§ Lord Howick
said, that in rising to move for leave to bring in the Bill of which he had given notice, he should take the opportunity of explaining the means by which he proposed to give to the unemployed poor of this country who wished to emigrate, but did not pos- 876 sess the means of doing so, facilities for the accomplishment of that object. In this country, but more especially in Ireland, there was a deficiency of employment in proportion to the numbers of the population. That fact was notorious to all who had considered the subject, and the object of all those who speculated or thought on it was, to provide a remedy for the evils thus occasioned. Before any measure could be introduced for the permanent relief of the poor in Ireland, it would be absolutely necessary to relieve the country from its superabundance of population. In the various colonies of this country, the demand for labour was considerable. In the Australian colonies the ordinary rate of wages was 5s. per day, but in some trades—such, for instance, as those of the wheelwright—the workmen often received 15s. 6d. per day. In Canada the rate of wages was not so high, but it was higher than in this country: a farm servant there generally receiving 3s. 9d., and, in harvest time, being of en paid 6s. 6d. a day. In this country, so different was the state of things, that the labourer viewed all who came to compete with him with the utmost degree of jealousy, while every additional labourer in the colonies was received with a most friendly welcome. The transfer, therefore, of a part of our superabundant labourers to the colonies would be equally beneficial to all parties; to the labourer here, by diminishing the overwhelming competition from which he now suffered severely—to the settler there, by affording him the means of more fully cultivating the land he occupied—and to both this country and the colony, by relieving much of the distress new existing in the former, and by adding to the productive industry of the latter. The mode he proposed to adopt in effecting that transfer was shortly this:—He proposed by his Bill to empower the Crown to appoint Commissioners for the purpose of superintending the business of emigration, and regulating its details, which were now either altogether neglected, or left almost wholly to the operation of chance. It would be the business of these Commissioners to give to the emigrants advice and assistance, to provide them with the means of conveyance to the colonies, and to put them in the best way of getting employment, and maintaining themselves by their own industry when they got there. In proposing this, he did 877 not mean that any expense should be thrown on the general income of the country—it was his intention, that individuals, or parishes, should bear the expense thus incurred. He proposed, therefore, that with the consent of two-thirds of the inhabitants of a parish, the overseers should be at liberty to enter into contracts with individuals who wished to emigrate. Of course, this part of the Bill could not extend to Ireland, where there were no parish officers, and no parochial rates, and he acknowledged, that on this point his Bill was defective; but he trusted that the deficiency would be in some measure supplied by giving to individuals the power of making contracts for the sending abroad their surplus labourers. He would, however, take that opportunity of observing, that a Bill for the purpose of enabling persons in Ireland to make these contracts for emigration ought to be passed, in order to give the measure its best and most extended operation. From evidence given before the Emigration Committee, it was reasonable to hope, that many landlords would find it their interest to come forward, to promote the object in view; but should this not turn out to be the case—should it be found that voluntary contributions were insufficient—it would be in the power, and it would probably be considered the duty, of Parliament to adopt some means of assessing either parishes or counties. That, however, was a matter for future consideration, and the utmost that could be said was, that this was a defect in the Bill; but he thought the House would agree with him in thinking, that it would be better, in the first instance, to stop short of what it might be advisable to do, than to run any risk of going too far. The chance of benefitting the condition of the labourer by the measure was so great, that he had no hesitation in saying, that the emigrants to these colonies would soon be elevated from the condition of a pauper to that of the character of a landowner. In consideration of the facility for emigration which he thus intended to give, he proposed that the paupers, in the event of their failure in the colonies (a failure that, from the nature of the circumstances, could only be attributed to themselves) should waive all claim to relief upon their return to this country. By placing the emigration of these people in some manner under the control of Commissioners, that objection which had frequently been urged 878 against emigration, of the people not finding employment, and being destitute on their arrival, would be removed. There were at this moment twenty millions of acres of disposable land in our North American colonies. Ample means of employment would be afforded to the labourer in the cultivation and improvement of such an immense tract of country. The next thing, therefore, to be considered, was, the expense of carrying the scheme of emigration into effect. The passage of a man, his wife, and two children, and of fully establishing them, had been estimated, by Sir Howard Douglas, at 66l. Now, the expense of maintaining such a family in England, was at the lowest calculation, 25l. a year. For much less, therefore, than three years' purchase of the parochial expenditure, this country could relieve itself of a great and growing burthen. He had made these statements upon the supposition that it would be necessary to establish the paupers on the Crown lands; but he did not believe that necessity would ever occur; for the means of labour could be easily found elsewhere, and the labourer would have the most advantageous opportunity of ameliorating his own condition—an advantage which, derived as it would be from his own exertions, would be a greater benefit than if it wore bestowed on him as a boon. Upon this part of the subject, he should beg leave to refer to the evidence given before the Committee by Mr. Hamilton, in 1827, when that gentleman stated, that the number of persons who had emigrated to Canada in the then last year amounted to 10,000. That number, however, was absorbed speedily; for though Mr. Hamilton thought that emigration, carried on at that rate, would be a great evil, it seemed that no less than 28,000 landed at Quebec in the years 1829, 1830. A Quebec Gazette, of a late date, after referring to the fact that a Committee of the House of Lords had been appointed to inquire into the Poor-laws, stated —We expect, with confidence, that the result will be, the promotion, on a commensurate scale, of our favourite plan of emigration, as the certain means of relieving the temporary pressure of distress among the labouring poor of the United Kingdom. The immense field which these provinces offer for practical emigration is now acknowledged at home, and the circumstances alluded to above cannot but strongly impress upon the mind the advantages to the poor themselves, could 879 they, by the interference of Government, by parochial assessments, by mortgaging the poor-rates, by their own exertions, or by any means, be settled in Canada during the season of emigration. With very trifling pecuniary assistance, compared to the benefit obtained, from 30,000 to 40,000 labouring paupers might be provided for, prudently and satisfactorily in these provinces. Among the 28,000 emigrants arrived here last season, who may be considered as the avant couriers of a much larger body, those who remained in these provinces are. in general, comfortably established, or have the fairest prospect of being so. Some of these were nearly destitute, and had been receiving parochial relief at home. Those who came from Cellridge, though landed on our shores without capital, would not at this moment return to the country they fled from. We mention these facts to prove, that not even poverty on arrival here is an evil without remedy. It may be got over, and we are ourselves acquainted with many instances where a good house covers the pauper family of 1829.A letter from the agents to the Canada Company, which he had seen, contained statements to the same effect:Men willing to work, (it said), cannot have any difficulty in obtaining employment, and at high wages, compared with what they have been accustomed to. During harvest there is always a scarcity of labourers, who in consequence obtain almost any wages their conscience allows them to ask; but that only lasts for a few weeks. However, an industrious man can save enough out of one season's work to enable him to take up land himself, and he in his turn requires labourers to assist him at certain seasons; and this demand is of course continually on the increase. In fact, emigrants cannot, for very many years yet, come out in such numbers as to overstock the market; and you may with perfect confidence give the "fullest assurances to that effect. A very large number will find employment on the roads cutting through the Company's lands; but they will be finished, we hope, next year.From the fact, thus satisfactorily established, that at the present rate of wages the great majority of labourers speedily became the proprietors of land, and the employers of following emigrants, he drew the inference, that a great emigration in one year, instead of glutting the market in succeeding years, extended the demand for labour; and that, therefore, should emigration be taken up on a great scale, all that the Commissioners would have to guard against would be, a temporary excess of labour; but against that evil their care and caution must provide. The Commissioners might employ the labourers, on their arrival, in public works, in order not to throw them at once on the general market. Taking wages at 2s. 6d. a day, 880 a man would earn 39l. a year. Now, the passage of each person was calculated, by Sir H. Douglas, at 171. 10s., and, in a family of three persons, that would amount to 521. 10s., which would be much less than two years' purchase of the man's labour. Mr. Bayley, in a Report on the Crown lands, said, that in New Brunswick the public roads were out of repair, and that 1,000 labourers, for one year, might be employed exclusively on them: the cost of patting them in order he calculated at 67,000l. The certainty of profitable labour was, therefore, secured in that way, if there were not other and equally profitable means of employing it. Had he not been convinced of that, he should have shrunk from the task of proposing a measure which, banishing men from their own country, might have left them destitute in America. There were strong reasons to believe, that emigration once begun, and conducted on a systematic principle, its expense would be trifling, and would be continually extended. The passage to Australia was longer and more expensive than that to Canada, but the demand for labour was greater there, and many of the settlers there had offered to bear a portion of the expense, on the condition of having assured them, for a limited time, the labour of the emigrant. The Government only claimed the merit of having adopted the ideas of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Wilmot Horton) who had so long and perseveringly urged on the country the consideration of the subject. The noble Lord concluded by moving for "leave to bring in a Bill to facilitate voluntary Emigration to his Majesty's Possessions abroad."
§ Mr. Schonswar
said, he should give his support to the proposition of the noble Lord. He approved of its principle, but he had some objections to make to its details at its next stage.
§ Sir G. Murray
said, he believed that this was the best mode of relieving the distress at home, and (if it was true that there was an overplus of the population in this country) of giving that overplus a facility of transfer to another country, where he was certain they could establish themselves in comfort and independence, and where they might secure to their descendants prosperity and happiness. He was pleased to have an opportunity of joining with the noble Lord in pronouncing 881 an eulogium on the zeal and assiduity of Mr. Wilmot Horton in promoting this object. His life had, indeed, been devoted to it. When he himself was at the head of the Colonial Office, he gave the subject his fullest attention. There was, however, one feature in the plan then proposed, and which was now retained in that of the noble Lord, to which he much objected he meant the appointment of Commissioners to manage the system of emigration. The Commissioners were to have been in the form of a Board sitting in England, for the regulation of emigration; and the first objection he had to their appointment was, that, in his opinion, Commissioners resident here ought not to have the power of allocating lands; and his second objection, that they ought not to have the power of directing details, which might better be intrusted to persons living in the colonies. While the subject was under his consideration, he looked out for a man who might be trusted to make the necessary inquiries, and he selected Mr. Richards, whom accident had made him acquainted with, and who, in every possible respect, seemed calculated to discharge such a duty with the utmost efficiency. That gentleman had resided for years in America, and had besides been employed in the business of valuing and settling lands there. On that gentleman's integrity he felt he could as much rely as on his talent and experience. To him, therefore, was intrusted the task of examining into the matter. He (Sir G. Murray) was aware that large quantities of land in our North American colonies had been made the subject of extravagant grants by the Crown. The system formerly adopted was not so well regulated as he could wish. That gentleman had now probably made his Report, for it had not been made when he (Sir G. Murray) left office. The plan he intended to have acted upon was this—that nothing should be done that appeared like holding out encouragement in a pecuniary point of view, or giving a bounty upon emigration, but that those who voluntarily wished to emigrate, or whom their landlords wished to quit their estates, or who were willing to go out under the auspices of any Society, should open a communication with the Colonial Office, and should have every facility afforded for finding their way out to the colonies. He intended to have established at certain ports of the United 882 Kingdom, agents, whom he would have selected from the half-pay officers resident there, and who should have been the intermediate agents between the ship-owners and the emigrants. There would have been in that no further expense, but a slight increase to the half-pay of the gentlemen thus employed. That was the whole system, so far as he contemplated it at the time. The power of the agents in the land-granting department in the colonies should have been regulated—they should have been obliged to make surveys of the grounds, and to give directions enabling the emigrants to proceed to their settlements, and enter on the possession of them, He thought the principle of interfering too much quite as bad, if not worse, than that of interfering too little; and he believed, that when Government interfered too much in matters of this kind, it was generally guilty of much mismanagement. He had, therefore, avoided that error as much as possible, and he would recommend to his successors to interfere as little as possible. That was the basis of the plan he contemplated carrying into effect. He did not know how far time might have developed it. He thought it would be advantageous in every respect to facilitate the means by which the emigrant could get into immediate employment at the place to which he emigrated, and thus enable him quickly to repay the expense of his voyage. The timber-trade of Canada, and the improved means of water-carriage, afforded the opportunity for quick and advantageous employment of the emigrant; and, with regard to the colony itself, he believed that nothing would so much strengthen Canada as the emigration to it of a considerable body of active and industrious labourers.
§ Mr. Tennant
said, that impressed as he was with a sense of the evils of a superabundant population, he was still more convinced of the necessity that the country should not rush into the evils of an excessive taxation. The measure before the House would produce an increase of taxation in this over burthened nation, of which the House seemed to have no conception. It was proposed that two-thirds of the landowners and rate-payers of a parish should be authorized to subject the parish to a permanent debt of any amount which their notion of the necessity of emigration might require. Now, was it not clear that the superabundance of the population 883 would continue for ten years? And if it should so continue, suppose that, according to this Bill, two-thirds of the landowners and rate-payers incurred a debt of 20,000l., for which the parish had annually, for ten years, to pay 1,000l. as interest, and at the end of that time there should be a new influx of poor, not only would that annual charge of l,000l. have in future to be paid, but there would be an additional increase of the rates, for the maintenance of the additional poor. He would ask hon. Members, was it not possible that all the rent, and even all the produce of the parish might thus be absorbed in the poor-rates? But there was a still greater objection to the Bill: its operation would necessarily remove the wholesome check which compelled the people themselves, as well as the landlords, to exert some control over the increase of population. He thought it was rather hastily assumed, that the projected transportation of the poor would be found less expensive than their maintenance at home. He wished to know what was intended by the noble Lord, respecting the location of the emigrants under his Act, upon their arrival in the colony? He (.Mr. Tennant) had himself considered the subject of colonization, but he would not, on that occasion, explain the principles of his plans, as to do so would occupy, perhaps, three or four hours of the time of the House. He wished, however, that, the House would allow the measure of the noble Lord to stand over, until he (Mr. Tennant) should be able to lay before them a brief statement of what he conceived to be the sound principles of emigration. The true theory of emigration, he assured the House, was by no means difficult to be understood. It was necessary that theory should be well known to the House, and he was sure it was a fit subject of inquiry. He wished the House would permit him to lay before it his system of colonization before it decided upon the present Bill. He should be able to do so upon the 10th of March, and he would wish then to move for a Committee to inquire into the theory and best plans of emigration.
§ Mr. Grattan
objected to the principle of the Bill. He believed that Ministers would find themselves disappointed, if they looked to any such measure as affording the means of delivering Ireland from the poor. He preferred finding employment for them at home. But as he still 884 hoped that good might, perhaps, be effected by the Bill, he would not oppose it.
§ Lord Althorp
reminded the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that his noble friend had explained that the Bill was, perhaps, faulty in one respect, which was, that it would not apply to Ireland. As there was in that country abundant room for improvement, it was the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to employ the people in effecting the most practicable improvements within the country itself. The plan of his noble friend had been misunderstood by the right hon. Baronet opposite. It was not intended to have highly-paid Commissioners to carry the provisions of the Bill into effect. It had also been objected, that the granting of lands to emigrants was injudicious, and had produced ill effects. But the objection did not apply to the measure of his noble friend, whose object was, to supply the colonies with the labour in which they were at present deficient. The hon. member for St. Alban's, had asked how the emigrants were to be located in the colonies? Now, the object of this Bill was not to locate the emigrants at all. Its object was to increase the supply of labour in the colonies, where it was too small, and to diminish it in Great Britain, where it was too large. The hon. member for St. Alban's had exaggerated very grossly the expense which this system of emigration would create. First of all, that expense would not be permanent, as the hon. Member had represented; on the contrary, it would not continue for more than three years: and in the next place, it would fall very short of the amount at which the hon. Member had calculated it. The immediate expense would be no more than the amount of three years' support of the poor by the parish. Unless the pressure of the Poor-laws were relieved, he did not see how it was possible to improve the administration of them. But when the parishes should be placed in the same situation as under the original institution of those laws, they would be able to administer them according to' their original principles. Having given his attention to the Bill of his noble friend, he had, upon the fullest consideration, resolved to support it.
§ Sir George Murray
was understood to explain, that he had alluded, not to the Commissioners to be appointed under the 885 Bill of the noble Lord opposite, but to those that were contemplated by a plan which was in agitation before he came into office. He had spoken of the granting of lands, because he knew that no man went out to Canada, without a contemplation of the future raising of himself to the condition of a landed proprietor. He believed the noble Lord would find that that feeling prevailed amongst those who became emigrants under his Bill.
§ Mr. Sadler
said, that he rose to oppose the Motion of the noble Lord under feelings which it was difficult to express, and yet impossible for him to restrain. Doing all possible justice to the motives of the noble Lord who brought the measure forward, as well as to those of other hon. Members who might feel inclined to yield him their sup- port, still he could not refrain from expressing his opinion in the strongest manner as to the nature and effect of the proposed Bill. It was a measure which was little calculated to afford relief to those classes of the population to which it was intended to be applied, while it threatened them with still deeper evils than any they now endured. It proceeded upon a principle which was at once derogatory to the character of the House, and insulting to the feelings of the country. In its operation, as explained by the noble Lord, it would forestal those parochial revenues which ought to be devoted to other and far better purposes, and transfer, for objects as little reconcilable with the interests as the feelings of the people, the evils of a national debt into the local districts of the country. But above all, he objected to the measure as supplanting, or at all events postponing, those more enlarged and effective measures of relief which might, and in these days of humanity and benevolence assuredly would, be made in behalf of a suffering people— measures long dictated by wisdom and philanthropy, demanding no sacrifice but what the House and the country would be eager, he trusted, to make, and involving no expense but what would be repaid a hundred fold, in the increasing plenty and prosperity of the people—measures as obvious in their nature as certain in their effect, to the consideration of which he hoped ere long, to call the attention of the House and the country. As to the measure before the House, whether he regarded its principle, or its tendency and effects, no language he had at command could sufficiently express his repugnance to it. He 886 begged, however, to assure the noble Lord, that his opposition to his Bill rose far above all party or political considerations, and he could aver, that had that or a similar Bill been introduced by the nearest friend he had in that House or the country, his opposition to it. would have been equally decided and uncompromising. In proceeding to state as shortly as possible his objections to the proposition before the House, he could not refrain from calling its attention to the real condition of the country, as recognised and declared by the very nature and intent of the measure. Notwithstanding the declarations to the contrary, and the many documentary proofs appealed to by Ministers from time to time, in proof of the prosperity of the country, this proposition at once opened the eyes of the House and of the country to their real condition. Scarcely had the echoes to the cheers with which the declarations of his Majesty's Ministers were received, when they stated the steady and progressive increase of the prosperity of the country, died away, ere one of that Government comes down to Parliament with a proposition at once falsifying all these flattering statements, and proclaiming, still more forcibly than mere language could do, the condition of a vast mass of the community to be so deplorable, that nothing less than the strong and revolting remedy of expelling a large number of the most industrious classes of the community could mitigate the sufferings of the rest. Could any thing prove more fully the false and erroneous principles which had unhappily dictated the policy of this great country than this proposition? could any thing contradict more effectually those glowing hopes and prospects which had been held out to the people by those visionary theorists who had so rashly changed and reversed the principles on which the nation had been heretofore governed, and by which it had been conducted to that state of happiness and prosperity which it had till of late enjoyed, while it continued to regard its people as its true riches—not the signs merely, nor yet the instruments, but the very elements of its prosperity; instead of regarding them, as at present, as so many individual causes of national misery? And who were they, asked the hon. Member, that were thus to be condemned as superfluous, and sent from their native country as so many public nuisances? Certainly not the decrepit and the impotent; the 887 sickly and the infirm; the infant orphan, or the aged and feeble poor; that proposition humanity could not endure for a moment. No. It was the active, the young, the enterprising, the industrious, who were to be sacrificed to this scheme; those whose labour had created the capital of the country, whose courage had defended it, and to whom she must look as the chief sources of future prosperity—those whom England could never spare, and least of all at the present period. But the noble Lord rested his scheme on the presumed redundancy of the people. Hut how was this redundancy to be measured? Not by the standard which could alone justify that House in coming to so appalling a conclusion; not in reference to the means of profitable employment and unfailing plenty which a kind, he might indeed almost say partial, Providence had placed within their reach. The noble Lord, indeed, had adverted, as he understood him, to some 23,000,000 of acres of land in Canada, to which the people of this country might be transported. Was he aware that far above that quantity, above 30,000,000 were at present unimproved in these islands, half of which at least was stated to be fully capable of cultivation? He had seen mentioned in the emigration reports the average crops of corn which were produced by the emigrants of Canada, which fell very far short of those which the poorest soils in this kingdom, capable of tillage, would produce. If they had, therefore, to resort to colonization, why not establish home colonies — a scheme far less expensive, more practicable, and infinitely more patriotic than that of the noble Lord; one which would give employment to the idle, and bread to the distressed people of the country; which would, without indeed extending the surface, augment the strength and increase the wealth of the country; which would add to its dominion, not the conquests of the sword and spear, but the happier triumphs of the plough-share and the pruning-hook; affording not only relief to the distressed, without the sacrifice of their country, but invigorating in turn every branch of internal industry, and giving increased activity and stability to the whole. But even to this plan he had, as a measure of general relief, considerable objections, believing, as he did, that more natural and efficacious remedies were at hand; but if the nation must colonize, and if Parliament was to sanction the expenditure of public 888 money for that purpose, he would confidently assert, that the best colonies we could plant, either with a view to the present or permanent advantages of the country, were those that might be planted on the deserts of our European empire. He meant nothing offensive to the noble Lord personally, but he must venture to assert, that his, and all similar propositions, when brought forward as measures of national relief, argued an utter ignorance of the nature and necessities of human society. They insulted the feelings and contradicted the experience of mankind. Where was it that the evil complained of was felt most severely? Where, but in those parts of the world which were the, most sparingly peopled, and where, not with standing the prolificness of nature, the savage inhabitants resorted to the most unnatural means of repressing their increase, avowing at once a motive similar to that now urged upon the House—the necessity of diminishing their superfluous numbers? When had it been, that civilized nations had seen most clearly the same redundancy? Why, when their numbers were wholly insufficient to possess, much less cultivate, the soil they occupied. As to England, it would require little research into its history to assure us, that it was when the inhabitants had been the fewest these degrading fears had been the most predominant and operative. They infected even these who might have been thought superior to such a delusion. Thus, to go no further back, than a time when England did not perhaps number a third of its present inhabitants, Sir Thomas More entertained so great an alarm at the increase of the people, that he anticipated that they would speedily multiply to the devouring of one another. So prevalent was that dread, that we find one of the last of the old chroniclers, Holling shed, records the opinion as a matter of history, which, however, he reproved in terms of such marked indignation that he would not venture to quote them in that House. He would not multiply proofs of the prevalence of this perverse and pernicious notion, but only add, that it was reserved for the greatest philosopher, whether political or natural, that ever illuminated mankind, the glory at once of his country and of mankind—it was reserved for Bacon, in his place in that House, to refute the absurd and insulting notion; and to point at 889 those manifest badges and tokens which he averred the country exhibited, and which it still exhibits, of a paucity rather than a plethory of numbers: and, adverting to the vast, and indeed inexhaustible means which this country possessed within itself, he boldly declared, that the nation would never be over-peopled, and recognizing, as he did, its population as not the signs or the instruments merely, but as the very elements of all prosperity, that any increase in its people would be the augmentation of its wealth, and the consolidation of its power and greatness. But, why need we advert to past times in disproof of the notion to which the sanction of this House is now sought to be obtained? Near our shores, and indeed almost close upon them, lie the provinces of Flanders, thrice as densely peopled as was this Island; in a part of which, indeed, there are nearly 700 inhabitants on the square mile! And yet, in those districts, originally sterile in point of soil, and brought to their present unrivalled state of fertility by those means which would produce the same effects in our own country, an immense population, not merely subsisted their inhabitants, but afforded a surplus of at least one-third of their agricultural products for exportation, and, by a method which this country might adopt to the equal advantage of every class among us, produced a greater measure of individual comfort, especially to the agricultural labourers, than was enjoyed in any of the less densely peopled countries of Europe. He would refer to the Report of the Secretary of the Irish Society of Agriculture, who had been deputed to visit those parts by that institution, in proof of what he had asserted, who described the condition of the Flemish peasantry, notwithstanding their heavy rates, and the load of taxation under which they laboured, as eminently prosperous. But, without referring to other countries, the population of this country was not redundant, no, nor yet its rural population, mismanaged and oppressed as it had unquestionably been. It was true that such was the common opinion, and one which prevailed the more, inasmuch as it furnished a ready apology for a long course of neglect, and afforded an excuse for that pernicious system first suggested by political economy and still recommended by its heartless code. Taking even the Reports of this House, especially that on agricultural labour, there was no redun- 890 dancy, though the framers of that Report had come to that complacent conclusion, which, as he had said, was the ready excuse for leaving unapplied those remedies for evils too apparent to be denied, and which, he contended, were easy to be redressed. The first witness examined by that Committee, and one who, from his intimate knowledge of what is called the market of labour throughout the country, was well entitled to that preference, he meant Mr. M'Adam, when asked as to the supply of labour in the agricultural districts, replied, that in the summer and harvest months he found labour extremely scarce, though in the winter ones it was very plentiful. He quoted from memory, and should no doubt be corrected if he erred in this statement. And this was the real state of the case. Not only was the labour of the whole rural population demanded in the busy season of the year, but without a vast accession of migrating labour from Ireland, the fields of England could not be reaped, nor its harvest gathered in, especially in those districts which might justly be denominated its granaries. It was no proof, then, of the redundancy of agricultural labourers, to show that they are partially unemployed in winter. It was a proof, and a melancholy one indeed, that their winter employment had been greatly interfered with, and themselves, therefore, doomed, in that comparatively inactive season of the year, to involuntary idleness; it was an argument for a return to a better system, none for expelling the victims of so absurd a policy from their native country. And though the noble Lord should be able to carry his measure, which he devoutly hoped he would not, still, when he had been the means of decimating the people, he would find the same inequality in the demand for labour, which he sought to remedy by this absurd proposition, and which would remain as to agricultural labour, except he could reverse the order of the seasons, and change the course of nature itself. While, then, it was admitted on all hands that labour was not redundant in the summer months, he contended that employment might be found in the winter season of the year, and by means involving infinitely less expense, and involving none of the evils which the present proposition would inevitably occasion. Employment might be, created, and its remuneration secured, without thus 891 tearing asunder the closest ties of nature, and for ever dissolving those connexions in the preservation of which human beings found their dearest enjoyments. But that proposition, like most of those of the economists, required the surrender of the best feelings of the heart, and trampled on the dearest rights of human beings; not only a fresh system of policy, but a new code of morality was to be established. The best principles of nature were to be disregarded, and the loftiest feeling of civilized man, patriotism, was to be obliterated. [Cries of no! no!] He said yes! yes!—If this measure passed, the Parliament of England would become the pander of i political economy, and teach the people that the love of their country was not worth cherishing, and that it would be the greatest blessing that could befall them to leave it for ever. Those who were either expelled by unrelieved misery, or induced by these various incentives to leave their country, would quit it without regret, and would soon learn to regard it with just aversion. The hon. Member here referred to several statements as to the cruelty which would result from this scheme if carried into effect in the large and extensive plan proposed; especially to those relating to Canada and Algoa Bay, and said that that man must know little of the history of colonization who did not know that misery was inseparable from it when thus conducted. He did not wish to be misunderstood. He would not wish to throw impediments in the way of voluntary emigration. All the accounts which had been received in this country from emigrants, left no doubt on the minds of those whom they reached, that the distress was greater abroad than at home, and that they would have been infinitely better off if they had never left the land of their nativity. It had been said by some hon. Members, that the West-India interest, was at the present moment suffering under the pressure of distress. Now, if relief from the effects of superabundance of labour here, was to be found from emigration, and the same cause operated in the West Indies, then according to that argument, the best course for the West-India planters would be, to send off some of their people to Africa. It was really no longer to be endured, that those who took a part in the discussions of the Legislature, should continue to lead mankind as if they were 892 nothing better than beasts of burthen. Political arithmeticians had, as it were, by a negative series, made out men to be worse than nothing, and contended that it would be a great political object to get rid of them. In making these few remarks, he hoped that no hon. Gentleman would suppose he wished to deny to others the same freedom of observation upon what might come from him. There was not one of his plans which he was not willing to submit to as rigid a scrutiny as that to which he sought to expose the plans of those around him. There could not be the slightest doubt, that the condition of the labouring classes was rapidly deteriorating, and the means of providing them profitable employment were rapidly passing away. How could it be otherwise, when of set purpose many of the acts passed in that House were directed to that object alone; he did not mean to say intentionally, but the effect was as complete and perfect as if the insidious design had been at all times present in the minds of the Legislature. Those remarks were not thrown out at random, nor without careful and anxious attention to the subject under consideration; and though he confined himself to the brief and cursory remarks he then offered, yet he had fully resolved to take an early opportunity of formally bringing under the consideration of the House a motion declaratory of his views, and containing a practical plan for the relief of the people. To the plan of the noble Lord opposite, he could certainly not give his support, for he thought it certain to lead to expense, calculated to wound the feelings of the people, and likely altogether to defeat the objects which the House had in view.
§ Mr. F. Baring
had seldom seen any subject that had been brought before the House more unfairly treated than the one which was now under consideration had been by the hon. member for Newark. Plans for the employment of the superabundant population had been for some time pouring in from all quarters; some suggested their employment in draining the Irish bogs; others that the waste lands should be taken into cultivation; and from another quarter, a suggestion had been made for taking the unemployed people down to Dartmoor, and teaching them to rear chickens.— He would only say, with reference to these plans, that he objected strongly to the unnatural impetus that was 893 given to labour and capital in the cultivation of waste lands, which could never repay the expense that was incurred on them.—But there was one plan which had been mentioned by a right hon. Member, amongst others that were proposed for the adoption of the House, than which a more dangerous suggestion was never offered to the consideration of the House: it was that for giving each labourer a small portion of laud for his own cultivation. Such a project, if carried into execution, would increase to a much greater degree than had ever hitherto been the case, those evils and mischiefs which it was intended to check, and which were now so bitterly complained of; and it would reproduce in England all those miseries that had resulted from the adoption of that system in Ireland: it would cause this country, in a short time, to experience, not only all the evils that had accrued from it in Ireland, but it would entail them on our successors to a degree that at some future, not far distant period, the wretched Irish peasantry, who were now driven by its results to seek employment and food in this country, would absolutely be deterred from visiting the shores of England, because they would see there a share of misery and desperation, which equalled, if it did not exceed, their own. He denied altogether that there was any cruelty intended towards the poor by the plan before the House, and he was convinced that if it were to be carried into execution, it would lead to permanently beneficial results.
observed, that the real question for the consideration of the House was, not whether a systematic course of colonization would be beneficial to the colonies, but whether the mother-country would derive any advantage from its adoption. It was obvious to all, that if the population of this country were compared with the quantity of land, the former would be found to be much too great. Taking, therefore, the most moderate census, the annual increase in the population did not amount to less than 200,000 souls, and would those who supported the plan now before the House propose that 200,000 souls should emigrate yearly from this country? The very utmost extent of emigration to the Canadas at present was only to the number of 24,000 annually, without taking into the account those who emigrated to Australasia; and, unless the country were at once prepared to sup- 894 port the annual emigration of the annual increase of population, all such bills as those of the noble Lord must fail in producing the effects anticipated. Where was the capital to come from? If the noble Lord could show that emigration could be carried on without capital, he was in possession of a most important secret; but, according to his arguments, and those of the noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was necessary that the emigrants should be provided with one or two years' subsistence whilst they were looking about them, and all this while the population at home was not remaining at a stand, but was regularly increasing, whilst that capital which ought to be reserved for their benefit was reduced, until at length it would be found, that all that was secured was an increase of the misery of the labouring classes, rather than any amelioration of their condition. The question, therefore, for the consideration of the House was, if the country could not, as he had shown it was not possible to do, support an emigration to the extent required, by what means could the present superabundance of labourers, who had no employment, be supported? He knew of none but the removal of all those restrictions that now impeded the application of capital to land, and prevented, in a great variety of ways the free exercise of profitable industry. Of all the suggestions that came under his notice likely to be immediately beneficial none was to be compared with that which proposed the commutation of tithes. Was there any person, being rightly acquainted with the pernicious effect that the present system of tithe-rating had upon agriculture, by preventing the application of capital to the purposes of agriculture, and thus disabling the farmer from putting his land in the highest state of cultivation, and, consequently, from getting the utmost produce from it, who did not at once perceive, that the present evil could be remedied only by a commutation of the tithes? and when the present evil was remedied, the increased impetus which agriculture would instantly receive and which manufactures and trade would subsequently acquire, would be sufficient to stave off immediate distress, and provide, he hoped, for a continually increasing population. He was not an enemy to emigration, but he believed that applying capital to land at home, and raising up a large number of people to 895 bear the burthen, of our taxation, would be the best means of providing permanent relief.
§ Mr. A. Baring
thought, that the future welfare of this country, and of her labouring population, depended upon the solution of the question of emigration. The subject before the House was a question as to the possibility of affording relief by emigration, and the House could not be too careful, in its endeavours to alter the present state of distress, that they did not adopt the visionary schemes of theorists. He hoped, indeed he was convinced, the House felt the necessity of attending to the subject now before them, which was of the most intense importance. He had listened to the hon. member for Newark with admiration on account of his talents, and also of the earnestness with which he had argued, but, upon his soul, he wished that hon. Member had not, like the hon. member for St. Alban's (Mr. Tennant) sat down before he had divulged the plan which he had in contemplation for the relief of the distress. He was sure it would not have occupied the hon. Member five minutes, and that five minutes would have been well employed in letting them all into the secret. He was sorry, however, to say, that the hon. Member had indulged only in declamation against the measure, whilst the hon. member for Bridport had confined himself strictly to an examination of the dry details of the question before them. There never was, in his opinion, a period since the war, or rather, since the struggle that had occurred about the currency, during which this country had experienced so much prosperity in her commercial interests as was now her lot. This was generally acknowledged to be the case at present, and the great difficulty the country had to contend with was, the superabundance of labour. The hon. member for Newark had denied that there was a superabundance; but he would put one simple question to him, and that was, whether the farmers did not complain that they had no means of employing their agricultural labourers, and that, after putting them on the roads to break stones, and other inadequate occupations, they had not been obliged to shut them up to dig in a gravel-pit, for lack of means to employ them otherwise? People might talk of the inhumanity of shutting up people on board a ship, and sending them abroad; but he 896 would ask, was not that a more considerate course which enabled them to get their livelihood in an independent and improving condition, than condemning them to such an occupation as he had pointed out? The only real remedy, therefore, was, to see if it were not possible to give a real value to the labour of the poor man. He had heard complaints and objections made, that the Canadas were an unhealthy colony, but he would defy any one to prove it. He knew them from a personal residence there of years, and he had not found them so. The country was very healthy, as much so as England, though there were unhealthy spots, as well as in some parts of England—the fens and marshes of Essex, for example. He considered it much better to aid emigration than for those who were disposed to relieve the distresses of the labouring classes to contribute to wards its alleviation in the shape of charitable donations. The hon. member for Newark had talked about 30,000,000 of acres in Great Britain that might be brought into cultivation by the employment of agricultural labourers, but he should like to know where those 30,000,000 acres of land were situated. Something had been said of the sterile lands of Canada, but he would take upon himself to say, that there was no finer land in any country than that in Canada. It was stated, in a Report which had been laid before the House, that land produced thirty-five bushels of wheat to the acre which had been under wheat crops from ten to fifteen years, and in which the stumps of the forest still remained. It was said, that the poor should be left to emigrate if they thought fit. The answer to that objection was, that the poor, if left to themselves, could not emigrate. They had not the means to go across the Atlantic, however anxious they might be to escape from pauperism here to wealth and independence in America. All that was wanted was a bill to facilitate emigration. As to parishes, the difficulty was to get the minority to agree with the majority; but that subject would come under examination when the Bill was brought forward. Great relief would be afforded to the landowner, by emigration, though more to the labourer; but yet the landowner, instead of having to pay the poor-rates annually, would have to advance a sum to enable the labourer to emigrate. In every parish there were 897 obstinate people, who took up strange notions, like the hon. member for Newark; and it was necessary that those persons who talked of emigration as contrary to humanity and Christianity, and what not, should be compelled to enter into the views of the majority of the parishioners, and pay their proportion of the expense. The hon. member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton) objected to the principle of emigration as a relief for the existing distress, because, he observed, that it could not be carried far enough to take off the whole of the surplus population, and that, if any redundancy was left, there would be no cure for the evil. He admitted the force of that argument, at the same time that he knew several parishes which had relieved themselves from poor-rates by adopting the system proposed, and enabling those to emigrate who were willing and anxious to do so. The way in which the thing was done was this—the leading persons in the parish called the people together, explained to them the benefits which would arise from the emigration of a certain portion of them, and gave them the option of going out if they liked to do so. There was no coercion used, the offer was accepted by several, and the most beneficial results followed from such emigration. The evil of a redundant population was not general; it was confined to a few parishes throughout the country. It was extraordinary, however, how a small excess of labourers lowered the rate of wages; and therefore he agreed with the hon. member for Bridport, that, unless they could so the whole length of removing the redundant population of labourers, they would not remove the evil. The county of Sussex was in the worst condition, with respect to its agricultural population, of any county in England. The population of that county was 230,000. The male population between fifteen and fifty, which were the ages of serious labour, and the ages for emigration, he estimated at 50,000. Now, if the inhabitants of Brighton and other large towns were deducted, and the number of artisans who were fairly employed and remunerated, he was satisfied that the number of agricultural labourers in the county of Sussex did not exceed 25,000. Of that number he did not suppose —though of course it was only conjecture—that one-fourth was superabundant. He took it that one-fourth of the 898 whole number of agricultural labourers, or 6,250, was the greatest number that the county of Sussex could spare. During the war recruiting was found sufficient to keep down the redundant population, and during that period no complaints were made of a superabundant population. Taking the estimate of 6,250 as the number of the superabundant population in the worst counties, North America took away every year the surplus population of ten such counties. In Dorsetshire he estimated the surplus population of labourers at 4,250, and he thought the other counties would not afford a larger population. He had stated these facts, to show that it was not so entirely impossible as some persons supposed, to get rid of the surplus population. At all events, it was important to look carefully whether the relief which was held forth by this measure could be effected. For his own part, under all the circumstances, he was inclined to hope that the Bill would work well.
said, that though he differed from the hon. member for Newark on this subject, he would treat that hon. Gentleman's opinions with all the respect which they deserved, from the sincerity and energy with which they were brought forward. He believed that the Bill about to be introduced would be a means of alleviating the evils complained of, at least in some respects. The hon. member for Newark denied that there was a redundant population. Now, the question was not whether a superabundant population existed throughout the kingdom, but whether a surplus population did not exist in particular places; or, in other words, that in those places there were a number of labourers who could not find employment at adequate wages? All the reports proved that there was a surplus population in the southern counties. The valuable report on local taxation further proved, that in the county of Sussex, the local taxation was 6s. 6d. in the pound sterling on the rack-rent, whilst in Northumberland the rate was only 1s. 9½d. in the pound. The wages of the labourer in Northumberland, however, was double the amount received by the labourer in Sussex, and he was proportionably comfortable and contented. Part of this difference was, of course, owing to the redundancy of population in the southern part of the kingdom, for where 180 labourers only 899 were wanted, there were 200 to supply that want, while in the north there were only 180 to supply the 180 that were wanted. Part of the difference between the condition of the labourers in Sussex and in Northumberland, however, arose from the different administration of the poor-laws, from the system which prevailed in the former county of paying wages out of the rates, and making a distinction between the married labourer and the single labourer, to the disadvantage of the latter, and the encouragement of improvident marriages. He was not prepared to say, that the evil was general throughout the country. He believed it was prevented from increasing, by the fair play given to manufactures. He agreed with the hon. member for Bridport, that every thing which was possible ought to be done to let loose capital, and direct it to agricultural pursuits. This might be done, not by granting bounties, but by removing unnatural impediments. He believed a great impulse would be given to agricultural improvement by a general enclosure bill. A general enclosure Act had been called for, and he could not conceive why it had not been passed. If the smallest enclosure was to be effected under the present system, it could not be done without an expense of 700l. to procure an Act. A general Highway Act would also give great facilities for improvement, and he rejoiced that his hon. friend, the member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Portman) had such a measure in contemplation. He was confident also, that the encouragement, of spade husbandry would prove extremely beneficial to the agricultural labourer. Yet, with all these means of improvement, connected with home, he was convinced that the Bill of the noble Lord would be very advantageous, as it would give those who now had scanty wages an opportunity of going where wages were higher; and, from peasants working the land of others, those who emigrated had a fair prospect of becoming landowners themselves. He could not sit down without observing, that no one should stigmatise an attempt to encourage voluntary emigration as "cruel," and he regretted that the hon. member for Newark (Mr. Sadler) had used that expression.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
did not rise to oppose the Motion, though he doubted whether the proposed plan could afford 900 any considerable relief. The population of this country was increasing at the rate of 500 persons every week, and it was quite impossible that emigration could be carried to an extent which would afford any effectual relief. He agreed with the hon. member for Bridport, that though the Bill was not compulsory, it gave too great a premium on emigration, and, in that manner, forced it, as hothouse plants were said to be forced. The estimated expense of emigration for a man, his wife, and two children, was 66l. If the public paid that expense, it paid a premium to that amount on emigration; and the proposal was nothing less than to mortgage the estate of every freeholder, according to the number of emigrants sent from his parish. The fanners would take care to throw the whole of the burthen on the landowners, and for this reason he objected to the proposed plan. It was easy to say, that the expense should be spread over ten years; but, after all, it must be paid, and the question was, who should pay it? and the end of it would be, that there would be a charge on the freehold for the sake of producing temporary ease. The only way to get rid of this was, to take the question up as a national measure, and lo relieve the distresses of some places by a general tax on the whole country. The noble Lord (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had admitted, that whatever vacuum should be made by this measure, it would soon be filled up. Then, if this was the case, why was not the question to be met boldly by the introduction of a bill at once to distribute the expense over the whole country? He had no objection to facilitate emigration, but he was not disposed to encourage it. As to the money advanced being repaid, he was confident that the thousandth part of a shilling would never be repaid. He was not disposed to throw any impediment in the way; but the subject appeared to be so clogged with difficulties, that he anticipated very little benefit, and should oppose the Bill ultimately, if it contained the objectionable details he had referred to.
§ Mr. Benett
denied, that there was a superabundance of population, but there was want, of money in the pockets of those who usually employed agricultural labourers. He did not anticipate much good from emigration, but he thought great benefit would be effected by a commu- 901 tation of tithes, which acted as a prohibition on the investment of capital in waste lands. Every man who expended 20l. in improving land, gave one-fourth, or 5l. to the Church. Another obstruction to the improvement of land was, the taxes on productive industry; and if tithes were commuted, and the tuxes on productive industry repealed, he would venture to say, there would be no complaint of superabundant population. If the noble Lord could bring in a bill to improve the condition of the labouring poor as emigrants, it would be well to do so; but no effectual measure of relief could be afforded without a commutation of tithes and a reduction of taxes, and, perhaps, the imposition of a tax on funded property. If that was done, they would find, in the course of a few years, that there were not too many labourers in England.
§ Mr. W. Whitmore
thought, that the redundancy of population was only partial, and would be much relieved by the measure proposed by the noble Lord, as he considered it to be in a great degree created by the mal-administration of the Poor-laws. He trusted hon. Members would not run away with the notion, that because the Poor-laws were to be mortgaged for a period of ten years, that therefore there should be a new national debt, since the consent of two-thirds of the landholders of a parish was necessary to this arrangement, and it was clear they would not agree to anything which was obviously against their own interest. Tie approved of the plan of paying, not only the interest from year to year, but providing a sinking fund for the liquidation of the debt in ten years.. If he believed, that there was a redundancy of population in the country generally, he should despair of any effectual relief under the present Bill. But, as he believed that the redundancy was partial—that it applied only to a few of the southern districts, he thought the Bill might do much good. He trusted that Gentlemen would not be frightened by the idea that the poor-rates were to be mortgaged, but would consider the advantages presented to the occupiers of land from a plan such as the noble Lord had described, and among them he was disposed to include the improvement of the Poor-laws themselves; for he felt convinced that they could not be ameliorated till some such measure as that now proposed was introduced.
§ Mr. Hunt
had listened with the greatest attention to the debate. The question was of the last importance, but it was one which he had never expected to have heard discussed in that House. He was one who, out of that House, had always treated the subject with derision, not to say disgust; but since he had heard the discussion in that House, he felt that it was one of the greatest importance which could be taken into consideration. His impression was, that with the single exception of the hon. member for Wiltshire all those who had entered into the discussion were mere theorists. The hon. Member for Wiltshire was a practical man, and he had truly stated, that there was no redundancy of population. The great cause of the distress was want of capital. Let them, as the hon. member for Wiltshire contended, take off the taxes, and commute the tithes, and in that way relieve the country. Such was the advice which the hon. Member had given to the House. But he (Mr. Hunt) had given the same advice to the hon. Gentleman fifteen years ago. It was now so late in the day, that he believed nothing would give satisfaction but the complete abolition of the tithe-system. The time for commuting the tithes was gone by. He grieved that such a Motion should have been brought forward by the Government. As for home colonization, he disapproved of it, as he did of foreign. Hon. Gentlemen talked of colonizing Hounslow-heath and Dartmoor-forest. They might as well talk of colonizing the top of St. Paul's. There was good land enough in cultivation, if there was any remunerating price for the produce. He was not such a Goth or Vandal as to condemn the use of improved machinery, but he knew well that where thrashing machines had been destroyed, in those parishes the farmers had not a sufficient number of men to thrash out the corn to supply the market, though prior to the destruction of the machines, there had been a surplus population. The scheme of the noble Lord was one of the most preposterous he had ever heard of. Mortgage the poor-rates! In God's name, did not the noble Lord know what state the Poor-laws were in? Why they were not worth three years' purchase. The hon. member for Callington had said, that the surplus population existed only in the southern counties, and that it was only 903 in these counties that the poor were driven by low prices to commit acts of insubordination. Was the House to be told that this existed only in the southern counties? Why, it existed in the manufacturing districts, and even in the metropolis itself. He had been informed, in the lobby of that House, by the overseer of St. Leonard's, of the distressed state of the poor in that parish, and he knew that in Birmingham the poor were employed to wheel heavy barrows of sand up hill, making a distance of eighteen miles, for one shilling. This arose from the excess of taxation. In Essex, the hon. Member for that county had stated, that some of the best lands were not half cultivated. In such a state of things, were they to relieve the poor by such a measure as that now proposed to the House by the noble Lord? The expense of the plan would fall ultimately upon the landholders. In short, it was, upon many grounds, so objectionable, that if nobody else would, he should feel it his duty to divide the House upon it again and again. Though those who took the part which he did, had once been decried, and the terms of "swinish multitude" and similar words of reproach, had been cast upon them, he was happy at length to see a growing disposition to listen to the poor, at least when taxes were to be levied; but when petitions were presented, it was quite the reverse. He knew this to be the fact. He had been down to the House for a week to present petitions, without finding an opportunity, and the time allotted to their reception was not sufficient. The rent of land had been raised three-fold, and yet the rate of wages had not been raised in proportion, and it was the first duty of the House to prevent labourers being paid out of the poor-rates. If the noble Lord's scheme took effect, farmers would not let their best men emigrate, and none would go but paupers and the worst parts of the population. Recently, 150 persons had been sent out from one parish to New York, but there they would not let them land. They had been obliged to put again to sea, and had never been heard of more. He believed that the noble Lord's plan would lead to a great deal of emigration of this description.
§ Mr. Hodges
wished to address the House upon the subject, but in consideration of the lateness of the hour, he postponed his observations to another opportunity.
§ Mr. Brownlow
expressed his gratitude to the Government for having brought forward this measure. He was surprised that any one could doubt the existence of distress, when they had all heard from the hon. member for Mayo, on presenting a petition, that the poor of that county were in a state of starvation. Unhappily, the same might be said of other parts of Ireland. Upon the whole it was quite clear that there was a redundancy of labourers, both here and in Ireland—notas compared with the surface of the land, but as compared with the demand in the market. He hoped that the Bill would be extended to Ireland, as he expected that great relief would result from its operation. Otherwise, the poor of that country would flock into England, and no benefit would result from the measure, except to them.
§ Mr. Briscoe
rose amidst loud cries of "Question." He observed, that this was a subject of deep importance and difficulty, and he entreated the attention of the House while he made a few observations upon it [The Members manifested the greatest disinclination at the continuance of the debate, and many of them coughed loudly]. The hon. Member observed, that Gentlemen who had coughs had really better stay away altogether. Want of employment was the evil the people suffered from, and the Government must devote its attention to finding them the means of employment. There must be a commutation of tithes, which now pressed heavily on the people; but he did not wish to see any spoliation of the property of the Clergy. Something, however, must he done for the people. He wished to say a few words upon the plan of emigration proposed by the Noble Lord [coughing]. He reminded the House, that the question of emigration depended wholly upon its details [renewed coughing.]. He advised the hon. Members, if they wished to save their time, to let him proceed without interruption, for no consideration should induce him to sit clown till he had been heard with respectful and patient attention. [laughter]. If this course was persevered in, he should move the adjournment. He could not, consistently with the opinions he now held as to the great amount of the burthens of the people, consent that the rates of parishes in this country should be subject to mortgage for the purpose now proposed. Without resorting to such means 905 of assisting emigration, he thought aid might be afforded to the settlers in another way; and the money thus advanced might be paid back, principal and interest, within a certain time. He should give his best attention to the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, and, if possible, his support to its principle.
§ Lord Howick
said, that in making a few observations in reply, he could not avoid remarking upon an expression that had fallen from the hon. member for Preston, who had told the House, that they did not care for the people, but treated their petitions with indifference. He wished to know, who cared most for the people of England —the hon. member for Preston, who would not burthen his estate to remove the emigrants, or the Members of that House, who were willing, at their own expense—though they knew they should burthen their estates by it—to impose on themselves that burthen, in order to remove the poor of the country from a place where they were suffering from the pressure of want, to another where they would be able to support themselves in comfort; and, at the end of a short time, to become land-owners? Hon. Members said, "we will advance our money for such a purpose; "but the hon. member for Preston said, "No; I will not burthen my estate for these people; they may starve, die, rot—I will do nothing for them" ["no!" from Mr. Hunt]. He wished to notice one or two mistakes that hon. Members had fallen into. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke from the floor, (Sir E. Sugden) talked of repayment; but there were objections of the strongest nature to demanding repayment from the emigrants themselves. The parish ought to pay the money the public advances. Several hon. members objected strongly to what they called mortgaging the poor-rates; but, as the Bill stood, it provided that the parish should repay principal and interest at the end of ten years; but, if that were thought too long, he had no objection to reduce it to five years. With respect to what had been said upon its offering a bounty to emigration, it must be observed, that parishes would not enter into the plan further than might be conducive to their own interest, which would be a sufficient check to this bounty. An hon. Gentleman opposite thought it well to facilitate, but not to assist emigration, but that would have the effect of increasing instead of diminishing the evil com- 906 plained of. If a parish did not assist an individual willing to emigrate, but not having the means to do so, emigration would be confined to small capitalists unable to bear the pressure of the poor-rates, and the paupers, the real burthens of the country, would remain behind. The right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Murray) stated, that this measure, made him regret the change about to take place in the timber duty. He seemed to suppose that the cutting of timber would give a better means of support to the emigrant than any other. It was, however, one of the great benefits of the alteration of the duty, that it would tend to divert the exertions of the settlers from a most vicious direction. It was stated in the Reports already referred to, that what is called "lumbering," was never a profitable occupation to the settler; and Mr. Richards observed, on going through a village less prosperous in its appearance than others, that" it was evidently too much given to lumbering." He stated, that "timber-cutting was generally a ruinous game for the emigrant; and, at the end of some time, he was reduced to a worse situation than when he first landed —that his morals were injured, his habits debased, his credit lost, and his character ruined." In another place, speaking of the prosperous condition of a settlement of Welsh families, he said, "it was very problematical whether they would have flourished in the neighbourhood of much fine timber to seduce them from their proper occupation."
§ Mr. Goulburn
said, that one particular class of timber referred to, could only be cut under a license; and persons cutting without a license, contravened the laws, and lived like smugglers; and it was the smuggling, and the habits consequent thereon, which produced demoralization.
§ Lord Howick
repeated, that timber-cutting prevented the prosperity of a settlement, by distracting the settlers from their other avocations on their own land.
wished to inform the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that it was the universal complaint of every land-owner in Canada, that timber-cutting, whether under a license or not, distracted the attention of settlers from the pursuits by which they must ultimately get their living.
§ Motion agreed to.