HC Deb 24 March 1835 vol 27 cc202-4
Sir Richard Musgrave,

pursuant to his notice, rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill for the relief of the poor in Ireland in certain cases. It was not his intention to press the second reading of this Bill, supposing he got leave to bring it in, until after the evidence collected by the Irish Poor-Law Commissioners was laid upon the table; and even then, if Government would introduce a measure of its own, and would take into its consideration the state of the poor in Ireland, he would yield up his plan and give his assent to its measure. His object was to obtain relief for the poor of Ireland, and he cared not by what party it was afforded, so long as it was afforded. Nothing would have induced him to take up this subject but his strong conviction of the necessity of affording them some mode of relief. It was stated in the evidence of the first medical authorities in Limerick and Tipperary, that more than a fourth of the labouring classes in that part of Ireland were carried off by diseases superinduced by want. That was a sufficient ground for legislating on this subject, and, instead of being premature, a Bill to relieve his poorer countrymen from such complicated misery ought to have been introduced long since. The Bill had been drawn up with great care by an English barrister, and had been submitted to the Members of the late Government, and many of their suggestions had been adopted. The object of the Bill was to enable parishes in Ireland, by voluntary assessment, to grant relief to the poor in certain cases, and to give encouragement to Mendicity Societies. Committees would be appointed in parishes, consisting of the highest ratepayers and those who contribute most largely to charitable societies in the parishes. The Committee, thus formed, would have power to form sub-Committees, and to divide the parish into sections; one member of the Committee to have the superintendence of a section. This was the plan adopted when the cholera raged in Ireland, and a similar plan had boon greatly approved of by Dr. Chalmers, in his evidence before a Committee of the House of Lords in 1830. One clause of the Bill would enable Grand Juries to levy sums upon towns or counties for the relief of the poor in cases of extreme though temporary distress, which unfortunately were of frequent recurrence in Ireland. This was necessary, for though, on such occasions, many persons contributed to the relief of the poor, there were others who gave nothing. The question was one of considerable importance to the people of England, who were deeply interested in having some provision made for the Irish poor, as the effects of their destitute condition reacted greatly on the condition of the labouring poor in England. He then moved for leave to bring in a "Bill to authorize the relief of the poor in certain cases in Ireland."

Mr. William Smith O'Brien,

in seconding the Motion, expressed a hope that, before long, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goulburn) would be able to lay the Report of the Irish Poor-Law Commissioners before the House.

Mr. Secretary Goulburn

said, that he would not oppose the Motion for the introduction of the Bill, as the hon. Member said, he would not press the second reading of it until the evidence of the Irish Poor Law Commissioners were before the House. At the same time he must say, he had strong objections to the principle of the Bill, but he would not offer any obstacle to the Motion or discuss the question it involved at present.

Leave was given to bring in the Bill.