§ Progress resumed.
§ Clause 26 (Emigration).
Amendment again proposed,
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 put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 56: Majority 47.—(Div. List, No. 302.)
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he wished to move an Amendment proposing a different scheme from that of the Government. He was perfectly unable to understand how this clause of the Government would work, although he had given as much attention to it as might be in his power, which, perhaps, might not be much. Who was going to ask for the money? Who were the persons to be employed, and on what grounds were the Commission to advance the money? Were the Commis- 711 sion going to have interviews with, for instance, Sir Alexander Gordon, and, in that case, who would represent the Irish people as between the Commission and the Government of Canada? How were local knowledge and local wishes to be brought to bear on the Commission? Anybody who looked at this clause would, he thought, come to the conclusion that it was not intended by the Government to have any very actively operative effect. He was perfectly certain the intentions of the Government were good, and that if emigration could be carried on for the benefit of Ireland, and with the concurrence of the Irish people, the Government would be glad to give a lead and direction to that movement; but if he were not satisfied of that, he should say the whole of this clause was a blind, and that the Government merely wished to head one of the clauses with the word "Emigration," and then go to the country and say—"We have dealt with the difficult question of Irish Emigration." He did not believe that was their intention; but that was a charge that could be made against them from the way in which the clause was drawn, for it was so indefinite. He could not make out how any real action could arise under the clause, and he wished to point out that the Government had abandoned the line which Parliament had distinctly laid down on this subject. This was not the first time the question of emigration had come before Parliament. It had been legislated on by Parliament since 1838. The first Irish Poor Law that was passed took into consideration the question of emigration, and Parliament had since that time distinctly and definitely laid down a line to the effect that it would not allow the State directly to interfere in Irish emigration. In the Irish Poor Law Act of 1838 Parliament indicated that the Guardians of any electoral division might apply to the Poor Law Commissioners for authority to call a public meeting of the ratepayers to consider the question of emigration from that electoral division, and a majority of such meeting might apply to the Commissioners for permission to raise a sum, which should be charged on the rates, for the purposes of emigration from that particular Union; so that as long ago as 1838 this question had been prominently before Parliament, and had been dealt with by Parliament. The rate for emigration under that Act 712 was limited to sums not exceeding 1s. in the pound of the rateable value of the Union, and the emigration was strictly limited to British Colonies. Again, in 1843, the subject was brought before Parliament, and Parliament took a wider view, considering that the calling of a public fleeting and requiring the majority of the meeting to declare in favour of emigration was not a machinery likely to produce any great advantage. Accordingly, by the Act of f 1843, it was enacted that two-thirds of the Guardians of any Union might assist any destitute person to emigrate, provided that ho had been three months in the Union workhouse; but they could only assist him to emigrate to a British Colony. The charge was made to fall on the electoral division, and this action on the part of the Guardians did not require a public meeting. Parliament, in that case, therefore, made some extension of the principle, bat they still kept up the limit of the charge paid by the electoral division, and restricted the emigration to British Colonies. He believed that a considerable amount of emigration had taken place under that provision, and many paupers had been assisted to emigrate from workhouses; but he wished to point out to the Committee that a man who had been so degraded as to have been in a workhouse for three months was not the man who would be selected for emigration. He did not believe that a man of that kind was likely to succeed. In 1847 the subject was once more brought before Parliament, and by the Act 10 Vict. c. 31, it was provided that the emigration expenses of any holder of under five acres of land should be defrayed by the Guardians of the parish, together with the emigration expenses of his whole family. That was the first time that the emigration of families was recognized by Parliament; but it was stipulated in these cases that the landlord must forego all claims for rent and supply two-thirds of the money required. On that condition the Guardians might provide one-third of the amount, and charge that on the rates of the electoral division. That Act went a great deal further, for it entirely set aside the Act of 1843, limiting the power of the Guardians to emigrate persons who had been in the Union for three months. It allowed the Guardians, with the assent always of the Commis- 713 sioners, to emigrate all persons as long as they were poor and destitute; but such persons had to be approved by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. How the Secretary of State for the Colonies could tell whether a family was suitable for emigration he could not imagine; and, with such a provision as that, the Act was not likely to work out well. Then, in 1849, shortly after the great Famine, Parliament again considered the question, and by the Act 12 & 13 Viet. c. 104, it was enacted that Guardians might apply any money in their hands for the rates of any electoral division, or might borrow from the Government, or from private persons, sums sufficient to emigrate poor and destitute persons. It did not say anything about their being paupers, but simply referred to any poor persons whom the Guardians thought fit for emigration. The only limit he could find in that Act was that the amount should be 2s. 4d. in the pound.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he found that the Act did not say "destitute persons." It appeared from what he had said that in 1838, 1843, 1847, and 1849, Parliament had dealt with the question of emigration, and had throughout been consistent in declining to bring the State into direct contact with the people who were to be emigrated, and had left the question of Irish emigration to be decided by the localities, utterly refusing to take the line which the Government now proposed to adopt. There was no question whatever of local authority—it was a case of the State dealing with some individual or public body who need not have any necessary connection with the locality in Ireland. He proposed, after the word "agreements," in page 18, line 13, to leave out—With any person, or body of persons, having authority to contract on behalf of the Dominion of Canada, or of any province thereof, or on behalf of any British colony or dependency, or any state or other district in such dominion, province, colony, or dependency, or on behalf of any public company or other public body with whose constitution and security the Land Commission may be satisfied.In place of these words, he proposed to insert—The Land Commission may, from time to time, with the concurrence of the Treasury, enter into agreements with Boards of Guardians, 714 or with any persons for the time being authorized to act as Guardians to any Union, to advance out of the moneys in their hands such sums as the Commission may think it desirable to expend in promoting emigration in Ireland.The object of these proposals was to keep the Land Commission, which ought to be a Commission having the confidence of the people, altogether away from any such awkward subject as emigration. He did not wish the Commission to be brought into contact with the people upon this question, but with the local authorities, who must be the best judges of the emigration necessities of their localities. Then the State might be brought in indirectly merely to advance money to these local authorities; that might be done with safety, because the Government would not appear in the light of an agent for deportation. The people who selected and recommended persons for emigration were the Guardians, who were conversant with the people of their district; and he would add, that there was nothing so absolutely essential to the proper conduct of an emigration scheme as local knowledge. Another important consideration was that the Boards of Guardians, being popular representatives, enjoyed the confidence of the Roman Catholic clergy; and, if the confidence of the Roman Catholic clergy was not secured, any clause, such as this Emigration Clause, would be merely waste paper.
It is impossible for me to keep the Amendments in their proper order, as they are brought to me sometimes half-a-dozen on one sheet of paper. I understood that the noble Lord was about to move an Amendment equivalent to the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), to the effect that Boards of Guardians should take the place of the Land Commission. If the noble Lord chooses to move that he is in Order; but if he does not move that, there is an Amendment in the name of Mr. Torrens which it would be necessary to put first.
I understood that, Mr. O'Donnell not having risen, the noble Lord was going to move an equivalent Amendment—"That Boards of Guardians should take the place of the Land Commission;" but if he does not 715 move that here, it must be moved at a subsequent point.
§ Mr. W. M. TORRENS
said, he might agree with some portion of what the noble Lord had said, but he could not agree with much of it. He understood the noble Lord's view to be that it was desirable, as a general policy, that the business of Emigration should be separated from the Land Commission. In that view he quite concurred, and it was with that view that he placed on the Paper his own Amendment. He wished to induce the Government so to frame the administration of this sub-Department that it should be disconnected, at least permissively, from the action of the Land Commission. He believed it was generally understood that the business of the Land Commission would be more than enough for it to do in the next two years, and he supposed that whether the opinion formed on it was favourable or not, it would have a great deal on hand; if so, he should object to the work of emigration being consigned to the leisure hours of an over-weighted Department; and he should prefer that the Government should have two Departments instead of one. The whole business of Emigration would be quite sufficient work for a special body; and he would explain why he and those who were emigrationists, above all things desired that this Government or their successors should have at their command a sufficiently strong sub-Department to work out what they regarded as a very difficult, a very onerous, and a very honourable function. He regretted very much the presence in the clause of the word "Canada," and he said that not from any lurking disposition to sneer or to find fault, but because it had had the effect of throwing the apple of discord among those Members who were jealous of any preference being given to Canada. As a Representative of the taxpayers of England, he held that no preference should be shown in this matter. If they had, or thought they had, at any particular time or place a surplus population, then they should endeavour to facilitate their transference to any Colony which might be suitable to them at the time, if that Colony should at the time desire to have them; and therefore he regretted the introduction of the word "Canada," because it was an indication of preference which he was sure the Government did not intend. He had no interest per- 716 sonally in Canada; he had no communication with people in Canada, except in the capacity of public men; but he was bound to say that his intercourse with the public men of Canada had not given him the slightest reason for suspicion of their motives upon this question. But if any suspicion should be entertained with regard to Canada, a despatch from the Queen's Representative in Canada (the Marquess of Lorne) to the Home Government directly and officially upon this subject would dispel suspicion. In March last, he had moved to have that despatch laid upon the Table; and in consequence of the publication of that document, for the first time in the history of emigration in England, a great Colony made them an offer of lands at nominal prices for persons of industrious and respectable character. They might reject that offer if they pleased, but there was nothing in that offer unworthy of Canada. But the noble Lord had amused the Committee with a sort of sketchy history of what he called emigration in this country. He (Mr. W. M. Torrens) must say that anything more unlike his recollection of the history of this question he never heard; it might be an outline from the noble Lord's view, but it was not an outline of anything that he knew. What was the history of emigration in this country? Fifty years ago emigration was considered a most vital subject; several Committees of the House were appointed to take evidence upon it; Commissioners were appointed by the Crown to investigate the question; and the result of all that was the creation of a sub-Department of two Commissioners, with a staff of secretaries, who, for 20 or 30 years, facilitated emigration. That Commission had been allowed to drop. That course he considered a mistake; but it was one of those changes in legislation which might easily occur again, and the Commission might be re-constituted whenever the Government thought desirable. Ten years ago, an hon. Member sitting on the opposite side of the House, who had once held distinguished Office, concerted with him (Mr. W. M Torrens) a Motion on the subject, which was discussed at great length for a whole summer's night, an effort being made to persuade the Governmement to re-organize the Emigration Department. What was the argument used then by some hon. Members, 717 who were now Ministers, and other Members who were associated with them? That the Colonies were so depressed, that their organization was so different, that the distance was so far, and the course of post so long, that it was impossible for us to communicate so efficiently as was necessary to exchange surplus labour in our markets. Since that time science had abolished all these obstacles—steamers had been quickened, telegraphy had brought Colonies into direct communication with us; and the result was that when there was a surplus labour in any one market it could be made known all over the world at once. If a system of emigration was instituted under this Bill, say, for Ireland, how would it be possible, at any given time, for the directors of emigration to know when it would be safe to send labour to any particular point of the world that might seem to require it, unless it was in close communication with other parts of the world? Telegraphy had brought the means of doing that which the specific organization he advocated would require to be done; and it would be better, from that point of view, to have a separate Department devoted entirely to the work of emigration than to place the matter in the hands of the Poor Law Guardians, as suggested by the noble Lord. If the noble Lord's plans were adopted, emigration would be disfigured with the taint of pauperism from the start. Emigration, in his view, should have nothing to do with pauperism. In 1870 there was great distress in England, and the labour market greatly overstocked; the head of the Poor Law Department offered to issue a Circular, enabling Boards of Guardians to give assistance to promote emigration. Upon that, he and others who were interested in the subject with him issued a Circular to every Poor Law Union in England, warning them that it would be a fatal mistake to undertake emigration; and in that way they succeeded in defeating the inadvertent purpose of the Government. They did not pursue that course from any pragmatical view, but because they had received communications from the Colonies stating that the Colonies would refuse paupers, if sent out as emigrants; and he would now warn the noble Lord that if the Government and the Committee were beguiled into mixing up emigration with Poor 718 Law relief, Australia, and Canada, and other Colonies would refuse the emigrants. He was authorized and warranted in saying that the Canadian Government would not stand such an affront as that; and the Chief Secretary for Ireland, with such knowledge of Colonial questions, would be able to confirm that statement. If that was the case, what should be done? He would appeal to his hon. Friends opposite, as fellow-countrymen, and ask them, as honest men, loving their country, to consider what they were doing in throwing difficulties in the way of remedying the existing evils. There was nothing in the whole cosmogony of politics so fallacious or false as the talking about over-population and over crowding. In Ireland, he unhesitatingly declared, that there was no over-population; there was fearful overcrowding and fearful shortness of wages; and that during the last 18 months had led to people bidding against each other for the few farms that were available. What else was rack rent? How would landlords be able to increase rents if people did did bid against each other? What was wanted was more farms. More farms producing wheat unrivalled in the world were offered to these people, and what was the price? The Irish farmer might say he could not afford to pay 30s. or 35s. an acre; but Queensland, with unlimited resources of untilled soil, offered them 40-acre farms at the official fee of 40s. Farmers who accepted that offer would become 40s. freeholders, and that for ever. These fee farms would not be tenancies that might be terminated, and would not be subject to leases, but would become the freehold possession of the farmers by mere stroke of the pen; and in addition to that, the purchasers would have the option of 40 acres more at a £1 fee. It was not in the power of the Land Bill, or of the Ministers, or Parliament to give land on these terms in this country; but the Colonies were able to make this offer, and not as a favour. In Leinster, in Ulster, and in Con-naught, and in Canada, he would say there was not a surplus population; but it was admitted that the overcrowding was fearful in the West of Ireland. Canada and New Zealand offered land as large as Ulster, Leinster, and Con-naught put together, capable of growing wheat; and why would hon. Members, 719 for a mere political sentiment, object to people accepting that offer? The reason why the clergy of the people naturally, and he thought justly, objected to let their young people wander away from their homes was that they would be unable to exercise over them any moral influence; but if hon. Members would only enable the Government to do what was reasonable and right, the Colonial Governments would place no difficulties in the way of the establishment of Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Presbyterian villages throughout the Colonies. He did not mean to say that they could suddenly uproot and transport Mayo, and place it in a distant part of the world, and he did not desire to see anything of that kind; but what he did wish to see was fusion instead of confusion. They had had confusion with a vengeance, and now he hoped hon. Members would try to create fusion. He had once heard a gentleman ask the question why this country should do anything for the good of her Colonies? He (Mr. W. M. Torrens) maintained that if people emigrated for our good as well as for their own, and for the good of those to whom they went, we should be spending our own money wisely in assisting them. He believed, from his knowledge of the subject, that there was not the least risk as to the Government recovering the advances; but if the money were all lost would it not be well lost? Was it not better to spend the money in true glory than in real sham? He would urge the Committee to spend their money, and put an end to discontent, and to do that which was good for all.
In page 18, line 12, after "the Land Commission," insert "or such other Commission for the purpose of emigration as Her Majesty shall appoint."—(Mr. W. M. Torrens.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Mr. EWART
described this Amendment as raising the most important question that had arisen under the Bill, and, expressing a hope that good would result from the clauses on the right of free sale and on fixed rents, explained that a holder of only five acres could not earn a subsistence from his holding. At the bottom of the present state of things in Ireland was a want of energy 720 and industry; but he defied any man of energy and industry to maintain himself out of five acres of land. So long as there were those small tenants, there would be constantly recurring bad seasons. But how were they to be got rid of unless the tenants were encouraged to emigrate, and the small holdings consolidated? The soil could not be fully developed with such small holdings. The tenant of a five-acre farm would rarely have an animal upon it. He could not keep a horse or a cow, and was in the position of a factory operative thrown back to the hand-loom or spinning jenny. Every effort ought to be made to consolidate these small farms, and for that reason he approved of the Emigration Clause. Ireland was not overpopulated, but there were far too many of these small farms. The assistance proposed should, however, be given only to tenants, and he feared the clause, as it stood, would be inoperative. He did not think the mere granting of loans would carry out the scheme of the Bill; it would require considerable grants of public money, and £1,000,000 devoted to this purpose would not be an over-grant. The thing could not be carried out by the clause as it stood, and he hoped the Government would amend it.
It is not the clause that is before the Committee just now. It is the question whether an additional Commission for the purposes of emigration shall be nominated.
§ Mr. W. E. FORSTER
I have heard with interest and have boon much struck by the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens); but I do not propose to follow him in his general remarks, because there are many Amendments on the Paper, and the discussion of the general principle of the clause can better be postponed till we come to the clause itself. I shall therefore assist in carrying out your ruling, Sir, if I confine myself in reply to the Amendment brought before us. I have no great objection to the words proposed; but I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press the Amendment, because the Government have no intention of appointing another Commission, and the Amendment would give an altogether wrong impression. There is no difficulty in so arranging the business of the Commission that emigration can be well attended to, because they 721 will have power to appoint Assistant Commissioners, and no doubt they will be able to obtain assistance if they find that their other important work will not allow them to deal individually with emigration. Therefore, I trust the hon. Member will not press his Amendment. The hon. Member made one suggestion to which I may allude, because I think it was very valuable. There was nothing further from the intention of the Government than to give a preference to one Colony over any other, and I see no reason why the word "Canada" need be retained. It was inserted because Canada is nearer to us, and opens out great inducements to emigration at the present moment; but there is no reason why it should stand in the Act of Parliament before the other Dependencies, and we shall be quite prepared to omit the words "on behalf of the Dominion of Canada, or of any province thereof," and make the clause read—"contract on the part of any British Colony." I have some remarks to make on the general policy of the clause, but I think it would be more convenient not to make them now.
§ Mr. O'DONNELL
said, he could quite agree with the view of the right hon. Gentleman as to the proposal of the hon. Member for Finsbury; but, at the same time, he thought the Committee would not do well to allow themselves to be carried away from the arguments of the hon. Member by admiration for the language in which he clothed his thoughts. For instance, it sounded extremely well when the hon. Member described the miserable condition of some of the poorer populations in the West of Ireland, where there was overcrowding through some of the neighbouring districts being depopulated; and then presented to their mental vision a dazzling picture of the future of these poor Irishmen when transplanted to the Arcadiæ of Manitoba and elsewhere. He said in place of their sufferings in Ireland the Irish peasants would get 40-acre farms for a few shillings, with beautiful skies and fertile soils—that, in fact, for 40s. they could be happy and comfortable. But he would remind the Committee that the Irish peasant must pay, not only 40s., but he would have to pay 40s. plus denationalization; he would have to pay 40s. plus banishment; he would have to pay 40s. plus 722 his separation from all the associations which were so especially dear to all the Irish race. The hon. Member spoke of the Irish peasant as a freeholder; but the Irish peasant did not desire to be turned into a freeholder—at the Antipodes. The hon. Member for Finsbury did admit that among the objections to the plan of banishment which he advocated was something which he considered mere political superstition; but it was that political superstition which kept an Englishman from becoming a Frenchman, a Frenchman from becoming a German, and a Pole from becoming a Russian, and which he hoped would prevent an Irishman from ever desiring to be anything else than an Irishman, or from making his own prosperity a consideration separate from the prosperity of his country. The hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Ewart), had said some kindly words as to the spirit in which the Prime Minister had introduced this clause; but he must be counted an opponent of the clause, for the keynote of his speech was that Ireland was far from being overpopulated. That was his (Mr. O'Donnell's) opinion, and he failed to see why the British taxpayer, who had to pay for the Transvaal and other blunders of the Government, should be called upon to pay for an additional blunder for promoting emigration. The proposal seemed to him to lack the usual breadth and force of philosophic Liberalism. Ireland was, in his opinion, distinctly under-populated; and the fact that in some of the poorest and most wretched parts there was overcrowding, was due to the circumstance that the beneficial results with which British rule had blessed Ireland had caused acres of waste in the place of districts which might be inhabited by Irish peasants. Before adopting measures for transplanting the Irish people, England ought to adopt the best measures for enabling them to live in comfort in Ireland; but the Government were anxious to devote something between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000 to the transportation of Irish peasants to Botany Bay and elsewhere; and it was curious that whereas England used to be inclined to spend large sums of money to get rid of her worst citizens, she now wanted to get rid of her best citizens, and to transport 50,000 or 100,000 Irish families to other countries. He should be prepared 723 to give some assent to that proposal if the Government would meet the Irish Members half-way, and would engage, before transporting these people, to settle 100,000 Irish families, now in the overcrowded districts, on the depopulated parts. Then, if there were any Irishmen left requiring to be emigrated and dealt with in the drastic way proposed by the clause, the Government could make their proposal with a better chance than they now could. Then, another point was that even if there was reason for emigrating Irish people, Irish Members ought not to be parties to a scheme binding down that emigration to simply British Colonies, for that meant nothing else than political disfranchisement and political degradation. What were the contemptible politics of Canada compared with the privileged and grand politics of this country? If there were an Imperial system in which the people of Canada, Australia, and elsewhere could make their voices heard in Imperial politics, then Irishmen would not be transported, by emigration, to places where they would have no voice in shaping the destinies of their own race. But if there was to be any exclusive region to which the Irish peasants should be sent it ought to be to the United States. England had, by her policy, diminished the population of Ireland. By a long course of mismanagement she had caused the people of Ireland to become a minority of the Irish race; and, no matter where a race was bred, the minority must be guided by the wishes and will of the majority to a large extent. The centre of the Irish nation had been transported to the United States; and until English statesmen redressed the grievances of Ireland, they must be content to see the Irish people dwelling in their own dominions, following more and more that great and vast majority which they had driven outside their dominions. The constituencies of the Irish Members were, to a great extent, influenced by the greater Irish constituencies across the Atlantic; and if the Government would blindly close their eyes to that fact, and spend £2,000,000 to plant hundreds and thousands of Irish emigrants within the magic circle of British dominion on the borders of the United States, they would only be paying the passage of those people 99–100ths of 724 the way to the American Republic. If, therefore, the Government did not want to conceal their object, they would frankly admit that they were asking the Committee that day to vote large sums of money in order to increase the population of the United States. Deeply as he deplored it, he must still feel that the Irish race would manage to derive a certain amount of comfort from that transaction. He asked, did the Government imagine that the Irish people were going to be caught by the prospect of getting farms at the cost of 40s. each, plus denationalization; that they were to be enticed by the prospect of becoming freeholders at the Antipodes; that they would be parties to a scheme for depopulating Ireland still more; and that they were going to consent, above all, to their brothers being transported to the interior regions of second-class Colonies and Dependencies? As a protest against depopulation, against the disregard of the opinion of the Irish people expressed through their Representatives in Parliament, and against the odious system of British misgovernment in Ireland, he should struggle against this clause line by line, and word by word, and do all in his power to hold it up to contempt. The Government might succeed, after long discussion, in passing the clause in words; but, he said, it was not in the power of the British Parliament to give it effect. He and his hon. Friends pledged themselves to render this scheme of expatriation ineffectual.
§ Mr. BIGGAR
said, it was a great misrepresentation to say that this clause was supported by the opinions of Irish Members. The opinions of Irish Members, as a rule, received no consideration whatever; indeed, in matters of this kind, it appeared to be the practice of Ministers to oppose their views, and set their experience at defiance. With regard to the Amendment before the Committee, he took exception to the evidence adduced by the hon. Member in support of a very material part of his case. No doubt, many years ago, the hon. Member had been a Member of a Commission which went into the Western parts of Ireland, and there gathered certain information and experience, and came to a conclusion with regard to the state of the population in those parts, and the proper remedies which should be applied to the existing state of things. But the 725 hon. Member forgot that a great deal had happened since that time, and particularly that the population of Ireland had fallen away by upwards of 3,000,000. In short, the condition of the country at present was entirely different from what it was in 1835. He did not himself pretend to a very intimate acquaintance with the Western parts of Ireland; still, in the spring of 1880, he had visited the counties of Leitrim and Mayo, and had had a good opportunity of seeing the state of things which existed in those two counties—particularly Mayo—which were intended to be influenced especially by the Bill now before the Committee. His experience of those counties was that the good land there was almost completely depopulated, and that it could support in comfort a very much greater population than existed there at the present time. The population had been entirely cleared away from the neighbourhood of the towns, and there was little else to be seen than large tracts of grass land, which were used for grazing cattle. He believed that a noble Lord had said on one occasion that he would make the grass grow at the doors of the shopkeepers in the streets of the towns in the county of Mayo; and although, he was happy to say, the noble Lord had not been thoroughly successful in carrying out his intentions, anyone having experience of the counties of Leitrim and Mayo would know that the people who cultivated the land had been driven from the good land to the mountain side, and that cattle were now grazing where their dwellings once stood. That state of things proved to the satisfaction of every reasonable person that those two counties were no more over-populated than any of the other counties of Ireland. In some small districts there might be a greater number of inhabitants than in others; but no such thing as a superabundant population existed. What the Government ought to do was to take the matter in hand with a determined spirit, and force the men who, not many years ago, depopulated large tracts of land in Ireland, to allow the people to return to the land from which they had been driven. That was the only substantial remedy which could be applied to the great grievance he had described. With regard to the county of Galway, he knew little beyond the fact that it was a large cattle-feeding 726 county—which proved that it was equally adapted to the feeding of large numbers of the people. But what was the project of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), as expressed in his Amendment? It was that some new Commission or tribunal should be erected by the Government for the purpose of making arrangements for the further depopulation of Ireland. But the real truth of the matter was that Ireland was too thinly populated already. It was an increased and not a decreased population that was wanted there. There might be some small districts in which the population could be lessened with advantage; but it was perfectly within the power of the Government, if the Bill had been properly framed, to have effected this by allowing the people the opportunity of filling up the partially reclaimed lands, which would be sufficient to support a very large population. But instead of that, the Government proposed to transport these people to a climate where probably a large proportion of them would die in a short time. He wished to speak with some degree of plainness. The Government had assisted the landlords in evicting the tenants of Ireland from their holdings, on which they could have lived in comfort had they been permitted to remain in them at a reasonable and fair rent, and they now proposed to send them to a place where the snow lay upon the ground during many months of the year, and where, as a matter of certainty, they would not long survive. In his opinion, these people could neither settle nor live in Canada; they would get from under the British flag, and place themselves under the Stars and Stripes, in a country where they would live as free men—not as slaves. He certainly thought that the clause ought to be at once withdrawn. It was opposed by the great majority of Irish Members in that House with a determined resistance, and he hoped that night would see the last of the scheme of a Liberal Government for the depopulation of Ireland. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), which went even further than the proposal of the Government, he could not, of course, entertain it for a moment.
MR. MAC IVER
said, he could not help thinking that the clause was un- 727 necessary. No one could call to mind the population of Ireland 20 or 30 years ago, without being struck by the fact that since that time it had decreased by an amount as large as the entire population of Scotland. In the face of that reduction of more than 3,000,000 of people, what case was there for emigration as a remedy for Irish distress? Ireland was already far too much depopulated. He had listened with some regret to the remarks which had fallen from some hon. Members with regard to the Dominion of Canada, which seemed to him perfectly unfair and unwarranted. It was no business of his to speak on behalf of Canada; and yet he might, perhaps, be permitted to do so, because in former times he had been to a large extent connected with the business of emigration. There was at one time at Liverpool great competition between the various lines of steamships.
pointed out that the hon. Member was travelling beyond the Amendment before the Committee. The hon. Member would, at a subsequent period, have an ample opportunity of speaking on the general question.
MR. MAC IVER
said, he was simply replying to some remarks made quite recently with reference to the Dominion of Canada; but, if he was ruled out of Order, he should be obliged at another time to call the attention of the Committee to the subject.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Mac Iver.)
§ MR. HEALY
said, the Prime Minister had reminded Irish Members that the population of Ireland was steadily diminishing, and that she was not now entitled to the same amount of representation as she had before. He regarded that as a hint from the Government that if Irish Members assented to this further scheme of depopulation, they would find a scheme brought forward fort he re-distribution of seats, which would cut down the Representation of Ireland in that House to something very low indeed.
said, the hon. Member could not, on a Motion to report Progress, speak upon general subjects.
said, it would be entirely out of Order for the hon. Member to discuss the clause on the Motion to report Progress.
said, that immediately the Motion to report Progress had been disposed of, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury would come before the Committee.
§ Mr. MACFARLANE
said, if it would not be out of Order, he wished seriously to appeal to Her Majesty's Government to withdraw the clause. Although hon. Members on both sides of the House had spoken against the clause, he did not remember that a single voice had been raised in its favour. The Irish Members were almost unanimously opposed to it. There were many provisions in the Bill which would be of inestimable value to the Irish tenant, and he did not wish to see the progress of the measure delayed for 12 hours for the sake of this clause, which, if it were ever so good, was not worth fighting for as compared with other portions of the Bill. He observed that Irish Members were determined by every means in their power to resist the clause; and, indeed, he thought they were justified in their opposition. Therefore, for the sake of harmony and dispatch, he appealed to the Government to remove the clause from amongst the valuable concessions made to the Irish tenants in the Bill. 729 It was entirely incorrect to suppose that Ireland required to be depopulated. What was needed was not emigration but distribution; and he believed that if the Government would put forward a scheme of migration, it would receive the support of hon. Members for Ireland. Looking at the clause as a serious obstacle in the way of the immediate passing of the Bill, he again appealed to the Government to withdraw it.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
demurred to the statement of the hon. Member who had just spoken, that all the speeches which had been delivered were against the clause. Eighteen Members had spoken—ten in favour of and eight against the clause. Of these 18 Members, four Irish Members had spoken in favour of the clause and four against it.
§ MR. R. POWER
regretted that the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Mac Iver) had moved to report Progress, and he trusted the Motion would be withdrawn. At the same time, he should be glad if the Government could hold out any hope of the clause being withdrawn, because he believed that its retention would considerably delay the passage of the Bill through the House. For his own part, he felt very strongly upon the subject of emigration; he had done all in his power in conjunction with his Colleagues to resist the scheme, and was determined, if the Government persisted in retaining the clause, to use every Form of the House to prevent its forming part of the Bill.
MR. MAC IVER
, reserving his right to continue his remarks upon the subject of emigration to Canada, and in view of the wish expressed by hon. Members, was willing to withdraw his Motion to report Progress.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, before the Motion was withdrawn, he wished to impress on the Government the importance of the remark made by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. R. Power), that the Government should have regard to the opinions of Irish Members expressed on the vote for or against this clause. He could not, of course, tell what would be the result of such vote. It was quite possible that the majority of Irish Members might be in favour of the clause; and, if so, then he thought that the clause ought to stand part of the Bill, but not otherwise. It would simplify 730 matters very much with regard to the question which the Prime Minister had ventilated if the matter were put to the vote amongst Irish Members, the Government being bound by the majority. He could not pretend to say what the result would be; but if the decision was against the wishes of the majority of the Irish constituencies, it would be their fault, and not the fault of the House or the Government. The sooner the Irish constituencies learned that they were responsible in these matters, the better it would be for the Constitutional and Representative Government of Ireland. He did not wish to press unfairly on the Government; but he regretted that they had taken the discussion on the clause that day. The question of emigration was one which was linked into every line of Irish history. It was connected with many unfortunate and horrible occurrences in Ireland, of which he felt sure every Englishman was ashamed at that day. When they looked at the Emigration Returns, it was easy to see how the life-blood of Ireland had been ebbing away; how, since 1841, the population had diminished by 3,000,000 of persons, the actual population showing a very much larger diminution than this 3,000,000, because such diminution would not represent the increase of population which might naturally have been expected to occur in Ireland in the same way as in other countries. Every class of persons in Ireland was interested in this question of emigration. He believed in the truth of the words of Archbishop Manning—that there was in Ireland work for every man, woman, and child, and that there was land enough for each individual of the population of the country. He believed, also, that it only required practical acquaintance with the necessities and possibilities that existed in Ireland, but which could be acquired in no other way than by living there, to enable the people to have that abundance of work which, when applied, would alter the face of large portions of the country.
pointed out to the hon. Member that it was not competent to discuss the whole of the clause on the Motion to report Progress.
§ Mr. PARNELL
said, he did not wish to anticipate the discusion which might take place on this clause. His object was to save time, and prevent reasons 731 which might induce the Government to postpone the clause; but, of course, if the Chairman did not wish him to proceed with the line of argument he was following, he would desist at once.
§ Mr. MULHOLLAND
said, lest the silence of Members from the North of Ireland should be misconstrued, he desired to explain that they wished to defer speaking on the clause generally until the Amendment was disposed of. He hoped the Prime Minister would not give any weight to the appeal that had been made to him to withdraw this clause. The second reading of the Bill was supported by the Conservative Members from Ulster, on the faith that this most important clause would remain part of the Bill. The question of emigration, as the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) had said, concerned every man, woman, and child in Ireland. When the time came, he believed he could prove from statistics that the statements which had been made with reference to the under-population of the country were entirely without foundation.
§ Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
defied any hon. Member to receive the announcement of the hon. Members for Wexford and Cork—that this clause might delay the Bill for some days—without feelings of dismay, when it was recollected that the Prime Minister had announced that Parliament might be prorogued at the end of the first week in August. That period was now rapidly approaching, and the 26th clause of the Bill was still incomplete. He failed to see how any particular importance could be attached to this clause in its present form, because he was certain that it would be absolutely inoperative. No action could take place upon it. He suggested to the Government, without any after-thought, and being solely actuated by a desire to see the Bill make reasonable progress, that, as in the case of the last clause, they should consent to a compromise, and modify the present clause by providing machinery which would have the real effect of promoting legitimate emigration from Ireland, and that in a manner which would not excite the patriotic feelings of Irish Members. By that means, he thought the present obstinate and alarming opposition to the clause might be obviated, and he trusted that the Government would adopt it for 732 the purpose of facilitating the progress of the Bill.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
The position of the question is, to a certain extent, an involved one. At the beginning of the evening my noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill) suggested an improvement in the clause in a speech of research and ability; but in consequence of an Amendment which took precedence of the words proposed, the discussion raised by him could not be pursued to its end, and thus we had a new discussion raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), which approved of the general object of the clause, and proposed additional machinery for the purpose of facilitating emigration, which machinery he regarded as preferable for the execution of the work to that provided by the clause. Well, Sir, we have not been allowed to come to a decision on either of these two Amendments, which is unfortunate, because until we know whether if at all the clause is to be amended, it is premature to come to a decision upon the Question of the clause standing part of the Bill. I hold this to be a most important and most valuable clause. We are quite prepared to discuss the question whether the particular form proposed by the Government is the best. I am inclined to think that it is, and I am not satisfied by the observations which have fallen from my noble Friend, and from the hon. Member for Finsbury, that we should improve it by adopting their suggestions. Those Amendments, however, merit consideration; but we are now on the question of reporting Progress. My hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Mac Iver), who moved it, is willing to withdraw that Motion; and I venture to suggest that if the Committee really desire to discuss the important question contained in the clause, they will do wisely to allow the Motion to report Progress to be withdrawn, so that we may proceed with the consideration of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury.
§ Mr. DAWSON
said, that the assertions of the Prime Minister with regard to reclamation of waste land—the changes to be effected, and the manner in which they should take place—afforded ample grounds for the withdrawal of the clause. He was quite at a loss to understand why they should 733 ask the Government of Canada to give 40s. freeholds to Irishmen when there was plenty of land in Ireland which would supply their wants. He would have no objection to emigration per se, if the resources of the country were exhausted; but he maintained that this was far from being the case.
said, the hon. Member was not at liberty to discuss the merits of the clause on a Motion to report Progress. Discussion on the Motion to report Progress was for the purpose of giving reasons why the Committee should not proceed with the consideration of the Bill.
§ Mr. DAWSON
said, it was difficult to understand what hon. Members might discuss on a Motion to report Progress.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he thought that hon. Members had misunderstood the bearing of the Chairman's ruling. Some of them appeared to believe that, according to that ruling in discussing an Amendment, the clause to which that Amendment applied could not be discussed. But surely that could not be intended, because how could he, for instance, who had an Amendment on the Paper relating to the Boards of Guardians, show that the clause would work better if his Amendment were adopted, unless he could examine the whole clause? If they were not to discuss the clause so long as Amendments with reference to it remained on the Paper, he thought it would be a great convenience if those Amendments were withdrawn until the bearing of the clause was understood, when their discussion could commence with more advantage. They were in this position, that the prestige and eloquence of the Government had already been devoted to laying a certain account of the clause before the Committee, and, as an hon. Member had observed, it appeared that they were to be precluded from criticizing the Government statement because some hon. Member had moved an Amendment. The Government said that the clause conferred such and such benefits; but a number of Amendments were placed on the Paper under the impression that those benefits were by no means conferred by the clause. If, then, they were not allowed to discuss the clause, how could they put forward arguments 734 in support of their Amendments? Under the circumstances, he thought it would be better for hon. Members to withdraw their Amendments from the Paper for a day or two, and when the clause had been properly discussed they could be again brought forward.
§ MR. CARTWRIGHT
said, he thought that the remarks of the hon. Member amounted to a challenge of the ruling of the Chairman, and were entirely out of Order.
said, the observation of the hon. Member for Dungarvan had relation to the previous Question and not to the Motion to report Progress then before the Committee.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he was simply asking for an explanation, because a large number of Members really did not understand the last ruling of the Chairman.
said, the hon. Member must have observed, by the discussion which had taken place, that every reasonable latitude had been given to hon. Members to speak upon the general working of the clause whilst discussing Amendments. He did not consider that any narrow restriction had placed on the discussion of any Amendment.
§ MR. FINIGAN
said, he felt very much obliged to the hon. Member for Birkenhead for moving to report Progress, because he thought the Government ought to have further time to consider this very important question. He was not personally opposed to a scheme which would assist the Irish people out of their difficulties; but he considered that those difficulties could be solved in accordance with the Irish national will better by a system of migration than that of emigration to Canada and other Colonies. He believed the Government would best serve the interests of the Bill and the expectations of the Irish people, if they consented to report Progress, or adopted the alternative of leaving emigration to be considered as a separate measure at some future time. The object of the Bill being to create peace and contentment in Ireland, he thought the Go- 735 vernment would act wisely in dropping the clause altogether, or in consenting to the Motion to report Progress, in order that some amicable understanding might be come to between the Government and the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell), who certainly represented Irish opinion upon the subject in that House. If the Motion to report Progress were withdrawn, he trusted it would be on the understanding that some compromise would be arrived at on this very important question.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
said, he thought that when they arrived at the discussion of the important Question whether the clause should stand part of the Bill, the Committee would much regret that they had not had an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon the clause before the Amendments were considered.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, after "Commission," leave out "for the purpose of emigration."—(Mr. _Healy.)
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he understood the hon. Member for Wexford (Mr. Healy) to propose that certain powers might be given to the Land Commission, but that they should not be exerted for the purpose of emigration. He thought now, that in harmony with the ruling of the Chairman, and also in harmony with the wishes of those Members of the House who were anxious to discuss this question, that the Committee would now be able to consider the question whether emigration ought to be included amongst the objects of the Land Commission. He thought a much stronger case must be made out for emigration before the Committee could consent to the increased facilities demanded by the Amendment. Irish Members considered that emigration was distinctly injurious to the public welfare of Ireland, and calculated to harm the whole purpose and object of the beneficial measure which had been proposed by the Government. If those facilities were for the purposes of migration, or for the development of Irish industries, as was proposed in a generous moment by the noble Lord the late Postmaster General (Lord John Manners), then, indeed, the objections of a certain number of Members of the House would 736 disappear; but, not content with the alterations to be introduced by the clause, the hon. Member for Finsbury proposed that additional facilities for draining the life-blood of the country should be placed in the Bill—that the clause, in fact, should be turned off in a direction which must militate against the successful operation of the remedial clauses of the measure. The Government had obtained the consent of the Committee to a clause giving security to the tenant, and to a provision for increasing the proportion of peasant proprietors in Ireland; but the hon. Member for Finsbury opposed himself to the beneficial intentions of the Government, and would take upon himself to draw off from the soil of Ireland those who would otherwise become proprietors, and take the place of the large landowners. He thought the hon. Member hardly deserved the compliment paid to him by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, when speaking of the eloquence with which he had introduced his proposal, for, in his opinion, the right hon. Gentleman might have accompanied his recommendation of the hon. Member's style by a strong condemnation of his proposal to maximize the temptations to the depopulation of Ireland. Under the circumstances, he hoped the hon. Member would take steps to cut short the present discussion, and bring the Committee nearer to the consideration of the clause which, like the water that approached the lips of Tantalus, slid away when it was most desired. Were not the powers conferred upon the Commission enough in all conscience for the purpose of emigration? He might object that the Commission had already enough to do without devoting itself to emigration purposes. The Government had said that the Land Commission had so much to do in a judicial capacity that the Board of Works must not be relieved of any of its usual obligations, and that the Land Commission must be left to the great duty of settling the questions between landlord and tenant. For his own part, he wished the Government had left the Land Commission in the undisturbed possession of its powers of judicial regulation of rent; but, seeing that they had proposed to saddle it with the additional and ungrateful task of diminishing the number of applicants for its equitable intervention, and of diminishing the number of 737 those to whom the Bill was intended to bring security and comfort—that was, in itself, a sufficient reason why the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury should not have been introduced.
§ Mr. HEALY
observed, that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, that day 12 months, when speaking on the Relief of Distress (Ireland) Bill, said the question under discussion was a matter upon which he must be guided by the feeling of the majority of the Irish Members. He wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman, on the question now under discussion, thought he should be guided by the feelings of the majority of Irish Members?
§ Mr. DALY
said, that he had been, at first, in favour of the clause, having rather too quickly accepted the statement that the emigration was to be voluntary; but he had since discovered that it was to be limited in scope. If the Government had said that the principle of voluntary emigration should apply to the districts where there was a congested population, he should have been in favour of the Government scheme; but he believed that, as it stood at present, it would be injurious to his fellow-countrymen. He regarded the plan of emigration, under any circumstances, as a confession of failure on the part of the Government; and he did not see how anyone who looked at the facts could come to any other opinion than he entertained. Again, in the Government proposal there was no provision whatever that the happiness or prosperity of the emigrants should be secured. Nor was there any security that the contracts entered into by the Companies would be fulfilled. He had simply risen to express his views on the subject of emigration, because the Prime Minister had himself invited an expression of opinion upon that question on the part of Irish Members. He said if justice was to be done under this clause the Government should allow those people of Ireland who for generations had been at the lowest ebb of prosperity to have a certain sum of money for the purpose of emigrating if necessary, and to go where they liked.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
said, he thought that, as the general effect of the Bill would be to lead to the consolidation of holdings, emigration would 738 not be stimulated by the clause. The Emigration Clause would, no doubt, afford some help to the emigrant, and were, so far, beneficial. But his experience as a Member of Parliament was that more applications came to him from the young men of his constituency than the old—from the very men, in fact, whom it was desirable to retain in the country. He now wished to submit one or two considerations which weighed on the other side.
§ Mr. PARNELL
wished to know whether it was the ruling of the Chairman that the hon. Member for Limerick could give his reasons in favour of the clause only?
said, he had not ruled the hon. Member out of Order, but had pointed out that the hon. Member was not speaking to the Amendment.
§ MR. O'CONNOR POWER
suggested that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury should be postponed till the Report, so that the discussion might be relieved of all unnecessary contentious matter.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
said, he certainly never dreamt less of anything than of raising a bone of contention. He had made his suggestion in perfect good faith, and he really believed that it might have been accepted by Her Majesty's Government. If he had not thought so he would not have moved it. As it was, he begged leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. BIGGAR
said, that his hon. Friend was not present, and had not left any instructions with him upon the subject; and he was, therefore, not prepared to withdraw it on his hon. Friend's behalf. It appeared to him that the Amendment was an exceedingly reasonable one. As he understood it, it did not criticize the clause at all, but merely expressed the opinion, in very explicit terms, that emigration was not desirable. Now, if he might make a suggestion to the Prime Minister, it would be that the Government should give the Committee some reason in favour of the proposed emigration. He did not remember, in any 739 of the speeches they had heard, hearing any argument in favour of emigration, or any statement of facts which would lead them to the belief that emigration was desirable. He thought that if they were to have from the Government some explanation of the reasons of their introduction of that project of emigration, they might then be better disposed to entertain an idea of the subject. But, as the matter at present stood, they were really entirely in the dark; and, so far as he knew, they had not heard a single statement in favour of the principle, and until that hail been supplied he thought the Amendment should stand as it did, and that they should oppose the general principle until some argument had been advanced in favour of it. He believed that it was a general principle that no legislation should be proceeded with until they had had some arguments in favour of it. Of course, all legislation involved the question of time, and certainly would in regard to that particular case, because the expense and the risk of waste of public money involved in the scheme might entail a great deal of misery and annoyance; and, therefore, that the Amendment should not be withdrawn.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he thought it was that they should take a division on the Amendment. They had been discussing it for some considerable time. For his own part, when he saw the Bill the first time, he considered that there were two blots in it. The first was the absence of any clause relating to arrears of rent; and the second was the presence of the clause regarding emigration. For his part, he should use every form of the House to resist the clause.
§ Amendment and the proposed Amendment of it negatived
§ Mr. BIGGAR
proposed, in page 18, line 12, to leave out the words "from time to time" in order to insert the words "till the 31st of December 1881."
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Mr. O'DONNELL
rose to Order. He had an Amendment which he had not been present to move at its proper time. He wished to insert the words "with the consent of the Board of Guardians," after the words "Land Commission." He wished to know whe- 740 ther he was in Order in moving that Amendment?
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, that, as he understood the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had a similar Amendment on the Paper, he would not move his own.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that the Amendment he had moved was a very simple proposition, and he would at once state his reasons for it. The Bill proposed to allow the Land Commission to do certain things. It had, first of all, to settle rents. It had to make arrangements with regard to leases, and the buying and selling of property, and a number of different things. If the Bill was to be of a generally beneficial nature, as they were led to believe, though on that subject he need not offer any opinion, the result would be that there would be very little occasion for emigration at all. It was alleged by the advocates of the Bill that the prosperity of Ireland would so suddenly become great that all the parties who had been evicted for non-payment of rent would be reinstated, and that those in arrears would, by some legerdemain of the Chief Secretary, get rid of their arrears, and that there would be a general state of what was called the millenium. But it was held to be desirable that in certain districts a proportion of the population should be transported to an inhospitable clime; and, if that was so, the only excuse for such deportation would be that every beneficial provision of the Bill would not have time to come into effect, and for that reason it was desirable that a certain small number of the people should be induced to emigrate. He thought it was desirable that that system should come to an end as speedily as possible, and for that reason he proposed that the operation of the clause should cease at the 31st of December, 1881.
§ MR. DAWSON
said he was about to say that the Prime Minister, by the concessions he had made, and which he had promised to bring in in express from before the discussion was over, had really taken away any ground there might be for the necessity for the clause. What they inducement could be offered for putting the waste lands in Ireland in the hands of the people, as in Canada 741 and in Australia, the present difficulty could be got over. He was not so sentimental as to think that the Irish people should be kept in Ireland, or even that the English people who left their country should be kept in England, if its resources were fully developed and exhausted. But it was clearly proved to demonstration that there was a lot of land in Ireland which was perfectly capable of supporting the Irish people. The Prime Minister had, with great wisdom, and with great congeniality of manner, really conceded that question when he said that he would allow the tenants to become the reclaimers of land. He had even shown that he would allow the Companies and the branch societies to employ labourers, and would extend the provisions of the Act so as to open up the reclamation of the land. He thought that that took away the urgent necessity for expatriating the Irish people. They had heard a great deal about the expropriation of Irish landlords. Well, he did not like the expropriation of Irish landlords or anyone else; but the Bill proposed the expropriation of the Irish people en masse when it was entirely unnecessary. If they had not exhausted the resources of the country, let them proceed to develop them, and not send the labourers as forced exiles out of a country which offered them comfort and happiness at home. Now, the Prime Minister had spoken of the financial conscience of the Empire. Well, if Canada was able to offer waste land at £1 a head, and make 40s. freeholders, why should not Ireland first make such offers before the Irish had to leave their native country. The Prime Minister had almost answered that question when he said that if Canada and the other Colonies could offer such terms and give such inducements, why could not this country, with the greatest credit at its command, do so also? The Government had to advance money for labour, and what was wanted was labour. But the labour was in Ireland. Let them supply the labour to the soil, and they would electrify all that mass which was at present unable to give life to the people. Mr. John Stuart Mill had said that the reclamation of waste lands was a proper thing, and not only a proper thing, but a proper course for the Parliament of Great Britain to pursue in Ireland. A very great English 742 statesman was once sent to Ireland, and he was reported to have made use of a sentence with which his name was inseparably connected. He said that when the people of a country left that country en masse, it showed that the Government of that country had a judgment on them. But when a Government forced the people to leave the country en masse, they not only stood condemned, but disgraced in the eyes of those who saw that it was possible to keep them there. Ho wanted to know why it was that the Government should force the people away? They were told that they were putting their hands in the taxpayers' pockets; but they did not want to do that. They did not want to strain the financial conscience of the nation. Unfortunately, so lamentable was the legislation for Ireland, that everything the Irish people did not want was forced upon them, and everything they required was refused them. Ho hoped that the Government would follow up the concessions that had been made by opening up the land of Ireland, when, instead of receiving a judgment of condemnation, they would earn the respect and gratitude of the people who would live in their own country so long as it was able to support them.
Mr. W. E. _FORSTER
I am not going to allude to this question, except so far as to say that the supposition that the Government intend to force emigration is absolutely contrary to the feelings and object of the Government, and that there is no such kind of meaning which by any interpretation can be attributed to the clause. But I must call the attention of the Committee for a moment to the Amendment before us. I understand that the hon. Member for Cavan has seriously moved it? [Mr. BIGGAR: Yes.] The hon. Member proposes that the clause shall be so amended that the Land Commission shall only be allowed to take action till the end of the year. I cannot conceive any argument which could be used in favour of a limitation of the clause for only one year. The clause would be perfectly useless.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, ho would suggest to the hon. Member for Cavan that he might consent to placing a limit to the time during which the Commission might exercise the power, not of forcing emigration, but of promoting emigration, and that the limit should correspond 743 with the time when the Coercion Act should expire. The Chief Secretary seemed to have two most effective remedies for repressing discontent in Ireland, which were exile and imprisonment; and he would suggest that they should both come to a conclusion together. The clause had been introduced into the Bill for the purpose of coming to the aid of those landlords who existed by putting their tenants into arrears. He did not intend to discuss the clause; but he believed that if it were passed they would find the unfortunate tenants in the West of Ireland in arrears because they could not pay their rent, and they would have but two alternatives—the poor house on the one hand, and the emigration agent on the other. It was all very well to say that was not a forced emigration; but if they had the power of the law driving out the tenants who could not pay their rents owing to the bad harvests, and throwing them out into the road-side, and then the emigration agent coming and tempting them to cross the Atlantic as the only resource, what was that but a forced emigration? They were of opinion that too many of their people had gone across the seas already. They looked with the utmost confidence, knowing the struggle their country had made, and the splendid resistance she had made to the attempts made from time to time to crush out her national life, to their people coming back from America, and not to see them going away in thousands.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he was amused to hear the solemn assurance of the Chief Secretary that that clause and the proposal for emigration were by no means to be understood to imply that the Government intended to force the people to emigrate. Those solemn assurances of the Government sounded extremely well. They had had a large number of them. Of course, he was not going to suggest that their veracity was to be impugned; but, notwithstanding, looking to the fact that the Premier and the Chief Secretary for Ireland were in such marked ways the pre-destined victims of an inexplicable fatality, he thought that the Members for Ireland would do well to be on their guard against the solemn assurances of such unfortunate personages. For these reasons and others he should much prefer not to intrust the Government with the power of facilitat- 744 ing emigration from Ireland, for something or other was sure to happen to upset all the solemn assurances, and to defeat all the expectations which the solemn assurances might have awakened in the guileless bosoms of the Irish Members who sat on the other side of the House.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, that he was serious with regard to that particular Amendment, because he thought that the whole principle was thoroughly mischievous. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had treated them to another short speech, in which he said that he did not wish to urge the Irish people to emigrate. If that were so, why did the Government urge the proposal at all? Why did they not give the Committee some reason for the proposal? Seeing, however, that no reason had been urged in favour of the proposal, he thought they were thoroughly justified in asking that the time during which the transportation of the Irish surplus population was to take place should be as much curtailed as possible.
§ Mr. RITCHIE
said, that the hon. Member for Cavan had taunted the Government with having given no reason for their proposal. Now, Members sitting on that side of the House had not troubled the Committee in that discussion, because he believed that, in the main, they desired not to hamper or hinder the progress of the Bill by taking part in a discussion which was mainly got up for the purpose of obstruction. But he desired to say that he considered the Government had very good reason for the introduction of such a proposition. It was not a question of the Government forcing the people of Ireland to emigrate at all. It was not even a question of inducing them to do so. It was a question of offering facilities to those who desired to emigrate to do that which they wished to do, and Members from Ireland in opposing that were opposing what the people of Ireland themselves desired. Now, the hon. Member for Cavan asked for reasons why the Government proposed that clause. He had the honour of hearing the evidence given before the Richmond Commission, and a gentleman gave evidence before that Commission whose name, he thought, was deserving of the confidence even of hon. Members below the Gangway—he meant Professor Baldwin, 745 He remembered distinctly hearing that gentleman give evidence before the Commission to the effect that he had personally gone through the West of Ireland, having gone almost from house to house and from door to door, and had seen what the feeling with reference to emigration was. He reported to the Commission that the great majority of the tenantry, with whom ho had consulted in the West of Ireland, were entirely in favour of emigration; and he distinctly stated that he believed that if a choice were given the great majority of those poor and wretched people living in the West of Ireland would gladly embrace any project by which they might be assisted to emigrate. That was the reason why the Government had introduced that clause. In his opinion the Bill would fail of the object it desired to serve if there were not some such clause as that. It was quite idle to suppose that any alteration of the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland would, for one moment, meet the misery and wretchedness which existed in a considerable portion of Ireland. It was quite impossible, if they were to give the people their land for nothing, that they could exist in comfort and decency, and therefore it was that the Government had put into the Bill some provision by which those who desired to emigrate, and those only, should be afforded facilities for doing so. How hon. Members from Ireland, who said that they had the interests of the tenantry at heart, could object to that clause, which was a merciful clause, passed his comprehension to understand if they were sincere in what they said. For his own part, having taken a great and deep interest in that question, he believed there was no part of the Bill which was likely to do more good than that clause, which did not compel emigration, which did not offer inducements to emigration; but which merely afforded facilities for it. There was no part of the Bill which conferred a greater benefit upon the poorer tenant, and he hoped that the Government would not give up one jot or tittle of their proposal.
§ MR. R. POWER
said, there were two branches of this Irish Land Question concerning which a considerable number of Members on both sides of the House were agreed—one was coercion, and the other emigration; and, coercion having notoriously failed, the other plan was 746 pushed to the front with great vigour. The hon. Member who had just sat down committed himself to the opinion that the people of Ireland desired to see a system of emigration established. He did not know whether the hon. Member had ever been in Ireland; but, if he had, his means or faculties of or for observation had been very limited. He had himself spoken to many tenants in most parts of Ireland, and he had always found their attachment to their native soil so great that they would wish to remain upon it as long as it afforded them something to eat—with that they would be content. The right hon. Gentleman had asked the Committee to postpone the clause until the end of the Bill. That was a proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman on the previous evening, when he was told that the Bill, and particularly this special portion of it, would be fought out to the end. The Irish Members felt deeply and warmly on this matter of emigration, and they were not prepared to accept the maxims ascribed to various statesmen who had spoken and written on the subject. The same principle was adopted in the year 1847; but no one could say that it succeeded then, or was likely to succeed if adopted in the present crisis. The hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W.M. Torrens) had spoken at large about the great advantages which were offered by Canada to intending emigrants, and perhaps what the hon. Member had said was perfectly true; but if it was so, he would like to ask the hon. Member why he did not himself go there? As far as he knew of the people of Ireland, he was certain that there was a large contented class wishing to remain in the country of their birth, and the emigration proposals of the Government could only have effect with the discontented sections of Irish society, whose presence in or absence from the country could matter but little to the Irish people taken as a whole. While he was quite prepared to admit that the occupants of very small holdings in Ireland would do better if they were away from those holdings, he could not admit that emigration was preferable to migration. The hon. Member for Finsbury had quoted the opinions contained in the evidence of Professor Baldwin; but he had only quoted a part of that gentleman's testimony, omitting those parts in which it was made perfectly clear that the Professor was dead 747 in favour of migration as against emigration, in view of the fact that in Ireland there were thousands of acres of reclaimable land. He must say that his views on this subject were so strong, and as he believed, so strongly based in reason, that he should avail himself of all the Forms of the House in order strenuously to oppose the clause.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
said, he thought the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of Waterford (Mr. R. Power) had done less than justice to the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie), whose statement, in the course of his speech, was to the effect not only that the Irish people desired a system of emigration, but that such suggestion was backed up by the evidence of Professor Baldwin. In proof of his statement, the hon. Member said he had in his possession, as had also every hon. Member of the House, a copy of Professor Baldwin's evidence given before the Commission, in the course of which he stated that half the people would prefer emigration to migration, as was shown by the fact that of 260 tenants to whom he had put the question, not less than 164 were in favour of emigration. He was perfectly prepared to admit that the present might not, perhaps, be the best occasion to introduce this matter; but he could not allow it to be passed without expressing his opinion on the subject, and stating that when the question was properly before the Committee, he should be prepared to make a proposal, which, if it was adopted, would carry out the views which he held, and which were held by a considerable section of the House, in regard to what he might describe as the emigration proposals contained in the Bill. His hon. Friend the Member for Waterford had stated that it was his intention to oppose the clause to the bitter end; and as he and his friends who held the same views had been largely influenced by the presence of the clause in the Bill, they would hold themselves free to take whatever course they might think necessary in the event of the clause being dropped.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down and the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets had based their arguments upon statements made in evidence by Professor Baldwin; but they had only relied on isolated passages.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he had only quoted isolated passages in Professor Baldwin's evidence, because at this particular juncture he was only dealing with the question of migration as against emigration.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, the hon. Member had culled out from the evidence of Professor Baldwin isolated passages which did not give a correct idea of his evidence taken as a whole. It was evident, from the statements which the learned Professor had made, that he was in favour of migration as against emigration; and that, in his view, there was in the county of Mayo an abundance of cultivable land for the use of the surplus population—an observation which might also be applied to the counties of Donegal and Kerry. In answer to other questions which were put to him in reference to emigration and migration, Professor Baldwin said he should not like to see a single able-bodied man leave the country as long as there was in it land which could be improved. It was perfectly true that Professor Baldwin said further that he was in favour of offering the people the alternative of emigration, many of them being in favour of such a course; but no one considering this question ought to forget the fact that the opinion expressed by Professor Baldwin was contained in evidence which he gave as far back as the 4th of March, 1850, when there was no prospect of a measure being introduced for the purpose of giving the very poor in Ireland an alternative between starvation, the workhouse, and emigration. He could not but regret that Her Majesty's Government had thought fit to introduce what he might describe as an Emigration Clause instead of proposing something which would enable the waste lands of Ireland to be reclaimed and brought into cultivation, and so preventing a moiety of the starving and despairing population of the country from taking the earliest opportunity that offered of leaving their native land and emigrating to, perhaps, the other side of the world. If this was done the congestion which now existed in many parts of the country would be got rid of. He asked the Committee why they wasted their own time, and that of the country, in discussing a proposal which would stand no chance of acceptance by the Representatives of English working men and ought not, 749 because of its inherent injustice, to be forced upon the Irish people?
§ Mr. STOREY
said, he became a Member of the House with no engagements to his constituents in reference to the Land Bill; but, as representing a large working-class constituency, he wished that the scope of the measure might be so enlarged as that it should afford a complete remedy for the prevalent distress in Ireland. Therefore, he had possibly been more often than any other Member on that side of the House in opposition to Her Majesty's Government; but he should be the last to oppose them in any proposal to enlarge the scope of the Bill. He wished to ask whom it was proposed to assist in emigrating? Did the Government mean this clause to be used in assisting the better class of Irish tenants in emigrating—tenants, he meant, who were farming holdings ranging between 50 and 300 acres? If that were so, he could only say that there was no necessity for any such assistance, inasmuch as the farmers of such holdings had means enough and wit enough to take the step for themselves if they thought it to their interest. It was the poorest and most miserable class of tenants—those in Mayo, Galway, and other districts in the West of Ireland—whom it was intended to deal with; and, that being so, he was not surprised to find the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ritchie) supporting the proposal. What was the position of these tenants under the Bill? It was said that the Bill would confer upon them the right to sell their tenancies; but he would ask what man would be found to buy a tenancy in the present circumstances in the poorer districts in the West of Ireland? If they could not sell, what else could they do? The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had been the mouth-piece of the Government in the unpopular cause of coercion; and it was therefore, perhaps, fitting that he should again be the mouth-piece of his Colleagues when they were offering a bribe to the tenants. He proposed that they should be released of a year's rent, but only on condition that they paid one year's rent down—a thing most of them could not do.
ruled that the remarks of the hon. Member were wide of the subject immediately before the Committee.
§ MR. STOREY
said, all he wished to do was to prove that the Emigration Clause of the Government was a bad one, as it stood, in that it would drive out of Ireland a large class of men whom it was the interest of the country to retain, and who, not being able to sell or to compound for their rent, were to be expatriated under that Emgration Clause. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets was astonished that Members from Ireland should not be willing to assist emigration from their country; but he (Mr. Storey) held it to be patriotic to endeavour to keep the men in the country. Who would be the men to leave our shores? Who were those that went from his own county of Durham? Were they the weak and the useless, and those they would wish to get rid of? No, they were the bone and marrow of the country; and were hon. Members to be twitted with being void of patriotism if they sought to keep these men in the country? He held it to be the true policy to endeavour to retain them, and therefore it was he joined with Irish Members in objecting to the Government proposal contained in the clause. He thought it very possible that later on in the discussion he might have some further remarks to make on the proposal of the Government; but, at any rate, as one English Member—and he was quite prepared to believe there were more, that there were a great number who would do wisely to open their mouths instead of sitting still—but be that as it might, though he stood alone, he should declare his deliberate conviction that the Government would do wisely to drop this Emigration Clause. The hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) truly said the condition of things in Ireland would be greatly altered by the Bill; and under these new conditions they should seek to keep the Irish people at home, with the means of livelihood in their own country. As an Englishman he did not want to see them passing over to America, with bitterness and anger in their hearts. Let the Irish working man be fixed on the Irish soil, and if there must be emigration, let it not be that of the industrious classes, but of those smug self-satisfied Gentlemen whose only remedy for the evils of the country seemed to be to sweep from the shores of Ireland the cream of the Irish work-people.
§ Mr. W. E. FORSTER
welcomed the addition that the hon. Member for Sun- 751 derland had clearly shown to the debating power of the House, though he could not fully agree with his remarks. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) must endeavour to abide by the Chairman's decision and not debate the clause; but he must remove some misconceptions that existed as to the policy of the Government as contained in the clause. It did considerably and beneficially enlarge the scope of the Bill. One advantage there had been in this discussion in that it had called from Irish Members below the Gangway expressions of confidence in the general results of this measure. These expressions of hope and confidence it had given him great pleasure to hear, and they were rather stronger than he had heard at earlier stages of these discussions. The hon. Member for Cork City began by describing the condition of the poor cottier tenants in America, and he ended by saying let all that could take advantage of the Bill and remain in Ireland, and let them have no emigration. Now, in a few words he might be allowed to say why the clause was brought in. The Government had the condition of Irish tenants, and especially of Irish cottier tenants, before them; it had been occupying all their attention, and they had succeeded in getting the House to give the whole of the Session to the consideration of the subject. [" No, no!"] Well, at any rate, the last two or three months. The Government believed it was necessary to make great changes in the relations of landlord and tenant; but it was true, and it had been stated over and over again even by the hon. Member for Cork City and those opposed to this clause, that a mere change in the relations between landlord and tenant would not meet the condition of the cottier tenants. Well, that being generally acknowledged, the Government brought other plans before the House. There was the proposal for reclamation, as to which he would say he did not believe with some that it would be waste paper, but, on the contrary, that it would be put in force with great effect; and there was also offered that alternative which Professor Baldwin had suggested—the alternative of emigration. The Government entirely disavowed every kind of intention to force the people to emigrate; and he could not conceive that anybody who read the clause could suppose they did. He really 752 did not know the use of language by the framers of the Act in expressing their views and intentions if, with the words before them, hon. Members could believe it was the intention to force tenants to emigrate or to do anything more than enable Government assistance to be given to those who wished to emigrate. He would not enter into the particular provision by which it was hoped that object would be attained, but would address himself to the remarks which had been made, and to removing some of the misconceptions that had arisen, and he was prepared to make two or three verbal Amendments, which would show that some of the remarks were unfounded. The word "promoting" had been objected to as too strong a word, and he would propose to substitute the word "assist." It was a little different; and, at any rate, it was not open to the charge that had been made against the use of "promoting," as in some way urging and compelling, and "assist" could not have that meaning. One of the great objects was to regulate emigration. There was less emigration this year than last, and he was very glad that that should be so, for he accepted it as a proof that there was less distress to cause emigration; but, as he had said, a great object was to have emigration better regulated. It was a great merit among the younger members of a family that they were willing to take on themselves the burden of supporting their parents where they were able to do so, and they would more often emigrate if they could take members of their family with them. Therefore, the Government wished to assist, as far as possible, the emigration of families. To give such facilities he proposed to submit an Amendment to the 24th line, after the word "commission," to add—And such regulations as may be provided relative to the mode of the application of the loan, and of repayments for shipment, transport, and reception of emigrants.Giving this public notice of what the Government intended, he hoped now the Committee might go to a division on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cavan. He was sorry to anticipate by thus stating the Government intentions; but he thought he might appeal with confidence to all impartial persons when he said this clause was proposed by the Government as one of many reme- 753 dies—a very important one, though not the most important—for the great miseries that exist in the crowded districts in Ireland.
§ MR. CALLAN
asked, was it intended that the clause should be confined to Canada and British Possessions only?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he intended to state that he would move to omit the words "Dominion of Canada, or of any province thereof," and make it applicable to any British Colony or Dependency. It was a mistake to suppose that emigration would be limited to a British Colony; but it would be hardly possible to enter into agreements with foreign Governments in regard to it; but the other words "or on behalf of any public company" would leave it open, supposing the arrangements were of a proper character, to conduct emigration to the United States or elsewhere.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
said, whether Canada was left in the clause or not, the effect would be that the emigration under the clause would be to that country and nowhere else, and for this reason—other British Colonies were too far away, and the cost of removal would be too great; so it was to Canada that the people would inevitably be emigrated. Now, he was very grateful, and so, he was sure, were the Irish people, to the Dominion of Canada for the generous kindness exhibited during the recent Famine; but they must remember that when the Irish people chose to emigrate of their own motion and by their own resources, it was not to Canada they went; but, under the operation of this clause, to Canada they would be sent, whether the word "Canada" was in or out of the clause.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Healy.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he really thought that the question raised on the Amendment of the hon. Member for 754 Cavan had been sufficiently discussed to allow of a decision being taken. That being decided, he would not ask the Committee to proceed further.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Amendment (Mr. Biggar) negatived.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.