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corn because copyholders have quit-rents to pay to the lord of the manor, than it would be to impose it because the holders of certain lands have been obliged, for the last thousand years, to pay a tithe to the Church. . That the Land-tax is at this moment, and has always been, a tax on rent, and has no effect on the price of corn, is a fact of which there cannot be the slightest doubt. It was originally imposed in 1693, a new valuation of all the lands in the kingdom having been made in the previous year. According to that valuation, it was found, that a tax of Is. on the pound of the ascertained rental, afforded a clear annual revenue of 500,0001. No change has ever been made in the valuation of 1692. The tax, which was at first an annual one, has generally been as high as 4s. a pound of the valued rent. In 1798 it was made perpetual at that rate, leave being at the same time given to the proprietors to redeem it.
Such being the nature and operation of the land-tax, it is obvious, for the reasons already stated, that its existence forms no ground whatever for the imposition of a duty on foreign
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The only other burden supposed peculiarly to affect the agriculturists, consists of the Rates levied for the support of the poor, and for other public purposes. But, although we are inclined to think that this burden really presses heavier on them than on any other class, the difference is not very material. Houses, workshops, &c. contribute equally with landed property to the support of the poor : And it should also be observed, that the amount of the rates is by no means a fair criterion of the real weight of this burden; for, owing to the system adopted throughout all the Southern counties of England, of paying wages out of poor-rates, the farmers, it is commonly understood, gain as much, by making the occupiers of houses and villas contribute to the support of the labourers employed by them, as they lose by being more exposed to the rates, Seeing, therefore, that all sorts of fixed property, as well as land, are made to contribute to the rates, that these rates have been improperly enhanced in many counties by the attempts of the landlords and farmers to make those who do not employ labour bear a part of the charges of those who do, and that the abolition of the Corn laws would, as we have already seen, enable the greater part of the rates to be dispensed with, it is clear that the duty which the agriculturists are entitled to claim, on the ground of their being peculiarly affected by the poor-rates, must be very small indeed-perhaps not · more than one per cent. ad valorem. - However, we would rather err on the side of too much pro
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tection than of too little; and therefore, instead of proposing that an ad valorem duty of one or two per cent.--which latter is certainly all that the agriculturists can justly claim-should be imposed on foreign corn imported, we should not object to its being made as high as ten or twelve per cent. We have already seen, that the average price at which foreign wheat might be imported into England in ordinary years, would be from 48s. to 55s. a quarter; and we would therefore beg to suggest, in order to get rid of the trickery and fraud inseparable from the average system, that the ad valorem duty of 10 or 12 per cent. should be converted into a fixed duty of 5s. or 6s. a quarter on wheat, and other grain in proportion-a power being at the same time granted to the Privy Council to suspend the duty whenever prices in the London market exceed 65s, or 70s. So high a duty would undoubtedly be much too favourable to the landlords. But the vast advantages that would result from the freedom of the corn trade, and the total abolition of all restrictions and fetters on importation, ought to induce the public to waive all objections to its imposition. Its magnitude, too, would take from the landlords every pretence for affirming that they had been harshly treated, or that their interests had been sacrificed to those of others. If they should object to so reasonable a measure, their motives would be obvious to the whole world. It would immediately be seen that they had resolved to place and maintain their interests, in direct opposition to those of the community in general ;--that they had determined to purchase a hollow and imaginary advantage, by supporting a system of domestic policy which must at no distant period involve them in that ruin which it will assuredly entail on the country.
We believe we might now take leave of this great question ; but before doing so, we shall bestow a few words on an argument advanced by the agriculturists, on which they have laid much stress. They allege, that all the principal branches of manufacturing and commercial industry are protected, by means of prohibitory duties, from foreign competition; and they contend, that it is only fair and reasonable that agriculture, which is the most important branch of industry, should enjoy the same protection and favour as the rest. We shall endeavour briefly to ascertain what degree of weight ought to be attached to this rather plausible statement.
In the first place, we have to observe, that a prohibition against importation from abroad, or a protecting duty, is plainly of no value whatever to the producers of such commodities as are exported, without the aid of a bounty, to other countries. Those who can undersell foreigners in the foreign market, have most certainly but little to fear from their unfettered competition in the home market! And such is the case with the vast majority of the manufacturers of Great Britain. A prohibition against the importation of foreign manufactured goods is really of no more consequence to them, than a prohi. bition against the importation of foreign corn would be to the agriculturists of Poland or Russia. All our principal manufactured goods—such, for example, as woollens, cotton stuffs and yarn, hardware, leather, &c. &c., can be produced cheaper here than in any other country; and the proof of this is, that we are able to export them with profit, not only to our immediate neighbours, but to the remotest districts of China or Hindostan. The duties intended to protect them may therefore be repealed without the slightest inconvenience; they are, to all intents and purposes, a mere dead letter; and serve only to encumber the statute-book, and to afford, as in this case, the shadow of an argument to real monopolists. · Such, too, we are happy to say, is the view that is now almost universally taken by our most intelligent manufacturers of the operation of the laws restricting the importation of foreign manufactured goods. In 1820, petitions were presented to Par, liament from London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, Bris, tol, Leeds, and all the other great commercial and manufacturing towns throughout the empire, in which the petitioners distinctly and strongly stated their conviction, we quote the words of the London petition, of the ' impolicy and injustice of the restrictive system ; and prayed for a total repeal of all such pro«hibitions and duties as had for their object to exclude foreign como • petition.' No sooner had Messrs Robinson and Huskisson been placed in those high situations which they now fill with so much credit to themselves and advantage to the country, than they endeavoured to give effect to the prayer of the petitioners. In consequence, the system of absolute prohibition has been almost wholly abandoned; and a system of ad valorem duties has been, in most instances, adopted in its stead. Thus, for example, by the Acts passed in 1824-5, the ports of Great Britain are open. ed to the importation of foreign cotton manufactured goods, on their paying an ad valorem importation duty of ten per cent. Foreign woollen goods are admitted on paying a duty of 15 per cent. Foreign earthen-ware on the same duty as woollens. Foreign cast-iron on a duty of 10 per cent. ; and wrought foreign iron on a duty of 20 per cent., and so on.
It is in vain, therefore, that the agriculturists endeavour to apologize for the restrictions on the importation of foreign corn, by telling us, that they are required to place agriculture in the same situation as the other branches of industry. The re
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strictions on the importation of foreign manufactured goods are almost universally without effect; those for whose protection and advantage they were intended, have themselves petitioned Parliament for their abolition; and, in point of fact, they do not at this moment exceed, on the most important articles, the protection we have proposed granting to the agriculturists.
But there are yet other, and still more cogent reasons than any previously stated, why the Corn laws should be abolished. The sustenance of the people is certainly the very last thing with which a wise and prudent Government would choose to tamper. We have no hesitation, indeed, in avowing it to be our decided opinion, that it will be found to be impossible to maintain the Corn laws without deeply endangering the public tranquillity and the security of property. Nescit PLEBS JEJUNA TIMERE. Mobs and popular outrages are the necessary consequence of a dearth of corn. It must be obvious to every one, that were our restrictions and prohibitions abolished, the price of corn in a country, so rich and industrious as England, so well supplied with merchandize suited to the wants and desires of every people, could never rise considerably above the level of the surrounding markets. When, therefore, prices rise above this their natural limit, as they are sure to do under our present system, whenever the home harvest is in any degree deficient, the cause of the high price will be obvious to the whole world. Every one will see that the dearth is not real, but artificial :that it is not by the dispensations of Providence-dispensations which it would be unavailing to canvass, and impious to censure'-but by the perverse regulations of man that he is oppressed, and his means of existence compromised. Those who are prepared to defend such a system, must be prepared to meet the bloodshed and commotion of which it cannot fail to be productive. Is it in the nature of things, that a vast manufacturing and commercial population, like that of England, should continue quietly to submit to a system which narrows the market for their produce, at the same time that it forces them to pay 70s. or 80s., or perhaps 90s. or 100s., for the same quantity of bread they might otherwise obtain for 50s. or 55s.? Sooner or later, this system must be abandoned. But the longer it is 'maintained, the more will the public mind be alienated from the Legislature, and the more will the spirit of disaffection scatter its seeds and spread its roots throughout the country. The experience of 1817, 1818 and 1819, should not be thrown away. The restriction on importation was the sole cause of the oppressively high prices of these years; and it was these high prices that drove the manufacturing classes to dese
pair—that rendered them the ready dupes of violent and designing persons—and produced those outrages that were productive of so much mischief.
We cannot dismiss this subject, without entreating ministers to persevere in their avowed resolution to bring the whole ques. tion with respect to the Corn laws before Parliament in the ensuing Session. They have already done a great deal to relieve the commerce and industry of the country from the shackles imposed in a less enlightened age; and, notwithstanding the outcry and clamour that a small faction, opposed to every species of improvement, and attached to every thing that is antiquated and vicious, has raised against them, they may be as. sured that their late measures are cordially approved by the vast majority of the middle classes. Of Mr Huskisson in particular, against whom every species of ribbald abuse has been cast, we have no hesitation in saying, that he has done more to improve our commercial policy during the short period since he became President of the Board of Trade, than all the ministers who have preceded him for the last hundred years. And it ought to be remembered to his honour, that the measures he has suggested, and the odium thence arising, have not been proposed and incurred by him in the view of serving any Party purpose, but solely because he believed, and most justly, that these measures were sound in principle, and calculated to promote the real and lasting interests of the public. That such a man should have been assailed in the way that he has been, is most discreditable to the country, or rather to the foul-mouthed junto who have indited the libels in question. We have no doubt, however, that these efforts to traduce and vilify his motives and conduct are heartily despised by him; and that he will not allow them to have the slightest influence in making him swerve from the broad and well defined path, which principle, and his own good sense, point out. Mr Huskisson and his colleagues cannot but feel that their commercial system is altogether incomplete, so long as the present Corn laws are allowed to disgrace ihe Statute-book ;-and they must feel, that they impose a heavy and most oppressive burden on the country, at the same time that they expose the people to the scourge of famine, and deeply endanger the safety and tranquillity of the State. Surely, then, it is not too much to call upon them to act with consistency, firmness, and vigour on this occasion ; and to earn for themselves a new and more powerful claim on the gratitude of the country, by ridding it, at once and for ever, of the monstrous and intolerable nuisance of Corn Laws.