§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [5th February].—[See page 69.]
And which Amendment was,
At the end of the Question, to add the words "We also think it right to represent to Your Majesty that Your Majesty's Government, although in possession of timely warning and information, have not taken adequate steps to meet promptly and efficaciously the severe distress now existing and increasing in Ireland; and we are of opinion that, in order to avert the horrors of famine from a wide area in that Country, the most vigorous measures are immediately necessary; and we are further of opinion that it is essential to the peace and prosperity of Ireland to legislate at once and in a comprehensive manner on these questions; and we humbly assure Your Majesty that we shall regard it as the duty of Parliament, on the earliest opportunity, to consider the necessary measures for the purpose, more urgently the tenure of land, the neglect of which by Parliament has been the true cause of constantly recurring dissatisfaction and distress in Ireland."—(Mr. Redmond.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
If the debate on the Amendment to the Address proposed by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) had been brought to a close last night—as the Government not unnaturally desired—there would have been the fact in connection with the debate which would have called for remark outside, and that is, though the discussion lasted two days, not one non-official English Member, with the exception of the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hermon), took part in it. I think that silence may be attributed to two causes. In the first place, it arises out of the circumstances under which the Amendment has been introduced to the House; and, in the second place, because it had been drawn up on the other side of the House by the Irish Party, without the slightest concert with other Members. There seems to be the impression that no Englishman can express sympathy with Ireland or the Irish Members, or can co-operate with the Irish National Party for common objects, without its being supposed that he is tainted more or less with the terrible disease of Home Rule. In fact, the highest authority had characterized the man who did so as a traitor to his Queen and to his country. [Cheers.] I take that cheer as an emphasis of the statement. [Sir WILLIAM FRASER: No, no!] I am very glad I was mistaken; because I should, be very sorry that it should go forth to the Irish people that in the House sympathy with them is equivalent and tantamount to a political crime. In the speeches made of late, and in the articles in the organs of the Conservative Party, there has been something like an attempt to terrorize over the English Members, and to prevent them exhibiting the sympathy which they feel on Irish questions. This comes with extremely bad grace, for the Conservative Party have for years past played with every political agitation that has been excited. It was the Members of that Party who denounced, for instance, the agitation for the extension of the franchise, and then came over and granted it. It was they who denounced the proceedings of the trades unions and the object of those bodies; and it was they who, when they came into power, conceded to trades unions almost everything which they had previously condemned. Lastly, they had played into the hands of the publicans, and 389 contracted with them a degrading alliance. I have never voted for inquiry into Home Rule, and I do not intend to do so; but, at the same time, I have not the slightest notion of blaming those who think differently and act honestly in the matter. For the last century we have been governing Ireland against its will, and not, I am afraid, to the advantage of this country. The Representatives of the Irish people ask us to concede to them what has been conceded to America, our own Colonies, and Canada, and say—"You may depend upon our loyalty and devotion to the Crown, and strict friendship with the English people." Under the existing system, in the early part of the connection between the two countries, the Irish nation suffered very grievous oppression and tyranny, which imperilled the prosperity of the country; and even at the present moment we know that they are suffering from disabilities, from disqualifications, from unequal laws, and from abuses which it is the duty of the House to consider and to remedy. And the only justification which I can allege for refusing to vote for Home Rule, or for an inquiry into its necessity, is this—that while I agree with what I believe to be the ends and objects which Home Rule is believed by the Irish Members to be likely to secure, I differ altogether with the means by which they propose to secure those ends and aims. I am willing to assist to redress any real grievance the Irish people have, and to make—as we ought to be ready to make—due allowance for the different sentiments between the English and Irish people. It seems to me that in the Amendment before the House there is an opportunity afforded to English Members to show in a practical form our sympathy with the Irish people by supporting it. What does the Amendment affirm? It affirms, for one thing, that the neglect of reform in the land tenure of Ireland is the cause of all this distress, and of the distress which so constantly occurs. I imagine that there will be a very general agreement on the point. I am not going to answer the various proposals for land tenure which have been placed before the House; but will be content with referring to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and my right hon. Colleague (Mr. Bright). If the scheme 390 suggested by these hon. Gentlemen wore carried out, that would, no doubt, have the effect of so far changing the tenure of land in Ireland as to make a large number of those who are tenants owners of the soil. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) told them the other night that the peasants of Ireland are now starving, and asked if it is conceivable that if they were owners of the soil they would be in any better position? The result of the experiments which have been made on a very considerable scale are altogether inconsistent with the contention of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Eight hundred tenants have become owners under the Bright Clauses of the Land Act, and 5,000 under the Church Act. Of the 800, up to the present time only 16 or 20 have failed to pay their instalments, even in the extraordinary time of distress; and of the 5,000, I am told that the number of defaulters is not a bit greater than the percentage of the richer landlords who have received grants in aid of drainage works and other improvements. Can anything be more satisfactory than that? The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin has asked what the Irish tenants would do if they had not their landlords? But all landlords are not of the type described by the hon. and learned Member. There are absentee landlords, represented by agents, and there are bad landlords. Under the circumstances, it seems to me that the House will be acting consistently with what it has done in the past if it now accepts the latter part of the Amendment—that which has reference to the reform of land tenure. But since the discussion has largely turned upon the other portion of the Resolution, which says, in effect, that the measures that have been taken by the Government are inadequate, and that other measures are urgently necessary, after the debate last night, I venture to say that the Government stand self-convicted. I will show that the measures they have taken were inadequate. They were warned in the early autumn that this distress was impending over Ireland. They were warned by the Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland, during the Recess, and they were warned by a Memorial signed by 70 of the Irish Members; but these 391 warnings wore disbelieved; they were even ridiculed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who pointed to the large sums in the savings banks as a proof that there could not be any distress impending. I think it is perfectly clear that they have failed to adopt proper measures because of their not giving credence to the warnings; and, in doing so they have justly and properly laid themselves open to the censure of the House. The Attorney General for Ireland said there are three facts which show that the Government has dealt practically and with vigour. In the first place, the dread of a fuel famine has fortunately passed away. But, in the name of common sense, are the Government going to take credit for the providential dispensation by which the fuel of the Irish people has been saved? As Sheridan said, when the Prince Regent took credit for measures with which he had nothing to do—"Yes; but what His Royal Highness particularly prides himself upon is the late excellent harvest." The Attorney General also argued that there was not a single workhouse full at the present time. Now, considering that everyone who knows anything about Ireland agrees in saying that the Irish people have a rooted terror of the workhouse, it is not surprising that many of them would even prefer death by starvation rather than go to the workhouse. The next statement of the Attorney General was more important. He says that not a single death has been authenticated as having occurred up to the present time in consequence of starvation or famine. Well, if this be true, and I assume that it is true—I believe my hon. Friends around me admit it—and if it be the work of the Government, and if it can be distinctly shown to result from the measures which they have taken, I will at once exonerate them from censure. What has been the action of the Government? Will any hon. Gentleman point to anything they have done which has saved the life of a single man in Ireland during the distress? Now, I would like to go into this matter a little more in detail. The Government do not seem certain of the position they have taken up. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) referred last night to one or two things which he supposed 392 they had done, and on account of which he was disposed to relieve them from all blame; but the Government got up and denied that they had done these particular things. The language of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the first night of the Session left this impression on my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. In the first place, my right hon. Friend referred to the fact that the Government had relaxed the provisions of the Poor Law; and I certainly understood from the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that some measure of that kind had been adopted by the Government. But now we have the assurance of the Chief Secretary for Ireland that nothing of the kind has been done. Again, my right hon. Friend alluded to the accumulation of stores of food and fuel, which he considered was a matter of great importance, and which I think will yet be required to save the Irish people from death. The Chancellor of the Exchequer immediately rose and stated that this had not been done. They had only suggested it to Boards of Guardians, but it had not been carried out. From the report inThe Timesof his speech on Thursday, I find the Chancellor of the Exchequer said—We have also directed our attention to another matter of great importance, that of outdoor relief.Now, Sir, I ask the Government, in the first place, to tell me where, in the Correspondence, there appears the letter in which the Government warned the Boards of Guardians of the desirability of accumulating food and fuel? Of course, after the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I know this Correspondence does exist; and, as it has been quoted, I take it for granted that the Government will be prepared to lay it on the Table. There is another question to which I wish to call attention. How is it that every Board of Guardians throughout the whole length and breadth of Ireland simultaneously agreed that they would not provide stores of food and fuel? One would have thought that out of the hundreds some of them would have made this provision for their starving fellow-countrymen. It is extraordinary that it did not occur to one of the Boards to accumulate food and fuel, as suggested. It is perfectly clear that the fact that no Irish people 393 have died of starvation is not due to the stores of food and fuel which Her Majesty's Government thought of providing. Then" there remains another provision which the Government are said to have made. They have made arrangements under which applications have been received for loans amounting to £284,000. But how many of those applications have been complied with? How much money has been granted? The Circular of the Chief Secretary states that two instalments of the loan must be asked for and received before July 30. Well, then, how many of those instalments have been paid, and how much money has been put into the hands of the people who have asked for the loans? It will be correct to say that not more than £10,000,—probably not more than £1,000—has been expended up to the present time in relief works, so that the magnificent exertions of the Government amount to this—they have caused to be expended for the relief of the poor in Ireland less than the tenth of the sum which has been expended in private charity through the various charitable funds. Then, again, what is the charge made against the Government? It is not that they are charged with allowing deaths by actual starvation up to the present time; they are charged with not taking steps to prevent the deaths which would have taken place but for private charity; they are charged with having allowed a number of the Irish people to be so reduced by starvation that if an epidemic were now to occur the people would be swept away by tens of thousands. To this charge no adequate reply has been made. But then, it is asked, what more ought the Government to have done than they have done? Well, they should have done what they have done earlier than they have done it. They knew that, under the system of loans for improvements which they adopted, no considerable work of this kind could be carried out in less than six months, and yet they allowed six months to elapse without steps to relieve the people after they had received warning of what was coming on the country. Then they have not taken the right means to relieve the distress. What is their proposal? In order to relieve the distress of the tenants they make grants to the landlords. That is surely a great 394 mistake. Is it not conceivable that, to put an extreme case, a speculator may take advantage of the proposal to lend money at 1 per cent, may obtain possession of a large tract of land, spend £10,000 or £20,000 in drainage, and then sell it four or five years afterwards for a profit of £100,000, which he would have taken out of the Church Surplus? It may be said that care will be taken that speculators do not receive these loans, but onlybonâ fidelandlords; but how are you to prevent bad landlords raising the value of their property, and then racking their tenants again, with the produce of the money that you have lent them at the expense of the people of Ireland or of the Church Fund? Such a course would only be justifiable if the necessity wore so extreme that the Government were obliged to take all the plans that occurred and work them all together. But that is not the case, for the Government have neither accumulated stores of fuel nor relaxed the Poor Law. In fact, the Government are utterly inconsistent. They have not done what they ought to have done, and they have done what they ought not to have done. Take the precedents of the Indian Famine and the Lancashire Cotton Famine. In India we did not grant money to the Zemindars to improve their property, but granted money for public works, to be carried out under public supervision for the benefit of the district and not of the landlords. What did the experienced men who administered the cotton famine private fund do for the relief of the district? They established public works, and did not grant a penny to a Lancashire manufacturer to improve his machinery or build a new mill. Had they done so, the flow of private charity would soon have stopped, as it should have done. The Government might also have granted, not only seed potatoes, but seeds of all kinds to re-stock the land for the benefit of the people. That was found the most beneficial and the least pauperizing way of relieving the distress of the French peasants after the Franco-German War and the inundations. There is reason to fear that it may now be too late to do this; but, still, it is to be hoped that the subject will receive the serious and earnest consideration of the Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford 395 has expressed an opinion that it is undesirable to censure the Government, but that the House should rather relieve them from the responsibility they have incurred. Well, without questioning the wisdom of the advice, it may be offered to hon. Gentlemen opposite as another open question in the Liberal Party. But it must be borne in mind that it will be no satisfaction to the people who are perishing from starvation to tell them that if they perish the House of Commons will hereafter censure the Government. It seems far better the House should impress on the Government a due sense of the gravity of the occasion by censuring them for what they have neglected in the past. They have not done enough, and what they have done they have done badly. They have shown a disposition to tide over the question with temporary expedients, and to ignore the real root of the mischief which lies in the system under which the Irish cultivator is deprived of any incentive to thrift, and of any real interest in the profit of the land. I shall give my vote in support of the Amendment.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT,
referring to the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, said, they would have more than enough to occupy them for many nights if they were to go into that vast, most difficult, most unfortunate question—the Irish Land Question. When the hon. Member rose he expected to hear from him a speech on the subject of the distress, and not one about the extraneous matters which the hon. Member had referred to. He could agree with the hon. Member, when he said that the Government would not be open to blame if it could be shown that no deaths had, up to this moment, arisen from actual starvation; and, as a matter of fact, no deaths from starvation had up to that time occurred. As to the speech delivered yesterday by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, he was of opinion that it must have commended itself to all who had heard it; and he believed that the views of the noble Lord with regard to the distress would be felt to be true by the great majority of the people of the United Kingdom. He had risen to express his conviction that everyone who sat in that House took as much interest as could be felt by any man in the welfare and well- 396 being of Ireland. He had been present in Ireland during the famine-time between 1845 and 1847, and he could testify to the horror and dismay which it occasioned. The scenes which he then beheld were of such a nature as to cause him to feel the deepest sympathy with Ireland on the present occasion. They must all approach the question with every desire to do justice to Ireland, and to alleviate the distress which was now raging in certain parts of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) had said that the Government should at once have taken in hand the construction of public works in that country. Now he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) thought that the Government would have acted precipitately if they had gone into these works without considering whether they would have been of advantage to the country; because he had seen with his own eyes how money had been absolutely wasted during the Famine of 1846 and 1847, when, in all directions, absolutely nothing was done by the men who were employed, and paid by the day, the works not being done by contract. These men simply did as little as possible. One particular case he remembered where men would neither work nor go into the Union workhouse, but demanded out-door relief. Their application haying been refused, a violent attack had been made on the authorities of a Union workhouse; and he, among others, had been engaged in quelling the disturbance. Was that, he would ask, a state of things which hon. Gentlemen opposite would like to see recur? He was, of course, perfectly well aware that great distress existed in certain portions of Ireland; but it could not be denied that since 1849 the prosperity of the country generally had greatly increased, and that there were portions of it in a better condition than a large part of the agricultural districts in this country. In Mayo there was an estate of something like 8,000 acres, with 250 tenants, who each paid not more than£210s.a-year in the shape of rent, and he should like to know how they were to live? Was it matter for wonder that properties of that kind were subjected to intermittent famine? His hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) must know perfectly well that whatever amount of re- 397 lief was given, to people so situated distress must again come upon them unless something were done to raise them to a different position. He agreed with the noble Lord at the head of the Opposition, and also with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), that the sole responsibility in this question rested with the Government; and he maintained that their action had been throughout judicious and prudent. He should, he might add, like to know whether everything that was possible had been done in Ireland itself to alleviate the distress; because private charity ought, he thought, to step in before the public funds were expended for the purpose. He was well aware that the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had done his duty in that direction well and nobly; but every landlord was not in the same position, and he must know that those whom he relieved had been for generations in a state of chronic misery. As to the Government, he was of opinion that, while taking care not to go too fast, they ought even to strain a point in order to place themselves in a position to meet every emergency as it arose. Their duty was to prevent the people from being starved, while taking care that the public money was not lavishly and recklessly expended.
§ MR. LAW
said, that no one could doubt that the Government had a sin-core desire to prevent the more serious consequences of famine; but, still, it seemed to him that Irish Members might be pardoned if they felt a little more anxious upon the subject than right hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Irish Local Government Board had, in their Reports, informed the Government, as early as the end of October, that the yield of the potato crop in Ireland would not be more than one-half, although they stated that the crop of oats was likely to be abundant. To the poor tenants, however, the former crop was everything; and now it appeared from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that last year's potato crop was only about one-third of the average, which really meant that in the less favoured parts of the country—as, for example, the Western seaboard—the crop had almost entirely failed. The result, then, being an almost complete failure of the crop, particularly in the West of 398 Ireland, the question was not so much one for the future as for the present, and no time must be lost in dealing with the impending starvation. More effective measures were necessary, and something more was required than correspondence. If the Government had given directions that the harsh and cruel provisions of the Irish Poor Law, practically forbidding all out-door relief to the able-bodied, might be relaxed, the alarm which was felt as to the condition of the country would have been very much relieved. The Government, indeed, seemed, notwithstanding all the warnings they had received, to have determined, even as lately as the middle of November, that there should be no such out-door relief; thus showing how little they had realized the probable intensity of the distress. But if, when they had at last made up their minds that they would take prompt measures of relief, they had announced that outdoor relief might be given to the suffering farmers, it would have given much satisfaction. Now, it was with reference to this matter that he chiefly rose; because he did not believe that hon. Gentlemen were at all aware of the very great difference that existed in the Poor Law systems of England and Ireland. In England the Guardians had what he might call absolute discretion; they might give out-door relief or in-door relief just as they liked, with this restriction—that as regarded able-bodied persons half the relief should be in food, and they must employ the labour test. But even that they might dispense with for a certain time if they so reported to the Local Government Board; so that in England they had complete means of dealing with the necessities of the people according as distress arose. But how was it in Ireland? In consequence of certain hard cast-iron rules, neither the Guardians nor the Local Government Board had practically any power to order out-door relief to able-bodied men. The Guardians in Ireland might give such relief to persons permanently disabled, or suffering from severe disease—it was curious that intensive adjectives were so frequently applied in Irish matters—or to a widow with two or more children. But they were unable to give one atom of relief to any able-bodied person unless the workhouse was full, or contained within 399 its walls such infectious disease as would render it dangerous to send any person into it. That appeared to him to be a state of the law which was wholly un-suited to times like the present; indeed, he would venture to say, unsuited to any times. Why, he would ask, should there be such a striking difference between the Poor Law system of Ireland and that of England, on which it was supposed to be modelled? Why might out-door relief be given to a widow during the first six months of her widowhood in England but not in Ireland? Why to a widow with one child in England, but only to a widow with two or more children in Ireland? Why to the wives and families of absent soldiers and sailors, or marines, if they were fortunate enough to be English, but not if they were Irish? And, finally, why should English Guardians be free to give out-door relief to all persons, able-bodied as well as others, at their discretion; whilst such relief was restricted in Ireland within narrow statutory limits? According to the latest Returns, of the whole population of wealthy England, about 3 per cent were a charge on the land; whilst in Ireland, steeped as part of it was in comparative poverty, and with perpetual risk of recurring famine, the Poor Law relief represented only 1½ per cent of the population. In England the in-door relief was, in round numbers, 170,000, and the outdoor relief 570,000; whilst in Ireland the in-door relief was 50,000, and the out-door relief only 36,000. Referring to the question of agriculture, the right hon. and learned Gentleman stated that the class who would here be known as agricultural labourers were in Ireland really the small tenants, and, therefore, on that class it was particularly harsh only to grant them in-door relief; the more especially as even that was not open to them unless they gave up their farms. The workhouse was, no doubt, a good test for distinguishing the honest pauper from the scheming tramp; but it could not be applied with justice to the poorer Irish peasantry he had referred to as belonging to the class of small farmers. "Under such circumstances as unhappily now existed in Ireland, he thought the Government should reconsider the question. Why not, in the name of common sense, intrust the Local Government Board with power to relax 400 those harsh rules, and thus relieve the Guardians of the odium which they incurred by seeming to refuse out-door relief in cases where it would be given in England as a matter of course? The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) had referred to the example of an Irish landlord who was loved and esteemed by his tenantry. That, however, was, he feared, an exceptional instance. He would ask how many landlords holding property in Mayo went with open hand and kindly speech among their admiring and grateful tenants? But there was one other point of difference between the Poor Law systems of Ireland and England which he (Mr. Law) desired to notice. In England clergymen were admitted on Boards of Guardians; but the Irish law was different, all ministers of religion were alike ineligible, and thus a class intimately acquainted with the wants of the people were excluded from giving their experience and advice to the official distributors of State assistance. Yet under the Relief Act of 1847, and now again in the distribution of the charitable funds collected by her Grace the Duchess of Marlborough, and by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, it had been found necessary and desirable to seek the aid of the clergy for this purpose. Their original exclusion was avowedly only for a time, and he (Mr. Law) saw no reason why it should not now be done away with. A great deal had been said about the revolutionary principles which had been broached in this debate; but the only things that seemed to be regarded in that way by hon. Gentlemen opposite were that the Irish Members asked for the experiment of a peasant proprietary and for the extension of the Ulster tenant right custom to the rest of Ireland. These might be revolutionary principles; but, if so, the revolution was of a very mild type. The propriety of the first had been affirmed by unanimous resolution of the House last Session; and the only objection to the second seemed to him to be the difficulty of effecting it. If there had been any unnecessary warmth or strength of expression on the part of any hon. Members, he (Mr. Law) must say it had been first imported into the discussion by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. As to the agitation in certain parts of Ireland last autumn, the strong 401 censure which had been passed upon its authors was, no doubt, well deserved. But, so far as the peasantry themselves wore concerned, it should be recollected that popular commotions generally arose, not so much from any desire of mischief on the part of the people, as because their difficulties and sufferings were often hard to bear. A starving people might readily listen to proposals that were impracticable, or, perhaps, in the direct line to disorder or even crime; and yet, after all, how little had the Irish tenantry yielded to the temptations which had been presented to them. For this he (Mr. Law) thought they deserved great credit, as had, indeed, been observed by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. It was, at all events, a little too much to say, as the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had done, that this land agitation had been the cause of the impending famine. He greatly feared that the Government had not been as much alive to the necessities of the case as they ought to have been. No doubt they had accepted full responsibility for what they had done, and also for what they had omitted to do; and a very sharp account would be demanded of them if, in the end, their measures proved inadequate.
§ MR. ERRINGTON
said, that notwithstanding all the statements they had heard, and even the appeal made to them on behalf of Her Majesty's Government by his right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), he was obliged to express his strongest and most cordial concurrence with the Vote of Censure, which was not implied in the Resolution, but was actually and intentionally expressed. It was with sincere regret that he had to speak in that way on that occasion, for it was an occasion far too melancholy to be devoted to a mere Party quarrel. He should have been glad if the measures that had been taken were such that each of the Irish Members, on whichever side of the House they might be, could have united cordially in approving of them. The Press, when they complained as they had done, and accused them of faction in moving the Amendment to the Address, lost sight of the really important gist of the question, and that was the very exceptional and grave character of the troubles impending in Ireland. Unless they succeeded by the 402 painful process of three or four nights' debate in opening the eyes of the Government, he was afraid that the consequences would be of a very serious nature indeed. The Irish Members had been greatly disappointed at the meagre references in the Queen's Speech to Ireland, and that disappointment had spread to Ireland, where it was producing much discouragement. When the distress first appeared the Government was duly warned by the Irish Members; but their recommendations were received with, to say the least, incredulity, and the Government had not succeeded in checking in any way the progress of the distress. When, however, it became so notorious as to excite sympathy and lead to private charity on a large and generous scale all over the world, they naturally thought that the eyes of the Government would be opened, and that probably the Government wore reserving themselves for the graceful occasion of the Royal Speech to announce measures worthy of the question with which they had to deal. But they found the Irish Question dismissed in a few brief words. Nor were the Irish Members the only people who complained. He was reading the other day in a leading weekly London paper, which was certainly not chargeable with undue Irish proclivities, a strong comment on so much of the Royal Speech being devoted to a long explanation of matters which everyone knew all about, while the important matter of Irish distress had been disposed of in a few words. Under these circumstances, his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) was not only justified but absolutely called upon to take the course he had adopted, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had fully admitted the justice of that course. But if the right hon. Gentleman thought that the question was so important as to justify the very unusual course of moving an Amendment to the Address, surely he might have a little more considered its importance when the Queen's Speech was being drawn up, and might have treated it as a question of first-class Imperial magnitude. It might be said that this was merely a matter of form, but a matter of form was not without its importance; and he could assure the House that it would have been a great matter of encouragement to the unfortunate people of Ireland to 403 think that their Rulers were fully conscious of the gravity of the case, and had shown their consciousness by giving to it adequate importance in the Royal Speech, and by mentioning that measures had been taken calculated to meet the emergency. Of course, the real question was, after all, what remedial measures had been adopted? Irish Members were accused of merely complaining of the past; but it must be remembered that the Government were not prepared to admit what Irish Members considered to be their great responsibility in regard to the past. He complained that in the measures taken by the Government what should have been merely supplementary stood by itself. With regard to the scheduling of districts, the distress, of course, varied in different districts. In some districts there was comparatively little distress, while in other districts the distress was extreme, and it became important that the facilities for scheduling should be ample. He was afraid that want of appreciation of the gravity of the crisis had been shown by extreme rigidity being manifested in this respect. Two applications were made by the Longford Union to be scheduled, and both applications were refused—that was to say, the authority of the Inspector sent down was placed, against that of the local people, who, were thoroughly conscious of the state of the country, and anxious that relief should be afforded. His hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had made some strong observations with regard to some of the Inspectors sent down; and certainly the case of Longford fully justified the charges made of inexperience and unfitness for their duties. He would strongly urge on the Chief Secretary for Ireland to consider whether it would not be wise and expedient to relax the extreme severity of the conditions under which relief was given, and especially to consider favourably the repeated applications of the Longford Union? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had given the key to the severity when he said that private charity was a very different thing from public charity, and that the shortcomings, if any, of the Government were not due to any want of sympathy, but the Government had a very great responsibility not to pauperize the people, and that the action of the Govern- 404 ment should be ascribed, not to hard-heartedness, but to hardheadedness. He agreed that the Government must be careful not to pauperize the people; but he would ask if that was the only responsibility which rested on the Government? Was it prudent for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to lay so much stress on that responsibility, and by so doing to incur, perhaps, the far greater responsibility for severe distress and possibly for loss of life? He should also like to ask what security there was when districts were scheduled as distressed that the amount of money applied for or granted in any one bore any sort of proportion to the distress to be relieved? In one Union there might be a great deal of distress, and very few landlords willing or able to apply, while in other districts less distressed there might be many landlords willing and able to do so; so that even when the districts were registered as distressed the remedy was one that worked very much by chance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he thought, the other day, that about £330,000 had been applied for, and on the previous night the First Lord of the Admiralty said that the sum applied for had risen to £400,000.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The £330,000 was the sum applied for by landlords, and the rest is a sum applied for as sanitary advances.
§ MR. ERRINGTON
said, he was anxious to know whether every Union scheduled as distressed had made some application, and what proportion the amount applied for bore to the distress and to the population of the Union? He had moved for a Return to show the manner in which the system of relief had worked, and he hoped that they should have that Return as soon as possible. The absence of such information showed that the Government had not appreciated the gravity of the question; for he should have supposed that, as a matter of course, they would have been presented with, fortnightly Returns, showing the progress of the distress, the amount of loans, and the amount of money devoted to charitable purposes. The progress of the distress had actually been more rapid than the Irish Members themselves had expected, and nobody could tell what would be the cost of meeting it for the next few 405 months. They were told last night by the First Lord of the Admiralty that the Government accepted the entire responsibility of the situation; but that did not relieve Irish Members of their responsibility. He did not think that they realized the full pressure of the calamity; and, therefore, he thought it was the duty of the Irish Members to continue to press on the Government the fears which they entertained. The scheme of the Government was open to much objection. They had acted with great stringency for fear of pauperizing the people, and now they might be obliged to adopt a system infinitely more pauperizing to keep the people alive. The Local Government Board had been told that if famine were impending they might take certain further measures for giving relief; but the famine was not "impending," it was actually existing. It was quite true that so far no coroner's jury had returned a verdict of "manslaughter against Her Majesty's Government," as was done in several instances in 1847; but was that what the Government were waiting for before they recognized the existence of famine and took measures to save the people? He did not say that any deaths had occurred absolutely from starvation, and with such suddenness as to call for an inquest; but there was ample evidence to prove that several deaths had occurred which were directly traceable to the effects of starvation. Some of the English newspapers, when it was known in England that a serious calamity threatened Ireland, sent over to Ireland men of cultivation and ability, who went about the country and made a most interesting investigation, the good effects of which would not soon be forgotten in Ireland. In the printed letter of one of these correspondents he found a story of a woman who, with three children, walked 40 miles to a workhouse, one of the children dying shortly after admission. Everything led to the conclusion that things would be very much worse, and he could not help being reminded directly by the course of events of a painful history which they all remembered; but he hoped the resemblance might not go further than it had already gone. He alluded to the last Famine in India. They all remembered that the crops had 406 failed, and that there was great apprehension of famine. They were then informed that the Government were confident of being able to grapple with the distress; but it soon became known that the distress was worse than the Government had ever admitted. The Government next said that no deaths had occurred; but they all knew that soon after there came a climax to the distress, and the direct loss to the nation in lives was reckoned by hundreds and thousands, while the indirect loss from consequent exhaustion and disease must have reached a much higher point. He sincerely hoped that the parallel might not go any further in the case of Ireland. So far the past was exceedingly ominous, and the outlook most gloomy. At all events, Irish Members had no choice except to press upon the Government the extent and urgency of the distress; and if, forewarned as they were, they neglected to adopt measures sufficient to cope with the danger, he did not know what language would be too strong to condemn their conduct.
§ MR. SHEIL
remarked that, whatever might be the opinion of the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) upon the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), the Irish Members could not have two opinions upon the subject. It was an eloquent speech, a good speech, and a courageous speech. As to the rest of the remarks of the hon. and gallant Baronet, they were interesting, but not very much to the point. He referred to the Famine of 1846–7, and the distress at present existing in Mayo; but as to how the distress should be met he omitted to say one word. The right hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. Law) also indulged in a discursive and eloquent speech in reference to Boards of Guardians, the land system, and other matters; but he did not quite tell the House how he intended to vote. He wished he could say the same thing about the speech of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). He had told the House that he did not intend to vote against the Government. It seemed to him that such action on the part of the right hon. Gentleman was rather remarkable, and decidedly to be regretted, because it was evident that he was not thoroughly posted in the subject under discussion, and that he had made 407 up his mind before actually the debate had been concluded. The right hon. Gentleman imagined that in various parts of Ireland there were accumulated large supplies of food and fuel; but he was corrected by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose statement was not that there were large supplies of food and fuel collected, but that the communications had been so perfected that these supplies could be promptly obtained if necessary. The right hon. Gentleman also imagined that the Guardians had power to relax the restrictions on out-door relief; but there again he was corrected. It was rather strange that the right hon. Gentleman, labouring, as he undoubtedly was, under these delusions, and having formed his opinion under an entirely wrong impression, should then turn round and say to the Irish Members before the debate had concluded—"As you have not proved your charge, I cannot vote for you." The First Lord of the Admiralty had objected entirely to a system of public works, seemingly ignoring the fact that the relief works might be useful ones. That was a very important point to bear in mind; because he quite agreed that relief, if purely relief and having no use, might demoralize, and do no good. The First Lord of the Admiralty argued as against railways that when he was in Dublin he heard of the contract of a work undertaken by the Corporation being given to a Scotchman, that if railways were undertaken contracts must be made, and that assumed that Irishmen would not be employed. He could tell the right hon. Gentleman that although the contract in Dublin had been given to a Scotchman the men who would execute the work would be Dublin workmen, and so it would be in Mayo and Connemara, no matter who the contractor was. The noble Lord who led a portion of the Opposition had not told them very much as to his views on the question before the House. He was more concerned about clearing himself of any connection with the defeated candidate for Liverpool. He (Mr. Sheil) agreed with the Attorney General that it would have been better if the Amendment had been shorter and more to the point—that was to say, if the Amendment had merely consisted of a Vote of Censure, pure and simple, upon the Go- 408 vernment, and that the remaining question as to land should be raised separately and in another form. At any rate, the main question before the House was a Vote of Censure upon the Government in regard to what they had done in the past, or rather what they had omitted to do. When the right hon. Member for Bradford said the charge had not been proved it might be that he was right, because all sorts of extraneous subjects had been introduced into the debate. It seemed to him, however, that if the debate had been long and tedious, the chief blame ought to fall upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was quite in his power to have made the statement which he made on the second night of the debate upon the first night; and no good reason had been given why Papers which were now in their possession had not been circulated earlier. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Charles Lewis) said the actual gist of the Amendment was a Vote of Censure upon Her Majesty's Government, and so he (Mr. Sheil) ventured to say it was. As to how it would end, that they knew. But what they had to do was to prove the charge, and he would endeavour to show that Her Majesty's Government had not in the past acted up to a full sense of their responsibility; but, on the contrary, had been neglectful of what they ought to have done. The figures of the Registrar General showed the state of Ireland during the year 1879, and the Government must have been aware of it. That official said—The extent of land under crops is less this year than in any of the preceding 10 years. The estimated agricultural produce returns were lower than any of the preceding 10 years in 1879. The total value of the principal crops in Ireland may he taken at £22,743,000 as against £32,758,000 in the preceding year, showing a diminution during the last year of £10,000,000 sterling. The average estimated produce of potatoes during the last 10 years was 6,066,200 cwt., whereas the yield in 1879 was only 22,273,000 cwt., showing the vast diminution of over 38,000,000 cwt. during the past year.From these facts, the Government must have known in what a bad state the country was, and the charge against them was that they had neglected to do their duty. Under the circumstances, the Government could not plead that they had not been fully warned of the terrible state of the country; for they 409 had been informed of it by their own officials, by the Roman Catholic Bishops, Poor Law Guardians, Corporations, and the large majority of the Irish Members of Parliament. After some correspondence, which went on till November 14, the Government saw the danger of further delay, and began to take active measures. Then came their conduct with reference to the granting of loans, of which, by the way, the Chief Secretary for Ireland had omitted to state in his speech the actual amount granted. They drew up, to use their own expression, a very carefully-worded Circular, and offered facilities for loans on easy terms—facilities, however, which to the majority of landowners would be entirely useless. At last it dawned upon the Lord Lieutenant that that was the case, and on January 17 further facilities were offered when it was too late. That was the gist of his charge against the Government, that their action was too late. It might be true, perhaps, that as yet no deaths from famine had occurred; but there could be no moral doubt that before long either starvation itself, or some diseases resulting from it, would tell their own tale. Those were grave charges to make against a Government; but he thought that they had been made tolerably clear. The responsibility lay mainly with the Viceroy and the Chief Secretary for Ireland. That right hon. Gentleman had a seat in the House, and should have made a further statement than that of Friday night; nor need he have apologized for detaining them, even at a late hour, for a few minutes; but the right hon. Gentleman had many other cares pressing upon him as the representative of the Jockey Club in the House of Commons.
§ MR. ASSHETON
thought that English Members might express their opinions on the affairs of Ireland as freely as on those of Zululand or Afghanistan, especially as the House had the advantage of the presence of many Gentlemen who were ready to give their personal experiences of the country, and as very full sources of information were open to everyone. They had constantly been told that Irish tenants were overrented, and had no security for improvements—that, in fact, they could not and did not improve their holdings. It did not appear on inquiry that there was, after all, so complete an absence of con- 410 fidence between landlords and tenants. He had been reading inThe Timesa series of letters on Irish farming, and gathered from them that in many districts the rents were very moderate, and the tenants habitually improved their land. In one case, in the county of Roscommon, the tenant lived prosperously on six narrow fields, which had been reclaimed, and were chiefly under spade husbandry. Suitable buildings had been put up, and there was also a capital fruit garden. The extent of the holding was nine acres, and the rent, which had not been changed for the last 20 years, was nearly three guineas. In another instance, the occupier—a tenant of the hon. Member for Roscommon—held 5½ acres, which he had reclaimed, at the annual rent of £1; another paid £8 for 11½ acres, of which eight were reclaimed land. Numerous other cases could be adduced. One great cure for the present unfortunate state of things in many parts of Ireland was confidence between landlord and tenant; but that confidence was impossible as long as discontent was excited by the efforts of agitators. Confidence on the part of tenants would produce justice on the part of landlords, as it did in England, and also in Ireland among the tenants of the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don). The hon. and learned Member for Kildare (Mr. Meldon) asked the other evening why the Government did not relieve tenants by advancing money to them, in order to enable them to improve their farms. If the hon. and learned Gentleman had paused for a moment, he would have seen that he was mixing up the idea of charity with that of business. The proposal to advance money to the landlords to be spent in permanent improvement came under the head of matters of business, and this was a just and good way of helping those who had credit, but who had not the ready money available for the purposes required. The State could always borrow money more cheaply than individuals; and it often did borrow money and lend it to individuals or corporations possessing good security. Money had been lent to landlords in England and Scotland for draining, repairs of roads, &c, and in a similar way had been largely lent to corporate bodies for necessary improvements. In. all these cases there was sufficient security; but 411 this could not be said of the Irish tenants, to whom it was impossible that the State could lend money without security. If a tenant took the money before he made the improvements, what was to hinder him from bolting with it? On the other hand, the tenant could not effect the improvements unless he was provided with money in the first instance. He could not help thinking, therefore, that the plan of lending money to the tenants must be a delusion and a snare. He had been puzzled to hear the hon. Member for Birmingham, who opened the adjourned debate, deprecate lending money to landlords, his reason being that the landlords themselves made money out of the loans, while he had pointed out that during the cotton famine in Lancashire the Government had not lent money to the manufacturers in order that they might keep their mills going; but had the Government lent money to the mill-owners the only result would have been that the mills would have been kept open for a little while longer, and then there would have been an end of the matter. The case was different with regard to land. If money were lent to the landowners to make roads and drain the land, not only would the peasantry be paid fair wages for the work they did, and thus be enabled to tide over the existing difficulty, but permanent improvements would thereby be effected, which would be calculated to aid the future prosperity of the country. Therefore, there was a great difference between lending money to landowners and lending it to owners of mills, and this difficulty the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had entirely overlooked. He wished the House to practically consider the position in which it was at the present placed. An Amendment had been moved to the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne; and if the Amendment were not withdrawn, which, in his opinion, was the most sensible course that could be pursued, and it should be lost, as it, no doubt, would be by an overwhelming majority, it would be made to appear to the world that that large majority was opposed to the claims set up by the supporters of the Amendment on behalf of the people of Ireland. This would be putting the House in a false position. But, supposing the Amendment were carried, the result would simply be that 412 no Business could go on in the House for the next six or seven weeks, and the valuable measures about to be proposed by the Government and by private Members would have to be dropped and put off; and by whom would they be put off? Why, by that section of Gentlemen who sat opposite, and who called themselves the friends of Ireland.
§ MR. D. O'CONOR,
in supporting the Amendment, said, that it conveyed exactly the feeling which was entertained by a great many Members in regard to the conduct of the Government. He regretted to find from the course taken that a great many hon. Gentlemen, as well as the Government, had not thoroughly realized the extent and severity of the distress in Ireland; and he hoped that before the debate had been finally closed a considerable amount of knowledge would have been spread on the subject. He complained of the manner in which the distress had been alluded to in the Queen's Speech, which stated that—Serious deficiency in the usual crops in some parts of Ireland has rendered necessary special precautions on the part of my Government to guard against the calamities with which those districts were threatened.This was most inadequate, merely conveying an idea that only in some portion of Ireland that deficiency had taken place, whereas the "serious deficiency" had been all over Ireland, but had not been felt with so much severity in certain places where there was wealth. Then the Queen's Speech went on to refer to the calamities with which these districts were threatened, thereby suggesting that the difficulties were over, and that measures had been taken to meet these calamities. This was a most inadequate description of the state of Ireland. They had to meet a state of things which would require every exertion of the Government in order adequately to cope with the distress, and in a few months it would be found very much worse than it had been. He had looked carefully through the Papers which had been delivered to them to show what the Government had done, but could not find that anything else had been done but to provide accommodation within the workhouses. Everyone knew the antipathy the Irish people had against the workhouse—that they would rather starve than enter the work- 413 house—certainly, that they would only resort to that alternative when they had arrived at the point of starvation. The difficulty was under the existing Poor Law in Ireland to give adequate relief outside the workhouse without infringing the Poor Law regulations, and the Government said that they had given instructions to Boards of Guardians to relax these rules. That was a good step to take; but, as a matter of fact, these instructions were unknown to any of the Boards of Guardians in Ireland. He would give an instance which occurred in the county which he had the honour to represent some weeks before the granting of those facilities had been publicly announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a speech he made at Stroud. A Guardian of the Sligo Union stated to the Board that several families on the coast who lived by fishing were in a state of great destitution, and that there was an urgent necessity for their receiving relief. The Board directed the relieving officer to use his discretion in the granting of out-door relief; but on learning how matters stood the Local Government Board in London informed the Sligo Board of Guardians that in no circumstances could relief be given in the manner they proposed. The Chairman of the Board proceeded to Dublin, and laid the facts before the authorities there; but he was obliged on his return to inform the Board of Guardians that there were no means of affording relief to the poor people in question unless they gave up their plots of lands and became inmates of the poorhouse. The consequence was that they had since been supported and saved from pauperism by charitable funds raised by the Guardians and throughout the county. No thanks, certainly, were due to the Government that deaths from starvation had not occurred in that community. With regard to the system of granting loans to landlords for the purpose of executing works on their estates, and thereby improving them, he had no objection to that; but the facilities offered for borrowing money, under the first Circular issued by the Government, were totally inadequate to meet the exigencies of the case. The terms first offered were not such as to invite applications, and to be really effectual the employment ought to have 414 been afforded at the earliest possible moment; for, as the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) had said, half-starved men could not travel long distances to work, and if they could, would not be employed by contractors. He did not know that in a single case the men were, up to this, actually engaged in the works for which the money was borrowed by the landlords. Meantime the people were idle, and were being gradually reduced to a state of starvation. So much for the first portion of the Amendment, which condemned the Government for not having taken the necessary steps to relieve the distressed. The next part of the Amendment referred to the permanent condition of Ireland. Now, he might state that he had taken no part in the agitation in the autumn and winter in the Western districts in Ireland; but he had no hesitation in expressing his opinion that it would be best for the interest of the country if the theory propounded throughout the West of Ireland were adopted—namely, that he who tilled the soil should also be the owner of it. He could not conscientiously attend the meetings which had lately been held, because, instead of sowing dissension between landlord and tenant, the exigencies of the time required that they should be drawn close together in order to fight their common enemy—famine.
§ Mr. MARTEN
said, there was one among the number of Irish Members who must be in the mind of Members of the House when they reflected on the Irish Question. He meant the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell), who, though he could enlighten the House on the subject of Irish distress, was absent, apparently, without any adequate reason. Another face he had expected to see, knowing his interest on the Irish Question, was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). Now they knew that right hon. Gentlemen had made speeches on the Irish Question, and particularly had made an elaborate speech on the question of-Irish land tenure, and a proposal for a transference of the rights of landlords to some Commission which should act as gigantic land-jobbers. He confessed he was, therefore, somewhat astonished the House had not had the plea- 415 sure of seeing the right hon. Gentleman during the present debate, in order that he might enlighten them on the proposal he had made. Another right hon. Gentleman was absent—namely, the Prime Minister of the previous Administration, and one who was always prominent before the country by his ability and experience. Probably domestic affliction had detained him from the House. If so, he (Mr. Marten) could only regret such a reason for his absence from the House. But if no cause of that kind detained him from the debate, he thought it was to be regretted that the right hon. Gentleman was not present in order that they might hear his views on the subject. They all knew that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham formerly described the Conservative Party as being pre-eminently a stupid Party. Now they saw that accusation wholly changed, and every matter of policy which the Conservative Party adopted was at once held up as astute and Machiavelian. During this debate they saw a remarkable instance of that change of feeling. The Conservative Party had been charged with originating the Home Rule movement. This absurd accusation had been abundantly refuted, and he should not further discuss it; but should proceed to consider the complaint made against the Government in connection with the existing distress. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) had accused the Government of having done nothing to prevent deaths which would have occurred but for private charity. It was no part of the duty of Government to supersede private charity; and if that was sufficient to meet the case the Government would not be to blame for not stepping in. Did the hon. Member mean to charge the Government with a wilful neglect of that which they ought to have done? That was a very serious charge, and one which, if made, ought to be sustained by the most cogent evidence. Now, in the case of a sudden emergency arising in particular districts through the failure of the harvest, the Government, guided by the desire, at all events, to avert starvation, might provide adequate supplies of food for that purpose; but, at the same time, they should be on their guard against doing anything which would have the effect of demoralizing the poor, and of per- 416 manently producing that state of semi-starvation among them which had first originated in a particular crisis. Having regard to those principles, he maintained that the Government, so far from being open to the charge made against them by the hon. Member for Birmingham, were very early on the alert making inquiries into the condition of the various districts and as to what provision was requisite to save the people from perishing. The Local Government Board issued its first Circular on the 5th of September, requesting the Inspectors to obtain information as to the state of things in the different districts, and that information was communicated to the Irish Government on the 28th of October. The Reports thus furnished to them showed that the failure of the crops was partial, the crops in some places being found to be fair. So far from the distress being universal throughout Ireland, it existed only in certain parts of the country; and the terms of the Amendment itself virtually admitted that it was not universal. On the 14th of November the Irish Government applied to the Treasury, which, on the same day, replied as to the measures of relief to be adopted. The active measures taken might be thought inadequate by some and excessive by others; but a certain discretion must be left to the Government to be exercised to the best of their judgment and ability. Complaint had been made that the Government had kept people in ignorance of what they had done; but if they had made it known before they would have excited hopes throughout Ireland which would have led to exaggerated claims for relief, and perhaps the money given would have gone into the wrong channel or been wasted. The Government ought, above all things, to retain within their own control the means they intended to employ, and only display and make use of those means as the actual exigency might require. The relief measures they had taken had received the approval of the hon. Member for the county of Longford (Mr. Errington) and other hon. Gentlemen qualified to express an opinion, and it was acknowledged that they had been most beneficial. He did not understand why the Government should be found fault with because they were not forward to act outside the law. It was a serious responsibility 417 even for a Government to go beyond the limits which had been fixed by law; and they would been doing wrong if they had taken measures, as had been suggested by hon. Members, at so early a period as August or September. In his opinion, nothing could have been more unwise than for the Government to go into the market and buy up food and fuel. What would have been the effect? The effect would have been to produce a great, immediate rise in prices, which would have redounded more to the advantage of the sellers than to that of any other class. He denied that the Government proposals were inadequate. The fact that not a life had been lost was sufficient proof of that. Moreover, Ireland was not a very large country; every part was accessible from every other part, and if distress prevailed in one district there could be no difficulty in immediately sending supplies from the more favoured parts of the country. It had been put forward as an argument against the proposals of the Government that some capitalist might take advantage of them and buy up thousands of acres at a cheap rate and turn the wilderness or the bog into a fruitful field, and then sell it at a great profit to himself. He did not see the force of that reasoning, as' Ireland would largely benefit from the influx of Scotch or English capital, and that was what was really needed in the country. With regard to the rules regulating outdoor relief, he thought the House ought to bear in mind that they were not ancient Conservative laws; they were Whig laws, and they were modern laws which had been considered and re-considered by the Legislature in recent times; and to set them aside without the sanction of the Legislature, except in a case of the most absolute necessity, would be a matter of a very serious character. The Amendment which had been proposed to the Address indicated the variations of opinion which they were from time to time told existed among the Home Rule Party. The Amendment consisted of 13 lines, containing four propositions, each of which seemed to have been contributed by a different section of the Party. The first proposition, from its comparatively moderate tone, appeared to be due to the counsels of the nominal Leader of the Party. But the second proposition im- 418 ported into the controversy much stronger language, and proceeded, he might suppose, from the advanced wing. With regard to the third proposition contained in it, insisting on the necessity for immediate legislation, he was desirous of pointing out the fact that, though four nights had now been spent in discussion, the Government had had the greatest difficulty in obtaining permission to legislate. The Government Bill had already been opposed, and its progress would probably not be very smooth in the future. The hon. Members who contended that there should be immediate legislation in connection with the question under consideration were the very Gentlemen who were standing in the way of legislation. They were, therefore, acting in a most inconsistent way. The fourth clause of the Amendment had, he confessed, astonished him not a little; for the tenure of land, to which it referred, had now for many years occupied the attention of Parliament. Were they to understand from the Amendment that the Land Act of 1870 was really to blame for the starvation now existing? He could not think that it was the deliberate opinion of the Irish Members that that Act, which when it was passed was supposed to be a great measure, was based upon mistaken notions and productive of distress. The hon. Member for Reading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) who was thefidus Achatesof the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) so far as the Land Question was concerned, had come forward in long letters addressed toThe Timesas an interpreter of the oracle, who had proposed measures of a totally impracticable character. Now, what he understood the hon. Member for Reading to advocate was that the tenant, not paying more than the existing rate of rent, should at the end of 35 years become the owner of his holding; but that proposal, if it meant anything, would simply have the effect of making the landlords annuitants at that rate for the period mentioned, which would amount to nothing less than confiscation. An annuity, payable year by year for 35 years, was a very different thing from purchase money paid down at 35 years' purchase. It was also suggested that a body of Government Commissioners should be created, who should go about the country purchasing land, which they were to split up into 419 small holdings. The result would be that the Commissioners would be made a sort of buffer between the landlord and the tenant; that when they came into the market the price of land would be raised; and that the tenant, instead of being able to buy directly, would never be able to do so except through their instrumentality. Besides, the Commissioners being, as it were, an impalpable body, resident nowhere and with no bowels of compassion in the discharge of their duty, the tenant, so far from being benefited by having to deal with them, would, in reality, be deprived of the resource which was now open to him in times of emergency. In making these observations, it must not be supposed that he was not as ready as anyone to facilitate the transfer of land; but that was entirely different from advocating the artificial creation of a large number of peasant proprietors. He might add that the purchase of land was probably the worst investment which a man possessed of only a few hundred pounds could make, inasmuch as he could get a much higher rate of interest for his money by disposing of it in some other way. But be that as it might, the creation of a number of peasant proprietors could not be regarded as a remedy for the existing distress in Ireland; and he therefore hoped that the confused Amendment before the House would be rejected by an overwhelming majority.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, they were told that the Irish Members who sat in conclave last week might have done this or that; but the responsibility rested on the Government alone of preventing the great calamity which was now coming on the country. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton) had asked why Irish tenants had not confidence in their landlords like English tenants? That was begging the whole question. Irish tenants had not confidence in their landlords because they had been treated in many cases with harshness—he should be sorry to use the word injustice. He contended that those who were in favour of relying on the operation of the Poor Law as a remedy for the prevailing distress in Ireland must be ignorant of the way in which it worked in that country, adding that it was highly undesirable to postpone measures of relief until some deaths from absolute starvation had occurred. 420 Without referring to the irritating topics which had been introduced in the course of the debate, he thought he would best discharge his duty as an Irish Representative if he stated his views with reference to the present condition of Ireland. The absorbing question with which they had to deal was how best the existing distress could be relieved—how best a greater calamity still could be avoided. For his part, he believed that the desire of the Irish Members was to unite all parties and all classes in the effort to alleviate the great and widespread distress which afflicted their country. For his part, he acquitted Her Majesty's Government of the accusation of wilful neglect and indifference in the matter of supplying adequate and sufficient remedies to meet the distress. He sincerely believed that the Lord Lieutenant and the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland were fully sensible of the grave responsibility which rested upon them, and were desirous of doing their duty as fully as they were able in order to alleviate distress and prevent famine. While he said that, however, he thought that the Government had laid themselves open to a certain, probably a considerable, amount of blame in not having at the approach of the calamity boldly taken measures to meet the emergency. They had thus assumed to themselves a greater amount of responsibility than they would have incurred had they adopted a vigorous course with a view to the prevention of a great evil. He could not doubt that had they done so and thrown themselves upon the generosity and justice of Parliament, the House would cheerfully have indemnified them from the consequences of acts done in the interest of humanity and good government. He regretted that strong language had been made use of at some assemblies in Ireland by earnest advocates of the cause of Ireland; but they were probably moved by the memories of the great disaster which fell upon their country in 1846. He himself went through the famine-smitten districts of that time, and never till he descended into the grave should he forget the horrors which he had witnessed. The debate which had taken place could not but be productive of good, by the attention it had directed to the condition of Ireland; and he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Cork 421 (Mr. Shaw) had done good service by calling attention by his Amendment to the question of land tenure in Ireland. The existing distress and the remedies for it were so closely identified and interwoven that it would be impossible to separate the one subject from the other. One very important matter was the want of communication in Ireland; and the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had given some interesting facts bearing on the relation between value of produce and the means of communication. In the famine time he had himself found that there were districts in which a turbot weighing 12 lbs. could be bought for 10d.,a fowl for 3d.,a dozen eggs for 1½d.,and a cartload of peat for 1s.6d.It seemed very strange that in periods of distress there should be such prices. But the explanation was that the people lived entirely on Indian meal—sold everything they had to buy food to keep body and soul together. If there had been railway communication at that time such a state of things could not have existed. He recommended the development of the country by means of railways—not railways costing £7,000 a-mile, which could never pay in a poor country, but railways of 3 feet or 3½ feet gauge costing about £2,500 a-mile. In the poorer districts he would recommend the formation of tramways; and he regretted that two Tramway Bills, which he introduced last Session, were thrown out. Had they not been thrown out they would have taken £500,000 where work was now wanted by the people. He was persuaded that the present system of land tenure in Ireland was chargeable with many, if not with most, of the evils of the country. Security of tenure in some form was necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland. He thought the statements made by Members of the Government, which were to the effect that the Government would take adequate steps to cope with the trouble with which Ireland was threatened, would have a good and calming effect on the people of the country. The First Lord of the Admiralty said the other night that Her Majesty's Ministers fully admitted their responsibility, and that it was their duty to prevent a famine. While everyone in Ireland was deeply indebted to the noble lady who had devoted her time and her sympathy to the 422 work of relief, and while they all thanked the Lord Mayor of Dublin for what he had done, it was still the clear and manifest duty of the Government to prevent a great calamity and to employ the revenues of this great country for the purpose of relieving distress. He hoped the Government would administer relief with an unsparing hand.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
thought that hon. Members ought not to address themselves to a subject of this kind unless they had acquired such information as enabled them to understand the whole of the circumstances of the case. He did not know of any Member of the House who would wish to impute to the Government a want of desire to save the Irish people from the horrors of famine. He was sure those sitting on the front Ministerial Bench were guided by humanity, and had no wish that any woman or child in Ireland should be likely to perish from hunger, or from suffering consequent on want. The real danger, he feared, was the difficulty of making the official mind comprehend the danger to which the House was now brought face to face. He had not derived his information on this subject from the newspapers, or from the reports furnished to the House, because if he had he should have felt some reluctance in saying what he was now about to state. As a director of a bank which had its branches throughout the whole of the South and West of Ireland, he had been for several months in receipt of communications from those districts; and he was bound to say that the evidence laid before him satisfied him that the persons employed by the Government had not fully realized the present state of things in Ireland. In September last those who were well acquainted with the state of the country arrived at the conclusion that a famine was in some parts of Ireland inevitable. It was very difficult indeed for persons in that House to realize that such a calamity was hanging over Ireland at that time; but every day since the character of the information furnished from the South and West grew more and more threatening and dark. He had seen letters from men who were not agitators, who were not politicians, but men who were calm men of business, resident in the locality, and dealing only with the people in the capacity of bank managers and respon- 423 sible men of business. Some of their letters were of a most alarming character. In a letter which he received only yesterday, the writer said—The general distress among the mass of the people anticipated by my letter of the 18th of November last is being now abundantly verified. It is to be hoped the action of the Government will be brought to provide for the distress daily increasing. This year the distress is nearly as bad as in the year 1848.All those gloomy predictions, which began in September last, had daily been realized. It had been said on the other side of the House that nobody had yet died of starvation, and that there was no proof of such an occurrence. Surely that was no answer to the complaints which had been made to the Government? Death from actual famine was not the worst thing to be dreaded. What had been said by an hon. Member on the Ministerial side of the House last night? Why, that there were thousands of families in the West of Ireland who had to be content with one meal a-day of Indian corn! Who in that House would have the audacity to say there had been no deaths from famine? He (Mr. Mundella) saw abundant evidence of the fact. The people were becoming more and more enfeebled and unfit for work, and obliged to rest the greater part of the day for fear of exciting the pangs of hunger. At night these persons were known to go clamouring round the houses of the priests. He was now speaking of what took place in Connemara and other parts of the West of Ireland. They were there early in the morning, clamouring for a handful of meal to stave off hunger. The people were becoming emaciated, and the vital power becoming lowered. They knew that in 1847 the famine fever was the great cause of the mortality amongst the people of Ireland. The people were dying of actual starvation there again. Among the people there was now the same miserable, low feeling, and condition of vitality which preceded that calamity in 1847. A great deal had been said about the accuracy of the Reports furnished by the Government; but he (Mr. Mundella) had learnt these things from calm men of business. The first thing which the Government Inspector did when he went to these distressed places was to call upon the managers of the local banks; but he was told it was 424 very hard to convince the Inspectors of the real state of the people in the neighbourhood. That was just the very thing that always occurred in the history of those calamities, whether they went back to the Famine of 1847, or to what occurred during the Crimean War. The mischief was always done before the danger was actually gauged. That was what he believed was likely to occur at the present time. The people were in a wretched emaciated condition in large numbers. He read the other day of hundreds of people waiting for meal. They stood waiting for it nearly all the night, and they were there again before daybreak. What could they expect of people in that condition? Would it not be better for the Government to find these poor people employment, or give them some money to earn on works, and not allow them to be demoralized by this system of relief? It was far better that the Government should have recourse to the most lavish and open-handed relief, than that it should be said the English people and Parliament allowed any number, however small, to perish of famine. He thought it was the duty of the House to absolve its conscience of any neglect or trifling with this matter. It would be unworthy of the people of this country that this should happen. It was bad enough to see the begging-box go around the world; but, in Heaven's name, let it not be said that the Government was wanting in courage and promptitude to relieve such distress as that which now existed in Ireland In Killarney from 3,000 to 4,000 able-bodied persons were in receipt of relief, being entirely unemployed. He was afraid, if he were to suggest remedies, his remedies would hardly be of an orthodox character, or in accordance with the views of political economists. He did not believe that Ireland could be governed in full accord with those economical theories which worked satisfactorily in England. In England everything was left to individual enterprize, for they had capital and a population well-fed; but in Ireland he did not believe they could conduct the government on that principle. He knew he was sinning against what was called "political economy" in what he was about to say; but he would appeal to the House to remember what happened in the British Colonies. If 425 Ireland was a British Colony, would she be as she was? Take the Australian Colony, for example. There the State made the railways, the piers, and harbours, and took the lead in developing the Colonies. It was said it would not pay to make railways in Ireland. He rejoiced to think that the vote which he gave in that House was to buy up the Irish railways. Some day that would be done. He did not know any more ill-managed railways in the world than the Irish railways. Take the case of Clifden, which was 50 miles from Donegal. What means had the people of that place of taking their fish or agriculture to market? It was 50 miles drive from Galway, with hardly any means of conveyance; and when you went to Galway, it took as long to go from Galway to Dublin as from London to Edinburgh. Ireland wanted better and cheaper means of transport. In that very large district there were thousands of men on the very verge of starvation. In a few more weeks they would be too much enfeebled to perform manual labour. To make a cheap railway from Clifton to Galway was far better than pauperizing the people, for it would be of practical service to the country. It was not thought so strange for New Zealand to make her own railways, nor the whole of the Australian Colonies to make their railways, and develop the back part of the Colony. He did not think there was anything more wanted for Ireland than that these places should be provided with facilities such as he had described, for the purpose of removing her produce to the markets. In the West of Ireland the people were shut in, and had no idea of moving, and what he wanted was to open up the country. If the money wasted during the last four or five years in wars in South Africa and Afghanistan had been spent on Ireland, that country would be much more prosperous to-day, and the House would not at that moment be dwelling on the painful condition of her people. He thought, from the evidence which had been adduced, that the Government had not made ample and adequate provision for the dangers which were before them. From the evidence before him (Mr. Mundella), there were thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands, of our Irish fellow-subjects who were enduring the pangs of slow 426 starvation. That must have its result in disease and death. In a few weeks or months hence they would be face to face with a terrible calamity, for which no adequate provision had been made. Admitting that the Amendment was not perfect, he must say it was moderate. It said that—Her Majesty's Government, although in possession of timely warning and information, have not taken adequate steps to meet promptly and efficaciously the severe distress now existing and increasing in Ireland.He believed they had not. He could not find a single county in Ireland in which any number of men had been employed either in public works or through the grants to the landlords, or that the Boards of Guardians had acted in a spirited manner. Why, the Boards of Guardians were themselves in a very bad condition, and hardly likely to load themselves with liabilities which they could hardly possibly meet. The occupier was, in many instances, on the verge of the workhouse. He had heard of an Irish landlord giving out doles, in order that the tenant might not abandon his little plot and go into the workhouse. Where that was the case it could hardly be expected that the Guardians would undertake heavier rates. He hoped the Government would therefore act promptly and with generosity. He was quite sure the House would not be slow in voting the Government what was required to meet the exigencies of the case. The hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had said that he saw many public works in 1847; that there were idle fellows upon them who were clamorous when they were not paid. But what happened in Lancashire? In the Report of Mr. Rawlinson, it was stated that when once the Lancashire weavers were set to work by proper engineers their willingness was marvellous. When the men were treated like men, and not like paupers, they acted like men. Were not Irishmen always found doing the hard and rough work of England and every country to which they went; and would they not do the same in their own country if only the thing were properly managed and arranged? It was humiliating, after the long connection between the two countries, to find Ireland in the miserable condition she was in to-day. That was no new thing; it 427 was only an episode in the history of Ireland; and if it was to be brought to an end we must deal with Ireland in a different manner from what we had done hitherto. The Amendment proposed that something should be done with regard to the land. Hon. Gentlemen opposite declaimed against persons who proposed any change in the tenure of land in Ireland. No one who knew anything of the financial condition of Ireland, especially of the farmers of that country to-day and 10 years ago, could deny that the Land Act of the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had done great things for the people of Ireland. He could say that from his own experience. But much still remained to be done. Fixity of tenure was spoken of by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge (Mr. Marten) as confiscation. Well, he (Mr. Mundella) had the authority of a noble Lord (Lord Monck) who was a Member of the Upper House and a distinguished servant of the Crown, being the Chairman of the Church Commissioners, and who was, moreover, an Irish landlord, to state, with reference to the work of the Church Commissioners, that the arrests were a mere bagatelle, and that the tenants denied themselves in order to meet their liability. Lord Monck further said that for 12 years past he had been an advocate of fixity of tenure, which he believed was the only real settlement of the Land Question. Now, Lord Monck was not a revolutionist or an agitator, and there was no man who had a better knowledge of what he talked about. England had not done its duty to Ireland. There must be a new state of things in our dealing with public works, the Land Question, political equality, and with self-government. He would, therefore, vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, it would be an unfortunate impression to go abroad that there had not been much interest shown by English Members in the views and objects of Members for Ireland; and admitting that Irish Members were entitled to the first place in the debate, and having listened to them with great attention, he should be sorry if it were supposed that in a matter concerning an important part of the British Empire English Members were not prepared to take their part. He fully concurred with the hon. Member for Bir- 428 mingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who was the first English Member to speak in favour of the Amendment, except on one point. The hon. Gentleman had said he had never voted for the Committee of Inquiry into Home Rule, and he did not intend to do so; but he (Mr. Rylands) differed from his hon. Friend here, and should vote for a Committee of Inquiry. He had done this conscientiously; he repudiated the statement that certain English Members intended to vote for the inquiry in order to throw dust in the eyes of the supporters of Home Rule. He should vote for the Committee in the hope that the House might thus ascertain what was really proposed for the better government of Ireland; and if it could be shown that there were means of leading to such a result, he, for one, would cheerfully accept the conclusions of the Committee. He was aware of the imputations to which he might expose himself by these remarks. They had been told on high authority that to be in favour of Home Rule was to be disloyal to the Throne. He was not sure whether to vote for a Committee of Inquiry would equally be an act of disloyalty. Lord Ramsay was charged with having trafficked with the Home Rule vote. He (Mr. Rylands) had the honour of a conversation with Lord Ramsay before any communication was made to him by the Home Rulers, and Lord Ramsay entirely agreed with him that any proposal of the Irish people for inquiry, with a view to secure better government for their country, ought to be granted. It was usual, when a section of the House demanded a Committee of Inquiry, to grant it as a matter of courtesy; the demands, therefore, of the great body of the Irish people certainly deserved to be treated with respect. Surely they were not to be stigmatized contemptuously as Home Rulers, even though the Prime Minister, who since the days of Tadpole and Taper had been the great manufacturer of Party cries, and who, a generation ago, suggested the cry of "Our young Queen and our old Constitution," now raised the cry of the "integrity of the British Empire." Were they to be told that, in supporting inquiry, they were in favour of the disintegration of the Empire and false to the Queen? [Admiral Sir WILLIAM EDMONSTONE: Hear, hear!] The hon. and gallant Admiral cheered 429 that statement; and it was necessary to remind him that, at the present moment, there was Home Rule in Canada. Was Canada within the British Empire? In the Australian Colonies also there was Home Rule. But perhaps the hon. and gallant Admiral thought those cases were different, because they were so far off, or because they were Colonies. Well, there was Home Rule in the Isle of Man. Was it disintegration of the British Empire to have a certain amount of Home Rule in the Isle of Man? There were Manx patriots who managed their own affairs and passed laws on their own Tynwald, and who would resent any attempt to deprive them of their privileges. The fact was that all the talk about disintegration was a mere hypocritical pretext, intended to disguise the real objection to Home Rule, which was, not that it would lead to the disintegration of the Empire—for nobody proposed that—but because it would give the Irish people some control over their own affairs. He did not understand the Home Rule Party to desire the disintegration of the Empire. The fact was that the Government remembered that in Ireland there were bitter memories of confiscation, oppression, and injustice, and knowing that there was still much of which the Irish people might complain, they objected to giving them greater control over their own affairs; but why did they not say so? To say that the Home Rulers contemplated the disintegration of the Empire was to use a misleading expression, and one not justified by the facts of the case. He did not wish to see an extreme measure of Home Rule, but desired merely to see what its advocates would allege before a Committee of the House. Now, with reference to the debate, he would remark that those English Members who had not opposed the conduct of the Government had damned it with very faint praise indeed; while the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), in justifying the Ministerial policy, had had to rely on impressions that had proved absolutely false, and of which most had proceeded from the presumption that the Government had done right. Even when the contrary was shown to be the case, the right hon. Gentleman's magnanimity had still made him inclined to support them. For himself, his (Mr. Rylands') experience of 430 the Government generally produced a presumption that they were wrong; and certainly, in the present case, he did not hesitate to support the Amendment, because in its own words—Although they were in possession of timely warning, they had not taken adequate stops to meet promptly and efficaciously the severe distress now existing and increasing in Ireland.He would tell them why he believed this charge true. Last May, on the Motion for adjournment over Whitsuntide, the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) moved to limit the period of adjournment to allow the House the opportunity of considering the subject of agricultural distress. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) seconded the Amendment, and, in doing so, said—He was perfectly certain that the distress in Ireland had "become so great as to render an attempt by Parliament to deal with the question imperative and unavoidable. They heard from farmers, priests, and peasants alike, that the crisis was imminent, urgent, and even perilous.And he appealed to the Government to—Give some assurance to the Irish peasantry which might send them a gleam of hope."—[3Hansard,ccxlvi. 1392–3.]When the attention of the Government was thus called to the approaching distress, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland, so far from giving the Irish peasantry a gleam of hope, treated the matter with indifference, stating that he was glad to think the depression was neither so prevalent nor acute as the depression in other parts of the Kingdom. But even supposing that there were districts in England in which the distress was as great as in Ireland, the right hon. Gentleman must know that the means of meeting it were very different; and that in Ireland agricultural depression brought with it evils which were not likely to affect any other part of the Kingdom. But what had occurred since had proved that the right hon. Gentleman was entirely wrong; and yet so recently as June last, when his attention was directed to the representations as to the prevalence of agricultural distress made by Boards of Guardians and by Roman Catholic Bishops and clergy, he treated the matter not only with levity, but with what he might almost call insolence. 431 ["Oh, oh!"] He did not wish to say a word that was personally offensive to the right hon. Gentleman; but his answers on the question had been of a character which naturally excited a good deal of irritation. It seemed as if the Government were not only indisposed to listen to the representation of Irish Members, but were determined to put them aside with language which was certainly calculated to annoy. From the circumstances, he had come to the conclusion that the Government had information which might reasonably have led them to take measures to prepare for the extreme distress and danger which now existed. He was not prepared to oppose any suggestion which the Government might make for the removal of Irish distress; but he was bound to say that the proposal to grant money to landowners for effecting improvements on their estates was open to very serious objections. The relief measures of the Government were correctly described byThe Timesin the words "the Irish Church Fund pays for all;" and the same article also said that—Mr. Disraeli opposed the Irish Church Bill, on the ground that the spoliation of churches had always ended in the enrichment of landlords.It seemed that even yet the Irish landlords might have a further portion of the spoil. If the landlords wore merely unwilling to make improvements they ought to be compelled to do so; for, in his opinion, property ought to bear the charges necessary to prevent distress in the country. If, however, the landowners were unable to make improvements, this was very strong evidence that they could not fulfil the trust on which alone landed property should be held in such large quantities. A very high authority, Judge Longfield, had laid down the dictum that landed property was unlike other property, because it was held as a trust, and that the tenure of land should be modified from time to time in accordance with the general interests of the community. Therefore he thought they had a right to deal boldly and freely with the question by Act of Parliament. He hoped the Government would adopt some means to prevent the recurrence of these desolating famines in Ireland. It was of the greatest importance that some of the suggestions of the right hon. Member 432 for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) should be carried out, that peasant proprietors should be called into existence, and that concurrently with that some means should be devised by which the occupier might be preserved from the unjust exactions of the owner, and should be inspired with such confidence in his position as would induce him to make the best efforts for the improvement of the soil. The hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. J. P. Corry), in seconding the Address in reply to the Speech, referred to emigration as the great panacea for the removal of all the evils of Ireland; but his (Mr. Rylands') belief was that Ireland, with proper cultivation and more equal distribution, would support a much larger population than she had at present. In proof of that, he need only refer to the case of the Channel Islands, where there was a greater distribution of landed proprietors, a very much larger number of families in proportion to the acreage was supported by agriculture. If the occupiers of the soil in Ireland had confidence that the fruits of their labour and industry would not be taken from them in increased rents, the land would be better cultivated and the people would be much more prosperous. If they wanted to get rid of the demand for Home Rule, they must govern Ireland in the interests of the Irish people; they must seek by just laws to develop the industry of the country, and to make it a happy and prosperous portion of the British Dominions.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
wished to remind the House that the Irish Government, in communicating with the Treasury on the 14th November, had laid down a very important proposition, which they had since been obliged to abandon—namely, that the gratuitous distribution of the necessaries of life would be productive of very serious evils. They had since then been compelled to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that there should actually be a gratuitous distribution of necessaries. The first position taken up was that employment might be given through the landowners; and in the advice the Treasury had given to the Irish Government on, he believed, the same date, there was evidence that they foresaw the gravity of the occasion. One, however, of the three Inspectors selected by the Irish Government, at a salary of £500 a-year, was a young gen- 433 tleman who had no experience; he was appointed in the county of Mayo, where the greatest distress prevailed, and this fact was regarded in Ireland as quite unworthy of a wise Government. It was evident that the latter had miscalculated the resources upon which they could rely for the sustenance of the people. The proposal now was that outdoor relief should be given; but he contended such a course would not have been necessary if the Government had carefully deliberated on some plan of public works. The necessity of out-door relief to the large extent which was now imperative was altogether the result of the miscalculations of the Government, and the question now was—Who was to bear the burden of the out-door relief, and how was it to be procured? It had been suggested that it should be given by the Boards of Guardians. But should they give it? Was there the means of giving it within their reach? The landlords were admittedly impoverished, and so were the tenants; and the result of out-door relief being largely given from the rates would result in the generation of a new kind of pauper and a fresh kind of distress. If the Government did not want to render the famine permanent, but to reduce it to a temporary duration, the relief must be provided from some other than those rates. Considering that it was owing to the mistake of the Government that the present dilemma arose, he thought it was not at all unfair or unconscionable that the Imperial Treasury should be called upon to tear the burden of the proposed out-door relief. The people of Ireland were quite ready to bear their average, and more than their average, Poor Law expenditure; but they were not willing to bear the burden of a large out-door relief, which had become necessary by the miscalculation of the Government. He was quite sure that the opinion of the people of England would join with them in calling upon the Government to pursue a course of such obvious policy. If, however, the rates were to be burdened with any portion of the out-door relief which was occasioned by the famine, he had a word to say as to the manner in which the rates were to be levied. It would be unfair, he contended, to charge them upon the electoral districts, and it would be equally unjust to charge them upon the Unions, because it was well 434 known that the famine was confined to isolated places. If they threw on the rate a uniform charge on out-door relief they did a great deal of harm. The view he took of the distress was that it was a national calamity affecting all districts in Ireland, and whatever charges arose in consequence they ought to be raised by a national rate. The matter of the out-door relief being owing to the Government, it ought to be borne by an Imperial Parliament. He did not think it was at all necessary for the Seconder of the Address (Mr. J. P. Corry) to have introduced into his speech the subject of Home Rule, and it might very well have been omitted. He said that the greater part of the Irish Members thought it meant the repeal of the Union; but this was not the case. It was also said that they were seeking the disseverance of the Empire; but they were doing nothing of the kind. They only wanted to control their own affairs. As for the charge of being false to their Sovereign and country, it was not the Home Rulers, but the Government, who would be false to the highest interests of the country if, in a district within 24 hours' journey of the Metropolis, the present distress was allowed to ripen into famine.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
admitted that the debate had been a long one, and he believed there was a general desire that it should come to a conclusion that night. ["Hear, hear!"] That being so, he would occupy only a very few minutes of the attention of the House. He had listened very carefully to the greater part of the debate, in the earnest desire to learn what the real condition of Ireland was, and in order that he might judge whether the efforts of the Government were commensurate with the circumstances. Well, he had been forced to come to the conclusion that the state of Ireland was serious, and also that the efforts of the Government had not met the difficulties by which they were faced. He was not going to make many quotations. It was too late to do that; but he would refer for a moment to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Member for Tipperary (Mr. Gray), because if any Member of the Government intended to reply to anything that had been advanced, he wished he would give some answer to the statements to which he referred. The right hon. the Lord Mayor of Dublin said that 435 his Committee had given him abundant testimony from persons representing all religious and political creeds that there was not only danger of the people dying from starvation, but that they were so dying; that they were living on one meal of Indian corn a-day, and that they could no longer get credit for that. If that statement were true, it seemed to him (Mr. Jacob Bright) that that alone would compel them to say that the Government had been unfortunate and had not met the difficulties of the case. They who sat there might think it a slight thing to have one meal a-day, and that of Indian corn; but their common sense would tell them what the result would be. If they wanted any scientific information on the subject the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) was competent to give it; in fact, he gave it in his speech last night. He said that such diet would lead to disease, to fever, probably to pestilence, it might be slow death. If the Members of that House were for the next few weeks or months fed on that diet; if they had only one unvarying meal of Indian corn per day, he (Mr. Jacob Bright) ventured to say that the attendance of the House would gradually grow thinner, and in a little time the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair would disappear, because there would be no one over whom to preside. He supposed the statement of the right hon. the Lord Mayor of Dublin, to which he had referred, was true; he supposed that to-day and to-morrow a large number of people would be trying to live on this meal of Indian corn. If that were the case, was he not justified in voting for the Amendment which said that the efforts of the Government had been inadequate to the case? The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had deprecated any attempt to speak on the Land. Question—or, in other words, to discuss the causes of the catastrophe. He undertook to say that there was no country in Europe having anything like the climate of Ireland that could avoid famine, if it had the same Land Laws. Suggestions had been made to the Government by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Heading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) and others with respect to changes in the Land Laws. So far, however, as he understood the position of the Government, it was that they looked with disdain on every one of those 436 suggestions, and refused to have anything to do with them. Still, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and every capable man on the Government Benches would admit that those laws could not remain as they were. But it might be urged that the Government had announced its intention of reforming the Land Laws. Yes, from the reference made to the subject in Her Majesty's Speech, he gathered that they intended to tinker that great question, as they had done that of the English tenant right by the inoperative Agricultural Holdings Bill. That would not meet the exigencies of the case. If the Government rejected plans proposed by the Opposition, it should certainly have some scheme of its own, and one equal to the occasion. A good deal had been said about Home Rule. It seemed that a Home Ruler in Ireland was a very objectionable person, but that a Homo Ruler in England was guilty almost of a crime. He had thought that it was our boast in this country that discussion and opinion were free; that we were entitled to criticize any one of our institutions, and to condemn it, or approve, according to the reason of the case. He did not, therefore, understand why men were to be ostracized because they came to the conclusion that some of our institutions were not good, or were capable of amendment. He believed that if England was in the same position as Ireland; if she were governed by a powerful overshadowing neighbour; if she were a purely agricultural country, with a great land monopoly; if the owners of the land were many of them absentees, doing nothing for the land; if the cultivators of the soil were tenants-at-will, with no security that the results of their toil would be their own, and with no possibility of leading independent lives; if these were the circumstances in which we were placed, he believed Englishmen and Scotchmen would be Home Rulers, and would not rest until they had obtained their own Parliament, or secured such a measure of justice as would satisfy the people. It had been said that to vote for an inquiry into the grounds of the demand for Home Rule was a perilous thing, because it would inspire false hopes in the Irish people. He did not see the force of that objection. The 437 Irish were not children. They had a free Press; they had a most active body of Representatives; for nearly half-a-century they had had a National School system. The country could not be so ignorant as this objection implied. He had voted for the Committee of Inquiry, and should vote for it again. There were 5,000 men in Manchester of Irish nationality who had an earnest desire for this inquiry; and if any other 5,000 men had a strong and abiding desire for inquiry into some important subject he would vote as they wished. He was not anxious for the inquiry; but he believed it would do more good than harm—it would help to convince the Irish people of the impractibility, if not of the impossibility, of restoring the Irish Parliament. It would do a great deal to convince England and the Party opposite, which was always so slow to learn, that before they could stifle the cry for Home Rule they would have to give a fuller measure of justice than they were yet prepared to grant. He must say, in conclusion, that he wished the Government would act with liberality and decision in the relief of Irish distress. It would not look well if it came to be known in foreign countries that the Irish people were allowed by England to live upon famine wages. He was quite aware that there was no hope of the present Government legislating with a view to remove the causes of Irish distress; and, therefore, he trusted they would soon give place to another Government who would undertake the radical reform of the Irish Land Laws.
§ MR. FINIGAN
said, that in November last he waited upon the Chief Secretary for Ireland with regard to certain public works required in the county of Clare, and he also waited upon the Secretary to the Treasury with regard to Clare Castle Harbour. That harbour had been allowed by the Government to get out of repair, and when the Irish Famine arose the Irish Board of Works was appealed to. In November last the Government promised £2,000 at 5 per cent; but up to this time the Government had not expended one penny. That was but one specimen of the manner in which the Government treated these matters. He had little faith in either Liberals or Conservatives; but he could say that until Irish affairs were talked of with some regard to justice, the House was wasting its time in trying to 438 govern Ireland. It could misrule Ireland as it always had done. The Government had no honest aim or intention of relieving the people of Ireland. Mention had been made of Home Rulers. Well, he did not regret the result of the Liverpool election; but there were 50 constituencies in England where the Home Rulers would do as they had done at Liverpool. Irishmen were determined to agitate this question until justice was done to Ireland.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
My first word is an expression of the deepest sympathy on behalf of the Irish people suffering from this distress. In speaking this way for myself, I but echo the feeling of every individual Member of the Cabinet. I can assure hon. Members that there is no subject which has received a more tender consideration from us than this evil which afflicts so many parts of Ireland. Having said so much, I think I am justified in claiming some sympathy—after all the speeches which have been made—on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, because if we had never thought of the subject at all, if the matter had come upon us absolutely by surprise, if we had taken no steps to avoid the calamity, then the strong words which have been used—and stronger language could not have been made use of than has been used—would not have been made use of in vain. I think the passage in Her Majesty's gracious Speech relating to Ireland adequately describes the situation; but of the Amendment that has been moved I make no complaint. I would recall to the memory of the House the most able and temperate speech in which the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) supported the Amendment. On a question of this kind I feel it natural that Irish Members coming from their constituencies, deeply feeling the distress existing in a considerable part of Ireland, wish to inform the House of Commons on their first appearance here of what they know is happening in that country, and to present a picture of the condition of the people there. The hon. Member for Cork began by saying that the last harvest was exceptionally bad, the crops did not ripen, and fuel as well as food failed, entailing serious distress in many parts of the country on the small farmers, and considerable distress on large farmers. That is true, to a certain 439 extent. He said that the Memorials which he mentioned as having been presented at different times asked that relief should not be given in alms, that nothing should be done to pauperize the people, but that money should be given in some way for useful relief works, and that the Guardians should have power to grant out-door relief. Therefore, taking the statement of the hon. Member for Cork with the facts brought forward by him, I can find no cause of complaint regarding it, or as to the remedies he has suggested. Further, he has stated, in almost as accurate language as I could state myself, the conclusion Her Majesty's Government came to on the information presented to them, and pointed out the remedies we had thought proper to take, and which, practically, have been taken. The hon. Member, together with other hon. Members, alluded to the Papers laid before the House. One hon. Member argued as if the Papers before the House were the only communications which had passed between the Irish and English Governments; and that because a letter had been written from the Irish Office to the Treasury on a Sunday, either the letter was not considered by the Treasury at all, or that there had been such haste that they had not had time to consider the question. The real fact was that from the time the matter was first brought under the notice of the Government here by the Lord Lieutenant up to the present it had never ceased to engage the attention of the Government, and the letters which had been read were the result of communications that had been constantly made by the authorities in Ireland to the authorities at home, and simply stated the conclusion to which they practically led. Hon. Members, again, seemed to have jumped at the conclusion that measures which it had been thought necessary to take now were the same measures which ought to have been taken three or four months ago. I beg leave to dispute that absolutely, and I beg to say that although it may be quite true that certain measures are necessary now, and that measures ought to and will be taken by the Government, if we had taken those measures' in October or November we should have done infinite harm to the people of Ireland—["No, no!"]—we should have done infinite 440 harm to the people of Ireland, we should have caused great disturbance, and we should have done an injury not only to Ireland, but to the country at large. But do not think it is not in our contemplation to take those measures now. What happened was this—that the moment the Lord Lieutenant laid his information before us, from time to time we discussed the whole question well, and we came to the conclusion as to what steps ought to be taken according to the circumstances as they arose; and the steps we have taken lately and are now prepared to take, and shall be prepared to take in the future, are not steps which we have come to the conclusion to adopt now for the first time, but they are the result of long and continued deliberation some time back, only that we determined to take them when we thought the occasion called upon us to do so, and we considered that we should not do so before. That is the very truth of the case, and I venture to say that if we had taken those steps before we should not have been worthy of the trust placed in us. I think if we had adopted the suggestion of some hon. Members, that we should have come forward with large-heartedness, and distributed relief, either in kind or in money, at that time we should have done great evil to the Irish people. What we did was this. We thought, and I believe rightly, that on the first approach of the signs of distress in a case of this kind, the proper course to adopt, the first step to take, before the distress became general, was undoubtedly to fall back upon the institution which, after the experience of the Famine of 1846–7, was re-modelled—I mean the Irish Poor Law Board—and to call the attention of all those who were locally engaged in the administration of the Irish Poor Law to the state of the case, and instruct them to do their duty in preparing for the emergency. Primarily, undoubtedly, the Guardians were responsible for the administration of relief; but if we had not done that which I have stated, and had taken what are called "large-hearted measures" at that time, I believe we should have pursued a wrong course. Our first duty was to warn the Guardians of the distress which was likely to arise during the coming winter, and to warn them of the information which we had received as to 441 the deficiency in the crops, and we should have been proceeding on wrong lines if we had not done so. One hon. Member stated that the only relief we held out was that the workhouses were to be whitewashed and furnished. I may say that, unless we had pointed out to the Guardians that for a long time the workhouses had not been put in order, we should have been guilty of a dereliction of duty. We had been made to ascertain what had happened; and having got that information, the first step we were bound to take was to see that the machinery which the law had provided to meet such an emergency should be put into complete order for operation. Now, the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has spoken in the course of this evening, and who has occupied the responsible position of Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Law) spoke of the Irish Poor Law as "a brutal law." I will not say I think it deserving of that epithet, neither am I going to say that that law does not deserve amendment; but I must remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that it was passed after due consideration immediately after the Famine of 1846–7, and remodelled. I think it was in 1863—and I must remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman that that measure was not passed by us, but by the Liberal Government of that day. As to the question of out-door relief, I am bound to say that, from the best advice I have received, he is mistaken in the notion that out-door relief cannot be granted to a person in possession of a quarter of an acre of land. He can, I believe, in the first place, receive that relief instead of going to the workhouse; and it is quite certain that, whether he can receive it or not, it can be administered to his wife and children. I speak with great deference to a person of the high authority of the late Attorney General for Ireland; but I believe I am correct. Well, a Circular was issued to the Boards of Guardians, to the effect which I have stated. But we did not let matters rest there. We thought that, considering the scattered nature of the population of Ireland, the Guardians should be warned that it might be necessary to have a much larger staff to take the relief that was given from door to door. We therefore called upon them, to add considerably to 442 their staffs, so that there should be no doubt that when the relief was given there should be people to carry it, and find out who it was that required relief. We also took care that the staff of Inspectors of the Local Government Board should be considerably increased, for the purpose of getting information as early as possible as to any change that might take place. Therefore, I think Her Majesty's Government did not neglect anything that they ought to have done to secure that the machinery should, in the inception of the distress, be made available for immediate use, and as efficient as the foresight of the Government could secure. It is said—"But you ought to have done more than that. You should have gone further, and taken other steps." I may state that our information was not that there was a certainty of failure in the crops, but that they would be reduced to about a quarter of a crop, and, in some cases, even less than a quarter of the average; but it came to this—that the crop would last for a certain number of months, and probably up to a certain time, and that it was not before that particular time that the people would be likely to feel the pinch and pressure which no doubt would come. I think it must be quite clear that, although, as I have said, it is perfectly true we had come to a conclusion as to the steps which ought to be taken when that pinch and pressure came, it would have been very wrong if we had made more provision to meet it at an earlier time, because then we should have been doing harm instead of good. Then as to the deficiencies of the Poor Law, no doubt there were two points on which it was thought that it would be insufficient. One was that the Guardians could not give outdoor relief to able-bodied paupers so long as the workhouses were not full, and the next point referred to those people who were holders of a quarter of an acre of land. But we strongly recommended at the end of October or the beginning of November that there should be a relaxation of the rule in those cases; and we gave permission to the Local Government Board in Ireland that whenever they thought it necessary to relax the provisions of the law they had ample power to do so, in order to prevent the smallest risk of famine arising. The result was that the Local Govern- 443 ment Board, although they issued no Circular on the subject, constantly had Reports from their Inspectors; and they were prepared, at any moment, if it had been proved to them that there was a necessity, to relax the Poor Law in either of those cases. They were prepared at that time—I think it was about November 14—at any moment to relax the ordinary rules. That is the one point to which the hon. Member for Cork has referred, and which we were bound to give our attention to, and I say that that was the first thing to which we did give our attention. It would have been wrong to send that Circular to the Boards of Guardians before the necessity arose. As it is, some of the Boards of Guardians, I am sorry to say, in cases where there could be no reason for anything of the kind, did make application to give out-door relief; so it is quite clear that if the power had been given to all the Boards of Guardians at once, numberless applications would have been made. It was, therefore, thought best to leave it to the discretion of the Local Government Board to act as they might think fit. Can it be thought that the Local Government Board or the Lord Lieutenant would have hesitated for one single moment in case of necessity to act upon the permission given them? I hold, therefore, that although it was right at the time to grant the relaxation, there was nothing to justify its being granted broadcast. It was only wise at the time that precautions should be taken with respect to the relaxation of the Poor Law provisions, because then the crops had not been used up; whereas, had these precautions not been taken, the people would have been induced to eat up their seed potatoes, and the distress would have been hurried on. Now, however, the time has arrived when it should be made generally known to the Guardians that it is the wish of the Government that they should have certain powers of affording out-door relief to able-bodied persons holding a quarter of an acre of land. Do not, therefore, accuse the Government of negligence in this case, because they not only thought it right to give the Local Government Board those powers, but took upon them that responsibility, knowing it to be against the law, and that they would have to come to the House for a 444 Bill of Indemnity. I do not know what other steps the Government could have taken, and. I am convinced that the steps they have taken are wise, and at the present moment are producing good fruit. In connection with the rule that outdoor relief must be withheld from the able-bodied poor unless when the workhouses are full, I wish to repeat a fact which has already been mentioned—namely, that not a single workhouse, as far as I am informed, has yet been full in any part of Ireland. I admit as freely as anyone that the Irish people dislike going into the workhouse; it is a most honourable feeling, one that is shared by the people of England, and I am glad that the Guardians have now the power of granting out-door relief without imposing upon them that necessity. Another point now arises. Anyone who considers the question, as the Government had to do when it came before them, will see that the Guardians would be unwilling to overburden the rates more than could be avoided—and the more distressed a district might be the more necessary it would be not to do so. "Well, to meet that difficulty we acted against the law, and early in January gave authority to the Local Government Board to make loans of money for certain purposes on easier terms than usual in order to find employment for the people and afford them an opportunity of earning money for their support. Further than that, when the time of pressure became greater, and the rate at which the money was offered was not such as to induce either the local landlords or the authorities to borrow money, the Government again, without going to Parliament, authorized the Local Government Board to entertain applications, not at the old, but at much lower rates. Well, a great deal has been said to the effect that the Government ought to have set up large public works, such as railways and harbours, in the first instance. From that opinion I entirely differ, and I hold that everyone who reads the accounts of the Famine in 1846 and 1847 will come to the same conclusion. I hold that it is far better to find employment in natural channels, far better that the landlords in the distressed districts should find work for persons living on the spot. In consequence of the great facilities placed in the way of landlords and local authorities, a sum 445 approaching £500,000 has already been applied for, and the works undertaken with this money will go on. A gentleman who knows, perhaps, more of the agricultural districts of Ireland than anyone else, has told me that the amount of drainage and improvement that is going on this year owing to the facilities that have been given will be greater than for many years past. No one can foresee all the benefits that will accrue to the labourers and the land. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), who has spoken in the course of the debate, has thought proper to stigmatize the mode of giving relief which has been adopted; but the Government have deemed it to be the best course to take to relieve the poor in the districts in which they live. If a large sum of money were given for the construction of great public works, such as railways, piers, and harbours, labour for the purpose would undoubtedly be procured; but labourers from England and Scotland might be employed, and in that way the Government would not be assisting on the spot those whom they sought to aid. And when the Government are charged with neglect in dealing with the distress in Ireland, I must tell the House that which is the real truth—that the subject has been under their consideration for a long time. They have before them, for instance, the question of giving seed. I had a long conversation with the Vice President of the Local Government Board only this very day, and the question was under our notice, even as to what could be done with regard to supplying seed next year. But if in the month of September the Government had said that they were prepared to give seed next year, the result might have been that the stock of potatoes would have been much more rapidly consumed, and that would have produced harm instead of good; whereas, by keeping back the question, the Government are in a position to determine when it is necessary that seed should be found. I am, I think, therefore, justified in saying that the matter has not been overlooked, while I am perfectly willing to accept the Second Reading of the Bill which has been brought in by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan). As to out-door relief, it is well that it should be borne in mind that the Guardians 446 themselves are in a very poor condition, and power is given to borrow money for that purpose, as well as for public works.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
asked whether the money would be advanced on the security of the Consolidated Fund?
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
The hon. and gallant Member must not ask for details at present. The House will accept the principle as showing the sympathy of the Government, and that we are determined to afford what relief we can to the distressed. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) has made some extraordinary observations, and has quoted the expressions of a noble Lord, whom everyone holds in the highest respect, with regard to railways. I should like to know how the provisions he recommends would work, for it would be a good thing if there were these branch railways constructed to bring produce to the market. I would be very glad to see them constructed—by other means, however, than those suggested by the hon. Member for Sheffield. So far as the action of the Government goes, I may mention that I have before me a letter from Lord Monck, in which he says that what he objects to is the proposal for the construction of public works out of funds to be provided for by baronial sessions.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
I am aware of that; but all I mean to suggest is, that against the one opinion I am entitled to put the other. Now, I do not think it would be desirable to continue the debate. I believe it is the wish of every person in the House that it should be closed. I believe I have shown to the House, the Irish Members, the country, and especially the people of Ireland, that Her Majesty's Government have not been indifferent to the condition of that country. I quite concur that any Executive Government must, in such circumstances as the present, have a very difficult task to discharge. Their hearts may lead them one way; their duty might say that they should take another direction. The wish and the intention of Her Majesty's Government throughout has been to relieve the existing distress. We believe we have taken the wisest course to effect that object, but we have taken it as the occa- 447 sion arose; and I hope that the House will not think that, because legislative action has not been resorted to until now, Her Majesty's Government have not long since determined upon the course they should recommend to Parliament with a view to meet the present emergency. From the first the Government were determined that, in these unfortunate circumstances, no calamity should fall upon the people of Ireland.
§ Question put.
§ The Housedivided:—Ayes 66 Noes 216: Majority 150.449
|Allen, W. S.||Meldon, C. H.|
|Bell, I. L.||Milbank, F. A.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Morley, S.|
|Blake, T.||Mundella, A. J.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Murphy, N. D.|
|Brady, J.||O'Beirne, Major F.|
|Briggs, W. E.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Bright, Jacob||O'Clery, K.|
|Brooks, M.||O'Conor, D. M.|
|Browne, G. E.||O'Donnell, F. H.|
|Cameron, C.||O'Donoghue, The|
|Chamberlain, J.||O'Gorman, P.|
|Collins, E.||O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The|
|Cowen, J.||O'Shaughnessy, R.|
|Dickson, T. A.||O'Sullivan, W. H.|
|Digby, K. T.||Potter, T. B.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||Power, J. O'C.|
|Earp, T.||Redmond, W. A.|
|Errington, G.||Rylands, P.|
|Fay, C. J.||Shaw, W.|
|Finigan, J. L.||Sheil, E.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Gabbett, D. F.||Smith, E.|
|Gourley, E. T.||Smyth, P. J.|
|Havelock, Sir H.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Henry, M.||Swanston, A.|
|James, W. H.||Synan, E. J.|
|Jenkins, E.||Ward, M. F.|
|Lawson, Sir W.||Wedderburn, Sir D.|
|Lea, T.||Whitworth, B.|
|MacCarthy, J. G.|
|Macdonald, A.||Nolan, Major J. P.|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.||Power, R.|
|Agnew, R. V.||Benett-Stanford, V. F.|
|Alexander, Colonel C.||Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.|
|Allcroft, J. D.||Beresford, Lord C.|
|Allsopp, H.||Birkbeck, E.|
|Anstruther, Sir W.||Blackburne, Col. J. I.|
|Archdale, W. H.||Boord, T. W.|
|Arkwright, A. P.||Bourke, hon. R.|
|Ashley, hon. E. M.||Bowyer, Sir G.|
|Assheton, R.||Brown, A. H.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Bulwer, J. R.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Buxton, Sir R. J.|
|Bates, E.||Cameron, D.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Carington, hon. Col. W.|
|Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H.||Cartwright, F.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Home, Captain|
|Chaine, J.||Howard, E. S.|
|Chaplin, H.||Hubbard, E.|
|Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.||Ingram, W. J.|
|Christie, W. L.||Isaac, S.|
|Clifford, C. C.||Jenkins, D. J.|
|Cobbold, T. C.||Johnstone, H.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Jolliffe, hon. S.|
|Cordes, T.||Kennard, Col. E. H.|
|Corry, J. P.||Kensington, Lord|
|Cotton, W. J. R.||Kingscote, Colonel|
|Courtauld, G.||Knowles, T.|
|Crichton, Viscount||Lacon, Sir E. H. K.|
|Cross, rt. hon. R. A.||Laurie, R. P.|
|Cuninghame, Sir W.||Lawrence, Sir T.|
|Davenport, W. B.||Learmonth, A.|
|Davies, R.||Lee, Major V.|
|Denison, W. E.||Leighton, Sir B.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Leighton, S.|
|Digby, Col. hon. E.||Leslie, Sir J.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Lewis, C. E.|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Lindsay, Colonel R. L.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Lindsay, Lord|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Lloyd, S.|
|Elliot, G. W.||Lloyd, T. E.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Ewart, W.||Lowther, hon. W.|
|Ewing, A. O.||Lowther rt. hn. J.|
|Fitzwilliam, hn. W. J.||Macartney, J. W. E.|
|Fletcher, W.||Mackintosh, C. F.|
|Folkestone, Viscount||M'Arthur, W.|
|Forester, C. T. W.||M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.|
|Forster, rt. hon. W. E.||Makins, Colonel|
|Fremantle, hon. T. F.||Mandeville, Viscount|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hn. A.||Manners, rt. hon. Lord J.|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hn. S.||Majoribanks, Sir D. C.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. E.||Marten, A. G.|
|Giffard, Sir H. S.||Master, T. W. C.|
|Giles, A.||Merewether, C. G.|
|Gladstone, W. H.||Miles, Sir P. J. W.|
|Goldney, G.||Mills, A.|
|Gordon, Sir A.||Mills, Sir C. H.|
|Gordon, W.||Monk, C. J.|
|Gorst, J. E.||Montgomerie, R.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||Montgomery, Sir G. G.|
|Goulding, W.||Moray, Col. H. D.|
|Grant, A.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Grant, Sir G. M.||Mulholland, J.|
|Grantham, W.||Noel, E.|
|Greenall, Sir G.||Noel, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Gregory, G. B.||Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Onslow, D.|
|Hamilton, rt. hn. Lord G.||Parker, C. S.|
|Peel, A. W.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hamilton, hon. R. B.||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Hamond, C. F.||Pender, J.|
|Hankey, T.||Pennant, hon. G.|
|Harcourt, Sir W. V.||Percy, Earl|
|Hartington, Marq. of||Phipps, P.|
|Harvey, Sir R. B.||Pim, Captain B.|
|Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.||Plunket, hon. D. R.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Powell, W.|
|Hermon, E.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Hervey, Lord F.||Raikes, H. C.|
|Heygate, W. U.||Ralli, P.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Ramsay, J.|
|Hinchingbrook, Visc.||Read, C. S.|
|Holker, Sir J.||Repton, G. W.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Ridley, E.|
|Holms, W.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Ripley, H. W.||Steere, L.|
|Ritchie, C. T.||Stewart, J.|
|Rothschild, Sir N. M. de||Sykes, C.|
|Round, J.||Talbot, J. G.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Tavistock, Marq. of|
|Sackville, S. G. S.||Taylor, rt. hn. Col. T. E.|
|Salt, T.||Thwaites, B.|
|Samuda, J. D'A.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|Sanderson, T. K.||Tollemache, hon. W. F.|
|Sandon, Viscount||Tremayne, J.|
|Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.||Wallace, Sir R.|
|Scott, M. D.||Walter, J.|
|Seely, C.||Watney, J.|
|Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.||Watson, rt. hon. W.|
|Wheelhouse, W. S. J.|
|Sidebottom, T. H.||Whitley, E.|
|Simonds, W. B.||Wolff, Sir H. D.|
|Smith, rt. hon. W. H.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Yarmouth, Earl of|
|Somerset, Lord H. R. C.||Yeaman, J.|
|Stanhope, hon. E.||Young, A. W.|
|Stanhope, W. T. W. S.|
|Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.||TELLERS.|
|Stanton, A. J.||Dyke, Sir W. H.|
|Starkey, L. R.||Winn, R.|
Bill read a second time, andcommittedforTo-morrow.
§ Main Question put, andagreed to.
§ Committeeappointed,to draw up an Address to be presented to Her Majesty upon the said Resolution:—Colonel DRUMMOND-MORAY, Mr. JAMES CORRY, Mr. CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER, Mr. Secretary CROSS, Mr. Secretary STANLEY, Sir. WILLIAM HENRY SMITH, Sir MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH, Sir HENRY SELWIN-IREETSON, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, Mr. EDWARD STANHOPE, Mr. BOURKE, Viscount BARRINGTON, and Mr. ROWLAND WINN, or any Three of them:—To withdraw immediately:—Queen's Speechreferred.