thought the Bill had not been very carefully drawn, and pointed out several defects, as he considered them, in its construction. In regard to the constitution of relief committees, the third clause did not give the Lord Lieutenant power to appoint those committees, but enabled him merely to issue general or special orders under which their appointment should take place. He again expressed the pain and alarm with which he regarded such measures. If loans and grants were made, as proposed, he knew not how the Irish people could be weaned from the habit of relying for assistance upon this country. The idea of supplying work, wages, and food, was really so wild, that he must protest against the measure; and his fear was, that what might now be done would be much worse than nothing.
The MARQUESS of LONDONDERRY
deprecated the tone assumed by the noble and learned Lord; he thought it hard to run down people who were compelled by circumstances which were entirely beyond their control to seek assistance, and to say that they always relied on others, and not upon themselves. The noble and learned Lord, on a recent occasion, complained of the Irish landlords as persons who were keeping their servants and carriages, and drinking their French wines; but the fault was, not that they had these things, but that they did not have them in Ireland. When they saw noble and learned Lords 388 going abroad and living in France, they were apt to follow the example; but they were naturally sore at being singled out to be complained of, while others went free. Among their misfortunes, not the least was the formation of the so-called "Irish party." If ever there was anything opposed to the best interests of this empire, it was the unfortunate notion that it was necessary to discuss measures for Ireland before they were brought into deliberation in Parliament, and the expectation that, after such discussion, they would receive the unanimous approval of the Members of either House of the Legislature. It led to the impression that Parliament was indifferent to the interests of Ireland. This was a strange union that had taken place between Conciliation-hall and noble Lords. But he believed that in every meeting of that "party," there had been as much disunion as in either House of Parliament, if not more. He begged to express his sincere thanks for the liberality of the people of this country; but he regretted that the measures brought into Parliament had not been more maturely weighed, and that different plans had followed one upon another so fast, that they were hardly understood. The Arms Act ought not to have been allowed to be so long off the Statute-book. The poor-law system ought to be extended, though not to the length contended for by some—a length which would render it very prejudicial to the landed proprietors. But he did not know what would have been the state of the country but for such a poor law even as it had had.
He could assure the noble Marquess he was totally mistaken in supposing that he attacked the Irish people—"run down" the Irish, as he termed it. He did not base his objection to this measure upon any national peculiarity of the Irish; he should have had the same objection to this Bill, if it had applied to the Scotch or the English; the Irish were somewhat less provident than the Scotch, but perhaps not so much less provident than the English. So far from finding fault with the charity of the English towards the Irish, he highly approved and applauded the kindly feeling which had been displayed, and the magnificent donations which had been given by the public. What he objected to was, that any people whatsoever should be led to look for their support to a Government fund of million upon million. As to the charge of absenteeism now brought against him, his resi- 389 dence out of this country was never for above two or three months, at a season of the year when there was no person in this town, and when Parliament was not sitting; and his residence abroad never interfered in the slightest degree with either his duties here, or, as he hoped, in that part of the country with which he was more immediately connected. He had not made any charge against the noble Marquess for not residing in Ireland; no doubt, the noble Marquess was doing great good by residing where he did; but the difference between himself and the noble Marquess was just this, that he, himself, was only absent for two or three months in the year, and the noble Marquess only resided for two or three months. He (Lord Brougham) had thrown no imputation upon the Irish people, and he never grudged them any of the charitable aid afforded by so many persons in this country.
The MARQUESS of LONDONDERRY
I would be the last person to say that the noble and learned Lord should not go to France, or have his boar hunt, or anything he pleases; but still I must say, why should he hunt the Irish landlords, and run them down?
I assure the noble Marquess I never engaged in the diversion of boar-hunting in any part of the Continent.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
was understood to propose to remove the doubt which had been suggested by the noble and learned Lord, by inserting in section three, words directing that the relief committees be constituted not only "in such manner," but "of such persons," as the Lord Lieutenant shall direct. The noble Marquess also proposed some other verbal amendments, including one to meet the objection made on the previous evening by the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Ellen-borough), though the apprehended abuse could not have taken place without a combination of a relief committee with the Lord Lieutenant and the Government to defeat the object of the Legislature.
§ The Amendments were agreed to.
The MARQUESS of WESTMEATH
, in reference to what had been said respecting the Irish party, observed, that in a great calamity like that which had befallen Ire- 390 land, it was only natural that persons belonging to it should assemble together to consider what would be beneficial to their country. With respect to the Bill, he regretted that there was not some provision in it for the more effectual recovery of rates.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
took that opportunity of correcting a mistake in one of Mr. Otway's letters, dated January 17, from Castlebar. In this letter it was stated that a noble connexion of his, Lord Kilmaine, had not paid a great portion of his rates. Since the letter in question was printed and laid on the Table, he had had communication with the noble Lord, and also his agent; and he was authorized by them to say that statement was totally incorrect. All the rates due from Lord Kilmaine had been paid, and that too immediately on application for them. He was not surprised at such errors creeping into the letters, because, from the manner in which the accounts and books were kept, there was great difficulty in the ratepayers knowing what was due from them, and in the assistant-commissioners ascertaining what was the state of the rates. This accounted for such errors as that into which Mr. Otway, no doubt unintentionally, had fallen. With respect to the Bill, he thought it went to prevent the establishment in Ireland of a class of persons whose presence throughout the country would be a real blessing—viz. retail dealers. According to the Bill, the Government were to buy at wholesale and sell at a low retail; and this would have the effect of discouraging the establishment of small retailers in Ireland. He knew that the Bill, under existing circumstances, was absolutely necessary; but he was adverting to a provision in it which it was desirable that the Irish people should understand would cease after the present necessity. He considered that the great curse of Ireland had been the want of retail dealers. He believed that, if, as in England, there had been a large number of retail dealers in that country, the grain already here, and that which would have been imported, would have afforded sufficient food—though certainly at a high price—to prevent three-fourths of the misery which now existed. The misfortune had been the want of the means of distributing food, especially in the more remote districts of the country, rather than the absolute scarcity of food. It appeared from the census returns that there were in England only three labourers to every acre 391 of cultivated land; while in Ireland, according to returns now upon their Lordships' Table, there were above eight labourers to each acre of cultivated land. Now, if they were to introduce an improved and economical system of farming into Ireland, it would be impossible for eight men to each acre of land to obtain such fair wages as were consistent with economical farming; and he was convinced that the only effectual means of benefiting Ireland, and one to which he was satisfied they must eventually resort, was a system of emigration. He also thought that in all engagements between landlord and tenant in Ireland, a clause should be introduced requiring that a system of cultivation should be adopted on the principle of the four-course system, and that every farmer should be compelled to consume his own straw upon his land.
§ Bill read 3a and passed.
§ House adjourned.