HC Deb 03 June 1844 vol 75 cc219-23
Sir J. Graham

moved to nominate the Select Committee on Union Workhouses in Ireland.

Sir R. Ferguson

wished to know what was the object of this Committee. The tenth Report of the Poor Law Commissioners had been distributed only before the Whitsun holydays, and the references it made to Ireland certainly required the careful notice of the House. It appeared from that Report, that it was almost utterly impossible for the Poor Law Commissioners to work the Poor Law in Ireland. Their whole statements not only proved that they had failed in their efforts, but that it was impossible they could enforce it. They had a Committee already sitting on the valuations, and what was to be the special matter of reference to this new Committee? With respect to the collection of the rates and the rating of small tenements, the Commissioners had exceeded the intention of the Legislature. They had relieved all the small holders of their arrears in some of the Unions, and that would place those Boards which had insisted on exacting the whole amount in a very awkward position. He repeated his wish to know what this Committee was to inquire into before he could consent to its appointment.

Sir J. Graham

said, it was not the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, but that of Mr. Pennithorne, which was to be submitted to this Committee. Great complaints were made last Session as to the expenditure of the public money in the erection of Union Workhouses, and the Government had sent over an architect to Ireland to inquire into the complaints made, and report on the structure of the buildings in question. That Report was Mr. Pennithorne's Report, which was to be submitted to the Committee. The Government had thought it right before coming to any resolution on the subject to have an inquiry by a Committee of that House.

Mr. F. French

thought that nothing could be more unfair to the Irish public than the administration of the law by the present Board of Commissioners. He should not oppose any investigation that gave publicity to the odious and inoperative system they had adopted, though the Committee would be of comparatively little use, unless the sphere of its inquiries was extended.

Committee nominated.

House adjourned at a quarter to twelve o'clock.