§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that for many years it had been felt in Ireland that a considerable grievance existed through the practice of Boards of Guardians, both in England and Scotland, being enabled to send back to Ireland poor people who had lived for many years in those respective countries, and the object of the Bill was to remove it. Those poor people who had by the sweat of their brow been earning their capital and putting money into the pockets of the people of those two countries, and become worn out in their service, were sent back to Ireland to become a burden to the rates as soon as they were no use. If the practice had only been occasional, or had been confined to sending back at once persons who had left Ireland in poverty, it would not have raised the burning feeling which the practice had called forth in Ireland; but the case was far otherwise. Further, if the persons sent back were sent back with some prospect of being able to earn something, and not simply when they were worn out and to be chargeable on 898 the rates, he considered it would be only right and just that they should be able to send them back; but the case was far otherwise. People, as the Returns which had been laid on the Table showed, had been sent back within the last three years preceding 1881, to the number of more than 700; and amongst them were some who had resided for periods varying from 25, 29, 32, 35, up to 50, and even as far as 60 years in Scotland or England, some of them in such a state that they had died as soon as ever they arrived on Irish shores. There was also the strange circumstance that among them there were some pauper children who were actually born in Scotland after the coming over of their disabled parents. This was one of the real grievances from which Ireland suffered. If these paupers were removed simply on account of their poverty there would be some justice in the conduct of the Boards of Guardians; but when they sent back old men and women on the verge of death, merely to save their rates, probably for a few months, it was an act of barbarity which he could not understand any Board of Guardians possessed of common feelings of humanity performing. For years Ireland had been suffering from an injustice to which they were not entitled. He regretted that he had to speak strongly on this matter; but this was a real grievance of Ireland, and not one of the imaginary grievances that were sometimes heard of. In the present state of the House, with no one but the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland on the Treasury Bench, and in the absence of many Irish Members and of the President and Secretary of the Local Government Board, he would not say anything more; but he wished that the attention of the Government would be directed to the question, and that the Bill would be supported by every Irish Member, as the object was to remove a great, undoubted, and unnecessary Irish grievance. He would, therefore, simply content himself with moving the second reading of the Bill, which should be regarded as an instalment of justice for Ireland.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir Hervey Bruce.)
§ MR. COCHRAN-PATRICK
, in rising to move, as an Amendment, that the 899 Bill be read a second time on that day six months, said, that though this was nominally an Irish measure, though it had been introduced by an hon. Member representing an Irish constituency, and though it would be supported, he doubted not, by all the Members from Ireland sitting in every part of the House, the operation of the Bill was, unfortunately, not confined to that country. It would affect seriously the interests of England, and still more seriously the interests of Scotland. With regard to its effect on England he would not presume to speak, because the circumstances and the conditions of the administration of the Poor Law in England and in Scotland were so different, that whatever knowledge or experience one might have of the one country was no guarantee for his being able to form a just opinion with regard to its operation in the other. It was because he felt that the effect of this Bill would be most injurious to Scotland—that it would cause a very large increase on local rates; and that it would inflict a very unjust and very unnecessary burden on the ratepayers of Scotland—that he now moved that the second reading be taken that day six months. He might be permitted to say, before entering into the merits of the measure, that, in common with many of those who had looked into the working of the Poor Law in Scotland, he had long been of opinion that important modifications and alterations might with advantage be introduced, both into the Law of Settlement and into the power of removal; and while he would be glad to see Her Majesty's Government, or some responsible body of Scottish Members intimately acquainted with the circumstances of that country, bring forward a measure to deal with these points, one preliminary objection he had to this Bill—altogether apart from its merits—was that it proceeded to deal with only one part of the subject, and that from only one point of view. As the law existed at present in Scotland, a native of Ireland must reside continuously in one parish for five years before he became chargeable, and he must retain that settlement by a residence of not less than one year in the succeeding period. But the Bill now under the consideration of the House introduced a most sweeping and extraordinary change on the present state of matters. It pro- 900 vided that after the passing of the Act it should not be lawful for any Justice or Justices of the Peace in England or Wales, or for any Sheriff or Justice of the Peace in Scotland, to remove, or cause to be removed and conveyed to Ireland, any poor person, provided he had resided in Great Britain for three years before becoming chargeable. The effect of that would be that any poor person from Ireland, who had spent, or who even alleged that he had spent, three successive years before he became chargeable in any part of England or Wales, or Scotland, might become a permanent burden on the rates of the parish in which he became chargeable. He quite admitted that with regard to this question there was some cause of complaint; and he thought the arguments in favour of a change in the law brought forward by the hon. Baronet who introduced the Bill (Sir Hervey Bruce), and the arguments which had been brought forward in other quarters, deserved their attention; but he believed that a very complete and practical answer could be given to every one of them. In the first place, it was said that there ought to be reciprocity between the three countries in the matter of pauper removal—that was to say, that because Ireland had no law of removal or settlement, therefore in Scotland there should be no power of removal. He admitted that, under certain circumstances and conditions, the law of reciprocity might be a fair one; but in order to be a fair one it must proceed on a certain basis of equality. Now, how did the matter stand with regard to pauperism in Ireland coming from Scotland, and in Scotland coming from Ireland? He found in a Return, which was moved for by an hon. Member of the House not many years ago, that the total number of persons, including children, receiving indoor relief in Ireland, and born in Scotland, on 6th January, 1877, was 68; and that on the 7th of July of the same year the number was 75. The number receiving outdoor relief was only 1 at both these dates, and the number of lunatics was 11 and 12 respectively. Therefore, during that year there were under 100 Scottish paupers in Ireland chargeable to the rates in Ireland. In the same period in Scotland, he found in the same Return the number of Irish paupers, born in Ireland 901 and receiving outdoor relief in Scotland on the same day, was 5,051 and 4,651 dependents; and the general result was that at that period there were between 11,000 and 12,000 chargeable to the rates in Scotland; whilst, on the other hand, there were in Ireland under 100 persons from Scotland who were chargeable on the rates in Ireland. Now, he had reason to believe, from information that had been furnished to him, that the proportion of those numbers remained practically unchanged; or, if any change had occurred at all, it had occurred in the direction of increasing the number of Irish poor in Scotland, and of decreasing the number of Scottish poor in Ireland. He found that, on the 30th November of last year, at the anniversary dinner of a most laudable society, called the Benevolent Society of St. Andrew, in Dublin, the President stated that there was not at that period a single Scotch man or woman in the City of Dublin receiving public relief from the public rates in Ireland. Therefore, he thought, with regard to proportionate pauperism, as the basis of a change in the law, that the disadvantages were all against Scotland, and the advantages all in favour of Ireland. But he was not unwilling to make reciprocity of another sort the basis of a new arrangement. He was willing, if they continued the power to remove Irish paupers from Scotland, to extend the same power to Ireland of removing the Scottish paupers to Scotland; or, on the other hand, he was willing to accept this reciprocal basis of arrangement—namely, while Scotland paid for her poor in Ireland, Ireland should pay for her poor in Scotland. That was the arrangement which they had in Scotland between parishes, one with another. Another argument used by the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine was that very great hardship was inflicted on the poor people. He (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) was not disposed to deny the existence of cases of hardship. He had stated that he was perfectly willing, and he believed that the great majority of those who were acquainted with the administration of the Poor Law in Scotland were perfectly willing, that there should be such an amendment of the law as would obviate these cases of hardship; and he was of opinion it might be done in this way—that if a poor person from Ireland 902 had had a bonâ fide industrial and residential settlement for a certain number of years in Scotland, that should give him a status of irremovability. But, apart from that, he was not prepared to admit that the existence of isolated cases of hardship was a ground for the abolition of a law. What he said was, that every possible precaution was taken by the authorities in Scotland to prevent cases of hardship taking place. There was a deliberate process which had to be undergone before the pauper was removed to Ireland, which, in itself, was good ground for supposing that cases of hardship, if they did occur at all, must be extremely rare. In the first place, the pauper must have had relief granted to him in the parish. In the next place, each was commonly considered on its merits by a committee of the Parochial Board. In the third place, application had to be made to the Sheriff for a warrant of removal. And, in the fourth place, the Sheriff had to satisfy himself; often by an independent inquiry, that the pauper had no settlement in Scotland, that he had a settlement in Ireland; and that he was physically tit for removal. After all these preliminaries had been gone through, it was necessary to send 24 hours' notice to the Union in Ireland to which the pauper was about to be taken. Then the pauper had to be sent over to Ireland, under the charge of a responsible official, who had to get a receipt from the official in charge of the workhouse of the Union to which the pauper was sent. Besides that long preliminary process, there were special regulations laid down by the Board of Supervision in Scotland as to the removal of paupers to Ireland in 1858. There was also in 1862 an Act of Parliament which gave further safeguards against hardships; and under that Act the Board of Supervision again issued stringent instructions providing for cases in which paupers, without the legal process, but of their own accord, were removed to Ireland. He thought he had said enough to show that, so far as the law could make safeguards, and so far as these could be acted upon by local bodies, everything that could be suggested had been done in Scotland. He would now like to call the attention of the House to this fact—that, of the number of poor who were liable to be removed, only a very small proportion 903 were, in point of fact, actually removed. He found that in the parish of Govan, in 1878, 23 paupers and 19 dependents were removed to Ireland, while 326 paupers and 314 dependents might have been removed if the law had been stringently carried out. In the same year, in Kirkintilloch, 194 persons had settlements in Ireland, and might have been removed, while only 7 were, in point of fact, removed. In the Barony Parish of Glasgow, in 1878–9, the number that might have been removed was 210, while the number who were removed was only 27. He might multiply these examples to an indefinite extent; but he thought the examples he had given were sufficient to show that the charge of hardship would, he believed, be entirely met by the precautions which were actually taken, and by the modification which they in Scotland were prepared to assent to with regard to the industrial and residential settlement. He might also mention that a Return had been made, at the request of the Committee of the House of Commons, of special cases of hardship that occurred. For the four years from 1875 to 1879, only 10 cases were laid before the Committee, presumably the worst that could then be brought forward, and of these 10 cases only 2 referred to Scotland, the remaining 8 being English cases; and of the whole 10 cases, 6 would have been clearly met by the modifications which he had expressed his willingness to accept. There was another argument which was sometimes used in connection with this matter—namely, that the existing Law of Removal restricted the labour market, and prevented Irish labour from coming over to Scotland. If that were the case, it might be a serious argument; but he doubted whether it did exist in point of fact. As a Railway Director, he had opportunities of occasionally coming in contact with very large contractors in Scotland, and other large employers of labour; and he had never, on any one occasion, heard the complaint that there was the slightest scarcity of Irish labour. On the contrary, if any opinion was expressed, it was rather the other way; and he believed, as a matter of fact, that of every 100 labourers who desired to come to Scotland with the intention of seeking for work, not one was deterred by the possibility that, if he did not acquire 904 a settlement, he might ultimately be sent back to his native country. There was only one other argument which had been advanced in favour of the Bill to which he would refer. The Select Committee of 1879 undoubtedly indicated an important change in the Poor Law of England and Scotland; but he ventured to say they never contemplated a vagrant period of existence for three years, or even one year. He thought the Committee had in their minds that a person should be fixed in one parish, and so, presumably, should have a residential settlement there for that period. There was nothing in the Bill that would prevent natives of Ireland coming to Great Britain and wandering about for three years, living successively in every parish in the country, and then going say, to Glasgow, and becoming chargeable on the rates. Now, there were one or two general considerations which he would like to lay before the House in connection with this power of removal. He thought it was a not unimportant consideration in the case that they found in Scotland that this Law of Removal acted as a restraint on pauper immigration into the country. He had said that he did not believe that the law prevented bonâ fide labourers going into Scotland and seeking for work; but what they did find was, that there was another class who came to Scotland, especially to the South-West, who did not come for the purpose of seeking work or wanting to get work, but who, knowing that their case was a much harder one when they became paupers in Ireland than when they became paupers in Scotland, came and endeavoured to become chargeable to Scotland. He also found that, with regard to the first class—the bonâ fide labouring class—there was a circumstance which had some important bearing on this case. He found that, taking a Scotch population in Scotland of labouring men and an Irish population of the same class and earning similar wages, the proportion of paupers in the Irish population was 40 per cent higher than the proportion of paupers in the Scottish population. That was an argument worth consideration. If they took away the power of removal, and increased the existing facilities for itinerant paupers becoming chargeable on the rates in Scotland, they feared that the numbers who 905 came over from Ireland to Scotland would be so largely increased that the pecuniary burden on Scottish ratepayers would become almost intolerable. He found, from statistics given before the Select Committee in 1869, that, while in the period from 1863 to 1868 there was a decrease in the number of Scottish paupers in the county of Renfrew of 14 per cent. the Irish pauperism had increased during the same period by 22½ per cent. He found, also, that during the eight years succeeding 1845, when a five years' settlement was introduced instead of the three years' settlement, Scotland removed, in round numbers, 46,000 paupers to Ireland; while in a similar period of years, from 1871 to 1879, the number removed was only 1,826. The reason which induced paupers, or persons on the verge of pauperism, to come from Ireland to Scotland was not far to seek. The reason, as he believed, was that the Poor Law in Ireland was, in its operations upon poor persons, much more harsh than the law in Scotland. In the first place, he found that relief in Ireland was mainly indoor relief, while in Scotland it was mainly outdoor relief, and relief in Scotland was confined to those persons who were not able-bodied. He also found that the dietary in Scottish workhouses was of a very different and superior sort to that in Ireland. He had in his hand the scale which was laid before the Select Committee by the governor of a poorhouse in Scotland; and, according to the lowest scale which could be provided by the local bodies of Scotland, the paupers had four ounces of oatmeal made into porridge, and three gills of milk for breakfast; for dinner, a pint and a-half of broth and eight ounces of bread, the broth being made of two ounces of Scotch barley, two ounces of vegetables, and two ounces of beef without bone; and supper the same as breakfast; while each pauper, when working, had besides four ounces of boiled beef for dinner. But what did they find in Ireland? He took the evidence given by one of the witnesses before the same Select Committee, and he found that in Ireland the aged and infirm men and women and children received about eight ounces of oatmeal per day for a man, and seven ounces for a woman, with new milk in the morning for breakfast, and from 14 to 16 ounces of brown bread and 906 soup for dinner, made, not with vegetables and beef, but with oatmeal seasoned with pepper and salt; and in Ireland, apparently, they did not receive anything more than two meals, the third meal not being obligatory in the case of the aged and infirm. In these circumstances, it was not surprising that there should be an immigration of Irish paupers into Scotland. But not only did this power of removal have an important effect respecting pauper emigration from Ireland, but it had an important effect in deterring applicants for relief in Scotland. In a Return made to the Parochial Board of the parish of Edinburgh he found there were the following instructive facts. In the five years from 1877 to 1881, 986 Irish were ordered for removal to Ireland, exclusive of their dependents; and out of these 986, when the preliminary process of applying for a warrant was undergone, he found that actually in the same period the number of warrants was only 362, and those who were actually removed numbered only 248. The difference between those 248 and the original number, 986, therefore, represented the effect which the power of removal had in deterring those persons from coming on the rates, and causing them to remove somewhere else. He should trouble the House with only one other consideration, and that was that they had every reason to believe that this alteration in the law which was proposed would be accompanied by an enormous increase of local rates. In the first place, if they were not able to exercise the power of removal to Ireland, they would be obliged inevitably to introduce into those centres of population where the Irish element most did congregate a system of indoor relief, somewhat equivalent to that in Ireland, in order that they might not hold out that inducement which caused such a large influx of population from Ireland to Scotland. They would be obliged to make their poorhouses in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the other large centres of population, something more like what the workhouses really were in Ireland. That would involve very large additional accommodation, which would involve a consequent increase in the rates; and it would be an additional hardship to the Scotch paupers, who would be obliged to be put in the same category as the Irish 907 paupers, merely to deter these Irish paupers from coming over. As to the additional numbers who were likely to be put on the rates in Scotland, it was almost impossible to estimate them, because they had no accurate statistics which bore upon the point; but he thought they were entitled, in a matter of this kind, to consider the opinion of those gentlemen who had been longest and best acquainted with the practical working of the Poor Law in Scotland; and he found that those gentlemen were unanimously of opinion that an enormous increase in the rates would follow upon the proposed change. He might mention that he had the authority of Mr. M'Laren, Chairman of the Barony Parish of Glasgow, and Provost Dick, of Govan Parish, and many others well acquainted with the administration of the Poor Law in Scotland in the large centres of population, to state that they, from their experience, believed there would be a great increase in the rates if this proposal became the law. He (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) himself coincided with that opinion, and it was corroborated by the views of gentlemen connected with other parishes in Scotland, both rural and urban; and he could only say that a measure of this kind, if it were passed into law, would be both unjust in itself and against the unanimous feeling of the people of Scotland. He would conclude by moving 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 six months."—(Mr. Cochran-Patrick.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. SALT
said, the Bill really touched on the fringe of a very large question, and a question which required and deserved very great care and consideration. He was anxious to recall to the attention of the House, and to the recollection of those hon. Members who had taken an interest in Poor Law matters, the very strongly-expressed opinions which had from time to time been given, both by Members of that House and by gentlemen who were especially experienced in the administration of the Poor Law, in favour of the total abolition of the Law of Settlement as regarded 908 the poor. He would not go back to the beginning of the Laws of Settlement and Removal; but he should like to recall to the recollection of the House some Resolutions passed by a Committee presided over by Sir Charles Buller in 1847. From that period almost continuously there had been strongly-expressed opinions to the same effect on the part of the House, and also, from time to time, some moderate alterations in the law. The Resolutions in 1847 were, first—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.The 2nd Resolution was—That it is injurious to the employers of labour, and impedes the improvement of agriculture.The 3rd was—That it is injurious to the ratepayers, by entailing expense in litigation and in the removal of paupers.The 4th Resolution was to the effect—That the power of removing destitute poor persons from one parish to another in England and Wales should be abolished.Now, those were very important Resolutions, which were passed by a very important Committee; but it was only fair to remind the House that, though passed in the Committee, they were never reported to the House. They were, nevertheless, valuable as an indication of opinion. In 1861 another Committee reported that the Law of Settlement and Removal ought to receive the early attention of Parliament, with a view to its settlement; and in July, 1878, a Resolution was passed to the effect that the law required amendment, and accordingly a Committee was appointed to consider the matter. In their Report, made in 1879, that Committee recommended that in England the Law of Removal should be abolished, and that for the purposes of poor relief settlement should be disregarded, with the following exceptions:—In Scotland, the Law of Removal should be gradually assimilated to that of England, and that the five years' residential settlement should be reduced to one year. Legislation had, to a great extent, followed in the same course. He would remind the House of two very important Acts—the Union Chargeability Act of 1865, and the Poor Law Amendment Act of 909 1870—which made most important, but, as many people believed, not complete changes with regard to the Law of Settlement and Removal. During the inquiry before the Committee of 1879, most of the skilled Poor Law Inspectors expressed their opinion, in the strongest terms, that the Law of Settlement and Removal should be abolished. Then, with regard to the opinions of the Unions themselves, two of those eminent Inspectors, Messrs. Henley and Doyle, had taken the opinion of many of the Poor Law Guardians in England and Wales, and their opinions were largely in the same direction—that was, in favour of the abolition of the existing law. It was, however, not desirable that the Law of Settlement should be abolished altogether, for this reason—that many other matters besides Poor Law relief depended upon the Law of Settlement. He acknowledged that the opinion in Scotland did not fall in with the opinion of the English Inspectors; and, though he was not prepared to say, after having given great attention to the subject, that he agreed in every respect with the Scotch view, yet he did say that the present law of Scotland differed from that of England and Ireland, and that the opinion of the Scotch people deserved the most careful consideration. Having given that general outline of the position of the question, he would ask, How far did the present Bill meet the case? It appeared to him that the Bill dealt with only one part of a question which was ripe for being dealt with as a whole; and that, if passed in its present form, it would only add one more difficulty to the many that already existed. In his opinion, the only way to deal with the matter was to introduce a Bill that would really embrace the whole question, and then refer it to a Select Committee, so that the opinions of England, Scotland, and Ireland might be obtained, and thoroughly sifted and discussed. He felt much obliged to his hon. Friend the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce) for having brought in this Bill, which, though it contained many imperfections, was an important contribution towards the settlement of the question. He hoped he had succeeded in persuading the House that the question was ripe for settlement, and that they would use their best endeavours to deal with it as a whole, but, at the same time, take 910 care that private interests were not interfered with.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, that England and Scotland treated Ireland, in that matter, worse than a foreign Power. At that moment a very large emigration was taking place from the West of Ireland to North America; but if the United States Government, at the end of two or three years, when there was no necessity for their labour, were to propose to ship these emigrants back, what would they think of them? They would point out that these people had been tempted from their homes by the prospect of labour or for other reasons, and that to send them back, when there was a prospect of their becoming paupers, would be a very hostile and very unfriendly act. No doubt, every means would be taken to prevent people sent back from landing. What, however, they would think very hard, if practised by the United States, was that which they were proposing to continue as between Scotland and Ireland. Indeed, as he had said, in this matter England and Scotland treated Ireland not only with disrespect, but much worse than a foreign Power, and still they wondered that Ireland did not love England and Scotland. They paid no respect to Irish utterances, or Irish opinions and ideas, and for Ireland there was no settlement. In Ireland they had been trained to the idea that there was to be no settlement. A man could walk into any Union, and he had the right of staying there for any time during 24 hours. They could not send a man from one Union to another; but although, amongst themselves, they were taught to look upon the Law of Settlement as of no moment, yet, when Scotch interests were concerned, it was to be enforced, and enforced in such a way that if a foreign Power acted in the same manner they would consider it very foolish and very unfriendly. The conditions of life, no doubt, were not so pleasant in the Western portion of Ireland as in some other parts; but one of the great reasons why that was the case was, that the people had been kept poor by legislation. The people in those districts were tempted by the greater means of getting work offered in England and Scotland, and there was too great a demand in some parts for Irish labour; but having got the whole of the 911 work he was able to perform out of the man, it was proposed he should be sent back again to Ireland. That was a most iniquitous state of the law, and a specimen of the bad law which English and Scotch people made for Ireland. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) admitted virtually all that; but he said—"Wait, and it may be altered in three or four years time." Were they to stop such a very practical Bill upon such a speculation? The argument for the delay was a very strong reason why they should press on the measure; and if they objected to a foreign Power sending back emigrants, he (Colonel Nolan) could not see how they could sanction such a proceeding in Scotland. He maintained that as long as England and Scotland claimed to make laws for Ireland they ought to make fair laws as between the three countries.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, the question was a very different one from that put forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan). The relations between Scotland and England and Ireland were very different from that of North America with those countries. Scotland had for many generations succeeded, by emigration and other arrangements, in keeping down its population to the number which was about just sufficient for the agricultural work and for the industrial occupations of Scotland, and had taken care that, by the Law of Settlement and other arrangements, her population had not unduly increased. By the Census Returns, it appeared that the population of Scotland over an area identical with that of Ireland, with the same amount of agricultural land and tillage was nearly 2,000,000 less than Ireland. In Scotland 10 persons cultivated 10 acres, while in Ireland 56 persons did the same work. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) that the term of five years might reasonably be reduced, and he had said so before; but he confessed that to entirely abolish the Law of Settlement, and to make arrangements such as those suggested by the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), would be especially unfair to Scotland, and to the maritime towns of England. The amount of pauperism in Scotland was very small in proportion to the Scotch population; but the number of Irish 912 poor in the portion of Scotland he (Sir John Hay) had the honour to represent was very considerable; and it would be most unfair to those counties and districts in Scotland which were within a short distance of Ireland, if the Irish who came there without settlement were to go upon the rates. The temptation to come, by the excellent fare they obtained in Scotland, compared with the Irish dietary, would be so very great, that the result would be to flood Wigtonshire and Ayrshire with Irish paupers, and add to the rates enormously. He agreed with the statement that the subject was one which, in a larger Bill introduced by the Government, should obtain the attention of the House. With regard to Scotland, however, inquiry by a Committee was exceedingly necessary, before anything could be applied to Scotland. He trusted the Bill would not receive the sanction of the House, and that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) might be agreed to.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he quite agreed that the idea of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) would be the best way of dealing with the subject, and in his opinion he was fortified by perhaps the most eminent authorities in Ireland on the subject. He also agreed with the statement that the real cause of the inhuman system that prevailed in Scotland was to be found in the narrow law of the country. He was ready to concede that if the same inhuman system prevailed in Ireland, and if there were Scotch with English paupers in Ireland liable to deportation, the same reasons which made Scotch Guardians inhumane towards Irish paupers would make Irish Guardians, under the present system, inhumane to English or Scotch paupers. The true remedy was the abolition of the Law of Removal, while another remedy would be the extension of the law of Union rating both to Ireland and Scotland. But as had been stated, if they waited for that they would leave a number of Irish people suffering from hardship—a hardship which was not to be measured by the number of cases that came under the notice of the public. There were a number of poor people in England and Scotland who did not apply for relief, because they felt that if they did so they would be liable to the Law of Deportation. The Bill before the House 913 appeared to him to be a very moderate and justifiable attempt to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee of 1879. It did not go so far as that Committee, because that Committee recommended that, so far as England was concerned, the Law of Removal to Ireland should totally cease; but in deference to the statements and the views expressed by Scotch witnesses, they only recommended that, so far as Scotland was concerned, the law relating to removal should be practically assimilated to that of England, and that five years' residential settlement should be reduced to one year. The Report of that Committee went on to say that the Scotch witnesses were very much opposed to change; but he did not think it necessary that the House should pay attention to that feeling. If it was unjust that Irish paupers should be deported from England to Ireland, surely it was unjust that they should be deported from Scotland to Ireland. Therefore, he hoped that the House would give a second reading to the Bill, and not postpone the settlement of the question for an indefinite period. The decision of the House would, however, be greatly assisted if the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Local Government Board would state exactly what the state of the law in England was as regarded the settlement of Irish paupers, for he was ashamed to say he was not clear as to the detail of it.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
said, he would much have preferred the Bill of his hon. Friend first on the Orders; but he should support the second reading of this Bill with a view to its being amended in Committee. He had hoped it was so reasonable and fair that there would be no opposition to it; but he was sorry to find that there had been two Notices put down for the rejection of the Bill. He was glad, however, to know that these Notices for rejection were not put down by those most interested in the Bill. They were put down by two Scotch Members, and he did not expect either generosity or justice from Scotchmen. Much as the Irish people had been misgoverned for many years by Englishmen, he would prefer that they should be misgoverned for centuries to come rather than that they should have the misfortune to be governed by Scotchmen. He appealed, therefore, to the 914 justice and generosity of Englishmen to erase the Poor Law Act from the Statute Book, for, as it existed in its present form, it was a disgrace to the Statute Book. What was it that had made England great and wealthy as it was? Was it not labour? And where did the greater portion of that labour come from except from Ireland? He did not object, if paupers were sent to England, that they should be sent back again to their own country; but he decidedly objected to a man coming to England and spending the years of his life there, helping to swell the wealth of the country, and then, because he was unfortunate, being sent back to Ireland to be kept as a pauper for the remainder of his days. England called Ireland her Sister Country; but how did she treat her Sister Country? America was the real Sister Country, because she opened her arms and received all that Ireland sent her. England acted as a cruel stepmother. She kept them as long as they could add to her wealth by their labour—labour which had made her what she was—but the moment they got impoverished they were sent back to Ireland. He admitted that it was a benefit to have a place to come to to look for labour; but he said it was a greater benefit still to England to have that labour. He would give an instance of a case which he knew. It was the case of a man who left Ireland when he was nine years of age, and since then he had been 40 years in England aid 10 years in Wales, so that he had been out of Ireland for 50 years. The whole of the time of that man's life had been employed in assisting in the increase of the wealth of England; and yet, when he became old and unable to work, he was sent back to the country from whence he came to be maintained as a pauper. It was unlikely that any pauper would come from Ireland to this country and live three years in order to become chargeable to the rates. They did not object to maintaining Irish persons who bad only been resident in England for three years; but they thought it was most unfair that a man should spend the whole of his life in other countries and then be sent to Ireland as a pauper. He appealed to the justice of Englishmen to support the Bill, which gave them small a measure of justice; but he would not appeal to Scotchmen.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. O'Sullivan), in describing the present state of the Law of Settlement in Scotland as being penal, appeared to be ignorant of the fact that the present law was a law against other parishes in Scotland, and it was merely because Irish paupers happened to be in Scotland that he could regard it as a penal law as against Ireland. If Irish paupers suffered they would equally have suffered had they belonged to Scotch parishes. Many parishes in Scotland might make the same complaint that it was a penal law against them. It was simply a question of parochial settlement, and in that respect there might be matter for fair change. He did not maintain that it was in all cases just. He did not think, when a man gave the labour of his life to a parish, that he should afterwards be sent back to Ireland. But, practically, that was not done, except in a very few cases. What was complained of was that Irish pauperism was sent over to Scotland. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan) drew an analogy from America, and asked what would be said if America sent back paupers to this country? The answer to that was, that the difference between the two countries was that Ireland did not send her paupers to America. If Ireland began to send her paupers to America, America would very soon stop receiving them; while they had no means in Scotland of preventing their admittance. The hon. and gallant Member for the County of Cork (Colonel Colthurst) spoke about the inhumanity of the Scottish law. He (Mr. Anderson) and other Scotch Members complained that it was the inhumanity of the Irish law that did the mischief. The Irish Poor Law system was the most cruel in the world. By applying too relentlessly the workhouse test to their paupers, they drove them out of Ireland and into Scotland. Those who might succeed in getting into Irish workhouses, they starved when they got them there. The Irish paupers naturally preferred the treatment they received in "inhumane" Scotland to the treatment in "humane" Ireland. That was how the humanity lay. It lay with the Scotch, and not with Ireland. If a measure of this sort were passed, the Scotch would be obliged to insist upon a uniform scale of dietary 916 between the two countries, or else to establish Irish wards in the Scottish workhouses, and supply skimmed milk and skilly in the Irish wards, the same as Irish paupers got in Irish workhouses. He quite agreed that some change was necessary, but not the change proposed in the Bill. The hon. and gallant Member for Cork said the Bill did not go far enough—that it did not go as far as the recommendations of the Committee that sat upon the subject. But, in fact, the Bill went a great deal farther. The recommendations of the Committee were one year's settlement in the parish or Union; but the proposal of the Bill of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Hervey Bruce) was three years in the whole of Scotland. One year's settlement in one parish was a very different thing from three years' settlement in the whole of Scotland. He would like to know how the hon. Baronet intended to prove that a pauper had been three years in Scotland? Was a parish to take the ipse dixit of the pauper that had been here and everywhere over Scotland for three years; or was it to require absolute proof? Without provision for absolute proof of three years' residence, that plan would not do. At the same time, he (Mr. Anderson) thought the term of settlement might fairly be reduced in Scotland from five years to three years in a parish, and that some of the parishes might, as regarded settlement, be united and be equivalent to one parish. For instance, in Glasgow there were three large parishes, and he thought it rather hard that a man should not have a settlement in Glasgow, because he resided first in one of those parishes and then in another. In such a case as that, and also perhaps in Edinburgh, the city parishes should be treated as one parish; and in some of the country districts it would be well, also, to have a Union settlement in place of a parish settlement. He was not, however, in favour of Union rating or administration; because he believed the parish rating and adminstration was far more economical. Willing as he was to have some changes in the present system, he would like to see the matter taken up by the Government, and dealt with; but he could not agree to the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he was glad to hear an admission of the hon. Member 917 for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) that the parochial system of Scotland, as regarded settlement, ought to be extended and enlarged, and made a Union system, for the purpose of preventing the injustice which was proved before the Committee of 1879 to exist; but he could not allow the statements of the hon. Member for Glasgow, that paupers were worse treated in Irish than in Scotch workhouses, or that Irish paupers were sent over to Scotland, to go uncontradicted. In regard to the last allegation, he asserted that no Irish paupers were sent over to Scotland or England. Able-bodied labourers crossed over; but they paid for their passages with their own money, and went into the labour market of England and Scotland. It was hard that after giving their labour to the Scotch merchant or English trader for 30 or 40 years they should, when they fell sick, be taken from their beds and sent back to Ireland, not to any particular parish there, for there was no Law of Settlement in Ireland, but to any part of the country where it pleased the Scottish parish to send them. Sometimes they were dropped in hotels in cities, and abandoned by those who accompanied them from Scotland, so that they had to appeal to the workhouse for relief. Was the hon. Member for Glasgow in favour of that? Did he think that a just law? He did not seem to have read the evidence in the Report of the Committee of 1879. That Committee was perfectly unanimous, with the exception of two Scotch Members, only one of whom—the hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. Ramsay)—was now in the House, and it was Scotch Members now who opposed the Bill. What astonished him (Mr. Synan) more than anything was the opposition of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt). Perhaps he was looking for Scotch assistance. The hon. Gentleman was Chairman of the Committee of 1879, and he was against the Law of Removal. He (Mr. Synan) was therefore surprised that he should have taken the attitude he now did in proposing that Ireland should wait till England and Scotland had arranged their Laws of Settlement before she got her grievance remedied. Ireland might as well be told to wait for the Millennium. So far from it being true that the paupers in Irish workhouses were starved, as the hon. Member for Glasgow had alleged, 918 the evidence given before the Committee showed that they got two good meals a-day, and that weakly persons got three. For breakfast they got wheaten bread. Their dinner was a substantial one of bread and soup. [Mr. ANDERSON: What is the soup made of?] Not Scotch porridge. It was also suggested, and in an equally groundless manner, that, if the Bill were passed, Scotland was such an Elysium that all the Irish paupers would at once fly to it. He maintained that there was no reason to fear anything of the kind. The evidence before the Committee of 1879 entirely disproved any such statement. What the Bill was intended to do, and what he (Mr. Synan) asked the House to do, in the cause of justice and humanity, was to put an end to the condition of things proved before the Committee of 1879 to exist under the Law of Removal, by which men could be taken out of sick beds and sent back to Ireland, after spending, perhaps, 40 or 50 years of their life in residence in England and Scotland. The inhumanity of that system constituted a real grievance, and he waited in impatience to know what the Government proposed to do. He knew that the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Local Government Board (Mr. Hibbert) had been as much in favour of the Report of the Committee as was the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt).
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, he thought hon. Members were importing an amount of feeling into the discussion that was incompatible with the proper discharge of their duties. The hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Synan) seemed to think the Scotch made their Law of Settlement what they liked. He (Mr. Ramsay) did not see how he was to prove that. The Law of Settlement, as the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had pointed out, was applicable not only to Irishmen, but to all persons who might become paupers in Scotland, and who were liable to be sent back from the parish where they became chargeable, if they had not acquired a settlement, to their own respective parishes. It was absurd, therefore, to speak of the law as a penal one against Irish paupers. It was, no doubt, a grievous hardship that a poor person in Scotland, who might have given his labour for the best part of his life in the large cities, should be sent back to a rural 919 parish for relief, while those who had got the benefit of his labour were exempt from any taxation on his account. But that was the very state of matters which existed both in the case of Scottish and Irish paupers. The hon. Member had said paupers could not be sent to Scotland; but he (Mr. Ramsay) remembered that in the course of the 1879 inquiry it was suggested, though not proved, that Irish paupers had been sent over to Scotland at the expense of persons resident in the parishes to which they would otherwise have become chargeable. Whether that had been the case or not—and in the absence of evidence he did not attach much importance to the statement—there could be no doubt—and the fact was dreaded by Scottish Poor Law Inspectors—that if the law was altered in the way suggested by this Bill, persons who were not fit for labour would be sent over from Ireland to Scotland. The Bill was very unsatisfactory in this respect, that it not only ignored the existing Law of Settlement in Scotland; but it provided that if any Irish pauper alleged that he had resided for three years in any part of Great Britain he should then become irremovable to Ireland. As the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had asked, how was the three days' residence to be proved? It was impossible that they could have any evidence except the pauper's own word. The Bill, as it was presented to the House, was so imperfect that, though he should be glad to see some modification of the law with reference to the removability, not only of Irish paupers from Scotland to Ireland, but of Scotch paupers from one parish to another in Scotland, he could not support the second reading, and if it went to a division he should vote against it.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, he could scarcely amplify the able and accurate statement of his hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire (Mr. Cochran-Patrick). At the same time, he must deny the existence of the feeling of animosity and jealousy which had been alleged to exist in the minds of the Scotch Members against the Sister Island. The manner in which his constituency was affected by its proximity to Ireland was the only circumstance that induced him to give Notice of opposition to the Bill. Among all the duties which fell to the lot of a 920 country gentleman, there was none, in his experience, more difficult than the administration of the Poor Law; and it was because he foresaw, if the Bill was passed, and the power of removal taken away, a great and serious increase in these difficulties, that he was prepared to offer the strongest opposition to the measure. It was the power of removal to which they attached importance. His hon. Friend the Member for North Ayrshire had shown that out of 100 cases in which the power of removal might be exercised, it was only exercised in about 10 per cent. But the existence of that power of removal was a very great safeguard against undue and unmanageable multiplication of applications for relief. He thought it was a very strong point indeed that was brought forward by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson). How was residence to be proved? The number of these cases would be enormous. During the past year the number of vagrants challenged by the constabulary in Ayrshire was stated at 17,000 odd, and of these 6,260 were Irish. How would it be possible to test the statements of these 6,000 and odd Irishmen if the statements that they had resided for three years anywhere in Scotland was to be held sufficient to prevent their being sent home as paupers? He thought that Irishmen might be content with the fact that the Scottish authorities did not exercise the powers that they possessed at all unduly or indiscriminately. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Sullivan) had mentioned the case of lunatics, who, on removal to Ireland, could be sent back to this country. He (Sir Herbert Maxwell) held in his hand a list of cases of lunatics removed by Govan parish in Glasgow to Ireland during the last eight years, and who subsequently returned. He had seven cases in which the lunatics removed had returned repeatedly. Here was one case—and they all appeared to be about the same character—Edward M'Dale was removed from Govan to Ireland in 1864, and he returned again in 1865. He was again removed, and returned in 1866; and it also appeared that he had returned after removal in March, 1879, July, 1879, and January, 1880, showing there was no proper control of lunatics in Ireland, because they returned as fast as they could be sent back. Another case 921 was that of a lunatic named Hutchinson, who was removed from Scotland in 1877, and was back again within a week. He trusted that the House would hesitate before adding to the difficulties of those who were endeavouring honestly, and with a considerable degree of success, to cope with the question of outdoor relief, and all its attendant difficulties.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, that, after the remarks of the hon. Member opposite (Sir Herbert Maxwell) with reference to himself as a Member of the Committee, he was bound to offer a few observations upon the Bill; but he must say, in the first place, he did not run away from any part he took in that Committee in favour of mitigating the objections to the Law of Removal, nor did he at all run away from the Report that was made to the House by the Committee in favour of the abolition of the Law of Removal. At the same time, whilst he said that much, he must also state to the House that he only agreed with the proposal to abolish the Law of Removal on the condition stated in that Report. Having made that explanation, he had to consider whether that Bill at all carried out the Report of the Committee, and whether the principal proposal in it was not of an entirely different nature. He regretted to find, on examining the Bill, that it was not at all on the lines of the Report. Although it sought to do away with the hardships inflicted upon Irishmen who were removed back to their country from England or Scotland, it did so in a very different way to that recommended by the Committee, and it did it in a way that he was sure those who had had much to do with Poor Law matters would see it was almost impossible to carry out, because it made a settlement either in England or Scotland of 12 months do away with the power of removal. [Mr. O'SULLIVAN: Three years.] He accepted the correction, and said he thought it would be impossible to work the Bill. He did not know whether his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board would assent to the Bill being read a second time; but he knew he was willing to listen to all the recommendations that might be made to him concerning it from any part of the House. With respect to the grievances sought to be removed by the Bill, he did not say for a moment that the grievances were not 922 serious ones, and very hard for the Irish people, and everyone who had seen the cases referred to must come to this conclusion. A list of the cases had been given to them by Mr. Bourke, one of the Local Government Board Inspectors in Ireland, of a most harsh description, showing that persons were removed back to Ireland after a residence in this country of 50, 40, and 30 years. He also found, from a Return made in 1878 to the House of Lords, covering the period from January, 1876, to July, 1878, a space of two and a-half years, that 944 persons were removed from England and Scotland to Ireland; and, on looking the cases over, he found that 10 persons had been 50 years absent from Ireland, 24 had been absent between 40 and 50 years, 54 had been absent between 30 and 40 years, and 59 had been absent from Ireland between 20 and 30 years.
§ MR. W.E. FORSTER
Have you the difference in figures as to those belonging to England and Scotland?
§ MR. HIBBERT
replied, that he had not; but he had no doubt a larger proportion of them would be found to come from Scotland than from England, as the law of Scotland was very much more severe than the law of England. He found in another Return that between the years 1871 and 1878 there were 1,825 persons removed from Scotland to Ireland, and 592 were removed from Scotland to England. When they came to contrast the law as it existed in England and Scotland, they found that in England there had been going on for years past, ever since the year 1846, a great series of efforts to mitigate the hardships and harshness of the Law of Removal. In 1846 the status of irremovability was given not only to Irish, but to English and Scotch paupers, by a five years' residency without relief. In the year 1861 the five years' residence, which gave a status of irremovability, was reduced to three years, and the Union settlement was substituted for the parish settlement, which was a great advance in the law. In 1866 the three years were reduced to one year, and in the year 1876 there was also passed an amendment of the law, which gave a residential settlement in England after three years' residence in any parish; so that there had been going on since 1846 a great mitigation of this law; and he did not find from inquiry, or from the evidence given 923 before the Committee, that these various steps that had taken place in England had the result of increasing to any large extent the applications for relief by Irish paupers. In fact, he should say, if anything, the numbers had decreased instead of increased. With respect to the way in which the law was worked in England, he might say that it was given in evidence before the Committee that there were a great number of the large towns in England, such as Manchester in particular, to which he would refer, where, for the last 10 or 12 years, they had not used this power of removal with respect to Irish or any paupers; and it was further given in evidence that the adoption of that course had not increased the number of applications for relief in Manchester or elsewhere. These towns relied upon a strict administration of the law with reference to all classes of paupers, and he believed that was far the best way of meeting the question. There might be a strict administration of the law in one place and a lax administration in another; but a district where the law was administered with laxity was sure to suffer in the end. It was given in evidence—and the House, he thought, was bound to take notice of the fact—that there were places in the country, such as Liverpool, Bristol, and one or two other seaports, which would suffer very seriously if the Law of Removal were to be abolished entirely; and, therefore, he thought it would be necessary that some provision should be made, in any alteration of the law, to protect the interests of those towns. In the time of the Irish Famine, Liverpool, he believed, suffered most severely; but the witnesses from Liverpool, in their evidence before the Committee, stated that they had not any great grievance to complain of at the present time, or that a large number of persons came over from Ireland and applied for relief. They were able to cope with matters by a strict system of administration of the law. The question was, how could they deal with the matter so as to mitigate the hardships, and at the same time protect the seaport towns? He thought it might be done in the way suggested by the Committee in their Report, or in a more simple and uniform way, by altering, instead of entirely abolishing, the Law of Removal, by reducing the status of irremovability to a smaller period— 924 to six or three months—and that would be sufficient protection to the town he had named. If they altered the law with respect to residential settlement, and extended it from the parish to the Union, he thought they would by those means get rid of a great part, if not the whole, of the cases now occurring of persons being sent back to Ireland who had given their labour and the sweat of their brow to the industry of the country in which they had resided for periods varying from 20 to 50 years. On that point he entirely sympathized with the hon. Baronet who moved the second reading of the Bill (Sir Hervey Bruce), and with those hon. Members who had brought in the other Bill, which had not been discussed; but his right hon. Friend would state the course he intended to take in the matter. With respect to the Scotch question, he did not know that he had a right to speak, for his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate represented Scotland; he could not, however, avoid saying that the evidence that came before the Committee on which he sat showed a very harsh state of the law. In Scotland it required a residence of five years to acquire a settlement, and there was attached to it the serious condition that they must reside in the parish for one year in the subsequent five years. He hoped his hon. Friends from Scotland would be able to follow in the footsteps of England, and make some mitigation in the law with respect to Irish paupers sent from Scotland. He thought by doing that they might thus be able to make a great advance in the way of doing something to get rid of the grievance, which was a real one to the people of Ireland.
§ MR. PELL
said, he entirely agreed with the principle of the Bill, if he correctly understood its aim to be the amendment of the still extremely severe Law of Settlement. If the House passed its second reading, in the interests of a free supply of labour, it might be possible in Committee to introduce satisfactory Amendments, for the present law on this subject did not operate to the advantage of either England or Ireland. They were all very glad to have the assistance of the Irish at their harvesting operations and other work in England. They could not very well be done without. But how did the present law ope- 925 rate? Suppose a man came from Ireland to England, and worked in one district for one year and a day, he became irremovable, and, if he became destitute, would be chargeable to the rates as long as he remained there. But if he removed to another parish, and became destitute there before 12 months, he could be sent back to Ireland, though he might have been 20 years in England. The law, therefore, deterred a man who was out of employment in a district where he resided for over 12 months from moving elsewhere in search of employment. That was an unreasonable law, and one which required amendment. He suggested that the three years' residence, which gave a settlement under the late Mr. M'Carthy Downing's Bill, should be reduced to one year's industrial occupation. He would be very glad to see the Law of Settlement abolished in England and Scotland. If the Poor Law was administered with firmness and discretion, it would most effectually prevent their being overburdened with paupers. He hoped that they would not reject the Bill, but that in Committee they would try to amend its provisions; and, when so amended, he trusted to see its benefits extended to England and Scotland.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, his experience of the work, as President of the Local Government Board in Ireland, had led him to believe that the grievance alleged to exist by the Bill was not a case of theoretical, but of practical hardship. Notwithstanding the divergent views which had been expressed, he thought that appeared to have been acknowledged by the House; and, although it was rather a strong statement to make that the Law of Settlement should be altogether abolished, it was, on the one hand, certain that there seemed to be a very considerable agreement on the part of all the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken that there should be some protection against the shipping of paupers—if he might use the expression—from Ireland to England or Scotland—a matter upon which he was not very much afraid himself that it would happen; but they ought to guard against it; and also that a provision should be inserted, if the Bill went into Committee, in protection of the seaport towns, such as Liverpool and Glasgow. That, he thought, would be sufficient to guard against the evil com- 926 plained of. On the other hand, there was, at the same time, he thought, an arrangement that was most unfair to the Irish ratepayers and cruel to the Irish labourer, that, after having spent the greater part of his years in labouring in England or Scotland, he should be sent back to die, or to be taken care of at the expense of the Irish people. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) thought that did happen and he thought it ought not to happen, and he was glad to see there was a general agreement that it should be prevented. The question was, how? His hon. Friend who had just spoken (Mr. Hibbert) was in favour of abolishing the Law of Removal; and he (Mr. W. E. Forster, was very much inclined to agree with him upon that point, and to vote in that direction. But, no doubt, that was a considerable measure, and he doubted whether it was one which could be easily carried through by the Bill of a private Member. They must remember that though most hon. Members admitted that this was a very great grievance as applied to the Irish labourer, yet it was not a very easy matter to get the House to assent to a proposition for putting him in a different position to the English labourer. Take, for instance, the districts in which there was the chief demand for labour, such as his (Mr. W. E. Forster's) own district in Yorkshire. The Irish labourer had a right to say he should be treated quite as well as the Dorset or Norfolk labourer, and he took it he was treated as well. At present they had no power of removing an Irishman any more than they had an Englishman, and he supposed that it was the same in Scotland; but, owing to the arrangements of the Poor Law in Scotland, the case was rather hard. They had there nothing corresponding to Union chargeability; and if a man in the natural course of his labour removed from one district to another, where his employment was of the same kind, or if he moved from one part of the town to another because he found one place more suitable than another, he lost his parish, and, being an Irishman, then became chargeable on Ireland and not on Scotland. That certainly was unfair, and was prevented, practically, in England by the Union chargeability provisions. What was to be done? The suggestion of the hon. Member who had spoken last (Mr. 927 Pell) was to accept the second reading, and get it changed in Committee into a Bill grasping the whole question. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) should be very glad if the Government could consent to do that. They might, perhaps, say they could not do that, as that would be, under the cover of a Bill merely relating to the position of emigrants from Ireland to England, really changing the whole Law of Removal and of Settlement. But they knew very well how difficult it was to find time to bring in Government measures, and how difficult it also was to pass them. One of two things, he thought, his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Dodson) might see—either that he would see how far they could, in Committee, make the Bill generally applicable, or that the Government would give some sort of assurance that they would be able to deal with the question, if not this year, very speedily; and he would suggest the consideration whether it would not be a saving of time to do it this year. If his right hon. Friend was not prepared to take that course to-day, he would recommend the hon. Baronet to accept an adjournment, in the hope that the Government might be able to take that course. Though it might be much more easily done by a Government Bill, it was not easy to get one; and perhaps it would be well to take advantage of this Bill in the hope of its being altered in Committee.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, he could give the House many instances of the very great hardship imposed by the present state of the law on persons who had left Ireland at a very early age, and who, having spent the whole of their best years of labour in England or in Scotland, were sent back to be supported in Ireland when overtaken by pauperism. He would remind the House, with regard to statistics that had been quoted, that out of 18,000 vagrants in Ayrshire, 6,000 were Irish; that these men, in wandering from place to place, must have been counted several times over, so that instead of 6,000 there was only 1,000. He maintained that the dietary in the Irish workhouses was utterly inadequate to support men in a state of health, and to enable them when they came out to return to labour again. Ten years ago the dietary in the Irish gaols was quite as bad as that in the work- 928 houses; and the result of a considerable investigation with regard to the question, and particularly as to the re-commitments, was, that the scale of dietary was found to be so low as to reduce men to such a state that they were unable to labour, and, consequently, were obliged to recur again to their old habits of stealing. He (Mr. Blake) had a Royal Commission appointed to inquire as to the necessity of a better dietary, and a supper was then allowed. Some alteration was certainly required in the Union dietary.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, that, having had some practical experience of the working of the Poor Law in Scotland, he was quite prepared to admit what had been stated by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Salt) of the evils that arose out of the Law of Removal, and the hardships that were consequent, not only on Irish, but on English and Scottish paupers. It arose from the habits of the people being migratory, especially in the manufacturing districts. They shifted from place to place, and never acquired a residence in any one place. The hardship was a very cruel one, where persons worked for 30 or 40 years in a country, and at the end of that time were transferred to England or Ireland, or some remote district, because they had not acquired a distinct settlement in a particular parish, and were unable to work. He would, therefore, rejoice in any change of the law in Scotland, particularly any in which the conditions requisite for settlement were limited both as to time and space. He agreed with the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) as to the expediency of having larger areas of chargeability applicable to removal in case the Removal Law was altered. If his right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate saw his way to introduce a Bill for the improvement of the Scotch laws in this matter, there were many points in the Scotch Poor Law waiting for settlement. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to reduce the period required to give a settlement from five years to three, or even one, and at the same time to retain the Law of Settlement, he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) would be with him. He could wish the Lord Advocate to introduce a Bill, and, if possible, carry it through. He (Sir Edward Colebrooke) was not prepared to pledge himself how far he 929 would go; but he would give it a favourable consideration. He maintained, however, that if there was evil attending the Law of Settlement there was also some justice in the principle; for, while there were cases of 30 or 40 years' residence followed by transference, there might also be cases of 30 or 40 days' residence. Was it just in such cases that a man should be chargeable to a Union where he had only worked a short time, and had worked 30 or 40 years in other parishes? It was to deal with this that the Law of Settlement was introduced, and he held it was a just law. The protection which was aimed at, though, was not against accidental chargeability, but against the wilful act of neighbouring parishes throwing their poor on the rates of other parishes. It was protection not only against the Irish, but against their neighbours; and the hardship arose from causes not apprehended when the law was introduced, but which might be mitigated in the way he suggested. The question needed careful consideration, and he did not think they could get the security which was needed against the invasion of paupers merely by strict administration of the Poor Law itself. No doubt, something could be done in that way, although it might be a hardship on the poor people who become chargeable. They ought rather to bear some evils under the Removal Law, which affected only a few cases, than to adopt a course which would add to the severity of the Poor Law everywhere. It would be quite possible, by increasing the workhouse accommodation, and by the strict application of the workhouse test, to diminish the invasion; but the task would be very hard. The question raised was, however, a wide one; and as he understood the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Poor Law Board had only expressed his own opinions, he thought there ought to be an opinion expressed by the Government on the question of chargeability. He did not think they could follow the advice of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Forster), by introducing within the scope of this Bill an entirely new set of clauses. The question was a very difficult one, and he should be glad if Her Majesty's Government could take it up and deal with it in a practical way. To enable the Government to proceed with practical legislation, he appealed to the Irish Mem- 930 bers not to block Bills which were of a practical character. He did not think it would be consistent with the usage of the House to convert this Bill, introduced by a private Member, into a general law for the whole Kingdom by which the Removal Law would be abolished.
§ VISCOUNT EMLYN
said, he thought that the discussion had been pretty much of a duel between Scotch and Irish Members; but, at all events, it bad clearly shown one thing—namely, that the Law of Removal all over the country was practically dead. It was most mischievous in its operation, interfering improperly with the free and full circulation of labour, and ought to be abolished. It seemed to be admitted that the burden of the evils connected with the Law of Removal rested chiefly upon the poor classes in Ireland. What was it that Scottish Members were so much afraid of? They heard much about the inundation of paupers who would come into Scotland; but, as far as he could understand, the greatest grievance of all, as affecting the Irish paupers, occurred to those Irish people who went to Scotland, on account of the peculiar harshness of the law in Scotland with regard to their obtaining a settlement in that country. It had also been said that a uniform dietary in workhouses would become necessary in Scotland. If the Bill effected that object, it would be a very desirable result. With regard to the Law of Removal, in many large towns it was now found to be unnecessary, and the sooner it was done away with the better. A Bill ought to be introduced by the Government for that purpose, and he believed there would be such a feeling on all hands in favour of the abolition of the Law of Removal that the Bill would easily pass. He trusted that if an absolute pledge were not given by the Government to introduce a Bill dealing with these matters, the hon. Member in charge of the Bill (Sir Hervey Bruce) would press the second reading to a division, by way of protest against grievances which were admitted by the Government themselves. The matter might be dealt with by a Bill relating solely to the Irish poor; but it would be better dealt with by a Bill of wider scope. No doubt, in establishing a status of irremovability, and giving a pauper an absolute settlement, difficulties would occur. It 931 would be necessary to prevent an accidental settlement being obtained, or persons going or being sent to certain favoured localities. Perhaps it would be better to go a step further and get rid of the Law of Settlement altogether. In the case of the seaports, it would, no doubt, be necessary to make some qualification, because they would otherwise be liable to support persons who at once, on landing, became chargeable to the rates. He trusted that the desirability of removing this Irish grievance would be pressed upon the Government by taking a division upon the second reading of this Bill, if a pledge to deal with the matter were not given, and if that course were taken he would give it his support.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said, that he represented a constituency which was, perhaps, more affected by the Bill than any other constituency in the Kingdom; and he was glad to see in the course of the debate that Members who had spoken on both sides of the question had said that seaports should be considered in regard to the question in preference to inland towns. In Liverpool and the neighbourhood there was but one feeling with regard to the serious effects which this Bill might have if it was passed in its present shape. Speaking for the Poor Law Guardians of Liverpool, they had always, as a general rule, dealt in the most kindly way with the resident Irish who had come upon the rates; but what they felt was that the Bill, in its present shape, would make the vagrant poor chargeable to the town in which they might reside at the moment. He quite agreed that there would be great hardship in sending back to Ireland those who had served the best of their days in England; but what they had to fear was the vagrant poor, those who had not been working in the town for any length of time, and who, under this Bill, might be chargeable to the place they resided in when they came upon the rates. What he felt was that it was impossible, in a Bill of this kind, to deal with the whole question. This Bill dealt simply with the Irish poor, and it would put the Irish poor in a position in which the English poor were not placed. They would therefore have one law with regard to the Irish poor, and another law with regard to the English poor; and he was quite sure that the Irish Members would see that it was impossible to 932 deal with the Irish poor on a different principle to that which they dealt with the English poor. It had been suggested that the Bill might be changed; but he wished to point out that if it was changed at all it must deal with the whole question of settlement; and he thought that one thing must impress itself upon the mind of every Member if they were to deal with the whole question of settlement, and to re-adjust the Poor Law, and that was that it must be done with regard to the question of local taxation. It was impossible to deal with this question so as to throw increased taxation upon one town or one district without dealing with the whole question of the Poor Law administration and with the enlargement of areas of taxation, and it would be very unfair to deal with that question in a Bill of this kind. He felt sure that it was impossible for the President of the Local Government Board to accept the Bill in its present form. Was he prepared to enter upon the whole question of taxation? It would be a very wide and a very vexed question. He (Mr. Whitley) was prepared to admit that if the area of taxation was increased he should be very glad indeed—and he was sure his constituents would be very glad indeed—to see the Law of Settlement abolished; but they could not abolish the Law of Settlement if at the same time they restricted, as they now restricted, the area of taxation. He could assure the House that there was the very strongest feeling in Liverpool that this Bill would tend to a great increase of vagrant poor. It had been admitted in the debate that there had not been many cases of hardship in sending poor persons from Liverpool to Ireland. They had always welcomed the Irish amongst them; at the same time, they did not attempt to conceal that they had added very largely to the Poor Law taxation of Liverpool; and the taxation in no town or city in the Kingdom contributed more to the support of the Irish poor than that of Liverpool. But so long as the Irish had been industrious and resident there, they had been quite willing to bear that taxation. What they felt was this—that in the case of people travelling from the South to the North of England, who might be vagrants from city to city and town to town, it would be very hard indeed that they should be 933 settled on the last locality they called at; and as Liverpool had a large Irish population—at the present time about 160,000—it was a very serious question affecting Liverpool. He felt that while he agreed that the object with which the hon. Baronet had brought forward this Bill was a very laudable one, and while he deeply sympathized with the remarks made by Irish Members with regard to the cruelty of sending back to their own land those who had been industrious in England, yet at the same time it would be utterly impossible to accept this Bill in its present shape, for it dealt only with the Irish poor, and left untouched the condition of the English poor; and it was impossible to apply one law of settlement with regard to the Irish poor and another law with regard to the English poor. The other question also remained—how they could deal with the Bill so as to include the abolition of settlement. He did not think that they could. He did not think it was possible for the President of the Local Government Board to accept the Bill with any hope of making it apply to the abolition of the poor settlement. The question must involve the Law of Settlement; and, until they were prepared to bring forward a Bill to deal with local taxation, spreading it over greater areas or making it payable out of Imperial taxation, he did not think they were in a position to discuss the important question raised by the Bill brought forward by the hon. Baronet.
§ MR. PUGH
said, he was glad to hear the hon. Member for Liverpool say the present law ought to be done away with. Although he agreed in much that had been said by the hon. Member, still he believed that the objections which he had raised in reference to dealing with the Irish and English and Scotch poor in a different manner could be remedied in Committee. The question should be dealt with in a broad and liberal spirit. He would remind the House that the Law of Settlement had its origin in an Act of Charles II. Poor persons, as appeared by the Preamble, settled in the parish where they found most waste land and most wood; they cut trees for fuel, and when they destroyed all the trees they went on to another parish. The law was soon relaxed, so as to interfere with persons only when they became chargeable to 934 the parish to which they had removed. The tendency of modern legislation was to do away with the restrictions that existed; and he hoped the President of the Local Government Board would devise some satisfactory mode of still further carrying out that object. The hon. Member for Liverpool had said that any Bill upon the subject must touch the question of local taxation; but the Union Chargeability Act itself, so far as regarded this point, did not touch that question, except in the slightest manner. Unless the President of the Local Government Board would give a satisfactory pledge that the present question should be dealt with in some other way, he should have no hesitation in voting for the second reading of the Bill, with a view to its amendment in Committee.
said, it was unfair that English towns, which for years reaped the fruits and benefit of Irish labour, should, when the people became old and incapable, throw back the paupers upon the rates of Ireland. He hoped that the suggestion of the noble Lord behind him (Viscount Emlyn), who had been a Member of the Committee upon this question, that the matter should be dealt with by the Government would be considered. It was, no doubt, difficult to pass any measure which the Government opposed; but this was a grievance so acknowledged and felt all over Ireland that he hoped the Government would assent to the Bill. If the Law of Settlement and Removal worked unfairly in England, surely it did so in Ireland. He could not understand why, if a man spent all his labour and strength in a particular district, he should not, when he became incapable, be cared for by that district. The hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley) had remarked that there was no place more heavily charged for Irish paupers than the city he represented; but, on the other hand, there was no place which had profited so much by Irish labour as Liverpool—it was, in fact, indebted for its prosperity to its contiguity to Ireland.
§ MR. T. A. DICKSON
said, he thought the remarks of the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Emlyn) had been a valuable contribution to the present discussion. They had heard from the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Salt) that the subject had been before the House ever since the year 1847; it had been before Committees for the last 935 10 years at least; but nothing had been done and they were as far off as ever from a settlement of the question. Why should it not be settled this year? He would propose that the Government, instead of bringing in a Bill on this subject, should frame a Bill and submit it to a Committee consisting of English, Irish, and Scotch Members. If that were done he had no hesitation in saying that when the Bill was reported on by them there would be very little difficulty in passing it through the House; otherwise, no progress whatever would be made in practical legislation. It was said that if the present law was abolished there would be an influx of Irish paupers into Scotland. There was no ground whatever for remarks of that kind. The Guardians of the Unions in Ireland would tell them that the paupers were well clothed and well fed, and he denied that there would be an influx of paupers into Scotland. Without cheap Irish labor in her foundries and coal-pits Scotland would not be occupying the position she did to-day; and he asked Scotch Members whether they would be willing to part with that labour now? When men came over and spent 30 or 40 years of their lives in enriching a country, surely it was not fair that they should be sent back in their old age. He trusted the President of the Local Government Board would hold out some hope that the question would be settled, one way or another, without further delay.
§ MR. DODSON
said, that, although he could not look on this Bill as a Bill of a practical character, yet he admitted that it had served as the basis of a very valuable and useful discussion. He could quite enter into the feelings of Irish Members in regard to that matter, because in Ireland there was no Law of Removal or of Settlement; and they, therefore, not unnaturally felt it a hardship that an Irishman who came to England, and there afterwards became a pauper, by our Law of Removal and Settlement, was thrown as a burden on their hands. At the same time, he must point out that there was nothing gained for the securing of an alteration of the law, which might be thought desirable, by exaggerating the case against the present law. Our Law—he was speaking now more particularly of England—our Law of Settlement and of Irremovability 936 in England had been, for a long series of years, continually undergoing a succession of relaxations. We had been gradually approximating to that which he supposed would be the ultimate result—the extinction altogether of removal and of settlement. Many hon. Members had spoken as if the case of an Irishman in England were exceptionally hard; but an Irishman who came to England had precisely the same advantages and disadvantages as an Englishman. The English law stood in this way—A man who resided three years in a parish acquired a settlement. That applied equally to a Scotchman or an Irishman in England as well as to an Englishman. If an Irishman came to England and resided three years in a parish, without receiving relief, he acquired a settlement and chargeability to that parish, and was no longer removable to Ireland. Again, if an Englishman resided one year without receiving relief, not merely in a parish, but within the larger area of a Union, he was irremovable from that Union. But that, again, was not peculiar to Englishmen, but applied to Scotchmen or Irishmen if they came to this country. With those increased facilities for acquiring settlement and irremovability in England, the number of removals to Ireland had considerably diminished. In 1868 the number of removals was 508; in 1876, the last year for which he had the Returns, the number was only 196; and out of this 196 there were 85 from Liverpool. He did not say that there might not be found here and there a case in which a removal amounted to a matter of hardship; and he did not complain if Irishmen took hold of those cases and urged them as a ground for an alteration of the law. But they might hap pen equally to Englishmen and Scotchmen under the very same law. The number of cases of hardship from removal to Ireland had tended to diminish, because the alterations which had been made in our laws of late years had been constantly in the direction of securing greater care and supervision, and more considerate treatment to the individuals who were removed. Since 1860 it had been provided that warrants of removal to Ireland must be signed at Petty Sessions; the pauper on his removal was accompanied by a parochial officer, and delivered at the workhouse of the Union 937 of the port nearest to his place of destination; and, again, women and children were not allowed to be sent over as deck passengers. He merely mentioned those things; they did not, of course, affect the general principle as to removal. But he had to look at that Bill and see what could be done with it. The effect of the Bill was this—that an Irishman in England would be placed in a better position than an Englishman. That was not a proposal to which he thought those who represented the English ratepayers and English working classes could be expected to assent. Our laws in this country as regarded the treatment of persons who became destitute must obviously be one and the same for all persons, whether they were Englishmen, Scotchmen, or Irishmen. That was the fundamental objection to that Bill. Under the Bill an Irishman who had come over to England might have been on the tramp all the time since he came; and if he had been three years in England he was to be irremovable from this country. He was not to acquire a settlement only, as he might now do by a three years' residence in a parish; he was not to acquire irremovability, which he might do now by a one year's residence in a Union, but was absolutely to acquire irremovability from England by being in England three years. That was different from the position of an Englishman or a Scotchman. The position of an Englishman, a Scotchman, and an Irishman in England were now the same. If they adopted that Bill the Irishman in England would be put in a different position from either the Englishman or the Scotchman. With regard to the Scotch law, that was a matter about which Scotch Members were more competent to speak than he could claim to be; but he should hope to see the Scotch law on that subject follow, as far as possible, in the footsteps of the English law. Indeed, he should like to see the law with respect to destitute persons made the same, as far as practicable, throughout the United Kingdom. But some Gentlemen said, "That being so, let us read this Bill a second time; we can amend it in Committee, and make it, at all events, applicable to England." But that would be very much like repairing the Irishman's musket they had heard of, which required a new lock, stock, and barrel. If they took 938 that Bill they must give it a new title, a new Preamble, and a new clause. Apart from that trifling objection, they must alter every word in the Bill; and he should like to ask English Members who represented English ratepayers, English Guardians, and English working men, whether they thought it would be desirable or fair to make a revolution in our Law of Removal and Settlement under cover of a Bill introduced by a private Member nominally for removing an Irish grievance? If they were to make such a change of the Law of Removal and Settlement, it should be done by a Bill brought in plainly and above-board, with a clear declaration of the object for which it was proposed. He could not assent to the second reading of the present Bill under the plea that in Committee it might be entirely transformed. In fact, that would require too complete a change to be consistent with the Rules and practice of the House. And even if such a change could be effected it would be unfair to the English ratepayers and to those who administered the Poor Law in England. At the same time, he was anxious to see the Poor Law in England and in Scotland advance further in the direction of relaxation, and approximating more and more to the extinction of removal and settlement. So far as the Government were concerned, they were engaged in considering what could be done in the matter; and they hoped to be able this Session to lay upon the Table of the House a Bill for mitigating and further relaxing the Law of Removal in England. He did not wish to be compelled to vote against the second reading of the Bill if he could avoid it; and what he should prefer to see done was the Amendment withdrawn, on the understanding that the Bill be withdrawn also. If the Mover of the Amendment and the Proposer of the Bill were not prepared to consent to these withdrawals, then he should be obliged, though with regret, to go into the Lobby against the second reading for the reasons he had endeavored to state.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
said, he thought the statement of the President of the Local Government Board amounted simply to an announcement that the Government were prepared to do nothing in a case where it was admitted on all hands that a flagrant injustice existed.
§ MR. P. MARTIN
said, a similar statement was made year after year in answer to the complaints of the Irish Members. Why was no Bill introduced last year? Was it not trifling with that serious question to say the matter was still under the consideration of the Government? When the late Liberal Government was in Office, the President of the Local Government Board informed Mr. M'Carthy Downing in 1871 that they would deal with the subject as soon as they had heard from the Heads of the Departments. The Heads of the Departments had since been consulted, and he believed the result of the consultation would be found in the Blue Book of Evidence which was taken by the Committee of 1879. Was it a satisfactory answer to Irish Members, who had been complaining of this gross injustice for years, to be told by the Head of the Local Government Board that he would consider the matter, and, if he had time, he would bring in a Bill at the close of the Session? He hoped, under the circumstances, that the Bill would be pressed to a division. The Irish Poor Law Code was governed and regulated by Statutes distinct and separate from those in force in England. The Irish law in respect to chargeability and the right of removal differed, in many essential particulars, from the English and Scotch law. Englishmen and Scotchmen could not be removed from Ireland if they became destitute. He therefore thought the Irish case should be dealt with separately, and not mixed up with the cases of England and Scotland, as the President of the Local Government Board considered.
§ MR. MOORE
said, he would also express a hope that the hon. Baronet the Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce) would not desist from his intention to divide the House, as he believed, from the tone of the House, he would get very valuable and wide support; and he did not think there was anything in the very milk-and-water statement of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Dodson) to disturb his opinion. The right hon. Gentleman asked them to think of the English ratepayers. What was the position of the English ratepayers? In consequence of the present 940 state of the law the wealthy employer was enabled to play off, the cheap labor from Ireland against the English laborer, and when the men became weak and infirm throw them off and send them back to Ireland to be a burden upon that country. They had had Committee after Committee upon the question all admitting the injustice inflicted upon Ireland by the present state of the law; yet they were now to be told by the right hon. Gentleman that he was still considering the matter. In his opinion, the answer they had received was most unsatisfactory; and he, therefore, hoped a division would be taken.
§ MR. GIVAN
said he was bound to protest against the opposition offered to the Bill by the President of the Local Government Board, which was substantially saying that this subject must continue to be a constantly-recurring source of debate in this House, and of agitation in Ireland. The speech of the President of the Local Government Board was very unsatisfactory. Considering the very general opinion that existed as to the necessity of dealing with the question, he regretted that the Government was not prepared to introduce a measure of their own. The hon. Member for Coleraine would, he hoped, take a division in order to enable the Irish Members to express their disapprobation of the course taken by the Government.
§ SIR HERVEY BRUCE
, in reply, said, he was glad to find, from the observations made on both sides of the House, that the principle of the Bill was generally approved, although some hon. Gentlemen did not agree with the manner in which the Bill was drawn. He thought the speech of the hon. Gentleman who proposed the Amendment to the Bill was the best that had been made in support of it, because his only argument was that he did not like the Bill as regarded Scotland, and there the matter ended. He denied the statement that one of the reasons why Irishmen went to Scotland was because the food was very much better in the Scotch workhouses. As far as he knew, he believed it was the other way, because in the workhouse with which he was connected—and that was a fair type of all the workhouses throughout the country—the food was infinitely superior. He regretted very much to hear the speech 941 of the President of the Local Government Board, which had done nothing to remove the difficulties in the way of Irish Members. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would, before the end of the Session, bring in a larger and more extended Bill. He should have been very glad to have adopted the recommendations of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster); but as the President of the Local Government Board had completely thrown over these suggestions, he felt that there was no course open to him but to ask the House to divide, much as he should have liked to come to an amicable arrangement and understanding with Her Majesty's Government.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 172: Majority 81.—(Div. List, No. 86.)
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.