§ MR. HENNESSY
rose to move the Amendment of which he had given notice—That this House observes with regret the decline of the population of Ireland, and will readily support Her Majesty's Government in any well devised measure to stimulate the profitable employment of the people: and that an Address to the Crown be proposed, founded on the foregoing Resolution.And said, that during the recess the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a speech on public affairs, in the course of which he said that the condition of Ireland was deplorable; and the right hon. Gentleman had been corroborated during the present Session by two English Gentlemen who had visited Ireland during the recess, the hon. Members for Chippenham (Mr. Long) and for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour), the former of whom said he was horrified at its condition, while the latter said the state of Ireland was a disgrace to the British Government. The time, he thought, had now come for inquiry to what extent Ireland was really a part of the United Kingdom. Sixty-four years ago, Mr. Pitt expressed his opinion that an 662 united kingdom was a kingdom united in laws, in interests, and in prosperity, and that shared the same social and commercial progress. Was that a description of Ireland and Great Britain? Did Ireland share the prosperity of Great Britain? Before saying anything as to the prosperity of Ireland or her want of prosperity, he would point out certain other differences between the two countries; and firstly, as to legislation. This was called an united Parliament, but what had it been doing since the Union? It had passed since the Union more Acts relating to Ireland alone than were passed by the Parliament of Ireland in the sixty-four years before the Union, At this moment nearly one half of the Government Bills which appeared on the Order Book of the House related to Ireland exclusively, and a large number of the rest to Great Britain exclusively. Not many evenings back, the President of the Poor Law Board brought in a Bill which was not to apply to Ireland, while the Chief Secretary for Ireland brought in a Bill which was to apply to Ireland only. In respect of legislation, then, the United Kingdom did not fulfil the conditions which eminent statesmen at the time of the Union thought was necessary. It was not merely that the Acts of Parliament relating to Ireland and England differed—they differed in their very essence. When Lord John Russell brought in his Poor Law Bill for Ireland, he said it was founded on a principle diametrically the reverse of that contained in the English Poor Law Bill. When the Minister for Education proposed a scheme, he said, "In Ireland, the principle of public instruction is directly the reverse of what prevails here." So it was in almost everything else—one principle and one law prevailing in England, and in Ireland a different principle and a different law. Take the question of the tenure of land—there was one law in England, another law in Ireland. In describing the different systems which prevailed in the two countries, Lord Derby said—Could it be denied that upon a vast space of the surface of Ireland there was immense room for improvement to be effected by labour, and that there was a vast amount of superabundant labour seeking for and desirous of employment, but the employment of which was checked because there was no certainty of a return for the laying out of capital? In England the right of the tenant was secured not only by law but by the custom of the country, which was equivalent to law; that right was capable of being pleaded in a court of law, and compensation was awarded for improvements, made not only without the 663 consent of the landlord, but if made without asking his leave for a single one of them.Judge Longfield, through whose hands one-third of the whole property of Ireland had passed, speaking in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief Secretary, and the Lord Chancellor, suggested that this difference of usage should be remedied by a legislative enactment, and he proposed a scheme precisely similar to one put into his (Mr. Hennessy's) hands by the West-meath Farmers' Club, and which he put before the House in 1860. If, said Judge Longfield, the landlord refused to enter into a contract for allowing compensation—In such cases the tenant ought not to be without a remedy. He ought to have a right to summon the landlord before the court of quarter sessions, and there get an order for liberty to make the improvements, unless the landlord showed good cause to the contrary. It is not likely that this resort to legal proceedings would often be necessary. The existence of the right would prevent the necessity of its exercise.There were two other differences existing between the two countries which, at first sight, seemed to tell in favour of Ireland. The first was that when properly drained the soil of Ireland was absolutely more fertile than that of Great Britain. The late Mr. M'Culloch, Professor Lowe, and Professor Johnstone were all of this opinion; and Sir Robet Kane, Director of the Museum of Irish Industry, and a high authority on the industrial resources of his country, confirmed it, giving various calculations made by various authorities, the result being that, taking the mean value of an acre of land in England at 16, it was 14 in Scotland, and in Ireland 17½. These calculations presupposed in each case an equal amount of drainage. Again, the second difference was this, that not only was the soil of Ireland more fertile than that of Great Britain, but the labouring population of Ireland possessed physical qualities greater than those of a similar class in England and Scotland. Professor Forbes, of Edinburgh, corroborated the statement of Professor Quetelet, of Brussels, who, as the result of a long series of experiments, found that the average strength in pounds of an Englishman was 4031b.; of a Scotchman, 4231b.; and of an Irishman, 4321b. Another high authority, Mr. Field, of London, arrived substantially at the same conclusion. Physically, therefore, Ireland seemed to have certain natural advantages over England; but she had also several disadvantages. The first was that the mining wealth of England was abnor- 664 mally great, while that of Ireland was abnormally small. Another difference was in the physical geography and climate of the two countries, which had much influence on the agriculture. In Great Britain the land in the centre of the island was elevated. In Ireland, on the other hand, the mountain ranges were round the coast, the central regions were remarkably flat, and Ireland had to rely for drainage on the Shannon and other great rivers. In Ireland arterial drainage was a vital question. There were, then, many differences between Great Britain and Ireland; and the difference he had just adverted to was well worthy of the attention of the Government. While it appeared on the most unquestionable authority that the material prosperity of Ireland had of late years been continually decreasing, and while they were told by two English Members that the state of Ireland was disgraceful to the British Government, they heard from the Chief Secretary for Ireland what he might call the old story that Ireland presented symptoms of great improvement and prosperity. Since the first night of the Session a speech had been delivered in Ireland to a few facts in which he would now call attention. It was a speech delivered on the 11th of the present month, at the half-yearly meeting of the Great Southern and Western Railway—the great trunk railway of that country. The chairman explained how it happened that the dividends of that railway, which went from Dublin to Cork, and constituted a great index of the prosperity or want of prosperity of Ireland, had fallen. He said—I shall not, however, attempt to conceal from you the great disappointment that I feel as to the state of our traffic—especially for some months past. I fully calculated that after two good harvests had been secured in succession we might reasonably have expected some reaction from the dreadful state of depression under which this company has now laboured for five years back; but, on the contrary, since October last our traffic has rather diminished. I find by reference to official documents in the Audit Office that we have lost in goods during the last six months, compared with the corresponding period of 1863, not less than 8,342 tons of goods. In cattle we lost 9,217 head, and in sheep 12,132 head. Now, taking those different items at the rates which we receive for their conveyance—namely, 8s. 5½d. per ton for goods, 3s. per head for cattle, and 1s. per head for sheep—they will amount for the half year to the sum of £5,500. If you compare 1864 with 1863, and take the same data, the loss to which we have been subject under these different heads is £9,800.; If you compare 1864 with 1862, the loss will be not less than £21,600, or considerably more than one-half per cent of your dividend, 665 We lost 40,000 tons of goods in the last two years. I will now bring some facts before you connected with cattle, which I think you will say, when you have heard them, are not only of very great importance to this company, but also to the country at large. The decrease in our cattle traffic for the last six months—when I speak of cattle I mean oxen, horned cattle—has been 21 per cent. and in sheep the decrease has been 17 per cent.Such was the statement of the chair-man of the principal railway company in Ireland, and in their report the directors stated their regret that the expectations of increased prosperity, which they calculated on in their last report, had not been realized; the traffic had diminished, and they were unable to offer a satisfactory solution of that lamentable result; but they believed a similar diminution had been experienced in all other Irish railways. It might, perhaps, be said that, though railway traffic had declined, traffic in Ireland had increased in another direction. But the returns of the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, the steam company connected with the Chester and Holyhead line, and the Cork Steamship Company, and of the Great Canal which ran from Dublin to the centre of Ireland, told the same story. With regard to the steam packets, the chairman of the railway he had just mentioned stated—Now, I have been favoured by returns from the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company, and from the steam company connected with the Chester and Holyhead line, and also from the Cork Steamship Company, and I am authorized to make use of them at this meeting. By those returns I find that there is a decrease in cattle shipped from Dublin during the last six months of 17,209, and a decrease in sheep of 31,475. The decrease from Cork is—cattle, 18,333; sheep, 18,819; making a total decrease from those two ports of 75,830 head of cattle and sheep. I have also been favoured with returns of the percentage of loss from both Dublin and Cork, and also from Waterford. Within the last six months the decrease of cattle shipped from Dublin was 17 per cent, and the decrease of sheep 19 per cent. The decrease from Cork was 60 per cent of cattle, and 46 per cent. of sheep. The decrease from Water-ford was 50 per cent cattle, and 45 per cent sheep. Now these are very strong facts, and well worthy of consideration. What is the question we then naturally ask ourselves? We are told on all hands that the tillage of Ireland has been decreasing for years, and that the pasture land has been increasing, and yet we find beyond all question that the quantity of cattle and sheep produced for a number of years fit for the market is less than it used to be.In the corn circular of Messrs. J. and C. Sturge, of February 5, 1864, it was stated—Turning to Ireland, we find that country imports breadstuffs nearly as large as ever, while 666 the process of 'selling up,' to which we have before alluded, continues on much the same scale as in the three past years, the diminution in stock having been 23,715 horses, 426,125 cattle, 298,411 sheep, and 112,803 pigs. The area of wheat grown was only 264,766 acres, or 21,555 less than in the previous year, and about a similar extent of land seems to have gone altogether out of cultivation. This selling off of farm stock and the diminution in deposits at the different banks, referred to in Dr. Hancock's report to the Government, to a great extent explain what had been so puzzling a problem to many in the trade—namely, how Ireland paid for her large importations of corn.That was, Ireland was using her capital to supply the shortcomings of her income—a fatal system. Messrs. Sturge said that 21,000 acres had gone out of cultivation; but that was an under-statement, for, according to the agricultural statistics on the table of the House, there had been in 1864, as compared with 1863, an increase in Ireland of bog and waste uncultivated to the extent of 58,000 acres, and the cereal and green crops also had greatly declined. The picture was a sad one, and it was made more sad when this decline of prosperity, instead of being frankly acknowledged by the Government, was denied. Neither were the symptoms of improvement and prosperity referred to by the Chief Secretary to be found in the Emigration Returns. In June, last year, he (Mr. Hennessy) called attention to the fact that emigration from Ireland was going on as rapidly as in 1863; but the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland denied the accuracy of that statement, and assured the House that at the end of the year the emigration would be found to be less than that of the year preceding. But he (Mr. Hennessy) found in the Government statistics which had recently been laid on the table of the House the following statement of Mr. Donnelly, Registrar General:—The number of emigrants from each province during the first seven months of 1864 compared with the same period in 1863 is given at page 20. According to the returns received, 84,586 persons left Ireland this year up to the 31st of July, who stated it was their intention not to return, being an increase of 4,080 on the number for last year. The entire number of emigrants since the date when their enumeration at the several ports of Ireland commenced, 1st of May, 1851, to the 31st of July last, amounted to 1,499,642 persons.What, again, said Lord Wodehouse, speaking at the Lord Mayor's banquet in Dublin? His Lordship stated—While this emigration is so large I must tell you it is not diminishing. There is a large increase as compared with 1863. Look to the po- 667 sition of any agricultural country and consider it. Far be it from me to shut out from consideration the duty of endeavouring to stop this emigration by opening new sources of employment for the people.There were two admissions in that speech—first, that emigration was going on; and, secondly, that it was the duty of those who had the power to check it by opening new sources of employment. They were told last Session that emigration was the safety-valve of Ireland; and yet the Chief Secretary, speaking at the Royal Dublin Society, said—I do not admit myself that emigration ought to be considered the safety-valve of Ireland. I want to see that employment for the agricultural labourers which will do away with all this talk about emigration being the safety-valve for Ireland, and how can we do this but by such works as the hon. Gentleman pointed out?The works in question were mainly works of arterial drainage. He must congratulate the Chief Secretary upon having made this admission, that emigration ought not to be considered the safety-value of the country, and that they ought to check it if they had power to do so. From the "Money Article" in The Times of that day it appeared that some gentlemen were afraid of a drain of gold to Spain. When a drain of gold was apprehended means were taken to check it by a rise in the rate of discount. There was now going on from Ireland a drain of the population, who were more precious to this country than gold or silver, and, as he thought, it was the duty of the Government to check it by stimulating the profitable employment of the people. How was that employment to be stimulated? A few minutes ago his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) asked a question about the works upon the Shannon—a subject to which he himself called attention last June. It appeared that in consequence of the execution of certain Government works upon that river thousands of acres along its banks which were once fertile land were now every year covered with water. According to the report of Mr. Bateman the expenditure of a sum of about £280,000 would relieve the banks of the Shannon from the superabundant water, and would reclaim something like 30,000 acres of land, which might produce food, and the cultivation of which would furnish employment for the people. This, however, was but a small part of the question. The Marquess of Clanricarde, one of the ablest and most zealous of his 668 countrymen, who had studied this subject most carefully, had had a correspondence with the Chief Secretary which appeared to terminate all controversy. Lord Clanricarde read the speech made at the meeting of the Royal Dublin Society, in which the right hon. Baronet not only said that the people ought to be employed, but went on to give advice to the Opposition in that House, saying—We have a strong body in Parliament. Every county, as the hon. Gentleman has said, has its representative to advocate its interests. 'What I should like to see would be a measure pressed upon the Government—pressed upon the Imperial Government and upon Parliament by that legitimate Parliamentary influence, that fair and honourable co-operation and pressure, which would result in the carrying of such a measure—a measure which would have the effect, in my mind, of greatly relieving the agricultural interests by the fair and just granting of public money for the purpose of draining in this country. I maintain that this is a great Imperial question. I look upon the drainage of those vast tracts in Ireland as a question which ought to be dealt with by the Imperial Legislature. Individual proprietors cannot grapple with it—every one admits that. Look at what the Imperial Legislature spent upon the Caledonian Canal in Scotland. Look at what the Imperial Parliament spent upon the Ottawa River navigation works in Canada—over a million sterling for 123 miles. And then look at our magnificent Shannon, spreading over 200 miles of this country, running through ten counties, and having a population on its immediate borders of over a million of people. Does not that represent something worthy of the support of the Imperial Parliament?Struck by that speech, Lord Clanricarde addressed to the Chief Secretary the following letter:—
§ "Portumna, Nov. 25, 1864.
§ "My dear Peel,—I read with great satisfaction and pleasure your speech at the Royal Dublin Society. I am glad that you think, as I do, that the most immediate, obvious, and practical improvement to be effected in this country is to be made by drainage on a large scale, such as the districts of the Suck and Shannon require; and I rejoice that you justly consider the drainage of the extensive districts to be 'an Imperial question.' I should be sorry to ask you any premature questions, but whenever you can tell me that the Government have taken the matter in hand seriously I shall be much obliged if you will do so, because I am at present, at my own cost, taking what I believe to be the best opinion in the kingdom upon a great portion of the Shannon and its works, with a view to the contest which, until I read your speech, I feared was inevitable I am, amp;c. "CLANRICARDE."
§ To that communication the right hon. Baronet sent this reply—
§ "Dublin Castle, Nov. 27, 1864.
§ "My dear Clanricarde,—I am pleased to find that you approve the remarks which I took occasion to offer at a recent meeting of the Royal 669 Dublin Society; and inasmuch as the works already executed under the general designation of Shannon improvements have had the effect of diminishing the value of the flooded lands adjoining that river, I am satisfied that the drainage of the Shannon, during its course of 140 miles, is a subject of national importance, towards which the revenues of the State might very fairly be called upon to contribute. Certain it is that this is a work which can never be executed at the cost of the parties who are owners of the flooded lands, and that it ought not to be at their cost. Such are my honest convictions, not as a party man, but as a public man, having given some attention to the subject, and by expressing rather than concealing them any longer I feel I may be doing some service to Ireland.
§ "ROBERT PEEL."
The question, therefore, was now in a very different position from that which it occupied last year. Last year the people of Ireland were told that they must do everything themselves; arterial drainage might be wanted, but the proprietors must undertake it—now they had the Irish Government supporting Lord Clanricarde, and supporting those who had for years been calling attention to this subject, in the view that the Imperial Parliament ought to take some steps in the matter. It was possible that the Government might have been to some extent influenced by the evidence which was taken by the Select Committee presided over by his hon. Friend the Member for Queen's County (Colonel Dunne). Mr. Senior, a gentleman who had resided in Ireland for twenty years as a Poor Law Commissioner, and who was, he believed, called to give evidence on behalf of the Government, was asked, "Do you believe that the best thing that could be done for Ireland would be to drain it?" And his reply was, "I do." That was his own opinion. Whatever the Government or that House could do to stimulate the profitable employment of the people ought mainly to be directed towards drainage. The hon. Baronet who was Secretary of the Treasury under Lord Derby's Government (Sir Stafford Northcote), and therefore an authority on finance, presented a draught Report to the same Committee, which contained this passage:—
Drainage being the improvement of which Ireland chiefly stands in need, your Committee recommend this question to the favourable consideration of the Government.
Such were the views of the best authorities; in Ireland the best-informed practical men like Lord Clanricarde; in the Government, the Chief Secretary; and in Select Committees, some of the ablest and most intelligent Members of that
House. He had some fault to find with the Chief Secretary, because when last year, in calling attention to a kindred subject—the reclamation of waste lands—he stated, upon the authority of Sir Richard Griffith (who fixed the amount at 3,377,000 acres), that there were in Ireland 3,500,000 acres of land at present uncultivated which were susceptible of economical cultivation, the right hon. Baronet said—
Instead of the 3,500,000 acres which the hon. Member alleged, there must, I think, be less than one-half that quantity now available for improvement.
During the recess the right hon. Gentleman had looked into the subject, and had not only adopted the figures which he (Mr. Hennessy) bad used in that House, but had added to them. He said—
Why do not the Government come forward now and treat an Imperial question like this as it ought to be treated?
One would think that it was an agitator and not a Privy Councillor who was addressing the people.
Why do not the Government come forward now and treat an Imperial question like this as it ought to be treated? Sir Richard Griffith has told us that there is no bog land in Ireland that cannot be drained. Sir Richard Griffith tells us that it is a very agreeable reflection that you may drain, I will not say the very worst, but some of the worst land in Ireland, for, I think, £7, or certainly £710s. an acre, and that in two years afterwards that land would be worth 30s. an acre. Therefore, considering that we have in this country about 4,500,000 acres of land in the condition which we have referred to, and considering that in the opinion of Sir Richard Griffith it could be brought into a valuable condition, I do think that this question is well worthy of the attention of the public.
As to the extent of land he was willing to adhere to the figures which he placed before the House last year, with this painful addition, that, as would be seen from the Report of Mr. Donnelly, since he spoke, 58,000 acres which were in cultivation in 1863 had become unoccupied and waste. It therefore appeared without question that there were in Ireland between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 acres of waste land which were susceptible of economical cultivation. As to the number of families for whom the improvement of those lands would provide, he would quote an authority that could not be said to be prejudiced in favour of Ireland. The special agricultural correspondent of The Times, writing from Dublin in October, 1861, said—
This addition of 4,000,000 acres to the labour needing area would provide work for 600,000 men, representing as heads of families probably 2,500,000 inhabitants.
§ Sir Robert Kane, the Director of the Museum of Irish Industry, said that there existed in Ireland millions of acres of land perfectly well adapted for cultivation, but which had never yet supplied a morsel of food for man; that the cultivation of these wastes, if reclaimed, as had been proved by decisive practical evidence, would give remunerative employment to a population far exceeding that which Ireland possessed before the years of famine. As to Ireland being over-populated, hon. Members would do well to read the essay written by Mr. Blacker, who received a medal for it from the Royal Dublin Society, and who was the manager of the largest estate in the county of Armagh. In that essay the writer made the extraordinary calculation that with a good system of arterial drainage, 37,000,000 of people might be maintained in Ireland. When Ireland had 8,500,000 of inhabitants, it exported food; whereas now, with only 5,000,000, she had to import it and pay for it out of her capital. It was often said, especially by the Scotch Members, although he was not certain that it was perfectly accurate, that Ireland was more than half a century behind Scotland; but assuming the accuracy of that assertion, would the Scotch Members do for Ireland now what the Imperial Parliament did for Scotland more than half a century ago? He would give the House a few facts relating to a great work carried out in Scotland, for which public money was voted, without one shilling of it ever being returned by that country. He referred to the Caledonian Canal, which was undertaken to promote inland navigation. In the first Report of the Commissioners it was stated that that canal was not only useful for inland navigation, but still more useful for drainage purposes. Well, the returns showed that the sum expended on that work from 1803 to 1834 was £953,000. He had also seen the Estimates for the six years between 1841 and 1847, and he found that in each of those years the Scotch Members managed to get £50,000 voted for the Caledonian Canal, making a total of £1,200,000 granted for a work which might have been beneficial to Scotland itself, but which could not possibly be treated as a work of Imperial necessity. But that was not all. They had also voted 672 large sums of public money for making roads and bridges in Scotland. He would not speak of the expenditure of £241,000 for military roads, amp;c, in Scotland, because that might be called an Imperial matter; but upon ordinary Scotch roads and bridges, which were in no sense Imperial, Parliament had lavished since 1803 the sum of £250,000, not one penny of which came hack to the Exchequer. Then again for canals in Canada, the Imperial Parliament had voted £977,000. All these sums were voted, not for Imperial purposes, but to promote the development of local traffic. If the Scotch Members, therefore, were under the impression that Ireland was half a century behind them, he thought they might give their support to a Motion like that which he had placed on the paper, and which clearly pointed to some action being taken by the Government in the direction indicated by the speech of the Chief Secretary. Indeed, his Motion, as the House would perceive, did not go as far as the speeches of the Chief Secretary. It began by expressing the regret which he thought they all felt at the decline of the population in Ireland; and then went on to declare that the House would readily support Her Majesty's Government in any well devised measures for stimulating the profitable employment of the people. He had pointed out that by expending money in the reclamation of waste lands, and in the introduction of a good system of arterial drainage, not only could the Government give remunerative employment to the people, but they could also affect the climate of Ireland. The difference in the physical geography of Great Britain and Ireland, to which he had referred, was not owing simply to the configuration of the sister island, but Ireland was somewhat more moist than England, owing to her greater rainfall; and everybody knew that the effect of rain upon the soil was very different from the action of the water which lay upon and underneath the soil. Land saturated with standing water was not suitable for the production of crops; whereas the rainfall brought down upon well drained land ammonia and other ingredients which were highly beneficial to cultivation. As far as rain was concerned, the people of Ireland had nothing to complain of; but they did complain that, owing to the want of arterial drainage, there was at certain seasons of the year a coldness of the soil, which rendered it unable to grow the crops that 673 would otherwise be produced. He believed that by some such measures as he had suggested, they could do something to check the emigration from Ireland, and that they could do it precisely in the direction indicated by the Chief Secretary. In moving the Resolution which he had placed on the paper, he was sure the House would do him the justice to believe that he was not actuated by party spirit, but wished to unite the general feeling of the House in an expression of regret at the condition of Ireland, and a determination to support any effort which the Government might make to promote the prosperity of that country.
§ COLONEL FRENCH,
in seconding the Motion, said he felt deeply grateful to his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for the boldness and manliness with which he had avowed the opinions which had that night been quoted. With regard to that magnificent river, the Shannon, some thirty years ago a Commission reported that £600,000 would be required, not only to carry out the improvement of its navigation, but to deepen it so as to admit the drainage of the ten counties through which it passed. In 1835 an Act was brought in for the execution of these works, one-half of the cost to be defrayed by public grant, and the other half to be defrayed by tolls. In case the tolls were not sufficient, a levy was to be made on the adjoining counties. Under these circumstances the Commissioners proceeded to act. Plans and sections were laid on the table; and the first step it might have been thought would have been to advertize for contracts. But no—the Commissioners not only planned the works and prepared estimates, but undertook to execute them. Had there been contractors, proceedings might have been taken against them for non-execution. But the Commissioners did not even execute the works; they altered their plans and made themselves judges as to how they were executed. The works completed and everything sought for obtained, now they said they must proceed to deal with repayments. They made allotments, and £300,000 was levied on the adjacent counties. The county he represented paid in principal and interest £100,000, and, instead of improvements, they had unfinished works. After repeated solicitation, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had sent a hydraulic engineer of eminence, Mr. Bateman, to examine the works. He went over the works, made a 674 report that they had not got value for their £300,000, and that to carry out the works would require a further sum of £280,000. There were two boats engaged in the navigation drawing six feet water, and instead of having boats built to suit the river, the river was to be made six feet deep to suit the draught of the two that now plied upon it. The work was important as a work of drainage, but not of navigation. But not only did they complain of contracts unfulfilled, but various sums had mysteriously disappeared, and no account could be had of them. He did not go so far as his hon. Friend with reference to reclamation of waste lands. When the late Lord George Bentinck brought forward his Bill for railways in Ireland a sum was to be advanced by the Government for reclamation; but the Government would not accede to that measure. Then the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) brought in a Bill on the subject; but it was not deemed desirable to carry it out. The statements made by different persona on this subject as to the enormous amount of waste lands in Ireland were exaggerated. The bog waste lands were every year being reclaimed by the population around them. Every person who had gone into the subject knew that very erroneous estimates had been made on the subject of the expense of reclamation. He was glad to learn that one portion of this subject was under the consideration of the Treasury, and that, in the course of a week, they might expect some intimation on the subject.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House observes with regret the decline of the population of Ireland, and will readily support Her Majesty's Government in any well-devised measure to stimulate the profitable employment of the people,"—(Mr. Hennessy,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
THE CHANCELLOR OR THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of traversing the very extended field that appears to be opened to the notice of the House by the Motion—not in the form in which the hon. Gentleman has brought it before us, but in the terms in which he originally gave notice of his intention to raise the question; but I will venture to 675 say a few words both on that aspect of the question that may be thought most to concern my own department, and likewise on some of the points touched by the Mover and Seconder. In the first place, my hon. Friend who seconded the Motion will not expect me to enter on the very important question of the drainage of the Shannon. As respects the history of that subject, it will be treated with much more knowledge and fulness of detail by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland; and as regards a portion of it my hon. and gallant Friend is already aware that it is under the consideration of the Government. Turning to the speech of the hon. Mover I frankly answer the appeal he made to the House when he said he hoped this would not be considered as in any sense a party Motion. Most certainly it would be a great misfortune if a question affecting the general condition of Ireland, the decline of its population, the happiness or suffering of its people, should come before this House as a party question. I entirely acquit the hon. Gentleman of having any object in view in bringing forward this Motion apart from the benefit of his country. I do not well know if there be any intention to take a vote on the Motion, of the terms of which we have only been put into possession this evening. I advert to that subject because the hon. Member has not distinctly stated his intention in the speech he has made; but I assume that he has no intention to call on the House for the expression of an opinion by division, for two reasons—first, he will observe that it will be a proceeding highly inconvenient as regards the business of the House if we were to be called to decide by a vote on propositions comprehending matters of great importance, the exact terms of which had been placed before the House only in the moving. But not only is such a practice to be shunned on the grounds of regularity and precedent, but likewise he will see that it requires very great consideration on the part of the House to deal properly with the terms in which it shall record its impression and sentiments with respect to so important a subject as the condition of Ireland. The hon. Gentleman in his Motion calls on the House to say that "this House observes with regret the decline of the population of Ireland." That is the first branch of his Motion. No doubt, it is the natural impulse of the mind to view that decline of the population with great regret; but to feel that sentiment for our- 676 selves is one thing, and to record it as the judgment of a great deliberative assembly is another thing. I must say we ought well to consider and examine, in a manner which we have now no power of examining, as to the whole social and economical bearings of that remarkable movement of the population now taking place in Ireland before we venture to record any opinion whatever regarding it by the House. Then, I must say, adverting to the character of the speech of the hon. Gentleman, that it would be most undesirable that the House should express vaguely and indefinitely its readiness to "support Her Majesty's Government in any well devised measure to stimulate the profitable employment of the people." I do not say that sentiment is unreasonable; but a sentiment of that kind is one thing in the speeches of individual Members and another thing in the formal records of the House. You must consider the expectations which you raise when the House of Commons puts on record such an opinion, and the bitter disappointment which will follow if it is afterwards found that you have matured nothing as to the mode in which you will give effect to your benevolent feelings, and that, in fact, you have been misleading people under a spontaneous impulse of benevolence. I certainly feel it would be highly inexpedient and would tend to defeat the doctrine laid down by the hon. Gentleman that we should avoid to impart to this discussion any character of party, if we should be called upon to give a vote upon this Motion—a vote which would be misconstrued by the people of Ireland, and would form a very inadequate vehicle for the expression of the feelings and judgment of the House. The hon. Member says it is the practice in this House to deal with England and Ireland on opposite principles. I will not enter into a review of the illustrations he has cited in illustration of that proposition. If there be such cases they require to be justified on strong and peculiar grounds. When we speak of the Union of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of the three as constituting the United Kingdom, we thereby give a solemn pledge to apply to one and all of the three countries the principles of equality and justice, and nothing but circumstances of a special and imperative character, or else causes that are entirely beyond our control, can warrant our deviating from the application of those principles. The idea of "justice to Ireland," as it is called, depends entirely on 677 the bonâ fide and loyal application to that country of the very same principles, but not necessarily in every instance in the very same form which are applied to the government of the rest of Her Majesty's subjects. The hon. Gentleman resorted to one illustration upon which I cannot avoid saying one word—I mean the illustration he drew from the case of Scotland. Now I must say I do not think Scotland and the Scotch are open to the animadversions of the hon. Member. I do not know that it has been in former times—I am certain it is not now—the characteristic of the people of Scotland or of their representatives to make any special, and what may be called peculiarly Scotch, calls on the funds of the nation. One illustration which the hon. Gentleman brought forward was the military roads. [Mr. HENNESSY:"No!"] Well, it is not worth going into it. What England did to a conquered country in regard to military roads can scarcely be called an undue favour to Scotland. Then the hon. Gentleman spoke of the vote for Highland roads and bridges. That is a very trivial case. The history of the vote may be traced back to a time when very different relations subsisted between England and Scotland from those of the present day. In the next place, did the Scotch Members object to the withdrawal of that vote? On the contrary, the Scotch Members cheerfully consented to the withdrawal of the vote when the pleasure of the House was declared. But that vote was not a simple grant from the Imperial treasury to Scotland. At that time the Government had a mail service to perform over those roads, and when the practice of passing that vote was given up the Government forfeited its right to free transit over the roads; and it was found to be in the power of the Scotch counties to impose charges to the amount of a very large portion of the sum which had been withdrawn from the roads. The thing came, therefore, to much the same in the end. This was a very insignificant affair to form an article in a great national indictment. The instance to which the hon. Gentleman attached most importance was the Caledonian Canal. He told us, to my perfect astonishment, that the Caledonian Canal was not an Imperial work, but was undertaken for the promotion of inland navigation, and exceedingly beneficial to the drainage of Scotland. The hon. Gentleman clearly has never been through the Caledonian Canal. If he had been he 678 would know that there is no line of country to which nature has been more lavish in facilities for spontaneous drainage than the district of this Canal. I suppose that the acres of arable land on its banks may be counted by hundreds, perhaps by tens. Precipitous mountains wall it in on each side. Ben Nevis, no doubt, is much indebted to the hon. Gentleman for his anxiety that it should be well drained. But this was not a question of drainage or inland navigation. The Canal may have been a mistaken work—I am afraid it was; but if ever there was a work thoroughly and absolutely Imperial it is the Caledonian Canal. It was made, not for Scotch purposes, but exclusively under the expectation that it would save the shipping of the kingdom what was deemed the dangerous sea passage round Cape Wrath. I desire to observe impartiality in regard to all claims for one or other of the three countries on the public purse, but with regard to the present, and even with regard to the past, I am bound to say that, on the whole, Scotland comes into court with clean hands in this respect. The hon. Gentleman has not shown any well-adjusted scheme, or even the elements of a scheme, for remedying the evils he speaks of which would justify the vote he asks under present circumstances. The Seconder of the Motion himself does not venture to claim a vote for draining the basin of the Shannon, or to follow the Mover in regard to the expenditure of money on waste lands. In fact, it would not be worthy of the position of the hon. Member or of the dignity of the House to pass a vote based on the idea of a general improvement of waste lands by the Government in the present state of the facts. To whom do these waste lands belong? They are not the property of the State—they belong to somebody; and there ought to be a full and careful investigation on these and other points before any proposal is made. I do not say the plan is impossible; but I am sure that further inquiry is needed before the House is placed in the alternative of affirming a a Motion to reclaim the waste lands at the expense of the Imperial Treasury, or of exposing itself to the risk of being deemed by the Irish people indifferent to their interests if it reject the vote. The main proposition of the hon. Gentleman, of course, is that a certain amount of the public funds should be applied to the special benefit of Ireland. I do not make that any ground of charge against the hon. Gentleman, 679 I do not say that it is a proposition obviously on the face of it unreasonable, but I should think it highly unreasonable if the House were compelled to give such a vote before the proper time and in vague terms. But I think the proposition is one which deserves fair consideration at the hands of the House. The appointment of the Select Committee last year on Irish taxation was understood to be the prelude to a claim on the part of Ireland to be placed on a footing somewhat different from absolute equality in regard to her contributions to the public Treasury. I for one, am not shocked in principle at the idea of drawing some distinction (provided it be not unsound but justifiable in principle, and not detrimental in character) between Ireland and Great Britain in that respect. Let us, however, consider the modes in which there is apparent on the part of Ireland, either in the proceedings in Parliament or elsewhere, a disposition to claim special privileges. In the first place, there is, I think, a tendency to claim that public expenditure in Ireland shall not be limited strictly to the amount required for the purposes in view, or fixed to the spot which is deemed most for the general convenience and efficiency of the public service; but that it shall be applied for the benefit of a particular locality and in a fixed degree. Against that principle and every modification of it I entirely protest. Nothing could in my opinion be more detrimental. It might be proposed in perfect good faith, but it is nevertheless a principle fraught with every kind of mischief to Ireland herself as well as to the country at large. What is the public expenditure? What is a tax? It is money taken by the Government out of the pockets of the people. What right have the Government to take that money? Simply the necessity which exists to satisfy the public wants. And if they proceed to satisfy the public wants are they not bound to do so in the best, most efficient, and at the same time most economic manner in their power? If these principles are true and elementary they cut at the root of the whole idea of geographical expenditure, and of the argument that any particular province, or county, or parish possesses a right to have expended within its limits a share of the general expenditure of the country corresponding to its taxation. I should like to know what would be thought if Scotland, through her representatives, made a claim such as is some- 680 times made on behalf of Ireland—that the amount of taxation raised in Scotland should be laid out within the limits of Scotland alone. 1s it not true that from the very necessity of the case a considerable portion of the public expenditure of a nation must take place in its metropolis, wherever situated; and that there are reasons which determine the expenditure connected with our military and naval establishments altogether incapable of being reduced under the operation of any geographical law? And now let me ask what is the proportion which the expenditure in Scotland bears to her taxation? I doubt whether a quarter of the revenue of that country—and it is but right to say I am now speaking without basing the statement on any minute or accurate calculation—is spent within her borders. That is my belief; and does Scotland, I would ask, suffer owing to that fact, or regret it? Does she suppose that her prosperity would be greatly promoted if we were to adopt the unsound and injurious principle of pouring back taxation on the spot from which it proceeds? I venture to say, without the slightest imputation on the good faith of those who advocate the claims of Ireland in this respect, that she would be unwise if she did; and I am quite certain that to attempt to regulate the public expenditure on any other principle than that which proceeds upon the plan of taking from the subject the smallest amount sufficient for our purposes, and spending the money so obtained in the manner which will cause it to go furthest in the attainment of the public objects in view, would be to proceed on an erroneous system. I make no secret of the opinions which I entertain on this question, for I believe it would be to be guilty of an act of folly and cruelty towards Ireland herself to adopt in her case any other principle than that for which I am contending. I now come to another branch of the subject, and that is whether any favour ought to be extended to Ireland by means of certain exemptions from taxation. In dealing with that point I must be allowed to draw a distinction. Every exemption from taxation in favour of a particular country ought, in my opinion, to be regarded in the light of a grant of public money to that country, and set down in the national account accordingly. All exemptions accorded to classes, institutions, and individuals may be justified, but they amount, nevertheless, to grants 681 in that particular direction of public money. Now I find that, in the case of Ireland, she is free from all taxes on conveyances. Her railways pay no tax, neither do her coaches nor her hackney carriages, except, I believe, in Dublin. Now, that freedom from taxation is, so far as it goes, a grant from this country to Ireland. Do I complain that such is the case? No. I do not think that taxes on conveyances are in themselves desirable. I look upon them as, in a great degree, taxes on industry and production, and I should not be sorry to see England rid of them. I have no wish therefore, that they should be imposed upon Ireland, but, without saying that there is nothing in her condition that may not for a time justify this exemption, I think it right that we should take care that the exemptions made are such as are likely to be beneficial to the classes which stand most in need of them, and on that point I do not feel satisfied. I come next to the house tax, but that I shall pass over—and deal with those taxes which are more popularly known as the assessed taxes—those, for instance, imposed in the case of servants, horses, and private carriages. Now, I never heard it said by any one that exemption from such taxes as these was that of which Ireland stood in need. Those persons who keep horses, carriages, and servants in Ireland are as well able to pay for them as the corresponding class in this country. The small farmers, the peasant, the struggling shopkeepers, constitute the class in whose behalf the hon. Gentleman opposite pleads, and I do not see how their position is improved by those exemptions. Then there is exemption under the income tax—because it must also be borne in mind that the income tax is levied in a more mitigated form on the land in Ireland than on the land in England. The land in Ireland is taxed, not upon the rental, but upon the Poor Law valuation, which is considerably less. I would venture to say to Irish Members that all these exemptions from taxation, which are in reality pecuniary favours bestowed by the country at large on a particular part of it, deserve to be examined with great jealousy, not merely by those who are the guardians of the public treasury, but by those who receive the money themselves; for it is no paradox, but a truism, that equality in the general distribution of the public burdens is an absolute condition of real political equality, and that the country or class which consents to accept pecuniary favours 682 puts in hazard the full and equal possession of the dignity and rights of freemen. Having said thus much on the subject of exemptions and expenditure, I come to deal with another mode in which it has been suggested that assistance might be given to Ireland—and here I cannot help referring to the report of the Committee on Irish Taxation of last year. I perceive that that Committee closed its proceedings by putting on record that a Motion ought to be made for its re-appointment in the present Session. I cannot help thinking that, if it should be re-appointed, we ought to have from it a distinct expression of its views on the important and difficult subject into which it met to inquire; for we are, as it is, somewhat bewildered by finding that the zeal and ability and eloquence, not only of the Chairman, but of so many members of the Committee, have resulted in the production of a large family of separate draught Reports, while the Committee itself has arrived at no definite conclusion. Now, so far as I have studied those draught Reports, I confess I have somewhat of a preference for that which was drawn by my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote.) He has, I think, laid down with great clearness, and upon the whole with great fairness, the principles on which, in his opinion, the United Kingdom ought to proceed with respect to any pecuniary difficulties in the case of Ireland. I wish in the present instance especially to advert to the 31st and 32nd paragraphs of the Report of my hon. Friend! which relate to the subject of advances. The first of those paragraphs is as follows:—As regards what may be called reproductive expenditure, somewhat different considerations apply. It may be desirable to advance public money to promote the improvement of particular districts, in order to render those districts ultitimately more capable of adding to the national wealth. A good deal has already been done in this way for Ireland. It appears from a table in the Appendix to this Report that between 1817 and 1863 advances to the amount of £13,959,125 had been made for public works in Great Britain, of which sum £7,658,602 principal and £3,205,286 interest had been repaid. In the same period, £26,292,867 had been advanced for public works in Ireland, of which sum only £12,247,299, principal and interest together, had been repaid. These sums are, as your Committee understand, distinct from the grants which have at various times been made to Ireland.I do not refer to these words for the purpose of condemning the policy which has been pursued, but I think they serve to show that the legislature of the United 683 Kingdom has not proceeded in a niggardly spirit in reference to this subject. This is the second paragraph:—Your Committee do not, however, see reason for objecting to this expenditure. On the contrary, they are of opinion that any measures which can safely be taken for furthering such advances will be desirable. Their attention has been called to the system upon which loans are now made for the purposes of drainage, and to the further facilities which are said to be desired. Drainage being the improvement of which Ireland chiefly stands in need, your Committee recommend this question to the favourable consideration of the Government.I do not intend to touch adversely on the matter referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) with regard to the Shannon. We have no particulars before us to decide whether or not there is anything to justify a grant—I use the word as distinguished from an advance of public money'—in regard to that river. The principle which I understand to be involved in that case is a principle which would have to be admitted, providing the facts are proved in any part of the country. The definition attempted to be given to it is that of a claim arising out of previous and unfulfilled obligations. The first question is, whether that claim can be made good. Undoubtedly, I should say that the principle of advances is, as a general rule, the principle on which the liberality of Parliament to Ireland can best be exercised. In England or Scotland—I except the case of the Lancashire distress—we rarely lend money save at a high rate of interest; and the reason is, not that we desire to make a great profit by the transaction, but that we feel we ought not, as a rule, to go into the money market, and compete with private persons having money to lend, but rather that we should reserve our interference for exceptional cases, abstaining from becoming general offerers of money. But in Ireland we have always—or rather, I will say, always since the attention of the present Government has been directed to the subject—been willing to proceed on a different principle, and to lend money without the slightest view to profit. We have felt ourselves justified in announcing and acting upon that rule in virtue of the discretion vested in the Executive. It would be possible for Parliament to go even further, and to lend money to Ireland upon terms of interest so low that it would cease to be remunerative; in which case, of course, it would be necessary for part of 684 the expense to be borne by the Imperial Treasury. To that view I am not disposed to shut the door, in case good and sufficient cause were shown. It is, necessary, however, to exercise very great caution and discrimination in all such cases, because as every one knows, where money is given away the first claim may be economically and morally a good one, but the inevitable tendency will be to raise up fifty other claims, many of them altogether bad, but nearly impossible to be distinguished from those having considerations to recommend them. It is always better when money is asked for, that it should entail some obligation of repayment which may act as a check upon the undue readiness to put forth further requests, which is so apt to creep up in human nature whenever opportunity is once afforded. I do not think it will be requisite for me to enter further into this matter. I hope the opinions I have expressed on the part of the Government with respect to the financial aspect of this question will not seem to shut the door to the fair claims of Ireland, particularly when any special grounds can be advanced and substantiated. Further than this it would not be becoming in me to go. The proposition in the shape in which the hon. Member produced it is not, I think, one on which we can fairly be asked to give a vote. Considering the nature of the subject, it would, I think, be unjust to the House—I do not say unjust to the Government, because upon a matter of this nature I do not want to recognize a distinction between one political party and another—it would I say, be unjust to compel us to involve ourselves in the difficulties attendant upon an equivocal and undigested declaration, or, on the other hand, to appear before the people of Ireland as exhibiting indifference to the interests of that country. But we may, I trust, cherish the hope that the difficulties under which Ireland laboured recently are, owing to the favourable circumstances of last year, at present undergoing considerable diminution.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, that the Government need be under no apprehension that they would be suspected of acting in any friendly way towards Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the assessed taxes, but he forgot to point out that the remission of these constituted an inducement to persons to reside in Ireland. The burden of his speech had been that Ireland was poor and wretched; but he conveyed, almost in so many words, his idea that 685 the cure was by increasing her taxation. What had been the effect of English legislation already? A flourishing corn trade once existed in Ireland; that had been destroyed by the free-trade policy. Large distilleries furnished remunerative employment to the people; these had been stopped by the equalization of the duties. No man passing any portion of his time in Ireland could doubt that the people were in very deep distress. True, the occupiers of the land were not so much distressed as was the case same years ago; but what of the inhabitants of towns? There was a practical cessation of trade—artificers and mechanics were without employment, and the results were perfectly appalling. One reason for the existing state of things was to be found in the mania for throwing their land into large farms which had seized upon the proprietors, some of whom drove away their tenantry without the slightest regard for their feelings, while others allowed matters to take a more natural course and assisted the poor people to leave. What was now taking place in Ireland was a repetition of what occurred in England 300 years ago. In the reign of Henry VIII. a petition was sent forward complaining of the system of encroachment under which ten, twelve, fourteen, and sixteen farms came into one man's hands, so that only one homestead was kept up where before every farm had its own good house, and, perhaps, three, five, or six cows; and the petition ended by saying that "twenty or thirty townlands were joined together, and required but a neatherd and shepherd, instead of giving support to four-score people." This was literally what was taking place in Ireland. Large tracts of land were being laid down under grass, and the poorer residents on those plots were driven into the towns, where being unable to gain a livelihood they only help to swell the previous misery. Since 1841 the decrease in the number of small holdings was no less than 293,835, and when these were multiplied by the number of persons who derived their subsistence from them, the number grew to something enormous. The population thus driven from agricultural pursuits had nothing to fall back upon. There were no great manufactures in Ireland, and there were no materials out of which they could be created. During the last few years stock had decreased 4½ per cent, which was far from supporting the statements they had heard that the country was improving. It had been shown that 686 in 1845, through the landowners ejecting the poor, the towns were overcrowded, and that disease, misery, and vice, were prevalent among the numbers thus gathered together without means of existence. The regulations of the Poor Law prevented such a dreadful state of thing from existing at the present time, but there was still much misery and want among the people. Where were they to seek for remedies for such evils? The President of the Poor Law Board of England spoke feelingly the other night of the hardship of working men in England having to remove from their homes and find others at long distances from their work, and he sought to remedy the evil by bringing in a Bill by which the areas of rating were to be very much extended, and thus remove one direct and pecuniary reason from the landowner for driving the people away. Why was not that beneficial provision to be extended to Ireland? Why was an evil in England always redressed while crying wrongs in Ireland were disregarded? Nothing, however, but the settlement of the land question would ever keep the people in Ireland, and this was a point which the people of England did not seem to understand. He had no doubt the time would come when some great statesman would declare in that House that it was necessary that Ireland should be put in a different position from England with respect to land. Ireland was distinctly and entirely an agricultural country, and what was required for its prosperity was not that the peasantry should till the waste lands, but that they should be in a position to till the good land, so as to enable them to live in the country and render it again an exporting country. In every other agricultural country in Europe—in Germany, in Belgium, and in Switzerland, the Government had taken the land question into their hands, and had made such regulations with regard to property as had rendered the people satisfied and the countries prosperous. The German Ministers, Stein and Hardenberg, had settled the question in that country; and, if so, why could not some of our statesmen grapple with it here? Ireland, instead of progressing, as she would have done if this question bad been satisfactorily settled, had gone many thousands of years back within the last fifty years, as the number of acres in grass was rapidly increasing, while the number of stock and of people and the wealth of the country was continually decreasing. So dissatisfied were the people with this state of things 687 that he did not believe there was the slightest feeling of loyalty in Ireland towards this country. The misgovernment of the people had driven every spark of loyalty out of their breasts, had made them look upon the English as their oppressors, and towards America as the land of freedom, plenty, and happiness. It was a very serious thing for 5,000,000 people to be not only discontented but utterly disaffected towards Government, and although they might at present hear only the faint murmurings of such feelings, still the time might come when the result would astonish this country, and might affect the whole of Europe.
observed, that questions of such scope and importance had been raised in this debate that it became the duty of Irish Members to offer their opinions upon them. He—a resident in Ireland—did not, like the hon. Members to whom they had just listened, despair altogether of the regeneration of the country. He did not think the present condition of Ireland entirely satisfactory, and considered the troubles of that country were a cause for great anxiety and deep consideration, but at the same time he did not regard them as arising from any errors of Government, but rather from a number of adverse circumstances caused by a series of unfortunate seasons. Last year, although, perhaps, an improvement upon other years, was still not very favourable, the summer being too dry, and the autumn being too wet made it bad harvesting weather. Great stress has been laid in previous debates on the increased breadth of land sown with flax, and in his own district—Londonderry—33,000 acres were sown with this crop last year. Owing to the inferior quality of the produce, and to the buyers combining to keep down the prices, a large quantity had remained unsold, although the poorer growers had been compelled to dispose of their produce at an unremunerative rate, though it was largely imported at the time into the harbour of Belfast. He was not so much pleased with this extension of the culture, as he was afraid that the poorer classes would neglect all other crops for flax, which although more remunerative for a time, was the most exhausting to the land that could be grown. The extension of flax cultivation promised to be beneficial to the small farmers, and the climate was favourable to its proper cultivation, especially in the north. Several districts of Ireland laboured under excessive disadvantages, engendered 688 by the humidity of the climate, in regard to many of the productions of the soil. In the north-east and north-west the wheat crop would scarcely ripen, and the crops of oats and barley were so late that the tempestuous weather of the equinoxes set in and rendered the saving of the grain very difficult. He had not unfrequently seen corn in the fields in the month of November, and even so late as the beginning of December, and this arose from causes against which no foresight could guard. These drawbacks ought to be taken into account when national burdens were imposed upon the people. It was said that the Government ought to make grants for arterial drainage, and certainly the welfare of the country depended on getting rid of the superabundant water. This Government drainage might, however, be bought at too great a price. He would recommend any district applying for Government aid for drainage to obtain some guarantee that the drainage should be made complete and effective, or otherwise a heavy repayment might crush the energies of the county, as had happened in a case within his own knowledge, for in reference to the drainage in the neighbourhood of Loch Neagh, he could say that five counties had been most ruinously taxed by an expenditure by Government officials, whilst the drainage had been but little improved. It was often said that the lands in Ireland ought to be turned into permanent pasture, and almost exclusively devoted to the breeding and rearing of cattle, and that root crops should be also encouraged. In the north and north-west of Ireland, however, it was impossible to keep the land in permanent pasture, for the moss engendered by the constant damp overpowered and destroyed the finer grasses. Sheep farming was also recommended, but the climate of the north was too rigorous for the more valuable breeds of sheep, which could not be exposed during the earlier and later parts of the year to the external atmosphere, and mutton was always dear. There was another drawback to sheep-farming, which English Members would hardly expect, and which was not unworthy the attention of the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland. It appeared from a Return laid before the House that in the year 1863 no less than 7,000 sheep were destroyed by dogs. There was no fiscal impost, the effect of which was to limit the number of dogs in Ireland, and he trusted that the right hon. 689 Gentleman would support any measure by which this great nuisance would be lessened. It must be recollected that Ireland was shut out from all the advantages derived from the preservation of game, and there was no letting of shooting which increased the value so much of land in the Highlands of Scotland. With regard to emigration, it appeared to him likely to continue so long as so great a disparity existed between the rate of wages in Ireland and in a country so easily reached as America now was. A cessation of emigration under such circumstances could neither be expected nor altogether desired, although it might be greatly checked by the encouragement of public works and by the claim of Ireland to a share of the national expenditure equal to that afforded to other parts of the kingdom. He gave the Government credit for good intentions in making provision for the establishment of a Royal dockyard at Cork, and trusted that this vote would receive the support of every Irish Member. He would support the introduction of capital and industry in any form. The occasional presence of Royalty in Ireland would be desirable, but, above all, it was to be wished for, that there should be a diminution of that spirit of party rancour which had been the bane of Ireland for centuries. The only course for a Government to pursue was one of unvarying impartiality, vindicating the majesty of the law under all circumstances, and avoiding even the semblance of a suspicion that the position of the offender, however high it might be, could save him from prosecution and disgrace. He would appeal to every sincere well-wisher of Ireland whether in the place of the revival of a new association it was not more desirable that there should be a cessation of party and religious dissension. Why should not Roman Catholics and Protestants join hands in the service of a common country, and their children be brought up and educated together in goodwill and unity? Why should there not henceforward be such a community of feeling and concurrence of classes in Ireland as would soon deprive the name of the country of its unenviable notoriety, and render, by its prosperity and improvement, the passage in the Queen's Speech perfectly free from cavil and complaint?
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
begged to thank his hon. Colleague for bringing forward his Motion. He complimented the hon. Member who brought forward this Motion upon the temperate language in 690 which he had addressed the House, and which he thought did not deserve the strictures of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He denied that his hon. Friend had put himself in the position of a mendicant; but, finding his country in an exceptional position of deep distress, he had called upon the Government to take some steps to remedy it. He lamented deeply the emigration which was now going on from Ireland, and which he feared would become much greater if the American war were to terminate. What position did the Irish peasantry occupy at this moment? The way in which his material wants were dealt with, caused the peasant to draw distinctions between his treatment in America and in his native country, and his object was to endeavour to induce as many of his relatives as he possibly could to join him without delay. As for drainage, he believed his hon. Colleague had suggested it as one means by which employment might be given to a large mass of the labouring classes in Ireland, on terms remunerative to the landlords and without drawing on the means of the State. By the adoption of a proper system of drainage the present drawbacks to that useful undertaking might be got rid of, and the State might be recouped to the full for any advances made by way of loan to the Irish proprietors. But drainage would not relieve the small farmers or remove their discontent. There was a strong feeling in Ireland on several questions, including that of the Established Church; but the land question was the one in which the agricultural population was most deeply interested. Without reflecting upon individuals, he must say it was notorious that many proprietors ejected tenants from their holdings without giving them the compensation to which they were entitled. The hon. Member concluded by expressing his opinion that the question which really agitated the breast of every man in a thatched house or a cabin in Ireland, was that of the tenure of land, and by expressing a hope that the Government would not adopt the ungracious course of refusing to acknowledge a Motion, the truth of the proposition contained in which every one must acknowledge, and which proposition only bound them to the intention to do what they could to mollify in some degree the distress at present existing in Ireland.
believed that there was not a man of the whole Irish nation that had not felt the utmost surprise when it was announced in the Speech from the 691 Throne that Ireland was prosperous. He was happy the assertion was not actually put into Her Majesty's own mouth. Every one who knew Ireland, while admitting that in many places there was a good harvest last year, yet regretted that there was no progress towards material or permanent prosperity made. The Lord Lieutenant had made lately a speech at the dinner given to him by the Lord Mayor, in which he showed that there was some small increase in the trade of Dublin and in that of Belfast, but the remark did not apply to Ireland generally. He thought the Chancellor of the Exchequer had led the House away from the question before them. The right hon. Gentleman had commented rather on the Committee which last year considered the taxation of Ireland, of which Committee he had the honour to be Chairman, than on the Motion of the Member for the King's County. He had not been prepared for those comments. But notwithstanding, he felt it necessary to make some observations on the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. Separate reports had been drawn up by himself, and four other Irish Members of the Committee, and another report by an English Member (Sir Stafford Northcote); and though, taken altogether, the four reports expressed the views of the Irish Members' Committee and in effect differed little, no document had been adopted as the Committee's Report. He had not made any suggestion to remedy the evils of Ireland; his object had been to show the financial relations between the two countries. In moving for the Committee, and in suggesting the Orders of Reference, he had asserted, that for sixty years no fair account had been kept between the countries, and that in consequence of that circumstance Ireland had been charged, on debt and other responsibilities, for what she was not chargeable. By the evidence of the Government officials he had clearly and entirely proved that proposition. He had asserted, likewise, that the accounts of the taxation of Ireland was not in accordance with the Act of Union. He had proved it. He had asserted, also, that Ireland was not taxed according to her ability to pay taxation. He thought no one could doubt that even by the evidence of Mr. Senior the Poor Law Commissioner, an Englishman, and not over complimentary to Ireland, he had proved it. The Irish Members did not shrink from having the question discussed. If further information was desired, he was ready to move the re-appointment of the 692 Committee. He denied that Ireland was a province of England. As an Irishman he repudiated any such doctrine. Ireland was a kingdom bound by close ties to England, and no man was more anxious than he that those ties should be drawn as close as possible, but this must be done with a due regard to justice. The Irish were not to be governed for the advantage of England. He agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the object of taxation ought to be to draw as little as possible from the pockets of the people, and that it was the duty of the Government to administer it with the utmost economy. If this test was applied to Ireland it failed. The only right England had to tax Ireland was given by the Treaty of Union, and the United Parliament could only exercise that right in virtue and in accordance with the provisions of that treaty. But the provisions of the Treaty of Union were violated; not only was Ireland not taxed in accordance with them, and in proportion to her ability to bear taxation, but Ireland was not even taxed in equal proportion with England. To prove this he took the figures supplied to him by the Government officials. By a Return moved for by Sir Edward Grogan, it appeared that Ireland paid 6s. 3¾d. while England paid only 4s. 0¾d. on their total valuations, including those for local and income tax purposes, being a difference of 2s. 2½. against the poorer country; and again, in Ireland the local taxation amounted to 5s. 7½d. on the valuation, while in England it was only 2s. 3½d. Irish Members, therefore, had a right to complain, and the only way to get rid of the inequality was by proving it before a Committee of the House, and that, he had contended, he had done. But he must repeat again and again, Parliament had no right to tax Ireland equally with England, for according to the 7th article of the Act of Union she was to be taxed only according to her ability. Under certain circumstances, Irish taxation was permitted to be equal to English taxation but these circumstances had never arrived. An argument for equal taxation in each country had been attempted because it was asserted that a man in Ireland, of an income of £500 a year, did not suffer more than would a man of £500 a year in England by taxation of equal amount, and no doubt this was true. But it was not the tenantship and the individual that was complained of, but the national wealth that was diminished when a larger amount. The aggregate of taxes raised from many in- 693 dividuals, was sent out of the country and spent elsewhere. By this process the capital of Ireland was diminished and each individual in it suffered, at least indirectly. Such were the answers he would give to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who very naturally preferred to take the Report of the hon. Member for Stamford rather than those which had been prepared by the Irish Members of the Committee. But the hon. Member for Stamford had in his Report not given half the figures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to approve; but had left a blank to be filled in with Government figures, whatever they might be, and those were exactly the figures which he (Colonel Dunne) might be inclined to controvert when they appeared, for even to this moment the treasury officials, however diligent he knew them to be, had not laid the accounts he moved for on the table of the House. But this question, raised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was not the question put before the House by the hon. Member for the King's County; it was the abstract proposition that this House regretted the emigration from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had an objection to the proposition that the loss of 2,000,000 of people in Ireland were to be deplored; but would he affirm the converse? Would he affirm that the House rejoiced at it? If votes were taken by ballot that might be the opinion recorded by some in that House who rejoiced in the depression of Ireland—but he did not think any one would openly say it. It could not be doubted that the reason the Irish people went abroad was because they could not exist at home; and why? Because the Government drained Ireland, not of water, but of people and of money. An answer had been attributed to an Englishman, a Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, who when asked "Why do you not drain the park?" replied, that they were too much engaged in draining the rest of the country. It had been said what matters it that £5,000,000, as in the case of the fortifications, even £10,000,000 taken from Ireland should be spent in England; but he could not see that if they drew money from one country to spend it in another they made the country from which it was taken the richer by the process. They had drawn the wealth of Ireland away in every shape and form, and all that Irish Members asked was to get back their own. When 694 the hon. Member for Sheffield stated they came begging to that House, he denied that they asked for any boon. The Shannon drainage was an instance of the manner in which England governed and robbed Ireland. It was stated in the first reports made on the subject that Government expected that it would repay itself, and did not ask for a guarantee from the neighbouring counties, but it was soon found it was an illusion of their own engineers. When the Shannon drainage was undertaken, the works were carried on upon so bad a principle that part of the country was inundated which was not inundated before. It was said, indeed, that navigation was the object, but it was certainly only a secondary object and not incompatible with drainage. Finding the work would not pay, acts were then passed imposing taxation for their completion on the counties, and they were said to have laid that taxation on them unequally and unfairly. It was stated that the counties adjoining the Shannon were not taxed so much as the counties which were remote. Even the Isles of Arran, out in the Atlantic, were taxed as well as the counties through which the Shannon ran. In what possible way could these islands benefit by the Shannon navigation? But all that Irish Members asked was that the works which were undertaken should be carried out, according to the first engagement, but which if left in their present state by a private person who contracted for their completion would make him liable to an action at law. Self-reliance was recommended as the grand cure. Self-reliance with capital no doubt was a very good thing, but if all the money was taken away self-reliance would not enable speculations to be carried on with success. True, they had had a good harvest in Ireland, but the prices were low; the consequence of free trade in corn, and a country totally agricultural could not expect to gain much from free trade in its productions. It had not benefited, therefore, owing to a measure framed for the special benefit of the manufacturers of this country. The injury which would be done to Ireland by free trade in corn was admitted when that measure passed; and that was the reason why the late Sir Robert Peel admitted that the taxation of Ireland should be different from that of England. No doubt the owners of cattle received large prices, but they were only the large farmers, and the conversion of moderately sized farms 695 into those for feeding cattle, on which few hands were required, necessitated the emigration of the people. No man could rear cattle on a small farm; and if no price were given for agricultural produce he must give it up and go away. Thus free trade in corn was the primary cause of emigration from Ireland. The attempt to save Ireland by promoting the growth of flax to a large extent anywhere but in the north was the greatest nonsense. The more flax was grown in the south the greater would be the supply thrown into the market, and the more its value in the north would be diminished. If the importation of cotton reached (required) the amount formerly imported from America, the price of flax would be reduced, and Ireland in a worse position than she was now. There was, however, one good which the growth of flax might do, and that would be effected if the people made of it, as they used to do, clothes for themselves at home and never came to Manchester for them; and these home made clothes, made of flax and wool, or both mixed, were far better and more durable than the gaudy cotton rags of Manchester. Manchester should be left to herself as the natural enemy of Irish industry. This year flax had been grown to an extent that would not pay for its cultivation. There seemed to be an attempt to persuade this country that Englishmen knew Ire-land better than the Irish themselves. Englishmen told them that Ireland was prosperous. An hon. Friend of his had travelled from Galway to Cork—part of the way by an outside car, which was the usual style of political observers and quacks from England of studying the condition of the country—and because he saw sundry national schools and coastguard stations, he immediately published a letter proclaiming that Ireland was prosperous and only required the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy? But it was the duty of Irish Members when they heard such things to stand up and declare that the prosperity of Ireland was a total fiction. He would vote for the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, though, in fact, the affirmation of it would not be of much value, nor would the Irish people care very much about it, for it was a mere abstract or omission of sympathy to which alone they would attribute but little sincerity, accompanied by some practical evidence. The Government ought to hold out some hopes that measures 696 would be taken to improve the condition of Ireland.
§ SIR FREDERICK HEYGATE
explained that the reason why the Committee on Irish taxation did not make a report last year was the lateness in the Session at which they had concluded their labours, and not any want of ability to arrive at a conclusion. He took exception to some of the statements made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with regard to the income tax and assessed taxes. As to the former, the right hon. Gentleman said there was an allowance in favour of Ireland, because great part of the country was rated upon the Government valuation, and was therefore rated under its true value. But his own experience was that in Ulster, at all events, no advantage was enjoyed on this score, and there were very few landlords who did not pay income tax upon a sum which they did not receive. As to the alleged exemption enjoyed by Ireland under the assessed taxes, it appeared from a return presented to this House that the number of inhabited houses in Ireland of the value of £20 and upwards which would be subjected to the house duty of 2d. supposing such a tax existed in Ireland, was only 33,763, and these would produce about £20,000 a year. A duty on horses in Ireland would amount to about £30,000 a year, so that the total exemption in favour of Ireland under these two heads amounted to the magnificent sum of £50,000 a year, while from these sources £1,280,000 was drawn in England. The number of servants who would be liable to duty in Ireland was very small. As to the duty on hair powder, he would leave other hon. Members to state the value of this exemption, but he decidedly differed from those who thought the exemption of Irish dogs from duty was a boon to the country. The right hon. Gentleman had also stated that Ireland escaped taxation in Schedule B; but this was a fallacy. The hon. Member for Chippenham, who had recently visited Ireland, said he was horrified to see the wretched condition of the cabins and farm buildings, and at once jumped to the conclusion that it was the duty of landlords to put these buildings into good repair and to erect good houses. Here, however, the hon. Member fell into an error which was common to a superficial observer. It was his own opinion when he first went to that country, but afterwards he saw that it would be a useless expenditure to build cottages for a population who could only 697 obtain very irregular employment on the land, and who would be much better away from the locality. Again, what was the use of putting up farm buildings on small farms, many of which were not more than from five to ten acres in extent? The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) proposed a remedy for the evils of Ireland in the shape of ninety-nine years leases, but before these could be had, there must be farms of a proper size and farmers with proper capital. But, apart from leases, he did not understand how it could be assumed that landlords were so blind to their own interest as not to secure a good tenant when they got one. In Ulster, tenant-right had no doubt worked well on the whole; but the well being of the province and the security which was felt there were attributable far more to the superior energy of a very active race than to the prevailing custom of tenant-right. Was it reasonable to suppose that any amount of tenant-right would suffice to retain a tenant on a farm of five or ten acres with the present low prices for agricultural produce? The fact was that great part of the evils from which Ireland was now suffering arose from free trade. He was never anything but a Freetrader, and free trade was, no doubt, greatly to the interest of England. But in the case of a poor country like Ireland, which could receive little compensation from free trade in the towns, and had a large proportion of the people dependent upon the land, deriving a precarious living from it at the best, owing to the influences of climate upon the grain crops, the great revulsion of prices must prove generally injurious. They were now told to put the land down in grass. Supposing that could be done, which he denied, the result must be to give a great stimulus to emigration, and in Ulster, for example, they must get rid of two-thirds of the people who farmed land under twenty acres in extent. If this was not to be, and he should not like such a wholesale emigration, what were they to do? There was very little trade or commerce in Ireland, and, therefore, however beneficial free trade might be to a great manufacturing country with great capital at its disposal and immense advantages in the shape of machinery, to a poor country like Ireland it was anything but a blessing. It was said, "Why don't you take to trade?" Now, he had seen persons try to set up in Ireland some manufacture which would employ the peo- 698 ple of the neighbourhood, and directly they were found to be doing well some man came over from Scotland or England and imported the same articles at a lower price than they could be produced for on the spot, so that the trade was destroyed. Our colonies had found this out, and Canada, Australia, and New Zealand had been obliged to defend themselves by putting protective duties on English manufactures. The United States did so too; and these countries had only acted on the principle which he maintained—namely, that it was impossible for a comparatively poor and rising country to establish manufactures in the face of the enormous competition which great command of capital and of machinery gave to another nation. Those who spoke of the large amount of Irish emigration forgot that there had been a large migration from the English counties to English towns; while in Ireland, owing to the want of local trade, the country people had been unhappily forced to cross the Atlantic. It was difficult to get from the Census returns a reliable decision as to the extent of the migration of the purely agricultural population in England, because in almost every English county there was a large town which partly destroyed the calculation. But in Cambridgeshire the decrease of the agricultural population between 1851 and 1861 was 9,435; in Norfolk, 7,292; in Rutland, 1,124; and so in Suffolk and Wiltshire. The state of the population in London alone showed how great this migration was, for out of its 2,700,000 inhabitants more than a million were not born in London, and a considerable proportion of them no doubt came from the country districts. Such a migration benefited the town and did not injure the country, but it was very different with regard to Irish emigration. A good deal had been said about the cultivation of flax in the north of Ireland; but the conclusion of those best qualified to judge was that, while within the last two years the production of flax had doubled in Ulster, its gross value remained pretty much what it was, and the small farmers bitterly repented that they had not taken the advice which had been given to them. As cures for the evils of Ireland, growing grass, getting rid of tillage, and growing flax were fallacies. He was afraid, however, that he must come to the same conclusion as the Committee. They found all the evils, but when they came to the remedies no two people agreed. He had himself 699 nothing to recommend—he was equally at a loss to suggest a cure. He regretted as much as the hon. Member for the King's County the decline of the population of Ireland, and he regretted that there should be that want of employment which had caused the decline. He took exception to the words "stimulate the employment of the people," in the hon. Gentleman's Motion, for stimulants were not wholesome either for nations or individuals. If any well devised measure to remedy the evils of Ireland were brought forward, the Government could need no inducement to lend their support to it. It was the interest of everybody in the country to do so; for when Ireland or any other member of the body corporate was sick all the rest of the body must feel it. He could not support the hon. Gentleman's Motion.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, that one of the complaints urged by hon. Members connected with the sister country was that Englishmen took no interest in Irish questions. Now, he must be exempted from that charge, for he was for many years connected with Ireland by the ties of property; and for forty years he had visited one part or another of the country. There were one or two remarkable circumstances connected with the present discussion. An admission had been made by more than one Irish Member that the great cause of the poverty and distress of that country had arisen from what was commonly called free trade. He believed that opinion to be perfectly correct. But, if he had made an assertion of that kind, he should have been accused of raising the ghost of Protection. He remembered that when the questions of free trade and protection were under discussion it was said that the late Mr. O'Connell foresaw the difficulty, and that he so fully anticipated what would be the effect of what was called free trade, more particularly in the south and west of Ireland, that he paused for some considerable time before he made up his mind to throw the seventy votes which were at his command into the scale of free trade. He, however, did so, and the motive imputed to him at the time was, that the effect of free trade in Ireland would be to ruin the great majority of the landowners, and in furtherance of that object he was willing to risk the ruin of the cultivators of the soil. He believed that the subtraction of £5,000,000 a year derived by Ireland from the monopoly of the English corn market, had been the chief cause of the distressed 700 state of that country. One of the great misfortunes of Ireland was, what he might call the self-delusion under which the people of that country laboured, and the principal of these delusions he held to be what was called the land question; but what was more commonly known by the name of tenant-right. His attention had been much directed to that question, and he would frankly say, that the only conclusion at which he could arrive on it was, that if it were possible to pass a measure of what was called tenant-right, it must be one of two things—it must either be a dead letter and a waste sheet of paper, or it must be an act of confiscation, the transfer of the land from the landlord to the tenant. It was a great misfortune to the mass of the population of Ireland that they should be led to believe that there was in store for them some measure based on that foundation, which would be beneficial to them. It was with nations as with men, and when men expected to derive assistance from a collateral source, nothing tended so much to paralyze their energies and exertions, and he would venture to say that they were anything but friends of Ireland who wished to persuade the Irish people that tenant-right could work beneficially for them. There was another remarkable peculiarity with regard to Ireland, and that was the great attention that was paid to agitators and demagogues of every description. It was true that there were demagogues and agitators in England, but the difference between the two countries was this—that in England they were generally paid either directly or by what was called a testimonial for preaching their incendiary doctrines, and they were received with very little attention except by the packed audiences who were prepared to cheer them. But in Ireland that was not the case; there was an amount of faith in agitators which had the same dangerous consequences as that which he attributed to flow from the doctrine of free trade. It led them to hope for something to come which was perfectly impossible, not to trust to their own energies, but to look into the clouds for something to do that work which they ought to do for themselves. Having ventured frankly to state his opinion as to their misconception of their own condition and interests, he would say that he believed they had a great and serious ground of complaint, and he believed that grievance to be that Ireland 701 had never been fairly or justly governed for the last forty or fifty years. Ireland had unfortunately been made the battlefield of English politics, and every description of means had been resorted to in order to raise Irish passions for the purpose of forwarding English political objects. He was not dealing with this as a party question, but he contended that the whole tendency, and the whole policy, of what was commonly called Liberal Government in Ireland for many years past had been to create confusion and disorder in that country. And for this reason. They had invariably for their own political objects encouraged one portion of the population, not the most orderly or the most quiet; and, on the other hand, they had discouraged and oppressed many of the most quiet and orderly people in Ireland. The Liberal government of Ireland had been at times a perfect farce. Many hon. Members would recollect two or three remarkable facts in connection with the government of Ireland. One distinguished representative of Royalty in that country, when an attempt was made to upset the law of the land as it then stood, called upon the people of Ireland to "agitate, agitate, agitate!" He expressed no opinion as to the merits of the question respecting which they were to "agitate." Another distinguished man in the same position, by way of keeping up social order in Ireland, associated himself with a newspaper of so discreditable a character that it was a disgrace to any civilized country, and the reason given for that association was that that remarkable journal had undertaken to write up the cause of law and order. Another Lord Lieutenant of Ireland took upon him one day to celebrate some great anniversary by turning forth the whole refuse of the gaols of the country. That was considered a popular measure. When attempts were made to obtain that description of popularity, by those who ought to represent the law and authority of the country, and, moreover, when the law was not in all cases fairly and justly administered, he contended that so long as disunion and discord existed in that country, the Government by whom the law was mal-administered must be considered responsible for that state of things. He had heard many grievances put forward—some of them of a more vague character than others, but he had never heard, with one exception, a remedy suggested. That remedy was the one implied in the Motion of 702 the hon. Member for the King's County, and it amounted in plain English to this—that the House should sanction a loan to Ireland for the purpose of carrying on public works. Now, he did not believe that the plan proposed would be either conducive to the welfare of Ireland, or an act of justice towards the people of England. He desired to see the prosperity of Ireland, but he was at a loss to understand on what ground the House could be asked to levy a large amount of taxation on a portion of the country in order to assist another portion. He had constantly endeavoured to resist attempts to benefit one locality at the expense of another; and on these grounds could not give his vote for the Motion.
§ MR. MONSELL
regretted that the hon. Member for Norfolk had introduced into the debate a number of exciting subjects. The hon. Member considered that free trade had been the destruction of Ireland. Now, if he would take the trouble to look at the Devon commission he would find that five gentlemen of the highest intelligence had reported that the Irish people were the worse clothed, the worst fed, and the worst housed people in the universe. That was the happy condition of the people under the old state of things. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member respecting the Liberal Government, no doubt that Government had many faults, but he could tell the hon. Member what it had done—it had delivered that country from the admonitions and ascendancy of men like the hon. Gentleman—men who declared against the agitation for Catholic emancipation, and who prevented that country from obtaining a single halfpenny by way of loan. Passing from the speech of the hon. Member, he came to that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman had entirely mistaken the object and scope of the Resolution of the hon. Member for the King's County. What the hon. Gentleman desired to do was to repeat his Motion of last year—to state that Ireland was at the present time in so degraded and lamentable a condition that it was the duty of the Government and of the House to adopt some exceptional measures to assist her to escape from that deplorable condition. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer objected to the Motion, because it was likely to excite expectations that could never be realized, and thus be the means of disappointment and discouragement to 703 the people of Ireland. But in answer to that he could quote the words of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who last Session, in a debate upon a Motion similar, if not exactly identical, said—That he hoped the hon. Member who had brought forward the Motion would be content with the expression of feeling which he had elicited from all sides of the House, and not divide, as it was the intention of the Government to bring forward some such measures as those indicated by the hon. Gentleman.And the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) on the same occasion expressed a hope that the hon. and learned Member for the King's County would not press the House to a division precisely for the same reasons. He said the hon. Member ought to be perfectly satisfied with the opinions which had been expressed in the House, and that, in fact, he had by the discussion gained his point. Under these circumstances was it quite fair for the Chancellor of the Exchequer now to come before the House and say that this was a new thing, to which the Government had not had time to give attention, and that therefore the Motion ought to be withdrawn? The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he wanted to apply bond fide equal justice to England as well as to Ireland, and it was on that assertion that he (Mr. Monsell) would take leave to rest all the observations he had now to make. He would, consequently, put this question to every Gentleman in the House, he did not care whether he was English, Scotch, or Irish—namely, supposing the whole empire was now in the state in which Ireland was, would the inaction of the Government be tolerated for one moment. Supposing England and Scotland, the population of which in 1841 was 18,000,000, had dwindled as Ireland had done since 1841—that was to say, the population of Ireland had fallen from 8,100,000 to 5,600,000 and the decrease in England and Scotland, in the same ratio, would be from 18,000,000 to 13,000,000—would the House permit the Government for one single instant to remain idle? Would they consent to see Great Britain reduced to a second-rate Power in Europe without making a single effort to discover what was the reason for such a lamentable state of things? That was what they the Irish Members really felt in the matter. He could not conceive any Irishman who did not feel the present condition of his 704 country with the deepest sorrow and regret. It was perfectly true that those people who were miserable and half employed here did well to seek countries where they escaped from their misery and found abundance of employment; but would not they be much better satisfied if they could discover some means whereby they might be employed and comfortable in their own country? He understood the hon. Member's Motion to be directed to that end. The hon. Member said "here is this lamentable state of things; is it possible for the House to remove any obstacle to development of the industry of Ireland?" The hon. Member had not at his disposal the means of information possessed by the Government, and would be content if by any means whatever these obstacles were removed. The hon. Member's object was the substance of the Motion, and not the means suggested in his speech. He (Mr. Monsell) was quite aware (and he believed he was almost quoting the words of the late Sir Robert Peel), that it was impossible to place Ireland in a right state by any one measure—it was necessary to have a series of measures for that purpose. He hoped, however, the suggestions he was about to offer would assist the object they had in view—that object being to keep their people at home in comfort and employment, instead of allowing them to be miserable and idle at home, or compelling them to seek employment and comfort in another country. But before he went into those questions he would ask the House to allow him to show, on undoubted authority, what was the condition of that part of the country in which he (Mr. Monsell) lived. He quoted the deliberate opinion and judgment of a gentleman employed by an influential body, the intelligent manager of a bank in the county with which he (Mr. Monsell) was connected, in a Report addressed by him to the London directors with a view to guide these gentlemen in the course they were to pursue with regard to the monetary transactions of the bank. In the first place, he stated that with regard to wheat, oats, and barley, the crops were extremely good, and that of potatoes excellent—? indeed far better than for a number of years past; and then he described the condition of the farming class. This, it must be remembered was not a description of them in a year of famine or in a bad season, but at a time when the crops were good and the harvest beyond the average even of good years. He said the large holders of land 705 were very well off, but the small holders, who depended mainly on their tillage, were daily becoming poorer, and losing gradually but surely all their capital. The labouring classes, he said, never had regular employment, and never received fair and proper wages; that as a class they were neglected and suffering; that the small farmers and shopkeepers, as fast as they could procure the means, were leaving the country, and that under existing circumstances, the tide of emigration was more likely to continue than to cease, unless arrested by the introduction of manufactures or the employment of capital for the improvement of the cultivation of the land. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last complained of "agitation," and insinuated that capital was not safe in Ireland. But the Chief Secretary for Ireland would confirm what he (Mr. Monsell) said when he asserted that at this moment in the agricultural districts there was no crime at all; that the country was as quiet as any country in the world, and that it was quite safe to invest capital in almost any county at this moment. Take, besides, the case of the manufacturers. He had been at the trouble to obtain reports from Cork, Water-ford, Limerick, and Dublin, and he was assured by the large manufacturers whom he had consulted, that they never had the slightest difficulty with their workmen; that there were no strikes or turbulence, and that they had never had the slightest difficulty in fulfilling their contracts and completing works which they had undertaken. It was a remarkable fact as regarded Ireland that under the very trying circumstances of the last three or four years, during which the number of power-looms employed in the manufacture of linen had increased from 3,700 in 1861 to 10,000—an increase which, no doubt, had thrown out of employment multitudes of hand-loom weavers, there had not been a single strike or difficulty in that trade. And therefore so far as obstacles and impediments by violence to the employment of capital was concerned, there were none; and if he were inclined to draw invidious comparisons with what had taken place in this country only within the last few months as to strikes, he might say that capital was not only as safe, but safer in Ireland than it was in England. He now came to the point, by what means were they, the Parliament, able to assist in any way in promoting the employment of labour, and of bettering the industrial re- 706 sources of the country? With respect to drainage and the extension of arterial drainage, he agreed with the hon. Member that those would be most important aids, for which they need only ask that loans on liberal terms should be given. He did not refer to the disputes respecting the Shannon, as they turned altogether on other considerations; but were there no other remedies? He would not say anything about the reclamation of waste lands, as he was not quite so sanguine on that subject as his hon. Friend. He recollected very well, towards the expiration of last Session, the Attorney General for Ireland, now Mr. Justice O'Hagan, laid great stress indeed upon the importance of passing through the House a Bill for the better security of title. He was sorry to hear that the Government did not intend to proceed with that measure this Session. But the bearing of that Bill on this question was obvious—it was most germane to the subject now before the House. There was amongst a certain class of farmers a considerable amount of capital. Though the small farmers were in a bad condition, there was a considerable amount of capital on deposit receipts at the banks. This would be evident if they observed the enormous sums given for the acquisition of land on very short leases indeed. In his own immediate neighbourhood he knew of a farm of 100 acres let on a seven years' lease at £2 6s. 6d. per acre, and £1,500 was paid for the interest of the out-going tenant in that farm. Would it not, there for, be of the greatest possible importance to simplify in every way the transfer of land, and to allow companies to purchase large estates and sell them out in smaller lots like the farm he had mentioned, and by that means enable the farmers to become proprietors? The effect that would produce in Ireland hon. Gentlemen not connected with that country would hardly be able to understand. It would instil into the people a spirit of hope, and develope their natural industry. It would stimulate them to scrape money together that they might no longer pay rent to a landlord, but become themselves possessors of land. He believed that if this were done, even on a small scale, the result would be one of enormous importance. He did not think the House was at all aware how quietly the Irish people were swayed by considerations such as that, and a measure of such a nature would inspire them with a hope that the Government and Parliament at 707 last were willing and anxious to assist them by removing every obstacle to their industry, and that the end of their difficulties and distresses was not far distant. The oration delivered by the hon. Gentle-man the Member for West Norfolk would have been more in character ten years since, for he could assure him that the people of Ireland did not want confiscation but the realization of the scheme of Judge Longfield, either that the landlord should provide permanent buildings for the tenant, or that if the latter erected them that he should have an occupation for such a number of years as would enable him to compensate himself out of the produce of the land, or that if the landlord wished to get rid of him he should be compensated for them. A drainage scheme such as that suggested by his hon. Friend would confer great benefit on Ireland, as would also the development of the railway scheme in that country; and he knew of no question of greater importance that could be entertained by that House than a measure that would tend to develope the resources of Ireland by means of railway communication. Some twenty-five years ago great distress prevailed in Belgium, and one of the first things that was done in that country by M. Rogier to mitigate its severity was the establishment of cheap transit through the country by means of railway communication. He was informed that the Belgium prices were one-third less than those in Ireland, and yet the Belgium railways were in a flourishing condition. In Ireland the prices of transit were not regulated according to the circumstances of the country, but they were assimilated to the high prices of the English railways, and, therefore, the establishment of a system that would give control over the Irish railways would be attended with beneficial results to Ireland. In 1841 the manufacturing distress that prevailed in Belgium was met by the establishment of schools for the education of manufacturing apprentices. The schools were established very generally throughout the country at an expense of between £4,000 and £5,000 during that year, and they were the means of giving instruction to about 3,000 apprentices, and the result was according to the official report of the inspector, that they had largely answered the object for which they were established, not only toy the performance of good work, but by the introduction of new kinds of manufactures hitherto unknown in the dis- 708 tricts where they had been established. He had no doubt but that her Majesty's Government could suggest far better measures than he could propose for the benefit of Ireland if they were only determined to grapple with the subject and exert themselves with a determination to meet the difficulties that had been pointed out. He felt certain that if Her Majesty's Government would only improve on his suggestions, and move in that direction, that their exertions would be attended with results of the greatest possible benefit and advantage to Ireland. The people of this country must not delude themselves with the idea that as the population of Ireland diminished the residue became happy. At the last census the number of inhabited houses was divided into four categories, and it was then found that the first and second clas3 houses had increased more rapidly between 1841 and 1851 than between 1851 and 1861, and if they referred to the writers of the last century, and especially to Dean Swift, they would find that when the population of Ireland was only 2,300,000, and when there was hardly any tillage going on in that country, the population was described as the most miserable that existed on the face of the earth. It did not follow necessarily that with the diminution of the population the misery of those that would be left behind would be diminished in proportion. He wished he could receive an assurance from the noble Lord at the head of the Government that he would himself take the matter up, for he should then feel confident that something would be done for the permanent prosperity of Ireland. He recollected the energy which the noble Lord exhibited during the Russian war, and if he would only devote the same attention to and thought for Ireland which he at that time bestowed for the honour of this country—if he would really attempt to remove the plague spot from that country—he was sure he would succeed, for in so doing the noble Lord would be met by the grateful feelings of the Irish people, and the knowledge that he was making an effort in that direction would inspire hope in the breast of every Irishman.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
Sir, I am glad to have an opportunity of following the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, because he has touched on one or two topics which I desire to notice. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the 709 Exchequer has answered the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Hennessy) as to the course which the Government intend to take with reference to the Motion on the paper; but I am not sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman has taken the earliest opportunity of acting on the notice which he gave on the first night of the Session, that he would bring before the House the state of Ireland; and I shall endeavour, without exaggeration or any undue colouring, to allude to the several topics which constituted the main features of his speech. The hon. and learned Gentleman entered largely into statistics in order to support his arguments; and, al- though the hour is getting late for that purpose, yet I admit that it is from that source more than any other that our conclusions must be drawn, and that we can derive a fair insight into the state of the country, both as regards its present position and its future prospects. In the course, therefore, of the observations I have to submit to the House, I shall, with their permission, quote a few figures to establish my own conclusions; and I do so because they furnish facts, the study of which is a matter of primary importance, as not only pointing the attention of Gentlemen in this House to what I conceive to be the real interests of the country, but as also exhibiting in their proper light some of those erroneous notions which are so confidently put forth on occasions in order to support opinions which I believe are not justified by facts. The hon. and learned Gentleman adverted to certain observations of the Chairman of the Great Southern and Western Railway, and attempted to show that the state of Ireland was undoubtedly one of decline; and several other Gentlemen who have spoken, among others the hon. Member for Clonmel, and the hon. Member for Londonderry, and the hon. Baronet the Member for the King's County, all maintained that the condition of that country did not warrant the allusion made to it in the Speech from the Throne, Well, I am prepared to vindicate that allusion, and I trust the House will give me credit for seeking to do so without any exaggeration. I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Clonmel,(Mr. Bagwell), who said that the state of Ireland was one of appalling distress; far less can I agree with the remark of the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) that its condition was absolutely distressing; that it was great nonsense to 710 talk about the cultivation of flax, and that every one he had conversed with was in no way satisfied with the paragraph in the Speech. Dealing first with the hon. and learned Gentleman, I must say I was struck with the observations of the Chairman of the Great Southern and Western Railway, and took occasion to make inquiries with regard to them. It is essential that this matter should be placed before the House in its proper light. The Chairman of that important railway, which one hon. Member said was a great index of the prosperity of the country, argued that because the carriage of cattle on railways had decreased, therefore, the number of cattle in Ireland must be less. Now, if you compare the receipts by this railway for the carriage of cattle from 1859 to 1863 with the number of cattle in the country as given in the agricultural statistics, you find that the receipts from the carriage of cattle increased each year that the number of cattle in Ireland diminished, and that 1864—the first year since 1859 in which cattle were ascertained to have increased—was the first year since 1859 in which the receipts upon cattle diminished. That certainly is a convincing proof that the argument used by the Chairman of this railway company was most erroneous. The real truth, say what you will, is that cattle and sheep have both considerably increased during the past year. Cattle have increased during the past year, compared with the year preceding, by 113,078 head; and the number of sheep has increased by 54,864. That is a very considerable increase under those two heads. But the Chairman of this railway company went on to say—By Returns it appears that there is a decrease of cattle shipped from Dublin during the last six months of 17,209, and a decrease of sheep of 31,475. The decrease from Cork is—cattle, 18,333; sheep, 18,819; making a total decrease from these two ports of 75,836 head of cattle and sheep. Within the last six months the decrease of cattle shipped from Dublin was 17 per cent, and the decrease of sheep 19 per cent. The decrease from Cork was 60 per cent of cattle, and 46 per cent of sheep. The decrease from Waterford was 50 per cent of cattle, and 45 per cent of sheep.But I have shown that both cattle and sheep in Ireland have undoubtedly increased in number. In July, 1863, there were 3,144,231 cattle in Ireland; and in July, 1864, there were 3,257,309. The number of sheep in July, 1863, was 3,308,204; and in July, 1864, there were 3,363,068. I should like very much to 711 ask the chairman of this railway company whether he cannot understand why there should have been a diminution in the exportation of cattle last year. It is quite clear that in England there was a far greater scarcity of hay and winter keep than in Ireland. And, more than that, the small farmers in Ireland have been in a state of suffering and distress for many years; but last year there was an acknowledged increase of over 100,000 head of cattle, and they would evidently be desirous of retaining their cattle in Ireland, when the keep in England was not such as to induce purchasers to send for them to the former country, and when a larger number of farmers in England were able to rear and fatten for themselves. I think, then, that so far from this indicating a diminution of prosperity on the part of the farming interest of Ireland, it does quite the reverse. You may fairly judge, therefore, that the increase of cattle in Ireland is a symptom of steady recovery from that pressure that existed in 1861,' 1862, and 1863; and that is a result with which we ought, I think, to be gratified. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to certain Returns as regards emigration, and he found fault with me for having last year overstated the diminution in the number of persons who were leaving the country. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to Returns for seven months only, whereas I referred to an entire year; and I still maintain that although, perhaps, in the seven months the diminution has not been so apparent, yet on the whole twelve months of 1864 there has been a certain decrease in the number of persons leaving the country. The number who left the country in 1863 amounted to 117,000, whereas in 1864 there were only 114,000; so that there was an actual diminution of about 3,000. That, I admit, is not much; but when I hear it said that people are leaving the country in continued numbers, I must be allowed to say that I have here the statistical Returns which have just been completed, and I find that comparing the month of January, 1865, with that of January, 1864, there is a very considerable decrease—to the extent of 2,389; that is to say—in January, 1865, there were only 2,874 who left Ireland stating their intention not to return; but in the corresponding month of 1864 there were as many as 5,263 who stated that they did not intend to return. I was right therefore, in saying that a very con- 712 siderable decrease was manifesting itself in the number of persons leaving the country. But a vast variety of reasons have been given why those persons are leaving the country. During the last autumn, the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley) visited Ireland, and stated at a public dinner at Tipperary that he believed the emigration from Ireland was owing to the American war. But there were people in Ireland who entertained a totally different opinion, and who say directly that war closes there will be a very considerable increase in the emigration. That view may be right or wrong; but of this I am certain, that there are two reasons which in my mind to a very considerable degree account for this drain. One is the want of adequate employment in the country for this class of persons, and the other was alluded to by the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck)—the illusion that exists with regard to the security of tenure and the want of means of enforcing compensation to tenants for improvements. I think a great deal of mischief has been done by what the hon. Member for West Norfolk justly called visionary schemes upon that subject, and which I entirely agree with him can lead to no practical good. I hold in my hand an extract from the Report of the Committee for Inquiring into the Condition of the Poorer Classes in Ireland in 1836, and it represents what is really the condition of the people. The Report states—There is not in Ireland the division of labour that exists in Great Britain; the body of the labouring class look to agricultural employment, and to it only for support. The supply of agricultural labour is thus so considerable as greatly to exceed the demand for it, hence come small earnings and wide spread misery.That is precisely the reason why at present the condition of the poorer classes in Ireland is not such as those who take an interest in their welfare wish to see; but at the same time I am bound to admit, although I regret to see those persons leaving the country, they all go buoyed up with expectations of doing better elsewhere; and there being no adequate employment for their labour, it is the interest of themselves and their families that they find labour elsewhere when they cannot get it at home. I own I was astounded at one observation that fell from the hon. and learned Member, when he said with reference to the diminution of population that he believed the area of Ireland would support 37,000,000. [Mr. HENNESST: No; I 713 only quoted Blacker, to that effect.] I certainly understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to adopt the authority he quoted. ["No."] Well, at all events, he coquetted with it. When I quote an opinion in this House I adopt it, unless I state to the contrary. The hon. and learned Gentleman now says he merely quoted "Blacker." Who is "Blacker?" Just observe what would be the consequence if the "Blacker" system prevailed in Ireland. There is no country in Europe which has a population exceeding 246 persons to the square mile. Ireland at this moment has a population of about 151 or 156 per square mile; but if the calculation of "Blacker" were adopted we should actually see a state of things in Ireland in which there would be more than 1,000 persons per square mile over the whole area of Ireland. It was quite evident that that gentleman knew nothing of the country. At all events, there would be, according to "Blacker," many thousands who would be planted in bog, without any possibility of maintaining their existence. Reverting to what is called the insecurity of tenure in Ireland, it has been said that tenants-at-will are synonymous with insecurity of tenure. But surely the landlords of Ireland would not be so dishonest, or actuated by such base motives, that if a tenant did his duty to the land they would eject him, or that as a general rule he would be under the apprehension that his tenure was insecure. I do not believe that that is the case, and I regard the advocacy of the doctrine known as tenant right as calculated to do a great deal of mischief; it would bring no benefit to the occupier of the land, and has the effect of leading him to form visionary hopes and expectations which never could be realized. I am happy to say that the Return I hold in my hand does not bear out the gloomy statements of hon. Members on this branch of the subject. I am happy to say there is a great improvement in the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland. This is shown by the diminution in the number of evictions that have taken place. In 1849 the number actually evicted for nonpayment of rent amounted to 72,065 persons; in 1850, to 74,171; but in 1864 the number was 7,889, and in 1863, 7,883. The diminution is really not only most satisfactory but most remarkable. My hon. Friend the Member for Londonderry said he believed the Returns last year with reference to the crops were much overrated. 714 In anticipation of this Motion, I have taken the pains to ascertain, by every means in my power, from poor-law inspectors in the different districts, and others well acquainted with the condition of the poor, what was the general feeling. The harvest returns afford very interesting topics of consideration. The right hon. Member for Limerick observed that the potato crop had been of extraordinary magnitude. The rate of produce of potatoes last year was actually double that of the unfavourable years of 1860, 1861, and 1862. It was also higher than the rate for the highly favourable years 1856,1857, 1858, and 1859. The total produce of potatoes last year was 4,312,367 tons, or a million tons more than in 1863. The hon. and gallant Member for Queen's County (Colonel Dunne) spoke disparagingly of the increase of the growth of flax in Ireland, but I regard the matter in a different light. The Government had been urged by gentlemen interested in the welfare of Ireland to encourage the growth of flax in that country, and they had accordingly sent qualified persons into "different counties to instruct small farmers in the cultivation of that crop. The result was that an enormous return had been derived from it during the last year. I think the hon. Member for Dungarvan and others deserve much credit for their exertions in promoting the extension of this useful crop. When I stated at the opening of the Session that the value of the flax crop in Ireland last year was over £4,000,000, my estimate was questioned; but, on inquiry, I learn from Sir Robert Kane that the amount is nearer £4,500,000. We have now 87,843 acres more than in the year before last under cultivation for flax. In 1864 the number of acres was 301,942, while in 1863 it was only 214,099. Then, again, the wheat crop shows a satifactory rate of progress. The produce fell off very much in the wet seasons of 1861 and 1862; but last year it was higher than the average of the four good years 1856 to 1859 inclusive. The estimated average produce of wheat per statute acre is also gratifying. Thus, we find potatoes, wheat, and flax, all showing an increase compared with the yield in the previous year. In fact, the only crops which last year in any way disappointed the expectations entertained, were hay, which was below the average, and oats, which was not so favourable as in 1863. On the whole I confidently 715 submit that the condition of Ireland justifies that paragraph in the Queen's Speech to which allusion had been made, and that the statistics' show that there is a satisfactory improvement in the state of Ireland. A diminution of offences is also observable in the criminal statistics. Agrarian murders for instance, which used to be so numerous in 1835–37, being then eighty, seventy, and fifty in a year, last year amounted to only two. I am willing to own that in two districts in the part of the country represented by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last, and in Galway there has been, and still is, considerable distress; but the rest of the island is in a far better condition than formerly. On the first night of the Session, the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone (Lord Fermoy) startled us by declaring that the poor-rate in Galway was 11s. in the pound, but on inquiry I find it is only 2s. 1d. That shows how cautious we should be in making or accepting hasty statements of that kind. I am glad to be able to say that the savings banks also show an advance. According to latest statistics rendered in October, 1864, there are not less than £8,000,000 of savings in the National and in the provincial banks in Ireland, and in the eight principal banks the aggregate amount of private balances is over £14,000,000. There is a very interesting account in the report of the Postmaster General of the Post Office Banks in Ireland. More than £160,000 is now invested in these institutions, and that betokens the prevalence of a thrifty spirit among the people, which it is to be hoped will continue to spread. I might refer to the trade of Belfast and Dublin, as illustrative of the general improvement. The linen trade of the north of Ireland was last year conspicuous for the success which it enjoyed. Notwithstanding the high rate of discount and the failures in England, there was not a single failure of any importance in that branch of industrial enterprise in Ireland. The fishery returns of Dublin Bay are also most satisfactory. I have received a letter from a gentleman competent to judge of the state of the fisheries, and he assured me that during many months of the last year the receipts of the fisheries in Dublin Bay alone amounted to £40,000 a month. I may point to the private Bills as another indication of the generally prosperous state of Ireland. About fifty Bills come this Session from Ireland for gas, railway, and other works. For the reason stated by 716 my hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Motion of the hon. Gentleman opposite cannot be acceded to, and I trust he will not press it to a division. I frankly own that the state of Ireland is not all that could be desired. I should like to see it prospering more than it is, but there is great progress. I quite admit with the hon. Gentleman, that there are districts which have not shared the prosperity we see in other districts, but I would put it to hon. Members and to the country whether, from the statistics which I have submitted, and which I have endeavoured to lay before the House without exaggeration, there are not some grounds for a feeling of satisfaction at the improvement of the country. And this improvement indicates not only present results, but future progress. The hon. Gentleman taunted me with entertaining the belief that there was a better time coming for Ireland. I do believe that there is a brighter future for that country. Let us at all events hope and believe that there is. You may blame the Government if you please for the course of legislation. You may say that the Government has not done all that it could have done; but I do say that when you see education extending throughout the country; when you see trade, manufactures, and industrial enterprise gaining ground, I am justified in saying that the country has made progress, I do not like to hear it said that the people of Ireland are debased and disaffected. I will not share in that language. For my part, I look for better times, and I think they are coming, but if in the opinion of some I should be thought too sanguine, at least I think the House will give the Government the credit of endeavouring to promote the interests of the country. The Liberal party has for a great number of years held the reins of power. For thirty-four years, with slight interruptions, they have administered the affairs of the country, and they are asked what have they done. Well, the Government may point to a number of measures, especially that great one of education passed during that period, church-rate taxation abolished, tithes—a source of so much strife and bloodshed—placed on the land proprietor, the Irish Poor Law established, and by successive amendments rendered more liberal and beneficial in its operation. From this enumeration I think the House will not deny to the Government the credit, if no more, of an honest and earnest endeavour to bring about in Ireland, under the 717 many difficulties with which we have been surrounded, that state of things which represents the material and permanent improvement of the country.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
Ever since the right hon. Baronet has filled the office which he has occupied with so much edification, and I am bound to say also with so much amusement, to the House—ever since, I say the right hon. Gentleman has given the House the pleasure of his services in that post—I have observed that every year we have had a somewhat animated conflict between him and the Irish Members, and the plan of the conflict has always been this:—The Irish Members have come to the House and have said,—"Our constituents are starving. We have the testimony of the priests, who know the people, that they are starving. We live among our constituents ourselves, and we know their distress." On the other hand, the Chief Secretary has replied, "I assure you, my hon. Friends, that you are entirely wrong, and that if the people of Ireland think they are starving they make the greatest mistake in the world. I have been sitting in my office and studying columns of figures, and I can assure you that the Irish people, whatever their stomachs may seem to represent to them, really are not starving. The hon. Members for Queen's County and Clonmel may talk of the distress of their constituents, but I have been in Dublin Bay, I have been corresponding with the fishermen, and I know that the fisheries in Dublin Bay are first-rate; and as long as the fisheries in Dublin Bay are first-rate Queen's County and Clonmel cannot starve. "I am going to do a very bold thing. In the few observations which I shall address to the House I intend to assume that when the Irish people believe the testimony of their stomachs, and disbelieve the testimony of the Chief Secretary's figures they are right and he is wrong. I am bound, however, to say that although he spoke in a confident tone I suspect that a suspicion of the truth crossed the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, because after a short and mysterious communication with the more practised wisdom of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, just towards the close of his speech he addressed to us a kind of appeal that if his sanguine hopes as to the prosperous condition of the Irish people were an illusion, at all events we should not dispel that delusion. Now, I confess that I wish for Ireland something better than the Barmecide's feast to which 718 the hon. Gentleman desires to introduce her. He has acknowledged one fact which no delusion can alter. He has acknowledged the fact that the population of Ireland is draining away year by year; that those who in any future complications in which this country may be involved would be looked to fight her battles are going away at the rate of an army a year, and are going away, I am afraid in too many instances, to fall into the ranks of our most bitter and most determined enemies. But the right hon. Gentleman tells you with much frankness, "I admit that human beings are diminishing, but at all events sheep are multiplying," and as he congratulates himself with the thought that the produce of Ireland in future days is to be what it has been in the past, he no doubt looks forward to a period more peaceable and more comfortable for himself, when it will be sheep and not Irishmen over whom he will have to rule. An hon. Friend of mine makes an observation which ought not to be lost, that under those circumstances he will probably be able to fleece them more easily. I did not rise so much to reply to the right hon. Gentleman as to say a word with reference to his remarks upon the subject of tenant-right. I feel that between the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), who has advanced doctrines which he will find it difficult to persuade any House of Commons to adopt, and the caricatured assertion of the rights of landlords which has fallen from the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel), it will be somewhat difficult for a humble Member of this House to steer his way. My own impression is that any measure which alters the existing state of property as between any two men, be they landlord and tenant, or any one else, must, disguise it how you may, partake of the nature of confiscation. On the other hand, I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the state of land tenure in Ireland is all that could be desired. You must remember this, the distinguishing point between the state of Ireland and that of this country—that in the former leases are very rare. Why are leases more rare there than here? Because it has not been the custom of the country to give them. And how did that custom of the country come about? I fear from the penal laws which forbade the granting of leases to the members of that faith to which the great body of the peasantry of Ireland belong. The penal laws 719 have been abolished, but if that is the case, though you must preserve with the most sacred respect the rights of the landlords, still it becomes you to inquire with care whether anything can be done to ameliorate the condition of the peasantry, which is, to some extent, the result of former legislation. It seems to me that a great deal might be done by altering the presumption of the law. In England, where it is the custom to grant leases and there is no agreement, there is no presumption in favour of compensation. In a country like Ireland, where the custom is in the opposite direction, it seems to me that the presumption might be in favour of compensation. However, I only throw that out as an idea which occurs to me, and I do not venture to put my own opinion against that of persons who know the country better. I am most anxious to say a few words with reference to the doctrines which we heard earlier in the evening from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He seemed to lay down doctrines with respect to the granting of aid to Ireland which, though undoubtedly they were inspired by the most patriotic desire to spare the national purse, seemed to me too hard and too theoretical for the actual condition of Ireland on the historical facts to which that condition is due. The principle of the right hon. Gentleman, as I understood it, was this—that you have no right, except under very exceptional circumstances, to make any gift to the people of Ireland for which you must seek resources in the taxation of the rest of the people of the country. That was the principle by virtue of which I understood the right hon. Gentleman deprecated the undertaking of public works specially devoted to Ireland, exemptions from taxation specially bestowed upon Ireland, and, lastly, any considerable system of arterial drainage, such as was recommended by my hon. Friend. Before you can decide what is the remedy for Irish distress, you must ascertain what is its cause. Except the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary, we all admit that Ireland is distressed. From what does that distress arise? What is the reason that a people with so bountiful a soil, with such enormous resources, lag so far behind the English in the race? Some say that is to be found in the character of the Celtic race; but I look to France and I see a Celtic race there going forward in the path of prosperity with most rapid strides; I believe at 720 the present moment more rapidly than England herself. Some people say it is to be found in the Roman Catholic religion; but I look to Belgium and I find there a people second to none in Europe, except the English, for industry, singularly prosperous, considering the small space of country that they occupy, having improved to the utmost the natural resources of that country, but distinguished among all the peoples of Europe for the earnestness and intensity of their Roman Catholic belief. Therefore, I cannot say that the cause of the Irish distress is to be found in the Roman Catholic religion. An hon. Friend near me says that it arises from the Irish people listening to demagogues. I have as much dislike to demagogues as he has, but when I look to the Northern States of America I see there a people who listen to demagogues, but who undoubtedly have not been wanting in material prosperity. It cannot be demagogues, Romanism, or the Celtic race. What, then, is it? I am afraid that the one thing which has been peculiar to Ireland has been the Government of England. The comparison between the condition of England and that of Ireland is, no doubt, a very painful spectacle, but when did the vast prosperity which England now enjoys arrive? She has, no doubt, been preparing for it throughout her history, but its great spring took place simultaneously with the great advance in mechanical knowledge which we may place in the middle of the last century. What was then the condition of Ireland with respect to England? When I heard the eloquent speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the rigorous doctrines he seemed to be laying down, I could not help remembering words which fell from the mouth of a Chancellor of the Exchequer not inferior to the right hon. Gentleman in fame, which seemed to me to diminish very materially the force of his observations. They were the words of Mr. Pitt uttered on the 22nd of February, 1785, when he was laying the foundation of the present intercourse between the two countries. In his speech on that occasion he described what had been the legislation of England with regard to Ireland, and what restrictions had been imposed upon the latter country; and I think that when you hear those restrictions described in his words you will be at no loss to point to the cause of the inferiority in commercial prosperity which Ireland now 721 exhibits. These are the words of Mr. Pitt:—The House would recollect that from the Revolution to a period within the memory of every man who heard him, the system had been that of debarring Ireland from the enjoyment and use of her own resources; to make the kingdom completely subservient to the interests and opulence of this country, without suffering her to share in the bounties of nature, in the industry of her citizens, or making them contribute to the general interests and strength of the empire. This system of cruel and abominable restraint had, however, been exploded. It was at once harsh and unjust, and it was as impolitic as it was oppressive; for, however, necessary it might be to the partial benefit of districts in Britain, it promoted not the real prosperity and strength of the empire. That which had been the system, counteracted the kindness of Providence, and suspended the industry and the enterprise of man. Ireland was put under such restraint that she was shut out from every species of commerce; she was restrained from sending the produce of her own soil to foreign markets; and all correspondence with the colonies of Britain was prohibited to her, so that she could not derive their commodities but through the medium of Britain."—[Hansard, Parl. History, xxv. 317.]That is Mr. Pitt's account of the state of Ireland, and can you, let me ask, now fairly apply to that country your hard maxims of political economy? Can you tell her that the race is open to all, that there is a fair field and no favour, and that she must be dealt with on the same principles as the rest of the United Kingdom, seeing that you in past generations deprived her of her capital, and that the means on which her prosperity might be built up, were made, as Mr. Pitt says, subservient to the interests of Great Britain? It is a mere mockery, first to bind her hand and foot, and then to tell her to run a race with other countries which depend on their own resources. If you had treated her fairly, and had not previously deprived her of the power of rivalling you in the race, then I should say that the maxims of the Chancellor of the Exchequer were perfectly applicable and just. But you must bear in mind that capital once taken away from a country, is difficult to get back; that the superiority in trade secured by such places as Liverpool and Manchester, cannot easily be wrung from them again; that it is hard to revive industry once killed, and that you who have brought about these evils—though it may be in former times—though you are no longer morally responsible for them, and though your own Government of Ireland has been benignant, and kind, and just—are bound to repair the evils your fathers have done, and as far as pos- 722 sible to contribute to the restoration of that happiness and prosperity which by their action was destroyed. These are the general principles on which I think you should proceed, and I advance them only to meet what seem to me to be the too harsh and restrictive principles of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As a practical question I see all the difficulties by which the subject is surrounded. I entirely agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to the danger which accompanies anything in the shape of an absolute gift, and as to the risk that that which was intended for the deserving and industrious, should in reality fall to the lot of the idle the rapacious, and the corrupt. Great difficulties will, no doubt, be incident to your action in the matter, but still I believe that much might be effected. I am of opinion that such general improvements as those which have been pointed out by my hon. Friend near me, may be safely afforded by the Government, while I think that, by lending its aid it would be taking a course calculated to rescue Ireland from her present state of distress, to increase the general strength of the empire, and to remove something like a moral slur from the honour of England.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, that although he represented a part of Ireland in which the utmost misery and discontent prevailed, he was bound to admit that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to give him carte blanche in the matter of expenditure, to do what he thought best for the good of the country, he should feel he was in a most difficult position, for although he might be enabled to alleviate the distress for the moment, the production of a permanent effect by the mere expenditure of a grant of money would, he felt, be beyond his power. He said so because there were other than mere physical causes at work in Ireland. These were moral evils which rankled and festered throughout the whole social body of Ireland, and till these were removed palliations would be of little use. Where general discontent existed there was a dislike of the laws, and a population sympathizing with the breakers of the law, and the consequence was that capital fled, and with the absence of capital of course came want of employment and the destitution resulting from such a state of things. To improve the condition of Ireland various remedies were proposed. An hon. and gallant Friend of his seemed to think that the best course for the Irish 723 people to adopt would be to burn all the Manchester manufactures and to clothe themselves in linseywoolsey, while the hon. Member for the King's County argued in favour of the reclamation of waste lands. For his own part, he objected to any scheme in which the Government was to enter as a partner, and he wished to say so the more distinctly because he had seen in local newspapers articles written to enforce the view that the Government ought in some way to encourage manufacturers in Ireland. If they did, it would prove a costly failure. Now, everybody was aware that manufactures depended on capital, and that that could be attracted only by the hope on the part of the individuals possessing it to find remunerative employment for their money. While, however, he was on the subject of manufactures he wished to say a word on what seemed to be a wide-spread opinion in England, that it was impossible, owing to physical considerations—such, for example as the absence of coal—to establish manufactures in Ireland. He had the other day attended an interesting lecture which had been delivered in Dublin by Sir Robert Kane. He had estimated the cost of the motive power in English manufactories at 1¾ per cent, wages at 30 per cent, and interest on capital at 10 per cent. In Ireland the cost of coal might amount to 2¾ per cent, or 1 per cent more than England, but that would have been counterbalanced by the wages being less. Be that as it might, everybody conversant with Ireland knew there was something radically wrong in her condition, but how a remedy was to be provided was a question by which all were more or less puzzled. If, however, Ireland, instead of being placed to the west of England had been located midway between England and France, he believed she would be either the best governed, most prosperous, and most contented portion of Her Majesty's deminions, or one of the best governed, most prosperous, and most loyal departments of the French empire. As it was, in no country in Europe, except perhaps Poland or Turkey was there such widespread misery and discontent as were to be found in Galway and Limerick; nowhere such disaffection, for that was the proper word, as in the sister kingdom of the richest, best governed, most loyal kingdom of the world. It was cast in their teeth that it was their own fault, and that there was something inferior in 724 the Celtic race. The noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) had dealt rightly with that assertion He denied that the Celtic race was the cause of Ireland's misery. He did not believe that Providence had ordained that that race should be great and prosperous in other lands, but that in Ireland it should continue to grovel in wretchedness as long as the sun and moon endnred. That reasoning might go down in England, but foreign countries were of a different opinion, as they showed us in their literature, if not in their diplomatic despatches, when they advised. us not to try to remove the mote from their eyes while the beam remained in our own. They bid us look at Canada and other countries, where Irishmen advanced to wealth and station as merchants, men of letters, and statesmen. They pointed out that in Canada the Irish people were loyal and contented—a remarkable instance of what a change of country would effect—and that in the event of a war with America they would be the first to resist an invasion—prompted, as they would be and had been, by the Roman Catholic prelates. At the time of the Trent difficulty with the United States addresses were issued to their flocks by two Roman Catholic prelates in Canada inculcating loyalty to the British Throne, for, said they, under no form of government could they find greater freedom or more equal laws than under the British rule as they experienced it in Canada. Does any hon. Member think that in case Ireland was menaced by an invasion from France that the Roman Catholic prelates could with truth or justice issue such an address? He had no intention of attacking the Government, neither did he accuse them of any act of atrocity; but he did say that, with the exception of the right hon. Baronet, the Chief Secretary, the Government appeared to ignore the very existence of the country. The right hon. Gentleman said, that for thirty-four years the Liberal party had been doing their best for Ireland. The Irish were not generally considered an ungrateful people, yet little evidence of their appreciation of the benefits conferred upon them by the Liberal party would be afforded by the state of the Ministerial benches after the next general election, when scarcely an Irishman would take a seat where a few years ago numbers of enthusiastic Irish Members were to be found. A few Irish Members, supported by territorial connection or by great popu- 725 larity, might still remain on the Government side, but the bulk of the others must, if they would save themselves, disavow all connection with that party. That was a pretty state for a Liberal Government to bring itself to. He wished completely and fully to exonerate his right hon. Friend Sir Robert Peel from any animadversions which had been directed against the Government, for he believed a more laborious or more earnest man had never filled his office. He believed the right hon. Gentleman often obtained his information from wrong quarters, but he was convinced of his anxious and earnest desire for improving the condition of the country although he had not the power to carry out his good intentions. He (Mr Gregory) had always said in debates in this House that successive Governments had adopted a low, mean principle, of governing Ireland. They thought they could quiet it by patronage. They thought that by getting hold of some vehement, perhaps well-meaning lawyer, and by stopping his mouth with a good place, they might quietly sit down as the benefactors of the country—might "rest and be thankful." But to attempt to govern Ireland by the mere distribution was a great mistake. Every one would admit that for many years there had not been so good a feeling towards England as there was during the viceroyalty of Lord Eglington. Well, that certainly had not arisen from the noble Lord's adroit use of patronage, for in his time the fructifying stream ran only in one, and that a very narrow channel. Neither had it proceeded from any tampering on his part with the extreme party, nor from his lending himself to the designs of the ultramontane Roman Catholics. The antecedents of the noble Lord, moreover, had been against him, for it was he that had destroyed the Bill for establishing diplomatic relations with the Pope, by introducing a clause that the papal emissary should not be an ecclesiastic. Nevertheless, the Irish people saw in Lord Eglington a determined honest man who had set his heart upon the material improvement of the country, and who was determined either to carry out his plans or to leave Dublin. Moreover, they saw that he had not only the will but the power; the cabinet, to their honour, being disposed to listen to his suggestions. This created a spirit of confidence in the Government, and had Lord Eglington continued Lord Lieutenant there 726 would have been a great and favourable change in the general treatment of Ireland. He (Mr. Gregory) would now advert, as each person was advocating his own nostrum, to matters with which he was specially cannected. There were two subjects which specially interested them in the west—one was the construction of a harbour of refuge, and the other was the drainage of the Shannon. He overheard an hon. Member say that he was coming to the Galway Contract. His hon. Friend was perfectly right, he was just about to refer to it. He did not believe that any measure had been given to Ireland for many years which had created such a general feeling of satisfaction as that had done. It was not a mere boon to a western city, for it had called into play the energies of many other cities, and had been hailed with joy in Waterford, Belfast, and Dublin. That contract failed, partly through gross mismanagement and partly through the stringent conditions attached to it; but if it had continued he should not have been there that night with any complaints from Galway. For he had never seen in his life such a revolution effected in so short a period as took place in Galway during the short time the contract was in force. What the Galway people wanted was an advance, and some small concession in the shape of a reduction in the rate of interest; and here he could not help remarking on the manner in which they had been treated by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners. When they applied for money, the Exchequer Loan Commissioners expressed a fear lest they should make a graving dock at Galway large enough for Transatlantic steamers, and so lead to a revival of the annual grant. Of course they wished to have such a dock, for, even if they got no grant, they cherished the hope of some day having a line of steamers of their own. But when the people of Galway wished to borrow money and offered to give ample security for the purpose of improving their harbour and making a graving dock capable of receiving the largest Atlantic steamers, the Commissioners were instructed to look very closely into the details of the proposed undertaking, as the people of Galway might have some ulterior views in the matter. But was not such a proceeding on the part of Government a low, mean, dirty mode of treating such an application? Was it any wonder that it rankled in the minds of the Irish people? With regard to the Shannon drainage question, all that 727 the Irish people were anxious for was that the plans of 1837, on the faith of which they had been taxed and had paid the, uttermost farthing, should be carried out in their entirety. Year by year they had endeavoured to bring it to a successful issue, and year by year they had had every conceivable difficulty thrown in their way. He was not prepared then to enter into the far deeper question of discontent. As far as the physical condition of the country was concerned, it was evident that Ireland was passing through a transition state. From an agricultural, it was changing to a pastoral country, and the process naturally entailed disaster upon many of the smaller occupiers. Freetrader as he had always been, God forbid that he should now utter a word in derogation of that policy; but remembering that Ireland alone, of all Her Majesty's dominions, had suffered depression in consequence, there were obviously reasons for dealing in a liberal spirit with any just request that might be put forward. He trusted the Government would take these things seriously to heart, and, having heard in that debate the expression of a vast amount of discontent, would endeavour to bring about a sounder state of feeling, thereby making Ireland the right hand of England's strength instead of a source of weakness as at present.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
moved the adjournment of the debate. There were more than a dozen Gentlemen evenly distributed at both sides of the House who were anxious to take part in a discussion of such moment to the country.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned"—(Mr. Maguire.)
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I think the proposal of the hon. Gentleman is rather premature. It is only a quarter past eleven o'clock. We ought, at all events, to have the advantage of hearing two or three additional Members before we adjourn.
§ But, on Mr. SPEAKER having put the Question, and declaring that in his opinion the Noes have it, a Division was not called for.
§ Motion negatived.
§ Debate resumed.728
§ MR. MAGUIRE
explained that he had not troubled the House to divide, as he had been given to understand privately, that after twelve o'clock the adjournment of the debate would not be opposed. He felt bound to repudiate the absurd doctrine which, according to the Member for Galway, some newspaper writers in Ireland had laid down, that the Government ought to assist private enterprise in commercial and manufacturing undertakings. For his own part, he must say that he never knew of any such doctrine put forward in Ireland, either in writings or speeches; and, were it put forward in his presence, he would be the first to repudiate it, as false and fatal—fatal to all spirit of self-reliance. But he did not conceive that there was any loss of dignity or self-respect on the part of the Irish representatives in asking the Administration to discharge the ordinary duties of government by aiding in every legitimate manner the enterprise, energy, and resolution of the people themselves. In the city of Cork there was no desire that a representative should come to London and appeal to Parliament in forma pauperis. On the contrary, he should regard any material aid from the State, in a mere matter of private enter-prize, as a bar to its success. But the Government had their own duties to discharge, duties from which they ought not to shrink; and if they discharged those duties, they might then fairly leave the rest to the people of Ireland themselves. He hoped, however, that when any Member of the Government next rose to speak upon this subject he would borrow something of the tone, manner, and feeling which had distinguished the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford; for he was sorry to say that, except when the Treasury Bench had some pet scheme which they wished to carry, there was a coldness in all that they said or did with regard to Ireland, which exercised a very chilling effect upon the people of that country. Aversion and dislike were never long in being reciprocated; and he should not be speaking the truth if he did not corroborate the statements made by the hon. Members for Clonmel and Galway as to the feeling of disaffection at present in Ireland. Scarcely ever in the history of the country had that feeling been so strong, and remembering the existence of that general distress and depression, as to which every Member taking part in the debate had testified, it was hardly to be wondered 729 at. When travelling about a month ago with a Roman Catholic bishop—one of the most distinguished prelates of his Church, a man whose ability was only equalled by his amiability of character—that eminent man, who was a deep observer of passing events, assured him in private conversation that in the portion of the country with which he was intimately acquainted he never remembered anything like the prevalent feeling of disaffection, which was not confined to the labouring, or even the farming classes, but extended to those above them. There was a feeling of utter recklessness as to anything that might happen. Now, he contended that was not a state of things which would justify the paragraph in the Queen's Speech respecting the existence of peace and prosperity in that country. But the right hon. Baronet, the Irish Secretary, made a desperate effort to vindicate the truth and the wisdom of that laudatory paragraph. Thus, for instance, he endeavoured to prove that emigration was falling off. How did he prove it? By comparing the number that left Ireland this January, as compared to the previous January. But he should bear in mind that during the month when storms raged, and the coasts of these islands were fringed with wrecks, nearly 6,000 persons left the shores of Ireland for America. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Hennessy) called upon the Government to assist the arterial drainage of the country. The Government were bound to do so on two grounds. In the first place, they had made a serious blunder in their engineering, which had done injury rather than good; and, in the second place, the question of arterial drainage was one that assumed an Imperial rather than a local character. As to the reclamation of the waste lands of Ireland he would express no opinion at present; it was one of those subjects which did not press for an immediate solution, and it could afford to wait till another time. But he would say it was the duty of the Government to assist, by wise legislation, in the improvement of those lands which were not waste, but which were laid out in farms and encircled by boundaries. He confessed he thought more of the 16,000,000 acres of lands in actual occupation, than of the 4,500,000 acres of lands which were said to be partly reclaimable. He was sorry to hear the discouraging allusions made by the hon. Baronet to the subject which occupied the thoughts of the people of Ireland, and to 730 which every other question was held subordinate. The right hon. Gentleman talked of erroneous notions and impracticable theories with respect to the occupation and tenure of land. It was absurd for the Government to say that they could not legislate upon the land question. Governments had over and over, within the last twenty years, brought in measures dealing with the land of Ireland, and interfering with the relations between the landlord and the tenant in that country; and it was now too late for any Minister to say that this question could not be dealt with by Parliament. Four years ago the then Attorney General introduced a measure on this subject. He was warned that his Bill was of too restrictive and cumbrous a character; but it passed—because no popular Member dared, under the penalty of misrepresentation, refuse his support to it, whatever its defects. The Government, therefore, could not say that the principle of giving compensation to tenants was revolutionary. The Bill, however, had not worked, and it was now the duty of the House to deal with the land question in a liberal spirit. It may have seemed strange to English Members that the Irish Members differed so widely in their remedies for the ills of Ireland. He believed that various remedies were required; but to an agricultural country good land laws were primarily essential. Therefore, he would suggest one practical remedy. He gave notice that, on the earliest possible day, he should ask the Government, by a special Motion, to refer the Landlord and Tenant Bill and the Compensation Bills of 1860 to a Select Committee. That Committee should have power to call before it not "agitators," not "demagogues," not men of impracticable theories or violent notions, but such men as Judge Longfield, Baron Deasy, Justice O'Hagan, and men of that class. If there was a fair representation of the country on that Committee, and if they fully considered its wants and its present position, he should be compelled to be satisfied with its report as to how the existing law could be amended so as to work beneficially, and the Government could then deal with the question on the information and evidence before them. The Government might, if they pleased, call those who desired to see a fair settlement of a vital question, agitators or demagogues; but he would tell them it would face them on the hustings, and it would determine their position in that House, by 731 the votes taken in its lobbies. It was no party question, and he did not speak as a party man; but this he did say—that if fifty Irish Members took up an independent position, whatever Government might be in power would be only too ready to come forward with measures of relief and redress, not alone in this but on other questions affecting the welfare of their country. He did not mean to say that his measure would prove a panacea for the ills of the country, and he did not disregard any remedy whatever. Judicious plans of arterial drainage, promoted or assisted by the Government would, no doubt, be beneficial; but he believed that the extension of drainage by the farmers themselves on their own farms would do more for the prosperity of the country than any Government drainage through the Shannon or the Barrow. Ireland demanded the tender sympathy and regard of this country, and he would tell them why. Ever since the Union Ireland had been losing £4,000,000 a year, which had been drained out of the country by Irish absentees. If that sum were multiplied by the number of years—sixty-four—that since elapsed, it amounted to the enormous sum of £250,000,000, not one penny of which had ever gone back to the country again. This was a ruinous drain from a poor country which it impoverished, and a stream of wealth to a rich country which did not need it; and that rich and powerful country that was benefited at the expense of that impoverished country should not be content with taunting it with want of self-reliance, but should aid its efforts in that direction. The Irish Secretary took credit for the extension of flax, and for having sent instructors through the southern provinces. It was a prudent thing, no doubt, to teach those who had forgotten it, to cultivate a valuable crop with care and skill; but the extension of flax, and the promotion of manufactures, depended not upon the Government, but upon individuals. The people of Ireland had their own responsibility in the matter, and he would call upon every Gentleman to use his influence to extend manufactures throughout the south, east, and west of the country, without which Ireland could not prosper. The Secretary for Ireland had taken credit for a diminution of 4,000 last year in the number of emigrants, but as the population was diminishing every year, and the emigration remained the same, the drain must be greater as compared with the popula- 732 tion of the country. Nor let it be imagined that the emigration was composed of the idle, the dissolute, and the impoverished. If hon. Gentlemen would stand on the pier of Queenstown, as he had done, they would see that it was the very bone and sinew of the country that was now leaving it, the same class who were the hope and the strength of other countries. If the land question were settled, he believed it would tend to stop a stream of emigration which the new Lord Lieutenant himself said ought now to be checked. Let them, by good laws, enable the farmers in every district to improve the country, and they would soon feel a difference in Ireland. The tenant would employ that labour, or give that employment, which Lord Wode-house considered the most effectual check to emigration. It had been stated that he had said that the panacea for Ireland was a ninety-nine years lease; but he had said nothing of the kind, and had only instanced some estates in Cork were security of tenure had been recently afforded to its tenants by means of leases, and said that those leases were for ninety-nine years. His opinion was that shorter leases, provided there were compensation for unexhausted improvements, would work great benefit. Those who advocated fixity of tenure were charged with promulgating revolutionary doctrines; but in the north of Ireland, where the principle existed, the landlord was secure of his rent, and surely the same system that worked well in one portion of the country might safely be applied to the rest of Ireland. Of course, it could be so fenced round and guarded as to protect the interests of the owner. The great evil of that country was that the tenant had no security for compensation for the improvements which he made. His hon. Friend the Member for the King's County had been taunted with committing himself to Colonel Blacker's opinion as to the population which could be supported on the soil of Ireland; but there was the authority of Sir Robert Kane for saying that Ireland could support double the population that dwelt in that country at the time Sir Robert was writing, and at that time the population was 8,200,000. If Ireland could support 16,000,000, or even 8,000,000, a fortiori, she ought to be able to support her present population, which was only about 5^500,000. It was a shocking reproach to the Government that they did not endeavour to make contented in their own land people who, when 733 they emigrated, became prosperous and contented elsewhere. If the House could see the letters which were sent home by Irish emigrants, they would find that those letters breathed a bitter and undying spirit of hostility to England. If any presidential election or great government crisis should happen in America, they would, to conciliate the Irish, hold out a promise of invasion of Ireland; and if a war arose, and only 10,000 filibusters should land there, one half of the people would rise in rebellion against this country. He should regret that, for he believed a rebellion would retard the progress of Ireland and send her half a century back; but there was no statesmanship in relying on a few peddling figures, attempting to prove a case of prosperity by triumphantly declaring that there were 100 pigs more in Ireland this year than there were last. The question to be considered was this—was there more discontent? There was no one in Ireland worthy of the name of a man who was satisfied with the policy of the Government towards that country. It was a mean and a cowardly policy; it was a policy of denial, and glossing over distress and misery; it was a policy of waiting upon Providence for a gleam of sunshine, or a chance harvest. It was a policy unworthy of statesmen, or of those on whom rested a grave responsibility; and if before the general election there was not a distinct and honest declaration of quite a different policy, the present Ministry would not be long on the Treasury Bench. He would, however, rather conciliate than threaten. [Ironical cries of "Hear, hear!"] He repeated it; but he felt that the Irish policy of the Government was a disgrace to England and a weakness to the Empire. He supported the Motion of his hon. Friend, and repeated his demand for a Select Committee to hear the evidence of impartial and competent men as to how the land laws could be safely and beneficially amended. He asked the Government for simple justice, and he felt convinced that a policy of justice to Ireland would not only be for the interest and advantage of that country, but would tend to strengthen and secure the Empire at large.
§ Then, on the Motion of THE O'CONOR DON, Debate adjourned till Monday next.