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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52

Would Protection remove the Present Distress, and Benefit the Working Man?

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Would Protection remove the Present Distress, and Benefit the Working Man?

Buckle crest of the Cobden Club

Some of the Tory party seem to have found a remedy for all the ills that afflict us as a nation.

That marvellous panacea is "Protection."

"Let us tax," they say, "the production of the foreigner when he sends it over to this country."

Well, now, we will begin with bread. Suppose, by taxing our bread-stuff, the price of the quartern loaf were 7d. Let us take a family who consume fourteen loaves every week; that would cost 8s. 2d. per week for bread alone. At present we have a good quartern loaf for 5d. Take the same number of loaves, and the bread bill of the family is 5s. 10d.

"But," the Protectionist says, "wages would be higher."

Suppose a man is earning 12s. a week, and his page break bread bill is 5s. 10d., and his wages rise from 12s. to 14s. per week, but his bread bill goes up 2s. 4d., what advantage does he gain?

There are many other necessaries of life that are cheap, because the tax has been taken off.

I can remember 1846, when the quartern loaf was 10d., and, at one time, a shilling; tea, 4s. per lb.; the commonest sugar, 5d. per lb.; and the labourer's wages 8s., 9s., or, at the most, 10s. a week. More than double the number of men in our rural villages were out of employ than are out of employ to-day.

There need not be a single hand out of work to-day in rural England if the land were properly tilled.

Shall we, as working men, go back to the time when many of us had barley bread to eat? I think every sensible working man will say, No.

Then let us, at the next General Election, fight this bugbear of Fair Trade at the ballot-box; insist upon the land being properly cultivated; and withdraw from our over-populous towns the thousands of men who have been driven there by our inhuman land system.

Till the Land, give the tiller security for his Capital, and we should soon see at least some of these dark clouds of depression disappear.

Joseph Arch.

Messrs. Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage Yard, London, E.C., supply the Cobden Club Leaflets in packets of 100, price 1s.