§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
observed, that the measure referred to was one which required very great consideration. It would be introduced by the Lord Chancellor in the other House of Parliament, where it would have all the weight of his authority. He hoped it would take no very long time to pass the Bill in the other House, and it would then be disposed of in that House as speedily as possible.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice. The proposition which he wished to submit to the House was, that any plan of relief for the distress of the Irish poor, by means of loans to the owners of property in Ireland, would be unjust and impolitic that was not accompanied by a system of taxation which would place the Irish property of all sorts in precisely the same condition as that in which the property in England was now placed. He did not understand how that proposition could be objected to. The thing was plain; the modes of obtaining the means for taxation were the same, and he was thoroughly at a loss to understand why there should be any opposition to his proposition. He was prepared, and well prepared, to meet with opposition from Gentlemen at both sides of the House from Ireland. He was accustomed to their opposition, and expected not only opposition, but abuse; but neither the one nor the other was a matter of any importance to him; still, as they had vouchsafed to call themselves his opponents, he should think it his duty, before he got to the end of what he had to say to the House, to take notice of the arguments that might come from that portion of the House. But before he came to that portion of the House, he wanted to answer the rational arguments that might be raised against his proposition. The proposition itself might be placed on plain and simple grounds. This was a community composed of various nations; they had an interest in common — they had obligations in common—they had difficulties in common. To meet those they had one common fund. The landlord of Eng- 1026 land, the merchant of England, each brought his quota into the general exchequer, for the purpose of upholding that country which was known as the great nation called Great Britain and Ireland. There was no grumbling, there was no opposition, on the part of England, whether the tax were derived from land, or fixed or other descriptions of income, or from labour. They, he would say the people of England — cheerfully paid to maintain that which was for the interest of the people of Great Britain and Ireland. And now he wanted to know what was the condition of those who, in Ireland, were the possessors of wealth, or of land, or of fixed capital, or of property of any other description, or who derive large incomes from their professional labour, or who should directly pay the taxes to the community. He found there were three great descriptions of taxation from which the Irish population were exempt. He found there were, first, the assessed taxes, which no Irishman paid. Now, let them understand what an assessed tax was. It was a tax upon a man's house, upon his windows, upon his servants, upon a variety of things—such as his horses, his armorial bearings. Now, an Irishman might have his arms emblazoned on his carriage, he might have his horses and his servants, and yet pay no tax for those peculiarly aristocratic indulgences. An Irishman, on crossing the Channel, was free to make a display, and that he knew was felt in Ireland to be a painful thing to tax—to tax display in Ireland, would be to tax one-half of the country's pleasure. He would next proceed to the poor law. Ireland was exempt from taxation for her poor—that was to say, the gentleman, the citizen, the well-to-do artisan was in Ireland exempt from that which the English gentleman — ay, and every Englishman, felt to be his duty—namely, to maintain the poor. The Irish gentleman—the Irish citizen—the Irish artisan — all thought that a matter utterly and entirely beneath their consideration, and with which an Irishman had nothing to do. It was very peculiar that all those taxes fell upon the rich; but he found when those classes in Ireland were told by an official in that country they had duties to perform, that his statement run through the country as if he had rung a knell that would be the death-warrant of one half of the display of Ireland. He said, "Property has its duties as well as its rights;" and that phrase had a response in every English and Scot- 1027 tish bosom, but it wanted a response in Ireland. It found none there; that sounding-board which should return it was cracked and spoiled, and the sound was nothing. They got no response, they got no answer from Ireland; but the good feeling of the people of England, aided and assisted by the good feeling of the people of Scotland, would remedy that, and would, he hoped, mend that, and make the people of Ireland respond. Let them mark it was the rich that had escaped from all taxation, either including the poor or the general interests which he was now about to bring before the House. He asked that property (as it ought to be) be taxed in Ireland as it is in England. He asked that, in the name of all that is good, in the name of all that is humane and beneficent. He asked that Irish property—he did not want to put it on anybody else but the rich in Ireland—he asked that the rich in Ireland should bring their quota to the national Exchequer towards payment of the national expenses. And he now asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government on what ground the noble Lord could venture to oppose the honesty and policy of his proposition? What was his proposition? It was simply this—that if a man in Ireland shall attain riches, anything above 150l. a year, whether derivable from land or from his intellect, shall, with respect to taxation, be treated as in England. It was a debt due to the nation, which they had not paid, and which he found them mightily unwilling to pay; and which he found, moreover, they had made a number of pretexts to avoid paying. But, with the blessing of God, they would see what those gentlemen were made of; they would try them in each particular, and when they threatened repeal, let them beware they did not get repeal. And let them beware that they who spoke loudest for repeal, were not the first that would be overwhelmed with the torrent that would succeed. What had they heard of repeal in the country since a real calamity had come upon it? Was there ever such a spectacle? People talked out loudly in times of prosperity and wealth. At that time all were for self-government—all were for repeal—they were all against the Saxon, and for the Celt. It had pleased Almighty Providence to visit them with famine. At once this hurly-burly ceased—there was an utter and complete prostration of body and mind amongst the whole of those rampant talkers for repeal. They had nothing to propose, but they had all to 1028 ask—their whole limbs and body, except their tongues, were inert, and utterly useless, and with the tongue they cried, "Give, give." They had nothing to propose—but the dictator of the Saxon and the advocate of the Celt crept into his hiding-place, and nought could be heard from him but his whimpering voice asking aid for Ireland. That was the picture of a thoroughgoing Repealer. When he turned to England, what was the contrast? He saw a brave nation bearing its ills with a fortitude which commanded admiration, and with a perseverance that won sympathy. He perceived a gentleman opposite him, Whose lucubrations he had that day seen in the Morning Chronicle, signed by "D." something "Norreys." That Gentleman was a Member of the House; and why did he not bring forward there some comprehensive plan for the regeneration of his country? Why did the hon. Member go to the noble Lord to ask him for aid? Did they in England depend for aid on the noble Lord? No; they depended on themselves, and that hon. Gentleman should have placed on that Table his propositions, and not put them forward as he had, with bended knee and whimpering voice. Why did he not place his demand of what was needed for his country, on that Table, and say what was requisite for its well government, and he would command the sympathy of the English Members of that House? He pledged his faith for the people of England that they would give their immediate assent to any proposition which had a fair and honourable regard to the real interests of Ireland. [Mr. S. O'BRIEN: Hear.] He perceived the hon. Member opposite—the hon. Member for Limerick—said "hear," and he knew exactly what he meant; he was going to propose repeal—he saw it in his eye. He understood there was an Irish Member who sat opposite to the noble Lord in order to eviscerate him. He saw from the expression of countenance of the hon. Member for Limerick that he was about to propose something for Ireland that he knew the House would not adopt; but he (Mr. Roebuck) would tell him not to be too sure. There was no one that repeal would so utterly ruin and so utterly annihilate as those who cried out for it. If the hon. Member proposed repeal, he would probably be met just in the way he had met the hon. Member; for if those proceedings were carried one step farther, repeal would be called for by England. They should cut the painter at once, and 1029 allow them to drift on the water unaided and exposed to the howling of the tempest. There had been nothing proposed by that party which would make an impression on a rational man's mind, or win for itself a moment's hearing. He had taken a part in Irish debates, and he had won for himself perhaps an unenviable notoriety. Amongst those who had come to him were two Catholic priests; and he hoped the hon. Member for Kilkenny would listen to what he had to state. One was the Rev. Dr. Collins; the other the Rev. Mr. M'Carthy. He mentioned their names with their own consent. They came from Mallow, having been sent as a deputation from that neighbourhood. What was their first statement to him, when, after the usual courtesies, he had asked them to be seated? "Sir," said one of them, "don't believe that the Gentlemen in the House of Commons that come from Ireland represent Ireland." His (Mr. Roebuck's) answer was—"Sir, I am extremely glad to hear it." "Sir," said they, "they are the representatives of property in Ireland; now we, the priesthood, raised from amongst the people, entirely conversant with their feelings, mixing with them, are here, Sir, deputed to tell you from the Irish people this—don't listen to a word that is said in the House of Commons by any representative from Ireland." He (Mr. Roebuck) said, "I shall most religiously obey your request." "They do not (they said) represent the people of that country—they represent the rich, and they are following out most carefully the interests of the rich whom they represent." One of these clergymen then said there were around Mallow a number of gentlemen of large property, mentioning the names, which he had not put down; but he asked the clergyman to send them, which he had not done. That gentleman mentioned the names of persons possessing three, four, five, six, and he thought, ten thousand a year. He said they went around for subscriptions to those gentlemen for the relief of the starving people. The people were absolutely starving at the time, and it was stated at coroners' inquests that they were dying from starvation. They went to these gentlemen and asked them for relief for their starving brethren; and from none of these gentlemen did they get anything but the minutest trifle by way of relief; and one of these rev. gentlemen said—and he would remark that he was greatly won by this gentleman's manner; he had a heartiness about him; it was not what he 1030 had been accustomed to see coming from Ireland—but he had a heartiness about him which won his (Mr. Roebuck's) approbation—and his eye twinkled when he said that one of these gentlemen had seventy dogs living on meal and milk every day, though coroners' inquests were held at that man's gate upon persons who had died of starvation. Now, he appealed not to the Irish in that House, but he appealed to his own countrymen there, and he raised his voice to the whole of England and Scotland, and he asked them, were they prepared to bear that infamy? He knew there would be a responsive cry amongst the millions of England and Scotland; but as to the Irish landlords, he knew why they were such a class of men. They had been made so very much by English legislation. They had been very much like slaveholders, with white slaves. But if they had imposed slaveholders on that country, that was not caused by the present feeling of the English people towards Ireland, but was the inevitable consequence of their forefathers' acts. They carried out the base feeling of oppression which was once rancorous in the English heart towards Ireland; but there was no such feeling in England now; it had gone from this country; but it had rested in Ireland. He wanted to have the feelings of the English people brought to bear strongly upon the Irish landlords. It should be so brought to bear in all things connected with the poor. The English had done mischief, but they would undo it. They had done it by protecting a certain class in Ireland—a class of slaveholders as he had called them. But they should no longer exist as such—they should maintain their poor, and contribute to the maintenance of the public weal in various ways, as the people of England did. And he (Mr. Roebuck) now asked the noble Lord at the head of the Government, what objection he could have to the proposition which he made? He might say it was not the time to do so, that the Irish landlords were not prepared for it. He (Mr. Roebuck) thought he saw an hon. Friend of his (Alderman Humphery) near the bar, who was connected with Irish lands, and he could tell them that Irish rents were very well paid. He was sure the hon. Gentleman would not object to his pointing to him. He was connected with the City, and the City companies were large holders of Irish land. It might be that in some one or two districts the Irish landlords did not receive 1031 their rents; but throughout the large majority they did. ["No."] The hon. Member who cried "no" might be one of those who had not received his rents; but there was nothing more easy than to prove who had. It was very easy. Let each Gentleman state what he had received, and for all that was above 150l. let him pay as much as a man in England. There would be no longer any mystery in these matters; the Times newspaper cast a great bude-light upon them, and brought everything out except the secret working of the hearts of these Gentlemen, and these would soon be revealed by the great light. The House could not but be aware of the large proportion of Irish landlords in the Cabinet. Was it necessary to mention the names of all the great Irish landed proprietors connected with the noble Lord's Administration? He might name the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Marquess of Clanricarde, in the Cabinet; and he might mention Lord Monteagle, who was heating at the door to get in. He might also mention that nobleman who shook Europe to its centre, Lord Palmerston; he might also mention the Duke of Devonshire, and also a nobleman who, though not in the Cabinet, it was true, was a magnate, notwithstanding, Earl Fitzwilliam. Had he not come out in support of the project of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn? He was the first to declare in its favour; and he could understand the feelings of the noble Lord when he read the speech of Earl Fitzwilliam on the occasion; he was sure the noble Lord clapped his hands, and said he had got the sixteen millions. But there was another body stronger even than Earl Fitzwilliam, and that was the people of England. He might mention one more name—a noble Lord whose Administration he was sure deserved all praise; but still there were certain feelings in the breasts of all men—he might mention Lord Besborough. He could go through a great number more; but these were the great landed proprietors of Ireland, known to the people of England, who had a narrow and exclusive Administration formed for the benefit of persons of this description; for the rest was "leather and prunella." This was the real Administration. There was a great number of persons on that bench for whom he had a personal regard; but he wrote them down as ciphers. The former were the real persons in the Cabinet, and were the persons who, in the face of the United Kingdom, countenanced 1032 those who had sent a deputation to the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) to try and frighten him, and to tell him they would not have an honest poor law for Ireland; and a very significant answer was given by the noble Lord—it was not like the noble Lord—it was by way of inuendo. He had always thought the noble Lord a brave man. That was the part of his character he liked. There was little else connected with the noble Lord with which he agreed. He thought he was a bold man, and possessed of civic courage; but what was the noble Lord's reply to a question which he had put to the noble Lord that night? "I cannot say what I shall do if the Poor Law Bill be rejected." He could tell the noble Lord what they (the House) would do; and he warned him that, if the Poor Law were rejected, they would throw out both Bills. He was certain of it, because he knew what the people of England thought of the matter. It was an off-hand sort of testy manner of answering a question, "I won't say what may happen; I can't say what I will do." He thought this was not well done on the part of the First Lord of the Treasury. But in a vital question, which involved the interests of commerce, the Cabinet was divided. They had the Chancellor of the Exchequer voting against the First Lord of the Treasury; and the whole Ministry reminded him of what a sailor had said of the old Agamemnon. He said she was in such a had condition when they took her into port, that when they took the water out of her she tumbled all to pieces. So the Ministry were merely held together by the confusion amongst their assailants; they were held on the top by the surging of their opponents, but when that disappeared they would fall to pieces. Could it be that on a question like that which had been debated a few nights since, one right hon. Gentleman should oppose the other; and now, on this question, he could not receive an answer from the noble Lord? But he could tell the noble Lord, he would not carry one of these Bills through, except he carried both through. His object was, that the people of Ireland should pay their proportion of the national expenses. He assumed that the majority of that House was in favour of the union of the two countries at present. It was to be assumed that the union existed for national purposes: then, of course, the national expenses should come from a common source. Why, then, should not a man in Ireland pay according to his means 1033 for this purpose as much as an Englishman? Now, mark what the Irish proprietors did. All those whose names he had mentioned were denizens of England, and paid their income tax here on the revenue they got from their Irish property. He would take Earl Fitzwilliam, for instance. The income tax was paid by him as much on his Irish property as on his English property. [An Hon. MEMBER: No, no!] Yes, yes; if the hon. Member would look into Schedule B, he would see that this was the case. He had looked into the subject, and was perfectly satisfied with the correctness of this. It was only common sense, that a man living in London should contribute to that tax; and why should not this be the case with a man living in Dublin? The right hon. Member for Tamworth always met a difficulty at the particular moment needed, and did so touching the case lightly. Like a lawyer in opening a case, he only stated just sufficient for his purpose. When the income tax was proposed, he asked whether they were to regard it as a temporary measure? and the right hon. Gentleman turned round to the House and smiled, and said how can you conceive but that it is intended to meet the peculiar circumstances? He, at that time, said, Don't believe a word of it, that it will only be continued for three years. The three years passed away; and the right hon. Gentleman, smiling still, again proposed to renew it for three years. These three years had not passed; but there could be very little doubt as to what would occur at the termination of that period. Everybody would find that the income tax would be continued for the rest of his natural life. There was not a young man in that House—and there were many young men there—who would not find that up to the time of his death he would have to pay the income tax. There was a cry out some time ago, because an additional tax was put on spirits in Ireland. He recollected that when this spirit tax was laid on, they were told it could not be levied; and certainly the next year saw its repeal. It had been suggested the year before that smuggling would so much increase, that they would be obliged to repeal it. The right hon. Gentleman then came down and used the general phrase which was so common in the House of Commons, that the matter was most difficult to deal with, in consequence of constant violation of the law. By such means they got rid of it. Why not get rid of the income tax? He had watched the career of the right hon. 1034 Gentleman for the last fifteen years; and the right hon. Gentleman, he was sure, was aware that the Government must be amenable to the feelings of the people of England; and he must know how completely contrary they were to the whole Irish system of government. He must know that there was no likelihood of repeal being attained unless by one course. It would be done by the effective common sense of the people of England, if the attempt were persisted in of endeavouring to get from them the means of maintaining a large population. The state of that population was well worthy of a great statesman's consideration; of a man who looked to the great motives of human action, and who would pursue such a course as to convert them into such a population as they had now to deal with in this island. He must convert the Irishman, who did not know the pleasure of independence, into the Englishman, who had the feeling not to submit to dependence. When they found an Irishman rising from the lower ranks of life, he looked forward, not to his own self-maintenance by independent industry, but he looked either to obtain a maintenance from the State, or support from the great man of the district. It was quite extraordinary for him to pursue a different course. It was, then, the duty of a Minister to meet this difficulty, but not by that most preposterous step taken by the noble Lord of casting most lavishly—dangerously lavishly, and even criminally lavishly—to the people of Ireland not less than 8,000,000l. He said criminally lavishly, for the consequence of this proceeding would be that the year 1847 would be succeeded by the more terrible year 1848. There were millions looking for maintenance from England; and as they knew that they got it in 1847, they would not look to the harvest for their support next year. They said, while England was wealthy, and possessed the means of supporting them, what necessity was there to do such a thing as to endeavour to provide for their own subsistence? No greater fault was ever committed by a statesman than by doing that which had been done, and thus having the whole population of a country careless of producing the fruits of the earth by which they might be maintained. In the whole history of mankind there was no parallel case; there was nothing like it from Genesis downward, to that which now prevailed, of 8,000,0000 of people being fed by England, and utterly dependent on 1035 her. If, unhappily, after next harvest there should be a recurrence of this state of things, he saw that there must be most awful misfortunes for England and Ireland. He said, without hesitation, that England now called forth the admiration of the world. But this would not be the case if such a course were persisted in, for the people would soon see the whole of their resources squandered away. There was a feeling of pride in the good people of England, which would not let them tell their distresses, instead, of always coming forward and saying "give me relief." There was a feeling of honour which shamed them from asking. He addressed himself to the representatives of that great nation, and he would ask them whether they were prepared to sacrifice the independence and the resources of the people of this country for the landed aristocracy of Ireland? Was it not to sacrifice this great people, if they did not take one step to make the landed proprietors and all the property in Ireland liable to a due proportion for the expenses of the State? Let each man contribute according to his means in both countries. Let them resolve that all those with incomes above 150l. a year were in a condition to give something towards the support of the national establishments. He would appeal to hon. Gentlemen, and would suggest to them that it would not be long before this nation would be called upon to pass judgment on their acts; and in spite of all temporary excuses they would have to stand before the nation, and would be asked what they had done for the people of England? They would answer, that they had squandered on the idle, that they had thrown away on those who neglected their duty, and that they had paid the Irish poor 8,000,000l. because the landlords were unwilling to do anything, and the people with property recoiled from giving any aid. They must be so prepared to meet their constituents if they did not vote with him. The hon. and learned Member concluded with moving as an Amendment—That any plans of relief for the distress of the Irish Poor, by means of loans to the owners of property in Ireland, would be unjust and impolitic, unless accompanied by a system of taxation which would subject such property to the burdens already imposed on all property throughout Great Britain.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Sir, although the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Bath has been marked by even 1036 more than his accustomed ability, yet I must confess I have listened to it with the deepest regret. I came down to the House this evening prepared to discuss one of the most important of the measures which Her Majesty's Government have thought fit to submit to the Legislature, at a period when the utmost anxiety is alive to the distress now prevailing in Ireland; and I think it is but a bad preface to this discussion if we are to be involved in a debate replete with topics of anger, and in which general invectives and comparisons between the Celt and the Saxon are likely to be employed between hon. Members on either side of the House. I regret this much, and much more the sentiments that have been expressed by the hon. and learned Member, for words pronounced within these walls are winged words; they will be carried to a country where there is suffering from extreme poverty and famine; and where there are not wanting people too apt to make use of that suffering to widen whatever breach there may be between England and Ireland—people who would be glad to point to this House and to England as the source of misery of Ireland—I regret, under these circumstances, that the hon. Gentleman should have thought fit to deliver the speech which we have just heard; and I rise principally for the purpose of persuading the House (or, at least, of endeavouring to persuade the House) not to allow themselves to be drawn into a discussion of the topics which the hon. Gentleman has introduced into his speech; but, on the contrary, to apply themselves to considering the important measure which the Government has submitted to the House. If, in truth, on every Irish Bill which is brought before this House we are to resume a debate on the Union; on the distinction of Celt and Saxon; on taxation, and other subjects—I own I shall despair of the House being able to mature any of the important measures which will be submitted to them; and must protest, on the part of the Government, against such a proceeding, for the Session will otherwise pass away without our being able to obtain a fair discussion on any important measures. With regard to the proposal of the hon. Gentleman, it is hardly necessary for me to employ my time in asking this House not to accede to such a proposition. I will not, therefore, enter on the general question, whether or not Ireland should bear her share of taxation. I am quite 1037 prepared to admit, as a general princiciple, that she ought to do so; but at a period of unexampled distress in Ireland, when the first question of paramount importance is in what way best to keep the people from starving, that is not the time at once for saddling her with assessed taxes and a property tax. The hon. Gentleman has accused the Government of criminally lavishing and wasting 8,000,000l. of money in employing the people of Ireland. Now, I have never disguised from the House that the Government expenditure has caused a great deal of mischief; and it is impossible for the Government to undertake that which it is out of the ordinary functions of a Government to perform without doing mischief. The Government have endeavoured to employ and feed the people of Ireland, and it is impossible for them to do this without producing great concomitant mischief. I have never disguised, as to the Labour-rate Act, as introduced by the late Government, and as modified by the present Government, that from that have arisen great abuses—nay, more, that they are even now spreading; as there surely will be abuses under the other measure which the Government have introduced as a substitute—viz., the Bill to facilitate the supply of food to the destitute. I cannot disguise from myself that even that measure will produce great abuses, for it is not more possible for a Government to feed than to employ the people. But, what alternative was there? Without raising our hands we should have permitted hundreds of thousands, ay, millions, to suffer from famine and pestilence. Sir, a man who could have given any other counsel than for us to relieve them, must be a man who had not a heart of flesh in his bosom. And that is the only justification I can make for supporting the measure. The hon. Gentleman has adverted to what fell from the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the connexion of the Irish Poor Law and the Bill now before the House; and the hon. Gentleman seems surprised that the noble Lord has not answered the question put to him. What the hon. Gentleman has said of my noble Friend, I think is very true, for he is a bold man and a bold Minister; but I must say one of the virtues of a Minister ought to be discretion as well as boldness. My noble Friend has full reliance and confidence, and justly so, on the propriety of this measure, and fully expects the House 1038 will pass it into law; but my noble Friend conceives there is a close connexion between these measures, and wishes to send them in company to the other House of Parliament. I will not trouble the House any further, it being my principal inducement in rising to dissuade the House from being drawn into the discussion to which the hon. Gentleman has invited them; for, if they are, then this night will be thrown away—much worse than thrown away—it will have been spent for a very mischievous purpose. The situation of Ireland is very critical, and ought to be considered with sobriety, and ought to be discussed by a truce to those angry passions, which never lead to any good. I hope, then, the Members of this House, whether Irish or English, will approach this great subject in a proper spirit. I am as opposed to the repeal of the Union as any man in this House; and as to Celt or Saxon, I only wish to see these two compounded into one great nation; for without that we cannot fill the place in the world we ought to fill, but we cannot do this by harping on topics of this kind. I have been induced to say more than I had intended when I rose, but I hope the House will not continue this discussion, and allow you, Sir, to leave the chair.
§ MR. SHAW
had hoped, with the right hon. Gentleman, that they might have been permitted to proceed to the business of the night, without the interruption of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Roebuck), and that in pursuance of the arrangement of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, they might at once have entered upon the consideration of the measures for the permanent improvement of Ireland. Theretofore, since the commencement of the Session, they had been engaged in passing only temporary measures of relief; and, despite the accusation of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he felt that he might say, on behalf of the Irish Members, that they had thrown no impediments in the way of the Government in passing such temporary measures, or in imposing such charges on Irish property as the Government desired to meet the present calamitous emergency. They had fully acknowledged, likewise, the splendid liberality of the English people for the same purpose. He had hoped that they had successfully repelled the unmerited obloquy which the hon. and learned Gentleman and some Members of that House had attempted to cast upon the Irish resident landlords— 1039 and upon that night he had anticipated that the acrimony and personal invective which had too much characterized their preliminary discussions, would have given place to a different spirit. A sore famine was in the land; and while they might hope that, under God's blessing, the means taken might stay the hand of death, and alleviate the national suffering, he trusted that they would have proceeded calmly and dispassionately to consider the measures of a permanent character which the Government had submitted for developing the resources of the country, and ameliorating the future condition of the people. But such a course was not pleasing to the hon. and learned Gentleman; and he had returned with more than his usual acerbity to vituperate the representatives, the landlords, and the resident gentry of Ireland. The hon. and learned Gentleman had detailed to them the accusations of two Roman Catholic clergymen against the whole resident gentry of the neighbourhood of Mallow. He would not stand up there to defend such unfeeling conduct as was imputed to them; but in the absence of their names, and the circumstances of the alleged refusal to contribute anything to the relief of the poor, he doubted the accuracy of the statement, and would beg of the House to suspend their judgment until the persons alluded to should have the opportunity of hearing and refuting the charges brought against them. He deprecated those anonymous and sweeping accusations, and wished the hon. and learned Gentleman had mentioned the names of the individuals to whom he had referred. The hon. and learned Gentleman stated that when these clerical gentlemen assured him that the representatives of Ireland in no way spoke the sentiments of Ireland, that the hon. and learned Gentleman religiously believed them, he could only say that although the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed so frequently to mistake himself for the people of England, he as religiously believed that the hon. and learned Gentleman did not represent their sentiments. The hon. and learned Gentleman exhibited his kindness to the poor of Ireland only by his bitterness towards the rich—his benevolence to the tenants, by his pholosophical malevolence towards their landlords. The hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition was, that any plans of relief for the distress of the Irish poor, by means of advances for the improvement of landed property in Ireland, would be un- 1040 just and impolitic, unless accompanied by a system of taxation which would subject such property to the burdens already imposed upon all property throughout Great Britain. He freely admitted the general principle, that it was desirable that the same laws, the same customs, the same habits, and the same system of taxation should prevail in every part of the United Kingdom. But to legislate wisely, they must, in applying general principles, have reference also to circumstances, and could not overlook the relative condition of the different portions of the empire, in respect to which it might be proposed to assimilate legislation. There were a few leading statistical facts which bore upon the question, to which, without dwelling on them, he would beg shortly to call the attention of the House. They would be found in official documents, of which the House were in possession. England was a rich and a manufacturing country. Ireland, at present (for he admitted her great undeveloped resources), a poor, and essentially an agricultural country. Compare them, however, in an agricultural point of view alone. The population of Great Britain was little more than double that of Ireland. The cultivated land in Great Britain was estimated at 34,000,000, in Ireland, at about 14,000,000 of acres. In Great Britain, the annual value of agricultural produce at 150,000,000l.; in Ireland, at about 36,000,000l.; in Ireland there were a greater number of labourers absolutely than in the whole of Great Britain—more than double the number of labourers relatively to cultivated land—more than four times the number of labourers relatively to produce. In Great Britain, labourer's wages averaged from 8s. to 10s. per week; in Ireland, from 2s. to 2s. 6d. The net income of British landlords was estimated at about 70,000,000l., that of Irish landlords at about 6,000,000l. Take as a sample a county in each. The county of Norfolk, in England, and of Mayo in Ireland, were about the same in size and population, viz., population about 400,000, acreage about 1,300,000; while the rental of Norfolk was estimated at 2,000,000l. annually—that of Mayo at 326,000l. The annual revenue contributed by Great Britain about 44,000,000l.—that of Ireland about 4,000,000l. In Ireland, it was estimated that there were about two millions and a half of persons, in ordinary times, having no reference to the present calamity, in a state of destitution, and about as 1041 many more that would be considered in England as entitled to poor-law relief. Bear in mind, also, that they had already during the present Session imposed a charge upon the land of Ireland that might be roughly estimated at about 5,000,000l. of money. He would not then stop to draw inferences from those facts, which he only mentioned in answer to the hon. and learned Gentleman, but which he begged the House to recollect while engaged in the discussions upon which they then were entering. There was one inference, however, against which he would wish to guard himself, namely, that he desired to withdraw the property of Ireland from its just liabilities; he fully acknowledged the maxim quoted by the hon. and learned Gentleman—that property had its duties as well as its rights, and that ultimately the property must support the poverty of the country; but Ireland could not do it in her present condition. The object that the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to have in view, to destroy one class—the so-called rich in Ireland—would indeed be of easy accomplishment. He considered the true interests of all classes—the rich and the poor, the landlord and the tenant—to be inseparable; and the means by which the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to injure the landlords, he had no doubt would swallow up all classes in one common gulf of pauperism and ruin. But he would not, for a moment, imagine that the gratuitous injury of any class, or any portion of the empire, would be the principle of legislation in that House; he trusted, on the contrary, that they would conduct their deliberations, for the permanent welfare of Ireland, in a spirit that became the Imperial Parliament, when legislating for what he hoped ever would be an integral portion of the United Kingdom. His hon. Friend near him (Mr. Smith O'Brien) said, he (Mr. Shaw) would soon change that sentiment; but he thought otherwise, notwithstanding the provocation of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But when the hon. and learned Gentleman talked so lightly of cutting away Ireland from that country, and letting her drift to her own destruction; let him not deceive himself—the hon. and learned Gentleman might injure or destroy one class of her inhabitants, but he could not annihilate them all; and he might depend upon it that, for weal or for woe, the destinies of the one country must ever be indissolubly linked with those of the other.
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNELL
was desirous of conceding to the wish of the right hon. Gentleman; but he felt imperatively called upon to make some observations in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Bath. With respect to the address of the hon. Member for Bath, which was listened to with such perfect attention, he did not wish to create any ill feeling; but still he could not help observing that some of the strong sentiments which fell from the hon. Member were received by a party in that House in a very different manner to which they attended to the mild address of the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath had commenced his speech by stating that he was not much affected by the sort of compliments that had been passed by the hon. Members from Ireland during the late discussions, and that he would not retaliate by any offensive expressions; yet he had shortly afterwards charged the Irish Members with uttering nonsense, instead of attending to their business or offering any practical suggestions. And one thing in particular the hon. and learned Member had said, to which he (Mr. J. O'Connell) had felt disposed at first to have replied rather warmly, but on consideration he would not. It was in reference to the Repealers, in speaking of whom the hon. Gentleman had said that they were striving to cut the connexion between the two countries; but he warned them to take care lest the English people, growing tired of those continual calls upon them, should themselves cut the connexion, and set Ireland adrift. He retorted upon the hon. Member, and denied that the Irish Repealers sought to sever the connexion between the countries. He denied any such treasonable intent on their parts. But it was the hon. Gentleman who had given utterance to treasonable sentiments; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman asserted that the Irish Repealers desired only to see the connexion between the countries cut, he should feel it his duty to give such an assertion the shortest and the plainest answer in denial that the English language could suggest. The hon. Member for Bath also said that the Repealers had made no practical suggestion for the alleviation of the calamities that had fallen upon their country. But what suggestions had the English Members or the English press made? For five months past, the Economist newspaper had been promising its great remedy for the evils of Ireland. They had been looking with deep interest 1043 for its panacea, and at length, within the last week, it came out with the assertion that just nothing should be done for Ireland, and that she should be left to perish. He denied that the Repealers had offered no practical suggestions. When they saw the famine and misery approaching, they called out loudly to the Government to supply the people with food. They said that not the principles of a cold political economy, but those of warm charity, should be carried out, and they implored them not to leave the people to perish. Had their suggestion been attended to, the people would not have been drawn away from their private industrial employment, and there would not now be 700,000 of them engaged upon the public works. The Repealers had also called upon the Government to send home the absentees. A measure that would effect that object would confer far more benefit on the country than any other the hon. Member had suggested. As to the objections made by the Irish proprietors to the Poor Law Bill for that country, they had good reason to object to it. They had hitherto constantly seen the English people seeking for the amendment of the English poor law, and that House trying constantly to amend it. They had seen the English never able hitherto to carry their own poor law into effect, and yet they had the management of their own business in their own hands. They had succeeded in making the condition of the pauper in England worse and less desirable than that of the labourer; but they could not do that in Ireland. And he warned the hon. Member who so strenuously supported the Irish poor law, that it would be completely nullified by the amendments that were about to be proposed in that House. However, for the sake of the partial benefits which it might confer, he would give it his support. Another subject on which the hon. Member had touched was the question of levying the income and property taxes upon Ireland; and he had expressed a desire to know why it was that the right hon. Baronet had not placed an income tax upon that country when the spirit tax had failed to be as productive as had been expected? Why, the reason was simply because, as many Ministers had before declared, that the country had arrived at the highest taxing point. They had discovered that it could bear no more, and that if more were demanded it could not be obtained. There was evidence of that in the fact, 1044 that when by the assimilation of the Stamps Act, they expected to have increased the revenue from 170,000l., which had been theretofore yielded, by 160,000l. more, the result showed 52,000l. short of what had been expected to be the increase. If the hon. Member began to compare the habits of the people of the two countries, he would ask him—not then, for that was not the time nor the fit occasion—but upon another and more suitable occasion he would ask the hon. Member what was it that caused the Irish people to appear (if, as the hon. Member had said, they appeared to be) indolent, lazy, or idle? And he would undertake to answer the question himself, and to prove that it was owing to the misgovernment to which they had been subjected by England. But it was a most unfounded statement to allege that it was the peculiarity of the Irish character to be indolent or to do nothing. Their manufactures had been destroyed, and all their industrial energies kept down by the legislation to which they had been subjected. The proofs were to be found in English books. They would find in a hook which an Englishman, Mr. Wiggins, had written some two or three years ago, giving an account of the state and condition of Ireland, that the moment a poor man made any improvement upon his land or holding, his rent was increased, and he was at once deprived of the value of his labour and capital. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Hear, hear!] He understood the cheer of the hon. Gentleman. He knew that it was the act of the Irish landlord; but who was it that had the power to remedy the evil, and refused to do so? Why, that Parliament in which Irish Gentlemen, night after night, were obliged to listen to the slanders that were uttered against them. The hon. Member for Bath said that Irish gentlemen came over here, and availed themselves of their freedom from the assessed and other taxes. But the Irish gentlemen did not want to come over here at all, if they might be allowed to manage their own affairs. And if they were still to be forced from their homes, and from their occupations, it was too bad that they should be made the objects of attack in a hostile House of Commons every night, and by a hostile press every morning. Let those Irish gentlemen who came over here be taxed, however, if the House chose; but let them hear some sound argument before another tax were imposed upon their unfortunate country. Was the hon. Member 1045 aware that if a property tax were imposed upon Ireland, it would not be the landed gentry or great proprietors alone who would be the payers, but that it would fall most heavily upon the struggling and industrious middle classes. It would be those people who would be most heavily amerced by such a tax; and the effect of it would be the prevention of the rising up of that very middle class, which was so much desired in that House. Such a course would be unwise as well as unjust. That was not the occasion, or he would show that the evils of Ireland were attributable to the Union. But he would take an opportunity of proving it—of showing how the Union had worked, and how badly Ireland had been treated by it, and since its enactment. The hon. Member for Bath had, he presumed, the honourable ambition of being considered a sound constitutional lawyer, and as such would maintain the principle that taxation should be founded upon representation. Now, the exclusive taxation of England to which Ireland was not subjected, was not equal to one-fourth of the entire taxation of the empire. So that the proportion of the taxation of Ireland, as compared with England, was as three to four, whilst the representation was in the proportion of one to five and a half, or six. Would the hon. and learned Gentleman defend such a position? The hon. and learned Gentleman had complained of the harsh language used by some Gentlemen in speaking of what had been done for Ireland by this country; but was no allowance to be made for those who were resident amongst the unfortunate people, and who were daily witnesses of the distressed, the famishing condition of the poor? Was no allowance to be made for their excited feelings, when they were daily stung by the harassing scenes before them, whilst they were at the same time conscious that were there a Parliament in Ireland, such events could not have happened? Were they not at least justified in stating their belief that those evils were attributable to the Act of Union? and if they were betrayed into the use of strong language, was there to be no allowance made for them—no recollection held of the dreadful situation in which they were placed, amongst scenes almost enough to shako reason from her throne? Whenever the hon. Gentleman was ready to go into the question, he was ready to meet him in the House upon it, and to prove all that he had alleged against the Union—to prove 1046 that he was right in attributing all the evils of his country to it, and to show that, under its influence, Ireland was unduly taxed. He would not ask the hon. Member to meet him fairly, for he did not expect fairness from the hon. Member; but he would pledge himself to prove his assertions when the question came fairly before the House. It was nonsense to say that the welfare of one country, arrived at by means of honourable industry, could ever be incompatible with the welfare of another.
MR. H. J. BAILLIE
said, that a more indisputable proposition could not have been uttered than that the land of a country ought to sustain the population; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bath was very much mistaken if he thought that the condition of Ireland was to be settled by the enunciation of an abstract proposition. They would find that there were many parts of Ireland where the land could not sustain the population; and the question then was—how was the population of such districts to be maintained? So long as the people of Ireland were accustomed to subsist on the potato, the land was able to sustain the entire population, and to send large quantities of its produce besides to this country. But if by a dispensation of Divine Providence they were deprived of that sustenance altogether, it became a question of very great doubt whether the soil of Ireland could sustain its population. He knew, as he had before stated, that there were many parts which could not do so, and that incapacity could not be cured by the enactment of the most stringent poor law. He had himself brought under the notice of the House a few days ago the condition of the people in the Isle of Skye, which might serve as an illustration of the condition of Ireland. The entire produce of the land might possibly sustain the whole population of the country for six months; the whole rent derived by the landlords would not sustain them for two months more; and how then were they to be sustained for the other four months of the year? The House had some experience of the character of the Irish people; they know how prone they were to take advantage of any mistakes in legislation. They all saw how they had taken advantage of the crude and mistaken legislation of the last Session; and it showed how necessary it was to be cautious in what they were about. The hon. Gentleman behind him, the Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. 1047 Stafford O'Brien) had said that he was prepared to accept for Ireland the English poor law clause by clause, and he was cheered for the sentiment; but he (Mr. Baillie) would advise him to be cautious, and to adopt in preference some law more analogous to that which existed in Scotland. If they found hereafter that the plan was insufficient, it would always be in their power to amend it, and to make it more stringent; but if they were to establish the English system in Ireland, they would not have it in their power to recede, and the result might be, that the landed proprietors would be overwhelmed by the innate mass of pauperism which existed in that country. He, therefore, recommended the House not to establish in Ireland a law which might have heretofore worked well in England, but was not likely to suit the widely different condition of the other country.
§ MR. HUME,
judging by what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had spoken last, really doubted whether he had read the words of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Bath. The hon. Gentleman had risen, and made a speech quite irrelevant to the question, and had attributed to the hon. Member for Bath the sustainment of a poor law as the panacea for Ireland, alleging that the hon. Member's panacea would not be found to answer. Now, the hon. Member for Bath was of opinion that a good system of poor law was necessary for Ireland; but he was not then putting it forward or setting up any measure of the kind. He was only asserting the policy and necessity of taxing the property of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman was in error in citing the Isle of Skye as an example. He stated that the whole property of the country would not be found sufficient to support the poor. But if the potato crop had failed, he (Mr. Hume) presumed there was other produce; and did the hon. Gentleman mean to say that he would sanction such a system as that England should send assistance to the Isle of Skye, but that the proprietors were to be freed from paying the same amount of taxation as the people of England? What the hon. Member for Bath said was—let them have an equal scale of charges, and let the Irish proprietors pay the same proportion of taxation to the State as the English proprietors. As to the hon. Gentleman's assertion that there were parts of the country which could not support the poor, he could only reply that he was in- 1048 formed, on what he must say was very good authority, that there was not a single poor-law union in Ireland that could not support its poor. He (Mr. Hume) believed that the money which had been advanced to Ireland had worked mischievously; and that if one-tenth part only of it had been given, and judiciously expended, the country would not now be in such a state. The question they had then before them was, the propriety of advancing 500,000l. more, in addition to the million already advanced, making 1,500,000l. in all. That was the question, and he thought the hon. Member for Bath had made out a clear case. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, in which he attributed all the evils of Ireland, with the mere exception, of course, of the recent failure of the potato crop to the misgovernment of the country, he entirely agreed with him. He himself himself had stood up alone in the House twenty-five years before and had said so. He had brought his proofs before the House, but they had as little effect upon it as if he had cast them into the water. The majority was resolved to keep Ireland down. And he should say that he had no sympathy now for Irish proprietors, when he recollected, that it was they who had chiefly opposed him, and had said they were the persons who held the greater part of the land of Ireland, and they were accountable for it. They knew best what ought to be done for it, and their opinions ought to be taken as final. If the blame were justly due to Englishmen, he would say they ought to be severely dealt with; and if they could prove the fact against those who had caused the evil by their misgovernment and injustice, it ought to be visited upon them. But they had passed away. As to the future, he could not see why, if Irishmen had the same laws, and were taxed alike with Englishmen, Ireland should not be equally prosperous with England. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had asked what alternative had been left the Government last year? He would answer that they had been advised not to disturb the industry of the country, to be cautious what they did, and to give no money except for labour. They had been advised not to apply the money and the labour to the making of useless and mischievous roads, but to expend them upon the cultivation of the soil, and the improvement of the land. On these grounds he would support the Motion of his hon. Friend. He 1049 understood that it was his hon. Friend's intention to take the sense of the House on the subject, and in that case he would certainly divide with him. He took it for granted that his hon. Friend had pointed out an unjust and unfair state of things in the condition of Ireland, and he should be glad to hear any reason stated why that state should continue.
§ SIR R. PEEL
There is one part of this important question which has not yet been discussed; and if we should proceed to its full and complete discussion, I do not see any reason to believe that we should very soon get into Committee on the Bill. Eight or ten nights' debate would be hardly sufficient for such a purpose. My own opinion is, that neither is this the fitting occasion for discussing the general fiscal burdens borne by Ireland, nor the time at which we could advantageously consider any proposition for their increase. I do not think that this is a convenient time to occupy our attention with questions respecting that proportion of general or local taxation which Ireland is called upon to bear; but that we should, on the contrary, labour to discover and put into practice the best modes of giving to the population of that country sufficient employment and relief. It is impossible for any one not to perceive that the question before us is a question of the very highest importance. What is it that the hon. Member proposes? It is this: that before we advance certain sums by way of loan to the landlords of Ireland, for the purpose of enabling them to improve their estates, and in that manner give employment to the people, we should enter into a resolution to this effect, that—Any plans of relief for the distress of the Irish poor by means of loans to the owners of property in Ireland, would be unjust and impolitic, unless accompanied by a system of taxation which would subject such property to the burdens already imposed upon all property throughout Great Britain.These are the words of the hon. Member's Motion. Now, if I assent to that proposition in a manner however unqualified, the real practical difficulty will not, by any such vote, be solved. In the first place, I should, by subscribing to that proposition, declare that the land in Ireland should in future be subjected to the same burdens as were borne by the land in Great Britain. But I am not sure that the burdens borne by property in Scotland are identical with the burdens which property bears in England and Wales. Which will you se- 1050 lect? Will you take the burdens as they are here, or as they are in Scotland? The Bill proposes to grant certain sums by way of loan to the proprietors of certain lands in Ireland. Surely, to propose the imposition of certain additional burdens upon these lands, is not the most expedient mode of following up that proposition. The hon. Member for Montrose appeared to be alarmed at the fact, that at the present moment 700,000 men are employed by the Government upon the public works in Ireland; and, though in due time that number might be diminished, yet every one must feel that for the present it was a measure of great relief; and few persons, I imagine, will be disposed seriously to doubt, that the advance of loans to landlords, to be by them hereafter repaid, can prove otherwise than advantageous to the people of Ireland, as the means of employment and sustenance. The purpose of such loans obviously is to furnish the landlords with the means of cultivating and improving the soil, and therefore of giving to the people sufficient and continued employment. Then, I ask the House, is it desirable that Parliament, in granting those means, should accompany the grant with a declaration that—Any plans of relief for the distress of the Irish people by means of loans to the owners of property in Ireland, would be unjust and impolitic, unless accompanied by a system of taxation which would subject such property to the burdens already imposed upon all property throughout Great Britain.Now, I want to know how you propose to act upon that declaration? Suppose twenty land proprietors propose to borrow each 100,000l.; do you intend to impose the property tax upon each of those borrowers, and upon no other of the Irish proprietors? If not, what regulations do you mean to apply to those landed proprietors? I conceive that the Motion does not admit of any other construction. I wish to learn whether or not it is intended by this proposition to declare that the borrowers of these loans shall be subject to the income tax? ["Yes"] Those who receive the loans to the exclusion of others? ["No"] What can be the meaning of the proposition? Its words are these—that "unless the proposed loans be accompanied by a system of taxation, which would subject such property to the burdens already imposed on all property throughout Great Britain." Would it be just if ten individuals borrowed from the Government a sum of 100,000l., that they alone, of all the people in Ireland, 1051 should pay income tax? Again, if only ten persons borrow, will you, for that offence of theirs, levy the income tax on all the people of Ireland? [Mr. EOEBUCK: Yes on all.] I must say, that by this way of treating the subject, you diminish the real importance of the question before the House. If we are to have the income tax in Ireland, let us have it upon great national grounds. If we make a property tax dependent on the advance of money to landlords for the improvement of their estates, I think we are not doing justice to the magnitude of the question. Discuss the question involved in the hon. and learned Member's proposition separately; let it be brought distinctly and substantially before the House. But to say that to make the application of the income and property tax to the Irish people depend upon the mere fact of advancing loans of money to particular individuals, is, I submit, calculated to prejudice the discussion of the principle of equalising the taxation upon each portion of the United Kingdom, and is not to do justice to the magnitude of the question itself. The House must observe that I am not now contesting the principle laid down by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. I know that the question is accompanied by many difficulties, and it ought not to be introduced in its present shape, but should be submitted to the consideration of the House by a substantive resolution, namely, whether the same burdens ought to be imposed upon Ireland as were imposed upon this country? I shall, however, never consent to a resolution making it a condition upon the borrowing of money under this Bill, that the income tax shall be imposed upon Ireland. I will reserve the power of considering the propriety of applying the income tax to that country when the subject comes properly before us. This question stands altogether upon a different ground; and we are diminishing the value of such an important subject by seeking to attach the principle to such a Bill as is now before them. In affirming such a proposition, by which it is intended to impose the income tax upon a certain portion of the Irish proprietors, I diminish the claims which I might otherwise prefer as to the property generally of that country. I need scarcely remind the House, that advances of money by way of loan for making turnpike roads in Ireland have been formerly made; and I see no reason why advances for the improvement of estates may not now be made without imposing an income 1052 tax at the same time. I will not say that we are precluded from going into this question of taxation at a future time, in any manner which circumstances may require. The principle of the measure now about to be considered will not be any bar to future arrangement, and to a consideration of the subject hereafter; in a fiscal point of view, I do not see any objection. I see no reason why we should not hereafter give a full consideration to the question; but I see very strong objections to prejudicing just views of the subject, and diminishing our chance of future arrangements. I object to deciding abstract questions, or raising difficulties which might have to be solved before we got into Committee. I am adverse to the discussion of abstract principles, though, as I have already said, I am perfectly ready to go into the whole question, but not in its present shape. I must, therefore, decline to give any support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
I stated so fully the other night my objections to the imposition of new taxes upon Ireland during her present circumstances, that I should hardly have thought it would be necessary for me to say anything this evening, had the hon. and learned Member confined himself to the subject of his resolution. But though he went out of that subject into others that had no connexion with it, he omitted many arguments that he might have used. He launched out, as the House must remember, into a variety of other subjects when he directed his observations against the Irish people, against the Irish proprietors, and against the Ministers of the Crown. The House has heard from the hon. Member several ingenious sarcasms, but yet they do not seem to have contributed much to advance the argument respecting the expediency of imposing an income or property tax on those Irish proprietors who may borrow money under this Bill. Every one will be ready to acknowledge that there are abundance of arguments upon that subject, which might be urged at great length if this were the proper time; but the only rational arguments which can be brought into this discussion, are such as naturally connect themselves with the state of Ireland. It is well known that while direct taxes were imposed upon Ireland, the indirect taxes levied in that country were less productive, and attention was called to this state of the subject by my noble Friend, Lord Sydenham, who 1053 very fairly accounted for that result by showing that the consumption of taxed articles in Ireland was cramped by the pressure of direct taxes. But among the statements made by the hon. and learned Member, there is one which I think shows that he entirely misapprehends the grounds on which I propose that the Bill now before the House, and the Bill for the permanent relief of the Irish poor, should pass together through this House. I do not propose that the measures should go together, because while we confer on the one hand what is considered a boon to the landed proprietors, we are entitled to impose a burden or a penalty on the other hand. That is not the ground on which they are put together; but because we think it is more desirable that the population, a great part of which will be unable to live in future on the produce of the small plots of potato ground on which they have hitherto subsisted, should find other means of occupation; and I know no better means of giving them that occupation than by encouraging the improvement of the land, and thereby increasing the employment of labour. I do think every measure which tends to increase the produce of the country, tends to employ the people at the same time. While this would be the effect of it, I doubt whether it would confer all the benefits which might be expected if it be not, at the same time, accompanied by a Bill which obliges the owners of property to support those who are starving. I believe that in laying this burden of maintaining their own poor on the landowners on the one hand, and on the other giving them the means of improving the cultivation of the soil, will cause them more readily to embrace every means of giving greater employment to labour than otherwise. On this ground it is most desirable that the Poor Law Bill should accompany the present Bill. With regard to that poor law, which imposes considerable burdens on the owners of property in Ireland, burdens which will amount to three or four times as much as they have hitherto paid, I must say that we ought to endeavour to enable the proprietors to bear those burdens. One of the best means is to enable the proprietors to obtain loans on terms which they would otherwise be unable to get, by the support of Government. Another mode is to enable the landed proprietors whose rents are eaten up by mortgages to sell part of their lands, and place themselves in the position of having smaller 1054 nominal incomes, but incomes free from incumbrances; while the persons who purchase the land enable it to bear the burdens imposed on it by the application of capital and improvements. I think that all these improvements should accompany each other; and I look for considerable beneficial effects from their united action. I will not touch on the various other subjects which have been alluded to; but I will state to the House what is now doing with respect to the Labour-rate Act. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) has just expressed great alarm at the fact that 700,000 persons are employed on the public works. I should not have felt myself justified, neither could the Government of Ireland, in stopping the employment of the people in their present state of destitution, until some other means of support were provided. But measures having passed the House for the temporary relief of this destitution, the Government will be enabled to reduce the numbers on the public works; and indeed, as appears from a letter received by the Secretary of State, the numbers are beginning to be greatly diminished. The neglect of the tillage of the soil has been much spoken of, but I do not think any great harm has yet been done; at the same time, no doubt, this is the time that the ploughing and sowing ought to take place. This is the favourable time to get the labourers off the public works; and, perhaps, the House will feel some interest in a portion of a letter which I will read, from a person whose name I will not quote, but who is thoroughly acquainted with the condition of Ireland, and that of the poorer classes in that country. [The noble Lord read an extract from the letter to which he referred, in which the writer observed, that during the last twenty years the potato deluge had swept away from Ireland all other food, but he had now the satisfaction to state that joint-stock companies were in course of formation which issued printed instructions for the cultivation of oats, barley, and potatoes, and that the sowing and planting of these was now proceeding very rapidly. It was true that the very destitute could not plant potatoes extensively; but many persons above want were at the present moment planting potatoes largely with a view to profit in the course of the next winter, and that in the meanwhile the population, viewing this grievous calamity as one of the dispensations of Heaven, bore with resignation the sufferings which they were called 1055 upon to endure, and, in patient reliance upon the mercy of Almighty God, that most religious people bore the extremity of famine with exemplary patience and fortitude.] That letter is written in a spirit with which it is impossible not to sympathize. When the writer speaks of the resignation and patience with which the people of Ireland have endured their sufferings, he does them no more than justice. I think, then, that upon a subject such as this, our bickerings ought to cease. The English have their faults and their virtues, the Irish have faults and virtues of a different kind. Our duty, then, is to cherish each other, and mutually render the support which circumstances may demand, without seeking to decry or depreciate just claims on either side.
MR. SMITH O'BRIEN
said, he did not rise for the purpose of bandying compliments with the hon. Member for Bath. He believed that nothing would gratify that hon. Member more than showing him that his speech had ruffled his (Mr. S. O'Brien's) temper; and so far from such being the case, he was rather inclined to thank the hon. Member for the ardour which he had devoted to promoting a cause which he (Mr. S. O'Brien) warmly advocated. He believed the hon. Member had done more latterly to advance the repeal question than any other individual whatever. He did not think, however, that he was at liberty to pass in silence a challenge that the hon. Member had thrown out. The hon. Member spoke of the advocates for repeal coming of late with bated breath and whining tones, asking England for a continuance of the Union. He utterly repudiated any such notion; and, on the contrary, he would say that every hour of this awful year, and every day that he sat in that Parliament, only convinced him more and more of the necessity of a domestic Parliament for Ireland; and he would peril all he was worth in the world to obtain a repeal of the Union next week. As to the question before the House, he should tax the noble Lord and his Colleagues as being the cause why they had not an efficient poor law for Ireland. In 1837, 1838, and 1843, he divided that House on the subject of out-door relief in Ireland, but he was on each occasion outvoted by overwhelming majorities. He was as willing as the hon. Member to maintain that property had its duties, as well as its rights; but he believed that Irish proprietors during the present season had done more than 1056 ever was done in this country. After all, who were the landed proprietors of Ireland? As had been well said in a recent publication, they were "the Saxon civilizers" of Ireland. When the hon. Gentleman talked of the Mallow landlord, who gave that food to keep his seventy hounds that ought to have maintained the people, he was fully prepared to join the hon. and learned Member in holding such persons up to the execration of the people. He was also prepared to pronounce the utmost amount of censure his expressions could convey on the board of guardians of the Castlebar union; but, at the same time, he could not shut his eyes to the fact, that in other parts of Ireland the greatest possible exertions were being made by boards of guardians and persons engaged in administering relief, often at the risk of their lives. Yet, when he heard such sweeping charges as were sometimes made in that House, and which were frequently to be seen in the papers, he almost doubted whether he ought to be ready to yield to the people of England that claim for magnanimity which the hon. and learned Member had attempted to place in so strong a light. He would, however, now come to the financial question; that which the hon. and learned Member had so studiously avoided, confining himself to sarcasms, and vituperation of the Irish landlords, in preference to discussing directly the question which he professed to have brought under the notice of the House. He thought the hon. Member for Kilkenny, indeed, had acted wisely in abstaining from going into that question, but postponing it to a future opportunity, as one not likely now to interest the House. Without entering at large into the subject, he might say that the national position of Ireland as to finance was this, that at the time of the Union England owed 446,000,000l. national debt, while Ireland owed only 28,000,000l; and there was a difference of taxation, in consequence of the debt of England, of between 15,000,000l. and 16,000,000l. sterling. Ireland saw no reason why, as the poorer country, she should be called on to pay for the consequences of the Act of Union. If the hon. and learned Member could show a fallacy in that argument, let him point it out; but he had not yet heard the question solved by any class of statesmen in that House. Let Ireland, he maintained, manage her own finances. Let Ireland pay the interest of her own debt. Let the people of Ireland be placed on this 1057 footing, and they would then at once get rid of the insolence of one class of the people of this country, and the benevolent feelings of the other.
§ MR. D. CALLAGHAN
felt compelled to notice what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Bath, as to a conversation he had had with two gentlemen whom he called Roman priests. [Mr. ROEBUCK: Roman Catholic priests.] Roman Catholic clergymen was the usual designation in this country, and there was something offensive in the other phrase as so applied. However, he had had the pleasure of seeing both those gentlemen, and he could bear testimony, equally with the hon. Member for Kilkenny, to the uprightness of their character. Those gentlemen had not come over as a general deputation, but for the purpose of stating and urging the claims of the poor of Ireland to extended relief. They had taken occasion to state what they considered to be instances of peculiar hardheartedness in some gentlemen in their particular neighbourhood. They had stated to him one case, in particular, of a gentleman at Mallow; and he (Mr. Callaghan) could have wished his hon. Friend who represented that town had said something on the subject, because it was more to his own immediate neighbourhood that the charge applied. Mallow was surrounded by small proprietors, who had also property scattered in different parts of the county of Cork and elsewhere; and with respect to the charge that those gentlemen had not come forward as they ought to have done, he (Mr. Callaghan) could state of his own knowledge that they had answered the demands made on them in other parts of the country where they held property. In the case of one of the gentlemen referred to, who was said to have kept his seventy dogs while the people around were starving, he could state that that gentleman had no tenants round Mallow, but he had inherited from his father a sporting lodge there, where he kept greyhounds for courses, and in good order; and certainly he (Mr. Callaghan) had felt that at a time when people were wanting food around, they ought not to have been so kept. But, on the other hand, this gentleman had not 100 acres in the parish. He had property elsewhere, but not to one-half the extent he was supposed to have; and he could assert from his own knowledge that in his own place there was not a more respectable character than that gentleman, or one who more largely contributed to the relief of 1058 the poor. Another case was spoken of, where a gentleman was stated to have seventy-two hounds under similar circumstances. That gentleman did not live within eighteen miles of Mallow; he lived near Fermoy; and had always kept horses and greyhounds for his own use. At the same time, no man had subscribed more liberally than he had done to the poor relief fund. [Mr. ROEBUCK: At Mallow?] No; he had no property at Mallow, therefore, he was not called on to do so there. He had felt it due to the gentlemen in question to make these explanations; and, as to the hon. and learned Member for Bath, it was not for him (Mr. Callaghan) to criticize his conduct in that House; but people out of doors asked what could be the motive of it? He would, however, state a fact which had occurred during this Session. He happened to be sitting by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, after the hon. and learned Member had been subjected to some observations by the hon. Baronet the Member for Waterford. An hon. Member came up and sat by him (Mr. Callaghan), saying to the hon. and learned Member for Bath, "Roebuck, did you hear what Barron said of you?" "Yes, I did;" said the hon. and learned Member for Bath. "Well, then, they'll be all at you, one after the other," answered the hon. Member who had joined. "Well," said the hon. and learned Member for Bath, "I have only one answer for them. I'll give them an income tax." When he heard the voice of the hon. Member beside him, at first he thought his ears must have deceived him; but, on turning round, he saw that he was no other than an hon. Gentleman who sat in that House in a Quaker-cut coat and a broad-brimmed hat. Sitting so close to them as he was, he was compelled to hear what passed; but, at the same time, he felt surprised to see any man called himself "a friend of peace" coming over and exasperating the hon. and learned Member for Bath, after such an attack had been made on him.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
Although I listened with great attention to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bath, I must confess I did not hear one good reason, nor a single sound argument, calculated to show how it could be either unjust or impolitic, or to whom it would be either unjust or how impolitic, to go into Committee upon the Landed Property (Ireland) Bill, without first having made it a condition that such proposal for 1059 the aid of the land of Ireland should be accompanied by a system of taxation which would subject the property in that country to the same burden of taxation which is borne by the property of Great Britain. I think the Landed Property (Ireland) Bill an excellent measure in itself, and I think the principle a correct one, to give good security to the Government and to this country that no money should be lent for improvements in Ireland unless there be a certainty of repaying the whole of the principal and interest; and so long as no risk is incurred, I cannot think that this country can be injured by developing the resources and increasing the national wealth of Ireland. For, Sir, we cannot increase the wealth of the Irish people, nor give employment, without improving the land, without adding considerably to the revenues of this country: and, so far from thinking it politic to refuse the aid of Government loans to the landlords of Ireland for the improvement of their property, I greatly regret it is not carried still further, and that, instead of spending 8 or 10,000,000l. upon what have been termed useless works of idleness, we are not about to expend a much larger sum in the way of advances on loan for permanent improvements in Ireland. I am of opinion that the English nation in general differ altogether from the doctrine laid down by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, and that, although malice may cavil at that which is directed to promote the good of others, that such will not be in accordance with the feelings nor the sound good sense of Englishmen generally, and that they will greatly rejoice at any opportunity that will enable them, without serious loss to themselves, to improve the property of Ireland. It is only within the last few days I received a letter (I wish I had it by me now) from the Inspector General and Engineer of the Parliamentary Commission for the Public Works in Scotland, in which he stated that it was impossible to estimate the blessings which the Million Act had caused during the present distress in Scotland, and that the employment afforded the poor and the improvement to the estates affected by it was beyond all calculation. Such, I am informed, have been the results in Scotland; and I think if the Million Act for Ireland had not unfortunately been withdrawn last year, the calamity which is at present so much to be deplored would not have occurred, and we might now have seen an extension of similar blessings to 1060 Ireland. Mr. Mitchell, the Parliamentary inspector and engineer, in the letter to which I have made allusion, further stated that he could almost trace the poverty and all the direful effects of famine by the limits to which grants of money had been advanced by the Parliament of this country to Scotland. Looking, therefore, to the benefits which have accrued to Scotland, I think we have a fair right to suppose that by similar advances of money to Ireland, similar beneficial results will arise; that we shall see the people in that country employed—stimulated to industry — stimulated to earn honest wages, and rescued from that state of idleness and laziness of which some persons complain so much. For these reasons, and with the hope that such beneficial results may be attained, I heartily approve of this measure. I think it a good measure, standing by itself, and seeing no wisdom or sense in the resolution proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath, I will support the original Motion that you now leave the Chair, in order that we may go into Committee.
§ MR. B. ESCOTT
said, it surprised him to hear the noble Lord opposite (Lord G. Bentinck) say that he had not heard any sound argument to induce him not to go into Committee on the Bill; but when he called to mind the course which the noble Lord had taken upon a recent occasion, he was not surprised that he should seize with avidity and support any measure having for its object the grant of a large sum of money to be expended in Ireland. But if the noble Lord had listened to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman two seats above him (Sir R. Peel), and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Labouchere), he would have heard more than one argument adduced why the resolution proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman should be considered previously to going into Committee. Both right hon. Gentlemen had said that there was an honest and just principle involved in the resolution; and neither of them had endeavoured to contend against the existence of such a principle. But many hon. Gentlemen who were now, who had been, or who might be again Ministers, with an adroit eagerness, exclaimed that the present was not the time to enter into the consideration of the great principle involved. Every one who met the question fairly admitted it was a great principle—no one appeared to deny that, for every one knew that the people of 1061 this country were willing to give the people of Ireland an equality of rights; but at the same time they expected Ireland to bear an equal portion of the general burdens. It was maintained that the present was not the suitable time to discuss the propriety of placing an equal burden upon Ireland; but was not the object of the Bill to give a million and a half to that country; and could there be any fitter time to consider whether the taxes by which the money was to be raised should not be equalized and fairly borne by the two countries? He begged to inform the noble Lord the Member for Lynn that if he thought the people of England agreed with him in his view of this matter, he was as egregiously mistaken and ignorant as when he thought he could induce them to give sixteen millions to raise certain bankrupt railway concerns to a premium in Ireland. The noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown also expressed it as his opinion that the present was not the time to go into the general question of equalizing the burdens on Ireland; and that declaration reminded him of a story which the noble Lord had told them two years ago, when he was in opposition, and pressing on the House a great scheme, which had much justice in it, and a portion of which he (Mr. Escott) hoped to see carried into operation at no distant day. On that occasion the noble Lord was met by some hon. Gentleman who did not wish to argue against policy and justice, but contended that the time had not arrived for discussing the principle of the general question; and he told us the story of a foreigner, who after listening to the debates in that House, made an observation on quitting the building: "No doubt," said he, "you are a very wise and learned people; no doubt you are an example to the civilized world; but give me leave to say, of all the people I ever met with, you are the most superstitious; for you don't meet facts by arguments; you do not attempt to oppose propositions, but you are always saying to one another, 'This is not the proper time!'" And now the noble Lord found it convenient to take the very same course which at that time he ridiculed. He declared the present was not the proper time; yet at the very period when he was about to add a million and a half sterling to the eight millions which he had already borrowed, he refused to enter into a discussion as to whether they ought to equalize the taxation of the two coun- 1062 tries. Hon. Gentleman from Ireland maintained they were already taxed in an equal proportion, and that they had documents which would prove it. [Mr. J. O'CONNELL: Hear, hear.] The hon. Member for Kilkenny cheered him; yet he would take leave to ask the hon. Gentleman when the proper time (in his estimation) would arrive in which to discuss the question of relative taxation—how long the Irish people would live on English charity and English dole—and how many millions they would require to meet their necessities? The English people were ready and willing to do all that could be expected of them to mitigate the distress in Ireland; but when they were told that there was an immense amount of property in Ireland, the owners of which would not extend their charity, and refused to pay their quota to the general fund, then they thought it was time to cast up the account, and see whether they could not compel them to do so. There could not be any more fitting time than the present, when a great demand was about to be made upon the fiscal resources of the country. He rejoiced that the time was not very far distant when the people of England would take these matters into their own consideration—ascertain who supported the principle of equal justice between both countries—who wished for payments to Ireland out of the hard earnings of the English people, whilst the proprietors were untaxed: and visit upon those who resisted the present Motion either their sense of their conduct, by depriving them of the power in future Parliaments of mis-spending the public money, or send them back better prepared to do that justice which was denied to England and to Ireland in the present.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
felt bound to say that he could by no means agree with the hon. and learned Member for Bath in the period which he had chosen for inviting discussion upon the question of equalizing taxation. The time which the hon. and learned Member selected for inquiring into the equality of Irish and English taxation—the moment which he thought right to select for the consideration of such a subject, was a moment of the greatest calamity which had ever fallen upon a civilized nation. The moment in which the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to inflict an additional burden upon the Irish people, was a period at which the landlords were unable to obtain payment of their rents, and in which the poor law was wholly inadequate to 1063 meet the requirements made upon it, or to supply a remedy for the evil. Such a period was that in which the hon. and learned Member had chosen to bring forward his unwise resolution—a period which he hoped all men would agree in thinking was not that in which the House had time to discuss a purely abstract proposition. The hon. Gentleman opposite (the Member for Winchester) had said that the people of England would take this matter into consideration. They had taken it into consideration by the public sympathy which they exhibited—by their generosity and by their charity—by their collections in hamlets and vicarages, and among the poor scholars and labourers of England. All this showed that they had taken it into consideration, and in a far more wise and humane manner than that adopted by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. The principle expounded by that hon. and learned Gentleman, if a correct one, had been vitiated by the manner in which it had been brought forward; for the question had been put in such a false position that they could not discuss it. At the present moment, when there was abstracted from Ireland by the will of Providence fourteen or fifteen millions of money value, they could not enter upon a discussion in order to decide a question of taxation. His hon. and learned Friend was spoiling a great principle. If he had waited until the present awful visitation had passed away from Ireland—until she had recovered from the shock of the calamity which was now descending upon her—they would have been able to treat the entire question with more gravity and patience than they could hope to do now. With these views he implored his hon. Friends, who might be disposed to give the Motion their support, and the Government, not to mix up the two questions—not to mix up a temporary and adventitious state of affairs with the general and, he hoped, what would ultimately prove the prosperous state of Ireland. It would be far better to take questions of such grave importance separately, and wait until Ireland was restored to well-being: then he was sure they would all be ready to raise what the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel), called a social foundation for a new state of things in Ireland — the difficulties attending which they could not measure distinctly, but which the wisest statesmen, with all the intelligence and ability they possessed, 1064 had not, as yet, been able to overcome.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, the hon. and learned Member for Winchester, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, seemed to make a mistake in charging the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) with not having understood the nature of the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. It appeared to him that the noble Lord had agreed with both the hon. Gentlemen on the subject of the proposition; and so did he. The hon. and learned Member's speech was a very able one; and if he brought forward the Motion in a substantive shape, he should feel bound to give it his support. He had not heard a single sound reason urged why Ireland should not be called upon to pay her proportion of the expenses of the country; but he must, at the same time, say he thought that the present was not the period for bringing forward a Motion of this kind, because it did not apply. The question involved in the measure before the House, was not one of making a gift to Ireland; it was a question of granting a loan to that country on certain security. With respect to applying a property tax to Ireland, he recollected, when a renewal of that tax was proposed for England, that the Irish Members supported it as being a very excellent tax; and he saw no reason whatever why Irish property and income should not be taxed as well as those in England. In the present instance he would vote against the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath; but if it was brought forward at any future time as a substantive proposition, he would give it his support.
§ MR. S. CRAWFORD
was ready to acknowledge that the pressure upon the Irish landlords was very heavy at the present moment; but the question was, whether Ireland ought not to pay her fair share of the taxation of the United Kingdom; and he saw no reason why she should not. He thought Ireland should be relieved as suffering from a great national calamity; but he would not shrink, at the same time, from the opinion that Irish landlords ought to pay their fair proportion of taxation, and he did not see why they should not pay a fair proportion of the income tax. He could not vote away the money of the people of England to relieve the distress of Ireland, without affirming that principle. For these reasons, he could not do otherwise than vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Bath.
MR. R. YORKE
recognised the principle propounded by the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Roebuck); but it would be most absurd, in his opinion, for the House to give 8,000,000l. to the people of Ireland on one hand, and, on the other hand, to propose taxes which would involve that country in universal difficulty. He should give a conscientious support to the proposals of the Government.
The Irish Members said this was not the right time for the present Motion; but he agreed with the hon. and learned Member that it was always the right time to do justice. He hoped the proposition now before the House would one day, if not at the present moment, be carried into effect.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 121: Noes 26: Majority 95.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Fox, C. R.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Fuller, A. E.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Gore, M.|
|Baine, W.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Bannerman, A.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Barclay, D.||Greene, T.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Bateson, T.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Beckett, W.||Grogan, E.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Bennet, P.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Hatton, Capt. V.|
|Beresford, Major||Hawes, B.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Henley, J. W.|
|Blake, M. J.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Blakemore, R.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Howard, P. H.|
|Browne, R. D.||Hutt, W.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Buller, C.||Jones, Capt.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Kemble, H.|
|Busfeild, W.||Labouchere, rt hon. H.|
|Butler, P. S.||Langston, J. H.|
|Byng, rt. hon. G. S.||Lawless, hon. C.|
|Callaghan, D.||Lefroy, A.|
|Carew, hon. R. S.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Chapman, B.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Christie, W. D.||Lockhart, W.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Macnamara, Major|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||M'Donnell, J. M.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|Courtenay, Lord||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Craig, W. G.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Mitcalfe, H.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Monahan, J. H.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Evans, W.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Fitzgerald, R. A.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|O'Brien, C.||Seymour, Lord|
|O'Brien, W. S.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|O'Connell, D.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|O'Connell, J.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|O'Conor Don||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|O'Ferrall, R. M.||Spooner, R.|
|Owen, Sir J.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Parker, J.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Polhill, F.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Price, Sir R.||Ward, H. G.|
|Prime, R.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Rich, H.||Wyse, T.|
|Ross, D. R.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Russell, Lord J.||TELLERS.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Tufnell, H.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Heron, Sir R.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Brown, W.||James, W.|
|Collins, W.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Copeland, Ald.||Mure, Col.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Dennistoun, J.||Protheroe, E. D.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Duncan, G.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Duncombe, T.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Entwisle, W.||Williams, W.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Hume, J.|
§ House went into Committee.
§ On Clause 4.
moved the introduction of the words he had given notice of, namely, planting, tile works, limekilns, farm bridges and gates, mills for scutching and preparation of flax, mills for the crushing and preparation of rape and linseed. In doing so, he said, with the exception of planting, he had confined himself to objects which were intimately connected with the improved culture of the land as well as with the employment of the people. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, in the course of the evening, had stated that the small cottiers of Ireland must henceforth look for other means of support; and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had admitted the primary object of the Bill was the employment of the people. Now, the purposes to which he proposed to extend the Bill, were precisely of that nature. Nothing could now be more important than the culture of flax; it was equally profitable, and gave employployment to the people. He hoped the Amendment would not be objected to.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the principle of the Bill was to afford means for improving the produc- 1067 tive power of the land; and the only exception to a strict adherence to that principle was to be found in the permission given under this clause to apply advances to the erection of corn mills. Considering the present state of Ireland, and the scarcity in that country of mills for grinding corn, the Government had thought themselves justified in making this exception. If, however, they were to accede to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, and to allow advances to be applied to the production of manufactured articles, they would depart altogether from the principle of the Bill.
The EARL of LINCOLN
agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it would not be advisable to adopt the Motion of the hon. Member for the University of Dublin. The object of this Bill was two-fold—to provide employment to meet the distress existing in Ireland, and to increase the power of production of the soil of that country. It was absolutely necessary that a line should be drawn somewhere; and he considered that the best plan was to limit the operation of this Bill to such works as could be executed by unskilled labour. The sum allowed for carrying out this measure was so limited in amount that it was hopeless to anticipate that any effectual advantage could be gained from extending the Bill so far as was proposed by the hon. Member for Dublin University. He begged to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to one proposal contained in this Bill, which he considered open to strong objection. It was intended, by the seventh clause, to give to persons holding land, and who were, in fact, merely tenants, the power (without the knowledge or consent of the landowner) to borrow money from the Government for the erection of farm buildings. By a subsequent clause power was given to the Government, if the advances were not duly repaid, to enter upon the property, and to sell, in order to provide for their repayment. In some parts of Ireland, as many hon. Gentlemen were aware, there was a great disposition on the part of landholders to build houses and farm buildings on a very large scale; and, under the Bill as it 1068 at present stood, property might be seized for the repayment of loans, the application of which had deteriorated rather than improved that property, so far as the landowner himself was concerned. He thought it right to call the attention of his right hon. Friend to this point, for, in his opinion, it afforded a strong argument against any extension of this clause.
MR. SMITH O'BRIEN
expressed a hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not object to such an extension of the clause as would allow loans to be applied to the erection of limekilns and tile works.
SIR D. NORREYS
observed that, if the House had confidence in the Public Works Commissioners, he thought they ought to leave to them the discretion of judging what measures would best conduce to the permanent improvement of the land. The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck) had complained at an early period of the evening that he (Sir D. Norreys) had published a letter in the Morning Chronicle of today. He regretted that that hon. and learned Gentleman was not now in his place; but he would only say that he thought any hon. Gentleman who did not wish to take up the time of the House in Committee, by entering at length into matters of dry detail, was fully justified in availing himself of the means he (Sir D. Norreys) had taken for expressing his views. His opinion on this subject certainly was, that the Bill was not sufficiently extensive in its character.
§ COLONEL RAWDON
thought it should be left to the Commissioners to determine what description of works were best calculated to effect the objects contemplated by this Bill. He considered that this measure was confined too exclusively to the improvement of land, without providing for the improvement of buildings upon the land.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that one principle of this measure was, that the improvements on which the loans to be afforded under this Bill were laid out, should be of permanent character. Now, tile works could not be regarded as works of a permanent na- 1069 ture. They might be erected merely in a temporary way, either for the purpose of improving an estate, or of providing bricks for sale; but there was no security whatever that the estate upon which they were erected would derive any permanent advantage from them. He thought, therefore, that it would not be advisable to adopt the Motion of the hon. Member for the University of Dublin.
The EARL of LINCOLN
thought, as tiles were indispensable for draining, the encouragement of drainage would create such a demand for them as would insure a supply; they ought to leave something to private enterprise, and he hoped they would not extend the operation of the clause. If the suggestions of the hon. Baronet's (Sir D. Norreys') letter were acted upon, he was sure not merely a million and a half, but a hundred millions, would be required for Ireland. The sum being limited to the former amount, it would do more permanent good, applied to defined purposes, than if spread over a large surface in a way that would make its good effect imperceptible.
said, it was of course useless to urge his Amendment against the feeling of the Committee; but he wished to explain to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the mills he proposed to bring within the Bill were not what he had called speculative undertakings, for the spinning of flax; but mills for the preparation of the raw material, with that preparation of flax which was necessary to its sale as a raw material. The tile works and lime works were also essential to the very objects of the Bill.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ On Clause 6,
§ MR. GROGAN
moved as an Amendment the insertion of the words, "Or any person empowered by law to embank and reclaim lands from the sea." The companies engaged in reclaiming lands from the sea deserved encouragement; they employed much unskilled labour, which was the object of the Bill.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
objected to the Amendment; it would divert the money applicable under the Act to those companies who had already received powers of raising money under their own Acts. It would be a still wider departure from the principle of the Act, than the proposition to erect spinning mills.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
did not consider they were owners; the proposal was, in fact, an amendment in the private Bills of these parties.
§ Remaining clauses agreed to. House resumed. Bill to be reported.