HC Deb 01 March 1849 vol 103 cc47-84

said, that as the Motion which he had to make related to the report of the Committee appointed by that House to consider the subject of Irish poor-laws, and as that Motion had been carried by a large majority, he need then only ask the House to go into Committee, and when the House was in Committee he would state what he had to propose.

Order for Committee thereupon read:—Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair:"—Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "it is unconstitutional and unjust to impose on Ireland separate national taxation for the wants of particular localities, so long as the public general revenue of Ireland is paid into an Imperial Treasury, and placed at the disposal of an Imperial Legislature for the general purposes of the united kingdom," instead thereof.


said, that to the Motion before the House, he (Mr. S. Crawford) had to move the Amendment which had just been read from the chair. He objected to any separate system of national taxation for Ireland under the present constitution of the empire. The Act of Union was framed on the principle of combined responsibility. The Union itself was forced on Ireland; but England, having taken Irish poverty into partnership, could not now repudiate the results of that connexion. He would not then enter into the question whether the repeal of the Union would be advantageous to Ireland or not; but if the Union was to be maintained, the principle of united responsibility must be its basis. When a smaller country was united to a larger one, whose inhabitants were the most numerous and influential of the two, there was no security for its interests but that of united responsibility. On this ground, he maintained that it was unconstitutional to create a separate system of national taxation for Ireland. It was unjust, also, to the industrious portions of the Irish community that they should be taxed in order to protect the landed proprietors of the west of Ireland against the results of their own misconduct. The rate in aid was proposed chiefly for the purpose of protecting the estates of those proprietors by fixing a maximum rate, and levying the difference on the industrial means of the people of Ulster and Leinster. The land ought to be brought to market and made responsible to the fullest extent, before any other means were taken to compel the industrious part of the community to pay for the misconduct of other portions. From the time of the Union the finances of Ireland had been in the hands of England, and her extravagant management had raised the debt of Ireland from 28,000,000l in 1801, to 130,000,000l. in 1847. The principal plea urged in favour of imposing this tax was, that Ireland had been guilty of great defalcations with regard to her debt. Whatever might have been done in that respect, England herself was responsible for it. At the time of the Union the contribution of Ireland towards the English debt was fixed at the proportion of two to fifteen. It had been acknowledged subsequently that that amount was excessive. The Finance Committee of 1815 said that experience proved that Ireland had laboured under too great a burden. He maintained that Ireland was not justly chargeable with any portion of the debt which had not been incurred before the time of the Union; but he would not stand out on that point. If any hon. Member would propose a Select Committee to ascertain what proportion of charges could be fairly apportioned to Ireland, he would assent to such a mode of settling the question. Another plea for establishing a separate system of national taxation was, that Ireland was not subject to the same taxation as England. Why was she not so? England had had the power of taxation in her own hands, and having abstained from taxing Ireland equally only on the ground of her incapacity to bear equal taxation, that formed no ground for now imposing a separate system of national taxation. For his own part, he was perfectly willing that Ireland should pay the income tax, or any amount of taxation which would be just and fair. On that point he was very anxious not to be misunderstood; he did not demand anything from England except on the ground that Ireland was prepared to pay her fair proportion of the taxes of the united kingdom. He had voted for the extension of the income tax to Ireland, and he should be ready to vote again for the imposition of any tax on that country with which it was fairly chargeable. He did not wish to see his countrymen coming before the British Parliament as beggars; he would rather see them approach the Legislature as independent men, willing to pay their fair proportion of taxation into the Imperial Treasury, but, at the same time, determined to maintain their rights. It was said that England kept her own poor, and Ireland should do the same. He was quite willing that Ireland should maintain her own poor in the same way that England did; but this country had never acted on that principle of making the whole nation responsible for the local wants of particular districts. He did not deny that advances of public money might be necessary at the present time to save the Irish people from starvation; but he maintained that all advances should be made out of the Imperial Treasury—that Ireland should be charged with her fair proportion of the debt—and that not one farthing should be applied without previously making the lands of the distressed districts responsible for the repayment. He was opposed to grants, as injurious to the real interests of the Irish people. The attempt to feed a pauper population was an impracticable one. What the people wanted was, not only food but clothes. Any relief which could be afforded would, therefore, be only temporary; and if the system were persevered in, nearly the whole community would become dependent on it. Now, the Government intended to propose a sixpenny rate. What would such a rate do towards relieving Irish pauperism? If Ireland consented to the imposition of a sixpenny rate, the extent of the demand would be incalculable; the demand of sixpence after sixpence would go on without any limit. He called upon English Members to do as they would be done by, and not to tax the industry of the northern and middle districts of Ireland on account of the extravagance and mismanagement of the western parts. It was most cruel and unjust to call upon the industrious population of Ulster to submit to a tax to which there would be no end. The House should recollect that the great hold of England upon Ireland was maintained through the feelings of the inhabitants of those districts. Ulster had always stood firmly by the British connexion; and he appealed to the House not to weaken the ties by which she had been bound to this country.


rose to say that he did not understand the object of the Motion of his hon. Friend. Every one admitted that something must be done for the relief of the distress of the people in 20 unions. His hon. Friend, as he under-stood him, proposed, in fact, an income tax, as he had supported on former occasions an income tax for Ireland. Now he (Mr. Roche) wanted to know what the Government had to propose. If the proposition of the Government was better than an income tax, he would support it; if worse, then he would vote against it. He wanted to have this subject discussed, where it best could be discussed, in Committee. He did not wish to clog himself with an abstract resolution in the first instance,; and then go into the discussion of a practical proposition. Now, he preferred the practical proposition to an abstract resolution; and then he must say the mode of reasoning employed by his hon. Friend did not make him regard his abstract resolution with overmuch favour. His hon. Friend had appealed to the House not to tax Ulster for the benefit of Connaught. Why, he (Mr. Roche) must, on the contrary, say, that there was something like a retributive justice in the rate in aid being required in Ulster; for he said to the Gentlemen opposite, to those who now possessed landed estates in the north of Ireland, that when their ancestors came and planted themselves in the north of Ireland, they exterminated the Catholic population, or they gave them this alternative, "You shall go to hell or to Connaught?" The Catholic population took the latter alternative, and they went to Connaught—they increased there in hundreds, he might say in millions, as his hon. Friend near him had suggested; and now the descendants of the men who had estates in the north were called upon to support the descendants of those who had been driven into Connaught. If, then, the rate in aid were to be opposed, he hoped that better and sounder reasons would be given for the opposition than those offered by his hon. Friend. He hoped, too, that those who opposed the proposition of the Government would be able to show that there was a better means of supporting the poverty of Ireland. He hoped, too, that they would all be prepared to decide upon some practical measures, and have something better before them than an abstract resolution.


appealed to the hon. Member for Rochdale to withdraw his Amendment, and permit the House to go into Committee. Agreeing, as he did, very much with his hon. Friend, yet he thought that they ought to have an opportunity of hearing what the Government had to say in favour of this most extraordinary measure.


was very anxious to oblige his noble Friend; but upon this occasion he could not consistently do so.


wished to state the grounds on which he felt it his duty to give his vote against the Amendment. He should feel obliged to vote against the Amendment, because he thought that it was most objectionable to propose an abstract principle of this kind before they went into Committee on the resolutions of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. At the same time he should also oppose the resolutions of the noble Lord, as he thought they embodied an unfair and partial measure.


said, he should at present feel satisfied with protesting against the measure in the terms of the resolution of the hon. Member for Rochdale. He thought that it was only fair that the whole empire should be taxed to meet an emergency like the present. If any great misfortune or calamity should unfortunately occur in Lancashire or any other spot, he thought that any charge which might be necessary to meet it, should be borne by the whole empire.


believed, that a general understanding prevailed between many hon. Gentlemen, that before Mr. Speaker left the chair there should be a discussion on the general principle of the measure of the noble Lord. Many hon. Members who could not assent to the proposition of the hon. Member for Rochdale were anxious to record their opinions on this subject. For his own part, he did not wish to speak on the question which the hon. Member had submitted to the House; but before Mr. Speaker left the chair, he should enter upon the consideration of the contemplated plan.


implored the hon. Member not to divide on that occasion. He thought it was only fair that Mr. Speaker should be allowed to leave the chair, so that they might all know what were the intentions of the Government.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." The House divided:—Ayes 139; Noes 15: Majority 124.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Buck, L. W.
Adair, R. A. S. Bunbury, E. H.
Anson, hon. Col. Busfeild, W.
Armstrong, R. B. Carew, W. H. P.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Chaplin, W. J.
Christy, S.
Baines, M. T. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Cobbold, J. C.
Bass, M. T. Cocks, T. S.
Bellew, R. M. Coles, H. B.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Cowan, C.
Bernal, R. Craig, W. G.
Bernard, Visct. Cubitt, W.
Boyle, hon. Col. Currie, H.
Broadley, H. Davies, D. A. S.
Brotherton, J. Disraeli, B.
Brown, W. Dodd, G.
Bruce, C. L. C. Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.
Duncan, G. Nugent, Lord
Dundas, Sir D. O'Brien, Sir L.
Dundas, G. O'Connell, M. J.
East, Sir J. B. O'Connor, F.
Ebrington, Visct. Ord, W.
Ellis, J. Paget, Lord C.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Pakington, Sir J.
Fordyce, A. D. Parker, J.
Forster, M. Perfect, R.
Fuller, A. E. Pilkington, J.
Gordon, Adm. Plowden, W. H.
Grace, O. D. J. Plumptre, J. P.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Prime, R.
Granby, Marq. of Raphael, A.
Greene, T. Reynolds, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Ricardo, J. L.
Halford, Sir H. Ricardo, O.
Hardcastle, J. A. Romilly, Sir J.
Hawes, B. Rufford, F.
Hayter, rt. hon. W. G. Russell, Lord J.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Salwey, Col.
Hervey, Lord A. Sandars, G.
Heyworth, L. Shelburne, Earl of
Hildyard, R. C. Sheridan, R. B.
Hobhouse, T. B. Sibthorp, Col.
Hodges, T. L. Slaney, R. A.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Hood, Sir A. Smyth, Sir H.
Howard, Lord E. Somerville, rt. hon. Sir W
Jackson, W. Spooner, R.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Stanton, W. H.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Stuart, J.
Kershaw, J. Talbot, C. R. M.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Tancred, H. W.
Langston, J. H. Thicknesse, R. A.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Thompson, Col.
Lennard, T. B. Thornely, T.
Lewis, G. C. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Townley, R. G.
Locke, J. Waddington, H. S.
Lopes, Sir R. Wall, C. B.
Mackenzie, W. F. Walmsley, Sir J.
Mahon, The O'Gorman Walsh, Sir J. B.
Mahon, Visct. Wawn, J. T.
Maitland, T. Wilson, J.
Manners, Lord G. Wilson, M.
Matheson, A. Wodehouse, E.
Matheson, Col. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Wrightson, W. B.
Moore, G. H. Wyvill, M.
Morris, D.
Mulgrave, Earl of TELLERS.
Mullings, J. R. Tufnell, H.
Newdegate, C. N. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Archdall, C. M. O'Connell, J.
Baring, hon. F. O'Flaherty, A.
Barron, Sir H. W. Osborne, R.
Castlereagh, Visct. Scully, F.
Fox, R. M. Tenison, E. K.
Hayes, Sir E. Tennent, R. J.
Macnaghten, Sir E. TELLERS.
Macnamara, Maj. Crawford, W. S.
Meagher, T. Dunne, Col.

Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."


then proceeded, pursuant to notice, to move a negative on the question that Mr. Speaker do leave the chair. He congratulated the House upon the great celerity which they had imparted this Session to their proceedings, and which appeared to extend to their Committees. The promptitude with which the Committee had come to a decision on a matter of such importance was utterly without precedent. He had heard of a late gallant and chivalrous Irish nobleman, whose advice to his sons was—"Fight first, hoys; and explain afterwards." The Committee appeared to have adopted a similar policy. They resolved first, and they inquired afterwards. So rapid was the progress of legislation now-a-days, that a Minister of State was sometimes startled at the marvellous celerity of his own movements, and found it impossible to pause for a moment in order to offer one word of explanation, or to make one word of inquiry. So it appeared to be in the present case. How did the present resolution come before them, and what was the exact value that ought to attach to it? The course that had been pursued with reference to it was most unconstitutional. It was quite an unprecedented proceeding, and one which did not at all accord with the doctrine of a Minister's proper and wholesome responsibility; that a Minister, feeling that he had not at his own command adequate sources of information, should appoint a Committee for the avowed purpose of obtaining the required information, and should then come down to that Committee with a resolution cut and dry, and having submitted it to the Members, and obtained their sanction to it, without producing one word of evidence in its justification, should then bring it before the House of Commons, and solicit the House to record their approval of it, fortifying his case by representing that it faithfully reflected the opinions of the Committee from which it emanated. Such a proceeding was alike contrary to the spirit of the constitution and the practice of Parliament. The resolution was at best nothing more than the record of the private opinion of six-and-twenty Members, whom the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in the exercise of that power which belonged to every Minister having a majority in that House, had chosen—for it would be offensive to say packed into a Committee. He challenged the noble Lord to show him a precedent for any such course as had been adopted in the present case. It would be disorderly and inconsistent with the usages of Parliament that he should refer more particularly to anything that had passed in the Committee; but he was at liberty to indulge in conjecture. The resolution which advocated the imposition of a rate in aid to the amount of 6d. in the pound might be a mere mutilated and fractional portion of a scheme hereafter to be developed, but of which at present they knew nothing. It might be that they were neither considering the whole plan of the Minister, nor the whole report of the Committee, but some fragmentary particle of a scheme, of which nobody knew anything, and for which nobody was responsible. In fact, they were totally in the dark, and knew not what they were about. Why was it that some report from the Committee did not accompany the resolution? Was the decision unanimous? Did the whole twenty-six Members concur in it? Of that they had no positive information whatever, but they were left to infer that there might have been, and probably was, very great difference of opinion in the Committee. Perhaps the resolution had come down to them not as the unanimous opinion of the little knot of Gentlemen upstairs, but simply as the balance of their opinion. Perhaps it came to them with no graver authority than this, that after casting up the debit and credit accounts, it was found that there was a small balance in favour of it. He never had known an instance where a resolution came down from a Committee in a shape less calculated to inspire a conviction of its importance, or in a shape less calculated to insure for it a favourable reception. The first thing to be looked at was the inadequacy of a rate of 6d. in the pound to effect the object it was designed to accomplish. The whole property valued to the poor-rate in Ireland was about 13,330,000l. The sum to be realised from a 6d. rate, would not, if every union in the kingdom were solvent, exceed 325,000l.; but they must deduct the 6d. on the twenty-one unions now in a state of insolvency, and whose rating amounted to 1,323,000l.; they must also deduct the ten or eleven unions which were stated to be on the brink of bankruptcy, and could not be supposed able to meet a new tax; they must also make a large allowance for insolvent electoral divisions, and individual estates; and, with all these deductions, they would be fortunate if they realised 200,000l. It had been computed that the 50,000l. that was granted a few nights since would not last for much more than a fortnight; and if that calculation were correct, it would be no difficult matter to estimate in how very brief a period the sum now proposed to be raised would be consumed. They were about to introduce a system which was essentially vicious, and which would destroy that principle of local responsibility which was one of the primary elements of the poor-law system, in order to raise a sum of money so insignificant, that it could not be expected to do more than to carry them over a few months. The measure, moreover, tended to increase and widen the circle of destitution which it professed to relieve. This proposition for a rate in aid was liable to the same objection as that which attached to the grant of 50,000l—namely, that it would tend to discourage industry. How would the unions heretofore solvent be able to endure this additional burden? A rate of 6d. might seem a very small matter, but when imposed in addition to the other heavy exactions which the solvent unions had been called upon to endure during the last twelve months, it would be sufficient to turn the scale, and to reduce those unions to the same state of bankruptcy as that in which the twenty-one insolvent unions were hopelessly engulphed. It would not tend to stimulate improvement, or to revive the paralysed industry of the country—it would be ruinous to that respectable class of occupying tenants who, having managed to stem the torrent heretofore, as well as they might, were now wavering as to whether they would adhere to their native country, or proceed to some other sphere where there was a better chance of their obtaining protection for their property and their toil. Ulster and Leinster had with difficulty managed in these trying times to keep their own heads above water; but they nevertheless would not object to make this effort on behalf of Connaught and Munster, if it could be demonstrated to them that any permanent or substantial advantage to those provinces would be the result. But it would be idle to expect any such effect, and it would be more likely to press upon the already wavering the necessity of flight to America. So long as the poor-law was left in its present state, any money lavished by way of relief was thrown away. It would merely feed the disease, without mitigating the sufferings of the patient. The vote of 10,000,000l. last year had had precisely that effect; and so would the grant of 50,000l. and this 200,000l. It was re- ported that a noble Marquess in another place, who was not distinguished for always interpreting with critical accuracy the opinions of his Colleagues, had at all events stated his own with preciseness, when he declared that the rate in aid was intended as a mere temporary expedient, which it would be impossible to make permanent. He gave the noble Marquess the fullest credit for sincerity; but he begged leave to say he differed from him most emphatically. If imposed at all, it would be a permanent charge. He was satisfied that if the House should now sanction a sixpenny rate, the Session would not terminate without a proposition being made to augment it to a shilling. It was not true, as had been objected against him, that he attributed to the poor-law evils which were the unavoidable results of the loss of the potato crop. There could be no doubt that that was a dreadful affliction, and that much of the distress and destitution prevailing in the south and west of Ireland was to be attributed to it; but it was not because of the failure of the potato crop that whole tracts of country lay desolate, that industry was paralysed, and that the farmer was reluctant to plant oats, or barley, or wheat. All that was the consequence of the poor-rates, and of that dreadful pressure of taxation which exhausted the country and ruined its energies, laying the country waste as with the blast of the simoom. The consequence of this was, that the entire employment in these districts would necessarily be suspended. No man would venture to work himself, or to employ labour—no man would dare to put his hand in his pocket and withdraw his capital, because he knew he had no security for the fruits of his industry. Would it be possible to succeed amid a state of things where all the rights of property were abrogated and destroyed? He did mean to say that this system would only lead to a transference of property from one hand to another. It was a revolutionary proceeding to take a man's estate from him and give it to another man; but this system would not only take the estate, but it would destroy the very existence and principle of property in those districts. He really thought that the hon. Member for Stroud had not adopted a very illogical conclusion when he proposed to employ all the destitute people of those unions at the expense of the Government. It was a necessary step in these proceedings to do something of the kind. It led to an attempt to realise the wild theories of Proudhon, and Louis Blanc. If they destroyed the rights of property, the next step in this insane course must be the attempt to cultivate the land on the part of the Government—the impracticability of which needed no proof. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud appeared disposed to echo a cry which bad gone forth from the public prints, and had done infinite harm, to the effect, that the entire body of landed proprietors were answerable for all the distresses of Ireland. This clamour was, he thought, most unfounded and unreasonable. The hon. Member for Stroud was always saying, "The Irish proprietors don't do their duty, and all the calamities of the country are owing to their neglect. They are so obstinate and perverse that they will not employ the people." The hon. Gentleman appeared to think the Irish proprietors were seized with a dogged determination to destroy their property—a kind of suicidal resolve not to invest capital for their own benefit. It was constantly said that they looked up their capital, and refused to employ the people. These statements were reiterated over and over again in a kind of cuckoo note, that went from mouth to mouth; but it was to him astonishing that persons could not see the plain fact, that proprietors of land in no country, and under no circumstances, could possibly be the principal employers of labour in a district. It was always the occupier who was the employer of labour, and not the landlord. Whenever the landlord employed labour, it was in the capacity of a farmer; but to suppose that landlords could employ all the labour in the district, was to exhibit complete ignorance of the proper relations of the landlord and the occupier of the soil. There was no more worthy successor of Coke of Norfolk or of Lord Spencer than the brother of the noble Lord at the head of the Government—the Duke of Bedford; but if the noble Lord inquired of the Duke of Bedford what would be the result of his endeavouring to become the chief employer of labour on his estates, he would tell him that, indeed, in his model farm at Woburn, he employed a certain amount of labour, and probably with little pecuniary profit; but that if he were to extend that system, and endeavour to become an employer of labour on a great scale throughout his estates, that, large as those estates were, he would be bankrupt in six months. It was a complete fallacy to say that this policy would have the effect of making Ireland support its own poor; for the greater the number of paupers made by this law, the greater would be the number of paupers to be supported. He was sure the hon. Gentleman could not deny that, in proportion to the destitution, misery, and pauperism produced by this law in the south of Ireland, would be the proportion of paupers likely to come over to this country for relief. Whilst he entertained those opinions with respect to the operation of this law, he was bound not to conceal the hopes he entertained, that if different measures were adopted, the results might be of a very opposite character. It might, perhaps, be the safer course for an individual Member to content himself with criticising, and refrain from offering suggestions; but taking, as he did, a deep interest in the condition of Ireland, and believing, as he did, how very serious, though not desperate, her present position was, he could not concea from the House his hope that a sounder line of policy might yet regenerate that country, restore prosperity, and animate the springs of industry. The Government appeared disposed to think they could remove the destitution that existed by this paltry, small, partial, and inadequate expenditure. It was said it was necessary to give those doles in order to prevent the people from dying of starvation; but would it effect that object? Were there no other causes by which life was lost? Were there not disease and fever produced by want? Did they not know there were numbers whose lives could not be preserved by the means which were about to be adopted, and who were hourly prematurely swept away? It was not by these wretched doles of three farthings a day that they could prevent all this misery, and rescue life from the dangers of this state of destitution. They must revive prosperity in that country, and stimulate a better state of things. The first way to promote these desirable ends would be to restore the active use and rights of property, to give security to the possessors of property, and to do so by limiting the action of the poor-law in certain districts. If they did not do this, they would do nothing. In order to do so they must reduce the area of taxation, which would give at once employment, because it would give security for reaping the fruits of that employment. This was the first necessary step to be taken; and the next powerful subsidiary mode of relieving a great amount of wretchedness would be to encourage emigration in those districts burdened with a superabundant population. If these means were adopted, and if the Government would really consider the practical evils with which they had to contend, and devise some general and comprehensive policy, he was convinced many Irish Members would consent to some system of local taxation to facilitate the transition. If Her Majesty's Ministers would come forward with a full and comprehensive plan, such as he had shadowed forth, he was sure that a majority of the Irish Members would not be indisposed to give such a plan their most serious and favourable consideration. ["Hear, hear!" and cries of "Divide!"] If hon. Gentlemen thought he did not intend to divide, they were very much mistaken, for he was resolved to give them an opportunity of recording their votes on the principle involved in this question. Before he concluded, he wished it to be understood that, in dividing the House, he adopted that course because he considered it was the most desirable mode of objecting to the principle of this particular rate, which he considered to be in principle the most objectionable and ineffectual. He wished to take the sense of the House upon the question of the principle of this particular rate—not upon the principle of a rate in aid, or upon the question of national taxation for local purposes—but upon the single question that this rate as it stood—without any accompanying plan—was incomplete, insufficient, and thoroughly ineffective in principle.


rose and said, he did expect, upon this important occasion—when a question so vital to the interests of Ireland was discussed—a question so vital to the interests of the empire at large—that some Member of Her Majesty's Government would have stood forward and stated to the House the grounds upon which they asked them to go into Committee to impose a rate in aid upon Ireland; a proceeding which would tend, in a great degree, to alienate the affections of the people of Ireland. Her Majesty's Government had considered the state of Ireland for years, and they had repeatedly given the country to understand that a large and comprehensive policy was in course of preparation. Was this the comprehensive policy—were these the statesmanlike measures they were led to hope for? And had it now come to pass, at this stage of the proceedings, that they called upon the House to confirm the honest, just, and upright principle, that, for the poverty of Connaught, an auxiliary fund was to be raised from the other provinces to make up the deficiency in these insolvent unions? And did they call upon the British Parliament to tax the industry, the honesty, and the virtue of localities which had no more to do with Connaught—[Cries of "Oh, oh!"]—he repeated, had no more to do with Connaught than had any of the counties which were represented by the hon. Members around him? He reiterated emphatically, that no British Gentleman, uninfluenced by party feelings, could ever, upon calm reflection, assent to such a proposition. He had never come before the House as a mendicant for Ireland, for the part of the country with which he was connected had never asked for aid. He admitted that certain portions of Ireland asked for assistance, and had received from the generosity of England aid worthy of a great nation. That he had never denied; but he felt, with regard to this particular question, that it was premature to ask the House to come to a conclusion as to the expediency of authorising the raising of an auxiliary fund, before it was demonstrated how far such a proceeding would tend to remedy the evils for the relief of which the money was to be applied. Let the Government show what modifications they were prepared to make in the poor-law. This was not a question on which they should come unprepared. He never wished to impose an undue task on a Government; but it could not be denied that they had had ample time for the consideration of this question, and that they had had full opportunity to mature the measures which they might deem judicious. As, however, her Majesty's Government had not adopted that course, the House was bound to believe that they had no modification of the poor-law to submit—no alteration connected with its administration—and, in fact, nothing to propose to the Legislature in conjunction with which the House had to vote the required rate in aid. Mark the peculiar injustice of that rate. If Her Majesty's Government had imposed a tax on mortgagees, or upon annuitants, or upon incomes, their policy would have been at least intelligible; but they selected the land of Ireland, that peculiar description of property which had suffered from various causes and combinations of causes more than any other. He did not wish to go into an analysis of those causes, but he had a right to say, that with respect to the north of Ireland, now proposed to be taxed, it had not contributed to the poverty of Connaught. The people of that part of Ireland rightly thought there were causes for those evils. They thought that the policy of that House—he did not speak of the policy of any particular Government—but that the policy of successive Governments for many years—had not been such as to remedy the social evils of Ireland. They compared the condition of Ulster and Connaught, and they looked to ascertain the cause of the great discrepancy. They were naturally led to inquire why Ulster had required no assistance, and they asked how it was that by her industry she contrived to maintain her position, even in the worst seasons? Then, should not a wise Minister have endeavoured, by fair agency and by proper influences, rather to have elevated Connaught to the level of Ulster, than by this paltry and unjust measure to have dragged down Ulster to the level of Connaught? The policy about to be pursued towards Ireland reminded him of a remark made by a distinguished relative of his. Sir C. Napier, who, speaking of Mehemet Ali, described him as incapable of any great work for the regeneration of his people. He did not leave them the means of subsistence; for in dealing with the cases of A and B, two districts that were subject to the same rent, if by any misfortunes—short crops, or any other calamity—the rent of B could not be paid, then the Pacha imposed a rate on A, which reduced it too to destitution—and this had the effect of ruining them both. He could not help thinking that there was a most remarkable similarity between the cases. He could not help feeling very strongly for the position in which the people of Ulster were placed. He did not like to indulge in any irritating topics, for the present circumstances of Ireland ought to be calmly and dispassionately considered. The House had as much interest in the prosperity of Ireland as he had; and if there was one person in that House who, more than another, desired the prosperity and welfare of England, it was himself. If they would refer to the reports of the northern unions, they would find that even there, in the union of Lurgan for instance, the pressure of the poor-law was most severely felt by the farmers. In that union they were driven to very great privation and distress to raise the amount of poor-rates. Yet, while the no- ble Lord allowed a man having a personal income to escape, he imposed the burdens on this class of men. But the noble Lord could not trifle with the people of England in that respect. They' told him—"You are demoralising the people by the aid you contribute—you are doing no good—you are throwing this money away—you are only stereotyping the poverty of Ireland." The noble Lord's plan had nothing statesmanlike in it. There was nothing like justice in it; nor did it shadow forth anything like a definite line of policy with regard to the poor-law—a law which affected the whole social condition of Ireland, its present state and future prospects. No man would deny that the poor-law had had the effect of producing a state of demoralisation in Ireland wholly unparalleled in the previous history of that country. No man would deny that those consequences had been predicted some years ago by persons connected with Ireland. The poor-law was, however, forced on the people of Ireland, notwithstanding those predictions. A large portion of the people who were then unemployed were by the poor-law thrown as a burden on the industrious; and when the famine struck the land and took away the food of the people, the whole country was reduced to a condition of which English Members could have no conception. But to what causes were to be attributed the evils that now existed in Ireland? They were to be attributed, first of all, to years of long neglect and previous misgovernment—to the want of means of employment of the people; and, he admitted, to a breach of duty on the part of some persons in that country; but then there was one class of men in Ireland who were willing to perform their duties, and for that class they should manifest a generous consideration. They should not mix up the innocent and guilty together. It was upon that class the fate of Ireland depended; they were struggling in various districts to sustain the country, and they deserved the consideration and assistance of Parliament; they deserved to be encouraged in the performance of their duties, and fenced round by wise measures. But instead of that, the Government wanted to tie the good and the undeserving together, and drag them both down to the common level of degradation and destitution. That was not governing Ireland, but trifling with the interests of the people. It was insulting and degrading his country for the head of the Government to make a propo- sition like the present, and not explain the grounds of that proposition. Why ask the people of Ulster to hear the burden connected with the poverty of other districts, especially as the Government were not in a position to show how that poverty was to be relieved? How were the insolvent districts to be made able to support themselves? Was it by keeping up an array of beggars fed out of the industry of Ulster? An accurate countryman of his (Mr. Napier's) said the measures of England with respect to Ireland were of two classes—one had the effect of producing an uneducated and unemployed population, and the other made indolence fatten on industry. The House were asked to begin with a 6d. rate. He thought it would be better, if they were about to confiscate property, to show more of the boldness of the burglar than the meanness of the pickpocket. Why not come forward at once with some statesmanlike view respecting the poor-law? Why not propose some modifications that would adapt it to the present condition of Ireland, and correct its maladministration? If the noble Lord had done anything of that sort, then there would be some reason in his saying— The present is a great emergency, and it is necessary to have some assistance to keep the people of Ireland from starving; but, considering the condition of England, the pressure on the agricultural districts, and our own financial embarrassments, we are not in a position to ask England to bear the burden. But, without bringing forward any great remedial measure, it was most unreasonable to tax the landed property of Ireland; and if there was any one property more than another that ought to be excluded from such an impost, it was that very property which had been selected to be victimised by this tax. He contended that the proposed rate in aid would alienate the affections of the people of Ireland from this country. They would not contentedly suffer themselves to be weighed down by such a pressure. They could not discover any principle of justice upon which that burden was to be imposed. He would again ask what that principle was, and why the Government were ashamed to put it forward? Did they ask the House to vote for the proposition, without informing them of the grounds or reasons on which it was brought forward? The people upon whom that burden was to be placed, thought it an unfair imposition. They were people who never shirked any fair liability; but they could not see what connexion they had with Connaught, more than with Yorkshire or any county in England. Was the tenant-farmer in Ulster, who occasionally wrought at the loom to support his family, to contribute to the relief of the poverty of those in Connaught? Was he to bear the penalty of the absence of those moral influences that spring from true religion? Was he to be answerable for the lawlessness of the people of Connaught; or the disrespect for, or maladministration of, the laws, in that part of the country? There should be some principle of justice to support the Government proposition; but there was evidently none. The tendency of the Ulster people was ever towards this country; they were always the stern friends of British connexion—they were always anxious for a closer union with England, and ready to stand by it as their common country—and they were undeserving of such injustice. In the absence of any reason to sustain the Government proposition, he should oppose that proposition to the utmost of his power, be the consequences what they might.


Sir, the two hon. Gentlemen who have opposed the Motion that you, Sir, should now leave the chair, appear to me to have adopted a most extraordinary course. About two hours ago, when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Sharman Crawford) moved a resolution as an Amendment to the Motion of my noble Friend the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Castlereagh) and other Irish Members appeared to be sensible of its inconvenience, and upon rational grounds they deprecated any consumption of the time of the House in discussing an abstract proposition; they even grudged the time that would be occupied in dividing the House, because they were anxious that my noble Friend should avail himself of the only opportunity which the forms of the House allowed to him, to move the resolutions of which he had given notice—which resolutions, be it observed, cannot be moved until Mr. Speaker has left the chair—and of stating the motives and the grounds upon which they are framed. No sooner, however, was my noble Friend prepared to state those motives and grounds, than up gets the hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire, and for the first ten minutes of his speech he dilated upon the contrast between the despatch of business in the present Session, and the despatch of business in the last Session—showing, I am bound to say, a decided preference for that system of repeated adjournments which then prevailed, over the system of comparatively short speeches which has prevailed in this Session. The hon. Baronet said he thought it necessary not to mention any facts; and accordingly he drew largely upon his imagination for the purpose of occupying the time of the House for fifty long minutes, and in order to prevent my noble Friend from making his proposition, or stating the grounds of it. Then came the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin, whom I excuse because I really believe he was not aware of what he was doing; and, in indignant language, he reproached ray noble Friend for making a proposition which he has not made, and which he knew my noble Friend could not make until after Mr. Speaker had left the chair. He said my noble Friend asked the House to agree to a rate in aid on Ulster, without stating any reasons for it; but the hon. and learned Gentleman said he was prepared to consent to any rational proposal for levying the money all over Ireland. He, ought then to have known it was only in it Committee, and not before, that it would be competent for him to show his sincerity by moving an Amendment upon the proposition that a rate should be so levied. I rose, however, merely to deprecate the continuance of this preliminary discussion, which can only have the effect that the hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire stated be preferred—namely, of protracting our debates, of preventing the despatch of business, and of stopping my noble Friend from laying before the House his proposition on the part of the Government, without, let me observe, the power of substituting any other proposition on the part of the hon. Baronet, or of the Government, and at a time when there is an immediate and urgent necessity for making provision for the prevention of starvation among the distressed inhabitants of the western unions.


Sir, there seems to be some misconception on the part of the right hon. Baronet, as to the manner in which the business of the House should be conducted on this occasion. Certainly there was a resolution on the Paper, moved by the hon. Member for Rochdale, against which I and many other Gentlemen on this side of the House thought it our duty to vote. I will recall it to the recollection of the House. It invited us to declare "that it is unconstitutional and unjust to impose on Ireland separate national taxation for the wants of particular localities, so long as the public general revenue of Ireland is paid into an imperial treasury, and placed at the disposal of an Imperial Legislature for the general purposes of the united kingdom." Now, Sir, I, for one, could not assent to this proposition of the hon. Member for Rochdale. If the financial system of the two countries had been identical—if there were a fiscal, as there is a political, union between the two countries, I, for one, should have voted in the same lobby as the hon. Member for Rochdale; but, remembering that the systems of taxation in England and Ireland are different—remembering that Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland are not liable to the window tax, to the other assessed taxes, and to the property tax, I thought that the proposition which the hon. Gentleman called upon us to affirm was one that we could not support—that we could not affirm—that it was unconstitutional and unjust to impose on Ireland separate national taxation from the taxation which is imposed in England; and here, perhaps, I may venture to observe, that I can scarcely approve of those tactics which are sometimes adopted by the Members for Ireland in this House on fiscal subjects, always insisting that there shall be a difference between the two countries; while on political subjects they are always ready to affirm that the two countries are identical. But the other proposition before us was a proposition of the Government that we should go into Committee—in fact, to sanction the scheme of the Government. Well, Sir, I was equally opposed to the proposition of the Government, as I was opposed to the proposition of the hon. Member for Rochdale; and is it not evident, in consequence of the new regulations for the despatch of public business, that after the Motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale was disposed of, it was totally impossible to oppose the scheme of the Government, except by moving a direct negative to your leaving the chair. The right hon. Gentleman, in a tone of great indignation, says, is it not known to all of you—to every Member of this House—that you are opposing the only means by which the Minister can explain the policy which he is about to recommend to your notice? I do not agree with the right hon. Gentle-man. The noble Lord at the head of the Government might have risen immediately the question was moved, and might have detailed the reasons which induced him to propose to the House to adopt this resolution. It would not have been an unusual course; it would have been a usual course; it would have been a respectful course. His right hon. Colleague (Mr. Labouchere) last year entered into a preliminary exposition of the policy of the Government on the subject of the navigation laws, and the necessity was not so strong as the present; because, in that case, the right hon. Gentleman had not placed his resolution on the table of the House. We were not in possession of the policy of the Government, and it was out of our power to enter into a preliminary discussion; but the Government having in the present instance placed their policy on the table of the House, nothing could be more legitimate than for the noble Lord himself to have risen, and entered into a general detail of the reasons which induced him to adopt that policy; and, as he refused to take that step, nothing could be more legitimate than for the hon. Member for Radnorshire to adopt the course which he has properly taken. Sir, I should say, that, under any circumstances, that ought to have been the course of the noble Lord. But are there not peculiar circumstances in the present case, which tend to excite the suspicions of hon. Gentlemen, to stimulate criticism, and to prompt the earliest, and every lawful opportunity to canvass the policy of the Government? Have we evidence before us that their policy is one so mature, so well digested, founded on such ample information, and supported by previous investigation, so that we are to be in a haste and hurry to carry it into a legislative form? I say, the circumstances under which this resolution has been placed on the table of the House, are very remarkable? In another place these resolutions have also appeared; and at the request and intimation of the leading Minister of the Crown in that place, they have proceeded to establish a Committee to receive evidence in support of these resolutions. What is the use, then, of being in such a hurry to send up our sanction of these resolutions, when in another place there will be abundant opportunities for examining whether there are sufficient reasons to adopt them? I take it for granted that in that place they will pursue their affairs in a business-like manner, satisfactory to the country. I take it for granted that there, at least, before they adopt a resolution like this, they will be sure there is a good foundation for the step which they recommend to the adoption of the House; that they will, at least, form some estimate of the funds that may accrue from this proposition; that they will at least have some idea of the manner in which those funds are to be expended; that they will take care that before they come forward to propose a rate in aid in the north of Ireland, there is a sound, substantial, and comprehensive valuation upon which to levy it. These all are circumstances and considerations that no doubt will accrue to those who, in another place, are considering this question; and, depend upon it, if they enter into this investigation, it will be some time before they arrive at a conclusion; and therefore there is no reason why the House of Commons should be in such a state of precipitation to pass a resolution so unprecedented in its character, and which, in its effects, may be so enormous. I, for one, must take this opportunity of protesting against the conclusion that, because I am opposed to this proposition of the Government with respect to the rate in aid, I am opposed to a satisfactory system which may offer auxiliary assistance to Ireland. I say again, as I said at first, that it was the duty of the Government, with respect to the Irish poor-law, to have met Parliament with a comprehensive measure. I remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us, in order to support the vote of 50,000l., that twelve months ago, if there had not been aid to the district, so destructive a scene of a starvation and misery would have accrued that the imagination could scarcely conceive it. That was twelve months ago; and I want to know, if the present policy is pursued, what will be their condition twelve months hence? Then I say that the Government ought to have come forward with a measure which would have settled the question of the area of taxation, of the arrears of rates, and of the lands lying waste; that if they had come forward with a business-like and well-digested measure on these subjects, then they would have found no difficulty in obtaining the sanction of all parties in this House to measures of a temporary character; and mainly for this reason, because, under such circumstances, propositions of pecuniary aid might have been of a temporary character; but under the circumstances under which they are now brought forward, I want to know who can maintain they are of a temporary character, when no human being can foresee that the circumstances to which they are applied can ever change? These are my views generally on the question. I think this a proper opportunity for a full and ample discussion of it. I have risen myself unexpectedly, after the appeal to the House of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State. I protest against the spirit of that appeal. I say that if you yield to such an appeal, especially with the regulations we have lately introduced, as to the conduct of the business in this House, you may stifle public discussion; and when a Government, on an important subject—I will not say have trilled with the House, but rather have trifled with their own reputations, so much as the present have in the policy which they recommend to Ireland—when, not for forty-eight consecutive hours you can be sure of the policy they will come here to recommend, I cannot recommend my hon. Friend not to divide the House, but rather I will express my hope that hon. Gentlemen on both sides will take this opportunity of expressing their opinions on this important subject.


I own, Sir, I regret that the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down should think a case of this kind, affecting the existence of a great portion of the people, is a matter of party warfare. The hon. Gentleman must know full well that when a general rate is to be proposed, the manner and time of proposing it is in the Committee of the whole House: that the forms and regulations of this House do not allow any proposition to be proposed in the House; that if I now were to propose the resolution which I have put on the notice paper, I should be immediately stopped by Mr. Speaker, and told that it was incompetent for me to propose it; and then he (Mr. Disraeli) must know, as I could not propose it in the House, it was but natural that I should wish to accompany the proposition with the reasons which I thought necessary. Had I been unable to do so, it was competent for the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, or any other hon. Gentleman, to have shown that the principle was vicious, or that the measure would produce such mischief that the House ought not to adopt it. That would have been a fair course to take with respect to the proposition; but the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire interposes in this stage to say that he will not go into Committee, and he does it on the ground that that delay is required, that long deliberation is necessary. He talks of our trifling with our reputations; I must say that he is trifling with the welfare of the community, and also with the existence of many of our fellow-subjects in Ireland. Sir, what do the papers in the House tell you with regard to some few of these unions? With regard to Scariff, that the most rigid scrutiny into circumstances, if necessary, was made, and not an applicant was relieved whose claim was not irresistible—who was not really destitute—whilst the workhouse test was applied to check imposition; that the want was such, that the people were mere skeletons of men. In another union, Swineford, it was said that the union was distressed in the extreme; that the small landlords were becoming exhausted, and applying in England and Scotland, and elsewhere, for work, and leaving their wives and children to starvation; that fever was prevalent, and the destitution of the people was utterly indescribable. It is in such circumstances as these that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire calls for delay—that he calls upon us to go minutely into every question connected with the administration of the poor-law in Ireland—and to investigate every nicety of area and of valuation before we apply a temporary remedy to a temporary but most appalling distress. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin chooses to say that I have brought forward this resolution as a single measure, unaccompanied by any general proposition for the amendment of the poor-law. But the hon. and learned Member must know full well that in the Irish Poor Law Committee I stated several propositions which I thought it would be the duty of Government to submit to Parliament; and if I were permitted to go into Committee, I should be prepared generally to state the nature of those propositions. Therefore I think it was not very candid in the hon. and learned Member, after having himself heard some of them discussed in Committee, to come down to the House and say that this was the single proposition of the Government. But, Sir, the hon. and learned Member goes on to say—and this is a tone which I hear has been taken by persons of weight and authority—that unless we lay before the House, and settle, in conjunction with Parliament, a plan with regard to the area of taxation, it will be impossible to agree to any rate in aid. Now, what we have done is this: we have appointed a Commission, consisting of persons highly competent to the task; but, although they have given many months to the labour, they have not as yet got beyond a proposition for several additional unions and electoral divisions for those unions. They propose a scheme for diminishing the area of taxation, so that persons liable to the tax may be able to reach and communicate with each other in the working of the union, but they have not thought proper to say that every small property shall form a separate area of taxation. If it be meant, then, that unless we agree that every small property shall form an area of taxation, these Gentlemen will not consider the proposition of a rate in aid, I must say that it is not at all likely we shall be able to submit that proposition. I have a letter in my pocket from a gentleman who was some time since employed by the Poor Law Commission, but who is not at present so employed—one in whose ability and experience we have great confidence, and that gentleman says— While it is desirable to diminish the area of taxation, yet, if every property were made a separate area, you would see evictions greatly increased, and that no distress which has yet been witnessed in Ireland would be equal to the misery that must ensue if that plan of area were adopted. [Mr. OSBORNE: Is that letter from Mr. Senior?] No, it is not from Mr. Senior. The hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire has signified, although not very clearly, the plan that he would propose, and coupled with it another proposal for emigration. I do not think it proper to adopt the proposal of the hon. Baronet. I think that if you were to make your whole plan consistent with his two propositions, reducing the area to the property of each Individual landlord, so that he would have it in his power, by driving away every small tenant to clear himself from obligation to pay rates, while at the same time you adopted a largo scheme of emigration, you would, in the first instance, create great misery in Ireland, and, secondly, you would be the means of driving thousands of the unfortunate people to a distant shore without any provision being made for their reception or subsistence. Therefore being ready as I should be to propose the resolution in Committee, and to explain the general alterations I contemplate in the poor-law, I must add that they would not agree with the plan of the hon. Baronet, which, in my opinion, would have only the effect of greatly increasing the amount of misery at present unhappily prevailing in Ireland. MR. H. A. HERBERT complained that the noble Lord at the head of the Government should have accused the hon. Gentleman who preceded him of party motives. He (Mr. Herbert) had himself been returned for the county he represented without a contest; he came into Parliament determined not to act for party objects, but to support the Government as much as he could; but he had come to the conclusion that the existence of property in Ireland, the existence of the class to which he belonged, was incompatible with the existence of Her Majesty's Ministers. He had as often as any Member on the other side of the House, given an honest and independent vote to them; had they shown any disposition to do justice to Ireland—he used the expression advisedly, and not in its vulgar sense—he believed he might have ranked as one of their supporters, excepting that he was determined never to ask from them any patronage or favour. The noble Lord thought it odd that Members from Ireland should complain of the present area; but let him look to the opinions that had been expressed by the boards of guardians throughout the country. That of the Listowel union, in the county he had the honour to represent, had declared that if the evil effects of the poor-law were not averted or mitigated speedily, they considered the general ruin of landed proprietors an inevitable consequence. He would take the liberty of reading to the House the memorial to which he referred, addressed to the Poor Law Commissioners of Ireland:— Showeth—That after several years' experience of the working of The Act for the Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland,' and recently that of 'The Relief Extension Act,' this board feel that they are now in a position to form a sound judgment of the working of both laws. That we are fully impressed with the paramount importance and necessity for co-operation of all classes, from the highest to the lowest, to avert the imminent danger which we consider pending over all, which, if not averted or mitigated speedily, we consider the ruin of property, and, as consequent, all dependent thereon for support, inevitable. That we consider employment on an extended scale the one sure, only, and effectual source of relief under the existing state of things in this union, to effect which we consider it alike the duty of all classes to seek to accomplish by every means within their reach, and that it becomes a matter of the first importance to consider how so desirable an object is most likely to be effected. That we consider the first step necessary to be taken, without which all attempts to amend the existing state of things must prove a failure, is the reduction of the pre- sent cumbrous areas of taxation, which this board considers to be the chief cause which has led to the disastrous condition in which this union is at present sunk, and which must ore long, if persevered in, lead to the destruction of all property. That the commissioners have the power, which we earnestly call upon them to exercise, under the 18th Sec. of 1 and 2 Vict., cap. 56, to mitigate largely, although not altogether to remove without further Parliamentary enactment, the serious difficulties under which this union is now labouring, by decreasing the present extent of the electoral divisions for the purposes of the poor-law. The average area and value of Irish electoral divisions, as compared with English parishes, would be illustrated by the following statement;—Average value of electoral divisions, in Listowel, 4,645l, average size 9,964 acres; Killarney 7,152l., 20,807 acres; Tralce, 8,514l., 25,595 acres. In the counties of Berks, Bucks, Dorset, Oxford, Gloucester, and Wilts, the average area was 2,049 acres; the value 3,538. The Poor Law Commissioners might allege that they had not sufficient machinery, but if they had not it was their duty to apply to Parliament for additional force. Now, when property was passing away from the landlords of Ireland, the noble Lord told them that he had appointed a Commission. But what had that Commission done? They had gone to the north of Ireland, and after a most elaborate report, they told the House that nothing was required to be done; there was no improvement wanted there. No, for they examined the place from which no complaints were made, whilst there had been constant complaints from the south about those areas of taxation. Why had they not gone to the south? He asked the House of Commons, in fairness, in justice, to say why, if Ireland was to have the English poor-law, was she not to have also the English areas of taxation? He hoped there was justice enough in the House to save the Irish nation from what he should call a most unendurable tyranny on the part of the Government. They had heard a good deal from other quarters about the dictatorship of the present Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; but they suffered under a much worse dictatorship from the triumvirate which had trifled with both the lives and properties of the people of Ireland. The noble Lord should not make such use of the appeal ad misericordiam. He had no right to call upon the House to commit such robbery, upon the plea of the excessive poverty of certain portions of the country. He (Mr. Herbert) had never been an opponent of the poor-law, but he had endeavoured to induce the Poor Law Commissioners to make certain improvements in the mode of working the law, which they could do if they chose under the Act. He had only now to say, if something more were not done than thus to try merely to prop up a vicious system, he, for his own part, would return to the task imposed upon him by the noble Lord, for he would not shrink from it; but it would be with the calmness of despair, not with the energy of hope. Instead of a sound measure to relieve the pauperism of the country, the Government, by their legislation, were about to render the performance of the duties of property intolerable and utterly impossible.


entirely agreed with the sentiments of the hon. Member who had just sat down. They were in a similar situation in his neighbourhood, and had complained time after time relative to the areas of taxation. If the House imposed additional taxation upon the poor in his locality, who were already borne down by taxation, by low prices, the failure of crops, and the want of trade, they would only be adding to the deep distress which already existed. If they attempted to remedy the distress of Ireland by the imposition of additional taxation upon her people, so far from attempting to employ his poorer neighbours as he had hitherto done at a great expense, he would discharge every man at present in his employment; and he knew several gentlemen who would follow his example. He knew gentlemen who had already given notice to the Board of Works, from which they had been about to borrow money to improve their estates, that, in consequence of this additional taxation, they would not spend a shilling for that purpose; and he believed, before ten days elapsed, the House would hear of many such cases. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated that if they narrowed the areas of taxation, they would give rise to an extensive eviction of the people. Now, the remedy for that was tangible and practicable, as be had proposed in the Poor Law Bill of 1847, namely, to make such persons who came on the poor-rates within three years from their evictions, chargeable on the property from which they were evicted. He objected to this rate, not because, as had been said, it made Ulster chargeable for Connaught, but because it made Munster chargeable for Connaught—because it made Leinster chargeable for Connaught —because it made one county chargeable for another. He wanted to know why Waterford should be chargeable for Mayo, any more than Middlesex should be chargeable for Mayo? He objected altogether to the principle of a rate in aid; and it was useless to tell the House or the country that it was only to be 6d. in the pound. That was the small end of the wedge, and if it were once got in, the rate would be doubled, trebled, quadrupled—not yearly, but every three or four months. It was a delusion to say that it would be only 6d. in the pound. Again, they were told it was only to be for two years. That was another point on which the Ministers were deluding the country, or were themselves deluded. In Waterford, Kilkenny, and other parts of the south of Ireland, nineteen out of twenty of those parties who were rated under 12l. had great difficulties in paying their rates. Hundreds of them had not paid, while others had pledged or sold their furniture and clothes to do so. Of the class above them, who were rated from 12l. to 25l., a large number had had to sell their last four-footed animal to pay the rates, and a great portion had not paid one-half of them. They and the farmers who were rated above 30l. were selling off their stock and going to America, leaving their farms in the hands of some of their families, in order to force from the landlords money for their possession. He called upon the noble Lord to have the poor-rate collectors examined before the Committee, to see whether he had given the House an exaggerated picture of the state of things existing in the south of Ireland. The result of the passing of this Bill would be, that before twelve months had passed, there would be an addition to the twenty-one bankrupt unions already existing, of twenty or thirty more, and the name of the British Government and the British Legislature would be hated by the Irish people. He would call the attention of the House to the difference existing between the poor-law in England and in Ireland. In England there were 66,000,000l. of rateable property, and only 1,100,000 paupers; but, in Ireland, there were 2,500,000 paupers, and only 13,000,000l of rateable property. Thus they had one pauper for every 5l. and a fraction of rateable property in Ireland, while they had 60l. allocated for the support of each pauper in England; and the result was, that they were obliged to look out for other than landed property to support the peo- ple. What was an excellent law in England was bad in Ireland; and feeling that this rate in aid would be most disastrous to that country, he must oppose it.


, being connected with the north of Ireland, which was most materially affected by the proposed law, wished to express his opinion upon it before a decision was come to. He regretted the tone the debate had taken—because by some arrangement or misarrangement of which he was not cognisant, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) had been prevented making his statement, which caused great embarrassment to Members who, like himself, wished to oppose the Bill. In the first place, he altogether objected to the formation of the Committee, which consisted of nine English Members, five from Leinster, five from Munster, five from Connaught, and one—but how he got there it was hard to say—from Scotland. Only two Members from Ulster were nominated. The Committee was arranged so as to give a majority to the views of the Government; and he did not think the noble Lord would gain much by a borrowed light from such a Committee. The decision of that Committee would never give the noble Lord a locus standi in that House, or the confidence of the country. Indeed, from what had crept out in evidence before the Committee within these few hours, he felt sure that this rate in aid would never be carried into effect. The noble Lord had brought forward a measure which militated against the principles upon which the union of the two countries took place. It was the intention of those who advocated the Union, that the three countries should support each other, in weal or in woe, by national, not individual, resources. He would read to the House an extract of a letter written to Lord Longueville by the late Marquess of Londonderry, which clearly showed what were the intentions of those who devised the union between the two countries. The letter was dated Phœnix Park, 1798;— I would desire very much to have a conversation with your Lordship upon the means of strengthening by legislative union the connexion between the two countries; a union which would pledge the whole force of the empire to the security of every part, and which would make that support which we now receive as an act of favour an act of justice as well as duty on the part of Government. These were the intentions of the promoters of the union between the two countries. It might be true, that the people of Eng-Lind complained of the assistance they were so frequently called upon to give in relieving the distress of Ireland. They had a right to feel, and they did feel, that their industry, labour, and exertions, had been unduly taxed for the support of Ireland. If this complaint was true—and he did not deny its validity—there was no other course open but to endeavour to assimilate the taxation of the two countries. He was not prepared, nor was it incumbent upon him, nor the Irish Members, to point out a substitute. It was the business of the Government to bring forward their measures; and for the House to pass judgment upon them. The people of Ireland were willing to submit to taxation for imperial purposes; but they, in return, desired to be included in imperial responsibility. The Government had not considered what would be the cost of the collection of this rate. Its collection would be a matter of difficulty, even in the quietest part of Ireland. But should times come round again like those which they had witnessed last year, they would not be able to leave the country wholly unprovided with military or police, as they had done, leaving the maintenance of the peace solely to the loyalty of the country. The people would become alienated in their affections, jealous, and suspicious. The inhabitants of Ulster were brave, and loyal, and true, and staunch adherents of British connexion; but if this measure was passed, he would not give one month's purchase for their tranquillity. They would not burst out into an outbreak, but they would resist the levying of the rate by every possible constitutional means in their power. He would conclude in the words of Mr. Martin, who had written a pamphlet upon the poor-law, and which was much more eloquent than any language of his own;— Let it not be supposed that the great body of the gentry of this country are desirous to absolve themselves of the sacred claims of providing for the maintenance of the poor. Those poor and mean calumnies, that we wish to starve the people, should only be treated with contempt. We value too highly the character of Britons to forget the duties which are imposed upon us.


rose to complain that although England, Ireland, and Scotland were represented in the proposed Committee, Wales was excluded.


complained that the present debate could have no practical result, and human life might be wasting away while they were talking. If hon. Members opposite, who thought they could legislate so much more for the advantage of Ireland, felt confidence in their strength, lot them turn out the Ministry, and take their places; but, if not, he implored them in the name of common sense at least to allow the noble Lord at the head of the Government to state what his plan was, and they would then have a right to reproach the Ministry if, by delay, they showed they were not in earnest.


would have thought, though of course his experience was of no long date, that they had a right to expect a statement from the noble Lord before going into Committee, in accordance with former precedents. He might instance the case of the navigation lows, when the right hon. President of the Board of Trade made his statement before they went into Committee.


said, he did not see the use of any statement from the noble Lord, as they had the proposition already before them, and knew what it was. He thought it must be evident that the Committee had been coerced into the proposition which they had submitted to the House, and he thought they could discuss it just as well as if the noble Lord had made a speech of an hour. [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, at least, they could resist it. With regard to other taxes, he was not prepared to say that Ireland would agree to their imposition. If a special case was made out for the exemption of Ireland last year, when the income tax was proposed, there was the same special case this year.


could assure the noble Lord at the head of the Ministry that in the part of Ireland with which he was connected, so strong was the feeling against the present proposition, that several gentlemen in the commission of the peace were determined to give up their commissions if it were carried.


quite approved of the Motion of the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Walsh). He did not think that the people of Ireland could place any confidence in any resolution that the Government would come to with regard to the poor-laws. The hon. Gentleman referred to the proceedings that had taken place in the Committees and complained that they had been under the control of the Government. Suppose the sixpenny rate in aid were levied and spent; what did the Government mean to do in the event of more being required? He thought they ought to be prepared with some proposition to meet that state of things. He entirely agreed in the Motion of the hon. Baronet, and hoped he would press it to a division.


said, he would not unnecessarily waste the time of the House, as his hon. Colleague had already spoken; but as he had paid the Committee of which he (Mr. Reynolds) had the honour to be a Member, a compliment, he trusted he should not be censured if he stood up to make him some return. With regard to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University, it appeared that he represented the province of Ulster, if not in a Parliamentary sense, at least sympathetically. It would appear from him that if a sixpenny rate was imposed, it would shake the loyalty of these parties to the foundation. The noble Lord (Viscount Castlereagh) echoed that sentiment; and the hon. Member for Downpatrick (Mr. Ker) had threatened them with a wholesale resignation of the commission of the peace, and if that were so, it might be said that their loyalty was only sixpenny loyalty. From his earliest boyhood he had been told that the province of Ulster was an extremely religious province; and they had heard the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin this night say, that the prosperity of that province was the result of their superior religious education. He (Mr. Reynolds) had also been taught to believe that Ulster was still more remarkable for its loyalty. The Minister of the Crown now, in order to save 1,500,000 of the starving poor of Ireland, having proposed that a sixpenny rate in aid should be levied, the representatives of this very religious and loyal portion of the country threaten the Government with all kinds of misfortunes, if they persevere in their proposition. It appeared, then, that the loyalty of the people of Ulster was, after all, conditional loyalty. It was £s. d. loyalty. It was a sixpenny loyalty. He protested, in the name of his constituents, against such a doctrine. He had the honour to represent a community, the united value of whose property was close upon 1,000,000l., nearly 1–13th of the entire rateable property of Ireland. If they assessed this rate in aid, they would be putting upon them an additional tax exceeding 20,000l per annum. The highest rate upon any one rating there did not exceed 3s. in the pound; and out of 16 electoral divisions of which the city of Dublin was composed, 10 of them were only assessed at 6d. in the pound, 2 of them at 3d., 1 of them at 10d., and 1 at 5½d. in the pound; so that it was not likely they ever reach the maximum proposed, so as to entitle them to a portion of this rate in aid. He was no advocate for this rate in aid, but he voted for it in Committee, and he would vote for it here upon a certain understanding. He said, that the rate in aid ought not to be inflicted if it could be avoided. He, however, believed it could not be avoided. He was told by the Gentlemen occupying the Treasury benches that they would not be permitted to draw any longer upon the Consolidated Fund for the relief of Irish distress. He had been told by all parties in that House that the votes for Irish distress had reached their limit. He was further told that there were. 21 unions of Ireland in a state of hopeless bankruptcy, and that in these unions there were several hundred thousand persons utterly destitute. He was also informed that the late vote for 50,000l. had been granted solely upon the understanding that they would not repeat the demand. Under those circumstances, he would support the present proposition; and he would ask the opponents of it whether they were prepared to incur the responsibility of allowing the people of Ireland to die of starvation in the midst of plenty, when he might say food was at a drug price? He also supported the proposition because he was ashamed at his country being perpetually taunted at being a mendicant at the door of this House. He was tired of these charges being brought against them. He believed that Ireland was fully capable of supporting her own pauperism, if she was fairly treated. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had stated that the two countries were politically united, but they were not fiscally united. He (Mr. Reynolds) thought that they were united in both senses. He recollected, that whenever the Irish representatives asked for a restoration to the country of her right to domestic legislation, they were told that Ireland was an integral part of the British empire, and that she consequently ought to be treated as Yorkshire, and to be called West Britain, as Scotland was called North Britain. But the moment they asked for money, then they were told that they were politically united, but fiscally separated; and he would advise the hon. Gentleman not to repeat such an assertion, for by doing so he might teach a lesson that might ulti- mately become troublesome to him. He (Mr. Reynolds) had said, that he would vote for this proposition upon a certain condition. That condition was, that all the property in Ireland, all the incomes derived from real property, should be made liable to this rate—that they should charge the funds, annuities, rent-charges, and jointures. He was reminded by an hon. Member that Ireland was not subject to the same imposts as England. Granted. They were not made liable to the window tax, or the assessed taxes, for this reason—the Government of this country had already tried it, and found that Ireland could not pay it. There was an old, vulgar saying, "You cannot take a knee-buckle off a Highlander." When the income tax was about to be imposed, Ireland was excused, first, on the ground of poverty; and the second reason, which was the most important was, the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) said, that he would assimilate the stamp duties, as an equivalent for the non-extension of the income tax to Ireland. There was another item which they had not given Ireland credit for. England received close upon 9,000,000l. per annum, arising from absentee rents and interest on mortgages held by persons resident in this country. Now, this 9,000,000l. paid about 300,000l. a year in the shape of income tax, which money made its way into the English Exchequer, and he thought that Ireland was fully entitled to credit for so much.


said, that after the remark made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, as to the loyalty of Ulster being conditional, he felt that as one who had been perfectly acquainted with that province for the last fifty years, he would not be fulfilling his duty if he allowed such an observation to pass unnoticed. Hon. Gentlemen might not he aware that the loyalists of Ulster had on two occasions received the thanks of that House, and on one occasion the thanks of the other House of Parliament, for their exertions in suppressing the rebellion which raged from one end to the other of the remaining provinces. He would also remind the House, that last year, when the presence of 40,000 troops was necessary to maintain the peace of Ireland, the few troops in Ulster had been withdrawn and sent to other parts of the country.


begged to explain that he could not vote for going into Committee in the absence of any explanation as to the manner in which the proposition was intended to be carried out.

Question put. The House divided.—Ayes 195; Noes 96: Majority 99.

List of the AYES.
Abdy, T. N. Hastie, A.
Acland, Sir T. D. Hawes, B.
Adair, H. E. Hay, Lord J.
Adair, R. A. S. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Anson, hon. Col. Headlam, T. E.
Armstrong, R. B. Hencage, G. H. W.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Henley, J. W.
Henry, A.
Bagshaw, J. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Baines, M. T. Hervey, Lord A.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Heyworth, L.
Bass, M. T. Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.
Bellew, R. M. Hobhouse, T. B.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Hodges, T. L.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Hogg, Sir J. W.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Hollond, R.
Bernal, R. Horsman, E.
Birch, Sir T. B. Howard, Lord E.
Blackall, S. W. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Boyle, hon. Col. Howard, hon. E. G. G.
Brackley, Visct. Howard, P. H.
Bramston, T. W. Jackson, W.
Bright, J. Jervis, Sir J.
Brocklehurst, J. Keppel, hon. G. T.
Brotherton, J. Kershaw, J.
Brown, W. Kildare, Marq. of
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Labouchere, rt. hon. H
Bunbury, E. H. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Cardwell, E. Lemon, Sir C.
Carew, W. H. P. Lennard, T. B.
Carter, J. B. Lewis, G. C.
Cayley, E. S. Lincoln, Earl of
Christy, S. Lindsay, hon. Col.
Clay, J. Locke, J.
Clay, Sir W. M'Cullagh, W. T.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. M'Gregor, J.
Cobden, R. Mahon, The O'Gorman
Coke, hon. E. K. Maitland, T.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Mangles, R. D.
Craig, W. G. Marshall, J. G.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Marshall, W.
Deedes, W. Martin, S.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Matheson, A.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Matheson, Col.
Duff, G. S. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Duncan, G. Melgund, Visct.
Dundas, Adm. Milnes, R. M.
Dundas, Sir D. Mitehell, T. A.
East, Sir J. B. Moffatt, G.
Ebrington, Visct. Morris, D.
Ellis, J. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Mulgrave, Earl of
Enfield, Visct. Mure, Col.
Ewart, W. Norreys, Lord
Eagan, W. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Ferguson, Col Nugent, Lord
Fordyce, A. D. O'Connell, J.
Forster, M. O'Connell, M. J.
Glynn, G. C. O'Connor, F.
Grace, O. D. J. Ogle, S. C. H.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Paget, Lord C.
Greene, T. Paget, Lord G.
Grenfell, C. P Pakington, Sir J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Palmerston, Visct.
Grey, R. W. Parker, J.
Pearson, C. Strickland, Sir G.
Pechell, Capt. Stuart, Lord D.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Stuart, Lord J.
Peel, F. Talbot, C. R. M.
Pilkington, J. Tancred, H. W.
Pinney, W. Thicknesse, R. A.
Power, N. Thompson, Col.
Pryse, P. Thornely, T.
Pusey, P. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Raphael, A. Towneley, J.
Repton, G. W. J. Townley, R. G.
Reynolds, J. Townshend, Capt.
Ricardo, O. Vane, Lord H.
Rice, E. R. Villiers, hon. C.
Rich, H. Walmsley, Sir J.
Robartes, T. J. A. Walter, J.
Romilly, Sir J. Ward, H. G.
Rumbold, C. E. Watkins, Col. L.
Russell, Lord J. Wawn, J. T.
Russell, F. C. H West, F. R.
Rutherfurd, A. Westhead, J. P.
Salwey, Col. Willcox, B. M.
Sandars, G. Williams, J.
Sandars, J. Willoughby, Sir H
Scrope, G. P. Wilson, J.
Seymer, H. K. Wilson, M.
Shell, rt. hon. R. L. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Simeon, J. Wood, W. P.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Wrightson, W. B.
Smith, J. A. Wyld, J.
Smith, J. B. Wyvil, M.
Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Spearman, H. J. TELLERS.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Tufnell, H.
Stanton, W. H. Hill, Lord M.
List of the NOES.
Adare, Visct. Fuller, A. E.
Adderley, C. B. Gore, W. R. O.
Anstey, T. C. Granby, Marq. of
Archdall, Capt. M. Greene, J.
Bailey, J., jun. Grogan, E.
Bankes, G. Halford, Sir H
Barron, Sir H. W. Hall, Col.
Bennet, P. Hayes, Sir E.
Bernard, Visct. Herbert, H. A.
Boldero, H G. Herries, rt. hon. J. C.
Bourke, R. S. Hildyard, R. C.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Bruce, C. L. C. Hood, Sir A.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H
Castlereagh, Visct. Jones, Capt.
Caulfeild, J. M. Ker, R.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Knox, Col.
Clements, hon. C. S. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Cobbold, J. C. Lewisham, Visct.
Cocks, T. S. Lockhart, W.
Cole, hon. H A. Lopes, Sir R.
Coles, H. B. Macnaghten, Sir E.
Conolly, T. Macnamara, Maj.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Meagher, T.
Cubitt, W. Manners, Lord G.
Dick, Q. Maxwell, hon. J. P.
Disraeli, B. Meux, Sir H.
Dod, J. W. Miles, P. W. S.
Dodd, G. Miles, W.
Dundas, G. Monsell, W.
Dunne, F. P. Moody, C. A.
Du Pre, C. G. Mullings, J. R.
Farrer, J. Napier, J.
Forester, hon. G. C. W. Newdegate, C. N.
Fox, R. M. Newport, Visct.
Fox, S. W. L. Newry and Morne, Visct.
Nugent, Sir P. Stanley, E.
O'Brien, Sir L. Stuart, J.
O'Flaherty, A. Taylor, T. E.
Ossulston, Lord Tenison, E. K.
Pigot, Sir R. Thompson, Aid.
Plumptre, J. P. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Prime, R. Verner, Sir W.
Renton, J. C. Waddington, H. S.
Rufford, F. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Scott, hon. F. Wodehouse, E.
Scully, F.
Sibthorp, Col. TELLERS.
Spooner, R. Beresford, W.
Stafford, A. Mackenzie, W. F.

Matter considered in Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That in each of the two next years there shall be paid by every Union in Ireland, a sum equal to a rate of sixpence in the pound on each electoral division in such Union, towards a General Fund for the relief of the Poor in Ireland. That the said sum shall be paid to a separate account at the Bank of Ireland, in the name of the Paymaster of Civil Services in Ireland, and shall be applied in such manner as Parliament shall direct.

Committee report progress.

House adjourned at half-past One o'clock.