§ Reclamation of Land and Emigration.
§ Clause 25 (Reclamation of land).
In page 18, at end of clause, add—"(5) The Land Commission may from time to time purchase such waste, semi-waste, or uncultivated lands as to them shall seem fit, apportion them in such lots as they deem suitable, and may let or sell such lots to persons of approved character, and competency, and the Board of Works may advance to such tenants or purchasers such sums per acre as may in the opinion of the said Board of Works be adequate and proper, either in bulk sum or by annual instalments for the due reclamation of such waste lands. All sums so advanced to be secured upon the lands in such manner as the Board of Works shall determine, and to be made repayable, as hereafter set forth in regard to other advances under this Act."—(Dr. Lyons.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. DALY
said, he hoped they would now find the way clear for the acceptance of this Amendment, especially as the Board of Works would not be required by it to go any farther than they might think fit. He put it to the Government to say whether it was a judicious thing in the face of the diminution of the population of Ireland, and of the decay and diminution of wealth and industry, to refuse to entertain a proposal which, in any case, would entail very little loss upon the State. They should bear in mind that there were many men and women whose wages ran to 1s. 4d., 1s. 5d., and 1s. 6d. a-day, who formed the residuum of the population, and who filled the workhouses and the hospitals. 644 If their sons and daughters were allowed to remain in the country on holdings of their own, it would, undoubtedly, be their duty to provide for their fathers and mothers, and prevent their being a burden to the State. The French had done in Algeria pretty nearly the same thing as was now proposed; and he knew, of his own knowledge, that there were very large bonuses offered to induce people to migrate to Algeria and to settle there. What was wanted in Ireland was that the Land Commission should, with the aid of the State, assume possession of such waste lands as they could get, and advance certain sums of money to persons who possessed the labour necessary to cultivate those lands beneficially. It ought to be a paramount idea to increase the natural wealth of the country. If the experiment failed, it would not fail for the Government, it would only fail for the people; but their labour would remain in the land; and that land, originally purchased by the Government, would be so much the better. In listening to some of the speeches which had been made upon this proposal, he had felt that the assumption made by some hon. Gentlemen that the Land Commission would put the State to an enormous amount of expense was altogether unwarranted. The hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had suggested that the experiment might be made with £500,000; but, certainly, a long time must elapse before the Commission, which he assumed would be composed of reasonable and prudent men, would advance so much as that. If the experiment were made and proved successful, it would be the beginning of an operation which would extend, and which would be of the greatest possible benefit to Ireland. It should be borne in mind that, not from a humanitarian, but from a purely selfish point of view, it was to the interest of this country that Ireland should be prosperous and comfortable; and its prosperity would have the greatest effect on the home trade of England. Ireland was so unfortunately situated, that she must depend for her supplies on the manufacturing industries of England. Hitherto, there had been many years of discontent and disaffection in Ireland, and the Government had been obliged to keep up an expensive armed Force to maintain order; but a little of the money spent in the direction 645 suggested by this Amendment would do away, in a great measure, with the necessity for maintaining that large standing army in Ireland. Irishmen had seen large sums of money voted away during the last two years for the maintenance of the English flag in Afghanistan and in South Africa—Afghanistan alone, he believed, had cost £17,400,000 during that period. England admitted that Ireland had a great many grievances to complain of, and acknowledged that many of those grievances, and much of the poverty under which Ireland laboured, were due not to any Irish fault. It was not much to ask, then, that the natural wealth of the country should be allowed to remain in Ireland, and that this experiment should be begun, not extravagantly, but after carefully weighing all the circumstances, in the hope of establishing a new era. Ireland had the labour and the land, the Government possessed the money, so that all the necessary elements were at hand; and he was certain that if the Government carried out the proposal they would not be in any way injured, and they would have the approval of all who had the interests and welfare of Ireland at heart. Hon. Members knew what immense sums of money had been laid out in India to keep the Hindostanee from starvation; and the railway system of India, apart from its commercial value, had been instituted by the Government mainly for the purpose of taking supplies to districts which required them. Irishmen had been for 700 years under English rule, and subject to privations all that time. They had a right to ask that England should do for them what she had done for the Hindostanee. The waste lands of Ireland were increasing every day, and the strong arms and healthy men of the country were leaving her ports because they were not able to subsist. There was no industry in Ireland for unskilled labour other than that connected with the land; and if the Government would only take possession of the waste lands, and grant them under favourable conditions to the peasantry, he believed the experiment would have every chance of success. Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland had quite as good a right to generous treatment as had her subjects in India.
§ MR. J. W. PEASE
said, he had taken no part whatever in the discussion of 646 this Bill hitherto, because he had been anxious to see it pass into law, and to leave discussion to those who best understood the question from an Irish point of view. But this was another attempt to place the Irish hand in the pocket of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in an unreasonable way, and, as representing a large industrial population, he felt bound to say a few words upon the proposal. In almost every difficulty under which Irishmen laboured they asked for Government assistance. An Irishman in Ireland seemed to be wanting in every kind of self-reliance; but the moment he got out of Ireland he became a man full of self-reliance and confidence. [Mr. HEALY: How is it?] The proposal now made, if carried out, must be conducted either at a loss or at a profit. If at a loss, the Irish people would say—"The English Government must help us to pay for it." If at a profit, they would keep it to themselves. If the land was capable of being reclaimed at a profit, why should not the Irish people do it for themselves, with the aid of that English and Scotch capital which would flow into Ireland as soon as its present condition of unsettlement was ended? But he himself did not see how these reclamations were to be brought about. He had had some experience of reclamation in the North, and he knew that the land now under farming was under-stocked. It would be a much better plan to stock that land which was now under-stocked both in England and Ireland than to attempt the reclamation of wastes. There were hundreds of thousands of acres of land which had gone out of cultivation and been laid down in grass in England and Scotland within the last few years, and there were many farms under-stocked. If the Government wished to do a patriotic thing at the expense of the Treasury they had better stock these farms than begin with the reclamation of waste lands. If they were to speculate in land at all and to become land-jobbers they had better speculate in cultivated lands, and cultivate them better, and thus find employment. He had no confidence whatever in the reclamation of waste lands, for he had tried it over and over again himself, and had spent upwards of £20 an acre on land that would not let afterwards for £1 an acre. And the mere cost of reclamation was not all, for buildings had to be put up; and as 647 soon as the people gathered together in one spot they had to have places of worship built for them, and schools, all of which added very materially to the cost. He had very little confidence in the Government doing such things as arterial drainage—such things were much better clone by private enterprize. Government-built buildings, too, were generally much less adapted to the requirements of a district than privately-built buildings, and the people who worked for the Government knew as a rule that they had the Government purse to draw upon, and they seldom worked like people who worked for private enter-prize. Then, again, the moment the Government went into the market to buy land, that very fact would immediately raise the price of land all over Ireland, and private persons who would otherwise buy and improve land would thus he heavily handicapped. Then, how was the money to be redeemed? An interest of 3 or 3½ per cent would not be paid for out of the rent when churches and schools had been built, and the Government must remember that they had the redemption of the money to look to, and the speculators in enclosure had to consider also that repairs and taxes would have to be provided for. He believed that a kind of Roving Commission, sent out by the State to buy land here and there, in order to place the tenantry upon it, would be an act most false to all the principles of political economy. Then, who were to select the tenantry "of approved character and competency?" Were the Commissioners to have the selection? He had a strong objection to Government-appointed tenants, and a still stronger objection to the proposal, inasmuch as it would increase at least for a while, and probably a long while, the lands held in mortmain, which had proved such a terrible incubus in dealing with the Land Question. While he should be glad to see the experiment of a peasant proprietary tried in Ireland, he certainly would have a strong objection to its being tried on the lines laid down by the present Amendment.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he had not been surprised to hear the speech that had just been delivered; in fact, he had been looking for some speech of that kind all through the debate—a speech delivered from what he might call the high and dry, old-fashioned 648 political economist's point of view. They had now had it put before them in all its narrowness and rigour; but ho thought it had come rather too late in this instance. It was rather too late in the day to begin talking of the principles of that school of political economy, when there was not a single line or clause of the Bill that did not go right in the teeth of those principles, and its very introduction was a confession that there was a condition of things now in Ireland which was not to be got rid of by art adhesion to the antiquated doctrines of a narrow sect. The hon. Gentleman had spoken of putting the Irish hand into the English pocket; but he seemed to forget that the English hand had been a good deal in the Irish pocket. Whenever a foreign war had been undertaken by English statesmen to maintain England's prestige—and Ireland, it should be remembered, did not gain, even in prestige, from such wars—Ireland was taxed beyond her fair proportion. The hon. Gentleman had asked why what was now proposed could not be done by private energy and capital; but the answer was that Ireland was now reduced to such a miserably poor condition that the practical benefit of the working of this Bill must be very slow. Profit for private enterprize could be much more quickly found in other fields, and mere speculators would not look to work of this kind as an investment for their money. The work must be begun by the State, or it could not be done at all. He had been much interested in the speech delivered last night by the hon. Member for Galway County (Mr. Mitchell Henry)—a speech of much ability, force, and earnestness. He was reading only this very day a report of a remarkable debate which took place in this House a little more than two years ago; it was a debate on the Motion of the First Commissioner of Works (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), who called for an extension of the principle of the "Bright Clauses." There was a remarkable speech made in that debate by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright), and in the course of that speech the right hon. Gentleman admitted again and again that the "Bright Clauses" had failed of their object because there was wanting some special machinery, some 649 direct agency, to put them into operation. Now, that was exactly what the Government so far had failed to supply by their clause in the present Bill. They offered to advance a certain amount to promote certain works; but the very thing wanted, and the lack of which the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster declared two years ago was the defect of the "Bright Clauses," they did not give—they did not supply that direct agency by which the work might be carried out, and by which the end sought to be reached would alone be directly attained. In the course of that speech the right hon. Gentleman went back to the days of the discussions of the Land Bill of 1870, and he showed what was the pressure and difficulty by which that Act was carried. Ho told the House of Commons that while that Bill was being discussed the condition of Ireland was one of most serious difficulty, that a state of terrorism existed allover the country, that there were distress and disaffection everywhere, and the right hon. Gentleman added the remarkable statement that if the Bill had not been passed there would have been a general, a universal strike against the payment of any rent whatever to the landlords of Ireland. Hon. Members who thought that the Land League was the parent of all the recent difficulties in Ireland would do well to remember the words of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, spoken before the Land League was in existence, and describing the condition of Ireland nine years farther back. The right hon. Gentleman asked how could such a strike be met? Would it be possible, the right hon. Gentleman inquired, to collect by force the rents of 600,000 occupiers? He declared that the defects in that Land Act had rendered it unsuitable and unavailing as a thorough and radical cure for the difficulties under which Ireland laboured. Were they to benefit anything by the instruction given them in the discussion to which he had referred? They had heard a good deal to-day and on other days about the interests of that much-to-be-pitied personage, the British taxpayer. He had no great pity in this matter for the British taxpayer. He did not mean to speak harsh words of all the British taxpayers, of whom he happened to be one himself—he spoke of the British taxpayer living in this country—but if the Bri- 650 tish taxpayer was required to pay just now a little more than he liked, he was being served very right. The British taxpayer was responsible for all the bad government of Ireland. To please the British taxpayer every good measure to Ireland had been denied and every bad measure passed. This had been so for the last century and more; it was so in the days before the Union, and it was so still. It was to please the British taxpayer that Burke was unseated at Bristol, and that Fox was driven into retirement. It was to please the British taxpayer that coercion was lately introduced into Ireland; to please the British taxpayer stories of outrages had been manufactured wholesale in Ireland as Brummagem idols were manufactured for African savages; it was to please the British taxpayer—
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is going considerably beyond the Amendment.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he was only answering the objections made over and over again to what was advanced by his hon. Friends and himself; and he merely wanted to show that that respectable personage, the British taxpayer, was the one who ought to pay the expenses of a work of this kind, because, to please him, Ireland had ever been misgoverned.
§ MR. E. COLLINS
said, that nothing would prove of greater benefit to Ireland than a proper system for reclamation of land and the employment of the poor, and now unemployed, people. He sympathized with the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite; but it was the depth of that sympathy that induced him to believe that his hon. Friends did not approach the matter in the most practical manner. The object they all had in view was not to make a display in this House or before the country. He was perfectly conscious that every one of his lion. Friends who sat on the opposite Benches felt as earnestly in the matter of the effective and proper employment of the people as any individual in the Kingdom; but, as a practical man, he would like to examine the subject shortly. Now, what was proposed? It was proposed that the State, through the Land Commission or the Commissioners of Public Works, should take up one of the most difficult processes, and certainly the most laborious and 651 most risky of all industrial enterprizes, that men could engage in. To carry out the work a staff would be required; there would be managers, and engineers, and other officials; and, in his opinion, a most ruinous and demoralizing system of patronage would be introduced into the country. If the great object in view was to be effected, the direct management of the matter must not be under the State. The end in view must be accomplished by intermediaries of the most effective and practical character. It must be by local communities, whether they might be Boards of Guardians or Local Boards of one kind or the other; or it must be through Companies or Associations of capitalists; but certainly not by direct deailngs with individual occupiers. At all events, for the State to deal with the matter directly was so impractiable and unreasonable that he could not support the idea for one moment; and he would like to see his hon. Friends who were so deeply interested in the subject applying themselves to a more practicable form of dealing with the question. He did not speak as a novice on a subject of this kind, for he had devoted a good deal of time and attention in another country to witnessing the organization of a system of land tenure by peasant proprietors and the improvement of the condition of the peasantry. He would like to say, for the information of some of his Friends, that in Russia the State did not deal with individuals; the State did not dispose of land to individuals, but to communities or communes. They handed over the land to communes of, perhaps, 200 to 2,000 persons. These communes had an entirely independent local system of administration. They acquired the land from the State; they apportioned it amongst their numbers, collected rents, and stimulated industry; and in the event of any man being thriftless, or inattentive to his duties, they removed him. Every three years they supervised the whole management; but in no case that he was acquainted with did the State deal directly with individuals. In conclusion, he must point out that the question under consideration was not one of loss or gain to the Treasury, but how they could best restore the people who during the last few years had gone through such great misery to a condition of contentment and tranquillity.
MR. E. O'CONNOR POWER
regretted exceedingly that his hon. Friend who had just addressed the Committee should have deferred until this stage stating his objection to any Commission being empowered to buy land and to sell it to individuals. The hon. Gentleman voted for the 20th clause of this Bill; and what did that tell them? It told them that any estate might be purchased by the Land Commission for the purpose of re-selling to the tenants. The hon. Gentleman had simply joined the hon. Member for South Durham (Mr. J. W. Pease) in raising artificial objections to a plain business-like proposal. The hon. Member spoke of his experience in Russia, and objected to their proposal as being of an impracticable character. He asked the hon. Gentleman, who was an Irish patriot and an Irish Representative, how did he justify his silence? Where was his proposal? They would like him to favour them with some net result of his great foreign experience, instead of sitting still while questions of great interest were being discussed, and only contributing his objection to the feeble wisdom of his Colleagues. They had had a speech from the hon. Member for South Durham, which they must regard as important. Next in rank to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had spoken as a defender of the British taxpayer. The hon. Member said the poverty of Ireland was to be accounted for by want of self-reliance and enterprize on the part of the people. He said that Ireland made no progress; but the Imperial Government was not responsible. [Mr. J. W. PEASE: No!] He (Mr. O'Connor Power) felt too deeply upon this question to have listened to the hon. Gentleman with any want of attention. He followed him as closely as he possibly could, and he distinctly referred to the want of self-reliance on the part of the Irish people. Then the hon. Gentleman, with that fairness and candour for which he was remarkable, admitted that as soon as an Irishman crossed the Channel—as soon as he came over in the steamer, and arrived in Durham, Northumberland, or Lancashire—his character was immediately transformed; he became, instead of a lazy, thriftless, uneconomic labourer, an in-industrious, thrifty, and hard-working fellow. Surely, the atmosphere of England must be so dry, and crisp, and 653 stimulating to the poor Irishman that the moment he set foot on English soil, he become transformed from a lazy blackguard into a marvel of industry and self-reliance. Now, what were the facts? The facts were that the man was working in one country with a security of prospective reward for his labour; while in the other country he was deprived of every element of security, and he was surrounded by men of capital who had no sympathy with him or the country to which he belonged. Whenever a proposal like the present was made, the Irish people were lectured for their want of self-reliance. Now, when he was speaking to his constituents in Mayo he happened to give short lectures himself on the very same subject, and simply because whatever truth there was in an accusation of this kind could be most advantageously ventilated when they were dealing face to face with the people themselves. He had never been amongst those who taught the Irish people to be constantly looking to the Imperial Parliament for the means of stimulating Irish prosperity; but there were two sides to the question, and the side which affected the British taxpayer and the responsibility of the English Government towards Ireland was the side which it was his duty, as an Irish Representative, to present to the consideration of hon. Gentlemen. The hon. Member for South Durham said—"Why enter upon the cultivation of waste land? There is a good deal of land which is not yet waste which ought to be stocked." He did not know what meaning the hon. Gentleman attached to the term "stocked;" but if he meant stocked with cattle, all he (Mr. O'Connor Power) could say was that such an argument had nothing to do with the subject in hand, for why were they so anxious that these lands should be entered upon and allotted? Simply to remedy the most crying evil with which Ireland had been afflicted for the last half-century, the evil arising from small and miserable farms, upon which it was impossible for the people, if they were required to pay no rent, to wring out a comfortable subsistence. The hon. Gentlemen, too, was under a misapprehension as to the real purport of this Amendment. He seemed to think that the proposal of the hon. Member for the City of Dublin was that the Commission should not only purchase 654 these waste lands, but, having purchased them, should enter upon their reclamation; that they should try to reclaim them by a system of hired labour. But that was not the proposition at all. The only thing that they wanted the Commission to do was to initiate and complete the purchase of these lands. The land could be bought for a few shillings an acre, and advantageously allotted. They were constantly asked—"Why, if it be economically advisable to enter upon the cultivation of these waste lands, do not individuals buy them? "Take, for instance, the case of the Irish fisheries. They did not hear of the establishment of any English or Irish Companies for the development of the Irish fisheries. Did it not, therefore, follow that the Irish fishermen, if fairly encouraged in their industry, could enter upon larger transactions with great profit? They had the Report of the Canadian Committee, which told them of the enormous advantages which had resulted from the very slight contributions which were made to help the fishermen in their industry. ["Question!"] Ho thought the illustration was quite to the point. What did it prove in an economic and commercial sense? It proved that they could cultivate land in Ireland not by a system of hired labour and large farms, but by helping men to live on the land and by the land. Ireland's demand on the Exchequer was not the demand of a beggar. He believed that not a single penny that would be advanced by the Treasury under this Amendment would be lost to the State. In course of time it would be paid back again. The industry of the new proprietors would be profitable, and, in course of 30 or 35 years, he was sure they would be able to pay all their liabilities. The Government, he was bound to say, seemed to have paid attention to suggestions coming from the Irish Members on this Bill in almost every particular except this, the reclamation of waste lands. He did not say that Her Majesty's Government had not made considerable advances in the direction of Irish opinion; but what he wished to say was, that if they did not go any further than they had already gone, they would leave Ireland as she had been during the last half-century—a prey to periodic famine. No amount of re-arrangement of the relations between land- 655 lord and tenant could get rid of facts and figures in Irish society which were constantly being brought forward, and which they were only too willing to study when Ireland was on the verge of famine and in a state of semi-starvation. When Ireland was in this condition, any Government might come down in a panic and induce the House of Commons to enter upon a large expenditure; but expenditure at such times was mostly entered upon too late. In face of a national calamity not infrequently the Government were reckless in their expenditure; but, in this case, they did not ask for recklessness. What they wanted was that the Government should not bask in the sunshine of one favourable season, and that they should not, because they had passed the Relief of Distress Act a year or two ago, and now were bringing in this Land Reform, think that they had nothing to fear from a recurrence of Irish famine or semi-famine. What he contended was that they would have the same difficulties to encounter. What were these difficulties? Irishmen were sometimes accused of dipping in the colours of their imagination in addressing the House. He could only, on this occasion, deplore the want of a power of imagination, and his utter inability to appeal to a pictorial rhetoric which only would be adequate to describe the perfect misery in which tens of thousands of the people of Ireland were living at the present moment, and which might involve them in starvation again as soon as they were subject to a succession of two bad harvests. What took place in the discussion on this Bill last year? It was his duty to call the attention of the House to the condition of the crowded districts in Mayo, Galway, and other parts of the West of Ireland. He read the reports that had been sent to the various Relief Committees—the Mansion House Committee, the Duchess of Marlborough's Committee, and the organization of the Land League in Dublin—and what was the impression the House of Commons gathered from those reports? The impression was to be gathered from the unanimous Resolution adopted and sanctioned by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, which Resolution declared that—The present condition of the agricultural population in Mayo, Sligo, Galway, and other parts of the West of Ireland, demands the 656 serious and immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government.Now, he would put this question to Her Majesty's Government—What had they done since that Resolution was inscribed on the Records of the House? They had had quotations from the Report of the Registrar General which was issued not long ago. In that Report they were told that there were 94,000 one-roomed cottages in the West of Ireland in which families of five or six persons slept and lived together during those portions of the day when they were not occupied on their farms—in which they lived and slept with all the hens, and ducks, and geese, and dogs, and asses, and other animals which they were able to maintain amongst them. That was the wretched and miserable condition of these people. The Registrar General described also the condition of their farms—how small they were, and how miserable were their dwellings. It was utterly impossible that the House of Commons should look calmly on the revelations made from time to time, and to say there was nothing to be done, and that the matter would have to be left to regulate itself by the ordinary rules of supply and demand. It was said—"If these dwellings are too crowded, why don't the people go out and get lodgings somewhere else?" But surely they had abandoned all that kind of reasoning. They stuck at the gnat, having swallowed the camel already in a previous clause of the Bill. They now refused to sanction that which, he believed, would do more to lull the wave of Irish complaint, so oppressive to Englishmen and so humiliating to the Irish Representatives, than anything else—they refused to do that which would be more productive of good than any clause in this Bill. He would say to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Ireland had a claim on the British taxpayer in this matter; and he would tell them why. The right hon. Gentleman could not be ignorant of the fact that to past Governments in this country was attributable the destruction of every Irish industry. To past Governments in this country was attributable the maintenance of that land system which two of the greatest efforts of the right hon. Gentleman's magnificent career had been devoted to remedying. How had 657 these crowded districts been brought about in Ireland? They had been brought about by the process of eviction from the better lands; the poorer people had been evicted from the rich land, and had been chased up the mountain sides, and there, when they had scratched the hills and managed to secure a scanty living, they were chased further up, until, as was to be seen in parts of Mayo, they were to be found, like the eagle, nestling amongst the rocks and caves on the mountain tops. But even there they showed their industry, which, at all events, enabled them to live. Even if the Treasury were to suffer a loss in entering upon these transactions, he would not hesitate to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, because he would say that England and the Governments in this country had, in time past, stricken down by the iron hand of the law the rising industries in Ireland, and had done nothing since out of their bounty to repair the ruin they had wrought. On these grounds—on the ground of historical justice, if on no other—he appealed to the Government to grant a permissive power to this Commission to purchase and reclaim these waste lands, and so to repair to some extent the injustice which, in times past, they had done to the tenants of Ireland.
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has addressed the Committee with his accustomed ability; and I am bound to say he addresses it with great advantage, because no later than last night he gave evidence of the intensity of his desire that the Government should retain in the Bill some lines which they were required reluctantly to surrender in reference to the local communities of Ireland in their relation to the lands in the baronies. These lines were struck out in consequence of considerations put forward by the Irish Representatives. But the Irish Representatives to whom I refer are now urging upon us—and they expect to carry their view by persistence—the adoption of a plan which it has been our duty, on the part of the Government, to declare in plain terms we could not adopt, and which has not yet received the support of one single Member amongst the 550 who are the Representatives of Scotland and England. Now, at this period of the de- 658 bate, I think it is my duty to clear the ground as far as I can, inasmuch as the inclination and intention of the Government, though they cannot bind the Committee, yet are an element for its consideration. And with regard to its intention, it is my absolute duty to say that I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen should go on in their speeches saying again and again that these things deserve the consideration of the Government, and should go on making appeals to us long after we have declared in the plainest words that we are bound to refuse to accede to any such applications. Now, I would say this—that I have very grave doubts whether, if the Government were to abandon their present intention, they would be able to induce those Members of Parliament who represent English and Scotch constituencies to allow the State, through the Land Commission, or through' the Board of Works, or both, to be purchasers of unreclaimed lands in Ireland for the purpose of bringing them into cultivation under the responsibility of the Government and entirely at the cost of the State. I do not believe myself that it is within the power of the Government to do this, though the House has done much on the solicitation of the Government. This House, I say, has acceded to much to which it was reluctant to accede; and many hon. Members from Ireland seem to take no account of that. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), how does he take account of it? He expressed no acknowledgment, no gratitude to the House—[Mr. HEALY: Not a bit.] He expressed no acknowledgment, no gratitude to the 550 Representatives of England and Scotland for the provisions they have adopted in this Bill—the extraordinary measures they have adopted in this Bill out of consideration for the circumstances of Ireland. The only use that is made of them is the use made by the hon. Member for Longford, who says these measures have destroyed all reasons for having regard to economical principles; and he denounces all reference to principles of political economy and the old-fashioned doctrines of the narrow school. Departure from all ordinary considerations is the doctrine of the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member actually went this length—exceeding, I should say, what hitherto I have heard 659 any Member from Ireland put forth in the course of this Session—that for a century or more the Government of this country has denied every good measure to Ireland, while every bad measure has been passed.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
What I said was that every good measure which had been denied had been denied in deference to the opinions of the British taxpayer. I did not say that every good measure had been denied, whilst every bad measure had been passed.
I cannot abandon altogether my own recollection. I took down the words of the hon. Member at the time, and I stand on those words, whilst admitting that the hon. Gentleman's recollection may be perfectly good, at all events, as to what he intended to say. Let me see what sort of topics have been used in these appeals to the Government. One hon. Member says—"You spend enormous sums in wars. You (the English Parliament) have spent £17,000,000 on the Afghan War; and, that being the case, can there be any objection to spending a little more in reclaiming the waste lands of Ireland?" Well, I would ask, did the Members for Ireland endeavour to prevent the spending of that £17,000,000? ["Yes!"] Well, then, look at the Division Lists, and I will undertake to say you will not find a single one in which the majority of that portion of Members, who especially call themselves the Irish Members, took part in checking, or in endeavouring to check, that military expenditure. And, then, Sir, this is all laid on the English Parliament. They say—"You have always been misgoverning; you have always been doing this and that evil to Ireland." Yes; but, after all, let us recollect that Ireland is represented in this Rouse in a much larger proportion to its numbers than is Scotland. [Mr. PARNELL dissented.] The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) shakes his head, and implies that 63 Members for 3,500,000 people are a larger proportion than 103 Members for 5,250,000. Such is the arithmetical doctrine of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. I must say it is quite time that those who sit here in such numbers and in such power—in numbers beyond the proportion to which the population of Ireland entitles them—should cease from this habit of speaking 660 as if they were petitioners at the Bar, and had no votes to give along with us, the Representatives of the other portions of the Kingdom, in governing the deliberations of this Blouse. Works for the reclamation of land, they say, have been executed in England. Truly, but have these works been executed at the expense of the British Exchequer? I should like to see what response a Minister who proposed to expend public money upon the execution of public works in England would meet with at the hands of the Irish Representatives. Well, the hon. Member who last sat down most fairly grappled, as he thought—and no man is more capable, in general, I think, of judging of the efficiency of his own argument—with what ho felt to be the formidable objection of my hon. Friend the Member for South Durham (Mr. J. W. Pease). My hon. Friend had the courage to say to lion. Members opposite that he was surprised that they had not formed themselves into Companies for the purpose of carrying out profitable works in Ireland, and he pointed out to them that they would be sure, looking at the extent of their credit with the people, of more support than anyone else. The hon. Member said he could give a complete answer to this, and his answer was that there were no Companies formed for the promotion of Irish fisheries, although no one could say that Irish fisheries did not produce a profit. Well, but who has heard of any Companies being formed for the promotion of English or Scotch fisheries? The illustration was the most unfortunate that could have been made, for all experience seems to prove that fisheries are a description of enterprize which must be carried on by individuals, or, at least, by persons on co-operative principles. Now, what is the proposal before us? It is that the State has to come into the field and is to acquire uncultivated or waste lands; it is to acquire them by purchasing them from the landlord and by buying off the tenants' rights of pasture, which very generally extend over these waste lands. That double operation the public agent is to conduct in the first place. The State is then to find occupiers, among whom it is to divide the land in certain lots of 20, 30, or 40 acres, be it what it may, and these occupiers have, and can have, no security to give on lots which 661 are still waste, or the means requisite for cultivating the holdings; and this plan is described by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and who usually speaks with moderation in these matters, as "a plain, business-like proposition."
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
Allow me to mention that the security of the land is there. The Commission can repossess themselves of the land if they like.
Yes; a very agreeable thing to do—to re-possess themselves of this waste land, the tenants decamping with the advances which have been made to them in order to enable them to bring it into cultivation, and the Commission having before them the hopeful and pleasant prospect of re-commencing the same operations. So much for the "plain, business-like proposal" of the hon. Gentleman, whose interruption, I think, was scarcely necessary. Let us look at this question as a matter of business. In my opinion, there is is the greatest force in the objection taken by the hon. Member for South Durham, that to throw more lands into mortmain by casting them into the hands of the Government is an operation to which it would be difficult indeed to reconcile a British Parliament. But that is not all. As to the nature of these operations, we have authorized loans to the landlords, and we have authorized loans to the tenants, and now we authorize these advances for purposes which, I believe, are absolutely so comprehensive as to be universal. But this does not content—nothing will content—hon. Members from Ireland, except that the State itself shall become the undertaker of enterprizes which nobody else in the world would undertake. Now, of all enterprizes connected with agricultural improvement, there are none so difficult and slippery and hazardous as the reclamation of land. There is no question more contested, there is none upon which it is more easy to produce a multitude of opinions equally confident on both sides; and the question is, whether there is or is not in Ireland any large quantity of land which is capable of profitable reclamation? Be that as it may, what I wish to say is this—that, according to universal experience, the reclamation of land can only be carried on with success, and is hardly ever attempted except, in the first place, by private enterprize, and, in the second 662 place, in minute detail. How is it that the people have crept up the hillsides of this country? Why, it has been by small efforts, made by the landlords or the tenants—by proceeding in detail.
I did not say that. The Land Commission is not invited to do it. The Land Commission is only invited to take upon itself the whole cost and responsibility of its being done. The Land Commission is not to have the slight chance of success which, perhaps, it might possess if it used its own instruments, but it is to undertake the whole cost and responsibility—to purchase out the landlord, to divide the land, to procure the people to occupy it, and supply them with the money necessary for effecting the object. I think the hon. Gentleman's interruption was unnecessary. This, of all agricultural problems, is the very worst to put into the hands of the State; it is the most doubtful, the most slippery, and the most hopeless to be undertaken by anybody, except by those who watch every detail under the influence of the motives that secure success in industry—namely, the desire and the earnest intention of the profitable application of every resource. I want to know whether it is a very easy thing, even for private persons, to make this land reclamation—to take large tracks of unreclaimed land, and parcel them out in lots, and to find the people and put them upon the holdings, and, having done that, to supply them with money for the purpose of effecting the reclamation? The last considerable attempt at reclamation that I have heard of—in fact, the only one that I have heard of of late—is going on now in the hands of a landlord in the North of Scotland. It is universally acknowledged to be most creditable to the person who has it in hand; but I am sorry to say that every account that reaches me is to the effect that, in a pecuniary sense, the operation has been a mistake. Successful reclamations of land has never been made by the State—hardly in any case, indeed, has the 663 State attempted it—but, speaking generally, the successful reclamations are not even those made by the landlords. They are made by the tenants, in a great degree, on their own responsibility, by the application of labour at times when their energies are not otherwise profitably at work. The successful reclamations are made in the same way that cottage gardens are made profitable, by the economization of the labour of the various members of the family when not employed in other ways, by the application to the land of the most thrifty principles of good cultivation. It is now proposed that it should be undertaken wholesale by the worst of all agents—namely, the State, and by the very worst of all methods—namely, that of finding all the money and committing the execution of the plans to persons who, after all, can have but a very imperfect acquaintance with the subject. Under these circumstances, hon. Gentlemen will not be surprised when I repeat what I have said as to what we believe to be the limited power of the Government for the purpose of carrying out such a plan as this, and when I say that the declarations of the Government on the subject are final and absolute.
§ DR. LYONS
said, ho appealed to his hon. Friends, after the very full discussion which had now taken place, that they should permit the Amendment to go to a division. The Prime Minister—and he said it with all respect—had not approached the consideration of the subject from the most friendly point of view, and he did not seem to think the matter was capable of being put before the Committee in any other aspect than that in which he had considered it. After the protracted debate which had now taken place on the subject, it appeared to him that no good practical result would follow from continuing the discussion at the expense of the other important portions of the Bill which were to follow. He had not heard a single argument from any hon. or right hon. Gentleman to in the slightest degree weaken his faith in this proposal; and he ventured confidently to predict that this was a proposal which, if it were rejected now, would be very often heard of again in the course of the next two or three years in the shape of amending Bills to the measure now before the 664 Committee. The right hon. Gentleman had made some reference to an accumulation of land in mortmain; but he would point out that this argument had no application whatever, because it was not comtemplated in this scheme that the Land Commission should be for any lengthened period in possession of the land. The Commission would merely be transferers of the land, when purchased, to those individuals who were to carry out the reclamation. And, with regard to the necessity for agents going round the country inviting persons to come and occupy plots that were par-celled out, there was such a recognized demand on the part of people in crowded districts for fresh fields to go to within the limits of Ireland that he did not believe it would be necessary to use agents, but that a mere advertisement, stating that such-and-such lands were to be let would be sufficient to call forth innumerable demands for allotments from all parts of the country. The right hon. Gentleman had not alluded to an experiment in the matter of reclamation which was made some years ago by the Government, and yet that experiment fortified this proposal very materially. This experiment was an extensive system of reclamation which took place in the county of Cork on lands at King William's Town. The Government, at a time of great depression, undertook the reclamation of a large tract of land. Allotments subsequently were sold, and the purchasers of these lands had since utilized them, and, in many instances, had re-sold them out at enormous profit. As he had no doubt that this subject would arise again before long, and as they had had a very full discussion of the question, he would ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to allow the Amendment to go to a division.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that, as one of the 550 English and Scotch Members who had taken no very active part in this particular discussion, he should be grateful if the Committee would allow him to say a few words. In the first place, he was not altogether in favour of the Amendment as it stood. At the present time, he should not be disposed to support any Amendment which involved the compulsory acquisition of land from the landlord; and he should, therefore, propose to amend the Amendment by inserting the words "with the consent 665 of the owner." Further than this, he would propose that it should be stated that the land should not be sub-divided into allotments of less than 30 acres each. Having said this, he must say that he heard with great surprise the speech from the Prime Minister, or that part of his elaborate argument which was against the reclamation of land altogether. When ho heard the right hon. Gentleman expressing these views, he could not help asking himself why was this clause inserted in the Bill at all. The Government gave powers for the reclamation of land; therefore, he considered the speech of the right hon. Gentleman hardly in accordance with the terms of his own Bill, nor did he think the right hon. Gentleman altogether understood the scheme proposed. As he (Mr. Chaplin) understood it, the object of the Amendment was that money should be advanced to private individuals for the purpose of reclaiming this land. The reclamation was not to be carried out by the State. The right hon. Gentleman said it could only be carried out successfully by private enter-prize and by careful attention to minute details; but that, it seemed to him, was really the intention of this proposal. Private people would carry out the enterprize, but they would be assisted by money from the Treasury, and he therefore could not see any great weight in the objection taken to the Amendment by the right hon. Gentleman, more especially when he remembered what they had already done in this Bill. There was one objection which he should have thought would have had some weight on that (the Conservative) side of the House—namely, that there would be no security for the money invested; but, if so, what became of the arguments as to the value of the tenant's right and occupancy which was to be security for all sorts of advances? In Heaven's name what was to be the security for the landlord's rent? It was said that the scheme could not possibly pay, and that the Government could not be responsible for advancing the money of the State. But why was this objection raised for the first time now? They had now to advance large sums of money from the State for the purpose of buying estates, in order that they might be re-sold to the tenant, and it was doubtful whether that daring, proposal would 666 be a success. He was ready to give a fair trial to the scheme of the Proprietary Clauses of the Bill, not because he thought they would pay, but because he attached great social and political importance to the scheme. What were these holdings? He would read one or two statements from the Report of the Special Commissioner of Agriculture. The Commissioner spoke of a table which, he said, showed that they had 100,000 holdings, not one of which exceeded 30 acres; that they had 300,000, not one of which exceeded 15 acres; and 130,000, not one of which exceeded 5 acres; and these were the holdings which they were about to advance the money of the State to enable the tenants to purchase, and that in the face of evidence given before the Commission, that even if these holdings were rent free no one could possibly secure a decent living on them. If they were prepared to make such an advance on security which they had had in evidence was insufficient, why should they be alarmed by the proposal of the hon. Gentleman opposite? This proposal which dealt with reclamation and emigration was free, at all events, from one objection that attached to the Proprietary Clauses of the Bill. Thus they were going to make the tenants owners of their holdings, whether they were little or great, or whether it were possible for them to obtain a livelihood on them or not. They had the matter under their own control, and in acquiring the land and dividing it they could cut it up in such portions as they thought fit, and in such portions as would enable the people to obtain a decent livelihood upon it. And what were the arguments in favour of this proposal? After all, they must remember that the great difficulty they had to deal with in Ireland was this, that in certain parts of the country—and it was impossible for Irish Members to deny it—people were crowded together, and as long as they continued in their present state no one could expect any real or permanent improvement in their condition. An hon. Member said on the previous night that the discussion of this question was a mere interference with the onward and proper progress of the measure, and that this Amendment was entirely beyond the scope of the Bill; but surely that must depend upon what the hon. Member's opinion of the scope 667 of the Bill was. What was the scope of the Bill? As he understood it, the Bill was intended to mitigate, in some degree, the miseries of the people of Ireland. What did they consist of? Every authority was agreed who had ever spoken on the subject, that in the West of Ireland the state of things he had described was such as to render any real improvement in the country impossible as long as the people remained as they were. ["Divide!"] He was sorry to trespass on the time of the Committee, but he had always regarded this as one of the most important questions in connection with the Bill. Would the Committee allow him to refer them to the evidence not only of the majority Report of the Duke of Richmond's Commission, but also of the minority Report? Both of these Reports were agreed, after a large amount of evidence which had been taken, as to what lay at the root of all this trouble in Ireland. The majority attributed the miseries of Ireland to excessive competitions for rent. The Commissioners said, apart from the land, there were few if any other means of subsistence for the population, and that serious abuse had been the result. Other causes of the distress were said to be unreasonable desire for tenant right, arbitrary increase of rent, overcrowding in certain districts, and minute sub-division of farms. There was nothing in the present Bill to remove or mitigate in the slightest degree that which they had before them as the main cause for the distress in Ireland. ["Question!"] If the distress in Ireland was not the question, he should like to know what was. With regard to the minority Report of the Commission, they stated that amongst the causes capable of removal or mitigation by legislation the most important was the extreme smallness of many of the agricultural holdings, and the overcrowding of the population where the land was poor, and where occupiers often depended for a livelihood on occupation in Great Britain during a portion of the year. But what did the Report say as to the remedy? It offered a great many other remedies, he admitted, but it said the Commissioners believed that an effort should be made to relieve by State intervention the over - populated districts. This was the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman's own Friends; but notwithstanding all the evidence they had 668 had on this point, the Prime Minister thought fit in his discretion to get up and tell the Committee at an early stage in the discussion that his decision was final and absolute. Whether it was final and absolute or not, he (Mr. Chaplin) hoped before the Bill left the House that the Government would be induced to entertain a different opinion. He very much regretted the attitude the Government had taken upon this matter, more especially because they were resolved to do nothing with regard to migration. If they had not included in their Bill anything with regard to providing other means of employment for the people of Ireland, they had only one resource before them for remedying the condition of the people. Every particle of evidence he had heard on the subject was agreed on this—that the starting point of all in remedying the condition of the people of Ireland should be that of removing them from these crowded districts where it was impossible that they could live in comfort or decency. If they did not adopt measures for migration, they must resort to emigration; and he should be sorry to see emigration treated as the sole resort in this state of things. The least they could have expected from the Government was that they would have adopted such measures in this Bill as would have given to these poor people the choice between migration and emigration. If they had done this, they would have done something that he thought they had failed to do up to the present time—namely, something to permanently alleviate distress in Ireland.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, he would not delay the Committee very long; but he thought he had some right to speak on this matter, inasmuch as he had the double qualification which had been referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place, he wished to make the local bodies responsible for some of this money which was to be advanced; and he would remind the right hon. Gentleman that on the previous night he asked a question upon this point. There were a large majority of the Irish Party in favour of making the local authorities responsible for part of the money, and he was one of that majority. The other qualification he possessed was this—that he was one of those Members who had voted against the expenditure on the Afghan War. No one had voted more 669 consistently against that expenditure than ho had done. Well, hon. Members had been told that they ought to be very grateful for this Bill.
I simply said, as a matter of fact, with reference to what the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Justin M'Carthy) had said, that he had never used one syllable of gratitude and acknowledgment to the framers of the Bill.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
said, he would like to ask what the Irish Members had to be grateful for? He was grateful to the right hon. Gentleman himself, because ho had done so much, individually, in pressing the Bill on the House of Commons, and on a largo portion of the Liberal Party. But they were asked more than this—to be thankful to the House of Commons. Why should they be grateful to the House of Commons—it must either be for their time or for their money? Well, he acknowledged that it had given a great deal of its time; but they could not be thankful to it for that, because they would, unfortunately, prefer to discuss the question in a Parliament of their own in Dublin. Even if the British House of Commons gave half its time to Ireland—and that, of course, would be out of proportion to the relative importance of the country—it would not be too much. As to their being thankful for any money, it had yet to be made out that money would be given to Ireland under this measure. In one portion of the Bill the money referred to was to be paid out of the Irish Church Fund, which was an entirely Irish fund. The money referred to in another part of the Bill was to be borrowed at 3½ per cent, and he had been reminded that money in a similar way had been lent to Birmingham at 3⅛ per cent. Therefore, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had taken every care of the Exchequer, and he did not see what the Irish Members had to be grateful for. Their great case was that the contributions of Ireland towards the Imperial Exchequer amounted to £8,000,000 a-year, while only £5,000,000 were spent in Ireland. There was, therefore, a surplus of £3,000,000 a-year; and he did not 670 think there was any room for an extravagant display of gratitude if they asked for a small portion of that surplus. He would not enter into an argument with the Prime Minister as to whether or not land could be reclaimed, but would merely say this—that he had gone into the interior of Connemara with Professor Baldwin, and in the course of his journey he found that whilst five or six miles from the sea there was no population at all, or none to speak of, when they got within a quarter of a mile of the coast it was congested. Professor Baldwin had pointed out several districts which could be profitably reclaimed, but who was to do it? The tenants could not. They could not expect the landlord to reclaim small patches; indeed, they could not ask him to send a few tenants into the middle of his fishing or shooting district in order to reclaim a piece of land. No doubt, it would pay him to send 1,000 families there; but, in order to do that, he would have to expend a great deal of money, and he would require very substantial assistance. Then, again, the tenants themselves would have to be shown how to reclaim land, and that also would require that assistance should be given by the State. It seemed to him that the Amendment was very fairly drawn, and he would give it his most hearty support. He really thought the Bill would fail to satisfy many large and poor districts in Ireland, unless something were done for the reclamation of the land. He had only mentioned one district in Connemara, but he was sure there were 20 such in Ireland.
§ MR. VILLIERS STUART
said, that, as he had had a good deal of personal experience in the matter of reclamation, having himself reclaimed between 200 and 300 acres, and having a number of tenants on his property who had reclaimed mountain land, and had done very well on it, he hoped the Committee would forgive him, and not think he was trespassing unduly on its patience, if he gave them the result of his observations. The land he himself had reclaimed was in a mountainous district, and was not selected by any means because it promised a favourable result. It had been selected because it was a place where employment was greatly needed. When the operations were commenced he was assured that the 671 work would never pay; but, at any rate, reclamation had been effected. Two hundred acres had been sub-soiled and 50 acres of the land had been placed under crop. The soil was light and porous, and it had been so stony that the country people had given it the name of "the mother of stones." The stones were got out of it, and oats, turnips, and potatoes were sown. At the present moment these crops were most promising, particularly the potato crop. Though he had not been able himself to go over and see it, yet he had been assured that it was one of the finest potato crops in that part of the country. The value of the land had been raised from 2s. to 10s. or 12s. an acre. The food-producing power of the country had been increased; employment for something like 200 men and their families had been provided; these people had been kept off the rates for 18 months; and though the financial result to himself might not be very brilliant, still he should not lose by the experiment. He would put it to the Committee whether this work had not been worth doing? They must not look merely at financial results, but consider the gain to the nation by increasing the food-producing power of the country and its capacity to support an increased population. On a part of his property the tenants had within living memory made reclamations from the wild mountain side, and they were now doing well on their farms. They were not only producing plenty of food for themselves and their families, but, by their surplus production, they had been enabled to put by money enough to give good dowries to their daughters; and in several instances which had come under his observation they had saved enough money to enable them to buy new farms in more favourably situated lowland districts. He hoped the Committee would excuse him for having delayed them with these observations; but he thought that, as he had had some personal experience in the matter, he might be allowed to take part in the debate. His experience was that the landlord might reclaim waste land without loss, but that the tenant, with some little assistance, could reclaim it at one-half the cost.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, the speech of the Prime Minister very much impressed him, and had rather altered 672 his (Mr. O'Connor's) view on the question. But, after all, he thought they were disagreeing more about words than about realities; and it would seem that there was not so much difference between the Prime Minister and them as at first sight appeared. He thought that it would be seen that it was possible for them to adopt a compromise on this question. They were all agreed that some of the holdings were so small that it would be advisable that they should be enlarged in some way or other. They were also agreed on the point that the tenants should be afforded facilities for enlarging their holdings, by having land to reclaim, because the Prime Minister had brought in a subsection which really admitted that principle. But the point where they began to disagree was as to whether there was power existing to give the tenants this land to reclaim. What Irish Members asked was this—Would the Government give the Commission authority to advance money to the tenants to reclaim? If the Prime Minister would consent to give the Commission power, to take reclaimable land in order to give it to the tenants, the whole question of dispute between the Prime Minister and the Irish Members fell to the ground. They were not asking the State to take any burden upon its shoulders; they were simply asking it to give the labourer the opportunity of reclaiming the land. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Macfarlane) raised the question in a more convenient form; and he could not think the Prime Minister could have any objection to it. Therefore, he would suggest that the Amendment they were now discussing should be withdrawn.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that after having occupied so much time on this discussion it would be a pity if it were not possible for both sides of the House to come together, and to arrive at some practical result. He was struck by the force of the Prime Minister's objection that the work which the hon. Member for the City of Dublin wished to place on the Commission was not work for which the Commission was fitted, and that it would require a great deal of local inspection throughout all parts of the country from time to time—in fact, constant supervision. ["No, no!"] Undoubtedly, this would be so. These 673 works of improvement and reclamation would have to be superintended in every district where they were set on foot; and it was possible that neither the Commission nor the Board of Works would be capable of carrying out that supervision. But supposing they were to give to Boards of Guardians in Ireland the same power that they gave under this clause to the public Companies, they would meet all the necessities of the case, and they should require that this was essentially a work of Poor Law relief. It had acquired its prominence in this Bill because of the sufferings of the 50,000 or 100,000 small tenants in Ireland. What would be the prospect of these small holders of whom Professor Baldwin said—There are 50,000 in five or six of the Western and North-Western Irish counties who cannot live on their holdings unless they are weeded out and transferred to some other place.He did not say that the Bill as it stood would not give them some relief. No doubt, the rent clause would reduce many of their sufferings to some extent, and in some cases to a large extent; and undoubtedly the project for the settlement of arrears which the Chief Secretary placed on the Notice Paper would favourably affect some of these poor people for a time. But it would only be while the three or four or five or six good seasons were lasting, and on a recurrence of the bad seasons they would be confronted with the same difficulty with which they were confronted in 1879 and 1880. Who, he would ask, were the people who created this land movement, which had cost some £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 to keep in check, and of which, perhaps, they had not yet seen the end. It had been the small cottier tenants according to the evidence of their own Commission appointed to inquire into the subject—the small cottier tenants who were concerned in the meeting at Irish Town in 1879. It was the cottier tenants who kept alive that agitation, and spread it into the county of Galway, the county of Sligo, and partly into the county of Donegal. In the course of the following year the tenants in the rest of Ireland, the better-off tenants, took up the movement, and brought it into the position it now occupied. But it was the poor tenants who started it; and if the Government sup posed they were settling the Land Ques- 674 tion while they left 100,000 of the people of Ireland living in pig-sties, where it was impossible for them to obtain any subsistence, they were reckoning without their host. It was, therefore, worth while on the part of the Committee to devote a little more time to see whether they could not devise some practical plan for the purpose of settling this very difficult problem. He did not ask the Prime Minister to agree to the suggestion he might now make, after listening to the course of the debate; but he would ask him if he would not re-consider, in the light this debate bad thrown on the matter, the question of what should be done for these small tenants in the Wrest of Ireland. If the Prime Minister would consider the matter between now and the time when the new clauses would be moved later on, before the Bill left the Committee, he was sure his hon. Friend would not think it necessary to take a division on the present Amendment, especially as that Amendment was undoubtedly open to some objection in point of detail. The duties placed on the Commission were not the duties they expected when some of them were placing Amendments on the Paper. The matter was one for careful consideration; and, looking at the shape which this Bill had now assumed, he thought there might be a general agreement to a clause which might be accepted by the Government—something which would give these poor people some hope of being able to live in their own country. If this hope was not extended to them there would be nothing left to the cottier tenants but the Emigration Clause of the Bill. He did not mean to say it would be necessary to emigrate the people in the first year, for he admitted to the full extent that the Bill would give them some relief; but he would ask the Committee not to wait until they were driven by the emergency of coming famine, or bad seasons, into attempts at hasty and ill-considered legislation for relieving the people. He had drafted an Amendment between last night and the present moment which he thought would be satisfactory, and which he would indicate to the Committee. He would not move it now after the length to which the debate had gone; and, in view of the statement he made last night when asking that Progress should be reported, he felt himself even pre- 675 cluded from bringing it on without the consent of the Government. The Amendment was to the effect that the Treasury should authorize the Board of Works to advance, from time to time, any moneys in their hands to Boards of Guardians, on the security of the rates, for purposes of reclamation, or any other agricultural improvements; and that the Boards of Guardians to whom such advances were made might purchase such lots of land as they thought desirable, and sell or let them. The rates of the Unions were fully sufficient to meet any advances that might be made. As to baronial courts, they were not representative, but the Boards of Guardians were; and he trusted that in the progress of legislation they would be rendered still more representative than they were at present. It would then be the fault of the local bodies if they did not do their duty with regard to these small holders. No loss and no risk, when the security of the rates were given, could attach to the British Exchequer. He did not wish to delay the Committee in coming to any decision they might wish to come to on the Amendment of his hon. Friend. He would suggest to him that if they obtained some further consideration of this complicated question, this debate would not have been thrown away, and that he might, under the circumstances, withdraw his Amendment.
If the hon. Member will be good enough to put the clause on the Notice Paper, I will bring it under the consideration of my Colleagues. It is, no doubt, a most important question.
§ MR. SHAW
doubted very much whether they could impose such duties as these upon Boards of Guardians at ordinary times. No doubt, last year they imposed some exceptional duties upon Boards of Guardians; but then it must be borne in mind that the time was one of very great distress. He doubted whether it would be wise to put this burden upon them now. There would, however, be ample time to discuss the proposal when it was formally before them. He hoped they would now allow the discussion to end, and, no doubt, before the Report, they would be able to agree to some clause dealing with that part of the question. The Government had given power to the Board of Works to make advances to Companies, which might not 676 mean speculative Companies; and they had given further powers to the Board of Works to make advances to occupiers, which were most important, and which, in fact, he looked upon as the most important part of the Bill. The hon. Member for the City of Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) said they should give the Land Commission power to take these waste lands; but he (Mr. Shaw) clearly saw the difficulty which the Government found in giving any Commission the power of taking large tracts of waste lands, or unreel aimed lands, and dividing them into holdings and putting tenants upon the plots for the purpose of carrying out reclamation. It would be one of the most difficult things which the Government could undertake; but, at the same time, he thought that the boundaries of the small tenants should be enlarged, so that the 10 acre men might, in a very short time, and at a very small outlay, become 50 acre men.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I agree very much with the Committee with regard to the great, the very great, interest that attaches to this subject, and, at the same time, the great difficulty of this question; and I would add this remark, that—in proportion as this question is enlarging, so it is the more necessary that we should take great care what we do in regard to it. The very natural interest and desire which everyone feels to enlarge, as far as possible, the field of profitable cultivation in Ireland may very often induce much too sanguine expectations, and may lead us to embark in schemes which, after all, are doomed from the beginning to disappointment. Therefore, I think it very unwise to plunge into anything of this kind without considering how far it would answer. The proposal in the Bill with regard to Companies is a very simple proposal, and the readiness which, I think, has been expressed by the Government to consider whether they can go further in this matter is a symptom which ought to induce the Committee, and those specially interested in the object in view, not to press the Government too hard, but to give the Government the opportunity of carefully considering and adjusting such proposals as they think it possible to bring forward. I think that we should be acting rashly, not only in the interests of the Exchequer, but in 677 the interests of Ireland, if we were to press the Government to undertake schemes which, after all, are not properly devised and matured. It is a very dangerous thing to encourage people to believe that by advancing money, or by any other way, you can turn their plot of land, which may be a very bad one, into a very profitable holding. No doubt, there are parts of Ireland where a great deal has been done by such men as the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), and the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Villiers Stuart), and others, in the way of increasing and developing the holdings of the tenantry; but those are Gentlemen who know what they are about, and I think that undertakings of this sort ought not to be entered upon without very great care. I trust that the interesting discussion that we have had will not be without its effects, and that before we finally settle the matter something further may be done.
§ MR. BARRAN
said, that knowing that this Bill would come before the House this Session, he spent the Autumn Vacation in going through those districts in Ireland which had been described as congested with population. Amongst other places he visited the neighbourhood of Ballycroy, where there were great reclamation works in operation. A considerable quantity of waste land was taken by a priest on a long lease, and handed over in plots to a number of tenants. The people had gone to work upon it, and had reclaimed it, and their efforts had been crowned with signal success. He had been assured on all hands by persons best qualified to judge that there were many thousands of acres of land in Ireland that could be profitably reclaimed just as the land he had referred to had been. In his journey in the neighbourhood of Glengariff he met with a magistrate, who told him that if he would just walk along with him to the top of the hill he would show him 10,000 acres of land, none of it more than 600 feet above the level of the sea, and all of which would pay for reclamation, although, in its present condition, it was not worth 2s. 6d. per acre fee simple. Said that gentleman—"The only thing that can at all stand in the way of this reclamation would be the question of cost." Now, this was a large and comprehensive Bill, 678 and they all rejoiced that the Prime Minister had been able to meet the demands of both that and the other side of the House. But he was sure that unless this Reclamation Clause was made so as to comprehend pretty nearly that which had been indicated by the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) they would not by any means get over their difficulties. In the West of Ireland the normal condition of the people was very bad. They had a large population that depended largely for its subsistence upon the result of labour performed in England, Scotland, and Wales. The improvements introduced in the last few years in connection with agricultural pursuits in those counties had diminished very largely the demand for labour from the West of Ireland, and therefore those poor people had not the same means of subsistence that they had in the past. If by any possibility the Prime Minister could provide for the employment of this congested population, he felt satisfied that it would be one of the most acceptable provisions of the Bill in the minds and hearts of the Irish people. He did hope that something would be done, and he spoke on behalf of his own constituents in this matter, when he ventured to say that if a sacrifice was to be made for the promotion of the well-being of these people they would very much rather make a sacrifice in the direction that he now indicated, than for the purpose of continuing the measures they had had to take for the purpose of preserving the peace of Ireland.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he understood the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment for the reason that if it was negatived it might be subsequently held that some other proposition that the Government might be prepared to agree to could not be entertained.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he fully expected the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment would, after what had been said, withdraw it. ["No, no!"] Well, if the hon. Member did not consent to withdraw it, he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) should have either to negative or vote against it. What he wanted was to get something done, and he did not wish to see the Amendment put for the sake of having a large majority against it.
§ Amendment negatived.679
§ MR. MACFARLANE
said, the next Amendment on the Paper was in his name; but as it had been suggested to him that it would be better for him not to move it, he should not ask the Committee to consider it.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 26 (Emigration).
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
moved, in page 18, line 12, at beginning, insert—On obtaining sufficient security for the repayment of moneys advanced under this section.If the Government were going to persevere with this clause it was extremely desirable that it should be put upon a safe footing, and that the public money should not be advanced without sufficient security. In that view he had placed an Amendment on the Paper, because he had some doubt whether, as the clause stood, there was sufficient security for the repayment of moneys advanced to Canada, or the Colonies, or to Companies. He was very distrustful of a scheme which would seem to advance money to the Government of Canada, and for two or three reasons. It seemed to him that considering the peculiar relations which existed between this country and Canada that money should not be advanced by this country without security. Great complications might arise between this country and Canada, and we might have great difficulty in getting back our money. He confessed to a sort of prejudice which he entertained with regard to advances in Canada, and this had been a good deal caused by what seemed to him an unreasonable scheme by the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada wanted to fill up their waste lands and to dispose of them, and they had a proposition with regard to emigration that this country, at our sole risk and charge, should advance money for emigration to Canada, and not only to advance, but to guarantee the Government of Canada from any loss which might result from the turning of the emigrants into paupers. The Government of Canada had been long anxious to get rid of their waste lands, and they had sent advertisements to this country to get rid of them; but they were not willing to contribute to the expense themselves. For that reason he feared that very consider- 680 able complication would arise if they advanced money to Canada without any specific security. He was also apprehensive that this might give rise to a great deal of land jobbing. They knew that British Colonists, when they were not checked by the Mother Country, indulged in land jobbing. The Americans adopted a very much wiser course, for they never allowed Colonists to dispose of their waste lands. No doubt latterly, to promote railways, large grants of land had been made, and this had led to land jobbing. He believed that very great land jobbing was now going on in Canada, and large tracts of Manitoba were granted on easy terms. There was another reason why they should not advance money for emigration to Canada. He was in the West of Ireland last autumn, and he must say that of all the nations of Europe they were the most unfitted to emigrate. What were they to expect from people living in those miserable cabins that they were only able to live in, because the summers and winters were mild. How were they to expect those people, who hitherto had not shown over much energy, to go through the seven months of severe winter in Manitoba? He confessed that he had doubts as to whether they would succeed. In Minnesota the Scandinavians, Norwegians, and Swedes, who were accustomed to work and who had indomitable perseverance, had got on with considerable success. It was only the best of the Irish people who could succeed there. Therefore, ho very much distrusted the proposal of allowing the Government of Canada to have the people of the West of Ireland. He did not feel disposed to press the Amendment if the Government did not accept it.
In page 18, line 12, before the first word "The," to insert the words "On obtaining sufficient security for the repayment of moneys advanced under this section."—(Sir George Campbell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. NORTHCOTE
said, he had no objection to the insertion of the words of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. The reason he had risen was because he was connected with Companies in Manitoba and Minnesota owning altogether some 681 30,000,000 acres, and after the insinuation and the charge which the hon. Member had made with regard to land jobbing by people in the North West, he thought it was due to the gentlemen with whom he was associated to say that they on their part would certainly not be guilty of anything in the nature of land jobbing; and when he told the Committee that they sold their land at the price of 5s. per acre, the fact of so much land being in the market at that rate did not afford very general scope for land jobbing. He should like to say one word upon the Emigration Clause; and, speaking for himself, he should be very sorry if the Government Land Bill suggested emigration as the sole remedy for distress. He certainly thought that it would not be a statesmanlike act at all if they found no other remedy for Irish distress than by taking people out of the country. He hoped that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland would not continue their hostility to this clause to the bitter end, because this clause was really in the nature of an alternative. By another part of the Bill which they had just been discussing, the option was given to the Irish tenant to stay at home and cultivate those reclaimable lands, of which it was stated, and of which he entertained no doubt, that there were many thousands, or perhaps millions, of acres in Ireland. But he could not see why hon. Gentlemen could entertain any objection to the alternative being offered to the labourer if he wished to transfer his labour to another country. It was merely an alternative; and, certainly, even if it were possible to enforce or compel emigration, he did not suppose that any British Government would attempt to force people to emigrate. There was one remark which the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir George Campbell) made in which he agreed to a very considerable extent, and that was in the warning which he addressed to Her Majesty's Government, that they should not send out the extreme paupers—the very poor Irish, who, perhaps, had not been accustomed to work, but who had picked up a living as they could—and ship them off bodily without making any provision for them, because they might perish in the undoubtedly somewhat severe climate of Manitoba. He thought that it would be very necessary indeed that in advances under those clauses Her 682 Majesty's Government should take great care to use every precaution to ascertain that proper steps and proper arrangements would be made when they reached the other side for the receiving of them in any part of Canada to which they might be going. As a matter of fact, the hon. Gentleman (Sir George Campbell) had somewhat over-coloured his statement, because he himself was connected with a Company in Minnesota in which there was a considerable number of Irish emigrants; and although it was quite true that they did not thrive so well, or earn such high wages as Scandinavians, he was informed that their position was improving every year, and was materially better than it was in their own country. He wished to say one word on the general question of emigration. He thought it was very important indeed that, in any steps which the Government took, they should provide as far as possible, not merely for the emigration of young men and young women, but for assisting the emigration of whole families or districts. It seemed to him that the reason was very obvious, and it was very desirable that the natural pang of leaving their native land should be in every way possible softened; and he could see no readier way of softening that pang than by having their parents, or neighbours and friends going to a more prosperous clime to renew the old associations of youth. Although it might not be, economically, the most prudent thing to do, on political grounds he thought it was most desirable that families, or districts even, should be assisted to emigrate; and he must confess that he should be very glad indeed if the native pastors could be induced to accompany them. It was said that emigration should be discountenanced on account of the commercial loss to the country. Although it was quite possible that the value of an emigrant to Canada or the United States might be £100, more or loss, that did not at all represent his value to the country which he left, because in Ireland a man who had to live on charity was of no commercial value. He begged to thank the Committee for having heard him. He only got up on account of the charge made by the hon. Gentleman opposite, which he was very anxious to disclaim on behalf of those with whom he was connected. He should 683 give this clause his most cordial support, and he trusted that most beneficial results would flow from it.
I must point out that I am not keeping hon. Members closely to the Amendments, because there are only two or three Amendments to the whole clause, and they all involve similar principles, and if I were to be as strict as usual we should have the discussion too prolonged.
§ MR. RATHBONE
had not hitherto said a word on this subject. He wished very much to appeal to the Irish Members in the House with whom he had so often acted. He had been interested and actually engaged in the relief of Irish distress from 1847 to the present time. And he ventured to say, in looking back, that no money that he had spent or seen spent, and no labour that had been given, bad, to his mind, produced more permanent and real good, both to the labourer on whom it was spent, the country from which they were sent, and the country to which they went, than the money which was spent judiciously and carefully in emigration. He appealed to Irish Members not to oppose this system of emigration, but to insist that proper regulations should be adopted, and care taken, in order that it might be of benefit to Ireland. He entirely agreed with the opposition that had been raised by Catholic priests and by religious men of all denominations against a certain kind of emigration that had gone forward. The poor Irishman was taken from his country, where he had been half-starved, and he was put into a large town in America, where he had high wages and cheap spirits. It was not in human nature that a man should not lose both his morality and his religion under such circumstances; and he considered that the pastors were perfectly right in opposing emigration so long as it took that form. There was a great deal of attention being given to the subject of emigration; and some of the best Irishmen, though they differed from him in politics, would be willing to follow the leadership of Mr. Kavanagh to establish a sytem of emigration in which the religious pastors of those who emigrated should either accompany their emigrants, or that provision should be made on the shores of America against their being exposed to the dreadful peril both to their religion and morality. Surely, 684 when they looked at the state of the Irish people at home and in America, there would not be an Irish Member who would not join in trying to remedy the evil that existed. In Liverpool, during the last Famine, they sent the best men they could find to investigate how they could be most useful. They sent them to Galway and Donegal and other parts, and they were accompanied by one of the ablest men he knew—Father Nugent, a Catholic priest in Liverpool. What did those men report? They said they could save the people from suffering by emigration; but if they gave them the whole land of Donegal they could not live decently. Under their advice, and out of the fund which Father Nugent had collected, they sent 800 people from Donegal and the neighbourhood to America. They were consigned to the charge of the Bishop of the district, and these poor fellows, from starvation in Donegal, found a house and 160 acres of land, with a guarantee of a dollar a-day until their crops were ready. Did they wish to stop these poor fellows going from where they were poor and a source of poverty to others to a country where they would be rich, and a source of riches, and where they would be in the charge of those very pastors to whom they were so much attached. He appealed to Irish Members not to stop this beneficent work, but to aid them in taking care that they should so act that the men's bodies as well as their souls should be benefited.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he had carefully looked at this clause, and it certainly was one which had astonished him; for a more imperfect and worse-drawn clause he had never read. It described nothing. It did not tell them what was to be done. There was no scheme of emigration, which was the one thing that everybody had looked to for the salvation of the Western portions of Ireland. They had a right to ask the Government whether behind this clause they had not got some scheme; and he would ask the Chief Secretary, or the Prime Minister, or anyone of the Government who had studied this question, what the scheme was by which emigration was to be conducted for relieving the Western portions of Ireland from that chronic state of semi-starvation which always existed there, because without it the Bill would do 685 no good whatever. He was not going into the question; but he would state that there was not one Irishman who would deny that the greatest relief that could be conferred upon Ireland would be that some hundreds of thousands of people in the Western portions of Ireland should be placed elsewhere that on those farms where they now were. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had stated that there were over 250,000 tenants holding farms of less than four acres, on which it was impossible for them to live. What were they going to do with these people? The Government of Canada and other Governments would take nobody but able-bodied men and able-bodied women; they were not going to take families who would go out there and be of no use to them. What they had got to do was to have a proper and well-constituted Emigration Board, who would be able to overlook the districts, and be guided by circumstances as to who should emigrate, and then consolidate the holdings, so that the people might be able to live on them. They ought not to pass this clause now without having come to some determination that it should be a clause for the purposes for which it was intended—namely, the relief of that ever-growing distress which they found continuously amounting almost to perpetual famine in the Western portions of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman would not attempt to deny it, or for one moment admit, that this clause contained all that was necessary. It seemed to him that this clause was an after-thought and a makeshift. There was no scheme of emigration, and there really ought to be a definite scheme, showing what ought to be done. Until this was accomplished by the Government, they would have done but little to stay those dangers which would be perpetual, and would be ever recurring.
Undoubtedly the clause contains no scheme of emigration, and I do not think that it ought to contain a scheme of emigration. I do not think that the Government ought to undertake the management and promotion of a scheme of emigration for Ireland; and, therefore, I do distinctly intimate to the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that, so far as his ideas go, we are not prepared to carry them out, except to a very 686 limited extent. Not that we are not able to enter into them at all, because I am prepared to admit that there are words to be put into this clause, and such words as my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Rathbone) has suggested. They are a development of the words in the clause already; but I do not hesitate to say they are a development which may be necessary. A portion of the clause declares that the agreements shall be made with the concurrence of the Treasury. And the Commission on such agreements shall contain provisions relative to the mode of the application of the loans, and securing the repayment thereof to the Commission, and for other purposes. Under the words "application of the loans," and under the words, "and for other purposes," the intention is to convey that the Commission is not to look simply to the fact that certain solvent and capable bodies, whether they be Governments or whether they be Companies, are about to undertake the transport of emigrants over the sea, but that the Commission is to be responsible for the propriety, morality, and generally satisfactory conduct of these arrangements. To that extent the clause is intended to go—beyond that extent it is not intended to go; and I should, for one, and the Government would distinctly object to any scheme which would unquestionably give to the people of Ireland the notion—perhaps the more than plausible notion—that the Government entertained plans and desires of something like the depopulation of that country. On that point I have only to say that we consider that the securing the interests of the emigrants to be within the proper purview of the Commission. With regard to the Amendment before us, I own that I do not see any necessity for it. I think that if my hon. Friend will examine the clause more closely, he will find that the clause gives power to the Commission to make provisions relative to the maintenance of the loan as well as its application and securing repayment of the loan, and has no reference at all to the transactions with Companies or with the Governments. I have no objection at all in principle to his words, nor do I think that they will do any harm; but I believe that they are provided for in the clause as it stands. As to the clause generally, I need not describe it more 687 particularly than I did last night. I think I may say a word as to the spirit in which the Government have introduced this clause. They did not think themselves justified in entirely overlooking emigration, and they did it with the intention which I have again signified of carefully listening and allowing very great weight to the deliberate expression of the judgment and opinions of the generality of Irish Members without distinction or Party or section. What we want is a reasonable expression of opinion by those who certainly have, upon the whole, a greater capacity to judge than we possess on this subject. One hon. Member said that the Canadian Government would not be disposed to take anyone but able-bodied persons. Now, upon that subject, I entirely concur with what has been said by the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Northcote). Emigration of this kind, if it were limited absolutely to families, would not do, because there would be cases in which a Man might not have a family, and there would be some men who would not emigrate with families; but, unquestionably, we should not object to the insertion of words for the purpose of showing that the emigration of families was the principal idea. I must say that it was with great pain that I heard imputed to the Government the entertaining of some latent scheme for getting rid of the Irish people. I wish to disclaim any such thing. I must say that reason and common sense would show that, if we had no other desire in our minds than to see the people of Ireland cleared off the soil of Ireland, we might have contrived some better and some less cumbrous process than emigration. [Mr. HEALY: Buckshot.] Well, as to that expression from a single Member, I do not think that I ought to notice it. I do not know who it was gave utterance to it; but I trust that in his more sober moments he will regret having allowed such an expression to escape his lips. Sir, the sort of emigration, undoubtedly, that we supposed must arise under a clause of this kind is organized emigration. I may say highly organized emigration—emigration of the kind described by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Exeter—certainly of families, or even of labourers, in a district, and possibly of communities; and if of communities, then, probably, in no 688 way could it be so beneficial as under the guidance or companionship and assistance of their pastors. It appears to many of us that there will be a great many faults to find, if hon. Members attempt prematurely to canvass all the several provisions of this Bill; and I do object to any assumption now as to the likelihood that a clause of this kind may operate largely or narrowly. We have endeavoured to place it so that if it does operate largely, it shall operate only in conformity with the perfectly free will of the people themselves; and every other security that can be supplied will be taken for the well-being of those who emigrate. There is one point on which I must own there is some scruple in my mind. Voluntary emigration from Ireland now is the emigration which we have no desire to promote; and I do not think it is desirable for us to promote it, but we ought not factiously to object, and there is a consideration which we ought to weigh, and upon which I should be glad to have the opinion of those better informed than myself—namely, that the intervention of the Government, and the offer of the Government to do or even assist in doing certain things, may have a certain amount of tendency to prevent private persons from applying themselves and their own resources to the doing of that thing. I do not dwell upon that matter at the present moment; but what I say is, that it is perfectly worthy of dispassionate consideration on this clause. With regard to the Government of Canada, it is certainly quite inaccurate to suppose that the efforts made by the Government of Canada, as far as they were in our knowledge, contemplate in any way that mere emigration of the labourers, which hon. Gentlemen justly view with misgiving and disapproval. The language of the Government of Canada, as far as it has gone, and it has not reached anything like a matured or practical scheme, undoubtedly proceeds entirely upon the supposition, first of all, of the emigration of families; and, secondly, of the location of these families upon plots of land under a combined system which would keep them together in Canada as in. Ireland. Now, Sir, with regard to the imputation of our desire to depopulate Ireland, I will speak for myself, and make the frank confession that I am not one of those who view with satis- 689 faction the decrease in numbers of any population. I wish to see man increase and multiply upon the earth, and not to see him dwindle and pass away. It is very satisfactory to me to consider that there is no country in Europe in which greater progress towards a tolerable state of physical life, or even so great progress towards such a state, among the poorer part of the population, has been made during the last 30 years as in Ireland. But I must confess that the feeling is greatly dashed and qualified in my mind when I consider that it is accompanied by such a vast removal of the population—not a removal in the strict sense of the word, but still involuntary from its being due, in an enormous proportion, to the pressure of want, such as constitutes something like a necessity. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the jealousy of some Irish Members. I think they are right in a desire to see their own people happy at home instead of seeing them happy abroad. We are doing what we can towards making them happy at home; but in doing so we know very well what are the delays and what the obstacles to the accomplishment even of the best conducted schemes of human legislation; and, therefore, we do not feel justified in entirely shutting the door upon plans which, pending the period when the population of Ireland may be in a satisfactory condition at home, we may give a good alternative, such as is described by my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Rathbone), of finding a comfort abroad which they cannot find in their own land. I think this is, upon the whole, not a very unfair view of the temper in which we have endeavoured to approach this subject. There can be no greater mistake than to suppose that we, at least, consider that this is a primary portion of the Bill, and much more would it be a mistake to suppose that it is a portion of the Bill which was intended to be a cover to the rest of the Bill. This is an important portion of the Bill; but the primary object of the Bill is to secure the people of Ireland comfort and happiness upon their own soil. This, if I may so, is the wicket-gate compared with the portal, that the emigration may be said, in our view, to supply. Upon that subject, in all its bearings, we shall be very glad to hear what may be the view of the Committee, and the view 690 of Irish Members in particular; and certainly, as far as our knowledge goes, my hope and my expectation are that any jealousies that are entertained of the specific provision in this clause we shall succeed in disarming, and that this matter may not be the subject of painful division between those who represent Ireland and those who, from outside, desire and endeavour to promote the welfare of Ireland; and, further, that the provisions of the clause, as they require it, will receive the general and even speedy assent of all portions of the Committee.
said, he could not join his hon. Friends in their opposition to the clause. He saw nothing objectionable in the proposals of the Government. Supposing this Bill was to become law, and this clause was to remain part of it, emigration would still continue to be in Ireland the same voluntary act it had hitherto been. No one had ever thought of protesting; no one could ever think of protesting against emigration when the means of emigration had been provided by the friends and relatives of the people; and he was at a loss to understand how the effect of emigration could become more injurious because the State stepped in and did that which had hitherto been done by others. Those who remitted money to their friends and relatives to enable them to emigrate had done so from a desire to take them away from want and misery to places where their lives might be spent under more agreeable conditions; and he, for one, was perfectly satisfied that Her Majesty's Government were actuated by the best of motives. [Cries of "Oh!"] No one felt more sorrow than he did when he saw the people going towards the emigrant ship; but, nevertheless, he would not feel himself justified in saying to them—"Do not go to where you will find plenty and more comfortable homes; but remain here and be half starved while I and others are trying to work out a political problem which may possibly some day afford you relief." Probably many Members of the House were Poor Law Guardians, and they must have seen men coming before their respective Boards asking for assistance; and they must have noticed how cruel and stingy the Board of Guardians were considered when they refused to grant 691 assistance and were unwilling to give aid out of the rates by inaugurating a system which, if carried to its fullest extent, must ultimately lead to the absorption of the Union rates. He was convinced that the provisions of the Bill would only be made available by the people under the pressure of extreme necessity; and he, for one, would be sorry to deny them the relief that would be offered to them by this portion of the Bill, without being able to offer them an equivalent in the shape of migration. But as to migration, he had always looked upon it as utterly impracticable, because if they migrated the farming class they must dispossess the tenants in districts to which the removal was to take place; and if they migrated the labourers, then he ventured to say there was not a single district in Ireland which did not already possess more labourers than they were able to find employment for. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would adhere to this clause, because his conviction was that it would be regarded by the Irish people as a wise and benificent provision.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
wished to say a few words in reply to the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). He had recently been in Canada, and he had endeavoured, as far as possible, to ascertain the opinion of the people there in regard to the condition of the country. He had received his information from officials. Perhaps hon. Members from Ireland might think that those officials were interested in the matter; and, therefore, before stating what the official information which he had received was and expressing an opinion upon it, he would ask the Committee to give him its indulgence while he read some passages from a letter written by the son of a small Irish tenant who went out to Minnesota some time ago, and who had written to friends of his own class in Ireland.
§ MR. BIGGAR
rose to a point of Order. He wished to ask whether this 692 particular clause could be introduced into a Bill of this kind, as he held it to be entirely contrary to the Preamble of the Bill. The Preamble said that this was a Bill "To further amend the Law relating to the Occupation and Ownership of Land in Ireland, and for other purposes relating thereto." He spoke with due deference; but he was of opinion that the question of emigration, and provisions of that class, had nothing whatever to do with the occupation or ownership of land in Ireland, or any other purpose appertaining thereto.
I must point out to the hon. Member that, in the first place, there is no Preamble to the Bill at all; and, with regard to the title of the Bill, it distinctly says—"For other purposes relating thereto." The noble Lord is, therefore, perfectly in Order.
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, that the letter to which he had referred contained the following passages:—I have got b along pretty well; have secured a nice home for my family, and am glad to say we are happy and content, living on one of my farms, where I built a nice farm-house and offices, &c., four miles from town, in a beautiful prairie country, having abundance of game in the season. I have, at the end of the year, severed my connection with the Railway Company, and I hope to get along in future my own boss. Without exception, this is the finest country in the world for a man having energy, common sense, and brains, to come to. The only drawback is the cold, long winter. The country is fast settling up, scarcely a farm now to be had, where there were hundreds when I came here. I have managed to secure a little over 500 acres of choice land, one of my farms being situated on a beautiful river, where I can kill all the ducks and geese from my window. I have about 100 acres ready to crop with wheat, oats, &c., in spring; and should I be so fortunate as to get a good crop, it will leave me a profit of about 2,000 dollars. Our grain can rarely be sown before the 10th of May, and is ready for cutting early in August. Wheat yields from 20 to 30 bushels to the acre, and oats about 30. It cost me nearly 2,000 dollars for my horses, cattle, and implements, and 600 dollars for my house; but a few good seasons will clear all. I wish to God I saw you and family settled in this fine country. I see by the papers that they have poor times in our old home. I only wish I saw a good many of them here, and not to fool their time and money as they are doing where they never can be better off; and should you see any deserving fellow in search of a home, drop mo a line, I may be able to assist him in getting work. Hoping soon to hear from you, I am, &c.
§ An hon. MEMBER asked the date of the letter.693
§ VISCOUNT LYMINGTON
said, the date of it was January, 1881. In regard to the growth of the country, he might give a few facts which he had obtained from the Prime Minister of Manitoba indicative of the very rapid development of that country. In 1872 there was at Emerson scarcely a house. The population of that town was at present over 1,500. At Winnipeg, in 1870, there was a population of 2,000, which had now grown to between 10,000 and 12,000. Throughout Manitoba there was a very excellent Municipal Government, consisting of a Municipal Council and a presiding officer, elected by the ratepayers, which settled the rates levied on the property in each district. Although he had no desire to detain the Committee, he would further mention the fact that a scheme had been drawn up by which the cultivation of the land was insured. That scheme proposed to offer to each emigrant 160 acres of land and to enable him, by paying a fee of £2, to acquire the right of purchasing another 160 acres. The only fees he would be charged were two of £2, one on allotment, and a second on application to purchase additional land. The officials calculated that the amount of money that would be necessary in order to pay the expenses of a family from this country, and place them on the land in the North-West of Canada, would be from £80 to £100. This sum would include cost of removal, small outfit, cost of shelter on the land and subsistence until the head of the family could support them by wages, which he could obtain at the present time in constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway. His only object in speaking, having no personal interest in Canada or in emigration, had been to show that this country in the North West was an exceedingly fertile country, and a country upon which Irishmen had already been largely located; and, further, that if it was the desire of the Irish people in future to emigrate with their families to this country, and the Government were willing to assist them, and to make the emigration as cheap and commodious as possible, it would be most unfair that any obstacle should be placed in the way of the Government in carrying out that object.
§ MR. O'KELLY
said, he had listened with some interest to the statement which 694 had been made by the noble Lord who had just sat down (Viscount Lymington). The noble Lord had described Manitoba from the prospectuses of persons who were interested in land there. The noble Lord had told them what the land was capable of producing. He admitted that Manitoba was one of the richest territories in the world; but he wished to know what was the use of a rich territory where there was no communication with it. The noble Lord told them that farmers who went there found extremely rich tracts of land; but the Irish peasant, who was in the habit of living in a temperate climate, in going to Manitoba, would find himself in a climate where the beat in summer was 120 degrees in the shade, and in winter 40 degrees below zero. The noble Lord had spoken of Manitoba and Minnesota as if they were practically the same country. Now, there was this difference. From Manitoba there was no outlet, while from Minnesota there was a railway connected with the whole civilized world and the best markets of America and Europe. That made a very great deal of difference. [A laugh.] Hon. Members who laughed knew nothing about the matter, and were simply exhibiting their own ignorance. He was not an opponent of emigration; on the contrary, he was in favour of judicious emigration. He had never concealed the fact that there were many parts of the world which ought to be opened out to the intelligent labourer. But he would not be a party to sending the Irish people into a waste of snow during seven months of the year, and during the remainder a waste of burning sand, which could find no parallel except in the Desert of Sahara in Northern Africa. It was a place compared with which the climate of the Amazon was a heaven. He had had the advantage of travelling through these regions, and he knew what he was speaking about. What had been done with reference to the Colony by Father Nugent? He had always given to Father Nugent the credit of possessing the very best intentions. The people taken by Father Nugent from Connemara were left at Minnesota. But they were sent out without experience and without the capital necessary to establish them upon farms. Many of them were put down upon prairies that, under favourable 695 conditions, could have been converted into productive farms; but when these unfortunate people found themselves on these prairies, without means, without money, without food, and with no sufficient shelter when the winter came, about 30 per cent of them were frostbitten, and many of them died of hunger and starvation, in spite of the protecting arm of the man whom he regarded as one of the best men in America—Bishop Ireland, of Minnesota. That right rev. Prelate threw over the people the protecting shield of his influence. He helped them with his money; but, in view of the large number of persons he had to make provision for, it was too much for his resources, and he was unable to give adequate protection to that small and miserable Colony. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Exeter (Mr. Northcote) told them that there were some 30,000,000 acres waiting to be colonized. The hon. Gentleman spoke simply on behalf of the executive of the Northern Pacific Railroad and in the interest of speculators, and of persons who cared nothing for what became of the people whom they induced to go to this land. Under proper conditions, it was a fair and proper field of emigration; but in order to make it a fair and proper field of emigration, they must place men upon it with capital—men who were suited to the Northern climates, who were accustomed to bear the cold of winter and the heat of summer, and not poor, miserable people without money, without clothes, and without any proper protection from the severity of the climate, otherwise the emigrants would perish miserably. If this Emigration Clause were intended to put the people upon the Eastern lands of Virginia, or to place them in Texas or Kansas, where they could live and work and hope to survive, he would be a most strenuous supporter of it; but when they told him that the object of the clause was to send the Irish people to perish in Manitoba, then he declared that he would oppose the clause to the utmost of his power—not because he was opposed to emigration, but because he was opposed to badly-conducted and badly-considered emigration. The reason that he said this scheme was intended for the benefit of Manitoba was this—the only parts of Canada that were worth living in were those parts that 696 were situated along the shores of the St. Lawrence; but they had long been taken up, and they were no longer open to emigration; and emigrants going from this country could no longer place themselves there. Even the old dwellers in Canada were crossing the river by thousands every year in order to seek a home in a thoroughly free country. He did not know whether any Member of the House had ever crossed the St. Lawrence. If he had he would know the difference there was between one bank of the river and the other. He had only to cross the river to find the wide distinction that existed between the two Governments and the two people, although there was apparently nothing to divide the one people from the other. Nevertheless, on the one side of the river there was a miserable territory occupied principally by Native French Canadians; and on the other a flourishing and prosperous country under the Government of the United States. Day by day the inhabitants of Canada were pouring into the United States by thousands; and yet it was proposed by Her Majesty's Government to send the people of Ireland across the Atlantic to supply in Canada the place of the native population who were deserting it, and who, like rats, were leaving the sinking ship. Under these circumstances, he would support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy.
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he agreed that this proposal was one of the most important in the Bill. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) told the Committee last night that there were 360,000 holdings in Ireland, of a class on which the so-called farmers held farms of a less annual value than £8. Did any hon. Member suppose that any legislation could provide for such a class of people? Personally, he did not believe that it was possible, and he thought that the Report of the Richmond Commission, which had been so often quoted in that House, was fully justified in asserting that no course which Parliament could take could make adequate provision for the prosperity of tenants in such a miserable condition. Indeed, if they were offered the fee simple of the land they occupied, without paying anything for it at all, they would always be found in the wretched state they were now occupying whenever a bad season 697 occurred. He thought the Committee laboured under great disadvantage in having the question discussed by hon. Gentlemen who knew very little either of agriculture, of the value of land, or the condition of the small occupiers. He was himself quite at home upon those points, having had considerable experience for many years, and he was able to give information in regard to the position of a number of persons who had emigrated from his own property some time ago. He had made a visit in Canada in order to renew his acquaintance with them, and he had spent some time in that country; and, notwithstanding what the hon. Gentleman who had last addressed the Committee (Mr. O'Kelly) said, the Irish settlers who had emigrated there were living in contentment. In point of fact, the characteristic of their condition which struck him most was the spirit of contentment that universally prevailed among them. The hon. Gentleman asserted that the emigrants who were sent to Canada very rapidly passed over into the United States. And why should they not do so? If they preferred to go to Virginia, where a great number of his own neighbours had gone, he saw no reason why they should not do so. The hon. Member seemed to think that the provisions of this clause should not be made applicable to our own Dependencies. Our own Dependencies had a vast area susceptible of improvement by cultivation, and capable of sustaining the whole population of Ireland; and his experience was this, that no legislation could make adequate provision in Ireland for the population that were dependent upon that country until they had reduced their number and consolidated their holdings. He believed that the Bill would have a tendency to consolidate holdings by inducing the small tenants to sell their tenant right as a preliminary step towards emigrating. He had no doubt that that would be the effect of the Bill, and that a considerable number of the smaller tenants would emigrate. He did not suppose that very great advantages would accrue from the creation of a vast number of peasant proprietors. As he had said, he looked upon this as a most important matter, and his object in addressing the Committee now was to express his opinion of the contentment of some of the small occupiers who bad emigrated from 698 Scotland and Ireland, and settled in various parts of Canada. He had visited them there, and lived among them for some weeks; and he went there with no other object than to ascertain for himself the condition of the people who had gone out from his own estates. That was only about 12 years ago, and he had induced them to tell him their circumstances. They were prosperous then, and ho believed they were going on as prosperously as ever. Further than that, they had no feeling towards this country but one of affection, and they desired to do all the good they could to the "old country," as they termed it. Under these circumstances, he trusted that the clause, with such Amendments as the Government might see fit to accept, would be speedily agreed to by the Committee.
said, he would not trouble the Committee with many observations. The noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Lymington) seemed to him to have intervened in the debate for the purpose of advertising the great merits for the purposes of colonization of Manitoba. The noble Lord seemed to have encountered an adversary on that side of the House who desired to run Minnesota against Manitoba, and they had had a somewhat lively debate in consequence. As the Chairman had not presumed to interfere in order to prevent the discussion, he supposed the matter was in some way which he did not understand relevant to the Question before the Committee. His object, however, was to point out to the Committee the difficulties which an English Member felt in accepting the clause. He did not in the least doubt the liberal intentions of Her Majesty's Government towards the people of Ireland in proposing the clause, and he did not doubt that there were people in Ireland to whom emigration, if carried out by voluntary societies, or even by Government assistance, would be a great boon. But what he had failed to see at all in the speech of the Prime Minister, which he had carefully listened to, what it failed to inform him upon was what was the benefit the people of the United Kingdom were to receive from the deportation of part of the population of Ireland. There was this remarkable peculiarity about the clause under discussion—that the money to be voted would come out of the pockets of the 699 taxpayers of the United Kingdom. All the advances which were made by the Land Commission under the other clauses of the Bill, although they might be paid, in the first instance, out of the pockets of the taxpayers, would ultimately be recouped from Irish funds. Therefore, in every other clause of the Bill, although the credit of the United Kingdom might be pledged for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Bill, yet the payment would ultimately be made out of the resources of Ireland. But in this particular clause the payments made to the emigration societies would come firstly and lastly out of the pockets of the taxpayers. ["No!"] He should like to know out of what other source they could come. What, however, he wished to ask was, what were the advantages the taxpayers of the United Kingdom were to derive from the deportation of a part of the Irish people, and what should induce them to vote the taxes of the United Kingdom for the purpose of carrying out such a project? It was no answer to say that emigration was for the interests of the Irish labourer himself. About that there might be a good deal of difference of opinion. He had himself been in the Colonies, and he had brought away from the Colonies a very high idea of the advantages of emigration to the ordinary unskilled labourer. But he thought that skilled labourers should think twice before they carried their skill to a Colony. If he himself were a mere unskilled agricultural labourer, he would only consent to remain in the United Kingdom long enough to scrape together money to carry him away to a Colony. ["Oh!"] That, at any rate, was his opinion. Many other people, no doubt, had other opinions; but he believed that a great deal that was said about emigration was nonsense. Very often when a man took himself off to Australia or New Zealand, when he got there he found that he would have been very much better off if he had stayed at home. He could very well understand that emigration was of very great value to a Colony itself. The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Northcote) said that every emigrant was worth £100 to the Colony. That might be so, and if an emigrant was of such great value to the Colony, the Colony would be perfectly justified in spending its taxes in the introduction of emigrants. But in 700 order to justify us in spending our money, it must be proved that we gained something by sending our labourers out of the country. What did we gain? Somebody had talked about starving labourers. Now, starving labourers would be chargeable on the Unions or the parishes to which they belonged; and if the people were starving in the West of Ireland, and there was no other way of relieving them except emigration, it might be economical for the Unions or the parishes to send this starving population out of the country. But what did the nation gain by sending them out of the country? If these people were capable of being made peaceable and orderly citizens of the United Kingdom, we lost our subjects, and a country was rich and powerful according to its population. Therefore, if we lessened the population of the United Kingdom by sending the labourers away, it did not matter whether it was to Canada or the United States, if they were capable of becoming orderly and law-abiding citizens, we thereby weakened our strength; and what we were really asked to do was to expend the taxes of the United Kingdom in weakening the strength of the Empire. As long as the Irish labourers remained in Ireland, they were the producers of part of the wealth of the country. Every piece of bread produced, every potato grown, all the wheat and agricultural produce that these men might raise in Ireland, Ireland was so much the poorer for if these men went away to America. And they were, moreover, the consumers of our produce. A rich, prosperous, and contented population in Ireland would increase the riches and prosperity of our manufacturing industries. It therefore appeared to him that however much it might be for the advantage of the labourer himself and of the Colony to which he went, for every Irishman they sent out of the country the United Kingdom was so much the poorer.
I wish to point out that the hon. and learned Member is wandering entirely away from the Question. The hon. and learned Member is now speaking against the clause as a whole and not upon the Amendment.
said, if it was in Order for the Prime Minister to speak in favour of the clause, surely he was entitled to speak against it.
I must point out to the hon. and learned Member that the difference is this—that although he has a perfect right to speak against the clause as soon as it is proposed that it shall stand part of the Bill, he is not in Order in speaking against it upon an Amendment which applies to a part of it only. In the case of the Prime Minister he explained the bearings of his Amendment upon the clause, and he was in Order.
said, he really must object to the ruling of the Chair. ["Order!"] And, without desiring to be out of Order, he wished respectfully to explain to the Chairman that he did not intend to oppose the clause, but was rather asking for information from the Government upon it.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
rose to Order. He wished to know if it was not competent for any Member of the Committee to speak against the clause until the Question of putting the clause as a whole was submitted to the Committee? Must a Member who was opposed to the clause be silent during the whole discussion of the Amendments, until the Question was put to the Committee that the clause stand part of the Bill?
I have already explained that I have difficulty on this occasion in following the ordinary Rules of Committee. The ordinary Rule of Committee is to confine themselves to the Amendment before the Committee. I have explained to the Committee that there were only five Amendments originally on this clause, and that all of them involved the same principle. Therefore, I could not entirely keep hon. Members to the Amendment immediately before the Committee. But, at the same time, any person who wishes to oppose the clause as a whole ought to wait until the Question is put that the clause stand part of the Bill.
said, he was anxious to reply to the observations of the Prime Minister; but he now understood that he would be out of Order in doing so. He would, therefore, content himself with inviting the Prime Minister to supplement the extremely interesting speech which he had made to the Committee by pointing out to him (Mr. Gorst), who represented taxpayers of England, what those whom he represented would gain, and how they would be benefited, 702 so that he should be justified in voting that their taxes should be spent in that way. He absolutely failed to see how the people of this country were to be benefited by any part of the population of Ireland, who were capable of being turned into industrious, law-abiding subjects of the country, being sent away out of the country at the public expense.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he had listened with great interest to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), and he confessed that he heard with some surprise the doctrines which had been laid down to the Committee. His hon. and learned Friend asked how it could be of advantage to the country that persons who were capable of contributing to the riches, power, and strength of the nation should be induced to emigrate? That was a question that might fairly be asked; but the real question they ought to ask was—how could these people, living under circumstances in which for years past they had been totally unable to earn their living, and who, instead of being a source of riches, content, and power to the country, had been a source of weakness and a drain on the resources of the country, requiring year after year the country to step out of the course usually prescribed to an Executive Government, and make advances for the purpose of keeping them alive—the question was, how could such a people best be benefited? The Report of the Commissioners showed that it was impossible for the wretched inhabitants of the West of Ireland to exist in a manner that was creditable to the country unless something was done to afford them relief, and unless they had some larger sphere accorded to them for their labour? Then, what was the Parliament of this country to do? There was only one of two things open, either migration or emigration. All those who were acquainted with the circumstances of Ireland knew how extremely difficult any scheme of migration must be. It would not only be necessary to get rid of the tenants in possession, but it would be necessary to incur a costly system of removal in order to place those unfortunate people in a position to earn their own living. An objection had been taken that the expense of emigration was to be incurred at the cost of the British taxpayer. He 703 should decidedly object to a large grant of money being given at the cost of the British taxpayer for the promotion of any system of emigration; but, as he read the clause, there was to be no charge ultimately on the British taxpayer. The Land Commission was to enter into an agreement, with the concurrence of the Treasury, and every precaution would be taken that security should be had for the repayment to the last farthing of the sum advanced, and the loans would be made payable at such a rate of interest, and within such a period, as was directed by the Act. He was not ordinarily a supporter of the recommendations of Her Majesty's Government, and he was not a supporter of this Bill; but ho could not conceive any provision which was calculated more to improve the condition of the Irish people. The clause, properly worked out, would tend to restore prosperity and improve the condition of the unhappy population of Ireland, who might ultimately expect to become prosperous inhabitants of our Colonies, and customers to this country, because every man who attained a position of prosperity in Australia, or Canada, or New Zealand, would be a customer of this country, and would add to the strength and resources of the Empire, tending to keep in employment, and at better wages, those who remained at home. He confessed that he should look with great regret upon any course which would have the effect of withdrawing from this measure one of its few redeeming features.
§ MR. MACDONALD
said, he had entertained the hope that this clause would not have been pressed by Her Majesty's Government, and that hope had been founded on the generous remarks which had been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister last evening. He regretted, however, to find to-day that the clause was still pressed; and as he was not in the habit of making long speeches, he should ask the Committee to give him a little attention while he argued the question which had been raised by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). He regretted to see that they had had advertising speeches in favour of Manitoba; and advertising speeches in favour of the Canadian railways. He was afraid that the promoters of those speculations went there with 704 unclean hands from an unclean nest. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy asked that they should have security. Where was the security to be got? He was old enough to remember, 45 years ago, when a body of men numbering some 400 persons went to Nova Scotia; and although they had signed bonds and documents for their passages and employment when they reached America, in less than four months most of them had made tracks and were on their way back again. It was then found that they had no security for the payments they had made. He had known many societies formed in the United States in which the Members agreed to contribute towards the assistance of each other; but the moment they got to the United States they dissolved partnership, and the bond of agreement they had entered into was worth less than the paper upon which it was written, seeing that the people who were parties to it disappeared altogether. They were now asked to send the poorer classes of the Irish population to Canada; and he should like to know if the Government had taken upon themselves the duty of advertising agents to the Canadian Government, in order to induce whole families of the Irish people to go out to an inhospitable climate—so inhospitable, that it made most hon. Members shiver when they thought of it. He should like to ask Her Majesty's Government how many of the engagements that were made in England were ratified in Toronto and Montreal? How much of the money that was agreed to be advanced was ever paid, and where were the persons to be found who consented to emigrate? He ventured to say that the great mass of them would be found in the United States. There was no following them, for they got rid of their engagements and went into the United States. He looked upon this proposal not only as vicious, but as immoral in the highest sense of the word. It was immoral because it encouraged people to break the promises and engagements that they had entered into; and the Government that would consent to enforce it would only lead to the ruin of the people that they sent out. They were asked by the present clause to send out the people of Ireland to Canada. What was there in Canada to induce them to send the people Ireland there? If the people of Ireland were allowed to 705 have their own way when they left Ireland they would go to the United States. He was informed, on very good authority—that of an important official of the United States—that during the last 24 years more than £20,000,000 sterling had been sent to this country by persons who had emigrated from England and Ireland, in order to assist their relatives and friends in finding their way to America. He should very much like the Government to give a Return of the amount of money which had been spent in emigration, and he believed they could easily ascertain it from the books of the shipping companies. He should also like to know how much money had been sent from Canada in order to assist the people of this country in emigrating to that Province. He was fully able to corroborate the statement made by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. O'Kelly) that Canadian settlers were rapidly leaving the country. He had visited America more than once, and he was able to say that the rush of emigration from Liverpool, at certain seasons of the year, was nothing like the rush from Canada to Virginia and other parts of the United States, where there was real scope for the employment of the labouring classes, and where every man, no matter what his occupation might be, could find work. He strongly objected to the clause as it now stood. If they were going to permit emigration at all, he asked them not to confine it to Canada, but let it be to Australia, New Zealand, and even to Japan and China. It would be most objectionable to tie the emigrants to one spot, from which at this moment every person was flying. One word for the Conservative Party. The noble Earl opposite might smile now; but that smile would become something very different before long if emigration still went on. Thirty years ago America almost supplied her own wants, and during that period a large proportion of her population had gone on to the land in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and the Great West, increased means of transport had been provided, and the men they drove out of their agricultural districts, and out of their mining districts, by the low rate of wages, these men had found their new home in the West, and were supplying them with cheap wheat. The produce coming from those great Western plains would make their farming and their landed interest do other than smile 706 by-and-bye. He agreed with the Irish Members in their opposition to the Emigration Clause. Not that he was an enemy to emigration altogether; there were Colonies in the United States planted by himself or under his direction; but the men there went of their own free will, not at the luring of an emigration agent, not at the luring of a Colonial Government—they went under their own desire to be located in a free land among free people. He would only simply say he was altogether opposed to this Emigration Clause as a monopoly to be created in favour of the Canadian Government, in favour of bogus railways and swindling concerns.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, they had been invited to express their opinions by the Prime Minister, and that was his only reason for interposing. Looking at this Emigration Clause as part of a great scheme—as he would call the Bill—for the benefit of the people of Ireland, he entirely concurred in supporting the clause. He looked upon it as one means—the right hon. Gentleman had not put it forward as the principal means, but as a secondary and subsidiary means with the Reclamation Clause; the first means being, of course, the security of the occupier and increased means of purchase. What did this Emigration Clause propose to do? It merely enabled assistance to be given to a certain number of people desirous of emigrating, and who, but for that assistance, could not emigrate. Public opinion would not in the long run support those hon. Members, if there were any such, who offered an unreasonable opposition to this proposal. The present emigration had caused a good deal of alarm and concern in Ireland. That he admitted, and that it had assumed far too large proportions; but this would remain absolutely untouched by the Government proposal. The present emigrants consisted of the sons and daughters of the better class of farmers, and this class would continue to emigrate, and the assistance of the Government would have no possible effect on their going or staying. Take one of the present occupiers land in Ireland—say, of a farm of 40 or 50 acres. Say he had four or five sons on that farm, was it reasonable to suppose that two or three of those young men would remain at home, servants to their father while he lived, and liable to be turned adrift 707 by their elder brother when he succeeded to the farm? No; they would continue, as they had continued, to strike out a better career for themselves. But there were also numbers of people—families—who, if assisted, would make a fresh start in life, emigrate, and prosper. Much had been said during this discussion against Canada; but his experience—and he was there for seven or eight years, and visited a great many Irish settlements—was that the people there were most prosperous. It was an entire mistake to say the climate was bad. Cold in winter it was, no doubt; but it was not hotter in the summer than London now was. It was infinitely preferable to English and Irish people to the climate of the Southern States. Some hon. Members had alluded to the failure of the emigration from the West of Ireland in Minnesota. Well, that experiment failed because Father Nugent allowed the people to be chosen for him, and the selection was made of the poorest and most helpless. Bishop Ireland, in a letter he (Colonel Colthurst) had in his possession, said that if the people had been determined to work they would have thriven as Irish people from the towns and cities of the States were thriving. At the same time, this Colony was failing, and this failure was due to their improper selection. But this clause did not select; it was for those who came forward—it was for the assistance of those who were prepared to go, and only needed this assistance to carry out their intention. With the greatest pleasure he supported the clause.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, there would be a far better understanding of the matter if the Committee knew precisely what the clause meant. The great apprehensions were as to the extent of the clause, and it was hero that the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly) fell into his mistake. As he (Mr. Blake) understood the clause, its operation was by no means confined to Canada or anywhere else; butit would be open to the emigrants to go to Australia, to New Zealand, or any British Possession. He was prepared to express an opinion as to Manitoba and the North-Western Territory, from whence he had but lately returned, having gone over the whole of Manitoba and a part of the North - West Territory; and he confessed he was rather suprised to hear the descrip- 708 tion of the hon. Member for Roscommon. It must have been many years since that hon. Member visited the country, for his own experience was of an entirely opposite character. No doubt, if he visited the country now he would have much the feeling of a Rip Van Winkle. He described Manitoba as having no railway communication—the fact being that it had already through it the Great Pacific Line, and its railway communication in other respects was fair. The hon. Member described the country as little better than a Sahara. Now, it was well to understand what the climate of Manitoba was. It was quite true it was subject to great vicissitudes, warm in summer and cold in winter. The hon. Member said the temperature was in winter 40 degrees below zero; quite true, and it might be added and sometimes 55 below zero, and sometimes as cold as the Arctic regions. Now, what was the effect of this on the inhabitants of Manitoba? The first inhabitants of the country were the adventurers under the old North-West Company; next came the agents and hunters of the Hudson Bay Company, and the next were the Selkirk settlers, and there were more recent arrivals. Now, some of these descendants of the Hudson Bay men, hunters and trappers, were the finest men he had ever seen, with sons and daughters about the finest type of humanity. He saw some of the survivors of the Selkirk settlement, he could give name after name of those who went out under Lord Selkirk, they were 80 years old and hale and hearty, and their descendants were the finest people they could meet with. Amongst the most successful emigrants, although few, were the Irish people; and one great fact he could not avoid mentioning, that the Permissive Bill was in full operation throughout the greater part of Manitoba, and was extending, and, he was happy to say, with most happy results, and was in full and successful operation in the North-West. But it should be borne in mind that Manitoba was a very small portion of the great North-West, some 340 miles long and 240 wide. There was a wheat belt extending for at least 1,000 miles, and 300 miles wide. The climate rapidly improved westwards. It was capable of much improvement as agriculture progressed. He endeavoured while there to make the acquaintance of the famous refugee Chief, "Sitting Bull," though he 709 had not the good fortune to meet him; but he was there, and supported his thousands in the North-West territory for years from the buffalo, and where buffalo thrived other cattle would thrive. A more promising region he never saw; with its belt of wheat land 1,000 miles long and 300 miles wide, and grass lands on either side to the extent of five times Great Britain and Ireland. He did not condemn or encourage emigration, he merely stated facts. There were, as all knew, a certain number of people always anxious to emigrate, either from love of a change, desire of adventure, or forced by circumstances. In the United States at this moment there were, it is said, 16,000,000 of people of Irish blood; and although in Canada the number was considerably loss, and would always be so, a certain number would go to Canada. And he would appeal to his hon. Friends near him, from whom it was his great regret to differ, if these people were resolved to go, why should not their way be smoothed for them, whether they went to Canada or elsewhere? Was it not better to have some preparation made for their arrival, instead of their going with nothing being prepared for their arrival? It seemed to him to be quite forgotten what it was the Bill offered. He held in his hand the despatch of the Governor General to Lord Kimberley, in which he stated that in the ease of single young men and women emigrants no difficulty would arise; but he said in the present distressed state of Ireland it must be by the removal of entire families that any sensible relief would be made in the pressure of redundant population, and for these families arrangements must be made for their temporary maintenance. Then his Excellency went on to explain how a number of small farms had been alotted, that small buildings would be erected for their reception, and the seed actually sown to enable the emigrants to reap a harvest in the first season. It was well known in what a benevolent manner Canada acted for the relief of Irish distress at its late trying period, and this document showed the extreme desire of the Government of Canada to assist any Irish who might wish to emigrate. He quoted from the Report of the Inspector of Fisheries for Galway district, showing that the population in some parts was the poorest in Ireland, at the best just able to eke out a miserable 710 existence, and always open to the temptation to engage in illicit distillation. The words he quoted he had written himself, and he knew how true they were; the same description would hold good of Mayo, part of Kerry, and other parts of Ireland. And when he went to Canada and contrasted the miserable position of these people in Ireland with the settlers there, he felt that let the consequences be what they might in unpopularity in that House or at home, that he should be committing a deep political sin if he did otherwise than give his support to such a clause as that under consideration.
The position of the clause is now entirely altered, and so many Amendments have been given in, that I consider it will be necessary when we meet again to go regularly through the Amendments in the ordinary way.
§ And it being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Chairman reported Progress; Committee to sit again this day.
§ The House suspended its Sitting at five minutes to Seven of the clock.
§ The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.