§ On the question that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Supply,
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
rose 926 for the purpose of bringing under the notice of the House a subject of the deepest interest—interesting to men of all parties, most especially interesting to landlords, and, above all others, to Irish landlords. He should begin by reading the Motion with which he intended to conclude. It was in these words:—That the present distracted state of Ireland demands the instant attention of Parliament, with a view to the speedy enactment of such measures as may be necessary to improve the condition, redress the grievances, and establish the just rights of the Irish people, and thereby promote the good order and prosperity of that portion of the United Kingdom, and give increased security to Her Majesty's Crown and Government.He did hope, then, that the House would give the attention necessary, on the present occasion, for a fair and full discussion. Hon. Members could scarcely have forgotten that in the year 1844 the noble Lord now at the head of the Government brought forward a Motion for a Committee to consider the state of Ireland, upon which occasion the noble Lord expressed many sentments in unison with those which he (Mr. S. Crawford) himself held. In 1844 that Motion had been carried; and be would ask the House what had been the state of Ireland from that time to the present; and he would appeal to them, what was now to be done with Ireland? If any hon. Member said he knew not what could be done with that country, he would reply it was not for want of sufficient information being laid before the House, on the subject of Irish wants and Irish distress; for, over and over again, they had had statements respecting the wrongs and miseries of that unhappy land. He charged England with having most deeply wronged Ireland. He never entertained a doubt that England could redress the wrongs of Ireland; and he complained that up to the present time England had taken no effectual means to redress any of her grievances. He would remind the House that in the year 1844 the noble Lord opposite had told them that Ireland was in a most deplorable state; he drew a picture of the condition of that country which in all respects was most appalling. Now, he would ask why was Ireland in that condition—why was Ireland in such a state that it might be said of her she was held by British troops but not ruled by British authority? Ireland was occupied by a military force; but not governed by the Lieutenant of the Queen. From the report of the Landlord and 927 Tenant Commission, it was evident that the people of Ireland were badly fed, badly clothed, badly housed, dependent upon precarious employment, and uncertain supplies of food. Upon the authority of the Poor Law Commissioners he might state that a great proportion of the people of Ireland were without the common necessaries of life; they had no food but potatoes, they had scarcely one meal a day; and such was the deplorable state of the poor in Ireland, such the wide spread of pauperism, that the last rate made for the relief of the poor amounted to 4,500,000l. The long-continued pressure of those rates was pulling down the middle class to the same level as that which was occupied by the paupers themselves—without shelter, without food, starving and dying; and yet all this time vast tracts of waste lands were left uncultivated, and corn was cheap. Why was that? It was because the people of Ireland had been misgoverned—it was because they had been oppressed by partial and unjust laws—it was because they had been overborne by the power of a British Parliament. They had been treated as a race of slaves, and the Legislature had made the landlords the masters of those slaves. Many of the evils under which Ireland laboured were to be imputed to the jealousy of England, both before and after the Union. He would not enter into that history of 700 years of English oppression in Ireland, which the late Mr. O'Connell had often most forcibly brought under their notice. He would not go into that long catalogue of miseries, but confine himself to a few facts. Cruel and unjust penal laws bore down the oppressed Catholic from the reign of Queen Anne till the close of the reign of George IV., and a system of Protestant ascendancy was established which worked ill even for the Protestants themselves. About the year 1727 Dean Swift made some efforts to establish a spirit of freedom in Ireland; but the spirit of free trade had not then been called forth. At the time to which he was referring, the people of Ireland could not trade with the colonies of Great Britain, except under very severe restrictions, in fact, amounting to prohibition. Again and again Ireland demanded the rights of free trade; again her claims were rejected by the Parliament of England; and that resistance to her just demands proceeded principally from the representations made to the Legislature by the commercial classes in Bristol and Manchester, and other 928 great towns in England. In 1778, owing to the disastrous termination of the American war, and the influence of other causes, this country was in a deeply depressed condition; then the Irish Volunteers were called into existence; but that body did not dissolve themselves till, with arms in their hands, they demanded and obtained free trade for Ireland. He mentioned that to show that what ought to have been given from a sense of justice, was yielded to the stern demands of armed men. In 1789 Mr. Grattan gave to the world a frightful picture of the enormous corruptions which prevailed in Ireland, and in which there was no abatement till 1,800, the period of the Union. From that time to the present the history of Irish legislation must be fresh in the recollection of the House; neither could hon. Members forget that in 1844 the noble Lord opposite had developed his views of what ought to be the government of Ireland. Those were certainly the principles on which the Union was professed to be founded; and the noble Lord inquired whether they had been carried out; and he now asked the same question. The Roman Catholics were promised that if the Union were once established they should he emancipated and placed on an equality with the Protestants. But after the Union this act of justice was refused over and over again; and when discontent arose in consequence, coercive laws were passed. The promise made to the Roman Catholics was not realised until a period of twenty-nine years afterwards; and it was then granted, as the noble Duke who carried Catholic emancipation said, to avoid the evils of civil war. It consequently did not produce that satisfaction which it would have done, had it been granted earlier. The repeal of the penal laws was accompanied by another Act, which took away from the former a great part of its advantage—the disfranchisement of the 40s. freeholders. Another grievance which that House had pledged itself to redress was connected with the tithe question. In 1835 a Tithe Bill was introduced under the Government of the right hon. Member for Tamworth; and in the same year the noble Lord now at the head of the Government moved and carried resolutions to the effect that no measure upon the subject of tithes in Ireland could lead to a satisfactory and final adjustment of the question that did not embody the principle that any surplus revenue of the 929 Church Establishment in Ireland, not required for the spiritual care of its members, should he applied to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people, without distinction of any religious persuasion. Since that period several successive Bills were introduced on the subject; hut none was carried till 1838, when a Bill, brought in by the noble Lord now at the head of the Woods and Forests, was passed, which wholly threw aside the principle of appropriation, and was similar to the Bill introduced by the Government of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. Thus the pledges so often given by that House were violated, If he were told that the tithes were paid by the landlords, and not by the people, he must deny such an assertion, for tithes were as much paid by the people now as before. The tithes amounted to 378,000l. a year, and the revenues of the church lands to 201,000l. a year, making a total of upwards of half a million a year, which still continued to be drained from the resources of the people of Ireland and applied to the use of one Church, the members of which did not exceed one-twelfth of the whole population. The Presbyterian ministers were also paid large stipends out of the revenues of the State; but the clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church were paid by the people, who were thus obliged to pay, one way or another, the ministers of two Churches, and the ministers of their own besides. Whilst such enormous abuses existed, could there be anything but discontent? Could these things be considered otherwise than as a badge of slavery by any people having proper notions of liberty? The next question in respect to which breaches of faith had been committed by the Parliament, was connected with the franchise and registration for Ireland. Various Bills had been brought in on this subject since 1835; and in the present year a Bill had been introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland; but that had been abandoned. The franchise in Ireland had been nearly annihilated—it was so small that it hardly deserved the name; and yet the country had been trifled with on this subject since 1835. Bills had been brought in acknowledging the grievance, and as yet the remedy was not applied. Was it any wonder, then, that discontent should exist in Ireland? Then, with regard to the relief of the poor, what sort of law was passed? The first enactment 930 limited the relief, so that it could only be given inside the workhouses, where the poor could not be adequately provided for. Then the unions were so arranged in respect to size that they could not be made practically useful. The Commissioners of Inquiry had declared that if a poor-law were adopted it would be necessary at the same time to enact other measures for the employment of the poor; but their recommendations were disregarded. The next subject to which he would refer was the question of landlord and tenant. That question had been under discussion since 1835. A Commission in 1843, established under the authority of the Government of the right hon. Member for Tamworth, made reports which showed the necessity of a measure on the subject, and in 1845 a Bill in reference to it was brought in by Lord Stanley. In 1846 another Bill was brought in; and now the House had a Bill on the same subject before it, introduced by the present Secretary for Ireland. There was every reason to suppose that that Bill also would be abandoned; but its withdrawal would cause him little regret, because, from its provisions, it would be of no value, and give no satisfaction in Ireland. It had provisions of a vexatious character, and would practically upset the custom now existing in Ulster. In Berry a body of Orangemen had met on the 12th of July, and, neglecting their usual ceremonies on that anniversary, had made a declaration on the subject of tenant-right, denouncing the Bill before the House as one of gross robbery and injustice, inasmuch as it handed over to the landlords, without any compensation, the old existing tenant-right. A measure for reclamation of waste lands, recommended by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, had been delayed, and there appeared now no prospect of any measure of that sort. The people were allowed to be exterminated and to starve, while there were 5,000,000 acres of improvable land in Ireland; and all the authority of the State was given in aid of the landlords to produce that extermination. Such being the case, was it not the duty of the State to devise means by which some location should be provided for the poor, either upon waste but improvable lands in the lands in the country, or through the means of emigration? He, however, did not see why they should compel the people to emigrate to foreign countries so long as there were 5,000,000 acres of land which might be reclaimed by them 931 in their own country. He had always been of opinion that the resources within the country ought first to be had recourse to, and when they were exhausted the means for facilitating emigration might be afforded. But to depend on emigration alone was a most cruel delusion, as no emigration to a foreign country could be carried on to such an extent as to produce the necessary relief. Another measure of great importance which had been under the consideration of the House was a Bill for enabling landlords under entail to execute improvements, and to charge the expense of those improvements on the inheritance. He deemed it most important that landlords under entail should be enabled, under proper regulations, to borrow money, or to expend their own money, for this purpose, with the certainty of being reimbursed for their own expenditure. The Bill to which he had referred relating to this subject was still upon the Orders; but as the Government did not approve of the machinery of the measure, he feared there was little chance of its being sanctioned by the House. Such a measure, in his opinion, ought to be introduced by the Government, and to be supported by their influence. Another important measure requisite for Ireland was some system of taxation which would affect absentee proprietors—some change in the poor-law taxation which would act in such a manner as to give resident proprietors the benefit of their exertions for the employment of the people, and to impose a share of the burden of taxation upon those proprietors who were absentees, and who took no pains to promote the welfare of their tenantry. He also considered that it was absolutely necessary that well-considered public works should be taken up by the State. In this country it was not necessary that the State should furnish means for carrying on great public works; there was private capital and enterprise enough for that purpose, but the case was different in Ireland. There were many important public works which, if they were not taken up under the authority of the State, would never be carried out in that country—he alluded particularly to the great lines of railway. He asked the House to consider what immense benefit the establishment of a line of railway communication between Dublin and some port on the western coast of Ireland must produce to that country; but such a work could not be undertaken or completed without Government aid. 932 When he looked at the legislation of that House during the present Session, he thought that Irish Members had great reason to complain of the indifference of Parliament with regard to the interests of their country. He found in Her Majesty's Speech at the opening of the Session the following passage:—Her Majesty views with the deepest anxiety and interest the present condition of Ireland, and She recommends to the consideration of Parliament measures which, with a due regard to the rights of property, may advance the social condition of the people, and tend to the permanent improvement of that part of the united kingdom.The House replied by an address, promising to apply themselves to these subjects; but what had they done? They had passed a Coercion Act very speedily, for the protection of life and property in Ireland—the Government pledging themselves that they would submit some ameliorating measures to the House; and on this understanding the liberal party, with great unanimity, agreed to support the Government in that course. It was true that some measures relating to Ireland had since been introduced; but, with the exception of the Encumbered Estates Bill, they had not made any progress in the House. In consequence of the disturbed state of Ireland, however, a Bill for the better security of the Crown and Government had been introduced, and had received the sanction of the Legislature; the awful state of things now existing in that country had led to the proposal of a still more severe Coercion Bill, which had been passed with almost unprecedented rapidity; but, though such measures had been adopted by the Legislature, it was very improbable that any measures for ameliorating the condition of the Irish people would receive the sanction of Parliament during the present Session. The Encumbered Estates Bill was good in principle; but it would be of little present advantage to the people of Ireland, for it was impossible, under existing circumstances, that any large quantities of land in that country could now be brought into the market. The only measure that could be of any value would be a Landlord and Tenant Bill; but such a measure would be useless if loaded with vexatious restrictions. The principle of such a measure must be to enable the tenants, without trouble, to obtain a full recompense for any labour or capital they might bestow upon their holdngs; and he believed that a measure of that nature would very materially tend to 933 the tranquillisation and improvement of Ireland. He might state that, in the union in which he resided, and where this security existed by custom, during the most distressed period the amount of pauperism was only one per cent upon the population. About three months back a Bill had been introduced into that House for the relief of evicted tenants in Ireland. It appeared that numbers of poor people had been summarily turned out of their cottages, and were actually starving; and a Bill was brought in to require the authorities to provide food and lodging for such persons. But in what manner had that Bill been treated? It had been three months in suspense. The Amendments which had been introduced into it in the other House would almost, render it nugatory; and the Bill was now delayed until the other House had considered the Commons' reasons for disagreeing to the Lords' Amendments. That Bill had been brought forward with the object of rescuing hundreds and thousands of persons from actual death by starvation, and yet it had remained for three months before Parliament, after it had been considered, without being passed into a law. If he wished to describe the condition of the poor persons for whose relief this measure was intended, he would use the language quoted by the noble Member for the city of London (Lord J. Russell) in 1846, in opposing the Protection of Life (Ireland) Bill:—…. "Famine is in thy cheeks,Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,Upon thy back hangs ragged misery,The world is not thy friend nor the world's law;The world affords no law to make thee rich:Then he not poor, hut break it.He thought that Parliament should by some means endeavour to ameliorate the condition of these poor persons; and that, instead of sending forth decrees of slaughter and bloodshed, they should try to remove the inducements to insurrectionary movements, by showing a desire to promote the welfare of the Irish people. The noble Lord, on the occasion to which he had just referred, alluded to the danger that by supporting coercive measures, they might afford an argument to the repealers. The noble Lord used this language:—The people might be told, 'You, miserable peasants, shut up from sunset to sunrise, obliged to keep within your miserable hovels, if you are found looking for a stray cow, or visiting an acquaintance who lives in a cottage a few yards from you, you are liable to transportation; but it is not for the security of the lives of the people among whom you live, but it is because English measures 934 were passing through Parliament at the same time; and it is for the sake of those measures that these restrictions are inflicted upon you. Now, tell us, ay or no, is the Parliament of England and Scotland a fit Legislature for Ireland? Will you not seek for a domestic Legislature—will you not use your utmost efforts to obtain repeal?' Why, what answer would there be to such an appeal but a unanimous shout, a unanimous effort of the people, and a declaration, 'We have not justice, we are determined to obtain justice, and it is now proved to us it is not to be had of the Parliament of England.' I say, let the House beware of supplying such an argument as that. If you wish to maintain the Union—if you wish to improve the Union, to make the Union a source of happiness, a source of increased rights, a source of blessing to Ireland as well as to England, a source of increased strength to the united empire, beware lest you in any way weaken the link which connects the two countries. Do not set so far apart the governor and the governed. Do not let the people of Ireland believe that you have no sympathy with their afflictions—no care for their wrongs.This language fully expressed the sentiments which he (Mr. Crawford) entertained; and he hoped the noble Lord would declare his determination to act upon these principles, and that he would not deprive the Irish people of all hope that measures for their relief would be brought forward. He would now state what measures he considered necessary to render Ireland tranquil and prosperous. The first and most important of those measures, with regard to public rights, would be the amendment of the Act of Union in such a manner as to give Ireland a just and fair proportion of representatives in the Legislature. The other measures he would suggest were a new Corporations Bill; a new Registration Hill; a Bill for altering the Appropriation of Church Revenues in Ireland; and a Grand Jury Bill. These were measures affecting public rights, which, in his opinion, were imperatively required. He would also recommend a Landlord and Tenant Bill; a Bill for enabling landlords under entail to charge the inheritance with the cost of improvement; a Bill for the reclamation of waste lands; a measure to impose a system of taxation upon absentee proprietors; the amendment of the poor-law in many respects; a plan to afford reasonable facilities for emigration; and also a measure providing that, under proper regulations, means should be furnished for conducting great public works. He believed that the only way to excite in the people of Ireland a feeling of self-reliance was to give them equal political rights with the people of this country. The Irish people had been clamorous for repeal; but latterly they had de- 935 manded separation. It was his most anxious wish to maintain the connexion between the two countries; but he believed that that connexion could be best preserved by the establishment of a properly constituted legislative body for Ireland. He considered, however, that when persons were preaching rebellion against the constituted authorities, it was not the proper time to raise such a question. It was now for England to consider what she would do with regard to Ireland. It appeared to him that there were only two courses which England could adopt—either to associate Ireland with herself by affection and by remedial measures, or to hold that country by military occupation. There was no medium course between these two. If they determined upon the military occupation of Ireland, one third of the British Army would be required for the purpose; and that military occupation could only apply to the towns—it could not extend to the country. He feared that there was great danger that the present insurrectionary movement might turn into a servile war; and he need scarcely remind the House of the difficulty of protecting life and property throughout the whole of Ireland. He asked them to consider the expense which that would entail upon the country. There would be no possibility of levying taxes; the landlords and the clergy would be starving, as well as the people, and would be dependent for support upon this country. England would thus gradually sink in her means and in her respectability, and would eventually be brought down to the level of Ireland. He thought, then, as one of the representatives of the people of England, that he was only doing his duty in bringing this subject before the House, and in warning them against the infatuated course they were pursuing. He considered that the late Act, in the present situation of Ireland, was an absolute declaration of war; Ireland must be reconquered, and if reconquered, held by the sword. There were many who desired to see an actual collision take place; they thought it would crush for ever any efforts of the Irish people again to resist English rule; but such persons were greatly mistaken. Unless there were an immediate announcement of remedial measures, the result which he anticipated must come. He wished to abstain from saying one word offensive to the Government; but why had they not pressed forward remedial measures? They would say they had not 936 means, or the time; but they had the means and the time to press forward a Coercion Act. Why not say—"We propose such and such measures, and unless they are passed we surrender office?" Why should the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) be responsible for a departure from his own principles, and for the governing of Ireland by coercion? If, indeed, he was obstructed by a majority in that House, and the House would not pass, or had not time to pass, the measures for the benefit of Ireland required by the Government, was not this an unanswerable argument for a repeal of the Union? The noble Lord had requested Irish Members to go home to Ireland and use their influence for the good of their country; he meant to do so, but he wanted to have a message of peace to carry with him; and if he had it not, he did not know how far his influence could be available. He wanted, before he left his place in Parliament, to hear something from the noble Lord that would enable him to say to the people of Ireland—"You have some hope of measures being adopted to improve your condition." If he could go homo with that intelligence, he should go with a light heart; but in the circumstances in which he was at present placed, he should go home with sorrow and dread. No one could repudiate more strongly than himself the principles of those who were now agitating Ireland; but he did not wish to see the people in a condition in which they could be led into acts of plunder. He felt bound to say, that he thought, if the moral power of the country had been better directed, and if the exertions of Irish Members had been steadily applied here, an impression might have been made upon the House; he could not approve of the proceedings of the great majority of the Irish Members. He had often referred to the landlords of Ireland in stating the grievances of the tenantry; but he must say, that the position in which the landlords had been placed by the law was a great excuse for their conduct. When the land was confiscated, they were set over the people as tyrants over slaves, and taught habits of oppression by the law; and if they were acting tyrannically, the conduct of the Governments of England had been in great fault for it. Parliament ought to set about the correction of the evil by good and fair laws as between landlord and tenant, with a view to restore confidence and kind feeling. He would only add, that he trusted he had brought this great subject before 937 the House without any aggravating language. It was not his wish to produce any excitement, and he considered that the question was one proper to be raised in the House. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment he had read.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The hon. Member who has brought forward this Motion, has done it in language so temperate, that I prefer following him immediately to waiting till the course of debate may have introduced greater asperity and warmer contention upon the interesting subjects which he has brought before us. If I must say that I cannot agree in many of the opinions that he has stated, in some of those opinions I do agree; and I am ready, at all events, to state the view which I take of a great portion of the subjects to which he has called the attention of the House. In considering the conduct of this Imperial Parliament, as the hon. Member has brought it before the House, I think it is hardly just to say, that certain measures have been long delayed—that they have been brought before this House many years ago—that this House has not finally carried them into law—and to attribute that delay or that refusal entirely and solely to an unwillingness to debate Irish subjects, or to grant a remedy for Irish grievances. Whether it be a portion of our character and habit—whether it he owing to the complicated nature of our Government—whether it be owing to the habits of debate which prevail in Parliament and in the country—the fact is, that there is hardly any measure of great public importance, whether it relates to the united kingdom or to any portion of the empire, which is ever carried without a very considerable delay—without the vicissitudes of being rejected at one time, triumphant at another—postponed at one period, and only assented to after long discussion. There have been questions which related entirely to this country before the Union took place—questions which did not relate entirely to this country, but which were subjects of debate before—such questions as that of Parliamentary reform, which took upwards of fifty years in settling—such questions as that of the abolition of the slave trade, which took nearly thirty years in discussion; and various other cases in which it is obvious, that whether from the reasons I have mentioned or not, that which was, as I believe, a just and fair cause for legislation did not produce its effect in obtaining the measures that, were 938 asked till after a long period of time, and repeated defeats. I cannot consider, then, that when we are speaking of Irish measures, it should be said that the delay of those measures is entirely owing to an unwillingness to discuss Irish grievances, or to afford that remedy which may seem to some portion of the Irish representatives—it is generally only a portion—to be the must proper. The hon. Member, like others, has described the state in which he finds Ireland at the present moment; and I must, therefore, ask his attention, and that of the House, to the description which was given of the state of Ireland in a pamphlet published somewhere about 1796 or 1797, by an adversary certainly of the Government of that day. It is there stated—If the condition of a people be the best criterion to judge of the excellence of their practical government, how shall the people of Ireland, worse housed, worse clad, and worse fed, than the subjects of the most inveterate despotism in Europe, divest themselves from thinking that they live under one of the worst practical governments in the world?That at least shows that in the opinion of the writer this condition of the people of Ireland, that they were ill-housed and ill-fed, is not the creation of the Imperial Parliament or of the Government since the Union; the inheritance which the Imperial Parliament derived from the Parliament of Ireland before the Union was a people in that unfortunate and miserable condition. But it may be said that there is one grievance at least which is caused entirely by the existence of an Imperial Parliament, a grievance which the hon. Member touched upon—that of absenteeism. But this writer goes on to say—Does the produce of the lands of Ireland go to supply the fund for the employment of its people? No. Your corn, your cattle, your butter, your leather, your yarn, all your superfluous produce, and much more than would be superfluous if the people of Ireland were furnished with the common necessaries of life, are all exported without a return to pay the rents of Irish landlords, who do not think the country worthy of their residence, every particle of which is as utterly lost to the fund for the employment of the people of Ireland as if it had been thrown into the sea.So far, then, it appears that these grievances are not grievances of our creation, that they are of long endurance, that they are rooted in the state of society in Ireland; and all that the hon. Member or any one else can say of the present generation is, that they should do as much as they 939 can, patiently and gradually—because it must be patiently and gradually that a remedy can be applied. And let me say, whatever blame may be imputed to the Governments or the Parliaments of former times, or of this period, that after the condition of a people has become such as it has been represented to be before the Union, the habits, the wishes, the inclinations of the people themselves, tend to maintain and to foster that wretched state of society which I have described. For instance, I consider it as one of the great misfortunes of Ireland, that the population has gone on increasing without a proportionate increase in the means of subsistence and of comfort; that with a state of morals highly commendable, but with a social condition much to be deplored, the early marriages of the peasants of that country, being satisfied with a miserable hovel and a plot of potatoes which furnish a precarious subsistence for a year, without looking to an increase of comforts, without waiting for marriage till there was a sufficiency accumulated for the sure and comfortable subsistence of a married couple—that that state of society has been of itself a misfortune, with which it was very difficult, if not impossible, for any Legislature to deal. I am not saying whether originally the degradation of the Roman Catholics of Ireland as a race, whether the cruel and unjust penal laws, whether the laws which prevented the people from turning their attention to trades and manufactures, whether the religious bigotry of the 17th century and the commercial jealousy of the 18th, may not have originated much of the evils to which I am referring; I am not here vindicating the proceedings of those days, any more than I would stand up for some of the acts of the Norman conquerors, who I believe were as tyrannical and cruel in this country as they were in Ireland; all that I am contending for is, that such having been the case, that such being the difficulty which we inherit, such being the society that we are to govern, it is not the work of a day, or of a month, or of one, or of two, or of three years, to change that state of society—to induce the people to look for a better condition—to put all classes in Ireland into that state of harmony with one another that the progress of society towards civilisation, towards wealth and prosperity, shall be rapid and uninterrupted. Now, with these general observations I enter upon some of the topics on which 940 the hon. Member has touched. I have said that upon some of them I agree with him. He complained that admission to political and civil privileges had been refused to the Roman Catholics of Ireland, from the Union to the year 1829. I myself consider that refusal to have been unjust. I can see nothing in the creed of the Roman Catholics which was to debar them from all the political and civil privileges of other inhabitants of these islands. From the time I had a seat in this House I constantly voted for the removal of Roman Catholic disabilities; and I own I consider it to have been a great misfortune—a misfortune of which we feel the effects to this day—that instead of passing that measure as a part of the Union, or accompanying the Union, it was delayed till 1829. I remember hearing Mr. Canning relate in this House a conversation which he had with Mr. Pitt. He described Mr. Pitt as receiving a despatch of Lord Cornwallis with respect to carrying the measure of the Union. Lord Cornwallis reported—I think I shall carry for you the measure of the Union with England; but the measure of Roman Catholic emancipation, the participation of the Roman Catholics in all the privileges of the Protestants of Ireland, I shall not be able to carry.Mr. Canning stated—Then, if I were you, I would refuse both: I would not have the one without the other.Mr. Canning said, that Mr. Pitt with great reason rebuked the indiscretion and intemperance of the young man to whom he was speaking; but I own that, in reflecting upon what then passed, I very much doubt whether the youthful judgment of Mr. Canning was not wiser than the mature decision of Mr. Pitt. However, that grievance of the difference of privileges, the difference that was made in political privileges between the Roman Catholics and Protestants, was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1829; whatever may have passed for some years, I think it cannot be denied that now it is wholly abolished; I think no one can deny that in Ireland a Roman Catholic who has fair claim to any professional or political distinction or honour has as much access to it as any Protestant can have. There was another subject to which the hon. Member alluded, and on which I think he hardly did justice to what has been done by the Imperial Parliament. One of the greatest evils the people suffered before the Union was 941 the state of the law as to tithes. Not only was every cottager obliged to pay tithes, hut the uncertainty of those tithes, the levying tithes in kind upon all the vegetables of the poor man's plot, the state of the ecclesiastical courts which had to decide upon these questions, the fines and fees that poor men dragged into these courts were obliged to pay—all this constituted a grievance of the most acute and harassing nature. In the first place, the Parliament of the united kingdom sanctioned a plan, proposed, I believe, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge, for the voluntary commutation of tithes. Some years afterwards, 1834, Lord Wellesley recommended a permanent and compulsory commutation of tithes into a rent-charge, and that proposal was carried into effect in 1838, when a deduction of 25 per cent was made upon the whole amount of tithes, leaving, therefore, a charge of 75 per cent to be paid by the landlord. Thus, the tenant was relieved from the payment of the tithes, and by that means an end was put to those angry collisions which had previously been the source, not only of animosity, but almost of a servile war in many parts of Ireland. By that arrangement, the grievance connected with tithes, as far as related to the mode of payment, was put an end to. I am aware that many persons contend that it is a grievance for persons in Ireland to be compelled to pay for the support of the clergy of the minority; but permit me to observe that it is a totally distinct question from the grievance complained of, in the mode of collecting tithe, which it was the object of the Commutation Act to remove. The hon. Member says that the Irish Reform Act is imperfect. It may be so; but, at the same time, I think that the hon. Gentle man should recollect, that it gave the people great power which they had not theretofore possessed—that many close and nomination boroughs, such as Tralee, which, I believe, used to be handed down, by will, from father to son, and the nomination for which was constantly an object of sale—were, by the Reform Act, thrown open, and that thenceforward the people residing in those places really exercised the rights of electors. As to the number of Members for Ireland, that was not properly a question to be settled by the Reform Act, because it had been previously determined by the Act of Union; but, nevertheless, there was an addition of live to the num- 942 ber of Members for Ireland made by the Reform Act. The hon. Member next complained of the state of the law with respect to petty juries in Ireland; but I believe that the law as to juries is the same in Ireland as it is in England. If there be any difference to the prejudice of Ireland, it ought of course, to be corrected; but I believe there is no essential difference between the law in the two countries as regards juries. The hon. Member also referred to the franchise, and the question of the registration of voters. With respect to the franchise, the hon. Gentleman cannot fail to recollect—indeed, he himself alluded to the circumstance—that, in 1840–1, a noble Friend of mine proposed a measure for the extension of the franchise. When I came into office, in 1846, one of the first questions to which I directed the attention of my lamented Friend, Lord Besborough, was the state of the franchise in Ireland; and he prepared the outline of a measure on that subject in the autumn of 1846, and that measure was ready to be introduced at the commencement of the very next Session. I may be asked why that measure was not introduced? Why has it been delayed? I have already answered that question. I say that the great calamity which befell Ireland in the total failure of the chief article of the subsistence of the people of that country made it imperatively necessary that the Government should direct its attention to the means of mitigating that awful and overwhelming visitation. Under these circumstances it was impossible for us to attend to the question of the extension of the franchise. This Session, however, we introduced a Bill respecting the franchise, which, in its nature, is similar to that framed by Lord Besborough, which it has been found necessary to postpone to next Session. The hon. Gentleman complains of this postponement; but no practical evil can result from it, except in the case of one or two isolated elections which may possibly take place between the present time and next Session, unless, indeed, a general election should occur in the interval—an event which is by no means probable. The hon. Member does not find fault with the measure; and, I believe, it is generally admitted that it will considerably extend the franchise in Ireland, and thereby obviate the complaints now made that the number of Irish electors is too limited. Let me observe, however, that, although the people of Ireland may have a 943 fair right to complain of the limited extent to which the franchise is diffused among them, this and other grievances which are frequently referred to are not such as to prevent the progress of the Irish people, provided they would exert themselves manfully to attain that station and condition in society, by industry and attention to their own immediate pursuits, which the freedom of our constitution allows them to reach. Look to the case of Scotland. Previous to the Reform Act of 1833, the people of Scotland had altogether no more than 3,000 electors amongst them; yet, by their spirit and industry, by availing themselves of the genius of our free constitution, and by rightly using those personal liberties which the constitution accords to all who live under it, whether in England, Scotland, or Ireland, the Scotch, in the 80 years which intervened between the rebellion of 1745 and the passing of the Reform Act in 1833, made a more remarkable progress than, I believe, was ever achieved by any other people on the face of the globe. Therefore, while I admit that, with respect to the franchise, and other subjects, the people of Ireland may have just grounds of complaint, I nevertheless totally deny that their grievances are any sufficient reason why they should not make very great progress in wealth and prosperity, if, using the intelligence which they possess in a remarkable degree, they would fix their minds on the advantages which they might enjoy, rather than upon the evils which they suppose themselves to suffer under. The hon. Member referred to another subject in which he takes great interest; and, although I always listen to his opinions upon that point with attention, I must confess I am unable to arrive at the conclusion to which the hon. Gentleman comes—I allude to the question of the relation between landlord and tenant in Ireland. The hon. Member read some extracts from the report of a meeting which took place in the north of Ireland, and referred to the resolutions agreed to at the meeting; but it seems to me that the persons who prepared those resolutions, and who adopt the opinions of the hon. Member on the question of landlord and tenant, and carry them even further than he does, confound two matters which are totally and essentially distinct. What is called tenant-right in Ireland is a usage prevailing in different parts of the country by which an incoming tenant gives to the outgoing one a sum of 944 money, differing in amount in various districts from ten to twelve years' value of the rent to two years' value. Whether the custom be good or bad, it is obvious that the incoming tenant has a claim on the landlord equivalent to the sum, whatever it may be, which he has paid to the outgoing one. It would be a fraud on the tenant if the landlord, having tacitly consented to the custom, should attempt to infringe on it. I should very much regret to see Parliament give its sanction to any Bill having for its object to authorise a breach of faith between landlord and tenant in districts where the custom to which I have adverted exists; but when I have heard the hon. Member argue the question, he has always spoken as if the usage in question ought at once to be transferred from the districts in which it prevails to others in which it has never existed; and the tenant-right advocated by the hon. Member, would, according to the resolutions passed at the meeting to which he referred, amount to this—that the tenant in possession has a right to the occupation of the land, provided he pay his rent punctually. Can anything be more completely subversive of the rights of property than that? Here is a man to whom land has descended, and who lets a part of it, say 100 acres, of a very improvable character, at a low rent, perhaps 7s. or 10s. an acre, in consideration of the improvement which he has a right to expect that the tenant will make on it. Let us suppose that the tenant, instead of improving the land and making it worth 2l. an acre, utterly neglects it, reduces it to a state in which in a few years it would be worth nothing to let to another tenant; its cultivation is bad and foul, and it produces hardly anything but weeds, a few potatoes, and some bad oats. What would be thought if the Legislature should pass an Act which would declare that in such a case as I have put, the right to the occupation of the land should no longer belong to the landlord, but should at once be transferred to the tenant? It is impossible for the Legislature, with any regard for justice, to pass such a law; and if such a law were passed for Ireland, it would strike at the root of property in the whole united kingdom. The Government has introduced a measure for the improvement of the land, and for regulating the relation between landlords and tenants in Ireland. It seems to be generally agreed that that measure, interfering compulsorily between landlord and tenant, is necessary 945 for Ireland; and I have yielded my own conviction to what appears to be the universal opinion. We purpose interfering so far as to render it necessary for the landlord to submit to certain conditions with respect to the treatment of the land, to which he may not have originally agreed, for the purpose of promoting improvement. I think we have gone as far as we can with respect to that subject. Although the Bill has passed through a Committee consisting mainly of Irish Members, and been approved of, there will not be time to pass it during the present Session, and therefore it will he postponed. I hope the measure will be well considered in Ireland during the recess, and if any emendations can be suggested, the Government will be ready to adopt them, it being our wish to do all in our power to improve the land in Ireland, only taking care not to violate the great principles on which property rests; but, after all, that which we should look to for improving the relations between landlord and tenant, is a better mutual understanding between those who occupy those relative positions. Voluntary agreements between landlords and tenants, carried out for the benefit of both, are, after all, a better means of improving the land of Ireland than any legislative measure which can he passed. The hon. Member referred to the poor-law; but I do not think that any blame can fairly be cast upon Government for not having sooner introduced poor-laws into Ireland. I believe that the poor-law has been the means of preserving life in Ireland by affording relief to the poor who are absolutely destitute; but at the same time, being aware of the abuses inseparable from a poor-law, and of its effect in deadening industry, I was naturally reluctant to introduce that system into Ireland rashly and on too extensive a scale. After all, I believe that the poor-law will tend to the civilisation of Ireland, by putting an end to those habits of mendicity, akin to robbery, which prevail in countries that have no poor-laws. The hon. Member expressed a wish that the land of Ireland should be divided into small farms similar to those which are found in the county of Down, which he thought would render it unnecessary to have recourse to emigration. In alluding to this question last year, I showed, by reference to statistical documents, that in some of the most populous and, at the same time, most flourishing countries of Europe, the practice prevailed of dividing the land into small farms. [An Hon. 946 MEMBER: What do you mean by small farms?] An hon. Member asks very naturally what I mean by small farms? I am aware that what we call a small farm in England would be thought a large one in Ireland; but I was alluding to such a division of land as exists in Tuscany, where the farms do not exceed six or seven acres in extent. In order to establish such a system in Ireland, great changes must take place—changes not effected by law, but dependent on the conduct of the landlords, on the ability of persons of small capital to purchase portions of land, and on various other circumstances of that nature. It docs not accord with my notion of a small farm, that the holding should be a plot of ground too largo for a garden, but not large enough for a farm. I believe that such holdings are productive of much evil in the west of Ireland. I think that the Encumbered Estates Bill, which will be passed this Session, will lead to the division of land into smaller farms than at present exist. And while the large farms of Northumberland and other counties of England are the best system, according to the habits of the inhabitants of those counties, in Ireland you must leave those things to take their own course, and to be settled according to the habits of the people in the different parts of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman alluded to a Bill which was brought in on a subject similar to the one I have just spoken of, on the question of the evicted tenantry. Now, while I cannot allow that any person by the mere occupation of land, at the will and pleasure of the landlord, or perhaps against his will and pleasure, has thereby gained a right to occupy in all succeeding time, yet I do think the driving out a great number of the small occupants—the driving them out by some summary process, perhaps in a winter's evening, and leaving them without the means of shelter and food—I say I do think that such a practice, although there may be everything that is said as to the legal conduct of the landlord, and although there may be something to be said as regards his moral conduct, so far as the conduct of the tenant has been faulty towards him—shows a cruelty and want of good feeling with which it is incumbent and necessary for the law to deal. I was, therefore, party to bringing in a Bill introduced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department, by which it was provided, that where a landlord was left in the full possession of 947 his right at law to eject a tenant, while the law gave him that power, yet that care should be taken that by due notice to the guardians of the poor shelter and food should be provided for those miserable outcasts, some of whom, perhaps, might be afflicted with fever and other diseases, and some of the women, perhaps, just after childbirth, not able to bear the inclemency of the weather, and to be absolutely in need of such food and shelter, in order to their preservation. I do not think that we are liable to be charged by the hon. Gentleman with having been in this House tardy in carrying that Bill through; the Bill was introduced and read a first time on the 22nd of April—that was immediately before the Easter holidays; it was read a second time after the recess on the 2nd of May; and a third time and passed on the 8th of May. I think, therefore, that, considering the holidays, there was no want of despatch as to that Bill. I very much lament to say, that the view I had taken of that Bill, and the sanction that was given to it by this House, was not adopted by the House of Lords. When the Bill came back to this House, I own it appeared to me that the Bill did not only not make the law at all better than it now is, but, in some respects, made it worse. We could not, therefore, agree to those Amendments. The Bill is going back to the House of Lords; and I trust that they will take the same view which this House took on the subject, and that there may be a remedy which the law will afford in such afflicting cases. Then, the hon. Gentleman proceeded with his remedies in the present state of Ireland. I will not at the present moment say, whether or not it would be possible now to go into the consideration of all the various remedies; but I will state what it is the hon. Gentleman thinks necessary to put Ireland in a better social and political condition. The hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to have additional Members in this House for Ireland. I do not deny that there may come a time when it may be advisable that additional Members should be allowed to Ireland, in the place of some of those boroughs which this House thinks it right to disfranchise; but I say that I do not think that this is at the present time necessary. I do not find there has been that attendance of Irish Members to induce me to think, from their legislative talents and industry, that it would be advisable to add to the Members for Ireland. The hon. Gentleman thinks there should be measures for 948 altering the system of registration, including the franchise. I have stated that we have already introduced a Bill on the subject, and that it will be no loss of time if that Bill is not proceeded with till the next Session. The hon. Gentleman wishes to have some additional measure with regard to corporations. For several years I contended in this House that it was but right to place corporations in Ireland on the same footing as corporations in England. I think there is a great deal to be said on the other side of the question. It was predicted that those reformed corporations, instead of attending to municipal and local affairs of their own cities and boroughs, would become violent political bodies; that in some eases they would rather add to and aid any disaffection that prevailed in the country, than lessen or control it by their municipal and magisterial power. There was great weight in that objection. But at the same time I was, and I am still of opinion, that municipal institutions—that corporations elected by the people—are of great benefit to the people; they are so in England and Scotland; and it would produce a just and well-founded discontent if we were to refuse to Ireland that which was considered in England and Scotland an advantage. I, therefore, should have no objection, generally speaking, to the extension of the franchise in those corporations, in the same manner as it is extended in England. There are, however, some powers which corporations have in England, which I think are of doubtful advantage, and which ought not to be introduced into any new Bill as to Ireland. The hon. Gentleman alluded to the grand jury law; with respect to that law, that again was a subject that occupied the attention of Lord Besborough, and has also occupied the attention of Lord Clarendon; but such has been the business of this House that we have not been able, with any chance of carrying it, to introduce a Bill upon that subject. I quite agree that it is a subject of the greatest importance. I cannot conceive anything more useful to Ireland than to have good local bodies in her counties who would promote the making of roads and other improvements by a careful, just, and honest expenditure of the rates levied in those counties. I think large powers ought to be granted to the counties in that respect. The hon. Gentleman has alluded to his Landlord and Tenant Bill, of which I have spoken. He alluded, likewise, to 949 the Waste Lands Bill. Now, Sir, I introduced a Waste Lands Bill into this House, which gave great compulsory powers. We afterwards abandoned that Bill; but we added 500,000l. to the sum given for the improvement of land by landlords, and for the reclamation of waste lands. I think that such a measure was, at all events, rightly introduced before the introduction of any compulsory measure. Such a compulsory measure met with very great difficulties, and there were other objections of an economical nature as to any expenditure of the Government for the purpose of reclaiming and beginning the cultivation of the waste lands. The hon. Gentleman has alluded to the assistance that was given to railways. A very considerable measure was introduced by my noble Friend the First Commissioner of the Woods and Forests when he was Secretary for Ireland; but it certainly did not meet with any great encouragement in this House. We did last year propose a vote of considerable amount as a loan to one of the railway companies in Ireland, which was approved of by this House, but we met with considerable opposition. But, to introduce any measure of that kind, we ought to have a more flourishing state of the finances than we can boast of at this moment. I do not think that we ought to advise any largo expenditure of that kind unless there was a surplus balance in the Exchequer. With regard to measures for Ireland generally, I shall say that they divide themselves into three classes—social, political, and religious. With regard to measures bearing on the social character of the people, we have introduced and carried into effect an amended poor-law by which a vast number of persons have been fed during the present year. We have likewise introduced a measure for the sale of encumbered estates, which, although it will not have any immediate operation, as the hon. Gentleman said, will, I believe, in time, be found of great social advantage. I can conceive nothing worse for Ireland than an estate encumbered in such a manlier that there is no person to perform the duties of a landlord, where there is only a nominal landlord, receiving so small a sum from the rental that it is impossible he can give anything to the improvement of the land, and where there are others having an interest in the land so temporary or doubtful that they do not feel themselves bound by any obligations of a real or permanent character. I trust that that great evil will 950 meet with some correction from the Bill we have introduced. With respect to political measures, there is the question of the franchise, upon which we have introduced a measure, and which seems to meet the wishes of many of those who ask for an extended franchise. The other question is one of the utmost difficulty—that which relates to religion and the ecclesiastical establishment in Ireland, upon which I have myself taken a very prominent part on former occasions—I allude to the position of the Established Church in Ireland, which is a Church to which only a minority of the people belongs; but which has always had the revenues that are recognised and acknowledged by the State. This state of things is far from satisfactory. No one can deny that the appropriation of the whole of the revenues which the State allows and recognises as the revenues of the Established Church of a small portion of the people, is in itself an anomaly and a grievance. But if I consider, from acknowledging that grievance, what can be the remedy adopted, I own I find the difficulty almost insuperable. The measure that I proposed was, that a portion of the revenues of the Established Church should be devoted to the education of the people of every class and creed; but with respect to that measure, which, if it had been adopted at that time, would, I think, have given great satisfaction, yet, when it was refused, and refused more than once, the circumstances became entirely altered. The Protestants felt it a great grievance to have any part of their Church revenues separated from the purposes of that Church; and they considered that the separation of a part would lead to the abolition of the whole Establishment. Those who, on the other hand, considered the Church Establishment as a grievance, not seeing this measure carried into effect at once, carried their views much further, and would not be satisfied with less than the abolition of the entire Protestant Establishment. In such a condition it was useless to attempt to advance that measure. It would have been almost impossible to have carried it; but, if carried, it would not have produced the effect originally intended. Well, then, Sir, should we adopt the measure proposed the other day by the hon. Member for Manchester—the abolition of the Protestant Church Establishment? For my own part, I believe that the Protestants of Ireland, living in a country where a Church Establishment is acknowledged, have a 951 fair claim to have a Church Establishment of their own; that they have a fair claim that that Establishment shall be acknowledged by the State; and I do not know that, diminished as the tithes have been, diminished as the property of the Church has been, by the abolition of church rates, taking the Protestants of Ireland at somewhere about a million—[An Hon. MEMBER: 750,000]—there is any great excess in the amount allowed to that Protestant Church. Then are there not other reasons why you should not proceed to the abolition of that Church? I can well understand that men who are for what is called the voluntary principle—who think the Church Establishment of England an abuse—who think the Church of Scotland an abuse—and that the American principle is the true principle to be adopted—I can, I say, well understand that they should demand the instant abolition of the Church of Ireland; but for myself I have other views. For reasons I have frequently expressed in this House, I think that such an Establishment is a wise institution for the country. I believe that where it is properly devoted to the purposes for which it was intended, a Church Establishment is a blessing to the people amongst whom it is established. Nor, Sir, can I see that there would be any advantage in doing with the rest of the tithes that which we have done with 25 per cent of them. Well, then, there arise other questions. There arises the question whether, having a Church Establishment for Protestants, whether exactly of its present amount or in any degree different from its present amount, you should have in its place any other establishment of the faith of the great majority of the people. Every one is aware of the difficulties that beset that question. Every one is aware, not merely of the difficulties that exist in the strong feelings of the greater part of the people of England and Scotland—which, however, would be, in my opinion, no bar to the endowment of the Roman Catholic Church if it were thought advisable for Ireland—but every one must acknowledge that there are practical difficulties in the way, and that those practical difficulties ought not to be encountered without being satisfied that the people of Ireland, generally, ask for this endowment, and that it would be willingly and readily acceded to by Parliament. What have we heard to-night? We have seen the most eminent Roman Catholic clergy denounce every attempt to endow 952 their Church as an attempt to bribe the clergy away from the cause of the people; and I feel quite sure of one thing, that if I declared myself in favour of such a proceeding, I should hear, not that it was an endeavour to do justice to the people of Ireland, by giving an establishment to the majority as well as the minority, but that it was an endeavour to seduce the clergy of Ireland from their flocks, and to bribe them to the service of the State. Here, then, are the difficulties of that question, partly ecclesiastical and partly religious. It forms a difficulty in the state of Ireland, with which unhappily Mr. Pitt did not attempt to cope when he framed his plan for the purpose of the Union. It is a difficulty with which, I believe, some Government or other, some Parliament or other of this country, must cope; but I would deprecate any attempt to encounter this difficulty unless circumstances are favourable to the success of the measure that was advisable to be proposed. I think that the excitement of great religious animosities, the giving occasion to attack the religion of a great part of the people of these islands, the giving occasion to excite one man against another on the ground of the difference of his religious creed—would be a very serious fault, if not a crime, on the part of any Government, unless they were to see that though that temporary evil might be caused, some great ultimate benefit would be derived from it. I, therefore, leave this subject—not denying its importance—not denying that, as the question stands, it is a grievance, but at the same time pointing out its immense difficulty, and declaring that the question ought not to be encountered unless there is a prospect of the solution of that difficult problem. The hon. Gentleman who has made this Motion asks us to go into the consideration of these various questions. In the latter part of the resolution he asks you for the speedy enactment of such measures as may be necessary to improve the condition, redress the grievances, and establish the just rights, of the Irish people. The hon. Gentleman, who spoke, I must say, with great candour and fairness, is much mistaken if he thinks it is from any wish of ours that the measures he thinks calculated to redress grievances have been delayed. Nothing could redound more to the ease or credit of the Government than being able to bring their measures, one after the other, under the consideration of Parliament, to have such as are approved 953 of speedily passed, and to have those that are not approved of either corrected or rejected, for another and better consideration. It is not surely the Government, therefore, who are to be accused of having caused the delay of the various measures which hon. Gentlemen have thought necessary, or which the Government may have thought necessary, for the good of Ireland. No one can have attended to the debates during the present Session without feeling how great are the difficulties in the way of carrying a series of measures into effect. There was an object of great importance to the navigation, the manufactures, and the commerce of the whole united kingdom, which we were anxious to effect—I allude to the change in the navigation laws; but, owing to the protracted debates in this House, the measure relating to that subject cannot be carried during the present Session. Nor can I promise that I shall have any influence, by making an alteration in the rules of the House, even if such an alteration were practicable, to change the habit of long and protracted debates. The habit of bringing on various discussions on a multiplicity of subjects, and of interweaving the subjects of those discussions one with another, is, I am afraid, one which has become too inveterate for me to entertain the hope of possessing sufficient influence to change it. So long, therefore, as this habit lasts, Ireland must take its share with the rest of the united kingdom in the delay that may happen by the postponement of measures which are of very great importance. It is not, I feel confident, any indisposition on the part of the Government, or any indisposition on the part of the majority of this House, to consider such measures as may tend to benefit Ireland, that gives rise to that delay. I feel convinced that if the House were persuaded that the re-presentatives of Ireland really demanded the enactment of certain measures, and that those measures would tend to the benefit of Ireland, they would he as readily considered and adopted as any measures which could be proposed for the benefit of any other portion of the empire But, whatever those measures may be, or the delays may be, let me conclude as. I began, by stating, that the grievances of Ireland are not grievances of a recent date—that they are not caused by enactments within the last few years, or by the neglect of enactments during the last few years—but that, although their principal character 954 may be social, yet they are also political and religious grievances of long standing, and which cannot be easily or speedily redressed. I trust that that want of speedy and easy redress will not be imputed as a fault to the present Parliament of the united kingdom, any more than it would be to any special Parliament of Ireland. I believe we, as an Imperial Parliament, have some advantages over a Parliament sitting in Ireland for remedying the grievances which exist in that country, because we must always recollect that in Ireland there is not one really indisputable path which, in the opinion of an undisputed majority, would lead that country to prosperity and happiness. On the contrary, such is the division of opinion in Ireland, that I do think it useful, very often, in order to soothe the asperities that exist, to introduce the opinions of persons who are less mingled with party, and with the political and religious animosities of that country. All that I can ask of the House is, not to assent to the impossible task laid before us by the hon. Gentleman; but to proceed calmly and gradually to the removal of any grievances that may affect the people of Ireland; and, above all, to be persuaded that it is by peaceable methods, and by discussion in Parliament, that a redress of those grievances is to be obtained; that a resort to arms and to rebellion can but lead to an aggravation of the misfortunes that already afflict that country; that the resources of Ireland, great as they are, would speedily be sacrificed and dissipated in civil warfare; and, finally, that we should alone look to the maintenance of the authority of the law to enable the industrious and the peaceable in Ireland, under the free institutions of this empire, to advance in happiness and prosperity.
§ MR. H. HERBERT
thought the peculiar evil of the legislation of this country for Ireland was, not that the measures were unsuitable, but that they were not concomitant with one another. The poor-law, for instance, was an admirable mea-sure; but any one might have seen that it would be a failure unless it were accompanied by other measures for the cultivation of the waste lands, or for otherwise employing the poor. Then, again, the Encumbered Estates Bill was a capital measure; and he only regretted that it was not passed at the time the Poor Law Bill was enacted. It would have admirably assisted the operation of the latter measure. But he discountenanced the idea 955 which the Irish seemed to entertain that everything was to he done by legislation. Would legislation make a tyrant landlord just? Would legislation make an idle tenant industrious and honest? It had been said of Mr. O'Connell that he found his countrymen slaves, and that he loft them free men. This he did not mean to dispute; but still he believed that the spirit of agitation which prevailed in Ireland had done more to retard the prosperity of the country than any legislation of that House. ["No, no!"] Hon. Gentlemen cried out "No, no;" but at all events, in expressing his opinion, he hoped he had done so with due respect to the memory of the illustrious man he had mentioned. It was much required in Ireland that the leaders of the people would have the moral courage to speak the truth. If the people were to obey the instructions of the Catholic clergy, as contained in the letter of the Roman Catholic clergy of Tralee, published some time ago, and which enjoined them to shake off the torpor of their character, and turn their attention to the development of the soil, their condition would he far better. He was much gratified that the Irish clergy were giving similar advice to their flocks, and in so doing they were entitled to the thanks of the country; for, taking them as a body, when he remembered the privations they had suffered, and the position in which they were placed, his surprise was not that a few were disaffected, but that there was one loyal subject among them.
feared that the speech of Her Majesty's Chief Minister would not be considered a message of peace in Ireland. Though the noble Lord had adverted to many of the grievances which pressed on that country, he did not hold out the slightest hope of redress. The noble Lord said, indeed, that he looked to the calm and gradual course of amelioration; but in the mean time what was to become of the starving and miserable people of Ireland? Were they to lie down and die? Or could it be expected that content would prevail, whilst the old religious ascendancy was still maintained, for the Roman Catholic Emancipation Act had not yet been fairly carried out. With regard to the tithe system, although it had been abolished in part, whilst a vestige of it remained, it could never be looked upon in any other light than as a degradation by the great majority of the population. He admitted that Ireland had gained by the abolition of the nomination 956 borough system, but she had lost greatly by the abolition of the 40s. freeholders. With reference to the improvement of the social condition of Ireland, the first great requisite was agricultural improvement; and he was confirmed in this by the evidence of Lord Devon given before the Select Committee on the Farmers' Estate Bill, to the effect that the efforts of the Legislature ought to be directed to the creation of a class of small landed proprietors. Colonisation and emigration, he believed, would he wholly inoperative to relieve the country of the weight of destitution under which it was suffering. With respect to the tenant-right in Ulster, to which the noble Lord had cursorily alluded, he was rejoiced to find that the noble Lord was not disposed to view that institution otherwise than favourably. Unlike many other Irish Members, he entirely approved of the poor-law which had been passed for Ireland last Session, recognising the principle that in some cases, and under certain circumstances, it was right and proper that outdoor relief should be administered to the destitute; but notwithstanding that on principle he was friendly to the enactment, he did not hesitate to predict that it would not work well, or allay the discontent which at present prevailed amongst the ratepayers, unless some important alterations were introduced with respect to the mode of rating, and the apportionment of the electoral divisions. He entirely concurred with the noble Lord in thinking that it was a matter of very considerable importance that railways should he constructed in Ireland; and he could not refrain from expressing how unaffectedly sorry he was that the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord George Bentinck) had not been assented to by that House last Session. It would not have cost England one shilling, while it would have infallibly conferred great and lasting benefit on the people of Ireland. The observations which the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had offered with respect to the Church Establishment in Ireland, were not as worthy of commendation as some other passages of the noble Lord's speech. He feared that, on the noble Lord's remarks, with reference to this subject, no other interpretation could be placed than this, that the noble Lord was still in favour of the maintenance of that Establishment. The Church Establishment of Ireland would be ever regarded by the Catholics of that country as a badge of bondage; and he 957 did not hesitate to say that nothing could be more unwise—nothing more impolitic or unstatesman-like—than the determination to continue such an institution. He thought it right, however, to add, that he did not wish to see the ecclesiastical revenues in Ireland appropriated to Catholic purposes, and he was most decidedly hostile to any State provision for the Catholic clergy. He had but very imperfectly touched on a few of the topics dwelt upon by the noble Lord; but he should not be justified in trespassing any longer on the attention of the House.
§ MR. MONSELL
, feeling strongly with regard to the present miserable condition of Ireland, could not hesitate to give his vote in favour of the hon. Gentleman's proposition. In opposition to the opinions of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Fagan), he must say, that there was not one single Member in that House, of any party, be he English, Scotch, or Irish, however different from others might be the views that he took as to the means of remedying the evils of Ireland, who did not sincerely and heartily desire to remedy those evils, and was not prepared to exercise his utmost energies in the removal of them. He would ask the House to consider, for one moment, what was the present condition of Ireland. It was not necessary for him to go into any lengthened proof on that subject—it would answer his purpose to recall to the attention of the House the remarkable letter read by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer a few nights ago, in which was described the condition of every class of the Irish people—landlords of the west of Ireland being described to be in debtors' prisons—fields deserted—and the people out of employment. When the House recollected all these things, it would be mere surplusage in him to endeavour to amplify that description, or to adduce any arguments to prove that the social condition of Ireland was most desperate. But, in giving his vote in favour of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale, he was, of course, obliged to show that these evils were such as, he did not say might be remedied, but might, at all events, be mitigated by legislation. [The hon. Member, on this subject, quoted a long passage from the speech of Lord Howick (now Earl Grey), in 1813, who then declared that the evils of Ireland might be remedied by legislation.] Every one (he continued) who considered the sub- 958 ject must confess that the present social condition of Ireland was attributable to the relation which existed in that country between capital and labour. Until they increased the capital of Ireland, or diminished the numbers of those who required employment, it was idle for that House to imagine that any thing else that they could do for Ireland would deliver her from the miserable condition in which she was placed. Now, there was a very remark-able fact, which, he thought, showed very clearly what the state of Ireland was with reference to the employment of capital. He held in his hand returns moved for by the present Solicitor General, of the amount of stocks and annuities transferred from Ireland to England for several years. On the 5th of January, 1848, the amount of annuities transferred from Ireland to England was 1,384,482l. So that by reason of the insecure state of Ireland, oven the capital which was in it flew from it. It sought investment anywhere else rather than in Ireland. The owners of capital there preferred a low rate of interest and security in England, to a high rate of interest in Ireland, with the insecurity that attached to property there. Now, how was that evil to be remedied? In the first place, he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Kerry, that nothing could be more idle than the imagination that legislation alone could give prosperity to Ireland; but he did, at the same time, maintain that without legislation, without giving some hope to the industrious man—without giving some expectation that self-reliance would accomplish its end—it was idle for that House to imagine that self-reliance would be produced. And, therefore, although it might seem to hon. Gentlemen to be a small thing to put in the front of so great a matter, he should say that the first thing that ought to be done was to hasten, in every way, that arrangement with regard to settling the area of taxation for the poor which was now being made under the directions of Her Majesty's Government, and to bring it into play with the least possible delay. And, if he might adduce one reason more than another which ought to induce Her Majesty's Government to endeavour to hurry that arrangement, it would be the accounts that bad reached this country with regard to the state of the potato crop in Ireland. And be did entreat Her Majesty's Government not again to face the frightful evil of famine with the area of taxation as large as it 959 now was. There was another question of far greater magnitude, which he must also take that opportunity of pressing upon Her Majesty's Government, and upon the House—the question of colonisation. Unless that House determined to encourage colonisation to a large extent, all their exertions on behalf of Ireland would be thrown away; for there were many districts in Ireland in which the small farms, or rather wretched holdings, described by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) did not exist. Until they took steps to get rid of that wretched system of small holdings, Ireland would remain in its present miserable condition. With regard to the measure which had just passed with regard to Ireland—the Encumbered Estates Bill—he augured great good from it. He also believed that much good might be expected to result from the adoption of the measure which had been introduced by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland, with regard to registration, but which it had been found necessary to postpone until next Session, when he trusted that it would be passed into a law. But the question which he believed to be the most important of all, was the ecclesiastical condition of Ireland. He confessed that the expressions which had fallen from the noble Lord on that subject had given him the greatest possible pain. The noble Lord had stated that he still felt as he did when he sat upon the Opposition benches, that it was most desirable to establish religious equality in Ireland; but he dwelt upon the great difficulty of discovering any plan for the accomplishment of that object. He felt that the subject was one of very great difficulty; but he would tell that House that it was a difficulty which they must face. He wanted to know why it was that, whilst they found Roman Catholics and Protestants living together in perfect amity in other countries—in Bavaria, Silesia, and every part of the Continent—in Ireland they found them always arrayed in bitter hostility to each other. Did not every one acquainted with Ireland feel assured that, if unfortunately the misguided people who were now in arms in that country provoked a war, that war would become a religious war—it would not only be a war of the poor against the rich, but of Catholics against Protestants? Well, now, he wanted to know why that should be the case? Because the maintenance of the Established Church in Ireland was the maintenance of the marks of conquest, 960 which produced the most bitter results; and, until they entirely removed those galling marks, and established perfect religious equality, there could be no peace in that country. The real difficulty in settling this question was that the Government feared to encounter the religious feeling or bigotry of the people of England and Scotland. He entreated the Government to reconsider their decision upon this question—boldly to grapple with this grievance; for by so doing they would be taking the greatest step towards the pacification of Ireland.
§ MR. OSBORNE
could not regard the question then before them in a merely Irish point of view. He believed that it was a question deeply affecting the welfare of England and Scotland as well as Ireland. He believed that it was a great national question, and as such he should address himself to its consideration. He thought that no hon. Member could say he was entirely satisfied at the close of this Session of Parliament to leave Ireland in the state in which it at present existed, and which was every day getting worse. Having commenced the Session by passing a Coercion Act, and finished by a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, it could hardly be said that the House had done its duty towards Ireland. It was a remarkable fact that on that very day, the 28th of July, 1803 (forty-five years ago), the House of Commons was employed in suspending the Habeas Corpus Act for Ireland. Now, he would ask, what had the House done in these forty-five years to produce any salutary change in the condition of Ireland. He must tell the House that there was a deep conviction on the minds of the people—he did not allude either to Young Ireland or Old Ireland, but to the people generally—that that House was incapable of legislating for Ireland; and if there was one duty more incumbent than another on Her Majesty's Ministers and the House of Commons at the present time, it was to show that they were able and willing to grapple with Irish questions—not to fold their arms with complacency, and point to the Encumbered Estates Bill, the Landlord and Tenant Bill, or any other single measure, but to address themselves like men to the consideration of the whole question of the remedies for the grievances of Ireland. He remembered—and the majority of the House would remember—that in the course of last Session, in the year 1847, when a large deputation of what was then called 961 "the Irish Party" waited on the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government to expostulate with him on certain clauses of the Poor Law Act, the noble Lord cut short the existence of that party by a most laconic query—"What other plans do you propose?" The Irish Party was silent. They proposed no other plan; and in the course of that week the Irish Party expired. He would say to Her Majesty's Government, "What other plans do you propose on this occasion? You have suspended the constitution. What other plans do you propose?" However excellent the tone of the noble Lord's speech might be in the opinion of the House, it would not do on the other side of the Channel; the very milk-and-water hopes he held out would scarcely compensate the Irish people for the very injurious measures he had carried. Indeed, there was no mention of any remedies or of any plans but those they had had this Session. For the fifteenth time—he spoke within his own limited experience—an hon. Member got up and called the attention of the House to the state of Ireland, and the necessity of remedial measures. To the present times, indeed, the language of that great orator, Hussey Burgh, might well be applied when he said, "Talk not of peace. Ireland is not in a state of peace. Ireland is in a state of smothered war." How was it that Ireland was at this moment in a state of smothered war? It had been said Ireland did not come before Parliament in a proper manner to prefer a statement of her grievances. Did the bon. Member who had said so ever hoar of "a starving people taught to writhe with grace and groan in melody?" Was it strange, if they felt themselves an oppressed nation, that they did not come before that House with "bated breath" and bended knee? Hon. Gentlemen might talk of concessions. He denied that any voluntary concessions had been made to Ireland. The Limited Parliaments Bill, the repeal of Poyning's law, the great measure of emancipation—why the statesmen of England, from Lord Grenville down to Lord J. Russell, would acknowledge that they had been extorted by the fears of this country. The maxim of the great English poet had been forgotten—Who gives constrained, but his own fear reveals;Not thanked, but scorned; nor are these gifts, but spoils.So would their measures be regarded by 962 the Irish people, till granted, not to meet the exigency of the moment, but to comply with the demands of justice. When they spoke of the ingratitude of Ireland, might he not ask, have you done justice to that country? He defied any one to say that justice had ever been done to the people of Ireland. The Government at one time hanged the Irish, at another caressed them; again deceived them, and then discarded them. What were the declarations of the two leading statesmen in this country, and of different parties, with respect to Ireland? In 1829, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth said—We cannot determine on remaining idle spectators of discord and disturbance in Ireland. The universal voice of this country declares that something must be done. I am but echoing the sentiments of all reasonable men when I say that something must be done.That "something," it might be presumed, was Catholic emancipation. What had been the language held by the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government, so late as 1844? On the 13th of February, 1844, Lord J. Russell said—We have before us the notorious facts that Ireland is tilled with troops; that the barracks where the troops are posted have been fortified; that preparations have been made as if the Government were hourly in expectation of civil war. We have before us, in short, the fact that Ireland is occupied and not governed by those who now hold the reins of power. I say, and say it deliberately, Ireland is occupied, not governed, by the present Administration"—[the Administration of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth]. "In England, the Government, as it should be and has been, is a Government of opinions: the Government of Ireland is notoriously a Government of force.That was in 1844. In 1848, what did the House think was the state of Ireland? Was it not as much "occupied, not governed," as in 1844? The alternative of this moment seemed to be nothing but civil war or repeal of the Union. It had been said of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, that Ireland was his chief difficulty. So it was supposed, not only in Ireland but in this country, that the present Government possessed I some extraordinary secret for putting matters to rights in Ireland. When the noble Lord displaced the right hon. Baronet on a Coercion Bill for Ireland, some people shrugged their shoulders; they had their doubts; some objected to the change with reference to the foreign policy of the country; others had other grounds of hesitation; but, on the whole, there was won- 963 derful unanimity in the opinion that the noble Lord's party could set Ireland to rights; the noble Lord had nothing to do but to take his seat on the Treasury bench, and forthwith a series of remedial measures would appear for Ireland. It was not surprising that the people of Ireland, trusting to the words of the noble Lord—as for the last fifty years they had trusted to his party—believed that he had some wonderful secret—that they might look to him as to a second St. Patrick—that he would at once expel all grievances from Ireland. Their expectations might be exorbitant, but they had not arisen without cause. They could scarcely have believed that the noble Lord would have stopped short like the celebrated conjuror who advertised that he would on such a day enter a quart bottle. The promises of the noble Lord raised the public expectation. The people of Ireland were on tiptoe. Could any one be astonished if the Irish people and the Irish Members were disappointed when the advertisement was not fulfilled, and mortified when they found that the noble Lord and his Friends had only crept into office? The noble Lord ejected the right hon. Baronet on a Coercion Bill. He made extraordinary promises; but the promises of a Minister in posse, were like lovers' promises. The people of Ireland, however, had long memories. They were taught to expect extraordinary results from the administration of the noble Lord. The Government now in office turned out the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth on a Coercion Bill. On the 15th of June, 1846, the noble Lord opposed the Coercion Bill of the right hon. Baronet, and then said, that Coercion Bill—was not accompanied, above all, with such measures of relief, of remedy, and of conciliation, affecting the great mass of the people of Ireland who were in distress, as ought to accompany any measure tending to an increased rigour of the law.The noble Lord took office on the express promise that he was immediately to bring in those measures of conciliation and relief. How had he carried out that promise? What had been the upshot of two years' liberal administration? Two Coercion Acts, splendid promises, and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. If complaints were made, what happened? The Chancellor of the Exchequer got up and said, "self-reliance." The noble Lord said, "gradual progress." A noble Lord, in another place, the other day read a homily on tranquillity and letting things 964 alone. Without venturing to suggest to Her Majesty's Ministers the question whether they ever got out of their depth, it might be asked, what would the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the noble Lord, if they were drowning, think, were a passenger on the bank to make them a very cool bow and say, "Self-reliance—gradual progress—tranquillity—let things alone!"Although the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer and his noble brother-in-law might be very good types of tranquillity, yet to hold out such things at the present moment to Ireland was most inopportune and most offensive. He held in his hand an address from Irish Members in 1843, subscribed by nearly all the Members of that House connected with Ireland, and by three Members of the present Government. It was an answer to the question, "What do the Irish require?" And, as to the first thing which the Irish required, they said—We demand the recognition of perfect equality in regard to ecclesiastical and educational arrangements between the several religious communities into which the population of Ireland are divided.That raised a question on which he should make bold to enter at some little length, the question of the Irish Church. It was very far from his intention to utter anything that could be construed into the least slur upon its ministers. For the ministers of the Protestant church he entertained a high respect; a more excellent body of men did not exist. He possessed the advantage of knowing some amongst them, who were men of very high attainments—men who would do honour to any Church; but they were not the men who danced attendance at the levees of viceroys, or dedicated controversial sermons to viceroys' ladies. He should not then mention names, fearing that it might be painful to their feelings; but were the personal merits of the men a reason why the vicious system should continue? Hon. Gentlemen had often been heard to say, that "the Established Church in Ireland was a monstrous grievance; but after all, the Irish Members did not complain;" to say so was really taking a superficial view of the subject. He believed that there was much false delicacy amongst the Roman Catholic Members of that House on the subject of the Irish Church; he apprehended that they did not speak out. Let them ask the hon. Member for Dublin, and he would tell them that throughout the 965 greater part of Ireland the Church was almost always the object of "curses not loud but deep." That hon. Member, and every man who knew anything of Ireland, would toll them that the Irish Church was at the root and was the cause of all the heart-burnings, discontent, and disaffection which prevailed in Ireland. It was an enormity for which there scarcely ever had existed a parallel—with one exception, he had never heard or read of anything of the sort. There were in Ireland 750,000 members of the Established Church. He would not admit there was a million. The question was not how many Protestant Dissenters there might be in Ireland; but how many individuals there were in that country who continued to be in communion with the Established Church. Now, for the religious; instruction of this small population of 750,000 souls there were twelve bishops, the aggregate of whose incomes amounted to 70,000l. a year. In the mean time, everybody seemed to forget that there were 8,000,000 of Roman Catholics—Parliament seemed to ignore the existence of the Roman Catholics altogether. It was true that they recognised the existence of Roman clergymen by appointing them as chaplains to gaols; but upon what a pauper's allowance were they placed! In the small church to which he repaired on a Sunday, with five-and-twenty other Christians, the Protestant clergyman was like one crying in the wilderness, for he was almost in a condition of solitude; but how different was the state of the adjoining Roman Catholic chapel! That building was crowded; yet those who worshipped there were so poor that they could not add to the building, and therefore the greater part of them were obliged to kneel in the open air. What did the noble Lord mean to do with the Established Church? He agreed with the hon. Member for Manchester in what that Gentleman had said with regard to the Established Church; and should not be unwilling to propose its abolition, if he thought the time ripe for such a purpose; but this he could do at any time. They were accustomed to say, that, after all, the Church in Ireland was by no means a rich Church. If the whole of its revenues were divided equally among the clergy, it would not give them 200l. a year each. But, as it appeared to him, the question of rich or poor did not depend, or ought not to be made to depend, upon the numbers of the clergy, but on that of the flocks. The question was, how far the Church was 966 wanted or not. They were told that the Church was very cheap, that it was a great bargain—quite a sacrifice; but he would say that it was not wanted, and was dear at any price. The Irish Church had once been described by one of the best Chief Secretaries that Ireland ever possessed. He meant the noble Lord who at present held the rather curious office of Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests. That noble Lord said—That in the Irish Church there were livings without duties, a clergy without flocks, pay without work, and gains and sinecures upon the worst principles of the bigot.While he was speaking of the Irish Church, it might be interesting to ascertain how they had dealt with a Roman Catholic population of eight millions. He held in his hand an account of the sums of money contributed by the State from 1800 to 1842. The various sects of the Established Church of England and Ireland had received 5,207,546l.; the Protestant Dissenters, 1,019,647; the Roman Catholics, 365,607l. Let the world, then, not be told, that they had put an end to Protestant ascendancy. The shadow might have been removed, but the substance remained in full force. It was reported by a Commission in 1837, that there were in Ireland forty-one benefices belonging to ministers of the Established Church, in connexion with which there was not a single Protestant to be found; that there were ninety-seven benefices with less than twenty Protestants; and 124 with between twenty and fifty Protestants. Thus there were 264 benefices regularly supplied with clergy, so far as regarded the receipt of income, but from which no adequate advantage was derived by the population. If there were no Protestant ascendancy principle involved—if they were legislating for any country in the world besides Ireland—he believed this state of things would not be allowed to exist. It often struck him that Englishmen were somewhat too ready to impute to other nations feelings of bigotry and intolerance; but for the purpose of putting an end to the bigotry with which Ireland was treated, he had not heard of any plan. If he were asked what were his own plans, he should at once say that he had no plan, nor had he heard any plan proposed by the noble Lord for doing an act of tardy justice to Ireland. This, at all events, he was prepared to say ought to be done—the territorial system of the Church ought to be put an end to; and for 967 it the congregational system ought to be substituted. With reference to the Church the country had been mapped out, and the clergy paid according to the area. Now, that might do all very well when the religion happened to be that of the whole nation; but when it was the faith of the minority the case became materially altered. An experiment had been tried by the Stuarts in Scotland; but, as they all knew, had been unsuccessful; yet the noble Lord held out the Scottish nation as a people to be imitated by the Irish at the very moment when he was endeavouring to keep them under the subjection which the Scotch had thrown off. The noble Lord told them to emulate the spirit of industry by which the Scotch were distinguished. He might desire them to emulate the spirit of the Scotch. If they did, they would not submit to the Established Church. According to the congregational system, the pecuniary rewards of the clergy would depend upon the numbers who constituted their flocks, and not according to the area which those congregations inhabited. The congregational system existed in Scotland at the present moment, and prevailed also in Ireland, as far as the Dissenters were concerned. Further, the House could not have forgotten that it was a plan proposed fourteen years ago by a Member of the noble Lord's own Government in that House. He might also remind them, that when in 1835 the present Chief Commissioner of Woods and Forests brought in his Tithe Bill, sequestrating all livings in which fifty Protestant inhabitants were not residing, Mr. Bingham Baring, now Lord Ashburton, moved a certain clause on the 7th of July, 1835, which clause, if the measure proved successful, would have the effect of introducing the congregational system throughout the whole of Ireland. Of that the noble Lord approved. If that measure had succeeded, the redemption of tithes would have gone on, and the principle of separating the Church from the land would have been carried. It appeared to him, that there would be no hope of carrying out a good plan till they affirmed the principle of selling the lands at present possessed by the, archbishops, bishops, deans, and chapters, for the purpose of creating additional endowments for the working clergy and for the general funds of the Church. The noble Lord might say there were difficulties to be overcome, and that a Government might be scarcely strong enough to carry such a measure. 968 The noble Lord might consider himself perfectly safe; no party would be bold enough to take office in the present circumstances of the country. There was one other thing which remained as a division betwixt Catholics and Protestants, and that was the situation of the Irish bishops in the House of Lords. He knew that there were insuperable objections to Roman Catholic bishops taking their seats in that House; but he did not see why they should not remove the Irish Protestant bishops from the House of Lords. He thought it would be for the interest of the Irish Church, and would remove discontent from the minds of Roman Catholics, to remove them from that House, while it would afford an opportunity of reducing their incomes. He would pay the surplus derived from the Protestant Church, as was proposed in 1835 by the Government of Lord Melbourne, into the Consolidated Fund, of which no man could have any jealousy. They never would have a permanent settlement of the question till this was done; and when they were told that this was not the time to do it, he would call their remembrance to the argument used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Sir J. Graham), when expostulating with the opponents to the Government of which he was a Member; and he would, at the same time, tell the noble Lord that he had created the difficulties which he had now to overcome. The right hon. Gentleman said, "There was the responsibility of Government, but there was also the responsibility of Opposition." He accepted that definition; and when he heard people talk of exaggerated hopes, and find fault with the hon. Member for Manchester for what he had said regarding the Irish Church, he thought he was called upon to give a short synopsis of what had been said by some of the present Members on the subject of the Irish Church. Where was the Secretary for the Admiralty (Mr. Ward)? He did not see the hon. Member in his place; but if he should recall some of his words on this subject, even in his absence, the hon. Member would have no right to complain. In August, 1843, he brought forward a Motion on the question of the Irish Church, which was counted out; but in June, 1844, he moved for an inquiry into the Irish Church temporalities. On that occasion he said—This Church is the root of Irish discontent; let it become the cradle of Irish tranquillity, the 969 pledge of a reconciliation, which can no longer be deferred without the utmost peril to our existence as an empire. We may depend on it Ireland will have her rights. It is still within our power to say, whether she shall derive them from our justice or from our humiliation. There is hut one way to avert repeal; that is, to consummate in time the great act of religious and national emancipation.The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. V. Smith)—warned the House not to delay the settlement of this question until it was forced on them by a revolt in Ireland, or a foreign war. At every turn, and in every act, they were met by the Irish Church. The vote he should give would be a vote of want of confidence in Sir R. Peel's Ministry, as far as related to their Irish policy, if they did not take some step as to the Irish Church.The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) said—The state of the Church of Ireland is the most important question. I believe there is no such case at present existing in Europe—no case of any Church of this kind. The only parallel that can be found in history is the state of the Episcopal Church in Scotland during the reign of the Stuarts, under which that country was convulsed with disturbances and insurrection, and oppressed with tyranny and wrong. The same feelings exist in Ireland as formerly existed in Scotland; and I cannot but believe that some remedy is required before you can expect peace and tranquillity to be restored to Ireland. When the Irish see you impose on them a grievance—no nation in Europe submits to them—I ask if the warmest loyalty may not grow cool, if the strongest attachments may not turn into enmity? Until you have tried just and conciliatory measures, you have no right to say that you have done justice to the people of Ireland.These were taken from speeches delivered on that occasion, when on a division the Ayes were 179; the Noes 274: Majority 95. There were twenty-five Members of the present Government in that minority, and of that number eight were Cabinet Ministers. Well, then, there was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northumberland, the Member for Harwich, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the President of the Board of Trade, the Paymaster of the Forces (though he did not know whether he was now a Member of the Cabinet or not), and the noble Lord the Member for the city of London. But there was another debate in April, 1845, and on that occasion the faithful friend of the cause again brought the question forward, as—he thought it was now high time for doing away with the Established Church in Ireland, which only remains as a monument of England's conquest and Ireland's disgrace.The Admiralty came out very strong on 970 that occasion, and the Motion was seconded by an hon. Gentleman now a Lord of the Admiralty (Captain Berkeley), who said—the Church of Ireland was the monster grievance of Ireland; and what, then could he more just than the Motion of his hon. Friend?Mr. Macauley, in a speech almost seditious, said the Church of Ireland was not only a bad but an infamous institution. He said—This is my deliberate opinion, long entertained, confirmed by much observation and reflection; and it is my opinion that of all institutions now existing in the civilised world the Established Church of Ireland is the most absurd and indefensible; it reverses the text of Scripture—'It filleth the rich with good things, and sends the hungry empty away.'Lord Howick—regarded the Protestant Church in Ireland in the same light as Mr. Macauley. He had been convinced for many years past that that Church had been a great obstacle to the spread of Protestant principles in Ireland; and he believed that the Church was at the root of all the oppression which had taken place in that country.In 1845 the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) as ardent a friend of the reform of the Irish Church as in 1843, said—Whether or not there will be any future discussion upon that subject I know not; but if there should be, I shall think it my duty to contrast the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite from 1836 to 1841, and their conduct from 1841 to 1843, with that which they are at present pursuing; and I do come to this conclusion, that either there was the greatest blindness, the greatest want of foresight from 1835 to 1843, and in that case I have no opinion of their wisdom, and must suppose that the Ministers are the most wanting in capacity of any that have ruled this country for a long time; or, if I refuse that conclusion, and say they are men of great ability and capacity, I must deny that they acted with any sincerity during the whole course of their opposition.Those were the opinions expressed on the Irish Church question from the time of the Appropriation Clause in 1835 down to 1845 by those Members of the present Ministry. But there might be many people who would not give any great weight to the opinions of laymen. If so, here was the opinion of that great and good man Dr. Arnold:—The Irish being a Catholic people, they have a right to perfect independence, or to a perfectly equal union; if our conscience objects to the latter, it is bound to concede the former. Whether Ireland remain in its present barbarism, or grow in health and civilisation, in either case the downfall of the present Establishment is certain; a savage people will not endure the insult of a hostile religion; a civilised one will reasonably insist on having their own,He would now dismiss this question of the Irish Church. He had shown conclusively 971 that no language could be used so strong, no arguments so unanswerable, as those drawn from the speeches of the Members who now sat on the Treasury bench, and employed by them when they were in opposition. There was one other subject on which there ought to be perfect equality in Ireland. He referred to the state of the University of Dublin. There could be no perfect religious equality in that country, while they suffered that University to remain in its present state, and excluded Roman Catholics, who formed the great majority of the people, from its benefits and its honours. Perhaps it might be said, by way of taunt, that after having settled the Church of Ireland, they were not content; but he agreed with Dr. Doyle, "that the removal of the Church itself would not tranquillise Ireland." He believed that by itself it would not be sufficient. He was one of those who thought that no patchwork system of legislation for Ireland would be of any use. It was of no use coming down with peddling measures in the course of the Session; blowing the trumpet in the Queen's Speech about remedial measures, and bringing in the Encumbered Estates Bill, which, however useful—and he had supported it—would never, he believed, work well in the way in which it had been altered in the House of Lords. There was another point adverted to in this address of the Irish Members in 1843, subscribed, be it remembered, by three Members of the Government, and that was the adoption of measures calculated to improve the condition of the industrial classes. To the consideration of such measures, in conjunction with others, it was of vital importance at all times, and more particularly at the present, for this House to devote its energies. He was not fond of quoting statistics; but he had a few so short, and so appropriate to the purpose, that he begged the attention of the House while he called its attention to the state of Ireland, as represented in the last population returns. He found that in Ireland there were 8,175,124 persons and 2,385,000 were absolute paupers, living in mud cabins; 7,000,000 belonged to the agricultural class, and the labourers received from 4d. to 10d. a day wages in the west and south of Ireland, and from 8d. to 1s. in the north. The average wages in Ireland were 2s. 6d. per week, and a third of the population were actually paupers. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen would say, that for this state of things the Le- 972 gislature had granted a poor-law; but he must make the remark, that it was this poor-law, so late as 1846, which was the very measure of all others which the noble Lord deprecated. He thought that there was one material point, in passing a poor-law for Ireland, which ought to be taken into consideration by the Government, and that was the capacity of the country for a poor-law in relation to the property; that was to say, how far the property could bear the paupers chargeable upon it. The districts of Ireland differed as much as various countries. The district where his property lay was capable of bearing a poor-law; but in the west and south, where the population exceeded the number of pounds sterling paid in rent for the land, and where all depended entirely on the crop, a failure of the harvest rendered it totally impossible for the district to bear a poor-law. Compare the rateable property in England with the rateable property in Ireland. The rateable property in England amounted to 62,500,000l., with a population of 16,000,000. The rateable property in Ireland only amounted to 13,500,000l., with a population of 8,000,000. Thus, with half of the population of England, Ireland possessed but one-fifth of the means. In point of fact, Ireland's means were less, because the amount of property not rated to the poor in England was probably ten times as great, in proportion to the rateable property, as it was in Ireland. But the noble Lord spoke of the system of small farms, and Tuscany had been referred to. But Tuscany was a complete market garden; it was all vineyards. That, however, was not the adequate remedy; and he had heard the noble Lord and his supporters say, that the only system for Ireland was forming large farms on the English model. He certainly disagreed from that, because he thought that Ireland was a country peculiarly adapted for small farms. Not, however, farms of seven acres, but of twenty-five acres. That was the system adapted to Ireland. If hon. Gentlemen said that large farms would cure the evil, let the House test the value of that assertion. He found that in England there were 770,000 families, cultivating 25,000,000 acres; and in Ireland 970,000 families, cultivating 12,000,000 families. Supposing the English system were established in Ireland, then the 12,000,000 acres would only require 370,000 families for their cultivation. This would be a 973 great gain. There were probably 4,000,000 acres of waste land reclaimable, half for tillage and half for coarse pasture, which, supposing that they would all pay the expense of reclamation by capitalists, might on the same plan employ 100,000 families. Taking the largest allowance of labour, however, and assuming that the English system of agriculture might employ upon the whole soil of Ireland, if every acre of waste were reclaimed, 500,000 families, they had still left 475,000 agricultural families to be provided for, which, according to the census returns, made more than 2,500,000 persons. What were they to do with them? But in Ireland—for it was an extraordinary country-besides these 2,500,000 persons, a great quantity of young men were to be met with having no profession. The Irish gentlemen had no interest at Court in respect to getting appointments for their families, and there was always a lot of young men in Ireland waiting for commissions; and they might be seen waiting for commissions from tillage of 15 to 60, shooting snipes and breaking horses all their lifetime. In this country there was nothing like that, because the blast India Company took off all their surplus young gentlemen; and many men being connected with the Government got their Tom, Jerry, or Harry placed in a situation. The House must come to some plan such as that adverted to by the hon. Member for Southwark in his able and eloquent speech the other evening, namely, systematic colonisation; and he was surprised at the hon. Gentleman lie-low him saying that the colonies were glutted with labour. The contrary was the case, for Australia and all the colonies were actually begging for labour; and he believed that this was the natural thread which Providence placed in their hands to lead them out of danger. He would not enter now into the question of waste lands and the grand jury laws, however necessary he might think measures to be in respect to them; but he begged the noble Lord to recollect that in 1842 a Commission reported on the grand jury laws, and no notice had been taken of their report. These, however, were minor measures, and he believed the question of the franchise to be a minor measure, however, necessary. The question was, what was to be done with the 2,500,000 persons he had before mentioned? He was anxious to see the statesman who should solve this problem; and, after hearing the noble Lord's speech, he 974 feared that he was not the statesman nor his supporters the party who would solve it. He had said on a recent occasion that if they wished to go on with Ireland in peace and content, and to spare this country the expenditure of enormous sums of money, they must modify the Act of Union. Everybody knew that the Union was a one-sided bargain, for which and for selling the liberties of their country the Protestants were well paid. He was of opinion that their whole system of Irish Government was breaking down. The government of the country, by the means of a Viceroyalty, could occasion nothing but discontent. They had in Ireland a Brummagem Court, a mock Sovereign, and pinchbeck Executive. The Home Secretary was the real Government of the country, and the consequence was that they had no settled policy in Ireland. When they had a Lord Lieutenant there going on and doing his business well, like Lord Normanby, they got rid of him, and thus there was no fixed government. Let the House consider how the system worked. The House voted money for the national education system, and they might have a Lord Lieutenant going to Ireland who, from his political views, did not like that system. His great patronage was church patronage, and he perhaps thought the national system unscriptural. Then, if some bishops were appealed to, the pulpits might ring with denunciations of the national system, for no clergyman would then have a chance in certain districts of getting promotion, if he supported the system which that House supported. There was another evil in Ireland which would come home to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He maintained that the system of having a Lord Lieutenant there defeated any hopes of that self-reliance which had been preached up to the Irish Gentlemen. That was one reason for the absence of that quiet and tranquillity which was here represented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his noble relative. Every one in Ireland leaned on some one else. The labourer leaned on the farmer, the farmer on the landlord, and the landlord, like a true believer, leaned on the Castle at Dublin. He said, therefore, "Abolish the Lord Lieutenant." That was the course which had been recommended by Lord Monteagle in 1831. Lord Althorp delivered similar sentiments; and even Mr. Shaw, the representative of the University of Dublin, said, in 1845, that— 975Their highest offices were filled by strangers, unacquainted with the habits, wants, or feelings of the country. The Lord Lieutenant was a pageant; the shadow ceased to dazzle them; the so-called Irish Government was regarded as little more than a mockery; the Castle of Dublin was but a registration court for the behests of the Home Office at Whitehall.The noble Lord himself admitted in 1844 that the system of government in Ireland was a bad one, but added the usual answer, that "the time was not come." While he recommended the abolition of the office of Lord Lieutenant, the Government must be prepared to make another appointment, that of a fourth Secretary of State, whose services should be devoted to the Home Department. Another point to which he wished to call the attention of the Government was the propriety of holding a Session from time to time in Dublin. It would go far to remove the stigma which was cast on this country by no less a man than Lord Clare, who said that the English Government and people knew less of Ireland than of Belgium or any other country of Europe. Another suggestion which he wished to make, was, that an humble address might be presented to Her Majesty praying that she would be graciously pleased annually to pay a visit to Ireland. As hon. Gentlemen laughed, he would trouble them with the opinion on this point of a statesman and a philosopher, Sir John Davies, who, after recounting the beneficial effects of the statute of Kilkenny, went on to say—I join with these laws the personal presence of the King's son (Lionell, Duke of Clarence, son of Edward III.) as a concurrent cause of this reformation, because the people of this land, both English and Irish, did ever love and desire to be governed by great persons; and I may take occasion to note that, first the absence of the kings of England, and next the absence of those great lords who were inheritors of those mighty signories of Leinster, Ulster, Connaught, and Meath, have been main causes why this kingdom was not reduced in so many ages. Touching the absence of our kings, three of them only since the Norman Conquest, namely, Henry II., John, and Richard II., have made journeys into this land; and yet no sooner they are arrived here but that all the Irish took oaths of fidelity, and gave hostages to continue loyal.He felt very sure that if the Sovereign were annually to visit Ireland—and let him remind Her that no monarch but one of Her race ever set foot on its shores, and that he, though not much respected by the English people, was received in Ireland with the utmost enthusiasm—he felt very sure that, if this were done, even the star of the King of Munster would "pale its 976 ineffectual fires," and the Queen's presence would go very far towards settling the minds of the people of Ireland. The noble Lord, no later than last night, took up the ball which was thrown to him by an hon. Member opposite, and said, as he (Mr. Osborne) thought sarcastically, that Irish Gentlemen of property and influence in Ireland would do well to return to their own country. He begged to tell the noble Lord that men who had property in Ireland had not influence there; and this had been brought about by the neglect of the noble Lord. He should have no objection to go to Ireland, if the noble Lord would give him a pledge that he would immediately introduce remedial measures for that country; but until the noble Lord did so, he should feel it his duty to watch the interests of the Irish people in that House, and see that measures neces-for their welfare were not put off for "a more convenient season," which might never arrive.
§ MR. ANSTEY
concurred in a great portion of the able speech just addressed to the House; but his hon. Friend had entirely miscalculated the feelings of the Roman Catholics with regard to the Protestant Church, when he emitted the opinion that the Established Church was the monster grievance of Ireland. He (Mr. Anstey) was himself a Roman Catholic, and represented a population nearly equally divided between Roman Catholics and Protestants, and he could assure the hon. Gentleman, and the House, that neither his constitueuts nor himself considered the Established Church to be the chief grievance of Ireland, or, indeed, any grievance at all. There was no charity or corporation, whether secular or spiritual, whose property was not secured to them on trust as much as the property of the Established Church; and yet, would it be pretended that this House had the right to sequestrate the property of these holders at their mere caprice? And how could the peasantry be injured by the maintenance of the Established Church? Tithe was not taxation, and the lands of the Established Church were not bought and paid for out of the public moneys? How, then, could the pauperism of the 2,500,000 of people, which they all deplored, be attributed, in the slightest degree, to the maintenance of the Established Church? He could tell the House, on the contrary, that the maintenance of the Established Church, in all its possessions, was regarded by the 977 Roman Catholic people of Ireland as a great mitigation of their general distress, which was mainly to be attributed to bad government, and an improvident and wasteful Administration. At his election, he had brought this question openly before his constituents, and he found that there was not a Roman Catholic among them who expressed dissent from his views; and he particularly remembered that the Rev. Mr. Power, a Roman Catholic parish priest in the neighbourhood of Youghal, addressed the people to the same effect, and told them that, putting aside abstract principles altogether, the agitation against the tithe system was most impolitic, as its effect, if successful, would only be to transfer the fund from a mild, generous, and resident proprietor, to the pockets of the wealthy and absentee Duke of Devonshire. This was not a national question—it was not an Irish question—it was a Whig question, brought forward with the effect, if not with the design, of dividing still more Irishman from Irishman, and widening the schism that separated Roman Catholic from Protestant. It could only proceed upon the principle that Parliament had a right to deal at its pleasure with all the property that had been transferred from the Roman Catholic to the Protestant Church at the time of the Reformation; but if this principle were sound, then Parliament must have an equal right to deal with the property taken from the Roman Catholic Church and secularised; and then what would become of Woburn Abbey and the other church possessions that were now held by laymen? He would content himself with making this solemn protest against the doctrines held on this subject by the hon. Member for Middlesex. Touch the rights of the Protestant Church Establishment, and by what title could you hope to maintain the rights of the Roman Catholics? Touch the liberties of the Protestant, and what excuse had you to offer when your own were invaded? These sentiments, if adopted in all their fulness, tended to the perpetual alienation of man from man, of class from class—to the mutual hostility of Catholic and Protestant, Churchman and Dissenter, in Ireland, and therefore furnished to those who had the power to resist the prayer of national independence, the best opportunity and the justest motives for that resistance. Upon the other questions touched upon by his hon. Friend, he should not say a word; and he should have contented 978 himself with a silent vote in favour of the resolution of the hon. Member for Rochdale, but for the introduction, by the hon. Member for Middlesex, of topics which, in his (Mr. Anstey's) judgment, were entirely foreign to the subject. Let him, before he sat down, address a few words to the noble Lord and his Colleagues on the present state of the public business of Ireland. Several valuable measures had been abandoned—among others, the Roman Catholic Relief Bill—because Ministers were anxious, as they said, to carry the Landlord and Tenant Rill; and yet he was surprised now to learn that that measure was also to be postponed till next Session. Surely such a measure as that was of more consequence than those measures which had been recently brought forward, and which they seemed determined to press forward to the exclusion of everything else. If there was not time to consider measures that related to Irish distress, surely there was no time to consider a measure that constituted an invasion upon the rights and liberties of English constituencies, the consideration of two clauses of which had wasted six hours last night. After this, what credit could be given to the professions of a Minister who complained that he was prevented from passing remedial measures for Ireland by the state of public business? The only proof of the interest Ministers had in the welfare of Ireland, lay in their passing three Coercion Bills, which, if they were necessary, had become so through their own scandalous mal-administration.
§ Debate adjourned.