§ Order for Second Reading read; Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. G. A. HAMILTON
said, he felt he was incurring a serious responsibility in resisting the further progress of the Bill—a responsibility much increased by the announcement made by the noble Lord of his intention to call for a vote of 100,000l. on the faith of it. He knew it would be imputed to him, as it had been already imputed to those with whom he acted, that, uninfluenced by a sense of the miserable condition of certain districts in the west and south of Ireland, and influenced only by considerations connected with the more improved parts of that country, they were proposing to consign the inhabitants of those ill-fated districts to starvation. He would only say on this subject, that those who entertained that opinion did them great injustice. In opposing the Rate in Aid Bill, he and his friends were far from being indifferent to the condition of things in the west and south; they were not indisposed to afford the people of those districts the relief which the exigency of their case might require, and certainly they were far from being indisposed to submit to their own fair share of the cost of such relief. But they did object to the Rate in 1309 Aid Bill, because they thought that while the aid required might be afforded in another manner, consistent with justice and sound policy, the Bill before the House was not only unjust and unconstitutional in its principle, but that it would be found inadequate and delusive as regarded the object it had in view, and that it was calculated to increase pauperism, and aggravate nearly all the evils which they had to contend with, and which had caused so many difficulties with regard to Ireland. It was stated on very high political authority—and of course it was well known as an historical fact—that nearly every great political struggle in those countries had boon connected with questions of taxation; and certainly, considering the peculiar circumstances and temper of Ireland, there never was a time when, however desirable it might be that Irishmen should forget their differences, it would be more unfortunate for the best interests of the empire that they should be united by a feeling of unjust taxation, and in a determination, as far as possible, to resist it; and he trusted the noble Lord would not shut his eyes to the indications of a result which would be most deplorable as regards the interests of Ireland herself. Under any circumstances, it was most desirable, when a new impost was sought to be charged, that it should commend itself to the common sense and feeling of justice of those by whom it was to be paid: this was more especially necessary with regard to imposts upon particular classes, or districts—or of any partial operation, or for the benefit of particular localities. Men, in such cases, were peculiarly sensitive. Men were naturally and justly jealous lost the community should impose what ought to be a general charge upon a particular class of locality, and thereby overthrow the equity and balance which tend so much to cement the social and political fabric in these countries—and hence, probably, it was that it had now become almost a fundamental principle of the constitution, that rates or charges raised upon a locality should be levied and administered by local authorities. There was no party in the House by whom, when it suited their political purposes, this principle of the correlative rights of local taxation, local representation, and local administration, was more fully maintained and advocated, and its peculiar importance as regarded Ireland inculcated, than by those now in office. They had often, it was true, violated the great prin- 1310 ciples of the constitution. They had been compelled, by a dire necessity, to introduce Coercion Bills on many occasions, and even to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act; but the social and political fabric in Ireland was to be reconstructed by teaching Irishmen the English habits of self-dependence, self-government, and local administration. One would really almost suppose that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire had introduced his resolutions the other night to embarrass Her Majesty's Government in reference to their conduct as regarded this Rate in Aid Bill. If he (Mr. Hamilton) wanted arguments against the principle of the Bill in this particular, he could find them in the speeches of Members on both sides of the House on that very kindred occasion. It might, perhaps, be irregular to allude to them more particularly; but one right hon. Gentleman—no mean authority—had stated that the habits of self-government were at the very basis of our social and political system; that it was impossible to pay too dear a price for it; and that if Parliament should undermine it even by interfering with a moiety of the local rates, they would inflict a blow not only on the prosperity but on the peace and happiness of the country, which they would rue to the end of their days. He objected to the Bill because it was in direct violation of this principle of the constitution, and because it did not commend itself to the sense of justice of those by whom the rate in aid was to be paid. The poor-law in Ireland was a great experiment; many of those the best conversant with the country were doubtful as to the result of it, even when established in its more limited form, and without any outdoor relief; and when the outdoor relief was superadded, contrary to the opinions and warnings of almost every Irish Member, a most severe pressure was put upon the whole country, and at a time when it was little able to bear it; still, upon the whole, a charge for the relief of the poor did commend itself to the sense of justice of the people, and the poor-rate had been paid cheerfully and with wonderful punctuality in those parts of Ireland where the people were at all able to pay. In proof of this, the Commissioners had stated in their last annual report that the loss had not been more than 2 per cent, and the arrears up to the last rates made had been only 6 per cent. But the whole system was founded upon the principle of making 1311 each district chargeable for its own poor. Many of the districts may have been made originally too large; but the system had been administered upon the faith of that principle. The rate was levied under the authority of the guardians who were the representatives of the ratepayers, and it was administered in a great degree under their supervision; and Irishmen, where the system had worked well, had learned, under the auspices of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, the constitutional principles, and the rights, and the feelings arising out of the constitutional practices of local taxation, local representation, and local administration. The noble Lord now proposed to exact from ratepayers the rate in aid, as a compulsory assessment for remote districts, in violation of the principle he had himself inculcated and taught of local representation and local taxation, and to have it paid into a general fund, to be admistered at the will of Government or the Poor Law Commissioners—whose administration, by the way, had not commended itself peculiarly to the good sense of the Irish people—in violation of the principle of local administration. There was not a ratepayer in Ireland who would not feel that this was unfair and unjust. There was not a ratepayer who would not feel that having administered the system faithfully, on the principle of local and self-government, it was unfair and unjust that while all other classes in the community were exempt, he should be obliged, in addition to the support of his own poor, to pay for the pauperism and the abuses in a distant part of Ireland which he had no share in creating. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had stated, in his eloquent speech the other night, that it was a dangerous thing to impress a class, even if it was a weak one, that injustice had boon done to them by the Legislature in a matter of taxation. He (Mr. Hamilton) believed that such an impression would be deeply and permanently made upon the best portion of the population of Ireland, if this measure should become law; he thought the effect would be much more serious in that respect than was generally supposed; and he therefore objected to the measure on the grounds of its injustice. But in the Bill itself there were high and constitutional grounds for objection, independently of those connected with the sense of injustice and the violation of the principles of self-government. He doubted whether 1312 Parliament had ever before been called upon to give to a Commission the power of imposing taxation upon a portion of Her Majesty's subjects by a sealed order, and to vest the proceeds of that taxation in the same Commissioners, with a power of applying it nearly at their own discretion. The Bill states that it shall be lawful for these throe Commissioners to fix and declare the amount, and to assess the same, by their sealed order, and to pay the same to such person or persons, and subject to such conditions, as the Treasury shall think fit, for the purpose of affording relief or assisting emigration. He would like to know whether such a principle would be tolerated for one moment in England. He would like to see the Minister who would dare to propose it. But he objected to the measure, also, because it would prove inadequate and delusive. If anything could justify so obnoxious and unconstitutional a tax, it would be the certainty of its being adequate and sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was intended. The rate in aid was expected to produce about 250,000l. He felt bound to say he doubted much whether it would be found possible to exact it. He believed it was almost a political impossibility to raise a tax which was based upon a general feeling of injustice. But even if it was raised, it would be found quite insufficient for the relief of the poor in the distressed unions. There were twenty-three unions in a pauperised state; the financial condition of nine of those twenty-three was given in the last papers laid on the table. He had gone over them carefully, and he found, estimating the liabilities and means at a very moderate calculation, between the present time and the next harvest, it would take 183,000l. to support the pauperism of those districts up to that time. Then there was the remainder of the twenty-three unions, and, besides, many electoral divisions in other parts of the country which would require assistance. He was very anxious to compress what he had to say as much as possible, and he would, therefore, allude very shortly to the other objections. The mea-sure was calculated to aggravate all the evils of which the people complain in Ireland, and which had been found so embarrassing to England. The want of self-dependence and exertion—the want of industry, the want of an inducement and desire to improve, were the evils of the parts of Ireland which were now pauperised, and were in a great degree the causes of 1313 that pauperisation. But the condition of the north and east of Ireland was essentially different, and to what is that difference attributable? It was not attributable to the population being less dense; for if any hon. Member will take the trouble of examining the census, he will find that the population of many parts of Ulster is far more dense than that of Munster or Connaught. Neither was it attributable altogether to the larger size of farms, for there were nearly as large a proportion per cent of farms under fifteen acres in Ulster as in Connaught. But the difference was really attributable to the habits of self-dependence, and exertion, and industry, and improvement, which were the characteristics of the north of Ireland. In common with the rest of Ireland, the people of the north and east had suffered from a visitation of the heaviest description. By their energy and industry these are just now beginning to rise and recover from that calamity. By their good management they had avoided many of the evils incident to relief in the south, and they had drawn very sparingly from the public funds. On the contrary, in some instances subscriptions had been sent for the relief of the poor in the south and west. You are now going to tax them for the outdoor relief of the people of Connaught, where he feared great abuses had prevailed, and still prevail. Is this the way in which you reward the people of Leinster and Ulster for their industry and good management? And is this the mode of teaching the people of Connaught to emulate their example? He would like to know whether the rate in aid was to go in payment of advances made to the western districts under the Labour Rate Act? If so, or if any portion of those advances was to be exacted from the pauperised unions, it is clear that the improved parts of Ireland are to be taxed not only for the support of the poor in those western unions, but to pay the Government advances, and against that principle also he must raise his protest. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, though he had adverted very slightly, and with his usual caution, to the rate in aid, had intimated that there was an analogy in what he termed the principle of vicinage in England. He (Mr. Hamilton) had moved for a return, which had not yet been laid on the table of the House, of the number of instances in England, during the last ten years, in which a rate in aid had been made. He believed they would be found to be very few indeed. 1314 But at all events the principle of the rate in aid in England was essentially different from that which this Bill would establish for Ireland. The 43rd of Elizabeth certainly authorises the imposition of a rate in aid, but it is only upon the adjoining parishes or hundred, and within the county; and the rate so authorised to be made by the local authorities at their discretion—the justices at sessions. It therefore appeared to him that there was no analogy whatever between the two, and that no argument except indeed an argument against the Bill from the recognition in the English rate in aid of the local authority, could be founded upon the principle of vicinage in England. He felt assured that the effect of the Bill would be to endanger the good working of the poor-law system throughout the whole of Ireland. He had already stated, that in many parts of the country the system had been well administered, and the rate cheerfully paid. By the Bill before the House the Commissioners were empowered to put their hands into the pockets of the treasurers of the different unions, and to take out from thence this rate in aid—not to make a separate assessment for the purpose, but to take 6d. in the pound on the valuation of each union, whether that 6d. were collected or not, and regardless of the exigencies of the union, or the debts for which the guardians might be responsible. Now, although this might be a convenient mode of enforcing payment, he feared it would be found a costly experiment as regards the working of the poor-law system. Why, the inevitable effect would be to set the whole population against the whole system. He would say nothing as to the rate falling upon the small farmers at a time when they could ill afford to make any payment, and that in many cases this additional 6d. would have the effect of reducing a struggling union to pauperism. There were many electoral divisions even in the north and east just in that position. There were many cases in which the rate in aid would just have the effect of frustrating all their efforts to maintain themselves, and of reducing them to a state of insolvency. He further thought the Bill most objectionable in its principle, from the tendency it had to establish separate national interests between the two countries. Instead of dealing with the pauperised unions as portions of the united kingdom, you are dealing with them as portions of the kingdom of Ireland. His hon. and gallant Friend the Member for 1315 Portarlington, on the very first night when the measure was proposed, had asked the question, was there a Union, or was there not? Hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords who pledged themselves to resist the repeal of the Union to the death, and who were supported in resisting it principally by public opinion in the north and east, had no right now to repudiate their union principles, and deal with Ireland on anti-union principles; and the consideration, he could assure the House, became the more serious when it is recollected that those by whom, in fact, the tax will be paid, are the very parties who supported you in resisting repeal. By passing this Bill, you will lose an opportunity of cementing the Union—of proving to the friends of the Union in Ireland that its principle is to be maintained in all things; and you will be creating a feeling and establishing an argument which, if carried out, even the friends of the Union must admit would, if fully carried out, lead to separation and repeal. He must say, that in the present state of things in Ireland, a different policy should have been adopted towards that country: a poor-law had been forced upon her, in deference to popular opinion in England, which she was not in a condition to bear—all former authorities, almost every Irish Member, had warned yon of the consequences. He (Mr. Hamilton) had endeavoured, at the time, to point out the impossibility that the western counties could sustain any system of outdoor relief: he had warned the noble Lord at the head of the Government that the system in those counties would break down in six months. It was only necessary to look to the census of 1841, and the valuation, to feel sure on that subject. The noble Lord had said nothing then of a rate in aid. If hon. Members would only take the trouble of comparing England with Ireland, or any county in England with any county in Ireland, they could not fail to see the injustice of this additional charge on land in Ireland. In the first place it should be borne in mind, in comparing the two countries, that poor-laws in England had subsisted for centuries. When many of the arrangements between landlord and tenant—and settlements of property were made, the poor-rates were higher than at present. In Ireland, on the contrary, the poor-rate was altogether a new charge, pressing upon landed property already very heavily encumbered, and upon the occupiers of land, at a time when by your 1316 free-trade legislation, the value of agricultural produce had been greatly diminished. When hon. Members spoke of there being 5s. or 10s. rates in England, this difference was material to be considered—and when it is said that Ireland is not liable to an income tax, it should be recollected that land in Ireland is paying, in fact, a property tax to the poor of about 14 per cent. The two countries were differently circumstanced altogether, and it was absurd to apply the same rule of legislation to them. How different were their respective positions would appear from the following—
Now, independently of poor-rates being an 1317 old charge in the one country, and a new one in the other, judge of the capabilities of the two countries by this comparison. But in England you have trade, manufactures, and capital to employ the people, and an habitually industrious population. In Ireland you have nothing of the kind, but an unemployed cottier population. Ireland has been visited with a calamity admitted to be unparalleled in modern times, the food of her people during three successive years blighted, and property to the extent of thirty millions annihilated; her farmers, also, made the peculiar victims of your English free-trade legislation. One would have said that under such circumstances, merely in an economical point of view, it would have been both wise and just to have cherished her remaining resources. Every pound, it should be recollected, which is expended in maintaining a pauper in idleness, is so much of the productive capital of the country annihilated. Is it for your interest that the productive capital of Ireland should be still further diminished? that the capital in the east and north, which is now engaged in affording employment, and stimulating industry, and increasing the wealth of the country, should be drawn away to the west, and there expended in maintaining the people in idleness? He should have thought that the wiser and the better course would have been to have settled the fiscal question between England and Ireland. We in Ireland think that we are paying our fair share of imperial taxation, according to the Articles of Union—you in England maintain that we are not. Let the matter be fairly investigated. If on such investigation it should appear that we are not, I promise you no Irishman will object to the imposition of such taxation as will set the matter right. That being done, look at the condition of the pauperised unions. Treat it not as an Irish question, but as a question affecting every individual in the united kingdom. Depend on it, it will require larger measures than any yet propounded to raise the condition of these pauperised unions; and the sooner these measures are adopted the better for the interests of the united kingdom. Leave them in their present state, and you cannot prevent the effect of their pauperism reaching yourselves. You cannot prevent the influx of Irish labourers into this country, and the effect which their low wages, or rather no wages, must have upon the condition of your own agricultural population. If you 1318 expect to cure this state of things by the application of a poor-law, you will be miserably mistaken; you should deal with these pauperised districts as a proprietor, with means at his disposal, would deal with a portion of his estate in which the poverty had detroyed the industry and property. What would the proprietor do in that case? Why, he would say to himself, this state of things must be altered, or the rest of my estate will be affected. It may require a large expenditure; but the sooner I make my mind up to incur it the better. I may have to make arrangements with my subsisting tenants, to purchase up their interests, if they do not possess the means of working their farms—I may have to employ a portion of the population in improving the land—or, I may have to provide for some of them by emigration. Now, he (Mr. Hamilton) called upon Englishmen to take this view of those parts of Ireland. Settle the question of taxation as between England and Ireland; if in Ireland we are not bearing our fair share of imperial taxation, put us on a proper footing in that respect, and then take a business-like view of the pauperised unions. The rate in aid is a mere futile, temporary expedient—increasing the general poverty of Ireland, and not removing it in the distressed districts: things in those districts, six months hence, will be as bad as now. Instead of those miserable expedients, take into consideration the plan of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. It may be necessary to purchase up the interest of those landlords whom your measures have pauperised. It may be necessary to employ the ablebodied labourers whom your system is now feeding in idleness and encouraging to be idle, in improving and re-cultivating, so as to enable you to resell those estates. It may be necessary to get rid of a portion of the population by emigration. These and other measures may be necessary. For himself, he could only say, that if there was any assurance that Parliament would really deal with the question in earnest, if they would only deal with it as an imperial question, and apply to it the intelligence which the stimulus of self-interest affords, he, for one, would not differ with them on the subject of an income tax. He had himself no property in the west of Ireland; but he was sure there was no indisposition amongst the people of the cast and north to submit to any fair taxation, provided the question was made 1319 an imperial one, affecting Englishmen equally with Irishmen—and provided there was really a determination to grapple with the difficulties. In confirmation of what he stated, he had within the last few hours received a copy of resolutions passed by the high sheriff and grand jury of the county of Antrim, which he would read to the House:—
COMPARISON OF ENGLAND AND WALES WITH IRELAND, IN PROPORTION OF POPULATION AND VALUATION. For every 100 Persons. England and Wales— Population, 1841 15,906,829 393l. Valuation for poor-rate £62,540,030 Ireland— Population, 1841 8,174,268 161l. Valuation £13,187,421 England and Wales— Estimated population,1847 17,076,000 394l. Valuation £67,320,578 Cornwall— Population, 1841 341,269 266l. Valuation £909,479 Mayo— Population, 1841 388,887 77l. Valuation £299,851 Wilts— Population 260,007 452l. Valuation £1,175,616 Lancashire— Population 1,667,064 315l. Valuation £5,266,606 Westmoreland— Population 56,469 470l. Valuation £266,335 Leinster Province— Population 2,066,036 230l. Valuation £4,624,542 Ulster Province— Population 2,362,132 140l. Valuation £3,320,133 Erris— Population 22,773 47l. Valuation £10,822 Clifden Union— Population 33,465 59l. Valuation £19,986 Louth— Population 111,979 172l. Valuation £192,502 Meath— Population 183,828 288l. Valuation £529,750 Down— Population 361,446 126l. Valuation £455,713 Armagh— Population 232,393 104l. Valuation £241,912Resolved: That inasmuch as great misapprehensions and difference of opinion prevail in reference to the fiscal relations between Great Britain and Ireland, and as statements have been made frequently both in Parliament and elsewhere, that Ireland is not at present bearing her just share of imperial taxation, which statement we believe to be unfounded, having reference to the abilities of the two countries, and the Articles of Union, it would be most desirable that means should be taken to have this important matter properly investigated and adjusted, involving, as it does, questions of considerable delicacy and jealousy.—Resolved: That for this purpose, an Address be prepared and presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to appoint a Commission of honourable men to inquire into and report upon this subject; and a petition to the same effect be presented to the Commons.—Resolved: That while we implore the Legislature not to press forward and pass into a law so unjust and impolitic a measure as a rate in aid, on the more industrious districts of Ireland, to relieve the distressed portions of the west and south, the amount of which we feel confident would be quite inadequate to meet their wants, we declare there is no indisposition on our parts to bear our fair share of imperial taxation; but, on the contrary, it is our anxious desire, both as a matter of justice and sound policy, that a thorough union, founded as well upon fiscal as political and social equity, and constituting to all intents and purposes the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland one realm, should be established and maintained.These were the sentiments, he believed unanimously, of the Antrim grand jury. He (Mr. Hamilton) would conclude, by repeating that he objected to the rate in aid, because it was dealing with Ireland on provincial principles—on principles which you would not think of applying to England, and which, if carried out, would lead to separation and repeal; because it is condemned by your own witnesses—because it is delusive and insufficient—and, because in his conscience he believed it to be unjust. He, therefore, moved that the Bill he read a second time that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."
seconded the Amendment upon the principle that the Bill was as objectionable for two years as it would be for twenty. He observed, that this Bill 1320 had been defended on the ground that the principle of taxation it proposed to establish was similar to the principle in force in this country; because, in England, when a parish was unable to support its own poor, the principle of a rate in aid was applied. That was, however, a very different matter from the principle embodied in this Bill, which would require the inhabitants of peaceable and industrious districts to contribute to the relief of persons residing in distant parts of the country, to whose destitution they had in no manner contributed, and over the management of whose affairs they could have no control. He was ready to admit that Ireland ought to contribute her fair share, in proportion to her means, to the imperial revenue; but he maintained that the Government had no right to call upon Irish Members to assent to the principle of this Bill on the assumption that they were not sufficiently taxed. It was true that Ireland was exempt from certain taxes which pressed heavily upon the industry of this country; but he had never understood that Ireland owed the exemption to the partiality and forbearance of the English Legislature. He believed the exemption arose either from the supposed inability of Ireland to contribute to such imposts, or from the circumstance that the taxes were inapplicable to that country. He might be asked why he had voted in favour of the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Longford, to substitute an income tax for the rate in aid? He had done so because he considered the proposal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the least objectionable of the two alternatives. The income tax was not liable to the objections in point of principle to which the rate in aid was obnoxious; it would fall, not upon the poor ratepayer, but on the owners of property, and he would advise the Irish landed proprietors to accept an assimilation of taxation between England and Ireland, which might entitle them to look to the Consolidated Fund for assistance, instead of being subjected to a rate in aid. He believed that if the principle of a rate in aid had been attached to the amended Poor Law Act of 1847, the landed proprietors in Ulster and Leinster would have been absolutely ruined, from having been compelled to contribute to relieve the extensive destitution which had existed in Ireland. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had said that he did not think it would be necessary to continue this measure in 1321 operation for more than two years, because he anticipated that the return of more prosperous times, and the emigration of a portion of the people, would remove the existing pressure. He (Mr. Corry) found, however, from evidence collected by the Poor Law Commissioners on previous occasions, that the people in many districts had suffered privations little, if at all, less severe than those under which they had lately been suffering; and he did not believe any serious impression would be made on the population of Ireland by emigration unless the question was taken up by the Government. He opposed this measure because he thought it most un-statesmanlike; it would make the whole of Ireland one gigantic union, and would remove that stimulus to endeavouring to keep down the rates, and to improving the condition of the people, which would have resulted from adopting a diminished area of taxation. He did not think the measure would have any effect on the loyalty of his constituents. They might feel that no Minister would dare to persevere in applying to England a tax so distasteful to the people of that country as this tax was to the Irish people, but he did not think their desire to maintain British connexion, or their loyalty to the Crown, would be weakened. Thinking the measure most unjust and oppressive, he should oppose it by every means in his power.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
observed, that his hon. Friend who had moved the Amendment said, that he felt for the distress endured by the people in the south of Ireland; and his right hon. and gallant Friend who had just sat down had proposed to give them no aid whatever. His right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tyrone had declared it to be a hard thing that the industrious people in the north and east of Ireland should have to take care not only of their own poor, but also be called upon to contribute from their small incomes to the distressed persons in Connaught; but, in saying this, he looked in vain for any indication from him as to what was the quarter from which the funds were to come for those who were distressed. His right hon. and gallant Friend had, indeed, said that if Ireland were not taxed in accordance to her means, the question as to her paying the due proportion to the taxation of the empire might be submitted to a Committee; and in the event of that Committee reporting in a particular manner, then he would submit to an additional 1322 share of taxation. The hon. Member for the University of Dublin proposed an investigation which would occupy a great deal of time; but then the hon. Member should recollect that this was an emergency—that there was an absolute necessity at once to stay famine in these districts; and the question was how was this to be best done under the circumstances in which they were placed? To say, then, at such a time that there should be a Committee of Inquiry into the taxation of Ireland was blinking the question. He asked his hon. Friend if the income tax was not a new tax? Was it imposed upon Ireland? He remembered well when the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth first proposed the income tax. He (Sir W. Somerville) was sitting, with some of his fellow-countrymen, in breathless anxiety to know if Ireland was about to be subjected to that tax; and he did remember, as if it were only yesterday, what a murmur of approbation rose from his friends when the right hon. Gentleman announced that it was not his intention to apply the income tax to Ireland. Remembering that circumstance, he must say that he little thought that he should ever have seen the day when Irish Members, to escape a rate in aid—which rate in aid was to support the suffering poor in the west of Ireland—he little thought that, in their anxiety to escape that, they would have clamoured for the imposition of the income tax. [Cries of "No, no!" from Irish Members on the Ministerial benches.] There might be some hon. Gentlemen who were not very clamorous for an income tax: but certainly, in what he had said, he did not wrong the hon. Gentleman who proposed and seconded the Amendment. [Mr. HAMILTON explained.] In reply to the remark that the funds to be raised under this Act were to be administered by strangers and not by local boards, he was prepared to say that in no single case in which the guardians had been removed by the Poor Law Commissioners, were they not fully justified in doing so? There was not a single instance in which a guardian had been removed that he was not prepared to justify. Great stress had been laid on the fact that it was a hardship to ask the industry of Ulster to pay for the pauperism of Connaught; and he was asked what had Ulster to do with Connaught? His belief was that Ulster had a great deal to do with Connaught. He believed that Connaught could not be 1323 in the state in which it now was without its spreading abroad, and rendering every part of the country in which it occurred suffering. It was impossible for Ulster to blow hot and cold on this subject. If it claimed an exemption from the income tax on the ground that it was part and portion of a poor country, surely it would not in the next breath say, that because it was affluent and independent, it was not to be called on to pay anything at all? As to the landlords of Connaught being pauperised by measures of that House, or by the new poor-law, he must say, with all due deference, he did not believe it. No measure of that House, and no poor-law, had pauperised these landlords. He believed that the present dreadful state of things was to be attributed to the failure of the potato crop—a crop on which the whole social fabric of that unfortunate province had been founded, and on the failure of which the whole fabric fell to pieces. It was that which caused the distress of the poorer classes, and the pauperism of the landlords. Such was the real cause of both, and not any measure that had passed that House. His right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Tyrone had remarked upon the fact that there was no clause granting a rate in aid added to the Bill of 1847. No such clause had been added; but when distress did arise, neither the people of this country nor the Government had been backward in affording aid to the distressed districts in Ireland. This having been done, he then considered, as an Irishman, that the time had come when an effort should be made by Irishmen to assist themselves. And then came the question, which was the best mode of doing so? As an Irishman, he preferred the rate in aid to an income tax. His hon. Friend had referred to the state of Ireland in 1835, and asked, was it the aim of the Government to bring back that state of things? It was in the endeavour to mitigate the severity of that state of things that the poor-law was enacted; and his belief was now, and always had been, that the measure of 1847, for relieving the poor out of the workhouse, was a measure of absolute necessity. If the present poor-law machinery had been in operation prior to 1847, by which to distribute the funds which were at the disposal of the Commissioners, a largo amount of money might have been saved. Supposing, then, that they were agreed that it was not too much to ask of the 1324 people of Ireland to come forward in some way or other and contribute towards the relief of the distress prevailing in the western districts, all they had now to decide was, as to the best mode by which assistance might be rendered. It should never be forgotten that this rate in aid was a temporary measure, and that it was intended to meet what he had every reason to hope would prove but a temporary calamity. His hon. Friend who led the opposition to the Bill under consideration seemed to be in favour of Government assistance to emigration; whilst his hon. Friend who seconded him appeared as decidedly opposed to Government assistance; and he must say that the latter hon. Gentleman used what was rather an extraordinary argument in reference to emigration against the present measure. The hon. Gentleman said, that by coming forward now and asking for extraneous means of support for the population in the distressed districts, they were, in fact, placing obstacles in the way of the free emigration of the people; because if they once entertained the notion that they were to be fed at home, they would not care to exert themselves that they might emigrate. But that afforded no answer whatever. His (Sir W. Somerville's) reason for preferring the rate in aid was, to prevent English taxes from being extended to Ireland. It was not the fact that Ulster was not concerned in this question; and if the measure were urged upon union principles, he would remind them that they had been exempted from a number of those taxes which at this time weighed upon and oppressed the people of this country. There might be some of his countrymen who preferred the adoption of an income tax for Ireland; but he believed that, if the Government had in the first instance proposed an extension of the income tax to Ireland, they would have been met with as large, if not a larger, amount of opposition than they had had to encounter upon the present measure.
§ VISCOUNT JOCELYN
said, that, in rising to support the Amendment of his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, he was anxious to state the grounds upon which he had come to the conclusion to give his vote against the measure of the Government, He would, however, at once distinctly state that he was not one of those who were opposed to that fair and just increase of taxation which the British Parliament might feel itself 1325 justified in imposing upon the people of Ireland, if it thought that they did not now pay that portion which they were really able to contribute; but he objected to the measure before the House because he considered it to be unjust in principle, and inefficacious for the object which the Government had in view. He believed that those temporary enactments which had passed this House in the course of the last few years, although many of them originated in some of the most generous of motives, and for which a deep debt of gratitude was duo by the Irish people, had at the same time rather tended to foster and encourage some of the worst features in the character of the Irish people, whilst they had been a serious drain upon the finances of the empire. For his part, he thought that it was with the root of the evil that they ought to deal; that instead of the symptoms they should attack the seat of the disease. And it was with this opinion that he was sorry to hear the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland hold out what he feared was but a delusive hope, that the present was a merely temporary measure to meet a temporary difficulty. He believed that the right hon. Baronet and those with whom he acted were as alive as any Members in the House to the fact that a social revolution had already commenced in Ireland; that it must be accompanied by great pain and struggle, and that the result of that revolution might tend to the permanent benefit of Ireland; but then that result could only be attained by stimulating the self-reliance and energies of the Irish people themselves, by the adoption of a wise policy on the part of the Imperial Government. Before voting a sum of money from the public treasury, he conceived they had a right to be satisfied that the people of Ireland were prepared to contribute their fair proportion to the exigencies of the State, and that the measure now under consideration was one likely to ensure that those drains should not continue to be made. But he could not see that those two points were effectually met by the Bill. He objected then to the measure of the Government, because he believed it was most unjust to call upon one distinct portion of the empire to contribute to the exigencies of another distinct portion of the empire. He was of opinion that it would act injuriously as far as regarded the self-reliance and exertion of the people; that it would tend rather to increase than diminish Irish pauperism; and that any measure like this, so totally adverse to the 1326 feelings of the majority of the people of Ireland, could not be carried out beneficially. Where was the justice of a measure which called upon the industry of Ulster and Leinster to contribute to the relief of the pauperism of Munster and Connaught? If such a principle was right for Ireland, it was equally right for England; but would it for one moment be considered by the people of this country to be a just proposition to call upon the inhabitants of Yorkshire, for instance, to contribute to the relief of the destitution of Dorsetshire or Hampshire? There were districts where the rate was 16s. or 17s. in the pound; when this Bill was passed, and they were reduced to 6s. or 7s., the surplus was to be paid out of the general fund. Would this be an inducement to diminish or control the expenditure? This would rather be an inducement to expense. He believed the effect of this measure must necessarily be to discourage exertion and self-reliance on the part of the Irish people. It would take away from the people of Ireland all control over local taxation, and he should not wish for stronger arguments to show how necessary that local control was, than those which were afforded him by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a few nights ago, in reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire. He must say that he never heard a speech which showed more fully and ably how important local management and control over local taxation was than that speech of the right hon. Gentleman. The measure, as now proposed—fixing, as it did, the maximum rate—would be an inducement to incur expense; for when the maximum should be reached, and the land had become depreciated by that amount, the surplus would have to be contributed from the general fund. He did not moan to say that the measure would make the Irish people disloyal subjects; but it was certainly calculated to raise in the minds of many questions which, perhaps, it would be better to have left at rest, and people would be disposed to ask themselves whether it was likely that, in a similar emergency, such a measure would be propounded for England; and they knew very well that it would not. He was also of opinion that the measure would, and must, press most severely upon the smaller class of farmers in Ulster, whose industrious habits had hitherto enabled them to resist burdens to which they were unaccustomed, 1327 and who were a body of men who ought to be valued and cherished. Small as was the rate now proposed, yet as, in the words of the old adage, it was "the last straw that broke the camel's back," so, he believed, the effect of the present measure upon this class of occupiers would be to drive them into pauperism, and thus a class of men would be destroyed whom they would find the utmost difficulty in replacing. It had lately been his duty to act as foreman of the grand jury of the county of Down, and in that capacity he proposed to them a petition in opposition to the measure of the Government; but at the same time distinctly stated that he himself could be no party to such a petition, unless it set forth that they were prepared to hear their fair proportion of the burdens imposed upon the empire generally. Now, there were men of all political opinions and religious creeds upon that grand jury, but not one dissentient voice was raised against his proposition; and the petition had since been presented to this House by the hon. Member for Down. Whatever might be the fate of this Bill, there were other measures which must yet come under the consideration of the House. He was convinced that it was utterly impossible to rest satisfied that this would meet the present exigencies of Ireland. They knew the condition of that country to be this—that pauperism was rapidly increasing—that large tracts of fertile land were thrown out of cultivation—that land was held by individuals who were incapable of performing the duties of proprietors—that the land had been thrown out of cultivation, not for want of labourers, but for want of capital to employ labour—and that the mass of labour was so great there that it had become lowered in value far beneath what it ought to be. They knew also that they had a people to deal with whose character was to look to extraneous aid, to doubt their own exertions, and not to rely upon their own industry. These were the difficulties with which Parliament had now to deal, and which they must deal with ere long, if they were really desirous of improving the condition of the sister island. The present seemed to be the moment when they had the opportunity of improving the condition of Ireland, and of doing it more effectually than for many years past. The potato, to which for so long a period the Irish people had looked for a livelihood, had almost entirely failed, and the attach- 1328 ment with which they clung to the land as the means of producing that article of food, did not now exist to the same degree as formerly. By the pressure of the poor-law upon the proprietors of Ireland, there were many men who had been and would be forced to part with that property, the duties incident to the possession of which they were unable to perform. There was at the present moment a cessation of political and religious strife in Ireland, and on account of the misery they were enduring, men were joined together in one common bond of union. Was he wrong, therefore, in saying, that now was the time when they might legislate with effect, if they were prepared to legislate upon great and sound principles? Whatever measures might be proposed by the Government, it was not in this House that they would encounter any opposition, if they were measures of an enlarged policy, and promised to give effectual relief, and to place Ireland in a permanently improved condition. Even although those measures might call for a large public grant, provided they held out a prospect of permanent improvement, he did not believe that it was in this House they would meet with opposition. But whatever were the measures to be propounded by the Government, he trusted that they would not forget that the value of those institutions which they so justly and so dearly prized was in that local management and control which the measure under discussion would certainly take from the people of Ireland.
§ MR. FRENCH
denied the right of the Secretary for Ireland to taunt those who, on principle, objected to the second reading of the Bill then before the House—with standing between the Irish people and relief. Was the Bill of the importance he sought to attach to it, or was the necessity for it of the urgent nature he described, why had it been hung up for the last fortnight, and postponed for the consideration of the navigation laws? Why, if the measure was for the country a desirable one, was it necessary to threaten Irish Members with the alternative of an income tax if they declined? They very properly refused to countenance legislation which professed to relieve the country by an accumulation of public burdens, without a single measure to enable them to be borne, and the Government, in place of meeting their reasonable objections, announced an income tax in reserve. He was prepared 1329 to support a revision of Irish taxation, and if they were not taxed in the same proportion this country was, he was willing that the deficiency should be supplied by an income tax; but at that moment he was not prepared to admit that Ireland was under-taxed, or that any undue favour had been shown. The income tax had not been extended to Ireland; but the right hon. Baronet by whom it was introduced, had taken in an increased stamp and spirit duty, which he declared to be a full equivalent: eight millions out of the thirteen millions of rental in Ireland did pay income tax, as it came to their absentees or the holders of mortgages on Irish property by persons resident in England. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had accused him of disapproving of the manner in which the poor-law in Ireland had been administered; to this, in common with all his countrymen, he at once pleaded guilty, and he was prepared to show that the conduct of the Commissioners had been arrogant and insulting to the gentry, and oppressive to the ratepayers—that under this management and that of their vice-guardians, the system had been more expensive and less efficient—and that they had most shamefully neglected the interests of the most helpless class in the community, that of the sick poor, which Parliament had most unfortunately confided to them. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for the university of Dublin, that this Bill was unjust, impolitic, ungenerous, and unwise—that it was dangerous as a precedent, while as a measure for relief it was valueless—and that it would tend to divide in place of consolidating the interests of the two countries. Its value as a measure of relief might be judged of from the fact, that if collected it would not produce 200,000l., whilst last year eight unions in Connaught required extra assistance to the extent of 160,000l., and this year would require a still larger sum. This was over and above the rates that could be raised, and there was no lack of severity in levying them—in many cases the last blanket belonging to a family was torn from them and sold for poor-rates. This measure was endeavoured to be palmed upon the House as one of humanity, to which it had not the slightest pretension. It was a mere temporary prop to a system most unwisely and unjustifiably persevered in by Her Majesty's Government, in defiance of Ministerial pledges, official reasoning, and universal condemnation. The 1330 50,000l. grant, and the Bill then before the House, were, he understood, unequivocally condemned by their late Poor Law Commissioner, who declared them to be almost a mockery of the distress existing in that country—to be little less inhuman than poisoning the gruel which the people were to be fed on. Would English Members consent to uphold by their votes a system which, if continued, must annihilate whatever capital it had left remaining in the country—a system which, if continued, must demoralise every portion of the people it had left untainted, and involve every interest in the country—landlord, tenant, merchant, manufacturer, clergy, and laity in one common and inextricable ruin? He regretted the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government. In this country, on the question of an income tax, they had once yielded to the expression of public opinion—why should the voice of Ireland be disregarded? Every portion of the country had recorded its dissent to this measure, and still it was persevered in. Were Irishmen to feel that the right to justice was to depend on their right to enforce it? How did the House act in 1847? They throw a burden on the land of Ireland which the Imperial Treasury, at a cost of seven millions sterling, had found itself unequal to cope with, and this they did in defiance of the pledges given by Ministers on the introduction of the poor-law into Ireland. What was the opinion and declaration of Ministers one year before they came forward with this measure of outdoor relief? The Marquess of Lansdowne declared outdoor relief to be a system of vicious character, which, if adopted, must lead to the confiscation of the property of Ireland. Lord John Russell, in 1846, stated he did not expect such a law would relieve the miseries of Ireland, and that, in place of remedy, it would tend to perpetuate that misery. Mr. Twistleton said it would be a fatal step to introduce outdoor relief to the ablebodied paupers in Ireland. Mr. Nicholls stated that outdoor relief would not only diminish the value and destroy the security of property in Ireland, but would demoralise the whole labouring population, by leading them to depend on the rates instead of their own exertions. Mr. Cornewall Lewis said, the introduction of outdoor relief would be a most disastrous measure. I believe that, in a few years, however carefully guarded the law might be, however trustworthy and intelligent the administra- 1331 tion of relief, it would absorb all the surplus produce of the soil, and deteriorate the condition of the persons for whose benefit it was introduced—it would impoverish the rich without improving the condition of the poor. Mr. Senior said, that if outdoor relief was introduced into Ireland, it would in ten years produce in that country all the evils produced in this in three hundred, and would amount to an entire confiscation of Irish property. Mr. Gulstone said, that outdoor relief would rather aggravate than diminish mendicancy, and that he had no hesitation in pronouncing his decided opinion, that anything approaching to it would very soon swamp the whole property of the country. The deserted mansions, the empty shops, the levelled cabins, and the neglected fields throughout Ireland, testify the accuracy of these predictions. The Irish have been declared incapable of managing their own affairs—a power was vested in nominees of Government to tax to an unlimited extent the property of the country. In thirty-five unions the Commissioners dismissed the guardians, and sent their paid officers to undertake the management, who were rapidly involving them in ruin and demoralisation, Out of nineteen unions in Connaught, fifteen had their elected guardians dismissed. In the four that were left, the average amount of expenses on the entire valuation for twelve months, up to the 29th of September, 1848, was—Ballinasloe, 2s. 1¾d.; Manorhamilton, 2s. 3d.; Sligo, 2s. 10½d.; Swinford. 5s. 9¾d.; whilst in the unions under vice-guardians it amounted, in Westport, to 14s.; in Ballina, to 10s. 11d.; in Castlebar, to 10s. 7d.; Ballinrobe, 8s. 10d.; in Clifden, 1l. 4s. 4½d. in the pound. The amount of rate collected was, in the four undissolved unions, fifty thousand and sixty-two pounds; whilst in the fourteen dissolved ones it was only a hundred and thirty-two thousand six hundred and ninety-two pounds. The grants from Government and the British Association were, to the four undissolved unions, but three thousand one hundred and ninety pounds; whilst to the fourteen dissolved ones, they amounted to one hundred and ninety-six thousand five hundred and twenty-one pounds. The number obtaining relief was in the undissolved unions in Ballinasloe, one three-tenths per cent of the population; in Manorhamilton, one three-tenths; Sligo, three one-tenths; Swinford, four three-tenths; whilst in the dissolved unions 1332 it amounted in Ballina to nineteen sixteenths; in Carrick to seven teensix-tenths; Ballinaroe to twenty eight-tenths; Clifden thirty-seven three-tenths. He trusted he had shown the House that his dissatisfaction at the working of this unconstitutional system was not unreasonable. Mr. Power, the Poor Law Commissioner, stated that in one union in Ulster, in seven unions in Munster, and in fifteen unions in Connaught, the failure of the poor-law to relieve distress had been absolute and undeniable; and to meet this state of affairs the sole measure brought forward was this contemptible sixpenny rate in aid. He wished to call the attention of the House to the state of the workhouses. He held in his hand a schedule of thirty-five unions, taken indiscriminately, which showed that their inmates amount to eighty-three thousand eight hundred and two—an increase within the preceding six months of thirty-five thousand two hundred and ninety-seven—which, taking the average of the houses at a thousand and fourteen, would show an increase in all the workhouses in Ireland of a hundred and thirty-three thousand two hundred and thirty-six. He could not ascertain the number in hospital for each of these thirty-five unions, for want of returns; but he had returns of twenty-five of them, which show there are in hospital seven thousand one hundred and fifty-two patients—an average of two hundred and sixty-eight to each, or thirty-seven thousand three hundred and sixty-seven to all the ten houses, being an increase of twenty thousand three hundred and thirty-seven since July. The mortality of 1848, in fifteen of these unions for one week amounted to three hundred and fifty-seven. Startling as this mortality must appear, it was not to be wondered at when they heard of such facts as in the Skibereen workhouse, that five hundred girls spend the day, dine, and sleep in the girls' school-room, twenty-seven feet by forty-two; that in the bathroom, nine feet by sixteen, 170 men and women spend their entire time in endeavouring to feed and sleep with space barely enough to stand; that 500 to 600 persons have been in the house for a fortnight without getting the house dress, retaining still their filthy rags; that the air in the apartments was intolerable; that many have not changed their linen for the last month; that disease is much increased; and that in the infirmary, in each bed, the number va- 1333 ries from two to six. The doctor has frequently reported that the state of the house endangered the health of the inhabitants of the town, who are in the greatest alarm from the consequences of any outbreak of epidemic in the workhouse. In the Ballinrobe workhouse fever hospital the water and mud are ankle deep on the floors, and after a single shower of rain but one bed in fifty escapes a thorough drenching. In the Castlerea workhouse, and its auxiliary at Willgrove, 500 sick in measles, smallpox, dysentery, &c., are scattered through the infirmary hospitals, sheds and outhouses—children in dysentery being three in a bed. The coffin contractor of the Ennistymon workhouse has supplied over 270 coffins within the last two months! The number in the house is not over 1,000, so that more than one-fourth of the inmates died away in that short space! In the Kinsale workhouse there were 27 deaths in one week; and of 1,900 inmates in Armagh on the 27th of February, 1849, there were 195 in hospital out of 1,175 inmates. In the Parsonstown union, February 29, 1849, the doctor reports a continued increase in mortality, particularly amongst the children, at which he is not surprised, as 136 persons, including nurses and children, were confined in a nursery 50 feet by 21, in which it was not possible to secure proper ventilation. In the Carlow union, February 23, 1849, the doctor reports there was not sufficient accommodation for the sick; the infirmary was built for a workhouse which was suited for less than 900 paupers, but which now contains 2,376. In Middleton, in Nenagh, and in several other unions, similar reports have been made; in Nenagh, in thirty-four deaths recorded in one week, there was an inspector, wardmaster, porter; and several other officers were ill of fever, owing to the state of the house. A very intelligent writer in the Spectator, who visited Ireland last winter, thus describes one of the western workhouses:—The workhouse, I believe, is six years old, and has all that peculiar appearance of misery that belongs to a building partially dilapidated, and yet not quite finished; the windows are broken and unglazed, the fire places imperfect, and the walls unplastered. The yards dirty, and littered with straw, were surrounded with slight wooden sheds for the reception of the sick; the house was designed to contain 1,000 inmates. I was told at the time of my visit that the number of inmates on the books, including those in the auxiliary house, was 3,272; but I doubt much whether any one knew the exact total within 200 1334 or 300, as I learned upon inquiry that no dinner or night roll was called, or any other effectual means adopted for obtaining an exact account of the fluctuating mass of human misery. It was, however, pretty well known that the sheds and wards contained 500 sick labouring under dysentery, fever, smallpox, and measles; besides which there were innumerable cases of scald head, itch, and other cutaneous diseases. I saw many of the sick, including dysentery patients, three in a bed. The mortality, I was told after, amounted to forty in the week. In the wards for idiots and for orphan children (many of the latter being apparently not more than two or three years old), there was neither nurse nor fire-screen; but the latter was scarcely needed, as the handful of smouldering turf-embers, around which the inmates of the wards crouched, was insufficient to inflict any material injury upon them. The dormitories for paupers not in the sick wards or sheds presented a strange appearance—in none of them was there a semblance of a bedstead. They consisted of galleries divided longitudinally by two partitions of wood open at the top, and leaving a passage between them end to end. In each of the long narrow apartments thus formed, there was a raised ledge or stairs upon either side, about five inches high, and extending the whole length upon which the paupers sleep promiscuously like dogs in a kennel; a quantity of bed-clothes lay upon those ledges folded up, and these, as well as the floor and walls, were much cleaner than might be expected.Had the Commissioners taken any steps now to ensure fiscal economy? Not one. Hospital relief, of course, was considerably higher than the ordinary cost of healthy workhouse patients, even under the best and most stringent regulations: what must it be when subject to no control of any kind? It formed a most important item in poor-law taxation, and no steps were taken to render it either efficient or economical. The consequence was, it varied in a most incomprehensible degree. In Ardee the cost per head each week was 1s. 2¼d.; in Drogheda, 3s.; in Enniscorthy, 1s. 3d.; in the fever hospital in Fermoy, it was 3s.; in Cork, 9s. 11d.; in the South Dublin union, 6s. 5d.; while in the Cork fever shed, 12s. Some idea of the abuses might be formed from some of the published reports. The finance committee of the North Dublin union report—That there are great irregularities in the dietary of the infirm wards, that the hospital dietary books contain the names of discharged patients; a vigilant supervision might have prevented the considerable apparent addition to the sick list of the hospital, and the consequent falsification of dates which may hereafter be used for statistical purposes.The Committee were constrained to animadvert in strong terms on the very unsatisfactory manner in which the hospital 1335 dietary books are kept; names inserted by unauthorised persons, rare entries of diseases in the allotted columns, no notification of the number of days for which extra diet was to be continued, no arrangement, care, or responsibility with regard to provisions and articles for hospital use; meat, on a daily average of 100 lbs., handed in bulk to the daughter of the cook; 400 to 500 eggs given daily by a contractor to the same female, who keeps in either instances no accounts; the apothecary receives wine, spirits, porter, tea, sugar, but keeps no account of their disbursements, merely transferring them to the nurses; the result being, that (as was proved on oath) eggs were sold in the house four a penny, wine at four ounces a penny, and bread at one halfpenny per pound; and that the hospital extras for the month of June, 1848, cost 233 10s. 9d., while the same charge, for the same period, at the South Dublin union, was only 68l. 18s. 10d., or at the rate of 827l. 6s. per year. From a report upon the Wexford union fever hospital, dated in August last, we gather that—The supervision of the supply of food is very defective, leaving opportunities for considerable waste; there is no fixed dietary nor dietary book; bread, milk, &c., are taken in without entries being made of the quantities given out to the nurses, who give no vouchers in return; the medical officers give mere verbal directions to the nurses with reference to diet, while the nurses give, with the sanction of the medical officer, such food as they (the nurses) deem to be fit. Some patients are ordered thirty ounces of wine and twelve ounces of whisky daily, and so on.The summary of this report records that, for four consecutive months during which the average number of patients in hospital was 132, there were consumed 1,980 bottles of wine, 1,524 bottles of porter, 58 gallons of whisky, and 40 gallons of beer; while, on comparison with other fever hospitals, it was ascertained that during the same period there were consumed in Cork-street fever hospital (with an average of 162 patients), 333 bottles of wine, 785 pints of porter, no whisky, no beer. In the Kilmainham fever sheds the average numbers of patients being 229, 1,220 bottles of wine, 2,425 pints of porter, 16 gallons of whisky, and 7½ gallons of brandy. It was difficult to estimate the amount levied for the maintenance of such poor in the workhouse: taking it on an average of 2s. 2d. per head each week, it would amount to 210,500l. a year; but this is much too low a figure, and probably 1336 300,000l. would be nearer the mark, in addition to which has to be added the cost of the fever hospital and dispensaries, lately put under the poor-law—the patients in the first class averaging fifty thousand annually—in the latter, half a million. In the lunatic asylums, which contained but 6,000 patients, Parliament insisted on having two medical inspectors; but their humanity appeared exhausted in attending to the insane—the sane might be left to perish by thousands. The hon. Member concluded by imploring English Members, by their votes, not to uphold a system which party feeling would not allow anybody in the House to suffer for an hour in England.
§ MR. W. FAGAN
said, that in a former debate he had merely given utterance to his own feelings and opinions in supporting the Government measure; but since then he had received letters from some of his most influential constituents, all approving of the course he had taken, and stating that the general feeling of the people of Cork was in favour of the rate in aid. It was true that there had been no public meetings; but people seldom met to petition in favour of a new tax. However there had been no meeting against the rate; and if one had been convened, he felt convinced that the result would have been somewhat similar to what had taken place in Carlow. His constituents were opposed to an income tax, and for this reason, that they had no income on which it could be levied. His constituents also held the opinion, which he was happy to find entertained by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that imperial resources ought to be applied to the relief of Irish distress. The noble Viscount the Member for Lynn Regis had propounded the doctrine of self-reliance as the only true remedy for the evils of Ireland; but he (Mr. Fagan) maintained that this was not the time, when the people were dying of starvation, to talk to them of the virtues of self-reliance. In the noble language of that admirable man the ex-Poor Law Commissioner, Mr. Twisleton, whose services he regretted Ireland had now lost, the lives of the people who were dying of starvation ought to be maintained at all hazards. It was to effect that humane end that he (Mr. Fagan) now gave his support to this proposition of Her Majesty's Ministers. He supported this rate in aid, because he believed it would preserve the lives of 200,000 or 300,000 of his fellow-country- 1337 men, who were dying of starvation. The noble Viscount the Member for Lynn Regis had spoken of the social revolution at present in operation in Ireland. How was it to be met? They must either bring the population down to the capital of Ireland, or raise the capital to a level with the population. Did they intend to bring the population down to its capital, by letting the people die of starvation? That could not be the intention of the noble Lord—he was too good an Irishman to propound so dreadful a doctrine; but if he (Mr. Fagan) were to judge of men by their acts, it certainly was the doctrine of many connected with Ireland to bring down its population to its capital, and not to raise its capital to its population; and he could not help thinking that the opinion of some of the leading statesmen of this country was, that the only remedy for the present unhappy condition of Ireland was, to let matters take their own course. But such a doctrine was unworthy of a great people—it was unworthy of that great House of Commons; and he did hope that no desire to protect the landed proprietary of Ireland from the imposition of a sixpenny rate would induce the House to consent to the Amendment proposed that evening, for the purpose of defeating this measure of relief. He did not think that the equalisation of the capital and the population of Ireland was to be effected by emigration or colonisation. But he would not enter into the discussion of that quession now; he should have a future opportunity of doing so; but he could not help saying that the proposition of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, with regard to the plantation of Connaught had produced the greatest satisfaction in Ireland. Indeed, he (Mr. Fagan) trusted that other portions of Ireland, besides those alluded to, might receive the benefit of the right hon. Baronet's statesmanship. His (Mr. Pagan's) hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon, who was a determined enemy of the Irish poor-law, had that evening, as was his wont, attacked the administration of the poor-law in Ireland. He (Mr. Fagan) was the oldest Irish poor-law guardian in that House, and he could conscientiously say that the Irish Poor Law Commissioners had displayed more anxiety than the poor-law guardians to relieve the necessities of the people, and to carry out the Irish poor-law in a proper manner. The testimony of that admirable and humane man, Mr. Twisleton, was conclusive 1338 upon that point. The benevolence and humanity displayed by that gentleman were sufficient to immortalise his name in the memories of the Irish people. The gentry of Ireland and that House had treated him most unjustly. The hon. Member for Roscommon had spoken of 160,000l. being due for poor-rates in the district with which he was connected as a reason why this measure should not receive the sanction of the House; but he (Mr. Fagan) considered that very fact to be a strong argument in favour of this rate in aid. The hon. Gentleman had admitted that in his part of Ireland the poor-rates could not be collected, and consequently the people there were dying of starvation. With the view, then, of preserving their lives, he (Mr. Fagan) called upon the House to support this proposition of Her Majesty's Ministers. It was a measure of humanity, and justifiable only on that ground. Some hon. Gentlemen who had spoken against this measure had talked as if there were no poor in the world. All the interests that they seemed to be aware of were those of the ratepayers, the landlords, and the occupiers of the soil. The lives of the starving they had passed over altogether unnoticed. With regard to the assertion of his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon as to the cost per head in the fever hospital at Cork, he had merely to observe that, in his opinion, the hon. Gentleman's statement was inaccurate—the management of the Cork fever hospital was as economical and as regular as that of any other hospital in Cork.
§ MR. H. HERBERT
had listened with great attention to the arguments of hon. Members who supported this measure, but he had not heard one single argument advanced by them in support of the justice of this measure. Nobody could deny the existence of the alarming destitution in Ireland, and those who in that country opposed this measure for the relief of that distress did not pretend to say that it ought not to be relieved; what they complained of was, the mode of relief proposed by Her Majesty's Ministers. They complained that the Government, although they were aware long ago of the crisis that had befallen Ireland, now at length came forward with, not a just and permanent, but an unjust and a temporary measure. In reply to his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland had said, that in the speeches of the opponents of this measure, 1339 he had looked in vain for any proposition as to the fund out of which the present distress of Ireland should be relieved. Her Majesty's Ministers were looking for hints, but none were offered. Now, his complaint was, that the Government had not themselves, without waiting for any hints, proposed, not this unjust and temporary plan, but one founded in justice, and calculated to make Ireland permanently free from the evils of destitution with which she was now afflicted. If such a plan had been proposed, it would have received his cordial support. He was prepared to support any just system of taxation that the Government might propose. When he spoke of just taxation, he, of course, alluded to a system of taxation which should press fairly on all classes, and not one which, like the present, would press with the greatest weight upon farmers, who were already overwhelmed with difficulties. He could very well understand that the hon. Member for Cork had not received any remonstrances from his constituents with regard to the support which he had given to this measure; but he could assure that hon. Gentleman that he (Mr. Herbert) had received the unanimous thanks of the farmers of the county (Kerry) he had the honour to represent, adopted at one of their meetings, for the few remarks which, on a previous occasion, he had deemed it his duty to make against this measure. He had no objection to a just system of income tax being imposed upon Ireland. He wished to say a few words with respect to the present area of taxation in Ireland. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had advocated an extensive area of taxation because he considered that a small area would induce landlords to clear their estates and get rid of the burden of contributing to the support of the poor on their estates. But experience had proved that a large area of taxation was the most fertile source of clearances: landlords now rid their estates of their poor tenants, because they knew that in a large union but a small fraction of the expense of maintaining the poor so ejected from their tenements would fall upon them. If there were a parish area of taxation, the misdeeds of each landlord would fall directly upon himself: he would be compelled himself to support the poor whom he had ejected. He could not avoid complaining of the administration of the poor-law in Ireland by the Commissioners: they had not attended to the suggestions which had been forwarded to them from every dis- 1340 trict in Ireland with regard to the proper carrying out of the poor-law. Referring to the violent language which had recently been uttered in several parts of Ireland against this rate in aid, the hon. Gentleman said that he utterly disapproved of such violence. There could, however, be no doubt that the feelings of those who had uttered such violent language in Ireland against this measure had been greatly exasperated; as far as his own conduct was concerned, he pledged himself to support the carrying out of this measure should it become the law of the land. The hon. Member for Roscommon had mistaken the expressions of Mr. Twisleton, the late Irish Poor Law Commissioner, in reference to this measure. The words used by Mr. Twistleton were such as he (Mr. Herbert) was not inclined to forget. Mr. Twisleton had drawn a clear and a most touching picture of the irritated feelings occasioned in several parts of Ireland by the introduction of this measure. Mr. Twisleton had said, in reference to the violent manner in which vent had been given to those feelings, that he thought it unworthy of a great country like England, in the present morbid state of feeling and misery in Ireland, to take umbrage at any irritating language which might escape her, and that the harsh language which she was now using towards England might be compared to the language of a sick individual who accused the friend who attended him of putting arsenic in his gruel, and other similar maltreatment. With reference to the discontent which existed on these subjects ill Ireland, he could assure the House that it was now general among all classes of the Irish public. Let him warn Her Majesty's Ministers not to persevere in the course which they had so long been content to adopt on this question. Let them not confide any further in the plea they had assigned for their inefficient management of this great question. Let them not seek to shroud that inefficiency under a denunciation of the disunion prevalent among the Irish landlords, nor seek in the short comings of the latter apologies for their own remissness. Let them come forward at once with some distinct and intelligible plan for the remedy of the grievances that were admitted on all hands to have arisen out of their legislation for Ireland. The pretexts made while they abstained from doing so were unworthy of any men who aspired to the name of statesmen. If it was, indeed, true that the disunions exist- 1341 ing among Irish landlords and various sections of society in Ireland enabled Her Majesty's Ministers to keep their places—at least, Her Majesty's Ministers could not prevent the future historian of their career from recording of them, that they neglected a noble opportunity, when it arose, for providing remedial measures calculated to remedy the miserable condition of Ireland. On the contrary, the future historian would record, that when such an opportunity did offer itself, they were unequal to the task of dealing with it. They had, indeed, brought forward one great measure—the introduction of a poor-law—as a measure of expediency, which they should have introduced into the Legislature as a matter of justice. He could only characterise it, in the words of an ancient authority, as an attempt "fraudere, rapere, falsis nominibus."
§ MR. P. SCROPE
said, he would not follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Roscommon and other hon. Members who had preceded him in the debate, through their attacks upon the Irish poor-law; but he was unwilling, from the deep interest he had always felt on every matter affecting the condition of the Irish people, and the study he had devoted for many years to such subjects, to allow the present discussion to pass without submitting a few remarks on the Motion before the House. In speaking to that matter, hon. Gentlemen had argued as if the new poor-law had been the cause of all the existing misery of Ireland. But what was her condition prior to 1847? You were going upon a system of outdoor relief, the recipients of which were a colossal army of 40,000 labourers and their families. After 1847 you continued outdoor relief to a vast extent, but you charged upon the property of Ireland the sums expended for that poor relief which had been previously defrayed out of the imperial revenues. He had heard this poor-law deprecated as an attack upon and spoliation of all property in Ireland; and one which was driving all its best tenantry out of the country. Why, how stood the case of the tenants? Previously to 1847 they had been compelled always to pay the greater part of their rents, whatever might be their money amount, in potatoes. When the potato crop had failed, they were still called upon to pay the same scale of rents which they had paid previously; a scale founded on the culture and the average crop of the potato. The same landlords, in many in- 1342 stances, were now attempting to extort the same amount of rents—perhaps exorbitant in the first instance—which they had been in the habit of receiving under the existence of that old potato system of culture which had now, for two or three years past, so signally failed. As for the rate which had been levied on the land for the relief of the poor, it was idle to attribute the sufferings of the tenantry to that, as one of their excessive burdens. He found that in Connaught, one of the worst districts as to prevailing distress in all Ireland, the average poor-rate for the year ending September 1848 had been but 2s. 7d. in the pound. Now, was it conceivable, was it possible, that a rate of this amount should have really operated to break the backs of these tenantry? Or was it not rather the 20s. in the pound still exacted for the rent? It was surely absurd to argue, when the country was actually labouring under a third visitation of the potato famine, that the rate of 2s. 7d. was a principal cause of its distress. Besides, there was proof at hand to show that the rate was in many instances not only cheerfully paid, but that the ratepayers were, themselves, in a condition of competency, or comfort. For example, he would instance the case of Mr. Bingham's property in the union of Ballina. It was to other causes that the House must look for the discontent which ensued on the passing of measures intended for the remedy of Irish distress; and he had himself no doubt that the most unfortunate circumstance connected with their legislation for that country was the degree of hurry in which it was passed. Every provision of this kind was sure to be made after a hurry-skurry fashion. The House usually waited till the eleventh hour, until the exigency for a remedial measure had become most urgent, and then the measure was introduced and expedited through Parliament under circumstances which left it no character of an act of self-sustaining or permanent legislation. He did think that the character of the remedies proper to be applied on a largo scale to the relief of Irish misery had been much misunderstood. He had himself, so long ago as 1846, foreseeing the probable failure of the potato crop, brought forward two propositions with such an object—the one a poor-law; the other, a plan for the employment of the ablebodied labourers, on a very large scale, on works the most essential to the substantial improvement of 1343 Ireland, and the extensive occupation of her unemployed peasantry in the cultivation of her waste, and the draining of her wet, lands. Unhappily, neither of these propositions was entertained. The passing of a poor-law was postponed until after the failure of the potato crop had occurred twice, and the necessity of an attempt to face the accumulated evils that had ensued could no longer be delayed. The consequence was, that this all-important measure was so precipitately carried through its various stages, that it had proved exceedingly defective and inadequate in many respects. One million of money was disbursed for the avowed purpose of outdoor relief among an enormous mass of applicants; but in such a manner, and under such a system, that it seemed to have been impossible to have determined who were deserving recipients of this money, and who were not. It was very certain that whilst this enormous fund was being distributed, and long after it had been all issued, masses of the wretched unemployed peasantry died off by scores, so that it was often found necessary to bury their bodies in large common graves, without shrouds, or even the ordinary rites of burial. After such accumulated distress as had followed upon no less than three years of potato famine, was it not most unreasonable to expect that any poor-law would, directly it had been enacted, operate to remove this misery so long as the Government and the Legislature persisted in withholding those auxiliary measures of relief which, by providing for the employment of ablebodied labourers on a great scale, could alone afford present relief to the sufferings of the people? The House would perceive from the reports and documents on this subject which had been already laid before them, that all the most intelligent guardians and commissioners concurred in this statement, "that the want of employment was the main evil of Ireland." The small farmers, who had formerly always managed to maintain themselves, had been totally evicted from their holdings by hundreds and by thousands. They could no longer earn the means of paying their rent. But what measure for providing employment had the Government introduced? Everybody knew who heard him that for two centuries and a half the authorities were bound by the law of the land to find labour for the employment of the ablebodied. The law of England might have been right or wrong in decreeing such a compulsory provision; 1344 but in either case it had been always open to Her Majesty's Government, since 1846, to bring forward some great measure of employment for the poor of Ireland. The universal destitution now experienced there from the want of such employment for them, was still unsatisfied. But why? Was there no field there for such general employment? On the contrary, it was universally admitted that the field for labour was inexhaustibly extensive there, and in few countries could it be more largely occupied to greater national benefit. There could be no doubt that the west of Ireland afforded a large field for employment; and there could be no greater fallacy than that Ireland was over-populated—that excuse having been made a century since, when Ireland was not one quarter so densely populated, and from the same cause—the abuse of the land. Colonel Hamilton told them that in Ballina there was quite sufficient land to employ the whole of the people of the district with proper management; and Captain Kennedy told them the same of Kilrush—that the improvement of the land and increased value of all property must follow on that employment being provided; and that in some localities there were actually not labourers enough at hand to take up all the works that were being carried out. The question, then, was—what shall be done? The argument in favour of the rate in aid was that the people would perish without it. That it was a matter of absolute necessity, and that therefore aid should be afforded in some shape or other. The objections which he entertained to a rate in aid were precisely the same as he had upon a former occasion urged—namely, that it was contrary to the principle of the poor-laws, the well-known principle that local destitution should be provided for by local responsibility. His opinion was, that the principle sought to be established by those who supported a rate in aid, had the opposite quality to that of mercy. It had the effect of injuring those who gave as well as those who received. It held out a premium to the mismanagement of land, and would materially injure those very districts which the rate in aid might relieve from responsibility. The consequences of such a mode of relief from responsibility would be that the landlords of Mayo and Galway will care very little about exerting themselves in the discharge of their duties as proprietors. And why should they, when they find they will be relieved from responsibility by a national fund raised ex- 1345 pressly for that purpose? He did not wish to use harsh expressions when speaking of the landlords of Ireland, but he found those very sentiments set forth in a newspaper—the Dublin Evening Mail—of the 7th of March, which has always had the reputation of being the special organ of the landlords of Ireland. That journal stated—That if once the rate in aid was collected, the Mayo and Galway squires would let the northerns pay their poor-rates for them, and lay out their lands in grass farms.But, then it may be said, money must be obtained to prevent starvation and the sacrifice of human life? How was it to be raised? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was coming on Friday to ask the House to vote 100,000l. upon the credit of the rate in aid, if that Bill be passed. It was well known the rate could not be collected this summer; the imperial resources must therefore be drawn upon, for money must be advanced for properly meeting the emergency. Now, if he was asked how he would raise the required money, his answer would be the same as on a former occasion. The mode he would suggest was reasonable and just: instead of taking loans upon the credit of the rate in aid, he would recommend that they should be taken upon the security of the land itself. Why should not the lands in the province of Connaught be made responsible for the relief of the pauperism upon them? If the necessary funds cannot be made available at present, a power should be taken for the sale of Irish estates, and the money necessary for the relief of Irish pauperism should be advanced upon their security. That could be done without inflicting injustice upon any one. It would be merely placing the saddle upon the right horse to make the owners of land in the western and southern districts responsible respectively for the destitution thereof. The landlords possess the power to levy every penny of their rents; they can seize the last cow, even the bed under their tenant who neglects to pay his rent; and why should not the estates of the landlard be liable to seizure as well as the chattel property of the poor tenant? Why should not the same law be for the poor as well as for the rich? It was very hard that the poor should be subjected to the most extreme severities, while the proprietors of land were exempted from liability altogether, at least so far as their lands were concerned. He maintained that the most 1346 just and equitable principle was to exact payment from the land where destitution and pauperism existed. Who ought to be responsible for the relief of the pauperism which existed in the west of Ireland, except those to whom the land belonged, and who had created it? The hon. Gentleman then read an extract from a report of Capt. Laing, a poor-law inspector, who died while engaged in the performance of his duties, at Bantry, in the county Cork, in confirmation of his views. The report attributed much of the pauperism which existed to the misconduct of landed proprietors, and to their pitiless exaction of the last farthing of their rents. If pauperism had been increased by those means, and if it was necessary that the people thus thrown upon the world by their landlords should be relieved from starvation, from whom was it most just and equitable that the means of relief should be exacted? Why, certainly, from the owners of the land. They had, by grossly neglecting their duties to their tenantry, caused the pauperism which existed, and they should now be held responsible for its relief. The fact was, some of the landlords of Ireland had found it a profitable system hitherto to manufacture pauperism; but they, and nobody else, should now be called upon to pay the penalty of their misdeeds. By adopting these suggestions, that the necessary advances should be made by the Government, and that their repayment should be secured by a power to sell the lands, they would be carrying out that principle which afforded the only gleam of hope for the improvement of the country—namely, changing the proprietary from a mere nominal one to a proprietary with capital and ability to cultivate the soil and improve the condition of the people. He disapproved of the rate in aid as calculated to retard this happy result. If the landlords were compelled to discharge their duties—if they were held responsible for the relief of pauperism which they had mainly occasioned, and their properties were to be answerable—the Government would be acting upon a right principle, and they would inevitably produce a new and a more useful proprietary than those now in Ireland, who were either unable or unwilling to employ the people. The hon. Gentleman concluded by calling upon the House to encourage, by every means in their power, the cultivation of the land in that country, and equalise the pressure of the poor-rates.
§ SIR J. WALSH
said, it did not appear that the hon. Member who had just sat down paid much attention to the advice of the hon. Member for Manchester, namely, that with a view to curtailing the length of the debates, they should refrain from repeating their own arguments. He (Sir J. Walsh) would not, therefore, follow the hon. Gentleman through that peculiar theory upon which he had so often expatiated—a theory which he thought was a very great mistake, namely, that of the Government becoming the great employer of labour in the destitute districts. Nothing appeared to him more fallacious or more inconsistent than the argument which had been urged, that the present system of outdoor relief was only a substitute for that which was adopted in 1847. That was a temporary remedy for a great evil, and was unfortunately attended with the most disastrous results; it was the fons et origo mali. Then the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken found an easy remedy in the confiscation of the land, and said that the landlords should sacrifice all their rents. He (Sir J. Walsh) believed that that expedient had been fully tried, and that in the distressed parts of Connaught for the last two years the landlords had received no rent whatever. But it had never been attempted to meet the arguments of those who opposed this measure, although they had shown that it would be inadequate for the purpose for which it was intended. The Government had delayed so long the passing of this Bill, that an opinion prevailed that they were less confident of the efficacy and sufficiency of their measure at the present moment, than when they first introduced it into the House. The progress of the evidence given before the Committee upstairs had certainly been unfavourable to the Bill. The potato failure had not been uniform or universal in the different counties in England; but it had fallen upon the whole of Ireland alike, and every parish and every union in that country had had to struggle against the infliction which had fallen upon the staple product of the country. This was one reason why a rate in aid for the relief of the distressed districts in Ireland should not be levied exclusively upon property in that country. Another objection which he felt to this measure was, that it continued to be brought forward in an incomplete state. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had stated that the present Bill was only part of a plan which he was prepared 1348 to recommend to the House; but no step had yet been taken to bring this plan forward. The noble Lord had spoken of emigration in a somewhat slighting way, as a remedy inadequate and inapplicable to the wants of Ireland, nor had anything been done in that respect.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that by a proviso in the Bill, a certain portion of the fund would be applicable for that purpose.
§ SIR J. WALSH
was glad it had not been overlooked. He much distrusted the plan that had been sketched out by the right hon. the Member for Tamworth; he had no faith in what were called "great and comprehensive measures;" in many cases, as the Reform Bill, and the repeal of the corn laws, they had turned out failures; and the right hon. Baronet would better have consulted his reputation if he had adhered to the principle he acted on on a former occasion, of not giving his advice until he was regularly called in. If the plantation project of the right hon. Baronet were in part a plan for buying and partly cultivating the lands to which he referred, it would be attended with as complete a failure as similar attempts had met in Williamstown, and elsewhere. If also it contemplated a system of forced sales, it would be a serious infraction of the rights of property. The great objection to the plan of the right hon. Baronet was, that it did not get rid of the difficulty that existed in Ireland, which was to find purchasers for estates. It was a prevalent mistake to suppose that the state of the distressed districts of Ireland was caused by the bankrupt and insolvent condition of the landed proprietors of Ireland. But if they could transfer the landed property to persons with capital, who were entirely unencumbered and free from debt, they could not discharge their duties if the existing mass of pauperism remained, because they must not only provide proprietors who possessed capital, but proprietors who were willing to employ their capital without the hope of any productive return. A far more pressing evil than the insolvent condition of the landlords was the bankrupt state of the occupiers of the country, and the paralysis which the present state of things had induced in the industrial energy of the people. The noble Lord at the head of the Govern-had had announced that it was his intention, when they got into Committee, to move for an advance of 100,000l. on account of this rate. Now, there were cer- 1349 tain stages provided by the constitution upon such a vote, and if the Government pledged the House on the faith of that which was not the law, and which might not be the law, they would pledge the country prematurely, and run it into debt, in fact, before they had got their security. It was possible that either there, or elsewhere, the measure now before the House might not become the law; and what an unsatisfactory state of things would that not be, when the Government had pledged and mortgaged the revenues of the country on the faith of a measure which, as he had said, might never become the law? Such a resolution was unconstitutional in itself, and ought to be resisted by all those whose duty it was to guard the public interests.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that as he had fully expressed the opinions he entertained on this subject on a former occasion, it would be necessary for him to say but a very few words in the present instance. He was anxious, however, shortly to advert to one or two of the objections against this measure which had been advanced that evening by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin, in moving the Amendment of which he had given notice. He believed that, when this question was last before the House, there were two points which were then admitted to have been established: the one being that there was distress in some parts of Ireland, for the relief of which extraneous assistance was required; the other, that that extraneous assistance must come, not from the imperial resources, but from Ireland herself. Now, as to the first proposition, no one in the course of the present debate had attempted to dispute it. One hon. Gentleman, indeed, said that the rate in aid would be wholly inadequate to the distress to be relieved, and that this distress was so urgent as to require immediate relief, and so extensive that it was incapable of being removed by any resources which it was the object of the present Bill to provide. One of the hon. representatives of Tyrone had told the House that if extraneous assistance were not given, thousands would die of starvation. He might then safely assume that the distress required extraneous assistance; but the second proposition, that this assistance ought to come from Ireland herself, had not been so generally admitted to-night as on the last occasion. The question had on the previous debate been fairly raised between the income tax and the rate in aid but to-night they had not heard 1350 from Irish Members any tender of the income tax. The whole of the argument which he had heard on this subject had cither gone to the withdrawal of all relief from the distressed unions, or else to the drawing indefinitely from the Imperial Exchequer for the relief of the distress. Some of the arguments he had heard to-night against the rate in aid would equally militate against any grant from the imperial resources. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin first stated his objection to this Bill on the ground of the injustice involved in the principle that districts in Ireland should be taxed for the relief of poverty with which they had nothing to do; but surely the same objection would be equally valid against grants of money made by the Imperial Parliament for the relief of local distress in Ireland, as against this rate in aid. If it was a manifest injustice that Ulster should contribute to the relief of poverty not arising in Ulster, how would the hon. and learned Gentleman contend that the imperial resources should be applied to the relief of that poverty? This case had been argued as if it was the first instance in which assistance had been looked for from districts beyond those in which distress existed; but this was no new system, for they had been for a long time giving assistance to these distressed unions in Ireland—assistance to meet distress which had arisen from the peculiar circumstances in which Ireland had latterly found herself. He must remind the hon. and learned Gentleman too of what he (Sir G. Grey) had stated on a former occasion, that, looking at the money raised in this country, in aid of the poverty that prevailed in parts of Ireland, it appeared that a limited number of parishes in this country had paid in one year as much as 77,000l. towards the relief of that Irish distress; whilst, since the period when he last referred to this subject, nearly 5,000 paupers had found their way from Ireland to Liverpool, and were now spread over this country in consequence of which the poor-rates had considerably increased in many places. Indeed, he had received earnest remonstrances from Scotland on this subject; and England and Scotland were now actually paying a rate in aid for the relief of Irish paupers in this country, greater in many parishes than that which was required under this Bill for the relief of the distress in Ireland. One hon. Gentleman had stated 1351 that the present Bill would only aggravate the evils under which Ireland was suffering. He inferred that the hon. Member intended that the imperial resources should not be drawn upon, but that the people should be left to their fate. The hon. Gentleman shook his head, and disclaimed such an. inference; but what else could be inferred, when the hon. Gentleman talked of leaving the people to themselves, and the necessity of not weakening the habit of self-dependence? If the Government were invading the principle of self-dependence, he (Sir G. Grey) did not see how they were doing this in a greater degree by means of this sixpenny rate charged on the rest of Ireland, than if they had proposed to draw the same amount from the imperial resources. The charge of injuring the principle of self-dependence would indeed appear to attach much more to the latter mode of relieving the distress, because the expectation of parties in Ireland was excited of indefinite grants from the Imperial Exchequer. Indeed, the expectation of grants from the imperial resources, and that to an indefinite amount, would be far more fatal to the principle of self-dependence than this rate in aid could be. This measure would, at all events, hold out no prospects of relief to an indefinite extent; the precise amount it proposed was a 6d. rate for two years. The poor-rate in Ulster was as nearly as possible identical in amount with that of England—it was 1s. 9d. in the pound there last year; and, owing to the increase that had taken place, it had risen to full that amount in England also, so that they were both upon an equal footing in the amount of poor-rate. The hon. and learned Gentleman said this rate in aid would be inadequate. Now, if he thought the 500,000l. or 600,000l. that might be collected in two years under this Bill would be inadequate, that surely was no reason why he should reject the Bill altogether, and not show any other mode of making up the deficiency, although it might be a reason why he should propose to increase the rate from 6d. to 1s. The hon. and learned Gentleman said this tax would act as a penalty upon the prudent and well-managed districts. Now, in England the same principle was applicable; and if it had not been applied in this country to the same extent as it was now proposed to apply it to Ireland, the reason was, because the same circumstances had never yet called for it in England. But, as the law in England 1352 now stood, any parish in all Yorkshire was liable for the distress of a parish in any other part of the county, before a single shilling could be taken from the Imperial Exchequer; and the believed that the English people would sooner have recourse, if such a thing ever became necessary in this country, to that which would merely be the extension of a principle already sanctioned by law, than ask for imperial grants from Parliament. If they were to propose a rate in aid for Ireland, strictly analogous to the English rate in aid, it would be utterly inadequate for the exigency; and, therefore, they proposed to extend over the whole island a rate in aid before they came upon the Imperial Exchequer. As to the objection made to this rate, on principle, if hon. Gentlemen belonging to Ireland would prefer an income tax in its stead, perhaps the Government would have no objection to offer them one; but the machinery for raising an income tax, without loss of time, did not exist, and how were the people to be preserved from starving in the meantime? The hon. Gentleman said, "Let them have a Committee to inquire whether Ireland now bears its fair proportion of the imperial taxes or not." But how long was the Committee to sit, for if they decided at a remote period that more taxes ought to be imposed upon Ireland, how could that mitigate the pressing distress at the present moment? The hon. and learned Gentleman ought to tell the House what immediate means he would have it adopt to relieve the distress which he admitted to be so urgent. The speeches delivered during the present debate suggested no substitute for the proposed rate, but consisted wholly of an argument against any charge whatever being imposed upon Ireland; and then, when controversy arose upon the fiscal condition of Ireland, and comparisons were instituted in that respect between England and Ireland, and that a Committee was spoken of to inquire into their relative position, fiscally considered, the hon. and learned Gentleman said, he did not want a Committee of Inquiry—that he did not want any information on the subject, though others might, for he said he know perfectly well that Ireland discharged her full share of the fiscal burdens of the united kingdom; and, acting upon that conviction, he so shaped his Motion as that it should lead the House into expressing an opinion that relief should be granted out of the Imperial Exchequer, and not paid by 1353 the people of Ireland. [Mr. G. A. HAMILTON observed, that he had not given any opinion of his own. What he had said was, we in Ireland think we pay quite enough.] The hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends might think they paid enough, but what was to be done in the meantime? The grant of 50,000l. already voted would not suffice to meet the emergency; and again he would ask, how was the difficulty to be obviated? The hon. Member for Northamptonshire, who spoke on a former evening, objected to the measure; and at the same time said, that he, as an Irish proprietor, contemplated the possibility of English and Irish taxes being equalised; and then, no doubt, there would be something like a principle of equity in calling upon England to contribute to a rate in aid. Ireland might then fairly expect extraneous assistance, and hope to be replenished from the Imperial Exchequer. But, though all might acknowledge this, there still remained points of disagreement, and hence the demand for a fiscal Committee, to see if Ireland did really bear an equal share of taxation. Still he must recur to the original difficulty. In what manner were they to be relieved? Much that had been said on this subject was founded upon great misapprehension. The hon. Baronet the Member for Radnorshire said, that the Government proposed to run in debt to the extent of 100,000l. without knowing whether or not Parliament would sanction the advance. Now, for the purpose of removing all misapprehension upon this point, he should just state what his noble Friend at the head of the Government had proposed to do—his intention was, after the second reading of the present measure, and before going into a Committee on it, to propose in a Committee of the whole House a vote of money to be granted on the security of the rate in aid. But at the same time it was not intended to advance this 100,000l. unless the Bill should pass both Houses, and provision for that purpose was to be made thus: After the Committee of the whole House should have agreed to the money vote, a clause would be introduced into the Bill, creating the security under which the money was to be granted, and in that way the grant would stand or fall equally with the Bill; there would, therefore, be no advance upon an uncertain grant. There was one objection to the Bill to which he would shortly advert—it was described as a solitary measure, as a temporary expedient, and inquiries were made as to whe- 1354 ther the Government intended to introduce any alteration of the poor-law. It was well known that such a proposition was under the consideration of the Committee, which had been taking evidence on the subject; and the introduction of a Bill had been postponed till the inquiries of that Committee had taken place. They had been charged upon the present occasion with shrinking behind the want of unanimity which prevailed amongst their opponents. He did not hesitate to say, that there was no justice in that charge. The Government had laid before the House a distinct proposition; and if discord prevailed amongst their opponents, the Government could not be blamed for that. The hon. Member for Stroud told them thas they ought to stimulate employment: that involved a question somewhat too extensive for him to enter into on the present occasion; but thus much he would venture to say, that the Government had no intention of stimulating employment, according to the views of that hon. Member, by directly giving work themselves, but they hoped to stimulate employment by means of amendments of the poor-law; they had also sought to stimulate employment by assisting proprietors of land in the improvement of their estates, by promoting arterial drainage, by advances for harbours and railways. Those modes of stimulating employment they considered to be the most legitimate, effectual, and beneficial. Upon these grounds, then, he hoped that the House would not reject the Bill then before them without the substitution of some definite plan of relief. The plan which the Bill contained had already been affirmed by a large majority, and the 100,000l. proposed to be granted under the security of the intended rate would be available for the relief of the poor in Ireland as soon as the 50,000l. already granted should have been exhausted.
§ MR. STAFFORD
observed that the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had certainly said everything that could be urged, not in favour of the proposition before the House, but against the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin. He must remind the House, however, that something more was required on the present occasion than a criticism, however ingenious, of any speech, or any two or three speeches, and therefore it was with very great disappointment that he had listened to the right hon. Gentleman. When the right hon. Gentleman rose, the Government were in 1355 the unparalleled position that, with the exception of one Member, no person on either side of the House rose to defend the Bill, which had been now under discussion from 6 to 11 o'clock. The right hon. Gentleman talked about the income tax. But did he not recollect that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Longford proposed the extension of the income tax to Ireland in place of the rate in aid? The hon. Member for Cork opposed that proposition, because he preferred the interests of his constituents—the butter buyers—to the interests of the frieze coats who brought the butter to them. He could not permit the Government to avail themselves altogether of the hon. Gentleman's speech; for three-fourths of it consisted of an eulogy of the somewhat obscure and cloudy scheme propounded by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman that that scheme had taken hold of the imaginations of the Irish people. A highly imaginative scheme might, in the case of a highly imaginative people, be expected to produce that result. Proposed as that scheme was by a right hon. Gentleman of so much talent and experience, and calculated to alleviate, if not to remove, the distress of the Irish people, it had received a considerable share of attention on the other side of the Channel; and he must say, that it was due to the propounder of it, that before the discussion closed, the Government should state distinctly whether or not they had any intention of carrying into effect any of its suggestions. [A laugh.] He knew not at what the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department laughed. There were temperaments and dispositions to which anything was food for mirth; but he begged to assure the right hon. Gentleman that the scheme was contemplated by no mirthful feelings by those who felt that there was very little to hope for, and very much to dread; and he must say that so far as remedial measures for Ireland were concerned, they might well be disposed to turn to other sources than the Government in this great emergency. Perhaps before the right hon. Gentleman laughed at those to whom he alluded for entertaining and contemplating the scheme in question—
§ SIR G. GREY
said he smiled because the hon. Gentleman considered it the duty of the Government to express an opinion on every plan which might be proposed by an hon. Member of that House. He should 1356 have imagined that such a sentiment could not come from a Member of the hon. Gentleman's experience.
§ MR. STAFFORD
said, it had come from a Gentleman of his experience. He maintained that gratitude was due to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth for suggesting such a scheme, amid the utter barrenness of the Government; and it was not becoming in the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department to laugh at him. Whether they were or were not disposed to act on the plan, the Government were bound at all events, considering the disturbed state of Ireland, to set all unreasonable hopes at rest; and without reference to that plan they should state before the discussion closed whether during the present Session they meant to enter on the subject of the sale of lands. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland whether such a subject should be passed by? The right hon. Gentleman, in his acute attack upon his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin, had forgotten the main question before the House. He (Mr. Stafford) wanted to know, from the propounders of this rate in aid, what amount of destitution, in the first place, they expected to be called on to relieve; and, next, what amount of money would be raised by a sixpenny rate. He apprehended that hon. Members opposite would not feel satisfied that the Government had made out their case unless they answered these two questions. He wanted to know why the sum of 100,000l. was fixed upon, or why a sixpenny rate was specified? He knew that the feeling in Ireland would express itself somewhat in this way—"Well, we have got 100,000l., at all events, and as for payment, let the Government look out for that." After all these professions, therefore, of making Ireland self-supporting—after all their gyrations and wanderings—they came back to their old friend the Consolidated Fund. Her Majesty's Government had arrived at such a pitch of statesmanship that they had been enabled to strike a rate; but he had already ventured to tell the Government that it was one thing to strike a rate, and another to collect it. Out of l,600,000l. which was the amount of the rates struck for the whole of Ireland, no less than 800,000l. was uncollected last November. If, therefore, it were found that this sixpenny rate would not raise the sum which was expected, the Government would dis- 1357 cover that they had ruined some unions, without benefiting others, and that the amount of misery and the absence of self-dependence was greater than before. It would then be the turn of those who had endeavoured to discharge an unpopular duty to ask whether they are not really the friends of the poor, and the benefactors of Ireland? He knew that the Government were able, as their legislation was conducted, to ruin the province of Munster; but when they had made Munster like Connaught they would have done nothing for Ireland, except in causing two deaths to take place instead of one. He saw a fatal tendency in that House to shrink from the question of Ireland altogether, and a disposition to consider the evils of that country of so irremediable a character as to leave them to be dealt with by the party in power. But the question could not be evaded. The northern counties of this country were now in such a state as to render the burden of pauperism from Irish immigration no longer endurable. In the unpublished evidence taken before the Poor Law Committee, he defied any man to put his finger upon a single sentence which could be tortured into the expression even of a ray of hope for the fate of Ireland. Not a word had been advanced, either by the Government or by any Member of that House, to show how this rate could be confined to sixpence, or how the operation of the rate could be confined to two years. He denied that this sixpenny rate in aid could ever be collected. He was aware that the Government had a majority in that House, and that they were supported, not because it was thought that they were doing right, but because it was thought better to throw the responsibility of these measures for Ireland upon the Executive. In all his experience, he had never known a greater responsibility to rest upon a Government; and he did not envy the Government their responsibility with respect to Ireland, because he did not think they had grappled with this subject, but had resorted to the old plan of balancing one Irish Member against another—a miserable subterfuge, unworthy of a Government, and of the crisis of this great debate. In Limerick, where the cholera had broken out, the sum which had been collected on behalf of the sufferers had pressed heavily on the ratepayers; and for the Government, at this crisis, to attempt to levy this rate of 5,000l. from Limerick, would only have the effect of 1358 beggaring that union, and making bankrupt several of the electoral divisions. But whatever might be collected, there would only be a drop in the ocean of Connaught misery. Therefore, it was not a question between the Protestants in the north and those in the south; it was a question of mismanaged unions. The effect of the proposal to pay half the sum on account, until the whole rate was collected, would have the effect of drawing the largest sums soonest from the poorest unions. But this was not his main objection to the measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had again referred to the question of the income tax for Ireland, and had done him (Mr. Stafford) the honour to allude to his opposition to the 50,000l. grant. On that occasion he had contended that Ireland had never had the option of choosing an income tax. Without waiting to take evidence, the noble Lord at the head of the Government stepped down to the Committee, and proposed this sixpenny rate in aid. But since the event of the minority in the Committee, there had been a division in that House, and the majority which supported him in the former had failed him in the latter. Seventeen in the Committee had dwindled to eleven minority in the House. The House had expressed wonder that the noble Lord should insist upon taking the sixpenny rate before he collected evidence; but the wisdom of the noble Lord was now apparent. Had the noble Lord abided the testimony of his own official witness, it might be doubted whether he would have got his sixpenny rate in aid. He ventured to ask the noble Lord whether he meant to say that no plan for the amelioration of Ireland was to be brought forward until the Committee had expressed an opinion? He asked him whether there were any plans either in existence, or in the bosom of the noble Lord, which would be introduced without being sent up to a Committee-room in that stately place which hon. Members expected shortly to inhabit? The hon. Member for Montrose might shake his head, but he would assure him that if the inquiries with respect to Ireland were not prosecuted at a little quicker pace, the new Houses of Parliament would be completed before the Irish Poor Laws Committee reported. When the hon. and gallant Member for Longford proposed his Amendment, it was not supposed that those who supported him pledged themselves to the details of his plan; that support would 1359 merely determine which of two plans should be adopted—whether a rate should be laid upon that property which was most heavily taxed at present, and which had been severely tried during the famine, or whether the country at large should be called upon for the subscription. Connaught, through her representatives, had declined the proposition of the noble Lord by a majority of three to one. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had said, that the Government would give Ireland the income tax if she would like to take it; and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland, in the languid speech he had addressed to the House, had said, that if the Government had proposed an income tax for Ireland, there would have been equal clamour against it as there was against this rate in aid. He (Mr. Stafford) did not think that on this subject one part of Ireland was arrayed against the other; but he believed that neither upon the part of Her Majesty's Government, nor upon the part of that House, was there an adequate sense entertained of the difficulties with which the landed proprietors in Ireland had to contend, or of the trials which awaited that country, and through that country our own. Connaught had been famous for its miseries, Munster for its crimes; but, although famine might in silence decimate Connaught, let the House beware how famine was permitted to invade the adjoining country. It was because he saw troubles looming in the distance—it was because he believed that time yet remained for us to retrace our steps—that he called upon the Government and the House seriously to consider the state of Ireland. The Opposition, as well as the Government, could have but one object in view, as the matter was of far too great importance to be regarded merely as a party question. It was not too late for them to retrace their steps and withdraw this mistaken and hopeless measure; for, whatever they might do with regard to Ireland, they would be liable to attack, and whatever measure they might propose would be rejected by some; but he would ask the Government, as statesmen and honest men, whether they could reconcile it to their minds to impose this heavy tax on the most destitute class in the country? He would ask them, as practical men, to examine and see whether they could expect a successful result. As they were determined to raise 100,000l. in the shape of a loan 1360 from the Treasury, why not make this amount chargeable on an income tax, or some other source of revenue? He did not mean to say that by such means they would silence all complaints, but they would have the satisfaction of knowing that they had attempted to do justice, and had listened to the reasonable demands of those who had urged upon them the injustice of the proposed tax.
MR. M. J. O'CONNELL
hoped the House would allow him to occupy a few minutes of their time at that early period of the debate. He said this because he knew that many other hon. Gentlemen wished to offer some observations on that most important question. He feared that Her Majesty's Government had, in the general opposition raised to this plan, overlooked the different nature of the suggestions made. The objections might be divided into two very distinct classes. The first class had been most ably put by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, who had pointed out the grievous injustice of laying a burden on those who were so heavily taxed already. On that principle he (Mr. M. J. O'Connell) had, on a previous occasion, voted for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Longford. There was another objection, in the justice of which he did not concur. This objection had been made at several meetings in the north of Ireland by a number of speakers, who complained that one part of Ireland should be called upon to contribute to the maintenance of the destitute in another part of Ireland, when the Imperial Exchequer was not called upon to afford aid. But, feeling what was the state of distress in the part of the country where destitution had so extensively prevailed, he had voted, in the latter division, in favour of the Motion, as no other proposition had been made to the House. With every sense of the partial and oppressive nature of this measure, he was willing to vote for it rather than lose all chance of relief for the destitute unions. He would venture to suggest to Her Majesty's Government that it was not too late to do something to relieve some portions of Connaught and Munster. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire, who was a Munster man, had not alluded to the distress in the latter province; but he could assure the House that it prevailed to an alarming extent in that part of the country. It appeared to him (Mr. M. J. O'Connell) that some of the sug- 1361 gestions which were thrown out in the late debate might be taken into consideration by Her Majesty's Government, with great advantage to Ireland, and would add to their own characters as public men. He admitted fully the advantages of getting in taxation without resorting to new machinery in its collection. But he put it to Her Majesty's Government whether, merely for the employment of existing means, the whole burden of the charge should be thrown on particular classes. He hoped some Member of Her Majesty's Government would listen to a suggestion which he was about to make. His notion was, that, while they availed themselves of the machinery of the poor-law to levy a charge on the property of Ireland, they might do so in a way so as to get rid of many of the objections to the present measure. He would not, at that hour, ask the House to listen to any details on the subject, but would merely glance at the outline of what he proposed. If they allowed the tenants—and here he might be allowed to express the satisfaction with which he had listened to the able speech of his hon. Colleague on this part of the subject—when they paid the sixpenny rate additional, to deduct the whole amount from the rent paid to the landlord; he did not say the whole amount of the rate, but the sum actually paid, might be deducted from the rent. They then should allow the landlord to deduct, in a due proportion, from the incumbrances on his estate, whether in the shape of mortgages or charges arising in other ways. The same machinery which was now employed for collecting the poor-rate would be amply sufficient, and they would not have to create any new officers or an additional staff, and they would, at the same time, throw the burden on a class the best able to bear it, and for whom, in justice, there should be no relief from this exceptional tax. His hon. Friend the Member for the city of Dublin had given notice of his intention to propose in Committee to have a charge made for this purpose on the public funds payable in Ireland. He should be glad to see some proposition of this kind adopted. There was another suggestion also which had been made, and to which he was not unfavourable—namely, a charge on all public salaries of officers who received more than 300l. a year in Ireland. He had ventured, in this short and hasty way, to throw these suggestions before Her Majesty's Government for their considera- 1362 tion. He believed, in point of form, before they could be adopted, they must obtain the sanction of other Committees; but it would be time enough for the Government to consider them before the present Bill went through Committee. All that he was anxious for was that the destitution of the people should be relieved in the best possible manner. With respect to the income tax, it had been suggested that great difficulties applied peculiarly to that part of it which imposed a charge on professional incomes and the profits of trade. Without going into the question, he might observe that it might be advisable that as long as a rate in aid was necessary, that these classes of incomes should be excepted from the tax. He had seen a number of speeches made, out of doors, against all rates in aid; but he entreated Her Majesty's Government, and the English and Scotch Members, not to allow themselves to be excited by the violent language used on these occasions. All the Members of that House must be aware that when a popular movement was excited, that some fictitious grievances were sure to be mixed up with the real grievance, and it was most difficult to separate them.
§ MR. NAPIER moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ SIR G. GREY
did not rise to oppose the adjournment, because he understood there were several Gentlemen still anxious to address the House; but he thought it right again to protest against the unfair construction which the hon. Member for Northamptonshire had put upon a gesture which escaped him while the hon. Gentleman was speaking. He (Sir G. Grey) should endeavour to be more careful in future, and to avoid smiling at anything the hon. Gentleman might say. He would not have noticed the matter again, had not the hon. Gentleman repeated the unfair construction after he had disclaimed it. He assured the House that nothing could be further from his intention than to ridicule or treat with the slightest degree of levity the distress in Ireland, which he deeply deplored, and to the alleviation of which he should be glad in any way to contribute. And, with regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tam-worth, he admitted at once that any proposition coming from him was entitled to respect and attention; but he could not help smiling at the proposition of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton, that it was the imperative duty of the Go- 1363 vernment at once to take up that proposition, and submit a measure founded upon it in the present Session.
§ MR. STAFFORD
observed that he had never said, and had never meant to say, that the right hon. Gentleman had laughed at the calamities and woes of Ireland, for he knew, from the public and private conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, that he was the last man to do so. He had said that he was surprised that it should be a matter of laughter, when he had asked the Government whether they intended to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. When that and other suggestions of a similar kind had occupied the public mind in Ireland, it was desirable for Her Majesty's Government to say whether they had any measures of their own in contemplation, or whether they were going to act upon any of these suggestions.
§ Debate adjourned till Wednesday.