HC Deb 22 July 1882 vol 272 cc1479-82

Order for Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the Government were ready to make a great concession in connection with the Bill. They intended to give the power to grant pensions to Boards of Guardians, leaving to Union officers who wore dissatisfied with their action a right of appeal to the Local Government Board. After the second reading he intended to move that it be referred to a Select Committee of Irish Members. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) said the majority of the Irish Members were opposed to the Bill. He (Mr. Herbert Gladstone) had taken great trouble to ascertain the feelings of the Irish Members, and he had found that a considerable majority were strongly in its favour. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) approved of it; so did the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan), and other Gentlemen from Ireland who usually sat below the Gangway. On the Government side of the House all the Irish Members approved of it, except, perhaps, the hon. Member for Cork County (Mr. Shaw), though even he was quite content that it should be read a second time, if it was afterwards to be referred to a Select Committee.

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


thought the Government had taken a very reasonable course in reference to this Bill. After the statement of the hon. Member for Leeds he would support the second reading tonight. He differed from the Government on certain principles of this Bill, notably on the appeal to the Local Government Board. At the same time, if the Committee of Irish Members was reasonably chosen, the Bill would be carefully revised and made acceptable.


thought the proposal of a Select Committee of Irish Members a fair and sensible one.


said, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Gentleman said he did not wish to force the Bill on Irish Members; but it certainly was an action very like forcing it on when the Bill was called at 11 o'clock on a Saturday night, and after the House had been occupied for 11 hours in a Scotch discussion. He opposed the Bill, and he had put down his Notice of opposition in order that the Bill should only be taken when it could be properly discussed. It might appear to the English and Scotch that the Bill was of slight importance; but to Ireland it was a really very important Bill, and would add materially to the burden on the taxpayers of Ireland. The Bill proposed to give the Local Government Board power to grant superannuations to officers of Unions of all classes. The Local Government Board was distrusted by the people of Ireland, and not without cause. Hon. Members might recollect how circumstances in connection with the Board had been detailed in the House not long ago. He moved, therefore, that the debate be adjourned for the reasons which he had given, and he hoped the hon. Member would accede to the Motion. He assured him that he would not expedite the Bill if he insisted on carrying the second reading in the absence of many Irish Members who would possibly take an interest in it. Of course the Government were stronger than they were; but he presumed they would have other Saturday Sittings before the Session was out. If they chose to prevent this Bill coming on, there was nothing easier for them than to have struck in on the Scotch Bill.


said, he rose to second the Motion for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Waterford. They had no knowledge whatever that this Bill would be proposed for consideration at this hour of the night. The experience he had of the Local Government Board gave him the profoundest distrust in it, and he considered that there could be no greater monstrosity than that the tribunal that should grant men superannuation was a tribunal which had no cognizance of the individual merits or demerits of the men to whom they were granting the superannuation.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."— (Mr. Leamy.)


really thought this Bill ought to be read a second time. He asked hon. Members to consider the course his hon. Friend (Mr. Herbert Gladstone) proposed to take. What he asked was that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee composed of 13 Irish Members; and surely there could be no fairer means of ascertaining the merits and bearings of a Bill of this kind for Ireland. This was the latest date at which a Select Committee could be appointed, and in 25 minutes it would be Sunday morning.


suggested to the hon. Member for Waterford that he should withdraw his Motion. Nobody could be more opposed to this Bill than he was. He considered that many of its provisions were objectionable; but, at the same time, he was bound to admit that some provision should, as was proposed in this Bill, be made to meet the very scandalous circumstances that arose with regard to the superannuation of certain officers of Poor Law Unions. But the consideration that influenced him in making this suggestion was the fact that, for the first time in his experience of Parliament, it was proposed to allow a Bill to go to a Select Committee of Irish Members representing every phase of Irish opinion.


joined with his hon. Friend in the suggestion he had just made. It seemed to him to be a very fair way of dealing with this Bill, and was a great advance on the way hitherto adopted of dealing with Irish Bills.


said, he would support the second reading.


said, he would join in the suggestion that the Motion should be withdrawn, if it was proposed to examine in Committee a few witnesses on each side.


hoped the hon. Member for Leeds would proceed with his Motion for the second reading. There was a desire in the North of Ireland for an improvement in the law in this respect, and the proposal that had been made to refer the Bill to a Select Committee was a very reasonable one, which should satisfy hon. Gentlemen. However, he must enter a decided protest against a Committee composed entirely of Irish Members. He thought it was an unhealthy germ, and considered it his duty to enter his protest against it.


said, the promise given by the Prime Minister that no Bill of a contentious character would be taken had not been kept. He did not agree with the details of this Bill. The Local Government Board were asked to supersede the rights and interests of the ratepayers, and decide without having real evidence in the case. The practical result of the Bill, if it passed, would be that the different officials would set the Guardians, who were their paymasters, entirely at defiance, and would constantly appeal on all questions to the Local Government Board. He hoped this Bill would not pass this or any other Session.


said, he would support the second reading.

Question put, and negatived.


hoped the hon. Gentleman would have no objection that a few witnesses should be examined on both sides to test the merits of the Bill.


said, that, so far as he was personally concerned, he would have no objection whatever to that course being taken; but it would be for the Committee to decide.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee.