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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52

Consumption of Articles of Imported Food per Head of the Population

Consumption of Articles of Imported Food per Head of the Population

Under Protection, 1840.
Bacon & Hams, a small fraction of 1 lb.
Butter 1 lb.
Cheese nearly 1 lb.
Wheat and Wheat Flour 42½ lbs.
Eggs 3½ in number.
Rice nearly 1 lb.
Sugar, raw 15 lbs.
Tea nearly 1½ lb.
Under Free Trade, 1883.
Bacon and Hams nearly 11 lbs.
Butter above 7 lbs.
Cheese above 5½ lbs.
Wheat and Wheat Flour nearly 251 lbs.
Eggs above 26 in number.
Rice nearly 12½ lbs.
Sugar, raw nearly 62 lbs.
Tea above 4½ lbs.
Protection Prices, 1841.
Tea 5s. per lb.
Coffee 2s. lb.
Sugar 9d. lb.
Free Trade Prices, 1884.
Tea 2s. per lb.
Coffee 1s. lb.
Sugar 2d. lb.
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To proceed to the consideration of the price of the staff of life—Bread.—Under Protection, the best wheaten Loaf of 4 lbs. frequently stood at One Shilling, and sometimes higher. Under Free Trade it has rarely exceeded Eightpence; for a long time it was Sixpence, and is now Fivepence-halfpenny. Nor was this the worst feature of the case. By the operation of the Corn Laws the consumption of Foreign Corn was prohibited, except at famine prices. In 1845, the year of the Irish Famine, there were imported, to meet the failure of the harvest and the potato crop, only 4,723,000 cwts. of wheat and wheat flour. In 1884 our imports of the same articles were 62,217,516 cwts.

What would have been the Price of Bread and the state of the Nation during the recent deficient harvests if the Corn Laws had not been Repealed?

The present high price of butchers' meat, which seems to be an exception to the favourable results of Free Trade, really proves—first, that the consumption and the ability to purchase are both greater than under Protection; and, secondly, that were it not for the free import of foreign provisions and cattle we should at this moment be labouring under a dearth of animal food. Up to the year 1842 the importation of live Animals and of dead Meat was prohibited, except Bacon and Hams, and Salt Beef and Pork, upon which heavy Protective duties were imposed, and of which we imported in 1840 to the value of £132,537. In 1884 we imported live and dead Meat to the value of £25,514,929.