HC Deb 26 June 1806 vol 7 cc842-4
Sir J. Newport

brought in this bill, and moved that it be read a first time.

Mr. Bagwell

thanked the right hon. baronet for his perseverance in this bill, but apprehended there was a point or two in which they might have some difference of opinion. As the law was already, grand juries had the power to raise 400l. On counties, and 200l. on cities; the consequence of which was, that in those counties which had cities, there were houses of industry; supported by the aggregate sum; but, in those counties which had no cities, the contrary was the case; and he, therefore, hoped, that power would be given to the grand juries of the latter, to make up that deficiency, as many of the counties so situated in Ireland, possessed more opulence than some.of those which had cities. From the time that this assessment of 400l. upon counties was first granted for the poor, it had never been increased, although for other purposes, rates had been made to the amount of 30;000l. though thee people themselves were so anxious to have provision made for the poor, that houses were built by private subscriptions, rising in a gradation of from one to 100 guineas. It should be remembered, that there were no poor laws in Ireland, and he hoped it would remain so, for the country was too poor to support the extravagance of them.

Mr. Foster

considered this as a law professing to assist that of 1772, for taking up idle persons, and obliging them to work. That act was only carried into execution in Dublin, where there was now the sum of 20,000l. paid annually for the support of vagabonds; and Dublin being considered as the centre, all the other counties entirely neglected them. If the bill was, as he supposed, intended to compel grand juries to extend their powers in this respect, he should vote against it, and particularly, as he thought it by far too late in the session to press a measure which had before been so frequently agitated and rejected in the Irish parliament.

Mr. Bagwell

said, there were houses of industry in other places besides Dublin, but that they were supported by private subscription.

Sir J. Newport

explained, that if the right hon. gent, attended to the bill, he would find it expressly provided, that one half of the houses should be appropriated to the correction of vagabonds and sturdy beggars, and the other half to the relief of the needy poor. The right hon. gent. was also wrong in supposing that this was the first time of levies for this purpose being made compulsory upon grand juries, of which he quoted two or three instances, and the only compulsion was on the counties which had houses of industry, to maintain them. As to the charge of bringing it forward so late in the session, he appealed to the recollection of members, whether he had not made the same proposition last year. In the early part of this session, he was, for a time, kept out of his seat, by what he must consider a very improper proceeding. Since then, his time had been fully occupied, as would be proved by the great mass of business he had already brought forward; and, late as it might be, he hoped he should now be permitted to go on with a measure, which he felt to be so essential to the welfare of his country.

Mr. Alexander

said, that however disagreeable it might be to oppose a measure, the object of which was professed to be humane and charitable, he must object to all new and partial schemes, as hitherto the relief held out to one class of the poor in Ireland, fell heaviest on the other poor part of it. The greatest part of the taxes of the north of Ireland, was paid by people inhabiting houses of about 51. a year, and as no other property there but lands and houses contributed to the payment of the poor, he was desirous of having some more general measure.

Mr. Parnell

said, it was impossible to travel over the high roads in Ireland, without being Sensible of the necessity of this measure; and. as to the objection of its falling heavy on the land owners; they were a description of persons in that country best able to afford it.—The bill was then read a first time.