§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Trevelyan.)
said, he had given Notice of opposition to this Bill, because he considered that it had been brought forward in an irregular and improper manner. Had it been, as its title implied, a Bill purely for the relief of the poor in Ireland, he would have been the last person in that House to oppose it. They all knew there was a great deal of distress in Ireland since the last harvest; and he was sure that it was the desire of every hon. Member that that distress should be relieved. But the House was simply being played with so far as this Bill was concerned. The heading of the Bill said it was "to 894 make temporary provision for the relief of the destitute poor in Ireland." That was saying distinctly that it was to make provision for the destitute poor; but when he looked at the last clause he found that the Act might be cited as the Distressed Unions (Ireland) Act; so that, after being told that it was for the relief of the distressed poor, they found it was only for the relief of distressed Unions. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had allowed that some portion of the money was to go for the debts of Unions; but he had been unable to get from him any statement as to the amount which was to go to the relief of actual existing distress in Ireland. The 1st clause of the Bill said that money might be granted under it to a Union, having regard to the financial condition of such Union, and the pressure of distress within its limits, to aid in providing for relief at the present time; therefore, in the very Preamble of the Bill the House was made to believe it was to relieve existing distress. The 3rd clause provided that the Boards of Guardians might, with the consent of the Local Government Board, for the purpose of defraying any expense to be incurred by them, borrow under this Act; but it did not at all imply that this was to pay for old debts incurred by the Union without the sanction or knowledge of the House of Commons. Clause 4 provided that whereas before the passing of this Act the Boards of Guardians in certain Unions where the funds were inadequate for providing for the relief of the destitute poor in such Unions had borrowed money and were now in debt, all such loans were confirmed by the Act. That, again, referred to the borrowing which took place before the Act passed, and did not imply that any part of this money was to be held for the purpose of repaying the loans in question. It simply said, with regard to any loans sanctioned by the Local Government Board, that they were confirmed, and that an indemnity was given to those persons who raised them. He thought it was a breach of Privilege of the House to bring in a Money Bill, even for so small a sum as £50,000, with the implied statement that it was for the relief of the temporary distress now existing in Ireland, when there was no 895 other intention than the paying off of debts incurred before the passing of the Act, not one word being said as to the way in which the money had been spent. When the money was voted he believed the House would want to know for what purpose the money had been spent, and by whom. In the meantime, believing that the Bill was vicious in principle and contrary to the intentions as well as the practice of the House, he begged to move that it be read that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Captain Aylmer.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
said, they were asked to vote £50,000 of Irish money to make temporary provision for the relief of the destitute poor in Ireland. Now, Irish Members on those Benches pointed to the districts of the country in which there was admittedly distress verging on starvation, and in which, at the lowest calculation, there were 10,000 persons dependent on what crumbs of charity the priests could collect; and said that not a single pound of this £50,000 would reach those famished creatures—that was to say, as they were justified in saying, that from beginning to end the Bill was a falsification of its title; and although it gave a sort of solace to the English conscience and a sort of idea that something was being done to assuage Irish distress where it was keenest and most frightful, he said that the distressed people would not benefit by it to the extent of a cup of cold water. They had their own special opinion with regard to that cast-iron scheme of the Government—emigration, and the right hon. Gentleman had admitted that the Unions which benefited would be those which contributed most to that scheme. The right hon. Gentleman said that this money was to be devoted to paying off the liabilities incurred in meeting distress in districts where the Guardians had given as much outdoor relief as they had it in their power to give. But in one Union not a single pound had been spent in outdoor relief, although the people were actually decreed for the amount of the seed-rate at the moment when their children were 896 dying of hunger. The Unions were of a wretchedly low valuation—£10,000 in one case and £14,000 in the other—and they were in consequence utterly unable to meet the distress which existed there. They were, moreover, controlled by landlord Guardians; and, having been cautioned that they had nothing to expect, and that they would have to pay everything out of their own pockets by-and-bye, they stuck to the workhouse-test, well knowing that the people would cut off their right hands rather than go to the workhouses; and although they saw, as he had seen, children dying of fever for the want of a cup of milk, yet they were protected and sheltered by the Government in acting as they had. Everything was to go to those Unions where outdoor relief had been distributed; to districts in which the potatoes were nearly ready for digging; but not one penny was to go to districts were the distress was most frightful, on the ground that because nothing had been done for them up to the present nothing was to be done for them now. Many of the people in those districts had decrees against them for rent only due a few weeks ago; they were undergoing deprivation and suffering of the severest kind; but for them not one penny was given under this Bill, although they were the most wretched and abandoned creatures on God's earth. The people of Ireland had no love for outdoor relief; they hated mendicancy in every form. Irish Members had pointed out endless opportunities of making good land out of the millions of acres lying useless in Ireland, which, sooner or later, the Government would have to reclaim. There would be tens of thousands of people destitute during the next six weeks, and the question they had to face was what should be done with them. This Bill passed them by on the other side of the road, and its enactment to them would be positive cruelty. There were £50,000 passing under their very eyes and they were not to have so much as a cup of cold water. He made no factious opposition to the Bill; he was simply impressing on the Government the absolute necessity of doing something to tide these people over till the next harvest. They wanted no Party triumph in the matter; everyone knew that the position of these poor people was altogether beyond Party politics. All they wanted 897 was some assurance or hint of the right sort from the President of the Local Government Board, that the Boards of Guardians, having neglected their duty, should be forced to do it even at the eleventh hour, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would have some such assurance to give.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, that a Bill was brought in last year very similar to this in character to which he had given his support, although many other Irish Members did not do so. That Bill provided £100,000 from the Imperial Treasury, and although he did not altogether approve the scheme he regarded it as a liberal application of money on the part of Her Majesty's Government. But in the present Bill the Government were dealing with £50,000, which came not out of the Imperial Treasury, but out of the Irish Church Fund; and this money, instead of being devoted to Irish harbours, which would supply work to a great number of workmen, was to be devoted to emigration. He said that when it was proposed to take Irish money and spend it upon something that was considered objectionable, the matter was one which Irish Members should decide. As he understood that the sum named was to come out of the Irish Church Fund he should vote against the Bill; whereas if it came out of the Imperial Exchequer he should vote for it.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer) complained that this Bill, which professed to be for the relief of the poor in Ireland, turned out to be only for the relief of embarrassed Unions. He would like to know on what, in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member, this money had been spent? The hon. and gallant Member could hardly imagine that the Unions had become embarrassed by the Guardians applying the rates to their own private advantage and amusements. He could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that every penny of the money had been spent in food and clothing for the poor. The Unions at the time of the distress were actually in debt to the potato merchant for the supply of food necessary for outdoor relief, in some cases to the extent of £500 or £1,000. Now, how were the Government to assist those Unions, and enable them to do what the Bill professed to do— 898 namely, to relieve the distressed poor in Ireland? There was no public money provided for the purpose, and the only way in which the Unions which required assistance for the relief of the poor could be assisted was to allow them to borrow money, and then, if necessary, to reimburse them the money borrowed. It was because they were not able by law to borrow money, and because the Government were not able to reimburse them without the consent of Parliament, that this Bill was introduced. The Government provided for the poor by telling the Unions that they might borrow. [Captain AYLMER dissented.] the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone shook his head; but it was impossible to found any argument upon that. [Captain AYLMER: the Bill is retrospective.] the Bill was retrospective then; but at the time of its introduction it was prospective, and, for the purpose of the relief of the poor, it mattered not whether it was passed in February last or in the present month of July. The object of the Bill was to carry out what he had informed the House at the end of the Autumn Session was the intention of the Government. In answer to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), he said on the 20th of November last year—The permanent officials of the Local Government Board have reported that at present the information before them respecting the anticipated distress in certain districts in the West of Ireland, where it is most apprehended, is not of such a character as would lead them to believe that the relief which may be afforded under the existing Poor Law Acts will be found insufficient to provide for the wants of the destitute poor in the coming winter. They have already issued a Circular to the Unions in the West of Ireland—that is, to all the Unions in Connaught, and to the Unions in the counties of Donegal, Clare, Kerry, and West Cork, calling their attention to the necessity of making every provision both for indoor and outdoor relief, and especially to see that the relieving officers' districts are not too large, and that the relieving officers are within easy reach of the poor persons residing in every part there of. The Local Government Board will also call upon their Inspectors to report as to the sufficiency of the arrangements in this respect made by the Guardians in each Union in their charge. In short, the Government have given every care to see that the normal machinery for the relief of distress is in proper order; and they expect to be able to meet the distress with the aid of that machinery. If exceptional pressure comes, it will be their duty to see that the administration of the required relief is not interfered with from the want of sufficient funds. I 899 may say that this is a subject which, of all others, is most engaging the attention of the Government."—(3 Hansard,  1711.)Well, the administration of relief was interfered with for want of sufficient funds, and the Government took the only course which would properly relieve the pressure; they allowed the Unions to borrow on their own authority, taking it for granted that Parliament would afterwards indemnify them. The noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) asked, on the occasion he referred to, from what source the additional funds would be supplied? And he (Mr. Trevelyan) answered, that matters of that kind had always been the subjects of special treatment by the Government, and that, adopting the example of preceding Governments, they would provide funds to keep the people from starvation, trusting to Parliament to support them afterwards. Well, there were a few Unions embarrassed and unable to supply relief, except to a very small extent. Under those circumstances, the Government permitted those Unions to borrow from their Treasury, which he believed in all cases was the National Bank, and took measures to reimburse them the amount so borrowed. The sum of £50,000 was named, because the Bill was brought in when it was uncertain how great the distress would be; and it was still uncertain whether it would be necessary, for the public interest, to assist certain other Unions which had embarrassed themselves during the past winter. With reference to the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), he could assure the House that not one penny of this money had been employed, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of emigration. He did not propose to enter at length into the arguments of the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien). Although he had no hope of convincing that hon. Member, he had taken great pains to convince himself whether or not the action of the Government had been justified by the event, and whether it was such action as they could continue. Two interesting Reports had recently come to hand, in the first of which the Inspector said that in no locality in Donegal was there anything more than the ordinary pressure which usually existed between the old and the new crop of potatoes. The second Report was to the 900 same effect. He was bound to say that the experience of the charitable relief now being given was not at all such as to make the Government regret the course they had taken. Many people who were in receipt of that special charitable relief were unwilling to get work, be-cause they did not wish to disentitle themselves from obtaining the charitable relief offered them. It was only in districts where special relief was given that they now heard anything of continued distress; and it was only in those districts that labour offered its temptations to people unwilling to accept them. He did not wish to say anything derogatory of those benevolent men who had been employed in providing charity to a large extent in the same manner as that agency was employed, probably, in every Union in England, Ireland, and Scotland. The Bill was so arranged that it would not discourage private charity, which, in the opinion of many people, had much more discernment than outdoor poor relief indiscriminately given. He must say he thought it was only in those Unions where this private charitable relief was being given that the appearance of exceptional distress and want of employment were at all prominent. He could not help thinking that he had answered the objections to the Bill. Before sitting down, he, perhaps, had better give the best answer he could to the hon. and gallant Member for Galway County (Colonel Nolan). The hon. and gallant Member asked why the money should come from the Irish Church Fund?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he had very little voice in regard to the source from whence the money was taken. This was an Irish purpose, and this Church Fund was, of course, an Irish Fund; and the hon. and gallant Member, he thought, might well be content. He would repeat again his assurance that not one single penny of this money would be spent upon emigration.
§ MR. LEA
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Trevelyan) intended to print the Reports of Mr. Macfarlane and the other Gentlemen who had been engaged in inquiring into the distress? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would be able to make some statement about this later on. As to 901 what had fallen from the hon. and learned Member for Galway County (Colonel Nolan), he perfectly agreed that this money ought not to come out of the Irish Church Fund, the circumstances being such as to require that all assistance given should come from Imperial sources. It should be understood that the Harbours Bill, when it came into Committee, should not be affected in any way by the grant which was now proposed—that was to say, that the £50,000 which were to be given by this Bill should not be deducted from the £250,000 which were so much required for harbours. This was not a good time at which to go into the question of general distress; but he might just observe that distress of this kind would always be recurrent in Ireland until the Government made up its mind to bring in a substantial scheme for opening up communication in that country. Last Easter he had been discussing with two Donegal farmers the condition of the country; and, in spite of the distressful character of some districts, these persons had assured him that, beyond their own labourers, when they required additional assistance it was absolutely impossible to get the men. This was an extraordinary fact, when so near to them there were labourers absolutely starving through want of work, and this sort of thing was sure to continue until some money was expended upon the extension of communication in Ireland. Money expended upon an object of that kind would do far more good, and be far more useful, than an expenditure of the kind contemplated by this Bill.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he hoped, if the Chief Secretary did have the Reports of Mr. Macfarlane and the other Gentlemen printed, he would do the same with the evidence which had been given by Father Gallagher before the Sub-Commission at Carrick, Glencolumbkill. The rev. gentleman had stated that at Glencolumbkill between £4,000 and £5,000 had been expended by him on various kinds of relief. He said that in the beginning of October last it was apparent to all in the parishes that the potatoes were gone, and that starvation was impending. Not only this, but the storms had swept away most of the oats, and even the hay, and had actually stripped the roofs off the poor people's houses. He said that with the aid of two or 902 three of the more well-to-do in each townland he had instituted a house-to-house inquiry, and it was found that many families had no live stock at all, and that the bulk of them had only a cow or two of inferior quality. Parting with this poor animal practically doomed the family to a black and milkless diet. Father Gallagher, in the course of his cross-examination, gave it as his fixed opinion that poor people during the past year in these parishes had absolutely died through want of food, and that, beyond doubt, many hundreds would have starved but for the assistance sent them, while many more would have died from diseases superinduced by famine; and he added that Mr. Hamilton, Poor Law Inspector, told him, as early as last November, that he might expect disease such as fever. Father Gallagher gave some evidence regarding seaweed as diet, which was worthy of recording for the benefit of the millions who knew not how their fellow-creatures lived. He explained that there were three kinds of seaweed of which the people made use. One was called dillisk, another sloke, and a third duleinan, a coarse box-wrack. Even in times of so-called plenty the poor people used dillisk and sloke; but the third kind was not only unpalatable, but unhealthy and unnatural, and was never used except at starvation point. In the early part of the present year, so great was the demand for the better kinds of seaweed for food that the supply was soon exhausted, and then, through sheer want, the people were obliged to use the box-wrack. These statements referred to a district where the right hon. Gentleman told them that exceptional distress existed; and, oddly enough, he would have them to believe that the distress was there prevalent because a charitable people exerted themselves to supply the miserable poor with food. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the ordinary machinery of the Poor Law in Ireland was sufficient to meet the distress. Would the right hon. Gentleman really consider what was the condition of the Poor Law? Here was a section of an Irish Act of Parliament. It said—Any person in the occupation of more than a quarter of an acre of land, if requiring relief, shall He relieved in the workhouse, and not otherwise.903 How did the ordinary machinery of the Poor Law of Ireland for relief meet the position of these miserable cottier farmers in Donegal? Why, the Poor Law Guardians had no power to relieve them, unless they gave up their land and went into the workhouse; and the right hon. Gentleman surely had sufficient knowledge of the Irish people and the Irish character to know that that was about the last thing they would ever think of doing. The right hon. Gentleman had stated his policy at the beginning of the year; he had stated that he knew the Irish people had a disinclination to go into the workhouse; but he had said—"Let them feel the pinch of hunger, and then they will come in." the right hon. Gentleman desired that the Irish peasantry should feel the pinch of hunger before they were relieved. He wished them to be driven to madness, for it was to madness that the Irish people were forced, when they were compelled, themselves and their children, to associate with the infamous characters which were usually found in the workhouse. No wonder the poor people cried out—"For God's sake, send us to America. Send us anywhere out of this." the right hon. Gentleman said this money was required in order to relieve Unions which had contracted indebtedness in their endeavour to cope with the existing distress. The right hon. Gentleman was asking for £50,000. The Chief Secretary had stated the other night, when they had what they were pleased to call "an entertainment," that these Unions were indebted only to the amount of some £3,000. What, then, did he want with the extra £47,000? Was it too much to ask that some portion of it—seeing that it all came out of an Irish fund—should be devoted to meeting the distress which these people in some of the districts of Donegal were suffering at the present moment—for the purpose of meeting the distress not over any long period, but only during the next few weeks, while they were waiting for the harvest to ripen? Surely this was not too much to ask. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly free to get up in that House and make a statement such as he had made, knowing very well that no Englishman knew anything at all about the terrible condition of Ireland, and could know nothing about it, and that they naturally 904 were satisfied when he was taking this money from the National Exchequer. They would hear more about it, for hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House would require full information as to how it was to be expended. Under the circumstances the right hon. Gentleman was sure of carrying his Bill, as the Irish Members who were opposed to it were only a small number, and could not hope to do more than raise an earnest protest against the system it contemplated. He (Mr. Leamy) could only hope that what had occurred within the last few days might possibly open the right hon. Gentleman's eyes to the fact that the Irish people were beginning to be determined that some means should be taken for meeting the distress in their country other than those which the English Liberal Government had adopted. He would recommend to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman the declarations of the Irish Bishops, which were published in the English papers today, and which had been published in the Irish papers on Tuesday last. And, so far as those Bishops themselves were concerned, he (Mr. Leamy) would advise them, if they wanted to bring the English Government to their senses, to give up coquetting with it, either here or in Rome, and not to confine themselves to passing resolutions and sending them to The Freeman's Journal, but to join with the people of their country in opposing one of the most monstrous measures they had ever had.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he had had an opportunity lately of speaking to some of these Bishops, and He could assure his hon. Friend (Mr. Leamy) that it might be said with perfect certainty that they would not confine themselves to merely passing resolutions on this question, but that they had made up their minds to take definite and strong action to bring home to the Government the real aspects of this question. The most extraordinary thing about the relief question proposed in that House was the nomenclature of these measures. The first Relief Bill they had in this Parliament was called "Relief of Distress Bill." That measure was supposed to be for the purpose of relieving distressed tenants, and it seemed that the method which had suggested itself to the Imperial Legislature for relieving distressed tenants in Ireland was by 905 giving money to distressed landlords? What was the result of that measure? Why, it was that which had been foretold, over and over again, by the Irish Members—they had foretold that the money which was given nominally for the purpose of giving the tenants employment, so as to save them from starvation, would be taken back by the landlords in the shape of arrears of rent, and that had turned out to be true. Within a very few months after these prophecies had been derided, the right hon. Gentleman the then Chief Secretary had to get up in the House and announce that the money given for the relief of distress had been confiscated by the landlords. The Bill now before them was entitled—"A Bill to make temporary provision for the Belief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland; "but on examination of the Bill, in concert with the declaration of the Chief Secretary, they found that it was really a Bill for the relief of those who were precisely the least destitute in Ireland. He was sorry to find that the right hon. Gentleman still stuck so consistently to his statement with regard to Donegal. He ought to be very careful, looking at what had followed on the action of his Predecessors, before making official statements of that kind. There was not a single official statement made upon this subject which was not confuted and disproved by the statements of gentlemen on the spot, who had no interest whatever in making false assertions. The right hon. Gentleman told them, on the strength of the official Reports, that no exceptional distress existed in those localities of Donegal to which reference had been made. Well, in order to accept those official Reports, what had they to force their minds to acknowledge? Why, if there were no distress in these districts, the veracity of Father M'Fadden—and, he might add, the Bishop of the diocese—was discredited, and they must believe that these gentlemen were appealing to the charity of the world, on what were neither more nor less than false statements. Either Father M'Fadden, Father Gallagher, and the Bishop of Raphoe, were convicted liars, or there was terrible distress existing in these districts at the present moment. If they believed that those ecclesiastics were not telling the truth, they must be prepared to believe that a dietary of 906 diversified kinds of seaweed was voluntarily accepted by the people in place of proper food; they must be ready to believe the statement, on which the Chief Secretary relied, that the fathers and mothers in these districts were feeding their children upon a couple of biscuits a-day in order that they might parade their destitution before the world, for such were the statements made by trustworthy representatives of English newspapers in Ireland. Since the right hon. Gentleman had given such a high character to the Boards of Guardians, they had had some of the gentlemen composing those Boards before the Law Courts of the country. Was it not a fact that one of these gentlemen had applied to a Court to compel payment of a year and a-half's rent, and had only been allowed half a-year, and had been told, in addition, that proceedings must be stayed until the 30th of October? Had not the presiding Judge said—"I admit these people are in a very poor condition? "He would put the testimony of Father M'Fadden, Dr. Logue, Father Gallagher, and the decree of the County Court Judge against the statements of Mr. Macfarlane and other gentlemen upon whom the right hon. Gentleman relied; and he had no hesitation in saying that more credence was to be placed on the ecclesiastics and the Judge than upon the evidence of these officials. The right hon. Gentleman had been rash enough to recapitulate to the House the promise which he had made last year with regard to these districts. He (Mr. O'Connor) asked the House whether there was a single one of these pledges which had not been broken in the spirit, if not in the letter? The right hon. Gentleman had told them that none of the Irish peasantry were to be allowed to starve; but would not the people have had to starve, so far as the authorities were concerned, if it bad not been for private effort—nay, had not the people actually died of starvation? So far as the Government were concerned had not the people been allowed to sink into the lowest depth of destitution; and if a great many of them had not starved, was it not due to private charity, and not to any action on the part of the Government? The right hon. Gentleman had mentioned something about outdoor relief in his statement in reply to the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. 907 Parnell); and the impression left upon that hon. Member's mind, and upon his (Mr. O'Connor's) mind, and upon the minds of many hon. Members on that side of the House, was this—that the right hon. Gentleman meant to convey that if outdoor relief was required it would be given. Yet, had there been any outdoor relief distributed? Another point to which he wished to allude was this—the right hon. Gentleman had again committed himself to the extraordinary statement that Father M'Fadden was keeping the people from going to work. Well, he had a letter in his hand addressed by Father M'Fadden to The Belfast Morning News, and in that letter the rev. gentleman said that he had publicly from the altar impressed upon his people the necessity of seeking work wherever it could be obtained in order to tide over the distressful season coming upon them. He also stated that crowds were going off to Scotland every day, despite the unfavourable reports which reached them of the condition of things in that country. The statement of the Chief Secretary was that these people would not work; but the statement of Father M'Fadden, who knew the secrets of almost every household amongst these people, was that they were actually going to Scotland seeking work. The rev. gentleman stated that he had initiated an extensive system of work, and he declared that he had seen women as well as men at work—that he had seen a woman carrying gravel from a pit whilst her husband was digging it. On the whole, he (Mr. O'Connor) found the policy of the Government, as represented by this Bill, a complete and consistent whole. He looked to the real source of the Government policy, and not to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this Bill—he looked to the statements of other officials connected with the Irish Government. More than that, he looked to the statement of Lord Derby with regard to the policy of the Government, as shown in this and other Bills brought forward by them. Lord Derby, and, no doubt, the rest of the Government, thought a few millions spent on emigration would pay them well. He (Mr. O'Connor) had recently been in Ireland, and had been shocked to find the deplorable completeness with which this system of enforced emigration was 908 taking place every day. The Government were not merely satisfied with emigrating persons accused of crime—he did not complain of their taking any measures they might think desirable to put down crime—but they were emigrating the young people of the country. But that was not the only policy pursued. They went to districts where the Land League had existed, and they found there some person who had been recently in revolt against the originators of the misgovernment to which the country had been subject. They found him a person whom they knew to be incapable of taking part in any crime; they entered his house in the middle of the night; they knocked at the door, and entered the apartments, it might be, of his aged mother, perhaps of his wife and sisters, and the man, if he were weak-minded, and certainly the women, were terrified. The effect of this action was that this man abandoned all polical activity whatever, and fled to America, where at least he would be free from nocturnal visitations on the part of the police. In the more distressed districts the Government said to a man—"Go into the workhouse, and, if you will not do that, go to America." The policy of Lord Spencer was the policy of making intolerable the homes of as many people as possible, so that when they could no longer live in the districts in which they were born they should cross the Atlantic. The Irish Members did not agree with Her Majesty's Government in their endeavour to fill the emigrant ships with the Irish peasantry. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that the Government had no idea of the depth of the feeling which existed in Ireland on this question of emigration; and he would also tell the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Leamy) that if he had had such conversations with the leaders of the people in Ireland as he (Mr. O'Connor) had had, he would have found that there was hardly likely to be lukewarmness on their part in this matter. The Bishops were now saying—"Are we to be the Bishops of our people at home, or are people abroad? All our people are leaving us." One Bishop had said—I. have 1,400 families in my parish; but within the last 12 months there have been only 20 marriages—all the young people have gone ont of the country.909 There could be no marriages, because there were no people to marry. The feeling against emigration in Ireland was becoming deeper and more intense every day; and the people regarded more and more every day the policy of Her Majesty's Government as akin to that of the Roman Consuls, whose endeavour was to "make a solitude and call it peace." the policy of the Irish Representatives was to band together all the national forces of Ireland, and compel the Government to abandon a policy of filling the emigration ships, in their endeavour to bring the Irish people to a state of contentment in their misgovernment.
§ MR. O'SHEA
said, the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Galway (Colonel Nolan) had touched upon a very important subject—namely, the fund from which they were to take this £50,000. The Chief Secretary had said that it was not in his Department, and that it was a matter altogether for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to decide. He (Mr. O'Shea) was sorry to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not in his place, and though the Secretary to the Treasury was present he did not seem inclined to give them any opinion as to the view of that Department on the subject. It was clear that if distress, such as now existed in some parts of Ireland, existed in England, the money for relieving it would have been provided, not out of any essentially English fund, but out of the National Exchequer. It was manifest to everybody that there was a divergence of view between the officials and Bishops and clergy of the district; but, even if that were so, there was independent evidence of the exceptional distress in Donegal, such as that of Mr. Ernest Hart. No one could suppose that that gentleman had any object in making statements which were absolutely opposed to those of official Inspectors. Under these circumstances—first, because these Reports had not been printed; and, secondly, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not present to hear the arguments against this money being taken from the Irish Church Fund instead of from the Imperial Exchequer, which seemed to him to be the proper and the just source—it would be much better not to pass this Bill without the House having full information and full opportunity of impressing on the Chan- 910 cellor of the Exchequer the justice of the demand that this money should be taken from the Imperial Exchequer. He thought the debate had better be adjourned, and he should therefore move its adjournment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. O'Shea.)
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion. He had listened to all the arguments, and he gathered that hon. Members were rather against something which was not done by this Bill than against that which the Bill proposed to do. He gathered that the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien) objected to what the Unions had done, and hold that other things should have been done to meet the distress. That argument was very good as bringing the attention of the Government to other measures; but it was surely no argument against this Bill, which provided a sum of money for Unions who had done what they could do, and ought to have done, to relieve the distress. He could quite understand the character of the argument addressed to the Government by hon. Members outside the Bill; but they did not go against the Bill because the money had been spent, or would be spent, by the Unions for the relief of the poor in their districts. Under these circumstances, he thought the House would see the justice of passing this Bill to provide money which would probably, under similar circumstances, be spent for these purposes. He hoped the Motion would not be pressed.
§ MR. DALY
said, he thought the Home Secretary laboured under some misconception as to the argument of the hon. Member for Mallow (Mr. O'Brien). The hon. Member's objection was to £50,000 being drawn from Irish sources, and allocated in a manner distasteful to Irish Members. On the allocation of Irish funds surely Irish Members had a right to express their opinion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
A Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate having been made, and not withdrawn, the observations of the hon. Member are not in Order.
§ MR. DALY
said, he was addressing himself to the observations of the Home Secretary, who objected to the Adjournment, and he was showing that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument was based on an entire misconception. The Irish Members wished for an adjournment because they thought English Members were not aware of the circumstances. They wanted to have this £50,000 applied to the relief of starving people in Donegal, whom the Unions had tried to drive into the workhouse.
§ MR. SPEAKER
the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate not having been withdrawn the hon. Member is not in Order.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, it was true that the Irish Members did not object to what the Unions had done, or to their being indemnified; but what they did object to was that the Unions had only spent £3,000 in relief, and to the House not being told what was to be done with the remaining £47,000. If the Chief Secretary could not now explain that, the debate had better be adjourned, so that the Government might have time to consider when that information could be given.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he was sorry that he had been so dull in his explanation. The sum of £50,000 was originally named in order to cover demands that might be made on the public funds to meet the distress in Ireland. The sums expended would be repaid; how much more would be applied for the purpose under the Bill he did not know yet; but he thought it extremely unlikely that £50,000, or anything like that amount, would be consumed. It was necessary to mention that sum when the Bill was introduced; but if hon. Members should propose to reduce that amount the Government might possibly consider the matter. They intended to confine their operations to the exact lines laid down in the Bill, and if those operations required less than £50,000 they would be very much pleased.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, the reason why he wished the debate to be adjourned was that the matter might be brought before the Prime Minister and 912 the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It would be fair and honourable to take this money from the Imperial Exchequer; and, whether the object was good or bad, it was contrary to Parliamentary principles to do what was now proposed.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, he thought the debate should be adjourned, in order that the matter might be brought before the Prime Minister.
§ The House proceeded to a Division:—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
stated he thought the Noes had it; and, his decision being challenged, he directed the Ayes to stand up in their places, and Thirteen Members only having stood up, Mr. SPEAKER declared the Noes had it.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. DALY
said, he would now renew his remarks. The contention about this matter was that many of the debts incurred by these Unions had arisen from their having expended money in promoting emigration to America; and they protested against that, and against the policy of the Government, which had severed these poor people from their homes and compelled them to become paupers. It was extremely unfair of the Government to press this Bill forward at an hour when there was no opportunity of showing how strongly the Irish people felt upon this matter; and he would gladly remain up to oppose the Bill being taken now.
§ DR. LYONS
said, he wished to draw attention to one point, and that was the disposal of the surplus funds under this Bill. With regard to Donegal, he was led to believe, on authority which he could not doubt, that in some instances the recovery of the seed loans had been enforced under circumstances which bore very harshly and unjustly on those who were supposed to have the benefit of the seed. The imperial regents, a variety of potato which were recommended on the authority of the Government, were a complete failure; and, in many cases, there was no return from the seeds at all. Under these circumstances, it seemed extremely harsh to prosecute the unfortunate individuals who had been induced to purchase the seed. Under this Bill provision was made for the relief of the Unions which, rightly or wrongly, had acted in the 913 distress and got themselves into debt; and he would ask hon. Members opposite to bear in mind that these Unions must, in some way or other, get themselves out of their financial embarrassments, either by imposing an additional rate, which would bear hardly and injuriously on people already in extreme distress, or by the means now proposed by this Bill. He thought a great deal might have been said earlier as to the propriety of taking this money from the Irish Church Fund; but, the Bill having been allowed to pass the second reading, it was now too late to challenge that proposal. He was strongly of opinion that the money should not be drawn from that Fund, which he had always regarded as being held in trust by the State for the purpose of works of a reproductive character; but it was quite evident that, in one or other of these two ways, these Unions were in an unfortunate financial position, and they must find relief in some way; and, on the whole, he thought the proposal in the Bill was the more merciful method. As he understood, these four Unions had not been materially concerned in promoting emigration. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, if he found that this money was more than he required for the relief of those Unions, he would look into the question of the seed rate, for which so many people had been so harshly pursued?
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 12: Majority 67.—(Div. List, No. 188.)
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 10: Majority 70.—(Div. List, No. 189.)
§ Bill passed.