HC Deb 08 February 1865 vol 177 cc84-92

Lords Commissioners' Speech—Report of Address brought up (Sir Hedworth Williamson), and read.

Address read 2°.


said, he had yesterday given notice of an Amendment upon that portion of the Address which related to Ireland, because he believed it to be untrue. He was surprised that the following paragraph should have been inserted in the Royal Speech: — Ireland, during the past year, has had its share in the advantage of a good harvest, and trade and manufactures are gradually extending in that part of the kingdom. The truth of both these propositions was utterly denied, and even those who maintained them could not pretend to assert anything further than that a slight ad- vantage had been derived by Ireland from an improvement in the last harvest, and that the extension of the trade and manufactures was so very gradual as almost to be imperceptible. At all events the paragraph was of a questionable and debatable nature, and on that ground he thought it would have been better to have omitted it from the Queen's Speech. It was calculated to mislead the public, because it leads them to suppose that Ireland was in a more prosperous condition than it really was. He had heard it openly avowed that the Chief Secretary had been personally consulted on that paragraph 8, and therefore he (Mr. Scully) presumed it was the Chief Secretary's own composition, so that he did not now believe that any advantage in the framing of the Address would have been derived, had the right hon. Baronet been a Member of the Cabinet, He (Mr. Scully) proposed to omit that paragraph, and in its stead to insert the following:— That this House regrets that the general condition of Ireland cannot be regarded as prosperous or satisfactory, and that multitudes of the inhabitants continue to emigrate to foreign countries, through the want of remunerative employment at home. He threw the burden of this Amendment upon the Conservative representatives from Ireland, who, although they might be found voting with their party in England on Danish questions, went rather with the Chief Secretary on all matters concerning Ireland. He (Mr. Scully) found many of them hand and glove with the Castle at Dublin, and attending the levees and drawing-rooms of the Lord Lieutenant, where, he believed, an Irish Liberal Member had scarcely been seen during the administration of the right hon. Baronet. He remembered the time when the Irish representation in that House was in exactly the converse state from what it was now—when the Liberals possessed the majority of five-sevenths which was now possessed by the Tories. Now, we had about seventy-five Conservative representatives from Ireland and only thirty Liberals. On Irish questions the Anglo-Irish Members did not show themselves much advanced either as Liberals or Irishmen. Not one of that class took part in the debate of the previous evening on the paragraph in the Royal Speech relating to Ireland; and above others he should like to hear from the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, the noble Lord the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas), his opinions on the subject. The great grievance of which Ireland had to complain at the present time was the exhaustive drains upon her population and capital. He did not himself complain of over-taxation, but what he complained of was the great drain of capital out of the country, with no corresponding expenditure within it. And in order to prove his assertion he should quote a few statistics which, if incorrect, he should prefer being set right by the President of the Board of Trade, and not the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland, as he well knew how that right hon. Baronet dealt with figures. He would remind the House that he had never over-stated anything within his knowledge, and in this instance he should also endeavour to keep within the mark. The Imperial taxation which was taken out of Ireland could not be stated at less than £6,000,000, though he believed it had amounted to £7,000,000 a year. Absentee rents transmitted to England he would take at a sum of £4,000,000, though he believed they were nearer £6,000,000; and that the amount had been rather improving as regarded England, or increasing as regarded Ireland, for the last thirty years. Then, Ireland paid at least £4,000,000 annually in respect of foreign imports, such as corn, wine, rum, brandy, tea, sugar, and tobacco; but he did not complain so much of that, because she got some value in return, though he would rather it was taken out in Irish manufactures. There were, however, no corresponding exports, and the £4,000,000 was paid in gold and silver. In addition, there were £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 in respect of English and Scotch manufactures imported into Ireland. Woollens, calicoes, hardware, all came from England—and spirits were introduced from Scotland. Then there was a further drain of fully £4,000,000 through the operation of Irish Banks—such as the Provincial and National—having their head offices in London. These several items would amount to £22,000,000 drained from the country annually. Then look at the emigration since the famine year. During the last three years it averaged upwards 100,000 a year; and if they valued an Irishman at half the price of an American nigger— say £100—there was another item of £10,000,000 of loss to Ireland. More than £200 was given as bounty to an Irishman, on enlisting into the American army. This item looked small and con- temptible, as 100,000 Irishmen, but £10,000,000 was a large sum of money. All this made up a total annual drain exceeding £30,000,000 sterling. And what equivalents did Ireland receive for those large losses? The other day the Lord Lieutenant said the exports and imports of Ireland had increased very considerably. The Lord Lieutenant had jumbled the two things together; and doubtless he may have been right when he said that the imports and exports together had increased. If he had said that the imports had increased, that would have been true; but the exports had greatly diminished. The traffic on one of the principal railways connecting Dublin and Cork with several important inland towns, showed that the importations from Dublin and Cork were as nine to one when compared with the exports from the inland districts to the seaport towns. For every £100 worth sent to the seaports, £1,000 worth of foreign goods were received from the coast. It would probably be asked where did the money come from to pay for these things? From the sale of meat, butter, and wool. If not, where did it come from? It was suggested by an hon. Member that a large quantity of hay had been sold this year. So much the worse for Ireland. There was so much less manure to be applied to the land. The first step towards a remedy for that state of things was to govern Ireland through Irishmen. He Would like to know whether the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland would allow the manure to be carried away from his farms at Tamworth to neighbouring properties? He had no personal feeling against the right hon. Baronet, but he objected to his occupying his present position. Personally, he wished the right hon. Baronet every prosperity; but as regarded Ireland he would rather have his room than his company. He wished that the right hon. Baronet would make himself scarce in Ireland. He was unfit for his present position. If the country were governed through qualified men, there were several measures which might be usefully introduced for its amelioration. He did not pretend to suggest panaceas, but as palliatives he desired to see the introduction of some measure, not of a revolutionary character, but undertaken in a bond fide spirit, which should give the Irish tenant an interest in the soil upon which he expended his labour and capital on permanent improvements. The Government might also assist arterial drainage, and the reclamation of waste lands. He further wished to inquire what were the intentions of the Government with regard to the Irish railways, which at present in some respects rather obstructed than facilitated the goods traffic? There was also the question of the Established Church to be disposed of—that Church being only an insult to the majority of Irishmen; and likewise there was the iniquitous system of deporting paupers from England to Ireland. The effect of these grievances upon the minds of the people of Ireland was shown by a letter which appeared in The Times of December 26, 1864, stating that no less than 500,000 Irishmen in America had formed themselves into a body called Fenians, who were bound by oath to take up arms against England whenever she should be unfortunate enough to be involved in war. Such was not the feeling of English or Scotch emigrants, and he trusted measures would be taken to eradicate such sentiments from the hearts of the Irish people. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.


seconded the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, In paragraph 11, to leave out the words "and that Ireland during the past year has had its share in the advantages of a good Harvest, with a gradual extension of Trade and Manufactures," in order to insert the words "we regret that the general condition of Ireland cannot be regarded as prosperous or satisfactory, and that multitudes of the inhabitants continue to emigrate to foreign countries through the want of remunerative employment at home,"—(Mr. Scully,) —instead thereof.


Sir, in reply to the hon. and learned Member for Cork, I will supplement the statement I made last night by a very few remarks, for I understand the hon. and learned Member does not propose to divide. I think that the general view taken by this House last evening, after the statement which I then made, was that the paragraph in question was not altogether uncalled for. I believe, on my conscience, the statement, that the prospects of Ireland during the past year have greatly improved to be correct. The grain and potato crop was most abundant, and the hon. Member (Mr. Scully) himself admits that the grazing interest was prosperous. Now, the grazing interest in Ireland is a most prominent one. But the hon. Gentleman says that even if the statement be true, the paragraph in Her Majesty's Speech respecting Ireland is calculated to mislead. That is an Irishism I certainly do not profess to understand. The hon. Gentleman, in referring to the Irish railways, has assured the House that the traffic of the country is dearer now than it was twenty or thirty years ago; but can any one credit such a statement? Look at the immense development of the Irish railways during the last few years, the expenditure incurred in constructing them being no less than £24,000,000 sterling, nearly the whole of which has been contributed by Irish capitalists, and the traffic on these lines has largely increased. That is a proof of material progress, which no one can gainsay. On the question of drainage, I quite agree that a vast amount of damage has arisen from the overflowing of a considerable stream and its tributaries, and we are using our best endeavours to do something to alleviate the evil. Another evidence of the material prosperity of the country is the great development of property which is taking place. I am informed that more than £1,600,000 has been invested in various operations in Dublin alone within the last twelve months, and a large sum has been expended in Belfast in the erection of buildings for commercial and other purposes. [Mr. SCULLY: And Gal-way?] No doubt there has been great distress in Galway, as I admitted and regretted last night; but that it arose out of circumstances beyond the control of the Government, and I am glad to say the residents in the county are doing all in their power to alleviate it. Already some symptoms of improvement are perceptible. I also hold in my hand a Report, dated the 3rd of February last, which is very significant. It states that the magistrates and the cesspayers have not proposed any new works for the assistance of the poor; and therefore shows, that in the opinion of these persons, the distress is merely temporary and is decreasing, as I myself believe. As a Motion by the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) involving the same question will come on before the House in a few days, I refrain from entering into details at present; but I believe I shall then be able to show that of late the prosperity of Ireland generally has vastly improved, and that the spirit of enterprise and of commerce has greatly increased. In conclusion, I must express my firm belief that, if the present year is any- thing like the last, we shall see Ireland assuming that position as part of this great Empire which her resources, her manufactures, and the character of her people entitle her to occupy.


represented a constituency (Limerick) at present suffering under great distress. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that Ireland was endeavouring to assist herself. Flax was being grown to a great extent, and although at present there was some difficulty in conveying the produce to market, yet in a short time that inconvenience would be overcome. In his county alone there had been three times as much flax grown this year as there had been last; therefore, he had reason to hope that a gleam of prosperity was at length coming to Ireland. In the town of Limerick there was a large amount of distress attributable to want of employment, and he hoped that in the spring money would be advanced by the Government to enable them to employ the poor. This would be the last time, he trusted, that they should have to whine at the doors at Downing Street for assistance, as the Irish people must be taught, and must learn, and in fact were learning to work for themselves, and not to look to others for assistance.


declined to place any faith in the report from Galway read by the right hon. Baronet, on which he founded his belief that the distress in that part was decreasing. It must be recollected that the magistrates were landed proprietors, and therefore naturally averse to increasing their own burdens to afford relief to the destitute. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I said the magistrates and the cesspayers.] That made no difference whatever, as it was well known that the cesspayers were chosen by the landed proprietors, and were, therefore, compelled to act in accordance with their wishes. The paragraph in the Speech meant nothing, and it would have been much better to have omitted it altogether. It was true, as the right hon. Baronet said last night, that in 1860 Irish Members complained that the Royal Speech contained no reference to their country; but it was no compensation for that omission that they should now be told that Providence had sent them a good harvest. For that harvest the people of Ireland were grateful to Providence, and if the Government did something for them they would be thankful to them too.

Question put, "That the words proposed to he left out stand part of the said Address."

The House divided: —Ayes 67; Noes 12: Majority 55.


said, he regretted to find that Her Majesty's Speech contained no reference to the state of the public services of the country. He believed there never was a time when it was more necessary than it was at the present moment that we should place our establishments on an effective footing. We had recently created an iron-clad navy which, with the exception of some four ships, had turned out to be a complete failure; and they must all be anxious to know something of the policy of the Government with respect to that arm of the public service. Our relations with the States of North America were not in a satisfactory position; and it was a lamentable fact that if anything should occur to disturb the peace which now happily reigned between the two countries, and which, he trusted, would be maintained—should anything occur to disturb that peace, we were not in a position to defend our commerce in any part of the world. From the information he had received, he was led to believe that the Americans possessed ships not only stronger and carrying heavier guns than ours, but surpassing them in speed and in capacity for keeping the sea. He was sorry that no representative of the Admiralty was present upon this occasion; and he wished to state, that he proposed to take an early opportunity of calling the attention of the House to that point. With regard to India, he found that the Indian Minister had introduced into Her Majesty's Speech a paragraph which only faintly represented the different questions of great importance which should be attended to in that country. The cyclone was the only circumstance in the history of India to which any allusion was made; but there was nothing said about the circumstances of that calamity, or the means which it was desirable to adopt for the purpose of preventing the recurrence of such a disaster. Some thirty years ago—in May 1833, or 1834— there was a storm of the same description, and he was witness to the enormous loss of life on that occasion. Yet since that time no effort had been made, by the setting up of sea walls and dykes, to prevent the recurrence of such an accident, which might have been prevented by the erection of suitable barriers. Such a calamity not only swept away the crops and destroyed the inhabitants, bat it filled the wells with salt water, and turned the most fruitful country in the world into a desert. If precautions had been taken, the harm might have been much diminished. The storm wave arrived at the mouth of the Hooghly two hours before it reached Calcutta, to which it rolled up in a wall of water fifteen feet high. He wished to call the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the fact, that if there had been telegraphic communication established many lives might have been preserved; and if the captains had had two hours' notice they might have adopted measures which would have greatly mitigated the losses which were unfortunately sustained; and he might add his belief that if the vessels had been riding at chains tested to Admiralty proof many of those which were lost would have escaped destruction. There were other questions connected with India to which he thought reference ought to have been made. He considered that Indian accounts of revenue and expenditure ought to be presented early in the Session, so that they might undergo a proper review; and that they should always be made up to the end of the year, and then presented so as to appear concurrently with the other revenue accounts. He would also call the attention of the Government to the importance of deepening the channel between Ceylon and the continent, which would not involve a larger outlay than had been made upon many great railway works within twenty miles of London. If this were done, readier means of communication would be established between the cotton-growing districts of India and the great granaries of the county. He should take the opportunity of calling the attention of the House to these questions more fully at a future time, and would merely state further that he should support the Address.

Address agreed to; —to be presented by Privy Councillors.

LORDS COMMISSIONERS' SPEECH,—to be taken into consideration Tomorrow.