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wheat back and raising prices; in duty, who consist of the professed addition, he could sell this wheat as enemies of agriculture, call for one readily in bond as out of it.
as low as possible. We will look at We bave said a duty of 10s. per the one of 8s. With the present law, quarter would not much affect im- foreign corn may be bonded at any portation and price; one of 20s., time: and there is generally a cerhowever, would affect them greatly. tainty, that, in some part of the year, With an average price of 72s., im- it can be taken out of bond almost portation would be far larger under free from duty. In consequence, a duty of 10s. thau under one of 20s.; importation is as free, and about as probably 82s. would be requisite for extensive, as it would be if this corn gaining the same supply with the were subject to neither law nor duty. higher duty, which 72s. would gain At spring, therefore, short supply, with the lower one. Price must, of &c., would have the effects, with a necessity, be higher or lower, as sup- duty of 8s., or without one, which ply is smaller or larger. The cer- they now have. If a fixed duty of tainty that England must import al- 8s. should have any operation, it ways, raises prices abroad, but at would necessarily make foreign present the advance is lost by the wheat several shillings dearer at harExchequer, and not paid by the con- vest than the existing law makes it. sumer. With a fixed duty, all the ad- If, in plentiful times, a duty of 27s., dition made to price abroad would with an average price of about 60s., have to be added to it at home; in be necessary to form a prohibition, consequence, no considerable quan- it follows that a price of 41s. would tity of foreign wheat could be taken be required for making a duty of 8s. out of bond, or imported, until price a prohibition. In such times, an should rise to perhaps 80s.
average price of 43s., with a fixed Thus, with a fixed duty of 20s., duty of 8s., would bring a very great there would be about the same keep- quantity of foreign wheat into the ing of foreign wheat from consump- market for consumption, and prices tion-speculation and advance of would sink to perhaps 36s. or 38s. price-overflow of foreign, and sud- A fixed duty, therefore, of 8s. den fall of English wheat, at the close would compel the average price of of harvest-which are now witness- wheat to fluctuate almost yearly beed. The main difference would be, tween 38s, and 76s. wheat at the highest point would be In years of scarcity, a fixed duty several shillings per quarter dearer would make corn considerably dearwith the duty than it is with the ex- er than the existing law makes it, isting law.
Thus, the assertions of the advo. We have assumed, that, in plenti- cates of such a duty, that it would ful moments, a duty of about 27s. is make the trade in corn less speculanecessary for constituting a prohibi- tive, and price more steady, are the tion, when the average price is about reverse of fact. Doubtlessly, in times 60s. Of course, to make a fixed duty of short supply, it would only offer of 20s. a prohibition, the average price a rise of price, as a bounty on specumust be 53s. We have said, that in lation, while the law offers both a such moments the average price rise and a large reduction of duty; must be several shillings below that but it would ensure a greater rise which makes the duty a prohibition; than the law can do. At present, the the fixed duty in question would duty is taken into account by both bring a very large quantity of foreign buyer and foreign seller; the fall in wheat into the market, with an ave- it is chiefly pocketed by the latter, rage price of 56s., and it would sink and, in consequence, it is much the this price to about 48s.
same to the former, in regard to speA fixed duty of 20s. would, there- culation, as a fixed one would be. A fore, compel the average price of fixed duty would make corn, in plenwheat to Auctuate almost annually tiful times, much cheaper, and in between 48s. and 80s.; in almost those of short supply, somewhat every year, this price would be near- dearer than the law makes it; in ly as low as the one sum, and as high consequence, it would give as great as the other.
a bounty on speculation as is given The other advocates of a fixed by the law. Under the latter, a large part of the bounty is not felt in the there is deficiency; and, in the third, market price, it is merely taken from
more than demand rethe revenue; but the whole, with a quires. The present corn law does fixed duty, would operate on price, exactly the reverse, therefore it causes and, of necessity, give it a much violent Auctuations of price. wider range than it now possesses. We do not say whether the quarThe variation of price allowed by ter of wheat ought to sell for thirty the law, is about 20s. per quarter ; shillings, or sixty, but it is clear to but a fixed duty would allow one of all living men, that if the market be from 30s. to 40s.
plentifully supplied with English at It is because the law admits fo- any price, the admission of a consireign corn almost free from duty, derable quantity of foreign must of that the agriculturists imagine it af- necessity cause that price to fall fords them little protection. The fact greatly. Taking the sum at 60s., it is, it does not so admit it, until their is manifest that when there is with price rises much above what is call- it a full supply of English wheat, ed a remunerating one; and if this foreign must be excluded, or there price should never rise above 60s., can be no steadiness of price. A duty or 62s., it would be at it equal to a cannot be depended on for causing fixed duty of nearly 25s. In seasons such exclusion; at one moment it of short supply, it acts as a prohibi- will do it, and at another it will do tion, until the six weeks' average the contrary. The corn law imposes price rises to 73s., while, with the one, and it operates in this manner; old laws, the prohibition ceased when when there is a short supply of Engthis price reached 70s. Granting that lish wheat, it rigidly excludes foforeign corn then enters the market reign; but when the supply of Eng. nearly duty free, this is a loss to the lish is good, it brings half a million revenue; but, in general, it makes of quarters of foreign into consumplittle difference to the agriculturists; tion. This, in the nature of things, the certain rise of price is foreseen by must be its general operation, beforeign corn-growers and specula- cause a bounty is offered by short tors, therefore the holder of the corn supply, on keeping foreign wheat brings it into consumption at as great from, and, by abundance, on forcing a cost to himself as he would do, if it into consumption. it were subject to a considerable What, then, can exclude foreign fixed duty. A few shillings more or wheat when there is a sufficient supless in price, would have no material ply of English at 60s.? Nothing but a effect on importation. Compared legal prohibition. We are not saying with a fixed duty, in respect of pro- that this would be better than a viotection, the law may give less than a lently varying price; we merely mainduty would give, when the farmers tain that there must be the one or the have no corn to sell; but it gives far other, and that such prohibition can more than could be drawn from a alone produce that exclusion, without duty when they want a market. Im- which there cannot possibly be steaportation may be greater with it, diness of price. than it would be with a duty, in In the nature of things, price, save times of short supply; but, in other in years of scarcity, must generally times it is much less. We necessa- be some shillings below that fixed rily think the corn law infinitely on for suspending the prohibition. preferable to a fixed duty; but still If, therefore, the farmer ought to we wish to see in it great alterations, have 60s. for his wheat, the prohibibecause it is obviously extremely tion must be in force so long as the defective.
price is not higher than from 668. to All sides call for steadiness of price, 70s. and it is demonstrable that it can The next thing for securing steadionly be produced by steadiness of ness of price must bring foreign corn supply, with reference to demand. into consumption when there is a Of course, it can only exist in such deficiency; and it must bring no exa corn law as will, in the first place, cess. The present law, at such a exclude foreign corn when there is time, keeps this corn from consumpno deficiency; in the second, bring tion-produces high prices when such corn into the market when they cannot benefit the generality
of farmers-throws the whole im in such quantity as the market can portations of the year on the market sustain. at once, about harvest-makes these It is our conviction that, putting importations excessive-and binds years of decided scarcity out of sight, the mass of farmers to losing prices, a duty of eight or ten shillings per so long as they have corn to sell. In quarter on foreign wheat would raise reality it compels the consumer to the price very little to the consumer. pay, on the average of the year, a The English market is the principal, considerably higher price than the and often the only one to which the British producer obtains, solely for foreign corn-growers and dealers can the profit of speculators and foreign- look; therefore they must take al. ers; when he buys of the British most any price it will offer them. If farmer, corn is cheap; when he buys their corn should only be admitted of the foreigner, it is dear.
with an average price of 66s., a duty When price rises to the point for of 10s. would leave a price to the suspending prohibition, the law ought importer of 56s., and under it imporevidently to take as much foreign tations would be nearly as large as corn out of bond as the market will they now are. Should the law clear bear. Suppose this point should be bonded wheat at 66s., this duty would 66s., and the quantity 400,000 quar- fall almost wholly on the foreign proters; when the average price should ducers in ordinary years. rise to this sum, the law might com The present system is in the highmand all bonded wheat to be cleared est degree false in principle. It forces within a week, provided the quantity foreign corn up to a high price in should not exceed that we have order to exempt it from duty, and named; should the quantity be greater then it throws all the advance on the it might command the clearance of consumer; it really taxes the latter half, three-fourths, or any other pro- for the purpose of robbing the Exportion of it. In addition, it might chequer. The consumer and the prohibit the clearing of any more for Exchequer jointly lose from it nearly à month or six weeks afterwards. In a pound per quarter. While most such case, speaking generally, when imported commodities are subject to the average price should rise to 66s., heavy duties, which fall on British as much foreign wheat would be consumers, corn is admitted nearly brought into consumption as would free from them, although such duties not only prevent it from rising higher, on it would fall mainly on foreign but reduce it in a small degree; and producers. At the very least half a the farmers would be protected from million per annum is lost in this manthe glut which operates so perni- ner to the revenue, and the loss causes ciously against them for some months corn to be dearer rather than cheaper after harvest. The consumers would to the community. gain rather than lose; they would We, of course, conceive that fo. have wheat cheaper in summer, if reign corn should be prohibited by they had it somewhat dearer in win- law up to a certain price, and then ter.
admitted at a fixed duty of 8 or 10s. Whether the trade in corn ought on wheat, and a proportionate one to be free or the contrary-whether on other kinds of grain. a legal prohibition up to a certain In years of decided scarcity the point is a more baleful thing than duty would be added to price, thereruinous fluctuations of price—whe- fore in them government ought to ther the quarter of wheat ought to have the power of suspending it. sell for twenty shillings or eighty, It must be observed that the Corn are matters with which we have no Law has only been tried in years of thing to do. The question before us short supply. Let the next two haris—what will produce general steadi- vests be good ones, and it will bring ness of price? and in reply we say, a ruinous accumulation of foreign nothing but a law which will pro- wheat into the market under a duty hibit foreign corn when there is of 25s. abundance of British, and bring the Our belief is that these changes in former into the market when there the law would in the first place enis a deficiency of the latter, but only sure as much steadiness in the price
of corn as the variation of seasons growers, if coupled with the free imwill admit of. Secondly, they would port of foreign corn ? cause corn to be on the average of As to direct taxes, the land pays the year cheaper rather than dearer none of moment. Land in England to the consumers. Thirdly, they is less burdened with them than it is would give better prices to the Bri- in many continental states. tish producers. And fourthly, they With regard to general taxes, other would add a considerable sum to the countries pay them as well as this;
let us, therefore, assume, that on the If we be in error, it is at any rate average, the Englishman pays twice certain that those who wish to judge as much in taxes as the foreigner. correctly of the question, must exa It must be remembered, that many mine it as we have done. Yet who articles of dress, &c., are much does so examine it? Do the land- cheaper here than they are abroad, owners, and their scribes, who decide and that this goes far towards balanwith so much ease and confidence cing the difference against him in that a fixed duty would be better taxation. Let us farther assume that than the law, assign any substantial the agriculturists pay twenty milreasons for their decision ? No, they lions of the annual taxes, and that stand on the assertion-foreign corn their yearly sales of corn, cattle, is admitted almost free of duty, there wool, timber, &c., amount only to fore the law yields no protection. one hundred millions. In each case, It is evident enough that they ima they pay ten millions of taxes more gine a fixed duty would add its than they ought to do, to be on a amount to price in moments of short level with foreigners. This sum asupply; and that they never bestow mounts to ten per cent on a sale of a thought touching what it would do one hundred millions; therefore, in those of abundance. To make taking the quarter of wheat at three price higher when it is remunerative, pounds, they ought to obtain only they would make it lower when it is six shillings more for it than foreignruinous.
ers, on account of difference in taxa. There is another set of agricultu. tion. We believe that this greatly rists who declaim against taxes, and exceeds the truth, and that the adprofess they would consent to a free vantages possessed by the Englishtrade in corn, if they could have man over the foreigner in a market them reduced sufficiently. Do these for animal food, butter, poultry, &c., men support their doctrines by argu fully cover such difference. ment and calculation? They stand Amidst foreign agriculturists, the on assumptions which are manifestly landowners draw very little revenue groundless. They speak of poor
from their land; there are compararates ;-in a large part of England, tively no farmers or other middlethese only form a tax of about a men to be supported by it, and the shilling per quarter on the corn sold; standard of living is at the lowest in other parts where they are heavy, point among the labourers : this is wages are low in proportion, there the difference which prevents British fore the landowner gains in rent ones from competing with them. much of what he has to allow for It is not necessary for us to say poor-rates. If a farm in Sussex pay that we are the friends of agriculyearly fifty pounds more for poor- ture, but in fighting its battles we rates, and fifty pounds less for wages, must look at truth and honesty. We than one of the same size in York cannot say it is oppressed with taxes, shire; such rates are really no greater because we know it is not; instead a burden to the Sussex landowner, of paying more than its share of than they are to the Yorkshire one. them, it pays less. These men, in It must be remembered, that the offering to give up its protection in excontinental corn countries have what change for a reduction of taxes, are is equivalent to poor-rates.
advocating its ruin. This is not the Then these men clamour against only reason why we notice their conthe malt-duty. It is paid chiefly by duct. Their preposterous outcry the consumers, and what benefit against taxes nurtures the spirit of could its abolition yield to the corn- disaffection and revolution, and it
contemplates the spoliation of the common laws of bargain, they bully public creditor.
and intimidate the landowners into Why do they so act? Because, a reduction of them. They here put forsooth! they must be liberal— forth another manifest falsehood. they must not gainsay the economists What is their object ? It is to mis- they must be so far enlightened as lead and inflame the ignorant. to admit that the doctrines of free There is another set of people trade are true in the abstract. For who pretend to favour free trade in this they despise demonstration, pro- corn, not from hostility to agriculmulgate the most gross errors, and ture, but for the sake of common render the cause they profess to sup- good. Do they stand on enquiry and port, indefensible.
proof? No, with them, all is ignorant Turning to the avowed enemies assertion-prohibition is wrong, no of agriculture, do they speak from matter what may be its fruits; free careful and dispassionate investiga- trade is right, however ruinously it tion? They assert that the Corn may operate ; the object of legislaLaw is a monopoly which excludes tion is to practise doctrine in conforeign corn to rot where it is grown. tempt of consequence. They are This law has admitted all the sur utterly incapable of understanding plus corn of other countries at much the question, and they do not attempt higher prices than free trade would it. They are sordid traders in place have allowed; it has, therefore, given and creed, who take up any opinion a greater stimulus to the production which is calculated to promote their and import of foreign corn,
than free personal benefit. trade would have given. They thus
And there is another set of men put forth a deliberate falsehood. who despise investigation, because
These people assert, farther, that they are pledged. They voted for foreign corn, bought by this country, the Corn Law, they belong to the must be paid for wholly with manu parties from which it emanated, factures, and that by its exclusion, therefore they pronounce it faultthe export of the latter is prevented. less. All the evils experienced unAs the law causes the price of fo- der it, are produced by change of reign corn to be higher, and the im- currency, bad seasons, or any cause, port to be larger than they would save its defects. To escape the conbe with free trade; it, of necessity, fession of their own errors, they on their own doctrines, makes the close their ears to argument, and inexport of manufactures greater than sist that the most decisive demonfree trade would make it. Here they strations are false, and below notice. put forth another gross falsehood. Yet, it is self-evident to every
These men make it a fundamental human being, that if the regulations principle, that variations in the price for the import of foreign corn be of corn must affect rent alone. In not framed upon comprehensive inaddition to the evidence of all his vestigation, severe fact and accurate tory, the present state of England deduction, in total disregard of abproves, that in their natural opera- stract doctrine and prejudice, they tion, they affect rent the least, and must operate most injuriously against fall principally on the wages of hus- the interests of manufactures, trade, bandry labour. It is evident to all, and the empire at large, putting that the landowners could now ob- those of the agriculturists out of the tain the rents they received before question. If this truth be disregardthe reduction in prices, of late years, ed by all other men, it ought at least and throw the reduction on such to be attended to by landowners and wages. These very men are prac farmers :
: we, therefore, call on them tically confessing it, for instead of to examine deeply and dispassionleaving rents to be regulated by the ately, before they pledge themselves.