§ SIR EARDLEY WILMOT,
who had on the Notice Paper the following Resolution:—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the present condition of the manufacturing and productive Industries in Ireland,but was prevented by the Rules of the House from dividing upon it, said: Mr. Speaker, the Motion which I have the honour to lay before the House is of an entirely different character from that which has lately occupied its attention, being one of a purely social character. Some hon. Members may consider that I have not that particular personal interest in that country which I ought to possess before undertaking a Motion of such importance; but I confess that I have for a long period of my life felt that but inadequate justice was done to the interests of Ireland. I regret that, not possessing the marvellous physical energy and never-failing eloquence of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Prime Minister, I am not able to do full justice to my subject; and the fact is that when, 11 years ago, I entered Parliament, I did so, like many others, almost too late to assist in the principal object I had in view—that of seeing justice done to Ireland. I therefore rejoice now in being able to make my small endeavour to further what I consider a sacred cause. Last Session, Sir, I placed upon the Paper of this House the Motion which I now have the honour to lay before it. As you are well aware, Sir, for many weeks before the end of the Session, the House was entirely occupied with the Business of the Government; and, therefore, while the Motion was still upon the Paper, I put a Question upon the subject to the Prime Minister, asking him whether he would be willing to advise Her Majesty to appoint a small Commission in order to do that which I aimed at doing by a Select Committee. My only object in asking that Question was to gain time in the event of the Royal Commission being granted; but the Prime Minister replied that, in his opinion, a Select Committee would be far preferable to a Royal Commission for the purpose we had in view. He did not, however, feel sure that a Select Committee 167 would, by its action, farther the interests of Ireland, inasmuch as it might interfere with the self-reliance of the Irish people; but, as I understood him, he promised to ascertain the feeling of the country upon the subject, and to give me a definite answer upon another occasion. Well, Sir, I myself endeavoured during the Recess to gauge public opinion in Ireland; and, in reply to the very numerous applications which I made, I received promises of the most cordial support from very nearly the whole body of Irish Representatives, to whom I tender my respectful and grateful thanks for the kindly and courteous manner in which they responded to my appeal. I do not think there was a single exception—yes, there were two or three Irish Members who, being abroad, failed to respond; but, with those exceptions, Gentlemen of all Parties, and of every shade of political opinion, were unanimous in according their hearty support to the Motion which I now bring forward. I had, in addition, communications with many gentlemen connected with industrial pursuits in various parts of Ireland; while the Dublin and Provincial Press were also of opinion that the carrying of this Motion would have a beneficial effect upon trade and commerce in Ireland. Now, therefore, Sir, I appeal to the Government to appoint this Committee, not necessarily for the purpose of sitting during the present Session, but for the purpose of meeting next year, when we hope to devote labour and energy, and I may be allowed to add patriotism, to this great and important question. I can only regret that, after the several appeals I have made to Her Majesty's Government, they have not, in deference to the unanimous voice of the Irish people, granted this Select Committee at once. I have long felt that the industries of Ireland should be stimulated and developed with a view of making that country prosperous and contented. It is not by dealing only with the land, and putting money from one pocket into the other, that you can make a country rich and prosperous; therefore, although I do not mean to question the policy of Her Majesty's Government, I say that their efforts to make Ireland prosperous and happy can never succeed so long as they are confined to agriculture alone. Agriculture, being only the second stage 168 of civilization, by itself can never make Ireland busy and flourishing; so we must look beyond, to the Arts and Sciences and industrial pursuits of all descriptions, to effect that desirable object. Looking back at the history of that country, no doubt we shall find that she has sustained many disasters, and encountered many obstacles to the development of her industries, especially the woollen industry, so that the wonder is that the manufactures of the country are not totally destroyed. I need not go back to the time of William III. and Queen Anne to show that the people of that country had innumerable disadvantages to contend with, which nothing but the most persistent energy and perseverance on their part enabled them to stand against. I think it was about the year 1735, some time after those terrible Acts which tended almost to destroy the various manufactures of Ireland, that the Irish Parliament passed a Resolution declaring that they would use no manufactured articles, whether of clothing or furniture, unless they were of home make, and this with the object of saving those industries from destruction. During the years from 1735 to 1782 the condition of the country gradually improved; but in the year 1782, when Lord North was Prime Minister, he took off those fatal prohibitions which had so checked the growth of the industries of Ireland, and, giving her comparative freedom, the whole commerce of the country began to revive and flourish. I suppose that the commerce of no other country in the world ever increased so rapidly as did the commerce of Ireland about that time. In 1785 Mr. Pitt proposed certain commercial Resolutions which were not agreeable to the Irish Parliament; and in the year 1800 he brought forward those measures which ended in the Union between the two countries, and which, he said, in his speech on proposing them, "would make the Empire more secure, by making Ireland more free and more happy." But was he successful? I do not think the Prime Minister, with his great knowledge of history, will fail to admit that many great evils did result to the country from that Act of Union. I do not wish to appeal to him about that now; we cannot retrace our steps. "Vestigia nulla retrorsum;" but what I say is, let us go earnestly and 169 zealously to work to try to mitigate some of those evils and difficulties which that country sustained in consequence of that Act of Union. I might mention, among other beneficial influences which might be exerted, the example which the Irish nobility and gentry would set by living more in their own country. No doubt, since the time of the Union, there has been a constant drain of wealth and fashion in the direction of the Court and of the seat of government; but I would speak more particularly of those laws by which protection was to be given to the woollen and other manufactures up to a certain period—that between 1800 and 1816 and 1821. At the time those duties ceased, according to the provisions of the 6th Article of the Union, the commerce of the country fell gradually away. The best proof of that which can be given is in the various Parliamentary inquiries which took place from time to time, beginning in 1805, and going on almost every year down to 1835, respecting the reclamation of land, the endeavour to extend a portion of the linen manufactures to the South, and various other matters. Especially would I refer to that great and remarkable Committee in 1835, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Premier, with Sir Henry Parnell, a Relative of the hon. Member for Cork, and Mr. O'Connell were Members. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman cannot carry his recollection back to 1835; but, at any rate, that was one of the most remarkable Committees that ever sat. At this period of the evening my object is to make a short speech, and so I will not trouble the House with the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman as contained in the Report of the Committee upon the subject of public works in Ireland at the national expense; but the right hon. Gentleman at that time recommended that this should be done. But that is not what we ask for now. We have no intention of asking a grant from Imperial Funds to subsidize Irish industries. "What we want is a Committee which shall look into all public Acts and Regulations in Ireland, and by that means and in other ways determine what steps shall be taken in order that those industries which require development may be encouraged, and in every way improved. I must ask the House kindly to excuse me if I do not do adequate justice to a subject so 170 important. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Ministry upon the enormous energy and Herculean strength which he every day exhibits in legislative labour; but, with regard to myself, I feel that I have not bodily or mentally his power. Therefore, Sir, without further trespassing at any great length on your attention, I simply ask the Government to accede to the wishes and desires of the entire people of Ireland by granting this Committee. I am one of those who do not despair, and I say let us try to do all we can—and, for my part, I will endeavour as far as possible—to devote what strength I have to promote the interests of Ireland. There is a Gentleman there who will probably follow me, and, no doubt, do ample justice to this great question (Mr. Justin M'Carthy), to whom I should like to show a most extraordinary book which I have here, published in 1738, but which is now out of the reach of the public. It contains a series of resolutions—32 in number—drawn up in that year by Dr. Madden, a true and enlightened patriot, who gave prizes to a large amount for the purpose of developing the industries of the country. The last resolution I think I may trouble the House with. It is—We resolve, as Members of Parliament, to employ all the beet ways and means that we can for employing our people and increasing their industry.I say, Sir, that if we follow out that resolution, we may, by our exertions, place the industries of Ireland in a better position than they are in now. I will not trouble the House by mentioning all the industries of Ireland; but there is one I may allude to which has been dwelt upon by the hon. Member for Dublin (Dr. Lyons), who, I am sorry to see, is not here to-night. That is the afforesting of Ireland. Now, I have had an opportunity lately of communicating with Mr. Howitz, the Forester Royal of Denmark, and that gentleman points out in a remarkable way the advantages which would result from the afforesting of Ireland. He told me himself that he had been all over Europe, and was never in any country where afforesting would be more productive of benefit in various ways than it would be in the Sister Isle. I have his letter here, which I propose to publish; as it is a long one, I will 171 not trouble the House with it; but in it he shows how Ireland may be greatly benefited by judieious afforestation. Then there is the question of mines, which is one that has been very grievously neglected. We have it on the authority of both Professor O'Reilly and Professor Hull that there are in Ireland great opportunities for the successful carrying on of coal and other mining operations which require only enterprize and capital to secure a profitable result. There are the products of iron ore, slate, marble, and salt, the last so extensively resorted to in agricultural operations. Then, Sir, a great deal might be effected by the manufacture of peat. We have now to go to foreign countries for peat litter, now much used for bedding of horses; but in a country like Ireland, where peat is everywhere abundant, peat litter, instead of being wasted, or brought over from Holland and other places, ought to form an article of export. Then, again, I can myself remember—for I was for two years upon the Select Committee on the Harbour Question—the vast amount of evidence which we elicited with regard to fisheries upon the West Coast of Ireland. That Coast teems with fish of all descriptions; but, owing to the want of harbours and adequate communication by railway, and owing to the defective character of the boats employed, much of the fish either goes to waste on the shores of Ireland, or is taken away to the Isle of Man or to Scotland. That is a matter we have thoroughly gone into, and I believe that the hon. Members for Galway and Dungarvan (Colonel Nolan and Mr. O'Donnell) will agree that we have done some good in that direction, for, no doubt, that source of wealth is very much neglected. I do not wish to weary the House by going into the question of various industries exhaustively—although it is one of vast importance and magnitude—because it would require a long time to do so, even in the hands of such an orator as my hon. and learned Friend opposite the Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell), who would make the subject one of immense interest, and deal with it far better than I can do. I conclude, then, by saying, let us show to Ireland that we, as Englishmen, have a sincere desire to raise her out of the state of deep depression into which she has fallen; but while we 172 allow that what has already been done for the land by the right hon. Gentleman opposite has been productive of good to the agricultural interest, we must remember that agriculture and fixity of tenure by themselves will never make a nation prosperous and great. What the people of Ireland want is employment. Want of employment leads to poverty, and poverty to agitation and crime; and I believe that, to a great extent, the discontent and dissatisfaction which are so prevalent in that country are entirely owing to the want of employment. When opportunities of advancement are afforded, them, no people are more intelligent and industrious than Irishmen. In the course of a conversation I had with Sir Charles Tupper only two days ago, I was informed by that gentleman that in Canada there was no body of men more trustworthy, hardworking, and honest—he would not say sober, although they became sober there when fully occupied—than the Irish; and he added this remarkable fact, that there were no people more loyal to the Throne and Constitution of Great Britain than the Irishmen in Canada. I think that does away with a great deal of what people say as to Irishmen being idle and indisposed to work when they have the opportunity. Give an Irishman work, and his natural ability will always carry him through. Look at their orators, and say what can compare with the eloquence of a Burke, a Grattan, or a Plunket? Look at their painters and their sculptors, among whom the names of Barry and Maclise and Foley and M'Dowell stand preeminent. There is, I affirm, an immense amount of latent ability and genius and artistic skill among the Irish people; and, therefore, I say, by granting this Committee, let every effort be used to wake up the industries of the country, and make the heart of Ireland yours by healing its wounds and arresting its decay. Do not say it is of no use. I have heard people say—"What is the use of a Committee? you have had it before." But I say times are different now. Why, only two years ago, owing to the action of the hen. Member for Carlow, who was then Lord Mayor of Dublin (Mr. Dawson), a most wonderful display of Irish industries took place in the Metropolitan City. Here I have in my hand the record of that Exhibition, and I say 173 it does honour to the country which made such noble efforts to assist itself. Let this, therefore, be a corollary to that Exhibition, by following it up, as far as possible, with an endeavour to encourage the industries of the country, and thus earn the thanks of the Irish nation. I am quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman will find a far greater reward in paying attention to the social interests of Ireland than in exciting and fostering political controversies and contests; for the greatest honour he can possibly receive from those who come after him will be the recollection that he, at all events, during his lifetime, tried to do away with the disadvantages and miseries of the Irish people, and endeavoured to place them on the same pinnacle of prosperity and happiness as we ourselves enjoy.
§ MR. MOORE
said, he cordially endorsed every word which had fallen from the hon. Baronet the Member for South "Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot); and he was sure the Irish people would be deeply grateful for any action which might be taken by the Government in the direction indicated. He (Mr. Moore) desired to bear testimony to the good conduct of the Irish labouring classes. Want of employment was the bane of the country; agriculture was the only stay of the people. Even in regard to that they were being left behind by other countries. The conditions of agriculture were rapidly changing, and they should keep pace with the times. The fisheries and also afforestation ought to be encouraged. It was impossible to over-estimate the value of scientific training in agriculture; and the importance of education in all that appertained to agriculture was important in England and Scotland—it was a question of life and death to Ireland. It would appear from the Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Education that we were, in fact, much behind Continental nations in the matter, for they were making most elaborate and continuous efforts in this direction. While forest culture was highly desirable, it was important that attention should be paid to the tendency of the present day to change the course of agriculture into the cultivation of products more lucrative than those hitherto grown. Surely it was time to ask for scientific instruction, in order that Ireland might com- 174 pete with other countries in agricultural produce. In France there were many institutions for technical training in all branches of agricultural pursuits, and they were largely subsidized by the Government. There were schools for dairy farming, cheesemaking, and also for giving a knowledge of the principles of scientific drainage. It was even to the great French School of Forestry at Marci that the students for that branch of the Indian Civil Service were sent by our own Government. The Government in France also subsidized a school for the training of shepherds in all that concerned the treatment of sheep; and at Rouen they had a wonderful poultry industry fully demonstrated. Of all the different elements of agricultural training, probably dairying was the most important for Ireland, especially in the face of the many substitutes for butter which were now being imported from Holland, the United States, and other countries. The Munster Dairy School, which was mainly supported by local subscriptions, was an admirable instance of what might be done in that direction. That was one among many subjects which the proposed Committee could investigate. He earnestly trusted that the Government would take speedy action in the matter; and he should, if possible, have had great pleasure in seconding the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Warwickshire.
said, he deeply regretted that the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot), who had shown so generous an interest on behalf of Ireland, had been compelled to take the worst Parliamentary opportunity for bringing the question before the House. He hoped he should not disappoint the hon. Member by what he was going to say, because not only could not the vote of the House be taken, but it was quite impossible for the Government to accede to the request of the hon. Member at that moment. They could not see their way to appoint a Committee during the present Session.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said, he had intended to say in the course of this Sitting, because the Government were unwilling to continue unduly this Autumn Session. They would be unwilling, at that period 175 of the Session, to appoint a Committee, simply for the purpose of commencing or continuing its operations next year. The only exception the Government had been able to make to the barrenness of these Sittings with regard to Committee work had been made in favour of Ireland on the subject of labourers' cottages. In reference to it a very important Committee was still holding its meetings; but, with that exception, the Government, in this extremely exceptional Parliamentary period, were quite unwilling to face the difficulties of determining to appoint and of appointing Select Committees. None the less the hon. Member might congratulate himself that he had brought forward the question that night; and the more so because it must be evident that the Government, having no fear of a discussion before them, did not speak under immediate pressure. The attention which he (Mr. Trevelyan) had given to the subject had been given freely; and he hoped the result would satisfy the hon. Member that the Government were not unmindful of the importance of the subject. He was sure that the present Parliament could not be accused of any indifference to the welfare of Irish industries. Assistance had been largely given to the most important of those industries—namely, agriculture; and loans had been given to Irish farmers on such terms as English farmers would be only too glad to obtain. Indeed, Parliament, as regarded internal communication, had departed, in the case of Ireland, from those fiscal laws which had hitherto been regarded as being like the laws of Minos. Besides the aid which had been given to agriculture, that Parliament had also given considerable part of its time to measures brought forward by Irish Members, and no fewer than three Bills had been passed dealing with Irish funds for the benefit of the fisheries of that country. With respect to the Committee which the hon. Member desired to see appointed, he would say that it was a subject on which the Government would desire to consult Irish Members; and he assumed that the hon. Member had spoken in accordance with the views of the majority of Irish Members. He was, therefore, very anxious that Irish Members should be brought face to face with the difficulties which the problem involved. From his experience as Chief 176 Secretary for Ireland he would say that, of all the questions which came before him, the most abstruse, though by no means the most unpleasant, was the question of the encouragement of Irish industries. He could not but say that the expectations of Irish. Members in that respect were sometimes rather too sanguine; and he should be glad for them to have an opportunity of judging of the facts of the case for themselves, and forming their own opinions as to what those branches of industry were which could be forwarded by legislation, or by change in administration, and what those Irish industries were which had best be left to themselves. He thought the question of afforestation was one which could advantageously come before a business-like Committee of the House of Commons; and he trusted that that Committee would look most carefully into the question, and that its recommendations would be well considered, and that they would take the evidence of our own experts of Kew Gardens, who were not only well acquainted with the natural history of trees, but had an intimate knowledge of all economical subjects connected with them. And he trusted that they would not merely look into the difficulties of afforestation, which had greatly increased of late years, as they were common to all countries; but likewise look into those difficulties of ownership in reference to afforestation which were peculiar to Ireland, especially since the passing of the Land Act of 1881. The hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Moore) had referred to the Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Education. He (Mr. Trevelyan) did not know whether anyone had yet had occasion to advert to the great voluntary and gratuitous labour of the Gentlemen who composed that Commission; but, if not, he felt bound to take that opportunity of expressing his appreciation of the great value of their services. He had only examined their Report occasionally and in part; but he was really astonished at the enormous volume of information which they had laid before the House, and, as far as he could make out, in no respect was that information superfluous. He was much gratified to find how bold they were in their Report; how many settled beliefs in this country in regard to technical education 177 they had not hesitated to disturb; and he was told by some of them, speaking with considerable modesty, that their Report itself was not as valuable as the evidence which would be forthcoming in the course of a very few weeks. It was difficult for him to conceive that the value of that evidence would be at all out of proportion to the value of that Report. But when the Committee which the hon. Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) proposed sat—if it did sit—it would have the advantage of having before it the four large volumes of the Report and Evidence of that Commission, and would not be obliged to go over again some of the most important ground which they would otherwise have to traverse It was, at all events, satisfactory to find from the Agricultural Sub-section of the Commission, as stated by the Secretary, that it was doubtful whether in any European country there could be found so practical and apparently so successful a system of giving elementary instruction to children in regard to agriculture as that which existed in Ireland. To that, as to one important branch of technical education, instruction in agriculture—Ireland, therefore, appeared to be on the right road, however much further the Commissioners of Technical Education might desire to carry it. They also reported that there was a general consensus of opinion that the prosperity of the poorer districts of Ireland might be promoted by technical instruction in handicrafts and home industries; and it was also remarked that the children of the labouring classes in that country possessed a degree of manual dexterity which would prove useful to themselves, and to those among whom they live, if properly directed. The principal object, however, of the Government, in holding out great encouragement to the hon. Member for South Warwickshire to move for that Committee next February—if that was the month in which they were to meet—was that Irish Members should have upon them that responsibility, which heretofore had rested upon the Government, of determining what industries could be encouraged by Parliament and what could not. They were not afraid of the recommendations of such a Committee, because, after all, those recommendations left untouched the power which 178 any Government worth the name not only had, but always would exercise over grants or loans from the public purse—a power which any Government worth the name would exercise as conscientiously when it was a question of a loan as when it was a question of a grant. Besides, he had no reason to think that the recommendations of the Committee, which examined into what, in the long run, was best for Ireland, would take the form of recommendations, to any extent, of an eleemosynary nature. He had, indeed, seen it asserted in print that the Committee might make recommendations that would run counter to the received laws of political economy. In the event, however, of that being so, it would be a question for the majority of the House of Commons; and as long as there was a majority of the House—and in the present case it was a large majority—who held to the received laws of political economy, they might believe, in the first place, that a Committee which was a representative Committee of the majority of the House would make no recommendations that were thoroughly contrary to those laws; and next that, if they did, the House would never assent to that part of the Report. He had, however, no desire to discourage the hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire, and would therefore say that what they might hope from that Committee above everything was the authoritative elucidation, by a responsible Committee of the House of Commons, composed partly of Members for Ireland and partly of English business men, of several of those questions which they had debated at great length in that House, and sometimes with a most unsatisfactory result, because they were capable of being treated in speeches which required to be founded on the collection of a great body of materials which in most cases had not really been collected. Finally, the Government considered that that was a most legitimate subject for discussion as early next year as the hon. Member could contrive to get a day; and he (Mr. Trevelyan) earnestly trusted that the general views and expressions of goodwill which he had put forward would meet with the general acceptance of its supporters, and also enable them, perhaps, to get on more quickly with their fiscal Business.
§ MR. P. J. POWER
said he thought I the hon. Member who had introduced that question (Sir Eardley Wilmot) was entitled to the gratitude of the Irish people for the trouble he had taken in the matter. Any casual visitor to Ireland could not fail to be struck with the appearance of destitution which prevailed North, South, East, and West upon the Island. It had been stated that Ireland was over-populated; but, from the tables which he would quote, he would prove the fallacy of the idea that emigration was the panacea for all the distress in the country. In Belgium there was a population of 421 persons to the square mile; in England, 480; in Flanders, 718; and in Ireland, only 160. The hon. Member had a great deal to contend against. In the first place, there was the feeling of apathy and indifference which characterized the House in regard to Irish matters; and, secondly, the opposition of the Prime Minister and other Members of the Treasury Bench had to be encountered. The right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) seemed to be at a loss to know to what the depressed condition of Ireland could be attributed; but the historian, Froude, by no means prejudiced in favour of Ireland, said that England destroyed Irish commerce by Navigation Laws, and Irish industries by differential duties, and that England kept Ireland poor to prevent her becoming troublesome. There could be no doubt that the policy pursued in the past by England had ruined the industries of Ireland, and numbers of even Conservatives in Ireland did not hesitate to say that restitution should be made by England. It was for that reason that Irish Members persisted in asking for their country a separate Parliament as a means of promoting her prosperity. If the proposed Committee were appointed they would be able to show that the only period of industrial success in Ireland, was the few years during which they had a comparatively free Parliament.
§ MR. CHARLES RUSSELL
said he thought it was obvious that the last speech had been elaborated in anticipation of opposition to the Motion on the part of the Government. In his opinion, the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had every reason to be content with the course of 180 the discussion, the result of which he (Mr. Charles Russell) understood to be, that if the Motion were renewed next year the Government would assent to it. It had been said that a very strong opinion prevailed upon the subject in Ireland, and he agreed with that statement. An inquiry would serve the useful purpose of focussing opinions that were based upon the careful consideration of evidence; and it would bring home to individuals—Members of the House and others—a sense of responsibility in any suggestions they had to make. Inquiry would also expose the unsoundness of some views by bringing them to the test of examination; it would dispel some illusions; and it would direct the views of practical persons into a practical channel. He therefore hoped that the Committee would critically examine the evidence which came before them, and that the Irish Members who formed a portion of the Committee would feel a due sense of their individual responsibility. He (Mr. Charles Russell) desired to add that in the opinion of many a Royal Commission would be the more effective method of proceeding.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he thought they had certainly cause for considerable satisfaction in the views which the Government had taken of the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot), seeing that they were by no means such as those they had hitherto entertained upon the subject. Thanks were undoubtedly due to the hon. Baronet for his exertions in the matter. As he (Mr. Gray) had said, the views which had been just expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the late Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan) were not always apparently entertained by the Government; but, now they had recognized the desirability of inquiry into the subject, he (Mr. Gray) hoped that they would take steps to have it clear and effective. The more thoroughly and exhaustively the inquiry went into the whole question, the more useful it would be. He ventured to suggest that the original Motion of the hon. Baronet, proposing the appointment of a Royal Commission, would have been more productive of good results than any Committee could possibly be. As to the responsibility of Irish Members, it was 181 mainly due to the attention they had given to the question that it occupied its present position; and he was quite certain it would continue to be the subject of anxiety to them, and that they would be deeply impressed by a sense of their responsibility in connection with it. If the Government were anxious to fix responsibility upon the Irish Members, he was curious to know why they had not shown it in the appointment of the Royal Commission, to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded. The hon. Member for the borough of Oar-low (Mr. Dawson) had appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella), and had elicited what they all understood to be a distinct promise, that an Irish Member should be appointed upon it. They were, however, surprised to find that that undertaking was not fulfilled in the composition of the Committee. He would earnestly impress upon the Government the difficulty of a Committee, in its limited hours, being able to focus opinion on the subject at all to the same extent as a Royal Commission. Therefore he trusted the Government would reconsider the matter, with the view of granting a Commission instead of a Committee.
§ MR. SALT
said he fully approved of what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Trevelyan), and trusted that those who embarked upon this enterprize would be careful to conform strictly to the strict rules of political economy. Any violation of the plain rules of political economy were injurious both to the giver and to the receiver. He ventured also to express the decided opinion that whether the Members of the Commission or the Committee, as the case might be, were Englishmen or Irishmen, they would be actuated by a desire to do full justice to the Irish people. He would suggest that the hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire should at once give Notice of his Motion for next Session.
§ MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he would point out the difficulty of the hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) bringing on his Motion again in February, if the Session was adjourned till that date. [Mr. SEXTON: The Motion has not been made.] He was glad that 182 that objection had been set at rest by the hon. Member for Sligo. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) thought that, in proposals of this nature, they should be very careful to do nothing that might be likely to raise false hopes in the minds of the people of Ireland, such as the expenditure of Imperial funds in stimulating Irish industries. If those funds were not to be used, the money must be raised by the Local Authorities; and in Ireland there were no Local Authorities who possessed the confidence of the people. He had had communications from the county which he represented, calling attention to the fact that a recent Presentment Sessions in the county had proved abortive, because the Justices, by whose attendance these Sessions would be legal, had not put in an appearance. The magistrates did not attend. The Sessions were held to sanction expenditure for making roads and other important business, and they found that the people of Mayo had not a voice in their local affairs. The Government should either increase the Justices, or take some steps by which the Justices already appointed would be compelled to attend their Sessions, so that the works going on throughout the country might not be distracted. What they wanted was a Representative Body in every county of Ireland, with statutory powers to levy rates for purposes of this description. When such a question came forward in a tangible form, it could not be treated in too exhaustive and elaborate a manner; and he thought that it would then be found necessary to point out the effect of the Act of Union upon the resources of the people of Ireland. There was a general impression in Ireland that the country had suffered great financial losses from that clause in the Act of Union by which the Exchequers of the two countries were amalgamated; and it might not be as difficult as Englishmen imagined to prove that Ireland had a distinct claim on the sympathies of the English people in the matter of taxation in connection with their industries. The first thing that was necessary was a good system of technical education in every part of the country. Fortunately, through the efforts of the Royal Commission on Technical Education, they had ample data to guide them on the subject. One of the chief points to which he would refer was the establishment of a good 183 system of technical education such, as bad brought Würtemburg to its present prosperity from a state of things 50 or 60 years ago similar to those existing in Ireland. They wanted self-government in counties; and they wanted means of reclaiming waste lands. It was wrong to encourage emigration amongst a people while the resources of their own country were undeveloped, and while large tracts of land remained unoccupied for want of the application of labour and industry. The fisheries, too, required to be developed; and the one thing most necessary for the object was a good railway system in parts of the country remote from the daily life of the country because of their isolation. It would be necessary, in fact, to revise the whole railway system in Ireland. If the Government lent its countenance to a movement of this sort, it should do it with a whole heart, and not merely meet a case of political expediency.
said, he was greatly rejoiced to hear the promise that had undoubtedly been given by the Government. He must be allowed to express a hope that they would appoint a Royal Commission on the subject rather than refer it to a Select Committee.