§ Order for consideration of Bill, as amended, read.
Amendment proposed, page 4, line 22, after the word "Annuity," to insert the words—
Provided always, that at the time such an-
nuity shall be fixed, it shall not exceed sixpence in the pound on the net annual value then existing of the rateable hereditaments of any town-land or other denomination, unless by such limitation the debt would not be paid off in forty years.
§ He complained that the Government had acted with great harshness in the enforcement of repayments, paying no sort of regard to the distressed condition of the country.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
appealed to the House whether the conduct of the Government towards Ireland for the last three or four years ought to be characterised by harshness. The limitation upon repayments which had been imposed by the Treasury, had been, on the contrary, marked by the utmost consideration to the distresses of the unions; for whereas, under the Act, the Government was authorised, and indeed called upon, to require repayment in two sums, the Treasury had limited these repayments to 3s. in the pound of the rates collected. He trusted the House would not interfere with the discretion which the Government had exercised with so much moderation. There were parts of Ireland quite as well off as any parts of England, yet the rates were paid here without grumbling.
SIR R. FERGUSON
said, that out of 25,000l. raised in rates in Leitrim, 13,000l. was claimed by the Government, and yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer was astonished that the hon. Member should complain. He did not think that, whether or no they agreed to this proviso, they were likely to get more than 6d. in the pound.
§ MR. TRELAWNY
thought that some hon. Gentlemen seemed disposed to repudiate these advances; and the hon. Member for Leitrim had said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to ask for the repayment of more than 6d. in the pound at a time, because he was not likely to get more. If, as they had been told, Irish Members did not regard these advances as a boon, he was quite prepared to reject the Bill.
§ MR. STAFFORD
observed, that the question whether the Bill was a boon to Ireland or not, stood, as he apprehended, upon this ground—Providence had afflicted that country with so severe a visitation that some of our fellow-subjects were in danger of starvation. The Government, under these circumstances, came forward, and with the consent of Parliament made an advance of money to relieve the distress of Ireland; but how far that measure 1137 was to be considered an act of kindness to Ireland depended mainly upon the value that hon. Gentlemen might attach to their fellow-countrymen. For his own part, he denied that any effort to save the life of a fellow-creature could be regarded as a boon. Some surprise had been expressed that English capital should not be applied to develop the resources of Ireland; but what capitalist would invest money in that country when he found, that after the liabilities of landowners had been, as was supposed, finally settled. Parliament passed now measures increasing those liabilities? He regarded the third clause, to which the hon. Member for Leitrim had proposed to add the proviso, as involving a gross violation of the principle of local self-government; and he was satisfied that no Government had ever asked for such enormous powers as would be conferred upon the Treasury by that clause. He thought the clause most objectionable; and, although he knew its opponents would be defeated on this occasion, he hoped those hon. Gentlemen who might vote in its favour would, in justice to their own constituents and to their Irish fellow-subjects, previously to the bringing up of the report, consider the powers which it proposed to confer upon the Government.
§ MR. F. FRENCH
said, it had been stated that there were some districts in Ireland which were as well off as any parts of this country; but it could not be contended that those portions of Ireland to which the Bill would apply were in such a favourable position. He thought it most objectionable to give to the Government the large discretionary powers which this clause would confer upon them, and he would therefore support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Leitrim.
§ MR. CONOLLY
considered, that it would be manifestly unjust to press the people of Ireland for an amount which had been expended to relieve them from famine while they were still suffering from that painful visitation of Providence; and if it was expected that the Exchequer should be fully reimbursed for money that had been advanced, it was manifestly absurd to demand it at this moment, when the Irish people were utterly unable to pay it. He hoped the Government would consider the expediency of extending the time for repaying the advances over a greater number of years.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."1138
§ The House divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 128: Majority 37.
§ Bill to be read 3° on Monday next.