§ MAJOR BLACKALL
said, he was far from underrating the advantages that this Bill offered to the landlords of Ireland, with a view to the improvement of their estates. At the same time, he must say that he looked upon it as a great mistake to suppose that the landlords alone were the employers of the people, and to pass 330 over altogether the occupying tenants, who, by the receipt of assistance, might be made the great employers of the labouring poor of that country. If they wanted to find continuous and general labour for Ireland, they must do so by enabling those who were the occupiers of the soil to give money wages for labour—a result that could never be gained by merely giving grants of money to the proprietors. Owing to circumstances over which they had no control, the proprietors were not able to give assistance to their tenantry unless in a few exceptional cases; and he believed that in the poorer parts of Ireland—in those places where assistance was most required—the provisions of this Bill would be most inoperative. He did not see why power should not be given under this Bill to make advances in those cases where farms had been consolidated for the purpose of erecting farm buildings, of which they were generally destitute, and providing what was otherwise necessary to a proper working of those farms. The cultivation of flax was also a matter that ought to receive the serious attention of Government and the House. This might be made a most profitable department of farming in Ireland, but it was not grown to anything like the extent it ought to be, on account of the want of facilities for taking it to market. The Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland, under the patronage of Lord Clarendon, who had devoted a large sum of public money to assist the instructors in agriculture sent forth among the farmers, had energetically turned its attention to this subject; and if hon. Members would but read the reports of those instructors, they would be able to form some idea of the difficulties they experienced in carrying out their object. They found the farmers of Ireland so poor, that it was impossible by instruction alone to succeed in their views; for they could not without capital effect any of the improvements suggested to them. If the object of these practical instructors in agriculture could be gained, he believed that they would soon be able to get quit of those ablebodied paupers now so numerous all over the distressed districts; but without money the farmers could do nothing. It would be of the utmost importance, therefore, to devise some means by which the farmers could be assisted in carrying out their agricultural operations. He stated his belief that, if anything could be done to remedy this state of matters, they would do more for 331 Ireland than all their legislation had yet effected. The question of arterial drainage was one of the greatest importance, and he was glad that it had not been lost sight of by the Government. He thought it would be better, both for this country and for Ireland, if it was resolved at once to carry out all the works already commenced. Formerly these works were promoted to a certain degree by means of private capital, because it was obtained on the security of the lands that were improved. That system could not, however, be continued, in consequence of the value of landed property having become so much depreciated that the want of confidence thereby created prevented them getting the money. In 1838 the Marquess of Lansdowne stated that Government were pledged, by what had passed on the passing of the Irish Poor Law, to encourage the employment of the labouring poor of Ireland; and he added, that better security did not exist than was found in that country for sums advanced to promote that object. He (Major Blackall) thought that, after what had passed last year, they had a right to expect that liberal aid would be extended to Ireland. He could assure the House that, at present, the safety of Ireland depended on employment being given to the people; and that, instead of the landlords and farmers of that country being able to do so, their resources were rapidly decreasing.
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
wished to impress upon the House that this proposition of the Government would be wholly inadequate for the purpose of giving relief to Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had referred to some of the distressed districts as showing symptoms of prosperity. The reports of the last few days, however, had given an answer of a most unfavourable character to the anticipations of the right hon. Gentleman. From various unions the most disastrous accounts had been received, and he was more than ever convinced that the House would be acting under a delusion if they thought the Government proposition would be sufficient to relieve the distress of that country. The ejectments going on, in connexion with the starvation that prevailed, required some effectual remedy. What good effect resulted from the Bill of last year? It might give some amount of food to the poor ejected peasantry; but they were supplied with neither clothes nor lodging. If it had been intended to 332 depopulate Ireland by starvation, the course now taken would produce that very result; but he was sure it was not the intention of that House that the people of Ireland should be so dealt with. Why should the mass of the people be driven from the occupation of the soil? He thought the occupation of the soil in reasonably small holdings one of the best means that could be devised for benefiting Ireland. It was of no use to expect that the farmer would lay out capital to improve the soil, unless they gave him some security that he would receive the benefit of the outlay he had made. Government had promised that something should be done in this respect; but those promises were not kept, and now the soil was uncultivated, and consequently there was no employment for the people. There was no want of capital in Ireland. There was a great deal of capital in the hands of farmers; but it was not laid out in the cultivation of the land, and they were now carrying it away to foreign countries. If, however, security had been given for a fair return for the improvements made, this capital would have been expended on the soil. If he wanted additional proof of this matter, it was to be found in the admirable address which had just been published by the Society of Friends for the relief of destitution in Ireland, They stated in this address that whatever might have been the value of the enormous amount applied during the last three years by the Legislature and by private charity, in affording a temporary alleviation of wide-spread misery, it had produced scarcely any permanently useful results. They next referred to the extent of neglected land, while the strength of the country was standing by idle, anxiously seeking for work, to the frightful system of wholesale evictions, the progress of emigration, and the other symptoms of the deterioration of society in Ireland, and then observed that—We have long felt that the chief ground of hope, the main source of improvement, is the improved cultivation of the soil; and that the surest means of effecting this object is by affording security to the cultivator. That this security does not generally exist in Ireland, is admitted. On this point there is scarcely a second opinion among thinking men in this country. The laws which regulate the title to, and the conveyance of land, require to be changed, so as to give the utmost freedom to its sale and transfer—so as to pass those estates, whose proprietors are irretrievably ruined, into other hands—and to enable those who are partially encumbered to free themselves from their difficulties, by disposing of part 333 of their landed property. Until this be effected; until the soil of Ireland be held by a clear and marketable title; until the owners be enabled to sell the whole or any part of their property without the ruinous delays and the heavy costs which now prevent them; until the creditors of a landowner have those facilities for enforcing payment of their debts by the sale of his property, to which justice entitles them; we are compelled thus publicly to state our decided conviction, that it is in vain to hope that Ireland can raise itself from a state of poverty and degradation. The potato may grow again, and by its assistance our country may be enabled to escape from the immediate pressure of its difficulties; but without those changes of the laws relating to the tenure and conveyance of land, which shall open a free scope for the employment of its capital and its industry, and give ample security to the cultivators of the soil, we cannot hope for general and permanent improvement. An enormous amount of money has been raised to relieve us. It will be useless unless free scope is given to the energies of the country. The partial remedies which have been applied have served but to tighten the net which trammels the exertions of the great mass of the population. Measures of a much more decided character are necessary to produce any permanently useful effect. The situation of the country is daily becoming worse. There is no time to lose, if those now suffering are to be saved. Money must still be advanced for temporary purposes, during the interval which will elapse before efficient measures can be brought into general and active operation. But our paramount want is not money; it is the removal of those legal difficulties which prevent the capital of Ireland from being applied to the improved cultivation of its soil, and thus supporting its poor by the wages of honest and useful labour.Such was the opinion of that excellent society. They contended that all the grants proposed by Government would be productive of no permanent benefit unless accompanied by other measures for giving security to the tenant farmers. There were large tracts of cultivatable land in Ireland now living waste. The Government should take them up, and give instant employment to the people, and not leave that duty to be discharged by the landlords. He would direct the attention of the Government also to the plan proposed by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, which he believed to be in many respects practicable. At all events, unless something were immediately done, thousands of the poor in Ireland would die, and the responsibility would fall upon the Government and the Legislature. They must, when dealing with Ireland, depart from those economical principles which might be applicable to England. Ireland was a country which required to be dealt with in a very different manner. He approved of the present proposition of the Government, and should give it his sup- 334 port; but he warned the House against considering it as excusing them from the adoption of other measures of improvement for Ireland.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
did not think it advisable to enter upon the discussion as to whether some other mode of applying the public money for the improvement of Ireland might not be adopted. He thought it much more convenient to consider this additional advance to be made on the same terms, and applied to the same objects, to which the former grants had been made applicable. He would take this opportunity of referring to a statement which was made the other night by the hon. Member for Shropshire in reference to the expenditure for certain works performed on his estate in the country of Leitrim. The observation of the hon. Member on that occasion did not apply to either of the Bills under which he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) proposed to make this additional advance. The works to which the hon. Member referred were done under what was called Mr. Labouchere's letter, which was a modification of the Relief Bill. According to the provisions of that Bill, the labourers were selected and paid by the relief committee, and the work was conducted under the superintendence either of the landlord (the hon. Gentleman himself in this instance) or his agent; and if they had taken part on the relief committee, in all probability the work would not have cost them more than had been expended on other works. It turned out that the overseer appointed by the relief committee was a small shopkeeper, and wholly incompetent to discharge the duty required of him. The inspector of the works remonstrated against his being employed; but the relief committee retained him until the officer of the Board of Works found that gentleman sitting down quietly under a hedge with all his labourers about him. If from the negligence and carelessness of the landed proprietors of Ireland these works were not efficiently and economically performed, the Board of Works could not be considered responsible, who had no power to control the relief committees, with whom rested the power to carry out the provisions of the Relief Bill.
§ MR. O. GORE
said, the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct in saying that the work in question was done under Mr. Labouchere's letter, and was arranged altogether without the knowledge of his (Mr.- 335 O. Gore's) agent. No notice was given of the intention to work on the estate. The first intimation that the agent had of it, was a demand, on the part of the Government, for the sum of 200l., being at the rate of 32l. an acre for drainage. That was one case; hut he had now two other cases to mention. In the county of Westmeath 150l. had been demanded for draining nine acres and a half of land; and since he had come down to the House he had received a letter from the county of Sligo, in which the writer mentioned a case where arterial drainage was attempted under Mr. Labouchere's letter, but was never finished, the subdrain never having been closed, and that if the work had been finished it would only have drained about three-quarters of an acre. The sum paid for this was about 24l. The writer stated that it ought to have been done for 4l., or less. But—Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat—the Whigs are determined to ruin Ireland. Drainage, the writer observed, was the first step to be taken in a country requiring improvement so much as Ireland did; but it should be done economically, and not, as it was now done, wastefully, by keeping in pay a horde of incapables. He (Mr. O. Gore) agreed with the writer when he said that there was plenty of money in Ireland. Doubtless, portions of Ireland were very much distressed, but there was plenty of money there; and, as the hon. Member for Rochdale had said, Ireland did not want the assistance of England if Parliament would only give them fair play. The writer went on to say, that the localities for arterial drainage by the Board of Works had often been ill selected and worse engineered. The estimate made of the cost for common drainage in the county of Westmeath would have been ample but for the mismanagement of the officers of the board. Although the drainage had not reached three-quarters of the distance it was intended to go, yet the landlords whose property it did not reach had been compelled to pay their proportion of the expense. Now, if the Government undertook to perform works of improvement in Ireland, they should consider themselves to be placed in the same position as a common contractor would be, and they should be bound to carry out their work or receive no pay.
MR. SHAFTO ADAIR
had had considerable experience of the operations per-formed under Mr. Labouchere's most admirable modification of the Labour Act; 336 and he, certainly, could not concur with the hon. Member for Shropshire in the censure which he had passed upon what had been done for the improvement of Ireland under that measure. He thought the country ought to feel exceedingly indebted to the Government for this additional grant. He believed it would be of the greatest possible use, by extending in Ireland a knowledge of the means of improving that country by introducing neat and correct work on the land.
§ MR. P. FRENCH
could not anticipate any real advantage from either of these measures. He also called attention to the fact, that in every instance the Board of Works had materially exceeded the sums which had been agreed by the parties should be expended in these works, and contended that some control should be placed on the Board, and that they should not be left, as they now were, both the planners and paymasters of the improvements carried out under the advance. He considered that, owing to the peculiar circumstance of the districts which this Bill was designed to assist, that it would be, so far as they were concerned, inoperative. In the eastern and northern districts the proprietors would, no doubt, be most anxious to obtain the advantages which it offered; but it would not be so in the southern and western districts, where the landlords would scarcely be willing to involve themselves still farther than they were already. He objected to the Bill, because it would neither meet present purposes nor lay the foundation of future improvement. He believed that no sum of money which might be necessary to raise the condition, of the people of Ireland to an equality with themselves, would be grudged by the English people. What was required in the southern and western districts was railways to convey their produce to the markets. An advance of a million would open up four main trunk lines; and while it would do more, perhaps, than anything else towards future prosperity, it might be advanced under the most perfect security for repayment. He hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would turn his attention, still further than he had done, to the condition of Ireland. The evidence before the Lords' Committee showed that in Connaught alone, there were 50,000 acres of the best land lying waste, the value of the produce of which, if brought into cultivation, had been estimated at not less than 2,500,00l This was a subject 337 which should not escape notice by Ministers, when considering measures for providing employment for the people, and for the future prosperity of the country.
§ MR. HORSMAN
observed, that after the large sums which had been already advanced, it was probable that this extra half million would not do much harm to England, neither, seeing the large sums which had been wasted in Ireland, was it likely to do much good to that country. He concurred with the last speaker, that the Bill was not likely to be useful, either for present purposes or as laying the foundation of future improvement. But measures unimportant in themselves might be important in the principles involved in them; and in this case the House should consider whether this Bill was not the mere continuation of that blind, inconsistent, and ruinous system of tiding over difficulties for the moment, without caring for the future, which had been so long followed, or whether it was a part of a new and wiser system of policy. From the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the other night, he concluded that the Bill was of the former character. And that speech had gone far to confirm his fears that this new loan was of the same character, and would follow the same course as many others that had gone before it, and that it would go into that bottomless pit in which they had sunk. Ireland had larger claims probably on this country (suffering as she was at this time) than any efforts of ours could meet, And he believed that such was the feeling of the English people, that there were no efforts of humanity in their power which they were not prepared to make on behalf of their suffering fellow-subjects in the sister country. At the same time he could not admit that in considering this question, Parliament should throw over economical principles altogether. The system of loans began to be regarded in England as pernicious in principle and in its results, and as tending to create feelings of disaffection and alienation between the two countries. He did not conceive that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's arguments were at all satisfactory when compared with the facts as they stood. The right hon. Gentleman had said that having succeeded in arresting the progress of famine and preserving life by the former advance, now they should proceed to measures of permanent improvement. But if the measures of improvement were not to be more successful than those for the pre- 338 servation of life had been, neither Government nor the House would have much reason to congratulate themselves. Let them look to the accounts of the mortality in Ireland, as they appeared in the public papers and in private letters. It was true that no official returns had been presented to Parliament, showing the mortality and disease which prevailed in Ireland; but there was not an hon. Gentleman in that House who was ignorant of the fact that the most alarming and shocking state of things existed in that country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was true, drew rather a cheering picture of Irish affairs. From his speech one would suppose that the worst had passed—that there were un-mistakeable signs of improvement—that mortality and disease had at least abated—that we had turned the corner there. But what were the facts? The very morning after the right hon. Gentleman made his speech, statements appeared in the London newspapers, which gave a most fearful picture of the state of the people in Connemara, Ballinrobe, and Ken-mare. [The hon. Member here read extracts from a letter in a London morning newspaper, which gave a frightful account of the condition of these districts.] And it appears that the mortality in the workhouse of Fermoy for the last four months has been as follows:—
|1849, January, 31 days||208||deaths.|
|February, 28 days||352||deaths.|
|March, 31 days||315||deaths.|
|April, for 28 post days||350||deaths.|
|Total for four months||1,225||deaths.|
The practical instructions sent out by the Agricultural Society, in accordance with Lord Clarendon's letter, give the following picture of a western county:—
The country is in a most deplorable condition—farm-houses are everywhere deserted, the land attached to them has become waste, and a regular commonage enjoyed by those who have survived the dreadful ordeal of the last four years. The central and three auxiliary workhouses are overstocked, whilst many of the recipients of outdoor relief have located themselves in the now doorless and roofless habitations, and have become the nocturnal plunderers and terror of the country, disdaining to work for ordinary wages, so long as they receive public charity and relief.
From Galway West, Mr. M. Bole writes—
I proceeded towards Spiddal, and found the farmers along the coast making great efforts to plant the potato. I asked many of them what they would do if the potato crop should fail this season; and the universal reply was—If the potatoes fail this year, we have nothing to do but to lie down and die,'
The condition of the west is thus described in a newspaper of the present month:—
In Ballinrobe workhouse the deaths for the week, have been one hundred and forty-six; and the Mayo Constitution states, that 'upwards of four hundred paupers have absconded, preferring to die by the way side to becoming victims of disease in that charnel house.' Cholera is on the increase in Ballinrobe and the surrounding villages. Outside the workhouses the deaths from starvation are increasing. The same Mayo paper complains of what it terms 'more pauper slaughter,' in the Westport union, owing to the alleged criminal negligence of some persons connected with the administration of outdoor relief. In one case of this description, after an inquest, the relieving officer has been committed to abide his trial.
The Rev. James Anderson, Protestant rector of Ballinrobe, in another letter to Lord John Russell, describing the destitution of the peasantry, says, 'They are dropping into their graves in multitudes.'
§ And those appalling statements were confirmed by the accounts they every day received. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire stated a few evenings ago, that a correspondent of his in Ireland wrote to him to say, that in travelling along the road he was obliged to stop his gig five times, so that the dead and dying might be removed. Now Government had asked Parliament to advance money, in order to preserve the lives of the people—the grants were assented to on that principle—had not Parliament a right to expect that the purposes of those grants would be accomplished? If they were insufficient, why did not the Government ask for more? If they were sufficient, how did it come to pass that the people were dying of starvation in the public highways? There must be either gross miscalculation or gross mismanagement. The people were dying of starvation, he repeated. On whom did this awful responsibility rest? Not upon the poor-law guardians or proprietors in Ireland, for they had been unceasing in making representations upon the subject—not upon the Parliament of England, because Parliament had assented to every request that had been made, and had been told that the grants would suffice for staving off the temporary distress; and if, because the Government had refrained from asking for sufficient funds in order to save themselves from the embarrassment which arose from doing so—if, in consequence of this, multitudes of the poor were being carried off by cruel and lingering deaths, and the rest were falling into a state which was shocking to humanity and disgraceful to civilisation and religion, the responsibility of these results must surely rest some- 340 where, and a more serious and grave responsibility he could scarcely imagine. He did not think, therefore, that the first duty of Government to save human life had been satisfactorily accomplished. One would have thought, to have heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday night, that Ireland had passed its worst, and that better times were close at hand. But unfortunately the evidence of Colonel Knox Gore, and the reports of Captain Hamilton, and even Mr. Bourke (whom the right hon. Gentleman had quoted on that occasion), were calculated to lead to a different conclusion. With respect to Ballina, it was stated that there was a debt of 68,000l.; that no less than eighteen estates were in the hands of receivers; that there was not one landlord receiving rent: that a majority of them were ruined; that almost every magistrate had ceased to sit on the bench, and was either confined to his own house or in prison; that not a tenant could be got to take a farm; that no landlord would take a loan for improvement; and that it was impossible to have an improvement in that union without a change of proprietors. Now, these were all permanent, not temporary, causes of depression; and yet in these circumstances the House was invited to assent to a loan in order to assist proprietors who, as Captain Hamilton had said, would not take a loan, and that he himself had suffered from taking one on a previous occasion, because he could not get persons to take the land which he had reclaimed by means of it. He must say that, seeing that all these were not temporary but permanent causes of depression, it was idle for any one to write from Ireland, or to state in that House that there was any prospect of improvement for Ireland, while those causes were not only not removed, but were being aggravated from week to week. To do so was, in his opinion, to dwell upon a superficial and delusive prospect; and only showed that the real circumstances of Ireland had not been carefully considered, and that the real wants of Ireland were imperfectly understood. It appeared to him, that if the evils under which Ireland was suffering were not distinctly known, it was impossible that a remedy could be pointed out; and that it was their duty, whatever measure was proposed, to compare that measure with the evil which it professed to remedy, to examine the relation between the malady and the cure, and by that means to test every measure, whether it was 341 large or whether it was insignificant in its character. He asked, then, what, in the case before them, was the real evil to be cured? In the present circumstances of Ireland, they had to aim, in the first instance, at the immediate preservation of life; in the second place, at the restoration of healthful agricultural relations; and, in the third place, at the establishment of feelings of sympathy and confidence between the people of the two countries. He asked whether any of these objects could be at all achieved by the measure before them? Certainly, it could not affect the immediate preservation of life, because the object of the loans was to employ the able-bodied labourer, and not to support those who were reduced to destitution, and were almost in the last stage of existence. Neither would it establish healthful agricultural relations, because its effect must either be to give loans to the solvent proprietors, who were the few, and did not need them, or to the insolvent proprietors, whom it would be much better to compel to bring their estates into the market. It was equally incapable of establishing kindly feelings between the two countries, because the sense of the burden of taxation dissatisfied the one, and the sense of obligation irritated the other. He looked at the measures introduced by Government, and regretted to say that none of those measures had been carried out. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that legislation could not give to the Irish people habits of industry, energy, or self-reliance. His reply was, that Government could not do all this, but it could do much to promote those qualities. They could not legislate to make men walk whose feet were tied, nor to make men eat who were unable to get food, but they could by legislation loosen the fetters of the one, and cheapen the food of the other. Ireland was an agricultural country, and measures ought to be at once taken to make the transfer of land easy, to simplify the complexity of tenure, and to give security to the capitalist for his investment. An amendment—a thorough and searching amendment—of the laws was much more needed than a system of loans, which perpetuated pauperism, diminished self-reliance, and were calculated to protract a system cumbersome, rotten, and delusive. He did not say a word against the amount of the grant; on the contrary, he would be ready to vote much more; but then it must be upon some clear principle, and in order to carry out some 342 well-defined and comprehensive scheme. He confessed he was deeply impressed with the condition of Ireland. The emergency was too great, and the opportunity too vast, to be neglected. They wanted another, a very different line of policy—they wanted a fresh system, not one of small measures, of makeshifts and expediency, but a system conceived in the spirit of a statesman, and carried out with earnestness and vigour. By the adoption of such measures, he believed Ireland might yet be saved; in the want of them, he saw nothing but continued misery and degradation to Ireland, and ultimate ruin to this country also.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that it was with considerable surprise he had listened to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. And he was somewhat astonished to find, that whilst he said "those were the grounds upon which he opposed the Bill before the House," he had not concluded by moving as an Amendment that it be read a second time that day six months. He (Sir G. Grey) did not think it was a question which the House could treat with indifference. If he thought that the sum of 500,000l., the loan of which would be authorised by the Bill, was to be thrown away, or wasted, he could not, as a representative of the people, sit there and not enter his protest against such a waste. But he should call attention to some of the facts stated by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the House—facts which the hon. Gentleman had altogether overlooked. His right hon. Friend, in the statement which he had made as to the grounds upon which the Bill was founded, mentioned, and satisfied the House (although, as it appeared, he had not satisfied the hon. Gentleman) that the money already advanced by Parliament to England, Scotland, and Ireland, by way of loans, for the improvement of the soil of the country, had acted most beneficially in increasing its productiveness, in giving employment to many of the people who would otherwise have been unemployed, and in increasing the general wealth of the State, and that it was not money thrown away. It had proved beneficial to those upon whose estates it had been laid out, and its repayment had been secured; and although, from the 2,000,000l. which had been advanced to England and Scotland the advantages expected to be derived had been already, to a great extent, realised, they had not yet seen the 343 whole of the results. But his right hon. Friend had also stated, that, under the advances made by Parliament, 20,000 able-bodied men, representing 100,000 families in Ireland, were now industriously exerting themselves for the support of their families, and these loans were secured by being charged upon the estates without any risk of loss to the State; he meant without risk of any important loss. He did not mean to say that a few pounds might not be lost; as, for instance, in reply to a question put the other night, his right hon. Friend had stated, that up to October last the only arrear remaining due from a former loan was a balance of 53l. That was the only answer he should give to the sneers of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cockermouth, about throwing money into a bottomless gulf. But the hon. Gentleman had spoken in great ignorance of the facts of the case. He went into considerations about the result of lending to solvent or insolvent proprietors, as if he thought that the security for the loan was to be personal security—the personal security of insolvents, instead of being a charge upon the land. But the real fact was, that the land was held responsible, and it would become forfeited if the loan were not repaid. So that they had the best possible security for the money, and one that would be perfectly available for the purposes of the Act. As to the observations of Captain Hamilton, they were merely founded upon a superficial view of the district. He (Sir G. Grey) did not know whether in the union of Ballina any proprietors had applied for loans under the Act; but he knew that in the west of Ireland there were several proprietors who had applied for loans for the purpose of improving their estates and employing the people. The object of the present Bill was to enable landed proprietors to obtain loans by which they could at once improve their estates and employ the people. The hon. Gentleman condemned the present measure and said that other means should be employed to meet the exigencies of the case. But other means had been employed, means which the hon. Gentleman ridiculed, in aid of the rates, in order that relief might he afforded to these poor people, and that the progress of poverty and destitution might be arrested. He would not follow the hon. Gentleman through his speech, or into any of the various subjects upon which he had assailed the measures of the Government. The hon. Gentleman seemed to be quite 344 unmindful or ignorant that by that speech he was delaying the progress of another measure belonging to the very class which he said ought to be introduced. He seemed not to know the nature of the next Bill upon the Orders of the Day, that was to come before the House, or that it was one for the better enabling people to dispose of incumbered estates. The hon. Gentleman was quite wrong in thinking that his right hon. Friend thought or said that legislation could do nothing for Ireland. What he said was, that legislation could not do everything. He said that the great work should be done by the resident proprietors themselves. He (Sir G. Grey) would not go any further into the subjects touched upon by the hon. Gentleman, as he did not wish to delay the House from the consideration of the next measure that was before them. Much of what the hon. Gentleman uttered against the Bill was not applicable to what his right hon. Friend had said, and it certainly did not redound very much to the hon. Gentleman's character for fairness. Utterly condemning, as he (Sir G. Grey) did, the want of fairness in the hon. Gentleman's speech, he could have wished that he had concluded it with an amendment, upon which the House might have had an opportunity of recording its opinion. He did not, however, regret his not having done so, as it would have occupied a good deal of time, and delayed them from the consideration of the Incumbered Estates Bill.
§ MR. HORSMAN
explained. He had quoted from Captain Hamilton, because he was a Government inspector and a proprietor of land in the Ballina union. And he had said that he was unable to let one inch of the land he had reclaimed, and that he was convinced not one single proprietor in Ballina would take a sixpence of the Government loan.
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.