That the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland be authorised to direct the issue, out of the Consolidated Fund of the said United Kingdom, of any sum, not exceeding 50,000l., for affording relief to certain distressed Poor Law Unions in Ireland.
§ Resolution read 2°.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the Resolution, to add the words—
Provided that the money be advanced only as a loan, and repayment secured by a lien on the lands liable to the uncollected Rates, with power of sale for its recovery.
§ MR. P. SCROPE
said, he hoped the House would not make light of his Amendment, and say that, because of the apparent insignificance of the amount of 50,000l., it did not matter whether the grant of such a paltry sum was made a free gift or a loan in aid of the Irish unions in question. The sura, indeed, might seem very small, but the principle involved in such grants was very large and very important; and as he thought it a very unwise and very' pernicious one, he trusted he would be excused for troubling the House with the reasons that compelled him to make a determined stand against it. The House would remember that, only a few months ago, a vote of 132,000l., for similar purposes, had been called for and acceded to in that House, not to say anything of the millions that had been granted to Ireland a very few years ago. But looking to the probable future state of Ireland, could any one possibly suppose that this could be the last vote which they would be called upon to make for a similar purpose? On the contrary, he agreed with the estimate of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), that the probable wants for these twenty-one unions for the current year, beyond the small sum they would be able to collect from the rates, would be about half a million sterling; and how this deficiency was to be made up was the real question. These twenty-one unions had only paid last year a rate of 2s. 1d. in the pound; and a deficiency of 10s. in the pound had to be made up by the Government and the British Relief Association. A similar deficit—if, indeed, not a greater one—must be expected this year. How, then, was it to be met? Intimations had been given in the public papers the other day, that very possibly a rate in aid would be required in Ireland to supplement these deficiencies. But the number of districts that could afford to contribute towards this fund, after maintaining their own poor, would be very limited, and he doubted very much whether they would be able to collect 3d. or 6d. additional rate in many unions in Ireland. Many of them were struggling under extraordinary difficulties, and were barely able to support themselves; and to impose a rate in aid upon them would only reduce them into the same bankrupt condition as the twenty-one unions which they were called upon to assist, and thereby increase the number of unions that must be supplied with extra aid. This increase 786 would again decrease the number that could assist the most distressed unions—this, again, would in its turn widen the sphere of bankruptcy; and so the evil would go on, perpetuating and aggravating itself in the most frightful manner. He, therefore, saw no other means of making up the deficiency that must inevitably exist for the next two or three years, except by coming from time to time upon the public treasury'. He believed this House had sanctioned the principle, by repeated and large majorities, that the Irish poor had the same claim upon the State to be kept from starvation as the poor of our own country had; and this responsibility could not by any fair means be avoided. The House, he was convinced, would never suffer the people of Ireland to be decimated by hunger, or allow their means of relief to be cut down below the allowance necessary for supporting life; and where, then, were the funds to maintain them to be procured from? Now, he (Mr. Scrope) contended, that all gratuitous grants in aid were opposed to the main principle of our poor-laws, which he believed to be local responsibility for local destitution. Rates in aid were almost unknown in England; still less any application for national grants of this description. The House, however, was now called upon to establish a principle that would absolve the districts from their local responsibility, and thereby offer a direct premium to the non-payment of the rates; they would actually hold out a bonus to parties to resist their collection. He understood it was intended to adopt the rule of not pressing the collection any longer when a difficulty was experienced in raising the rates; but if they laid down this limit, and excused all those who were liable by law just whenever a difficulty was experienced in the process of collection, and then made levies upon other parties who were not now liable either in this country or in Ireland, he maintained they would be pursuing a most dangerous course—a course that would discourage all self-reliance in any given locality, that would open the door to fraud and collusion of every kind, in order to prevent the seizure of property for the rates. Under such a system it would be perfectly impossible, lot them use whatever measures of force they chose, to collect the rates, if they once said that parties from whom it was difficult to get their quota must be excused. But look at the injustice they would inflict 787 upon those upon whom they called to supply the deficiency. If some tremendous calamity, or providential visitation were confined to any particular locality—say an earthquake ravaging the entire western coast of Ireland, Parliament might all very well then step into support the population; but how stood the facts of the present case? Why, the same calamity that had desolated the western coast of Ireland, had extended itself throughout not only the whole of Ireland, but England and Scotland had suffered under its ravages. The west of Ireland was only suffering from the calamity in a peculiar degree, because, for a series of years, the landed property of the country had been abominably mismanaged and abused; and he would ask were the sins of these western landlords to be visited upon the heads of those who had nothing-whatever to do with them? If this system were to be followed out, what would become of the stimulus which the poor-law was to give to individual exertion and habits of prudence and self-reliance? Why, they would actually offer a premium to mismanagement and improvidence, if they told the landowners, in this way, that whenever a difficulty in collecting the rates was encountered, we would take upon ourselves the duty of supporting their poor for them from English taxes and aids ab extra. How could they expect to stimulate to improvements and the cultivation of the land, which was all that was necessary to restore prosperity to the most wretched districts of Ireland, if they were continually to give the practical lesson, conveyed by those repeated grants, that the landed proprietor's responsibility of maintaining his own poor was at an end whenever it was difficult to levy the rates. It was notoriously undeniable and undenied, that the worst districts were capable by nature of maintaining the population, and that even now there was land enough (without reckoning the millions of waste acres reclaimable) declared by the poor-law inspectors to have been cultivated, and to require all the labour of the able-bodied population of the districts. Why, then, should they not have to maintain their own poor, instead of throwing additional burdens upon the already over-taxed people of this country. Last year the poor-rates in Connaught were only 2s. in the pound; and he (Mr. Scrope) had known districts of England where the hardworking ratepayers had to contribute 6s. and 8s. in the pound for the 788 support of those whose condition was little worse than their own. Why, then, should they be called upon to pay for the poor of Connaught? The rates ought to be exacted from the locality under all circumstances, and not burden other districts which had enough to do to support their own poor. It had been said, that this advance of 50,000l was asked for in order to save life; and advances were, no doubt, necessary for that purpose, but that was no reason why they should exonerate the parties legally liable from the arrears due. The only mode to recover the arrears that were going on accumulating upon many properties was, to make the fee-simple of the land liable for the rates. This was the way in which they might secure repayment either to the hoard of guardians, or to the national exchequer. The stock, flocks, crops, and everything upon the land was liable to seizure for the rates, and he saw no reason why the land should escape untouched. The effect was, that in the west of Ireland arrears were accumulating upon many farms and estates, and no distress being levied on the land, it was thrown entirely out of cultivation, and no tenant could be got to take the land and stock it, because his property in his crops could be seized at any moment for the arrears of rate. The consequence of this state of things was, more land got out of cultivation every day, and the burdens became heavier upon the neighbouring properties; and thus the area of desolation and ruin spread around until the Government was forced to come forward for rates in aid, or for grants. There would be nothing unjust in taking a portion of the fee-simple of the property in payment of the arrears of rate. The mortgagees had no interest in seeing the land lying desolate because of the arrears; and whilst the land continued uncultivated no rent could be obtained. Suppose an estate in Connaught to be liable to a rate of 1,000l. a year, and the arrears upon it to amount to l,000l., it would be liable to go out of cultivation merely because of these arrears of 1,000l., for nobody would hire it and stock it unless they were paid in the first instance. Now, if they allowed 1–25th of the land—supposing it to be worth 25 years' purchase—to be sold to pay the arrears, the remaining 24–25ths might be set free, and it might be stocked, and pay a rent, as well as the debt of the mortgagee or creditor. The 1–25th might be taken possession 789 of by the board of guardians, and sold to satisfy the arrears; or, if the time was unfavourable for a sale, they might lease it to some one who would stock it, and pay them an excellent rent. They could place it in the hands of an active capitalist, who would improve and cultivate it, and thereby employ the population and benefit the whole community generally. This was not an imaginary case, because in many of the districts many estates had been similarly circumstanced. Mr. Burke, late inspector of the Mayo district, stated that the rate in the Ballina union amounted to 5,000l., but it could not be collected. He said it was chiefly duo from landowners; and from the list given in the papers which he (Mr. Scrope) now held in his hand, he found there were eighteen landowners in that district alone whose estates were under receivers. Three were in gaol, and one, who had never paid a farthing yet, had his lands uncultivated and waste, and his house was shut up, to avoid an execution. What hope, then, was there, if they were to excuse these parties the rates? When they made these grants from the Consolidated Fund, or other sources, under these circumstances, it was not the poor they were giving the money of the people to. It was to the bankrupt landowners and their creditors. And why should the ratepayers of Ireland, or the taxpayers of England, be called upon to pay the debts of the bankrupt landowners of Connaught? But independently of this objection, he (Mr. Scrope) asked whether they would have made any real advance towards improving the state of things in Connaught?—whether they would not only be bolstering by their grants the mere nominal proprietors of vast tracts, which, like the dog in the manger, they would not or could not cultivate themselves, nor allow others to do so. Capt. Hamilton, in his statement of the 2nd of January, which had been quoted by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said, that no other remedy for the evil in his district remained but to get a change of proprietors, and the substitution of men of energy and capital. Now, the duty of supporting the poor was the first claim upon the land, and the most effective and simple mode of getting rid of a useless proprietary, and thereby of benefiting the community at large, was to oust the present owners to satisfy the arrears of poor-rates. Last Session an Act had been passed to give 790 the creditor who had the first charge the power of selling the property; and now he (Mr. Scrope) only asked them to apply the same principle in the case of arrears of poor-rates, so as to confer upon the British taxpayers advancing these grants as loans in aid of the Irish unions, the same right of sale, seeing the public became creditors in the first charge, by maintaining the poor, who ought to be supported from the land in their own districts. And this was in fact what the more deserving Irish landowners were beginning to ask for their own protection. Very recently the board of guardians of Ballinasloe held a meeting, and petitioned Parliament to allow defaulting lands to be sold to satisfy the arrears of rate. To this system he believed Parliament would be obliged to come at last, for no other remedy for the evil could be found. He (Mr. Scrope) should next proceed to say a few words on another subject. He proposed that the money should be expended, as far as was possible, in the productive employment of the ablebodied poor. If they adopted the productive system, they would get back the money they lent, and therefore he proposed to lend it; but whether they gave it or lent it, he asked them to look this question in the face, and see if it were not absolutely necessary they should employ the people whom they must feed in productive labour. There were twenty-one unions in a state of bankruptcy, one of which he would take as a specimen, namely, the Ballina union. It was anticipated that in the course of this summer there would be 4,300 ablebodied men in a state of destitution in that union. Their families, it was calculated, would amount to 14,000 more, making altogether 18,300 persons in that union, either ablebodied or depending upon ablebodied men for their support. The whole number of paupers, it was expected, would be 27,000, and, therefore, two-thirds of the paupers of Ballina union would be composed of the ablebodied class. He (Mr. Scrope) asked whether this ablebodied population should be maintained by them in such a way as would enable them to produce sufficient to pay them what they had advanced for their maintenance, or were they to be locked up in workhouses, employed only in breaking stones, and of no use to any person? He (Mr. Scrope) knew that the proceedings in Ireland in the year 1847 would be thrown in his face, and he would be asked if he proposed to repeat that system, and he would be also reminded 791 of the national workshops in Paris; but he begged to call the recollection of hon. Members to this fact, that while the labourers on the useless relief works in Ireland were idling away their time and imposing upon the public—while jobbing in every possible way was carried on, and their money was misapplied—the productive works carried on in the same districts, under Mr. Labouchere's letter, were attended to, and the men employed upon them worked most willingly from morning till night. Amongst the men employed on the productive works there was no want of industry, and their conduct was most admirable, while on the unproductive works there was idleness and imposition. They should treat men as human beings, having a moral sense about them; and if the Irish had a moral sense about them—[Cries of "Hear!"] He did not mean to cast any reflection upon the Irish, but what he meant to do was, to allude to the reflections which were thrown upon them. It was stated that they were Celts, that they were an idle race, and that nothing could induce them to be industrious. He had refuted that assertion over and over again. And with regard to those very Mayo men, it was notorious throughout England that they were the persons who cut their harvest, and were most laborious. But there was another quality the Irishman had, and that was acuteness; and if they set an Irishman to a task of labour, and he knew that it was useless, and only imposed as a test, he would endeavour to evade it. On the other hand, if he had a piece of land to work on that would bring food to himself and his family, he would labour upon it from morning till night, because there was that moral sense about him that would induce him to do so. Therefore, the distinction between the relief works in 1847 and the works undertaken under Mr. Labouchere's letter was this—the one was productive, the other was notoriously useless and unserviceable—it was sham work, a mere pretence of work—it was made a matter of jobbing by the upper classes, and was a school for idleness amongst the poorer classes. If they could obtain productive works from their convicts, why not obtain it from their paupers? A noble Lord in another place had, on the preceding night, declared that the earnings of the convict at Gibraltar amounted to 38l., while the cost of his maintenance did not amount to more than one-half that sum. Were they, then, to put a man into a 792 workhouse and maintain him there, and his family besides, in idleness; or would they put the ablebodied pauper to productive works—paying him by rations, if they chose? Let them look to what had been done by the Quakers in the county of Mayo. They took 500 or 600 acres of land, and employed some of the poor upon it, who would otherwise have gone into the workhouse; and he believed they had repaid themselves their expenditure. The waste lands were lying idle all around, the people were lying idle in the workhouse. Would they put the idle hands on the idle land, and let each man earn his maintenance in the way that Providence intended—by the sweat of his brow? Or, if they did not employ the paupers on the waste land, could they not employ them on arterial drainage? The Board of Works declared that such undertakings would be profitable; and why not employ the ablebodied paupers upon them if they did not approve of his other proposition? These works were at a standstill for want of funds, while they were voting 50,000l. for the maintenance of thousands upon thousands of idle labourers. He had one observation to make upon another point, the most important perhaps of all—the moral effect of maintaining them in idleness. How could they expect that men would ever be fitted for continuous industry if they fed them in this way? When they locked them up in workhouses, or set them to useless stonebreaking, they were teaching them habits of idleness, and inducing them to avoid labour. He asked the House, then, to put them to productive works, in order to teach them industry. It seemed to him to be essentially important that the two principles brought by him under the notice of the House should be considered by hon. Members, and not rejected in that hasty way in which opinions at first not palatable were dismissed.
§ SIR J. WALSH
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Scrope) was gifted with an intellect totally impervious to the lessons of experience. For many years the hon. Member had been the untiring and not unsuccessful advocate of an Irish poor-law, and the result of that measure had been, that in two years one-fourth of the country was beggared, with a fair prospect that before two more years should have elapsed, the rest of it would be in the same pauperised condition. But the hon. Gentleman, with that obstinacy of delusion which characterised 793 enthusiastic minds, could not perceive that the causes of those disasters were the realisation in part of his own wild schemes. The hon. Gentleman, with arguments of which, in many respects, he (Sir J. Walsh) would not question the validity, opposed the rate in aid. He admitted there was a great deal of force in those arguments, but was surprised to find how fluently these phrases, "self-reliance," "the stimulus of self-exertion," "self-dependence," &c., were uttered by him. Although those arguments of the hon. Gentleman had not perhaps been introduced with any strict regard to the subject before the House, he thought there was great and serious objection to the proposal of the rate in aid. [Mr. P. SCROPE: The noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Dudley Stuart) has a Motion upon the Paper regarding the rate in aid.] He (Sir J. Walsh) was aware that it was a subject which had attracted a great deal of attention, and it was the right hon. Baronet, who held a sort of semi-official position, who first introduced it to the attention of the House. It was reported that lately the door of the Cabinet was a little ajar, and when, in the terms of the American song, it was asked, "Who's that knocking at the door?" the question was answered by the appearance of the head and shoulders of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham). The right hon. Baronet, however, either disliking the company or the place (perhaps, if he might offer a conjecture, having an objection to the company rather than to the place), like many people who knock at the door by mistake, begged pardon for having interrupted the company, and withdrew. This rate in aid, however, was a principle which the right hon. Baronet opposite would find most difficult and unjust in its application to Ireland, and doubly vicious in its present state. It appeared to him, that if they taxed Belfast and the thriving parts of the north of Ireland for the destitution of the south, the former might justly say, "We are part of a great united empire, the Union has been carried, and ought to be a reality." If you adhere to the principle of local funds providing for local destitution, it is one thing; but if you abandon and relinquish that principle, and call in extrinsic aid, then they will say, "We are part of a great united empire, and it becomes an imperial question, and not one solely affecting Ireland." Why should not the united kingdom bear the rate? 794 Why should it not come out of the Imperial Exchequer?—for it is an imperial question. In fact, the schemes of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. P. Scrope) were nothing more nor less, if developed, than those of M. Proudhon—the abrogation of the right of private property. He would sell out the property of the landowner, in order to provide for the wants of the poor. And after the scheme of the hon. Gentleman was carried out, in what better position would the country be? How could the new landowner stand in a better position than the old one? There was still the same amount of destitution to be relieved—still the same liabilities on the soil. Hon. Gentlemen always talked of the interests of the public, and contended that individual interests should succumb to them, and they carried it almost as far as M. Proudhon or M. Louis Blanc. He would say with them, Propriété c'est le vol. This was the language of the clubs of France, but surely not of the English House of Commons. The hon. Member for Stroud resembled those legislators in another respect. He would have the Government employ the whole population. He would turn the Government into a great farming establishment, as if the British Government could engage with success in those multifarious operations, when the French Government had failed with reference to one tailor's shop. If the hon. Gentleman had looked at the papers which had lately been laid before Parliament, he would have perceived that his favourite theory had signally failed in two experiments lately made by the Government, one at King William's Town, the other at Bally Kilcline. He would not further notice the arguments of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud, but would pass on to the proposition before the House. He could not help regretting that an accident had prevented the discussion of the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Longford (Major Blackall), on the previous evening. That Motion was—That the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, consequent upon four successive years of distress, require the immediate adoption of such measures as may assist and encourage the individual exertion of the owners and occupiers of Irish property, and promote industry, by giving remunerative employment; and that all grants or loans of money to particular districts should be applied, as far as possible, to such purposes as many conduce to the eventual improvement of those districts, and enable them to support themselves from their ordinary resources.795 His (Sir J. Walsh's) great objection to the Government proposition of a grant of 50,000l. was, that it tended to continue the system indefinitely, and to widen the circle of destitution, and that there was no prospect, arising out of any Government proposal, by which, either collaterally or directly, the amount of pauperism would be gradually diminished. One argument there certainly was—an argument, too, which had been urged with irresistible force from the Treasury benches in favour of the present grant, and that was, that the refusal of it would cause the death of thousands; and that there was no alternative but actual starvation in the refusal of it. He knew that many hon. Friends near him, who felt that the Government proposition was, in the abstract, unwise, injudicious, mischievous, and fallacious, yet shrunk from the conclusion which must involve their fellow-creatures in destitution.
here rose and addressed the Speaker, evidently under the impression that Sir John Walsh had concluded his speech, but seeing that the hon. Baronet remained standing, resumed his seat.
§ SIR J. WALSH
said, he would not long detain the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Macgregor); but he was anxious, before he concluded, in an humble, though sincere manner, to suggest to the Government some other remedies, which he apprehended would be of a more beneficial nature than the proposal before them. For his own part, he preferred to see some scheme proposed by the Government which would be attended with lasting benefit, than those mere make-shift propositions. He trusted the House would excuse him for trespassing upon their time whilst he mentioned some of the conclusions practical experience had enabled him to arrive at; and he would premise the remarks he had to make by saying that the question of emigration had not, in his opinion, ever been fairly entertained by the House of Commons. Out of doors the opinion was fast gaining ground that emigration was, if not the sole, at least a most important remedy for the present calamitous condition of Ireland. That subject had never been introduced, except incidentally, and yet would it not strike the most superficial observer that 50,000l. would go very far towards relieving those miserable unions of a redundant population, whilst, if administered in the ordinary mode of relief, it would not last more than a few weeks? In the one case 796 it would permanently relieve those unions of an amount of pauperism which they could not of themselves endure—it would dispense so far with the necessity of doling out those alms; whilst, upon the other hand, it would send that population to a country where its labour would be needful, and at once productive. The hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope) had said it was quite ridiculous to talk of emigration, because Ireland, was capable of maintaining its present population, or double that amount. His answer to that was, that Ireland could be only capable of doing so under very different circumstances. The proposition of the hon. Gentleman might be true, if there were manufactories established in Ireland, as there were in Manchester and Glasgow. It might be true, if the ports of Ireland were as crowded with ships as those of Liverpool or London. It might be true, if they could bestow upon Irish farmers the capital, intelligence, and industry of the Lothian farmers. With all these circumstances, with all these conditions, Ireland would no doubt be able to support a much larger population than at present. But the great fallacy of that line of argument was, that not only those indispensable conditions did not exist, but they could not be made to exist in Ireland—there was no probability of their existence in that country for a century at least. Emigration would be found an immediate as well as a permanent remedy pro tanto. It would prove a topical remedy for a topical inflammation. Perhaps he (Sir J. Walsh) might be permitted to trouble the House with a few practical details which came under his own personal observation. He could assure them that it was from no unworthy motives of personal vanity or ostentatious philanthropy that he addressed them. When he came of age, he became possessed of a considerable property in Ireland, which had ever since engaged his most serious attention. There was not a tenant upon his estates who was not personally known to him, and with whose circumstances he was not familiar. When first he became the owner, there was an immense number of middlemen upon this land, and they held upon leases for lives. By the gradual lapse of leases, three fourths of this property was now in his own hands, and he managed them himself. A great portion of his landed property was in the barony of Listowel; and he might with confidence venture to say that there were not above five persons on his property who 797 were at present in the receipt of parochial relief, and yet he was rated at 9s. 6d. in the pound. He did not deny that he was personally interested in this question; but still he thought the House must see that there was some allowance to be made for the feelings of mortification which a landed proprietor must feel at seeing his property swept away from him by most pernicious legislation. The hon. Member for Stroud was not aware, nor were, perhaps, many other hon. Gentlemen, how difficult it was, and how long a time it required, to raise a prosperous, independent, and improving tenantry. It could not be done except by much attention, and by assisting those tenantry for years—by encouraging the deserving and industrious well-intentioned tenant, and by removing those who were lazy, unprincipled, and worthless. To raise such a class was the work of many years; but the landlord who found himself at their head might congratulate himself upon having fulfilled his duty, and conferred a lasting advantage upon the country. To a considerable extent he had realised the object of his ambition; and it had, therefore, been to him a great disappointment to find the tenantry ground down, and the stimulus taken away which was essential to the continuance of the improvement which had begun to manifest itself. He (Sir J. Walsh) wished now to refer to the subject of emigration, which was one of the deepest concern to Ireland at the present moment. His estates had never been so much oppressed with an overcrowded population, as was unfortunately the case in many parts of Ireland; he had always attempted to prevent, and it was no easy matter to do so, the subdivision of properties, and the creation of a numerous body of cotters; at the same time, when the failure of the potato crop came, there were many persons on his estates in extreme distress, and with very great difficulty he had succeeded in inducing the poorest to emigrate. In the years 1847 and 1848, he had induced between 100 and 200 individuals to emigrate from his estates; and he begged the House to recollect that that was at a time when the Colonial Office was assuring them that Canada was so crowded that it was impossible to introduce any more Irish there; that Canada was rising in revolt against any further emigration of Irishmen to her shores; and that Irishmen were dying of want in the streets of Montreal. At that time, when Government was throwing 798 every discouragement in the way of emigration, he had sent out those individuals to Canada; and in every instance in which he had been able to trace their subsequent career, he had found them prosperous, contented, and happy. It was a striking fact, that out of a very considerable number of individuals whom he had sent to Canada, and who had no provision made for them there, except a little money to start with, every one had been successful; and, with the permission of the House, he would read one or two extracts from a great variety of letters which had been written by the emigrants, either to himself or his agent, or to their own relations in Ireland. [The hon. Member then read extracts from two letters, written from Canada, by a mother and son, who went out in 1847 and 1848, which stated that they were doing very prosperously, and that the son was in a good situation, getting ten dollars a month, with board, washing, and lodging.] He wished now to give to the House a short account of one farm of his, which was, he thought, illustrative of the condition of Ireland. The farm consisted of twenty-five Irish, or forty English acres; half of it was let to a man named M'Carthy for 10l. a year, and the other half to two brothers, named Shane, at 5l. a year. One of the brothers died, and the rest of the family then wished to divide the 5l. amongst them; he (Sir J. Walsh resisted that, and proposed to them emigration; they were reluctant to adopt that suggestion, but at last consented, and fifteen persons emigrated from that farm, at an expense to him (Sir J. Walsh) of 65l. Nor was that altogether a disinterested proceeding on his part, for he then let the whole farm to the remaining tenant, M'Car-thy, who was a man of more substance than the others, and who was quite willing to give him an additional 4l. per year, so that both landlord and tenant were benefited; M'Carthy was now in possession of a farm of forty English acres; he had room enough to carry on improvements; and was in a condition to become a comfortable farmer; and he (Sir J. Walsh) had got, not only interest for the 65l. which the emigration had cost him, but one improving tenant instead of three miserable ones. Now the mischief of the purely voluntary system of emigration was this, that in that case, under that system, M'Carthy would have gone, and the had tenants would have remained. That was his answer to the favourite argument of 799 some hon. Gentlemen, that they ought not to interfere with the system that was going on—that if they wanted emigration the people were emigrating of their own accord. But what was the fate of the fifteen who had crossed the Atlantic? He would read the letter of John Shane to his uncle. [The hon. Member then read a letter, stating that all the family were employed and doing well, describing the nature of their occupations and the amount of their wages, detailing the cheapness of provisions, and expressing a hope that some of their Irish friends would follow them to that plentiful country where they could obtain the fruits of labour.] The hon. Baronet then proceeded to say, that with respect to the Committee appointed to inquire into the operation of the poor-law, their duties were of a most important nature; they would have to trace the consequence and effects of introducing a law for the relief of the ablebodied poor, in opposition to the opinions of so many hon. Members who were locally acquainted with the subject; those Irish Members who constituted the minority in that Committee were also invested with a charge of the greatest responsibility; and he hoped that they would not lose sight of the great points which it was necessary to contend for in that Committee. He would venture, in conclusion, to refer only to one or two of the delusions on this subject which were general amongst Englishmen, and which must he removed before they could approach the subject with any chance of arriving at a just conclusion. In the first place, it was important to trace the effect of the substitution of the system of ablebodied relief, which in 1848 supplanted the previous system, by which relief to the ablebodied was not allowed; and if they wished to know the effect of that change, they must closely watch its progress and development from union to union, in one electoral district after another. Another point requiring the greatest attention was the despotic and arbitrary power which was vested in the three Poor Law Commissioners—two of whom were Members of the Government, and therefore not a body standing aloof from party politics, but a body changing with every change of Government. It was a power, therefore, which enabled two Members of the Government of the day to tax the country, and sweep away all the landed property of Ireland. Another point on which England ought to have a clear opinion was, that this was not 800 a mere landlord's question—there was always a cry against the Irish landlords; but he told the House again and again that this was not purely a landlord's question; it involved the property and happiness of the whole tenantry of that country; and there was no process of political alchemy by which they could separate the case of the landlord from that of the tenant. They could not, if they wished, as the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope) did, ruin the landlords without also ruining the tenants. Another point should also be borne in mind—namely, that, in opposition to the opinion of the right hon. Baronet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be proved by all the evidence before that Committee, and observed by every acute mind, that, under the operation of this poor-law, as it at present existed, the present state of that country was not a temporary or transient state; that the evils which they witnessed were inherent in the nature of the system itself, and would increase and not diminish. It would be made very plain to that Committee that Ireland could not pass from present acute suffering to some not very distant prosperity. He had heard it whispered by some that things were going on very well, that the present evils would cure themselves, and that the remedy, though it might be severe, would be effectual; and that, after passing through these violent struggles, Ireland would take a new start. But he said that that was altogether a mistake, and unless they applied some remedy to the poor-law as it existed, instead of the malady being local and temporary, it would be general and permanent. He was obliged to the House for the attention with which it had listened to him. He regretted that, under existing circumstances, he was compelled to continue his opposition to the Government on this subject, and to record his opinion against this vote. However forcible the appeals which were addressed to them by hon. Gentlemen opposite, a strong sense of duty compelled him (Sir J. Walsh) to say, that he could not consent to the grant of this money, not only because it would be utterly ineffectual to accomplish its object, but because it must necessarily produce the most mischievous consequences.
§ VISCOUNT DRUMLANRIG
said, that he had attended all the debates which had taken place on this proposed grant, although he had not yet voted upon the question; and he could truly say that it was not without mature consideration of this most 801 painful and difficult question that he had come to the conclusion that he could not give his support to Her Majesty's Government in granting the proposed 50,000l. Having come to such a determination he should be sorry to give his vote in silence. If the House would grant him its attention for only a few minutes, he would condense his observations, and would not trespass on the time that other Members, Irish Members especially, had so much greater a right to monopolise than he had. Of all the speeches he had heard, the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham) contained the most true, just, and statesmanlike exposition of those principles by which Ireland should be dealt with for the future, no matter of what party the Government might consist. He reiterated the declaration of his right hon. Friend, that the time was come when the Government must review the whole taxation of Ireland, and introduce large and comprehensive measures for its relief and amelioration. He did not underrate the difficulties Ministers had to contend with—they were enormous; but men who professed themselves competent to and confident in governing the country must not expect any quarter to be given them, or any excuse to be taken, who were not prepared with measures of an extraordinary nature in extraordinary times. Speaking as a more humble and less responsible Member, he would, at any rate, never grudge the time and the energy devoted by this House to Ireland; on the contrary, so intense did her present suffering appear to him—so appalling did the future threaten to be—that he could conceive no object more worthy of the united talent and energy of England than to devote every energy to that unhappy country. But how could his right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon say that this would be the last part of a series? Why, both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister had spoken on the question, and they had held out no guarantee, hardly any hope even, that it would be the last even during the present season. There was but one way to show England that this pernicious system would be abandoned, and that was by negativing this proposal at once. If they were determined that other means should be devised—he used no harsh terms; he did not say devised to make, but devised to enable, Ireland to support Irish distress—the course he advised was, if a severe one, at any 802 rate the most merciful one in the end. He (Viscount Drumlanrig) had not said, and did not feel, anything like bitterness towards Ireland as a country, suffering as she was from an amount of woe and misery unknown before in any Christian country. Ireland, which had been cursed and tried in a way no country ever was cursed or tried before—cursed she had been often in her own representatives—men who, while they had bullied and blustered, or while they had swaggered and vituperated every measure proposed, no matter by what Government—men who, while they had begged from and fleeced the most credulous peasantry in the world—who, while they had traded in the misery and had trafficked in the credulity of their unfortunate fellow-countrymen, had never once, through a long series of years, suggested, nor had they even thought of, one sigle unselfish practical measure that could possibly be of use to their country. These were some of the entailed curses Ireland had long writhed under. Now, one word to the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Grattan). What could they hope for Ireland from within, when they saw one of her own leaders, one bearing the name of Grat-tan, coming down to this House, in the present awful state of Ireland, and doing what? One night, the hon. Member, for the sake of raising a silly titter, moved for a return of the killed and wounded in the rebellion of last year; the next night he asked for a call of the House, when no such call could be granted, and, if it could have been, would have been of no use; and, on the third night, he turned the whole question of Irish distress into ridicule, by making a speech which excited all who heard it to laughter, not, however, on account of its wit. This was Irish leadership. He (Viscount Drumlanrig) could not look at the hon. Gentleman, and, recollecting his connexion with Ireland, listen to his speech without thinking of Nero fiddling when Rome was burning, and without exclaiming, "Alas! poor Ireland, may God help you in spite of yourself!" He would not detain the House any longer, but would conclude, only wishing to assure those Irish Members who really had Ireland and her sorrows at heart, that he did not vote against this question for the sake of getting rid of the Irish question, but because, so impressed was he with her dreadful state, that he thought the offer of 50,000l., while it was unjust to England, was useless to Ireland, and that she 803 required, and ought to receive, the whole talent, energy, and intellect of this country to save her.
§ MR. MACGREGOR
said, that he should follow the excellent advice and useful example given on a former occasion by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), and be extremely brief in the observations which he had to address to the House. He felt great difficulty in coming to a decision favourable to this vote, when he took into consideration the fact that Ireland had neither a property nor a window tax, nor many of those assessed taxes and excise duties, which were paid in this country. He also recollected the large sums of money which this country had from time to time generously voted for the relief of the sister country. But, what was of more weight still with him, the consideration of the immense expenditure which the people of England and Scotland had to meet on account of the Irish destitution, particularly the city which he had the honour to represent, where the poor-rates were quadrupled by reason of the enormous influx of the Irish poor into it. With all these considerations crowding upon his mind, he confessed he found great difficulty in deciding to vote for this small grant of 50,000l. He, however, should vote for it from the conviction that this relief must be granted to the unions in Ireland, in order to protect life, and with the hope that it would be the last money that would be taken from the revenues levied in England and Scotland. He (Mr. Macgregor) trusted that Ministers would, in future, cause to be levied from the whole property in Ireland such a sufficient revenue as would effectually relieve the distress of Ireland. In respect to the subject of emigration, there was one kind that was no doubt exceedingly advantageous to Ireland, but there was another that was exceedingly injurious to the interests of this country and Scotland. He alluded to the voluntary emigration of old men, women, and children into the large towns of Scotland and England, to the serious expense of the ratepayers, and the great injury of their own population. He (Mr. Macgregor) trusted that the Government would carry out such other measures of improvement for Ireland as would go far to prevent the necessity of any further applications for grants of this description.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, there never was a time at which it was more incumbent on those intrusted with the interests of Ireland 804 to consider the grave responsibility of their position. He wished that the Irish Members would submit their views on Ireland with candour and moderation; it would accomplish more real good than extravagance or abuse. For his own part, he felt it to be the duty of those who know more of the real condition of Ireland, to endeavour to inform the English Members who might not have the same local knowledge; and he did not believe that a country which had been so nobly generous as England, would be wilfully unjust. He wished to submit as briefly as he could what he thought was an important principle which they ought to bear in mind when considering the present condition of Ireland. Its difficulties could not he any longer evaded, and they must look them straight in the face. The question, then, for them now to consider was this—were they for the future to allow Ireland to continue as a mere political convenience for England, or were they honestly to set about applying a remedy for those social evils? At the time of the Union, when England took Ireland into partnership, he (Mr. Napier) admitted that the latter was the weaker of the two. It was no doubt a noble policy towards Ireland that a great nation like England should take her by the hand, and give her the benefit of her great and glorious constitution. The obvious intentions of the Government of that day were, by a gradual process, to elevate Ireland morally and socially, and to place her upon an equality with England, which, he admitted, could not be done suddenly. Half a century had now gone by since that Union was effected, and since those professions were made; and what was the present condition of Ireland in connexion with the greatest country in the world? Its population was degraded, and its lands made desolate. Year after year was Ireland forced to come like a mendicant to beg assistance from the charity of England. Whatever may be the cause of all this, it was fitting that they should all join together in honest sincerity, to endeavour, by wise counsels, based upon experience, to apply a remedy to these evils. They should put aside all party differences, repudiate all class legislation, and endeavour, if they could, to find out what the causes of these evils were, with a view of removing them by a proper remedy. Now, at the time of the Union, he thought it was to be regretted that all the political and religious questions connected with the constitution 805 had not been settled and determined. But let them come to the period of 1829, when the great unsettled question was at length disposed of. In that year, they had a great body of evidence on record relating to the condition of Ireland. They were thus informed of all its social maladies. They had evidence apprising them of the great fact, which was still intimately connected with the degraded condition of the country, that nearly one-fourth of the population was without any species of certain employment. And in 1829, when they settled that great question of Catholic emancipation, and when they had received an assurance from all parties that they were willing to co-operate for the interests of Ireland—when that famous manifesto of the Roman Catholic bishops was published, in which they declared that, inasmuch as all their civil liberties had been guaranteed, they were willing to co-operate with the Government in advancing the interests of Ireland—what remained for the Government and Parliament to do but to take the social evils of that unhappy country into their serious consideration, and to apply a remedy for the correction of them? They were now paying the penalty of their long neglected duty. Instead of taking the course which was so clearly pointed out to them, they made Ireland the battle-field of party. A system of policy was pursued fomenting discord and division; it curdled the charities of human hearts, wasted the energies and augmented the social miseries of the people. Let them, however, now learn wisdom from the experience of the past. In 1830, they appointed a Committee to inquire into the condition of Ireland, which set forth in their report the same evils that had existed since the Union. In 1833, another Committee was appointed, who reported the same story. In 1835, they had appointed another Committee, composed of such Members as these:—Thomas Spring Rice, Sir H. Hardinge, Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Gladstone, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Shell, and several of the old Irish Members. The report of that Committee commented upon the absence of that sound policy which should have propounded some measures that would have developed the wealth of Ireland, and improved the condition of her peasantry; and hence that fine country presented so much misery, discontent, and crime. Well, notwithstanding these repeated Committees, and these repeated remonstrances contained in the several 806 reports presented to the House, nothing whatever was done in the way of carrying out these recommendations. There was a circumstance upon record which should not be lost sight of. They had a large encumbered proprietary in Ireland. In the last year they had no doubt passed a Bill to facilitate the sale of encumbered estates. But what was the fact? From the influence of the injurious policy, and the distress created, he believed that no estate had yet been sold under its provisions. When they spoke of the rental of Ireland, they should take into consideration the encumbrances which should be deducted from it. And they should observe that at this moment rents were not generally paid; and out of that portion which was paid, so much was obliged to be sent off to pay off encumbrances. There was no labour-fund in the country, nor capital. When they found that private capital was insufficient to furnish employment to the people, the Government should have proposed the formation of such public works as should have had the effect of facilitating private enterprise. That, however, was not done. They had in Ireland an incumbered proprietary, no labour-fund, poverty considerably increased, and the resources of the country diminished. There was another matter deserving of their serious attention. A considerable portion of the property of the country was under the control of the Court of Chancery. There was about 1,000,000l. of the rental of the country thus placed, so that the land thus situated could not be properly improved. It was not by one measure, even though it be called a comprehensive measure, but by a series of simple and practical measures, that these evils can be remedied. He did not intend to propose any new nostrum; he only asked them to retrace their steps, and to look at the evils that have been over and over again detailed in the reports of the several Committees that had been from time to time appointed. The people were unemployed, and, in consequence, were left to be the victims of disaffection and the dupes of false principles. They had another Committee in 1845, being the year before the famine. Like the former reports, they neglected the recommendations contained in this. The consequence was, that when the famine came, they were wholly unprepared to meet it. The Government had been addressed by the Devon Commission which reported in 1845. That Commission examined into the whole circumstances 807 of the country from north to south, from east to west. The state of the whole country was laid before the Government in that report, which repeated the great crying evil, the state of the labouring population, and urged the necessity of adopting measures to give them employment. The report went further, and pointed out, under separate heads, the class of measures that they considered necessary. But the Government did nothing. He should not omit to mention the passing of the poor-law in 1838, because he found that the Marquess of Lansdowne, in the year after that measure had been passed, used these words:—If ever a solemn pledge had been given by the Government during the passing of this poor-law, this was one—namely, that by every means in our power we will encourage the employment of the labouring poor of Ireland.Well, then, the poor-law was passed with the assurance that there would be given the assistance of the Government in stimulating the industry of the Irish people. They had neglected to follow out the recommendations contained in the report of the Devon Commission; and what was the result? When the famine came upon Ireland, the country was wholly unprepared to meet it. They spoke of the state of the population: no doubt the whole country became more or less changed. From the middlemen class in Ireland down to the smallest occupiers, there was misery and destitution. The complication of tenures could not he well understood in England, nor the had influences it was calculated to foster. It grew up much during the war prices; afterwards, the swarms of small occupiers had to be cleared away, for it was not practicable for landlords to improve the country without removing many of their pauper tenants. Of course, this must occasion for a time still greater misery. The way, however, to meet this measure was, by the adoption of an extensive system of emigration, and the carrying on of public works for the employment of the people. Whose fault was it that the Government did not keep the pledge that was given by Lord Lansdowne? When the famine came upon the people of Ireland it could not be supposed that the poor-law, which had only contracted originally to support 80,000 of the people, could supply the want caused by the loss of their usual food. Then, he was ready to admit, the generosity of the people of this country came to their succour 808 —a generosity for which there was no parallel in history, it was so unbounded. He should, indeed, feel ashamed to stand up to address an English assembly if he did not freely admit that the generosity of the English people was at that time unbounded and unparalleled. There were three classes of persons in Ireland that now became subject to these rates—the proprietor, the tenant-farmer, and the clergy—no one of whom were responsible for the neglect of Government, the blight of agitation, or the policy of the Legislature. The very bounty bestowed on them did not benefit them; for though he admitted that the money which was given at that time to feed the country had been the means of preserving a great many lives, yet they all knew that it demoralised the people. They made useless roads—they cut up the face of the country, and made it much worse than it was before. The people were left in a much worse condition than they had been in before. Poverty had increased, and the resources of the country had diminished. The proprietors submitted to the poor-law under the pledge which had been given that employment would be extensively given to stimulate the industry of the people. The proprietors, however, were called on suddenly to bear the burden of the poor-law, which, even in ordinary times, should be accompanied with other measures calculated to give employment. Even in the reign of Elizabeth, when the English Poor Law was passed, an Act was also passed in the very same Session for the reclamation of thousands of acres in England; and Bacon remarks upon the fact, when he said that never within the same period was there such a quantity of ground reclaimed and rendered fruitful by manure and good husbandry. Now he admitted that even if the Government acted up to the pledge that had been given by the Marquess of Lansdowne, the country might survive; but let them observe the condition of the proprietors as well as that of the people generally. He did not want to screen bad landlords, or persons that failed to discharge their duties, remembering that all such persons had contributed more or less to bring about the present state of things. They had great difficulties to contend with, but difficulties will never be an answer to duty. Let them now put an end to these difficulties, if they could. Legislation could not do everything; but a Minister might do much. He admitted 809 there was nothing more unwise towards Ireland than to hold out to her the prospect of removing all her evils by legislation—evils which no legislation of itself could remedy. He often remarked that this induced a class of persons to look forward for the most romantic benefits from legislation. In the face of all the evils which afflicted Ireland, there was not one measure of a statesmanlike character proposed to save the country. The noble Lord the late Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck), who was now called to his last account, had certainly intended well towards Ireland. Though he (Mr. Napier) had not the honour of his acquaintance, yet he must do him the justice of saying, that he considered the two measures which he did advise had characterised him as an honest Englishman, sincerely anxious for the welfare and happiness of the people. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland said, that the agricultural improvement of the country was the main thing to attend to. But that could not be effected without capital. Surely the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) could not suppose that the Franchise Bill which he brought forward would cure any of the great evils of Ireland. He begged of the House to meet the difficulties of Ireland fairly and honestly. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland said, that the country wanted quiet and repose. He (Mr. Napier) had certainly supported, with all his heart, the Government in the measures they had brought forward to secure that peace and repose. Let them have some measures for promoting the employment of the people. Society in Ireland—some portions of it at least—must be reconstructed; and he firmly believed that there never was a nobler opportunity for doing so, and placing it upon a permanent and peaceful footing, than the present. It was frequently stated that Ireland was lightly taxed as compared with England, and that, therefore, she had no reason to complain of an extraordinary burden. Taxation was a small grievance with the people of that country. They had no objection to pay taxes so long as they had the means of paying them. It was said by Edmund Burke, with respect to the taxation of Ireland, that—He hoped the unhappy phantom of equal taxation with England had vanished. He could only say that Ireland paid as many taxes as those who were the best judges of her power thought she could bear,Let, then, Parliament examine into her 810 real circumstances, and weigh them deliberately, and put upon her any burden which their consciences told them she could bear. Let them deal with her in a manner worthy of the great moral dignity of England, and save her from the degrading position to be always called a mendicant. Referring to the term mendicant, as applied to Ireland, the Marquess of Lansdowne said—An opinion prevailed that whenever money was lent to Ireland it was never expected to be repaid—that, instead of its being a loan, it was, in point of fact, a gift. Such an opinion (the noble Marquess observed) was fallacious, because, if reference was made to the public works accounts, it would be found that two-thirds of the Exchequer-bills which were issued to assist the public works department, were in course of repayment; and if the remaining third was unpaid, it was because the works were suspended.In the present peculiar circumstances of Ireland, every man who was desirous of doing his duty ought to be encouraged in the performance of that duty. It was of the greatest importance to protect those men, and to encourage them in the expenditure of capital for the improvement of Ireland. The Government and Parliament must adopt comprehensive measures in order that Ireland should go on in the progress of civilisation, side by side with England. Having expressed these opinions, he would conclude with the celebrated observations of the Roman orator:—Erit igitur humanilatis vestræ, magnum civium numerum calamitate prohibere; sapientiæ videre multorum civium calamitatem a republica sejunctam esse non posse.
§ MR. HORSMAN
declared his intention of voting with Her Majesty's Ministers, and against the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope); but he gave that vote most reluctantly, and under the pressure of a necessity which he felt he could not resist, however much he disapproved of the principal part of their policy. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud added a condition to the grant; but he could not lend himself to the delusion that any system of grants to Ireland could be otherwise than mischievous. He therefore could not vote for the Amendment. He felt tolerably certain that many Gentlemen who voted in the majority the other night must have laboured under great difficulty and embarrassment, since they must have been conscious that they were about to take a course very different from 811 that which they had previously contemplated. But the truth was, that the appeal made to the House was not on the wisdom or policy of the grant, but as a question of humanity alone. If they considered the history of former grants of this kind, they must he fully alive to the results in destroying an independent feeling, in removing all feeling of self-reliance, in checking everything like a spirit of industry, and in short in demoralising the whole population of the country. The question was, whether they could apply several principles under the peculiar circumstances of this case. His hon. Friend (Mr. Scrope's) principle was, that there should be local responsibility for local wants; in other words, that the Irish people must pay their own rates, and that Irish property must support the Irish poor. That was the principle of the poor-law, and to carry out that principle it was extended to Ireland, but in the districts which this grant was intended to relieve, it had been a most disastrous failure. In enacting it, the Legislature proceeded on a false principle; for finding that it worked well in England, it was assumed that it would do so in Ireland, without regarding the essentially different circumstances of the two countries. In England poverty was the exception—in Ireland the large majority were in a state of pauperism. In England property, for the most part, was in the hands of wealthy proprietors; whereas in Ireland estates were encumbered to such an extent that the ownership was merely nominal. When the maintenance of the destitute poor in Ireland was thrown upon the classes above them, it led to an actual and great increase of destitution; for instead of the poor being relieved, it brought down all classes to that level. The papers which had recently been laid on the table showed that in one union in the west of Ireland last year, the poor-rates amounted to forty-one shillings in the pound; and in the Clifden union they were still heavier, for there any man might take possession of the property if he would pay the rates. He found a striking circumstance mentioned in a publication which he saw a few days ago, and which would afford a remarkable illustration of the destitution of the people. He found it stated that in a union in the south-west of Ireland the number of births in the quarter ending December 25, 1843, was 330; while the number in the quarter ending on the same day, 1848, was only 42, The whole property 812 of Ireland had been confiscated to the maintenance of the poor of Ireland, and the result was, that it had left infinitely greater destitution than existed when it was brought into operation. But this state of pauperism had been still further increased and aggravated by famine, and the consequence was, almost general ruin, and that the rates broke down, whilst the physical prostration of the people was such as had scarcely ever been known in any civilised country. The burden of the rates, and the desolating pressure of the present system, had gone on until they had absorbed the landlords' rents, and the tenants' profits—the poor being in a state of as great destitution and famine as before; and the ultimate result was, that they had a ruined proprietary, a fugitive tenantry, a destitute people, and a desolate land. Their poor-law, then, had thus consummated what the dispensations of Providence had begun. Such being the case—and if he believed, as he must, that all the horrors of starvation were impending, and he was asked to agree to this vote as one means of preventing so terrible a calamity—he felt that he could not refuse it without repudiating the most blessed injunctions of the faith which he professed. Then, it had been asked, when this system of making general grants was to have an end? He had heard the noble Lord at the head of the Government asked the other night to pledge himself that this should be the last grant of the kind. The noble Lord most properly, as he (Mr. Horsman) thought, said that he would not do so. The proposition did not come forward voluntarily from him, but the noble Lord was hound to meet the pressure of appalling misery which presented itself. If it was his duty then to propose this grant—it would be equally his duty to make a similar proposal should the same circumstances again occur; and on the same ground he (Mr. Horsman) should be bound to support him again. Such a pledge, if it had been given, could have been to him no security against the repetition of a proposal of this nature; but he had a better security in the circumstances of this debate, and in the warning which it had given to the Government of the necessity of their applying themselves with that earnestness which had been urged upon them by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) to the real difficulties of the task which was before them. The only weak part of the case of the Government 813 was, not that they had proposed to the House, under a sense of duty, a vote in aid to prevent multitudes perishing from starvation, but that they did not accompany that application by other measures more statesmanlike in their character, and; more beneficial in their results. The only thing that had been done was, resorting to that panacea for all deficiencies in legislation—a Committee of Inquiry—when indeed the time for action came, and we wanted men of capacity and earnestness to instruct, initiate, and guide us. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Napier) had practically stated what was wanted in Ireland. The defect of the operation of the poor-law there had been proved by dire experience. The principle that the burden of the poor should be thrown upon the land, had been refuted by experience, as regarded many districts in Ireland. It was very well to say that the landlords there had neglected their duty, and that they were not deserving of commiseration, and it was of little consequence if the landlords were destroyed. This might be very well for some persons; but not only the landlords had been destroyed, but that law had also destroyed the agriculture of the country. It had done so; and he would ask, whether the operation of the law did not throw the greatest impediment in the way of the revival of agriculture? As long as the law existed in its present form, the application of any sanitary principle was prevented. It was plain to every one, that to do anything for Ireland, it was, in the first place, essential that all their exertions should be exercised for the re-establishment of agricultural relations. This had been repeatedly said, but it would be found most difficult to do so under the operation of the present law. The whole order of things had been destroyed in Ireland, and it was now their duty to come forward and establish order by a new system of measures. There had hitherto been found three great impediments to the improvement of Ireland; the first was the insecurity of life, the second was the extent of local taxation, and the third was the difficulties which existed in the transfer of land. With regard to the first—the insecurity of life—that had been greatly remedied by the convictions which had taken place, and by the circumstances which caused them being at an end. The peasantry were no longer evicted from their potato gardens, and that terrible tribunal which adjudged men to assassination 814 was broken up, by the persons disappearing from the country. From all that he had heard and read, he was confirmed in the belief that this great difficulty in the way of improvement was at an end. Then, as to the burden of local taxation, he (Mr. Horsman) would not go into that question, as a Committee was sitting respecting it; he would, therefore, merely say that he should be disappointed if the Committee did not find some remedy to that great evil by which the industrious and the idle poor were classed together. Constituted as the Committee was, he confessed that he did not expect to find a final remedy for the evil he alluded to in their report; but as they would have all the documentary evidence which was requisite for their inquiry, and as the remedial measures of the Government, which they had been told were in the course of preparation, would be laid before them, he should be mistaken if something beneficial was not done by the combined energy of the Government and the Committee. Then as to the difficulties which existed as to the transfer of landed property. If the poor-law was a failure, it must also be admitted that the Act of last Session to facilitate the sale of encumbered estates was also a failure. He did not know whether they should throw all the blame of this on the Encumbered Estates Act, for the circumstances of the country at the time were such, that if it had been the most perfect Act that had ever been framed, it could not have been brought into operation. In order that a measure of this kind might come into operation, there must be two parties—the one willing to sell, and the other willing to purchase. But when local taxation was so great a burden as it was at present in Ireland, no sane man would be willing to engage in such a hazardous enterprise as the purchase of an estate there. If they remedied the pressing burden of the rates, and proceeded to disentangle their system from those legal technicalities and trammels by which it was surrounded, and to cheapen the forms of process, it was not too much to say, that the third obstacle to agricultural improvement in Ireland might be removed. If those who had property were no longer terrified by the burden of the rates, and those disposed to purchase were not deterred from buying by the difficulties attending the transfer of property, he did think that they might make a healthy addition to the landlords of Ireland by the 815 formation of small proprietors—and that I many now in the class of tenant-farmers would ultimately become the owners of small landed estates. There were many persons, who were possessed of a moderate amount of capital, who would be willing to embark it in this way, and who might be assisted by small loans on the security of the property they purchased. If such an object could be effected, it would be attended with the most beneficial effects, as this was a class of persons much needed in Ireland. He believed that a great change had been effected in the social condition of Ireland, in relation to the enormous pauper population which existed there, and that change had been brought about by the appalling infliction to which they had been exposed. It had been said, that Ireland's calamity was England's opportunity; he believed that it might be made so. With the great extent of capital in England which was unemployed, and which was looking for a market, Ireland afforded more than the advantages of a new country; for roads were already made, and all the advantages of English law existed there; and it presented to men of enterprise and capital, inducements to settle which no other country exhibited. Looking, therefore, to Ireland not without hope, he consented to this present burden for the relief of the extreme of Irish destitution. He did so on the same principle that he gave aid to a dying pauper in the streets. He knew that the political economists, from Adam Smith to Mill, would tell him he was doing wrong; but he believed that in similar circumstances to the present, it was better to suspend the operation of even a good law at other times, than to adhere to the strict letter of it. Entertaining these views, then, he felt that he was called upon still to bear a little longer with Ireland's misery, and to grant her that which she required, even though, in granting this relief, he did so on no higher principle than that on which he would relieve a dying beggar in the street.
§ MR. MONSELL
felt hound to express his acknowledgments at the tone of the speech of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hors-man), and also his gratification at the attention which Her Majesty's Government had paid to the state of Ireland. With respect to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope), he thought that it might be disposed of as a mere question of words; for if it were carried, the hon. Member could not expect, from the destitution 816 which prevailed in those districts which were to be relieved by this grant, that he should be over able to get a return of the amount. He (Mr. Monsell) admitted that the system of grants was most vicious, both in England and Ireland, and they never should be resorted to, unless under circumstances of imperative necessity. He did not object to a poor-law, and he believed that the extension of the poor-law to Ireland had been most beneficial in that country, as it had established such relations between the richer and poorer classes as to compel the former to do their duty. But the system which the Government had carried out with regard to the aid afforded to the unions, and particularly in the west of Ireland, namely, the system of bolstering up the poor-law by public grants, involved the most vicious principle that could possibly have been established. He did not wish on that occasion to refer at any length to the very many remonstrances which had been addressed to the Government against the system they had pursued; but he might remind them that the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), had, in 1847—and in this he had acted with great consistency—remarked that he saw no symptom of any master mind in the Government on these questions of poor relief in Ireland, and urged upon them the necessity of introducing other measures in connexion with them. His noble Friend the Member for Falkirk (the Earl of Lincoln) had also warned them that some measure, auxiliary to the poor-law, must be brought forward. The system they were now going upon, must—and he did not care whether the money came from England or from Ireland—break down the country: their rate in aid must go on increasing, and they would, by continuing in their present system, be only staving off a little longer the time, which must ultimately arrive, when they would be compelled to grant the measures which they, the Irish representatives, had so often asked, and so often been denied. This would lead to no good end; for the result would be to drain the whole of the capital out of the country, and induce the Government to abstain from introducing necessary measures, without which the poor-law must be inoperative to a great extent. It had been stated that twenty-one unions were in that condition that they could not maintain their own poor. He (Mr. Monsell) knew if active steps were not taken, that twenty-one more 817 unions would declare themselves in the same condition before the end of the year, and that House would be called upon to give rates in aid. Was there any doubt as to what was the great difficulty in Ireland? Was there any doubt as to the evils which had resulted from the disproportion of the population and the capital in that country? He (Mr. Monsell) had read in a paper yesterday that money could be borrowed in the City to any amount, at the rate of two per cent. Why did not this money go over to Ireland? It was because of the dread of the owners of it. He found fault with the House for this state of things, for the capital of England did not go to Ireland, inconsequence of their not putting the latter country in a proper condition. The question then was, what was the relation between capital and labour in Ireland? Between these a proper relation must be established, and until that was done, the poor-law could never succeed, or the country improve, but things would get worse year after year, and it would be found impossible to resist the grants of large sums of money in support of the distressed unions. What he wanted them to do was to divert the money now spent in poor-rates to that purpose. He did not want grants; all he desired was that the Irish people should be allowed to raise money upon their own resources. That was the course essential to the prosperity of the country, and to accomplish that object he had no objection to a rate in aid, but he should always protest against a rate in aid or an income tax in Ireland, the object of which was to prop up a rotten and a vicious system which was destroying the resources of the country.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, that, in the course of his excellent speech, the hon. and learned Member for Dublin (Mr. Napier) had forgotten to say which way he intended to vote, and, with that exception, it was a speech seldom equalled by any Member proceeding from the University of Dublin. He (Mr. Osborne) said that, because its tone was so essentially catholic and good, that, if he had any hope for Ireland, it would be derived from the fact of such a speech having been delivered by a Member for the University of Dublin. If, however, he might draw an inference, he should say that the hon. and learned Member intended to vote against the grant, because he had maintained that all previous grants to Ireland had been attended with unmitigated evil. The hon. Member had truly 818 stated that, since 1810, there had been fourteen commissions to inquire into the state of Ireland, and not one remedial measure. When they heard such a state of things detailed, could the House be surpriscd that there should be a cry for the repeal of the Union, on the other side of the Channel? The House was now called upon to grant 50,000l., and he should be compelled to give his vote against it; not for any reasons already urged against it—not from any skinflint penny wise and pound foolish economy—but because it was too small to be of any earthly use to the people it professed to relieve. Why, it would only last until next Saturday fortnight. Indeed, he only looked upon it as a miserable expedient to delay those long talked of remedial measures, of which Her Majesty's Government had been big since 1841, but with which they had never been confined to that day. These remedial measures were a sort of political Mrs. Harris, no man yet had ever seen them—they had never been brought forward, and were only to be heard of in the shape of the darkest possible allusions made in that House by Her Majesty's Government. The grant would be of no use to those whom it was intended to relieve; better that their protracted misery should be put an end to. ["Oh!"] Hon. Members might cry "Oh!" but he held that it was a spurious humanity; he, for one, would sooner be swept from the face of the earth than drag on from day to day by means of Parliamentary grants. It was only keeping body and soul together; the relief in the west of Ireland was not sufficient to keep men as men—it was just sufficient to de-base them to the level of brutes. The hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Horsman) had spoken in terms of great praise of giving the English Poor Law to Ireland; but in his (Mr. Osborne's) opinion, that was one great blunder from beginning to end—it was a curse to the country, and now we were reaping the fruits of bad legislation. In the southern and western districts of Ireland, the poor-law had been al-together a failure. No tinkering or botching of that law would render it able to meet the difficulties created by their bad legislation. Of the 131 unions of Ireland, 117 were in debt utterly beyond their means, and that, too, exclusively of loans from Government, and help from the British Association. They owed 252,000l., having received, in addition, 241,000l., and having had 200,000 children fed by the British 819 Association. He paused a moment to express his admiration of the British Association, and particularly as to their management of the funds at their disposal. They had distributed 600,000l, and had only spent 5,000l. in doing so, or less than one per cent. What a contrast did this afford to the wasteful extravagance of the Government, who had given that sum to Sir Charles Trevelyan, and made him a K. C. B. into the bargain! But while thus extravagant of money and honours, they had done nothing for the real workers, Lord Robert Clinton, Mr. Higgins, and others—men who had deserved immortal honour. But to return to the failure of the poor-law. The system of elected guardians—the radical basis of the law—had broken down altogether—and in thirty-six unions paid guardians had been appointed. In another half year he believed a majority of the unions would be administered by paid guardians. Thus, instead of the infliction of the English Poor Law upon Ireland, being a subject for the boasting of hon. Members, they had bestowed a curse upon the country—given inadequate support to the poor—and shivered the fortunes of the few solvent proprietors left in Ireland. Did hon. Members really know what the facts of the case were? Let them compare Ireland with other countries. For every 100 cultivated acres, there were, in Belgium, 77 persons; in Ireland, 60; in England, 53; in Scotland, 51; and in France, 49. Thus, Ireland was second in density of population; and it must also be remembered, that while in that country two-thirds of the population were dependent upon the land, in Belgium and in England the greater proportion were dependent upon manufactures and commerce. That surely was a sufficient reason why that poor-law which had not worked so very admirably in England, should be a failure in Ireland. In the counties of Mayo there were 77, in Donegal 75, and in Kerry 70 persons to the square acre—and yet those were districts least calculated for the practice of agriculture. The first thing now to be done was, in his opinion, to reduce the area of taxation, which, as it at present stood, ruined the landlord, and was intolerable to the claimants for relief. In the report of the Boundary Commissioners he found it stated that the unions were so large that some of the paupers had to walk thirty miles to be relieved; and in one case a man actually walked 150 miles before he could get relief. In the hon. Member's (Mr. Monsell) own county, in the Newcastle 820 union, a coroner's jury had found (the case was reported in that day's paper) that a pauper, named H. Keiley, had died from fatigue and inanition, the result of himself and his family having to walk 48 Irish miles, going and returning, for relief. This, then, was a system which, while it beggared the proprietor, did not assist the poor. But, with reference to the want of "comprehensive measures," of which they heard so much, hon. Members perhaps did not know how comprehensive those measures ought to be if they were to be of any service. Let hon. Gentlemen compare the following lists of rated value, and of the number of the inhabitants, and the relation the one bore to the other:—
There were many others almost as bad; and as long as the proportion was as he had stated, so long would the people be beggared and dependent, and so long would Her Majesty's Ministers have to come to that House for grants. What had become of the schemes of home colonisation, of which so much was heard when Her Majesty's Ministers were in opposition, and so little now they were in power? He had warned the noble Lord at the head of the Government that a system of outdoor relief would never answer, and he now repeated the warning. If it went on for six months longer, he could tell the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) that it would be impossible to save that wretched country, and the evils which now overrun the south and the west would extend to the north. The hon. Member quoted the opinion of Mr. Twistleton against outdoor relief, and proceeded to remark that the Marquess of Lansdowne, in the House of Lords, in 1846, had stated that he was opposed to a system of permanent outdoor relief, as it would lead to the complete confiscation of all the property in Ireland. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had also said that—
Rated value. Population. Kilrush £59,228 82,353 Ballina 95,770 120,787 Castlebar 50,982 61,063 Westport 38,876 77,952 Swineford 45,966 73,529He did not expect it would relieve the miseries of Ireland, but was afraid it would rather fix them; his hope was then in a grand and comprehensive scheme of home colonisation upon the waste lands.That scheme was, then, to be carried into immediate operation, and he (Mr. Osborne) asked the noble Lord why he did not now propound these "comprehensive schemes?" It was all very well to come down and 821 delegate the responsibility to a Committee. They had already referred the Army and Navy expenditure, the West Indian distress, and the Irish distress; and the only thing they had not got would be a Committee of public safety. He called on the Government to give up this shuffling, easy course of referring every thing to Committees, and to bring forward at once their plans, if they had any, of colonisation and emigration; and if they wished to reach the source of the evil, they must, in addition, assimilate real and personal property, and free the land from the feudal fetters with which it was encircled. [An Hon. MEMBER: The Church.] No; he would not consent to mix up that question with the debate, after the good feeling evinced by the hon. Member for the University of Dublin in his speech. He (Mr. Osborne) did not see that the noble Lord, or his Colleagues, were prepared to do any thing of this sort. He called on the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) to propound those schemes of which he was so fond when out of office. He called upon him, in the name of the taxpayers of this country, and he called upon him in the name of the starving population of Ireland. It would not do to come down to the House night after night, and give a mere stop-gap of 50,000l. This money was of no use whatever, and he should give his vote against any thing of the sort. The noble Lord had said the other night, that he had great hope for Ireland, but that it was in a state of transition. So it had been from 1760 to the present day. But what did that mean—to what did it tend? Yes, it was in a state of transition; but under the noble Lord's Government it was going from had to worse. There was one fact he wished further to state, in answer to those who were continually harping upon the money Ireland had had from the Imperial Exchequer. Did they know what England had had? England and Scotland had borrowed 18,000,000l., of which only 6,000,000l. had been repaid: while Ireland had borrowed 9,000,000l., of which 7,000,000l. had been repaid. He again called on the House to retrace its steps, or by its bad legislation Ireland would continue to fall from bad to worse, until, at length, it realised the description of the historian, and would be "a land with no arts, no letters, no society, and the life of man nasty, brutish, and short."
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
begged to recall the attention of 822 the House to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope), from which, in the course of the debate, it had been diverted. As the hon. Member who last spoke (Mr. Osborne) had argued in favour of home colonisation and the cultivation of waste lands, it might have been inferred that he would have supported that Amendment. But with respect to that part of the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Scrope), he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought that if any thing at all had been learned from recent experience, it was the injurious results of employing large bodies of the people upon public works, managed by public officers. The results of employing the people upon the relief works had certainly had no tendency to convert him to the position of his hon. Friend. When hon. Gentlemen opposite said that nothing had been done towards the employment of the people of Ireland, they should remember that a million and a half of money had been appropriated for the purpose of enabling the proprietors of land to improve their estates—a manner of affording aid not open to the same objections which applied to the employment of the people on public works, but which tended to encourage the maintenance of that proper and wholesome relation between the landlord and the labourer which, ere long, he hoped, would be more firmly and generally established in Ireland. The Amendment of his hon. Friend, relating to the power of selling the lands for uncollected rates, had not been directly referred to, except by the hon. Member for Radnorshire (Sir J. Walsh). Something of a similar kind had been before proposed by a noble Lord at a meeting in Ireland. It certainly might be possible, when an arrear was due from a landlord, to sell his lands; but would it be advisable to incur, in all cases, the difficulty and expense of sales, in the face of all the objections to which the plan was open, for the sake of small and insignificant sums? If there were no other objection than this, it appeared to him sufficient to demonstrate the impracticability of that proposition. Any proposition of this nature, to be entertained by the House, under existing circumstances, must stand upon a totally different footing. It must be a general measure, and not one having a reference to so small a sum as 50,000l. But the argument of the hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire (Sir J. Walsh) was, of all that he had heard, 823 the most extraordinary. The hon. Baronet said, it was not disputed that some assistance to the western unions of Ireland was necessary; but he was against taking that assistance from the Consolidated Fund; he was opposed to taking it from the taxpayers of this country; he was also against raising it by a rate in aid over all parts of Ireland; and, in fact, he was against attempting to obtain it in any other way than by taking it from local resources which were notoriously utterly inadequate for the purpose. If assistance was not to be taken from any of these extraneous sources, how were the lives of the people to be preserved? He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would not enter upon the question of the area of taxation, nor upon that of the amendment of the poor-law; but he would ask any hon. Member, whether he supposed that such unions as Ballina, Clifden, and Westport, by the minutest divisions of taxation, could be enabled to keep their poor alive? Under such circumstances, did his hon. Friend (Mr. Stafford), who urged these as remedies, believe that arguments of such a kind would relieve himself from the fearful responsibility of refusing the only means of preserving life to those poor persons? The hon. Gentleman the Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. Monsell) said, all that he looked for was an extensive emigration: he asked for no money; and what he proposed was, that they should be enabled to tax themselves in Ireland for that purpose. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) did not wish to enter into the question of emigration; but he doubted very much whether the local resources of the distressed unions would be in any way able to bear a tax for such a purpose.
§ MR. MONSELL
explained that he had referred to the resources of the whole of Ireland, and that he did not object to a rate in aid for the purpose of assisting emigration.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
, in continuation, said, the explanation of the hon. Gentleman did not in any way diminish the force of his argument. Did the hon. Gentleman believe it possible to raise, by a rate in aid throughout the whole of Ireland, a sufficient sum of money in time to relieve the destitute population of the western unions by means of emigration? Did he believe that, from any source whatever, except by means of such a proposal as that which Her Majesty's Government had made, it 824 was, at present, possible to preserve life in the western districts of Ireland? Those who believed that, might with a safe conscience oppose the grant; but those who did not, were bound in common humanity to support it. The hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire said the proposition was an attempt to bolster up the poor-law. There was nothing extraordinary, he said, in the state of the western districts; they were the result of the ordinary operation of the poor-law. Of all the assertions made in the course of the debate, this was the most extraordinary. His (the Chancellor of the Exchequer's) own conviction was, that in the history of the whole civilised world, such a state of things had never before occurred as was now found in the western unions of Ireland. At no former time, and in no other place, had there existed such a disproportion between the quantity of food and the numbers of the population. He admitted that the measure was an extraordinary one; but the case was an exceptional case. It was not proposed to support the poor-law, nor, indeed, had the proposal any reference to it whatever except that the intended relief was to be administered through poor-law machinery. It was proposed, as he had said before, solely from a belief that it was the only means of supporting life in those districts. He could not complain of the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne) for opposing this vote. But on what grounds did he rest his opposition? Why, he distinctly said he was against any measure for preserving life in the distressed districts. Of what use, he asked, were grants for such a purpose? If the hon. Gentleman would read the papers presented to the House, he would find that last year the lives of no fewer than 200,000 persons in Ireland had been preserved by means of grants from that House. "Oh, but," said the hon. Gentleman, "it would have been much better for them if their protracted miseries had been put an end to at once; it would be much better that they should die upon the road-side and upon the hillside, as many had last year." This, the hon. Gentleman said, was a statesmanlike view of the question! A good deal had been said about the statesmanlike and comprehensive view which the Government ought to take of the question, not by the hon. Gentleman, but by others; and the hon. Gentleman reproached the Government with not having so considered the subject. If this were a statesmanlike view, he 825 thanked God Her Majesty's Government had not taken it. What were the reports received from the Clifden union last year, day after day? Lot the House listen. "Several deaths have taken place upon the road-side from starvation;" "poverty, destitution, and crime are upon the increase;" "deaths from actual starvation are becoming numerous." What did Mr. Phelan, the medical inspector of the union, say? That gentleman gave the most horrible account it had been his fate to read of the extent of disease, dysentery, diarrhœa, and death, to which the people were exposed merely from want of food. Such was the state of things just one year ago; and how had it been arrested? By grants from the British Association, followed by grants from Parliament. Was the same frightful state of things to be repeated in 1849? If not, he called upon the House to adopt the same measures that had been found effectual last year, as the only possible means of averting similar calamities. He did not ask that the money should be expended on relief works, he only asked the House to adopt that system of relief which the experience of the past year had proved to be at once effectual and economical. The measures necessary for amending the law must be passed over till this was done, for it was impossible to bring any alteration into practice in time to avert the impending calamity. On these grounds he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) asked the House for this vote. He called on it to pass the vote as the sole means of averting a fearful calamity. And he asked them to administer it by moans of the poor-law, which experience had proved most economical. He believed it would be a shame and a sin, to which no Christian legislature would expose itself, to condemn to death, as the hon. Member for Middlesex said, all these poor starving creatures, to leave them to die by the way and upon the hill-side. At all events the Government certainly would not take upon itself that awful responsibility. They had proposed this vote, believing that no other means could be devised for averting a tremendous calamity; and in proposing it, they had done their duty before God and before the world. If the British House of Commons chose to refuse it, the Government, at least, would have the consciousness of having done their duty to the best of their power; and not upon them would rest the responsibility, the fearful responsibility, of the fearful 826 calamity which they believed would ensue.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
, in explanation, said the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had taken advantage of a misapprehension, on his part, of what he (Mr. Obsorne) had said. He had not said, or intended to say, that he wished the people of these distressed unions to die; but that he thought it would be much better they should die to-day, than be reprieved till Saturday fortnight, which was the utmost time that the proposed grant would last.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
would be sorry to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Osborne), but he took down his words, and the hon. Gentleman said, "That the grants had been of no earthly use to the people, and that he would prefer that their protracted misery should be put an end to, and that they should be at once swept away, rather than be dependent upon Parliamentary grants."
§ MR. DISRAELI
I cannot regret. Sir, that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recalled the attention of the House to the question immediately before it. The proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope) is, that if this advance be made, it should be made with security from Ireland, and not in the shape of a grant. I am opposed to the advance, whether as a grant or a loan; and, therefore, I shall vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, while he has complained of the question discussed the other night as to the necessity for this grant being again opened for discussion, has himself so fully entered into the expediency of the grant upon this occasion, that I am sure he will pardon me if I do not pass his observations altogether unnoticed. In questions of this kind the House should always make the distinction that inevitably occurs to one. There is a sentimental view of the question, and there is also a political one. If I make an appeal to any Member of this House, or to any man in this country, and tell him, if he does not consent to some general act and course of conduct, he must be responsible for the lives of thousands of his fellow-countrymen and subjects, there can be no doubt what would be the declaration that he would instantly make. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Cocker-mouth (Mr. Horsman), who has addressed 827 us to-night with great ability, says he looks upon this as an appeal from a dying beggar in the streets. Sir, the argument of the hon. Gentleman is irresistible if the appeal be made to himself. I can easily conceive that a dying beggar in the streets might even induce the hon. Gentleman to pawn his coat to give him succour; but the appeal that is made to the hon. Gentleman, as representing the constituency of Cockermouth, assumes a totally different aspect. Why, Sir, every day we all of us have appeals made to us which it is difficult and most painful to resist. What enables us to resist them? It is the stern and practical conclusion that if we relieve all that apply to us, we shall soon be under the necessity ourselves of applying for relief to others. And so it is in the present case. We must not only consider the pressing exigency of those who are starving in Ireland, but we must consider whether we, as the representatives of the people of England, are not pursuing a course the effect of which may ultimately bring not only distress, but perhaps ruin, upon those whom we represent. Because, Sir, this is not a new appeal, or a particular occasion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has just told us that this time last year—twelve months ago—if something-like this had not been done, we have no conception of the scenes of suffering, of misery, and of death, that would have occurred. But the Ministry have allowed twelve months to go by after all that stern experience, and are yet not prepared on the present occasion with any measure—with any measure that will ensure us that twelve months hence the same appeal shall not be made to us. I am not ashamed to use the term "comprehensive measure." I caught the epithet from one who is second to no one in this House for administrative ability; and I shall not forget that the measure that has been suggested to the Government by so high an authority has been described as comprehensive. And, Sir, for one, measures less than comprehensive will not satisfy me. But if, for a moment leaving the sentimental view of the question, we look to the political one—if we feel it to be our duty on this occasion to endeavour to discover the cause of this almost unprecedented state of affairs, and to find out the remedy which it requires—it is possible we may be led to a conclusion very different from that which the Chancellor 828 of the Exchequer, in his impassioned harangue, has endeavoured to impress upon the House. An hon. Gentleman who spoke so ably a short time ago—I believe my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier)—while reminding you of the ample information which this House has long possessed on the state of Ireland, and the frequent attempts that have been made to draw its attention to remedial measures for that condition, said, "Why, in 1835 you had a Committee of this House on the state of Ireland, you had measures of great importance recommended by that Committee—that Committee consisted of Irish Gentlemen of the highest character and position, and of all parties, besides English Members of great standing—and why were not those measures adopted?" Why, Sir, in 1835, Her Majesty's Ministers, then also the Ministers of the Crown, were pressing measures for Ireland of a very different tone, and very different character. I need not allude again to the Appropriation Clause. After the discussion the other night, that subject is perhaps exhausted; but the year to which the hon. and learned Gentleman alluded, happens to be the same in which that celebrated measure was brought forward. In 1835 and '36 you had a crusade raised against the House of Lords, because they were not doing justice to Ireland, and the repeal of the Union was recommended in consequence of their conduct. To-night I am told by the hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne), that the neglect of the recommendation of those Parliamentary Committees, was in itself the best argument for the necessity of the repeal of the Union; and yet the persons who sup-port the repeal of the Union are the very persons who then recommended a policy that is totally the reverse of what we now unite in recommending. Year after year you went on recommending mere political expedients for the state of Ireland. Year after year you were called upon by a powerful individual to do justice to Ireland—the definition of justice being the assimilating the institutions of the two countries. Well, the institutions of the two countries are assimilated, and you have got the poor-law, of which you now complain. Year after year the Government renewed its tenure of power by urging that cry, and every attempt to remedy the social and material evils of that country was decried and neglected, in pursuit of a policy of a totally different character. Even now, the 829 very lees of that policy still appear in the introduction, at a moment of general suffering, of a new franchise for that country; as if it were possible to make factitious votes by Act of Parliament—as if it were possible to make a nation sensible of the dignity of possessing the elective franchise by a law. Why, Sir, a nation that is unable to appreciate the dignity and importance that attach to the possession of a vote, is unworthy of the franchise. Every one is now aware that Ireland wants much more than political privileges, and I think it shows a want of political tact on the part of the Government to introduce this measure at such a time. Well, at last the consequence of the course which you have pursued in Ireland—the consequence of explaining all the disorders of that country by political causes, has been recognised. That result has been aggravated and accelerated no doubt by the famine of which we have hoard so much; but that famine could not have prevented, though it may have hastened, the final misery of the people. The system of political agitation by which you attempted to govern that country, in order to prop up a political party in England, has entirely failed. True, you may say that had it not been for the failure of the potato crop in more than one year, your system would not have failed; but I say that a system which taught the people to rely on other energies than their own—that taught them to believe there were extraordinary means for their support, and that the Government of this country, having to rely on the power of their leaders, must come forward to maintain them in moments of pressure—that system must have failed. And, therefore, it is in vain that you now come forward with mock reforms of idle franchises—it is in vain that you seek to convince the people of England that these are the means to secure the good government of Ireland. What is your next measure? Do you take a lesson from the dear experience of the past—and do you at last prepare to grapple with the great evil that you no longer can deny exists? That is not the course of Her Majesty's Government. The course of the Government is, to come forward and acknowledge the existence of these evils, and at the same time virtually to admit that they cannot remedy them, but to ask the people of England to supply some temporary or exceptional means by 830 which they may bolster up a system which has already broken down under them. My first objection to this vote is, that it relieves the Government of this country from the responsibility that ought to devolve upon them; and this is not an occasion on which I am willing to give them any such relief. They had sufficient warning in the experience of the last three years. The very exception quoted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of the state of these unions twelve months back, is in itself a proof that they ought to have been ready to meet Parliament with measures calculated to control these evils. I say it was the duty of the Government to have brought forward comprehensive measures. I use the felicitous epithet of the right hon. Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), I hope he will not desert it. I say that they ought to have introduced measures for reducing the area of taxation—for adjusting the arrears of rates—for dealing with the lands left in waste. These I would call statesmanlike and comprehensive measures; but what is the measure that we are offered instead of them? Is it an alternative that we ought to accept in lieu of the measures that the country expected? The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Osborne) calculated that this vote can last only a fortnight. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope) has told the House, that no less a sum than half a million sterling will suffice, in the present year, in order to keep life among the starving peasantry of those unions. No Member of the Government has questioned his calculation; and it would be difficult for any Member of the Government to deny its correctness, since in the papers before the House we find that a still larger sum is necessary. The other night an hon. Friend of mine, with, great ability, impressed on the House the necessity of an estimate being laid before us on this matter. My hon. Friend was hardly aware, and the Government appear not to be aware, that the fatal estimate has been already afforded to us. In these papers we are told that a sum of 592,000l. is the calculated expense of maintaining the population of the twenty-one suffering unions until the next season. Well, then, when a Minister comes forward, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to-night, and argues the whole case on the simple vote of 50,000l., he is, in fact—unintentionally, of course, palming a delusion on the House. This discussion must commence again. In 831 another fortnight another vote will be called for; and I want to know what your position at the end of the Session, and of the year, will he, with the continuance of such a state of things. Will the habit of self-reliance, which we all wish to impress upon the people of Ireland, have made any advance? Or can we flatter ourselves that when the House meets again this time next year, the first act of the Minister will not he another appeal to the pockets of our constituents, unless in the interim these comprehensive measures he introduced? And what chance have you of obtaining the introduction of these comprehensive measures, if you yield to the feeling which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman) has indulged in? If you acknowledge that Ireland is to be looked upon as a dying beggar in the street, and that you are prepared to keep her alive for a fortnight, what charity is that to the people of Ireland, or what justice is it to the people of England? We ought to take some moral from the past, and having entirely failed in governing Ireland by a system of organised political agitation, in alliance with a political party in England, we ought to come forward and tell the people of England that we are at last alive to our errors, and that we feel it is absolutely necessary that a new system should be established, and a new course of conduct pursued—that it is not enough to come forward and say, in the phrase of a loose rhetoric, that Ireland has unfortunately been the battle-field of party, but that we are resolved henceforth that these feuds should cease, and should be no longer fostered for the aggrandisement of a party in this country—that a moment when the spirit of the people is softened by affliction is, we think, a happy opportunity for reconstructing society in that country on a system very different from that which has been hitherto attempted. But I ask what chance is there of obtaining these results if you follow the policy that Her Majesty's Ministers now recommend to you—a policy which they describe as exceptional, and which they' offer to us at a time when we want a policy that would be systematical and permanent? If there ever were an occasion when the men who rule a great country, who guide public opinion, who instruct the public mind, should lay down a broad basis for a great national policy, this is the occasion. I protest, then, against the whole spirit of the speech of the Chancellor of 832 the Exchequer. When the right hon. Gentleman thought that he was indulging in an impassioned appeal to our feelings, I say there was something unstatesmanlike and little in that appeal. An embarrassed poor-law guardian might be excused for coming forward and indulging in such language; but after the frequent Cabinet Councils held in the autumn, I ventured to hope that the state of Ireland had been well considered; and when we heard so much of our good fortune in the possession of a Lord Lieutenant so remarkable for his talents and experience, I thought that, at least, his counsels might have reached Downing-street, and that we should have laid upon the table, at the opening of the Session, measures—a series of measures—for Ireland, which would not have left her any longer the shame of Europe and the embarrassment of England. I hope, Sir, that the House, notwithstanding all that has been said—all that has been urged by the Government—will pause before they ratify this vote. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) called it, the other night, an extraordinary measure—but, Sir, I object to it, that it is not an extraordinary measure. It is an ordinary measure—a vulgar measure; it is the last mean expedient of a Government who know not how to cope with the difficulties they are obliged to encounter. The noble Lord told us that it was an extraordinary measure; and he said, when a man's house was on fire, you must have recourse to extraordinary measures to meet the calamity. Sir, I deny it. You don't have recourse to extraordinary measures when your house is on fire: you adopt ordinary measures—you send for the parish engine. You don't refer the case to a Committee of Inquiry. The noble Lord's house is on fire, and he asks for a Committee. It is very well to talk of Ministerial responsibility. What I want to impress upon the House of Commons is, that they also have a great responsibility in this matter. There are questions—there have been cases, such as the repeal of the corn laws, the repeal of the Roman Catholic disabilities, where Members may have given a vote, the wisdom of which they might have suspected. But hon. Members felt that responsibility on such questions was light—that a great many years must elapse before they could be called upon to give an account of their votes. They might have ceased to be Members of 833 the House before the fruitlessness of the scheme or the failure of the measure could be laid to their account. But let not hon. Members lay this flattering unction to their souls in the present instance. In a very few days—in a very few weeks at most—you will have a fresh appeal made to Parliament. In the present instance your constituents may allow it to pass over in silence—they may think it is merely a vote of 50,000l. to save 200,000 persons from starvation. That consideration may influence them, as it does the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth (Mr. Horsman). But when they see that they have saved the lives of those 200,000 people only for a fortnight—that in a fortnight or a month's time a fresh appeal is to be made to their feelings or their pockets—when they find that by this system they are only getting deeper and deeper into the mire; and that after spending half a million of money they will be obliged to face the difficulties they are now only postponing, surely there is no hon. Member in the House who regards the favour of his constituents who will venture to give a vote, when his only excuse for that vote is his sympathy with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope you will pause before you sanction this vote. I am glad it has not been allowed to pass over in a cursory manner. The question is before the country. It is a vital one. The whole question of Ireland is bound up in this vote, however slight it appears. And unless the Members of this House, supported by their constituents, make a stand upon this occasion, I see nothing but a future of aggravated suffering for Ireland, and of impending distress even for England herself.
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Disraeli) had called the attention of the House to the views of the question which he had laid before it; but he (Mr. Rice) hoped they would not confine themselves to that view of the subject. He wished to call things by their right names. He thought that there was a strong feeling in this country against those votes for Irish distress. But if there were one thing more than another connected with them to which he should object, it was their calling them loans and not grants, when there was no possible chance of their ever being repaid. But as to the light in which the question should be viewed, he preferred taking the view of the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman) 834 to that of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli). He (Mr. Rice) believed it was the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford) who had said that this was only one of a series of similar measures. If it were indeed one of a series, he (Mr. Rice) hoped it was the last. But for the reasons stated by the hon. Member for Cockermouth and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he should vote for it.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
said, that the Irish Poor Law system had been attacked by several hon. Members during the debate. His reason for not answering those attacks was, that he considered the entire question of the poor-law utterly irrelevant to the subject under discussion. He was one of the very few Irish Gentlemen who was prepared to defend that law, and when the proper time came he would be prepared to do so; but at present it was quite irrelevant, and he therefore should not reply to the attacks that had been made upon it. But upon some of the observations of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), he could not help making some remarks. That hon. Gentleman could not touch upon any subject without embellishing it. His powers of eloquence and his transcendent ability prevented him from touching any subject without, at the same time, adorning it. But he had said, in commenting upon the observations of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), that when a man's house was on fire he sent for the parish engine. He (Lord C. Hamilton) could not but admire the coolness of the hon. Member, in thinking of nothing but the parish engine—in sitting down coolly and sending for it. Such perfect coolness and self-possession forcibly reminded him of the Roman senators, who, when the forum was broken into by the Gauls, sat quite unmoved. Such self-possession might have been the habit of ancient Rome. But he should acknowledge that, speaking practically, when a house was on fire in the modern city of London, they usually sent in haste for the fire-escape, which was a sort of machine that you went down head foremost in from the fourth story. He looked upon the vote of 50,000l. as a fire-escape—as an exceptional measure, and solely as an exceptional measure, rendered necessary by circumstances as amazing as a house on fire; and for that reason he was prepared to vote for it, and not because he agreed with the arguments urged in its favour.
§ MR. MOORE
could not avoid commenting upon the expression of the hon. Member for Middlesex, that it would be better for those poor starving creatures to be allowed to die, than to have life kept in them by this grant. [Mr. OSBORNE: I said than to hare life kept in them for only a fortnight.] Very well, only for a fortnight. This might be the hon. Gentleman's opinion after he had dined; but if the hon. Gentleman was placed in the same position as those unfortunate persons, he (Mr. Moore) knew nothing which could induce him to suppose that his views on that subject would not he very considerably modified. The hon. Gentleman had said that it was better for a man to die of starvation than be supported from day to day by the charity of others; but let it be remembered that in the union workhouses in England thousands of persons were supported in the same way. The question at issue was whether those persons should be permitted to die of famine—whether it would be creditable for Parliament, as the representative of a great civilised country, to allow thousands of fellow-subjects to Buffer the horrors of starvation? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had adopted another view of the case, and had made it a party question. It was not a consideration with him whether 100,000 Irishmen should die or live, but whether the Government was in any way implicated in their deaths. But surely the hon. Gentleman did not wish the House to suppose that any protestation on the part of the Government would have induced him to vote money which was not required by the exigency of the case? If the money were really demanded by the exigency of the State, was the hon. Gentleman prepared not to grant it, merely because in his opinion the general policy pursued by the Government was not correct? He (Mr. Moore) was prepared to vote for the grant, and he regretted that the hon. Member (Mr. Disraeli) who had spoken so lately appeared more desirous to strike a blow at the Government, than to yield to the necessities of the case.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
could not avoid making some brief remarks upon the subject, after having heard the observations made by the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth (Mr. Horaman), and the hon. Gentleman who had spoken last (Mr. Moore). The vote which he (Mr. Wood) had felt it his painful duty to give the other night upon this question had 836 been given for the purpose of saving the people from starvation, for he considered that the vote now asked for, small as it was, might be of fatal consequences to Ireland. How did England and Scotland obtain their social position? Was it by grants of public money advanced for the purpose of supporting the nation from time to time, or was it by honest and strenuous industry? There were instances of unions in Ireland which had nobly performed their duty, and where the landlords had strained every nerve to give employment to their poor. Once give this grant, and you take away every incentive to industry in the poor; you break down the energies of the landlords who were endeavouring to perform their duty, and, instead of 200,000 persons, you would have in a few weeks 400,000 suffering the horrors of starvation. The only possible means of avoiding that calamity was by stimulating the efforts of those who were laudably endeavouring to remove it, by telling them they had nothing to expect from the public Exchequer. As to extreme cases, no one could think so meanly of the charity of England as to suppose that relief would not be afforded; there had never been any difficulty in providing for them, but the difficulty had been in persuading this country to afford relief to the ablebodied poor. He (Mr. Wood) could not conclude without a word of reference to the report of Captain Hamilton, which had been laid on the table for the purpose of inducing them to concur in this grant; but he confessed it had made the strongest possible impression on him in the contrary direction. That officer stated that there would be in the union of Ballina 27,000 persons destitute before harvest; of these 4,300 were able-bodied, and 14,000 dependent on them; so that 18,300 could be supported by labour; but he added that the ablebodied poor were lazily inclined, and would do nothing for themselves as long as anything should be done for them. Captain Hamilton further stated, that if the landlords were able and willing to give employment, and the poor willing to work, there was sufficient labour to be performed in that very district to take up the whole of the ablebodied poor and afford them employment. The Inspector said, indeed, that some of the landlords were not able, but also that there were others who were able, and were looking forward to a rate. Were they then to make a grant of 50,000l., and thereby diminish the energies of the landlords 837 throughout the unions which were in a better condition, as well as in those which were suffering from destitution, and of the labourers also? If he were an Irishman he should be disposed to say to the Government, "We are now, for the very first time in our history, doing our best ably and strenuously to support ourselves; do not destroy all the springs of action, but leave us at once to do our best, and make our most earnest efforts to secure our own subsistence." The system of grants had been the bane and curse of Ireland. He would remind the House that, in the last century, one of the most able, pious, and learned men whom Ireland had produced, Bishop Berkeley, published a series of queries on the subject of the condition of Ireland, and that amongst them were the following—" When shall we in Ireland be able to maintain ourselves by our own industry? To whom does the fable of Hercules and the carter apply so strongly as to this nation of Ireland? Whose fault is it, then, if the poor of Ireland remain poor?"
§ COLONEL DUNNE
strongly deprecated such remarks as fell from the hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman), that he would give this grant as he would alms to a beggar in the street. He contended that it was a case of absolute necessity to provide for the support of many districts in Ireland, such as those to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred in his speech. The people must die if you did not; there was no alternative. There were unions in which a rate of 6s. 8d. would be required for the support of the poor, yet in which, if you took not the valuation, but the natural produce of last year, it would not go beyond 3s. 4d. The whole question was, should the means come from the Imperial Treasury, or from Ireland alone? Suppose a rate were to be levied on Ireland solely to support the south-west of Ireland, or on England solely to support the west of England, that would be an arrangement in which there would be little sense or justice. What was Ireland, and what was England? Were they one country? The moment you went beyond the radius of the property with which you were connected, you opened the whole question—was the union, the province, the country, to be rated, or was the empire? Let it be recollected that England had taken away from Ireland her distinct government; that, only two years ago, she passed a law by which 838 the exports from Ireland to England had diminished one-third; that she had imposed on Ireland a poor-law unsuited to the country, and last year refused an inquiry into it.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, there was a saying that "old birds were not to be caught by chaff'." If he understood his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) rightly, he meant to vote against the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope), and that, therefore, he would vote with the Government. On no occasion could be (Colonel Sibthorp) do so—on no occasion could be go with them. He could not go with the Government—he could not vote with the hon. Member for Stroud; therefore, he should not vote at all against the main question. He was in this difficulty, that he did not wish to be caught in a trap, in voting with the Government, with whom, as he said before, he would not go on any point.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. and gallant Member (Col. Sibthorp) would have the opportunity of voting against the grant after the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Stroud should be disposed of.
§ MR. HUME
said, what he wanted to know was this—what is the want of Ireland? The want of Ireland is employment. But would this grant give employment? Clearly not. The hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington (Col. Dunne) said the question was one of life and death. Now, admitting that to be the case, what would be the result of the present grant? Why, that it would afford relief for a fortnight. At the end of that time what was to be done to stimulate the industry of Ireland? He believed the present vote would add to the evil, and increase the dependence of the people on grants of money. No man who wished well to Ireland would support this grant.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Mr. W. P. Wood), in objecting to this grant, had placed his vote very much on the ground of the report of Captain Hamilton, inspector at Ballina. The hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Hume) likewise objected to it, because he thought employment ought to be given, and refusing this vote would tend to increase employment. Now, he would toll the House what Captain Hamilton said. He stated, in the first place, that the landlords were generally unable to give employment; and in another part, he 839 added, that the labourers were so weak they were hardly able to work, and then put it to the Commissioners whether he should now accede to the striking of another rate. He said—The striking of another rate will have the effect of extinguishing the little hope still to be found in the union; the few landlords who are giving employment will come to a stand-still; a rate can only be collected by tedious legal proceedings, and by the time it will become available, the poor will have ceased to exist.Now, the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) thought the refusing this grant would favour employment, and enable the people to live; so that he would see that the authority of Captain Hamilton, at least, was against him.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
had never heard so much said upon a question bearing so little upon the real question. If they did not do something to assist the people, the leaving them to starve would be little short of murder.
§ MR. P. SCROPE
, seeing the temper of the House, would not trouble it to divide upon his Amentment.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ LORD D. STUART
said, that he had an Amendment to propose of which he had given notice, but he could hardly expect that he would be allowed to proceed with it at that late hour of the night, it being-then half-past twelve. ["Go on, go on!"] He did not think that he could consistently proceed with his Amendment at that time, though he was prepared to go on if it was the pleasure of the House.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that the proposition which the noble Lord (Lord D. Stuart) was about to bring forward was, that the money to be advanced to the unions of Ireland should be repaid by all but those who received it. He did not think that this was a question with which the noble Lord would detain the House at any length, and he believed that the House would be enabled to bear the fatigue of hearing him, oven if an adjournment should be found necessary afterwards.
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
said, as many hon. Members were desirous of expressing their opinions, he thought it would be better to adjourn the debate.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 174; Majority 165.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bankes, G.||Spooner, R.|
|Floyer, J.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Waddington, D.|
|Pigott, F.||Barron, Sir H. W.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Evans, W.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Farrer, J.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Fordyce, A. D.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Forster, M.|
|Fox, R. M.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Baines, M. T.||Greene, J.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bellow, R. M.||Grey, R. W.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Gwyn, H.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Hastie, A.|
|Blair, S.||Hastie, A.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Hawes, B.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Brackley, Visct.||Henley, J. W.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Henry, A.|
|Brooke, Lord||Herbert, H. A.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Butler, P. S.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Callaghan, D.||Hornby, J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Horsman, E.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Hume, J.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Coles, H. B.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Cowan, C.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Craig, W. G.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Macnamara, Maj.|
|Disraeli, B.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Dodd, G.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Drumlanrig, Visct.||Maitland, T.|
|Duncan, G.||Matheson, A.|
|Duncuft, J.||Matheson, Col.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Dundas, G.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Monsell, W.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Moore, G. H.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Morgan, H. K. G.|
|Morris, D.||Seymour, H. K.|
|Mulgrave, Earl of||Shafto, R. D.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Mure, Col.||Simeon, J.|
|Napier, J.||Smith, M. T.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Spearman, H. J.|
|O'Brien, J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|O'Brien, T.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|O'Connell, J.||Sullivan, M.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Osborne, R.||Thompson, Col.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Thornely, T.|
|Paget, Lord C.||Towneley, J.|
|Paget, Lord G.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Parker, J.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Peto, S. M.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Pilkington, J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Raphael, A.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Reynolds, J.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Rice, E. R.||Willyams, H.|
|Rich, H.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Rebartes, T. J. A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Roche, E. B.||Wilson, J.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Wilson, M.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Sandars, J.||Wood, W. P.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Tufnell, H.|
|Scully, F.||Hill, Lord M.|
§ LORD D. STUART
said, that the House having decided by so large a majority that the debate should be continued, he bowed to that decision, and would proceed with the Motion of which he had given notice. Although he felt it impossible for him to refuse voting for the grant, seeing that the question was neither more nor less than one of life or death with regard to many of their fellow-subjects in Ireland, he confessed it was with pain he made up his mind to do so. But extraordinary occasions required exceptional treatment. Assuming, therefore, that the grant was necessary, the question arose from what source ought it to come? He had voted that it should come from imperial sources in the first instance. That was the course that humanity dictated, but he considered that there was a mode of reconciling humanity with justice—a course by which the money of the people of this country might be returned to them. The mode proposed by the hon. Member for Stroud seemed to him to be illusory. His own he considered to be quite practicable. It would be in vain to look to the unfortunate unions for the money advanced. But that was not the case with Ireland at large. The rate for the 842 whole of Ireland was not more than 2s. 9½d. in the pound, and a very small addition to that would bring back the amount of the grant. When it was considered that 10,000,000l. had been already voted for Ireland, that she was exempt from a great portion of the heavy taxation of this country, and that the poor-rates of England were raised in consequence of the Largo influx of Irish paupers, he did not think it was too much to ask the people of Ireland to take upon them this burden. He (Lord D. Stuart) was the more disposed to assist the people of Ireland, because they had been misgoverned for centuries. He admitted that public feeling in this country was opposed to the making grants to Ireland. England was exasperated, and justly so, at the manner in which our assistance had been received. Such language as "take back your dirty money," could not fail to sink deeply into the hearts of the people of this country. He did not make his proposal for the purpose of relieving the Irish landlords from the performance of their just duties; and no doubt Ireland, taken as a whole, could repay our advances. A remarkable circular had recently been issued by the Archbishop of Tuam to the people of Ireland, in which he called upon them in the midst of their distress to subscribe money—for what did the House suppose? Why, to relieve the Pope from his present pecuniary difficulties. Now, he thought it might be all very right for Irishmen so to act, but then England ought not to be made pay for it. He thought his proposal deserved the support of the House. He thought that Her Majesty's Government would accede to it; as, from the speech of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), he gathered that he had some measure in contemplation by which the property of Ireland at large should be made to provide for the local distress of Ireland. He trusted that Ireland would have the benefit of such a measure, and that she would be placed in all respects upon an equal footing with England. He hoped to see the time when Ireland should enjoy every privilege which we enjoyed ourselves. They were our fellow-countrymen, and we ought to relieve them. He believed that his proposal was one which combined humanity with the requirements of the case, and in that conviction he had brought it forward. The noble Lord concluded by proposing, at the end of the Resolution, to add the words—But that the 50,000l. to be issued out of the 843 Consolidated Fund, for the purpose of affording relief to certain distressed Poor Law Unions in Ireland, be advanced by way of loan, to be repaid by means of a rate to be levied on the whole of the Unions in Ireland except the Unions receiving such relief.
§ Question proposed that those words he there added.
The EARL of ARUNDEL and SURREY
begged to remind his noble Friend (Lord D. Stuart) that the Pope had sent remittances to Ireland during its distress; and with respect to sending money to him under present circumstances, it was not an unusual practice in the Catholic Church. It might also be remembered that this country had subscribed money for the benefit of Poland.
§ MR. BANKES
expressed his intention of opposing the vote, which he should not have done had the Government accepted the Amendment proposed, binding the House down that this should be the last one. He was surprised at the accusation of the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. J. O'Connell)—an accusation of "murder" against the party with whom he (Mr. Bankes) acted; and he was hardly less surprised at the expressions which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He (Mr. Bankes) would not vote for the Amendment, for the reasons stated by the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Rice), namely, that it was a mere pretence to speak of this advance as a "loan." That money would never he repaid. He could not join with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the consolation which that right hon. Gentleman said he felt with respect to our treatment of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to say, "Whatever may become of the people of Ireland—if they die even—we shall have the consolation of having done our duty." He (Mr. Bankes) denied that the Government had done its duty to Ireland. Why was it that Parliament had not been called together earlier if such an emergency existed? The Government had received official information of the distress that prevailed in Ireland as early as in the month of October last, and repeatedly since that time; and Captain Hamilton's communication, to which the noble Lord at the head of the Government had alluded, was received in December, and brought intelligence of the people being in a state of starvation. Why, then, was Parliament not called together until the 1st of February? The opening paragraph in the Speech from the Throne 844 gave no indications of any great public exigency of this kind. It merely stated that the period had at length arrived when it was "usual" to recommence their labours. If, then, there were any delay or even refusal as to granting this vote, it was to be laid to the doors of Her Majesty's Ministry, and not to that of his (Mr. Bankes's) friends. If the Government had allowed them to justify their votes on this question to their constituencies, by accompanying the grant with the assertion that it was to be the last of the series, he (Mr. Bankes) would have had no objection to go along with them. He could not now vote in favour of the Government, for the reasons he had assigned; but he would not give them any unnecessary interruption in the progress of the measure.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that he could not concur in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford), for that was tantamount to a vote of censure on the Government; whereas he (Lord J. Russell) had pursued precisely the same course that had been taken by former Ministers under similar circumstances. With respect to the observations of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Scrope), he must say, that the present grant ought to be made unconditionally as a gift, and not as a loan. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) was incorrect in his assertion that Captain Hamilton's letter was in the hands of the Government in December last. Its date was the 22nd of January, and the letter of the Poor Law Commissioners was dated the 2nd of February. He agreed so far with the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord D. Stuart) that the present grant ought not to be charged upon Ireland as a debt to be provided for by a special rate; but he certainly did think that it might become a question for the future consideration of Parliament whether any further grant ought not to be charged on some fund in Ireland, out of which it might be repaid.
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
would reserve any observations which he had to make on the main question till the second reading of the Bill. With respect to the proposition of a grant in aid, all he could say was, that its effect on the part of Ireland with which he was connected, would be to drive all the landed proprietors out of the country, and reduce nine-tenths of Ireland to the same state in which the twenty-one unions were at the present moment.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
would not trespass long upon their attention at so late an hour. He could not but feel great indignation at the undeserved insults that had been heaped upon his fellow-countrymen that night. He would pass over the frigid political economy of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume)—it was so frozen and icy that it required the burning heat of a West Indian climate to thaw it. Irishmen must, forsooth, learn self-reliance; but the hon. Gentleman had told the West Indian planters that he would not mind adding millions to the already overwhelming amount of the national debt, out of pure compassion to them. The hon. Member for Cockermouth (Mr. Horsman) had characterised his (Mr. Reynolds) countrymen as a set of beggars. Now, this reminded him of the story, where a traveller, having been robbed on his journey, was reduced to beggary, and was then called a pauper by the man who robbed him. This was just Ireland's case; and who had acted the part of the robber towards her, he (Mr. Reynolds) would leave hon. Gentlemen to determine for themselves. The speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had been very entertaining. He (Mr. Reynolds) believed he only spoke the universal sentiment of the House when he said that the hon. Gentleman's speeches were all very entertaining. He (Mr. Reynolds) confessed he often put himself to considerable inconvenience to be present to listen to his eloquent display. He heard him just as he would go to hear some famous actor. He (Mr. Disraeli) had charged the Government that night with sins both of omission and commission. He had charged them with not having brought forward some comprehensive measures for the relief of the Irish people; but although he (Mr. Reynolds) had followed the hon. Gentleman with great anxiety, he had certainly not heard him propound any measures of his own for that purpose. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) was a striking embodiment of the truth that it required a very small degree of talent to find fault with a plan, but that a very considerable portion was necessary to produce a better; for, with all his eloquence and ability, he had not made a single suggestion of what he would have done for Ireland. Perhaps, indeed, he was like one of those quack doctors who intended to take out a patent for some universal specific of his own invention; but would not for a time divulge the secret, lest a 846 rival should snatch away his nostrum and his fame at one and the same time. The hon. Gentleman was wise in his own generation. Let him hasten to take out his patent and publish his plan, however, and he (Mr. Reynolds) would not only support it if it was a good one, but would canvass for him besides. As to the grant before the House, his (Mr. Reynolds') only fault to find with it was, that it was so small. The old adage, "great cry and little wool," had in this case had a notable illustration. The hon. Member for Middlesex (Mr. Osborne) had said the grant would only support the people ill the distressed unions for a fortnight, and, therefore, he would not vote for it; but he (Mr. Reynolds) would vote for the grant if it only supported the people for a week. He would remind the House that the greatest efforts had been made in Ireland to collect the rates. Not only had the police and soldiers been engaged in collecting them, but to effect the same object Her Majesty's Navy were employed to scour the coasts. He (Mr. Reynolds) trusted that this grant of 50,000l was only the forerunner of other grants. The English Parliament had taken upon themselves the responsibility of governing Ireland; they said to those who advocated the repeal of the Union that Ireland should not be governed by a local Parliament; therefore it was the duty of England to provide for the starving poor, and to improve the social and political condition of her people.
felt bound, in justice to his constituents and the taxpayers of England, who were themselves suffering great distress, to support the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added:" House divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 157: Majority 148.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Thompson, Col.|
|Cowan, C.||Willyams, H.|
|Gwyn, H.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Scholefield, W.||Pigott, F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Bagshaw, J.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Baines, M. T.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Bankes, G.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Barron, Sir H. W.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Berkeley, hon. Capt.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Bernard, Visct.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Moore, G. H.|
|Blair, S.||Morgan, H. K. G.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Morris, D.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Brackley, Visct.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Napier, J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Nugent, Sir P.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||O'Brien, J.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||O'Brien, T.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||O'Connell, J.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Coles, H. B.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Dodd, G.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Duncan, G.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Duncuft, J.||Parker, J.|
|Dundas, A.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Dundas, G.||Peto, S. M.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Pilkington, J.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Raphael, A.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Reynolds, J.|
|Evans, W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Farrer, J.||Rich, H.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Roche, E. B.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Forster, M.||Sandars, J.|
|Fortescue, C.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Fox, R. M.||Scully, F.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Greene, J.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Simeon, J.|
|Grey, R. W.||Smith, M. T.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Hastie, A.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Hastie, A.||Spooner, R.|
|Hawes, B.||Stanley, E.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Henry, A.||Sullivan, M.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Hornby, J.||Thornely, T.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Towncley, J.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Hudson, G.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Hume, J.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Keppel, hon. G. T.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Kershaw, J.||Ward, H. G.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Westhead, J. P.|
|M'Naghten, Sir E.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Macnamara, Maj.||Wilson, J.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Wilson, M.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Maitland, T.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Matheson, A.||Wood, W. P.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||TELLERS.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Tufnell, H.|
|Monsell, W.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Matheson, Col.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Maule, rt hon. F.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Monsell, W.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Moore, G. H.|
|Morgan, H. K. G.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Baines, M. T.||Napier, J.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Nugent, Sir P.|
|Bellew, R. M.||O'Brien, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||O'Brien, T.|
|Bernard, Visct.||O'Connell, J.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Blackall, S. W.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Brackley, Visct.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Brotherton, J.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Butler, P. S.||Parker, J.|
|Carter, J. B.||Peto, S. M.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Raphael, A.|
|Cavendish, W. G.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Reynolds, J.|
|Craig, W. G.||Rice, E. R.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Rich, H.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Roche, E. B.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Russell, F. C. H.|
|Evans, W.||Sandars, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Scholefield, W.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Scully, F.|
|Forster, M.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Fortescue, C.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Fox, R. M.||Simeon, J.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Smith, M. T.|
|Greene, J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Grey, R. W.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Hawes, B.||Sullivan, M.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Thorneley, T.|
|Hood, Sir A.||Towneley, J.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Keppel, hon. G. T.||Ward, H. G.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Watkins, Col. L.|
|Lascelles, hon. W. S.||Westhead, J. P.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Macnaghten, Sir E.||Wilson, J.|
|Macnamara, Maj.||Wilson, M.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Wodehouse, E.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Mahon, The O'Gorman||TELLERS.|
|Maitland, T.||Tufnell, H.|
|Matheson, A.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Hudson, G.|
|Blair, S.||Kershaw, J.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Morris, D.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Coles, H. B.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Cowan, C.||Pilkington, J.|
|Dodd, G.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Duncan, G.||Spooner, R.|
|Duncuft, J.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Dundas, G.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Thompson, Col.|
|Farrer, J.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Gwyn, H.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hastie, A.||Willyams, H.|
|Hastie, A.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Henry, A.||Wood, W. P.|
|Hildyard, R. C.||TELLERS.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Aglionby, H. A.|
|Hornby, J.||Hume, J.|
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Bernal, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Parker.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Two o'clock.