Sir D. Norreys
asked whether, in the Select Committee which, it was understood, would be appointed to inquire into the operation of the Poor Law in Ireland, the general subject of valuation for the purposes of local taxation, as connected with the Poor Law, would be considered? Or, whether the Government would themselves undertake to examine the existing system of valuation in Ireland, with the view of introducing some general measure sufficient for all the purposes of local taxation?
§ Sir J. Graham
replied, that the hon. Baronet rightly apprehended what had fallen from him on a former occasion in regard to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the operation of the existing Poor Law in Ireland, the Government, considering the recent date of the law, and the extensive change which had taken place in it last year, were not of opinion that they should originate such an inquiry as that to which the hon. Member had adverted. Still, it had been understood, when the Act passed last year that if it should be the general wish of the Irish Members in that House, and of the Irish Peers in the other, that an inquiry into the operation of the law should take place during the present Session, the Government would not oppose it. To that statement he adhered; and should it appear that a majority of the Representatives of Ireland, of both Houses, desire the ap- 532 pointment of such an inquiry, he, on the part of the Government, would not refuse it. Still, upon the whole, considering the large number of Irish Members now absent at the Assizes in Ireland, it was a question for their discussion, whether it would not be expedient, and conduce to the general benefit, to postpone the investigation until after Easter. With regard to the valuation question, that was an important part of the operation of the Poor Law in Ireland. He had before expressed it as his opinion that it would be advantageous, if it could be effected, that there should he one uniform system of valuation in Ireland, based on the principle of a fair annual rent. But the subject was, as the hon. Baronet well knew, one of great importance and great difficulty, and he had already stated that Government had been in communication with Mr. Griffiths in regard to it; and there was no one more conversant with the subject, or more competent to give sound advice upon it than that Gentleman, and between the present time and Easter, the Government would feel it their duty to enter into further communication with Mr. Griffiths, with the view of arriving, if possible, at the object he had stated—that of providing one uniform system of valuation throughout the whole of Ireland, and that a tenement valuation, based on fair annual value.