HC Deb 06 May 1864 vol 175 c99

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been directed to the proposed Act of American Congress providing for the reduction of Tonnage Dues on Emigrant Vessels, and for the appointment of a Government Commissioner of Emigration, who shall be empowered to contract for the importation of Emigrants, and for their transmission into the inland districts of the United States; and whether it is the intention of the present' Government to adopt any measures either towards diverting into some of Her Majesty's Colonies the increased and increasing Emigration from Ireland, or towards arresting that Emigration by providing industrial employment at home, or by reducing exorbitant taxation, or by improving the Land Laws, or by abolishing religious distinctions, or by conceding to Irishmen some participation in the government of their own country, or otherwise?


, in reply, said, his attention had not been called to the proposed Act of Congress referred to until the previous evening, when the hon. Gentleman showed him an extract from a newspaper stating that such an Act had been proposed. There was undoubtedly a large emigration going on from Ireland, and mainly directed towards the United States; but the reason was obviously to be found in the fact that wages in America were very high, artificially high, in consequence of the war, while in Ireland they were comparatively low. Her Majesty's Government did not think it would be expedient, even were it practicable, to endeavour to resist such emigration by the providing industrial employment at the public expense. He must also say that he thought Irishmen had a fair share of the benefits accruing from reductions of taxation, and he was not aware that any alteration of the laws relating to land would tend to diminish emigration. Religious distinctions had, happily, been abolished; and he would remind his hon. friend that the people of the sister country lived under the same Constitution as the people of England.