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discouragement of importation had pro- war, permanent in time of peace-if, duced no inconvenience in the metro- indeed, they were to have peace. Sup. polis. It had been asserted, that the ex. pose it were conceded that it was a wise perience of the early part of the last system of legislation to encourage one century afforded a strong argument in species of industry at the expense of favour of a similar system for the present others, in opposition to the common sense day. That was a point which rested of mankind; was it expedient to adopt a partly on experience of the past, and permanent system, a system calculated partly on the opinions of men supposed to operate for twenty years on this the io be peculiarly qualified to come to an most important of all subjects, in a situaaccurate conclusion on the subject; and tion in which nothing else was permanent, no doubt the opinions of such men ought when they knew not whether they were to be asked, and received with respect to have peace or war; or even, if they and attention. But though they were to were to enjoy the blessings of peace, refuse to listen to the opinions of these when they knew not in what condition petitioners, would their lordships refuse malters were likely to settle and rest 1 io hear them state . facts, which it was To legislate on such a subject, under such most material for their lordships to know, circumstances, was, he must say, very before they finally decided a question of little becoming the wisdom and dignity this magnitude ? The period to which he of Parliament. On the subject of the had adverted was not so remote as to manner in which the average price was render it impossible to bring forward facts calculated, he should not attempt to add relating to it as connected with this any thing to what had been said by a system. The latter period, from 1766 to noble friend of bis ; but he must advert the present time, was certainly not too to the answer given by another noble remote. With respect to that at least, friend, that this average price of 80s. many important facts might be communi- was not the result of minute inquiry, and cated; and could their lordships refuse to careful and certain calculation, but founded listen to them? In considering how the upon an arbitrary guess. Good God, laws on this subject had operated, in en. what an expression, when applied to such couraging or discouraging importation, a subject as this !-an arbitrary guess from how far the average price corresponded the opinions of a few witnesses, without with the natural price of corn, with other proof or calculation. Half a dozen witmatters most important to be ascertained nesses bad given their opinions as to what

to what could their lordships resort but appeared to them to be a proper price, the evidence of facts and experience and the average was struck out of these It had been said, that though there was opinions. But their lordships were bound no necessity at present to legislate on this to be satisfied by some strong proof as to subject, the measure would be productive what was the proper average with relation of much good at a future period. On to the present price and the general what ground did that opinion rest? If it quantity now raised. It was idle to ask rested on the dearness of grain during the any particular farmer at what price he last twenty years, how could they know could raise corn. It depended on the whether this was a good ground to rest county, on the parish, on the nature of upon, without an examination of facts ? the farm, and the nature of the different Ii surely ought to be shown, that the kinds of land on the same farm. With dearness of corn was owing to the bad respect to the witnesses who had given effects of the principle acted upon during their opinions respecting the price at the period in question. If the inconve. which corn could be raised, those opinience was serious and lamentable, their nions always had a reference to the time lordships ought to inquire whether the at which the question was asked, and the evil had resulted from the check imposed charges of cultivation at that particular by the war upon importation, or from the period. All the witnesses, either directly supposed discouragement of agriculture. or indirectly, so qualified their opinions. If it should appear that the dearness If, then, the time was so sludiously of corn had been the effect of the difficul taken into account in giving these opie ties thrown in the way of importation, it nions, where was the proof that bewould be then for their lordships to con- cause 80s. might be a proper average at sider whether they ought to render that one period, it was therefore a proper inconvenience which arose from a state of average price now? If the charges of


cultivation were diminished, why should capital, British or otherwise, was directed not a lower average answer the purpose ? to foreign manufactures, what means they

They had now on their table, among other had of fuel, what skill of machinery. He valuable information, a table of charges, believed, in the latter point at least, there and he defied any man to examine that was no deficiency in what was called our table, without being convinced from the rival' nation. Philosophically speaking, nature of the charges, that they must be he could not desire that a knowledge of very much reduced by the diminution in mechanics should belong only to one the price of corn. This proved the neces- nation. The great question was, would sity, if they meant to fix the proper you refuse to inquire into the allegations average, of much more minute and accu. of the petitioners coming forward to prove rate information, and for that reason they that their allegations were founded ?' His ought not to legislate on such general lordship then moved, "that the petitioners grounds. He deprecated any interference be permitted to give evidence, and to be whatever; but if the average had been heard by counsel at the bar of the House." named before with reference to the charges

The Lord Chancellor said, that in every of cultivation at the time, why did they view of the present question as connected not now proceed on the same principle? with the petitioners, and as involving Lord Grenville then proceeded to speak manufacturing interests, he was inclined of the assize. On- that subject he had to attribute to it great importance: but in been told, that under the present system all its views, he must speak his fair opinion 80 shillings for corn would make the loaf upon it; and he should speak that with16d. A noble earl (Liverpool) denied out considering the consequences to which that, and seemed to think he could support he might be subjected, and to which, in. bis denial by proof-[hear!) Well, then, deed, he had been subjected long before why not allow of the matter's being tried this discussion. In this free country, God by proof at the bar ? Bread was now 11/d. forbid that any reasonable petition should the quartern loaf, and the average at 635. not be received: God forbid that any It was hard to conceive, that if the average should be rejected with disdain. The rose to 80s. bread would not be more than House would, in himself, hear a man who a shilling. All this was matter of proof. had lived through the most trying times The pressure on manufactures was to be of the country; and he would declare that examined ; that was also matter of proof, he bad always seen the petitions of the and on those thingsevidence was adducible. subject received with attention by that It was expedient to look carefully into the House, and their merits then decided on effect of the price of bread on the rate of by the judgment of that House alone, Jabour, and that again on the dearness of They could recur to no other standard. manufactures, as influencing their recep- The House, must be the final judge, and tion in the foreign market.

He had some on its own discretion too. It was the only time since received a table, stating this true and constitutional mode : but if that inquiry in a particular point of view. He mode were once given up, from that had desired the idea to be enlarged, and moment the country was given up; but believed he should have received the im- that moment, he for one, would not wish proved table from the person in question, to survive. It was to him of no considera. but for the hurry of the Bill. He had, tion whether the Bill was to serve the however, this day, on coming to the manufacturing or the agricultural interest House, received from another person, a - to satisfy him, its benefits must be general. table of the nature he mentioned: he had of the language that had been used on this not had time to make himself master of it, subject, he could not belp saying, though but it doubtless contained much important without allusion to whom it might have information. This qught not to be ex. been used, or without pointing to this cluded from their lordships means of House, or the other, or the City, that that knowledge. The table gave the altera- language was not calculated in general to tions of the value of bread for twenty-six work the ends of a true and solid delibeyears, with the contemporary alterations ration. From all this, heats and disturbin the cheapness of manufactures. A noble ance must arise. As to petitions, it was earl (Liverpool) had said that our superi- the practice of the House to attend to ority in manufactures depended on our them, but not to such a degree as to para. capital, fuel, and machinery. Inquiry lyse its judgment. There were points on might be directed to shew how much which it would allow of no interference ; (VOL. XXX, )


and this was done without infringing the pose, that the Legislature could ever have rights of the subject. No petitions, for sanctioned practices so directly subversive instance, were allowed on Tax Bills: as to of its main uses. If one petition, comthe Corn Bill, the House must decide on plaining generally of a principle, was to their own judgment. The majorities on be listened to, why not listen to all that it were greater than he had ever seen; might be offered > He would turn to the and after this declared sense of the House, noble lord himself: no man possessed a how could he persuade himself that the larger share of parliamentary experience, noble lord was not acting against his and he would ask him, had he ever met better judgment? How could the city of with a fact of the kind to sustain his preLondon be heard by counsel against the sent application ? Had he been able to Bill? It was against the rules of the prop it up with a single precedent? As to House. He would suppose nothing of the himself, he had sat on that woolsack 13 past session, nothing of the present, but years, and he would not be fit to sit an ibat this was the second reading-and hour longer there, if he could not decide that the city of London petitioned. The this. His experience necessarily furnished rules and practices of the House were him with the history of a multitude of bills against the petitions being received. These and petitions, and he had never seen one rules and practices, the ler et consuetudo received when it did not turn on particular parliamenti, were among the safeguards injaries received. General interests, in of the constitution, and they could not be which the whole community had an equal violated with impunity. He said nothing share, were not soffered to come into those of this from disregard of the City. He petitions. As to the phrase of rejecting had a great respect for it as a body, the petition, or any petition, with disdain, much regard for many of its members: it expressed no idea of his; but he could he had received much attention from it. not allow himself, in matters of right, to But to all petitions in the same spirit and distinguish between corporation and corsubstance as the petition of the City, he poration, or corporation and individual. must oppose the rules of the House. He He considered every man coming to that knew that the number of petitions against bar as a respectable Briton, and to be re. the Bill was almost unexampled. The lieved as far as its rules might allow. number of petitions for it was yet nearly Now, if the petition was not to be susas numerous ; the signatures were not in- tained on authority and precedent, on deed as many, but that might be owing what was it to be sustained ? He must to obvious causes. But the point on which give his negative to the motion. To sup. his consent must turn was, whether the port the rules of the House, was actually petition on the table complained of certain to support the constitution, of which they and specific injuries. Did it point out were among the safeguards. what manufacturers would suffer; did it Earl Grey could not help feeling con speak in the name of the injured indivi- siderable surprise at the speech which he duals? No; he could find nothing but had just heard. The matter of it was opinions upon the general principle of the most new to him, and the agitation under Bill. If this was allowed as a sufficient wbich it had been delivered made it still claim for the hearing of counsel, why must more peculiar. But he must, however, not Bristol be heard, why must not Bir- reluctantly, advert to the address made to mingham, why not Cheltenham, why a noble duke near him. That noble pernot, in fact, every town in the kingdom? son had been told, that all peers were [The duke of Gloucester here expressed equal. Certainly, whatever might be the some dissent. ] “ The noble duke,” said cause of the declaration, there was no the Lord Chancellor, “ cries, Hear! I wish man in that House who stood Jess in need he would hear, and I now tell him, that as of it: those who had the honour of being I think all petitioners equal, I know all in habits of intercourse with that noble peers to be so." He then proceeded. If person, were fully acquainted with that they were to hear the petitions of the City truth; and there was perbaps no peer against agriculture, why not hear those of among their dordships in whom the conagriculture in turn? Their bar might be sciousness of high rank was less obvious thus perpetually occupied by debating and obtrusive. The noble lord had disupon general principles. The greater puted the petition on the ground of its occupations and duties of the House must generality. He said he would consider be at an end. It was impossible to sup- the Bill as one, then before their lorda

But was

ships for the first time. The value of borious class of the city. But this petithis concession was nothing. The peti- tion must not be taken alone; the injuries tioners might in any stage of the Bill were distinctly stated in a petition of the desire to be heard. That noble lord had Mayor, Aldermen, and Common-council, said, that if one city had a right to be in March. It slated, that raising the heard by counsel, so had all the rest. price of bread raised the expense of maNo doubt of it. So they all had. If Lon- nufacturing labour. The present petition don had a right, so had Bristot. It was was coupled by direct reference with the perfectly certain, that if they had a right former, and it came to their lordships bar to complain, they had a right to be heard. asking to be heard by counsel to the comHe was told, that thus the House would be plaints already detailed. He could conovercome with petitions: but was this in- ceive nothing that came more within the capable of remedy? Was it not possible rules of the House. But was the practice to tell the petitioners that the matter of to be actually adopted of narrowing the their petitions had been already deter-entrance of the subject's complaints? He mined, and that it was not necessary to should conceive this an unhappy innovaexamine into them further ?

tion indeed. He felt the advantage of a there no instance of evidence being given liberal reception of those appeals almost and counsel heard on a petition on the as important to the House as to the comgeneral principle? Two years ago, bad plainant. Like the poet's mercy—“ It not counsel been heard on the Orders in blesseth him that gives, and him that Council? The question had been then takes.” The exercise of the right of indeed driven to a painful extremity, one petitioning, prevented the bursting forth which no friend to the country could con- of those desperate dissensions which often template, without regret at the train of produced convulsions under despotic gomeasures which drove it on. But then vernments; and on no subject should the principle was the general one of in their lordships show themselves more jury to the commercial prosperity of the ready to listen to the complaints of the country, and evidence was brought to people, than on that which related to their confirm it. But, as to the favourite

subsistence. ment of the noble lord, was he to be told The Earl of Liverpool would confine that it was a good answer to the city of himself strictly to the question now before London-we cannot hear you, because the House; which was, not whether the Bristol has as good a right to be heard as petition of the city of London should be you have? But the petition did actually received, but whether the petitioners come within the limits of the noble lord. should be heard by counsel in support One of its clauses turned on the assize of of the allegations it contained. His obbread; which, by diminishing the loaf, jection to this was founded on a principle was now in the light of an injury, and as from which the House never departed, such suitable for the relief of parliament. namely, that they would not bear partie There was no doubt that regulation in cular parties on a question of general such matters had a tendency to lower the legislation. A departure from this rule, quantity; and here was an injury to be in the present instance, would justify and removed, or at least examined into. This authorise a similar application from every was an immediate concern of the copora individual in the country, whatever his tion of London. There was another point condition or degree, who thought his of view, important also. The corporation interests affected by the present measure. fixed the assize. It was asserted that the This, it was obvious, would lead to endless quartern loaf would rise to 16d. It was delay; and on this ground of policy it a matter moment to them to prove that was that the House would not hear indiviif injury was done here, it was by the as. duals on their special interests, when a size laws, and not by their management measurc of general policy was before them. of it. But who were the petitioners : The present Bill affected the whole counThe corporation of the city of London. try it proposed no separate regulation Had they no special interest ? Un for the city of London ; and he was condoubtedly they had, and that in three vinced that if the House were to go on ways-as consumers, as men interested bearing evidence, and listening to counsel in the common prosperity of the country, for ten years to come, they would hear and as masters of that multitude of me. precisely the same arguments as had been ebanics and artificers that formed the la. already urged. The whole subject had already undergone ample consideration. , farmer, there would necessarily be a great For three sessions it bad been before para deficiency in the produce—such a defiliament; and the committees of the House ciency indeed as could not be compensated of Commons, which had twice reported by any importation : the quantity of corn upon it, were open to the members for the imported into this country in the years of city of London, where they had ample greatest scarcity was not more than ten opportunity of furnishing every informa- millions of quarters of wheat, which was tion. Last session, also, their lordships' only a tenth of the quantity consumedcommittee had reported that though perhaps not more than three or four weeks between 70 and 80 petitions were presented, consumption. and that of the city of London among the Earl Stanhope rose to order, and begged rest, yet not one of the petitioners bad the noble lord to consider the question thought fit to come forward. The com- before the House, mittee were empowered by the House to The Lord Chancellor said, that if the examine all the evidence they might think noble earl had wished to confine the House fit to offer : this was a public notice to all, strictly to the question, he should have and afforded ample opportunities for the interfered four hours ago. production of evidence.


The Earl of Selkirk contended, that he Lord St. John said, that the country was was strictly in order; all the reasons be in such circumstances as would render it had stated were so many reasons for speeunwise to go into the subject. There was dily passing a measure which would give an impossibility on the part of all men 10 confidence to the farmer. go on under the present circumstances. The Earl of Darnley thought the peti. The shopkeeper, the farmer, the manufac- tioners should be heard at the bar, as they turer, all found an equal stagnation. The had stated a special interest, viz. the petitioners had last year had an opportu- assize of the quartern loaf. And he should nity of stating any information they pos. be able to prove, if the question was insessed, and they did not avail themselves quired into, that the quartern loaf would of it. Now they came forward, when the not be so high as was apprehended. The opportunity was gone by. He did not loaf had never been so high as 14d. in any think they had any fair claim to ask for year when the average price was 80s. an opportunity, which they had so long except in one instance. Although he neglected. The noble lord who had should at all times do his duty, without brought forward the motion, said that the any regard to clamour, he thought the whole system of protections was founded utmost attention should be paid to peti

But what else had brought this tions. country to such a state of prosperity ? Lord Erskine stated, that it had never Great Britain was not meant by nature been the practice of Parliament to hear for that greatness to which she had at. petitioners by counsel, unless they could lained. It was her constitution and her prove some special interest, distinct from wise regulations that had carried her to the rest of the community; else there such a pitch of elevation. His lordship could be no end to petitions ; one town took the opportunity of delivering his sen might state it was not satisfied with the timents upon the Bill, respecting which evidence adduced by another town, and he had heard nothing to change his opi- beg to be heard by counsel merely for nion, contending that it was a measure of the sake of delay. He expressed himself general benefit and advantage, by the favourable to a measure for the protection encouragement it afforded to agriculture, of the farmer in the employment of bis and the raising a supply within ourselves.capital.

The Earl of Hardwicke stated, that the Lord Grendille briefly replied. The committee of the last session had taken arguments that a special interest was the great pains to procure evidence on the only ground on which petitioners could part of the petitioners, though unsuccess- pray to be heard, was, he thought, errofully.

neous, because, in the first place, no geneThe Earl of Selkirk said, that if they ral rule could be adduced to bind down suffered corn to fall too low, it could not the conduct of Parliament, which was fail to rise again to an exorbitant height. only to be guided by its discretion; and A very considerable part of the land of because the argument of bis noble friend, the country being thrown out of cultiva. that petitions would be presented, praylion by the want of encouragement to the ing to be allowed to adduce evidence,

on error.

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