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stimulated the industry of the farmer, end of the town ; and who, instead of so as to make his land more produc dining at one o'clock, along with their tive than before.”
clerks, as their forefathers did, were It was further maintained, that, if now to be seen sitting down to a table the reduction of rent, the principal are profuse in its variety of dishes, at six ticle of the farmer's expence, would and seven o'clock.” Mr Huskisson be productive of so little effect, still very properly added, that “ he did less could be expected from the reduc. not complain that it was so ; he hotion of other articles of expence. A noured the industry, and gloried in very heavy article of the farmer's ex- the success which occasioned it ; and, pence consists in the amount of his though the comparison might appear taxes, not merely direct, but indirect. invidious, he was driven into it by the Of this article of expence no reduction equally invidious comparison made by could be expected. It was shewn by the hon. gentleman.” Lord Binning, that the taking off the On the last branch of the question, property tax would produce a very in the amount of the importation price, considerable effect on the expence of it was contended that the grounds for cultivation. He stated the tenant's fixing on 80s. were perfectly sufficient. property tax at 28. 6d. per acre at the Mr Western maintained, that “ 80s. very highest ; and, as the average of a quarter was not a price that ought a wheat crop was at least three quar. to give any uneasiness, or that looked ters to the acre, it followed, that 10d. like a scarcity price. The average per quarter was as much as the pro- price of wheat during the last twenty perty tax affected the price of wheat. years was 83s. During the first ten of Besides, he remarked, the removal of these years, it was 785. If the price the property tax could not be consi- of wheat ten years ago was 73s., could dered as clear gain to the farmer ; as 80s. now be considered more than a other taxes would be imposed in its fair price? During the first ten of the place. Lord Binning took occasion last twenty years, what was our taxa. to remark on the observations which tion? In 1792, the whole of our taxes had been made by Mr Baring on the amounted only to 16 millions. When mode of living of farmers and their fa- wheat was at 735., the taxes were 34 milies. “ It appeared to him,” he said, millions ; and at present our taxes ex
surprising that Mr Baring should ceeded 60 millions. lo taking 80s., have forgotten the growth of the therefore, he was taking the very lowwealth and magnificence of the trades- est rate at which the import priee could people within the same time. They, be fixed.” The Earl of Liverpool too, occasionally indulged themselves contended, that “ it was erroneous to with wine as well as the farmers ; but say, that there was no evidence to jushe was so far from being displeased at tify the price of 80s. The fact was, this, that he was happy to see the in- that the evidence on this point varied creasing wealth of the mercantile part from 72s. to 96s. The medium of of the community.” Mr Baring's re- these prices, according to the weight marks also called forth the animadver- of the evidence, might perhaps have sions of Mr Huskisson, who contrast- been calculated at 85s., but under the ed that gentleman's picture of the pre- circumstances of a diminution of tax. sent mode of living of the farmers, by ation and of other burdens upon agri. a picture of the luxury of our mer. culture, the price of 80s. had been chants," who have exchanged their fixed upon; and that, he maintained, snug dwellings in the city for magnifi. was a fair protecting price.” cent mansions in the squares at the west
Observations on the Policy of the Corn-Bill.
In forming an opinion respecting the bled to diminish and confine the com. policy of the present system of corn merce of the enemy, and, in the same laws, we have had much doubt and hesi- proportion, to enlarge and extend onr tation ; and, though the conclusions at own. In proportion as other nations which we have arrived are the result of became the allies or vassals of France, slow and deliberate reflection, and are, we were enabled also to destroy their consequently, satisfactory to ourselves, commerce, and to deprive them of yet we are very far from saying, that their colonial possessions ; and in this they must, therefore, be just. We have manner we, by degrees, acquired a too much respect for the many acute commercial monopoly quite unprecereasoners whose conclusions bave been dented. The effect was a rapid increase the reverse of ours, to dogmatise upon in our manufactures, and consequentthe subject ; while, at the same time, ly in our wealth ; and this increase our confidence is increased by the con- was necessarily attended by a great sideration, that the opinion which we addition to our population, and a great have formed is supported by the au. extension of our agriculture. It is thority of some of the ablest of our stated by Mr Colquhoun, that, ac. statesmen and political economists. cording to the census taken in 1801,
In considering this question, the and that in 1811, the increase of the two great problems to be solved, fare, population of Great Britain, in these the causes of the great progressive rise ten years, was nearly a million and a in the price of corn from about the half of souls. For the subsistence of year 1792 to the year 1813, and the this increasing population, a great ad. prodigious increase in the agriculture ditional supply of corn became necesand wealth of the country during that sary; and, in order to procure it, a period; and the causes of the depres- vast quantity of new land was brought sion of prices that took place in 1813, into cultivation, to the extent, it has followed by an almost unexampled de- been estimated, of above two millions gree of national distress.
of acres. To this must be added the For twenty years previous to the returns of a very large capital employcommencement of our present calami. ed in improving land, which had been ties, a number of causes combined, in formerly only imperfectly cultivated, a remarkable manner, to promote the but of which the produce was now in agricultural improvement of Britain. many instances more than doubled by After_the breaking out of the war the expenditure of money and labour. with France, we were gradually ena- This great increase in our national
wealth, and extension of agriculture, would be diminished, and, as populawere necessarily accompanied by a tion increased, the wages of labour progressive rise in the price of corn, would fall. But the demand for corn and in the rent of land. It is a pecu. would go on increasing. Part of the liar quality of the produce of the accumulated capital would be employa ground, contrasted with the other pro ed on the more expensive cultivation ducts of industry, that its price, be- of inferior soils ; and, if the cultivation sides replacing the capital employed of these soils could afford the usual to raise it, with the usual profit of profit on capital at the time, the culstock, and paying the expence of la- tivation of the more fertile soils would bour, affords a surplus, or rent, to the now afford an excess above this rate of proprietor of the ground. This excess profit, the price of the produce being in the price of raw produce above the the same, whether raised on the richer cost of its production, from which it or poorer soils. It is this excess which yields a rent, has been noticed by al- constitutes rent ; and its nature is the most all our writers on political eco- same, whether it is received by the ocnomy, none of whom, however, be- cupier of the ground, or by another fore Mr Malthus, appear to have view. person to whom he has let it. ed it in ils true light. Most of them, time the occupiers of land might themand even Smith himself, in speaking selves receive this excess above the of the high price of produce, which is usual rate of profit, or, in other words, the cause of rent, treat this as a kind might unite the character of landlord of monopoly price, beneficial to those and tenant ; but it is easy to see, that, who receive it, but proportionally in- in the progress of society, a separation jurious to the community, who pay it. of these characters would take place ; But Mr Malthus* has demonstrated, and that, when this excess became that the rent of land has no resemblance sufficiently large, the proprietors would whatever to a monopoly, and that its be satisfied to subsist upon it without existence is not only inseparable from trouble, leaving it to others to make the cultivation of the ground, but essenthe usual profits of capital by the actial to the wealth and improvement of tual caltivation of the ground. every country. In the earlier stages Such being the nature of rent, it is of society, the cultivation of land plain, that it must continue to rise would, at first, like any other kind of along with the progressive improveindustry, yield only wages and profit ; ment of a country in wealth, populafor, where good land was in abundance, tion, and agriculture. As wealth and nobody would pay any rent for it. In population increase, the demand for such a state of society there is neither subsistence increases in the same protenant nor landlord.' The proprietor portion; to supply this demand, not occupies as much ground as he can only the better soils must be rendered cultivate by the aid of his family and more productive by expensive improve. his servants, which last are usually ments, but also more land of inferior slaves or bondsmen. The profit of quality must be brought into cultiva- . the capital, and the wages of the la. tion. When these poorer soils are probour employed upon it, however, must gressively brought into tillage, they be high. But as capital accumula- at first yield little or no rent, but they ted beyond the means of employing are cultivated if they can be made to it on the most fertile lands, profits pay the expences of cultivation ; and
Essay on the Nature and Progress of Rent,
when these expences are lessened, in they were thirty or forty years ago,
this to be merely a cloud on our horiThus rents must rise progressive- zon, which will soon pass away-withly, in every case where the agriculture out the price of corn rising much of a country is extending itself. This above the level of prices in the sure may take place even where there is no rounding nations, yet we do not be. rise in prices, which will happen lieve that prices would have reached where the increase of the demand is the height they did, without the concounterpoised by the diminution in the currence of other causes. The acciexpence of production, occasioned by dental occurrence of several bad seathe diminution in the profits of stock, sons, particularly those of the years or the greater economy of labour. 1799 and 1800 ; and the great scarciBut when a country is increasing ra. ty and consequent high prices which pidly in its wealth, commerce, manu- they produced, were the means of forfactures, and population, the increase cing a great quantity of additional in the demand for coro will tend much land into cultivation. The scarcity more to raise the price than the other at that time was increased by the difcauses will tend to keep it down. In ficulty of obtaining corn by importaa rapidly advancing country, therefore, tion; and the effect of the great addithe price of corn, as well as the reat of tional home production proved to be, land, will continue in a constant state pot to occasion such an overflow in of advancement.
the market, or such a depression of This principle, then, will go a prices, as to throw out of cultivation good way in explaining why the price any of the additional land which had of corn has risen so much higher in lately been taken in, but merely to Britain than in France, or any other render us more independent than forcountry. France is a great agricultu- merly of foreign aid, which became ral country, but not a wealthy one. more and more difficult to be obtainShe has not made nearly such greated. Accordingly, our agriculture inadvances as Britain in manufactures creased so rapidly, that, notwithstandand population ; her agriculture, there- ing the immense increase of populafore, has advanced much more slow. tion, the supply began to come pretty ly, and, consequently, the operation near the demand. This appears from of the principle of increase in the the circumstance, that, although the rent of land, and the price of corn, crop 1812 was a very deficient one, has taken place in a comparatively yet all that we could obtain from small degree. That it has taken place, abroad to supply the deficiency was however, is evident from the circum- 100,000 quarters. stance, that the prices of grain are now been an abundant one, it would have permanently higher in France than supplied the demand ; and it may be
Had that crop
further inferred from this circum- quarter. It was observed, that, on stance, that the crop 1813, which was
the abdication of Buonaparte, the a very abundant one, was sufficient for price of bullion sunk to nearly the the whole consumption of the coun. mint price, the price of exchange betry:
came much more favourable, and the The depressed state of our curren. price of grain rapidly fell. These circy is assigned by many writers, as one cumstances have been stated as af. great cause of the high price of grain. fording complete evidence of the de. As this very difficult subject enters es- preciation of our paper currency, and sentially into the merits of the ques. of the effect of this depreciation in tion before us, it is necessary to exa- raising the price of grain. mine it with considerable care. We But we cannot admit, that our pado not think that the alleged deprecia. per currency underwent any deprecia. tion of our currency has been esta- tion, without supposing that this deblished by sufficient evidence. There preciation proceeded either from a want seems, indeed, little reason to doubt, of confidence in the credit of the nathat a considerable diminution has tional bank, or from an excess in the within these last 6fty or sixty years quantity of the circulating medium. taken place over all Europe, in the The first of these suppositions is value of the precious metals, owing to plainly absurd ; for there was no want the great increase in the produce of of public confidence at the period of the American mines, and the diminu. the alleged depreciation in the currention in the use of those metals, arising cy. The whole of the enormous mofrom the substitution of paper ; but ney transactions of the country were we see no sufficient reason to believe, performed by means of this paper curthat our paper currency has ever been rency, without the smallest hesitation in a state of depreciation.
or feeling of insecurity, and the cire The circumstances on which the op- cumstances from which a depreciation posite opinion is founded are, that since in its value was inferred, might have the suspension of cash payments from proceeded from a rise in the value of the Bank of England in 1797, a great bullion, in place of a fall in the value increase progressively took place in of paper. If bullion, from any cause, the issues of paper from the bank ; became scarce, its price would rise that a difference then began to take like that of any other commodity. An place between the market price and ounce of it might sell for five or six mint price of gold, which increased pounds sterling, and a guinea might along with the quantity of paper in be exchanged for 25s. er 26s. But it circulation ; that, at the same time, the must be observed, that it would be foreign exchanges became more and only as bullion that a guinea would be more against this country; and that so exchanged. No person, who meant these circumstances were attended with merely to put the guinea to its proper corresponding rises in the price of use, would give more than the stand. corn. It was observed that, in 1813, ard value for it and accordingly, gui. when the Bank of England paper had neas were bought up at the high rate increased to twenty millions, bullion of 258. or 26s. solely by persons
whose was sold for 5l. 10s. per ounce, instead object it was to convert them into bulof 3l. 175. 10 d. the mint price ; the lion. There never was an instance of course of exchange with Hamburgh a difference being made in our markets was above twenty per cent. against between the prices of commodities in this country, and wheat was 111s. per paper, and in specie. This is the great