HC Deb 14 July 1863 vol 172 cc749-75

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

MR. C. P. VILLIERS moved that the House go into Committee on the Bill.


said, he rose to move the Resolution of which he had given notice, to the effect that it was desirable that any monies raised under the Bill by way of loan on the security of the rates in the distressed manufacturing districts should be applicable to assisted emigration to such colonies as might be willing to co-operate in carrying it out. While approving of what the Government had done to relieve the distress in Lancashire, he thought that other measures should be taken. He thought, that even if the war in America should speedily come to an end, and supplies of cotton be obtained from the Southern States, four or five years must elapse before there would be a return to anything like the former state of prosperity in Lancashire. He was therefore of opinion that emigration should be encouraged. His proposal was, that instead of restricting the amount of the rates to be applied to purposes of emigration in the distressed unions to one-half of the average amount of the three previous years, as authorized by law, the guardians should be empowered to apply such portions of the money raised on the security of the rates as they should think fit to the same purpose. He wished to dispel some misunderstanding which existed as to the objects he had in view. He wished to state distinctly that he did not in any way propose to obstruct the progress of the Bill, because he approved generally of the course which the Government had taken on the subject. He did not advocate what was called indiscriminate emigration because he believed nothing could be more injurious than to attempt to relieve the distress by any rash scheme of emigration. Neither did he propose that any grant of public money should be given for that purpose. He approved of what the Government had done for the relief of the distress; and although he did not think the Bill which they had lately passed would produce all the effects lately anticipated, yet, as Lancashire wished, he thought the Government did right in introducing it. But he did not think the measures which had been taken sufficient, and he thought that other measures should be taken which would have the direct effect of relieving the distress, and indirectly would be beneficial to the Empire and the manufacturing districts. According to the best authorities, we might expect, during the coming winter, that from 400,000 to 500,000 persons in the manufacturing districts would be in a state of considerable distress. This fact should be borne in mind, that there had been a steady inflow of something like 35,000 persons every year into the manufacturing districts seeking employment there, and now that a check had come upon the trade in those districts, they had not only to provide for the persons already thrown out of employment, but also for the stoppage of that emigration from one district into another—that emigration being essentially necessary for the prosperity not only of the manufacturing but of the agricultural districts. Of course, that inflow had ceased, and where had those people gone? His impression was that a very large proportion of them had crowded last year into the large towns, and where the main cause of the extraordinary increase of crime, at which they were so justly alarmed, and which had led to the appointment of the Committee of which he had been a member to inquire into the cause. That being the state of things, he was of opinion that the measures taken by the Government would not meet the danger to the whole community caused by the stoppage of the emigration into the manufacturing districts to which he referred, unless the Government encouraged the emigration of a certain number of persons to places which were capable of receiving them. It had been stated that in 1847 the emigration was so large and wholesale that it produced in its results very disastrous consequences, and therefore that they ought not at present to encourage emigration for fear of a recurrence of those evils. It was a curious fact that the emigration from 1852 up to 1858 was very much larger than the emigration which took place during the whole year of the distress caused by the failure of the potato crop in Ireland. This country was capable of carrying on a much larger emigration than the indiscriminate emigration which had taken place in years past. In the years 1846, 1847, and 1848 respectively 129,000, 258,000, and 248,000 persons emigrated from this country owing to the distress that then prevailed in Ireland. In 1849, 299,000 persons emigrated; in 1850, 280,000; in 1851 the number increased to 335,000; in 1852 it reached 368,000; in 1853, 329,000; and in 1854, 323,000. Thus it appeared that during those years there was a steady and, he believed, very advantageous emigration carried on simultaneously with abundance of employment and great prosperity in the country. In 1860 the numbers fell to 158,000, in 1861 to 91,000; and in 1862 the numbers rose to 121,000. These figures showed, that considering the emigration of former years, a larger emigration might go on with safety and with advantage both to those who went and those who remained behind. It had been contended on a former occasion that there were already Acts of Parliament in operation which enabled Poor Law guardians to assist emigration. By the 4 & 5 Will. IV., c. 76, s. 62, the ratepayers of a parish might borrow and spend on or in aid of emigration "of poor persons having settlements" not above half the average rate for the three preceding years. By the 12 & 13 Vict., c. 103, s. 20, guardians of unions were enabled to borrow for the emigration of the above to the extent of £10 a head, without the consent of the ratepayers, if the guardians of the parish consented. By the 11 & 12 Vict., c. 110, s. 5, unions could procure or assist in procuring the emigration of irremovable poor; and orphan and deserted children might be assisted to emigrate by the parish or union. The Legislature had, therefore, already sanctioned the principle that the poor rates might be applied towards emigration. The provisions of the Acts which he had cited were, however, inapplicable to the present moment. His proposal, as he had said, was, that instead of restricting the amount of the rates to be applied to purposes of emigration in the distressed unions to one-half of the average amount of the three previous years, as authorized by law, the guardians should be empowered to apply such portions of the money raised on the security of the rates as they should think fit for the same purpose, subject to the consent of the individual parishes. That was a permissive power, and the guardians need not make use of it unless they chose. The emigration he wished to assist would only be to those Colonies which were willing to cooperate in carrying it out. He might be told that the class of persons whose emigration he wished to assist could not be taken away suddenly to the Colonies and to a totally different climate without faring worse than if they remained at home; but such arguments, which would have been well-founded twenty years ago, were inapplicable to the present state of things. The Colonies then were almost exclusively agricultural and pastoral. The most important of the southern Colonies was Victoria, the population of which in 1861 was 540,000 souls. The population engaged in manufactures, mining, and other pursuits, irrespective of agricultural and pastoral callings, was 79,000; so that if 20,000 or 30,000 were added to the population of the Colony, they would be absorbed by other industries, even if none were fitted for agricultural and pastoral life. Then it was said that people ought not to be sent from hot rooms to endure the rigours of a colonial climate. But the winters of their southern Colonies were much warmer than those of this country, and the climate was very mild and strengthening to weak constitutions. The passage-money of emigrants was £14, but from £16 to £18 per head might be put down as the total expense. He did not wish the House to give any encouragement to emigration, except to those Colonies which were also prepared to assist it, and no colony would assist emigrants unless it was for its advantage to receive them. One colony had sent home £5,000 to encourage emigration; another £10,000, and a third £5,000. The colony of Victoria had received from 70,000 to 80,000 emigrants in one year, with no palpable reduction in the rate of wages. New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia were also ready to receive large numbers, and the Governments of those Colonies knew the importance of providing depots for the comfortable reception of the emigrants on their arrival. But then he was told that the real difficulty was that the operatives in the distressed districts did not want to emigrate. An hon. Member had said that everybody wanted everybody else to emigrate. [Mr. COBDEN: Hear, hear!] He would tell those who held that language that those who did not wish anybody else to emigrate were the employers of labour. It was, however, a misconception to suppose that there was an unwillingness to emigrate in the manufacturing districts. He had obtained a statement from the Emigration Board of the number of emigrants from this country during the first six months of the present year. In 1862, as he had stated, the number was 121,000. The first six months of 1863 had, however, reached the amount for the whole of the previous year—namely, 121,000. [An hon. MEMBER: Where did they go to?] The English and Scotch emigrants in 1862 were 47,000, and in the first half of the present year 36,000, or at the rate of 72,000 a year. The emigration to America that year was greatly in excess of last year; but was it not to their interest that the stream of emigration should be diverted from a foreign country to their own Colonies, where wages were higher, and where the emigrants would become consumers of British manufactures—not to the extent of a few shillings a year, as in America, but of £10, £12, or £14? To show the desire of the factory classes to emigrate, he would give the result of the inquiries of Mr. Knight, who was sent into the manufacturing districts by a society with which he was connected as acting emigration agent to Victoria. Mr. Knight, in a letter dated Manchester, May 6, 1863, said— The siege of my office by persons clamorous to emigrate continues unabated. There are thousands of eligible people connected with and affected by the manufacture of cotton who are most anxious to emigrate; they are not merely spinners, weavers, dyers, and the like, but carters, labourers, carpenters, bricklayers, engineers, smiths, strikers, &c., and a large number of tidy-looking domestic servants. I have selected many of these people, who are either in receipt of relief or in very great distress. There is no need to fear that in the present or larger drafts from the manufacturing districts we shall be likely to swamp the Colony with useless hands. Prior to going into the mills a very considerable number of factory operatives were engaged in outdoor work, and it will be no great effort for these people to fall back upon their former pursuits, most of which are quite congenial with colonial life. The operatives in several districts are forming emigration societies, and are collecting small weekly subscriptions. In a subsequent letter, dated July 1, 1863, Mr. Knight said— I was sufficiently long in Manchester and the adjacent districts to ascertain the feeling of the unemployed operatives on the subject of emigration, and from what I saw and heard I have no hesitation in declaring that the majority of the persons out of work by reason of the cotton famine would rather emigrate to any part of the globe than remain in their present abject, hopeless, and dependent condition. 'Pray do something to get us out of this,' was the kind of appeal made to me every hour of the day—an appeal which I could only respond to to the extent of about one-half per cent of the applicants. On the third day, finding the applications were exceedingly numerous, I had my name taken down and a notice put up 'that I could not provide passages for any further number of people;' but, notwithstanding this, the place was constantly crowded, the passages and staircase being continually full of people. On many occasions the portion of the street opposite to the office was crowded, and we had frequently to call in the aid of a police-constable to keep the place from being blocked up. This rush of applicants continued unabated for a month, and during the last fortnight I was obliged to keep a man in the lobby to assure the people that my lists were full, and to adopt other means of getting rid of the numerous applicants. In the course of a month not less than 12,000 persons applied to me for passages to Australia. Had I taken a prominent office and publicly announced my object, and had I been furnished with means and an adequate staff to do the work, I firmly believe that I could have booked 1,000 names per day, and continued at that rate for many months. Mr. Knight appended a note from the Glossop Spinners and Minders' Society, in which he was assured that the whole of that body and their fellow-operatives were desirous of emigrating. It also appeared that emigration societies had been formed in Gloucester, Nottingham, and Manchester for the purpose of assisting emigration. The colonial Governments in some cases offered land, and in other cases made advances to the emigrants, but in one shape or another those colonial Governments would assist emigration in the next year to the extent of from £200,000 to £300,000, if it were met by a corresponding outlay by or on behalf of the emigrants. Many of these factory operatives were suited to the Colonies, and they only required aid from local contributions. He only proposed to give the local authorities power to apply the principle laid down in the Poor Law Act, and he believed that the Amendment he proposed would do much to supplement the excellent measures which the Government had brought in for the relief of distressed districts.


said, he rose to second the Amendment. In proof of the rapid increase of the Southern Colonies, he might state that the population of Queensland, which had been separated from New South Wales, was 16,000 four years ago, but was then 45,000, the emigrants having come chiefly from the United Kingdom. The great objection to the proposal was that the people were not generally fit for the work of emigrants. He could say from his own experience, particularly with reference to people from the north of England, that they did not want people with specialities, but people who had good common sense and who would work. Persons made very good shepherds who had not been brought up to that calling in the mother country. In the days of convict labour it was well known that there was no better shepherd than a London pickpocket. The sort of persons who were not wanted in a Colony were those having a certain amount of education without capital. That class were starving in the Colony. Wages were high at Brisbane, and any decent family going into the interor might expect to receive £100 a year if they could make themselves useful. An old shepherd of his used to say it was the best place in the world for women, because there were no shops there. As a rule, it was better to let emigration find its own level; but the present was an exceptional case, and as the proposed was a permissive clause he would vote for it.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that any monies raised under this Bill by way of loan on the security of the rates in the distressed manufacturing districts, should be applicable to assisted emigration to such colonies as may be willing to co-operate in carrying it out,"—(Mr. Childers,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he would also support the Amendment as an exceptional measure. A portion of the rates would be most usefully employed in assisting the emigration of women under due regulations. There was in England an enormous disproportion of the sexes, which was increasing every day, and which was the cause of much vice and demoralization.


said, he was certain that every one who assisted in the relief of distress in the manufacturing districts would feel deeply indebted to the hon. Member, and would receive any suggestions for the relief of the distress, with a wish to adopt any measures that might be useful and practicable. The House would, however, go beyond its functions if it undertook to recommend the guardians to apply the money raised for the maintenance of the distressed operatives in assisting emigration. The Central Relief Committee had considered the question of emigration. They had a very large population to maintain, and it was the duty of the authorities to deal equally by all in the distribution of the sums raised, by subscriptions, loans, or rates. It was a mistake to suppose that the Central Relief Committee were opposed to emigration. Individually he had, perhaps, according to his means, contributed as much as any one in that House towards emigration; but he believed that a great disappointment awaited the Lancashire operatives if they rushed headlong into emigration. The owners of property in the distressed districts were mortgaging that property, and raising money on the security of the rates, and he trusted that the House would not give an opinion as to the application of that money. He thought he might undertake to say that all parties in Lancashire were deeply impressed with the duty that might be imposed on them next winter, and every effort, he believed, would be made by every class of society to meet that distress. Under those circumstances, the House would act judiciously to trust a little to the good sense and judgment of the guardians to apply the money which the House might empower them to raise for the relief of the distressed districts.


said, it was evident from the appearance of the House that his hon. Friend had no chance of carrying his Resolution. It was his (Mr. Ferrand's) belief that the employers of labour in Lancashire and the cotton districts were making common cause with the Government in discountenancing any attempt to promote emigration. After the repeal of the Corn Laws 2,500,000 of the population had emigrated, because they found that free trade did not enable them to earn the same wages as they had before. If the manufacturers were to have protection accorded to them, it was their duty to consider what would be the condition of the factory operatives during the next winter. It appeared from statements made in that House, that all but £460,000 out of the £1,500,000 of aggregate subscriptions at the disposal of the Central Committee had been spent upon the distressed operatives of Lancashire, and adding to that sum the £200,000 which was to be granted under the Bill, that would give £660,000 to be expended among the distressed factory population of Lancashire; but if it were true, as had been stated by the hon. Member for Pontefract, that there would be that year between 400,000 and 500,000 factory operatives unemployed in Lancashire, the whole of the money placed at the disposal of the different relief Committees for the relief of the distressed operatives would only give 30s. a head. Would the President of the Poor Law Board permit him to make a suggestion? There were 30,000 able-bodied men now out of employment in Lancashire. In the agricultural districts, on the contrary, sufficient hands could not be got either for the hay or corn harvest. Could not the Central Relief Committee send a large body of these men into the rural districts? They would all be able to make hay, and many were accustomed to farm labour. He was told by an hon. Friend yesterday, that in his district the hay seeds were dropping on the grass because hands could not be got for the hay harvest. He came up from Yorkshire yesterday, and saw fields that ought to have been cut a week or ten days ago. If the hot weather continued, the grain would want cutting very soon, and many thousand hands would be wanted in the agricultural districts. The farmers would be willing to give these operatives 2s. or 3s. a day, and by this means they could accumulate a sum of money which would keep them and their families for a long time.


said, he was quite ready to admit that every exertion ought to be made with a view to alleviate the distress existing in Lancashire, and two Bills to effect that object had been introduced, one of which had passed. But, without wishing to introduce an Irish element into the debate, he could not refrain from contrasting the eagerness with which measures for the relief and emigration of the distressed districts in England were discussed with the apathy of the House and the Government in regard to the distressed districts in Ireland. A few days ago he had given the Secretary for Ireland a letter from The Times relative to the distress in Connaught. He had since heard nothing from the right hon. Gentleman, and he supposed that no notice would be taken of the matter. It was too much to expect the Irish people to remain loyal when they witnessed the unfairness which was practised towards them.


said, he sympathized with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand); but he thought that no stimulus should be given to emigration, because some regard ought to be felt for the ratepayers left behind. Emigration ought to be left to be carried out in the ordinary way. It certainly did not, he thought, call for a Resolution of the House to be passed in order that it might be promoted. The existing law was quite sufficient, if the guardians really wished to encourage emigration.


said, that it might not be desirable to adopt the Amendment, and he thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract would be more likely to attain his end by withdrawing than by persevering with his Resolution, It would then be open to him to move the insertion of a clause enabling the guardians to apply any portion of the money raised by loan towards emigration. The sums voted by the colonial Parliaments, and placed in the hands of the Emigration Commissioners, were not, he believed, exhausted; but difficulties were, he understood, raised to the acceptance of the money in Lancashire.


asked, why the sense of the House should not be taken now on the Amendment, instead of raising another discussion in Committee. He thought his hon. Friend was a little discouraged by those on whom he had relied to support his Motion. He (Mr. C. P. Villiers) had waited to hear the arguments in favour of the Resolution, and must confess himself disappointed. He thought his hon. Friend was going to tell them that the guardians had applied for the power he would confer upon them, or that memorials were presented from the operatives, to enable the guardians to apply the money raised in the manner proposed to enable them to emigrate, but his hon. Friend did not say that such was the fact. His hon. Friend merely said that emigration was going on in a manner that was quite unprecedented, and that during the first six months of the year it exceeded what had occurred during the whole of some previous years.


I said the emigration of the first six months of this year exceeded 1862; but I did not apply the observation to previous years.


said, the fact was, that the total numbers that emigrated in 1862 were 121,214; and during the first six months of this year 121,765 persons emigrated, which confirmed exactly what his hon. Friend had said. But that was an extraordinary argument to use for giving extraordinary means to assist emigration. He was astonished that his hon. Friend did not tell the House what he had told many Members individually, of the very large funds now available in the Colonies for emigration. His hon. Friend had, indeed, stated at a public meeting at the Mansion House, that no less than a quarter of a million was now available in one of the Colonies for the purposes of emigration; but not one word had they heard that day from his hon. Friend of that large sum. He had expected, moreover, that at least on this occasion the hon. Member would have been supported by those who usually acted with him in colonial matters; but the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Marsh) had given him as little encouragement as he had ever heard. The hon. Member, who, from long residence there, was well acquainted with the Australian colonies, stated—what every rational colonist would state—that they should be extremely careful as to the persons sent out; that such persons should be restricted in various respects, and that above alt they should be careful not to send out men without some capital, or with habits unsuited to the life in new countries; and, indeed, he referred to men with the unsettled habits of those who in former times had been transported, as being more successful than those with the habits of operatives. But, by the Motion of the hon. Member (Mr. Childers), the guardians would have to send out men who were unfortunately destitute, and who had no means of maintenance from week to week. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) had underrated the means which the guardians already possessed, when they chose to exercise it, for sending out emigrants. For the purpose of removing those who were called the irremovable poor, they could charge the common fund of a union to any extent they pleased. The duty of the guardians was to relieve the destitute as well as they could, looking to the interests of both the poor, and the ratepayers. Why, for that purpose, should they be asked to send them to Victoria, if there were other places which would suit them better? There were other parts of the world to which the emigrants preferred to go. If reference was made to the Returns, it would be found that an overwhelming majority of the emigrants from this country went to the United States. Were they, then, to be told, that when a man could go for £5 to a country where he was certain of being immediately employed, and where the manners and customs of the country were analogous to those of England—were the guardians to be told, as the hon. Member for Pomfret proposed that they should be told, not to assist emigrants to that country, but only to send them to Victoria? In the five months ending with May last, the total number of emigrants was 97,558, and of that number 66,946 went to the United States. [Mr. FERRAND: Yes, Federal recruits.] How did the hon. Member know that? It was all very well to say so, and to circulate rumours to that effect. Could he state it as a fact? It was like a good many other statements similarly made which were not facts at all. Were they, then, to tell the guardians, who could send people where they wanted to go for £5, to send them when it would cost £20, because the hon. Member said he could give £10 of that sum? That was not showing much regard for the poor man, whatever it might be for the Colony. That emigrants really wished to go to the United States, was shown again by the returns for June. In that month 24,405 emigrants left this country, and of that number 16,275 went to the United States, If this were the case, why should the guardians he compelled to send the emigrants to where they did not wish to go, and that too at a greater cost? And let it he observed, that this was a proposition to legislate afresh on this subject, and that it was a question of assisting people to leave this country on account of a dearth of employment at home. His hon. Friend proposed that the guardians should only send the operatives to countries that assisted emigration. But suppose parties in the United States should promise these persons labour at good wages, and say that they would pay £1 a head towards the expense of sending them out, that would come within the terms of the Resolution of his hon. Friend. [Mr. CHILDERS: No; my Resolution only refers to emigration to British Colonies.] Well, many of these persons, if they were sent to the North American Colonies, which the hon. Member's Resolution would not preclude, might, as they al- ways had done, find their way down to the eastern cities of the United States. It was certain, that if the guardians had only to consider the interest of the unions, as well as that of the poor people who had suddenly become destitute, they would assist them to go to the United States; and it was for the House to consider whether they would legislate especially to promote that object. It might be that some persons, whose interests were in the Colonies, might think that England's misery was Melbourne's opportunity; but, for his own part, he could not see any occasion to direct the guardians as to the mode in which they should apply their funds for the relief of distress. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand), on whose support he believed the hon. Member for Pomfret relied, told them that there was plenty of work in the country—that there was a great harvest to gather in, and that the operatives might go and gather in that harvest, and go back to their homes with money to keep them through the winter. He (Mr. C. P. Villiers) believed there was a good deal of sense and truth in that; but the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ferrand) would excuse him if he expressed the astonishment he felt at hearing those views from him. He said there was plenty of work in the country. [Mr. FERRAND: For the next two months.] Just so, and therefore the people might earn money to help them to get over the winter. Now, he (Mr. C. P. Villiers) thought, if there was employment in the country, they would do wrong to stimulate emigration. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) was a plan to assist and favour emigration, for which, according to the hon. Member for Devonport, there was no occasion at present. He (Mr. C. P. Villiers) thought it right to call the attention of the House to one circumstance. The hon. Member for Pomfret referred to Lancashire, and said there were there a great number of cotton operatives who wanted the means of living, and who might now receive assistance to go to the Colonies. He (Mr. C. P. Villiers) did not wish to dispute the authority of the hon. Member as to the want of emigrants in the Colonies; but he went that morning himself to the Board of Emigration to ascertain under what restrictions people were sent out to the Colonies. The funds of that Board were supplied by the Colony, under certain restrictions imposed by it, as to the people who should be sent out; and he found that under those restrictions the cotton operatives were absolutely excluded from the assistance of the Board. The colonists, therefore, did not, it was clear, want the people that the guardians would desire to send out. They must not be above forty, they must not have more than two children; and they must have been occupied either as agriculturists or mechanics. That was most especially the rule as regarded the colony of Victoria. He did not mean to say that others had gone out who had not succeeded, but the question now was whether the Government should interfere to direct the guardians to send their poor out there, and he contended that the Government should be very careful in what it did in this matter. It was bound, not only to be careful as to whom it sent, but a responsibility would attach to it as to what became of those people after they arrived there. He should be sorry to send out poor people, for instance, to Queensland. He had seen letters from people who had gone out there, even with some means, and they believed that they had been grossly deceived. There was hardly sufficient capital to employ them, and they had no means of realizing fortune for themselves. And it must be remembered, that when working men went to very young Colonies, or new countries unless they found, employment, they went to the very bottom of society, almost, in fact, returned again to savage life. He said, then, there would be great want of humanity in sending people out to new countries unless they were sure to get employment. At present the guardians had a discretion as to sending out emigrants to a much larger extent than the House imagined; and yet, since the distress had commenced, he never heard of more than one instance of their exercising that discretion. The hon. Member (Mr. Childers) spoke of a continual flow of labour from the agricultural into the manufacturing districts, which when trade was good found employment for them; and beseemed to think that that drain on the agricultural districts was immediately followed by a flow of population into those districts from some unexplained source. There was no question that there had been most extraordinary prosperity in the manufacturing districts of late years, and a great draft had been made on the agricultural districts for labour. He believed that draft had caused great inconvenience in the agricultural districts into which there was not that flow as the hon. Member imagined; and that, owing to the scarcity of labour, difficulty was felt even in getting in the harvest. Surely that was not the argument for sending the people away. The people might, at this moment, be redundant in the manufacturing districts, but the Colonies that the hon. Member represented, wanted the agriculturists and mechanics in preference to the operatives. His deliberate opinion was that they had not got one man too many in the country, and he did not think it would be wise to legislate in order to hasten emigration. Let the people have easy access to all the information which the Government possesses respecting all our Colonies, but leave it to themselves to decide whether they would go or stay, or where they would go.


said, that every one must have been struck by the difference in the tone and manner of the President of the Poor Law Board from that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Lancashire (Colonel W. Patten). His hon. and gallant Friend said, that he, as a Lancashire man, was thankful for every suggestion for relieving the distress that threatened the manufacturing districts next winter. The right hon. Gentleman, on the other hand, had talked of "England's distress being Melbourne's opportunity;" but he (Mr. Henley) would ask the House, seeing how liberally that Colony had come forward for the relief of the distressed operatives, whether that was a decent observation. He believed that it was proposed to obtain, under the Bill, an advance of £200,000 from the Exchequer Loan Commissioners at a low rate of interest to mitigate the coming pressure. He did not understand, however, whether any part of the sum of £200,000 might be applied towards the purpose of emigration if the guardians thought fit. The right hon. Gentleman said it was the duty of the Government to see what became of the people who emigrated to the Colonies; but he did not appear to extend his paternal care to those who were supposed to go out as Federal soldiers. The right hon. Gentleman, however, said it was better to send the distressed operatives to the United States than to the British Colonies, although they might be shot within six months after they got there. He could not help fearing that the pressure in the manufacturing districts would be far heavier next winter than last year. The operatives could not look for so much assistance out of their own borders, and he could wish that the local authorities should be able to apply the money borrowed under this Bill, some in one way and some in another, as different Boards might see fit. He very much regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had met the Amendment in the sort of spirit he had shown. That was not the way to get through the difficulty, nor was it very gracious to cast motives on those who were helping us. One thing was certain, that every man who was assisted to emigrate would relieve the funds during the coming winter.


said, that the guardians could apply the money raised under the Bill to any purpose to which they could apply the rates.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman has attributed a little impatience to my right hon. Friend at the head of the Poor Law Department, in the manner in which he met this Motion. Now, I must say, so far as those Members are concerned who are connected with Lancashire, that we have only to offer to the right hon. Gentleman our most unfeigned thanks for the patience and solicitude which he has shown in this great trial. And if he has shown a little impatience now, he is very wrong in doing so as a Cabinet Minister; because a Cabinet Minister ought never to allow himself to show any impatience; but if he has shown a little impatience, I am not surprised. I confess myself to be a little intolerant on this subject—not as to emigration, because emigration, when properly organized—say on such a plan as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. Bazley), who sent out the capital to the Colony along with emigrants—is a very good thing—but I am rather intolerant when I hear hon. Gentlemen in this House, and some gentlemen out of it, interpose the question of emigration as a panacea for everything, and thus obstruct us in our endeavours to carry out what is the only practical way of meeting this great emergency. Now, the Motion of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) is as impracticable, as utterly uncalled for, as anything that has ever been brought before us. He says, that those means now about to be raised should be "applicable to assisted emigration to such Colonies as may be willing to co-operate in carrying it out." Well, but to obtain that co-operation from the Colonies to which the hon. Gentleman refers, it would require that we should send out to Australia. There is not a shilling in hand. I have been to the emigration office. I have inquired at that department, from which alone the hon. Gentleman can get his information, and I find that they have not a farthing in hand to assist this emigration. If we are to obtain the cooperation of Australia or of New Zealand—for the hon. Gentleman's Motion does not apply to Canada, or the nearer Colonies—if we are to have the co-operation of the Legislatures of the Colonies to which he refers, we must wait six months before we can get their decision. I ask, if that is a practical plan to bring before us, when we have only a week or two to carry out this measure? [An hon. MEMBER: Which is limited to six months.] And which, as my hon. Friend says, is limited to six months. From some of the Colonies, emigration grants had been made; but if the money were here in the hands of the emigration agents, it would be useless to factory operatives, because the Emigration Office is bound down in the administration of these funds to certain rules, which preclude the acceptance of factory hands. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. Villiers) has referred to the conditions on which assisted passages to the Colonies are granted. I have been to the office also, and I have got the document corrected to the latest period, setting forth the conditions on which grants are made. The paper is from the Queensland Government Emigration Office. It sets forth the terms upon which they propose to assist emigrants to that Colony—and the same rules apply to all the Colonies more or less. Now, what class of people do the Colonial Government wish to have? Here is the description— The class of persons alone eligible are domestic servants, farm labourers, vine dressers, labourers, and mechanics. By 'labourers' is to be understood those whose labour has been connected in some way with the land, such as gardeners, road makers, miners, quarrymen, &c. By 'mechanics,' not ' skilled,' such as machinists, engineers, painters, printers, compositors, &c., but blacksmiths, bricklayers, masons, sawyers, carpenters, wheelwrights, shipbuilders, &c. The factory operative or cotton-spinner and weaver is expressly excluded by the terms of this order. Therefore, for us to wait for the possible co-operation of Australia for some six months, when we have their own conditions already made public, would be a waste of time, and the proposition to do so, can hardly be regarded as worthy the attention of the House. The hon. Member for Pontefract alluded to some voluntary extra subscriptions, sent over in addition to the regular sums raised by the Legislature of the Colonies, to bring out emigrants. It is true, there have been subscriptions to assist the cotton operatives to emigrate, but it has been a very small amount. The hon. Gentleman says that Mr. Knight, an agent for the body under whose direction these funds were administered, went down with the power to assist 300 operatives to emigrate. Only think of 300! Why it is a mere drop in the ocean, Mr. Knight, the hon. Gentleman says, went to Manchester, and he tells me that I am quite wrong in saying that the people are not willing to emigrate, for that that gentleman had 8,000 or 10,000 applications from persons desirous of being sent out by him. Well, in the first place, Manchester is not the cotton manufacturing district. Manchester is a city, a great mercantile centre, a metropolis. It is not even one of the distressed unions in the ordinary sense. There has never been a deputation from Manchester to my right hon. Friend asking for his interference. It is a great centre of capitalists—a centre of great mercantile operations. Its ratepayers are owners of houses, offices, shops, and warehouses, and people who have not been so severely injured by the position of the cotton industry as have the ratepayers in other parts. But now let my hon. Friend go to Hyde, or Stalybridge, or Ashton-under-Lyne, or any of the other places where the distress is really and fully felt. He will there find grouped around the mills a number of comfortable brick cottages. He may go down the streets and find that the people of the towns are nearly all operatives. Their houses bear very much the appearance of the houses of the lower middle class resident in other parts of the kingdom. Each family has been in the habit of bringing home on the Saturday night on an average 30s.; some of them £2, or £3, or even £4. Let him go into their houses and ask them do they wish to emigrate? They will tell him no. They are the people who are not willing to emigrate; but they are quite willing to see others emigrate if they find an opportunity for it. The chairman of the Warrington Board of Guardians wrote to me a letter on this subject, in which he says that in that union, being anxious to use the funds at their disposal to assist all such poor as were desirous to emigrate, they obtained very glowing circulars from the Emigration Office, and spread them through the union. They further advertised that they were willing to as- sist parties to emigrate, and they had not a single application. There are, no doubt, agricultural labourers who would be willing to emigrate; but the persons who are connected with the cotton manufacture are not willing to go. I confess to a little intolerance as to the manner in which this subject is brought forward, because there is in it a mixture of ignorance and prejudice which does not much conciliate my kind regards. I have seen the question of emigration dragged into discussion by parties who have a monomaniacal hatred of the manufacturing capitalist class. Of these it cannot be denied that the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand) may be taken as a representative. I have seen similar doctrines to his in The Times from Dorsetshire, and uttered at Carlisle by a Church dignitary. I have known the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ferrand) for twenty years always pursuing the same course; the consistent supporter of the Corn Laws, and ever professing to be the friend and representative of the working class. He comes now as the representative of the operatives. Now, I do not attribute motives; but when I see people actuated by hatred of a class—in this case the capitalist class—I am compelled to take it into account in forming a judgment of his conduct. I do not think I do the hon. Gentleman injustice when I say he would like to transport the whole of the masters. Not being able to do that, I think he is willing to deport the operatives in order that he might spite and anger the masters. I hope I am not too uncharitable. As the hon. Gentleman has dealt pretty largely with aspersions and motives, it is natural that he should get an infinitesimal dose of his own medicine in return. Another gentleman out of doors, the Dean of Carlisle (Dean Close), has written a letter, attributing the vilest motives to the manufacturers, saying that they are keeping their factories open as a sham and a delusion, merely to prevent the people from emigrating. Unless the character of the millowners and manufacturers of Carlisle has changed since I used to know them, about twenty years since, I think there is not a more benevolent body of men anywhere, and men who less deserve the character which the rev. gentleman gives to them. But if these gentlemen merely confined themselves to aspersions and attributing motives, without attempting to set up plans of their own which I think would be injurious to the working people, I should not take notice of them. Look at Dean Close. He has been an ardent promoter of emigration in Carlisle. I will not attribute bad motives to him as he has to me. I believe him to be sincere in his desire to benefit the people. But does he go to work in the right way? Does he act with proper forethought? Does he take due precautions? I would introduce him as an illustration of a class of persons who are willing to send people away to the antipodes without taking those precautions which they ought to take, in order to provide for those poor people when they get there. Now, take a description of the rev. gentleman's conduct, in his own words. There has been an entertainment to emigrants in Carlisle. Dean Close attended. He was speaking in favour of emigration, and narrated what he had himself done. It seems that he has been sending some emigrants to Queensland. I am not going to say a word against Queensland or any other Colony. I have the honour of knowing Sir George Bowen, Governor of Queensland. I think him the right man in the right place. He is an able and enlightened administrator, and I think the colony will benefit materially by his wisdom and capacity. But it is the youngest Colony we have, with the smallest population; and I can easily conceive, however great its growth in the future may he, that it is not a Colony which would be most favourable for emigration without capital. Now, I will read what Dean Close said in his speech to emigrants, another batch of whom were going out. He said that— It had been a subject of some little compunction to him in sending out the party to Queensland, because he knew no one there to whose care he could commit them. But mark how Providence had watched over their interests. He had just this moment received a note from a lady friend of his who happened to see his letter in The Times, and she stated she was very much interested in Queensland, because she had a son at Brisbane, the capital, where the emigrants were going to; and who should this son be but Captain Pitt, an officer in the army, and aide-de-camp to the Governor? Letters had been sent out to the captain on the subject, and he (the Dean) had not the slightest doubt that they would find some one there to meet them when they reached the shore, and that every attention would be paid to them. From a newspaper be had received, he learnt that there was an abundance of labour there to reward their industry, and he confidently expected to hear of them doing well. Now I would ask, ought any one to take upon himself the responsibility of sending out emigrants without making any preparation for receiving them? Yet that is what this rev. gentleman did. He made no provision for receiving the emigrants, and there was no preparation except what turned up accidentally. In his case there seems to have turned up Captain Pitt, on the staff of the Governor. Well, any one doing that may think himself charitable; but I maintain that such proceedings are reprehensible, and, I had almost said, criminal. Now, my advice to the working classes is this:—that they should take even more precautions to know what is to become of them a year after they have landed in a foreign country or in a Colony, than they should to know what is to become of them for a year if they should stay at home, and not by any means to trust themselves in an emigrant ship or with any company unless with due precaution, and until they have ascertained, after careful calculation, what is to become of them, and how they are to be provided for when they have got to their destination. With such a provision, I should have no objection to any one emigrating. The more that emigrate, with the certainty of doing better in the Colonies or elsewhere than here, the better it will ultimately be for themselves and those they have left behind them; but I must protest against the question of emigration, and against a wholesale system of deportation being mixed up with this question. I am sorry it should have been intruded upon us, and that I should have occasion to say a word in regard to it.


remarked that emigration under proper management would be good for all parties. He, for one, would certainly like to see a large emigration of Lancashire lasses many of whom would soon find themselves in improved circumstances as the wives of Australian settlers. The hon. and gallant Member for Lancashire (Colonel W. Patten) had stated that he had assisted a great number of persons to emigrate, and that fact showed that there were people in Lancashire who were willing to emigrate. He thought the millowners had acted tolerably fair—he did not say in every case—towards the operatives, and there was no very great fault to be found with them; but it had been quite clear throughout that the millowners were anxious to keep all their hands around the mills, and they had declared that when trade revived there would not be a man too many. He had thought it was the duty of official persons to promote emigration to British Colonies rather than to foreign countries, and he was therefore sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board throw cold water on emigration to British Colonies, and hold out the United States as the best place for emigrants. It would be much better, if the operatives were sent out at all, that they should go to Victoria, instead of the United States.


In view of the House giving its judgment upon the Motion of my hon. Friend, I venture to offer a very few remarks on the subject. First of all, I will refer to what has just fallen from my hon. Friend opposite, who has given his opinion that it is very much better to emigrate to the Colonies than to the United States. My right hon. Friend has given his opinion that the United States, speaking generally and without reference to the circumstances of the particular moment, offer very great advantages to emigrants from this country. Those are opinions which may very fairly be given on the one side and the other without reproach; but it is one thing to give those opinions in debate, and another thing for the House of Commons to come in, and by legislation take the responsibility of directing the choice of those who are about to separate themselves from their country and to select another country. In my opinion, no heavier responsibility than that could be undertaken by the Legislature. When my right hon. Friend gave that very strong opinion of the eligibility of the United States as a destination for emigrants, he was at any rate borne out by a very long experience, because during the last thirty years several millions of people have emigrated from this country, in the exercise of their own private judgment and free choice as to the country they were to select in lieu of that they were leaving, and the vast majority of those emigrants had selected the United States. I do not give that opinion in the sense of desiring that we should endeavour, by means devised here, to direct the stream of emigration to the United States. My right hon. Friend used it, and I think justly so, as an argument against the proposal that we should interfere to direct the stream of emigration by artificial means to another quarter, and that is the real question before us.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) has put a question, to which I shall endeavour very briefly to afford an answer. He has already heard from my right hon. Friend that the monies that will be made available from a public source under the Bill now before the House will be available for all purposes that are legal under the provisions of the present law, and therefore the whole question is, what are the provisions of the present law, and what powers are enjoyed by the local authorities in regard to monies raised for Poor Law purposes being applied to the purposes of emigration? By the original Poor Law Act it appears that the owners or ratepayers of any parish or vestry may direct that any sum not exceeding half the average of the yearly rate for preceding years may be borrowed for defraying the expenses of emigration of the second poor; and by the 11 & 12 Vict., c. 110, the guardians may, with the consent of the Poor Law Board, assist in the emigration of the irremovable poor of the parish, and they may charge the cost upon the common fund. Now, I apprehend that between the second poor and irremovable poor I am correct in stating that a very large proportion of the poor may, if it is thought fit locally, thus be made the objects of aid from that source for the purpose of emigrating. These are provisions which were adopted at periods eminently favourable to arriving at just decisions, and when the whole principles applicable to the treatment of our poor were under consideration, and consequently when a very calm and impartial review of the various considerations bearing upon that treatment could be entertained; and I must say I have much greater confidence in provisions adopted in that manner than in any provisions that might be suggested under the pressure of a particular emergency, and which might not have undergone equally careful consideration. Therefore, it would be a great mistake to suppose that the Legislature of this country has treated emigration with indifference. The circumstances of the country twenty or thirty years ago, when, unhappily, the labour market was more overstocked than is happily now the case, did press very much upon the minds of benevolent persons and upon Parliament the consideration of the question whether there ought to be a wholesale public assistance given to emigration; and I may say, especially when it is considered how severe and pressing was the case of Ireland, and how plausible were the arguments for emigration after the potato famine, that these provisions do convey the deliberate decision of the Legislature, that it was not desirable to give this wholesale assistance, and they defined the point up to which they thought that assistance might be given. Well, now, my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract invites us at this crisis to lay down a new principle. I ask, is this a time to lay down a new principle? Is the labour market of this country, generally speaking, overstocked? Is there a very great pressure of population on the means of subsistence? Is the standard of wages going upwards or downwards? Why, Sir, we live in a period when, on the contrary, with heartfelt satisfaction we see that as a general rule in most parts of the country the command of the labouring man over the necessaries and comforts of life is progressively increasing, because the labour market is not overstocked, and the demand is continually gaining on the supply. There conies a momentary difficulty, but is that a reason for departing from the principles which had been already laid down? I think there has been no case made out for departing from those principles and taking a stride in advance as to legislative interference in respect of emigration. There is immense force in what has been stated by my hon. Friend (Mr. Cobden), that the class of operatives who are to emigrate under this provision is not the class likely to find employment in the Colonies. It appears that in April last the Duke of Newcastle addressed a circular to the Colonies upon the question how far it was likely those countries would afford employment to emigrants of this class. The only answer that has been received has come from the Colonies of British North America, and that was to the effect that they could hold out no hope except for agricultural labourers or females suited for domestic service. My right hon. Friend is also entitled to say that this is a Bill the operation of which is confined to six months, and that period would elapse before those arrangements which would be necessary in order to give effect to the principle of my hon. Friend could be made with the Legislatures of distant Colonies. But I say, that if we are to have any further intervention of Parliamentary authority in this matter, it is most important to consider what test, what rule we are to establish, with a view to direct the choice of a place of destination for the emigrants. A Colonial Government may be able and disposed to offer assistance for emigration, but that may not be a Colony to which a person should emigrate. It may cost £20 to go to Australia, and the Australian Government may be ready to give £5 or £10; but after that contribution has been received, it may cost the guardians more to send the person to Australia than to send him to British North America and pay the whole expense. I hold, therefore, that the criterion adopted by my hon. Friend is not a legitimate criterion, and tends to mix up together, in an inconvenient manner, the interests of particular Colonies, and the interest of the persons whom he wants to send from our shores. Nothing could be more remote from the intention of my right hon. Friend or of the Government than to cast an imputation upon the Colonies with which my hon. Friend is connected, and which has shown a spirit of sympathy for the prevailing distress, not in the slightest degree deadened by absence or distance, and manifested by contributions as munificent as any that proceeded from other parts of Europe. But he would not say that we should pay them back by inserting in this law a bad provision. If we were prepared to go beyond the basis defined by the present law, and that circumstances warranted it and required it, it would be our duty to make it clear in our legislation that the interests of the persons emigrating were combined with the interests of the ratepayers, and were to be the determining condition in the selection of the Colony. At this period there is no case for reconsidering those principles, and therefore I must express a hope that the House will put a negative on the Motion of my hon. Friend.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had contended that the passing of the Resolution would, in fact, be an interference with the natural course of emigration; but if that assertion were well founded, it might easily be corrected in Committee.


said, he should yield to the evident desire of the House and withdraw the Motion. He should, however, in Committee embody it as a separate clause.


complained that the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand) lost no opportunity of coming down to that House and insulting the employers of manufacturing labour. There was no foundation whatever for those charges, which were most offensive to the feelings of the manufacturers.


declared, that he only made such statements as he was justified in making on the authority of the factory operatives themselves. He had in his possession letters that would support everything he had said, and he was ready to stand by what he said either in the House or out of it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

Clause 1 (Extension of the Union Relief Aid Acts to Michaelmas and Christmas next.)

MR. POTTER moved, at the end of the clause, to add the following proviso:— Provided always that the sections 3 and 5 of the said Act shall be construed and read as if the words "one shilling and sixpence," had been there inserted in lieu of the words "three shillings.


said, he must oppose the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


said, he would move a proviso, to substitute "six shillings" for "five shillings," in section 4 of the Act of last Session.


said, that there was no security that the rates would be economically expended unless the standard were raised to 6s. 6d. instead of 6s. His object was to narrow the application of the Act, so as to make it the last resource and the last resource only.


said, he must admit that the rate in aid was a temptation to people to keep up the rates. He would therefore yield the point, and accept the amendment.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 2 and 3 were also agreed to.

New Clause empowering the Guardians to borrow £200,000.


said, he wished to ask at what rate of interest the £200,000 would be borrowed.


said, it would be probably at the rate of interest charged for money advanced for public works. As the law stood, the rate was in the discretion of the Public Works Commissioners. The Commissioners could not make an advance to any union without communicating with the Poor Law Board.

Clause agreed to.


said, he would then propose to add a clause embodying the provisions with respect to emigration in accordance with the intimation he had previously given.


said, he would suggest that the hon. Member should postpone his Motion to the Report.


said, he would accede to the request of the right hon. Gentleman.

Preamble agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow, and to be printed. [Bill 236.]

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