HC Deb 10 June 1844 vol 75 cc476-8
Captain Pechell

, in moving that the name of Colonel Rolleston be substituted for that of Mr. B. Denison, on the Gilbert Unions Committee observed, that he was aware the Committee comprehended a considerable proportion of Members friendly to the New Poor Law and hostile to the Gilbert Unions; and that some of them had, in fact, voted against the proposition for an inquiry on the subject on a former occasion. He hoped, however, that they would proceed on the inquiry with a view really to ascertain the merits and operation of the two systems now put in opposition; and though he might have some doubts as to their predilections in favour of the New Poor Law, he did expect that such evidence would be produced as would work in their minds the conviction that the abused incorporations were not so bad as the Poor Law Commissioners had represented. He did not wonder at the doubts and the distrust expressed by different parties as to the appointment of the Committee, seeing how hostile the Commissioners had proved themselves to these incorporations. But he believed, that if fair play were given, if witnesses were allowed time to come up, and the evidence were properly arranged, and Government aided duly in promoting the inquiry, and causing the Poor Law Commissioners not to argue the question as all on one side, he feared not the result. He trusted that the House would consent to the proposition he had to make, the hon. Member for Yorkshire having engagements on other inquiries, and business of various descriptions rendering it impossible that he should attend this Committee, while the hon. Member for Nottinghamshire was peculiarly qualified to throw light on the subject, he having both been Chairman of Poor Law Unions and of a Gilbert Union, which had been transmogrified as the Poor Law Commissioners wished to transmogrify all those incorporations.

Sir J. Graham

must resist the Motion. He had the greatest respect for his hon. Friend the Member for Nottinghamshire; but he had pleasure in seeing (behind him) his hon. Friend the Member for Yorkshire (Mr. B. Denison), who, he doubted not, would properly attend to his duties on this Committee; nor did he see why the hon. Member should be displaced, more especially as one of the other Committees to which he belonged had prepared its report, and his hon. Friend would, no doubt, attend on this Committee as much as was consistent with other such engagements.

Mr. Colvile

expressed his extreme dissatisfaction at the unfair composition of this Committee. He would recall to the recollection of the right hon. Secretary of the Home Department what had occurred in that House in connection with the Gilbert incorporations. Some three years ago the hon. Member for Finsbury proposed that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire on the subject. This was refused by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department, and in the following year, a deputation from the Gilbert Unions having waited on him, he expressed his determination to persevere with the Clause he then proposed for the abolition of the Gilbert Unions. It was, therefore, with some surprise that these parties teamed this year that it was not the right hon. Baronet's intention to introduce that Clause; but he was kind enough to say, that he would appoint a Committee; and he had in good earnest appointed one. He wished to speak with all respect for the Gentlemen composing this Committee. He believed them to be men of honour, and men of integrity; but he must say, that from the prejudices they had shown in regard to the Poor Law, he could not, and did not hope for justice from the Committee. All he asked was, that the case of the Gilbert Unions should be fully and fairly tried before an impartial Committee; and the result would then show that it was the best system for the relief of the poor. With these feelings, he should support the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.

Mr. Wakley

regretted that the hon. Member who had just spoken had not attended this Committee from the commencement of its meetings, for he could not have been led to the conclusion, whatever might be his opinions with re- gard to the constitution of the Committee, that anything like dishonest proceedings was to be expected. It was impossible for any majority to conduct themselves in a more lenient or forbearing manner towards a minority than did the majority of this Committee. They had agreed to all the suggestions of the minority. It was true that a large majority of the Committee were in favour of the New Poor Law; and, though he was at first dissatisfied with the composition of the Committee, yet, having witnessed the conduct of the Committee, he was satisfied that a fairer course could not be pursued than that which they followed. He regretted that the right hon. Secretary for he Home Department opposed the present Motion, because there was an understanding that the hon. Member for the West Riding of York would not be able to attend, and he thought the substitution which was proposed would give satisfaction to persons residing in the Gilbert Unions.

The House divided on the question that Mr. Beckett Denison be discharged from attendance on the Poor Relief (Gilbert Unions) Committee—Ayes 10: Noes 18; Majority 8.

List of the AYES.
Archbold, R. Villiers, hon. C.
Borthwick, P. Wakley, T.
Colvile, C. R. Wawn, J. T.
Ferrand, W. B.
Napier, Sir C. TELLERS.
O'Connell, M. J. Pechell, Capt.
Redington, T. N. Yorke, H. R.
List of the NOES.
Brotherton, J. Henley, J. W.
Cripps, W. Lincoln, Earl of
Eliot, Lord Martin, C. W.
Escott, B. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Evans, W. Trelawny, J. S.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T. Trotter, J.
Graham, rt hn. Sir J. Vesey, hon. T.
Greene, T.
Grogan, E. TELLERS.
Hawes, B. Young, J.
Heathcote, Sir W. Pringle, A.

House adjourned at one o'clock.