HL Deb 29 April 1847 vol 92 cc58-60

said, he had to present a most important petition which had been entrusted to him by a highly respectable body of gentlemen in Liverpool. The petition was from the select vestry of that town; it was signed by one of the rectors, as chairman of that body, and by the vestry clerk, and was sealed with the seal of the vestry; it represented the grievous infliction sustained from the number of Irish paupers who were coming over still more rapidly than formerly. The petitioners stated, that 150,000 had arrived since the 1st of December last, according to official returns; but they had reason to know, and they believed, that very nearly 30,000—between 27,000 and 28,000—had arrived, exclusive of those shown by the official returns. The total number, therefore, consisted, within a trifle, of 180,000. The petitioners further stated, that 105,000 out of this number remained in Liverpool, and were there now in a state of perfect destitution; that many cases of grievous diseases prevailed among them, the effect of which must be a wide-spread contagion. He begged their Lordships to consider what must be the effect of thus adding between one-third and one-half to the whole population in four mouths. The petitioners reminded the House that this increase was not one of the people of all classes, but of the poor—that, whereas the Irish Catholic poor in Liverpool amounted usually to between 70,000 and 80,000, they were now no less than 180,000. They then added a hope that their Lordships would pass an Irish poor law with all possible expedition, and in that law restrict the passing of Irish paupers from Ireland into England, and facilitate the passage from England into Ireland of Irish casual poor, which would be the means of relieving them of vast expense. The petitioners, however, were of opinion that the Irish poor law recently passed by the House of Commons would not materially relieve the parish of Liverpool, because the facilities of gaining relief in England, and the amount of relief given, would so greatly exceed that in Ireland, that the paupers would continue to flock over into England as numerously as before. In corroboration of that opinion, he would add that there were documents in the possession of both Houses, drawn up by competent authority, which would show that the passing of an Irish poor law would increase the immigration of which the petitioners so unjustly complained. He would take this opportunity of asking a question of his noble Friend opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne). He had received letters from the manufacturing districts that morning, complaining very grievously of the pressure arising from the existing state of the money market. A great number of orders were in hand from America; but in consequence of the present state of things they could not be executed, and they attributed much of these effects to the Act of 1844. He did not want to ascertain the specific intentions of the Government on this subject; but he wished to know whether they had any intention of bringing in a measure to mitigate or relax the Act of 1844?


assured his noble Friend that the pressure existing in the manufacturing districts had been under the most anxious consideration of Her Majesty's Government; but he was not prepared to say that they intended to introduce a measure of the nature referred to by his noble and learned Friend.


was understood to represent that through the extraordinary pressure in the money market men of the highest credit had yesterday been obliged to consent to give 12 and 13 per cent for discounts.


was rather astonished that public attention had not been earlier directed to the existing pressure; but consideration must be given to more points than one in any discussion upon it. The question to be considered, no doubt, was the propriety of some alteration in the last Bank Act; but another question was the mode in which that Act had been carried out, and the effects produced by the mode of carrying it out. Without expressing any opinion now, he would observe that a measure might be right in itself, but be disorganized by its practical administration. Other questions also must be taken into consideration. Among them were the peculiar state of our trade and commerce, for without the diminution of any demand for any other article of produce, there was an unexampled demand for a larger amount of cereal produce for the consumption of this country than was ever known. These questions were inseparably bound up with any conclusion to which the House might come; and he hoped the whole subject would speedily come under discussion. As to the petition presented by the noble and learned Lord, it was unquestionably true that the people of Liverpool were suffering from the immigration of Irish paupers; but in their petition they made the important admission that the Poor Relief Bill for Ireland would not assist them.


agreed with the noble Lord that the Irish poor law would increase Irish immigration. With regard to the petition presented by his noble and learned Friend, it was necessary to remind the people of Liverpool, that though they suffered from Irish distress, they forgot the enormous influx of wealth which that same distress had been the means of bringing into the town. If they would take the trouble of comparing the amount of relief levied upon them with the large sums they derived from the importation of foreign corn from every part of the world, they would find that perhaps there never had been a year in the annals of the town in which they had obtained profits so immensely great as in this year. He believed the people of Liverpool benefited more by their Irish commerce than by that of all the rest of the world together. If therefore they continued sending these petitions to his noble and learned Friend, it was but right they should be reminded of the immense advantages they had derived, not only from the general commerce of Ireland, but from the severe infliction which that country had sustained.


had no doubt the town of Liverpool had great cause of complaint; but their grievances were not likely to be redressed by the present Bill. He felt himself bound to vote for the second reading of the Bill; but it was in the anticipation and with the certainty that, if it were passed, matters would be just where they were before.

After a few words of explanation from LORD BROUGHAM, the petition was ordered to lie on the Table.

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