Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [24th February], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair;" and which Amendment was,
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House observes with regret the decline of the population of Ireland, and will readily support Her Majesty's Government in any well-devised measure to stimulate the profitable employment of the people,"—(Mr. Hennessy,)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." Debate resumed.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I have listened with considerable interest, but with still greater curiosity, to the debate of last Friday as carried on by Irish Members on Irish affairs. Now, I think I may say of my-self that for many years past I have been what is called a friend of Ireland. There has been no discussion in this House with respect to her liberties or her people which I have not supported. On this occasion I have not been disappointed, for my expectations were not raised, but I have heard with sorrow a number of Gentlemen who for thirty years past have enjoyed Parliamentary and constitutional Government, advancing such statements as I heard upon Friday night with respect to Ireland. The hon. Member (Mr. Hennessy) who opened the debate, deserves, I think, the approbation of the House for the manner and temper with which he executed the task he had undertaken. There was an utter absence of all party and declamatory matter. There my approval ends. There was nothing in the speech which the hon. Gentleman made which probed to the bottom the mischiefs which now surround Ireland—nothing which suggested anything like a remedy. Really, Sir, the whole thing from the beginning to the end on the part of the Irish Members was a sort of moan of a beggar—a sort of mendicant whine, for I may so call it, without any thorough understanding or appreciation of what an independent man ought to be. The hon. Member who opened the debate began by stating two things with regard to Ireland which I am not going to contest. One was that Irishmen as a body were much stronger than Englishmen or Scotchmen; and the next that Ireland as a country was very much more fertile than England or Scotland. Well, one would have supposed that the necessary conclusion from that would be that the Irish people would be more thriving and more happy. Then comes the next proposition of the hon. Gentleman, which is really nothing more than a complaint of the Government of England. As to the proposal that the House "will readily support Her Majesty's Government in any well-devised measure to stimulate the profitable employment of the people," any statesman would know that it was mere idle verbiage and mischievous verbiage. But the real 752 point of the whole debate was that Ireland was misgoverned by England. One hon. Gentleman said that Ireland would be rescued from her miseries if the Shannon were drained. The hon. Member for the Queen's County (Colonel Dunne) says that England has been draining Ireland for many hundreds of years, and that the drain was still going on. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) had his small means of remedying the mischief, and that was a Tenant Right Bill. But the noble Lord the Member for Stamford said that any attempt to introduce a Tenant Right Bill was a mere matter of confiscation. Then the hon. Member for the county of Galway (Mr. Gregory) said that the great mischief was what took place with respect to the Galway contract. I want to know whether there was ever such a collection of little things about a great subject. Then, Sir, if this be the case with regard to Irish Members, I may be asked what I, as an English Member, think about the present state of Ireland, and I will state it fully and fairly. It has been said time out of mind—ever since I have been in this House—that "something must be done" for Ireland. Now, I have a horror of that phrase. If a man tells me that something must be done, I know he is prepared to do nothing. If a man intends that something should be done he points out what it is. But will any man look me in the face and tell me that the present emigration and the miseries by which the Irish population are surrounded would be relieved by the drainage of the Shannon? Now, I will ask what is the present state of Ireland—and this goes to the real difficulty—the country is divided against itself. The first great party in the country is that old party that for many centuries domineered cruelly over Ireland—I speak of the great Protestant party. They are said to be represented in this House by my right hon. and learned Friend—for I hope he will allow me to call him so—the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside), and by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns). The next party is the Catholic party, who were brought into political history in the year 1829. And then there is a third party, which is also represented in this House, the Republican party of Ireland, who call themselves Fenians—not Athenians—Fenians, and who want to separate Ireland 753 from England, and to set up as a national government for themselves. Now, the first two parties I can discuss the question with. I can deal with them as to the condition of Ireland, and consult with them as to the modes of remedying it. But with the third I hold no parley whatever. Their efforts are directed to so vitally different an end that nothing can settle the question if they have the power but the sword. It comes to that—it means rebellion, it means separation from England, and so long as I sit in this House I am prepared, Sir, to put them down—aye, with the sword if necessary. Now, the first party of which I spoke—the old Protestant party of Ireland—in my opinion have made a great mistake. They have not accepted their mission, but have invariably turned their battery since he has been in office against the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Sir Robert Peel). Now, I think there can be nothing more unfair than the whole proceeding. I heard the debate upon the riots in Belfast. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Whiteside) and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns) really seem to be the representatives of the little dirty boys in Belfast, boys who got up a row which led eventually to the disastrous turbulence in Belfast, because the people of Dublin had been allowed to walk in procession in honour of Mr. O'Connell. Now, we are very often asked what has been done for Ireland. I will tell what I believe has been done in my time. At the beginning of this century Ireland was as ill governed a country as Poland is now. There was the curse of horrid bigotry upon that country; there was cruelty, there was misery, there was every sort of mischief predominant in that land. In the year 1829 a light broke over us, and the emancipation of the Catholics was granted. From that time to the present the House has been endeavouring with all its earnestness and all its power to do justice to that country. Now, what has been the result? Why, that Ireland now at this present moment is as well governed as any one of the three kingdoms. I defy an answer to that assertion. Is not law administered there with as much justice and honour as in England and Scotland? Can you find a body of men more upright and respected than the Judges of Ireland? Does any man whisper against them that they are partisans, cruel, or bigoted, and are not 754 the larger number of them Catholics at this present time? In fact, there is no distinction between man and man on account of his religion. As far as law is concerned then Ireland is well governed. Well, then, coming to the administration of Ireland, I ask is there anything in it cruel or unconstitutional? Is anything done in that country to controvert the right of any one individual, and is not the voice of his complaint heard in this House directly? Do we not do our utmost to do justice to every human being in Ireland? Well, then, I say that Ireland is as well governed as any of the three kingdoms. But the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Queen's County (Colonel Dunne) says you are draining Ireland. Now let me consider that point. Take a peasant and a man of £1,000 a year in Ireland. Do they pay one farthing more in taxation than persons of the same class in England? Does the man with £1,000 a year in Ireland pay more for his horses, his servants, or his house? Does he pay more income tax than he would pay in England? Then look at the indirect taxes. Do people pay more in Ireland for their sugar and their tea than they pay in England? If not, how is Ireland "drained?" It is all very well to give us figures and facts; I long ago found that figures and facts will prove anything. But the test I have just applied is one which you cannot answer. Taxation in Ireland is no higher than in England. As a matter of State necessity you are obliged to tax the people of all the three kingdoms, but in doing so no favouritism is shown to an Englishman or a Scotchman above an Irishman. Then, again, is not an Irishman's career quite as safe in England as that of an Englishman? Though we know he is an Irishman by his peculiar manner in talking, do we care for that? Do not we receive him everywhere as a brother and a friend? Is there any difference in our treatment of him? No, and yet Irishmen indulge in this constant whining, which they have sucked in from old nurses from a people whom our grandfathers oppressed. They are the mere disciples of any old woman who chooses to talk to them—but it is only talk—of the difference between the two countries and the wrongs of Ireland. Now let me again advert to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Sir Robert Peel). He is in a very difficult position, The position he holds is the 755 most important in the Government next to that of Lord Russell. I say this advisedly. And what has he to do? He has to deal with the combustible mass that I have described. If he favours the Catholics, or does them a kindness, up jumps the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns) or my right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside), and accuses him of doing an injury to Ireland. If, on the other hand, he does a good-natured thing to the Protestants, he is found fault with by the Catholics. Now, to my mind, it marks the goodness of the right hon. Gentleman's government that it is thus found fault with by both sides. What is he to do in this difficulty? Why, pursue the straight forward, manly course which an Englishman placed in that position ought to pursue. Go straightforward in the path of truth and honour, and do whatever truth and honour tell him to do. I sincerely believe that the faults which belong to the right hon. Gentleman are very much the faults of the people among whom he dwells—he is too impulsive and he talks too much. If he would practise the art of silence—and a great art it is—if he would learn to shake his head with gravity and use "wise saws and modern instances"—I think he would be a more effective Secretary for Ireland. Still I cannot hide from myself that an injustice has been done to the right hon. Gentleman. He has done what he believes to be for the good of Ireland; he has brought a kind heart and generous hand to that country, and the people who turn upon him and find fault with almost every act of his administration cannot know how difficult it is to govern Ireland aright. Then, what do I propose for Ireland? A Government grant? Not at all. I think with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that well-devised schemes may possibly receive with advantage Government aid. But the mischiefs of Ireland he deeper than that. The evil is that they quarrel among themselves, and when I see men in the prominent position occupied by the two hon. and learned Gentlemen pandering to small prejudices among Protestants, and doing what they can to alarm all the old women in the kingdom, I say there is little to expect from that party. Then I turn to the Catholics. They are led by their priests. Recollect the position in which the priests are now. The priests have taught the people until at length the people have gone beyond their 756 teachers. The late election at Tralee gives a curious instance of the declension of priestly power in Ireland. And I am very curious to know what will occur at Tipperary, because there we have a clear case of the Catholic clergy pitted against what is called "Young Ireland." The fact is, that the Catholic clergy have gone beyond their mark. This does not surprise me. Napoleon said that if you scraped the varnish of civilization from a Russian you came upon a Kalmuck. So I say if you scrape off the varnish of civilization from the Irish priest he becomes the Irish peasant. The Irish priest has all the passions and prejudices, all the narrow sympathies and contracted views of the Irish peasant. It is the blind leading the blind, and that they should both tumble into the hole does not surprise me. To both parties, then, I say, "Break down the prejudices that have beset you for ages." I know that England has been a cruel stepmother to Ireland. I say so, and have said so—up to the year 1829. But from that time to the present, I defy anybody to show me anything in our Legislation that you can find reasonable fault with, except the Coercion Bill for Ireland, which was about the last trait of cruelty manifested by this House. From 1829 to the present hour, with that exception, the great object of the House has been to do justice to Ireland, to make her people happy, to give them the power of governing themselves, to make them in all things as far as possible the equals of Englishmen and Scotchmen. It now only remains for the leaders of opinion in Ireland to set an example of the same sort; and if my right hon. and learned Friend and the hon. and learned Gentleman will tell their friends that the time for Protestant domination has ceased for ever, that henceforth all Irishmen must be equal before the law, that the law must be paternal, kind, and good to all alike, and that all party domination must cease for ever, they will have done a great deal to soften down the animosities on their side, so disastrous to their country. To the Catholics and priests of Ireland I say, "Accept your position. Ireland is not a province of England. It is one-third part of the great Empire. The people of the three kingdoms are all equal. We want Irishmen to be as well governed as ourselves. You are our equals. We want you to be as happy as ourselves. We want you to be one with us in happiness, 757 one in greatness, one in virtue, and one in honour." I say that until Irishmen break down their petty prejudices and animosities they will be condemned to be what they are now. It is not £100,000 or a million of public money that will lift them from their present condition. They must accomplish this for themselves. It is not enough to tell me that the centre of Ireland is lower than the shores; that is not the cause of the misery of Ireland. It is not enough to tell me that we have coal and they have little or none; that is not the cause of the misery of Ireland. The misery of Ireland comes from her own children. It is their own weakness, their own prejudices, their own narrow views, their own hostility to each other, that has created and will continue to create the misery of Ireland. I say once for all, that until that is done away with there will be no hope for Ireland.
could assure the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down, that he was not going to add one note to that wretched whine for money of which he had spoken, but when the case of wretchedness and misery of Ireland was brought before the House, he thought that it would have been well to have kept to the facts on which a hearing was demanded. In the debate which had taken place, he denied that there had been any whining for public money; and although several Members had spoken of advances by which Irish enterprise might be stimulated, it was by loans to be repaid. He had heard no proposal of grants in any way that could fairly be called a whine for public money. Among all the panaceas which had been propounded for the cure of Ireland, he had listened in vain for those of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He (Mr. Roebuck) had admitted that evils did exist, and that there were dissensions amongst Irishmen, but he (Lord Dunkellin) could not allow that the latter were the cause of the former. In speaking of distress, he was referring exclusively to the west and south of Ireland, for he admitted that the north with its manufactures was flourishing; and it was probably from the happy condition of the north, that statistics were derived which led the right hon. Baronet to infer the general prosperity of the country. He believed that the right hon. Baronet and the Government relied too much on statistics in the matter. Statistics were very useful in their way, but they could not supersede the expe- 758 rience which a man obtained by the exercise of his own senses. The hon. Gentleman who introduced that Motion (Mr. Hennessy) had referred to the speech of the chairman of the Great Southern and Western Railway, for the purpose of showing that the traffic in cattle had greatly decreased along that line; but the right hon. Baronet quoted returns in reply, with a view to show that the number of cattle in Ireland had actually increased, and he then inferred that if there was a diminished traffic under that head, that circumstance must be owing to the fact that the cattle were kept in the country for consumption or other purposes. But the south and west of Ireland formed an essentially agricultural district, and it would be idle to imagine that their condition was improving, while one of their chief products was less extensively exported. The right hon. Baronet had also stated that there had of late been an increase in the deposits of the Irish Savings Banks, but he (Lord Dunkellin) should feel much surprise if that increase had taken place in the southern and western portions of the island. He would next refer to the important and painful question of emigration. The right hon. Baronet had told them that the number of emigrants from Ireland in 1863 was 117,000, while in 1864 it was 114,000. Now these figures no doubt showed a slight diminution. But it should be remembered that in the later case the number was taken from a smaller population, and there was, therefore, reason to suppose that the percentage of emigration to population remained almost unaltered. It was certainly impossible to look with unmixed regret on a movement which must be supposed to afford some advantage to the people who immediately engaged in it. But it was a serious evil that it was the sick, the pauper, and the aged that were left at home, while the men who emigrated belonged to that class—heads of families, strong and stalwart men—which he should like to see remain in the country, It was this circumstance, more than the amount of the emigration, that had occasioned alarm. Some said that the cause of the emigration was the inability of the people to live on the land where they were located. That was undoubtedly one of the sources of the distress existing in the west, and also, he believed, in the south of Ireland. The population there were essentially agricultural, and though during the season 759 of agricultural operations they were able to earn a sufficient amount of wages, yet in the winter they were unable to get wages enough to provide themselves with the means of living. The consequence was, that during winter the people of the agricultural districts crowded into the different towns of the neighbourhood in search of food or relief, the towns became over crowded, and the work which was sought for could not be obtained. In the town (Galway) he had the honour to represent, there were hundreds of honest men who were anxious to obtain any kind of employment, by which they could earn a fair day's wages to take home for the support of their families, but who were unable to obtain it. It was while these people were positively starving, that the country was pained by reading in the newspapers that in the Speech from the Throne, a feeling of congratulation was expressed on the prosperity of Ireland. The result of the want of capital and the means of employment, was forced idleness, and that produced—not disloyalty—distrust and dissatisfaction. Why did that dissatisfaction and distrust exist? He believed it was because during the whole seven years that the present Government had been in office, they had never consulted the feeling of the country on any subject, or undertaken any work of importance for its advantage. It was easy to say that the Irish people were always grumbling and always making requests; but why was that so? Because their grumbling and their requests were never attended to. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken great pains to guard himself against being supposed to hold out any hopes of assistance to Ireland, and had spoken of certain exemptions which she enjoyed in respect to taxation. With regard to the income tax, the right hon. Gentleman argued that Ireland had some advantage in the mode of valuation. Yet whether the valuation was high or low, the landlord had to pay his income tax on a pound before he received it. But he maintained that the imposition of the income tax at all on Ireland, was unfair towards that country. When the late Sir Robert Peel imposed that tax on England in 1842, he did not extend it to Ireland, but he subjected her to two other additional burdens which he regarded as an equivalent for that exemption. He laid on a duty of 1s. per gallon on spirits manufactured in Ireland, and he also 760 raised her stamp duties, a tax which, he said, was to some extent a tax on property, to the same level as the English stamp duties. Well, how did matters stand with Ireland in 1865, when it certainly could not be said that her condition had greatly improved? Why, when Sir Robert Peel placed the extra shilling on Irish spirits, the tax was augmented to only 3s. 8d. per gallon, and since then the Irish spirit duty had been more than doubled. The increased stamp duty also remained; and in addition to that they had been burdened with the income tax itself, which they were forced to pay before they got their income. That was the state of things, forsooth, under which they had the grim satisfaction of being congratulated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on their immunity from taxation. When he blamed the Government for their conduct towards Ireland, he did not include the Chief Secretary (Sir Robert Peel) in his censure, because although they found fault and took liberties with that right hon. Gentleman, they were all willing to own that he was actuated by a desire to do his duty, to help the country and push forward its material prosperity; but, unhappily, the right hon. Gentleman was only one among many, and the Treasury, which was the real controller of every public outlay, was always unwilling to afford any assistance to Ireland. He said that the tendency of their financial policy had been to destroy rather than to stimulate the industry of Ireland; and, no matter what might be the cause, it was painful to see such large numbers of able bodied men leaving the country. It was said that it was easy to get up a cry of distress, without attempting to devise a remedy. No doubt it was hard to devise a remedy, but it was surely incumbent upon those who governed the country rather than upon a private Member to attempt to do so. He did not wish to adopt the whine of a mendicant, but he might say that there was an idea prevalent in the country that great good might be done if a stimulus were given to public works. A great deal of good might, he thought, be done, if facilities were afforded in Ireland for the carrying out of useful public works, such, for instance, as that for the improvement of the Shannon, and that for a system of arterial drainage on the western part of the island, and that for improving the harbour of the town (Galway) which he had the honour to represent. The encouragement of such 761 schemes as those would, although they might not affect the whole of the country, yet afford evidence, at all events on the part of the Government, of a desire to meet its wants and requirements. It was not wise, he maintained, by refusing to take some such course, to alienate the people of Ireland from the Liberal party. It should rather be the endeavour of the Government to conciliate their good will, which might easily be secured by a policy of kindness and conciliation, for they were a warm hearted and generous race. In other countries money was freely expended in the development of the national resources, and he did not see why, in the case of Ireland, so good an example should not be imitated. He put it to his hon. Friend whether the better course would not be to rest satisfied with the result attained by the Motion as it stood, than to press it to a division; and in that event, he trusted the attention of the Government having been called so forcibly to the subject, they might see their way to adopt some measures tending to diminish the destitution and misery unhappily so prevalent in Ireland.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
Sir, I have no intention of entering into the various questions into which this debate has wandered. The House, I am sure, heard with pleasure the careful, calm, able, and interesting statement of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County, who proposed this Amendment, and I own it appeared to me that the topics which he brought forward were well worthy the consideration, and, if necessary, the further inquiry of the House. But, at the same time, if I were called on by recording a vote to pledge myself to the proposition which appears on the paper I should have difficulty in affirming, at all events, the first part of it, knowing how very different interpretations the early words of his Amendment must be susceptible of. The hon. and learned Gentleman asks the House to affirm that it observes with regret the decline of the population of Ireland. Now, as an abstract proposition I entirely concur in that statement, and I am sure we must all regret very much that circumstances should have existed leading to a decline of the population. We all must regret that it has occurred. Of course, wherever there is much emigration from any country the youngest and strongest and most energetic go, and those who are not so young or so energetic 762 remain behind. But if I am asked to say, taking Ireland as it is, and taking into account all the circumstances of Ireland, that I regret there are not 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 more inhabitants in the country than there are, I must own that I do not regret it. However we may lament the state of Ireland, I believe that we should have to lament it very much more if the population, instead of being something over 5,000,000, were between 8,000,000 and 9,000,000. But I rise not so much to observe on these points as upon some comments made by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) who sits below the gangway. There is a very excellent and wholesome Rule of this House which has been often enforced by you, Sir, from that seat—that it is not convenient or regular that in any debate reference should be made to what has passed in another debate. We had a debate a very few nights ago, not on the general condition of Ireland, but on certain isolated and separate matters of administration connected with the law in Ireland, with reference to which certain distinct and specific charges were made against the Government, which received from the Government such answer as they had to give. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield either was or was not in his place on that occasion. If he was, and thought these charges ill-founded, I venture to think the Government would have received with open arms any assistance from him or any other English Member who ventured to rise in his place and say, while there was a capability of answering him as to the facts, what he has said tonight. If he had risen then I should not have had an opportunity of replying to him; but my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, to whom he has referred so plentifully to-night, would have had an opportunity of answering. And had the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Sheffield repudiated as nonsense the statements put forward in debate, treating these as mere disputes about some idle boys—had he then said, "You do not mean to allege that there is any charge against the Government with respect to the administration of the law, any partiality in its administration, or anything more than what kind words addressed first to one side and then to the other would prevent," the hon. and learned Member would have discovered—what he is too old a tactician to expose himself to 763 —that there was behind a crushing and conclusive reply to all such observations. That was a discussion, not seeking any new legislation, not desiring the aid of the House to further the whine of a mendicant, it was a debate in which specific charges—whether those charges were right or wrong I am not going to argue now—specific charges of partiality in the administration of the law were brought against the Government. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield either does not apprehend the nature of that debate, or his singular reference to it to night can only be explained by assuming that he had not the courage to say on a former occasion what he knew could then be answered and disproved. But the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield has appeared to-night in a new character. He comes forward to explain what were really the evils of Ireland, and how they ought to be cured. And it seems it is not through the Shannon, the Galway contract, the land question, nor any of the other matters which have been alluded to in this debate, that any amelioration or satisfactory settlement is to be looked for; what Ireland wants is a few kind words, a little good feeling and harmony, and gentleness of expression between the various classes of which the country is composed. The hon. and learned Gentleman is, we know, an adept at pouring oil on the troubled waters; but he has never probably shone with such triumphant splendour and lustre as on the present occasion. Because observe what he does; he divides Ireland into three classes. The first class he called the Fenians, and suggested that they were represented in this House very largely; for, though he did not mention any names, he pointed in various directions, indicating that an incredible number of Members were returned by the influence of that body. And what would be do with these Fenians? Say a few kind words to them? He would exterminate them with the sword. Nothing short of that; he would hold no parley, no conversation with them. Then as to the other two classes—with them he would hold conversation. I am sure they are very much flattered by the condescension of the hon. and learned Gentleman; but let us find a specimen of the honied words he thinks they should address to one another. He takes the most numerous class, the Roman Catholic population of Ireland; and what does he tell them? He speaks of them and of their spiritual advisers in 764 the same breath, and he says they are "blind leaders of the blind," adding that he shall not be much surprised, and hinting that nobody need very much regret, if they both fall into a deep hole and are lost sight of together. He speaks next of the Protestants, and, reverting to the commencement of the present century, says those were times of oppression, of rapine, and plunder, all of which he ascribes to the desire for Protestant ascendancy, and he quietly and good-naturedly suggests of the Protestant population that their heartfelt desire is not to live in harmony with their fellow subjects, or in the enjoyment of the equal protection of the law, but to revive those very times which he calls times of rapine, of plunder, and oppression. Those are the honied words in which he addresses the Protestants of Ireland; and illustrates and inforces his doctrine that all which Ireland needs is a little kind speaking on the part of the different classes towards each other. The hon. and learned Gentleman also gives some advice to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Robert Peel). He says he went over to Ireland with a sincere desire to do good to the country—to which. I say that I believe every word of that statement; he says the right hon. Gentleman has shown great courtesy in his administration of the duties of his office, and, from my own experience, I most gladly bear testimony to the accuracy of that assertion. But then, he says, he has one fault, he is too much like the people he governs, he is too impulsive, too much in the habit of saying kind things first to one side and then to the other. The hon. and learned Gentleman not only gives the Chief Secretary advice—he sets him an example. And if the right hon. Gentleman chooses to follow that example, and to use the tone and language which are held out as the model according to which he should demean himself, I only hope that some of us, who have occasionally expressed surprise at the doings and sayings of the right hon. Gentleman, will be present on the occasion that he puts in practice the lessons of conciliation acquired from the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield. The hon. and learned Gentleman in his observations to-night has done me the honour to refer to me as the representative of the Protestant population of Ireland. I venture to think that in this House, and especially near that part of it where the right hon. Gentleman him- 765 self sits, he will find a score, or more than a score, of Members who hare as much right as myself to represent, and who do equally represent, the Protestant population of Ireland. But I disavow altogether the claim which the hon. and learned Gentleman has set up on my behalf. I deny that I represent, exclusively the Protestant population of Ireland. I represent a town comprising Protestants and Roman Catholics; and that town has done me the honour to send me to this House; and I stand here as much to represent the Roman Catholic as I do the Protestant population of that town. The hon. and learned Member says the Irish Members are in the habit of coming to this House with mendicant whine asking for public money. I repudiate the assertion. And I can tell the hon. and learned Gentleman something more. Speaking not merely with reference to the present year, when the north of Ireland, and more particularly the part with which I am connected, is happily enjoying unusual prosperity, partly arising from the state of manufactures, and partly also from the favourable harvest of last year, but speaking also of very different times, when manufactures were not thriving and harvests were not good, I deny that at any moment the north of Ireland, the portion of the country with which I am best acquainted, came to this House with mendicant whine, or with any whine at all, or ever asked for a shilling of public money, or for assistance of any kind. And rejoicing as I do at the prosperity of the north of Ireland, I rejoice the more because I know it to be owing to the unaided exertions and energy of the people, and not to any aid or assistance of the Government. But the hon. and learned Gentleman tells mo that all that is wanting in the north of Ireland is that I should tell the people of the north, that the days of Protestant ascendancy are passed, and that there is for the future to be equality of law and impartiality of Government for all classes of the community. I have not the experience of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I have some experience of Ireland; and I will say that in my remembrance I never heard of a public man in the north of Ireland on any occasion, public or private, who ever hinted that he desired to see any system prevail in Ireland except one which would secure a true, impartial, and just administration of the law for all parties. I go farther, and say that I never yet heard any public 766 man in the north of Ireland who did not exhort all classes to live peaceably together as friends and fellow-labourers in the great work of regenerating and improving their country. I go further still, and I tell the hon. and learned Gentleman there is not a constituency in the north of Ireland who would tolerate language of a different description coming from any person who sought to address them. I am happy, Sir, to think that, as regards myself and my conduct here, my character is in the hands of the House, and the House will say whether I have ever asked for anything but a just and impartial administration of the law. Sir, as to the mode of addressing my constituents, I will neither ask the advice of the hon. and learned Gentleman. nor follow his example. But when he says I ever in this House, as an Irish Member, asked as a whining mendicant for public money, or that I ever out of this House have addressed my constituents in language implying that I, or they, desire anything but impartial justice, the suggestion is not more reckless than it is without foundation.
§ MR. LOWE
I hope the House will allow me to recall its attention for a few moments to the more immediate debate of to-night, although the subject may be less exciting—and certainly, as far as I am concerned, in very inferior hands. The question is one which has hitherto been unsolved, and is, perhaps, insoluble; but, in obedience to the orders of the House, I spent last year a great part of my time in investigating the grievances and complaints of Ireland, and my reflection on the matter has led me to certain conclusions which I ask permission to lay briefly before the House. I quite agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down in what he has said with regard to the first proposition before us to-night, which calls on us to lament the decrease of the population of Ireland. In the abstract, no spectacle can be presented to the human mind more melancholy or lamentable than a nation declining in population; and if anything can increase the melancholy of such a prospect, it is that the decline of population is not slow or gradual, but effected by a great displacement of the people, a great transfer of human beings from one part of the world to another, which cannot take place without great and grievous physical suffering, and laceration of the best feelings of humanity. But the hon. and learned Mem- 767 ber for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) does not lay before us an abstract proposition. His proposition is with respect to a particular state of things. It is with respect to the existing state of the Irish population that he calls on this House to lament its decline—that is, the emigration which is undoubtedly thinning its numbers. That is not to be taken in the abstract, but together with the circumstances surrounding it. Now, what are the present circumstances of Ireland? I gather them from Irish Members who have taken part in the debate. They have stated, and I for one give implicit credit to the statement, as coming from Gentlemen entirely to be relied on, and well knowing about what they speak, that there does prevail in many parts of Ireland very great distress, poverty, misery, great discontent, and I fear, some disaffection. That is the condition of things in Ireland; and I ask, if that statement is true, if there be among the population of Ireland so much misery, poverty, destitution, and discouragement, ought the House to lament that under Providence, the scientific discoveries of the age, increasing intelligence from schools and other similar causes, have opened to them and led them to the means of escape from a destiny so forlorn? Ought we to lament that they are able to find a place in another country where they may attain that employment, that comfort, that hope for the future, which they are unable to find at home? I can only regard this emigration, unpopular as the sentiment may be, as a double good—a good to those who go and to those who remain—to those who go because they are lifted out of abject misery and dependence into, I hope, a condition of comparative comfort, and to those who remain because the diminution of competition must necessarily leave the wages funded to be divided among a smaller number, and so far ameliorate their condition. I admit the drawbacks that exist, the great misery, and laceration of feeling that must occur. They are the best—not the poorest—who go, and they carry their capital with them; but, still, looking to the matter as a national movement conducted on a great scale, I cannot bring myself to admit that it is not a good to those who go and a relief of misery to those that remain. Therefore, I find myself unable to agree to the first proposition of the hon. Gentleman. The noble Lord who spoke a little while ago referred to the causes 768 of this emigration, and said that he did not care what those causes were. I do care, and I think it well worth while for the House calmly and dispassionately to consider what are the causes which have led to this unparalleled phenomenon; how, in a country divided only by a narrow strait from this great and opulent country, we should see our fellow-subjects, for whom we would do all in our power, reduced to such a state of misery as to quit their homes and seek new ones with a distant and not very friendly Power. The question is one which must not be discussed in heat or anger, but calmly and dispassionately, and if so considered I think it is possible to arrive at a right conclusion. The solution of the matter most frequently put forth before the Committee of last year was this—the cause of the miseries of Ireland is to be traced to her over-taxation; she is ground down by an enormous taxation, and utterly unable to stand up under it. The principal argument stated before the Committee was that the taxation of Ireland was similar to the taxation of England; that Ireland was poor and England rich, and therefore that Ireland could not bear the same taxation as England could bear. That argument would be very good if taxation were adjusted on a cast-iron principle, if every square mile of ground in Ireland and every head of the population were charged with the same amount as in England. But I always thought that our taxation was regulated on a very different principle—that allowing for the roughness incidental to such a process, every man in Ireland, like every man in England, was taxed according to his ability. He either pays a certain percentage on his income according to his poverty, or according to his abundance; or, in the taxes on commodities, it entirely depends upon his expenditure what he pays, and thus taxation was adjusted to the circumstances of individuals. It appears to me also that when we speak of a poor country we use a fallacy. It is not England or Ireland the mere geographical division that pays, but Irishmen and Englishmen. The proposition comes to this, that a rich man living in a poor country ought to be more lightly taxed than a man of equal riches who happens to live in a rich country; and no proposition can be more absurd than that, especially as the probability is that the man who lives in a poor country, will find his money go further than the 769 other. If we look at the incidence of our taxation, now so admirably adjusted, it is impossible to say that it has prevented that rapid increase of capital, the want of which is one great evil of Ireland. Take the case of the manufacturer. There is no tax on raw material—he is merely taxed on his profits returned by himself. Take the case of the peasant. The material of which his cabin is built, the clothes he wears, and his food are all free from taxation. The only form in which the taxgatherer approaches him is in respect of the whisky, tobacco, tea, and sugar, which he consumes; and he consumes very little of the two latter. Of course Ireland would be richer if she did not pay these taxes; but it appears impossible to say that it is the incidence of taxation that has ground down the people of Ireland. I asked the witnesses, very intelligent gentlemen, who came before the Committee, what they would propose in the way of remisson. They proposed the reduction or abolition of the income tax. "What," I said, "in order to stimulate trade, or relieve the suffering poor of Ireland?" "Yes;" they said. "And if that was not done, what next?" I asked. "Lower the duty on whisky," they said, in order that what they called a necessary of life may be had cheaper than at present. This is a sample of the sort of arguments addressed to us, and I must say that those Gentlemen who have submitted Reports have done well in not insisting much on this part of the evidence. Then it is said that absenteeism has brought Ireland to her present state. But absenteeism is not an evil peculiar to Ireland. Many counties in England, Wales, and Scotland, have absentee proprietors. The colonies, also, have suffered from the same cause. There is hardly an Australian colonist who comes to this country who does not leave landed property behind him; and yet they all continue to prosper in spite of absenteeism. Without denying that absenteeism is an evil, it is obviously quite inadequate to account for the present state of misery and destitution in Ireland. Then I go further, and take the tenure of land. It is said that if tenants could only get compulsory power of recovering for improvements made by them, that would relieve the distress. But it is said, also, in the same breath, that there is a great want of capital in the country, especially among farmers. How are improvements to be made by persons 770 deficient somewhat in skill, and very much indeed in capital? Then there is against that also the argument that there is nothing more fatal to the progress of agriculture and civilization generally than a compulsory partnership between two persons on the same land, such as we have here experience of in copyholds and tenures of that kind. It appears to me to be quite impossible to attribute the distress to the want of a law of fixity of tenure, or compensation for improvements, which is entirely unknown in England. Then the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) said that one thing was peculiar to Ireland, and that was the English Government. In answer to that, I would refer to what the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) so eloquently said, that wherever an Irishman went, however much he might better his physical condition, he would not exchange his government for a better. The last suggestion was that of the hon. Member for Sheffield himself. He blames the unhappy discords and divisions in Ireland, but it is impossible to maintain that it is the discords and divisions in that country which make the increase of capital so small that it is barely able to maintain its population. We have seen other countries torn by the most dreadful contests—the Republics of South America, for instance; the United States; or even our own country, in former days; and yet during all these periods, in all these countries, and I might enumerate many others, while there was discord, even to the shedding of blood, capital went on accumulating, civilization went on developing—not so quickly as if these things had not existed, but still with a certain progress and without the onward current being arrested. And Ireland has this advantage, that we are there to act as peacemakers, to prevent any serious breaches of the peace. In my own experience, however, I may say these riotings are not peculiar to Ireland. Even the Irishmen who emigrate to Australia keep up the practice. I recollect they used to send challenges to each other to meet, not singly, but in large numbers, and fight it out with deadly weapons, and we were obliged to introduce the Party Processions and Party Emblems Act on the other side of the world. Yet I am bound to say that though that was so the Irish in Australia were eminently prosperous. Whatever might be the disabilities which 771 attached to them in their own land, when they got to the Antipodes they throve as well as any other race. Having noticed these different points, I wish to state what I think, after much reflection, is not the solitary but the principal cause of the evils of Ireland—and it can be stated without offence to any man or party. We have, I believe, undervalued altogether the climatic influences in Ireland. We speak of it as if it had the same climate as England, only a little modified by geographical situation. I believe the true analogy to the climate of Ireland is to be sought rather in the long belt of islands which stretch along the coast of Scotland up to the northern point of Lewis, and which form a breakwater, as it were, between the Atlantic and Great Britain. In these islands there was once—in Skye there is still—a large population struggling to subsist on agriculture, subject to periodical famine, and reduced to misery. And this was without any fault of their own, for they had excellent land to till, and every assistance; but they were unable, on account of the extraordinary humidity of the air, as well as the heavy falls of rain, to raise their crops. The influence of climate is not so bad in Ireland because it lies further to the south; but, from what I have myself observed, and have been told, something very similar is the case in that country. Ireland, though from the moistness of the climate fit principally for pasturing cattle, unfortunately relies upon agriculture, and upon agriculture in the form in which it is most dangerous in respect of such a calamity as the failure of the crops—agriculture carried on by small cultivators growing grain and, worse still, potato crops on small patches of ground. Add to the disadvantages of climate and division of the soil the acts of the British Government. We chose to impose artifical impediments in the way of the importation of foreign corn, and raised up and fostered in Ireland the factitious industry of growing cereals for which the climate is not adapted. An immense population was thus brought up dependent on an industry which the caprice of the climate must render eminently uncertain and fluctuating. Moreover, the people grew up subject to a contingency which would aggravate the failure of crops owing to the badness of a season. This contingency was that the English people should come to their senses at last, accept the doctrines 772 which science and common sense combined to demonstrate—the doctrine of free trade, and remove all impediments in the way of importing foreign produce. Unfortunately, both these things fell on Ireland at once. There was a failure of the crops at the same time that the Corn Laws were repealed, and, however justifiable that measure, it was a heavy blow to be dealt to a country in the condition of Ireland, and it has proved much heavier than any one was aware of at the time. But it is not right to say that the evil was caused by free trade. It was caused by protection, which fostered a vicious and factitious system, and provoked an inevitable reaction. We all know the misery that ensued. A little gleam of light came out after a time, and Ireland recovered in some degree from her distress, but I fear the warning was not sufficient, and that there is still a disposition to cling to the previous style of agriculture—the cultivation of cereals and potatoes. We have had similar experience in England. In some parts of this country people are not fully alive to the propriety of discontinuing the kind of cultivation which the Corn Laws had fostered and taking to that for Which the climate is better fitted—the raising of stock. But the bad seasons which have occurred since 1859, and the experience that followed, have led Irish proprietors very much to the conviction that it is vain to go on treating Ireland as a purely agricultural country. They feel that if they wish, to derive any real profit from their estates they must convert them more or less, according to circumstances—and, of course, some parts of the country must be treated differently from others—into pasture grounds. That is the change, as has been already remarked in this debate, which is taking place in Ireland. It is passing from the condition of a corn-growing into the condition of a pastural country. The change, no doubt, is a melancholy one, because it involves the displacement of an immense quantity of labour; but if it be true, as I believe it is, that the country is unable to bear, under the conditions of its climate, the population which has been raised up by bad laws and misdirected industry, then the change is inevitable, and one for which no Government, no party, no individual, or aggregate of individuals, can be held in any way answerable. This being the state of Ireland, the people are subject to the influence of economical laws which, though 773 they act on the will of men, are as certain to assert themselves as the laws of nature. If numbers of these small farmers and other agricultural labourers are displaced they must find other employment. Ireland offers them no other choice. In England there is a perpetual emigration from the agricultural districts to the large towns, and statistical inquiries show that otherwise the population of the large towns would die out. But Ireland has not this resource. Ireland has no manufactures in which the displaced agriculturist can seek refuge, and, therefore, when a man is driven from the cultivation of the soil he has no alternative but to starve or to seek a home elsewhere. I can imagine no condition more irritating, depressing, and discouraging than that. It is deserving of our utmost sympathy and compassion, and, if it be in our power, of alleviation; but, unhappily, that is beyond our power. We can only deplore that there has been so fatal a miscalculation of the capacities of Ireland, and that the industry of the country has been fostered on an unsound and deceitful basis. When protection ceased, Ireland found herself unable to keep on growing cereals in competition with countries more favourably situated, and that cannot be helped. But are there not causes which aggravate the present painful state of things? I do not believe the taxation of Ireland to be one of the grievances of the country; but there is a kind of voluntary taxation which must be particularly irritating to the people of Ireland—the taxation which the people out of their misery and destitution are obliged to impose on themselves for the maintenance of the ministers of their religion. I cannot conceive anything more vexatious to a nation than to find themselves, by the working of economical laws which they probably do not understand, and for which they not unnaturally blame the Government, exposed to great misery, called upon to contribute to the maintenance of their clergy, while at the same time they see other clergymen, who however exemplary in life and character, are not of their faith, and have small or no congregations, living in comparative ease and luxury on public funds. Another unnecessary evil, in my opinion, is the way in which we govern Ireland. Quite contrary to the sound practice in England, we identify the head of the executive Government in Ireland with the political party which is for the time in power. The con- 774 sequence is that any political party, whatever it may be, not in office finds itself in opposition not merely to its antagonists, but to the person who represents Her Majesty in Ireland. Thus the people are taught by this vice of the Constitution, which we persist in sanctioning, to identify the executive Government with the odium which attaches more or less to each political party, and to direct their energies not so much to replace the statesmen in whom they have no confidence by others in whom they do place confidence, but to the injury and damage of the executive Government itself. That is another cardinal vice of the system. These are evils which even if checked would not put an end to the distress of Ireland, but they are a grave aggravation to a lot which, from its misery and bitterness, needs no aggravation whatever. I have now explained my humble views as to the causes of the present misery of Ireland. I approach the more difficult part of the subject—the suggestion of a remedy. Some of the mischief cannot be remedied at all, some can be cured only by Ireland herself, and some little good can be done by this House. It is competent for the House to take into consideration, if it choose, the question of the Irish Church. Of course it is competent for the House, if it think fit, to adopt the colonial plan of apportioning the revenue, set aside for public worship to each denomination in the proportion of its numbers to the aggregate of the population. It is competent also for the House to remove the evil of exposing the head of the Government in Ireland and the representative of the Queen to the odium and abuse which is directed against any political party by its opponents. The House can do these things if it please, and I hope some time or other it will do them. But more than that, in my humble opinion, it is impossible for it to do. It is impossible, in justice to the whole of the Empire, that we should enter on the track suggested by the noble Lord the Member for Galway (Lord Dunkellin). It seems to me quite out of the question that we can give subsidies to the people of Ireland under the name of public works. Indeed, the very case he mentioned—that of the Shannon—illustrates this. The effect of these improvements, paid for out of the public money, is obviously to improve the value of private estates. Rashly to undertake great public works upon Government responsibility would be unworthy of this House. We are asked to take the public 775 money of the United Kingdom and expend it in Ireland, bidding against the labour market of America, in order to retain the people of Ireland by employing them on public works. Was there ever a plan so hopeless as that? In the first place, you cannot compete with the labour market in America. What you would do would be to derange the whole system of private employment of labour and throw things into confusion. As to stopping the exodus from Ireland by such means, the thing is simply impossible. If I am right, and the present state of things is due to the change from an agricultural to a pastoral country, then the result must necessarily be that time and constant emigration can alone relieve Ireland. You cannot go on spending money on public works in Ireland. The expenditure must be very large if it is to produce the slightest effect, and then it cannot be continuous. The result of that foolish contest with the labour market in America would be that we should have to give it up, and that the people would go; and in the meantime we should have wasted much money and retarded the only means of relieving the distress of the country—namely, by sending away the surplus population to a country where they would be able to live and be happy, instead of staying at home and starving. There is one other topic, and only one, to which I wish to allude. No doubt the miseries of the present state of things in Ireland would have been considerably lightened if Ireland had had those manufactures and those great works of different kinds which exist in England, and which form so convenient a refuge in times of agricultural distress. But to have these Ireland must have capital. That capital she has not in sufficient abundance at the present time, but it abounds in England beyond all measure. In Australia we were deluged with English capital. It became a nuisance. The superfluity of English capital fostered a spirit of foolish and disgraceful speculation. Half-a-dozen banks were set up, which, owing to the keenness of competition, lent money to disreputable persons, who were only too willing to take the money thus forced upon them, and who failed and paid little or nothing. Yet here is Ireland, only divided from us by an arm of the sea, hungering and thirsting for want of money, and capital will not go there. Well, Sir, hon. Gentlemen may be very eloquent, but capital cannot be 776 cajoled. They may menace, but capital cannot be coerced. She is a very coy, discreet, and retiring nymph. She flings herself into the arms of the industrious citizen, but she shuns the embrace of the fiery and brilliant agitator. In this case Ireland must minister unto herself. It is the fault of the Irish nation that those who have the disposal of English capital do not feel secure in investing it in Ireland. It is for those who can influence Irish opinion to remedy this state of things. When this is done one great means of amelioration will be open to her. I thank the House sincerely for the attention with which it has listened to me. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this subject. Time may have been when Irish subjects were treated with indifference; but to me this is the question of questions for this Empire. Our foreign policy, owing to late events, has somewhat receded into the background. As to our domestic policy, we are so happily situated in this country that we can hardly get up a point of first-rate importance upon which we have any serious difference. But as to Ireland it is different. She is bound to us by an indissoluble tie. She is not like the colonies, in whose welfare and advancement we may feel pride, satisfaction, and interest, but whom, after all, we merely regard as young nations whom we are training to take their own course in the world, and to separate from the parent connection, rather than as integral and perpetual parts of the Empire. It is not so with Ireland. For good or evil, for better or for worse, she is bound to us by a tie which we would perish rather than allow any one to break. That being so, how unspeakably important will it be if any thing can be devised by our efforts of conciliation to place her in a position something like that occupied by Scotland! The increase of the force of the Empire, our dignity abroad, our self-respect at home, and our influence in all quarters of the globe—no one can tell the augmentation they would receive from such a happy change. She is the only single drop of bitterness in the cup of our otherwise over-flowing prosperity. It is for us to see whether there are no means possible by which we can alleviate the state of Ireland—not by attempting to arrest the present exodus—but by avoiding in this House all topics calculated to irritate and excite the feelings, by expressing our sincere wishes for her welfare, and by trying to heal the wounds of centuries of misgovernment.
§ MR. O'REILLY
said, he had heard with surprise one reputed so great an economic authority as the right hon. Member for Calne enunciating the most common-place and palpable fallacies on the subject of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said he sat upon the Committee of last year upon the taxation of Ireland, and he had argued that one country could not be more heavily taxed than the other, seeing that the taxes paid by the two countries were identical. The right hon. Gentleman, however, forgot that the far greater part of the taxation of these countries being indirect, it necessarily pressed more heavily upon the poorer country. The right hon. Gentleman also said that there was no tax whatever upon the raw material of manufactures in Ireland, but he forgot that the raw material was taxed upon one of the principal among her few manufactures—paper—not by the legislation of this but of other countries. The right hon. Gentleman added that the Irish tenants had no capital to invest; but "labour," as the right hon. Gentleman would find in any hand book of political economy, was one of the principal elements of capital, and they were ready to invest in abundance their capital, which was their labour, in the improvement of the soil. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out how the Corn Laws had factitiously fostered the cultivation of cereal crops, and he jumped to a fallacy in regard to agriculture. He seemed to think there was no medium between the cultivation of cereal crops and turning the whole country into pasture land. But the whole course of agriculture was tending, not to the cultivation of cereal crops exclusively or the turning of land into pasture, but to the cultivation of roots and grain suitable for the raising of cattle and stock. To preach to the whole people of Ireland that the necessary destiny of their country was that it should be turned into pasture was reversing the whole science of agriculture. Cereal crops alone would not pay. There was where the mistake of the Irish people lay; but it would be quite as great a mistake to adopt pasture exclusively. The right hon. Gentleman said that there was one species of taxation which pressed heavily upon Ireland—the voluntary taxation of the people for the support of the Catholic clergy, and he contrasted it with the enforced taxation for the Church of the minority. The serious mischief, however, 778 was not in the voluntary, but in the involuntary taxation—the one was borne cheerfully, the other was a monstrous grievance. But the remedy was not to be found in pensioning the Catholic clergy; neither themselves nor their flocks desired it. What they wished was a fair field and no favour, to take away the Establishment, and to leave every one to support his own clergy. If, as they were told, nine-tenths of the wealth of the whole country was in the hands of the Protestants, the less reason had they to shrink from the support of their Church, when the great majority of the people out of their poverty freely supported their own pastors. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) held up one topic to admiration, if not imitation, and clothed it in the roseate hues of his own brilliant imagination, and that was the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, who was his model man. But he (Mr. O'Reilly) could not help thinking, when the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke of the "kind heart and generous hand" which the right hon. Baronet brought to Ireland, that one of the first of his acts—an act which had excited so much obloquy that the right hon. Gentleman would live long should be survive it—was his persevering, and, unhappily, but too successful effort to persuade the people of England that there was no distress in the sister island, when there was in reality grievous misery. The right hon. Baronet was, unfortunately, but too successful in arresting the tide of charity which would otherwise have flown from England for the relief of Irish distress. The hon. and learned Member then turned to his store of dark colours, and none were too black when he wanted to paint the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland. He told the House that one had but to scratch the priest to find the peasant. If by that the hon. Gentleman meant that the priests were of the people, and sympathized with them in their joys and sorrows, he (Mr. O'Reilly) would have readily accepted the statement. But the hon. Gentleman described them as peasants in ignorant bigotry, in rancour, and ill-will; and from that character he (Mr. O'Reilly) confidently appealed to history for their vindication. It was written in history that when oppression produced insurrection in 1798, the Roman Catholic hierarchy and clergy were mainly instrumental in checking the movement 779 and limiting its extent; and in 1848, when the spirit of insurrection again rose, it was well known that every bishop in Ireland, and almost every priest, resolutely opposed it, and if blood was then shed but by drops it was due to the active exertions of the Catholic clergy. He challenged the hon. Member to produce anything from the public writings or speeches of the Catholic bishops or clergy for the last twenty years, with which he (Mr. O'Reilly) was well acquainted, which would show that they were either disloyal themselves or encouraged disloyalty or revolution in others. There was not a single exception among the bishops, there were hardly three exceptions among the priests, and of these it had been remarked that one who had made himself remarkable for his sympathy with such movements had ceased to exercise his ministry in Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield might recollect when he undertook to preach his new gospel of peace that the best way to propagate his message among six millions of Roman Catholics was surely not the indiscriminate abuse and detraction of their clergy. He felt confident that this was not the sentiment of Englishmen generally. He had no wish to attribute to England any desire during the period that had transpired since the Emancipation Act to do otherwise than to place Ireland on a footing of equality with England. Such a position the Irish nation would accept, but not an inferior one; and they did not consider that they were placed in that equal position when they found in their midst the church of an infinitesimal minority in point of numbers supported by Parliament against the wishes of the whole community.
THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he had listened to the debate with the greatest possible interest, and if he ventured to present himself to the House, it was not only because of the importance of the subject to all parts of the kingdom, but because there had always been in Scotland a very kindly and warm feeling of interest towards Ireland. There was a great deal in common between the two countries, and Scotland was by no means so deeply responsible for the misgovernment of Ireland as the sister kingdom, because many of the evils of Ireland were at an end before Scotland was united to England. There were many circumstances, too, in the position of Scotland, analogous to those of Ireland. Scotland had a climate almost exactly similar, and she had a large Celtic 780 population, which in descent, in language, in manners, and in general tendencies, were very similar to their brethren in Ireland. For all these reasons, it had occurred to him at this stage of the debate to throw out a few suggestions. There was one thing which struck him very forcibly in this debate, and that was the unanimity, or almost unanimity, with which the Irish Members had described the existing state of Ireland; and unquestionably no one could listen to that description unmoved. He would not enter into the question whether the opinion of his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary as to the returning prosperity of Ireland was well founded in statistics or not. The two things were perfectly consistent. There might be a return of general prosperity, accompanied with a great deal of local distress. He did not intend, however, to enter upon that subject at all. His object was, assuming the distress, to see where a remedy was to be found, and how far it might he in the direction which had been pointed out. The second thing which struck him in the debate was the utter inadequacy of the causes to which the distress was attributed, and of the remedies which were suggested to meet that distress. In the first place, it was said that Ireland was in distress because capital which ought to be applied to agriculture was withdrawn by unreasonable taxation, and, in the next place, that the Government did not do its duty by undertaking large works in Ireland, and paying well for them. It occurred to him to ask how Scotland stood in these respects. He was not there to make any complaint on the part of that country—the Scotch did not want Government money, nor did they complain of the taxation. But how did Scotland, a smaller country than Ireland, with a population of 3,000,000 against 5,000,000, with a soil inferior to that of Ireland, and which had had to struggle by itself for many years, and had not struggled without success, stand with respect to taxation and the expenditure of public money in the country? The taxation of Scotland yielded in round numbers about £5,250,000, the taxation of Ireland £4,007,000. The result of which was—if that was a correct way of stating the matter—that a much greater amount of capital in proportion to the population was withdrawn from Scotland than from Ireland. The land valuation of Scotland amounted to about £14,000,000; the 781 land valuation of Ireland was£12,000,000; from which it followed that land in Scotland was more valuable than land in Ireland. But how had it become so? Simply by dint of the labour of the people, for Ireland had originally a more fertile soil. And what was the proportion of taxation returned to Scotland out of the £5,250,000 she paid, compared with Ireland? Taking the sums from the Civil Service Estimates, which afforded only an approximation, but a pretty accurate approximation, Scotland received back about £400,000, and Ireland more than £1,600,000 a year. He did not complain even that Ireland received a part of the produce of the Scottish taxation, and he was sure he was doing no injustice to the general feeling of the people of Scotland when he said that if the ills and evils and miseries of that country could be cured by the application of public money few of his countrymen would grudge it to her; but he had quoted these figures to show that the cause of the evils of Ireland could not be that so much capital was subtracted from the country by taxation, because so much more was drawn from what was naturally a poorer country, and at the same time Ireland received from the national treasury four times as much as Scotland did. There must be some other reason for the distress which was complained of. It had been suggested that public works should be undertaken by the Government. He was not aware that Scotland had derived much benefit from works of that kind. The reference to the Caledonian Canal had been disposed of by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. No one could pretend that the prosperity of Scotland was due to the Caledonian Canal; and, although the Highland roads were useful to the parts of the country through which they passed, it would be idle to refer to them as having contributed to the general good of Scotland. Scotland had flourished from no reason but this—that she had trusted to her own resources. He admitted that she had had a happier history than Ireland; that she had not had to struggle against the injustice and oppression which had been practised on the sister kingdom; and if we were now reaping, and perhaps undeservedly reaping, the fruits of what our forefathers sowed in Ireland, it was only the natural and very common result of long years of misrule and injustice. But, as to public works—did any man imagine that a subsidy to drain the Shannon, or for arterial 782 drainage in Ireland, would stop the tide of emigration? Did any one imagine that the cause of the real evils of Ireland did not he deeper than that? Until the people of Ireland acquired a spirit of real self-reliance all such dandling and fondling of the country would cause positive injury. You might employ a few hundreds or even a few thousands of people for a time; but if you attempted to counteract social and economic laws—which, as his right hon. Friend had said, were as certain in their operation as the laws of nature—if you attempted to counteract those laws by artificial means, the evil was only increased; it might be put off for a time, but it was only the more certain to arrive, because a remedy was supposed to have been found for it. In the relations of landlord and tenant, many important principles were undoubtedly involved; but the representatives of Ireland themselves were not agreed upon that question; and he did not think that it was fair to charge upon England and Scotland all the difficulties which beset the settlement of that question. Surely it was not reasonable to attribute the feelings towards this country which the Hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Bagwell) had, he hoped not quite accurately, ascribed to the Irish people, either to the tenant-right or to the Irish Church. The question of tenant-right was one which was much debated among Irish Members and the Irish people themselves, and he knew of no proposition for its settlement which had been obstructed by England or Scotland. As to the Irish Church he would say nothing, except to express his regret that in a debate upon the grievances of Ireland so little prominence should in some of the speeches have been given to that subject. It would have been satisfactory if the hon. Gentleman who opened the discussion had asked the noble Lord the Member for Stamford what was his opinion upon the subject of the Irish Church. The House would probably have received some important light upon the subject from the answer which would have been returned. But when he heard it said that there was in Ireland, for reasons which had been stated, a strong feeling against this country and against the present Government, he could not but remember what had been the history of Ireland and the history of party during the last thirty years. Hon. Gentlemen said that the Irish looked upon the Liberal party and Liberal Governments as those 783 to whom their evils were attributable. That was a statement which he could not entirely credit. Did they forget who maintained the cause of Ireland in its darkest hour? As far back as 1806 the Whigs, under Fox, had to leave office on the Catholic question alone; and for thirty years their views on that question had excluded them from power. After that came the triumph; but were the old defenders of true principles to be forgetten simply because the victory had been gained? From that time, as the hon. Gentleman who spoke last had candidly confessed, the rulers of this country had constantly striven to find out how to govern Ireland justly. If they had gone wrong it had been from no want of good will, but owing to the difficulties of the position. And if the Irish Church was a grievance that pressed upon the people, he was old enough to recollect the Appropriation Clause, and the questions that arose at that time. He knew who were the friends of the Irish Church on that occasion, and who wished if they could to remove the grievance which then existed. He had made these observations because in Scotland there was nothing which the Liberal party had more at heart than the amelioration and benefit of Ireland. When he first began to think about politics, the question of Catholic Emancipation was exciting the deepest interest among the Liberal party in Scotland, and even difference of religion made little difference among them upon the subject. He remembered a meeting which was held in 1829, in the proceedings of which both Dr. Chalmers and another of the most celebrated divines of the Scotch Church took part, and Dr. Chalmers delivered a glowing oration in favour of Emancipation. It was a little hard that, because evil times had come upon Ireland—because famine had afflicted her, and the fruits of the earth had not prospered—these things should be forgotten. He did not believe that they were forgotten. The Irish were a grateful and a generous people, and he was certain that their hearts were too true to allow such things to pass out of their minds. He would only say one word more on the subject of emigration. A gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Dunne) said that few people would be heard to say that they did not regret the emigration from Ireland. He would speak plainly and would say he did not 784 think that emigration was a thing to be regretted, from whatever part of the country it might take place. The population of the West Highlands, a cognate race, labouring under similar evils to those complained of by the Irish people, had emigrated in large numbers; but he did not regret emigration there. When education was introduced into those districts and a man became able to speak English fluently, be emigrated to the Lowlands, at all events, and frequently to the colonies. No doubt the sentiment was a sad one. It was sad to see old ties and old associations broken up; but in these cases emigration was to be regarded as the operation of a social and economic law which in itself was beneficial. Instead of deploring, we should rejoice when an outlet was afforded for an overflowing population whose means of subsistence had diminished at home. The descendants of old Highland families and the names of Chieftains were to be found in Canada; but in the result was it not better for themselves and their retainers? At the time of the discovery of the goldfields in California and Australia considerable danger was apprehended from the overflow of our large towns, where labour was becoming too plentiful. But the danger was removed by the outlet thus created, and our population was now reduced to a number that was able to obtain remunerative wages. Instead of regretting further emigration from Ireland the friends of that country might rest assured that it would regulate itself—they might be certain that emigration was not a thing to be regulated by legislation, and was quite beyond the control of this House, and that it was not desirable that the House should attempt to control it. It would equalize itself, and it might be that increased enterprise and energy on the part of the Irish people might bring about a period of prosperity in Ireland making it better to stay in that country than to go away. As long as it was better to go the people would go, and would not stay. It might be that increased energy and enterprise in Ireland would one day make it better for men to stay there than to leave the country. Until that was so, however, Irishmen would continue to find a new field for their labour. With regard to the Resolution, he did not think it wise to express regret in the abstract at the existence of emigration; and, in the next place, a grant of public money was so 785 infinitesimal in its effect upon the well-being of Ireland that it was not fitting for this House to put it in the foreground, as though it could be a remedy for evils which lay much deeper, and which could only be remedied by the display of energy and intelligence on the part of the Irish people.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, it would be a source of sorrow and dissatisfaction to the people of Ireland that all the hon. Gentlemen who had addressed the House on the Ministerial side seemed not to regret the drain of the Irish people. The learned Lord Advocate, judging by the tenor of his speech, ought to have moved as an Amendment, "That this House rejoices at the departure of the Irish people from Ireland." It seemed to be assumed that emigration there was the necessary result of existing economic laws which could not be altered by legislation. But he (Mr. M'Mahon) apprehended that the present miserable condition of the Irish people arose from a direct interference with and violation of the well-known rules of political economy, and was directly attributable to the Government of the country. The people of Ireland possessed a fine soil, the source of all wealth; and if they had only the liberty to till it for their own benefit, they would be a wealthy people, and need not come to that House with the whine of mendicants, as the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had expressed it. But they were not allowed to accumulate in their own country the results of their own energy. How could a country prosper when £4,000,000 a year went in absentee rents, and £8,000,000 were taken away in taxes, without the slightest return excepting in stamp receipts? It was impossible that a country could thrive while such a system continued, and it was therefore the duty of the Government to see if something could not be done to amend such a system. He did not think that anything could be done by means of grants for public works. He did not want any violation of economical laws in Ireland. The Irish did not want any help to stimulate their industry; they only required to be let alone; although where the Government had done injury, as it had done through the Irish Board of Works in the case of raising the level of the Shannon, it was but fair that that injury should be redressed. But the whole course of recent legislation had been adverse to the coun- 786 try. Ireland was essentially an agricultural, while England was a manufacturing country. And what had been the course of legislation? Since 1842 taxes had been remitted upon the manufactures of England to the extent of £25,000,000 or £30,000,000. But during the same period laws had been passed against the staple products of Ireland. Thus, instead of reducing the spirit duties, they had been largely increased since 1842, and the result was that in those parts of Ireland where oats and barley used to be grown large tracts of land were now turned into pasture, the result of which was that the land went back almost into a state of nature. It might be supposed that as there was now more grass land, more sheep and cattle were maintained in Ireland than used to be produced there. But the fact was, that a smaller number were actually reared. Would it not be right to inquire into the operation of the spirit duties? Might they not fairly expect the Chancellor of the Exchequer to apply his surplus in part to the reduction of those duties? He did not want exceptional legislation in this matter, for he thought the laws of the two countries should be identical. The malt-tax was another burden that the Legislature should remove from Ireland. In the county he represented (Wexford) the hardship of that tax was deeply felt. The abolition or reduction of that tax would act as a strong stimulant to Irish farmers to grow barley, instead of allowing their land to degenerate into pasture. He held in his hand a letter from a Mr. Rowley, a person eminently qualified to give an opinion upon this point, in which he stated that, having been in treaty for a farm in Ireland, he gave up the idea of taking it in consequence of the conviction that, with free importation and with the malt-tax, agriculture could not be carried on in Ireland; and that unless the malt-tax were repealed the land would be put out of cultivation. In that opinion he (Mr. M'Mahon) entirely concurred, and he felt sure if that tax were repealed, the idea that for thirty years had been prevalent as to Ireland being suitable for a pastoral and not for an agricultural country would be proved to be erroneous. At any rate they could not say so until they had allowed the country fair play. Another matter he felt bound to advert to was that in 1830, the cultivation of tobacco in Ireland produced £60 or £70 per acre, until political eco- 787 nomists, not content with such prosperity, found it desirable to pass an Act of Parliament in the 1st of William IV., prohibiting that cultivation. It was said, that the prohibition did no harm, as the tobacco grown in Ireland could not compete with the foreign produce. Even if that were so, why was not a mere Excise duty laid upon the Irish tobacco, which could then have been left to take its chance according to its quality? The cultivation was totally stopped, and the growers received compensation for the one year's crops only, but nothing for the loss they sustained in consequence of being deprived of such a remunerative mode of cultivating their land. If they repealed that enactment it would, at any rate, look something like a return to economic laws. Again, until 1833, the Irish farmer could manufacture sugar from beet-root free from duty; but, now the Irish farmer must sell his grain in competition with all the world, but he was not allowed to compete with anybody in making beet-root sugar. The Frenchman, Prussian, Russian, and American, could make their own sugar, whilst the English and Irish farmers could not turn their land to that cultivation. In 1833 Parliament imposed a duty upon the manufacture of beet-root sugar; but the manufacture increased, until, in 1853, as much as £1,500 duty was paid in one place. In that year, however, the tax was increased to the amount of the duty upon foreign sugar, and the whole manufacture was ruined. The tax, however, was not so heavy upon the foreigner as upon the grower at home, because the foreigner paid duty only upon the sugar he sent here, while the Irishman paid upon every pound he made. He maintained it to be the duty of Government to reconsider these laws which had so largely contributed towards changing Ireland into a pastoral country. How was it that in that House, where the landed interest was paramount, so little attention was paid to land, and that the only persons thought of were the traders and the manufacturers to the exclusion of the farmers? It was in the interest of the traders and the manufacturers that ships were employed on distant shores to force commerce upon unwilling nations, and that colonies were founded. There was a Board of Trade to look after the commercial interest—why should there not be a Board of Agriculture to look after the farmer's interest? 788 Did the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who had spoken on the Ministerial side of the House believe that the Irish people would remain in Ireland if they were to believe that England could do nothing to improve their present condition? The result of our legislation had been already to reduce the population of Ireland in fifteen years from 8,000,000 to a little above 5,500,000; and if Ireland were to become a pastoral country 4,000,000 more of her people would have to leave, for 1,500,000 would be sufficient for pastoral purposes. If the American war were to terminate, he saw nothing to prevent emigration increasing at such a rate that in ten years the island would be entirely depopulated. He did not think such a result would be desirable, even for the pecuniary interest of this country, and far less for its honour. England required men for her-armies—where could she get them so cheap or so good as in Ireland? During the Crimean war we had felt the difficulty of procuring men without raising the rate of wages in the manufacturing districts. But he had said two or three times already, and he had been censured for so saying, that it was impossible to have peace and contentment in Ireland until the Established Church was got rid of. The Lord Advocate had cited Scotland as a contrast to Ireland; but Scotland had not the disaster of having the Church of the minority dominant. The Scotchman, after making his money abroad, could return to his country without being subjected to the disadvantage of having the Church of the minority over him. Protestant ascendancy met a Catholic at every step in Ireland, and that prevented Catholics who had made fortunes elsewhere from going home to spend their money in their own country. He believed that a great deal of mischief arose from having a distinct Administration in Ireland, and that if the Lord Lieutenancy were abolished, and Ireland governed as England was, a great improvement would be effected in that country. The separate system of government was an evil of considerable magnitude. He hoped that the House would not refuse to adopt that part of the Resolution of the hon. Member for the King's County which expressed regret for the great decrease in the population of Ireland. When an Irish question was under consideration the Liberal English Members very seldom voted rightly—they always voted with the Ministry, 789 and never afforded any assistance to Ireland—and this accounted for the reluctance of Irish Members to assist the English Liberals to the extent they otherwise would assist them. As so many English Liberals had already spoken against Ireland during this debate, he hoped matters would be relieved by a number of English Members voting for the Resolution before the House.
§ MR. DUNLOP
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. M'Mahon) in comparing Ireland with Scotland had said that Scotland had this advantage over Ireland, that in Scotland the Established Church was not the Church of the minority. In this he was quite mistaken—it was the Church of the minority though not to so preposterous an extent as in Ireland. He would take the opportunity of confirming the statement of his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate that there had always been, as there ought to be, a very kindly feeling on the part of Scotchmen towards Ireland. Scotland and Ireland, in many respects, stood in a similar position towards England, and Scotchmen had always shown themselves anxious to assist in the amelioration of Ireland. Shortly after he entered Parliament he sat for three months on a Committee which was engaged in considering Irish Landlord and Tenant Bills, and since that time he had taken a deep and hearty interest in Irish questions; but he could not go with the Irish Members in pressing the Government for postal subsidies and such like objects He thought that the Irish people might take a lesson from the position Scotland now held, as compared with Ireland, which might do them a service. If they would look at Scotland closely, they would see that the two countries stood very much on the same footing. The climate of Scotland was not so good as that of Ireland; the land of the former was poorer than that of the latter; the natural harbours and the rivers of Ireland were superior to those of Scotland. Ireland had her Parliament taken from her; Scotland had lost her Parliament also, and she had also the Court of the Sovereign taken from her; so that Scotland had all these causes of absenteeism in quite as great strength as they existed in Ireland. How was it, then, that Scotland was prosperous in manufactures and commerce, and resident gentry? How was it that not only the Scotch proprietors were not weaned away 790 from their country, and had their homes and establishments there, looked after their people and encouraged their manufactures; but that English noblemen bought estates in Scotland and spent part of their time and part of their wealth there? How was it that these marked contrasts occurred? He did not mean to go back to days long past and enter at length into the original causes of the different state of circumstances that existed in the two countries as compared with each other. Were he to go back so far, he would in one sentence state two causes. He would say it was because Ireland had no Bannookburn and Scotland had no priests. But coming to the present time, he would endeavour to account for the difference by two reasons. In his opinion, the first cause of the difference was, that the Scotch were a quiet, orderly, peaceable people, among whom men dwelt in safety, among whom Englishmen or Irishmen might bring their capital with a consciousness of perfect security; but though he was happy to hear that crime in Ireland was diminishing, still it took a long period of settled order to create confidence, and things had been done there within the last half-year which were not calculated to encourage men to invest their capital or take up their residence in that country. The other and more important cause was that the Irish as yet had not learnt to stand upon their own legs—to trust to themselves, and not to lean on the Government, not to think that everything is to be done by an advance of Government money. The Scotch did not come to Parliament for postal subsidies, for a regium donum, for Royal dockyards, for improved drainage. They trusted to themselves for these things. Along the Clyde there was town after town—Greenock, the third port in the kingdom in point of Customs revenue, and Glasgow among the number, all full of manufactories and shipbuilding yards, and none of them owing their prosperity to Government grants. That river now bore vessels of 1,000 tons, coming from the East and West Indies and all parts of the world; and yet, at the end of last century, only one masted lighters, drawing two feet of water, were able to get up it. How had the deepening of the river been effected? Not by grants of public money, but entirely by the energies and exertions of the inhabitants and merchants of Glasgow and other towns in the locality. To allow these Motions, 791 which were brought forward to induce the Government to sanction the grant of public money, to be successful would really encourage the very disease—the moral disability—which it was desirable to cure. What was wanted was to make Irishmen stand on their legs, and every speech calling for Government aid, every laudation of Lord Lieutenant Eglinton merely for encouraging a wretched affair which brought many to ruin without doing good to one human being had no other effect but to encourage the mischievous leaning on others which was the bane of Irishmen. If they could only be weaned from a reliance on the central Government, he had no doubt Ireland would become as prosperous as Scotland, which had relied only on her own energies. The hon. Member for the county of Galway (Mr. Gregory) seemed to threaten the Liberal party with total desertion by the Roman Catholic Members; but, for his part, he should not be sorry to see all those Members sitting on the Opposition side of the House. He thought that the Government had been led, by the desire to get their votes, to do many things which it ought not to have done, and the best cry for the Government in a new election would be an appeal to the English and Scotch constituencies to shield them from a dependance on the representatives of the Irish priesthood, whose views of foreign and domestic policy were irreconcilable with those of the Liberals of Great Britain. He should look with greater confidence to the future prosperity of Ireland if the people there only adopted a more healthy tone than some of their representatives, and trusted entirely to their own exertions.
§ MR. LEFROY,
while he congratulated the hon. Member for the King's County on the tone of moderation in which he had brought this subject forward, and on the great amount of information which he had brought to bear upon it, regretted that he could not give his vote in favour of the Motion. He should not follow the hon. Gentleman who had introduced the question of the Established Church into the debate. Were it necessary to drag that subject before the House, it would not be difficult to show that Ireland would receive little benefit if she were deprived of the residence there of the bishops and clergy of that Church. That he believed was the opinion of the great mass of the Irish people. But, following the example of other hon. Members, he would avoid 792 anything which might introduce religious animosity and bad feeling into the debate. The Motion might be divided into two parts. The first was that in which the House was asked to express its regret at the decline of the population in Ireland. Now, there was no one who would not regard with regret the decline of the population under general circumstances; but, if he (Mr. Lefroy) were asked to vote for the proposition that, under the present circumstances of Ireland, he was to regret the diminution of the population, he must confess that he could not conscientiously support it. He was of opinion that the great distress in Ireland was caused by the humidity of the climate, and that it was better to coincide with the ordering of Providence than to seek to quarrel with His wise purposes. He (Mr. Lefroy) rejoiced that those who could not support themselves at home were going abroad, where they could work for themselves and families, and send assistance to those they had left behind. This second part of the proposition required explanation. The House was asked "to support Her Majesty's Government in any well devised measure to stimulate the profitable employment of the people." He considered that expression, "to stimulate," a most unfortunate one, for it must mean that the people were to depend on Government aid. He (Mr. Lefroy) did not think that the welfare of Ireland was to be promoted by assistance given in that way. He had seen aid lavishly given to it in the time of famine, but there were evil consequences which followed that he did not wish to have repeated. Another subject, as yet untouched, was in respect to the Irish railways. He knew nothing more important than that the railways should be in some way under the control of Government, so that they might be managed with safety and at diminished expense, and that the people should be encouraged to send their cattle to market by railway. These were subjects of importance for the consideration of the Government; and he was glad, and he rejoiced, that in this temperate debate a desire had been universally expressed that every matter which might be advantageous to Ireland should be brought under the consideration of Government. As to the distress, said to be existing in Ireland, he could not admit that this last year there had been a wonderful or considerable decrease in the prosperity of Ireland. He had been in Longford, 793 and Sligo, and Leitrim, and Louth, and other counties, and he had not heard in any of those counties of any great distress. As soon as he knew that this debate was to come on he wrote to several of the principal agents in those counties, and he had their authority for saying that the crops last harvest were much better, and that the great excellence of the crop of potatoes was quite sufficient to set the people altogether free from apprehension of famine. The cause of the large emigration from Ireland had been attributed to the cruelty of the landlords. By way of answer to this, he must ask permission to read an extract from a letter from an Irish land agent on the subject:—I can instance large estates, under the most popular landlords, from which there has been as much emigration as from any other estates in Ireland. There are few landlords in Ireland that bear a higher character for kindness and liberality to their tenants than Lord Palmerston. He gives large employment on his extensive estates in Sligo. He expends large sums every year in the improvement of his property and in the improvement of the dwellings and homesteads of his tenants. He scarcely ever turns out a tenant—indeed, I may well say he carries this rule, if possible, to a fault; and yet we have every year a large number of tenants emigrating, and leaving the property, and seeking to improve their prosperity in other lands. I feel confident, therefore, that harsh conduct on the part of landlords is no cause why so many people leave this country.He (Mr. Lefroy) could not support the Motion; but as the Government had heard that there were certain circumstances under which relief might be given to the distress of the country, it would be well if the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) would take into consideration what the Committee of last year had recommended to the Government at the end of the Session, in order that it might be ascertained whether something could not be done beneficial to Ireland altogether different from the charity bestowed in former years.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
thought that a tone of too great despondency had been indulged in in that debate, as if the evils under which Ireland was suffering were permanent rather than temporary. The famine, indeed, spoke for itself, but the present distress was owing, in his opinion, to a concatenation of adverse or difficult circumstances, among the first of which was the enormous and profligate Imperial expenditure occurring during a succession of bad harvests. Next he was bound to say was to be included the unfortunate and impolitic legislation of the 794 Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to the spirit duties. Contrary to our general fiscal policy, pursued since 1842, the right hon. Gentleman had, instead of substituting direct for indirect taxation, increased both direct and indirect taxation in Ireland, and the result had been the destruction of one of the few branches of manufacture carried on in that country—distillation. Still he believed that the late evils were not greater than those which occurred in what had been referred to as the palmy days of protection and Irish prosperity. The hon. Member proceeded to quote passages from the Reports of Sir J. Newport's Committee of 1819, where reference is made to "numerous bodies who, pressed by want and seeking relief, have fatally contributed to the diffusion of disease;" of Lord Monteagle's Committee of 1823, in which the condition of the people is described to be "wretched and calamitous in the highest degree;" and from the evidence before the Committee of 1830 of Dr. Doyle, who said it would be impossible for language to convey an idea of the state of distress to which the ejected tenantry have been reduced, or of the disease, misery, and even vice which they have propagated in the towns, from Mr. Carlyle's latter days pamphlets; and the Address issued by the Irish agent of the brother-in-law of the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners); and what he had heard from Mr. Stewart, who managed large estates in various parts of Ireland, stating that rents in various places were higher than they were twenty years ago; and this, he urged, was adverse to an impression that Ireland was altogether in a declining condition. He sincerely hoped that the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire would impress these facts upon his friends who maintained that the repeal of the Corn Laws had ruined Ireland. As to the taxes in Ireland, there was no doubt that when the poor rates were very high—as high as 3s. in the pound, as was the case some years back, contemporaneously with an income tax of 16d. in the pound, the pressure was severely felt—especially by the clergy of the Established Church, and their case ought to have the consideration of the Government. He did not deny the existence of severe distress. The hon. Member for the King's County had suggested one remedy for that distress to which he could not agree, and that was public works. 795 He was quite certain that the public works of 1846 and 1847 did a great deal of mischief, inducing the people to believe that work must be provided for them. The failure of that system had discouraged a great many landlords since from improving their estates, and he hoped the experiment would not be tried again. Another objection to public works was that the money must be raised by additional taxation or withdrawn from industry and enterprise of different kinds. Now, if Government did anything to cripple industry and enterprise great numbers of people who were now earning their livelihood in England would be sent back to their parishes, and their last state would be worse than their first. But, on the whole, he did not think that Government had done all that they might have done. Lord Aberdeen's Bill of 1853 would have stopped a great deal of distress. Or if they were unable to carry that, an extension of the compensating period of Mr. Cardwell's Bill of 1860 would have been most beneficial. One of the best remedies that could be applied to Ireland would be a return to the Estimates of 1853, and if Irish Members would unite and put the screw on the Chancellor of the Exchequer perhaps he would not refuse them some remedy of that kind.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
regretted that he could not support the Resolution of the hon. Member for the King's County, because, instead of deploring the causes which led to emigration, the Resolution deplored the emigration itself. Now he (Sir Hervey Bruce) could not deplore it when it was taking his suffering and poverty-stricken countrymen to places where they could not only procure comfort but affluence. He had been much pleased with the remarks of some of the English and Scotch Members who had taken part in the debate, and who had shown a lively interest in the affairs of Ireland, but it certainly was amusing to hear the remarks of some hon. Gentlemen who, after a tour of a week or a fortnight in Ireland, came down to lecture Irish Members who were probably equal to them in intellect—certainly equal to them in the interest which they took in Irish matters—and far superior to them in the experience of what was beneficial to their country. An amusing instance of that kind of teaching was given, when they were told that the Irish were a debased and mutilated people. He denied that they were; but if they had 796 been debased what tended to cause it? The manner in which England procured the Union, and old English laws prohibiting trade in Ireland. The conciliatory speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had received a sufficient answer. The right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) who, in his calm and measured tones, told the House that he was going to introduce nothing of an irritating nature, said, the only remedial measures for Ireland were the destruction of the Irish Church and the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy. The hon. Gentleman also said that capital was coy and difficult to find, and that yet it had been showered on disreputable people in some of our colonies. But he thought the right hon. Gentleman was in error, because he understood that the banks of the country inhabited by these disreputable people were paying 20 per cent. But these observations were of secondary importance to those of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who gave his reasons for not supporting the Motion. Firstly, the objection was that the Resolution had only been a short time before the House, and there was force then in that objection. An objection, however, which almost led Irish Members to suppose he was about to consider their claims. But then came the objection that the adoption of the Resolution would lead the Irish people to think that the Government was going to do everything for them. The right hon. Gentleman further laid down the broad proposition that any exemption from taxation was of necessity a gift, unless there were countervailing circumstances. Now, were there no countervailing circumstances with regard to Ireland to bring her under the favourable consideration of the Imperial Government? It had been stated that Ireland bore the same position to the Imperial Government that Scotland did; but this he denied, because between Ireland there was a sea as turbulent in its ways as Irishmen themselves were reported to be, while no such element existed between England and Scotland. The gentry of Scotland, too, possessed many more inducements to spend their money nearer home than did the Irish. He did not purpose to defend absenteeism, but it could not be denied that many Irish gentlemen who visited London found superior attractions in that city to those which their native country could hold out to them. When the noble Lord the Member for 797 Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) alluded to the fact that trade and commerce had been repressed in Ireland, he could perceive that the Government sneered at the statement, but it was nevertheless true. No one would deny that in olden times trade and commerce were advisedly repressed by the laws of England. What was the opinion of the hon. Member for the West Hiding of Yorkshire (Sir Francis Crossley), no mean authority on that subject? That hon. Gentleman said he could not agree in the opinion that manufactures could be disseminated throughout Ireland—that they were of slow growth, and took a long time to establish—that they were concentrated in the north of England, and had also taken root in the north of Ireland. He was afraid that was not the case. Great stress had been laid on the cultivation of flax, and the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) had advised his constituents to cultivate that article. But its growth was a most precarious thing. It would not suit large farmers until the difficulty of working it was removed, and was only suitable for small farmers. It could never become a source of wealth to the country, even though the scarcity of cotton ought to have that effect. He had no doubt that he should be told that the Irish were not taxed for their police. That this was the case he granted, but it should also be borne in mind that the Irish police did not at all resemble the body employed in England under that name. The so-called police force of Ireland, though undoubtedly a body of very fine men, was nothing more or less than an army of occupation, and if England thought it right to send an army of occupation she ought not certainly to call upon the people to contribute to its support out of the local taxation. Now, what did Ireland pay that was not paid in England? The Irish paid a much heavier sum out of their local rates than the boasted assessed taxes of England could produce in Ireland, for they paid one-half the charge for medical officers in the unions out of the rates, and also for schoolmasters and mistresses. In England these charges were paid out of the Consolidated Fund. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had made one statement which he could not understand. The right hon. Gentleman said that whenever money was advanced to Ireland it was at a lower rate of interest than the rate of money in England. Now, money for the drainage of land 798 could be borrowed in England as well as in Ireland, and the amount paid in Ireland was exactly the same as in this country. He would not say that his own countrymen were not in fault, for they were distinctly in fault in one particular. They showed too great a pride with regard to engaging in trade and commerce; and on that point he quite concurred in some observations made by the right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) a short time ago. The right hon. Gentleman said that the middle classes did not give that practical education to their children which they ought to do; that the rich farmer never thought of educating his sons for trade, but wished to make them lawyers or doctors; that rich merchants never thought of risking a few thousands in a factory; that they regarded manufacturing pursuits as low and vulgar; that the greatest of the obstacles to Ireland was pride, the miserable feeling that there was something low and degrading in industrial pursuits. Whilst the Government were spending magnificent sums on the education of the people they did not give the people of Ireland that useful and practical education which was likely to qualify them for trade and commerce. In the schools for the poorer classes the children were brought up in a manner superior to the position in life they might be expected to occupy. He did not mean to say that the pupils were not well-grounded, for the contrary was the case; but its character was not such as would tend to raise the people from the condition into which they had now fallen. He must say a word with respect to the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was convinced that no man ever went to Ireland more desirous to win a name and reputation which would emulate those of his predecessors, or more anxious to do his best for the credit of his Government; but he did not go to work in the right way. The right hon. Gentleman studied interesting statistics more than real facts, and depended more upon official returns than upon the information which he could have readily obtained from men of all sides in politics, and thoroughly acquainted with Irish affairs. He said this of the right hon. Baronet with all kindness, for he had ever experienced from him the greatest courtesy and attention. The noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil), had also made a most able speech; but in that speech the noble Lord had made a statement which he 799 could not permit to pass unchallenged. The noble Lord said that the chief cause of the evils of Ireland was the land tenure, and that leases were less common in Ireland than in England. The noble Lord was wrong when he laid it down almost as a problem that the absence of leases was one of the causes of Ireland's want of prosperity. He wanted to know the authority for that statement—he wanted to know if there was any county in England in undoubted prosperity on account of long leases, and another which was not prosperous for lack of them, It was easy enough to make statements, but he (Sir Hervey Bruce) wanted to have it shown that the question of leases affected prosperity in any case. It was said that the difference between Ulster and the south of Ireland was the difference of tenant-right and no tenant-right. Some hon. Gentlemen appeared to have extraordinary ideas of tenant-right. They thought that by it the landlord had to give money to the outgoing tenant for buildings or improvements carried out at the expense of the tenant. It was, however, no such thing. The man who improved his land was quite as anxious to stay with his landlord as the landlord was to keep him. It was the man who wasted the land so that he could no longer live on it who wanted tenant-right enactment. In the part of the country where he lived it prevailed to a great extent, and he knew that this was the fact. It had also been said that tenant-right exceeded the fee-simple without even a scrap of a lease; but that was never the case, although some landlords allowed their tenants to sell their rights to anybody who liked to buy them. He did not wish to run down tenant-right, but he believed that that had nothing to do either with prosperity or the lack of it. In 1846 and 1847, when Ireland was so distressed and every one was getting money to drain their land, he (Sir Hervey Bruce) did the same, and began to drain. The tenants were all against it, but they had no leases, and he said it must be done. It was done, and the tenants very soon saw that it was to their benefit as undoubtedly as if they had the longest and best of leases. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) like a modern Atlas, only less ambitious, would move Ireland a little further south; that perhaps would ripen the crops and fruits a little sooner, but he doubted whether they would not then lose "the right to be called the Emerald Isle." He 800 was glad, however, to find that hon. Gentleman had this morning corrected the report of his speech in The Times that if a foreign foe landed on our shores the Roman Catholic Prelates would not be loyal to their Queen and country. He had heard that observation fall from a Gentleman representing essentially a Soman Catholic county with great regret, and he was very glad to see that he had now amended his speech. He had heard the observations which fell from the hon. and learned Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) with deep regret. A Gentleman so well known for his philanthropic views must on calmer reflection feel that, however eloquent his observations, they would not lead philosophic minds to consider what was best for the regeneration of his country and her restoration to that position to which the industry, intelligence, and loyalty of the mass of her people so justly entitled her.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, I have listened to this debate with that interest and attention which I think it demands, as deeply affecting the welfare and happiness of so large a portion of the United Kingdom. Although it has lasted for a considerable time, I do not think that time has been thrown away. The hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Amendment on the Motion for going into a Committee of Supply—although I differ from him in some of the opinions he expressed and the remedies he suggested for the present condition of Ireland—introduced the subject in an able and temperate speech, of which no one has a right to complain, and the debate has been conducted for the most part in the same spirit; and whatever may be the immediate result of the Motion—whether or not it be pressed to a division—the debate cannot fail to have a beneficial influence, having elicited, as I think, facts of great importance with regard to the actual condition of Ireland, and the causes of that condition, from men of weight and authority intimately acquainted with that country, opinions which cannot fail to lead the inhabitants to look for a remedy for the evils we all deplore, not so much to the Government and Parliament as to their united energies, and their own resources. I say, "evils we all deplore," because, without entering into minute criticism on the state of Ireland, without questioning the accuracy of the description of her miseries, or stopping to dwell on the hopeful signs of improve- 801 ment visible in many directions, there is quite enough, every one must admit, to excite the sympathy which will be readily accorded. But not only will this subject tend to excite feelings of sympathy, the motive even of self-interest would induce us to look at it with deep attention and a desire to apply any remedy we could devise to the evils we deplore; for the interests of Ireland cannot possibly be severed from those of the whole Empire. Ireland rich, prosperous, and contented, must add immensely to the greatness and strength of the Empire; whereas Ireland poor, distressed, and discontented, must essentially detract from our greatness and strength. It is therefore the interest of us all, if we had no other cause, to examine closely the state of Ireland, and see whether it be in the power of the Government or of Parliament to apply any permanent and efficient remedy to evils under which she is alleged to suffer. Now, with regard to the state of the country, such very different statements have been made, that it is difficult, if we view them superficially, not to conclude that many of them must be wrong. But in reality they are by no means inconsistent with each other. Just as in the case of England, there are counties where industry has been paralyzed, or the harvests have failed, and yet the general condition of the country is satisfactory; so, speaking of Ireland, statements have been made strictly true, and based on personal observation as to the prevalence of great destitution and distress in some districts, while there were other parts of the country, as described by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) in glowing terms, enjoying prosperity and abounding in industrial occupation. Still, I say, there is quite enough in the state of the country for us seriously to deplore, and induce us from every motive of humanity, sympathy, and self-interest to apply a remedy, if a remedy can be devised. I think a great deal of light has been thrown on the causes of the distress in Ireland by this debate. It was admitted even by the hon. and learned Member for the King's County, that a good deal of the distress in Ireland was occasioned by circumstances altogether beyond the reach of Parliament. He stated that much of it arose from the physical geography and configuration of the country, which placed it at a disadvantage as compared with England 802 and Scotland. The hon. and learned Member also spoke of climate, and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House confirmed what he said—namely, that the climate of Ireland was unsuited for cereal crops, and that it was important for the permanent welfare of the country that its staple produce should not be crops of grain, but that it ought rather to be a pastoral and grazing country. It was quite clear that in effecting this change there must be a great displacement of labour, and there was always distress wherever that took place, whether it was in Ireland or England. The hon. and learned Gentleman in the beginning of his speech referred to the want of uniformity in legislation as one of the evils affecting Ireland. No doubt a great many Acts had been passed since the Union applicable only to Ireland, and there is a dissimilarity still between many Acts of Parliament applicable to Ireland and those applying to the rest of the kingdom. But I may remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that of late years the tendency of legislation has been to assimilate as far as possible the legislation of the two countries. There are circumstances, however, which render it impossible to apply in all cases the same principles and details of measures to each part of the United Kingdom. The hon. and learned Gentleman was rather unfortunate in the illustration he selected, when he referred to the Poor Law Bill proposed the other night by my right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board. He said that Bill, which was received with general approval, was one of great importance, but it applied to England alone; thereby implying that Ireland had to complain that the measure did not apply to that part of the country. But if it did not apply to Ireland neither did it apply to Scotland, because the circumstances of those two countries were very different from England as regards Poor Law administration. Its object was to mitigate the evils of the law of settlement, and to enlarge the area within which labour might circulate; but if applied to Ireland, it would have introduced into that country for the first time the law of settlement, and some of those restrictions which in England we are gradually getting rid of. That is an instance in which identity of legislation is impossible. But while the hon. and learned Gentleman was complaining of the want of uniformity of legislation, he himself, in the very next 803 breath, proposed special legislation for Ireland which would not be tolerated for England. He asked for a law by which a tenant may make improvements without the consent and against the wishes of his landlord, and demand, on giving up the holding, compensation for those improvements. I am not aware of any law which would give a tenant such a claim in England. But that is what the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member as to land tenure amounted to. The differences which exist are caused not by want of uniformity in the laws, so much as by want of uniformity in the practices and habits of the people. What is the case in England in regard to improvements? The tenant will not take a farm if the buildings are not put into good tenantable condition. If the tenant afterwards wants other buildings he applies to the landlord or his agent, and if his demand is reasonable they are made at the expense of the landlord, the tenant paying an increased rent by way of interest on the sum expended. The same is done with regard to drainage—enormous sums have been laid out at the expense of the landlord because they add a permanent value to his estate; but the tenant pays interest in addition to his rent, in return for the profit he derives during his occupation from the improvements. All these things are matters of agreement between landlord and tenant, and I cannot see what there is to prevent similar agreements being made in Ireland, or what law is required or could be beneficial which should supersede mutual arrangements of that kind, and place everybody under the constraint of an unvarying rule. In England no such principle would be tolerated for a moment, and the hon. and learned Gentleman in advocating its adoption for Ireland asks us to do the very thing he condemns—:to make an essential difference by law on a most important subject between England and Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman has spoken of the decrease of population in Ireland, and desires a remedy for it. He did not venture to charge the Government with being the cause of that depopulation. I have little to say in addition to what has already been said on the subject; but as it is expressly referred to in the Resolution the matter must be looked at in all its bearings. I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns), and my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), in de- 804 ploring that the circumstances, of Ireland should be such as to induce a large portion, and, in some respects, the best portion, of the population to leave the country; but before we endeavour to cheek that emigration we must inquire whether it is altogether an unmixed evil. It is obvious that emigration is governed by the ordinary laws of nature and the motives which influence human actions. If a labouring man finds that he cannot make more than 1s. a day in Ireland, but that at the expense of a few shillings he can transport himself and his family to Liverpool or Glasgow, where he can earn 2s., 3s., or even more per day—can you wonder that he should resort to so simple a means of improving his condition? Would it be right to prevent him? Well, the same remark applies to the United States. Circumstances have lately caused an unnatural rise of wages in the States. Facilities of intercourse are now very great, and at the cost of a few pounds a man can convey himself and family to America, where wages are four or five times as high as in Liverpool or Glasgow. Is it for his benefit that he should stop in Ireland? The hon. and learned Gentleman tells us we ought to follow the example of the Bank of England, which raises the rate of discount in order to check a drain of gold from this country. Does he mean to say that the Government should raise the cost of conveyance between Ireland and Scotland and England, or between Ireland and America, in order to prevent the Irish people from doing what is for their advantage and seeking higher wages? I gather from the debate that although the House regrets that any necessity should exist for a large portion of the Irish people quitting their country, it is not prepared to express that the emigration under the circumstances is an unmixed evil. The second part of the hon. Gentleman's Resolution pledges the House to support the Government in any well-devised plan for providing remunerative employment for the people of Ireland, in order, I presume, to induce them to stay at home. I believe all desire for free grants of public money for this purpose, with one slight exception, has been disavowed. The idea seems to be that advances should be made from the public Treasury to the landlords for the improvement of their estates, and for the employment in that way of the people. That plan would be free from the objection applicable to the Government undertaking 805 large public works under their own management, as we were compelled to do during the famine, but which our experience then should deter us from doing again, except under very pressing and special circumstances. But if advances were made to the landlords, the Government would, to accomplish the object in view, have to enforce a fixed rate of wages. Unless that is done the object will not be obtained. If you do not give more than the ordinary rate of pay, labourers will still go to the quarter where the remuneration is higher. If, on the other hand, you do give higher pay you displace labour in every other part of the country, and draw it away from many occupations where it is being paid for at the ordinary market rate. No system of that kind can cure the evils of Ireland. It may be a palliative, it may mitigate the sufferings of a particular time or place, and as a temporary measure it may, if a carefully prepared plan were laid before Parliament, be entertained; but it is very important that we should guard against any scheme which is sure to produce a reaction and aggravate the very evils we desire to cure. Hon. Gentlemen in the course of the debate, I venture to think, have not dealt quite fairly with the Government on this subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer laid down certain principles as applicable to grants of public money, which no Government ought to lose sight of, and of which I hope this House will never lose sight. But my right hon. Friend went on to say what has been totally overlooked except by my hon. Friend the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Lefroy)—that these principles did not preclude our entertaining any reasonable proposition for temporary relief. On the contrary, the right hon. Gentleman said with regard to the Shannon, for instance-—"Prove your case; show that the banks of the river have been injured through the non-fulfilment of an obligation undertaken by the Government, and we admit your principle and will consider your claim." If temporary relief for local distress is to be given, said my right hon. Friend, the Government is of opinion that advances on security sufficient to insure repayment form the best mode in which relief can be afforded. He added that the Government was not unprepared, if a sufficient case were made out, even to depart from the usual rule as to interest, and to furnish money, which would enable landlords to give employ- 806 ment to the people at a low rate of interest. After that the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) was not justified in the taunts he cast upon my right hon. Friend on account of the harshness of his principles. Of course my right hon. Friend could not encourage applications for grants of money—it would have been wrong for him or any Minister to do so; but he said that if good grounds were shown for advances of money by way of loan, there was no indisposition on the part of the Government to examine the subject carefully. The noble Lord advocated grants of money to Ireland on the ground of the description of her condition given by Mr. Pitt in a speech made eighty years ago, speaking of a system which even then he said was exploded; but as that system applied to the colonies as well as to Ireland, the principle of a grant would apply equally to the colonies. I cannot call that statesmanship. It is only pandering to public expectation in a way that must lead to mischief and disappointment. No House of Commons, I am satisfied, would tolerate the application of such a principle to Ireland or the colonies, or permit the reckless expenditure of public money from which no permanent remedy is to be secured. For permanent improvement of Ireland, I think the present debate has proved that the Irish ought to look to themselves. They must rely upon their own exertions and resources rather than—as they are too apt to do—exclusively upon the Government and Parliament to assist them in dealing with circumstances which have arisen not from any action on the part of the Government, but from causes over which neither Government nor Parliament have any control. I do not adopt the tone or language of the hon, and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), but his speeches are always worth listening to, and in the conclusion of his speech on this occasion there was much wholesome advice to the Irish people. For my own part, I can only say that if the Irish, instead of allowing their religious animosities to sever them from one another, were to unite for the common good of their country, to accommodate themselves to circumstances instead of striving against nature, to avail themselves of all their own resources, and then come to Parliament or the Government with any reasonable claim for assistance, I feel assured they would find neither Parliament nor the Govern- 807 ment disposed to reject their claims without favourable consideration.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he thought the hon. and learned Member for the King's County might be congratulated, in the first place, on the tone and temper with which he had introduced to the notice of the House, an important subject; and, in the next place, upon the effect which the debate seemed to have produced. Whatever might be the immediate result of the discussion, his hon. Friend would, he thought, be entitled to take credit to himself for having performed an important service to his country. In some of the criticisms to which his Motion had been subjected, he was not disposed to concur. He could not, for instance, agree with the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken (Sir George Grey) that the question, whether the emigration of the people of Ireland across the Atlantic was to be viewed with regret, depended wholly upon the circumstance of their being better or worse for the change. There were other considerations to be taken into account, beyond the mere consequence to the individuals who left their native shores. It was, no doubt, a pleasing reflection to think that there was a large number of our fellow-countrymen who, having been in a state of great misery and distress at home, were now placed in a position of comparative comfort. But the question was not only individual but national; and we must not look only to the condition of those who were gone, but to that also of those who remained behind. We must look not only to physical, but to moral considerations, and taking that view of the subject, ask ourselves whether England and Ireland have been such gainers by the emigration from the latter, as some hon. Gentlemen seem inclined to believe. He assented to the proposition that those who attained better wages in England and America, were benefited by the change, but he did not admit that they necessarily benefited those whom they left behind them. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) in his extremely able and very instructive speech, seemed to take it for granted that that of which Ireland chiefly stood in need, was to be relieved of her surplus population, and that the greater the number of those whom she was unable to support left her shores, the better was it for those who stayed, inasmuch as wages would then be distri- 808 buted over a smaller number, and each person as a consequence, would get a larger amount. Now, he did not know whether hon. Members had looked over the Report of the Committee on Irish Taxation which sat last Session; but if they had not done so, he could assure them that in it, and much that was technical and uninviting, relating to the accounts between the two countries, they would also find much that was extremely valuable; and he would direct their attention especially to the evidence of Mr. Edward Senior, who was an Englishman, who had resided in Ireland in an official capacity for upwards of twenty years, who was at the head of the Poor Law Department in that country, and who spoke very fully as to its condition. Mr. Senior was asked in reference to emigration the following question:—Do you think emigration has had any effect upon the prosperity or otherwise of Ireland?His answer was:—I think it tends to facilitate ultimately a better system of agriculture; it tends to benefit ultimately the labouring classes who remain; but I have no doubt that its immediate action is unfavourable; its immediate action must be to throw the support of the aged and infirm upon the poorer and a smaller class of the community. The large amount taken by emigrants, to that extent diminishes the capital of the country. If the emigration consisted entirely of the poor it might be beneficial, but it is, to a certain extent, at present a capitalist emigration. So nearly as I can calculate it, the amount of annual loss from emigration at this moment cannot be much less than three quarters of a million.Mr. Senior went on to show that he arrived at that result by taking the amount of money which the emigrants carried with them, including their passage-money and cost of outfit, and then deducting from it the amount of the remittances which they afterwards sent back to Ireland. Now, it appeared to be the opinion of those who had most carefully studied the question, that one of the causes of the distress which prevailed in Ireland was the want of capital to develope her resources, and it might therefore, he thought, very fairly be argued that the emigration of small capitalists might be to her a source of injury instead of an unmixed benefit. But there was another consideration which must not be lost sight of in considering the question of emigration, and to which the right hon. Member for Calne had briefly alluded, when he said that whatever view we might take of emigration, when it was gradual we could not 809 shut our eyes to the misery which was occasioned by the sudden and violent displacement of a large mass of human beings. When, moreover, the emigration was in character not so much a movement of attraction as of repulsion, not so much the result of the prospect of great advantages to be obtained elsewhere, as of the consciousness that a livelihood could not be secured at home, it was impossible not to feel that it was calculated to produce great suffering. Then there were the moral and political features of the subject, and he would ask hon. Members with what sentiments persons leaving their native land under such circumstances as those to which he referred were likely to regard the country which they had abandoned. It might be quite possible that some philosophic historian, looking back upon Ireland after the lapse of years, might arrive at the conclusion that the present emigration had done her much good; but we could not, while the process was taking place before our eyes, look upon it in that calm philosophic spirit—we could not shut our eyes to the misery which must be occasioned by the sudden and violent dispersion of great bodies of people; and we should remember that the emigrants are easily led to entertain feelings of hostility to the Government under which they had found it necessary to abandon their early homes. Were we to do so we should be guilty of a great error. We might, by pursuing that course, be sowing the seeds of future weakness to this country, and that consideration, as well as the others to which he had adverted, ought, in his opinion, materially to colour the satisfaction with which some hon. Gentlemen appeared to view the progress of emigration in Ireland. But to deal with the whole question of the condition of the country as raised by the Motion of the hon. Member, he must say that he perceived with great pleasure throughout the debate the prevalence of a better tone than sometimes characterized discussions on that subject, although even now there was by no means an entire absence of language calculated to give pain to the Irish Members, and, what was of more importance, to the Irish people, who received by retail, and, perhaps, not always in a shape likely to convey the most favourable impression, the report of what was said in the House. In his own opinion the subject was one which Parliament could hardly be said to approach with clean hands. It might, indeed, be contended, 810 as it had been by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), that Ireland had of late years been extremely well-governed; but it was, nevertheless, an undoubted fact that, in years gone by, the legislation and policy of England towards her was of a character materially to injure her, and to render her much less able to bear the burdens at present imposed upon her. When, therefore, hon. Members spoke of England having burdens to bear as well as Ireland, they must not forget that the two countries were like two bodies, one of which had been deprived of a limb, and which, as a consequence, ought not to be supposed capable of supporting as great a weight as the other. Thus Ireland having been crippled by the action of England in former times, we ought to approach the question of her condition in a spirit of tenderness and sympathy towards her, and to endeavour to aid her as far as possible in her distress, without charging her with assuming a whining tone. It was, of course, impossible for us, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne had said, to bid against the labour market in America with the view of keeping the Irish people at home; but then, if anything could be done to check the tide of emigration—not by raising the passage money, because any attempt of that kind would do more harm than good—but by making the condition of the Irish labourer so comfortable at home that he would have no desire to emigrate, we should, in his opinion, not only be adding to the wealth and strength of the Empire, but doing that which was right as well as politic by adopting such a course. It would be well, he might add, to bear in mind that the tide of emigration, which had, during the last twenty-five years, so reduced the population of Ireland, had also, to some extent, simultaneously prevailed in England, whose population had notwithstanding, during the same period, increased instead of diminished. Twenty years ago great distress existed in England, and it was the opinion of many persons that the country was overcrowded, and that to emigration she must look to be relieved from her surplus population, which, according to the Census of 1841, was, he found, about 16,000,000. Twenty years later, in 1861, the population of England and Wales had risen to 20,000,000, and although at the former period it was said that England was over-populated, and that it was necessary for the teeming mil- 811 lions to seek employment for their labour on other shores, yet those complaints had now ceased and the country had passed to a state of great prosperity. The population of England had augmented during those years by 25 or 26 per cent. The population in Ireland meanwhile had decreased at the rate of over 30 per cent., and emigration was still going on, yet the people had been reduced to a state of great misery. These were facts over which the Irish people would naturally meditate, asking to what extent their condition of comparative suffering would go, and why their land should still be over populated, and their countrymen flying from its shores. If they asked hon. Gentlemen opposite to what the improved condition of affairs in England was owing, they would get a short and ready answer. They would be told, "In England we have pursued a course of beneficial improvements; our legislation has been founded on the wisest possible principles; we have reduced taxation on the raw materials of manufacture; we have increased commerce; we have done away with protection; and we have given an enormous development to trade." He would make no objection to that statement. The Irish people, however, would be struck with this fact, that these measures, though of ultimate advantage, it was to be hoped, to the United Kingdom, had all proved largely and immediately for the benefit of England, while to Ireland, for the time, at least, they had been productive of much loss and suffering. In these transactions there had been two partners, and England, the stronger partner, reaped the principal benefit, while Ireland, the weaker partner, received the greater portion of the blows. He was not arguing in the sense of a Protectionist, or saying a word against free trade, but it had been admitted, even on the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne that the population of Ireland had suffered materially from the repeal of the Corn Laws and the introduction of free trade. He did not know whether hon. Gentlemen had seen a very interesting paper by Mr. Bence Jones, an English gentleman, which was lately republished from The Gardeners' Chronicle, giving an account of that gentleman's experience in Ireland. It was a paper which he (Sir Stafford Northcote) earnestly hoped would be read by Gentlemen who felt an interest in the condition of Ireland, and in which were to be 812 found many things that appeared to have been unknown to hon. Members who had taken part in that debate. It showed, among other things, how by a liberal application of capital and by skill in its direction land might be cultivated with profit to the owner even in districts the most unfavourably situated, and with a marked increase in the comfort and contentment of the resident population. But his special object in now referring to it was to call attention to a particular feature in the present condition of the country—the want of money. Mr. Jones pointed out what a wonderful social change took place in Ireland at the time of the great potato famine, and illustrated this by reference to what occurred in the neighbourhood of Skibbereen. Before that time there was scarcely any need for money in the transactions between tenant-farmers and their labourers, as a complete truck system prevailed. Labourers were paid by having their cabins found for them, with fuel, potato ground, and seed to plant it. Grass was allowed for a certain number of sheep, the wool from which was woven by the women of the family, and partly made up into clothes. But when the potato famine happened the state of things just described was swept away, and everything depending upon the cultivation of the potato was annihilated. A demand grew up for that which did not exist—namely, money, and the demand, according to Mr. Jones, led to the breaking up of an immense number of farm establishments. Labourers having no longer the potato to depend upon were obliged to demand money from their employers, the tenant-farmers, who had no money to give. It was only by the employment of Mr. Jones's capital, and by the patience and skill with which he contended against difficulties, that better times were brought round in his district. And what had thus taken place at Skibbereen was a fair illustration of what occurred in other parts of Ireland. That being so, hon. Members from Ireland not unfairly come forward and say to England,—"Inasmuch as this state of things is to a certain extent the result of your legislation, and of the condition into which you allowed Ireland to get before those changes took place, cannot you, who benefited so greatly by those changes, assist us to what we so urgently require?" Another claim put forward by the people of Ireland had been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member 813 for Calne (Mr. Lowe). They argued that at the very moment when capital was of such vital importance to them it was carried away by an increase of taxation. The right hon. Gentleman said he could not understand the complaint, holding that it made no difference to a rich man, from whom a certain portion of his wealth was taken, whether he was living at the moment in England or in Ireland. It was quite true as far as the individual was concerned, that it made no difference; but he would ask his right hon. Friend whether it did not make all the difference to the country in which he lived, where the portion of his income so abstracted would otherwise have been spent. No doubt a rich man in Ireland was individually as well able as a rich man in England to pay a tax; but the result of subjecting him to the impost was to create a far greater deficiency in the capital available for the employment of labour than that which was created in a richer country such as England. In such a case as that in which Mr. Bence Jones could only improve his land by the liberal application of capital, did not the removal of appreciable portions of that capital for the purposes of imperial expenditure inflict a blow, under whatever name it might be disguised, in lessening the fund applicable to the payment of labour. Last year's Report of the Taxation of Ireland Committee made it clear that within the last ten or twelve years the taxation of the whole country, but especially of Ireland, had rapidly increased; and without troubling the House by reading the paragraph of the draft Report which he laid before the Committee of last year, he might state that the upshot of our present system of taxation had been to increase the taxation of the United Kingdom within that period something like 20 per cent, and they would further find that whereas the taxation of England had increased only 17 per cent, that of Ireland had increased no less than 52 per cent between the years 1851 and 1861. This disproportion had been brought about by laying upon Ireland the burden of the income tax and by heavily increasing the spirit duties, making use at the same time of these two great engines of taxation to relieve the United Kingdom, but more especially England, of particular fiscal impositions. He was not prepared to challenge the course pursued by Parliament either in respect of the taxation laid on, or of that taken off;— 814 neither was he advocating—though some of his remarks might appear to have that tendency—any change in regard to our free trade policy or any return to a policy of protection; but taxation in these two points having pressed so heavily upon the people of Ireland, it was incumbent upon the people of England to take into account the necessity of relieving Ireland in any way they could. With this object in view, what methods were open to them? He might say at once that he was decidedly opposed, and he believed all true friends of Ireland—certainly all who reflected upon the interests of the United Kingdom—would be equally opposed to any measure having for its object to introduce discriminating taxation between the two countries. The mischief of carrying discriminating taxation beyond the point to which it at present existed would overbalance the advantages that Ireland might derive in that respect. With regard to expenditure, in the draught Report which he had laid on the table of the Committee, and to which he had already alluded, he had expressed his opinion that it would be most unwise and imprudent to incur national expenditure in any particular part of the United Kingdom merely for the purpose of creating employment in that locality, unless the expenditure were of a reproductive character. But there were two points to which it was very necessary that more attention should be given than had yet been practicable. One was whether the people in Ireland enjoyed the full advantages of those aids to local taxation which were possessed by England. That question required more attention than it had hitherto received, it had been opened before the Committee last Session, but not fully investigated. The other point was, whether any public aid or facilities could be given for the employment of the public money in works of a reproductive character. They appeared to be all of opinion that to spend money on what were called public works would be unwise and mischievous, as the people to whom the expenditure was intrusted by the Government, having no direct interest in the matter, would probably be wasteful and mischievous. But, on the other hand, the system which had been pursued to a considerable extent already, of making advances to proprietors and others for the improvement of their land might, he thought, be encouraged and extended. The 815 tone of the speeches that had been delivered by those Members of the Government who had spoken in this debate led him to think that it was not altogether impossible that many points connected with the advance of public money would receive some further consideration. The position in which they stood was this. The Committee of last Session appointed to inquire into the Taxation of Ireland sat for the greater portion of the Session and took evidence, but it made no report. He understood that it was probable the Committee would be re-appointed this Session—after that debate he did not see how it could be otherwise—when he thought the suggestion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin should be followed, and the Committee be directed to report on the mode in which advances of public money should be made. Of course it would not be desirable to call upon the Committee to undertake to say how much money should be expended, or what improvements Ireland stood most in need of; but he hoped the Government, on the re-appointment of the Committee, would have no objection to extend the order of reference, so as to allow the Committee to take into its consideration the whole system of public advances and repayments. He trusted that his hon. Friend the Member for the King's County (Mr. Heanessy) would, in that case, consider his object more fully gained after the debate that had taken place than if the House were to pass an abstract resolution. If his hon. Friend should elect to go to a division upon the question as it now stood, he would only confuse the minds of the public, because Gentlemen who agreed together in the main would be found in different lobbies, and the hon. Member would be undoing some of the good that would otherwise be effected by the debate he had originated.
§ MR. CAIRD
said, that the question of emigration was one of the most important that could engage the attention of the House, as would be seen when it appeared that one-third of the population of the sister kingdom and one-tenth of the population of the United Kingdom had emigrated. Allusion had been made to the question of tenant-right as bearing on the present distress of Ireland. Now it appeared that Ulster, where tenant-right prevailed, had contributed to the whole emigration during the last ten years 27 per cent, while Connaught, in which no 816 tenant-right existed, had only contributed 11 per cent. So that they must not look to the establishment of tenant-right for a remedy for the ills of Ireland. Then, with respect to public expenditure. In no part of the United Kingdom had the money of the country been more lavishly employed. Very large sums had been expended in Ireland, and in many cases with great advantage, and yet the expenditure had not prevented emigration. He could not quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) as to the simplicity of the change required—from an agricultural to a pastural system. He agreed that the climate was not suitable to the cultivation of the wheat crop on a large scale; but an immense extent of cereal crops was raised in Ireland, and to say that the sister country ought to adopt a system entirely of pasture would be a more fatal error than to continue the present system of agriculture. Last year the cereal produce of Ireland amounted to 10,600,0000 quarters of corn, chiefly oats. That was one third of the total cereal produce of the United Kingdom. Another article of produce upon which he agreed Ireland had placed too much dependance was the potato. The failure of that crop no doubt led to much of the evil and. misery that existed in Ireland. But the climate of Ireland being moist was extremely favourable to the cultivation of that esculent, and within proper bounds it was a crop of very great value. The produce of potatoes was not less than 3,400,000 tons last year, and the value of these cereal and potato crops last year was not much less than £20,000,000 sterling. In many parts of England and Scotland the farmers were producing less corn and more stock and dairy produce than they ever did before, yet without, at the same time, lessening the employment of labour. They were cultivating green crops and root crops instead of cereal crops to a considerable extent. After land had been laid down in pasture in so moist a climate it required to be broken up to prevent the growth of moss. There was, therefore, no incompatibility between a system of agriculture that raised more cattle and stock and the employment, to a large extent, of the labour of the country. And so in Ireland, while he deprecated any sudden change from one system to another, he thought they might advantageously diminish their cereal produce and increase the stock and dairy produce—and it must 817 be remembered that in the latter they had not to compete with the foreigner. He was told by a gentleman acquainted with Ireland that the rate of wages had scarcely, if at all, increased even in the districts where emigration had been most rife; so that, while the rate of wages was low, the opportunity of employment had not increased. Fifteen years ago he visited Ireland, and saw the position in which the dense agricultural population was placed. It was not to be found in the richer, but in the poorer parts of Ireland, on the edges of bogs, and on bleak hill sides, where in England a large population could scarcely grow up. No one could go to Ballinasloe and see the cattle brought to the fair without being certain that there was a great deal of good land in Ireland. But there was also a vast deal of poor land in the country. Would any one desire that the population of the poorer and denser parts of Ireland should remain in their wretchedness? He had seen the same class of people in the Western States of America, and he found them ruddy and rich, getting on well, and sending for their friends to join them. He said it was not desirable they should be prevented from improving their condition. The loss of so many inhabitants was not a loss to Ireland simply; it was a national loss. The hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop) had spoken with too much complacency of the comparative welfare of Scotland. The fact was, Ireland depended solely upon her agricultural resources; Scotland, like England, had rich mineral wealth, which encouraged and sustained the population which was drifted into her towns. The hon. Member had spoken with great propriety of the great advances which the town with which he was connected had made, and, pointing to Ireland, said, "Why can't you do so too?" But Ireland had not rich mineral districts to feed her manufactures. That was the great distinction between Ireland on the one hand and England and Scotland on the other. What he would desire to see was the bonds of union drawn closer between Ireland and the sister kingdoms, that Ireland should really become an integral part of the United Kingdom, and that her counties should be as it were English and Scotch counties. If the present condition of Ireland were looked upon as a national loss, he had no doubt that they would be able to come to an understanding as to the remedy. He agreed with 818 what had fallen from the hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote) in the later part of his speech—that there was great room for extensive improvements. They had a precedent in this country for offering reproductive loans for purposes in which it could be shown that benefit would arise. He would not speak of the waste lands. He did not agree with the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) that there were any waste lands in Ireland which by an expenditure of £7 could be made worth 30s. an acre. If the hon. Member could show him such lands, he (Mr. Caird) would engage to get plenty to take them in hand. When the hon. Gentleman said that 58,000 acres had gone out of cultivation last year, that fact showed that there was plenty of good land which could be improved, and if loans were properly applied to it, on the conditions upon which they had been applied in England and Scotland, so that the money should be repaid, he had no doubt whatever that it might be done with great public advantage. He was quite sure that this country would cordially agree to any measure which should be for the benefit of Ireland.
§ MR. PEACOCKE
congratulated the hon. Member for the King's County, inasmuch as his speech had extracted from the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department an acknowledgment of that which had been denied by the Secretary for Ireland—namely, that some distress prevailed in that country. Every hon. Gentleman, he believed, acknowledged the existence of that distress, except the Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had both thought proper to attack his noble Friend (Lord Robert Cecil), and to charge him with saying what he had never said—that the present distress was owing to the Government. But what his noble Friend had said was that this country had incurred a heavy debt to Ireland for her past misgovernment, and that Parliament ought, therefore, to depart from the strict application of economical rules in her favour. He (Mr. Peacocke) was very much inclined to partially endorse this view, because he believed that the policy of this country for years had been that of increasing her own manufactures at the expense of those of Ireland. Nor had England been content with endeavouring 819 to destroy the Irish manufactures, for she had also endeavoured to render the cultivation of the soil of Ireland impossible. Some of the disabilities under which we had placed the population of Ireland were of the most extraordinary and unjust character. One of the statutes of Queen Anne, passed 4th May, 1704, and called an Act to prevent the further growth of Popery, actually said that no Catholic—and Catholics comprised at the time six-sevenths of the population—should be capable of purchasing land in Ireland, that no Catholic should enjoy a lease of land for more than thirty-one years, and further, that if the profit arising from any farm should exceed one-third of its rent the interest of the Catholic should cease, and it should become the property of the Protestant who should make the discovery. Was not any such legislation enough to render the cultivation of the soil hopeless and impossible? He would repeat, then, that there was a heavy debt due on the part of this country to Ireland. He would read to the House the opinion of an eminent authority, Arthur Young, given on this subject in 1788. He said—The fact is, the professors of the Catholic religion are under such discouragement that they cannot engage in any trade which requires both industry and capital. If they succeed and make a fortune, what are they to do with it? They can neither buy land nor take a mortgage, nor even fine down the rent of a lease. Where is there a people in the world to be found industrious under such circumstances?And again—I have conversed on the subject with the most distinguished characters of the kingdom, and I cannot, after all, but declare that the scope, purport, and aim of the laws of discovery, as executed, are not against the Catholic religion, which increases under them, but against the industry and property of whoever professes that religion. In vain has it been said that consequence and power follow property, and that the attack is made in order to wound the doctrine through its property. If such was the intention, I reply that ninety years' experience proves the folly and futility of it. Those laws have crushed all the industry and wrested most of the property from the Catholics, but the religion triumphs, and is thought to increase.That was the opinion of an unbiassed and most intelligent witness; and when they looked to history they found from the time of Cromwell to the Union the action of this country towards Ireland had been one continued process of barbarity and injustice, and he believed that in the present disaffection of the Irish population England was reaping that harvest of wrong 820 which she had scattered broadcast over the land. But the practical question for the House now was whether the Motion of his hon. Friend was calculated to discharge the debt which was due from England. He believed it was not. The Motion proposed that the Government, by a system of public advances, should step in and give employment, in other words, artificially to keep at home a supply of labour beyond the natural demand for it. But the natural consequence of stimulating the supply of any article beyond its legitimate demand was to depreciate its value. If, then, they were to stimulate the supply of labour beyond the legitimate demand, they would depreciate its value. But that was not what his hon. Friend desired. If Ireland was to be regenerated at all, it would not be by a system of Government grants and loans, but by the industry, the energy, and the self-reliance of its own population.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, that at that late hour, and after so protracted a debate, he would not trespass on the patience of the House, but would reserve for another occasion, which he believed would soon offer, more lengthened observations. He was desirous, however, of setting the House right on a few matters which, owing to remarks of two of the last speakers, they might adopt erroneous opinions about. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had complained that "while the Mover of the Resolution expressed a desire for equal laws for England and Ireland, still that he suggested a law for Ireland relative to the tenure of land which would not be tolerated in England." Fortunately for England, the relations between landlord and tenant in England did not render such a law necessary; and his hon. Friend only wished that in Ireland that should obtain the force of law which custom and public opinion really made law in England. The state of things which the right hon. Baronet described as existing in England had unfortunately, with few exceptions, no parallel in Ireland. All that he and those who acted with him desired was to have it so, and the House would not be troubled with their complaints. The hon. Member for Stirling had drawn attention to the fact, that in the province of Ulster, where tenant-right existed, there was 27½ per cent of emigration by last return, and only 11½ from Connaught, where there was no tenant-right. The reason was very easy 821 of explanation. The latter province, owing to its mountainous character, was more thinly populated, and had suffered most during the famine years. Death from starvation had swept away the people there in tens of thousands; in the years following as many emigrated as could do, and few were left who could afford to leave. It should also be borne in mind that not more than half the Ulster counties had tenant-right in operation, and some of them, like Donegal, were very poor. The emigration that took place from the counties having tenant-right in operation, consisted, in a great degree, of young men, sons of people of fair means, for whom there might not be room to get on as satisfactorily at home as the elder portion of the family, and therefore wished to push their fortunes elsewhere, being usually provided with good means to do so. They resembled the German emigrants very much. Ireland was now reduced to nearly five millions of inhabitants—once it had close on nine. Under the present land system he believed it could not fairly support more than three millions, and to that it was fast coming. Competent authorities declared that the land, under a proper system of culture, could support four times that number. It was manifestly the duty of Parliament to ascertain, so far as they could, if such was the fact, and if so, to devise means, consistently with the rights of property, to develope properly the resources of the soil. He believed it would be found that the real way to do that would be to give the cultivator due protection for a fair share in the improved value which his labour conferred on the soil. The hon. Member for Dungarvan would in a few weeks propose to the House to appoint a Select Committee to consider all the Land Bills which had passed the House, with a view of devising one practical Bill. In justice they ought to concede that. If his hon. Friend pressed his Motion to a division, he would, of course, vote with him; but he hoped the Government would make some fair proposition to prevent the necessity of his doing so.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, whatever differences of opinion may have been expressed in the course of this discussion with reference to particular details, everybody must agree that the subject is one of the deepest possible interest; and also in the fact, that I am happy to observe, that the debate has been conducted in the most temperate and creditable manner. 822 The hon. Member for the King's County, who moved the Amendment, set the example, and it has been followed by those who have succeeded him; and although it often happens that in this House debates upon Irish questions are conducted with, perhaps, more effervescence than may be considered fitting, this is certainly an example to the contrary; and I trust that from henceforward our discussions on Irish affairs will be conducted with the same temper and moderation as have been exhibited on the present occasion. Sir, the objects of the Amendment are twofold—first, it asks the House to lament the diminution of the population of Ireland; and, next, it seeks to pledge the House and the Government to take steps to remedy this state of things. The foundation of the Motion is the assumption that great distress prevails in Ireland. Undoubtedly there is distress in many parts of the country; but, at the same time, I would beg the House to recollect that four years ago everybody was congratulating himself upon the progressive improvement of Ireland, that it has only been the occurrence of three years of bad and unfavourable seasons which has thrown the country back and occasioned a period of much distress, and that although that result has unfortunately occurred, it must unquestionably be admitted that the last year was one of a different character, and in some degree recovered Ireland from the distress from which it had suffered in the preceding years. I do not wish to overstate anything connected with the reviving gleam of prosperity in Ireland. We will admit—which cannot be denied—that there is in the condition of Ireland much to be deplored, and which we should wish to be able to remedy. As to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's Motion, lamenting the decline in the number of the population, unquestionably in the abstract it must be a source of regret to see the people of any country flying from their native shores and seeking elsewhere those advantages which they are unable to find at home. But some years ago the great evil of Ireland was represented to be a too redundant population, and the chief remedy which was then universally recommended was an extensive emigration. It is undoubtedly painful to contemplate the causes which lead to emigration. Emigration in itself is no evil. If those who emigrate find in another country a better condition than they enjoyed in their own, they be- 823 come happier, their welfare is increased, and, besides that, the condition of those who stay behind is improved by the circumstance that a smaller number of persons are left to enjoy the advantages which their native country may possess. That which we lament with regard to the emigration is that, unfortunately, the condition of Ireland is such that the people are able to find elsewhere a better state of things than exists at home. Hon. Gentlemen have assigned various reasons for this unfortunate state of things. I believe that one great and almost paramount reason is that which has been assigned by my right hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Lowe)—the peculiarity of the climate. Ireland is said by many to be a most fertile country. No doubt, there are in it great tracts of very fertile land—land far more fertile than many parts of either England or Scotland. I know land in Ireland on which it is said that grain crops have been raised for sixteen years in succession, which cannot be said of any part of Great Britain. But there are also in Ireland great quantities of land which are wholly unproductive—bog and mountain—and that ought to be taken into consideration when you calculate the population which the superficial area of the island is able to support. You cannot expect that any artificial remedies which legislators can invent can counteract the laws of nature, and keep in one country a population which finds it to its advantage to emigrate to another. It is impossible. Things will find their level; and until by some means or other there shall be provided in Ireland the same remuneration for labour, and the same inducements to remain which are afforded by other countries, you cannot by any laws which you can devise prevent the people from seeking elsewhere a better condition of things than exists in their own country. We are told that tenant-right and a great many other things will do it. None of these things will have the slightest effect. As to tenant-right, I may be allowed to say that I think it is equivalent to landlords' wrong. Tenant-right, as I understand it to be proposed, would be little short of confiscation; and although that might cause the landlords to emigrate, it certainly would not keep the tenants at home. The real question is, how can you create in Ireland that demand and reward for labour which would render the people of Ireland willing to remain at home, instead 824 of emigrating to England or Scotland on the one hand, or to the North American States on the other? Well, in my mind, nothing can do that except the influx of capital. Ireland has many advantages for the profitable employment of capital, but hitherto manufactures have taken but little root there. It is said that in Ireland there is no coal; but there is coal there—not in great abundance, but enough to supply manufactories to a certain extent. There is also a great deal of water-power in Ireland, and we all know that water-power is for many purposes better and cheaper than steam. What is it, then, which has hitherto prevented the influx of capital into Ireland? Why, it is the double notion, first that Ireland does not afford the same means for the profitable employment of capital that exist in England and Scotland; and, secondly, that there is not the same security for its safe employment in Ireland. Therefore, the concluding observations of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) ought to sink deep into the mind of every Irishman. Hitherto, the political and religious feuds which have prevailed in Ireland have created exaggerated notions in this country of the insecurity which attends the employment of capital in Ireland. If the capitalists of England and Scotland could be well persuaded that they would find in Ireland not only cheap labour and the means of working their machinery, but the same security for themselves and their capital which exists in this country, there could' be no reason why capital which seeks employment in the most distant regions of the earth should not go over to Ireland and there find profitable employment for itself, and also improve the condition of the people. There cannot be a greater mistake than to suppose that commercial capital cannot be profitably and securely employed in Ireland; and whenever that conviction shall implant itself deeply in the minds of capitalists one great source of the poverty of Ireland will be removed, and from that time we may date a progressive advancement in the condition of the people. The improvement of agriculture cannot prevent emigration, because one source of the poverty of Ireland is to be found in the minute subdivision of holdings. What improvement can a man make upon his land who holds only five, six, or ten acres, and has no capital except his own labour and that of his family? No 825 great improvement can be made in the agriculture of Ireland without the displacement of part of the population, and, therefore, agricultural improvements, so far from materially checking emigration, would in some respects contribute to its increase. Nevertheless, much additional employment may be found for the people in some parts of the country by the application of additional capital. If by private enterprise, these improvements can be made; if, by means of advances to be repaid in a certain number of years, landowners can be enabled to undertake operations for which their existing means will not provide, any such proposal would be one which it would be very desirable should be considered, and if it were adopted in a shape free from objection, it must undoubtedly have a very beneficial effect upon the condition of Ireland. At the same time I would humbly remind landlords that the power of borrowing is one which it is very tempting to employ, but that the time for repayment must come; and therefore any landowner would do well to consider carefully what are the prospects of a remunerative return upon the capital to be employed before contracting a debt either with the Government or with any private company. With regard to the first part of the Resolution, therefore, I say that it is impossible to adopt the naked assertion that we lament the decline of the population of Ireland. That is a complicated question. We lament that the population of Ireland should find it more to their advantage to emigrate than to remain at home; but if that is the result of a state of things such as I have described we cannot lament that those who are in a bad condition at homo should find a better state of things by emigration. With regard to the second part of the Resolution, as to grants—I think that the feeling of the House has been decidedly expressed against gratuitous advances of money by the State for the purpose of local improvements. With reference to advances to be repaid, there are companies which have been established for the very purpose of making loans for agricultural improvements; and I apprehend that if good security were offered to them, and a fair prospect were shown of the remunerative employment of capital, from these private companies much assistance might be obtained. The hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford North-cote) suggested that the Committee of last 826 year should be re-appointed for the purpose of inquiring how far reproductive advances from the public funds might be extended in Ireland to purposes of local improvement. I am not prepared to give a decided opinion upon a proposal of this sort until I see the particular terms of the order of reference proposed, and the Government are able to understand exactly its bearings. But it is a proposal fairly entitled to consideration. I can only say that the Government fully share the feeling of deep interest and sympathy that has been expressed towards Ireland by all who have spoken in this debate. It is impossible for any man to know anything of the Irish people without wishing them every happiness which can be conferred upon them. They are a light-hearted and a warm-hearted race; they are most industrious too, wherever they can see the prospect that by industry they will get the reward to which industry entitles men. It is quite a mistake to suppose that the Irish are an idle race, unwilling to labour, and not prepared to make great exertions for the sake of accomplishing any legitimate object. They are a people for whom every man who knows them must entertain the utmost sympathy and must feel the strongest desire that they should enjoy every advantage which can be conferred upon them by legislation or by any artificial arrangements which it is in the power of the Government or of Parliament to make. Therefore, it is unnecessary for me to say that the Government of this country would be most anxious to consider any proposals that were founded upon a reasonable prospect that they would tend to improve the condition of Ireland. Though, undoubtedly, much that has passed in this debate must inspire pain to those who have heard it—I mean as far as relates to the unfortunate condition of many parts of Ireland, and the distress which we cannot deny exists there—still, I think that no man can look at Ireland without entertaining feelings of hope. It is demonstrable that if you compare the state of the country now with what it was thirty or forty years ago, there is a great, a visible, and a general improvement, and that improvement is calculated to inspire a reasonable hope that in the course of time that progress will be accelerated and rendered more rapid than it has hitherto been. I imagine that the hon. Member who made this Motion will not think it necessary to divide upon it. I 827 think the debate which has taken place must satisfy him of the feeling both of the House and of the Government on this question, and probably he will rest satisfied with having elicited opinions which in many respects coincide with those temperate views which he has himself expressed. If the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Dunne) or any other Member should propose to re-appoint the Committee of last year, with a view to a more extensive range of inquiry, we shall be ready to consider such a proposal. Of course, our adoption of it will depend upon the wording of the reference; but we shall consider such a proposal with an earnest desire to find in it some way of remedying the existing evils, or, I should rather say, of assisting Ireland in extricating herself from the condition in which she is, too truly, I fear, represented by many persons as now being.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he had heard the concluding words of the noble Lord with great pleasure, and hoped the House might infer therefrom that the Government acceded to the proposal made by his hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote). If this was so, he could only hope that the hon. Member (Mr. Hennessy) would be satisfied with the peaceable victory he had gained, not over the Government, but by a debate which, during its progress, acted upon Gentlemen who had assembled to hear it without the least reference to party, and with the sole object of devising some means of remedying evils which all acknowledged and which all deplored. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not press the Motion to a division.
§ MR. HENNESSY
asked whether the noble Viscount accepted the interpretation just put upon his speech by the noble Lord, and whether the Government would consent to the re-appointment of the Committee on Irish Taxation with the addition of such an order of reference as was described by the hon. Baronet the Member for Stamford.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
What I meant to say was that if any hon. Member would propose the re-appointment of the Committee and would state the order of reference proposed, we should look at such a Motion with a strong disposition and desire to adopt anything which, while it did not commit the Government to any pecuniary obligations, held out the prospect of devising means likely to improve the condition of Ireland.
§ MR. HENNESSY
did not clearly understand, from what the noble Viscount had just said, that Her Majesty's Government would agree to the proposal; and therefore he must divide.
§ Question "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 107; Noes 31: Majority 76.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.829
|Angerstein, W.||Layard, A. H.|
|Antrobus, E.||Lefevre, G. J. S.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Lefroy, A.|
|Baring, T. G.||Lee, W.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Bazley, T.||Miller, T. J.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.|
|Beaumont, S. A.||Morris, W.|
|Bentinck, G. W. P.||Mundy, W.|
|Black, A.||Padmore, R.|
|Blackburn, P.||Paget, C.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Boyle, hon. G. F.||Palmer, Sir R.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.||Peacocke, G. M. W.|
|Buxton, C.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Caird, J.||Peel, rt. hon. F.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Peel, J.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Peto, Sir S. M.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Pilkington, J.|
|Clifton, Sir R. J.||Potter, E.|
|Clive, G.||Pritchard, J.|
|Collier, Sir R. P.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Russell, A.|
|Dalglish, R.||Russell, Sir W.|
|Davey, R.||Schneider, H. W.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Dodson, J. G.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Douglas, Sir C.||Seymour, H. D.|
|Duff, Mount. E. G.||Seymour, A.|
|Dunbar, Sir W.||Smith, A.|
|Dunlop, A. M.||Smith, J. A.|
|Enfield, Viscount||Stansfeld, J.|
|Ewing, H. E. C.||Steel, J.|
|Fane, Colonel J. W.||Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.|
|Fitzroy, Lord F. J.||Sykes, Colonel W. H.|
|Foley, H. W.||Tite, W.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Tollemache, J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W.||Tracy, hon. C. R. D. H.|
|Goschen, G. J.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Gurney, S.||hon. G.|
|Hankey, T.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Warner, E.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||White, hon. L.|
|Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Henderson, J.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Henley, Lord||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Howes, E.||Wyld, J.|
|Hutt, rt. hon. W.||Torke, J. R.|
|Johnstone, Sir J.||Brand, hon. H. B. W.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Knatchbull-Hugessen, E.|
|Lacon, Sir E.|
|Annesley, Col. hon. H.||Lever, J. O.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Longfield, R.|
|Blake, J. A.||MacEvoy, E.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Moor, H.|
|Cecil, Lord R.||Murphy, N. D.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Neate, C.|
|Cox, W.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Damer, S. D.||O'Reilly, M. W.|
|Doulton, F.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Dunne, Colonel||Russell, F. W.|
|Fleming, T. W.||Sturt, Lt.-Col. N.|
|Gavin, Major||Tottenham, Lt.-Col. C. G.|
|George, J.||Watkin, E. W.|
|Gregory, W. H.|
|Greville, Colonel F.||TELLERS.|
|Hassard, M.||Hennessy, J. P.|
|Leader, N. P.||Long, W.|
|Lennox, Lord G. G.|