairs a policy diametrically contrary, and had each proposed to give effect to their policy in a bill; while a small section of the House had voted alter- nately against each proposition and defeated it. Sir Robert Peel seemed to confound two very different kinds of con- fidence which might be wanting— Mr. Macaulay's principle was this : be held that it was the first business of *Minister of the Crown to administer the existing laws; and if the House of Commons did not confide in the mode in which he did so, there remained but one constitutional alternative—either to retire from office or dissolve the Par- liament. But he denied that that want of confidence which prevented a Mi- nister from carrying new measures or measures for the alteration of existing laws could be regarded in the same light. With the exception of the Reform Bill, there never, perhaps, was a measure of greater importance brought into Parliament than Lord Sunderland's Peerage Bill—a bill which was recom- mended by George the First, which-pulled the House of Lardy, but which was rejected in the Commons by an immense majority. Did the Ministry resign ?— No: nor did any one attempt to say that in not resigning they had acted un- constitutionally. When, in 1786, Mr. Pitt wasbeaten upon a resolution which he proposed, to the effect that the fortification of certain dockyards was an ob- ject of essential importance to the safety of this country, what did he say, ?— Why, that he submitted to the defeat as the decision of the House. Mr. Tier- ney and Mr. Ponsonby did not think of calling upon the Government to re- sign when defeated upon the question of a Property-tax—a larger financial measure than that relating to the Sugar question. These were instances before the passing of the Reform Bill ; but that measure had effected a considerable change— That change had been adverted to over and over again in the debates which took place upon that measure, sometimes in the language of praise and some- times of censure : it was said that even Governments which might possess the confidence of the House generally would not be able after the passing of the bill to reckon upon that thoroughgoing support which they then enjoyed. If therefore Sir Robert Peers abstract resolution should pass, and he should suc- ceed to power, there would he few months in the year in which he would not be disagreeably reminded of his own dogma. Mr. Macaulay thought that, up to this time, the Ministers had been justified in retaining office. He would not dwell on foreign affairs, but at least he might say that the influence of England was unimpaired and the glory of her arms untarnished. At home there had been alarming disturbances, and the Government had suppressed them without inter- fering with a single right— The right to meet and petition was untouched ; the Habeas Corpus Act was not suspended ; there were no Six Acts ; no banishments ; no transporta- toins for political offences ; the constitutional tribunals of the country were alone appealed to, and the country freed from those disturbances, without sus- pending from the people one valuable security, by a Government accused of weakness.

Another difficulty had been in the administration of Ireland ; and on this head the Government, but two years ago, received a direct vote of approbation from the House of Commons. He admitted, however, that a crisis had now arrived— There was a deficiency—a deficiency, however, which had not been caused by any act which ought to deprive the Government of the confidence of that House ; but partly by an increase of establishments, which was generally be- lieved to be necessary for maintaining the honour and security of the country; and partly by the remission of a tax which was called for by a large number of the political opponents of the Government in that House, and out of doors by public organs, which did all in their power to embarrass the Government. Together with this deficiency came what he would call a great commercial crisis.

He thought that Ministers were bound to persevere in their new po- licy. The humanity cry had failed ; and as to the reproach of raising agitation by dissolving upon important measures, upon what measurss should a Government dissolve, if not upon those of importance ? and on what questions were the people likely to be excited? The word" agi- tation" was a fine dyslogistic word, as Mr. Bentham would have called it; but what agitation had there been ? surely Sir Robert Peel would not prevent the people from writing, and petitioning, and associating to return Members to Parliament to support their views? and Mr. Macaulay had seen nothing in the present agitation which tended to violence or the breach of a single law. Ministers had done their part ; it remained for the people to do theirs.

The House adjourned as soon as Mr. Macaulay ceased.


The question of' the Corn-laws was again raised in the House of Lords on Monday, by Earl FITZWILLIAN ; who alluded to a letter from Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, which was recently read at a meeting in Lincoln- shire to support the Corn-laws. In that letter apprehensions were ex- pressed which evidenced a prostration of understanding such as Lord Fitzwilliam bad never before witnessed. It was assumed that the fixing of the duty at 8s. would have the effect of sweeping away one-third o the rentals of the country : he did not believe it ; but the assertion showed that the object of the opponents of the measure was to keep up their own rentals. ("No, no !") What other ground could they have ? (The Earl of Winchilsea—" The employment of labourers.") The em- ployment of labourers ! was it really believed that one-third of the lands would be thrown out of cultivation ? Where ? (The Earl of Winchilsea—‘. In Lincoln itself to a great extent.") Earl Fitzwilliam defied any one to point out a thousand acres in that county that would be thrown out of cultivation : was it in the fens ? in the rich lands of the North ? or in the Lincoln heath ? (The Earl of Winchilsea- " Hear, hear ! ") Earl Fitzwilliam owned and cultivated lands of the same description as those on Lincoln heath, and he was bound to say that upon those lands the measure would not have the effect predicted. But Lord Willoughby d'Eresby said that one-third of the agricultural capital would be swept away : what did he mean by that ? did he mean that every third waggon, plough, or harrow would be destroyed ? {" Oh, oh !") It must either mean that, or that the farmer's stock would be of less value ; and in that case men of less capital would be better able to cultivate land than at present ; which would be no evil to the people of England. Lord Fitzwilliam went on to show, from a comparison of agricultural wages and the price of corn at different pe-

ods, that one-third of the wages would not be destroyed, as Lord Wil- loughby d'Eresby predicted; quoting Mr. Burke, who remarked that the Norfolk squires, who said that wages varied with the price of pro- visions, "must have dined when they said so." He then adverted to a delusive statement made at the same meeting by Mr. Chaplin, that the average prices of corn at Hamburg and Dantzic ranged from 35s. 9d. to 41s., while at the same time he said that foreign corn was now brought here at 268., and that with the 8s. duty the price would be 34s.

Lord WILLOUGHBY D'ERESBY thought it would have been better had Lord Fitzwilliam's remarks been delayed until the presentation of the petition from Lincoln. His own letter was a mere letter of excuse for not attending the meeting, and not meant for public discussion.

The Earl of WriscramsEA was his own steward ; and he could state, that in the counties with which he was connected—Kent, Sussex, Lincoln, and Northampton—the rate of wages was invariably affected by the price of corn— It might be perhaps that wages bad not risen in proportion to the rise in corn, but he could state that, in those districts with which he was connected, the landlords had shared the burden with the labourer : they had made _advances in wages to enable them to live, and to live themselves. 11-she manufacturers did the same, there would be no distress. With respect to the effect of cheap corn upon cultivation, be would ask the House to hi& to Lincolnshire? He had seen thousands of acres there not worth 2s. 6d. That land had been improved by artificial manure; and if corn fell, the farmer could not afford to use tins sort of manure, and the land must return to its former state.

Lord REDESDALE believed that the object of all the outcry that had been raised, was to enable wealthy manufacturers, when there was a mortgage upon an estate, to get the whole estate into their possession. Earl Fizz WILLIAM said he would have been very sorry to have made such a speech. The Earl of HARDWICHE observed, that these angry observa- tions arose from the practice of Earl Fitzwilliam of arraying the manu- facturing against the landed interest. He deplored the fact that such expressions should be uttered ; but did the Earl himself do nothing of the sort ?—his language was addressed to interests outside the House. The Earl of RADNOR denied that either Lord Fitzwilliam or himself sought to produce effect out of doors. He enlarged upon the unjust restrictions upon all descriptions of agricultural produce, to keep up rents: there was, in fact, no article of food that Was free to be imported into this country, fish, flesh, or fowl : one sort of fish only was ex- cepted —turbot for the rich man's table, with lobsters to make the sauce. (A laugh.) Noble lords might laugh, but still the fact was so; and it was very disreputable that such things should be allowed while thousands of our countrymen were starving. He replied to the argu- ment for the Corn-laws, that they were intended to make us independent of foreign countries— It appeared from returns, that during the three last years, 1838, 1839, and 1840, .there had been introduced for home consumption into this country 6,235,000 quarters of foreign corn, being about a sixth of the whole consump- tion of the country. There could hardly be a stronger proof that the exist- ing law did not by any means make us independent of foreigners for the supply of food.

Lord ASHBURTON complained of the excitement which had been created throughout the country— This question, and the others which had been opened at the same time, had stirred up every interest in the country—the East Indian interest, the West Indian interest, the shipping interest, and almost every other interest of im- portance. There was hardly: a man connected with any branch of industry who was not taught by certain parties that his neighbour was his enemy ; and thus different classes were set against each other, with a notion of antagonism of interest—the last notion which a wise Government would desire to spread.

He endeavoured to show how the repeal of the Corn-laws would re- duce wages— He took the real theory of the subject to be this, that the price of labour, as stated by the noble earl, was influenced by the state of demand and supply: wages were high where the labourers were few compared with the demand for them, as in Jamaica, where the labour of one day would procure subsistence for a week, or in the colony of Australia, or the United States : but in the case of a country thickly populated like this country, whether in the agricul- tural or manufacturing districts, the price of labour came down to the price at which the labourer could be fed ; and that feeding was determined in this country, amongst other circumstances, by poor-laws and dietaries. In the manufacturing districts capitalists ran down wages as low as they could, ad- vertising for workmen, and even children, in all parts of the country—C Oppo- sition cheers)—bringing a mass of people together to get labour a few pence lower—recklessly, and without the slightest feeling for the ultimate condition of those persons. The farmer, on the contrary, being much more among his labouran, having habits of kindly intercourse with them, was necessarily re- strained by many considerations from running down wages to so low a pitch as the manufacturer.

The whole speculation of the advantage of repeal, he maintained, rested upon the assumption that only the more productive classes of soils would be continued under cultivation— A large portion of the inferior soils would undoubtedly be thrown out of cultivation, and there would also be a very great falling off in the state of cul- tivation of the remainder. The present expensive cultivation, the outlay for artificial manure, the great expense of draining, which was now so extensively going on, could not be maintained in competition with the cheaper cultivation of foreign countries. If they inquired into the state of labour in those coun- tries, they would find that wages were not one half of what they were in this country. Ilow could the cultivators of this country stand competition with the labourers working at 4d. a day in Mecklenburg and the North of Ger- many? The farmers could not stand it without reducing their labourers to the low diet which was common abroad.

The proposed change would require many preparatory measures : the Tithe Commutation Act would have to be altered, leases would have to be altered, and perhaps an " equitable arrangement" would have to be resorted to. The intended duty of 8s. would be very op- pressive on the poor in seasons of scarcity. The authority of all great practical politicians was against abstract theories in political economy ; but if they removed these restrictions at all, they should act consist- ently, and throw open trade generally.

The conversation dropped.

, The question was again mooted on Tuesday. The Earl of RADNOR referred to some arguments used by the Earl of Ripon, founded on the assumed increase of exports— The real value of the exports in 1840 was below the value of 1839 by the sum of 1,816,000/. And if there had been a general increase since 1829, it had not been sound. The official value, by which articles are rated in the Customhouse-books, was fixed one hundred and fifty or one hundred and sixty years ago, and only demonstrated the quantity of the article exported; but the declared value represented the real value of the article. To come then to a right understanding of the subject, they must look to the difference of the ratio between the official value and the declared value. Now, the official value or quantity had increased in a much greater ratio than the declared or real value ; and that was a proof, not that the manufacturers were prospering, but that the pressure of distress, occasioned by a high price of provisions, weighed heavily on them. But Lord Radnor wished principally to call attention to the argu- ment that a great country ought, under all circumstances, to provide for its own subsistence— He would ask whether any country, at any period in ancient or molem times, pretended to proceed on the principle of growing corn for its own con- atunption ? It was notorious that this was not the case with reference to ancient states. Greece was supplied with corn from Sicily, and Rome drew her supplies from Sicily and Egypt. This country, in the first half of the last century, was an exporting country ; but during the last half it was the reverse: about 1750, exportation diminished, and from 1770 this was almost constantly an importing country ; and the importation of corn under the present act infi- nitely exceeded what had taken place at any former time. Had the greatness and power of the country been at all diminished in consequence of the importa- tion of foreign corn ? It was notorious that the exporting country was always the poor country : Ireland was an exporting country ; Scotland had ceased to be an exporting and had become an importing country.

The Earl of RIPON said, he had only shown that there had been no decrease in the exports, as throwing, prima facie, a doubt upon the ex- tent of the alleged distress among the manufacturers. There was a variety of elements in the construction of price which ought to be taken into consideration. The effects could not be overlooked of that power- ful machine the steam-engine, of the substitution of the labour of females and children for that of adult men, and of the currency. He always regarded a corn-law as a choice of evils, the balance of difficulties lying on the side of no protection ; and the present law had in fact been less stringent than it was intended to be— He had been accused of introducing a law for fixing the price of wheat at 80s., which ground down the poor on the one hand and deceived the farmer on the other. Now, the object of the law was to make the maximum and not the minimum price ks. ; and how stood the fact ? The average price for the seven years that followed the passing of that law was 69s. 11d. ; and in the years 1816 and 1817 were the worst harvests ever known in this country. In 1816 the harvest was deficient all over Europe. In 1822 the law was altered, to which alteration he was a consenting party, and the maximum price was fixed at 70s. instead of 80s. During the eleven years which succeeded, the average price was only 58s. 9d.; and the adoption of the present law, instead of fixing the price of wheat at 63s. or 65s., had rendered the average price only 57s. 7d.

The Earl of RADNOR observed, that in 1817 the price of wheat was 109s. The Earl of RIPON explained, that he had spoken of the average price for a number of years. After some further conversation, Lord ASHBURTON supporting the law and the Marquis of LANSDOWNE opposing it, the Duke of WEL- LINGTON deprecated these repeated discussions upon partial grounds, as serving only to increase the irritation of the country. The conversa- tion shortly after dropped.


Mr. E A STHOPE, on Tuesday, introduced to the House of Commons his bill for the abolition of church-rates. He quoted several authorities to show that the necessity of the measure had been recognized so long ago as 1834— In that year Lord Althorp brought forward a motion for the settlement of the question • declaring church-rates grievous to Dissenters and unsatisfactory to members Of the Established Church, and drawing a distinction between the maintenance of tithes and of church-rates. In the same debate, Lord Stanley acknowledged church-rates to be a serious and substantial grievance, and de- precated a desecration of the House of God by squabbles about church-rates at each succeeding Easter. Sir Robert Peel said in 1835, that had he been in office he should have attempted to effect the settlement of the question; fait as it was, he adopted the principle of Lord Althorp. And in April 1834, Mr. Charles Wynne told the House that nothing like an evasion of the question could mitigate the existing dissatisfaction ; and he predicted that the spirit of opposition to church-rates, "inflamed both by religious animosity and personal pecuniary interest, would progressively spread itself to a much more formidable extent."

Mr. Easthope then adverted to irregularities in the application of church-rates, such as the payment of a clergyman's salary out of them at Dover, which is at present the subject of litigation ; an individual in humble circumstances being in prison for resisting the rate on the ground of that misappropriation. Lord Althorp had shown in 1834 that much of the revenue derived from church-rates, then amounting to 560,000/., was expended in a very questionable manner, and might be saved by prudent management. Sir Robert Inglis had declared, in re- ference to Maynooth College, that he never would voluntarily pay towards a system of religion from which he conscientiously differed : surely the same rule ought to be extended to others. To prove the public sympathy existing on the subject, Mr. Easthope mentioned that Mr. William Baines had been unanimously elected to a vacancy in Leicester Corporation whilst in prison for non-payment of church. rates. Would it be politic to continue the existing strife upon the subject ?—

Why, at this moment, legal proceedings were pending in relation to no fewer than the following places—Braintree, Bradford, Headcorn, Sutton Valence, Hackney, Brentford, Portsea, Weymouth, Dover, Ringwood, Bedford, Hayes, Wivenhoe, Lancaster, Great Yarmouth, Abergavenny. Not only had church- rates been extinguished in large populous towns, but in places of minor import- ance situated in rural districts, where the influence of the parochial clergy might be supposed to be most powerful. Who could suppose that the kindly intercourse which ought to be the companion and helpmate of religious instruc- tion could coexist with hostile and irritating proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Courts ? Families were alarmed at the threat of heavy costs ; their minds from day to day were occupied with the dread of possible incarceration, and their feelings were perpetually irritated and excited by being required to pay that which their consciences told them they ought to refuse.

Referring to Sir Nicholas Tindal's incidental remark in the Brain- tree case, that the Churchwardens could enforce a rate though the parishioners refused to make one, Mr. Easthope cited on the other side the authority of the Attorney-General ; who said that the Church- wardens undoubtedly could levy a rate on their own respousibility if the parishioners did not assemble to consider it; for then the Church- wardens must be taken to constitute the Vestry ; but that no church- rate could be enforced without the consent of the majority of the Vestry, however constituted. By his bill, however, Mr. Easthope pro- posed to remove the cause of discontent, and to provide a substitute for the maintenance of the Church— He would abolish church-rates, and empower the members of the Establish- ment to rate themselves in respect of pews and seats, for the repair and sup- port of the buildings in which their worship was conducted. Ile was aware that there was another subject of some difficulty in connexion with this ques- tion in respect to churches built by funds derived from mortgage. Nobody could be so wild as to wish to violate the faith of Parliament, and this point might be a fit matter for consideration by a Committee. Of course, where in- dividuals Lai advanced money on the faith of acts of Parliament, it would be impossible to interfere with their rights, or to apply the proposed law until the money had been repaid.

Lord MORPETH said, he should raise no objection on the part of Government to the introduction of the bill. Ministers were perfectly alive to the evils of the present system, and its practical results ; but they would not consent to leave the maintenance of the parish-church a mere matter of chance and option ; and Mr. Easthope's bill provided no substitute for the deficiency which might arise from the total abo- lition of church-rates. He should not therefore pledge himself to its

provisions; but he felt bound to take into consideration every proposi- tion for the settlement of the question.

Sir ROBERT Nous said, the provision proposed as a substitute for Church-rates, was as vain and illusory as the worst enemies of the Church could desire. He censured the Government for assenting to the introduction of a bill which could never reach a second reading ; and intimated a belief that this assent was given with a view to the present crisis. To show that the representations of popular interest on the subject were much exaggerated, he said that he found, out of 13,000 parishes in the country, but fourteen in which there were any lawsuits. Until the law of the question had been definitively settled, he thought it very unadvisable that Parliament should interfere. Mr. GouLnunit would not oppose the introduction of the bill ; though he would not sanction its provisions, which went to impose taxation upon all who went regularly to church. Mr. PLUMP'FRE likewise would not oppose the first reading.

Dr. LUSHINGTON pronounced it impossible that the law could continue in its present state. Whatever the issue of the Braintree case might be, he agreed with the Chief Justice, that church-rates were at this moment a legal tax, and that they could be by law enforced. They were esta- blished at a time when all the population of the country belonged to the Church, and were retained at the period of the Reformation. The Dissenters now considered this state of things a hardship, and in this feeling runny Churchmen participated ; and their grievances ought to be redressed.

After some further debate, leave was given to bring in the bill.


Mr. THOMAS DUNCOMBE, on Tuesday, presented a mass of petitions praying for the immediate release of all political prisoners ; for a free pardon to Frost, Williams, and Jones ; and for the adoption of the prin- ciples of the Charter by Parliament. The largest of these petitions, he said, was signed by more than 1,300,000 individuals ; but there were other petitions from different parts of the country, bearing 48,848 sig- natures. The large petition was a huge roll, which two strong men would scarcely have been able to lift from the ground : when, therefore, the Speaker invited Mr. Duncombe to "bring it up," the imitation drew a • smile from those who heard it, and he replied that he feared "the will must be taken for the deed."

Colonel SIBTHORPE moved that the prayer of the petition be read. Mr. DUNCOMBE explained that the prayer was identical with that of a smaller petition, which might more conveniently be read : but Colonel SIBTHORPE persisted, and the Clerk actually began to unrol the huge folds of the petition, when Sir ROBERT PEEL interfered, recommend- ing that Mr. Duncombe's suggestion should be taken. Lord Joau RUSSELL could not but see that Colonel Sibthorpe wanted to make a jest of the petitions. Colonel SIBTHORPE treated Lord John's admonition, as he did his public conduct, with sovereign contempt ; but he bowed to Sir Robert's recommendation.

Mr. DUNCOMBE proceeded to move an address to the Queen, praying that the case of all persons confined for political offences in England and Wales might be taken into her merciful consideration. He was well aware of the difficulties of the course which he proposed, especially as to finding a precedent exactly in point ; but he instanced the case of Sir Manasseh Lopez, who had been convicted by the House of Commons of bribery, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment : Lord John Rus- sell moved that offender's release ; Mr. Wynn, Lord Castlereagh, and Mr. Canning, who opposed the motion, admitted the right of the House to advise the Crown in the exercise of its prerogative: the motion was withdrawn ; but Sir Manasseh was liberated before the expiration of his sentence. As Mr. Leader's motion last year for the liberation of Frost, Williams, and Jones, had been rejected by a large majority, Mr. Duncombe wished the present motion to be consi- dered merely in reference to the home prisoners. They had already suffered severely ; while the petitioners drew a contrast between the severity exercised towards those prisoners and the leniency shown to others, such as Lord Waldegrave and Captain Duff. In mentioning the name of the latter, which was also mentioned in the petition, however, Mr. Duncombe stated that some friends of the Captain had sent him a note declaring his innocence of the grave part of the charge for which he was sentenced, but that consideration for others had prevented his proving it on the trial ; and that the whole of the case was now under- going a thorough investigation with a view to his exculpation : so Mr. Duncombe did not wish his case to be prejudiced by the allegations of the petition. The treatment of the political off nders had created mach excitement in the public mind ; and how could it be otherwise ?— From the 1st January 1839, there were 444 individuals convicted of political offences. Of these' 12 had been transported, 398 bad been released, 1 had died soon after his confinement, and 33 were remaining in prison. What had tended chiefly to excite public sympathy, was the accounts which the 398 men who had been released had given to their friends of the indignities and cruelties to which they were subjected during their confinement. Many of those who had been released bad been so chiefly on the ground of extreme ill health. One of them, named Hoey, had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Wakefield House of Correction ; but he remained there but one year : lie was liberated in consequence of an ulcer in his lee, which was brought on by cruelty and bad diet ; and he bad becomes confirmed invalid for theremaiuderof his life, though be never had a day's illness before he went into gaol. While there, the inmates were made to rise at half-past five o'clock in the morning and go into an open yard, where one bucket of water was made to serve for the washing of fifty individuals; and the towels were never fit for use after the third or fourth person had washed. The allowance was one pint of gruel and half a pound of bread for breakfast, dinner, and supper ; on Sundays five ounces of meat were allowed. The most cruel restraint was imposed upon the prisoners, so that they could not attend to the most imperative wants without permission of the keeper ; and for the slightest deviation from that rule the miserable supper would be stopped, and solitary confinement added for a repetition of the offence. Another person, released after suffering mach from illness, was compelled to find bail to the amount of 700/.; more could not have been re- (faired of Sir Francis Burdett. Mr. Duncombe contrasted such treatment with that shown to horse- stealers and forgers : felons, when released from prison, were never asked to enter into any surety to keep the peace. • Mr. Fox MAULE bore testimony to the manner in which the peti- tioners, whatever their faults might formerly have been, had conducted themselves during the late months of privation and suffering ; a manner which insured them the respect of their countrymen. He did not,

however, think that the case of Sir Manasseh Lopez had much hearing upon that before the House ; and while he admitted the right of the House to advise the Crown in the exercise of the prerogative, he doubted the expediency of interfering frequently, or under any but the most urgent circumstances, If the House were to interfere in special cases, he feared that parties out of doors might be encouraged to the commis- sion of offences under the hope of impunity. Had Government ma- nifested any disposition to interfere with the right of meeting in public, and to prevent the people from making known their grievances, there might have been some excuse for the proceedings of 1839 and 1840; bat there was no such excuse. It was hardly just to call high treason and serious breaches of the peace by the mild term of "political offences." Out of 450 cases connected with Chartism, and of which 379 had been followed by conviction, not one of the offenders had suffered the extreme penalty of the law ; and the punishment had in no case exceeded in severity the sentence of the Judge or the requirements of prison-regulations. Mr. Maule explained, with reference to the case of Hoey, that he had only been kept to the tread-wheel for a fortnight, and that afterwards he had merely been required to keep a part of the prison clean. Captain Duff's punishment, on the other hand, had been more severe than his sentence ; for he had twice been passed over when he would have received promotion had he not been in prison. Mr. Maule hoped that Mr. Duncombe would not oblige him to vote against the motion.

Mr. O'CONNELL declared that the end of punishment had been an- swered, in the pacification of the country ; he should therefore vote with Mr. Duncombe. He put in a word by the way for Ireland ; where there were no political offenders, so that they had no peed to ask for mercy.

Mr. LEADER touched anew upon the contrast in the law as applied to the rich and to the poor—

This feeling was justified by the results which had followed the trial of Lord

Cardigan in the House of Peers, and of Lord Waldegrave and Captain Duff before another tribunal. Compare their sentences with that suffered by Lovett and Collins. The latter had endured all the horrors of the stringent rules of a Warwick gaol; while Lord Waldegrave and his friend were outside the walls of the Queen's Bench Prison, entertaining their friends, and suffering no other inconvenience than being prevented attending the Derby. The motion was supported by Mr. Gittor.i, Mr. HUME, Mr. WAR-

BURTON, and Mr. WAKLEY. Sir ROBERT PEEL cautioned the House, lest any one should vote for the motion on the ground that the Crown was not already bound to consider the circumstances of every case of this nature ; or that the motion was limited to a consideration of the case instead of being virtually for the discharge of the prisoners. The prerogative of mercy was one whose unfettered influence could only be constitutionally vested in the Crown ; and it would be establishing a most dangerous precedent if popular assemblies should interfere with respect to measures of the kind. The motion was then supported successively by Mr. EASTHOPE, Sir DE LACY EVANS, Sir BENJAMIN Ham., and Mr. AGLIONRY. Lord SANDON conceived that nothing could he more dangerous, on the eve of an election, than the use of such a question as the means of canvassing for votes. Lord Jona: RossEEL considered that motions of this nature were calculated rather to injure than advance the cause they were intended to serve. He felt the diffi- culty arising from such a course as that now pursued in the case of the Dorchester labourers : in revising the case, to ascertain what it was which induced the Judges to pass the sentence, circumstances inclined him to send it back for revision ; but the position of Government was rendered very difficult by the motion which was subsequently made in the House ; and he had stated that if the question were carried he should not advise the Crown to exercise its prerogative. Colonel Sni- THORPE opposed the motion. Mr. WARD reminded Lord Sandon, that the petition had been in process of signature for several months, and could not therefore have been presented with a view to a proximate dissolution.

On a division, the numbers were equal-58 on each side ; and the Speaker gave his casting-vote against the motion, in order to support the Crown's prerogative.


SCHOOL-RATE. Mr. SLANEY, on Tuesday, obtained leave to bring in bill to enable the rate-payers of rural parishes to make a school-rate for the education of the children of the poorer classes.

Mn. M•LEon's CASE. On Monday, in the House of Commons, Lord JOHN RUSSELL corrected a misstatement which be had made on a former evening : the proceedings in Mr. M‘Leocts case were to be removed, not into a Federal Court, but into the Supreme Court of the State of New York, by writ of habeas corpus; and the 3d of this month was the day fixed for the purpose.

DnoPPEn Bui.s. The following important bills were " dropped " by the Government on Monday ; the Poor-law Amendment Bill, the Right of Voting Bill, the Registration of Voters (England) Bill, and the Drain- age of Towns Bill.

BRIBERY AT ELECTIONS. Lord JOHN RUSSELL obtained leave, On Thursday, to bring in a bill for the prevention of bribery at elections,