HC Deb 03 August 1843 vol 71 cc227-9

On the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into committee on the Poor-relief (Ireland) bill, and on the question that the Speaker do now leave the Chair.

Mr. M. O'Ferrall

said, he would take that opportunity of calling upon the right hon. Baronet opposite to state the reasons for the dismissal of Dr. Phelan from the office of assistant poor-law commissioner in Ireland. Dr. Phelan was a gentleman of irreproachable character. Some time since he had been deprived of his situation, without any allegation that he had misconducted himself in any way. The result of this proceeding was, that Dr. Phelan and his family were reduced to a state of great suffering. The course of conduct pursued with respect to Dr. Phelan appeared to be most extraordinary, and if no case could be made out to justify that gentleman's dismissal, the act was disgraceful to the Government, and discreditable to the poor-law commissioners.

Sir James Graham

said, that the executive was not in the slightest degree responsible for the appointment or dismissal of the assistant Poor-law Commissioners. The Government appointed the Poor-law Commissioners, and held them responsible for the conduct of the assistant commissioners, and, therefore, it was wisely determined that the power of appointing and dismissing assistant commissioners should vest absolutely in the Commissioners. Of Dr. Phelan personally he knew nothing. He understood that his appointment had direct reference to a clause of the act which required the Commissioners to inquire into the state of fever hospitals and other charitable medical institutions. Dr. Phelan being a medical gentleman, and the publisher of a medical work, the Commissioners thought him well fitted to carry into execution the specific provision referred to. He was made an assistant commissioner, but the special object of his appointment was the execution of that particular duty. He was considered perfectly fitted for that duty, but not particularly well fitted for the discharge of the general duties of a Poor-law Commissioner. He was most reluctant to speak of Dr. Phelan's merits, but he was forced to do so by the course which had been taken. As to the tenure of Dr. Phelan's office, it was simply this—he was to hold it as long as he continued to give satisfaction. Attempts bad been made to give a political or religious character to Dr. Phelan's case, for the purpose of raising a prejudice against the Government. In cases where the Government could interfere, religious considerations were not suffered to influence their conduct. In proof of this he might refer to the case of Mr. Stanley, who had been removed from the office of secretary to the Irish Poor-law Board in pursuance of a resolution of the House of Lords. The Government being of opinion that the punishment with which Mr. Stanley had been visited was very severe and more than commensurate with his offence, had taken the opportunity of appointing him to an office of profit. Mr. Stanley was a Roman Catholic, but so far from that being considered as an objection by the Government, they felt additional pleasure in bestowing a favour upon a respectable gentleman of that persuasion. It must be evident that the Government could entertain no feeling of hostility to Dr. Phelan on account of his religious opinions. Those who wished to promote the future interests of Dr. Phelan, would act the part of indiscreet friends if they endeavoured to give to his case anything of a political character. He could state, on the part of the Government, that no feeling of was entertained towards Dr. Phelan: but, on the contrary, if any situation should become vacant for which he might be fitted, they would be disposed to take his claims into consideration.

On clause 11 (residence defined, for the purpose of charging relief to electoral divisions.)

Mr. W. S. O'Brien

moved an amendment to omit the first words of the clause, and substitute a provision, that after the passing of the act the expenses of all persons relieved shall be borne by and charged against the whole union with which such persons are connected, and shall be paid for by a fund levied on all the rateable property of such union. The effect of this would be to establish a uniform union rate, in place of the rating by electoral divisions, which was very irregular, and pressed with great inequality on the different districts. At present, the rates in some divisions were six times greater than in others.

Mr. Vesey

seconded the amendment. The rates at present caused great confusion and difficulty in making up the accounts, and created great dissension among the boards of guardians.

Lord Eliot

defended the clause, on the ground that he considered it necessary, to preserve a uniformity of system.

The committee divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause. Ayes 112; Noes 17: Majority 95.

The committee again divided on the question that the clause stand part of the Bill. Ayes 108; Noes 10: Majority 98.

List of the AYES.
Acland, T. D. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
A'Court, Capt. Hamilton, G. A.
Acton, Col. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Aglionby, H. A. Hastie, A.
Aldam, W. Henley, J. W.
Allix, J. P. Hindley, C.
Antrobus, E. Hodgson, R.
Archbold, R. Hussey, T.
Archdal, Capt. M. Hutt, W.
Bailey, J. Jun. Ingestre, Visct.
Baldwin, B. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E
Bankes, G. Lefroy, A.
Baring, hon. W. B. Lincoln, Earl of
Berkeley, hon. C. Lopes, Sir R.
Boldero, H. G. Mackenzie, W. F.
Bowring, Dr. McGeachy, F. A.
Broadley, H. Marsham, Visct.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Martin, C. W.
Brotherton, J. Masterman, J.
Bruce, Lord E. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Bunbury, T. Meynell, Capt.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Mildmay, H. St. J.
Clerk, Sir G. Mitcalfe, H.
Clive, Visct. Morgan, O.
Clive, hon. R. H. Morris, D.
Corbally, M. E. Neville, R.
Corry, rt. hon H. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Crawford, W. S. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Cripps, W. Northland, Visct.
Denison, E. B. O'Brien, A. S.
Dickinson, F. H. O'Brien, W. S.
Dodd, G. Patten, J. W.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Duncombe, T. Peel, J.
Duncombe, hon. A. Pollock, Sir F.
Eliot, Lord Repton, G. W. J.
Elphinstone, H Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Escott, B. Ross, D. R.
Esmonde, Sir T. Rushbrooke, Col.
Farnham, E. B. Shaw, rt. hn. F.
Flower, Sir J. Sheppard, T.
Forman, T. S. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Fox, S. L. Somerset, Lord G.
Fuller, A. E. Stanley, Lord
Gaskell, J. Milnes Stuart, W. V.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Stuart, H.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Gore, W. R. O. Tennent, J. E.
Gore, hon. R. Thornhill, G.
Goring, C. Trench, Sir F. W
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Trotter, J.
Verner, Col. Yorke, H. R.
Vesey, hon. T.
Wawn, J. T. TELLERS.
Wood, B. Fremantle, Sir T.
Wyse, T. Pringle, A.
List of the NOES.
Bateson, R. O'Conor, Don
Darby, G. Pechell, Capt.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Gisborne, T.
Grogan, E. TELLERS.
Hayes, Sir E. Jones, Capt.
O'Connell, M. J. O'Ferrall, M.

Clause agreed to.—Clause 15 agreed to.

The House resumed.

Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at one o'clock.