SIR W. MOLES WORTH
was sorry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not withdrawn this Bill. He could not vote for it with any consistency, after having opposed, on principle, a similar measure when it was brought under the consideration of the House, at the beginning of the Session, by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. He entertained precisely the same objections to both measures. He could discover no difference 976 between them in principle. The object of both measures was to lend money at less than the market rate of interest to certain railway companies in Ireland; in other words, to give those companies a pension out of the public purse; and the amount of the pension would be equal to the difference which they would have to pay to Government for a loan of money if the Bill passed, and the interest they would have to pay for the loan if they obtained it in the money market. He asked, why those or any other railway companies should be pensioned by the State? No one could deny that in some shape or form the pension would ultimately be paid for by the public. That position had been proved by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, in the debate on the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. And he would ask, as the right hon. Baronet did when he summed up his financial objections to the measure of the noble Lord, whether it were just to impede the operations of the money market, or to incur the risk of fresh taxation, in order to give Irish railway shareholders money at 3½ per cent, for which they ought to pay 5 or 6 per cent? It was evident that the principle was the same, and the objection to it equally valid, whether the sum to be lent was 16,000,000l. or 620,000l., or the rate of interest 3½ or 5 per cent. He would likewise ask if that was the time to encourage expenditure on railroads? On the contrary, most persons would admit that too much of the capital of the country had already been engaged in railway speculations. But it was said, in favour of the Bill, that good railroads would be very good things for Ireland. No doubt of it; as good for Ireland as for England. But why were they to be made at the public expense in the one country more than in the other? That was the question. It was said, that by lending money to Irish railway companies, they would employ numerous labourers, pay them good wages, and relieve destitution in Ireland. Taking all that for granted, upon precisely the same grounds public money should be lent to those English railway companies that were destitute of the funds for carrying on their operations, or could only obtain them at a higher rate of interest. For it must be acknowledged, that there was plenty of distress at that time in England; and that the labouring population were neither too well fed nor too well paid; in fact, they had given half, and more than half, their 977 loaf to their Irish fellow-citizens. They did not grudge it them, though they had small thanks in return for it. They did not murmur. But they, their representatives, were hound to see whether these loans of public money would really and effectually relieve distress in Ireland. That was the question discussed on the Motion of the noble Lord opposite. On that occasion it was proved, over and over again, especially by hon. Members on the Ministerial benches, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the noble Lord the Member for London, that if money were lent to railway companies, not more than one-half, probably less than one-third, of such loans would be expended upon the wages of labour; that of the labourers employed, a large portion would be skilled labourers, who, according to the noble Lord the Member for London, could always obtain good wages in Ireland, and many of whom would probably be imported from England. It was shown, likewise, that of the unskilled labourers who would be employed in constructing railways, the greater portion would be the most able bodied men, who, if willing to work, could generally obtain employment. Thence it was justly inferred that little relief would be afforded by those loans to the really needy, destitute, and suffering; and that such relief as would be afforded to them would be insignificant and trifling as compared to the outlay which would be incurred, even in the highly improbable event of any considerable portion of those loans being repaid. These had been the chief arguments of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Colleagues against the measure of the noble Lord. They appeared to him to dispose of the question of relieving Irish distress by loans to Irish railways. It had been said, that in the peculiar condition of Ireland, political as well as social, the economical principles which were good for England, were inapplicable; and that it would be wise to encourage enterprise in Ireland, especially railroads, by means of British capital. with regard to that position, he would recommend hon. Members to read the able speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth on the Motion of the noble Lord opposite. On that occasion the right hon. Baronet had quoted numerous instances from his own experience to prove that attempts to foster enterprise in Ireland by means of British capital had generally failed; and thence the right hon. Baronet had inferred that similar interference 978 on behalf of railroads would be equally unsuccessful; and the right hon. Baronet exhorted the owners of Irish property not to resign themselves to sloth, idleness, and despair—not to put all their confidence in Government grants—not to place their trust in Government patronage—but to act in concert—to forget religious hatred and political animosity—and to exert themselves for the improvement of the people who were dependent upon them. He would presume to repeat the advice of the right hon. Baronet, and would oppose the Bill, as calculated neither to relieve distress nor to foster enterprise in Ireland; but to strengthen the bad habit of relying upon England for assistance whenever an emergency occurred in Ireland. He would ask, who would be the chief gainers by that measure? He asked that question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. On that occasion, to which he had already referred, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that the persons who would be the gainers by loans of money to the railway companies would be the mortgagees—the shareholders, whose depreciated property would acquire increased value—and the landowners through whose property the railways would pass, and who would obtain a good price for their land. The right hon. Baronet scouted, therefore (in his opinion most justly), the plan of the noble Lord, as a scheme for the relief of destitute shareholders and mortgagees. He asked, what was the difference between the two measures? In principle they were identical. They differed only in magnitude. By the Government Bill, in the first instance, fewer railway companies would receive loans of money than by the measure of the noble Lord. But if they lent public money to certain railway companies, he would ask upon what grounds could they justly refuse hereafter to lend to other railway companies? They must acknowledge, cither that the Bill in question would be an act of special favouritism, therefore, of injustice and abuse, for the benefit of those companies; or they must lay down the general principle that the railway companies who fulfilled certain conditions would be entitled to loans of public money; and then what security had they that they might not be compelled to go the whole length of the measure of the noble Lord? He would say, that as compared to the Bill of the Government, the scheme of the noble Lord had the outward semblance of a comprehensive and imposing plan. It did at first sight 979 appear not unlike the project of a statesman—a bold and vigorous measure, calculated, perhaps, to meet a great and sudden emergency. It had been proposed when there seemed to be a pressing necessity to do something for Ireland—when they were assailed upon every side by clamours of distress—by tales of hideous misery and suffering—by begging landlords—by imploring priests—by penitent repealers and agitators—all calling aloud for assistance from England. Then it was supposed, that thousands were dying of hunger, that myriads would perish if unassisted. Men were at their wit's end as to what ought to be done for Ireland; and no two were agreed upon the subject. At that period the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) had stood forward. He had manfully submitted his plan, such as it was, to the House; he supported it by every argument he could think of; it was patiently discussed, without party feeling; his arguments were carefully examined, ably met, and refuted—he was therefore abandoned by half of those whom he had looked upon as his party, and his scheme was rejected by a majority of three to one. After so signal a defeat, who had expected to hear again of the measure of the noble Lord? It was true, however, that in the course of that debate some of Her Majesty's Ministers had hinted that they might be inclined to lend some money to some railway companies; and, to his great astonishment, two months ago, that Bill had been introduced. He had, however, hoped, from the lapse of time, that it had been dropped; but just at the close of the Session it had been resuscitated, and they were called upon to vote for what the noble Lord had justly, though contemptuously, termed the fag-end of his project. Every argument, founded upon principle, that had been urged against the project of the noble Lord, still existed in undiminished force; but that urgent and imperious necessity which, in the minds of some persons, had constituted a plea for the measure of the noble Lord, was no longer in existence. The horrors of famine had been averted from Ireland. The immediate danger was passed and gone by. Meanwhile the population of Great Britain were suffering, partly, at least, from the measures which had been taken to relieve distress in Ireland. For instance, many manufacturers, in consequence of the dear-ness of money, arising from the demand for money to pay for the food imported for 980 Ireland—in consequence, therefore, of the difficulty of obtaining accommodation—had been compelled either to stop their mills or to work short time. If they thought it proper to lend money to employ the unemployed, and to raise the wages of labour, why should they confine their aid to Irish railway companies? Why not extend their assistance to millowners at Manchester and elsewhere? They would gladly accept loans of money at much less than the market rate of interest—they would open then-mills, fabricate abundance of goods, and with those goods pay for the food imported from abroad—they would offer security not worse than that of Irish railways—and they would confer greater benefit upon the industrious classes. For the labourers whom the railway companies would employ would be the able bodied men who would be certain to find employment in the fields at that season of the year, and during the approaching harvest, both in Ireland and in England. On the other hand, the artisans whom the millowners would employ were unfit for field work; and, therefore, when the mill was stopped, their only resource was the workhouse. Therefore, if public money should be lent for the purpose of employing labour, Irish railroad companies were not the parties to whom money should be lent in preference to all others. In fact, if they admitted the principle of lending money to employ labour, and to raise the wages of labour, there was not a single trade or occupation from the Land's End to John o'Groat's house that had not then a claim upon the public purse. And they should remember, that every branch of industry which they did not assist, was positively injured by the assistance which they gave to any other branch of industry. Therefore, he said, they ought to assist all or assist none. To assist all would be impossible. He, therefore, contended, they should assist none; and on these grounds he objected to the Bill before the House. It might be said, that there was some special reason, independent of principle, which might be urged in favour of the Bill; and on a former occasion the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a special reason for the measure—a strange one it had been. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated, that at the commencement of this Session he had estimated that a certain sum of money would be required for certain purposes in Ireland, namely, eight millions; part to feed the people, part to improve landed 981 property, part to reclaim waste lands. The right hon. Baronet had discovered that the whole of that sum would not be required for the purposes already mentioned, and that it would be neither wise nor expedient to expend public money on the reclaiming of waste lands; consequently, unless the right hon. Baronet could discover some other mode of expending money in Ireland, his calculations would be erroneous—he would require less money than he expected—there would be a surplus of some 600,000l. What could he do with it? Why, he would give it to some railway companies. That was the right hon. Baronet's only reason for that Bill. In short, the right hon. Baronet had asked for a certain sum of public money for Ireland; and he was determined to expend the whole of it in some manner or another—good, bad, or indifferent. And in reply to the assertion, that the manner in which he intended to expend it by that Bill was a bad one, his only answer was, that no additional loan would be required for the purpose. Was that a proper answer? Did not every farthing of public money improperly expended increase the burdens of the country? And were the burdens of the people so light that they should reject every possibility of diminishing them? In his opinion, they had better return the 600,000l. to the pockets of the people, and let it fructify there, than throw it away upon Irish railway companies, to the benefit of none but mortgagees, landlords, and shareholders—to the positive and ultimate detriment, he believed, of the Irish people, by encouraging them in the bad habit of relying upon England for assistance. he concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.
did not expect the Government would have revived this Bill. He feared that the result would be to shake the confidence which the money market had in the management of the Government, as regarded the finances of the country; and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would find, if he pursued a measure of this nature, he would entirely lose the confidence of the mercantile interest. Let it be recollected, that since the right hon. Gentleman came into office, eight millions had been added to the permanent debt of the country; and in the course of the first eight months he was in office, the balance in the Exchequer had been reduced from 9,000,000l. to 5,450,000l. He thought, if the right hon. 982 Gentleman would look to what he bad done in the management of their financial affairs, he would find that he had done sufficient mischief already, without taking up the interests of railway speculators in Ireland. The present condition of the money market did not warrant such a proceeding. The Bank of England had just emerged from a position of great difficulty. Those individuals who are engaged in the trade and manufactures of the country, were slowly recovering from that depression of the money market which very recently nearly overwhelmed many of them; and before they could recover themselves the right hon. Gentleman came forward with this measure. If this course were to be pursued, he was quite sure before two years had elapsed, the right hon. Gentleman would bring the country into that state of difficulty to which the preceding Government to which he belonged had reduced it; and it would require some more master hand to restore its finances, than appeared to him to be at the command of the right hon. Gentleman. He wished to know where this money was to come from? Was it to be borrowed on Exchequer bills? The right hon. Gentleman had had the greatest difficulty in keeping the Exchequer bills above par; he therefore presumed that the right hon. Gentleman would not resort to this resource. It was the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to husband the resources of the country, instead of resorting to such a measure as this, which would cripple them.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I stated on a former occasion the reasons of Her Majesty's Government for proposing that this measure should be adopted by the House; I, for one, believing it was not at variance with any acknowledged principle adopted by the Legislature on former occasions. The hon. Baronet who commenced the debate said—and I know it is a popular, but at the same time a very superficial, objection to the plan—because the House objected to the adoption of the plan of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, at the commencement of the Session, that it ought not to assent to the present measure. In opposing that plan, there were two grounds chiefly relied on to induce the House to reject it. The one was, that it laid before us an immediate prospect of a great expenditure, and when it was not known in what state the money market would be when this expenditure would he required; and we also thought that it would be improper, 983 in the then state of affairs, to pledge the House to a plan by which 16,000,000l. would be required to be raised by loan. Such was the main, and, I believe, the decisive objection to the plan. Another objection relied on was, that the plan was not effective for the immediate purposes in view—namely, for affording the means of supplying food to distressed millions of Irish who had lost their sole article of subsistence. I thought those objections were sound. I then thought, and I think still, that railway employment is not the best kind of employment to afford immediate relief to a people, many of whom are aged and infirm, and all have been left without their ordinary means of obtaining food. But when I opposed the noble Lord's Motion, towards the end of the debate, I said distinctly that the object to which that proposition applied was a legitimate object; and that public works at all times had been advantageously encouraged and brought to perfection by advances of public money, and that railways might be considered among the most useful of such works. Such was the statement which I made when I opposed the Motion of the noble Lord. I contend, therefore, there was nothing in the arguments used by Her Majesty's Government—there was nothing in the decision of the House—on the very large plan proposed by the noble Lord—and to the comprehensiveness of that plan, and to the ability with which it was brought forward, I then did only justice—there was nothing, however, in that decision to preclude this House for ever from making advances to any railways. If we take the objection of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark to the extent to which he carries it, the case will be different; for the hon. Baronet argued, because the plan of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn was rejected at the commencement of the Session, the House never is to sanction an advance of money for the completion of railways in Ireland. A more violent conclusion, or one more at variance with practice, could not be urged. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer, referring to this subject, said, that it was the custom every year, out of the balances of public money, to make advances for the promotion of useful works. Many useful works with which I am acquainted have been completed by advances of money to the amount required, say of 40,000l., or 50,000l., or 60,000l. Many works of great public value have been undertaken and completed by such 984 advances, and which individuals would not have been likely to have undertaken. It is also a misapprehension of the plan on the part of the hon. Baronet, to suppose the interest to be paid for those advances for Irish railways was to be 3½ per cent, and therefore very low, and under the average rate charged. The rate of interest to be charged for such advances will be 5 per cent—the usual rate for advances of this description. Therefore, so far from varying from the general principle, it is in exact conformity with the principle acted on by this House. I must admit that on this occasion we are going beyond the usual amount of advances for public works; but the question is not that which the hon. Member put to the House—shall we, or shall we not, adopt a plan which requires a larger advance than the Exchequer Loan Commissioners can advance from the amount at their disposal. I admit this to be the case, and I am prepared to make out a case of exception; but so far from this being a reason for not proceeding, I put it to the House whether the present state of Ireland does not form an exception to the rules which should generally guide us. The hon. Baronet talked of mills in England and of manufactures here; but is there anything in the state of England resembling the state of things in Ireland? You must look at the condition of Ireland as it has been made by a long-course of legislation and government. You must look at a people amounting to several millions, occupying the most miserable habitations and depending on the lowest description of food, and living on an amount of the necessaries, still less the comforts of life, much less than is usually enjoyed by English labourers. What is the cause of this state of things? Let us look back to history and see what has been done in past times, and thus trace the influence of Government on the condition of the people of this and other countries, not merely for the last twenty years, but for centuries. If we look to the condition of Tuscany, we cannot help tracing back a portion of the happy condition of the people to the rule of that flourishing republic which so long ruled there; if we look to Flanders, we may still see some of the remains of the good government of the House of Burgundy; and if we look to Gallicia, we still see many effects of the influence of the Moorish rulers on the condition of the people. In every part of Europe in which I have travelled, I think effects can be 985 traced in the condition of the people to the acts, not of the Government existing at the moment, hut of governments and rulers long since passed away. Ireland is no exception to this rule. If we look hack at what has been the nature of the legislation for Ireland, we find that the great majority of the people of that country were debarred from all offices in the State, and from all distinctions at the bar and other professions; they were debarred even from the peaceable enjoyment of a landed estate; for any kinsman of the owner choosing to turn a villain might deprive him of it. When such was the tendency of the laws to degrade and injure them, it is not surprising that the people were reduced to the lowest condition of human life. It would be a narrow and unjust view of our duty to Ireland if we merely looked to what has been done during the last ten or twenty years, or since the Union, and then lay down such a principle as the hon. Member for Southwark laid down with such complacency, namely, that she should be left to her own resources; and as England has done well when left to herself, so would Ireland. If Ireland had been governed as England has been governed, no doubt she would be able to do well. It is not the late legislation—not the Act of 1829—that act of tardy justice, which can in a few years place Ireland in a condition to work out her own prosperity, and place her people in such a state of comfort and happiness as the English people are placed. In consequence of the state of misery, crime has increased; and in consequence of crime, capitalists have been afraid to settle there. This, I repeat, has been the result of crime; but crime has arisen from general causes, which it is the business of the Legislature to deal with; not merely find fault with outrages committed from time to time, growing out of particular circumstances, and not caused by any thing in the particular character of the people. Therefore, I say, there is abundant reason why we should do more than what first seemed called for. There is abundant reason, I think, why we should not be satisfied with what—as I admit with the hon. Baronet— the House has freely and liberally done, namely, given millions derived from the industry of other portions of the empire, to relieve the distress existing in Ireland. In what situation do we now find her? Some persons who declare they have the means of arriving at a sound conclusion on the subject, state that the potato crop of 986 the present year will be only one-fourth, or one-fifth, or one-sixth the usual quantity; and one person, who I think is a very high authority on the subject, says that it will not amount to one-half. But whatever is the amount, there is reason to believe that a great portion of this crop will perish. The people have exerted themselves latterly in sowing a portion of their grounds which have hitherto produced potatoes with different kinds of corn, and a great portion of the corn lands have been sown with turnips, which will produce a much greater quantity of green crop than usual. But for the maintenance of the people, it should be recollected that the produce of three acres of wheat is equal only to one acre of potatoes. Will any one, looking to the condition of Ireland, not for the next six. months, but for the next five or six years, tell me that he can do so without apprehension that the sufferings of the people may be extreme? We have imposed on the land and the property of Ireland a very considerable burden. We have made them responsible, in the first instance, for the situation in which they now are; we have imposed the expense of maintaining the labourers and their families, for whose service there is no actual demand, on property in Ireland; but, looking to what is the condition of Ireland, we must by every means in our power assist in rescuing the people of Ireland from their present state; and by exertions on our part to work out a state of improvement, we must give them effectual aid in working it out for themselves. I will not go into other matters on the present occasion. But with regard to the measure before the House, I deny that there is anything at all in it either chimerical or empirical. Several years ago the Government appointed a Commission, composed of the late Lieutenant Drummond, Colonel Beaufoy, Mr. Barlow, of Woolwich, and Mr. Griffiths, to consider the whole question of railroads in Ireland, and they made a most elaborate report on the subject, and recommended most strongly the formation of a railroad from Dublin to Cork as one of the greatest importance. They examined the matter geographically, and carefully investigated all the physical conditions of the country. Captain Harness, of the Artillery, was also engaged in making inquiries as to the probable amount of traffic on such a railroad. These gentlemen made a most elaborate report, and strongly recommended a railroad from Dublin to Cork, on 987 the ground not only of the pecuniary benefit, but also on account of the moral benefit which it would produce both to Ireland and England, and the effect it would have in cementing the union between the two countries. They gave various other reasons in favour of a railroad from Dublin to Cork; but I think the last they mention is of great importance. Cork being a naval and a mercantile station, the traffic and the numbers who will travel along the line will be considerable; and I think such a railroad is likely to be the source, not only of immediate employment—that is not what we so much look to—but of a closer connexion between England and Ireland, and of immense advantages to both countries. In considering this matter, therefore, I think we propose to take a step in the right direction towards promoting the improvement of Ireland. In the former part of the Session, we asked the House to assist in alleviating the immediate distress of Ireland; and what we shall have to consider in a future Session is, how we can raise Ireland from the condition in which bad government has placed her, so that she shall be in a condition to stand by England both in the hour of prosperity and in the hour of adversity—fully sharing our prosperity, and affording aid and support in any dangers which may threaten. I am sure that it would be taking a narrow view of the question to say that we will not grant money for this purpose, because in England such works have been completed without any such advance. To act upon such a principle would be most injurious to both parts of the empire. If we mean to act in a spirit of amity to Ireland, we must do what is calculated to carry out improvement in that country. The hon. Member for Coventry made a most extraordinary objection to this advance of money. It was that the railway, for the completion of which it was intended, was half finished. If I had asked the House for a vote for a railway which had not been begun, and when the advantages to be derived from its execution were problematical, and when the persons promoting it were not ready to advance their private capital, there would be a plain and obvious objection to the proposal; hut when the parties have already expended fifty per cent of the cost of its construction, and have finished many miles of railroad, and have found on those parts completed a very considerable traffic, I think we have a very satisfactory reason for supplying 988 the means of finishing it to such an important place as Cork. To oppose the proposition on the ground stated by the hon. Member, was merely to oppose it right or wrong. The noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck) might say that this was not the only line of railway which should be promoted. This was a railway which was recommended to the Government as one of the great lines of Ireland; and as fifty per cent had been paid upon its capital, it was in a state for going before the Exchequer Loan Commissioners for an advance of money. This is the reason why the House should adopt this railway; and it will be for the noble Lord, or others, to show that other railways come within the condition. What the Government propose is, that a specific sum for the purpose should be taken within the present year; and this proposal is very different in its nature from that of the noble Lord. The argument of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on this subject, has been entirely forgotten. He had said as 8,000,000l. was to be advanced for the maintenance of the people, and as another amount was to be devoted to the reclamation of the waste lands, it would be unwise to come down and ask for such a large amount as was then proposed by the noble Lord. My right hon. Friend has been asked how he is to get this 600,000l. My right hon. Friend's answer is a complete one, for he says, "I have no difficulty about this; for there is already a provision made for that amount in the expenditure of the current year—a provision which will admit of the laying out of 600,000l. for this purpose. "The answer of my right hon. Friend has all along been, that there would be no difficulty in finding money to this amount; but now the hon. Gentleman says, because my right hon. Friend has found that he has got this money, he is determined to spend it. I think I have shown in former debates on this question—as I believe I have shown now—that the object in view is good. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last objected to the measure on the ground of the state of the finances, and stated that the balance in the Exchequer had been reduced between last year and the present from nine to five millions. Now I find from a return on the Table that the balance in the Exchequer on the 5th of April, 1846, was 6,546,000l., and on the 5th of April, 1847, it amounted to 5,459,000l., being 1,087,040l. less, and 989 not the amount stated by the hon. Member. When the question of finance is considered fairly, I conceive that we should not leave out of view the effect of the great calamity which has been experienced. If the House has resolved to advance a large amount of money for the alleviation of the existing distress in Ireland, I should have thought that it would be clear that we cannot carry on the finances of the country in the same way as in ordinary years. No financier in this House but the hon. Member for Coventry supposed that the results should be the same when the circumstances were essentially different, or would compare them at present with the results of an ordinary year. In conclusion, I trust the House will agree to the proposal as part of a general system of policy which the House should adopt in the government of Ireland, and as only an act of justice to that country.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
wished the House to mark well the last words of the noble Lord, namely, that this proposal was part of a general system which he was about to adopt with regard to the Government of Ireland. And how did the noble Lord lay this down? He said, in the early part of the Session, the noble Lord the Member for Lynn made a proposition for a large grant for this purpose. The noble Lord opposed the Motion, knowing, as the noble Lord did then, and now, the extent of the calamity in Ireland. The proposition was a general vote to extend over four years. The noble Lord opposed the vote on two grounds. The one was that the general state of the calamity called for the expenditure of a very large sum for the purpose of relief; and if this amount was expended on railways, it would not relieve the most destitute. The noble Lord then proposed a grant of 10,000,000l., to be expended over 1847 in the relief of destitution. The scheme of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn was, that 4,000,000l. a year should be taken for four years. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), he conceived, had properly opposed this proposition, and should have been consistent in his opposition to it; but the noble Lord had not been consistent. The noble Lord showed that this was not a scheme adopted for Ireland; but he comes forward and attempts to take the plan of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn as part of his general system for the government of Ireland. The people of England should understand what this meant if it rested with him. He 990 objected to any advances being made for Irish railways. He objected to the grant of the large sum proposed; and he objected to the small sum, because it would not afford any relief to the people. The noble Lord said, consider how Ireland had been governed for centuries; consider the condition of Ireland was not a case of yesterday, but you have centuries of oppression to deal with. He objected to send capital to Ireland for such a purpose, for the state of the country had nothing to do with the formation of railways. It was not the want of railways, but the existence of the Irish Church, which was the cause of this state of things. The law did not make the people of that country equal, for the law made the Catholics serfs, and the Protestants oppressors. The noble Lord now came forward with a pitiful proposition for 600,000l. for railways, as an indication of what was meant to be done. Why was this applied for at that period of the Session? Did the idea of railways never suggest itself to the noble Lord at the early part of the Session? The noble Lord said that it did, but that he hesitated on the matter. The noble Lord now pointed to the book before him (the Report of the Commissioners on Irish Railways). Surely the noble Lord could not suppose that he could impose upon him by pointing to that book. The book merely said, that the formation of railways would be attended with commercial advantages to Ireland. No one doubted but that railways would be beneficial to any country. If they made one through New Zealand, no doubt it would be attended with beneficial results; but the question was, whether this was a legitimate mode of employing English capital. This calamity of Ireland seemed to be a sort of ball tossed from side to side, and which was made greater by being struck back from one to the other. The noble Lord formerly said, that the formation of railways would not relieve the aged and the impotent or the starving, and therefore must strike them out in the consideration of the relief to the calamity in Ireland. The noble Lord said, that there was no use in dwelling on the humanity of the people of England, and immediately asked, will you not give 600,000l. to meet this calamity? It must be remarked, that this 600,000l. was not lent to the starving population of Ireland. If it could be shown that it was about to be lent to alleviate the calamity in Ireland, he should have objected, but not on this 991 ground. He should have protested against it on very different grounds. The noble Lord said truly, that for some time they must look to anything but years of plenty. He had no hesitation in saying that the potato crop for the present year would be a most unhappy failure. In England he had had communications with many districts; and he had reason to believe that the potato crop would be a failure; and all the spring crops in this country, but pulse, would be extremely short. Therefore, as regarded all the white crops, we must expect a short coming harvest. As for the wheat, it would not be more at best than an average crop throughout the United Kingdom; and there was nothing in the appearance of things in America to encourage much hope or expectation. In this condition, what was it that ought to govern the Ministry of this country? Ought it not to be a resolution not to waste our substance or our hopes on idle projects of railways in Ireland? Did we not know that all the stocks of food in England and in America had been consumed by the short comings of last year: that the question no longer regarded granaries loaded with grain, rendered useless by the operation of prohibitory laws in this country; but one of granaries emptied by the unexpected demand; and that all we had to depend upon now was the coming harvest of the year? So fearful a state of expectancy for this country had never before been known; and although the noble Lord was not by any means answerable for such a lamentable condition of things—although he could not be held in the smallest degree responsible for the dispensations of an Almighty Providence—yet he would be answerable for not preparing, so far as human prudence or foresight could prepare, to meet the consequences of that divine dispensation. What would the noble Lord do in his own individual case? Let it be supposed that he were about to expect a prime season so far as his individual property was concerned—that he were to have a large surplus—would he go to the railway king, and offer him his money to be used in speculation? He knew that the noble Lord did not expect any return for this money which he proposed to advance. The noble Lord the Member for Lynn, in making his proposition, had said, that all he wanted was to give employment to the people of Ireland. The hon. Member for Lincoln said the same thing. The noble Lord had opposed the proposition of the 992 noble Lord the Member for Lynn; and now, under what possible supposition or pretence did the noble Lord come forward to ask the House for these monies? Why, he said, "You know how we have misgoverned Ireland for centuries;" and then he looked across the table at the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, and begged the House not to think that his proposition had anything to do with, or that it bore any resemblance to, that of the noble Lord. ["No, no!"] He said the Government knew the noble Lord the Member for Lynn was wrong when he brought forward his measure, and that he was wrong still. But he must tell the noble Lord, that it was an unquestionable doctrine of political economy that the people of England were the best judges of the way in which their capital should be employed. One of the reasons urged by the noble Lord for giving assistance to this particular railway was, that it was nearly finished. And the noble Lord produced a large report that had been written to show and to prove the great advantages to be derived by it, and censured the hon. Member for Coventry for having refused to sanction the giving of money to an undertaking that was in so advanced a state. Why, if it were such a flattering speculation, how came it that the directors were not able to borrow the money requisite for it in the usual market? The noble Lord knew they could not; and what then was he going to do? To tax him (Mr. Roebuck) and every Gentleman present in the House, and all the people of England, for the purpose of lending the money to certain speculators in Ireland; and whilst the people of England could get 10 per cent for their money by lending it themselves, the noble Lord was going to lend it at five. But what was the noble Lord going to do for the future with respect to Ireland? If the noble Lord could show them that he was going to establish security in Ireland for person and property, and if he could actually render life and property safe, he would have done all that a Government should do. But he was going to do more. He was not going to render life and property secure. He did not wish to misrepresent the noble Lord, and he was anxious not to he misunderstood. He was quite sure the noble Lord would do everything that lay in his power to render life and property in Ireland secure; but the noble Lord was going to try to do something else before making life and property secure. The noble Lord was 993 going to take money from the hardworking, industrious people of England, and to use it in speculation, by way of effecting the "regeneration," as it was termed, of Ireland. A more wild or a more mischievous project never entered into the head of any Government. The noble Lord would find himself utterly and totally impotent to effect such a purpose. Let the noble Lord confine himself to the proper business of Government, and not yield to the rapacity—and he used the word advisedly—of parties at the other side of the Channel, who called upon him to help them with the proceeds of the hardworking and industrious people of England. Let him not be misunderstood. He did not want to charge the noble Lord with anything but what he was at present doing. The noble Lord's intentions were, he believed, altogether unexceptionable. But he believed he was only doing his own duty fairly and honestly when he said, the noble Lord was about to misapply the hard earnings of the industrious people of England to a mischievous project of railway speculation in Ireland. There was something, too, very peculiar in the railway that had been selected. Why had that particular railway been selected? Why, because it was nearly finished. That was the only argument which the ingenuity of the noble Lord could suggest—that he was about to help only those who had already reached the shore. He could understand the noble Lord if the noble Lord had said that his reason for making the advance was that the regular tide of capital would not flow into Ireland. But, on the contrary, the noble Lord had said, that this was an instance in which the regular tide of capital did flow; but would the noble Lord place his own money in the speculation? and if not, should they (the English people) have their money invested in the same way as that in which the hon. Member for Lincoln had invested his. That hon. Member came constantly to the Table of the House to urge them to make those advances to help speculators, who had invested their money in shares during the high tide of the railway mania, but whose shares, that once promised to be fortunes, were, now that the tide had ebbed and fallen, valueless. In such a dangerous condition of railway speculation, what was the universal and last resource? Why, the unfortunate Chancellor of the Exchequer. But although it might be very painful to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be 994 obliged to listen to those applications—to have them made to him, and yet be unable to respond to them in the manner he could wish, by granting their prayers—it was still a more painful consideration to the taxpayers when he did grant them; and, sympathizing as he did with the painful feeling of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in being obliged to refuse, he sympathized more deeply still with the taxpayers when the Chancellor granted, because it was they who had to pay. And for what? For the wild, the daring speculations of the hon. Member for Lincoln. He had a right to single out that hon. Gentleman, and to attack him; for he had said that he was going by these means to employ a large number of the people of Ireland. The noble Lord the Member for London had replied to the hon. Member for Lincoln, that he could not by such means employ a large number, and that he never would. But the hon. Gentleman had still pressed, and, standing at the corner of that Table, he had again urged the noble Lord to consent. He (Mr. Roebuck) could easily understand the anguish of expectancy, and the pain of being refused. But he had a sympathetic pain; he did not, and he could not, see the reason why he should be compelled to make up the loss arising from the wild speculation of any portion of Her Majesty's subjects. And if the field of the unfortunate speculation were Ireland, and that an attempt were made to enlist the sympathies of the people of England in favour of the speculation, by appeals to their charitable feelings, and by setting forth the miseries consequent upon the loss of the last potato, he felt it to be his duty to, and he would, unmask the pretence, and show the people of England that it was not the loss of the potato that had brought ruin upon the unfortunate speculators. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would reconsider this matter—that they would carefully, gradually, and seriously consider what they were about to do, and what would be the consequences of the measure they were proposing. The noble Lord had said, that it was to be but the first step in a plan, and not at all like that of the noble Lord opposite. When that noble Lord (the Member for Lynn) had said that he was going to open up the internal resources of Ireland, the noble Lord the Member for London said he could not admit the proposition. Yet he now said he thought the measure before the House a good plan; and he proposed it to begin 995 with; and at a time when England was on the eve of very great distress, he was about to put his hand into her pocket, and to lay out her money in speculation in Ireland. If there were one thing which more than another was an incontrovertible fact, it was, that the Administration (and he begged to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer particularly to it) could never employ the capital of the people in mercantile speculation with one half the efficiency that the people themselves could. That he laid down as a perfectly incontrovertible doctrine; and he deprecated their bringing English capital into Ireland, not according to the ordinary rules of political economy (for the noble Lord had himself admitted that the present proposition was a breach of those rules), merely because of that dreadful misrule with which Ireland had been for centuries overwhelmed. It was the first time that he had heard such a doctrine and such arguments broached in the House of Commons; but it was as a first step in the new scheme that he especially opposed it. It was because he believed that the Government was impotent when it attempted to employ the money of the people for other purposes than the preservation of tranquillity and the security of property and life. The moment the Government began to be a money lender, it would begin to be a money loser; and the only expectation that any man of ordinary wisdom could have, when the Government became a merchant, would be that it must end in bankruptcy. The time was fast approaching when the Government of the country would have to render an account of its actions at the bar of public opinion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer would be expected to render an account of all his doings; and one of the most severe of all the ordeals through which he would have to pass, would be, having to explain to the mercantile community of England how it was that he, a Member of the Government, had seized upon the property of the people, and invested it in a wild speculation in the railways of Ireland, because, forsooth, Ireland had been misruled for centuries.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
The last sentence in the speech of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown, at which the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck) took so much alarm, "that this is part only of the general policy that the House ought to adopt with respect to Ireland,'' is that part of his speech which gave 996 me the greatest pleasure. I concur entirely with the noble Lord, "that this is a step in the right direction;" and although it may be said that this proposition is not mine, I trust it will grow into mine. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark (Sir W. Molesworth) said, "that the proposition of the noble Lord was one which tended to place Irish railways as pensioners upon this country!" Sir, I think if the hon. Baronet had said that the proposition made by the noble Lord was one that tended to make the English Government a pensioner upon Irish railways, he would have been nearer the mark, and would have had more reason and more truth on his side; for although I cannot claim for the measure which I introduced that I was going to seek to obtain five per cent from the necessities of Ireland for money which I borrowed at 31. 7s. 6d., yet such is the proposition contained in the measure of Her Majesty's Ministers. The consequence is, that whilst they propose to lend to three Irish railways 620,000l., they will obtain from these railways 31,000l. a year, whilst the cost to the Government is only 20,925l.; a year: so that, in point of fact, Ministers are going to make use of their superior credit for the sake of usury; and, so far from losing by the transaction, as the hon. Member for Southwark would have the people of England believe, the result of the whole is that Her Majesty's Ministers will clear above 10,000l. a year profit. Now, I have no wish to take more merit for my own scheme than it possessed; but I am bound to confess that I did not propose to make money out of Ireland by using the credit of England. All that I proposed was to get back by means of good security the money which I lent, charging the same interest at which I borrowed. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Coventry (Mr. Williams) thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to have been warned by the effect which his Irish railway proposition had produced in the city of London. Now, for my part, I am quite unaware of any bad effects having been produced by this proposition. I do not hear that Exchequer bills have fallen to a discount, or that the funds have experienced a decline. We all remember that the funds rose one or two per cent immediately after the completion of the transaction for borrowing the "eight millions." The subsequent difficulties which occurred in the money market arose from other and dis- 997 tinct causes, and were totally unconnected either with railways or the loan of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If it were my wish, however, in the present state of the measure before the House, it would not he possible for me to make any Amendment. I confess that I had desired to move an Amendment that all other railways similarly situated, such as the Great Midland and Western and the Waterford and Limerick Railway Companies, should participate in the like advantage; hut I am in a great measure dissuaded from pressing their claims on the House, because, as I understand, an assurance is given by the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) that when these railways put themselves in a position equivalent to that in which the Great Southern and Western stands, a corresponding advance will he made to them. Well, Sir, what are the circumstances of these two railways which are seeking equal assistance? I will take first the Great Midland and Western of Ireland. What is its position? The proprietors have expended on their railway more than the half of the capital. They have expended 537,000l. out of their capital of 1,000,000l.; and they have purchased the Royal Canal for 300,000l., 200,000l. of which has been actually paid, and 100,000l. has been placed upon the canal property by mortgage. Well, that canal is now paying 15,000l. a year, so that the company have this 15,000l., less the interest on the mortgage, to offer in addition to 537,000l. already expended as security for any advance which the Government may think fit to make. Of the line to Dublin, seven-and-twenty miles will soon be opened—in fact, that portion of the line was to he opened this very day; and assuming that the clear profit from these twenty-seven miles of railroad already opened shall not exceed 50,000l. a year, we have this sum, together with the 15,000l. a year, ready to offer you as security for the loan of 133,000l. which they ask. Therefore, if good security is the only matter in dispute, I maintain that the Great Midland and Western stands in as good a position to offer ample security for the loan as the Great Southern and Western. But the noble Lord has said "that this is one of the railways that were recommended originally by the Railway Commissioners;" but was not the Great Midland and Western one of the lines recommended also? The noble Lord seems to forget, however, that the other 998 railways, the Waterford and Kilkenny, and the Dublin and Drogheda, which are to enjoy the advantage of a Government loan, were not recommended by the Railway Commissioners; at all events, therefore, the Great Midland and Western has superior claims to two out of the three to which it is proposed to make advances of money. The noble Lord said there were only two grounds upon which he objected to the scheme I originally proposed. One was the immense amount of money which would he required; and the other that the plan was not adapted for securing an immediate supply of food. But I remember that a great many other grounds were alleged as reasons for opposing my measure. One was that the security was not sufficient for the repayment of the money; that few Irishmen would be employed; and that Englishmen would have the chief advantage; and one hon. and gallant Member (Sir Charles Napier) who came to the aid of the Government, went further, and asserted, that not only would no Irishmen be capable of being converted into railway labourers, but "that Irish 'navvies' were a class rarely married, and who never got children." In regard to one statement which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answer to me that railways would not employ more than twenty or thirty men a mile in their construction, and that the 4,000,000l. a year which I proposed that the Government should lend in aid of 2,000,000l. to be expended by the private speculators, would only employ 45,000 persons a year—I am happy to find that Her Majesty's Ministers are now grown wiser, and affirm to-day that 50 men will get employment per mile; and thus that 15,000 men will be employed by the loan of 500,000l. now to be advanced in aid of the Great Southern and Western Railway works. Such being the case, I am quite prepared to support the scheme proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers; and I, for one, am not afraid to stand or fall by the economy of this proceeding. I am ready to go before the people of England, and show to them that this scheme, so far from being a scheme to make the people of England, as alleged by the hon. Member for Bath, "feed the rapacity of the Irish nation," is a scheme by which, whilst the people of Ireland will be benefited and employed at home, they will be prevented from emigrating to England to interfere with the working men of this country, beating down by competition the wages of English 999 labourers; so that the working men of England will be the greatest gainers by the arrangement. I am prepared to show that this constitutes the essential value of this scheme of lending money to promote public works of utility in Ireland, and that when you lend money on Irish railways on ample security, you do not tax the people of England at all; while, on the contrary, by going on in the course which the Government has pursued, of squandering 10,000,000l. a year in a way in which the one-half of what is so squandered is not to be repaid or asked for, and the other half which is to be asked for, rests on very doubtful security, as has been acknowledged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, you do tax the people of England very grievously—I say that the existing mode of lending money, and of feeding the people of Ireland by means of useless public works, is a tax, without hope of return, on the people of England; but this money lent by England to employ the Irish people on Irish railways will all be repaid, and will not cost England a single farthing. With respect to the claims of these two railways, it is my desire—though I am not going to propose any amendment—to set forth the claims of the Midland Great Western. I have spoken already of the security. Then, with respect to the advantages of such a railway, I may state that the Midland Great Western crosses the Shannon at Athlone, and forms the line of communication for the whole west of Ireland, and that the west of Ireland contains a population of 2,000,000. Now, I wish to ask whether the Great Southern and Western will afford communication for a larger population? The Midland Great Western will have its extensions from Athlone to Galway and Mullingar, with branches to Sligo and various other places. By the evidence taken before one of the Committees last year, it appears that in Galway Bay the number of fishing boats (hookers, as they are called in Ireland) is no less than 2,136, measuring from ten to fifteen tons each, and manned by about 9,000 men. The present charge for carrying fish from Galway to Dublin is 18s. per cwt. By railway it would be about 2s. The present average of time occupied by coaches and other conveyances in travelling from Galway to Dublin is 24 hours. The result is that the fish—herrings, for example— taken in Galway, and which sell in Gal-wax for 7s. the thousand, or twelve a 1000 penny, sell in Dublin for from 3l. 4l. the thousand, or from three farthings to one penny a piece. But if the railway from Galway to Dublin were open, the fish caught in Galway Bay could be brought to Manchester in six hours less time than it now takes to convey them to Dublin; and could be carried to London in the same time that is now occupied in carrying them to Dublin, and at one-third of the cost. There is another most important consideration. The Arigna iron mines in the county of Sligo, which many centuries was said to have supplied the only iron used in England, have fallen into decay, and there is no reason but the enormous cost of conveyance why these mines should not be worked up again. Captain Washington, one of the Commissioners, reports with regard to this very mine—I measured several of the beds of iron. The beds, to more than two feet thick in some places, lie bare in the ravine, and in the bed of the Arigna River. We can get any quantity at the shortest notice. There is enough to last two furnaces for 250 years. In quantity there is no doubt but that the iron stone of this district is practically inexhaustible. The iron stone of Kilkenny is very little inferior to that of Arigna; but the ore of Lough Allen is nearly equal to the black iron stone of Glasgow.Now, I do not know how we can encourage railroads or the prosperity of Ireland generally better than by opening a line of railroad up to these mines; and I beg leave to ask what single recommendation can the noble Lord show in favour of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company that does not apply equally to the Galway railway? A railway to Galway would shorten the distance to the United States and to our own colonies in North America by six or eight hours, as compared with a railway either to Cork or to Valentia Harbour; and in regard to shortening the journey to America, it is clear that the Midland Great Western has claims upon the Legislature at least equal to those of the Great Southern and Western. I will now turn to the claims of the Waterford and Limerick Railway. The Waterford and Limerick Railway Company had originally a capital of 750,000l.; but they have now a Bill pending, which has already passed this House, proposing amendments which would empower them to make deviations in the line that would enable them to reduce the amount of the undertaking by 70,000l. at the least, thus making a reduction in the entire capital from 750,000l. to 680,000l. Of this sum they have 1001 already expended 337,000l., and they have six-and-twenty miles of railway that will be open by the 1st of August next, at the latest. But of these six-and-twenty miles of railway, twenty-one miles are to be run over by the Great Southern and Western Company; and before the latter can repay the Government the interest on the money to be advanced to them, they must meet the prior claim of the Limerick and Water-ford Company for half the interest on all the monies expended by the Waterford and Kilkenny Railway Company on these twenty-one miles of their line. These twenty-one miles will cost at least 210,000l., and therefore the Waterford and Limerick Company have a claim on the revenues of the Great Southern and Western Company, prior to any claim by the Government, to the amount of 5,000l. a year, which 5,000l. the Waterford and Limerick Company have a fair right to set down as security to the Government. But besides this, the Great Southern and Western Company have already borrowed 280,000l., the interest on which will be also a prior claim to that of the Government. But assuming that the Waterford and Limerick get but 300l. a week on their six-and-twenty-miles, as soon as those six-and-twenty miles are accomplished, they will have a gross revenue of at least 13,000l. a year; and deducting from that the cost of working the line, which will be 40 per cent, there will be left a clear income of 8,000l. or 9,000l., which has to be added to the 5,000l. for which they have a claim, prior to that of the Government; on the Great Southern and Western. [An Hon. MEMBER: No.] Yes, I repeat, a claim prior to that of the Government; and I apprehend that the claim of the Waterford and Limerick being a prior one, it will, consequently, have from 13,000l. to 14,000l. clear interest to offer you as security for the 175,000l. its proprietors ask for, and to which they are equally entitled with the Great Southern and Western to its half million sterling. It will have thus 13,000l. or 14,000l. a year to meet the interest of 175,000l., which, at 5 per cent, would not quite amount to 9,000l.; so that I think I have a fair right to maintain that the Waterford and Limerick Railway Company in all things is equally entitled to the assistance of Government with the Great Southern and Western. If that be so, I do not know on what grounds they are to be refused. But the noble Lord said, when they were put in an equal position, he would 1002 be ready to consider their claims; and I trust after what he has heard to-day, he will do equal justice to these two lines, and come forward before the Session closes and fulfil this engagement, and take two more steps in the right direction for the advancement of Irish interests and Irish railways. I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for Gal-way, the Irish Solicitor General, will also put in his good word for the Midland and Western.
I have heard with regret the hon. Member for Bath state that there is the strongest reason to apprehend there will be another failure of the potato crop. I trust the hon. Member will be mistaken. I received a few days ago intelligence from Ireland, from the editor of the Irish Farmer's Gazette, and I am informed by him that the potato crop never showed a fairer prospect of a good yield. I am not one of those who apprehend a recurrence of the blight of last year. The potato is a crop of the most delicate and hazardous description, and always has been subject to many calamities. The hot blast which passed over Ireland and England in the month of August last, which in the course of forty-eight hours burnt up the crop of potatoes and deprived the root of its nourishment, bore no resemblance to the rot of the year before. The rot of 1845 did not come in with a hot blast; for it will be remembered that the year 1845 was of a remarkably sunless character, and remarkable for wet and cold. The potato rot of 1845 was accompanied, in all respects, by circumstances and characteristics the very opposite from the destruction of last season. The rot of that year came not early in August, but in October; it came upon a crop which preserved its greenness to the latest period; it came partially only upon a crop which was unprecedented not only in the numbers but the largeness of the bulbs, and bore no more resemblance to the blast of last year than the wireworm in wheat does to the blight—or the cause of the famine in 1800 to that of 1799, one crop being drowned, and the other burnt up with excessive drought. We hear these accounts to-night from Ireland of a renewal of the potato disease; but recollecting that it is written that "while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest shall not cease," I, for one, feel no apprehension of the habitual or frequent return of this extraordinary potato calamity. I cannot forget that in 1799 and 1800, at a time when there was a royal proclamation call- 1003 ing on the heads of families not to permit their households to consume more than four pounds of bread per head per week, a Committee of this House, after sitting for two consecutive years in consideration of the best means of averting the evils of a similar calamity to that under which the country had then been suffering, reported that the only plan they could suggest was that a sum of 30,000l. a year should be voted by Parliament to be annually given in rewards to those agriculturists who produced the greatest quantity of potatoes! But when it is alleged that the effect of this lending money to Irish railways is to destroy the finances of this country, and to convert floating capital into fixed capital, and by thus locking it up make it a permanent pressure upon England, I think, far from locking up capital, it can be easily shown that the result of these outlays on railways is to set capital at liberty. It is only necessary to calculate the value of the capital engaged in trade which was formerly held in suspense by the slowness of communication, and compare it with the economy effected in these days, through the instrumentality and speed of railways in the conveyance of goods. A greater fallacy never existed than the supposition that money laid out in railways is so much fixed capital locked up and lost to the trade of the country. We have 96,000,000l. already expended in railways. I believe the gross returns of profit amount to 8,000,000l. a year. Of this, 5,000,000l. is derived from passenger traffic, and 3,000,000l. from goods traffic. But we have only to look at the ancient charges to find that, over and above the time saved, the cost of passenger travelling has been reduced at least to one-third, while the carriage of goods, as compared with canal conveyance, has been reduced to one-half. Thus the goods and passengers' traffic to which I have referred as having been carried by railroad at the former rates of land and water carriage, would have come to 21,000,000l. instead of 8,000,000l. in the last year; and the public gains the difference between those two sums. That proposition no man, I think, can deny; and as regards the public and the money market, instead of floating capital to the amount of 96,000,000l. sterling converted into locked-up capital, no less than 13,000,000l. a year is economized, which, reckoning it at 5 per cent, represents 260,000,000l. sterling. So that, far from losing, the public are absolute gamers of 260,000,000l. in the economy 1004 of the inland traffic and carrying trade of the country.
In illustration of this argument I will take leave to bring before the House a curious return made by one of the assistant poor-law commissioners, which will display in a striking manner what a country gains by railways. Mr. Robert Weale, during the twelve years in which he was a poor-law commissioner, travelled 99,607 miles in the service of the country. Sixty-nine thousand miles were travelled by the old conveyance, and 30,000 miles by railway. By the old mode of travelling, the cost of travelling was 1s. 6¾d.. per mile, and by rail it was only 3¼d.; so that virtually the country saved by rail five-sixths of the costs of travelling. But the saving of time is still more remarkable. If the whole distance had been performed by railway, it would have occupied one year thirty weeks and six days; if the whole had been performed at the same rate as the 69,000 miles by the old modes of conveyance, it would have occupied four years thirty-nine weeks and one day. The result is, that three years and nine weeks of Mr. Weale's life would have been saved; while the advantage to the public would be that the whole cost, supposing it to have been done by rail, would only have been 1,344l., instead of 7,735l. So that this active poor-law commissioner, in the public service, would save three years and a half of his life, and the country would save 5,390l. in travelling expenses alone. I can also show, if the House will permit me—by the saving in the goods traffic and in time, the great advantage derived by the cotton trade of Manchester on one single line, that of Manchester and Hull. Up to the year 1839, the charge by canal for manufactured cottons was 45s. per ton; by rail it is only 24s., and the time saved in the transit is a fortnight. In addition to the time saved to the trade of Manchester, and fourteen days extra open market to all the north of Europe—for it must be recollected that the seas and rivers of Northern Europe are closed to commerce by frost during the winter—the actual saving in cost of transit amounts to 250,000l. per annum, which at 5 per cent represents 5,000,000l. of capital.
I will show now how this great metropolis is a gainer by railways. It has been proved, by the returns of the Board of Trade, that 3,000,000 tons of coal are annually consumed in the metropolis; a saving consequently of 1s. per ton would 1005 amount to a saving of 150,000l. a year to this metropolis. Besides this, the competition of inland coal cannot fail to reduce the price of seaborne coal, and bring down that great monopoly. It also brings down the cost of transit by canal. On the Grand Junction Canal the price of goods was formerly 16s.. per ton, and it is now only 2s..; and coals, once 9s.. 1d.. per ton, are now only 2s..: so that, in goods, the cost of carriage by canal is reduced seven-eighths, and coals more than three-fourths. The reduction of the charge for coal in Leicester by canal reduced the price to the consumer 7s.. per ton. If the result of all the railways conveying to this vast city shall he to reduce the price only 3s.. 6d.. per ton, London, consuming 3,000,000 tons of coal annually, will effect a saving of more than half a million sterling every year in the article of coal alone. I therefore think, as regards the metropolis, I have satisfactorily proved that money said to be locked up in railways is not a loss such as some people suppose to the industry and general resources of the empire. In the town of Leicester alone the competition of the Swanwick collieries saves the inhabitants 60,000l. a year in the price of coal. Having thus shown how little truth there is in these general allegations, I should like the people of England—and here I take my stand—to compare the expenditure of this 620,000l. asked for railways, with that of the millions which have been expended in useless works, in the Soyer soup kitchens, and other similar projects in Ireland; and if the result be not on the one side—on that of the money lent to these railway companies that there is no loss, while a great loss is shown on the other side—I will forfeit my seat in Parliament as the consequence, so satisfied am I that such will be the result. And it has, in my opinion, this further great advantage, that the money so lent to railways, requires no staff of paid officers. Instead, as appeared by the returns laid on the Table of the amount of the staff employed six weeks ago, of having 15,978 persons employed, consisting of 10 inspecting officers, 74 engineers, 558 assistant engineers, 9,817 overseers, 4,085 check clerks, 429 office clerks, 174 head quarter clerks, one valuator, 181 assistant valuators, 50 inspectors of drainage, 131 sub-inspectors of drainage, 37 inspectors of account, and 521 pay clerks—instead of all these, costing the country at the rate of 410,000l. per annum, all of them too, by the way, of the class of elec- 1006 tors, and constituting a most dangerous description of patronage, the proposition now made by the Government will give no patronage and no employment for any such overgrown staff of paid officers. In that respect, although I doubt very much if the plan on this account be not less agreeable to the Government, the effect of employing the people in the way I originally proposed by the advance of 16,000,000l. of the public money for the construction of Irish railways, would be that no staff of 16,000 paid officers would be needed, but the whole plan might be worked by 27 or 28 persons for about 10,000l. per annum, instead of 410,000l., while the country will gain eventually nothing by the plan of employing the people on public works, having to mourn the waste of ten millions without any return, and without any good or practical result. We are told that railways are unproductive in the way of food; but if they carry manure cheap, and save money in the carrying of food, they surely conduce as much to the cheap produce of food as employment purely agricultural itself. In the report of Mr. Walker, there is a remarkable observation on the great good that the Great Southern and Western Railway will do in supplying the people of those districts of Ireland with cheap fuel and coal, where they now use no other fuel but dried cow dung. If that cow dung were laid on the land instead of being burnt, coal taking its place, surely that would add to the productiveness of the land, as well as to the comfort of the people of Ireland. It was said, in answer to the late Mr. O'Connell, by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, when asked by Mr. O'Connell for Government advances for Irish railways, "Drive agitation from your shores, and capital will soon flow in!" We have tried waiting too long already, and without success. I say, "Pour capital into Ireland; give Irish labour a fair stage and no favour; give to the Irish peasantry the opportunity of employing themselves in honest, laborious, and profitable works, and then I tell you that capital, bringing industry, employment, wealth, and contentment in its train, will effectually drive agitation from the shores of Ireland.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he should detain the House but a very short time. Much of what they had heard from the noble Lord and the hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded him, however inter- 1007 esting it might be at another time, was not immediately applicable to the question before the House. He had nothing to urge against the plans of the noble Lord, except that they were not now under consideration; and he had still less desire to say anything against his noble Friend's general eulogy on railways. If it were not that they had the hon. and gallant Member for Lincolnshire (Colonel Sib-thorp) present, he would be inclined to apply the query of the ancient orator to this part of the noble Lord's speech, that is to say, Quis vituperavit? The proposition before the House was one which had been attempted to be swollen into undue magnitude. It involved no new principle. It was simply a question whether the Government should have increased means of encouraging useful works in Ireland which had been given them in former years. It was a question whether, under the present circumstances of Ireland, the Government was justified in asking, and that House in voting, the increased means for giving employment on railways in that country. That was the real question before the House; and he thought neither the noble Lord nor the hon. and learned Member for Bath had dealt with it as it ought to be treated—namely, as a part of a general scheme. [Lord G. BENTINCK: In that light I referred to it.] The noble Lord certainly did speak of it as part of a general railway scheme; but what he meant was, that neither the noble Lord nor the hon. and learned Gentleman treated it in the light in which it ought to be viewed, as part of a general scheme for the improvement of Ireland. The House should bear in mind what the state of things was with which the Government had to deal in Ireland. They should recollect how great was the distress and how vast the misery which they had to provide for; and he had no hesitation in saying that no one measure whatever would have been enough of itself to cope with the existing calamity. The most pressing and immediate duty of the Government was to provide against the destitution that pressed upon hundreds of thousands of their fellow-subjects, and to prevent them from perishing. He would say, as he said before, that any scheme for railways, however extensive, was not enough for coping with the difficulty which they had before them. However much railways might be encouraged—however much good might be done by them indirectly—in giving employment to certain classes of the 1008 people, yet the means of meeting the pressing difficulty which it was the duty of Government to encounter—namely, to save millions from starvation and famine, was the first and greatest question. This duty on the part of the Government was a fatal objection to the plan of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn; and it answered all his criticisms upon useless public works, and on the inutility of distributing rations upon a great scale in Ireland. He certainly could show no money return for that great and extensive distribution; the only return he could present was the fact of millions of our fellow-creatures having been saved from perishing by the most miserable and degrading of all deaths.. This, too, was his answer to the accusations against the Government of having squandered the public money. The public money could not have been better spent than upon such an object. The abstract principles of political economy were totally out of place in connexion with this subject; and he held that it was to degrade that science to apply it to questions like this, which lay entirely beyond its province. He held in his hand at that moment a report which would be laid on the Table of the House to-morrow, the last report of the Relief Commissioners, from which he found that 2,600,000 human beings in Ireland were being supported by daily rations. He admitted this was an enormous distribution, not likely to be effected without great abuse; but it had staid the progress of famine, and that which was the certain and the frightful concomitant of famine—pestilence. And it was his firm belief that if these means had not been taken, and rendered co-extensive with the calamity, both England and Scotland would have been involved in similar distress to that of Ireland, and wide-spread pestilence would have followed quickly upon the heels of a dreadful and devastating famine. It was therefore an entire misstatement of the whole difficulty to tell the House that the works which the Government had undertaken were unproductive, and that they gave no return. The return, as he had just said, was in the number of human lives saved. For such a purpose as that, he could not believe the people of this country would grudge the money; at all events, whatever blame was thrown upon the Government, was as nothing to the censure with which they would have been visited by an indignant people if they had made no attempt to mitigate or alleviate the frightful misfortune that had hap- 1009 pened to Ireland. The encouragement of public works of a reproductive nature was, in his opinion, a principle which the House ought to acknowledge as calculated to develop the resources of the country. But what the Government had to do in this case was, to make provision against immediate destitution and disease; to see by what means the resources of Ireland could be so assisted as to bear the pressure necessarily made upon them; and at the same time considering, for the sake of Ireland herself, the finances of this country. It was not enough to put forward a great and magnificent scheme without considering the pecuniary position of the country. No censure, therefore, could be passed upon the Government for what they had done. While on this subject, he must say the noble Lord had entirely misunderstood his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), when he seemed to suppose that the Government had given a pledge to accede to advances of money being made to other railways without any consideration of similarity in circumstances. He did not understand his noble Friend to give any such pledge. True, his noble Friend had said, this was properly a part of the system of general measures for the permanent benefit of Ireland, which he hoped would receive the attention of the House in a subsequent Session; but any future advances to railways would only be made to railways in similar circumstances. The noble Lord intimated he had no sympathy for a Government which preferred useless and unproductive works to the encouragement of railways; because, he said, by the promotion of useless works they obtained large patronage, which was very useful in conciliating electors, whereas by encouraging railway undertakings they derived no such advantage. It was his fate to receive by every post very strong complaints from Ireland, that the patronage, so far from being directed to conciliate the support of the political party with which he was connected, was not in their hands. The fact was, the gentry of the country were very much consulted in the distribution of whatever patronage there might be; and he had heard it was very often used to the prejudice of the political party with which Her Majesty's present Ministers were connected. He knew not how that might be; but the patronage had been placed altogether in the hands of the officers of the Board of Works, the Commissioners of which were carefully selected, 1010 not from any party or political motives whatever. Everybody, indeed, who knew those distinguished individuals would at once perceive they had not been selected on account of political friendship, but because they were thought best fitted for the office, and the most likely to conciliate public confidence; and because, in the exercise of patronage, as well as in the discharge of every other function, they would look only to the public good. Never had a Government cleaner hands to meet any accusation of this nature than the present. Then the noble Lord asked why these particular railways had been selected? They were selected upon the recommendation of the Exchequer Loan Commissioners. The Exchequer Loan Commissioners were asked this question: "Suppose you had to apply a larger sum of money than is now at your disposal upon some railways in Ireland, are there any which have complied with the first condition of having paid up 50 per cent of their capital, to which you would be ready to make advances?" The three railways in question were returned by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners as having met the required conditions, and to which, if they had the money, they would make advances. This was the mode of selection; and there had been no desire to favour any particular railway on the part of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who reminded him that these were the only lines that had made application for advances. He did not deny the importance of the lines to which the noble Lord had adverted. He admitted that a line across Ireland to Galway would be of great national advantage, and he should be glad to see one constructed; but, at the same time, it was also of great consequence to construct a line between Dublin and Cork. He hoped the House would not retrace the decision to which they had come on a former occasion. He did not pretend to say that this measure, by itself, would be adequate to relieve the destitution of Ireland; but it would be a useful auxiliary in that respect. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that we owed nothing to Ireland except what he called good government. The hon. and learned Gentleman applied this observation to the argument of the noble Lord the Member for London, who said truly, that the evils of Ireland were attributable to long years of misgovernment. Mr. Burke said, in his time, it had been the settled 1011 policy of this country for ages to discourage the agriculture, manufactures, and trade of Ireland; and he feared there was too much foundation for the assertion. While, therefore, he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath, that we owed good government to Ireland, he rejoiced at the steps taken towards a more equal and just system. He hoped those steps would be rigorously pursued in future Sessions of Parliament. But he could not admit, when he found Ireland impoverished, staggering under the load of an evil such as never fell upon any other country in the world, by the total failure of the potato crop last season, that rich and powerful England did not owe it to herself to go to the assistance of Ireland. She had done so liberally and wisely. She had expended the vast sum of eight millions this year to mitigate—for she was only able to mitigate—the pressure of the calamity. England had acted wisely, as well as generously and justly, in so doing; but he could not admit the justice of the hon. and learned Gentleman in pointing out, invidiously, to the taxpayers of England, that to mitigate the distress of Ireland was an unnecessary burden upon them. They had shown their desire to relieve Irish distress by their large, voluntary, and spontaneous contributions. The advance proposed by the Government to these railways, he believed, would be spent wisely and judiciously; and he hoped the House would confirm, by a large majority, the decision they had already come to upon this subject.
§ MR. LEFROY
regretted that Her Majesty's Government had not deemed it expedient to make a larger grant for railway undertakings in Ireland than that now proposed. He tendered to them, however, his thanks, as an Irish representative, for the proposition they had made, seeing that it was one which had a useful direction. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell), though he had by no means given the pledge referred to by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere), had certainly encouraged the expectation that if, in future Sessions, other loans to railways should appear useful or profitable to the country, they might look for the assistance of the Government. He could bear testimony to the importance of railways to Ireland; and there was not one which promised more advantages than that referred to by the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck). The speech of the hon. and learned Mem- 1012 ber for Bath was not a fair one, merely declaiming, as he did, upon the grievance of the people of England being called upon to pay taxes to lend to railway companies. The statement of the noble Lord that five per cent interest would be required showed that there was no cause for supposing the advances would not be faithfully and honourably repaid. Perfect security was given for the repayment of the loan; and he preferred capital being invested in these undertakings, rather than in the unprofitable works which hitherto had necessarily been carried on by the Government. The time, however, was now come for those useless and unprofitable works to be discontinued; if they were discontinued safely and wisely, he should not be sorry for it; but, being discontinued, means must be found for engaging the people in profitable and advantageous pursuits. Something had been said concerning the prospects of the potato crops. He believed it would be utterly impossible to form any correct opinion on the subject for at least one or two months. If they failed, it would be absolutely necessary for the Government to encourage other means of subsistence, by promoting employments of a useful and reproductive character; if, on the other hand, they succeeded, a useful lesson would have been taught to the gentry, the farmers, and the poor of Ireland, to adopt a better system of agriculture, and to cultivate a superior description of food. The people of Ireland must not in future be left dependent upon one sort of food, and that of a precarious character; they must be led to attend to the improvement of the soil, rather than to the agitation of what were called their civil rights. He trusted Her Majesty's Government, in making the proposed grant, small as it was, might be considered as disposed to apply their powers to the development of those resources which would produce a beneficial return to Ireland; that they would encourage the people to support the laws; and discountenance that turbulence to which the noble Lord had referred as one of the chief causes of the country's ruin. He gave his support to this Bill with great pleasure; and he hoped that the grant, small as it was, and the other measures to which it would necessarily lead, would be beneficial to Ireland, making her prosperous among the nations, and enabling her to profit from the vastness of her natural resources.
§ MR. SHEIL
I am not, I am free to 1013 acknowledge, wholly unconcerned in the completion of the Great Southern and Western Railway (one of the railways specified in this Bill), and which passes in immediate contiguity with property with which I am connected in the county of Tipperary; hut I hope that I shall be believed when I say, that I am far loss influenced by any personal consideration, than by my thorough conviction that great benefit will arise from the measure in which the Government have, in my opinion, wisely and rightfully persevered. It is scarcely necessary to insist upon the advantage which will arise from a measure by which Waterford and Kilkenny, and Cork, Dublin, and Drogheda, and thus Belfast, will be brought into contact. My hon. Friend the Member for Bath, indeed, admitted the utility of these roads, and said that to expatiate in their favour was to dilate on a mere truism—that a railway in New Zealand would be of service. But he observed, that you ought to be just to England before you were liberal to Ireland, and stated that this measure was calculated to gratify the rapacity of men in Ireland, by whom it was promoted. I admit that justice to England ought to be reconciled with liberality to Ireland, and that is the case in this instance. English money is to be lent, and not given. It will assuredly be repaid, for it is to be advanced upon the security of lines which are in process of construction, and which have some better existence than in the lucrative enthusiasm of an imaginative engineer. But, Sir, I think that these perpetual contrasts between the interests of England and of Ireland, as if they were conflicting, and made by Englishmen too, ought to he deprecated. The apologue of Menenius Agrippa ought to be carried out. Not only should not the members conspire against the belly, but they ought not to quarrel among themselves. The interests of the two countries in this question may be proved to be identical. Let the men who tell us that English commerce and English industry ought not to be sacrificed to the acquisition of a spurious Irish popularity, remember this—that to the products of English manufacture Ireland offers the best, because it is a vast, a near, and a safe market. Mr. Porter, in his valuable work, chapter 7, headed "Trade between Great Britain and Ireland," states that the value of exports from England to Ireland, in 1801, was 3,270,350l.; in 1821, it was, 5,338,898l.; and in 1825, it 1014 was 7,048,936l. He adds, that there is no return of exports to Ireland from England since 1825; but that there is a return of the number of ships which cleared outwards from England to Ireland; and that—"if we compare the amount of the tonnage employed in 1801 with that of 1844, we shall find that it hears the proportion of 100 to 305, showing an increase of 205 per cent.It is, I think, no exaggeration to say, that England now annually exports to Ireland 10,000,000l. of her manufactures. Most assuredly, then, England is a great gainer in her transactions with Ireland; and it is manifest that every measure which contributes to the development of the resources of Ireland—to the fertilization of her soil—to the reclamation of the morass and of the mountain—to the social amelioration of the people—to the establishment of a higher standard of comfort—in one word, to the increased consumption of British produce—must be essentially ancillary to the prosperity of England. I know that we have received large donations from England. But the calamity of Ireland was not a provincial one; and, after all, you should recollect that a war for six months would be dearer than a famine for three years; yet to-morrow, if it were required for the honour of England, you would rush into encounter with your proudest and most chivalrous antagonist. But if you would be reconciled to the cost of war by a sense of English honour, in the cost of money, you should be taught by the noblest of all your national characteristics, your humanity, to acquiesce. But, although there are men in this House, whose national kindness has been overcome by their austere political economy, who speak of us as if we were to blame because the destroying angel has blighted an entire island in a night, yet we feel persuaded that the great mass of the population of this country feel a deep sympathy in the calamities which we have endured. The minds of men of all parties have met in regard to Ireland in a deep confluence, where the sentiment of England is faithfully represented. Although the people of Ireland have condemned many of the measures which have been adopted for their relief, they appreciate the munificent commiseration by which the great English community are actuated in their regard. I am convinced that Irish gratitude will be fully commensurate with English generosity; and if it shall be so—if without reference to any political question, there 1015 shall arise a sentiment of international kindness, then I, for one, shall think, that from calamity, great as it is, good, great and lasting, with the blessing of Providence, will be at last educed. But, Sir, the fiscal is not the only view in which this measure ought to be considered. I shall be glad if, when the Parliament is approaching to its close, it shall make a testamentary manifestation of good will to the people of Ireland, indicative of the policy by which the government of the noble individual should be sustained, who has had the courage to undertake the administration of Ireland. That able and sagacious statesman will have great difficulties to encounter—difficulties which have been enhanced by the death of the celebrated man to whom the noble Lord opposite alluded in the course of these discussions—the man to whom his country owes incalculable obligations, and to whom hereafter, when the prejudices and the passions, the antipathies and the predilections of the hour shall have passed away, in the impartial adjudication of those who shall come after us, the attributes of greatness, political and intellectual, will be beyond doubt assigned. I trust that the time will never arrive when English statesmen will have cause to lament that the voice by which millions of men were at once excited and controlled is heard no more, and that the accents on which a nation hung in rapture, and a senate in admiration, are hushed in the grave for ever. Would that he had been spared to his country—would that he had lived to reach the seat of that ancient and perpetual faith, of which he was a firm and honourable believer, and of which he was the proud and chivalrous champion; that he had knelt down at the altar of the greatest temple which was ever raised by the hands of man, worthy of the purposes, the high and holy ones, to which it was devoted; and that through the marble halls of the Vatican, the venerable man, although with feeble and tottering steps, had found his way through the array of sacerdotal pomp, to receive the sanctifying salutation of the great pontifical reformer who has ascended the chair of St. Peter, amidst the acclamations of the world!—and would that after the performance of his pilgrimage the illustrious Irishman could have returned to his country, in order that he might renew his aspirations here to imprize the principles on which he acted all his life, and of the violation of which he was never rightfully accused! You will, I 1016 am sure, forgive me, if I, who have so seldom any justification for taking any part in the discussions of this House, have departed from the question, in order that I might offer the tribute of my mournful but unavailing commemoration to the man whose departure from the scene in which he performed a part so conspicuous as to attract the attention of mankind, is a disaster which it will require wisdom and fortitude, and that conciliating policy upon which this measure is founded, to countervail.
§ MR. W. R. COLLETT
thanked the noble Lord at the head of the Government for having given an intimation—if not a distinct pledge—that other railways similarly circumstanced with those now about to obtain the assistance of the State, should hereafter enjoy the same advantage. He trusted that next Session the Midland and Great Western would obtain a grant of money. He would not now press the Government, the members of which had, in the course of a few months, completely changed their opinions on this subject. It was gratifying to him to find that the estimate he made upon a former occasion of the number of persons to whom the construction of railways in Ireland would give employment, was fully borne out by the statements on the part of the Government. It had been his misfortune to be the object of the hon. Member for Bath's attack that evening. Why the hon. and learned Member should have singled him out as an object of hostility he could not imagine, unless it was because the hon. and learned Member must talk of everybody and everything. He was not influenced by mercenary motives in endeavouring to promote Irish railroads; for, with the exception of his qualification as a director of the Great Southern and Western, he did not hold a share in any railway which was to benefit by the advance of public money. In the course which he was pursuing, he was actuated solely by charitable motives; and he wished the hon. and learned Member for Bath could say as much for himself. He was one of the first who came forward to encourage the formation of Irish railroads ten years ago, and he had never swerved from that object. Although persons connected with railways might be attacked by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, a high authority had recently done justice to their motives. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had declared that railway directors were not swayed merely 1017 by personal motives, but were actuated by an honourable desire to promote the good of the country; and he expressed his disapprobation of Government interference with them. In conclusion, he congratulated the friends of Ireland upon having at last got some money from the Government which would carry them through the autumn, and furnish employment for workmen.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
called attention to the fact that by the 61st section of the Great Southern and Western Company Act it was provided that any security given to the Exchequer Loan Commissioners should have a priority above all others. He did not think it necessary to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath through the various arguments he had used in opposition to the measure, as he considered it absurd to argue on the ground of political economy when already the Government had made very large advances to Ireland. The speech of the hon. Member for Bath was a very curious one, though it lacked the personalities in which he usually indulged. But whatever the hon. Gentleman had avoided in the personal part, he had made up for in the political. The hon. Gentleman had, for example, alluded to the subject of the Irish Church; but he (Mr. O'Connell) protested against the system of dragging a question of such importance into the tail of a debate. The learned Member had also come out in the character of a prophet on the subject of agriculture, for he had doomed the potato crop of the present year to failure. As this was the first time that the hon. Gentleman had declared himself a farmer, he did not place much reliance on his prediction. But he went further, and extended his prediction to all crops. He (Mr. O'Connell) was surprised at the length to which predictions on this subject had gone; but, after all, the question was one which should not be brought into a discussion of this sort. The question for consideration was, whether the House would grant a loan of 620,000l., upon good security. He was sure, after what had passed, the Legislature would cheerfully sanction the proposal, which should have his warmest support.
§ MR. M. GORE
expressed his great satisfaction at some of the statements made by the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He believed that the evils of Ireland were in a great degree to be traced to the political occurrences which took place there two or three centuries ago. 1018 They had in the present state of Ireland an illustration of the social and political evils to which a country might be subjected. It was said it was not the duty of Government to interfere with the social concerns of a people; but it was his opinion that the political and social concerns of a people could not be separated. When the noble Lord the Member for Lynn brought forward his proposition, he had given it his cordial support, because he believed it was the most comprehensive proposition that had ever been submitted to Parliament on such a subject. He had never given any vote with greater pleasure; but since that measure had been rejected, he felt that he could not consistently oppose that now under consideration, as the principle of both was similar. He regretted, however, that the loan was of so limited a character, as he knew there were many other Irish railways which required encouragement. He was happy to perceive in the measure now before the House the commencement of a more liberal policy towards Ireland; and he hailed with unalloyed satisfaction any proposition that held forth the promise of an auspicious dawn of prosperity. The hon. Gentleman read extracts from Sir Robert Kane's work upon the industrial resources of Ireland, with the view of showing that the promotion of railways in that country would tend more to develop her resources and increase her commerce than any other application of capital for such purpose; also extracts from the report of the engineers of the contemplated line from Dublin to Galway, which spoke in the highest terms of the national advantages to be derived from the formation of a railway intended to connect those important places. The hon. Gentleman, in conclusion, declared his intention to support the measure.
§ MR. TRELAWNY
opposed the Bill. He adhered to the principles of political economy, so far as he understood them, and upon those principles was adverse to the Government scheme. He was sorry to see the Secretary for Ireland repudiate them. He said they were quite out of place in a question of this sort; but he did not tell the House why. It was easy to decry that unfortunate science; but he thought those who decried it most, were those who least understood it. He thought the true remedy for Ireland was an income tax; and as Ireland was to be for the Irish, let them have a full measure of taxation. 1019 It would make the landlords alive to the performance of their duties. A great deal had been said about the surplus population of Ireland; but for his part he did not think there was a sufficient population if the country was properly managed. It was said that capital was necessary for the advancement of Ireland; but there must be security for life and property there before capital would flow in; and to ensure that, he would, if it were necessary, place a sentry at the corner of every field.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said: I have observed the disinclination of the House to protract this discussion; it is by no means an unnatural one, and so far from wondering at it, I sympathize with it. I think, therefore, I shall preserve its attention by promising not to read a single extract, and to occupy its attention but a very short time. And before I proceed to comment on the subject more immediately under consideration, I cannot help making one remark in passing on the speech of the right hon. Member for Dungarvon (Mr. Sheil); I had not the good fortune to hear the whole of that speech; and it is with great deference I criticise anything that falls from the right hon. Gentleman; but I heard two passages of it, one of which I consider most apposite, the other somewhat out of place. I will first refer to the one I think applicable. I must say it was my misfortune, frequently and generally, to differ in opinion from the late Mr. O'Connell; yet it would appear to me to have been altogether unjustifiable in a Roman Catholic Member of this House, who had for so many years taken an active part with Mr. O'Connell in the struggle for the liberty of his fellow-citizens of the same religion, if he had omitted a convenient opportunity of paying a just tribute of gratitude from the Irish Roman Catholics to that distinguished person, whose talents, however hon. Members may have differed from certain portions of his public conduct, no Member of this House who has had the advantage of sitting with him in this and former Parliaments, can have failed to admire. I think it is not unseemly in reference to this House itself, that a passing tribute to those distinguished talents should be paid by some one; and by no one could it be better or more appropriately paid than by the right hon. Gentleman. I will now pass on and venture to comment on the passage I think inapplicable and superfluous. I heard the right hon. Gentleman say, he hoped this Parliament would, before it ex- 1020 pired, give some practical proof of its sympathy with the misfortunes and sorrows of Ireland. Sir, I cannot think that in this Session, at least, any such proof is necessary. With almost prodigal liberality we have, up to the present time, given our assent to every proposition made by Her Majesty's Government. We have borrowed—the ordinary means of this wealthy country not being sufficient—a sum of 8,000,000l., the greater part of which has been applied to meet the misfortune and distress of that country; and I think I am right in saying that this is the first proposition intended to alleviate the wants of Ireland, to which any opposition has been offered from any quarter. This observation brings me to the subject-matter under debate; and I must say, that having listened attentively to the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, I am somewhat at a loss to discover upon what precise principles this proposition is made to the House at this moment. I can well understand the view taken by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck), and those who act with him, that this proposition of an advance of money in aid of Irish railroads is justifiable on account of the special circumstances of Ireland, as a measure calculated to relieve that distress. But, if I mistake not, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) disclaims that ground: the proposition is then to be treated on the abstract question of its general policy, without reference to the particular circumstances of Ireland. I am not surprised it should be so treated by Her Majesty's Government, when I remember—and I see the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer is taking a note of what I say—that on the former occasion, when the Government resisted the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, I was led to coincide in that opposition by the triumphant arguments of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who pointed out how inapposite and inapplicable the proposal would be as a measure of relief to Irish distress. We are, then, driven to consider it on the ground on which it is now placed by the noble Lord, as a measure of general policy with reference to the general condition of Ireland, not as a measure of relief with regard to the peculiar circumstances of that country. I am not one of those who are disposed to deny, under all circumstances and at all times, assistance from the public purse, under proper limitations and proper safeguards, to railroad companies, 1021 as a practical measure of sound Irish policy. The right hon. Gentleman who was at the head of the Government under which I lately served, and the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Goulburn), did, in 1846, favourably entertain a proposition, if I mistake not, from one of those companies for an advance of public money. But what were the circumstances—what were the limitations under which it was considered? The House is aware that for public works in different parts of the United Kingdom, without distinction between England, Scotland, or Ireland, an annual sum of 360,000l. is available; it is the interest of a large sum in Exchequer bills, placed in the hands of the Exchequer Loan Commissioners; that sum, without any strain on the ordinary resources of the country, is available at the discretion of the Government, and with the concurrence of the Exchequer Loan Commissioners, for forwarding public works throughout the United Kingdom. In 1846, one of these railway companies applied to Her Majesty's Government for assistance out of the funds available in the ordinary routine of such advances. The right hon. Gentleman below me can correct me if I am wrong; but I believe the answer of the Government, even then, in the flourishing state of the finances, was, that it could not recommend a loan unless in conformity with the fixed rules that regulated such advances—that it could not exceed the sum of 360,000l..—but that if the railroad company could bring itself within the prescribed regulations, and its demand within the limit of 360,000l., there was no unwillingness on the part of the Government to consider the application with favour. Now, having said I am not on principle opposed to such limited advances, I am naturally brought to consider the peculiar circumstances under which a loan is asked at the present moment. We are now in very different circumstances from those of 1846; I am ready to admit that on the whole the financial prospects of the country are somewhat better than they were when this subject was last under discussion; still, I think our circumstances at the present moment require peculiar caution in the management of the finances. It is true, the exchanges are not so unfavourable as they were two or three months ago; on the contrary, the turn is somewhat in our favour; at the former period, bullion was flowing out of the country to a very large amount by 1022 every packet that sailed for America; now, the quantity of bullion in the Bank is in a slight degree increasing. But, on the other hand, I believe the importation of corn within the last month has been greater than at any former period of the commercial history of this country. That large importation must be met by payment either in specie or by export of our manufactures. Now, observe, the great staple of our export trade is cotton goods; and, coincident with the extraordinary difficulty of the present moment, from the high price of provisions, there is the most unfortunate circumstance of an extraordinary high price of the raw material of the staple article of our manufacture—namely, cotton. Therefore, it is to be anticipated we shall have great difficulty in paying for our food by extending the export of our manufactures; and it is I think, to be apprehended, that an export of specie to a considerable extent must even yet take place. Then it is true the rate of discount has somewhat fallen; but still it is unusally high—Considerably higher than the rate of interest which Her Majesty's Government propose to take for this advance to Irish railways. The hon. Member for Coventry (Mr. Williams) has been charged by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) with some inaccuracy as to the amount of the balances in the Exchequer; the hon. Gentleman stated that the difference between the balances in the Exchequer in 1846 and 1847 was 3,000,000l. or 4,000,000l. less in the latter year than in the former; the noble Lord says the difference is 1,048,000l.. But let me call to the noble Lord's recollection two facts: one of the principal arguments urged by my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) when he brought forward the property tax—an unusual burden to be borne by the people in time of peace—was this, that for the independence of the Government, and the safety and security of the finances, it was indispensably necessary that the public balances in the Exchequer should be maintained, and kept high and favourable; and that the necessity of drawing on the Bank of England, to meet the payment of the dividends by deficiency bills, should be of as rare occurrence as possible. That was one of the arguments used for the property tax in time of peace. And what was the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he came forward to ask for a large loan a few weeks ago, also in time of peace? It was 1023 not only the extraordinary circumstances arising from the failure of the crops and the destitution in Ireland; but, again, adhering to the policy of my right hon. Friend, he said, experience had demonstrated it to be sound, wise, and necessary to maintain a balance in the Exchequer, and to avoid the necessity of a recurrence to the Bank of England for a large amount of deficiency bills. That is an argument I distinctly remember the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer used when he asked us to give our assent to a large loan. I will not now advert to the unhappy circumstances that made an application to the Bank of England necessary in April last for a large advance on deficiency bills—a course which, in the opinion of the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. T. Baring)—than whom no one is better qualified to speak on this subject—led to the financial crisis which took place at that period. I am willing to believe that no such expedient will be necessary to enable the Government to meet the dividend due on the approaching 5th of July; but still it is my duty to remind the House, if this necessity does not occur, of the means by which it will have been averted. It will have been averted in a time of peace by a measure justifiable only under great pressure, and in a difficulty almost overwhelming by a premium offered for the prompt payment of the loan: it is by forestalling the advance by a sacrifice of interest that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be enabled to meet the dividend of the 5th of July. These are the peculiar circumstances of the present moment which the House is called on to bear in mind before it gives its consent to the proposition. I do not overlook the peculiar circumstances of Ireland itself at this crisis; I have cheerfully given my assent to all the measures of relief proposed for that country; but I have a strong impression, looking at its present state, that every shilling of the public money advanced to Ireland should be devoted, not to the indirect employment of labour, but to the direct and effective increase in the productive powers of the soil with a view of producing a larger quantity of food. I will not speculate—perhaps the hon. and learned Member for Bath will excuse me for saying that such speculation is apt to be rash and even mistaken at this period of the year—on the probable prospects of the coming harvest. I must say, however, so far as regards the potato crop, 1024 that the recurrence of failure is not so much a matter of speculation as already a matter of fact. I fear that it does not now rest upon assumption, but upon the test of actual experience, that the growing crop of potatoes in the present year has shown symptoms of that early taint which was the precursor of great calamities in two former years. And if, unfortunately, the potato crop in this country should again fail, it would not be 650,000l., but a much larger sum which it will be desirable the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have in reserve to meet the coming necessities and wants not only of Ireland, but of this country, amidst the difficulties which will attend the third year of that failure with which a large portion of the United Kingdom has been afflicted in that article of food which is to millions the staff of life. But if I am right in saying, that in the expenditure of every shilling which, under present circumstances, may be advanced to Ireland, we should have directly in view the object of increasing to the utmost extent the amount of food to be raised from the soil, I would, in passing, observe, that Her Majesty's Government have withdrawn the measure for extending the cultivation of waste lands in Ireland without even discussing, the question of the propriety of applying some stimulus to that object. If you cannot succeed in increasing the quantity of food, the inquiry very naturally arises if it be not possible by aid from the public purse to diminish the number of those who press upon the subsistence of the country—I mean by colonisation. My noble Friend (the Earl of Lincoln) brought that question before the House, and it was not received with much favour by the Government; but, if I mistake not, by the other House of Parliament, a Committee has been granted to inquire if some enlarged scheme of colonisation may not be desirable. If money is to be expended on the public account beyond that already advanced, I am disposed to think that some grant might beneficially be made, tentatively, either to a limited extent, in an attempt to improve the waste lands of Ireland, or in testing the advantage to be derived from a measure of colonisation, not extensively, but by way of experiment. Now I would venture to offer one more observation to the House. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Bath, that all the arguments which were so ably urged against the proposition of the noble Lord, the Member 1025 for Lynn, in principle, are applicable to the Bill we are now discussing. I know-no one argument urged on that occasion which is not applicable to the Motion at present under consideration. First of all, it was then contended, and I now contend, that such a measure is calculated not to relieve the suffering poor of Ireland, but to favour the speculators in Irish railway shares. Then, if it be a measure in favour of the speculators in railways, the question occurs—why are the speculators in these three particular railways to be especially favoured? The noble Lord the Member for Lynn urged that argument with irresistible force; he showed that the circumstances of these three railways are by no means peculiar, that there are other railways in exactly the same position; and that if any principle is to prevail, they, as well as these particular railways, are entitled to relief. And if I am not mistaken, the pressure on the Government will be so strong, if not so overpowering, that it will be compelled to extend the same aid to other quarters, when it can be shown that railway communication between termini of importance would confer immense benefits upon the intermediate districts. When you make a selection, the Government, in consequence of the apparent favouritism, is always exposed to the suspicion of motives, of which I entirely acquit them, but which in the eye of the public are not such as the Government can acknowledge. One of the railways to which this advance is to be made, passes through the richest districts in Ireland; and they are not the districts where aid from the public purse is most required. Then, again, it was stated, and I now state, that not more than one-third of the money advanced will be applied to the aid or to the employment of labour. The earthworks are estimated at one-third; and it is only the earthworks which call into employment unskilled labour. It was then stated on most positive authority, and I repeat it, that the employment afforded in the construction of a railway operates not much more than five or ten miles on either side of the line. You attract only the able bodied; you congregate at that distance from their homes large masses of able bodied men; and you leave their families comparatively destitute, inasmuch as you deprive them of the immediate aid of their natural protectors. It would, however, be vain to go over all those arguments which have already been urged—urged too by the Government in 1026 opposition to the principle of this grant, which they themselves now propose. I shall merely notice one or two other points to which I would wish to direct the attention of the House. There is some inconsistency in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, since the subject was last discussed with respect to railways, has given us a 'description of Ireland more florid and favourable than anything I have ventured to hope or anticipate. I think he told us that the quantity of green crops sown in Ireland, in substitution of the potato crop, was much greater and apparently more promising than the most sanguine persons conversant with the condition of that country had any reason to expect. He told us, also, that the quantity of corn sown exceeded that sown in any former years; that throughout the east of Ireland the potatoes were planted extensively, and were most promising; that the potato in many directions had reappeared as an article of food. Then he went on to say that the deep-sea fishing had been most successfully introduced; and he informed us that, on the whole, the prospects of the country were more cheering than he, or the Government, at a somewhat earlier period, could possibly have anticipated. Then, again, it may be asked, if this be so, why amidst all the difficulties of the present moment—in that extreme financial embarrassment from which we have hardly yet escaped—with further financial difficulties which every prudent man must foresee impending—why expend 650,000l. in this manner, at this time, on these particular railways? Then, again, when all are contending with difficulties, why are other railways in England, Scotland, or Ireland, to which advances from the public purse are not to be made, to be unfairly exposed to the disadvantage of having to seek loans in the money market on unequal terms? It appears to me that this partial favour, confined to these railways, will be an act of great injustice to rival companies, equally entitled to support and assistance from the State. Before I sit down, I cannot fail to observe on what was stated by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, who, I admit, has been most consistent throughout in urging on the Government the superiority, as he considered it, of this mode of meeting the difficulties of Ireland. With respect to the question we are now debating, he used a harsh term—a strong term—but one 1027 which conveyed a very distinct meaning. He said that by supporting this measure he would "wedge" the Government into the necessity of adopting the principle involved in advancing loans to Irish railways. I object extremely to this mode of "wedging" the Government against their conviction and their wishes, into measures they deem to be dangerous. Reference has been made to the Ten Hours Bill by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. I cannot forget that that Bill in the present Session of Parliament has been pressed on the Legislature against the strong protest of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer; against the recorded opinions of one Member of the Government formerly connected with the Board of Trade, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Taunton (Mr. Labouchere); and in opposition even to the fears of the noble Lord, the First Lord of the Treasury, himself, who was ready to consent to an eleven hours Bill, but who said of the Ten Hours Bill that it was fraught with uncertainty, and that he looked upon it as an experiment hazardous and dangerous. And now, when we have had the advantage of all the arguments urged by the Government against the principle of making advances from the State to Irish railway companies—after that resistance in which a large majority of this House joined at the instance of the Government—we see Ministers yielding to that pressure, the nature of which I do not understand, and bringing forward a measure of this description, completely at variance with all the powerful arguments which they urged on the former occasion; and, as it appears to me, fraught with all the dangers which they denounced as necessarily attendant on the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn. I promised the House not to detain them long; and though I might go at greater length into the subject, I pass over many other arguments I would wish to have pressed upon their attention. I have, however, I think, stated enough to justify the vote it will be my duty to give—reluctantly, because the Government has brought forward the proposition, and because their motive is in conformity with my earnest wish, to relieve the distress of the people of Ireland; but, believing the measure wrong in principle, impolitic, and unnecessary, I cannot resist my sense of public duty, which compels me to record my vote against it.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHE- QUER
said: I should have been very unwilling again to occupy the attention of the House, having spoken so fully on this subject on a former occasion, had not the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down rather pointedly alluded to me and to the opinions which I had formerly expressed. I will not now refer to all the points to which the right hon. Gentleman has adverted; and I certainly will not say anything of the course which has been pursued with regard to the Ten Hours Bill. The right hon. Gentleman says that my noble Friend who spoke early in this debate founded the defence of this measure, not upon the particular circumstances of Ireland, at this juncture, hut upon its being part of a permanent policy towards that country. Now, having listened with the closest attention to what fell to-night from my noble Friend, I must confess that I cannot recollect anything he has said which could justify that observation. I conceive that all our measures, whenever brought forward, have been justified by the special circumstances in which Ireland has been placed, in consequence of the failure of the potato crop, and by the great change through which it is inevitable she must pass in recovering from the effects of that calamity. I, therefore, was never more surprised in my life than when the right hon. Gentleman stated that the noble Lord had left out of consideration all these special considerations, and had brought forward this measure, and without any reference to remedial aid which it is our duty to grant to grant to Ireland. [Sir JAMES GRAHAM: To compensate for centuries of misrule.] What my noble Friend said was, that this country owed great reparation to Ireland for the misgovernment of former times; that that consideration should be a strong inducement with us to look favourably at any proposition that might be submitted, the direct object of which was to assist Ireland; and that it was impossible for the House to trace the course pursued in former years without the deepest regret. I do not think the House was indisposed to that view; and this consideration was a general inducement to look favourably on any proposition submitted for the amelioration of the circumstances of Ireland. I do not particularly refer to the measure, or to any other measure that has been proposed; but that this particular mode of relief, by means of advances to railways, is connected with and must be dependent on special circum- 1029 stances, no one, I think, can pretend to deny. The right hon. Gentleman says that he cannot perceive the slightest difference in the principle applicable to the measure brought forward by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, and the principle involved in the more limited measure of the Government. I have no wish to enter into any very long argument to prove the consistency of the Government on that point. It seems to me, however, that in pointing out the different mode in which this relief would act from that in which it would have acted at an earlier period, I may also point out why such a measure to this extent is desirable now, and why it would not before have been sufficient to meet that demand for assistance and succour which then existed. And I hold that the time of administering the relief is a chief element in considering the advisability of the mode of relief. In 1846, when relief was administered by public works, it was the best mode that could then have been resorted to. It was founded upon the presentments of grand juries, and, with the experience we then possessed, no better mode of relief could have been employed. The experience of the last winter, however, changed our views: that system failed, overburdened and broken down from excessive pressure; and, as soon as we had the opportunity of submitting a different measure of relief to Parliament, Her Majesty's Government, early in the Session, came down to the House, proposed to put an end to that system, and to substitute the relief which was still required in a different manner. I believe that the measures which we substituted have in a great degree answered the purpose for which they were introduced; a large body of the people have been preserved from famine and starvation, and at a considerably reduced expense. When my noble Friend (Lord G. Bentinck) proposed his scheme, by which assistance would be furnished to railways, we did not say no assistance at any time ought to be given to railways; but we said that we considered such a system, at that time, would not, to the extent necessary, put a stop to the ravages of famine and pestilence in Ireland. We said that a measure was necessary which would put food into the mouths of the people and would stay the famine, especially on the western coast of Ireland, and that we did not think my noble Friend's measure would be effectual for this end. That was our main ground of objection to the system proposed by the 1030 noble Lord as the means of regenerating Ireland. We said that more as wanted, that relief must go much more directly to the people, and the mode in which we pro-proposed to apply that relief was by rations of food; but neither did my noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) nor myself, either then or at any other time, state that under no circumstances should relief be afforded by means of employment, or that a loan should, under all circumstances, be withheld from a railroad in Ireland. If hon. Gentlemen will consider what was the state of Ireland at that time, they will see that it was necessary that relief in the shape of food should he extended to the people, and largely too; how else could the ravages of famine be arrested? Nobody can read the accounts in the papers which have been laid on the Table of the House, or the statements which have appeared in the newspapers respecting the distress in Ireland, and not perceive that without immediate, ready, prompt, and extensive assistance, the population could not have been saved from a most fearful mortality. My right hon. Friend has spoken of the return we have had for our expenditure, not in the shape of interest for money, but in the shape of the salvation of the lives of our fellow-subjects; and I, for one, am satisfied with that return. I believe it was quite out of the power of the Irish proprietors to afford relief to the tenth part of the extent of the necessity. Many attacks have been made upon Irish proprietors in this House, and I am not here to defend their conduct in every respect; but I must say that they were placed in most difficult circumstances, and utterly unable to afford relief to any adequate extent. Even the poor law itself was new in Ireland; and, oppressed as they were by the unforeseen calamity which had fallen upon them, to expect them to afford adequate assistance would have been preposterous. It was absolutely necessary for us, therefore, to meet the necessity by furnishing food in the best wav we could. But since that time they have had considerable experience of methods of relief: they have had the benefit of the system of relief carried on through the winter; they have a law enabling them to afford out-door relief; and I must say, that I think the time is coming when assistance from this country in that shape of relief must cease, and when the preservation of the people from famine, and the affording to them relief, must be thrown upon the Irish gentry and the Irish pro- 1031 prietors. But that is not all that is to be done for Ireland. It has been stated already—and no one can deny—that beyond the merely putting food into the mouths of the people, it is most essential to aid Ireland in the period of transition, by affording extensive employment to the people. There are various modes in which that may be done; and this is one of them. Have there been no Bills for the construction of fishery piers; no Bills for lending money to landed proprietors to enable them to give employment to the people; no advances for other means of affording employment, and at the same time doing that which the right hon. Gentleman truly says ought to be the first object of all expenditure of money in Ireland, namely, increasing the productive powers of the country? Now, railways are to a certain extent auxiliary to increasing the productive powers of a country. The right hon. Baronet talked of other modes in which he would have spent this money; he would have done something experimentally in the way of reclamation of waste lands; something tentatively in the way of colonisation. Why, he knows that such a sum would have done very little good in either way, and that we should have been probably throwing away our money with much less chance of return than we shall now have. But this is not, in point of fact, an advance of money to railroads without any precedent, and in a manner utterly unknown before. What have we done? All that we have done is to place at the disposal of the Commissioners of Public Works a larger sum of money than heretofore, thereby enabling them to make loans which, if they had had the money for them, they would have made without coming to Parliament for assistance. In two cases they had actually agreed to make the loan; in the instance of the Waterford and Kilkenny, and the Dublin and Drogheda lines, they had agreed to advance 120,000l. out of the sum annually placed at their disposal, because they thought the security good and the undertakings such as it was desirable to forward; and I must say, that in every communication I have had with the Commissioners in the course of the year, I have encouraged them to give ail the assistance in their power to Irish enterprise; because, under present circumstances, I do think that every sum which can be reasonably devoted to that object, without a sacrifice, ought to be so expended, having regard 1032 to political considerations, ay, and financia too. Then comes the question of the Great Southern and Western. The right hon. Gentleman talks as if we had exercised some favouritism in selecting a particular line from a number of others in precisely similar circumstances; but the fact is not so. The lines to which the noble Lord has alluded, whatever they may be now, certainly were not, when this advance was agreed upon, in the circumstances of the Great Southern and Western. We thought then, and we think now, that we exercised a sound discretion in refusing to make advances to railroads in Ireland; the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth also did so; he refused to make advances from the Treasury; he referred them to the Commissioners, and the Commissioners happened to have a sum of money to spare from their usual funds, which they offered, but which, in the then state of the money market, the company declined. Well, the state of the money market is not so easy now; but are not the circumstances of Ireland somewhat changed? Is it not desirable now, and more desirable than it was then, to find employment for the people of Ireland in a way which they have not had it? If it be true that the circumstances in one respect are changed, so are they in the other; and we place a sum of money in the commissioners' hands, to enable them to make this advance, believing not only that the security is good; but that there are circumstances connected with this railroad which distinguish it from those of which we have heard so much. A railroad connecting Cork and Limerick, and Dublin, stands in somewhat peculiar circumstances; there is the communication with America to be recollected; and, upon the whole, probably no one line in Ireland is so important. I believe, however, that it was the only one which could apply, because it was the only one that was in a condition to borrow by having half its capital paid up; and therefore it was the only one to which an advance from the loan fund could possibly be made. I hardly know whether it is worth while to go into the subject of earthworks. I stated before, that in this particular case the whole of the rails are bought, and the whole of the locomotive power provided; and there again, the circumstances are peculiar. The sum remaining to be applied will be for earthworks and the construction of the way. I believe, therefore, that the principle we laid down ab initio, is the true 1033 one, but is not applicable to this particular case. Under these circumstances, the Government do think the course they have proposed to he perfectly consistent with the policy they have felt it their duty to pursue towards Ireland—namely, that of diminishing and withdrawing relief with the utmost expedition, with a few exceptions rendered necessary by the state of parts of the country, leaving it to he provided from the poor-rates and from charity, and turning their attention to rendering such assistance in the finding employment for labourers as they may have it in their power to afford.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester have assured the House, that in speaking upon this question to-night they should trespass very shortly upon their attention; and I shall follow, in the most imitative manner, their example. Indeed, I rise only to recall the attention of the House and of the country to one circumstance; but one which I believe is well worthy of their attention—namely, that this Session of Parliament—no immemorable one in the history of this country—commenced with the discussion of the question which now, near its termination, or its catastrophe, occupies their attention. And I cannot but believe that the House and the country, when they re- member all the circumstances which attend- ed the introduction, in the month of February, of a measure similar to, though greater than that which Her Majesty's Ministers have brought forward to-night; and when they moralise upon the debate, which tomorrow may perhaps afford some fruits for their pensive consideration, will arrive at this result—that the overwhelming majority which determined to stop the progress of the proposition of my noble Friend (Lord G. Bentinck) was, at least, one animated by a too precipitate spirit. I cannot understand how hon. Gentlemen who on that occasion, by their determined speeches, or their more vehement cheers, desired to terminate by such a flow of eloquence and contempt the proposition then presented, can now advance and support the proposal which Her Majesty's Ministers have indeed brought forward, in my opinion, with arguments irresistible, and founded upon data which no one can controvert. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester has placed the question fairly before the House; he has evaded a mere guerilla debate upon a very 1034 diminished proposition, compared with that of my noble Friend. He has widened the breach; he has extended the basis of the debate. He said, "You have not merely to discuss the question whether you are to vote for the proposition of the Minister, or whether you are to negative it; but you are to remember all that has occurred during the six months that have elapsed; you are to remember the vote that you gave upon the Ten Hours Bill; you are to remember that distinguished individuals, members of Her Majesty's Government, were in collision, differing in sentiment upon that important occasion; and to-night you are to decide, not merely whether you will support the measure of the Government, but whether you will support certain principles of political economy, certain axioms of what is called by some persons in the House political philosophy, and that in fact form the main question at issue, and on that we go by our vote to-night to the country." I accept that broad basis of argument which the right hon. Gentleman has chalked out; I say that is the real question at issue. It is not a question between 4,000,000l. a year expended by the realm for the sake of a section of the kingdom, and the 500,000l. or 600,000l. which are the subject of our discussion this evening. The question is, whether you will adopt or abjure certain principles as standard principles guiding the imperial policy of this country; or whether you will openly brand them as most impolitic characteristics of the course of any Government? That is the real question at issue; and if the question on which we are to go to the country be this, whether it be the policy of this country to adhere to any pedantic application of the principles of political economy, I will meet any Gentlemen on that issue, and I, for one, will give my vote against that pedantic application of the principles of political economy. The hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, who addressed the House with great ability, has placed the question very fairly upon that issue; and upon that I wish the vote to be taken. It is all very well for the Gentlemen opposite to say, "If the railroads of Ireland be a good security for the investment of money, why do not the capitalists of Ireland and of England invest their treasures in the formation of those public works?" But the question for a Minister of this country to put is—"Is it, or is it not, whatever may be the cause, the fact, that capital is not invested in Ireland, and 1035 that the people of Ireland are not employed? "This is the fact, and it is not the consequence of any transitory circumstance, like the potato famine, for example; but it is now an inveterate circumstance in the economical history of Ireland. Is it not the fact that, in 1823—and I take that year because it is the one preceding the great burst of political agitation in Ireland, and before certain circumstances had occurred which have always been since referred to as raising a barrier to the investment of capital in Ireland—is it not the fact that it was the rule in that country that money was lent there at a rate of interest at least one and a half per cent higher than in England? Is it or is it not a fact, that, in times of peace, concord, and tranquillity, and, if you like, of Protestant supremacy, that was a characteristic of Ireland?—that it was then difficult to obtain the investment of capital in Ireland on terms equal to those on which it was invested in this country? Well, Minister after Minister has had to struggle with this circumstance. He has found the country with a rich soil, with immense resources, and with a population which I believe—and heartily believe—is an industrious population; but still he finds that the capital of the kingdom does not flow into Ireland. It is all very well to rise—nothing is easier than for a Member for a metropolitan district to rise and say, "Why should you not do to my constituents as you do to the people of Ireland? Why should you do for the people of Ireland what they will not do for themselves?" Our answer is, that your constituents have done for themselves what the people of Ireland do not do for themselves. Well, I want to put the question fairly; but the retort, free from all affectation of pride, is—is our empire to perish?—is Ireland to be lost?—are there no extraordinary means to be taken?—because you choose to legislate for Ireland with all the comfortable experience of the borough of Southwark? Now that is the question. This is not the accident of an hour. The noble Lord himself has talked of "the misgovernment of centuries;" but the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) sneered at that expression. Why, the right hon. Gentleman has availed himself of that expression as often as any person who has spoken in this House. The right hon. Gentleman, when the Government proposed the grant for an increased endowment for Maynooth, talked of the "misgovernment of centuries." 1036 That is one of the common stereotyped phrases which every Minister or ex-Minister has used when speaking of Ireland; but, like all common phrases, it is, in fact, true. You admit—any person speaking upon Ireland—all must admit, I care not what are his general opinions or his political creeds, that there is a difference in the state of the two countries—that there is a difference which, whatever may be the cause, must be recognised in legislation by any Minister who means to bring forward measures that will to some degree tend to reduce that difference between the state of the two countries. Well, Sir, that I believe to be a sound and just view of the case. My noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn brought forward his Motion at the commencement of this Session; and the object of that Motion was that England for four years should expend, upon undeniable security, 4,000,000l. per annum in the employment of the labour of Ireland. It has been said that my noble Friend brought forward that Motion merely in consequence of the potato famine. I have no hesitation in saying that the potato famine accelerated that Motion, and that it justified us in introducing it to Parliament. The Motion, however, was founded on certain principles of policy entertained by the noble Lord and other Gentlemen totally independent of the potato famine. It arose from the conviction, the political conviction, that it was absolutely necessary the people of Ireland should be employed—that general employment could not be occasioned except by the creating of public works—and that the scheme which he introduced not only insured that employment, but insured it on terms which secured England from any loss. That was the broad ground on which that proposition was brought forward. I need not remind the House of the arguments with which the measure of my noble Friend was opposed. I may say this, however, that every argument which he brought forward in support of his Motion has been brought forward in support of the measure of Her Majesty's Government. There is just this difference—the Government is like a man with a telescope, who by a flourish of his hand turns it round, so that the glass, when he looks into, instead of showing him objects greatly magnified, as in the proposition of my noble Friend, represents everything under a diminished aspect, according to the view taken by Her Majesty's Government. If the principles 1037 of political economy were violated by the noble Lord, they are violated by Her Majesty's Government. But the question is this—and we put it to the people of England, before whom we must soon all appear—Do the people of England care more for the good government of Ireland than for the principles of political economy? That is the real question. You may repeat to them your reasoning for ever; but the answer of the people of England will be this—"Ireland is the disgrace of England; her people are suffering, miserable, and unemployed; and here is a scheme—a statesmanlike scheme—which, when proposed for the employment of the people, you, the Parliament of England, ousted in the month of February; and when you are about to be dissolved and appear before your constituents, you cling to the fag-end of that scheme, and hold it out as the only panacea for the cure and regeneration of Ireland." We are willing that the question should be placed in that light. We come to support Her Majesty's Ministers—we come to support the measure of the Government; and I do not suppose any one can doubt that we give it a most sincere support. But while we support the measure of the Government, we do not shrink from admitting the expressly political principle on which we do support it. We say, at once, without reserve or equivocation, that we prefer the employment of the people of Ireland to the pedantic determination to support the principles of political economy; and on that issue we so to the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester (Sir J. Graham), who has given a consistent opposition to every measure of this kind, has called upon the House to consider the financial state of the country. He drew a dark view of it; admitting, at the same time, that in every respect the financial condition of the country was improved—that the Bank has emerged in a great degree from the overwhelming difficulties that menaced it—that the rate of interest in the city of London is by no means so great as it was some months ago; "but," says the right hon. Gentleman, "remember you have to pay for all that corn which hourly and daily is filling the granaries of this country." Why, I should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman must be aware—and I am sure, on recollection, he must already have placed before his mind the fact—that not a single quarter of grain that is now entering England, or 1038 even that will for some time enter England, but has already been paid for; and that, by the common mercantile system of this country, it is impossible a single quarter of the gram now entering England has not been paid for. And if the Bank has emerged from its difficulties—if the rate of exchange is not so stringent as it was—I cannot believe that the circumstance of the present importation of corn can be the cause that ultimately will produce any derangement in our finances. Well, then, the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham), faithful to his mission, enjoying the consistent position he now occupies—remembering that he opposed the Motion of the noble Lord the hon. Member for Lynn in February—and, therefore, feeling authorized to oppose Her Majesty's Ministers now near July—again calls the attention of the House to the circumstance, that, by these advances of public money in support of railways in Ireland, you are, in fact, not employing the labour of the country. Says the right hon. Gentleman, "It is well known that only one-third of the capital employed is expended on earthworks." Why, really, I think that there is no Gentleman, whatever his opinions may be on the main question, but must agree with me when I say, that no point was more amply discussed, entered into more detail, and ultimately more generally agreed to by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House than this, that there could not be a greater fallacy than to suppose that the amount of labour employed in railways was in any degree to be measured by the labour employed on earthworks. Grant that of the capital employed on railways only one-third is expended on earthworks; yet I say that the most moderate computation, made by official reports, by the highest authorities on this subject, is, that the labour employed on railways demands at least two-thirds of the capital employed on them; for the right hon. Gentleman entirely omits the construction of the way. He looks merely to the earthworks, and does not look in any degree to those other circumstances which are familiar to all of us; and it was fully admitted on all hands, in a long discussion which took place at the commencement of the Session, on authority which no one could dispute, that two-thirds of the capital employed on railways were expended in labour. The right hon. Gentleman, in that comprehensive though brief speech which he made to-night—and which, in truth, he had a right to make consis- 1039 tently with the opposition which, on a former occasion, he offered to the proposition of the noble Member for Lynn—said, that he agreed in a certain sense with Her Majesty's Ministers, and he felt that there were a variety of measures—I trust I do not misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman—in reference to which Her Majesty's Ministers might be justified in interfering for the purpose of ameliorating the state of Ireland. In particular, he referred to colonisation—a subject which had been brought before the House by his recent Colleague the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk. I understood, from the only means by which those not present can obtain any notion of what a Member may express in this House, that that noble Lord (the Earl of Lincoln) did full justice on that occasion to the great ability of Mr. Godley, and that he adopted in many senses the general scope and tendency of the measures recommended by Mr. Godley. Certainly, though I do believe the noble Lord, with what I would call official prescience, did not particularly bind himself to adopt all the recommendations of that gentleman, yet he nevertheless indicated the most considerable, and referred to the general scope of Mr. God-ley's system with approbation. Well, what is one of the features of the system of Mr. Godley? He is the apostle of Irish colonisation. He says, "Send the Irish to Canada;" and, God knows, every Gentleman would be glad to do so, if when they reached Canada, they would be able to pursue a life which would tend more to their general welfare than the life they lead at present. But the natural and practical question which occurs to everybody who attends to the system of Mr. Godley is, "What will you do with this great influx of Irish in Canada when they arrive there?" Mr. Godley, who is a man of ability, and who has well matured his system, has provided for this. He says, "I will tell you what to do with them; let them make railways." The first thing to do, when the fleet of Irish emigrant colonisers has crossed over to Canada, is to create a railway from Halifax to Quebec. This is the most practical part of the great scheme matured by Mr. Godley's ability, and referred to by the right hon. Member for Dorchester, and the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk. You are to make the Irish emigrate from their country, to cross the Atlantic, and to do—what? That which the noble Member for Lynn proposed to the Parliament of England, in 1040 February last, that the Irish should do in their own country. Such is the irresistible power of experience, and such the inevitable conviction of circumstances, that at the end of the Session, though with a timid spirit and in a partial manner, or, to use the language of the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), under different circumstances and with certain limitations, Her Majesty's Ministers feel it their absolute duty to propose to the Parliament of this country to adopt the plan proposed at the commencement of the Session by the noble Member for Lynn. You cannot deny that the Session commenced by a noble Lord, not a member of the Government—I will not call him a member of Opposition, for that is an ungracious term—bringing forward a great and comprehensive measure. All acknowledge that, even the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, who does not agree in the principle of it. The noble Lord brings that measure forward, and you all unite—form a junction of every party in the House—except those who immediately follow the noble Lord, and you obtain a great triumph. I remember your countenances—your smiles and your congratulations—when you came out of the division lobby—the glory of the Government—the chuckling conviction that they had saved their country, as well as the patriotic inspiration which fired the hon. Member from Southwark and his Friends—"You have done a great deed, you have kicked out the great and comprehensive measure, founded on principles of which you entirely disapprove, not only in reference to Ireland, but which are antagonistic to your general policy. You are in a consistent, honourable, and respectable position." Now enjoy your triumph, but explain your conduct to your constituents. Let England decide whether it is to be governed on pure principles of political economy. We are ready to meet you on that question. The time may come, when, instructed by the speeches and writings of the hon. Baronet the Member for Southwark, you may find England prepared; but the practical question is, whether you will find England prepared on the 24th of July next? My opinion is that you will not. The constituencies of England will naturally say, it is all very well, but Ireland is as much part of the United Kingdom as Yorkshire and Lancashire; and we can no longer bear that the misgovernment of centuries, which the First Minister of the 1041 country described to be the cause of the present state of Ireland, should not in some degree be mitigated. You have opposed the only great and comprehensive measure ever brought forward for the amelioration of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Dorchester, who joined in the first opposition to the measure, and, not now relinquishing a single principle on which he made that opposition, tells you fairly that the question for England to decide is, whether it will be governed on the principles of political economy or not. He tells you not to suppose that you are merely now deciding whether Ireland is to have a grant of some 600,000l. or not. Nothing could equal the courage, I would almost say the audacity, of the right hon. Baronet—and I admire him for it, it is a praiseworthy quality—with which the right hon. Baronet addressed the House this evening. He says, "do not suppose that the vote of a small sum of money is the real question at issue—the question is whether you are to have another Ten Hours Bill affair." The question is whether we are to be governed by certain conclusions, which I believe a very small minority in this House or in the country will accept as political truths; or whether the wants of the people, both English and Irish, are to be considered—whether, in fact, we are to be animated, when we attempt to legislate, by national sympathies, or whether we are to take refuge in mere dry pedantic political aphorisms?
§ MR. HUME
admitted that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had cause of triumph against those who on a former occasion voted against a principle which they were now going to support. He had heard no sufficient reason given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for this change of conduct on the part of the Government. The course pursued by the Government constituted a great triumph for the noble Lord the Member for Lynn. He was anxious to state why on a former occasion he voted against the proposal of the noble Member for Lynn, and why he now opposed the measure of Her Majesty's Government. He agreed with the hon. Member for Shrewsbury that whether they were asked to vote 16,000,000l. or 600,000l. for the promotion of railways in Ireland, the principle was the same; and he therefore opposed this measure, as he had formerly opposed the measure of the noble Lord opposite. The Government now 1042 proposed that 600,000l. should be advanced for promoting railways in one portion of the empire. He contended that England, Ireland, and Scotland ought in every respect to be placed on an equal footing; but could the noble Lord (Lord J. Russsell) say that he was acting justly in taking 600,000l. out of the pockets of the people of England and Scotland, for the establishment of railways in Ireland? Was this justice to England and Scotland? Was it even justice to Ireland? It was not; for the assistance they were called upon to afford, would not be extended to the whole of that country, but only to a portion of it. If the noble Lord at the head of the Government intended, as he had said, to give assistance to the labouring population of Ireland, why did he not adopt the principle of the noble Member for Lynn? Why was he so partial and unjust as to afford assistance only to three railways? He (Mr. Hume) objected to taking money from the pockets of the people of England and Scotland, not to benefit the Irish people, but for the advantage of a few speculators; and he should therefore feel it his duty to vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. CARDWELL
hoped that, before the debate was allowed to close, a distinct statement would be made on the part of Her Majesty's Government whether this was to be an exceptional case, founded upon the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, or whether, as had been announced in the course of the evening, it was to be regarded as the commencement of a new course of public policy, to be the foundation of a new system of administration in Ireland. He considered that the remarks which had just been made by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury rendered it still more necessary that they should not separate without a clear understanding on this subject. That hon. Gentleman had laid down the principle that they were not to give aid to promote railways in England, because Englishmen did these things for themselves; but that they were to give aid to Ireland, because Irishmen did come forward to promote such undertakings. Now, if this measure was to be the foundation of a new system of policy, and if that policy were to be grounded on the reason given by the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, he (Mr. Cardwell) thought it was high time that the matter should be brought fairly and intelligibly before the House. This must, in some degree, be part of a 1043 new plan of policy; because it was not consistent in the Government to say that this was an exceptional case, and that this measure was rendered necessary by the state of Ireland. He considered that the noble Member for Lynn had the best of the argument. In February, Parliament was called upon to consider in what manner several months of famine were to be got through; and the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) came forward and said, "Construct railways and employ the Irish people." What was the answer of the Government? "It is extremely improper," they said, "to bring the credit or the money of the nation in aid of private enterprises: these undertakings cannot be so well carried out by Government instrumentality as by private enterprise; the railways it is proposed to assist are all in the eastern district of Ireland, and your assistance will be of little or no benefit to the western and more destitute part of the country." Could the Government now, when they were coming forward to promote a railway from Dublin to Cashel, to the exclusion of a railway from Dublin to Galway, say that this was an exceptional case? The hon. Member for Shrewsbury had told them that capital did not go to Ireland; and in February last the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the measure of the noble Member for Lynn was not a measure for the relief of the destitute labourers of Ireland, but for the relief of the destitute shareholders in England. That statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was perfectly true, for the directors of the North-Western Railway were the parties who got up the Dublin and Cashel Railway; and the effect of the noble Lord's measure would therefore have been to relieve the shareholders in England. Why could not the Dublin and Cashel Railway Company finish their works without assistance? It was true that that railway would unite Dublin with Cork and Limerick, and that that was a very important communication; but were there no important lines of communication projected in this island? The Dublin and Cashel shares were at a discount; but they were, he believed, only at the same discount as the shares in the railway which was to unite London with Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the railway which was to connect London with Holyhead, in order to afford more rapid communication with Dublin. But had those railway companies come to that House for money? Why, then, was the Dublin and Cashel Railway Company en- 1044 titled to assistance? They had been told that they ought to deal with Ireland as if it were Yorkshire. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Hudson) knew that when a railway was in course of construction to unite London with the great metropolis of the woollen manufacture—Leeds, the shares in that railway were at one time at a much greater discount than the shares in the Dublin and Cashel Railway; but did the company apply to the British Parliament for money to enable them to make a railway from London to Leeds? It appeared the Government had been told that the Irish railway companies which were to participate in this grant had purchased all their rails, engines, and carriages, and that the whole of the money which it was proposed to advance would be expended upon earthworks. He would ask the right hon. Member for Sunderland, or any one acquainted with railway business, whether this was not the first instance that had come to their knowledge of a railway company having purchased, and—although in great distress—having paid for all their engines, carriages, and rails, and wanting only one thing, which they could not accomplish without the assistance of the Government to complete their line—the earthworks? But he would ask the House to consider what was the state of things in this country when the London and Leeds Railway was in progress? The iron trade was depressed; the furnaces were blown out; the population of Lancashire and Yorkshire was in deep distress; but yet the company did not come to Parliament asking assistance to enable them to prosecute their scheme. No; the energy of the English people effected a railway communication between London and Leeds; and the energy of the English people was now carrying out a similar communication between London and Edinburgh, and between London and Holyhead. He was satisfied, that if Parliament did not interfere, the shareholders in these Irish railways would find it necessary to go on with their own works; and by leaving English energy unfettered and unaided, the House would confer greater benefit upon Ireland than they could do by interference and assistance. So much for the plan of helping those who would not help themselves. Very different was the peroration of the noble Lord in his speech at the beginning of the Session. He well recollected that peroration, in which the noble Lord told the Irish 1045 people to help themselves, and the British Parliament would help them. Very different was this from the observation of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury, that Irishmen would not help themselves if you did not help them. But he had risen principally for the purpose of noticing the state of the Exchequer. It was said that this was not a large sum of money; he did not know that it was a large sum of money, but it bore a large proportion to 650,000l., which the wisdom of Parliament had provided for extraordinary occasions. Where was the money to come from? From the balance in the Exchequer. It was said that there was a sufficient balance in the Exchequer for the purpose. Where was this balance got? It was got from a loan; and it was a most improvident arrangement to borrow money upon condition of paying 100l. for 90l. received, and to lend the money so borrowed to Irish railroads. What was the state of the market for Exchequer bills? It had never been in such a state since 1817. Never since the close of the war had we paid 3d. interest upon Exchequer bills, nor was it likely they would soon bear a lower rate of interest. The Prime Minister had confirmed the apprehension as to the state of the harvest in the coming year; and the hon. Member for Shrewsbury would not say that corn which was to be imported was not to be paid for; that was an argument for keeping the balances in the Exchequer. If the balances were high on the 10th of July, was that an argument that they would be high on the 10th of October? The hon. Member for Shrewsbury said, that the Bank of England had got through their difficulties; and others said that all these difficulties had arisen from the currency being contracted. But they also said that they feared that our commercial transactions would be fewer than before; and if our commercial transactions diminished, whore was our revenue to come from? He advised those who were responsible for the amount of the balances in the Exchequer on the 10th of October not to be too confident, and if they had 620,000l. in the Exchequer, to keep it. He did not dwell upon the fairness or unfairness of this particular case; but he did not understand the answer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that assistance would be given to all railroads which had complied with the conditions, and that the Mullingar Railroad had not complied with the conditions. He had understood the noble Lord to say, "Let 1046 those come forward who can prove that they have the same claim, and the same assistance shall be given to them; and it must be so." Was that to be the state of things next Session? He did not think that it would enhance the character of the British Parliament if one Gentleman was to get up and recommend the Cashel line, and another Gentleman put in a claim for the Mullingar line. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury told them that they were not to show a pedantic adherence to the principles of political economy. He thought those principles had no other object than to promote the happiness of mankind—not out of mere theoretical notions, but upon practical grounds—and to that extent those who understood them adhered to the principles of political economy: and he hoped they would continue—not for any religious or social advantages, but from material, practical, monetary, and commercial views—to consider themselves bound to make those principles their guide. He hoped the country would know what was the situation it was in. They had been told by the noble Lord that this was the commencement of a system by which the condition of Ireland was to be ameliorated; and, whilst England and Scotland were to be left to themselves, Ireland was to have the benefit of these advances. If this was to be a new system of government for that country, it was fit, upon the eve of a general election that it should be proclaimed; and he should sit down by saying what he said when he began, that he sincerely hoped and trusted that the country would know, and the House would know, whether this was to be an exceptional case, based upon the ordinary condition of Ireland, evincing only a little inconsistency on the part of the Government; or whether it was to be the foundation of a new system, and a departure from the ancient system of government, by which some new benefit was to be conferred upon the State.
§ The House divided on the question, that the word "now" stand part of the Question:—Ayes 175; Noes 62: Majority 113.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aldam, W.||Bateson, T.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Beckett, W.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Austen, Col.||Bennet, P.|
|Bailey, J.||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|Baine, W.||Bentinck, Lord H.|
|Baldwin, B.||Berkeley, hon. C.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Berkeley, hon. Capt.|
|Baring, T.||Berkeley, hon. G. F.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Bernal, R.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Blake, M. J.||Langston, J. H.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Lawless, hon. C.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Lawson, A.|
|Borthwick, P.||Layard, Major|
|Bowles, Adm.||Lefroy, A.|
|Brisco, M.||Le Marchant, Sir D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Liddell, hon. H. T.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Buller, C.||Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.|
|Burke, T. J.||M'Carthy, A.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||M'Donnell, J. M.|
|Busfeild, W.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Callaghan, D.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Carew, hon. R. S.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Castlereagh, Visct,||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Cavendish, hon. C. C.||Monahan, J. H.|
|Chapman, B.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Morison, Gen.|
|Christie, W. D.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Clifton, J. T.||Neeld, J.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Newport, Visct.|
|Collett, W. R.||Norreys, Sir J. D.|
|Courtenay, Lord||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||O'Brien, C.|
|Craig, W. G.||O'Brien, J.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||O'Conor Don|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Denison, J. E.||Ord, W.|
|Disraeli, B.||Osborne, R.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Paget, Col.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Parker, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Perfect, R.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Philipps, Sir R. B. P.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Pinney, W.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Polhill, F.|
|Gore, M.||Ponsonby, hn. C.F.A.C.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Pusey, P.|
|Gore, hon. R.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Greene, T.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Gregory, W. H.||Rich, H.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Ross, D. R.|
|Grogan, E.||Round, J.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Russell, Lord C. J. F.|
|Hallyburton, Ld. J.F. G.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Halsey, T. P.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Hamilton, G. A.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Somers, J. P.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Hatton, Capt. V.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Hawes, B.||Staunton, Sir G. T.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Stuart, J.|
|Hodgson, R.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Taylor, E.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Thornely, T.|
|Hudson, G.||Towneley, J.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Hutt, W.||Turner, E.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Jones, Capt.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Kemble, H.||Vyse, H.|
|Walker, R.||Wood, rt hon. W.|
|Wall, C. B.||Wynn, rt. hon. C W.|
|Ward, H. G.||Wyse, T.|
|Watson, W. H.||TELLERS.|
|Wilshere, W.||Tufnell, H.|
|Wodehouse, E.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Autrobus, E.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Arkwright, G.||Lindsay, Col.|
|Barclay, D.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Marshall, W.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Masterman, J.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Broadwood, H.||Moffatt, G.|
|Brown, W.||Morris, D.|
|Cardwell, E.||Mure, Col.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Neville, R.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Patten, J. W.|
|Clive, Visct.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Cripps, W.||Peel, J.|
|Deedes, W.||Ricardo, J. L.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Sheppard, T.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.T.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Smyth, Sir H.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Spry, Sir S. T.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Stuart, H.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Duncan, G.||Tollemache, J.|
|Duncombe, T.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Entwisle, W.||Trotter, J.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Graham, rt hon. Sir J.||Wakley, T.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Williams, W.|
|Hastie, A.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Hogg, Sir J. W.||Yorke, H. R,|
|Hope, G. W.|
|Hughes, W. B.||TELLERS.|
|Hume, J.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Humphery, Ald.||Roebuck, J. A.|
§ Bill read a second time.