HC Deb 06 July 1831 vol 4 cc801-2

Mr. James Browne, seeing the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, in his place, took that opportunity of putting to him a question, connected with the melancholy and appalling distress which prevailed in some districts of Mayo and Galway, in Ireland. In doing so, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman, that he was perfectly sensible that that right hon. Gentleman was as much alive to the miseries of those persons to whom he referred as any other person could be, and that the right hon. Gentleman was also most anxious to alleviate their lamentable misfortunes by every means in his power. But, he was induced to ask the question, for the purpose of removing an erroneous impression that appeared to have gone abroad in consequence of speeches which had been made in that House by the right hon. Gentleman, as well as the right hon. Baronet, the First Lord of the Admiralty. Since those speeches were delivered, the private subscriptions by which they had hitherto endeavoured to meet the great exigencies of the distress, had greatly decreased, and in many places altogether ceased; 'and this particularly in consequence of his Majesty's Government having sent to the distressed districts an agent supposed to be charged with means to take under his protection those who had been suffering. He had been instructed to say, however, that the Gentleman sent on that mission had not hitherto done anything in the way of alleviating the sufferings of the peasantry; and therefore they were now in a most forlorn and destitute state. He was also induced to ask this question in consequence of a melancholy and fatal collision which had within these few days unfortunately taken place between the famishing people and the King's troops, in consequence of the former being driven to despair by hunger, and the dread of actual starvation. The question he put to the right hon. Gentleman was, simply to beg of him to state the extent of relief which it was the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to afford to the distressed districts, in order that they might, in the event of that relief not being sufficient, again appeal to the generosity of the British public.

Mr. Stanley

was willing to communicate all the information it was possible to give, as to the intentions of Government regarding the distresses in the counties of Mayo, Galway, Sligo, and Clare. At the same time, he deprecated discussion, as every word was necessarily misrepresented, and every hope exaggerated. He had received a letter from a small place in King's County, in which it had been voted at a public meeting, that it was unnecessary to raise money by private contributions, because Government had taken upon itself the responsibility of providing for the poor. It might do harm, and could do no good, for him to declare how much or how little Ministers intended to do. Thus much he would say—Government had given the most positive directions that no assistance should be afforded, unless the gentleman expressly sent down, was convinced that all the means of private charity were exhausted, and that life depended upon timely relief.