§ Mr. French
presented a Petition from the county of Roscommon, against the introduction of Poor-laws into Ireland.
said, that there were efforts made in many parts of Ireland to get up petitions against the introduction of Poor-laws. He believed also, that the committee sitting up-stairs on the subject were directing their attention to make out a case against the applicability of Poor-laws to Ireland. The fact was, that some counties in Ireland did not pay much to support their poor, and did not like to be compelled to it; while other counties—such as Wicklow—supported all their Poor. His desire, in getting Poor-laws, was to equalise the charge. He was sorry that his hon. friend (Mr. S. Rice), the Chairman of the committee on this subject, was not in his place, as he would be able to inform the House what progress the committee had made in its inquiries.
§ Lord Althorp
, in the absence of the hon. member for Limerick, assured the hon. Gentleman that the committee was inquiring into the question impartially.
§ Sir J. Newport
said, persons both for and against the introduction of Poor-laws in Ireland had been examined before the committee. Within the last few days a gentleman was examined who had gone over to Ireland to inquire into the land-revenue of the Crown in that country, and who remained there a considerable time. This individual stated, that he went over to Ireland friendly, from what he had heard and read, to the introduction of Poor-laws; but he was now of a decidedly contrary opinion, after having been in some of the wildest parts of the country, and where there was the greatest number of paupers. So far from promoting the interests of the poor, this gentleman thought such a system would be highly injurious to them; and that instead of preventing or diminishing, it would augment the influx of Irish labourers into this country.
§ Mr. Monck
said, that every nation had found it necessary to make some provision for the poor, in order to prevent vagrancy and mendicity; and he was sure that Ireland, where both prevailed to such an alarming extent, must sooner or later do the same. There was at present no means of distinguishing between the really distressed and those who were only idle, and asylums supported by the county, in which those who were able to work, but chose to 767 beg should be made to work, and those who were unable might be provided for, would be of great utility.
§ Mr. O'Connell
said, that the Act for establishing such asylums in Ireland, had contributed to make many people rich, but it did not relieve the poor. That some measure ought instantly to be adopted he was however convinced; nothing could be more frightful and horrible than the state of the poor in Ireland. No less than 8,000 persons in Dublin were without the means of support. Disease must follow upon famine, and then the rich as well as the poor would suffer. He had always advocated the principle of the Poor-laws his only difficulty was, in what way they should be applied.
§ Mr. Trant
complained, that in the formation of the Committee on this subject the name of the Gentleman who had first brought it forward was omitted. The names of Gentlemen who formed committees were read so rapidly, that no one had time to object to any of them, or to add others. He should bring forward a motion, rendering it necessary that the names of the Gentlemen, whom it was intended to appoint on Committees, should be before the House a reasonable time before the appointments took place.
§ The Petition to be printed.