HC Deb 08 April 1851 vol 115 cc1276-97

said, he begged to move that that House should resolve itself into a Committee, to take into consideration the state of Ireland. In doing so he would attempt to describe the distressed condition of the great majority of the people of Ireland, and would compare her condition in 1845 with her condition at the present moment. He took 1845, because it was immediately after that year that the three great causes to which he attributed the present distressed condition of Ireland had occurred. The first cause to which he alluded was the famine, the second was the change in the corn laws, and the third was the disastrous poor-law which had been inflicted in 1846. To commence with the poor-law, he found that in 1845 the poor-law taxation in Ireland amounted to 310,000l., while in 1850, according to the official returns, it was 1,571,000l., being an increase of 1,261,000l. He would be told by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland, that a decrease of 90,000 had taken place in the poor-law relief list. That had been vaunted from one end of the kingdom to the other, but it was the greatest delusion ever practised on a credulous people. In 1849 the Irish Members of the House pressed on the Government the necessity of abolishing outdoor relief in Ireland by means of the workhouse test, and he (Sir H. W. Barron) moved a clause in the Poor Law Amendment Act, that all outdoor relief should cease. A discussion had taken place on the 3rd July, 1849, on his clause, and every one agreed that we ought to return to what Sir Robert Peel had told the Government was the principle of the Bill of 1837, that no outdoor relief should be given. The right hon. Secretary for Ireland then pledged himself that this principle should be adopted, and the Motion was withdrawn. That pledge had certainly been kept: the Poor Law Commissioners had instructed the boards of guardians in Ireland to put the workhouse test to the whole of the paupers on the list, which caused the decrease of upwards of 90,000 paupers. In every instance in which the test had been applied the relief list had been reduced. In one of the Dublin unions there were 17,000 paupers on the outdoor relief list; the test of the workhouse was applied, and in six weeks only 400 out of that number were found to take the test. In the union of Waterford, he had obtained his information from the master of the workhouse; in July, 1849, there were 2,500 persons on the outdoor relief list, only 200 of whom had taken the test. He therefore asserted, that the reduction of the outdoor relief lists was to proof of the reduction of pauperism. It simply showed that great fraud was practised before the test was applied. There were 191,000 on the indoor lists in 1848; in 1849 there were 194,000; and in 1850 197,000, thus showing a considerable increase in the number of paupers. He would now look at the state of the workhouses in his own district. In Waterford, on the 1st February, 1850, there were 2,540 persons in the workhouses; and on the 1st February, 1851, there were 2,798. In Kilkenny, on the 1st February, 1850, there were 2,98G paupers in the workhouses; and on the 1st February, 1851, there were 4,120. In Cork there was an increase of 141 persons during the same period. The pauperism of the country was thus increasing instead of decreasing. The master of the Waterford workhouse stated that in May, 1849, there were 1,128 persons on the outdoor relief list; but if the families of those persons were included, it would increase the number to 2,548. The county rate had increased in 1845, to from 149,132l.; to 351,000l. Thus making an increase of taxation—poor-law, 1,261,000l.; county rate, 201,868l.; total, 1,460,000l. With this great increase of taxation, what was the state of the agricultural districts? He found, by Captain Larcom's tables, which reached down to the beginning of 1850, that, compared with the first year he had alluded to, there was a decrease of corn cultivation—including peas and beans—of 1,139,000 acres less in 1849 than in 1847. The taxation of the country at the same time had increased by nearly 1,500,000l., and the means of paying that taxation was from the land. Taking 6l. an acre as the average value of corn produce, that would make 6,600,000l. less in the produce of grain cultivation than in 1847. Then the return of swine imported into England from Ireland showed a diminution of 1,000,000l. less than in 1845, which, together with the decrease of 500,000l. in the importation of sheep from Ireland, would make altogether upwards of 8,000,000l. less produce. How could any country go on with such a decreasing produce, and increasing taxation? These facts could not be denied. He had seen destitution surrounding him at every step—he had seen things which were never known, and could scarcely be believed by any one in this country. Every one who had looked at the effect of the Encumbered Estates Bill, would see how landed property had diminished in value. In his own county alone, three estates had been sold, one of which had been sold 32 years ago at 23 years' purchase. It had now been sold for little more than 12 years' purchase. Land sold in 1845 for 24 years' purchase, was now sold, according to the average rate of the Commissioners of Encumbered Estates, for 14 years' purchase, sometimes even loss than nine. Land in Ireland was let at a rate 30 per cent cheaper than in this country. Frown his own experience as a landowner and as a farmer on an extensive scale, he could say that land in Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire, and Kent, with which counties he was familiar, was let 30 per cent higher than in Ireland. The reason why land was selling at so low a price in Ireland was the bad legislation of that House, which had glutted the market at a time of extreme depreciation. But did all these circumstances affect land only? They affected all the towns with which he was acquainted. For instance, household property in the city which he had the honour of representing (Waterford), had fallen 40 per cent, and there was 5,000l. per annum of rateable property in that city uninhabited. Trade had vanished, and the shopkeepers were all but bankrupt. The labourers had either emigrated, or were in the poorhouse. He asked for investigation into these facts—he challenged inquiry, for he was certain that he could prove them. He had lately seen a letter from Dr. Murray, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, in which he stated, in answer to a letter which had been addressed to him by a clergyman, asking, whether a collection should be made in his chapel for the proposed Roman Catholic university— In the present impoverished condition of our city (Dublin)—while our charitable institutions of prime necessity are, as you well know, languishing for want of adequate support—when the very rent which is duo for your parochial house has not, from the decayed state of the parish, been yet collected, I cannot bring myself to call on the poor labourer and the struggling shopkeeper for a collection on their entrance into their place of worship. This, he thought, was pretty strong evidence of the distress which prevailed in the metropolis of Ireland. He was not very fond of quoting from newspapers; but there was a passage from the Dublin Evening Post—a great free-trade paper, and which, he believed, was the only paper in Ireland patronised by the Government—a paper whose constant cry had been, that the Irish landlords were the greatest tyrants in the world. The article began in the usually flippant style of that paper, and then proceeded as follows:— If the Papal Aggression Bill were abandoned, there would still remain agricultural distress. This is an evil, and a most formidable evil, for which there seems no hope of remedy. Still we hold it to be our duty to publish accounts of this distress, and to force the well-grounded complaints of the Irish landowner and farmer on the attention of the public. The exhausting effects of famine and its inordinate taxation have left the Irish farmer helpless in the struggle to hold his position against still deficient crops and unremunerative prices. He found that, even in his own district, at the present moment, a sum of 1,800l. was outstanding for poor-rates; and the collector said, that he should be obliged to seize, in order to levy that large amount. It was also a further proof of distress, that, in all large towns of Ireland, the number of coaches and vehicles had diminished in a most remarkable manner. In Waterford formerly, there was kept 40 pairs of coach-horses, now there are only 16 pairs. Formerly there were two steamers running between Waterford and Bristol; one had already ceased running, and the other was about to be taken off. He thought that the condition of a country which was suffering under this state of distress, ought to command the attention of Parliament. Every class—and no class so much as the labouring class—was reduced at this moment to the lowest state of misery and distress. He would now read an extract from a letter from a gentleman in Ireland who was a Whig, and who had made large sacrifices for the Whig party in Ireland. That gentleman said— The resignation of Ministers has been received here, and I regret to say that it has been received with universal satisfaction. The Whigs have been very unfortunate in the government of Ireland. Trade is smashed, the landlords ruined, the towns broken, and the labourer in the poor-house. Those of the people who have the means left are flying out of the kingdom by parishes. To this complexion has it come at last, that the Irish nation is totally wrecked, and left to be devoured by its own paupers. The cities, the towns, the villages, are half deserted; nearly all the peasants' cottages are levelled to the ground, and their former inhabitants wandering about the country as beggars or thieves. Such is the multitude of these strollers, that the farmers cannot sleep at night, lest their houses should be broken into and robbed. The spring emigration has commenced by 700 persons leaving this port on yesterday. This subject of emigration proved, more than anything else, the miserable condition of Ireland. What alarmed him most was, that it was not the pauper that was going; but the man who had some money was getting together his means, and leaving a country in which he could no longer gain a livelihood. He agreed entirely in what Lord Stanley said to his friends the other night, that— Can it be a mark of the prosperity of a country when tens of thousands of industrious men, women, and children, are collecting together the wreck of their fortunes, and flying from penury and distress at home, and carrying with them what they have been able to save out of their diminished capital and property, to enrich, not our own colonial possessions, but foreign countries, with their industry and capital, and, in too many cases, their blighted affections also. Those people would not forget that it was bad laws which had driven them from the land of their birth. He believed that nothing but extreme misery would drive an Irishman away from his native land. Let him observe that it was one most remarkable feature connected with these poor people, that they send large remittances to relieve their unfortunate families at home. He had known some of them to send back 9l. or 10l. in as many months, who left Ireland without a single shilling beyond the expense of paying their passage to New York or some other American port. However they might abuse the Irish nation in that House and in the newspapers, he would say that there was not a better peasantry on the face of the earth than the Irish peasantry; and that fact—which he now stated with respect to these remittances for the relief of their unfortunate relatives and friends at home—was worth whole volumes of eulogies. As to criminal offences, these had fearfully increased in Ireland. In 1845, the number of criminal offences against property without violence was 5,686; in 1849, the number had increased to 23,179—more than fourfold in five years. When he looked at the latest Customs returns, received yesterday, he found that there had been a falling-off in the Customs receipts in Ireland, this year, of 37,000l. When he inquired into the condition of the circulating medium in Ireland, he found that, in the last month alone, there was a deficiency of not less than 131,000l. Such was the miserable, the prostrate condition of unhappy Ireland. If the House refused to take measures for remedying that misery and raising up that prostration, they would be confessing their impotence, their unfitness to govern. He called upon English legislators as men, as Members, as Christians, not to suffer Ireland to perish, while they so vaunted the prosperity of their own country. From the Treasury bench the name of Ireland was never heard; in the Queen's Speech distant lands, India, Canada, every thing and every place, was attended to, except Ireland; model lodging-houses for the English poor were attended to, but not starving, despairing Ireland. He should conclude by once more calling upon the English Legislature to save his unhappy country.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That this House do resolve itself into a Committee to take into consideration the state of Ireland, with a view to relieve the distress there existing.


, in seconding the Motion, said, he believed that little was known in this country of what was passing in Ireland at the present moment. He was glad that the affairs of the Kilrush Union had been brought under the notice of the country, by the letters of the Rev. Mr. Osborne, which had detailed some most frightful and heartrending scenes, and to which he would beg to direct the attention of the Government; but he thought an undeserved censure had been thrown upon the Chairman of that Union, whose exertions were most praiseworthy. There were hon. Members who spoke of the poor-rate of 11s. in the pound levied last year in that union as a poor-rate of trifling amount. But he maintained that it was an enormous amount of poor-rate, when it was considered that this was a new tax in Ireland. In the year just ended, rates of 5s., and then of 6s. in the pound, had been struck, and, since Friday last, a new rate of 4s. 6d. was announced. But this was not the strongest case. In the Tullagh Union, county of Clare, the poor-rates in the last twelve months amounted to no less than 15s. 6d. in the pound. The tendency of these high rates was to drive farmers out of the parish. Whole electoral divisions became desolate under the operation of such rates; the landlords had to pay the rates, and had to get a new set of farmers. This had happened in several cases within his own knowledge. The estimates made within the electoral divisions for the future maintenance of the poor, also deserved notice. He would not speak of two or three years ago, when the estimated rates were 44s. in some of the electoral divisions in the county of Clare. In one of the electoral unions of the county of Clare, the estimated poor-rate necessary for the present year was 16s. 10d. He saw, by a letter from Lord Dunsandle, chairman of the Loughrea Union, county of Galway, that in some of the electoral divisions of that union the estimate was 20s. in the pound for the coming year. The hon. Member for Kerry said the other night that the estimate for the union of Kenmare was 26s. in the pound for the ensuing twelve months. Now, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Sir W. Somerville) had the rate in aid and 68,000l. in hand to give to these distressed unions. But how would he proceed when that rate was expended? Then as to the crowding of the gaols. In the county of Clare there was a gaol built for 180 persons that had 600 in it. The cost of this gaol ten years ago was 1,500l., this year it was 6,000l. The poorhouses in the county of Clare were crammed to overflowing; one contained 5,000 inmates, another 4,000, and another in the union of which he was chairman had 3,000 inmates. Altogether 20,000 persons were shut up in the workhouses in that county. In the city of Limerick there were 7,000 in the workhouse. He need say nothing of the immorality caused by the congregation of such numbers, or of the cruel separation of families. He believed it would be far better to give outdoor relief; but the impositions practised by the applicants for relief, and the want of firmness on the part of those who managed the Poor Law, rendered it impossible to give outdoor relief without the liability to constant and wholesale impositions. The extent to which this imposition had been carried had driven them (the Irish Members) to press it upon the Government that no outdoor relief should be granted, but that the workhouse test should be adopted. He thought it would have been better if the Government had thrown their weight into the local administration of the law instead of weakening it. The indoor test need never have been resorted to if the Government had given to the people of Ireland the power of administering the law without the interference of the Poor Law Commissioners, whose expenses last year amounted to 17.000l. He trusted the House would grant the Committee, because he believed that facts would be unfolded with which the public were little acquainted.


said, the hon. Baronet who introduced this Motion had done so in a somewhat ingenious manner. He commenced by fixing on a period from which he said be would start, and by stating that between that period and the present he intended to make a comparison, and to draw the conclusion which he wished to offer to the House. The hon. Baronet stated that he attributed the present distress to the famine, to the repeal of the corn laws, and to the poor-laws. After stating that opinion, however, he commenced an attack on the poor-laws, and from the general tenor of his speech it was not difficult to observe that the Hon. Baronet attributedt he whole distress to those laws. [Sir H. W. BARRON: No, no!] He (Sir W. Somerville) would not now dwell on what was the condition of Ireland in 1845; but to hear the hon. Baronet, they would have supposed that it was then in a state of perfect prosperity—but on that point he need only refer to his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Hamilton), to the hon Member for the city of Londonderry (Sir R. Ferguson), and to the other Members of Lord Devon's Commission who had framed that Report and collected that evidence, which showed what in 1845 was the condition of the Irish people, and particularly of the labouring population. The period at which the hon. Baronet had commenced his comparison, was, in the opinion of the Devon Commission, that in which the position of the labouring population was everything that was miserable, wretched, and degraded. The hon. Baronet drew a comparison between the poor-rates levied in 1845 and those made in 1851; but he omitted the intermediate periods, the fact being that there were 80,000 or 90,000 paupers less now than there were then. He held in his hand a return, for which he had moved in the beginning of the present Session, giving the expenses of the poor-law. This return did not begin in 1845, but was confined to the three last years, which would show whether the expenses of the poor-law had increased or decreased in that period, and, whether the number of paupers had also increased or decreased. The ordinary expenses for all Ireland under the poor-law during the quarter ending the 31st of December, 1848, were 425,045l.; 1849, 302,976l.; 1850, 247,271l. Now, he would not say, after reading this return, that Ireland was in a state of prosperity, but some progress in improvement had at any rate been made during the last two or three years; and the comparison made by the hon. Baronet was shown to be most unfair, and only calculated to mislead the House. The total number of paupers on the relief lists at the close of the quarter ended December 31, was, in 1848, 585,106; 1849, 290,015; 1850, 200,533. He could not attempt to prove upon these figures that Ireland was in a state of prosperity, but he thought he was justified in asserting that there had been some amelioration in her condition, and that any comparison between the present year and 1845 was fallacious. The hon. Baronet had complained of the system of outdoor relief being put an end to by the measure of the Government, and yet, while admitting that the Poor Law Commissioners had discharged their duty well, he had visited them with his most severe censure. [Sir H. W. BARRON: No; I never said a word against them.] The hon. Baronet had referred to Captain Larcom's returns, and by some extraordinary process, such as leaving out the peas, he made out that there was a decreased quantity of land in Ireland under cultivation. Now, as he (Sir W. Somerville) read the returns, they showed an entirely different result. He had before him a return of the total extent of land under crops, and the quantities were as follows: in 1847, 5,238,575 acres; 1848, 5,108,062 acres; 1849, 5,543,748 acres.—[Sir H. W. Barron: Of what?] Of cultivated land.


The right hon. Gentleman has totally misapprehended what I said. What I stated was, that in corn—including peas and beans—according to the returns of Captain Larcom, there were, in 1847, 3,313,579 acres of land under cultivation for these crops; and, in 1849, 2,174,480 acres; leaving a decrease of 1,139,000 acres.


Yes, the hon. Baronet had picked out just such bits of Captain Larcom's returns as suited his purpose. What did it signify whether the land was laid down in corn or not, so long as it was cultivated? If the amount of green crops had increased, so much the better. What the House had to look to was the whole result, and not the quantity of peas and beans. And it was clear that the amount of cultivated land was greater in 1849 than it was in 1847 and 1848. The hon. Baronet had referred to the exports of cattle; and here again he had just taken so much of the return as suited his purpose, and no more. The hon. Baronet had confined his remarks to pigs—certainly a most valuable animal in Ireland; bat, taking oxen and cows, the exports had increased. He did not mean to say that Ireland was in a flourishing condition, but he did say that there had been some improvement within the last two years; and picking out hits of returns, as the hon. Baronet had done, was not the way to put the House in possession of the real state of affairs. Then the hon. Baronet had branched off to his own district, and quoted the county cess paid by the city of Water-ford. But the returns showed that this amount was actually less than it was some years ago. Arguments founded on returns quoted in this partial way ought not to have any weight with the House. On a former occasion the hon. Baronet had censured the Government in a letter for the introduction of a Bill, many of the clauses of which he said were copied from a Bill of his own. He could assure the hon. Baronet that not a single clause had been adopted from his Bill. The hon. Baronet had then referred to emigration as a proof of the distress in Ireland. Emigration was not a very healthy symptom; but they had had numerous Motions in that House, not for the purpose of checking, but of promoting emigration. If emigration was so great an evil, the duty of the Government would be to check, and not to promote it. On the subject of crime, he was again at issue—relying on the returns before the House—with the hon. Baronet. Comparing, not 1850 with 1845, but with 1849 and 1848, a decrease was shown; and this was the fairest test of the condition of Ireland. The returns of commitments made by the constabulary showed the following totals for the months of January and February in 1849, 1850, and 1851:—

1849. 1850. 1851.
January 1,810. 1,017 919
February 1,686. 1,124 960
These statistics were more correct, and better calculated to lead the House to a just conclusion, than those of the hon. Baronet. The hon. Baronet the Member for the county of Clare (Sir L. O'Brien), who seconded the Motion, complained that the administration of the Poor Law interfered too much with the functions of local boards. The opinion of the House generally was quite opposed to this view. It was right that every latitude should be left to local boards, and that the power of the Poor Law Commissioners should only be resorted to in cases of great emergency. The state of the Kilrush union had been referred to; but taking into account the difficulties which the guardians of that union had to contend with, the Commissioners had called for a special report from their inspector on the state of that union, which report, as soon as presented, would be laid on the table of the House. He might add that the statements of the Rev. Mr. Osborne in the public press with respect to that as well as other unions, had attracted the notice of the Commissioners, who had instructed their inspectors to report thereon; and these reports would also be laid before the House. He must state that the Poor Law Commissioners were gentlemen of as great humanity, and as anxious for the welfare of the poor, as was Mr. Osborne himself. The hon. Baronet (Sir H. W. Barron) had said that the affairs of Ireland were not cared for in that House. Now he (Sir W. Somer-ville) had just taken the trouble to make out a list of the different Commissions of Inquiry into the state of Ireland which had been issued since the year 1840. He would not go through that list, but he might state that they amounted in number to thirteen. A large number of Committees of the Houses of Lords and Commons had been appointed on matters relating to Ireland from the year 1840 to the year 1851. These Committees had embraced every conceivable subject connected with the social condition of Ireland. The number of questions they had put had amounted to many thousands, and the number of Committees had been sixty-three. Having these sixty-three Committees to refer to, his hon. Friend (Sir H. W. Barron) came forward and asked for a Committee of the whole House to consider the state of Ire- land. And what to consider? He (Sir W. Somerville) had listened with attention to the speech of the hon. Baronet, hut could not make out from that speech one single idea as to what it was into which they were to inquire. The hon. Baronet had not given them the slightest intimation as to the business of the Committee. Were they to launch out to sea, as it were, with no object in view, and allow every hon. Gentleman in the House to propose his own nostrum? He hoped the House would negative the proposal. It was only calculated to arouse false hopes which never could be satisfied. The hon. Baronet (Sir H. W. Barron) had not said what he would propose. He (Sir W. Somerville) suspected the hon. Baronet meant they should fish for some chance remedy which might turn up. The Motion was one which would do no good, if carried, but would prove eminently mischievous, and on these grounds he hoped the House would reject it. He was not by any means indisposed to do what was beneficial for Ireland, when it was proposed in a substantive and practical manner.


said, that the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Somerville) had stated that he could find no tangible proposition in the Motion of the hon. Member for Waterford (Sir H. W. Barron). He (Mr. Reynolds) had listened to the speech which the hon. Baronet had made, and he had the same fault to find. But he could not forget, and the House could not forget, that the right hon. Secretary for Ireland had informed them that thirteen Committees had sat on the affairs of Ireland. [Sir W. SOMERVILLE: Sixty-three.] He thanked his right hon. Friend for having multiplied it by eleven. [Laughter.] He was sorry that he was a little wrong in his multiplication. The right hon. Baronet had informed them that these sixty-three Committees had asked a certain number of questions. He had forgotten the number, and would therefore leave that matter to the right hon. Baronet. Let them ask, however, in sober seriousness what benefit these sixty-three Committees, with all their questions, had conferred on Ireland? Had they put any additional clothes on the backs of the people? Had they increased their comforts in any degree? He believed they had not in any respect improved the condition of the people. They all knew that when any grievance was to be shelved and thrown aside, the proper way of getting rid of it was to appoint a Committee, who put a certain number of questions, and made a large blue book. Now, he begged to state that it was his intention to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Waterford, but he wished to guard himself against approving of his speech. He did not wish to be bound by that speech, because, if good for anything it was good for this—to do away with the Poor Law. He was not prepared to do that. It asked them to go back to protection. He was not prepared for that. It proposed to increase the power of their landlords. He was not prepared to vote for any measure which would increase their power. His object, however, in troubling the House at all on this subject was in consequence of an observation made by his hon. Friend the Member for Clare (Sir L. O'Brien) with reference to the honoured name of a benevolent and charitable English Protestant clergyman—the Rev. Mr. Osborne. He had understood the hon. Baronet to say that the House should receive that rev. gentleman's assertions with great caution. He (Mr. Reynolds) need not say that that was more than insinuating a doubt against the rev. gentleman's veracity. Let him (Mr. Reynolds) remind the House that the Rev. Mr. Osborne, in a letter, to the Times, had offered to prove his assertions to the House, and it came with a bad grace from the hon. Member (Sir L. O'Brien) to impeach Mr. Osborne's veracity. The hon. Baronet (Sir L. O'Brien) had, however, gone further than this, and had attempted to vindicate the character of Irish landlords, and among others he believed that of Colonel Vandeleur, whom the hon. Baronet had described as a very benevolent landlord, overflowing with the milk of human kindness. He (Mr. Reynolds) had, however, the evidence of a blue book on the subject. From that book he found that in Kilrush Union within a short period prior to 1850 there had been 1,951 families whose houses had been levelled, 408 families who had been unhoused, and 341 families who had been admitted as care-takers. The gross number who had been evicted, had their houses levelled, or been adopted as care-takers was 2,359, representing a population of 12,000 persons. He found also that there had teen evicted from Colonel Vandeleur's property 185 families, representing a population of 1,001 persons. On the list from which he (Mr. Reynolds) had read the name of Colonel Vandeleur, would be found many of the guardians of Kilrush Union, many agents of guardians, many drivers of guardians, and many bailiffs of guardians. He was ashamed to say they were all Irish. [The O'GORMAN MAHON: No!] The hon. Member for Ennis said "No." [The O'GORMAN MAHON: Colonel Vandeleur is not Irish.] Well, he made the hon. Member a present of the difference. Colonel Vandeleur was what they called a transplanted Irishman. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had said that Ireland showed signs of prosperity. Where did he find the evidence of that prosperity? Manufactures had vanished from Ireland; and their commercial transactions had declined. The trade of Ireland was a mere coasting trade: she was a mere huxter-shop to England. Ireland manufactured nothing for herself, and even was compelled to import the cast-off clothing of England to supply her population. How could it be otherwise? What had that House done to improve her condition? He found nothing but Acts to suspend the constitution, and Acts to amend Poor Law Acts. He heard the hon. Baronet (Sir H. W. Barron) express his regret that the landlords had not greater power given them in the administration of the Poor Law, notwithstanding that already the unfortunate people were handed over to them bound neck and heels. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had introduced a clause into the Poor Law Act increasing the number of ex officio guardians, and making them equal to the elected guardians, though previously they were only in the proportion of 33 per cent on each board. The noble Lord also sanctioned a clause in the Poor Law Act which greatly oppressed the poor tenant. Under the old Poor Law Act the landlord was compelled to pay half the rate where the rent did not exceed the valuation; whilst at present, no matter how high the rent might he, the landlord was only called upon to pay half the rate; and in that way was much relieved. The hon. Baronet the Member for Clare (Sir L. O'Brien) had spoken of 11s. in the pound; but that meant only 5s. 6d. in the pound to the landlord, and 5s. 6d. to the tenant. He had forgotten one fact, namely, that under the old valuation the Kilrush union was valued at 68,000l. per annum, whilst under the revised valuation, it was only valued at between 40,0002l. and 45,000l. per annum. Therefore, 11s. in the pound on the new valuation was not as severe on the landlord as 5s. in the pound under the old valuation. He (Mr. Reynolds) then made this assertion, that in the Kilrush union land was let to occupying tenants at double the rent it was valued at to the relief of the poor; and yet the landlord only paid half the rate. But passing from that union, he wished to know on what grounds the Government could justify their refusal to granting this Committee. What harm could it do? One good that might be expected from it was, that the feeling expressed in that House might compel the poor-law authorities in Ireland to direct immediate attention to the mortality that was occurring in the Kilrush and Ennistymon Unions. A challenge had been thrown down by the Rev. Mr. Osborne, to send witnesses down and he would prove the accuracy of his assertions; and he hoped the challenge would be accepted by Ministers. He (Mr. Reynolds) would then desist from further observations, because he had a Motion on Mr. Speaker leaving the Chair to go into Committee of Supply, when he would draw the attention of the House to all that had occurred and was occurring in these unhappy unions; and it was also his intention to avail himself on the occasion of the facts embodied in the evidence already before the House, as also of the assistance of the Rev. Mr. Osborne, notwithstanding that he had been calumniated there that night.


thought it was a great pity that the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland had not waited to listen to the speech of the hon. Member for the city of Dublin. He would probably have seen, had he given close attention to the subject, that if they went into Committee, the fight would not be between Ministers and their opponents, but between different sections of the Irish Members; like an interpleader suit at law, the parties would not be opposed to one another, but would be against themselves. He could not help saying that there appeared to him a great deal of justice in what was said about distress in Ireland proceeding from the free-trade measures of 1846, and the Poor Law of 1847, but he thought any attempt in those directions to retrace their footsteps would be ruinous to the population of Ireland. For other reasons he was sorry that the right hon. Baronet had refused to agree to the Motion. He did believe, however, as regarded employment for labour, that the Government could do little more than afford facilities for private enterprise; and he could not help very much regretting that the orders and rules of that House interfered with those loans to railway companies, from which the best results might be anticipated. If the House would suspend its own Standing Orders, an obstruction which they created would be removed from the investment of hundreds of thousands of pounds which private capitalists were ready to embark in the construction of railways on the security which the ratepayers were ready to give. To this the Standing Orders offered an insurmountable impediment by requiring a large proportion of the capital to be paid up. By a wise departure from the strict rules of the House, he doubted not that thousands of the starving population of Ireland would obtain employment. It appeared to him that the hon. Member for the city of Waterford (Sir H. W. Barron), in the speech which he delivered that night, had spoken of the year 1845 as the year of Ireland's greatest prosperity—it at least preceded the decadence of the Irish people. The Devon Commission made their report in the beginning of 1845, after the existence of protection upon home-grown corn for thirty years, and they stated that it was impossible adequately to describe the privations endured by the cottiers and labourers, and their families, whose only food was in many districts the potato, and their only beverage water. He believed a great amount of distress now prevailed among the labouring classes in Ireland; but if he were told that to cure that distress they must go back to a fallacious system of protection, he would point to the report of this impartial commission. In giving his vote for the Motion, he protested strongly against the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for the city of Waterford, that the distresses of Ireland were to be remedied by a return to the system of protection.


said, that it was usual, when an hon. Member moved for a Committee of Inquiry, to give some information as to the causes of the evils which were deprecated, and as to the remedies which were suggested; but in this case the hon. Member for the city of Waterford had not given any such information to the House. If, however, hon. Gentlemen gave their attention to the extensive infor- mation obtained on this subject by various Commissions of Inquiry, and by Committees of that House, he thought they would be at no loss to determine what were the causes of the distress which existed in Ireland. They would find, as the result of all previous inquiries, that the main cause of the distresses of Ireland was the disordered state of the relations of Landlord and Tenant. He did not think it possible that the lives of the Irish people could have been saved during recent disastrous years, if it had not been for the repeal of the corn laws. He did not wish to resist inquiry into the distresses of Ireland, but he was desirous that that inquiry should be directed to a tangible point, and he would, therefore, move that the following words be added to the Motion of the hon. Member for Waterford:—"And more especially to consider the best means of amending the laws relating to the relationship of landlords and tenants in Ireland."


seconded the Amendment.


stated that he had no objection to the words proposed by the hon. Member for Rochdale being added to his Motion.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question— To add the words 'and more especially to consider the best means of amending the laws relating to the relationship of landlord and tenant.'

Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.


Sir, I am afraid that the House would not have any very clear or definite remedies before it if it went into a Committee of the whole House. The hon. Member for the city of Waterford (Sir H. W. Barron) proposes to go into a Committee of the whole House to consider the state of Ireland, and he refers more particularly to the famine, to the laws which admit foreign corn, and to the Poor Law in Ireland; and it appears that the hon. Member thinks, if we were to restore protection, and to repeal the Poor Law in Ireland, that we should be in a fair way for the remedy of some of the distresses of that country. Another hon. Gentleman gets up to support this Motion, but he says he would rather give greater laxity, and a more liberal system of relief—and, in fact, he would extend the limits of the Poor Law farther than it is at present. Now, I hardly think that we are likely to arrive at a correct or a satisfactory conclusion by adopting the Motion of the hon. Member for the city of Waterford. On the question of protection, the hon. Member for the city of Dublin (Mr. Reynolds) entirely opposes the views of the hon. Baronet (Sir H. W. Barron); and that of course is a question which, if gone into at all, would not have respect to Ireland only, but would have respect to the whole United Kingdom, and therefore cannot be considered with reference to Ireland alone. Then the hon. Gentleman who spoke last adds a further subject to the inquiry, and he proposes to inquire into the relation between landlord and tenant—a most important subject of inquiry—a subject on which it is most desirable to legislate; but how any Committee of the whole House would come to any accurate or satisfactory conclusion with regard to it I am at a loss to understand. I am afraid, if we went into Committee on the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, we should only find his supporters opposing everything that he had to propose, and the Committee of the whole House would find itself without any remedy whatever. With regard to the statements of my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland, he did not represent, as the hon. Member for the city of Dublin seems to imagine, the state of Ireland as a state of prosperity, but what I am sorry to say is sufficiently obvious, namely (not starting from 1845, as the hon. Member for the city of Waterford started), that Ireland, although she had not suffered the calamities she has since suffered, was in this state: that there was a population far beyond the means of employment—that wages were wretchedly low—that the abodes of the peasantry were miserable beyond those of any other country in Europe—and that their food was not that which was procured by wages, but that which they themselves raised from the ground, and almost entirely consisted of potatoes. Well, when there falls on a country so situated so dreadful a calamity as a famine, and not of one year but of succeeding years, it is but an infallible result that there should follow those dreadful scenes which we have seen—many persons driven from their homes, totally unable to pay the rent they had hitherto paid entirely from the flourishing state of their potato crops; others emigrating to distant shores, hoping there to obtain that subsistence which they could not procure at home; and a great number of persons crowding to the workhouses as the last resource, and in a state of weakness which would produce a great mortality. These are the consequences which we have seen—the consequences not of any laws of Parliament, not of any acts of Government, but the consequences of the state of society which existed in 1845, and during the dreadful famine which succeeded that year. Why, these consequences may be likened to an earthquake occuring in a city, you will find its buildings thrown down—that if a pestilence visits a country, a dreadful mortality will ensue—that if a hurricane rages, the trees and the crops will be torn up by the roots. These are not consequences, then, against which any Government or any legislation can immediately provide; they are consequences which followed from the calamities I have mentioned. Now, we find, according to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland, that, with regard to many circumstances, although Ireland cannot be described as in anything like a state of prosperity, yet there are symptoms of a less aggravated distress than that which prevailed in former years. We have seen that with regard to outdoor relief, although it has never been refused when absolutely necessary, yet it has diminished to such an extent that in the last three months of last year, I think the whole outdoor relief did not amount to a cost of 1,000l.; and since that time it has been, perhaps, about 250l. a week at the utmost. That is a symptom that there are not so many requiring relief now as in former years. Then, with regard to crime, the number of cases returned by the constabulary have considerably diminished. With respect to other circumstances, likewise, we all saw by various accounts that there are signs of the country being somewhat less distressed than in former years. That is the state of Ireland at present. It may require remedies by the Government, and by legislation, but I hardly think we are likely to find out these remedies by going into a Committee of the whole House. The hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. M. J. O'Connell) says you should relax the laws regulating the application of private capital, and he gave us the particular case of railways. Why, if that matter requires the attention of this House, let it be brought before the House as a separate question. If the Landlord and Tenant question requires the attention of Parliament, let the Government or any hon. Gentleman bring it forward; but it will hardly be a Committee of the whole House that will be able to decide upon such a measure when we have no specific plan before us; and I therefore trust the House will not adopt this Motion.


, seeing the anxiety of the House for a division, would not detain them more than a few moments. Though he doubted that the authority of Mr. S. G. Osborne would be increased by his having been taken by the hand by the hon. Member for Dublin, still he could not allow them to go to a division without expressing his dissent to that hon. Member's eulogy on Mr. Osborne, and his attack on those who, under circumstances of great difficulty, were endeavouring to carry out the provisions of the poor-law in Ireland. When that hon. Member next expatiated on the merits of this rev. gentleman, he should not forget his conduct at Ballinasloe. His strictures on the management of the workhouse of that union were not only declared by the guardians to be totally unfounded, but were contradicted by. Mr. Osborne's own written approbation of their management, entered in their book. His clerical duties would, in his (Mr. French's) opinion, be more effectually discharged by giving more of his attendance to them, instead of performing a part which seemed much to his taste, that of a newspaper correspondent. His hon. Friend the Member for Waterford had not been fairly treated in asserting that he had taken the date of 1845 as a period of prosperity for Ireland. It was necessary to take that date as a starting period, in order to show not only the present condition of that country arising from the famine (the effects of which he fully admitted), but also to show how it had been aggravated by the course of legislation which had been adopted. Poor-law extension, to which he might add the Incumbered Estates Act, and other Acts equally fatal to the interests of Ireland, were heaped over each other: a policy exactly the reverse of that pursued towards England whenever difficulties of a similar nature had overtaken her. His right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland had stated that there was nothing new in the present aspect of affairs in Ireland, or differing from other periods in which similar inquiries, had been moved for. He must admit that the intensity of distress was much greater now, and that every interest in Ireland was suffering under it; there was, however, a new feature at present, in the depopulation of the country, which was proceeding rapidly, but of which Ministers seemed to think of lightly. It was, however, a feature well worthy the consideration of England, when the consequences of Irish emigration at former periods of her history were weighed. Let them remember the consequences as shown at Fontenoy—let them remember the recapture of Cremona from the Prince Eugene in person—let them remember that America was lost to this country by the check given by the Ulster emigrants at the lines of Pennsylvania—let them remember that in the late war with that country the veteran troops of England, flushed with their success in the Peninsula, were met on terms of equal issue by raw levies of Irishmen—let them remember that the republic of Mexico fell before an army, nine-tenths of whom were Irish—and let them understand that the United States were conquering, and would conquer, the entire of the new world, through the instrumentality of those whose departure was viewed with indifference.


rose to reply. He denied both what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, and what the noble Lord at the head of the Government had said, and also what the hon. Member for the city of Dublin, he believed, had said, namely, that he (Sir H. Barron) had stated in his speech that he wished to have the Poor Law repealed. He had stated nothing of the kind, or in the remotest degree leading to it. He had objected to the outdoor system of relief, and had alluded to nothing else. It had also been alleged by both the noble Lord and the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, and he believed by the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. M. J. O'Connell), that he (Sir H. Barron) had proposed in his speech that they should return to the old system of protection. He had never said anything of the kind. He had left the House to draw their own inferences. He had purposely avoided proposing any remedy, because it was not the time. But let them go into Committee, and he would be prepared then to do so.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 138: Majority 9.

List of the Ayes.
Anstey, T. C. Higgins, G. G. O.
Arkwright, G. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Bagge, W. Hill, Lord E.
Bagot, hon. W. Hodgson, W. N.
Baillie, H. J. Jones, Capt.
Baird, J. Keating, R.
Baldock, E. H. Keogh, W.
Bankes, G. Knightley, Sir C.
Barrow, W. H. Knox, Col.
Bateson, T. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Bentinck, Lord H. Lockhart, W.
Beresford, W. Mackenzie, W. F.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Bernard, Visct. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Blake, M. J. Magan, W. H.
Blandford, Marq. of Meagher, T.
Blewitt, R. J. Mahon, The O'Gorman
Boldero, H. G. Mandeville, Visct.
Bremridge, R. Maunsell, T. P.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Meux, Sir H.
Bruce, C. L. C. Monsell, W.
Bruen, Col. Moore, G. H.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Mullings, J. R.
Burghley, Lord Naas, Lord
Burke, Sir T. J. Napier J.
Castlereagh, Visct. Neeld, J.
Chichester, Lord J. Neeld, J.
Christopher, R. A. Newdegate, C. N.
Clive, H. B. Newport, Visct.
Cobbold, J. C. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Colville, C. R. Nugent, Sir P.
Corbally, M. E. O'Brien, J.
Crawford, W. S. O'Brien, Sir L.
Devereux, J. T. O'Brien, Sir T.
Disraeli, B. O'Connell, J.
Dod, J. W. O'Connell, M. J.
Dancombe, hon. A. O'Flaherty, A.
Dundas, G. Packe, C. W.
Dunne, Col. Palmer, R.
Du Pre, C. G. Ponsonby, hon. C. F. A. C
Edwards, H. Portal, M.
Fagan, W. Repton, G. W. J.
Farnham, E. B. Sadleir, J.
Farrer, J. Scully, F.
Floyer, J. Sibthorp, Col.
Forbes, W. Spooner, R.
Forester, hon. G. C. W Stafford, A.
Fox, S. W. L. Stanford, J. F.
French, F. Stanley, E.
Frewen, C. H. Stanley, hon. E. H.
Fuller, A. E. Stuart, H.
Gaskell, J. M. Sullivan, M.
Gilpin, Col. Taylor, T. E.
Gooch, E. S. Tenison, E. K.
Goold, W. Thompson, Ald.
Gore, W. R. O. Tollemache, J.
Grace, O. D. J. Tyler, Sir G.
Grattan, H. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Greene, J. Waddington, H. S.
Grogan, E. Welby, G. E.
Guernsey, Lord Willoughby, Sir H.
Gwyn, H. Wodehouse, E.
Halsey, T. P. Wynn, H. W. W.
Hamilton, G. A. TELLERS.
Harris, hon. Capt. Barron, Sir H. W.
Henley, J. W. Reynolds, J.
List of the NOES.
Abdy, Sir T. N. Adair, R. A. S.
Acland, Sir T. D. Aglionby, H. A.
Ashley, Lord Littleton, hon. E. R.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Locke, J.
Baring, rt. hn. Sir F.T. Mackie, J.
Bass, M. T. M'Gregor, J.
Bellew, R. M. M'Neill, D.
Berkeley, Adm. Marshall, W.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Matheson, Col.
Bernal, R. Morris, D.
Blackstone, W. S. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Boyle, hon. Col. Mowatt, F.
Bright, J. Mulgrave, Earl of
Brocklehurst, J. Norreys, Lord
Brockman, E. D. Ogle, S. C. H.
Brotherton, J. Oswald, A.
Brown, H. Owen, Sir J.
Caulfield, J. M. Paget, Lord A.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Paget, Lord C.
Cavendish, hon. G. H. Palmer, R.
Cavendish, W. G. Palmerston, Visct.
Childers, J. W. Parker, J.
Clay, J. Perfect, R.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Peto, S. M.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. Pilkington, J.
Collins, W. Pinney, W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Price, Sir R.
Craig, Sir W. G. Ricardo, O.
Deedes, W. Rice, E. R.
Denison, J. E. Robartes, T. J. A.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Romilly, Col.
Drummond, H. H. Romilly, Sir J.
Duncan, Visct. Russell, Lord J.
Duncuft, J. Russell, hon. E. S.
Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D. Russell, F. C. H.
Ellice, E. Scholefield, W.
Ellis, J. Seymour, Lord
Evans, W. Shafto, R. D.
Foley, J. H. Sheridan, R. B.
Fordyce, A. D. Slaney, R. A.
Forster, M. Smith, J. A.
Fortescue, C. Smollett, A.
Freestun, Col. Somers, J. P.
Glyn, G. C. Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Greenall, G. Spearman, H. J.
Grenfell, C. P. Stanton, W. H.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Stuart, Lord J.
Grey, R. W. Tancred, H. W.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Thicknesse, R. A.
Hallyburton, Lrd. J. F. G. Thompson, Col.
Hanmer, Sir J. Tollemache, hon. F. G.
Hardcastle, J. A. Townshend, Capt.
Hastie, A. Traill, G.
Hastie, A. Trelawny, J.
Hatchell, rt. hon. J. Vesey, hon. T.
Hawes, B. Villiers, Visct.
Heald, J. Watkins, Col. L.
Heathcoat, J. Westhead, J. P. B.
Henry, A. Willcox, B. M.
Heyworth, L. Williams, J.
Hindley, C. Williamson, Sir H.
Hobhouse, T. B. Wilson, J.
Hodges, T. L. Wilson, M.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Hutchins, E. J. Wood, W. P.
Jackson, W. Wyvill, M.
Kershaw, J.
King, hon. P. J. L. TELLERS.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Hayter, W. G.
Lewis, G. C. Hill, Lord M.

The House adjourned at half-after Twelve o'clock.