HC Deb 26 June 1863 vol 171 cc1517-23

Bill considered in Committee.

Clause 1 (Charge on Consolidated Fund of £ to be at Disposal of Public Works Loan Commissioners).


moved to insert the sum of £1,200,000 in the clause.


said, there ought to be some provision, that when these monies were repaid, they should be kept separate and used for the discharge of the loan, instead of being mixed up in an "omnium gatherum" of other accounts.


said, that the Treasury would give every facility for the simplification of the accounts. The balances would be sufficient without calling upon Parliament to create any special loan.

Clause agreed to as was also Clause 2.

Clause 3 (Power for Public Works Loan Commissioners to lend, and for Local Boards and Authorities to borrow, for the Purposes and on the Terms specified).


moved an Amendment, to the effect that in case the existing blockade of the American ports should have ceased before the whole number of such instalments had been paid, then the residue of such loan should be repaid by so many equal annual instalments, not exceeding ten, as the Poor Law Board should approve, the first of such last-mentioned instalments to be payable on the first annual day of payment which shall occur after the expiration of twelve months from the termination of the blockade.


opposed the Amendment.

After short discussion, Amendment withdrawn.


felt bound to protest against the principle of the clause—namely, that of giving power to guardians to tax parishes for the purpose of public works without the consent of the parishioners.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 4 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 (Additional Powers for Local Boards or Local Authorities to execute Works of Improvement).


complained of the vagueness of the wording of the clause. It gave to Local Boards the power to "widen, deepen, cleanse, embank, straighten, or otherwise improve any river, stream, or brook." He doubted whether this clause would not give the local authorities the power of going out of the county. He thought that the consent of the owners of property ought to be first obtained to all proposals for arterial drainage.


said, he thought there was ample security against any misapplication of the Act. The suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman should, however, be considered, and an Amendment to protect the interest of the owners introduced, if necessary, on the Report.


said, that this was the proper time for raising the question of aiding emigration; he therefore called upon the Government to say, why the relief that might be afforded by emigration had been excluded from the provisions of this clause? He by no means wished to propose a system of wholesale emigration, or of special loans of public money for this purpose; but if there were persons fit and desirous to emigrate in the distressed districts, and if a proper body existed for judiciously applying these loans, why should they be precluded from doing so to some extent in this manner? The hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) who was kept away by domestic affliction, had requested him to obtain some explanation from the Government on this point. He had understood the hon. Member for Rochdale to say, on a previous occasion, that there were no operatives in the manufacturing districts who were either fit or willing to emigrate. [Mr. COBDEN: I never said so.] He certainly said that everybody wished everybody else to emigrate, not himself; and that misfortune had followed emigration. The Dean of Carlisle, however, had published the fact that a great many were anxious to go, and that if they had the funds, numbers would be very glad to go to the Colonies. In some parts of Warwickshire distress existed as in Lancashire, and in that county there were many persons emigrating; and if there were funds, there would be many more. Several letters had been received from those who had gone out, and without exception they were all prospering and thankful they had gone. If emigration had been resorted to at the commencement of the distress, perhaps by that time many would have been in a state of prosperity and becoming customers of those at home, instead of swelling the numbers of permanent paupers. Of the large numbers who had emigrated from Warwickshire under the pressure of distress, there was not one single instance in which the emigrants had not succeeded in establishing themselves, and many had sent to get their friends to follow them. No doubt, there was great difficulty in finding sufficient funds, but why were not the funds in hand expressly for assisting emigration from the manufacturing districts used for that purpose, and why should they not be somewhat supplemented out of this loan? Several Colonies had voted large sums of money to enable the distressed operatives of Lancashire and Cheshire to emigrate. He went himself to the Emigration Commissioners, and asked them whether, if the Lancashire people would not employ these funds in emigration, there would be any difficulty in applying them to Warwickshire? The Commissioners replied, that the Votes of the Colonies were so expressly made for Lancashire that, in their opinion, they could not be used for other parts of England. They added, however, that if Lancashire positively refused to employ these funds in promoting emigration, then they might be transferred to other parts of the country similarly in distress. He was not sure that money lent in aiding emigration would not be more likely to be repaid to the Treasury than the sums lent for other modes of aid, especially those proposed to be laid out in mere pauper works, similar to the works which were set on foot in Ireland during the famine, and certainly the result would be better and more permanent. He could not resist the suspicion that the mill-owners were obstructing and discouraging emigration. If so, they were acting in a most shortsighted manner. It was doubtful whether the operatives would be found very effective if they resumed their employment in the mills, after being engaged in outdoor work; whereas, if they let them go to the Colonies, they would prosper and become good customers, and the millowners might depend upon it that the rapid increase of population at home would be quite sufficient to insure a supply of labour for the cotton manufacture whenever it revived. It was incurring a grave responsibility to hold people back from emigration, and to exclude this mode of effective aid in preference of protracted dependence.


said, that his right hon. Friend was labouring under a misapprehension if he supposed that the Central Relief Committee had received funds from the Colonies for the purposes of emigration and had failed to apply them. Every sixpence received by the Central Relief Committee had been applied, as far as possible, in accordance with the wishes of the donors, even although they might be contrary to the opinion of the Committee. The Committee had received large sums from the Colonies, but not one farthing had been sent to them with the stipulation that it should be applied to emigration. The Bill provided for the repayment of a loan over a series of years, because it conferred substantial advantages on the next as well as the present genera- tion; but if this £1,200,000 were spent for the immediate relief of the manufacturing districts by means of emigration, the House would incur the just complaints of those who, many years hence, would be held responsible for the repayment of this money. As Lancashire men, too, they were too proud to ask for a loan for the relief of their own immediate distress, unless they had a prospect of giving public works of utility to posterity. He had never uttered a word against emigration and never intended to do so. But hon. Members seemed to forget that boards of guardians had at present, under an Act of Parliament, the power to give so much a head to those who wished to emigrate.


said, that he had no objection to emigration, but the question of emigration was not germane to the measure now before the House. It contained no machinery for the purpose. They were not a Board of Works about to receive a grant of public money; the proposition before the Committee was to enable local bodies to borrow money for their own purposes. The Bill provided the means of making advances to public bodies who applied for the money, and who could give security for its repayment. It might be proper for the Government to assist emigration, but he Could not consent to discuss the matter on the present clause further than to say that the Government would take upon itself a great responsibility in regard to the fate of those emigrants whom it might assist by free passages to the Colonies.


said, he was told that an impression prevailed that not more than one-third of the money raised could be expended on these works during the ensuing winter. If so, he did not see why a portion of this money should not be allotted to emigration. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel W. Patten) had said, that if he were the bitterest enemy of the operatives, he could not take a course more injurious to them. He was only sorry that such an antagonistic feeling existed between the manufacturers and their workmen. [Colonel WILSON PATTEN: It is not so.] He could only say that he had merely endeavoured to place before the House the case which the working people themselves had confided to his hands. If the country were again appealed to for a public subscription for the relief of Lancashire distress, and if money were subscribed for emigration purposes, he trusted that the Central Belief Committee would throw no obstacles in the way.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause 11 struck out.

Remaining Clauses agreed to


moved a New Clause (Power to abandon the Local Government Act).


said, that before the Bill went through Committee, he wished to express his regret that it had not been found possible to disentangle it from the Poor Law Board. It would have been much more acceptable if it could have been kept clear from that Board, and from the prejudices and objections which were felt to it on that account in many districts. At the same time, seeing the difficulties of the subject, he had thought it his duty to give the Bill his hearty support.


said, that the Bill, it was true, originated with the Poor Law Board; but those who were represented by the hon. and gallant Gentleman never ceased to urge the Board to consider and take up the matter. He could only say for himself that he should have been under deep obligations to any other Board or Department of the Government that had relieved him from the trouble and anxiety he had incurred in regard to this Bill. The proper moment for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to have objected to the action of the Poor Law Board was when he (Mr. C. P. Villiers) said he would direct inquiries to be made, if there were not means in his county for furnishing independent employment for the operatives who were deprived of their occupation, and were living upon alms; or else, when, holding the office he did, he had introduced a Bill founded on the report of that inquiry. Instead of which, the hon. and gallant Gentleman had waited till that Bill was matured, until all the trouble had been taken about it, till all danger as to its passing was over, and while morning, noon, and night his mind was made anxious on the subject, in order then, at the last moment, to complain of its being connected with the Poor Law Board, and thereby to excite mistrust of its operation. He must say that it was not a very gracious address to come from the hon. and gallant Gentleman just when the Bill had passed through Committee, and when it was too late to be of use.


would ask whether it was possible the right hon. Gentleman could so misinterpret him? Had he said one word of complaint against the right hon. Gentleman? In private, and long before the second reading, he had expressed to the right hon. Gentleman his opinion that it was desirable to keep the Bill clear of the Poor Law Board.


declared solemnly that he had not the slightest recollection of his hon. Friend ever having said one word of the sort to him. His hon. and gallant Friend did, he believed, say that he thought it would be better if the measure were kept distinct from the Union Relief Bill.


said, he had a right, as an independent Member of Parliament, to express his opinion on this Bill, to which, notwithstanding the objection he had expressed, he had given every support.


was glad that all the vials of the right hon. Gentleman's wrath had not been poured on his head, but that the right hon. Gentleman had reserved some for the hon. and gallant Member.


said, the operatives who were employed under this Bill ought not to be regarded in the light of paupers, but as persons who had suffered from misfortune, and who were willing to earn a livelihood by honest labour.

Clause added to the Bill.

Preamble agreed to.


said, that the Report on the Bill would be the first order on Monday next.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 192]