HC Deb 19 June 1857 vol 146 cc22-4

said, he rose to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it be the intention of the Government to make any change in the mode whereby the expenses of carrying on the annual revision of the general valuation of Ireland are at present raised? He wished to explain the circumstances under which the valuation was originally undertaken and effected, and the purposes to which it was applicable. The expenditure had been very great, as the cost of its execution had exceeded £357,000, which had been entirely defrayed by the counties of Ireland, and, though the work was perfect when first completed, its annual revision was rendered necessary by the changes constantly occurring in the various townlands and tenements throughout the country. The valuation had not only proved useful in the assessment of county cess and poor rates, but had been of the greatest service to the Government in the levying of the income tax, the legacy and succession duty, and various other branches of the Imperial revenue. Having hitherto paid the whole charge of this valuation, the counties of Ireland felt that they had done all that could fairly be required of them, and they now looked to the Government to defray the expense attending its annual revision, which was required by the provisions of the Act of the 9th and 10th Vict. Nor was this feeling confined to Dublin, for there had been no less than nine petitions from various counties presented on the subject. The Government made infinitely greater use of the valuation than the counties; and, as the object was therefore a national one, the counties of Ireland naturally complained of the whole burden being cast upon them, and nine of them had petitioned the House for a new arrangement on the subject.


said, the valuation of Ireland was originally introduced exclusively with reference to the county cess. That system, although an improvement on the previous one, contained some principles which did not accord with the English law and to which objections were made. One was that it contained a provision with regard to the scale of prices, and another had reference to the mode of assessing not the tenement of a single occupier, but a town land; and when the gross sum was as- sessed on the town land the inhabitants met and distributed it amongst themselves. Although that was an improvement on previous measures, yet it was an imperfect mode of assessing a local tax. The law so remained until the passing of the Irish Poor Law Bill, which contained a system of rating copied from the provisions of the Poor Law Act of Elizabeth as it existed in England. It proceeded, not upon the system of assessing the town land, but upon the assessment and rateability of the occupier. It became necessary, therefore, to amend the valuation, and divert it from the town land into a tenement valuation, and was a pure local, provincial, municipal conversion, introduced for the purpose of the poor law assessment. [Mr. GROGAN: And we pay for it.] Of course the Irish counties and town lands must be prepared to pay for it, in the same way that the English parishes paid for their assessment, and every locality in the county paid for the assessment and levying of its local taxes. The national exchequer had afforded considerable assistance towards the formation of that valuation in defraying the expenses of an ordinary survey, which was not, like the ordinary survey of England, constructed for the purpose of making a geographical map, but a survey on a scale of six inches to the mile, which was intended to assist in the formation of a local assessment of local taxes. The cost of that had been extremely great. That 6-inch map had been of very little use for the ordinary purposes of a map; it served only for an estate laud survey. And in order to enable Ireland to possess the advantage of a geographical map, it was necessary to issue one on the scale of an inch to the mile. According to the old law of Ireland, an assessment once made was never amended, and the law contained no provision for any alteration. In England, if the valuation for a local rate was not correct, so as to include all existing tenements, any ratepayer who considered himself too highly rated had the right of appeal. Such a provision was introduced into one of the Irish Acts. He was not sufficiently acquainted with the working of the Act as to be able to say whether there ought to be an annual revision, but that was a fair subject for discussion, and if the law threw too large a burden on the ratepayers, that was a matter for consideration. But that was no reason for calling on the Exchequer to aid the local assessment. Local assessments having been made, it was quite legitimate for the Government to say, when an income tax or a police rate, or any new Government tax was imposed, we will make use of the local assessment for our general purposes. By so doing they imposed no new burden on the different localities, and in Ireland the State had only availed itself of local assessments in the same manner that it had done in England. He consequently saw no reason for acceding to the proposition of the hon. Gentleman. It was contrary to all practice, to all analogy, to all justice, to call on the national Exchequer for contributions towards the revision of local rates in Ireland. But if it could be shown that the law was unnecessarily exacting, and imposed expenses on localities beyond the necessities of the case, that would be a fair reason for the revision of the Act.


said, that if, as was the case, totally unnecessary revisions of the valuation were called for by the Government, it was very hard to throw the entire expense upon the Irish counties, who had, moreover, no control over the appointment and payment of those who were engaged in them. The Government should give the people of Ireland the nomination of their own officers, in which case they were perfectly ready to pay for such services as were rendered; and the Government ought not to take upon themselves to nominate officers, some of whom, he was told, were incompetent, to direct everything which was to be done, and then call upon the grand juries—men far more conversant with the work than anybody else—to pay for it without inquiry. Let the Government leave them to manage their own affairs, and appoint those who were to conduct them, and they would be perfectly willing to bear the expense.