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nary difficulty. He professed his inability to discover the sources whence that gentleman had persuaded himself that the revenue had flourished more under protection than since. There had been no instance under protection when, after taking off 5.500.000*. of taxes, the revenue had been larger than before. Since the commencement of free trade, between 1841 and 1850, the exports had increased from 53,250,000/. to more than 70.000.000*. Mr. Cardwell attacked in detail the theories enunciated by Mr. Cayley, and contended that by our present policy we had laid the foundation for an entire reform of the social and economical system of the country, which would, by that policy, gain an advantage over the manufactures of foreign countries. With respect to agriculture, he asked, where had the labourers gone to who had formerly been employed upon railways? They had been employed by the landed interest, and the prosperity of the Excise, was one of the most extraordinary circumstances of the times. The large sums borrowed for investment in agriculture was an evidence that its prosperity was not hopeless. He opposed the motion.
Mr. Cobden said, there could be no doubt of the meaning of the motion, for whether a duty on corn, or compensation for the loss of the Corn Law, were sought, the object was protection; and he protested against compensation upon any assumption of an understanding as to what was to be the price of corn— there had been no such understanding. The people were prepared to pay the natural price of corn, whatever its amount. The motion contemplated a transfer of five or six millions of taxes from the shoulders
of the farmers to those of others —it was not said whom. But a transfer of taxation would be impracticable. The only way in which the farmers could be relieved was by reducing expenditure, and nobody had proposed that. Protection was worn out, and now a fresh device was started, of unfathomable meaning, instead of setting the landlords and farmers to adjust their affairs amongst themselves. He advised the other side not to disturb this great question; he warned them against entering upon a career of hostility against the interests of the great mass of the people, a large class of whom had no representatives in that House.
Mr. Moore should support the motion for reasons referring exclusively to Ireland.
Lord J. Russell considered the motion, though introduced by a speech of great ability and great moderation, was fraught with more dangerous consequences than any motion which in the course of his public life he ever recollected. He noticed cursorily the proposals of Mr. Disraeli respecting the cultivation of tobacco, the tithe commutation, and the conversion of local taxes into a national rate, and assumed that the real aim of the motion was to restore protection, the only basis upon which a practical measure could be proposed; not, however, putting the question distinctly and boldly, but in a most dangerous manner, throwing it loose to the country, and making it a topic of continual agitation. The friends of the motion should do one thing or the other—disclaim a desire to return to protection, or declare they were ready to stand by it . Land, it was said, is burdened in an especial manner, and therefore its owners ought to receive compensation; but these burdens were every year becoming less, owing to the prosperity of other classes. The policy pursued since 1848 had been eminently successful, and what reason was there for changing it? He should be grieved if, by a retrogressive policy, the price of food were enhanced, and the people should be tempted to expect from the democracy of the Continent advantages they could not obtain from their own institutions. In the name of the great interests of the country, and the great mass of the people, he asked the House not to consent to the motion.
Mr. Disraeli made a vigorous and witty reply; and, after a few words from Mr. Muntz and Mr. Greenall, explaining their reasons for supporting the motion, the House divided, when the numbers
. . 14
Another important stage in the political drama was a defeat of the Ministers, pregnant with some material results, upon a motion made on the 20th of February by Mr. Locke King, the member for East Surrey, for leave to bring in a Bill to make the franchise in counties in England and Wales the same as in boroughs, viz., occupation of a tenement of the value of Id/, a year.
Mr. King congratulated himself that this time he had completely overcome the chief objection made last session by the Government, and removed the difficulty which they then felt in the way of agreeing to his motion, by bringing it
forward in the middle of February instead of July. His plan was so simple, moderate, and practical, that it would pave the way for the great and comprehensive measure of reform with which the House was to be favoured by Lord John Russell when "the proper time" should have arrived. Lord John last year declared his opinion that a condition of every reform of the Parliamentary franchise should be, that the mode of election should be compatible with and consistent with a Monarchy and a House of Peers. Surely the present small and insignificant measure would tend to strengthen rather than weaken both the Monarchy and the House of Lords. The Act last year passed for Ireland, which was so unfortunately marred in its details, affirmed a principle which should be extended to England; indeed, it would be insulting to suppose that the people of Ireland should be more trusted in the exercise of the franchise than the people of England. One of the strongest arguments used in the discussion on the Irish measure was, that the constituencies had actually decreased; so had the constituencies of the English counties. Since 1836 there had been these diminutions—in Berks, 1039; Devon, 1123; Dorset, 488; Hereford, 319; Salop, 505; Westmoreland, 747; Wilts, 585; Worcester, 475. Even since 1843 there had been a very considerable decrease. Comparing the total number of county electors in 1843 with that of 1850, he found that in 1843 the number was 484,073; in 1850, it was 461,413; showing a de crease of 22,666 in seven years, while in the boroughs there had been an increase of 50,000. These facts encouraged him to hope for Lord John Russell's support, on the same principle that Mr. King made the motion—that half a loaf, or even a fragment, is better than no bread. He trusted that he who had made the greatest, best, and most important social revolution which had ever been effected in modern times, would not object to remove those great anomalies which now existed with respect to the representation, when it could be shown that it could be done without incurring the slightest risk. He claimed the support of Sir James Graham, on the ground of his declaration in the last session, that he saw "the greatest danger in erecting an immense superstructure on a narrow electoral basis." He owned also, that after all which had recently occurred, not only in the House but out of it, particularly at an election which lately occurred in not the least aristocratic part of England (South Nottinghamshire], he thought he might fairly claim, and perhaps expect, the support of those honourable gentlemen who had up to a recent period supported protection: for he believed it would be found that those who had only very lately repudiated the principle of protection, would find it exceedingly difficult to obtain their seats again unless they appealed to constituencies with an extended suffrage. The admission made by Mr. Disraeli on behalf of his party encouraged the hope, that with the enlarged views he had lately adopted, he would not coalesce with the voters under the Chandos clause for a political purpose; but that he would go for an extended suffrage, and so completely renounce the dangerous doctrines of protection, which was very much akin to Communism in its worst for protection might be re
garded as the few taking from the many, and Communism generally as the taking from all. That the tendency of the motion would be to complete the triumph of Mr. Cobden, was a matter of joy to Mr. King, inasmuch as his own father fought the battle of free trade single-handed for many a year before either Mr. Cobden, or Mr. Villiers, or even the people of England, directed their attention to it.
Lord J. Russell admitted that this motion differed from other motions upon this subject, since no considerable objection could be alleged against the class of persons who were the object of it, who, if intrusted with the franchise, would use it, he believed, with intelligence and integrity. The question really was, whether the proposition would improve the representation. It was opposed to the principle of the Reform Act, which contemplated a distinction between the constituencies of counties and boroughs. In the discussions upon that Bill it had been proposed to admit voters for counties by occupation, not by tenure. This proposition he had opposed, though Lord Chandos had succeeded in carrying the 50/. clause; but he (Lord John) never considered this an improvement of the Bill. Looking at the question practically, his experience had convinced him that the 50/. tenants at will were much under the influence of their landlords, whereas the poorest freeholders were independent, and the proposition now was to admit to the franchise a large number of voters by occupation, who would diminish the power of that valuable class of electors. But, further, he thought the uniformity which Mr. King proposed to introduce was objectionable, and that it was an advantage that there was a variety of voting by freehold and occupation. It was said that 12/. occupiers had been enfranchised in Ireland; but in Ireland the 40s. freeholders had been disfranchised, whereas they still existed in England, and unless they were restored in Ireland a new inequality would be created between the two countries. He had on a former occasion acknowledged that he thought some extension of the franchise desirable, and he still considered it desirable that a measure should be introduced for a further extension of the suffrage. There were reasons, however, general and particular, why it was not advisable to bring in such a measure this session, though there would be no reason why it should not be brought before the House at the commencement of the next session; and if he were a member of the Government at that time he should feel it to be his duty to lay such a measure before the House. The experience we had had of the Reform Act had satisfied him that it had secured the confidence of the people at large. Any change, therefore, should be in the spirit of that Act. We should not attempt to construct a new and fanciful edifice, but endeavour to add to the symmetry and convenience of the old.
Mr. Hume insisted that the motion should be acceded to upon the grounds of policy and justice. Lord J. Russell, the advocate of free trade and liberal measures, should desire to extend the basis of the representation in order to neutralize the opposition of the landed interest.
Mr. Cobden had heard with
pleasure the pledge given by Lord J. Russell that he would bring in a measure for improving the system of representation, the faults of which had been exemplified in recent elections; and he hoped the noble Lord would address him self to the task with the conviction that the people would be disappointed with a measure not commensurate with the existing evils. With respect to the motion, he remarked that the noble Lord made no objection to the class of persons proposed to be admitted to the franchise. It did not follow that , 10/. householders would not be as independent as the 50/. tenants at will; they would probably be more so, since they would be less under the control of their landlords.
After a few observations from Mr. P. Howard, the House divided, when the motion was carried (against the Government) by 100 against 52.
On the 17th of February, in a Committee of Ways and Means,
The Chancellor of the Exchequer made his financial statement for the year. He began by referring the Committee to the balancesheet made up to the 5th of January last, which would afford, he thought, a not incorrect criterion of the state of the revenue for the financial year ending the 5th of April, 1851. The income he had estimated last year at 52,285,000/.; the actual income turned out to be 52,810,877/. up to January; and he estimated that its amount up to the 5th of April would exceed 52,656,000/. The Excise duties had increased beyond his estimate of last year no less than 688,000/. The actual expenditure to the 1st of January last was 50,205,879/., and he believed that its amount on the 5th of April would be less than 50,134,900/., showing a reduction below the expenditure of last year of 641,000/. The probable surplus on the 5th of April would be 2,521,000/. He then proceeded to estimate the income for the ensuing year. The Customs up to January amounted to upwards of 20,400,000/., and he thought he should be justified in taking this branch of the revenue in the ensuing year at the same sum. The Excise he thought he could not estimate at so large an amount as that of the last year, owing to the inferior quality of the barley in the last harvest; he took it, therefore, at 14,000,000/. In the Stamps there would be a further diminution in the ensuing year, as the late Act would not be in full operation until October, so that he should estimate the Stamp Duties at 6,310,000/. The other taxes, including the Property Tax, he took at the same amount as last year, making an estimated income altogether of 52,140,000/. The charges upon the Consolidated Fund he estimated at 30,692,000/. The estimates for the Army were 6,693,945/.; for the Navy, 6,537,055/.; for the Ordnance, 2,424,171/. There had been some reductions in these estimates, which would have been larger but for certain circumstances, which he explained. The Government had not been of opinion that it would be advisable to reduce the number of our forces, and they had continued the expenditure on account of certain defences at home, believing that Parliament would not desire to see the country left in an unprotected state. The reduction in the estimates was 457,000/., from which deductions -^le to be made to the amount of
246,000*. The reduction would have been larger, but for the commutation of a money compensation to seamen for a diminution of their grog, and for a curtailment of stoppages from the pay of soldiers serving abroad. These two items amounted to 140,000/. The Miscellaneous Estimates amounted to 4,065,000/. The Census in the ensuing year would cost 110,000/., but he would take these estimates at 4,000,000/. The total expenditure would therefore be 50,247,171/. Deducting this from the probable income, there remained an estimated surplus, in round numbers, of 1,892,000/. The first point to consider was, how far this state of our finances bore upon the question of the renewal of the Income Tax, and the Stamp Duties in Ireland. The amount of the former was 5,400,000/., that of the latter 120,000/., but he would take it at 100,000/. If, therefore, these taxes were not renewed, a revenue of 5,500,000/. would lapse, and, deducting from that sum the surplus of 1,890,000/., there would be a deficiency to the extent of 3,610,000/. In the ensuing financial year half a year's Income Tax would be receivable, so that in the next year the deficiency would be only 910,000/., but in future years it would be 3,600,000/. The House must consequently be prepared to have an annual deficit to that amount, or to reduce to an equal extent the expenditure, which, upon an amount of 16,000,000/., was impracticable, or to impose new taxes, whereas there were taxes still existing which it was desirable to get rid of. When these were reduced or repealed, and the inequalities and anomalies of our system of taxation were corrected, the question would fairly