§ On the Motion of the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, the House resolved itself into Committee on an advance for Railways and Distressed Unions in Lreland.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER
said, that the object of the Motion which he was about to put into the hands of the Chairman was to enable the Government to make advances for the construction of a railway between the towns of Athlone and Galway. The Government had received applications from several parts of Ireland for advances of public money for the purpose of constructing or finishing lines of railway in Ireland. They had been asked to make advances in some instances because the lines were nearly finished, and in other cases because they had not been commenced; and in each case the parties no doubt thought they had adduced most excellent reasons. He admitted that it would be most advantageous for Ireland if some of these railways were completed; but, for the reasons which he had formerly explained, he did not think it was the duty of the Government to make advances, generally, for the construction or completion of lines of railway. In stating this, however, he felt bound to say, after the fullest consideration, that he thought a special case had been made out for an advance for the construction of a trunk line to the west of Ireland, on the same ground as that on which they formerly advanced a sum for the completion of a line to the south and south-west of Ireland. They had also taken into consideration the extreme distress which existed in the west of Ireland, and, with a view to the employment of the inhabitants of those parts, they felt that nothing could be better than to promote the opening of a direct line of railway between Dublin and Galway. The parts of the country which would be affected were known in that House as some of the most destitute unions, where the sufferings of the people were extremely great. A company had been formed in Ireland, and had obtained Acts to construct a line of railway from Dublin to Galway. A portion of this line was actually open, namely, from Dublin to Mullingar, a distance of nearly fifty miles; and not only was this existing line between Dublin and Mullingar reported of in the most favourable manner, but the company deserved every credit for the mode in 47 which they had proceeded. There was a second portion of the line, namely, from Mullingar to Athlone, a distance of twenty-eight miles, on which the works to a small extent had been carried on; and the company had undertaken to complete it within a limited period. This was as much as could be expected under the circumstances. Early in the Session the Government had had under their consideration projects for facilitating the communication with the west of Ireland. Several gentlemen connected with the west of Ireland, and more especially with Galway, had held repeated communications with them on the subject, and arrangements had at last been conic to, which had met with the concurrence of all parties interested, and which, if the House would sanction, would insure the completion, before the expiration of two years, of a railway between Dublin and Galway. As he had already stated, the company had constructed the railway from Dublin to Mullingar by their own funds; and there was a fair presumption that the line from Dublin to Athlone would shortly be completed, for the amount of the debt of this railway company, beyond that for the purchase of a canal, did not exceed 20,000l The estimate for the formation of the line between Mullingar and Athlone was 300,000l., while that for the line between Athlone and Galway was about 500,000l.; but he believed the expense might be reduced below the latter sum. He would, however, take 500,000l. as the sum to be advanced by the Government, and in this sum there was included the charge for two aqueducts over the rivers Shannon and Suck. This money would be advanced at the rate of 3½ per cent, and the repayments were to commence after a period of ten years, when the debt was to be paid by instalments. For such repayments it was intended to take as security the receipts of the whole line. There would be ample guarantee for the amount of interest payable to the Government, for the baronies on the line were bound to make good to the company the difference between the profits of the line, and the interest due by them to the Government. In order to ascertain clearly and distinctly the state of the property, an auditor would be appointed by the Government, whose duty it would be to investigate the accounts of the company, and his decision was to be final as to the proportion in which the interest on the sum advanced should be shared, between 48 the company and the baronies. In advancing this sum for the construction of the line between Athlone and Galway, they did not consent to do so without at the same time insisting that contemporaneously with this the company should construct out of their own capital the line between Mullingar and Athlone, and stipulations had been entered into for this purpose. Before any instalment was advanced, the Government must be satisfied that the company were prepared to expend three-fifths of that sum on the line between Mullingar and Athlone. Thus, for every 100,000l. advanced by the Government, 60,000l. must be advanced out of the funds of the company. The whole of it must be completed by December, 1851, and the Government would have power to take possession of the whole if the line was not completed at the expiration of that period. The whole amount to be expended was 800,000l.; 500,000l. advanced by the Government, and the rest by the company. This would confer great benefit on the districts through which it passed, in the employment of the poor labourers along the line, and it would also tend to the improvement of the districts lying near the line. An annual report of progress, and the effect which the employment of labour had produced, would be furnished to the Government, and laid before Parliament. He held in his hand a letter from Sir John Macneil, an engineer of the first eminence in Ireland, in reply to a request from the secretary of the Great Southern and Western Railway to know his opinion of the effect which the works of that company had produced in certain counties. The letter was as follows:—In reply to your letter requesting to know my opinion as to the amount of good which the works of the company have done in the counties of Tipperary, Limerick, and Cork, I beg to state that the number of persons employed by Mr. Dargan alone, in the excavations and embankments, in the gravel-pits and quarries, and along the line, exclusive of masons, carpenters, and other mechanics, has exceeded 15,000 a day. These men had an average of 9s. a week each, which they regularly received, and were by that means enabled to support themselves and their families. The total amount of individuals thus supported could scarcely he less than 80,000. Had it not been for the timely advance made by Government last Session of parliament, the greater part of these people, if not the whole, would have been thrown on the parishes or died of starvation. Most of the men employed on the works were from the immediate locality of the different works, though there were some from distant parts of the 49 country. The giving of this employment, and keeping so many people from the demoralising influence of the poorhouse, are not the least of the benefits which have been afforded by the advance of the public money; for the men so employed have been taught such habits of labour, and are so much improved in physical strength and efficiency of working, that they are now better worth 9s. a week, even as farm servants, than they were before worth 5s.; and it is a fact well known, that in every instance the men who have been employed in railway works, under regular contractors, and obliged to give full labour for their wages, have seldom afterwards wanted work. They readily find employment, either in this country or on public works in England and Scotland, and, in most cases, would prefer taking work by contract than by day's wages; which is very contrary to what they were accustomed to do, and proves as clearly as anything can, that their former slothful and idle habits have, in a great measure, been overcome, and changed into an energetic desire to improve their condition by exertion and labour—a feeling which it is most desirable to promote and encourage, and which, I believe, cannot be better accomplished than by such employment.The House would be gratified to hear this account of the improvement of the working classes in that part of Ireland by the expenditure of the money which had been advanced by Government; and it was obvious that a great many of the labouring poor living in the districts along the proposed line, would be employed with similar benefit to the country and to themselves. That this would be the case was generally felt in the neighbourhood of the proposed railway; and he held in his hand a resolution passed at a large public meeting held at Galway, expressing the greatest satisfaction on learning that this line was to be constructed. He was convinced it was utterly impossible for the Government to undertake works of this description on a large scale: the improvement of the country must arise out of individual energy, enterprise, and expenditure. It might be, that, to a certain extent, property in this part of Ireland must change hands; but, at the same time, means might be taken to enable proprietors who continued on their estates to improve them to their own benefit and that of the country too. He was happy to hear that there was an increasing disposition to purchase and take on lease in that part of the country; and he knew of nothing better calculated to encourage such a disposition than increased means of communication, and facilities for the transmission of produce to this country. The construction of this line might be of great advantage in the development of the fisheries off that coast; 50 and as he saw no other possible means of effecting the beneficial objects to which he had adverted, he ventured to ask the House to sanction this advance of 500,000l. towards the construction of this line of railway on the terms he had already stated.Res. 1.—That the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury be authorised to direct Advances to be made out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland to the Exchequer Loan Commissioners, to an amount not exceeding 500,000l., to be by them applied by way of loan, for the purpose of constructing a Railroad between Athlone and Gal-way,
§ MR. FITZSTEPHEN FRENCH
rose, pursuant to notice, "to call the attention of the House to the necessity of securing the completion of trunk lines of railway throughout Ireland." He would not enter on the details of the Government measure, until the Bill by which it was to be carried out was in the hands of Members. To some of its provisions, as explained by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—for instance, the liabilities sought to be imposed on the counties—he was strongly opposed; they were unjust, and not to be defended on principle, and if carried, would be the foundation of bitter animosity and litigation between the railway proprietors and the landholders in the districts through which they were to be made. Still, on the whole, he was happy to be able to say that he regarded this proposition as one of the most statesmanlike measures that had emanated from the Government. It went in the right direction, though he thought not far enough. It was his opinion that the employment afforded by the railways in England had, far more than the new poor-law, tended to check pauperism here; and he was satisfied that the extension of railways in Ireland would tend to the same happy result there. There had hitherto been far too little done by the Government of this country in the promotion of railways, despite the admirable examples shown them by far less wealthy and commercial countries. In England, up to 1847, 109,000,000l. were expended in the construction of railways, the income from which is 9,000,000l. In addition to this sum expended, there is a yearly outlay of 30,000,000l. on the lines in progress of construction. Up to the end of 1848, about 200,000,000l. had been laid out; and by the report of the Railway Commissioners, it appears probable that a further outlay of 90,000,000l. will take place on lines authorised by Parliament. There 51 are now 3,918 miles open in England. In 1847, when about 2,600 miles were in operation, 60,000,000 of passengers, 20,000,000 of tons of goods, 2,000,000 of sheep, 500,000 black cattle, and 500,000 pigs, were carried; the traffic and works affording permanent employment to 50,000 persons, and temporary work to 254,000, making a total of no less than 304,000 persons employed about railways during the year. This, too, was exclusive of colliers, of men employed in iron works, engine and coach factories, and brickfields. If the estimate were made to include 400,000 heads of families, it would not be too much, and that would give 2,000,000 of individuals fed through railway employment in England. His belief was, that the enormous amount of wages annually paid on the lines, the saving in the transit of passengers, and the facilities for the transport of goods and produce, were much larger items in the aggregate of England's prosperity than many might suppose. The benefits to be derived from railways had struck foreign Governments so forcibly, that they had not, as in England, waited for private capitalists to come forward, but had advanced sums from the resources of the State. What had been done by the Belgian Government under M. Nothomb's administration, was familiar to everybody; but he doubted if what had been effected by other Continental States was equally well known. In the smaller German States, up to 1845, 541 miles had been constructed, at a cost of 9,676,249l., in this proportion:—
|Distance. Miles.||Cost. £|
|Brunswick and Hanover||38||209,707||ditto|
|Brunswick and Oehterleben||43||240,000||ditto|
|Brunswick & Hamburg||27½||127,500||ditto|
|Hamburg to Bergedorf||10½||191,332|
|Altona to Keil||64||382,500|
|Leipzig to Dresden||71½||975,000|
|Saxon Bavarian||51||900,000||¼ by State|
|Munich to Augsburg||37½||350,000||Purchased by Government|
|Louis, Southern and Northern||70||4,286,500||Government|
|Nuremburg and Furth||4||17,708|
|Berlin and Anhalf||93½||£ 726,873|
|Berlin and Potsdam||16||200,000|
|Berlin and Stettin||83||783,600|
|Berlin and Frankfort on Odor||49½||420,000|
|Lower Silesian||134||(3½ per) cent guaranteed by Government||1,200,000|
|Breslaw and Schweidnitz||37||285,000|
|Madgeburg and Leipsic||67½||615,000|
|Ditto and Halberstadt||35½||286,155|
|Dusseldorf and Elberfeld||16||304,170|
|Cologne and Aix-la-Chapelle||52||1,425,000|
|Ditto and Bonn||18½||131,400|
§ In Austria, the following lines had been made:—
|Emp. Ferdinand's Nor||179||1,700,000|
|Vienna to Glognitz||46||1,050,000|
|Olmutz and Prague||151||1,843,725|
|Murzuschlag and Gratz.||57½||600,000|
§ In France, about 1,360 miles of railway had been opened. In Belgium, there had been 347 miles constructed by the State at a cost of 5,945,148l.
§ In Sweden, the State guarantees 4 per cent for fifteen years: repayment of any money paid by the Government not to take place for ten years, and then only to be made from half the surplus profit over 6 six per cent, the terms being these: the lines to be purchased by the Government for twenty years, unless at a bonus of 25 per cent; to be exempted from ordinary taxation; Crown lands to be given free, and the labour of soldiers, paupers, and convicts at the disposal of Government, to be given to the companies at reduced wages. Electric telegraphs to be erected at the public expense. Even in our own colonies the principle has been acted upon. By an Act of the Legislature of New Brunswick, 6 per cent was guaranteed to the St. Andrew and Quebec Railway. This Act was sanctioned by Her Majesty in Council. The East India Company guaranteed to the shareholders in the Great Indian Peninsula Company a 53 dividend of 6 per cent; and the 11 and 12 Vic, c. 130, authorised Her Majesty to guarantee 4 per cent for loans for the construction of railways in the West Indies and the Mauritius. Eleven years ago, the attention of the Government was drawn to the expediency of developing the resources of Ireland by advances to Irish railways, and a measure was introduced by Lord Morpeth for applying two millions and a half to the purpose, but this proposal had not been carried out. Since that time, Acts had been obtained for the construction of thirty lines, extending to 1,676 miles. Fifteen of these lines were open, or in progress, extending to 450 miles altogether, 361 miles being actually open, leaving 1,200 miles, which the Legislature had decided to be necessary and remunerative, not commenced, nor likely to be commenced. The lines open were Kingstown, Drogheda, Great Southern and Western, Midland Great Western, Ulster, Ballymena. Those in progress are the Belfast Junction, Newry and Enniskillen, Dundalk and Enniskillen, Belfast and County Down, Warrenpoint and Rostre-vor, Waterford and Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny, Cork and Bandon, South Eastern. It was no great wonder that hitherto capitalists had been deterred from entering more largely upon railway schemes in Ireland, when consideration was applied to the enormous sums which had been expended here upon railways. In England, up to the present time, a sum of nearly 200,000,000l had been spent in the construction of railways, the cost per mile being—Blackwall, 289,980l.; Croydon, 80,400l.; Manchester and Bury, 70,000l.; Manchester and Leeds, 64,582l.; Manchester and Birmingham, 61,624l.; Manchester and Sheffield, 56,316l.; Brighton, 56,981l.; Eastern Counties, 40,355l.; Great Western, 46,870l.; South Eastern, 44,412l.; North Western, 41,612l.; South Western, 28,004?. And not much wonder at this cost when you considered the monstrous expenditure for land and Parliamentary charges. The cost per mile for these items were—
|For Land.||parliamentary Expenses.|
|Manchester and Birmingham||16,252||5,100|
§ The Parliamentary expenses of the Grand Junction were 1,527l. a mile; of the Blackwall, 14,414l. Contrast this 54 with the cost of railways elsewhere. Mr. Preston, in a letter lately addressed by him to Lord John Russell, states that the entire cost of the German lines, up to the present time, averages only 10,940l. a mile. In Belgium, the line from Ghent to Bruges cost 7,675l.; that from Ghent to Courtrai, 6,620l. per mile. Of the American railways, the Columbia and Philadelphia cost 10,000l.; the Boston and Worcester, 7,700l.; the Western, 7,300l.; the Camden and Amboy, 4,100l.; the Utica and Syracuse, 3,600l.; the Richmond and Potomac, 3,600l.; the Florida, 3,200l.; Auburn, 2,990l.; South Carolina, 2,600l.; Central, 2,400l.; Attica and Buffalo, 1,600l.; of single lines, the average cost in America has been 5,000l. per mile. There was no reason why the lines in Ireland should not be constructed upon as economic a scale, for the landlords would be ready to meet the various companies upon the most liberal terms, reflecting, as they must, upon this among other considerations of vital benefit to themselves and to their country, that the 60 per cent of outlay paid to unskilled labourers would, to that enormous extent, lighten the rates, and that the character of the labour would permanently raise the character and views of the labourers. In the county he had the honour to represent, the landlords gave up all claim to remuneration for the land taken by the Board of Works in 1847. Lord Lorton gave up 900l.; Lord de Freyne, 800l.; Lord Westmeath and Mr. Will, all gave up the sums for which they held the Board's certificates; and a similar course would, he was confident, be adopted by the Western landlords. He did not contend that it would be advisable to assist in the construction of the 1,200 miles of railway now left untouched, even although it might be shown that the returns would cover the expense. To secure to Ireland the advantage of trunk lines of railway would not require a larger advance altogether than 2,000,000l.; and he was prepared to show that, should Government adopt his plan, the produce from the tax on passenger traffic would produce them an income of 16,000l. a year over and above any liability to which they would be subjected, should there be no surplus revenues from the lines. He was deeply grateful for the advance now proposed; but he feared that, in the districts not immediately benefited, it would be considered a manifestation of favouritism towards a particular line; and, at least, as another illustration 55 of that bit-by-bit legislation which had long been the subject of complaint on the part of Ireland against the Imperial Parliament. The whole of the western district was without railways, and what he would propose, under the circumstances, was, that the State should construct about 110 miles of railway, commencing at Mullingar, and ending at Ballina, with branches to Sligo and Westport. Such a line would run through the very centre of the distressed unions—Ballina, Swinford, Castle-bar, Westport, Ballinrope, Roscommon, and Castlerea—all which places were suffering from the impossiblity of trasmitting their produce—the cost of carrying being often 25 per cent of the value; so that cultivation was almost at a stand. This would cost about 880,000l, or, if the plan of Sir John M'Neil were adopted in the construction, only 400,000l., a fair interest for which, say 2 per cent, should be guaranteed by the counties which received the benefit of the line. Unless facility of carriage was provided, it was unreasonable to expect that either capital or enterprise would be applied to agriculture in these districts. No investment would be made so long as the market for the produce is so distant from the place whore it was grown, and the mode of reaching it so dilatory and expensive. This State outlay would form the necessary basis of the work, and he would further propose to stimulate and encourage the investment of private capital by a loan of 1,500,000l. upon the terms of double the amount lent being expended by the companies. He would propose to make this loan to the existing companies in the following proportions:—To the Midland Great Western, 460,000l.; the Belfast Junction, 300,000l.; the Dundalk or Newry and Enniskillen, 200,000l.; the Londonderry and Enniskillen, 100,000l.; the Waterford and Limerick, 200,000l.; the Killarney Junction, 50,000l.; and the Limerick and Ennis, 70,000l.; the Cork and Bandon, 80,000l.; the South Eastern, 40,0002. The security he proposed was a lien on the entire lines on which the paid-up capital of the companies had been expended. Were this done, Ireland would be put in a fair way to work out her own regeneration. A Northern trunk line would thus be secured, connecting Dublin, Drogheda, Dundalk, Newry, Belfast, Castleblaney, Armagh, Enniskillen, Strabane, Londonderry, and Coleraine. A Southern, connecting Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Ban-don, Killarney, Ennis, Carlow, Kilkenny, 56 and Waterford; and a Western, connecting Dublin, Galway, Sligo, Ballina, and Water-ford. The effect of affording this assistance would be to seure an outlay of about 5,000,000l. in Ireland during the next three years. Employment would thus be given at once to 40,000 heads of families, and thus a maintenance afforded to the 200,000 souls dependent upon them. To provide even against the possibility of loss on the lines executed by Government, a guarantee of 2 percent should be given by the counties or baronies benefited. A liability of this kind could not fairly be objected to, as they would receive a very considerable increase to the value of their property. The line to Birmingham, about the same length, is shown to have added 360,312l. to the value of the landed property, exclusive of all contingent advantages, while a description of property would be created which would not alone give employment to their ablebodied labourers, but contribute largely to their poor-rates. Hallways had always been found to create the means of permanent employment—they never contributed largely to the direct easement of the burden of poor-rate.
|London and North Western, pays in parochial taxes, per acre||13||6||0|
|Lancashire and Yorkshire||14||10||0|
The effects they would have on Ireland, and on the development of its great mineral resources, was very ably shown in the pamphlet by the hon. Member for Tewkesbury, on Irish Wants and Practical Remedies. He says—
Putting aside, for the present, the more prominent features, usually considered in reference to railway traffic, the rapid transit of passengers, the greater cheapness of fares, and the greater safety in travelling, we have to consider more particularly how a railway system will affect the agricultural interests of Ireland, which is so peculiarly dependent on those resources.
He we have the very valuable evidence given before the Select Committee in 1846 on the Railway Acts' Enactments. That competent authority, Mr. Smith, of Deanston, then said, that on a farm of 200 acres on a six course shift, with fifteen miles of transport, the charges of carriage by the old mode would be 142l. 6s. 3d. and by railway it would be only 40l. 8s. 9d., which is a yearly saving of 10s. per acre; a sum
which in itself individually is small, and at once commands our belief, but in the aggregate is immense, Mr. Smith, it must be remembered, applied his data to Scotland and England, while in Ireland the system of carriage is much ruder, and more expensive. The census for 1841 estimates the number of cultivated acres in Ireland at 13,464,300, from which there would' result, if it were possible to apply a complete system, a gross saving of 6,000,000l. or nearly 7,000,000l. yearly—a vast poor-rate, which would very much diminish the amount of human suffering in that country. To carry a railway to every corner of the land is impracticable, but it is practicable to give the accommodation to a very great part of Ireland; and if only to the extent of one-half the surface, an immense saving would still he effected, amounting to the gross sum of 3,000,000l. yearly—a fund which would be invaluable to Ireland. Mr. Smith stated before that Committee that land along the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, previously not worth 5s. per acre, is now worth between 30s. and 40s. an acre. He farther stated, that railways with low rates—
would very greatly tend to the increased consumption of manures, and to the transport of earth for agricultural purposes; that this would give a much increased produce to the land, which would enable the agriculturist to furnish his commodity at a lower rate.
There are seven coal-fields in Ireland—one in Leinster, two in Munster, three in Ulster, one in Connaught—and were proper means of transit provided, coals could be supplied throughout the country at one-third of their present cost. An eminent writer says—
If food be of importance to mankind, so is fuel, though its value is vulgarly apt to be under-rated. To supply an increased quantity of fuel to the population is to increase their comforts, and to add to the value of human life.
Mr. Brown says—
What effect an abundant and cheap supply of fuel produces we know by such examples as the removal of the iron works from Surrey, Sussex, and the southern districts, where wood fuel formerly abounded, to Staffordshire, South Wales, and the coal counties. The effect of the present monopoly prices of coal is often to prevent iron-foundries, brick-fields, potteries, breweries, and many common works from being carried on in parts of the country, though there are large populations to consume the produce. Wherever an increased supply of coal is brought, the benefit to the population is great, by the better provision of fuel, and by the establishment of such homo manufactures as before were kept away by the inability to produce at such low rates as to suit
the markets and to compete with other wares. Where there is a want of mill-power by water, cheap coal will enable steam-power to be applied, and here again the opportunity is afforded for now branches of manufacture to be established. In those districts of Scotland where fuel is cheap, the steam-engine is employed, with advantage, to drive the thrashing machine, to pound bones, cut chaff, raise water, grind corn, and turn many of the farm machines. Coals at 30s, 35s., and 40s. a ton, afford but poor encouragement to the energetic agriculturist to resort to additional machinery. As the consumption of coal extends, the agriculturist also profits by the supply of ashes as manure, and of breeze or small coal at a cheap rate for burning bricks on the London plan.
With regard to the pecuniary result to Ireland from saving in the supply of fuel by railway, it is impossible to estimate it, because Ireland is now insufficiently sup-plied with fuel. Fuel could, however, be carried a hundred miles in Ireland for 8s. 4d. per ton, or 1d. per ton per mile; whereas now it cannot be carried more than twenty-five or thirty miles for 8s. 4d.; and thus the local collieries of Kilkenny and Leitrim are rendered less beneficial, while the sup-ply of sea-coal is likewise restricted. It will, however, be allowed by the most prejudiced opponent, that advantages to the extent at least of 1,000,000l. per annum could be afforded to Ireland in the supply of coal and other fuel. There are three groups of copper mines, the yield of which was at; 10,000 tons yearly. This might be doubled, as was the produce of the Cornish mines in the last twenty years—2,000 tons of lead ore, 100,000 tons of iron pyrites, besides immense quantities of slates, marbles, &c., were annually raised. Great and inexhaustible as was the supply of fish on the western coast, it was, for want of a market, unworked. The Government, by bounties, endeavoured to encourage these fisheries, but they left the main point undone, which was, to make a market. This can alone be done by extending the railways to the coast. The western fisheries have been untouched since the days of Charles the Second, when the Dutch paid; 5,000l. a year for liberty to fish them. There are not above 60,000 persons employed in the fisheries throughout the whole of Ireland. In the zenith of her prosperity, 450,000 persons in Holland received direct employment from the fisheries—one in five of her population. In Ireland but one in 136 is so employed. The increase in the consumption of fish in England since the introduction of railways was very remarkable. The quantity carried inland had from nothing come up to 30,000 tons; in Birmingham, the consumption of
fish in 1827 was 370 tons; last year it was over 6,000 tons.
§ To the trade of Ireland a railway system would do much good; for while the natural resources of Ireland already attract capitalists, good and cheap means of conveyance would do more. Besides the great staple of the linen manufacture carried on in the north, the manufacture of lace, embroidery, and other branches of industry, have been introduced into the west, where female labour can be had cheaply; any employment of this kind would, therefore, be a great relief to Ireland.
§ In 1839 there were in Ireland twenty-five cotton mills employing 4,622 persons, thirty-eight woollen mills employing 1,231 persons, and forty-four flax mills employing 9,017 persons. The flax crop in 1844 was estimated at 39,000 tons, worth 2,000,000l., and the value of linen yarn exported to foreign countries was 172,602l According to the population returns in 1841, the number of spinners was 485,878, and of weavers 117,847.
§ It is scarcely necessary to point out how valuable railway communication must be for Government purposes, whether in the conveyance of mails, or in economising the expenditure of police and military, by enabling a smaller force to be employed. It is to be further observed, that it will greatly increase the Government revenues by developing the resources of the country, and stimulating the consumption of articles which contribute to the customs, excise, and stamps.
The completion of the Irish railways will be of vast benefit to the trade and commerce of England; it will facilitate her communication with the western world. The passage from Galway to Halifax will be made in 5½ days; the dangerous navigation of the Channel will be avoided by her merchant ships. The average loss to England from shipwrecks in the Channel is estimated at 2,000,000l a year; out of 400 vessels, which is about the average number of those lost, 300 are lost in the Channel. England now requires 3,000,000 quarters of corn more than she grows. Ireland, if you give such facilities of transport as will render agriculture remunerative, can supply 10,000,000 quarters more than she now does—a subject of vital importance to this country if, through war or political jealousy, the Continental ports from which she now draws her supplies should be closed against her. The united kingdom will benefit by the reduction of
expenditure as well as by the increase of revenue. Mr. Stanley shows that if the condition of the people of Ireland was raised to that of the people of England, there would be an increase in the excise alone of 6,000,000l. a year. From the changes effected by the introduction of steam vessels into naval warfare, should unfortunately any difference take place between this country and Prance, the merchant vessels of England, no matter how numerous her men-of-war might be, dare not attempt to pass through the Channel; small steamers, drawing a few inches of water, with one gun, darting out from the creeks on the French coast, would cut them off; complete the Irish railways, and a couple of steam frigates lying off Berehaven would secure the commerce of England from the French privateers. Government had but to adopt his proposal to secure its success. The House was ready and anxious to support any measure which was really for the advantage of Ireland. If they had not hitherto done so, it was because Government had not asked them to do so. The able and enlightened statesman at the head of affairs in Ireland had pledged himself to do all in his power to secure to that country the advantage of railway communication. He felt, in the words of Mr. Drummond—
That it was a waste of the public available resources to suffer so large a portion of the empire to lie fallow, or to leave it to struggle by slow advances and with defective means towards its own improvement, when the judicious aid of the State might quickly make it a source of common strength and advantage.
They had now an opportunity of laying a foundation on which the structure of Ireland's future prosperity could be securely raised. The policy of doing so was unquestionable. It was acknowledged to be necessary in the colonies, and how much more so in an integral part of the united kingdom, where neither the land nor the population can continue to be useless without being hurtful at the same time and in the same degree. The wealth of London was ready to pour into the distressed districts of Ireland if encouraged to do so; and great would be the responsibility of Government if their remissness or contracted views should leave Ireland to drift, as she now was doing, to destruction.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, he should take that opportunity of making a few observations on the question involved in the vote which they were asked to sanction, because 61 he could not but think the subject was one of very great importance, and one that was pregnant of consequences to the country. He should not follow the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down into the question which he discussed as to the probable advantages likely to accrue to the country from the completion of certain railways. He thought that great benefit must result to any country which was in a condition to require extraordinary or ordinary means of conveyance, and which possessed a traffic in heavy goods in quantities to be conveyed. But although it was not his intention to follow the hon. Gentleman, he begged to call the attention of the House to this, that the speech he had made was perfectly appropriate to the subject before them. It showed the House what they were to expect as the ultimate results of this proposed advance. They were relieving one particular district by the line of railway which it was intended to construct; but they must remember, if they meant to benefit Ireland, they must extend the principle on which they had entered; they must carry out the system, and have all those lines completed at the expense of the Government, which were mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, and which he set down at a cost of 2,500,000l., being-four or five times the amount for which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked. This, then, was the proper time for the House to consider whether they were prepared to enter upon this principle of voting assistance—whether, in the present state of the revenue, they believed that they should have resources sufficient to meet the advances required of them, not only in the present but in future years; for they were bound now to consider whether they were prepared to carry the principle further than the present vote before they adopted it at all, and to consider whether the money so advanced for the construction of railways might not be applied to a better purpose. He recollected that a similar proposal to this was made on a former occasion by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he proposed to advance to the Cork and Limerick line a sum of 600,000l.—a line in the south of Ireland. He (Mr. Goulburn) at that time called the attention of the House to the difficulties involved in making such a grant, and he particularly stated to the House that if the grants were made, the calls they should have upon the public treasury would be so many, that the 62 right hon. Gentleman would be quite unable to meet them. They saw now that the prophecy he then made was so far made good that the right hon. Gentleman was compelled again to come to the House for another vote of 500,000l.; and let them believe him, the time was not far distant when the House would be called on to meet the expectations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roscommon, and to show cause why they were not prepared to complete the railroads he had mentioned. He (Mr. Goulburn) could well understand the principle of this application to Parliament, if the Government had taken the whole making and management of the railways into their own hands. A proposition to that effect was made when Lord Morpeth was Secretary for Ireland. That proposition was not adopted by the House; and now, let him ask, what were the consequences that followed? Why, it led to this—that the capitalists of England immediately did embark their money in the making of railways in Ireland; and they had at this moment railways formed by private capital, three-fourths of which belong to Englishmen, and one-fourth to Irishmen; they had that accomplished by private enterprise which the House had refused to sanction as a work to be undertaken by the Government. Now, then, they were again asked to make an advance to particular railways, and that was the ground of his objection to it. As he had stated, he could understand a principle that led Government to take up a general system, which, without conferring favour upon any one particular district, would equally benefit all the districts of the country. But if they sanctioned advances to special cases, and if they could induce the belief that, by having the merits of particular districts ably represented by friends to the Government, with some little pressure upon the Treasury, they could obtain that assistance which was denied to other railways, the effect would be, conviction produced on the public generally of partiality in the Government, and of favour for particular districts of the country. But, said the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roscommon, the scheme would open up a great extent of country now suffering from distress. Well, he (Mr. Goulburn) put out of consideration altogether the relief which would be contributed to the existing distress in Ireland; for the right hon. Gentleman proposed that this money should be advanced gradually in the course of the 63 next two years; so that, although the existing distress had boon brought forward as an argument for advancing this sum of 500,000l., it could have no effect whatever towards relieving the present distress, for before it could be advanced, the next potato harvest must he gathered, and, whether scanty or abundant, the character of that harvest was only a question that could affect the future. The question, therefore, before the House was, whether, upon individual cases, they were prepared to sanction advances from the public treasury? Now, at what were they proposing to make the advance? They proposed to give this money at 3½ per cent—a rate of interest at which the best railways in the country could not obtain money; and yet other railways in Ireland which had been made by private enterprise were called upon to compete with lines formed by money advanced by Government on terms so advantageous. This was a railway intended to go through a great part of the county of Galway. He asked them whether this was a line at all likely to be productive, and to repay the loan about to be advanced? He confessed that when he heard the right hon. Gentleman, he was almost convinced he was listening to the auctioneer for the sale of Mr. Martin's estate; for he proceeded to tell them that they were to make a railway through Mr. Martin's estate—[The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER: No, no!]—that the estate would then be conveyed for sale to the most advantageous market—and he ended by assuring the future fortunate purchaser that his bargain would turn out almost another California. But he (Mr. Goulburn) entertained some doubt whether railways in a country not ripe for the reception of them, would prove so remunerative as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to expect. He did not know that Galway stood in need of railways. He recollected that in a former year Government was directed to make public roads through that country, and these were made at a considerable expense, and much to the benefit of the country; but whether railways were required by the traffic and condition of the country, was a question on which the House, he thought, would require some more evidence than they possessed, before they sanctioned the making of them. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House of the carriage of fish as an article likely to employ the railway; but would he tell them to what extent the carriage of fish had already gone 64 on the railway which they had opened in a previous year? for he considered that the port of Limerick was as likely to be available for fish as any of those on the ocean. He said the Shannon fishery was as likely to be productive as those carried on upon the coast of Galway. At all events, they were bound to estimate that of which they knew nothing, by that which they did know—the Shannon fishery. Well, but the important question before the House was, whether they were prepared to extend the principle further than the present vote, and to repeat the same sum of money the next and the following year for the assistance of Irish railways. He was sorry that the course he was now adopting might seem like a want of feeling for the distress of Ireland; but he was sure that no such accusation could be made either against himself or the House. That, however, was not the question before them. He said, in calling the attention of the House to the difficulties in which the House was placed by the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, he was only anxious to impress upon them the consequences of the course upon which they were entering; that although the system of advances from the Consolidated Fund by way of loan was an easy way of expending the public money, unless they would look after the loans thus made, and be quite sure, before making them, of the probability of their being repaid to the country, they would involve the country in difficulties which it would be impossible to reduce, without imposing upon the people burdens which they might be unwilling to bear when the period arrived, and which, perhaps, it was not right should be borne by the public. On that account he had thought it his duty to call the attention of the House to the caution with which they should ever think of advances such as were now proposed.
§ MR. HUME
said, as a general rule, he had been accustomed to look upon all advances by Government with jealousy, but on this occasion the vote had his entire approval. He understood that this advance was to be made by Exchequer Commissioners, and was made not for the purpose of giving the Government the entire management of the railway, but to assist a company in completing a line, in the making of which they had already expended 800,000l., having opened fifty miles of the railway. Their returns were about 1,000l. a week, nearly the amount which they originally estimated. The completion of the 65 line was likely to be of the greatest advantage to the country; it would open up an extensive district to the markets of the north, and the line was in all probability one that would be remunerative; it would also give employment to labour and induce regular habits of industry. The company were to advance 300,000l. more than they had already paid up, and 500,000l. was proposed from the Government in order to complete the railway. He considered that this case was exceptional, and if it could be shown that the credit of the country could be safely given, it ought to obtain it. For security, they were not merely to have the line already made, but in case the returns were not sufficient to cover the liabilities, they could fall back upon the baronies along the line, which they held as au additional security. They besides advanced the money by instalments of 100,000l., each of which must have been laid out in effective works before another was advanced to the company. He was disposed, therefore, to say that the 2,000,000l. already advanced for the same purpose in Ireland, had been applied to a good and proper end. But when Lord Morpeth introduced his measure with regard to Irish railways, his objection to that Bill was, that it proposed giving to Government the entire management and control of the whole system of railways in Ireland. He begged the House to consider at what moment they were now making this advance. When the company began the line, they were paying 14l. or 15l. per ton for the iron, but now they might complete the line at 4l. or 5l. a ton, so that at this lower rate they were conferring a lasting benefit upon the country. As the means of employment for the labouring poor, and as a proper measure to be taken in the present state of Ireland, he should give the vote his support.
Mr. ORMSBY GORE
concurred with the hon. Member for Montrose in the view which that hon. Gentleman had taken of the subject. With regard to what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Cambridge University, he begged to say, that the railway did not pass through Mr. Martin's property; it went through the best and most productive part of the county of Galway, as fine a district for a railway as any in the empire. Again, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of a competing railway; but there was nothing of the sort. There was not a railway in the whole province of Connaught, and this would pass through the very contre of that province, 66 in fact, through the heart of Ireland. Taking it from its source, from Dublin to-Galway, it cut the country exactly in two; and hereafter branch lines might be struck out from the main trunk with immense advantage. The railway which the right hon. Gentleman referred to ran parallel with the coast. This ran directly across the country, from sea to sea, and was the most valuable line that could be established in Ireland. It was a railway that must command a considerable amount of traffic. There was no sort of danger of its not being amply remunerative, and he should imagine that the security would be quite sufficient to satisfy the Government. He begged cave, therefore, to return his sincere thanks to Her Majesty's Government for this measure in favour of Ireland. This was the sort of legislation that they wanted there. They wanted the encouragement of industry in that country. They wanted legislation that would secure employment to the population. They wanted to encourage in the minds of the lower order of the Irish those industrious habits which, he regretted to say, now prevailed in only a small part of that country. He did not like any of the other measures that had been carried out, because they had not had this object in view. For instance, he looked upon the poor-law, oven amended as it was, as a bonus upon idleness. He spoke as the owner of property in five different counties of Ireland; and be anxiously desired that the industry of the people should be encouraged, and that they who had hitherto been satisfied to rely upon the potato for subsistence, whilst they idled away the rest of their time, should be taught to put forth their energies, and exercise their honest industry for the purpose of elevating themselves in the scale of social existence. They must recollect that here, in England, they had substantial farmers with large capital, and farms of from 500 to 1,000 acres, and that in consequence of the employment of the labourers upon those farms, this country did not suffer the distress that was experienced in Ireland. There, in many parts, they had nothing of the kind, but a cottier tenantry who lived merely from hand to mouth, and had no stimulus to industry. It was that stimulus which was required, and he implored the Government therefore to persist in that course of legislation, of which he hoped this was but the commencement.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, although the hon. Member for Montrose was, with him, 67 a great authority on these subjects, he was sorry to say that upon the present occasion he felt obliged reluctantly to differ from him. He felt obliged to look at his own country—he felt bound to consider the position of England as well as of Ireland; and when the hon. Member who had just sat down—an Irish landlord, holding land in five counties—said this was just the sort of legislation he would like, he (Mr. Roebuck) could very well understand that statement, coupled as it was with a denunciation of the Irish Poor Law, and with other measures which had been recently passed, obliging Ireland to support her own poor. The feeling of dislike to the rate in aid, and the poor-law, on the part of the hon. Gentleman, was the result of the state of mind which approved of this advance or loan. But he (Mr. Roebuck) had to look at another part of the question. How was the money to be obtained?—where would it come from? And if from the hard earnings of the people of this country, were they able to endure it? What were they going to do? With a failing exchequer—with a revenue unequal to the expenditure, they were about to advance money to Ireland. He well remembered the manner in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer combated the proposal of the late Lord George Bentinck, It was very seldom he quoted Hansard, but he thought it was most appropriate on the present ocaasion. What did the right hon. Gentleman then say?I do not like to see the State become a lender. If the parties have good security to offer, and if the speculation be a fair speculation, I have never known any difficulty in obtaining loans from private individuals.Now, he wanted to know what it was that had changed the mind of the right hon. Gentleman since that period—or what had rendered the position he then laid down less valid or applicable. In 1847, Lord George Bentinck proposed to the House a general scheme of railways in Ireland. Had he (Mr. Roebuck) wished to accept of any plan of money-lending, he would have accepted that plan. But here was a case less plausible which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to promote, although he vehemently opposed that project. His hon. Friend the Member for Montrose said the prospect was excellent, that the traffic would be good, that the security would be unexceptionable, and that there was no doubt of the return of the money. But were not all these circumstances 68 calculated to induce private individuals to make the loan? and if they would make the advances, why should the State become a lender? But if a private lender could not be found, then, as there was abundance of capital in this country, it followed that such a state of circumstances did not exist, and therefore the Government ought not to incur the risk of non-payment. One of two things must be—either there was ample security and no risk, or the security was insufficient. In the former case the Chancellor of the Exchequer was wrong, according to his doctrine, as had been quoted—in the latter the Government was not justified, in the present state of the public finances, in making the loan. What was the condition of England? Was it not notorious that in almost every union in England the poor-rates had been increased? In Scotland the poor-rates had increased to a fearful extent. The poor-rate in Scotland had been, a few years ago, only 40,000l.; last year they were 500,000l.; and this year it was believed they would amount to 600,000l. Never before was there so heavy a poor-rate in Scotland; Such was the state of things in hardworking, industrious Scotland. And what were they going to lend this money for? The hon. Member for Salop said they were going to lend it to teach the people to be industrious; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had formerly stated that money lent for railroads did not go into the pockets of the suffering and destitute poor. It was dispensed among the able-bodied poor—amongst the skilled and not the starving labourers—not unlikely amongst labourers from England. Was the money to be expended in charity or was it not? Let the House understand that. It was the destitute and the suffering who most needed aid—it was the strong and ablebodied who would participate in this advance. If the money were to be expended in remunerative and well-secured labour, why then, as he said before, let the Irish railway directors borrow as others borrowed—if otherwise, and for charitable purposes, he grieved to say that his own overtaxed and heavily burdened countrymen could not afford it. He had no objection to the right hon. Gentleman raising the money amongst the Members of his own party; but on behalf of the hardworking artisan and the in- 69 dustrious, overtaxed labourer of his own country he protested against this advance as most unjust—a loan which would burden them still more heavily, and the only purpose of which was to drive railroads through Ireland. It was all very well for an Irish landlord to say that this was just the kind of legislation he desired; but the English people, however charitable, must not quite forget the taxgatherer. The skilled artisan and the poor throughout this country would be called to pay increased taxes on account of this loan; and when he looked upon their sufferings and when he saw amongst every class of labourers, whether skilled or unskilled, considerable privation and fear and trembling lest things might become worse—when he saw that the expenditure of this country already exceeded the income, he did not think England ought to be called to aid a country which had not yet unfortunately aided itself.
§ MR. HUME
said, it was altogether a mistake to suppose that any additional taxation would be caused by this grant. The credit of the Government would be pledged to enable certain individuals who had advanced, or who would advance, 1,100,000l. to raise other 500,000l. at 3½ per cent, the interest being paid by them; and not a single shilling would be paid either by the artisans or anybody else in this country. Even should the railroad entirely fail, Government would have recourse to the baronies which had become security. Meantime 3½ percent would be paid on the money raised on the credit of the Government; and wherever the public money could be lent so as to open up new sources of traffic and industry, it ought to be done. When the proposed line was completed, the carriage of sheep from Galway to Dublin, now 3s. or 3s. 6d. a head, would be reduced to 8d. or 10d. In every way, this appeared to him a measure which ought to be promoted.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
heartily rejoiced that the hon. Member for Montrose and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had at length found that the scheme of his noble and lamented Friend (Lord George Bentinck) was practicable, was applicable to the condition of Ireland, and would inflict no undue burden upon the resources of England. No one could say that England was now as prosperous as when his lamented Friend brought forward his plan; but when that plan was developed it was scouted 70 as unsound in principle and impracticable in operation. Why, now, did the Chancellor of the Exchequer adopt its principle? Why, but that he at length was forced to recognise its soundness and utility. It was lamentable that the Government had not long ago yielded to those arguments of which they to-night silently confessed the truth and the force. Bitter experience had taught them the wisdom, the genius, and the high and generous feeling which had dictated that grand and statesmanlike scheme; and happy would it have been for the ill-fated country for whom it was intended if it had been then adopted and put in force. The Government only now saw what the foresight of his lamented Friend had long since sketched out. Why, the debate to which they had just been listening was but a travestie of the debate which occurred at the period to which he referred; and he could not help observing, whilst the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge spoke, that his speech was but an echo of that which the present Chancellor of the Exchequer used against the scheme of his noble and lamented Friend. The old arguments of insufficient security for the loan—that it would not he employed in the manner they wished—and that it was improper for the Government to join with private speculators in the formation of great public works, were all hashed up and served out anew. Experience had, however, taught the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Montrose that such arguments were inapplicable to the condition of Ireland. He (Mr. Newdegate) had supported the proposition of his noble and lamented Friend. He felt then, as now, that if they would govern successfully a country in such difficulties as Ireland, they must assist in the employment of its labour and in the development of its resources. It was not enough to tell the suffering people to help themselves, and enunciate some of the dry principles of political economy. They had a right to demand and expect from the Legislature and Government that they would assist them in the hour of need, and that means would be afforded them to raise them from their difficulties. He had often before declared his opinion, and he again avowed it, that it was an erroneous and a fatal principle in a Government or Legislature to stand by inactive and indifferent whilst a portion of their fellow-subjects were endeavouring to struggle out of extraordinary difficulties and to contend 71 against severe sufferings and privations. The first function of a Government was to assist the helpless, to succour the industrious, and to stimulate the inactive. He was rejoiced to see that the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who in 1846 declared that he accepted the measure proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth as a great scheme, involving as it did a principle then perfectly new—of fostering no interest, but leaving each to flourish or to fade as best it might—by this proposal declared that scheme to be impracticable. He had only once more to lament that the Government needed such bitter experience before this truth was brought home to their understanding, and he hoped they would have the good sense to reject those bastard notions of political economy before the ruin which their operation involved was more widely extended.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
, in explanation, said, his argument was not against Irish landlords deriving benefit from this mischievous mode of proceeding. But he could very well understand the feeling of hon. Gentlemen who approved of one sort of legislation and not of another. As to what his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose said about this being a loan, and the security of Government, he (Mr. Roebuck) contended that if the name of the Government was necessary, the Government must incur some risk. If it were not necessary, what was to prevent private individuals from lending the money? The fact was that the Government lent the money because nobody else could be found to lend it. Why should they do so?
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
had an exact answer to the question. By a return lately laid upon the table of the House, the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield would find that no less a sum than 7,600,000l. had been advanced by the State in England in speculative concerns. But the indignation of the hon. and learned Gentleman had not been in any way excited by those loans or advances. It was not a paltry sum of 500,000l. or 600,000l. to benefit a starving people that was advanced in the case of England, but millions—in England, too, where the capital was so abundant, and where, as the Times daily told them, people were seeking modes of investing money at a very low rate of interest. Upon referring to this return, he found that for the construction of canals, bridges, &c., 1,470,000l. had been advanced, for railroads 72 600,000l, for building poorhouses, 1,900,000l., for waterworks 70,000l., and for the Thames tunnel 250,000l.; and these loans and advances were made without the hon. and learned Gentleman saying—"I protest against the advances on behalf of the skilled labourer, on behalf of the artisans, and on behalf of the unskilled labourers of this country. They will have to pay this tax. They are already too heavily burdened." Where was the patriotism, where the economy of the hon. and learned Gentleman when those advances were asked for and made? Oh no! it was only when a loan was made at what might be called a usurious rate of interest that the bile of the hon. and learned Gentleman was excited. There was an anti-Irish feeling in his blood, in his mouth, and on his tongue; and the hon. and learned Member made these appeals for the purpose of increasing the prejudices and arousing the animosity of the English people. The English labourer or artisan would have nothing to pay; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman was really ignorant upon this subject, he would show him from the official returns that these loans had been previously made with a positive advantage to the Exchequer. [Alaugh.] Yes, he repeated, with an advantage; for whereas the Government borrowed the money at three per cent, they lent at three and a half per cent, upon the most unexceptionable security. The hon. Baronet then quoted various instances where monies had been advanced in loans, for Irish purposes, and punctually repaid, with interest, and at a profit to the Exchequer; and quoted the opinion of Government officials as to the good which had accrued, and which was likely to accrue, from such advances if well directed. He concluded by expressing his earnest and hearty approval of the Government proposition.
§ MR. O'FLAHERTY
was sure that if the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had travelled through the distressed unions of Ireland, or if he credited the testimony of those who had seen them as to the misery existing there, he would cordially support this measure. He assured the House that no proposition ever introduced to their attention was of more consequence to the people than this; and the Government deserved the best thanks of the country for it. It would contribute to induce capitalists to invest in the country, and render most assistance to the operation of the Incumbered Estates Act. He hoped English Members would consent to look at this 73 question upon a broad scale, for they were greatly interested in it; but at the same time he assured the hon. Member for Roscommon that not one of his constituents would coincide with him.
§ SIR T. D. ACLAND
said, he had opposed the proposition of his late noble and lamented Friend for an advance of sixteen millions to assist Irish railways, because he thought it too large and unmanageable. But in the same year he supported a smaller advance for a similar purpose, because it was for a definite object—for an object as to which there were clear and distinct plans; and it was precisely because those conditions were fulfilled in the present case that he should support the proposition of his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Englishmen could not be better employed than in lending a helping baud to the sister country; and though be had not, like the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shropshire, property in five Irish counties, or even in one, he felt the interests of the two countries were so much identified, that they should be treated in that House exactly alike. The benefit to be derived from this loan would not stop at Mullingar, at Galway, or at Dublin. It would extend to Liverpool and to London; for improvements in the moans of communication were not limited to the locality where they were effected. He hoped the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield would not be displeased with him, if he added, that if similar propositions were made to extend railway communication from Gal-way to Cork, Limerick, Belfast, and Derry, he should not oppose them. With the view, however, of putting an end to all doubt as to the security, he would put one question to his right hon. Friend. It was, whether there was one shilling due that had not been punctually paid upon the railway advances of 1847? If, as he apprehended, such was the case, notwithstanding the existence of very severe distress among all classes, it was idle to talk of risk. If the payments had been punctually made, how could the House say, upon the first occasion that presented it-Self, "We know you have fulfilled your engagements, but we will not trust you again?" Let the House trust them again, and he would answer for it the money would be repaid. Act liberally and kindly towards them; that was the road to the Irishman's heart.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, if he had entertained any 74 doubt as to the success of the proposal he had made, it would have been removed; by the eloquent speech of his hon. Friend, He had risen, however, to say he could bear the most satisfactory testimony to the fact that every sixpence of interest due from railways in Ireland had been punctually paid.
§ Mr. PETO
supported the proposition, and begged the Government to accept his thanks for it, being convinced that it would prove of infinite benefit to Ireland. He begged to inform the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield that it would be altogether unnecessary to carry railway labourers from England to Ireland, for some of the best "navvies" employed in this country were Irishmen; and they were remarkable for their industry, temperance, and constant application to work. Irish labour needed development. Looking at the superior advantages of locomotion presented by railways, he hoped this would be only the beginning on the part of Her Majesty's Government of similar pledges of credit, where, having been well considered, they could be safely bestowed.
§ Mr. FREWEN
knew the country exceedingly well through which the railway was intended to pass, and he thought the estimate of the expense between Athlone and Galway an exceedingly safe one. He considered that the estimate of 500,000l. for the making of the railway was exceedingly large. He thought that 450,000l. would have been a sufficient estimate. The Great Southern and Western line cost only 12,000l. a mile; and, as land and labour were less valuable in Con-naught than in Leinster, it was reasonable to suppose that the present line would not cost so much per mile. His impression was, that there would be a much larger amount of traffic than hon. Members seemed to expect—even those who were acquainted with the country. The wages paid for labour upon the works would be of great service in the locality; for he assured the House that the correspondence he had received that morning represented the distress as most appalling.
§ SIR L. O'BRIEN
hoped the House would consider the present Motion as not involving any question between England and Ireland, but rather regard the whole proceeding as a sending out of capital from the centre to a remote part of the empire; it was a spreading of concentrated capital over the kingdom. He claimed, however for those parts, their proper share in the benefits of enterprise and industry. A fa- 75 mine had fallen upon the land; and, had it not been for that visitation of Providence on the western counties of Ireland, they would have exhibited as much industry, as much cultivation, and as many resident gentlemen setting an example to their tenantry as might be seen in any other part of the British empire. If the House were pleased to express kindly feelings, the people of Ireland accepted them; but they wished for no aid except upon grounds that hon. Members could fully justify before their constituents. He was happy to hear from many hon. Members, that they could do so in the conscientious discharge of their duty towards those who had elected them.
§ MR. H. A. HERBERT
said, after the account of the punctual payment of interest upon loans to railway companies, he would call the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to a memorial he had the honour to present to him lately. If the manner in which the present proposition had been received by the House, should encourage him to take the prayer of that memorial into consideration, he would confer a benefit upon a part of the country where it would be received with thankfulness.
§ Resolution agreed to.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that by the next resolution he should propose a further advance of money, in addition to that which the House had, upon a former occasion, sanctioned, for the relief of distress in the western unions of Ireland, to be secured upon the rate in aid. He had stated, upon a former occasion, that the demands for assistance would necessarily increase as the summer advanced, and that for the three months preceding the harvest they would extend. But destitution had increased in the west to such an extent that a larger sum than the 100,000l. already voted had been advanced. The difference between the 100,000l. already voted and the sum advanced, had been obtained by issues from the civil contingencies. Up to about the beginning of June, the issues did not exceed more than 10,000l. per week; but now the weekly demand was 15,000l., and he did not suppose it could be less until a considerable portion of the early crops, which he was happy to say were exceedingly good in many parts of Ireland, could be brought to market. The sum advanced in the first instance was 50,000l. That was before the passing of the Act. Since that, 124,000l. had been advanced, making 76 altogether nearly 175,000l.; and this morning he had directed a further issue of 15,000l., being an aggregate advance of about 190,000l. The sum he now proposed to ask the House for was 150,000l., in order to cover all contingencies. This was merely for the relief of distress; and though 130,000l. might possibly be enough, he did not think, under the circumstances, that it would be safe to take a vote for a less sum than 150,000?. He should therefore ask the House to sanction that advance. He had intended to ask for authority to readvance any portions of the sums repaid of workhouse loans for the construction of new workhouses, but he would propose another Committee with that view; and he only mentioned the subject to show that it had not escaped the attention of the Government.Res. 2. "That the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury be authorised to direct Advances to be made out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland of any sum not exceeding 150,000l., for affording Relief to certain distressed Poor Law Unions in Ireland, the same to be charged on any Rate to be levied in each Union in Ireland, under an Act of the present Session, for a General Rate in Aid of certain distressed Unions and Electoral Divisions in Ireland.
§ MR. STAFFORD
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he would lay upon the table a list of the unions which had been assisted; also, whether the Government would make the repayment of workhouse loans more stringent than they had been; and whether they were prepared to enter into further details with regard to the new workhouses?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he could at once state the unions to which advances were made. There were twenty-three, and among them were Ballina, Ballinrobe, Bandon, Castlereagh, Castlebar, Carrick-on-Shannon, Innistimon, Ennis, Dingle, and Westport. The amount expended in these unions for the relief of distress in the week before last was 14,934l.; the estimate for the last week was 15,059l.
SIR DENHAM NORREYS
asked how far the collection of rates had been proceeded with in those unions? Had payment been enforced?
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the collection had been enforced to the utmost practical extent in all the distressed unions. He could assure his hon. Friend there was no slackness in that respect.
§ Resolution agreed to.77
§ Resolutions to be reported To morrow. House resumed.