HC Deb 06 April 1848 vol 97 cc1356-69

, in bringing forward the Motion of which he had given notice, was anxious as a matter of justice and courtesy, to leave the question as much as possible in the hands of the Member for Stroud. That hon. Gentleman had taken it up long since. Three years ago he had introduced a Bill for the reclamation of the waste lands in Ireland. Last Session he had a notice on the books of his intention to bring the same subject before the House. He had, in the present year, more than once made a similar attempt; and he had published a pamphlet for the purpose of calling attention to the public importance of a measure of the kind. He (Mr. French) should endeavour to confine himself to authorities untouched by the hon. Member; and leaving to him the evidence taken before the Devon Commission, content himself with calling the attention of Members to the reports of the Bog Commissioners, gentlemen selected by the Government of the day for their ability and practical experience; and to the recommendation of different Committees of the House of Commons, to show that what he sought for would be most desirable and remunerative. It would not be necessary for him to detain the House by any statement of the necessity at the present time of devising measures to improve the agriculture of Ireland, and to stimulate the industry of her people. The lamentable experience of the last two years had unfortunately made English Members as well acquainted with the wretched condition of that country as those who were constantly resident there—nor was he disposed to underrate the difficulties Her Majesty's Government had to contend with; but let the path be rough or smooth, they must tread on it; the attempt must be made; Ireland neither could nor should be suffered to remain in her present condition. It must be borne in mind, that were the present very deficient state of agriculture in Ireland raised to the level of England or of the Lothians, there would still remain 500,000 agricultural labourers destitute of employment, or the means of subsistence. England had 34,250,000 acres of cultivated land, and but 1,055,000 labourers; whilst Ireland had 1,131,000, with but 14,600,000 acres of cultivated land. The only projects which had yet been brought forward to provide for this surplus population, were emigration and home colonisation. The former was more expensive, less remunerative, and was not at present to be thought of. The disease and the distress of those who left Ireland last year, had brought about so great a change of feeling, that the colonies objected to receive emigrants, and the Irish were less disposed to emigrate; the latter had, therefore, remained solely for consideration; and it was worthy of remark, that the reclamation of the waste lands was the first measure after the Union devised by Parliament for the improvement of Ireland. Upwards of forty years ago a commission was issued to inquire and report on the practicability of reclaiming those wastes. This inquiry cost 40,000l., and produced a series of as able reports as were ever laid before Parliament. Prom these they learned that the bogs of Ireland were all level, and on an average of 300 feet above the sea, intersected by streams which served as natural outlets for the water taken from their centre. From them they also learned that a portion of Ireland, little more than one-fourth of its entire surface, and included in a line drawn from Wicklow Head to Galway, and another drawn from Howth to Sligo, comprised within it about 6–7ths of the bogs of the island, exclusive of mountains and bogs under 500 acres in extent, in its form resembling a broad belt, with its narrowest end nearest the capital, and gradually extending in breadth, until it reached the western ocean. This great division of the island, extending from east to west, was traversed by the Shannon from north to south, and was thus divided into two parts; of these the division to the westward of the river, contained more than double the extent of bog to be found to the eastward. Where distress was greatest, the House would perceive the means of employment was most abundant. He should proceed to show, from the testimony of the ablest and most scientific men of their day, that the reclamation of these wastes was not alone feasible, but would be remunerative, and to point out the course, that without any embarrassment to the finances of the country, could be pursued for this purpose. Mr. Nimmo reports that— I am perfectly convinced that any species of bog is, by tillage and manure, capable of being converted into a soil fit for the support of plants of every description, perhaps the most fertile that can be submitted to the operations of the farmer. On the whole (he says) I am so perfectly convinced of the practicability of converting the whole of the bogs I have surveyed into arable land, at an expense hardly ever exceeding the gross value of one year's crop, that I declare myself willing to undertake the drainage and formation of the wastes in any piece of considerable extent for one guinea an acre, which is about seven years' purchase of the rent it would then afford. Messrs. Griffith and Longfield entertained similar opinions. Mr. Ahern's experience has proved that reclaimed bog will make a most prolific soil, furnishing almost all the principal necessaries of life in abundance, and of as good quality as the produce of the rich and fertile soil of the adjacent country. Mr. Brassington, in addition to the other advantages, dwells strongly on the improvement in the salubrity of the climate, which would follow the reclamation of the bogs. The Commissioners state— That the reclamation of the bogs would, according to the estimates of the different engineers employed by them, return to the improver a permanent rent of from 10 to 15 per cent on the expenditure; and they go on to say, 'It is not on more theoretical speculation that these premises are rested; our engineers uniformly adduce the example of hundreds of acres actually improved within their respective districts to justify their estimates. Mr. Edgeworth states— That it is not surprising that the project of improving Irish bogs should have occurred at different periods, both to individuals who had only their own profit in view, and to the patriots who were zealous for the prosperity of their country. Undoubtedly (he says) it is an object of the highest importance to the State, and particularly to this portion of the empire, because the mode of life is such in Ireland as would immediately be suited to the cultivation of the kind of soil which may be obtainerd by the first stage of improvement in bogs. Much of the cultivation amongst the great mass of the people in Ireland is carried on by the labour of men without the plough; the soil of newly-reclaimed bog would not, for some time, bear the tread of cattle, though it might be manufactured by the spade and shovel. He offers to reclaim 1,000 English acres for 7,800l. The Committee of 1830, to inquire into the state of the Irish poor, report:— The possibility of recovering the hog I of Ireland has long been the matter of parliamentary attention; it appears there are three millions of Irish acres of waste lands, equal to five millions English, which are considered almost all reclaimable. The Committee of 1819 state, that it was proved before them for an expense of 7l. an acre, land in the county of Sligo had been reclaimed and rendered worth 30s. rent per acre. This evidence was confirmed by an intelligent witness who considered the expense of improvement to have been rather overstated: both these witnesses were Englishmen, having no local bias whatever to influence their judgment. Similar evidence was given by General Bourke and others; and the Committee go on in this report:— When the immense importance of bringing into cultivation five millions of acres now lying waste, is considered, it can only be a subject of regret and surprise that no greater progress has been made in this undertaking. Were this work accomplished, not only would it afford a transitory but a permanent demand for productive labour, accompanied by a corresponding rise of wages and improvement in the condition of the poor—opportunities would be afforded for the settlement on the waste lands of the peasantry, now superabundant in particular districts. This change would be alike advantageous to the lands from whence the settlers are taken, and to those to which they are removed, and would facilitate the introduction of a comfortable yeomanry, and an improved system of agriculture into the country; the screw pressure of the clearance sustem would be mitigated, and the general state of the peasantry improved. Bog improvements were stated not to be permanent: this he was prepared to disprove. As to the permanence of improvements of this nature, Mr. Griffith reports on 292 acres reclaimed by Mr. French, of Woodlawn, fifty years before, and observes that they effectually contradict an assertion frequently made, that bog, however reclaimed, will again return to its original state, if left undisturbed for a few years. He says that eighty years before the time he wrote, there were but eight acres of green ground between the town of Castlebar and the sea coast, a district which at present supports about seventy thousand souls. Mr. O'Flaherty, who reclaimed one thousand acres, mentions the reasons which prevented such works being more generally undertaken, viz. the uncertainty of the mearings of the different proprietors, and the impossibility of getting the proprietors of adjacent estates to join in the necessary main drainages: both these objections are now removed by the Ordnance Survey and Drainage Acts. The Dutch, in the time of King William, offered, on condition of being governed by their own laws, to form a colony in the Queen's County, and to make meadow of the whole Bog of Allen. The Bog of Allen is in the same state that entertained that in the event of the drainage and reclamation of the bogs, the country would be left without sufficient fuel. It seems not to be generally understood that if the bogs of Ireland were reclaimed, we should derive not merely the advantage of cultivating their surface, but at the same time the power of applying them for fuel would be increased some thousand fold. The beneficial effects of improvements of this nature he could show from other countries. He would not trouble them with a statement of what had been done in Holland, nor lately in France and Algeria; one example would probably suffice. In Sweden formerly it was necessary to import from Dantzic or Holland every year, corn to the value of from three hundred thousand to four hundred thousand pounds sterling; but the commercial scale has been completely turned since 1803; upwards of six thousand farms have been reclaimed out of large tracts of waste lands; the result has been of immense value to the agricultural prosperity of Sweden. Instead of depending on foreign supplies of grain, she affords abundant provision for the inhabitants, and annually exports a considerable surplus. In 1829, the deficient harvest of France was recruited from the produce of Scandinavia, and in 1830 the ports of Malmo, Loncrona, and Wisby alone, sent to England 32,000 tons of oats, and 6,000 of barley. The present position of Connaught was frightful to contemplate, and unless employment was procured for the people, they must perish by thousands. The poor-law passed by Parliament, in defiance of the representations of Ireland, could no longer be maintained under it—the property of the country had been almost destroyed, and the people starved; it was unsuited either to the interests, the wants, or the wishes of the people, and if longer persevered in, the existence of any poor-law in Ireland would be endangered—a result, he for one, should deeply deplore; but he told the House that the entire force at the disposal of Government would not collect the rates under the present system, or maintain the existing law two months longer. They might endanger the connexion between the countries by a refusal to retrace their steps. It would require three millions a year to support the poor of Connaught under the present law, whilst the annual value of all the property of the province rated to the support of the poor was but a million and a half. In this province there was in Galway 708,000 acres it was 150 years ago, and so will the five I millions remain. A prejudice is generally of wastelands; Leitrim, 116,000; Mayo, 800,000; Roscommon, 130,000; Sligo, 152,000: nearly two millions of acres. He regretted the Government had allowed themselves to be sneered out of their measure last year by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and the noble Lord the Member for Falkirk. England, when her own interests were concerned, knew the value of such measures. Witness the Bills which followed the 43rd of Elizabeth. Though the present poor-law could not be maintained in Ireland, an effectual law for the support of the poor could be established; but to it every description of property must be rated: mortgages and annuities must pay their proportion, as they did here, to the income-tax. One shilling in the pound would raise a fund sufficient for the purpose, if rated on every description of property. This should be administered under the direction of a central board, by whom the proportion of the fund necessary to meet the distress of each district would be decided; and if the actual expenditure exceeded their award, the excess should be levied off the union. The heads of the Bill he proposed to introduce were— 1. That two Commissioners be appointed, who, with the Chairman of Board of Works, shall be the Commissioners for the purposes of this Act. 2. That such Commissioners should be enabled to appoint engineers, surveyors, and other officers. 3. That Commissioners should have power to make surveys and estimates of waste lands, and to take the same compulsorily under the provisions of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act. 4. Commissioners to have power to reclaim the land so taken—to lay them out in farms of not less than ten, or more than 100 acres—with power to sell or let the same in perpetuity, or for a term of years. .5. Right of pre-emption of the whole or part of such lands to the original proprietors. 6. Commissioners to have powers for the general maintenance of the works, &c., similar to those vested in the Drainage Commissioners. 7. Commissioners to have powers to issue debentures, limited in proportion to the value of the land, and secured thereon. The extent of such issue must be determined by experience. Taking the waste lands of Ireland alone as the basis, there is improveable for cultivation and pasture 3,755,000 acres. There is, probably, another million that might be planted. If the present value of these wastes be averaged at 1s. 6d, per acre, the sum at twenty years' purchase would exceed 7,000,000l.: one-third of which, or 2¼ millions, might safely be taken as a limit for the issue of debentures. 8 Commissioners to have power to borrow from the Government such portions of the money advanced for the relief of the famine in Ireland as shall from time to time be repaid by the counties. To this plan he could not see any objection. A very able friend of his, who had given this subject much consideration, wrote to him some short time since— Bank notes are now issued upon two bases;—

  1. "1. Government securities held by the issuing bank to a certain amount.
  2. "2. Bullion retained in the bank coffers. The proprietors of land in Ireland might, without any violation of principle, be enabled to hypothecate their lands to the Government for the purpose of their being made the basis for the issue of notes to a certain amount, which should be limited to a definite proportion of the value of the lands.
The plan might he made to work somewhat in this way:— A proprietor possessing lands capable of improvement might be authorised to lay a report before the Board of Works, as is done under the present Land Improvement Act, setting forth the value of the lands, the nature and cost of the proposed improvements, and the probable profit. The Board should be required to investigate the facts, and if they should report that the improvements were feasible, and the statements as to value, &c., correct, the proprietor might then he authorised to apply for a loan to the amount of (say) a third of the existing value. Say the lands were reported to be worth 15,000l., the proprietor might be authorised to apply for a loan of 5,000l. His application should specify the particulars of the proposed outlay, and the number and amount of the instalments in which the money would be required, and these particulars should be vouched by the Board of Works, upon whose certificate an issue of land debentures to the amount of the first instalment should be made from a distinct office to the proprietor. The application of the proprietor, and his acceptance, together with the certificate of issue of debentures, should form a lien on the land, and should be made to give power to the Government to sell it summarily in case of the interest not being punctually paid. The issue of debentures for subsequent instalments should only he made upen the Board of Works' certificate of the actual expenditure of the former issue in the manner proposed. The debentures should be for sums varying from 20l. to 100l., and should hear a certain daily interest like Exchequer-bills, and this interest should be 1 per cent lower than the interest to be paid by the borrowing proprietor. Thus, if the latter was charged by the Government 4½ per cent per annum, the debentures issued to him should bear an interest to be commuted per diem, at the rate of 3½ per cent per annum. The difference would pay the cost of management, and would leave a surplus to be applied to the creation of a redemption fund, which should be used, from time to time, to pay off the loans upon lands in the order of the priority of their hypothecation. The Bank of Ireland should he authorised to issue notes upon the basis of land debentures, as the Bank of England now docs upon the basis of Government securities. The working of the plan would then be in tills way:—the borrower would take his deben- tures into the stock-market and sell them; they would sometimes fall into the hands of small capitalists, and be held as a convenient interest, paying security; sometimes they would be bought by the bank, and, if necessary, made the basis of an issue of notes. In falling into the hands of small capitalists, they would produce the desirable effect of tapping hoards of available money now lying useless in stockings, the thatch of houses, or, what is nearly as bad, savings banks. He trusted Her Majesty's Government would not offer any opposition to a plan by which the surplus labour of the country would be provided for, and 500,000 labourers provided with farms of ten acres in extent. The annual value of the produce of these lands would be raised from 751,000l. a year to 22,520,000l. The magnitude of the evils under which Ireland was suffering demanded comprehensive remedies, and he trusted that the enlightened recommendations of the noble Lords the Members for King's Lynn and Falkirk would encourage his hon. Friend to enter on the right path. The hon. Member concluded by moving for leave to bring in a Bill to facilitate the reclamation of waste lands in Ireland.


in rising to second the Motion for leave to bring in the Bill, expressed his regret at the little attention which the House had accorded to the exposition which the hon. Member had made of the benefits derivable from a measure having for its purpose the reclamation of waste lands in Ireland. He had taken the deepest interest in this question during the last twelve years. He had become convinced so early as 1835, when a Member of the Board of Works, that to ensure occupation and subsistence to the Irish peasantry, they would inevitably have to compel the reclamation of the lands now lying useless and uncultivated, while a fine population was idle, and therefore was starving; and in 1846, on the failure of the potato crop, he had again brought a proposal under the notice of the House very similar in its main provisions to the Bill which the hon. Member now sought to introduce. It had been said that the poor-law, now introduced into Ireland, would accomplish the object of providing employment for the ablebodied poor. But the mode in which the poor-law was administered in Ireland was not according to the principle adopted in England even. The poor-law here from the earliest times required that the poor who could not find work, should be "set to work." In England, however, almost all the ablebodied could find work; whereas in Ireland it was notoriously difficult for the ablebodied to obtain any employment. The relief given there was in the shape of food, not in in return for labour, but gratuitous relief, which tended to nourish idle habits. Last year the stones broken, which were of no use and encumbered the country, were valued, at the cost price, at a million of money. Other measures had been devised for the employment of the ablebodied poor—the million and a half loan under the Land Improvement Act, the Landlord and Tenant Bill, the Encumbered Estates Bill; but these were all inadequate, or were too slow in their operation, and of too cumbrous and complicated a character, to give prompt productive employment to the poor. Then, what was there but ruin to Ireland if something were not done? Nothing but some strong interference on the part of Government could provide a remedy. He had presented a petition from the ratepayers of the Ballina union, in the county of Mayo, which depicted a frightful state of distress, whilst large quantities of waste lands lay around. The petitioners stated that more and more land was every day left untilled, from the poverty and ruin of the holders; that the increasing rates were adding to the number of ruined farmers; and that there were vast tracts of waste but reclaimable land within the union upon which the labour of the poor, now unemployed and idle, might be made to produce enough for their own support, and by this means the progress of ruin might be stopped, whilst the cost would be amply repaid by the produce. It was admitted that throughout the west and south of Ireland there was general distress, a redundant population, yet an abundance of waste land offering ample means of employing that population. Emigration had been put forward as the true remedy. Promote emigration," said Mr. Sidney Hall, "from Galway town into the neighbouring wastes of Connemara—the hundreds of thousands of barren acres of the 'wild west,' which (to the eternal shame of their owners be it spoken) never yet sustained life in aught but the hare and grouse; but which, while they would largely repay cultivation, are sufficient to grow food for the whole unprovided population of your country—a country which some people, unthinkingly arraigning the wisdom of Providence, describe as over-populated, with its millions of acres waste. Ireland was, in fact, the very last country that could spare her people. So far from being over-peopled, if the land was properly improved, drained, and reclaimed, Ireland would not have population enough to carry out cultivation to its full extent. The Report of the Poor Inquiry Commission of 1836 had recommended the policy of a measure for enforcing the improvement of that country by the reclamation of the waste lands. Lord Devon's Commission had recommended the same thing. In spite of these repeated recommendations, however, the matter had slept, and nothing was done to give effect to one of the greatest means of improving Ireland. It had been made a question whether the bogs, swamps, and morasses of Ireland were really reclaimable with profit. He would ask Gentlemen to consider the attempts that had been successfully made to reclaim such land in England and Ireland with the most profitable result. No one could travel over Chat-moss towards harvest time without seeing what was once a bog, now growing magnificent crops of corn, and paying as high a rent as the best lands. The cost of reclaiming such land in Lancashire was, on the average, 10l. an acre, and it proved a most productive and profitable investment of capital; land being made worth 20s. and 30s. an acre which had been previously of no value at all. Mr. W. France had reclaimed about 1,000 acres on Rawcliffe-moss, near Garstang, very much in a similar state to what the Irish mosses were: about twelve years ago he began improving his moss, and, having expended 9,000l., the outlay now paid 10l. per cent; and it should be remembered that the average rate of wages in Ireland was not half that in Lancashire. Under these circumstances, the omitting to employ the numbers of idle and starving ablebodied men in Ireland in reclaiming the Vast bogs immediately under their eyes, and surrounding the very workhouses where they were maintained in idleness, was criminal madness; it was acting contrary to the designs of Providence not to avail ourselves of those resources which were placed in our hands. Nor were there wanting numerous examples of the reclamation of the waste lands and bogs in Ireland, from a few acres to several hundred, with success and profit. Mr. Cecil Wray, a magistrate in the county of Donegal, had reclaimed very large tracts of moor, and was repaid by the second year's crop. Mr. Reade, of the county of Gal-way, had reclaimed 500 acres, worth about. 2s 6d. per acre. The very first crop paid all his expenses, leaving the land worth 20s. per acre. These and many other instances of successful experiments were stated before Lord Devon's Commission. In some cases tenants had reclaimed; but not unfrequently, when they did so, their rents were, as a consequence, raised. Tenants, therefore, could not be expected to drain bogs, as they knew and found, in a number of instances, that if they undertook to do so, and rendered the land more valuable, in two, or three, or four years, the agent stepped in and put on an additional rent. It was a singular and striking fact, that the greatest amount of waste land lay in those localities where there was the greatest number of able-bodied poor. Those particular counties, from Donegal to the north of Ireland, where the greatest extent of waste lands was found, were at this moment occupied by an idle population, in a state of destitution for want of employment. How was the object to be attained of setting them to work on the land, which was so capable of producing the food necessary to maintain them? Private enterprise could not do it—private enterprise had not drained the cultivated land. Landlords, burdened and embarrassed as they were, could not be expected to undertake the reclamation of lands for the great mass of the people. Had we not, therefore, arrived at a dead-lock? Private capital would not flow into Ireland for want of security, arising from general distress and discontent; and that general distress and discontent could only be removed by employment, which nobody could give. Here then was a vicious circle—here was a crisis which could be met only by the active interference of the Government. His object in the Bill of 1846 was two fold—namely, to give temporary employment to the ablebodied out of work, and to locate a body of proprietary tenants on the land so reclaimed. After bestowing upon this subject a good deal of attention, his present impression was that it would be most desirable to carry the principle of the proposed Bill into practical operation by means of the machinery which the poor-law supplied; for example, the guardians under the poor-law might be authorised to send all able-bodied paupers to the officers of the Board of Works, who should employ them in the reclamation of waste lands. If the paupers now maintained in idleness were employed in under takings of that class, the country could not fail to derive from their labours a return of the full amount, at least, of the sum expended. One of the earliest objects now proposed, would be to make immediate progress in the great work of arterial drainage: that having been once accomplished, the labour of reclaiming acre by acre might proceed from year to year, and be carried on perhaps by the unassisted labour of those who might be located in the farms which would be cut out of the waste. Captain Kennedy, one of the highest authorities connected with the improvement of land in Ireland, stated, that if the work of reclaiming waste lands in Ireland were judiciously carried on in the manner now proposed, there might at least be 500,000 men removed from the present overcrowded labour-markets of the country. He calculated, no doubt, that it would raise the produce of 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 of acres of land to 6l. an acre, which now yield only 4s. on the average per annum. The compilers of the digest of the Devon Commission asserted as the result of a calculation carefully made on a close investigation of the evidence taken by that Commission— That nearly 200,000 families, comprising 1,000,000 of souls, might be permanently and happily provided for upon lots of eight acres of good, and twelve of inferior, waste land (farms, that is, of twenty acres the average each); and, if properly selected from the now redundant small farmers or cottiers, this would enable their holdings to be consolidated up to eight acres, thus providing a comfortable maintenance for 134,000 more families, comprising 750,000 more souls. By this at least 500,000 labourers will be abstracted from the now overcrowded labour market and land market; and the evidence leads to the conclusion that this can be done not only without loss, but with a very large permanent gain—raising the produce of the 3,755,000 acres of waste land, now not averaging 4s. per acre, to a value of at least 6l. per acre—that is, creating a new produce of the annual value of at least 22,000,000l. The first three or four years' crops will return the cost requisite to bring about this change. Mr. Kennedy showed that this process would not cost one-eighth of the expense of providing the same amount of relief by draining and subsoiling the cultivated lands, while the effect would be temporary, not permanent. He showed, too, that to produce the same amount of relief by emigration, would cost twice as much, the effect being far less valuable, if practicable. "Reclamation of waste land, moreover, could be carried on," he said, "at all seasons of the year, no crops being in the way." His estimate was—"For the cost of emigration, 20,000,000l.; drainage and subsoiling, 80,000,000l.; waste land reclamation, 10,000,000l," an equal effect in relieving the overcrowded labour-market being produced by the latter comparatively small expenditure. And he proved by abundant evidence that a farm of eight acres of average land, well cultivated, would keep a family in comfort, paying a fair rent. Blacker had proved the same by practical experiment, even during three years of famine. His ten-acre farmers were holding their ground and their stock, notwithstanding the two years' scarcity. It was to be remembered that Captain Kennedy was not only secretary to the Devon Commission, but that he was a practical improver of great skill and experience, who had been extensively employed in improving the estates of Sir Charles Style, and other proprietors in the north of Ireland. Unless the Legislature of this country undertook some large operation of this kind for securing productive employment to the ablebodied paupers, he believed they never would be able to solve the tremendous problem which the condition of Ireland presented. He would conclude by quoting the opinion of Mr. Delmine, a magistrate of the county Wicklow, who at a public meeting declared that the monster grievance there consisted in the relation subsisting between landlord and tenant—that there were 4,000,000 of acres of land in the country now waste and neglected, which, if cultivated, would give a return for the capital expended of from 8 to 20 per cent—and that within the last six months more money had been expended in useless public works than would have sufficed to pay the charge of bringing a very large proportion of those lands into cultivation. In many counties of Ireland the people were starving, though the land was not more than half tilled; mortgages were being foreclosed—famine was prevalent in every part of the country—property was plundered in open day—and the whole island was one great lazar-house, in which no trade flourished but that of the coffin-maker. Those were the statements made by a well-informed and dispassionate magistrate of Ireland. There was in that country a mass of destitution which Parliament must meet. The people must be employed, and they ought to be employed upon productive improvements; the waste lands offered the means of doing so without loss or injury to any one; and it was for the Government to take the matter into their own hands, or a heavy responsibility would rest upon them, if through want of exertion on their part, the country should drift onward, as he feared it was rapidly doing, to irretrievable ruin.


I do not rise to offer any opposition to the introduction of the Bill which the hon. Member proposes. I admit the importance of the subject, and that it is most desirable, by practicable measures, to facilitate the employment of the poor in Ireland; and I believe that means do exist for employing them on the soil of Ireland to a great extent. At the same time, to talk of waste lands in a country the whole of which is apportioned into separate estates, is using the word in a sense in which it is not used in relation to the colonial possessions of the Crown, where land is never appropriated. My noble Friend has promised to lay on the table a Bill embodying his views as to the best means of effecting an object so important in itself and so desirable. I am quite aware of the difficulties which exist in the way of the apportionment of property, and the great danger of aggravating the evil which it is proposed to diminish. I shall be glad if my hon. Friend will enable us to overcome the difficulties with which the question is surrounded. I understand that he does not propose to avail himself of the machinery of the Government, and a large staff of Government officers, and docs not ask for any grant of public money. To accomplish this object, I shall be glad to give him every assistance in my power.


approved of the proposition of his hon. Friend: he thought I it of the greatest importance that some means should be devised for the employment of those who were now receiving their livelihood from the rates.

Leave given.