HC Deb 14 March 1828 vol 18 cc1147-8

Mr. Kennedy moved the order of the day "for going into a committee on this bill."

Mr. Estcourt

wished the measure to be postponed until after the select committee appointed on the motion of a noble lord (Stanley) on the law relating to the passing of Irish vagrants, had made their report. As the law now stood, an Irishman residing in Scotland for three years had a claim for a settlement; but under this bill seven years were required. There was no reciprocity in the measure, it was entirely in favour of Scotland, and against England. Now, he thought that no bill ought to be passed until some general principle that would include the entire empire was agreed upon. He would therefore move, "that the bill be committed on this day six weeks."

Mr. James Grattan

seconded the motion. The House ought to proceed on a general principle, and not with reference to any particular part of the empire. If this bill was passed, it would have the effect ten or eleven years hence, of excluding all Irish labourers from Scotland.

Mr. Kennedy

denied any such intention. On the contrary, he regarded the Irish as a valuable class of men, who had conferred great benefits upon Scotland. The hon. member had declared that there was no reciprocity in this matter; but he seemed to forget that England possessed that which Scotland had not, namely, a law of removal. If he were to ask the House to grant him a law of removal for Scotland, he did not think it would be refused; but still he did not ask for it, because it could not be carried into effect without a parochial rate levied upon each parish. That remedy for the evil, therefore, he did not seek, because it would create another evil, which the people of Scotland were most desirous to avoid. They only asked for a better term of settlement; and he really thought the propositions of his bill both moderate and reasonable. The committee of the noble lord merely professed to inquire into the passing of vagrants; but as Scotland had no power to pass, he conceived that no good could result from delay. He did not wish to put a stop to the passage of the Irish into Scotland, but he wished to put an end to the migratory disposition of the Irish and, by compelling them to settle in one place instead of roaming through the country, to make their industry advantageous to themselves and to the country.

Mr. S. Rice

said, that if he saw anything in the bill which could be rendered injurious to his country he would oppose it. No Subject, however, could be of more importance than the constant emigration of the Irish population. If left to follow its course unopposed, it must be attended with consequences the most calamitous. He was friendly to the present bill because he thought that this country should not add to the inducements which brought the starving population of Ireland from their homes, and hold out the temptation of settlement in England or Scotland, in addition to the high wages and means of living which they at present afforded them. He thought it but just and expedient, that an Irish family should not be able to acquire a right of settlement upon the same terms and with the same ease as a family of English.

Mr. Peel

wished the bill to be postponed until it should be seen what bearing it had upon a measure, somewhat similar, with respect to Scotland, which was about to be proposed.

Mr. Kennedy

acquiesced in the proposal of the right hon. gentleman, and the further consideration of the bill was postponed to the 2nd of May; as was also the Scotch Vagrants bill.