HC Deb 17 April 1896 vol 39 cc1183-230

Motion made, and Question proposed, 1."That a sum, not exceeding £2,771, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1897, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Household of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.


said, that the Vote for the Chief Secretary having been postponed, they were about to enjoy a preliminary canter and would see how the right hon. Gentleman could stand fire. He would commence with the private secretaries to the Lord Lieutenant. He did not think that any official had so many secretaries as the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He had a Chief Secretary and an Under Secretary and a secretary to that secretary and then he also had private secretaries. The theme was the State Steward—what were his duties? It was his duty to introduce partners to each other at dances, and to do that rightly was a very difficult thing in Dublin. Then there was the Master of the Horse. His position was an anomaly because he was master of nothing, there being no horses at the Viceregal Lodge. Then there was the Surgeon of the Household. The Attorney General for Ireland laughed—but he ought rather to weep at this waste of public money. What were the duties of this Surgeon of the Household? Why, he felt the pulses of the young ladies after they had been kissed by the Lord Lieutenant. Then came the Sergeant of the Riding House, and what did he do? who was he to teach riding? Was he to teach the castle clerks or the smart Under Secretaries how to ride their bicycles? Then there was the telegraphist at the Vice-Regal Lodge, who got 5s. a day. But the Lord Lieutenant spent very little time there, and therefore what was the use of this telegraphist, who had nothing to do. The fact was, that, taking most of these posts together, the inference was irresistible that this contempible gingerbread Court was simply an impoverished landlords' asylum. Then the Lord Lieutenant had a Chaplain, so that the State had not only to provide for the Lord Lieutenant's body but for his soul. Fancy, £769 a year being paid to supply the Lord Lieutenant with the means of grace. He was sure that every official in the castle needed the means of grace more than ordinary persons did, and of course the Lord Lieutenant's soul was more important than those of the rest of the officials. He should always continue to denounce the establishment of a Castle Chaplain. The Lord Lieutenant did not use the Chapel Royal at all—when he went to church he went as he himself did, to St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, and he was very glad to meet him there. Then there was the Castle Dean, and he should be very pleased to see him treated as an evicted tenant was. If public money were to be spent in this manner, he should like to see a Poet Laureate set up for Dublin. The whole thing was part of a vile system of corruption. Not one of the gentlemen to whom he had referred could state honestly that they did a day's work. The money which was paid in this way was absolutely thrown away on unproductive labours. It was rather a remarkable fact, and one that should be recollected, that although they were popularly supposed to give their sanction to every farthing of money spent on the public service, if Parliament did not meet next year or the year after two-thirds of the revenue would be collected by different Acts of Parliament, and one of the anomalies of the system was that they were discussing the retinue and service of a gentleman whose position they could not themselves discuss. He thought, however, that he knew a way of discussing it when the Chief Secretary's salary came before them. The Comptroller of the Household did not differ from the 17 other potentates; he did nothing, and got a salary for doing it. But there was a certain matter of a most shocking nature connected with the appointment of the present Comptroller which he wished to bring to the notice of the Committee. Although the Comptroller of the Household was practically appointed at pleasure, it was a well recognised fact that he was a fixture so long as he discharged his little duties with propriety. The late Comptroller, Colonel Caulfield, now Lord Charlemont, had discharged his duties with the utmost propriety and ability, and was extremely and deservedly popular. He had been Comptroller of Dublin Castle since 1868, and had held the office under no fewer than 12 Vice-Royalties. Lord Charlemont, although pressed to do so by certain persons, did not resign his Comptrollership; when Lord Crewe became Lord Lieutenant. When he refused to do so he was on the eve of being elected an Irish representative Peer, but his name was then withdrawn from the election. When the present Lord Lieutenant came into office, Lord Charlemont thought, naturally, that he would be retained in his position. He did not wish to say one word against Lord Cadogan—but when he came into office, Lord Charlemont was told that other arrangements had been made. When this became known at Dublin Castle, he was asked if he had resigned. "Oh, no!" said Lord Charlemont, "I was dismissed because I was too much of a Home Ruler to satisfy them.'' [Cries of "Oh!"] Of course Lord Charlemont was a genuine Tory, but he had been too much of a gentleman to embarrass Lord Crewe, and he had, for this reason, he maintained, been dismissed as an act of vengeance. He begged, therefore, to move the reduction of the Vote by £413 13s. 4d., the amount of the Comptroller's salary.


asked what service the present Comptroller had rendered to justify his salary being increased this year by 8d.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

said the Comptroller's salary under Sub-head A was £413 13s. 4d., but it was worked out as £414.


said, there was no increase, £414 was the sum in both years.


asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to tell them why Lord Charlemont had been dismissed from his position. By the Amendment they desired to call attention to this question, and to ascertain whether it was the fact that these offices, which ought to be entirely removed from Party feeling, had been, in the present instance, dragged into Party feeling in a most disgraceful way.


said, the hon. Member for South Donegal had twice quoted the maxim, De minimis non curat lex; but if the law did not care about small things, the hon. Members from Ireland did when they called attention to a discrepancy of 6s. 8d. between the Estimate and the actual salary of the Comptroller. They moved a reduction in the salary of the Comptroller on the ground that Lord Charlemont no longer held the office. As far as he was aware, Lord Charlemont never was Comptroller, but was State Steward. ["No, no!"] Well, this was a small matter. The real charge was that Lord Charlemont was dismissed from his post on political grounds; and to that operation he gave an emphatic contradiction. Of four officers of the Household before Lord Cadogan became Viceroy, three had been retained. The offices were entirely in the gift of the Lord Lieutenant, and when he went the Household officers went with him. They might be reap-pointed, and all that Lord Cadogan had done was that he had not reappointed Lord Charlemont. He would state unhesitatingly that the non-reappointment had absolutely nothing to do with any political question whatsoever; and he must ask the hon. Member for South Donegal, unless he produced some evidence to the contrary, to accept that assurance. He did not understand where political motive could come in. The services of three gentlemen had been continued. In the fourth case the charge made was absolutely unfounded.


said, he would accept the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman; of whom he believed that he knew very little about the transaction; but he could not withdraw one word of what he had said. The appointment was technically made by the Lord Lieutenant, but practically by the Government, and, having discharged the duties efficiently since 1868, Lord Charlemont first heard that he was superseded from a letter read out to him by Lord Crewe on board ship. Efforts had previously been made to induce him to vacate the place, in order the more effectually to carry out the boycott against Lord Crewe. To a reporter who interviewed his Lordship at his residence in Tyrone, he said, "It is ridiculous to say I am a Home Ruler,'' because he did not and he would not have been Comptroller of Dublin Castle if he had been a Home Ruler; and his Lordship added, ''I am too much of a Home Ruler to suit them," meaning, of course, that he was too much of a gentleman. [Laughter.]


said, it would not be a matter to be much ashamed of if Irish Members did not know or care who was Comptroller at Dublin Castle, but it was amusing that the Chief Secretary had been mistaken, as he was on the evidence of "Thorn's Directory for 1895," which gave Viscount Charlemont as Comptroller of Dublin Castle. What they did care about was that the House and the public should understand the. game that was played during the Vice-royalty of Lord Crewe. It was. notorious that there was organised against the representative of the Queen a" system of boycott which would have led to representation if it had been organised against a landgrabber. The object was to induce him to resign, which he refused to do. Such proceedings were inconsistent with the Lord Lieutenant being the representative of the Queen. For one, he was opposed to the abolition of the Lord Lieutenancy, because it was a mark and sign of the independence of Ireland, although, under the Lord Lieutenancy it had at present the worst government in Europe. So long as there was a Lord Lieutenant it was admitted that Ireland was entitled to separate Government from Great Britain. But measures ought to be taken to secure that the Lord Lieutenant was a true representative of the Queen, and not a Party politician and a Party hack. Nothing, however, was to be gained by continuing the Debate, and he would suggest that they should now come to a Division.


said, that Lord Crewe signalised his arrival by refusing to receive two deputations.


said, that question could not be discussed on an Amendment to the Vote for the salary of the Comptroller.

MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

said, that while he was prepared to accept the statement of the Chief Secretary, it must be obvious that there was some reason why Lord Charlemont was not reappointed. The most likely one was that he accepted the position of Comptroller under the late Liberal Government, that he had been to some extent boycotted by the ascendancy party in Ireland, and when they came back to power they knew at Dublin Castle that things would not work smoothly if Lord Charlemont were reappointed.


said it was obviously unreasonable that they should be asked to state why Lord Charlemont was not reappointed. There might have been a thousand reasons. But he could assure the Committee that it was not because he had served under Lord Crewe. He gave the hon. Menu her his positive assurance that that was not the motive, and asked him to accept it.


said, it was conceded that Lord Charlemont was Comptroller under successive Lord Lieutenants, representing different shades of politics, from 1868. He might be permitted to say that Lord Charlemont never allowed his politics to interfere with his duty, and discharged the functions of his office in a manner which gave general satisfaction to Dublin society. There was an old saving post hoc ergo propter hoc. It might he that it applied in this ease. To the amazement of all who had lived in Dublin for years, and knew how popular Lord Charlemont had been, when Lord Cadogan became Viceroy, Lord Charlemont suddenly disappeared, and was not re appointed. Technically he might not have been dismissed, but did the right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University doubt that Lord Charlemont was not reappointed or was dismissed because he had not led the way in refusing to serve under Lord Houghton?

MR. E. CARSON (Dublin University)

I am certain he was not.


said, it was a matter of genera) observation that, to "squelch" Home Rule, those bitterly opposed to it, abstained from paying to Lord Houghton the respect which had always hitherto been paid to the representative of the Queen. [Nationalist cheers.] Because Lord Charlemont, who was a northern landlord and Peer, did not follow the example of other landlords and bigoted Tory politicians, Lord Cadogan did not reappoint him. He himself would oppose, if it ever cropped up, the abolition of the office of Viceroy in Ireland, because the existence of that office was essential to working out the principle of Home Rule and the establishment of an independent Legislature for Ireland. The discussion of the Vote might, perhaps, be a hardship to the present Comptroller at Dublin Castle, but principle must be regarded, and the House had no other way of; marking its disapproval of the want of respect shown to the late Viceroy, not only by the landlords, but every section of the Tory Party in Ireland.


believed that, if Lord Charlemont were consulted, he would contradict every one of the reasons suggested by hon. Members opposite for his not being reappointed. Other members of Lord Crewe's household had been reappointed, and why should it be said that Lord Charlemont was not reappointed because he served under Lord Crewe? Hitherto Nationalist Members had complained of the absence of change in the staff at Dublin Castle, and the reappointment of "the old gang." The hon. Member for South Donegal was mistaken in the reasons he had suggested for Lord Charlemont's being no longer Comptroller, and he believed that would be the opinion of every one in Ireland acquainted with the matter.

MR. J. C. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

regretted that he could not accept the disclaimer of the Chief Secretary about Lord Charlemont. The circumstantial evidence in the matter was too strong, though they could not furnish actual proof. Lord Charlemont was "sent to Coventry." Nine-tenths of the people in Ireland were persuaded of two things—that Lord Crewe was socially boycotted because of his Home Rule opinions, and Lord Charlemont was dismissed because he refused to take part in the boycott.

Question put, "That Item A (Salaries), be reduced by £413 13s. 4d., the amount of the salary of the Comptroller of the Household."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 125; Noes, 200. (Division List, No. 102.)


felt it his duty to lodge a protest against further waste of public money upon the household of the Lord Lieutenant. He failed to see where his constituents or the people of Ireland derived any benefit from the continued existence of this household. [Hear, hear!"]. From his point of view it was an institution for the breeding of flunkeyism in the public life of Ireland, and he should be going contrary to the wishes of his constituents and his own sense of public duty if he assisted in voting money for any such institution. If they added the salary of the Lord Lieutenant to the expenses of his household, close upon £40,000 a year was thrown away in this manner, which might be much better spent if placed at the disposal of the Congested Districts Board to be used for carrying out works that would benefit the people. ["Hear, hear!"] Again, the existence of this household constituted a standing stigma upon the religion of the majority of the people of Ireland, for to-day, 70 years after the passing of the Emancipation Act, the law forbade any man holding the religious views of the majority of the Irish people to be Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] He did not contend that a Catholic Lord Lieutenant would be any better than a Protestant, nor was he objecting to a Protestant holding that or any other public position in Ireland. But what he had a right as a Catholic to protest against was, that this office should be continued and should represent a stigma and an insult to the religious convictions of the mass of the Irish people. For these two reasons he should not only vote against the grant of this money, but he would divide the Committee upon it as a protest against the continued existence of an institution which was neither useful nor ornamental, and which he thought ought to be abolished.

MR. G. MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid)

said, he rose to join in the protest, and he did so because of the action of the Protestant occupant of that office during the last nine months. The £40,000 spent on that institution would be much better utilised in helping the industrious people of the country. Their country was not in a position to throw away any money; their people were in a most depressed condition, and they had stretched over Ulster miserable houses not fit for cattle, and yet they could not get any assistance to have them put in some presentable shape for human beings. He would invite the Government to give this matter their serious attention. It was rather a disgrace to the liberality of the British Government that, at this time of day, they should allow to remain upon the Statute-book an enactment which deprived the Catholic people of Ireland of the right to hold any office that might be held by any man.

MR. DOUGLAS COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)

said, he was one of those who thought there ought not to be a Lord Lieutenant. If they could not get rid of the Lord Lieutenant directly, they might do so indirectly, and one step towards that would be to get rid of his salary and household. He therefore proposed to do himself the pleasure of voting with hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Irish cheers.]


said, he entirely agreed with his hon. Friends in deprecating the enormous expense of this household, and in deprecating the waste of public money which was involved in its up-keep. He should be sorry to see the office of Lord Lieutenant abolished under present circumstances. He looked upon it as a sign and symbol of the separate Government in Ireland——


said, the salary of the Lord Lieutenant was not on this Vote, and therefore the hon. Member could not go into that matter.


said, he found in the Vote a sum of £800 for the salary and allowances of the chaplain. He considered that this was not only a waste of public money, but also an anachronism, because nearly 30 years after the disestablishment of the Protestant Church in Ireland they had here a survival of it in an official form. It was most inconsistent with the Disestablishment Act that this office should be maintained. Supposing a Lord Lieutenant was appointed who was not a member of the Anglican form of worship. Supposing a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a Methodist were appointed. It was intolerable enough that a Roman Catholic should be debarred from the office of Lord Lieutenant, but it became a much more intolerable condition of things if they found that it would be practically impossible for any gentleman to be appointed who did not belong to the Anglican form of worship. If such a gentleman were appointed this office would be entirely useless. He would not make use of the services of the Protestant chaplain to the country, or the reading clerk, or the organ blower, nor of any of the officials connected with the official form of worship. That portion of the Vote ought certainly to be dispensed with. If there were vested interests in connection with this appointment, he contended it would be quite easy to buy off the chaplain and the other officials. He protested, in the name of religious liberty, against this Vote being allowed to remain. He thought the Government would be very well advised in dropping this item, or at least in giving an intimation that it would appear when the Estimates were again presented to the House.


said, he was perfectly aware that they were not entitled to discuss on this Vote the question of whether the office of Lord Lieutenant ought to be maintained or not. But he regarded it as an anomalous and monstrous state of things that the salary of the official should be placed upon the Consolidated Fund and thereby withdrawn from the criticism of Parliament. On what ground was it withdrawn? Because he went to Ireland as a representative of the Throne, and not as a party politician. But they found that, while his salary was not voted by Parliament because it was supposed he ought to be above and apart from party politics, in reality he was always a partisan, and therefore he said his position was most anomalous and most inconsistent. One of the most necessary reforms in connection with this Vote was that either the Lord Lieutenant's salary should be put on the Estimates in order that his conduct might be subject, as a party man, to the criticism of Parliament, or else that he should go to Ireland honestly as a representative of Her Majesty, as the Governor-General of India did, and he ought to carry out in his administration of Ireland the principle which had induced the Government to remove his salary from this Vote. It was because he objected to the administration in all its details that he should vote against this sum. He would like to say a word upon the religious question. Ireland was a Catholic country, but they did not claim, as they might be entitled to claim, a Catholic Establishment for Ireland. At the same time he regarded it as an outrage and an insult to fix a permanent Protestant Establishment to the representative of Her Majesty in a Catholic country. There were ample facilities for religious worship in Dublin to whatever persuasion the Lord Lieutenant might belong, and he protested against the maintenance of one particular form of religion—the Church of England—at Dublin Castle. It was an insult to the people of Ireland, a Catholic people, that a permanent Protestant establishment should be maintained for the representative of Her Majesty in that country. This, indeed, was one of the last remnants of the abominable system of Protestant ascendancy which once universally prevailed in Ireland. The office, in regard of religion, ought to be thrown open; considerations of sect or of religion ought not to be allowed to affect it, and the Lord Lieutenant should be perfectly free to follow his convictions, to whatever church he might be attached. He would suggest to this strong Unionist Government, which had professed the desire to do everything possible to remove the grievances of the people of Ireland, that one means of conciliating a large portion of the people of that country, would be to remove this remnant of an old, a hateful and a bigoted system, and free the office of Lord Lieutenant from the odium of this restriction. No such provision was attached to the Government of any of our self-governing colonies or India, and in consideration for the feelings of the majority of the people of Ireland it should be abolished in connection with the Lord Lieutenancy of that country. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. P. J. POWER (Waterford, E.)

said he agreed with the remarks made by the hon. Member for Mayo, and, with him, desired to enter his protest against a system which was a slur and an insult on the Irish people.


said that it seemed there was a consensus of opinion among hon. Members on the Irish Benches against this Vote for the Household of the Lord Lieutenant. But the reasons adduced for this had been very different on the part of different Members. The hon. Member for South Donegal objected to various items; the hon. Member for Mid Tyrone thought the money might be spent in other ways, the hon. Member for South Mayo thought the whole institution of the Lord Lieutenant and everything connected with it should be swept away, while the hon. Member for East Mayo, taking a quite different view, considered that the office should be maintained, but objected to the form of administration. ["Hear, hear!"] Now as to the Chaplain of Dublin Castle, that officer was like any other officer of the Lord Lieutenant's household, and each Viceroy had the appointment in his own hands. If a Lord Lieutenant who was a Presbyterian was appointed, it would, he conceived, be in his power to appoint a Presbyterian as chaplain. In the proper sense of the term there was really no Protestant establishment in connection with Dublin Castle. The question to be considered was this: everyone would agree that as long as a Lord Lieutenancy and a Court were maintained in Ireland there must be many accessories of expenditure connected with the office; and while the existence of the office was not directly challenged, it was too much to expect the Committee to go closely into details if the expenditure charged was not excessive. ["Hear, hear!"] There had been much talk about the continuance of the office of Lord Lieutenant, and about the money of the office being spent in other ways. Hon. Members opposite might be reminded that if the office were abolished Ireland would not have much to gain by the change; for a large amount of money now spent in connection with the office would not then be spent in the country at all. ["Hear, hear!"] The expenses of the office of Lord Lieutenant were by no means wholly met by public funds. The pecuniary demands of the office involved not only the salary and allowances of the Lord Lieutenant, but they exacted a large amount from the private sources of the nobleman who filled the position. ["Hear, hear!"] If hon. Members on the Irish Benches would only give the Government clearly to understand that they were agreed among themselves on the point that the Lord Lieutenant and his Household were institutions which ought no longer to exist, he would undertake, on the part of the Government, to seriously consider the matter. ["Hear, hear!" and laughter.]

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

said that when a Member of the English Government promised, with a bland smile and an appearance of assent, to seriously consider any proposition from a Member on the Irish Benches, he would advise the hon. Member for East Mayo should look out. He could tell the right hon. Gentleman that if he was under the impression that there was any united desire in the Irish Benches to get rid of the Viceroyalty in Ireland, he was very much mistaken. He, for instance, would most strongly and vehemently oppose any such proposition, because he regarded the Vice-royalty as one of the distinct marks of Irish nationality, which Irish Nationalists would be very foolish indeed to surrender. He quite agreed with the Chief Secretary that most Lord Lieutenants were unable to carry out their functions within the limits of the salary they received from the State, but at the same time he had heard of instances—they were not those of the present Lord Lieutenant or of his predecessor—where English Lord Lieutenants had gone over to Ireland and made a jolly good thing out of the office. The right hon. Gentleman had failed to make any reply with regard to the religious question. He could have done so, and still kept himself within the bounds of order, because, after all, the discussion of the question of the chaplaincy involved the whole question of the religious disability which was imposed upon the Viceroyalty. After all, if there be only an Episcopalian chaplain, which he believed to be the case, paid for by the State in connection with the Viceregal Court, it must be because the Viceroy was usually a member of the Established Church, but if, as the Chief Secretary argued, with what accuracy of statement he did not know, that it was possible for a Presbyterian Lord Lieutenant to have a Presbyterian chaplain, that did not meet the argument that there was no provision for a Catholic chaplain, for the good reason that there was no provision for a Catholic Viceroy. The right hon. Gentleman would be well advised if he did away with this odious remnant of Catholic disability in Ireland.


said, he was not at all alarmed at the smile of the Chief Secretary, or at his promise to consider the suggestion for the abolition of the Viceregal Court.


I said I would consider the question if ever I found Gentlemen opposite were unanimous.


wished to be perfectly candid. Amongst the reasons which would induce him to support a Measure such as the Chief Secretary might possibly bring in was, that he was a republican and opposed to sham monarchies in Ireland or elsewhere.


said, the Chief Secretary had not satisfied him on the religious question. Did not the right hon. Gentleman see that Catholics had the deepest objection to their exclusion, because they regarded it as a remnant of the odious system of oppression in the past? The Dean of the Chapel Royal was chiefly a political agent of the Government, and he suggested that as a compromise the Chief Secretary should consent to abolish the office.


asked what was the good of niggling over details. The fact of the matter was hon. Gentlemen opposite objected on broad grounds or not at all to the Lord Lieutenant's Household. On broad grounds he was prepared to meet them. He maintained that they could not have a Court without expenditure more or less of this description, and he was not going to haggle with hon. Gentlemen over particular items. If they were not prepared to abolish the whole Court in Dublin, it was unworthy of the hon. Gentlemen to object to this or that charge.


hoped that when the Irish Members were united on other subjects, they would find the Chief Secretary prepared to give fair and favourable consideration to their representations.

MR. ALEXANDER CROSS (Glasgow, Camlachie)

agreed with the Irish Secretary in the view that this was not a subject to be dealt with by wrangling over details. But there were two important points really involved in the Debate. The one was the continuation of the office of the Lord Lieutenancy in Ireland. Regarding that he shared the views already expressed by another Member of the Unionist Party. He thought the office was an anachronism. Its existence put Ireland on a different basis of government from that of the sister countries, and he thought such a difference was one which a Unionist Government ought not to maintain. The three countries should be all governed on the same lines. The other point was the religious disabilities attachable to that office which had been complained of by the Irish Members. It might be a sentimental matter. It was so probaby to a large extent, but it deserves consideration. He hoped the Chief Secretary would frankly give it that. This disability against Catholics was one of the very last remaining. The day had gone past for all such. It was not in sympathy with the opinion of these times that any man should be excluded from any office in the State on account of his religious belief. And this disability ought to be removed. ["Hear, hear!"] Its removal would remove a cause of offence to a large section of the Irish, and be grateful to the sentiments of the people in the other sections of the Kingdom. He had spoken because he thought it proper that the existence of these views amongst Unionist Members should be expressed, and in the hope the present strong Government would take an early opportunity of favourably considering them.

Original Question put:—

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 210; Noes. 115.—(Division List, No. 103.)

2. £1,181, to complete the sum for the Charitable Donations and Bequests Office, Ireland—agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed:

3. "That a sum, not exceeding £113,458, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1897, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board in Ireland, including certain Grants in aid of Local Taxation"


said, the Chief Secretary, who had expressed his desire to kill Home Rule with kindness, had commenced his career as President of the Local Government Board of Ireland with a most unhappy experiment, namely, the suspension of the Board of Guardians of the Athlone Union and the appointment of two Vice-guardians in their place. The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for North Armagh stated, in the course of his speech on Wednesday, that the appointment of those Vice-guardians was a saving to the ratepayers.


I only advocated the appointment of paid guardians when the ordinary guardians failed to do their duty.


contended that it was only in cases of extreme necessity that these extreme powers of the Local Government Board should be put into operation; and he was certain that if that Board was controlled by Irish public opinion these suspensions of Boards of Guardians would rarely occur indeed. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had alluded to the case of Cork, and the large reduction in the amount of outdoor relief which was made by the Vice-guardians in that case. But those reductions were easily made. All that was necessary to be done was to refuse out-door relief in necessitous cases, or at any rate to cut it down largely—which elected guardians could not do, being responsible to popular control—and the whole thing was done. What were the facts in regard to the case of the Athlone Guardians? That Board had admittedly managed their affairs well. The Union was not in debt; its finances were not maladministered; there was a balance to its credit. The Local Government Board had no complaint to make against the Athlone Board, excepting on one knotty point of the house administration. Last August and September the guardians, in accordance with the order of the Local Government Board, advertised for a trained nurse for the infirmary. Out of the applicants for the post the Guardians selected was a Sister of Mercy, Sister Mary de Sales, and the Local Government Board objected to the appointment on the ground that she was not a trained nurse. It was true that this nun did not hold a certificate as a nurse, but she was better trained and skilled in the care of the sick, by many years' practical experience by the bedside, than a young nurse who got a certificate from some institution in Dublin. He did not defend the employment in every case of nuns in hospitals in preference to certificated nurses, but in this particular case the Athlone Guardians had acted with a full sense of their responsibility, and after they had thoroughly acquainted themselves with the capabilities of Sister Mary de Sales; and he thought it was a monstrous thing for the Local Government Board sitting up in Dublin, and ignorant of local needs, to suspend the Board of Guardians for the mere appointment of one officer. The Local Government Board wrote to the guardians that they were unable to approve of the appointment of the Sister of Mercy unless she consented to undergo a training in an institution in Dublin. The guardians passed, by a majority of 25 votes to seven votes, a strong resolution declining to require the Sister to proceed to Dublin for training, or to make another appointment, and for this they were suspended by the Local Government Board. Where there were no charges of corruption or maladministration, and the locally-elected body were discharging their duties with efficiency, the Local Government Board ought not to suspend the Guardians and put paid officials in their place, to act with an official tyranny which would not be tolerated for 24 hours in England.


said that he knew nothing about the case mentioned by the hon. Member, and he did not wish to suggest that the lady to whom the hon. Member referred was not all that he had stated. But the contention of the hon. Member amounted to an abrogation of the established rule in Ireland that Boards of Guardians must appoint none but certificated nurses to the workhouses.


said that there was no such rule. It might be a Local Government Board Order.


said that it was one of the best Orders of the Local Government Board, and it was absolutely necessary in Ireland to see that the nurse in the poor-house should have every qualification. It was the preeminent duty of the Local Government Board to see this Order carried out, which had been found to work well all over Ireland.


said that the Local Government Board, in supplanting the elected Guardians, usually appointed people who were strangers to the duties, and quite unsympathetic with the people of Ireland. This action of the Local Government Board, complained of by his hon. Friend, was a blot on the Administration of the Chief Secretary which would not soon be forgotten in Ireland. It showed the domineering manner in which the Local Government Board discharged the functions. The vast majority of the Guardians believed that this nun was capable of making a good nurse, and that opinion was fortified by the testimony of the doctor under whom she worked. He said that the lady was quite competent to discharge the duties of nurse to his satisfaction, and no better testimony to her efficiency than that gentleman's opinion. In many instances the Local Government Board carried out the duties quite inefficiently. For instance, in one workhouse 2s. 7d. per inmate was allowed for drink, and in another workhouse only one penny per inmate. If the Local Government Board were doing their duty, they would not allow such glaring disparities. He urged that the qualification for Members on the Dispensary Committees should be reduced. In some of the poorer districts it was extremely difficult to obtain men who possessed the necessary property qualification. The right hon. Gentleman ought to make Ulster unions adopt the Labourers' Cottages Acts. When some of those unions had received requisitions from the Local Government Board to erect cottages, they had coolly flouted them, and nothing more was said. But when a union not in Ulster wished to appoint a nun as nurse, they were dissolved. The Inspectors of the Local Government Board were appointed from a class of men who had no knowledge of their duties when appointed, and much friction resulted. He suggested that clerks of unions and workhouse masters, when found competent, should be promoted.


called attention to the peculiar position occupied by the Chief Secretary in holding both that office and the Presidency of the Local Government Board of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, as Chief Secretary, must first have regard to the political necessities of the day, and he could not, therefore, devote proper attention to the administration of the poor, which, as President of the Local Government Board, devolved upon him.

MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

asked the Chief Secretary for information with regard to the auditing of Grand Jury accounts throughout Ireland. There was a Blue-book issued by the Local Government Board showing what the local taxation of Ireland was, and it appeared that there was a steady increase of local taxation. It appeared also from this Blue-book that the largest spending body in Ireland was the Grand Jury, but with the exception of the summaries therein contained, there was no account at all of the vast sums levied and spent by the Grand Juries throughout the Irish counties.


, on a point of order, asked whether this matter properly arose under the Local Government Board Vote, seeing that the auditors of the Board did not audit the accounts of the Grand Juries, in the sense that they had no power to enforce their recommendations.


pointed out that there was an item in this Vote for the salaries of these auditors.


said, that if the Chief Secretary stated that the auditors did not audit the accounts of the Grand Juries, he must accept his statement.


believed the auditors audited the accounts, but there was absolutely no power to enforce their recommendations. He presumed, too, they superintended the publication of the accounts.


said that was the very point he wanted to set out. They had no power to surcharge, and therefore there was no way of reaching these extraordinary local authorities in Ireland. There was an item in the accounts of some £7,000 for auditing the accounts of the Grand Juries and treasurers of counties throughout Ireland. He wished to know what work was done for the money, how the audit was accomplished, and the precise responsibility of the auditors for the publication of the Grand Jury accounts. He desired a fuller statement from the Local Government Board. He wanted to know how the money was spent in the different counties and the rates at which wards were made throughout Ireland. Not only did the auditors audit the Grand Jury accounts, but also those of the Dublin Dock Board and other harbour accounts throughout the country. There was a sum of £367,000 a year received by the harbour authorities, and they had most incomplete accounts of how the money was expended. Was there an effective audit of the accounts of the various harbour authorities? If there was, could the Chief Secretary tell him where to get fuller details. His belief was, that under the sanction of the audit of the Local Government Board, there was the greatest extravagance on the part of these local authorities, and they could not trace that extravagance because the auditors did not furnish them with proper accounts.

MR. J. P. FARRELL (Cavan, W.)

wished to set the House right as to the circumstances attending the suspension of the Athlone Board of Guardians by the Local Government Board. He believed he was within the fact in stating that the suspension of this body originated in a dispute which was created in the Athlone Union by the Rev. Dr. Campbell. A lady had acted as nurse for a period of five years, and it was not until there was a dispute got up by the Rev. Dr. Campbell on a charge of proselytising against the nuns that the Local Government Board thought fit to send down and hold an Inquiry on the subject. This was in August 1895. The Local Government Board took objection to the lady acting as a night nurse in the institution, and they ordered the substitution of a properly trained and certificated nurse. In response to the advertisement Sister Mary was appointed, but the Local Government Board having had their bigoted feelings on the question aroused, objected to the appointment. The Board of Guardians were steadfast, and the result was that the Board of Guardians had been suspended for eight months by a mandatory order of the Local Government Board. The words "certificated trained nurse" did not occur in connection with the English Poor Law system. If the practice was a proper one in Athlone it was also proper in other Unions in Ireland. But what was now taking place? Within two months a nurse had been appointed at Granard, for instance, who was neither certificated nor trained. The same thing had occurred in the city of Derry, and in the Union of Longford. He maintained, therefore, that this question of trained night nurses, to which he personally had no objection so long as it was confined within the limits of justice and reason, and so long as the religious test was not applied, was one wholly for the consideration of the local authorities. He should be glad to see a return prepared of the northern unions, showing in how many cases in the different unions in the north, the Guardians were in the possession of the services of certificated trained night nurses. In reviewing the chief defects of the present Local Government Board administration, he said that the Irish Poor Law system was originally designed to carry out two important works in Ireland—to afford relief to the poor, and relief to the sick poor. But since that time many other functions had been conferred on the Board. It was utterly impossible for one small central system of government to efficiently discharge its duties under the cumbrous Public Health Act, under the long tedious work connected with the Labourers' Act, and the Franchise Act. One of the most important Acts to which the Board had to pay attention was the Irish Public Health Act; but the present system was inefficient and absurd. The Labourers' Act was designed to relieve a great deal of the sufferings of the poor labourers, and to put them in better houses, as well as to create a spirit of independence among them. The Act, however, had been scandalously neglected by the Local Government Board, which had done its best in every instance, as far as he was aware, to aid in the obstruction of carrying out this Act. They neglected to push forward schemes adopted by the Guardians in a degree which was almost criminal; and whereas, at this time there should be 120,000 labourers' houses erected throughout Ireland, there were only 12,000 cottages erected after 13 years experience of the Act. The inefficiency of the Department in respect of the Franchise Act was also positively glaring. There were no service franchise forms, neither was there a proper revision of the voters' lists. A number of lists were at present in force where the name of a man appeared who had been dead 10 years. In fact, the duties of this Department should be separated. Either there should be another Board, or the local authorities should be given more direct control of their own affairs. The carrying out of the Labourers' Act should be simplified, and until this was done progress could not be expected. A sum of £1,300,000 was collected annually in Ireland for the purposes to winch the various Acts administered by the Local Government Board referred. Of this sum £700,000 was expended in the actual relief of the poor, and the balance—namely, £600,000—went in fees and salaries to officials. That was surely an excessive amount. He trusted that the Chief Secretary would make an effort to improve the present system of Poor Law administration in Ireland.

DR. TANNER (Cork, Mid) moved the reduction of the item set down for the Medical Commission by the sum of £1,000. He did this as a protest against the suspension of the Athlone Board of Guardians and the dismissal of Sister Mary.


The lady has not been dismissed. ["Hear, hear!"]


said, that the Board, at any rate, had been suspended in consequence of the action taken in the case of this lady. He detested bigotry. Sisters of Mercy and of the Bon Secours were the best nurses for the sick poor. It was a fact that some of the best nurses in London at the present time were not certificated. They had lacked the necessary means to enable them to complete the full course of training. The value of a certificate could be overrated. In his opinion the action of the. Local Government Board in this case amounted to an outrage.


said, that in his opinion the action of the Local Government Board in this matter had been somewhat unwise; and he thought that they might very well make an exception to this stringent rule in this case.

On the return of the CHAIRMAN after the usual interval.


said, that in view of the reduction of the particular item of this Vote which had been moved, he should confine his remarks entirely to the action of the Local Government Board in suspending the Guardians of the Athlone Union. The hon. Member for North Cork observed, he thought with justice, that the Local Government Board would not be justified in suspending the Boards of Guardians except in cases of great and urgent necessity. Certainly the general policy of the Local Government Board in Ireland, so far as he could understand it, was not to suspend the Boards of Guardians except in cases of urgent necessity, and the particular case of the Athlone Board of Guardians, he did not hesitate to say, came within that description. The hon. Member for North Cork described the action of the Local Government Board as an intolerable piece of petty official tyranny. The language used by the hon. Member for West Cavan attributed to them a certain element of religious bigotry in the action they had taken.


was understood to say that it was not until a dispute was got up in regard to proselytising that anything was heard about the night nursing business.


referred to the language used by the hon. Member for Mid Cork, who spoke of this being a dirty little piece of bigotry, and pointed out that on a previous occasion the hon. Member for Louth had attributed the suspension of the Board of Guardians to their narrow sectarian feeling. Nothing could be further than this from their thoughts or their intention. As a matter of fact, the nuns had never left the workhouse, and continued to live there.


asked if they continued in their original capacity.


said, he thought so, and he believed the general management of the nursing was in the hands of one of the nuns at the present time.


asked if it was not the fact that the Local Government Board insisted on a trained night nurse being put there.


said that was perfectly true. The Local Government Board insisted upon the appointment of a trained nurse to do night work, but that was not in any sense ousting the nuns from their functions, which, as a matter of fact, they performed up to the present time. There seemed to be an impression among hon. Members opposite that this question had arisen only since the present Government entered upon its tenure of office, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite would be more correctly acquainted with the facts of the case. The question arose during the tenure of office of his predecessor, and it was only due to the fact that the right hon. Member for the Montrose Burghs left office when he did that this action was not taken by him. He would give the Committee a short account of these transactions. For some years past there had been a serious deficiency in connection with the arrangements for night nursing in the Athlone Workhouse, and several cases had, in consequence, come prominently before the public. On the 15th of November another child died under a similar set of circumstances. On both occasions the coroner's jury called attention to the necessity for the appointment of a night nurse for the infirmary. The nursing of the hospital by day was then and still remained in the hands of the Sisters of Mercy. He agreed in what had been said as to the excellent qualities of the nuns as nurses. As a matter of fact, they had not been permitted to undertake and had never done the night nursing, and it was in the hands of paupers—persons who, as a rule, had little knowledge of nursing, and were incapable of discharging duties of that kind in a proper manner. When the coroner's verdict on the first child was made known, the Local Government Board directed a medical inspector to report. As far back as 1892, he ascertained that the nuns did not perform the duties of night nursing, that they retired early and left the work to pauper attendants. The inspector had no hesitation in supporting the recommendation of the medical officer that the appointment of a trained nurse was necessary. A considerable correspondence ensued. It was renewed on the death of another child in 1894; and this death was followed by another case which created considerable scandal. A Dublin hospital received a woman who had been in the workhouse infirmary five months, and she was suffering from a dislocation of the hip which must have occurred two months before she left Athlone, and yet the nurses had not discovered her injury, so that the attention of the doctor was not called to her case; and, as the result of the delay in discovering the dislocation, she would probably be lame for life. This case following the others provoked much indignation; and on the 3rd of May of last year, the Chief Secretary approved of an intimation being conveyed to the Guardians that they must appoint a trained night nurse, and, if they did not, the management would be placed in the hands of paid officers. Advertisements were issued, and several trained nurses applied; but the Guardians appointed a nun—Sister de Sales—who had had no training outside the Athlone workhouse. They proposed to send her to Dublin for training, and to defray the cost. It was pointed out that this was illegal, and they proposed to let her be trained at her own cost. This, it was objected, would involve delay, during which it would be necessary to appoint someone in her place. Then the Bishop of Ardagh threatened, if a trained nurse were insisted upon, to withdraw the nuns altogether; and, thereupon, the Guardians declared that Sister de Sales was fully qualified without any further training. On the 19th of June 1895, while the late Government was still in Office, an ultimatum was sent to the Guardians declaring that the appointment would not be sanctioned unless she went to Dublin to be trained, and unless a trained nurse were appointed in her absence. An inspector attended a meeting of the Guardians to induce them to change their last decision; and, as they would not do so, the Board was reluctantly dissolved by himself, as it would have been by his predecessor had he remained Chief Secretary. It was explained to the inspector by the Superioress that it was not contemplated that Sister de Sales should undertake night duty, but that the Sisters were to obtain the services of a lay night nurse, although Sister de Sales was to be ostensibly appointed; and on that undertaking a payment of £50 a year was to be sanctioned. Thus, there was in contemplation what was not straightforward. He did not suggest that the sisters wanted to do anything otherwise than what was straightforward; but he could not acquit the Chairman, who could not have been ignorant of the nature of the transaction. He reluctantly concluded that he could not do otherwise than act as the late Chief Secretary would have done. The Local Government Board had absolutely no alternative but to take the course they did.


said he was surprised that the Chief Secretary should have found fault with the nurses, because the case at Athlone turned out to be one of dislocation of hip joint. Were, nurses to diagnose such cases? Because the case was transferred from the workhouse infirmary to the hospital in Dublin, and the doctor was failing in his duty, an attempt was made to throw the blame of a faulty diagnosis on the nurses. If such remissness were brought before the board of governors of any public hospital, the doctor would suffer for it. But for the Chief Secretary for Ireland to throw discredit on the nursing staff because the Lord Lieutenant was wanting in his duty, was ridiculous. To a certain extent he accepted what the right hon. gentleman had said. He depended on the information he received, and he might be led astray. Most Chief Secretaries were at times. There was a practical point. Every medical man at workhouse infirmaries had to sign the docket over the bed of every patient intrusted to their care, writing on the docket what the patient was suffering from. This was not the duty of the nurse, but of the doctor. About the duties of a night nurse. He was doctor in a public hospital for 11 years, and he knew something about those duties. There were generally some hopeless cases in every hospital, and, if there were several patients in extremis, how could one nurse attend to them all? There should be a head nurse—a nun—sand a couple of sub-nurses under her. In that way the wants of the sick would be better ministered to than they could otherwise be. In England, as well as in Ireland, he hoped that pauper nurses would be done away with in workhouse infirmaries, and suitable nurses would be substituted for them, who would have the best interests of the sufferers at heart.


disclaimed any desire to import bigotry into the matter. He was within his rights in drawing attention to the fact that the commencement of the whole quarrel in Athlone was a dispute which originated in the Inquiry instituted into the conduct of Dr. Cochrane. With regard to the action of the former Chief Secretary, he was not aware of the official intricacies of the case; but he still said it was a very strong step in a matter of this sort to suspend an elected Board of Guardians, against whose financial administration of the affairs of the union there was no complaint whatever. With regard to the employment of trained nurses, he might instance the action of the medical officer of the Longford Union, who was in favour of a complete system of trained nursing in that infirmary. He was confronted with the difficulty which cropped up in Athlone of having trained night nurses. There was a conflict with the Local Government Board, but the Board had not insisted on the attendance of trained night nurses in the infirmary. He believed that a great deal of the misunderstanding which arose, and which led to such disastrous results, was due to the action of the officials of the union. But, inasmuch as the matter was practically closed by the re-election of the Board of Guardians, he would appeal to the Member for Mid-Cork to withdraw his Motion for the reduction of the Vote.


consented to the withdrawal of his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


said he desired to call attention to the administration of the Labourers' Act in Ireland. It was stated that the Government intended to introduce a Bill to simplify and cheapen the procedure under the Act. Such a Bill might be introduced forthwith. It might be passed after 12 o'clock, as it would be non-contentious. No one desired to obstruct a Bill having for its object an improvement of the working of the Labourers' Acts in Ireland. But, apart from the passing of a Bill, something might be done to meet the present situation by administrative Acts. In order to show the delay which the present procedure involved, the hon. Member mentioned the case of the Kilmallock Union in County Limerick, where, three years ago, the wretched condition of the dwellings of the labourers in the village of Hospital was brought under his notice, and where the Board of Guardians who, to their credit, had already done much to put these Acts in force, prepared a scheme for the erection of labourers' dwellings. But although he had himself, at the instance of the labourers in the locality, put a question in that House with a view of expediting the procedure, within the last fortnight he had received a letter stating that the labourers were still in their miserable hovels and imploring him to bring this matter before the Government. There must be something extremely wrong in the system under which, with the Local Government Board and the Board of Guardians anxious to have this state of things remedied, the labourers were still compelled to live in these hovels The hon. Member read an extract from a local paper, in which it was stated it often took six or seven years before the schemes for labourers' cottages were carried to completion, and pointing out the impossibility of one arbitrator performing the duties under these Acts. The suggestion that more than one arbitrator should be appointed was one which deserved the consideration of the Chief Secretary. He did not say that the Local Government Board had shown an illiberal spirit in the administration of these Acts—indeed, the very contrary was the case—but he desired to press upon the right hon. Gentleman the extreme desirability of expediting these schemes. He did not know that there had been any Act or Acts, with all their faults, which were enormous, passed by the House of Commons with regard to Ireland, which had done more, and which had struck one more, than the Labourers' Acts. The greatest observers were united in pressing this one point in their writings that the worst reproach of all the many things which existed in Ireland was the scandalous condition of the labouring poor. He did not know anything more striking than to see side by side the miserable hovels in which the labourer was compelled to live, and which were not fit for pigsties, and opposite to that the comfortable, respectable and really attractive house which had been built for him under the Labourers' Acts. He would conclude by urging upon the right hon. Gentleman that he should look personally into this matter and urge upon the Local Government Board that they should apply their energies to remove all obstacles, if necessary, by the appointment of fresh inspectors or by modification of the Acts; and further, that he would as soon as he could introduce the non-contentious Measure to which reference had been made, and which he believed could be passed almost immediately.

MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.), whilst agreeing that many boards of guardians had done their best to put the Labourers' Acts into operation, observed that they had not, however, met with the same reception in Ulster. In the case of Strabane, for example, the functions of the Board of Guardians had to be superseded and the working of the Labourers Acts in that district intrusted to the Local Government Board. What had been the result? Inspector after inspector of the Local Government Board had been down in Strabane, had viewed the cottages, had reported adversely, had described the habitations of men as almost unfit for the habitation of animals, and yet not one single building had been erected by the Local Government Board. He hoped the Chief Secretary would be able to give some explanation of this matter. He would also be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could give some information as to the Stranorlar Union.


said he did not think there was any question in which Ireland was more deeply interested than that of the labourers' cottages. Anyone who had travelled through Ireland must have seen the squalid and wretched condition in which the labourers lived, some time ago, at all events. The late Government were very anxious to grapple with this question, and he rather thought a Bill was actually in preparation with a view, if possible, to better this labourer cottages code. Undoubtedly there were great difficulties in dealing with this matter arising from the Acts of Parliament themselves. Under the existing law there were 14 stages to be gone through before the labourer had any chance of having his cottage even commenced. The consequence was that the expense and delay were so great as to defeat the intentions of the Legislature. These two defects, he had no doubt, could be met by legislation. These 14 stages could be well reduced, and one step towards that would be to leave the Local Government Board finally to decide whether a cottage should be built or not. As the law stood at present, after the Local Government Board had approved of the scheme, any one who had a locus standi might present a petition and might appeal to the Lord Lieutenant in Council. That in itself involved considerable delay and expense, which ultimately fell upon the ratepayers of the Union. If the Local Government Board were made the final authority, they would get rid of a portion of the delay and expense. Even from the financial point of view, it would be a public benefit that this Code should be amended. Some years ago there was a Commission directed to inquire into the whole question of labourers' cottages in the Nenagh Union in the county of Tipperary, and he had a distinct recollection that it was proved to the satisfaction of the Commissioners that a gentleman who happened to be a brother of one of the Members of the present Cabinet, and who was a large landholder in the neighbourhood of Nenagh, had, at his own expense, built several labourers' cottages on his estate and that those cottages were remunerative and recouped him for the expense incurred. There was recently a case, he thought, on the Earl of Clancarty's estate in Galway. A cottage had been approved of there, and the purchase money of the site was fixed at only £30, but in order to make out the Earl of Clancarty's title to the £30 site, the Guardians were informed by his lordship's solicitor that it would cost £200. That was not the fault of the Earl of Clancarty or of his solicitor. 11 was the fault of the law. That should be got rid of by some simple process, and by giving the Local Government Board the (lower of creating a Parliamentary title. Then there were other costs which would have brought up the sum to £430, which would have been payable out of the rates. That would be a prohibitory sum, and in this case the whole business fell through. He felt quite sure that if the House had an opportunity of knowing how vitally important it was to better the condition of the Irish labourer, quite apart from any political considerations. but merely on the grounds of humanity and civilisation, they would spare no effort and withhold no vote which would conduce to the expediting, facilitating and cheapening of this system, by which the poor labourers of Ireland could be properly housed, and without which that amount of self-respect which was essential to the good feeling of every community could not be expected to exist.


said he gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that the Bill to which he had referred, and which, unless it was very much contrary to what they expected, would be treated as a non-contentious measure, was not altogether drafted at present. That being so he would take the liberty of suggesting that the Chief Secretary should use his influence to do away with the appeal to the Privy Council, which was very expensive and led to great delay; to lighten the heavy stamp duty which was at present attached to the contract, and also to consider whether it would not be possible to do something to enable the Act to be worked in districts where at present it was a dead letter. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider the condition of some parts of Ulster and of Connaught, and he did not think the Treasury could better employ its capital than by giving facilities at a decreased rate of interest to those unions for the erection of these cottages. There had never been an expenditure productive of so much good and which had done so much to improve the general aspect of the country as the expenditure under the Labourers' Acts, and he thought it ought to be everybody's policy to encourage boards of guardians to erect better habitations for the poor. Though generally they had not much confidence in the Local Government Board, he was bound to confess, from some experience of the working of the Act, that the inspectors they had had in their district had given satisfaction to ratepapers, and had listened attentively to the statements of the labourers. He desired to say a word with reference to the audit of the accounts of the poor law boards and of the accounts connected with the county cess. They had in Ireland generally speaking, two local rates, the county rate and the poor rate. The poor rate was paid partly by the landlord and partly by the tenant, except in the case of holdings under £4, where the landlord paid the whole of it and where, as a rule, he exacted additional rent. But the county rate was paid altogether by the occupier, and was disbursed by the Grand Jury. An auditor was supposed to audit those accounts, but so far as the taxpayers were concerned they knew little or nothing of how this money was spent. They paid 3s. 4d. in the £ for the county rate and about 2s. in the £ for the poor rate, and notwithstanding the large amount collected on the former rate no audit was placed before the ratepayers, nor were they shown how the money was spent. This was scarcely fair, especially as those who disbursed the rate did not pay it. ["Hear, hear!"] Another subject to which he desired to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman had reference to a point in the working of the Poor Law as between England and Ireland, in relation to the powers of removal of paupers. He drew attention to the matter last year, and the Chief Secretary then admitted that Ireland had a distinct grievance in regard to it. He alluded to the deportation of paupers from England to Ireland, and he had no hesitation in saying that the present state of the law was monstrous. An aged Irishman on entering a union in England was forthwith sent by the local authorities over to the parish in Ireland in which he was born, but there was no similar power under the Poor Law in Ireland to send any Englishman or Scotchman back to his native parish. Now that was an injustice in itself, but the hardness and injustice were aggravated by the fact that many of the old Irish people to whom he referred had gone to England in their youth, and had laboured in the country nearly all their lives. At any rate, this power of removal should not be partial, and as the injustice of the present state of the law to Ireland had been recognised by the right hon. Gentleman, he hoped he would take steps as soon as possible to remedy it. Promises to do so had more than once been given, but nothing had come of them. It was no excuse to say that want of time had prevented anything being done. The Irish people did not ask that Parliament to legislate for them; but if it insisted on doing so, it ought to find time to do Ireland simple justice. ["Hear, hear!"] Last year he directed attention to yet another matter, and he regretted that he should be compelled to revert to it again this year. He referred to the case of the inspectors who were appointed some years ago by the Boards of Guardians under the provisions of the Contagious Diseases' (Animals) Act. Now, half the salaries of the inspectors appointed by the Local Government Board under the Public Health Act in Ireland was paid by the State, but that was not the case with the inspectors appointed by the Guardians under the other Acts. Since the appointments were made by the Guardians, however, the Local Government Board had declared that, in the interest of the public it was desirable that the appointment and control of all such officers should be in their hands, and they had consequently taken over the powers of appointment from the Guardians, and the control of the officers appointed by them, but up to the present time no portion of the salaries of those officers had been paid by the State as in the other cases. This, he contended, was an injustice to the ratepayers. The Local Government Board, having taken over the right of appointment and the control of the inspectors, surely it was only reasonable and fair that the same condition should be observed in regard to their salaries as in the cases of the inspectors appointed under the Public Health Act. He could not expect the right hon. Gentleman to give him an answer on the matter off-hand, but he did ask him to take the matter seriously into consideration. ["Hear, hear!"]

MR. MURNAGHAN, who was almost inaudible in the Reporters' Gallery, said that persistent opposition was shown in some parts of Ireland against giving facilities for the erection of labourers' cottages, and he urged the right hon. Gentleman to give his special attention to this fact.

MR. J. DALY (Monaghan, S.)

hoped the Government would build labourers' cottages. He mentioned the fact that in the Carrickmacross Union, owing to the opposition of the landlords, the expenses and law costs on two plots, which the Government Arbitrator valued at £60, amounted to £57 10s. He asserted that the Act was never intended to be workable, or it would not have made opposition possible to such an extent on the part of the person from whom land is acquired for the purpose of labourers' cottages. The Act also encouraged litigation, because even if they were successful, the guardians had to pay not only their own costs, but the costs of the person from whom land was to be taken. He urged upon the Government the necessity of reducing the qualification of members of the Dispensary Committees from £30 to £8, so that it should be the same as the qualification for Poor Law Guardians. The hon. Member further expressed the hope that the Government would appoint workhouse masters and clerks of unions as inspectors, because such men, from their training and knowledge, would be much better able to discharge the duties of inspectors than men who joined the service raw, and who were promoted for political considerations rather than because of any special qualification which they possessed for the work.


was sorry he could not agree with all his hon. Friends below the Gangway had said about labourers' cottages. His hon. Friends wanted more cottages, and he thought they were quite right, because the dwellings of the poor people were a disgrace to any civilised country. But he thought they should get the cottages without the taxes that attached to them. There could be no greater argument against the misgovernment of Ireland than the system under which these cottages were built. In all, 12,000 cottages had been built, but each one meant the addition of £5 to the rates of the district in which it stood. In his—the Cavan—Union 21 cottages had been erected, and each of them cost £180, which meant a charge of £8 for each cottage. One hon. Member had said they wanted, not 12,000, but 120,000 houses. If they got 120,000 houses on the present terms they would have 120,000 taxes, amounting to £600,000, added to the already overburdened rates of the poorest country in Europe. That would be a national crime. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman knew the disgraceful state in which the people were with regard to house accommodation. The Government had to provide houses without adding to the taxes. The average rent of 12,000 houses was £2 9s. 0d., and half of that was paid by the labourers, but there would be still a loss of £5 on every house. He joined in the plea that the houses should be built, but he objected to the taxes. It would be asked, "How can you get the houses built without adding to the rates?" ["Hear, hear!"] The Government of Ireland was a very difficult thing, and those who undertook the responsibility of the Government had laid on their shoulders the duty of doing the work, and doing it well. These houses should be furnished on an economical basis. There was one municipal lodging-house in London, but the experiment would not be proceeded with until it could be shown that both ends met. Thus, in country districts the question of allotments had been dealt with. Where the cottages were most wanted there the rate fell heaviest. He was sure the Committee felt indebted to the hon. Member (Sergeant Hemphill) who had been the sole occupant of the front Opposition Bench all through the Debate. [Ministerial laughter.] He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, by cheapening the interest by consolidating the loans, he could not do something' What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer say yesterday? He said that the Government was able to borrow £100 for 13s. for the whole year. Money was so cheap in London that nobody knew what to do with it. If the right hon. Gentleman desired any facility for consolidating the loans, if he said, "Sir, I shall be your broker," they demanded that he should be an honest broker. He asked that this work should he done without making this monstrous addition to the rates of the country. As to the limit of half an acre, he believed an acre would be safer. It was generally said that they could not make half an acre pay. If they gave an acre, it would become remunerative He hoped, when the right hon. Gentleman came to reply, he would make some practical suggestion as to meeting the difficulty without swelling the rates.


complained that in some districts the contractors for the building of these cottages did not have their bonds properly perfected; and it appeared to him that the auditor who went down to audit the, accounts of the union performed his duties in a perfunctory way. It ought to be the duty of the auditors to see that the contractors had their bonds properly perfected. With regard to the remarks of his hon. Friend, he hoped he did not want the Irish people to understand that they should see no more cottages built until the financial relations were adjusted.


No, Sir; I did not say so.


said the hon. Member wanted many cottages built without taxes. If they waited until they could build 112,000 cottages without taxes on the ratepayers, he thought they might as well move to have the Labourers Act altogether abolished. He did not think they would be able to build the necessary number of cottages without putting taxation on the local ratepayer. He did not follow his hon. Friend when he told them that these cottages would mean a charge to the ratepayers of £8 a year. The average amount expended on the construction of these cottages, including the rent payable to the landlord, was £150. The charge in such a case would be £7 10s. Deducting from this £7 10s., 49s. for rent, £5 and not £8 would remain as the cost per cottage to the ratepayers. The ratepayers of the rural districts of Ireland were now in a very serious condition, and he therefore agreed with his hon. Friend when he said that the increase of the rates by 50s. for each cottage, in respect of the rent to the occupier, was an enormous burden to the ratepayers, especially as the area of chargeability for rates in respect of labourers' cottages was the electoral division. He would suggest that, in any Bill introduced by the Government for the Amendment of the Labourers' Acts, the area of chargeability should be made the Union at large. Indeed, he would make the county the area of charge-ability. The poorer districts were the districts where the cottages were most required, and of course in those districts the ratepayers were less able to pay the additional rates imposed for the erection of cottages. In the large, rich grazing districts the Labourers' Acts were not required, because labourers did not exist there, the people having been removed from such districts to make room for flocks and herds; but, as the proper housing of the labourers was a matter not of local but of national importance, he thought those districts which now escaped all responsibility under the Labourers' Acts should be brought into the area of chargeability.

MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

agreed with the hon. Member for North Galway as to the necessity of making the county the area of chargeability under the Labourers' Acts. But the point he wished to impress on the Chief Secretary was the necessity which existed for extending the Allotments Act, which had proved such a success in England, to Ireland. In the last Parliament he had seconded a Resolution to that effect, which had been moved by Colonel Nolan, and the House had unanimously adopted it. It was said that under the present system of Local Government in Ireland the Allotments Act could not be applied. That made it all the more necessary for the Government to take in hand without delay the question of Irish Local Government. One great objection to the Labourers' Acts was that it was altogether too dear. Lawyers and architects got too much money out of it. It was the first duty of the Government to preserve the people—the workers. This was a national question, but the right hon. Gentleman had such a formidable majority that he could settle it if he wished by a wave of his hand. Then there was the question of the deportation of Irish aged paupers from Great Britain be Ireland. It was a legislative scandal that men, who gave all their time and labour to England or Scotland until they were worn out, should be sent to die in an Irish workhouse, and become chargeable on a country already overtaxed. The question had produced much ill-feeling in many Unions. The Conservative Government had promised to convert Ireland from Home Rule by their goodwill. Let them give a proof of it.

MR. J. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)

said, that if the Government were to bring in a Bill to remedy the admitted grievance in respect of the deportation of Irish paupers, it could be passed without opposition after 12 o'clock. He wished to call attention to the extraordinary charge on the Imperial Exchequer for the system of local government in Ireland. The cost to the Exchequer was £138,458, while the cost to the Exchequer of local government in Scotland was only £11,591. The Government appointed the medical officers in Ireland, and the Exchequer was charged with half their cost. For 1,000 men the cost to the Exchequer was £55,000 a year. The analogous charge in Scotland was borne entirely by the ratepayers. Then one-half of the cost of the medicines was in Ireland paid by the Imperial Exchequer, and that came to £20,000 a year. One-half of the salaries of the sanitary inspectors also fell on the Imperial Exchequer, and that charge amounted to £16,000 a year. He might fairly ask the Chief Secretary when he was going to place Ireland as regarded local government on the same footing as Scotland possessed, giving her the same powers on the one hand and the same contribution out of the Imperial Exchequer on the other.


did not know whether the hon. Member for Mid Lanark thought he was recommending the cause of Home Rule or not, but he should advise him to go to hon. Members from Ireland, who sat on the same side with him, and suggest to them, even before the separation of the two Governments had taken place, the idea that the various items he referred to should no longer appear upon the Estimates.


was quite prepared to do so if the right hon. Gentleman would say that he was prepared to give up the Government of Ireland. ["Nationalist cheers."]


pointed out that in that case there would be no question of withdrawing these items from the Estimates, because if the Government of Ireland was separated the Estimates would be Irish Estimates settled in Dublin. In the meantime, hon. Members from Ireland would justly complain if, in order to carry out the hon. Member's ideas, the various subsidies now made from the Imperial Exchequer were withdrawn. (An IRISH MEMBER—("Irish money.") By far the most important of the points which had been raised in the general discussion were those relating to the administration of the Labourers' Acts and the Acts themselves. He would not enter into that futile field of inquiry; he would content himself with saying that the various suggestions made should have his careful consideration in the Bill which he hoped before the Session was over to introduce. With regard to the cost of labourers cottages—£5 annually per cottage—he could hardly agree that it was practicable to make the erection of these cottages a financially profitable transaction. So long as they could not ask from an Irish labourer a rent of more than 1s. a week, it was obvious that the cost must fall somewhere else than on the labourers. Considering that a cottage cost about £125 to build, and that there was the further expenditure in connection with the land, legal expenses in proving title, and so forth, it was obvious that it was not an easy matter to reduce the annual expenditure very much lower than £6 or £7. Therefore, on every cottage there would be a loss, and that loss must fall either on the taxpayers or else upon Imperial funds. He did not know if it was in the recollection of hon. Members that from this year onwards there would be available in respect of what was called the Exchequer contribution a sum of £40,000, which could first of all be used in the erection of labourers' cottages, and that would, he hoped, give some relief to those unions that had built, or were about to build, cottages. He had in the Land Bill introduced a provision by which those unions which had already taken steps in erecting cottages would be enabled to enjoy the benefits of this £40,000 a year contribution, which he thought was only fair, because otherwise they would be penalising those unions that had been quicker than others in putting the Acts in force Turning to the question of the deportation of paupers from England and Scotland into Ireland, the real difficulty was, not passing a Bill which would put Ireland on a footing of equality with England or with Scotland; it was inducing England and Scotland so far to modify the present Poor Law in those countries as to afford the relief which Ireland sought and, in his judgment, justly sought. He was pleased to hear the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy say that a Bill dealing with the Poor Law in such a way as to remove these grievances would receive general support from the House, including the Scottish Members. He trusted that the hon. Member might prove to be a true prophet. He assured hon. Members from Ireland that he had been endeavouring to the utmost of his power since he became Chief Secretary to induce the Local Government Boards of Scotland and England to introduce some change in respect of the deportation of paupers to Ireland, and if he was unable to get all he should like, still he thought that there was some prospect that some relief would be given in the present condition of affairs, which bore very hardly on Ireland. ["Hear, hear!"] Attention had been called to the qualification of dispensary committees. He agreed that the present qualification was unnecessarily high, and he would be ready, if possible, to include in one of the Bills in connection with Poor Law administration he had in preparation a provision dealing with that point. A question o£ some importance had been raised in connection with the audit of Grand Jury accounts. He agreed that there was a great deal to be said in favour of securing fuller and more detailed information on this subject; but how far that was in the power of the Local Government Board to secure by instruction to their auditors he was unable to say without further inquiry. At any rate, he would look into the subject, and what could be done by means of administrative action he would do. Loans for the purpose of building accommodation in Ireland and other similar objects of public utility did not concern that country alone. The rate at which loans were made by the Treasury in Ireland was at least as favourable as the rate of loans made in England and Scotland, and in some respects Ireland was at the present time more favoured than either of the two other countries. All his predecessors in office had done their best to get money from the Treasury for Ireland at as low a rate as possible; but everyone knew that the Treasury was not easily approached. At all events, the Treasury could not be expected to deal with this large and important question of the interest on loans in its bearing on the loans made to Ireland only.


said, the right hon. Gentleman had not touched on the question of allotments. The Treasury had a large and unexpected surplus this year, and some of it could be profitably applied to the purposes for which Ireland needed it.


argued that the rates would be saved if the application of the Allotments Bill was carried out more thoroughly. The labourers suffered from want of continuity of employment, and, as sometimes they were unable to pay the rents of their cottages, they had recourse to the rates. He hoped that the allotments system which he supported in 1888 would be introduced into Ireland without delay. The cottages erected for labourers were often faulty, and yet they were approved by the inspectors of the Local Government Board. They were mostly faulty in respect of chimneys, windows and altitude. The chimney was built in the centre of the cottage, with the result that there was leakage, causing damp and discomfort. The wood used for the window frames was seldom if ever seasoned. In the south of Ireland much more had been done for the labourers than in the north. In many parts of his own constituency, the Macroom Union for example, where formerly the dwellings were a disgrace to civilisation, good labourers' cottages had now been erected. He would like to point out what was actually being done in connection with the provinces of Ulster, Munster, and Leinster. It appeared, from the latest return he could get hold of, that in the province of Ulster 246 cottages had been authorised and 201 built at a cost of £25,553. In Munster, 7,528 cottages had been authorised and 6,192 built—in fact, there were more built in the constituency which he represented than in the whole province of Ulster—at a cost of £707,492 15s. 2d. In Leinster 4,596 cottages had been authorised and 3,615 built at a cost of £464,863 13s. 5d. In that great rich province of Ulster they must have labour. Then, why did they not pay attention to the poor labourers as they did in Munster? It was the usual thing. They would not do it because the labourers were Catholics. He would implore the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to pay attention to the prayer with which the House of Commons always commenced its proceedings, and, laying aside all violence, to try to enter into this matter.


said, that with regard to the question of cottages, under the present law it was possible for an allotment of an acre of ground to he attached to a labourer's cottage. He was of opinion that if the labourer was to remain a labourer he would not have time to cultivate more than one acre. When it was suggested that the Allotments Act should be applied in Ireland, and allotments there extended to two or three or even four acres, he did not think that would be at all desirable, inasmuch as the conditions of things in England and in Ireland were quite different. In England there was a system of large farms cultivated by hired labour. In Ireland, on the other hand, the farms were small, and were cultivated to a considerable extent by the tenants themselves. Thus, if a labourer in Ireland was really in a position to pay rent for an allotment, he was already on the way to taking the position of a tenant farmer. He appealed to the Committee to allow the Vote to pass, as he thought that the subject had been sufficiently discussed.


said that he had been over various parts of England which corresponded with Irish agricultural districts, and he found that whereas labourers' cottages were not wanted in this country they were much needed in Ireland.


said, that in his view the various questions which had been raised in the course of the discussion upon this Vote could not be passed over altogether without consideration. Year after year he had drawn the attention of the Ministry to certain of those questions because he thought that there was very little to show in return for the expenditure of the money that was connected with this Vote. It was perfectly clear that for many years the administration of the Poor Law in Ireland was not as satisfactory as it was in England. In fact, the administration of that law in the two countries was totally different. After visiting a number of workhouses in this country it was difficult for him to believe that the workhouses in Ireland were administered under the same law. In Ireland, those who, by no fault of their own, by age or by unavoidable misfortune were forced into the workhouses were compelled to associate with those from whom they were entitled to be protected. Another question of much importance was that which arose in connection with the scale of dietary in Irish workhouses. Last year he had asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to make inquiry into the subject, and the right hon. Gentleman had undertaken to do so. He now repeated his assertion that the chemical equivalents of the food supplied in the Irish workhouses were not sufficient, according to the lowest scale recognised by medical authorities, to support life, even where no labour was required. He did not doubt that the right hon. Gentleman, in fulfilment of his undertaking, had caused inquiries to be made into the subject of the dietary scale adopted in certain of the Irish workhouses, and he should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would place before the Committee the result of those inquiries.


said, that the expenditure upon labourers' cottages in Ireland was money well spent, for which excellent value was obtained. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that it was wrong for a labourer in Ireland to aspire to cultivate three or four acres of land. The more labour there was put on the land in Ireland the better it was for the country and for everybody concerned. He hoped and trusted that a Bill similar to the Labourers (Ireland) Act, would shortly be introduced by some English Members to provide better dwellings for the agricultural labourers of England. He had listened with considerable satisfaction to the statement of the Chief Secretary, which had convinced him that the right hon. Gentleman was earnestly desirous of facilitating the working of this Act, and, if he would push forward the Bill to which he had referred, he felt certain that it would have the entire support of the House.


said, he desired complete equality as regarded the condition of labourers in England and Ireland.


asked if the right hon. Gentleman saw any objection to the appointment of Inspectors from Clerks of the Union?


said, he did not think it was desirable to make a regular practice of appointing Inspectors from Clerks of the Union, but of course, in the case of any clerk of the union who had special qualifications for the post of inspector, his position as clerk of the union should not stand in his way. The doctors had the power of requiring the guardians to supply proper food, and although the standard was not very high, yet it was not, he thought, quite as bad as it had been represented to be. He hoped to introduce a Bill to facilitate the amalgamation of the unions which would pave the way to a more satisfactory classification of paupers than that which at present existed. If that Bill, like the Bill dealing with the Labourers' Acts, would meet with a favourable reception from hon. Members opposite, he should be only too pleased to put it to the credit of the Irish Government in the present Session.


said, the right hon. Gentleman must clearly understand, in regard to the pauper lunatics, that it was the fact that the doctors in the various poor-houses in Ireland were frequently called upon to certify cases as violent in order to keep down the number of cases they had treated in the various lunatic wards in connection with the unions.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

4. £3,566, to complete the sum for Public Record Office, Ireland—agreed to.

5. £10,280, to complete the sum for Registrar General's Office, Ireland—agreed to.

6. £6,316, to complete the sum for Valuation and Boundary Survey, Ireland,—


said, that a revaluation of Ireland was a matter that must seriously engage attention soon, and he was informed that it would cost not far short of a million. He believed that the assessment on the income-tax was calculated upon the valuation. If that was so it was a strong additional reason for their being anxious that the valuation should be brought down to the true value of the land, inasmuch as it would appear from the judicial rents which had been revised as 30 or 40 per cent. below Griffiths' valuation. A plan might be devised by which a process of fixing judicial rents should be made to serve as a county revaluation. When there was machinery for revising rents which cost from £80,000 to £100,000 a year, it appeared to be wasteful to have a parallel system of valuation for the purposes of taxation and assessment. Some provision might be ingrafted in the new Land Bill by means of which the revision of judicial rents would serve as a revaluation of Ireland.


said, the suggestion just made was putting the cart before the horse. What was wanted was a valuation by experts who understood the business, and not by Sub-commissioners, who do not secure anything like uniformity. Let there be some standard to go upon; at present there was none.

MR. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)

strongly supported the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Mayo. He was surprised that the hon. and gallant Member should oppose it, seeing that no part of the country suffered more from over-assessment and over-valuation than did North Louth and Down.


I am not objecting to revaluation.


But he wants it put off to Doomsday. ["No, no!"] If they were to wait till a million was voted for a completely new valuation they would have to wait for a long time. The hon. Member for East Mayo had suggested a practical way in which a remedy might be found for a grievance. He believed a serious grievance had been made out, and he hoped the Chief Secretary would be able to meet it in the way suggested by the Member for East Mayo.


supported the proposition that there should be some limited system of valuation. Griffiths' valuation commenced in 1853. Since then the whole social and economic condition of Ireland had changed at least twice. In 1853 the effect of the Repeal of the Corn Laws had not been ascertained. In 1863 Ireland was a pastoral country. Now there were further developments. If the Chief Secretary would allow the Commissioners to take the various machinery at the disposal of valuation officials, they would be able to work out a better and truer system of valuation for this country. Individuals got their property revalued for taxation purposes, and in 99 cases out of every 100 people were overtaxed.


asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland what the valuers were now doing. There was a great deal of evidence given before the Royal Commission on the Financial Relations between England and Ireland of the overvaluation of Ireland, and it was proved that whereas in England and Scotland land was valued as the value of agricultural land had declined, no change had taken place in the valuation of land in Ireland. He should like to know, firstly, what the present valuers were doing—whether they were carrying on the work of Griffiths' valuation, or inaugurating a new valuation; and, secondly, when the Chief Secretary hoped the new valuation would be complete. He himself agreed with the hon. Member for East Mayo, that Ireland suffered in the Income Tax by the present over-valuation. He could not subscribe to the fear that landlords would lose anything by a reduction of the valuation; whilst the more they reduced the taxes the better able would the people be to pay their rents.


observed that, so far as he was able to do so before the Report stage, he would look into some of the questions that had been raised. They were important questions, which he was not ready to answer off- hand. There was no general scheme of valuation now in progress, and whether the first work in connection with such a scheme could be accomplished by the method suggested by the hon. Member for East Mayo was more than he should like to offer an opinion upon at the present stage.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.