§ Mr. Cobbett
rose to move the Resolution of which he had given notice. The hon. Member read the Resolution as follows:—"That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire whether it be just and expedient to enact, that, before any as- 447 sessment for the relief of the poor shall hereafter be made upon the general property, in any parish of England or Wales, an assessment shall be made on the revenue of the incumbent of such parish, arising out of the benefice thereof, to the amount of one-fourth of the nett annual amount of the said revenue; that a like assessment, for the same purpose, shall be made on all abbey lands, and on impropriate tithes (if such there be), in each parish respectively, to the amount of one-fourth of the nett annual receipt from the rents or profits of such abbey-lands, or such impropriate or lay tithes; that no other assessment for the relief of the poor shall be made in any parish, unless the amount of these assessments shall be found insufficient for giving relief to the poor, according to the provisions of the Act of the 43rd year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and that, if these assessments be found insufficient in any parish, there shall be made, in aid thereof, on the whole of the lands and tenements and tithes in such parish, including the abbey-lands, the impropriate or lay-tithes, and also the tithes, manse, and glebe, of the incumbent of the parish, an assessment agreeably to the said Act passed in the 43rd year of Elizabeth." His main object was, to establish the right of the poor to receive relief. That was his main object. If he made out the justice of an assessment upon parochial tithes, he should not find much difficulty in making out the expediency. It was stated, in justification of the noble Lord's Bill, that the amount of the Poor-rates was so great, and the administration of them so corrupt, that all property would in time be swallowed up if the present system were allowed to proceed. When it was urged that the rich alone would derive benefit from the Bill, it was stated that such was not the case, and that the middle classes would be benefited. Now if his plan were adopted, the effect of it would be to relieve the middle classes to a great extent. With regard to the principle of his Motion, it would not be denied, that from time immemorial the poor had been relieved out of tithes and abbey-lands. As to the course which he wished to be adopted, he begged them to observe that the project was not new, or one devised by himself. This very proposition was made in 1793 by Mr. Morton Pitt, a great landed proprietor, a Magistrate of two counties, who 448 had been a lawyer, and had retired from the Bar. That Gentleman saw the reasonableness of the proposition: but its consideration was put aside, in consequence of the breaking out of the French Revolution which turned the attention of all men to it. The poor had a right to relief according to the Canon-law, the Common-law, and the Statute-law. When, at the time of the Reformation, the aristocracy took possession of the tithes and abbey lands, they not only robbed the clergy, but also the poor, whose right to a certain portion of those tithes had been legally confirmed to them. Many attempts were afterwards made, to enforce the relief of the poor, but this having failed, gave occasion to the passing of the 43rd of Elizabeth. This measure acknowledged the right of the poor to relief, but, instead of its compulsory enactments being confined to the abbeylands proprietors, they fell equally upon all landed proprietors throughout the country. Still that measure gave the poor compensation for that of which they had been forcibly deprived. As that compensation, as that right which the poor possessed both by law and by prescription, would be taken away by the Bill before the House, he had brought forward the present Motion, and he should like to hear any Gentleman controvert the doctrines which he held upon the subject, or bring forward arguments against the proposition which he made. If the House did take away from the poor the right which had thus been confirmed to them by Act of Parliament, then the poor must go back to their prescriptive right. It was very well known that during the riots in the rural districts it was frequently asserted that the tithes belonged to the poor. The third part of the tithes did belong to them, and the rents of the abbey-lands belonged to them in the like proportion. If the House took from them what the 43rd of Elizabeth had confirmed to them, then he hoped the House would enforce their prescriptive rights, whatever means might be adopted for so doing. He again asserted, that a third part of the tithes, and of the abbey-lands, belonged to the poor, and Parliament could not take those rights from them without giving them compensation. If Parliament passed the present Bill, and repealed the 43rd of Elizabeth, the poor would have a right to go back and enjoy the prescriptive rights 449 which they had upon those tithes and abbey - lands. Some people, perhaps, might imagine, that this was a side blow at the Church, as he proposed to take a part of the revenues of the incumbents of Churches. But he could tell them that the rights of the poor and the rights of the Church would stand and fall together. If one was robbed, the other would shortly after be obliged to submit to the same injustice. That was the opinion of one of the best advocates of the Church of England, who was himself a clergyman. An eminent clergyman (he meant Mr. Townshend) prebendary of Durham, accused the owners of abbey-lands and of great tithes of having broken their original compacts, by which they became possessed of such description of property. He would read a quotation from a work of that reverend gentleman, in which it was stated, that the author "could enumerate a long and painful catalogue of instances in which the lay impropriators and owners of abbey-lands had betrayed this trust, and broken the original compact by which they had become first possessed of tithes and abbey-lands. They had betrayed their trust and broken their compact; first, as regarded the rights and claims of the poor; and, secondly, they had most scandalously broken them as regarded the clergy, and particularly the working clergy." He knew many instances in which in parishes the lay impropriators took away in shape of tithes 300l. or 400l. a-year, and left to the working clergyman the miserable pittance of 10l. a-year. That was the case in Aldershot, a parish in Hampshire, with which he was acquainted. Why, it was even worse. In that parish 600l. a-year were taken away, and only 15l. a-year were left to the working clergyman. He would make a bet with the noble Lord opposite—he would stake all he was worth in the world—that his Resolutions would be adopted by an English Parliament, and be made the law of the land, before the detestable Bill that was then before the House. How could it be expected, that a clergyman would reside in the parish to which he had just referred when be was only left 15l. a-year, whilst the lay impropriator took away yearly the sum of 600l.? In Botley, the parish in which he was born, 900l. a-year was taken away by the lay impropriator, who allowed no more than 28l. a-year to the working 450 clergyman. The consequence was, that the clergyman could not reside in the parish, and only went to perform Divine service there once a month, or thereabouts. The parishioners, of course, were very much dissatisfied at such a state of things. The Church, taking it in the gross and dividing it fairly, did not receive one-fifth part of the property that really belonged to it. If the Church was in danger, and if it fell now, it was because on the present measure it was not making common cause with the poor. He repeated, that the measure before the House tended equally to plunder the Church and the poor. Mr. Townshend, when he wrote his book and made his statements, never dreamt of the noble Lord's plan and advice; he never dreamt, that Poor-law Commissioners were to take away from the poor the Act of Elizabeth. The reverend gentleman must know it now, and he was sure would think as he (Mr. Cobbett) did on the question. If that statute were taken away—if the rights of the poor to compensation were taken away, (and such would be the effect of the passing of the Bill before the House)—Englishmen would have a right to go back to tithes and abbey-lands, and to take with their own hands what belonged to them formerly by right. They would be doing no more than taking what was their prescriptive right, and for so doing they would be defended and justified in any Court of Law in England. If they did not do so they would not be showing themselves awake to their own rights as they generally were. At the time of the riots it was not explained to the people that their claim on the tithes was taken away from them by certain Lords, Gentlemen, and lay impropriators. If the people had received that explanation, their acts of violence would not have been directed towards the clergy. If the tithes were now restored to their original use, then would he say, that the Church was built upon a rock. But it would be built on sand and would certainly fall if the rights of the poor were taken away by the passing of the Bill before the House. He would not trouble the House by reading a second time his Resolution, and would conclude by merely moving it.
§ Lord Althorp
entreated hon. Members not to delay the House from going into Committee on the Bill by agreeing to the hon. Member's Amendment. The question was one that might be discussed at any 451 other time, even after the Bill before them had been passed. He agreed to the intimation made by the hon. Member, that the object of his Amendment was the relief of the poor, and such was also the object of the Bill before the House. But he would not then go into the subject, because if hon. Members might discuss such Motions when a different Order of the Day was fixed, he saw no use in appointing any Order at all.
§ Mr. Godson
said, that if the poor were bound to be relieved, it was not sufficient to have that relief administered to them in the shape of emigration, and by sending them away into foreign lands. In words they had repealed the statute of Elizabeth, since the power granted to the Commissioners did away with the stipulations of that Act. There was a very material question to be discussed, namely, whether the poor had a right to relief, and he thought it should be known whether they had or had not, before the Bill under the consideration of the House was passed, and became the law of the land. If they had no such right to relief, then must they be satisfied with the amount of charity doled out to them. A long time back, when St. Augustin was in this country, the question as to the right of the poor to be relieved out of tithes was propounded to Pope Gregory, and his Holiness then decided, that the poor had a right to one-fourth of the amount of tithes. Now, when Government repealed the Act of Elizabeth, by which compensation was allowed to the poor, he thought they were throwing back the poor on their original right to a portion of the tithes, and he considered that then the question would be very naturally raised about the rights of those who possessed all abbey-lands, as well as about all tithes held by lay impropriators. He did not mean to detain the House, or prevent it from going into Committee; but he thought, that before the Bill was finally dispossd of, the question as to the rights of the poor to relief ought to be maturely discussed.
§ The House divided on the Resolution —Ayes 111; Noes 3: Majority 108. The House went into Committee.
§ The 60th Clause relating to Emigration having been put,
Mr. Wolryche Whitmore
said, that he was anxious to trouble the House with a few observations respecting this clause. Provided it were fairly considered, it would 452 supply he thought very great facilities to the final passing of the measure before them. The question of emigration had often been on former occasions under the consideration of the House, and the opinions he then expressed on the subject, he confessed were not perfectly the same as those he entertained at the present time. Great good he now considered might be done if a surplus labouring population were sent out of an old and over-peopled country to new countries, or to countries destitute of population, where labour was necessarily in great demand, or where it might be profitably employed. The objection to sending away a surplus population was the constant and heavy expenditure it would entail on the country if a large stream of emigrants was continued to be sent off. For this reason he was not formerly a strenuous advocate for emigration. Before he proceeded to make observations on this subject, he thought it necessary to say a few words on the propriety of combining this clause with other parts of the Bill. If the surplus labourers in some parishes were found to be only a few, it was no reason for not having recourse to emigration in those parishes, since when that surplus was extended all over the country, and taken in one general amount, it would produce a large one. He certainly was of opinion that in some parts of England there was a surplus labouring population; there was more labour than was demanded. In the ten years preceding 1821, the general increase of population was nineteen per cent; in the ten years preceding 1831 it was fourteen per cent. In the counties of Buckingham and Nottingham, it was, in 1821, about fifteen per cent, and nine per cent in 1831. In Cambridgeshire the returns exhibited an increase, in 1821, of twenty per cent, and, in 1831, of eight per cent. The increase he had mentioned was an increase on the great amount to which the population had reached in 1811 and 1821 respectively. In Sussex it was stated, that the amount of population for the last twenty years had increased from 161,577 to 204,707, or about an average of twenty-six per cent. From 1811 to 1831 he found that in thirteen counties in which the Poor-laws were ill-administered there was an increase of 48,425 families. Now, when he contrasted these thirteen counties with thirteen northern counties in which the Poor- 453 laws were well administered, he found that the increase in the same period of the agricultural population of the latter was not more than 5,000 families. If in the southern counties it were found, that no extension had taken place in agriculture, was it not a reason for believing that there was a considerable surplus in the agricultural population of those counties in which the Poor-laws were ill-administered? He confessed, that he was one of those who entertained the opinion that in those last-mentioned counties the population was somewhat redundant. If there had not been so much Poor-rates taken out of the pockets of the farmers in those counties they would have been enabled to afford more employment to agricultural labourers. He still, however, believed, that in certain districts of the country there was not sufficient employment to afford its fair remuneration to labour. If such were the case —he would say with respect to this clause, which gave the Commissioners the power of raising money to promote emigration, that it deserved to be supported. When it was a fact that there was a surplus labouring population, they ought to allow every facility for the levying of money, in order to bring about the accomplishment of the objects of the clause. In the view which he took of England he considered that it was perfectly possible to introduce a system of emigration, the expenditure attendant upon which would not depend on any funds raised in this country, but on funds that would accrue from the sale of colonial waste lands. He would give the House an idea of the extent of those waste lands. In our North American Colonies the extent of land ungranted and uncultivated amounted to 23,000,000 of acres. In Australia there was an extent of territory measuring from east to west 2,000 miles, and from north to south 1,700 miles. At the Cape there was unoccupied a tract of land measuring in breadth 240 miles and in length 270. The question was as to the value of these waste lands if they were brought into the market to be sold. There was very little doubt but that there would be a considerable sum arising from such a sale. When capital and labour were applied to these lands no one could doubt but they would yield considerable value, and he believed, that the amount would be greater than many Gentlemen imagined. He found, that the proceedings of the 454 Canada Company had been attended with very great profits. Large sums had accrued to them from sales of land, and their profits were likely to go on increasing. He had in his possession several statements showing the large profits made by this Company. The shares were nominally of 100l. each, on which 18l. had been paid, and these were now selling in the market for 49l. This was to him a conclusive proof of the increased value given to land by emigration. The progress that had been made in the United States was also very striking. Formerly uncleared land in the United States sold for less than a dollar an acre. At present uncleared land sold for from two to four dollars, and land partially cleared for from four to sixty dollars. If they looked also to the land in the different townships they would find a corresponding increase of value. A document had been put into his hand as he came down to the House showing the change that had taken place in the value of land in a township at the extremity of Lake Michigan, where building land, which a short time ago sold for 400 dollars an acre, was now selling for 3,000 dollars. The same fact was true of our own colonies. In York and in Sydney the price of land had increased wonderfully. Indeed, so great was the change that it was almost startling. He was extremely anxious to impress upon the House the fact, that to whatever point the stream of emigration had been directed there the price of land had been raised. The question, then, was when by the application of labour and capital, the value of uninclosed land was raised, whether the money obtained by the sale of such land should not be appropriated towards promoting emigration? No one would for a moment assert that emigration could be injurious to the colonies. It was giving to the colonies labour and capital, and pointing out the best means of applying both. At the same time a great advantage was conferred on the labourers who were induced to emigrate, as they were then enabled by their exertions to raise themselves to a state of independence. Emigration was beneficial also to the labourers remaining at home, as the competition in the market for labour was lessened, and wages of course rose. But it might be said, perhaps, that the amount so obtained from the sale of our waste lands in Canada would be but small. 455 The United States at the present moment were in the receipt of 3,000,000 dollars annually (very nearly 700,000l.) from the sale of their waste lands. It would be seen, therefore, that the amount which we were likely to receive from the sale of our Crown lands in Canada would not be inconsiderable; indeed there was every reason to suppose, that we should, in the course of a few years derive as much revenue in that way as the United States did, and the application of such a sum to the purposes of emigration would no doubt be productive of the greatest possible benefit to this country. He had been compelled thus inconveniently, and, as many might think, out of place, to bring this important question before the House. It was his determination to move for a Select Committee of Inquiry into the subject, as it was one that could be best investigated before such a tribunal; but the advanced period at which the Session had now arrived, put it out of his power to carry that determnation into effect. If, however, the question should appear to the House and the country to be what he conceived it was—one of national importance—he would certainly move for the appointment of such a Committee next Session. With regard to the Bill immediately before the Committee, he begged to say, that never since he had a seat in Parliament, did he remember a measure so pregnant with benefit to the country, and he trusted, therefore, that everything would be done to facilitate its progress through the House. Some hon. Members seemed to think differently of this measure, but they would give him leave to say, that those who did so took short-sighted views of the subject. No class was so immediately concerned in the passing of this measure as the poor. The system at present in operation, and to remedy which this measure was intended, would seem to be the production, not so much of the perversity of human judgment, as of the malignity of a fiend. It was one which converted the labourers of this country into degraded slaves, which dried up all the sources of charity, and which spread vice and immorality throughout the land. If they were anxious to remove such a state of things, they would pass this Bill in its present shape; and he trusted, that it would also be successful in its progress through the other House. The hon. Member concluded by moving the insertion of a proviso to the 456 effect that, after the monies so raised or borrowed by the Commissioners had been applied to the purposes of emigration, they should be empowered to apply to the Secretary of the Colonies, and he should be authorized to hand over to them an equal sum out of such monies as might be disposable, arising from the sale of Crown-lands in the colonies, to be applied to defray the expense attendant upon the emigration of labouring men and their wives and families, such persons being settled in the parishes and receiving support out of the monies raised by the Commissioners as aforesaid.
had heard with great satisfaction the speech of his hon. friend, the member for Wolverhampton. The principles therein so ably propounded were peculiarly applicable to the actual state of the country, and to the Bill before the House. He had from the first distinctly stated, that he approved the principles upon which it was proposed to reform the administration of the Poor-laws; but while he approved of the principle of the Bill which had been introduced, he conceived that several of its provisions were of too stringent a character, and could not be carried into practical effect without considerable difficulty. He regarded the Bill as a species of high-pressure engine, which, without the safety-valve of emigration, could not be worked except at the hazard of destructive explosion. The allowance system, paying the industrious labourer not wholly by his employer, but partly out of the parish-rates, was the great abomination of the Poor-laws, which had degraded the rural population, which had reversed the progressive improvement of society, and had brought back a worse than feudal system, reducing the people to predial bondage, and rendering them serfs and villeins on the soil. But how was this abomination to be got rid of? The 46th clause, abolishing the allowance system, would work well in those agricultural parishes in which there was not a surplus population. In these the operation of the clause would be, to withdraw from the labour-market the labourers with large families who were partly supported from the parish; this would reduce the supply of labour below the demand, and raise wages until they became sufficiently high to afford married labourers with families independent support. This remedial process, however, would not take 457 place in parishes where the population was redundant. In these, withdrawing from the labour-market those who might receive relief out of the parish-rates would not reduce the supply of labour below the demand, and, therefore, would not raise wages so as to enable married labourers with families to earn independent support. These would remain permanent burthens upon their parishes. If the parishes supplied them with sufficient subsistence, their numbers would increase; and it could not be attempted to subsist them so scantily as to prevent their increase, and to cause them to decay. In every agricultural parish having more labourers than were sufficient for the cultivation of the soil, a permanent pauper settlement would be established. How was this evil to be obviated? Only by acting on the principles propounded by his hon. friend, and adopting an extensive system of colonization. But it was not merely with respect to the agricultural parishes having a surplus population that the Poor-laws Amendment could not work for good, unless accompanied by a system of emigration. To improve the condition of the English labourer, without at the same time improving that of the Irish, would be impracticable. Unless the Legislature improved the condition of the Irish, the English Poor-law Amendment Bill would be abortive. In two countries so intimately connected, and now brought into such immediate contact by steam navigation, two different rates of wages could not be permanently maintained. Equality must be produced either by the English falling to the level of the Irish, or by the Irish rising to the level of the English. But how could the scale of comfort in Ireland be raised to the English level? Only by drawing off her surplus population by a constant stream of self-supported emigration to the colonies. Examine the cause of Ireland's inferiority. Her Assessed-taxes had been repealed, her land was not burthened with Poor-rates, much of it was tithe free, and she had for her produce a monopoly in the richest market of the world. Why, then, were the cultivators of the soil so wretchedly supplied with all the comforts, and even decencies, of life? From the defective state of agricultural industry, almost the whole of the population were employed in raising raw produce from the soil, and few remained to work it up into secondary necessaries and de- 458 cent comforts. The smaller the proportion of the population of a country required to raise the food of the whole population, the greater became the number available for the production of clothing and furniture, and ornaments and decorations. In England, four men were sufficient to cultivate 100 acres of land; and the produce of 100 acres, after subsisting the primary producers, went to feed secondary producers, who supplied comforts and luxuries. But, in Ireland, 100 acres might be occupied by 100 cultivators; and it was only that portion of the produce which remained after feeding 100 cultivators, which could be applied to supporting those who supplied comforts. The condition of the Irish could not be improved until a new distribution of the industrious classes had been effected—until a smaller proportion of the population was employed upon the soil, and a larger proportion left free to produce comforts and conveniences. But, if the English and Scots system of managing land were introduced into Ireland,—if farms were consolidated, and 100 acres were cultivated by the labour of four persons, how was the rural population, thus cast out from their small holdings, to be disposed of? Without emigration, there was an almost insuperable obstacle to the improvement of Ireland. While almost the whole of the population dwelt upon the soil, competing with each other for small patches of land at enormous rents, predial poverty must continue, and predial outrage and insurrection periodically recur. It was not political, it was economical, causes which produced the evil. No remedy had yet reached the canker at the core. In vain the Legislature had mitigated the barbarous penal code; in vain passed the Catholic Relief Bill and the Coercion Bill; and equally in vain, for the relief and pacification of Ireland, would be the abolition of tithes and a new distribution of the property of the Protestant Church. For all this would avail nothing while almost the whole population of the country were employed in cultivating small patches of land at enormous rents. The first step towards improvement must be, a more effectual system of agriculture, allowing a smaller proportion of the population to raise food for the whole. But this first step was a perilous and agonizing operation. In taking it, one half of the rural population 459 would be ejected from the soil. How could they be dealt with? If left destitute, they would rebel, and do the work of destruction. If supported by a Poor-rate, the rental would he soon insufficient; if allowed to come to England and swamp the labour-market, the people of England would be reduced to the Irish level. There could be no safety, no improvement, without planting in the colonies the rural population of Ireland thrown out by the consolidation of farms. Without an extensive system of colonization, this Poor-law Amendment Bill could not work for good; it would be a piece of incomplete, abortive, and pernicious legislation, accelerating the period when England should be reduced to the Irish level. Emigration from Ireland must be part and parcel of the measure for reforming the English Poor-laws. The hon. member for Oldham dissented from the principle he had now ventured to propound. He was glad of that. He was glad, that the hon. member disapproved of colonization, for that was a fair presumptive proof that colonization would be beneficial to the country. The hon. Member was opposed to education and improvement, and it was quite consistent that the hon. Member should be opposed to emigration. On the principles of the hon. Member, he must be opposed to the existence of the United States of North America, as being the creation of emigration from England. He should recall the United States, and replant their population in the United Kingdom. He was the advocate of ignorance and barbarism, and belonged to an age that was past. The advocates of what was called home colonization would object to the plan so ably expounded by his hon. friend. They would contend, that the waste lands of the United Kingdom should be brought into cultivation before we planted our increasing population upon the lands of the colonies. The question of home colonization resolved itself into this: were the waste lands of the United Kingdom more or less fertile than the unappropriated lands of the colonies? Let the facts be accurately ascertained; let the experiment be fairly made, — cultivate, he said, commons, heaths, moors, bogs, and even mountain tops, provided you can obtain from them a produce sufficient to replace capital and amply to subsist the cultivators. But let them not perpetrate the folly of planting home colonies on lands yielding a scanty 460 return, instead of planting foreign colonies on lands yielding an ample return. If the cultivators of lands yielding eight bushels of corn per acre obtained low wages and low profits, do not commit the absurdity of attempting to afford them relief by planting them on lands yielding six bushels an acre. If profits and wages were reduced, as there was a necessity to resort to soil yielding a scanty return in proportion to the outlay, let them not entitle themselves to apartments in Bedlam by dreaming that they could relieve distress by resorting to soils of a still more inferior quality. If they would acquire the character of practical legislators, let them take their lessons from experience. Why did the people of the United States of North America enjoy so high a scale of comfort, and so rapid a prosperity? Was it by home or by remote colonization? Was it by cultivating the waste lands of the eastern States, or by pouring out upon the immense alluvial plains of the Mississippi? Unless the waste lands of the United Kingdom were superior in quality to the last soils already under tillage, resorting to them could not by possibility remove the existing pressure. It had been supposed, and not unfrequently asserted, that colonization must abstract from the mother country capitalists as well as labourers; and that, inasmuch as capital was abstracted, the funds which put industry in motion would be diminished, and the home demand for labour contracted, and the country impoverished. This objection sounded plausibly—it was put forward with pretension and with an air of scientific accuracy; but it was unsound—it was valueless—it proceeded upon an entire misconception and an utter ignorance of the sources of wealth and of the causes of a nation's advance through the progressive to the stationary state. Capital required to be in co-operation with land, in order to reproduce itself. Considered as a thing by itself, and disconnected from the soil, and from the raw produce of the soil, it was not a source of wealth; it neither afforded employment to labour, nor could be itself reproductively employed. If the farmer, however abundant his capital, did not apply it to land yielding some greater quantity of food and seed than that expended in cultivation, then agricultural capital, instead of affording permanent employment to the rural population, would gra- 461 dually melt away and perish. And if the manufacturer, however abundant his capital, consisting of food and materials, could not find cultivators able to give for his finished articles at least as much food and materials as were expended in preparing them, manufacturing capital would be redundant, there would be no profitable field for its employment, and it could not create a demand for the labour of the operative. In proportion as capital became more and more abundant in relation to the extent of the fertile soils from which the supplies of food and raw materials were obtained, profits became less and less, until no additional capital could be beneficially employed, and until new accumulations from revenue ceased to be reproductive, and lost the capacity of giving employment to labour. Where a plethora of capital existed, an abstraction removed the paralysing pressure, and restored to industry her suspended animation. Was a plethora of capital the existing disease of the country? An examination of the symptoms would tell. Throughout all the departments of the national industry, the complaint of inadequate profits prevailed. The landed interest affirmed, that the profits of the farmer were reduced to nothing; the shipping interest told a like tale; and the manufacturer, though he executed more work, realized less gain. A growing difficulty in obtaining beneficial employment for capital was everywhere felt. How could they remove the pressure by which they were pent in? And by what process could the field of employment be enlarged, and high profits restored? Only by an extensive system of colonization. In Ireland there was redundant labour; in England, redundant capital, and in the colonies boundless tracts of rich and unoccupied land. Let them collect and place in juxta-position these scattered elements of wealth, which were singly unproductive, but which, in combination, would become creative of national opulence. As they planted and extended new colonies, new markets would open and expand to our commerce. This was the way to combat hostile tariffs and anti-commercial combinations. When rival nations heaped new and increasing restrictions on our industry, let us—to borrow the expression of Mr. Canning—call new worlds into existence to adjust the balance of the old. Thus acting, they would create for England an expansive 462 prosperity, the limits of which the imagination could not reach. His right hon. friend, the Secretary for the Colonies had now the power of conferring upon the country greater benefits than it ever fell to the lot of statesman to bestow. He had the power of terminating predial disturbance in Ireland, and of giving to England high wages and high profits, with an indefinite extension of industry and wealth; he had the power of extending the British name, and race, and language, and civilization, throughout the unpeopled regions of the world—the power of planting nations, and rocking the cradles of giant empires. For these reasons, and under these impressions, he cordially supported the Motion of his hon. friend, the member for Wolverhampton.
§ Mr. Cobbett,
must, at the risk of being designated a barbarian, take the liberty of expressing his hatred and abhorrence of the cruel Bill,—especially of the clause of which the hon. Gentleman was so fond. How stood the fact as it was placed before the House by the Report of the Committee of which the right hon. Baronet, lately the first Lord of the Admiralty, was president?—a Committee, composed of twenty-seven gentlemen of the first estates, and he might say, of the first talents in England,—that Committee reported, on evidence which they laid before the House, that the lands of England were greatly deteriorated in consequence of sufficient labour not being bestowed upon them; that some were wholly ruined for want of cultivation, that a great portion was only one-half cultivated, and others only one-third. And what was the cause of this? Why, the farmer had not money enough to pay labourers. The hon. member for Wolverhampton said, that although capital was not to be found for employment in England,—plenty of capital was to be found for the cultivation of the woods in Nova Scotia. He could assure the hon. Member, whatever he might have heard from land-jobbers and speculators,—and by no one else could he be so deceived,—and they would deceive Satan himself,—that there was no such good land to cultivate in Nova Scotia as the refuse of Bagshot Heath. The lands of England needed cultivating, because the farmers had not the money to pay for labour; and yet they were to pass a law to compel or induce them to give money to labourers to go 463 abroad and cultivate the lands elsewhere. Suppose he had a farm not half cultivated —the briars running out from the hedges, and the fields full of noxious thistles, and suppose that this arose from want of money. Suppose there were a great number of labourers out of employment, and that some of them came and told him, that the mere circumstance of there being many men wanting work increased the difficulties of the country, because it enhanced the amount of the Poor-rates. What must he say? "Here my lads—here is money—here is money enough to keep you for twelve months; my farm wants workmen, to be sure; but do, for God's sake, just do me the favour to go and cultivate the land in Canada." Why, would not the wise, and just, and sober-minded Lord Chancellor, be perfectly justified in giving his heirs the power of shutting him up in a madhouse, if he were guilty of such an absurdity? But that was the situation in which this clause would place the country. The whole Bill was bad; but this clause was one mass of gross absurdity and stupidity. The gallant Colonel said, that land in the colonies was, "thirsting" for labour. The rocks were thirsting for labour, and the swamps were thirsting for draining. The assembly of Lower Canada passed an act imposing a tax upon all emigrants who came into the colony. Last winter, a proposition was made to repeal that law. And what was the reason assigned for not taking that course? They would not repeal the Act because it tended to prevent the unfortunate wretches who were deluded in England by jobbers and speculators from going to Canada as emigrants; and another reason was, that they wanted a fund out of which to relieve the distressed emigrants from starvation. There was one fact upon which he could not entertain the slightest doubt. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary-at-War, said, when he brought forward the Army Estimates, that many of the soldiers who received a commutation for their pensions, and emigrated to Canada, and proceeded to New York, where they received the money from the Consul, had returned in a state of destitution. It was agreed, that they ought not to lose their settlements, but that they ought to be relieved, because they had been deluded and deceived,—and that it was those who sent them there, and not the poor fellows 464 themselves, who were to blame. Now, in the face of such a fact, would the hon. member for Wolverhampton say, that persons were to be sent to make their fortunes in the Colonies? and was it under such circumstances as these that the House was to call upon parishes to find money to send their poor away? One question put by the Poor-law Commissioners to some gentlemen in every county in England and Wales was: "What do you think of an enactment enabling parishes to tax themselves, in order to facilitate emigration; and should an emigrant, sent out at the expense of the parish, lose his settlement if he return?" This question was put to about 1,700 gentlemen of information and respectability. Their answers had been laid before the House in print, and the noble Lord must know what they were. 509 said, that emigration would be bad; many said, that there were not labourers enough, and the instance of a parish in Lincolnshire during the last harvest was adduced; 318 gave no answer at all; one parish near Halifax very sensibly answered in a single word,—"Horrible;" 162 could form no judgment on the point; 108 said it was wholly impracticable; and only 291 said, it was a capital project. These answers were much more likely to be correct and impartial than the statements of a self-interested land-jobber, who would sell land in the moon if he could get any one to buy it. What were these papers laid before the House for? To form their judgments accordingly. Then let them take the Report of the Poor-law Commissioners. What did the clause itself provide? One answer was sufficient. One said, "I have no practical experience of emigration; but I feel very averse to it, as tending to remove the best part of the people, and to leave only that which is inferior, both in mental and physical capacity. I think the emigrant should not lose his settlement; for he must be settled somewhere if he return." The clause, however, provided, that the party should be punished if he returned, or became chargeable to his parish, within a certain time after receiving the money enabling him to emigrate. Suppose, after he had received the money, his children ran away and would not go, what was he to do? He had no control over them: he could not force them to go. Suppose his wife refused to go, was he to be pun- 465 ished? To punish the wife was utterly impracticable. Well, suppose a man and his family took the money, it was very clear they would not be shipped off or transported if they could help it. Make it imperative for them to go; tell them that they should be deprived of their settlement if they returned: tell them the terms on which they go, and not a man would budge an inch. But suppose the father died on his passage or soon after his arrival, would the mother stop there? No; all the whole world would not make her. She would be kept there under any circumstances with great difficulty; nothing would keep her there but absolute force and when none was exercised, she would come back with her children. Was she to be punished, by throwing her into a gaol? Every Gentleman knew how great the difficulty was in keeping families together under such circumstances, even where the parties were well off; but to do so when they were placed in the situation to which these persons must be reduced, would be absolutely impossible. But to be of any use, this system must be brought into general operation; a few hundred families would be a mere nothing. Was it supposed or expected that these persons would preserve their allegiance to this country? Would they have a right to fight against their country, or would they still owe allegiance to England? Certainly not. This was not at all an imaginary case. During the last war, twenty-three Englishmen were taken prisoners in Canada: they had served in the American army, and they were sent to England to be tried as traitors. Immediately on their being taken, General Theobald, the American officer, ordered into close confinement twenty-three English soldiers, whom he detained as hostages until the fate of the Americans should be made known. Matters stood in this situation when Buonaparte went to Elba. Things took a different turn soon afterwards. The Yankees gave us a sound, hearty thrashing. We grew very modest, and very humane, all at once: we took the twenty-three Englishmen, who were to be tried as traitors, and put them into the English prisons along with the rest of the American prisoners of war. Nothing more was heard of the matter. If this nonsensical, absurd, and foolish clause should be agreed to—even if the 466 excellent Amendment of the hon. member for Wolverhampton was rejected, and the clause in all other respects passed—he should certainly feel it his duty to propose the insertion of a proviso, to the effect that no person, after being expatriated, should be considered as a traitor in taking arms against England.
Mr. Secretary Rice
felt it his duty to trouble the Committee with a few observations in reply to what had fallen from the hon. member for Oldham. In the first place, he must express the satisfaction with which he heard the sentiments which his hon. friend, the member for Wolverhampton, expressed on the subject of this Bill; with the justice of which, no individual who had carefully watched the progress of the measure, could fail to be struck. Those observations were most gratifying, not only in so far as they related to the disposition of the House to support the Bill, but as they described its tendency to improve the condition of the poor. With regard to the observations of the hon. member for Oldham, he hoped he should be excused for saying, that the hon. Member had confounded facts, and invented statements, in a manner peculiarly his own, and which certainly entitled him to the merit of arguing in a manner which rendered it almost impossible to cope with him. For instance, if it were to be conceded to the hon. Gentleman, that in the whole of the colonial possessions of this country, we had nothing but swamps and rocks on which to employ labourers, the House would, undoubtedly, have to deal with one of the most monstrous clauses that ever was introduced. But how could the hon. Gentleman risk his credit by volunteering such a statement as that? Was the hon. Gentleman, then, prepared to risk his credit before the House and the country, knowing, as he did, the means which almost every Gentleman in the House possessed, of forming a judgment on the point, that the colonial possessions of this country presented nothing to the industry of British settlers but swamps and rocks? The assertion was a specimen of the kind of reasoning which the hon. Gentleman had employed, not only on the emigration clause, but on every principle and every detail of the Bill. He asked the House to judge of the hon. Gentleman's assertions, in other instances, by the accuracy of this; and if they found this to be wrong, 467 to suppose that his reasoning on other occasions might be equally futile. Another rather singular circumstance was, that the hon. Gentleman had, on this occasion, admitted, with some degree of approbation, the authority of the Poor-law Commissioners, and he, who had undervalued all their other proceedings— who had stigmatized them in language almost as hard as that which he complained of—he who had thrown overboard all their misrepresentations, and disputed their statements,—called upon the House to found its judgment on the answers to a query which had little or no connexion with the present question. The hon. Gentleman had also referred to fragments of the evidence taken before the Agricultural Committee, on which he founded the assumption, not only that there was no excess of population in England, but that there was no redundancy of population in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman possessed a shrewdness of observation not often equalled, and he must know perfectly well, that there might exist in particular districts, an excess of population, although the general population of the country might not present the same excess. If the hon. Gentleman looked to the real state of the case, he would find, that, incidentally, the present Poor-law system was one of the causes which prevented that distribution of the population in different districts, which would equalize demand for labour. He must say, that some Gentlemen,—and the observation would even apply to many who approved of this measure,—entertained an unnecessary degree of fear as to its operation. The hon. member for Bolton said, that he feared at first there would be considerable difficulty in remedying the evils arising from this unequal demand for labour. But the hon. Gentleman would see, that if there were to be an excess of labour in Sussex, for instance, while labour was in demand in Lancashire, it could be taken from the one county, and provided for in the other, unless, indeed, there were some artificial bond of connexion between the labourers and the place. He freely admitted, that there undoubtedly might be cases in which the application of this peculiar remedy would become a point well deserving the consideration of the Legislature. Those who did not follow the hon. Gentleman with some attention, might really have inferred, that this was a compulsory clause, 468 whereas it was only permissive, the consent of the party himself being absolutely and indispensably necessary, before a single step could be taken. He dwelt on this the more, because, in former discussions, the object of the provision was very much misrepresented, and it was considered in the light of a new mode of transportation intended for the injury and prejudice of the labouring poor. He might be allowed to say, that they ought not to touch upon this question, without doing justice to a right hon. friend of his, now far away, of whom his friends entertained the most honourable recollections. Sir Wilmot Horton originally introduced the question with much perseverance. Many were the sneers directed against him in the course of his labours; but it was a fact, that many of the principles he laid down were now recognised and adopted even by those who scouted them at the time. The hon. member for Oldham referred to the case of the military emigrants to Canada. But supposing all the hon. Gentleman's assertions on that point to be admitted, did it follow, because a pensioner, whose habits might not exactly fit him for a new colony, who might not have been sober, industrious, and provident, had not succeeded; that therefore all subsequent settlers of a different station in life, and possessing the necessary qualifications, must fail. What was the proposition of his hon. friend, the member for Wolverhampton? "That it shall and may be lawful for the Secretary of State for the Colonies, (these words being imperative, and giving him no discretion), whenever, and as often as there shall be any monies undisposed of arising from the sale of Crown lands in the colonies, to apply such monies to defray the expenses of the emigration of labouring men and their families in a given proportion." Government had long since adopted the general principle as applicable to settlers and colonies. The produce arising from the sale of Crown-lands in the Australian provinces was already applied to this purpose, but, he must say, in a manner infinitely preferable to that proposed to be established by this clause. Take the case of Van Diemen's Land. It appeared by the last advices from thence, that a sum of 15,000l. had been produced by the sale of Crown lands, and that it had been applied to this and no other purpose. But if this Amendment 469 were adopted, the sums thus raised must be applied to this specific purpose only. He put it to his hon. friend whether, after the recognition of the principle by the Emigration Committee, it would not be better to leave the application of these funds to the unfettered discretion of Government, than to render it imperative upon it at all times, and under all circumstances, to expend a fixed proportion of this sum in aid of emigration. The necessarily varying circumstances, too, of different colonies at different times, was a strong objection to the adoption of the proposal. At one time it might be desirable to apply half the whole amount raised to this purpose; at another time, that half might be an excess; there would be times when the demand for labour in the colonies would be of itself perhaps a sufficient inducement for emigration, and others when that inducement would be very much lessened. It had even been found necessury to vary the encouragement under which female emigration to New South Wales had been carried on. At one time 10l. had been given to every emigrant, at another 8l., and sometimes even as much as 12l. This was an additional reason for leaving an uncontrolled discretion on the point with Government. There was another objection which ought not to be lost sight of. The amount of these funds was very uncertain. Suppose, for instance, that in a given period no sales of Crown lands took place, or that the receipts were greatly diminished. Exactly in the same proportion an inevitable and necessary restraint upon emigration from this country would be imposed. Suppose, for instance, that the 15,000l. raised from the sale of Crown-lands in Van Diemen's Land were entirely absorbed in carrying this object into effect, during the present year, the consequence would be that, in a subsequent year, the parties who wished to emigrate would derive no assistance whatever from this fund. More important objections arose with respect to other colonies. In some, these funds were already applied to other uses; in others, the Government was in communication with the local legislatures, with a view to effecting arrangements connected with these very land revenues. if this clause were to be carried, appropriations already made must in future be derived from other sources, and the negotiations still pending with the local legislatures must be conducted on 470 new principles. It was on these grounds that he was disposed to press his hon. friend, under the circumstances he had stated, to leave the Government that unfettered control which it now possessed over the application of this fund. Not only his hon. friend, the member for Wolverhampton, but the hon. member for Bolton (Col. Torrens), had alluded to the trial of an experiment in a new colony. He attached the greatest importance to that trial; and, without pledging himself or his Majesty's Government to the adoption of any definitive course, he had no hesitation in saying, that it was one to which there was every disposition to give favourable and early consideration, because the matter was important, in point of time, and in regard to the consequences involved, and the interests affected. If there were delays or difficulties, they did not arise from any insensibility on the part of his Majesty's Government to the importance of the subject, but from a due sense of the responsibility which attached to any Administration upon founding a new Colony. The country had had some experience on the subject. He was the last person to express any distrust of the present proposition, with respect to which, so far from entertaining any such sentiment, he was disposed to feel considerable confidence. But they knew that, when the Swan River experiment was first opened in this House, nothing could be more alluring than the representations made to Parliament. One of them was, the great advantage of freedom from all expense. There could be no doubt, however, that that settlement had cost a great deal of money; and the pecuniary responsibility was the least which the mother-country incurred when she undertook the formation of a new colony. It was quite in vain to contend, that any understanding which could be come to between the new settlers and the Government could ever relieve the latter from the responsibility of vindicating the honour of the country if it should be necessary, or of protecting national interests and establishing good government in any Colony upon which the British flag might be unfurled. The arguments which had been advanced in support of the proposition of the hon. member for Wolverhampton had been used, he had no doubt, with the most perfect sincerity; but it was necessary that the Ministers should see their way clearly before they lent the sanc- 471 tion of Government, either directly or indirectly, to such a system of emigration as would be created if the hon. Gentleman's proposition should be acceded to. Under the provisions of the Bill as it now stood, the terms would be easy to comply with, and greatly to the advantage of those who did comply with them, which was an additional reason for not adopting the Amendment. His recommendation was, to try the experiment first; and if it succeeded, to legislate more fully afterwards. His hon. friend said, that, in another Session of Parliament, he might feel it necessary to move for the appointment of a Committee to consider of the subject of emigration generally. He was quite satisfied that such a proposition could not come with greater weight from any person than from his hon. friend; but he would beg of his hon. friend to suspend any legislation upon the subject until he had seen how the present measure would operate. The Ministers would not oppose the principle upon which his Motion proceeded—on the contrary, they were prepared to adopt it; but they wished it not to be pressed at present.
§ Mr. Hodges
contended, that it was monstrous to establish such a principle as that parishes should be allowed to borrow money for such a purpose as that of expatriating Englishmen in order that their places might be supplied by Irishmen.—He for one should feel it his duty to resist so unjust a proposition, and therefore, he should, at the proper time, move an addition to the clause to the effect— "Provided always that no sum of money for any such purpose as aforesaid shall be raised and expended until some provision for the relief of the poor of Ireland be by law established."
§ Mr. Clay
considered, that emigration would be advantageous rather than injurious, and it was on that ground that he approved of the clause. There was an immense surplus of labour and capital in this country seeking employment, and why should not both be led into our colonies? There was no project which could be mentioned with a chance of profit but many persons were ready to take it up. There was with our redundancy of capital distress among the labourers, and how could both be provided for, unless by emigration? He saw no reason to relax their endeavours to better the condition of the labouring poor of this country be- 472 cause the Irish labouring poor might, also, be benefited by it. They had no right to restrain the Irish labourers from coming to this country in quest of employment; and if they wished to put a stop to the emigration of Irish into England, they could only do so by adopting measures that would ensure them employment at home.
in supporting the clause, mentioned the following case, in illustration of the advantages of emigration. A parish being overwhelmed with the amount of its poor-rate, induced by a surplus population, sent seventy labourers out to Canada, provided with tools and some money, the expense being defrayed half by voluntary contributions, and half out of the poor-rate. The result had been most advantageous to all parties; the labourers had got constant employment at 4s. 5s. and 6s. a-day; and were, in every way, so satisfied, that they had sent home for their friends to join them. The parish had reason to be satisfied; for the poor-rates had been considerably diminished, and the labouring part of the parish who stayed at home had reason to be satisfied, for they all got work.
§ Mr. Grote
hoped, that the hon. member for Wolverhampton would withdraw his Amendment. In his opinion, no possible mischief could arise from the clause as it stood. He would go further. He was fully persuaded that the effect of the clause would be most highly beneficial to all parties. He was perfectly astonished how any one could interpret it into a sentence of transportation. The clause did not contain a word which, as it appeared to him, could be legitimately twisted into an intention of forcing any one to emigrate. All it said was, that if any person, wishing to better himself in another country, chose to emigrate, Government would facilitate his transmission to that country.
§ Mr. Slaney
defended the clause. He did not think there was any particular danger to be apprehended from the influx of Irish labourers, as there was no redundancy of population in the counties nearest to Ireland, while there was a redundancy in the southern counties of England.
§ Mr. Cartwright
supported the clause; and mentioned a case in his own neighbourhood, where, out of a parish containing eight hundred persons, one hundred had emigrated to Upper Canada, with the 473 advantageous result to themselves of plenty of well-paid labour; and to those who remained behind of considerably diminished poor-rates and ample employment.
§ Mr. Benett
would not concede that there was any surplus population. The dreadful distress which pervaded the country was attributable to nothing of the sort. The whole and sole cause of that distress consisted in the overwhelming embargo which was laid upon the industry and capital of the country connected with land, in the shape of enormous taxation. Human labour was the wealth of the country, and the more we sent abroad, the more we must really impoverish the country. The meanest beast we had—an ass for instance—was worth 15s.; but a child was considered a nuisance, and, according to some of our political economists, it would be a good thing if, without a violation of all the laws of humanity, we could put a thousand children to death at a time. Now he held a child to be a more valuable animal than an ass, and was for keeping our people at home. When a people became so numerous as not to be able to find subsistence at home, it was natural to look to foreign lands for their support; but we were not arrived at that state yet, as there was much land in England better, perhaps, than that which the people went abroad to cultivate, for them to be employed upon. It was, he repeated the embargo laid upon the land in the shape of taxation that rendered the employment of labour unprofitable in this country, and he wondered that the political economists in that House, who must be acquainted with the fact, had not once mentioned it.
§ Mr. Hume
was surprised at the assertion of the hon. Member; for he had himself complained of taxation as one of the main sources of the evils of the country till he was almost tired. It had, however, nothing to do with the question now before the House. He approved of the motion of the hon. member for Wolverhampton, because it involved the principles he much wished to see established, viz.—a parliamentary authority given to the proper mode of selling Crown-lands, and the appropriation of the produce to purposes advantageous to the colonists themselves. They had the testimony of the hon. member for Northamptonshire and the hon. member for Surrey in favour of the advantages 474 which were to be derived from relieving parishes of their surplus population; and it could not be doubted, that if the plan they had described had been generally followed, all the parishes in the country would have been in the same enviable situation as those which those hon. Members had alluded to. He was satisfied they ought to give every encouragement to emigration, particularly when he saw the manner in which it was opposed by the hon. member for Oldham. Joined with a reform of the Poor-laws, nothing could be more advantageous to the country. At the same time he should look with jealousy at any plan by which parishes could be led to mortgage their future incomes for the purpose of forwarding emigration; and this was the reason why he had felt disinclined to the wholesale plan of compulsory emigration proposed by a right hon. friend of his now at Ceylon. The Motion of the hon. member for Wolverhampton only aimed at a permissive emigration, but accompanied by encouragement, from the appropriation of the money received from the sale of land in the colonies. He saw no reason, however, why the advantages held out by the Motion should not be extended to artizans as well as agricultural labourers, and he hoped the Government, in adopting the principle of encouragement it contained, would not draw so unjust a line of distinction between the different classes of the country; but would give every man who could not find employment, whether artizan or agriculturist, the same advantages. He regretted very much, that the association which had been formed for the purpose of carrying into effect a system of emigration to Australia, and to which allusion had been made, had not yet been able to get into operation. If it had been at work a year ago, and its principles had been carried into full effect, other similar associations would have been formed, which would speedily have carried off all that part of our population which could not find profitable employment in England. The hon. member for Wilts had said, that labourers formed the wealth and strength of the country, and so they did as long as there was profitable employment for them; but the moment they became unable to support themselves, that moment they became a burthen upon the industry of others, and were a source of weakness instead of a source of strength.
warned the Government, and the Gentlemen connected with the landed interest, against a measure which they were told, was to have the same effect as letting the people have cheap corn from abroad. It would be as great an injury to the landed interest for the people, who ought to stop at home and eat the corn grown in this country, to go abroad and carry their capital with them, to grow food for themselves abroad, as it would be to let foreign corn come into the country. He hoped the Government would be upon its guard. Certainly the quarter from which the proposition came— he could not forget, that the hon. member for Wolverhampton was the great champion of the anti-Corn-law system—and the persons who supported it, were enough to make the gentlemen connected with land regard it with suspicion. He should, however, reserve what he had further to say upon the subject till the Motion was regularly before them, as he presumed the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion.
§ Mr. Ewart
said, that, in consequence of a petition which had been intrusted to him, and of the prayer of that petition, he would offer a suggestion to the right hon. Secretary for the Colonies. The petition he referred to emanated from a body of Scottish emigrants, who came for embarkation to the port of Liverpool, and who found themselves deceived respecting the vessel in which they were to embark. They prayed, that some superintending authority or tribunal might be appointed in the out-ports, for the purpose of giving assistance and information to persons about to emigrate.
said, that, after the ample discussion which the subject had undergone, he certainly should not press his Amendment to a division.
§ Mr. Cobbett
was greatly surprised to hear an hon. Member attribute the surplus population to the Poor-laws. There were no Poor-laws in Ireland; and would any man say, that there was no surplus population in that country? He could not but disapprove of the system of sending some of the best part of the agricultural labourers out of the country when the land was not half cultivated at home.
§ Lord Sandon
was glad his hon. friend had withdrawn his Amendment. He looked upon the next Amendment which had been proposed by the hon. member for Kent, as one of great importance. For 476 his own part, he did not think that any system of Poor-laws would prevent the influx of Irish labourers into this country. He meant, any system that was based on the principle for which Poor-laws were first established—namely, to support the sick, the aged, and the infirm. It was for this class alone that the Poor-laws were originally and properly designed. He confessed he was favourable to removing from this country those paupers who were a burthen to it, while they were themselves suffering the utmost want, and placing them in some of our colonial settlements, where they might enjoy comparative comfort. He should support the clause as it stood in the Bill.
said, that those who talked so much about the causes of the surplus population, as it was called, of Ireland, evidently knew nothing whatever about the real state of that country. Why, it was notorious, that more than one half of the land in Ireland was out of cultivation, and yet people talked of a surplus population. The apparent surplus population, for it was nothing else, and the bad consequences that followed, proceeded solely from the long-continued misgovernment and misrule under which that country laboured, and he was sorry to see that the present Government seemed as fresh to continue that misrule as if it had never been tried; but, thanks be to God, they would fail of success in this as in everything else.
§ Mr. Hodges
admitted, that in his own parish great benefit had resulted from emigration; but he had gone a particular way to work, and if every parish were to do the same, he should not object to the measure. He found out the number of men wanted to bring the land into the highest state of cultivation of which it was susceptible, and then he offered emigration to a certain number, who with their families accepted the offer, and went to the United States, and the rest were taken into employment. Wages rose in consequence, and those who went out were perfectly satisfied with their condition. But it was difficult to balance the demand and supply at all seasons of the year. He should press his Motion to a division, as he felt that it was a proposi- 477 tion which was but fair to all parties. The English labourer should have a clear field, and he then wanted no favour.
§ Mr. Poulett Scrope
could not vote for the Motion of the hon. member for Kent. He had himself a notice of motion on the book, that no able-bodied pauper should be compelled to lodge in a workhouse, unless he refused the offer of emigration free of expense. Though he was friendly to the introduction of Poor-laws into Ireland, he could not vote for the amendment with his Motion undisposed of.
§ The Committee divided on Mr. Hodges Amendment: Ayes 20; Noes 139—Majority 119.
§ The clause was agreed to.
|List of the AYES.|
|Attwood, T.||Parker, Sir H.|
|Beauclerk, Major||Richards, J.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Rider, T.|
|Blackstone, T. W.||Ruthven, E.|
|Brocklehurst, R.||Scholefield, J.|
|Cobbett, W.||Talbot, C. R.|
|Gully, J.||Tower, J.|
|Hodges, T.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Jacob, E.||Walter, J.|
|James, W.||Williams, Colonel|
§ On clause 62, which related to the mode of acquiring settlements, being read,
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he was aware it would scarcely be possible to propose any mode by which settlements in parishes were to be acquired, that might not be found liable to some objection. He was desirous, however, of reducing the grounds for such objections to as narrow a compass as possible, and not wishing, therefore, to embarrass the present Bill by the several clauses that related to this subject, he should propose certain alterations which he thought would have the effect of simplifying this part of the measure. He intended to propose, that all settlement by service and apprenticeship should for the future be abolished, but not meaning to interfere with any apprenticeship already in progress and that should be completed. Removing these two grounds of settlement would, he thought, in a great degree, do away with all obstruction to free labour. There would still, no doubt, be left some grounds for litigation, but this it would not be possible to avoid in any system that could be devised. There was another mode of settlement in which he also proposed to make an alteration. He meant that of 478 occupying a tenement. He intended to propose that no such tenement should entitle the occupier to a settlement, unless it was rated for a year previously at least. Without proposing any amendment, he would effect the object he had in view by moving that clauses 62, 63, 64, and 65, be omitted altogether, and that in clause 66 the words should be introduced "that from and after the passing of this Bill no settlement should be acquired by service or by apprenticeship."
§ Lord Granville Somerset
said, he should not now go into a discussion of the subject, involved in the clauses that had been withdrawn. He should only say, that he was very glad the noble Lord had withdrawn those clauses, because they were calculated to do much mischief. He wished only to ask the noble Lord two questions. First, whether in the settlement that was to be acquired by holding a tenement, the value of the tenement itself was to be taken into account, or was it only the rate that was paid on it? Would the payment of 1l. give a settlement, whatever might be the value of the tenement? His second question was, whether the noble Lord meant that the alteration he proposed, was not intended to disturb the right of any persons who were at present serving their apprenticeship? The alterations proposed by the noble Lord seemed to be of considerable importance, and, as it was very necessary that they should be fully and clearly understood, he thought it would be well if they were printed, in order that Members might have an opportunity of fairly considering them.
§ Lord Althorp
intended to propose, that all tenements from which settlements were to be derived, should be rated at least at 10l. There was a clause which an hon. Member intended to propose, to the effect that the landlord should pay all rates on tenements up to 10l. He should wish to see how this clause was disposed of, for if it should be carried, it would make some difference in the alterations he proposed. It certainly was not his intention to interfere with any rights that might belong to those who were now bound, and who might complete their apprenticeships. With respect to printing the alterations, he thought that quite unnecessary, as they were so very simple, there could be no difficulty in understanding them.
§ Clauses 62, 63, 64, and 65, were struck out.
§ Clause 66 with the Amendment proposed by Lord Althorp, was ordered to stand part of the Bill; as were clauses 69 and 68.
§ House resumed, the Committee to sit again