HC Deb 29 March 1844 vol 73 cc1616-7
Sir G. Cockburn

said, that seeing the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton in his place, he begged to make some explanation relative to a statement which he had made in the discussion on the Navy Estimates. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had asked him whether a naval force had been employed in the collection of Poor Rates in Ireland. He then stated that he knew nothing of any such transaction, and that although Naval Officers had certainly been employed to support the Magistrates, they could have only had a moral influence upon the people as respected paying Poor Rates. Since then he had thought it right to look over the reports made to the Admiralty upon the subject, which exactly confirmed him in what he had before stated. The hon. and gallant Officer read several reports from Naval Officers stationed on the coast of Ireland, to the general effect that the appearance of war-steamers had been productive of the best moral effect, and in many instances probably prevented a collision between the people and the military. The steamers were sent to assist the civil authorities and to maintain peace.

Captain Pechell

said, that on the Navy Estimates he had pointed out that one, if not two, war-steamers, were employed in the collection of Poor Rates in Ireland. The bon, and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir George Cockburn) denied the statement, and said he was not aware of any such circumstance. He subsequently produced his authority for his statement, and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department made an apology for the hon. and gallant Officer, and he was satisfied with the apology. But since the hon. and gallant Gentleman had chosen to come down and vindicate his own case, he must say that his opinion was not altered. In fact, the hon. and gallant Gentleman acknowledged that ships of war were sent to aid the civil power, so that the Poor Rates were actually collected under the guns of the steamers. The difference between him and the hon. Gentleman was, that the latter said, he had no cognizance of the fact of the steamers being so employed, and he added that the Officers of those vessels had received no instructions from the Admiralty to collect the Poor Rates, but merely to aid the civil power; whereas he (Captain Pechell) inferred that those ships of war were kept on that coast in order that the police and officers of Government might the better insure the collection of Poor Rates. One of the steamers was, in fact, converted into a sort of Somerset Douse. He thought, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman had made the matter worse, for it clearly appeared that Poor Rates had been collected under the guns of ships of war.

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