1. Motion made, and Question put,
That a sum, not exceeding £8,111, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1898, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary for Scotland and subordinate Offices.
§ *SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
dwelt on the convenience and advantage Scotch Members derived under the late Government from the presence of the Secretary for Scotland in the House of Commons. The arrangement greatly facilitated the conduct of Scotch business, giving the opportunity for direct explanation and saving much reference 568 and correspondence. All would recognise the ability and courtesy of the Lord Advocate, but his time was greatly occupied with his legal duties. In moving a reduction of the salary of the Secretary for Scotland, he had no intention to say a single word against him personally, he was most courteous and prompt in his attention to all representations made to him. In the first place he desired to refer to a subject that had emerged since he placed his notice on the Paper. There was very strong and general dissatisfaction with the paucity of honours distributed——
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
reminded the hon. Member that no question of that kind could be raised on the Vote for the Secretary for Scotland's office.
§ *SIR J. LENG
recognised the fact that the Sovereign was the fountain of honour, and was proceeding to refer to matters which had been brought under the notice of the Secretary for Scotland, the arbitrary and capricious dismissals of teachers by School Boards, and the desire of teachers for the establishment of a superannuation fund.
§ *MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
regretted that under the present Government the precedent of having the Secretary for Scotland in the House of Commons had been departed from. The hon. Member referred to an item of £100 under the head of incidental expenses in carrying out the provisions of the Rivers Pollution Prevention Act of 1876—an increase of £20. There was also an additional payment of £50 to the inspector. He wished to obtain information as to the cause of these increases; also whether anything had been done to improve the condition of the water of the river Nethy above the village of Causer in the Badenoch district of Inverness-shire. In this the law had been broken, and he considered that the people of the district should not be allowed to suffer from any neglect of officials who were paid to see that the law was obeyed.
§ MR. JAMES DALY (Monaghan, S.)
was sorry he could not join in the 569 compliments which had been paid to the Secretary for Scotland. He saw that he got a salary of £1,800, and he should pay his own private secretary. He was surprised that the Scotch Members had not taken up this point. This gentleman was paid £150 fur his secretary; hut judging from his observation of the way in which he discharged his duty, he thought he could do very well without a secretary; and if the Lord Advocate did not see his way to do without this £150, he should be obliged to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000, according to the notice in his name. He wished to refer to the question of the deportation of paupers from Scotland to Ireland. Since he allowed the Address on the Queen's Speech to pass without a Division, the only opportunity he had of drawing attention to this question was upon the Estimates. The thing to which he alluded was very degrading to Irishmen—it was an insult to them to be told that paupers were sent from Scotland home to Ireland.
*THE CHAIRMAN or WAYS AND MEANS
said the question would properly arise on the Vote for the Local Government Board (Scotland).
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The hon. Member will be entitled to raise the question in a few moments when we conic to the Vote for the Local Government Board of Scotland. Of course the Lord Advocate replies in this House on behalf of the Local Government Board of Scotland.
§ MR. DALY
bowed to the Chairman's ruling. But he should take his stand now with regard to the private secretary's salary of £150; and if the right hon. Gentleman could not waive this salary, he should think it his duty to move the reduction of the Vote. At present he contented himself with awaiting the Lord Advocate's reply.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
said he was not quite sure to what the hon. Gentleman referred. There was no private secretary in the Estimates with a salary of 570 £150. There was a permanent Under Secretary, with a salary of £1,500.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said the salary of the Secretary's private secretary was £300. There was a permanent Under Secretary, a private secretary to the Secretary, and a private Secretary to the Under Secretary. To which did the hon. Member refer?
*THE CHAIRMAN AIRMAN or WAYS AND MEANS
repeated that the proper place and time to raise the matter was when the Local Government Board Vote came on.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
remarked that some time ago the Chief Secretary for Ireland stated that a conference had been proposed on the question of the deportation of paupers. As he understood him, the conference fell through, owing to the action of the Scotch Office.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said he was sure there was a misapprehension. However, the Secretary for Scotland was President of the Local Government Board, and as he understood the right hon. Gentleman's ruling, the point it was desired to discuss would arise on the Local Government Board Vote, and he should then be defending his action as President of the Local Government Board.
§ MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
asked the Lord Advocate if any further action had been taken during the past year in pursuance of Lord Balfour of Burleigh's statement in the summer of 1895, made at a public meeting, that lie was beginning to take action in order to bring about some international arrangement as to the North Sea fisheries. From time to time questions had been asked on the subject, but no progress seemed to be made with the negotations. They had definite information quite recently, that at any rate the Foreign Office had done nothing on the subject; but as Lord Balfour of Burleigh said he was determined to take action on the subject, they would like to know whether any progress had been made in, the course of the last year-and- 571 a-half. He knew, of course, that the subject matter of this concerned fishery legislation, but last year, when he raised the question, the Chairman ruled that if he wanted to call attention to the action of the Scotch Secretary on the subject he must do it on the Scotch Vote. He did not wish to criticise adversely the action of the Scotch Secretary. As be understood It, he was the only official of the Government who had endeavoured to do anything; but as far as they knew his endeavours were fruitless. He should like to learn from the Lord Advocate whether there was any prospect of anything being done at an early date to carry out the design of the Act of 1895, with regard to which he thought a peculiar obligation lay on the present Government. They all knew what Lord Balfour's own opinion on the question was, and, seeing the great and the increasing competition in the fishing industry, they would like to be assured that there was some prospect of something satisfactory being done.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said that of course he could only answer as far as the action of the Secretary for Scotland was concerned. He had made every representation in his power as to the desirability of doing something of the sort indicated by the hon. Member. He had made representations to the Foreign Office, and having done that, the matter passed out of his control. No one who looked at the question from the Foreign Office point of view could be surprised that some time had passed without any definite result. It was far from a simple question as between this country and other countries, and even in that House, as the hon. Member knew, they were not all at one upon it. He could only say that the Secretary for Scotland would continue to press the matter in the proper quarter; but so far as results were concerned, it was out of his power to make any promise.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
asked if the Lord Advocate would be prepared to lay upon the Table of the House the correspondence which had passed between the various Departments on the subject, it order that hon. Members might see what were the objections to any action being taken?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
could not give any promise, but he thought it 572 would be contrary to ordinary precedents to lay an inter-departmental correspondence of that Government on the Table. However, if the hon. Member put a Question on the Paper on the subject he would be prepared to give him an answer.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
replied that the slightly increased expenses under that heading was simply because more river pollution inquiries had been required, and as each inquiry led to some incidental expenses the increase was thus accounted for.
§ MR. JASPER TULLY (Leitrim, S.)
asked if they allowed the Vote to pass so far as it related to the salary of the Secretary for Scotland, would they miss the right to challenge his action as President of the Local Government Board?
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
No; when the Vote for the Local Government Board comes before the Committee the hon. Member and his Friends will be entitled to move a reduction of the Vote asked for in respect of the criticisms they wish to make upon the action of the Secretary of State for Scotland.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
That must be moved on a subsequent Vote. I cannot accept the Motion on this Vote.
§ Question put. The Committee divided:—Ayes, 191; Noes, 43.—(Division List, No. 245.)
§ 2. £27,323, to complete the sum for Fishery Board (Scotland).
§ CAPTAIN PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
complained that the Scotch Fishery Board had to guarantee half of the outlay on 573 telegraph offices. Even half was too much. There were many good objects to which the Board could devote the money.
§ *MR. WEIR
criticised items in the Vote. £1,500 was said to have been paid under telegraph extension guarantees, when £290. 17s. ld. seemed to be the actual amount so spent. The Board was either incapable or incompetent, or were attempting to throw dust in their eves. The funds of the Board had accumulated by £8,000 more than last year. The Board simply set the Scotch Office at defiance. They should be given to understand that they must attend to orders from headquarters and not do what they liked with funds voted by Parliament for specific purposes. £5,000 was put down for a cruiser, but this was wholly inadequate for a suitable cruiser. The late Mr. Esselmont, the former Chairman of the Board, said that a suitable cruiser would cost at least £11,000. If the Fishery Board were responsible in this business, he thought the sooner some of them were out of office the better. He felt bound to refer again to the question of trawling. Unfortunately nothing had been done by those whose business it was to protect the fishermen, and illegal trawling had become very common. He hoped heavier fines would be imposed, and that rules of a more rigorous character would be provided. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to get a law passed to punish not only the toasters but the owners of these trawlers which committed offences against the interests of the line fishermen.
§ *MR. THOMAS HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)
asked for an explanation of the item under the bead of Purchase of Vessels. He was chiefly interested in knowing whether these vessels were intended for the protection of the fishermen on the north coast of Scotland. It was extremely desirable that they should know what the speed of these vessels was, as everything depended on speed. He concurred with the hon. Member who had just spoken as to the neglect which had been shown by the Government in respect of the protection of the fisheries on the north coast of Scotland from the depredations of steam trawlers. Instead of the law being maintained at present, the fishermen who 574 were engaged in an honest business were constantly being attacked, and their nets broken by the trawlers. As a matter of fact, the trawlers frequently escaped simply owing to the incapacity of the Government vessels to follow them up. The Government had made it an offence against the law to trawl within certain limits, and having made that law, they were bound to see that it was maintained.
§ *SIR WILLIAM WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
referred to the extreme need which existed of fishing harbours on the coast of Scotland, and especially on the north-east coast. This was a matter regarding which there was no difference of opinion, and the Fishery Board were extremely anxious to do their duty in the matter, but they had not got the funds. The question was altogether a financial one. He thought it was very discreditable to the Government, who, had had an overflowing treasury handed over to them by their predecessors, and had been able to find money for all the powerful and influential classes, that they should not give a single penny when the lives and property of the poor fishermen were in question.
*THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
thought the question which the hon. Baronet wished to raise ought to be raised on the Vote for piers and harbours in the Highlands and islands. If he wished, however, to raise the question as regarded the whole of Scotland, it might possibly arise now.
§ *SIR W. WEDDERBURN
said it was with regard to the claim of the whole of Scotland for proper consideration in this matter that he wished to speak. It might not, perhaps, be known to the Committee that very large sums were originally given for the encouragement of the Scottish fishing industry. At the beginning of this century, no less a sum than £11,000 a year was paid in the shape of bounties to the industry, but in 1824 a fixed grant of £3,000 a year was substituted for these bounties, whereby the fishing industry was deprived of £8,000 a year. What had become of this sum since 1824? In 1858 another change unfavourable to the Scotch fishing industry was made. In that year a fee of fourpence per barrel was charged for branding the herrings, which had previously bean done free. No 575 one would complain of the fees, if the money were used for the purpose of developing the fishing industry; but the Government placed as a charge on the fees the permanent salaries of the Fishery Board, amounting to £5,000 a year, and pocketed the remainder. He thought that, considering the great needs of the fishing industry, the Treasury might very well have paid the salaries of its permanent establishments out of its own resources, and leave the herring brand fees for useful public purposes connected with the fishing industry. In 1881 the Treasury so far recognised their duty as to hand over the surplus of the fees to the Fishery Board for the purposes of harbours; but they made no restitution, of the fees that had gone into the Imperial Exchequer from 1858 to 1881, amounting to £34,000, which as much belonged to the fishing industry as a house belonged to the man who owned it. There was no justification whatever for the retention of this money, and he claimed in the strongest manner that it should be refunded. The herring brand fees were collected from a harworking class of men who felt the burden keenly. If the money were spent for the good of the industry in which they were engaged they would not complain, but to see a large portion of it swept into the unfathomable gulf of the Imperial Exchequer was enough to disgust any body of men with the Government. Within the last 20 or 30 years fishing boats had immensely increased in size and number. Fishermen were not as hitherto content with fishing near their own shores, but shoved great courage and enterprise in going long distances in search of new fishing grounds. The result was that the existing harbours were absolutely insufficient for the needs of the fishermen. In the southern part of the Moray Firth there was not a single harbour into which a fishing boat could run in all stages of the tide. That state of things was most discreditable to the authorities. In I804 the State gave £11,000 a year to the industry and asked for nothing in return, in 1896 they gave £3,000 with one hand and they took away £5,000 'with the other, so that instead of the State giving anything to the fishing industry of Scotland they were actually making a large profit out of it. He had placed these facts and figures before the Secretary 576 for Scotland and they had not been controverted. The noble Lord had suggested that it was a matter that should be referred to the forthcoming Financial Relations Commission, as he doubted whether that could be done having regard to the terms of reference, he would be glad of the opinion of the Lord Advocate on the subject The fishermen had in the matter of harbours shown a great deal of self-denial and self-help. In many places they had raised locally the amount of money necessary to entitle them to grants from the Fishery Board to improve their harbour accommodation, but in many cases the grants had not been given because the Board had no money. He, therefore, appealed to the Lord Advocate to pluck up courage and insist that this money should be advanced from the Exchequer. They all recognised the services of the hon. and learned Gentleman in the Law Courts in defending the rights of the fishermen in regard to trawling, and if he would but take up the financial question from the legal point of view, and see that justice were done, he would further gain the gratitude of the fishermen.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
asked if the Government intended to take any steps towards giving legislative effect to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Solway fisheries, which was appointed two years ago, and reported last July. That Report showed a great mastery of the subject, and he was sure that legislation based on it would give satisfaction, not only to the majority, but to all persons connected with the Solway fisheries. If the Lord Advocate would hold out some hope that next year the Government would introduce a Bill, he would find that no difficulties were thrown in his way.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said that the fishing population in north-east Scotland felt most deeply the grievance under which they suffered in respect to fishery harbour construction. For many years past the money available for this construction had been most inadequate, and in years when there had been an overflowing Exchequer no additional grant had been made for this very useful purpose. There was a very strong claim for increased expenditure, particularly in view 577 of the money taken from the fishing industry in the years between 1858 and 1881. Grants for the Public Works Loan Commission were practically only available for large works or for the extension of existing works, because the terms exacted were prohibitive to small fishing communities. Even the Provisional Order obtained by the Northeast Aberdeenshire fishermen had to be abandoned because of the terms exacted, although it was the largest and most important community on that coast. The only other sources available for harbour construction were the £3,000 provided for in the Vote under discussion, and a further sum under a Vote in Class 7, which was limited to the Highlands and Islands. This latter sum, moreover, was not only insufficient in amount, but was so distributed that it went to those parts of the country which least required it, and where the fisheries were of least value. Under the Act of 1891 about £36,000 had been expended in four years on the construction of piers and harbours in the Highland counties. But there the value of the fishing industry was much smaller than on the other coast of Scotland. The Fishery Board had power to devote this grant of £3,000 to harbour construction, but there were statutory restrictions to the grant which made the employment of it very difficult. One condition was that the locality should contribute at least a quarter of the expense. In East Aberdeenshire only one harbour had been constructed by tile Fishery Board of recent years, and in two other cases which had arisen in the past five years—one that of a considerable harbour and the other that of a small harbour—the localities were quite unable to raise the amount required. The case for greater expenditure was very strong.
§ MR. JAMES BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that the presence of foreign trawlers in the Moray Firth, from which British trawlers had been excluded, was naturally calculated to have a disturbing effect on the latter; and it was desirable to mitigate the irritation as far as possible. The Secretary for Scotland had endeavoured to prevent the foreign trawlers from selling in Scotch ports the fish caught in tile Moray Firth; but there was no such prohibition in respect to English ports, to which the foreign trawlers accordingly 578 took the fish. Was there any prospect of steps being taken to prevent this? He was told that the foreign trawlers sometimes, after fishing in the Moray Firth, went out to the North Sea, took a few more fish there and then sold the entire catch in Scotch ports, declaring that the catch had been made in the North Sea. If such statements were accepted, it was an encouragement to the foreign trawlers to persist in their present course. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see that those whose business it was to stop the sale of fish caught in Moray Firth required some further evidence than the statement of the master of the foreign trawler, that he had taken his fish in the North Sea and would oblige him to disprove the suspicions of his having caught them in the Moray Firth. This was a matter of some importance, because it had to do with the maintenance of law and order. It would be much more easy to induce their own trawlers to acquiesce for the time being in the prohibition if they did not see foreign trawlers going into the Firth. If they did see them going in, they might be tempted to go in also, and a variety of consequences, which they would all regret, would be likely to ensue. He trusted the Fishery Board and the Scottish Office would take all possible steps to minimise the evils arising from the present state of matters.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE,
in replying upon the points raised, said, in answer to the hon. Member for Ross-shire, that the extension of the telegraphs to various remote places was done in the interests of the fishing population themselves. That was a policy which was right at the time, and there seemed to be no reason to go back upon the undertakings that were then given as to the payment of the sums which were guaranteed to the Treasury. The hon. Member was quite right in the assumption he made that the result of the proposals and promises made by his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that practically these sums would be halved in the future, because the Department would bear half the guarantee. As a matter of fact, not nearly £1,500 had been used for some time, and, accordingly, next year, the whole of the £1,500 would not be required upon this head. This was not a case in which the Imperial 579 Treasury got the money. The money that was not actually expended upon the telegraphs guarantee went into the general pocket of the Fishery Board, and was by them expended on the improvement of their piers and harbours, and upon their general expenditure. Therefore, he thought the strictures of the hon. Member upon the Fishery Board as to their being incompetent went rather beyond the necessities of the case. With regard to the question as to the general policy of the Fishery Board in respect of trawling,, he certainly was surprised at the vehemence of the denunciations of the hon. Member fur Ross-shire and the hon. Member for Wick Burghs, who spoke as if the Government had done nothing. The hon. Member for Wick Burghs said they had made the law, but had done nothing to see that it was kept. He surely forgot that in these very Estimates there was an additional sum of £11,000 for the express purpose of improving the sea police with regard to trawling. This sum was to be expended in the purchase of two new boats, which would certainly put the sea police in a much more efficient state than they had hitherto been. He could not think that the hon. Member was successful in showing there was any grievance in the fact that they had not discussed upon the floor of that House the exact terms of the tendered Estimates. The hon. Member did not find any details because there were no details to give. Tenders had been received, and, aided by expert evidence in what was obviously an expert question, the Department would do their best to secure a vessel which should be so calculated by construction and speed and otherwise as to do the best to protect the fishing industry by showing that the prohibition against trawling within the prohibited limits was respected. Undoubtedly there would always be difficulties, but he thought a perusal of the Report showed that the Fishery Board had been anything but supine in this matter. That Report showed that 23 prosecutions were undertaken last year, and convictions were obtained in 20 cases, the remaining three being not proven. That, he should say, was a very high average of convictions, and was a guarantee that the work was being well done. The fines amounted in the total to £950, or an average fine 580 of £47 10s. The hon. Member suggested that the Board should make more stringent bye-laws, but the Board could not make more stringent bye-laws, because in their bye-laws they authorised the imposition of the maximum fines allowed by Act of Parliament. The only effect of making more stringent bye-laws would be that they would be promptly quashed by a Court of Law. The actual fines imposed represented a fairly high average, and showed, he thought, the wisdom of Parliament, when three years ago it altered the maximum fine from £5 to £10. The hon. Member for Banffshire raised a very much more general question as to the provision which was made for harbours in Scotland generally. As the hon. Member knew quite well, the history of the herring brand fee was that since 1881 practically the whole of the money which was taken under the branding regulation was handed over for the improvement of piers and harbours, except only so much as was retained for the cost of the administration of the brand. He could not say that he exactly followed the hon. Member when he spoke of a sum of £800,000 as the produce of what he called Scotch Customs and Excise. He thought it would be against the whole theory of the fiscal arrangements of the United Kingdom to contend that, since the fiscal union, there had been anything in the nature of Scotch Customs and Excise.
§ SIR W. WEDDERBURN
asked to be allowed to explain the figure. In 1804, £11,000 was received by the Scottish fishing industry from national resources. After 1804, £3,000 was given, so that there was a difference of £8,000 which had gone into the Imperial Treasury in some form or another since 1804. The further sum was made up in this way. The herring brand fees, £5,000 a year, were taken from the herring brand, and putting these together the total amount of £800,000 was arrived at. In some way or another that amount had gone to the benefit of the Imperial Exchequer, and had been lost to the Scottish fishing industry.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said it was a very startling way of expressing it, to say that the sum of £800,000 had gone into the Imperial Treasury from the fishing industry if, as he now gathered, what 581 the hon. Member meant was that the Imperial grant which in 1804 was.£11,000, was in 1808 reduced to £4,000 a year, and that he was entitled to take the balance and, multiplying it by the years which had passed since then, represent that as money gone from the fishing industry to the Imperial Treasury. He thought the statement of the ease was quite enough, without any further comment. The hon. Member must have thought his argument was trenching upon a question of a great deal wider significance, and he laid a little net for him, which he thought had been spread too much in the sight of the bird, by asking him his opinion as to whether this sum would or would not be a proper subject to bring before the Commission on, the financial relations of the three Kingdoms. That was not a question of law. It was a question for the Committee itself, and he should not be asked to give an opinion even if his opinion were of any value. The hon. Member for Banffshire had very frankly avowed that he had no fault to find with the administration of the Fishery Board so far as they were spending money which was at their disposal, and his speech really amounted to an appeal to the Government to give the Board more money in order that there could be further expenditure upon piers and harbours. That was a very wide question, and one upon which he, who had merely to answer for an administrative Department, could not say much. The hon. Member knew, of course, that the fishing industry existed in all parts of the kingdom, and that in the matter there was nothing to differentiate Scotland from England. The Government recognised the great national importance of the fishing industry, and they were very anxious that everything that could in fairness be done by Parliament to improve that industry should be done; but it must be a subject for serious consideration whether they could possibly ask for a grant for Scotland alone. He had no doubt, however, that the hon. Member's remarks upon the subject would be considered in the proper quarter. He did not think his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would ever concede the proposition of the hon. Member that because in 1881 the Government initiated a more liberal policy towards 582 the fishing industry, and said that anything got from the herring brand fees should, after paying for the cost of administration, be given to public works which directly affected that industry, they should now make good all the sums of money which the fishing industry would have got if the policy started in 1881 had been initiated prior to that year. If the right hon. Gentleman did make such a concession, similar claims must inevitably be made in every direction. He was not in a position to give any definite promise that any attempt would be made to legislate in respect to the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries; but he could undertake that during the coming Recess the Secretary for Scotland would consider very carefully the Report of the Solway Commission, and be very glad to put every facility in the way of a satisfactory settlement being arrived at. ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen had put a question in regard to the trawling policy. The policy of the Secretary for Scotland had been to carry out what he conceived to be the sprit of the Act, and accordingly to take advantage of such provisions as existed to prevent fish caught within the prohibited area being landed in Scotch ports. There was no section in any statute which enabled similar action to be taken as regarded English ports. The English ports were beyond the administrative action of the Secretary for Scotland, and therefore he could not say whether anything would be done in the matter as far as English ports were concerned. No authentic case had been brought to the knowledge of the Fishery Board of fish caught within the prohibited area being brought into Scotch ports under the pretext that it had been caught in the North Sea, and he was afraid that it would not be in their power to so alter the law as to put the onus of proof on the trawler owner.
§ MR. R. B. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
said that before the discussion closed, there was a question he would like to put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Lord Advocate had answered for the Fishery Board, and had given a very satisfactory answer. The Fishery Board was doing its work with zeal, and, according to its means, very efficiently, but it was pretty clear to 583 those who had to do with fishing matters in Scotland that the Board was very much hampered, particularly in the matter of improvement of harbours, by want of money. The policy of the Government had always been to assist those who assisted themselves, but it was a matter of common knowledge that just now there were a number of cases which came within the principles which the Government had themselves very rightly laid down, but which the Fishery Board could not deal with because it had not the requisite money. It was not a large sum that was wanted, and he asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he personally would look into the relations between the work of the Scottish Fishery Board in the matter of the improvement of harbours and the means at its disposal? If the right hon. Gentleman would do that, it would be very much to the public advantage. He did not mean to say that the matter had escaped the Chancellor of the Exchequer's attention, but he did not think the right hon. Gentleman realised the extent to which the Board was hampered in its work for want of money.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
pointed out that the grant in aid referred to was found to be inaccessible in certain cases.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir MICHAEL HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
said he had listened carefully to the hon. Member, and gathered that what he wanted on behalf of those whom he, with others, represented in that House was, that additional grants should be made to the Fishery Board in order to aid the construction of a larger number of harbours than the present funds permitted. The hon. Member was no doubt well aware that Scotland was already much more favourably dealt with in this respect than England. Scotland in fact had not great cause of complaint. He had seen something of expenditure on small harbours in Ireland, and he must say that a great deal of the money had been absolutely wasted in Ireland. He had no desire to see the same course pursued in any other part of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member, however, made a claim of another kind on behalf of the poorer districts of Scotland; but he might remind him of the Bill brought in the other day by the Lord Advocate.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to understand the importance of this industry to Scotland, and he appeared to forget that the other day some hundreds of thousands of pounds were found for England and not for Scotland. He therefore hoped that the question would be considered by the Government, bearing in mind that this was a national industry in Scotland. The matter was being left in a somewhat unsatisfactory condition. There were two points to which he desired to call attention. The one was the question of the negotiations with Foreign Powers with regard to the extension of the area of prohibited waters in the North Sea. He thought the time had come when they ought to know the result, if any, of these negotiations, and whether, in the event of the negotiations being unsuccessful, the Government would be prepared to take any other steps in the matter. That was done under the influence of the English Solicitor General some years ago in the case of the Moray Firth. Then there was the question of the landing of catches in Scottish waters by foreign trawlers at English ports. It was idle for the Government to make regulations with regard to Scottish waters if a foreign trawler had only to slip across the mouth of the Tweed and land his catches in England. He hoped the matter would be considered by the Scotch Office. Though they had not the power to deal with the matter themselves, they could bring strong influence to bear on the English departments, and he hoped that before another year passed, the House might have some definite declaration by the Government as to their policy in these matters.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 3. £3,422, to complete the sum for Lunacy Commission, Scotland.—Agreed to.
§ 4. £3,129, to complete the sum for Registrar General's Office, Scotland.—Agreed to.585
5. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £7,951, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1898, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board for Scotland, and for Expenses under the Public Health Acts, Infectious Diseases Notification Act, Vaccination Act, Local Government (Scotland) Act 1889, Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, and Local Government (Scotland) Act 1894
§ MR. DALY
said that for sonic time past he had been putting questions to the Lord Advocate with regard to the deportation of paupers from Scotland to Ireland, and he was sorry to say that although the Secretary for Ireland and the President of the Local Government Board were agreeable to hold a conference, and try to settle this long-disputed question, the right hon. Gentleman had not met them. Last year he moved for a Return of the number of one class of paupers who had been sent from Scotland to Ireland, and from that Return it appeared that 31 paupers had been so deported in the course of one month. If a man who was born in Ireland became chargeable to the parish in Scotland, he could be sent back to Ireland. He submitted that the Irish Members had a great grievance on this point. An Irishman in his young days went to Scotland, he spent all the money he had there, and did his best to improve Scotland with his labour; yet if he became a pauper he was at once sent back to Ireland. If Irish Poor Law Guardians could send Scotchmen, or Englishmen, or Welshmen back to their respective countries if they became paupers, the grievance would not be quite so great; but if an Englishman, a Scotchman, or a Welshman entered a workhouse in Ireland, he could remain there as long as he liked. There was a case of a man who had lived for 50 years in Scotland, who had a wife and family residing there. The moment this man became a pauper, he was sent back to Ireland and was separated from his wife and children. This was a very great grievance that Irish Members had to complain of, and he hoped that this would be the last time the complaint would have to be made. Cases of very great hardship frequently occurred. An 586 Irishman lived in Aberdeen 20 years. He had to enter a lunatic asylum, and was at once sent back to Dublin. Such a case as that constituted a great grievance, and as far as he was concerned, in season and out of season, he would try to raise this question; and if the Lord Advocate did not see his way to put an end to this scandal, it would be the duty of Irish members to oppose Scotch business in every way they could, of course, in accordance with the rules of the House. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.] That was a point upon which he was always anxious, namely, to act in strict conformity to the Rules of the House. To send men back to a country to whose resources they had not contributed one penny was unjust to the ratepayers, and he trusted that in a very short time this scandalous state of things would be a thing of the past.
§ *MR. WEIR
complained of the conduct of the affairs of the Scotch Local Government Board, the officers of which had been taken, over from the old Board of Supervision. He also, urged that a reasonable time might elapse between the resignation of a Parish Councillor and his appointment to an inspectorship under the Board. A case had occurred in Ross-shire in which a retiring Parish Councillor had been appointed an Inspector with unseemly haste.
§ MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said that 13 years ago he raised the question which his hon. Friend (Mr. Daly) had raised that evening. On that occasion and on several subsequent occasions the Scotch Office had acknowledged the grievance of the Irish people. The same acknowledgment had come from the English Local Govern mount Board. Nothing, however, had teen done to remedy the grievance. The question was again raised on the Address in reply to the speech from the Throne, and the Chief Secretary for Ireland promised to communicate with the Scotch authorities on the subject, but nothing had as yet been done. Year after year large numbers of Irishmen were compelled to leave home in order to earn a livelihood. They spent the best years of their lives in aiding to enrich this country, and when they were incapable of working any more they were packed off to Ireland as paupers. In Waterford and many other unions 587 there were often found English and Scotch people who were a burden on the rates. The Irish people were not able to send them back to the countries from which they had come.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
said that this was a grievance which the Irish felt very much. It had no political character, but caused a sense of injustice and tended to increase the Irish people's belief that the English House of Commons was not disposed to do complete justice to their country. The subject had been brought to the notice of the House over and over again, and successive Chief Secretaries had expressed a willingness to remedy what they admitted to be a gross wrong. Nothing, however, had been done. From Ireland English or Scotch paupers could not be deported. It was not an answer to say that there were no English or Scotch paupers in Ireland, because it was very doubtful whether that was true, and, even if it were, the fact that there was no reciprocal power of deportation remained. No matter how short might have been the period of an Englishman or Scotchman's residence in Ireland, he could not be sent back to his own country if unfortunately he became a pauper. He must remain and be supported at the expense of Irish ratepayers. If, on the other hand, an Irishman remained in England or Scotland for any length of time he could be sent back to Ireland if he had not acquired a settlement under the English or Soctch laws. There was not the same law of settlement in Ireland. This deportation was a great interference with the liberty of the subject, for an unfortunate man could be sent away against his wishes to the nearest port, and thence to the remotest part of Ireland. What could be more unjust? When such a state of things was permitted to continue it was hardly strange that the people of Ireland should believe that they did not get equal justice.
§ SIR MARK STEWART
observed that the Poor Law in Scotland differed from the law of England as well as from that of Ireland. He hoped that the Government would not give way upon this point. He had been engaged in parochial work for 30 years in Scotland, and so knew a good deal about this subject. The Irishmen who 588 came to Scotland to work did not, as a rule, remain very long in one place, and the great majority of them never acquired a settlement. Those who did were provided for out of the rates, and were treated like Scotch paupers. The number deported was small, and there was no real hardship. Speaking as a practical man, he said that very little hardship existed, though he suggested that there might be room for reform in reducing the period of settlement to three years instead of five. This reform would in his judgment meet the whole necessities of the case.
§ SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
thought that, at all events, a claim had been established for an inquiry as to whether some practical means could be found to remedy an anomaly and a grievance. The law of settlement was extremely harsh in a great number of cases, and it was, moreover, extremely expensive. In his judgment a thorough reform of the Scottish law of settlement was most urgently called for. The number of paupers deported could not be very great. It was so small that it would not constitute a very heavy charge on some of the funds which were devoted to Scotch purposes by the Scotch Department. If, however, that solution were not feasible, the grievance might be diminished by a careful reform of the whole subject of the law of settlement in Scotland. He would not venture to dogmatise as to how the question should be dealt with. The claim was not for the adoption of any particular plan, but that the Scottish authorities should enter into a conference with the authorities in England and Ireland in order to see whether an equitable plan could not be devised. He hoped that the Government would give their earnest attention to the matter.
§ MR. J. FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
joined in the appeal which had been made to the Government for a reasonable and logical treatment of this Question. He had spent some time in the post of Chairman of a Settlement and Removal Committee of a Board of Guardians, and he was aware of the hardship which often occurred in connection with this subject. The hardship seemed to him not to be clearly represented by the speech of the last hon. Member. The hon. Member spoke of the 589 differences between the two kingdoms; but the essence of this matter was that after all there was no difference between the two kingdoms; it was a difference between different parts of the same kingdom. It was therefore desirable to recognise the duty of equality of treatment between this country and Ireland.
§ MR. JASPER TULLY
recognised the excellent spirit which characterised the speech of the hon. Member, and he hoped that a Division would be taken on the subject. Ireland had a serious and substantial grievance in this matter. Persons of all classes and all shades of opinion in Ireland were agreed about that. It was a. question which, had been long agitated, and it would continue to be agitated until they got relief. What was the law in Ireland? If a man was four years out of an electoral division he ceased to be chargeable to that division, whereas over here it was quite the reverse. An Irishman who came here and lived for 20 or 30 years and then passed some boundary line round Edinburgh or Glasgow, was promptly sent back to Ireland. The hon. Member for Kirkcudbright said very few cases of hardship occurred. If they would only give Ireland equal powers to send back Scotch paupers, pensioners with their families who got a miserable 4d. or 6d. a day for fighting Britain's battles, they would soon find the grievance was a very real and substantial one. He congratulated the Scotch Members on their shrewdness in this matter. Whenever there was a Scotch night, unfortunately Members from the other nationalities did not attend, because the Scotch Members wrapped up their legal terms in a jargon which was not understood south of the Tweed, and so were enabled to pass small Acts to carry out the very things of which Ireland complained. He had always thought it was a mistake that when the Scotch people were getting their Parish. Councils Bill, Irish Members did not fight that Bill, and assist. in wrecking it unless a clause was inserted in it taking away from the Parochial Boards and Parish Councils this power to deport Irish-born poor to Ireland. England and Scotland by their laws had made Irish people paupers. They had killed Measures which would enable them to find employment in their own country, as for example the Indus- 590 tries Bill, which was thrown out the other day by the House of Lords. If Irish. people in this large island were to be deported because they were paupers and poor, Ireland at least should have the same right to send back to England and Scotland the people who came over to Ireland.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said they could all concur in the general sentiment expressed by the hon. Member for Shipley Division as to the desirability of equal treatment between different parts of the Kingdom, but the practical application of those general sentiments was not so easy as seemed to be supposed. He would be very happy to accept as a solution of the question that Ireland should have the right to deport Scottish and English paupers. If that solution would satisfy Irish Members he could offer it at once. But that solution would not be accepted. Scotland had no objection to confer with the offices in England and Ireland on the question, but she did object to hand over to the arbitration of a Departmental Committee, in which Scotland would be in a minority, the right to upset the whole of her Poor-law system. ["Hear, hear!"] It was all very well to say the law of settlement acted harshly. Of course it. did in certain cases, but would the hon. Member for Bridgeton give up the law of settlement altogether, or would he merely reduce the period? As a matter of fact, the Scottish Office had already made an offer to the Irish Office to reduce the period of settlement from five years to three years, and give a guarantee by way of appeal, so that there should be no harsh carrying out of the right to deport. He agreed with the statement that, on the whole, this law had not been harshly worked, but instead of the absolute right to deport, they were willing to give some sort of appeal to I he Local Government Board, so as to insure that in individual cases it should not be carried out if it. inflicted great hardship. That, he thought, was as much as they were entitled to do in the interest of the people of Scotland. ["Hear, hear!"] With reference to the question as to a certain Parish Council in Ross-shire, where a member resigned in order to be made Inspector of Poor, that was a matter with which the Scottish Office could not interfere without legislation.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
thought the concessions offered by the Lord Advocate amounted to an admission that the law at present was indefensible. The hon. Member for Kirkcudbrightshire was the only independent Scotch Member who had stood up to defend the law of Scotland as it was at present. The hon. Member had ill selected his instance of a good Scotch law, and in his humble judgment that law was opposed to the instincts of ordinary humanity. The hon. Baronet confessed that he had had, as others had had for years, the advantage of Irish labour, and in all probability with great pecuniary advantage.
§ MR. T. SHAW
said, at all events, season after season, year after year, came the Irish labourer, and his labour was gladly availed of, and then, at the end of his labouring days, when he found himself no longer able to work, he was flung back to Ireland because it happened to be the land of his birth.
§ MR. T. SHAW
said the Committee would be aware that the law in Scotland was that a settlement could not be acquired unless there had been continued residence in one parish for five years. The Committee would also be aware, from inquiries to which he would advert in a moment, inquiries to which the hon. Baronet himself was a party many years ago, this condition of the law led to great hardships of this kind. A man might live and labour in one parish for three or four years, but it was incidental to such labour that frequently his residence had to be changed, and he had to find work in another parish for a similar period, and so on in various parishes he might spend the Whole term of his working life—he might labour in the country for a generation. This was the case to which he referred as one in which the Local Government Board was confronted with this position—that there was no residential settlement acquired because the man had not had a continuous residence in a parish for five years, though in Scotland as a whole he might have lived for 35 years. In such a case as 592 that he asked the Committee to say—was it a humane law which enabled Scotland to deport this man under these circumstances, with his wife and family, to take him away from this country where he had laboured so long—to deport him and his family to Ireland because of the fact that he, though a labouring man in Scotland for so long, was born on the other side of the Channel? On these grounds it was well established that the law of which he complained was a brutal and inhuman law. There was another ground upon which the law stood condemned, not looking at it in its social aspect, but in regard to the relations between the countries. There was no reciprocity in this matter. Reciprocity was not wanted, for to make the law reciprocal would be to double the cruelty complained of. The system was out of accord with the spirit of the time in which we lived. This was not the first time, and it would not be the last, that the House had had and would have attention formally drawn to this subject. In 1879 a very powerful Committee sat to consider the whole question. The hon. Baronet opposite was a member of that Committee, which reported in terms somewhat different from the speech he had just delivered, though he hoped he did not differ from the spirit of the recommendations. That Committee said,—Your Committee hold that the question of removal should be regarded not merely in the supposed interest of the ratepayers, but with sympathy and care for the convenience and material advantage of the poor.This wound up by recommending to the House of Commons legislation in this sense, and reducing the five years residential settlement to one year. If the Lord Advocate had been able to say now that something of this humane character should be imported into the law of Scotland—if he had given more than the vague promise he had given—it might be accepted, but on the ground that the law was perfectly indefensible, and in its operation was harsh and unjust, he joined with pleasure with his Irish Friends in voting for the reduction.
§ MR. JOHN DILLON (Mayo, E.)
thought the statement of the Lord Advocate extremely unsatisfactory, and that, in fact, it more than justified everything 593 said by the hon. Member for Monaghan with reference to the action of the Scotch Office. He had listened with considerable interest to the eminently characteristic speech of the hon. Member for Kirkcudbrightshire. The hon. Baronet treated this as a matter of small importance, and seemed to think it was not worth while to make it a grievance. It it was the mere bagatelle the hon. Member supposed it to be, why not settle it at once?
§ MR. DILLON
said the hon. Baronet went on to say that which was inconsistent with his proposition, and as a reason for opposing any alteration of the Law of Settlement in Scotland said there was on the part of the people of Scotland very great objection to anything that would tend to increase the rates. Yes; hey objected to an increase of the Scotch rates, but not to an increase of the Irish rates. ["Hear, hear!"] The hon. Member and his Friends would prefer that the increase should fall upon Ireland, the poorer country with the heavier rates. Beyond controversy this was a substantial grievance. For upwards of 30 years the injustice had been admitted, and on one ground or another redress had been denied. On what might be called the sentimental side of the question, the injustice was admitted, but met with an absolute refusal of remedy, though if it was a small matter it might readily be dealt with in a manner that would give rise to better feeling on the part of the Irish people. What was the explanation of this question as affecting the Irish labourer? Under the present state of the Scotch law, though he may have given the best years of his life, or the greater part of each year, to labour in Scotland, the Irish labourer was, when power to work failed him, deported back to Ireland. No doubt the Lord Advocate was right when he said reciprocity would not he accepted as a fair settlement of the grievance. ["Why?"] It was not really within practical politics, for everybody knew there was not the slightest possibility of introducing the law of Scotland into Ireland, and it could not be accepted, because, owing to circumstances upon which he was not now going to enter— 594 but they had frequently been debated in the House—the conditions of life in Ireland were much lower than in England or Scotland, and the inevitable result by the working of a well-known and invariable commercial law, was that from the country where the conditions of social and commercial life were lower, a supply of labour was sent to the neighbouring more prosperous country where the social condition of the people was higher. Under the operation of this law, Ireland sent over to England and Scotland a large supply of labour, and this labour was sought for by the capitalists of the richer country—by farmers, by manufacturers, and others. It was not from motives of philanthropy that the English. farmer or manufacturer employed Irish labour. It was because they got good value for their money. If any man had a right to complain of the influx of Trish labour, they were not the local ratepayers, but the labouring classes, who thought that the introduction of Irish labour tended to depression of wages, but the manufacturers, the miners, the contractors, the farmers who employed Irish labour did so because it put money in their pockets, because they got good value for their money. It was a monstrous thing, a cruel injustice, that this law should be as it was, when it was remembered how this country had risen to its present prosperous condition by the labour of its people, in which labour Irishmen had so large a share. From lack of employment in Ireland, and this he attributed, justly or unjustly, to the Government under which they lived, Irishmen were driven to place their labour at the disposal of English and Scotch employers, and what Irish Members demanded and were entitled to demand, was that Irishmen who worked in England and Scotland assisting to build up the wealth of the country in which they worked should not be branded as foreigners in the country where they had worked, and that they should be entitled to the same protection of the law in their old age as the men with whom they had worked at the same bench or on the same farm. No matter what the law might be in England or Scotland that law should be extended to Irishmen living and working in those countries, and that was a reasonable demand. It was preposterous for the Lord Advocate to 595 attempt to maintain that it was impossible to apply any remedy to this grievance without completely altering the whole law of settlement as regards Scotland. They did not quarrel with the right of the Scottish people to, settle their own Poor Law, but some provision should be made for those who came into Scotland from other countries. It would be perfectly possible, if the question was to be settled and if the Scotch Office insisted that they would not alter the Poor Law of Scotland, to make some special provision for the case of men, who came from Ireland or elsewhere and had lived in Scotland for a certain number of years and had not acquired a settlement under Scotch law, that these men should become chargeable on the Scotch, not on the Irish rates. He thought they had made out a grievance, and that they were entitled to demand that a remedy should be applied to it. Let him say one word as to the extent and Character of the grievance. It had been said in the course of the Debate that the grievance was an extremely trifling one. If it was really so small, was it worth while for the Scotch Office to obstruct the application of a remedy that would remove the bitter feeling caused by it? But he denied that the grievance was small. The rates in Ireland were extremely high, and Ireland was a poor country. They had heard from the hon. Member for South Monaghan, who was himself Chairman or Vice Chairman of a Board of Guardians, that in that one Union within a year £80 was charged upon the ratepayers for the importation of paupers from Scotland. Ho denied, therefore, that it was such an infinitesimal grievance. It was a serious grievance. It amounted to a scandal that a. great British community such as that of Glasgow, Edinburgh, or Dundee should shift from its shoulders a burden of £80 a year and put it upon a poor overtaxed rural community like that of South Monaghan. A return obtained by the hon. Member for South Monaghan showed that in one month—September, 1892—no less than 31 paupers were deported to Ireland from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paisley, Aberdeen, and other Scotch towns. It might be a mere bagatelle to a city like Glasgow to support these paupers, but it was no bagatelle for poor rural districts in Ireland where the rates were already so high that it 596 was almost impossible for the people to bear them. There was another point in connection with this matter which had been alluded to by the hon. Member. Sometimes whole families were deported, sometimes they were separated; and he could imagine nothing more barbarous than to take an old man or woman who had been living for years in Scotland, and who might have children settled there, and although those children might be able to support their own families, yet because they could not support their parents also, the old people were sent away to Ireland immediately they came upon the rates.
§ SIR MARK STEWART
said that by the law of Scotland the dependants of paupers were necessarily compelled to support their families.
§ MR. DILLON
said they could not compel people to support their parents if they were unable to do so. He had been informed of eases in which great cruelty had been inflicted by sending old persons off to some remote parish in Ireland where they were born 50 or 60 years ago, where they now had no friends or relatives left, tearing them away from all the associations they had formed. Therefore, in addition to the ratepayers' grievance, of which they so justly complained, there was in many instances a great deal of inhumanity in the treatment of these paupers. He thought they were entitled to demand some more satisfying answer than they had received from the Lord Advocate, and in order, if possible, to elicit a more satisfying answer he begged to move that the Vote be reduced by £1,000.
§ MR. DALY
shared his hon. Friend's regret that the reply of the Lord Advocate had not been more satisfactory. It was also very contradictory. He meant to infer that their case was a very trivial one. But if it was so trivial, why was not the right hon. Gentleman prepared to infer that their case was a very trivial the Local Government Boards? For the very reason that he was afraid he should be outvoted by the Local Government Boards of England and Ireland. A weaker case than the right hon. Gentleman had made out could scarcely be conceived. He would read a letter he 597 had received from an official of the Carrickmacross Union,—
§ "Workhouse, Carrickmacross,
§ "7th February, 1896.
§ "Dear Sir,—On the other side you will see names and particulars of imported paupers who are in the workhouse.—Your obedient servant,
§ "PATRICK JONES,
§ "Master of Workhouse.
§ "James Daly, Esq., M.P."
§ "Peter McEneamy, in house from last year, after spending 50 years in Scotland.
§ "Patrick Brady, in house for last four years, after spending 40 years in England and Scotland."
§ "There are two or three other cases. Also a removable warrant from Scotland of case last week that did not arrive yet. A man named Patrick Golf was admitted to house last evening in bad health, after spending the last 25 years in England."
That was what had been called a trivial case. It was no small matter for a little Union of only £50,000 rateable value to have a charge of £80 per annum put upon the ratepayers on account of cases like these. ["Hear, hear!"] Here was the declaration made by Peter McEneamy,—
I, Peter McEneamy, of about 65 years, make solemn declaration as follows: I went to Scotland when I was 14 years of age, and spent about 50 years there. I have a. wife and family in Glasgow, and was separated from my wife and family against my will, and sent back here. I told the authorities in Glasgow if I was sent back to Ireland I would jump overboard rather than go back a pauper. I have a burial place in Pathhead Cemetery which I purchased, and I desire to get back there to bury with my family. I have made frequent applications to the Guardians here to send me back to my wife and family.—PETER MCENEAMY. Deported March, 1895.
And here was another case,—
I, Patrick Brady, make solemn declaration, and say I spent over 30 years in England and Scotland. I got unwell in Glasgow Workhouse, and was told by the official there I would either have to leave the workhouse or go back to Ireland. I had to consent to come back here against my will, as I was totally unfit to work.—Signed, PATRICK BRADY.
§ He gave his word to the Committee that he had interviewed these men, and they told him that they were coerced by the authorities in the workhouse at Glasgow to consent to being sent back. When he put questions to the Lord Advocate on the subject, he got over it by the thin 598 excuse that the men "consented" to go back to Ireland. They were coerced. They had their choice—either to go out of the workhouse and starve in the streets or go back to whatever district of Ireland they belonged to. And in many instances the Irish Boards of Guardians had even to pay the cost of their carriage. He was not speaking on a subject he did not understand, and if he felt he spoke warmly the case deserved it. The Lord Advocate had said that it was a trivial matter—
§ MR. DALY
said he was sorry to attribute to the right hon. Gentleman anything he did not say. The expression had been made use in the course of the Debate, but if the right hon. Gentleman did not make the statement of course lie apologised. He was glad to see the First Lord of the Treasury in his place, and hoped he would seriously consider this matter, which some of his supporters thought so trivial, and that lie would think it worth while to remedy the grievance of which they complained. With regard to the law of settlement, if the Government would say that a man who left Ireland for two or three years only should be sent back if he became chargeable during that time, he (the speaker) was quite willing to meet the Lord Advocate on that point. What they said was this—that where a man spent 50, 40, 20, or 10 years in England or Scotland, working for the benefit of those countries, it was a shame to send him back to Ireland to be a charge on rates to which he had contributed nothing. He should be supported by the rates of the country in which he had worked and in which he had lost his health. It was quite time that the matter was settled, and he hoped this would be the last occasion on which it might be necessary to bring the grievance before the House.
§ MR. CAMERON CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said that he thought it would be quite practicable to draw a definite line providing that deportation would not be permitted where a man had been in Scotland or England for a period, say, exceeding ten years. 599 The thing which seemed to him most important of all was that whatever regulation was laid down it should be made strictly mutual, and that exactly the same power should be given of deporting Scotchmen and Englishmen from Ireland as was given for deporting Irishmen from Scotland. ["Hear, hear!"]
§ MR. JAMES JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
thought the statement of the Lord Advocate very unsatisfactory. The discussion that had taken place made it quite evident that the Irish had a great grievance in this matter of the deportation of paupers. Ireland demanded that that grievance should be remedied, and, so far as he understood, the English Local Government Board was quite prepared to remedy that grievance, and Scotland alone stood in the way. He thought there was a peculiar meanness in Scotland standing in the way. Scotland professed to be friendly to Ireland, but in this case the Irish people might well ask to be saved from their friends. The Scotch sucked every spark of life and vitality out of the Irish labourer and then sent him home to be a charge on the rates of his own country. There was nothing of party politics in this matter whatever. He represented a Board of Guardians which was very loyal and constitutional. It was presided over by Lord Belmore, and not very long since this very question of pauper deportation came up for consideration. On that occasion Lord Belmore expressed a very strong opinion on the subject, and the Board passed a resolution against the deportation of paupers. As a member of that Board of Guardians, expressing their views, and having as a ratepayer to pay rates for the support of paupers who were brought from Scotland, he protested in the strongest possible manner against the action of the Lord Advocate and the Scotch Office, and particularly against the action of certain Scottish Members in that House. The Irish representatives had made out a strong case, and had demonstrated that in this matter Ireland was now suffering and bad suffered for years from a crying injustice.
§ MR. JOHN COLVILLE (Lanark, N.E.),
speaking as one who had some little knowledge of the working of the law of settlement in Scotland, considered that the Irish Members had some substantial ground for grievance in this matter. 600 There could be no doubt that in the case of some, at least, of the paupers who had been deported, the employers of labour in England and Scotland had had the full advantage of their labour for the best part of their lives, and it did seem very hard that the law should then send the poor people back to their native land without any regard to the benefit that must have accrued to England and Scotland by their labour during the best years of their lives. The hon. Member who had last spoken, however, did not quite seem to realise the difficulty that stood in the way of the Government and of the Lord Advocate in dealing with this question, in respect to the law of settlement that prevailed in Scotland and did not in Ireland. He hoped the Government would give some assurance that an earnest attempt would be made to remedy this undoubted grievance, and to give to that part of the United Kingdom which had cause of complaint perfectly equitable treatment in this respect.
§ Question put, "That a sum, not exceeding £6,951, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 49; Noes, 97.—(Division List, No. 246.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.