§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ CAPTAIN JONES
moved, as an Amendment, 974 that the Bill be read a third time that day six months. He thought the House must be of opinion, after the debates which had taken place on this Bill, that it was not one likely to prove effectual as a measure for affording relief in the destitute districts in Ireland. He reiterated his opinion that any attempt to collect the rate in aid would seriously interfere with the operation of the Irish poor-law.
§ SIR J. B. WALSH
, in seconding the Amendment, said that the present measure was pernicious in its tendency, and would prove most inefficient in its provisions. The inevitable result of it would be to alienate the affections of the most loyal portion of Her Majesty's subjects. They knew that disaffection was unhappily very prevalent in Ireland, and the Government had but recently been compelled to take extraordinary measures for the purpose of preventing that disaffection taking the shape of rebellion in that country. It appeared that the people of Ireland were now forced to adopt a measure which was revolting to the feelings, the just feelings, of the most loyal portion of that kingdom. The effect of it would be to strengthen considerably the argument in favour of repeal. This measure was pressed upon them against the conviction and the most strenuous opposition of almost the whole of the Irish representatives. It was passed in utter ignorance of the circumstances of Ireland, and with the erroneous idea that England would derive a benefit by throwing upon the Irish the duty of maintaining their own poor. They were treating this as a provincial question, and were withdrawing, as it were, from Ireland the privilege to which she was entitled—that of being one of the component parts of the united kingdom. Notwithstanding the evidence of the lamentable distress in some of the unions in the west of Ireland, he had considerable doubts as to the urgent necessity of such a measure as this, which alleged urgent necessity, indeed, was the only argument by which Ministers met the opposition to this Bill. They were now about giving outdoor relief, without accompanying it with any practical test whatever of the destitution of the particular districts. They were thus opening the door to every species of abuse, fraud, and imposture, against which they would have no adequate protection. Even in this country, where the poor-law worked under more favourable circumstances, they found how inadequate, after all, their machinery was to check it. In 975 Ireland, however, they had thrown down all those barriers which they had erected in England, and placed no check whatever to these abuses in the distressed unions. It appeared, by official returns, that in Clare there were 70,000 persons receiving outdoor relief, while in Donegal there were only 2,000 in a similar position. That fact proved that the measure before the House would operate unequally, and, therefore, unfairly. The leading objections to the Bill had, on so many occasions, been so well pressed upon the consideration of the House by the Irish representatives, that he would not further dwell upon them. But it was impossible they could blind their eyes to the fact that there was at present a great crisis in the affairs of Ireland—that that country was passing through a revolution of great magnitude and importance. It was proposed that the crisis in question should be dealt with by exceptional means, but he was opposed to that principle. He believed that they would only he able to weather the difficulty they had to contend with by upholding the rights of property, and the supremacy of the law as it present existed. Measures which tended to produce violent changes, such as the confiscation of property or vested interests in property, would, in his opinion, only render more lasting the evils which were intended to be removed.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the question to add the words "upon this day six months."
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH
regretted that he was not in time to move the Amendment which had been proposed by his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Londonderry. He hoped, however, that the House would bear with him whilst he made a few remarks in reference to the measure, and referred to some official returns containing matter which bore upon the question. In the first place, let him be allowed to state that there was no disinclination—that there never had been any disinclination—on the part of those Irish Members with whom he generally acted to submit themselves to any altered system of taxation that might be required by the circumstances of the country. But they certainly did think it unfair that after having expressed their disapprobation of the measure—after the great debate that had taken place upon it—the consideration which it had undergone, and the jockeyship that had been resorted to in order to carry it— 976 the Government should come down and offer them the alternative of an income tax; and that only three or four days should be allowed them to consider the proposition. The Irish Members had no finance committee, the result of whose labours might perhaps be a guide to them in coming to a decision upon the question; but he had before him a few statistical details which he would venture to bring under the notice of the House, with the view of showing that Ireland, as compared with England, was over-taxed. But before going into them, let him just ask why, if the Government had been in earnest with regard to an income tax for Ireland, they did not support the proposition of the hon. Member for Kerry? He did not believe that they were ever in earnest on the subject, or that they were entitled to thanks for their merciful consideration in not extending the tax to Ireland. His belief was, they were quite aware that an income tax and assessed taxes would not be worth collecting in Ireland; and therefore it was that those taxes were not imposed. He would now refer to the returns he had mentioned, from which it appeared that the rateable property in England was 108,000,000l.; that the average poor-rates, church rates, and highway rates, amounted to 10,000,000l. at 2s. in the pound, to which he added 7d. in the pound for income tax, and 5d. for assessed taxes, making a total of 3s. in the pound. According to the return of 1842, the rateable property in Ireland was valued at 13,187,420l., which, after deducting one-fourth for depreciation, in accordance with Mr. Griffiths' statement, left 9,890,565l. The local taxation of Ireland consisted, of poor-rates expended (1848), l,855,841l., county-cess (annual average), 142,302l., repayment of relief advances for ten years, 272,821l., and repayment of advances (Burgoyne's Commission), 953,355l, making a total of 4,224,319l.; or a tax of 8s. 4d. in the pound on the present depreciated rackrent value, or a tax of 6s. 2d. in the pound on the poor-law valuation of 1842 and 1843. The gross income of England, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was 250,000,000l., and of Ireland 18,000,000l. or 20,000,000l. The latter was, therefore, less than l–12th that of England. The net revenue of Ireland, on an average of ten years to 1844, was 4,164,264l., and the gross revenue of Great Britain and Ireland, 52,000,000l. Consequently, Ireland was paying her full proportion, without taking into account the 977 customs and excise duties paid in England for articles purchased there for consumption in Ireland. He would next refer to a return showing the liabilities of five counties in Ireland, supposing the maximum limit of poor-rate to be fixed at 7s. 6d. in the pound, by which it appeared that the liability of Clare for repayment of relief works, county cess, poor-rate and relief advances (Burgoyne's), would be 14s. 8¾d in the pound on the poor valuation of 1842 and 1843, or 18s. 4¾d. on the present depreciated value; for Mayo, 13s. 11¼d. in the first instance, or 17s. 4¾d. in the latter; for Kerry, 13s. 3d. or 16s. 6¾d.; for Galway, 12s. 5d. or 15s. 6¼d.; and for Limerick, 12s. 0¼d. or 15s. 0¼d. He believed that it could be proved that Ireland now paid more than war taxes. There had been taxes remitted, in Great Britain, from 1814 to 1846, to the amount of 51,236,420l., and in Ireland to the amount only of 2,903,995l.; so that out of the total taxation remitted, 54,140,415l., Ireland had had remitted not quite 3,000,000l He had therefore shown that Ireland bore a very fair proportion, if not a greater proportion of taxation than she ought. Ireland was constantly held out as a burden on this country, and as a drag on her resources; and the advantage which Ireland had proved to this country in years past, and the circumstance that Ireland was forced by England into connexion with her, seemed to be lost sight of. Prom 1800 to 1847, there had been remitted from the British Exchequer to the Irish 7,995,640l., while there had been remitted from the Irish to the British Exchequer during the same period, 27,339,813l. Whatever might be the operation of the corn law in England, there could be no doubt but that Ireland had been a sufferer to a very great degree. Experience had shown that in the north and the east, the change to the farmers had been one of the most fearful description. The agricultural population of England was 22 per cent—in Ireland it was 64 per cent. The manufacturing population of Ireland was 18 percent, in England it was 46 per cent. Therefore, Ireland lost three times as much as England from the repeal of the corn laws, while England gained two-and-a-half times more. He would not take a retrospective view on that subject, but would content himself with saying that the condition of Ireland ought to have been well studied before so decided a change was made. Ireland by that change had received a blow from which it would be long before she could 978 recover. Wholly independent of those objections, he was at a loss to know what a rate in aid meant. If it were in aid of taxation, taxation had already reached its maximum in Ireland—if in aid of charity, its only effect would be to dry up those founts of charity which heretofore had been ever open there. The only operation of the Bill would be to break down the poor-law. The worst of the matter was, that they held out no hope for the future. If the Irish people saw their way out of their difficulties, they might consent to the increased taxation. But independently of his objection to increased taxation, he objected to this particular tax. It was a farce to call it a national rate in aid; it was admitted that it would fall upon certain portions of the country ill able to pay it, and it was to be laid upon them regardless of the consequences, in checking industry and damping the efforts now making; in short, it was killing the goose for the golden eggs. It was known that the union rate in aid—the 7s.—would be required in forty-six unions and 282 electoral divisions; the national rate in aid—the 7s. 6d.—in twenty-eight unions and 157 electoral divisions, upon the average expenditure of 1848. Then, again, the unequal valuation must not be forgotten. The town of Belfast, for instance, was valued in the poor-law valuation at 20s. 8d. in the pound above the ordnance, or town-land valuation, while Roscommon was 2s. 8d. below it: so that Belfast was valued at 23s. 4d. in the pound above Roscommon; so Newtonards was 13s. 6d. above Roscommon. With reference to the probable disposition of the funds, it was right to observe that in the year ending last Michaelmas grants had been made of 36,000l., 29,000l., 23,000l., and so on, in unions where the rates were but 7s. 7d.,6s. 8d., 6s., and the like; and in unions where the rates were 14s., 12s. 7d., 11s., no grant had been made. The law could never be enforced without a new valuation, which must lead to considerable expense. He had also a strong objection to the power given to the Treasury of disposing of the funds to be raised under the Bill. Neither the rate in aid or the proposed alterations in the poor-law had been recommended by the Committees of either that or the other House of Parliament; they rested entirely upon the responsibility of the Government, and they were against the whole tenor of the evidence taken before both. That was one reason why the Government ought to 979 pause before sending the Bill up to the other House; but, at all events, when it went up there, he trusted that House would give weight to the evidence their Committee had reported to them. He knew not where the Irish Members had been during these debates—certainly many of them had not been attending to their duty in that House; but he would ask English and Scotch as well as Irish Members, were they disposed to act, in this case, upon strict economical principles? If they pressed for immediate payment of the advances already made to Ireland, they could not obtain it; they would ask for the pound of flesh where there was none. They would attempt to draw water from a spring already dried up by their legislation. If they laid burdens upon the capital of Ireland which it could not bear, they would do away with all chance of receiving repayment of their advances, and upon themselves would rest the responsibility. But besides this, he would ask were there no political events which rendered the course they were taking exceedingly undesirable? He was unwilling to talk to a British House of Commons in the language of menace; but when all other appeals had failed, he felt compelled to ask them to look at the position of Europe at the present moment. Had the storm which had struck down many thrones and shaken dynasties yet wholly passed away—was there no lightning on the horizon—were no low peals of thunder heard—had the electric clouds of the last year passed away—had the sun yet begun to shine with its accustomed splendour and brightness—were the relations of England with foreign countries in so satisfactory a state that the House should have no apprehensions of the course they were about to pursue? Were the colonies in a contented and happy state—were they faithful and satisfied? Was Jamaica firm in her allegiance—was Guiana the staunch friend of the mother country—was Canada the strong right hand of England, to assist her in the western hemisphere? If so, they might enforce what laws they pleased; but if not so—if doubt hung over the foreign relations of the country, and difficulties existed in their colonial policy—he asked them to reflect in what position they would be when their forces were employed in enforcing the levy of an unjust tax upon an unwilling people. Might not the time arrive when, on looking to Ireland for her accustomed, grateful, and constant attachment in difficulty and 980 danger—Ireland, whose blood had been poured out in Portugal and in Spain, in Africa and in China, and, more lately still, on the banks of the Hydaspes—they might meet with no response? Let them pause before they entirely ruined her future prospects. Let them pause and reflect, in order that that attachment—that friendship and devotion hitherto shown—might not wither away and be destroyed by the baneful ruin of an increased taxation on an overburdened and wretched people.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
did not rise to renew the argument which he had already frequently urged upon the House with regard to the rate in aid; but, in consequence of the distressing accounts received from Ireland, it was necessary for him to advert to an answer which he gave a few days ago to a question put by the hon. Member for Montrose, whom he regretted not to see in his place, especially as he understood the hon. Member was absent by reason of indisposition. In answer to that hon. Member, he (Lord J. Russell) stated that it would be his duty, during the time that this Bill might be expected to be under consideration in that and the other House, to advance from the Civil Contingencies Fund such sums as were absolutely necessary to maintain the people who had been hitherto supported out of the grant of 50,000l. That sum of 50,000l was now entirely exhausted; the last remaining portion was sent from the Treasury last week; and the accounts last received from the Poor Law Commissioners in Ireland were of a still more distressing nature, and proved that the destitution was increasing. He had stated in answer to a question of the hon. Member for Montrose, that he did not conceive that above 6,000l. would be necessary to be issued from the Civil Contingencies Fund for the purpose to which he had referred; but with these accounts before him, and considering that if the House agreed to the third reading of the Bill that night, some time must elapse before it could be taken into consideration by the other House, he did not think the Government would be justified in keeping within that limit, and he felt bound to state fairly that they would deem themselves justified in issuing such sums as they might find absolutely necessary to prevent fatal consequences from the destitution in Ireland. With regard to the latter part of the noble Viscount's speech, threatening the House in some manner with the effects which this rate in aid was 981 to produce in Ireland, he (Lord J. Russell) should not be alarmed by those words, because he happened to have seen a most excellent letter from the Marquess of Londonderry to the tenantry on his estates in Ireland, in which he stated that he was quite sure that loyalty and habits of obedience to the law were so rooted in the people there, that, should the Bill pass into an Act of Parliament, whatever objections they might have to it, there would be no resistance to the law on their part. [Viscount CASTLEREAGH: They will all be gone to America.] If they should be gone, the rate would certainly not be collected from them; but he (Lord J. Russell) relied upon that letter of the noble Marquess, and thought it did him the highest honour, and it relieved him (Lord J. Russell) from any apprehensions he might otherwise have entertained. Having marked the reluctance of the House to vote the 50,000l., he did not see any other mode than that now proposed by which to supply the destitution, and therefore he must persevere in asking the House to agree to it.
§ MR. BANKES
said, the House was not surprised, probably, at the observations of the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown. He believed the statement of the other night was made rather according to the wishes of the noble Lord, than according to his expectations. He (Mr. Bankes) had himself had a letter from a gentleman, who in travelling but a very short distance in Ireland had to stop his car five times in order to have removed the dead and the dying who were lying on the road. It was obvious that the present measure would do nothing to relieve the distresses of the country, and it was deeply to be regretted that the Irish Members had not acted with more union and decision on the subject. He thought that the best mode of administering relief to Ireland would be to impose a rate in aid not only on one portion of that country, but on the cereal produce of foreign countries. It was to such a rate as that alone to which he could look forward with any hope for a permanent alleviation of the ills of Ireland. Let the Government abandon, at least for a time, their views of economical science; let them also increase the postage to a moderate amount; and an ample sum would soon be received by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the evils which this Bill sought to remedy. He looked upon this measure with the greatest alarm; for by the second clause he found it was provided 982 that those parts of Ireland which had been enabled barely to weather through her late and present calamities must henceforth be compelled to contribute to the relief of the most distressed portions of Ireland; and that, in fact, those distressed districts by this Bill would be entitled to relief from the poor-rates of the more prosperous districts, in preference to the claims of the distressed in the latter districts. Now, if they wished to contrive a measure which should make ruin universal, this, he thought, was a fit mode of making that experiment. This Bill would compel those places which by good management, by good landlords, and good tenants, had attained a comparative degree of prosperity, to contribute, before they considered the interests of their own poor, to the relief of distant and badly managed, and therefore distressed, parts of the country. Now he could not see justice or reason in such a measure, and he therefore protested against its further progress. And, as an English representative, in a particular manner he felt it his duty to do so, because it afforded no valid security for the money that was about, on the credit thereof, to be advanced from the imperial treasury for the support of the distressed people of Ireland.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he had hitherto refrained from expressing any opinion on this measure during the several discussions which had already taken place on it, naturally feeling that the discussion should rather be conducted by the representatives of that country for which they were now legislating; but he would venture that evening to make a very few remarks explanatory of the vote which he was about to record on this question. His observations would be brief, because he had no confidence in the present Administration with reference to their conduct on Irish affairs. He had met with a passage the other day, in a play written by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and which was acted last year at Sadler's Wells, called Don Carlos, which exactly represented the Government's conduct towards Ireland. Don Carlos is made to say, in drawing a comparison—Like ships at sea becalmed, Whose sails flap to and fro with scanty measure.Now, he (Mr. Cochrane) thought that all the measures which had been brought forward by Her Majesty's Government were scanty measures indeed—Achieving nothing, still promising wonders, By dint of experience improving in blunders.983 When the noble Lord introduced a Coercion Bill for Ireland, he talked in magnificent language of the remedial measures which were to he introduced for Ireland. But, as yet, he (Mr. Cochrane) had seen nothing of such measures introduced by Her Majesty's Government. This, however, he would say for the other parties in that House—alike for the late Government and the new Opposition—that two eminent men, the leaders of two parties in that House, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, and the late lamented Lord G. Bentinck, had brought forward "large and comprehensive measures" for the improvement of Ireland. Whether or not the plan propounded by his late lamented Friend was or was not well adapted to the circumstances of Ireland, he could not say; but it must, at all events be admtted that it was a great and comprehensive measure; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth had also stated at great length the other day an admirable proposition for the improvement of Ireland. But still Her Majesty's Government did not pretend to bring forward any comprehensive measure for the permanent relief of that unfortunate country. And yet he might be in error in bringing such a charge against the Government. There had been that magnificent vote of 10,000,000l. for Ireland. But he ventured—at the time that that vote was submitted to—to state his opinion that the expenditure of such vast sums in the manner proposed was the most fallacious policy possible; because he held that there was but one means of wealth in a nation, and that was its industry. He held that that money had been positively thrown away. Ireland—by the accounts which the noble Lord himself had read to the House—was now in a worse condition than when the money was voted to her. They had just heard from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorsetshire that the people in Ireland were dying on the high roads. And he (Mr. Cochrane) had had an interview with a gentleman on the previous day who had just returned from Ireland, and who stated that the misery of that country was almost inconceivable. Well, then, if such were the results of their I0,000,000l grant, what hope had they that this unjust and pitiable measure of the Government could have any beneficial effect? He would tell Her Majesty's Government that they had a serious responsibility resting upon them, which could not be averted; it was of no 984 use to seek opinions from others, to go about asking for advice and counsel; they knew that this was no new evil; they had had time to make up their minds on the course which they ought to follow, and to take a great and comprehensive view of this mighty question. And were Her Majesty's Ministers now at last not prepared to give any answer to the demands which were being made upon them from all parties, to fulfil their long delayed promise to introduce "great and comprehensive measures "for the amelioration of Ireland? Or could they only make the schoolboy retort, "What have you to propose?" He would merely say this—and he thought that a few years would prove that there was some truth in his assertion—that if they continued to rule Ireland as they had hitherto, the cry for the repeal of the Union would rapidly increase; and, he thought, justifiably so. By giving to Ireland her own Parliament, they would restore to her the valuable boon of a resident proprietary and gentry. He knew that the loss of Ireland would detract from the dignity and character of this country—it would be an irreparable loss; he knew that, but he would say that, if there were two alternatives before him, the loss of the dignity of this country, or the loss of a famishing and perishing people—he, for one, unless the Government of the united kingdom were prepared at once to bring forward measures calculated to save that people—would support a repeal of the Union, if he thought that such a measure would save the people of Ireland from perishing by starvation.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
Sir, I have opposed the principle of this measure throughout on two grounds—first, that it is inherently vicious, unjust, and impolitic; secondly, that it is not required, as its supporters allege, by an overwhelming necessity; there are other preferable modes of meeting the exigencies of these western, unions. That the principle of this rate in aid is inconsistent with that of the poor-law itself, local responsibility, and wholly indefensible, except on the assumption of an overbearing necessity, is in fact admitted by its authors. The question, therefore, really is, does that necessity exist? Are there not other and preferable modes of meeting the exigency of the case? No doubt there is a necessity for advancing money from the Exchequer, as you are doing under this Bill, for the all-paramount object of saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of starving poor in 985 the west and south of Ireland. What I dispute is, that the security you are taking for repayment of your advances in the rate in aid is not the best kind of security that could be devised, or indeed, a good security at all. I believe many better substitutes could have been devised. I voted on every opportunity for an income tax as a better security. But what I consider the best security by far is, that which I myself have proposed to this House on every occasion when a vote of money has been demanded for this purpose, which I urged last year when the vote of 132,000l. was proposed, and this year when the 50,000l. first, and afterwards this 100,000l. were proposed. On all these occasions I urged the House to take, as a double security for the advance, first, a lien upon the rates of the unions, with a power to sell the land itself for arrears of the rate; and, secondly, to expend the money in the productive employment of the poor whom you fed with it, by which you would give an increased value to the land, on which your security was based. Sir, had the Government thought fit to adopt this course, no rate in aid would be necessary, no unjust pressure would be imposed on the well-managed unions of the north and east for the relief of the mismanaged unions of the west and south—nor would there exist the danger of the non-repayment of our advances, which so many Members from Ireland now tell us plainly will never be repaid. The power to sell the land itself for satisfaction of the arrears of poor-rate, the Government has at length determined to be necessary; nor have I any doubt that, before long, they will equally open their eyes to the expediency of the other branch of my proposal of last year—namely, the productive employment of the thousands of ablebodied poor, whom they now insist on maintaining in idleness at the cost of the community. But if they will only make up their minds to this plain, common-sense principle at once, and without any further delay, they may give up their Rate in Aid Bill, with all its admitted faults and vices, its notorious perils and dangers; for I undertake to show them, that if they will only employ the ablebodied paupers of these western unions in productive labour, they will save all the cost of their maintenance—that is to say, they will obtain value in full for it; and as the ablebodied class composes at least two-thirds of the entire pauperism of those districts, and as the unions themselves are capable of defraying the cost of the remaining 986 one-third, that is, of the relief of the helpless poor, there will be no necessity for travelling beyond the bounds of those very districts for the ultimate repayment of the entire expenditure. I take as a sample the five unions of the county of Mayo, perhaps the worst circumstanced of all these districts, viz., the unions of Ballina, Ballinrobe, Westport, Swineford, and Castle-bar. I find from the inspector's report that the estimated number of paupers requiring relief in the coming summer is as follows, viz., Ballina, 27,000; Erris, 8,000; Ballinrobe, 25,000; Westport, 28,000; Castlebar, 18,000; Swineford, 24,000, making in all 130,000. Captain Hamilton reports that of the 27,000 paupers of the Ballina union, 4,500 consists of ablebodied men, having 14,000 persons dependent on them as their families. This will make 18,500 belonging to the ablebodied class of poor, out of 27,000 in all, or two-thirds, or more than two-thirds, of the whole. It is reasonable to presume that the same proportion of the ablebodied class to the whole number of paupers, prevails in the other unions of Mayo. Consequently, of the 130,000 likely to be chargeable this summer to these five unions, two-thirds, or upwards of 86,000, will belong to the class of ablebodied poor, and one-sixth of this number, or not quite 15,000, will be able-bodied men. Now, it is evident that if means could be found for setting to work these 15,000 ablebodied men productively, so as to get back the cost of their maintenance, you will reduce the actual loss or cost of maintenance of the poor of these five unions to only one-third of what it is, or will be, this summer—you will reduce it to an amount which the rates collected in the union itself may very fairly be expected to cover, as I find that last year about one-third of the expenditure for relief of the poor was so collected in these unions. If you can contrive to make the two-thirds of the paupers of these unions, consisting of the ablebodied class, self-supporting, the unions themselves may be expected to be competent to maintain the other one-third, consisting of the helpless poor alone. Now, I have often dwelt upon the notorious and admitted fact, that these western districts of Ireland afford a vast field for the production, and even profitable employment, of labour. This very county of Mayo alone has 800,000 acres, more than half its entire surface, in a state of primeval waste for want of labour; 470,000 acres of this is reclaimable with profit, according to Mr. Griffiths. 987 Is it possible to suppose that the labour of 15,000 men might not be advantageously employed upon this vast surface of useless land, in want of drainage and reclamation, through the ensuing summer months? But in addition to this resource, there are many thousand acres of land hitherto cultivated, and now lying waste. Mr. Brett, the able county surveyor of Mayo, in his evidence be fore the House of Lords' Committee on the Irish poor-law, estimates it at 50,000 acres—50,000 acres of arable land lying waste at this moment, and wholly unproductive, without stock, crop, or any thing but weeds growing on them. Could not means be devised, by the wisdom of statesmen, for setting to work the 15,000 ablebodied paupers, whom, with their families, we have got to maintain this summer, upon a portion, at least, of these 50,000 acres of land now lying waste and untenanted, and actually in pawn at this moment to the board of guardians for arrears of poor-rate? But if this is inadmissible, there are the unfinished and unrepaired roads of the county. Mr. Brett, the county surveyor, declares, in his evidence before the House of Lords' Committee, that the roads throughout the county are becoming absolutely impassable for want of labour on their repair, and the completion of those begun in 1847, the grand juries having refused to make presentments for the purpose, through the known impossibility of collecting the county cess. Why not, then, employ the 15,000 ablebodied paupers of the county on this work—at least work which would fully repay the entire cost of their relief, and that of their families? In proof of this assertion, I have to call the attention of the House to the statement given in the paper I hold in my hand, of the perfect success of an experiment of this kind, on a large scale, too, recently made in the county of Kilkenny, in the union of Callan. It appears that by some happy accident the board of guardians of that union have contrived to evade or set aside the usual prohibition issued by the Poor Law Commissioners against the employment of the ablebodied paupers on productive work of any kind; and, by leave of their sensible assistant-commissioner, they lately engaged the county surveyor, Mr. Carter, to find employment for their ablebodied poor in repairs and improvements of the county roads; and here I have the result in detail, 988 as given in his report. Mr. Carter reports that the work was entirely executed by the paupers, under careful superintendence, working at task-work, but for ration pay, given in meal, in the necessary quantity for the support of themselves and their families—just the same as the guardians must have paid them as outdoor paupers doing nothing, or breaking stones in quarries, where they were not wanted. And the result is, that their pay came, at the end of the quarter, to 736l. 2s. 9d., while the work done by them, valued at the usual prices of the county, amounted to 772l. 4s. 10d., giving a profit of 36l. 2s. over and above the saving of the entire maintenance of these ablebodied poor men and their families. Now, this is not a theory, but a fact. If the union of Callan were able to save the entire expense of maintaining their ablebodied poor, by employing them on this kind of public work, why could not the same thing be done in the five unions of Mayo, or the twenty-one unions for which we are passing a rate in aid? Will it be said that paupers will not work? Here I show you that they have worked in the union of Callan, and earned their entire maintenance, and more than that. Is it supposed that the poor of Mayo are more idle and demoralised than the poor of Kilkenny? I meet this by the evidence of Colonel Knox Gore, before the Lords' Committee. He said he had been recently employing, on an average, 1,000 labourers. He had taken them from the outdoor pauper list, and he found, after a few weeks, that they worked readily, willingly, and assiduously, and did their utmost to earn the very scanty wages he was able to pay them. Then look at the system you are pursuing. You are levying rates on all Ireland to support near 90,000 ablebodied paupers in the county of Mayo, comprising 15,000 working men, in mere idleness, through the coming summer, while the roads of Mayo are becoming impassable for want of labour to repair them, and the lands of Mayo are going out of cultivation for want of labour to dig and to sow, to drain and to hoe them. I ask you to reconcile this conduct, if you can, to common sense, common prudence, common justice. If the roads of Mayo would not absorb all its surplus labour productively, there are hundreds of thousands of acres of waste lands requiring reclamation; there are the wet lands requiring arterial drainage; finally, there are the lately cultivated lands thrown up 989 requiring tillage. Mr. Brett says many landowners would let these lands merely for the amount of the poor-rates. Why may not the guardians or the Poor Law Commissioners, to whom the arrears of rate from these lands are due, take them on lease and cultivate them by the labour of the idle paupers, and at least make them self-supporting—make them earn their maintenance? Surely, if only for the sake of keeping up the habit of work and industry among them, this would be desirable. But there is not a doubt that they would earn the full value of their maintenance, which would be repaid to you, who make the necessary advances, either by the crops of this autumn, or by the improved value of the land, drained or reclaimed, or, finally, in the case of road-work being prepared by a charge on the county cess. Having all these resources at hand for the productive employment of these idle paupers, and being obliged to advance the funds necessary for their maintenance as you are doing now, I say it is intolerable that you should be compulsorily taxing other districts wholly unconnected with these unions for the repayment of those advances which you persist in wasting on merely keeping alive the ablebodied poor. The example of England proves to you that it is consistent with a well-administered poor-law to apply the outdoor labour test to ablebodied paupers, and employ them on useful public works, when there is an extraordinary pressure on the rates. It has been often done in England with the sanction of the Poor Law Commissioners. It was done in no less than forty unions last winter. Employment was given generally on road works; but, in some cases, as in that of Sheffield I quoted to you the other day, in the reclamation and cultivation of waste lands. Why, when the urgency of the case is so much stronger, can you not resort to the same expedient in Ireland? Sir, the policy of refusing to do this seems to me so infatuated I know not how to characterise it. I venture to foretell that the common sense of the country will, before long, rise up against so ruinous a system; and that you will resort to the old Elizabethan practice of setting to work the ablebodied poor of the Irish unions. But if you will only do this immediately, you have no need of your rate in aid. You have only to advance the necessary funds on the credit of the rates, and the improved value derived from the productive 990 works will enable the unions to repay your advances with certainty. Meantime, you will have the security of the fee-simple of the lands liable to rate. You will thus reduce the pauperism of the west of Ireland to a very manageable compass. You will relieve the owners and occupiers of land there from that panic which is now driving the farmers to emigrate to America with their capital, and which is indisposing capitalists from purchasing or renting land there. Relieve the rates from the pressure of the ablebodied poor by productive employment, for which these districts afford so ample and promising a field, and you remove that impediment which will otherwise render your Incumbered Estates Bill and Sale of Land Commission of no use, from the unwillingness of parties to buy or to lease land there under present circumstances. You have in the west of Ireland a vast field for productive industry. You have a population willing to work that field, and develop its latent wealth, if only they be employed at a bare living wages on it. You are obliged to find capital wherewith to maintain them. I say, apply it in such a way as to render them self-supporting, at least in such a way as to commence the work of improvement that is wanting, and, at the same time, set the example of industry and energy, and remove the bar which now deters private capitalists from entering on the same field. The spell once broken, the work would go on of itself. The rates reduced by productive employment, owners and occupiers will set themselves to work after your example. Capital will spontaneously flow in, both for purchase of land and its improvement, and all your difficulties will vanish, and an era of growing prosperity commence. Having this opinion of the inexpediency of the course that is now pursued, and the far preferable character of that I have pointed out, I, Sir, can only repeat now the vote I gave against the principle of this Bill on the second reading.
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
asked, if hon. Gentlemen had read the accounts just received from Mayo? If they had, it was impossible for them to believe that the utmost amount to be raised under this Bill would be at all adequate to the growing increase of distress. Three-fourths of the unfortunate inhabitants of Mayo were without clothing, houses, and employment. In such a state of things, the rate in aid would have the effect of increasing the evil, and 991 of stopping employment, because a greater number of substantial people would be driven out of the country. In his opinion, assistance could best be rendered by the Government undertaking large works of public improvement, so as to give an immediate stimulus to employment. He was utterly astonished at the course pursued by the English Liberal Members—by the advocates of popular liberty, and those who contended that there ought to be no taxation without representation—in supporting a Bill that violated every principle of constitutional liberty. He had himself proposed an Amendment on this Bill on a recent occasion, and he found that not one single Liberal English Member divided with him. The present case was an extra one—it was a case of famine; and as such it ought to be provided for, not by the poor-laws, but out of the imperial exchequer. He was quite willing that Ireland should bear her fair share of the general taxation; but so long as the Union existed, he could not consent that Ireland should be exclusively taxed for what were justly imperial purposes. They had been told that by opposing this measure they contributed to increase starvation and want. If he thought that the measure would save the people from starvation, it should have his support, were it even ten times more unconstitutional than it was; but when he saw that the money already granted had not that effect, but that death from starvation was still advancing with rapid strides throughout the land, he did not want to allow this money to be expended in a similar manner. He thought that other steps ought to be taken. They were well aware of the fearful extent to which the ejectment system added to the mass of pauperism in Ireland; but if they thought it wrong, why was that system allowed to continue? He believed there never was a measure more calculated than the present to deprive this country of all moral weight among the Irish people; and believing, as he did believe, that it was also most unconstitutional, he felt it to be his duty, not merely as an Irishman, but as an English representative, to give it his most decided opposition.
§ MR. GRATTAN
was glad to hear the intimation of the noble Lord, as to his intention to make larger advances than he had at first contemplated for the relief of the perishing people of the west of Ireland. He (Mr. Grattan) had just received letters from Ireland to the effect that the distress 992 of the west was rapidly extending to the north and south of Ireland; in fact, undertaking for funerals appeared to be the best trade in Ireland now-a-days. Captain Larcom had stated that 16,000,000 quarters of grain had been produced in Ireland during the last year, which, if they had been retained in that country, would have maintained double the population. And yet the people, notwithstanding that more than abundant harvest, were allowed to die of starvation. Did they think that an Irish Parliament would have allowed such a horrible state of things to take place? Would not an Irish Parliament have imposed an embargo on the ports, have shut up the distilleries, and, in fact, taken every necessary step for the preservation of the lives of the people? When the noble Lord's country was threatened in 1795 with a French invasion, Ireland (although England was not then in a distressed condition) generously determined on raising a force of 40,000 Irishmen to strengthen the arms of England against her Continental foes, and voted 200,000l. to defray the expenses of that force. He would, therefore, ask whether the United Parliament was dealing generously or justly with Ireland in her present calamitous condition? The present measure was fraught with ruin to the few who still possessed a little capital in Ireland. If they merely did justice to the people of Ireland, all their difficulties would vanish. He hoped to see the day when the lords and ladies of the empire would coin their spoons, and take the bracelets off their arms, not to bear down, but to raise up the people. England was not asserting her position; she was making war with Mr. Duffy, instead of applying her energies to meet the difficulties of her position, and instead of asserting her eminence among the nations of the earth. England had destroyed the agriculture and manufactures of Ireland. Where were these things to end? As long as they drained the country of her gentry, they would never be able to afford the people employment; and as long as they were in want of employment, there would be no prosperity in the land. They might try plantation schemes as much as they liked; they would never succeed while those who derived their rents from the land were absentees. Let them tell the people not to pay one shilling of rent to an absentee proprietor. That would be an intelligible proposition. He implored the noble Lord to follow some portion of the advice of the 993 right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth. But let him not he deceived, and think that if he obtained a new set of proprietors, he would have saved the property of the country. He would vote for the third reading of the Bill.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, he should commence the observations which he had to make on this Bill, by entering his protest against the invidious distinctions that had been drawn by the Gentleman opposite, the Member for Bridport, between different sections of the Irish Members; such comparisons ought to be given up. He had also to protest against the manner in which the hon. Member alluded to the restoration of the Irish Parliament, as being equivalent to a separation between the two countries. He believed that the tendency of the present debate was in favour of a restoration to Ireland of her just rights; and his firm conviction was, that the repeal of the Union would lead to a more real and sound connexion between the two countries than had over been witnessed before. He should also protest against what the hon. Gentleman had said as to the former grants having produced the bad consequences that they now sought to struggle against. The present state of the country was owing to the recurrence of the famine, and not to the dole of money—large, he admitted, under other circumstances, but small and inefficient under the amount of evil which it was intended to check. As to the Bill before the House, be had voted for it, because a most harsh and cruel alternative was alone held out—that of electing between it and a still worse measure. But if hon. Gentlemen would not listen to the advocates of repeal, they ought to pay some attention to the representations of those Irish Members who had always opposed the repeal agitation. Were it only from a feeling of gratitude for past services, the aristocracy of the country ought now to be attended to by this country. He was grateful to the noble Lord at the head of the Government—for at present people should be grateful for even common humanity—for the promise that the miserable dole of 5,000l. or 6,000l. a week was to be increased. By the niggardliness of that House, and of the English people, the funds had been heretofore doled out in so wretchedly inefficient a manner that hundreds of thousands of the people had perished of absolute starvation. Even if successful to the utmost of their hopes, this Bill would only keep the wretched 994 pauper population in that state between life and death which was hardly preferable to death itself, whilst the vast population outside the walls of the workhouses were loft absolutely destitute. It was a mockery that ought to bring back shame on the name of England to describe as relief the misplaced and cruel economy and niggardliness that brought such fearful destruction among the Irish people. It was not the west of Ireland alone that was in distress. He had letters from gentlemen residing in the neighbourhood of Kilkenny, in which were described scenes of distress of the most dreadful character, while from other parts of Ireland, whose means of access to the metropolis were, comparatively speaking, difficult, he had received communications giving him details of terrible scenes of desolation and misery, which were not to be surpassed even in the west. Of what use, then, would such a measure as this be in stemming so dreadful a torrent? If the House really wished to relieve Ireland of much of her distress, why let it interfere to put a stop to that horrible system of reckless evictions which at present disgraced some portion of the landed interest of Ireland. He knew in a few cases there might be an excuse for such proceedings in the frightful reduction which had latterly taken place in the value of landed property in Ireland; but, nevertheless, the House or the Government ought to interfere to prevent these gross and cruel outrages upon public decency. The Cork Examiner of last week gave a most horrifying account of some evictions which had recently taken place on the property of Mr. Marshall Leason, of the country of Kerry; and while such occurrences were allowed to take place, it was hopeless to expect the condition of the people to be improved by measures of this description. No doubt the landlords were rendered desperate by their own sufferings; but again, he repeated, that was no excuse why Government or the House should not interfere to suppress such a practice. It was driving the farmer class from the land, who were the staff and yeomanry of the country: it was killing the poor by thousands, while it hardened and brutalised those who could still maintain their footing upon the ground; and therefore, no question, whether of foreign or colonial importance—whether relating to England or any of her dependencies—ought to be entertained until something were done to stop the progress of so terrible a system. 995 It was to the farmer and smaller landholders that they must look for the regeneration of Ireland; and to preserve that class it was absolutely necessary that some steps should be at once taken to prevent these wholesale evictions. Another unfortunate circumstance, which dreadfully affected Ireland, was the quarter-acre clause of the poor-law. That clause had been the means of universally denying relief to the hungry and the famished all over Ireland. No man who held more than a quarter of an acre of land could claim relief under the poor-law, and the result was that thousands perished of absolute starvation, because they were refused relief on that account. The British public—the British Parliament—ought not, upon an occasion like this, when adversity had not only paralysed the energies of the people, but was rapidly depopulating the land, to grudge money to Ireland; but as a measure of humanity, if not of justice, they ought cheerfully to come forward to the assistance of unfortunate Ireland. England was ready enough to spend her money upon the improvement of her public buildings and monuments, but denied to Ireland the means—trifling though they were—of preserving her people from hunger? When the future historian came to relate the terrible events of the day, and to point to the splendid edifices which adorned the great cities of this country, built up in the present time, what would be the reflections of the succeeding generation which might happen to dip into his pages? Why, of shame and humiliation, that their forefathers should have been extravagant in gratifying their own tastes, while the people of the sister kingdom were crying out for help against a visitation with which it had pleased Providence to smite them. Let the House, then, take warning in time, and by raising up and fostering an independent and industrious class of agriculturists in Ireland, save the country from absolute ruin, and their own name from being stigmatised with cruelty in the future.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
still believed that the measure would prove a failure, although, like other Members who had spoken against it, he was quite prepared to submit to any tax which was calculated to benefit Ireland, if just in its principle. The responsibility of the failure of this measure, therefore, would not rest upon them, but upon the Government, who were inducing the House to advance money upon insufficient 996 security. It would seem that Government felt they could not get the money to meet the present distress from the House, and hence they had recourse for it to Ireland itself; and certainly, if Ireland had the money, that would be a fair and proper course; but he was prepared to prove that the money could not be got from Ireland. One-half of the unions and electoral divisions of Ireland were in a state of bankruptcy and absolute pauperism, and therefore the whole of this tax must fall upon the other half of Ireland. Now, how was it possible that in such a state of things Ireland could raise this money? The thing was perfectly delusive. The noble Lord at the head of the Government complained that he had received most distressing accounts from Ireland of the sufferings of the people: well, so had nearly every Irish Member in that House; but who was responsible for that suffering? Why, surely, the noble Lord, for he was warned of these passing events long ago, so far back indeed as the commencement of last year. The whole Irish Members, as a body, foresaw the return of the famine, and took every opportunity of warning the Government that in their past, and in fact their present, poor-law policy, they were pursuing an extreme system, which must eventually result in the entire loss of their money. By a return for one of the recent half-year's expenditure in the present modes of relief, it appeared that 700,000l. had been altogether expended, of which 200,000l. was for the expense of spending it. Now, was it possible that any country could continue to go on evenly under such a state of things as that? In his view of the case, there ought to be a maximum rate for the support of the poor, beyond which no union nor division should be allowed to go; and then, if the locality could not support its own poor, the whole united kingdom should be equally responsible for the excess. That was a question which applied with as much force to England as Ireland; so far, however, as it regarded this country it had yet to be debated; it had been commenced in reference to Ireland, but ere long it must be taken up with the view of applying it to the whole of the united kingdom. At the time of the union it was agreed that the manufactures of Ireland should be destroyed—that the manufactures of Ireland should be destroyed upon condition that she was to have an exclusive supply of agricultural produce to this country. Now that bargain had been broken by the repeal 997 of the corn laws, no doubt for the advantage of the community generally; but no benefit was likely to accrue from it to Ireland. Under these circumstances, Ireland had some claim in her present emergency upon Parliament and the country; for the House might depend upon it that the greatest misery Ireland could ever suffer, would be the want of a market to obtain a remunerative price for her agricultural produce. She had no other resource but agriculture to depend upon—and destroy that, and you annihilate the people. This rate ought not to be confined to one particular part of the kingdom; to be just, it ought to extend to the whole. And here he must be allowed to say, that he was glad to find hon. Gentlemen opposite desirous, not so much of opposing the principle of voting the 50,000l. as a grant, as of being let into the secret of how the money was spent. Well, now, that was a very just ground to take up, for he held in his hand a return of the money advanced to Ireland, and he found that there was no account given whatever of the way in which the 4,500,000l. was expended under the provisions of the Labour Rate Act. That, in his opinion, was quite sufficient to induce any body of English Members not to vote in favour of grants, and a complete justification for the unwillingness of the House to grant further sums to Ireland. That anxiety, however, to know how the money was expended, ought not to be confined to Ireland, but ought to extend to the entire imperial treasury; and it was with that feeling he warned the House that, in passing this measure, they were voting money without taking sufficient security for its repayment. Before he sat down there was one other difficulty standing in the way of Irish improvement, which he must be allowed briefly to advert to. He meant the attacks which the press of this country had made upon Ireland, particularly those papers which were supposed to be under the influence of Government. These attacks were well calculated to set the feelings of the people of this country against Ireland; for no class in Ireland escaped the calumny of some portion of the English press; and the difficulty was, that when Government felt disposed to deal out justice to Ireland, they found the feelings which these attacks gave rise to standing in their way. He hoped, however, that in future, the press would act with more liberality to Ireland; and without detaining the House further, he would sit down with simply reminding 998 those English Members who supported this Bill, that the opinions of Ireland upon it might be gathered from the fact, that while 172 petitions had been sent from that country against it, only one had been presented in its favour.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 55: Majority 74.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Acland, Sir T. O.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Kershaw, J.|
|Anderson, A.||Kildare, Marq. of|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Lewis, G. C.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Lushington, C.|
|Baines, M. T.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Maitland, T.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Beckett, W.||Masterman, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Matheson, Col.|
|Bernal, R.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Bright, J.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Brotherton, J.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Brown, H.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Brown, W.||Morison, Sir W.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Morris, D.|
|Busfeild, W.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Butler, F. S.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Carter, J. B.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Clay, J.||O'Brien, J.|
|Clay, Sir W.||O'Connor, F.|
|Cobden, R.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Craig, W. G.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Denison, W. J.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C. T.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Divett, E.||Parker, J.|
|Drummond, H.||Pilkington, J.|
|Duncan, G.||Pinney, W.|
|Duncuft, J.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Power, N.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Price, Sir R.|
|Ellis, J.||Pryse, P.|
|Evans, J.||Reid, Col.|
|Evans, W.||Reynolds, J.|
|Fagan, W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Forster, M.||Rich, H.|
|Fox, W. J.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Freestun, Col.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Granger, T. C.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Greenall, G.||Salwey, Col.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Harris, R.||Smith, J. B.|
|Hastie, A.||Somers, J. P.|
|Hastie, A.||Somerville, rt. hn. SirW.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Henry, A.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Hey worth, L.||Tanered, H. W.|
|Hindley, C.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Thornely, T.||Willyams, H.|
|Traill, G.||Wilson, J.|
|Trelawny, J. S.||Wilson, M.|
|Villiers, hon. C.||Wood, rt. hon. S.|
|Vivian, J. H.||Wyld, J.|
|Watkins, Col. L.|
|Wawn, J. T.||TELLERS.|
|Wellesley, Lord C.||Tufnell, H.|
|Williams, J.||Bellew, R. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Alexander, N.||Grattan, H.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Greene, J.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Grogan, E.|
|Bankes, G.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bateson, T.||Herbert, H A.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Beresford, W.||Horsman, E.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Keogh, W.|
|Blake, M. J.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Bourke, R. S.||Manners, Lord J. S.|
|Bromley, R.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Meagher, T.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Monsell, W.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Newport, Visct.|
|Conolly, T.||Nugent, Sir P.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Crawford, W. S.||O'Connell, J.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Packe, C. W.|
|Disraeli, B.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Rawdon, Col.|
|Fagan, J.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Spooner, R.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Sullivan, M.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Fox, R. M.||Young, Sir J.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||TELLERS.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Jones, Capt.|
|Granby, Marq, of||Castlereagh, Visct.|
§ Main question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read 3°, and passed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the title be 'An Act to make provision, until the thirty-first day of December, one thousand eight hundred and fifty, for a General Rate in Aid of certain distressed Unions and Electoral Divisions in Ireland.'
§ COLONEL RAWDON
remarked, that the word "general," in the title, was at variance with the intention of the Bill. The contents of the Bill only applied to a proportionary part of the united kingdom, and in lieu of the word "general," it would be more in conformity with the contents of the Bill if the word "separate" were inserted instead. He felt it to be his duty to enter his protest, now that the Bill had passed, against this innovation of the Act of Union, which he considered the House had broken through most unjustifiably. If they adopted the word "general," it would imply that the rate extended over the whole country, which it ought to do under the Act of Union. There was another objection he had to the Bill, or rather, 1000 he wished to propose the insertion of two words into the title, which would make more explanatory the objects of the Bill; besides, if these words were not introduced, it might lay the Irish representatives who had opposed it open to the obnoxious charge of having opposed it from motives of inhumanity. The reason which had induced the Irish Members to oppose the Bill was simply that the parts of the country upon which it was proposed to levy the rate were better off than those which the rate was intended to relieve, while they felt that it would most materially cripple the working of the poor-law in Ireland. He should, therefore, like to add two other words to the title, and he did not think there would be any serious objection on the part of the Government to adding them. He wished to insert after the word "certain," the words "other more," which would make the title read thus—" To make temporary provision for the support by a rate in aid of certain other more distressed unions and electoral divisions in Ireland." That, he thought, would show the people of England the reason why the Irish Members stood up against the Bill to the last, because there were other portions of the country but little removed from the destitution which the rate was intended to remove.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "general," and insert the word "separate" instead thereof.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
thought that the word in question was not open to objection. The word "general" was used as in the case of the income tax, which was said to be a general tax on property and income; and as the assessed taxes were said to be general, although they applied only to England and Scotland, and not to Ireland, he thought that the word general might be used as well in the present case as in those he had pointed out.
§ Question "That the word 'general' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to. Title agreed to.