§ On the motion for bringing up the Report of the Irish Church Rates' bill,
§ Mr. Grattan
proposed a clause to enable vestries to assess their respective parishes for the relief of the poor.
§ Mr. J. Smith
said, that this important subject for the poor of Ireland had been most shamefully neglected by government. As a proof of this, he referred to the able report of the committee appointed to inquire into the state of the poor of Ireland. Not only had nothing been done to alleviate the miseries of the poor of Ireland, but nothing had even been attempted. In England there existed a great want of employment for the lower orders, and the evil had been materially increased by the influx of shoals of Irish labourers. This was not using the industrious peasantry of England fairly; and such an interference with the advantages to which they were entitled ought not to be permitted. He earnestly called upon the Irish Government to shew at least a disposition to mitigate the sufferings of the poor of Ireland.
§ Mr. Goulburn,
after contending that it was improper to insert such an important clause in a bill which chiefly had reference to other subjects, proceeded to deny that the Irish Government had shewn any indifference to the miseries of the lower orders. On the contrary, much had been done, and more attempted, for their relief; especially in encouraging and giving employment to the labouring classes, in ameliorating the general administration of the country, and in extending her commerce.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
opposed the clause, and warmly reprobated the infliction of the poor-laws upon the inhabitants of Ireland.
§ Mr. J. Smith
said, he preferred the clause as a minor evil, compared with the greater evil of the wretchedness and destitution of the poor.
§ Mr. Monck
thought, that in every country where a high state of civilization had been arrived at, a redundancy of population was a necessary consequence. The effect of this was, in its turn, greatly to enlarge the pauper classes of the community. Now, he conceived it to be the duty of every nation, under such circumstances, to make adequate provision for those, whose pauperism was not their 719 own fault; and seeing that the clause proposed was not even of a compulsory nature, while it was calculated to have the beneficial effect of extending the burthen of that support, which the rest of the people were bound to provide for their poor, over the rich as well as the middling classes of Ireland, he should support it. The proposition was not of an entirely novel character, even in Ireland; for an act of the 11th and 12th of Geo. 3rd made it imperative upon counties, &c. of that country, to provide, each of them, a house of industry for the maintenance of the unfortunate poor of such county or district.
§ Mr. Dawson
opposed the clause, believing it of vital importance to prevent the introduction of the principle of the poor-laws into Ireland.
§ The clause was rejected.