HC Deb 15 April 1825 vol 12 cc1358-61

On the resolution, "That 30,000l. be granted, for facilitating Emigration from the South of Ireland to the Canadas, for the year 1825,"

Mr. Hume

hoped, that the vote would not be brought forward that night, as the attendance of members was so thin. He should resist the proposal in every way.

Mr. Wilmot Horton

could not consent to the delay, as he knew of no more convenient opportunity of discussing the subject. He adverted to the vote of 1823, for the purpose of conveying persons from the south of Ireland to the Cape of Good Hope, and observed, that the object was one of national importance that could not be so well effected in any other manner. He did not mean to bind himself to any particular plan of emigration; but he was prepared to show, that the principles on which it rested were sound, although improvements upon some points might be suggested and adopted. The error of past emigration had been, that people were sent out, and when they arrived at their destination, they had not the means of procuring subsistence; but the purpose now was, to place the settlers in such a situation as to enable them to support themselves by their own industry. Government had received the most flattering accounts of the success which had attended the present system so late as up to last February. Under these circumstances, he felt justified in proposing the present vote. The undertaking was in the nature of an experiment, which might, in its operation, effect a partial benefit to Ireland.

Mr. Grattan

complained, that no account had been given of the result of the proceedings on this subject in the last year. As far as any thing was known, it seemed that the experiment, as far as re- lated to Canada, had not answered. In his view, it became the House to pause, not only until ministers brought forward such information as they possessed, but until it was seen whether, from any change in the situation of Ireland, such a course as that now recommended was necessary.

Mr. V. Fitzgerald

supported the proposition, believing that it would be equally beneficial to Ireland and Canada.

Mr. Abercromby

thought, that the introduction of the present question was in itself a decisive proof of the bad system of government existing in Ireland. Instead of considering whether means could not be discovered to give sufficient employment to the labouring classes, so as to enable them to live upon the fruits of their industry, the House was now to be engaged in a discussion upon the best means of transporting them to another country. However, if the people were to emigrate, he was opposed to the principle of government taking the whole expense of the emigration upon itself; as he thought it would be amply sufficient, if those who intended to emigrate, simply received assistance from the government, instead of being sent out by it.

Mr. Wilmot Horton

defended the grant, which he described to be only of an experimental kind. Its objects were to be pursued in the most economical manner; and he should therefore be happy to receive from any gentleman a suggestion of a practical nature, by which the expense could be diminished, though he believed that could hardly be done.

Mr. Bright

approved of the principle of colonization, but complained of the expense at which it had been attempted to be carried into effect. He believed that some reductions could be made in that expense; although the hon. gentleman seemed to believe that impossible. He thought the House had better examine whether there was not a more advantageous mode of disposing of the surplus population of Ireland, than by sending them abroad. He should oppose the grant now; not absolutely, but conditionally, until a committee had been appointed to investigate the subject, and to report thereon to the House; and, among other things, to state whether, in their opinion, "a grant of 30,000l. was not more than sufficient for the purpose.

Mr. S. Rice

expressed his thanks to the government for having taken up this subject. Emigration was an. experiment which had been tried, and had failed; and now it was asked to try the same experiment again, without knowing how far it was instrumental in the intended object. Formerly, the peasantry of Ireland looked on this system of emigration as only a genteel mode of transportation; but now they were anxious to emigrate to any place where they could find an honest mode of subsistence.

Mr. M. Fitzgerald

was disposed to continue the experiment of emigration; and should give his hearty consent to the proposed grant.

Mr. Hume

wished to know, if these colonists were sent out, whether they were likewise to be provided with capital to trade upon? Before making the grant, the House ought to have full evidence on the subject. He was eredibly informed, that eighteen out of every twenty emigrants that went to Upper Canada, passed on to the United States. Therefore, until accounts should be received from Canada, he should oppose the grant. At present, he looked upon it as a most wanton piece of extravagance.

Mr. J. Smith

supported the grant. He would vote the sum of 30,000l. to send a given number of Irish peasants to the Canadas, on the simple ground, that he should thereby be rescuing that number of persons from hopeless misery. His sentiments might be found fault with; but he should at least have the consolation of feeling, that he had rendered a number of his fellow-subjects happy for life.

Mr. Hutchinson

agreed with the hon. member for Midhurst, that this vote was calculated to relieve a small portion of the population of Ireland. If his majesty's government, however, conceived that this measure would afford any substantial relief to the miseries of that country, they grossly deceived themselves. It was not by promoting any scheme of emigration, but by uniting the people of Ireland, and finding employment for its population, that effectual relief could be afforded.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that if the proposition for a committee were meant as a substitute for the present vote, he should certainly oppose it. He had no objection, however, to refer the general question of emigration from Ireland on a large scale, to a specific committee; as the committee on the general state of Ireland might be too much occupied with other subjects to embrace that particular question.

Mr. Trant

supported the motion. He should not have done so, however, but for the pledge of a committee to take the question of emigration into consideration.

The resolution was agreed to.