HL Deb 23 April 1883 vol 278 cc859-86

in rising to call attention to the distress prevailing in certain parts of Ireland; and to move— That this House, while desiring to impress upon the Government the necessity of securing sufficient relief for the suffering population, is of opinion that a large scheme of emigration is desirable to prevent the recurrence of similar distress, said, that before going into the question of the distress existing in certain districts in Ireland and the remedies that might be applied to that lamentable state of things, he wished, having regard to some observations he should have to make later on, to ask their Lordships' attention to a fact of great importance, as he thought—namely, that not only were a few localities suffering from distress, but the whole country was suffering, not, it was true, from distress, or anything approaching to it, but from a general industrial decline. After the great catastrophe of the Famine, Ireland gradually recovered itself, and commenced to improve slowly, but tolerably surely. By degrees the tendency of laud to change from arable to pasture began to make itself felt; but this change, although involving a diminution of population, and although it might be regretted on that account, could not be considered unhealthy, seeing that it was the natural result of natural laws and the competition of foreign countries. The diminution of the area under cultivation was balanced by an increase in the stock-raising capacity of the country. Between 1841 and 1871 the live stock increased considerably. In 1841 it was valued at £21,105,808; in 1851, at £27,737,395; in 1861, at £33,434,385; in 1871, at £37,515,211—thus showing a steady and most satisfactory increase during those 30 years. But this increase had not been maintained. During the 10 years between 187 L and 1881 the value of live stock had diminished from £37,515,211 to £35,817,311, showing a decrease in value of over £1,500,000. That was a very significant fact. What they saw now in Ireland was this—land going out of cultivation with ever-increasing rapidity. Thus, in the 10 years preceding 1881, 351,770 acres went out of tillage, as against 150,350 acres in the decade of 1861–70 inclusive. At the same time, the amount of meadow land was increasing, but not in anything like due proportion, and the rate of increase was becoming less and less. The increase in meadow land between 1861 and 1870 was 285,495 acres; but between 1871 and 1880 it was only 255,061 acres. There had been in this period a large decrease in the yield of barley and wheat, and a very small, insignificant increase in oats. The area under root crops had also diminished, the number of live stock had fallen off since 1872 by 72,550 cattle and 191,761 sheep. Ho had used the statistics of the last 20 years as far as practicable, and, except in the last instance, had not taken into consideration the last two years at all. But his contention that the whole agricultural industry was falling off in all its branches would be greatly strengthened if the statistics of the years 1881 and 1882 were used. These facts showed that the country was not only gradually changing from arable to pasture, but that the whole production of the country, whether in crops or stock, had diminished, especially since 1871. It showed not a transference of capital from one industry to another, but an absolute withdrawal of capital from profitable employment. Nor was there any sign that the capital withdrawn from agricultural industry was being transferred to any more profitable employment. On the contrary, with scarcely an exception, all the other industries in the country appeared to be also languishing. The value of the fisheries and the number of people employed in them had greatly diminished. In 1857 the vessels and boats employed numbered 12,578; in 1881 they numbered 6,458—a diminution of nearly half in 25 years. The number of men and boys employed in 1857 was 53,673; in 1881 there were only 24,528 men and boys engaged in those fisheries, showing a falling-off of something more than one-half in the number of persons employed. During the last five years— the only years in regard to which he had been able to obtain information— the value of the Irish herring fishery had greatly diminished. In 1877 it amounted to £350,232; in 1878 it was £220,278; in 1879, £139,880; in 1880, £101,113; and in 1881 it was only £63,876; so that in the year 1881 the herring fishery was not worth one-fifth of what it was four years before. There was no indication that during this period a profitable transfer of capital from one employment to another had taken place. The production of flax alone during two or three years showed an increase, which was not maintained. The picture was not a very satisfactory one. He did not wish to compare it with the comparative period of prosperity which Ireland enjoyed before the Famine. That prosperity was artificial and fictitious, and could not last. It was caused by Protection and high war prices, and by the reckless manner in which occupying tenants holding largely under middlemen who tad leases, and not being, therefore, under the control of the landlords, sacrificed the future of their country to their present advantage by burning the land—a crime from which the country had never recovered. When these stimulating causes were removed the country was bound to decline. Neither would he see cause for alarm in the fact that land was going out of cultivation, provided that an increase in live stock showed that capital and labour formerly employed in tillage were transferred to more profitable employment; but he did see cause for alarm in the fact that land was going out of cultivation, and that, at the same time, live stock was diminishing, that the fisheries were declining with the greatest rapidity, and that nearly all the industries in the country were in an unhealthy and decaying condition. He could only account for that state of things by an absolute withdrawal of capital from any kind of employment, owing to the great insecurity for property and capital which had been experienced in Ireland for the last few years. So much for the general condition of the country. As to the distress existing in particular districts, it was unnecessary for him to say much in proof of that fact. It was shown by the Returns lately made by the Local Government Board in Ireland, and by the Reports of the Poor Law Inspectors to that Board. The Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant had admitted it in the able speeches which he had delivered on that subject in the other House of Parliament. Speaking last February, he said— The condition of the poorest class of farmers is more deplorable than that of any class of people living in any civilized country; and he allowed that the population in certain distressed districts was "in a state of social and financial crisis." The condition of the people in the Western districts of Ireland was most deplorable. At the best of times they lived on food insufficient in quantity and inferior in quality. They lived in the utmost misery and squalor, not only without luxuries, but without the necessaries or the decencies of life; and at shortly recurring intervals their normally miserable condition became intensified to partial and sometimes actual famine. The whole circumstances of the lives of these people were most injurious, both to their moral and physical nature. Certain Western districts of Ireland had always been subject to periods of acute distress, and that they should be suffering at the present moment was very significant, owing to the fact that the distress occurred after Ireland had enjoyed three fairly good harvests, and after a very large sum of money had been expended in the relief of those poor and distressed districts. The value of the harvest of 1880 was £32,657,138. The harvest of 1881 was valued at £34,348,911. The value of the yield of the year 1882 showed a falling-off, for it amounted to only £28,530,744; 1882 was a bad year, though not disastrously bad. In those three years, therefore, of 1880, 1881, and 1882, the harvests, taken together, were above the average. During the last three years, also, public money to the amount of £1,500,000, contributed from the Irish Church Fund, and private charity to the amount of £500,000, was expended in relief; yet after the expenditure of all this charity, and after three harvests better than the average, they found the people in large districts in a state of extreme destitution. He had not the slightest doubt that the Government fully under-stood the gravity of the existing state of things, that they were prepared to deal with it, and were dealing with it in the proper manner. He believed they were perfectly right in relying upon the administration of the Poor Law to meet the difficulty. It might seem hard and cruel to say so; but he was perfectly convinced that such a course was, in the long run, far the most merciful to the people themselves. The evil consequences of relief works had been sufficiently proved in the past. He was not, therefore, specially concerned to ask now about the immediate steps to be taken, though he should be glad to hear from the noble Lord the Lord President of the Council that the distress was being dealt with in a satisfactory manner, and that the worst was over. But what he was most anxious about was to know what stops were to be taken to prevent the recurrence of a similar state of things in the future. It was, in his opinion, necessary that some large and comprehensive measures should be undertaken. It was not too much to say that our whole commercial and financial system, our method of governing, and our civilization, were at stake in this matter. Ireland enjoyed a com- parative and, as he had said, a fictitious degree of prosperity under Protection; but under the system which had superseded Protection the country was deteriorating. It was certain that at the bottom of the demand for Home Rule, which was generally attributed to vague and unfounded national aspirations, there was a strong feeling on the part of the people that, however beneficial our commercial system might be to Great Britain, where there were good markets for produce of all kinds, and where the bulk of the population lived by manufactures and industries, it was not beneficial to a purely agricultural country like Ireland. If by wise action on the part of the State the contrary could be proved, more would be done towards persuading the people of Ireland of the advantages of the British connection than any amount of argument, or the most eloquently conclusive proofs of the economic soundness of Free Trade principles. The remedies that, to his mind, might be applied were simple; but they required to be applied in a large, generous, and comprehensive spirit. The method that had hitherto been adopted was to spend large sums of public and private money in charity whenever the necessities of the case required it. Mr. O'Connor Power, in a most interesting speech delivered the other day in the other House of Parliament, put the total amount spent during the last 50 or 60 years in, to use his own words, "supplementing poor incomes and relieving distress," at £50,000,000. In the year 1880 alone £2,000,000 had been expended in affording temporary relief. But this vast expenditure of money had in reality done, if anything, more harm than good. It had merely tended to perpetuate poverty and pauperism, and had made the Irish people to depend upon the British connection in the most unhealthy manner. They lived like poor relations upon the charity of a rich relative. Such a connection destroyed all sense of manly independence in the people. It had undermined their moral character, and had had no permanent effect in improving their material condition. That was the case because no real statesmanlike effort had been made to grapple with the difficulty, which consisted of over-population, or, what was the same thing, want of employment, and in consequence excessive competition. Every statesman re- cognized this fact; but no Government had as yet propounded a remedy. The Land Act of 1881 would do no earthly good in this direction; indeed, the legislation of the last 12 years had increased the evil. The security granted by the Act of 1881 to tenant-farmers might induce them to lay out more capital and labour upon the land, and might make them more contented; but there was nothing in that Act that could possibly reduce the excessive competition for land. Either employment must be found for the people at home, or they must be assisted to move to localities where employment awaited them. It appeared as if all Governments dreaded the unpopularity with which schemes of emigration were looked upon by employers of labour who were voters, and as if they feared to be accused of violating economic laws or wasting public money by endeavouring to create employment at home. They had, therefore, adopted a middle course, and endeavoured to meet exceptional distress by temporary measures, which merely demoralized the people, and did no good whatever. He had said in his Notice that emigration was desirable under any circumstances; but he did not wish to commit himself to the opinion that emigration was the only effective measure that could be tried. Many other measures were suggested; some altogether bad, some good. They had heard a great deal about migration and reclamation of waste lands. In his opinion, such schemes could not be of the slightest use. In the first place, the amount of really waste land was not very great in Ireland. Nearly all the land commonly called waste land was grazed over by sheep or cattle. Such land was sometimes described as improvable waste land; but he did not believe it could be improved by being turned from pasture to tillage by a large expenditure of public money. Tillage was a declining industry; and it was, therefore, contrary to common sense to lay out a great deal of capital upon it. In the second place, if it were undertaken, it would undoubtedly cost a great deal of money, and it would do no good. It might afford temporary relief to the congested areas; but ultimately it would only increase the size of the areas of congestion. The families planted upon the reclaimed lands would increase and multiply. Sub-division into minute hold- ings would take place. The land would always be poor in quality, and after a few years the suffering now confined to a few districts on the sea coast would be extended over other parts of the country. Moreover, the people who had grazing rights over these waste lands would be unwilling to give them up, and it was difficult to see on what plea of justice or necessity they should be deprived of them. But if the grazing capabilities of these lands could be increased by the employment of public money in drainage, then he had no doubt the expenditure would be repaid, if not directly, at all events indirectly, by the increased prosperity of the country. If, however, a large sum of money was to be expended upon public works, it would be most profitably employed in making roads and narrow gauge railways, by tapping the fisheries of the sea coast, and developing the resources of the country. Much had been said about the undeveloped wealth which lay in the sea; and a considerable sum of money had been granted from the Consolidated Fund and other sources to build piers, and to make small gifts and loans to Irish fishermen on the West Coast. As far as any practical results had followed, the money might just as well have been thrown into the sea. It was sometimes said that Celts never took kindly to the sea, and that the Irish fisheries were consequently neglected. That was not so. The Celts in Scotland, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man were first-rate fishermen; and the Irish Celts on the West Coast did the best they could with the means at their disposal. But they could not cope with the natural difficulties they had to encounter. The Western Coast of Ireland was the most tempestuous coast in the world, and the fisheries could only be carried on in powerful boats. They required large capital and expensive plant and a race of experienced fishermen. None of these requisites were to be found in Ireland, and they could only be supplied by inducing English boats to fish Irish waters. If the Government desired to develop the fisheries they must give aids or bounties, in some shape or other, in consideration that the vessels fishing those grounds should employ a certain number of local native Irish apprentices. By this means a race of experienced native fishermen would be created, and the vexed question of the value of the fisheries would be solved. If the fisheries turned out to be remunerative private enterprize might be relied upon, after a time, to carry them on. But private enterprize would never start them; the difficulties in the way were too great. He did not say such a scheme ought to be carried out, but it would be effectual; while to spend money in loans to fishermen was wasting money. The absence of manufactures was a topic on which he would merely touch. Everybody knew that they had existed at one time, and that they were put down because they interfered with the interests of English manufacturers; and, in his opinion, they could not be re-created. How could any man expect them to revive until the country was governed on some continuous system? So long as experiments with Radical theories were tried upon that unfortunate country, they need not expect the industrial resources could be revived. Ireland, too, laboured under great natural disadvantages. He remembered a speech delivered two years ago by Mr. Bright in which he commented upon the absence of manufactures in Ireland, and dilated with enthusiasm upon her magnificent water power. Mr. Bright happened incidentally to mention later on that he knew no disadvantage under which Ireland laboured, except that she did not possess so good a supply of coal as Great Britain. That, however, made all the difference. What would Great Britain be without coal? Mr. Bright asked why, in the name of common sense, not one single manufacture of any importance had been established in Ireland in the last 100 years? He (the Earl of Dunraven) would say—How, in the name of common sense, could you expect manufactures in a country, where they were systematically suppressed, and whore there was no security for property, and no stability of government? Though he acknowledged the strength of the argument that, as manufactures did spring spontaneously from Irish soil and were killed by the short-sighted selfishness of English manufacturers and mill-owners, and that, therefore, they might be revived, he was convinced that the water power of Ireland could not compete with the steam power of England, and did not believe that any effort to create large manufactures would be successful. He took a much, more hopeful view of the possibility of creating small industries. There was an immense quantity of material more or less made up imported into London from various foreign localities, all of which could perfectly well be made in Ireland. All kinds of knitted goods, basket work, wood carving, embroidery, and lace were supplied by Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, and even from so far as the Island of Madeira, and might be produced in Ireland. In Austria a regular trade had been created in this class of goods by the assistance of the Government, and a considerable population in certain localities had been lifted out of extreme destitution into a condition of fair prosperity. The Irish people were eminently adapted to this kind of work; but they must be helped and taught. Technical instruction must be given to them and material supplied— in fact, the State must undertake the duties of an agent and instructor for a time. It must put the people of those Western districts of Ireland into communication with the wholesale dealers in London, and must provide them with technical instruction, tools, and material. It might be urged that if there was so much demand for this class of goods, and if they could be supplied as cheaply or cheaper in Ireland than elsewhere, why was it that Ireland did not already supply them? The facts were —first, that there was no capital, no security was felt by small capitalists, and they had no incentive to energy; secondly, the Irish people seemed to be incapable of originating. Any man who had had experience in Ireland would agree with him that no people were more intelligent or quick to learn, or were possessed of greater dexterity. He knew himself by experience how easily a common mason or rough carpenter could be turned into a skilled artizan, a cunning carver of wood and stone. The people had all the inherent qualities necessary for success in industries where quick fingers and intelligent brains wore required, but had not the qualities enabling them to take the initiative and create work for themselves. It might be objected that State assistance in the shape of technical education, providing tools, material, and so on was in violation of Free Trade principles. So it was to a certain extent; but they did not pretend to carry out Free Trade principles to the bitter end. Moreover, Ireland was in an artificial condition and required State help. There was no capital in the country, and capital would not flow into the country; and if the State would not undertake the matter there was no chance whatever of improvement. He did not believe that in any other way could public money be so well applied as in fostering home industries. Laying out public money in schemes of reclamation and migration would be wrong in every sense. It would not permanently improve the condition of the people. It would be sinking money in a declining trade, and it would be forcing the people into an occupation for which they were not by nature well adapted. The Irish were not an agricultural people. They were, of course, all engaged in agriculture in Ireland, because there was, practically speaking, no other way in which they could make a living; but when they found themselves in a country where other openings existed they distinctly showed their preference for other trades. There were great numbers of Irish resident in England. None of them were engaged upon the cultivation of the land. According to the Census of 1870, the number of native Irishmen in the United States was about 2,000,000, and of these only 38,425 were engaged in agriculture, though there could be no doubt that the great bulk of these 2,000,000 were composed of agricultural labourers and small farmers. If home industries were started and fostered for a sufficient time to get firmly rooted in the country, the people would take to them readily, and by that means good would be done. The precarious living which small farmers made out of the soil would be supplemented by the produce of their own labour at home, and of that of their families. Money begat money, and trade created trade; and in the course of time, provided always that Ireland enjoyed a period of good government and peace, and that capital was enticed back to the country, larger manufacturing industries might possibly spring up if the circumstances of the country should permit. If nothing was to be done in the direction he had indicated, then emigration on a large scale was an imperious necessity. Even if the Government did endeavour to provide employ- ment at home, still emigration was desirable and necessary, because the evils of congestion and over-competition were pressing, and it must take some time before the good effects of the encouragement of industries could make themselves felt. A certain amount of emigration was promoted by private individuals, as in the case of Mr. Tuke; but it was impossible for any private individuals, or society of individuals, to make any real impression upon the mass of misery that called for relief; and the assistance offered by Government up to the present was insufficient. Emigration must be undertaken by the State in a large and generous spirit. He was strongly of opinion that emigration should be directed to the Colonies, and for several reasons. The bulk of Irish emigration would always be across the Atlantic. State-aided emigration should be to Canada, because the Government could, by putting itself into communication with the Canadian Government, or with responsible persons or Corporations in Canada, obtain additional security for money advanced, could see that emigrants were properly looked after on landing, were conveyed with all possible comfort to their destination, and were fairly established there. It was to the advantage of the emigrant to go to Canada. It was obviously to the advantage of Canada, and it was to the advantage of Great Britain also. In assisting to develop Canada, we were increasing the purchasing power of our customers, of a people who bought largely from us. The increase of the United States was comparatively of no importance to us. It made a great practical difference to the working classes at home if a man emigrated to the United States or to Canada. In the latter case, he continued to buy from us; whatever he was worth in any respect remained to the credit of the British Empire. But, in the former case, he was as much lost to us as though he were dead. There were other reason s why emigration should be to the Colonies. The Irish in the States were most unreasonably inclined to think that the prosperity they enjoyed there was owing to their escape from the British yoke. In the Colonies they found, at any rate, equal prosperity under the British Flag. From motives of humanity and prudence emigration should be as, far as possible, by families. The break up of family ties caused great and unnecessary pain; and it was not just or right that the bread-winner should be encouraged to emigrate, leaving those naturally dependent upon him to be a charge to the community. There was another reason, and a vitally important one, why emigration should be conducted on a considerable scale by the State. In emigration, if left alone, the principle of selection operand with most fatal effect upon the community at home. The strongest, the most intelligent men went. The feeble, the idle, the ignorant and stupid, all who were incapable of or indisposed to active exertion, stayed at home, and thus the country deteriorated in physique and moral character generation after generation. Emigration should be conducted on a large scale, and under such conditions as would induce some of the small and utterly broken tenants to leave. At present it was almost impossible to induce men who occupied small patches of poor land, on which they lived in a state of semi-starvation, to emigrate. They preferred misery, to which they were accustomed, to the uncertainty of settling in a new country. The feeling of uncertainty, which, as matters stood, naturally made them dread going out to a new country, should be removed as far as possible. Of course, there were various obstacles in the way of any such scheme as he suggested. It was opposed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy a fact most deeply to be deplored. He could understand and sympathize with the objection that Bishops and priests had that their flocks should be taken from their influence and subjected to the demoralizing influences of great towns. All such danger could be avoided by a properly conducted system of emigration to Canada. But as regarded emigration as a principle, he could not sympathize in the least with the priesthood in the dislike with which they regarded it. He looked upon it as the most merciful means provided for us, whereby misery and vice might be abated, and some of the worst consequences of civilization avoided. The great problem of the time was, how to prevent the pressure of population upon means of subsistence caused by the effect of civilization upon the rough and cruel means whereby nature checked population. To solve the problem they must rely, to a great extent, upon emigration. It was lamentable to reflect upon the pauperized, miserable lives led by thousands in the "West of Ireland, and to contrast it with the comparative wealth that was waiting for them across the Atlantic. Emigration would prove the greatest blessing to those emigrating and to those who remained behind. It was surely the duty of a Government to encourage a movement so desirable by every legitimate means. He was not inclined to take an over sanguine view of the future of Ireland. He thought it wiser to abstain from glowing prophecies when he reflected upon the bright anticipations formed by the Government in 1871, and compared them with the actual condition of the country. It was not wise to prophesy. He expected no wonderful and immediate transformation to be wrought by any means. He had a strong conviction that much benefit would result from the introduction and fostering of small home industries; and he was perfectly certain that a well-considered large scheme of emigration, sufficient to relieve local congestion, to reduce extreme competition, and to produce a fairer balance between the supply and demand for land and labour, was most desirable, and, in fact, absolutely necessary. With such plans as these in operation there would be some ground for looking forward to a bettor state of things in the future, provided always that Ireland had an efficient system of Government and that law and order were maintained. He was, as a rule, strongly opposed to the principle of State interference. But there were exceptions to every rule, and he begged their Lordships to consider that he was only recommending a change in the method whereby they interfered. All gifts, all loans at exceptionally low rates of interest, were distinct instances of State interference. The State was constantly interfering on behalf of Ireland. But it interfered in a wasteful manner, and in a way that did no real good. He ventured to think that by encouraging small home industries and emigration, interference would be limited, and would prove of real and lasting benefit to the country. He begged to move the Motion which stood in his name.

Moved to resolve— That this House, while desiring to impress upon the Government the necessity of securing; sufficient relief for the suffering population in. certain parts of Ireland, is of opinion that a large scheme of emigration is desirable to prevent the recurrence of similar distress."—(The Earl of Dunraven.)


said, that his noble Friend (the Earl of Dunraven) had directed their attention to a subject of great interest; it was one of the most important of that group of Irish subjects which, from time to time, came before their Lordships' House. There was one consideration from which his noble Friend might draw a few grains of comfort. Whatever opinion their Lordships might entertain with regard to his noble Friend's conclusions, there could be very little difference respecting the facts from which he had drawn them. Ireland was a country without manufactures, without coal, and almost without mineral resources. The climate did not lend itself to the cultivation of crops usually associated with a thick population. But, in spite of that, the population was denser than that of any European country, except those in which extensive industries and manufactures prevailed. He had observed an interesting statement on this point, to which he would refer. Spain had a population of 90 to the square mile, Portugal 120, Denmark 130, Austria 150, and Switzerland 170 to the square mile. The population of the whole of Europe, excluding Russia, was 125 to the square mile, while in Ireland there were 170, or, excluding lands officially returned as waste, 208 to the square mile. That one fact spoke volumes in favour of the view taken by his noble Friend. Then there was a question as to the size of the holdings. Out of a total of 600,000, 400,000 were below £10 a-year Poor Law valuation, and of these 220,000 were below £4. Of a large number of these small holdings, it had been admitted again and again that if they were held rent free the tenants would still live in a state of chronic misery. But behind this class there were the labourers, whose lamentable plight his noble Friend had described the other evening. In the course of that debate the Lord President took rather a sanguine view of the prospects of the labourers. He felt some doubt as to the justice of that view, because they could not look forward, he was afraid, in the future to any very large expenditure of capital by Irish landlords in em- ploying labour, and because he believed that the larger farmers would be slow to locate labourers on their holdings from a dread that they in turn would endeavour to obtain concessions at their expense. But what had been the result of this state of things hitherto? Just as this country did not go through five years without a "little war," so Ireland, in the same period, always suffered from a little famine. If these districts showed any signs of improvement, the prospect would not be so serious; but it was a remarkable fact that, while the rest of Ireland had undoubtedly made considerable progress, they had remained much in the same condition as that in which they had been for the last 30 or 40 years. He did not know whether their Lordships had observed a statement of Professor Baldwin, made before the Richmond Commission. It was a remarkable one. He said— What I should like to convey is that there has been in Ireland a considerable growth of wealth and of the middle class—which is a remarkable feature—sprung from the farming class, but also that the increase of wealth has been confined to them, and has not gone down to the small farmers. Those men whose holdings are small are in as bad a position as they were 40 years ago. I think my colleague will agree with me in that. He would then for a moment draw their attention to the incidence of poor rates. He would take three out of the five Unions originally scheduled in the Arrears Act of last year. In Clifden, on a total valuation of £25,000, the rates were 5s. b£d. In Newport, on a Poor Law valuation of £13,000, the rates were 6s. 5d.; and in Belmullet, where the valuation was only £11,000, the rates were 11s.d. By whom were these rates paid? Either by the tenants themselves, who were on the borders of insolvency, or in the case of the small holdings, below £4, by the landlords, who were, in many cases, unable to meet the charges to which their property was subject. In Mayo, Donegal, and Galway, 50 per cent of the holdings were under £4 valuation. In all those cases the rates had to be paid by the unfortunate owners. He had said that there had been no improvement; but it was a question whether the people in, those parts of Ireland were not going from bad to worse. There were, certainly, two facts which justified that conclusion. One was the falling-off in the English demand for agricultural labour, induced, probably, by recent events which had happened in Ireland, and the other was the gradual deterioration of the potato crop on which the people depended. In these circumstances, the conclusion appeared to be inevitable that the people could not be left as they were, but that something must be done in order not merely to afford temporary alleviation of their condition, but in order to make it permanently better. He listened with attention to what fell from his noble Friend in regard to public works. His noble Friend had drawn a sound distinction between works intended permanently to develop the resources of the country and those resorted to merely as an expedient for finding work for the superfluous population. Now, while a good deal was to be said in favour of the former kind of public works, he must express his satisfaction that the Irish Government had steadfastly set their faces against recourse to the latter. He had the profoundest suspicion of schemes, no matter how well intended, for the reclamation of unprofitable bogs, the development of apocryphal fisheries, and the institution of small manufactures of objects interesting in themselves, but of no value towards the improvement and the material prosperity of the country. All those schemes were calculated to develop the worst characteristics of the Irish character—namely, dependence and improvidence. They had the further great drawback that they effectually demoralized all private effort while they were in operation; and, worst of all, they effectually put a stop to any scheme for the real and permanent improvement of the condition of the country by relieving it of superfluous population. While he approved of the action of the Government with regard to certain classes of public works, he must, in passing, commend Earl Spencer for the decision with which he had resisted all attempts to extort from him a relaxation of the regulations under which Poor Law relief was administered. He might appeal to those who had had experience of Poor Law Boards, either in England or Ireland, whether it was not often impossible to induce the average rural Board of Guardians to grasp the intricate economical problems which underlay the apparently simple questions brought before them. In Ireland the prospect in regard to outdoor relief was already a very serious one. The Returns of the Local Government Board showed that in 1855 there were only 655 persons receiving outdoor relief. Twenty years later, in 1875, the number had sprung up to 30,000, and last year it was no fewer than 60,000. Taking the sum expended on outdoor relief in 1861, it was about £10,000; in 1871 about £70,000, and in 1881 about £182,000. With those figures before them, and considering that they were likely to have a change in the law of rating which would probably diminish the incentives to prudent administration on the part of the Guardians of the different electoral divisions, and looking forward, also, to possible changes in the whole system of local government in Ireland, and remembering what the conduct of some of the Boards of Guardians in Ireland had been, he thought it would be sheer madness at this moment to relax the law in the direction of increasing the facilities for outdoor relief, or to educate the people further in the mischievous belief that while there was disgrace attached to entrance into the workhouse there was nothing discreditable in living at the expense of their neighbours outside its walls. The facts he had mentioned pointed to the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary to remove from those congested districts some part of their population. He concurred in what his noble Friend had said as to the unwisdom of attempting to remove it, not out of Ireland, but to other districts within the confines of that country. He believed that the vacant spaces of which they heard so much, and to which the superfluous residents in the Western districts were to be transferred, existed only in the imagination of the enthusiasts who recommended such schemes. He doubted whether there were in the whole country 100,000 acres which could with advantage be appropriated in that manner. He was aware that there was in Ireland a great deal of improvable land—mostly of rough pasture land; but it was not suitable for tillage. Moreover, the whole of the land which came under that category was already occupied; and if they wished to raise the whole country against them they would deprive the existing tenants of those rough hillside pastures, in order to plant upon them the surplus population from other parts of Ireland. When he saw those recommendations made by those who were the champions of security of tenure, there seemed to him to be something grotesque about them. It was an insult to their understanding to propose such a project, when there was on the other side of the Atlantic a boundless territory, only awaiting successful cultivation from those who might eventually find a home there. He had always supported any well-considered scheme for an increase in the number of proprietors of land in Ireland; but if they wished to secure the failure of such a scheme they could not do better than transport the small Connemara tenants and give them 20-acre lots on a barren hillside in other parts of Ireland, and make them, at the same time, tenants under the Government. If, then, there was a population that could not live, and there was no hope for them in a scheme for the reclamation of land or in the establishment of manufactures—if they could not remove that population to other parts of Ireland without the evils to which he had referred, surely it followed, almost as a mathematical demonstration, that the only thing to be done was to emigrate them altogether. He entirely agreed with his noble Friend in earnestly pressing on the Government the necessity of leaving no effort unmade to carry their emigration scheme to a successful conclusion. He did not complain in any sense of what the Government had done, or express himself impatient of the somewhat slow progress which had been made. He was aware of the immense difficulty attending the matter of emigration, and he knew how fatal any hasty or reckless steps at the outset would be. He was, therefore, not surprised that the Irish Executive had taken "Festina lente" as their motto on that subject. But, on the other hand, if any serious results were to be attained, they must look forward to a very wide extension of the operations of the Government in that direction. He believed that both of the financial limits laid down in the Arrears Act—namely, £100,000—as the total sum that might be applied to emigration, and £5 per head for each emigrant, would have to be exceeded. The Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Derby), when he was on the eve of accepting Office, told his audience that if Parliament and the Cabinet could be induced to spend some millions on emigration, the money would be well laid out. He did not go as far as some millions at present; but he trusted that the more liberal estimate of the noble Earl might be kept in view, rather than the sum contemplated by the Arrears Act. Again, the allowance of £5 per head was in some cases very liberal; but in others he honestly believed that it fell short of the necessary amount. As far as he could ascertain, the cost of transport for an emigrant, if they included the expense of removing him from his home to the port of embarkation and across the Atlantic, also the overland journey on the other side, his outfit, and providing him with a bare pittance to have in his pocket when he landed, would amount to somewhere about £9. In the insolvent Unions which he had mentioned, he did not see how they could expect the Poor Law Guardians to incur a further liability in respect of that £4, which would be the difference between the £5 Government limit and the total expense incurred in carrying out an extensive emigration. Again, the expense per head of emigration was likely to increase. The first emigrants might possibly be received in districts near the seaboard; but in process of time the requirements of those districts would have been complied with, and it would be necessary to remove the emigrants further inland, and that added to the cost. He had been told that the whole of the first batch of Canadian emigrants was likely to be disposed of in districts close to the sea, and in some of the older settlements; but the demand there was very limited, and the time would soon come when it would be necessary for them to go to Manitoba, or possibly some remoter district, and the expense would thus be enormously increased. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would consider whether, in some cases, the limit of £5 per head might not be properly relaxed. He had heard with pleasure his noble Friend's reference to the Dominion of Canada. If the question of emigration was to be handled in a statesmanlike manner, they should do their best to direct the stream of emigrants not towards the disloyal Irish population settled in some of the American States, but towards the loyal subjects of Her Majesty now settled in the Dominion of Canada. He regretted the alterations that had been made in Clause 2fi of the Land Act of 1881, which, as originally introduced, gave a preference to Canada. He believed that, with tact, courage, and liberality, it would be possible to set flowing a steady stream of emigration from the congested districts; and that, with a liberal expenditure of money, the result would be profitable, not only to Ireland, but to this country. Holding, as he did, those opinions, ho cordially supported his noble Friend in pressing this question on the Government.


said, that while he hoped the Government would take into consideration the suggestions of the noble Earl (the Earl of Dunraven) as to providing some means of encouraging Irish industries, he trusted that the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lans-downe) would not continue the opposition which he had displayed towards the noble Earl's proposals to-night. There was no guarantee that the mere removal of the people from these districts would prevent similar distress arising in future. He should be sorry to say anything in disparagement of the system of emigration that had been proposed; but, looking back at the state of things 30 or 40 years ago, he thought that, if nothing was done to mitigate the position of these people but emigrating them, there was some danger of similar evils again arising. The present condition of things had been known in Ireland before; and in 1846 and 1847, the years of the great Famine, there was, in consequence of that visitation, a very large diminution of population throughout the whole of Ireland, and very markedly in those districts where distress now existed. This distress was chiefly found in the Province of Connaught, in the Counties of Mayo and Galway; and the district Buffering the most severely was that on the seaboard on the coasts of Galway where Mr. Tuke's Committee was at work. In conclusion, he would express the hope that the Government would consider the possibility of encouraging the fisheries and other local industries of the country.


said, that there had been so little controversy in the speech of the noble Earl who made this Motion, that it was not necessary for him to detain their Lordships at any length. There was very little in the speech of his noble Friend with which he could quarrel—in fact, he had thought there would be nothing at all; but his noble Friend could not resist the temptation which usually beset him, and accordingly he made his usual attack on the land legislation of the year before last. He might say, in passing, that he was very far from accepting the account his noble Friend had given of that legislation. His noble Friend had treated the Land Law Act of 1881 as a piece of Radical theory forced on Ireland without necessity, and as a great hindrance to the prosperity and interests of that country. He, on the contrary, held it to be a most practical piece of legislation—a measure of Radical reform in the laws affecting that country, carefully adapted to the necessities of the case, and a measure which was a condition sine quâ non to the success of all other measures tending to the improvement of the country. In some other remarks of his noble Friend he could quite agree. He agreed that investment and enterprize could only flourish under conditions of peace, order, and good government. Well, the Government were using all the efforts in their power to restore that state of things. With regard to the distress prevailing in some parts of Ireland, the noble Earl naturally asked him to give him the latest information the Government had received as to the condition of the distressed districts. He was happy to say that, on the whole, that information was of a satisfactory kind. There could be no doubt that distress and severe suffering did exist in Ireland, but it was distress of a strictly partial and local kind, and confined within narrow limits; and the condition of the people that did prevail had been—the Government were informed on the best authority—largely mitigated within the last few weeks. The Reports which the Government had obtained stated that the condition and prospects of these districts were decidedly better. They stated that, partly under the influence of the fine weather, labour was generally plentiful; that an unusually large amount of employment had been provided; and that under these influences, as well as owing to the charitable relief which had been administered in the distressed districts— especially the supply of seed potatoes— the great pressure of distress had been sensibly lessened. He might say, almost in the words of the noble Marquess, that the firm course taken by Earl Spencer and the Irish Government, in resolving to depend upon the action of the Poor Law in contending with this distress, had so far been rewarded with success. The powers of the Local Government Board of Ireland had been exercised in the most careful, considerate, and vigilant manner. Special Inspectors had been appointed by the Board, and special relieving officers in some of the worst Unions had also been employed, so that the ordinary powers of the Poor Law, although not exceeded, had been applied in the most effective and vigorous manner. The result was one with which the Government had every reason to be satisfied. But the real object of his noble Friend's Motion was to raise the question as to what was the best mode of dealing, not with the temporary distress that now prevailed, but with the state of ever-recurring distress and semi-starvation which, it was admitted, was to be expected in the crowded and poverty-stricken districts of the West of Ireland. Several remedies had been put forward by the noble Earl. If the noble Earl had advocated a great system of reclamation and migration for the purpose of alleviating distress he would have been prepared to enter the lists with him, for it was a matter to which he had paid some attention. But the noble Earl and the noble Marquess had come to the conclusion that those were not the means to which they could look for the permanent improvement of the distressed districts of Ireland. The views of the Government on the subject were plain enough. By legislation now in force any Company or body formed for the purpose of reclamation and migration—for the two things could not be separated—could obtain Government aid if it could produce a plan satisfactory to Government. But no such plan had been laid before the Government. A much more hopeful prospect had been opened by recent legislation, which had provided that occupiers of land in Ireland might obtain loans for the purpose of reclaiming the wild and semi-wild land they held attached to their farms, and for all similar purposes. Some considerable beginning had been made in this direction. The last Return showed that the amount of money applied for had been about £261,000; of that sum £96,000 had been sanctioned or recommended by the Board of Works in Ireland; and a further sum of £118,000 was now under inquiry. Some £22,000 had been actually advanced, so that a real beginning had been made, and he hoped much more would be done. Her Majesty's Government, had, however, been pressed from various quarters to go far beyond these provisions, and to undertake themselves some great plan for the reclamation of the waste land in Ireland, and the migration to it of a large number of poverty- stricken families. A very interesting plan of that kind was laid first before Her Majesty's Government, and then before the House of Commons, by Mr. O'Connor Power. That plan was very closely examined by the Government; but they were not able to see their way to undertake it with any confidence in its success. A great deal of evidence had of late years been taken with reference to reclamation and migration, especially by the Bessborough Commission, which reported that they were not able to see their way to recommend the adoption of any scheme of the kind. He was especially struck by what was said by one of the Commissioners, a sagacious and experienced Irish gentleman—The O'Conor Don—who stated that he had looked into the subject with a strong anxiety to find some way to deal with it, but that he had been obliged to admit that no plan had been brought to his notice, and no information given him, which could enable him to recommend any course of that kind. One witness before the Commission stated that reclamation and migration were all very well; but the difficulty was that he could find no land to be reclaimed, and no regions to which the people could be migrated. He explained himself by saying that all the waste land to which the distressed families were to be migrated was already in the occupation of tenants. Many other witnesses also said that, although this land was well capable of improvement, yet that it was of the greatest importance to the tenants who held it, and they had no idea of surrendering it to anyone else. Therefore, so far as he could see, all the best authorities, including that high authority, Sir Richard Griffith, were of opinion, that, although there was a great deal of these waste lands—generally mountain lands —capable of improvement as grazing land, especially by drainage, yet it was by no means fitted to be cut up into small tillage farms for small tenants from other districts. That being the doubtful character of these plans of reclamation and migration, Her Majesty's Government had not been able to see their way to adopt any scheme of their own, and no proposal had yet been made to them by any public body or Company under the provisions of the Land Act. If any such proposal were made it would have the careful consideration of the Government. He would like to say that his unfavourable and Unhopeful view of these schemes for reclamation and migration was not due to any theory he entertained as regarded the application to Ireland of the doctrine of laisssz faire and absolute devotion to private enter-prize. Speaking for himself, he might Bay that he did not put aside these plans for the sake of any theory of that kind. The doctrine of trusting absolutely to private enterprize for everything might be admirably adapted to this country— far more adapted, indeed, to this than to any other country in the world, except the United States; but it did not at all follow that it was adapted to the needs of Ireland. He could readily conceive that there were many things which the State could usefully do, or assist in doing, for the good of Ireland—such as the arterial drainage of the country, and the improvement of the means of communication. Road-making in a wild or semi-wild country had always been considered one of the highest works of civilization. Coming to the main subject of his noble Friend's Motion — that of emigration — he was able in substance to agree thoroughly with what had been said by him and by the noble Marquess. Her Majesty's Government agreed with him that emigration must be looked to as the best and the inevitable remedy for the permanent distress of the crowded, congested, and poverty-stricken districts of Ireland. Her Majesty's Government, acting entirely in the spirit which had been so fairly and considerately described by the noble Marquess, felt that they had no right to attempt to force emigration upon the people of those districts. Nor was it necessary. It was most de- sirable that no excuse should be given for those suspicions which were endeavoured to be excited in the minds of the people by the violent speeches which had been made against emigration, although no reason could be given to the people for entertaining suspicions of the motives of the Government, who could only desire the good both of those who crossed the Atlantic and those who remained. Her Majesty's Government also felt that, so far as State aid was concerned, they could not allow emigration to take place except under the most rigorous conditions as to the safety, comfort, and health of the emigrants who were to be sent, family by family, across the Atlantic. In that way the Government felt assured they would be entirely carrying out the wishes and fulfilling the hopes of these poor people themselves. And he should like to remind their Lordships of the striking fact that although emigration had gone on for the last 30 years from Ireland, as a whole, to so large an extent, yet it had least affected or benefited those particular districts where it was most needed. Those districts of Ireland where the people were somewhat better off, where they had somewhat more means and more spirit, had done much more in the way of emigration than those unfortunate districts in the West, where it was most required. That was clearly shown by the figures. From the Returns of emigration for the years from 1851 to the end of 1882, he found that whereas the number of emigrants in those years who had gone from the Province of Munster amounted to 63 per cent of the population, and from the whole of the Province of Ulster 44 per cent of the population, yet the proportion who had gone from the poor and crowded districts of Donegal represented only 37 per cent, of Mayo only 35 per cent, and Sligo only 34 per cent of the population. A very good beginning, but only a beginning, had been made in the way of emigration already, principally by the admirable exertions of Mr. Tuke and the benevolent people who had associated themselves with him. He wished the benevolent and wealthy people of thi3 country would associate themselves with Mr. Tuke in that praiseworthy work on a much larger scale. He was glad also to be able to say that offers had lately been made to the Government, upon a large scale and of a very hopeful and promising kind, for the removal of a very considerable number of selected families from the West of Ireland to be settled upon land in America. He quite agreed with the noble Earl who made the Motion that there were many advantages in the settlement of these people upon the waste lands of Canada rather than in the United States. It would be premature for him to state the particulars of the plan to which he alluded; but they were of a genuine and important kind, and, in the view of the Government, were full of hope and promise. Agreeing so entirely in substance with the Motion, he did not think the noble Earl should ask the House to vote upon it. It would be impossible for him to vote against his noble Friend; but a division upon such a subject in these circumstances would not represent the feelings of the House, and he hoped the noble Earl would be satisfied with what had been stated on behalf of the Government, and not press his Motion.


said, he was glad to hear that the Government concurred in the suggestions of the noble Earl who had submitted this Motion to the House. He regarded the statement of the Lord President as the most satisfactory that had ever been, made by any Member of the Government on the subject of Ireland. He only wished that in the debates on the Land Bill they had had Members of the Government holding as sound views with regard to the fatuity of the expectation that any good would be done by those clauses so ostentatiously put forth for the reclamation of waste land and probable migration from congested districts in Ireland. He doubted, however, whether their Lordships or the country would find much satisfaction or hope in the statement that the Irish tenants were making application to the Government for loans.


said, he concurred in the opinion that emigration was practically the one solution of the difficulty that existed in Ireland. He gave it as the result of his experience that there was a great wish among the poorer people to emigrate if they had really any chance of getting away comfortably, and of being comfortably settled when they reached a new land. He expressed his statisfaction to hear the preference expressed for our own Colonies as the home of future emigrants. He had seen both Australia and Canada; and, as regarded the former country, the Irish Colony in Australia was as different from their brethren who were causing so much trouble at home as it was possible to imagine; while he had heard from Canadian gentlemen, on his visit to that country, that the Irish emigrants, when settled in Canada and mixed up with the emigrants of other races, once the influence of example was brought to bear upon them, and their national pride and spirit of emulation was stirred up, turned out the most useful members of the Colony. He was sorry to hear from the noble Lord opposite (Lord Carlingford) that he did not see his way clear to assent to the Motion, which did not involve very much.


said, he believed the distress existing in Ireland had been much exaggerated, though he felt sure, from what he had heard, that there would be distress in the country during the summer that would require close attention.


said, that after what had fallen from the Lord President of the Council he would not press the Motion. He hoped, however, that the Government would comprehensively deal with the question of emigration.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.