§ The House in Committee on Poor-law (Ireland) Bill, On clause 41, which regulates the relief in workhouses, being proposed,
§ Mr. Lucas
rose to move, that certain words be inserted therein, by which he intended to raise the question of settlement. He did not, however, think, that it was a question which could be fitly considered in Committee. He thought that a question of such importance, one that if admitted, would alter the whole frame of the Bill, ought to have been discussed in the House itself, and not only was that his opinion, but it was the opinion of the House last year, when on his bringing forward this question in a Committee of the whole House, a very decided opinion was expressed by the Committee that it was a subject which did not come within the scope of their jurisdiction, and that it ought to receive the consideration of the whole House, and it was accordingly discussed by the whole House at a subsequent stage of the Bill. Nevertheless, as an objection had been taken to this proceeding, he would defer to the opinion which had been expressed, and he would now bring forward this question, which, in his opinion, was of as great importance as any which could be brought under the consideration of the House in connexion with this Bill. He must confess that it was neither agreeable nor encouraging to 62 undertake this question after the experience which he had already had as to the amount of support on which he might calculate. It was a question on which defeat seemed but too probable, when its supporters were likely to be assailed, not only by enemies in front, but even by stray shots from friends in the rear. Nevertheless, the question was of such importance to Ireland, and in its consequences, affecting as it must the peace, the happiness, and contentment of the people of Ireland, of so much importance to this country, that he felt it but his duty, both to the one country and to the other, to take the sense of the House upon it. It would be, perhaps, sufficient if he took a short view of the arguments which had been urged, upon the one side and the other, without entering into minuteness of detail. It was in his power to consult the convenience of the House in consequence of the circumstance that a gentleman was appointed by the Government two years back to proceed to Ireland to investigate the condition of the poor of that country, to make a report of what he saw and heard, with the deductions which he drew from the information he had acquired, and to deliver his opinion to the Government in order that they might frame a measure for the relief of the Irish poor. Upon his return, that gentleman very decidedly gave an opinion against a provision for settlement. His arguments, however, in favour of that conclusion appeared by his own admission not to be altogether satisfactory. When that gentleman was in England last year, he was present at the debates which took place upon this question, and when circumstances, to which be need not more particularly refer, interrupted the further progress of the Irish Poor-law Bill, he was upon the dissolution of Parliament sent again by the noble Lord at the head of the Home Department to investigate the circumstances in which Ireland was placed with respect to this question, to collect fresh facts, to compare those facts, together with the information which he had previously obtained, with the arguments which had been employed both for and against the question, and to make a final report to the House upon the subject. This report was now before the House. As that gentleman in his second report had expressed a confirmation of the opinion which he had delivered on the question of settlement, and as he was directed by the Government 63 to consider all the arguments that had been adduced on both sides, which bore on the great branches of the question of a poor law, it might save the time of the House if he referred hon. Members to the second report of Mr. Nicholls, presented this year, for a statement of the arguments against a provision of settlement. If, therefore, he allowed this statement to be correct, he thought that he was entitled to employ the admissions which Mr. Nicholls made as arguments in favour of the question of settlement, which its opponents could not deny, and could not fairly object to. The first enactment of settlement in England proceeded on the assumption of a natural and universally acknowledged right. It was founded on a feeling that we all acknowledged—that one's own countrymen were entitled to our assistance and charity beyond all others. This was a feeling which grew stronger when it affected fellow-townsmen and fellow-parishioners, and undoubtedly, after the ties of blood, the ties of neighbourhood, in their most extended as well as in a confined sense, exercised a proportionate influence over the human mind. Any law, therefore, which laid a settlement on that foundation would have the willing assent of the people in its favour, and any law which shocked that feeling would be obstructed and interrupted at every step by the prejudices and prepossessions of the country for which it was intended to legislate. Now, if it were supposed by the House that what he had stated with regard to mankind in general was not applicable to Ireland in particular, they would not take a correct view of the case. His countrymen were now ready to give charity to every passing stranger, and would do so ten times a-day. But if it were attempted by act of Parliament to fix such a burden permanently on their purses, it would be resisted in Ireland as much as it would be in other parts of the world. Settlement was not to be got rid of in any other way than by a national rate. It consisted of two things which were essentially different, although the distinction had not been sufficiently observed. The first branch of it was the fixing of a rate as payable for a certain district in certain parts, but the second branch of the question was totally distinct from the first, and involved the allocation of the pauper by fixing a charge for his relief, and fixing his actual residence in a particular district. He proposed to use 64 the words "allocation of the rate" and "allocation of the pauper" as distinct terms, which, however, had been mixed up too much together. Now, with regard to the allocation of the pauper, it was proposed by the bill to do away with it entirely, and in that he perfectly agreed with the framers of the measure, as it would leave the poor man free to proceed where labour was most in demand, and where provisions were cheapest. Even if they were agreed as to the abandonment of the principle of allocating the paupers, the inconvenience would still remain of maintaining the allocation of the rates; and this inconvenience they never could get rid of until they established a national rate, leviable indiscriminately upon the whole of the country. They were now enacting what he considered to be an entirely new law of settlement, essentially different from any other form of settlement with regard to the payment of the rates. This novel allocation of the rates would have neither the feelings nor the prejudices of the people arrayed in its favour. It was equally repugnant to sound reason; for if the principle were established that relief should be given to the casual pauper, what means could they have, in numerous instances, of inquiring into the actual circumstances of the persons applying for relief—of ascertaining (supposing them to come from a distant place) whether they had friends of their own capable of maintaining them, or whether they had fled from the pursuit of justice? But a settlement, it was alleged, would give rise to endless litigation. Under the English poor-law system, said the opponents of the principle which he advocated, the litigation was interminable; and surely it was not desirable that so pregnant a source of feud and difference should be imported into Ireland. He had examined with some care how far the argument on the score of litigation should be fairly extended and whether, in point of fact, the alleged inconveniences and hardships would arise. In England he found that the litigation had almost uniformly been parish litigation, each parish being compelled of necessity to defend its funds from undue claims. Now, supposing the establishment of eighty unions in Ireland upon this scale, one union would comprehend about an equal space with 103 English parishes; and as the litigation, according to his supposition, could only arise 65 amongst the different unions, if the English law of settlement were established in Ireland, the litigation would be decreased one hundred fold. Again, the desire for litigation was generally found to be proportioned to the interests at stake, and to the risks which the parties incurred. Now, as it was estimated that the expense of maintaining a pauper in Ireland would be just one-third of the expense incurred for the maintenance of an English pauper, he might legitimately infer that the amount of litigation would be limited in proportion. But it was also in the power of the House to adopt measures which would limit the evils of litigation; and one of the greatest of those evils would be admitted, he believed, to be the expense attendant on legal proceedings. Why might not the House relieve the proceedings connected with the administration of the poor law in Ireland from the expense of stamp duty? Ten or fifteen years since an excellent law had been introduced into Ireland for the encouragement of savings amongst the poorer classes. Parliament had upon that occasion relieved all the proceedings which might arise out of the Savings' Banks Act from the expense of stamp duty; and they were by analogy bound to do as much now with reference to the poor-rates. By the measure to which he referred it was enacted that all proceedings, where the amount sued for did not exceed 50l., should not only be free from stamp duty, but, instead of being subject to the expensive and cumbrous jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery, should be referred to the decision of a barrister properly authorised for that purpose. The same principle might be adopted with equal advantage in the present instance. The settlement by unions appeared to him too large to obtain a sufficient degree of local interest. Still, with proper modifications, he believed that that principle might be adopted with advantage. Under the English Bill, it was at the option of the guardians of parishes comprised within the same union to declare whether they would consent to have their respective parishes joined or separated for the purpose of special rating. Some boards decided in one way, others in a different way. This power, however, existed in the guardians. According to this very Bill the power was conceded to the board of guardians of dividing the unions 66 into electoral districts. Now, this division might as easily be made applicable to the distribution of the unions into rating districts, as to elective purposes. If Mr. Nicholls was right in assuming, that single parishes would be too small—and if others were right in asserting their belief that the contemplated unions would be too extensive for rating purposes, here was the medium which he (Mr. Lucas) proposed—namely, the concession to the board of guardians of the power of dividing the unions into rating districts, as well as into electoral districts. The effect of the clause without a settlement would be the influx of paupers from the poor into the rich districts. Had he not a right to demand, that Ulster should not be burthened with the expense of maintaining the poor of Connaught and Munster? There was another circumstance, too, which would add to the force of this objection. It was very probable that when this Bill should have passed, what was termed the clearing estates of the superabundant population would take place to a very considerable extent, and it was equally probable that that superabundant population, if without any other resource, would repair to the district where there was the greatest chance of their obtaining support. Again, the Bill made it optional on the part of guardians to give relief in the only cases, in which under any circumstances it was to be given—viz., those of destitution; and the argument against the settlement was, that they had the power of refusing that relief, that was to say, they had the power of suffering the pauper to perish. Now, that was a power which he thought would never be exercised, and he was borne out in the opinion by Mr. Nicholls, who said, "it might be safely assumed that in no case would the poor be suffered to perish." What, then, became of the defence against his argument in favour of the settlement, which defence rested upon the power of refusing relief, when it was evident that relief would eventually be granted notwithstanding this power? The only other argument against him was the intricacy of the accounts, in answer to which he could only say, that they might be conducted at a very trifling expense. He conceived he was entitled to assume, that any admission of Mr. Nicholls favourable to a settlement, he having been chosen by Government, 67 made against the opponents of that system. The hon. Member quoted some passages from Mr. Nicholls's report, to show that that Gentleman's opinion was, that if a right to relief were given, it would strengthen the arguments in favour of a settlement. Now, he conceived he had shown that a right, or what was tantamount to a right, was given by the Bill. He, therefore, called on the framers of the measure to act towards Ireland as they had acted towards England, and to give them that part of the English law—the law of settlement—which they had found to work beneficially, instead of trying with Ireland an experiment they had not thought fit to try for themselves. He thought, the manner of imposing the rate adopted in the Bill would be a check upon industry, as those who did not pay 5l. a-year for their holdings might be withheld from increasing its value in order to escape the payment of the rate. The hon. Member concluded by moving, that in clause 41, empowering the guardians to give relief at their discretion in workhouses, the following words be introduced:—At the cost of the districts wherein they may have respectively acquired a settlement.
§ Mr. French
opposed the amendment. Its effect would be, to open the question of settlements altogether, and he believed, that settlements if introduced, would be not only useless, but dangerous, in their effects, and would introduce all the evils and complications which had been produced by the English law, and law expenses to a great amount would be in consequence incurred. The law of settlement besides was by no means necessary to a compulsory system of relief. With regard to the argument on the point of the emigration of the paupers from the poor to the wealthy districts, he conceived it would not apply; for the same system of rating would be put in operation throughout the country, and they would be as well cared for in one county as in another, and consequently would have no interest in moving their position.
Sir W. Brabazon
objected strongly to the Bill, and urged the Government to withdraw it if they did not wish to lay the foundation of revolutionary feelings in Ireland. The Bill itself was nothing but a tissue of absurdities.
§ Sir E. Sugden
thought, that the unions could be preserved and maintained by a 68 local rate, and that this would be much better than a general rate, as the control that would be exercised over the expenditure by the local authorities would be extremely strict. If, however, they adopted the law of settlement in Ireland, he thought they would let in a crowd of evils. He therefore could not agree with the proposition of his hon. Friend, the Member for Monaghan.
would ask, if they did not give a law of settlement in Ireland, how they could expect tranquillity? One man might administer his estate to the benefit of the population on it, while his neighbour might pursue such a course as to pauperise his estate; would it not be an act of injustice to throw the charge of the poor of the latter estate on the owner of the former? For instance, he might take the case of the gallant Member for Donegal, who managed his estate in such a way as to benefit the whole of the population on the estate, while, according to the report of Mr. Nicholls, there was a large property in his neighbourhood, the charge of the maintenance of the poor on which would more than swallow the rental. He felt it to be a matter of duty, although it was with great reluctance, to support the amendment of the hon. Member for Monaghan. If that Bill were given to Ireland, he thought that it was absolutely necessary that it should be accompanied with settlement and the right of relief.
§ Mr. Litton
thought, that there might be a law of settlement provided for Ireland that would be simple in its enactments and beneficial in its tendency. The three simple principles which he should require, would be residence of three years, birth, or marriage. If there were no law of settlement the value of property would often be swamped by the pauper population moving upon an estate from neighbouring pauperised districts. He thought, that for the satisfactory working of the Bill, there should be some law of settlement.
§ Lord J. Russell
did not think, that it would be expedient, under the present circumstances, to adopt a law of settlement in Ireland. He would put the case of a person in a county removed from the place of his settlement. He would be told in case of destitution—"You have no settlement in this county, therefore you are not entitled to relief." 69 He would be driven to the place of his settlement before he could claim relief, and would, of necessity, become a mendicant before he reached his place of settlement. For his own part he disagreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, as to the merits of this Bill, but he never imputed to that hon. and learned Member that he was actuated in his conduct with respect to this measure by any other motive than a belief that it would not tend to the benefit of the people of Ireland. He believed, that if the hon. Member had wished to consult the popular feeling on the subject, that he would have better conciliated the people by calling for general relief. He believed, that the hon. and learned Gentleman took an exaggerated view of the evils that would arise from the adoption of this measure; but he had no doubt of the sincerity of the intentions of the hon. Gentleman. He did not mean to say, that they could obtain everything by this Bill; but seeing the great evils that had arisen from the law of settlement in England, he thought, that they ought to hesitate before they made a positive enactment on the subject with regard to Ireland. He did not mean to say, that hereafter there might not be a law of settlement in Ireland; but he did not think, that it would be expedient to act upon this principle in the first instance. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite proposed, that settlement should be allowed after three years' residence, by birth, or marriage. Now he (Lord J. Russell) doubted much whether there could be any settlement that would not lead to general settlement. A law of settlement had the effect of circumscribing the market for labour; and this was the great evil anywhere, but more particularly so in Ireland. Considering the inconveniences arising from this law, he trusted the House would not permit it to form a part of the present measure. If it were once admitted into the Bill, it would be extremely difficult afterwards to get rid of it, or even to make any alteration in it.
§ Lord Clements
thought, that the Bill as it stood at present would give a practical settlement, and also a practical right to relief. He was, therefore, inclined to stand by the Bill as now drawn up, because he thought that they might get rid of the evils complained of without circumscribing in the slightest degree the market of labour. Indeed, there was at present in Ireland a 70 strong practice of settlement, which he considered would be stronger than any which they might enact by law. In many parts of Ireland no man could obtain labour, unless he was known in the immediate neighbourhood, or had connexions with individuals living therein. Half the assaults and beatings which took place in Ireland were owing to the attempts of labourers to obtain an industrial residence in neighbourhoods to which they did not belong, or in which they were not known. At present, a man might be known in two or three different neighbourhoods, and have a chance of obtaining labour in them all; but if the House made an enactment of settlement, it would probably diminish his chance of getting employment, even in the district where by location he had most a right to it. At the same time, he must observe, that he was anxious to make the property of a district responsible for the destitution which took place within it.
§ Mr. Wyse
concurred with the noble Lord who had preceded him, in stating that there was already a practical law of settlement in Ireland, which was observed in all applications made for relief to the different fever hospitals and houses of industry in that country. He thought that that practical law of settlement would be administered with greater discretion by the board of guardians than any new law of settlement which might be introduced under the authority of an Act of Parliament. After the improvements which had been introduced into the Bill of this year, he felt himself bound to vote against the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Monaghan. The greatest improvement in the Bill of this year was, that it was to be simultaneous in its operation in all parts of Ireland. That would prevent the influx of paupers from one district into another, and thus would prevent any district from being burdened beyond its due proportion for their relief.
§ Sir E. Hayes
said, that those who opposed a law of settlement contended that if it were established, there should be concurrent with it a right of relief. Now, he supported the amendment, because he felt satisfied that a right of relief existed under the Bill. He could see no fair chance of the working of the Bill unless it were accompanied by a law of settlement, and if that were conceded it would materially contribute to the success of the Bill.
§ Mr. Barron
was of opinion, that a prac- 71 tical law of settlement should exist under the Bill. In his opinion, the establishment of a law of settlement in Ireland would amount to a confiscation of the whole property of the country, and he could not, therefore, agree to the amendment before the House.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
felt this whole question to be one of great difficulty. He thought the clause before the House one of the most important in the Bill, and he therefore felt bound to submit his views as to what appeared to him the best mode of carrying out the objects of the Bill. He was surprised at the arguments that had been urged from the other side of the House, but he confessed that he heard no answer to the arguments of his hon. Friend, the Member for Monaghan, and of his hon. Friend, the Member for Coleraine. His hon. Friend, the Member for Donegal, had stated, that a right of relief would exist under the Bill. He (Mr. Jackson) had looked to the clause, and he found no right to relief. Undoubtedly there ought to be a right to relief from the soil of any country to every person incapable of supporting himself. He thought the aged, the infant, and the impotent, were entitled to a right of relief in cases of destitution, and that every principle of religion, and morality, and sound policy, dictated that such relief ought to be granted. He thought, that the right of relief should be confined to those classes he had enumerated, and that concurrent with it they ought by all means to have a law of settlement. Without a law of settlement, the poorer parts of the country would inundate the more wealthy parts, and every large town would become a sort of mendicity house for the surrounding poor. It appeared to him that a law of settlement was absolutely necessary to make the Bill work.
trusted, that the Government would not yield one iota of the Bill to the opposition given by those who were averse to its principle, and who now sought to attack it in detail. It would appear from what had come out in the course of the discussion that the Bill seemed to be considered a measure for the improvement of property rather than for the relief of the poor. He would oppose the amendment, and hoped that the Government would adhere to the principle of the measure.
§ Mr. W. Roche
thought, that the law of 72 settlement would open up a source of great dissatisfaction and litigation, would tend to narrow the feelings of the Irish people, would impede the diffusion of labour, and would, in fact, he more injurious to the poor than to the landlords themselves.
§ Mr. Shaw
said, weighing the good against the evil, and striking the balance, he thought the better course would be, to dispense with the law of settlement. He was of opinion that his hon. Friend had failed in showing that the adoption of the law of settlement would afford a security against the apprehended evil of an inundation of paupers. He decidedly objected to allocating the poor. It was felt by his hon. Friends that it would be impracticable if they had the law of settlement to send the paupers home to their distant parishes; and it was therefore proposed that they should be maintained in the parish to which they applied for relief, but at the cost of the parish to which they belonged. Thus there was to be a debtor and creditor account kept between these several parishes. It appeared to him that such a system would lead to great confusion, and almost interminable litigation. There was another ground of objection to the proposition of his hon. Friend. If they had a law of settlement they must give a right to relief, because it would be a gross injustice to oblige a pauper to return to his own neighbourhood, which he had left on account of not being able to procure labour there, and then refuse him relief. As regarded the powers of the commissioners, he would place full confidence in them, and invest them with as much authority as possible. Under these circumstances, feeling that the question was one of great difficulty, he thought the better way would be to dispense with the law of settlement.
§ The Committee divided on the amendment:—Ayes 31; Noes 103: Majority 72.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bailey, J., jun.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Irton, S.|
|Bridgman, H.||Jackson, Sergt.|
|Callaghan, D.||Jones, T.|
|Cole, hon. A. H.||Litton, E.|
|Cole, Visct.||Maidstone, Visct.|
|De Horsey, S. H.||Meynell, Captain|
|Fergusson, Sir R. A.||O'Connell, D.|
|Forbes, W.||O'Neil, hon. J. B. R.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Pringle, A.|
|Pusey, P.||Williams, W.|
|Verner, Colonel||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Vigors, N. A.|
|Vivian, J. E.||TELLERS.|
|Wakley, T.||Lucas, E.|
|White, S.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Marshall, W.|
|Adare, Visct.||Marsland, H.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Martin, J.|
|Aglionby, Major||Maule, hon. F.|
|Archbold, R.||Maule, W. H.|
|Barron, H. W.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Barry, G. S.||Miles, W.|
|Bateman, J.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Beamish, F. B.||Morris, D.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Murray, rt. hon. J. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Berkeley, hon. H.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Blake, M. J.||O'Callaghan, hon. C.|
|Bolling, W.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Brabazon, Lord||Packe, C. W.|
|Brabazon, Sir W.||Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Pease, J.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Perceval, hon. G. J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Power, J.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Redington, T. N.|
|Chalmers, P.||Roche, E. B.|
|Chapman, Sir M.L.C.||Roche, W.|
|Chester, H.||Round, C. G.|
|Clements, Viscount||Rushbrooke, Colonel|
|Courtenay, P.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Curry, W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Darby, G.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Davis, Colonel||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Easthope, J.||Stewart, J.|
|Ellis, J.||Stuart, V.|
|Fergusson, rt. hon. C.||Style, Sir C.|
|Finch, F.||Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.|
|Fitzsimon, N.||Talbot, J. H.|
|French, F.||Thoruley, T.|
|Grattan, J.||Townley, R. G.|
|Grattan, H.||Tufnell, H.|
|Greenaway, C.||Turner, W.|
|Hawes, B.||Vivian, Major C.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Vivian, right hon. Sir R. H.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Horsman, E.||Walker, C. A.|
|Howard, P. H.||Westenra, hon. H. R.|
|Howick, Visct.||White, L.|
|Hume, J.||Winnington, T. E.|
|Hurt, F.||Wood, G. W.|
|Hutton, R.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|James, W.||Wyse, T.|
|Jephson, C. D. O.||Yates, J. A.|
|Jervis, J.||Young, J.|
|Langdale, hon. C.|
|Lowther, J. H.||TELLERS.|
|Macleod, R.||Gordon, R.|
|Mahony, P.||Wood, C.|
§ Mr. W. S. O'Brien
rose to propose the addition to the clause of the following proviso;—"That it shall be lawful for the 74 guardians, with the consent of the Commissioners, to direct, that relief shall be given to any destitute person who shall from infancy, old age, or infirmity of body, be wholly unable to work, without requiring that such person shall reside in any workhouse; and to make such other provision out of the workhouse for the destitute poor as is hereinafter authorised and directed." It appeared to him, that measures of relief ought to be adopted for the able-bodied poor by means of emigration, the cultivation of waste lands, and by employment on public works. The following enumeration would be found, he believed, to comprehend all those classes to which his motion referred;—First, lunatics; for though there were asylums in Ireland for sufferers of this class, they were quite inadequate. Secondly, persons afflicted with incurable diseases, epilepsy, &c., for whom there ought to be established hospitals in each county. Then orphans, and with reference to them he must say, that he fully entered into the importance of a clause proposed last year by the hon. Member for Waterford, that orphan children should be wholly separated from the other inhabitants of the workhouse, and that, in fact, they ought to be placed in some other and appropriate establishment. Next came aged persons who had no children or others able to support them. It appeared to him that such persons were proper objects of out-door relief. Young children incapable of earning a livelihood seemed another class well deserving of out of door relief. Sixth, he wished all persons of middle age who were afflicted for any length of time with sickness to be made eligible to out of door relief. Lastly, persons who from any accidental causes were disabled ought to have relief administered out of doors. All these classes consisted of persons for whom out of door relief was the proper, humane, and rational mode of relief. But the bill did not in any shape afford the means of giving out of door relief to these classes to the guardians at all, and it was said, that a poor-law on these principles would be either inadequate, or so expensive as to overcome the resources of the country. Now, he begged to ask the noble Lord if he thought 80,000 persons were all that this bill gave the power to relieve. The only person who had attempted to sustain this calculation of Mr. Nicholls was Mr. Stanley, and he thought the hon. and learned Member for 75 Dublin had sufficiently shown the slender foundation on which this estimate rested. The calculation was made from a view of the state of the population of Dublin, from which it was inferred by Mr. Nicholls that one per cent. of the whole population would be the whole amount of persons to be relieved in Ireland. He should not go into any counter-calculations; he had said enough to show the fallacy of this estimate when he repeated the statement itself. It was obvious that they had a greater amount of money to be expended on a mere system than would be required to support the poor comfortably, and in a manner, too, more agreeable to their own feelings. He was aware that many members from Ireland thought the workhouse system the most economical one. From that opinion he entirely differed. Others said it was better to proceed with things gradually, considering the present state of society in Ireland. He, however, was of opinion that it would be better to grapple with the entire question at once, as there was no likelihood of the number of the poor being less next year. Irish Members coming to that House and asking for the workhouse system could not complain of the answer which they received from English members—"We have built our own workhouses, and if you want them you must do the same." If the House were willing to bestow upon Ireland a million of money, it was much better to employ it on public works—to apply to the foundation of great commercial enterprise, and to the creating a market for English produce. He was of opinion that the management of workhouses was as much likely to be perverted as that of any other institution. It seemed to be taken for granted by those who were unfriendly to the administration of out-door relief, that if the poor in Ireland were allowed to receive out-door relief they would immediately throw the burden of the support of their relations upon the country. He (Mr. O'Brien) could not bring himself to think so. If the rates were properly administered, he thought it would be the endeavour of the rate-payers to see that the rates were diminished instead of being increased. Upon the whole, he thought the guardians should have a discretion in the matter, and that they should be allowed, if they thought proper, or the circumstances of the case required it, to administer outdoor relief. In confirmation of the views 76 which he entertained upon this subject, he had last year the honour of submitting to the House the resolutions of a large meeting of the citizens of Dublin, presided over by the Lord Mayor, at which the question was three days discussed. The meeting upon that occasion formed the same opinion upon the subject of out-door relief that he (Mr. O'Brien) did—namely, that a discretion should be left to the guardians to enable them to administer it in cases where they thought it necessary. He had now a similar resolution agreed to by a large respectable meeting of the inhabitants of Belfast, at which, he was informed, nearly 10,000 persons were present. There was another authority upon the same subject, which he would take the liberty of stating to the House, and he did so with greater satisfaction, inasmuch as it was adverse to the opinion which Mr. Nicholls had formed of the public institutions of Dublin. The resolution to which he alluded was passed at a meeting at Dublin, in which it was stated, that the workhouse system should not be the only system of relief, but that a discretionary power should be given to the guardians to administer out-door relief when they thought it necessary. He mentioned that, because Mr. Nicholls had stated, that the charitable institutions in Dublin were unfavouable to the system of out-door relief. In opposition to these authorities what had they? Why, the opinion of Mr. Nicholls alone. He stated as the justification of the refusal of outdoor relief in Ireland, that it would be contrary to the object of the English Poor-law Act as administered by the Commissioners at Somerset-house, which was to give nothing but workhouse relief, and that the giving of out-door relief was an unavoidable evil, and only tolerated because it could not be helped. He (Mr. S. O'Brien), for one, thought that it would be as difficult to repeal the Habeas Corpus Act as to repeal those clauses in the English Poor-law Act which gave power to a justice of the peace to order, where he thought it necessary, that out-door relief should be afforded. There was one consideration which might perhaps reconcile him to the bill as it at present stood—namely, the conviction which he entertained that the bill must necessarily work out its own enlargement. Upon this occasion he expected that his amendment would be supported by all English Mem- 77 bers who were not disposed to see it enacted in England that there should be no relief except in workhouses, and by all Irish Members who were desirous upon returning home to receive the blessings of their countrymen. Whatever the result of his motion might be, he should have the satisfaction of thinking that he had conscientiously endeavoured to do his duty.
§ Viscount Morpeth
said, he must give his most direct opposition to the proposition or rather benevolent proviso of the hon. Member for Limerick, thinking as he did that the worst clauses in the English Poor-law Act, and those which tended most to mar its beneficial progress, were those which extended the right of out-door relief. If they once consented to open the door to out-door relief in Ireland, there would be hardly a family in Ireland which would not take advantage of it and throw themselves upon the fund.
§ Mr. W. Roche
, knowing as he did how much the industry, and energies, and abilities of his hon. Friend, the Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. S. O'Brien) were exerted in favour of Ireland, must naturally feel great regret at being compelled to differ from him upon the present occasion. He must oppose the amendment.
§ Sir R. Bateson
objected to many parts of the present bill. He could not vote against the amendment of the hon. Member for Limerick, as a resident landlord acquainted with the state of Ireland, interested in its welfare, and possessing the common feelings of humanity. He wished very much that the amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, the Member for the University of Dublin, had been carried, as he thought it would be conferring a great boon upon Ireland. As that amendment had, however, been thrown out, they must endeavour to make the bill work as well as they could. The hon. Member for Limerick had alluded to the public meeting which had been held in Belfast. At that meeting he (Sir R. Bateson) had the honour to attend. There were present at it persons of all religious opinions and distinctions, and not one had ventured to speak in favour of the bill as it at present stood. As the noble Lord opposite (Lord Morpeth) did not attach much weight to that meeting, so neither did he (Sir R. Bateson) attach any weight to the flying visit of Mr. Nicholls which was altogether unknown to any one in the town of Belfast. He must 78 give his opposition to the workhouse system. He could not help thinking that the measure best adapted to the interests of Ireland was one which had been brought in in 1830 by the hon. Member for Limerick, by which each parish was enabled to levy a rate for the support of its own poor.
was afraid that the bill, as it at present stood, would give great dissatisfaction both to the rate-payers and rate-receivers, and under these circumstances the measure would be the worst species of medicine that could be administered to Ireland. The hon. Member for Limerick did not intend by his motion to make it imperative on the guardians to give out-door relief, but his object was to empower them, with the assent of the Commissioners, to exercise their discretion towards objects of real distress. The noble Lord (Morpeth) admitted, that on an average, one in each family in Ireland was an invalid, but by this bill that one could not receive relief except all the family went into the workhouse. He hoped the House would accede to the motion of his hon. Friend, as out-door relief would tend to smooth and soften down the harshness of the measure, which, though called a provision for the poor, did not possess a single feature of charity. If a Poor-law bill were granted, let it be sufficiently expansive to meet the exigences of pauperism.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
did not wish to have it go abroad that the workhouse system was one of oppression, as the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Dublin, would have it understood. There were already in Ireland institutions conducted on the same principle. He had that day received a letter from the governor of the House of Industry in Dublin, stating, that the most painful duty which he had to perform was the refusal of the numerous applicants for admission.
§ Mr. D. Callaghan
had some experience of the working of the House of Industry at Cork, and he did not believe, that it was at all effective in reducing the amount of destitution. The principal objects of support in that house were the persons who from long residence became domiciliated 79 there. The relief afforded them was not, in fact, temporary, but permanent, and from his knowledge of the workhouse system, he was satisfied that, if the House of Industry at Cork extended from that House to Charing-cross, it would not be sufficient for the demands likely to be made upon it. He was satisfied, that the workhouse system would be totally inapplicable to Ireland. He, for his own part, desired to see the law of settlement extended to that country. He should wish to have relief compulsory, and he was also in favour of out-door relief. Without these he was sure that any Poor-law Bill would, by the bulk of the people, be considered unsatisfactory.
§ Mr. P. Scrope
would support the amendment. The evils of out-door relief did not arise from the use but the abuse of that practice. Even those who most strongly advocated the Poor-law and such Bills, were the most anxious to assert that they were not opposed to out-door relief where it could with propriety be given. He should therefore vote for the amendment.
Sir T. Acland
bore testimony to the manner (as we understood) in which the Cork House of Industry was conducted.
§ The Committee divided on the amendment:—Ayes 32; Noes 99: Majority 67.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Johnson, General|
|Baring, H. B.||Mahony, P.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Morris, D.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||O'Connell, M.|
|Bridgman, H.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Sinclair, Sir G.|
|Brotherton, J.||Style, Sir C.|
|Callaghan, D.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Darby, G.||Villiers, Viscount|
|Fielden, J.||Wakley, T.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Williams, W.|
|Fleetwood, P. H.||Yates, J. A.|
|Hodgson, R.||O'Brien, W. S.|
|Horsman, E.||O'Connell, D.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Barry, G. S.|
|Adare, Viscount||Beamish, F. B.|
|Aglionby, Major||Bellew, R. M.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Berkeley, hon. H.|
|Archbold, R||Blake, M. J.|
|Baring, F. T.||Brabazon, Lord|
|Barrington, Viscount||Broadwood, H.|
|Barron, H. W.||Chalmers, P.|
|Chapman, Sir M. L. C.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Clements, Viscount||Murray, rt. hn. J. A.|
|Cole, Viscount||Nagle, Sir R.|
|Corry, hon. H.||Nicholl, J.|
|Curry, W.||O'Callaghan, hon. C.|
|Fergusson, rt. hn. R. C.||Packe, C. W.|
|Finch, F.||Paget, F.|
|Fitzgibbon, hon. Col.||Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Power, J.|
|Gordon, R.||Pusey, P.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Redington, T. N.|
|Grattan, J.||Roche, W.|
|Grattan, H.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Greene, T.||Round, C. G.|
|Greenaway, C.||Rushbrooke, Col nel|
|Grey, Sir G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Hawes, B.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Shaw, right hon. F.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Howard, F. J.||Stuart, V.|
|Howard, P. H.||Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.|
|Howick, Viscount||Talbot, J. H.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Thornley, T.|
|Hume, J.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Hurt, F.||Tufnell, H.|
|Hutton, R.||Turner, E.|
|Jackson, Sergeant||Vivian, Major C.|
|James, W.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Jones, T.||Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H.|
|Kinnaird, hon. A. F.||Walker, C. A.|
|Lambton, H.||Westenra, hon. J. C.|
|Langdale, hon. C.||Winnington, T. E.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Wood, C.|
|Lennox, Lord G.||Wood, G. W.|
|Lockhart, A. M.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|Lowther, J. H.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Wyse, T.|
|Macleod, R.||Young, J.|
|Maule, hon. F.||TELLERS|
|Maule, W. H.||Parker, J.|
|Miles, W.||Steuart, R.|
§ Clause agreed to.
§ On the 42nd Clause being proposed relating to the appointment of chaplains to the workhouses,
§ Lord Clements
proposed an amendment to the effect, that the appointment of chaplains should be in the local ecclesiastical authorities of the several religious establishments respectively, instead of in the Commissioners.
§ Mr. Sergeant Jackson
thought, it would be best to strike out the clause, and to allow the inmates of the workhouses to go to the places of worship belonging to each class.
contended, that the suggestion of the learned Sergeant might apply to Sunday, but that on every day religious instruction might be beneficially afforded. The appointment, therefore, 81 of chaplains, if properly conducted, was essential to the proper working of this system. The great evil of the present system in making appointments of this nature at present in Ireland was, that the controlling power was not left in the hands of each class of religionists. He trusted that an arrangement would be arrived at with respect to this clause, in consonance with the conciliatory spirit which had been hitherto displayed on this occasion.
§ Lord J. Russell
saw very considerable difficulty in this clause. His noble Friend (Lord Clements) had suggested that chaplains should be appointed by the ecclesiastical authorities. That proposition seemed to provide for the proper attendance of persons of each religious persuasion. At the same time, if it was adopted, he could conceive a case in which persons would be appointed not disposed to work out the objects of this measure. When persons, too, were nominated by different ecclesiastical authorities, there was a danger of that harmony being interrupted which was so essential. He was not disposed, therefore, to agree to the proposition without giving the Commissioners a voice in the matter, either by way of approval, or that they should possess the power of appointment, subject to the approval of the ecclesiastical authorities. He should, therefore, propose to postpone the clause with the view of framing it in such a manner as to meet with general concurrence.
was desirous to make one suggestion; it was this, that the salary should be left altogether at the disposal of the commissioners, who would be thus invested with a sufficient controlling power, it being left discretionary to withhold or stop the allowance.
§ Clause postponed.