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First report from the felect Committee appointed to take into confideration the prefent high price of Corn.

THE felect committee appointed to take into confideration the prefent high price of corn, and to collect evidence relative thereto, and to report the fame, from time to time, as it shall appear to them, to the house, with their observations thereupon, proceeded, in the first inftance, to confider fuch information as had been already collected concerning the fame.

They examined, for this purpofe, the minutes of the evidence taken before the lords of his majefty's privy council, upon this fubje&t. They received from fir John Sinclair, one of the members of the committee, the fubftance of fuch accounts of the ftate of the late crop of grain, as the correfpondence of the board of agriculture had enabled them, at the prefent period, to collect. They had further the opportunity of receiving from many of their members a ftatement of facts within their own knowledge or communicated by refpectable authorities from their different counties.

They have received alfo from his majefty's principal fecretary of ftate for the home department, fuch returns as had been hitherto made to the circular letter written by him, by his majefty's command, to the

cuftodes rotulorum and fheriffs depute in England and Scotland, defiring them to obtain meetings of the magiftrates for the purpose of procuring an account of the state of the late crop : but these returns are not as yet fufficiently numerous or complete to lead to any precife conclufion.

On the whole, however, the general information derived from the fources above-mentioned fatisfied your committee, that the crop of other forts of grain than wheat has been upon the whole abundant, but that the produce of wheat bas proved fo far deficient, as to require the adoption of the speedieft and moft effectual measures for the remedy or alleviation of so great an evil. They were therefore of opinion, that they should best perform their duty by directing their immediate attention to the confideration of fuch meafures; and have, on that account, deferred for the prefent purfuing a detailed inquiry into the exact amount of fuch deficiency; but they propose to report the fame more particularly to the houfe, when they shall have received fuch further information as may enable them to colleft more fully the general opinion, upon a point which they are fenfible it is impoffible at any time to afcertain with any great degree of accuracy.

The firft and most obvious mode

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of fupplying this deficiency is, the importation of grain from foreign parts-and for the purpose of forming an opinion as to what may be the profpect of fupply from thence, and the most expedient means to be adopted for procuring it, your committee proceeded to examine fuch perfons, from whofe knowledge and experience in the trade of corn they could expect the beft information. It appeared from their concurrent teftimony, that, though the crop of wheat in the United States of America, and in the countries bordering upon the Mediterranean, was reprefented as abundant; and in the northern and eastern parts of Europe as not materially deficient; yet, as the old ftock was much exhaufted, and the demand great, the price, according to the laft advices, was every where uncommonly high. But, though there was upon this point fome difference of opinion, it appeared upon the whole very doubt ful whether a fupply to any confiderable extent could be depended upon from foreign parts, whatever measures might be adopted. Your committee next proceeded to inquire what measures, in the judgment of these perfons, afforded the beft probability of obtaining fuch a fupply. They thought it right to bring diftinctly under their confideration the alternative of leaving the whole care of fuch purchases to the executive government, who would (it was conceived) be in fuch cafe the only purchafers, and be publickly known to be fo; or of leaving the fame to the speculation of individual merchants, encouraged by a liberal bounty on importation, and by a public decla1ation on the part of government

(as foon as fuch declaration fhall be practicable) of the quantity which they may then have at their difpofal in confequence of former orders, and of their intention to give no further orders for the purchafe of corn, and to fell what may have been procured in limited quantities, and at the market price. It appeared to your committee to be the preponderant opinion among it thofe perfons to whom this alternative was stated, that, upon the whole, the restoration of the trade in corn to its natural channel, with the additional encouragement of a bounty, was the most eligible mode of endeavouring to procure from foreign parts fuch fupplies as thofe markets might be found able to furnish. Your committee were further confirmed in this opinion by the information they received from fome of their members, that there were mer◄ chants who had ftated to them their readiness, under those circumftances, to engage in fpeculations to a large extent. After a full confideration and difcuffion of this important point, your committee were of opinion, that it was expedient for the executive government to defift from making any further purchases of corn; and that a bounty fhould be granted upon the importation of certain forts of grain into this country, for the encouragement of private fpeculation."

Your committee next proceeded to the confideration of the amount and diftribution of fuch bounty. They had been informed that, from the abundance of the crop of wheat in the countries bordering upon the Mediterranean, there might be a confiderable difpofeable furplus

in thofe markets; but that. from the high price of freight and infurance from thofe ports, and from the difficulty of procuring fhipping to go thither in ballaft, a larger bounty would be required to encourage private fpeculation in that quarter than in any other; they were therefore of opinion, that a bounty of twenty fhillings per quarter, and a proportional bounty per barrel, fhould be given on any number of quarters of wheat, weighing not lefs than 440 pounds avoirdupois, or on any number of barrels of flour, weighing not lefs than 196 pounds avoirdupois, which fhall be imported into Great Britain from any port of Europe fouth of Cape Finifterre, or from any port in the Mediterranean, or in Africa, before the 31ft day of Auguft, 1796; until the quantity of fuch wheat and flour, taken together, fhall equal 300,000 quarters.

They were further fatisfied, upon the beft information they could collect, that from the other parts of Europe, aud from America, a bounty of 158. per quarter upon a certain quantity of wheat, and of 10s. per quarter upon all exceeding it, would be fufficient to give a fair chance of procuring for the British markets a large proportion of whatever fupply thofe countries might be expected to furnish beyond their own confumption: and they were therefore of opinion, that a bounty of fifteen fhillings per quarter, and a proportional bounty per barrel, should be given on any number of quarters of wheat, weighing not lefs than 440lb. avoirdupois, or on any number of barrels of flour, weighing not lefs than 196lb avoirdupois, which thall be imported from all other parts of Europe, be

fore the 31st day of Auguft 1796; until the quantity of fuch wheat and flour, taken together, thail equal 500,000 quarters. Your committee were also of opinion, that a bounty of fifteen fhillings per quarter, and a proportional bounty per barrel,, fhould be given

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any number of quarters of wheat weighing not less than 440lb. avoirdupois, or on any number of barrels of flour, weighing not lefs than 1961b. avoirdupois, which fhall be imported from any of his majefty's colonies in America, or from the United States, before the 31ft of Auguft 1796; until the quantity of fuch wheat and flour, taken together, fhall equal 500,000 qrs. Your committee were also of opinion, that a bounty of ten thillings per quarter, and a proportional bounty per barrel, fhould be given on any number of quarters of wheat, weighing not less than 44clb. avoirdupois, or on any number of barrels of flour, weighing not less than 195lb. avoirdupois, which thall be imported into Great Britain before the 31ft day of August 1796, and on which none of the before-mentioned bounties fhall have been paid.

Your committee being convinced, that if a confiderable quantity of Indian corn could be obtained (which from the abundance of that crop appears not improbable) it would afford a material relief, were allo of opinion, that a bounty of five fhillings per quarter, and a proportional bounty per barrel, fhould be given on any number of quarters of Indian corn, or on any number of barrels of Indian meal, which fhall be imported into Great Britain before the 31ft day of Auguft 1796; until the quantity of fuch Indian

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corn and meal, taken together, fball equal 500,000 quarters. Your committee were also of opinion, that a bounty of three fhillings per quarter, and a proportional bounty per barrel, fhould be given on any number of quarters of Indian corn, or on any number of barrels of Indian meal, which fhall be im ported into Great Britain before the 31st day of Auguft, 1796; and which the before mentioned bounty fhall not have been paid.

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Your committee have fome reafon to believe, that there may appear fuch a deficiency in the crop of rye, as may lead to the applica tion of fimilar measures for the encouragement of the importation of that fpecies of grain, as have been recommended refpecting wheat; but they do not yet confider their information upon that point as fufficient to authorize them, at the prefent moment, to report any opinion to that effect.

Your committee have thought it incumbent upon them, humbly to fuggeft fuch measures as have hitherto appeared, in their judgment, the most likely to facilitate the procuring, without loss of time, in the leaft exceptionable manner, and on the leaft unreasonable terms, the largest fupply of grain from foreign parts, which, in the prefent relative ftate of the markets, they can be expected to afford. It was particularly with a view to expedition that they have fuggefted the proposed plan of arranging the bounty. But they feel it, at the fame time, their indifpenfable duty exprefsly to ftate, that they are far from entertaining any opinion that any fupply, by importation, can be depended upon to fuch an amount as to remove the neceflity of

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recurring to every other practicable and reafonable mode, by which the prefent fcarcity may be relieved; and particularly of attending to ftrict economy in the confumption of wheat and flour, and of promoting the fubftitution, to a certain extent, of other articles of food.

They intend to proceed immediately to the confideration of these and other parts of this extenfive and important fubject; and will, with the permiffion of the house, report, from time to time, fuch opinions as they may be enabled to form thereupon.

Second report from the felect Committee appointed to take into confideration the prefent high price of Corn.

THE felect committee appointed to take into confideration the prefent high price of corn, and to colleft evidence relative thereto, and to report the fame from time to time, as it shall appear to them, to the houfe, with their observations thereupon,-have received, fince their laft report, further information refpecting the deficiency in the crop of rye, and the great want of that article in those parts of the country where it forms the principal fubfiftence of the people; and they are thereby induced to think that fimilar measures ought to be adopted for the encouragement of the importation of that fpecies of grain, as have been recommended refpecting wheat. They beg leave therefore to fubmit their opinion to the houfe, that a bounty of ten fhillings per quarter fhould be given for every quarter of rye, weighing not less than fifty pounds per buthel, which thall be imported into Great Britain before the 30th day of September, 1796, until the

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quantity of fuch rye thall exceed 100,000 quarters; and also that a bounty of fix fhillings per quarter fhould be given for every quarter of rye which thall be imported into Great Britain before the 30th day of September, 1796, exceeding the quantity to which the beforementioned bounty is limited.

Your committee are alfo inclined to recommend an extenfion of the period for which the feveral bounties on grain and flour are propofed to be granted. They obferve, from the weekly returns of the price of wheat in the whole kingdom, and of the price and quantity in the London market, fince January laft, that the highett price and the greateft fcarcity took place during the months of July and Auguft, and particularly in the latter. Thefe, therefore, are the months for which it is moft important to provide; and they are led to fear, that if the bounty is confined to fuch corn as may arrive before the 31st of Auguft, merchants may be discouraged from fending fupplies to this country during that month, by the apprehenfion that they may not arrive in time to be entitled to the bounty. They beg leave therefore to fuggest an extention of the time to the 30th of September; and they fubinit, whether it might not alfo be expedient to place, in proper hands, a difcretionary power of allowing the bounties to fuch thips as may arrive before the 15th of October, upon proof of their having actually fet fail from Great Britain, from their respective ports, at fuch time that they might, in the ordinary courfe of their voyage, have arrive ed before the 30th of September.

Your committee have alfo re-
VOL. XXXVII.

ceived a fuggeftion from merchants trading to the fouthern parts of Europe and to Africa, that it would be advifeable to enlarge the quantity to which the higheft bounty upon corn, brought from those quarters, was propofed to be limited: they do not itate an expectation that the whole of that quantity can be procured; but they are apprehenfive that the original li mitation may tend to check fpeculation, by the fear of exceeding the quantity fpecified-and they propofe, therefore, that the higheft bounty fhould be extended to 40,000 quarters.

Your committee have alfo examined feveral merchants refpecting the proportion which the bounty upon flour ought to bear to that upon wheat; they have been fatisfied by this examination that, in confideration of the various fizes and weight of the barrels used in different countries, it would le more adyifeable to grant a bounty on the hundred-weight of flour than on the barrel, as had been at first suggested; that it is expedient to adopt, on the importation of wheat and wheat flour, the fame proportion of bounties which has been already established by the legislature on the exportation of the fame (i. e) 1s. 6d. per hundred weight of wheat flour, as equivalent to 5s. per quarter of wheat; and that the fame rule ought to be applied to Indian corn and meal.

In fuggefting, in their former report, that the bounty given on wheat ought to be limited to fuch as weighed not lefs than at the rate of 55 pounds per bufhel, your committee proceeded on information then received, that wheat of a lower weight was ufually of to Ee inferior

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