HC Deb 06 May 1864 vol 175 cc151-6

said, he rose to move the following Resolution:— That, in the opinion of this House, Her Majesty's Government should now adopt the recom- mendation of the Select Committee of 1858, which recommended Her Majesty's Government to take into consideration the claims of Ireland to a grant of the half-cost of Medical Officers in Unions, with the view of providing for the same in future, as is now the practice in England and Scotland. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to detail the various ways in which the burden on the land had been relieved in England, and the poor rate made lighter, as recommended by the late Sir Robert Peel in 1846, and contended that it might be inferred from the speech of the right hon. Baronet on that occasion, that the same measure of relief as regarded the cost of the Union medical officers which had been extended to England and Scotland, would have been extended to Ireland also had the state of the law in Ireland admitted of it at the time. The abolition of the Corn Laws, which had been a great boon to England and Scotland, had proved injurious to Ireland, and as the interests of the latter had been sacrificed to the good of the rest of the United Kingdom, that gave additional weight to the claim for that modicum of relief which he now asked for the Irish ratepayers. The payment of the Irish constabulary out of the Consolidated Fund ought not to be thought sufficient reason for refusing to accede to this request. Another argument was, that Ireland did not contribute towards the expense of the county and borough police of England. The fact was, however, that one-fourth of the whole pay and clothing of the police force of England was now paid out of the Consolidated Fund. It should also be remembered that, although the cost of the Irish constabulary was paid out of the Consolidated Fund, yet that the constabulary now discharged the duties of revenue police, whereby a saving of £15,000 a year occurred. It was evidently the intention of the late Sir Robert Peel to place Ireland in an equally good position as England and Scotland, and he trusted that the Government would consent to carry out the recommendation of the Committee of 1858.


begged to second the Motion.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "In the opinion of this House, Her Majesty's Government should now adopt the recommendation of the Select Committee of 1858, which 'recommended Her Majesty's Government to take into consideration the claims of Ireland to a grant of the half-cost of Medical Officers in Unions with the view of providing for the same in future as is now the practice in England and Scotland," —(Mr. MacEvoy,) —instead thereof.


said, that in the year 1860 the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Dawson) brought that subject under the notice of the House, on which occasion his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Cardwell) gave what appeared to him to be a satisfactory answer to the demand then made. The late Sir Robert Peel, in consequence of the financial changes introduced in the Budget of 1846, relieved the local rates of Ireland from the payment of £350,000 on account of the constabulary, the whole cost of which he placed on the Consolidated Fund; but he made no corresponding alleviation in England and Scotland. In Ireland there were now 717 dispensary districts and 764 medical officers, and the whole cost of keeping up this machinery was £75,000. The hon. Member for Meath (Mr. MacEvoy) asked that Ireland should be relieved of half that sum; but the relief afforded to Ireland by the payment of the constabulary was ten times greater than the relief now sought. No doubt when the late Sir Robert Peel removed the burdens of taxation, which were then be much complained of, he considered that he was doing what he thought sufficient. No positive promise was made in 1846 that one-half of the cost of the medical unions should be borne by the Consolidated Fund. The matter was one which lay with the Treasury rather than the Irish Government, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer chose to relieve the local taxation of Ireland to the extent of £37,000 a year by paying half the cost of the dispensary officers, he, for one, should rejoice. He had no authority in the matter, and the Treasury might have good reasons for maintaining the present state of things. After that assurance on his part—which, however, he would admit did not amount to much, except that he sympathized with the hon. Gentleman— he trusted that he would withdraw the Motion.


said, that the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland had not spoken with his usual confidence, and did not appear to think he had a very good case. For himself he did not entertain the least doubt, from the speech of the late Sir Robert Peel, that if medical relief had been conducted in Ireland on the same principles as at present, the relief for which his hon. Friend prayed would then have been granted. On what grounds did Lord Devon's Commission recommend that the constabulary should be paid out of the Consolidated Fund? Because all the appointments were vested in the Lord Lieutenant. In England, however, the patronage rested with the local authorities. The Report further stated that the Irish constabulary was a disciplined and armed force, stationed in regular barracks. In other words, the ground on which that Commission recommended that the whole expense of the Irish constabulary should be borne by the Consolidated Fund was that that force was almost a part of the regular army. The Government had no more right to call upon the ratepayers to pay for it than they had to call upon them to pay for a regiment that might happen to be quartered with them. The analogy between the English and Irish police forces, therefore, entirely failed, and there remained no colourable pretence for rejecting the Motion of his hon. Friend.


said, the Irish police were rather a gendarmerie than a police force. But he contended that the cost of the Irish police force was really borne by the people of Ireland. Ireland ought not to be taxed for an object which was not equally the subject of a tax in England and Scotland.


said, that the reason given by Sir Robert Peel for not dealing with the charge for medical relief in Ireland as it was dealt with in England and Scotland was that the law with respect to medical relief in that country was different from the law in Great Britain, and showed that if the law had been the same he would have dealt in a similar manner with the charge. The whole cost of the Irish constabulary was placed on the Consolidated Fund, in order to induce the Irish Members not to oppose the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. The law of Ireland with respect to medical relief was now the same as that of Great Britain, and the charge ought, therefore, to be provided for in the same manner in all the three kingdoms. As to the police of Ireland, it was now essentially a military force. He thought it would be unworthy of the English Government to resist such a Motion as the present. It was a simple matter of justice that ought to be conceded.


said, that the charge for medical relief in England and Scotland was not placed upon the Consolidated Fund to give relief to local taxpayers, but partly to compensate the agricultural interest for the difficulties to which it was believed that they would be subjected by the free importation of corn, and partly to give the Government a share in the appointment and superintendence of the medical officers, in order that a defective system might be improved. Neither of those reasons existed in Ireland at the present moment. There was no question of compensation, and the dispensary officers performed their duties in a most satisfactory manner. As regarded the relief to the ratepayer, Ireland received much greater compensation by the transference of the entire constabulary cost to the Consolidated Fund. He thought that if the claim now put forward had been a good one it would have been considered in the year 1852, when the charge for these officers was first placed upon the poor rates.


said, that before the House divided he should like to answer the only two Ministers who had spoken upon the subject by quoting the words of a distinguished man, to whom they ought to pay a little respect. The late Sir Robert Peel said— I believe it will be an immense advantage to place the police force of Ireland directly under the control of the Executive, to prevent the possibility of all interference by local bodies, to make the police as perfect a system as possible, excluding all power of local nomination or local interference, taking the whole conduct, in fact, under the Executive Government, and, in order to make the system as perfect as possible, paying the police out of the public treasury. Sir Robert Peel had in view an important object of Imperial policy, and to carry it out he was willing that the country should bear the expense. But that question had nothing whatever to do with the Motion brought forward by his hon. and gallant Friend. It was one of a class which had become rather frequent of late, in which the Irish Members asked for the same justice that was extended to England, and he trusted it would be pressed to a division.


said, that when Sir Robert Peel refrained originally from extending the income tax to Ireland, additional taxation was imposed on stamps and spirits. Those charges had been maintained, although the income tax, since added, produced a revenue of £700,000.


begged to remind the House that the whole subject of Irish taxation had been referred to a Select Committee. It would, therefore, be unfair to deal separately with items of taxation in the manner proposed by the present Motion.


begged to remind the Government that in the English Estimates a sum of nearly £300,000 was included for the support of County Courts in England, whereas the whole expense of such costs in Ireland was paid out of fees.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 58: Majority 15.