§ Sir J. Graham
The Government continues to be of the opinion which it has frequently and decidedly expressed, that 1238 an alteration in the registration of voters in Ireland is necessary. We have directed our attention to the subject, and the consideration which we have given to it has convinced us that any amended system of registration in Ireland could not fail to effect a considerable diminution of the county constituency in that part of the United Kingdom. It is not the wish of the Government, that either directly or indirectly, any such effect should be produced. We have found it necessary, therefore, not only to direct our attention to an amended system of registration in Ireland—a task which would be comparatively easy, inasmuch as the measure would be founded on the model of the amended system for England, which basal-ready received the sanction of both Houses of Parliament, and is now the law of the land—but, entertaining the views we do with respect to the county constituency, it would be necessary to combine with that measure some compensation for the diminution of the county constituency which the amended system of registration would cause. With a view to provide a compensation of this nature, the Government directed their attention to the system of rating under the Poor-law—a system founded on valuation. We believed that that system of valuation was sound, and might be made the foundation of a measure: but the right hon. Gentleman and the House must be aware, from a bill which has been read a first and second time, and now stands for committal, that the system of valuation in Ireland has been proved by experience to be defective. So far from one general principle of valuation having been adopted, as it was hoped would be the case when the Irish Poor-law Act was passed, we find that the valuation has varied in different localities to the extent of 25 percent., according to the caprice and will of different boards of guardians. An important clause has been introduced into the Irish Poor-law Amendment Act on the subject of valuation. The clause contains a provision, that the valuation shall be under the control of the central authority, and that it shall be taken under a general scheme, applicable to all Ireland. My answer to the question put by the right hon. Gentleman, then, is this, that the Government adhere to their intention of providing an amended system of registration for Ireland; but, at the same time, they wish to 1239 make compensation for the diminution of the county constituency which would be caused by such a measure; and, therefore, before they introduce a bill on the subject they are anxious to have the opinion of the House upon the clause respecting valuation in the Poor-law Amendment Bill to which I have referred. I can assure the House, that Government has not lost sight of this subject; indeed, a bill on the subject has been prepared and is almost ready for introduction, subject to the decision of the House on the clause in the Irish Poor-law Amendment Bill.
§ Sir J. Graham
It is indispensably necessary that the clause in the Poor-law Amendment Bill should be discussed and decided on by the House before 1 can finally determine on the introduction of the bill.