§ MR. R. TORRENS
said, in undertaking to bring under notice of the House the efficacy of emigration as a remedy for the distress so widely prevailing, he did not presume to claim credit for any truer or warmer sympathy with that suffering than he was satisfied stirred the hearts of other hon. Members; but he stood, in relation to this question, in a position so far peculiar that, owing to his having resided for nearly a quarter of a century in a land where such distress was absolutely unknown, its very strangeness rendered him more sensitive to its influence, impelling him to action; and the same circumstance placed him in the position of being enabled to testify, as an eye-witness, to the efficacy of emigra- 1003 tion, when judiciously conducted, as a remedy for that condition of suffering which all alike deplored. He would not take up the time of the House by dilating upon details of that distress; but having already assumed its existence to be admitted and sympathized in, he would content himself with observing that the statistics of pauperism, though exhibiting a serious increase, by no means afforded a true measure either of the extent or intensity of suffering actually existing, inasmuch as they disclosed only the increasing number of those who, succumbing to pressure, become actually chargeable upon the poor rate, but tell nothing of the suffering of the still greater number who, with a patience and fortitude deserving all commendation, endure the pangs of insufficient sustenance and all the depressing incidents of extreme poverty, hoping against hope from day to day, if by any means they may escape the degradation of becoming chargeable on the parish. The evidences of this state of things, though not afforded by statistical tables, are only too patent to all who will be at the pains to inquire into the condition of the working classes. There might be—he wished it were in his power to say confidently there were—reasons for believing this calamitous distress to be but temporary as regarded the condition of the artizan class; but as regarded the agricultural labourer, the case throughout a great part of the country was undoubtedly chronic. When there was employment for two there were three seeking for it, and by this competition wages were kept at a scale which barely sufficed to supply food, clothing, and lodging essential to sustain a single man in vigor. In the case of the married labourer, therefore, that amount of food must be curtailed that the wife and children might not go naked or starve, Lassitude and depression, induced by insufficient sustenance, created a craving for ardent spirits to arouse the system, or for the drugged beer of the pot-house to stupify and deaden the sense of suffering. The dwelling of the labourer seldom afforded sufficient accommodation to admit of separation of the sexes and observance of the ordinary decencies of civilized life. The conditions of such an existence were inconsistent with moral or intellectual culture—and the labour of a man thus enfeebled in body and almost 1004 brutalized in mind was dear even at the paltry wages paid for it. Disease and premature decay induced by those causes incapacitated for labour at a comparatively early period of life; a result hastened by despair of being able to rescue himself and family from the downward track at foot of which the inevitable workhouse yawned to receive them. This was no exaggerated picture, but a true description of the state of things in certain districts, and its existence was a disgrace to the civilization and humanity of this wealthy nation. Happily it was confined to certain districts. Notably our northern counties were free from that opprobrium, a circumstance which afforded absolute assurance that it was remediable by human agencies. But wherever this state of misery existed—whether the locality be rural or urban—whatever be the industry, whether agricultural or manufacturing—and whether the distress be temporary or chronic, the proximate cause was one and the same, excessive competition—competition induced by the existing disproportion between the number of labourers and the amount of employment afforded within the limits of these islands. Probably no one would be found to deny that the distress which they deplored would at once be alleviated if only it were possible to interpose Nova Scotia or New Zealand in the ocean space between Great Britain and Ireland, so that the labour and capital here in excess might pass over to fertile lands inviting cultivation. The competition in the market for each would be relieved—the Irish land famine would be appeased—and the previously impoverished, because inadequately employed, labourers would with their families become largely customers for the manufactured products of those whom they had left behind in the old locations. The beneficial agency of such a migration would therefore be two-fold—immediate in reducing competition for employment, and ultimate in increasing the amount of employment for those who remained. As this augmentation of acreage of these islands was impracticable, as the mountain could not move to Mahommed, Mahommed must move to the mountain. That was, for migration they must substitute emigration, and analogous, if not identical, results would be attained. He was aware that that had often been denied, and probably would again be 1005 denied, by those who pleaded that emigration drained the country of its strength, its best producers; since it was the young, the vigorous, the enterprizing, who emigrated; leaving the aged, the feeble, the listless, to burden the ratepayers of the country. To that he would venture to reply—first, that the emigration which went on spontaneously or with the aid of Colonial funds, and which could not be interrupted, was almost exclusively of that valued class; but the emigration which he was prepared to advocate for the relief and at the cost of the mother country, would be almost exclusively of middle-aged parents accompanied by their children. Secondly, that the young, the vigorous, and the enterprizing were a strength only in the proportion in which the country afforded them employment. When they exceeded that limit they were not a strength but a danger and little less a burden than the aged and infirm. Thirdly, he would reply that the declaration of policy by Her Majesty's Minister for the Colonies in "another place" should go far to dissipate the idea that those who took up their abode in British Colonies ceased to constitute portion of the strength of the Empire. Large employers of labour need not be uneasy lest emigration be carried to such excess that upon a revival of trade they should find a scarcity of hands to avail of it. The ties of home and kindred were strong and not lightly broken. The reluctance to abandon an occupation in which skill and adroitness have been acquired by long practice, in exchange for one laborious and irksome, because unaccustomed, was also powerful, and would not be encountered except under pressure of circumstances amounting to something like necessity. Upon revival of trade, or any other cause supplying permanent employment at adequate wages, emigration would cease of its own accord; but, pending the contingency of increased employment from that source, they were not justified in leaving in indigence and misery thousands of their fellow-countrymen who, if removed to a position of competency in the Colonies, would, as customers for our manufactures, be largely instrumental in bringing about that revival of trade so earnestly desired. Again, it had been urged that that class of men were not suitable colonists, and that the 1006 demand for skilled labour was limited. There was some truth in that objection; but, after the experience of many years as a colonist, he dared assert that its applicability had been greatly exaggerated. He had known hundreds of artizans whose strong limbs and determined hearts had overcome whatever there was of difficulty or irksomeness in the change of avocation. Admitting, however, a degree of truth in that objection, it was desirable that any continuous or extensive emigration promoted or directed by the Government of this country should be of the agricultural class, by which means they might advantageously divert to other fields of production the labour which constantly gravitated from the rural districts towards the towns, intensifiying the competition for employment already excessive in those great centres of industry, and by that means, rather than by any extensive emigration of their skilled labourers, might indirectly and gradually, but safely and effectually, relieve the distressed condition of their artizans and mechanics. He believed he had now made out a sufficient case to establish the expediency and the efficacy of emigration as a remedy for the distress so deplorably prevalent. It remained to consider from what sources the funds requisite for the application of that remedy might be derived. The Colonies, as they would benefit at least equally with the mother country by any well-considered system of emigration, had naturally been looked to as a source from whence aid might be expected. Speaking with a very intimate knowledge of the facts, he regretted his inability to entertain any sanguine expectations of material aid from that quarter. The Government of the Dominion proposed to afford some small aid in looking after the emigrants when landed on their shores, and, not without a fair show of reason, excused themselves from further contribution, by pleading that their money would be availed of by emigrants en route to the United States. Throughout Australia, prior to 1837, the Wakefield system of colonization had been more or less operative; the principle of which was that the value which population conferred upon land on which it was located should constitute a fund for defraying the charges of emigration. The waste lands of the Crown, so far as they were placed at the disposal of the local 1007 governments, were so placed to be alienated by sale only, and the proceeds held subject, as regarded one moiety, to lien in the interests of the people of England, available for generations to come, to relieve this country of surplus population. He lacked words wherewith to convey to the House an adequate idea of the beneficial working of this system. In an evil hour, no less for the Colonies than for this country, the Colonial Minister of the day conceived the idea of bestowing upon these small communities the vast estate of the people of England in these lands, without any reservation of the emigration moiety; and, at the same time, a form of government, the most purely democratic the world had ever known, was introduced into them. An immediate consequence of throwing the entire control of this land revenue into the hands of the class of hired labourers had been the abandonment of the Wakefield system—they withdrew the bridge by which themselves had passed to independence—and since that time but a meagre and inadequate sum had been grudgingly doled out by the Australian Legislatures for emigration. Wages had been forced up to 6s. or 7s. per day; but the previously rapid advance in population and wealth had been arrested, and the working classes of this country, without their knowledge or consent—and he ventured to add without the cognizance of their representatives—had been deprived of that fund which, at a period of severe distress like the present, would have been available to transport them to lands where liberal wages and a fair future prospect would reward their industry. Such conditions did not warrant any reasonable hope that the Colonies would contribute any sum sufficient to have an appreciable effect in relieving the labour market of this country. If, therefore, that relief was to be afforded they must, look at home for the means; and that brought him to the concluding consideration, towards which all the remarks, with which he had, he feared at too great length, troubled the House, were intended to converge. He would assure the House, and especially Her Majesty's Ministers, that in offering suggestions, which were the result of much careful thought, upon a subject in which he took the deepest interest, he did not presume to dictate or prescribe any special course as that which should 1008 alone be adopted. On the contrary, he held that not one agency but several might with advantage be called into play for the promotion of emigration; and in that spirit he offered a few suggestions to be considered with others for what they might be worth. Voluntary efforts were being made, and in these the merchant princes of this city had, with the liberality which ever distinguished them, contributed large sums, to be expended under the auspices of the Emigration Aid Society, in furtherance of this great work of charity. He would venture to call it this best work of charity, for it was free from that alloy which, more or less, entered as an ingredient into other modes of relief. It did not break down the spirit of self-reliance in the recipient, but placed him in a position of independence. Neither was the benefit confined upon the individual alone. It endured to all who might be borne of him for generations to come. Voluntary efforts of this kind should by all legitimate means be encouraged; and with that view he begged leave urgently to press upon the consideration of Her Majesty's Government the expediency of assisting the efforts of the society he had named—a society which numbered amongst its active administrators many Members of that House, the Lord Mayor of London, and others, whose names were a guarantee for a judicious and faithful use of any means that might be entrusted to them—by placing at their disposal some of the Government transports or vessels of war which might be suitable for conveyance of emigrants, and not likely to be again or speedily commissioned. He would venture to hope that no considerations of departmental convenience, or other such obstruction, would be allowed to interfere with what the public voice loudly and distinctly called for in this matter. But whilst voluntary efforts should be availed of and encouraged, it would be worse than folly to shut their? eyes to the fact that the scope and magnitude of the work in this case requiring to be done was altogether beyond what could be accomplished by private benevolence. If anything effectual was to be done for the relief of the present distress, or for the permanent improvement of the condition of the working classes, it was not in hundreds, but in thousands that families must be transplanted; and for such a work they must look elsewhere 1009 than to private resources and voluntary associations. It remained for consideration whether the funds required for this object might, with greater justice and expediency, be drawn from local rates, from the general taxation, or from both. It had been objected, and the objection insisted on with some pertinacity, that a local rate for emigration would lay an additional burden on those who remained for the advantage of those who emigrated. That objection would be fatal were there any question of a special rate for emigration; but as he would presently show that simply by a more judicious use of the amounts already drawn from the pockets of the ratepayers, they would be in a position to afford substantial relief, that objection, on the score of injustice, fell to the ground. For the emigration of a family such as he had referred to as drifting towards pauperism, but not yet paupers—say, the parents over forty years of age, and four children under ten, equivalent to four statute adults—the sum of £50 would suffice if transplanted to Australia, or £30 if transplanted to Canada. The mean of these amounts—£40—would, on the terms on which monies were advanced to Irish landlords for the improvement of their estates, impose on the parish or union an annual charge of £2 12s. for interest and sinking fund. Surely the case needed but to be stated in order to satisfy every rational person that, in guaranteeing ratepayers on such terms as these against the more than probable contingency of having to support this family in the workhouse, there would be the truest economy for those who remained in this country, and that, so far from imposing any additional burden, the future pressure on the ratepayers would be effectually relieved; whilst, at the same time, the higher wages and cheap and abundant food which reward industry in new countries would enable the emigrating parents to bring up their family in comfort, with a well assured prospect of future independence. To render that practicable it would be necessary to amend the existing law, 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 76, so as to place Boards of Guardians on the same footing as Irish landlords, as far as regarded the privilege of borrowing from the public Treasury on the security of the rates. The law, as it already stood, recognized; the principle of borrowing of money for 1010 emigration purposes; but, in addition to other disabling conditions, it required the sum so borrowed to be repaid within five years, and limited the amount to a sum not exceeding the average of a half year's rates collected in the parish or union. The amendment of the law in that respect was the second suggestion which he ventured to submit for the consideration of the House and of Her Majesty's Government. But as a district which once relieved of its surplus labourers by the procedure he had been recommending would be liable to be again overburdened by the influx of indigent workmen from other districts, attracted by the improved state of the labour market, it was desirable to encourage simultaneous action wherever the number of labourers was in excess. And in that view, as well as on the grounds that all classes throughout the kingdom were interested in the solution of this momentous question of the condition of the working classes, he felt justified in advocating the policy of stimulating local efforts by subsidies from the general revenues of the country, proportioned to the amounts expended by the several localities. That was the third suggestion which he begged to submit; and as he knew of no question of equal importance or to the solution of which the highest intellects of the country might more worthily be devoted, neither was he aware of any object for the attainment of which the resources of this great country might more legitimately be drawn upon. He begged to express his gratitude for the patience with which the House had borne with him for so long a time, and would conclude by moving his Resolution.
§ MR. EASTWICK
said, that in rising to second the Motion of the hon. Member for Cambridge, he could not but express his regret that the duty had not devolved on some one more competent than himself to deal with so difficult and important a question. In this House, in the presence of those who had devoted great abilities and years of study to the solution of social problems, he would much rather, when such questions were discussed, be a listener and a learner than a speaker. However, the subject had been so well introduced in the able speech of the hon. Member who preceded him that it was unnecessary for him to say much, and he trusted the 1011 House would bear with the few observations he had to make. He thought that, whatever might be the issue of this debate, the discussion would have its uses. In the first place, he hoped that, by the statements which he expected to hear from the representatives of the great towns, and from those of the rural districts, a tolerably correct idea would be arrived at of the general requirements of the country with respect to emigration. In the next place, the Government would, he supposed, give some indication of its intentions with regard to this question, and even if they should be adverse to the Resolution, it was far better it should be known, as nothing increased discontent more than uncertainty and suspense. He thought it was not only desirable for the reasons he had mentioned that this subject should be thoroughly discussed, but that the discussion of it was imperatively necessary for reasons still more grave. The House—and, beyond the walls of the House, the whole nation—had just been hearing, with the utmost interest and attention, the eloquent exposition of the plans of Government with reference to the land tenures of Ireland and the great subject of education. There was no one who did not feel the importance of those subjects; but, in his judgment, they were of less urgency, as regarded the people of England, than this was. The settlement of the Irish land tenures would affect the people of England only indirectly, and though the improvements indicated in the Education Bill were of great value, the benefits they implied could be realized only after a long process. But even while he was speaking, it was a fact that hundreds of persons in this vast metropolis, and in the great towns throughout the country, were dying of a disease which, the doctors called by various names, but which, in truth, was slow starvation, protracted by the doling out of an insufficient charity. Thousands of others were daily becoming demoralized by the want of employment, and by the operation of a law which blazoned abroad the necessities of those it relieved. He maintained, therefore, that this question was one of the utmost urgency. He said, too, that its magnitude was not to be measured by the number of persons who left these shores under the present system of emigration, unaided as it was by Government. He knew that some per- 1012 sons were inclined to reason about it in that way, and to think that because the general amount of emigration from this kingdom had subsided more than one-third since the time of the Irish Exodus, therefore there was no distress. But he would remind those persons that, while there had been a lull in the emigration movement in the ten years from 1858 to 1868, as compared with the preceding decade, there were now portentous symptoms of a corresponding rise. The number of English emigrants rose last year from 58,268, in 1868, to 90,416, the greatest number ever known, except in 1854. If any credence, then, was to be given to the emigration barometer, this was a clear proof of almost unparalleled distress. But, whatever the number, it was manifestly insufficient, for it left us with more than 1,000,000 of persons burdening the rates, and with at least another 1,000,000 who kept themselves above the necessity of asking relief only by the most desperate struggles. The provident societies had exhausted their resources in striving to keep the unemployed out of the workhouse. It was well known that the ironworkers alone had paid away £300,000 in the last three years with this object. Besides this frightful burden, we were left with an ever-increasing pressure of population, which augmented at the rate of 250,000 a year. There was every reason, too, to believe that the severity of this pressure would be intensified in a ratio out of proportion to the annual numerical increase of population. He said this because, as had been clearly proved, while our agricultural population was diminishing, that of our towns was rapidly increasing, and an urban population was especially exposed to the calamities which were occasioned by the competition and vicissitudes of trade. It was also a fact that by the substitution of pasture land for arable the productive powers of the country were fast decreasing. However, even if the question were looked at simply with regard to the number and the destination of our emigrants under the present system, he said that it was one which demanded instant consideration. Now, what was the actual number of those who emigrated under the present system? Notwithstanding the Returns of the Emigration Commissioners, it was by no means easy to reply with precision to that question. Those Re- 1013 turns were most valuable, especially since 1854, when the nationality of emigrants was first indicated. Until then, there was so much uncertainty about the figures that no argument founded on them was very safe. But we now knew that the Returns were swelled by a multitude of foreigners—Norwegians, Danes, and Germans, who, for convenience and economy, passed through England on their way to America. The number of such emigrants amounted last year to no fewer than 65,782. But, after deducting these, further corrections must be made for the emigrants who came back to this country. The number of these last year was 35,918; but; as we did not know how many foreigners there were among them, or how long they stopped, the proper deduction could not be made. On the other hand, emigration to the Continent of Europe was not noticed in these Returns, and it was probable that large additions should be made on that account. Thus there were eighty-six emigrants who went from this country to Hamburg last year, and on to Venezuela, who were not reckoned in the Returns. Nor did the Returns notice the number of soldiers, sailors, and their families who passed and re-passed between England and the Colonies. The yearly fluctuations in the number of those persons were very considerable, and ought certainly to be recorded. For general purposes, however, and for the purpose of his argument, it would, perhaps, suffice to take the Return given by the Emigration Commissioners. The average number of emigrants, according to them, for the ten years from 1858 to 1868, had been 170,000; and, deducting foreigners, 150,000. Of these, about 50,000 were Irish, who nearly all went to the United States, being assisted out by the remittances of friends in that country. It would seem at once impolitic and impracticable to disturb this arrangement; but it was within our power to determine the destination of the remaining 100,000. As an emigrant to our Colonies contributed more to our trade returns than one to the United States—in the case of Australia ten times as much—the destination of this stream of 100,000 emigrants could not surely be a matter of indifference. But the political aspect of the question was still more important. To build up our Colonies was to construct fortresses for ourselves 1014 in all parts of the world; but to build up other nations was to assist in the aggrandizement of those who would be certainly rivals, and possibly enemies. Even under this view, then, the question of emigration was important; but its importance was immeasurably increased if we supposed that, by the aid of Government, with the co-operation of the Colonial Governments, the number of emigrants might, exclusive of Irish, be raised to that which it was, inclusive of Irish, from 1851 to 1854. In that case, the pressure from the increase of population would be at once removed, and the pressure of the rates would be alleviated. We might even gradually disburden ourselves of the superabundant population whom the re-action in commercial matters, when it came, would still leave unemployed. Now, what were the objections to the Government lending its aid in this matter? The first objection with which he should be met, he supposed, was that the Colonies could not absorb a larger number of emigrants than that which had already readied them. He should be told, perhaps, that though the immigration into Canada from all quarters had been about 60,000 for the last few years, and 72,000 last year, not more than 10,000 emigrants, and last year 12,000, had remained there. It was said that the cup being full the rest overflowed into the United States. He admitted the facts, but not the inference. The truth was that thousands of emigrants went to the western provinces of the United States, by way of Quebec and Toronto, because that route was 500 miles shorter, and also more convenient, than the route by New York and Hamilton. These persons never had any intention of remaining in the Dominion, and it was unfair to represent them as overflowing. But what did the Government of Canada itself say in this matter of emigration? It said, in the first place, that the following railways were in the course of construction within its territories:—Intercolonial—under an Imperial guarantee—500 miles; Canada Central, 50 miles; Midland Extension, 80 miles; Toronto and Nipissing, 90 miles; Toronto, Grey, and Bruce, 100 miles; Wellington, Grey, and Bruce, 80 miles—total, 900 miles. For these railways 40,000 labourers were this year required, who would be paid at the rate of 4s. 2d. a man per diem. Obviously, 1015 with such works under construction artizans would also be required. But for the immigration of families, and for the immigration of farm settlers, Canada opened a far wider field. The statement of its Commissioner was, that it could receive 100,000 families, or 500,000 persons, reckoning five persons to a family. In the free grant territory, north of Lake Ontario, there were forty-six townships, with 60,000 acres of land each. That grant alone could absorb 27,600 families, or 138,000 persons, allotting 100 acres to each family. There were besides, in other parts of the Dominion, vast tracts of land which could be had for a nominal payment. But he might be asked—"If this be so, how is it that so few emigrants have gone to Canada?" How did he reconcile those statements with the experience of former years? The answer was that the Government of that country was only just beginning to exert itself in earnest, and to afford real facilities to immigrants. It was but last year that a labour register was established. The Land Commissioner sent out interrogatories to more than 400 municipalities, and had already received 180 replies as to the amount and description of labour required by them. Canada was, now, prepared to convey emigrants from the port of landing to their free grants, and would receive from them payments in liquidation of advances. In short, a new era was commenced in Canada with respect to emigration. Were the Imperial Government to show the slightest interest in the matter, no doubt similar results would follow in Australia and the other Colonies. Australia, under a democratic Government, had for some years past closed her labour market against competition. But Australia had never been opposed to the immigration of farm settlers, and possessed unlimited capacities for their reception. Besides all these Colonies, there was India, where an experiment might well be tried. There were seven hill districts, where medical authorities alleged that Europeans could be located. The Government possessed the evidence given before the Committee of 1858, and knew that the objections there mentioned, as to want of communication, had been removed, but the Government remained passive. The objection, therefore, as to the want of absorbing power in the Colonies, was not a valid one. But it was 1016 said that it would be inexpedient to stimulate emigration, because our best workmen would leave us. He could imagine no objection more futile than that. The experience of every day refuted it. All experience proved that emigration was not a matter of choice, but necessity. Englishmen loved their country too well to wish to change it. It was necessity alone that drove them to settle abroad. Would that that necessity did not exist, and that the discovery of some new productive forces, or of some new modes of employment, would render it possible for the population of this country to go on increasing, with an increasing means of subsistence! If the Government could make such a discovery there was an end of the emigration question; but, until the discovery was made, discussion like the present must go on. But, with reference to emigration not being a matter of choice, he had heard a curious proof of the tenacity with which Englishmen clung to their native country. There was great distress some years ago at Bradford, and an urgent application was made to the Emigration Commissioners to remove 5,000 of the population. The Commissioners then received large remittances from the sale of Crown lands in the Colonies. They were able to meet the demand, and it was so urgent that they went down to meet it. They were astonished to find that out of the 5,000, not fifty were willing to go. But an everyday refutation of this objection was to be seen in the competition for appointments in India. The value of those appointments was well known; but the élite of the middle classes would not compete for them. He asked, then, if the élite of these classes could not be induced to go abroad by the certainty of a distinguished career and a large fortune, what reason was there to think that the élite of the classes below them would go forth to seek a precarious living in the Colonies when they were sure of a comfortable maintenance at home? There was a third objection, which in a time of such distress he was reluctant to mention. It had been said that "the labour fund was our national capital, and we must not part with any of it." The answer to that might be given in the words of John Stuart Mill—"Emigration is the safety-valve of the labour market." It might be added 1017 that it was better to be guided by the teaching of philanthropy than of political economy, or, rather, that their teaching was identical. It was admitted that the willing labour of a free man was far more valuable than that of a serf or a slave, and, pari ratione, the hearty labour of a well-fed contented man was worth far more than that of half-starved and discontented competitors. It seemed, therefore, both practicable and expedient, in default of some better measure, to raise emigration to a point at which it would counterbalance the increase of population and gradually reduce our burdens. It was not for him to make suggestions to Her Majesty's Government; but he ventured to think that the first thing to be done was to establish a permanent emigration department. That was no new proposition, for it was made by Mr. J. O'Connell in the debate of the 23rd of June, 1855. Mr. O'Connell wished to join such a department to the Board of Trade; but he himself thought it would be much better placed with the Poor Law Board, under a Minister of Labour. It might be formed of the Emigration Commissioners, with such a staff as they had when the Colonies paid the expense, and with an Assistant Secretary of State at the head of it. If a room was given in the office to the colonial agents, who were now scattered in different places, and if quarterly descriptive returns of persons desirous of emigrating were sent up from all the parishes in England, the information of the department would be complete, and its organization perfect. The nest thing would, of course, be to provide the department with funds. In that, too, there was nothing new. The Emigration Commissioners once received £1,000,000 a year from the sale of Crown lands, and sent out by those funds 40,000 emigrants annually. It was for the Government to decide how those funds were to be replaced. It seemed to him that, at all events, the principle of Government aid had been conceded in the Irish Land Bill. If money was to be advanced to Irish tenants to purchase Irish estates on the security of those estates, why should it not be advanced to English settlers to purchase colonial lands, on the security of those lands? The Canadian Government recovered large sums every year on such security, and would, no doubt, under- 1018 take to recover advances made by the Imperial Government. It was a system which had been found successful at the Cape and in Australia, under proper arrangements; why not in Canada? One essential condition of success, of course, was that such advances should be restricted to families, and it was family emigration alone that could benefit this country. Before he concluded, he wished to remind the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister of some generous words he uttered in the debate of the 29th of May, 1840. He said—He thought that so long as we retained the Colonies as receptacles for our surplus population we remained under strict obligation to provide for those who left our shores at least what semblance we could of British institutions, and a home as nearly as might be like that which emigrants had left, and to which they continued to retain a fond attachment.It was now in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to provide such a home, and he hoped he might see his way to be guided by his own declaration. But, if not, let him remember the words of another Leader of his own party, spoken on April the 6th, 1843, in bringing forward a Resolution much like the present. Those words were—The public look to colonization as affording a means of relief for our national difficulties; and it is a duty most binding on Her Majesty's Government, who alone can be the instrument of thoroughly sifting such matter, to prove whether that hope is sound or unsound; and either without delay to expose its want of truth, and clear it out from the public mind, as a delusion that can only do harm, or, seeing it to be sound, to take care that it shall be realized.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in order to arrest the increase of Pauperism, and to relieve the distressed condition of the working classes, it is expedient that measures be adopted for facilitating the Emigration of poor families to British Colonies."—(Mr. R. Torrens.)
§ MR. MONSELL
said, with the statement of his hon. Friend (Mr. R. Torrens), that there was at present great distress existing throughout the country, he quite agreed; but he could not agree with the hon. Gentleman opposite that the distress was at present unparalleled—[Mr. EASTWICK: I said almost unparalleled],—for he found that in 1863 a larger number of persons were receiving Poor Law relief than at present; and it was a remarkable fact that during nine years of the last twenty years the proportion between pauperism and population was 1019 greater than it was at the present moment. Still the distress was no doubt great, and must excite the warmest sympathy. The effects of the calamities of 1866 were still felt, especially in the metropolis. Neither could he in any way find fault with the statement made by his hon. Friend as to the importance of our Colonies and the importance of increasing the number of our colonists. It was one of our proudest boasts that we had girdled the earth with so many communities of our own race, and it must be our desire that these communities should increase in power, in population, and in prosperity. Having said so much, however, upon points as to which he agreed with his hon. Friend, he must now take exception to some of his statements. This was the first time for twenty-two years that this question had been raised in this House. The question occupied the mind of the country and of the House for many years anterior to the year 1847. It was taken up by the ablest men in the country. It had since remained dead, and disappeared from the minds of the Legislature. And why did it die? How was it that the question then passed from the minds of the nation? Because then it was seen what effect would be produced by leaving emigration to natural causes. Because a greater number of emigrants went forth from this country by voluntary efforts than the fondest advocates of State aid to emigration thought could be done through those means. His hon. Friend had not quite appreciated the difficulty of his position in a resuscitation of a dead project, because he had not met the difficulty which must have occurred to the mind of everybody in carrying out a system of State emigration. What did he, with his colonial experience, say as to the feeling of the colonists on this subject? He described the sort of persons whom he meant to send away. Did he, an old Australian colonist, believe for an instant that these persons would be willingly received in the Australian Colonies, and that, if we attempted to send them, we should not find another question like the convict question rise up to disturb the relations between this country and Australia? On this point he was able to furnish the House with reliable evidence, having received from a gentleman of great intelligence and ability, Mr. Verdon, an agent for the 1020 Colony of Victoria, an account of an interview between his right hon. Friend he President of the Poor Law Board and the representatives of the Australian Colonies within the last few days. In this account it was stated that—All the agents present expressed a very strong opinion against pauper emigration of any sort, and under any circumstances; and I pointed out"—said Mr. Verdon—"that this was not merely an arbitrary objection, but was founded upon reason and experience; and although in many cases resort to parish relief might be a hard necessity, as a rule the condition of a pauper and unfitness for colonial life would be found very near together.From other trustworthy sources, he (Mr. Monsell) heard that the feeling of the Australian Colonies was unanimous on this subject. "We will take none," they said, "but the very best emigrants." But whom did his hon. Friend propose to send out? Not the most skilled labourers; not men at present employed; but those who had lost their employment, and, therefore, were not the best workmen. The Australian Colonies said—"We do not want your assistance. We are ready to pay for any emigrants we want." Nor was this a vain boast. It was a good financial operation for the Australian Colonies to bring out the best possible emigrants. He had in his hand a Return showing the Customs' revenue of the Colony of Queensland, and the average of that revenue per head of the population during seven years, and the Customs' receipts varied from £2 3s. 9d. to £2 8s.; the average for the seven years being £2 6s. 4d. per head. Therefore, for every £15 spent in bringing out an emigrant the colonial revenue profited to the extent of £2 6s. a year—a financial result which was so satisfactory that whenever the Colony wanted emigrants it would certainly get them for itself, and therefore get the best it could procure. So far, then, as the Australian Colonies were concerned, there was no reason to interfere with them. Our Colonies had the full disposal of their own lands. It had been stated that this power had been given to them without the knowledge of that House; but that was a mistake, for Canada and the Australian Legislatures had received this power through an Act of the Imperial Parliament, which at the time excited considerable attention. The latter Colonies, being ready to pay for emigration, had a right to choose whatever emigrants they desired, and unless we wanted to 1021 quarrel with them, and to sever the bonds of sympathy which united them with the mother country, we could not compel them to receive an inferior class of emigrants, or to use what would probably be their form of expression, to have our pauperism shovelled out upon them. Their appointment of colonial agents in this country was due to an unfounded fear that our Emigration Commissioners, who had done their work so admirably would select emigrants having regard rather to the persons we desired to get rid of than to the persons they desired to have. But the fact was that at present the Australian Legislatures showed no great desire to get emigrants at all. In South Australia, for example, one-third of the proceeds of the land revenue had been set apart for purposes of immigration, and £500,000 should be at present in the public treasury for that purpose; but a Bill had passed the House of Assembly three times, the object of which was to appropriate this money permanently to other purposes. In New South Wales a Bill was introduced last year for the purpose of promoting immigration, but it did not even reach a second reading. In Queensland the inducements offered by the State to emigrants were being diminished instead of being increased, while in Victoria—though he believed that there something more was now to be done for emigration—the only persons received were female servants and those who obtained passages by means of their friends in the Colony. In Canada, such was the fear of pauper emigration, that last Session special power was given to the Governor to prevent the reception of pauper emigrants, and heavy fines were imposed on all those who attempted to bring them. The influx of emigrants from Canada into the United States—of emigrants who went there from this country must also be remembered. A very large proportion of the emigrants who left this country for Canada during the years 1866, 1867, and 1868 went on to the United States, after merely remaining in Canada for a short time, and he had been told by Lord Monck that during one year, when he was Governor General, 24,500 emigrants went from this country to Canada, almost all of whom went on to the United States. But with regard to emigration to Canada—for it was to that country they must look if any attempt were made to carry 1022 out the proposal which had been offered to the House—he must call the attention of his hon. Friend to the circumstances which happened in 1847 and 1848, and tested the comparative merits of free and of State-aided emigration. The circumstances under which the experiment of those years was tried were remarkable, and Lord Grey, who was then the Colonial Minister, expressed himself strongly in favour of endeavouring to discover some scheme by which aided emigration might be carried out, and he wrote to Lord Elgin to say that if he should be able to arrange a plan neither the Ministry nor Parliament would be slow to sanction the outlay necessary for the furtherance of such an object. The Government of Lord Russell was willing to adopt a proposal similar to that which had been made to the House by his hon. Friend. What was the result? What Sir Robert Peel expected to do by means of State-aided emigration was to send 35,000 persons per annum to the Colonies, and that they, by keeping up their relations with their families at home, should form a nucleus to which other persons would be attracted. What was effected by emigration free and unsupported by the State? Between 1847 and 1854, 2,077,317 emigrants went to North America at a cost of more than £8,000,000, of which sum not a shilling was contributed by the public treasury. It came all out of private resources. That gigantic work was done by the State leaving emigration alone. Did his hon. Friend imagine that sum would have been subscribed by persons who knew that they could get the State to aid them? Did his hon. Friend conceive that the poor Irish who went over to America and half starved themselves, or at all events denied themselves many comforts, for the purpose of saving money to pay for the emigration of their friends, would have contributed anything had they known that by dragging at the public coffers they would be able to procure the money? It was perfectly obvious that a choice between the two plans must be made. There could not be both State-aided and private emigration. Persons would never contribute money if they knew they could get it from the State, and therefore the House must face the fact that by adopting such a scheme as the one which had been proposed they would put an end to a source for promoting emigration far more prolific than any which could be 1023 substituted. They would make an artificial rill, that would arrest the flow of the mighty stream which had been swelling for many years, unaided by anything but private benevolence and private exertion. His hon. Friend had proposed to raise some of the money by rates. There existed in Ireland an admirable and complete system of allowing Boards of Guardians to borrow money for emigration purposes. Yet, notwithstanding the gigantic emigration which has been going on, only £125,000 had thus been raised, by means of which 26,000 persons had been sent out, although in the same period nearly 3,000,000 had emigrated by the ordinary means. What effect was his hon. I Friend's proposal likely to produce on the people of this country? If the Government offered to find money or work for all who were unemployed or in distress, it would be a great curse, because it would hold out the highest possible premium to indolence, and would lead multitudes of people to qualify themselves by that means for participating in emigration. For these reasons it was impossible that the Government could agree to the proposition which had been made. He had hitherto been speaking with reference to the Colonial Office, but he must add a word as an Irishman, for an enormous sum of money had been spent by Irishmen. About £15,000,000 had been wrung from the pockets of the poor in paying for that emigration which had been carried out on so gigantic a scale. Would restitution be made to them? Would his hon. Friend propose to pay back the money which, if his principle were correct, the State ought to have paid? He protested against his hon. Friend's scheme; but if any such scheme were carried out, he as an Irishman, ventured to claim the share which Ireland ought to have in it. There were in that country many who were in sad distress, upon whom no ray of hope ever shone from the cradle to the grave, and he was sorry to believe that they exceeded in number those who were unemployed in London. They must, have their share in any grant which Parliament might make, if it was so unwise as to make one, and those who have already paid for their own passages, would have an equitable claim to be recouped the money they had already paid. He objected to his hon. Friend's pro- 1024 posal also because he believed that the effect would injuriously affect the minds and character of the people of this country. It would lead to disputes with the Colonies, with which all desired to maintain close and friendly relations. Above all, it would at once dry up those unexhaustible sources of free and voluntary emigation which had wrought such great things in Ireland, and would, if occasion required, work great things for England also—results which it was impossible to conceive could be attained by any system of State-supported emigration.
§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
said, that he felt it to be impossible to continue silent after the very unsatisfactory answer that had just been given by the Under Secretary for the Colonies. He believed that on both sides of the House general regret was felt that the Government had introduced no reference in the Speech from the Throne to the distress now prevailing among the working classes, because as the omission could not have been owing to want of knowledge on the subject, the unfortunate impression had been occasioned that it was attributable to want of sympathy. He did not think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman would tend to remove that impression. The right hon. Gentleman had talked about the desire on the part of some persons to shovel the paupers out of the country; but he (Lord George Hamilton) was aware of no such intention. Now, what were the objections to the proposal? The first was that emigration should be self-supporting. It was said that twenty-two years ago a scheme of State emigration was brought before the House which had never been revived since then. But why was it brought forward at the time? Because then there was an unparalleled amount of distress in the country, there was a famine in Ireland, and our trade was in a most depressed condition, though if we were implicitly to believe the doctrines of the Manchester School, the result of the Free Trade policy that had been adopted ought to be such that there would be two employers looking for one man. On a recent occasion, in reference to the Civil Service, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had declared that it was necessary for two men to fail in order that one should succeed; and the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies 1025 appeared in the same manner to hold that it was necessary for two men to starve in order that one man should obtain work. Now, the real gravity of this question was not improved in the circumstance—though that was appalling enough—that 1,000,000 persons in this kingdom were now receiving poor relief, and that the number was daily increasing; for it must never be forgotten that there was another 1,000,000 of persons just on the borders of pauperism—persons who could not obtain employment, who were drifting towards destitution, and who, sooner or later, must succumb, unless the Government stretched out its hand for their assistance. The working of the present system had been well described in a sentence by the late Under Secretary for the Colonies (Sir Charles Adderley) in his recent pamphlet, where, speaking of the persons receiving poor relief, he said—these persons, not having emigrated, have become paupers, and now having "become paupers they cannot emigrate." That was a state of things that called for Government interference. To argue the question upon the lowest consideration only, it was evident that the social order and peace of the country could not but be endangered by such a system. If they persisted in cooping up a vast mass of men who could find no means of subsistence, schemes would inevitably spring up among them such as—to say the least—no rich man could look upon with favour. He had observed, for example, that at a meeting of the unemployed which was held the previous night in London, there was a proposition to deal in a somewhat peculiar way with a noble Duke who had property in Scotland. Among the objections frequently advanced against those who supported emigration was this—that their would force the people to leave this country, instead of endeavouring so to develop our resources that employment might be found for them at home. But he would point out that, in so highly civilized and old established a community as ours, the process of developing our resources must be a slow one; whereas, on the other hand, there were millions of acres of unoccupied land in our Colonies waiting to be cultivated, and capable of richly repaying any labour that might be applied to them. It was said, again, that the emigration movement required no 1026 assistance from the State, but was capable of supporting itself in dimensions fully equal to the occasion; and, in support of that theory, it was alleged that during the last quarter of a century 5,000,000 persons had left our shores. It was forgotten, however, that the first stimulus to that great movement was given by the landlords of Ireland, who finding—during the famine and afterwards—that the country was swarming with a dense population, combined together, and did that which the Government were now asked to do. They caused the first flowing of the tide of emigration which had ever since sustained itself—it being a well-known fact that not less than £15,000,000 had been sent to Ireland by emigrants for the purpose of enabling their friends and relatives to follow them. That was one of the strongest reasons why the Government should do something of the same kind now. He thought, moreover, that State grants for this purpose should be given quite irrespectively of the Poor Law, and for this reason; he remembered last year that an hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Rathbone), in a very able speech, had declared that the result of his experience was that the local rates fell upon the poorer classes in an inverse ratio to their income; in other words, that the poor paid in proportion much more than the rich. They knew also that at the present moment so unequal was the pressure of local taxation—so heavy was its burden on the poor man—that it was the intention of the President of the Poor Law Board to introduce a Bill for the equalization of poor rates in the metropolis. If, therefore, emigration was to be supported by funds taken out of the local rates, the result would obviously be that under the present system the poorest parishes that were already staggering under the load of pauperism, would be called upon to contribute in an undue proportion to its relief. He hoped, therefore, that if State assistance was given, it would be from the Consolidated Fund, and not from the local rates. It had been said, again, that the proposal to apply the public resources to the aid of emigration was contrary to the first principles of political economy. Now, during his short experience of the House he had always found that when a Gentleman had no other objection to urge he always resorted to the first principles of political 1027 economy. But the same principles of political economy which would allow the Government to advance money to Irish tenants to enable them to purchase their landlords' property would justify them in advancing money to enable poor men to better their condition. Though he had a sincere sympathy with people in Ireland who were ill-treated by their landlords, he felt that the case now before the House was ten times stronger than that of those gentlemen who wished to translate themselves from occupiers to landowners. No doubt great practical difficulties would have to be encountered in dealing with the question of emigration; but the broad facts were these—Surplus capital in this country and surplus labour—in the Colonies, an unlimited number of acres; and the problem was how to avail ourselves of them. He did not propose to occupy a moment in discussing the details of the scheme; but he must say that he saw no reason why the emigrants, in combination, perhaps, with the Colonies, should not be able to offer, in return for State advances, security quite as good as any that the Government was likely to obtain from Irish tenants. For, if gentlemen recalled their past experience, they would probably come to the conclusion that there was scarcely that reverence for life and property in Ireland which would lead one to believe that tenants would pay the money advanced to them any more than in old times they paid the tithes, and hon. Gentlemen knew what difficulty there was in collecting the tithe rent-charge. It was not fair to assume if Government advanced to the emigrant money for which he gave a promissory note, and for which the Colonies might become partly responsible, he would refuse to pay directly he became prosperous. Whether the best or the worst labourers emigrated was, in his opinion, of very little importance, because once a vacuum was created in the labour market there would be a wholesome competition throughout the country, and if they gave the facilities for education which all hoped they were about do, there would soon be quite as good a class of labourers in the country as at present. The Government admitted the sole reason for interfering in the case of Ireland was that owing to the undue competition for land the tenant was not able to contract on fair term 1028 with his landlord. He did not think that any gentleman would wish that the vast mass of labourers should be kept in this country in order that manufacturers might be able to get labour cheap, and so make larger profits than would otherwise be possible. Another consideration that should be taken into account was this, that by aiding emigration ties would be created between the Colonies and this country which would strengthen our position. At the present moment the ties which bound our Colonies to us were drawn so tight that experienced judges told us that a little more tension would break them. Now, if we enabled a man to emigrate, this man, remembering that the State had assisted him in his hour of need, would depart with kindly feelings, which he would communicate to those with whom he might come into contact, and thus the Colonies would be bound to us by the strongest ties of all—love and affection. He had only risen because the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him to be so unsatisfactory. He would conclude by thanking the House for the indulgent hearing which they had accorded him, and expressing his opinion that any Government which could succeed in solving the social problem of procuring employment for those of our population who were in distress and unable to obtain work would be deserving of the best thanks of this country; because we should then have the satisfaction of knowing that out of the very materials which in England had caused at times so much anxiety and alarm we were developing ties which would tend to weld this Empire in a firmer and stronger union, and to open up the resources of those countries the future destiny of which he believed to be as great, if not greater, than our own.
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
, believing that emigration would provide the means of relieving much of the distress which existed in this country, as well as of obtaining other objects of national importance, had a difficulty in understanding many of the objections which were urged against affording State assistance. One especially—that State assistance in this direction would be founded upon, or, at all events, recognize, the communistic principle—he regarded as extraordinary and in the highest degree irrational in 1029 a country where the Poor Law was based upon the principle that the possession of property entailed the duty of contributing towards the support of those who were unable to obtain work. Those who believed that it was an adoption of the communistic principle to afford an assistance which would have the effect of to a great extent relieving the poor rates, appeared to think that they were utterly discarding the principle in paying a much larger sum to maintain those who could not obtain work, and frequently their families as well. Again, it was said that it was injurious to the interests of this country to send away the best of our workmen, and that the Colonies would not have our worst; but it was evident that the best only could emigrate under the voluntary principle, for they alone could find the necessary means, while under the present system the men who left our shores were, for the most part, young and unmarried. The Emigration Returns for 1865, 1866, and 1867 showed an excess of 42,000 men each year over the number of women who emigrated, so that now the tendency was to drain the country of its healthier and more vigorous blood and to leave behind those who could not work. Then, it was said that they could not send paupers to the Colonies. But, on the other hand, it must be remembered it was possible to relieve the labour market, although paupers were not sent, because it was obvious that if in a particular district there were 1,050 persons, and employment for no more than 1,000, and that, in consequence, fifty were on the parish, you could abolish pauperism by providing for the emigration of fifty of the workmen, and by thus furnishing employment for the fifty paupers. Besides, it was too often assumed that there existed no class between paupers and excellent workmen, whereas no opinion could be more unfounded. When, too, it was urged that emigration, after all, could only be a temporary remedy for over-population, those who employed that argument could scarcely have looked into the extent of the unoccupied lands in America and our Colonies—lands which could accommodate and afford support for the surplus population of all Europe for the nest fifty, possibly for 100, years to come. The idea that State assistance would lead to the utter cessation of voluntary emigration was en- 1030 tirely fallacious, for it would be easy enough to apportion this assistance to the necessities of the people, and to extend it only to cases where the means of emigrating could not otherwise be obtained. If, too, it was our duty to assist the Colonies in their defence, we could not do it better than by furthering emigration, for by this means we could render them more service than by sending them soldiers. It had been calculated that, in European countries, for every 100,000 of population 1,000 were under arms; and, if that were the case, the power of self-defence would be of vast incidental advantage connected with increased emigration. He thought, moreover, that the advantages of increasing our markets had hardly been sufficiently considered. It had long been the custom of the Government to establish most expensive military stations in China, in Japan, and wherever else there was an opportunity of doing so, for the purpose, as it was said, of opening up those countries to our manufactures, and providing outlets for the productive industry. If by giving a certain amount of assistance to emigration we could cause a portion of that emigration which went to the United States to flow into our own Colonies we should be doing much to stimulate an increased consumption of our goods of home manufacture. The Under Secretary for the Colonies, in replying to the speeches which had been made, began by saying that the distress now prevailing was not altogether unparalleled, that things had been as bad before. But surely that was a very weak argument; for if distress existed it was our duty to endeavour to diminish it; and then the maxim that, because this subject had occupied the attention of Parliament before, it was therefore unworthy of attention now, was not less extraordinary. Last year a Bill was carried for disestablishing the Irish Church, notwithstanding that the question had been raised thirty years before under the Government of Earl Grey, and that in the meantime the question had been allowed to slumber. The right hon. Gentleman's argument, that State assistance would put a stop to emigration at the cost of individuals themselves, had been satisfactorily disposed of by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton). And as to the supposed danger of demoralizing the 1031 country, and encouraging the idle, by giving assistance to emigration, he was at a loss to conceive how it could be said that it was offering a premium to idleness to remove a man from a country where the law provided for his relief to a country where he must work or starve. The Motion, he feared, had not many supporters on that (the Ministerial) side of the House but he begged, nevertheless, to express his approval of it.
§ MR. MACFIE
, while thanking the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. R. Torrens) for introducing this subject to the notice of the House, than which none, perhaps, was of greater importance, could not support the Motion. Had his proposition been for a Select Committee to inquire into the subject he would have supported it heartily, and he thought that Her Majesty's Government would have done the same. The reason assigned for the Motion was entirely of a selfish nature, connected with the interests of their own country; but the higher ground on which to proceed would be the welfare of the Colonies. Every stout-grown man sent out to the Colonies was, if it were legitimate to measure by a money standard, a gift equivalent in money value to £500. This was a gain which the Colonies obtaining it might well pay for. He trusted that the time was coming when Her Majesty's Government would take up the question of the unification and consolidation of the British Empire; and if that scheme could be carried out it would then be the earnest desire of all to spare some of the best men at home that they might increase the population of the Colonies and the power of a Britannic Empire.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, that if that Motion were pressed to a division he should give his support to the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. R. Torrens). He did not wish, however, to be pledged to the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had placed upon that Motion. He did not think that its intention was to demand from the Government a system of complete aid to emigration. What was asked was, that, in the first place, Government should take the matter into their consideration, and next, that if they found that it was in their power to do so they should assist the emigration by giving to it the direction which, they most 1032 wished to encourage. Those were the grounds upon which he intended to give his support to the Motion. At the same time he thought that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. R. Torrens) deserved the thanks of this House, of the country, and even of Her Majesty's Government, for having brought that subject forward. It certainly was to be regretted that, a second Session of the Reformed Parliament having now been devoted to measures affecting the welfare of the sister country, Her Majesty's Government had not seen their way to recognize the great, and, he feared, not diminishing distress which prevailed, and in a marked manner, throughout the metropolitan area. He was not about to make a party speech, and he should make the same appeal to his own political Friends if they were in power; but he could not conceal from himself that the distress now exisiting had been aggravated, if it had not to a great extent been caused, by the measures of the Government. It was unfortunate, to say the least, that at a time of great commercial depression Her Majesty's Government had felt themselves constrained, on the one hand, to dismiss so many men, and, on the other, to take no notice of the extent of the distress. In foreign countries, in times of distress, it was the custom to create public works for the relief of distressed artizans. That was not our policy in this country; we thought it undesirable to create employment in that manner. But surely it was questionable policy, to say the least, in time of general and sore distress, actually to decrease the amount of Government employment? It was most unfortunate that Government establishments were forced to be closed at such a time, and he feared it would be found that many of the reductions had been made somewhat hastily. In the borough represented by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government (Greenwich)—the representation of which he, as one of the Members for the County, might claim to share—there was an amount of distress existing which must go to the heart of every feeling man. He had received a letter from the Rector of Woolwich, from which the House, perhaps, would allow him to read two short extracts. He had asked the rector to be kind enough to tell him what was the feeling in the parish on the subject of emigra- 1033 tion, and the reply he received was in these words—I have no difficulty in assuring you that the distress arising from want of employment is great in Woolwich and Plumstead. There are hundreds of men—artizans and labourers—who are at this moment in a sad state of poverty, many of them having been without any permanent employment since March, 1869, and in some instances for a longer period than that. I know many poor fellows who have been wandering about in unsuccessful search of work half over the country, leaving their wives and families in the meantime in great want, of course. As to the desire of numbers of these men and their families to emigrate to the Colonies, I need only to refer to a public meeting held at our Town Hall on the 7th of February, to consider and afford information on the subject of emigration. The subject was one of so much interest that the meeting was so crowded by working men that numbers were unable to obtain admission. I was obliged to tell them, much to their disappointment, that the British and Colonial Emigration Fund could only assist those to emigrate to Canada who could help themselves to the extent of £3 per statute adult. But it was arranged that the names of all those who were desirous of emigrating should be taken down, in the hope that some means might be found during the summer of obtaining a passage for them. Since the meeting there have been but two days—two Tuesdays—on which names have been received; but already we have on the list 566 statute adults, but of this number there are only sixteen men, making with their wives and families forty-nine statute adults, who can pay £3 per head. The rest, though most anxious to emigrate, have been so long out of work that they are utterly unable to help themselves at all, and of those few who have promised to find the money required I believe that nearly all have been able to obtain half from relatives and friends better off than themselves.He had troubled the House with this extract, because he thought this was a matter for grave consideration by Government; and he hoped they would hear from, the Treasury Bench, ere the debate closed, a somewhat more satisfactory reply than they had heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies. He had asked a Question of the President of the Poor Law Board, on a previous occasion, as to the great distress prevailing in the metropolis; and he was answered somewhat warmly—though he would not complain of that—because he knew the right hon. Gentleman's attention was constantly directed to the subject; but he asked the Question partly for this reason—that he thought it desirable it should not go forth to the country that the attention of the governing class was not directed to the distress which existed. This was not a 1034 question of party; but they might depend upon it that it would be of very grave consequence to the country if it should ever be thought that those to whom the Government was entrusted had no sympathy with the sufferings of the lower portion of the population. He did not say that this was the feeling of the Gentlemen who sat on the Treasury Bench; he knew far other feelings animated their breasts. But he could not forget that the present Government came into Office pledged to that system of economy and retrenchment in the carrying out of which they had unfortunately been somewhat too hasty. He knew that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was imperious in his demands, and that the First Lord of the Admiralty and the Secretary of State for War could hardly venture in their Estimates to go beyond a certain limit—trembling, no doubt, under the lash of their right hon. Colleague. But, however this might be, he hoped before the discussion closed they would receive a declaration from the head of the Government which would be satisfactory to the country. He could not help thinking that the Under Secretary had been somewhat illogical in his objections to the present Motion. He said those proposed, as emigrants would not be received by the Colonies, because they were paupers or nearly so, and then he exhorted them not to send out of the country the élite of the working classes. Then, again, the right hon. Gentleman said—"Don't let us be called on to adopt State measures of emigration, but rather let us call forth voluntary effort." He hoped that would be remembered when they came to discuss the education measure of the Vice President of the Council. For his own part he supported that measure because he believed it would assist voluntary effort. But they were not asking for a Government emigration scheme; nobody supposed that the Government should provide the whole cost of a system of emigration; they were only asked to aid voluntary efforts, and they certainly ought to inquire into the great and alarming distress which prevailed in a great portion of the community.
§ MR. MELLY
, having been returned to that House without opposition by 21,000 electors, almost entirely of the working class, wished to say a few words on a question which touched them 1035 deeply. In reply to the noble Lord (Lord George Hamilton) and the hon. Member for West Kent (Mr. Talbot), he was not one of those who missed from the Royal Speech those expressions of vague and unmeaning sympathy which seemed to be made so much of on the other side. He rather thought that a Ministry pledged to education which would remove ignorance, to a revision of the licensing system which would remove intemperance, and to legislation in connection with trades unions which would possibly lead to free emigration and to free labour, had shown in the most salutary manner their sympathy with distress and their determination to meet it in the most legitimate and efficacious manner. What was it that the Government were really asked to do? No reply had been given to that question but one of the most vague character. One Member's speech pointed to the emigration of 10,000 families of agricultural labourers at £40 per family, paid by local rates, in which case the next parish would fill the vacuum. Another Member spoke of a pauper emigration, organized and paid for by the Government out of the Consolidated Fund; a third hon. Member suggested the emigration of skilled workmen now unemployed. But the distress in the East-end of London was really the motive power of this agitation. He repudiated the charge that those who sat on that side of the House were insensible to the misery and degradation which existed in the East-end of London; but he contended that the cause of that misery was not any retrenchments on the part of the Government, but the reckless overtrading of the mercantile classes and the improvidence of the working classes. Bubble companies, heralded by prospectuses bearing the names of noble Lords and trusted City men, set on foot works which were not wanted, and could not pay. The crash of '65–66 came, and tens of thousands of workmen whom they, the mercantile middle class, had tempted by high wages to come there, were thrown out of employment. London became the receptacle of the pauperism rather than the storehouse of the wealth of the country. But during those years of plenty—it was a hard saying, and he spoke the truth in all sympathy and affection—the improvidence of the workman was as conspicuous as the 1036 overtrading of the employer. The average sum consumed in drink by every man, woman, and child was stated at £3 8s. per annum. A saving of only a part of this during the seven years of prosperity would to-day have paid the passages of thousands across the Atlantic. He thought the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies unanswerable. The principle of free emigration was this—that men, who by intelligence, sobriety, industry, and perseverance had saved a large portion of the necessary funds to enable them to cross the Atlantic, had already made themselves colonists whom the Colonies wished to receive. Such men knew where they were going; they were in communication with friends on the other side who were ready to receive them; but if the Government stepped in and, by loans or land, induced emigrants to take a line different from that they had prescribed to themselves, Government became responsible for their success. It was not all plain sailing; there were still "Gardens of Eden" in the far West; many "Martin Chuzzlewits," who failed, though on the present principle of natural selection many more "Mark Tapleys" who succeeded. They were asked not only to assist a new class, but to direct the present 100,000 free emigrants. It was actually proposed that the Government should direct the emigration of these 100,000 persons, by inducing them to emigrate to our Colonies instead of to the United States. Was Her Majesty's Government prepared to take the responsibility of such a step? They must remember that the Government would be responsible for the success of those men. It was said that the Colonies would be glad to receive these 100,000 persons; but would the Government undertake the responsibility of sending them out? If they did so, they ought to send out with them the President of the Poor Law Board and a staff of officials to look after them. The propositions of hon. Gentlemen were veiled in language so vague that no one could see to what they pointed, except to unsettle the emigration societies and the minds of all persons on the other side of the world who were assisting emigration. An hon. Member truly said that emigration was the safety-valve of labour; but the principle of the safety-valve was self-action. These proposals 1037 recklessly to interfere with great economic problems which were solving themselves were a cruel kindness. Such discussions would tend to the unsettlement of the minds of many thousands who were endeavouring, by a life of prudence and industry, to save the means for free emigration—of many hundreds who were daily remitting money to relatives and friends on this side. Now, if they were to tell the working classes what they believed to be in a large measure the cause of their distress, it was their duty to tell them, though with all sympathy, that if they had a perfect system of free labour in this country, they would not want State aid to enable them to leave it. It was the duty of the Government to bring forward measures of education, to remove temptations as far as possible from the path of the working man, and to abolish everything that impeded the free flow of labour from one part of the country to another. But when he heard that large employers of labour were forced to suspend their building operations in consequence of trade disputes—when he learned that private shipbuilders were transferring their establishments to other parts of the world, while working men were prevented from accepting a reduction of wages on account of their trade rules—then he must say that he would much rather see those laws altered than Canada peopled with men who, after all, would not make the best ploughmen or tillers of the soil. When he found the miners of Staffordshire, who had gone with their wives and families into Yorkshire, to Thorncliffe, to sell their labour, which was their only capital, at their own price, and when he found—he cared not what was the original cause of the dispute—the houses of these men sacked, and their wives and children turned naked into the streets, he thought this was the question to which Government ought rather to turn their serious attention. He would be inclined to move an Amendment to the Resolution to the effect that it was rather the duty of Her Majesty's Government to press forward measures for reducing taxation, for freeing trade from restrictions, and for allowing the free migration of labour from one part of the country to another, than to spend the money of the taxpayers in sending men to Colonies that did not want them, and where they were least likely to succeed.
§ MR. T. CHAMBERS
said, he thought that if the head of the Government would read the Resolution of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. R. Torrens) he would see that the arguments of the Under Secretary for the Colonies constituted no answer to it whatever. It was quite true that the prevailing distress was not unparalleled, but that circumstance only proved that the disease was chronic. He agreed with much that had been said by the hon. Member who had just sat down as to the causes of the present state of things, but he did not see that it was at all pertinent to the question. The sad mismanagement of mercantile affairs in 1866, and the miserable doings of trades unions, which were destructive of the interests of the working-men, must be lamented. But the difficulty of their present position was, that they were called to contend with a chronic and a growing evil; and their business was to find a remedy for it. Was it possible for anybody to object to the first part of the Resolution now before the House, which declared—The expediency of emigration as a means of relieving the distressed condition of the working classes, and staying the increase of pauperism?The second part of the Motion consisted of a Resolution to the effect that—In order to arrest the increase of Pauperism, and to relieve the distressed condition of the working classes, it is expedient that measures be adopted for facilitating the Emigration of poor families to British Colonies.The right hon. Gentleman himself did not deny that emigration would be a good means of relieving the distress. Did the Resolution propose that emigration should be pursued in such a way as to pauperize and demoralize the country? That was the evil which the Under Secretary for the Colonies set himself to resist, but there was no such thing suggested or involved in the Resolution. It was only intended that the Government should afford facilities for the emigration of poor families; and for the last fifty years the Government had been in the habit of affording facilities for the adoption of measures of various kinds touching the social condition of the people, which were then better carried out than they were before the facilities were offered. If he had any fault to find with the Resolution, it was that the terms were rather vague; but it would not be possible, or even becoming that an indepen- 1039 dent Member should prescribe a definite scheme to the Government. He did not agree with the hon. Member for Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot) that the Government were to blame for the reductions they had carried out in the dockyards; but yet it was an additional reason why they should give their attention to this question, and endeavour to devise a safe and steady flow of emigration in a way that would, not demoralize, but would improve the people. In the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies there was not one suggestion of a remedy, and the right hon. Gentleman could only say that the evil was not without a parallel. He (Mr. T. Chambers) thought this was a question that ought not to be postponed. The greater the weight and muscle of a man was the more dangerous he was to society, if he could not find employment. A man had a right to be discontented, nay he was bound to be discontented if he could not get work. He did not say that he had a right to be disaffected or disloyal; but they who being unable to obtain the means of livelihood for their wives and children, could yet sit down content under those circumstances were very ill-conditioned individuals. But most men would be discontented in a situation of that kind, and, therefore, they should be removed from a spot where they constituted a peril to a place where they could be a strength, an honour, and an advantage to themselves and others. He hoped that before this debate closed some other Member of the Government would rise and afford the House and the country some ray of hope—some word of cheer and guidance on this great question.
§ MR. MUNTZ
said, his objection to the Resolution was, that it would lead, to false hopes that could never be realized. Every one who had spoken in favour of emigration seemed to suppose that when the emigrant was landed on the shores of Canada or Australia, all would be bliss and happiness, and that his path was clear for the future. There could not be a greater mistake. He would appeal to any Gentleman who knew anything of emigration, whether it was not the fact that thousands died of fever and want in the United States or in Canada. Some hon. Gentlemen talked of young persons emigrating. To his mind the saddest sight of all was to see 1040 women and young children emigrating to the snows of Canada or the back settlements of the United States where they perished in thousands. The Government would incur such immense responsibility by adopting any measure to accelerate emigration that he viewed with alarm the adoption of the Motion. What was to be done? Was it understood that the Government were to provide for the wants of these people, or was it merely to land them at Melbourne, Sydney, or Quebec? If the emigrants were landed without any other provision being made, great suffering must be the inevitable result. If the Government were to send out paupers the colonists would not have them. If they were not paupers then five-sixths of them would leave the British dominions altogether, and go over to the United States. Already they found that every mill and factory in the United States was filled with skilled labourers from this country, and even in Australia they had set up factories, where the Colony was supplied with goods, instead of buying from us, and even levied duties of 10 per cent on all the goods we sent them. The emigration of our skilled workmen to the United States would even be attended with worse results, because they would gradually become American citizens instead of British subjects, and in this way they would be lost to this country for ever. For these reasons he objected to the Resolution, which, he feared, would hold out expectations that could not be realized, and would deter those who could afford to emigrate from doing so at their own expense, in the hope that they would receive Government aid.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, that the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies would lead them to infer that they were left without the teaching of experience in the matter of emigration, and therefore he would remind the House of the good results which had followed from it at the time of the famine in Ireland, and also in the case of the Highlanders who, in consequence of the evictions in the North of Scotland, had emigrated to Australia. The Government granted them the use of a ship of war, which took out not only single men from Scotland, but whole families, including grandfathers and grandmothers. They were well received by the colonial authorities and by the colonists themselves, 1041 and the results were most gratifying. It was only the other day that he had met a gentleman lately returned from Australia, who spoke of the comfort and happiness of those people, many of whom, he said, were proprietors of some of the largest farms in the Colony. He thought that facts like these were far better than all the theories that could be advanced on the subject, and he therefore gave his hearty support to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman.
§ SIR JAMES LAWRENCE
said, he had of late been a good deal interested in this question, and he wished to say a word or two upon it. He intended to support the Resolution, because after closely examining it he could not see that it committed the Government to any definite course upon the subject. In the present unparalleled distress of the country—and he used these terms advisedly, for he did not believe there had been so large a portion of the deserving poor in distress for the last twenty-two years as there was now—he agreed with the Resolution that emigration would be a means of relieving that distress, and he was sure no one would say that the relief of that distress was not the duty of that House. The poor rate had increased from £7,700,000 in 1860 to £11,054,000 last year, and that in the face of a constant increase in our manufactures, and notwithstanding an increase of trade such as had never been seen in any eight years of England's history. If they regarded that immense increase in the poor rate as having taken place during a time of expansion of trade, it behoved them to consider seriously what were the causes which had produced that state of affairs, and whether it was not in the power of Government and Parliament to prevent the causes and remove the evil which they all so much deplored. He agreed with the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) that no greater curse ever happened to this country than the results which had flowed from the adoption of the principle of limited liability; bubble companies were formed for every imaginable purpose, trade became inflated, and simultaneously the tide of emigration was checked. The last Report of the Emigration Commissioners showed that emigration had rapidly diminished from 1863 down to 1868; and we now saw some of the results of that rapid diminu- 1042 tion. There were collected in our towns large numbers of people, for whom employment could not be found, and, worse than that, the value of labour of the lowest class was deteriorated to such an extent that men who could earn 12s. or 14s. a week a few years since could earn now only 7s. a week. The result was that those connected with the administration of the Poor Law were compelled to allow these poor people out-door relief, which was therefore given in aid of wages, and this undoubtedly intensified the evil. It had been properly said by the Under Secretary for the Colonies that, as a general rule, emigration should flow as freely as the river to the sea; but it must be remembered that if by artificial methods a stream was prevented following its natural course disastrous results would ensue. Much of the evil that London and other parts of the country were now suffering from arose from the unnatural inflation of trade, and from extravagance and waste which always brought in their train a large number of people who were employed but seldom, and who lived as it were upon the fragments that fell from the superfluities of the wealthy and the luxurious. Hence in the large towns there had grown Tip a great body of persons who had no regular occupation, who were but little, if anything, above the class of unskilled labourers; and it was that class which it was sought to remove, and which would be of benefit to the Colonies. He agreed that in encouraging emigration the greatest care ought to be taken that even those who were assisted to go out by private benevolence should be those only who were able to earn a livelihood in the Colonies. Reference had been made to what emigrants encountered when they reached the Colonies. Now, last year, the British and Colonial Emigration Society with which he was connected sent out some 4,000 emigrants. The society had a list of those persons, giving the townships in which they settled and the employments in which, they were engaged, and out of the whole 4,000 there were not 100 who did not almost immediately find remunerative occupation. He was surprised at one remark made by the Under Secretary for the Colonies, who, from his acquaintance with Ireland, must have known that the emigration from that country was not at the outset 1043 spontaneous or natural, but was largely supported from funds borrowed on the security of the poor rates. From a Return which he had himself moved for, it would be found that a very great portion of the money at first spent on Irish emigration was supplied by the landlords from sums borrowed for the purpose. All must be aware that at present there were vast numbers of people in deep distress, whom no extent of trade or increase of commerce would materially affect, and whose state ought to be taken into serious consideration. This class had been growing up for the last seven or eight years. Some seemed to think that this country had attained its high industrial position by means of cheap labour. Only the other day one of our large manufacturers complained that the English workman could not live so cheaply as the Swiss workman, and expressed a hope that when the taxes were removed from certain articles of consumption the English workman would be able to live in the same manner as the lowest paid workman in Switzerland, in order that he might compote successfully with his Continental rivals. Now, the whole of our history was opposed to that view. When manufactures sprang up in this country, it was our dear labour combined with our superior skill and enter-prize that enabled us to compete, and to compote successfully, with the low-priced labour of Germany and the Continent. And so it would be again. But instead of looking to excellence of workmanship, of late years many of our manufacturers had aimed principally at cheapness, and the consequence was that foreigners who could make thing cheaper, but not so good, could beat them out of the market. The quality of British goods had thus been deteriorated, and that had told against our manufacturers. Again, with reference to that very question of emigration, he recently heard a man who was in the habit of employing a large amount, not of skilled labour, but of unskilled labour of a superior kind—that was, men of the strongest muscle who could lift large weights—lamenting that he could not get such men for half-a-crown per day; and when told that there were many men willing to work for even less than that sum, he said they would not suit him, the class he wanted for half-a-crown being really men whose 1044 proper wages were from 3s. to 3s. 6d. per day. And that employer was opposed to emigration, because by gathering our unemployed labour, as it were, into a reservoir, the price of labour at home would be reduced. The manufacturing interests of this country could be maintained in the great struggle to which they were exposed only by the education, and especially the technical education, of our workpeople, and thus England would be enabled, to compete successfully, as she had heretofore done, not with the lowest, but with the highest class of labour in other countries. While he did not give an unqualified support to the Resolution, he rejoiced at its introduction, because the discussion which it evoked would have a good effect upon the great mass of the unemployed, who would see that the representatives of the people entertained the greatest sympathy for them in their distress, and were prepared, as far as they were able, and without contravening great principles, to lend their aid to measures calculated to remove the unparalleled distress which prevailed at present.
§ MR. A. PEEL
said, he did not rise to enter upon any of the larger questions of political economy involved in that discussion, but merely to touch on some points connected with the administration of the Poor Law that bore on the subject before them. At the same time, he would remark that, according to some of the more recent speakers, they were asked to interpret the Resolution before the House as binding the Government to nothing more than facilitating emigration; but, from the speeches of the Mover and Seconder, he understood that something more was involved in the Motion. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down described this as a period of unparalleled distress, and alluded especially to the pressure of the poor rates as furnishing an argument for Government interference. But there had been periods when the pressure was greater than it was now. In the year 1848–9 the ratio of pauperism to population was 6 per cent. In 1861, the ratio had diminished to 4 per cent, and therefore he thought the argument as regards the pressure of rates was unsupportable. The Mover of the Resolution laid great stress on the distress of the agricultural districts, and said that the competition in those districts tended 1045 to reduce the price of labour. That was hardly to be reconciled with the statements of the Seconder, whose argument went to show that there had been a great migration of agricultural labour into the towns. If that were so, surely it would beneficially affect the scale of wages for those agricultural labourers who remained in their dist rifts. It was true that agricultural distress prevailed, but the test of that distress was the rate of wages; and he would quote to the House the rate of wages at two periods which he thought presented a not unfair comparison. The rate of wages he took was the ordinary weekly earnings of the agricultural labourer, excluding all extraordinary sources of income, such as harvest wages and the like. The first case he would take was that of Faversham, in Kent, where the rate of wages at the Michaelmas quarter of the year 1860 was 8s. 8d.; whereas in the corresponding quarter of 1869 they were 15s. He was taking sample districts for his comparison of agricultural labourers' wages at the same two periods; and he found in the Eastling district, also in Kent, at the Michaelmas quarter of 1860 the rate of wages was 9s., and in 1869 it was 14s. In Ticehurst, Sussex, the rate was 12s. at the former period and 13s. 6d. at the latter, and in Westhampnett, Sussex, the increase was from 12s. to 13s.; in Wantage, Berks, from 10s. to 13s.; in Woburn, Beds, from 10s. 6d. to 11s.; in Billericay, Essex, from 11s. to 15s.; in Devizes, Wilts, from 9s. to 11s. 6d.; in Axbridge, Somerset, from 9s. 9d. to 11s.; in Ledbury, Hereford, from 9s. to 10s. 6d.; in Atcham, Salop, from 10s. to 11s.; in Stourbridge, Worcester, from 11s. to 13s. 4d.; in Market Bosworth, Leicester, from 12s. 6d. to 14s. He could give the figures for many other parishes; but he did not like to trouble the House with long quotations. He thought, however, those figures proved, if statistics proved anything, and if his selection was a fair representation of the state of things throughout the country generally, that the rate of wages had increased. It was true that during the same period the price of beef had increased largely; but he imagined that beef did not enter very largely into the consumption of an agricultural labourer. He could understand that, in the year 1847, when there were 2,000,000 of a starving Irish population on one side of the Atlantic, and 1046 6,000,000 of acres in one district alone requiring strong arms to till them on the other, a strong appeal could be made in favour of State assistance to emigration. But was there in this country at the present moment such distress as had not existed here before, and as called for the interference of the Government to promote an extensive scheme of emigration? The amount of the distress was really the pivot on which the question turned. He would not enter into the larger question of political economy; but he might refer to what had been done on a limited scale under the Poor Law Board in the way of giving assistance to persons to emigrate. From 1834 to 1868, a sum of £147,000 had been spent by the parishes of this country, including those of the metropolis, in assisting persons to emigrate, the number so assisted being 25,000. He did not say that the restrictions imposed by law had not operated to prevent a greater outlay by parishes for that object. Strong pressure had been brought to bear on the Poor Law Board and the Government to induce them to withdraw some of these restrictions; but it was desirable the House should know this fact—A large number of gentlemen connected with the Colonies, colonial agents in the confidence of their respective Governments, had met his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board, and suggested that some modification should be made for the purpose of withdrawing the obstructions which stood in the way of the emigration of poor people. He, himself, was present at the interview, and those gentlemen having been consulted as to their views with respect to the emigration of the poor, they one and all expressed their determination to have nothing to do with pauper emigration. The assistance that the Poor Law Guardians were empowered to give was not confined to the case of paupers. It could be given to poor persons who, through the vicissitudes of the seasons, or a temporary want of work, or any other such cause, would be reduced to a state of pauperism, but the colonial gentlemen said they had no confidence in the action of the Poor Law Guardians in respect of emigration; they disapproved the choice which in many instances the Guardians had made, because, as they said, the persons who had been 1047 chosen were not persons able to battle with the difficulties of colonial life. The hon. Gentleman the Mover of the Resolution now before the House (Mr. R. Torrens), not only asked the Government to give some general aid to emigration, but to bind themselves to a specific plan. ["No!"] He understood the hon. Gentleman to lay down that £1,000,000 should be given from the rates and £1,000,000 from the Consolidated Fund. Was not that a specific plan? It was a mistake to suppose that when emigrants went to the Colonies they found themselves in an El Dorado; but that was the prospect which in many instances had been held out to agricultural labourers. He had seen statements with reference to emigrants to the most favoured parts of the most favoured Colonies which did not justify the hope that, without the most careful selection, they would be able to discharge their duties properly or encounter the trials which they would have to undergo in their new homes. The British and Colonial Society and many other societies had sent out thousands and thousands to America, and he had been told that many of them complained of the hardships to which they had been subjected. He had asked a gentleman capable of giving him information on the subject whether colonial life was so hard as those persons represented it to be, and he was told it was not, but that many of the emigrants were shiftless, purposeless, aimless persons, whose lives in this country had been such as to give no promise of their success across the Atlantic. They were persons who objected to the amount of trial for which all emigrants should be prepared, and who wished to return and lead a life of idleness in England. He considered the view of the colonists a perfectly just one. They said—"We want, if we can get them, the flower of your population, the pick of your agricultural labourers, the first choice of your mechanics; but we do not want, and we cannot take, and we will not have, the refuse of your population." His hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth (Sir James Lawrence), who had alluded to what was done in Ireland was mistaken in respect of the extent to which emigration from that country had been assisted out of the poor rate; for with all their borrowing powers the Irish Guardians, during the last twenty 1048 years, had spent only £120,000 on emigration, and the number of persons they had assisted in that way was only 26,000. No argument in favour of State emigration could be drawn from Ireland, nor did it appear that the existing distress would warrant any extraordinary remedy, or justify that process of State intervention which was demanded by the Motion before the House. Any such action on the part of the Government would be contrary to the spirit and independence of this country, and would be productive of injurious consequences, which no one would more regret than the Mover and Seconder of the Resolution.
§ MR. T. BRASSEY
said, he rose for the purpose of offering a few observations to the House in support of some remarks which fell from the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly), with reference to the cause which had produced the lamentable distress to which attention had been called that night. The value of the remedies proposed for the relief of that poverty could be best tested by studying the principal causes which had produced it. He had given his attention to this subject for a long time past, and the conclusion at which he had arrived tended to establish in his mind the belief that the wild speculation in connection with joint-stock companies, which had prevailed a few years ago, must be admitted to be the principal cause of the present distress. A Return had been placed in the hands of hon. Members a few days ago with reference to the joint-stock companies wound up or in process of being wound up, which showed them to be 480 in number, while the loss under the head of paid-up capital and unliquidated liabilities amounted to £97,800,000. Calculating the interest upon this vast sum at only 4 per cent, the annual loss to the country, and consequently to the working population, was something enormous, and was such as no Government or private aid could hope to remedy. He would illustrate the great misery which had been brought upon the working classes by these reckless speculations by making some reference in detail to the shipbuilding on the Thames. From information which had been supplied to him by a person who for many years past had been engaged in the Thames shipbuilding trade, he was enabled to say that in the year 1860 the number of men employed in 1049 that work amounted to 11,830. Under the influence of speculation and investments in joint-stock companies, that number was increased to 20,880 in 1864. When, however, the folly of attempting to carry on a business of that description in a locality not adapted for the purpose was discovered, the collapse which ensued reduced those figures to 3,190 in 1870. It was impossible to exaggerate the misery which a collapse of that kind must entail upon the working classes; and therefore he must be forgiven for observing that it would be well for those in the possession of means to remember that in the selection of investments and in the employment of their capital a great responsibility was incurred towards the working classes, because had it not been for the investment of large sums of money in speculative undertakings a few years ago we should not have had to deplore the distress that now prevailed throughout large parts of the country. But while we were in the right to dwell upon the culpability of those speculations we must not shut our eyes to the fact that a considerable degree of blame attached to the working classes themselves for the extravagance in which they too often indulged, and he referred more particularly to the enormous sum which statistics unhappily informed us was expended annually upon intoxicating liquors. It was stated by Mr. Levi in his Essay on the Earnings of the Working Classes that the sum annually expended upon intoxicating liquors in the United Kingdom amounted to £89,000,000, out of which enormous total no less than £58,000,000 was calculated to be expended by the working classes. The result, unfortunately, of these extravagant habits was that when commercial movements occurred the working classes were unable to follow them, and found themselves thrown back upon the poor rates. At the time that the Mill-wall Iron Works were in full operation they weekly expended £10,000 for labour, and had the large body of men who received that sum exercised due forethought they might easily have transferred their labour when shipbuilding declined upon the Thames to other ports and rivers which had taken the place of the Thames as regarded the shipbuilding of the country. It must not be supposed that when shipbuilding declined upon the Thames the amount of ship- 1050 building in the country at large decreased. In a Return which had been presented to the House it was stated that whereas the 28,000 tons of shipping built in London in 1866 had fallen in 1868 to 6,600, entailing, of course, a great reduction in the employment of labour and great suffering upon the working classes, the shipbuilding trade in the Mersey and Clyde had considerably increased in that period. In discussing the general policy of relieving distress by State-aided emigration we should not lose sight of this consideration. Already there was a great tendency among the poor to assemble in London—the destitution of the country seemed to gravitate towards the metropolis—and if the inducements to congregate in the metropolis were increased, very lamentable results would ensue. In his opinion, it would be best to leave the matter to the self-reliance of the people. The institutions founded by the working classes had turned out very successful, and by their own exertions they had sent out a fair proportion of recruits to our Colonies and to America. It had been truly said that it was useless to send to the Colonies inferior labourers. What they required were skilled and vigorous workmen. Mr. M'Cullagh had said that if they adopted the unstatesmanlike policy of rendering assistance to poverty upon too easy terms, poverty would not be greatly dreaded by those likely to become its victims. Neither must we forget that in despatching a large number of working men to our Colonies we were incurring great responsibility with respect to their future means of employment; because nothing fluctuated so much as the demand for labour in the Colonies, and in the event of the present demand for labour coming to an end those we sent out would suffer from destitution. Under these circumstances—while deploring from his heart the wide-spread poverty and distress that now existed throughout the country—he felt that we must look rather to private effort than to the public purse for the relief of the unemployed poor.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
advocated the adoption by our Colonies of the plan followed with so much success in the United States, under which, when a railway was made, the labourers and others employed upon it were put into possession of farms along its course, a space ten miles square 1051 being allotted alternately to the Government and to the company. The question had been argued by the hon. Member who spoke last as one involving that of a limited liability company, and by the hon. Member the representative of the Poor Law Board (Mr. A. Peel) as though it was a question of Poor Law providing employment for paupers; but, for his own part, he could not help looking at it as being an Imperial question. He knew that our Colonies wished to have men from England, and that here there were many people of all classes who desired to emigrate. The only question was, ought we to facilitate this emigration? and he had no hesitation in saying that we ought. The hon. Baronet (Sir James Lawrence) had stated that an emigration society with which he was connected had sent out 4,000 persons, who had all been subsequently visited, and that of them only 100 had not improved their condition. This fact showed that emigration was advantageous to the poor, and that supervision could be carried out. Although he could not agree with the words of the Motion, and was not disposed to pin his faith to any of the plans which had been proposed, he yet thought it was the duty of the Government to adopt some plans to facilitate emigration, for the reason, among others, that generously and judiciously carried out and superintended, it would tend to bind the mother country and the Colonies more closely and harmoniously together.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that no one who had addressed the House had attempted to deny the existence of great distress in the country. That was palpable to every one; and the fact of the prevalence of this distress made it incumbent upon the House to see whether measures could not be adopted, if not to remove, at least to mitigate it. The hon. Member for Warwick (Mr. A. Peel) had adverted to the distress that prevailed in 1847 and 1848. He (Mr. Newdegate) well remembered that period. It was a period of commercial depression, arising from the money pressure of 1847, which originated in the exports of bullion in payment for corn, imported in unusual quantities on account of the potato famine in Ireland, and a short harvest. But the hon. Gentleman, in making the comparison which he did, altogether overlooked the fact that this 1052 distress was increased by the scarcity of gold, the mines of California not having then been discovered. The effect of that extraordinary circumstance, the unprecedented increase in the supply of gold, that gift to mankind of a vast addition to the medium of commerce and of payment, and its wonderful effects, were usually overlooked by the modern school of political economists. Allusion had also been made to the distress occasioned in 1860 by what he might call the blowing up of the limited liability system. Now he, for one, felt that his hands were clean with respect to that matter, for he had strongly opposed the Bill which established the system, because he believed it would do what, in reality, it had done—weaken and destroy the sense of individual responsibility, which it was very desirable that all directors of such companies, and of commerce, should be made to feel. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) that emigration was not an unmitigated good. It was an instrument that should be used with the greatest caution. It was certainly dangerous to the trade of this country that many of its best workmen should be employed in America. No doubt the hon. Member for Birmingham felt this danger, for he (Mr. Newdegate) shared the representation of that great town with the hon. Member, and they both knew that axes, and other edged tools, were being sent from America into Birmingham. And some of these were of the workmanship of skilled hands—of English labour, which had not only crossed the Atlantic, but came back in the form of imports, and actually superseded our own manufactures. They were continually being told that protection was adverse to the interests of commerce; but if this really were the case, he would like to ask how it happened that the product of protected industry, coming from the United States, competed advantageously with our unprotected articles? Every commercial man ought to know—the brother of the hon. Member, when he represented Birmingham, certainly did know—that where there was a large protected home trade, the surplus or additional products of that trade could be sent forth from the country more cheaply than where the home trade was not protected. France had a silk trade, protected partly by a 1053 natural monopoly, and partly by duties, and she was enabled to send forth her surplus silk, in the form of ribbons, to an extent which had superseded about throe-fourths of the trade of Coventry. These were perfectly notorious facts, and they clearly demonstrated that the matter was, at least, worthy of consideration. He (Mr. Newdegate) had accidentally been prevented hearing the Under Secretary for the Colonies, but understood that the right hon. Gentleman had met the Mover of the Amendment by saying that his plan was a bad one, and that, therefore, the Government could do nothing. That certainly was a very lame and impotent conclusion. Government professed their entire helplessness in the matter. They could, it would seem, negotiate treaties with Austria and France, but were not able to negotiate with the Colonies for the reception of our surplus population, or on other matters connected with trade. Such a condition of things was very unsatisfactory, for no one could carry out these negotiations if the Government would not, or could not, assume the responsibility. He himself had had some experience of emigration. When great distress prevailed in the district, of which Coventry was the centre, he was chairman of a relief committee, which had at its disposal a sum as large as £47,000. A considerable portion of that money was spent in assisting emigration, and success crowned the experiment, although persons, previously employed as ribbon weavers, were certainly not especially adapted or prepared for colonization. He rejoiced that, at last, many hon. Gentlemen on both sides were saying to the Government—"It is your duty to make some attempt in this matter under due precautions." Difficulties were undoubtedly to be encountered, but these should be faced. Government ought to make a selection of persons, qualified to a certain degree for the life of a colonist, and propose arrangements with the Colonies for securing to emigrants a proper reception on their landing. Were no action taken, he feared that the colonists would continue to raise their import duties upon the exports of the mother country. The hon. Member for Birmingham had already stated, that these colonial duties had already, in some cases, reached 10 per cent; if nothing was done, it might not be long before they rose to 20 per 1054 cent. The question before the House was eminently worthy of consideration, and had received the attention of the most eminent men, not partisans, but literary men and others, who believe that they already foresee the separation of her Colonies from the metropolitan State. Something should be done, and; he felt persuaded that if some good plan was carried out the relationship between the Colonies and the mother country would be greatly strengthened.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
observed, that the extreme vagueness of the Motion before the House had been exemplified by the fact that it had been supported by men of three different sets of opinions. Some hon. Gentlemen were of opinion that emigration should be aided out of the rates; others thought it should be supported out of the Consolidated Fund; while a third party merely expressed themselves in favour of emigration being facilitated by the State, without specifying any mode by which that object was to be attained. For his own part, he thought it would be very undesirable for the House to come to a vote on the present Resolution, and he trusted that an Amendment would be proposed, because Members could not vote on the Resolution without being in some degree bound by the speeches by which it had been supported. This Resolution, he might remind the House, was but part of an agitation which had been carried on for some time past in the metropolis and other great towns. At the public meetings which had been held the resolutions were sometimes, and the speeches in support of them were always, avowedly in favour of some system of State aid to emigration. The scheme generally advocated was that emigration should be promoted out of monies to be lent by the Consolidated Fund on the security of the colonial lands. In his opinion, the House should take the present opportunity of discussing the details of such a plan; because the real objection to the Resolution of the hon. Member for Cambridge was that any plan which might be proposed in order to give it practical effect would inevitably prove unworkable. In the first place, if the money were to be lent, there must be some notion that it would some time or other be repaid. One case, indeed, had been mentioned where money lent for the purpose of aiding 1055 emigration was actually paid back again; but that, he believed, was almost a solitary instance, and an exception to the general rule. The kind of emigration contemplated by the hon. Member's Resolution was to be assisted on the ground that it would be a sort of common gain for all. He ventured to think, however, that no large portion of the money which might be borrowed would ever be repaid. It was a new principle that the State should lend money without a guarantee I for its repayment; and what, he should like to know, would be the value of a guarantee on the security of the colonial lands, which at present were the property of the Colonies themselves, and were dealt with by the Colonial Legislatures? He did not mean to say that the original transfer of the lands to the Colonies was a wise act; but, at all events, it had been done, and we must deal with the existing state of affairs. Was it intended, then, to take those lands arbitrarily from the colonists and give them to the emigrants? Why, if such a proposal were made, the Colonies would rise in arms against us, and we should have not merely declarations of independence directed against us, but declarations of war. If it were intended to give the emigrants lands as well as their passages free, buying the lands from the Colonies, the figures which had been quoted in the course of the debate were wholly fallacious. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward the subject was in favour of raising a large portion of the sum required by means of rates; but that would give a pauper stigma to the whole scheme. Then, again, the question would arise as to whether the taxes should be levied specially in certain localities or generally over the whole country. If the emigrants were to be sent only from certain localities, how were those localities to be ascertained; and how, after being ascertained, were they to be isolated so as to prevent poor people flocking into them from all parts of the land? As he had already remarked, the Resolution now under consideration was so general and vague that he did not see how anyone could have voted against it had its moaning not been fully illustrated by the speeches of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. R. Torrens) and his Friends. It was said not to be an emigration of paupers, but if the proposed emigrants 1056 were to be persons who would become chargeable to their parishes if they were not sent away from the country, there would simply be an emigration of the next generation of paupers, instead of the present generation. The opinion of Mr. Verdon—and he believed of all the colonial agents in this country—was that the Colonies did not want that class of people who were so sunk in degradation that they could not raise themselves from it, and which class was that from which the class of paupers was recruited; and people in the Colonies felt the deep importance of founding their country's population with the best blood that could be obtained; and they would look upon themselves as criminals before the world if they deliberately introduced into those countries the class of people who supported the ranks of pauperism here. The Resolution said we ought to send out emigrants to the British Colonies in preference to other countries. Now, on this branch of the subject he would remark that this was either a colonial agitation or a distress agitation, and that the House ought to be distinctly informed which it was. If it was merely a distress agitation—as had been insisted in the speeches of several hon. Members—why should the Resolution bind the House to send the emigrants to the Colonies, and not to other countries where possibly they might more readily find employment? He thought that there was a mixing up of the two questions in the Resolution; and therefore he trusted that some Amendment would be placed before the House, so that they might vote upon a distinct proposition. The Resolution had been supported upon the ground that a large amount of our goods was taken by the Colonies, as if it was the cheapest thing in the world to send abroad emigrants in order that they might become our customers. The figures which had been laid before the House upon this part of the subject were, he believed, far from being correct. It was, no doubt, true—as had been asserted by the hon. Member for Penrhyn (Mr. Eastwick)—that Australia took ten times more goods from us per head of the population than the United States; but then it should be borne in mind that a young country or colony must necessarily take more from us than an older one which had got manufactures 1057 of its own. At a meeting of the Emigration League held recently at the Society of Arts, the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) stated that the whole object of the movement was the consolidation of the fabric of the Empire, and the House ought therefore to be careful to avoid the confusion which must result from mixing up a colonial with a distress agitation. The hon. Member for Cambridge, among others, had spoken at the meeting at the Society of Arts to which he had just referred, and had stated that the colonists of South Australia could not properly develop their mines because wages were as high as 6s. a day, and that it was necessary they should for that purpose be reduced to 4s. That argument he had used in support of the view that emigrants should be sent out to South Australia, while our population at home was to be taxed in order to secure that object. The hon. Gentleman appeared to him—to use a common expression—to have let the cat out of the bag in that instance, and to have shown that one of the main ends for which emigration was advocated was the promotion of the interests of the colonists. If, however, the hon. Gentleman were to stand for a South Australian constituency, he would, he thought, hesitate before he committed himself to a proposal for taxing the inhabitants of London with the view of reducing wages in the Colony from 6s. to 4s. The notion, he might add, prevailed in New Zealand, Victoria, and New South Wales in 1866 that Queensland was a perfect Garden of Eden, where there was land for all and labour for all. The result was that people flocked to it from all the other Colonies in enormous numbers, many persons going out even from England. The immigration ended in the formation of two large camps there, in which something like 5,000 immigrants, who had so suddenly descended upon the Colony, had to be maintained as paupers. He would further observe that nothing could, in his opinion, be more immoral than that we should, at a moment's notice, pour the scourings of our population on Colonies which had not the protection of a Poor Law. The large towns in Australia would undoubtedly protest against the immigration of our pauper poor; and great difficulty would, he felt convinced, be experienced, so far as those 1058 Colonies were concerned, in giving facilities for emigration of any kind by the aid of public money. Such aid would carry with it the stigma of pauperism, and the colonists would not be likely to let the emigrants in. Then to what Colony were they to go if not to Australia? Could we send them to Canada, when we knew that more people at the present time passed over the border into the United States than entered Canada from abroad? The secretary of one of the emigration bodies—Mr. Jenkins—proposed that emigrants should be subject to fine and imprisonment to make them pay back the money that had been advanced to them; but such an emigration, so far from consolidating the fabric of the Empire, would bring about this state of things—that every emigrant would owe a sum of money to this country, and would thus have a direct interest in breaking the connection between the mother country and the Colony, so as to escape payment of these debts. Was it, then, desirable, he would ask, that we should impose a tax upon all classes of the people, down to those who were in the receipt of the very smallest incomes, in order that we might send to the Colonies a number of persons whose places would be immediately supplied? One immediate result would no doubt be the increase of our marriage rate at home, so that the operation would be something like attempting to empty the sea with a sieve. He was far from agreeing with a gentleman who seemed to be one of the chief speakers at a late meeting of the Emigration League, who said that he believed it to be the duty of the State to find work for every man, or at least to take men where work could be found for them. He was, he might add, as little afraid of Socialism as any Member of that House; but he would take the liberty of warning those connected with the present movement that the scheme which they were advocating was one of a purely socialistic character, and ask them to remember that though Socialism would one day inevitably raise its head in this country, it was no part of their duty to bring about such a state of affairs. The gentlemen outside the walls of Parliament by whom the movement was directed had, he could not help thinking, singularly little knowledge of the hopes and the aspirations of the English work 1059 ing men, which might lead to agitations here at home far more dangerous, but, at the same time, far more reasonable, than those which the House was now engaged in discussing.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
expressed his regret that although the subject of emigration, admitted on all hands to be one of the greatest interest and importance, had formed the subject of debate for several hours, no Member of the Cabinet had as yet addressed the House. He presumed, however, that the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies and that of the Secretary to the Poor Law Board afforded a correct indication of the views entertained by the Government; and he could not refrain from saying that some of them had caused him no little surprise. He had marvelled at many statements which he had heard made in the House on various subjects and occasions; but he had never listened, he must say, with more astonishment than that with which he had heard the allegations and arguments from the Treasury Bench that evening. Acquainted as his right hon. Friend was known to be with all the circumstances connected with the condition of Ireland during the period of the famine, and that which succeeded it, he thought that he (Mr. Monsell) would have shrunk from characterizing as spontaneous the wholesale emigration which ensued upon the calamitous events of that time. The famine of 1847 had, in the memorable words of Earl Russell, been described as a dearth of the fourteenth befalling a population of the nineteenth century; and the industrial prostration and physical misery which followed in 1848 and 1849 could be compared to nothing recorded in history, save the dreadful plight of a city long smitten with the plague. No language could more utterly misrepresent the nature of the emigration which then occurred than that which the Under Secretary for the Colonies had used. The people lied from the land for their lives, and then the same means were had recourse to to arrest the tide of destitution as those upon which reliance was now placed. As to the present movement, he must observe he could not envy the tone of those who spoke of it as originating with men who were leading the working classes into error. For his own part, he had been driven into it. He had hoped 1060 against hope, but he could not conceal from himself the fact that there were within a very short distance of that House thousands of human beings who knew not where food and raiment for the next week were to be obtained, and who asked from the House that consideration which he regretted to say they did not appear to receive from some hon. Gentlemen behind him. He had heard, for instance, one hon. Gentleman, who represented the capitalist class, speak of the present distress as being in a great measure caused by spendthrift habits; while another talked of the transfer of labour to our Colonies as tending to produce competition and to affect the accumulation of capital. Were those the arguments which were to be addressed to famishing multitudes, and was it thus that class was to be set against class? It was a dangerous doctrine to go forth from this House that, because we were afraid of competition, we would not send our skilled hands away, so that the profits of English capitalists might continue. He denied that the great emigration from Ireland had been voluntary. We tried one nostrum after another, but all our measures failed, and the people were finally driven to forsake the land which denied them bread. Since then we had had another lesson in those ethics of laissez faire. The trade of Lancashire was suddenly stopped a few years ago, and the same fatuity seemed to attend the course of legislation. First a rate-in-aid was tried, then public works, then out-door relief; and it was only by the mercy of events that Lancashire was saved from the same disastrous necessity of flight which overtook the unfortunate people of Ireland. The lesson taught us by these two incidents was plain. As long as the people were tranquil and obedient, willing to be dealt with as paupers and to receive out-door relief, there was a chance, they were told, of tiding over the exigency. But now in London, Liverpool, and other large towns, the people refused to be treated in that way, and asked to be allowed to get them gone to a country in which they could earn their bread. He had heard with the greatest regret the allegations made by the Secretary of the Poor Law Board as to the statements made by the agents of the Colonies, when the latter were interrogated at Gwydyr House. The impres- 1061 sion created by what had fallen from the Treasury Bench must be that these gentlemen, when asked what their opinion was regarding the relief which the English people seemed to need, advised the Government that the Colonies would not receive paupers in name or in reality. Now, he was greatly misinformed if the answer of the agents was confined to this assertion. On the contrary, he believed there was the fullest disposition on the part of New South Wales, of Victoria, and of Canada, to receive a large annual reinforcement of labour from this country. He had received a letter from an old colonist and long-tried public servant there, Sir Daniel Cooper, who was for many years Speaker of the House of Assembly in New South Wales, who said—Labour is wanted in all the Australian Colonies, and most of all that of men who can turn their hands to any sort of work not requiring much manual skill. The jobbing carpenter, stonemason, or bricklayer, is sure to do well who can combine several occupations, and when he cannot obtain mechanical work will turn his hand to anything else. Great Britain can spare this kind of labour without injuring her power to compete with foreign nations. The manufactures connected with or dependent on agriculture have in a few years nearly doubled in New South Wales, and the years of the greatest prosperity to the Colony were those when there was the largest immigration, and I feel certain that it would be the case again if a flow of emigrants set in to Australia. The impetus that would be given to a good supply of labour would cause an immediate expansion of all the industries, and thereby cause a further demand, for labour—the employed quickly becoming employers of labour—many who would succeed themselves would send for their families and relations, and in that way would assist in relieving the labour market at home without any loss to the country. But there would be a great objection to the Poor Law Board or the parish authorities having anything to do with the selection of emigrants, as we have suffered much by the abuse of this system before. The authorities palmed off the worst of the workhouse inmates, both men and women, and they were a source of great trouble and expense to the Colonies. In cases of advances made to emigrants and promissory notes taken for repayment, it would be necessary to appoint a special agent to recover such loans, as no colonial Government would be found to undertake this unpleasant work; but if the present laws would not enable such loans to be recovered by a cheap process I have no doubt that Acts would be passed at once to provide such a remedy. If the people in England only knew what living was in Australia they would never be content to remain here, and even as it is I wonder that they do so.The resident emigration agent from New South Wales said that, if they were well-chosen emigrants, 10,000 might be absorbed into that Colony every year. 1062 He was tired of hearing it said that there was any wish to "shoot our rubbish" into the Colonies or send our paupers there. No such proposal had, to his knowledge, been made at any public meeting which had been held on the subject. These meetings were orderly, full of meaning, and worthy of respect, and what they advocated was not Socialism, or the setting up of class against class, but the provision by the Legislature of means whereby men who failed in getting work here might be sent to a country in which they could get work. All that was wanted was that men who could not get work in England should have free passage, or passages at a nominal price, provided for them to the Colonies, subject in every case to the veto of the recognized agent of the Colony, who should decide whether they were fit men to go. He could say with authority that nothing was said by those who represented Canada and New South Wales which justified the statement attributed to the colonial agents at Gwydyr House.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
He was shunted into a separate siding, and was handled by himself. The gentleman who had for some time represented Canada in this country had stated that 20,000 labourers and artificers, 5,000 skilled hands, and from 15,000 to 20,000 others, in all about 40,000, would easily find employment in Canada if they were sent there. The accredited agent from Ontario had informed him that within the last few weeks 400 municipalities had been asked for what amount of labour they could find employment. Toronto had sent an agent to England for the express purpose of stimulating that emigration to which the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Muntz) objected on the ground that the removal of skilled labour would have an effect on the wages market.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
said, the hon. Member for Birmingham had said they were going to send those who were unworthy to be sent, or that they were going to send those who were worthy to be sent. He called the worthy "skilled hands," and they the hon. Member did not wish to have sent away.
§ MR. MUNTZ
explained what he said was, that of the emigrants who went to Canada, five-sixths of them went over to the United States. The Canadian Government did not wish to receive a number of paupers, and if skilled labourers could be prevailed upon to leave this country and go over to Canada, they would very soon find their way to the United States, where they would be our competitors instead of our fellows.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
said, he understood the hon. Member to object to emigrants being subtracted from the working power. Mr. White would make a different statement, and would say that Canada was ready to receive not merely skilled but also unskilled labour. She would not receive paupers, and in that decision she was quite right, for this country had no right to throw a portion of its burdens upon the young communities which were growing up. If the Government could see its way to charge the emigrants with such a portion of the cost of their passage as they could reimburse, make such provision that they should not perish from cold or hunger, and give them five years for paying off the advance which was made to them, the emigrants would then be able to obtain the fee-simple of the land. He denied that Canada was a mere resting place for emigrants, and was in a position to confute that assertion, the fact being that what were called abandonments of homes were merely migrations of labour. This year there would be a great demand for rough labour in the Colony, and this country ought not to entertain any laissez-faire theory in considering whether it ought to help its unemployed labourers to emigrate. If the Government would, in Committee of Supply, propose that they should gratuitously send a number of people from this country to Canada he should have no hesitation in voting in favour of such a proposition. Until very recently there was hardly a Minister in this country that had not, in one way or another, encouraged and fostered emigration. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly), he believed, had told the House that unfit and idle men had gone out expecting to find a garden, and that now they were trying to get back to live in idleness at home. But was it so very delightful a thing to live under high taxation rather than low, and in a land which was choke full, rather than in 1064 one where men could get hundreds of acres if they wished? For his part, he did not believe that there were classes of men who looked back to the condition of things in the workhouses of England with regret. It was said, with some degree of sarcasm, that they were speculating in this matter. He thought the words of Mr. Burke were applicable in a case like this—In politics, as in everything else, it is very often necessary to believe in the future, or what is called speculate; but my advice to you is, when you speculate, let your speculations at least be splendid.It was quite true this speculation, if they so called it, might invite ridicule, but it would commend itself, nevertheless, to every intelligent mind, to every man who knew history, and who knew that every great empire was built up in this way. The Resolution had been framed with no view to any particular theory. The value of it was, that it would enable gentlemen to have their own preferences with respect to what might be done, provided they concurred in the principle that something national was necessary. The principle they contended for was that it was the duty of the Government to think for the whole Empire in such a matter.
Sir, I must call the attention of the House to the closing sentences of the speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. W. M. Torrens), in which he stated that the great merit of the Resolution which he invites the House to adopt is this, that it enables all Gentlemen who may support it to retain—and to cover under the use of the same general phraseology—their own particular opinions, whether in accordance or not, and at the same time to present to the country an appearance and a promise of doing something for the relief of distress. Now, Sir, I put it confidently to the House that that method of proceeding is not worthy of the House of Commons. I am bound ingenuously to say on my own behalf and on that of my Colleagues we can be no parties to that method of proceeding. We have a very grave question to dispose of to-night—very grave in regard to the distress which we all so much deplore, and very grave, also, with regard to the practical question it involves—namely, the proposal that we shall exhibit in the face of the country a promise to check pauperism, 1065 not merely to relieve the distress of the moment, but to check pauperism, to arrest its increase, and to relieve the distressed condition of the working classes by measures which are to be adopted for facilitating the emigration of poor families to the British Colonies—not for facilitating the emigration of poor families generally—not to send these poor families wherever they may themselves wish to go—not to send them to countries where they are likely most to thrive, or may think themselves most likely to thrive, but to the British Colonies. Well, it is admitted—and I am glad it is admitted—that this is an ambiguous Resolution. When a Government accedes to an ambiguous Resolution, who is to be the interpreter of that Resolution hereafter? Would we not, by accepting it, be laying the ground for every kind of misunderstanding and mutual recrimination? It is idle to say that this Resolution is vague, because it is not the business of a Member of Parliament to elaborate the details of a scheme. Certainly, it is not their duty to elaborate the details of a scheme. But we are not speaking of details at all; we are speaking of a basis of a scheme, of an idea of a scheme; and I challenge any man who has sat in this House during the present debate to say that the idea of a scheme has pervaded the speeches of the supporters of the Motion of my hon. Friend. I will not say so. Will my hon. Friend say that one idea, with regard especially to the principle and basis of these measures which the Government is to be ordered to take, has run through the speeches of those who have supported him? He knows it has not. One speaker has suggested local rates as the means by which the emigration should be promoted; another that it should be supported out of the Consolidated Fund; another by aid of voluntary societies; another that it should be carried out in conjunction with colonial Governments, and that inquiries should be made of colonial Governments whether they are themselves disposed to undertake a system of emigration, and to give the security and guarantee of their public faith for the grants that may be required to enable emigrants to go into their lands. But these four suggestions are four distinct and separate ideas. It will not, in my opinion, be agreeable either to the dignity of Par- 1066 liament or even to the terms which a Government is entitled to expect in receiving orders from this House, that—supposing my hon. Friend induces a majority to support, which I will not anticipate—the majority giving such orders should be composed of four sections, having four different meanings, none of them giving us any guide or clue or authority by which to choose between them, and yet casting upon us the responsibility of finding measures to facilitate emigration, and of bearing the bitter disappointment which would follow any unpopular measure. Now, we are about one of the gravest of all subjects, and that is a proposal lo support individuals at the expense of the community, individuals who are to be supported at the expense of the community, but not for duties done to the community. Even the principle of the Poor Law, if you scrutinize it closely, presents the gravest difficulties to the philosophic mind. But these difficulties are neutralized in practice by great and cardinal considerations. One of these considerations is that the funds are supplied from local levies in each neighbouring county, and the other is that, being so supplied, a sentiment of honour and a sentiment of shame operating powerfully on the public mind, create a revulsion against and a loathing of pauperism, and impose a salutary check on invasions which, if that revulsion did not exist, would make the most serious inroads, not only upon property but upon what is more valuable still, the self-respect, the morality, and the independence of the people. So much for the Poor Law; but what becomes of those restraints when it is proposed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) does—for I must own he does not disguise his plan—to enter into "a splendid speculation" of general emigration—20,000 a year, I think, in Australia, and I am not sure whether it was 20,000 or 40,000 in Canada? [Mr. W. M. TORRENS: 40,000 in Canada and 10,000 in Australia.] I thought that although in the first instance he named 10,000, there was another 10,000 in the rear. Now, it is quite plain if these things are to be done by the Government they must be done out of the Consolidated Fund, and I want to know if this great operation of pensioning and paying a part of the community at the expense of the rest is 1067 to be so done, what becomes of those safeguards and restraints whereby, and whereby alone, the evils of a Poor Law can be effectually checked? But my hon. Friend did not, I think, accurately represent the language, certainly not the meaning, of my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, when he charged him with having described the emigration from Ireland after the famine as a spontaneous emigration, and when, availing himself of the double meaning of the word, he ridiculed the idea of the emigration which took place under the pressure of that terrific want being spontaneous. I am not quite sure that my right hon. Friend used the word; at all events, my memory does not assure me of the fact: but if he did, his meaning was evidently not that it was an emigration undertaken as a matter of luxury or preference by the persons emigrating, but that it was an emigration that was self-supporting, and therein we have the solution of some very animated passages in the speech of my hon. Friend. And, as was shown by my right hon. Friend, self-supporting emigration is afar greater power than Government emigration. It is idle to speak of these "splendid speculations." You will never be able to carry them into effect, for the evils attending them would be so gross and monstrous, if ever you commenced them, that before a year had elapsed Parliament would begin to retrace its steps. But, in the meantime you would have paralyzed that system—a power almost incredible—by which in times of the greatest difficulty—aye, and at this moment, which is a time of difficulty—a large relief is afforded to the overstocked labour markets of this country. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that £15,000,000 were supplied from voluntary and private sources to the Irish people. Does anybody suppose it to be within the limits of possibility that such a sum could be drawn from the Exchequer of this country for purposes of emigration? But can you have both together? [Mr. W. M. TORRENS: Hear, hear!] My hon. Friend believes it. I entirely disbelieve it. I want to know who is there—I would almost say within this House; but certainly without it—who, when he finds he can have a particular thing done on his behalf by the public, will go and pay for it himself? I am delighted to find that my hon. 1068 Friend is able to cheer himself with such golden visions. But for practical purposes the principle upon which we must go is this—that before undertaking to provide from the public purse large supplies of money for special purposes, we must ask ourselves what the effect of that measure will be upon the funds now voluntarily provided from private sources to meet that want. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) in, as I think, the very moderate and candid speech which he made, admitted the evils of State emigration, but said—and it would be a serious charge against us if it were correct—that the Government would do nothing. Now, Sir, our opinion is that the powers of Government in this matter are limited—that it is not possible, as far as our limited understandings go, to lay down any grand scheme under which vast operations for the transport of human beings can be made in a satisfactory manner to the unsettled places of the earth. But we have never said, or thought, or acted upon the principle, that Government under no circumstances could give assistance to emigration. We are not acting upon such a principle at this moment. Within the last twenty-four hours, my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty has described within this House a plan of emigration perfectly rational, and in some degree analogous to the one mentioned by the hon. Member. He stated that certain troop-ships belonging lo Her Majesty would be employed for the purpose—without, in the first instance, deviating from the course which their duties would require them to follow—of carrying out emigrants from this country to British North America. Preference would be given to the persons and relatives of the persons discharged from Her Majesty's dockyards; but if the number of those persons desirous of emigrating was not sufficient to fill those ships, there would be no objection to other classes of emigrants having the benefit of the spare room in those vessels. And the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) urges upon us the necessity of negotiating with the Colonies. But Lord Granville, during this distress, has caused inquiries to be made from the Colonies with reference to the very purpose contemplated and suggested by the noble Lord—namely, to as- 1069 certain how far the Colonies are disposed to give the security of their own public faith to insure the repayment of such public monies as may be employed in promoting emigration. I really feel so much the candour of the speech of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire that I am desirous of showing him plainly that he did not do us justice in stating that we acted or professed to act upon the principle of doing nothing. With regard to the provision for the emigration of persons at the expense of local funds, and through the medium of the Poor Law Guardians, I may mention that my right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board has within a short time been engaged in communicating with agents of the Colonies, in order to see how far it was possible by that means to overcome some of the difficulties attending such a scheme of emigration. Again, it has been said, in the course of this debate, that the Government have means of information with regard to the Colonies which is not! within the reach of private individuals, and that we could if we chose enable everyone who is possessed of any learning to ascertain in the most authentic and simple form to what portions of the Empire or the globe he could best direct his steps. But that is the systematic object which has been pursued by the Emigration Commissioners for, I believe, upwards of thirty years. I know the hon. Member is quite incapable of making a charge which he does not believe to be strictly and literally true, and therefore I am sure he will excuse me if I state that the complaints he made had no foundation in fact. We are perfectly ready to enter into the consideration of anything definite and practicable; but we do object to be committed to proposals which are indefinite, and with respect to which we have no means of measuring or appreciating the amount of responsibility we should undertake. Two hon. Members, whom I may be allowed to call young Members—and promising young Members—of this House, the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Kent (Mr. J. G. Talbot)—have censured us for being very unfeeling because we did not advise a passage to be inserted in the Queen's Speech expressive of sympathy with the existing distress. Well, Sir, that matter was not over- 1070 looked, and we were governed partly by reference to practice, and partly by reference to principle and our own idea of what was right. With regard to precedent, I think I may challenge either of those two Gentlemen to produce to me any instance in which in a similar case notice has been taken of distress in the Queen's Speech. Permit me to say that it is a thing which ought to be very rarely done. It is very easy to insert fine passages in Queen's Speeches. If we were disposed to cultivate popularity at the moment, without regard to the future, it might no doubt be done by the use of such high-flown passages. Instead of putting some high-flown epithets in the Queen's Speech about the distress in the country we thought it much better to give the people an assurance of our concern in a different shape—namely, by promising measures, and devoting ourselves to the preparation of measures, which, in our opinion, would go right down to the root of the social system, and lay the foundation of a better future for the people of England. Sir, it must be recollected that those declarations in the Queen's Speech undoubtedly produce a most pleasing and soothing effect at the moment, but they are like the medicines given occasionally for a special purpose by skilful physicians in the course of a disease—not for the purpose of curing, not for the purpose of mitigating the disease, not for the purpose of improving the condition of the patient, occasionally even with the risk of deteriorating it, but for purposes which are necessary at the moment, and though we might have secured the public favour by indulging in expressions of this kind we should have done nothing by means of such expressions towards relieving the distress which undoubtedly exists. I have endeavoured to show that it is not true we have refused to do anything; that it is not true we are doing nothing in this matter; and I say to those who wish us to do more, without presuming to say that what we have done is precisely the right thing, or that nothing can be added to it, that I respectfully and absolutely decline to undertake the kind of responsibility which the Motion of my hon. Friend would suggest. I frankly admit that we are perfectly ready to entertain any proposal likely to be beneficial, if it be within the range of our power to carry it into effect. But it happens as 1071 an incident of modern civilization that sores and sufferings which in ancient times were not generally known are now brought to light, for great vicissitudes mark the industrial condition of society; find we pass rapidly in a series of cycles from periods of great prosperity to periods of sharp distress. At these periods of sharp distress the minds of men, especially where a representative system prevails, are hard driven to find an immediate remedy, and from time to time it has always happened that this subject of emigration has been discussed; but it is certainly remarkable, it is certainly instructive, to review the course of affairs in this respect. The difficulties of the labouring classes have been keenly felt over since the Peace of 1815; and since that time the minds both of intelligent speculators and of responsible statesmen have been directed to the discovery, if possible, of some systematic and extended emigration as the means of affording effectual relief to popular suffering. But the endeavour has never succeeded. It has never been found practicable to adopt the splendid speculation of wholesale emigration. And yet what periods have we passed through? We have passed through, periods of distress certainly much more severe than the present in the sense of being more uniformly extended. Do not let it be supposed that I attempt to underrate the severity of the distress which prevails. But I venture to assert that it prevails only in particular parts of the country—in the metropolis especially, and also, I believe, in the county of Lancaster. It was with reference to this view that I said it would be difficult to find in former Queen's Speeches any allusion to distress, unless it were of a character wholly exceptional and of universal prevalence. That this is not a distress of universal prevalence is clear beyond all doubt, because there is one criterion that never fails and never can fail, and that is the state of the national Revenue. When distress prevails largely among the mass this is told at once in the yearly, monthly, and weekly returns of the public Revenue. Anybody who will pay attention to the figures, by a new arrangement recently made public, will see that they at once negative the assumption that any such state of general and extensive distress prevails. Just see what the periods have been through which this country has passed without any attempt to bring into 1072 play that great engine of wholesale State emigration—for it is against that I am speaking. There is, first, the Irish famine. The whole subsistence of a people was taken away, and that people the very poorest of the people; they were suddenly left to their own resources. The sources and origin of that mischief were not connected, or, if at all connected, were connected only in an indefinite degree with any want of individual forethought on the part of the Irish pooplo—for, although we may say that there was a want of national forethought in Ireland which led to the wide extension of the potatoe culture—yet, speaking in the plain and practical sense of the motives which operate upon individuals, the Irish famine was not connected with causes that the existing generation in Ireland had anything to do with creating, or could have done anything to avert. And yet, though that was so, and though the statesmen of that period were most anxious to bring into play, if they could have done it, this method of relieving afflictions by the resources of the State applied to emigration, they receded before the difficulties of the case. You do not feel these difficulties in debate; you do not feel them at the time when men have nothing to do but to point to a surplus of labour as compared with capital in one country, and a surplus of land as compared with cultivators in another; it is when the question comes to be closely faced, and the consequences of the steps about to be taken come to be weighed and examined, that the difficulties are appreciated which, in the case of the Irish famine, prevented the use of the monies of the State. Most happy it was for Ireland, and for all concerned, that those difficulties did prevent it, for the consequence was—I give no opinion as to the present Irish emigration one way or the other; but, at that period, the consequence undoubtedly was that a great and effectual relief was afforded by self-supplied means in a manner and to an extent such as it would have been impossible to draw from the general taxpayers of the country. For, after all, it is not the wealthy men of the country who pay the taxes of the country. Our system of taxation is founded upon this principle, that if you want millions, you must tax millions. In former times an extravagant share, but now a full and fair share, was paid by the labouring classes into the Exchequer. We are 1073 told that immediately above the paupers, there are those who are very nearly paupers, and so it always has been, and among the taxpayers whom you charge for the relief of those paupers, there are those who are in want of relief themselves. After the Irish famine, we come to the Lancashire famine. That was a case, the most touching, probably, that ever occurred, because it was entirely singular and abnormal as the Irish famine itself. The people of Lancashire wore, in no sense, responsible for the distress that fell upon them. Prudence and forethought on their part could have done nothing to relieve them from the privations and miseries they had to suffer. And although that was so, and they were crushed to the ground, never did they come to this House to supplicate for one farthing of public aid, Is this metropolis so much less wealthy than Lancashire, has it so much less public spirit, does it lack that spirit of cohesion between the different ranks and orders of society that made the great county of Lancashire marshal itself as if it had been an army, only not an army for the purpose of destruction, but for the purpose of saving human life and mitigating human suffering? Rely upon it that, if the question of public emigration had been the easy and simple matter which my hon. Friend supposes it to be, and some Gentlemen in the other parts of the House like him, we should not have passed throughout all these great and extraordinary crises without having brought into play the engine he now wishes us to make use of. You cannot expect that, while one portion of the people are sent out at the expense of the community, you will find another portion in the same circumstances ready to go out at their own expense. They will either stay at home, or demand—and they will be entitled to obtain—the same aid as you give to their friends. With regard to the choice of persons, we are not able to see our way through the difficulties so easily as my right hon. Friend. And it is, in point of fact, this very difficulty which has intercepted any extensive working of those provisions of the Poor Law system which allow the Guardians to arrange for the emigration of the poor. Whatever is done through public rates is suspected by the Colonies, and though the letter of the law does not restrict the action of the Guardians to paupers, you may depend upon it that 1074 you cannot induce your Colonies to receive persons whom you desire to send, or over whom they will not have effectual control. That is the difficulty which confronts my right hon. Friend (Mr. Monsell) and others in their endeavours to make arrangements, and any guarantee as to loans which might be given by the Colonies would at once place in their hands the right of choice as to emigrants. I would put this view to my hon. Friend. He said he would not send out paupers; on that point he was most distinct. But in the most impassioned portion of his speech he also said that, within earshot of the walls of this House, there were myriads of persons who did not know how to find means of subsistence for next week or the week after next, and who were looking anxiously to this House to find a remedy such as that pointed out in the present Motion, and who would be bitterly disappointed if this were not adopted. How does my hon. Friend, with all his ingenuity, draw a line between the condition of those persons who know not, he says, where to find means of subsistence and those paupers whom the Colonies are unwilling to receive? It may be clear to his mind, but it will be very difficult to make it clear in public despatches, or in rigidly-worded documents, such as the Colonies will have a right to demand. Having overcome the difficulty of choice, the next question is as to destination. If our fellow-citizens have a right to come to us in their distress and to claim to be exported from this country in order that they may gain a means of livelihood which now they do not possess, I own it seems to me a most questionable exercise of power—aye, an exercise of power which it is impossible to defend—to say—"We recognize your destitution and our obligation to relieve it, but we insist upon your going to British Colonies." An enormous proportion of the former emigrants—three-fourths, I believe—proceeded to the United States. Of those who wish to go we may assume that the proportion would be about equal. It is not a way to make them love the British Empire to put them under this constraint, and to refuse them the relief which, my hon. Friend says is necessary, except upon a condition which, if arbitrarily imposed, would be fraught with the most serious embarrassment. But hero, after all, is the question. We are asked to recognize—I think for the 1075 first time—the principle that we are to send out not the class which is most destitute, for my hon. Friend repudiates the notion of sending out paupers; but that from a class above the paupers, another class of the population is to make selections and to send these persons out to a foreign country. I should like to know where that is to stop? That is a door much easier to open than to shut. I do not hesitate to say that I think among the supporters of the Motion there is a large amount of mistake as to the desire to go abroad which is supposed to exist in the minds of the English people. My belief is that the English people desire to stay at home. Then you say—"These people are in want, and you are going to relieve their want by giving them the means of emigration." Now, I understood that at most of the meetings of the working classes—I will not say got up, but held for this purpose—to promote plans of State emigration, a considerable counter-current was visible. And it has been said with great force—"If you are going to pay to send us abroad, give us the money, and let us stay at home; a year or two ago there was abundant demand for labour, and we were all very well off. We love old England; we do not want to become Yankees, or in the phrase which is sometimes irreverently used of our Canadian fellow-subjects—'Bluenoses.' We wish to stay at home; allow us to enjoy a little pension, and let us wait until the wheel of fortune turns round again; allow us to have a voice as to the manner in which we should begin to get contented, and instead of going away we shall be at home to support the law and the Throne as British citizens." I must say there is another difficulty I cannot get over. It does not apply to self-supportingemigration—it does not apply to emigration carried on by voluntary means; but I want to know, if the State is to send forth its agents all over the country, and to ask A, B, C, and D to emigrate, or to say to them—"If you wish to emigrate, here is the money for you; there is the ship at Liverpool or Bristol," how are we to escape future responsibility for the condition of those men? I must say, before we are called on to pass a Motion which unquestionably, at any rate, will bear the sense if it does not require the application of State funds to emigration, we ought to know how that difficulty is to be met. It is impossible for us to 1076 be responsible for the future condition of these men. But if we are justified in transporting them to another country, and casting them on the strand of a foreign land, and saying—"Go, and take care of yourselves," these circumstances have not been adequately considered. But they ought to be considered. They are the very points that have met, exercised, and baffled in former times the minds of the acutest men who were desirous as you are to employ this engine of State emigration; but, unlike you, being placed in circumstances and positions of responsibility, were terrified and daunted by obstacles which they found it impossible to overcome. Now with regard to foreign Powers. I have said it would be difficult to limit this emigration to the Colonies, but in regard to foreign Powers I really know not how it is to be conducted. From one great foreign Power we have already very distinct intimations. When it was proposed to send some emigrants from the rates to the United States of America, we had distinct intimation from the agents of that Power that they would rather be excused from receiving them. Well, Sir, I hope this House will think there is nothing unreasonable in the principles I have laid down. We are perfectly ready to entertain from time to time any proposal made which seems to us to afford a fair hope of making practical progress, for purposes we can measure and for consequences we can foresee; but to these wide and general promises—these proposals to carve out, as it were, new portions of our people, and saddle the expense of recasting their fortunes on the rest of the community—above all, to do this by means of an ambiguous Resolution, which may be interpreted as suits convenience, but of which we know that the worst and most dangerous interpretation is that which must ultimately prevail—to such a Resolution we most respectfully, but most distinctly, must decline to accede.
§ MR. R. TORRENS
, in reply, said, he had been asked by his right hon. Friend to point out any one general idea pervading the discussion which had arisen. He found no difficulty in doing so. The fundamental idea was that Government should aid emigration to the British Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the difficulty of carrying on negotiations with foreign States as to their reception of emigrants from this country, 1077 and had denied that the Legislature had a right to interfere in such a matter. That was a sufficient and broad ground for limiting the proposition to the facilitation of emigration to the British Colonies. The right hon. Gentleman stated that emigration, aided by the Government, would put an end to voluntary emigration; but emigration aided by the State had tended more than anything to promote voluntary emigration. The right hon. Gentleman had put forward as an insuperable obstacle the difficulty of discriminating between a pauper and a struggling labourer, who had done his best to keep from pauperism, and had supported himself and his family by honest labour. He (Mr. Torrens) did not think that any person who was conversant with the working class and with the pauper class would experience any difficulty whatever in discriminating between an habitual pauper and a hardworking labourer, who in one sense might be considered a pauper. The Resolution had been called vague, and yet it had been said that it pledged the Government to some specific course. He conceived it to be the duty of an independent Member not to dictate any special course as that which should be adopted to carry out a matter of general policy, but merely to seek to obtain a recognition of that policy, leaving it to the Government to devise the means of carrying it out. The Secretary to the Colonies said emigration should be left to natural causes. He (Mr. Torrens) was not aware that he could find any good result from leaving things to natural causes. The duty of the Government, the duty of statesmen, was to take natural causes and guide them into a channel in which they would be useful. He firmly believed the emigration he had proposed to be the best and indeed the only means of relieving the distress of the working classes, and he felt it his duty to press the Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 153: Majority 105.