HC Deb 04 August 1843 vol 71 cc234-6

House in Committee on the Poor Relief (Ireland) Bill.

On the 16th clause, guardians may assist destitute persons to emigrate,

Mr. M. O'Ferrall

objected to the bill giving the guardians of unions that authority. It was the belief of many people in Ireland that giving relief out of the workhouse was of advantage. The nursing of children out of the workhouse could be done at the rate of 5l., which inside would in the same space cost 7l. 10s. There was also this difference in outdoor-nursing, that the children were from education more fitted for engaging in the pursuits and employments in the country than by being reared in a workhouse. If it was given as an alternative to paupers to go out or to stay in the workhouse they might get rid of the emigration clause. What he would propose was:—there was at present a sum of money taken annually by the Government; suppose half that sum should go towards the funds for emigration, and that the other half should be applied to the payment of the loan? Although it would not be a very large sum, it would enable them to ascertain whether the system would work well or not.

Mr. Shaw

had no objection to emigration, although there were some who held different opinions. He was afraid that the clause in question would lead to inconveniences. He would state to the house the opinions on the subject of a guardian in the South Dublin Union. That Gentleman informed him that there were 600 old women, 300 old men, 265 girls, and 249 boys under fourteen years of age in the workhouse of that union. If any of these were removed by emigration their places would immediately be supplied; and if emigration was not adopted out-door relief and other expenses would ensue. In the South Dublin Union the grant of another shilling in the pound upon the rateable property would yield the yearly amount of 40,000l. If money was to be collected for the purposes of emigration, he thought that it ought to be done, not by a tax im- posed by the guardians, but by the Government of the country.

Sir J. Graham

said, that if the rates were always to be collected by the consent of the majority of rate payers, it would make the working of the Poor-laws ineffectual. He had discussed many important provisions in the Irish Poor-law Bill, but that was the most difficult and not the least important. He had always feared that there would be a strong tendency in the workhouses to become foundling institutions. Guardians choosing among the destitute would naturally choose those most so. He would take the case of female children. Nothing was more touching to the feelings than the case of an orphan female child. The guardians had admitted them in large numbers to the workhouses, and there they had continued until from their numbers they must be turned out on the streets, to commence a course of life ending too often in their ruin. The guardians could not make up their minds to discharge the inmates, and the workhouses were crowded with them. He entirely agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Kildare, that the poor people who were willing and able to work in their native country, but who unfortunately had no demand for their labour or their industry, would be most required in the colonies, and that they would be most useful there; but the question was from what source or funds the money for their conveyance to the colonies was to be had; he differed altogether from his right hon. Friend the Recorder of Dublin, for if Government were tomorrow to supply money for defraying the expenses of emigration, similar demands would be made year after year, and the guardians would ultimately find themselves pretty much in the same condition as they were at present; he felt very strongly the urgent necessity of emigration, but he objected to the Government bearing the burthen. The suggestions made by the hon. Member for Kildare were well entitled to serious consideration He felt that the arrangements made under the original law were now inexpedient, but at the same time he could hold out no expectations that the Government would entertain the proposition made by that hon. Member.

Mr. S. O'Brien

could not refrain from expressing his approval of the system of emigration. There were but very few measures which could afford such extensive relief to the sufferings and embarrass- ments of the people of Ireland as a well-regulated system of emigration, aided by the Government of this country. He believed such a system would be most serviceable to the people of Ireland.

Mr. S. Crawford

entreated the Government to reflect upon what the consequences of that measure would in all probability be. What were they doing to secure that the poor people sent out of their own country would be better off or placed in a better condition in the colonies than at home? The Government should consider whether the money spent on emigration could not be better expended. He conceived, and he believed it was an opinion very generally concurred in, that those poor people should be supported by the landlords of the country. He had no objection to emigration, provided it was free and voluntary, but he believed that emigration conducted upon the principles proposed in the bill would be compulsory; under those circumstances he opposed the clause.

Mr. Shaw

asked, would the right hon. Gentleman object to repeal the emigration clause in the former bill, and to give power to raise 6d. in the pound for aiding emigration, provided the proposition should receive the sanction of two-thirds of the guardians?

Sir J. Graham

could not adopt the right hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion, as the rate-payers would not consent to it.

Mr. Ross

moved the omission of the last four lines of the bill limiting the power of the rate-payers in certain cases.

The Committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause: Ayes 66; Noes 18; Majority 48.

Clause agreed to. House resumed. Committee to sit again.