HC Deb 21 July 1875 vol 225 cc1768-96

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that Irish Members had been often told that if they were to devote their attention to real grievances, Parliament would not only give them a hearing, but afford them redress. The subject with which this Bill dealt was a grievance of great hardship and long standing. Years before he had a seat in the House, it had occupied his attention as a Guardian of the Poor, and many cases of cruelty and oppression had come under his notice which he felt it was the bounden duty of the Imperial Parliament to correct. In March, 1871, he introduced a similar Bill, and then, as now, found it impossible to obtain an early day for its discussion. He then put an abstract Resolution on the Paper, but, though he was first in order, his Scotch Friends took care to have the House counted out. In the same year, he put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), the then President of the Poor Law Board, as to whether the Government intended to act upon the repeated promises they had made, and thereupon the right hon. Gentleman gave an undertaking in that House, that during the then approaching Recess the heads of the three Departments, England, Ireland, and Scotland, would meet and consider what remedy should be applied to the complaints and wrongs which arose from the removal of these poor persons to Ireland. The object proposed to be secured by the measure was to amend the law by which Boards of Guardians in England and Parochial Boards in Scotland could remove to Ireland persons born in that country and their wives and children, who might have received relief from the poor rate. The Act in England which he sought to repeal was the Act of 1849, which enacted that any two magistrates might make an order for the removal of any person, whether Irish or Scotch, or even in the Channel Islands, from the place where they had received relief to their native parish. That law led to a great deal of oppression and cruelty, and in 1856 an Act was passed rendering a pauper irremovable, provided that he had resided five years in a particular parish. In 1859, after an inquiry by a Select Committee, the residence was reduced to three years, and, in 1865, the period of residence was reduced to one, and the area of residence extended from the parish to the Union. Thus, an Irishman after receiving relief in any Union in England in which he had been resident for 12 months became irremovable. But he obtained no settlement, and if he had not resided for 12 months in the Union in which he was relieved, he lost the protection of the law. He had known men who had spent their whole lives, from five years to 60 years of age, in this country, who had lived 20 years in the Union, and 10 years in one parish, and who had yet been sent back to Ireland in their old age. The Irish pauper in Scotland was still worse off. There the law was that a man must have resided five years in the same parish before he was irremovable; but he lost his right to protection if within the next five years he changed his residence, and did not live for a year in the parish to which he had removed. He asked if it was right that, in this United Kingdom, an Irishman who had spent a considerable part of his life in Scotland, and who might have to go from one part of the country to another in order to obtain work should be obliged to reside five years in one particular parish before he obtained protection? With regard to the cruelty and inhumanity involved in these removals, he would refer the House to the opinions of Adam Smith, Mr. Pitt, and Sir Robert Peel, who had all spoken in opposition to them, and further he would remark upon their uselessness, for in nine cases out of ten they were made in vain, because the persons removed found their way back. When the father and mother were separated from their children, they were sure to come back, and if they had not the means the charity of the Irish people would supply them. It might be said that the hardship of which he complained existed within Scotland only, as between the Highlands and the Lowlands; but that was no reason why he should wish for the further extension of a bad law. He believed that, what between litigation and the expenses of removal, the cost of the present system was greater than would be that of an equitable system of removal. They had no power in Ireland to send an Englishman back to the place of his birth, and if they wished to maintain the Union they should apply the same law to all the Three Kingdoms. One of the great objections to a change in the present law was, that it might lead to an influx of Irish paupers into Liverpool and other great towns; but he proposed to meet that objection by the Bill before the House, which consisted, he might say, of a single clause, the principles of which he had adopted from a speech made by Lord Palmerston in 1854. It was to the effect that if a person should have maintained himself for 12 months by some industrial occupation. in England, Wales, or Scotland, he should be incapable of removal. What he maintained was, that if a man came over to this country bonâ fide with the view of giving it his labour, he should be irremovable. When Mr. Baines was at the Poor Law Board, in 1854, he brought in a Bill to abolish removal in England and Wales, and he pointed out that in one year there had been 16,047 persons removed. The Bill would have readily passed; but it was defeated, as he hoped other Bills would be, because it did not do justice to Ireland. A deputation of Irish Members waited on Lord Palmerston, then Home Secretary, and he said that the Memorial which they had presented had been taken into consideration by the Cabinet, who were of opinion that the case was irresistible, and that the wishes of the Irish Members ought to be complied with. But Mr. Baines, offended that such an answer should have been given without his being consulted, resigned, and the Bill was withdrawn. Removals to Ireland often occurred within half-an-hour of the time when the order for removal had been signed, the head of the family being sent on board the vessel at once and the family sent afterwards. In the eight years between 1846 and 1854 no fewer than 41,735 removals had occurred from England to Ireland, many of them under very distressing circumstances. If a pauper who had been removed returned to this country, he was liable to be imprisoned for two months with hard labour. The statistics of the number of removals from one Union to another and from one district to another, at a great cost and under circumstances which caused great suffering to the families thus treated, showed that Irishwomen who had married in England, and all of whose children had been born in England, were taken forcibly, threatened with handcuffs if they resisted, and sent to Ireland, merely because their husbands happened to be absent seeking for work, and the wife applied for assistance in the Union or parish where they were resident. He contended that the authorities had in many of these cases entirely set aside the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench in separating wives from their husbands and children from their fathers. These poor people were sent over to Ireland, and nothing was known about the warrant of removal until they arrived at the place to which they were sent. He submitted that it was most cruel and unjust to transport them in this manner, without allowing them to appeal against the orders for their removal, as had been done, notwithstanding the continued remonstrances of the Irish Poor Law Commissioners. Mary Hoggan, the wife of a marine serving on board one of Her Majesty's ships, with four children, had been removed from the Greenwich Union to the Skibbereen Union, in the county of Cork. Her case was brought before the Board of Guardians, and the particular attention of the Poor Law Commissioners was directed to it. She was sent back with her family to England, and there they remained, their removal having been illegal, under the decision of the Queen's Bench, to which he had referred. But the law in Scotland was still worse. Not only were Irishmen who had spent 20 or 30 years in Scotland, creating the wealth of her citizens, removed to Ireland when they became chargeable, but the inmates of lunatic asylums were, against law and remonstrance, sent over manacled to some Union workhouse in Ireland without notice and without any power of appeal against removal. There was no remedy in such a case. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the late Lord Advocate of Scotland, when appealed to on the subject, and reminded of the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench, admitted the fact, but added that he thought the decision of the Judges in 1869 was rather a straining of the Act, and that if the question were tried in the Scotch Courts, he believed the decision would be different. What benefit could England or Scotland derive from such a law? Six out of seven of those removed from England to Ireland found their way back. Of 156 sent over from Scotland, only 36 were now in the workhouse. Where had the remainder gone? They certainly were not dead. In the City of Dublin Asylum there were 19 lunatics from England and seven from Scotland, some of whom had been maintained there for 40 years at an expense of £21 per annum. But Scotland under the Poor Removal Act had, in some recent cases, sent over to Ireland dangerous lunatics in manacles. In one ease a lunatic, a blind man, sent over manacled, had found his way back. It was impossible to denounce too strongly the evils arising from the law of removal and settlement, which ought, as soon as possible, to be removed from the Statute Book, and if the people of England were aware of the evils inflicted under it, inhuman as it was, it would not continue in existence for two years. It was most unjust to the people of Ireland without conferring any benefit whatever on this country. He thought he had proved the existence of a great grievance, and trusted that the House would show to the people of Ireland that whenever a grievance really existed it was prepared to remove it. He begged to move the second reading of the Bill.

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


, in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day three months, said, he felt that the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) had made an able speech from his point of view, but it was necessary to look at the question from a statesmanlike view—that was, through hard facts. He was satisfied that the question demanded prompt attention on the part of the Government. It was not equitable or just that there should be one law for Scotland and another for Ireland, and he felt that the Irish Members had a great cause of complaint in the fact that Ireland was not able to send to England and Scotland Scotch or English paupers. He did not propose to go very thoroughly into the question of settlement. He was prepared to advocate reforms which would allow Ireland to send back to Scotland the Scotch paupers, and so far to assimilate the law of the two countries; but to propose a law to the disparagement of Scotland and England, and wholly in favour of Ireland, would be not only unfair, but simply monstrous. At the same time, he hoped the question would not escape the attention of the Government, and that there would be submitted to Parliament some comprehensive scheme by which the law of settlement and removal would be placed on some satisfactory footing. The law at present was so varied and complicated that there could be no doubt that some great questions of grievances and hardship similar to those which the hon. and learned Member brought before the notice of the House must exist. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the differences in the law of Scotland, England, and Ireland on the question. There were discrepancies more remarkable than any that had been alluded to. He need not trouble the House with the law of Ireland, but the Bill under consideration took into no account the inequalities and distinctions in the various Acts, but attempted to legislate as if Ireland alone was concerned; it did not recognize the existing laws of Scotland and England. The Proviso in the Bill in reference to the 12 months' residence had been interpreted to meet the case of persons going over to Scotland with a bonâ fide intention of getting work. But that matter would have to be far more fully explained than it was by the present Bill before any Government could entertain an idea of dealing with it. What was an industrial occupation? It would cause some amusement to the House, if that point were gone into. Was an industrial occupation the selling of lucifer matches, or did it consist in a man adopting the guise of a minstrel, and going about and collecting a few pence? Or, possibly, it might be that some Irish vagrant might be industriously employed where he practised those arts of quackery in medicine of which they had recently read in the newspapers. In his opinion, the Bill was very much more comprehensive than was generally supposed on either side of the House; for he thought its effect would be, if it were passed, that the Irishman on reaching Scotland would import Irish law with him, and instead of requiring a five years' residence to obtain a settlement, he would, after a 12 months' residence, be entitled to claim relief, not in any particular parish, but in any part of the country. He would, therefore, just look at the principal facts connected with the question. The relief system in Ireland was totally different from that of Scotland, and in many respects he thought it was a great deal better. He conceived that they had in. Scotland the very worst form of poor relief, because the paupers were generally relieved on the out-door system. The Irish system was, on the contrary, almost entirely one of workhouse relief. In Scotland, on the contrary, they had sometimes a workhouse very little used by the generality of the parishes belonging to a Union. What was the consequence? Their poor in Scotland were, he was afraid, on the increase, but he believed it was found to be otherwise in Ireland. But, again, the workhouse system in Ireland was much more efficiently and economically managed than in Scotland, and the diet of a pauper was not attended to in Ireland with the same degree of lavish expenditure that it was in Scotland. As he understood it, meat was never thought of in the Irish workhouses. He had seen something of the management of workhouses in Scotland, and there they were very particular in the meat tenders for the paupers. No out-door relief being given in Ireland, and the dietary in Scotland being of a superior kind, it followed that Irish paupers were very glad to have some excuse to go over to Scotland, and when they got there to stop there. No wonder there was an anxious desire on the part of the Irish Members to get rid of Poor Law removal, because, if Irish harvestmen and people of that kind went over to Scotland and stayed there three months, there was no doubt that they would remain in the country to the end of their days. Harvestmen were sometimes brought over for the small sum of 1s., and that was another argument against the withdrawal of the Poor Law Removal Act. Let them take the not very improbable case of a woman with a family, who might on some pretext as to harvesting cross over to Scotland, and there remain, acquire a residence, and marry a man who might have no residence, she would no doubt, be dependent upon his mode of procuring existence as long as he lived. But supposing anything happened to him, what would become of the woman? That woman in Scotland would be a pauper the rest of her days, but by the law they could send her back to her parish in Ireland, and they would be relieved of her altogether. He believed a great number of hon. Members sympathized with him when he stated that Scotland was quite prepared to take her poor people back from Ireland, and he would be very glad to support any Bill brought in with that object; but to say they were to have upon their hands any Irish after 12 months' residence in Scotland was neither fair nor just. If they were, it would open a door very widely for the purpose of imposing a very unfair and unjust burden on the poor rate of Scotland. A great deal had been said by his hon. and learned Friend opposite as to the extreme hardship and cruelty of the law in its operation. Let him put before the House the real facts. In England a warrant signed by two justices of the peace was quite sufficient to secure removal, while the medical practitioner on his conscience gave a medical certificate. In Scotland the arrangements were, like those in England, devoid of anything to justify a charge of hardship. The persons were sent to the parish or Union, whichever the Scotch authorities thought most expedient. A copy of the order for removal was sent to the Board of Guardians, and the master of the workhouse received notice and was compelled to receive paupers. In order to provide against extreme hardship, children under 14 years of age were not to be removed between October 1 and March 31. That was the great cruelty which his hon. Friend inveighed against. He held in his hand a number of letters from different parts of the country stating what would happen if the present law were abrogated. Take the case of Liverpool. He had a return furnished to him by the clerk of the Select Vestry of the Poor Law Guardians of the parish of Liverpool. The number of paupers removed in 1870 was 119; in 1871, 57; in 1872, 81; in 1873, 50; and in 1874, 105. Liverpool contained a population of more than 100,000 Irishmen, and in the parish in which he understood the greatest number of them resided, in five years the returns gave a total of 412 persons removed to Ireland. In nine years there had been 1,168 removals, and as there had been 412 in the, last five years, there were in the previous five, 756. From that fact he gathered that the number now being sent over was very materially diminishing. As to the cases of hardship, it might be proved that the grievances were more imaginative than real. It was stated as a grievance that people had not been long in Liverpool before they were seized and sent off to Ireland at once. There were good reasons for such a course. He would give several. First, a vast number of pregnant women came to Liverpool for the purpose of getting into the workhouse there to be confined. Was it desirable that those women should be kept in Liverpool merely to increase the rates when they had their own parish to go to? Then, again, destitute persons in large numbers came over at the instigation of the agents of mendicity societies in Dublin and other large towns, and would it be wise and expedient that the Poor Law Guardians of Liverpool should retain such persons to swell the rates of that town? Again, there were many men and women who arrived at Liverpool under the pretence of finding work. They did not come over to work, they did not want work and would not work, and their object was to patrol the streets and wander about the country. The Liverpool Board of Guardians had accurate knowledge of many cases, and as the law stood they were justified in acting upon it and in sending these persona back to Dublin as soon as they reached Liverpool. Returns from other places also showed a gradual diminution in the number of removals, while from many parts of Scotland there had been none at all, and these facts suggested that the grievances of Ireland were to some extent more imaginary than real. He would mention a few further facts in regard to the removals from the capital of the North. During the last five years 132 had been removed to Ireland; in the last eight years the number was 408. That showed that the law was not carried out with the intentional severity with which they had been led to suppose it was carried out. He would now take Glasgow, a place with a enormous population; in fact, it contained one-fifth of the inhabitants of Scotland. On the authority of the Chairman of the City Parochial Board and chairmen of other bodies, he would give a few figures. They said that not fewer than 25 per cent of the paupers were natives of Ireland or their descendants, and that the influx of Irish was actually pauperizing the country. In 1873 some 75 persons were removed, and last year the number was 41, but of the 75 there were no fewer than 10 lunatic poor, and of the 41 nine were lunatic poor. From Greenock during the last five years about 50 paupers had been removed. During the last five years there had been 25 persons removed from Paisley, where there was an enormously dense population. A gentleman of great practical intelligence, who had had a long experience of the question, told him that if the Bill became law—"The workhouses in Ireland would become vacant, and the poor rates in Scotland doubled." In another place only two cases of removal had taken place for many years, while in Dalbeattie and other boroughs he found no cases at all. He wished to quote the opinion of a clergyman of good position living in a large parish at a place nearest to Ireland. The clergyman had always taken a deep interest in the Irish poor. What did he say? He said that the Irish element was the chief cause of the pauperism at present, and seeing— That we are making every effort to improve our condition, I hope we shall have no legislation which shall make us worse than we are now. He might mention that in Liverpool the cost of removal was 35s. a-head. The great distinction between Scotch paupers and Irish paupers with reference to this question was that the latter, unless they were forcibly removed from Scotland, would not go back to Ireland; while the Scotchmen did not go over to Ireland. There had been two or three fruitless attempts at legislation on this subject. In 1863 a Bill was brought in which proposed to enact that paupers should not be removed after a residence of six months. In 1871 another Bill was brought in which would have prevented English Boards of Guardians from removing any Irish pauper back to Ireland. The present Bill was an improvement on those measures; but he could not suppose that the House would adopt the measure as it stood, for by it there was not the smallest doubt they would increase local rates. It would be unjust in its operation, it would not be beneficial to Ireland, while most certainly it would be most injurious to Scotland. He begged to move the rejection of the Bill.

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


said, he had failed to gather any reason for rejecting this Bill from the speech of the hon. Member who had moved the Amendment (Mr. Mark Stewart). He was quite certain that if Irish Boards of Guardians had the power of sending Scotch paupers back to Scotland, they would scorn to use it. It had been said that what filled Scotland with Irish paupers was, that in Ireland no out-door relief was given, and that consequently the Irish poor were attracted to Scotland by the more liberal treatment which they there received. He could only say that such a statement did not accord with the popular estimate of the Scotch character and institutions. It was a mistake, also, to say that no out-door relief was given in Ireland; he was acquainted with the practice in many Poor Law Unions in the South and West of Ireland, and he knew that they gave out-door relief to a great extent, and if the object of the Irish pauper was to get out-door relief he could obtain it by staying at home. He supported the principle of the Bill, because it had for its object the removal of the most flagrant cause of complaint which the people of Ireland had against their English and Scotch fellow-subjects. The injustice was indeed so palpable, that it did not require much proof, and he had hoped that the plain and patent merits of a Bill which removed the injustice would have recommended it to the House, so that it would have passed without opposition, and that no one would have advocated a continuance of such arbitrary and unjust power. When a man had been wasted by labour and when he had enriched by his toil his Scotch employers, they liked to retain the power of sending him back to the land of his birth. If he supported this Bill on the ground of justice, it was also necessary on sanitary grounds. The power of sending back Irish paupers to Ireland was one of the causes of the fatal outbreak of small-pox in that country in 1871, from which no fewer than 647 deaths resulted. It had been proved that that terrible disease had been imported into Belfast from Liverpool by an Irish pauper named Wilson, who was afflicted with it, and was sent over to Ireland by the power vested in the English Poor Law Guardians. Up to that time, the district of Belfast—and, in fact, the whole of Ireland—had been remarkably free from disease. Another reason why the Bill should be accepted was, that it would do away with the application to Ireland of the most objectionable provisions in the English law of settlement. That law gave the Poor Law Guardians an arbitrary and unconstitutional power of interference with personal liberty which no other body could exercise save in the case of crime, and he did not think that either the public or the House of Commons were prepared to regard poverty and destitution in that light. For these reasons he hoped that the House would read the Bill a second time, thereby affirming its principle, but leaving itself open to deal with the details hereafter in such manner as might appear most advisable.


hoped the House would not be persuaded to go into the Lobby on the Amendment of the hon. Member for the Wigton Burghs (Mr. Mark Stewart), and that the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would not press his Motion to a division. He could not agree with the hon. Member for the Wigton Burghs that such an alteration of the law as that proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Cork would be a kind of barbarian legislation. It should be remembered that there was now no superabundance of labour either in this country or Scotland, and that, on the contrary, there was a demand for Irish labour both in this country and Scotland. He thought his hon. and learned Friend had clearly proved the existence of a grievance, though perhaps a diminishing one, and had indicated an object which should meet with general support. Although thus sympathizing with the general purpose of the Bill, he could not support it in its present shape, on account of the defective machinery it provided, and he did not think that any amendment of it would fit it at present for the purpose at which his hon. and learned Friend aimed. His hon. and learned Friend did not touch either the law of settlement or the law of removability; but he proposed so to alter the law as, while it would not disturb the relations between the Unions, would introduce and establish a new law as between England and Ireland and Scotland. He (Mr. Stansfeld) should be disposed to look at the Bill as a measure relating to a mode of redressing a grievance rather than a Bill for the purposes indicated in his speech; and he thought the House would agree with him that the difference of the law in the three countries upon the subject made it a question of such magnitude and complexity that it ought only to be taken up by the Government; and he therefore again hoped his hon. and learned Friend would not press the second reading. The simplest solution of the question would be in the total abolition of settlement and removability, and Mr. Baines introduced a Bill for accomplishing those objects. On the question of the abolition of the law of settlement there was considerable difference of opinion, and he must say there was a growing feeling and opinion in the country in favour of its abolition, but as far as his observation went the feeling was not yet general. It was argued that the existence of the law of removability operated as a rough test of pauperism, and the operation of the law as a deterrent and as a test was not to be measured by the number of removals, but by the number of applications for relief that were withdrawn in consequence of the threat to put the law in force. In that way it was regarded as of considerable value; but notwithstanding that assertion, it was found to operate with great harshness. His hon. and learned Friend was right in saying the administration of the Poor Law in Ireland was stricter than in this country. If they looked at the operation of law in this country, and allowed an Irishman to remain without interruption wherever they might see him, that would tend to what he might call a delocalization of the Poor Law, and render it national, and although there was a growing feeling in favour of irremovability, he felt that the time was not yet arrived when it could be attempted. A conference on the question of removability and the law of settlement had taken place, but there were differences of opinion on the subject. A friend of his proposed a law of industrial settlement after three years of residence, and if that were agreed to, it would have general application, and would prove a great improvement in the law. He agreed in the general object of his hon. and learned Friend, and he wished they could devise some means by which they could improve the law. It appeared to him that a man who gave his years of labour to the country ought not to be removed out of it, and that his settlement ought to be an industrial, and not a birth settlement, and then they could fall back on the question of irremovability, and say that a man who had not acquired a status of irremovability should be relieved in the workhouse, but not out of it. If his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board was prepared to say, as he trusted he would, that the whole subject of settlement and removability was ripe for consideration during the Recess, and that it would be so dealt with as to apply equally to England, Ireland, and Scotland, he trusted that his hon. and learned Friend would not press his Bill to a second reading.


having always maintained that the Government and the people of England were inclined to do justice to Ireland, pointed to this as an opportunity for proving what he had so often asserted. It was very easy for official minds to take small things and invest them with large words, and so puzzle people, but he contended that this was a case of the simplest nature. A grievance was felt, and felt very keenly, by the people of Ireland. That grievance had been put before the House in all its naked deformity and hideousness by the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), and no man could say that he did not now thoroughly understand it. They had just been told the Bill involved the whole question of the law of settlement. It was necessary to brush such arguments away. There was no need to puzzle themselves about that question at present. A clear case of grievance had been put before them, and the simple question was, how could they reform it? The case was simple and easy. The grievance was a large one, not because of the number of persons immediately concerned, but because of the intensity of the hardships suffered in the cases of persons cited in support of the Bill. Irish labourers came over to England, and spent the whole of their lives here, devoting their best services to the country, and working honestly and hardly in their way of life. When they had done their duty and attained old age, being no longer able to sustain and maintain themselves, did it become the honour and dignity of this country to cast them out, to throw them back on the bare shores of Ireland, and say—"We have done with you; you are a sucked orange; you are of no further use to us; go back to where you were born, and let those maintain you who brought you forth? "He would tell the House that it did not become the honour, the dignity, and the generosity of this country to act in this way. Nothing would be easier than to make a law enacting that when an Irishman or an Irishwoman had worked for one year in this country, and had thus obtained a settlement in any parish in England or Scotland such person should not be liable to be removed and sent back to Ireland. The thing was clear and simple, and could be done in a few words without going into those large general questions to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had attached so much importance. He (Mr. Roebuck) represented a constituency in which there was a large proportion of Irishmen, and he had some claim therefore to represent the public feeling in regard to them. Generally speaking, up to the present time the Irish population in the large towns of England had not been quite fairly dealt with. They were very kind, honest people, but they were very boisterous and noisy, and sometimes troublesome, and that aroused some feeling against them perhaps; but he was quite prepared to say that the English people were not willing that any injustice, such as that exposed to-day, should be laid to their charge, and, on the contrary, they would wish such a blot to be removed from the Statute Book. He asked the Government not to be misled on this simple matter by general considerations, like their Predecessors, but to do the honest thing by the people of Ireland. It would do no harm to England or Scotland, and Ireland would be bound to say that justice had been done.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), in his opening remarks, said he could establish a great grievance to the Irish people in the operation of the English Poor Law. He (Mr. Torr) believed that it was characteristic of Irishmen to say that they could establish grievances, and also that they could establish facts. The grievances of which the hon. and learned Member complained arose, not from the existing law, but from a violation of the law. How were the Irish poor dealt with in the borough of Liverpool, which he (Mr. Torr) had the honour to represent? An Irishman who claimed Poor Law relief was brought before the magistrates, and was asked whether there was any reason why he should not be sent back to Ireland. If he could say with truth that he had resided 12 months in the parish, he was entitled to relief, and could not be sent back. If, on the other hand, he could show no reason against being removed, he was examined by a medical man, and the warrant, which must be signed by two magistrates, could not be made out unless upon a medical certificate that there existed no physical reason why the man should not be sent to Ireland. Then, as to what had been said about hundreds of poor Irish people being hurried on board ship like cattle or pigs, conveyed to Cork or Dublin, put out on the quays, and told to go to Hades or to Heaven—the picture was an imaginary one. No such thing was done. An officer was appointed to accompany the paupers, and he was bound to cross with them, and 35s. per head was allowed as cost for sending them over. Thus the paupers could not have been treated in the manner alleged, when such a sum per head was paid for them. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Kavanagh) drew a very vivid picture. He said that the Irish were just and honest, and that they were treated unjustly by the operation of the English Poor Law. How, he (Mr. Torr) would ask, were they brought over here from Ireland? He could tell the hon. Gentleman that great numbers of poor de-crepid infirm Irish men and women were brought over at 1s. a-head, and the moment they arrived in England they required relief. Well, now, where did the honesty begin? Was it, he asked, right that he (Mr. Torr), who never saw the face of one of those paupers, should be called upon to contribute to rates for their relief? Would it not be more honest in those among whom they had lived all their lives to provide for them in their poverty? And let it be borne in mind that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork said the paupers' friends in Ireland paid the money for sending them over here. Was that "Home Rule?" He did not speak of the able-bodied. Those who could work were welcome, and work was found for them. Nearly all the work on the quays of Liverpool was done by Irishmen, and respecting them, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) appealed to the feelings of the House, saying—"Why should ye act in this manner to the Irish, and say to them, begone? You are a squeezed orange, and no longer of use to us." He (Mr. Torr) must say that that could not be done, and that in his own parish, a man who had resided and worked in it for 12 months, could not, by the law of England be so treated. The hon. Member for Carlow referred to cases of small-pox and scarlet fever having been imported into Ireland from Liverpool, by poor persons afficted with those maladies having been sent over as paupers, and stated that 600 or 700 deaths had resulted from the infection. But what did Liverpool suffer as compared with Ireland, from the thousands and tens of thousands of Irishmen who were sent over every year without a medical certificate? But when they were sending paupers back from England they were furnished with medical certificates. There was, he must say, something in the Irish mind which the English could not comprehend. He must say that, looking at the whole case, and seeing that the effect of passing the Bill would be to throw a mass, not of industrious, but of pauperized Irish people into the large towns of England to be supported by the ratepayers of those towns, he was prepared to give his support to the Motion of his hon. Friend, that the Bill be read a second time that day three months.


, in supporting the second reading, denied that decrepit and infirm Irish people were sent from Ireland to Liverpool at 1s. a-head, as had been asserted. The hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. Torr) did not even allude to the grievance which the Bill was intended to remedy. It was this—that an Irishman who had resided in an English town for 40 years, working and spending his means there, contributing to the wealth of the country, and knowing nothing of Ireland, and having, perhaps, no friends there, lost his settlement by removing into another part of the town, and was liable, if unfortunately he was compelled to seek relief, to be removed, not to the Union in which he had lived and laboured for 40 years, but to Ireland, which probably he had quitted when a child. To him it would be comparatively an unknown country, and what was he to do there in his old age? Surely that was a grievance and a hardship for which a remedy should be found.


said, he would rather not have spoken in that discussion, and perhaps might not have done so, had it not been that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork had referred to the city which he (Mr. M'Laren) had the honour to represent, and, beginning with the local Poor Law authorities, going next to the Board of Supervision, and ending with the Lord Advocate, accused them all round of violating the law and of not understanding it. Curiously enough, his hon. and learned Friend, who understood legal matters well, had told them that the ground of this accusation was that none of those authorities had sufficiently respected the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench; and had said a great deal about an Act of Union with which he was acquainted. But the Scotch had an Act of Union 100 years older than that referred to by his hon. and learned Friend, which said that the Court of Queen's Bench, or any other Court in Westminster Hall, should not have any jurisdiction whatever in Scotland. Why, then, should the Lord Advocate or the Poor Law authorities be taken to task because, forsooth, they did not choose to give effect to the dictum of the Court of Queen's Bench? His hon. and learned Friend knew quite well that the laws of the two countries were entirely different, and that if in Scotland effect had been given to the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench, they might have acted illegally and in violation of the laws of the country which they were bound to respect. He admitted his hon. and learned Friends had made out a grievance, and while he should be delighted to see that grievance removed in a proper way, he altogether objected to this Bill, because it was asking for special privileges for Irishmen. In every Bill that had come before that House, whether as regarded the extension of the franchise or anything of the kind, he had always, with what little power he had, advocated equal rights for Irishmen, and he should advocate equal rights also in regard to the Poor Laws. But this Bill asked for special privileges for Irishmen, and refused to give equal rights to Scotchmen. ["No, no!"] He should show that that was so. The Bill affected Scotland much more than it did England, because their law of settlement was one of five years' duration, while the law of settlement in England was for a year only; and what did the Bill do? If a person from the most remote part of Scotland—say, from Orkney, Shetland, or the Western Isles —came before the Poor Law authorities of Edinburgh or Glasgow, and wanted to be put upon the Poor Law there, so as to get relief either in-doors or outside, the question asked him was—"How long have you been residing here—five years?" and if he said "No," then he was sent back to the parish of his birth; but if the Bill passed, an Irishman would come, and when asked whether he had resided not five years, but one only, he would reply—"Only one, but I am an Irishman; I am a privileged person, entitled to a right of settlement after one year, and you are bound to take me, because I have resided one year within your jurisdiction." That was not equal rights. Then, if a poor Scotchman went to Ireland and told the same story; if he said—"I have lived for one year in Ireland, and I want Poor Law relief," what did the Poor Law authorities say to him. They said—"We have no system of settlement in Ireland, and you cannot get relief." ["No, no!" from the Irish Members.] He would show the House that he was correct in what he said. The authorities would not give that man a settlement in Ireland though he had been one year there, or even two, three, five, ten, or twenty years; in fact, they would not give him a settlement at all under any circumstances. [Mr. M'GARTHY DOWNING: We give him relief.] They gave him relief, no doubt; but they did not give him a settlement. That was not what was asked, however, for Irishmen in Scotland. The hon. and learned Member for Cork did not ask for them temporary relief. There was no difficulty about temporary relief. Temporary relief was never refused to poor Irishmen in Scotland. The difficulty was about a settlement, and if a settlement were asked for an Irishman in Scotland, why did Irishmen refuse to give a settlement to a Scotchman? He begged to say that he had given a fair statement of the import of this Bill in regard to its leading feature. He said it was a most unfair Bill, and he objected to it because of its unfairness. Then, again, look at the general result. He was not going into any statistics, but he would state merely sufficient for the purpose of his argument. If they took the population of Scotland and that of Ireland, and compared them in any way they liked, they would find that for any given number of thousands or millions in Scotland they got many times the number of persons who received parochial relief, either in Union workhouses or in the form of out-door allowances, that they did in Ireland—that was to say, probably three times as many people were assisted out of the rates in Scotland per 1,000 as were assisted out of the rates in Ireland. Well, everybody knew that one cause at least of this was that practically there was no out-door relief given in Ireland; the poor applicants were told that they must go into the great workhouse or semi-prison. If they wanted permanent relief, they must go and receive it there. They knew very well, on the other hand, that the Irish Celts, like their Highlanders, detested above all things being imprisoned—whether it was in workhouses or anywhere else. They looked upon residence in the workhouse as the loss of personal liberty, and they would go and beg, and do anything whatever rather than go into the workhouse. Therefore, before any Bill of this nature could pass, he ventured to state that the law of the three countries should be assimilated as regarded settlement; that the Poor Law administration of Ireland should be liberal like that of Scotland; that the law of settlement should be fixed and determined in Ireland as it was in Scotland or England. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork did not come there with clean hands, because he had not got any of those things done in Ireland; and he was asking for exceptional privileges for Irishmen in England and Scotland. His hon. and learned Friend had referred to the case of six lunatics in Dublin as one of great hardship, and he said—"They are from Soot-land." Whether they were Scotchmen or Irishmen he (Mr. M'Laren) knew not. But his hon. and learned Friend would remember that in consequence of a former complaint of his, he (Mr. M'Laren) took the liberty of moving for a Return to show the number of lunatics maintained in Ireland and in Scotland of each nationality, also the number of persons of each nationality receiving out-door relief; and when that Return was presented, which he hoped might be soon, they would then obtain more light upon that subject. Then another strong point which his hon. and learned Friend had made was in contrasting the injustice which was done to the Irish pauper as compared with the Scotch. He said—"What do you do in Scotland?" Before you remove a man from a central point to a distant part you write to the parish of his birth, and tell that parish that you are going to send him there, and ask that they will maintain him where he is, and the result generally was that the parish of his birth say—"Very well, you give him half-a-crown a-week and we will repay you." Well, that would be a grievance indeed if the parishes in Ireland were under the same law; but if a person claiming parochial relief in Scotland belonged to the parish of his hon. and learned Friend in Ireland, the authorities in Scotland could not write to the parish of his hon. Friend and ask them to maintain that person in Scotland; because there was no law in Ireland to authorize any payment of the kind. Well, then, let his hen. and learned Friend bring in a Bill with a clause in it to provide that it should be competent to the parishes in Ireland to maintain their poor in Edinburgh, Glasgow, or anywhere else in Scotland or England, just as it was competent for the people of Orkney or Shetland to maintain their poor in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which in many instances they did. These were some of the considerations which he was anxious to bring before the House. He might bring others but that he did not wish to trespass at any length upon their time, and he would conclude by saying that, considering the Bill to be unjust, and that there were other and better ways of removing a grievance which he admitted existed, he could not give his support to the second reading. What should be done was to, as he had said, assimilate the law of settlement in England and Scotland, and provide a similar law of settlement for Ireland, and give the Irish parishes an optional power to pay for their paupers residing in England and Scotland who had not acquired a settlement through insufficiency of residence in those countries.


said, that the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) was always found on the friendly and liberal side when Irish matters were discussed, provided that they did not touch the pockets of Scotchmen or his constituents. He favoured them with a large amount of cheap support. The hon. Member had complained that the Bill involved no reciprocity. He (Sir Joseph M'Kenna) said there was no reciprocity whatever now. If Scotchmen went to Ireland and became paupers, they got relief at once, wherever they might happen to be—["No, no!"]—at all events, they got as much relief as the Irish got. He considered the argument of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Torr) that an Irishman who resided more than a year in that borough was irremovable, a miserable quibble. ["Oh!"] He would only be irremovable so long as he resided in the particular Union; but. if he had lived there 20 or 30 years, the moment he crossed the border he lost his settlement. That was the grievance complained of, and which the Bill was meant to remedy. If he spoke from a merely Home Rule point of view, he would say—"Let the present unjust law remain—there is one law for the Irish and another for the English;" but he wished the Bill to pass, in order that the law on this subject should be made equal for all.


said, that while the hon. and learned Member for Cork County, had in the course of his able speech, hit many blots in the present law, and pointed out certain undoubted abuses which arose in its administration, yet it had been made abundantly clear that it was impossible to pass this Bill in its present form. It dealt in a very partial way with a great question, which he was free to admit demanded the immediate attention of Her Majesty's Government. Another reason why the Bill ought not to pass in its present form was, that it would place Irish people who settled in England or Soot-land in a different position from Englishmen or Scotchmen who were in their own country. His hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had, it seemed to him, hit the nail on the head, when he said that they could not deal with the question of removal or settlement without considering the general question of the administration of the Poor Law, and making it analogous for the three countries. In that conclusion he cordially agreed, and he should not have risen, if he did not most strongly object to the deduction which his hon. Friend had drawn from that conclusion. His hon. Friend had said that what they required to do was to liberalize the Irish Poor Law, and make it more analogous to the English and Scotch law. Ireland was so often disparaged that he was glad to have that opportunity of saying that so far as the administration of the Poor Law was concerned England, and especially Scotland, had much to learn from Ireland. Of the three countries, undoubtedly, the Poor Law was administered with the greatest success and advantage to the people of Ireland. Where they had a liberal Poor Law, such as had been described by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, there was inevitably associated with it a great hardship to the people, and a barrier to the industrial development of the country. A liberal Poor Law produced so much demoralization, and encouraged pauperism so much, that it was necessary to associate with it a rigorous law of settlement and of removal. It was curious to observe that in Ireland, where the Poor Law was administered with the greatest care, it was not necessary to have any law of settlement or removal. Destitution in that country could safely be relieved, where it was found; but in England, where the law was administered with some laxity, a law of settlement was found necessary, and in Scotland, where it was administered with still greater laxity, settlement was made still more rigorous. He felt convinced that if by gradual and wise reforms the English and Scotch Poor Laws were made more analogous to the Irish Poor Law, they might then be able safely to remove what was vexatious and onerous in the present law of settlement and removal. What they should aim at was the entire abolition of out-door relief, which in Scotland was the rule and not the exception. The result was that Scotland, in proportion to its population, had 300 per cent more pauperism than Ireland, which was the poorer country, and England had 250 per cent more. He thought his hon. and learned Friend would do well not to press his Bill to a division, if he should receive an assurance from the Government that the whole subject of the general administration of the Poor Law would receive their early consideration.


said, that he had listened to the discussion with great interest, and he was glad that an opportunity had been afforded for a full discussion, as it would give the country a fair idea of the feeling of the House upon the subject. He hoped that the hon. and learned Member who moved the second reading of the Bill would see from the discussion that what he proposed was a very imperfect remedy for the grievance at which it was pointed, which was in fact part of a great subject which he had scarcely touched. He (Mr. Sclater-Booth) should be unwilling to say that it would be impossible to deal with the question without assimilating the law of the Three Kingdoms with reference to settlement, removal, and the administration of out-door relief, though the three questions undoubtedly ran into one another. He trusted that the opinion that had been expressed on both sides of the House on the subject would induce the hon. Member for the Wigton Burghs (Mr. Mark Stewart) to withdraw his Amendment, and the hon. and learned Member to withdraw his Bill, in which case he promised that his attention during the Recess should be directed to the question of the law of poor removal and of settlement, which he felt required revision. Entertaining that view, he had already directed the Inspectors of the Local Government Board to make inquiries upon the subject, and to report upon it as early as possible, and when he had the necessary information before him he should be glad to see his way to making some proposal upon the matter to the House as soon as a fair opportunity presented itself for him to do so. He thought the grievance complained of was not an exclusively Irish grievance, because the law operated precisely in the same way whether the person was an Englishman, an Irishman, or a Scotchman. There was no greater cruelty in removing an Irishman than in removing an Englishman or a Scotchman, though, no doubt, the absence of any law of settlement affected an Irishman when he got back to his country. The hon. and learned Member, in his history of the question, had omitted to mention that successful steps had been taken to mitigate the law of removal and settlement, and the last change, which was made only 10 years ago, was to the effect that one year's residence should give a status of irremovability. There had, however, been some confusion between irremovability and settlement. They might have inferred from what had been said by the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) that an Irish labourer having worked most of his life in Sheffield might, when he fell into distress, be returned to the place in Ireland from whence he came; but that could not be so unless the person had broken his residence in Sheffield, and had thus become chargeable to some other place in England. Suppose a labourer who had worked 30 or 40 years in Sheffield came afterwards to London, and became chargeable upon the rates within a week, ought he to be relieved at the charge of the metropolis or of Sheffield? It could hardly be said that he should be chargeable upon London, even although his birth-place was Ireland. If they were to try to substitute a new law of settlement, much hardship would arise, though the question was well worthy of consideration. What people were driving at who attempted to get rid of the law of removal was to get rid of the fact of removal, and if it could be done with justice to the ratepayer he should be only too glad to try his hand at remedying the matter. He admitted that there were many hard cases in connection with removal to Ireland, but he saw equal hardship in removing Englishmen from one part of England to another—such as, for instance, from London to any of the northern counties of England—and the question was whether any law of settlement and removal was compatible with the extinction of such cases of hardship and injustice. Parliament had made several attempts to reduce these hard cases to a minimum, and many of the cases which had been referred to were of old date. They could not now send over Irish paupers and simply leave them upon the strand, but must convey them to the place where they were to be chargeable. He should be sorry to say that he could take upon himself to assimilate the law of the Three Kingdoms upon this point; though he did not say that an assimilation of the law might not be highly desirable. It had been said that, under the warrant of justices, the removal of the poor was in the nature of a criminal process, so that pauperism was treated as a crime; but if anybody would consider how in many cases the quasi-criminal offence of vagrancy was allied with pauperism, they would see how difficult the subject was to deal with. The law, however, had of late been surrounded with safeguards against hardship and injustice. The Bill proposed to substitute for the present test of irremovability an industrial residence of one year; but then, this would give rise to an inquiry whether the residence had or had not been industrial, and so would arise many of the old difficulties. It was not to be a mere residence, but an industrial residence, so that its practical result would be to put the Irish pauper in England in a worse position than that of the English or Scotch pauper. He could not see that this was specially an Irish grievance, but the question of removal was a growing one, which pressed for solution. He had every expectation to be in a position next Session to make some recommendations to Parliament upon the subject, though he could not pledge himself to do so.


said, he was afraid the promise they had received was rather of a nebulous character, still he was not very anxious that the subject should be pressed to a division, especially as several hon. Members who had spoken attacked the law of settlement, and indicated their intention that in future they would vote with the Irish Members on the subject. The Irish were more affected by it than were the inhabitants of any of the other divisions of the United Kingdom, inasmuch as they were the chief labourers in the great manufacturing towns. For his own part, however, he was quite willing to leave the whole case in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, who had promised to take the matter into consideration in the course of the Recess. Still, if the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork went to a division, he should support him.


said, he could not assent to the proposal of the last speaker, that Ireland should wait for her grievances on this subject to be redressed until it suited the convenience of the English Members to consider what improvements should be effected in the English law of settlement. What the Bill said was, that if an Irishman came over to this country and gave it the benefit of his labour, he should not when past all exertion be sent back to Ireland, but should have a claim upon the country which his industry had benefited. If there was a power vested in the Irish Guardians of shipping off effete Englishmen who had settled in their country, he was perfectly sure they would too humane to exercise it. He was absolutely horrified to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax defend the power of removal on the ground that it was a test of pauperism. The grievance which was complained of was esssentially an Irish one, and he therefore trusted that the Motion for the second reading of the Bill would be pressed to a division.


said, he should object to the laws of England and Scotland being made analogous to those of Ireland. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) had commented upon the fact that the pauperism of the two countries was considerably in excess of that of Ireland. He forgot, however, that the great bulk of the pauperism of England and Scotland was in reality Irish pauperism which was thrown on those counties by their laws of settlement. Had the hon. Gentleman travelled in Ireland, he would have known that country was full of beggars. This showed that a great deal of the pauperism of the country was unrelieved, owing to the severe and cruel mode of applying the workhouse test. He should be sorry to see so cruel a system adopted in either England or in Scotland.


supported the Bill, and indignantly denied that the country was overrun by beggars. The beggars that were to be met with there were not Irish paupers, but professional beggars, who were encouraged by tourists to remain in a state of lazy idleness. The Irishman reduced to pauperism would feel ashamed to beg.


thought it ill became the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow—a City which was so much indebted for its present prosperity to the artizan power derived from Ireland—to speak as he had done of the Irish people, and he scornfully derided the libel that poor Irishmen would be led to immigrate to England and Scotland in order to obtain admission to the workhouses, because they would be likely to obtain better diet there than they could obtain in the workhouses at home.


hoped the House would not be led into a discussion of crimination and recrimination from the remark of the hon. Member for Glasgow, and also that the second reading of the Bill would not be pressed to a division, because the clauses as drawn would not solve the difficulty. For his own part, he approved the Preamble, but could not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Cork as to the means by which it was proposed to give effect to it.


said, he would not support a Bill of this character, which proposed exceptional legislation for Ireland. If the law of settlement was to be altered, it should be altered for the whole country, and not for Ireland alone.


, in replying, observed that the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) ought to bear in mind there was a large Irish constituency in that city. He knew the difficulties and prejudices that surrounded the subject, but he was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Torr) deny the existence of the grievances complained of. He based his Bill upon a statement of the late Lord Palmerston, when he was Home Secretary, that an Irishman after a year's industrial occupation in this country should be irremovable. As there had been no distinct pledge given on the part of the Government, he felt bound to go to a division.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 231: Majority 166.

Words added.

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

Second Reading put off for three months.