§ MR. DEASY (Mayo, W.)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the following Question, of which I have given him private Notice:—If he is aware of the frightful destitution in Achill, and the other Islands on the Western Coast of Ireland; whether he will take any steps to secure that no person shall die of starvation; and, also, if he can now state, and, if not, when will he be in a position to state, what measures the Government intend to take to enable the people to seed their land and live until they have their potato crop?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. JOHN MORLEY) (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
My attention was called to this subject at the first moment of my taking Office, and I lost no time in consulting the authorities in reference to it. The difficulty, as 124 the hon. Members opposite, at all events, are aware, is twofold. In the first place, these unfortunate people are without seed for spring sowing; and, in the second place, they are, as the hon. Member alleges, in a state of acute destitution—I may say bordering on absolute starvation. The question was most pressing; and, after considering the various courses open to me, I came to the conclusion that, as regards the supply of seed, it was expedient, both to save time and for other reasons, that this work should be a work of private benevolence. I ventured, therefore, to place myself in communication with Mr. Tuke; and with that generosity which we might expect from him Mr. Tuke took the matter up, and collected what he hopes will prove an adequate amount for the seed supply. I believe he started last night, and is now well on his way to the West. The question, therefore, of the seed supply is in good hands. In reference to the other question of the immediate relief of those destitute and starving, Mr. Tuke and the gentlemen on the spot, including the clergy of the various churches, will inform me by not later than the end of this week as to the actual state of the case, and as to the measures and the amount of money they think are required for the alleviation of this misery. I have received, moreover, an important communication from the officers of the Local Government Board suggesting a course for Her Majesty's Government to take; but I have not yet had time to consider it. I only wish to assure hon. Members that the subject is receiving our most vigilant attention, and that measures are being taken to deal with it.
§ MR. DILLON
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had considered the desirability of small sums of money being distributed for the immediate relief of the destitution? He understood there were already some 50 people unable to leave their beds through hunger.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY
I ought to have stated that I understood from the telegram I received this morning from Dublin that a small sum of money was already on its way to be used for the purpose mentioned by the hon. Gentleman, and I hope that that sum will be speedily supplemented.