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instanced this as evidence of the sentiments entertained. The honourable member for Essex (Mr Baring) might rest assured that the paper just quoted came from the hand of no mean authority; and it was no trifling matter, for the prosperity of a large portion of the people of this country depended on it.
He would now come to the question more immediately before the house, as to the mode of settling the question of the corn laws, by referring the point of a fixed or a fluctuating duty to the consideration of a committee. He found, that all the arguments he heard alleged against such a course, resolved themselves almost entirely into one. The argument made use of by the committee in their report, the argument of his right honourable friend (Sir James Graham), that of the noble earl, the member for Shropshire, (the Earl of Darlington), were all meant to shew, that a fluctuating scale of duties produced a fixity of prices. He found that the noble lord (the Earl of Darlington) had withdrawn the amendment of which he had given notice, and which was to declare, that a fluctuating scale of duties was better than any other scale of duties that could be framed. He (Mr C. P. Thomson) was glad to find that the noble lord had done so. He did not believe that the house would have been induced to assent to such a resolution; but if it consented to such a resolution, it would fairly be entitled to be put on a footing with that House of Commons that declared that a one pound note and a shilling of a depreciated currency were equivalent to a guinea, which was selling at the time for 27s. or 28s. The noble lord's motion had been withdrawn; and he begged to recall the attention of the house to what the question before them really was. It must be considered to be this, and nothing else: was the present scale, as applied to corn, preferable to a fixed duty : He agreed with those who said, that the object of the honourable member for Middlesex was not to impose a precisely fixed duty, but the principle of his proposition rested upon that basis. It certainly was true— and he wished to call attention to the fact—that the honourable member for Middlesex did not desire, in affirming his motion, to pledge the house to the imposition and continuance of any fixed duty. The exact terms of the motion were these:—“That the house do resolve itself into a committee of the whole house for the purpose of considering the corn laws, (9 George IV., cap. 60), and of substituting, instead of the present graduated scale of duties, a fixed and moderate duty on the import, at all times, of foreign corn into the United Kingdom, and for granting a fixed and equivalent bounty on the export of corn from the United Kingdom.”
Now that, he would submit, was not to be considered by any means as binding the house to any particular amount of duty, to any rate or mode of imposing such duty, or to any scale according to which it might be increased or diminished; all these considerations were very properly left to the committee;. they were now only called upon to decide between a fixed and a fluctuating duty. Having thus far proceeded with the question, he should beg leave to ask honourable members, as well on the one side of the house as on the other, what constituted the main argument in support of the present system : It was founded upon this:—that the varying scale of duty produced fixity of prices. If there was anything which could be said in an especial degree to form the great, and, as it was esteemed, the conclusive argument, in support of the system, it was this; yet he believed there was not a man living who, ossessing an ordinary share of understanding, and applying #. mind, free from prejudice, and with an earnest desire to ascertain the truth, who would not candidly declare, that the facts did not support any such conclusion. For his part, he found it impossible to avoid giving the flattest denial to the assertion, that the operation of that varying scale was to produce fixity of price. His right honourable friend, in arguing this point last night, had made a quotation from a letter of Mr Huskisson's. He (Mr C. P. Thomson) had cheered him, not for the reason that his right honourable friend then supposed, but on an entirely different ground. His right honourable friend quoted the opinion of Mr Huskisson, with the view of shewing that that distinguished statesman approved of the corn law of 1828, whereas the letter had reference to the corn law of 1827. He (Mr C. P. Thomson) should have been much surprised if the late Mr Huskisson had expressed himself in such terms of approbation of the corn law of 1828; and if he did so, he must have changed his opinion at a much later period. For the memory of Mr Huskisson he entertained the profoundest respect: unconnected as he was with him in politics, he (Mr Huskisson) had been to him an object of admiration; but honoured as he had been, when a very young man in parliament, by his kindness and advice, he became one of esteem and attachment; and he (Mr C. P. Thomson) should be most ungrateful, did he not speak of him with the highest respect, in terms of the sincerest regard. When looking to the sentiments expressed by that distinguished man, the circumstances under which they were delivered ought to be borne in mind. Mr Huskisson was, at that time, defending himself before his constituents, for not having gone the length of a total prohibition. On such an occasion, surely it was natural that he should use the most specious arguments that presented themselves. He did not mean to imply that he insincerely used them; but it was unfair to bind a man to certain opinions he had expressed, if he had subsequently honestly withdrawn them. He should, therefore, call the attention of the house to what were the later opinions of Mr Huskisson, when he had arrived at maturity in his opinions, and at independence; and when he was no longer looking to the attainment of the same objects he had in view when he wrote that letter. The Earl of Darlington asked if the right honourable gentleman meant to cast an imputation on the character of Mr Huskisson : Mr Poulett Thomson said, he would be the last man in that house to throw the slightest imputation on the character of Mr Huskisson ; and he had no doubt whatever but that he entertained the opinions expressed in the letter at the time he wrote it. The opinions of Mr Huskisson, which he should quote, were expressed on the 25th of March, 1830, two years after the corn law of 1828 had come into operation, and were as follow:—“It was his unalterable conviction, that they could not uphold the existing corn laws with the existing taxation, and increase the national prosperity, or preserve public contentment; that those laws might be repealed, without affecting the landed interest, while the people would be relieved from their distress, he never had any doubt whatever.” Here, then, was the answer he should give to the declaration of Mr Huskisson, quoted by his right honourable friend. It was the opinion of the same statesman, when it might be considered that his sentiments on the subject had been more matured. But what, after all, did the letter of Mr Huskisson state : It found fault principally with the alterations that had been made in the policy of the country in 1765; and it declared, that, for a long time, the country had been pursuing a vicious course of policy. It stated, that a free trade in corn would be detrimental to all interests, by producing fluctuation, and rendering this country dependent upon foreigners for its supply. Now, how far Mr Huskisson had changed his opinion on the subject, he (Mr C. P. Thomson) had already shewn. But he would bring against Mr Huskisson another authority, who had answered him so completely, and had referred to so many facts, and had gone into such exact calculations, and had adduced such important arguments on the subject, that it would be unnecessary for him (Mr C. P. Thomson) to do more than request the atten
tion of the house whilst he referred to a few passages. They were from a work that he would recommend to the attention of every honourable member in that house; and he was sure that his right honourable friend would not be inclined to undervalue it. The book he alluded to was entitled “Free Trade in Corn the real Interest of the Landowner and the true Policy of the State;” by a Cumberland landowner. He (Mr C. P. Thomson) was anxious to refer to that work, because he found his own opinions and sentiments expressed in much better language, and in a much more forcible manner, than he could put them. With respect to the alteration made in the year 1765, he found this passage:—“Since the year 1765, at which time a great alteration was made in our corn laws, the supply of British corn, cattle, &c., and of almost every other sort of merchandise, has increased most amazingly.” Further on, he found the same writer proceeding to say—“We have, then, the most conclusive evidence, founded on facts and experience, that neither an extraordinary increase in the supply of labour, nor of corn, has been followed by a fall of prices; on the contrary, they have been nearly doubled; and were more than doubled between the years 1780 and 1806, when the trade in foreign corn was most free, and our foreign commerce most prosperous.” He (Mr C. P. Thomson) could not help saying, that he had been delighted to find, when he wanted an answer to Mr Huskisson's letter, that he could refer to so able an authority as the writer of that book. When he had such weapons at hand, he did not want any other armoury to go to. He would read another extract from the pamphlet, in answer to Mr Huskisson's remark, that a free trade in corn would be detrimental to all interests. “To propose to enrich a nation by forcing a permanent scarcity of corn, and by obstructing the natural course of trade, is, indeed, at variance with common sense. The consequences cannot be mistaken: —the embarrassment of our shipping, mercantile, and manufacturing interests—want of employment, and desperate poverty among the labouring population—an increase of crime, and a tendency to emigration—a loss of our currency, and a fall of the prices of labour and of corn—a diminution of the public revenue, and a derangement of the public finances— and, more than all, the certain eventual ruin of the agricultural interest itself—these are the bitter fruits of a blind and selfish policy, rapaciously grasping at undue gain, and losing hold of advantages placed within its power.” In another place, this writer contrasted the state of Poland with that of England in these terms:—“When England, the land of marine affairs and of commerce, and the best workshop or manufactory in the world, attempted to sell corn in opposition to Poland, a country in want of these advantages, she perverted the natural order of trade; she sold that which it was most profitable for her to buy ; and, destroying the means of her natural customers to buy what it was most profitable for her to sell, she artificially lowered the prices of every description of merchandise throughout the long period of sixty-four years. So much for the crusade against the natural order of commerce. No sooner, however, was a sound system of trade in corn adopted, and large importations made, than the medium price of middling corn again rose most rapidly. As a proof how remarkable the freedom of the corn trade had a happy re-action on the general commerce and manufactures of the kingdom, Dr Adam Smith has observed —that “the Yorkshire manufacture declined, and its produce did not rise to what it had been in 1755 and 1766.’” But the author of the pamphlet did not stop here: he was not satisfied with Dr Adam Smith's observations, and he proceeded to say—“So far Dr Smith simply notices the fact, but he appears to have overlooked the cause. He points out the revival of our trade, and fixes the date of this amendment; but he has failed to recognise its precise coincidence with the change in our corn laws, and with the commencement of the free importation of foreign grain into this country. Till 1815 the corn trade was free, and commerce prospered. In that ill-fated year the prohibitory system became operative; and as in 1766 trade and manufactures revived precisely at the moment when the restrictions on the import of foreign corn were removed, so, in 1815, when these restrictions were again imposed, commerce languished, manufactures failed, and universal distress overspread the land.” Before he laid down the pamphlet, which he then held in his hand, he should say, that it contained the most satisfactory answer both to the quotation from Mr Huskisson's letter, and to the speech delivered last night by his right honourable friend." It might be matter of taste; but he confessed he should much rather take the opinions of the Cumberland landlord than anything that might proceed upon the subject, even from Mr Huskisson himself. He would now proceed to the question of fluctuations. Now how did that matter stand : He would ask, whether there had really been, as had been asserted. by almost all the honourable gentlemen who had opposed the motion, that there had been less fluctuation in the price of