HC Deb 19 February 1838 vol 40 cc1261-84

The House went into a Committee on the Poor Relief (Ireland) Bill.

Mr. O'Connell

, on the 31st clause being proposed, asked whether it was intended that all the salaries it ordered, should be paid out of the poor-rates. He conceived, that, as this bill was not so much demanded by the people of Ireland as by the people of England, and as not more than three petitions had been presented from Ireland in its favour, these salaries should first be chargeable on, and payable out of, the consolidated fund. Indeed he thought that the working of this bill, as it was a great experiment for the general good, should be defrayed at the general expense. At a future stage he would take the sense of the House on his proposition, but at present he would content himself with moving the omission of all the words in the clause after the words "appointed under this act." That would raise the question, which he wished the Committee to decide.

Lord J. Russell

wished these salaries to be economically managed, and was not certain what the most economical mode of managing them might be; but of this he was sure, that they would never be economically managed if they were paid out of the consolidated fund. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin that this bill had been called for by the people of England and not by the people of Ireland, and, therefore, he could see no reason why that which was a local charge in England should not also be a local charge in Ireland.

Mr. Litton

observed, that five-sixths of the Members for Ireland had voted in favour of the bill and of its principle. He thought that that circumstance was a sufficient indication of what the feelings of the people of Ireland were.

Mr. Shaw

was inclined to think, that this great experiment ought to be set a going at the public expense. Afterwards the charge of these salaries should be a local charge.

Mr. Barron

was a great stickler for justice for Ireland, but, on this occasion, he must be a stickler for justice for England too. He thought that the bill, being for the local benefit of Ireland, should be carried into effect at the expense of the locality which it was to benefit; and, as an Irishman, he hoped that no division would be taken on such a question.

Mr. W. Roche

was anxious to relieve Ireland from any pressure which ought not to attach to it; but the payment of these salaries was so intrinsic a part of this bill, that he thought the expense of them ought to fall on the country, which was to be affected by its operation.

The O'Connor Don

thought it right to state, that a petition against this bill had been agreed to by the county which he had the honour to represent, under the conviction that poor laws, and a system of workhouses, were not at all adapted for the habits of the people of Ireland.

Mr. O'Connell

could see no-reason why these salaries should not be chargeable on the consolidated fund. They had already agreed, that a sum of money should be advanced out of the consolidated fund, for the purpose of building the workhouses in which these salaries were to be earned by the officers of the different unions; and they might take his word for it, that they would no more get that money back from the people of Ireland than they would get back the million which they had voted from the same fund for the relief of the Irish clergy.

Sir E. Sugden

said, that it was an excess of modesty in the hon. and learned Member for Dublin to ask the representatives of England to grant the amount of these salaries out of the consolidated fund, at the very time that he told them plainly, that his constituents, the people of Ireland, would never pay back to that fund the sum granted to them for the building of workhouses, nor the million granted for the relief of the Irish clergy.

Clause agreed to.

On Clause 35, giving power to "the Commissioners from time to time, as they may see fit, to build, or cause to be built, a workhouse, or workhouses, for any union not having a workhouse," &c.

Mr. Shaw

thought, the present was the most convenient time to move the amendment of which he had given notice. He proposed to add, after line 42, the words, "workhouses and asylums for the lame, impotent, old, and blind," with a view to give the clause the effect of limiting the relief to be provided to the necessary relief of the lame, impotent, old, blind, and such others as are destitute and not able to work. He took that opportunity of raising a question of very great importance, as the forms of the House and his own indisposition prevented him from bringing it forward in a more regular manner. It was a question of very great importance, as on it, in a great degree, depended the law of settlement, the right to relief in public workhouses, and, still more, the accompanying and auxiliary of emigration and the establish- ment of public works for the employment of the able-bodied: all of which the Bill before the House, in its present state, served as a screen against the necessity of introducing. The shortest way in which he could put his point was, by stating that the Bill, as it now stood, proposed to give relief to all destitute persons, even though they may happen to be able bodied; while his proposition was, that relief should be given to the destitute, but should not be extended to such as were able-bodied. He would endeavour to meet, as well as he could, the strongest argument, as it appeared to him, which could be brought forward in opposition to his proposition. That argument would resolve itself into this question. "How can you refuse relies to a man who is destitute, although able-bodied, if he says, I am able and willing to work if I can find it, but I cannot get any work to do? In answer to that argument he would say, I do not refuse to give such a man relief. I will do it, however, in another and different way from that provided by the Bill. I will do it by the auxiliary means either of emigration or public works. While I refuse to give relief under this Bill, I at the same time state what I propose I am willing to do for them. I refuse to delude them by holding out to them the expectation of means of relief in a way which this Bill is altogether inadequate to accomplish." He was of opinion, that, considering the great scientific knowledge and acquirement, and the unwearied industry and diligence of the Gentlemen who composed the Poor-law commission, sufficient attention had not been paid to their suggestions and recommendations. They had made a calculation that there were about two millions of destitute poor in Ireland, and yet the relief provided by the present Bill proceeded upon a supposition that there were only 80,000 in need of relief. Another calculation was, the able-bodied labourer was, by the produce of his labour, able to raise a sum of 30l. a-year. Now if that calculation were correct, if they were to divide the whole of the produce of the soil among them, they would hardly give them more than a competent maintenance. That showed, that there was no analogy between the workhouse systems of the two countries. The object of the workhouse system in England was, to adjust the demand to the supply. In Ireland that was not the object of the workhouse system, and the only way by which that object could be effected in Ireland was, by endeavouring to raise the Irish labourer to the same scale with the English labourer. In order to attain that desirable object, they should have in Ireland a better system of land-letting, a consolidation of small farms, and a better and more improved system of husbandry. What he had stated was, he trusted, sufficient to show the inapplicability of the workhouse system in Ireland to the class of able-bodied men. These considerations would lead to the other points he had already alluded to, namely, extensive emigration and public works on an extensive scale. The objections which he made to this Bill as a means of relief for the able-bodied poor, did not apply to it as a provision for the blind, the lame, the aged, and the impotent; of these latter the number was comparatively small, and pretty nearly equal in most parts of the country and at most periods. How were they to prevent imposition in many of those cases? There were two ways of doing so; namely, by in-door relief and by the discretionary power to be vested in the guardians. The parties who should be considered fit objects of relief would be admitted into the workhouse, or rather he should call it the asylum, for the terms of his amendment did not imply that much work could be done by the lame, blind, aged, and impotent; but when in that asylum or workhouse the parties should be subject to general regulations. His great object was, that the Bill should not hold out to large numbers of the poor of Ireland the hope of relief which it was not adequate to afford. He did not go the length of saying, that in every possible case the discretion of the guardians should be limited; but that in cases of extreme destitution, bordering on the other cases to which, in his opinion, the Bill ought to apply, there should be a power to administer relief, but in every case in-door relief. If the general rule which his amendment would lay down were objected to, he would beg to ask those who advocated the Bill as it stood, and who would leave to the guardians the discretionary power of relief in all cases,—he would, he repeated, ask them what, answer would they give to the able-bodied man who applied for relief and described himself as in a state of destitution, though able and willing to work. Would they tell him that the workhouses were calculated to hold not more than 80,000 persons, and that they were then all full? Would the destitute though able-bodied poor be satisfied with that answer? Certainly not. If the principle of relieving the able-bodied but destitute labouring man were once adopted, the doors of workhouses should be opened not to the thousands but to hundreds of thousands; but as relief was not contemplated to that extent, all beyond the number which the workhouses would hold must necessarily be turned away. Would not that be exciting discontent, seeing that the hopes entertained of relief from the Bill could never be realised? If the Bill were limited as he proposed, it would be very easy to dispose of the question of the law of settlement. A distinction should be made in the workhouse between the destitute able-bodied (who might in extreme cases be admitted) and the destitute impotent; and a great distinction should also be made between both and those—such as retired soldiers and sailors—who had claims on the public bounty. In commencing such a system as this he would rather do too little than too much; for if they did too little at first, it would be easy to advance, but if they found they had done too much it would be difficult to retrace their steps. They had better, therefore, take the more moderate course in the outset, and; above all things, not to give rise to hopes of general relief which they could never realise. He had felt it his duty to state his views on this subject briefly, and so important did he think the question that he would take the sense of the Committee upon it.

Viscount Morpeth

said, the question was, whether the relief should be administered at the discretion of the guardians, or be limited, by the bill, to the lame, the impotent, and the blind, &c. Now the practice, under the bill, would not, he supposed, differ much from that which he (Mr. Shaw) had said, should be the strict rule, but then the principle was important which made it the strict rule in almost every case, at least to such an extent as to fetter the discretion of the guardians. So important did he admit this principle to be, that he thought it but fair to have the sense of the Committee expressed upon it. The principle of the right hon. and learned Gentleman would lead to much greater mischiefs than those which they were intended to prevent. Then there would be great difference as to who might be classed under the heads of "impotent," for many who were only destitute would claim admission as "aged, impotent," &c. Now, it might often happen, that a man of seventy might be as hale and strong as many a worn-out labourer of forty or fifty. As to the sick, there would be less difficulty, for Ireland abounded in places for the reception of sick in all diseases; but, admitting this, suppose a man and woman, in a state of great destitution, accompanied by several children still more destitute, were to apply to the guardians, and say "we are able to work, but we cannot get any employment, we and our children are perishing from want of food and shelter, and we beg you to allow us to crawl in here and die." Now, said the noble Lord, you may refuse in that case, but don't make it your law that you shall do so." He had seen an account of a public meeting in the county of Clare on the subject of the Poor-laws, at which one of the speakers alluded to the degradation of sending persons into places of confinement—as the workhouses were termed—because of their destitution and solicitation for relief. The gentleman who took that view of the subject, was replied to by a Roman Catholic priest, who in the course of his remarks, mentioned the case of a poor woman, who, with three young children in a state of destitution, sought shelter in a waste house. In the course of the night, the youngest of the children, an infant, fell from off its mother's arms and perished of cold. The poor mother shared her fate, for she too perished in the course of the night, and the two surviving orphans had to be provided for by his parishioners. Now, was not the fate of those helpless beings worse than their being imprisoned in a workhouse, as it was called? Was not begging in the streets a greater degradation than seeking an asylum within the walls of a workhouse? It would, he repeated, be productive of the worst effects to fetter the discretion of the guardians who administered the district. The limitation of relief to those who went into the workhouse was sufficiently harsh and stringent, though, at the same time, he would admit that it was a necessary restriction, but he would not go beyond that, by putting altogether out of the power of the guardians to admit particular cases of destitution amongst able-bodied paupers He did hope, that the Committee would, in all cases, confine the relief to the workhouse, but that they would sanction the principle, that under the cover of the workhouse they would leave to the guardians the power to give relief to those who were greatly destitute.

Colonel Conolly

fully concurred in the view taken of this question by his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Shaw) which he thought was much more consistent with the wants and resources of the country than the sweeping measure proposed by the bill. The amendment began at the moderate end, in trying this system in a country where it was hitherto unknown, and where they had, of course, no data to decide upon its working. The project of his right hon. and learned Friend could be tried at once, and would relieve the country from the alarm into which it had been thrown by the threatened application of so extensive a system as the bill proposed. The Committee ought to consider whether, in the extensive application of that principle, they did not create a greater degree of pauperism than they cured. He did not offer these remarks in any spirit of hostility to the Queen's Government. He made them from a sincere desire to divest the measure of that alarm which in its present state it was calculated to excite in the country; for in the present state of Ireland, he thought that nothing could be more injurious than to admit even by implication the right of able-bodied poor to demand support. But the bill ought to be accompanied by the provisions suggested by his right hon. Friend, respecting public works and emigration. A small fund would facilitate emigration, and discharge Ireland of its superfluous population. He would urge the subject of public works upon the attention of Government, because they would much increase the prosperity of the country. In conclusion, he entreated her Majesty's Ministers not to resist the proposition of his right hon. Friend.

Viscount Clements

admitted that his gallant Friend, who had just spoken, must be considered well acquainted with the state of Ireland, but he could not agree with him in the conclusions to which he had come. Indeed, looking at the great improvement which his hon. and gallant Friend had made in his estate by good management, he had expected that he would be one of the first to oppose the proposition of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It was true, that there was a large amount of poverty in Ireland, but there were also immense resources, which, if well employed, would get rid of it. He, therefore, looked upon the calculations which had been made to show the great extent to which pauperism existed as mere waste paper. If his hon. and gallant Friend who had referred to the reports of the Commissioners had himself examined them with due diligence, he would have found that a large proportion of the poverty of Ireland was attributable to the neglect of the poor, and might have been avoided had there been a proper management of the labour on the large estates. As to the principle of emigration, he objected to driving men to emigrate by refusing to relieve them in their destitution, or by affording them such a miserable subsistence as to make them prefer emigration to availing themselves of it. Such a system of coercion as that converted emigration into a species of transportation. In making these remarks, he did not wish to be supposed unfavourable to emigration; he thought it was a question worthy of attention in a distinct form, with a view to ascertain what means could be adopted to encourage people to emigrate extensively. After the unions had been formed, the Government should propose some means by which the public works might be made more available; but he felt that, instead of waiting for any such measures, they were bound to proceed, unless the hon. Gentlemen opposite were prepared to state what system they had to recommend as a substitute for the bill now before them.

Mr. Barron

said, if he understood the argument of the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Shaw) correctly, it was this, that a large number of able-bodied paupers would be supported under this bill. He (Mr. Barron) did not fear anything of the sort. The restrictions were so stringent, that they did not offer any inducement for able-bodied paupers to go into the workhouse. The first was confinement, and, looking to the character and habits of the Irish people, the very nature of relief so to be administered was a guarantee against any large number of persons applying for relief, subject to that restriction, unless under circumstances of extreme destitution. And was there any man who would wish, in cases of extreme destitution, that the people of Ireland should not be relieved under this bill? Would any man be bold enough to assert, in the face of a British House of Commons, and in the face of the Representatives of the Irish people, that the people were to starve—that they were not to live under equal laws? He would place the power of affording relief in the hands of the boards of guardians, because it was natural to suppose that those boards would be composed of the principal ratepayers in the several districts; and was it to be supposed that those persons who were the principal contributors to the rate, would be anxious to place a large number of able-bodied labourers in the House, merely for the purpose of having the pleasure of paying for their maintenance in it? He feared that the string would rather be drawn too tight than relaxed, and that the boards of guardians would say, on application for relief, that they could not afford the expense of allowing men to come into the workhouses, that they would tell them to look for work; that was what he dreaded, and not that they would place too many persons in them.

Mr. Wrightson

begged to offer a few observations to the House, as, from the public situation he had filled, they might consider themselves entitled to an opinion from him on this subject. There were two principles now before the House; one was what might be called the narrow view of the subject, that of confining its operation to sick and impotent; the other and more comprehensive, that of including all destitute persons. The noble Lord had rejected all classification, and had placed it on the ground of destitution only. This he considered an impolitic measure. The first objection to the limited scheme was the difficulty of distinguishing between the favoured classes and the other portions of the community. But the statute of Elizabeth, and all the other English statutes, and the Scotch statutes also, proceeded upon the same principle of classification; and it was quite clear that if the authorities under the Bill went honestly to work, there could be little difficulty experienced in regard to this part of the measure. The great question, after all, was, whether it were right that a distinction should be taken, and the opinion he held upon the point, namely, that the relief to be afforded should be restricted, was by no means new. He begged to refer them to the report of the Committee of 1817—the ablest Committee, in his opinion, that had ever directed its attention to this subject. That Committee, of which Mr. Sturges Bourne was the Chairman, and Mr. Huskisson, with many other most intelligent men, were members, had told them what remedies they ought to apply to the old Poor-law. In that report reference was made to the necessity of restricting relief to the old, the blind, the lame, and the sick. Now, in considering this subject, he could not exclude from his mind the vast expense, that was about being incurred in what, after all, was only stated by its advocates to be an experiment. It was an experiment that he was afraid experience would prove to them to be a very hazardous one. They had to consider that about 100,000 persons would require to be relieved; the relief could not be afforded at less than 5l. for each person; that was half a million of money; and with this they were to recollect that the Commissioners had, through masters in Chancery, and those best qualified to give information, ascertained that the whole of the rental of Ireland did not exceed 6,000,000l.; so that, in their experiment, they would thus impose a property tax of ten per cent. Surely men who had capital in a country would take it somewhere else rather than leave it in a country subjected to such a tax. But let the Committee look at the more important question of wages. It was undeniable that they could not raise so large a sum as would be necessary to carry the provisions of the Bill into full effect, without trenching seriously on the sum destined to be applied in shape of wages for labour. That such was the fact was evident from the experience which they had of a similar measure in England. In the southern provinces, when the Poor-law authorities had been allowed to put their hands in the pockets of the proprietors and farmers without restraint, the effect had been to reduce the rate of wages in a ruinous degree, and thereby increase the amount of destitution. In the northern parts of the country a different course had been pursued, and the Poor-law authorities had refused relief except to certain classes, and the consequence was, that while in the south wages were reduced to a few shillings weekly, they had in the north been kept up from 12s. to 14s. He was convinced, that by the course adopted in the northern provinces, wages could be maintained at their proper amount, and by that course alone, and it was therefore highly important for the Committee to consider whether it were possible to take so large a sum as was necessary to carry this Bill into operation, from the pockets of the employers, without inflicting; a serious injury upon the labouring classes in Ireland, and without creating a greater amount of destitution than at present existed, One of the greatest objections to the measure before the Committee was, in his opinion, that it amounted to a diversion, and not to a creation of funds applicable to labour. A provision was made for 100,000 paupers, but by the Bill 120,000 who were dependent on labour were placed in a worse condition than they were before. They were in fact obliged to rob the poor before they amended their condition. It appeared to him, in fact, that the whole proceedings in regard to the proposed measure were founded on a wrong opinion of the effects of legislation in ameliorating the condition of the poor. In Mr. Nicholl's report it was stated as a principle that the property of a district should find means for the relief of the poverty or destitution of that district. Now, he did not see how that principle could be followed out. Let them, for instance, apply that principle to the estate of Mr. Martin in Connemara, or to the property of Sir R. O'Donnell in the isles of Arran, and they would test its fallacy, for the destitution would totally absorb the property of these districts. Let them test the principle even by the whole country. The population of Ireland was eight millions—the rental was six millions. Now if this principle was to be followed out, the whole rental would not give more than a very insignificant trifle to each individual. In disputing the applicability of the principle laid down in Mr. Nicholl's report he meant no disrespect to that Gentleman. He had ample opportunities of witnessing his abilities, and entertained for him the highest respect. The great and radical error of a Poor-law was the attempt to stretch it too far. He was sorry to have trespassed on the time of the House so long, and he should conclude his observations by quoting the opinion of Lord Pitmilly in reference to the Poor-laws of Scotland, which fully expressed the views he entertained in regard to the Poor-laws generally. The hon. Member read an extract from a document, in his hand, in which Lord Pitmilly expressed an opinion that poor-rates should be distributed to those only who were destitute and unable to work, and contended that such a limitation of the poor-rates ought to be strictly enforced. By attempting to do too much they would be sure to fail; when they would succeed if they stopped short. He highly approved of the amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and would give it his hearty support.

Mr. Lucas

said, he had listened with pleasure to the hon. Member who had last addressed the House, and whose opinions, from his experience with respect to this subject, were entitled to attention. But the arguments of the hon. Member, whatever force they possessed, applied with equal force to the question of whether they should have a poor-law at all. That question the House had answered in the affirmative, and as the principles on which that decision was founded had been so often and so fully discussed it was not now his intention to refer to those arguments of the hon. Member opposite which applied to the general question. He concurred with the hon. Gentleman in thinking that the Government would have acted more wisely if it had adhered to the precedent which it had established in England. The hon. gentleman had said, that this would be a rash experiment, for the bill would entail upon Ireland additional expense. Now, there was one argument which weighed with him beyond all others, and that was, that, in their legislation upon this subject, they would hold out the hand of charity to the destitute. That was one principle in the bill which claimed his support; the second was, that they held out the hand of relief without legislating upon the discouraging principle to those who claimed relief and really required it. If there were any principles contained in the bill that were valuable, they were these two principles, and therefore it was, that he concurred in the necessity of supporting the progress of the bill. In the first place, they held out the hand of relief to the destitute—by this bill the destitute who were on the point of starving, would be relieved. What would be the consequence if they made a distinction? They would relieve the crippled, the sick, and the old, and they refused it to those who had no means whereby they could live. The broad and the just principle was to give relief to those who really required it. When, then, they taxed themselves, and that to no mean amount, let them do so on the broad and the noble principle that, under no circumstances of destitution, should that destitution be permitted to end in death. The discouragement principle was even inapplicable according to the case made out by his right hon. Friend. It had been said by his right hon. Friend, in attempting to draw a distinction between the classes of persons that ought to be relieved, first, that he would give no relief to the able-bodied, and yet, in the latter part of his argument, he admitted, that relief ought to be given to them in cases of destitution. His right hon. Friend's humanity would not allow him to refuse relief to the able-bodied in all cases, and, accordingly, in the progress of his speech, he was reduced to the necessity of admitting that it must be given; for, if they refused relief to the destitute, they must allow them to beg. He could not concur in the amendment of his right hon. Friend who had said, that a great deal might be done by emigration; but that, it was to be remembered, was only subsidiary to the great question. His right hon. Friend had said, that the amount of labour to be done was small, and that the number of labourers was great. The reason of this was the defective state of agriculture in Ireland, and not the want of land to employ that labour upon. He intended to oppose the amendment of his right hon. Friend.

Mr. O'Connell

could not concur in the views of the right hon. Gentleman who had proposed the amendment, simply because he thought that right hon. Gentleman had gone farther than he ought. He should, however, support the amendment proposed, because it imposed some limitation upon what was otherwise an undefined system of poor-laws. He supported the amendment because, if carried, it would render the Poor-law less fatal to Ireland. The noble Lord, the Member for Leitrim, had endeavoured to answer the arguments, but he had not touched upon the calculations of the right hon. Gentleman; while upon this subject, the noble Lord, the Secretary for Ireland, had made a very eloquent speech—a speech in which there was a great deal of oratory, and no political economy at all. That noble Lord had read an account of a case of very great affliction; he had detailed to them a dreadful scene of destitution; he portrayed to them death caused by destitution, but of what parties was this a picture? A widow and three orphans. And yet the only question here was, whether the able-bodied poor were to be relieved. The noble Lord had told them a very pathetic tale of a widow and her orphans, but he had not touched upon the argument. The details, too, of the hon. Member for Northallerton (Mr. Wrightson) had not been touched upon. These details showed the frightful extent of the burthen that was about to be laid upon Ireland. These had not yet been met. The noble Lord had told them truly, that it was frequently very difficult to draw the distinction between poverty and destitution. How were they to relieve the poverty that existed? Was their mode of relieving poverty to reduce poverty to destitution? The noble Lord had asserted, and it had been re-echoed from more than one part of the House, that the produce of Ireland in agricultural labour was very low. Now, taking the dicta laid down in the Commissioners' Reports, and they must be admitted as authority, it appeared that there were 14,000,000 of arable acres in Ireland, and 32,000,000 in England. The produce in England was 150,000,000 quarters, and of the 14,000,000 of acres in Ireland, the produce was only 34,000,000 quarters; that was, two and a-half quarters per acre was the produce of the one, and four and a-half the produce of the other. But then they were told, that a Poor-law would stimulate produce. How? by persons having some interest in diminishing the number of paupers. But had not persons at this moment an interest—had not every occupier of land an interest—in making the produce as large as possible? Had they not already the stimulant of individual interest? Why, then, was not Ireland more productive? Because there was not capital there to be applied to agriculture. If they had capital in the same quantity as in England, not only would the produce of Ireland be as great, proportionably, as that of England, but it would be confessedly more. Now, what was the remedy they applied to Ireland? They took away part of its capital; to improve the country they deprived it of that of which it had so little, and which it most wanted. Half a million was the calculation of the hon. Member for Northallerton. He believed it would be a million at least. They were aware of the evil which existed, that every shilling paid in poor-rates was taken from capital, and the power was thereby diminished of applying so much money to wages. He had trespassed upon the House so often on this subject, that he did not wish to weary their patience further. Those who were favourable to it admitted that it was an experiment. Then how was the experiment to be made? How ought it to be made? Was it all at once? Should not an experiment be gradual? They ought to recollect that, having once made it, they could not diminish it; but they might easily increase it. Let them, then, take the experiment as proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, and if it failed, less mischief would occur; while, by taking the larger, and its failing, it would create the greater confusion and disaffection. He spoke of the principle of the Poor-law, that was, of having a provision for the poor; but the poverty that existed could not be mitigated by a tax. The evils of Ireland lay infinitely deeper.. There was not a sufficient number of resident landlords. The instance of the hon. and gallant Member for Donegal showed what benefit could be conferred upon the country by resident landlords. Nine-tenths of the fee-simple of Ireland belonged to absentees, and three-fourths of the income of Ireland were transmitted to them. Let them make the experiment on the scale proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, or let them mitigate the scale proposed for a poor-law for Ireland. By adopting that now submitted to them, they would be acting on the legal principle laid down in the 43rd Elizabeth, and which had been broken in upon by reason of the particular clause; that was, compelling parishes to find work for the able-bodied. Any concession made in the argument by the right hon. Gentleman could not impugn the principle proposed by him, and which was already known to all. If they began the experiment in the way that was proposed, they would begin it in a manner which would prove the least mischievous. The hon. Member for Monaghan had talked of affording relief to all. Now, he asked, would it not be mere mockery to talk of affording relief to all if they did not give relief to all; and if they did do that, would any man in that House be hardy enough to deny that it would not be a tax upon property, but a confis- cation of property? The Bill proposed to do no such thing; it was only to give relief to a select few. The Bill held out a hope of relief to all; it would cause disappointment to many, it would increase irritation, and not soothe the feelings of any. He wished the House to make the experiment on the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Poulett Scrope

wished to say a few words in answer to the arguments of the hon. Member for Northallerton. The hon. Member asserted, that any fund raised for the support of the poor was a tax on the property of the country—in fact, on productive industry. The same argument might be applied to any tax whatever. In his opinion, a poor-law was a measure of police, and the absence of a poor-law froze up the various sources of industry in Ireland. If the security for life and property which such a measure would give existed in Ireland, capital and enterprise would soon find their way into that country. At present, English capitalists were terrified from speculating there, lest their farms should be inundated by the destitute able-bodied, a contingency which was always to be found in a country where that class had no legal means of relief. He maintained that the relief of the able-bodied labourer was by far the most important part of this Bill. If in any district in Ireland where mendicancy now prevailed, a provision for the relief of the destitute was introduced, English capital would soon find its way there, and not only English but Irish; as it was well known that at present upwards of a million annually of Irish capital was invested in the English funds, in consequence of the risk of investing it in trade or agriculture in Ireland. If they refused relief to the able-bodied labourer, he must starve; and in twenty-four hours he would be sick as well as destitute, and relief would then be imperative. He would, however, admit that auxiliaries, such as emigration and public works, would be absolutely necessary to the efficient working of this Bill.

Sir Edward Sugden

agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, that the principal want of Ireland was capital. She wanted repose and capital, but repose must be the first procured, and he supported this Bill because he thought it was likely to produce the repose which would inevitably lead to the introduction of capital. The hon. Member for Northallerton struck at the root of all provision. He staled that if they took from the productive classes they would reduce the wages of the country. Such an argument would apply to all poor-laws. In his opinion, if the poor were left unemployed, their energies would be directed to a bad purpose, and he thought that funds could not be better employed than in relieving their destitution, and thus appropriating to a useful purpose that machinery of labour which was now completely in abeyance. There was great destitution at present, which was relieved by the poorer classes, and the question was, whether it were better to have the burthen of that relief equalised. It appeared to him that by a poor-law they merely transferred the burthen of relief from individual charity to the public. He could not but think that a poor-law would have a great effect in reducing crime in Ireland. If they refused relief to an able-bodied labourer, who could not get work, he need only say, "Wait a bit, I can't get work; but if you think I am too stout, shut your door, and in two or three days, I shall be in the state in which you must grant me relief." It would be preposterous thus to bring a man down to sickness and misery previous to relieving him. It was said, that this measure would relieve but a small portion of the destitute, but he believed that if 80,000 were relieved at a time a great number would be relieved in the course of the year.

Captain Jones

was disposed to concur in the views taken upon the subject by the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin. As the bill stood, it allowed persons in a state of destitution to make a claim for relief, but it did not give them any title to relief, but left the guardians at liberty to say whether they would give them relief or not. With regard to the objection which had been urged, that it would be impossible to draw the line between the able-bodied and the sick, he would observe that there would be a medical officer in each union, and he would be enabled to say whether a man applying for relief, would be able to work or not.

Mr. Ellis

thought, that the able-bodied poor might be admitted into the workhouse, and he was borne out in taking that view of the question by the opinion expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, that no Irishman would consent to be deprived of his liberty unless he was driven to it by sheer, dire, necessity. If the Parliament provided relief only for the sick and infirm, he really thought that, as had been observed, they should give the bill another title, and call it a bill for the extension and better regulation of hospitals in Ireland. The bill provided for the suppression of mendicancy; but what right had they to punish a man for vagrancy unless they gave him the means of subsistence? He maintained that every state was bound to provide for all of its members who were in a state of destitution, without making distinctions as to age and sickness.

Mr. Wyse

had not seen, during the whole course of this discussion, any rule laid down as to what was the nature and extent of the powers which were vested by the bill in the board of guardians with regard to the distribution of relief. He wished to know whether it was intended that free action should be given to the guardians in contradistinction to the Commissioners, or whether they should have a law of settlement, by which encouragement might be given to well intentioned landlords.

Mr. W. Miles

opposed the amendment. He admired the emigration clause in this bill, but he wished that the noble Lord had introduced in preference to this measure the 43rd of Elisabeth. He also desired to see the measure accompanied by a large grant for the purpose of providing useful labour for the Irish peasantry: and felt quite assured that had the noble Lord introduced such a proposition, he would have been cheerfully supported by the people of England.

Lord John Russell

said, that if the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the University of Dublin, only conferred upon the people of Ireland one half of the benefits to be derived from the bill, while it went to impose upon them one-half of its burden, he might have been disposed to listen to it; but his opinion of the proposition was, that while it would subject them to at least three-fourths of the burden, it would not enable them to participate in more than one-fourth of the benefits. The erection alone of workhouses in different parts of Ireland, together with the expenses necessarily contingent upon their maintenance, would be in itself a great burden. But in respect of destitution, as well as of police, the measure recommended by the right hon. Gentleman would undoubtedly fail; for it was notorious that in Ireland there was a very large class of persons in a state of utter destitution, who were totally unable to obtain work. Yet if the right hon. Gentleman's proposition were entertained by the House, they would be establishing the harsh principle that because individuals in a state of destitution, possessed bodily powers which rendered them capable of working, they were not to receive relief upon the one hand, although it was impossible for them to obtain employment on the other.

The Committee divided on the amendment:—Ayes 75; Noes 134: Majority 59.

List of the AYES.
Adare, Visct. Jones, T.
Archbold, R. Lefroy, rt. hon. T.
Bagge, W. Litton, E.
Baring, H. B. Lockhart, A M.
Bateman, J. Mackenzie, T.
Blennerhassett, A. Maxwell, H.
Brabazon, Lord Meynell, Captain
Broadwood, Henry Miles, W.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Moneypenny, T. G.
Castlereagh, Visct. Nagle, Sir R.
Chapman, Sir M. L. C. O'Connell, D.
Chester, H. O'Connell, M. J.
Cole, hon. A. H. O'Connell, M.
Cole, Visct Packe, C. W.
Compton, H. C. Parker, T. A. W.
Coote, Sir C. H. Peel, J.
Corry, hon. H. Perceval, Colonel
Curry, W. Polhill, F.
Dalrymple, Sir A. Power, J.
De Horsey, S. R. Pryme, G.
Dick, Q. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Dungannon, Visc. Sandon, Viscount
Evans, G. Stewart, J.
Fergusson, Sir. R. A. Thornhill, G.
Fitzsimon, N. Vere, Sir C. B.
Forbes, W. Verner, Colonel
Forester, hon. G. Villiers, Viscount
Glynne, Sir S. R. Westenra, hon. R. H.
Grattan, H. Westenra, hon. J. C.
Greene, T. White, L.
Grimston, Visct. White, S.
Hayes, Sir E. Wood, T.
Henniker, Lord Wrightson, W. B.
Herbert, hon. S. Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
Howard, P. H. Young, J.
Hutton, R. TELLERS.
Jackson, Mr. Sergt. Shaw, F.
Jephson, C. D. O. Conolly, Col.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. Alsager, Captain
Acland, T. D. Bailey, J., jun.
Adam, Sir C. Baring, F. T.
Aglionby, H. A. Barneby, J.
Ainsworth, P. Barrington, Viscount
Barron, H. W. Maher, J.
Barry, G. S. Mahony, P.
Beamish, F. B. Marsland, H.
Bellew, R. M. Maule, W. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Morpeth, Viscount
Berkeley, hon. H. Morris, D.
Blake, M. J. O'Brien, W. S.
Blake, W. J. O'Callaghan, hon. C.
Blunt, Sir C. Pakington, J. S.
Bramston, T. W. Pease, J.
Briscoe, J. I. Peel, Sir R.
Brocklehurst, J. Philips, M.
Brotherton, J. Phillpotts, J.
Browne, R. D. Plumptre, J. P.
Bruges, W. H. L. Price, Sir R.
Busfield, W. Pusey, P.
Butler, hon. Colonel Redington, T. N.
Callaghan, D. Rice, E. R.
Campbell, Sir H. Rickford, W.
Chalmers, P. Roche, E.
Clements, Viscount Roche, W.
Craig, W. G. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Crompton, S. Round, C. G.
Darby, G. Rundle, J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Russell, Lord J.
Duke, Sir J. Russell, Lord C.
Eaton, R. J. Salwey, Colonel
Ebrington, Viscount Scrope, G. P.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Sinclair, Sir G.
Ellis, J. Smith, R. V.
Finch, F. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Fitzalan, Lord Stanley, E. J.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Stanley, M.
Fort, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Gladstone, W. E. Stewart, R.
Gordon, R. Stuart, Lord J.
Grattan, J. Stuart, V.
Greenaway, C. Strutt, E.
Grey, Sir G. Sugden, Sir E.
Grimsditch, T. Tancred, H. W.
Grimston, E. H. Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.
Hastie, A. Thornley, T.
Hawkes, T. Tollemache, F. J.
Hayter, W. Tufnell, H.
Hinde, J. H. Verney, Sir H.
Hobhouse, Sir J. Vigors, N. A.
Hobhouse, T. B. Vivian, Major C.
Hodges, T. L. Vivian, J. H.
Hodgson, R. Vivian, right hon. Sir R. H.
Howard, F. J.
Howick, Visct. Walker, R.
Hughes, W. B. White, A.
Hume, J. Wilkins, W.
Hurt, F. Williams, W.
Irton, S. Wilshere, W.
Kemble, H. Winnington, T. E.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. Winnington, H. J.
Knight, H. G. Wood, G. W.
Langdale, hon. C. Worsley, Lord
Lefevre, C. S. Wyse, T.
Lemon, Sir C. Yates, J. A.
Lennox, Lord G. TELLERS.
Lowther, J. Parker, J.
Lucas, E. Seymour, Lord

Amendment negatived.

The clause to stand part of the Bill.

The House resumed, the Committee to sit again.