Sir W. Brabazon
rose to move, that the Bill be read a third time that day six months. He said, he thought himself called upon before the third reading of this Bill to make a few observations on it. He was in hopes that in its progress through the Committee it would have undergone such alterations and received such changes as might have reconciled the people of Ireland to it, for whose benefit it professed to have been introduced. But finding this had not been the case, and that those objectionable clauses had been pertinaciously adhered to, contrary to the strongly expressed opinion of the people of that country, he thought it due to those feelings, to the feelings he believed of the majority of the Irish Representatives in that House, and to those opinions he had always entertained himself on the subject, to come forward at this moment and move the postponement of this Bill; he should hope he should be the very last person who would give opposition to any measure really calculated to improve and ameliorate the condition of Ireland, but he considered that this Bill, more than probable, would have the effect of steeping her deeper in poverty and destitution. Such a measure was not fitted to a social condition such as that of Ireland. Even in this wealthy country, which was so much better able to bear up against it, how much of the pressure of it had been felt, and how much conflicting opinion there was on the subject of a Poor-law. He was quite ready to advocate a Poor-law on a modified scale, such as would meet the extreme cases of age and sickness, and those other infirmities that disqualify persons from earning a livelihood for themselves; he was sure such a measure would be cheerfully received in Ireland. It would be unnecessarily trespassing on the time of the House to enter upon all the particulars of the Bill, and those clauses against which such strong objections had been raised in Ireland, as they had been most fully discussed in Committee, and when known in Ireland, the public voice had been expressed against them from one quarter of the country to another, as was fully demonstrated by the number of petitions and signatures against the Bill being eighty-six, with 31,221 signatures, and only four petitions, with 593 signatures in its favour, besides the petitions presented to the House of Lords, from a number of the grand juries; and these petitions, he should think, might be considered as 677 expressing the sense of the country against the measure. And with every respect to the English Representatives, great numbers of whom he was sure were unacquainted with the real wants of Ireland, and the panacea and cure for those evils, he begged to put it to them, whether they would vote in favour of a measure of such vital importance to that country, when there were such strong feelings against it? No; this Bill was not the remedy for the evils that afflicted Ireland; other measures must be brought forward to effect that end, such as employment for the great mass of the destitute and unemployed able-bodied poor on those unimproved tracts and wastes with which the country abounded: and, above all, the return to her shores of her natural guardians and protectors, the great landed proprietors of the country. With these opinions he was induced to move, as an amendment, that the Bill be read a third time that day six months.
§ Sir F. Trench
said, that if the hon. Baronet had not moved the amendment, he himself would have done so, for in his opinion, it was impossible that any measure could be more mischievous to Ireland. It would have the effect of annihilating the property and extinguishing the industry of that country. The English Poor-law Amendment Act was a remedy for the abominable abuses which existed previously The present measure would produce nothing but patronage to the Government, and in that way it would be prolific enough, for it would create not fewer than 840 salaried officers. The proposed sum to be expended in this experiment, as it was called, would not be a drop in the ocean compared with the numbers which would require relief, and when they found, that they could not get it, they would be discontented, and an increased military force would be necessary. What he thought they should do was, to give the people employment, and not render them dependent on workhouses, which would destroy every industrious principle. The Government should do what had been so well recommended by the present Archbishop of Dubllin—that was, reject this Bill altogether, and bring in two Bills in its stead. One of these should enable hospitals and infirmaries to give shelter and relief to the halt, the maimed, the blind, and impotent. The other Bill should be for the purpose of providing employment for the able-bodied. 678 That was a measure which should have the support of the Government and of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and if carried into effect it would bring plenty and content and happiness into every cottage in the country. The present Bill would never have any such effect; on the contrary, it would be a total failure in all its parts. It was said, and no doubt it was true, that the Irish labourers who came over here in search of employment, were a very great burden to those counties through which they passed on their return, that many of them who had earned 5l., 10l., or 15l. by their labour here, sewed up the money in the lining of their clothes, and then begged their way home. He himself had often, at the earnest request of many of these poor people, given them orders on his steward for the sums they placed in his hands, they thinking that much safer than carrying the money home on their persons, and he had heard, and believed, that many, if not most of those who had saved as much as 15l. or 20l., begged their way home, or, what was in effect the same thing, were passed on from parish to parish. This was no doubt all very bad: but if the English Gentlemen thought, that the effect of this Bill would be to rid them of this burden, they were very much mistaken. He hoped that the Bill might yet be withdrawn, and that next year two Bills, with such objects as he mentioned, might be introduced.
§ Viscount Castlereagh
said, he could not allow this Bill to pass without trespassing for a short time on the patience of the House, as he could not rest satisfied with giving a silent vote on the present occasion. The two great points on which he objected to the Bill, and in which he believed he was supported by nearly the whole of the gentry of Ireland, liberals as well as Tories, were, first, that this workhouse system was inapplicable to the case of Ireland; and, secondly, that the power which it was proposed to give to the whole which would destroy every industrious host of commissioners was one which was not to be admitted. He was perfectly ready to give every credit to her Majesty's Government for their wish to introduce a salutary measure for Ireland; but he could by no means congratulate them on having accomplished the object which they had in view. He was afraid that Mr. Nicholls, differing as he did from other commissioners, had shown only how cursorily he had visited that country, and the slight 679 grounds on which he had recommended this Bill. At the same time, he could not but feel that there was a party in that House—an English party, who advocated very decidedly the necessity of instituting some poor-law for Ireland, and he was not prepared to deny, that some system of poor law might be introduced. But he believed that that English party which was driving forward the present measure had not devoted that time, trouble, and the patience, which was requisite to the due consideration of a question of such vast importance. Many hon. Members had asked him "How do you mean to vote for this Poor-law?" He had told them he should vote against it; he contended, it would not work practically for the poor of Ireland. But how had he arrived to this conviction? He found, that these Gentlemen had taken no trouble to inform themselves on the subject. It was lamentable to see how much ignorance there existed in this country with respect to Ireland. An opinion had been given in another place, which, since it had been published, he considered he had a right to allude to it; an opinion, however, which was not applicable to the North of Ireland; and certainly he, as a Representative of some of the largest and most flourishing parts of Ireland, wished to give that opinion the most pointed denial. He considered the imputation which it conveyed was unjust, ungenerous, and he must add, untrue. He referred to an opinion of the Earl of Mulgrave, delivered in another place, in which the Noble Earl had observed, that land in Ireland had become a necessary of life; but whilst he would not enter into a discussion of those defects of the social system, which made so great a difference between landlord and tenant in England and in Ireland, it was enough to say, that the good feeling which prevailed in the former, was seldom to be found in the latter. He was sufficiently acquainted with the North of Ireland to give a positive denial to this statement. He could say that, throughout nearly the whole of the province of Ulster they had the best proof that this assertion was not founded in fact. In that part of Ireland, the attempt had been made to maintain the poor on the Scotch system, and the experiment had been followed up there with great success; and the people, who derived great benefit from the adoption of this system, were unwilling, one and all of them, to have this grievous measure of tax- 680 ation imposed upon them. They imposed a tax upon the country—a tax unlimited in extent. Again, let it not be supposed that by this Bill they would prevent the irruption of Irish labourers into England. Where higher prices for labour were to be obtained, there would the Irish labourers resort. They could not check the ingress of those who sought for that labour which was to be obtained. The same irruption of Irish labourers would continue, if this Bill were passed. To show the House how people of all parties, how men who were almost universally opposed to each other, were opposed to this Bill, he would refer to a paper of the trades' political union, by whom a committee had been appointed to take the subject into consideration; that committee declared (and he thought very truly) that the Bill was one of great length, but confused in arrangement, and technically unintelligible to the many. These parties objected to the appointment of paid officers, and they contended that if such a temptation to jobbing existed, there would not be a man to be found to act gratuitously as a guardian to the poor. This committee observed, that they could not close their report without stating, that the proposed Poor-law was not the mode of proceeding to be adopted. He quite agreed with these parties. Now with respect to parishes with which he was closely connected, he bad taken the trouble to see how the system to which he had adverted worked. In one parish, containing 17,420 statute acres, and a population of 8,226, there the entire number of the poor supported in the workhouse was thirteen, whilst the number of out-door poor who received relief was 100. In Newtownards the population was 11,000, twenty destitute persons were supported in the workhouse, and relief was given out of doors to 140. He begged to say he entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin in his opposition—his decided opposition to this Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman was, perhaps, not aware of this fact—that a great public meeting had been called together at Belfast, at which Dr. Cooke, the leader of a very large party, who were much opposed to that hon. and learned Gentleman, proposed three cheers for Mr. O'Connell, for his determined opposition to this Bill. With respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman, he was delighted to see him present, but he must permit him to say, that he was not content with his opposition 681 being merely verbal. He knew the hon. and learned Gentleman held a power over her Majesty's Government by which he could prevent them from carrying measures which were obnoxious to the people of Ireland. Why did he not then come forward and tell the noble Lord that he did not approve of this Bill? And if the noble Lord then persisted in carrying it through the House, why did he not withdraw from the noble Lord? This would be the way for him to act. He spoke it not offensively, but he would say let him not support a Bill which must be injurious to the people of Ireland. Having made this appeal to the hon. and learned Gentleman, he had no doubt they would hear why it was, he supported her Majesty's Governnent in spite of this fatal measure. For himself he was satisfied, having been able to record his opinion, for he had no power to delay the passing of a measure which was fraught with great evil.
said, it was his rule to support Ministers when they were right, and to oppose them when wrong; but the noble Lord seemed anxious that he should oppose them whether right or wrong. In the present instance he thought them exceedingly wrong; and he begged the House to consider, that he and the noble Lord for the first time in that House fully coincided in their views, and represented the unanimous opinions of the people of Ireland. The Archbishop of Dublin and Dr. Cooke were opposed to the measure, the grand juries in the different counties were opposed to it, and only four petitions had been presented in its favour. When Ireland, then, was almost unanimous in its opposition, he would appeal to English Gentlemen whether they would force on that country a measure that the people rejected. This was not a party question, and all who knew Ireland, and were anxious for her tranquillity, should unite in condemning this Bill, which was wrong in its principle and paltry in its limits. The English Poor-law Bill was based on different reasons. The abuse of the old system created a pauper population that shrunk from work, and its faults were so glaring, that the new Poor-law Act was passed to stimulate the people to labour. But was such a stimulus wanted in Ireland? Did not the Irish labourer traverse from the extreme of Connaught as far as Kent—about 700 miles—in search of employment? The Irish were to be found wherever wages could be obtained; and if 682 this law were merely intended as a stimulus, it was based in error, or, as the gallant Officer opposite said, it was altogether a blunder. He begged leave to draw the attention of the House to the details of the measure; and he would, in the first place, ask whether it were prudent to exclude the clergy from being guardians? However the Irish clergy—the Protestant and Catholic—might differ in polemics, they always worked together in carrying out any charitable project, and their only rivalship was in their endeavours to assist the poor. He therefore thought, and he said it with great respect, that his brother magistrates should have been excluded instead of the clergy. The Bill did not improve as its details were followed out. No out-door relief was to be given, all relief was to be in the workhouse, and he would ask if that were likely to tend to the peace of the country? The Bill had no control over mendicancy and vagrancy, which would continue on as large a scale as heretofore, although in England from the time of Elizabeth, wherever workhouses were established, no application was allowed to any other public charity. The farmers' burdens would not be at all relieved by the Bill. Supposing 100 workhouses were erected, capable of containing 100,000 paupers, they would not be sufficient for Ireland, where at some seasons of the year, the destitute amounted to 2,300,000. In Dublin, at present the workhouse contained 2,500 paupers, and the Mendicity Asylum 4,000; still, the streets were crowded with paupers, not from different parts of the country, but almost all natives of that city. By this, it would appear that 100 workhouses would be very inadequate to the wants of the country. The landlords would suffer materially from a law of settlement not having been introduced into the bill. He did not join in the indiscriminate censure of the landlords of Ireland, for he was confident that they did not deserve it; but this bill would open the door to inflicting great hardships on them. At present it was said, that the tenants were turned out in a state of destitution; but this bill would give the landlord an opportunity of saying that he had paid his duties to the poorhouse, and that the tenants might find a refuge there. But let the House remember that the poor rates paid on land by the occupier, were in the proportion of 7-10ths whilst only 3-10ths were paid by the landlord. Any nobleman or gentleman who 683 resided on his estate would pay 7-10ths as occupier, whilst a non-resident landlord would pay only 3-10ths. The Poor-law Commissioners had, in their third report, stated the gross rental of Ireland to be estimated at 10,000,000l. sterling, but that of the landlords to be only 6,000,000l; and yet, occupiers were to pay after the rate of 7-10ths, whilst absentees were to pay only 3-10ths of the poor rates. Men talked of the gross rental of Ireland, but they ought to consider the amount to which landlords were taxed. They should remember, too, how many unsettled questions there were on Irish matters: there was the Irish Tithe question, the Irish corporation question, and others unsettled; and whether the principles of all of them were right or wrong, the Legislature should look to the consequences of them, if they were carried. Now what would this Poor-law cost? Why at the very outset there were to be built 100 poor houses, and it was impossible that less than 10,000l. could be expended to get up the machinery of the bill; besides which, there was to be a large staff of officers. First, there were to be 300 chaplains; the appointments of chaplains of the Established Church and of the Presbytery were right, and the Roman Catholic chaplains were really necessary. Then there were the Poor-law Commissioners, sub-Commissioners, and lastly, the guardians. It had often been said, that Ireland was too poor for a Poor-law: and yet, what an enormously expensive machinery was this to support the poor. The country had, however, always evinced a great desire to support the poor, as well as they could, and yet, with all their difficulties to do this, there has been added the additional expense of this enormous staff, which he might say would amount to nearly 1,000,000l. sterling. In Ireland, agricultural labourers were more numerous than in England, for whilst the latter country had only 1,055,982, the former had about 1,131,715; so that with only two-thirds of the population of England, Ireland had 75,000 more agricultural labourers; but by this bill the means would be taken from the occupiers of land and the farmers, of employing their labourers, though this was the only resource which labourers had, except perhaps their long journies to this country, and they would consequently be turned into the workhouses. Then what was the agricultural produce of Ireland? Now in England, the average for agricultural produce was 150,000,000, and 684 in Ireland only 36,000,000; whilst in England the produce was in the proportion of four to one, and in Ireland of two to one; though if it were not for the want of capital to purchase proper manure for the land, and to cultivate it well, the land in Ireland would produce four times that of England. Again, the produce of every English labourer was calculated at 141l., whilst that of the Irish labourer was only 31l., and yet this additional taxation was to be imposed on them. He had referred to various documents for the purpose of showing the House that Ireland could not support this burthen. What were the sources of capital? Rent, wages, and profits. Now the manufactures of Ireland were scarcely any, and therefore the profits were but small; the wages were as low as they could possibly be; and of the rents a great portion was spent out of the country. There was, however, a chance of this bill being thrown out in another place. If he had wanted a subject to excite an inflammatory feeling, he should have taken up this bill. Many of the landlords in Ireland had obtained their possessions by confiscation, and if he had taken a different course, he might on that account have obtained the assistance of the Catholic clergy, and easily got their co-operation in making the rich feed the poor; but he had proposed, and had conscientiously taken, the other course of opposing the bill. His opinion ought to have some weight connected as he was with Ireland. He had dissected the details of the bill without any party feeling, for the irritation and influence against it would have been too great to be subdued by any physical force, if a breath had been uttered with a view to stir up discontent, by one in whom the people of Ireland had confidence. Let the House, then, not throw this additional infliction on them. He would caution them and say that the farmers and the gentry of the country were against it; the voice of the whole country was opposed to it; the experiment had been made on a false and fictitious basis. In the name, therefore, and with the combination of all parties in the country, he would ask the House to pause before passing this measure, hoping that it would be withdrawn, and that Ireland might have the hope of a better one being proposed.
§ Viscount Morpeth
felt the difficulty of addressing the House after the eloquent speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin; still he wished to make a few ob- 685 servations on the Bill under consideration. In doing so, he should feel absolved from the necessity of entering into detail on any particular points, which had been distinctly discussed and finally fixed in the Committee, as well as of opening the general question, of whether or not it was expedient to introduce a Poor-law into Ireland; the sense of the House on that general question being sufficiently ascertained by the stage at which the Bill had arrived. In that stage, it was nevertheless competent to Members on all sides of the House, to declare whether, in their opinion, the measure was one calculated to effect the object which it professed to have in view. Great stress was now laid on apparent symptoms of repugnance to the measure in Ireland by those who were hardly heard in opposition to it in its early stages, or in the long intervals of its consideration; but who now, at the tenth or eleventh hour, called on the House to stop short, and to postpone the Bill to a future period. He must confess he felt somewhat surprised that these symptoms did not manifest themselves at an earlier period. For although he had always been persuaded, that the general opinion was, that the time had come for the introduction of a Poor-law into Ireland, yet he imagined that whenever any scheme should be brought forward, with the views and prospects of its being actually carried into effect, whatever that scheme might be, it would be met by a host of objectors, various and vehement. It was impossible, but that many objections must lie to the details of any measure introducing a Poor-law into Ireland. Yet, though the hon. and learned Gentleman and the noble Lord had, in former stages entered into an examination of the details of the measure; they now refused to admit the principle of the introduction of the Poor-law into Ireland. At the same time, he must do the hon. and learned Gentleman the justice of saying, that although his opposition to the measure had been constant, he had never mixed that opposition up with inflammatory matters calculated to excite the poorer classes in Ireland. Whoever had a favorite scheme of his own upon the subject, of course looked at that scheme with unfavourable eyes, and though their own several schemes would probably be more utterly at variance with each other, yet the plan of the Government, as being the most strenuous and formidable competitor, would attract all their concentrated hostility. With respect to the present measure, it was 686 natural that it should disappoint two parties in Ireland. Those who were to be the recipients of the proposed relief would be disappointed, that that relief was not more extensive; those who were to contribute the relief, would be alarmed and jealous at the extent to which they were to be called upon to contribute. But for all these different kinds of opposition, it was the duty of her Majesty's Government to be prepared. They had been so prepared; they had stood by the principle of their measure; they had yielded no part of that principle to influence or to opposition, except where it was shown by fair and open argument, that some portion of the Bill was susceptible of improvement. It had been said before, and the hon. Baronet who had that evening moved the amendment, repeated the charge, that Government had shown themselves very stiff-necked in this matter, and that they had not paid the deference which they ought, to the opinions of gentlemen coming from the country in which the proposed measure was to operate. Now, although Government had unquestionably adhered to the principle of the measure, it was incorrect to say, that they had not adopted the suggestions made to them with respect to the details, whenever those suggestions appeared to be deserving of adoption. In proof of this, he would refer to the numerous changes in the Bill which had been introduced in the Committee. [The noble Lord here read a list of the changes to which he alluded, comprehending the consent of the guardians to be indispensable to dissolve any union; the definition of the circumstances under which guardians were to be appointed; the checks put upon grants for emigration, the total exclusion of the vagrancy clauses, &c. &c.] It had been further alleged, that this Bill was to be carried in spite of the sentiments and the votes of the Members for Ireland. Now, he had made out a catalogue of the votes on the subject. It appeared, that on the principle of the Bill (the question being the Speaker's leaving the chair), the Irish Members who voted in favour of the Bill were fifty-six in number, the number who voted against it was sixteen. It might be said, however, that the majority on that occasion waited to make alterations in the Committee. It appeared, however, that in twenty-five divisions which took place in the Committee, there were only eight in which there was a majority of such Members against Government. In the other seventeen cases, 687 the majority was in favour of Government. He perfectly admitted, that it was very difficult to deal with this question, so as to please all parties; but, up to that hour, no scheme at once more prudent and more efficacious, had been proposed. When he heard so much of meetings in Ireland and of petitions against the Bill by grand juries, by trades' unions, and by other bodies—while he admitted the perfect right of those bodies to arraign the measure, he could not forget that the classes for whose benefit it was principally intended did not enjoy corresponding means of making their wishes known. From what, no doubt, were the honest and sincere, but he believed also the exaggerated, apprehensions of the contributors to the poor-rate, he could not help turning to the poorer classes of the Irish people, wandering on the highways, or perishing in their cabins. The cry of him that was ready to perish did not find its way to their table. At the last of the meetings of the kind to which he had alluded, and which had taken place in Dublin, Mr. Staunton, the respectable editor of a Dublin newspaper, spoke of a case of horrid destitution. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin replied, that that might be the case in a particular district, but that that was no argument for the general introduction of a poor-law. Upon this the rev. Mr. Toole, a Catholic clergyman, rose to address the meeting. Mr. Toole stated, that he resided in the county of Kildare; that he was well acquainted with the state of the poor in that county; that there were annually hundreds of them who died of want, but who would have been saved by a poor-law; that it was unimportant whether the names of bastiles or prisons were given to their places of reception, but that it was very important that they should be rescued from utter destitution; that whole families were living in houses without roofs, exposed to the open air; that sickness, consequently, spread among them to a most distressing extent; that all the wealthy people of the county were absent; and that he hoped something would be done to alleviate the dreadful misery which prevailed. Now, in his opinion, this short simple statement outwent all the logic of the opponents of the Bill, and its eloquence exceeded theirs. The most practical objection which had been made to the Bill was the alleged deficiency of means which the proposed workhouses would provide for the relief of the destitute; while great stress was ladi upon 688 the sentiments of repugnance felt by the poor of Ireland to be received into the workhouses at all. Now, with reference to this last objection, he would ask whether, if they hoped to devise any measure which would materially relieve the poor without ruining the country, it was not the safest plan, while they rendered it impossible for the poor to perish from starvation, if they chose to avoid it, to make the mode of relief as irksome and unattractive, and a dependence on their own labour and exertions as alluring, as possible? The alleged repugnance to workhouses would operate in two ways. It would operate on the contributors to relief, and it would operate on the recipients of relief. On the latter it would operate by inducing them to find employment, that they might escape the necessity of going into the workhouses; on the former it would operate by inducing them to give employment, that they might escape the necessity of contribution. In truth, from this indirect working of the Bill he anticipated the greatest portion of the advantages which, in his opinion, would flow from it. He was well aware that there was another mode of relieving the poor in Ireland, which, to some, would be more palatable than the present measure: namely, that of employing them on public and private works. That was the mode of relief especially recommended by the Commissioners of the Irish Poor-law Inquiry. For these Commissioners he entertained the greatest respect, and he had always sincerely regretted that it was not found practicable entirely to concur in their suggestions. He should always consider that the gratitude of the country was due to them for the zeal and ability which those Commissioners had manifested. But, perhaps, from their number, and from the very deference they entertained for the opinions and authority of each other, they had arrived at conclusions of a less practical character than they would otherwise have been; and their report in consequence assumed something like the character of a compromise, tending to reconcile as much, and repel as little, of their diverging views as possible. But with regard to any employment that might be afforded in the construction of public works and the draining of bogs, he could not conceal from himself the opinion that it would operate as a very imperfect means of relief. With respect to emigration, he was undoubtedly of opinion that, well and judiciously conducted, it would operate with great advantage to Ire- 689 land; but it would not be sufficient in itself, unaided by any system of poor-laws, to remove all the distress which unhappily existed in that country. He should like to know what scheme of emigration, or what system of out-door-relief, maintained by an assessment upon land, could be established in Ireland for the relief of a distressed population amounting to 2,300,000 souls, if it were desired that the proprietors of that country should remain in possession of a single acre of the lands they now held? Under these circumstances he was strongly of opinion that the system of relief proposed in the present bill was at once the simplest, the most comprehensive, and the best, that could be established. After expressing his thanks for the hearty and sincere co-operation which had been afforded to the Government from all parts of the House during the progress of the bill to this its final stage, the noble Lord concluded in these terms:—May the spirit which has presided over the debates upon the measure equally accompany its development when it comes to be carried into practical operation. Felix faustumque sit is the prayer with which we now launch it forth into the world, and I feel assured that it is a prayer which will find an echo in the breast of every man who feels an interest in the welfare of Ireland.
§ Mr. J. Young
observed, that the noble Lord who had just sat down had said the opposition to this measure had been late in coming, but the noble Lord appeared to have overlooked the fact that there were petitions against it on the table from every part of Ireland. In order to conciliate the landed interest of Ireland, the noble Lord ought to have attempted to define to what extent in any one year, the expenses of this Poor-law would go in particular districts. The hon. Gentleman read a statement of what he had calculated would be the expenses of the machinery of the bill, in one county, for one year, which he said would reach the enormous sum of 16,000l. Now, he asked, could such an expense as this be considered prudent? He thought not, and more especially as the benefit to result from it would at most be only partial, and extend to but a small number of persons. He feared that it would not be productive of the moral effects anticipated from it; and, agreeing in the opinion expressed by Bolingbroke, that the best laws would be injurious if opposed to the spirit of the people, he could not support this bill because he kuew 690 that the feeling of the people of Ireland was hostile to it. Undoubtedly, the Irish gentry were unfavourable to it, and if they remained united, and refused to take an active part in carrying its provisions into operation, it could not fail to work otherwise than languidly and inefficiently. It would be utterly impossible for the Commissioners and their officers to overcome, unaided by the gentry, the difficulties they would have to encounter, and if it were not calculated to produce a moral effect on the people, it would be more injurious than advantageous.
said: Not having been present at former discussions on the principle of this measure, and to show to the learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin, that Irishmen are not so unanimous upon this question as he imagines, I must entreat the attention of the House for a short time upon this occasion, while I say a few words in defence of this measure, as I cannot reconcile it to myself to give a silent vote upon the measure now before it—a measure which appears to me of the greatest importance to the future welfare of Ireland. I rise, Sir, not from any undue wish to intrude my inexperienced opinion upon the House, but influenced by a deep sense of the duty which I owe to my constituents, by a deep sense of the duty which I owe to the nation at large, as one of the Representatives of the people in this House, and a strong feeling of the great responsibility which attaches to every Member of Parliament. In short, Sir, I cannot give the vote which I have made up my mind to give to-night in favour of this measure without stating very briefly a few of the reasons which actuate me in such a course. I consider, in the first place, that whether or not, in point of fact, the absence of a Poor-law in Ireland is a substantial grievance, it at any rate leaves room for evil-disposed persons to make it appear to be so; and I think it cannot be denied that there is something wanting in any system of Government wherein there is no legal enactment to save the infirm and helpless from absolute want. But, at the same time, I think, that the end of a just and wholesome Poor-law should by no means include that indiscriminate charity which gives to all who ask, without inquiry, and as far as I understand the measure now before the House, I must say, that it appears to me well calculated to afford to the poor in Ireland that just 691 relief which they have a right to expect from the humanity of an enlightened state, without inflicting unnecessary burdens upon the property of individuals. The opponents of this measure, Sir, have endeavoured to fasten upon it all the opprobrium connected with the English Bill; but I think that, though the two measures certainly resemble one another in principle, there is the strongest possible difference in their tendency, arising from the nature of the circumstances to meet which the two Bills have been respectively framed. The English Bill was brought in for the purpose of correcting an enormous abuse in an existing law, and its unpopularity in some quarters arose from certain harsh provisions which it contained, and not from any fault in its general principle. This Bill is, on the contrary, a boon to the poor of Ireland. The effects of which cannot be known, because the experiment of a Poor-law has never been tried. The effect of the English Bill is to reduce nearly one-half of the gross amount of the poor-rates. That of this measure will be to create a fund for the relief of the poor which has never before existed. The English Bill takes away from persons who have long received parish relief an allowance to which, by long use, they consider themselves justly entitled; this measure creates an entirely new resource for the pauper, which, without necessarily diminishing his present means, will form an additional barrier against the extremes of penury. Surely, Sir, nothing can possibly constitute a greater distinction between two measures than the fact that one is to give, the other to take away. But, Sir, although I have determined, upon due consideration, to support this measure to-night, I must confess that I should most sincerely rejoice if one or two of its clauses were modified before it becomes the law of the land. There are clauses especially to which I object, as I consider them impolitic at least, if not dangerous. The clauses to which I allude are those which invest the Commissioners created to carry this Act into execution with almost arbitrary power with regard to the appointment and payment of officers. I say, Sir, that these clauses are dangerous, because, bearing fully in mind the great powers which belong to this House, I yet think that there is one extreme exercise of power which does not belong to her, and that is the power of delegating any part of her 692 legislative authority to a triumvirate of persons not necessarily included among her Members. I conceive that the power of Commissioners created by this Act, or by any other Act, should be strictly limited to an executive power, and that any power which shall exceed that executive power, any power which shall arrogate to itself the functions of legislation, is inalienably entailed upon this House, and cannot, even by its own act, be transferred from itself without a manifest and direct breach of the spirit of the constitution. It seems to me, therefore, at least inexpedient, and I doubt not that a great number of Members of this House agree with me in opinion, that the power of taxation which this House has hitherto held solely vested in itself should be transferred in any instance from herself, to be exercised at the discretion of any three persons, or, as may be by this Bill, at the discretion of a single individual, however immaculate and however faultless that individual may happen to be. There are one or two other points in this Bill which I disapprove; but, Sir, I feel most strongly that in the present state of Ireland a Poor-law of some sort is absolutely necessary for that country, and I do not therefore think that I am authorised in voting for the rejection of a measure which contains many provisions of an excellent nature, merely on account of the deficiency of some of its parts; and I am the more encouraged, Sir, in this idea by the reflection, that even by the most sanguine of those who believe most in its efficacy, this Bill can only be considered in the light of an experiment—a great experiment to feel, as it were, the pulse of the Irish nation, in order that hereafter the principle may be improved and adapted more particularly to the nature of the case. I feel inclined, therefore, myself, and I hope the event will prove that a majority of this House are also inclined, to promote this great experiment, which has for its object the welfare and happiness of a whole nation. But, Sir, the chief reason which influences me in wishing for a Poor-law in Ireland, even if it be found necessary to run the risk of a dangerous experiment to obtain one, is that I feel convinced that such a measure will rob agitation of its bitterest venom. It is a measure calculated in its origin and in its effects to open the eyes of the deluded people of Ireland to a sense of the imposture by which they have long been de- 693 ceived—in its origin, because it springs not from that source whence, if there be any value in oft-repeated protestations of patriotism, any Bill for the relief of the Irish poor could naturally arise—in its effects, because it will point out to those deluded persons the right quarter whence substantial relief is to be expected, and it will teach them to set down at their real worth the bubble theories of those who, under the mask of a pretended zeal for the political equality of their countrymen, but in reality in their restless ambition for political distinction, themselves pour vitrol into their country's wounds, and excite all those who can by any device be prevailed upon to listen to their inflammatory harangues, to deeds of rapine and of blood. I think, Sir, that the benefit conferred upon the people by a poor law, should be an absolute benefit—a benefit which seeks no equivalent, and that it should at any rate be most carefully ordered, so as not to interfere with the existing resources of industry, much less diminish their numbers. And now, Sir, having already detained the House too long, I shall sit down, only repeating that I have come to the determination of giving my vote this night in favour of this measure, because I conscientiously consider it to be on the whole well calculated to produce the beneficial results of a judicious Poor-law, which I consider to be not to maintain the healthy and athletic young man in indolence on the one hand, nor to find work for all who may assert that they cannot find it elsewhere on the other, but to provide that no person shall be reduced to utter destitution, without a last resource, which shall always be open to him when he can find no other means of subsistence. This, and this alone, is the legitimate object of a Poor-law in any country—not to offer a premium to the indolence of every sturdy mendicant who may make it his endeavour to live upon the follies and weaknesses of his fellow men—not to add to the natural tendency of the human mind to crime by recklessly associating in unrestrained communion, lawless persons of both sexes, but to hold forth as a fundamental principle of the Christian faith, as a great rule of enlightened policy, the doctrine of charity, and to incorporate it with the various, enactments of the Legislature.
said, that as the modifications he had expected would have been 694 effected in the bill, had not been made, he felt it his duty to oppose the third reading. He did not consider the measure sufficiently circumscribed to merit his support, because he was persuaded that a poor-rate, providing relief for all the able-bodied poor of Ireland would prove by far too oppressive for the land to bear. He was the more persuaded of the correctness of the views he had taken when he considered the feelings of hostility to the measure which had been generally expressed in Ireland, and when he reflected, that, with one exception, the grand juries of that country, which had petitioned the House on the subject, had all expressed their opposition to the proposal of granting relief to the able-bodied poor.
§ Sir E. Hayes
said, that the strong objection to the measure in Ireland was to the workhouse system, which it would establish, but he opposed it because he thought it would impose a burthen on the country too great to be borne. It was a serious drawback on it that it did not contain the mendicity clauses. Disapproving of it, he could not give it his support, and he had made these few remarks, because he did not wish to give a silent vote on a measure which was so important for Ireland.
§ Mr. Bellew
said, it was his intention to vote for the third reading, on the ground that the bill would be a great benefit to the Irish poor. It was much better, in his opinion, that this bill should pass, than the poor of Ireland should be left for another year without a Legislative provision.
§ Colonel Conolly
said, his constituents were anxious that he should support this bill, and, therefore, it was not without regret that he found himself unable to comply with their wishes. Amendments had been talked of, but had not been made; and, as he believed, that to carry such a measure into effect, would absorb the whole rental of the country, he must oppose its further progress. Entertaining the impressions he did respecting the measure, he merely wished to call the attention of the House to those points in which the noble Lord had departed from the principles on which he set out. If the noble Lord had consented to adopt the amendment proposed by the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin, he would have done much to propitiate the public mind to the bill. The noble Lord 695 took credit for the view to economy with which this measure had been framed, and yet he left the agricultural population subject to the expense to which they were subjected by the existence of vagrancy. Whatever difference of political opinions might exist between himself and the hon. Member for Dublin, he could not help thinking his arguments on this subject to be very forcible. The great evil of Ireland was poverty, and surely poverty could not be relieved by additional taxation. He thought, that it was a very objectionable arrangement, instead of making the taxation local, to have the country divided into unions of great extent. If the taxation were local, it would give the landlords every inducement to reduce the rate, but, whatever exertions a landlord might make to improve the condition of his tenantry and to lessen the rate, individual exertion could have no effect under this bill, as the unions were to be of such very great extent. The expectations that had been formed, that the bill would be improved in Committee, had turned out to be quite unfounded. The alterations that had been made were of a trifling and insignificant nature, and the main features of the bill remained unchanged. He could not support this bill. By omitting to provide against vagrancy, they left the public to be charged twice over. Everything that could lead to economy, and give an inducement to a saving of expense, had been taken away. By dividing the country into large districts instead of small, they laid the foundation for profligate expenditure to an extent of which at present they could have no idea. The best way to provide for an economical management, would be to make men feel that the economy would reach their own pockets. The present measure was rather calculated to be a source of patronage, than a means of relieving the poor, and as such he should feel bound to vote against the third reading of the bill.
§ Colonel Verner
had presented several petitions against this bill, and one of those petitions was from the grand jury of the county which he had the honour to represent, and he did not feel it consistent with his duty to give a silent vote on the present occasion. It was charged against those who opposed this bill, that they were opposed to a provision for the relief of the poor. Now 696 this was an undeserved imputation, from which he was anxious to relieve himself and those who concurred in opinion with him on this subject. He was convinced, that this bill would be a failure. Those who supported the present measure admitted, that it was only to be considered as an experiment, and he was not prepared to give his support to so expensive an experiment. He never would consent to a measure of such importance for the sake of an experiment. Before they adopted an experiment of this kind, they should first be sure that if the experiment failed, they could come back to the same point from which they started. Whilst he was lately in Ireland, attending; the Assizes, he had had an opportunity of ascertaining the opinions of all classes respecting this measure, and he found the opinion of all unfavourable to the bill now before the House. His colleague concurred in opinion with him in his opposition to this bill, and would give his vote against the third reading. He hoped, that the noble Lord would not persist in forcing this measure contrary to the feelings and opinions of the people of Ireland. He should be happy to give his support to any measure which he felt to be calculated to relieve the poor of Ireland; but he protested against the imputation, at once unjust and uncharitable, that all who opposed this bill were opposed to relief of the poor.
§ Sir E. Sugden
, as he had taken an active part in the various discussions respecting the present bill, was anxious to make a few observations. He did not think it fair to charge English Members with a desire to force this measure upon the Irish people. A more unfair and unjust charge could not be made. He had not been absent from any of the discussions that had taken place respecting this bill, and he had devoted his attention to it, not with an English but with an Irish feeling. He was interested in improving the condition of the people of Ireland; and, moreover, he thought it a great object of English legislation. He was not anxious to force this measure. He had taken no view whatever respecting it as a party man, but had taken that bill which he thought best. This was, in fact, no party question, and one on which no party feelings should be displayed. Now, with respect to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin during the whole of his argu- 697 ment he had not suggested any better plan than this before the House. He did not think the hon. and learned Member was a fair opponent, for he was opposed to a poor's rate altogether. He did not support the present measure because it followed to a great extent the English Poor-law, but he thought that the test of destitution which the plan embraced, was the very best that could be adopted. Surely no one would contend, that it would be safe to give relief without a test of destitution. According to the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, there should be no test but mere poverty. But whilst he found fault with a test of destitution, he was opposed to a poor provision altogether, and the objection to a test of destitution came with a bad grace from one who was opposed to a provision altogether. The next topic of the hon. and learned Gentleman was with respect to the extent of destitution. The hon. and learned Member said instead of having to provide for only eighty thousand, that they would have to provide for eight hundred thousand paupers. Now he could not understand an argument against the measure for not going far enough, coming from those who objected to the measure because it went farther than they wished. He would support this measure as far as his vote went. He thought confinement in the workhouse would be of itself a sort of destitution. An objection had been urged against the present measure because it did not contain a provision against mendicancy. He believed, that the vagrancy clauses were given up because it was felt that as they could not provide for all the poor, it would not be just to compel them by law to abstain from appealing for relief. However, the operation of the Bill itself would have a tendency to lessen the amount of relief given by the agricultural classes, for when they found that other means were provided, their sympathies would not be so ready, and they would be more slow in affording relief. He did not mean to say, that the operations and impulses of benevolence should be interdicted by a legal obligation. It was not because a man paid a tax, that he should feel himself relieved from all sympathy with human wretchedness, or released from the duties of benevolence. He could not in supporting the present Bill be suspected of any leaning 698 towards the present Government. He had no objection to pressure upon the Government, and he thought that in general they were too softly and too kindly dealt with by those on that side of the House; but he believed, that the vagrancy clauses had been given up on the ground, that as they could not give a legal title to relief, nothing could be more unjust than to say, that men should not travel about to seek relief. However, on this point the Government had pledged themselves to bring forward a proper remedy on an early occasion. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin had said, that there were more agricultural labourers in Ireland than in England, and yet that England, with a less fertile soil, was more productive. Now, was not this an argument to show, that a Poor-law had benefitted England, and had elevated and improved her people to a certain extent? He wanted the poor of Ireland to be raised to a higher condition. The poor of Ireland ought to be compelled not to live on potatoes; when they had a higher standard of living, the people would be elevated in their condition, and a higher state of agricultural improvement would necessarily follow. He supported the present Bill, because he thought it would raise the condition of the people of Ireland, and would compel the landlords of that country to take a greater interest in the condition of the labouring classes. He did not consider the present plan to be absolute wisdom, but he thought it as free from objection as any similar plan could be. He supported this measure, though opposed to her Majesty's Government, and he hoped he would always continue in opposition. He thought it best, that the Government should have the responsibility of this measure. They would, on that account, be more desirous to look closely to its working, and make any improvements, that experience should render necessary. In conclusion, in behalf of himself, as well as every other English Member who supported this Bill, he must protest against any wish to force this measure on the people of Ireland. He supported the measure, because he thought it calculated to confer a benefit on Ireland, and in the course he took he felt pain to differ in opinion from many with whom he was in the habit of acting, and for whom he entertained the highest respect. He would vote for the third reading of the bill.
§ Mr. Sheil
commenced by observing that, giving the English Members credit for all the purity of intention which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir E. Sugden) claimed for them, it was quite possible that, from that want of experience possessed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself, in consequence of the high and honourable situation which he filled, to the admiration of all who witnessed the discharge of his duties, might render those Gentlemen not the best judges with respect to the safety of the experiment which was attempted to be applied to Ireland. He perfectly agreed in the opinion that party feelings should not be excited in a discussion of this description. The noble Lord, the Member for Bath, spoke in a manner which formed the only exception to the rule which was observed throughout this discussion when he expressed his willingness to support this measure as the means of putting down agitation. He would not stop to inquire how locking up the beggars would have the effect of putting down the independence of the 10l. voters. He must say, however, that a total abstinence from political topics argued a false delicacy which he did not understand. The Duke of Wellington had stated in another place, where he had the power of carrying his announcement into effect, that he looked upon the Poor-law as a preliminary measure to the adoption of corporate reform. The noble Duke wanted the rate not solely for the purpose of relieving the poor, but as the standard for the qualification. Such an intimation had certainly been given. Now, he did not think that corporation reform had the slightest natural connection with the Poor-law Bill, notwithstanding the artificial connection which was attempted to be made between them. Between poor rates and tithes he did think that the strongest identity existed. Why? Because both were charges on the land, and both were matters of experiment. And the question was, whether they were not inverting the natural order when they imposed a new charge before they extricated that country from the embarrassments incidental to the great ecclesiastical incumbrances under which it laboured. As he had already stated, he should certainly abstain from all acrimonious topics. All the views which he should take were connected solely with the fiscal part of the subject. Now, let 700 no one say, that the tithes were not a subject connected with Poor-laws. The Commissioners appointed by the Government reported a plan by which tithes might be converted into a plan for the maintenance of the poor. What he wished to ask was, while the tithe question was pending, was it not better to delay the settlement of the Poor-law Bill when the two measures were, to a certain extent, an experiment? Mark the origin of the question. At what time was it pressed on the public mind? In the years of 1829 and 1830, by Dr. Doyle, in his celebrated pamphlets, in which he proposed the substitution of Poor-rates for tithes. He was not in the slightest degree advocating the opinions of Dr. Doyle, he merely stated the fact of Dr. Doyle having proposed, that such a fund should be constituted. What occurred in the year 1831? The Member for Wicklow, seconded by Lord Carew, and supported by a large body of the Irish Members, framed resolutions, by which it was proposed that Poor-rates should be substituted for tithes. In the year 1830, these proposals were brought forward in a pure, an unreformed Parliament, for converting tithe into a land-tax, to promote the purposes of charity and religion. Lord Grey came into office in the year 1830, and in the year 1832 that step was taken with regard to the tithe question which had caused enormous litigation, and had, at this moment, caused a great accumulation of the arrears of tithes. It should never be put out of their consideration that they were now about to make an experiment whilst enormous arrears of tithes still remained due. What was the plan proposed by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, in the year 1835? Why, that right hon Gentleman admitted, that the tithe question never could be settled until they paid off all the arrears. The evil felt then was one which had since increased. What, then, was his argument? That they should not impose a new tax on Ireland before those enormous accumulations were, not to say discharged, but even in the slightest degree reduced. He did not mean to vote against it; his objection to it was, that its exact adaptation to the state of the country was not considered. What was the state of Ireland now? The clergy had claims due to them to the amount of nearly 2,000,000l. The clergy themselves owed the State 600,000l. The greatest body of the 701 farmers, those whose leases were previous to the Composition Act, owed arrears of five or six years, What was the state of the landlords? Those who let land at 40s. an acre, paying 3s. tithe, received 37s., and the tenants put the 3s. into their pockets. Having reviewed the state of the clergy, the farmers, and the landlords, he wished to know was it judicious at this moment to press a bill of this nature, and to impose a new incumbrance before they got rid of the difficulties incidental to the tithe question? If this Bill were carried without the Tithe Bill it would cause great practical confusion, with a great deal of political discontent. He feared that a feeling would be excited that English Gentlemen were not the best judges of the most effective mode of managing the local concerns of Ireland. What he meant to propose was, not that this Bill should be rejected, but that if a tithe Bill were sent to the House of Lords, and they refused to carry it, that when this Bill came back, the House of Commons should exercise the same privilege and reject the Poor-law Bill unless accompanied by the Tithe Bill. This, he thought, the most safe and effective policy with regard to that country. When first the Poor-law Bill was spoken of they were told that measures for affording employment and giving facilities to emigration would be brought forward. He had not yet seen any Bills introduced for these purposes. What did he want? He wanted a delay of this measure, not its ultimate frustration. A wholesome delay, with a view to adapt it to the feelings of the Irish people. He was the Representative of a great county, by a majority of 1,000, composed not only of 10l. but of 20l. voters; and in that great agricultural district there existed but one feeling throughout the gentry; the middle-classes, the shop-keepers, and the farmers; all were anxious for the settlement of the tithe question before the Poor-law Bill. They ought not to hurry and precipitate this measure. He was really astonished at the change of opinion which had taken place on this subject. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer was once a vehement opponent of Poor-laws; the Member for North Lancashire was once also a vehement opponent of Poor-laws. So was the tight hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth, and the Marquess of Lansdowne. What had produced the 702 change? He admitted there was a change in public opinion, but it was the public opinion of this country, which he knew was peremptory and emphatic. But if measures were to be passed adapted to the state of Ireland, they should prescribe for the whole of Ireland, which now bent and tottered beneath an existing burden. They should take care that they did not, instead of alleviating that, impose another and more onerous load on her back.
§ Lord Clements
had listened with very great regret to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend. He was well aware how unequal his talents were to reply to his hon. and learned Friend, but he must be allowed to express his regret at the attempt to mix up two questions which had not the slightest natural connexion. According to the reasoning of his hon. and learned Friend, they might as well make the establishment of a Poor-law contingent on the arrangement of grand jury cess, or any other impost on land. He would maintain that tithes and Poor-laws had no connexion except in the imagination of the hon. and learned Member. He had just returned from Ireland, where, he must confess, he found the measure very distasteful to a great number of the people; but he had also visited the cottages of that country, and the appearance of misery presented by them, only rendered his conviction of the necessity of a Poor-law stronger than ever. It was impossible for any one to avoid that conclusion, more especially if he had seen the contrast afforded by the residences of the English peasantry. He had listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, and he did not hear in that speech any substitute for a Poor-law proposed as a relief for the destitute poor of Ireland. That hon. and learned Member opposed the measure as bad in principle; that was the position he meant to combat, as his experience had led him to a directly opposite conclusion. The hon. and learned Member asserted that Ireland was too poor for a Poor-law. He (Lord Clements) denied that; he would not sue for his country in formâ pauperis—he would maintain that she was capable of supporting her own poor. He thought it a most humiliating thing to hear her principal advocate asserting that she was too poor for a Poor-law. Let them only put their shoulders to the wheel, and if they found the present Bill not to answer, they 703 could easily frame a better, but let them not abandon the principle. Merchants and farmers in Ireland might be opposed to the measure, but there was another class which had not been consulted, the class of the destitute, the aged, and the helpless. It was for that class he appealed when he implored the House not to reject the proposed Bill but to amend it. The hon. and learned Member seemed also to think that the resident landlords would be inconvenienced by the necessity of studying the comforts of their dependents. But he (Lord Clements) would contend that the more they improved the condition of their inferiors the more would their own be bettered. One of the great objections to the Bill was the absence of a law of settlement; but he thought that the provision for electing guardians would be found an ample equivalent for that law, as the power of giving relief was by it delegated to the body of all others the most capable of restricting it to proper objects. He regretted, that the Commissioners were to have a power of electing and removing guardians at pleasure; and it was because of the inconvenience which he knew it would cause the Commissioners, that he regretted it. But when he heard from the Government that it was not intended to put this provision in force, but merely to keep it as an ornamental weapon in their legislative armoury, his regret was very much diminished. To the clause called the 5l. clause, he was also opposed, but he would nevertheless vote for the third reading of the Bill, in the firm conviction that that unfortunate clause would be repealed. There were other questions of detail, such as the inordinate size of the unions, to which he was opposed, but about which he would not trouble the House; and he would conclude by merely stating his intention to vote for the third reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. Lucas
said, that the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Sheil) who spoke last but one had rescued the debate from the longer with which it was threatened by the adoption of an exceedingly novel line of argument. The hon. and learned Member had attempted to connect two subjects, which were wholly and essentially different, and which he thought it was necessary should be kept distinct. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that it was improper to proceed with the Poor Relief Bill—to lay a new burthen 704 on the poor—because of another burthen which, in his opinion, it was first necessary to get rid of. The hon. and learned Member stated, that there was at present a large sum due for tithes. He would make a proposition to the hon. and learned Member. Would the hon. and learned Member consent to the appointment of a commission to aid the clergy in the recovery of their tithes? There was a million due from the clergy to the nation. Would he vote for a commission to recover that sum? Of the fitness of the hon. and learned Member for a Commissionership, they had had recent proof—let him be one of the new Commissioners. If by his assistance in that capacity the million could be collected they would appropriate it to the building of workhouses. He would now pass from this part of the subject. The hon. and learned Member had taxed the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, with inconsistency in supporting this Bill. Now, although he could not pretend to answer for the opinions of the right hon. Baronet, he did not see anything inconsistent in his opposing a Poor-law for Ireland when the English system was full of defects, and afterwards advocating it when those evils had been remedied. He never felt greater difficulty in giving a vote than he did on the present occasion. He had supported this Bill in all its stages, because he approved of the principle, but he had reserved the right of making alterations in the details. He could now, however, go no farther with the Government in carrying out the Bill because he considered that the principle was entirely marred by their management of the details. Of the details, he objected to the exemption of large classes from the rate, and to the great size of the unions. With respect to the last, he had seen a return by which it was proved, that whilst the Irish unions were to contain 400 square miles, seventy-eight miles formed the extent of the English unions. The effect of this would be to diminish the interest and excitement to vigilance on the part of the farmer, as his inducement to vigilance, as compared with the English rate payer, would be a saving in proportion of only 10d. to 8s. 4d. He would not detain the House by any further details nor observations on the law of settlement, which had been already settled by large majorities of that House. He would merely say, that be should prefer 705 the introduction of a Poor-law by gradual and progressive experiments to its being in the first instance generally introduced.
§ Mr. William Roche
said, that with respect to those regulations in the details of the Bill, which presented themselves as objectionable to the mind of the hon. Member for Monaghan, who just now spoke, it appeared to him (Mr. Roche) that one year's practical operation and consequent experience, would do more to indicate where we were right, or where we were wrong, than double that period spent in theoretical discussion; debated as the measure had already so amply been, both as regards principle and detail, and conflicting as opinions are on points which can alone be decided by practice and experience. In this view, therefore, it appeared to him advisable to advance the measure into actual operation, and promptly submit it to the decisive test of experience, instead of wasting time in wordy contests. Both feeling and reflection always inclined him, to support the principle of a Poor-law, as alike humane and politic; and history, he believed, proved that those countries were richest and happiest, where, when judiciously devised, it prevailed. That he did so, however, in this instance, not from the preposterous notion, that the present or any one measure could be competent to remedy the various evils which Ireland so long endured—evils generated, not only by centuries of physical neglect, but also by centuries of a vicious and paralysing system of government, a system which called to its aid even the sacred name and functions of religion, not, as Providence designed it, to soothe and allay our frailties and faults, but to foment and aggravate every other cause of social and political discord. But he supported the measure, because, although it could not consummate every thing desirable, yet, in his mind, it constituted a valuable and indispensable first step, and was, when in mature operation, calculated to afford the best basis upon which to establish the many other necessary measures of improvement; and, though not perfect in itself, yet he believed all other remedies would be imperfect without it, which, consequently, rendered it an indispensable commencement. He therefore agreed with the noble Lord, the Member for Leitrim, who took so laudably zealous a part in the progress of this measure, and who gave such valuable aid and information during its respective stages, that though it would not realise every 706 thing we wished, though some of its provisions might demand improvement, yet that we were not to refuse that great good it might, nevertheless, accomplish. In that sentiment he cordially concurred, and in the maxim so familiar to his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Dublin, that though the whole could not be at once obtained, it was unwise to reject an instalment. He was also disposed, with the right hon. and learned Member for Ripon, to exonerate the English Members from the charge of overpowering all opposition to this measure, by their preponderating numbers, for, on the contrary, he thought they were rather accusable, at least in the Committee, for the paucity instead of the plenty of their attendance. With the same right hon. Gentleman he also agreed, that this would be quite a meagre, incompetent measure, if divested of the power (so far as circumstances would permit) of relieving destitution, from whatever source it might arise; for, of what avail would it be to refuse succour to the starving, though able labourer, because he was not infirm or impotent, when a very few days of that destitution would place him and his family in the category of those privileged by disease and infirmity; and, meantime, would he wait until this extent of misery came upon him and those he loved? Might he not take lawless, as he was deprived of lawful, means of protection; or, if he continued submissive and desponding, the tomb might seize on him, and leave his wife and children a burden upon society. Immediate succour therefore would, in such cases, be not only an act of humanity, but likewise one of policy and economy. But, though entertaining these feelings, he could not advocate a compulsory protection to all the destitute, for it would be impracticable, and would at once dry up the sources of future and continued support. To do as much as they could, without impairing property and capital, was all that prudence and propriety dictate; but when this, and other measures, should reduce the mass of destitution now existing, and when the capital and resources of Ireland encrease, they could with more safety and experience, extend the provisions of this law. He recollected seeing it related in the newspapers, that two men who were convicted in Ireland of a crime, which they apprehended might lead to the highest punishment, passed, as they were led back to prison, preparations for the execution of a similarly unfortunate man—they shuddered, 707 but quickly consoled themselves by saying, that though the pain was dreadful, yet it would be brief, and more endurable than the misery and starvation which brought them to their unhappy condition. If too, this measure, as was hoped by his hon. Friend on his left, and as he hoped contributed to put a stop to a reckless extermination of the tenantry, and to the horrid system of revenge generated thereby, it surely would be worth some exertion and expenditure. The poverty of Ireland had been repeatedly adduced as a reason for the unfitness of such a measure; but, if his opinion were right, that no small share of that poverty and misery was engendered by the long want of such a provision, that poverty proved a reason for its adoption, rather than the contrary; and he verily believed, that England would be far from her present pre-eminence in wealth and comfort, were it not for the tranquillising effect upon the mass of the community, created by their sense of this protection. The destitute were supported somehow or other now, but not in any fair ratio, by the property of the country. Was it not, therefore, proper to spread the burden equitably and generally, and thereby render it lighter on those possessed of more humanity, or more attentive to the employment and comfort of those under them? But it was, as affording the best stimulus to that attention and employment, that he pointedly valued such a measure. For, long though they had been deliberating and debating upon the improvement of Ireland, see how little had practically been done. It was time for them, therefore, to come to some more cogent principle of human exertion, and none was so stringent as the increase or diminution of expenditure, according as we neglect or attend to the employment and improvement of the people. For these reasons, and thinking it the duty of the Government, and of the community, not to leave the destitute and dying poor to the mere chance of protection, but to make that protection assured and general, as means and circumstances might permit—thinking too, that when maturely established, it would be an increase of economy, as well as of humanity and policy; he would vote for the passing of the Bill, though not without seeing and regretting the great difficulties its progress and success would encounter, from the feeling that pervaded so many, and such estimable persons respecting it. Still he had again to say, that in his mind, it was deserving of every fair trial and support.
§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
was sorry to find that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lucas), had arrived at the determination that he could not support the bill, for he could assure the hon. Gentleman that his opinion was one on which he was disposed to place great reliance. The hon. Gentleman had given the subject great attention; it was with great satisfaction that the friends of the measure had witnessed the conduct which he had pursued in the Committee, but he would excuse him for saying he did not think that any of the arguments which he had brought forward afforded him a sufficient ground for the withdrawal, in this stage, of his support of the bill. He had said, that he withdrew it because he had difficulties on three points, which he had specified, namely, the size of the unions, the clause with regard to the 5l. tenants, and the law regarding the settlement of paupers. He would point out that the size of the unions was in no way dependant upon the bill itself, but would be governed entirely by the observations and experience of those who should be appointed to carry out its provisions, and by what should prove useful and most practicable. With regard to the 5l. clause, he should not have anticipated that any very serious argument of importance would have been raised on that clause. He was aware that the subject had been debated and most properly and fully discussed, but the point was considered so full of difficulties that he did not hear any one assert that the value of it was much either on one side or the other. If this clause had been altered, and a rental under 5l. had been fixed as the amount which should be rated, it would have been necessary to enlarge the constituencies very much indeed; but it was so evident that great and serious disadvantages would arise from the adoption of this course, that it was felt to be difficult to adopt this proposition, and accordingly the other alternative had been decided on. On these two points, then, he did not think that the hon. Gentleman was justified in withdrawing his support from the bill. The case of settlement he was willing to admit was of far more importance, but while the hon. Member felt so deeply on that subject, he seemed to have put out of consideration the great difficulties which stood in the way of his proposition being carried into effect. It was said that the overseers and guardians would be compelled to give relief to strangers, who would withdraw it, therefore, from 709 those to whom it should be granted, the inhabitants of the district in which the guardians lived. But as there was no compulsory relief, were the guardians compelled to give assistance in one case and refuse it in another? Not at all—they might make their own rules—and, undoubtedly, if they were not to grant it to all, it would be better certainly that those persons who were living in their own neighbourhood should receive it, and that it should not be given to strange paupers. The hon. Gentleman had, however, himself, thrown out the strongest argument against his own proposition, for by his plan of settlement being adopted, all the immense extent of litigation arising from the granting of casual relief, the difficulties attending which had been found so great in the case of the English Poor-law, would arise in a tenfold degree in Ireland, where the habits of the people were migratory, and where destitution and misery existed to so great an extent. He would beg to ask the hon. Gentleman, however, what he was prepared to do in the event of the three points which he had urged being found to be of so much importance as he contended? Was he prepared to leave Ireland without a poor-law? For that would be the effect of the general adoption of the course which the hon. Gentleman had pursued in declining to vote. Knowing the extent of destitution in that country, and knowing as he did, and as he had admitted, the necessity of a poor-law there, was he prepared to allow that destitution and that misery to continue, and to abandon the law altogether? Rather than adopt such a course, was it not better to encounter and endeavour to overthrow the difficulties with which they were threatened? But difficult as this subject was, he had received some confidence from the speeches of those hon. Members who had opposed the third reading of the Bill, for he certainly had found no new argument addressed to the House. No new facts had been discovered which should tend to prove the impropriety of adopting the measure; but the arguments which had been employed were nearly entirely the same as those which had already been used in opposition to the Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Tipperary even had not attempted to grapple with the provisions of the Bill themselves, but by instituting a comparison between its probable effects and those of another measure which was also before them, he had endeavoured to show 710 that the measure was one which the House could not safely pass. This at least showed that there was little which could be urged against the Bill itself, and would tend to show also that little excuse remained to those hon. Gentlemen who should oppose its being passed into a law. But what said an hon. and gallant Member opposite? He had hitherto invariably supported the measure; but he now came forward and said that it was so sweeping and so extensive in its provisions that he had determined to withdraw his support from it. He said, too, that the Government had not varied the bill at all in accordance with the amendments which had been proposed. He denied this on the part of the Government as far as regarded these points, which were not important to the principle and the whole character of the bill; but if the Government had abandoned the right to give relief to able-bodied paupers the chief merit of the bill would have been taken away, and they would be palming a fallacy on Ireland with reference to the Poor-law. The object of a Poor-law, it was said by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, was to raise the condition of the poor, and to find them labour when it was required. Now, it was no such thing. It was the object of the law to prevent an individual from actually starving, and on the other hand to prevent charitable persons from being imposed on by false representations of want and misery. He was prepared to uphold the application of this principle in any country, almost under any circumstances; but if there was any one country in which its necessity was more plainly exhibited than in another, it was Ireland, and especially in its present state. Was it not notorious that in that country imposition was carried on to a great extent on the humane and charitable, and that mendicancy prevailed so far that there were many persons who made a living by their pursuing that trade in preference to their obtaining honest employment. [Mr. O'Connell: No.] The hon. Member might say "No," but must admit that there were cases of deception of a very alarming description. It was impossible in the condition of things that it should not be so, and it was declared to be the case most pointedly by the Commissioners who had been appointed to inquire into the subject. But was not the mode of relief at present adopted infinitely more expensive and attended with much greater waste than that which would be introduced by the bill 711 which was now before the House being carried? Then it was said that Ireland was too poor to support its paupers; he must confess, however, that it did not seem to him to be possible that a country could be found to be really in such a state if the produce was properly distributed. And what class was it by whose kindness and charity that the poor were now supported? It was the poor themselves; and it was owing to their character and their religious feelings that their present support was to be attributed. There was nothing to compel the wealthy—there was nothing to compel the landholders—there was nothing to compel those who might themselves be the cause of the great increase of pauperism, by their neglect of their own property, or by their proceedings, with a view to political objects, to support the poor. He knew many persons in Ireland who were most charitable, and who were willing to lend their aid in procuring the necessary means of subsistence to the poor of the country, but it was not justice that on those few should be left the whole charge, which they perhaps were little able to bear, but those who had the means should be compelled to provide for the destitute. He had himself seen a case in Ireland where he witnessed more human misery and destitution than he could have imagined. In a town which he visited he found the people living in wretched hovels, which were without windows and without doors, while the wretched inmates were unprovided even with straw to make their miserable beds, and yet they were paying a yearly rental of 30s. or 40s. to their landlord. He had the curiosity to ask what was the probable income received by the proprietor from the estate, and he was assured that it could not be less than 20,000l. Did the individual to whom he referred support the poor? Did he contribute in aid of the funds of any of the excellent charitable institutions of the neighbourhood of his estate—or did he, as the poor man always did, give "the bit and the sup" to the poor peasant who came to see him? In the whole course of his inquiry he could find but one instance in which any portion of the great fund which he received had been appropriated to charitable purposes on the estate. The fact was, that all the regulations, however excellent they might be for the maintenance of houses of industry, were inoperative, because they were not compulsory. He contended that it was the duty of the Legislature to provide some 712 uniform system for the relief of the really destitute, and thus get rid of the difficulties they now had to contend with. He could not, therefore, let the bill go to a third reading without expressing a hope that it would receive the general assent of the Legislature, although he admitted most exaggerated views had been adopted of the benefits to arise from it, as well as of the evils that would follow from it. With respect to the question of vagrancy, he admitted that it was necessary for the 'working of this bill that some sound system of vagrant laws must be introduced into Ireland, and also that assistance must be afforded in some shape or other for the employment of the poor. He thought that even in a pecuniary point of view it would be advisable to effect local improvements in many districts in Ireland.
Mr. M. J. O'Connell
stated, that he having come to the conclusion that some provision should be made for the poor of Ireland, he had voted against many of his Friends with whom he always was unwilling to differ, and for the bill going into Committee, but he did so in the hope that many amendments would be introduced into the bill. He had, however, been disappointed in this respect, for none of the amendments that he had desired had been made in the measure, and he regretted that he could no longer give it his support. He thought that in the present state of Ireland it was desirable that there should be some system of Poor-laws established, but he feared that the present measure would rather have the effect of paralysing than bringing out the resources of the country.
was very unwilling to trouble the House, and should do so but very shortly at that stage of the bill. But he could not bring himself to vote for the third reading, without guarding himself against its being supposed that he approved altogether of the principle of the bill, and was in no doubt and uncertainty as to many of its details. He never felt more doubt and reluctance than he did with respect to the vote he was about to give, because he shared with the Government, for the Government must share in that doubt and participate in his ignorance as to many of the calculations, and the data upon which the measure had been framed. He said this because many of the provisions of the bill were left entirely dependent on the contingent opinion of the 713 Commissioners, while, with respect to others, the House was left in entire ignorance as regarded those who had to pay the rate and who were to be the recipients of it. The bill did not state whether there was to be one workhouse or one hundred; and the Government had not said whether there was to be one hundred or one thousand; and it had not been pretended to be shown what would be the amount of the charge on the landlords, whether they would be able to bear it or not; but the whole matter rested on the unlimited and unrestricted authority of the Commissioners as to what was to be the amount of the tax on the whole of Ireland. The opinion also of the Commissioners was at variance as regarded the amount of relief required. Mr. Nicholls said that 100 workhouses to hold 80,000 persons, would be sufficient—that was, that 80,000 persons alone should be received into the workhouses and receive relief out of the rate; but the Commissioners said there were between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 whom it would be necessary to receive into the workhouses, and therefore there were no data on which the House of Commons could determine whether the minimum of 80,000, or the maximum of 2,000,000 was most likely to approximate to the truth. As far as his own opinion went, 80,000 was far below the amount, if the measure was to have any sensible operation on the miserable population of Ireland. In England relief was administered, according to Nr. Nicholls, to one per cent. of the population, and were they to be told that a greater degree of relief was not required for the destitute poor of Ireland? But in England also the amount of relief given in the workhouses was only as one to eight to that given out of them. How much larger then must the proportion be in Ireland? He only said, on raising this question, that the bill was about to be worked in ignorance, for neither the Government or the Commissioners had the means of knowing it. And then the Commissioners were to have the power of building as many workhouses as they thought fit. It was said there were to be 100, yet they might build a thousand—there was no limit to the amount of expense which the Commissioners might incur, and that without the consent of the rate-payers; nor was there any limit to the provision they might choose to make for the relief of the destitute. But in England if the Com- 714 missioners formed too large a union, or built too large a workhouse, the latter would cover the whole amount of destitution, and the first expense, though heavy, might in the end be economical. This, however, could not be the case in Ireland, because the Commissioners had power and unlimited discretion as to the size of the union, and the building of workhouses within it, and the result might be, that in those large unions maintained by local taxation, if the workhouses were not full of their own poor, they would be resorted to by persons from every quarter of Ireland, who had no claim upon this particular locality. His right hon. Friend (Mr. P. Thompson) had said it was impossible to introduce vagrancy clauses into this bill; but admitted that they ought to be adopted, although it was considered improper to introduce them here. But he (Lord Stanley) conceived that it would be impossible, consistently with justice, to introduce a vagrancy law, because they could not punish vagrancy, and at the same time refuse a legislative claim to relief. It could not be done without giving the poor of each particular district a particular settlement; and without a law of settlement, they would find it extremely difficult to force any thing like a local assessment, more particularly when the power was taken away from the people of restraining their own expenditure, leaving all matters to be regulated by the Commissioners with regard to the levying of the burden of the poor-rate. He had urged these objections before, and he only reiterated them now because he was ignorant, as the Government was ignorant, and the Legislature was ignorant, of what the moral effect of this measure on the population of Ireland would be. He felt disposed, therefore, the more he considered the subject, to throw the whole responsibility of this measure on the confidential advisers of the Crown. He felt that the time had arrived when the adoption of the proposition for affording legislative relief to the destitute in Ireland was absolutely necessary. That necessity was confessed by every man who had seen, or who, not having seen, had yet considered the amount of distress and poverty which prevailed in Ireland, and all felt that relief, for absolute destitution, was necessary, in looking to the present state and condition of that country. But would any one say other than that the 715 Government, and the Government alone, ought to be held responsible for the success or failure of this measure. It might be that if these Gentlemen, on either side of the House, who had opposed the bill were to unite, they might overthrow the measure; but could they introduce another with any chance of prosecuting it with success? Entertaining great doubts as to many parts of this bill, which went to appoint Commissioners to afford a remedy for destitution in Ireland—considering it a great and dangerous experiment as regarded the landlords of Ireland, of whom he was one, yet he could not take upon himself the responsibility of saying that the bill should not go up to the other branch of the Legislature, where he had no doubt of its receiving that due consideration which it required, and where there were so many noble individuals connected with Ireland, who would be enabled to afford to that House the result of their matured experience on this subject. He would not, therefore, interfere to stop the progress of a measure which, although as a measure of relief, it might prove inadequate, was imperatively called for by hon. Members on all sides of that House; still, entertaining all the doubts he had expressed, he felt himself compelled, however reluctantly and hesitatingly, to give his support to the third reading of the bill.
§ The House divided on the original question:—Ayes 234; Noes 59: Majority 175.
|List of the AYES.|
|A'Court, Captain||Blunt, Sir C.|
|Adam, Admiral||Bolling, W.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Brabazon, Lord|
|Alsager, Captain||Briscoe, J. I.|
|Alston, R.||Broadley, H.|
|Andover, Viscount||Brocklehurst, J.|
|Anson, Sir G.||Brodie, W. B.|
|Baines, E.||Brotherton, J.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Brownrigg, S.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Bruges, W. H. L.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Bryan, G.|
|Barron, H. W.||Burroughes, H. N.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Busfield, W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Callaghan, D.|
|Benett, J.||Campbell, Sir J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H.||Campbell, W. F.|
|Bernal, R.||Cavendish, hon. C.|
|Bewes, T.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Blackburne, I.||Chalmers, P.|
|Blackett, C.||Chandos, Marquess of|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Chetwynd, Major|
|Blake, W. J.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Blakemore, R.||Clay, W.|
|Blennerhassett, A.||Clive, E. B.|
|Blewitt, R. J.||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Codrington, Admiral||Jermyn, Earl of|
|Collier, J.||Johnstone, H.|
|Collins, W.||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Courtenay, P.||Knatchbull, rt. hon. Sir E.|
|Craig, W. G.|
|Crompton, S.||Knight, H. G.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Labouchere, rt. hn. H.|
|Darby, G.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Davies, Colonel||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|D'Israeli, B.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Divett, E.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Duckworth, S.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|Duff, J.||Loch, J.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Long, W.|
|Duncan, Viscount||Lowther, J. H.|
|Dundas, Captain D.||Lygon, hon. General|
|Dundas, F.||Lynch, A. H.|
|Dundas, hon. J. C.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Dundas, hon. T.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|East, J. B.||Macleod, R.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Mactaggart, J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Master, T. W. C.|
|Ellice, Captain A.||Maule, hon. F.|
|Estcourt, T.||Maule, W. H.|
|Feilden, W.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Fellowes, E.||Miles, W.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Fitzalan, Lord||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Morris, D.|
|Fox, G. L.||Muskett, G. A.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Nicholl, J.|
|Gordon, R.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Gordon, hon. Captain||O'Callaghan, hon. C.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Ord, W.|
|Graham, right hon. Sir J.||Paget, F.|
|Pakington, J. S.|
|Grattan, J.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Grey, Sir C. E.||Palmerston, Viscount|
|Halford, H.||Parker, J.|
|Hall, B.||Patten, J. W.|
|Halse, J.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hawes, B.||Pendarves, E. W. W.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Philipps, Sir R.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Phillips, M.|
|Heneage, E.||Philips, G. R.|
|Henniker, Lord||Pinney, W.|
|Hepburn, Sir T. B.||Ponsonby, C. F. A. C.|
|Hill, Lord, A. M. C.||Ponsonby, hon. J.|
|Hobhouse, right hon. Sir J.||Powerscourt, Viscount|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Redington, T. N.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Hodgson, R.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hollond, R.||Rice, right hon. T. S.|
|Holmes, W.||Rich, H.|
|Horsman, E.||Richards, R.|
|Houstoun, G.||Rickford, W.|
|Howard, F. J.||Roche, W.|
|Howard, P. H.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Howard, R.||Rolleston, L.|
|Howick, Viscount||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Hume, J.||Round, C. G.|
|Hurt, F.||Rundle, J.|
|Ingham, R.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Salwey, Colonel|
|James, W.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Jenkins, R.||Scholefield, J.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Thornley, T.|
|Seymour, Lord||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Sharpe, General||Turner, E.|
|Sheppard, T.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Sibthorp, Colonel||Vigors, N. A.|
|Sinclair, Sir G.||Villiers, C. P.|
|Slaney, R. A.||Vivian, Major C.|
|Smith, J. A.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Smith, R. V.||Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H.|
|Somerset, Lord G.||Wakley, T.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||Walker, C. A.|
|Speirs, A.||Ward, H. G.|
|Spencer, hon. F.||Welby, G. E.|
|Stanley, Lord||White, S.|
|Stanley, W. O.||Williams, W.|
|Staunton, Sir G. T.||Wilshere, W.|
|Steuart R.||Winnington, T. E.|
|Stewart, J.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Stuart, H.||Wood, C.|
|Stuart, V.||Wood, G. W.|
|Strickland, Sir G.||Worsley, Lord|
|Strutt, E.||Wyndham, W.|
|Style, Sir C.||Wyse, T.|
|Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.||Yates, J. A.|
|Talfourd, Sergeant||Young, Sir W.|
|Tancred, H. W.||TELLERS.|
|Teignmouth, Lord||Clements, Viscount|
|Thomson, rt. hon. C.P.||Stanley, E. J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acheson, Viscount||Hughes, W. B.|
|Adare, Viscount||Hutton, R.|
|Archbold, R.||Jones, T.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Kemble, H.|
|Brabazon, Sir W.||Kirk, P.|
|Browne, R. D.||Lockhart, A. M.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Lowther, Colonel|
|Chapman, Sir M.L.C.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Cole, hon. A.||Macnamara, Major|
|Cole, Viscount||Meynell, Captain|
|Conolly, E.||Milton, Viscount|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Corry, hon. H.||O'Brien, C.|
|De Horsey, S. H.||O'Connell, D.|
|Duffield, T.||O'Connell, M.|
|Dunbar, G.||O'Neil, hon. J. B. R.|
|Duncombe hon. A.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Evans, G.||Perceval, hon. G. J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R.||Pryme, G.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Roche, E. B.|
|Finch, F.||Roche, D.|
|Fitzgibbon, hon. Col.||Scarlett, hon. R.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Tennent, J. E.|
|French, F.||Trench, Sir F.|
|Gore, O. J. R.||Verner, Colonel|
|Granby, Marquess of||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Grattan, H.||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Grimston, hon. E. H.||White, L.|
|Hayes, Sir E.|
|Heron, Sir R.||TELLERS.|
|Hillsborough, Earl of||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Hodgson, F.||O'Connell, M. J.|
§ On the question that the bill do pass,
Mr. O' Connell
wished to make two remarks. One of them was in reference to something which had fallen from the 718 right hon. Member for Manchester, who had stated that in the present state of pauperism in Ireland, there were many cases of imposition. This was an assertion in the very teeth of facts, for the whole evidence on the subject proved that there was a universal anxiety in the minds of the Irish people to labour whenever they got work to do. This, therefore, was a calumny on the Irish people which ought not to have been uttered by the right hon. Gentleman. Again the noble Member for Bath had talked of the agitation which had been got up against the measure. The noble Lord might be assured that he (Mr. O'Connell) would have found it much easier to get up an agitation in favour of the bill, but he had throughout given the measure his honest opposition, because he thought it calculated to injure Ireland, and he would give fair notice that he would never cease, by all honest agitation, to endeavour to get rid of the evils of the measure. His full belief was, that as soon as the Protestant farmers in Ireland began to find themselves as much aggrieved as the Catholic farmers by the bill, a community of suffering would produce a community of desire for the restoration of a separate Parliament to Ireland.
§ Viscount Castlereagh
said, that, for his part, in giving his vote against the third reading of this bill, he had been in no small degree influenced by the feeling that nothing was more calculated to weaken the attachment of the Protestants of the north of Ireland to the English connection than a measure passed by a majority of English Members, without consideration of its details, or the consequences likely to arise from it. He said this, not so much in reference to his own feelings on the subject, but in reference to the population of Ireland, who were easily excited by any grievance which might be urged on their attention by those who took the trouble to do it, and which was of a nature to come home to their hearts. He had witnessed the third reading of the bill with deep sorrow, but he derived no slight consolation from his confident expectation that its provisions would be modified in that place where wicked measures were sure always to find a salutary check.
§ Lord John Russell
could not allow the Bill to pass its last stage without loudly protesting against the language which had been used by the noble Lord, when he asserted that the Bill had passed its third 719 reading by a majority of English Members, who had not considered its details or its consequences. He thought that those Irish Members who opposed the Bill, or who gave way to language such as that of the noble Lord, did an injustice not only to themselves but to the whole of the Representatives for Ireland. This very measure was produced last year in all its details, and having half gone through a Committee of the House in the course of the past Session, every part of it was necessarily well known in Ireland at the time. Its second reading was supported by a large majority of Irish Members, and under these circumstances it was an exceedingly unfair and unjust representation of the legislation of that House to say that the Bill had been carried solely in consequence of the support of an English majority, who had not considered its details or its consequences. He could safely say that, with the exception of the English Poor-law Bill, which was so long in Committee, no measure had been more fully considered. He might remark that, if he had taken no part in this debate, it was only because he considered almost every argument on the subject exhausted, that the question had been put in every light in which it possibly could be put by hon. Gentlemen who had paid the closest attention to the subject. With the exception of the English measure, he could safely say that he hardly knew any Bill which had been more anxiously and carefully considered, or which could be more honestly described as having received the deliberate and dispassionate sanction of the House.
§ Bill passed.