HC Deb 11 February 1852 vol 119 cc416-8

moved for a return of all Works, the execution of which were undertaken by the Board of Works, on the authority of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, under the Act 9 & 10 Vict., c. 107, and of the certificates given, according to the 8th section of the said Act, to the Secretaries of Grand Juries in Ireland, of the execution of such Works. He had another Motion on the paper for a return of the amounts claimed from each electoral division on account of sums asserted to be due for the repayment of advances; but as the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised to give it, he would abstain from now moving for it.


seconded the Motion. What the Irish Members required was a clear bill of particulars with regard to the money advanced during the late famine. They had been charged with repudiation, and with acting an ungrateful part to the Parliament and people of Great Britain; but they only wanted to make it clear what Ireland had actually received. If it should be found that a great deal of the money debited to the people of that country had never been received by them, and that they had never been benefited by it, it was necessary to know where it had gone to. If by neglect or design there should appear to have been some confusion of accounts or some juggle, nothing was more natural than that the Irish Members should wish to show that the deceit or juggle had been none of theirs. He did not know more than one or two Unions that went the length of repudiating these debts altogether. But nothing was more monstrous and unfortunate than the manner in which the money was laid out, and this was done in spite of the remonstrances of every man connected with Ireland. It was, in fact, robbing the people of England without benefiting the people of Ireland. What the Irish Members said, therefore, was, "Don't saddle us with the responsibility of that expenditure now."


regretted that the hon. Gentleman had not called for returns of the works commenced under the Act passed by Sir Robert Peel's Administration, the 9 & 10 Vict., c. 1, which renewed the 1 & 2 Vict., c. 21.


said, the mistake arose from calling these "works." They were not works at all; it was a mere clumsy machinery for distributing money among a starving population, which money the people of Ireland were now called upon to repay. The House was no doubt under the impression that value had been given for this money. Some lives were no doubt preserved during the famine; but let the House consider on whom the responsibility of saving those lives fell. The Government wished to throw the responsibility of repaying this money upon the gentry and landed proprietary, who did their utmost during the famine, and whose estates at the time of the famine were taxed as high as they could possibly bear. What further responsibility remained belonged to Parliament and to the Government. The landed proprietors of Ireland might be responsible in terms, but he did not think they were morally responsible for one farthing of this debt.


knew of a case in Armagh which showed the necessity and importance of these returns being made. The Irish Members had a right to see the particulars of these works, that they might know what works were executed by the Board of Works, and what sums were expended without finishing the works at all for which they were advanced.

Returns ordered.

The House adjourned at a quarter after Five o'clock.