« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
he would add that there were documents | known. These questions were inseparably in the possession of both Houses, drawn bound up with any conclusion to which the up by competent authority, which would House might come; and he hoped the whole show that the passing of an Irish poor law subject would speedily come under discuswould increase the immigration of which sion. As to the petition presented by the the petitioners so unjustly complained. He noble and learned Lord, it was unquestionwould take this opportunity of asking a ably true that the people of Liverpool were question of his noble Friend opposite (the suffering from the immigration of Irish Marquess of Lansdowne). He had received paupers; but in their petition they made letters from the manufacturing districts the important admission that the Poor Rethat morning, complaining very grievously lief Bill for Ireland would not assist them. of the pressure arising from the existing The Earl of WICKLOW agreed with state of the money market. A great num- the noble Lord that the Irish poor law ber of orders were in hand from America; would increase Irish immigration. With but in consequence of the present state of regard to the petition presented by his things they could not be executed, and noble and learned Friend, it was necessary they attributed much of these effects to the to remind the people of Liverpool, that Act of 1844. He did not want to ascer- though they suffered from Irish distress, tain the specific intentions of the Govern- they forgot the enormous influx of wealth ment on this subject; but he wished to which that same distress had been the know whether they had any intention of means of bringing into the town. If they bringing in a measure to mitigate or relax would take the trouble of comparing the the Act of 1844 ?
amount of relief levied upon them with the The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE as- large sums they derived from the importasured his noble Friend that the pressure tion of foreign corn from every part of the existing in the manufacturing districts world, they would find that perhaps there had been under the most anxious con- never had been a year in the annals of the sideration of Her Majesty's Government; town in which they had obtained profits so but he was not prepared to say that they immensely great as in this year. He beintended to introduce a measure of the lieved the people of Liverpool benefited nature referred to by his noble and learned more by their Irish commerce than by that Friend.
of all the rest of the world together. If LORD ASHBURTON was understood therefore they continued sending these to represent that through the extraordinary titions to his noble and learned Friend, it pressure in the money market men of the was but right they should be reminded of highest credit had yesterday been obliged the immense advantages they had derived, to consent to give 12 and 13 per cent for not only from the general commerce of discounts.
Ireland, but from the severe infliction LORD MONTEAGLE was rather as- which that country had sustained. tonished that public attention had not been The MARQUESS of WESTMEATH had earlier directed to the existing pressure; no doubt the town of Liverpool had great but consideration must be given to more cause of complaint; but their grievances points than one in any
upon it. were not likely to be redressed by the The question to be considered, no doubt, present Bill. He felt himself bound to was the propriety of some alteration in the vote for the second reading of the Bill; last Bank Act; but another question was but it was in the anticipation and with the mode in which that Act had been car- the certainty that, if it were passed, ried out, and the effects produced by the matters would be just where they were mode of carrying it out. Without express- before. ing any opinion now, he would observe After a few words of explanation from that a measure might be right in itself, LORD BROUGHAM, the petition was orbut be disorganized by its practical admi- dered to lie on the Table. nistration. Other questions also must be taken into consideration. Among them POOR RELIEF (IRELAND) BILL. were the peculiar state of our trade and The Order of the Day for the Second commerce, for without the diminution of Reading having been read, any demand for any other article of pro
The CARQUESS of LANSDOWNE said: duce, there was an unexampled demand for My Lords, it has now become my duty, a larger amount of cereal produce for the on the part of Her Majesty's Governconsumption of this country than was ever ment, to propose to your Lordships the
second reading of a Bill for extending although, in stating them, I may yet inrelief to the poor of Ireland; and in re- dulge the hope that there are some lights questing your Lordships to proceed with to relieve the picture, and that it is not this Bill through its different stages, I am without some consolatory topics that I am deeply sensible that I am inviting your compelled to bring before you in all its inLordships to follow me in a path which is tensity the magnitude of the evil, however beset with difficulties and with danger, and insufficient the measure I am about to prothat we are about to embark in a naviga- pose may prove in averting all its baneful tion in which, although it is clear to what consequences. Whatever variety of opinport we ought to steer, yet that our arrival ion may exist as to the means to alleat that port must be through rocks and viate the evil to be met, of this I am shoals, which it will require all the care of fully persuaded, that there prevails among your Lordships, and all the care which the your Lordships but one conviction as to best exertions of Government can bestow its extent and intensity, and but one upon the administration of this law, to steer desire that it should be adequately met clear of, so as to make it finally effective and remedied. But, my Lords, when I and secure. This law, I need not tell your propose this Bill to your Lordships, I do Lordships, is founded upon the existence not offer it as an adequate remedy for of a calamity with which your Lordships the distress that exists in Ireland ; for a are become by this time but too well ac- permanent remedy I do not conceive it to quainted : and on a state of disorder and be. The permanent remedy for that disdisorganization of society, following this tress must be looked for from other sources dispensation of Providence, which, great and from other means. The only ground as your Lordships were induced to think it upon which I have to ask your Lordships' when the subject was first brought under assent to this Bill is, that it is an imporFour considerotion, has, during the months tant, if not an indispensable palliative of an that have since passed, not diminished, but overwhelming malady; and it is a palliative increased in intensity—a state of disorder which I believe your Lordships will be comand disorganization which has fallen with pelled to adopt, because I have neither a degree of suddenness and intensity un- seen myself, nor, discussed as this subject paralleled in the history of nations upon a has been here and elsewhere by others, country unfortunately the least of all pre- have I heard it suggested, by what other pared to bear up against it—a country in palliative than this the existing disorder which, whilst there prevails disorder arising in Ireland can be removed. Before proout of a total deficiency of the means of ceeding to state to your Lordships what ordinary subsistence, there at the same the measure is, I will state to you what time exists a density of population without it is not. In the first place, I think it the usual resources, except in a very small material to state, after what I have heard degree, of manufactures; and without the in this House, after what I have heard usual resources, except also in a compa- elsewhere, and after what I have heard ratively limited degree of commerce :-I in this country, as well as from what repeat, my Lords, in that country there I know to be apprehended in Ireland, exists a density of population unparalleled that this Bill is utterly opposed to any geeven in those countries in which both ma- neral and permanent system of out-door nufactures and commerce flourish to the relief in Ireland. It is pot therefore what utmost extent. So that, deprived of those it has been described—a Bill tending to a resources which, in other countries, are the confiscation of the property of Ireland. If best auxiliaries, and mutually support and the Bill had involved any such principle, I assist each other, and deprived of the should be the last person to propose its power of drawing upon other resources adoption to your Lordships, because I feel at home-because it is upon the cheapest convinced that whatever anticipation of description of food that they have here- preventing a recurrence of the existing tofore lived—the people of Ireland are calamity by the adoption of such a system, called upon at once to find means of sub- might, under misguided hopes and a blind sistence which in the country itself do not confidence in the future, be suggested, any exist, and to make preparations for the attempt to establish an indiscriminate right future, to do which requires a capital which to out-door relief in Ireland must be atthe country does not afford. "I think it tended with consequences fatal to that right to state all the difficulties of the case country, fatal to the property of that counin their severest colours to your Lordships, try, and, above all, fatal to the character of the people of that country. My Lords, ers, would make the condition of eight milno such proposition is involved in this Bill. lions of starving people of Ireland, actually If any such right were attempted to be better than the condition of twelve millions conferred by Parliament, its immediate of thriving English people. I think it the effect would be to increase the number of most preposterous proposition ever subconsumers, already too great, and to di- mitted to Parliament. I will again say minish the number of producers, already distinctly that such an enactment is betoo small; the effect of it would be gradu- yond the power of Parliament—that your ally to withdraw capital from the country, Lordships will act unwisely if you attempt instead of adding capital to it—to diminish that which is so impossible to be carried the inducements to industry, instead of in-out; but that you will, on the contrary, creasing them—to disorder the relations act wisely, to consider in all you do that that exist between landlord and tenant, you must act under the divine law, which between producer and consumer; and thus, prescribes certain conditions for the existwhile everything that is an incentive to ence of society, which conditions are to be production is gradually diminished, every- found in the principles of human nature. thing that augments the pressure of con- You will do well to recollect that great sumption is gradually increased, until we doctrine laid down by a pious French auarrive at that result when the produce thor, who emphatically said, “ Remember of the country would cease altogether, and that it is man that proposes, but that it is nothing would be found in it to meet the God who disposes. If you attempt to wants of the increased multitude of con- contravene those general laws by which sumers. It is in fact a right which al- the dispensations of Divine Providence gothough your Lordships may enact it, it vern the actions and regulate the whole will be impossible to maintain—a right system of society, you will soon learn to which you may confer in name and place lament your rashness in adopting a course upon your Statute-book, but which, to which will have proved a curse instead of a make it effectual for the object intended, benefit to the country.
I wish thus to you may be also able to do that which you state my own opinion openly and strongly cannot do—to compel people to produce. on this occasion with regard to the evils of Because, if you interfere with the rights indiscriminate out-door relief. of property to the extent of creating a Lords, if I am asked—having so great a prior interest in production to that possessed jealousy and mistrust of that right of relief by the proprietor himself, the inevitable which would exist under a system of outresult must be that the proprietor will cease door relief extended generally—“ Why is to cultivate or produce at all: he will divertit, if you think this so dangerous a prinhis industry to some other channel; and the ciple, so dangerous to the labouring classes poor of the country will be left with a gra- themselves, so calculated to divert them dually diminished produce instead of an im- from the pursuits of honest industry, and proved one, and be thrown, after sharing to increase pauperism, so adapted to nouthat produce how they can, to a greater ex- rish and perpetuate the misery which is so tent than ever on the charity of their neigh- peculiar to the character of the Irish, who bours. That, I believe, would be the in- are too much inclined to live in a state of evitable result of an absolute right to out- indolent pauperism and destitution—if you door relief; and therefore it is that I feel see all these calamities, on what ground is bound to declare myself distinctly adverse it that you propose the modified adoption, to the prayer of the petition which has in a qualified degree, of this very principle been presented this night by my noble and in the measure which you now bring forlearned Friend, and which, therefore, as ward?” My Lords, I am bound to answer my noble Friend, who afterwards alluded this question; I am bound to vindicate the to it, truly characterized as being against course which IIer Majesty's Government the Bill now before them. It is a petition are about to pursue. It is true, my Lords, against the Bill: in what sense? Not be that you will encounter a great degree of cause the Bill is too stringent, but because risk in any approximation with whatever it is not stringent enough. The prayer qualifications towards the giving of outof this petition is not that this burden may door relief in Ireland; but you are to connot be inflicted upon the property of Ire- sider on the other hand where the remedies land, but that a much greater burden may are to be found for a state of things which be imposed upon that property-imposed to may be expected to arise amongst a people an extent which, as avowed by the petition- so peculiar in their habits under a change
of system. There is no noble Lord who still maintain, that for the great evils now hears me—and most of us are well ac- pressing upon Ireland, neither the Legisquainted by description, if not practically, iature nor the proprietors of Ireland are with the state of Ireland—there is no noble in any degree answerable. While I
say Lord who hears me who cannot but have that they are not answerable for the overcome to the conclusion that there is no re-whelming evil which now presses upon the medy for Ireland, that there is no safety for country, I know, indeed, that the proprieIreland, but in a great, à radical, and a per- tors might have prevented the occurrence manent change in the pursuits and habits of this contingency, if, in the exercise of and agricultural industry of the people of their undoubted rights of property, they Ireland. To effect this, to promote this had, some years ago, discouraged the culgreat change, to make it safe and inno- tivation of the potato on their estates: but cuous, instead of being mischievous and need I ask your Lordships, if they had dangerous, ought to be the great object attempted to adopt such a principle, would which your Lordships should keep con- society have borne them out in applying stantly in view. What, my Lords, is the it? Would not the very attempt-full of nature and extent of the danger? The cus- prudence, full of wisdom, and full of knowtomary sustenance of the people is prac- ledge as it would have been—would not tically gone; the potato may continue to public indignation have stigmatized them be cultivated; it may be sown for some throughout the country as tyrants, as innoyears to come: but no man would be jus-vators, and as destroyers of their species? tified in saying that upon the potato the and would they not have been held up, not population of Ireland can in future depend only in Ireland, but even by some persons - yet upon the potato they have hitherto in the Parliament of England, who were depended. But I say that now the safety not unwilling to embrace opportunities of of Ireland requires that there should be a attacking them, in the most odious colours ? change in the habits of the people; that Therefore, I repeat, it was hardly to be exchange must be extensive; it must be ge- pected from the landed proprietors of Ireland neral; whole districts must assume a new that they should have adopted that modecharacter—whole districts of the country the only one which could have been effectual that up to this moment have been never —of preventing the recurrence of the pretouched but by the spade, must submit to sent calamity. It is, therefore, only by the pressure of the plough—whole bodies creating a sufficient number of stimuli to of the people who have lived under the as the landed proprietors and to the peasantry sumed character of farmers, and under of Ireland that we can hope to effect that that character eked out a miserable exist- great change which shall have the effect ence, dependent on the accidents of nature, of substituting one state of society for anwithout resources, and without subsist- other in Ireland, and of raising up a degree ence if those accidents of nature failed of prosperity by their exertions, aided by them, and yet who, nevertheless, have an the exertions of the people themselves. attachment founded on hereditary habits Who is there among your Lordships old for that particular condition of life--whole enough or wise enough to foretell how long masses of these people must undergo the a time must elapse before the dislocation discipline of learning that that condi- of all the elements of society which so tion is practically gone—whole masses great a change must disturb, can be comof the people must learn that it is only in posed and set to rest, and a reformed state a new condition that they can a of things substituted ? I will venture to more honourable and a less precarious say that it would be as wild and absurd subsistence. But these extensive changes for any man to attempt to state the exact must not be confined to the lower orders number of years necessary for this purpose, of the people; the proprietors of the land, as it would be presumptuous in a geologist, also, must submit to a great change. The however learned he might be, to state what same habits in the proprietor that have led was passing under the surface of the globe, him hitherto to indulge and to protect his and what time would be required to effect tenantry in this species of lazy and careless any of those great physical changes which, cultivation must cease, and give way to a under the laws of Providence, were conmore improved, and more enlightened, and tinually and gradually in progress. It more active course in the management of would be equally difficult to attempt to their properties. I say this, although I define by what period such changes as hare maintained in this House, and do those to which I refer can be produced in VOL. XCII.
Ireland. I, therefore, appeal to your Lord from this country, with the same benevoships whether, during the time that this lent object; and this amount of succour transition in the state of Ireland is going and sustenance has, as I have been inon, it is not necessary to provide for those formed during the past week, had a maperpetually recurring disorders which are terial effect already in many districts in to be expected during such a change ? the south of Ireland ; and it is a gratifying Supposing even that the peasantry should circumstance attending the supply, that it at once become more industrious, and that has been intrusted for distribution to the the farmers should be enabled at once to body of persons called Quakers, who are carry on great improvements and new kinds always distinguished for their benevolence of agriculture-supposing all the elements and activity in the cause of charity. It of improvement to be set at work at once, is also a circumstance worthy of notice, there would still, in the preparation of that the first vessel sent from America society for a state altogether new, be from with gratuitous relief for Ireland was named time to time thrown upon particular dis- after the place where the first building tricts, and to a great extent, numbers of was erected by the earliest settlers of persons unable, without a certain degree of English origin in that continent. But assistance, to support life. Where were do your Lordships think that to such supsuch persons to find sustenance when those plies as these, derived from the charity casual, but at the same time certain, dis- of this or other countries, the population turbances took place? Some provision ought to look for five years to come ? My must be made for them, for the Govern- Lords, I say we must look to other means ment can never be insensibie to the just and other resources, and after carefully claims of poverty. Your Lordships have considering all the difficulties and all the seen the calamity of this year met by a remedies which have offered themselves, degree of liberality which does honour to and none other have been suggested, human nature—you have seen this calamity though the most able and powerful minds call forth a sympathy in Ireland and in have been directed to the subject; and this country, irrespective of the cause which after being so directed, and after ample had led to it, or of the character of the opportunity has been given for forming an persons to whom it was extended. It has opinion, nothing has appeared better caldrawn forth relief from England with a culated to meet the difficulty than a qualiliberal hand, without inquiry whether the fied system of out-door relief, temporary in recipient of the relief was of Irish or of duration, and guarded, as it must be the English descent—whether he was Catholic wish of your Lordships to guard it, and as or Protestant—whether he was of Saxon it is the desire of Her Majesty's Governor of Celtic origin: it has gone forth with- ment, and of the other House of Parliaout any
of these considerations-of these ment to guard it, from those abuses which vile and miserable distinctions, which I I am ready to admit may be the concomihope are fast dying away, despite the tants of such a system. I therefore submit wicked efforts made even now to perpetuate to your Lordships a Bill, which is based them in the midst of the sufferings of the upon this principle, and which I trust will people and of the trials to which they are meet with the concurrence of your Lordexposed, instead of the opportunity being ships. This out-door relief is not to be taken to exhibit the people of both coun- given as a right to all persons; but, under tries, or rather of the same united country, the responsibility of an establishment in as brethren in affection and suffering in Ireland, of the Poor Law Commissioners interest. But that exhibition of sym
of Ireland, and of the Government of Irepathy, let me say—and I rejoice to say land, to certain districts for a certain time. it has not been confined to Ireland I proceed shortly to state what the proviand to England: it has crossed the Atlan- sions of the Bill are ; I will not go through tic; and your Lordships have seen from them, but will mention the clauses of the that country where community of descent, Bill which appear to me at all important. and in some respect community of institu- | You will find that by the first of these tions, had kept alive reminiscences of Irish clauses it is provided that the guardians of and of English feelings, a burst of gene
of every union in Irelandrosity-amounting, as I believe, to millions
"Shall make provision for the due relief of all of dollars-has been witnessed, and has such destitute poor persons as are permanently resulted in the transmission of food to Ire- disabled from labour by reason of old age, infirland, simultaneously with the supplies sent titute poor persons as, being disabled by reason
mity, or bodily or mental defect, and of such des