Mr. Wilmot Horton
said, that he had given notice of three motions for that evening. The first was 939 for a copy of the Report laid before the colonial department by lieut. colonel Cock-burn on the subject of Emigration; together with the instructions received from that department on the 26th of January, 1827; the second was, for leave to bring in a bill to revive and amend an act for regulating vessels carrying passengers to foreign parts: the last was for leave to bring in a bill to enable parishes in England, under given regulations, and for a limited period, to mortgage their poor-rates for the purpose of assisting voluntary Emigration. The last of these motions he would postpone to the 13th of March. As to the second, he had brought it forward at the desire of the colonial department; but as he understood that there was an intention to oppose it, he would postpone it to a future day, when a minister of the Crown might be present to take a part in the discussion. The sole subject, therefore, to which he should now call the attention of the House was that of Emigration from the United Kingdom; having reference to the reports of the two committees; the one in 1826, the other in 1827; which committees had examined an infinite number of individuals; and had made very copious reports, accompanied by suggestions of the course which in their opinion it was advisable to adopt. In offering his sentiments to the House upon this occasion, he begged it to be most distinctly understood, that he suggested nothing by authority of government, nor did he mean at present to propose any substantive measure. What he wished was, to call the attention of the House generally, to a subject which he was convinced was of the greatest national importance; although the thinness of the House proved to demonstration, that such was not the opinion entertained of it by the House at large. Still, however, he would not shrink from what he felt to be his duty. Whatever apathy might exist with respect to the question, at the present moment, sure he was that the day would come when the subject itself would be deemed of vital consequence. He would now, endeavour to place in as clear a light as he could, the various circumstances of the case; of the general indisposition to attend to which he should be wanting to his public duty if he did not complain. He would refer to the history of Emigration, and to the experiments that had been made with reference to it. In the year 1823, in consequence 940 of the state of the South of Ireland, and of the great inconvenience resulting from the superabundant population in the neighbourhood of Cork, government decided upon sending out, by way of experiment, a certain number of individuals, under the superintendance of Mr. Robinson, a Canadian gentleman, who went to Ireland for the purpose of conducting the individuals in question to the place of their destination. It was never, for a moment, pretended, that the expatriation of this small number of persons could be expected, in the slightest degree, to alleviate the evil to which he had alluded; but it was thought necessary to make an experiment for the purpose of ascertaining how far, in case the exigency should increase, the plan of Emigration could be carried into effect. In the year 1823, a body, consisting of two thousand emigrants, were sent out from the South of Ireland, under the superintendence of Mr. Robinson, and located in the North American Colonies, and the plan, he was happy to say, had entirely succeeded, Many had thought the scheme impolitic in principle, and likely to entail great sufferings upon the settlers, without producing any benefit to this country; but, as far as the first part of the doubts upon the subject reached, the result had proved that they were totally unfounded. These settlers had been as prosperous as those who had promoted the Emigration had anticipated. But when the money was to be voted, the House interfered, and said very naturally, that it was desirable that a committee should be appointed to investigate the whole subject, and that it was inconvenient that the public money should be voted without the House seeing it was clearly advantageous, and being convinced that some substantive good would arise from the proceeding. A committee was appointed in 1826, and another subsequently sat in 1827; and some of the points most essential to the right understanding and conducting of the subject of Emigration have been so well established on the authority of that committee, that they appeared settled beyond dispute. It was established by the labours of this committee, that there was a redundant population in this country. The committee of 1827 supported the doctrine of the committee appointed in 1826; which was, that there existed a redundancy of able-bodied and active labourers, with 941 their families, for whose labours there was no effective demand in either Ireland, Scotland, or England. The effect of this redundancy was, to reduce the wages of the labourer much below the proper level; and the consequence was, destitution and misery amongst great masses of the poor. This doctrine of the committee led to another principle, that the labourers for whose labours no real demand existed consumed more than they produced, and consequently added nothing to the general production of the community, but decreased the national wealth. If it was well known to be the opinion of the persons best informed upon this subject that there were labourers for whose labour no demand existed, the House must admit the main proposition, that such labourers were supported by the country, and it could not grudge any rational effort to effect their removal. He should also mention, that the committee never in any way recommended any but voluntary emigration; it set its face against all ideas of emigration by compulsion. But the House must consider, that if the distress and misery among the people were such as the evidence stated, very little persuasion, much less compulsion, would be necessary to induce the people to avail themselves of any favourable opportunity of bettering their condition. They would be glad to accept of any terms offered to them for removing from scenes of destitution at home, to those of comparative comfort in the colonies.—He was justified in stating, that it was the opinion of the committee, that no issue of money should be made for the purpose of removing emigrants, until plans should be suggested to prevent the filling up of the vacuum produced by emigration. Unless measures were taken upon principle and system to prevent the recurrence of a redundant population, all plans and efforts to relieve the labouring classes by emigration would be frustrated. From 1822 to the present time, his attention had been turned to this subject, not only privately, but with the advantages which his official station afforded him; and although many of the opinions he had first entertained had been confirmed by further investigation and experience, he was willing to admit, that he might have adopted erroneous opinions, had they not been corrected by the labours of the committee in which he had assisted; and if the House were not disposed to allow the committee 942 merit for what they had done, the country was disposed to admit that they had furnished some valuable information, and had afforded new views, with reference to the condition of the country. He must consider it as admitted beyond the possibility of denial, that the expenses incurred with reference to emigration in 1823 and 1825 (putting out of the question whether the expenses were judicious or not, as to the general measure) had answered all the proposed objects and purposes, as far as concerned the condition of the parties removed. But he had heard many gross misrepresentations of the subject in Ireland, and the members of the committee had been characterized as indifferent to human suffering, and influenced by sinister motives; in short, as wholesale murderers. These representations were groundless and false. The returns and information received from North America did not present a single instance of an emigrant whose happiness had not been increased—whose condition had not been greatly improved—by his removal from Europe. The majority removed in 1823 and 1825 had been taken from that collision—that ruinous competition for inferior lands—which was incidental to a redundant population, and transported to the most fertile lands of the colonies—lands of primeval fertility, where they had only to cut down the trees and scratch the surface, in order to produce the most abundant crops. How immense the advantage of removing the redundant and suffering population from Europe to America—of converting them from a distressed tenantry into proprietors of rich lands, competent to supply all their wants, and to establish their immediate descendants beyond the chance of suffering what it is the lot of the great body of the poor at home to suffer! It had been the opinion of every man, that it would be highly to the benefit of individuals, and of the community, to send off the redundant population to North America, but for the expenses of the voyage to Lower Canada: the country not being thought in a condition to incur the expenses of this voyage, or to vote supplies of public money on a demand of charity, it was not thought justifiable to incur this expense in any extended degree. But the committee appointed in 1827 avoided this difficulty, and had proved that emigration, whilst it afforded an immediate and perpetual benefit to this country, could be 943 carried on upon an extended scale, without any permanent expense, but only upon advance of the public money to the emigrants, to be lent upon a security, and under circumstances and regulations which would insure its repayment to the State.—The committee had had an opportunity of examining eleven competent witnesses upon the subject, and they had afforded the most satisfactory evidence to prove this position. He ventured to assert, without the fear of any contradiction, that of these eleven witnesses there was not one whose credit could be impeached; they were men having ample means of possessing the most correct information upon the subject, and had no possible motive for not giving an honest and conscientious opinion. This was a valuable, a conclusive body of evidence, the weight of which could not possibly be resisted. The question had been put by the committee to these witnesses, if it were proper or feasible to hold out to the country a prospect that emigration could be effected without any ultimate expense to the public, and with a hope of the return of the money advanced to the emigrants? It was added, that no proposition could be more dangerous if there were not a sure ground on which to calculate such a result, as a proof that emigration could be carried on to any extent without incurring any expense to the State. With reference to this part of the subject it was, that certain questions were put to the witnesses by the committee, and they were so shaped as to include all points of importance with reference to the question of emigration. They were distinctly asked, what was the expense necessary to provide for the location of a family, consisting of a man, a woman, and three children, in the North American colonies? A comparison of the position of the parties, and a statement of details were given; and the result was, that in the opinion of the witnesses, 50l. sterling, or 66l. currency was enough to pay all the expenses of such an emigrant family, and to locate and establish them, so that they could go on afterwards securely—on their own resources, and commence a repayment on this advance of money in five years. Of these 66l. currency, forty were to be expended in provisions; as it would be necessary that such a family, so situated should be supplied with rations for fifteen mouths, so as to put them out of all chance of want, and prevent any embarrassment 944 which might prevent their using their full exertions to avail themselves of the advantages set before them. In this case, they could avail themselves of their first crop.—The next question was as to the concurrence of the witnesses in this estimate. Some persons thought the estimate too low. Not a family went out to the colony without calling another after them—not a settler of 1823 or 1825 had been located sufficiently long to see his real situation and prospects, without writing to his friends in Europe to describe his good fortune in having emigrated, and to implore his friends to follow his example; to come out to the means of enjoying plenty, and with a certainty of avoiding want.—The next question put by the committee to the witnesses was, whether they considered that the settlers, if they did not pay interest for seven years, would have any difficulty to pay 4l. per annum in money or in kind; and whether they would have power to pay off the principal at any time? The answers of the witnesses were uniform and concurrent, as to the fact of the emigrants being able to pay the sums advanced to them. They were asked, whether this would not be facilitated if it were clearly explained to the emigrants and settlers, that it was exacted from them not as a rent of land, but as a payment of interest of money lent to them at their own request, advanced in kind, and which they might repay in kind. The unanimous answer of the witnesses was in the affirmative. But the facts established by this testimony had been otherwise confirmed, and in a very remarkable manner. In 1827, his majesty's government had sent out colonel Cockburn to America; a gentleman perfectly well qualified to collect every species of information upon the subject. He was sent out in order to survey and report upon the North American colonies, with reference to their respective aptitude to receive emigrants from the mother country, and he was directed to ascertain if the majority of the settlers would be able to pay back the money advanced to them, for the purpose of enabling them to locate. Colonel Cockburn had presented an able report upon the subject, and it was for this report that he was now about to move; for he was convinced that members would derive from it information which would enable them to form clear and precise views upon the subject. Colonel Cockburn had passed 945 through a great part of the country which had been lately located, and which had consequently afforded him an opportunity of acquiring the most accurate information as to the wants, the progress, the hopes, the exertions, and the capabilities of the settlers. He had conversed with them on the spot, and had himself witnessed their condition. To his questions relative to the abilities of the settlers to repay the money advanced to them by government for their location, the answers never varied. They all said, that if they had good land, at the expiration of five years they would be able to repay at the rate of five pounds a year, provided that government would receive the repayment in produce. With respect to their ability to make the payment in money, they were less confident; and they thought that such a mode of re-payment would be necessarily uncertain, and attended with difficulties. Colonel Cockburn visited the settlers that had been located by Mr. Robinson—the Lanark settlers; and the military settlers that had been sent out ten years ago, under circumstances different from those of other emigrants. These military settlers consisted of discharged soldiers, who were transported to the colonies, and provided for, on the condition of each individual giving up his pension. The Lanark settlers were provided for, upon a plan of their re-paying back the sums advanced, by annual instalments, to be completed in ten years. Colonel Cockburn had regretted that he had not taken down the precise words of the emigrants; and that he could consequently only give a report of the general impressions made upon his mind by what they said. Colonel Cockburn had particularly visited Perth, and Bathurst, and a third district. There were twelve statements contained in the report. In one of these statements, colonel Cockburn relates, that in the military settlement the discharged soldiers told him that when they came into the country there was scarcely one of them that possessed a penny; but that in the first year they had received from government enough to make their families comfortable, and that in five years they had each a good house and a stock of cattle. One showed four oxen, several cows, and a good live stock, for which he said he would not take 150l., and in nine years he expected to increase his stock to such an extent as to be worth at least 300l. 946 sterling. Other witnesses had given precisely similar accounts of other settlements. The emigrants in every settlement had said, that at the end of five years they should be able to repay their advances, not in money but in kind. The settlers when once established were in a condition to employ other labourers, and they would soon create a market for the manufactures of this country, and thus be productive of national wealth in both hemispheres. Colonel Cockburn had made his inquiries with an intelligence and in a spirit which reflected upon him great honour. If there were those who doubted the evidence of the colonial witnesses, of colonel Cockburn and colonel Talbot,—he would refer them to the evidence contained in letters written from settlers to their friends, some of which he had selected from many hundreds. This particular evidence was most likely to produce an effect on the minds of those who were sceptical; and, above all, it was the sort of evidence best calculated to make an impression on the minds of those who would be tempted to emigrate, if they could be satisfied that it would be advantageous to them. One passage from a letter he would read to the House as being very characteristic. The writer said to his friends in Ireland—"Here we are, without any consideration of landlord or proctor, and with plenty of good eating and drinking. I am constantly in trouble of mind from not having you and mother with me here. I am sure you will say it was the happiest day of your life if you come." The writer then proceeded to mention some half dozen persons, whom he wished to come out to him, and concluded as follows:—"Likewise bring my brother-in-law, Cornelius Lane, with you, and Judy Lane, and by all means don't leave Mary and Ellen behind. Come to the land of plenty, there is no such thing as want here." Such letters as that were the best argument that could be advanced to disprove Mr. O'Connel's assertion, that emigration from Ireland was a delusion. So long as letters of that description were written by emigrants, so long would there be a disposition on the part of their friends to proceed to join them. He would now entreat the attention of the House to a few observations on the state of Ireland. Whither, he asked, would the system of perpetual division of property in Ireland lead, if it did not receive some positive check? Every where 947 it was stated, that the irruption of paupers from Ireland was attended with the worst consequences to our own population. He had never heard any plausible remedy suggested for this evil, unless it was to get rid of the sub-letting system. It was in evidence before the committee, that many landlords were restrained from removing their tenants only from the apprehension that they would spread themselves over the provinces of Ireland, and commit every possible act of rapine and disorder. Could any man doubt that it would be for the interest of Ireland, if these persons could avail themselves of emigration? Could any man doubt that, under such circumstances, it was the interest of parliament to supply facilities for emigration? Of what possible advantage could the existence of those persons be in this country, and of what benefit might not their exertions be in the colonies? He was satisfied that the subject only required to be calmly considered, and well understood, for the country and parliament to be satisfied that the question of affording facilities to emigration was one which deserved the most serious attention. Further, he was convinced that no practical mode of remedying the evil which was allowed to exist could be devised, that would be so cheap. Could it be doubted that evil resulted in Ireland from persons pressing forward to become possessors of land? Those persons did not bid for land for the purpose of employing their stock or capital upon it, but from a desire to obtain the means of avoiding that starvation which they might be subjected to, if they did not obtain possession of the land. That competition, however, had a natural tendency to produce high rents. That must have been the view which the Irish gentlemen took of the question; but what was the advantage of having nominal high rents, if they were not paid? Under that system, Ireland was fast advancing to a state of Agrarian law, which tended to bring the landed proprietor down to a level with his pauper tenant. Nothing was so effectual as emigration for discouraging the system. Nothing was so common as for people to say, "Let capital flow into Ireland, and all will be well." What was the meaning of that statement? Manufacturing capital would not flow into Ireland, because there was nothing to invite it. Manufacturing capital would go where there was the greatest market, for home consumption, 948 where there was the greatest debouchement. Moreover, it would fix itself in a coal country, on account of the machinery which it employed. Capital would not go to Ireland for cheap labour, when the steam-engine brought that labour within the reach of a bridge with a high toll. Would agricultural capital flow into Ireland? Those who said so misunderstood the mode in which agriculture should be conducted. The introduction of agricultural capital would not have the effect of furnishing employment for much manual labour. If five men were at present employed in draining a field in Ireland, under an improved system of agriculture, that work might be performed by three men, which would cause a saving to the capitalist of the wages of two labourers. If ten men were now employed in thrashing, the capitalist would go to the adjoining town and purchase a thrashing machine, which would supersede the labour of most of the men. A redundancy of population operated against improvements in machinery. It was one of the misfortunes attending the state of the population, that the great principle of the wealth of this country—namely, her machinery—was at present in abeyance, from the impossibility which was found to exist of displacing manual labour from the channels in which it was at present employed. Some persons maintained, that it would be better to employ the redundant population in cultivating the waste lands of Ireland than to send them to the colonies. He believed that no man of any authority in the country could be found to concur in that proposition. If labour was to be applied to cultivation, let it be employed, not upon land which would barely yield a crop, but upon lands which, like those in our colonies, were known to produce the most fertile crops for an indefinite period. But if it was considered desirable to cultivate the waste lands of Ireland, why not try that scheme contemporaneously with emigration, for the purpose of striking a balance between the two plans, and seeing which was likely to be attended with the best results? In connexion with this subject, he begged to call the attention of the noble lord (J. Russell), who had given notice of a motion for a committee to inquire into the causes of the increase of crime, to a charge which had lately been delivered by the chief justice of the Common Pleas. That learned person, had 949 given it as his opinion, that the increase of crime and the lowness of wages were correlative terms. No man, he thought, could doubt that the increase of crime was the result of the lowness of wages, which induced the labouring classes to resort to other means than industry to supply their wants. All these important considerations were interwoven with the question of a redundancy of population. If the redundant portion of the population were extracted from the market, the price of labour would rise. This must be done before it would be possible to withdraw that clause of the poor-laws, which compelled parishes to find employment for the unemployed part of the population. So long as that clause existed, it would act as a bonus on population. Mr. Malthus was of opinion, that unless emigration was extensively resorted to, an alteration of the poor-laws would speedily be found necessary. The opinions held by Mr. Malthus on the subject of emigration were, he was happy to find, adopted by many persons in this country, and in the colonies themselves. Long before it was possible that either the report or the evidence of the last emigration committee could have reached Canada, he found the following resolutions had been passed at Montreal. [Here the right hon. member read some resolutions in favour of emigration.] This, he observed, confirmed the opinion expressed by the committee, as to the want of population in that district. It was worthy of remark, that we had in Canada 111 millions of acres of land capable of cultivation, while in Great Britain the cultivated land amounted to no more than 77 millions of acres; and that, while in Canada the population amounted to no more than one person for each 190 acres, we had in England 57 persons to each 190 acres. He had been informed by Mr. Gallatin, the late American minister, that when he first settled in the United States, he placed himself at the very extreme limit of cultivation, that was to say, upon the borders of the forests, which had, up to that time, been uninhabited; but that, if a line were now to be drawn, it would be found that a tract of country, extending more than 800 miles behind him, had since been brought into cultivation. If the same course were adopted in our colonies—if similar exertions were made—he had no doubt that they would be productive of the like effects. He questioned whether any policy would be more effective than 950 that of giving to some of our colonies a population adequate to their cultivation; and this we might do, by sending out the superabundant population of the sister country. This would at once benefit the individuals and prevent the desperate evils caused by the sub-letting of land in that country. He thought, also, if the practice of letting land adopted in this country was extended to Ireland, it would tend to prevent the too great increase of the population. He looked more to the increased intelligence and information which had been acquired by Irish proprietors upon this subject than to any other remedy. Much, however, might be expected from a judicious plan of emigration. If they looked to the Cape, they would find, from the evidence of Mr. Pringle that the distresses of the Colony were attributed to the want of labouring persons, and that merchants had even volunteered to send over persons at their own cost. With respect to New South Wales the case was different. That colony was already capable of furnishing products which had an exchangeable value, not only with the mother country, but in various parts of the Eastern Archipelago. She therefore held out great temptations, notwithstanding the extreme difference, in point of distance, between her and the other colonies.—Upon a review of all the circumstances, he was bound to come to the conclusion, not only that the plan of relieving the country by encouraging colonization was beneficial in a direct way, but that it was impossible to lay out capital with a better prospect of ensuring a fair return, than by sending our supernumerary population to Canada. In fact, many parishes were so well aware of this, that they would willingly undertake the expense of sending their own poor, under a conviction that in the present state, and with the peculiar wants of the colony, they could not expect any thing more profitable than an export of population. Nor was it in the home parishes alone that this truth was felt and acknowledged. In the colonies themselves the inhabitants would be most willing to pay the expense of conveyance, if the individuals were articled to them as servants on going out; so great was the demand for labour of all kinds in those places. It was impossible for him to enter into those minute details before the House which would be best inquired into in the committee; but he would say, that those facts were numerous and con- 951 clusive, and that the evidence of colonel Talbot went to confirm that of the witnesses examined before the committee, which were all in favour of carrying a national system of emigration, or rather of colonization, into effect, at as small an expense as possible. He had stated these facts and opinions to the House, because he felt that they referred to a subject of great importance, and upon which no legislative measure ought to be adopted without the sanction and support of public opinion. He had encountered much scepticism in the course of these proceedings. It was natural that he should have done so, and therefore he did not complain. Nothing was more common, or more easy, than to charge those plans with being visionary which were still to be tried. But, whatever charges might be brought against the plan which he was anxious to recommend, nothing could be more conclusive than the evidence by which its practicability was established. The more he saw of the progress of public opinion, the more he was convinced of the increasing disposition to look at this subject with an impartial eye; and though, perhaps, they were not yet prepared to go to the full extent of his wishes, the day, he believed, was not far distant when the country would approach the question, and deal with it upon those sound principles which alone could ensure success to the experiment. It was not improbable that he, like many others to whom the task of suggesting new measures was assigned by the circumstances of the times, might have to look forward to some future period for that strong support which seldom attended the early stages of any improvement; if so, it would be his duty to submit with patience, but he still should have the consolation of thinking, that sooner or later the importance of the facts he had been instrumental in collecting, would be acknowledged by the public voice.—Having thus dismissed the general subject, he now came to the Passengers' act, of which he had given notice for that day. It was with regret he had heard that an hon. friend of his had expressed an intention to oppose it. He would admit that this act was objectionable, as its effect was, to check emigration; but still he would have preferred the middle course, of qualifying and revising, instead of repealing it. The necessity of some such measure was to be inferred from the evidence which government 952 had received on the subject. There was a despatch from sir Howard Douglas, which represented the starving and distressed condition in which many of the emigrants had arrived at Halifax. Such was the effect of leaving unfortunate passengers to the consideration of those who speculated in their transport. No one, he thought, who looked at the subject without prejudice would leave the ignorant persons who crowded to the coasts of Ireland, either at the mercy of the captains with whom they sailed, or to their own unassisted discretion in providing for the voyage. The most calamitous results might be expected in either case; nay, had actually resulted from the operation of the present measure. The despatch of sir James Kemp, also from Halifax, alluded to the same distress and misery which was noticed in that of sir H. Douglas. It was from a knowledge of these facts, that he thought the whole bill ought to be revived, under certain modifications. The object of that modification would be, to establish a minimum of space and of food, below which the emigrant should not be supplied. The utility of such a rule was proved, not merely by the disadvantages which had arisen from its neglect, but by the positive advantage with which its adoption was attended. Of the two thousand individuals who were taken from Ireland in 1825, when this law was in force, the health and comfort of the emigrants was properly attended to. There were no deaths on the voyage, no sickness, nor was there a single instance of crime. From the papers on the table it appeared, that the amount of misery inflicted upon passengers by the want of some positive regulation with respect to the amount of space and of food, was greater than might be expected. It was to prevent the recurrence of such misery, that he was desirous to introduce a modified bill, asking only for the establishment of a minimum with respect to these two important points. The United States had already passed a measure, to prevent the introduction of emigrants into that country, except under certain regulations. Our own colonies would feel the benefit of so slight a regulation as that which he proposed; and, above all, the emigrants themselves would feel it, and the opinion of the country would be more favourably disposed, in consequence of it, to the general measure from which he anticipated so much good. The emigration which he contemplated was essentially 953 voluntary. Founded upon that principle, it would be attended with great advantage, both as respected the colonies and the mother country. Without it the measure must necessarily fall to the ground. He would own, that unless it was generally felt to be of vital importance, unless it had the public opinion strongly expressed in its favour, it would be unsafe for any government to meddle with a matter of so much delicacy. But he trusted that the attention of the House and of the country would not only be vigorously applied to the subject, but would be strongly influenced by the recommendations in which their committees had concurred. The right hon. gentleman concluded by moving for a "copy of the report of lieutenant colonel Cockburn, laid before the Colonial Department, on the subject of Emigration; together with the Instructions received from that Department on the 26th January 1827."
said, that the repayment of any sum of money advanced to the emigrants would be much easier than was generally anticipated. To prove his assertion he referred to the evidence given by Mr. Benton before the Emigration Committee. He was convinced that, if the emigration was conducted upon a wise and suitable plan, and if the settlers could be placed, not at a distance from the cultivated part of the Canadas, but upon the confines of civilization; so as to be enabled, after planting their own land, to earn some remuneration by labouring for others, it would require no assistance from this country to support the settler after he had once been sent out. Besides, even if he could support himself, the Legislative Assembly of Canada had declared itself willing to give him assistance. If government would either give up part of the Crown lands, or should part with the supremacy over them, the assembly would provide for the support of every indigent person who might be sent over into that province. He believed there was greater difficulty experienced in preventing settlers from going from Canada into the United States, than in providing for them in that colony. One of the greatest objections to emigration to Canada was the tenure under which land was held in that colony. A law was passed several years ago to remove those objections, but it had never been carried into effect.
§ Mr. James Grattan
said, he looked at the question of emigration purely as one 954 of money. There were two ways in which it might be carried into execution—either by the grant of a million of the public money, or by sums advanced by individual speculation. The right hon. gentleman had told them, that if the public advanced the money, it should not be considered as so much money lost, but simply as a loan. He would admit that if we were allowed to take corn from the Canadas in payment of our advances, we might not lose our money; but he had yet to learn how far that would be permitted. With respect to individual speculation, he had not yet heard of any one Irish proprietor who had offered to advance 50l. a head for the removal of his tenantry. As far as he could learn, the feeling of the Irish proprietors was, that their money, if they must raise a sum by assessment among themselves, would be much better expended upon local improvements, than upon objects which took their money to a distant country, and removed to a very distant time all hopes of being remunerated for the outlay of it. It was easy to talk of expending a million of the public money on such objects: but were we bound to exhaust our finances, and to export our population to bring the Canadas into a state of cultivation? The great difficulty, it appeared, was to keep the emigrants, when once they got to Canada, from quitting it for the United States; and certainly we did not want an influx of the Irish population to increase their strength and their hostility towards England. It was proposed, too, that the million of money should be distributed by a public board; and individuals had gone so far as to form the emigrants into different classes for exportation. The first class to be exported consisted of those who had teen ejected from their farms; the second, of those who were under process of ejectment; and the third, of those whom the board might select from the population at large. Now, he must say, that such a plan appeared to him to be most censurable. The evil under which Ireland now suffered was the movement of the tenantry, and this plan was calculated to aggravate it; for as soon as an Irish proprietor could ascertain that it was to be carried into effect, he would write to his agent to serve writs of ejectment on his tenantry, in order that they might be qualified for selection by the Board of Emigration. If the right hon. gentleman could force the gentry of Ire- 955 land to attend to the state of their property in that country, and could induce them not to let their estates be overpeopled, much of the evil under which Ireland now laboured might be relieved without having recourse to any organized system of emigration at the expense of the public.
said, he had no sanguine expectations of success from the scheme which the right hon. gentleman had propounded to the House. In order to make such a scheme of advantage to England, it must be attended not only with an alteration of the whole system of our Poor-laws, but with some measure which would prevent the influx of such numbers of Irish paupers as were daily finding their way over into England. He was decidedly of opinion, that there was little chance of any repayment of the money advanced to the emigrants for the purpose of carrying them abroad.
Sir F. Burdett
agreed, that the subject demanded their most serious attention. He did not, however, think that the House was furnished at present with the means of forming a correct judgment on the details of the plan. There was no person who was more convinced of its importance than he was; for he thought it the best, and, indeed, the only way of relieving the distresses of both England and Ireland; and he considered it as much an English as an Irish question, and one of as great importance as any taken up by the leading politicians of the day, whether with regard to the freedom of trade, the education of the people, or Catholic emancipation. He thought the right hon. gentleman deserved the highest credit for the perseverance and ability with which he had called the attention of the House to the subject.
agreed entirely with the hon. baronet, that this was by no means an Irish question, but one as closely connected with the welfare and happiness of England as any that could occupy the attention of parliament. The subject was one of great importance, even if taken in no other view than that it would give a check to the progress of misery, the termination of which no one could foresee. As to the Poor-laws of England, it would be his duty to bring this matter shortly before the House, and he would therefore abstain from making any observation upon it. He only wished now to thank the 956 right hon. member for the labour he had bestowed, and the attention he had given, to a subject of such vital importance. He advised hon. members to read the report of the Emigration-committee, before they found fault with its recommendations.
§ Mr. Leycester
avowed himself an enemy to emigration, which appeared to him to be a system of gross impolicy, and might, indeed, be termed a system of statistical suicide. If he were asked what was to be done with a superabundant population, he would answer, employ them in improving and cultivating the waste lands, which would give employment to thousands. Such cultivation was certainly impeded by barriers of no ordinary difficulty; namely, the poor-laws, tithes, and taxes; but remove them, and the advantages would be of easy attainment. He had himself paid no less than 6,000l. for reclaiming a hundred acres of waste land, and it would not have cost him more than half that sum if it had not gone into his majesty's Exchequer.
§ Mr. Benett
said, it was clear from the report on emigration, that whatever vacuum we might make would be filled up as rapidly as it was made. Under these circumstances, he thought no sum of money would effect the proposed object. He would not, however, object to the remedy proposed without stating another. The right hon. gentleman had said, that the land in this country and in Ireland was exhausted. That could not be true; for the bogs of Ireland had never been touched with the plough. The real embargo on cultivation was to be found in the amount of taxes and tithes; in the uncertainty in the price of corn, and in the value of money. If these evils were removed, neither England nor Ireland would be found to have a surplus population. Men, when unemployed, had lately been spoken of as a sort of mischievous animal of which the country must be rid at any rate, and as if no means would be too great to effect such a riddance. Every other domestic animal had its price; but man seemed to be considered so far inferior to them, that instead of claiming a price we offered one to get him away. Our colonists, wiser than ourselves, were willing to do what they could to obtain what we thus foolishly rejected. Was it not possible, therefore, for us to make a profit of the concern? Could we not sell the unfortunate wild Irish who were now proposed to be re- 957 moved at our expense? We might make money by such a measure; and in these days of economy such a consideration ought not to be neglected. The poor wretches themselves would not suffer more in being sold to the colonies, than they would in being banished from their native land. He had an objection to allowing the overseers to superintend the emigration from their respective parishes, as he conceived that much oppression and distress would result from such a plan. By voluntary emigration they would get rid of the valuable and enterprising members of society, and the evil which was said to afflict this country and Ireland would remain undiminished. The want of employment was the great evil, and that could be best remedied by removing the obstacles which stood in the way of the employment of the poor, instead of resorting to this comparatively useless measure of emigration. From time to time there was an immense number of men sentenced to seven years transportation. These men were confined for three or four years on board the hulks, and then, after their education has been perfected, they were again let loose upon the public. Why not send these men abroad at once for seven years? He, as a magistrate, was well aware of the evil created by allowing them to return back to society: they generally resorted to their old habits, and when next taken were hanged. By getting rid of that class of persons a real good would be effected. They would leave a land where their character was forfeited for ever, and would be introduced to a new country, where they might in time become worthy members of society. He was for getting rid of the bad, and for keeping the good. He should be glad to see the hon. member's plan confined to an emigration of those individuals.
said, there were more difficulties opposed to the plan recommended by the hon. member for Wiltshire, than to that introduced by his right hon. friend. If the corn-laws, the currency, and all those other difficulties, were disposed of, then they might think of cultivating the waste lands of Ireland, in order to give employment to the lower orders. It was, however, the opinion of many, and especially of those who were advocates for the principles of free trade, that too much land was already under the plough; and sure he was, that in England 958 the tillage of waste lands had been carried to the utmost extent that could be profitable. If the hon. member could introduce a higher degree of cultivation, it would only tend to the increase of the evil. He entirely agreed with what had fallen from the hon. baronet, the member for Westminster, and only regretted that his speech was not heard in a more crowded House. He perfectly coincided with him that there was no question, not excepting the Catholic question, or that of free trade, equal in importance to the one now under discussion. He agreed that it was as much an English as an Irish question. In bringing it forward, the most persevering attention and indefatigable industry had been manifested by his right hon. friend. During the last session he had been incessantly engaged in labours connected with it, and he had succeeded in eliciting a most important body of evidence, which it would be well for hon. members to weigh thoroughly before they approached the consideration of the question at large. He considered the proposed plan perfectly practicable as far as it regarded England, and was convinced that it would be highly advantageous to the lower orders. The mal-administration of the poor-laws in some parts of the country had reduced the price of labour to a level degrading to humanity. He would mention a fact illustrative of the degraded state to which the poor had been thus reduced. It occurred in the parish of Harrow. The peasantry in that part of the country were actually put up to auction. A single man generally fetched 5s. a week; a married man, with his wife, brought 7s.; and for a married man with a family something higher was given. This auction took place regularly every week, and the labourers were knocked down to the highest bidders. The practice had been abolished through the exertions of the magistrates, but it afforded a strong proof of the degraded condition to which the poor-laws had reduced the English peasantry. Emigration would relieve the country in a great degree, as its immediate effect would be a rise in the price of labour.
§ Mr. John Smith
, as a member of the Emigration-committee, felt it to be his duty to bear testimony to the assiduity and zeal displayed by the right hon. gentleman. Certain calculations connected with the right hon. gentleman's plan might 959 not be accurate, but he considered the principle of the plan admirable, and he believed it was the only one calculated to assist the poor of this country and of Ireland. Reference had been made to himself, as he had taken a share in the distribution of the money subscribed for the relief of the manufacturers who had been involved in great distress; and he would therefore allude to a circumstance, as bearing upon the question. The committee had been solicited to send relief for a thousand families in Glasgow, and it was distinctly proved before them, that the whole amount of food consumed in one year by any one of those distressed individuals, was not worth more in money than from 25s. to 28s. It was distinctly proved that such was the miserable sustenance furnished to a human being in the course of the twelve months. He would leave the House to imagine what must be the condition of the poor in the western parts of this country, where the emigration of the Irish was incessant. The Irish, who came over in shoals, had been accustomed at home to subsist upon a very small quantity of food: they offered their labour at the lowest possible price, and they thus threw the Scotch and English labourers out of the market. Some attempt should be made to put a stop to this excessive nuisance. There were few counties in England exempt from its operation. It was even felt in Sussex, a county the most distant from Ireland, and where it might be supposed these poor wretches would not find their way. The only mode of preventing this emigration from Ireland was, to find employment for the peasantry at home. That was the only mode of putting an end to the irruptions of the Irish peasantry. English capital would not go to Ireland, though, to his certain knowledge, six per cent had been offered for it. There were large quantities unemployed at present, and yet no man would lend money at six per cent upon land in Ireland, because he was afraid that the principal, not to mention the interest, would never be repaid. He had not the least doubt but if Ireland were pacified by the restoration of her rights, that three months would not elapse after the passing of the measure, before English capital would find its way into that country, and sufficient employment be afforded to the population. There was no other 960 mode on earth by which they could improve the condition of the poor of that country. So long as emancipation should be denied, so long would the population of Ireland continue wretched and degraded. So long as it was refused, her peasantry would come over in shoals, and crowd our shores with misery and wretchedness, being assured that they could not encounter greater hardships here than they already endured at home. For himself, he approved of the principle of emigration. The plan proposed by the right hon. gentleman was well worthy of their serious attention. In a part of the country where he resided, there were eighty-four labourers in one parish, not one of whom was not paid a portion of his subsistence out of the parish funds. An excellent Quaker gentleman, Mr. W. Allen, with whom he was acquainted, having visited that parish, described it, to use his own expression, as in a state of "spiritual darkness," and added, that it had no regular clergyman. Indeed, the inhabitants laboured under all kinds of destitution. Mr. Allen established a school there, and at his request, he (Mr. J. Smith) took a farm in the parish, and built upon it seven cottages, to each of which he annexed an acre and a quarter of land. The cottages were erected at convenient distances, and the tenant holding the cottage was to pay for the ground attached to it. He had not had to complain of a single defaulting tenant amongst them. He might be accused of encouraging, in this instance, the further increase of the already too great population of the country. Such was not the case. The moral and industrious habits which enabled these men to cultivate this small quantity of land would also induce them to prevent their children from marrying at seventeen or eighteen, and thus perpetuating in them that misery which had been before entailed upon themselves. He was confident that his tenants would not permit them to marry unless they could reckon upon a sufficiency for their support. If other gentlemen were to try the experiment, they would find it productive of considerable benefit.
§ Mr. W. Whitmore
said, there could be no doubt but it would be a great advantage to send the unemployed Irish to the colonies. At the same time he could not help thinking that insuperable difficulties 961 opposed the carrying the measure of emigration into effect: the first lay in preventing the filling up of the vacuum occasioned by the abstraction of the emigrants: the next consisted in the large sums of money that would be required to carry into effect any extensive plan of emigration. He should be glad to see those difficulties overcome; but at present they appeared to him insuperable.
Sir J. Graham
asked the Secretary for the Colonies, whether it really was the intention of government to re-introduce the Passengers' act, after the report of the last session?
Mr. Secretary Huskisson
said, he felt, in common with his right hon. friend, that no matter required earlier attention than the revival of certain provisions of the Passengers' act. If the hon. baronet had seen all the reports from New Brunswick and the other colonies, to which there was a considerable emigration last year, he would be satisfied of the propriety of such a course. Those who arrived brought with them contagious disorders of the worst description: the gaol fever devastated whole townships, to the destruction, in some instances, of not less than one-tenth of the population. The interests of humanity loudly demanded that immediate measures should be taken to secure for the passengers in those vessels a sufficient space, and a due attention to their comforts and accommodation. There were many provisions in the old act of an objectionable nature, and which government did not propose to revive; but no time should be lost in reviving the material provisions of the act, as the season was fast approaching when vessels with passengers would be clearing for the Colonies and North America. He would not enter then upon the discussion of the subject immediately before the House, nor examine whether there existed an excess of population beyond that for which employment could be found. But, although that was an evil in itself, there were other evils and other considerations which should be attended to. One of the greatest of these—an evil not impossible in any country, and not improbable in this—was, that there might exist a great emigration from amongst the population without a corresponding emigration of capital; and thus they would be only transferring a portion of the mischief existing to other quarters of the world. 962 If individuals were encouraged to emigrate, they should be enabled to employ themselves profitably in the new countries to which they were sent; and the capital at present lying idle in this country might probably be advantageously put in requisition for that purpose.
§ The motion was agreed to.