HC Deb 22 March 1819 vol 39 cc1119-20
Mr. Arbuthnot

then moved, "That 50,000l. be granted to his majesty, towards defraying the expense of making an inland navigation from the Eastern to the Western sea, by Inverness and Fort William, for the year 1819."

Lord Carhampton

wished the right hon. gentleman would state all the items on which he grounded this claim. It was asked for the Caledonian Canal; but where was Caledonia? The name and the race of the Caledonians had been extinct for 600 years; for since the thirteenth century there had been no such place as Caledonia. Tacitus had told us where Caledonia was in his time; but since that it had been inhabited by the Picts and the Scots. This canal, he believed was begun in 1803. He supposed it was then calculated what it would cost; but how much had been granted since? It was originally devised for the purpose of employing the labourers of Scotland; but all that benefit had been reaped by Ireland.

Lord Binning

said, that the original estimate in 1803 was 500,000l. but it had already cost 700,000l. The question now was, whether they should withhold 50,000l., which were necessary for the completion of a work that gave employment to so many. It had already employed annually 100 workmen of that country. When the nature of the work was considered, it would not be wondered at, that English and Irish labourers had been employed. The chief benefit, however, had been enjoyed by the Scots, the Picts, and the Caledonians—those objects of the noble earl's solicitude. The work had been undertaken at the request of those concerned in the Baltic trade, and on petitions from Ireland, Liverpool, Bristol &c., showing that many ships had been lost in going round the northern extremity of Scotland. In fact, such a canal had been projected as far back as the time of Charles 2nd. There was every prospect that the canal would answer all the purposes for which it had been originally intended. During the last year 152 voyages had been performed through it. The invention of steam-vessels would, he had no doubt, remove those obstacles which, it was feared at one time, would frustrate the object for which the canal was proposed. He believed, that 30,000l. next year would entirely complete the work.

Mr. Hume

hoped the commissioners, before they applied again to the House would have a new estimate, and say expressly what sum would complete the work. His opinion was, that when the canal was finished, the duties on ships would not repay the expense.

Mr. W. Smith

said, that the canal was begun with the best prospect of success, and it was the opinion of every person qualified to judge, that it would be productive of the greatest benefits. It had been supposed, that while the trade to the Baltic would be benefited, labour would incidentally be provided to a great number of workmen, he believed that this incidental advantage had proved even greater than had been anticipated. The spirit of labour which had been introduced into that part of Scotland, was, in his opinion, worth more than all the money that had been voted. Of those who had been employed in this labour, there were not two in a hundred who were not Scotchmen; and surely the noble lord would not object that now and then a poor Irishman should be employed. The work had cost 700,000l., which was more than had at first been thought sufficient; but the question was, whether they should lose that sum altogether, or reap the advantages originally expected by giving an additional sum of 80,000l.

The resolution was passed.