HC Deb 01 July 1862 vol 167 cc1291-6

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1 (Existing Enactments as to Chargeability repealed—Chargeability according to Residence).


said, the clause which, the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) proposed in lieu of the first clause, enacted that before a pauper could become chargeable to a particular electoral division he should have resided in the union for five years next before the application for relief and for two years within the electoral division. The clause as it originally stood, and as it had been rejected by the Select Committee to whom the Bill was referred, proposed that the pauper's residence in the union should be five years continuously, two of these years being spent within the electoral division to which he was made chargeable. The word "continuously" was objected to by the Committee, and the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland undertook to amend the clause; but he (Mr. George) contended, that although the wording had been altered, the meaning was the same, there being no practical difference between five years' continuous residence and five years' residence next before the obtaining of relief. He objected to the clause on the ground that it approximated to union rating, the principle of which he hoped would never be extended. Every inducement should be given to country gentlemen to employ the people, and he believed it was their desire to keep the people out of the workhouse. The effect of the electoral division system would be to make proprietors anxious to keep the people of their electoral division out of the workhouse.


said, he did not think that the clause, if passed, would be a step taken towards union rating. He believed, on the contrary, it would be a step in the right direction; and he trusted, therefore, the right hon. Baronet would persevere with the clause. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken as to the desire of the landlords of Ireland to keep the people out of the workhouse. The first thing thought of usually on an estate being acquired was to "improve" it by clearing off the people, who had then no resource but to obtain workhouse relief.


said, that the issue raised might be termed town, against country. He denied that the landlords of Ireland desired to clear the people off their estates. Nothing could be so ruinous as to pursue such a course. Whenever real improvements were effected, the first thing looked to was the condition of the people. The clause, as it stood, would render it almost impossible to fix the chargeability of a pauper. He could not conceive that any more objectionable principle could be introduced into the Poor Law system than that of union rating; and believing that the clause was an advance in that direction, he should feel bound to oppose it.


said, he also must express his disapproval of the clause. It would naturally lead to the establishment of a system of union rating, and ultimately of national rating; and one of the strongest motives which at present induced landowners to look after the improvement of the people on their estates would thus be destroyed.


said, that out of one electoral division in the county of Louth 400 persons had been driven, and they made their way to Drogheda, where most of them had to take refuge in the workhouse. Surely it was not just that the ratepayers of that town should be chargeable with the support of those paupers. He hoped the House would adopt this clause, and that the system of union rating would be carried out.


said, he would ask the Committee to accept the clause as a compromise between town and country. It was within his own. knowledge that 250 families had been removed from one estate in the county of Tipperary, and were obliged to seek refuge in a neighbouring borough, the effect of which was to raise the rates in that borough to something like 25s. in the pound.


considered that the clause was in effect an adoption of the principle of union rating, which would lead to extravagance.


said, his object had been to adhere strictly to the recommendation of the Committee, and he certainly did not intend to introduce anything that would tend to establish the principle of union rating, to which he was strongly opposed. He believed the clause as it stood did carry out the recommendations of the Committee; but, after the objections made to it by so many hon. Members for whose opinion he had great respect, that it had a tendency to establish a union rating, he had some misgiving as to the advisability of maintaining the clause. He would therefore undertake on bringing up the report to propose a clause in exact accordance with the recommendation of the Committee, retaining the clause in the Act of 1849, and altering the period for residence within the union as suggested by the Committee. The question of chargeability was one of great difficulty and delicacy, and his only object was to do that which was fair and equitable between, town and country.


suggested that the clause should be withdrawn and a new clause brought up on the Report.


said, that that was the course he proposed to adopt.


said, he approved of the step taken by the right hon. Baronet, which would carry out the recommendation of the Select Committee.


said, he would recommend the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to hand over the Bill to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Naas), whose suggestions with reference to Government Bills relating to Ireland seemed invariably to be adopted.


observed, that the course pursued by the Chief Secretary had his entire approval.

Question put, That the Clause (Existing Enactments as to Chargeability repealed—Chargeability according to Residence), being the new Clause in lieu of Clause 1, as amended, be added, to the Bill.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 15; Noes 121: Majority 106.


moved the insertion of a clause, after Clause 19, to the effect that guardians, when elected by the ratepayers of two or more electoral divisions, should notify to the returning officer for which of the divisions he would act as guardian.

Clause agreed to.


said, he wished to move the addition of a clause, providing that it should be lawful for boards of guardians to recover from, putative fathers the cost of the maintenance of illegitimate children during the time they were inmates of a poorhouse and while under the age of fourteen years, such cost of maintenance and costs of suit to be recoverable by process at quarter sessions.

Another Clause (Boards of Guardians to recover Costs of Maintenance of Illegitimate Children in Poorhouses under Fourteen), brought up, and read 1° 2°.


said, he had no objection to the adoption of the clause.


said, that if the clause was adopted by the House, it would be the first introduction in Ireland of the principle of the bastardy laws, and he should therefore oppose it.

Question put, "That the Clause be added to the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 111; Noes 11: Majority 100.


said, he would move the addition of a clause, to the effect that as it was desirable that provision, should be made for the burial of persons dying in very distressed circumstances, it should be lawful for the relieving officer of each union to provide for the burial of such persons, and to charge the expense upon the poor rates of the union.


objected to the clause.

Clause withdrawn.


said, he wished to propose the adoption of a clause to enable guardians to apprentice children, with the consent of their parents, up to the ago of fifteen, and to pay a fee for them not to exceed £10.


said, he should oppose the clause, which would place pauper children in a better position than the children of poor parents.


said, he should support the clause as one that would be beneficial to the children, to the guardians, and to society.


said, he had a decided objection to the clause. The fee would operate as a premium to persons to take children as apprentices and afterwards neglect them. Besides, the effect of the clause would be to give a premium to parents or guardians to send children to the workhouse.

Another Clause (Enabling Guardians to apprentice Children), brought up, and read 1°.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 10; Noes 95: Majority 85.


said, he would then move that after the passing of the Act the ex officio guardians of unions should not exceed one-third of the entire board.


said, he saw no reason to alter the law as it stood, the boards being composed equally of ex officio and of elected guardians.

Motion negatived.


said, he would propose the addition of a clause enacting that it should be compulsory on all boards to provide separate places of worship in the workhouses, to be exclusively used for such purpose by the congregations, for whom chaplains might be appointed.


said, that under the existing regulations in most workhouses a part of the dining-room was partitioned off for the celebration of service, and was used alternatively by Protestants and Roman Catholics, and the provision was generally found sufficient.

Clause negatived.


said, he would move the addition of a clause, enacting that when the Poor Law Commissioners should have divided any electoral division into wards, every ratepayer in respect of property in the ward should have a vote or votes in the election of guardians in such ward, according to the scale of votes provided by the Act 1 & 2 Vict., c. 56.

Another Clause (After Division of Electoral Divisions into Wards, Ratepayers under the last Rate may vote for Guardians), brought up, and read 1°.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 69: Majority 22.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Thursday, and to be printed [Bill 180].