HC Deb 28 May 1880 vol 252 cc639-40

asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, If his attention has been called to the following statement, made by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, locum tenens, as chairman of a meeting of the Dublin Mansion House Relief Fund Committee, held on Tuesday last, the 25th inst., and reported in the "Freeman's Journal" of the 26th, from which it appears that— The Committee had distributed on an average £7,000 a week, and it would be necessary to keep up the relief in order to preserve the people from famine and death for at least twelve weeks longer, that is, up to the 15th of August, if not still longer, in many parts of Ireland. It would require £84,000 to give during that time the same proportion of relief they had been giving hitherto, and out of that they had scarcely £21,000 left to-day, so that they would require assistance to the amount of £63,000 more to enable them to keep up the relief until the harvest; and, whether, in view of the imminent national peril thus disclosed, the Government will now proceed to institute such measures as may effectually provide against a recurrence of famine in Ireland?


Mr. Speaker, I read yesterday in The Freeman's Journal the statement to which the hon. Member refers, and I have given that close attention to it which it requires. I can only repeat, what I have said before here and elsewhere, that the officers of the Local Government Board in Ireland are carefully watching the condition of the distressed Unions in which it is expected that the charitable relief which has hitherto been so generally given must come to an end. There will be, and there is, a considerable increase of employment, owing to the works for which loans have been advanced to landlords and public bodies, and the Local Government Board Inspectors have orders to secure that out-door relief be given when necessary. With regard to the second part of the Question of the hon. Gentleman—whether the Government will now proceed to institute such measures as may effectually provide against a recurrence of famine in Ireland—I cannot admit that there has been this year a famine, though there has been in some districts great distress, and in some cases there would have been some famine unless public and private assistance had been given. I hardly need repeat that the Government think it their duty to consider what the law can rightly do to prevent the recurrence of such distress; but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that no law or no Government is all-powerful in these matters.