HC Deb 22 June 1863 vol 171 cc1282-7

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 (Provision for Removal of Natives of England or Scotland).


desired to point out to the President of the Poor Law Board the severity with which the clause would operate. For instance, supposing a man born in England went and settled in Ireland: though not chargeable himself, he had children who might be twenty or thirty years of age; and if one of those children became chargeable, according to this clause they could seize the man, who was not chargeable, and bring him and his family back to England. He thought that could hardly be meant.


said, the clause was copied verbatim from the English Act.


Then the English Act must be very had if its effect could be such as he had pointed out.


objected to the clause as it stood, inasmuch as it gave no corresponding powers in favour of England to those which it proposed to confer on the boards of guardians in Ireland with respect to persons born in this country. As the law now stood, the children of an Irishman who had come over to this country—that is, the children born here—became chargeable in this country. Supposing the Irishman had come over to reap, for instance, and brought his wife with him, as he generally did, the offspring became chargeable; and it was by no means uncommon for Irishwomen to come over to England for the purpose of being confined here. They went into the workhouse at Liverpool, and their progeny became chargeable. It was desirable that some limit should be placed to this system; and with this view he moved, as an Amendment in Clause 1, line 14, after the word "Scotland," the insertion of the words "of English or Scotch parents, or of Irish parents having a settlement in England or Scotland, or being irremovable there from by reason of length of residence."

Amendment proposed, In line 14, after the word "Scotland," to insert the words "of English or Scotch parents, or of Irish parents having a settlement in England or Scotland, or being irremovable there from by reason of length of residence."—(Mr. Charles Turner.)


supported the Amendment, which he regarded as a very reasonable one.


said, that when he told the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire that the clause was copied from the English Act, the right hon. Member turned round and said it was a very bad law. It was no part of his duty to justify the law involved in this clause. The object of the present Bill was to assimilate the laws of the two countries; and if the law was bad, let it be altered for both countries. The hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. C. Turner) mentioned the case of Irishwomen in the Liverpool workhouse who declared that they came over to be confined. Now, he doubted whether Irishwomen came over on purpose to be confined in England. The Irish who had children born to them in this country were persons who came over to labour, and were frequently worn out by work in making fortunes for great English manufacturers, when they were turned off, and sent to rot in an Irish workhouse. In Ireland there was no power of removal. An Englishwoman, the wife of a soldier, in passing through Kerry gave birth to a child, which was taken to India, and subsequently becoming chargeable in England, was removed to Kerry, a settlement being claimed solely on the ground that the child was born during its mother's passage through Kerry. The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for South Lancashire would render the whole Bill invalid, because it would be impossible to prove whether the parents had, perhaps Borne thirty or fifty years before, achieved their irremovability in England.


said, with regard to the objection that it would be difficult to discover a settlement after the lapse of thirty or forty years, that many hon. Gentlemen knew it was very often the case that questions as to settlement very often arose, after years had passed away, between one parish and another in England; and he did not see why the Irish should have an advantage over the English in this respect. Before there was any talk of reciprocity, the law of settlement in Ireland ought to be assimilated to that of England.


mentioned that women actually crossed from Ireland to England in order to be confined here.


observed, that if an Irishman had been three years in England, he could not be removed. It was not true, therefore, that after taking the benefit of Irish labourers, they were sent back to rot in their native land. It should also be remembered that there were no English tramps and vagrants in Ireland, whereas shoals of these sort of people came over here from the sister country. The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member (Mr. C. Turner), would obviate whatever the hon. Member for Deny complained of, in the case of the soldier's child, provided the parents were English.


said, he approved the clause as it stood, but he was quite willing to agree to a provision by which no English-man should be removable from Ireland under such circumstances as would render an Irishman irremovable in England. Practically, an Irish settlement was enforced here on a person who was born across the Channel. The Amendment of the hon. Member for South Lancashire would neutralise the Bill. The English got the advantage of Irish absentees, both rich and poor, and ought to bear the corresponding disadvantages.


thought that the objectors to this clause, instead of charging his right hon Friend with overlooking the English law of settlement, were open to that charge themselves. The question was not so much what loss would he inflicted upon England, as what was the present law of settlement. A child horn in a parish had a settlement there, unless it could be proved that the child derived any other settlement. It did not signify whether the child was of Irish or of foreign parents. If found chargeable elsewhere, it was removable to where it had a birth settlement, if no other settlement could be found. It was no more unjust to the place where the child was born whether it was removed from the extreme end of England or from Ireland. The power of removal did not change the law of settlement, and it would not be likely that removals would be made by the warrant of a magistrate more frequently than was now done by simply giving the person 2s. 6d. to go back to the place where he would be chargeable. He thought the fears which had been expressed were exaggerated, and that nothing could be more proper than to make the law in Ireland the same as in England. He could not agree to the Amendment, because it would, in fact, render the Bill inoperative, and he thought it would be more open to say at once they would not give the power of removal to Ireland.


said, that if there was a law of settlement in Ireland, and no law of derivative settlement in England, no injustice would be done by the Bill to English parishes. But, as that was not so, this Bill would put Irishmen in a better position than Englishmen, and produce an inequality which did not now exist. He hoped, therefore, that the Committee would consent to the Amendment.


believed it would be of great service to Ireland if there were a law of settlement in that country, as the knowledge that evicted tenants would come on the rates would put a stop to evictions and bring about peace and tranquillity.


hoped the wretched antiquated law of settlement would never be extended to Ireland. No one who had experienced the iniquities of the English Poor Law would wish to introduce it into any other country, He had always been an adovocate of one simple settlement, and he supported the Bill in the hope that it would lead to re-consideration of the English Poor Law, with a view to its assimilation to the Irish law.


said, he was opposed to the introduction of the English law of settlement into Ireland, and his principal objection to this Bill was that it assimilated the Irish law to the English.

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

The Committee divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 43: Majority 30.


moved that the Chairman report progress, in order that he might consider what course he should take with the Bill. It would be trifling with the House to ask them to go on at present with the Bill after an Amendment had been carried which virtually destroyed the force of it.


suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should abandon the Bill. He did not think the measure a wise or a politic one, and he did not much regret a division that had thoroughly crippled it. He objected altogether to the principle of removal.


hoped the right hon. Member would state whether he meant to abandon or to go on with the Bill. He thought it was a very useful measure, and he recommended the right hon. Gentleman to proceed.


thought his right hon. Friend would do quite right in abandoning the Bill.


supported the Motion for reporting progress, as likely to prevent confusion.


intimated his intention, should the Bill be pressed further, to move an Amendment to neutralize the power of removal in England, as had just been done in the case of Ireland.


said, that in everything relating to the Irish poor the House of Commons was always inclined to act rather harshly. In England the Irish poor were oppressed.


said, that what Irish Members should aim at was the abolition of the English law of settlement. The main principle had been knocked out of the Bill, and the sooner it was abandoned the better.


did not wish to pledge himself to any course. He merely wanted time for consideration. He would state on Thursday what course he would take.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again on Thursday.