§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING,
in rising to call attention to the anomalous state of the Laws under which the destitute poor receiving relief from the poor's rate are subject to removal in England and Scotland, and by virtue of which destitute poor persons born in Ireland and so relieved are subject to deportation from England and Scotland to Ireland; and to move—That said Laws in their operation inflict many wrongs and cause great sufferings; that they are unjust and impolitic therefore. That, in the opinion of this House, the said Laws ought to be so amended as that every poor person who shall have maintained himself or herself for twelve months by some industrial occupation in any parish, combination of parishes, or union in England, Wales, or Scotland, previously to receiving such relief, shall not be subject to removal therefrom,said, he felt that it was unnecessary to enter into the origin of the laws of settlement and the liability of districts to support their own poor, because of their having been so modified by subsequent legislation. He would therefore 654 apply himself to the laws as he now found them and to the evils which still remained. Up to the year 1819 persons subject to removal should have committed an act of vagrancy; they should be proved to be rogues, vagabonds, or vagrants; but by the Act of 59 Geo. III., commonly called "Sturges Bourne's Act," powers were for the first time given to remove persons who had become chargeable as destitute poor, from which time vagabondism and poverty had been classed in the same category, and under which, and subsequent Acts amending the same, wrongs and sufferings had been imposed of a character beyond the possible conception or belief of the House. Accounts of them would be found in the evidence given before the Select Committee of 1854, appointed on the Motion of Mr. Baines, the then President of the English Poor Law Board, and in Returns which he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) obtained by orders of the House in 1871 and 1875. From the year 1846 Parliament had shown a growing tendency to restrict the right of removal. In that year it was provided that no person in England or Wales could be removed from a parish in which he had been resident for five years next before the application for removal. In 1861 the period of three years was substituted for that of five, and "residence in the Union" was substituted for "residence in the parish." In 1865 the period of residence was reduced to one year—mitigations, no doubt, of the evils of the system existing previously, but by no means a solution—for the restriction of removal did not confer a right of settlement or permanent chargeability, and unless residence was kept up, the restriction on removal ceased—that was to say, that although a man might have lived a year in a Union, yet if he went to another, and received relief in it before he had spent 12 months there, he was liable to be sent to some place determined by what remained of the old law of settlement and by the modern laws of removal. But what was the state of the law of chargeability and removal in Scotland? To obtain a settlement there, a person must have resided five years in a parish before seeking relief, and that settlement was lost if, in any subsequent five years, the person did not reside for one year in it; while, in Ire- 655 land, there was no law of settlement nor power of removal. They had, therefore, a complete conflict of laws in the United Kingdom, differing to such an extent that it would be thought impossible under a common Imperial Legislature. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would first take the case as it stood between England and Scotland. An English labourer was protected from removal by a year's residence, but let him cross the Border and happen to fall destitute in Scotland, he was deprived of the benefit of the humane improvements in the English law; while the Scotchman who had not obtained even in Scotland a settlement by a five years' residence in a parish, and subsequently resided for 12 months in an English Union, had all the benefits of the English law. There was no law of settlement nor of removal in Ireland, and no law of inter-union chargeability; chargeability was regulated by residence, varied since 1838 by five distinct Acts of Parliament; in some cases, it was four years' residence in an electoral division out of five in the Union; in another, 30 months out of three years. The chargeability arising from birth or marriage was also different. Therefore, he felt that he had established his first proposition as to the anomalous state of the laws. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) had from time to time called the attention of Parliament to the many evils resulting from the state of the laws; he did so during the Administration of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), which led to a conference between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld), then President of the Local Government Board; the President of the Board of Supervision in Scotland, and Sir Alfred Power, Chief Commissioner in Ireland, with the view of considering what remedy might be applied, but from which nothing resulted, in consequence of the break-up of the right hon. Gentleman's Administration. He did so, subsequently, in the discussion on the Union Rating Bill, and upon that occasion the present Secretary of State for the Colonies, then Chief Secretary for Ireland, said—The hon. Member for Cork had referred to another matter well deserving of consideration—the differences which existed between English and Irish law with respect to the removal of paupers. As far as that was concerned, he 656 thought Ireland had fair cause of complaint, and he had been surprised that Irish Members had not brought it under the notice of the House at an earlier period of the Session.In 1875, he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) introduced a Bill, with the view of rendering it unlawful for justices in England or Scotland to remove to Ireland any poor person, where such poor person had for 12 months previously to relief being given, maintained himself, or herself, by some industrial occupation, in any parish, combination of parishes, or Union in England, Wales, or Scotland. On the discussion on that Bill, no one ventured to defend the law of removal, and he was glad to be able to say that there was an unanimous expression of opinion from the English Press that he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) had made an unanswerable case. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, upon that occasion, after dealing with the measure in the fairest manner, gave a promise—That the whole subject of settlement and removal would receive his attention during the Recess, and that he hoped in the next Session of Parliament to be able to submit proposals which would deal in a comprehensive spirit with the Poor Law of the three Kingdoms.With that promise he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would have been satisfied, and not have taken a division, had he not yielded to the advice of his more ardent Colleagues. The Bill was rejected by a considerable majority; hon. Members who had spoken in favour of the principle in the Bill—notably the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Halifax, and his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett)—who made important speeches on the occasion—declined to vote. The division, however, under the circumstances should make but little difference; it in no way affected the substantial success which the debate achieved, the system of Irish pauper deportation having been concurrently condemned. He was, however, apprehensive that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had been influenced by that division, inasmuch as that the right hon. Gentleman had not since introduced the comprehensive measure affecting the three Kingdoms, which he hoped to have done in the Session of 1876. The right hon. Gentleman, however, introduced a Bill "to provide for 657 the better arrangement of divided parishes" in England, in which a clause was introduced—34—by which a person residing for three years in any parish obtained a settlement therein until he should acquire a settlement in some other parish—a most imperfect solution of the question, as the labouring population were constantly forced to migrate from one parish to another, and seldom lived three years continuously in the same parish. A railway or new street ran through a poor quarter of a city filled with labourers' houses; labourers were thrown out of employment by derangement of trade, or other causes, and if they became destitute in the year subsequent, they lost their protection against removal. Had the right hon. Gentleman made a three years' residence in the Union instead of the parish, it would have been of large advantage, but as it was it was almost valueless. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), as he anticipated, found that the clause had not in any manner reduced the number of removals. The St. Pancras Union, Middlesex, made more orders of removal than any of the counties of England, and he found in the annual report of the assistant clerk, Mr. Higgins, for the year ending the 31st of December last, 12 months after the passing of the Act, the following statement:—The number of removable persons chargeable to this parish during the preceding 12 months who have gained a settlement, formed of a three years' residence, either wholly, or partly before and partly after the statute of last Session, is but very small, and the returns for future years will, doubtless, prove that the large number of cases originally supposed as being likely to come under such a class—to have gained residential settlements in large towns—will fall far short of the calculations of the most sanguine of those who have agitated for so long past, and on so many grounds, the great necessity of a change in the settlement laws.And in the Return No. 5 in the said Report he found that the number of persons removed for the year ending 31st December, 1876, was 391; while, for the year ending 31st December, 1877, it was 524, showing an increase of nearly 34 per cent since the Act came into operation. He believed that the right hon. Gentleman intended the alteration which he effected as an experiment; that his opinion was in favour of the total abolition of the law of settle- 658 ment and removal; for he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) found that at a conference of the Poor Law Guardians of the Southern counties, held at Basingstoke, under the presidency of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire, in October, 1875, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board said—Of all the arguments which have been brought before me for the abolition of the law of removal, none commends itself more to my mind than that if it were abolished, you would get rid of a most objectionable anomaly—the administration of non-resident relief—and you would have throughout the country a more uniform system of sound principles in the administration of out-door relief.And with reference to the total abolition of the law of settlement, he said—I took the opportunity in the early part of last year to direct the attention of all the Local Government Inspectors to the question, and have received excellent reports from them, setting forth their own opinions, and, in many instances, the collected opinions of the guardians and their clerks, and I will not conceal from you the fact that there is a vast amount of opinion tending towards the abolition of the law of settlement.The House would observe that all recent legislation had been directed to get rid of the law of settlement. The present Government could effect that object, and he hoped the House might hear from the right hon. Gentleman that it was their intention to do so in the next Session of Parliament. If so, the right hon. Gentleman could not object to his (Mr. M'Carthy Downing's) Motion being adopted. In fact, its adoption would strengthen his hands, and render his task an easy one. The Return from which he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) quoted in the debate of 1875 was up to and for the 31st December, 1869. From it he read to the House several cases, which made a deep impression on hon. Members then present. He would not feel justified in again quoting those cases; but there were two which, if hon. Members made themselves acquainted with, might enlist their feelings in support of his Motion—those of Catherine Stewart, page 110, and Mary Horigan and four children, page 88. As there were, in the present Session, so many Members who were not in the House in the Session of 1875, he would give the Particulars of the last-mentioned case, he was the wife of Michael Horigan, who was a Marine in the Queen's Ser- 659 vice, and at the time on active service in China. He was only seven months absent. He and his wife resided in Henry Street, Woolwich, for 10 years; had four children, the eldest nine years, the youngest one. She had been 27 years in England, and was only one year when she left Ireland. Her children were at the Military School, Woolwich. Her husband allowed her 15s. a-month; but, some delay having arisen in the payment, she received from the parish 2s. 6d. and two loaves of bread per week. Her husband had five good conduct stripes, and in six months he would have been entitled to a retiring pension. She was taken before a magistrate, and got to sign a statement upon oath that she had no settlement in England, and that she and her children would not suffer any bodily or mental injury by removal to Ireland. The nature of that document she did not know—she could neither read nor write. She and her children were forcibly sent on to Bristol, where she besought the officer to take her back, and that she would pay all expenses, which he refused to do, and she and her four little children were delivered at the workhouse, Skibbereen, in the county of Cork. The case was brought before the Poor Law Commissioners by a strong and unanimous protest of the Guardians of that Union, and condemnation of the law which sanctioned the breaking-up of family ties and associations with the most heartless disregard of consequences and feelings of humanity. Here was a young woman and her four children forcibly and illegally taken from, her home, and transported to a place of which she had never heard. The consequence was that public indignation and sympathy were so aroused that a subscription list was opened and responded to. The Cork Steamship Company gave a free passage and 30s. for sea store, and Mary Horigan and her four children were in a few days again located at her own house at Woolwich; but by her return, should she again apply for relief, would be liable by the present laws to imprisonment for three months as a vagabond. He obtained a further Return under an order of the 15th August, 1875, and he found by that Return the like cases of gross illegality and cruelty as in the former. In page 6 would be found the case of Patrick Collins, removed from St. Giles-in-the- 660 Fields to the Kanturk Union, in the county Cork. He was born in London, where he resided until he was seven years of age. Afterwards he went to Ireland for some time. The man then returned to London and worked there for years, yet the magistrate certified that he was satisfied that he was born in, or last resided for the space of three years in, Ireland, and he was, accordingly, sent to the Kanturk Union. The form of warrant was one which had been long before abolished; and in reference to the case the Poor Law Commissioners, in addressing the Lord Lieutenant, said—There can exist little doubt that the printed forms had been deliberately framed, in contravention of the statute, for the purpose of carrying on the illegal removal of persons who were not born in Ireland.Then there was the case of Ellen Connell and four children, the eldest eight years, the youngest one, sent from the Holborn Union to Cahirciveen, county Kerry. She being a married woman, her removal and that of her children was illegal, and under the warrant of a police magistrate, notwithstanding the unanimous decision of the Court of Queen's Bench that such removals were unauthorized by law. The Poor Law Commissioners refer to the case thus—As a further instance of improper practice in such cases in the London police courts.And they conclude—There is now reason to believe that in a number of illegal removals which had taken place in the course of the previous year, that the forms had at all times been taken advantage of by parochial and Union authorities to obtain orders of removal without proper inquiry by the removing justices.Upon this case the Poor Law Board of Whitehall addressed the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, stating—That they had no control over the magistrates at the police courts. That they admit there is ground for the complaint of the Commissioners in Ireland, and they fear that it is not only as regards Irish paupers that justices make orders of removal upon loose or insufficient evidence, for complaints had been made to their Board that the justices do so in case of English paupers.If the Poor Law Board had no authority over magistrates, the Home Secretary had, and a paid official was permitted by an illegal act to separate the wife and children from the husband and parent, 661 and cast the burden of their support upon the poor ratepayers of the Cahirciveen Union, and without any compensation to it or the ill-treated family. Mary Keating was removed from the parish of Liverpool to the South Dublin Union on the 7th of November; arrived in Dublin on the 8th, actually in labour, and gave birth to a child in six hours after her admission. The master of the workhouse reported—She appeared to be in labour when presented at the gate, and was confined in six hours after her admission.And yet a medical man declared on soul and conscience that the health of the said Mary Keating was such as to admit of her removal, either by land or sea. The medical man defended himself by stating that the woman told him that she did not expect to be delivered for another month; but the woman gave evidence that she told him that she was then ill, and begged not to be removed. And the Poor Law Commissioners stated in the Correspondence—That the woman's statement was corroborated by the subsequent fact that she was actually in labour when presented at the gate of the workhouse.He would ask, could anything be more cruel and more revolting to every feeling of humanity and manhood than the case just quoted; and yet it was only one of hundreds of others, varying only in degree? Another case referred to, and on which his hon. Friend the Member for Mayo (Mr. G. E. Browne), put a Question to the President of the Local Government Board, was that of John Tuoohy, who resided in England for 35 years, having left Ireland at the age of five. His wife was an English woman, and all his children—seven—were born in England. Tuoohy, for want of employment, was, with his wife and children, admitted to the workhouse at Kingston-on-Thames, and in 48 hours after a warrant from two county justices was obtained, without even the depositions required by law, under which this family of nine, the youngest being only 11 months, were shipped off to the Newport Union, in the county of Mayo, in which Union the man was not born, and never had been resident. In reference to this case, the Under Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in addressing the then Home Secretary, said— 662I am directed by his Excellency to add that the above case is an illustration of the hardship of the present law with respect to the removal of poor persons from England to this country.The Guardians of the Kingston Union were called upon to take back this family and to pay the expenses which had been incurred, which they refused to do; but, with great generosity, they offered to pay the expenses if the Guardians of the Newport Union would send the family to the Castlereagh Union, which he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) might inform the House they, the Newport Guardians, had no power to do; and upon this point the Commissioners in Dublin in their Correspondence stated—The Guardians of Newport Union have no legal authority to send the paupers away at all, and they are thus, by virtue of the existing removal law in England, and the act of the English Poor Law authorities, burthened with the support of a destitute family, most of whom were born in England, and none of whom were born in the Union, or had previously been in any way connected with it.He could supply hundreds of similar cases, but did not wish to weary the House. He must, however, refer to one or two cases from Scotland, for the information of his Scotch Friends. Mary Johnston, or Miller, removed from the parish of Larges, in Ayrshire, to Enniskillen, in Ireland. She left Ireland at the age of eight years, resided in Scotland for 26 years, was married there, had four children, the eldest seven and a-half years, the youngest two. They obtained some relief, and they were sent to Enniskillen, with which Union Mary Johnston had never any connection, having been born in the Union of Irvingstown. Every act in this case was illegal; the wife and children could not be removed without the head of the family; while in the order it was merely stated that she was born in the county of Fermanagh, and the only redress the ratepayers of Enniskillen had was an expression of regret on the part of Alexander Campbell, Inspector of Poor, for the mistake he had made. He asked the attention of the House to the facility with which families were thus illegally separated and forcibly deported—Minute of Inspector's Committee.Case of Mary Johnston, deserted by her husband three months; has no settlement in Scotland. Inspector instructed to take out warrant for the removal of paupers to Ireland.663 The House would observe that there was no inquiry before the Parochial Board, or opportunity offered for explanation or information by the parties concerned. They were taken before two magistrates or the sheriff, made to sign the usual printed form that they had no settlement, which in many cases would require the most experienced lawyer to decide. The Return gave but the Correspondence in cases where the Guardians request the attention of the Poor Law Commissioners; and, therefore, there were probably 40 times as many cases of which the public had not heard. One more case from the Return of August, 1875—that of Mary Lochrey, an orphan girl, from Greenock, to Innishowen Union, in Ireland. Her father got fever and died; the mother and her two brothers died from the same disease; she also caught the fever and alone survived. In the subsequent May she was attacked with small-pox, and removed to the Greenock Infirmary. After her recovery she was sent to the convalescent ward, and from that this afflicted girl was sent to Innishowen Workhouse, accompanied by some man named M'Kenzie, without any warrant. The Guardians of Innishowen called the attention of the Commissioners to the case in these words—Mary Lochrey, an orphan of seven years old, removed from Greenock. The child is only recovering from fever and small-pox, and the medical officer of the workhouse does not consider her sufficiently so to be placed in the ward with other inmates. She knows nothing about her previous residence in Ireland, and comes without the usual warrant, having only a medical certificate.The medical officer, as in other cases, certified on soul and conscience that this wretched orphan was fit to be removed without danger of infecting others. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would leave the estimate of this doctor's conscience to the judgment of the House; and as to whether he had a soul or not, he would not venture an opinion. Again, what redress had the ratepayers of Innishowen? None, save the expression of regret from John Deas, Inspector of Poor, who wrote to say—If her removal at the time, and in the circumstances set forth, had been the means, or was likely to be the means of spreading disease or causing alarm in the district to which she had been removed, he regretted it.664 And he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would particularly call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board to the explanation given by this Inspector why there was no order of removal. He said—I have further to state the journey to Ireland on the 16th July was undertaken in the following circumstances, and for the purpose of procuring reliable information, to enable the Board here subsequently to obtain a removal order, in the event of the parochial authorities at Innishowen, not being satisfied of their liability, or not being willing to undertake the future support of the said Mary Lochrey.Against a system under which so inhuman and illegal an act could be perpetrated the voice of every humane or just man should be raised. Father, mother, brothers, all swept away within the short period of one month. This orphan of tender years alone recovered, but was shortly afterwards afflicted with the most fearful of all diseases—smallpox. The merciful providence of the Great Judge again saved her life, and while she was but convalescent, the Parochial Board of Supervision, without warrant or other authority, handed her over to some unfeeling subordinate, who conveyed her to Innishowen, of which she had never heard, and with which she was in no way connected. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) did not wish to use strong language; but he found it impossible to refrain from characterizing the conduct of this Board of Supervision not only as unfeeling, but inhuman. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) hoped that hon. Members had read the Correspondence between the Board of Supervision in Scotland and the Poor Law Commissioners in Ireland, respecting the shocking cases of removal of lunatics from Scotland, manacled. One passage he would read from a communication from the Commissioners to the Inspector of Poor at Edinburgh. Thus, page 48—Recent cases of a shocking nature, in which, under the removal law of Scotland, dangerous lunatics have been taken out of lunatic asylums in Scotland, and removed in irons to workhouses in Ireland, have caused an aggravation of the sense of injustice referred to.The account given in page 50 of the removal of John Cassidy and Peter O'Donnell revealed cruelty amounting to barbarity. He would not quote further from this Return, nor would he mention the many cases which had occurred since it was made, save one—the 665 case of Thomas Hunt, sent from Bolton Union to Parsonstown, in Ireland, to which The Standard newspaper thus referred:—Thirty years ago he came over to this country from Ireland, and had full work as a stonemason up to six months ago, when he got a paralytic stroke, and was admitted to the Bolton Workhouse. He was instantly shipped over to his native place, and away from his wife and children. Hunt's case, as was shown in the debate last year, is by no means an unusual one; and, consequently, we must admit that the Union Chargeability Act, great an improvement as it effected in the old law, does not protect the poor from grievous hardship.The manner in which those removals, cruel at the best, were effected, added to the hardship inflicted, and The North British Daily Mail, in referring to the same case, alluded to the fact that—The old man was the first to set a stone in the very workhouse from which he was so removed,And concluded by saying that—the Parsonstown Board unanimously granted the admission, and denounced the law that imposed such hardships on old paupers who had spent the best of their days in England.Having, he hoped, satisfied the House on the second portion of his Motion, that great wrongs had been inflicted and sufferings endured under the operation of those laws, he would proceed to the remedy suggested by his Motion. His hon. Friend the Member for the Wigton Burghs (Mr. Mark Stewart) who moved the rejection of the Bill in 1875, admitted that a grievance existed, and expressed a hope that the Government would submit to Parliament some comprehensive scheme by which the law of settlement and removal would be placed on some satisfactory footing. He admitted that the relief system in Ireland was better than in Scotland, and the principal objection urged by him and the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Torr) was, that if the Bill became law, the Scotch and English Unions would be overwhelmed with an immigration of Irish paupers. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) felt that he might put aside that argument, drawn from circumstances resulting from the famine of 1846, when the population of Ireland was 8,500,000; and when it was now under 5,500,000, less than it was 57 years ago. Ireland had not now a superabundant population, and with 666 regard to her pauper population, her position could compare favourably with that of England, and still more favourably with that of Scotland. His hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) also admitted that he had established a grievance, but objected to the Bill on the ground of its particular scope and one-sidedness; and he (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) would admit that to have been the weak part of his case, because the law inflicted hardships and suffering on the destitute poor of England and Scotland as on the destitute Irish pauper living in England or Scotland, although not to the same extent nor accompanied by the same cruelty. He had on the present occasion taken from his Scotch Friends that argument, for his Motion applied generally—the remedy which it suggested being that a residence of 12 months in any part or parts of England and Scotland by a person who maintained himself or herself by some industrial occupation previously to obtaining relief should be irremovable for life. The result of such a change in the law would be that after an industrial residence of 12 months in any part or parts of Great Britain, a poor person would be entitled to relief in the Union in which he became destitute, which would be an assimilation of the law to that of Ireland. It would be said that this might cause an undue accumulation of paupers in any particular Union; but that was met by a Statute that rendered a person liable to a month's imprisonment for going from one Union in which he had been resident to another for the purpose of obtaining relief, and by the fact that the Irish system had been found to work admirably, as proved by Sir Alfred Power and others. Then, as to the law of settlement, it must be recollected that it had been almost universally condemned. Every writer and statesman from Adam Smith to the present time had done so. A Select Committee of this House in 1847 passed the following Resolutions:—1. Resolved—That the law of settlement and removal is generally productive of hardship to the poor and injurious to the working classes, by impeding the free circulation of labour.2. Resolved—That it is injurious to the employers of labour and impedes the improvement of agriculture.3. Resolved—That it is injurious to the ratepayers, by occasioning expense in litigation and removal of paupers.6674. Resolved—That the power of removing destitute poor persons from one parish to another in England and Wales be abolished.The evidence given before the Select Committee of 1859 was strongly in favour of its abolition. Every official Report and the evidence of the most experienced Inspectors were in favour of its repeal. Mr. Pashley, Q.C., a high authority upon the question, strongly recommended to do away with the laws of settlement, and to relieve the poor in the place they chose for their own residence; and Dr. Allison, Professor of Medicine in the University of Edinburgh, in a paper read by him at the Statistical Society in Belfast, said—The simpler, cheaper, and more satisfactory solution is to do away with legal rights of settlement altogether, and let relief be administered to destitution wherever it shows itself under the best checks that can be devised for ascertaining the distress and apportioning the aid given.That was exactly the law as it now stood in Ireland, and he remembered that his hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), in a former debate, stated that the Irish system had been more successful than either that of England or Scotland. He believed that the public opinion of England was in favour of the abolition of the law of settlement, and that the feeling of the people of Scotland was in favour of a radical change in the law of removal. In the year 1871, Mr. Craufurd, then Member for Ayr, obtained a Select Committee, which received evidence for two years, and made a Report in reference to a residential settlement under the Scotch law, to the following effect:—The practical result is to throw many paupers back on the parish of their birth, frequently at the close of a long life spent in a totally different part of the country. This evil is aggravated by the fact that most of the towns which constitute the chief centres of labour are divided into more than one parish, and a change of residence from one part of the same town to another may either prevent the acquirement of a residential settlement or defeat it after it has been acquired.Mr. Craufurd introduced a Bill founded upon that Report, but was unable to prosecute it before the late Parliament was dissolved. In the last Session, the noble Marquess the Member for Argyllshire (the Marquess of Lorne) presented a Petition from a Parochial Board in that county praying that towns receiving the benefit of the Indus- 668 residences of parties who had spent long periods in those towns should be charged with their support on their becoming paupers. He (Mr. M'Carthy Downing) now appealed to the good sense, judgment, and humane feelings of the Representatives of the people to support his Motion, which, if carried, must result in the repeal of the laws to which he had referred, and under which so much wrong and suffering had been endured. His appeal was not on behalf of the destitute Irish alone—it was as well on behalf of the destitute English and Scotch. He felt that he had occupied a very considerable portion of the time of the House, and expressed his grateful acknowledgments for the patience and attention with which it had heard him. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Laws under which the destitute poor receiving relief from the poor's rate are subject to removal in England and Scotland in their operation inflict many wrongs and cause great sufferings; that they are unjust and impolitic; therefore, That, in the opinion of this House, the said Laws ought to be so amended as that every poor person who shall have maintained himself or herself for twelve months by some industrial occupation in any parish, combination of parishes, or union in England, Wales, or Scotland, previously to receiving such relief, shall not be subject to removal therefrom."-(Mr. M'Carthy Downing.)
§ MR. MARK STEWART
said, he was sure he was only expressing the general opinion of the House in saying that ever since the speech of the hon. Member for Cork first called attention to the subject, an interest had been awakened in it. He would not follow his example of making a long speech, though he rose to oppose the Motion, in which there was, no doubt, much to excite their deep feeling on behalf of those persons who were subject to the hardships complained of, which had been narrated by the hon. Member (Mr. M'Carthy Downing). He would content himself by referring to a few facts, to show the position in which they stood in Scotland in regard to this question. The speech of the hon. Member was very much made up of those harassing details of wretchedness and misery which accompanied those persons who were forcibly removed; but, while he had no doubt 669 given them touching scenes, at the same time he must know that many of them were not subjected to the treatment to which he had referred, and it was quite the exception. He (Mr. Mark Stewart) had never known in his experience of any case of actual hardship. He lived very near Ireland, and represented Stranraer—a town containing the largest population in Wigtownshire—where only 10 cases of removal had occurred during the last 10 years; while, from the whole county of Wigtown, from 1870 to 1875, five years inclusive, by the last Return presented to the House, only eight paupers and seven dependents had been removed to Ireland, and great care was taken by the authorities to avoid hardship. That did not show that this law operated in the hard-hearted, tyrannical manner, which had been so forcibly depicted by the hon. Member. No doubt there were cases of hardship in which mothers had given birth to their offspring at unexpected times, and although there was every precaution taken by medical testimony and by magistrates, still mistakes would occur which nothing short of foresight would remedy. However, he was quite ready to admit that the law might be advantageously altered, and he heartily wished that the Government would bring in some Bill which would render more uniform the law of settlement of the poor in Scotland and Ireland. The people of Scotland were perfectly willing to give Irish paupers who came to Scotland the same advantage that they gave to their own poor in Scotland, and he would concede that the Scotch law of settlement should be made applicable to the Irish. But would that be accepted, for hon. Members knew very well that Irishmen did not remain very long in one place? Hon. Members knew very well that there was great difficulty in dealing with the race; they migrated rapidly; so that a man might very well live 30 or 40 years in Scotland without staying more than a very few months in a particular parish. The same thing happened in the South of Scotland, whence many persons went to the mining and manufacturing districts, and no more was heard of them until after they had passed the best of their years and were broken down in health, they became chargeable on the parishes where they were born, or left 670 large families chargeable upon them, without these parishes getting any remuneration from the localities that had benefited by their labour. There was, no doubt, occasional hardship; but he could not consent to lessening the term of residence necessary for a settlement. If it were lessened to one year as proposed, Scotland would be inundated with Irish paupers, and its poor rates would soon be doubled. He wanted to point out to the House the inconvenience of a Motion of this kind. He had not the slightest objection that the hon. Member should come down to the House armed with all the facts of the case; but, unfortunately, when he took the course he did in 1875, they had no immediate facts to guide them in the discussion of the question; and now Returns had been moved for some months ago by the hon. Member and himself, which, although being prepared, were not yet given to Members, though nearly ready. Well, in July of 1875 a Return was granted, which was published in August following, and as they were of an interesting character, and had not, at the time of that debate, been published, or had ever been referred to in the House as far as he was aware, he would now quote from them. These Returns gave the number of persons removed from England and Wales to Ireland, and it appeared that from 1870 to 1874, inclusive, 1,263 such persons were removed from England and 23 from Wales, making a total of 1,286, or an average per annum of 257; while the number for the same period from Scotland was no less than 1,151, or a yearly average of 230. Again, the Returns published in 1875 showed that the number of paupers receiving relief in Scotland, but born in Ireland, including those in workhouses and those in receipt of out-door relief, was 58,474. On the other hand, the number of paupers receiving relief in Ireland who were born in Scotland in six months of 1875, was 196. So that, while they had of Scotch people only 196 living on the relief fund of Ireland, the Irish had 58,474 persons living at the expense of Scotland.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
asked, whether the heading of that Return was not "Irish born and descendants of Irish?"
§ MR. MARK STEWART
The heading that he copied down was "Num- 671 ber of paupers, including children, receiving relief in Scotland, born in Ireland," and the Return went on to specify what the children were, not exceeding 16 years. Then there was another Return in May, 1876, of the number of paupers born in England receiving relief in Irish workhouses, including dependents—namely, 259; and on the 1st of July, 1875, the paupers born in England receiving out-door relief in Ireland numbered 30; while the persons born in England receiving relief in lunatic asylums in Ireland were 49; making together a total of 358. What were the facts on the other side? The number of persons born in Ireland receiving relief in England and Wales, with their dependents, including workhouse relief, out-door relief, and relief in lunatic asylums, &c., was no fewer than 40,016. That was for the six months ending January 1, 1875. For the six months ending July 1, 1875, they numbered 36,266, making together a total of 76,277 Irish persons who were living at the expense of England and Wales, as against 358 persons born in England who were living at the expense of Ireland. These figures showed that the hardship of the present system was not all one way. He had a letter sent to him once in which it was stated that in a certain Union in Ireland it used to be written up in large characters that whoever went over to Scotland immediately before the harvest should have his passage paid and a suit of clothes. [Mr. KING-HARMAN: What is the name of the Union in question?] He believed it was in Roscommon. That was an illustration of what could be done by a Union that was anxious to get rid of its poor. There was no such thing as settlement in Ireland, and therefore the people of that country went over to Scotland or England in order to obtain a comfortable settlement. He should be glad to see a more uniform system of removal, and he appealed to his Friends on the Treasury Bench, whether they did not see their way to legislate on the matter in a comprehensive manner. The sooner that was done the better it would be for Ireland, England, and Scotland, and the House would be spared the pain of listening to such heartrending narratives as they had heard that evening.
§ MR. KING-HARMAN
, in supporting the Resolution moved by the hon. Mem- 672 ber for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), denied that the Irish people went over in large numbers to England and Scotland to live upon the charity of those countries. Because there were so few manufactures in their own country, Irishmen went to obtain honest employment in the manufacturing and mining industry of England and Scotland as long as their health and strength would enable them to work, and when their energies were exhausted and they had become old, they were not only sent back themselves to Ireland, but their wives and children, who, in many instances, had never seen that country, were sent back with them under circumstances of the greatest hardship. Surely that was a monstrous system, and one that ought not to be perpetuated. The hon. Member who spoke last had mentioned the case of a union in Roscommon in which their passage money and clothes were offered to Irishmen to induce them to go to Scotland. He did not believe that such a thing had really been done, and as there were three unions in the county of Roscommon, he would challenge the hon. Gentleman to say which of them his statement referred to. It was said that the Irishmen who went to Scotland were restless and vagrant; but the fact was that they had to follow their work, and they could not obtain a settlement on account of the extreme harshness of the Scotch law. There was no excuse for the ruthless way in which Irish people were sent back to their parishes when disabled by age or sickness, except the inequality and injustice of a law which required amendment. The present state of the law was known to be regarded with indignation all over Ireland. Nor did he think that indignation was without justification, for although he could not say that the law, as it existed, was exceptionally directed against Ireland, he did say that it pressed with peculiar severity on them, owing to the peculiar circumstances of the case. He appealed to the President of the Local Government Board to do something to diminish the hardship of the present law.
§ MR. RATHBONE
said, that an enormous number of Irish people annually crossed over to Liverpool, and those who could prove a one year's residence could not be sent back. In many cases Irish poor could be removed if the law were 673 enforced, but the Liverpool Guardians did not enforce the law when they felt that its enforcement would be a hardship. Those who had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Cork might be of opinion that the Liverpool Union was in the habit of sending back, under the most cruel circumstances, hundreds of Irish who had worked for years in Liverpool; but that was simply not the fact. About one-fourth of the inhabitants of Liverpool were Irish; but more than half of the pauperism and half of the crime in Liverpool was Irish. The ratepayers did not object to the burden of that pauperism and crime; they felt that it came naturally to them, as a consequence of Irish labour, which was most useful to Liverpool; but what the ratepayers did object to was the throwing upon England of pauperism which resulted from crime and wrong in Ireland. There was a time when an organization existed in Dublin for the express purpose of sending people to England. Women were sent from Ireland expressly to be confined here. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members might say "Oh!" but that was a fact; and, if he was not mistaken, one of the cases of hardship referred to by the hon. Member for Cork belonged to that category. If hon. Members would visit Liverpool, they would find that large numbers of Irish paupers received far better treatment there than was accorded to paupers in Irish workhouses. There were no such hospitals in any town in Ireland for the care of paupers as there were in Liverpool. This was one of the difficulties of their position, because it acted as an attraction to the Irish to resort to their city. It was not wise to introduce a question of this sort, and to make exaggerated and incorrect statements against a town which treated Irish poor with most considerate kindness. He had been reminded that he had many Irish constituents; but he was sure that his Irish constituents knew him too well to believe that such a hint was necessary, or that it would in any way influence his conduct.
§ MR. BRUEN
supported the Motion. He joined with the hon. Member who introduced it in affirming that very great hardship was inflicted by the removal of persons to Ireland, many of whom had no connection with that country. When figures were produced showing the number 674 of Irish paupers chargeable upon the rates in England and Scotland, it should be remembered that countries having great centres of industry naturally attracted a large number of the Irish poor seeking for a livelihood, and the benefit England and Scotland derived from the labour was quite equal to the cost of those maintained on the rates. It was exceedingly difficult to apportion the rate of chargeability; but as a remedy was essential, he would suggest the expediency of establishing something like a Clearing House, by which the chargeability of paupers could be ascertained, and the charge be apportioned, without removing the paupers. He hoped they would hear from the President of the Local Government Board a repetition of the expressions which fell from him on a previous occasion, when he said that he trusted they might see the day when this cruel law of removal would be abolished. He could not conceive how anyone could stand up in the House and defend a system by which a man could be imported from one part of the Kingdom to another simply because he became chargeable on the rates for relief. The Poor Law of Ireland was enacted at a later date than that of England, and the system which prevailed under it was, and perhaps for that reason, a more merciful one than that now in force in this country.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, that while he could not agree with every word of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), he sympathized with the object he had in view in submitting it to the House. He knew that what his hon. Friend had stated as to the hardship inflicted upon Irish paupers in their removal was borne out by the fact. His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone) said that the statements made had been exaggerated, and there was, perhaps, some slight exaggeration in reference to the town his hon. Friend represented; but the case was one which did not at all require high colouring. No exaggeration whatever was necessary, as each case which had been or could be adduced was in itself bad enough to show that an alteration of the law was required. In regard to the Resolution of his hon. Friend, if he would leave out all the words after "amended," so that it would read, in the "opinion of the 675 House the said laws ought to be amended," he would be happy to give it his support. It might be a matter for consideration whether the English and Scotch law should be assimilated to the Irish, or the Irish to the English and Scotch; but it was certain that the present condition of the law was almost a disgrace to the United Kingdom. The system in operation had certainly been modified in later years, so as to bear with less hardship on Irish paupers; but he should be glad to see the day when the Law of Settlement would be abolished altogether. He did not say that could be done without hedging it round with many conditions, and special cases like that of Liverpool, where there was an unusually large percentage of Irish paupers, would have to be provided for. But they ought to look at the question from a broad point of view. Irish workmen were more and more wanted in this country, and it was a hardship that, after passing the best part of their lives in England or Scotland, they should, when misfortune overtook them, have no industrial settlement, and must be sent back to Ireland. He considered the case of Scotland to be the worst. The Law of Settlement was very severe. In the first place, five years' residence was required; and, in the second place, it was only residence in a parish, and not in a Union, as in England. In Glasgow a man might, by removing from one side of the street to another, change into a separate parish, and so lose his industrial settlement. He hoped his right hon. Friend would be able to tell them that he could take the matter up, and deal with the inequalities existing between the three countries. If they were ever to have a perfect union between the three Kingdoms, they must have in this respect one law, adaptable to all. He thought, at least, they might be able to minimize the conditions of removal. There were many towns in Lancashire which never removed a pauper, and one of these was Manchester. If a place like Manchester, where there was a large Irish population, could do without removing the paupers, he thought it showed that the same thing could be done in other parts of the country.
said, it must be very gratifying to the hon. Member who had moved the Resolution to find that 676 no one had risen to defend the system which he attacked. The number of paupers which had been sent back to Ireland from England had been very few. From Scotland the number had been larger, and the persons sent had been mainly old men and women, who, leaving Ireland young, had spent the best years of their life away from their native places, and had then, in old age and poverty, been sent back to the Unions, which had derived no advantage from their work when they were able to take part in industrial pursuits. In regard to some observations that had fallen from speakers in the debate, he did not think the poor relief given in this country was so very superior to that given in Ireland. If England and Scotland would make in-door relief the rule, and out-door relief the exception, it would be an immense advantage to the ratepayers of the country. The present state of the law was a cause of complaint to Ireland, and he would be happy to see the law so far assimilated as to make the complaint to cease.
§ MR. FRENCH
thought it had been clearly shown that the law of England as to settlement was in a very unsatisfactory state. He was sorry the hon. Member for Cork had not gone a little farther, and advocated the abolition of the Law of Settlement and Removal altogether. He thought the Irish law would work exceedingly well in England and Scotland. He cordially supported the Motion.
§ MR. VANS AGNEW
thought that the hon. Member, in introducing this subject, had dwelt rather too much upon exceptional cases. A great deal had been said about the Scotch Poor Law. The settlement in Scotland was only that of the parish and not of the Union, and a residential settlement when acquired might be lost if a person was absent for four years and one day from the place where he had possessed it, falling back then on the place of his birth. That was the reason why so many settlements were lost in Scotland. But removal was not a grievance that applied to the Irish only. The Scotch had the same grievance in regard to labourers who went to England, and it was only an additional reason why the laws of the three Kingdoms should be brought into similarity. When the Irish labourers went over to Scotland, they did so with 677 the intention of getting work, and not of acquiring a settlement. The settlement of the wives and children must follow that of the heads of their families. He believed that the place of birth of the head of the family in the cases referred to must have been Ireland, otherwise they would not have been removed. A more stringent enforcement of in-door relief had been recommended; but the poor rates in Scotland could not be rendered lighter by that means, from the fact that they were not under the necessity of having workhouses, and had no power of enforcing in-door relief in Scotland such as could be enforced in England and Ireland. He should be glad if Her Majesty's Government could see their way to deal with the general Law of Settlement and Removal.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, that in every part of Ireland there were tales of extreme hardship, resulting from the existing system. He hoped that some Members of Her Majesty's Government would be able to state to-night that they saw their way to remedying the admitted evil. The simplest way to do so would be to remove the power of Removal and abolish the Law of Settlement. He should like to know where the large manufacturing towns of England, such as Barrow and Middlesborough, would have been if it had not been for Irish labourers; for it was undoubtedly the fact that those places had been made large commercial centres by Irish labour. That being the case, he thought the Irish labourers were treated most unfairly under the present Poor Law system when they became unable to support themselves. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would undertake, on the part of the Government, to take a step in the direction to which all the speeches that had been delivered to-night tended.
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, that although the debate had lasted some hours, there appeared to be no dispute as to the general proposition suggested by the hon. Gentleman's Motion—namely, that in the operation of the Law of Removal there was some harshness and severity, in favour of which not one word could be said on either side of the House. But the attack on the Law of Removal to-night had been made entirely from an Irish point of view. He admitted that the time was coming when 678 the Law of Removal must be modified, if not abolished; but the local authorities were not at present satisfied that the time had actually arrived for an absolute and sweeping change in that respect, and the conferences that had taken place for some years past on this subject throughout England had shrunk from the proposition that removal should be entirely abolished. Whenever the Law of Removal came to be materially altered or abolished, it must be accompanied by certain compensating provisions. There must, for instance, be a much more stringent vagrancy law. There must also be a law of domicile, by which every individual would have a place of residence assigned to him; and, in addition, there must be a much more stringent system of out-door relief than had ever prevailed in this country. The administration of out-door relief had, indeed, greatly improved during the last few years; but not so universally as to admit of an alteration in the law at the present moment. In theory, no doubt, the hardship was as great in removing a pauper from the North to the South of England as it was from England to Ireland. The operation of the Law of Removal in regard to Irish paupers was in process of rapid mitigation. Acts of Parliament were passed in 1856, 1859, and 1865, relating to the law of irremovability. As the law now stood, if a pauper had resided in the Union for a period of one year without receiving relief, he could not be removed from that Union; and, of course, Irish as well as English paupers had the advantage of this law. The number of removals to Ireland had been reduced in the last eight or ten years to about 250 annually. The great proportion of these removals took place in Lancashire and Liverpool. ["No!"] Well, in the last 3¾ years there had been 888 removals from England to Ireland. Out of these, 368 were from Liverpool, 126 from the rest of Lancashire—making 494 from the whole of that county. From the Metropolis there were 143 removals, and from the rest of the country 221; and, so small was the area to which the operation of this practice extended, that out of 650 Unions in England and Wales, there were only 66 Unions from which removals to Ireland had been effected in the last four years. A mitigating process was, therefore, going on. He 679 now came to a period in which he was more particularly concerned. In 1875, he brought forward a proposal with a view of mitigating the hardships attending removals to Ireland. His offer was not accepted in the form in which it was made, and therefore he was released from any obligation which he had incurred; but he did not feel justified on that account in refraining from endeavouring to propose something satisfactory, and which might mitigate what he admitted to be the harshness and severity of the law. In the Poor Law Amendment Bill of 1876, he introduced a proposal for the special benefit of the Irish pauper, that there should be a settlement founded on the same condition as those which made up the status of removability—that where an Irishman should be settled in a parish for three years, without being chargeable to the rates, it should not only give him a status of removal, but also a settlement in the parish. If the question affected the Irish pauper alone, he should not have been very particular as to whether the period ought to be three or two years, or whether the settlement should be gained in the parish or Union; but there were other difficulties to be encountered, and it was not desirable to mix up this question of settlement with that of irremovability. Settlement was an old feature of the law to which a great many legal conditions attached, and they could not be decided without very careful consideration. It was too soon, however, as yet, to judge of the effect of that change in the law, and, besides, there had been some confusion with regard to the application of the law. A difficulty had arisen as to whether it was intended that the Act should be retrospective, and some conflicting decisions had been given. There could be no doubt whatever that the intention was to make the Act retrospective, and he was happy to say that, in a recent decision, that interpretation had been given to the Act. If that view were not supported by future cases, he should be disposed to cure any ambiguity in that respect. He really thought injustice had been done to Liverpool, where the Poor Law was well administered, and the workhouses admirably managed. There was evidence in the Blue Book, showing that in some cases poor women went over from Ireland to Liverpool with the express 680 purposes of being confined in England. He did not mean to say that this would justify the removal of women under such circumstances. Only two cases of complaint had been brought under his notice since he came into Office; but in both of them he had every reason to be confident that the Guardians and workhouse authorities were humane and kindly people, who would commit no act of cruelty; and he might remind the House that Statutes had been expressly made in order to provide against the repetition of the harsh treatment that was formerly the rule. As far as he could ascertain, even in the Nottingham case, every care had been taken that the pauper should be properly conveyed to his destination. As regards the Law of Settlement, he did not see how that could be shifted every few years, as the law had to be administered by the Guardians throughout the Kingdom and comprehended by the poor, for whom an often-changed and undefined law was wholly unsuitable. The hon. Member would see the extreme difficulty of carrying out his proposition in practice, and in many other points he would see that the law was not the same all over the United Kingdom. Of all subjects, this particularly caused jealousy between the local and central authorities, and, in his judgment, the time had not yet arrived when a measure of reform could be hopefully introduced. He had a Consolidation Bill in preparation, and did not know that he should have to propose any very serious changes in the Poor Law system; but, with respect to the Law of Removal, the Act of 1876 would have to be re-considered according to recent experience. He deprecated, however, being compelled to bring in his Bill at a particular time. With reference to the Resolution, he thought the hon. Member would find it more expedient to rest satisfied with the debate, and to refrain from pressing his proposal to a division. It was, doubtless, true that the laws in question had in their operation inflicted many wrongs; but they had not, he submitted, been unjust. The particular remedy propounded in the Resolution was not really applicable, because it confused two Laws of Removal and Settlement which should be left distinct. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would believe him willing to do all that was in his power to improve the law relating to 681 Ireland. There was no reason to suppose that the present or any other Government would be blind to the considerations of humanity; and, without giving any pledge that the law of the two countries should be made absolutely uniform, he could assure the hon. Member for Cork that no effort would be wanting on his part, as far as possible, to diminish cases of hardship.
§ MR. PELL
said, he could not agree to the remark which had been made by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Rathbone). It appeared to him that he desired to have all the work that Irishmen could give, yet not to bear any of the burdens. [Mr. RATHBONE: I distinctly said the contrary.] That was the inference he (Mr. Pell) drew from the speech of the hon. Member. He seemed to have a sort of wholesome horror of the Irish pauper which did not extend to the Irish workman. He agreed with the Motion of the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy Downing), and thought that if they had the work of the Irish people, they were bound to relieve them so long as the law existed in its present state. What would be the state of the country if Irish labour were withdrawn? If advantage were taken of a strong and able, and, he might say, industrious race of people, the necessary consequences ought to be borne. What were the consequences? He did not think that any evil consequences arose from these old people settling in the borders of England in their advanced age. It was, no doubt, the result of a bad administration of the Poor Law that these poor people should think that, by remaining in the neighbourhood where they had worked, they would gain some advantages over what they would receive in their own country. Perhaps, the treatment which they would meet with as a class in Ireland would be better than that in England; but if the administration of the Poor Law in England led Irish paupers to remain in the particular districts in which they were located, Parliament ought not to deny them that freedom, and drag them away from the place where they lived and where they wished to die. There was great truth in what the President of the Local Government Board had stated, that they ought not hastily to make sweeping changes. If the word "sweeping" were taken, away, he thought some 682 change ought to be made. He did not desire to see the Law of Settlement remain as it was. He should like to see greater freedom given; and, as he had said once before in that House, he thought the Law of Settlement was unjust and unreasonable. For his own part—and he had had some acquaintance with the districts where many persons from Ireland came—he did not find that they burdened these districts with pauperism more than the English, in those cases where the law was fairly and properly administered. On that account, he should give his support to the Motion that had been made by the hon. Member for Cork. It was evident from the latter part of the Motion—that which referred to the change which he desired to see in the law—he had fallen into some error. He understood that his intention was that if any person had made an industrial occupation for one year in a parish, in any part of the Kingdom, that he should not be removed there-from. That was really the present law. If suffering from illness, and unable to maintain himself, then it was only just that, for such period as he required relief, he should be a charge upon the locality in which he had worked. Upon the restoration of his health, he would be just as able and useful as before, and his work would be wanted in the spot in which he had been relieved. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman was going to a division or not; but he should certainly support him.
§ MR. D. DAVIES
said, he had had a great deal to do with Irish labourers. He was pleased to find the good feeling that there was in the House upon this question, and he certainly would support the Motion if it went to a division. He was glad, also, to see that there was a good feeling on the part of the Government towards it. He wished to state his opinion that the law should be altered so as to make it unnecessary to remove any poor Irishman or woman back to Ireland against his or her will. Any measure to carry that out he should support. He could remember many occasions on which he had employed Irishmen to go to Ireland to seek labour. These Irishmen did not come to this country of their own accord, but on pressure when their labour was required. It would be a great hardship that after they had had that 683 labour, they should refuse to bear the burden. England had had that labour; and what was any country without labour? Whatever faults the Irish had, England had their labour; and it certainly would be most cruel that, having had it, England should send them back to Ireland whenever they became incapacitated. In his opinion, it would be very unjust, and a reflection on a civilized nation, that they should compel poor Irish men and women to go back to Ireland against their will when unable to keep themselves. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Motion proved that 76,000 Irish were being supported in different parishes in England and Scotland. But that only showed the vast number of Irish people there were in England, and who formed the wealth of this great country. What would England be without labour? Wealth was only an accumulation of labour, and the Irish people did accumulate a vast amount of wealth for England. They should not be sent back to Ireland, because it was a poor country; and he had never heard weaker arguments than those adduced in favour of that proposition.
§ MR. DELAHUNTY
said, that the reason why Irishmen came over to England was that they were forced by circumstances arising from bad legislation. Years ago Irishmen were able to maintain themselves in their own country, and some 50 or 60 years ago Ireland was making equal progress with England in industrial development. Legislation had produced for Ireland a state of things which compelled Irishmen to leave their country in order to live by their labour. Arthur Young, writing 100 years ago, said that the towns in Ireland were very much increased in the previous 20 years, and that Ireland had been rebuilt within that time; and he referred to that as a strong indication of the rising prosperity of the country. The population of Ireland then was constantly increasing, and there was no necessity for the people to go to Scotland or England to seek employment. That state of things continued till 1826, and up to that time Irish labour neither went to England, Scotland, nor Wales. When they came to seek for the cause of Irishmen now leaving their country in search of employment, he would refer to a description of Ireland given by 684 the present Prime Minister in 1868, very different to that given by Young in 1778. He said that the condition of Ireland in 1845 was deplorable, and described the miserable manner in which the population dwelt. They had, he said, no clothes, no shelter, and insufficient food, and dwellings not fit for the lower animals. That was, he said, no doubt, true; and, under such circumstances, men would be discontented with any form of government. The Prime Minister went further; it was not necessary for him to say how far he went; he would only say that at that time, owing to misgovernment, the people of Ireland were insufficiently clothed and fed, and had no dwellings fit to live in, although they had a fine country. Since that time the country had become depopulated, and instead of what should be now 12,000,000 or 13,000,000 of people living in affluence and wealth by manufactures, they had been reduced to 5,000,000. And now England, which had profited by the labour of Irishmen thus forced to go there, sent them back, while America retained those who had to emigrate to her shores. The people which came over to England and enriched the country were sent back in their old age. All he could say was that if Ireland were governed by the same laws as England, she would enjoy the same prosperity, and there would be no necessity for Irishmen to come here. So far as regarded the question before the House, he trusted the hon. Member for Cork would press his Resolution to a division. He was not at all satisfied with the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman that something should be done, and with this view he begged to support the Resolution of the hon. Member for Cork.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he agreed that there must be a settlement somewhere if there were to be any Pool Law at all. They had had an administration of the Poor Law since the age of Queen Elizabeth, and the foundation of it had been local administration by local authorities. He, therefore, hoped the House would have its attention called to the very grave principle involved in the Motion now before it. For his part, he had no ill-feeling towards the people of Ireland; but why was Ireland poor? Ireland was poor because the 685 Irish people, for reasons as to which there might be a difference of opinion, had not been able to make it rich. The elements of prosperity were there if they were only developed. Hon. Members had told the House that Home Rule would add to Irish prosperity; but how came it that at that moment they were proposing a principle directly in opposition to Home Rule? The House was informed that Home Rule was the local self-government that was required in Ireland, and yet they were about to strike at the root of local self-government. That must be an Irish view of the question; but to his uninstructed English intellect it seemed that the Poor Law was founded upon the Law of Settlement, and could only be administered on that basis. It did appear to him extremely inconsistent that the advocates of Home Rule should propose to abolish a principle which was the foundation of local self-government. If there were anything harsh towards those who sought its protection in the present Poor Law, he should be glad to see it abolished; but that was very different from striking at one of the vital principles of local self-government. He, therefore, hoped that the Motion would not be accepted by Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
felt rather disappointed with the reply which he had received from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. In 1875, he promised to consider the whole subject, and to bring in a measure of a comprehensive character that would apply to the three Kingdoms. Yet, in the whole of his speech that night, he had not referred at all to the state of the law in Scotland. The object of the Resolution he had moved was that Irishmen and Scotchmen in England who had been 12 months in one parish, or had been 11 months in one parish and one month in another, would become irremovable. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman undertake to make the law of Scotland the same as that of England? He avoided that altogether, notwithstanding the expression of feeling on the part of the whole House; and he must say, for the credit of the Scotch Members, that they were anxious to see the same law applied to Scotland as existed in England. He did expect that the right hon. Gentle- 686 man would have accepted the proposal of the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert); and if it had been admitted that 12 months' industrial occupation in any part of England or Scotland would have been a settlement, he should have been willing to have accepted that proposition. He thanked the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) for his speech in favour of the poor Irish, to whom he had given so high a character. Then, there was his hon. Friend (Mr. D. Davis), who had borne his testimony to the work of the Irish in this country; and who, after 30 or 40 years' service, were sent back to their country as mere lumber and refuse. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, having promised nothing and not being prepared to adopt the Resolution, there was nothing for him to do but to divide the House.
§ MR. VERNER
hoped the House would be able to come to a conclusion without a division. This certainly might be accomplished by an alteration of the wording of the Resolution, which would, he believed, be acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. After the many kindly speeches which had been delivered that night in reference to Ireland, he did not think the Lobby should be resorted to; and therefore he suggested that, instead of the latter part of the Resolution, the words should be "that the law requires consideration with a view to amendment."
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "inflict," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "hardships, and requires consideration with a view their amendment,"—(Mr. Verner,)—instead thereof.
§ MR. STACPOOLE
hoped his hon. Friend the Member for the county of Cork would not agree to the alteration as suggested. The Amendment would be of no use to Ireland, and, therefore, should not be accepted.
§ MR. M'CARTHY DOWNING
said, after the remarks of his hon. Friend, considering all the circumstances of the case, and the kind of feeling which had 687 characterized the debate, he was prepared to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.