HC Deb 06 June 1820 vol 1 cc885-6
Mr. W. Parnell,

after an impressive appeal to the House upon the various hardships which Irish paupers were condemned to endure in their passage through this country, especially in returning to Ireland, observed, that scarcely a fourth of those who annually returned to Ireland were able to survive their sufferings. The hardships they underwent, which were but too often aggravated by the infliction of corporal punishment, were owing in a great measure to the manner in which their subsistence was provided for, that subsistence being paid for by the county, while the allowance to English paupers in their conveyance through the country was paid by the respective parishes. But the punishments inflicted upon the Irish paupers formed their greatest grievance, the lower order of English parish-officers, who charged those paupers as vagrants, being but too apt to consider Irishism as a crime. The hon. gentleman concluded with moving for the production of a copy of the correspondence between the seneschal of Belfast, and the chief secretary for Ireland, respecting paupers sent from England to Ireland.

Mr. Sturges Bourne

observed, that by the act of the last session, which he had the honour to propose, it was expressly provided that Irish vagrants should be passed to Ireland without any punishment at all. They therefore had at present an exemption which was not granted to English vagrants. For any grievance to which the Irish paupers were still subject, he should be happy to assist the hon. member in framing a remedy. But the fact was this, that there was no officer in Ireland to receive those paupers upon their arrival in that country, or to whom an order for removal to their native place could be directed; and the want of such an officer was, he believed, the great cause of the hardship to which those poor beings were at present subject on their arrival in their own country.

Sir J. Newport

said, that he should vote for the motion, although he must must confess his inability to see any permanent remedy for the grievances alluded to, but that remedy which would be worse than the disease, namely, the introduction of the system of the poor laws into Ireland, than which nothing was more to be deprecated, especially in a country where the paupers were so numerous, while those able to pay poor's-rate were comparatively so few. But still he felt that some temporary remedy should be devised for the relief, as far as it was practicable, of the poor beings alluded to. But then how was that remedy to be found? It would be unfair to saddle exclusively upon those districts of the Irish coast which were immediately opposite to England, the maintenance or the expence of transferring all paupers who should go over from this country; and from what fund was this expence to be defrayed?—He felt with his hon friend the necessity of providing some remedy in this case, but still he conceived it a question of infinite difficulty to adjust.

Mr. Williams

thought this a case which loudly called for inquiry.

Mr. W. Parnell

observed, that it was not because there were many political economists or few paupers in Ireland, that there were no poor laws in that country, but the fact was, that while the poor were objects of regard and consideration in this country, they were, he was sorry to say, mere objects of contempt in Ireland.

The motion was agreed to.