Economic Annals of the Nineteenth Century

By William Smart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
1817. THE SUSPENSION OF THE HABEAS CORPUS ACT

.DURING the first few months of 1817, the general distress continued, although less is heard about agriculture. Since the preceding April, the revenue, which up till then had kept up as well as ever, had materially fallen off. The Regent's Speech, on 28th January, lamenting the pressure on the country, said that the evils were of a nature that did not admit of an immediate remedy; praised the fortitude with which so many privations had been borne and the active benevolence which had been employed to meet them; and promised that the estimates for the year would be formed with an anxious desire to make every reduction in the establishments which the safety of the empire and sound policy allowed.1

Continued distress

.Shortly afterwards, Castlereagh stated that no less than 300,000 soldiers and sailors had been discharged since the termination of the war, and that the total strength of the army for which the vote would be proposed was 123,000 instead of 150,000 as formerly. The Prince Regent, he said, had set the example of economy by remitting 150,000 of his Civil List, and the public servants of the Crown were willing to contribute "that which the Property Tax, had it been continued, would have taken from them."2

Reduction of forces

.As might be expected, the prevailing distress was the point round which nearly all the parliamentary debates of the early part of the year grouped themselves. The Regent's contribution to the problem was the particularly futile one of directing that, with a view to relieve the distresses of the manufacturing classes by affording them employment, his birthday and that of the Queen should be publicly celebrated; and

"Employ British labour

____________________
1
Hansard, xxxv. 1.
2
Ibid.252.

-539-

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