Primary tabs

House of Commons


TUESDAY, April 11, 1775.

Lord North moved, That the House do resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, on the 27th instant, to consider of the Encouragement proper to be given to the Fisheries of Great Britain and Ireland.

He introduced his motion with disclaiming any motives of resentment against America, by the present measure, or meaning it either directly or indirectly to oppress that country. He said, that Fisheries, well conducted and properly directed, were an inexhaustible fund of riches; for while they extended our commerce, and kept open a continual advantageous


intercourse with foreign Nations, they increased our naval strength, and were, consequently, the great source of that power which gave us the pre-eminence over all the other Nations of Europe.

Mr˙ Burke thanked his Lordship for the friendly disposition, be had now shown towards his (Mr˙ Burke' s) native country; observing, at the same time, that, however desirous he might be to promote any scheme for the advantage of Ireland, he would be much better pleased that the benefits thus held out should never be realized, than that Ireland should profit at the expense of a country which was, if possible, more oppressed than herself.

Mr˙ Thomas Townshend condemned, in the most pointed


terms, the narrow, weak, and ill-founded policy which had directed the English Councils in respect to Ireland, ever since that country had become a part of the British Dominions; and recommended, very warmly, an inquiry into the state of the Irish Commerce and Manufactures, in order that such of them as did not immediately interfere with those of Great Britain, might receive every possible encouragement consistent with the general interests of the whole Empire.

Mr˙ Conolly drew a very melancholy picture of the present state of Ireland, and recapitulated many instances of the eminent loyalty of that country, and of the repeated proofs she had given, for a series of years back, of her readiness to contribute, much beyond her ability, to the common support. Besides the merits she had to plead on these grounds, he pointed out the absurdity of several of the restraints laid upon the Irish Commerce; and endeavoured to show that some of those were as unkind as impolitick; and that there were some branches of trade, particularly that to the Levant, which might be laid open, much to the advantage of both countries, and to the complete rivalship of the French.

Mr˙ Burke rose a second time, and predicted the most happy conclusion from the dawning favourable disposition of the Minister. He, therefore, offered an amendment, by proposing to insert the words, "Trade and Commerce."

Lord North observed, that the amendment suggested by the honourable gentleman would introduce a mass of matter much too weighty and extensive for present consideration; that nothing of the kind was intended by the present motion; and that it arose purely from matter which came out in the course of a discussion on the Massachusetts Bay Fishery Bill, though he could assure the House that it was by no means dictated by a spirit of resentment, but was simply taken up on the mere independent idea which the motion expressed, that of encouraging the Fisheries of Great Britain and Ireland, as an independent proposition.

The question was then put, and it was carried in the Affirmative.

Resolved, That this House will, upon Thursday fortnight, the 27th day of this instant, April, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House, to consider of what Encouragements it may be proper to give to the Fisheries carried on from Great Britain and Ireland.