Any restriction, which object is to prevent the purchase of things necessary for the sustenance of the people is untenable in principle, dire in fact, and must be abolished.

Charles Pelham Villiers, translated by Frédéric Bastiat
Complete Works, Volume 3, pages 384 to 391 (in French)
Westminster, June 28th 1844

Frédéric Bastiat is giving here an analysis further to the debates taking place in parliament from June 25th to 28th, 1844 and ended up in a vote against the repeal of the corn laws. This vote marks a turn of fate for the League. Motions towards free-trade had been placed in 1842 and 1843 and the opposing majority has been steadily decreasing each time. The new strategy for the League then became to focus on the electoral front by trying to increase the number of voters who are favourable to its ideas and the number of candidates in order to form a majority in parliament.

Today’s quote is an extract of the motion placed by Charles Pelham Villiers who concludes: “for these reasons, it is expedient to repeal the acts 5 and 6. Victoria, c. 14. immediately”. We shall note that the motion restricts the frame of untenable restrictions to the goods of first necessity (corn). Richard Cobden was criticised for that but he maintained that it was not out of partisanship but because it was necessary to focus on the most egregious aspects of the legislation in the first place. However, there is no doubt that liberals are opposed to all forms of unjustified restrictions and Richard Cobden answered: “I present myself as the advocate of free-trade in all things […] I am ready to add to the motion the repeal of all protective tariffs on any other thing”.

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