HC Deb 28 June 1883 vol 280 cc1700-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the decision of the Emigration Commission of the United States Government to detain all past inmates of Irish Workhouses who were proved to have been assisted by funds furnished by Great Britain, and to stop the landing of all steerage passengers until after an investigation of the circumstances of their departure from their homes; and, whether this is likely, and to what extent, to prejudice the success of any Government scheme for Emigration?


asked, If the right hon. Gentleman could state to the House what truth there was in the statement made in America that Irish paupers were being sent to that country by the Government, or with its approval and aid?


I will answer both Questions together. I am obliged to my hon. Friends for having given me an opportunity of referring to the subject. Sir, there has been a great exaggeration in the matter referred to in these Questions. I will give a single specimen. In a London evening paper of Tuesday it is stated that "the ship Anchoria put into Now York with a selection of paupers on board." I am in- formed that the Anchoria did not carry a single person who had been a workhouse inmate, and that the whole party consisted of 53 persons. Considering the nature of the question, or controversy, or whatever you may call it, I think that gentlemen in and out of the Press should receive with very great caution the telegrams that come from America. With regard to the ship Furnessie, as long ago as the 17th of June I received the following Report from the member of our Emigration Committee, who was in charge of the embarkation:— The published reports of our emigrants having been landed in America without money are without foundation, I, myself, saw all the tickets, and the head of each family held an ocean ticket, rail ticket, and cheques on Messrs. Henderson Brothers for the full amount of their landing allowance, which is £1 for each adult, and 10s. for each child. There was a large number of emigrants on board who did not belong to us; perhaps these were the ones referred to. Since the telegrams came from America an inquiry has been made, and it has been ascertained that the Furnessia which took out 421 emigrants, contained among them five families, who had been workhouse inmates. The following particulars have been obtained respecting these five families:—The first family consisted of a woman and two children, who had £1 10s. given as landing allowance, and the woman had produced a letter from a cousin in New York, offering employment in her own house. The second family consisted of a woman and one child, who had a landing allewance of £1, and who had produced a letter from her sister in Wilhamantie, promising her a home. The third family consisted of a woman and two children, who had a landing allowance of £3 10s., and who produced a letter from her son in New York, promising her a home, and to meet her on arrival. The fourth family consisted of five children, from 16 years of age downwards, who were sent out to their mother, who was in Williamantie, was anxious to receive them, and waited their arrival. Landing allowance of £3 was given to them, and they were sent out in charge of a man in whom the Guardians placed confidence. The fifth family consisted of a woman and three children. She had a landing allowance of £3, and had produced a letter from her daughter, promising her a home, and offering to pro- cure her employment. Before embarkation outfits were procured for these persons, at a cost of £50 2s. I have been asked to say, with respect to the emigrants, that these were of the class formerly embarked by the Boards of Guardians; and with respect to the emigrants selected by the manager of Mr. Tuke's Fund, I have received a letter stating that these emigrants had not been paupers or persons from the workhouse. All those sent to the United States, except about 300, have arrived, and on arrival have been placed by friends, or by the agents of the Fund. None of Mr. Tuke's emigrants landed at New York, where the complaints came from, and no complaints have been received regarding Mr. Tuke's emigrants. I think it extremely important in a matter of this sort, which may be a matter of controversy between England and America, that I should only state the facts which I have absolutely ascertained.


In connection with the same, might I ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether, having regard to the difficulties which appear to beset the question so far as the United States is concerned, the Government intend any longer to hesitate to avail themselves of the very liberal offer made by the Dominion Government of Canada about three years ago; and, if not, whether it is the intention of the Government to make any application to Parliament during the present Session to enable them to do so?


I should like to ask whether the American Government has stopped any of the emigrants, and threatened to send them back?


Would the Government say whether any official communication has been received, by telegraph or otherwise, from the American Government; and, if so, whether they have sent in reply information such as has just been read to the House?


I should like to ask, before any reply is given to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Lowther), is it correct that there is now any offer from the Dominion Government of Canada?


I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the House is to understand that in the case of persons emigrated by Boards of Guardians the only money they have to face the world with on lauding is the landing allowance of £1 to an adult and 10s. to a child?


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, will he state whether he has any information as to the Emigration Commissioners of the United States Government having come to any decision to stop the landing of steerage passengers?


Questions relating to the American Government should not be addressed to me, but to the Foreign Office. My business is to ascertain that the administrative details of Irish emigration have been properly carried out. With regard to the Question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Lowther), I am not quite sure whether I am empowered to answer it further than this—that in my day, and I think, also, in my Predecessor's, I know of no definite offer which has come from the Canadian Government. With regard to landing allowances, I think the hon. Member (Mr. O'Brien) will see by the sums I have read out that the landing allowance is proportioned to the distance) the people have to travel. Somewhat similar sums to those I have named are given to persons who have friends in New York.


In consequence of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, I shall, on an early day, call attention to the Memorandum issued by the Privy Council of Canada, bearing date the 3rd of October, 1880, and to the action of Her Majesty's Government with regard to it.


Might I ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether any intimation has been received at his Department as to whether the Americans refused to receive assisted or pauper emigrants?


I think a Question of this kind, relating to the action of a Foreign Government, deserves Notice?