HC Deb 02 April 1849 vol 104 cc161-227

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate, on Amendment proposed to be made to Question [26th March] "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months." Question again proposed, "That the word 'now,' stand part of the Question.' "

Debate resumed.


said: I ventured to move the adjournment of the debate on Friday night, because I was anxious to have the opportunity of expressing the opinions which I entertain on this most important subject. I am one of the Committee appointed by this House to inquire into the working of the Irish poor-law, and on that Committee I was one of the majority—the large majority—by which the resolution for a rate in aid was affirmed. In the division which took place on the same proposition in the House, I also voted in the majority. But I am not by any means disposed to say that there are no reasons against the course which I take, or against the proposition which has been submitted to the House by the Government. On the whole, however, I am prepared to-night to justify that proposition, and the vote which I have given for it. As to the project of raising money for the purpose of these distressed unions, I think there can be no doubt in the mind of any Member of the House, that money must come from some quarter. It appears to me a question of life or money. All the witnesses who were examined before the Committee, and the concurrent testimony of all parties in Ireland—of all the public papers—of all the speeches which have been delivered in the course of this debate, go to prove that unless additional funds be provided, tens of thousands of our unfortunate fellow-countrymen in Ireland must perish of famine in the course of the present year. If this be true, it is evident that a great necessity is upon us—a grave emergency which we must meet. I am not prepared to justify the proposition of a rate in aid merely on the ground of this necessity, because it will be said, and justly, that the same amount of funds might be raised by some other mode; but I am prepared to justify the proposition that restricts this rate in aid to Ireland, on the ground that the rest of the united kingdom has, during the past three years, paid its own rate in aid for Ireland; and this to a far larger amount than any call which the Government now proposes to make on the rateable property in Ireland. We have taken from the general taxation of this country—for the purposes of Ireland—in the last two or three years—several millions, I may say not fewer than from eight to ten millions, sterling. We have paid also very large subscriptions from private resources, to the same purpose; the sums expended by the British Association were not less, in the aggregate, than 600,000l, in addition to other large amounts contributed. The Irish, certainly, gave something to these funds; but by far the larger amount was paid by the tax-paying classes of Great Britain. In addition to this special outlay for this purpose, there has been very heavy local taxation incurred by several of the great communities of this island, for the purpose of supporting the pauperism which has escaped from Ireland to Great Britain. In this metropolis—in Glasgow—in Liverpool—and in the great manufacturing town that I have the honour to represent—the overflow of Irish pauperism has, within the last two or throe years more especially, occasioned a vast additional burden of taxation. I believe the hon. Member for South Lancashire made some statement in this House on a former occasion with respect to the burden which was inflicted upon Liverpool by the Irish paupers, who constantly flow into that town. As to Glasgow, the poor-rate levied last year in the city parish alone, amounted to 70,000l.; and this year, owing to the visitation of cholera and the poverty thereby engendered, there will be an additional assessment of 20,000l The city parish contains only about 120,000 or 130,000 of the 280,000 residents in the mass of buildings known by the general name of Glasgow. Of the sum levied as poor-rate in the city parish, it is estimated that, on an average, two-thirds are spent upon Irish paupers. And the ranks of these Irish paupers are recruited but to a comparatively small extent from the Irish workmen, who have been, with their families, attracted by, and who have found employment in, the numerous manufactories of Glasgow. The Irish paupers, upon whom two-thirds of the Glasgow poor-rates are spent, are principally squalid and destitute creatures who are brought over as deck passengers, clustering like bees to the bulwarks and rigging, by almost every steamer that sails from a northern Irish port. With respect to the town of Manchester, I am able to give some more definite particulars as to the burthen imposed upon the inhabitants for the support of the Irish casual poor. In the year 1848, the sum expended in the relief of the settled poor, which term includes the resident Irish who are not distinguished by name from the English, amounted to 37,847l. The sum expended for the relief of the non-settled English paupers in the town of Manchester, in the year 1848, was 18,699l. The amount expended for the relief of casual Irish poor alone was 28,007l. The total assessment of Manchester is 647,568l., which, if divided by the amount required to relieve the casual Irish poor—would amount to a rate of 10½d. in the pound upon every pound of rateable property in the town of Manchester; but if estimated according to the property really rated, as there are great numbers of persons who, from poverty, do not pay the poor-rates on the property they occupy; the amount of assessment for the relief of the casual Irish poor alone will be from 15d. to 18d. in the pound, and the charge upon the ratepayers of Manchester for the relief of the Irish casual poor during the last year is not less than 2s. 1d. per head upon the whole population of that town. Now, during the last year, Manchester had to struggle with very severe difficulties, and the manufacturers there suffered most acutely from various causes—the failure of the cotton crop of 1846, the panic in the financial and commercial world in 1847, the convulsions in the European States in 1848—all contributed to bring upon Manchester enormous evil; and in addition to this we had to bear an additional burden of 28,000l. for the maintenance of the casual Irish poor. I have here an analysis of the poor-rates collected in Manchester during the last four years, and I will briefly state the results to the House. In the year 1845 the amount of rates collected expressly for the relief of the casual Irish poor was 3,500l. In 1846 the cost of the casual Irish poor imposed a burden upon Manchester of 3,300l.; in 1847 of 6,558l.; and in 1848 this item of expenditure reached the enormous sum of 28,007l. Now the people of Manchester have uttered no loud or clamorous complaints respecting this excessive burden borne by them for the support of the Irish. They have sent no urgent deputations to the Government on the subject of this heavy expense. But, seeing that they have paid this money for the relief of Irish paupers, and seeing also that the smaller manufacturing and other towns in England have also paid no small sums for Irish paupers, they do think, and I here express my conviction that it will be seen and admitted, that we have paid our rate in aid for the relief of Ireland, and that it does become the landowners and persons of property in that country to make an effort during a temporary period to supply that small sum which is by this Bill demanded of them. He would now say a few words regarding the province of Ulster. An hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Londonderry, who had made a not very civil speech, so far as it regarded persons who entertained the same opinions generally which he (Mr. Bright) professed, seemed to allege that there was no party so tyrannical as those who wished to carry this rate in aid, and that no body of men on earth were so oppressed as the unfortunate proprietors of Ulster. [Mr. BATESON: The farmers of Ulster.] He had made a calculation, the result of which was, that, with the population of Ulster, a 6d. rate would be 82,000l. a year, or 164,000l. for the two years during which they would be required to pay towards the support of their fellow-countrymen in the south and west. If he were an Ulster proprietor, he would not have raised his voice against such a proposition, because it was not a state of things of an ordinary character, nor were these proprietors called upon to do that which nobody else had done before them. Neither were they called upon before other sources had been applied to. Had he been an Ulster proprietor he would rather have left that House than have taken the course they had pursued in denouncing this measure. As to the farmers of Ulster, they would not have raised this opposition had they not been instigated to do so by hon. Members in that House, and by the proprietors in that province, whom they represented. It appeared by the reports of the inspectors under the poor-law, that where there had been a difficulty in collecting rates, and the people had refused to pay, they had followed the example of the higher and landlord class; and the conduct of that class in many cases had been such as to render the collection extremely difficult. [Mr. BATESON: Not in Ulster.] He did not speak of Ulster particularly in that instance, but the case had been so in other places; but happily for Ulster the burden had not proved so serious in that province. I have heard a good deal said respecting the resignation of Mr. Twisleton, who preferred giving up his situation to supporting the rate in aid. But the reasons assigned by Mr. Twisleton destroy the importance of his own act. He did not Insist upon the question whether Ulster was able to bear the rate in aid; but his objection was that Ulster was Ulster, and more Ulster than it was Ireland. He said Ulster preferred being united with England, rather than with Leinster, Connaught, and Munster—in short, that Ulster was unwilling to be made a part of Ireland. Now, if this Bill can succeed in making Ulster a part of Ireland in interests and sympathies, I think it will he attended with a very happy result, and one that will compensate for some portion of the present misfortunes of Ireland. But the hon. Member also, in another part of his speech, charged the Government with having caused the calamities of Ireland. Now, if I were the hon. Member, I would not have opened up that question. My opinion is, that the course which Parliament has taken with respect to Ireland for upwards of a century, and especially since the Union, has been in accordance with the wishes of the proprietors of the land of that country. If, therefore, there has been misgovernment in Ireland during that period, it is the land which has influenced it, and the landowners are responsible. I do not mean to say that the House of Commons is not responsible for taking the evil advice which you landowners of Ireland have proffered; but what I mean to assert is, that this advice has been almost invariably acted upon by the Government. This it is which has proved fatal to the interests of Ireland; you Ulster men have stood in the way of improvements in the franchise, in the Church, and in the land question; you have purchased Protestant ascendancy, and the price paid for it is the rain and degradation of your country. So much for the vote which I am about to give in support of the rate in aid. In the next place, I must observe that if an income tax were to be substituted for a rate in aid, I think I could show substantial reasons why it would not be satisfactory. In the first place, I take an objection to the imposition of an income tax for the express purpose of supporting paupers. This, I apprehend, is a fatal objection at the outset. I understand that there has been a document issued by a Committee in another place, which has reported favourably for the substitution of an income tax in lieu of the rate in aid. I always find that the proposition which is brought forward by the Government, if for a new tax, is the one which is disliked, and I conclude, that if instead of the rate in aid an income tax for Ireland had been proposed, that would have been repudiated with quite as much vigour as the proposition now before the House. And now I will address a few words to the general question of Ireland, which I think may be fairly entered upon in this debate after the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. What have we been doing all the Session? With the exception of the Jewish Oaths Bill, and the navigation laws, our attention has been solely taken up with Irish matters. From the incessant recurrence of the Irish debate, it would seem that the wrongs and evils endured by the Irish people are incurable, or else that we lack statesmen. I always find that, whoever happens to sit on the other side of the table, always has some scheme to propose for the regeneration of Ireland. The noble Lord on the Treasury bench had his schemes for that purpose when he was seated opposite. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth now has his scheme to propose, and if he can carry it out, he will not only have the universal wishes of the nation in his favour, but the noble Lord also who is at the head of the Government will not, I am sure, object to give way to any man who will settle the Irish question. But the treatment of this Irish malady remains ever the same. We have nothing for it still but force and alms. You have an armed force there of 50,000 men to keep the people quiet, and large votes are annually required to keep the people alive. I presume the government by troops is easy, and that the— Civil power may snore at ease, While soldiers fire—to keep the peace. But the noble Lord at the head of the Government has no policy to propose for Ireland. If he had, we should have been told by him what it is. The poor-law as a means of regenerating Ireland is a delusion. So is the rate in aid. I do not believe in the regenerating power either of the poor-law or of the rate in aid. There may occur cases where farmers will continue to employ labourers for the mere purpose of preventing them from coming on the poor-rates, but those are exceptions. If the desire of gain will not cause the employment of capital, assuredly poor-rates will not. A poor-law adds to pauperism, by inviting to idleness. It drags down the man who pays, and demoralises him who receives. It may expose, it may temporarily relieve, it will increase, but it can never put an end to pauperism. The poor-law and the rate in aid are, therefore, utterly unavailing for such a purpose. It is the absence of all demand for labour that constitutes the real evil of Ireland. In the distressed unions, a man's labour is absolutely worth nothing. It is not that the Irish people will not work. I casually spoke to an Irish navigator the other day respecting his work, and I asked him why his countrymen did not work in their own country. "Give them 2s. 8d. a day," said he, "and you will find plenty who will work." There exists in Ireland a lamentable want of employment. The lands there enjoy a perpetual sabbath. If the people of Ireland were set to work, they would gain their subsistence; but if this course is not adopted, they must either continue to be supported out of the taxes, or else be left to starve. In order to show how great is the general poverty in Ireland, I will read a statement of the comparative amount of legacy duty paid in the two countries. In England, in the year 1844, the amount of capital on which legacy duty was paid was 44,393,887l.; in Ireland, in 1845, the amount of capital on which legacy duty was paid, was 2,140,021l.—the population of the latter being nearly one half of the former, whilst the proportion between the capital paying legacy duty is only one-twentieth. In the year 1844, the legacy duty paid in England was 1,124,435l., with a population of 16,000,000. In Scotland it was 74,116l., with a population of 3,000,000, whilst Ireland paid only 53,618l. with a population of 8,000,000. These facts offered the strongest possible proofs of the poverty of Ireland. On looking over the reports of the poor-law inspectors, I find them teeming with statements of the wretchedness which prevailed in the distressed districts of Ireland. The general character of the reports was, that starvation was, literally speaking, gradually driving the population into their graves. The people could not quit their hovels for want of clothing, whilst others could not be discharged from the workhouses owing to the same cause. Men were seen wearing women's apparel, not being able to procure proper clothing; whilst, in other instances, men, women, and children were all huddled together under bundles of rags, unable to rise for lack of covering; workhouses and prisons were crowded beyond their capacity to contain, the mortality being very great in them. Persons of honest character committed thefts in order to be sent to prison, and some asked, as a favour, to be transported. Now, I know of nothing like this in the history of modern times. The only parallel I can find to it is in the work of the great German author (Mosheim), who wrote so ably on the institutes of the Christian religion, wherein, speaking of the inroads of the barbarians into the Roman empire in the 5th century, he says that in Gaul, the calamities of the times drove many to such madness, that they wholly excluded God from the government of the world, and denied his providence over human affairs. It would almost appear that this state of things is now to be seen in Ireland. The prisons are crowded, the chapels deserted, society is ruined, and disorganised; labour is useless, for capital is not to be had for its employment. The reports of the inspectors say that this catastrophe has only been hastened, and not originated, by the failure of the potato crop during the last four years, and that all men possessed of any intelligence must have foreseen what would ultimately happen. This being the case, in what manner are the Irish people to subsist in future? There is the land, and there is labour enough to bring it into cultivation. But such is the state in which the land is placed, that capital cannot be employed upon it. You have tied up the raw material in such a manner—you have created such a monopoly of land by your laws and your mode of dealing with it, as to render it alike a curse to the people and to the owners of it. Why, let me ask, should land be tied up any more than any other raw material? If the supply of cotton wool were limited to the hands of the Browns and the Barings, what would be the condition of the Lancashire manufactories? What the maufactories would be under such a monopoly, the land in the county of Mayo actually is under the system which prevails with respect to it in Ireland. But land carries with it territorial influence, which the Legislature will not interfere with lest it should be disturbed. Land is sacred, and must not he touched. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will understand what I mean when I allude to the Land Improvement Company which the Legislature is ready to charter for Ireland, but which it fears to suffer to exist in England, lest the territorial influence which ever accompanies the possession of landed estates should be lost or diminished. But one of the difficulties to which a remedy must be applied is the defective titles, which cannot easily be got over under the present system of entails. This is one of the questions to which the House of Commons must very soon give its serious attention. Then there comes the question of settlements. Now, I do not mean to say there ought not to be any settlements made; but what I mean to say is, that they are so bound up and entangled with the system of entails as to present insuperable difficulties in the way of dealing with land as a marketable commodity. I have here an opinion which I will read to the House, which I find recorded as having been given by an eminent counsel; it is quoted in Hayes' work on Conveyancing, and the opinion was given on the occasion of a settlement on the marriage of a gentleman having a fee-simple estate:— The proposals extend to a strict settlement by the gentleman upon the first and other sons of the marriage. It will appear from the preceding observations, that where the relative circumstances are such as in the present case, a strict settlement ef the gentleman's estate does not ordinarily enter into the arrangement, which begins and ends with his taking the lady's fortune, and imposing an equivalent pecuniary charge upon his estate (for her personal benefit). The proposals seldom go further, unless there is hereditary rank or title to be supported, or it is in contemplation to found a family. The former of those circumstances do not exist in this case, and the latter would require the settlement of the bulk of the estates. The policy of such settlements is extremely questionable. It is difficult to refer them, in the absence of both the motives already indicated, to any rational principle. The present possessor has absolute dominion; his character is known, his right unquestionable. He is asked to reduce himself to a mere tenant for life in favour of an unborn son, of whose character nothing can be predicated, and who, if he can be said to have any right, cannot possibly have a preferable right. At no very distant period the absolute dominion must be confided to somebody—and why should confidence be reposed in the unborn child rather than the living parent? Such a settlement has no tendency to protect or benefit the father, whose advantage and comfort ought first to be consulted. It does not shield him from the consequences of his own imprudence. On the contrary, if his expenditure should in any instance exceed his income, he—as a mere tenant for life—is in danger of being obliged to borrow on annuity, a process which, once begun, proceeds generally and almost necessarily to the exhaustion of the life income. The son may be an idiot or a spendthrift. He may be tempted to raise money by post obit. If to those not improbable results we add all the family feuds generated between the tenant for life and remainder man, in regard to the management and enjoyment by the former of that estate which was once his own, particularly with reference to cutting timber, the disadvantages of thus fettering the dominion will appear greatly to preponderate. At best a settlement is a speculation; at worst it is the occasion of distress, profligacy, and domestic discord, ending not unfrequently, as the Chancery reports bear witness, in obstinate litigation, ruinous alike to the peace and to the property of the family. Sometimes the father effects an arrangement with his eldest son on his coming of age; the son stipulating for an immediate provision in the shape of an annuity, the father for a gross sum to satisfy his creditors, or to portion his younger children, and for a re-settlement of the estate. This arrangement, perhaps, is brought about by means, or imposes, terms, which, in the eye of equity, render it a fraud upon the son; and here we have another source of litigation. Now, what I have here read is exactly that which everybody's experience tells us is the fact, and we have recently had a notable case which exactly answers to that referred to in the last paragraph of this opinion. The practice of making settlements of this description is mischievous—leads to endless litigation—and sooner or later the landed classes must sink under it. The Irish proprietors have also another difficulty to contend with, and that is their extravagance. It is said—for I cannot vouch for the fact myself—that they keep too many horses and dogs. I do not mean to say that an Irish gentleman may not spend his rents as he pleases; but I can only observe, that he cannot both spend his money and have it too. I think if they cast their pride on one side, and went honestly to work—if instead of their young men spending their time "waiting for a commission," they were to go into business, they would be far better and more usefully employed, and they would find that the less humiliating condition of the two. Another bane of Ireland is the prevalence of life interests in landed property there. Under such a system the land can neither be improved nor sold. Now what has the noble Lord at the head of the Government done towards grappling with all these questions? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I think him very unwise in not propounding to himself the momentous question "What shall be done for Ireland?" The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth has got a plan. He entered upon its outline on Friday last. But I doubt whether it has yet taken that distinct form which it must assume in order that the House may take cognisance of it. I admire some of the measures which the right hon. Baronet intimates he would carry into effect, but there are other parts of his proposals which are vague and impracticable. I think, if it is believed in Ireland that a Commission is to be appointed to take charge of the distressed unions of the south and west—that the whole thing is to be managed through a new department of the Government, and all without the slightest trouble to themselves—that more than ever there will be a clinging to their wretched property of bankrupt estates, and more than ever an indisposition to adopt those measures which are still open to them, in the direction in which the right hon. Baronet wishes to proceed. The right hon. Baronet stated in his first speech on this topic, that he did not wish the transfer of property to be by individual barter; and on Friday he stated that he was very much averse to allowing matters to go on in their natural course, for by that means land would be unnaturally cheapened. Well, but upon what conditions would the right hon. Baronet buy land in Ireland? would it he under the same circumstances, and at the same price, as he would buy an estate in Yorkshire or Staffordshire? If any sane man go to the west and south of Ireland to purchase an estate, he must go on account of the cheapness of the bargain—a cheapness which he hopes will compensate him for all the disadvantages to which in such a purchase he must necessarily be subjected; and there can be no redemption for that part of Ireland—if it is to be through the transfer of land—except the land take its natural course, and come so cheap into the market that Englishmen and Scotchmen, and Irishmen too having capital, will seize it with avidity, notwithstanding all its disadvantages. [Colonel DUNNE: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Portarlington cheers that, as if it were an extraordinary statement. If the hon. and gallant Member prefers purchasing what is dear to what is cheap, why, then, he is not a very sensible man to legislate for Ireland. If he thinks that a man will go into Galway and pay as much per acre for an estate as he would in England, he is much mistaken; but the fact is, I believe, that not only English and Scotch capital, but that much Irish capital also, would be expended in the purchase of estates in the south and west, if the ends which the right hon. Baronet has in view were facilitated by this House. But we have a case in point which affords us some guidance upon this question, and it is a case with which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, are very familiar. I allude to the case of Stockport in 1842. Owing to a variety of circumstances—I won't go into the question of the corn law, as that is settled—but owing to a variety of circumstances, from 1838 to 1842 there was a continued sinking in the condition of Stockport—its property depreciated to a lamentable extent. One man left property, as he thought, worth 80,000l or 90,000l. In two years after it sold for little more than 20,000l. Since that time the son of one person, then supposed to be a person of large property, has had relief from the parochial funds. In 1842 the amount of the poor-rate averaged from 7s. to 8s. in the pound. From November 4, 1841, to May 30, 1842, the rates levied were 6s. in the pound, realising the amount of I9,144l. From January 28, 1843, to August 2 of the same year, the rates levied were 7s. in the pound, and the amount raised 21,948l. And bear in mind that at that time Stockport was in process of depopulation—many thousands quitted the place—whole streets were left with scarce a tenant in them—some large public-houses, previously doing a good business, were let for little more than their rates; in fact, Stockport was as fair a representative of distress amongst a manufacturing community, as Mayo, Galway, or any western county of Ireland, can be at this moment, of distress amongst an agricultural community. Now what was done in Stockport? There was a Commission of Inquiry, which the then Home Secretary appointed. They made an admirable report, the last paragraph of which ought to be read by every one who wishes to know the character of the people of Stockport. Mr. Twisleton, speaking of them, said that they were a noble people; and truly the exertions which they made to avoid becoming chargeable upon the rates were heroic. Well now, all this suffering was going on—the workhouses were crowded, the people were emigrating, there was a general desolation, and if it had not been for the harvest of 1842, which was a good one, and the gradual recovery of trade which followed, nothing in Ireland could be worse than the condition of Stockport would have been. What was the result? Property was so much depreciated that it changed hands. Something like half the manufacturers failed, and, of course, gave up business altogether. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport purchased property in that borough at this period, and since then he has laid out not far short of a hundred thousand pounds, in a very large manufacturing establishment in that town. In fact, the persons who are now carrying on the manufacturing business in Stockport are of a more substantial character than those who were swept away by the calamities of 1842. Well, it is a very sorrowful process. I can feel as much for those persons as any man; but we must all submit to circumstances such as those when they arrive. There are vicissitudes in all classes of society, and in all occupations in which we may engage; and when we have, as now, in Ireland, a state of things—a grievous calamity not to be equalled under the sun, it is the duty of this House not to interfere with the ordinary and natural course which circumstances take upon such occasions, and not to flinch from what is necessary for the safety of the people from any mistaken sympathy either with the owners of cotton mills or the proprietors of landed estates. Now, I want Parliament to remove every obstacle in the way of the free sale of land. I believe that in that lies the only security you have for the restoration of the distressed districts of Ireland. The question of a Parliamentary title is most important; but I understand that the difficulty of this arises from the system of entails beyond persons now living, because you must go back to a long search of sixty years before you can make it quite clear that the title is absolutely secure. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth suggested that the Lord Chancellor should be ousted. Well, that's a very severe process. I proposed last year that there should be a new court established in Ireland for the adjudication of cases connected with land, and for no other purpose, and that it should thus relieve the present courts from much of the business with which they were now encumbered. But I do not say that even such a court would effect much good, unless it were very much more speedy in its operations than the existing courts. I be lieve that the present Lord Chancellor is admitted to be as good a Judge as ever sat in the Court of Chancery; but he is rather timid as a Minister, and inert as a statesman; and, if I am not mistaken, he was in a great measure responsible for the failure of the Bill for facilitating the sale of encumbered estates last Session. The Government must have known, as well as I do, that that measure could not succeed, and that the clause which was introduced—on the third reading, I believe—made it impossible to work it. There is another point, with regard to intestate estates. I feel how tenderly one must speak upon a question like this. Even the right hon. Member for Tamworth, with all his authority, appeared, when touching on this delicate question of the land, to be walking upon eggs which he was very much afraid of breaking. I certainly never heard the right hon. Gentleman steer through so many sinuosities in a case; and hardly, at last, dared he come to the question, because he was talking about land—the sacred land! We are all in a mistake about land: I was so myself once to some extent; but I have lived to get through it. I believe land to have nothing peculiar in its nature which does not belong to other property; and everything that we have done with the view of treating land differently from other property has been a blunder—a false course which we must retrace—an error which lies at the foundation of very much of the pauperism and want of employment which so generally prevails. Now, with regard to intestate estates, I am told that the House of Lords will never repeal the law of primogeniture; but I don't want them to repeal the law of primogeniture in the sense entertained by some people. I don't want them to enact the system of France, by which a division of property is compelled. I think that to force the division of property by law is just as contrary to sound principles and natural rights as to prevent its division, as is done by our law. If a man choose to act the unnatural and absurd part of leaving the whole of his property to one child, I should not, in that particular, certainly, look with respect upon his memory; but I would not interfere to prevent the free exercise of his will. I think, however, if a man die by chance without a will, that it is the duty of the Government to set a high moral example, and to divide the property equally among the children of the former owner, or among those who may be said to be his heirs—among those, in fact, who would fairly participate in his personal estate. If that system of leaving to the only son were followed out in the case of personalties, it would lead to immediate confusion, and, by distroying the whole social system, to a perfect anarchy of property. Why, then, should that course be followed with regard to land? The repeal of that law would not of necessity destroy the custom; but this House would no longer give its sanction to a practice which is bad; and I believe that gradually there would be a more just appreciation of their duties in this respect by the great body of testators. Then, with regard to life interests; I would make an alteration there. I think that they should be allowed to grant leases—of course, only on such terms as should ensure the successor from fraud—and that estates should be permitted to be charged with the sums which were expended in their improvement. Next, with regard to the registry of land. In many European countries this is done; and high legal authorities affirm that it would not be difficult to accomplish it in this country. You have your ordnance survey. To make the survey necessary for a perfect registry of deeds throughout the kingdom, would not cost more than 9d. an acre; and if you had your plans engraved, it would be no great addition to the expense. There can be no reason why the landowners should not have that advantage conferred upon them, because, in addition to the public benefit, it would increase the value of their lands by several years' purchase. Mr. Senior stated, that if there were the same ready means for the transfer of land as at present existed for the transfer of personalty, the value of land would be increased, if I mistake not, by nine years' purchase. This is a subject which I would recommend to the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire, now distinguished as the advocate of the landed interest. Then with regard to stamps, I think that they might be reduced, at any rate for a number of years, to a nominal amount. In fact, I would make any sacrifice for the purpose of changing land from the hands of insolvent and embarrassed owners into those of solvent persons, who would employ it in a manner usefully and advantageously to the country and themselves. There is another proposition with regard to the waste lands of Ireland. The Government made a proposal last year for obtaining those waste lands, and bringing them into cultivation. That I thought injudicious. But they might take those lands at a valuation, and, dividing them into farms and estates of moderate size, might tempt purchasers from different parts of the united kingdom. By such means I believe that a large proportion of the best of the waste lands might be brought into cultivation. I believe that these are the only means by which capital can be attracted to that country. The noble Lord at the head of the Government proposes to attract capital to Ireland by a maximum rate and a charge upon the unions. If that maximum rate be all you have to propose, there will be no more probability of capital flowing into those parts of Ireland where it is so much required, than there were at the time when a poor-rate was unknown. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth spoke about emigration; and I think that he was rather unjust, or at least unwise, in his observations with regard to voluntary emigration. Things that are done voluntarily are not always done well; neither are things that are done by the Government; and I know many cases where Government undertakings have failed as eminently as any that have been attempted by private enterprise. But it does not appear to me that there is much wisdom in the project of emigration, although I know that some hon. Gentlemen from Ireland place much faith in it as a remedy. I have endeavoured to ascertain what is the relation of the population to the land in Ireland, and this is what I find. In speaking of the Clifden union, the inspectors state— In conclusion, we beg to offer our matured opinion that the resources of the union would, if made available, be amply sufficient for the independent support of its population. Mr. Hamilton, who was examined before the Committee of which I am a Member, said, speaking of the unions of Donegal and Glenties— There is no over-population, if those unions, according to their capabilities, were cultivated as the average of English counties, with the same skill and capital. And Mr. Twisleton said— I did not speak of a redundant population in reference to land, only to capital. The land of Ireland could maintain double its present population. Then, if that he the case, I am not quite certain that we should be wise in raising sums of money to enable, the people to emigrate. The cost of transporting a family to Australia, or even to Canada, is considerable; and the question is, whether, with the means which it would require to convey them to a distant shore, they might not be more profitably employed at home. I probably shall be told that I propose schemes which are a great interference with the rights of property. My opinion is that nothing can be a greater interference and infringement of the rights of property than the laws which regulate property now. I think that the landowners are under an impression that they have been maintaining great influence, political power, an hereditary aristocracy, and all those other arrangements which some think should never be named without great reverence and awe; that they have been accustomed to look at that, and to fancy that these things are worth the price they pay for them. I am of opinion that the disadvantages under which they labour throughout the united kingdom are extreme; but in Ireland these disadvantages are followed by results not known in this country. You speak of interference with property; but I ask what becomes of the property of the poor man, which consists of his labour? Those 4,000,000 persons who live in the distressed districts, as described by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, their property in labour is almost totally destroyed. There they are—men whom God made and permitted to come into this world, endowed with faculties like ourselves, who are unable to maintain themselves, and must either starve or live upon others. The interference with their property has been enormous—so great as absolutely to destroy it. Now, I ask the landlords of Ireland whether, living in the state in which for years they have lived is not infinitely worse than that which I propose for them? Threatening letters by the post at breakfast time—now and then the aim of the assassin—poor's rates which are a grievous interference with the rights of property, and this rate in aid which the Gentlemen of Ulster declare to be directly opposed to all the rights of property—what can be worse? I shall be told that I am injuring aristocratical and territorial influence. What is it in Ireland worth to you now? What is Ireland worth to you at all? Is she not the very symbol and token of your disgrace and humiliation to the whole world? Is she not an incessant trouble to your Legislature, and the source of increased expense to your people, already over-taxed? Is not your legislation all at fault in what it has hitherto done for that country? The people of Ulster say that we shall weaken the Union. It has been one of the misfortunes of the legislation of this House that there has been no honest attempt to make a union with the whole people of Ireland up to this time. We had a union with Ulster, but there was no union with the whole people of Ireland, and there never can be a union between the Government and the people whilst such a state of things exists as has for many years past prevailed in the south and west of Ireland. The condition of Ireland at this moment is this—the rich are menaced with ruin, and ruin from which, in their present course, they cannot escape; whilst the poor are menaced with starvation and death. There are hon. Gentlemen in this House, and there are other landed proprietors in Ireland, who are as admirable in the performance of all their social duties as any men to be found in any part of the world. We have had brilliant examples mentioned in this House; but those men themselves are suffering their characters to be contaminated by the present condition of Ireland, and are undergoing a process which must end in their own ruin; because this demoralisation and pauperisation will go on in an extending circle, and will engulf the whole property of Ireland in one common ruin, unless something more be done than passing poor-laws and proposing rates in aid. Sir, if ever there were an opportunity for a statesman, it is this. This is the hour undoubtedly, and we want the man. The noble Lord at the head of the Government has done many things for his country, for which I thank him as heartily as any man—he has shown on some occasions as much moral courage as it is necessary, in the state of public opinion, upon any question, for a statesman to show; but I have been much disappointed that, upon this Irish question, he has seemed to shrink from a full consideration of the difficulty, and from a resolution to meet it fairly. The character of the present, the character of any Government under such circumstances, would be at stake. The noble Lord cannot, in his position, remain inactive. Let him be as innocent as he may, he can never justify himself to the country, or to the world, or to posterity, if he remains at the head of this Imperial Legislature and still is unable, or unwilling, to bring forward measures for the restoration of Ireland. I would address the same language also to the noble Lord at the head of the Irish Government, who has won, I must say, the admiration of the population of this country for the temper and mode in which he has administered the government of Ireland. But he must bear in mind that it is not the highest effort of statesmanship to preserve the peace in a country where there are very few men anxious to go to war, and to preserve the peace, too, with 50,000 armed men at his command, and the whole power of this empire to back him. All that may be necessary, and peace at all hazards must be secured; but if that distinguished Nobleman intends to be known hereafter as a statesman with regard to his rule in Ireland, he must be prepared to suggest to the Government measures (and to aid in carrying them out) of a more practical and directly operative character than any he has yet initiated. Sir, I am ashamed, I must say, of the course which we have taken upon this question. Look at that great subscription that was raised three years ago for Ireland. There was scarcely a part of the globe from which subscriptions did not come. The Pope, as was very natural, subscribed—the head of the great Mahometan empire, the Grand Seignior, sent his thousand pounds—the uttermost parts of the earth sent in their donations. A tribe of Red Indians on the American continent sent their subscription; and I have it on good authority that even the slaves on a plantation in one of the Carolinas subscribed their sorrowful mite that the miseries of Ireland might be relieved. The whole world looked upon the condition of Ireland, and helped to mitigate her miseries. What can we say to all those contributors, who, now that they have paid, must be anxious to know if anything is done to prevent a recurrence of those calamities? We must tell them with blushes that nothing has been done, but that we are still going on with the poor's rate, and that, having exhausted the patience of the people of England in Parliamentary grants, we are coming now with rates in aid, restricted altogether to the property of Ireland. That is what we have to tell them; whilst we have to acknowledge that our constitution, boasted of as it has been for generations past, utterly fails to grapple with this great question. Hon. Gentlemen turn with triumph to neighbouring countries, and speak in glowing terms of our glorious constitution. True, that abroad thrones and dynasties have been overturned, whilst in England peace has reigned undisturbed. But take all the lives that have been lost in the last twelvemonths in Europe amidst the convulsions that have occurred—take all the cessation of trade, the destruction of industry, all the crushing of hopes and hearts, and they will not compare for an instant with the agonies which have been endured by the population of Ireland under your glorious constitution. And there are those who now say that this is the ordering of Providence. I met an Irish gentleman the other night, and, speaking upon the subject, he said that he saw no remedy, but that it seemed as if the present state of things were the mode by which Providence intended to solve the question of Irish difficulties. But let us not lay these calamities at the door of Providence; it were sinful in us, of all men, to do so. God has blessed Ireland—and does still bless her—in position, in soil, in climate; he has not withdrawn his promises, nor are they unfulfilled; there is still the sunshine and shower; still the seed time and the harvest; and the affluent bosom of the earth yet offers sustenance for man. But man must do his part—we must do our part—we must retrace our steps—we must shun the blunders, and, I would even say, the crimes of our past legislation. We must free the land, and then we shall discover, and not till then, that industry, hopeful and remunerated—industry, free and inviolate, is the only sure foundation on which can be reared the enduring edifice of union and of peace.


I think, with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that this rate in aid is a great delusion, and that Her Majesty's Government have neglected their duty by not bringing forward some great and comprehensive scheme. I also agree with the hon. Gentleman that Ireland must look rather to the Opposition side of the House for any great remedial measure, than to the Ministerial benches. Early in the Session, Sir, when a grant of 50,000l. was proposed to keep the people of Ireland from starving. Her Majesty's Government were told that such grants could not much longer be tolerated, and that it was their duty to have come down with some great and comprehensive scheme to this House, instead of reproducing these palliative measures. The noble Lord at the head of the Government, in answer to that warning, said that he was not prepared to come down to this House upon his own responsibility with a great and comprehensive scheme until he had ascertained the views and feelings of the Irish people. He therefore proposed that a Committee should be appointed to consider the question; that Committee was appointed, and what has been the result? The noble Lord has not, on the one hand, waited for the production of the evidence and report of that Committee; nor, on the other, has he proposed a measure for the benefit and regeneration of Ireland. Her Majesty's Government have not had the capacity to propose the one, nor the courage to wait for the other; and the consequence has been, that they have brought before this House a mere idea, an abstract proposition, another palliative measure, another temporary expedient—temporary. Sir, I call it, but I fear that the effects of this measure will be lasting. Now, Sir, do they attempt to defend their measure? Do they say that it is perfect or just? No, Sir, they say neither the one nor the other, because they cannot. They admit that it would be as unjust to tax Ulster for the distress of Connaught, as it would be to tax Yorkshire for the distress of Sussex. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, the other night showed with great perspicuity the difference that existed between England and Ireland with regard to the operation of the poor-law. He showed that whilst in England in such a rate as this there would be the advantages of local management, in Ireland they would be deprived of those advantages. The hon. and learned Gentleman also showed that there was another great difference between the poor-laws of England and Ireland. By the English poor-law of 43rd Elizabeth, rates for the poor were levied upon all kinds of property. It was true, that in consequence of the difficulty of levying a rate upon personal property, that property became exempted from ordinary poor-rates; but in case of a rate in aid, personal as well as real property was liable to the tax. But such is not the case with respect to Ireland, and that is one of the great grievances of the present measure. There is another great difference between the poor-laws of the two countries; the House will perhaps hardly believe, that in England a tenant is liable merely for such rates as may have accrued during his occupancy. With what justice, then, do you make the distinction between England and Ireland, and make the tenant in Ireland liable for arrears that may have accumulated prior to his occupancy? These are the two great distinctions that I draw between the poor-rate as levied in England, and the poor-rate as levied in Ireland. But, consider the question of this rate in aid. You propose to fix the maximum, but you fix it upon the assessment, not upon the amount of the rate collected. Why, you thus, Sir, give a bonus to a union to declare itself insolvent. Take the case of a union in Ireland divided into twelve electoral divisions: there is no law of settlement in Ireland; a certain number of paupers come from each of those twelve districts to a union workhouse: the board of guardians is enabled to place all of them upon one of those electoral divisions; and under this rate in aid it would be to their benefit to do so, because, as soon as the rates in that division rise to 7d. it would have the benefit of a sixpenny rate in aid, and the other divisions of the union would be exempted from the burden of poor-rates. In addition to this, Sir, property in Ireland is often most unjustly taxed; take this case: with respect to farms valued under 4l., the rate is paid by the landlord; a landlord is rated for a number of these small tenements, but they are under lease; they were under lease before the poor-law came into operation, and under the poor-law he is not called upon to pay rate. If the landlord refuses to pay the rate, the Poor Law Commissioner proceeds against him; he obtains a verdict in his favour; the Commissioners and the vice-guardians are to pay the costs; but that cost is defrayed out of the poor-rate funds. Thus, the landlord, though he gets a verdict by showing that he was falsely rated, has to pay the cost. Is that just? I now come to an important branch of this question, and that is, the valuation upon which you are to make this poor-rate. The noble Earl the Member for Falkirk, the other night, showed very ably the unfairness and inequality of that valuation. I think he showed that in some instances it varied 50l. per cent. I will take the case of a farm, valued and rented at 100l., and that it is necessary to raise upon it 5l. for poor-rate: 5l. upon the valuation would be 1s. in the pound; the tenant pays the rate in the first instance, but he is allowed to deduct half of the rate from the landlord, and he will, therefore, deduct sixpence in the pound from the landlord. Sixpence in the pound upon 100l. rent will he 2l. 10s. In this case, therefore, the tenant will pay 2l. 10s., and the landlord will pay the same. In that case your principle is very just, because your valuation is just. But suppose the case of a farm—which happens frequently in some parts of Ireland—valued at 100l., but reduced 50l. per cent, if 5l. were to be levied upon it for poor-rates, 5l. upon 50l. would be 2s. in the pound; the tenant pays the rate in the first instance, and deducts half of the poundage from the rent paid by him to the landlord—that is to say, he deducts 1s. in the pound from the amount of the poor-law valuation, 100l.; he deducts 5l. from the actual rent of 50l. In this case, therefore, the landlord pays the whole of the poor-rate, the tenant does not pay a single farthing; and supposing that a reduction of 55l. or 60l. per cent were made on the rent, the tenant would actually put money into his pocket, as he would be enabled to deduct more from the rent than he had paid for poor-rates. If, on the other hand, the valuation is raised, the hardship falls upon the tenant, and the benefit accrues to the landlord. These are some of the objections—forcible objections, I think—to this rate in aid. But one of the greatest grievances is that a fair valuation under the poor-law cannot be made until the year 1851, the exact time at which this rate in aid is to cease. But Her Majesty's Government have talked of remedial measures: they have, however, failed to make us acquainted with them. They say that they cannot propose such measures on their own responsibility—that they desire the advice and counsel of Irish Members. They are willing to force down the throats of the Irish Members and the Irish people this most objectionable principle of a rate in aid; but they are not willing to accompany it with any remedial measures until they have counsel of the Irish people upon it. But although we do not know what are the intended remedial measures of Her Majesty's Government, of this we are certain, that it is not their intention to introduce into them that principle which alone can make this rate in aid endurable to the people of Ireland—that principle which my hon. Friend the Member for Northamptonshire has, Session after Session, and night after night, with so much zeal, earnestness, and talent, impressed upon the House. I allude, Sir, to the principle of a diminution of the area of taxation. I therefore shall not travel over the ground which my hon. Friend has so often gone over in a much more able manner. But I wish to allude to some objections brought against that proposition by the noble Lord at the head of the Government when introducing this measure. The noble Lord said, he admitted the advantage which a reduction of the area of taxation would confer upon the large landed proprietors; but he said it would be a measure fraught with extreme injustice to the small proprietors—holding about thirty-eight acres of land—not to admit them to the same advantages conferred upon the large proprietors. The noble Lord said, that the proposition would have the effect of protecting the large landed proprietors from the indolence or incapacity of the small proprietors, but that it would not protect the latter from the indolence, incapacity, or mismanagement of the former. I believe. Sir, in certain local districts you will have to collect a number of small landed proprietors together, whereas in others you will be able to make the property of one coterminous with the area of taxation. In a large variety of instances, the small proprietor would be included in the electoral district with the large landed proprietors, who would have the advantage of being paramount in that electoral division. Wherever this will be the case, it will be to his advantage to employ the people, in order to keep down the rates; and, inasmuch as such a course tends to his advantage, it cannot fail to be of advantage to the small proprietor also. I now come to the extreme case put by the noble Lord, where a great number of small proprietors are collected together in the one electoral division. I ask the noble Lord, is not this an exceptional case? and I ask you, the House of Commons, whether you come to fold your arms in indolence, looking at the hopeless and prostrate condition of Ireland, and say that you will not attempt to do anything, because you cannot benefit the small landed proprietor to the same extent as you can the large? I believe I shall not be contradicted, when I say that of the total area of acreage in Ireland—I am not now comparing one class of holders as against another—by far the larger portion is held by large rather than small proprietors. I believe I am correct in saying that, of the twenty millions of acres in Ireland, eighteen millions are held by proprietors who have upwards of one thousand acres of land. Well, if this be the case—if you can confer this great benefit upon eighteen-twentieths of the land—if you can afford employment to the people—if you can reduce the rates upon that extent of land, the small proprietor, if not directly, must share indirectly in the benefit of the measure. But, says the noble Lord, I fear that eviction would be consequent upon the adoption of the proposal. I think that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin proved to demonstration that evictions would be fewer after you reduced the area of taxation than they were at the present moment; but whether that be the case or not, I shall not stop now to determine. The remedy is simple, as well as brief—a law of settlement, in my opinion, would completely cure such an evil. The noble Lord objects that such a measure would confine the labourers in Ireland to one county, or to one particular electoral district, and that you would reduce their condition—that they would, in reality, become little more than serfs. I think if you make the employer of labour and the employed better acquainted with one another—if you can render the labourer's face familiar to the landlord who employs him—if you can make his cabin the place of record for his honesty and industry—if you make a particular district acquainted with his frugality and his laborious habits—I cannot but think that the condition of that man, labouring in the open air of heaven, is infinitely superior to that of the unfortunate vagrant who travels in search of employment from one county to another, and cannot find it. I think the condition of that man is infinitely superior to the condition of the man who is shut up within the four walls of a workhouse prison, scarcely seeing the light of day or feeling the breath of heaven, inhaling a fœtid and unwholesome atmosphere, and surrounded by disease and pestilence. I demand which of the two is the freer, the more enlightened, or the best member of society? I have no hesitation in saying—call him by what name you like; call him serf if you will—that the condition of the man labouring in the open air of heaven, is infinitely superior to that of a man shut up within the four walls of a workhouse. It has been asserted that the distresses in Ireland have almost invariably proceeded from the potato famine. I find upon referring to the reports of the vice-guardians and Government inspectors, that they were as much attributable to the total want of employment which prevailed. Mr. Griffiths states in his evidence that he had known cases where landlords had applied for loans for the improvement of their estates, and when the time came to take up those loans they refused to do so because of the difficulty in which they were involved in consequence of the large area of taxation. He also. states that, in many cases, the tenant was unwilling to yoke his horses to cultivate the land, lest the poor-law collector should stop in and carry horses and plough away, in order to pay the arrears of rate which may be on the land. Well do I remember the speech of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon this subject, and the sensation it produced, which was only equalled by the sensation produced in America by the discovery of gold in California. I am sure the House has not forgotten it. When I consider all these circumstances—and moreover when I refer to a report of Mr. Hamilton, a Government inspector sent down to the Ballina union, who states that the distress is not so much owing to the potato famine as to the want of the circulating medium—I say I cannot come to the conclusion that the potato failure was the only main cause of the distress which existed. In furtherance of this view, I will venture to refer to one remarkable fact connected with Ballina. Previously to the reciprocity treaties introduced by Mr. Huskisson, between the West Indian colonies and America—I allude to the year 1814—in one week in the month of November there were sold in the market town of Ballina swine to the value of 60,000l. Why, the amount which the Government asked to support the eleven distressed unions for a period of three weeks, was only 50,000l. A Mr. Potter, a Government agent, made that calculation. I am somewhat surprised at the tone in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth referred to the repeal of the law of 1846. I thought that looking at the state of Ireland, any one who had a large share in the government of the country of late years would have had, at all events, some little diminution of confidence, if he did not give way to a fervent regret, in the success or efficiency of the repeal of the law of 1846. I do not now speak of omission or errors in legislation; I do not speak of hopes blighted or expectations frustrated. What a strange boast it was in the year 1849, to say that in consequence of the repeal of these laws the Government were able to keep body and soul together of 100,000 people. Yes, body and soul together—these were the words. The question for us to consider was, not whether they could keep body and soul together, but whether a wiser system of legislation would not have prevented the necessity for such temporary measures. If you had adopted a poor-law applicable to the state of Ireland, you would not feel the necessity of adopting some such measure as the present. Sir, if Parliament had adopted the measure proposed by my noble and lamented friend (Lord G. Bentinck), relative to the encouragement of railways in Ireland, my belief is you would not now be called upon to devise means for keeping the body and soul together of 100,000 starving wretches. But even that meed of modified praise which the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth appropriated to himself, in consequence of having repealed the corn law, I cannot permit him. The very night he made that speech in the House of Commons, I find a letter written from Dublin upon the same day. I take it from the Times newspaper. It is to this effect:— The accounts of the progress of destitution throughout certain portions of Connaught continue to be of a most deplorable description. The county of Mayo, as usual, takes the lead in the history of horrors. A gentleman named Hilles, writing from Newport, enumerates a fearful catalogue of deaths by starvation; and the names of the unhappy people and all the circumstances connected with the tragic scene are duly set forth, there is no reason to suppose that the writer has been guilty of exaggeration. Mr. Hilles concludes his letter by stating, on the authority of a person officially connected with the district, that fully 1,000 lives must be lost within the coming month, as many of those who are on the relief list were getting only a few ounces of yellow meal daily. Equally miserable is the condition of Connemara, where, according to the testimony of a Roman Catholic priest, 'the country appears as if it was after being ravaged by some powerful enemy. Despair is visible in every countenance; industry of every kind is paralysed; the fields be waste, and every eye is turned to America. A few only are living, and fewer still are making any preparation for tillage.' What will the opponents of the Peel panacea say of these sketches of Connaught in the nineteenth century? Now, Sir, it appears to me that the greatest advantage which we derive from the repeal of the law of 1846 is the admission or importation of the Indian meal. The people of Ireland are living exclusively upon this Indian meal. Was it not possible for the Government, when the crisis came, to have repealed the 10s. duty which existed upon this article, and maintained the protective duty upon the other kinds of grain? Indian meal does not grow in Ireland, consequently you would not have injured any party, whilst, upon the other hand, you would have preserved all the grain in the country, giving protection to the landlord and tenant. If you had adopted this policy, you would not have arrived at the deplorable condition in which you now are. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth went on to say that the time had come when cereal produce should take the place of the potato. He said that no good potato crop in 1849 would cure the evils under which Ireland is labouring. I fully concur with him in that opinion. I believe it is essentially necessary to make the cereal crop supersede the potato. This, however, will be a matter of some difficulty. The same quantity of land in Ireland which will raise potatoes sufficient for three individuals, if sown with corn, will only feed one half that number—I believe only one-third. It is, therefore, self-evident that the only way in which we can substitute the cereal produce for the potato, is by doing away with the small cottier in Ireland, and by making him a labourer for wages upon the land. Even now, the people of Ireland are unemployed. We must make it worth the while of the proprietor to employ them. How can we hope to obtain this end, except by passing such a law as will give the cultivator of the land a remunerative price for his produce, as well as for the labour which he has expended upon it? I say it is by that means alone that you have the slightest chance of obtaining what the right hon. Baronet desires. I believe, Sir, if the right hon. Gentleman succeeds in his chimerical plan—if he should entirely succeed in superseding the present race of proprietors in Ireland, and transferring them to America—if he should succeed in bringing the whole of Lancashire into Connaught, he will have effected nothing until he shall have given the owners of the land in Ireland the means of living. Upon the present occasion I will only add that I cannot support the plan of Her Majesty's Government, because it is unjust and impolitic. I think it unjust to tax one portion of the people to support the pauperism of another portion, which they had no hand in creating. I think it is unjust, because it gives them no control over the management of those funds which are to be raised by their labour. I think it is impolitic, because its tendency must be, not to raise the condition of the distressed unions to the level of the more prosperous, but inevitably to lower all to one universal measure of misery and degradation.


was the more anxious to give his reasons for opposing the measure of the Government, because he usually agreed with their political views. But he should vote against the proposal for the rate in aid, because he wished to see another species of tax imposed upon Ireland. He wished to see an Irish income tax raised for Irish purposes; and he wished to correct some of the terms that had been used in the debate. When Her Majesty's Government and those hon. Gentlemen who supported their proposition spoke about the necessity of thereby compelling Ireland to make an effort for herself, they really meant, not Ireland, but one class of Irishmen—the ratepayers. If the country were to make a national effort, the basis of the measure should be extended. But whilst differing from the Government, he should also express his dissent from the very erroneous principle that had been caught up by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin and his party, who assigned, amongst their reasons for opposing the pro-sent plan, that the two countries should be considered perfectly identical, and should be subjected to precisely the same forms of legislation. He begged hon. Gentlemen to consider what that principle, if fully carried out, would lead to. They should have perfect similarity of taxation. The poor-laws should be identical. They should have the same system of national education and the same ecclesiastical system. The more they examined what the natural and inevitable consequences of such identity would be, the more objectionable they would find it. He could not help regarding Ireland as a separate personality and a separate nationality. He was opposed to a repeal of the legislative Union; but he thought the principle of perfect identity, if attempted to be carried out, would excite an opposition so strong as to lead to repeal of the Union. The vote that he would give upon the present occasion would be, not as between Englishmen and Irishmen, but as between one class of Irishmen and another. The reason assigned for the introduction of the measure was, that an emergency had arisen which called for the exertion of the whole power of the nation. They should lay aside in such a case all poor-law considerations, and deal with it as all great national emergencies should be dealt with—namely, by a general call upon all descriptions of property, just as they should have done in such a case as that of war. But there were two other arguments used by the proposers and supporters of the measure. They said, that if a low income tax had been proposed for Ireland, instead of the rate in aid, it would have met with just as bad a reception from the country and the House. He did not think it would. He did not, of course, imagine that it would have been received with acclamation. It could not be expected that taxpayers would be greatly pleased with any proposition that would increase their burdens. But he thought there were signs and tokens enough to show that an income tax would have been better received than the present proposal of a rate in aid. It was not fair that that property which had suffered least during the distress in Ireland should be exempted from taxation, and that all the weight should be thrown upon that which had suffered most. The other argument was, that the rate in aid would be much easier to collect than an income tax, which would require the establishment of expensive machinery. That was a sort of argument which he would be very slow to adopt. If it were not the plea of the tyrant, it was very like the plea of one who might and could have done better had he only taken the trouble. But as it was admitted that at some time or other they were to have the income tax in Ireland, they might as well have the machinery established at once for their own salvation. He, however, thought that Her Majesty's Government, if they at one time thought that the rate in aid would be easier and cheaper to collect than the income tax, had found out their mistake by this time. He should oppose Her Majesty's Ministers, not because, as an Irishman, he was unwilling to put his shoulder to the wheel, but because he wished the House to compel the Government to adopt a more statesmanlike mode of meeting the emergency, to adopt some plan by which a national fund should be created, by which emigration could be assisted, and employment afforded; apian, in short, more adapted to the wants of the people, and containing in its principle more of justice and fairness.


Sir, the Member for Manchester, in a speech which, although I agree as little with the hon. Gentleman as any Member in this House, I listened to with pleasure and gratification, as I must do to every demonstration which sustains the reputation of this assembly, has described the present Session as an adjourned debate upon the affairs of Ireland. It is my wish, Sir, to-night, that before the House separates, we may at last succeed, if possible, in terminating that debate, and bringing our deliberations to some practical conclusion. During those various discussions to which the hon. Gentleman referred, and in which I myself, and those friends with whom it is my pleasure to cooperate, have been obliged, perhaps too frequently, to interfere, we have on every occasion, when we have offered any criticism upon the propositions of the Government, always told them, that, ready as we were to agree to any arrangement that was necessary for the immediate circumstances with which they were called upon to cope, what we demanded as a principal and indeed as a primary condition, was, that Government should come forward, simultaneously with their demand for relief, with some plan that should give an assurance to the House and to the country that those temporary proposals were not to be continued for ever. Well, Sir, how was this opinion on our part received by the Government, and by individuals who are influential—and very justly influential—Members of this House? The Government persisted for a long time in the course with which they had originated the Session. They persisted that it was not only necessary, but that it was also politic, that they should come down to the House of Commons, and make propositions for grants of public money, which, even upon their own showing, could only meet the exigency of the occasion for a very brief period, when there fell from the lips of a right hon. Gentleman—eminent in the country, and justly influential in the House—the observation that such propositions should be accompanied by comprehensive measures. Such was the reception with which the proposition was met, or, rather I should say, such was the manner in which the intimation was received by the Government, that even the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Member for Ripon, seemed a few evenings after, to recoil from the too hazardous effects of a felicitous epithet. And when I, catching it from the lips of a great master, said, that I could not assent to the proposition of the Government for a loan of 50,000l., unless it were combined with comprehensive measures for the removal of misgovernment, and the causes of those disturbances, and that distress which were evident to all, and recognised by many, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth rose in the House, and threw out a sneer at comprehensive measures. He brought to the discussion all the influence of his great abilities and great experience, and he warned the House that it was easy to talk about comprehensive measures, but that he himself knew how little was to be expected from such colossal suggestions. Sir, the Government then were not only firm—they were obstinate. They were prepared to carry their propositions, and to renew them if necessary every fortnight. And what has been the result of all those expressions of opinion by these powerful associations and these influential individuals? The Government have at length come forward with a proposition which affects to be comprehensive, the vote upon which we are called upon to decide to-night, when—as if to dwarf their proposition—as if to take the greatness off their proposal—as if to show how mean was their conception, and how ineffectual must be its results—the ready critic, the right hon. Member for Tamworth, has capped their climax with suggestions of his own, so vast and multifarious, that they have introduced into the debate a new element of the most interesting and important character—which, by its introduction has justified the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon in the use of the epithet to which I have referred, and me and my friends for its adoption. Let us look at the Bill which is before us. In this proposition for what is called a national rate in aid, the first point for us to consider is—is it an adequate proposition? It would appear, if I recollect aright, by those papers that are on the table, that in those extensive districts that are popularly called the distressed unions, the expenditure on the poor, during one year, was not less than 540,000l., leaving a debt of upwards of 120,000l. in addition. It is proposed by this present Bill before us—by this plan of a rate in aid, that we should raise a sum throughout all Ireland, which, I understand, it is calculated would amount to 320,000l. [Here several hon. Members suggested various sums.] Well, I give the popular and accepted estimate. It may not be exactly correct; but it must have some approximation to probability. Well, then, it would appear that this proposition is essentially inadequate. If it is to produce any effect, the proposition must mean more than it expresses. Here are the distressed unions—I take, of course, only the twenty-one that are so called. I don't refer to those unions over which is impending a doom as terrible. Here are the twenty-one unions that have expended, I believe, in one year, 240,000l. more than was obtained from the rate they contrived to strike, besides having incurred a debt considerably above 100,000l. Well, generally speaking, the fruits of your national rate in aid would only supply the deficiency that was incurred in those distressed unions when the state of Ireland was not probably so severe as it is at the present moment. It appears, then, certainly, at the first glance, that the proposition of the Government, if it mean nothing more than a sixpenny rate in aid, is an inadequate proposition. Yet there may be other objections to the proposition besides its being inadequate. It may be an impolitic one. I think it is an impolitic proposition. I think that a measure introduced to renovate the condition of a country which suffers from a deficiency of capital, and which commences by forcibly reducing that capital, can scarcely be called a wise measure. I think that a measure which, in a country where you all acknowledge that you ought to stimulate self-exertion, reduces the inducement to that self-exertion, can scarcely be called a discreet measure. I think that a measure which declares that Ireland is to be considered in a different spirit to any other part in the united kingdom, can hardly be described in the present age as one characterised by a profound sagacity, or as conceived in a very statesmanlike spirit. I agree with the hon. Member for Louth, who has just addressed the House, that there is a difference between England and Ireland. But, Sir, we must never recognise that difference as an imperial difference. The condition of a county or province in Ireland may be different from the condition of a county or province in England—who doubts that? In the different portions of an ancient empire, great diversity of circumstances must frequently exist. The tenure of land is different in Middlesex from that in Kent; but is that a reason for pursuing a different policy towards Middlesex from the policy you pursue towards Kent? And so as to Ireland. There may he a difference between the countries—a geographical difference— a difference of tenure—a difference arising from historical association; but would it be an answer to a man of Kent, if he complained that we mulcted him in a tax to which the man of Middlesex was not liable, to remind him that the tenure of land in the two counties is different, and that he bears on his banners the white horse of Hengist, as an evidence that he was never conquered by the Normans? I say, then, that this is a proposition which fiscally is inadequate—which politically is indiscreet. Let us proceed with the analysis, and sec if there may not be other objections to it. Not only because it is inadequate—not only because it is impolitic—must I object to it, but mainly because it is illusory. It is essentially a deceptive proposition. It is a national rate to which the whole nation cannot contribute. How can you go to that desolate Connaught, which cannot raise its peculiar rates—which cannot raise its local contributions, and call on it to make a national contribution? It is. not a national rate, because a great portion of the nation will not contribute to it, and that the very portion which will be benefited by it. Sir, there are English Gentlemen, who represent English constituencies, who are little inclined to consider this case in the spirit with which I have been induced to contemplate it. They think that this is an Irish squabble about the degree and amount to which Ireland should contribute to the general necessities of the empire. Sir, they make a mistake. I warn them not to consider the question in that limited light. I bog them to think for a moment over the position in which, by adopting the Government measure, they will place themselves as regards their constituents—as regards England. They are called on to vote 100,000l. on the security of a law which never may be put into execution. A sum of 100,000l. will come from the English Exchequer. What compensation you may receive from it is a problem yet to be solved. But I am not anxious to dwell on that point. I want to show English Gentlemen that this proposition is not only inadequate—that it is not only impolitic—that it is not only illusory, but that it is also unjust, and that if they assist in the accomplishment of the injustice which it would perpetrate, they are in effect warring against their own interests, and taking a course which they may hereafter have cause bitterly to repent. Some short time ago I ventured to call the attention of the House to what I considered to be the grievous burdens on land in England. Whatever may have been the merit of any proposition I then made, none, I believe, will dispute the accuracy of the facts which on that occasion I laid before the House. None can deny that from the coarse and uncivilised system of taxation which has always seized on the visible property of the country, a disproportionate degree of the burdens of taxation is borne by the real property of England. Well, what are you going to do now? What are you called upon to do by the proposition of the Minister? Why, you are asked to introduce into Ireland a repetition of that same evil system under which England groans. At a moment of unprecedented difficulty—at a moment of unparalleled trial—when every man feels that he is called on to perform an extraordinary duty, and to make remarkable sacrifices—what is the gist and essence of the statesmanlike proposition before us, but that fresh burdens should be laid upon that property which has already home the brunt of the difficulties under which the country now suffers? Now, I ask Gentlemen representing English counties, is it for the sake of gratifying some petty pique respecting the ability of Ireland to contribute to the general necessities of the country—is it for the interests of England or their own—that they should sanction by their votes to-night so dangerous a system, so perilous a precedent? Sir, they ought rather to come forward and proclaim, in language which cannot be mistaken, that the system of imposing peculiar burdens upon the agricultural interest of England and of Ireland is no longer to be borne. Thus, then, there are many and powerful reasons why I oppose the Bill on the table. I oppose it, first, because it is avowedly inadequate; secondly, because I believe it to be impolitic; thirdly, because I think that it is illusory; and, lastly and chiefly, because I hold it to be unjust. Sir, the hon. Member for Manchester, who has described this Session of Parliament as an adjourned debate upon Ireland, reminded the House that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had taken this opportunity, not merely of expressing his opinion on the proposition of the Government, but generally on the policy which should be pursued with respect to Ireland. If I only considered the great reputation and position of the right hon. Gentleman, I should, from these circumstances alone, receive any communication which he might make to the House on so interesting a subject with the greatest deference. But considering the position of the united kingdom—considering the perilous position of Ireland at this moment, and that the House of Commons, after sitting for two months, is about to adjourn for no inconsiderable period, without having decided a single point, without having passed a single measure, except the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, with regard to Ireland—considering this, Sir, I think it would be a mockery to attempt to argue the proposition before the House without some reference to opinions flung out by so considerable an authority, and expressed in so ample and frank a manner. Sir, whatever may he the general opinion on the exposition of the distinguished statesman in question, this, I think, must be conceded—that after that expression of opinion, it is utterly impossible that we should hear anything more in this House of what has been called the laissez faire policy as to Ireland. I remember, some two years ago, when one whose loss I always deplore, but never more than when the condition of Ireland is brought under the consideration of the House—I remember, some two years ago, rising humbly to support that measure which on his part the future proved to be so sagacious and statesmanlike—the measure of Lord George Bentinck. I remember then, Sir, saying, that in dealing with Irish affairs the commercial principle was not sufficient—that there were considerations of a political nature which mixed themselves up with all the transactions of life, with which the political principle could alone cope—and that in stimulating to enterprise, you might, as regards Ireland, call, and rightly call, on the State to interfere, because the commercial principle by itself for that purpose was insufficient. Sir, on that occasion I received a reply from one who, with a weak cause, is still a powerful opponent. The principle which I laid down, in order to vindicate the State stimulating commercial enterprise in Ireland, was opposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. He entirely repudiated the doctrine that there was a difference between the commercial and the political principle. He advocated, on this head, the doctrines of extreme political economy, which I did not think then, and which I think less now, apply to Ireland. While the right hon. Gentleman demolished my argument, I listened to him with that respect which we always owe to a master. I regretted that after his speech, I had not the opportunity even to attempt what might be an inefficient reply; but, Sir, "time avenges truth," and my answer to his speech is the proposition which, on two occassions, he has himself developed to the House, and which now occupies the attention of the country. On such an occasion as this, when, evidently after mature thought on a subject so interesting and important, and emanating from an individual so influential, important suggestions are thrown out before the public mind, it is well to pause and consider whether the propositions are entitled to our confidence. When we consider the state of Ireland—a state which has baffled so many statesmen—when we reflect on the position of any Government which, under the present circumstances of English distress, are called upon to cope with an instance of such aggravated difficulty—great is the responsibility of that man who comes forward, in a position so eminent as that of the right hon. Baronet, and volunteers his opinion to the country. It is an act, no doubt, of great duty on his part, and his suggestions should be received with great respect. But we must weigh them at the same time with that careful scrutiny which is not given to the schemes of every projector—I use the word in no offensive sense; and if there be hope for Ireland and for the united kingdom in the ideas of the right hon. Baronet—if they be founded on ample knowledge and deep thought—the matured offspring of a sage statesman—then there is no one who will be more ready than I to recognise such qualities—nor one more ready, whatever may be the sacrifice, to support the policy which may bring them into play. Sir, the right hon. Baronet has on two occasions expressed his opinions on this subject to the House. It is hardly permitted me, by the rules of the House, to refer to the first speech which the right hon. Gentleman delivered; but I think it is only fair to myself to allude to that speech, and almost only fair to the right hon. Gentleman himself. The suggestions which he has made are numerous. They are not all novel. Facilities for the transfer of land—measures for the encouragement of emigration—propositions for the investment of public moneys in public works—are all of them measures of great interest and importance; but they have been heard of before. What I look upon as the characteristic feature of what I may call the revelations of the right hon. Baronet, is, that somehow or other the State, or the society of England, is to appropriate to itself those vast regions which are now the scene of so much misgovernment and misery in Ireland; and, by a happier management and a more successful cultivation, results opposed to those now realised are to be attained, the regeneration of Ireland to be brought about, and all this by a change of tenure in the land, which is to be held under the auspices of the English Government. Combining the more elaborate exposition the other night, with the preliminary announcement a few weeks ago—the former, however, not inferior to the latter in ability—not an "Odyssey" to an "Iliad," the setting to the rising sun—but still as ardent and as fervent as his earlier effort on the previous occasion—combining, I say, these speeches, I can only conclude that the right hon. Gentleman anticipates at the bottom of his mind a considerable home colonisation in Connaught. He has referred to the time of James I. He has quoted the economical opinions of the wisest of Englishmen. Glad, Sir, am I that the right hon. Gentleman has called the attention of the House to that great authority. But has he well considered what may be the consequences of the position which he seems to have taken? There seems, as far as I could follow the right hon. Baronet, to be running through his argument one great fallacy. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to assume that these lands, which are lying waste in consequence of the operation, chiefly, I think, of the poor-law—that these lands are also depopulated. Now, the land may be desolate, but it need not be, therefore, depopulated. So far as I can learn, the land in question is not so. The occupier, the man bound to pay rent, and forced by the law to contribute rates, may be wanting—he is in a different region—perhaps in a different country; but there is a population on the waste lands who are sensible of the rights of possession; who are quite ready to maintain these rights, quite ready to support an adverse claim against a factitious, even a Parliamentary, claim. Now, in what position does that state of matters place the right hon. Gentleman and other similar projectors? You commence with an adverse and hostile population—a population which will resist your claim. This, Sir, is a grave circumstance to be gravely considered. "Yes," says the right hon. Gentleman, "but remember the plantations of Ulster; they were conceived by a great statesman, they produced great results. Ulster has long been the link which in trying times maintained the connexion between the two countries. Why should we not be as successful under Queen Victoria as under King James?" But when I look into the causes of the success of the Ulster plantation, I am scarcely induced to believe that the right hon. Gentleman would be the statesman who would come forward to advocate, in the present day, a similar principle as a means of similar success. The plantations of Ulster were successful, in spite of a thousand difficulties, by a community of religious sentiment. But oven with that inspiriting source of energy, these plantations were often in difficulty and danger. The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, is not a statesman who will come forward and look to a community of religious feeling as the basis of the success of his new plantation. Yes; but you will place there substantial farmers—men of great capital and considerable scientific acquirements. Be it so: but is it not likely that a considerable majority of those persons will be Protestants—Protestants placed in the midst of a Roman Catholic population—a population not only differing with the colonists in religion, but who will look upon them as possessing an inferior title to the land they hold. Sir, I see all the evils which would result from a colony ostentatiously planted on Protestant principles. Are we to reproduce a source of so many calamities? Is this statesmanship? No; surely the House will not authorise it. ["Oh, oh!"] "Oh!"—but you must deal with the circumstances before you. If you think you can adopt this policy, say so boldly; but I believe you cannot without producing the most calamitous results. You cannot plant Englishmen in Connaught without protecting them. How are they to be protected—by force—by their arming themselves? Let such a course be pursued, and instantly that will occur which has occurred in all plantations within the memory of man—there will be a development of the military principle. I cannot believe, Sir, that any attempt at home colonisation—any attempt to reproduce, even under a mitigated form, and under the modifying circumstances of the nineteenth century —any attempt to reproduce in the west of Ireland, a colony such as the Ulster plantation was in the north, can be attended but with heavy calamities, and perhaps the direst catastrophes, But, supposing the plan of the right hon. Gentleman not to he carried into effect, so far as colonies and plantations go, what are we to have, Sir? We are to have a high commission to manage those lands which we are not to plant. Now, there was one point as to this head of the subject, in which there seemed to me to be a deficiency in the right hon. Gentleman's statement. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt on the state of the disturbed districts. He proposed a commission for the management of those districts, and proposed that it should be a local commission; but he did not seem to have remembered that these districts do not be together. Look to the map of Ireland—look to the west of Ireland. From the Bay of Donegal to Bantry Bay—along that indented coast, the distressed districts lie, here and there, beginning in the furthermost part of Donegal, and ending in the uttermost part of Kerry. But within those two points be Limerick and Clare. Where, then, are you to station this local authority which is to produce all these happy results? But, supposing you have it established—say in Limerick—what is it to do? The right hon. Gentleman, vague and shadowy as he in general was, and as in general became the first sketchings of projects so colossal—did, on this head descend a little into details. To this commission are to be submitted all those measures which this House has passed for the mitigation of distress in Ireland. What are those measures? We know them all, the right hon. Gentleman referred to them in detail. First, there is the fund voted by the House for the promotion of drainage. Well, I take this instance, and I ask whether any hon. Gentleman will say that the application of this fund can be better managed than it is by the Commissioners of Public Works? I should like to know from any hon. Gentleman who entertains a different opinion, the grounds on which he bases it. My own is formed from the means in every one's hands. No later than this morning, I was reading the last report of the Commissioners of Public Works; and if they err in advancing sums for drainage, I think their fault lies rather on the side of scrupulosity than otherwise. Evidence of better management I do not believe exists in the annals of any public body. Well, can you suppose that the lords high commissioners of Limerick will be more discreet, vigilant, and economic than the Commissioners of the Board of Works? But let us pursue this analysis of the duties of the commissioners with respect to the application of public funds. I cannot believe that the lords high commissioners could manage funds raised by the poor-rates better than they are at present administered. Will they be able to raise rates in unions which have refused to pay them? The right hon. Gentleman has done justice to the vice-guardians in the tribute which he paid to them. Why should his commissioners be able to manage the funds with greater ability? Take the advance of public money for public works. Take the instance of railways. What can the lords high commissioners do if the Government chose to advance 500,000l. for railways? Who will administer such a grant? Surely the directors of the railway. The commissioners will not be made ex officio directors; and if not, can you suppose that they would be able to apply the funds voted by this House with greater ability and success than those who have a much more lively interest in the success of the undertaking? So far, then, as the right hon. Baronet's scheme for a plantation is concerned, I think it would be impolitic; so far as the management of the presently existing funds is concerned, I think it would be nugatory. I do not think, that this commission would confer greater advantages on the public than the board which exists. I come, then, to the third proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, and it is an important one. It is that which would confer a Parliamentary title on portions of property in Ireland. But I would bog hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House, who may have been fascinated by the eloquence and by the large views expressed by so experienced a statesman, to pause before they give in their adherence to this principle, and to consider whether the measure which he suggests is a matured measure, or whether it is a crude and ill-advised one. Now, Sir, I have heard in my time many causes assigned for the misery and misgovernment of Ireland. I know nothing more interesting in the modern political history of this country, than the variety of the changes which have occurred on that subject. I remember that at the first period of my public life it was supposed that Ireland was miserable and misgoverned on account of a difference of religion. A short time after that it was believed to be a political cause. It was considered, for example, that Ireland had not a sufficient number of Members of Parliament. Well, Ireland had an additional number of Members of Parliament, but she was equally miserable—equally misgoverned. Then it was discovered that it was not a religious or a political, but a municipal cause. There were no Roman Catholic aldermen. At last we had Roman Catholic aldermen. I remember the late lord mayor of Dublin, in this House, with his gold chain, as I now may see the lord mayor of Dublin without his gold chain. But misgovernment remained. At last it was discovered that the cause of this misery and misgovernment was not religious, political, or municipal, but that it was material—connected with the tenure of land. Well, the pretext of the tenure of land went on for sonic time, but that, notwithstanding the appointment of a commission, did not entirely and satisfactorily explain the misery and misgovernment of Ireland, and the cause suddenly became a social one. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, in his exposition, has done that which might have been expected from a gentleman of his great talents, his great experience—his great experience especially with respect to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has discovered that the real cause of the misery and misgovernment of Ireland is not a political, municipal, moral, material, or social cause. He has found out that it is a legal cause—that all this part of Her Majesty's realm in Ireland has been in Chancery. [Laughter.] Well, I think that is a sufficient cause. If a Chancery suit is to have the same effect upon a nation as upon individuals, I accept the definition of the cause of Irish misery and misgovernment from the right hon. Gentleman; and I believe that the country having been in Chancery will greatly account for that misery and that misgovernment. But let us see what may be expected from the remedies proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. That right hon. Gentleman has acted with considerable decision. He has, in his own phrase, "cut the gordian knot"—under all circumstances rather a hazardous enterprise. The right hon. Gentleman says, I will take these properties and give them a Parliamentary title. Now, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, to-night, referred to the effect of a general registry on the Continent, to its effect in France and Belgium, and other countries. Its effect is very much to add to the value of land. I will not say to the extent of nine years' purchase, but to a great extent. Now what is the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tarn worth, He says, he will take the lands of Connaught, and settle them under a Parliamentary title—a proposal which, I maintain, is to the same effect as a general register. He says, we will settle them under a Parliamentary title, we will sell them so as to pay the State the sum which it may have advanced, or to pay other charges upon them, and then we will hand the proceeds over to the proprietors. That is to say, that under this scheme property in Connaught is to be sold under great advantages, the proprietor is to have an increased surplus in consequence of his title; but what will this scheme do for the proprietor in Ulster, or even in Munster? Does the right hon. Baronet mean to say that the provident landlord—not the insolvent, but the skilful proprietor—does he mean to say that such a proprietor is to be placed at a disadvantage in the market—does he mean to place this man at a disadvantage, and give the benefit to a man who may neither have done his duty to his family or his country? Is the proprietor in Ulster, who wishes to sell his property, to be told by the lawyer, "You have been a provident man, and your property is in good condition, your title is a fair title; but there is a dissolute fellow in Connaught, whose property has a Parliamentary title, and as against his the market for your property is destroyed? "Will the right hon. Gentleman keep the reprobate of Connaught at the expense of the landlord who may have been provident? Then I oppose the plantation system of the right hon. Gentleman, because I think it is impolitic; I oppose the institution of his board without plantation, because it would be nugatory; and I oppose his plan of Parliamentary titles, because I think it is unjust. But the right hon. Gentleman, in his interesting exposition of his views on Irish affairs, has dwelt upon this other important topic; he says, that as Ireland is at present situated, the solvent proprietor is made the victim of the insolvent proprietor. I quite agree with him. That is an argument which my friends have upon every legitimate occasion endeavoured to impress upon the House and the country; but what surprises me is, that the right hon. Gentleman should not have arrived at the same conclusion at which we have arrived, namely, that the only politic and legitimate remedy is a reduction of the area of taxation. The right hon. Gentleman has also made some allusion to the expressions which fell from the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, respecting the influence which the repeal of the corn laws has had on the present state of Ireland. Now, Sir, I am not at all anxious, in a general debate, to introduce that topic, which entered so largely into, perhaps, our once too bitter controversies. I fear it is a question which will come too quickly and too fiercely under discussion; but still I am bound, without meaning any offence to the right hon. Gentleman, to notice his observations on this subject when he himself originates them. The right hon. Gentleman asks what would have been the state of Ireland, if, with a potato famine, Indian meal was still subject to a duty of 10s. a quarter? Now, on this occasion—as on all other occasions—the right hon. Gentleman assumes that Indian corn could never have been introduced into Ireland except at a duty of 10s. But there I differ from the right hon. Gentleman. I think the remedy was much more easy than he appears to imagine. I do not wish to use any expression that can be offensive to the right hon. Gentleman, or to the hon. Member for Manchester, or to any other hon. Member; and neither do I wish to introduce any element of acerbity into this debate; but when I am forced by the allusions that have been made to the repeal of the corn laws to refer to the operation of that measure on the condition of Ireland, I cannot help saying that I feel persuaded, that when the future historian of our time—one perhaps as well acquainted with the circumstances of this period as that brilliant writer whose absence from this House I as deeply regret as his friends can do—I feel persuaded, that if such an historian shall have to tell us that almost at the same time a statesman of this country introduced the vast experiment of a poor-law into Ireland, and not only disturbed but destroyed the only assured markets which that country had; whatever may be his economical theories—however completely he may have bowed to those dogmas which I believe may be so generally true and so partially false—of this I am persuaded, that he will say that the statesman who at the same time introduced that vast experiment in the social condition of Ireland, and deprived that country of its markets—embarked not only in the most dangerous, but in the most ruinous and fatal experiment that ever Minister dared to venture on. And this I hesitate not to say, quite independently of the abstract truth of your theories, which I do not care now to combat, is the greatest political blunder ever committed. The right hon. Gentleman may tell me that he is not responsible for the poor-law. I do not speak of the individual, I speak of the spirit of the age and of our legislation. Whether or not he was responsible for the introduction of the poor-law, he should have remembered that that law was introduced before he passed the corn law. That formed a combination of circumstances which one could hardly believe human intellect would ever venture to encounter. What the consequences may be, I dare not contemplate; but they will be such, I fear, as may yet produce a state of society in Ireland to which the present may appear a remedial position, and which may shake this empire even to its foundations. The right hon. Baronet laboured with considerable effect to show how imperfectly are fulfilled the duties of the proprietors of the soil, and how slightly we use the advantages of that country, so favoured by Providence. The right hon. Baronet read us an extract from a letter addressed to him by a Lancashire man, and warned us not to laugh when he read it. His warning was quite unnecessary, for there was nothing in it to provoke laughter; and I, for one, at least, listened to the interesting details contained in it, expressed as they were in the language of unaffected simplicity. It produced a great effect on the House, though there was one line which the right hon. Baronet, who is candid, did not omit, but which he, being discreet, did not dwell upon. I allude to the line relative to the west of Ireland, where the writer says that the exports have been stopped by the state of the law, and the country consequently ruined. Sir, it is a curious coincidence; but I have also a letter, an extract from which I am going to read, and this is also a letter from a Lancashire man. I find it in a letter addressed to the editor of the Times on the 1st of December, 1848, by Mr. Francis Graham, a gentleman, I dare say, well known to several hon. Gentlemen. Mr. Graham wrote his letter after a great deal of inquiry; and I really think, considering the letter which was read by the right hon. Gentleman, that my bringing it forward on the present occasion is very appropriate. The letter says—and here I beg to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this point— A Lancashire gentleman, son to Mr. Eastwood, of Brindle Lodge, near Preston, who has got a lease for ever from me of a large improvable tract, and who in the two years he has resided here has expended between 4,000l. and 5,000l. on it, having employed, on the average, 50 labourers daily, and in summer sometimes as many as 120, most of them belonging to the properties of other proprietors, and there not being one single pauper on the large townland on which he resides, containing 2,658 acres, on the valuation of the union being revised the other day had his improvements Valued at an increase of 115l. a year, though none of them are as yet in the slightest degree reproductive. But now I will proceed to show from the letter how far the law, as it present exists, is fatal to improvement. I am glad to find that on this point we and the right hon. Baronet so nearly agree. I hope the noble Lord at the head of the Government will be so kind as to wake from his slumber while I road that portion of the letter:— The result is, Mr. Eastwood has dismissed all his labourers except twelve, and until a change in the law takes place has completely ceased all his improvements and employment, by which so many families were supported who are now thrown upon the union as recipients of outdoor relief. That is the effect of the law; and I will now read another short extract from the letter, as I consider these statements better than all the speeches that can be made:— Another gentleman, Mr. Prior, who has a similar lease from me, and obtained from Government 800l. as a loan, under the Act you refer to in your article of the 17th ult. the first instalment of which, 160l., he has already laid out on his farm, having previously expended a large amount of private capital on it, had his improvements, effected with this Government money, valued, and his rates increased in an equal manner; the consequence of "which is, that he wrote last week to the Government, saying he must decline taking the remainder of the 800l., as his doing so would make him liable to pay a greater sum than he even now does, to support the paupers of other estates. Here we have a gentleman declining to receive further advances from the Government, because he finds, as he lays out his money and improves his estates, the increase in his produce is met by a similar increase in his rates, and he would make himself liable to pay a greater sum than now to support the paupers on other estates. And yet you are all of you advocates of these remedial measures—measures which are to stimulate private industry, under the sanction of the State—large and comprehensive measures—but which, from laws previously passed, are absolutely nugatory, and cannot be used by any individuals except to their own cost and ruin. The writer concluded by saying— Owing to the principles of the present poor-law, the boon granted by the Legislature to benefit the country, by facilitating improvement and employment, is completely nullified; and until the law with respect to improvements on land, being subject to increased rate for a certain extended period, is altered, and until each property or town-land is directly liable to support the destitution existing on it, by employment or otherwise, the hands of every man, whether improving landlord or industrious farmer, are completely tied, and the position of this country must go from bad to worse, the laying out of capital on land being completely put a stop to. I mention these facts to show that the attempt has been literally made. This gentleman speaks in expostulation against the indignant invective of the Times newspaper, written with all its power over public opinion, inveighing against the proprietors of Ireland; and he writes this letter, giving a simple detail of indubitable facts to vindicate himself and his order. I mention these facts to show you that the attempt has been literally made to carry out your suggestions, but that, owing to the principle of the present poor-law, the boon granted by the Legislature to benefit the country, by facilitating improvement and employment, has been completely nullified; and until that law is altered—until each townland is obliged to support the destitution in it by employment or otherwise, the hands of every man, whether improving landlord or industrious farmer, are completely tied, and the position of the country must go on from bad to worse, and all investment of capital in land must be completely put an end to. One stops to ask oneself how the House of Commons can adjourn for the Easter holidays with such a law in existence? Not a human being has yet risen to meet these objections to the law, clearly stated and detailed by Mr. Eastwood. As far as I could follow the right hon. Baronet the other night, he did not give his adhesion to the present poor-law. He said we must go back to the principle of the law of 1838. I understood the right hon. Baronet to say that the workhouse test must be maintained, and yet I heard the right hon. Gentleman talk of employing paupers on the public roads. Now, I cannot reconcile the employment of paupers on the public roads with the stringent maintenance of the workhouse test. That is a point I should like to see illustrated. I understood the right hon. Baronet to say that he was opposed to a labour rate as the most pernicious possible policy. The right hon. Baronet will excuse me for dwelling on this point, which I do from memory, because it is very important to have his opinions distinctly. If the labour rate ought to be denounced, as I think it should be, the last thing to have recourse to should be the employment of paupers on the public roads. The want of roads in the south and west is not the great difficulty, for I believe those parts are over-roaded already. I have ventured to give the reasons why I oppose the measure of the Government; I cannot help feeling that they are reasons founded upon the circumstances of the case. I have not yet heard a Minister of Her Majesty rise to maintain for a moment that their proposition is an adequate proposition. I have ventured to offer some criticism on the elaborate proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and I hope it will not be without its effect, when he favours us with his third speech on this important subject; for you may rely on it we shall have many speeches yet. The right hon. Baronet has not only had great experience of public life, but particular experience of Ireland; and I must say he appears to me to have extracted the quintessence of all the projects which, when he was Principal Secretary for Ireland, he must have found in the pigeon-holes of his office. Whatever view I may take of his suggestions, they appear to me rather calculated to captivate the public attention, than to satisfy the public necessity. I value them because I value any expression of opinion in this direction on the part of one who influences public opinion, and occupies so great a position in this House. It is to me a significant indication of the way to which public opinion tends, and the quarter to which it is directed. Yes, Sir, I look on the result of all these speeches and discussions to prove this, that the time has gone by when any public man of reputation will rise and say that Ireland is to be governed on the principles of political economy. It is something to have arrived at that, when I remember what has taken place in this House—when I remember what propositions have been made, what speeches have been uttered opposed to this proposition—and when I also remember that Session after Session, opportunity after opportunity, occasion after occasion has been taken to do that in detail, which in the wholesale was opposed. Whenever the state of Ireland is most urgent now. whenever there is a question whether a Ministry can carry a measure, I have some satisfaction in the morning in taking up the newspaper and finding that there has been a meeting of Irish Members in Downing-street, on the subject of Irish railways—more satisfaction still, when I come down to the House and am told, that another railway is going to he supported. Why, Sir, the catalogue which my lamented Friend proposed for the adoption of the Government is now almost complete. Another famine, and all his propositions will be carried into effect. Well, Sir, now I may be asked, as I have ventured to oppose the proposition of the Government, and to criticise, though with great respect, I hope, the exposition of the right hon. Baronet, "Are you not also going to be a painter? Favour us with your views on what is necessary for Ireland." Why, we have favoured you with them at divers times, when you were the disciples of political economy—when you maintained, like the right hon. Baronet, that the commercial principle was amply sufficient to cope with the circumstances of Ireland. We came forward and told you that the interference of the State was necessary. Sir, I lay down, without reserve, that I am opposed to any position which asserts that between Ireland and England there is any difference. I agree with the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, that the need of Ireland is an imperial need. But with regard to the case before us, I entirely agree—as a matter of policy, of wisdom, not of law and right—with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, that it is wise in this respect, that Ireland should, at this moment, show to England that she is ready to make every exertion which on her part can reasonably be expected. And the exertions which she is ready to make, and which her friends would counsel her to make, are far more valuable than this rate in aid, which, if carried, I have shown you must be inadequate, and which, if not ultimately inadequate, may prove most fatal and injurious. It is suggested that Ireland is ready to contribute to the necessities of that part of the kingdom at the present moment by submitting to an income tax. I shall support the hon. Member for Kerry if he brings forward a proposition to that extent. I will support it in the first place, because it would terminate that injustice to the land of Ireland, to which I have ever been the greatest opponent. I think as aid is required from the Imperial Treasury, we should be prepared to support this proposition, that all income derived from Irish property should contribute to the Imperial Exchequer, no matter in what country it might be received—all received in England, of course, being included in the contribution for this great object. That would produce a great fund, a fund far beyond the rate in aid. It would bring in that 6,000,000l. of national income which has not yet fairly contributed towards the public burdens; and the justifiable pride of Ireland would be gratified, that as far as these were concerned, the aid she would receive from the Imperial Exchequer would be furnished from her own resources. That is my idea of an income tax for the assistance of Ireland, and it is one which I believe would be satisfactory to the people of this country. But the first thing must be to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, and revert to the workhouse test—the principle of the law of 1838; and you must combine with that, as suggested by the letter of Mr. Graham, the diminution of the area of taxation. It is only by such a course that you can give breathing time to Ireland. When you have an income tax established on this principle—when you have stopped the crying evil of the present poor-law, then it will be the time for the State to come forward, according to the great principle laid down by my lamented friend (Lord G. Bentinck), to stimulate private enterprise under the shadow of imperial security. Then I shall not despair of Ireland, notwithstanding all the consequences of that change of law to which I cannot venture now to advert. It is our object at this moment, without any consideration of these circumstances, to meet a difficulty of so pressing a nature, that not a day ought to elapse without our devising some means of allaying it. The time has come when England and Ireland must both learn to forget. It is useless to revert to the past—to the crimes of one side, to the blunders of the other, to the corruption of all. I hail the expression, that in these circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, we may at least find that consolation which results from the belief that a new era is at hand. But men must combine without any recollection of past feuds. All our acerbities must vanish with that root whoso loss we must even cease to deplore. Sir, there has been a strife between the two countries; but all these discussions respecting the material condition of Ireland only the more convince me that it is a strife which has arisen rather from misconception of their mutual interests, than inveterate hostility. They must he consigned to oblivion. We must terminate the traditional misconceptions which have hitherto prevented England and Ireland from co-operating together; then, Ireland will he like the patriarch, after his struggle with the mystic wrestler. Until the setting of the sun he thought he was striving against an oppressor, but at last he found that, instead of an oppressor, he was struggling against a guardian angel.


Sir, I should have been anxious to confine myself as closely as possible to the Bill which forms the subject of our deliberations; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, who has just sat down, to whom I have listened most attentively during the whole of his speech, has himself enlarged the field of discussion, and made it necessary for me to enter into questions extending far beyond the mere vote of the evening. Before I enter on those larger questions, I think it is necessary, for a short time, to detain the House with some vindication of the project which is now before us. It is not, as the hon. Gentleman endeavoured to represent it, the "comprehensive scheme" of Government for the relief of the evils of Ireland, and designed to form a permanent foundation for the prosperity of that country. It is a temporary measure, to cure an acute evil under which Ireland is at present suffering, but which does not pretend to give any ultimate or comprehensive remedy. The hon. Gentleman, following others in this respect, avowed his objections to the measure, and stated that the proposition of a rate in aid was unjust. Now, I cannot think that any one could have said it was unjust, if we had proposed, in any year, that the taxation of Ireland should be assimilated to that of England. When Ireland was not allowed to have resort to our colonies; when she was not permitted to trade with the West Indies or North America; when even her trade with this country was fettered like a foreign trade; then, indeed, it might be right, and it was right, that the superior amount of taxation should be borne by England, as she had exclusive privileges, and claimed the exclusive possession of certain rights for herself. But since every restriction of that kind has been done away, it appears to me that, so far as justice is concerned, there would be no injustice if we proposed that the land tax, that the assessed taxes, that the duties of excise to which Ireland is not now subject, that the income tax, should be all extended, in principle and in practice, to Ireland. But if that be so, it then comes to be only a question of expediency whether or no any of these taxes shall be extended to Ireland; and it appeared to us that we were giving her the lighter burden rather than the heavier, when we proposed that a rate of no more than sixpence in the pound upon the rated property of Ireland should be imposed upon that country. But if we had proposed such a taxation as that to which I have referred, we might have proposed that the proceeds should be applied to the general imperial purposes of the united kingdom. What we have proposed is, that the tax we are now discussing shall be appropriated for two years to the relief of the suffering poor exclusively in Ireland itself. And if it would be just to impose such a tax for imperial purposes, that justice is certainly not less when we propose that its proceeds should be entirely applied to Irish and not to English or Scotch purposes. Now, Sir, if there is any truth in this remark, so far as the justice of the proposition is concerned, I conceive that our proposal can be defended. But the hon. Gentleman has said, that this is a tax which must be inadequate. Neither on that head do I agree with him: I think there are just grounds for supposing the contrary. Take the sum which he has mentioned as likely to be raised, 300,000l. There has been 50,000l. already voted by this House; so that there will be 350,000l in the course of the year to be applied to the relief of the distress in Ireland. In the course of last year about 390,000l. was applied to the whole of Ireland; but a part of that sum was applied according to the charitable views of the British Association, for the maintenance of schools and purposes of that kind, which, although perfectly right and legitimate—there being a large sum as the surplus of the voluntary benevolence of the people of this country—need not be taken into account when the application of relief comes from the imperial treasury. I submit, therefore, that the sum of 350,000l. will be no inadequate sum compared with that which was given last year. Then the hon. Gentleman says, that this is an unfair imposition of a tax, because it falls entirely upon landed property—upon the property of those who are peculiarly distressed; and that if it is a burden upon one class and one interest, then it should be imposed upon others. With regard to that subject, I have formerly stated that it appeared to us that, as there were rates for the relief of the poor, and this sum was intended for the relief of the poor, it would be easier and lighter for Ireland to collect the sum by rate, so as to form part of the existing rate. But if those who represent Ireland shall think that a tax upon property and income would be a fairer burden, and if, while they are unwilling to take our proposition, they should be willing and ready to accept the proposition of an income and property tax, and that the relief should then be given from the imperial revenue, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there will be no such insuperable difference between us as should prevent the adoption of that form of impost which should seem to be most agreeable to the wishes of the representatives of Ireland. But I do think the people of this country may ask—as was stated in his very able speech by the hon. Member for Manchester—that, having now, for some years, contributed largely to the relief of Irish distress, Ireland herself should come forward with her fair contribution—not to bear the burden solely and entirely, but to take her part in the relief of the distress which belongs to the inhabitants of her own soil. And, lot me observe, it is nothing to the question to urge, as some Gentlemen have done in former discussions, and in this discussion, that the money which was contributed from the Imperial Exchequer, and for which the people of the united kingdom are now paying interest, was ill-distributed and lavishly bestowed. That, if you choose, may be a charge against the Government; it might even become a charge against the House of Commons; but, so far as the people of Great Britain are concerned, their readiness to contribute is the same, their payment is the same, supposing the distribution that was made was not a wise one, as if it had been the wisest and the relief the best that could be afforded. Therefore the particular application under the Relief Act and the Public Works Act, really has nothing to do with the question of the large exertions made by Great Britain for this purpose. I am not willing to enter further into this question of the rate in aid, although it is the immediate subject of the debate, because questions so much larger and so much more important than a payment of sixpence in the pound for two years together have been raised in the course of this discussion; and we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, from my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, and from the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, speeches of surpassing interest upon great questions affecting the destinies of Ireland. Sir, in the first place, with regard to the conduct of the Government, the hon. Member for Manchester has reproached us, gently indeed, but very decidedly, for not having come forward, in the course of the present Session, with some comprehensive measures for the purpose of the relief of Ireland. Now, Sir, so far as I am to bear any blame personally, I am willing to take that blame to myself, from having, some years ago, used phrases of that import—using them, I must now confess, with a view rather to political and religious grievances, than to those questions which have since occupied the attention of the Legislature. But, Sir, so far as the conduct of the Government, in the present and past Session of Parliament is concerned, I do not believe that the blame which the hon. Member for Manchester throws upon us is justly incurred. Indeed, I somewhat wonder that a Gentleman with his opinions—opinions which I think just—with regard to the provinces of legislation and of the Government, should have seemed to come forward and ask the Government of this country for some measure—for some specific, by which the ills of generations were to be cured, and prosperity was to be seen, not returning or arising by slow degrees, but appearing at once, as the result of Parliamentary wisdom and administrative sagacity. For my part, Sir, alluding to a phrase on a somewhat different subject, to which the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down alluded—I might illustrate my opinion on many of those subjects by a reference to the origin of that phrase—laissez faire, of which I think so much abuse has been made, both by the advocates and the opponents of that system. A very great and very able Minister of France laid down certain rules, by which he directed that all looms should be made of a certain size, that they should be made according to a certain pattern, and that the web should never exceed certain dimensions. He then went on, having established his manufactory by this arbitrary principle, to forbid the manufactures of other countries from coming in to compete with those he had established; and the first consequence was, as might be expected, that the vineyards of France suffered, and those who had cultivated those vineyards complained loudly that they could now no longer export the wines of France, as there was no longer any demand for them, in consequence of the exclusion of the manufactures of foreign countries. It was then that Colbert, having asked a merchant what he should do, that merchant, with great justice and great sagacity, said—" Laissez faire, et laissez passer"—"Do not interfere with manufacturers, as to the size and mode of their manufactures; do not interfere with the entrance of foreign imports, but let them compete with your own manufactures. That, Sir, is the origin of the saying; and that, I think, is a specimen with regard to many of these subjects, not of the value of that maxim, but of the superior wisdom of many men of common sense to the devices and schemes even of a Minister like Colbert, gifted with great talent and indefatigable industry, and having, in his power the whole commercial policy of France. On a former occasion, in speaking of Ireland, I alluded to the condition of England and Scotland at two different periods of their history; and I said I thought that Ireland was now entering upon a change of a similar kind. With respect to England, I quoted from a work of Sir Thomas More, in which he described what would now he called evictions; he described families turned out of their cottages, their houses pulled down, and the poor people driven into the wide world to seek a refuge where they could from the misery caused by these extensive evictions. What was done with respect to that matter? What was done with regard to the general policy of England, in the reign of a wise Princess, who succeeded to the Throne soon after the time when Sir Thomas More described these scenes? Did Elizabeth and her counsellors propose some scheme by which they conceived the prosperity of Ireland and the prosperity of England would be secured for ever, by their directions, and in consequence of their legislative views? One of their great measures of administration was, that, with the severity, almost with the barbarism, of the age, they punished all malefactors, and reduced the country into a state of peace and order. Having done this, they likewise passed measures by which the infirm and impotent poor should be relieved, and the ablebodied and sturdy poor be set to work. And yet those measures came to nothing more than what the hon. Member for Manchester has alluded to as "the more vulgar arts of Government," on which he trusted that this Government and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland would not rely—namely, force and alms. And yet, with a policy founded upon measures of that kind, England rose to a high station among the Powers of Europe; she sent forth men of extraordinary capacity to traverse the ocean, and to visit the most distant shores; she produced men of the genius of Shakspeare, of Bacon, and of Milton; and she rose, in no very long time, to be a country which, by its order, and, at the same time, by its freedom, was superior to the other countries of Europe. Yet it was not in consequence of any special scheme that relief was so given, but in order that there should not be the disturbance to property, that there should not be those assaults against the person, which formerly prevailed; and that men might in security pursue their own avocations, and obtain the fruit of their own labour and industry. But whatever scheme may be the proper one—whatever laws may be passed from time to time—there is nothing in Government so essential, there is nothing so useful, as to enable men to feel that they are living in security—that the fruits of their industry will be secured to them—and that the road is open to every distinction in the State. Such was the case in England from that time. Let me now turn for a few moments to the case of Scotland. Religious persecution had disturbed, almost destroyed, that country in the reign of Charles II. After the Revolution, laws were passed which, without extending relief to the poor—the country being thinly peopled—established security and order, reduced to obedience those who had robbed and destroyed life throughout that country, and afforded a better education and means of improvement to the people at large. By such simple measures, in the course of some twenty or thirty years, Scotland presented a totally different aspect—trade and industry flourished—agriculture, which was almost entirely neglected, was seen in every valley to produce all the fruits of industry, and that country began that progress which she has ever since maintained—producing wealth with less means at her disposal for doing so than Ireland. This was a state of things—dissimilar if you will—but not totally dissimilar from that of Ireland now. These were changes effected by great men —by Bacon and Burghley, by Somers and Shrewsbury, and the other wise statesmen who lived in those times. They did not rely on any scheme which was at once to give prosperity to a country. They adopted the true and natural means of legislation—not means by which men should be forced and directed how they could make themselves wealthy and prosperous, but means by which, security being given to them, their energies were allowed to take their own course. I now come to what the state of Ireland was a few years ago. And let me observe, in the first place, that in all the speeches I have heard, and especially in the three speeches to which I have alluded, I think it has been too much assumed that it would be in the power of any Government or any Parliament, however wise and well disposed, to produce changes which, after all, must mainly depend on the character and conduct of the people themselves. Why, what has been the system in Ireland heretofore? A Gentleman, in the course of this debate, has given an instance of a person who some sixty or seventy years ago gave a lease of some property for three lives. The person who had the lease found himself in distress, and he sublet a portion or the whole of the land which had been leased to him. The farmers to whom this person lot underlet again, till the system of conacre was introduced, under which from 10l to 12l. an acre was paid for the land. A whole community was thus formed far more numerous than the land could support on cereal production, and they lived in a wretched state, always on the verge of famine; and yet, so long as the potato flourished, you heard but little complaint, except in statistical returns, and the people were content with that sort of life which was inferior to what a more civilised people would be contented with. Let me give another instance, which has been already referred to by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Amendment. It relates to the state of Ballina about the year 1834–5. One witness states that, at that period, more than 100 labourers might be seen standing in the streets seeking employment—that the labourers, when employed by the farmers to dig potatoes, left some in the ground designedly, and went afterwards by night to dig what they had so left behind. Another witness says that the labourers had but little employment, and that they lived on one meal a day. One of them stated that he had himself worked from six o'clock in the morning to six o'clock in the evening without a meal at all. Another witness says it is a constant thing for labourers to work on one meal a day for eight or ten days consecutively. When they eat their only meal of potatoes in the afternoon of one day, they waited till their wives brought them food at the same hour the following day. Another witness says that they sometimes merely went into the neighbouring cabbage garden, in the intervals of works, and cut cabbage-stalks, when the work is resumed again. This, Sir, was in the prosperous times of Ireland. This is what occurred in Ballina, and in other places of a similar kind, when Ireland was supposed to he prosperous, and no complaint was made. Now, let me ask, if there had been no interference—if people in this wretched state had been loft altogether without any aid or interference on the part of the State, what would have been the case in villages of this kind, and of the people living in this state? I have heard it said that the aid we have given first by the assistance of the State—and after by the poor-law, has demoralised them. Demoralised them, indeed! Admirable phrase! Admirable phrase on the part of those who wished to pass on the other side of the way, and take no notice. But if the State had not interfered, these people would not indeed have been demoralised, they would have been dead. How did we relieve them? In the first instance our plan may have been lavish and ill contrived, but it was relief from the State. If we attempted to go on with that scheme, Parliament would in the first instance have refused its sanction, and it would have been proposed that Ireland should support her own poor and her own destitution; but, in the next place, if Parliament sanctioned the continuance of such relief, we could not say that the resources so supplied by the State would not have been lavishly applied, and that great abuses would not have taken place in the administration of relief. What then did we do? We proposed that relief should be given by an extension of the poor-law. Now, with regard to the poor-law, it must be considered that it is a law—not only a law of humanity for the sake of relief, but also a law of police for the sake of security. Those who have most considered the principle of a poor-law, and who have had to administer it of late years, are of opinion that the security of England has been very much founded on the provision that no person should have a right to wander and beg, but that if he chose to apply for relief, he should, on giving work, receive relief. If that is the case in England, we have a right to expect that it will in time work the same effect in Ireland. Every person who knows anything of Ireland complains of the number of beggars and marauders who issue from the purlieus of the towns to steal and destroy property. A poor-law sufficiently stringent for the purpose must in a great degree remedy the evil. But we are told that the extended poor-law of 1847 should not have been enacted, and that at all events we ought to go back to the principle of the law of 1838. It has been my fortune to have introduced both these laws; and, had it not been for the calamity of the loss of the potato crop, I confess I should not be disposed to introduce the extended poor-law of 1847. I believe that relief in the workhouse, but for that calamity, would have been sufficient. But you can by no sudden step replace yourselves in the position in which you stood then. It is in the evidence taken before the Committee now sitting on this subject, that 360,000 persons, not belonging to the ablebodied, but to the infirm poor, were receiving relief, in January last, under the provisions of the present poor-law. It would be impossible to relieve them in addition to near 200,000 persons who are now relieved in the workhouse. I believe no person will say, whatever opinion may exist with regard to the ablebodied, that relief should be withdrawn from these 360,000 infirm poor of Ireland. If this has been their number in January, in the month of July they would be far more numerous. It appears to me impossible either to afford work house accommodation for this vast number of persons, or so long as the country remains in its present prostrate state, to refuse relief to those persons. I do think, supposing the country to be able to afford more work and employment for the people in general, that it might be possible in a great many of the unions to restrict relief to the workhouses, but still in many parts of the country I believe it would be found impossible. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth said that he considered the workhouse the best test. I rather understood him to say that he would go back to that test, but I did not understand him to mean that he would go back to it suddenly. But he said that he would employ the people in making roads or similar works of that description. That seems to me to be at variance with what he said, and said wisely—namely, that the workhouse was the true test of destitution. The whole theory on which the present poor-law is founded is, that no person shall have a right to relief but those who are utterly destitute and cannot obtain food or the means of livelihood, in any other way. If you once tell men that there is a public body who will give them work, they will rather prefer working under that public body than under a private individual. But no public body, no guardians of the poor, no relieving officers, no inspectors, will use half the vigilance, half the care, that a private individual will who employs labourers on his own property working for wages, and who has, therefore, a direct interest in seeing that the work for which he pays these wages is properly executed. With regard, therefore, to that plan for an alteration of the poor-law, I do not see how any scheme of the sort can be adopted. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire spoke of improvements which bad been made in the cultivation of land, in consequence of which a higher rate had been imposed upon the persons who so improved their property than upon those who made no improvements. Now that is, I admit, a fit subject for evidence, and in the Committee sitting upstairs I stated some weeks ago that, in my opinion, if any improvements were made for a certain number of years, no additional rate should be charged on account of them. I also think that there ought to be a maximum amount of rate, and it will be my duty to submit to the House a proposition to that effect. I am likewise ready to admit that the electoral divisions and the unions have in the south and west been too large; that the area has been too extensive, the population too great; and that they would be managed with far more economy, and that more harmony would be secured, if a reduction were made in their extent. These are changes which would, I think, be well introduced into the poor-laws. I come next to a subject to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth has referred, namely, emigration. Now, I confess, that although I think it is very possible for the poor-law guardians, and even for the State, to assist emigration from some of the overcrowded districts, where there is no hope of being able soon to find sufficient employment for the population; and, although I have always contemplated the granting of some assistance of that kind in the present Session, yet I cannot imagine that the right hon. Gentleman will see no force, or but little force, in the objection that by any large plan of emigration you would discourage the attempts of individual proprietors, and repress the tendency to voluntary emigration. Now, let us consider what, for the most part, constitutes the voluntary emigration which now takes place. Members for Ireland are fond of representing the emigrants as composed entirely of fanners and others who are carrying their capital from Ireland, and thus depriving that country of the benefit of capital. But a great portion of this emigration is conducted with capital which comes from the united States and Canada, being sent to persons in Ireland by their relatives and friends, to enable them to transfer themselves and their families across the Atlantic. Some Gentlemen have shown me returns from their own mercantile houses, showing the great number of small sums, from 1l, and upwards, which have been sent over for that purpose; and I have seen accounts proving that the sums sent to the various mercantile houses in this country—omitting one of the principal houses, namely, that of Baring Brothers—amounted to no less than 460,000l. within one year. Here, then, is an enormous sum: the gross amount must be at least half a million. Were we to come down to the House and propose that such a sum should be granted for the purpose of encouraging emigration, it would, of course, be said that the vote was a very large and munificent one; yet that amount is obtained in sums of 1l. and upwards from persons in America, by whom it is sent here to encourage voluntary emigration. Knowing the disposition which there is in Ireland to rely upon the State—knowing what dangerous ground you tread upon whenever you give assistance from or on behalf of the State—I feel no doubt whatever, were we now to say we have a million or half a million to apply to emigration, a great proportion of the sum which would otherwise be sent in 1849 would be stopped by such an announcement, and that we should thus be merely displacing the sums voluntarily given through making an advance on the part of the State. If this be so, you would not in fact be increasing the amount of general emigration. Now, in thus speaking, I beg to guard myself against being supposed to deny that there are particular districts in which some aid, as regards emigration, might be advantageously afforded. The very Bill which we are now considering contains amongst its clauses a provision empowering the Treasury to apply money for the purposes of emigration. Sir, I now approach another subject—and I do so with great doubt and diffidence—upon which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tam-worth has twice expressed his opinions in this House. I cannot but recollect the long experience which he has had with regard to Ireland. I remember hearing a speech which he made not long after I entered Parliament—I think in the year 1816—in which he described the state of Ireland, the factions and the party fights. The speech was a most able and instructive one; and I believe that from that time to the present he has never ceased to give an anxious attention to the affairs of Ireland, and to apply his great abilities to the devising of remedies calculated to ameliorate the condition of the people of that country. I would therefore speak with the utmost respect of any plan brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman; and when I have any doubts with respect to his plans, I am ready to admit that those doubts may arise from some misapprehension of the details. Having said this, Sir, I proceed to consider whether there would be any advantage in having a commission specially for the purpose of disposing of questions relating to land in the west of Ireland. It appears to me that such a commission must be one of two kinds: it must either have compulsory powers, or it must be merely of a voluntary nature. Of compulsory powers the right hon. Gentleman gave us an instance in the plan adopted with respect to the plantation of Ulster in the reign of James I. But there is this obvious difference—and the objection is so obvious that I think the right hon. Gentleman must have some answer to it—between that case and the present—in that case the land was at your disposal, and the people were not upon it; whereas, in the present case, the land is not at your disposal, and the people are upon it. Well then, Sir, it appears to me that it would be impossible for you to use the powers which were given in the times of James I. to the commissioners whom he appointed—the lands having been then forfeited to the Crown, and the Crown having a full right to dispose of them. You could not possibly say that any one individual has so misused his powers as a proprietor that his land should for that reason be forfeited to the State. To give any commission such a power in the present day, would, I imagine, be quite impossible. Though the plan which I proposed three years ago, is one which it might be advisable to adopt, yet you had there the right foundation. I proposed that the lands to be taken should be of a certain value, none of them of less value than 2s. 6d. an acre; and that they should be sold or let for long leases to persons who would bring capital to cultivate them. There was land of which you had some definition, and upon which there were no people to be maintained. It appears to me that by the plan suggested you would get involved in the greatest difficulties. Supposing the State to purchase these lands, with all the mortgages upon them, you have in the first place to consider whether the lands be not mortgaged for more than their value. You might have to pay oft' mortgages which the mortgagees themselves had no hope whatever of obtaining. With regard to the people, you would either find that you had to pay very extensive poor-rates, or to provide the means of emigration. Now, considering the extent of Connaught, and the number of its population, are you content to be put, by means of a commission, in possession of such a vast extent of country, and to make the State responsible for the welfare of so many hundreds of thousands of people? I own that the project appears to me to be one which the State cannot with prudence, or indeed with safety, entertain. But, Sir, I understand from another part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that his intention was to facilitate the contracts for the purchase of land between the sellers and the purchasers. Now, if that be the object, it appears to me that the appointment of the commission would issue in very great disappointment. It is impossible that such a plan as this could be stated in Ireland without raising very great hopes, without creating an expectation of some very great results. If such a commission were to go to individuals and ask them to sell, and were to conduct the contract for sale to some person willing to purchase, it is obvious that such interference would only lead in many instances to a failure of the negotiation. I am afraid that on the whole very great disappointment would ensue. Such appear to me to be the difficulties which surround that part of the project. But the right hon. Gentleman touched upon another subject nearly connected with that to which I have just referred—a subject upon which the hon. Member for Manchester has also spoken this evening, and with respect to which I think Parliament may be able to effect very considerable improvements—I refer to those laws which encumber, and in many cases prevent, the transmission of property. This is a question in relation to which justice must be dealt out to all parties concerned—it is impossible to enter upon it with any determination other than to allow that every person who has just rights should have his rights respected. For instance, you might find that a person (the case is not a very difficult or complicated one) had left his land to his eldest son, and failing issue from that son, to his second son. The elder son may have lived for many years; the second may have died, and his sons may have gone, one to India, and another to North America, while a third may have entered the Navy, and be in another part of the globe. The possessor of the estate may be an old man, who, for the sake of an annuity, is quite willing to give up his title; but you could not take that title and cause it to be transmitted to any one else, until the claims of those who would in a few years succeed had been considered and adjusted. However the Court of Chancery may be said to be a court which is at once very expensive and very dilatory, such an object could not be effected without a great deal of trouble and delay. The right hon. Gentleman proposed, indeed, to give a power of appeal; but I doubt whether, under such an arrangement, there could be much more expedition or much less cost than in the case of proceedings in the Court of Chancery. With regard, however, to the Court of Chancery itself, I certainly do believe that many of its rules with respect to the sale of property, and the claims and rights of remainder-men, are too anxiously framed with a view of taking care that the remote heirs shall not be injured; and I think substantial justice might be done by means of a less costly and dilatory process. I heard with great pleasure what the right hon. Gentleman said on that head, and I do hope we shall be able to amend the Act which was passed last Session. But with regard to the evil in question, my belief is that it is not the evil which is peculiarly pressing at present. When I am told that the Act of last Session has failed, and has not been used, I must say that it is not for want of land ready for sale that the Act has not been used. On the contrary, I believe that it is because there are so many lands for sale with which the proprietors would be glad to part, and which would form a better purchase than these encumbered estates, that there has been so little demand for the estates which come under the operation of the Act. I think in the first place, with reference to the poor-law and to the laws connected with it, that our object is to make these estates a good purchase for persons with capital. I trust that the present state of things is passing away. When the condition of Ireland is improved, and when we have amended the poor-law there, I trust we shall see the transfer of encumbered estates, as well as other estates which need it, proceeding, so that new capital and new energy may be applied to the cultivation of the soil, always taking care that the process is conducted with due regard to the rights of property; for let it be borne in mind, that if in any way we violate the rights of property, so far from inducing purchasers to come forward, we shall discourage them, since they will naturally consider that the injustice which made way for them, will, in their turn, operate against themselves. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire alluded to the proposal which Government is about to make for assistance to one of the railways in Ireland, and congratulated himself that the plan which he speaks of as having been brought forward by Lord G. Bentinck, and which he supported, but which was opposed by the Government, is now being carried out piecemeal by the Government. I beg the hon. Gentleman to recollect, that the original plan for assisting railways in Ireland was a plan drawn up by a Committee formed under the direction of the Melbourne Administration, and was introduced to this House by Lord Morpeth when Secretary for Ireland. We do certainly propose that there should be made advances for railways in Ireland, for arterial drainage there, and for purposes of land improvement there, similar in their character to the loans which have already been made—advances not exceeding in the whole one million sterling for the three purposes I have indicated. We have always been of opinion that it was desirable to give the aid of the national credit to public works calculated for the improvement of Ireland. Such aid is quite conformable with the principle which has been enunciated by former Parliaments. There are other amendments in relation to the poor-law and in relation to Ireland generally, on which I will not touch at this late hour of the night. I feel very sensible that nothing I have said—that no plan I have introduced—that no general plan I may propose to introduce in the present Session—will satisfy those who ask for some large and comprehensive scheme by which the evils of Ireland are to be remedied all at once. I submit to the House that much of the evil is totally beyond the reach and scope of Government. With respect to that general question which lies at the root of much of the distress of Ireland, the excessive cultivation of the potato on small patches, and the excessive reliance on that produce—who, when landlord, tenant, and labourer are all combined to devote the land in small patches to this culture—who. Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Secretary of State, or Government at large—can prevent this application of the land? I have repeatedly expressed an opinion in this House that the reliance upon the potato—a crop so precarious—a crop which can only last for use for a single year—a crop which constitutes the lowest class of food, is a most prejudicial and unfortunate reliance; and I have repeatedly expressed the earnest hope that the attention of the people of Ireland might be directed to some other food; but even at the present time, the planting of the potato has been going on in that country to an immense extent, so that a large portion of the lower classes in Ireland are wholly dependent, for weal or for woe, on the produce of that crop. I ask, can any Government—can Parliament—can any law on the Statute-book—can any direction of a Lord Lieutenant—prevent this? If such be so, I ask you to agree to a measure which gives some breathing time, some respite, some hope to those who otherwise may never see an August sun. If you do not wholly approve of the measure in its present shape, give it at least a second reading, so as to affirm the principle that Ireland must advance some portion of the sums which are required for the relief of her distress. Above all, I ask you to rely upon right and sound principles of Government and legislation. I ask you not to believe that any one scheme, or any one measure, however extensive, can relieve these multiplied woes, but to look rather to the application from time to time of remedies adapted to the occasion, so as to show that you really feel for Ireland, that you will act as well as you can for the benefit of Ireland—that you consider these two kingdoms as one united kingdom—and that you cannot regard any misfortune that may happen to Ireland as otherwise than deeply calamitous to England.


moved the adjournment of the debate.


said, he could only consent to the hon. and learned Gentleman's proposition on the understanding that the debate was to proceed on the morrow evening uninterrupted by any of the Motions standing on the Paper.

Debate further adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.