§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair'."
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
brought forward the Motion of which he had given notice. He observed that the property in England rated to the poor was much underrated at 67,000,000l.; its real value, judging from the income-tax returns, was probably over 100,000,000l. This rendered the disproportion between the property of England and Ireland still greater. The amount of real property rated to the poor in Ireland was 13,000,000l.; but at present, according to the testimony of Mr. Griffiths and Mr. Stuart, who were examined before the Poor Law Committee, it was not more than 10,000,000l.; so that for every 5l. of rateable property in this country for the support of the poor, there was but 1l. in Ireland for the same purpose. The evidence given before the Committee showed that the poor-law had broken down property—that it had caused wholesale evictions—that it had caused land to be laid waste—that it had caused crime to increase—and that the moral condition of the people had greatly deteriorated. England herself had been nearly crushed by the poor-law, until numerous amendments had been made in it. Was it to be wondered at, then, that Ireland had completely broken down? When it was first introduced into Ireland, the late Mr. O'Connell, a person who knew Ireland better than any man who ever set foot in that House, foretold that the property of Ireland would break down under the poor-law, and that the rich would be reduced to the level of the poor. That prophecy was progressing towards its accomplishment. The present disorganisation of society in Ireland resulted from the operation of the poor-law, as proved by the testimony of the witnesses. Mr. Kincaid, an extensive land agent, gave evidence which went to show that the working of the poor-law had the effect of preventing instead of stimulating employment. Mr. Burke, an assistant poor-law commissioner, stated that the land was deserted in seve 1296 ral parts of the west of Ireland, in consequence of the magnitude of the rate. Several unions in the west of Ireland, and some in the south, had already become bankrupt, and the evil was already attacking the best counties of the country. What he wanted, therefore, to know was, whether they were to maintain this law, and reduce the whole country to one general mass of pauperism. Mr. Brett, a gentleman well qualified to give an opinion, stated that 50,000 acres of land were deserted in the county of Mayo, and this desertion was still going on. When he was asked what became of the people, he said that many had died, vast numbers had gone to America, some had gone to the workhouse, and others to England. He begged English Members to mark that fact. This was no mere Irish question; it was an English question, and one, too, which would materially affect the rates of this country, and the position of the English labourer, unless measures were speedily taken to put an end to the evil. Mr. Aubrey de Vere had shown that there was a great difference between the English and Irish proprietary as to the manner in which they were affected by the poor-law, inasmuch as in England property had been inherited or purchased subject to poor-rates, while in Ireland the tax was a new one, and a grievous and galling burden on those who now held the land. Colonel Vandeleur had also shown that the poor were so numerous in the union of Kilrush, that the whole of the property in the union would not support them. Mr. Twisleton had deposed to the same effect, besides stating that this law was a burden such as no English proprietors had ever experienced. Colonel Kennedy, who had given some fearful evidence as to the effects of the evictions, forcibly and truly said that the law had beggared the proprietor, ruined the farmer, and did not support the poor. He trusted the House would especially remember that fact, that the poor were not supported by this law. It was a tax which had already brought ruin on thousands, and was bringing ruin and starvation on thousands more. It was a tax which had driven the best farmers of the country to America; it had driven hundreds of thousands of the poorer people to be wanderers through the wide world, without house or home. It was a tax which had driven thousands of the population of Ireland to compete with the poor of England in the labour market of England; and it would 1297 constantly drag down the labourer and the artisan of England to a level with the pauperism of Ireland. The inadequacy of the present poor-law system for the support of the poverty of the country, was attested by the remarkable increase that had of late 3'ears taken place in the number of criminal charges disposed of at quarter-sessions. The number of offences dealt with at quarter-sessions in 1845 was only 7,500, whereas, in 1847, it was no less than 16,446, being an increase of considerably more than one-half in the statistics of crime. This very significant fact proved either that the poor-law was insufficient for the support of the poverty of the country, or that it had a direct tendency to drive the people to the commission of crime. He believed that the former alternative gave the true solution of the case, for he found in the great majority of cases that the crimes for which offenders were now prosecuted at quarter-sessions were thefts and other crimes of a similar character, which had evidently been committed for the purpose of supporting life. If the poor-law were sufficient for the maintenance of the people, they could not be driven, as they now so frequently were, to the alternative of starving by the road side, or outraging the laws of their country. No man who knew anything of Ireland would deny that pauperism was increasing at an appalling rate in almost every union in the country. In the union of Dungarvon, where some of his property was situate, the guardians had been compelled to take six additional houses and stores for the accommodation of the paupers. The poorhouse of the union had been originally constructed only for the accommodation of 600 paupers, but it had been found so totally inadequate to the miserable requirements of the times, that six additional buildings had to be engaged, and there were at the present moment seven different establishments for the accommodation of the poor in the union of Dungarvon, and the number of paupers on the books was 4,500. In the union of Waterford, the poorhouse had been originally constructed for the accommodation of 900 paupers; but it was found necessary to procure three additional establishments, and the number of paupers receiving indoor and outdoor relief at the present moment was no less than 5,000. A state of things equally disastrous prevailed in the union of New Ross, where the guardians had recently to admit 300 fresh paupers in the course of two days. In fact, the pres- 1298 sure on the poor-rates in all parts of the country transcended all belief, as it exceeded all endurance. In some unions not only were the workhouses crowded to suffocation, but the number of paupers receiving outdoor relief varied from 22,000 to 12,000. Where was this to end? 1,600,000l was raised in Ireland last year for poor-rate, and 800,000l. still remained uncollected. To such a pass had things come in some of the unions, that the relieving officers of the districts were obliged to be placed on the roll of paupers, for the guardians, having no money at their disposal wherewith to pay them, could only offer them pauper rations as remuneration for their services. In a word, the poor-law had broken down because there was not sufficient property in the country to support its poverty. From a return which had been recently placed on the table of that House, it appeared that it had been found necessary to employ an armed force of (between military and police) 8,500 men last year to collect the poor-rate. Was that a wholesome or legitimate mode in which to employ the military and police of this great empire? He had himself known many instances where military officers, who were engaged in such services, had been so moved to compassion by the distressing scenes they were obliged to witness, that rather than seize the last pig or cow, or it might be the bed or table of the wretched peasant whom they were called out to distrain, they subscribed amongst themselves the requisite sum, and, handing it over to the collector, withdrew their men. He told it to their credit. Many and many a time had they expressed to him their opinion, that it was disgraceful to the British name, that the British army should be employed on such missions. The Irish Members had foretold the breaking down of this law; but they were outnumbered, and their vaticinations were derided. Out of a House of 658 Members, the Minister could reckon on 553, and the Irish Members were left in a paltry minority of 105. However, they had done their duty. They had raised their voices energetically against this pernicious enactment. They had forewarned the Government that the law would break down, and it had broken down most signally. Other property, as well as that at present assessed, ought to be called on to assist and lend its co-operation, so that the law might, if possible, be made to work. He was prepared with three prac- 1299 tical suggestions. In the first place, let the arrangements respecting medical relief, and the education of the pauper children in the workhouses, he placed on the same footing in Ireland as in England. Why should they in England, which was the richer country, charge a portion of the expense of medical relief and pauper education on the Consolidated Fund, and refuse to adopt the same practice in Ireland, where the people were steeped to the lips in poverty? The claim of Ireland to have the same rule applied to her was stronger at the present moment than it had ever been before, for they ought not to forget that by the abolition of the corn laws they had materially impaired the prosperity of a people who were purely agricultural, and who, unlike the English, had nothing but the land to depend upon. In the second place, he would suggest that an income tax be levied on all property in Ireland not rated at the present moment to the poor-rate. He knew a landed proprietor, brother to the hon. Member for Cavan—in a word. Lord Farnham—who last year paid 10,000l. in poor-rates, out of an income of 18,000l. a year. Now, on what principle of justice, equity, or religion—on what principle of common sense or common justice—should Lord Farnham be called on to pay l0,000l a year for the support of the poor of Cavan, while the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, with an income of 8,000l. a year, paid nothing? Surely it could not be contended that Lord Farnham had a stronger interest in the preservation of social order, and the infrequency of crime, than the Lord Chancellor? It was no objection to his proposition to say that it was not the law of England. The countries were differently circumstanced, and now that they were about to make a new law for Ireland, they could not do better than introduce such a provision. It was the law of Scotland, and every consideration of equity and justice recommended that it should be made the law of Ireland as well. It was in the last degree unfair, dishonest, and inequitable, that they should press on one species of property alone in Ireland for the support of the poverty of that country. In the third place, he would suggest that a well-devised system of public works be at once introduced. This was a recommendation which had been strenuously advocated by Sir Charles Trevelyan, Sir John Burgoyne—both Englishmen—and the commissioners appointed under Lord Devon's Com- 1300 mission. They had, one and all, recommended that improvements in agriculture should be introduced; that railways should be promoted; and that a well-selected system of public works should be instituted by means of advances from the imperial exchequer. It was idle to attribute the present miserable condition of Ireland to any incapacity or inaptitude in her people. Of such imputations, Mr. Mills, an English gentleman, who, he believed, was never in Ireland, had satisfactorily disposed. "Indolent and insouciant they of course will be," said Mr. Mills, "when they derive no advantage from forethought and exertion." He begged to apologise for trespassing on the attention of the House, implored of them to adopt some effective measure for the regeneration of Ireland, if not for the sake of that country, at least for their own, for they might rest assured that if Ireland were to fall, she would drag England into the same gulf with herself.
To leave out from the word 'that' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'the property at present rated to support the Poor in Ireland is totally inadequate for that purpose; that in England there are sixty-seven millions of property rated to the Poor, the population being about fifteen millions; whilst in Ireland there are only thirteen millions of property rated to the Poor, with a (much poorer) population of about eight millions: showing nearly three times more property in England per head to support the Poor than in Ireland: that, therefore, it is necessary to consider whether other means for support of the Poor of Ireland ought not to be provided, in order to remove the extreme pressure which is now crushing down the ratepayers in that country, and checking the energies of all employers and capitalists.'
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, that it was quite unnecessary for his hon. Friend to make any apology to the House, for there was no Member of it who must not feel deeply interested in the present condition of Ireland; and certainly no Irish Member could feel indifferent to the unfortunate social prostration to which the industry of that country had been reduced. He did not know whether he should interpret the speech of his hon. Friend correctly, if he said that his hon. Friend's remarks went to the entire repeal of the Irish poor-law. His hon. Friend had drawn a lamentable picture of the social condition of Ireland. He had alluded to the distressed condition of the gentry, to the rapidly deteriorating resources of the farming population, and to the frightful state 1301 of the paupers who were now supported under the poor-law; and having drawn that picture, he said, "Look to what your poor-law has done for Ireland." He did not think, therefore, that he put an unfair interpretation on that speech, when he said that it went to recommend the repeal of the Irish poor-law. But when his hon. Friend alluded to the distressed condition of all classes in that country, he thought it might fairly have been asked if that state of things might not have been attributed to the melancholy fact, that Ireland was now in the third year of one of the most frightful famines that ever visited, not only Ireland, which had unfortunately suffered severely from similar inflictions, but any other country in the world? He would ask whether it was possible that a country could go through such a visitation without suffering severely in all its interests? Such being his opinion, he would not go at any length into a reply to the arguments of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend said—" Look to what the poor-law has brought us—look to the distressed condition of the country." But he would ask him this question—what would have been the situation of Ireland, bad as it now was, if there had been no poor-law at all? He owned that the condition of Ireland was distressing, and that all classes there were groaning under the visitation which had befallen her; but he should never regret having voted for a law which had enabled us to mitigate the evil, for if we could not do all, we were bound to do everything we could. He was one of those who thought that there might be improvements made in the existing law, which would enable us, if not to meet all the difficulties which presented themselves, to bear their pressure better than we were able to do now. He was, therefore, most anxious that the House should go into Committee in order to consider the Bill which was now before it, and in a spirit of mutual forbearance to endeavour so to frame enactments as to meet the difficulties occasioned by the existing law. It was with that view that he wished to abstain now from noticing debateable topics, though, perhaps, they might be forced upon him hereafter; but he begged his hon. Friends to believe that he was not indifferent to the misfortunes which they had undergone, and that he felt every sympathy for the difficulties in which they were placed. Neither should be allude much to the evictions which had taken place, and which his hon. Friend had also 1302 attributed to the poor-law. Indeed there was scarcely an evil which afflicted Ireland, which his hon. Friend had not attributed to the operation of that measure. He believed, however, that these evictions were not occasioned by the poor-law. Evictions had taken place, as was observed by the hon. Member for Clonmel, in Ireland for many years, and to a very large extent; but public attention had been lately drawn to the point, by the circumstances connected with the operation of the poor-law. He did not mean to say that the pressure of rates and the distresses of the country might not have caused a larger number of evictions than usual hitherto, but he did not believe that the poor-law itself had been the prime moving cause. Neither did he believe that these evictions had been caused by a large area of taxation. He did not say that a small area of taxation would have caused evictions, but he did not wish to enter into these debateable topics; and he would only state his belief, that evictions were greatly increased by the famine and the distress which had fallen on Ireland. His hon Friend said, that the increase of crime in Ireland was also to be attributed to the poor-law, and he quoted certain statistics in support of his views, beginning from 1845. But did it not strike his hon. Friend, that, having taken the year preceding the famine, a more natural deduction would have been that the increase of crime was caused by the famine?
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
explained that what he stated was, that the poor-law had failed in supporting the poor, and therefore crime had increased.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
thought that his hon. Friend's conclusion was a non sequitur. No doubt there had been an increase of crime in Ireland, but that had been caused, like many evils of which he had spoken before, by the famine, for there was no statistical fact better known than that crime increased in proportion with the misery of a people. It was not fair, therefore, to say, that because crime had increased since the famine commenced, the increase of crime was to be attributed to the poor-law. His hon. Friend proceeded to propose his remedies, and first of all he proposed an income tax. He hoped that the House would not now re-debate that question, which had already been very fully discussed in the course of the Session. Then his hon. Friend proposed that a certain proportion of the expenses of poor-law 1303 relief in Ireland should be borne by the Consolidated Fund, in the same manner as certain expenses of poor-law relief in England were borne, which his hon. Friend seemed to say formed part of the bargain made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth when he introduced the measure for the repeal of the corn laws. He should not enter into the question whether any portion of the expense of administering relief under the poor-law ought to be borne by the Consolidated Fund; but the statement made by his hon. Friend was certainly correct. It was the understanding, or bargain, if his hon. Friend liked to call it so, when the corn laws were repealed, that a certain portion of the poor-law medical relief—he believed one-half, the entire payment of schoolmasters, and the charge of the maintenance of prisoners in gaols, should, in England, be borne by the Consolidated Fund; and that in Ireland the remaining part of the charge for the constabulary, half of which was paid before out of the Consolidated Fund, should be defrayed from that source. His hon. Friend had also alluded to public works, and had stated how desirable it would be to spend a large sum of money in that manner. He would not say anything further on that point; there could be no doubt that a great deal of good would accrue from developing the internal resources of Ireland; but the question of any extraneous aid that could be given to lighten the pressure on the rates, should always be kept perfectly distinct from the administration of relief under the poor-law. His own opinion was strong upon that point, and he hoped that Parliament would not sanction the mixing up with the administration of the poor-law of any system of extraneous employment. He hoped that his hon. Friend would not press his Motion to a division, and that he would allow the House to go into Committee as soon as possible, in order that they might consider the different clauses of the Bill.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
said, the question raised by his hon. Friend the Member for the city of Waterford was perfectly plain—namely, whether the property at present rated to the poor in Ireland was sufficient to support the poverty of the country. No one who had seen the returns laid before Parliament on the subject, could entertain a doubt that it was not sufficient. The sums collected, both in Ireland and in this country, from public and private sources, were enormous, but they had fallen short 1304 of what was necessary for the support of the poor. It was not likely that the demand would be less this year, nor was there much chance of any additional support from this country. Whence, then, was extraneous aid to be sought to make up the deficiency? Mr. Twisleton, in the clearest manner, said that it should come from the national resources. It was said that Irish property ought to support Irish poverty: but this was impossible, unless they restored to Ireland her own resources. A large expenditure was maintained there, totally unnecessary for the wants of the country. The poverty of Ireland was caused by the legislation of that House, not all of recent date, though the legislation of modern days had tended more, perhaps, to the impoverishment of the country than that of former periods. Sixty-four per cent of the population of Ireland were engaged in agriculture, and there could be no doubt, whatever might be thought of the merits of the measure in reference to England, that the repeal of the corn laws had inflicted deep injury on Ireland. If that change had conferred a benefit on England, this only gave Ireland a greater claim to some recompense at their hands. It was said that if prices had kept up during the famine, the sufferings would have been greater. This might be, but It was not the cheapness of corn which injured Ireland, but the loss of the monopoly which she used to enjoy. Every step in Irish legislation since the Union, had operated disadvantageously in Ireland. Part of the expenditure was said to be on account of the colonies, but from these Ireland derived no advantage. In the space of one year more money was sent home from America by emigrants who had gone out there from Ireland, than had been received for a considerable period from the colonies. The evidence taken before the Committee on the Irish poor-law, showed that it would be impossible for Irish property to support Irish poverty. The liabilities to which land was subject in the county of Clare, amounted to 18s. 4½d. in the pound; and the same might be said of many other counties. It had been asked what Ireland would be if the poor-law had not existed? In his opinion, it would have been in a much bettor state if it had not had the present poor-law; not that he was disposed to maintain that that law alone had caused all these evils, but it had, without doubt, greatly aggravated them. Government was bound to admi- 1305 nister relief in the most economical manner; whereas the expenditure under the present law was conducted in the most wasteful spirit. Had it been otherwise, Ireland would not have been saddled with her present burdens. One of these burdens by which Irish property was oppressed, was the repayment of advances for the works undertaken during the famine. In 1846, no less than 4,800,000l. was appropriated to relief works; but, from a calculation he had made, he found that, supposing every person employed received 10d. a day—which was much above the average, many of the persons employed being women and children, who received a less amount—and allowing 10 per cent for the expenses of administration, only about 3,730,000l. would have been expended, thus leaving more than 1,000,000l. unaccounted for. He said, then, that if proper care had been taken in the conduct of the relief works, and in the distribution of money under the poor-law, the property of Ireland would not have suffered from the burdens by which it was now oppressed. He considered that they ought to make an entire change in the present system, and to give up all thoughts of administering the poor-law in Ireland as it was administered in this country.
§ MR. B. OSBORNE
said, the reasons which were given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland for opposing the Amendment were, that that amendment, if carried, would have the effect of repealing the Irish Poor Law. If it had that effect, he would certainly give a still stronger support to the Amendment, and vote for it with a greater good-will than he could otherwise do. He was not opposed to a poor-law for Ireland, but opposed to the present law, as totally unsuited to the country—as opposed to the habits and prejudices of the Irish people. The poor-law was inefficient, inasmuch as it did not support the poor, but made them poor indeed. The right hon. Baronet (the Irish Secretary) said the people were suffering under a three years' famine; but he held out no hope that next year the famine would not appear in an aggravated form, or that suitable means would be taken to meet the calamity. Neither the House nor the Government had taken measures to counterbalance the effects of this dreadful calamity—not from any want of disposition, but from an ignorance of the social condition of the people, and the state of the country generally. The hon. Baronet the 1306 Member for Waterford had endeavoured to prove that the establishment of the poor-law in Ireland had considerably increased the number of convictions; but he (Mr. B. Osborne) would show that there was another system in Ireland which had increased crime, oppressed the poor, and debased agriculture to its lowest level. It was a fault which he presumed to find with the legislation of England, that whilst they were endeavouring to shadow out some scheme of future good for Ireland, they neglected to apply their minds to a monstrous evil lying at their very door, and the removal of which would afford immediate relief to a great portion of Ireland. He thought he would be able to show that about 1,500,000l., a sum equal to the rental of all Connaught, was lost to the proprietors of estates tinder the management of the Court of Chancery, and that not one sixpence of that sum was contributed towards the poor-rates, or expended in improvements. That House was aware that a Committee was now sitting to inquire into the Irish poor-law, and with that they thought proper to connect an inquiry into the circumstances of the estates under the management of the Court of Chancery. Although at first sight this might seem foreign to the subject, he thought before he sat down he should be able to prove that there was the most intimate connection between them. A Bill had been brought in this Session by one of the most able Solicitor Generals that ever sat in that House, and although he (Mr. B. Osborne) approved of its principle, yet he must say that it was a delusion to expect that that Bill would have any effect in relieving the poverty of Ireland. They had heard unlimited abuse of Irish proprietors; it was a catching subject, and easily handled. All eyes were now open to the faults of Irish landlords; but it appeared to him rather odd that when hon. Gentlemen abused that class with a copious vocabulary, they exempted from any remark the largest proprietor—the Court of Chancery in Ireland. He would show that that court, by the mismanagement of estates, was creating the greatest misery among an enormous tenantry, adding to the poor-rates, filling the gaols, and paralysing the exertions of adjoining proprietors who had the good fortune not to be under the care, or rather the curse, of the Court of Chancery. It was well known to every gentleman in Ireland, that if he passed through a district where there was unusual poverty 1307 —where the cabins were wretched, and the fields covered with thistles, he would be told if he inquired into that state of things, that the property was under the Court of Chancery. The people of England were in the habit of preaching the doctrine of self-reliance to the struggling wretches in Ireland, who had neither motive nor power for exertion, but they never preached self-reliance to the Court of Chancery. He wanted to know whether the estates under the management of that court should not be managed on the same principles that were applied to other estates. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had lately used those remarkable words in reference to this subject:—All your measures for drainage, for local improvements, and for emigration, "will be ineffectual, unless you can cure this monster evil arising out of the condition of landed property in the Court of Chancery. If you could relieve those estates from the control of the Court of Chancery, you would do more for the advancement of Ireland than by any other measure you can adopt.One of the best Lord Chancellors that Ireland ever had (Sir E. Sugden), suggested several measures of reform with respect to that court; but he was defeated in his attempt to rectify the evil. He (Mr. B. Osborne) hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite the Member for the University of Dublin—a Gentleman illustrious in his profession—would give his attention to this subject, and endeavour to effect some needful and timely reform. When an estate comes under the control of the Court of Chancery, the first thing that court did was to appoint a receiver, whose sole duty was to receive the rents. He was not expected to have any knowledge of agriculture, nor even to visit the estates. So long as he screwed the greatest amount of rent out of the unfortunate tenants, he was supposed to be qualified for his office. He was paid five per cent poundage on the money he collected, and was not obliged to account to the Master in Chancery until fifteen months after passing his last account. It was, therefore, impossible to know what was the exact amount of arrears at the end of each year. His motto was, Rem quocwnque modo rem. The estate was let to the highest bidder at a public auction, and the Master was not able to give a lease for longer than seven years, or pending the case. No tenant under the Court of Chancery was called on to pay a gale of rent until there was five months' rent due, and rent was seldom asked for before twelve months. The receiver was 1308 unable to lay out any money on the improvement of the property without referring to the Master, and the Master generally had no power to permit him. On Lord Lang-ford's estate, in the county Meath, the receiver had been applying for nine years for leave to expend 97l. in deepening a river, which improvement would give an enhanced value of 60l. a year to the property by bringing additional land into cultivation. Last year he got the money, but the improvement could not then be carried into effect at treble the expense. In the case of O'Connor v. Malone, it appeared that on a farm of 250 acres, held by one tenant, there were 131 families, comprising 600 persons. The receiver applied to the Court of Chancery for assistance to enable the people to emigrate. The creditors did not oppose, but the remainderman did. After a vast deal of delay, he succeeded in getting 2l. 10s. for each family, and then they were all ejected. Instead of emigrating, however, they located themselves on the adjoining property, and became a burden on the poor-rate, to the detriment of other proprietors. This showed that the estates in Chancery were closely connected with the working of the poor-law. A return which he (Mr. B. Osborne) had moved for on the 3rd of December, 1847, and which was printed last year, gave an account of a state of things arising out of the mismanagement of the Court of Chancery, that would hardly be credited. In many instances the names of the receivers were not given in that return. The Christian name of Anthony was given for one receiver, but no surname. It appeared that among those receivers who were known, there were nine attorneys, twelve farmers, fourteen merchants, four shopkeepers, two barristers, two land surveyors, and four hundred who were styled gentlemen. Now, every one acquainted with Ireland knew that there a gentleman meant one who had no available means of meeting his liabilities. Heaven help the tenants when such were the receivers! But would the House believe it, that some of the receivers were of the feminine gender. There was a Mrs. Fitzgerald, Rosanna O'Loughlin, and Elizabeth Stokes. Some of the receivers were clergymen—men who, of all others, ought most religiously to abstain from undertaking such duties. In the case of Finan v. Mahon, the Rev. Hepsworth Luscombe, of a vicarage in Devonshire, was the receiver. The conducting clerk in a 1309 solicitor's office in Dublin, having taken a bribe of 50l. in a case in which his employers were concerned, they got rid of him by appointing him to be the receiver over an estate, on the condition that they were to have all his law business. In one case an attorney had been appointed receiver, contrary to a general order of the late Master of the Rolls, which prevented attorneys from acting as receivers. This man had given an undertaking on his appointment that he would relinquish the profession of an attorney; but, notwithstanding his promise, he was now practising in Athlone. His wife opened a loan fund, from which the tenants on the estate were encouraged to borrow at usurious interest; and if they failed to pay, the receiver would prosecute them at the sessions. If the return to which he was referring were thoroughly sifted, it would expose a perfectly shocking system of robbery and villany in connection with the Court of Chancery. He had received a letter from an Irish gentleman, who stated that an estate of his had been in Chancery since 1806, and that during that time a single sixpence had never been expended on improving it. He said there was 1,500,000l. of the rental of Ireland under Chancery. He thought he might safely say that more than one-sixth of the free rental of Ireland was, technically speaking, under that court. The cost of obtaining permission to lay out money on improvements was so great, that it often exceeded the expense of the improvements themselves. The Irish Jurist, a paper celebrated for its ability, and whose statements might be perfectly relied upon, stated that the estate of a half-pay officer who had got into Chancery only produced 11l., but the expense of appointing a receiver was upwards of 70l., and the debtor actually died in the workhouse, having been ruined by the system. He (Mr. B. Osborne) would venture to say that the poor-rates in Armagh, Carlow, Donegal, Londonderry, and Monaghan, were lower than in the southern counties. What was the reason? Because in the counties he had enumerated there were only five properties in the Court of Chancery. In the county Down there was only one estate out of forty-seven in Chan-eery, and he would venture to say that the poor-rates there were 2s. in the pound less than in the southern counties. Did not these facts speak volumes? In Tipperary, Limerick, and Waterford, there were no loss than 276 estates in Chancery. In Galway, Mayo, Sligo, and Roscommon, 1310 there were in Chancery 153 estates, representing a rental of 250,000l. a year. In Ballina there were 18 estates under receivers, and the consequence was, that the proprietors were overwhelmed with pauperism. In Skibbereen such was the poverty of the people, that they were dying by hundreds. On one estate six hundred coffinless bodies were thrown like dead dogs into two holes. But the poor were not the only sufferers by this system—Major Mahon, of Strokestown, and Mr. Rockwell, were murdered by their tenants, on the speculation that the estates would get into Chancery, and that then they would have to pay no rent at all. The present Master of the Rolls—a man celebrated for his ability, humanity, and patriotic feeling—said, when sitting in judgment last April—The system of receivers is a disgrace to this country, and the country never can nor will prosper till the present receivers are removed root and branch, and the management placed under some public and responsible body.He thought that the Government ought at once to appoint a Select Committee upon this subject. Sure he was that they had granted Committees on many a more futile subject. He would pledge himself, if a Committee were granted, to submit a plan which would have the effect of not only remedying those evils, but which would hold out a better state of things for the peasantry and tenants who were placed under the care of the horrible Court of Chancery.
§ MR. NAPIER
concurred in much that had been said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down. The evils which he had so well described were dragging Ireland down into the deepest abyss of miseryand degradation; and he (Mr. Napier) therefore implored the House not to suffer the present Session to close without passing some measure for their removal. He had ascertained, during the recent recess, that upwards of 2,000,000l. of the rental of Ireland was now in the hands of receivers under the Court of Chancery. One of the Masters of the Irish Court of Chancery had stated that the average weekly rent of estates passing through his hands into those of receivers, was between 2,000l. and 3,000l. By a law which the House passed in 1835, power was given to judgment creditors to appoint receivers over every species of property in Ireland. That law enabled a judgment creditor, no matter how small 1311 might be his demand, to appoint a receiver over the chattel as well as the real estate of his debtor. By such a system the social evils of the country had been infinitely aggravated. Every good and reasonable man in that House must feel the instant necessity of releasing from the management of the Court of Chancery so large a proportion as one-sixth of the whole fee-rental of Ireland. No advance of money was required to remedy the evils of the existing system. If the present machinery were put under proper control, the estates now under the management of the Court of Chancery might be pattern estates for the rest of Ireland. That was the opinion of the witnesses examined before the Devon Commission. He had it from an authentic quarter that about the year 1800, the time of the Union, the amount of rental under the control of the Irish Court of Chancery was no more than 200,000l. a year—and now, as he had stated, it was about 2,000,000l., and was daily increasing. The usual course of proceeding adopted by a creditor seeking to recover his debt from the owner of an estate was this:—he filed his bill, and as there were no disputed facts, no answer was filed. Then came an application for a receiver. The debtor knew that his property would be ruined if it should go into the hands of a receiver, or that, at all events, he need not expect to recover its possession within any reasonable time. He therefore staved off as long as he could the appointment of a receiver; and until that appointment the owner endeavoured to get all the rent he could from his tenants, who combined with him to deprive, as far as possible, the receiver from obtaining the rents of the estate. The tenants on the arrival of the receiver were more or less demoralised by this combination, and ready for resistance. How was it possible, under such a system, to expect moral or social improvement? As soon as property came tinder the management of the Court of Chancery, that property appeared to be released from all duties. As the hon. and gallant Member had truly said, the late Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Sir E. Sugden, was startled by the present corrupt system of managing estates under the control of the Court of Chancery. No man had done more than Sir E. Sugden to promote useful and sound reforms in the administration of justice whilst he presided over the Irish Court of Chancery. He had introduced most useful rules in the prac- 1312 tice of the Court of Chancery, but they had all, more or less, been evaded. A receiver was appointed over an estate, not because he was the person best fitted for its management, but because he could provide sureties for the due payment into court of what should reach his hands in the shape of rents. He was a party recommended by the plaintiff, who wished to serve him; and a clever solicitor, with a facile receiver, could easily contrive to keep the estates in their hands by making them produce no more than would pay the interest of the creditor's debt, and the expenses of managing the estates, taking care not to lay out one farthing on improvements. Eighteen months generally elapsed before a receiver was appointed after the filing of a bill; and fifteen more months elapsed before he was called upon to account; so that until the expiration of three years from the commencement of the suit, the creditor could not touch one farthing of his interest, and in the meantime the estate was allowed to fall into ruin. The receiver was not allowed to proceed for the recovery of rent until it was five months in arrear, and he was allowed to do nothing except under the direction of the Master, who could not know anything about the estate. Now, surely the rights of creditors ought not to supersede the primary duties of property; but this system delayed the creditor, injured at once the owner and the public, and did good only to those interested in an expensive management of the estate. If a receiver did anything beyond the mere collection of the rents, it was liable to be overhauled; and there were always small creditors ready to go before the Master upon such matters, with the estate liable for costs. If so large a portion of the property of the country was to be taken for the sake of enforcing the rights of creditors, surely the Court of Chancery ought to have the powers of an owner, and this property ought to be managed as under a system of good private agency. An Act was passed to encourage leases by reducing the stamp to 1s.; but it only applied to leases for a certain term, and every lease under the Court of Chancery was effectually excluded, nor could such a lease be obtained at a less cost than 7l. The receiver had to give the two years' security because of his being allowed to hold over the money for so long; and an important part of the profits of his office consisted in his turning the money to his private purposes. A 1313 very experienced officer of the Rolls' Court was of opinion that property under the court did not upon an average yield more than two-thirds, frequently not more than one-half, what it paid under the owner's hands; and the Master of the Rolls stated that it appeared by returns that, from 1841 to 1843 (the amount would be larger if the return were carried later), an arrear of a quarter of a million of money had arisen from the had management of estates by receivers. He (Mr. Napier) trusted, now that the House had got into this subject, they would not part with it until they had done something which would encourage hope and confidence in Ireland. The hon. Member for Middlesex had mentioned that there were two classes of receivers, male and female, and that the properties under the latter were better managed than the properties under the former. He (Mr. Napier) imagined that the latter cases would be found to be chiefly those either of minors or lunatics. Those properties were generally better managed than other properties, because the Court of Chancery had much more ample powers in such cases than in others, and could go to greater expenses for improvements. Now, he thought that they might usefully interfere with estates to which receivers were appointed for the creditors. What they required to do for that purpose was, to give to the Court of Chancery larger powers and machinery. He thought that a gentleman should be appointed as receiver master. Under him should be district receivers, to have a check over the persons appointed as receivers on properties in the various districts. The receivers should be made to give a weekly account of their receipts to the district receiver, and pay the amount received into a bank, and the district receiver should make up half-yearly an account of all the receipts of his district. The receiver master should make inquiries relative to the properties from time to time, and, by ordering such improvements to be made as might be required, bring them as nearly as possible into the state they would be in if the inheritor had the management and a beneficial interest in them. Such a measure would bring the property under more beneficial management, and cause the introduction of capital and restore confidence in the country. As they had the power to dispossess the inheritor from his estate, they ought to have the power of dealing beneficially with it—in fact, it 1314 ought to be made a model property. What was there when that property was taken, which should prevent their spending a part of the income in beneficial improvements? In Ballina there were eighteen properties in the hands of receivers, and why should not some means be taken to make beneficial improvements upon them? Why should not the Court of Chancery have the power of granting beneficial leases, and seeing that they were properly managed? If that was done, they would not read of such cases as one he had before him, in which forty-three persons were turned off the lands under an order of the Court of Chancery, the heads of the families being ablebodied men, not willing to go to the workhouse, but they were compelled to do so. There was no man of common humanity and common feeling, who, when he saw such a state of things existing as that which had been described, on a large portion of property, who would not endeavour to do something which would improve it and restore confidence among the people. He was averse to encouraging the people to look to legislation as a means of improving their condition; but he considered Parliament bound, if they could apply a remedy to a great practical evil, to do it. He thought a short inquiry into these things—even if it did not elicit any facts beyond what was known to some of them—would, on an examination of a few witnesses from Ireland acquainted with the system, prove beneficial, and enable the House to frame a measure which would tend to the improvement of these estates, and the restoration of confidence. That was no party matter, and he had no doubt that if an inquiry was made, such a Bill might be brought into operation before November next as, under the blessing of God, he hoped would be instrumental in getting rid of a great practical evil.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
I rise to say only a few words on this subject, because, in fact, I have no objection to the proposal of the hon. Member for Middlesex, for an inquiry. I think the question is one of the highest importance. I think the evils referred to by the hon. Member for Middlesex, and so ably dwelt on by the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down, and who has brought his experience and knowledge of the law to bear upon the subject—I think those evils are such, that it is most desirable that, as far as we can, we should endeavour to apply a remedy to them. I should say, likewise, that the 1315 Lord Chancellor of Ireland has for some time past paid great attention to this subject, and it is certainly no fault of his that a measure has not been introduced with reference to it before. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland had traced out a plan, which, if a Committee is appointed, shall be laid before them; he has traced it out in great detail, and I think it would be a very fit subject for inquiry by the Committee. That plan has great advantages, on the one hand; but on the other, as it seems to us, it is open to grave objections; and it has therefore been under consideration, with a view to a mitigation of the objections which have been found to it. But I think it most desirable that this question should go to a Committee, as in that Committee any of the reasons in favour of this plan, or-objections to it, might be sifted. It has been said, that the plan of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland does not materially differ from that proposed by the hon. and Iearned Member for the university of Dublin; but I can hardly go the length of that hon. and learned Member in saying that I should expect from the appointment of public and responsible receivers, the benefits to be anticipated from leaving proprietors in the management of their own property, being resident on their property, and feeling an interest, from family considerations, in the improvement of their estates. I should rather think, therefore, that one of the objects of the Committee should be to inquire whether this system of appointing receivers, and the facilities for charging estates with debt, has not been carried too far under the law as it at present exists. Although I consider the principle just which makes the estate liable for the debts of the owner, yet I think that if the principle is carried too far, it leads to injury to the persons who may be living on the estate—the estate becoming, as it were, the interest and property of the creditor, at the same time that the creditor has not the management of the estate. I fear that no appointment of a public receiver, however well he may he selected, can compensate for the loss of a proprietor, whose hands are free, and who is able to manage his estate. That, however, is a point which might properly come under the consideration of the Committee. I think, although this subject does not immediately belong to the question before the House, that nevertheless all these questions are intimately connected together. The House has received valuable informa- 1316 tion from the hon. Member for Middlesex, and from the hon. and learned Gentleman, and therefore I do not think that we can regret that this discussion has taken place. If the hon. Gentleman will at any time move for the appointment of such a Committee, I certainly shall be ready to support that Motion; and my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, who has introduced some measures on this subject, and has other measures in relation to it, will also be ready to give all the assistance in his power to any measures of which the House may approve. I think, with the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, that not by one great measure, but by different measures directed to different objects, we should endeavour to rescue Ireland from the evils under which she is now suffering.
§ MR. F. FRENCH
wished to call attention to the fact, that the question involved in the Motion of the hon. Member for Waterford had been entirely lost sight of in the discussion which had just taken place. It ought to be seen whether the statements made in support of that Motion were correct, or whether the allegations made bore out the statements put upon the Paper. He had no wish to detain the House, but he had heard the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth lay great stress on the report of the commissions, blaming the Irish landlords for the cruelty said to be practised in the eviction of tenants. He did not know that, such evictions had taken place. He had no evidence that they had, and that would not be the first time that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had quoted reports which afterwards turned out not to be true. He recollected evictions taking place which were laid upon the landlords, when in fact they were the result of a kind of Lynch law of the people. The neighbourhood had become infested with bad characters, and in order to get rid of them the houses were pulled down. That had been represented to be the work of the landlord. It was taken up by the hon. Member for Stroud, but excited little attention until the seal of the right hon. Member for Tamworth was put upon it, and a measure was introduced to put an end to such practices. It was not fair to attribute blame to the Irish landlords—the fact being that the blame was due to that House—to English statesmen who had forced a law upon Ireland (the poor-law) which her state was not fitted for. He 1317 and other hon. Members had offered to show to the Government in 1843, when Lord St. Germans was Secretary for Ireland, that these kind of charges were not justified; and the right hon. Member for Tamworth was the last man in the House, from his means of information, who ought to bring forward such charges.
§ SIR R. PEEL
said, that he could not silently acquiesce in the rebuke passed upon him by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roscommon. All the regret he had to express was, that he had rather understated the case of parties in Ireland; for, on looking again at the reports, he found that he had painted it very faintly and feebly. When he believed the Irish landlords and gentlemen had injustice done to them, he had not been slow to vindicate them; but, in his opinion, the Irish Gentlemen themselves ought to be the first to disclaim any connexion with the acts to which reference had been made in the early part of the evening. He assumed that the papers laid upon the table of that House were correct. He presumed that Her Majesty's Government would not lay-documents there for the guidance and conduct of hon. Members in legislation, without being themselves convinced that those documents had not been grossly exaggerated. Did he make any attacks on Irish landlords generally? Did he throw upon individuals a charge which might be justly attributable to legislation? He had indeed said, that there were particular instances cited by Captain Kennedy which should not be laid upon the table, and one day suffered to elapse without inquiring into them. It was easy to say the House of Commons was responsible for these instances. Let others do what they would, all the blame was charged upon the House of Commons; but was legislation, or any particular body, responsible for the acts he was going to mention? Was the House of Commons responsible for the following-act mentioned in Captain Kennedy's report?—In a cow-shed, adjoining this wretched cabin, I found 'Ellen Lynch,' lying in an almost hopeless state of dysentery. She had been carried thither by her son, when 'thrown out' of her miserable lodging, and was threatened with momentary expulsion from even this refuge by the philanthropic owner of it; her only safety rested in the fears of all but her son to approach her.Was that the fault of the House of Commons, that a woman in dysentery, driven from her cabin, had taken shelter in a cow-shed, from which she was about to be 1318 expelled by the party who evicted her from the cabin, and was only prevented from doing so by fear of the dysentery under which she laboured? Was it the fault of the House of Commons, that the only being who approached her was her son, whose filial affection overcame the fear of contagion? Did the House of Commons impose any necessity upon the landlord to evict her? No; and therefore let not hon. Members try to relieve individuals from the individual responsibility which properly belonged to them. The House of Commons was no doubt responsible for bad legislation and the results of it, but let not the House be made responsible for acts of individual inhumanity. Was the House responsible for the following case, also reported by Captain Kennedy:—While inspecting a stone-breaking depot, a few days since, I observed one of the men take off his remnant of a pair of shoes and start across the fields; I followed him with my eye; and, at a distance, saw the blaze of a fire in the bog. I sent a boy to inquire the cause of it, and the man running from his work, and was told, that his house had been levelled the day before—that he had erected a temporary hut on the lands, and, while his wife and children were gathering shellfish on the strand, and he breaking stones, the bailiff, or 'driver,' fired it.Let not this be thrown upon the House of Commons, but let Irish Gentlemen say, what they might say with truth, that these were individual cases. That would be a wiser and more becoming course for Irish Gentlemen to adopt, than to take the one pursued by the hon. Member for Roscommon, and say, that individuals were not responsible. [Mr. FRENCH: I never said that.] You said, that I ought to be the last man to take notice of these reports, and that the Legislature was responsible for what was occurring. There was one thing mentioned by Captain Kennedy, which, almost more than any other, deepened the colour of these acts:—I need not enter upon the financial condition of the union, which the estimates forwarded will sufficiently explain. I need only remark, that I anticipate a respectable collection this week, and for some weeks to come: but certainly not sufficient to meet more than half the current expenses of the union for food alone.If you want anything else to awaken feelings of sympathy with those who are thus suffering, it ought to be the assurance that they are submitting to it with a forbearance and patience which exceeds belief. I do not think, Sir, I had deserved blame, or had acted contrary to the spirit 1319 of justice to Irish proprietors, to say, on the first day after those papers were laid on the table of the House, that we should give a proof to Ireland, that such facts shall not he stated in public documents, and be buried in oblivion.
§ MR. F. FRENCH
explained. He never said that individuals should be relieved from the responsibility of their own acts. What he said was, that the right hon. Baronet should not have attempted to place upon individuals the consequences of a state of things which had resulted from his own legislation.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 144; Noes 30: Majority 114.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Grenfell, C. P.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Guest, Sir J.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Hallyburton, Lord J. F.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Hastie, A.|
|Baines, M. T.||Hawes, B.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Heald, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Heneage, G. H. W.|
|Blakemore, R.||Henry, A.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Bremridge, R.||Heyworth, L.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hindley, C.|
|Browne, R. D.||Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Hollond, R.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Christy, S.||Jackson, W.|
|Clive, H. B.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Jones, Capt.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Keppel, hon. G. T.|
|Craig, W. G.||Kershaw, J.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Kildare, Marq. of|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Langston, J. H.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Drummond, H.||Littleton, hon. E. R.|
|Duff, G. S.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Duff, J.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Duncan, G.||Maitland, T.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Martin, J.|
|Evans, W.||Martin, C. W.|
|Ewart, W.||Martin, S.|
|Fagan, W.||Masterman, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Matheson, J.|
|Forster, M.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Fortescue, C.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Fox, W. J.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Morris, D.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Greenall, G.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Shafto, R. D.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Shell, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Oswald, A.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Pakington, Sir J.||Smith, J. A.|
|Palmer, R.||Smith, M. T.|
|Palmerston, Visct.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Spooner, R.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Peel, F.||Sutton, J. H. M.|
|Pennant, hon. Col.||Talfourd, Serjt.|
|Perfect, R.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Pilkington, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Thornely, T.|
|Price, Sir R.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Pryse, P.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Pugh, D.||Willyams, H.|
|Raphael, A.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Ricardo, O.||Wilson, J.|
|Rich, H.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Roche, E. B.||Wood, W. P.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Wyld, J.|
|Rushout, Capt.||Wyvill, M.|
|Russell, Lord J.||TELLERS.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Tufnell, H.|
|Sandars, G.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Haves, Sir E.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Blake, M. J.||Keogh, W.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Ker, R.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Magan, W. H.|
|Castloreagh, Visct.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Moore, G. H.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Osborne, R.|
|French, F.||St. George, C.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Grattan, H.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Barron, Sir H. W.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Dunne, Col.|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee; Mr. Bernal in the chair.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
Sir, after the specimen of fairness which I experienced when I was going to express my opinion on the poor-law just before the last division, there is but one course left me—either to insist upon the House enforcing justice to its Members, or by doing away with an absurd practice; and therefore, Sir, I see strangers present (waving his hat towards the reporters' gallery).
Strangers were immediately ordered to withdraw.
§ On Clause 1,
§ MR. MONSELL
thought it would be advisable to take a discussion on the maximum rate on the first clause. He considered it likely that the discussion would be long, and therefore ought not to be proceeded with at so late an hour.
§ MR. STAFFORD
had meant yesterday to give notice to raise this question on the words "it shall not he lawful."
§ MR. E. B. ROCHE
did not see why, if they were to proceed, they should not proceed at once. When every one complained of the poor-law, it was waste of time not to go on.
§ MR. GRATTAN
had long been a Member of the House, and he had never known a case where a Member, whoso speech for five minutes was not reported, should get up and deprive the public of the means of knowing what took place. He should move an adjournment in order to decide this question. When Mr. Wyndham was not reported, he did not act thus. He proceeded with his speeches. Why punish him who meant to make a good speech on that question? He confessed he was a young man, and vain, and wanted his speech reported. His (M. Grattan's) hon. Friend might not care. Don't let us make ourselves ridiculous in the eyes of the country.
§ MR. J. O'CONNELL
said, it was of importance for the sake of others. If the House were satisfied, he could not help it. He complained of unfairness. He bad seen messengers of the gallery speaking with the reporters. It might be ludicrous; but he would stand up for the right of Members to be treated fairly. He feared he must deprive his Friend of the pleasure of seeing his speech in print.
§ MAJOR BLACKALL
proposed to go on without further waste of time. On a matter of such vast importance, they ought to go on without the reporters. Whether it would be advisable to support a maximum rate at all, was a most important question.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, the principal reason for the maximum rate was, that it would induce persons to occupy and cultivate land, giving greater means for sup-port of the poor. Nor was this theoretical; 1322 one gentleman gave evidence that he had tried this. He had promised his tenants that when the rate come to 5s. he would pay it.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, the same gentleman said that this would not do without a diminished area of taxation.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
was as anxious as any one to go on. He thought the noble Lord should state when the subject would be renewed, as it was impossible to finish at that late hour.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, be should take the Parliamentary Oath Bill first, on Monday; and this Bill second, if not for Thursday.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 163: Majority 132.
|List of the AYES.|
|Bateson, T.||Grogan, E.|
|Beresford, W.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Callaghan, D.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Castlereagh, Visct.||Hill, Lord E.|
|Caulfeild, J. M.||Ker, R.|
|Chichester, Lord J. L.||Lawless, hon. C.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Magan, W. H.|
|Cole, hon. H. A.||Milton, Visct.|
|Colvile, C. R.||O'Connell, M.|
|Conolly, T.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Reynolds, J.|
|Dick, Q.||Somers, J. P.|
|Dickson, S.||Stafford, A.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Farnham, E. B.||TELLERS.|
|Fitzpatrick, rt. hon. J. W.||Grattan, H.|
|Fox, R. M.||Monsell, W.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Clive, H. B.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Craig, W. G.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Crowder, R. B.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Damer, hon. Col.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.|
|Baines, M. T.||Davies, D. A. S.|
|Baring, rt. hn. Sir F. T.||Dawson, hon. T. V.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Bellow, R. M.||Drummond, H.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Duncan, G.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Ebrington, Visct.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Evans, W.|
|Brotherton, J.||Fagan, W.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Burke, Sir T. J.||Filmer, Sir E.|
|Buxton, Sir E. N.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Forster, M.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Fortescue, C.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Fox, W. J.|
|Christy, S.||French, F.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Goddard, A. L.||Mullings, J. R.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Mundy, W.|
|Grace, O. D. J.||Napier, J.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Greenall, G.||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Greene, J.||O'Connell, J.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||O'Flaherty, A.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Grey, R. W.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Palmer, R.|
|Hallyburton, Ld. J. F. G.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Hamilton, J. H.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Peel, F.|
|Hastie, A.||Pennant, hon. Col.|
|Hastie, A.||Pilkington, J.|
|Hawes, B.||Plowden, W. H. C.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Price, Sir R.|
|Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.||Ricardo, O.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Rice, E. R.|
|Heald, J.||Rich, H.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Roche, E. B.|
|Henley, J. W.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Henry, A.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Russell, hon. E. S.|
|Heyworth, L.||Rutberfurd, A.|
|Hindley, C.||St. George, C.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Sandars, G.|
|Hodges, T. L.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Hollond, R.||Scully, F.|
|Horsman, E.||Simeon, J.|
|Howard, Lord E.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Smith, J. A.|
|Jackson, W.||Smith, M. T.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Jones, Capt.||Spooner, R.|
|Keppel, hon. G. T.||Talfourd, Serj.|
|Kildare, Marq. of||Tenison, E. K.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Thompson, Col.|
|Lacy, H. C.||Thornely, T.|
|Lascolles, hon. W. S.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Lewis, G. C.||Trelawny, J. J. S.|
|Macnaghten, Sir E.||Turner, G. J.|
|M'Cullagh, W. T.||Verney, Sir H.|
|M'Gregor, J.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Maitland, T.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Martin, J.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Martin, C. W.||Willyams, H.|
|Martin, S.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Masterman, J.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Matheson, J.||Wilson, M.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Wyvill, M.|
|Mitchell, T. A.|
|Moore, G. H.||TELLERS.|
|Morris, D.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Tufnell, H.|
§ MR. STAFFORD
thought it unfortunate that this Committee on the poor-law should begin at midnight, when it could not come on again till Monday night, owing to the arrangement of the Government. The noble Lord at the head of the Government said himself that this evening had not by any means been lost, as they had had a good debate. He (Mr. Stafford) 1324 had proposed to take the objection to the maximum rate on the words "It shall be lawful." If beaten, then they meant to fight on the words "five shillings," in the 14th line, and divide on a subsequent passage. It must be a subject of great importance for Englishmen to know whence the money was to come from when the maximum rate was attained. The noble Lord said that Mr. Martin had tried this on his estate, promising to pay his tenants when the maximum rate was reached. The Premier was here Mr. Martin, and the Consolidated Fund was his estate, so that when the maximum rate was attained, the Consolidated Fund must be attacked. What stimulus was there to employment under this plan? The assumption would be, that the maximum rate would always be reached, so that as the occupier was the only person who could give employment, no stimulus would be afforded. The farmer would deal with his landlord on this assumption. We have had experience of this in England. 36 Geo. III., chap. 10, formed a precedent (he quoted from the preamble). A maximum rate is established in this English Act, but then those Gentlemen who hope there is any permanence in such an arrangement would be disappointed. Another Act was passed to double the arrangement. Then comes 52 Geo. III., abolishing the plan altogether. Agricultural prices in Ireland would fall, and the analogy with England was the stronger. The noble Lord said the maximum rate was an inducement to invest. He asked how a capitalist, looking to English legislation on the poor-law affairs, could think it safe to invest 100l. on Irish property, unless their legislation contained the germs of a better system? Do you think that a capitalist who had seen such vicissitudes, such fresh burdens on landed property, would trust that no further change would be proposed? What would prevent our doubling the maximum rate when the maximum was attained? Where would more money come from? You must diminish pauperism with Irish resources undeveloped. You must say to this tide of Irish pauperism, "Thus far shall you go, and no further." The Bill had no guarantee that the maximum rate would not be exceeded. It would not tell well for English reprentatives to let it be understood that the remainder should come from English resources. Eevery statement showed that poverty was increasing. The expenditure exceeded by far 5s. in the pound in the 1325 distressed districts. How were they to proceed? There ought to be more openness and plain statement in the Bill. It would be recollected that the law of settlement depended upon the statement of the pauper and the allocation of the guardians. The result of the maximum rate would be to attempt great injustice to electoral divisions. One electoral division would be overburdened, and others comparatively escape. The question is, would you or would you not have the law a stimulus to employment? If farmers could thus shuffle off their burden on others, how would the end—" employment"—be attained? The noble Lord had refused to state whence the overplus of pauperism was to he relieved. There would be no security to the owners of property. The plan would mulct the industrious for the sake of the indolent and wrongful. He thus could not conceive how Parliament, believing in the duty of the rich towards the poor, could pass the Bill; yet it would pass. The House had registered the will of the noble Lord throughout. He reluctantly warned the noble Lord that the Bill contained a dangerous and fatal principle.
MR. VERNON SMITH
had asked, on the second reading of the Bill, what would be the fund when the maximum rate was attained? The noble Lord at the head of the Government said, first come on the parish—then on the union—but, afterwards, there was a blank. The country was to be as it was before the poor-law, in other words, Irish poverty would have to come on English property. Against this, the noble Lord sets this, that capital would be encouraged to flow into Ireland; but what hopes were there of that? What said Mr. Aubrey de Vere—a very clear witness? The farmer would take no pains to keep down the maximum. The rate would jump up to that point at once. Estates would be taken accordingly, and pauperism would be where it was. He (Mr. V. Smith) protested against making bad laws to tempt capital into Ireland. In England all property is pledged to support the poor. Why not in Ireland? Another argument of Mr. de Vere was, that the variety of valuations in Ireland would make it still more uncertain which liabilities a farmer would incur. The measure would not introduce capital. It was merely an opinion—a theory of the noble Lord's, and would fail.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
said, the expenditure 1326 in several electoral divisions had reached 20s. in the pound. The maximum rate was on a good principle. No man would take land till liabilities were ascertained. The English principle was bad, and ought not to he extended. In only two cases had the 5s. been exceeded. The severity of other taxes in Ireland on the farmer was another reason. No county cess would be paid, unless there was a maximum rate.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, those who had argued the question had proceeded on the assumption that there was no call for money on the Consolidated Fund. Although the western unions were liable for the whole 40s. in the pound incurred, yet, as the rate was not collected, what good was such a liability? Did it not cause a panic, and prevent improvement? The farmer when told that the rate would only amount to 7s. would calculate accordingly. He could not conceive that the farmer would assume that the rates would run up to 5s., and even aid in making them run up in order to get 2s. out of others. This would be an absurdity. Suppose, for example, the rates were naturally only 1s. or 2s. He would have the ordinary interest in keeping down the rates. The hon. Gentleman had asked where they were to come for money after the maximum rate was obtained? Few of the divisions, in his opinion, would reach that sum. There would not be a large number of electoral divisions in which the rate would be exceeded. Things could not be left in their present condition. Rents would fall; the poor could not be relieved at all. If bad in principle, the maximum rate was better than doing nothing. He should object to advance out of the Consolidated Fund if the 7s. was exceeded. Ireland's condition would then be only the same as Scotland's. Till of late the poor-law was only voluntary; 5s. in every electoral division. 2s. on the union would be a great burden to impose so soon. The evidence before the Committee was in favour of the plan. Mr. Aubrey de Vere had evidently thought much on the general question, and gave good evidence; but still his opinion was that Mr. de Vere was a little influenced by his wish to find fault with everything connected with the poor-law. He (Lord J. Russell) believed this Bill to be a useful auxiliary to the Bill for the sale of incumbered estates. If land was made valueless, where was the use of a Bill to facilitate sales?
§ MR. H. HERBERT
thought the principle of a maximum rate would compensate for the vice of the Bill. There was nothing remedial in the Bill. There would be future calls on the imperial exchequer. 4s. 1d. was the largest sum ever collected in the distressed unions. Thus capitalists would never be safe. Some honest districts had paid more than the maximum rate. Had they stuck to the maximum, the poor would have died. He only wished to notice the remark of the right hon. Member for Northampton. He thought he had adopted the spirit of English Members on this law. When there was a danger of an inroad on the Consolidated Fund, he exclaimed against any change leading thereto. Only one English Member had agreed with Irish Members that the law of Ireland should, as Irish Gentlemen wished, he assimilated to the English law.
MR. SHAFTO ADAIR
said, larger sums than 4s. 1d. had been collected in one union. In Clare 6s. 6½d. had been collected. In Miltown division 8s. had been collected. He supported the maximum rate, as a measure, to give confidence to Ireland.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT
apprehended that as the noble Lord desired to get this Bill through as soon as possible, it would be advisable to fix Monday.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
thought Bills should be passed at once when the House had arrived at the third reading. He had agreed with other Members too on the subject. Besides, there were points in the poor-law still requiring amendment, He would rather adhere to the old arrangement.
§ Committee report progress.
§ House resumed.
§ To sit again on Monday next.
§ The House adjourned at One o'clock, till Monday next.