§ Mr. James
presented a Petition from the Select Vestry of Carlisle, praying for a system of Poor Laws for Ireland. The petitioners complained, that the emigrant Irish poor superseded the native labourers of the place; that wages were consequently depressed; and that English labourers were thus in many cases thrown on their several parishes. They also complained of the great burthen the Irish poor were to those parishes, as they had often to expend large sums on them under the name of casual relief. The hon. Member instanced another case of grievance—a poor Irishman marries an English woman, who derives a settlement from her father; he becomes unable to support her; the parish gives him nothing while he remains with her and his family by her; he goes off; she is then cast on the parish, which is then compelled to relieve her and her children. If ever the husband returns, he is arrested and imprisoned; and thus the parish is put to an additional expense, and the poor fellow is degraded for ever in his own estimation by association with felons in gaol, and all for the simple crime of poverty. The hon. Member concluded by asserting the necessity of Poor Laws for Ireland.
§ Mr. Richards
supported the prayer of the petition, and observed, that he should wish to know, were the Noble Lord who appointed the Royal Commission to inquire into the state of the Irish Poor present, what the Commissioners were doing to further the object for which they were appointed? There were sinister rumours abroad, that the appointment of the Commission was but a way of getting rid of the question altogether.
expressed his strong acquiescence in the prayer of the petition. He thought the protection of the rich, as well 109 as that of the poor, imperatively required it. He, however, thought, that the return of absentees to Ireland would supersede the necessity of Poor Laws; as all the Irish poor wanted was employment. He deprecated all crude and hasty legislation on the subject; and hoped English Members would inform themselves thoroughly on the matter, before they enacted any laws on the subject.
Mr. Fergus O' Connor
was convinced, that when English gentlemen came to consider the question calmly, they would come to the conclusion, that it was not an Irish question merely, but a national question. He deprecated the delay caused by the appointment of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, as it was on record that the Irish poor at present, in many places, were starving. He had given notice of a Motion for the 15th of June, which he would persevere in. His object in that Motion would be, to classify the parties requiring relief into the able-bodied and healthy, and the weak, infirm, decrepit, and others. The thing brooked no delay, and no delay should it have at his hands.
§ Mr. Slaney
concurred with the hon. Member for the county of Cork as to the necessity of taking some steps; but he could not agree with him as to the unimportance of the Royal Commission, which had been appointed to inquire into the state of the country.
§ Mr. Finn
said, that whatever system of Poor laws, however perfect, was devised, it would ultimately be perverted into a job, and the poor deprived of their support to enrich a few unprincipled individuals. Employment of the poor was all that was required; and something certainly should be done to obtain that at once. But as the representative of the poor, as the friend of the poor, and as an individual who had their interests at heart, as much as any man in that House, he would resist the introduction of any system of English Poor laws into Ireland.
Petition refered to the Select Committee appointed to inquire into Irish vagrancy.