HC Deb 23 March 1826 vol 15 cc86-8

The order of the day for receiving the Report of the Committee of Supply was read. On the question, "that the report be now brought up,"

Mr. Hume

said, he had not heard from his majesty's ministers whether they intended to make any alteration in the estimates for charitable purposes in Ireland. He would, therefore, avail himself of the present opportunity of placing on record his opinion of the situation in which the House was placed with regard to those estimates. A committee was appointed in 1817 to inquire into this subject. The result of that inquiry was this:—On the 1st of January 1,800, the sum voted by the Irish parliament, for charitable purposes, was 47,284l. This was at the time that the Union took place. In the act of union was a clause to continue these votes for twenty years. At the end of that time, the system was to cease. Now, he begged of the House to consider what they were doing. His firm conviction was, that the granting of money for charitable institutions, conducted as those in Ireland were, was wasting the public money. Instead of reducing these estimates, they were now four or five times greater than they were at the time of the Union. A minute inquiry into those institutions would prove, that the money was wasted, and not applied to the real purposes for which it was voted. Being of this opinion, he would move, by way of amendment, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the question, in order to add the words, "when the principle of supporting local charities and other institutions at the public expense is extremely questionable, and the present distressed state of Great Britain is considered, it becomes the imperative duty of this House to institute an inquiry before they proceed further in voting to the amount of 371,589l. for the support of local institutions in Ireland, more especially so, when no less a sum than 171,261l. is required in the present year for the support of the charitable institutions for which the Irish parliament, on an average of the six years 1791 to 1800, voted only 47,284l.," instead thereof.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that if the votes for those charitable institutions were now proposed for the first time, he could not conceive any sort of reasoning which could make him acquiesce in them. But they had now been voted for so long a period, that they ought not to be abruptly discontinued. The House would not, he was sure, be disposed at once to break up these establishments, which, however questionable in their principle, were necessary and useful to the people of Ireland. No one would recommend to the legislature to discard from their mind all charitable feelings for a cold and too strict an economy.

Mr. Hume

said, that it was now five years since government ought to have pro- posed to the House to reduce these estimate s; but, instead of that, they had been going on increasing from year to year. He had no confidence in the right hon. gentleman, nor in any part of the government, and would divide the House on the amendment.

The House divided: for bringing up the report 60. Against it 6.

List of the Minority.
Bright, H. Smith, W.
Davies, T. TELLERS.
Ellice, E.
Fergusson, sir R. Hume, J.
Lockhart, J. Wood, ald.