HC Deb 13 June 1866 vol 184 cc343-59

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, that it proposed to effect an alteration of the Poor Law system in Ireland by substituting a union rating for the present mode of assessment by electoral divisions. This was no new principle, for the advisability and wisdom of the principle of a union rating for Ireland had already been affirmed by the House, and in the present Bill he was only endeavouring to restore to the Poor Law code the shape and form which it originally received in that House, but which it lost in another place by an Amendment introduced to effect an object which it had failed to accomplish. In the last Session of Parliament the Legislature had adopted the principle of union rating for England under circumstances and for reasons identical with those which led him to ask that the system should be extended to Ireland. It would be found that all the arguments used to-day against a union rating for Ireland would be the same that were urged last year against the Government Bill. From the reign of Elizabeth to the year 1834 the Poor Law system of England was exclusively parochial. With the parish as the area of Poor Law administration was associated the law of removal and settlement. The authors of the Poor Law Act of 1834 were in favour of union rating, but they were obliged to be content with the old system of parochial chargeability and taxation. In 1836 it was resolved that there should be a Poor Law for Ireland, and that the system adopted should be a workhouse system. Sir George Nicholls, an experienced English Poor Law Inspector, who was sent to Ireland, suggested unions on the model of those of England, and recommended that they should be the areas for all the purposes of administration, chargeability, and taxation. He also recommended that if the principle of settlement was adopted it should be as large as the limits of the union. In his Report he expressed a strong opinion that a parochial settlement in England had been productive of great mischief, and that it was not desirable to adopt it in Ireland. The Government of the day introduced the first Irish Poor Law Bill in 1838. In the shape in which it was introduced and passed the union was made the area for all purposes of rating. The Bill then went to another place, where it encountered the most determined opposition. It was discovered that unless an Amendment made by the other House of Parliament were adopted by the House of Commons the Bill would not pass. That House was thereupon obliged to retract its solemn decision, and to accept the principle of electoral subdivisions, the substitution of which as the area of taxation led to the utmost mischief. The electoral divisions were originally introduced into the Bill for the mere purpose of electing guardians for administering the affairs of the entire union. The avowed object of the alteration made in the Bill was to induce the local proprietors to support their own poor by employing them. In stating the objects of that alteration, the late Duke of Wellington deduced an argument in its favour from the working of the parochial system in England, under which each parish paid its own expenses; and it was clear from the way in which his Grace then used the word "parish," that no distinction was drawn between an electoral division and a parish. The law of removal, however, which formed part of the English system, was altogether omitted from the Irish Bill, and the local proprietors in Ireland having the unrestrained power of sending away the poor from their own electoral divisions, the only effectual safeguard for the good working of the electoral division system in the sense contemplated by its authors did not exist. It was said there was a difference between Ireland and England, in consequence of the larger size of the Irish electoral divisions and unions as compared with the English parishes and unions. Now, it might be that the unions and electoral divisions of Ireland, including as they often did many acres of waste lands, exceeded in mere superficial area the corresponding divisions in England; but in using the word "area" in that discussion they must take into account population and valuation as well as mere space. The average population of a union was in Ireland 35,000, and in England 30,000; while the average valuation of an English union was about £145,000, and that of an Irish union was £70,000 or £75,000. But even assuming that there was a disparity between the two, that did not constitute a difference of principle but only a difference of degree; and what he now contended for was that the area of taxation and the area of administration should be commensurate. The hon. Gentleman then proceeded to quote the opinion of Sir George Nicholls that the system of electoral divisions had not worked smoothly, that the principle of separate chargeability had produced struggles in Boards of Guardians, each division endeavouring to relieve itself from the burden of a registered pauper by shifting it to some other division, or to the union at large; while the labouring classes were removed from their natural and legitimate dwelling places. He also cited pas- sages from speeches delivered by the late President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Baines), and by his successor, describing the operation of the English system before the adoption of union rating, remarking that every word of them applied with equal force to the electoral divisions of Ireland. Speaking of the state of things in England in 1865, the present President of the Poor Law Board said it had always been a great object in particular parishes, in order to keep down the poor rates, to prevent the poor from residing in those parishes; and for that purpose their dwellings were pulled down, and no new cottages were built; that that was one way of what was called "managing a parish; "that the labourers were obliged to live in wretched dwellings, sometimes far from their work, and often more fit for brutes than for human beings; while the struggles of the different parishes to get rid of their poor gave rise to loud and long continued complaints of the capricious and unjust distribution of the burden of their maintenance. All those evils, engendered by the same causes, existed in Ireland. In 1838, when the Irish Poor Law Bill was about to pass, Mr. Lucas, afterwards Chief Secretary for Ireland, predicted that the Act would lead to what was called the clearing of estates from a superabundant population, which population would take refuge where it had the best chance of support. That prediction had been fully verified. No man had so thorough a knowledge of the condition of Ireland—particularly of the lower classes —than the late Sir Matthew Barrington had in 1844—himself a large landed proprietor, and a confidential adviser and manager of several of the most extensive landed proprietors of Ireland—and who wrote to Sir Robert Peel that the Irish landlords were rapidly clearing their estates in apprehension of the effects of the Poor Law. Such was the mischief and intolerable injustice inflicted on Ireland by reason of the law of 1838, giving the landowners in electoral divisions the power at their own caprice to get rid of their chargeability for paupers by sending them away into other electoral divisions, that in 1843 the Legislature had to pass an Act to correct those evils, and that new Act required that before a pauper could become chargeable to another electoral division than the one which had sent him away he should have resided in that other electoral division for a particular time. Subsequently attempts were made to amend the law, but they proved wholly ineffectual. He next came to the period of the potatoe blight of 1846, which had reduced the population of Ireland by one-third, changed the course of agriculture, altered the food of the people, and transferred the ownership of the soil in a great degree to a new class of proprietors. But that visitation and its consequences accelerated that process of clearing estates which Sir Matthew Barrington had previously described. In 1849, Lord Derby (then Lord Stanley), complained that a neighbouring proprietor in another electoral division had evicted 375 persons and had thrown them upon his property. Mr. James O'Connell, a large landed proprietor, in the South of Ireland, stated that the system of electoral divisions gave a premium and an encouragement, even before the days of the famine, to the depopulation of estates, and showed that it produced various other grave evils. That was the testimony of a gentleman who in a pecuniary point of view was largely interested in the maintenance of the present system, but who yet did not allow personal considerations to interfere with the view which he deemed it to be right to take with respect to its operation. To remedy the evils arising from the contraction of the area of taxation, it was contracted still further, the subdivisions of 1838 being made still smaller in 1850. And now he should like to ask, if the labouring population were retained in employment in the electoral divisions, where were they to be found? The fact was that one might travel for miles throughout the country without meeting with the residence of an agricultural labourer. Many of them, no doubt, had emigrated, and many had died, but he confidently asserted that they had also in large numbers, as was stated by Mr. O'Connell, flocked into the towns. In Limerick, for example, the assessment, which in 1851 was only 3s. 3d., amounted in 1865 to 3s. 9d.; and in the case of the electoral division of Dungarvan, which was separated by a stream from the rural division, numbers of persons crossed the stream, and were to the present hour a burden on the electoral division. The hon. Gentleman cited several other cases in illustration of his argument, and contended that much discontent would be excited among the labouring classes in Ireland if the advantages of the English system were not extended to that country. The effect of the existing system upon the labouring population in Ireland was, he added, in more respects than one, most injurious. The labourer was subjected to the hardship of having to go a long distance to his work, and instead of having his little cabin, miserable and devoid of cleanliness as it but too generally was, surrounded by the fresh country air, he was obliged to take up his abode amid all the abominations of a wretched lodginghouse in some towns. The consequences might be traced in the contrast which everybody familiar with Ireland must have observed between the healthy urchins whom he must have seen running out of the dirty hovels in the rural districts, and the wretched, sickly-looking children by whom the dismal alleys of the towns were crowded. In a moral and sanitary point of view, it was needless to say that the present system was open to the gravest objection, and he trusted, therefore, the House would not refuse to accede to the proposal which he deemed it to be his duty to make. He had been told that proposal was in contravention of a Resolution which had been passed by the Select Committee which sat in 1861, but he believed the subject of union rating had formed merely incidentally one of the questions which had come under the consideration of the Committee, while it would be found that it had been admitted by several of the witnesses before it, some of whom were in favour of and some against union rating, that the result of the present system was an undue pressure on the towns. The Committee agreed to a Resolution to the effect that union rating was not desirable, inasmuch as they were of opinion that the Act of Parliament extending the period of residence would result in the removal of that pressure. The fact was, however, that that Act had been in that respect totally inoperative, and, under all these circumstances, he trusted the House would assent to the second reading of the Bill, which he in conclusion begged leave to move.

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


gave the hon. and learned Gentleman full credit for very humane motives in bringing forward this Motion, but he did not think his views tended towards the regeneration of the country. In fact, judging from his speech the hon. and learned Member seemed to regret the old times in Ireland when the surface of the country was covered with a squalid, wretched population, dwelling not in houses but in huts, badly fed, badly clothed, badly paid, in a chronic state of misery and famine. These are the class of persons whom he compares with the English labourer, and whose disappearance he laments. He seems to think union rating would reproduce these blessings. The hon. Gentleman had given a long sketch of the origin of the Poor Law. He appealed to authority—to the authority of Sir George Nicholls, whose plan was union rating, and as the learned Gentleman had laid so much stress on authority, he (Mr. Gregory) would, by a few extracts, convince the House that from the commencement of the Poor Law up to the present time, all authority, all experience, all disinterested testimony, was in favour of the narrow area as being the cardinal point on which the efficient working of the system turned. When the Poor Law Bill was brought into the Lords, the Duke of Wellington, with that practical good sense which always distinguished him, laid it down as a sine quâ nonThat with the view to control expenses, to induce proprietors to give employment, to exercise constant supervision, it was necessary that the strict area of the English parish should be the area of the new Irish Poor Law. The same views were entertained by Sir James Graham, who, in a debate on the Irish Poor Law in 1847, quoted the words of Mr. Gulson, the senior Poor Law Inspector of England. Sir James Graham, although an advocate for union rating in England, strongly opposed the same system in Ireland. Mr. Gulson, writing from Drogheda in 1843, says— There are incalculable advantages at work with reference to the care exercised on electoral divisions, both by guardians, ratepayers, and landlords, which would cease when their interest no longer prompted them to exertion. I see work offered even by the agent and by the ratepayers interested in a particular electoral division, solely because the man and his family would otherwise be applicants at the workhouse. It not unfrequently happens at the Boards in my district, on a man applying, that the warden says he will find the applicant work in the electoral district at fair wages; and I often find the guardians exerting themselves legitimately to find employment for those who would otherwise be destitute, because, if taken into the workhouse, the persons would be charged upon the ratepayers of the division. Throughout my district the large farmers, and the guardians, and the agents, are very active in keeping down the expenses of their several divisions, and I constantly in private hear them consulting as to the best mode of employing the people rather than let them go into the workhouse. If the electoral divisions were done away with all this stimulus would cease. This is the opinion of one Poor Law Inspector, shortly after the introduction of the Poor Law. We shall find it corroborated by Mr. Senior, the Poor Law Commissioner, and Mr. Briscoe, a gentleman, also Inspector, of the Poor Law, who had, at the time of his evidence, as much experience as any living man. At the first starting of the system the unions were of immense extent, and the electoral districts no less unwieldy; but the system was new, and the inconveniences of the large area were not felt. But when the famine came on, at once arose a demand for the small area. Throughout the whole of Ireland, from Radical and Conservative, from Catholic and Protestant, from parson and from priest, went forth the cry that property should be responsible for the poverty found on it; that the improving landlord should have his reward, and the unimproving, neglectful landlord should receive his penalty. Taxation and responsibility were to be co-extensive; the smallest area possible, the unit of territorial division— namely, the townland—was demanded as the area of taxation; and so strong was the feeling, and so irresistible the argument, that in 1848 Sir George Grey appointed the Boundary Commission to reduce the size of unions and of electoral divisions. In their first Report the Boundary Commissioners state that the unions in the North and East of Ireland were much smaller, and consequently better managed, than those formed in the South and West. They proposed to reduce the unions and to found fifty new unions; and, speaking of the electoral divisions of the day, and of extending the area of rating, they say— The expenditure would be divested of the necessary supervision and control, precisely in proportion as the district was larger. Two years after this, in the 8th Report of the Poor Law Commissioners of 1850, we find the opinions of the Boundary Commissioners confirmed. The Poor Law Commissioners speak of the moderation of the rate where the area is small. They say— In fact, the very magnitude of the rateable district has been represented to us, and with very great reason, as one of the causes which has led to the pressure on the rates from the laxity which has been introduced by it. In the same Report the Poor Law Commissioners say— On the other hand, it is stated that the towns have but little control over the increasing num- bers chargeable upon them, from the facility with which settlements are obtained by paupers evicted from the country and received into small lodgings and tenements of persons who make a profit by the lodgings they let. It cannot be denied that the influx of these persons is a hardship on the more wealthy householders, but it would be a yet greater hardship on the farmers residing at a considerable distance from the town if they were to be taxed for their support, as there can be no doubt that however poor these persons may be, their admittance arises from the immediate profit derived from them, rather than from motives of benevolence. We thus bring the universal testimony of all official, and consequently disinterested, authority up to 1850, against enlarging the area. The controversy as to union rating in England rested on a totally different basis. The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the circumstances and the principles of union rating in Ireland was identical with those in England; and he read long passages from the speeches of the President of the Poor Law Board condemning the system of close parishes in England, and the hardships resulting from them. He spoke of landlords combining to prevent erection of labourers' cottages—of driving labourers from their legitimate dwellings, and bringing them from long distances to their work. These were the English grievances; and so strong did he (Mr. Gregory) feel them that he voted for union rating in England. But in Ireland things were totally different. Who ever heard of close parishes in Ireland? Who ever heard of combinations to prevent erection of labourers' cottages? Why, a totally different procedure was going on. Landlords, instead of getting rid of labourers, were attracting them by building good substantial dwellings, and obtaining Government loans for that purpose. If labourers go to their work from distances, it chiefly arises from the fact that labour has to be sought for from far and near in many parts of Ireland, and the labourer comes from a distance— not because he has been expelled, but because he has always lived at a distance. He (Mr. Gregory) could not, with the time of closing so rapidly advancing, go into the reasons why the law of settlement and irremovability rendered union rating necessary in England, but they were providentially untrammelled by those laws in Ireland. But, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, in trying to get over the decision of the Committee of 1861, which stood in his way, the union rating question was only touched on incidentally in that Committee. He (Mr. Gregory) was a member of the Committee, and the question was considered with quite as much attention and prominence as it deserved. Many most intelligent and experienced witnesses were examined, and so strong was the bulk of testimony in favour of the electoral division system that Mr. Cardwell, then Secretary for Ireland—a gentleman of great authority, and one who would weigh questions of this kind gravely and fully—proposed this Resolution to the Committee— That several witnesses have recommended the substitution of union for divisional rating; but that it is not desirable to alter the present law. The hon. Member for Cork moved, as an Amendment, That, as divisional rating has operated prejudicially, it was just and expedient that the area of rating should be extended to unions. This was rejected by ten to three. The three were—Sir John Arnott, Mr. Maguire, and Mr. Waldron; on the other side were three Irish Secretaries—Mr. Cardwell, Lord Naas, and the late Mr. Herbert, whose loss every Irishman had reason to deplore. There were the representatives of the counties of Limerick, Kerry, Mayo, Wexford, Galway, Tyrone, Kildare, Dublin City, and Newry. He (Mr. Gregory) would pair off Dublin and Newry with Kinsale and Dungarvan, and there were seven representatives of counties against one. Now he came to the specific allegations of the learned Member. He alleged the unfairness of making towns support rural pauperism; he hinted that landlords got rid of tenants knowing that the burden of their support would fall on others and not on them. Now about the unfairness. Who pays the rates? The landlord. He (Mr. Gregory) did not refer to the mode in which they were collected; but on whom did they ultimately fall? Of course on the landlord. But who gained by the increase of the town population? The owners of the town. The houses were set at increased rents. The land adjoining the town was let in small plots at exorbitant rents to these labourers, who must have a portion of land to raise potatoes for their existence. It is these labourers which do the work of the town, and without them the town could not get on, and their expenditure supports the small tradesmen. But he denied in toto that rural pauperism was at present flocking into the towns. No doubt they might find plenty of beggars in the town, but they have been born and raised there. He agreed that in the famine year the towns had a grievance, but that was nearly twenty years ago, and the population uprooted by the famine had long since been absorbed in various manners. No one could contend that they have ever since remained upon the rates. The two strong cases always alleged in favour of union rating have been Cork and Limerick. At the Committee of 1861 the hon. Member for Cork summoned witnesses to prove the hardships of these towns, but other witnesses came also; and what did it turn out? Why, that the pauperism which swelled the electoral districts of Cork and Limerick cities was not rural pauperism at all. Mr. Sarsfield, who had been vice-chairman of Cork Union for eight or nine years, showed that the pauper population of the City of Cork are persons going to England, coming from England, persons connected with the army, and so on; but he gave a little further insight into the nature of the grievance. Mr. Sarsfield was asked this question— There has been a good deal of evidence given with respect to establishing union rating instead of electoral division rating. What is your opinion of such a change? — I am decidedly in favour of electoral division rating. The large town of Cork is the cause of a great deal more destitution than the rural districts. I find there are charged to the Cork electoral division 1,058 persons. I find there are charged to the rural districts 207. I find in the general union charge there are 1,338 persons. Now, it is well known that the valuation of the City of Cork is very much under the real valuation, and decidedly not in proportion to the valuation of the rural districts. In this kind of way, though a rate of 2s. in the pound appears a heavy rate on the city, if the valuation were, as it ought to be, in proportion to the valuation of the rural districts, that would appear to be but 1s. 6d. Mr. Sarsfield goes on to say— I brought this subject two or three times before the guardians. I spoke of the injustice of it, and one of the gentlemen, who certainly understands the question very well, said he was always saying to the advocates of change—'You had better hold your tongue on this point; it is the same thing to us. Although we nominally pay what appears to be a high rate, it is not in reality so,' and he added—'We save it in the income tax.' Mr. Sarsfield showed that 600 persons on the union at large came from other unions; and out of the 2,603 paupers only 207 were from the rural electoral divisions. He also showed that from the heavy union charges the county electoral divisions were nearly as heavily taxed as the city. In short, a county rate or a national rate could alone reach the case. It was the city which affected the county districts, and not the county the city. Then came the case of Limerick—complaints of immense numbers of paupers coming in from rural districts on the city electoral division. Mr. O'Halloran, a man of great experience as guardian and vice-guardian of Bantry and Gort Unions, did not resort to assertion and declaration but went thoroughly into the cases. Great complaints had been urged before the Committee by a city guardian as to the immense number of pupers thrown on the electoral division of Limerick; but Mr. O'Halloran, who was also a guardian, and who had been a vice-guardian over the Bantry and Gort Union, and who consequently had a head on his shoulders, previous to appearing before the Committee examined all these paupers, and it appeared that on the 13th April, 1860, there were 996 paupers charged to the electoral division of the city of Limerick. Of these 996 there were only eighteen who had held land in any part of the union or anywhere else within the last twenty years. In fact, there were only eighteen who came from the country at all. So much for the allegations of the learned Member that the country throws off its pauperism on the towns. It was said, moreover, that this electoral policy is the cause of evictions—that it makes landlords to evade the responsibility of the support of small occupiers when invalided or impoverished. Now, nothing but the most invincible ignorance could dictate such an observation. Do away with electoral rating and then, indeed, landlords will have the inducement of saddling the results of their own mismanagement and neglect on the backs of others. Now, the Committee of 1861 took this circumstance into consideration. They were desirous of making property still more responsible for its pauperism than it was before. They acted on the advice of Mr. Senior, and passed a resolution— That an extension from three to five years (with a minimum residence of two years in some one division) of the time which suffice to make the pauper chargeable to the electoral division, instead of to the union at large, would tend to remove undue pressure imposed on town electoral divisions from any sudden increase occasioned by the gravitation of pauperism towards the more populous districts. This resolution became embodied in the Poor Law Act of 1862, and it is perfectly clear to every one who can read and use his reasoning faculties that with union rating there can be no penalty on eviction; with divisional rating there is a lasting penalty—the obligation to pay for the evicted. The eviction part of the story is clearly disposed of, for nothing can be more manifest, that if you resort to union rating, whatever inducement the landlord may now have to give employment, in order to avoid supporting the poor on his own division, would instantly cease, and a premium and advantage would be given to eviction. Then as to the hardship of the disproportion of rates that one electoral division should only pay 6d. or 7d. and another 2s. 6d. As regards the towns, as had been already shown, if they pay in meal they are repaid in malt; and as to the disproportions of the other electoral divisions, they arise simply from this, that in those which are taxed heavily, landlords and agents have neglected their duty, and encouraged a miserable pauper population; in those which are taxed lightly, they have done their duty, and are meeting with their reward. So much for the arguments against electoral rating. Now let him (Mr. Gregory) urge a few which were to his mind irresistible in its favour. First of all, it is the means of a close and efficient management of the union. Every guardian elected for a division considers it his duty closely to scrutinize and investigate all that concerns the division. Remove that incentive, extend the area to the union, and you remove with it that responsibility without which an Irish union cannot be worked. What would be the result? The farmers would absent themselves, the board would fall into the hands of a town clique, and when we reflect on the length, depth, and breadth of the inveterate propensity of Irish boards and bodies to jobbing, unless restrained by the strongest checks, he could only foresee the worst results from the removal of those checks; and the effect of the Bill would be not to lower the rates on towns, but to raise the rating on the rural districts to the level of the towns, and so do away with one of the main inducements to improve the condition of the poor and of the county by giving employment. Now, to his astonishment, he had heard it denied that the effect of electoral rating was to give employment to the poverty of the division. But read the evidence of Mr. O'Halloran. What is his experience?

Mr. Monsell: Will you state your objections to union rating?—One of the first objections is, that it would tend to destroy the individual exertions of each guardian by taking away the incentive to attending to the interests and affairs of each electoral district. There is now an anxiety on the part of the guardians to attend to the affairs of each electoral division, because they feel it will keep down the rates. What is your opinion with regard to the effect of electoral division rating in encouraging owners of land and farmers in the different divisions to give employment, and keep people in that way from the workhouse?—I know that in the electoral divisions there is always an anxiety both on the part of proprietors, and on the part of landowners to give employment to keep down the rates. I know of many cases of the kind. Mr. Stewart, Chairman of Letterkenny Union for fifteen years, was asked his views on union rating.

I think the individualizing of the responsibility in small electoral divisions is the great and beneficial principle of the Poor Law now, because I as a landlord have to pay for my poor; I would, therefore, much sooner employ them on my farm than pay for them in the workhouse. The present system of electoral division rating is an incentive to give employment to the poor?— No doubt of it; I know it does do it; a farmer when he has a pauper on his electoral division inquires if the man is able to do work, and if able-bodied he will employ him himself. That occurs before our board almost weekly; if we have able-bodied paupers, the moment it is known a pauper is able to work he is taken out of the workhouse. Mr. Briscoe, who had been chairman of the Carrick Board, vice-guardian of two or three unions, Poor Law Inspector till 1852, and latterly general superintendent of poor in Scotland, stated that from his experience, both of Ireland and Scotland a small area is better for supervision, and the better the care taken of the poor. This fact should not be lost sight of by Liberal Members. This was entirely corroborated by his own experience. He (Mr. Gregory) had been a Poor Law Guardian for nearly eighteen years, he had been chairman of his own union, and he could state from his own personal experience, and from his own action, that continually his tenants and himself had combined to relieve the electoral divisions in which they were interested of every pauper that could work. In other cases he had known farmers and landlords to combine to take every pauper off the rates, and to confine the division to establishment and union charges, but he scarcely ever could recollect the slightest anxiety to employ union paupers. The taxation created by them was relatively small, and consequently the interest taken in them was relatively small also. Now, this reference to the united action of landlord and farmer brought up what appeared to him a weighty consideration in connection with this question. It was acknowledged by all persons, that if union rating be established, the elected guardians of the rural districts will cease to attend. They would have no strong incentive to attend, and would naturally be unwilling to give up a day to business in which they had comparatively speaking so little interest. The union work would, therefore, fall into the hands of the town guardians and the magistrates. Indeed, he (Mr. Gregory) had heard some persons strongly urge union rating because it would place the union in the hands of the landlords. Now he deeply deprecated such a contingency. He objected strongly to any course leading to such an end. There was great good in the present system. It gave a training in public business to the farmer classes in Ireland which is invaluable. The landlord and tenant met on terms of perfect equality at the same board. Measures of common interest are thoroughly discussed—both classes get to understand each other better than before, and not merely is union business discussed, but after the work is done questions of general interest, local and political, are continually discussed in a most friendly spirit. This unreserved communication does good to both the landlord and the farmer. Prejudices, if they are not removed, are understood, and he, speaking from his own experience, had seen the greatest benefit from these weekly meetings. It would be a very untoward day when the frieze-coated farmer ceased to ride into the workhouse to do battle for his division. Well, then, believing as he did that union rating would diminish responsibility, would equalize the bad and the good landlord, by taking the reward from the one and the penalty from the other; that it would be an incentive to jobbing, would be an encouragement to eviction, would promote extravagance by lessening individual interest, and would raise the rates throughout the country; and feeling convinced that the general voice of Ireland was opposed to this endeavour to relieve the town at the expense of the country population, he would move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.


in seconding the Amendment, remarked that the whole argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman who introduced the Bill was based on the idea that the law of settlement and removal existed in Ireland, whereas such had never been the case, and he hoped never would be. It was all very well to talk of assimilating the laws of the two countries, but surely the worse should be assimilated to the better, and he maintained that the Irish law was vastly superior to the English, for the excellent system of medical charities which existed across the Channel, contrasted most favourably with the disgraceful way in which the sick poor were treated in this country, of which there had recently been such horrible revelations.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.