HC Deb 20 April 1864 vol 174 cc1379-97

Order for Second Beading read.


said, he begged to move the second reading of the Bill, the main principles of which consisted in the separation of the criminal from the fiscal business of counties, leaving the first to be discharged, as hitherto, by the grand jury summoned by the sheriff, and transferring the latter to county and baronial Boards of an elective and representative character, consisting of an equal number of members severally appointed by the magistracy and ratepayers. Although the Bill had not the merit of originality, still for that very reason it recommended itself for their adoption—as measures of nearly a similar character had been introduced, not only by distinguished private Members, but by Ministers of the Crown, one of whom, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, he was glad to see in his place, as he and Sir William Somerville, when Chief Secretary for Ireland, had introduced so good a Bill that he (Mr. Blake) had adopted several of the best clauses. Numerous petitions from Ireland in former years had prayed for the reform which he sought to effect, and the Royal Commission, appointed in 1842, to inquire into the subject, had made suggestions which he had adopted. There was one most important principle omitted from the Bill—that of relieving the occupier from a portion of the rate now entirely borne by him. There could not be a final and just settlement of the question until that was done, but no provision was made for it in the Bill, for the simple reason that with an Irish representation, consisting of three-fourths landlords, unpledged to support such a proposal, it was hopeless to attempt to carry it under existing circum stances — it should be left to other times, and, perhaps, to other men, to accomplish that reform; but it should be quite understood that neither he nor his hon. Friends for a moment surrendered the principle, as he believed there were far greater grievances which the Irish tenant had to complain of than being obliged to pay all the rate. Landlords would, no doubt, assert that practically they paid it, as they let their land subject to the rate, which, if they had to pay, they would add to the rent. But he believed that, practically, the tenant gets the land not a shilling less because he pays the rate; and, once in possession, it was really the interest of the landlord to allow as much baronial rate to be heaped on him as possible, as thereby his property was improved by the outlay for bridges, roads, and other permanent works, of which the tenant, from the system of land tenure in Ireland, may be said to have only temporary advantages, whilst the landlord got an increased rent for his ground, rendered of more value by the out lay on county and baronial works near it, for which the tenant had borne the cost. The large increase in the grand jury rate, now nearly double what it was formerly, and amounting to over a million a year, proved its uncertain nature and tendency to increase, notwithstanding the transfer of the charge for police to the Consolidated Fund, the depressed condition of the country, and the less wear and tear of the public roads consequent on the increase of railroads, which must absorb much of the traffic which used to pass over the former. It was a strange anomaly that those who contributed most to the rates had no control over their expenditure; and down to 1836 no matter how profligate the waste of the public money might be, the rate payers had no means of knowing who were parties to it, as the grand jury sat with closed doors, and were bound by the same oath of secresy regarding fiscal as criminal matters. In that year, however, a great change for the better took place. An Act was passed giving publicity to the proceedings, and an attempt was made to introduce something of representation into the system, but which practically proved nugatory. The sheriff was obliged to summon a person on the grand panel from each barony; but it was open to him to summon those whom he knew would not attend (of which there were many instances), and having fulfilled the law, could form the jury just as he pleased, whenever he had any object to accomplish. Presentment sessions were appointed, when a certain number of cesspayers were associated with magistrates; but these were the nominees not of those whom they were supposed to represent, but of those whom they were to control, as the plan adopted was for the cess collector of each barony to send in the names to the grand jury of 100 of the highest ratepayers, and from these were selected double the required number usually drawn by the grand juror from the barony, and those to serve were then drawn from a hat at the next presentment sessions. It is only natural to suppose that the grand juror selected those who would he most likely to obey his behests, and even if they were the most independent men imaginable they could be, as, indeed, they sometimes were, outvoted by the magistracy who could attend from all parts of the county. True, there was an appeal to the grand jury, but that was only an appeal to the same body, and as to protesting before the Judge of assize he would be a rash ratepayer who would resort to it, as, besides having to bear all the expense, he would run the risk of incurring the vengeance of some one of the grand jury, probably his landlord, and might be quite sure he would never enjoy the dignity again of sitting as an associated ratepayer with the justices from whom he had presumed to dissent. Some idea might be formed of the pliant instruments who were nominated as associated ratepayers, when, according to the Report of the Royal Commissioners of 1842, in the county of Kerry, persons little above the class of labourers were nominated to sit with the magistrates, who could not speak English, and deaf and blind persons were appointed in other places. The whole affair, therefore, became a farce, and was well described in the concluding part of the Report of the Royal Commissioners of 1842:— The intent of the Legislature in establishing presentment sessions seems to have been to give to the ratepayers such a representation thereat as would enable them to prevent improper or improvident presentments; but the law is not effectual for its purpose. Magistrates may, and when a particular object is to he carried, not unfrequently do, attend the presentment sessions of baronies where they have no property, and outvote those who have. Then, as to the associated ratepayers, they are not chosen by the ratepayers at large, but are taken by lot from the reduced lists made by the grand jury in the way already described. They are, therefore, nominees, not of the class they are to represent, but of the class they are to control. The lot, too, may fall upon the most unfit, which is of itself a serious fault in the system, and the uncertainty in which the ratepayers named by the grand jury are left until; the day of the presentment sessions, as to the particular individuals who may be drawn to serve, is obviously calculated to prevent a regular attendance. (Signed) J. BLAKE, Chief Remembrancer, JOHN YOUNG, Bart, BARON GREENE, WM. SOMEEVILLE, Bart., JOHN L. O'FERRALL. He would read for them a small portion of the evidence on which that Report was founded, and would select the opinions of men who were neither radical reformers or having revolutionary ideas, but noblemen and gentlemen of aristocratic position, and having a large stake in the country, but who were impressed with the necessity of reform, and willing to make just concessions. (Mr. Blake hero read several extracts from the evidence of Lord Clancarty, the hon. Admiral Trench, Sir Richard Musgrave, Sir Richard Kane, Mr. Kincaid, agent to Lord Palmerston, Mr. Hancock, agent to Lord Lurgan, infavour of the division of the rate between landlord and tenant, and a representation from the latter by election, and also an extract from a speech of Mr. Butt's in 1861, showing the various Bills that had been introduced by Government and private Members to amend the system which had fallen through, and proceeded)—twenty-one years had passed since the Report of the Commissioners, and not one of their suggestions had been carried out. Bills containing some excellent provisions had been introduced, amongst them, Sir William Somerville's and Sir Denham Norrey's, the latter going far to remedy the evils complained of, including the division of the rate, and was such a reform that it would have produced much good, but his zeal and ability proved fruitless. Chief Secretaries promised everything if the hon. Members would only postpone the matter, but did nothing. Two years ago he had brought the subject under the notice of the present Chief Secretary. The right hon. Baronet had promised to consider the subject during the recess, and, without having given an absolute undertaking, had certainly led him to hope that legislation would have followed, but there was no sign of it; therefore he had put together the Bill now before the House as something of a suggestive character for the Government. He was sure there were many defects in it, as he was not accustomed to draw Bills. His hon. Friend the Member for Wexford had aided him so far as his numerous occupations permitted him, and they only intended the Bill as an embodiment of principles, leaving details of working them out to be supplied if it went into Committee. It provided for appointment of the county and baronial Boards, rotation of Members, mode of election, and giving to these bodies the character of county corporations, which would be an improvement on their present transitory character, in consequence of which many works taken up by one grand jury were left unfinished, as there was no provision enabling them to meet between one assize and another, no matter how great the necessity. Rank and property were given their legitimate weight, by allowing half of each Board to be appointed by the magistracy, and peers, hitherto excluded, were rendered eligible for both. Under no circumstances could the democratic element preponderate, whatever chance there might be for the aristocratic to be in the ascendant. As, besides, half of each body being sent in by the magistrates, no doubt many of the gentry would be selected by the ratepayers to represent them. The 25th clause conferred on county and baronial Boards all the powers of the Land Drainage Act of last year. He had inserted it at the instance of one of the first men in Ireland, as occupying the foremost commercial position, and having done much to develop the enterprise and progress of the country, and whose opinion on any subject for the benefit of Ireland deserved the utmost weight. He could do no better than quote the very words of the gentleman he alluded to:— Your favour of the 15th has found me here. I cannot go into the defence of the drainage so fully as if I were at home, but I think it will be evident that in all countries there are systems of arterial drainage that in some cases will require to traverse large sections of the county, and that, like roads, will require to come before dis- tinct interests, which will require the combined legislation of the county—for instance, a branch road may run through only three or four properties, but if you have to load water either to the coast or the main river, it may require an arterial outlet as far as from Tramore to Water-ford, in which case more than one of your county divisions will be interested; besides, it may be a question for electing a member to the county Board if he will advocate the arterial drainage. It will also afford an opportunity at its meeting for pressing the necessity for such in certain localities if it is made one of the powers and duties of the county Board, and private proprietors will bow to its decisions of the necessity for such when wanted, when they may otherwise decline to entertain its consideration. In fact, I think it will be one of the most useful functions of the Board, and funds would be more secure in their bands, and having the official engineer of the county under their control, they are in a better position to obtain practical advice than others. I hope you will be able to make a good case, though you may not succeed this time. Clause 26 gave County Boards the power of appointing an equal number of representatives on the Boards of Lunatic Asylums with those nominated by the Lord Lieutenant, which, he believed, would be as just as it would he desirable. Though these institutions were wholly supported out of county rates, grand juries had no power over them beyond visiting them at each assizes. The Lord Lieutenant, having no local knowledge generally speaking, had, he believed, to rely in a great measure on the suggestions of the inspectors as to the persons to be appointed. He had reason to think that many members of the different Boards owed their seats to that source, the policy of which he very much doubted, as governors ought to be wholly independent of those officers. Indeed, he had found great difficulty in his efforts to have beneficial changes introduced into the system of moral treatment of lunatics in Ireland when matters did not accord with the views of the inspectors, the governors usually deferring to them when they ought to act for themselves. Such were the leading features of the Bill which he had the honour to submit for the consideration of the House, and trusted they would allow it to go into Committee. An hon. and gallant Member had proposed its rejection, on what grounds he was at a loss to conceive, as he believed the hon. Member was a man of enlightened and progressive views, and not opposed to making just concessions to popular wishes. Surely the order to which he belonged had ample safeguards in the Bill to protect their legitimate privileges, and he would ask the hon. Member, as a grand juror, would not his position be a more independent and satisfactory one if he owed it to his brother magistrates, or fellow ratepayers, than to the favour of the high sheriff himself, a nominee of the Government; and he would further ask what reasonable objection could there be to allowing; the ratepayers to appoint their own representatives, and to provide that they should; not, on particular occasions, be utterly overborne by magistrates having no property in connection with their barony. He respectfully asked them to reverse a system founded on laws opposed to the whole system of modern legislation. The grand jury laws, as they stood at present, were, as was justly remarked, a last relic of the rude and lawless times when they wove called into existence. What the precise time that a court formed for purposes of criminal judicature assumed the fiscal powers so foreign to its character, was more a matter of antiquarian interest than practical import; but it was certain that it must have been when the want of education amongst the great mass of the people disqualified them from taking that share in the management of their own affairs for which they were now fitted, and when also the ascendancy of the law, not being perfectly established, local duties were but little regarded, and local duties not properly understood. At such a time there may have been a justification, which did not now exist, for a court of criminal adjudicature taking on itself the duty of presenting for the repairs of roads and other fiscal powers, in addition to that which devolved on it, of indicting and prosecuting those who neglected the proper maintenance of the public highways. At this hour, however, it was as unjust as it; was absurd and unconstitutional to continue a system which could not fail to be I a source of continued dissatisfaction—ex acting, as it did, a million a year from the occupier without his consent, and expending it without his approval. There was no system so bad, said a writer on the subject, for the performance of public duties, than that which confers nominal; without real responsibility — and which professed to create representation, whilst the representative power was practically withheld. In the absence of this practical reality, the cesspayers felt they had no real powers, and thus the odium of increasing taxation was thrown on the grand jurors, no matter how zealously and honestly they discharged their duties. They ought, therefore, to be glad for their own sakes to see the representative principle extended to county fiscal administration; it was the true one as regarded taxation, and there seemed no more reason why it would not be adopted in Irish county affairs than in the raising and disbursement of the finances of the Empire by the Commons, or, to go a little lower, as occurred under the Poor Laws and municipal affairs —some civic authorities having now taken the whole of the fiscal affairs of their towns into their own hands. He earnestly appealed to the hon. Baronet to realize the hopes which were entertained, that he would make a real effort to settle this important question satisfactorily. It was a remark of the illustrious man whose name he bore, that he never knew a Session of Parliament without the introduction of an Irish Grand Jury Bill, which usually fell through at the first stage; a good proof of how even in his time there existed a strong desire on the subject, which Parliament trifled with. Quite as much feeling on the subject existed now. Petitions had been sent until the people had been tired out sending them. A Grand Jury Reform Association had sat in Dublin for a long time and did good service in getting up an agitation, and published an able and interesting pamphlet on the question, but ceased its labours when it found Parliament would do nothing. The Chief Secretary had favourably identified himself with one of the most useful measures which had been passed for Ireland for many years—the Fshery Bill of last Session. Grand Jury Reform was equally worthy of his attention. He professed to love English institutions; let him, then, extend to Ireland the good old Saxon principle of local self-government and the right to manage their own affairs. By doing so he would foster habits of self-reliance and independence, and promote feelings of confidence between the different classes, and county burdens would then be more cheerfully borne when the people would have extended to them that great maxim of the British constitution which said "there shall be no taxation without representation,"

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Blake.)


said, he did not think the Bill afforded any prospect of whole some legislation, and would therefore move that it be read a second time that day six months. It had upon the face of it many sins, both of omission and commission. Il abolished, as far as fiscal matters went, an old and time-honoured tribunal, which had for centuries transacted, with economy and impartiality, both the fiscal and criminal business of the counties; and yet so carelessly had the Bill been drawn, that it contained no provision for regulating the manner in which the public works of counties were to be carried out. A long experience of the working of the present system in his own county enabled him with pleasure to bear his testimony to the capacity for business and the high sense of honour which invariably had characterized the members of the grand jury. The Bill amounted to nothing less than a thorough demolition of that system; and although he was not opposed to some alteration in it by which a more independent position might be given to the associated cesspayers and their number increased, yet he maintained that any such changes ought to be proposed on the authority of the Government, to whom the responsibility of such a proceeding would properly belong. Hasty and sweeping legislation on such n question was seriously to be deprecated, and the people of Ireland had a right to complain that the measure had not been introduced and printed on an earlier day. The grand juries had had no opportunity of considering it in their corporate capacity.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Damson).


said, he had never joined in any cry that the gentlemen of Ireland had not with the utmost ability and integrity of purpose fulfilled their duties as grand jurors. But there were two main points in the proposition before the House, the one social and the other fiscal. Socially nothing could be more beneficial to Ireland than bringing to gether the magistrates and the occupiers of land. That had been found to be of the greatest use in the administration of the Poor Law. When gentlemen of high position and the ratepayers came together for public purposes, it was found on the one hand that the latter were not quite so ignorant as was supposed, and that the former were neither so selfish nor so inconsiderate as had been alleged against them. But he had always objected to the county cess being divided between the landlord and the tenant as calculated to disarrange their mutual relations. He thought it a mere matter of justice to hand over the arrangements as to the making of roads to the ratepayers and magistrates. The valuation of Ireland in 1862 was £12,567,494. In 1862 the grand jury assessment for the whole of Ireland was £1,808,828, or in round numbers about one-twelfth. The poor rates were £516,759. Seeing that so large an amount administered by the grand jury was paid by occupiers, they ought to have some control in the matter. In the case of the Poor Law there were elective guardians, though tenants only paid half of the rate. How much more ought they to have a control where they paid the whole of an assessment. The proposer of the Bill had stated that he regarded it as valuable only as laying down a principle, and if it were allowed to go into Committee he should he ready to accept any Amendment that would carry out that principle. He was afraid, however, much support would not be given to the Bill on the other side of the House. He hoped, if the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland opposed the Bill, he would give some promise of introducing a measure on this subject himself.


said, that whatever the faults of omission or commission the Bill possessed, it should be allowed to go into Committee where they could be remedied. He believed that the magistrates and landlords in Ireland discharged their duties on the grand juries with integrity; but, he asked, whether the time had not arrived when something should be done to associate the cesspayers, farmers, and others in the administration of the cess. The experiment of elective guardians had been tried for the last seventeen years in the administration of the Poor Law; and it was stated before the Poor Law Committee of 1861, that the effect had been to remove many prejudices. He hoped the Government would allow the Bill to be read a second time.


said, that considering the admissions he had made, he did not think that there was any extraordinary difference of opinion between the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Dawson) and his hon. Friend who had brought in the Bill on the subject of it. It was a matter of little consequence whether the party with which he acted received support from the occupants of the benches on his side or the Ministerial side of the House, The Irish Members made no covenant or bargain with any party. They were as independent of either as either was independent of them. Hon. Gentlemen were returned to that House to represent the nation at large, and to regulate the fiscal affairs of the kingdom up to £70,000,000, Why should not this principle of representation be applied to the regulation of the money of the taxpayers of counties? The fiscal powers had been already taken away from the grand juries in various localities —such, for example, as Dublin and Cork —and with the most useful results. If it worked well in the cities why should not the principle be extended generally through out the country? His hon. Friend wished to put the elective cesspayers and the elected magistrates upon the same footing. He could mention cases in which five or six rated associated cesspayers sitting at presentment sessions were swamped in their votes by magistrates living some thirty, forty, or fifty miles distant from the barony, who trooped in for the purpose of carrying—he would not say a job—but the particular object which they had in view, It should be recollected that the owner had a permanent interest in the expenditure of public money for the improvement of his property, whilst the interest of the tenant was but temporary. Nevertheless, those improvements were not effected with the money of the landlord, but with the money of the tenant, who paid the entire rates. The country gentlemen of Ireland ought to be the first to propose such a change as would give confidence in those who had none at present in the existing system, He wished his hon. Friend had gone farther, because he considered it was unfair that the landlord should be free from this charge. It ought to be divided between the landlord and the occupier, as was the case with the poor rate. The landlord and the occupier had to divide the charge of a pauper; but when he became a lunatic then the whole charge was thrown on the occupier. That was unfair, and he challenged the landlord interest to give a good reason for the continuance of that principle. His hon. Friend (Mr. Blake) had omitted from the Bill what he should like to see established—namely, an equal division of the rate between landlord and occupier. But this was a landlord's Parliament, and there had not been sufficient agitation upon the subject to compel landlords to pledge themselves that there should be an equitable division of this burden, and until that pressure was put upon them it would be difficult for any one to expect to carry such a proposition. But his hon. Friend did not abandon the hope. The boards of guardians fairly represented all classes of the community, because those who paid the rates elected to a certain extent those who had to administer the law and expend the money. The same principle ought to be applied to the county cess, because they were at present the nominees of the sheriffs, who were the nominees of the Crown, and who were able to perpetrate any job. The present machinery was certainly not such as could be defended. Taxation and representation in this matter ought to go hand in hand. His hon. Friend did not expect to be able to carry the Bill, but he did hope to have the principle affirmed by a second reading, in which case it was desirable that the Government should under take to deal with the subject, and by their influence obtain the passing of a satisfactory measure.


said, he would assent to the second reading, though he could not support the Bill as it stood. He believed the existing grand jury system to be a very bad one, and that it would have been long ago abolished but for the circum stance that it had been well administered. The grand jury was arbitrarily chosen by the sheriff, who was himself arbitrarily chosen by the Judge of assize. They were supposed to be representatives of the largest properties in Ireland, but this was by no means always the case. They were called together twice a year, and in a couple of days were required to go through a quantity of business, requiring twice as large a portion of time. One most important clause in the existing law was so absurdly worded that it bore a different interpretation in different counties. Again, at present there was a risk of loss from defalcations of the High Constables who received the county cess, and if those losses had not been frequent it was attributable to the care taken by the grand juries in the selection of persons to fill the office of High Constable. He would desire to see Baronial Boards appointed, but he should object to the formation of County Boards as proposed by this Bill. Sir William Somerville introduced a Bill in 1849 which he much preferred to this. It was, however, impossible to expect that the Bill could pass this Session, and he trusted that the subject would engage the attention of the Government, and that they would introduce a measure next year, as it was beyond the power of any private Member satisfactorily to deal with it.


said, he was pleased to find that the Bill had been discussed in so calm and moderate a tone; but he could not but think that the case against the present law had utterly broken down. The supporters of the Bill had failed to show that there had been any want of economy or any jobbing or neglect of duty. If there was any dissatisfaction in Ireland with respect to the working of the grand jury law, all he could say was that it had been kept a profound secret until now. If, then, no case had been made out against the administration of the present law, and no dissatisfaction existed with regard to its working, he thought the House should be very careful before it sanctioned so radical and complete a change as that proposed by the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake). It had been stated that great dissatisfaction existed amongst the ratepayers and occupiers as to the working of the grand jury system; but if such dissatisfaction existed it was kept a profound secret. No case having been made out for the proposed change, the House ought to be very careful before it rejected a sys tem which had worked well for the purpose of introducing another, the working of which was very problematical. There was one point which had not been prominently put forward, but which was at the root of the whole affair—and that was a certain amount of dissatisfaction as to the incidence of the taxation prevailing in counties, and it was clear from the speeches of the hon. Members for Waterford (Mr. Blake) and Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) that their object was to get rid of the present mode of levying county cess, and assimilating it to the mode of levying the poor rate. Now a change of that kind would amount to nothing less than confiscation, as far as it went. The enormous amount of property which had of late years changed hands had been purchased under the existing law by which one half the county cess was paid by the occupier, and he could not believe that the House would consent to inflict on the owners such an injustice as to remove the charge from the occupier and place the whole payment on the landowner. So far from any charge of want of economy having been brought against the grand jury system, he believed it was generally admitted that the greatest economy was practised, and that with respect to roads the charge as compared with England was immensely in favour of Ireland, and as to the public buildings they were only too good. There was, how ever, one real grievance which the rate payers had—that was as to the superintendence of lunatic asylums—but he was surprised that that should have been made a subject of complaint by certain hon. Members. For when he (Lord Naas) was Chief Secretary he brought in a Bill to remedy this very grievance, and proposed to give to local bodies the power to watch over these asylums; but the very Members who now complained preferred to leave the control in the hands of the Government Inspectors, opposed his Bill and it did not pass. He hoped that those hon. Members who now complained of the grievance would give their support to his Bill, should it be re-introduced. All the real objections to the present grand jury system related to minor matters, which could be easily amended without entirely destroying the system. Defalcations by High Constables were rare, and loss from that cause was still more rare, owing to the great care exercised by the grand juries in the acceptance of sureties. The hon. Member for Dungarvan had drawn a contrast between the way in which corporations and grand juries managed matters; but with out saying anything disrespectful of corporations, he might say that the reports of their proceedings which appeared in the newspapers tended to amuse rather than edify. He looked upon the principle of the Bill as tending to abolish the grand jury system of Ireland, for the election or non-election by ratepayers was not its main principle; and considering that no other body could be found to represent so accurately the wants of the ratepayers, and that the present system had worked well, he could not consent to a change which must tend to oppress the poorer rate payers.


said, he had been so pointedly referred to by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford, in introducing the second reading of the Bill, that he felt called upon to say a few words. The hon. Gentleman had appealed to him for his support, on the ground that he had brought in a Bill the object of which was similar to that of the Bill now before the House, and that in so doing he had admitted the existence of many anomalies and abuses in the grand jury system. He spoke in the presence of many who had heard what he said in the debate referred to, and they would bear him out when he said that though he had admitted certain anomalies and abuses to exist in the grand jury system, he had stated that he never would be a party to any Bill which proposed to destroy entirely the grand jury system of Ireland. The present Bill professed to be a Bill to amend the law relating to grand juries, and had it really been so he would have supported it; but the real tendency of the measure was to abolish the grand jury system altogether, and was far different from a Bill for the mere correction of abuses which he had advocated on the occasion alluded to by the hon. Member for Waterford. What he complained of was the election of the baronial cesspayers by the grand jury instead of their nomination by that body, and the power that the magistrates possessed of coming out of their own districts in order to make particular presentments which would not be passed by the local magistrates. The whole of the taxation of the country over which there could be any control did and must always originate with the cesspayers, so that on financial grounds the sweeping measure proposed by the hon. Member for Waterford was not required. An instance had been mentioned of the appointment of a cesspayer who could not speak English; but he simply regarded that circumstance as a favourable sample of the equitable working of the present arrangement. It reminded him of something that occurred on the occasion of a visit from one of the former Lord Lieutenants of Ireland to the part of the country in which he resided. One of the inhabitants, who did not understand English, came down from the hills and presented the lady, the wife of the Lord Lieutenant, with a bottle of whisky. She refused the present but offered him some money, which he received without making any acknowledgment. The lady asked the boatman if the man understood English, to which the boatman replied, "He understands that sort of English." In the same way the duties which would demand the attention of the cesspayer were such as he would find no difficulty under any circumstances in comprehending. He had listened carefully to the speeches of the hon. Members who had supported this Bill, but he found that not one of the practical difficulties of which they complained would be removed by it. The Bill left all the imperfections and anomalies of the existing system wholly uncorrected. Because the Bill failed to remedy any of the evils against which he had over and over again protested, and to remove which he I had himself endeavoured to provide a legislative remedy, he felt himself compelled to vote against the second reading.


said, he trusted that the Secretary for Ireland would decline to take the advice of the two ex-Secretaries for Ireland who had addressed the House, but would give all his assistance in furtherance of the present measure. He had him self presented numerous petitions which showed how great was the dissatisfaction existing in Ireland with the operation of I the grand jury system; and how great the evil was might be gathered from the manner in which the grand jury cess had been continuously increasing from the commencement of the present century. In 1800 the county cess was £400,000; in 1815 it was £619,000; it 1835 it was £945,000; in 1840 it was £1,268,000; and in 1845 it was £1,159,000. In 1846 Sir Robert Peel, on the repeal of the Corn Laws, relieved Ireland of between £500,000 and £600,000 per annum for the expense of the police, and threw it on the Consolidated Fund; but the result was that in stead of the cess falling by that amount it was, in 1850, £1,037,000; in 1859 it was £1,059,000; and in 1862 it was £1,088,000, which was an enormous sum; and he defied any one to account for that increase except from the indifference of the grand juries to that economy which they would practise if they had to pay the whole of the rates themselves, or from the people having nothing to do with its ad ministration. He complained of the in difference of English Members to Irish affairs. They had a great many Motions proposed for assimilating the laws of the two countries, but the English Members did not give them their support. The expenditure by the grand juries of Ireland was so great that it exceeded those of the kingdom of Denmark, of Switzerland, of Norway, and of Greece. The Bill only asked that the Irish people might be placed on an equality with England in respect to the principles of self-government. He hoped the Bill would be read a second time.


said, it was impossible that the Government could affirm the principle of the Bill, striking as it did at the root of the grand jury system of Ireland. One of its principal provisions being to abolish grand juries and to establish county boards in their place. For twenty-eight years the whole of the fiscal duties of the country had been administered with great advantage by united bodies of magistrates and cesspayers, and he did not think it desirable that that form of government should be altered, The hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford in introducing his Bill had asserted that he only proposed to carry out a principle which had been acknowledged in former Bills; but that assertion, he would respectfully submit, was not well founded. The Bills referred to by the hon. Gentleman, though proposing certain Amendments in the grand jury system, had none of them aimed at its abolition. Now, if the time-honoured system of grand juries had worked well, it ought not to be given up for the sake of a system confessedly crude and ill-digested. His hon. Friend had said that though there was no sign of an agitation on this subject in Ireland, it could be got up; but would it not be better for the House to wait and see what were the views of the country gentlemen and of the people on that matter? His hon. Friend complained of the amount of taxation under the grand jury system; but that taxation was incurred principally in the useful work of making and maintaining roads. Within a period of a very few years, 23,000 miles of new roads had been made in Ireland, and out of a sum of £1,080,000, for which the Irish grand juries had presented in the year 1862, over £600,000 was for roads. Hon. Members asked the Government to undertake the preparation of a Bill on this subject; but if they did so at this period of the Session, it could not be considered by the Irish country gentlemen till the July as sizes. He had, however, to inform the House that the Government had considered the subject with great attention during the last vacation, but had thought it better, now that they had the advantage of the services of the Attorney General for Ireland in the House, to proceed in the first instance with important law Bills, which had been in abeyance for two years, rather than occupy the time of the present Session with a scheme which would, at all events, require much more consideration than could be given to it before the recess. They would, however, be prepared to deal with the subject early next Session.


said, he had no objection to grand juries, but he thought that when men paid taxes they ought to have some control over their expenditure. It was on that ground he supported the second reading of the Bill.


said, that the only alteration required in the grand jury law was that of a division in the payment of the county rates between the landlords and the tenants; and that no magistrate should be allowed to vote in any barony in which he did not possess properly; and that the ratepayers should be permitted to share in the suffrage with the magistrates.


said, if this Bill were what it professed to be—namely, one to amend the grand jury system in Ireland —he should vote for it; but it appeared to him that it was not such a Bill, and, there fore, he could not support it. He was glad to hear the Secretary for Ireland state that the Government had considered the subject, and if the right hon. Gentleman should not be in office next year, he hoped he would be in the House to support the measure to which he had shortly referred.


, in reply, stated that he had no alternative but to proceed with the Bill, as it appeared to him that the mea sure foreshadowed by the Secretary for Ireland would not go far enough.


said, that the pre sent grand jury system was on the whole economical and most efficiently conducted, and he could not support the changes pro posed by this Bill.


recommended the hon. Member for Waterford not to go to a division, as it would be impossible to pass a Bill this Session. He was, however, of opinion, that in the case of the county cess, the same incidence of taxation as that which now prevailed in respect of pool-rate ought to be adopted. An arrangement to that effect might be made in all future contracts between landlord and tenant.


suggested that the Bill should not be pressed to a division, other wise the cause of grand jury reform would be retarded, as many who wished reforms in the grand jury system must oppose the Bill. He had not much faith in the promise made from the Treasury bench; and thought that a reform in the grand juries would be more likely to be effected if there was a change in the occupants of that bench.


said, the question at issue was whether the members of the grand jury were to be nominees of the high sheriff, or to be elected by the people. He would support the Motion for the second reading.

Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."

The House divided:Ayes 27; Noes 150: Majority 123.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Bill put off for six months.