§ Sir E. Knatchbull
brought up the report of the Address on the King's Speech. Upon the motion, that it be read a second time,
§ Lord A. Hamilton
said, that it was not his intention to trouble the House at any length, but he could not allow the present opportunity to pass without impressing on the minds of the right hon. gentlemen opposite the necessity of attending to the distress of that part of the country with which he was connected. When the House recollected that fourteen or fifteen weeks ago the commerce and manufactures of the country had been represented to be in a most flourishing condition, and when they compared that declaration with the statements in the Speech delivered yesterday from the throne, they must all be struck with the sudden change which had taken place in the aspect of the country; and he, for one, should not think that he discharged his duty conscientiously, if he did not on the present occasion suggest what he conceived might be applied in mitigation of the evil. They would all remember that a sum of 50,000l. had been voted last 41 year for the purpose of promoting emigration to the Cape of Good Hope; and the object of that grant was, undoubtedly, that which the House and his majesty's ministers ought to have in view—the alleviation of distress. There were in that House many honourable members who were as well acquainted as he was with the present situation of the distressed part of Scotland, and particularly his hon. friend opposite (Mr. Finlay), whose connexion with Glasgow led him necessarily to know the state of that part of the country; and he was sure it must be their opinion, that if ministers meant to assist those who were disposed to emigrate, they ought to give that assistance immediately. Many persons in that country were in such an absolute state of destitution, that they looked on their existence as a burthen which they could scarcely support. They could neither maintain themselves nor their families; and the period was fast approaching, when without food and without raiment, they must either perish, or prolong their existence by the plunder of their neighbours. He could not, therefore, let this opportunity pass without urging on ministers the necessity of turning their attention to the deplorable state of things; and, if they seriously applied their minds to the subject, they would not only be conferring a benefit on the sufferers, but would be taking the most effectual means of suppressing that disturbance of which they complained. He must say, that, from the spirit and temper of ministers, they seemed to have greatly under-rated the distress which at present existed in the northern part of the kingdom. They had ascribed a larger portion of the disturbance to disaffection than to distress, and had applied force to quell disturbances which would have been more effectually suppressed by furnishing the means of subsistence. The right hon. gentlemen opposite were more willing to facilitate emigration to the Cape of Good Hope than to any other quarter of the world: and the reasons for this preference he could not perceive, especially as most of those who were inclined to emigrate from Scotland had powerful reasons to induce them to go to our settlements in America, rather than to Africa. He begged to call on his majesty's ministers to say what part of the money which had been voted last year for the promotion of emigration, had been applied to that purpose; how 42 many persons had availed themselves of the offer of government; and what had been the result of the plan, as far as it had been adopted. He concluded by observing, that any delay in the application of a remedy to the evils which he had pointed out would not only be disastrous in itself, but would render more difficult the attainment of that ultimate object which ought to be kept in view—the suppression of the present disturbances in Scotland.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
stated, in reply to the questions of the noble lord, that the expense already incurred considerably exceeded the 50,000l. which had been voted by parliament for the encouragement of emigration, though all the charges had not yet been defrayed. As to the number of those who had availed themselves of this assistance, he had to inform the noble lord, that upwards of 5,000 persons had already gone to the Cape of Good Hope; and, when the last accounts were received from them, they had performed part of the voyage in good health, and had the prospect of terminating it prosperously. When the noble lord recommended North America as a preferable place for emigrants to resort to, he apprehended the noble lord was not aware of the representations which had been received from that quarter. In America the greatest distress at present prevailed, and the manufactures of that country were in as languishing a state as those of our own. To send the destitute to that quarter would be, therefore, only to shift the scene of distress, and to transport them to poverty on a foreign shore. The British provinces of America were also so overloaded with emigration, that the strongest remonstrances had been made on the subject by the government of Canada; It proved a great grievance both to the government and the people; and, under these circumstances, he thought it would be highly premature to adopt any plan for the promotion of emigration to that quarter. His majesty's ministers were not reluctant to assist those who were distressed at home in looking for a happier lot on any foreign shore; but such a measure should not be hastily or prematurely adopted. With regard to farther emigration to the Cape of Good Hope, government wished, in the first place, to learn the success of those who had already gone out, before they encouraged any farther emigration to that set- 43 tlement on a more extended scale. He hoped the House and the noble lord would do his majesty's ministers the justice to think that they did not feel any reluctance to assist the distressed part of the population in seeking that comfort on foreign shores which circumstances prevented them from enjoying at home, though they might not appear so forward as some expected in tendering that assistance.
§ Mr. Finlay
agreed with what had been stated by his noble friend respecting the distressed state of the country; and when the right hon. gentleman stated that only 5,000 persons had gone to the Cape of Good Hope, the House would see that by the regulations adopted it had been impossible for the distressed population to relieve themselves. It was impossible for them to pay any sum of money, however small; and therefore, if the means of emigration were not granted unconditionally, and as a boon, he feared they could not avail themselves of the opportunity afforded. He believed his noble friend was in possession of many communications, as he himself was, from persons who, though perfectly willing to emigrate, could not transport themselves, being destitute of all means whatever. He was confident that the subject required only to be brought forward by government in such a practical manner as to engage attention, and that a sum of money, comparatively small, would be productive of great benefit, since those who were removed would not only be relieved themselves, but would relieve those to whom they were at present a burthen.
§ The Address was agreed to nem. con.