Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub

are at this moment driven out of the corn market; 800,000 quarters of foreign corn have been imported the last half-year, so that the farmer may go about his business. In the year 1814, Ireland exported near three millions of corn, the principal part of which came to Great Britain. In 1812, Ireland exported 2,900,0001. worth of corn, of which 2,100,0001. camę to Great Britain. In the last half-year, ending in January, Ireland exported into Britain 300,000 quarters of corn, while the foreigner exported 800,000; so that Ireland is driven out of the market, and foreign nations have taken her place. With this information before you, the question you must try is reduced to this; shall we protect the farmer, or go out of tillage ? To the last mentioned monstrous proposition, no pretence can be afforded, except gentlemen on the other side say, that if you do not abandon tillage, you must renounce manufacture; they cannot say this — they have said this. They have said this without an iota of evidence; they have said the contrary also; they have said that (a few articles excepted), you undersold the foreigner, and so saying, they have given up the cause, and the only pretence on which it rested. They have said, that the English manufacturer undersold the foreigner; and that he did not ; and saying both, and proving neither, they have left you free to decide, that whatever be the fate of the manufactures, it is not 80s. a quarter for corn that will destroy them; the less so, because, under a higher price, the manufactures have increased, and the manufacturers have multiplied; and because the gentlemen themselves propose protecting duties of 74s. or 76s., thereby acknowledging the policy of protection, and therefore, of an adequate protection, and imposing upon themselves the obligation of a proof, that while the less duty is safety, the higher one is destruction ; death lies it seems in the difference, at 80s. you die, and revive at 76s. Having gone so far, I beg to submit, that the opponents of the measure have not produced argument sufficient to authorize you to abandon tillage, by returning to protection. I now come to the second question, namely, whether we can supply corn sufficient for our own consumption. You have done it, you did so in the last century. You did so, till the act of 1765; England alone did

We have done so lately; the two islands have supplied their own consumption, with all their increased manufacturers, and all their increased population. In 1812, these islands imported 12,000,0001. worth of corn, and exported 14,000,0001. above 300,0001. more than their own consumption; the opposers of this measure, combat this fact, by an average, and say, that on their average we have not supplied our own con

[ocr errors]

sumption; their average is fallacious; the cause of that selfsupply was Ireland, and her new condition since the act of 1807; but Ireland is a growing country, and her resources are a growing quantity; instead, therefore, of forming a calculation on an average, you should count on an increase. The evidence before the committee tells

you, that Ireland must increase in tillage one-third, and it stands uncontroverted. Now, I will tell you how she has grown, and read

you the accounts I have taken the last fourteen years. I have divided them into two periods, seven years each. In the first seven years, commencing with 1801, Ireland exported to Great Britain, four millions three hundred thousand quarters of corn, and her growth, or increase in the course of that time was two million three hundred thousand quarters. In the same period of fourteen years, foreign nations sent to Great Britain, in the first seven years, six million four hundred thousand quarters of corn; and in the last seven years, four million two hundred thousand quarters; and there was a decrease of two million two hundred thousand quarters. Thus, Ireland has doubled her quantity; and foreign nations, in the same period, have declined one-third ; and Ireland was coming into their place, as they are now coming into the place of Ireland.

On the progress of_Irish husbandry, I beg leave to say a few sentences. Lord Pery was the father of Irish agriculture. In the depth and extent of his sagacious and prophetic intellect, he conceived for his country a project, which was nothing less than the creation of tillage. His plan was to bring the market of the capital to the door of every farmer in the remotest part of the island, and he did so by granting an inland bounty on the carriage of corn to Dublin. He found Ireland in the article of corn, a country of import; he put in practice his plan; she ceased to import; she began to export; she began to export much; she proceeded to export more; she became a country of great, of growing, and of permanent export. The public care of Mr. Foster, and his vigorous mind, followed Lord Pery, and, by a graduated scale of export, furthered the growth of tillage. Then came my right honourable friend (Sir John Newport), whose presence represses the ardour I feel to dwell on the imperishable honours annexed to his name and his measures. He finished the work, by his bill of unlimited export; and Ireland, who was fed by imported corn in the middle of the last century, has, in the last war, fed herself on a scale of doubled population, supplied Great Britain with above two millions worth of corn, and sent near another million to supply your expeditions, and to feed foreign nations. It is an infirmity in the argument of the gentlemen of the other side of the question, that Ireland should have made no part of their calculation, and that, in contemplating the resources of the British empire, they should have overlooked one-third of the King's dominions. Gentlemen acknowledge the principle of self-supply; they cannot deny it; but they, in substance, retract their concession, and say, you should not make the effort. If the commodity, corn, for instance, is to be rendered dear, they do not say what they call dear, but leave us to suppose that corn must be dear, if corn is protected. Thus their argument goes against all protecting duties, still more against all prohibitions, and going equally against the whole of your policy, goes without force against any part of it. They speak of a surplus; to have what is sufficient for your consumption, you must, at times, have a surplus; and you cannot, they tell you, dispose of that surplus abroad, on account of its high price. Surplus is the effect of plenty, and plenty is the cause of cheapness, and cheapness the surplus; and the proprietor will be remunerated by quantity for what he loses in price. Besides, will you not take into consideration capital, which enables the proprietor to hold on that surplus, nor the increase of population that grows to consume it ? Conceiving that the gentlemen on the other side have not given reasons sufficiently strong to induce the House to give up a great maxim of state, and to accede to the extraordinary policy of abandoning those resources which Providence has given these islands to supply their own consumption, I come to the third question, which is, whether you can at all times command a sufficient quantity of corn from foreign nations ? The gentlemen on the other side of the question will show, (it is incumbent on them to do so), that you can; they will set forth what physical necessity, what moral obligation, what law obliges foreign nations to supply Great Britain with corn; they will show that they must furnish our expeditions, such as that to Portugal for instance; expeditions, perhaps, against the very nations from whom the supply is to proceed; they will show that foreign nations cannot tax, still less prohibit the export of their grain ; they will show this, I hope, before they shall induce you to confide your people to their policy; but unable to show this, they are reduced to rest their case on the experiment of the

In the last war they say, the trial was made, and, notwithstanding all our difficulties, we found a supply from the continent. We did so, we escaped in the last war. In the last war, we made an experiment which should teach us never to rely upon foreign grain, for we found the price immense, and, but for the Russian war, should have found the corn unattainable. With this experiment, or this experience before you, and this their only argument for the certainty of foreign supply, I hope you will think that the gentlemen have not made a case strong enough to incline you to reduce your people to a state in which they must depend on foreign nations for their food.

last war.

Having gone through the three considerations, I beg to observe, with regard to the opposers of this measure, that they found their policy on a vain philosophy; it is the error of Mr. Smith, refuted by Malthus, and adopted by them, and on this error they found the strength of the empire, and the food of the people; the maxim contended for, is, that you should get corn where you can get it cheapest. Why? Because corn is necessary; so is clothing : however, in Ireland, generally speaking, corn is not so. Yet corn, though a necessary of life, is not the only necessary, but is one of the five necessaries, and therefore ultimately sways, but by no means rules, the price of labour. Smith, a great author, is mistaken, and he is the less an authority (in general I applaud and admire him), but he is the less an authority on this point, because he considers it in the abstract, and has no reference to the political part of the subject, which is the principal part, and which governs the decision; he advises to go to the cheapest market, but omits to consider whether that market be accessible. Again, the application of his rule to the present question goes against the drift of his philosophy; his drift is, that every thing should find its true level, and capital its natural application; but to do this, all nations must agree; for it is impossible that any one without general concurrence can attain it. All nations then must abate their bounties and their prohibitions; that will not be sufficient; they must abate their taxes also. To make the experiment then, you must find some other planet, for the earth will not answer your purpose. But suppose this philosophical traffic practicable, the proposition of its abettors goes, as I have said, in the teeth of its principle; the proposition goes to leave one article unprotected, and to continue on all other articles, prohibition; that is to say, to take your capital from corn, which is a natural trade, and apply it to silk, which is an artificial one.

Gentlemen have spoken of the view of the resolution; the view is to encourage the growth of corn; encouragement is plenty, and plenty is cheapness. The view of the manufacturers is cheapness, but they oppose the means of obtaining it, plenty. They advise you, the gentlemen who oppose the resolution advise you, to procure the cheapness of the article by going out of the cultivation of it; but they will find that

[blocks in formation]

Do you

plenty is the only sure cause of cheapness, and the only certain plenty is the home market; when you diminish that, you diminish your supply. You, of course, raise the price of corn; you are dependant on the supply of foreigners, which supply, without the abundance of the home market, is inadequate, and therefore dear; as is also a precarious supply, which the foreigner may tax, and which the foreigner may refuse. Thus the policy of the opposers of the measure goes first to ruin the farmer, and then to starve the manufacturer. Gentlemen have said truly, their interests are indeed united, and when the farmer is beggared, the manufacturer is famished. I beg to return to that part of the subject which is comprehended in the denomination of Ireland; you know it was the policy of your ancestors to destroy the manufactures of Ireland, and it was the tendency of the union to direct her capital to gross produce. Have you then driven Ireland out of manufacture, and do you now propose to drive her out of tillage ? You recollect that Ireland has, for ages, excluded the manufactures of other countries, and has given an exclusive preference to yours. Ireland desires, and desires of right, that as she prefers your manufactures, you may prefer her corn.

' propose that Ireland should prefer the British manufacturer, and that the British manufacturer should prefer the French husbandman ? You know that Ireland owes 137 millions, the principal debt of the war; that the interest is 6,500,0001.; that her revenue is not 5,500,0001., and that her deficit to pay the interest is above a million

a-year.

Do

you mean that she should supply that deficit by giving up her agriculture ? You know that of her interest, 4,500,0001. is paid to you. How? By her produce. When you propose that she should desert or even diminish her husbandry, you shake your funded security. Again, you are aware, that in rent to absentees, Ireland pays not less than two millions annually, and pays it out of her produce; when you propose to diminish, when you do not propose to augment that produce, you shake your landed security. Again, in the respective traffic of the two countries, the account stands so : Ireland pays to Great Britain for commodities, at the current price, a large sum; about 4,500,000l. for interest; for the rents of absentees 2,000,0001.; altogether, about 16 million annually; the exportation of Ireland is about 17 million, of which 2,900,000l. is the export of corn.

When you propose to diminish her produce in corn, nay, when you do not propose to increase it, you propose that she should not pay you that balance. Again, are you unapprized that the population of Ireland is not less than 6,000,0001. and that a great proportion of that number are

« ÖncekiDevam »