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Parliamentary Speeches, Political Economy, and the Corn Laws (1839-1846)

Discursos parlamentares, economia política e as Leis do Trigo (1839-1846)

Discursos parlamentarios, economía política y las Leyes de Trigo (1839-1846)


Debates in the British House of Commons between 1839 and 1946 revealed four distinct positions on the controversial Corn Laws. The Radicals, led by Richard Cobden, fought for overall free trade. The moderate Whigs, headed by Lord John Russell, leaned toward a fixed duty on imported corn. The Conservative Peelites, rallied behind Robert Peel, supported the prevailing sliding-scale system, while the landed Tories, who coalesced around Lord George Bentinck, wished protection all around. This article analyzes how the principles of political economy got entangled with political considerations in the speeches delivered by the leaders of each parliamentary faction. It concludes by highlighting the crucial role of political economy, especially the free trade doctrine, along with material evidence and historical precedent, as the key concurring factors in the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.

Protection; Corn Laws; Free Trade; Tariff Policy; Food Imports

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