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Huskisson
Huskisson
325

tions in March 1813, and on Sir Henry Parnell's motion on the corn laws he brought forward for the first time his scale of graduated prohibitory duties. Next year on 6 Aug. he succeeded Lord Glenbervie, in Lord Liverpool's ministry, in the woods and forests department, and was sworn of the privy council on 29 July 1814. He quickly mastered the special duties of his office. In 1815 was passed the first corn law, which absolutely prohibited the importation of corn when the rice fell below a certain minimum average, and Huskisson took a prominent part in the debates on the bill. In May 1816 he spoke in the bank restriction debates in favour of leaving to the bank the determination of the time, not to exceed two years, within which they might continue the restriction on gold payments; but two years afterwards he was in favour of granting the bank a further extension of time. He usually voted for Roman catholic emancipation without speaking, and very seldom intervened in a debate on foreign policy. One of his rare speeches on general topics was made in 1821 on Lord Tavistock's motion for a vote of censure on the government for its behaviour to the queen. In 1819 he became a member of the finance committee, and his speech on the chancellor of the exchequer's income and expenditure resolutions probably saved the government from defeat. He also addressed to Lord Liverpool an important memorandum on the resumption of cash payments (see Yonge, Life of Lord Liverpool, ii. 382). In 1821 he was a member of the committee appointed on Gooch's motion to inquire into the prevalence of agricultural distress, and the report of the committee was principally drafted by him; but his speeches on taxation in the same year gave rise, not unnaturally, to a distrust of him among the agricultural party, which was never afterwards removed. He felt his position in the government to be unsatisfactory, though he did not resign with Canning in that year, and when, at the end of 1821, a rearrangement of the administration was projected and the Irish secretaryship was offered him, he at once refused the post. In February 1822 Huskisson spoke against Lord Londonderry's proposal to lend 4,000,000l. for the relief of agricultural distress, and on 29 April and 6 May succeeded in defeating Lord Liverpool's first resolution on the report of the committee on agricultural distress. Thereupon he tendered his resignation, which Lord Liverpool refused, and Huskisson shortly after did excellent service in fighting the county party single-handed on Western's motion for a select committee to inquire into the consequences of the resumption of cash payments, and carried an amendment in the terms of Montague's resolution of 1696, 'that this House will not alter the standard of gold or silver in fineness, weight, or denomination' (see Hansard, new ser. vii 877, 925, 1027).

When Canning rejoined the ministry as foreign secretary in September 1822, he failed in an endeavour to obtain for his friend the presidency of the board of control, with cabinet rank. On 31 Jan., however, Huskisson was promoted to the treasurership of the navy, and on 5 April to the board of trade, holding both offices together, and he was soon afterwards admitted to the cabinet. The board of trade was an office in which his special knowledge and his advanced free-trade opinions were certain to make him conspicuous. Accordingly, as Canning was retiring from the representation of Liverpool, which he found too laborious for his new position, Huskisson was selected to succeed him as the only tory able to conciliate the Liverpool merchants, and after a hollow contest he was elected, 15 Feb. 1823. Huskisson thus became the prominent representative of mercantile interests in parliament. He was soon active in office, and introduced a bill for regulating the silk manufactures, but owing to the sweeping character of the lords' amendment he dropped it for that session, and did not pass it till 1824. He also introduced and passed a merchant vessels' apprenticeship bill, a bill to remove the restrictions on the Scottish linen manufacture, and a registration of ships bill. He announced his intention of moving the repeal of the Spitalfields acts, and supported Joseph Hume's motion for a select committee on the combination laws, which led ultimately to their repeal. The year 1825 was one of great activity for him. With the assistance of James Deacon Hume [q.v.] of the board of trade, he completed the consolidation into, eleven acts of the whole of the existing revenue laws. He obtained a select committee to inquire into the relations of employers and employed, the result of which was the passing of an act which regulated the relations of capital and labour for forty years. One object of his policy was at the same time to give England cheap sugar; and he also amended the revenue laws in the direction of a modified free trade in regard to other commodities, reducing the old duties on foreign cotton goods, which ranged from 50 to 75 per cent., according to quality, to a uniform 10 per cent. duty on all qualities; on woollen goods from 50 and 67½ per cent. to 15 per cent., and similar reductions were made in the duty on glass, paper, bottles, foreign earthenware, copper, zinc, and lead (on Huskisson's tariff