§ Mr. C. Buller
spoke as follows:* Sir, I can not enter upon the subject which I have undertaken to bring before the House to night, without asking its indulgence on the ground of the unfeignedly painful consciousness which I have of my very small personal claim to attention, and of my utter inability to do justice to the magnitude of my subject. It would be most unjust to the House were I to allow it to be supposed that the grave and difficult nature of the question which I propose to bring before it, and its want of connection with party feelings and party interests, will at all indispose it to yield me its kind and patient attention, I must say, in justice to the present House of Commons, with the majority of which I have seldom the happiness of voting, that however I may deplore the violence of party spirit to which we occasionally give way, I never sat in any Parliament which has shown itself so conscious of the deteriorating character of our party strifes, and so desirous to make amends for its indulgence in them by every now and then giving a calm attention to matters of public concern, beyond and above the low domain* From a corrected report.485 of party. If it were not so, indeed, we should be culpable beyond our predecessor. For these, in truth, are times in which the most thoughtless can hardly fail, every now and then, to have a suspicion that the events that are passing around us, and in which we bear a part, involve consequences of wider scope and greater moment than the interests of political rivalry. Amid the very clash and tumult of party strife in which we, like those who have gone before us, are too apt to concentrate our energies and thoughts, we cannot help being, every now and then, conscious of such heavings of the soil on which we tread as to compel us to believe that around us are fearful agencies at work that threaten the solidity of the very framework of society. We have of late had warning enough of the necessity of looking to the material condition of the country, from the existence of distress of an unusual extent, duration, and severity. Owing, too, to inquiries which we never had the wisdom or the boldness to make before, we are now in possession of a fearful knowledge of the moral and intellectual state of the great masses of our people. And from such events as the disturbances of last year, we know well what effects physical distress and moral neglect have combined to pro-dues in the temper of the masses, and how terrible is the risk to which we are exposed from this settled, though happily as yet undisciplined disaffection? With such matters as these fresh in our memories, and reflected in our apprehensions, we should, indeed, be possessed by some judicial madness were we to take no thought of the condition of the people, or to dismiss from our consideration any schemes suggested with a view of bettering it, until we had proved their insufficiency, or exhausted their efficacy. I do not believe, however, that there ever took place in the House a debate calculated to fill the public mind with such despair as that which was raised by my noble Friend, the Member for Sunderland, when he brought forward his motion on the distress of the country, in a speech showing so accurate and comprehensive a knowledge of the state of the country, and so wise an appreciation of the immediate remedy, that I cannot but regret that he has left me anything to do which might legitimately have been made a part of his remedial plan. For what was the result of 486 that debate? An universal agreement as to the existence, and even the intensity of the mischief—an entire disagreement as to the remedies proposed. No one ventured on that occasion to deny the fact of very severe distress; but, at the same time, whatever measure was proposed for the relief of it was negatived by a majority which proposed no remedy of its own. The view which I take of the existing evil, and of the appropriate remedy, would so much more be obscured than strengthened by any exaggeration, that I must guard myself against being supposed to represent the difficulties of the country as either unparalleled or desperate. It admits of no doubt, that even after so long and severe a distress as that which has for many years hung over every class and interest in the empire, we are actually a richer people, with more of accumulated wealth, more of the capital of future commerce, than we ever possessed at a former period, But still, without any exaggeration—without believing that our resources are less than they used to be—without desponding for the future, it cannot be denied that this is a period in which wealth, though actually greater, is growing at a less rapid rate wan before—that it is a period of depression and stagnation—that a smaller amount of useful and profitable enterprises are being carried on now than five or six years ago—that there is less employment for capital, and that business brings in smaller profits—that there are more people out of employment, and that the wages of those who are employed are less than they used to be. The great increase of poor-rates within the last year or two, owing to no disposition to relax the administration of the law, is an unequivocal proof of suffering in the labouring class; and the falling-off of the revenue from customs, excise, stamps, and taxes, furnishes as undeniable evidence of a diminution of the comforts of the people; and though there is not the slightest ground for fearing ruin as a nation, there is evidently an amount of individual suffering, so wide and so severe, that we cannot contemplate its existence without pain, nor its prolonged duration without alarm. There is no denying that the present distress is not that of any simple class interest, or branch of industry. It can therefore be the result of no partial cause. And it has lasted so long, that there is no ground for attributing it to 487 temporary causes, or hoping that it may cease when they shall have ceased to operate. I do not deny the influence of temporary causes in producing the present very severe distress. I admit, with Gentlemen opposite, that successive bad harvests, wars, unsettled commercial relations, the monetary and commercial derangements of other countries, particularly the United States, and an undue impulse to speculation, together with the consequent disastrous reaction, have undoubtedly combined to disturb our commerce; and I think it impossible to deny that, had these causes not been in operation, the distress which we lament would have been different in character and in intensity. But, on the other hand, I do not think that it has been shown that the operation of these temporary causes can be taken as a satisfactory solution of the whole of our distress. I think it clear that, besides these, there have been at work more permanent causes of distress; and that, in fact, the temporary causes are but forms in which the permanent evils of our state have exhibited themselves. For instance, much of the distress has been ascribed to over-production. It has been asserted, that during the entire period of distress, with falling prices and markets becoming, day by day, flatter and flatter, this insane energy of over-production went on building more mills, multiplying fresh powers of machinery, and adding fresh heaps to the pre-existing accumulations of unsaleable wares. To a certain extent there is, I fear, too much reason to admit this account of the history of our trade, and to believe that even after the long period of distress which we have gone through, it is too probable that—instead of relief being afforded in the most obvious manner, namely, by low prices having diminished production, and the supply of our goods having, therefore, been reduced to an equality with the demand,—production having, in fact, gone on under the pressure of low prices, the supply of many kinds of goods is now almost, if not quite, as redundant as ever. But I cannot understand how this can be regarded as a full explanation of the origin of the distress. The alleged over-production may have laid the foundation for a greater future distress; but I cannot conceive how it can be made out, under the circumstances in which it occurred, that distress would have been avoided, had over-pro- 488 duction not taken place. Can it be alleged that, during this period of over production, capital or labour were with drawn from their ordinary occupations? Did any trade or enterprise of any kind suffer from the diversion of capital into channels in which more than ordinary profits were expected? Was the overproduction carried on by means of capital borrowed from foreigners? Were the labourers taken from the fields, or the ordinary business of trade, to work in the cotton-mills? Or were foreign labourers imported into this country to supply the scarcity of English hands? Why, it is notorious that, during the last two or three years, we were lending money to the foreigner; that there has been a considerable emigration of labourers; that after all this, and all the over-production of which you speak, there never was so much money lying idle; and that our work houses were getting crowded with able-bodied men, who could not get employment. If the mills, of which so much complaint is made, had not been kept in activity, the money which was required to work them would have been brought into a previously overcrowded money market; and the labourers whom they employed would have been so many more inmates of the workhouses. Is it not clear, then, that the over-production which is spoken of, however it may possibly aggravate future distress, has, in fact, only given a precarious, may be, ultimately, a mischievous employment; but still an employment which would not otherwise have been afforded to English capital and labour? If there had been no over-production, there would have been distress—different, perhaps, in form and in results—but still distress; for there would have been an additional amount of capital and labour unemployed. Your temporary cause, in this instance, instead of solving the whole problem, points us merely to permanent causes, which must be comprehended and removed ere we can hope to remove the sufferings of the people. That you cannot explain the existing distress by temporary causes alone, is evident from the state of things in another country, in which these causes have operated in an even greater degree than here, without producing anything like the suffering which has been felt here. Whatever shocks our trade has experienced during the last few years, no one can com- 489 pare them for severity with those which have been felt in the United States. Since 1836, the history of the trade of the United States has consisted of a series of crises, with intervals of stagnation.I doubt," (says Mr. Everett, in the wise and feeling answer which he recently made to a deputation of holders of State Stock); "I doubt, if in the history of the world, in so short a period such a transition has been made from a state of high prosperity to one of general distress, as in the United States, within the last six years.And yet, has there been there any of what we should call distress among the quiet traders and artizans? of any inability to employ capital with ordinary profit? Or any general want of employment for labour? Of any great depression of wages? Or any thing which we should call the extreme of destitution? Have even the unscrupulous demagogues of their hustings or their press ventured to describe such sad scenes as those which official inspection as shown to have been but too frequent at Bolton and Stockport? Have you heard in that country of human beings living huddled together in defiance of comfort, of shame, and of health, in garrets and in cellars, and in the same hovels with their pigs? Have you heard of large and sudden calls on the bounty of individuals, of parishes, or of the government? Of workhouses crowded? Of even the gaol resorted to for shelter and maintenance? Of human beings prevented from actually dying of starvation in the open streets, or of others allowed to expire from inanition in the obscurity of their own dwelling-places? The plain fact is, that though hundreds of enterprises have failed, and enormous amounts of capital have been sacrificed, and credit has been paralysed, and hundreds that were wealthy at sunrise have been beggars ere the same sun was set, and thousands have been suddenly deprived of the work and wages of the day before, yet capital and labour have never failed to find immediate employment in that boundless field. That fearful storm has passed over the United States, leaving marks of tremendous havoc on its credit and wealth and progress; but the condition of the masses has never been substantially affected. How comes it that these temporary causes, which produce so frightful an amount of distress in England, do not, when acting with double and treble violence in the United States, 490 produce a tithe of the suffering? Does it not show that in this country the real mischief lies deep, and is ever at work? And that the temporary causes to which you ascribe temporary distress are of such fearful efficacy only because they aggravate the effects of causes permanently depressing the condition of the people. I think, Sir, that we cannot contemplate the condition of this country without coming to the conclusion that there is a permanent cause of suffering in the constant accumulation of capital, and the constant increase of population within the same restricted field of employment. Every year adds its profits to the amount of capital previously accumulated; and certainly leaves the population considerably larger at its close than it was at its commencement. This fresh amount both of capital and population have to be employed; and if no further space for their employment be provided, they must compete for a share of the previous amount of profits and wages. The tendency of this cause to reduce both profits and wages is undoubtedly counteracted by what has fortunately been the still greater tendency of increased demand from foreign countries, of discoveries of fresh products of nature, and of improvements in various processes of art, especially in agriculture, to enlarge the field of employment; so that, in fact, the condition of the great mass of our countrymen has, as regards mere physical circumstances, indisputably gone on improving from century to century since the Norman conquest. But it is as indisputable that this enlargement of the field of employment, though in the long run greater, is not so steady as the growth of capital and population; and that during the intervals that elapse ere fresh employment is found, competition, in a restricted field, oftentimes reduces both wages and profits, and occasions periods of distress. In this country, since the peace, there has been an immense accumulation of capital, of which great part has, no doubt, been turned to excellent account in extending our trade and manufactures; in improving our agriculture; in covering the country with public works and private dwellings; and in bringing within reach of the humblest of our people comforts which formerly only the wealthy could command. But, over and above this, there has been a further accumulation of capital for which no profitable employment could be found; 491 and which has consequently been thrown away in the most unsafe investments—lent to every government that chose to ask us for loans—sunk in South American mines, or fooled away in the bubble speculations of the day. In loans to foreign countries, I have heard that a sum so large has been sunk that I fear to repeat it; and of this a great part may be regarded as absolutely lost, owing to the dishonesty of the debtor states. Such speculations are the inevitable result of an accumulation of capital, which there are no means of investing with profit; and of course the failure of such speculations narrows the field of employment still more, by producing a general unwillingness to embark even in safe enterprises. We are now in one of those periods of stagnation of trade, while millions by which it could be profitably carried on are lying idle in the coffers of our capitalists. The general complaint is that no man can find a safe, and at the same time profitable investment for money; that the rate of interest on private security is lower than it was ever known; that the price of public securities keeps rising—not because the country is prosperous—but because the universal stagnation and want of confidence prevent men from investing their savings in any other way; that the profits of business also are very low; and that every kind of business is more and more passing into the hands of great capitalists, because they can afford, on their large amounts, to be content with a rate of profit, at which the smaller capital would not produce a livelihood. This state of things is the result of having more capital than you can employ with profit; and the cry of distress to which it gives rise will continue as long as capital continues to accumulate in a restricted field. No one will question the fact that there is a most severe competition among labourers: that from the highest to the lowest occupation of human industry, almost every one is habitually overstocked; that in all there is the utmost difficulty of getting employment; and that the gains of some, if not of every class, are diminished by the competition of redundant labour. The liberal professions are more overstocked than any others. Gentlemen of the first station and fortune find a difficulty in knowing what to do with their younger sons; and you hear every day of the sons of gentlemen entering into occupations from which their 492 pride in former times debarred them. Among the middle classes you hear the same complaints. There is the same intense competition amongst tradesmen, and notoriously a most severe competition amongst fanners. And the competition of educated men is nothing in comparison with the severity of that competition which exists amongst educated women, who are, unhappily, compelled to maintain themselves by their own exertions in that very limitted range of employments in which our manners allow them to en gage. The extent of the competition for employment among those who have nothing to depend upon but mere manual labour unhappily admits of easy and certain proof, by a reference to the broad and indisputable conclusions forced on us by statistical accounts. Since 1810 more than 6,000,000 have been added to the population of Great Britain; and for all this additional population agriculture has not supplied any, or hardly any, additional employment. Yet the condition of our agricultural labourers is anything but such as we could wish. In the course of the violent recrimination which Anti-Corn-law lecturers and farmers' friends have been lately carrying on, we have heard fearful accounts of the deplorable physical condition of the agricultural labourers—their low wages, their wretched habitations—their scanty food, bad clothing, and want of fuel. On the other hand, we have had held up to us the habitual privations to which the labourers in various trades and manufactures are subject. The perpetual strikes in various trades—the long-continued misery of such a class as the hand-loom weavers—then the dreadful facts laid open by the inquiries put in motion by the Poor-law Commissioners, and by the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, respecting the unremitting and unwholesome labour carried on in many trades—the wretched poverty, precarious existence, and mental abasesent of vast bodies of our artisans—above all, the miserable and degrading occupations to which a large portion of our population is condemned to resort, are proofs of a constant pressure of the population employed in trade and manufactures upon the means of subsistence which they afford. Look at the accounts of thousands of men, women, and children congregated together without any regard to decency or comfort in noisome sites and wretched 493 hovels—of those who wear out their lives is the darkness of coal and iron mines, doing what is commonly considered the work of brutes, in a moral and intellectual state hardly raised above that of the mere animal—of the shirt-makers, who get 10d for making a dozen shirts; and of the 15,000 milliners in this metropolis, habitually working for the scantiest wages, in close rooms, always for thirteen or fourteen hours a day, sometimes for days and nights together, nine out of ten losing their health in the occupation, and scores of them falling victims to consumption, or rendered incurably blind whenever a court mourning, or any festivity of particular magnitude tasks their powers more than usual. These are all consequences of the one leading fact, that every year that rolls over our heads brings an addition of 300,000 to the population of Great Britain and that unless in proportion to the in crease of population there is a simultaneous increase of employment—unless fresh work be found for as many pair of hands as there are fresh mouths to feed, the condition of our population must sink, and there must be acute suffering. In Ireland the condition of the people is at all times more uneasy; in any crisis, their sufferings infinitely more horrible. Can this be wondered at, when we know, on the highest official authority, that in that part of the United Kingdom there are more than 2,000,000 of persons always in distress for thirty weeks in the year from want of employment. It is this constant swelling of population and capital up to the very brim of the cup that is the permanent cause of uneasiness and danger in this country; and this that makes the ordinary vicissitudes of commerce fraught with such intense misery to our population. When our condition in ordinary times is that of just having employment sufficient for our capital and population, any check to the necessary increase of employment, much more any defalcation of the ordinary sources, must be attended with absolute destitution to that large proportion of our people who can save nothing from their daily earnings, and who, if they chance to lose their present occupation, can find no other to turn to. Contrast this with the state of America. I dare say some Gentlemen may smile when I remind then of Mr. Dickens's account of the factory girls at Lowell, and their joint-stock piano-forte, and their circulating library, 494 and the 'Lowell Offering' to which they contributed the effusions of their fancy. But he must be heartless indeed who would feel no other emotions than those of ridicule, when he contrasts with the condition of our poor operatives the degree of education, the leisure, and the pecuniary means which are indicated by the possibility of having such amusements. Why, of all these Lowell girls there is hardly one that, besides all her actual comforts, has not saved more or less of money, and who, if the factory were to fail and be broken up to-morrow, and its 20,000 workpeople discharged at an hour's notice, would not be able to fall back on those savings, and would not either find immediate employment, or, as they are generally daughters of respectable farmers, or rather yeomen, be able to return to a comfortable home, from which her parents had very reluctantly spared her assistance in domestic labours. But when such failures happen in this country the blow must, from the necessity of the case, fall for the most part on labourers, who have saved little or nothing, find no new employment open to them, and if, they return home, do so only to share want with their families, or to bring that family with themselves, on the parish. Hence that extreme misery which follows in this country on any sudden cessation of a particular employment; for instance, the horrible destitution in the Highlands, to which our attention was called two or three years since by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, and which arose from the substitution of barilla for kelp in our manufactures, and the sudden stoppage of the herring fishery. Hence comes that intense suffering which presses on particular localities when the course of events changes the sites of particular trades, as when the silk manufacture moved from Spitalfields to the north, or the woollen manufactures passed from Wiltshire and Somersetshire to Yorkshire. Hence the temporary sufferings that ensue to large classes of labourers and artisans when some change of fashion, or other accident deprives them even for a while of the usual demand for their labour; and hence the more permanent and entire distress envelopes those whose particular employment is every now and then superseded by some invention of machinery most useful to the public at large, but utterly ruinous to those whom it displaces. And hence it is that 495 causes which hardly exercise a visible effect on the labouring population of the United States, involve large bodies of ours in the most intense suffering. There the labour and capital which are displaced from one employment find every other deficient in both, and are immediately absorbed in them, to the great advantage of the community. Here they are thrown back upon other employments all previously overstocked, and hang dead weights on the productive industry of the country. And the same considerations will enable us to account for the perplexing and contradictory phenomena of our present condition, and show us how it happens that we hear a cry of stagnation of business, of want of employment, and extreme destitution throughout the industrious classes, at the same time that we see around us the most incontestable evidences of vast wealth rapidly augmenting; how it is that in this country there are seen side by side, in fearful and unnatural contrast, the greatest amount of opulence, and the most appalling mass of misery—how it is that the people of this country appear, when contemplated at one and the same time, from different points of view, to be the richest and the neediest people in the world. When I speak of distress and suffering among the industrious classes of this country, I must guard against being supposed to mean that I regard their physical condition as worse than it used to be. Taking the condition of the whole people of Great Britain for periods of eight or ten years at a time, I feel little doubt that as far as external causes go, they are, on the whole, better off than they used to be. But even these assertions of a general improvement in the external condition of the people must be qualified by the admission, that there appears to be a class positively more, though comparatively less numerous, which suffers fearfully; and that the rear of the community, in the present day, seems to lag further behind, both morally and physically than it used to do of old. I doubt whether there ever before was in this country such a mass of such intense physical suffering and moral degradation as is to be found in this metropolis, in the cellars and garrets of Liverpool and Manchester, and in the yet more wretched alleys of Glasgow; and I have very little doubt that there never before prevailed in any portion of our population, vice so habitual and so gross as is 496 there to be found. The general comfort, of the great body is increased but so also is the misery of the most wretched. We witness constantly more of the extreme of suffering; we have a positively larger number of the dangerous classes in the country. I cannot but think, too, that the condition of the productive classes is more precarious than it used to be, and that great bodies of them run more frequent risk of sudden and total destitution than they used to do. It is obvious that this must be a consequence of that extreme subdivision of employment which is one of the results of increasing civilization. The more you confine the workman to one particular process or occupation, the more exposed you are to the sudden and complete displacement of the persons so employed by some improvement or change of fashion, or other cause that dispenses with their services. But it is a perfectly different kind of change in our working people which induces me to regard the occurrence of periods of extreme distress as both far more afflicting to themselves and dangerous to others, than it used to be. What matters it that the scourge be no heavier, or even that it be somewhat lighter, if the back of the sufferer be more sensitive? and what avails it that the external condition of our people is somewhat improved, if they feel the less evils which they have to bear now, more acutely than they used to feel the greater which they submitted to once? That they do so is obvious to any one who listens to them; that they must do so is in the very nature of things. For whatever may be the increase of enjoyments among our people, it is obvious that the standard of comfort has increased much more rapidly. Every class, when in full employment, commands a far greater amount of enjoyments than it used, and consequently every member of that class is accustomed to regard as necessary to a comfortable existence—to consider as a kind of rights, what his predecessor would have looked upon as luxuries which nothing but singular good luck could place in his way. Each class is now cognizant of the habits of those which are above it, and the appetites of the poor are constantly sharpened by seeing the enjoyments of the rich paraded before them. And, as the enjoyments of the prosperous, so are the sufferings of the distressed, better known to all than 497 they used to be. The horrible details given in the reports to which I have had occasion to refer, reveal certainly no worse state of things than has for ages been going on in crowded cities, in poor villages, in unwholesome factories, and in the bowels of the earth. On the contrary, it seems clear, from the unvarying testimony of all witnesses, that in almost every particular, bad as these things are, they were worse formerly. But then, formerly, no one knew of them. Now, zealous humanity, now, statesman-like courage, that does not shrink from investigating and exposing the full extent of our social ills, in order to ascertain the extent of the remedy that must be provided, searches out the unknown misery, drags suffering and degradation from their hiding-places, and harrows up the public mind with a knowledge of the disorders to which we used to shut our eyes. Thus the very improvements that have taken place make lesser distresses more intolerable than greater used to be; the general elevation of the standard of comfort makes each man feel privations, to which he would have been insensible before. The increase of information respecting passing events diffuses over the entire mass a sense of sufferings which were formerly felt by few but the actual sufferers; and the irritation thus created is heightened by the contrast of luxuries, which wealth never could command before, and by a disparity between the case of the rich and the want of the poor, such as no previous state of things ever presented. It is idle, then, when we are discussing distress to make it a matter of statistical comparison between the present and other days, and to think we disprove the reasonableness of complaint, by showing that men used to complain less, when they had less of the external means of enjoyment. Men do not regulate their feelings by such comparisons. It is by what they feel that you must measure the extent of their suffering; and if they now feel more acutely than they did the pressure of such occasional distress as has always been their lot, we must be more than ever on our guard to better the general condition of the people, and to prevent the occurrence of these periods of extreme suffering. If humanity did not induce us to do our utmost for this object, a mere politic view of our own interests would compel us; for depend upon it that the people of this 498 country will not bear what they used; and that every one of these periods of distress is fraught with increasingly dangerous effects on the popular temper, and with increasing peril to the interests of property and order. And if you mean to keep government or society together in this country, you must do something to render the condition of the people less uneasy and precarious than it now is. I speak plainly, because nothing but harm seems to me to result from the habit which we have of concealing the apprehensions, which no man of reflection can contemplate the future without entertaining. We are beginning to know some thing of our own people; and can we contemplate the state of things laid open to us, without wonder that we have stood so long with safety on this volcanic soil? Does any one suppose that we can tread it safely for ever? I need not detail to you the dangerous doctrines that circulate among the people, or the wild visions of political and social change which form the creed of millions. Such creeds are ever engendered by partial knowledge acting on general ignorance. Circulating undisturbed among the masses, they start forth into action only when distress arrays those masses in disaffection to the law. It should be the business of a wise and benevolent Government to dispel such evil dispositions by enlightening its people, and diffusing among them the influence of religion and knowledge; but it should also be its care to prevent the existence of that distress, which irritates the existing ignorance of the people. While, therefore, I go heartily along with the noble Lord, the Member for Dorsetshire, and others, who grapple with the general ignorance as the giant evil that oppresses the country; while I feel convinced, that never again can the Government of this country rest securely on any other support than that afforded by the general diffusion of sound instruction among the subjects; and while I look to education as the great remedy on which we must rely for removing the evils of our condition, I still say that simultaneous with our efforts for this purpose must be some efforts to better the physical condition of the people. Without relieving them from the pressure of want and the undue toil, which is now often required from them, you will in vain proffer the blessings of a higher moral state to those who can give no thought to 499 anything but the supply of their physical wants. You will always be liable to have your most benevolent and sagacious plans thwarted by some outbreak, of which the watchword shall be, like the simple and expressive cry of the insurgents of last summer—"A fair day's wages for a fair day's work." This must be secured to honest industry ere there can be contentment among the people, or any basis for operations directed to their moral good. This you must secure for them, let me tell you, if you wish to retain your own great advantages of position and property: if you mean to uphold and transmit to your children those institutions, through which you have enjoyed at once the blessings of freedom and order: if you hope to escape the tremendous wrath of a people whom force will vainly attempt to restrain, when they have utterly lost all reliance on your power or inclination to care for their well-being. Some improvement of their condition you must secure for the people, and you must secure it before long. But that you never will do until, by laying open a wider field of employment, you can succeed in diminishing that terrible competition of capital with capital and labour with labour, which is the permanent cause of distress. It is with this view that I propose that you should investigate the efficacy of colonization, as a remedy against the distress of the country. I say as a remedy, because I do not bring it forward as a panacea—as the only, as an infallible, remedy for every ill—but as one among many remedies, which would be valuable, even if they could not go the length of entirely removing distress, pro vided they enabled us to render its recurrence less frequent, its operation less in tense, and its pressure less severe. I say distinctly that you will not effect your purpose of permanently and fully bettering the condition of the people, unless you apply a variety of remedies directed to the various disorders of their present state. But confining myself to the economical evil that arises solely from that one cause, of which I have laboured to describe the operation, namely, the competition both of capital and labour in a restrictive field, I propose colonization as a means of remedying that evil by enlarging the field of employment. With other remedies of an economical nature, that have many advocates in this House and in the country, I come into no collision: 500 because the mode in which they propose to attack the evil is not that of enlarging the field of employment. Some Gentlemen urge the relaxation of the new Poor-law as a measure of justice to the labouring class; while others, with the same view, insist on a rigid execution of its pro visions. But the question of the administration of the Poor-law is obviously a question relating merely to the distribution of the existing produce of the country, and can have no direct connexion with that of increasing its amount. Another remedy was proposed the other night, which is certainly more akin in character to the one that I urge—namely, the allotment of small pieces of land among the labouring class. But this I shall not now discuss, because the matter was disposed of the other night by an apparently general concurrence in what I regard as the sound view of the allotment system; and that is, that it may be made of great utility to a large portion of the labouring class, if had recourse to only as a means of supplying additional comforts and occasional independence to labourers, whose main reliance is on wages; but that it would entail the greatest curse on our labouring population, if they were ever brought to regard the cultivation of small allotments as their principal means of subsistence. There is, however, one remedy suggested for the relief of distress, which proposes to effect its end in the same manner as that which I advocate, namely, by opening a wider field of employment to the labour and capital of the country. This it is proposed to do by freely admitting the produce of foreign countries; supporting our labourers by all the additional supplies of food which we can draw from abroad; and exchanging for that food and other produce the manufactures wrought by the labourers who subsist on that imported food. Sir, in the principles and objects of the friends of Free-trade I fully concur. I not only think that we ought to do what they propose, but I am ready to admit that the first and most simple and most effectual mode of enlarging the field of employment is by trading on the freest terms with all the existing markets in the world. I propose colonization as subsidiary to Free-trade; as an additional mode of carrying out the same principles, and attaining the same object. You advocates of Free-trade wish to bring food to the people. I suggest to you at 501 the same time to take your people to the food. You wish to get fresh markets by removing the barriers which now keep you from those that exist throughout the world. I call upon you, in addition, to get fresh markets, by calling them into existence in parts of the world which might be made to teem with valuable customers. You represent Free-trade as no merely temporary relief for the distresses of our actual population, but as furnishing outlet of continually extending commerce to the labour of our population, whatever its increase may be. In these anticipations I felly concur; and I would carry out the same principle, and attempt to make yet more use or these blessed results, by also planting population and capital in the vast untenanted regions of our colonies; and calling into existence markets, which, like those now in being, would go on continually extending the means of employing an increasing population at home. I meat not, therefore, be understood to propose colonization as a substitute for Free-trade. I do not vaunt its efficacy as superior; indeed I admit that its efficacy in extending employment must be slower. But, on the other hand, it will probably be surer; and will be liable to no such interruptions from the caprice of others, as trade with foreign nations must always be subject to. I grant that the restrictive policy of other nations is, in great measure, to be ascribed to the influence of our example; and I am inclined to concur in the hope that the relaxation of our commercial system will be the signal for freedom of trade in many other countries. But still we are not sure how soon this effect may be produced; how long an experience may be required to convince our neighbours of the injurious operation of monopoly; or how soon or bow often the policy of protection may reappear in some shape or other, whether finding favour with the fantastic minds of statesmen, or the capricious feelings of nations, or dictated by political views totally independent of merely economical considerations. But of the legislature of your own colonies—of the fiscal policy of the different portions of your own empire—you can always make sure, and may rely upon being met by no hostile tariffs on their part. The commerce of the world is narrowed now not only by our own legislation, but by that of other powers; the influence of restrictive views ex- 502 tending and acquiring strength among them. Within the last few years no less than eight hostile tariffs have been passed against us, more or less narrowing the demand for our manufactures. I say, then, that in the present day the restrictive policy of other nations must enter into our consideration as an element, and no unimportant element, of commercial policy; and, though I advise you to set the example of free trade to others, and ex tend your intercourse with them to the very utmost, still at the same time take care to be continually creating and enlarging those markets which are under the control of no legislation but your own. Show the world that, if the game of restriction is to be played, no country can play it with such effect and such impunity as Great Britain, which, from the outlying portions of her mighty empire, can command the riches of every zone and every soil and every sea that the earth contains; and can draw, with unstinted measure, the means of every luxury and the material of every manufacture that the combined extent of other realms can supply. This we have done, or can do, by placing our own people in different portions of Our own dominions; secure that, while they remain subjects of the same empire, no hostile tariff can by possibility exclude us from their markets; and equally secure that, whenever they shall have outgrown the state of colonial dependence, and nominally or practically asserted, as they will do, a right to legislate for themselves, our hold on their markets will be retained by that taste for our manufactures which must result from long habit, and by that similarity of customs and wants which kindred nations are sure to have. Under these impressions I direct your attention to colonisation as a means, I should say not merely of relieving distress, but of preventing its recurrence, by augmenting the resources of the empire and the employment of the people. The suggestion of this remedy appears to be the simple re suit of the view of the evil, which I have described as the permanent cause of distress in this country. Here we have capital that can obtain no profitable employment; labour equally kept out from employment by the competition of labour sufficient for the existing demand; and an utter inability to find any fresh employment in which that unemployed capital can be turned to account by setting that 503 unemployed labour in motion. In your colonies, on the other band, you have vast tracts of the most fertile land wanting only capital and labour to cover them with abundant harvests; and, from want of that capital and labour, wasting their productive energies in nourishing weeds, or, at best, in giving shelter and sustenance to beasts. When I ask you to colonize, what do I ask you to do but to carry the superfluity of one part of our country to repair the deficiency of the other: to cultivate the desert by applying to it the means that lie idle here:—in one simple word, to convey the plough to the field, the workman to his work, the hungry to his food? This, Sir, is the view that common sense suggests of the primary benefits of colonization. When Abraham found that the land could not support both him and Lot, "because their sub stance was so great," his simple proposal was, that they should separate, and one take the right hand and the other the left. The same view, as well as the sad necessities of civil strife, prompted the Greeks and Phœnicians to colonize. When the youth of the city could find no land to cultivate in the narrow precincts of its territory, they banded together, crossed the sea, established themselves in some vacant haven, and thus at length studded the shores of the Mediterranean with cities and civilization. And in later times this has been the simple and obvious view that the pressure of population on the means of subsistence has suggested to the advocates of emigration in this country. A vast number of persons capable of working can find no employment here. Their competition beats down wages; but, when wages have been reduced to the utmost, there are still superfluous labourers, who can get no employment, and who must either starve or depend on charity. A number of the latter are induced to emigrate, and are established in Canada or Australia, at the cost, at the outside, of one year's subsistence in the workhouse. By their absence, the poor-rate is immediately relieved: if the emigration be sufficiently extensive, the due relation between employment and labour is restored, and the wages of those who remain at home are raised, while at the same time the emigrant exchanges a life of precarious dependence and squalid misery for plenty and case in his new home. If this were all the good that could result 504 from the change, it would still be a great gain. I know that it would require a great effort to remove so large a proportion of our population as materially to affect the labour market. At the end of every year, the population of Great Britain is at least 300,000 more than it was at the beginning. With the best imaginable selection of emigrants, you would have to take out at least 200,000 persons every year, in order to keep your population stationary; and even such an emigration would not be sufficient, because the momentary withdrawal of labour would give an impulse to population, and ere long supply the vacuum thus created. Still, even with these limited results in view, I should say it would be most desirable that emigration should be carried on, and on a large scale, were it only that we might at any rate turn a large number of our people from wretched paupers into thriving colonists; that we might enable them to transmit those blessings to a posterity which they could not rear at home; and that the mere temporary relief—which is, I admit, all that could result from a sudden reduction of numbers—might be made use of for a breathing-time, in which other remedies for the condition of the people might be applied with better chance of success than it would be possible to expect under the actual pressure of redundant numbers. But the whole, nay, the main advantage of colonization, is not secured by that mere removal of the labourer from the crowded mother country, which is all that has been generally implied by the term emigration. His absence is only the first relief which he affords you. You take him hence to place him on a fertile soil, from which a very small amount of his labour will suffice to raise the food which he wants. He soon finds that by applying his spare time and energies to raising additional food, or some article of trade or material of manufacture, he can obtain that which he can exchange for luxuries of which he never dreamed at home. He raises some article of export, and appears in your market as a customer. He who a few years ago added nothing to the wealth of the country, but, receiving all from charity, simply deducted the amount of food and clothing necessary for existence and decency from the general stock of the community—he, by being conveyed to a new country, not only ceases to trench upon the labour of 505 others, but comes, after providing his own food, to purchase from you a better quality and larger quantity of the clothing and other manufactures which he used to take as a dole, and to give employment and offer food to those on whose energies he was a burthen before. Imagine in some village a couple of young married men, of whom one has been brought up as a weaver, and the other as a farm-labourer, but both of whom are unable to get work. Both are in the workhouse; and the spade of the one and the loom of the other are equally idle. For the maintenance of these two men and their families, the parish is probably taxed to the amount of 40l. a year. The farm-labourer and his family get a passage to Australia or Canada; perhaps the other farm-labourers of the parish were immediately able to make a better bargain with their master, and get somewhat better wages; but, at any rate, the parish gains 20l. a-year by being relieved from one of the two pauper families. The emigrant gets good employment; after providing himself with food in abundance, he finds that he has therewithal to bay him a good coat, instead of the smock-frock he used to wear, and to supply his children with decent clothing, instead of letting them run about in rags. He sends home an order for a good quantity of broad cloth; and this order actually sets the loom of his fellow-pauper to work, and takes him, or helps to take him, out of the workhouse. Thus the emigration of one man relieves the parish of two paupers, and furnishes employment not only for one man, but for two men. It seems a paradox to assert that, removing a portion of your population enables a country to support more inhabitants than it could before; and that the place of every man who quits his country because he cannot get a subsistence, may speedily be filled up by another whom that very removal will enable to subsist there in comfort. But the assertion is as true as it is strange. Nay, the history of colonies will show that this theoretical inference suggests results which fall inconceivably short of the wonders which have been realized in fact; and that we may fairly say, that the emigration of Englishmen to our colonies has, in the course of time, enabled hundreds to exist in comfort for every one who was formerly compelled to quit his country. The settlement of the United States was 506 originally effected by a few handsful of Europeans. Deducting those who perished in the hardships of early settlement, and those who were not of an age or kind to add to the population, the original stock of European emigrants, from whom the present population of the United States are derived, must have been a very small number. This fraction has now swelled to no less a number than thirteen or fourteen millions of white people. If the United States had never been settled and our emigrants had stayed at home, do you think it possible that the population of the United Kingdom would have been larger by thirteen or fourteen millions than it now is?—that we should have had and maintained in as good a state as now forty millions of people within these islands? Is there any reason for supposing that we should now have had any additional means of supporting the addition of the original emigrants? Nay, is it not absolutely certain that without colonizing the United States, we should not at this moment have been able to maintain anything like the population which at present finds subsistence within the limits of the United Kingdom? How large a portion of that population depends on the trade with the United States, which constitutes one-sixth of our whole external trade? Without that trade, what would have been the size, and wealth, and population of Manchester, and Liverpool, and Glasgow, and Sheffield, and Leeds, and Birmingham, and Wolverhampton—in fact, of all our great manufacturing districts? What would have been the relative condition of those agricultural districts, whose industry is kept in employment by the demand of that manufacturing population? What that of this metropolis, so much of the expenditure of which may indirectly be traced to the wealth created by the American trade? In fact, what would have been the wealth and population of this country had the United States never been peopled? Considering all the circumstances to which I have adverted, I think it will be admitted that it is no exaggeration to say that, taking the United Kingdom and the United States alone, the fact of colonizing that single country has at least doubled the numbers and wealth of the English race. And can it be doubted that if, at the various periods in which the colonization of the United States was effected, an equal number of persons had gone to some other 507 Vacant territory, as extensive as the peopled portion of the United States—and many more than such a number, be it observed, perished in abortive attempts at settlement in America—I say if such a number had so settled elsewhere, is there any reason to doubt that another great nation of our race, as populous, as wealthy as the United States, might have been in existence, might have added another eight millions to our export trade, and might have supported a second Lancashire in full activity and prosperity in our island? See, then, what colonization has done even when carried on without vigour, purpose, system, or constancy on the part of the mother country; and judge what would be its results, and with what rapidity they might be attained, if you were to colonize with system and vigour. They are results not to be measured by the relief given to the labour-market or the poor-rate; but vast as the consequences implied in the founding of great commercial empires, capable of maintaining millions of our population by creating a demand for their labour. When I propose colonization I think it wholly unnecessary to enter into nice calculations of the exact number of persons whom it is necessary to withdraw annually, in order, as they say, to keep down population; because, as I have attempted to show, the numbers withdrawn from us measure but a very small portion of the good of colonization, which mainly consists in the demand created for our labour and capital by the people in our colonies; and which benefits us not in those merely whom it takes away, but in those whom it enables to exist here in comfort. I look to the great, the perfectly incalculable extension of trade which colonization has produced, and which, with all the certainty of calculation from experience, it may be expected to produce again. And such ground for expecting such results will surely justify my regarding it as that remedy for the present causes of our distress which is at Once the most efficacious, and the most completely at our command. I have directed your attention to the United States alone—the greatest colony, it is true, the world ever saw, but by no means the only proof of my assertion of the immense extension given to trade by planting settlers on new and ample fields. Compare the trade which we have with the countries of the Old World with that 508 which we have with the colonial countries, and see how vast is the proportion which we carry on with the latter. I hold in my hand some calculations from the returns laid before the House respecting the trade and shipping of this country. The first is a statement of the declared value of British and Irish produce and manufactures exported from the United Kingdom in 1840, distinguishing the exports to old countries from those to our own possessions, and countries that have been colonies. I find that the total amount of these exports is—to foreign countries 22,026,341l., while that to our own possessions, and to countries which still belong to other powers, or have recently been colonies, amounts to no less than 28,680,089l., or nearly as four to three. Take the employment given to our shipping, and you will find the results very remarkable; for while the amount of British tonnage employed in the trade with foreign countries appears, from a similarly constructed table which I hold in my hand, to be 1,584,512 tons, that employed in trade with our foreign possessions and the colonial countries amounts to 1,709,319 tons. With respect to shipping, indeed, the result is more remarkable if we confine ourselves merely to our own colonies, for it appears that the trade of the three great groups of colonies alone—those of North America, the West Indies, and Australia—employed, in 1840, 1,031,837 tons, or nearly one-third of the whole British tonnage cleared outwards. I mention these results merely to show the great positive amount of our present dependence on colonial trade. I know that I must be careful what inferences I draw from these facts. I am liable to be met by the answer, that all this difference between our intercourse with the two kinds of countries arises, not from any greater capacity of demand in colonial countries, but from the artificial restrictions that misdirected legislation has placed on the natural course of trade; that we have excluded foreign goods, and foreign countries have excluded our manufactures; while our colonies, on the contrary, have been compelled to take our manufactures and use our shipping. To a certain degree, no doubt, there is truth in this reply; and it cannot be doubted that our own folly has been the main cause of restricting the demand for our manufactures among foreign countries. But I think when you come to look more 509 minutely into the details of the two kinds of trade, you will find that there is more than even legislative tricks can account for. I will take two great classes of countries, the first being the whole of the independent nations of Europe, and the second those which can properly be called colonial countries. From the latter class I exclude altogether the East Indies, and Java and Sumatra, because, in fact, they are old settled countries, under European dominion—the Channel and Ionian Is lands, because, although British possessions, they are not colonies—Mexico and Guatemala, because the greater part of their population is the old Indian population—Western Africa, which forms an important head in the returns, because, in fact, it relates to a trade, not with European colonists, but with the Negro nations of Africa—and Texas, and new Zealand, simply because no return of the exports to those countries is to be got. I have taken down the population of the different countries of each class which enter into my list, the amount of export of British produce to each, and the amount of that produce which falls to the share of each inhabitant of each country. I find that the following European nations—Russia, Frisco, Austria, Prussia, the rest of Germany, Cracow, Denmark, Sweden, Nor way, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and Greece, contain altogether a population of 211,130,000; and annually import our goods to the value of 21,000,000l. On the other hand, our own colonies of St. Helena, the Cape, Mauritius, Australia, the West Indies, and British North America—the emancipated colonies, including the United States, Hayti, Brazil, Peru, Chili, and those on the La Plata, together with the nominal colony, but really independent island of Cuba, contain a total population of rather more than 36,000,000; and the exports of them amount to rather more than the ex ports to all the European States specified above, with their population of about six times as many. The average consumption of each inhabitant of the colonial countries is no less than 12s. a-head, while that of the European countries is only 2s. a-head. I grant that this proportion is very much swelled by our own colonies, of whose trade there is a kind of monopoly. Still, putting our own possessions out of the question, I find that the average consumption of our pro- 510 duce throughout what I have classed as colonial countries is not less than 7s. 3d. per head, being more than three and a half times as great as the average consumption of the European states, which is, as I said, 2s. a head. The greatest consumption of our goods in the whole world is that of no less than 10l. 10s a head in the Australian colonies—the part of our empire in which the greatest amount of fertile land is open to the settler; in which there has of late been, in proportion to its population, the greatest fund derived from the sale of public lands; and into which there has been the greatest proportional immigration. This trade, which took less than 400,000l.worth of our goods in 1831, took more than two millions' worth in 1840, being increased fivefold in nine years; and it disposes of more of our goods than does the whole of our trade with Russia, with its population of 56,000,000, consuming only per head seven pennyworth of our goods. The comparison is curious in some other respects. Spain takes of our goods 9d. per head for her population; our worst consumer among her old colonies, Columbia, takes four times as large a proportion; whilst her colony of Cuba takes no less than 1l. 4s. 4d. per head, being at the rate of more than thirty times as much as Spain. Our civilized neighbours in France take to the amount of ls 4½d. per head; white Hayti, composed of the liberated negro slaves of that same France—Hayti, which it is the fashion to represent as baring become a wilderness of Negro barbarism and sloth, takes 5s.4d. per head, being four times the rate of consumption in France. But I think, Sir, that I may spare myself and the House the trouble of any further proof of the advantage of colonies—an advantage secured by no jealous and selfish monopoly of their trade, but resulting from mere freedom of intercourse with nations whose kindred origin makes them desire, whose fertile soil enables them to purchase, our commodities. I think I need use no further argument to show that when the cause of mischief here is the confinement of capital and labour within the narrow limits of the present field of employment, the most obvious and easy remedy is to let both flow over and fertilize the rich unoccupied soil of our do minions. Had our colonies been joined to the United Kingdom,—had it happened that instead of our conquering or dis- 511 covering Canada or Australia, when we did, continents as vast and as rich had risen out of the sea close to the Land's End, or the west coast of Ireland—who can doubt that we should have taken no great time to discuss the theory of colonization; but that the unemployed capital and labour would speedily and roughly have settled the question by taking possesion of the unoccupied soil? Suppose that instead of actually touching our island, this imaginary region had been separated from it by a strait as wide as the Menai Strait; who can doubt that, in order to facilitate its cultivation, Government would have undertaken to bridge over that strait at various points? Instead of such a strait, the Atlantic and Pacific roll between us and our colonies; and the question is, as you cannot bridge over the ocean, will you think it worth your while to secure the great blessings of colonization by making arrangements for providing capital and labour with a free, cheap, and ready access to the fields in which they can be productively employed? This is the practical question to be solved. Few will dispute that colonization, when once effected, produces such benefits as I have described. But the real question is, what outlay will be requisite in order to put us in the way of receiving these benefits? And is the object, good as no one will deny it to be, worth the price we shall have to pay for it? With the estimate I have formed of the almost boundless extent of good to be anticipated from the foundation of colonies, I should be prepared to say that it would be well worth while, if necessary, to devote large funds to the promotion of extensive and systematic colonization. I should not hesitate to propose a large grant, of public money for the purpose, did I not think that the most efficient mode of colonization is that which can be carried on without any expense to the mother country. Capital and labour are both redundant here, and both wanted in the colonies. Labour, without capital, would effect but little in the colony; and capital can effect nothing unless it carries out labour with it. In the United States, where there is a general diffusion of moderate means, capital is found in conjunction with labour; and the simple process of emigration is, that the labourer moves off to the Far West, carrying with him the means of stocking his farm. Here, where the labouring 512 class possesses no property, few of the labourers who desire to emigrate can pay for their own passage; or if they can scrape together enough for that purpose, they arrive in the colony paupers, without the means of cultivating and stocking farms. The capitalist would willingly pay for their conveyance, did they, in the first place, consist of the kind of persons who would be useful in a colony; and, secondly, had he any security for their labour when he had got them to the colony. But those whom distress urges to offer themselves as emigrants are oftentimes men past their full work, often men debilitated by disease, and still more, often men so worn to one particular process as to be totally unfit to exercise, and unable to learn the employments suited to their life in a colony; and all generally want to carry with them a still greater number of women and children, of all ages, requiring care instead of adding to the stock of labourers. And then the system that used to prevail in our colonies was fatal to all working for wages. Land was to be obtained so easily, that no one would think of tilling the land of another when he could get as much as he chose for him self. Labourers, as fast as they arrived in the colony, were enabled to acquire farms for themselves; and the consequence was, that the capitalist, having no security either for the services of the man whom he might carry out, or for a supply of labour from the general body of labourers in the colony, would do nothing at all in the way of taking out emigrants. By the operation of these causes emigration used to go on in a most unsatisfactory manner; and the great purposes of colonization were in no respect attained Numbers, it is true, emigrated; some who went to the United States, where they could get work for wages, did well. But the emigration produced no effect on the labour-market; it notoriously did not even relieve the poor-rates; comparatively little of it went to our colonies; very much of that little was of a kind to be of little service in colonial labour; and being unaccompanied by capital, often produced only extreme suffering to the emigrants, and a great dislike to emigration here. I think it may be truly said that this emigration, large in amount as it was, did very little for the colonies, and little indeed for any body, except in as far as it added to the wealth of the United States, whom 513 the influx of Irish labourers enabled to construct those great public works which bare given so amazing a stimulus to their prosperity. On the whole, emigration promised to be of little service until Mr. Wakefield promulgated the theory of colonization which goes by his name; and suggested two simple expedients which would at once counteract all the evils which I have been describing, by attracting capital as well as carrying labour to the colonies. These suggestions consisted in putting a stop to the gratuitous disposal of the waste lands of the colonies, and selling them at a certain uniform price, of which the proceeds were to be expended in carrying out emigrants, and in making a selection of young persons of both sexes out of those who were desirous of being so assisted to emigrate. It was quite obvious that such selection of emigrants would relieve this country of the greatest amount of actual competition in the labour-market, and also of those most likely to contribute to the increase of population; while it would remove to the colonies, at the least possible expense, the persons whose labour would be most likely to be useful, and who would be most likely to make continual additions to their deficient population. It was equally obvious, that under the system of selling lands, the labourers thus arriving in the colony would be unable to get land of their own until they had acquired the means of purchasing it; that they would have, therefore, to work for wages; that, therefore, the capitalist, if he paid for their passage out, might count on their labour, and they as confidently on employment; that capitalists would, therefore, be tempted to purchase, being sure that their purchase-money would provide them with that labour which is their first necessary; and that thus you might count on getting from the sale of lands the means of carrying on a large and constant emigration in the mode adapted to confer the greatest amount of benefit on the colonies. I may now speak of Mr. Wakefield's system of emigration as one of which the great principles—the sale of colonial land, the expenditure of the proceeds in carrying out labourers, and the selection of the labourers from the young of both sexes, have received the sanction of the best, as well as the most general opinion. This was not done, certainly, until after a long and uphill fight, in which it was a hard 514 matter to conquer the apathy, the ignorance, and the prejudices of the public; and harder still to make any impression on the unimpressionable minds of men in office. But, fortunately, the system in question found, from the first, most able advocates among some of the most distinguished writers out-of-doors, as well as among some of the ablest Members of this House; among whom I must name with particular respect my hon. Friend, the Member for Sheffield, who, four years ago, brought this question before the House, in a speech which I could wish to have been heard by no one who has now to put up with mine as a substitute; my hon. Friend, the Member for Limerick, who has since been the advocate of the same views; my noble Friend, the Secretary for Ireland, who gave them his powerful aid when chairman of the committee of this House on New Zealand; together with my hon. Friend, the Member for Gateshead, and another Friend of mine, whom I am sorry to be able to mention by name—I mean Mr. Francis Baring. I should trespass too much on the time of the House were I to take this public occasion of enumerating all who have at different times given these views their valuable aid, but I must not omit the name of my lamented friend Lord Durham, who in this, as in other cases, showed his thorough grasp of every colonial question; who was an early friend of a sound system of colonization; who had the opportunity of giving official sanction to these principles in his important mission to Canada; and from whom we expected still more when this, with other hopes, was buried in his untimely grave. But it is necessary to a due understanding of the history of the question, that I should acknowledge how much we owe to others, who had the opportunity, when in office, of giving executive effect to improved principles. Among these the first place is due to my noble Friend, the Member for Sunderland, who, in Feb., 1832, when he had been about a year in office, took the first great step that the Government has taken in the right direction, by promulgating the regulations, whereby the sale of land was substituted for the old irregular habit of gratuitous grants, and the application of the proceeds to the conveyance of selected emigrants was commenced. My noble Friend, the Member for London, made the next great step when he organized the machinery of 515 public emigration, by constituting the land and emigration commissioners, and prescribed the nature of their duties in instructions, which contain an admirable view of the general duties of a Government with respect to colonization. My noble Friend must have the satisfaction of knowing that he has left behind him a colonial reputation confined to no party; and that, among those who are interested in the well-being of our colonies and colonial trade, many of the most eager opponents of his general politics were the first to regret, that their efforts resulted in removing him from the superintendence of that department. It would be ludicrous in me to pay such a compliment to the Leader of my own party, were it not notoriously true. And I must not forget, that the noble Lord, his successor, deserves our thanks for his act of last year, of which I do not pretend to approve of the details, but which has the great merit of having fixed the disposal of colonial lands on the basis of an act of Parliament. By these aids, Sir, these views have met with such general acceptance, that I may take their elementary principles as now being the admitted basis of colonization. Hardly any man, that ever I met with, now talks of colonization without assuming, that the lands in the colonies are to be sold instead of given away; that the proceeds are to be applied to emigration; and that the emigrants are to be carried out at the public expense, and are to be selected from the fittest among the applicants. But what is even more satisfactory is, that, owing to the measures taken by our Government, these principles have received so much of a trial as at any rate shows that they are capable of producing some of the greatest results at which they professed to aim. No one can doubt, that the sale of lands, instead of deterring persons from taking them, has very greatly increased the amount, I will not say nominally appropriated, but actually taken into use. No one can doubt, that emigration to our colonies has received a very great impulse since the regulations of 1832, came into operation. Compare the emigration that took place to the Australian colonies, to which alone the system has been applied, in the eight years preceding the application of the new system, with that which has taken place since. In the first eight years the total number of persons who emigrated to these colo- 516 nies was 11,711, giving an average of 1,464 emigrants a-year. In the ten subsequent years, the total emigration to the Australian colonies, including New Zealand, which had in the mean time been colonised on the same principles, amounted to 104,487, or 10,448 a-year, being an increase of more than sevenfold. Nor must you regard this as at all subtracted from the general amount of unassisted emigration, inasmuch as during the first period the total emigration to all other parts was 352,580, giving an average of 44,072 a-year; and in the second 661,039, giving an average of no less than 66,104 a-year; and this, though during a considerable portion of the latter period emigration to the Canadas was almost stopped by the disturbances in those colonies. And it is also put beyond a doubt that the fund thus derivable from the sale of lands is a very large one. The sum raised by sales of land in Australia, during a period of nine years, beginning with 1833 and ending with the end of 1841, including the New Zealand Company's sales, which are on the same principle, and may be reckoned as effected by the Government, through the agency of a company, amounts to a few hundreds short of two millions; a sum saved out of the fire—a sum which has been received without making anybody poorer, but actually by adding immensely to the value of everybody's property in those colonies—a sum which if, applied entirely to emigration, would have carried out comfortably more than 110,000 emigrants. The results in one single colony—that of New South Wales—have been most remarkable and most satisfactory. In these nine years, the land fund has produced 1,100,000l..; and though only partially applied to emigration, has been the means of carrying out as many as 52,000 selected emigrants, making two fifths, and two valuable fifths of the present population of the colony, added to it in the space of little more than three years. The possibility, however, of raising a very large fund by the sale of land required no proof from actual experience in our colonies; because that fact, at least, had been ascertained by a long and large experiment in the United States. In 1795, the federal government put an end to gratuitous grants; and commenced the plan of selling the waste lands of their vast territory at a system of auction, which has, however, in fact, ended in their sell- 517 ing the whole at the upset price, which for some years was two dollars, and latterly at dollar and a quarter per acre. The proceeds of these sates hare, during the whole period, amounted to the vast sum of 23,366, 434l. of our money; being an average of more than half a million a year for the whole of that time. In the last twenty years of this period, the total sum produced was nearly 19,000,000l. giving an average of more than 900,000l a-year. In the last ten years of the period, the total amount was 16,000,000l., and the annual average 1,600,000l.; and in the last seven years of which I can get an account—the years from 1834 to 1840, both included—the total amount realized was more than 14,000,000l. of our money, or upwards of 2,000,000l. a-year.* This is what actually has been done in the United States; and done, let me remark, without the object of promoting emigration, almost without that of getting revenue; for it is very clear that the primary object with which the system of sale was established was not that of getting money, but of preventing that jobbing and favouritism which cannot be avoided where the Government has the power of making gratuitous grants of land. The experiment cannot be regarded as a test of the largest amount which could be got for the land, consistently with a due regard to other public objects, because, in the first* Lord Stanley, in answer to this, stated that the large proceeds of these land sales had been produced by the excessive speculations of the years 1835 and 1836, since which "the bubble had burst," and there had been a great falling off. The proceeds of the different years were—
— s. d. In 1835 3,333,299 10 0 In 1836 5,243,296 9 2 In 1837 1,459,900 12 6 In 1838 896,992 10 0 In 1839 1,346,772 10 0 In 1840 581,264 7 6The facts stated by Lord Stanley are perfectly correct; but they do not controvert the conclusions drawn by Mr. Buller. The sales of 1835 and 1836 were no doubt swelled by the speculative spirit of the period; but it is just as obvious that the great falling off in the latter years has been the result of the extraordinary commercial distress that has pressed on the United States all the time, The only subject for wonder is that during such a period of distress as that from 1837 to 1340 there should have been so much as 4,284,930l. to spare for the purchase of land.—NOTE BY MR. BULLER.518 place, there have been large exceptional grants, which have brought a great amount of unbought land into the market. There has been a large amount of additional land, not under the control of the general government, and which had been sold by the old states, particularly Maine. And, above all, the price has, as I said, never been fixed with a view to getting the greatest amount of revenue. There is not the slightest reason to doubt that the same amount of land might have been sold at a higher price. Indeed we know that the amount of land sold did not increase in consequence of the, great diminution of price from two dollars to a dollar and a quarter in 1819; but actually fell off very considerably, and did not recover itself for the next ten years. I have very little doubt that the same amount of land would have been sold at our price of a pound; and that the sum of eighty millions might thus have been realized in forty-five years as easily as that of twenty-three millions actually was. I tell you what has actually been done, and what we may safely infer might have been done by a country which, with all its vast territory, possesses actually a less amount of available land than is included within our empire; which has now a much less, and had when all this began, a very much leas population than ours; and with a far less proportion even of that available for emigration; and which with all its activity and prosperity, possesses an amount of available capital actually insignificant when compared with ours. Imagine what would have been the result, had we at the period at which the American Government commenced its sales, applied the same principle with more perfect details to the waste lands of our colonies, and used the funds derived from such sales in rendering our Far West as accessible to our people as the valleys of the Ohio and Missouri to the settlers in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of our countrymen, who now with their families people the territory of the United Slates, would have been subjects of the British Crown; as many, aye, even more, who have passed their wretched existence in our workhouses or crowded cities, or perished in Irish famines, or pined away in the more lingering torture of such destitution as Great Britain has too often seen, would have been happy and thriving on fertile soils and under genial climates, and making really our country that vast empire 519 which encircles the globe. In every part of the world would have risen fresh towns, inhabited by our people; fresh ports would have been crowded by our ships; and harvests would have waved where the silence of the forest still reigns. What now would have been our commerce! What the population and revenue of our empire! This, Sir, is one of those subjects on which we may not embody in precise form the results which calculation justifies us in contemplating, lest sober arithmetic should assume the features of sanguine fancy. But this much I think I may say, that the experience of America justifies us in believing that if we, like the people of that country, had begun half a century ago; to turn our waste lands to account, we should have had a larger population, and a greater accumulation of wealth than we now have; and yet that over-population and over-production, and low wages, and low profits, and destitution, and distress, and discontent, would have been words as of little familiarity and meaning in our ears, as they are in those of the people of the United States. We need, then, feel little doubt but that the new system of colonization has shown itself capable of producing all the economical results which it professes to attain. But I cannot quit the subject of its practical working, without calling your attention to effects quite as important, which it has shown itself capable of realizing in the way of changing the character and spirit in which our colonization has hitherto been conducted, If you wish colonies to be rendered generally useful to all classes in the mother country—if you wish them to be prosperous, to reflect back the civilization, and habits, and feelings of their parent stock, and to be and long to remain integral parts of your empire—care should be taken that society should be carried out in something of the form in which it is seen at home—that it should contain some, at least, of all the elements that go to make it up here, and that it should continue under those influences that are found effectual for keeping us together in harmony. On such principles alone have the foundations of successful colonies been laid. Neither Phœnician, nor Greek, nor Roman, nor Spaniard, no, nor our own great forefathers, when they laid the foundation of an European society on the continent, and in the islands of the Western World, ever dreamed of 520 colonizing with one class of society by itself, and that the most helpless for shifting by itself. The foremost men of the ancient republics led forth their colonies; each expedition was in itself an epitome of the society which it left; the solemn rites of religion blessed its departure from its home; and it bore with it the images of its country's gods, to link it for ever by a common worship to its ancient home. The government of Spain sent its dignified clergy out with some of its first colonists. The noblest families in Spain sent their younger sons to settle in Hispaniola, and Mexico, and Peru. Raleigh quitted a brilliant court, and the highest spheres of political ambition, in order to lay the foundation of the colony of Virginia; Lord Baltimore and the best Catholic families founded Maryland; Penn was a courtier before he became a colonist; a set of noble proprietors established Carolina, and intrusted the framing of its constitution to John Locke; the highest hereditary rank in this country below the peerage was established in connexion with the settlement of Nova Scotia; and such gentlemen as Sir Harry Vane, Hampden, and Cromwell, did not disdain the prospect of a colonial career. In all these cases the emigration was of every class. The mass, as does the mass everywhere, contributed its labour alone; but they were encouraged by the presence, guided by the counsels, and supported by the means of the wealthy and educated, whom they had been used to follow and honour in their own country. In the United States the constant and large migration from the old to the new states is a migration of every class; the middle classes go in quite as large proportion as the labouring; the most promising of the educated youth are the first to seek the new career. And hence it is that society sets itself down complete in all its parts in the back settlements in the United States; that every political, and social, and religious institution of the old society is found in the new at the outset: that every liberal profession is abundantly supplied; and that, as Captain Marry at remarks, you find in a town of three or four years' standing, in the back part of New York or Ohio, almost every luxury of the old cities. And thus was colonization always conducted, until all our ideas on the subject were perverted by the foundation of convict colonies; and emigration being associated in 521 men's minds with transportation, was looked upon as the hardest punishment of guilt, or necessity of poverty. It got to be resorted to as the means of relieving parishes of their paupers; and so sprung up that irregular, ill-regulated emigration of a mere labouring class which has been one of the anomalies of our time. The state exercised not the slightest control over the hordes whom it simply allowed to leave want in one part of the empire for hardship in another; and it permitted the conveyance of human beings to be carried on just as the avidity and rashness of shipowners might choose. I am drawing no picture of a mere fanciful nature, but am repeating the solemn assertions of the legislature of Lower Canada, confirmed by Lord Durham's report, when I say that the result of this careless, shameful neglect of the emigrants was, that hundreds and thousands of pauper families walked in their rags from the quays of Liverpool and Cork into ill-found, unsound ships, in which human beings were crammed together in the empty space which timber was to be stowed in on the homeward voyage. Ignorant themselves, and misinformed by the Government of the requisites of such a voyage, they suffered throughout it from privations of necessary food and clothing; such privations, filth, and bad air were sure to engender disease; and the ships that reached their destination in safety, generally deposited some contagious fever, together with a mass of beggary, on the quays of Quebec and Montreal. No medical attendance was required by law, and the provision of it in some ships was a creditable exception to the general practice. Of course, where so little thought was taken of men's physical wants, their moral wants were even less cared for; and as the emigrants went without any minister of religion or schoolmaster in their company, so they settled over the vacant deserts of Canada without church or school among them. Respectable tradesmen and men possessed of capital shrunk from such associations; and if their necessities compelled them to quit their own country for a new one, they went as a matter of course to the United States. The idea of a gentleman emigrating was almost unheard of, unless he emigrated for awhile as a placeman; and I recollect when Colonel Talbot was regarded as a kind of innocent monomaniac, who, from some strange caprice, had committed the 522 folly of residing on his noble Canadian estate. Within the last ten or twelve years a great change has come over this state of things; within the last three or four years our colonization has entirely altered its character. The emigration to Port Philip, South Australia, and New Zealand has been an emigration of every class, with capital in due proportion to labourers; with tradesmen and artizans of every kind, and with the framework of such social institutions as the settlers have been used to in their native land. Clergymen and schoolmasters, and competent men of every liberal profession, are among the earliest emigrants; artists and men of science resort to a new field for their labours; in the foundation of the settlement you find funds set apart for public works, for religious endowments, and even for colleges. Associations of a religious and charitable and literary nature are formed at the outset; and these are intended to benefit not only the poor emigrants, but the helpless native, who is brought into contact with a superior race. To such settlements men of birth and refinement are tempted to emigrate; they do so in great numbers. I will be bound to say, that more men of good family have settled in New Zealand in the three years since the beginning of 1840, than in British North America in the first thirty years of the present century. It is notorious that the greatest change has taken place in the public feeling on this point, and that a colonial career is now looked upon as one of the careers open to a gentleman. This change in the character of colonization—this great change in the estimation in which it is held, is of greater moment than the mere provision of means for conducting emigration without cost to the public. It makes colonization, indeed, an extension of civilized society, instead of that mere emigration which aimed at little more than shovelling out your paupers to where they might die, without shocking their betters with the sight or sound of their last agony. I come, then, before you to-night as the advocate of no new fancy of my own, of no untried scheme for the realization of unattainable results. The remedy which I propose is one which the experience of the world has approved; and the mode in which I would apply it is one which sufficient experience justifies me in describing as of recognized efficacy in the opinion of all practical authorities. 523 The great principles of the plan of colonization which I urge have been formally but unequivocally adopted by the Government of this country; they have been adopted with the general sanction of public opinion here; and the colonies, as we well know, are clamorous for the ex tension of a system which they feel to have already given an amazing stimulus to their prosperity, and to which they look as the only means of enabling their progress to be steady. I ask then, for no experiment. The thing has been tried, and I call upon you to make more use of the remedy, which has proved to be sound. If you think that on the system which is now recognized as the sound one, the benefits of colonization may be practically secured, then I say that the only question that remains for us is, whether and how that system can be so far extended as to realize its utmost results. For it is clear that, if it contains the means of greater relief, the condition of the country requires its extended application. It is equally clear that, though it has done great good already, it has been put in operation with no system or steadiness, not always quite heartily, certainly with no readiness to profit by experience for the purpose of either amending or extending it. It has, nevertheless, called into existence a large fund, which was not in being before. Those lands, which from all time had been barren and nominal domains—the mere materials for jobbing, this discovery has converted into a valuable property; and it has also shown you how to apply them, so as to make them most productive to the general good of the colonies, by effecting the importation of labour. But I think I am justified in saying that, under such circumstances, the system has never been turned to full account; that if the people of the United States can purchase 2,000,000l. worth of land a year, there is spare capital in this country to purchase something more than one-eighth of that amount; that if they can dispose of some seven or eight millions a year, we could dispose of more than one-thirtieth of that quantity; that if they can take annually from us 50,000 emigrants, besides at least as large a number from their own country, our Australian colonies could take more than one-seventh of that total amount. If we could only realize the same results as actually are realized in the United States, we should 524 get 2,000,000l on the average, instead of 250,00l. a year, from the sale of our lands; and the means of sending out, free of cost, some 110,000 instead of 10,000 or 12,000 poor persons every year, in addition to the large unassisted emigration that goes on. If, with our vastly superior wealth and immeasurably larger emigrant population, we fall so lamentably short of the results actually realized in the United States; nay, if with such superior powers we do not realize much greater results, I say it is sufficient proof that there is some defect in the mode of applying a sound principle. It is no defect of inclination on the part of the people to better their fortunes in another part of the empire—the amount of voluntary emigration shows that. It is no defect of inclination on the part of capitalists to invest their money in the purchase of colonial lands; there is never any difficulty in getting money in any sound system of colonization. The defect must be in the mode of facilitating the access of labour to the colonies; it must be from our not making the most of the good principles on which we go. I say it is our bounden duty to have the matter investigated thoroughly; and to discover and remove the faults of detail that prevent our satisfying our present most extreme need, by devising, from a sound principle, the utmost benefits that colonization can produce. It is clear that the public—not the ignorant and thoughtless—but men of the greatest speculative research—men of the greatest practical knowledge and interest in commerce, such as those who have signed the recent memorials to the right hon. Baronet, from this great city, and the other principal parts of the kingdom; it is clear, I say, that the public look to colonization as affording a means of relief for our national difficulties. It is our business to prove whether that hope is sound or unsound; and either without delay to expose its want of truth, and clear it out from the public mind as a delusion that can only do harm; or, seeing it to be sound, to take care that it shall be realized, and that the means of good which God has placed at our disposal shall be turned to their full account. To do one of these things is our imperative duty. Above all, it is a duty most binding on her Majesty's Government, who alone can be the instrument of thoroughly sifting such matter—who alone can give practical effect to the 525 results of such inquiry. It is a duty of which, if they should, contrary to my hopes, neglect it, it becomes this House to remind them. And it is with this view that I have ventured to bring forward the motion of to-night. It is not my purpose to propose any specific measure to the House, And in the first place let me guard myself against the supposition that I mean to propose anything of a kind to which I have the very strongest objection, namely, compulsory emigration. Most assuredly I have no thought of proposing that any one should be compelled to emigrate. So far from proposing compulsory emigration, I should object to holding out to any man any inducement to quit his country. On this ground I deprecate anything like making emigration an alternative for the Union Workhouse. I am very dubious of the propriety of even applying parish rates in aid of emigration. My object would be that the poor of this country should be accustomed to regard the means of bettering their condition in another part of the empire as a great boon offered them—not a necessity imposed on them by government. I do not wonder that in the old days of convict colonies and pauper emigration they shrunk from colonization, and responded to Mr. Cobbett's denunciation of the attempt of their rulers to transport them. But a better feeling has now sprung up, together with a better knowledge of the subject. The difficulty is now not to inveigle emigrants, but to select among the crowds of eager applicants; and the best portion of the labouring classes are now as little inclined to look on the offer of a passage to the colonies as a punishment, or a degradation, as a gentleman would be to entertain the same view of an offer of a cadetship or writership for one of his younger sons. The prejudice is gone; and I did imagine that the attempt to appeal to it by the agency of stale nicknames was not likely to be made in our day, had I not been undeceived by some most furious invectives against the gentlemen who signed the City memorials, which were recently delivered at Drury Lane Theatre, on one of those nights on which the legitimate drama is not performed. I cannot imagine that my esteemed friend the Member for Stockport, who is reported on that occasion to have been very successful in representing the character of a bereaved grandmother, can help, on sober reflec- 526 tion, feeling some compunction for having condescended to practise on the ignorance of his audience by the use of clap-traps so stale, and representations so unfounded; and for bringing just the same kind of unjust charges against honest men engaged in an honest cause, as he brushes so indignantly out of his own path when he finds them opposed to him in his own pursuit of a great public cause. I must attribute this deviation from his usual candour to the influence of the unseen genius of the place in which he spoke, and suppose that he believed it would be out of keeping in a theatre to appeal to men's passions otherwise than by fiction. It is not my purpose to suggest interference on the part of Government to induce emigration, except by merely facilitating access to the colonies by the application of the land-fund to that object. To do this more effectually than it now does is what I ask of it, and for this purpose I only ask it to perfect the details of the system now in force. Carry out, I say to her Majesty's Government, the system which was begun by the regulations of 1832, and by the appointment of the Land and Emigration Commission, to which you made a valuable addition when you sanctioned the principle of the Act of last Session, which secured the system of disposing of the lands of the colonies against the caprice of colonial governors, and even of secretaries of state. Carry it out with the same sound purpose at bottom, but with more deliberate consideration of details than it was possible for the noble Lord to apply to a matter of so difficult a nature, which he brought in a few months after entering on the duties of his department. I suppose that the noble Lord cannot set such store by the details of a measure so rapidly prepared, that he will deny that they may be possibly amended on reconsideration; that in fact many of the details of a sound and large system of colonization are not touched by his act; and that, until they are matured by assiduous inquiry, the principle can never be fairly tried, or rendered productive of the full amount of good of which it is capable. There are some most important questions which require to be fully investigated before the system of colonization can with prudence be placed on any permanent footing; and I think it right to mention the most important of them, in order to impress upon the House how much of the 527 success of any scheme must depend on their being rightly adjusted. There is, in the first place, a very important question as to the possibility of applying to the rest of our colonies the system which is now in force only in the Australian. It has never yet been satisfactorily explained what causes prevent the application of the principle to the land that lies open for settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, speaking not merely of the present limits of the colony, but of the boundless un appropriated extent which adjoins it—superior, apparently, in natural fertility, and free from all proprietary claims on the part of individuals. With respect to the North American colonies, I am aware that some difficulties are presented by the partial cession of the crown lands contained within them to the control of their respective legislatures. With the control of these legislatures I should not be disposed to interfere, even if the Imperial Government retain the strict legal right; but I am so convinced that the interests of the mother country and the colonies with respect to emigration are identical, that I have no doubt that the colonial legislatures would rejoice to co-operate with the imperial government in the adoption of the general principles of such a plan as might be deemed most conducive to the good of the empire. At any rate, viewing the magnitude and importance of these colonies, and their proximity to Great Britain, they ought not to be excluded from the general plan without the fullest inquiry. But there are very important questions with respect to the mode of applying the principles, which are still matters of doubt and controversy. Thus it is yet a question what is the "sufficient price" which the government should endeavour to secure from the lands in each colony. It is obvious that no more should be asked than may be applied so as to attract labourers to the colony; whatever more is imposed is a partial tax on immigrants and agriculture for the general purposes of the community, and would actually deter instead of attract settlers. On the other hand, it is contended that the price is in many instances still so low as to lead to too great an accumulation of land in private hands at the first formation of settlements; and to the subsequent drying up of Government sales and land-fund when the first purchasers are compelled to bring their lands back into the market. It will be 528 seen that it is of the utmost importance to the right working of the system that the right price should be ascertained, not only in a rough and general way, but in the case of each colony. Another question of considerable importance is, how this sufficient price should be got—whether by fixing it on all lands as both minimum and maximum, or by trying to get the highest price which may be offered at an auction. By the latter plan it is said that the full worth of the land is most sure to be got. While it is objected to it that, besides operating with peculiar unfairness on fall persons of known enterprise and skill, the tendency of the auction system is to encourage great competition for favoured town lots, lavish expenditure at the outset, an exhaustion of the capital necessary to give value to the purchase, and a consequent stagnation of the settlement after the first feverish burst of speculative ardour; that the system of uniform price, by giving to the purchaser all the advantages derivable from the possession of peculiarly advantageous sites, presents the greatest attraction to purchasers, and gives the surest stimulus to energy in developing the resources of the colony; and that though the auction system may bring in the greatest amount of money to Government at first, it will be found that, in the course of a few years, the steady produce of a fixed price will make the largest return. A subsidiary question to this is, whether the same principle of price should be uniformly applied to ail kinds of land, or any distinction made between different qualities. But a far more important matter, still in dispute, is, whether the whole of the land-fund shall be de voted to the introduction of labourers, or whether a portion shall be applied to the general expenses of the colony. It is said, on the one hand, that if the object be to apply the land-fund so as to render the colony attractive to settlers, the formation of roads and public works is as requisite to that end as the supply of labour. To this it is answered, that the applying of the largest possible amount of money to the importation of labour is the surest way of increasing the population, the increase of population the surest way of raising the ordinary revenue from taxes, out of which all necessary works may be provided; and that applying any portion of the land-fund to the general expenses of the colony is merely placing at the dis- 529 posal of irresponsible authority an additional and easily acquired fund, which will be sure to be expended with that shameless extravagance, which, whether in New South Wales, or South Australia, or New Zealand, is the curse of our colonies, and the scandal of our colonial system. There is a question of even greater magnitude and difficulty than any of these; and that is, the question whether, viewing the great necessity of of supplying labour in the early period of the colony's existence, it may not be advisable to anticipate the proceeds of the land sales by a loan raised on the security of future sales; and in this instance only has aid been demanded from the mother country in the form of a guarantee, which would enable the colony to raise money at a moderate interest. If the principle on which this suggestion is made be sound it is of paramount importance, because it would really be bridging over the ocean, and enabling the future purchasers to repair at once to the spot which they are to render productive. No doubt great caution would be requisite in thus forestalling the resources of a colony; and I should deprecate such extravagant suggestions of large loans as have been sometimes proposed. But, on the other hand, a debt contracted for such a purpose is not unproductive waste of capital, such as our national debt, nor is it to be likened to the debts of individuals contracted for the enjoyment of the moment. It is rather to be compared to those debts which wise landlords often deliberately contract, for the purpose of giving an additional value to their estates, or to the loans by which half the enterprises of trade are undertaken, and which are to be regarded as resources of future wealth not embarrassment. The proposal of a loan in anticipation of the land-fund has been recently urged on the Government from a quarter deserving of great weight—I mean the legislative council of New South Wales—in a report, which, I trust, has been successful in correcting an erroneous notion most fatal to colonial interest to which the noble Lord gave rather an incautious expression last year,—I mean the notion that the Australian colonies were at that time rather over-supplied with labour. It appears that the term over-supply is correct only as respects the means of paying the cost of emigration out of the land sales of the year; that 530 the colony exhausted its means of bringing over labourers, but that it is still, in fact, craving for it as much as ever; that the supply of nearly 24,000 labourers in one year, far from overstocking the labour-market, had produced no material reduction of wages; that the labourers and artizans imported that year were getting ample wages, and that the colony still continued capable of absorbing an annual free importation of 10,000 or 12,000 of the labouring classes. I have briefly adverted to these important points without suggesting the decision which, I think, ought to be made with respect to any of them. The details of a plan of colonization are obviously matters in which it would be idle for any one not a member of the Executive Government to make any specific suggestions. To discuss the general bearings of such a question, and to impress its general importance on the general Government, is all that appears to me to lie practically within the competence of this House. It is with the Government that the investigation of such details as I have adverted to, and the preparation of specific measures must rest. They have the best means of collecting the most correct information and the soundest opinions on the subject. I have no wish to take the discharge of their duties on myself. I think this a stage of the question in which it would tend to no good purpose to call in the cumbrous and indecisive action of a committee of this House: but that I have done my duty when,—after thus explaining the grave necessities of our condition, and shifting the practicability of the remedy which seems most efficient,—I leave the question, with its niceties of detail and responsibilities of execution, in the hands of the advisers of the Crown. But I leave it not as a question to be discussed by one particular department as a matter of detail, or as a mere colonial question, but as one of general import to the condition of England. The remedy, which I thus call on her Majesty's Ministers to investigate, is one on which inquiry can excite no illusory hopes; for, though I believe that its adoption would give an immediate impulse to enterprise, it is one of which the greater results cannot be expected for some few years. It is one, too, which, if it fails of giving relief to the extent that I have contemplated, cannot fail of bettering the condition of many, and of 531 extending the resources and widening the basis of our empire. The hon. and learned Member proposed the following motion:—That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she will take into her most gracious consideration the means by which extensive and systematic colonization may be most effectually rendered available for augmenting the resources of her Majesty's empire, giving additional employment to capital and labour, both in the United Kingdom and in the colonies, and thereby bettering the condition of her people.
§ Mr. S. Crawford
said, he had listened with deep attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Member, who had not professed that the measure he proposed was to be a mere temporary experiment for the relief of the country. Had it been so, and were it likely to afford any assistance to the suffering portions of the community he would not object to it. But the hon. Member had proposed a systematic plan of operation for diminishing the pressure of the prevailing distress, and for affording continued means of ensuring the prosperity of this country. Now, he was opposed to the system expounded by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He was aware of the difficulty of impressing his views upon this subject upon many Members of that House, because he believed, that though they generally took an interest in the debates of the House they did not consider the subject worthy of their attention. Nevertheless he stood up to protest against this erroneous system of providing relief for the distresses of the people. Moreover, he was not prepared to look with favour upon a proposition of this kind when he found it emanated from one who took the course which the hon. and learned Gentleman did last year upon the subject of the Corn-laws. As to the great body of merchants and their memorial, which had been alluded to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, he must say, that he was not inclined to look upon their request with any more favour than he did upon the motion of the hon. and learned Member, for he never found those men so very for ward to sign a declaration in favour of any measure for the relief of the poor, or for promoting the rights of the people. He regarded, then, with great suspicion a plan which emanated from such quarters, and he would oppose a measure, the effect of which would be nothing less than trans- 532 portation. The hon. and learned Member said, he objected to forced emigration; but it must be forced if the Legislature re fused to give those measures which were necessary to provide employment and food for the people. He perceived, that in the present state of society there was a continual accumulation of wealth on the one hand in the possession of the few, while, on the other, the great mass of the people were growing poorer till they reached actual starvation. That was one great symptom of the evils the country was suffering. He did not approve, therefore, of an ad dress to her Majesty which would deceive her if it represented that the distresses of the people were to be relieved by emigration; and which was, in fact, but an apology for bad measures, and an excuse for the continuation of bad legislation. He believed the present proposition had sprung from that most hateful doctrine, the Malthusian doctrine, that it was pro per to dispose of any amount of population in any manner that was possible,—that doctrine which had led to more cruelty, more bad feeling, and more injustice than any other doctrine that ever was broached, or that the friends of the people ever had to combat. He would maintain, that there were resources and employment in this country sufficient for the support of the people. If the manufacturing and agricultural capabilities of the country were called into action, the population would be wholly insufficient to the demand; and if the population were reduced, the means of securing our manufacturing and agricultural prosperity must be reduced also. When our manufacturers were in prosperity, some years ago, there were not sufficient hands to supply the manufacturers, and the Poor-law Commissioners, then adopted a plan of removing the agricultural population to answer the demands of the manufacturers, which fact alone was a clear demonstration that when our manufactures were in the height of prosperity, we had not sufficient hands to do the work required to be done. With regard to agriculture, by the population returns of the year 183l, the families employed in manufactures were 1,227,614; in agriculture, only 834,546. How did it arise that so few persons were employed in agriculture? Because the land was not half cultivated—if it were, it would take four times the number of persons stated. From authentic docu- 533 ments he had collected that the lands of England and Wales, now cultivated, and improbable wastes, were computed at 32,640,000 acres; taking the number of able bodied men and families necessary on the average for the general labour and improvement of these lands, at six men to each 100 acres, the number of men and families required would be, 1,920,000, or in round numbers, 2,000,000. If, then, the lands had been cultivated as stated above, the whole population employed at that time both in manufactures and agriculture would have been solely absorbed by agricultural labour alone. Upon the subject of the occupation of land by the labourers, he would go farther than the hon. and learned Gentle man, for he was of opinion, that the only mode of relieving the country was by bringing back the working man upon the land, and giving him as much as would afford him an independent means of support He knew that this doctrine was not approved of by many hon. Members, but it could be proved by facts more strongly perhaps than any other. Sup pose a certain extent of occupancy were permitted—supposing only one-third of the lands of England were appropriated to working occupation—the result would be as follows:—Taking the third at about 11,000,000 acres, and supposing five acres to each occupant, the number of families placed on independent work would be 2,200,000, supporting a population of nearly 10,000,000 souls, ready to aid as workers, both in agriculture and manufacture when required; and thus this great body of the population would be abstracted from the fluctuating support of hired labour. He insisted, that there were no other means of providing independent support for the working classes, and that unless some independent support was provided for at least a portion of the working classes they would always be subject to such distress as that which now prevailed amongst them. The dispossession of the poor had been going on ever since the middle of the 15th century, when they were driven off the land, to make way for the sheep. During the reigns of Henry 7th, Henry 8th, and of Philip and Mary, various enactments ware passed by Parliament against this invasion of the rights of the poor, and commissioners were appointed by Philip and Mary with powers to put the people 534 again into possession of the lands and to fine the landlords who had dispossessed them. But the dispossessions continued, and brought about tumults and insurrections, and led to the enactment of the Poor-law of Elizabeth, who was obliged to provide some compensation for the dispossessed, and that Poor-law prevented the effects of the evil from being felt. But when that law was altered, when the Legislature took from the people the provision which the Poor-law gave them as a substitute for residence on the lands, that instant distress began to prevail, and it continued to accumulate up to the present time; and never would it be removed until the Legislature retraced its steps, and put the poor once more upon the land. He did not say that there should not be a diversity of farms; but the working classes ought to be placed in a greater degree upon the lands, from which, indeed, they were now entirely excluded. It was very easy to show that if the lands of this country were cultivated, there would be an ample supply of food for the whole population. It was because the country was not cultivated, because agricultural improvements were not promoted so widely as they ought to be, that the people were not sufficiently supplied with food. He did not assert that without facts to support it. It was computed by calculators, that the average consumption of the population, of all the different classes and of all ages averaged, and living on mixed animal and vegetable food, was 41b. per day per head. This would be thirteen cwt. by the year. Then, to try the number of acres necessary for this supply, and a computation of medium land, well cultivated might be made as follows:—One acre of wheat would produce fifteen cwt.; one acre of oats, seventeen cwt.; one acre of potatoes, 150 cwt.; one acre appropriated to producing milk and butter, taken as equal to two cwt.; two acres appropriated to animal food, taken at eight cwt.: total 192 cwt. The last three acres applied to butter and animal food were supposed to be used in producing summer and winter green crops for house feeding; 192 cwt. of food, at 41b. per head per day, or thirteen cwt. per year, would supply nearly fifteen persons, or three families at that rate; but taking it at two families of five persons each family, it would allow each family about 4¾tons of food in the year, being at the rate of 535 nineteen cwt. for each individual per year, or 5 5-6lb. per day. By the return of 1831, the whole number of families in England and Wales were 2,911,874; but taking them at 3,500,000, the number of acres required would be only 10,500,000, whilst we had actually 32,000,000 acres capable of cultivation. He should be asked, no doubt, if we had all those represent system of Corn-laws the growth of other Countries was not permitted to come to our shores. The effect had been to place the land and the interests of agriculture in the hands of speculators, who regarded only their own advantage, and had the means of expelling the poor from the lands. The parish of Cholesbury and the islands of Guernsey and Jersey afforded abundant proofs of the correct ness of his views upon this subject. But he would appeal to Ireland, which the hon. and learned Member had instanced as a melancholy example of the injury of small farms. The hon. and learned Member did not seem fully to understand that there was a great difference between the north and south of Ireland. In the north the small holding system conduced to the prosperity of the people; in the south it was totally different, because there the cottier system was established, and the result was that the tenants were distressed by high rents and various exactions and charges. He would just state to the House some facts relating to two unions in the north of Ireland:—In Newtownards Union the extent was, 93,942 acres; the population 53,873. No relief was given except in the house. The number, by the return, dated February 4, of aged men, women, and children receiving relief, was 215. In Downpatrick Union, the extent was 147,367 acres, the population, 80,642. In the house on February 9th, there were 360 aged men, women, and children. Those two unions contained 141,309 acres; their united population was 134,515 souls; and the percentage of paupers to the population was only about two-fifths of a head to each 100 souls; and in these unions, by the authorized reports of the Poor-law Inquiry Commission, the farms rated at from six to sixty acres, but few were so large as sixty acres; the majority was not of more than ten 536 acres, and the average of not more than twenty acres. The acres rated at about 1¾ acre to each head; the peasantry had abundance of wholesome food, and there was a large export of provisions. If any hon. Member should visit Ireland, he (Mr. Crawford) would be happy to receive him, and make it clear that there was good foundation for all he had asserted. But numerous enclosure bills that were continually presented to their notice. Those bills clearly proved that, whatever they might think of these lands, there were plenty of capitalists in this country willing and ready to invest their money in improving them, and it should be remembered that there was plenty of land, exclusive of that enclosed, which might be of great value to the poor, though it was utterly valueless to the rich. It was his wish that they should give the poor an interest in such lands. If they let them feel that they possessed such interest, they would be sure to make profitable use of their labour. The State, too, might most advantageously come to their assistance and promote the cultivation of these waste lands. In Ireland that plan had already been tried with success. By referring to a report of the Public Works Committee, the House would find that in Connaught 160,000l. of the public money had been advanced for the improvement of waste lands, and that in seven years the whole of that capital had been repayed. In the county of Cork 60,000l. had been advanced with the same result. He said, then, "Don't talk of emigration, but go to your waste lands, and reclaim them." That was his remedy for the evil of a superabundant population. The hon. Member had talked about a bridge across the Atlantic, and had said that if such a bridge existed there would be no difficulty in providing for the people. But why did he not open his eyes to the one real position at home? How was it he did not see the 15,000,000 acres of cultivatable lands which were lying waste in Great Britain? But then he might be asked whether he thought the cultivation of these waste lands would be of itself a sufficient remedy. To this he answered, that there would be undoubtedly many auxiliary measures necessary. In the first 537 place a bill ought to be passed enabling landlords who were merely tenants for life to raise money on their estates for the purpose of cultivating all waste lands; and if they neglected to do so the State ought, he thought, to have the power of stepping in. Then there was another re medy—the repeal of the Corn-law. He did not wish to raise a Corn-Law debate, but they ought to enable the people not only to obtain employment, but to obtain cheap food. Then he should advise them to repeal the sugar duties, and so open a better market for our commerce with certain foreign countries. Again, they might very beneficially reduce their present extravagant expenditure, and, as far as possible, the heavy burthen of their taxation. The taxes were at present an enormous burthen upon the people. There were various means of reducing them. One method he should suggest was the reduction of the present military expenditure of the nation. At this present moment we had no less than 55,000 men on home service. He should like to know the use of such an establishment as that? By reducing a force, for which there would be no necessity were it not for bad legislation, they might, let them bear in mind, relieve the country of 1,000,000l. per annum, in the shape of taxes. Then, again, he would suggest that no enclosure acts should be passed in which the Government did not retain a superintending power. All these would be auxiliary measures to any such general measure as that he proposed. He was one of those who held the unfashionable doctrine that in proportion to the extent of population so were the wealth and prosperity of a state. Had it not been for our people, where would now have been our power—where our success in war—where our prosperity in commerce? Instead, therefore, of pointing out means to expatriate that population, their great object should be, according to his view, to support their people in comfort and happiness at home. He could not accede to the hon. Member's views concerning the advantages of emigration. The hon. Member had read reports which set forth the benefit of emigration to our colonies, but in his opinion, we only injured ourselves by conferring such benefits, inasmuch as the exclusive protection of colonies must necessarily be an injury to foreign commerce. It was said, that young men and women were 538 wanted abroad. Why, that was just the class we required at home? If the young and industrious were taken away, what was to become of those who were left behind? For his part, he should be by no means obliged to the hon. Member for introducing a system of colonization which left us only the idle and infirm. Let it be remembered, that for every strong man we expatriated, we expatriated so much national wealth. The hon. Member talked of the emigrants sending the surplus pro duce of their labour to the mother country. Why, what would be the surplus produce of their labour? These people went abroad to obtain any labour that offered—they were not to gather gold from every bough, but to toil for their daily bread—to lead, in fact, the life of slaves. What opportunity would such as these possess of sending us surplus products? For his part he could not help feeling that this principle ought not to be adopted by the country as a means of affording the people permanent relief. As a temporary means of relieving them it might be thought less objection able; but he cautioned the country not to permit the expatriation of those whose labour constituted our national wealth, and by whose daily toil England had become elevated to her present prosperity. With these feelings and views he would move, by way of amendment, the following resolution:—That the resources derivable from the lands, manufactures, and commerce of the United Kingdom, if fully brought into action, are adequate to afford the means of giving employment and supplying food to the whole population; and that, therefore, before any measures be adopted for removing to foreign lands any portion of that population, it is the first duty of this House to take into consideration the measures necessary for the better application of these resources to the employment and support of the people.
Mr. Gally Knight
said, after the speech which had been delivered that evening by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, a speech replete with much and various in formation, replete with just and generous sentiments, dealing with a subject of vast importance, and dealing with it in a masterly manner—he felt he could say nothing that could add to the force of the arguments which had been used; but having long taken a deep interest in the subject of colonization, and being impressed with the belief that at this time a systematic colonization was more than ever desirable, he 539 could not but rise to tender his thanks to the hon. Member for bringing the subject forward in the manner he had done, and to express a hope that the hon. Member's appeal would not be made in vain. He had said, that he considered a systematic colonization most desirable at the present moment; for, though he could not believe with the author of an able pamphlet (Col. Torrens) that the sun of England was set, that the commerce of England would continue to decrease, that wages would continue to decline, that the operatives would have to learn to live on inferior food; though he would not bring himself to believe all this, yet he was compelled to admit that there was great room for anxiety that it was our duty to take every precaution to avert the evils with which we were menaced—at any rate it was our duty to make it clear to the people that we were not insensible to their sufferings, but that, on the contrary, we were anxious to do all in our power to alleviate their distress. But then, in the endeavour to do so, after the manner pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, we were met in limine by the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Rochdale, who denied that population could ever be redundant, and proposed that the destitute should be located at home, with the assistance of the State, on small holdings of land. Now, he could not but be surprised that such a proposition should proceed from a native of the sister isle—for though he had every reason to believe that, in whatever sphere the hon. Member for Rochdale presided, there would be no distress, yet he should have thought that the hon. Member must have been aware that, in other parts of Ireland, much distress and inconvenience existed from a numerous population, each holding his scrap of land, in exactly the manner recommended by the hon. Member. The hon. Member had next recommended, in preference to colonization, the total and immediate abolition of the Corn-laws. On this point, however, he would venture to remind the hon. Member that he had been answered by anticipation by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, who had allowed, though himself an advocate for the repeal of the Corn-laws, that such repeal would be no remedy without axiliary measures, and would produce anything but immediate relief to our suffering population. The same conclusion had also been arrived at by Colonel Torrens, who, with 540 the hon. and learned Member, was equally a free trader. Colonel Torrens says, in the pamphlet to which he had already alluded, that—The abolition of the Corn-laws would be utterly inoperative as far as regards the removal of the causes which are depressing money wages, whilst it would be accompanied, in the first instance at least, by a period of transition and revulsion, during which a portion of the rural population would be reduced to destitution.And when the hon. Member for Rochdale recommended colonization at home—when he recommended the cultivation of waste lands, and barren places, which, from their sterility, had been suffered to remain in a state of nature, he must say, that this was only a revival of the doctrines of Mr. Sadler, delivered by him in 1828, and refuted over and over again. Those whom you first employed in the redemption of Irish bogs, or English heaths, might be pretty well off themselves, but their children would greatly aggravate the evil which it was sought to remedy, and, after a short time, there would be a greater redundancy of population than before. And as to the cruelty of inducing such of our countrymen as were in a state of destitution here, to exchange that state for one of ease and comfort in one of our own colonies, where they would not be "slaves" as the hon. Member for Rochdale called them, but free men, surrounded by their own hrethren, hearing their own language spoken, governed by British authorities and British laws, he was at a loss to understand how any rational man could view the subject in that light. Ubi bene, ibi patria. The British emigrant would breathe as freely in New Zealand and Australia as in this country. Instead of struggling for occasional work, he would find constant employment—and would, eventually, be the means of extending the empire, the institutions, and the religion of England over some portion of every quarter of the globe. But, then, another class of objectors said, what good will you do with your nostrum? If you make a gap, it will be filled up again in a very short time. This, again, was a fallacy that had often been refuted. Experience proved that when, from a redundance of population, the disproportion of labour to wages, as in the case of Ireland, has reduced the poor to a state of desperation, they become reckless, and marry without foresight or providence, whilst, in a less unhappy state of society, men were 541 not reckless, and had regard to prudential considerations—so that, after the proportions between labour and capital have been restored by emigration, population would be found not to increase as rapidly as before—and the gap would not be filled up. In parts of Scotland, which had been relieved by emigration, the redundance had not recurred. The supply of labour keeps with the demand. The hon. Member Rochdale had laid it down, that we should never be able to carry on colonization on such a scale as really to relieve the country. To this argument he would reply by an old, but simple illustration. If in any given locality, there should be 1,000 operatives, and work only for 900, the whole thousand would be in a state of discomfort; but, of these operatives, only remove 100, and the remaining 900 would be at once restored to full work, and consequent prosperity—a proof that the removal of a proportion of the population, relatively small, would suffice to afford considerable relief. But then it was asked how, in these times of depression, with our finances in so un satisfactory a state, how are we to encounter the expense? But the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard had already removed this objection. The hon. Gentleman had shown, that the mother country need not be put to any expense at all; that, by adopting the best principle of colonization that principle which Mr. Gibbon Wakefield had developed before the committee, which sat in 1836—the whole expense would be defrayed by the sale of the wild land. It was necessary to put a sufficient price upon the wild land, not for the sake of the money, but for the sake of securing a proper combination of labour, and preventing the colonists from, at first, straggling over too wide a surface. Let them hear what Mr. Wakefield said upon this point:—Every thing depends upon the combination of labour. In order to have free labour combined, there must be a class of persons in the society who are ready to let their labour for hire. That class never exists where laud is cheap. The price should be sufficient, and no more than sufficient, to effect this object.The whole proceeds of the sale of land should go to form a fund by which the expense of systematic colonization might be met. Mr. Wakefield says:—The effect of employing revenue arising from the sale of land in an emigration fund, would be to give the greatest possible progress 542 to that good sort of colonization, of which the price had been the deliberate object. With a sufficient price, the land will be colonized as well as possible. By employing the whole purchase-money as an emigration fund, the land will be colonized as fast as possible,Upon this system of colonization, and in reprobation of old plans of making profuse grants of land, the best comment was to be found in a well known despatch of Lord Glenelg, who says, that—In new countries, it is possible, by having the price of land so high, as to place it above the reach of the poorest settlers, to keep the labour-market in its most prosperous state from the beginning. This precaution will at once ensure a supply of labourers, and prevent the settlers from spreading over too wide a surface. Society, thus kept together, is more open to civilizing influences—more directly under the control of the Government—more full of the activity which is inspired by common society, and of the strength which is derived from the division of labour; and, altogether, is in a sounder state, morally, politically, and economically, than if left to pursue its natural course.All objections being thus removed, the only remaining question was, whether colonization should be left to itself, or whether it should be carried on under the immediate directions of Government? Now, it seemed to him, that there were many reasons why it should. There was, in the first place, great mischief in irregular colonization. They could never ensure colonization on correct principles, without Government authority; and if colonization were not conducted on correct principles, the emigrants would be inevitably exposed to severer hardships than they need encounter, and the prosperity of the colony would be delayed. It was not right to allow the emigrants to throw themselves into the wilds of Canada or Australia, without a compass, without a guide, and, perhaps, at the will of some money-making jobber in land. He could not more strongly illustrate the necessity of Government superintendence than by reading a passage which he had found in The Times:—To give security to capitalists, not independence to the labourers, and confidence to both; to stimulate enterprise, yet repress wild speculations; to array, support, settle, move, control, educate, those masses who are to wage the war of peace against the forests of Canada or the plains of Australia; all this to be done steadily and surely, if indeed systematic colonization is to be taken up with effect and on a large scale. Nothing, certainly, short of supreme authority, can undertake such a task, 543 and no object could be deemed more worthy of a master mind.He thought very possibly, that the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in answer to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, would inform the House, that thousands were already emigrating from this country of their own accord, and that it would be better to "leave well alone." The noble Lord would very possibly say, that although systematic colonization, superintended by Government, is no new notion, no visionary dream, though it has been recommended by statesmen and philosophers, though it is now recommended by the petition of a set of men who had been said fairly to represent a very influential fraction of the capital of the country, yet he would much rather not interfere. If he ventured to entertain an opinion opposite to that which the noble Lord might entertain upon this subject, he begged to say, that his opinions, such as they were, had been chiefly imbibed in the noble Lord's own school—that it had always been his pride, as he had always considered it to be his duty, to follow him in his political course, at however immeasurable a distance—and that, if he was wrong in now pressing the noble Lord to make a step in advance,, to go a little further and faster, he would only state that he had taken a feather from the noble Lord's own wing. A few years ago, in 1828, systematic colonization had been recommended by his lamented Friend Sir R. Wilmot Horton, for the relief of the redundant population of Ireland. From totally different causes, the population of England was now equally redundant. The necessity, therefore, for colonization was greatly increased; and in reply to those who say that the present is no temporary plethora, that, if emigration is really wanted, it will be wanted more largely every year, he would again have recourse to the words of Mr. Wakefield, who says in his evidence:—The more emigration there is, the more there may be. The more labourers you send to the colonies, the greater will the demand be for labourers in the colonies—the demand will continually increase.There was only one point in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard from which he differed, without dreaming of such a thing as compulsory emigration, he could not see any strong objection to defraying the expenses of pauper voluntary emigrants out of the paro- 544 chial rates. Under the New Poor-law, however, no portion of the parochial rate could be thus applied without first convening a general meeting of all the ratepayers. They knew how much objection there was to convening such large meetings in populous towns, and how doubtful was the issue. In fact, the consequence of this stipulation had been, that the clause in the New Poor-law, authorising the encouragement of emigration, had remained a dead letter. It was his intention, when the New Poor-law came under the consideration of the House, to endeavour to effect an alteration in this clause. Feeling, as he did, that we ought to do all in our power to relieve the distress of the people and avert the evils with which the country was menaced—feeling that systematic colonization offers the most probable mode of affording that relief, and averting those evils, and that systematic colonization can only be carried out as it should be carried out, under the immediate direction of Government, he would give the motion before the House his cordial support.
said; Sir, the motion now before the House—I mean the original motion brought forward by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard is connected with many circumstances which recommends it to the particular, the patient, and the unprejudiced consideration of the House. It comes before the House with the approbation and consent of at least that large portion of hon. Members who are not accurately acquainted with the actual condition of the emigration question, and who, consequently, cannot know how far the change which the hon. Member seeks has already been carried into practical effect by her Majesty's Government. It comes, too, recommended to our consideration by motives of policy and humanity. The hon. and learned Gentleman places in front of his motion the words,That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she will take into her most gracious consideration the means by which extensive and systematic colonization may be most effectually rendered available for augmenting the resources of her Majesty's empire, giving additional employment to capital and labour, both in the United Kingdom and in the colonies, and thereby bettering the condition of her people.It comes, as I said, recommended by policy; for by it the hon. and learned Gentleman seeks to establish a new class 545 of consumers for the products of our manufacturing industry. We are interrested in it by motives of humanity, for it is put forward as a means of transferring to regions where they can procure an easy and abundant livelihood, a population which is here struggling with all the horrors of distress and starvation. It comes recommended by the weight and influence of large bodies of the commercial classes deeply interested in this subject and who think they see in systematic colonization, the means of relieving the country from that plethora of capital which they are labouring, and labouring in vain, to seek a profitable investment for. And last of all, Sir, the motion comes recommended by a speech of singular moderation and ability—a speech in almost the whole of which I concur, differing from the hon. Gentleman not in the positions which he laid down (with which in the main I agree) but in the proposition which, in conclusion, he submitted to the House. Having acknowledged the ability of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, I must say that any objections to his motion are not based on the reasons of my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Gally Knight) and I must in the first place set right my hon. Friend, who represents himself as following my example, and acting on principles propounded by me in giving his support to this motion, as if it were a plan opposed to the principles of the Government, whereas, the hon. and learned Gentleman distinctly stated, that it was an extension and not an alteration of the system which we have carried into effect. But the motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, if it be unnecessary, on the ground that what he seeks to attain is now practically in operation, seems peculiarly ungracious towards the Government and likely to be injurious to the public because, if carried, it will lead to exaggerated expectations of benefit, and will induce in the minds of a distressed population the belief that the Government is willing to adopt an extensive and systematic plan of colonization as a means of relieving their distress. In opposition then, not to the speech, but to the motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I shall take leave to assert, and I trust I shall be able to prove, that at this moment and for many years, there has been going on, under the direct control, sanction, and superintendence, of Government acting in concert with the 546 Governors of our colonies and with agents placed in them an extensive and systematic colonization which is only not formed on the uniform principle advocated by the hon. Member, because, in consequence of the differences in our colonies, that would be impracticable. The hon. and learned Gentleman has admitted (as every man must do who has considered the subject), I that to apply the same principle to our colonies in America and our colonies in I Australia, would be to stultify ourselves, and that it would be anything but acting on a judicious system to apply the same rule to colonies standing in a totally different relation to the mother country. I shall venture, however, to promise that I shall prove (and I am afraid I shall have to trespass at some length with details, the importance of the question really turning upon them) that emigration is at present going on satisfactorily, widely, I and safely, under the superintendence, direction, control, and protection of the Government; and I shall contend, that the proper duty of a Government is not to force and compel emigration, but to assist, guide, and protect its course. I shall not follow the hon. mover of the amendment into the wide field which he has opened, but which he has invited the House to discuss; but this I will say, that though I am not prepared to deny that much may be done by prudent legislation, and much more by prudent and humane treatment, on the part of the landholders, towards improving the condition of the labouring classes, I cannot, whilst I resist compulsory emigration on the one hand, adopt the view of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Crawford) on the other, who thinks that if the owner of property be not prepared to lay out a sufficient sum for cultivating the waste part of his lands, the State shall forcibly interfere, and compel him to do so, whether he will or not. I am against interference with the employment of the labourer at home, or with his emigration abroad. I shall be able to show, that so far as it is wise, politic, or humane for a government to interfere, we have given protection to the poor and encouragement to the rich, by such facilities as it was in the power of a government to afford. First, I think we may place out of consideration all those colonies not included under one or other of the heads of North America and South Australia, including in the latter terms all our depen- 547 dencies in the southern hemisphere. He would first advert to Canada. The hon. Member for Liskeard first spoke in terms of reprobation of the system which prevailed some years ago, but which, I am happy to say, no longer exists, and under which emigrants were exposed to all the tricks and rogueries of passage-brokers. They were carried out to the colonies in leaky and ill-found vessels, they received no assistance on arriving at the place of their destination, there was no one on the spot to welcome them and supply them with provisions; but they were thrown out of the vessel, uncared for ("bundled out" was the phrase used by the hon. Member for Liskeard), on the quays of Quebec, in a state of perfect destitution, the horrors of which were frequently aggravated by disease contracted on the passage. Nothing could be worse than such an unregulated, unorganized and unprotected system of emigration. But is that the case now? I will show the House and the country that emigrants, who now proceed from this country to even the most distant point of her Majesty's possessions in North America, are never for a single moment away from the superintending eye, and the protecting care of the Government. Within the last few years a commission was established, which is composed of two gentlemen whose diligence and assiduity in the discharge of the duties of their office, are well known to all who come in contact with them. One of these Gentlemen had long experience in the Colonial Office, and, subsequently, as Secretary to the Government in Canada; the other is the brother of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton; and I am fully warranted in saying, that nothing can exceed the diligence and assiduity with which both these gentlemen discharge their duties. I will refer only to that part of their duty which relates to the furnishing of information and assistance to intending emigrants. The arrangements which the commissioners have made relative to these points, came before the House last year in a paper which was moved for by an hon. Member. That paper contains tabular statements, which are furnished quarterly by the different agents established in Canada, to the commissioners, and by them transmitted to any person who may apply for them, either verbally or by letter; and the House would find, that those statements comprised all 548 the information which it is desirable and necessary for emigrants proceeding to the colonies to be possessed of. Amongst this information are the average prices in the colonies of fifty-five of the principal articles of food, clothing, and other necessaries which are indispensable to a settler on his first arrival. In another table is furnished the average amount of wages paid, and whether with or without board and lodging, to persons exercising no less than thirty-one different trades; besides a list of questions which would be answered by emigration agents on the spot as to the expense, by estimates of erecting country dwellings, descriptions of the kinds of labour most in request, the rate of emigration with a comparison of the supply with the demand for labour; in short, there is scarcely a point of the slightest importance to emigrants upon which the most ample information is not furnished; and all this is corrected quarterly, and communicated without any charge to such of the labouring classes intending to emigrate as may apply for it. Besides this, there is stationed at every port of the United Kingdom an emigration agent, to whom all emigrants are directed to apply, and by whom they are supplied with such information as they may require, and are protected against the frauds of brokers. When the emigrants are on board the vessel, the strictest regulations for their com. fort and protection are enforced under the act passed in the course of last year, and I believe that those regulations are quite satisfactory to all captains and shipowners who are disposed to carry on their business fairly and honestly. In the colony, an emigration agent receives the emigrants at the port of landing, ascertains by examination whether the conditions of the passage have been complied with, listens to the complaints of the emigrants, and if he finds them well-founded, affords them, on the part of the Government, redress. If any of the emigrants should be sick, and require medical treatment, the agent sends them to an hospital, which is supported at the expense of the province, and of this country. A tax is levied in the province for the purpose of maintaining the hospital and a quarantine establishment; and a vote is annually taken in this House for the same purpose. On every point of the colony to which the emigrant may proceed, he finds an agent or sub-agent, employed and paid by the 549 Government, to afford him information as to the best means of obtaining employment—to forward him to his friends, if he have any, and to assist him with provisions and money, if he should be entirely destitute. Thus the superintending care of the Government is carried on, from point to point, from the time the emigrant leaves his home at the extremity of Norfolk or Connaught, till he rejoins his friends in the wilds and wastes of Upper Canada. From first to last, he is never for a single moment wholly withdrawn from the Superintendence and protection of the Government. I hope I shall not exhaust the attention of the House if, in connection with this part of the subject I read an extract from the returns laid on the Table of the House in the course of the present year, being a part of the report of one of the emigration agents, Mr. Hawke, dated Kingston, December 21st, 1842:—During the current year nearly 34,000 immigrants have been landed at this agency; they generally arrived in parties numbering from 50 to 300 or 400 persons. The course adopted at this office with reference to their distribution, and the relief which is occasionally afforded has been as follows:—We will assume that a party of 200 immigrants are to be disposed of; the names of the heads of families and their occupation are first ascertained, as well as their destination, if they have left home with the intention of settling in any particular part of the province. We will suppose that seventy-five with to proceed to Toronto, twenty-five to Cobourg and Port Hope, twenty-five to the ports on the Bay of Quinte, and that the remaining seventy-five are in search of work. As the steam-boats leave Kingston for Cobourg, Port Hope, and Toronto every evening at eight o'clock, except on Sunday and Monday, during the season, the immigrants anxious to proceed to these ports are first examined, and the questions generally put to them are as follow:—When did you leave Montreal? Did you apply to or receive any relief from the agent at that port? If these questions are answered in the affirmative, the Montreal list is referred to, and if it confirms his statement, his reasons for wishing to proceed to any particular place are demanded. The reason generally assigned is, 'I have relatives settled there, and I came to Canada to join them.' If the immigrants have any letters or written directions from their friends, they are required to produce them. We then endeavour to discover whether their poverty is real or pretended. If the immigrant given a straightforward account of the means which be started with, and the manner in which he has expended it on his journey, his claim is admitted. If he hesitates or declines, his claim is rejected; at all events, until fur- 550 ther inquiry can be made. As soon as the whole of the party have been examined, the free lists for the different ports are made out, as well as another list showing the amount of food which each family is to receive. The party is then taken to the bakery, and from thence to the steam-boat. The twenty-five immigrants for the Bay of Quinte undergo a similar examination. As the steam-boats for the ports on the bay leave at nine o'clock in the morning, the immigrants are sent to the sheds and supplied with food for the night, if necessary. The seventy-five who have no particular destination, and who want employment, remain to be disposed of. They are generally sent to the sheds for the night, and ordered to be at the office early on the following morning. They undergo the same examination as their comrades. The application to the office for farm servants, labourers, &c, are examined, and such of the immigrants as will probably suit the applicants, are sent forward. If the supply of labourers exceed the demand, which is frequently the case, the overplus is distributed through those districts which are most likely to require their services. The immigrants thus sent are furnished with the names of some respectable persons residing in the part of the district to which they are directed, with a request that they will have the goodness to send the immigrants to any persons in the vicinity who are in want of labourers. But if they are sent to Toronto, or Hamilton, this duty devolves upon the agents stationed at these ports. As to the extent of the relief which is afforded to indigent immigrants at this and the other agencies in Canada west, it is confined to medical attendance and comfort to the sick, and free passages and food to the healthy. The rates of conveyance for 1842 are as follow:—
Currency. From Bytown to Kingston. each adult 2s. 6d. From Kingston to Dickinson's Landing 6 3 From Kingston to Ports on the Bay of Quinte 4 0 From Kingston to Cobourg and Port Hope 3 9 From Kingston to Toronto 7 6 From Toronto to Hamilton 3 9 From Toronto to Niagara 3 0Being 25 per cent. under the established charges. Transport by land is of course more expensive than by water. The average expense may be stated at 1d. per mile for each adult. The supply of food is in all cases proportioned to the time occupied on the journey. We give a 4lb. loaf of bread, the cost of which averages about 7½d. currency, to each person over fourteen years old, sent to Toronto, and in proportion to other places. Emigrants who remain in the sheds rarely get more than one or two days supply of food, unless the head of the family is confined by sickness to the hospital. In such cases the assistance is continued until the patient recovers, or employment can be found for such members of his family as are able to work.So much with respect to the superin- 551 tending care which the Government exercises over emigrants. My hon. Friend behind me (Mr. G. Knight), anticipated that I would say upon this occasion, "Things are going on favourably; don't interfere; let well alone." My hon. Friend spoke of the necessity of adopting some scheme of extensive colonization and emigration. What would the House suppose has been the total amount of emigration from this country in the course of the last few years? Recollect, I am speaking of voluntary emigration; not emigration paid for by the Government, but merely superintended, controlled and protected by the Government. The total number of emigrants from the United Kingdom, during the last two years, is no less than 246,936. Is not that extensive emigration. At the same time it appears most material that the House should clearly see the actual state of the question in the results which statistics supply; and with the permission of the House I will just show the progress of emigration to Canada alone. The number of emigrants to Canada was, in 1839, 17,439; in 1840, 22,000; in 1841, 28,000; in 1842, 44,374. That is the extent to which emigration now takes place from this country to the single British province of Canada, and it wilt be interesting to the House to see at what expense to the country this large amount of emigration has been poured into the colony; united with their friends, or planted in the spots which the individuals were desirous of occupying. The total amount paid by this country for defraying all the expenses connected with emigration, including the salaries of officers, is 12,388l. At this moderate cost all the advantages of superintendence to which I have adverted are secured to 44,374 emigrants in one year, being at the rate of about 5s. 8d. per head. Do you imagine, that if you had held forth the expectation that you are about to take the business of emigration altogether into your own hands, you will be able to achieve anything like this comparative amount of good at anything like this comparative amount of expense? We have had some experience on this point, to which I will advert by-and-by; but, I will ask first, is it quite certain that, by announcing that Government would give direct aid to persons desirous of going to Canada, you would greatly increase the amount of emigra- 552 tion? And if you did increase the number, are you sure that you would not so disturb the proportion existing between the supply of labour, and the means of employing it by capital in the colony, as to inflict the greatest hardship and distress on those whom it is your object to benefit? There is another point of view in which this question must be considered. Supposing that you, by giving direct Government aid, increase the amount of emigration, is such a course of proceeding fair to those emigrants who go out by their voluntary exertions? In the first place, will you not paralyse all exertion on the part of those who now gather by their own exertions the means of transporting themselves to the colonies? In the next place, will you not, by increasing the amount of emigration, raise the charge of freight to voluntary emigrants? Again, will you not expose those emigrants who have exhausted their means in transporting themselves to the colony, and now depend on their labour for subsistence, to unfair competition, by sending out their neighbours at the public expense. Let not any hon. Member treat lightly the idea of competition for labour in Canada. Rely upon it, that in Canada the competition for labour is as keen as it is elsewhere. Our fellow-countrymen in Canada have not only to compete with each other, but with the inhabitants of the United States. The hon. Mover referred to the United States, and remarked how much better things were managed there; that there was no distress there—that the land sales were enormous, on which point, however, the hon. Gentleman is mistaken. [Mr. C. Buller: the land sales are increasing.] It is not so; they are very much falling-off. But leaving that point for the present, I will show the competition to which labourers are subjected in Canada. In the course of the last year, some considerable public works were undertaken in Canada, and persons emigrating from this country supposed that the demand for labour would be great, and that they would be sure to obtain employment immediately on their arrival. It happened, however, that the works were to be executed by contract, and the contractors did not find it their interest to employ fresh emigrants, unaccustomed to and unskilled in the work. They knew, that by employing skilled labourers, they would get the greatest amount of work performed at the 553 least cost. And where did they get these labourers from? Chiefly from the United States. Labourers emigrated in large numbers from the United States into Canada, because, owing to the commercial difficulties and embarrassments which occurred in the former country, they could obtain no employment there, and they were driven to seek a market for their labour amongst people speaking the same language with themselves, and governed by nearly the same laws. In addition to the 44,374 persons who went from this country to Canada last year, it has been ascertained, that no fewer than 6,000 emigrated from the United States into the colony in search of employment. It appears that from the port of New York alone, in the course of the last year, 9,900 persons, who were unable to find employment, re-emigrated, not to Canada, but to this country. Now, I ask whether, if, in the face of these facts, we, by exciting exaggerated expectations, should give a stimulus to emigration, and thereby overstock the labour market in Canada? I ask whether we should not defeat the humane intentions of those who think it desirable to establish a more extensive system of emigration? This argument is still more applicable to other colonies. From New Brunswick I have received the most earnest entreaties, that I will exercise the influence I may derive from my official position to deter persons going from this country to that colony in seach of labour, because the labour market there is already overstocked. I can assure the House, that in these colonies it is difficult to find employment to that description of labourers whom the colonists are most desirous o having amongst them, and whom, as the hon. Member for Rochdale observed, we car least afford to part with here—namely, the young, the active, and the hardy, who an conversant with agricultural labour. Those are the labourers who stand the best chance of obtaining employment in the colonies, but at the same time they form that portion of our population which, with a view to relieving the distress of this country, it would be least desirable to par with. Let the House suppose the case of a young married couple, strong, healthy accustomed to field labour, they would belong to the class which it was most desirable to obtain in the colony, and the least desirable to lose. By the terms of the motion, however, one would suppose 554 that the intention was, not to send those out to the colonies who would be likely to prove the most acceptable, but rather those whom we could best spare—the sweepings and refuse of the manufacturing districts, the old, the impotent, the feeble, the sick of the towns; not the sturdy agricultural labourer of the rural districts; who is the only sort of man who would do well in a colony. It may be humane to bring forward such a proposition as the present, and I am quite sure that it is brought forward with the best possible intentions; but I confess that I see no great humanity in merely removing paupers from under our eye and observation, and exposing them to sufferings and hardships which we have no right to inflict? [Mr. C. Buller: I do not propose that]. I am aware that the hon. Member does not; but I am surprised that the hon. Member, after declaring his approval of the plan of emigration which has been in operation during the last nine or ten years, should have concluded by moving an address to the Crown to take the subject into consideration with a view to the relief of the distresses of the country. I am aware that there are theories and plans put forth day after day which are calculated to give birth to the most extravagant expectations. We are told that the Government should learn wisdom, abandon the plan on which it has been acting with reference to this question during the last few years, and adopt some large and comprehensive scheme of emigration. These theorists talk of sending out millions of emigrants at once. Comprehensive schemes, indeed? One of these comprehensive schemes was sent to me this morning by a gentleman who ought to know something of the subject, and who thinks he does. The gentleman I allude to is Mr. James Silk Buckingham who accompanied his pamphlet by a note, in which he expressed a hope that I would not consider his plan visionary and impracticable. I am, however, sorry to say, that anything more visionary and impracticable, it was never my fortune to meet with. Yet this scheme is described by a Colonial Gazette, or Colonial Magazine, or some such publication which professes to be well acquainted with colonial matters, as—A plan of national colonization for the relief of the mother country and the benefit of the colonies, which cannot fail to attract considerable attention at the present moment.555 Now, this plan is based upon the proposition which I will read to the House:—The whole of the unappropriated lands in the colonies being the property of the British nation, the Legislature has the undoubted right to dispose of them in any manner in which, by an act framed for that purpose, they may think fit to prescribe—regarding, as the basis of such act, the present exigencies of the British population, and the importance of their well-being to the general national welfare."Mr. Buckingham, who has, I believe, published an account of his travels in the United States, ought to have been aware, so far from all the land in the British North-American colonies being at the disposal of the Government, it cannot dispose of a single acre. The whole of the land is exclusively at the disposal and under the control of the local legislatures, and not a single shilling obtained for them was at the command of the Government or Parliament of Great Britain. Other details of this scheme, are of the most extraordinary character. Mr. Buckingham says:—If, in the first year in which such an act should come into operation, a million of persons should be conveyed, at the public expense, across the Atlantic, the savings in the poor-rates and private charity alone throughout the kingdom would more than pay the cost: for the ships being the property of the nation, and the seamen and officers already in its pay, the really additional expense would be very trifling; certainly not 5,000,000l.; and thus, supposing 10,000,000l. to be saved to the country by this relief, a fund would remain, out of which might be provided all the necessary implements of husbandry, seed, and cattle, for the first settlement. These being collected in depots, in each province, might be supplied to individual settlers, at a year's credit, payable on the spot; with power to distrain if not punctually discharged, or to defer for another year, if special circumstances warranted such an indulgence; so that the actual outlay of the Government in capital might be fully saved to the country, in diminished poor-rates and charitable contributions, and all the supply of implements, cattle, and seed for first stocking farms be reimbursed in two or three years at the farthest.In another paragraph of the same work, Mr. Buckingham proposes an extension of his plan in these words;—An act might therefore be passed, authorising the free gift of certain fixed and defined portions of such lands to families or individuals applying for them on certain conditions to be prescribed, not at the discretion of 556 any governor or other public authority, but by a law and regulation bearing equally upon all, and free from the possibility of any favour or preference for any.
, in the third paragraph of page 9, of his pamphlet, said,—That in order to insure the best practicable guarantee for the due fulfilment of the conditions on which such free gifts should be made, the power of Government to resume possession of all lands forfeited by non-performance of the requisite conditions, and the power of regranting them to others, should form a part of such act.This writer further continued to say,—That the requisite free conveyance of all applicants for land under certain fixed regulations also should be provided for by the same law, and the Government be authorized to employ the requisite number of ships, as well as to make such grants of money as might be voted in the naval estimates of the year for that purpose.This is, perhaps, the first time that the House has heard of levying a distress upon a million of men. It is greatly to be regretted, I must say, that such works are printed and puffed, and put forward in a manner calculated to excite such unfounded and mischievous expectations; I will, however, take no farther notice of such schemes, and I feel assured that the House of Commons will take good care that they give no countenance—nor the smallest degree of sanction—to such projects by adopting ambiguous phrases, such as "comprehensive schemes of emigration" to excite extravagant expectations in the public mind. We have tried to a certain extent the scheme of sending out and settling emigrants at the public expense. It was tried, on the recommendation of a committee which was appointed at the instance of the late Sir Wilmot Horton. In the years 1823 and 1825 emigrants were sent out at an expense of 23l. or 25l. a-head, instead of 5s. 8c?., as was the rate of expenditure in the year 1842. There is nothing new in those plans, they have often been proposed; but to talk of distraining on a great multitude of emigrants is absurd. The expenses incurred in the years 1823 and 1825 were regarded in the light of loans to the emigrants; but not a single shilling bad ever been recovered from them. The only means of dealing with lands to be given to emigrants is to sell them for cash. With respect to Canada, the danger always has been lest the labourers seeking for em- 557 ployment should outrun the means of occupying them which the colony possessed, and nothing, I think, could be more unadvisable than that Government should enter into an extended plan of pauper emigration. That facilities should be given for the introduction of capital into that colony is a truth which no one can deny; but it should at the same time be remembered that the means at the disposal of the Government are exceedingly limited. They can do little much than give every facility for the acquisition of titles to land, and to see that no obstacles arise in the Surveyor-general's department. This the Government is bound to do. Further, I must inform the hon. and learned Gentleman, that a great improvement has taken place since the hon. Member presented a report on the subject to the late Lord Durham. Almost all the recommendations of the hon. and learned Gentleman have already been adopted. Our North American colonies do not want a supply of mere labourers, neither do they present a field for the extended speculation of large capitalists who have generally failed; but I believe for men of moderate means, the Canadas offer a very fair prospect of success. The necessaries and comforts of life can there be procured upon a much smaller income than in England, or perhaps in any other part of the world; for that middle class, for the younger sons of gentlemen, our North American possessions hold out many attractions, and contain a very favourable field for settlements. The case of our Australian colonies is, however, widely different, and the system to be there observed wholly dissimilar. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard said, and I agree with him that if one of those colonies could be suddenly attached to our shores the occupation of wild lands would be instantaneous; but, supposing that colony were not to be attached, but merely so situated as that only a narrow strait separated the new from the old country, would not a bridge like that at Menai be thrown across? Certainly it would, but a toll must be charged. Then the question is put—why did we not make as much of our land sales as the Government of the United States did? But it is well known that the tide of emigration is in the United States constantly flowing from east to west; no bridge is there required; the people wanting land push 558 each other forward; but even there the work of advancement is overdone, and will never cease to be overdone, so long as excessive trading and fictitious credit continue to exist. The sales of land in the United States realised the following sums:
I have taken these figures from the American Almanack for 1843, and I believe they are correct. The Australian colonies are differently circumstanced from Canada. In Canada, the danger to be apprehended is that of the supply of labour being disproportionate to the amount of capital available for its employment: in Australia the danger is that the capital will be disproportionate to the supply of labour, and the distance is so great, that the poor man cannot afford to emigrate. The circumstances of the colonies being different, it is necessary that different systems should be applied to them. The hon. and learned Gentleman recommends that all land shall be sold at a fixed price, and that the proceeds of those land sales, or, at least, a very large portion of them, shall be applied to the introduction of labour; and he thinks it wise that a high minimum price should be maintained, to prevent the population from spreading over too large an extent of country; and he thinks, and there I quite agree with him, that it will have the effect of checking the too rapid absorption of labour, at the same time that it increases the fund by which labour is to be introduced into the colony. It will make it more difficult for the labourer to rise to the station of a proprietor, and will thus tend to diminish the disproportion between labour and capital. But that principle is already in operation. That principle was introduced in 1832, and has been retained up to the present time, though some alterations, it is true, have since been introduced. The maximum price was fixed in 1839, and again last Session some further changes were introduced, but only with a view to carrying the principle out to its full extent. And what, I would ask, has been the progress of the prosperity of the Australian colonies under that system? I will deal with New South Wales alone, 559 and I will show what has been the progress of New South Wales during the ten years beginning with 1832 and ending with 1841? Take what criterion you will, try what test you please: take the increase of population, the amount of revenue, the increase in the exports or in the imports, I care not by which test you try it; but by any or all of them you will find, that the colony has been making an astonishingly rapid progress under the present system. I find that in the year 1832, the population of New South Wales amounted to 50,000; in 1834 it had risen to 60,000, and in 1841 to 149,000. During these ten years the immigration amounted to 56,851 persons, of whom 23,200 were conveyed to the colony in the last year of the series I have named, and nearly the whole of that number had the expense of their conveyance to New South Wales paid for out of the proceeds of the land sales. Let us take another test. What were the imports into New South Wales? I find the imports in 1832 amounted to the declared value of 604,000l.. In the year 1840 they reached the amount of 3,014,189l. That, however, was a year of great and extravagant speculation, and the amount of the next year was considerably less; but, notwithstanding the falling-off in the imports of 1841, they still exceeded 2,000,000l. I now come to the exports from the colony. In 1832 they amounted to 384,000l., in 1840 to 1,399,000l., and in 1841 to 1,232,000l. The colonial revenue in 1832 was 124,000l. This revenue has constantly gone on increasing since then, and in 1841 it amounted, exclusively of the proceeds of the land sales, to 539,248l. Are not these tests sufficient to show the progress of the colony? and what other colony can be named in which a similar progress has been made during the same period of time? I do not mean to say that I attribute the whole of this progress to the system of land sales, but I do believe that a large portion of it may be attributed to that cause, and to the system of emigration established in connection with those sales. That principle has been established, has operated beneficially, and sincerely sorry should I be to see it interfered with. So much do I approve of that principle, that last year I myself introduced a bill for the express purpose of strengthening that principle, and preventing it from being abandoned at any future time without the express 560 sanction of Parliament. But the hon. and learned Gentleman says the whole of this proceeds of the land sales, every portion of the fund raised by those sales, should be applied to the conveyance of emigrants from this country to the colony. Why, in point of fact, a great deal more has been done than that. More than the amount realised by those sales has been so applied. More than 1,000,000l. has been expended during the last ten years upon emigration. From 1832 till the present period the land sales have produced 1,042,000l.. The amount actually paid for the purposes of emigration, according to Sir George Gipps, was about 1,200,000l., but in this sum must be included payments on account of the aborigines; all parties, however, admit that payments on that account ought legitimately to come out of the land fund. But then the hon. and learned Gentleman says, that though the present system has worked well, it has not worked so well as it might have done. I had hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would not have concluded his speech without explaining to us what measures he would recommend for making the system work better. I had hoped he would not have concluded with a motion for an address to the Crown, praying her Majesty to take into her most gracious consideration the means by which extensive colonization may be most effectually made available. I had hoped he would not have concluded without pointing out what portions of the plan did not work well, or by what means they might be made to work better. [Mr. C. Buller had endeavoured to point them out.] I think the hon. and learned Gentleman made three suggestions. He raised the important question as to what would be a sufficient minimum price for the sale of land, but he did not say whether he considered the price at present charged was too high or too low. Nor did he say what alteration he would propose in the present plan, further than that he considered a fixed price per acre preferable to the plan of selling the public lands by auction. The hon. Gentleman also said that he would anticipate the proceeds of the land sales by a loan, and that he would apply the whole of the proceeds to the purposes of emigration. I have shown him, however, that in New South Wales more than the proceeds of those sales have been applied to that pur- 561 pose, a portion of the revenue of the colony having likewise been expended on it. I come to another of the suggestions of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He argues that the sales should be by a fixed price and not by auction. This is a point that has been most carefully considered, both by the Government here, and the Government in New South Wales, and has been settled by the deliberate judgment of Parliament, by the act which was passed last year. The hon. and learned Gentleman says I introduced that bill after having been only six months in office; and he expresses a hope that I will not adhere to views adopted after so brief an experience. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman, however, that I did not introduce that bill on my own experience or judgment, but on the judgment of a committee of the House of Commons, who had examined the subject with the utmost care, and had particularly directed their attention to the question, what ought to be the price of land in the Australian colonies. I do not mean to say, that that act must on no account be altered; but, although I do not consider that law, or indeed any law, can ever be secure from alteration or amendment, yet I will say this: the object of the act of last year was to secure to the settlers of Australia a fixed system, and to prevent the fluctuations to which they had formerly been liable; and I should decidedly object to any proposal for the alteration of that act, before we have received some announcement as to what the effect of its enactments has been in the Australian colonies. I should particularly object to any alteration at the present time, seeing that we have not yet even received news of the arrival of the act in New South Wales. Nevertheless, the hon. and learned Gentleman moves an address to her Majesty, praying that she will take the subject of colonization into her consideration. Why, the subject has been under the constant consideration of the executive Government for the last ten years. Amendments, suggested by experience, have from time to time been proposed and sanctioned by her Majesty's Government and by Parliament, and we have been acting for the last five years upon the very principle contended for by the hon. and learned Gentleman. I should be glad to have been relieved of the necessity of entering into these details, but the hon. and learned Gentleman has invited me to enter into 562 them, and I find myself obliged to trespass on the time of the House, at the risk of wearying it. Now, with respect to the question, whether the adoption of a fixed price for land is to be preferred to the plan of selling it by auction. We have the highest authority in the colony for the plan of selling by auction, rather than by a fixed price. The noble Lord who preceded me in office as Secretary of State for the Colonies, recommended sales at a fixed price, and sent out positive orders to the colony to that effect. The Governor, however, and the Legislative Council, took it upon themselves to express doubts as to the policy of the proposed plan. Nay more, they took it upon themselves to suspend the orders of the noble Lord, and they sent over a series of statements to show, that had the system of a fixed price been in force, instead of that of selling by auction, a much smaller sum would have been obtained towards the purposes of emigration. I have a return of the sales of land in Port Philip, which shows, that had the principle of a fixed price been in force, the loss upon the sale of 60,220 acres would have amounted to no less a sum than 893,490l. Upon that single transaction alone, and upon the lands sold in the same settlement, from 1837 to 1840, had the fixed price system been in force, the loss, as shown by the same return, would have been no less than 134,000l. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that might be a loss to the public, but it was no loss to the colony. In that opinion I cannot agree. The money difference, so far as the importation of labour is concerned, was a dead loss to the colony, and an addition to that capital which was said to be already superabundant. No doubt, the money must have remained in the hands of some one. The Government and the colony would have lost the money, but it would have got into the pockets, not of the settler, but of the speculator, possibly residing in this country. Such was the case at Adelaide; the money got into the hands of the speculators, and the settlers were obliged to pay such prices for their land as, if properly applied, would have imported labour enough to supply all the wants of the colony. As it was, the speculators gained, and the fund for the importation of labour was so much diminished. So convinced was the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell) by the arguments of the governor and Legislative 563 Council, who most singularly were supported by the report of a committee of that House, which made inquiries in total ignorance of the report from the colony—so convinced was the noble Lord, that having sent out the orders in May, 1840, in August, 1841, he issued instructions, cancelling his previous orders, and reverting again to the sale by auction as the most desirable for the prosperity of the colony. Well, the noble Lord was convinced of the soundness of the plan of sale by auction by the strongest testimonials in its favour from the colony; the Legislature, acting upon the recommendation of a committee of that House, adopted the same plan last Session; and now, with an act passed last year for the regulation of this very matter, and before we have any information that this act has even reached the colony, the hon. and learned Gentle man suggests that we should do away with that act, and—[Mr. C. Buller had made no such suggestion.] The hon. and learned Gentleman says, he suggested nothing of the kind; but, if so, I must have greatly misunderstood the arguments of the hon. and learned Member. I listened to his speech with the greatest attention, an attention which in every sense was due to such a speech, and I really thought I could not have been mistaken in the inferences I drew from it. The hon. and learned Gentleman, however, will, perhaps, say that an increase in the price of land led to a diminution of the land sales. He masks himself in obscurity as to what the plans are which he wishes us to adopt. I try to extract from him what the faults are which he complains of in the present system, and what the improvements are which he is desirous of introducing, but on these points I cannot get him to speak. He says, the increased prices obtained by the sale of land caused a falling, off in the land sales; but if a smaller quantity of land was sold, still a greater amount of money was received for it, and if I am called upon to assign a cause for the falling-off in the sales of land, I will tell the hon. and learned Gentleman to what I attribute that falling-off. I do not attribute it to the increased price at which the land was sold, but I attribute it, in New South Wales as in the United States of America, to exorbitant speculations, fostered by the creation of a fictitious capital. For a time this fictitious capital, and the speculations 564 to which it gave rise, led to the investment of large sums in the purchase of laud; but when the bubble burst, the same consequences followed as are certain to follow in every country, and at every time. To show that these are not merely my opinions, I will read to the House an extract of a speech delivered in the colony by Sir George Gipps. I am really sorry to trespass so long upon the House, but I wish to show the view taken on this subject by the highest authority in the colony. Sir George Gipps says:—
In 1835 16,000,000 dollars 1836 25,157,000 dollars 1837 7,000,000 dollars 1838 4,000,000 dollars 1839 6,000,000 dollars 1840 2,700,000 dollars 1841 1,024,000 dollarsThe present indisposition to buy either land or stock cannot therefore be attributed either to the dearness of land, or to the scarcity of money. To what, then, is it to be attributed? I answer, principally, if not solely, to the general panic which has succeeded a general mania. There is no occasion to go far in search of reasons for the existing derangement of the colony. Wherever a mania for excessive speculation rages, there surely will follow a season of depression; the one, in fact, succeeds the other as naturally as the hot fit of an ague succeeds a cold one. It is this general panic which causes people to hold back from purchasing either land or stock; they hold back, for the most part, in the expectation that prices will fall still lower than they now are, some few, perhaps, in the apprehension that the whole colony is really going to ruin. I need not go at length into all the causes which produced the late mania, or (which is the same thing) brought capital to this colony in excessive quantities between the years 1835 and 1840. Various circumstances conspired during that period to turn the attention of English capitalists to the Australian colonies. I will allude only to the attractive theories which were then put forward by the disciples of the Wakefield school, and to the vauntings of the excessive riches of New South Wales, which are to be found in the evidence taken before the transportation committee, of the House of Commons. The real El Dorado was at last said to be found in Australia, and the only question asked was, why people would not come and share in the vast profits we were making. Capital then began to flow into the colony a great deal faster than it could be advantageously invested. For a time, however, all looked well, and the demand for stock which the opening of Port Phillip and South Australia created, caused the price of sheep, oxen, and especially of horses, to rise very rapidly. That during these years far too much capital came into the colony will, I think, be admitted, if we only consider the shape in which it must have come; and here I must be permitted to say that there appears to me to be a great want of clearness of apprehension as to what capital consists of. Many persons talk of bills of exchange or letters of credit, as 565 if they were capital, which they are not, but only the representatives of capital. To transfer capital from one country to another, there must be a transfer of something corporal something which in the widest acceptation of the word constitutes 'merchandise.' A man who, when about to emigrate to New South Wales, purchases in London a bill on Sydney, does not himself transfer his capital; he only makes a bargain with another party, who engages to do it for him; and that other party must send merchandise to meet the bill he draws, or it will be only a matter of account between himself and his correspondent, without any real transfer of capital having been effected. The desire to emigrate to Australia during the years I have mentioned, causing a great demand for bills on Sydney, such bills were drawn, and, in order to meet them, vast quantities of goods were sent to Sydney, which were never ordered; in fact, the consignments of goods were no longer regulated by the state of the market in the colony, or by the demands of the merchants resident in Sydney, but by the demand which existed in London for bills on Sydney. Hence, enormous quantities of goods were sent to our market, quantities altogether disproportioned to the demand; the bills, however, drawn on account of these goods, were honoured, and the parties to whom they had been given were here with money in their hands. A great deal of this money was invested in mortgages or in loans—in loans, perhaps, to parties who never ought to have been trusted; much of it, also, was invested in the purchase of Government lands, and especially of town allotments (or building land) not immediately productive, but expected rapidly to rise in value. The large sums realized by the sales of land were deposited, by the Government, in the banks; the banks, consequently, increased their discounts; credit became greatly extended, and there was what is called an abundance of money. The colony appeared to be in a state of extraordinary prosperity; the number of ships in our harbour was pointed to with exultation; and it became a matter of boast, that we imported more goods from England than did the whole empire of Russia And so matters went on—consignments increasing, land sales increasing, Government money in the banks increasing, and discounts increasing, until the hollowness of the whole system was at length exposed. Merchants then found out that they had goods which they could no longer sell at any price, or at any credit; that their stores were full of articles for which there was no demand, from steam-engines down to pocket-handkerchiefs; and what was still worse, of articles which had better been sunk to the bottom of the sea than brought into the colony—such as carriages, champagne, and bottled porter. The quantity of these latter articles consumed during the period of this fictitious prosperity was enormous. Why, the whole country, for miles, 566 almost for hundreds of miles round Melbourne, is strewed to this day, with champagne bottles. All these articles of luxury or folly, whether consumed or not consumed, constituted a dead loss to some party or other (it is to be hoped that the greater part of the loss fell upon the parties who sent them there); other articles, useful in themselves, but perishable in their nature, rotted in the merchants' stores; and even articles, not perishable in their nature, were sold so far below their value, or to persons who have since become insolvent, that a large proportion of the capital introduced into the colony during the last five or six years, whatever shape it came in, may be considered as already absolutely lost, and more, I fear, is going the same way. Nevertheless the cry is, that we want more capital from England, and that part of our distress is owing to our having sent capital out of the country to pay for emigrants! Capital, I will allow, we do want, but only under certain conditions; that is to say, on condition that the capitalist, or the person to whom it belongs, come with it—that he come and form one of us, and identify himself with our interests; and I do not doubt that any one possessed pf common prudence, who will do this, will find that Australia is not yet a ruined country. But I desire to see no capital come here without its owner, to be invested only in loans or mortgages, at usurious interest; let us, rather than accept such fatal offerings, resolve, one and all, to exercise the most untiring industry, and the most pinching economy. and let those who cannot afford to hire shepherds go themselves and tend their sheep, as did the men who first laid the foundations of the wealth of Australia. This is the true way to dispel the existing panic, and to cause those to make investments in the country, who now hold back.There is one feature in the case of Australia so peculiar, and such an exception to the general principle which guides colonization, that my statement would be imperfect if I omitted to call the attention of the House to it. The produce of the land sales is applied strictly to the par poses of immigration, but there is a large portion of the people who have invested fictitious capital in the extension of agricultural operations, who contributes in no degree to the expenses necessarily attendant upon obtaining the labour they stand o much in need of. They are not purchasers of land, they are what is technically termed squatters; they go into the wilds, where they multiply their flocks—they complain loudly of the want of labour, but they contribute nothing towards importing it. The system is well explained in a report from the Land and Emi- 567 gration Commissioners, and with the leave of the House I will read a passage from their report:—Each allotment of land for which a licence is thus given is called a station, and the size of the stations may vary from 5,000 to 30,000 acres. The extent to which this system has been made use of is very large indeed. By the latest return which we have seen, being for the last half-year of 1840, the number of stations was 718; the people living within the districts in which they were comprised amounted to 7,068; there were between 9,000 and 10,000 acres in cultivation, and the stock amounted to nearly a million and a half of sheep, besides a large quantity of horses and cattle. The extent of the lands over which the parties had a right to depasture this stock is not stated in the document to which we are now referring; but in the similar return for the previous half-year, when the number of stations was only 673; the runs were estimated to reach over 3,022,560 acres.4,000,000 or 5,000,000 of acres are occupied by "squatters" maintaining 1,500,000 of sheep besides cattle, and requiring of course a large amount of labour, yet paying for each of their "stations," averaging 14,000 acres, only 10l. And these parties complain of the "deficiency of labour" who thus contributed little or nothing to the resources of the colony. Now I say nothing against these "squatters." I believe them to be, indeed, a useful and important class. I am aware that these grazing licences are necessary; but I think that without any hardship, though they are partaking in the general depression (and in saying this I speak the opinions of Sir G. Gipps, and of the noble Lord who preceded me at the colonial office,) the contributions of these parties to the funds of the colony for the purpose of promoting immigration might be advantageously increased. But the Government finds great difficulty in proposing an augmentation of the charges payable by these people, for, as a considerable portion of the population was included in the "squatters," any such proposition was certain to excite a feeling at once of derision and dismay among them. They represented, that if their charges were increased beyond the present average of 1d. per sheep, they would not be able to compete with the wool of other countries in our markets. Now on what terms are they competing now? I will read an 568 account of wool imported into the United Kingdom for ten years, ended 1841:—
Years. From Australia. From Other Places. Total. 1832 2,377,000 25,752,000 28,129,000 1833 3,517,000 34,529,000 38,046,000 1834 3,558,000 42,897,000 46,455,000 1835 4,210,000 37,965,000 42,175,000 1836 4,997,000 59,243,000 64,240,000 1837 7,061,000 41,319,000 48,380,000 1838 7,837,000 44,757,000 52,594,000 1839 10,129,000 47,251,000 57,380,000 1840 9,721,000 39,715,000 49,436,000 1841 12,309,000 43,772,000 56,171,000
I can not, then, believe there would be any serious risk to the wool-growers of Australia, even though their burthens were increased from 1d. to 2d. or 3d.per sheep; and I feel confident that the result would be, on the contrary, beneficial to them by increasing the funds disposable for the encouragement of the emigration of labourers, about the want of whom they are so clamorous. I believe the welfare of the colony is to be sought not in anticipating future land sales, but by steadily adhering to a system which produces year by year an amount capable of paying for the importation of a large amount of labour, and which affords the most practical means, not merely of supplying the greatest amount of temporary relief—which is comparatively a trifling consideration—but of creating an improvement in the colony, consequent upon a due, but not over-satisfied demand for labour. I thank the House for so patiently listening to what, I fear, has been a dull discourse on a necessarily dry subject. In most of the doctrines of the hon. and learned Gentleman, who has brought forward the subject I agree. In some of his details I differ from the hon. Member, and, having shown that the system of which the hon. Member approves has been for years carrying on, under the special control of Government commissioners, furnishing the public annually with the authentic results of 569 their experience—I declare my conviction that by adopting the motion of the hon. Member, the House would run the risk of exciting great expectations, far from being countenanced indeed by the able and moderate speech of the hon. Gentleman, and of leading to inferences the hon. Gentleman himself disclaims—producing an impression that they are about to introduce some new or altered system, instead of continuing one which has for years been carried into operation with the sanction and support of the Government; therefore I can not concur in the motion proposed by the hon. Member, though feeling the most sincere respect for the manner in which it has been brought forward, and for the motives by which the hon. Member has been actuated, and which doubtless lead many to share in his anxiety for some remedy to existing depression, and for some relief to the colony. I am unable to see anything practically useful in acceding to the proposition as brought forward—but believing, that out of doors great want of information prevails upon this subject, which would the I rather be productive of serious error were this proposition put forth by the House. I feel compelled (with every disposition to deal at respectfully as possible with it), first, to negative the amendment to the motion of the hon. Gentleman, and next, to move upon that motion the previous question.
PROPORTION OF AUSTRALIAN TO THE TOTAL WOOL. (Shown in Hundredths.) 1832—.08 1837—.15 1833—.09 1838—.15 1834—.08 1839—.18 1835—.10 1840—.20 1836—.08 1841—.22
§ Viscount Howick
said, before the House came to the vote on the hon. and learned Gentleman's motion, or whether they should come to a vote on it or not, he wished to express his opinion that the House and country were deeply indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman for having brought this subject before them, and for the manner in which he had done so. He thought very great advantage would arise from this discussion and the able speech with which the hon. and learned Gentleman had introduced the motion to their notice, was calculated greatly to enlighten the public, and to promote hereafter measures of great utility on this subject. He had also heard with considerable satisfaction, on the whole, the speech of his noble Friend who had just sat down. He had heard with great pleasure from his noble Friend, that he did approve to the extent stated by him, the system of emigration which had in the course of the last few years been gradually introduced 570 and brought into practice in this country, but he confessed he a little regretted that his noble Friend's approbation of that system was, as it appeared to him, somewhat too unmixed and too unqualified. His noble Friend spoke as if we had already established a perfect system with reference to this subject. Now, on the contrary, he confessed that his opinion was strongly fixed that we were, it is true, on the right road, but that we had not yet by any means made all the progress which it was desirable we should make in following that road; and in the speech of his noble Friend, there were many statements which showed that, great as had been the results of what had already been done, much more might have been accomplished if the principles on which this system of emigration was founded had received more consistent and decided application. His noble Friend had pointed out how much had already been accomplished; he had drawn a contrast which would afford matter of congratulation to the country, between the manner in which emigration was now conducted, and that which was in use three or four years ago. His noble Friend had adverted, in the first instance, to the North American colonies, and afterwards to those of Australia; he had shown that in the North American provinces a system was formerly acted on, than which there could hardly be a worse—he made a mistake in calling it a system for it was none at all—it was a mere confused series of emigrations, without any system at all—utterly irregular, and, though productive of some good, undoubtedly leading to much misery and distress. A state of things so unmethodical, was completely at variance with that which now prevailed under a system which protected the emigrant from the time at which he left this country to the period of his being settled in North America. No doubt much good had been done by the change; but he confessed he was by no means satisfied, even now, with what had been accomplished. He called on the House to remember the statements of his noble Friend with respect to the condition of the emigrant market in North America. His noble Friend showed that a very large emigration was now taking place, but in such a manner, that there was constant danger that even in those colonies, the supply of labour might exceed the demand. He was persuaded that this arose 571 entirely from the defects which still existed in the system now followed. In those countries there was an unbounded extent of fertile land; capital at home was in abundance, ready to be employed in the improvement of that land; and having the land and the capital, it could only proceed from some faults in the system, that with those advantages there should still remain a risk of deficiency of employment. It would take too much time if he were now to point out the mode in which those faults should be corrected; but he could not help observing, with reference to this point, that the great difficulty in the whole system hitherto had been, that the measures pursued had been changed too rapidly; there had not been one continuous system, followed up constantly and vigorously. Views at one time adopted and partially acted upon had not been followed out, and that, in his opinion, was the cause why much less had been accomplished than would otherwise have been practicable. For instance, his noble Friend had told them that in New Brunswick, where the colonists had begged and prayed that an additional number of labourers should be sent out, employment was not now to be found, and the supply of labour exceeded the demand. Now, when he looked at the very small number of emigrants who had really gone to New Brunswick, he was perfectly persuaded this result could never have taken place if the measures which had been in progress had been fully carried out. That was what he complained of, and he was inclined to think there was some necessity for a further investigation of this subject, and for the adoption of some means, such as those to which his hon. and learned Friend adverted, for the purpose of extending and giving effect to the existing plan of emigration. He happened to know, in consequence of having held a situation in the Colonial-office, under Lord Ripon at the time, that an officer of the government of New Brunswick had come to this country some years ago, and that in concert with him, plans were at that time prepared for the purpose of carrying on emigration to that colony on a much larger scale. His noble Friend had told them, and he thought most justly, that the whole system of settling persons on land, and granting them advances, and then going to them for the repayment of those advances, was radically wrong, and 572 had invariably ended in disappointment. He believed that was a correct description of the system; he believed that no worse policy could be pursued than to adopt a system by which the executive Government of the colony was made the creditor for small sums to a very large part of the population; and that any system of that kind had been invariably attended with very injurious consequences. Frequently those evil results were not confined to the mere loss of the money, because, unfortunately, it was the tendency of the policy to give a premium on the separation of the colony from the mother country. Any system of that kind, therefore, he should regard as most impolitic and unadvisable. But, in accordance with the principles on which emigration was conducted to New South Wales, he thought it would be a most beneficial course to act on views which had once been detailed to him in a very able manner by a person engaged in the public service in New Brunswick, which were favourable to the employment of no very large sum of money in the clearing of land in the wild parts of provinces, in the formation of roads, in preparing houses for the occupation of emigrants, and in surveying ground for sale. By undertaking operations of this kind, Government would provide employment for emigrants as soon as they arrived in the colony. Under the direction of its officers, many emigrants might be employed in works of this kind, and by the increased value given to the Crown lands he had not the least doubt that the outlay would soon be refunded. Thus, no very large sum of money might be the means of promoting the emigration and employment of a very large number o persons. Such a course would be precisely in accordance with what was now doing in Canada. There, his noble Friend had told the House, emigrants were assisted in finding employment by having the most probable sources pointed out to them, and by being provided with facilities for repairing to those places where it was to be obtained. In that way much had been accomplished. Again, with respect to New South Wales, his noble Friend had pointed out the great results which had followed from comparatively small beginnings; but if the House would only look at what had taken place in the course of the eleven or twelve years which had passed, since the system of disposing of 573 the Crown lands in Australia was first altered, and the present scheme of sending out emigrants had been adopted—if they would Only look at the history of those transactions, he believed they would agree with him, that, though much had been accomplished, a great deal more might have been done. In 1831, for the first time, the system of free grants was brought to an end, and that of selling lands by auction was adopted. The minimum price, which in fact regulated the price of land in the country, was fixed at 5s. an acre. Now it must be perfectly clear to every one who had taken pains to examine the principles on which the measure was founded, that the price of 5s. was much too low. Why was that adopted? Simply because the change of system was made, he believed, he might say, against the opinion of every man connected with the colony. He remembered that, when he was Under Secretary of State, he was on more than one occasion charged with the disagreeable duty of receiving parties who came to the Colonial office with complaints respecting the price of land. He believed his noble Friend opposite knew that that was a duty of a very unpleasant description, and one which the principal occasionally turned over to his subordinates. At the time of which he spoke, an opinion unfavourable to the new policy was universal among persons interested in the colonies; their outcry was so strong, that it was felt to be prudent to begin a little gently, to get the scheme into operation with a price of 5s., and as soon as they could do it with advantage, to raise the price. But what took place? A price of 5s. was established in January, 1831, but after Lord Ripon left office, the views on which that noble Lord had begun his measures seemed to have been very much forgotten, and for a long series of years no change was made. He had expected that the rise of price would be progressive, and that in four or five years it would be considerably heightened, but instead of this, it was not till 1839, as his noble Friend had told them, that the price was raised to 12s, and not till last year that it was raised to 1l.If a price was to be imposed at all, it was his opinion that, on the principles by which that system was recommended, the present price was still too low; but, as his noble Friend very truly stated, this was a most unpopular doctrine in the colonies. Now, as then, the cry in 574 the colonies was all for cheap land. Notwithstanding all the experience they had had of the disadvantages of the system formerly pursued, the prevalent notion among the colonists still was that land ought to be cheap. Yet what had been the results of the change of system? He begged to call the attention of the House to this point, that in 1831, when the system of selling land was first established, there was no such thing as any emigration of the labouring classes to New South Wales. A commission was appointed to consider the subject of emigration, of which he (Viscount Howick) had the honour to be a member, and of which the Duke of Richmond was chairman. It was found on inquiry that not a single ship sailed for New South Wales in which due accommodation on moderate terms for persons of the labouring class was provided. The cheapest passage at that time afforded was in the steerage of a merchant ship, which cost from 30l. to 40l. a-head. At that time there was no general emigration; but since that period we had seen it increasing until in one year 23,200 souls had emigrated, chiefly of the labouring classes, and that large numbers of persons had all found employment within the country. In the same manner the revenue derived from the sale of land, and applicable to the purposes of emigration, had progressively increased. His right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth was at that time also a member of the commission, and the utmost amount which he thought it safe to rely on as likely to be received from the sale of land for the purpose of promoting emigration was the inconsiderable one of 10,000l. Undoubtedly that was as large a sum as would have been calculated upon by any one interested in the colonies, particularly when all those who were connected with the colonies joined in declaring that the land would never pay at a price of 5s. What had been the result? Instead of 10,000l.., we had received in a single year 300,000l. from the sale of lands, and since the change of system had been carried into effect, as his noble Friend showed, 1,000,000l. had been received from this source, and actually employed in sending out emigrants from the mother country. If this great result had been obtained, although the system had not been acted on to the extent to which it was capable of being carried, if so much had been ac- 575 complished under circumstances not the most promising, would the House consent that the progressive improvement which had taken place, should now cease. He would call for no sudden or violent change—he would call for no new measures which would at once give a vast extension to emigration; but he said that, having seen that the principles recommended in the first instance by Mr. Gibbon Wakefield had practically succeeded to a great extent, it was the duty of the House and of her Majesty's Government to take care that there should be a gradual advancement in the application of the system. He agreed with his noble Friend opposite that it would be in the highest degree impolitic to attempt at once to create hopes of any great and sudden extension of emigration. He entirely concurred in the opinions expressed by his noble Friend as to the wildness of such plans as that to which he adverted; in fact, that was a case in which there could hardly be a difference of opinion. He concurred also in the opinions expressed by his noble Friend, that it would be extremely questionable policy to sanction the anticipation of the revenue on a great scale for the purpose of emigration. An anticipation to a small extent of the money derived from the sale of land might, perhaps, not be objectionable, but he entirely agreed that it was chiefly by applying money actually received that they could hope to go on safely and efficaciously in extending emigration. He was bound also to say, that it was with respect to the extent of relief they could hope to derive from any system of emigration that he chiefly differed from his hon. and learned Friend. He thought it was of the greatest importance that emigration should be encouraged to a much greater degree than at present; he believed it was in the power of her Majesty's Government to take measures which would give much greater extension to the system than it now possessed; but he confessed that the chief advantage for which he looked to measures of the kind advocated by his hon. and learned Friend was not that of obtaining immediate relief by diminishing the want of employment now so much felt and complained of. It was to measures of a different character to which they must chiefly look to attain that object; but, as subsidiary to measures of this kind, according to his hon. and learned 576 Friend's statement, he thought colonization was particularly important. It was not merely in respect to the number of persons for whom employment was found in the colonies that he thought emigration valuable. The political advantages of measures of this kind were still more important. Daily experience showed that in a long peace, and in a fully peopled country like this, numbers of persons endowed with great energy and enter prize were to be found, for the employment of whose activity no proper field was presented at home. During a war their high spirits found vent in a military career; but in time of peace the talents, energy, and activity which might have led to eminence in the service of their country, were often deprived of occupation and led their possessor to degradation and ruin. It was in this view, more than in any other, that he thought extensive encouragement to emigration ought to be afforded. It enlarged the field for human exertion. He should not attempt to say more on the present occasion. His object in rising was merely to express his earnest hope that, however satisfied his noble Friend opposite might be with the results already attained, he would not rest under the idea that those results were all that could be attained, but that he would turn his attention to the advantages which would result from a progressive advancement of the system of emigration now in force. Although the House might perhaps not adopt the motion of his hon. and learned Friend, he could not help expressing his own opinion, that further inquiry into the subject, in whatever way conducted, would not be without great advantages. His hon. and learned Friend disapproved of another Parliamentary committee, but the inquiries of such a committee, had been already productive of great benefit. The measure of last Session, for regulating the sale of land in the Australian colonies was, in fact, the result of the report of a committee which sat on the affairs of Australia. But the inquiry could be more properly conducted by a commission or a committee further inquiry might be advantageous with a view to the selection of the most effective means for giving increased vigour and extension to the existing system.
§ Sir R. Inglis
said, although nothing could be clearer than the speech of his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies, it was not so complete an answer to 577 the remarks of his hon. and learned Friend as might have been expected, both from the unrivalled talent of the noble Lord, and from his position as the representative of Government in that House. The greater part of the speech was directed to the question of emigration, not to that of colonization, which occupied the larger portion of the Address of his hon. and learned Friend opposite. He apprehended, that though colonization could not be effected without emigration, emigration might yet exist apart from all those peculiar features which constituted, in his mind, the proper character of colonization. To the speech of his hon. and learned Friend he had listened with deep interest—a speech most able, most temperate—and if his hon. Friend would pardon him for saying so—most impressive, because most serious. He concurred in almost everything that had fallen from his hon. and learned Friend in the course of his address. He had observed, that he considered his noble Friend to have left almost un touched the great question of what was to constitute a colony of this country. His hon. and learned Friend had commenced by stating the principles on which, in ancient times, colonies had been sent forth from Greece and Phœnicia, which settled on the shores of the Mediterranean. These colonists carried out with them all the institutions, civil and religious, of the mother country. Nothing, in his opinion, could deserve the name of a colony of Great Britain, which did not represent all the interests, civil and religious, of the mother country, which was not, in fact, a miniature representation of England, complete in every part, according to its proportions. It was not merely the sending of a hundred thousand emigrants, without reference to their qualifications or fitness to bear their part in a civilised community—it was not the mere protection of the home Government that constituted colonization. It was the exercise of skill and statesman like principles in guiding and moulding the masses whom they sent out that was required to justify a Government in transferring a large portion of the community to distant lands. He held, that they were not entitled to expatriate any portion of the people of this country unless they were also prepared to give those persons the benefit of all those institutions to which they were entitled at home; and when he looked to the influence which religion had had in binding colonies to the mother country, he thought the Government very 578 imperfectly discharged its duty to its fellow-subjects if they did not provide for every body of emigrants, in all the distant parts of her Majesty's empire, all those means of education, and of worship, as well as civil government, which they had left at home. He believed no surer bond of union could be found than the bond of union of a religious community, between those who were sent abroad and those who were left at home. These were the only right principles upon which to conduct any great system of colonization, and that was the object of the motion. It was to transfer at one and the same time the framework of a new society, complete in all its great principles, but to be filled up, as occasion might arise, in its details, but the society should be as certain in its principles, civil and religious, as it would be at home. Those who depreciated the value of Church establishments at home might, with proper consistency, deny the expediency of transferring them abroad; but those, and her Majesty's Ministers must be of the number, who contended for the support and expediency of a Church at home, ought to be the first persons to carry the blessings of such a system wherever they sent her Majesty's subjects. He did not intend to pursue the general subject. He was quite willing to admit, that the number expatriated under the present system might amount to nearly as much as under any system could be practicably expected. All he contended was, that they should be collected, if sent abroad, in a manner more immediately under the Government than at present, and that they should be comforted, and governed, and guarded by those institutions which they venerated and loved at home. With these observations he should vote for the motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ Mr. Hume
was afraid that the hon. Baronet who spoke last had mistaken the object of the motion before the House, and had supposed that it was a motion for Church extension. He had spoken of the necessity of providing for the emigrants an Established Church, and no doubt the hon. Baronet would wish that a number of bishops should be sent out with the new colonists. The hon. Baronet appeared to forget that New England was founded by men who had actually run away from bishops. It was necessary that the hon. Baronet should read history again, when he would discover, what indeed all history had proved, that it was not the Church, but the protection which the power of 579 England gave that enabled colonies to prosper. To him it appeared that the speech of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. C. Buller), and the able reply of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), had completely exhausted the subject. His hon. and learned Friend had introduced the subject with great ability and moderation, but he thought that his hon. and learned Friend had terminated in a very lame manner. The noble Lord had given to the petition of the memorial from the City of London a most complete answer. He had told the memorialists that they had nothing to expect—that everything that could be done had been done. One observation of his hon. and learned Friend deserved particular notice. His hon. Friend stated, that since the disturbances in Canada emigration had been checked. It was quite true, and emigration would be checked in every colony where good government did not exist. The best way, therefore, for the Government of this country to forward emigration was to put an end to the abuses in colonial government; let the people have a share in the administration of their own affairs; allow them to live in the colonies with light taxation and all the advantages they could obtain. He was satisfied that many of the British colonies might have been doubled in extent had they been better governed. The bill of last year would, he thought, have a good effect in that respect if properly carried out, and he trusted, that at length they might hope for an end of the system that had so long prevailed, according to which not only every colonial minister, but every governor, was continually changing the system of the colonies. He thought the noble Lord was in a position to do a great deal of good, by pointing out to capitalists the advantages of removing with their capital and giving employment to labour. But there was one consideration which he wished to impress upon her Majesty's Government. His hon. and learned Friend had founded his motion on the great distress of the country—he had portrayed it in colours not deeper than belonged to it, and he had recommended emigration as one of several means of relief for it; but the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had told them that, so far from its being the case that labour was wanted in all the colonies, in New Brunswick they were anxious to have no more emigration. From what he had heard, and from the accounts given in the local papers, he could tell tales of dis- 580 tress there almost equal to our own. Then, again, as to the United States, although numbers of English who had gone out thither, finding no employment, had spread to Texas and elsewhere, yet upwards of 10,000 had returned to this country. He wished, then, to impress upon the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) that any relief for the distress which could be gained from emigration must be but small. It was said that in the Australian colonies capital was much wanted, and that labour was wanted; but capital here was abundant, labour was abundant. Why should not the right hon. Baronet, by giving free-trade, give the means of employment for capital and labour here? Why should he send our capital and labour abroad? Why should he not open our ports, and enable us to exchange freely with foreign countries? With respect to the debate, this result of it he hoped would be impressed on the mind of every individual present, that it was indisputable, that be the distress relievable by what means it might, emigration was not the means by which it could be relieved to any great extent; still he hoped that no obstacle would be thrown in the way of emigration. He hoped that what the noble Lord had stated would be carefully borne in mind by the people—that the British emigrant, from the time he landed in Canada, was under the protection of the Government emigration agent. Again, he wished to impress this most important consideration on her Majesty's Government. The distress of the country he feared was not decreasing; capital was depreciating; the value of everything was lowering, and the greatness and power of this country must ere long in consequence suffer decline. Under these circumstances he wished to warn the right hon. Baronet not to persist too long in the course he had adopted. The right hon. Baronet was lying by to see what might result. Nothing had been done hitherto by the Government for the relief of the distress of the people. That distress was greater now than when the right hon. Baronet succeeded to office. The result of this debate would, he (Mr. Hume) hoped, satisfy the right hon. Baronet that if the distress were to be relieved at all we must look for relief nearer home than in the colonies. No more sure and certain means for effecting the object could be shown than removing those restrictions which fettered the industry of this country. Let 581 the country have free-trade, and the necessity for emigration as a means of relief would be done away with. Every body, in his opinion, would shortly be satisfied that an expression that had fallen from the right hon. Vice-President of the Board of Control was correct, that for every bushel of corn imported in this country we should export an equivalent in the produce of the labour of our people. Let them have free-trade, and they would re-establish the greatness long this country, which, if not now on the decline, would, be feared, not long remain unimpaired if the present state of things were to continue.
§ Lord F. Egerton
said, that as several hon. Members had come into the House since the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. C. Buller) sat down, it was his wish to mention, in answer to the remarks of the hon. Member who spoke last on a part of the speech of the hon. Baronet (Sir R. H. Inglis)—and one of the hon. Member's remarks when he spoke of the emigrants to New England flying from the bishops here, was certainly a rather happier one than was usual with him—that that part of the speech of the hon. Baronet was only carrying out the description of the hon. and learned Gentleman respecting the mode of colonization pursued by the Greeks and Phœnicians, who carried with them, when they colonized, all the institutions of the country that gave them birth, and established wherever they went miniature types of the mother country. The same was the case with the Spaniards, who, as the hon. Member observed, carried with them the dignitaries of their Church into every colony they had planted. The hon. Baronet had carried out the idea by expressing a hope that our colonization might be carried on upon the principle of the colonists taking with them all the institutions, civil and religious, of our own country. With respect to what had fallen from the hon. Baronet when he said the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) had confined himself in his speech to the subject of emigration, and had not entered upon the subject of colonization, he thought the reason was that the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the motion had not curried out that part of the subject in any degree of detail. However, to the plan of colonisation recommended by the hon. Baronet there were doubtless numerous difficulties opposed, he had felt them himself, and be was satisfied that any hon. Member who tried would find the difficulty of framing 582 a plan which should like those of Greece and old Spain, enable the colonists to carry with them all the civil and religious institutions of their mother country; but, nevertheless, he did hope that something might be done towards carrying out emigrants with our institutions. How it was to be done he would not attempt to say. While he was addressing the House he might be permitted to say, that it was the common observation of this town, that this Session had been deficient in interest; now, it might be so to those who took interest principally in stormy debates; but for his part he would say, that since he had had a seat in that House he had never felt more interest than in two subjects that had come before them this Session, namely, the debates on the Factory Bill and this debate, which had been so ably introduced by his hon. and learned Friend, if he would allow him to call him so. He was not in the House when the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech commenced, but he had listened to it for two hours, and he thought he could not say that he wished one sentence altered or one expression omitted. Perhaps if he had his own choice, he would have wished that his hon. and learned Friend had altogther left unnoticed a topic which he certainly handled lightly, and with singular good humour and justice—he meant the answer which had been made to his hon. Friend's project at the Drury-lane Theatre; for it might be suspected that the general admiration and general assent given to his speech by hon. Gentlemen on the Ministerial side of the House, was in some measure attributable to the approbation of that particular part of his speech. He thought both the House and the country was indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman and the two noble Lords who had spoken, and he thought that from those speeches more enlightenment might be gained on this subject than from any other source; and though it might be supposed that emigration was not the sole or the greatest remedy for the present evils of our situation, yet it must be admitted that it was a consistent and consentaneous remedy, and not opposed to any other that might be adopted. Supposing he (Lord F. Egerton) conceded to the hon. Gentleman opposite, that the Corn-laws should be repealed, that the standing army should be utterly abolished, and that waste lands should be given to the poor; still he wanted to know how would this remedy of emigration impede 583 the efficiency of the others? He could not conceive that in any way emigration could interfere with any other remedy for the distress. On these grounds, and because the debate was likely to furnish more information to the public on the subject of colonization than could be given by means of statistical tables or Blue Books, he considered that the country was deeply indebted to his hon. and learned Friend for the manner in which he had treated the subject.
§ Lord John Russell
said, I entirely agree with the noble Lord who has just sat down, that the House owes an obligation to my hon. Friend for the admirable and temperate speech in which he has brought this subject before the House. I listened likewise with pleasure to my noble Friend, the Member for Sunderland (Viscount Howick), who expressed an opinion favourable to this motion. But when I consider the various propositions which were laid down in those two speeches in favour of this motion—though I think both of those speeches are of great value, and that some of the suggestions made in them are well worthy of consideration—yet, when I come to apply those propositions and suggestions to the motion which my hon. Friend concluded with, I do not think, that it would be advisable that the House should adopt so extensive a resolution. The suggestions of my hon. Friend relate to the mode in which land should be sold in the colonies; he touched also in some degree upon loans, but it did not appear, that he was an advocate for a large loan, by which to assist the object of emigration. Now, if these are the only suggestions which one who has studied this question very much, who has been constantly attending to its details, can make after great reflection, I ask the House whether it be adviseable that the House of Commons should adopt a resolution,—That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she will take into her most gracious consideration the means by which extensive and systematic colonization may be most effectually rendered available for augmenting the resources of her Majesty's empire, giving additional employment to capital and labour, both in the United Kingdom and the colonies, and there by bettering the condition of her people?If my hon. Friend had some large plan of systematic colonization, which was likely to have these effects—if the Government declared that they thought 584 that there were means by which some large and extensive plan could be carried out, it might then be right for the House of Commons to adopt such a resolution; but in the present state of our information on this subject, we should only be holding out hopes of a remedy for the present distress of the country, which would be hardly justified by any measure suggested in the course of this debate. For my own part, I feel that I should not be justified, and particularly from my having held the situation which the noble Lord opposite now fills, in giving my vote in favour of such a resolution, unless I myself saw more clearly than at present the means by which those great benefits which are promised could be attained. Not that colonization and emigration are not extremely beneficial to the country—not that there are not great benefits flowing from them, both to this country and the colonies; but if those benefits proceed from a scheme already adopted—from a law already sanctioned by this House—from a law now in operation—if we see under that law, that 55,000 persons have gone in one year to the North American colonies—that New South Wales, in the course of ten years, has received more than 50,000 new inhabitants, and if we thus find, that very important measures have been adopted, with a view to colonization—should we not be cautious how we proceed to pass new measures, and how we have recourse to fresh legislation? The colonies have the means of increasing their own strength, of consuming the manufactures of this country, and of exporting their own produce, and thereby no doubt great benefits have accrued; but if we adopted this resolution, would it not be inferred, that we did not concur in those means which have been already taken, and that we had some great plan in contemplation, by which the colonies were to be more rapidly peopled, and existing distresses of the mother country were to be removed. If, upon the speeches of my hon. Friend, who moved this resolution, and of my noble Friend (Viscount Howick), I had not come to the conclusion, that this motion ought not to be adopted, I confess that the hon. Member for Montrose, and the hon. Baronet, the Member for Oxford, did not add much to the practical suggestions in favour of it. The hon. Baronet. proposes, that we should send abroad whole communities together, 585 with the Church establishment and the various institutions of this country. However suitable such a plan may have been to Greece, and the colonies of olden times, the suggestion is hardly one which can be adopted at this moment. Look at New South Wales and the various sects of different religious denominations into which it is divided. My right hon. Friend (Sir George Grey) drew up a scheme for encouraging religious instruction, which was adopted by Lord Glenelg, and which is now in force in New South Wales, but it provides equally for all religious sects, for Roman Catholics, Protestants Dissenters, and all others, and thereby provides for the spiritual wants of the community in the only way suitable to a community of that kind. The hon. Member for Montrose held the proposition of the hon. Baronet to be altogether visionary, and with great pleasantry, said, that it was in order to fly from the Bishops, that the people went to New England; and the hon. Member added, that there was nothing more to do than to govern the colonies in such a way as that every one shall be satisfied. I will leave the House to judge whether this would not be more impracticable than the conveyance of a bishop, dean, and chapter to Australia. With respect to Canada, the hon. Member approves of what has latterly been done there, and he seems to think, that it has been productive of beneficial results. Those results have naturally sprung from the union of the two colonies, from the people having a voice in the assembly, and from the assembly having the means of influencing the choice of the Members of the Government. That is the natural consequence of the measures which have been taken, and will doubtless prove beneficial to the colony; but do not let the hon. Member think that every one is satisfied. For some time after the changes were made, a vast number of newspapers, of different titles, came to me, each more abusive than the rest of the Executive Council: so you may please the strongest party, you may please the popular party, but you cannot so govern a colony that every one shall be satisfied. The noble Lord opposite has stated so clearly what has been done, and what is doing in respect of emigration, that it would be useless for me to detain the House by going again into a subject which he has already explained. I hope the House will not infer, from the speech of 586 the noble Lord, that which my noble Friend (Viscount Howick) seemed to think was the natural inference, namely, that what has been done is, in the opinion of the noble Lord, so complete, that it does not require any alteration or improvement from time to time. For my own part, with respect to the question of the sale of lands by auction, as compared with its sale at one uniform price, it seemed to me, from the great weight of the authority on the subject, that on the whole it was best to change the system, and to revert to the system of auction; but I cannot help thinking that there are very great disadvantages attending that system. Representations have been made to me that persons who have gone out with the expectation of obtaining land at certain prices, have been forestalled by speculators in the colonies, who have bought up all the lots for the purpose of profit. But I do hope that the noble Lord will not lose sight of one part of this question which I think is of the greatest importance—1 mean the diffusion through the country of the utmost extent of information possible, so that the people may be thoroughly conversant with all those facts which it is desirable they should know—I mean such facts as should be in the possession of colonists and emigrants—such information as is contained in one of those books presented to the House, wherein the superintendent gives the prices of articles for sale in the colonies, and the rates of wages to be obtained. This is done, too, with great success in Sidney, where an officer of police keeps a book, from which he is able to furnish information to those who go out professing different trades and following various occupations. I trust that the noble Lord will watch over this subject as one on which great improvements may be from time to time introduced—that he will not consider that every object has been attained by the passing of the act of the last Session of Parliament, but that if any improvement can be introduced, he will himself propose it. I consider this subject as of vast importance; but after the speech of the noble Lord, I think that the House of Commons cannot do better, for the present, than leave this matter in the hands of the executive Government. My hon. Friends the Members for Montrose and Liskeard have spoken of the distress of the country, and of colonization as a 587 means of relieving that distress. I am afraid that, with respect to the shipping interests of London especially, those distresses are rather aggravated than diminished, but I hope that those accounts which we have heard, of some appearance of improvement and animation in the manufacturing districts, will turn out to be true, and that there is not such an extraordinary amount of distress in those districts as has hitherto existed. For my part, believing as I do that there is still very great distress, and believing that you will do much for the relief of that distress by adopting better laws of economy—by adopting better laws with respect to the importation of corn and other commodities, believing that much may be done in this way, I am far from thinking that the distresses of the country should raise anything like that despondency which some people feel; and relying on the energies of this great country, I feel that we shall yet surmount the difficulties which we now labour under, and I look with hope to the future.
§ Sir Howard Douglas
said, finding that very extravagant expectations are entertained, that a gigantic system of colonization may be adopted to such an extent as to prove an immediate remedy for the very general distress which prevails in this country, by abstracting large masses of un employed labour, and transplanting it to the colonies, where, as is supposed, it may be absorbed into masses of employed labour; and knowing on my own experience, that such an extensive scheme, suddenly carried out, would prove fallacious and abortive, I came down, prepared to follow the hon. Member, the mover of this resolution, to state my views on the progress and prospects of colonization and the extent to which this might be safely prosecuted. But after the very able and comprehensive exposition made by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I shall lay aside this mass of documents with which I was prepared to enter fully into this question, and at this late hour of the night, I shall confine myself to a few general observations. I concur generally in the opinion stated by the hon. Gentleman the mover of this resolution, as to the temporary causes of the prevailing distress in this country; but not so, as to the main cause. I believe that the distress in which the working classes of this country are involved, is 588 principally occasioned by the active competition of foreign nations in manufacturing industry, by which the value of British labour has been greatly depressed, in relation to the value of foreign labour, and the condition of the labouring classes of this country thereby greatly deteriorated in the scale of comfort. I agree with the hon. Mover in this, that the field for the consumption of British goods, has become restricted; but I assert, that the restriction is not owing to us, but to foreign nations which persist in refusing to receive our productions, although we do receive, far more freely, theirs. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, still contend that foreign nations would receive our commodities freely, if we did so with respect to theirs. But, as it is of importance that this vain expectation should be completely set at rest, I am prepared here by official documents and proofs, this once and for all, to establish the contrary. I have, upon former occasions, asserted that the foreign nations to which I advert, will neither relax nor abolish their systems, but on the contrary, that their tariffs are becoming more and more stringent. I might from these, were it not at so late an hour, explain fully the French commercial policy, and most particularly that extraordinary system of commercial legislation, a sort of commercial Parliament, constituted throughout France, and centralised in Paris, to which all alterations in commercial policy are submitted, before they are proposed to the legislative chambers, and which, accounting for much that we see, forms an influence too strong for any Government, or for the legislative chambers to contend with, in favour of free-trade. I might, with these materials, show likewise the stringency of the United States' system, and that no abandonment or material relaxation in our favour will be made there. I admit, that they may abate something of the stringency of their late Tariff; but that will be to make it more, and not less efficient in favour of their own manufacturing system, because excessive duties bring smuggling into play. I will here just briefly mention an insidious principle of protection in the United States' Tariff, which those hon. Gentlemen opposite, who ought to be very conversant with it, do not appear to have discovered. It is this, that exclusive of the very high ad valorem duties levied on the importation of our manufactures, there is an arbitrary rating of the value by which the real duty 589 is enormously enhanced. With respect to our cottons, for instance, several qualities and descriptions of different real values are classed together; but the duty is paid upon the whole, as if they were all of the value of the highest, and in this way our low priced articles have not the benefit of their low price, in the application of the duty, and in fact, I believe in some cases, pay 100 or 150 per cent on the value. I might show the like of other rival nations. Thus the wall which the hon. Member for Sheffield spoke of the other night, as one that we were building against foreign nations, is, on the contrary, a circumvallation which foreign nations are building against us. We have long been endeavouring by indications and advances on our part, to lower it; but in proportion as we do this, they back it up, and raise it. So that, this assertion with respect to the wall, and the assertion of the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and other hon. Gentlemen opposite upon this subject, are quite the reverse of being correct. Foreign competition, and foreign restriction, are therefore the causes of those limitations, in wonted fields, for the encouragement of British industry; these are the main causes of the existing distress, and we must seek compensation for this, elsewhere. I congratulate the hon. Member on the very just and magnificent exposition which he has given of the vast value and importance of the colonial trade, and consequently of the colonial system, in connection with his motion for extensive colonization. Nothing can be more convincing than the very able statement which he has made, taking colony by colony, and class by class, of the great value of our colonial, compared with our foreign trade, and of the immensely greater consumption of British goods in British colonies, than in foreign countries. This is indeed a powerful appeal in favour of the colonial system, which I have frequently endeavoured to advocate. But in any attempt to multiply or extend these advantages by colonization, the great object should be to take especial care that no more labour be abstracted from the unemployed mass at home, than can be immediately and permanently absorbed into the masses of employed labour in the colonies. If the should be overdone, great disappointment and suffering must be inflicted upon all those poor or distressed persons, who may have been sent out of 590 this country without regard to the actual state of industry, in the colony to which they had proceeded. Suppose this House were to adopt, forthwith, a system of colonization on a scale so extensive as to relieve the distress of the labouring population by removing so large a portion of it, as might do something like restore the balance between the demand for, and supply of labour, what guarantee will hon. Gentlemen opposite give, that the poor people so sent out of the country would find permanent employment in the colonies, and so better their condition? The only guarantee we could give, is, steadiness in our commercial policy, and in our commercial regulations, by which only the industry of the people in their new spheres, can be so protected, and kept active, as to afford them permanent employment. I beg then to ask the hon. Member, the mover of this resolution, if he is not an advocate for free-trade; and if so, whether his free-trade principles, if carried out, would tend to ensure to the new colonists permanent employment, prosperity and an improved condition? I ask all the hon. Members opposite whether the promised benefits of colonization are consistent with their principles. Why, if the Corn-laws were totally and entirely repealed, the trade of Canada with this country in agricultural produce and provisions, notwithstanding the enlightened policy of the right hon. Baronet to treat the Canadas as integral parts of the British empire, would be completely destroyed. Our supplies would be obtained from countries nearer home; or any that might come from America would be sent from the sea-ports of the United States. Then, with respect to timber, if this article were bought cheap without regard to the country of origin growth or production, or to the nationality of the vessels that import it, what would become of the British North American timber and shipping trade? Why the adoption of the principles of free-trade would effectually destroy those two staple branches of industry, in which only numerous emigrants to those colonies could find employment; and would render useless those boundless spaces as receptacles for our encreasing and surplus population, and which contribute moreover so much to the wealth and power of the British empire. Then with respect to the means of providing for the expence of sending out emigrants to and locating them in the colonies, I speak particularly of British North 591 America. There is a very general opinion entertained, that the proceeds of the sale of Crown lands afford Government the means of promoting this. The noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, has corrected this erroneous impression, he having stated that the Crown has no land to sell there. The whole of it has been alienated; but I must explain, with the permission of the House, the history of this economy, and I request the attention of the hon. Member for Montrose to it, because he has had a great share in bringing this difficulty about. And what I am to say will prove that pecuniary economy may very often be pushed so far in national policy as to become political prodigality. In consequence of the indisposition of this House to provide for the charges of the colonial civil lists, these were, many years ago, withdrawn from the Parliamentary estimates. This, with respect to New Brunswick, was announced to me in 1825, and I was directed to call upon the local Legislature to make that provision. I declined to do this, for strong and, as I thought, sufficient reasons. I think a person is not fit for such a situation as I then held, who hesitates to act thus, under a strong sense of the objections that may appear to him to be valid upon the spot, and with the most ample local knowledge and experience, I represented that a civil list could not be called for, without carrying out the terms of the arrangement, viz.—a surrender of the hereditary properties and revenues of the Crown to the Legislature, in return for the civil list: that thus, all the Crown, or its representative, had to depend upon, would be alienated for a very trifling sum; that the colonial governors and governments would become dependent on the local legislatures, and the settlement of the country likewise; that the control and responsibility over the governor, would be transferred from Downing-street and Parliament, to the colonial legislatures, and the Queen's representative thus become dependant upon them. My objections were admitted; the civil list for my province was restored, throughout my administration, to the Parliamentary estimate: but long since has this sad measure been generally carried out. I predicted the consequences; I forbear at present to pursue them. It is sufficient to say that not one inch of land has the Crown to dispose of in that group of colonies. And the funds derived from the 592 sale of lands in Australia, are, I believe, entirely exhausted. From what sources then, are to come funds, to defray the expense of sending out vast numbers of emigrants, either to British North America or to Australia, according to an extensive system of colonization? I can answer for the evils of the early systems of emigration, or rather of the absence of all system, as shown by the noble Lord the Secretary of the Colonies. I was in America at the time the schemes of 1825 and 1826 were undertaken, as a measure of relief to this country, and by which vast numbers of destitute, squalid emigrants, were landed upon our quays, in the condition which that noble Lord has depicted. I then established those emigrant and agricultural societies, saving-banks, and adopted other arrangements necessary for the better regulation and encouragement of emigration. I beg here to advert to the question of tenure, of which the noble Lord, the Member for Sunderland, has spoken. In order to defray the charges of the passage and location of emigrants, they were made to enter into engagements to repay, by the proceeds of their labour, the expense of transport; and with respect to land, to engage to pay a quit rent to the Crown, until they should pay the price put upon the land, and the expense of the grant. I objected to this as a dangerous tenure. 1st. That emigrants so sent out, would migrate into the United States, to avoid payment of passage money; and that all who might settle under these conditions, as renters to the Crown, would never pay, but on processes at the suit of the Crown. That the principle of making the governed, the debtor of the Government, was obviously, anywhere objectionable, reversing the principle which, as in the funding system, by making the governed, the creditors of the Government, gives each, by so much, an interest in the stability of the Government. These considerations put an end to that scheme of tenure. But I believe there is something like it still existing. I must now beg leave to make a few observations respecting succours, and aids, and comforts, and consolations, that should be provided, not only to attend an extended system of colonization, but even in the existing settlements, where these are greatly deficient, as appear by the papers I hold in my hand. Spiritual aid, religious instruction, and that organization of the Church, which is imperfect without episcopal go- 593 vernment and rule, demand succour. And here I advert, with pain and regret, to that pernicious, and most unholy act of a former Government, which, some years ago, withdrew from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Parliamentary grant, by which that society was enabled to provide, to a considerable extent, for the Church in the colonies; but which it is not now in its power to do. The venerable society is disabled from keeping faith, as they declare in a late appeal, with missionaries already sent out, far less to provide for fresh endowments. Nothing can exceed the devoted zeal, efficiency, and important services rendered by the missionaries that have been so sent out to the colonies. I could mention many instances of this, and of the difficulties, the privations, and even of the dangers to which they are frequently exposed, and encounter, in the discharge of their holy duties. I wish the House would permit me to state one fact illustrative of this. Visiting an inland district, bordering on an extensive lake, and having attended divine worship in a settlement on its shore, I crossed in the afternoon to another settlement, taking with me the missionary who had officiated. I learned from him, that his district comprehended all the settlements around the lake, and on the rivers falling into it. That he served four churches; did the parochial duties and attended to the schools, at four distant parts of that wide space; doing these duties in turn, so that each church and settlement was only served every fourth Sunday. The missionary had provided himself a boat for these duties; and the settlers manned her gratuitously, to carry him to the different points. Finding that he had for many years been charged with these duties, I asked whether he had not experienced great inconvenience and difficulty in crossing the lake in stormy seasons, and in winter? He replied that he had; that it was very perilous to him, and prejudicial to the settlement, that there should not be a missionary on each side of the lake; but that the society had not been able to comply with a requisition that had been made for an additional missionary in that quarter. That on one occasion, having urged the settlers, who formed his crew, beyond their discretion, to take him across the lake, the boat was upset in a squall; the missionary succeeded in reaching the boat, and, clinging to her for about ten 594 hours, drifted to the lea side of the lake, and so was most providentially preserved. The crew were all drowned! I may truly say, of my own knowledge, that but for the instrumentality of this society, vast numbers of settlers, members of the Church of England, must pass from the cradle to the grave, without the blessings and the benefits, and the consolations, of the religion they profess, according to the forms and faith of the national Church. With respect to the endowment of the bishopric of New Brunswick, I advert with great satisfaction to the intention announced by the noble Lord the Member for London, when Secretary of State for the Colonies, to advise her Majesty to found a bishopric in the province of New Brunswick, on the grounds, that the Roman Catholic Church is fully organised in that province, in this respect, and so is the Church of Scotland; and that it does not seem appropriate that Members of the Church of England, in considerable numbers, should either be under the superintendence of a bishop residing at a great distance, or be left entirely to voluntary contribution, in this essential matter. For these reasons admirably expressed, the noble Lord proposed to advise her Majesty to erect New Brunswick into a separate diocese, with a grant of 600l. a-year in aid of other funds, and without which grant it was made evident to the noble Lord that this bishopric could not be founded. This intention, I hope and trust will yet be carried out. I refer to it with great satisfaction, and I can assure the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, that the intentions which he thus announced has ensured to his Lordship the grateful acknowledgments of that portion of British North America, to which this measure relates. In other respects, likewise, there is a great want of spiritual aid in British North America, occasioned by want of funds to enable the Society for the propagation of the Gospel to provide for missionaries; and I can assure the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, that until these most necessary and essential requisites be supplied for religious worship, and for religious and moral education in connection with the national Church, which are greatly wanting in many of the settled districts of British North America, and which ought to be considered, too, an essential provision that should attend any system of colonization; Until these be abundantly carried out—co- 595 lonization will be discouraged, and the moral and religious improvement of the settlers by the Church be abandoned. I hold in my hand answers, published officially under the authority of the colonial office in reply to the question, "Is there a clergyman in each of the settled districts?" which answers state that many of the settled districts throughout the whole of British North America, are destitute of clergymen of the Church of England. And it likewise appears, by answers, given to questions which persons intending to emigrate, are most likely to put, next to that which relates to their spiritual well-being, that there is great want of hospitals, infirmaries, benefit societies, and funds for the relief of the destitute. New Brunswick may boast, I believe, of more of these institutions, than any of the other provinces, in proportion to her population. In Prince Edward's Island, there are no such institutions. In both Canadas there are several, but more are wanted; and for any extended system of colonization, must be greatly enlarged. And this leads me to recommend, most urgently, that there is probably nothing more important than to provide medical and surgical aid and dispensaries for medicine, in new settled districts at the public expense, or from some such fund or other. Hon. Members who have never visited new settlements, or witnessed the uncommon difficulties and dangers, and accidents to which the first settler, the pioneer of cultivation, is exposed, cannot conceive to what sufferings they are exposed in these undertakings, from diseases incidental to labour and exposure, in the virgin forest; to accidents in felling timber, and in, at first, the unskilled use of the axe. I could mention many terrible instances of this, which I have witnessed, when no medical, surgical, or medicinal aid were within reach. Nothing then is more important, to the physical well-being of the emigrants, as that medical and surgical aid should be provided, for the first periods of a settlement, at the public charge. The professional persons so sent out, might, when the settlement became organised, and prosperous, become practitioners at the charge of the settlers by degrees, and the first allowances, provided by some public fund, might gradually terminate. We have societies for providing charities, and succours of every description at home, and in foreign parts. I know none so much 596 needed, as a society for providing medical and surgical aid for first settlers in colonies. How many half-pay military and naval surgeons might not thus be employed. I mention all these circumstances, and accessaries, not to discourage, but to animate and provide for a good system of colonization, and I state the difficulties that the settler may have to encounter, and the means, circumstances, and conditions, and terms on which the success of an extensive system of colonization depends, that we may be careful. I shall say no more on this occasion, and at this late hour, than that I shall vote against the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Rochdale; and, though I admire and approve very much of what the hon. Mover has stated, yet I concur generally in what has been so ably stated by the noble Lord, the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Mr. S. Wortley
said, that although he agreed in much that was said by the hon. and learned Member for Liskeard as to the advantages of emigration, still he thought that even for the promotion of that object the hon. Member would do well to adopt the suggestion of the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, and leave the matter to the Government. He did not agree in all the objections that had been urged by his noble Friend, the Secretary for the Colonies. The hon. and learned Member suggested that funds for emigration might be provided by means of an advance of Exchequer-bills, on the guarantee of the sale of lands, and such an advance of Exchequer-bills for great public undertakings was made every year, and it was not long since that an advance of this kind was made for the carrying on public works in one of our North American colonies; he therefore did not think that the proposition was quite so inadmissible as had been stated by his noble Friend. He thought, that if this advance were made with caution, and within proper bounds, a very judicious encouragement might be given to emigration, and in such a way as to prove highly beneficial to the colonies. There were some curious details as to the effects of emigration on the poor-rates, in the last report of the Poor-law commissioners. In the appendix to this report, there was a statement of Mr. Tufnell, the assistant Poor-law commissioner, on this subject. That gentleman reported as to the results of emigration in Sussex, and showed, in one instance, the remarkable effect pro- 597 duced on the rates in a union from which there had been extensive emigration. He took the union of Rye, in Sussex, and he stated that from that union there had been very large emigration of the pauper population in the years 1836, 1837, and 1838. It might naturally be supposed, that the removal of so large a proportion of the inhabitants would have diminished the population, or at any rate have stopped the increase. This was a part of the country to which persons were not likely to move from other districts, but the poor-rates had been so little affected by this emigration that they had actually gone on increasing every year since its commencement. It was a remarkable circumstance that the effect of this emigration was to accelerate the increase of population; the effect, therefore, of the emigration on the poor-rates would not always be to reduce them. The authorities in the colonies were by no means satisfied that when the Government undertook to send out emigrants they selected those classes which would give the greatest assistance, and be of the greatest advantage to the colonies. Even in New South Wales, where there was the utmost desire to promote education, and where there was a great demand for labour, there was a suspicion that the main object of the Government was to relieve this country of paupers, and this excited a great distrust of the whole process. Again, there was extreme uncertainty as to the effect of the supply of labour, for at a time of the greatest distress, the largest emigration of labourers took place. They arrived out when the colony was least prosperous, and when there was the least chance of the labourers obtaining employment. He would at down with expressing his general concurrence in the views which his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) had expressed on the subject.
§ Mr. C. Buller
, in rising to reply, had to return his thanks to almost every Member who had addressed the House, whether his conclusion was for or against his motion, for the candid consideration given to the vote which the House was about to give. He hoped, that it would not be thought disrespectful to them if he did not notice the suggestions which had fallen from different Members, and confined himself to the speech of the noble Lord opposite. He was sorry to find, that it was toe determination of the Government to oppose this motion; but he was, nevertheless, convinced that he had taken the right course. 598 In his speech to the House, on moving this resolution, he had said, that he approved of the principle adopted by the present Government, but that it was imperfect, and, being imperfect, it was incapable of attaining the results which it would otherwise achieve. He had stated, that there was a lamentable discrepancy between these results and those which were obtained in the United States. He had said, that this country did not derive the full benefit of which the principles were capable; and this deficiency arose from defects in the details of the measures founded on those principles. He had mentioned many defects on which there were differences of opinion. He did not call upon the House to decide upon them; but there being these doubts, he had argued that the Government ought to take the matter into their full consideration, to clear up the doubts on the public mind, and either to extend the operation of the remedy, or to tell the country, after full investigation, what prevented the remedy from being effectual. He thought, that the noble Lord had not made out any case against inquiry. The noble Lord's chief objection was, that it would raise false hopes in the public mind. Now, what he had proposed was of slow operation. He did not propose emigration as the only remedy, but be proposed it as a remedy, and he had hoped that it would be extended. The course taken by the Government could not prevent illusory hopes, if the country were inclined to entertain them, and he thought that the country would come to a proper decision if the noble Lord would grant the inquiry. He had not moved for a committee, but the mode he had distinctly pointed out was an inquiry by commissioners—persons of weight with the country—who should examine the subject, and give a report which would guide public opinion. He was pleased to was an acknowledgment on ail sides of the House that this was a subject on which information was wanted, and he still hoped, that although the Government refused this motion, they would satisfy the public by prosecuting an inquiry; and he trusted, that the conduct of the noble Lord would be to give every facility to emigration, instead of throwing impediments in its way. The hon. Gentleman concluded with stating, that it was contrary to any object he had in view to divide the House, after what had taken place. As far as he was con- 599 cerned, then, he begged to withdraw the motion.
§ Mr. S. Crawford
said, that as the hon. Gentleman had withdrawn his motion, he, of course, should withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment and motion withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at a quarter to one o'clock.