§ Sir R. Peel
asked what the particular question was? Did the hon. Member mean to ask whether the Government had stopped the local subscription?
§ Mr. Hume
said, that there had been a committee at Paisley, to raise and distribute subscriptions; and a paper he held in his hands stated that, in consequence of the orders of the Government, a commissioner had taken upon himself to give public money, and the subscription had been stopped. He asked whether a commissioner had been sent down by the Government, to supersede the committee in giving relief, and what was the nature of his instructions?
§ Sir R. Peel
replied, that there had been constant communications between the Government and the local authorities, during the whole period of the distress prevailing at Paisley and its neighbourhood—distress which he regretted to say was exceedingly severe, but which had been borne with great and commendable patience by the people. The Government had given every assistance to that committee, but they had not interfered with the subscriptions, till the local charity was altogether exhausted: and till they apprehended that the distribution of the local funds had not been conducted on the best possible principle. They thought it possible to give some assistance to the local authorities, by sending down a person who had watched the mode of relief as given to the poor in this country. For instance; one of the modes in which relief was granted, was by giving an order on the retail dealers in the town for provisions. It was clear that such a mode was very open to abuse, because it tended to make the retail dealers defer the period when relief should be no longer necessary. He thought it better that all the provisions distributed should be purchased by the committee. He had no hesitation in saying, that the person who had been sent down, and who had been connected with the commissariat department, had been enabled to make numerous economical suggestions, and to aid the local exertions. An appeal would shortly be made in the Church of Scotland similar to that which would be made in this country. He would take the opportunity of earnestly recommending the object of the subscription. The purport of it was to afford relief to the distress which prevailed in this country and in Scotland—a country 887 in which the provisions for the relief of the poor were very defective. In Burnley, Paisley, and other parts of the country the smallest contributions would tend to diminish the distress which unhappily prevailed to such an extent; and he could not but express a hope that the call of her Majesty would be generously responded to by all classes. With regard to the subscriptions for the sufferers by the late fire at Hamburg, he trusted that the natural, just, and honourable sympathy for foreigners in distress would not be checked, but at the same time he hoped that the contributions to that fund would not prevent parties from contributing also largely and liberally to the alleviation of the misery which existed in our own country. When her Majesty's Government had interfered, it was solely with the view of affording relief in the most economical and best manner.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that he hoped the House would not accede to such a motion Some temporary advances in consequence of the exhaustion of local funds had been made in favour of the inhabitants of Paisley, but the public would not suffer from such advances; they would be repaid out of the public subscription. He trusted that the House would not call upon the Government to make disclosures which could be productive of no benefit, and which could only uselessly interfere with the object which the Government had in view.
§ Mr. Hume
would on Monday bring the matter under the consideration of the House. In the mean time he begged to move that a humble Address be presented to her Majesty, praying for a copy of a letter addressed, by her command, on the 11th of May last, to the archbishop of Canterbury, recommending that collections should be made in the different churches throughout the country.
§ Colonel Conolly
disapproved of any interference on the part of that House with the course pursued by the Government. The subscription was of a private nature, and he could not see what the House had to do with it.
§ Mr. Gibson
asked whether any sums of money had been sent to any other places besides Paisley, and whether there was any objection to give an account of the places to which they had been sent, and the amounts?
§ Sir R. Peel
could not call to mind any other places to which sums had been sent. Nothing could produce a greater evil than the advance of public money, save in cases of extreme emergency. He could not admit that there should be any relief from the public funds; but if the funds of a place were in a state of extreme exhaustion, and a temporary advance was made, he should look for a repayment. He did not recollect that there was any other case where there had been any advance to a town except to Paisley, where the circumstances were very peculiar, and owing partly to the cessation of demand for the particular article of manufacture.
§ Mr. F. T. Baring
trusted that the House would not press for the return; but where there was an advance of sixpence from the public funds, the House had a right to know what became of it; it was a matter of discretion whether they would call for it, but they had a perfect right to every information.
§ Address for a copy of the Queen's letter agreed to.