Front Page Titles (by Subject) AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS 12 May 1820 - The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence
AGRICULTURAL DISTRESS 12 May 1820 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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12 May 1820
Earl Temple presented six petitions from Buckinghamshire for an inquiry into the depression of agriculture.
Mr. Ricardo was not disposed to refuse inquiry to the petitioners, though he thought, under the present state of the country, such a question ought not to be moved but under the soundest discretion. The labouring classes throughout the kingdom were reduced to the greatest distress. That was not the period, therefore, when measures should be taken to increase the price of corn. The agricultural interest had its depression, but still it was to be considered as one class, whose prosperity ought not to be forced at the sacrifice of the general good. There was not a more important question than that of the corn laws. Nothing, in his mind, was better calculated to afford general relief than the lowering of the price of corn. It was the first step to that great remedy, the making labour productive.
25 May 1820
Lord Milton presented a petition from the agriculturists of Yorkshire praying for protection against foreign competition.
Mr. Ricardo said, that the object of the petitioners seemed to him to be nothing else than to get a monopoly of the English market. The consequence would be, that the price of corn would be raised, and laid generally on all the other classes. The idea which the petitioners had of protecting duties was a most erroneous one, and would, if acted upon, be destructive of all commerce. If they meant that the countervailing duties should be equal in amount to the difference between the price at which corn could be sold here and that at which it was sold in a foreign market, they went upon a most erroneous principle, and one which, he hoped, would never be introduced. Suppose corn sold here at 80s., and that in Poland it could be procured for 40s. or 50s.; if, under such circumstances, it were intended to put on a countervailing duty of 30s., there would be an end of all importation, and of every principle of commerce. In that case, the importer would be at a certain loss by the amount of freight, and of course no one would import; the consequence would be, that the price of corn at home would be raised to an exorbitant height. Viewing the question in this light, he hoped that the motion for a committee, whenever it came before the House, would be negatived.