HC Deb 06 March 1854 vol 131 cc443-8

Order for Committee read; House in Committee.

Clause 1 (Repeal of Acts).


said, he objected to the Bill, on the ground that it would unnecessarily extend county burdens to the towns of Ireland, and he should move that the clause be omitted.


said, that two years ago a Valuation Act was passed, the object of which was to establish an uniform valuation of all tenements throughout Ireland, upon a fixed basis, for the purpose of all taxation. That Act exempted from the valuation houses under the value of 5l., and the consequence was that 15,000 proprietors of houses, who had not been exempted before, obtained exemption, and 3,000l. of the valuation was thrown upon the proprietors of the higher class of houses. The object of this clause was to abolish that exemption, which led persons to speculate in the building of small cottages, for which, in consequence of the exemption, the landlords got a higher rent than they could otherwise obtain. The object of this Bill was to establish an uniform valuation for all the taxes, and he hoped the clause would re- ceive the assent of the Committee. He had no objection, however, to refer to the Committee appointed to consider the subject of the Grand Jury Laws the question whether the exemptions from grand jury cess should continue or not.


said, it was of great importance to encourage the building of houses in Ireland, and, as he believed this Bill would have a contrary effect, he should offer it all the opposition in his power.


said, he objected to the clause, on the ground that it was unjust to impose a tax upon occupants of the lowest class of houses in the towns, who were now exempted from the poor rate, and who, he thought, should also be exempted from the county cess. He hoped the Government would reconsider the question, and would either omit this clause altogether, or require that the county cess, in the case of houses under the value of 5l., should be paid by the landlords by whom the poor rate was now paid.


said, that the effect of the first clause of the present Bill was to remove an exemption, which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had no objection to refer to a Committee; and if they pronounced an opinion hostile to the clause, then he would have to introduce some measure to get rid of that which he was to-night seeking to have enacted. He would therefore suggest that when the result of the Bill was matter of doubt, and when the Government had not made up their minds on the subject, it would be a satire on legislation to pass the Bill, under such circumstances, in its present form.


said, that all acquainted with the subject of local taxation knew that that which was paramount to everything else was a consolidation of the local rates. To have a different system of exemptions in the different rates could not but be disadvantageous, and he considered, therefore, that agreeing to the second reading of the Bill, and allowing the Committee on the Grand Jury Laws to take it up from that point, and say whether the law required alteration, was a consistent and intelligent mode of dealing with the subject.


said, he most thoroughly and cordially supported the Bill. It was one to which the Dublin corporation, after the most mature deliberation, gave its complete assent. The exemption, he contended, would only have the effect of re- leasing one class of houses from taxation, to impose additional taxation upon others.


said, he considered that the Bill, as a Valuation Bill, was an excellent one; but some of his hon. Friends had conceived—and he thought not without justice—that the effect of the Bill would be to repeal an existing law that exempted tenements under 5l. from taxation. If this were so, then it ought to be declared, but if it were intended by implication to expose to taxation a large class who had hitherto been exempt, he should oppose the Bill.


said, he concurred in the opinion that the Bill would, in an indirect manner, introduce a system of taxation on those who had hitherto been exempt. It would have the effect of throwing off a portion of the taxation from the rich and placing it on the poor.


said, he wished to explain to the Committee that the clause merely repealed certain provisions of former Acts of Parliament. At the time of the passing of one of these Acts he remembered very well warning the House that in consequence of some of its clauses it would create confusion. The exemption, about which so much had been said, he could assure hon. Gentlemen ought never to have been introduced into the Act, which was one for the general valuation of Ireland, and the object of the clause now before them was simply to remove from it the exemption provision. As the law stood, however, that provision would be ultimately left quite untouched, for the power of exemption was contained in an Act by itself. The truth was this, that if a house were not rated it would bring an increased rent. He thought that the question of exemption should be discussed in a separate manner.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

House divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 25: Majority 54.

Clause agreed to, as was also Clause 2.

Clause 3.


said, he proposed to add, at the end of this clause, a proviso, to the effect that nothing contained therein should be deemed to make liable to Grand Jury rates any houses rated at, or under, the value of 5l., and which were exempted from the Grand Jury Cess, in pursuance of the Statute 6 & 7 Vict. c. 32.


said, he thought this addition would make the Bill a very cumbrous one. A Committee would shortly sit to consider the whole Irish Grand Jury system, and he thought there was not the slightest possibility of this Bill being passed before the decision of that Committee were known.


said, he would not object to 5l. houses being rated, but he thought the whole burden ought not to be borne by the occupier. He could not see why the owner should not bear a share.


said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Young) ought to postpone the Bill till the House should be in possession of the decision of the Committee of which he spoke. If he persevered in the Bill, he would, no doubt, get a number of Gentlemen to support him at the Chairman's call, neither knowing nor caring what they did. ["Order, order!"] Yes, he would distinctly repeat it again and again—a number of Gentlemen would come in from the lobbies, the dining-room and smoking-room, and would vote for the Government without caring one single farthing how far it affected, or did not affect, the people of Ireland. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that he had not dealt fairly with the Irish people; he smuggled a Bill into the House at a late hour; no explanations were given; for himself he had no knowledge of the second reading; and now he wished to carry it by the force of his majority. Let the decision of the Grand Juries' Committee be waited for, at all events; he should be willing to abide by it; but it was unfair to make people liable by means of what appeared a discreditable trick.


said, the hon. Gentleman used to-night the same latitude of assertion he generally allowed himself. He said the House had been taken advantage of. But the Bill had been regularly introduced and explained ten days ago. On Wednesday he had consulted for an hour and a half with fourteen or fifteen of the Irish Members upon the subject, when it had been agreed that the question should be referred to the Committee on the Grand Jury Bill. And yet this was conduct which a Member for Ireland considered himself entitled to characterise as a discreditable trick.


said, he really had not meant to say, and had not said, what the right hon. Gentleman imputed to him. He had only said that the proceeding looked like a trick. And, again, his remarks, whatever they were, applied to the system, and not at all to the individual.


said, it was quite unnecessary for the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland to divide the Committee upon this Amendment, for he had expressly said himself that he did not intend to settle the question of exemption at present, but to leave it over for a future occasion. He did not think there could be any valid objection to the words in the Amendment being allowed to stand part of the clause.

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 74: Majority 48.

Clause agreed to.


said, he must make another appeal to the Chief Secretary for Ireland in favour of a postponement of the Bill. It was clearly against the feeling of the Irish Members present, and then it should be considered that a number of the Irish Members were absent.


said, he could not admit that twenty-four or twenty-six constituted a majority of the Irish Members, more particularly when he remembered that, at a meeting of Irish representatives to whom he submitted the provisions of the Bill, only one Gentleman expressed a dissentient feeling. Then, as for postponing the measure out of consideration to a portion of the Irish Members, were they to have no consideration for the two decisions of that House in favour of it, by very large majorities. There was nothing in the remaining clauses to afford occasion for discussion.


said, that it was extremely important to pass a Valuation Bill, and he hoped, therefore, that no obstruction would be interposed in the way of the passing of the Bill.


said, the principal effect of the Bill would be, that every sum of money which should be laid out upon buildings would immediately be made liable to the poor rate; but he would not object to that, if the rule applied to land, which in the next clause was exempted from the tax.


said, the question of buildings being taxed, and land made exempt, was considered a difficult one; but as it had been discussed by the Poor Law Committee, and had been considered as settled, he should not think fit to disturb it.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

The House adjourned at One o'clock.