§ Order for consideration of Lords' Amendments, read.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
rose and said: Mr. Speaker, before the House proceeds to take into consideration the proposals I have to make in regard to those important measures of which I have given notice, I should wish the House to have the benefit of a statement of your opinion with respect 1040 to the Amendments which the Lords have introduced into this Bill, in as far as they affect the privileges of this House. I will reserve what I have to say on the subject as affecting the several Amendments made by the Lords, and more especially in regard to the omission of Clauses 1 and 2, until the House shall have been favoured with your view on the question of privilege.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I know not how I can better answer the question put by the noble Lord than by stating to the House what is the rule which governs the practice of the House with reference to amendments made by the Lords in Bills of this description. The rule is this, that the Lords may amend Bills for the relief of the poor, if the amendment does not in any way amount to an interference with the disposition or collection of the rate to be levied, or with the persons who have the control or management of the rate. This rule has always been strictly adhered to with regard to all private Bills authorising the levying of local rates; but there have been some occasions with reference to public Bills in which the House of Commons has agreed to waive the point, and not insist on an adherence to its privileges. The precedents which have occurred in more recent years are those of the English Poor Law Bill of 1834, the Irish Poor Law Bill of 1833, the Irish Municipal Bill of the same year, and, lastly, the Irish Amended Poor Law Bill of 1847. It is quite obvious that a large number of the Amendments which have been made by the Lords in the present Bill, do most decidedly infringe upon the privileges of this House. The first two clauses of the Bill as it was sent up by this House, proposed a certain maximum amount of rate to be levied, first, upon the electoral divisions, and then upon the unions. By the omission of those two clauses, the Lords have increased the amount of the rates to be imposed; or at any rate have imposed a different amount of rate from that which the Bill, originally sent up to them by the Commons, had declared should be imposed. It will be for the House to say, whether they will follow the precedents in which I have alluded, and waive their privileges on this occasion; or whether they will maintain them. If the House should resolve to adhere to the latter alternative, the Lords' Amendments, of course, must be rejected.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
After having had your opinion, Sir, as to the question of 1041 privileges, and as to what the House has done in similar instances on former occasions, I will now state the view which I take of this subject, and the mode in which I think it is expedient the House should act while taking into consideration these Amendments. I cannot for a moment differ, Sir, from your statement, that the omission of Clauses 1 and 2—to say nothing of any of the other Amendments—do infringe upon the privileges of this House, as has been most clearly laid down by you. At the same time, Sir, you have stated, both with respect to the English Poor Law and to the Irish Poor Law, that the House of Commons has so far waived its privileges as to allow amendments to be made by the Lords which certainly did infringe upon those privileges. With regard to the first Irish Poor Law Bill in 1838, one of the amendments made by the Lords was the introduction of electoral divisions. The effect of that amendment was, that instead of having an equal rate over the whole union, the rates in different parts of the union were exceedingly various in amount—some parties paying not leas than 10s. in one part of the union, while others were paying only 6d. or 10d. in another part of the union; thereby charging particular districts and particular persons—namely, the inhabitants of those districts—very variously, and imposing a greater rate of tax upon some parties than the House of Commons had originally agreed to. With respect to the last poor-law of 1847, hon. Members will recollect that that Bill as it passed this House imposed a rate of 1s. 3d. in the half-year, or 2s. 6d. in the year, upon the electoral division, leaving any remaining charges that might be incurred by the electoral division to be defrayed by the whole union. The House of Lords omitted that provision, and introduced other provisions of a totally different nature. In both these cases—as well that of the original Irish Poor Law of 1838, as of the amended Irish Poor Law of 1847—this House consented to discuss the amendments made by the Lords, and they finally consented to the adoption, in the first instance, of the Amendment which was introduced by the Lords; and, in the the second instance, to the omission which had been made by the Lords. In both those instances I imagine that the privileges of the House of Commons were as clearly and as positively affected by the alterations made by the House of Lords, as they are in the case now before us. I do 1042 not think, therefore, on the ground of precedent, that we should feel ourselves hound to assert the privileges of the House of Commons on the present occasion. That being so, it is for the House now to consider whether it is advisable with regard to these Amendments that we should assert those privileges. I own it appears to me that, so long as the House of Lords confine themselves to amending the poor-law, with a view to effect better legislation on the subject of a legal provision for the poor, and not for the sake of increasing the amount of rates, or with the especial view of imposing a tax upon the subject, it is not expedient that we should assert our privileges in that respect. With regard to legislation in reference to the condition of the poor, it must be acknowledged by all to be a subject of very great importance, and one concerning which both Houses of Parliament should be entitled to give an opinion. I think legislation is likely to proceed more harmoniously between the two Houses of Parliament if we do not assert our privileges on an occasion of that kind. If we were strictly to assert those privileges, I do not see how any progress could be made in amending the poor-law, either as regards this country or Ireland, because scarcely any amendment can be made by the Lords which would not affect the rate in some degree. For these reasons I shall propose to the House to consider the Amendments of the Lords without regard to the question as to the privileges of the House being in any way affected by them, and without deeming it necessary that those privileges should be asserted so far as the present Amendments are concerned. I believe that the Amendments have been introduced by the House of Lords with a view to amend, in their opinion, the law relating to the poor in Ireland. That, I conceive, to be a subject upon which they are fairly entitled to give an opinion, and respecting which they have a right to propose such amendments as they think would conduce to the better management of the poor in Ireland. Therefore, to bring the question to an issue, I now propose that the House agree to the Lords' Amendments, omitting Clauses 1 and 2 of the Commons' Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Amendments be now read a Second Time."
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
Sir, I can assure the House, that, upon a question affecting the ancient and undoubted privileges of 1043 this representative assembly, I venture to differ with very great regret and diffidence from the noble Lord at the head of the Government. But entertaining, as I do, great doubts upon the matter, and cordially agreeing with you, Sir, in the desire that those ancient and undoubted privileges should be reasonably and justly maintained, I do not think I should discharge my duty if, before the House came to a decision, I failed to express what is my impression with regard to these Amendments. For the sake of discussing them in the most satisfactory manner, it is right to consider the constitutional question altogether apart from the merits of the alterations which the Lords have made in the Bill. But to prove to the House that I am not prejudiced in that respect, and that I am not actuated by a feeling hostile to these Amendments, I beg to remind the House that I, when the Bill was before this House, objected to the maximum clauses, and agreed in substance with the Amendments of the Lords. But to return to the great constitutional question involved in this matter, I will proceed to state what is the apprehension which now weighs upon my mind. I shall begin by adverting to that most important declaration from the Chair, that were it not for a few precedents of recent date, these alterations by the Lords which we are now considering, do interfere with the ancient and undoubted privileges of the Commons' House of Parliament. Without going back to antiquated cases, or referring to the authorities in the pages of Hatsell with regard to the unwritten law of Parliament, we have had it stated from the Chair, what none who make it their business to attend to these questions can doubt, that the privilege claimed by the Commons is this—that the Lords may amend any Bill except such clauses as relate to taxation, whether general or local; but with respect to those clauses the Lords cannot interfere, either with regard to the amount of the tax to be levied, or the mode of collecting the tax, or with respect to the persons who shall collect it, or the persons who shall pay the tax, or those who shall receive it. I do not think I have overstated in the least the privilege on which this House in the best times of its history has always insisted. We then come to the consideration of the recent relaxations to which the noble Lord has referred. They are both of recent date, and were limited, if my memory serves me correctly, to the question 1044 affecting the levying of poor-rates. The first case was one of considerable importance, but not of direct interference; it was that of the Irish Poor Law of 1838. Incidentally, there certainly was a great change introduced into that Bill on the part of the House of Lords. It chiefly concerned the area of taxation. The Bill, as sent up by the Commons, enacted that the rate should be levied in the unions. The Lords narrowed the area of taxation, and substituted for unions electoral divisions within the unions. Incidentally, therefore, the Lords, pro tanto, by narrowing the area, increased the burden upon the ratepayers living within the smaller districts. If I mistake not, a special memorandum was left with you by your predecesor, Sir, with a view to place on record a strong opinion that this was an interference which ought not to be drawn into a precedent. In the year 1847, again dealing with the Irish Poor Law, the same relaxation was made upon the precedent of 1838, and a more direct interference on the part of the House of Lords was submitted to by this House. Still, after giving the utmost effect to these precedents, I contend that the interference of the House of Lords on the present occasion goes infinitely farther than any precedent that has been quoted, or that can be produced. If we admit an interference of so extensive a nature with our privileges with respect to the subject of the poor-rate, the better and more consistent course on the part of this House would be to abandon its privileges directly and for ever, so far as poor-rates are concerned; for, should this interference be now allowed, I do not see how this House can ever hereafter stand up for its privileges, whatever may be the interference on the part of the House of Lords. Just observe—the first two clauses of the Bill which the Commons sent up to the Lords limited the rate at the maximum of 5s. on the electoral division; and the rate in aid, when that maximum should be exceeded, which was to be imposed on the union, was limited to 2s. So that in no case could the ratepayer in Ireland be compelled by force of law to pay more than 7s. in the pound in the year. Now, the Lords have struck out both those limitations, and have left the ratepayer liable to an unlimited amount of rate. The Commons said that the ratepayers should under no circumstances pay more than 7s., while the Lords say that 1045 no limits whatever shall be assigned. So much for the quantum of the rate. But that is not all. The Commons made fresh property subject to the rate; they charged jointures and annuities, as well as other property not now liable, with alleviating the burden on the present ratepayers. The Lords struck out that clause. Thus the Lords have left the present ratepayer liable to an unlimited charge, and, at the same time, have rejected the proposition for bringing in fresh property as the subject of rating, thereby indirectly aggravating the burden of the present charge. They have inserted a clause by which a tenant being in arrear for more than a year, and being unable to pay up his rates, shall be subject to ejectment. This is a clause of a most painful character, and will be viewed by the tenantry of Ireland with the utmost jealousy. The House of Lords have thus inflicted on the tenant a new penalty for nonpayment of the poor-rate, notwithstanding all the covenants and restrictions to which he is already subjected by his lease. But don't let me mislead the House on this point. I am aware that the noble Lord has given notice of his intention to reject that clause. Let us not confuse the question of the merits of these Amendments with the constitutional question which I am at present arguing. I am now fairly stating the extent of the interference of the Lords; and in arguing that question of interference, and in pointing out what are the clauses which affect the privileges of your House, it is necessary that the whole extent of that interference should be brought under your view. I have thus stated to the House what is the extent of that interference. It is for the House to consider, if we waive our privileges with respect to the poor-rate, how are we to take our stand with respect to other local rates? What are we to say with respect to the highway rates, with respect to the county rate, and another topic I will mention—what are we to say with respect to the church rate? May not the House of Lords, if we agree thus to abandon our privileges in respect to poor-rate, frame an enactment with regard to church rates, and send it down to the Commons? As matters now stand, that question is exciting very angry feelings in this country. What would be the only becoming course for this House in such a case to pursue? Our language to the House of Lords ought to be—"We take a preliminary objection to your proceeding; we say this is not your 1046 province; you have no right to deal à priori with this matter; we stand upon our privilege and reject your measure." But if for the sake of avoiding all angry feeling, we forego that preliminary question, and agree to debate the measure; or, if we give way, and abandon our privilege with respect to the poor-rate, I, for one, reserving my judgment to be corrected by superior information and better lights, am not prepared to say that we could make a stand, founded on reason and precedent, respecting any one of the local rates I have mentioned. But is this subject new to the House? Was not this very question, as to what extent we should waive our privileges in matters concerning local taxation, referred, at the instance of the Government, to a Select Committee in the course of last Session? I see many hon. Members on the opposite benches with whom I had the honour of being associated in that Committee. We investigated the matter with the greatest care, we deliberated upon it, and some very strong arguments were stated on both sides of the question; we went into the Committee predisposed, with a view of consulting the public convenience in regard to a more equal division of labour between the two Houses of Parliament, to recommend a large relaxation of our privileges, and thereby enable the House of Lords to initiate measures affecting local taxation. But after careful consideration, after consulting the highest authorities, and hearing the opinions of the most experienced Members, we came to an unanimous opinion that any such relaxation would be dangerous to our privileges. A very limited relaxation, however, was recommended, and that recommendation was embodied in a Standing Order, which was passed during the present Session. My hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford moved as an amendment to that limited Standing Order the following Resolution:—That, in order to facilitate the passing of Bills through Parliament, this House will not insist upon its privileges in respect of any Bills, Clauses, or Amendments which may be brought from the House of Lords whereby tolls, rates, or duties are authorised, imposed, or regulated, provided the same shall be assessed and levied by local authorities, and shall not be applied to the public service.My hon. Friend thus recorded his opinion; but that opinion being opposed and contrary to the sense of the House, he did not venture to go to a division upon it, and 1047 it only stands on our journals as a record that this House deliberately adhered to the recommendation of the Committee, and rejected the extension of the privilege to the House of Lords, as proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford. Now, Sir, I must ask the House whether they think that this is the precise moment when, with a view to expediency, and to prevent the possibility of needless collision between the two branches of the Legislature, we should be called upon to consent to an enlargement of the powers of the other House of Parliament, or to make any abridgment of our own? I confess, looking at the temper of the times, and at the nature of the many questions pending, and which are likely to become hereafter the subjects of discussion, I am warned by the danger I foresee, and am disposed to take my stand on the safe and sure ground of the ancient and undoubted privileges of this House. I see no reason whatever for departing from them. Are the Amendments of so much importance, even if the considerations I have submitted to you are ill-founded or not of much weight—is there, I say, anything so attractive in the alterations made in the Bill as to induce us, in the case of difficulty, to depart from the exercise of our privileges? I must allude here to some other Amendments. I have only stated part of the interference of the House of Lords. We sent up the Bill with certain clauses, which appear to me of primary importance, giving a remedy in case of accumulated arrears against the corpus of the estate, and giving power to sell the estate in small portions, for the recovery of the arrears. All those clauses have been struck out by the House of Lords. Are the noble Lord and the Government so sure of their majority in the other House that if, on this occasion, we waive our privileges, with all the disadvantages of the waiver, they will be able to give effect to their views? Is it not possible that, after all, the Lords may insist upon their Amendments, and by succeeding in insisting on them place this House in the disadvantageous position, after having waived their privileges, of having lost the Bill, in the desire to obtain which they departed from the sure ground of standing upon their undoubted rights? I have really no personal feeling in this matter. In many of the alterations made by the Lords, I agree; but still, in a case of this kind, though I differ from the noble Lord with hesitation and doubt, because I am sure 1048 our objects are the same, namely, to uphold in a manner safe and reasonable, and with a view to the future security of the State, the privileges of this House, yet on a matter of this very great importance, and considering the juncture of affairs in which we are called upon to discuss and decide it, I feel that I should have failed in my duty to the House if, before the House came to a decision on it, I had not shortly, but as clearly as I could, stated the reasons why I am disposed, I will not say to resist the Motion of the noble Lord, but to beg of him and the House carefully to consider the question before they come to a final decision.
§ SIR G. GREY
Sir, there can be no doubt as to the importance of the question to which the right hon. Gentleman has called the attention of the House, with respect to the maintenance of the just and reasonable privileges which the House has always felt it to be its duty to maintain. Without entering at all into the merits of the particular Amendments made in the Bill by the other House, I wish to call the attention of the House to what I conceive to be an important distinction, which was lost sight of by the right hon. Gentleman, between the decision which the Committee upon Public Business came to with respect to the waiver of our privileges on questions relating to local rates, and the course which is proposed in this instance by my noble Friend. It was proposed to the Committee, and afterwards proposed to the House, that once for all we should agree, in all cases of local taxation, to waive the privileges of the House—to surrender those privileges, in fact, by a distinct resolution of the House, founded upon the recommendation of the Committee. I think the decision of this House, on the occasion in which this proposal was brought under their notice by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, was a sound and a wise decision, and that it would have been most unwise and impolitie to have surrendered altogether, by a single resolution, the right which we now maintain, to insist upon our privileges in any case in which we think the public interest demands that they should be insisted upon. The course now pursued by the noble Lord does not in the least degree bind us for the future. No doubt it would have this effect on our future course, that it would add one to the string of precedents with respect to poor-rates in which we have not thought it necessary to insist upon the ancient privileges 1049 of the House. The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken in stating that the first instance of our departing from the privileges of the House, was in the case of the Irish Poor Law of 1838. If I understood you right, Sir, I think you said that the first occasion with respect to poor-rates on which our privileges were not insisted upon was when your predecessor, Lord Canterbury, was in the chair, in the case of the English Poor Law of 1834, and that we followed the same course with regard to the original Irish Poor Law in 1838, and the Irish Municipal Bill of the same year, and again in 1847. The real question is whether, looking at these precedents, which are confined to municipal rating and poor-rates, we should now insist upon the privileges of the House by rejecting the consideration of the Lords' Amendments, and revert to the original practice of strictly insisting upon our privileges, even in cases where the subject of the imposition of poor-rates, the collection of the rates, the distribution of the rates, and the area of taxation are so mixed up with the general question of the poor-law, that we can hardly expect the assent of the House of Lords to anything relating to the poor-laws, either of England or Ireland, if we exclude them from the consideration of the questions which necessarily pervade any Bill of this kind, and which constitute the principal element of any change in the law. It is certainly a subject on which the House should act with great caution; but, looking to the course which has been hitherto pursued, and to the necessary connexion of those parts of the Bill which you have said fall within the rule of our privileges with the general question of the poor-law, I submit that we ought not, irrespective of the merits of the Amendments, to refuse to entertain the consideration of the Amendments. I said I would not touch upon the merits of the particular Amendments; but perhaps, after what the right hon. Gentleman has said, the House will permit me just to say that, with respect to the omission of the two first clauses, the Amendment of the Lords, though no doubt a violation of the privileges of this House, does not impose any new rate or new tax upon any party beyond what the existing law imposes. It is not as if in the original Bill there had been a limited rate, and the Lords had made it unlimited. They merely leave the law in the state in which it was. Under these circumstances, and reserving 1050 our full rights as regards church rates, county rates, and even poor-rates, when we think insisting on our privileges necessary for the public interest, and not waiving our rights by any general resolution, as we should have waived them if we had adopted the Motion of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford at the beginning of this Session, I trust the House will proceed to the consideration of the Amendments.
§ MR. F. FRENCH
was anxious that the view taken by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon should not be adopted by the House. It was most extraordinary that a stand should at this moment be made upon a question of privilege. When the poor-law was originally introduced in 1838, the Lords made some important Amendments in it, in a manner that, in his opinion, tended to ruin many districts. Why was not a stand then made upon a question of privilege? He hoped the Amendments would be adopted, for their whole scope and object was to check the legislation of that House, which seemed to have proceeded on the principle that Ireland was to be regenerated by every interest connected with it being ruined.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the objection taken by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon had been left wholly unanswered. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had only narrowed the question to a very simple issue, whether by continuing the course of precedent they would not be virtually giving up their privileges with regard to poor-rates. In his (Mr. Henley's) opinion any privilege which rested, as this did, upon unbroken usage, must be utterly swept away if they went on, day after day, giving way in the manner proposed by the noble Lord. If the course now proposed was pursued, and if hereafter the Commons attempted to set up their privilege, they would be involved in a discussion with the other House whether the privilege existed or not. They were actually cutting the ground from under them, and as effectually destroying the privilege as if they did so by a specific resolution. There had been an universal dissent from the resolution proposed by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford. [Sir G. GREY: That resolution applied to all local rates.] He know that, and he knew that the right hon. Baronet drew a distinction 1051 between poor-rates and other local rates. The House, however, might depend upon it that if they now gave up their privilege upon this question—a question upon which it was most valuable—they would find great difficulty in maintaining it hereafter.
§ MR. HUME
, having been a Member of the Committee on Public Business, had then refused to give up any of the privileges of the House with respect to taxation. The privilege of taxation belonged exclusively to the House of Commons, and he saw nothing but difficulty and collision in the future, if, in this measure, they consented to yield it up. It was at all times unpleasant and inexpedient for the two Houses of Parliament to come into collision; and it appeared to him that nothing was so likely to avoid it as a steady determined resolution to adhere to their undoubted rights. There ought to be no relaxation unless in the greatest emergency; and, in his opinion, a case had been made out for a waiver on this question. If, therefore, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon took the sense of the House upon the subject, he should, at whatever risk of inconvenience, support him.
§ MR. GRATTAN
contended that there was nothing beneficial in the Amendments to counterbalance the evil of the privileges of the House being abandoned. The House had already yielded its privilege, without any advantage being thereby gained, in the case of the original Poor Law Bill for Ireland; and if they went on abandoning their rights in order to pass bad measures, they would eventually destroy the country. He suggested that—as this difficulty had arisen—the Bill should be postponed, and that next Session a measure should be introduced really adapted to promote the interests of Ireland, without interfering with the privileges of the House of Commons. If the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon divided the House upon the question, he should vote with him.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, that in matters of very great importance there might be some plea for the House giving up its privileges; but he did not think that this was a case in which they ought to be yielded. There were already so many precedents in this way that they almost became a general rule.
§ MR. EVELYN DENISON
said, that if the proposition of the noble Lord went to impugn the resolution of the Committee 1052 on Public Business last year, no one would have a greater interest than himself in resisting that proposal. But he did not think that was the effect of it. The Committee recommended that the House should not, by resolution, abandon its undoubted rights and privileges upon questions of local taxation; but they did not go the length of saying that any practical inconvenience had arisen from the occasional waiving of its rights. That House need fear no great encroachment upon its privileges by the House of Lords. But it was said that the harmonious working of the legislative system would be best promoted by insisting upon extreme rights. He doubted that very much. At the same time, if they were to take the course pointed out by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, they would be drawing the strings much tighter than they had been drawn of late years. Was there any occasion for it? Had any practical inconvenience resulted from the slight concessions which had been made? None, in his opinion; and if the House were called upon for a decision, he should vote with his noble Friend at the head of the Government, believing that the Amendments might be made without inconvenience.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, the hon. Gentleman appeared to have misapprehended him, and, perhaps, therefore, he might be permitted to explain what he intended to suggest. He should suggest that the same course should be taken with this Bill as was taken with a Bill yesterday. In the proceedings of yesterday, he found the following:—"Boroughs Relief Bill; Lords' Amendments to be taken into consideration this day three months." Then there was:—"Boroughs Relief (No. 2) Bill: To relieve boroughs, in certain cases, from contribution to certain descriptions of county expenditure; ordered to be brought in by Mr. Attorney General and Mr. Spooner." And the next was:—"Boroughs Relief (No. 2) Bill: To relieve boroughs, in certain cases, from contribution to certain descriptions of county expenditure; presented, and read a first and second time, and committed; considered in Committee and reported, without amendment; and read a third time and passed." This was the last proceeding in the House yesterday; and it was the example which he would recommend to be followed now.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, the Bill referred to by the right hon. 1053 Baronet had been introduced to relieve the borough of Birmingham from certain local taxes, which had to be paid to the county of Warwick. It was originally introduced as a private Bill, but thrown out by the House of Lords, on the ground that it ought to be a public measure; and it had been introduced as a public measure, with certain clauses added, to meet the objections made in the House of Lords. That course, however, could not be taken with the present Bill, because it was proposed to agree to some of the Lords' Amendments, and to disagree with others.
MR. VERNON SMITH
thought that if such a course had been adopted with regard to the borough of Birmingham, it ought à fortiori to be adopted in the case of Ireland. The arguments of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon were unanswerable, and they had been left un-answered. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary said, in effect, that there were a number of precedents for waiving the privileges of that House, and that a number of precedents was not the same as adopting the resolution which was moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford. But they came to the same thing; and he would ask any experienced Member in that House, whether a series of precedents was not stronger than any resolution? It was against such a series of precedents, all upon the question of poor-rates, that he wished to guard the House; and he contended that the discussion had been most properly raised by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, to whom the House must feel indebted for the course he had taken.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, the right hon. Baronet had urged the House to take the same course with this measure as they had with a private Bill. [Sir J. GRAHAM: No; a public Bill.] Well, a public Bill. With regard to the merits of the Birmingham Bill, there had been no dispute, and no obstacle raised to its passing through all its stages. But if the same course were taken with the present measure, it must be materially altered; and the alterations would probably give rise to so much discussion that there would be little chance of the Bill passing in the present Session.
§ MR. SPOONER
contended that the Bill was just as liable to be delayed if the Commons waived their privileges, as it was if they resolved to maintain them.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
said, the only valuable 1054 parts of the Bill were the Amendments made in it by the Lords—all the rest was a delusion. But even the Lords' Amendments were not an equivalent for a surrender of the privileges of the House; and if there was a division, he should support the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon.
SIR DENHAM NORREYS
said, he intended to propose that the Lords' Amendments be taken into consideration that day three months; but, before moving it, he wished to know what course the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon proposed to take.
SIR DENHAM NORREYS
thought the House was greatly indebted to the right hon. Baronet for the manner in which he had brought the question forward; and he rejoiced to think there was still some respect for privileges which used to be so much valued. The late report of the Committee on Strangers was also an instance of the same feeling. The hon. Baronet then entered, at some length, into a review of the Amendments, in the course of which he stated that only five clauses had really been introduced into the Bill by the Government. All the rest were owing to private Members or to the House of Lords. Some of the clauses were inconsistent with each other; and he contended that there was no necessity for immediate legislation. It would be infinitely wiser to postpone it till next Session.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he should not enter into a discussion upon the merits of the Bill, or upon the Amendments made in it by the House of Lords. He had not heard, however, any hon. Member say that a rule was to be once and for ever laid down that the House was never to waive its privileges. This being the case, he reminded the House that it was impossible for the House of Lords to make any amendment in the Bill without interfering in some degree with the privileges of the Commons. If, therefore, the House of Commons insisted upon its privileges, the House of Lords must be deprived of all power of considering poor-law measures. For these reasons, he should vote with the noble Lord.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the hon. 1055 Gentleman the Member for Mallow had entered at some length into the merits of the subject; but he did not feel bound to follow him in that discussion. The question, however, was one of very great importance, whether they should waive or strictly maintain the privileges of that House. He could not himself see that they could take any other course but one of these two—either to admit that the Lords should interfere with their privileges with regard to some of the clauses in the Bill for the amendment of the poor-law, or whether they should give up any chance of legislation upon the subject of the poor-law in Ireland in the present Session. The hon. Baronet the Member for Mallow asked him to consider the question further, and to introduce a Bill upon the subject in the course of the next Session. But if the House was to decide that its privileges were to be strictly maintained, without any departure from them—that was to say, that the course taken in 1838 and 1847 should never again be followed—that they were bad precedents which ought never to have been adopted—he should consider it hopeless to introduce any measure in the next Session of Parliament. If he brought in any Bill, he should not consider that he could introduce clauses in such a manner as not to be open to some amendment on the part of the House of Lords; and he could hardly hope, if the House of Lords made amendments, that they would not be such as would interfere in some way with the privileges of the House of Commons. The House had heard from the Chair, and everybody, he believed, had admitted that it was almost impossible for the Lords to pass a poor-law without interfering with the privileges of that House. There could be hardly one clause in which they would not attack or interfere with the Commons' privileges. The question was, therefore, of great importance, whether the House of Commons should give up the hope of being able to legislate harmoniously with the House of Lords upon the subject of the poor-law. When he said the question was of great importance to the House, he said it was more especially of importance to those who, taking an interest in the present subject, believed that the poor-law of Ireland ought to be amended. He had introduced a maximum clause, thinking it was an amendment, and believing it would tend to make the law work better hereafter; but he had always admitted that the principle was new, and 1056 that there were arguments against it of great weight. But, at the same time, he was himself quite satisfied with the present poor-law in Ireland. Let the House, then, understand that, though he thought it was capable of amendment, he did not think any essential amendments in its clauses were so required as to make it necessary for him to introduce a Bill for that purpose, seeing that it would only lead to great waste of time, and renewed conflict with the other House. In conclusion, he wished the House to consider the importance of the question, whether, on this occasion, they should depart from the course taken in 1838 and again in 1847.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
Sir, I beg to claim the indulgence of the House for a few moments. The noble Lord has frankly admitted the great importance of the constitutional question, and what I am about to say shall he strictly limited to the discussion of it. I admit most distinctly that it is very difficult on a question of this nature to preserve the harmonious working of the two Legislative Assemblies, and that some concessions should be made, where it is possible to make them without the infraction of great constitutional principles—those principles which have been handed down to us as fixed, and as a special security—a security for that harmonious working. I admit as fully as the noble Lord, or any hon. Gentleman, that a conflict with the other branch of the Legislature is to be avoided. But the question is, how such a conflict is best to be avoided? I believe that reliance on the old constitutional maxims, and the strictest adherence to them, will be found the safest and best way of doing so. I declare to the noble Lord—so strongly am I impressed with this belief—that if, with reference to the public safety and advantage, it was on the whole thought expedient we should waive our privileges with respect to this question of the poor-rate, I would infinitely rather, in the next Session of Parliament, come deliberately to a resolution embodying that waiver, than go on multiplying these precedents. I tell the noble Lord—and I am sure that on reflection he will agree with me—that if we multiply these precedents, it is clear the other branch of the Legislature will avail itself of them when it pleases, and claim the right of dealing, not with the poor-rate only, but with that immense mass of local taxation which is becoming daily of more importance, and which the hon. Member for 1057 Buckinghamshire showed us the other night had increased to the amount of not less than 10,000,000l. or 12,000,000l. sterling annually. I repeat, that if we multiply these exceptional cases, the House of Lords will claim this interference with local taxation generally as a right. And what will then be the result? Why, that we—the House of Commons—shall be on the defensive, and that it will be necessary to draw a line of distinction between the poor-rate and local taxation—a line which the most acute man in this House (or I am much deceived) will not be able to define. I am decidedly of opinion, therefore, it is safer to come to a specific surrender of a given portion of our privileges—strictly assigning its limits—rather than multiply precedents of this indefinite character. I am far from saying I consent to that surrender. For my own part, I at once declare I doubt its policy. Why, what does the noble Lord at the head of the Government say? He declares that, in his own deliberate opinion, he is well satisfied with the existing poor-law, and thinks it requires no amendment. If this be the noble Lord's opinion, we are about to make the most gratuitous surrender of our privileges that was ever heard of. If the leader of the Executive Government came down to the House, and said great interests were at stake, and it was necessary for the public good to make exceptions in regard to this particular question, I might have been led to make such an exception; but when he tells us that with respect to this particular case, he is entirely satisfied with the present law, and that he has proposed these alterations not so much in conformity with his own judgment as to meet floating opinions here and elsewhere, I cannot hesitate to decide what course I shall take, and at once I say I take my stand on the ancient and undoubted privileges of this House. You, Sir, have stated that you have often private Bills before you affecting our privileges relating to the poor-rate, and that yon are bound by the rules and privileges of the House to give precise and exact effect to them, and not to sanction any appeal to the House in the strictest adherence to them. But what will be your position hereafter with respect to our private legislation? Why this—that in matters of minor importance, you shall be bound by those rules and privileges, insisting on the strictest interpretation of them; but that when mighty national interests are at stake, we shall make some unknown insertion on the Journals 1058 of our House, and waive our privileges without a contest. If I had doubts when I raised this question, I must say I cannot now hesitate, after the discussion I have heard, and after the statement of the noble Lord, as to what course I should take, and that I shall most decidedly support the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Mallow.
MR. SHAFTO ADAIR
said, that with respect to the constitutional question, he believed that all the Members of the House were united in a universal wish to defend their just privileges; but he also thought that in matters of privilege there was another party whose interests were to be considered, and that was the party on he-half of whom those privileges were exercised. He thought that if the public interests required them to make a waiver of their privileges, they might do so without any injury to their future position; and if any great occasion hereafter arose, such as the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon seemed to apprehend, he had no doubt but that Mr. Speaker would, as his predecessors had always done, give timely notice to the House with regard to it. He would, under these circumstances, feel bound to oppose the Amendment.
§ MR. GRATTAN
said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had now told the Irish Members, on the 27th of July, after they had been sitting there since the month of February endeavouring to amend the law, that he was quite satisfied with the Irish poor-law as it stood. When he heard that declaration he remarked to an hon. Friend near him, "The noble Lord has cut all our throats." He thought it essential that they should impose taciturnity on the noble Lord. There was once an Irish doctor in that House who was forced to hold his tongue, and who was called the muzzled doctor. They ought to have an English muzzled Lord also in the House. It was too bad that after five months' deliberation they should be met by such a declaration. He found his house on fire; he came there to look for aid, but when he looked round to the quarter from which he was to expect assistance, he found that it was much more likely to come from the ablebodied pompier six feet high and three feet broad, than from the Lilliputian occupant of the bench opposite.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
The right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon seems to think that I said I was entirely satisfied with the present state of the Irish poor-law, 1059 and that I thought no amendment whatever was required in it. Now, I beg leave to explain what I really did say. I was proposing that the House should go into the consideration of the Amendments in the Poor Law Bill, which have come down from the House of Lords, when the hon. Baronet the Member for Mallow moved his Amendment, stating that he thought it better to defer the subject to another Session, and that this Bill ought to be rejected on the ground of an interference with our-privileges on the part of the House of Lords. I stated that, if the course which the hon. Baronet recommended were pursued, we could not introduce a Bill next Session, to which the same objection with regard to privilege would not apply; but I added also that I was so satisfied with the present poor-law, that, although I thought amendments might be usefully introduced in it, yet if the conclusion to which the House came were, that the present law should remain on the Statute-book as it is until next Session, I should not object to such a course.
§ MR. HUME
would not enter into the merits of the Bill; but respecting the constitutional question, his opinion was this, that, as they were representatives of the nation, and were bound to protect the national interest, it was not for them to yield a right which, from time immemorial, was constitutionally vested in the House of Commons, namely, the right of taxation. The House of Lords might yield, because they acted for themselves; but they—the House of Commons—had no right to give up a privilege which they held from the people, and which had been handed down to them by successive generations. He quite concurred with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, that it would be much better to come to a resolution to give up their privilege to a certain point; but in their present position he did not see that they were justified in parting with a constitutional right which they held from the people at large. Upon that ground, and without reference to the merits of the Bill itself, he should vote for the Amendment.
§ SIR L. O'BRIEN
looked upon the Bill as consisting of two parts. In one respect it was a Money Bill, but it also contained a great many regulations for improving the working of the Bill. The Bill was not, therefore, strictly speaking, a Money Bill, and he thought the House of Lords had a fair right to amend it. He must, in that view of it, vote against the Amendment.
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
said, that if the principle of the hon. Member for Montrose were to be carried out, that House should not, upon any measure of local taxation, go through the mockery of sending it to the House of Lords. Let that be the understood principle of the constitution if they were to act as that hon. Member required. He should vote against the Amendment.
§ SIR J. WALMSLEY
thanked the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon for the opinions he had expressed on this very important question. It had been stated that the two Houses could not work harmoniously unless the House of Commons gave way upon this occasion. But they had already been favoured with strong reasons for not giving way; and if they were obliged to do so, he was satisfied that the opinion of the people out of doors would be this, that if the two Houses could not work harmoniously, one of them must be reformed, and that one was the House of Lords. He trusted, however, that this House would never yield one iota of its privilege of keeping a just and strict control over the taxation of the country.
§ SIR J. YOUNG
wished to observe, with regard to what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, as to the powers of the House of Lords being considerably on the increase, that the course of legislation for the last century showed that any danger of encroachment on the part of the other House on the privileges of the people was perfectly chimerical. The question to be considered was, whether it was indispensable for this House to maintain power over local taxation—a power so difficult to maintain that it must be frequently waived—or whether they might not safely add another precedent to those that had been cited as already existing, of departure from their privileges. The House should consider, looking to the position of the House of Lords as consisting of great landed proprietors, whether that House was not better qualified to deal with these questions of local taxation than the House of Commons. He considered the line of demarcation between questions of local and general taxation to be so broad, that there could be no danger whatever of its being passed.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, the hon. Member who had just resumed his seat, had told them that he could see no harm in adding another to the precedents already existing of departure from the privileges of the 1061 House on such questions; and yet he had added, immediately after, that he thought it better if all questions connected with the poor-law should be handed over exclusively to the House of Lords. The question was, whether the advantage to be gained by concession was worthy of the sacrifice of their privileges. He thought there could be no difficulty on this point after the speech which they had heard from the noble Lord at the head of the Government—a speech of which he would only say, that nothing else had been wanting to make up the absurdity of their legislation this Session on the subject of the Irish poor-law. They had commenced their legislation on this subject five months ago, thinking that the law required amendment. A Committee had been appointed, and had been sitting for five months, and yet it now turned out, that whether the law was amended or not, was a matter which made very little difference in the estimation of the Government. As the Bill now stood, it was an entirely different measure from that which they had agreed to. The principle of the Bill had been taken away, and there were only five clauses in the whole Bill to which that House had given their sanction. It was no more their Bill than the noble Lord would be Prime Minister, if he were brought into the House to-morrow without his head. He thought they should stand by their privileges as a separate and independent branch of the Legislature. Every one who considered the subject must see that these were not times when that House ought to give up any of the privileges which they held on behalf of the people. They should certainly not waive any of these privileges unless there were some great object to be gained; but in the present instance the object to be gained was perfectly insignificant, while the precedent sought to be established, of a surrender of their privilege, was a far larger one that any that had as yet taken place. He fully concurred, under these circumstances, in what appeared to be the almost unanimous opinion of the House, that it was not an occasion when they ought to make so large a sacrifice.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 111; Noes 62: Majority 49.
|List of the Ayes.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Aglionby, H. A.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Anson, hon. Col.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Baines, M. T.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Magan, W. H.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Matheson, Col.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Monsell, W.|
|Brooke, Lord||Morris, D.|
|Brotherton, J.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Newport, Visct.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Cobden, R.||O'Brien, Sir L.|
|Coke, hon. E. K.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Denison, J. E.||Parker, J.|
|Dickson, S.||Pinney, W.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Price, Sir R.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Ricardo, O.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Rice, E. R.|
|Ellis, J.||Rich, H.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Evans, J.||Seymour, Sir H.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Fitzpatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Simeon, J.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Smith, J. A.|
|Forster, M.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Fortescue, C.||Stafford, A.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Fox, R. M.||Thompson, Col.|
|French, F.||Thornely, T.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Greene, T.||Townley, R. G.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Tufnell, H.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Grey, R. W.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Williams, J.|
|Hallyburton, Ld J. F. G.||Wilson, J.|
|Harris, R.||Wilson, M.|
|Hawes, B.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Wyvill, M.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Young, Sir. J.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Howard, lord E.||TELLERS.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Bellew, R. M.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Fox, W J.|
|Anderson, A.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Galway, Visct.|
|Beresford, W.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Greene, J.|
|Charteris, hon. F.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Coles, H. B.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Henley, J. W.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Heywood, J.|
|Duncan, G.||Hornby, J.|
|Dunne, Col.||Horsman, E.|
|Fagan, W.||Hotham, Lord|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Hume, J.|
|Jocelyn, Visct.||Reynolds, J.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sadleir, J.|
|Keating, R.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Locke, J.||Scully, F.|
|Lockhart, A. E.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Lushington, C.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Meagher, T.||Spooner, R.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Stuart, J.|
|Naas, Lord||Thompson, G.|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Waddington, H. S.|
|O'Connell, J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Pakington, Sir J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Patten, J. W.|
|Peel, Col.||Grattan, H.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ At a subsequent period of the evening,
§ LORD J. RUSSELL moved that the House agree to the Lords' Amendments, omitting Clauses 1 and 2 of the Poor Law Amendment Bill. He did not intend to reopen the discussion of the subjects involved in these clauses. One of them was that of a maximum rate. On this subject there had been a great division of opinion in this House, and when the Bill went up to the Lords, they had struck out the clause embodying the principle in question. Under these circumstances, particularly considering the divided and nearly balanced state of feeling in the House with regard to the maximum clause, he thought that the most advisable course for them to adopt would be to agree to the Amendments of the Lords, by whom the clause had been expunged.
SIR DENHAM NORREYS
thought that the Bill, as the noble Lord wished them to receive it, contained scarcely one principle worth having. He was afraid that the hopes which had been raised throughout the country would be disappointed. In his opinion it would have been better for the noble Lord to have adhered to the principles with which he started; he believed those principles would have been most beneficial to the country; and the more they were exhibited, the more they would be approved of.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, that if the statement turned out to be true, he should regret that the proposition for taking-possession of the waste lands of Ireland was not carried into effect, for they might have discovered means at once to have paid off the national debt. As to the maximum rate which it was now proposed to omit, he never was very sanguine as to the effect; on the contrary, 1064 in voting for those clauses, he yielded to what he believed to be the superior judgment of gentlemen of practical authority. He wished to know whether, ex confesso, in giving up these clauses, they did not leave these western unions in a most deplorable condition, unable to maintain their population. He did not see that the poor-law in the western unions would work relief to that part of the country. He must protest against the Session being allowed to close without the adoption of any measures of an ameliorative character for the west of Ireland.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
was much disappointed that Government should have abandoned the maximum clause after it had received the support of nearly all the Irish Members. He did not think that any rate should be allowed to reach confiscation; and seeing that, according to the Earl of Rosse, the local taxation of England was only 2s, 3d. in the pound, while in Ireland it was 8s. 4d., he thought that the latter country had been badly used with respect to this Bill. Another objection he had to the poor-law was the expense of its administration. From a return be held in his hand, it appeared that the amount expended in relief was equalled by the expenditure in administration. He again protested against the excision of the maximum clause.
§ MR. GRATTAN
thought that the House would take it for granted that the Poor Law Bill had totally failed. Mr. Nicholls and Captain Kennedy had given it as their opinion that no measure could do good unless that which gave employment. The Government were mistaken if they thought the Poor Law Bill would give permanent relief; but then they had another resource in emigration. He had never heard that a country was made powerful, great, and rich by exporting its people. He saw but one remedy—he hoped the day would come when the English Members would rise in a body and say to the Irish representatives, "Go home; we are tired of you and your affairs." But right hon. Gentlemen opposite were afraid of that magic word "Repeal;" but there were men who did not yet forget it, and who thought that if anything could save their country, it would be self-legislation. There was no sincerity in the maximum clause, and that was the reason why the noble Lord only set its proper value on it. He thought that the Irish gentry had a right to complain of the mode in which they 1065 were treated in regard to the administration of the poor-law, which might be carried out with less than half of the present establishment. The Government had passed measures which had sapped the morals of the people of Ireland—the men had been rendered dishonest, for they had been supported in idleness and negligence, and the females had been driven into the workhouses, where the virtuous were mixed with the abandoned. They would yet want the Irish, when their faithless allies, having swept the last vestige of freedom from other parts of Europe, would attempt the same in England. In Ireland they did not want men with muskets and bayonets, they wanted men with the plough and the sickle. He thought that the noble Lord had much better have abandoned the Bill altogether, and consulted the Irish Members on measures for the good of the country. Let the Government not seek to colonise Connemara, let them send back those Dukes and Marquesses who had run away from their country. They had refused to impose an absentee tax. He thought they would end by granting to Ireland self-legislation. He had seen some clothes made in one of the gaols in Ireland, and if the prisoners there, and the inmates of the unions had boon so employed, Government could have clothed 150,000 for 10,000l. The 14,000l expended on clothing for the old pensioners who had been called out in this country, would have saved from cold and misery 100,000 of the starving peasantry of Ireland. They ought to illuminate in Ireland next week, not only for the advent of Her Majesty, but for the restoration of the potato; for he differed from some hon. Members on the subject of the potato; and he believed that if the present Ministry were saved, it would be by the intervention of Providence in restoring that root.
§ MR. F. FRENCH
supported the pro-position of the noble Lord, and felt that they were under a deep debt of obligation to the Lords for the manly manner in which they had dealt with the clause. He had heard with pain the noble Lord at the head of the Government say that he was content with the poor-law, and that he sought no alteration in the Bill. Did the noble Lord think that he or any other Minister would be able to maintain a law so injurious to the welfare of the country? He told the noble Lord that the Irish Members were prepared to act in a body, and that neither he nor any other Minster would be able to maintain the law.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ The Lords' Amendment inserting Clause 5 of the Lords' Bill was agreed to, and the Lords' Amendment inserting Clause 6 of the Lords' Bill was disagreed to.
§ On Clause 10,
§ LORD J. RUSSELL moved to agree to the Lords' Amendments, omitting Clause 10, and to insert Clause 10 of Lords' Bill, omitting the word "resident."
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
opposed the omission of the clause. When they were providing for the poor of the country, they had no right to tax only one species of property. The clause, as sent up to the Lords, laid down the principle that charges upon land, so far as they could be got at, should go to the support of the pauperism, as well as the fee and the occupancy of the property. Why should a man who, out of an estate of 5,000l. a year, bad to pay jointures and other charges to the amount of perhaps 4,000l,. have to pay rate upon the full 5,000l., while he himself only received 1,000l,. those who held the charges upon the property receiving the income clear from all the various burdens to which the holder of the land was liable. He opposed the Motion.
§ MR. SADLEIR
hoped the hon. Baronet would not divide against the noble Lord's Motion. As the clause went up to the other House, it made jointures chargeable in the first place, and annuities and rentcharge in the second place. The effect of imposing poor-rate on jointure would be intolerable; and to impose it on rent-charges and annuities, would be only to add an additional charge upon the land. Many English capitalists had advanced their money on the security of Irish rent-charges and annuities, and the effect of such a law would be to induce them at once to call in the arrears due to them.
§ MR. STAFFORD moved the omission of the clause altogether.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
wished to know what the opinions of the Irish Members were? He thought that amidst the variety of opinions expressed by the Irish Members, the best plan to pursue was to reject the clause.
§ Question put, to agree with the Lords in the said clause as amended.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 60; Noes 25: Majority 35.
§ SIR G. GREY moved that the Committee disagree to the Lords' Amendments omitting Clauses 16, 17, 18, and 19, which were explained as simplifying proceedings by boards of guardians for the recovery of 1067 arrears, and giving powers for regulating the practice in such proceedings.
§ After a brief conversation, in which Mr. Sadleir, the Attorney General, Colonel Dunne, and Mr. Hamilton took part,
§ Question put, to disagree with the Lords in the omission of Clauses 16, 17, 18, 19.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 81; Noes 22: Majority 59.
§ The Amendments suggested with regard to Clauses 20 and 21 were agreed to.
§ On Clause 22,
§ LORD J. RUSSELLMR. HENLEY moved that the Committee disagree to the Lords' Amendments inserting Clause 22 of Lords' Bill.
said, that he could not understand why ratepayers in Ireland should not be entitled to a copy of the ratebook, as in England.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that his hon. Friend was mistaken in supposing that the provisions in this clause had the least analogy to the provisions of the English law. By this clause the parties were not to have a copy of the ratebook, but the amount of the rates which were due. It was the collector's book, not the ratebook.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
observed, that the clause now under discussion was ancillary to another clause, which gave the landlord a power of ejecting his tenant when more than a year's rates were due, To that clause he had an insuperable objection, and therefore he should vote against the present clause.
The gallery was cleared for a division, but none took place; and the Motion for disagreeing to the Lords' Amendments was agreed to.
§ On the Motion of Lord J. RUSSELL, the Lords' Amendments in Clause 25 were agreed to.
§ On Clause 27,
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
then moved that the House should disagree with the Lords' Amendment in the 27th Clause.
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
thought that the clause would considerably facilitate emigration, and that it ought to stand in its present shape.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that the effect of the clause as it stood would be to encourage collusion, and tend to substitute rates for emigration for rates for the relief of the poor.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
said, he did not sec any reason why, when one man owed another man money, the party to whom the debt was owing might not set off any sum which he owed his debtor. Therefore, if 1068 a ratepayer advanced 100l. on debenture to the parish, and the interest and instalments were not paid as they fell due, it seemed but just that he should set off against the debt owing to him the rates due from him to the parish.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, that in law there was no set-off against a poor-rate. The relief of the poor was in all cases a ready-money transaction.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ On the Motion of Lord J. RUSSELL, the Lords' Amendment inserting Clause 29 of the Lords' Bill, was agreed to.
§ On Clause 30,
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
next proposed to agree to so much of the Lords' Amendment inserting Clause 30 as is contained in the proviso commencing line 10 of page 18. and ending line 31 of the same page, and to disagree to the rest of the clause.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the first word "And" to "be it Enacted."
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 100: Majority 74.
§ On Clause 31,
§ Question put, to disagree with the Lords in the said Clause.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 103; Noes 24: Majority 79.
§ The Lords' Amendments on Clause 33, being the last on the Paper, were then agreed to.