HC Deb 04 February 1848 vol 96 cc83-4

inquired when the House would be put in possession of a continuation of the papers relative to the proceedings of the Poor Law Commissioners in Ireland; and also whether any proceedings were being taken in Ireland by the Government, by indictment or otherwise, against those parties who were opposing the execution of the poor-law to such an extent as to occasion the death of a number—a considerable number, he feared—of Her Majesty's subjects? He stated this in general terms only, but he could refer to cases appearing upon papers already returned to the House by the Poor Law Commissioners to show that deaths were occurring by starvation, that being recorded as the cause in verdicts on coroners' inquests, and which deaths were entirely attributed in the Poor Law Commissioners' reports to the neglect of boards of guardians and relieving officers to relieve the poor according to the law of last Session, notwithstanding those poor were entitled by law to be relieved and saved from perishing. That, he conceived, was an offence against the law, whether the parties were guilty by non-payment of their rates or non-fulfilment of their duties as guardians, or relieving officers. The law in Ireland in this respect stood nearly upon the same footing as in England; and persons authorised by law to relieve the poor would, if any of them perished for want of the relief prescribed by law, be liable to indictment for a misdemeanor, if not for a higher offence.


felt that the mode in which his hon. Friend had put the second question was so vague, that he was really at a loss to give an answer. The hon. Member appeared to have entered rather into a discussion on the general merits of the poor-law, than to have inquired respecting any particular occurrence. As the hon. Gentleman proposed to put a notice on the paper upon the subject, he would perhaps then state to what cases he intended to call the attention of the House, and he hoped he should be able to give a satisfactory account of the conduct of the Government. With regard to the first question, the hon. Member was a little unreasonable; reports from the Poor Law Commissioners had been laid on the table at the latest moment that could be, during the sitting of Parliament, and other papers were in preparation, and no time should be lost in completing and producing them; but it was impossible to say exactly how soon they could be laid before the House.