§ Captain W. L. Maberly
said:—Sir, in rising to move that the House should take into its consideration the propriety of addressing his majesty for an Advance of Capital to Ireland, I am sensible I am open to the charge of no small degree of presumption. It is not that I have been unaware of the importance of the subject, or have underrated its difficulties, that I have been induced to undertake a task, so arduous in its nature, so complicated in its details, I have approached it with far different feelings, and if I have been rash enough to embark in it at all, it has been solely from the consideration, that in the full conviction I entertained of the benefits that would result from it to Ireland, and in the absence of other members more competent to engage in it than myself, it became an imperative duty in me to press it upon the attention of the House. In discharging this duty, I am anxious to disclaim all motives of political hostility to the right hon. gentlemen opposite; I am actuated solely by a spirit of conciliation and a desire for the improvement of Ireland, and it will be my care, therefore, in going through the detail, into which it will he necessary for me to enter, cautiously to abstain from every topic that might arraign the Administration of that country, and that might wear the appearance of a wish to promote irritation or to impute misconduct.
Sir, to any one who considers Ireland at a distance, and in a superficial manner, it is no small matter of surprise, that governed as she is by the same laws, regulated by the same institutions, subjected to the same legislature as Great Britain, there should still exist between them such striking dissimilarities. If, however, such 451 a consideration should excite astonishment, that astonishment would altogether cease upon a nearer inspection, it would he found that the two countries had the same laws, the same institutions, the same legislature; but that in one of them they were so modified by moral causes, that there existed in it such differences of manners, of habits, and character, as fully to account for all the dissimilarities that distinguished and separated it from the other.
Sir, one of the most prominent of those evils which Ireland has to complain of, is her redundant and excessive population. It is not that it is large in proportion to the extent of territory, but that it is so in proportion to her means of employing it. It has been frequently, though as I think erroneously, asserted, that this evil is owing to the cultivation of the potatoe; I contend, however, that it is not to the use of the potatoe that the redundancy of her population is to be traced, but to the habits and manners of the people, which would equally have existed, had their food been of a lower or higher description. I cannot by any means conceive, that the use of the potatoe has caused the population of Ireland to be more redundant than it would have been, if the food upon which her peasantry are subsisted had been of a higher description. By the redundancy of population an altogether different thing is meant; we mean the ratio which the numbers of the inhabitants of a country bear to the means for their employment; and if in the instance now before us, the poorer classes are destitute of the means of profitable labour, if it is shewn that the numbers are excessive compared with the capital to put them in motion, it is not to the potatoe that the redundancy is to be ascribed, but to the peculiarity of their manners and their customs, which has caused them to multiply in so extraordinary a manner. The extensive use of the potatoe may be the reason that the population of Ireland is large, it may be the explanation of its being seven millions, while if wheat had been used as an article of food it might only have been three; but it is no cause of redundancy; that circumstance is only to be accounted for by the habits and the character of the people.
If, however, the redundancy of the population of Ireland is not to be attributed to the peculiar description of its food, the general adoption of the potatoe by the peasantry has subjected them to two 452 evils of the greatest magnitude. The first, that already being supported on that food which is the cheapest and lowest in its kind, in the event of scarcity, they are deprived of the power of retreating upon a lower quality of subsistence, but are at once reduced to misery and famine. The second, springing partly from the first, without which it would have been considerably weakened in its force is, that in the humid climate of Ireland the potatoe: crop is precarious and frequently fails, subjecting the peasantry, by its failure, to the most dreadful of privations. Sir, any person who examines the history of Ireland will find that famines instead of being rare, have in that country been of frequent occurrence. Even in the short space of time between the present period and the commencement of the century, there have been no less than four, very general in their pressure. In 1801 there was a famine, another again in 1812. Another occurred in 1816 general over nearly the whole of Ireland, and which was protracted even to so long a period as 1819. The last and most calamitous is that of 1822, still fresh in the recollection of the House, and in the memory of every honourable member that sits round me, both from the extent and intensity of its distress. It would be wholly foreign to my purpose to enter into its afflicting details, but if any one is anxious to view more nearly the privations and the misery it occasioned, I would refer him to the report of the London Committee, he will there find a mass of disgusting evidence on the condition of this unhappy people, such as it is scarcely possible for the mind to conceive, infinitely more difficult to believe, that mortality should have been able to endure.
It is to this evil, that of an excessive population, and the distress that is naturally consequent upon it, that I am convinced, is to be mainly attributed the calamitous situation of Ireland. The sufferings of the people, combined and aggravated as they are by political grievances, frequently become too great for endurance, driving a miserable population into lawless acts of outrage and rebellion. In the disturbances, however, of Ireland, when compared with those of other countries, there is this peculiarity, as has been well observed by the hon. member for Inverness, in an admirable speech delivered by him in 1822. In noticing the circumstance, that in Ireland local grievances 453 are followed by a general commotion, he says, "In every country' local oppression may take place, and local commotion may follow, but the question that naturally suggests itself with respect to Ireland is this, how does it happen, that a local commotion becomes so rapidly a general disturbance?" Sir, this is the striking peculiarity in the case of Ireland, and I agree with him in the solution of it, that the rapid spread of insurrection is mainly to be attributed to the debased and degraded condition of the peasantry of that country. See under what various shapes insurrection breaks out, sometimes it is attributed to oppression, sometimes it is given to tithe, sometimes to high rents, sometimes to the agitation generated by religious differences; but whatever be the immediate causes of discontent, this follows as a matter of course, that it speedily becomes general; the peasantry are debased, they easily become the prey of every artful agitator, the instruments of each designing incendiary, and a single instance of oppression is blown speedily into a flame, that spreads its destructive ravages over the whole surface of the country. The next question, Sir, that suggests itself is this, what remedy is to be applied to this formidable evil? Direct alleviation is impossible, for the subject of population is one altogether exempted from the influence of legislative remedies. Indirect legislation is the only palliative to which we can resort. If we find that population has been rashly encouraged, and that bounties have been offered by the law that have produced a considerable effect, it is competent to us to take away the stimulant and check the influence of the measures that have had such an injurious tendency. I do not wish to do more than lightly touch this portion of the subject, though I cannot suffer myself to pass over causes that have greatly tended to swell the evil I complain of. There are stimulants to population in Ireland which are capable of being removed, the low qualification of voters, and the interest of the Catholic clergy; the former of these is attributable to the pride and ambition of the gentry; the system of small holdings has been supported and multiplied by the land-owners, whose vanity has been gratified, in having ready at their call an army of retainers and dependants. The other stimulant to population, the interest of the Catholic clergy arises from the nature of the pro- 454 vision upon which they depend for their support; paid, not by the state, but by fees from their parishioners, and which chiefly accrue from the celebration of marriage, they have a direct interest to encourage marriages, however improvident they may be, from which their stipend is to arise. It is an unwise policy in any state, when it can avert it, to permit the interest of individuals to be in opposition to their duty, it should rather be the part of every prudent government to divert the private interest of their subjects into the current of the general utility. Upon this account, therefore, I cannot help expressing a hope that some honourable member will be found, who, at a future opportunity, may suggest a remedy for the evil, by a diminution of at least a portion of the stimulants to this redundancy of population.
There is, however, one natural remedy for excessive population, to which governments have frequently resorted, and which is the only one that can be employed without such undue interference in the minute details of private life, as would not be patiently submitted to by the subjects of a free country. There is a method of repressing population, if one may so call it, by increasing the capital of a country, and swelling the fund which furnishes the means of employment. In order to be understood it will be necessary for me to explain this point a little more fully. It will at once be evident, that although the population of a country be increased, if its capital also be increased precisely in the same proportion, the relation of the two remains unchanged, the augmented capital furnishing undiminished employment to an augmented population. If, however, the numbers of a country shall increase, and the capital shall increase also, but the progress of the latter shall be more rapid than that of the former; in such a case, the condition of the people will be improved, wages will be augmented, it will enjoy a greater share of the comforts, conveniences, and luxuries of life, its means in! short of happiness will be essentially and widely enlarged. Such a course is; open to us in the present instance: we may improve the state of Ireland by adding to the amount of its capital; but to the adoption of the plan there is a formidable objection which it is necessary for me to state. And it is simply this, that experience shows us in every state, it is de Monstrated to us by every history, that no 455 country can hope to increase in wealth without the enjoyment of security. We may see many instances where nations that have been cursed with an ungenial climate and an ungrateful soil, have nevertheless accumulated wealth, and attained to great political eminence, while those countries to which Nature has been more bounteous, and has blessed even with the exuberance of her favours, have been doomed to remain barren wildernesses, by reason of their impolitic institutions. We are all of us well aware that such is the case at present with some of the fairest portions of the globe, which the existence of causes such as I have mentioned have condemned to a hopeless and irremediable poverty. Without security there can he no accumulation of riches, without a moral certainty that every one will be enabled to enjoy the fruits of his industry, after he has earned them by patient and protracted labour, there can be no stimulus to activity and exertion, he can have no motive to better his condition, or to pursue the methods which generate and swell the wealth and prosperity of nations.
If, however, this position be correct, and for my own part I deem it to be unanswerable, and if Ireland be at present in the circumstances I have described, how can we hope to better her condition, how increase the capital of a country in which avowedly, there is an absence of security? The objection would be insurmountable if it were not for her peculiar situation, and if no remedies could be proposed, her most ardent friend must abandon her cause in despair. Such a remedy, however, is, I believe, to be discovered, and it will be my object to make out, and I hope satisfactorily to the House, that it is entirely to the want of employment, that is owing the in-security that pervades that unfortunate country. This subject was fully entered into last year, by a committee appointed by the House, to inquire into the employment of the labouring poor in Ireland. I am sorry to trouble the House by going into that evidence at any length nor would I do it, if the motion I am shortly about to make did not altogether rest upon the circumstance I have stated, and which I conceive I am bound to make out, for unless I can demonstrate, that want of employment gives rise to insecurity, and that on the contrary where employment exists, there also security is to be found, I cannot hope to succeed in my endeavours to persuade the House of the necessity of adopting my present proposition.
456 The first evidence I shall produce upon this part of the subject, is that of the right hon. member for Kilkenny (Mr. Dennis Browne), who was examined as a witness upon that occasion. He is asked "Do you think the introduction of the linen manufacture into that county (Mayo), has contributed to its political tranquillity?" The answer is, "We have seldom had any disturbance, we have more manufacture, and more industry, than, as I think, any county in Connaught." He is then asked, "You have stated that in the county of Mayo the poor are much employed, and that they have been pretty uniformly tranquil; as an Irish gentleman who must be well acquainted with your country, in your opinion is not the want of employment in the whole of Ireland the great cause of the disturbances that have taken place in that country?" To which he answers "Most certainly." The next evidence I shall adduce is that of the right hon. member for Waterford (sir J. Newport), who is asked "Then are the committee to understand that in the neighbourhood of Waterford, where there has been employment of the people, there tranquillity has prevailed, and in parts of Cork where there is less employment, there disturbances have arisen." He answers, "Precisely so. There has been no shade of disturbance in Waterford anywhere, and I attribute it to that very point I have mentioned." He is then asked. "As a general proposition, do you connect disturbance in Ireland with a want of employment?" He answers, "Very considerably." The next testimony' I shall cite is that of Mr. Owen, which I think is of the greatest importance, and well worthy the consideration of the House. Mr. Owen was induced to go to Ireland in consequence of the distresses that prevailed there in 1822, resided in that country for a period of eight months, and from his character and intelligence may be presumed to have mixed a great deal with the labouring classes, and to be fully capable of giving an account of their condition. He is asked, "In case tranquillity was restored in the south of Ireland, do you conceive that capital might find its way into that country, if they carry into effect the scheme you have suggested, as being likely to be a profitable one?"—"It is very probable, provided the country was in a state of tranquillity; as far as I could judge by what I saw, it is not likely that Ireland can ever be in tranquillity until occupation be first of all procured for 457 the peasantry, that is the first and most necessary step." "Then do you consider the want of occupation to be amongst the principal causes, or the principal cause of the disturbances in the south of Ireland?"—"I believe that to be the principal if not the sole cause." "What are the facts upon which you found that opinion?"—"Wherever the working classes are occupied in such a manner as to produce them tolerable comforts, I have never seen them discontented." The committee ask whether this is an abstract principle, or applicable to Ireland, he says it is a general principle applicable to all countries, but particularly so to Ireland. He is then asked, in what parts of Ireland he has seen employment of the population produce such effects, and he answers in the north. The next evidence is Mr. Sterne Tighe. He states, that to the want of employment he attributes every thing that now affects and disgraces that country; and in a further part of his evidence he adds, "I have no hesitation in saying, for the last five or six years, we have seen Ireland under the alternative of finding employment for its people, or diminishing its population by the gallows, the sword, or by transportation." He then cites a case that came within his own knowledge—"In the disturbances that have taken place in your knowledge, have they taken place at a time when employment was most deficient?"—"I have no hesitation in attributing, generally speaking, all the excesses of the population of Ireland to distress. It was my fate to assist upon the bench, to bring to trial and conviction and execution, a gang of persons similar exactly to those in operation in the south of Ireland. I heard when the judge, lord Norbury, was passing sentence upon them, one of them said, 'we went eight miles, where we heard there was employment given,' which was the parish where I lived, 'and if we could have got that, we would not have been here this day,' and I believe it." To this I might add that in the neighbourhood of Clonakilty in the County of Cork, and in the barony of Corkaguinny, in the County of Kerry, where regular employment was afforded by the linen manufacture, there tranquillity had prevailed, and no disturbances taken place.
But, Sir, I do not stop here, I intend not only to show that there has existed no disturbance where there has been employment, I intend to go a step further, and prove, that in those cases where disturb- 458 ances actually existed, when employment has been furnished to the people, it has instantly caused them to subside. For this purpose I shall beg leave to cite an extract from the evidence of the right hon. member for Kerry (Mr. M. Fitzgerald). He is asked, "Do you connect the present disturbances in the south of Ireland with the inadequate means of employing the people?"—"In a very great degree. An engineer who was sent to the most disturbed part of the county of Cork, informed me that he very soon pacified them by an extended employment of the people, in making a new line of road, and by inquiries amongst the farmers, and persons most experienced in the actual state of the country. I was convinced that if employment was sufficiently extensive, the turbulent habits of the population would be altogether abandoned." The next instance which I would beg to quote (though I feel ashamed to occupy so much of the time of the House), is from the evidence of Mr. Furlong. He is asked "Do you think that want of employment is one of the great causes of disturbance in that country?" "I do. I have reason to know there was a vast deal of disturbance upon one particular estate, and a relation of mine has been lately appointed agent on that estate; there are thirty-five thousand acres on it, and it was in rebellion, but from the liberality of the trustees, enabling him to employ the poor there, he assured me that he had not one troublesome man on the estate now, they are all quiet, and anxious to work and be industrious, and they were actually starving when he went down." "The state of such property before such means were adopted, was one of great insubordination?"—"Great."Sir, my honourable friend on my left informs me that the property I have just alluded to is the Courtenay estate, on which the present disturbances first had their origin, and from whence they were communicated to other portions of the country. There is one more quotation I should wish to make, taken from a report made to the Irish government, on public works for the employment of the poor, by Mr. Griffith, and which is the more valuable because it breaks out unsuspectingly, and, from the nature of the document in which it is to be found, is altogether exempt from the suspicions which might attach naturally enough to the evidence given before a committee, the direct object of whose inquiry was the condition of the labouring poor: Mr. 459 Griffith says, "The system I have pursued has been, to divide the different kinds of work into a great number of small lots, and to contract for each with the labourers of the adjoining lands. This method has enabled me to prevent oppression, and to do justice to all, and what is of great importance, to introduce improved tools and implements into the country, by intrusting them to the labourers in the first instance, and taking repayment for them by easy instalments. The result has been, that the same labourers working at the same prices, who at first were unable to earn more than four-pence per day, can now with ease earn from ten-pence to one shilling, and the consequence has been, that the disturbed districts of the Spring 1822 have remained perfectly quiet during the present winter, and the poor inhabitants express themselves as happy and contented." And in a letter addressed to the right hon. gentleman opposite (Mr. Goul-bun), he says, "I beg to state to you, for the information of his excellency the lord lieutenant, that the district for four or five miles to the north and south of the new road from Newmarket to Charleville, has hitherto remained perfectly quiet, and I have every reason to believe will continue so during the winter. Notwithstanding the unusual wetness of the weather, the people have continued constantly at work, and considerable progress has been made in forming and fencing the road. In the northern districts between this place and the river Shannon, the inhabitants have also remained quiet, but I have not the same confidence in them, they are miserably poor and nearly naked." Sir, this gentleman states, that between Newmarket and the Shannon he had no confidence in the inhabitants, and he assigns as his motive of distrust, that they are miserably poor and nearly naked. With respect, however, to the district between Newmarket and Charleville, which he says has remained perfectly tranquil, it is necessary that I should make one more citation from the evidence (and it is the last I shall make) in order that the House may perceive what had been previously the state of this part of the country, and in what manner they ought to appreciate the value of the example I have adduced. Mr. Pierce Mahoney is asked, "Are you acquainted with the district of country between Charleville and Castle Island?"—"I know the district very well, and from Newcastle to Castle Island,"(the same line of 460 country that has been alluded to)"there is not a single gentleman resident." "How many miles does that comprehend?" "Twenty." "In the late disturbances, was not that district the principal seat of the disturbance?" he replies, "Certainly, from that district they took their own opportunities, and came down, and destroyed the country. We look upon it that no greater benefit could be performed to that part of the country, than to cut military roads through it in all directions." Yet, in this spot, the resort of banditti, the haunt of bands of assassins, of men actuated by all that is vicious and depraved, employment does not fail in producing its customary effects, and directly occupation is afforded, tranquility follows in its train. Let me then ask whether we can for a moment doubt the inference to be drawn from this mass of concurrent testimony, when we see a committee appointed by the House composed in great measure of Irish members, well versed in the history and condition of their country, when we see them calling witnesses whom they deem to be best informed upon the state of the people, best acquainted with its character and manners; when we see such witnesses, not merely expressing strongly their opinions (though with me such opinions alone could have been conclusive), but stating facts within their own knowledge and observation, each fact corroborating the opinions they had previously given; when they tell us that in districts where employment was regular, tranquillity was undisturbed, that in portions of the country, surrounded on all sides by insurrection, the inhabitants were orderly and quiet, because they had the means of labour; when they tell us, lastly, that where turbulence and rebellion had put on its worst shape, and raged with the greatest violence, even there employment calmed the irritated passions of the people, and subdued their insurrectionary spirit, can we hesitate a moment what conclusion to adopt? Sir, it is impossible to resist the inference, that insecurity and want of employment are intimately connected, that they act and react upon each other, that they are reciprocally cause and effect, that there is want of employment in Ireland because there is insecurity, and insecurity because there is want of employment.
If then, Sir, it is established that there is insecurity in Ireland, because there is no means of employment, and that there is not the means of regular employment 461 because there is insecurity, if no private individual will embark his capital while the country is in so disturbed a state, and incur the risk that must attach both to his person and his property, is it too much to ask, that the government should interfere, and interpose its relief? If it were not for the fear of too much fatiguing the House, I could state instances in evidence where individuals had been anxious to invest capital in the south of Ireland, but upon the breaking out of the disturbances altered their previous intentions. Under such circumstance, I would ask, is it not a duty of the government to step forward and take that risk upon themselves, which individuals are unwilling to incur, to endeavour, by advancing capital at a low rate of interest, to induce manufacturers to settle in the south of Ireland, and to afford its population the employment, without which it can never attain a state of uninterrupted tranquillity?
Probably the right hon. gentleman opposite to me (Mr. Goulburn) will say, that such a proposition is contrary to all received principles of political economy, will maintain there is no exception to them, and will endeavour to support his argument by a reference to the authority of Dr. Smith. If, however, he should lay down this position, that there is no exception to this general rule, that no circumstances will justify a government in departing from it, I should answer, that to me such a mode of reasoning seems very illogical. Political economy is not an exact science, in which we can invariably trace the same effect up to the same cause. It is essentially a moral science, formed upon generalities, which are themselves constructed from a minute induction of particulars, which we find upon investigation not to be determined altogether accidentally, but, in the majority of cases, to follow some fixed and definite law. Even to the maxim which is the foundation and corner-stone of the science, that every man is the best judge of what conduces to his interest, we may frequently discover exceptions, and I would put it to any man of the least knowledge and experience in the world, whether such instances have not sometimes occurred to him. If, then, the very principle on which the science rests, may sometimes be called into question, how illogical must it be to assert that the consequences that are deduced from it, must be certain, and invariably the same. It would be much the 462 same reasoning, as to say, that the superstructure in any edifice was solid and immoveable, while its base was undermined, and the fabric tottering to its fall. If however, the hon. gentleman should still rest his case upon authority, to the name and authority of Dr. Smith, I would oppose those of Mr. Say, and Mr. Sismondi. The former of these gentlemen, Mr. Say, no slight authority with those who interest themselves in the science, in commenting upon this maxim of Dr. Smith's, dissents from it, as thus rigidly laid down, and maintains that it is liable to frequent modification. He goes so far as to hazard the assertion, that without such artificial encouragement, France probably would not have possessed her flourishing manufacture of cloth and silk. Mr. Sismondi, in his excellent work Sur la Richesse Commerciale, goes still further, and after remarking the obstinacy with which capital adheres to those branches of industry in which it was first embarked, and the prejudices which frequently exist against directing it into new channels, proposes that the government of France should annually set apart a large sum, 400,000l., to be distributed amongst the different departments, for the purpose of being advanced as circumstances should dictate, to those manufacturers, whose enterprise, though ascertained to be profitably directed, was cramped and retarded from the want of the necessary fund to carry it into effect.
Sir, the committee on the employment of the poor, to which I have so often alluded, and of which the late respected member for Portarlington, Mr. Ricardo, was a most diligent attendant, have recommended in their report the encouragement to Ireland that I have now the honour to propose; they express themselves thus, "your committee are aware, that according to many of the received principles of political science, all artificial encouragements to industry and production are difficult to be defended, and they are likewise disposed to admit the danger of public interference in Ireland, as tending to make the people of that country look to government and to the legislature for relief, rather than to their own industry and their own exertions. But in the present state of part of that country, it may perhaps be questioned whether any increased application of capital is likely to take place, so as to give more active employment to the people, until peace and 463 tranquillity are fully restored. If, as has been suggested, tranquillity can best be secured by encouraging industry among the people, it may perhaps be necessary that the first step towards the attainment of this object, should betaken with the aid of the public, relying afterwards on the operation of natural causes. Your committee would, however, strictly adhere to the principle of aiding local effort only. But wherever works can be undertaken, which on the fullest investigation are considered to be of real utility, and of such magnitude as to exceed the ordinary local resources, and where such security can be offered, as to protect the public from eventual loss; your committee consider, that some assistance may wisely be given by the nation to stimulate private exertions." They then go on to say, "They cannot, however, conclude without again expressing their opinion, that the employment of the people of Ireland and the improvement of their moral condition, are essentially necessary to the peace and tranquillity of that island, as well as to the general interests of the United Kingdom."
Here, then, Sir, is not only the opinion of distinguished political economists, in opposition to the authority of Dr. Smith, which will probably be brought against me, but in addition to it, the report of a committee of this House, specially appointed to investigate the subject, and of which the late Mr. Ricardo, whose firm adherence on all occasions to general rules is well known, was an active and diligent member. Well aware of what that gentleman's opinions were, and of the almost inflexible and undeviating strictness with which he followed out the general principles of the science, I confess I was not a little surprised to hear from my hon. friend, the member for Limerick, that to every sentiment in that report he gave his full and entire acquiescence.
But it may perhaps be said, that admitting all that I have advanced, granting that Ireland is an exception to all general rules, there is no branch of industry in that country in which capital can be profitably embarked, and I may be called upon to point out the particular department of trade that is susceptible of artificial encouragement. If, Sir, such an appeal is made to me, amongst the many that might be cited, I would more peculiarly mention two, the Fisheries and the cultivation of Flax, which appear to me 464 to present the widest field for exertion, and the most favourable opportunities for carrying into successful execution. Situated as the Southern and South-western districts of Ireland are, in the vicinity of almost in exhaustible banks of fish, admirably adapted for curing, and able from her locality to avail herself of the extensive markets to be found in the Mediterranean, and capable of supplying the wants of every catholic country, where the consumption of fish must necessarily be large, yet such is her ignorance, such her want of capital, such her penury, that she has not hitherto profited by the advantages which she so pre-eminently possesses. Nothing can exceed the ignorance of the fishermen, and an interesting instance of it is given by the member for Kerry, who states that he had opportunities of knowing that the fisheries had received improvement from the accidental circumstance of some men from Devonshire and Cornwall being employed as water-guards upon the coast, who found the natives utterly unacquainted with the method of tying the hooks and handling the lines, and with fishing in all its branches. Thus much for the ignorance, and the incapacity of the people, in the state they are at present, of prosecuting this species of industry. For the purpose, however, of illustrating their abject penury, their total want of means in equipping their boats, I shall mention one instance, taken from the report of the London Committee. It there appears, that in the county of Galway, 'by an advance of 827l. in small sums, no less than two hundred and seventy-six boats, of poor fishermen, were repaired and fitted for the fishery, giving an average of expenditure of 3l. for each boat; and that in the county of Mayo, through the adoption of the same means, two hundred and seventy-nine boats were sent to sea, at an expense of 771l at an average of 2l, 15s. per boat. But what is infinitely more satisfactory to know, is, that the benefit that was conferred, was not given in the shape of gratuitous relief, and that at the time the letter was written, conveying the information contained in the report, of the money that had been advanced upon condition of repayment, all the instalments which had become due had been repaid with fidelity and honour.
The second case I mentioned of a; branch of industry, not now existing in I the south to any degree, but which might 465 be called into action, is that of the cultivation of flax, for which, perhaps, Ireland is better adapted than any other country. Mr. Oldham, an eminent linen merchant, has given in evidence, that three times the quantity actually grown ought to be produced in Ireland, and that she might find an ample demand for the additional quantity, both in the home market and in that of Great Britain. In order to ascertain this point correctly, I have procured returns from Holland and Flanders, of the expense attending the cultivation of flax in both these countries, and I have endeavoured to adopt a similar course with regard to Riga, but owing to peculiar circumstances, the difficulty of estimating the value of slave labour, I have found it impracticable to obtain the information. I have compared the returns I have been able to procure with others from different counties in the south and west of Ireland, and have uniformly found, that the comparison of them shewed a considerable balance in favour of that country. I think, however, it may be made out by inference, that she raises flax more cheaply than any other country, from this simple tact, that al-though the linen manufactory is carried on extensively, and there is a duty, so small, as almost to allow it to be taken to be anon-existent quality, on the importation of the foreign material, the manufacture is nevertheless exclusively supplied with homegrown flax. From this circumstance we may fairly enough infer that the home-grown commodity is cheaper than the foreign; for what is there, I would ask, that should induce the manufacturer to purchase a dear material at home when he can supply himself upon cheaper terms from abroad, and no impediment is presented by the legislature, to the free importation of the commodity he requires. This inference, however, strong as it is in itself, becomes conclusive when another fact is taken into consideration. Ireland has hitherto produced flax at what may be termed a great loss. She has always thrown away the seed, which the Flemish farmer has been in the habit of considering as essential to procure him a profitable crop, and it is only lately, that accidental circumstances have led to the discontinuance of so injurious a practice. If, therefore, formerly she was enabled to compete upon equal terms with the foreign grower, while rejecting so valuable a portion of the produce, it is but fair to conclude, that upon a change of system, and the in- 466 troduction of a better method of culture, Ireland not only could meet the foreigner advantageously, but could secure to herself the entire monopoly of the markets of Great Britain. But, I may be asked how it is that with all these advantages Ireland has not possessed herself of this profitable trade. Ireland is deficient in the necessary skill, and she is weighed down by an abject poverty, that prevents her taking advantage of the capabilities she possesses, and which cramps all her exertions. I have myself seen specimens of flax grown in Ireland, infinitely superior to those produced abroad, but which, from the process they have been subjected to have borne a price far below those which were inferior to them in quality, but which had undergone a better method of preparation. It is not by capital alone, it is by capital combined with skill, that we must hope to ameliorate her situation; and it is only by holding out to them advantages, that we can induce persons of competent skill to go over and rouse those energies, which at present lie dormant, but which require only common intelligence and exertion to be awakened, to spring into life and vigour.
I shall now, Sir, attempt to give a short outline of the details of the method in which I think capital might be advantageously advanced, and in doing so I feel myself under considerable difficulty, both from the importance of this portion of the subject, and from the conviction I am under, that it must be highly tedious and wearisome. What I should propose is this, that a sum not exceeding one million should be placed at the disposal of commissioners, to be distributed and lent out at their discretion, either at a very low rate of interest, or perhaps at none, to individuals who would engage to employ it, the parties giving proper security for its repayment. The reason why I should I propose, that it should be given to individuals rather than that it should be employed in the construction of public works is, that in the one case the employment is permanent, the capital being reproductively expended, while in the other instance the moment the public work is completed, the employment is totally withdrawn. In the case of public works, distress is only suspended, not averted altogether, and it is on this ground that, in my opinion, they are objectionable in Ireland, where a permanent employment of the population is required, a 467 measure which only can be realized by the encouragement of individual enterprise and speculation. There is, however, a considerable difficulty that presents itself, in the necessity of framing a competent system of checks, to obviate misapplication and to secure to the portion of Ireland we are anxious to benefit, the full advantages to be derived from the investment of the capital advanced. Amongst the various species of misapplication to which such an advance might be liable, the following is one that may be reasonably apprehended. The landed gentlemen of Ireland, embarrassed as they are, might be tempted to receive the capital given by the government at a low rate of interest, and to discharge the incumbrances under which they at present labour, thus becoming gainers by the amount of interest they would pay less than they did before, en inconvenience that could only be remedied by the intervention of a complicated system of checks. Not that I object to the plan of paying off mortgages, considered by itself, I should deem it a very great benefit; in the present case, however, it is so mixed up and combined with other circumstances, that the evil of such a measure would infinitely more than counterbalance the good that would result from it. Not to mention the inconvenience that would arise from the connection thus established between the landed gentry and the government, and the political power and influence that would be thus called into action; there is this serious objection, that in pursuing such a plan the state would not receive from its advance near the degree of benefit which it was entitled to obtain. For instance, if the sum advanced was a million at two per cent, when mortgages generally were at six, it is evident that if the landed gentry were to take the money there would be only 40,000l., the difference between the present and former interest they paid, to be expended in the employment of the population. In the manner I propose it should be given, that, in which it is placed at the disposal of illustrious individuals, not merely 40,000l., but the whole million is devoted to the affording occupation to the people. With a view therefore of checking this and other misapplications, I should recommend some such sort of check as the following. First that the individual who had availed himself of the advance, should make a return to the commissioners of the amount of capital he bad actually in- 468 vested, and the manner and place in which it was employed; next that this return should be checked by an inspector, who, in order to prevent collusion, it might perhaps be provided should not be allowed to visit the same district in two following years. We might still further secure ourselves against misapplication by a certificate of the grand jury of the county, or of magistrates at quarter-sessions, vouching for the fact that appearances corresponded with the declaration. In the case of fraud being made out against the party receiving the advance, a penalty might be enforced upon him equivalent to the suppression of the offence.
Sir, I throw this out merely as conveying an idea of the manner in which this object could be accomplished, as it would be my intention to leave this point entirely to the commissioners, who from their local knowledge from proper inquiries upon the subject would be infinitely more capable to establish adequate checks than myself. I should hope, therefore, that in the event of the right honourable gentlemen opposite falling into the measure I have the honour to propose, that the arrangement of this delicate topic would be abandoned, to the discretion of the commissioners appointed, who alone are competent to undertake it.
Before I sit down, there is one point I should wish to mention, and which I omitted in its proper place, from which I think the greatest benefit would be derived in Ireland; I mean the system of charitable loans, and if the present proposition should receive the approbation of his majesty's ministers, I should hope that a considerable portion of the grant would be devoted to the encouragement of such institutions. Wherever such establishments have been formed, a disposition for order and punctuality has been generated, the poor themselves receive the loan as a benefit; and as the character of the applicant is always taken into consideration, previous to the granting of the loan, it has acted as a powerful stimulus to good conduct. I would here wish to read a letter from a gentleman who has had experience of these institutions, though I will not trouble the House at any length. It is to this effect. "On the whole I am satisfied with the advantages resulting from the loan system, even on this limited scale; wherever it has been successfully established, there will be found a manifest improvement in the manners and condition of the prior. I have 469 known, that individuals who began by borrowing forty or fifty shillings, have at the end of a few months become the depositors of a few shillings in a savings bank. I remember at Ennis, that a respectable looking shop for the sale of boots and shoes was pointed out to me, whose proprietor derived his first stock of materials from the loan fund, and that in Limerick several thriving tradesmen were mentioned to me, whose means were originally drawn from a similar source." Sir, I received a letter from the south of Ireland but the other day, which states that associations for the purpose I am now alluding to, are forming upon a great scale in that district, but that their means are totally inadequate to the etui that is proposed; the writer of it, after commenting upon the expediency of giving them assistance, goes on to offer his opinion, that if a moderate degree of skill were imparted to the poor, and they were furnished with implements, a comparatavely small sum would be sufficient to afford them employment. The good that is effected through the means of these charitable loans is almost incalculable. In the two instances I have already mentioned, with respect to the fisheries, the money given was advanced upon this system of loans, the whole of which was to be repaid. And it was but the other clay, that it was stated to me by a Catholic clergyman in the county of Clare, that having received a small sum of money from the London Committee, he applied it in the way of loan to the fishermen, and that by means of this assistance a number of boats were fitted out and sent to sea, which were previously unserviceable, and laid rotting upon the beach, their owners, through poverty, being unable to equip them.
I have now, Sir, brought to a conclusion the subject which I have thought it my duty to submit to the consideration of the House. I have endeavoured to point out the evils under which Ireland labours at the present time, and the manner in which, as I conceive, a remedy might be applied to them. I cannot but entertain the most sanguine hopes, that if a system such as I have recommended were adopted it would be crowned with complete success. I am induced to hope that if capital were once embarked, and manufactures established in the south of Ireland, the example would be speedily followed by other capitalists, who would be anxious to participate in the advantages, when they 470 were fully satisfied that their persons and their properties would be unendangered. I am induced to hope that in every instance in which capital was invested, other capital would be attracted to it as a centre, and would continue to flow into Ireland with a steady and a rapid current. I know there is an idea very much entertained by many persons, that the Irish peasantry are incapable of improvement; and if I had not already too long trespassed upon the attention of the House, I should have been inclined to give instances to prove the fallacy of the opinion. I have had instances mentioned to me in which indulgent and humane landlords have not only found them susceptible of improvement, but have witnessed, with exultation, that the feeling once awakened in their breast has been carried far beyond the impulse that first gave it birth. Sir, the case of Scotland is conclusive upon this point, and I refer, gentlemen to a most eloquent speech of the late Mr. Whitbread, in which he quotes a passage from Fletcher, complaining that Scotland was over-run by individuals wholly subsisting upon charity. He says, that in addition to those who were supported at the church doors, there were upwards of two hundred thousand persons begging about the country, maintained by alms, ripe for every crime, a prey to every disease, and he goes so far as to say, that it would be a great national benefit, if they were sold as slaves to the Plantations. I would ask, what is the slate of Scotland now? whether a population equally moral, equally intelligent, equally enlightened, is to be found upon the surface of the globe? I may be told that this change is owing to education, and that it is so in some measure I am not hardy enough to deny, but skill and enterprise, and capital and industry, have also had their share, and have contributed to raise her population to that high point of intelligence and comfort which at present it has attained. And that I am not far wrong in this, I would intreat gentlemen to turn their view upon a portion of that country whose condition we are now discussing, to the north of Ireland, and they will there find the same causes in operation to which I have attributed so beneficial an effect in Scotland. Sir, in the north of Ireland the linen manufacture exists, rendering its population happy, contented, and tranquil, and I cannot better illustrate the effects that have resulted from this manufacture, than in the words of the 471 committee that was appointed to examine into it in 1822, which in recommending that it should be extended to the south of Ireland, assigns this as the motive of its recommendation; "for wherever it has obtained a footing, industry, moral habits, contentment) and tranquillity have followed." Sir, I have no doubt of it, I am confident that whenever this or any other manufacture shall be established in the south, the same results will be produced, and it is with that view that I shall move, "That this House do resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, for the purpose of considering the propriety of presenting an address to his majesty that he will be graciously pleased to grant an advance of capital, not exceeding the sum of one million, to Ireland, to be employed in the provinces of Minister and Connaught, and to appoint commissioners for the purpose of carrying this object into effect."
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
commenced by complimenting the hon. and gallant member upon the temper and benevolent feeling with which he had introduced his motion. No man who knew any thing of the state of Ireland could conceal from himself the lamentable fact, that notwithstanding her soil, her climate, and the other favourable circumstances in which she was placed, she was far removed from that state of content and happiness to which she was entitled. It was impossible for any English member to listen to a statement which had in view the benefit of Ireland, without the utmost anxiety to promote that object. If, therefore, he rightly understood the proposition of the hon. gentleman, he could not without regret express an opinion, that it would not be advisable to adopt the course recommended—at least not in the mode now submitted. It was perfectly true, that parliament, on many occasions, had called upon the public to advance money for the relief of local distress, arising from peculiar circumstances. Within a very short period that principle had been acted upon, to a considerable extent, in Ireland. Two sums had been voted by the House, one of which was vested in the discretion of the lord-lieutenant, for the relief of distress, without any intention of ultimate repayment; the other had been advanced with the view that, at a specified period, it should be restored to the public. As to the first species of grant, the House would feel, that however desirable it might be under peculiar pressure, to make this 472 sort of charitable donation, it could not be justified but by a case of over-ruling necessity, which set all principle at defiance. He did not collect from the hon. member, that he had at present any such object in view, but rather that whatever sum might be advanced, should, at some period or other, be returned. Though he (the chancellor of the Exchequer) had frequently been a party to propositions of this kind, he had always felt considerable doubts of their policy. He fairly owned that he entertained peculiar doubts of their policy, as applied to Ireland. He was almost afraid of stating his notions on this subject, lest those who represented Ireland should think that they proceeded from a degree of indifference towards that country, which most assuredly he did not feel. They, in truth, originated in a feeling perfectly opposite—in the utmost anxiety, that if Ireland were to be really benefitted, she should be benefitted permanently; and that no delusive appearance of present prosperity should be succeeded by grievous and inevitable disappointment. If the House were too lavish of grants of this kind, he was very much afraid that, instead of inducing Irish gentlemen to trust to their own resources and exertions, and to the energies of their country, they would be led to lean for support upon government, and rely upon temporary loans for the purpose of keeping their heads above water. Such would be a most fatal error, and would strike at the root of prosperity. Such a system of advances must end at some period or other; and then, those who had trusted to an unstable reed, would find themselves less capable of making exertions for their own good, in exact proportion as they had been taught to trust to the assistance of parliament. As to the practicability of the plan also, it appeared to him of a very questionable nature. He did not precisely understand in what way the hon. gentleman intended to apply any portion of the money to the fisheries. Independent of the general principle, the hon. gentleman had stated two objects which he had in view; first, the promotion of the fisheries; secondly, loans to the proprietors of the soil to enable them to cultivate flax. As to the first, the hon. gentleman had mentioned one or two cases in which great benefit had been derived from special advances; and he (the chancellor of the Exchequer) would not go so far as to say, that, in particular situations, it might not 473 be advisable, as it were to set up the fisheries. On one point it was already in the power of the lord-lieutenant, by a particular act, to afford assistance to the fisheries; viz, by the appropriation of 5 or 6,000l. every year for the purpose of building small piers, and making small harbours, for the protection of fishing-vessels. This aid he should be sorry to see withheld. It was a legitimate object of public expenditure, as no private individual could be expected so to devote his capital; but unless in some such mode, he could not understand in what way the hon. gentleman proposed, by new loans, to benefit the fisheries. With regard to encouraging the growth of flax by advances to land-owners, it was to be observed, that the hon. gentleman had himself stated, that such advances would be attended with many and great difficulties, with regard especially to security and the uncertainty of re-payment. He (the chancellor of the Exchequer) confessed that the project appeared to him impracticable. The want of capital in Ireland arose from the want of security. Were it otherwise, there seemed to be no reason why it should not flow into Ireland as freely as it had done into Scotland. In those parts of Ireland to which the hon. gentleman had alluded, the soil was cultivated more or less, and applied to the growth of corn. The growth of corn required as much capital as the growth of flax; and if flax were not cultivated, it must arise from the fact, that it could not be so profitably grown as other sorts of agricultural produce. Ireland at present grew all the flax she used, but did not in point of fact supply the English and Scotch markets, the whole of which was imported. He was not aware that it was necessary to argue this matter further. Every body must feel that it was very little desirable that parliament should interfere at all by lending money. Such a course must have a most injurious tendency, if adopted at all on a general principle. Another view of the subject was very embarrassing. If money were lent to the owners of the soil, a great temptation would be afforded to them to pay oft*their mortgages and other encumbrances; and thus a hostile collision would be produced between the government and the parties who were desirous of assistance. This subject had been before discussed with reference to loans by government on mortgage, and it certainly had not been favourably received, and he 474 had always thought it liable to most serious objections. In stating the grounds on which he resisted this motion, he was anxious not to appear to press them with any undue degree of earnestness or warmth, because he felt a strong indisposition to oppose a laudable and important object. He hoped that those more directly interested in the prosperity of Ireland would not impute his objections to any motive but a sincere desire to promote the permanent welfare of that island. Parliament had always willingly lent itself to every suggestion for the improvement of Ireland, by the removal of taxes and the abolition of restrictions upon commerce. Such a course could not possibly do harm, and all practical experience shewed, that great good must inevitably follow from such a proceeding. Permanent advantage would thus be promoted, instead of adopting a system attended with temporary improvement, but ultimate disappointment. According to the suggestion of the hon. gentleman, the House would only end where it began; though it might proceed on this objectionable course, until it was absolutely driven to abandon it. As he was anxious that the House should not involve itself in an undertaking of so much difficulty, and pregnant with so many disadvantages, he should conclude with moving the previous question.
§ Captain Maberly
complained, that the right hon. gentleman had completely misunderstood him. He meant that money should be advanced to any manufacturer or other person engaged in trade, who could give the necessary security. He also wished the fisheries to be aided, precisely in the same way that sums were applied in England and Scotland, in the years 1817 and 1822.
§ Lord Althorp
agreed, that the want of capital in Ireland was one of the principal causes, though not perhaps the sole cause, of the present condition of Ireland. Every measure, therefore, which encouraged the influx of money, ought to be readily adopted. The general rule certainly was, that capital should not be forced out of the channel in which it would naturally flow; but, in this instance, it was to be remembered that capital had been unnaturally forced out of Ireland, and that some measures ought to be adopted to restore it. It was singular to see that while capital went to Mexico and Peru, and to every quartet of the world, it tur- 475 ned as it were From Ireland, although that country afforded such ample means for its employment. He should therefore wish to see an alteration in the system, and encouragement held out for the investment of capital, where its application might be productive of so many advantages. There was, in his opinion, no weight in the objection of his right hon. friend, the chancellor of the Exchequer— that if capital was advanced to the people of Ireland in the way proposed, it would induce them to depend rather on government than on their own resources. The fact was, they had no resources on which they could depend, unless they were aided by government in some such way as was now suggested. Ireland he looked upon to be in the condition of a farm which was very rich, but out of condition. To render such a farm productive, the application of capital was necessary; and the skilful farmer would not consider the present expense of bringing it into condition as money lost, confident that ultimately the result must be highly profitable. In the same way should Ireland be treated at the present moment. All taxes on consumption should be removed, and every method adopted to render living as cheap there as in any other part of the world. In a country where labour was so cheap, living might, with a very little present sacrifice on the part of England, be made cheaper in Ireland than in any other part of the British dominions. If that were effected, people who now resorted to foreign countries for cheap living, would spend their money in a country where the necessaries and many of the luxuries of life might be procured at so cheap a rate. There might at first be some difficulty in obtaining supplies; but those difficulties would soon be overcome. It certainly appeared extraordinary that greater advantage was not taken of the fisheries in Ireland; and although the duties applicable to them were returnable in drawbacks, the poor could not always take advantage of the privilege. With regard to loans to landed proprietors and others, it might, in some cases, be impracticable to obtain the necessary securities; but, wherever they could be given, the advances, he thought, ought to be made. He would not trouble the House further on the question than to say, that he cordially approved the principle of the motion, and that he had not heard, in the speech of the right hon. gentleman, any 476 thing to induce him to alter that opinion.
§ Mr. John Smith
said, he had never heard the right hon. the chancellor of the Exchequer so weak in his arguments, or so little eloquent in his mode of urging them, as on the present occasion. This he attributed to the difficulties in which the right hon. gentleman must have found himself placed in his opposition to the proposed measure. He was willing to give the right hon. gentleman credit for the goodness of his intentions and the liberality of his views towards Ireland, but, on the present occasion, he thought that his views were quite mistaken. The main objection which he had urged to the proposition of his hon. friend was, that it would encourage the people of Ireland to look up to government, and not to trust to their own resources. But let the House see what had been the effect of similar advances in this country. He was himself, at the present moment, a commissioner under an act of parliament for granting advances of money for the building of bridges, the making of roads, and other public works. The money was lent on good security, and sums to a considerable amount had been so granted. He had, on a former occasion, been a commissioner under a similar act of parliament; but he would ask, had it ever been heard that such advances had produced in the people of this country a disposition to depend on government rather than on their own resources? Why not, then, advance money to Ireland in a similar manner? Ireland deserved much from this country; and she had received but little. It was true we had materially assisted her in a time of scarcity, for which she was truly grateful; but we were bound to do more. If public money had been advanced with good effect in England to carry on several works, why might not the same result be expected from similar advances in Ireland? He had seen the good effect of such advances in many parts of this country. He knew many individuals who were gentlemen of fortune now, who were not gentlemen of fortune before such advances were made. He could not see, therefore, any weight in the objection of the right hon. gentleman to the present proposition. He had had an opportunity of knowing the good effects which had been produced by the loans advanced by the London Association for the advance of money by way of loan for the encouragement of agricul- 477 ture in Ireland. Small sums had been advanced to many individuals also for the purchase of implements of industry. Or what was the same thing, those implements had been supplied to them to be paid for by instalments, which instalments he could state had been regularly paid; so far from making the people look up to government as their only resource, such advances induced them to depend rather on the efforts of their own industry, when they found how beneficial it had been made to them. Allusion had been made by his hon. friend to a Roman Catholic clergyman in Ireland. He (Mr. S.) could state—and it was a further proof of the benefits which might be expected from the advance of small sums for the encouragement of industry— that he had, in the course of last year, received a letter from Mr. Duggan, a Roman Catholic clergyman, in the county of Clare, in which it was stated, that there were then 124 fishing boats, belonging to persons in his parish, which were rendered wholly useless by the inability of the parties to fit them out. The reverend gentleman—than whom a better man did not exist, if he might judge from his indefatigable exertions for the relief of his poor parishioners—stated this fact, and added, that in consequence of the want of funds, these boats had not been used from May to the month of October. Though he had not asked for money, 100l; were sent to him; and, by a judicious application of 82l. of it, he had enabled the owners of those boats to fit them out, and thereby provide a subsistence for 340 persons who had been depending on them for support. Was not this, he would ask, a proof of the efficacy of those advances? He had read many thousand letters, and obtained much personal information from Ireland; and, if he knew that if he was within half an hour of his death, he should still assert, that unless the whole policy of this country towards Ireland were changed, events were in prospect, which might drag down this great and powerful country from the lofty station she had so long filled. By a different system, Ireland, at present a source of weakness, might be converted into a source of strength and power.
§ Mr. Goulburn
observed, that the hon. member for Midhurst had remarked, that his right hon. friend, the chancellor of the Exchequer, had not been as eloquent on this occasion as on others; and he had attributed it to the mode of argument he had 478 adopted. Now, his right hon. friend had expressly stated his readiness to concur in any measure which might be favourable to the interests of Ireland; but he did not think that the present was one of that description. For his own part, it would give him the greatest satisfaction to be able to state on his return to that country, that he had procured from parliament, or assisted in procuring, a grant of a million of money, to be applied for the encouragement of Irish industry; and he would most cordially concur in the proposition if he thought it was likely to be attended with such beneficial results as had been stated. It was but justice to the present lord-lieutenant of Ireland to state, that he was disposed to carry such a measure into effect, and that he had tried it, as far as it was practicable; but he bad been obliged to discontinue it, when it was ascertained that it was not attended with the results which had been anticipated. The hon. member had stated, that acts had passed for granting sums of money, by way of loan, for carrying on particular works in England; but, if the hon. member had read those acts of parliament, he would have found, that, at the time that a million had been granted for such purposes in this country, 500,000l. had been advanced for a similar purpose in Ireland. This was not intended as a permanent system of government, but as a temporary expedient to meet particular emergencies. Indeed, for a certain period, scarcely a session had passed, in which particular sums had not been so applied. It had also been enacted, as an encouragement for the application of capital to works in Ireland, that any person who should embark his capital in public works in that country, should be allowed the interest on that capital for a certain number of years. It might now be worth while to inquire, what had been the result of those advances. One grant had been applied as advances for the encouragement of trade and manufactures. After some time, a commission was appointed to inquire into the effect of those advances. The commission consisted of men above all suspicion—men of the highest character for integrity and impartiality—men of different religions, but of no political bias: by these it was represented to government, that they considered, under all the circumstances, the advances or loans to be working rather an injury than a benefit to the country; that those to whom 479 the loans had been advanced, and who were most anxious in seeking for them, were men, who, for the most part, without any capital of their own, were anxious to compete with those who worked their own capital; and that the low rate of interest at which the loans were obtained enabled them to do this the more easily. Under these circumstances, the lord-lieutenant determined to withdraw such advances, and to confine them in future to public works only. He feared that a similar fate would attend the loans which might be advanced under the motion of the hon. member, should the House agree to it. He would not go to the details of the hon. member's motion, for it was rather to the principle that he objected; but one objection would be, that government must resort to means of severity to recover those loans, if any difficulty occurred. It would have the preference of all other creditors, and recover by the process of extents. This would cause the other creditors to withdraw the money due to them, by every possible means; and the consequence must be, that government must either forego the debts which might be due to them, or by proceeding for them, produce a greater inconvenience. It was true that a part of the money already granted by parliament was still in the hands of the Irish government; and any addition to it at present would be only holding out hopes which it might not be possible to realize. Without going into the other points of the hon. member's speech, he would state that the ground on which he concurred with his right hon. friend in opposing the motion, was the inexpediency of advancing funds to the people, which could not be permanently kept up, and which, as he had observed, would give rise to hopes which could not be realized. There was one other topic to which he would allude. From the condition of Ireland, from the very nature of the food on which the population was supported, it was impossible that emergencies should not arise, when parliament would be called on to afford assistance to Ireland, to preserve the people from the effects of famine. It was peculiarly incumbent on those on whom the duty might be imposed of thus calling for the liberal assistance of parliament, to prevent the disposition from growing up, of considering a recourse to it allowable in ordinary cases.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
said, there were several 480 motives which should induce the members for Ireland to leave the discussion in the hands of the members for England, but there were some particular considerations which inclined him to trouble the House. The chief of these was, that he had had the honour of moving for the appointment of the committee, on the report of which his hon. friend had founded his motion. In that report the principle was laid down, that cases might arise, in which it would be beneficial for the government to step forward, and advance sums for the employment of the people of Ireland. That principle was brought to an issue by the speech of the right hon. secretary. What was it that the secretary of the Irish government now told them? That they had to look forward as a matter of course to the occurrence of famine in Ireland; and that therefore they should not interfere when a necessity less than famine existed. The Irish government expected starvation for the people, and when starvation came, the people might expect relief. Nothing, he thought, could be more mischievous than this avowal. What was the plan proposed by his hon. friend, as contrasted with that of the right hon. secretary? The right hon. secretary said, "wait till the people are starving, and then we'll relieve them." His hon. friend said, "let us take measures to prevent starvation from coming amongst them." His hon. friend asserted, that there were the means of employing the people, and that by removing the obstacles to the development of their powers, they might prevent the need of eleemosynary relief. In the speech of the right hon. gentleman there was this inconsistency. He deprecated the granting of eleemosynary relief—he could not do so more strongly than he (Mr. S. R.) did. But the right hon. secretary in conclusion, held out the anticipation, not only of the evil of granting eleemosynary relief, but of having it accompanied by the more terrible evil of famine. It was well for them, surely, to inquire whether this terrible calamity could not be averted. The House should not suppose that they had to contend with a disposition on the part of the Irish people to receive eleemosynary relief. The funds put at the disposal of the lord lieutenant by parliament, in order to afford relief to the poor, had been returned unemployed. His hon. friend, too (Mr. J. Smith), who was connected with Ireland by the 481 strongest ties, and to whom he hoped Ireland would one day have an opportunity of showing the gratitude she felt, could tell them, that when the committee for the relief of the poor had considerable sums in the hands of their correspondents in Ireland, the money was returned to them with this declaration—"We do not want eleemosynary relief; the funds were put at our disposal to keep the peasantry from starving, and we now wish to return it to you"[hear!]. The right hon. secretary had contended, that parliament had uniformly acted upon the principle, that extraordinary efforts in the way of pecuniary grants were only to be made to meet extraordinary emergencies of want. How could the right hon. secretary maintain this position in the face of the commission which still existed for the encouragement of public works in Ireland? That commission still existed; the money was in its hands; the system was in force. There were two examples which he begged to lay before the House, of the practical utility of those advances of money, of which it was the object of the motion to extend the benefits more widely. The first was effected by a gentleman, well known to many members of that House, Mr. Strickland. This gentleman found that a great obstacle to the cultivation of flax by the peasantry was the difficulty of procuring seed. He therefore expended 1,000l. in flax seed, which he advanced to the peasantry, not as a gift, but by way of loan, to be repaid when they gathered in their harvest. In this manner the peasantry were enabled to get for 5s. a quantity of seed equal to what they would have otherwise procured for 15s. The effect was, that when the whole expenses were paid of seed, rent, tithe, & c. there was a return of profit earned by the industry of this people of 21,000l. from this advance of 1000l. And it was not the least gratifying circumstance in the narrative, that Mr. Strickland had been repaid the whole of the 1000l. with the exception of 40l. which had only to be called for to be obtained. How many other gentlemen were there with the same disposition as Mr. Strickland, and who had not the means of making the same advance? There was another case which, in' a few days, would be on the table of the House, in a regular way, but he should take the liberty of anticipating it. The first case he had mentioned shewed the advantage of encouraging the 482 cultivation of flax; the second would shew the benefit derived from the promotion of public works. He would read a part of the report from one of the engineers employed by government, Mr. Nimmo. The road that was referred to was in the wildest part of the South-West district of Ireland. Mr. Nimmo spoke in the following terms: "I cannot conclude this report without alluding to the rapid improvement which is taking place in this district since the construction of this road. A few years ago there was hardly a plough, car, or carriage of any kind; butter, the only produce, was carried to Cork on horseback; there was not a decent public-house and I think only one house slated in the village; the rest a few scattered cabins; the nearest post-office thirty miles distant. Since the new road was made, there are (in three years) built upwards of twenty respectable two-story houses, slated and plastered, with good sashed windows; more than an equal number of lots for building are taken; a respectable shop, with cloth, hardware, and groceries; a comfortable inn, a post-office, chapel, a quay, covered with limestone brought as a return freight: a salt work; two stores preparing for purchasing oats, and a considerable traffic in linen and yarn; forty cars and carts. I have no doubt of the continuance of the prosperity of this place and of the consequent improvement of the whole barony." When they saw so small an expenditure of capital as that necessary for the opening of a road had produced such an effect, he thought they could not have a more powerful argument in favour of the motion be fore them. Before has at down he begged to observe, that in the committee last year, he had pledged himself at some future time to bring the subject of the employment of the poor in Ireland before the House, by moving for the revival of the committee. It had been his intention to have done so this session, and if he had abstained from it, it was only on account of the notice of the present motion given by his hon. friend, convinced as he was that the subject could not be in better hands.
§ Mr. Goulburn
denied that he had ever stated that the government should not interfere, except when the people were threatened with starvation. He had said that, considering that public works were at present going on in Ireland at the expense of the public, and which it was necessary 483 to have completed, he thought it was not necessary to call on parliament to make additional grants without any special object.
§ Mr. S. Rice
expressed his regret, if he had in any way misrepresented the right hon. secretary. He acknowledged that the right hon. secretary had shown meritorious zeal in the promotion of the employment of the poor; but he had conceived that his speech went not only to object to the motion of his hon. friend, but to impugn the principle of the right hon. secretary's own praise-worthy exertions.
Mr. Secretary Canning
said, that as he had been accidentally absent from the House during the conclusion of the speech of his right hon. friend, and the commencement of the speech of the hon. gentleman (the member for Limerick), he was not able, of his own knowledge, to state whether his right hon. friend had made the assertion imputed to him; but from all he knew of his right hon. friend's opinions, he was astonished at the description, by the hon. gentleman, of what had fallen, from him, and he had been gratified at hearing it explained in the manner in which he had taken for granted it had been uttered. The hon. gentleman had argued the question, as if the issue were, whether on any occasion, except under the pressure of absolute want, any pecuniary assistance should be afforded by parliament to the people of Ireland. But this was not the question. The question was, whether, on this occasion, the assistance should be afforded, and in the particular manner proposed by the hon. mover. Favourably as every proposition professing to have the relief of Ireland for its object was received, the proposition which had been submitted to them by the hon. gentleman was, both by the temper and the manner of his address—both by its conception and its execution—calculated to meet with more than ordinary favour. He was sure, however, that the same temper and good sense which the hon. gentleman had shewn, and which in a long career in parliament, would render, he hoped, his services most valuable to his country, would induce him to admit, that it was very possible to differ as to the application of a principle without dissenting from the principle itself. The hon. gentleman had stated most fairly, that unless he could shew that a peculiar crisis existed, and that the pecuniary assistance was calculated to afford the 484 peculiar relief, his proposition fell to the ground. Now he (Mr. C.) should contend not only that the pecuniary grant proposed was not calculated to afford relief, but that it must be productive of inconveniencies outweighing any possible advantages—a conclusion not at all shaken by any thing which the hon. member for Limerick had adduced. What had the hon. gentleman stated? He had adduced two instances, in which the advance of money (one of them, by the way, not public money) had been productive of the most beneficial results. In one case, a road had been opened in a barren district; and no one could withstand the facts which were adduced to show that this advance of capital was beneficial. But, was it to be argued that because this road had been useful, it would therefore be expedient in all barren districts, and under all circumstances, to expend money in the formation of roads? Why it was notorious that, in many districts, the money would be thrown away. Another instance went to prove that whereas the cultivation of flax might be carried on to considerable advantage by the peasantry, an advance of 1000l. had been made, by a landlord, be it recollected, which had fructified to such a degree that it had produced20,000l. in the hands of the tenants. There certainly could not be a clearer proof of the advantage of the advance of capital in an individual case; of a more gratifying and mutually beneficial result of a helping hand extended by a landlord to his tenants. But, what was the general argument deduced from this particular instance? That whereas a landlord had been able, beneficially, to advance money to his tenants, ergo, a loan should be made to the landed gentlemen throughout Ireland. It appeared to him clear that though it might be proper for the government to come forward occasionally for the relief of distress, and to contribute to public works, it was not expedient for it to come forward as a lender merely, still less as a lender to the landed interest. The object, it was to be remembered, was not to make loans to the Mr. Stricklands, who were already in circumstances which enabled them to make advances to their tenants, but to those, who, though not now able to lend might be very willing to borrow. Now, he had a decided opinion that such a scheme was most mischievous, and his opinion was the stronger, because he had been a convert to it; for, accord- 485 ing to the old adage, all converts were the most zealous in their belief. It had been his fortune, two or three years ago, to look at this subject, with a view to its application to England, and he had then thought that considerable means of relief would be afforded to the landed proprietors by issuing a sum to enable them to pay on their mortgages and other incumbrances. He had set out with the most sanguine expectations of benefit from the plan, and after the most patient examination, he had come most unwillingly to the conviction, that the scheme was impracticable, or, if practicable, that it would be mischievous in the highest degree. Let them consider the relation in which, under the plan proposed, the government would stand to the landed interest. The creditor would technically be the Crown. Had the Crown, he asked, the same prerogatives in Ireland as it had in England for the recovery of its debts; and, if it had, could there be anything more inconvenient than the relation in which the landlords would stand to the Crown? Who were the persons who would become bound to the Crown? Not the Mr. Stricklands, but the less opulent, or less provident, landlords, who, without means of their own, would be willing to become bound for the sums to be advanced to their tenants. They must become debtors to the Crown; for, unfortunately, there could not be a lender without a debt, or. It was remarked by the "Spectator," or some other essayist, how remarkably the person who advanced money changed his character—that nothing was so amiable as a lender, while nothing we so odious as a creditor; that we went cap in hand to a lender, admiring his liberality and generosity, while, in a year or two, when he assumed the aspect of a creditor, we dreaded to see his face. Yet these were the same individuals in different stages of their progress. The Crown, too, must so change its character; and unless loans were to be a cloak for gifts (and he would not say whether a free gift once for all would not be preferable to a perpetual succession of loans) the Crown must come to demand payment. The prerogative of the Crown would be very inconvenient, not only to the borrower but to all the creditors of the borrower. It stepped in before them all; Such a scheme would place the landlords in a state very inconvenient to themselves, very inconsistent with their independence! and very injurious, if 486 not ruinous, to those who were their previous creditors. These were the reasons which had un willingly diverted him from the application of such a plan in England, and which would render him still more decidedly averse to it in the case of Ireland. As to the other, and less objectionable, part of the proposal—to advance a sum in aid of public works, they had to recollect, that there were sums at the disposal of the government not yet expended: and therefore, though he felt most unwilling to throw cold water on any plan, sincerely intended, as he believed the present to be, for the benefit of Ireland, he felt himself compelled to dissent from the motion.
§ Mr. Maberly
, in reply to the objection just urged by the right hon. secretary, said, that there had been repeated instances in which loans had been made by the government to individuals, with acknowledged advantages to the country; yet these individuals had been placed in that very position with respect to the Crown, which the right hon. secretary now contended was a sufficient objection to the plan of his hon. relative. The right hon. secretary had rested his objections on the supposition, that the plan was to lend money on landed security. Not so. It was a plan to advance money for specific purposes. His honourable relative had adverted to districts of Ireland, where the people were even now in a state of starvation—where rebellions had broken out—and where, if the people were not employed, rebellion would break out again. He had himself received letters from that country, which described the extreme misery in which the people existed. They could hardly be said to subsist. They were often unable to get the 5s. or 6s., or 7s. necessary for the purchase of the seed of the small plot which they tilled to pay the rent of the ground, out of which they raised the potatoes which formed their only food. The people of Ireland asked for capital to enable them to grow that material, which they were now obliged to purchase from other nations. They were willing to work. There were thousands of them who were either not employed at all, or whose employment was so insufficient, as to yield them little more than 2d. a day. How could it be expected that they would be contented or happy, when they were prevented, by adverse circumstances, from selling that labour, which was the only marketable commodity they possessed? 487 The House had granted money without hesitation to build churches and to adorn palaces, and yet it doubted the propriety of making a grant where it would at least be as profitably employed. The Irish people, in fact, only required a loan, by which they would be enabled to plant and grow flax in their own country sufficient to employ those among them who were without the means of subsistence, only because they were deprived of the opportunity of labour [hear, hear, hear !]. He should support the motion.
§ Colonel Trench
said, he believed that the gentleman who had been so frequently alluded to that evening, was not an Irishman, but an English gentleman superintending an estate almost ruined by English attornies. If his example were followed by the male part of the Irish gentry, and if the example of his wife were imitated by the resident Irish ladies, the greatest blessings would arise to that country, and Ireland would soon be in a very different situation. It had been said, that a crisis would arrive. It should have been said, that the crisis had arrived, and that in every case where sympathy and kindness had been shewn towards the peasantry, the general situation of the parties had been materially improved. The Irish people had warm hearts and generous dispositions, and even the outrages of which some of them had been guilty, arose less from want of feeling, than from an overflow of warm feeling, goaded on to despair by distress and famine. The conduct of the resident gentry towards the lower class of the people had been productive of most mischievous effects. The people of Ireland enjoyed in no respect the same advantages as the people of England. The bank of Ireland would not lend out its capital in the same manner, nor at the same interest, as the bank of England. The distress of the Irish resident gentry was so great as to exceed belief. They were, in many instances, only the agents, and sometimes the ill-paid agents, of their own creditors. They were not able to adopt those improvements which were suggested for the employment of their tenantry, and for their own individual interest. On that ground only they wished for an advance of capital; but he much doubted, if it was, granted, whether they would be materially benefited by it, as they were not like the Dutch or Scotch; for though they were warm-hearted and generous, they wanted 488 prudence and foresight; and had such a distaste for trade, that they would rather their sons should starve than apprentice them to the first tradesmen in London.
§ Mr. Abercromby
said, that when he first entered the House, he had no intention whatever of uttering his sentiments on this subject, but from what had occurred, he felt bound to state some reasons for the vote which he should give that night. He was sorry to say, that he could not vote for the measure of his hon. friend, as it was now framed. It had been brought forward with great ability, and urged on the attention of the House, with such arguments, and in such a manner, as did infinite honour to the talents and temper of the gallant mover. It was with no inconsiderable pain that he should vote against this measure, because he was of opinion, that every proposition, that tended to relieve the distresses under which Ireland now laboured, deserved the most favourable attention. He was fully convinced, that Ireland owed less to the liberal policy of ministers than any other country in Europe. The present proposition came before the House under very peculiar circumstances. There was at this moment, a redundancy of capital in the English market—so great, indeed, that it could not be fully employed; and yet, though England was joined with a country containing an active population of six millions, who were greatly in want of capital, none of that redundant capital found its way into that country. Upon this statement it was asked of the government to do that which no individuals would do. If the House looked to what was, or at least ought to be, the best criterion of the value of property—land, what would they observe? Why, that though the price of land in Ireland was one-third less than in England, yet none of the English capital went there to purchase. What could be the cause of this? Did it not prove that in the state of things there was something so dreadful, as to offer no hope, no interest, no advantage to the speculating capitalist? To all other parts of the world did English capital go-—but not to Ireland. This fact seemed to him to place the subject in such a point of view, as called for the most serious consideration both of the ministers and the legislature. It was a state which could be the result of nothing but a series of acts of misgovernment. It proved, that both 489 person and property were in such a state of insecurity, as to offer insurmountable obstacles to the employment of capital, and to disable any man from pursuing a course which would be as beneficial to the country as it would, under other circumstances, be profitable to himself. The redundant population of Ireland had been stated as another source of evil, to which had been added her internal commotions. If he now voted against granting any relief to Ireland, it was because he thought that, until the obstacles to which he had alluded were removed, no capitalist would venture his property in Ireland, and that until capital was beneficially employed there, no one could rationally entertain a hope of the permanent tranquillity of the country. It might perhaps be said, that it was odd he should make these observations, and yet vote against the proposition of his hon. friend. But, when he looked to the nature of the proposition, to the large sum required to be lent, and asked himself what security could be offered for the loan? The only answer he was able to give was, the land. Now, it was not part of the proposition, that the money should be lent directly to the landholders, for if it were, he should at once exclaim against it; and yet, in lending it to the manufacturers, the result was the same, for government could not afford to lend on mere personal security; and what beyond personal security could they look to, except to the land? Whether, therefore, it was lent on land directly, or whether the land was only pledged as a collateral security for its re-payment, the evil was the same, and the remedy by the government also would be ultimately the same. Viewing it in this light, the case appeared so plain to him, that he could not but express his wonder at hearing the right hon. secretary of state for foreign affairs, whose views were generally so clear, declare that he had ever entertained the idea, or entered into the calculation, of such a project. If the government lent the money on the security of land, they would destroy the sale of land for a considerable time; for who, under any circumstances, would think of purchasing land pledged for a debt to the government, whose process would follow it into the hands of every successive purchaser? Whether any minor measure of relief could be proposed—such, for instance, as lending money to the middle classes, for the purpose of affording em- 490 ployment to the manufacturers—was a question which might afterwards be discussed. It would be an exception to the general rule, made in favour of Ireland on account of her peculiar circumstances. He was of opinion, that if money were lent to the people of Ireland on the plan of the Irish committee, it would be beneficial both to England and Ireland; to the former, as it would offer her the advantage of capital, and to the latter, as it would promote a good understanding between her and the sister country. The efforts of the Irish committee proved that such a result might be fairly anticipated; and the hon. member near him (Mr. J. Smith) deserved the highest praise for the part he had taken on that committee. The gentlemen opposite were involving both themselves and the country in inconsistencies. They were educating the people of Ireland, and thus taking the film off their eyes; while at the same time they were continuing to pursue a line of policy which must naturally tend to excite irritation. If that policy were continued, and capital were thus prevented from finding its way into Ireland, and giving the people employment, they would be the ready victims of any who were willing to mislead them. He would not press this argument further; but, when he observed the progress of education, he could not but feel, that unless government accommodated itself to more liberal principles, they were proceeding in a very mistaken manner, and in a most dangerous path.
§ Mr. Monck
observed, that the evils of Ireland arose from an excessive and redundant population, and from a want of the means to afford employment to the people. Of these the former was the greater, and he thought that, in some measure, it might be mitigated, by giving the people different habits of living.—At present, they lived, or rather existed, on the very lowest means; and when those failed, through an accidental bad season, they could have recourse to no other. Another evil produced by these low means of subsistence was, the prevalence of early and inconsiderate marriages; by which poverty and wretchedness were introduced into a family, and by which a man made himself and his children the slaves of the landlord. In this respect, the greatest difference was observable between Ireland and Scotland. The superficial extent of the two countries was the same, and yet in 491 the former the population was seven, in the latter only two millions. He did not agree with the noble lord (Althorp) who had proposed to take of all taxes on articles of consumption; for that would be a boon to Ireland at the expense of the other two kingdoms. The manufacturers in England and Scotland could not then compete with the manufacturers of Ireland, wages would be the same in all, but in one of the three alone the labourer would receive his wages free from taxation. The remedies he should propose would be to check the increase of the population, to give employment on principles different from those mentioned that evening, to forbid, by an act of parliament framed on the manner of the statute of Elizabeth, any person building a cottage without a certain quantity of land attached to it, as the building of those mud cabins greatly tended to the increase of the population, as had been satisfactorily shewn by Mr. Malthus—to lay a tax of a shilling in the pound by way of land-tax on all absentees, and to introduce the English system of farming. The present motion, if adopted, would only afford employment to about 40,000 people, whilst 300,000 or 400,000 wanted work. It was therefore inadequate; and besides that objection, he disliked the principle of giving relief to Ireland, at the direct expense of England and Scotland.
said, that he did not desire the improvement of his native country at the direct expense of any other portion of the empire; but he did put in a claim for justice and good faith towards Ireland. He was glad to see that English gentlemen were directing their attention to the state of Ireland, and he felt grateful for their exertions. He had been for twenty years vainly endeavouring to rouse the attention of government and the parliament to the consideration of the condition of his native country, and contending for that admission which was at length so freely given; namely, that the improvement of Ireland must conduce to the general welfare of the empire, and that her tranquillity would add to its stability. As long as persons and property were insecure in Ireland, so long would the peace and prosperity of Great Britain be marred and compromised. He bestowed his warmest commendations upon the hon. mover of this question, and asked its opponents, if they could deny that the employment of the peasantry was an indis- 492 pensable object, and if this motion did not tend to afford some employment? He seized this measure because he saw no better offered. He had been calling for years for inquiry, and for relief for the wretched population of Ireland; and the government were deaf to the call. But, did they imagine they could continue this indifference? Did they think they could retain Ireland in their hands, by always meeting the growth of misery with coercion? The notion was preposterous. There was a state of distress accumulating in the south and west of Ireland, that if it were felt in Lancashire, or in Scotland, would require the whole standing army of the kingdom to keep from breaking out into open revolt. He implored ministers to direct their calm and dispassionate attention to the condition of Ireland, not to advance as, hitherto, at a snail's pace, but before they prorogued parliament to take up the subject seriously; for the danger could no longer be overlooked. He called upon the government to remember the pledge given, at the time of the Union, by Mr. Pitt and lord Clare—the solemn assurance, that in the imperial parliament the redress should be afforded to Irish grievances which it were vain to expect from the contending factions which then convulsed Ireland and disgraced her government. Look at these promises, and their subsequent abandonment. The hon. member then took a review of the wretched condition of the peasantry of Ireland, and implored the House not to reject a motion which had their improvement for its object, without stipulating for some other, which was likely to be more generally palatable. He implored them to meet the question with calmness and temper, and, whilst they admitted the errors of the past, to proceed in a spirit of firmness and conciliation to repair injuries which had already been too long and too severely inflicted.
§ Mr. Alderman Bridges
said, he was sorry to hear of the distressed situation of the Irish peasantry, which he hoped would meet with serious attention from the government. He could not but be struck with the singular and melancholy fact, that while loans could be had in England for people in the remotest corners in the world, not a shilling could be raised for Ireland.
§ Sir John Newport
said, he entirely agreed with his hon. friend that tranquillity must be restored, before capital 493 could be expected to find its way into Ireland. But he was astonished to find the government so passive upon the state of Ireland, and that they should appear to hope for the attainment of tranquillity from the operation of coercion and insurrection laws. He would contend now, as he had often done before, that the great impediment to the circulation of capital in Ireland would be found in the bad ad-ministration of the laws of that country. Why, he would ask, did government allow session after session to pass away, without adopting some remedy for this state of things? It had been stated over and over again, and proved before committees of that House, that the manner in which the office of sheriff and sub-sheriff was executed in Ireland, was a complete bar to the introduction of capital into that country. The right hon. gentleman opposite might say, that since the report of the committee, the appointment of sheriffs had been carefully attended to. But, the office of sub-sheriff was totally neglected, and those persons did their duty now in the same manner as formerly. Some fears had been expressed of the Irish working for lower wages if relief should be given them; but, it was impossible for them to do this. They now received only the bare necessaries of life. They wanted employment; and he could shew that this arose from the false policy of the government. Ever since the Union it had laboured to raise the scale of taxation in Ireland as high as it was in England, and had only to relinquish it when it was ascertained, that the attempt was wholly unproductive. For twelve years he had remonstrated against this scheme, and had foreseen the evils resulting from it of a beggared gentry and a ruined peasantry. The House had, however, at length found, that it was impossible to raise Ireland as high in the scale of taxation as England. The hon. gentleman had asked, were the people of England and Scotland to subsist the Irish? Did the hon. gentleman know, that there were immense sums of money poured from Ireland into England, furnishing food and clothing to its people? And, was there to be no remuneration for this? Was none of it to be returned? The Irish gentlemen fled to the continent, because they were no longer able to sustain their rank. They were driven from their native country by taxation; and it was not too much to expect, after a long course of vicious policy 494 had produced these effects, that the government should be called on to shew the Irish the way out of their misery? They had a right to expect that the legislature which had brought them into this state, should direct them how to get out of it. It was the duty of the right hon. gentlemen opposite, to find out more effective measures; and, if they could not agree among themselves, each one of them ought to sacrifice somewhat of his individual opinion, and agree to some general and efficacious measure. While education was spreading among the people of Ireland, and they were not improving in their condition, their progress in knowledge would only be fatal to this country; as they thereby discovered their strength, and became sensible of their oppression. Nothing but evil could result from their increased knowledge: and the most fatal collision of two countries must be expected, which it was the duty of government and the wish of all good men to see indissolubly united. It was a most important question, involving the peace and happiness of both countries. It was an imperial question, and he protested against any such questions being considered as the measures of a party, and rejected because they originated with the opposition side of the House. If it were not taken up in a season of peace, it would be forced on the attention of the House during a period of war. It was only during periods of domestic distress that justice had ever been done to Ireland. If her situation were now ameliorated, the people would receive it with gratitude. If not now done, they would hereafter demand it in a season of difficulty and distress.
Mr. Secretary Peel
thought, that but a very small part of the right hon. baronet's speech had any bearing on the question before the House. All he should feel it necessary to observe on the present occasion—which he considered by no means the best that the right hon. baronet might have selected for that speech-was, that he fully coincided in the objections which his hon. friends had taken to the motion. The right hon. baronet had said, that one of the great obstacles to the importation of capital into Ireland, was, the present condition of the administration of justice in that country. He had particularly alluded to those officers who were engaged in the recovery of debts, and had asked, why no remedy was applied to the known deficiencies of 495 their department. With respect to the nomination of sheriffs, he seemed to be satisfied that government had effected every thing that was in their power for the due execution of their office. With regard to sub-sheriffs, to whom the right hon. baronet's objections seemed principally to be taken, he was willing to allow that in the discharge of their offices a very defective system prevailed. But, was it not a fact, that at this very moment a commission, that had been mainly instituted on the suggestion of the right hon. baronet himself, was employed in the investigation of this very subject? Would it not be much better, therefore, to leave the discussion of such a topic until the House should be in possession of that commission's report?
§ Sir J. Newport
, in explanation, remarked, that that commission was appointed to inquire into the fees and duties of the office of sheriff in Ireland, and could not, therefore, report any thing satisfactory upon the subject of his complaint as to the sub-sheriffs, under the present system; for he complained of the non-execution of their duty, and insisted upon the necessity of enforcing a proper discharge of that duty.
§ Captain Maberly
rose to reply. He said, that all parties seemed agreed as to the nature of the evils which agitated Ireland; the only difference appeared to be, as to the remedy which it might be proper to apply to them. He fully admitted the force of many of the objections that had been urged to his motion; but he thought that the advantages which would arise from encouraging manufactures in Ireland, from establishing habits of industry and civilization, and from providing permanent employment for the poor population of that country (for such relief could only be furnished by permanent, and not by temporary employment)—these advantages, he considered, would more than counterbalance any such objections. He had no doubt, from what had occurred in Scotland in 1817, where an advance of capital had enabled individuals to establish a new branch of the herring fishery, and beat the Dutch out of the market of Hamburgh, that if capital were advanced to Ireland, fisheries would be established in that country also. He was sorry the gentlemen opposite did not see the measure in the same light in which he did; but he should feel it his duty to divide the House on the question.
§ The House divided: Ayes 33. Noes 85.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, visc.||Nugent, lord|
|Brownlow, C.||Pelham, J. C.|
|Clements, J.||Power, R.|
|Clifton, lord||Rice, T. S.|
|Denman, T.||Smith, J.|
|Ebrington, visc.||Smith, hon. R.|
|Ellis, hon. G. A.||Stanley, lord|
|Foley, J.||Stanley, hon. E. C.|
|Handley, H.||Stuart, W.|
|Honywood, W. P.||Sykes, D.|
|Hutchinson, hon. C. H.||Talbot, R. W.|
|Lamb, hon. G.||Tierney, right hon. G.|
|Leader, W.||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Maberly, J.||Whitbread, S. C.|
|Maberly, captain||White, H.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||White, S.|
|Newport, sir J.||Wood, M.|