Page 7, line 30, after 'may' insert 'except where the majority of the county councils represented on such joint committee so fail or refuse.'"—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ Amendments agreed to.
Page 7, line 36, at end, add, 'the powers conferred by this section on the Lord Lieutenant, or any of them, may be transferred to the Local Government Board at any time by order of the Lord Lieutenant in Council.'"—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
MR. T. M. HEALY
I move the first portion of this Amendment. I desire to say at this stage of the Bill that some remarks of mine seem to have given offence to some gentlemen connected with the lunatic service in Ireland, whom I had no desire to reflect upon. I was reported to have said that a certain gentleman appointed had never been in a lunatic asylum—had never had any experience in a lunatic asylum in his life before he was appointed. Sir, no doubt the gentleman had not been an official in a lunatic asylum; but I understand he was a gentleman who had some considerable qualifications in other directions, and had some occasion to visit these establishments. And I am further informed that responsibility and the blame for the state of things in the Richmond Lunatic Asylum, which created so much pain and sorrow and humiliation to us in Dublin, was not his. He was not responsible for the state of things, and I think it only fair to mention the matter. I do not desire to make any reflection upon him, and I regret that any remarks that I made appeared to reflect upon him. Now, Sir, with regard to the Amendment I have now drafted, it seems to me not unreasonable that the Government should accept it. While I retain the feelings I 582 had in Committee with regard to leaving these affairs in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, I think that it would be only fair that the Government should have some power to apply the clause of the Bill. My clause only authorises the Lord Lieutenant, if he thinks fit, to transfer these powers to the Local Government Board. Unless we do that the result would be that you would want an Act of Parliament every time the Lord Lieutenant desires to make any transference. As it is probable that another seventy years will elapse before there is an Amendment to this Bill, I think it is desirable to make some provision with a view of transferring these powers to the Local Government Board.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
explained that there were objections to the transference of powers by the Lord Lieutenant in the manner proposed, and expressed the hope that under the circumstances the Amendment would not be pressed.
§ Amendment negatived.
Another Amendment proposed—
Page 7, line 36, at end, add—
(9) Where dangerous lunatics are committed to an asylum in a district to which, in the opinion of the committee, they are not properly chargeable, the committee may apply to the Local Government Board in the prescribed manner for power to transfer them to some other asylum, and the Local Government Board, after due inquiry, may make or refuse a transfer order accordingly, which order shall be binding on all bodies and persons therein named. Rules shall be made by the Local Government Board to give effect to this section, and to regulate the mode and allocate the expense of any transfer, and to provide for repayments by one asylum committee to another."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
MR. T. M. HEALY
This is a matter on which I think we are entitled to some consideration. The Government seem to have an open mind on the subject. The right honourable Gentleman stated that he really did not know what exact words to take, and he said he would rather leave it to the Irish Members to lay some further pressure upon him. The law as it stands acts very injuriously indeed to the City of Dublin Corporation. The Dublin-Corporation got an opinion from the ex-Lord Chancellor Walker as to what their powers were, and he advised that there was no power to make a transfer 583 of this nature. I think it very hard that where you have a metropolis like Dublin to which a number of people gravitate, and in which some of them become insane, the citizens of that metropolis should have to board and lodge all the insane people who happen, to wander to the city and go mad there. It seems to me there should be some power of transferring them to their own localities, so that the city of Dublin might not have to bear the cost of the lunacy of any people who happen to wander to the city. There is another argument. Sometimes soldiers go mad. Sometimes even policemen go mad; I think that is not unknown. When these men go up to the metropolis of Dublin, the result is that they are all sent to the Dublin District Lunatic Asylum, and the city of Dublin is thereby compelled to put up and lodge and entertain a number of unhappy people who should fairly become a charge upon their own localities. The same in a lesser degree is true of the city of Cork, the city of Waterford, the city of Limerick, and a number of other centres of large population. I think the Government ought fairly to allocate and redistribute these charges. This addition to the clause does not do anything oppressive. It simply provides that these pauper lunatics who happen to be in the metropolis for the time being may be removed to their own localities; and I would like to press this on the House from the point of view of humanity as well as the point of view of expense. Sir, an unhappy man or an unhappy woman becomes insane in a city, one hundred or two hundred miles distant from friends or relatives. Nothing is more calculated to assuage the position of the unhappy insane than a visit from his or her friends. Those friends now are put to the trouble and expense of coming to these centres of population in order to visit the unhappy people in these asylums. There is no power to deport them to their own localities, and thus they are a charge upon the metropolis and also a charge on the hapless people of the west or south of Ireland who have friends who become insane in the capital. It does appear to me, both on the grounds of humanity and fair treatment, that these poor people should have the opportunity they so desire to be removed to 584 their own districts. At the present time, as I understand the law, if you get a committal order against a lunatic and he is put in charge of one of the large centres, there are no means whatever to remove him, and he remains there until he dies or until he gets well. The percentage of cures in these Irish lunatic asylums is extremely small—although I was not correctly reported in the newspapers in saying that there were no cures, a remark which also appears to have given great offence. What I said was that the percentage of cures was small, and it is small. I do think on both of the grounds I have stated that the Government might give the permissible powers I have suggested.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I think the honourable and learned Member will see that the result of this Amendment will be to alter the law of settlement in regard to lunatics in Ireland. If you are to depart from the existing simple principle, which, no doubt, may occasionally work hardly, but in the main works well, where are you going to start? If the lunatic is not to be sent to the asylum of the area within which the committal order is made, what asylum is he to go to? Is it to be at the whim of the Local Government Board to say whether they shall commit him to the place where he resided immediately before he became a lunatic, or where he was born, or where he resided for six months before he left to go to the place in which he was in immediately before he became a lunatic? It is impossible to pass an Amendment of this kind without some guiding principle.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
Really, I do not think it would pass the right honourable Gentleman's ingenuity to devise an Amendment which should be satisfactory. Is there any sense in the right honourable Gentleman's attitude of non possumus, on the ground that the Amendment of my honourable and learned Friend has not met every possible case that might arise? The right honourable Gentleman observes that the Amendment does not say to what lunatic asylum the person should be sent? What does the right honourable Gentleman think could be done? Is his mind a complete blank on the subject? Does he not know very well that if he gives power to the Local Govern- 585 ment Board to make rules upon the subject, they will soon remove these lunatics to their proper places? or, if he has an objection to leave such wide powers to the Local Government Board, why could he not say that the asylum should be that of the area within which the patient had resided for a certain time? I really think the criticism which the right honourable Gentleman has made is a very weak one, because the Amendment, as proposed, attempts to remove a very great grievance. I have been looking over the accounts of the Dublin grand juries, and I have been amazed to find the amount of money spent on lunatic asylums in the county of Dublin; and I have come to the conclusion that it cannot possibly be the state of lunacy in the county and city of Dublin that accounts for this. It must be that the country round—from north, south, east, and west—supplies the explanation. That is really too bad. Let this Amendment be carried. Let the right honourable Gentleman put into it any Amendment he likes, giving power to the Local Government Board to make rules on the subject; prescribe, if he likes, a period of residence in another part of the country as a condition to send a lunatic to an asylum in that district. I ask him to do something in this way to prevent a very heavy injustice on the ratepayers of the city and county of Dublin.
§ MR. JORDAN (Fermanagh, S.)
We have occupied some little time lately in trying to reform the Scotch law of settlement in relation to sending Irish paupers, who have spent the best of their days in Scotland making the merchants there wealthy, back to Ireland. Here we have Irishmen adopting a very similar principle, on a much smaller scale, in relation to Dublin. Generally, people have made some money down in the country, and have come up to these aristocratic suburbs and paid large rents and enriched the city, and, having spent their money, they become a little insane. Then send them home to their place, as the Scotch people send paupers home from Scotland to Ireland. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and I say that Dublin ought to be provided for in the same way.
§ SIR J. HASLETT (Belfast, N.)
I take a very opposite view to that of the 586 honourable Member. Let me give one or two instances. A case occurred within the last fortnight. A woman came to my town on Monday night apparently sufficiently well to be liberated, and on Tuesday morning she was found to be insane again; she was admitted to the asylum, and became chargeable to the parish. I have no hesitation in saying that that was an injustice, to the parish, and, whether rightly or wrongly, in filling up the paper I located her at the district she came from. I give you another illustration. A woman was sent to Belfast from White Abbey, one of the districts immediately outside the city. She was only a week in the asylum, became comparatively well, and, apparently, was all right. She had no relations living, except an aunt.
§ SIR J. HASLETT
No, Sir; we generally consider that a safety-valve for lunacy. She apparently had recovered within a week. She was taken to an aunt in Belfast to lodge for a night, and next morning was again insane. I give these two illustrations. I agree as to the difficulty of drawing a line; but, unquestionably, large centres that attract large populations from the rural and outlying districts do suffer severely and, I believe, unjustly, in this respect; and if the Attorney General could by any means see a line that might be taken to give relief on the lines of the Amendment proposed I think it would be a very desirable thing for us to have in connection with Ireland.
§ MR. PINKERTON
I could understand any respectable woman, if she happened to be in Belfast lately, being considerably exercised in her mind as to what was right or what was wrong; and, although in the country she recovered the proper use of her senses, becoming strange in her manner again when she got out into the streets of Belfast. I counsel all friends of mine to avoid Belfast, especially during the time which my honourable Friend the Member for Northampton has called the "rutting season."
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Another Amendment proposed—
At the end of the clause, to add—
That a contract for the supply of goods to, or doing any work for, a lunatic asylum shall not be, or be deemed to have been, a contract for the public service."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
MR. T. M. HEALY
Before we leave the clause I was going to call attention to the fact that under this clause many members of these lunatic asylums boards contract—
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The honourable Gentleman will not be in order unless he has given notice of an Amendment.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I have, Sir, handed in an Amendment at the Table, but I did not expect this part of the Bill to be reached so soon. I was going to suggest to the Government that if they cannot accept an Amendment, nor deal with the question of contracts, they should make it impossible for any governor of an asylum to contract for supplies to the lunatics. I handed in an Amendment in that sense at the Table, but if it cannot be incorporated now, perhaps the Government will see fit to do something in the matter in the House of Lords. The Government have decided, I understand—the Lords Justices have decided—that a contract for a lunatic asylum is a contract for the public service. That appears to me to be an extraordinary proceeding, because the lunatic asylums are provided out of the rates, but since 1874, since Sir Stafford Northcote's Budget, we get, I think it is, 4s. per lunatic as a contribution from the Treasury, and upon that contribution of 4s. it has been decided that a contract with these lunatic asylum boards is a contract for the public service, making it impossible for any man in the locality who happens to be a Member of Parliament to contract with these bodies, except under a penalty of £500 a day; so that you could not supply a ton of coal to a lunatic asylum if you happened to be a coal merchant, or a load of hay if a hay dealer, to these boards if you happen to be a Member of 588 Parliament. If the law has come to this conclusion, I think it is a very remarkable conclusion to have been reached—namely, that a Member of Parliament is disqualified from a seat in this House, and liable to a £500 penalty each day, if he sends in a load of hay to* a lunatic asylums board, although it is a board provided for out of the rates, because of the 4s. grant from the Treasury. At the end of the words of this clause I propose to add these words—That a contract for the supply of goods to, or doing any work for, a lunatic asylum, shall not be, or be deemed to have been, a contract for the public service.I hope the Government may see their way, if not now to accept these words, at any rate between now and the subsequent stages in the House of Lords, to accept some proposal of the kind. I admit the words should have been in the Paper, but I did not think the matter would have been reached so soon. I shall be quite content if the Government will say they will consider the matter between now and the later stage.
§ MR. ATKINSON
I entirely sympathise with the honourable and learned Member. I think the position at present is not desirable. I very much doubt whether any court would hereafter decide that these lunatic asylums were under the control of the Crown, or that a contract made with them was a contract to supply for the public service. I will consider the matter carefully, and if we think it necessary to introduce any words in order to enable a Member of Parliament to contract without the penalty which the honourable Gentleman has stated it shall be done.
MR. T. M. HEALY
For the purpose of getting on with the Bill I will allow the Amendment to be negatived, thanking the right honourable Gentleman.
§ Amendment negatived.
Another Amendment proposed—
Page 8, line 2, at end, insert 'and in particular with the modification that the advertisements mentioned in sub-section 2 of the said section may be published in any month, and that the notice mentioned in the said sub-section shall be served in the next succeeding month."—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ Amendment agreed to.589
Another Amendment proposed—
Page 8, line 10, at end, add—
(3) Where a county council desire for the purpose of the work of widening an old road, or making a new road, to acquire otherwise than by agreement any land other than demesne land or pleasure ground or than land situate in a borough or town, they may, if they think fit, notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this section, proceed as follows, namely—(a) Publish such advertisement and serve such notice on the owner or reputed owner, lessee or reputed lessee, and occupier of the land as may be prescribed by the Local Government Board, and within the prescribed time petition the judge of assize for an order authorising the council to put into force with reference to such land the powers of the Land Clauses Acts with respect to the purchase and taking of land otherwise than by agreement; (b) the judge of assize, on due proof of the prescribed advertisements having been published and prescribed notices served, shall, unless there is an application as hereinafter mentioned, make an order in accordance with the prayer of the petition; (c) any person interested in the said land on whom the said notice is required as aforesaid to be served and who objects to the land being acquired by the county council, and any owner or reputed owner, lessee or reputed lessee, or occupier of any land who alleges that such land will be injuriously affected by the said work, and also any ratepayer in the county, may, within such time after the publication of the said notices as is fixed by rules of court, apply to the judge of assize to refuse the order upon the said petition, and the judge shall hear such application, and determine all questions of law and fact arising thereon, and in particular the question whether the said work is of public utility and of such importance to the public as to justify the compulsory acquisition of the land; (d) any decision by the judge upon the hearing of such application, whether making or refusing the order, shall be subject to appeal by any party to the proceedings before the judge of assize to the Lord Lieutenant in Council within the time fixed by rules of court, and the appeal shall be heard by a committee of the Privy Council consisting of such members thereof as are or have been judges of the Supreme Court, who shall advise the Lord Lieutenant thereon; provided that, with the consent of the parties, the judge of assize may state a case for the opinion of the Court of Appeal on any question of law, and in such case no appeal shall lie to the Lord Lieutenant in Council; (e) the judge of assize and Lord Lieutenant in Council and the Court of Appeal may respectively award such costs to be paid by or to parties to any proceedings under this section as appear just; (f) rules of court regulating the practice and procedure and costs respecting the petitions to and proceedings before the judge of assize under this section, and appeals from such judge to the Lord Lieutenant in Council, and cases stated, may be made by the authority having power to make rules of court for the Supreme Court; (g) an order under this section granting in
whole or in part the prayer of the petition, whether made by the judge of assize or by the Lord Lieutenant in Council upon appeal from that judge, shall have effect as if it were a provisional order under section 203 of the Public Health Act, 1878, duly confirmed, and upon any land being taken under the order, the compensation for the same to be paid by the county council shall, in the absence of agreement, be determined by an arbitrator appointed by the Local Government Board, or, if the parties so agree, be determined by a judge of assize, either with or without a jury, according to the agreement; (h) the foregoing provisions with respect to the acquisition of any land for the purpose of widening an old road or making a new road shall apply to the acquisition of any easement or right over land in like manner as if it were land."—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
This is a long Amendment on the Paper. It provides an alternative course in the case of widening roads or making new roads. A petition may be laid before the judge of assize, and there is an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It has been very carefully thought out, and, I believe, it is satisfactory.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Page 8, line 11, leave out from 'shall' to 'arrange' in line 12.
Page 8, line 13, after 'work' insert 'maintained in whole or in part at the cost of the county or any rural district.'"—(Mr. Gerald Balfour.)
§ Amendments agreed to.
Page 8, leave out clause 12.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
Between the early stage of the Bill and the present stage I asked if the Government would reconsider their resolution with regard to this clause 12. This clause has really no relation to the rest of the Bill. It is a foreign body introduced into the Bill; and as far as most Irish Members, at all events those who represent western districts, are concerned it is a most irritating foreign body. Now, the Chief Secretary has placed on the Paper, since the discussion in Committee, an Amendment which I presume he considers to 591 be a concession. The Amendment is this—Page 9, line 2, after 'large,' insert 'so, however, that the total amount of such expenditure levied off the county at large in anyone year shall not exceed a sum equal to 5d. in the £ on the rateable value of the county.'I think the Amendment makes the clause much worse than it was before, because, as the clause stood in its original shape, the amount which the Government intended to compel these poor western counties to levy before any assistance came to them from the central Government in years of exceptional distress was left an unknown quantity, and we were led in the course of the Debate to suppose that it would be a very small sum. But now we have in this Amendment an intimation of what the ideas of the Government are in this regard. In a year of exceptional distress, this Amendment clearly shows that it is the intention of the Government not to come to the relief of the western districts until at least a 5d. rate is levied on the county. Now, I have calculated what that 5d. rate would be. On the county of Mayo it would amount to £6,622, on the county of Galway £9,955, on the county of Kerry £6,130, and on the county of Cork £26,000. Now, these are the four counties portions of which are suffering from distress in the present year, and in them the Government have been compelled to start relief works, though on a very sparing and parsimonious scale. So on these four counties it is contemplated under this clause that a sum of £48,700 is to be levied by a 5d. rate before the Government will feel itself called upon to take any special measure of relief. Of course, I admit that is putting it rather high, because it is assuming that the entire rate was levied on the county of Cork; but I may assume that at least £30,000 is to be levied on the four counties before the Government undertakes measures of relief. Now, Sir, in the present year I believe the Government relief works have, up to this date, not cost more than about £30,000. I do not accept the figures, but the Chief Secretary mentioned a sum of £25,000. Of course, that would be utterly insufficient. Well, assume that in the present year, in face of the great distress which has prevailed, a sum of £30,000 has been, or will 592 be, expended for the relief of these western districts. Had this clause been in operation in the present year, not one shilling would have been provided by the Treasury up to this date to these distressed districts, but the whole burden would have been thrown on the distressed counties through the medium of a rate. Now, Sir, it is a matter of notoriety—I do not imagine that the Chief Secretary will attempt to contradict it—that in all cases where there is a failure of the crop in the west of Ireland, producing distress and famine, that failure is not confined to the actual districts which are absolutely famine-stricken, but extends over neighbouring counties freely, and throughout the counties in which the distressed districts are situated. So that the condition of things you have in the west of Ireland is this: you have got, first of all, the districts where it is necessary to institute relief, and in the counties where those districts are situated you have a condition of great and exceptional poverty, although it may not be sufficiently intensified to demand special measures of relief, and the proposal you make by this clause is that the first grant for every famine in the west of Ireland is to be thrown by a rate on the county in which all this distress prevails. A more grotesque proposal was never heard of in this House than to compel the very poorest districts and counties to give relief. That is the meaning of this clause, if it has any meaning at all, and in it we have got a measure of the intentions of the Government. I oppose this clause, because it is utterly foreign to the Bill, because it introduces in the Bill—a Bill of concessions to popular demand in Ireland—a proposal which has nothing to do with the general scope of the Bill, and which inflicts a burden on the very poorest and most distressed districts of the country. This question of the condition of the famine-stricken districts of the west of Ireland has been over and over again brought under the attention of this House. I appeal to honourable Members whether it is not a fact that when every two or three years, under more prosperous seasons and happier conditions, famine ceases to ravage these unfortunate districts, and there is a period of comparative ease—I will not say prosperity—they are "out of sight, out 593 of mind." Men begin to forget, and the pressing character of the problem passes away until, with bad years, it comes again. I say it is the one chance which really exists for forcing this House to do its duty towards these famine-stricken districts by applying some permanent and really effective remedy to their unfortunate condition, that when a year of distress conies their voice should be forced upon the attention of the House, and the House should be called upon to make some grant and provide some remedy for this exceptional distress. I say the whole principle of this clause is vicious. Its object is to put this distress out of sight, and keep it out of mind, to throw the expense on the counties of Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, so that unless, in the event of some overwhelming distress, some exceptional distress like that of 1879 or of 1845, the cry of famine will not reach the ears of this House, but under this system of a rate in aid the unfortunate people will have to be fed by the ratepayers of the counties themselves. I say that therefore this is an unjust proposal, a grossly unjust proposal, and it is a proposal having for its object to relieve the House of the annoyance of having these periodical famines brought to its attention. It is a proposal, therefore, which is likely, if carried into effect, to have the result of postponing for a long, and perhaps indefinite, period any serious attempt to grapple with this problem. Sir, if the Government really desired, or thought it right that this distress in the west of Ireland should be, to any extent, dealt with by a rate in aid, surely that rate ought to be extended to the north of Ireland. I do not advocate such a proposal. As I said before in the Committee, it was tried in the form of a sixpenny rate, I think in the year 1852, and it was abandoned because the rate was unpopular. A sum of £452,000 was raised over the whole of Ireland in successive years, and was devoted to the assistance of the poorer districts. If you are to adopt that system, which certainly I do not advocate, would it not be 594 infinitely more just to throw it on the whole of Ireland, by a great national rate in aid, than on the very poorest districts of the country? I do hope that the Government will abandon this proposal. I would suggest that if the Chief Secretary is in love with this idea, why should he not adopt this alternative course: why not take this clause out of the Bill, with which it has nothing whatever to do, and bring it in, if he likes, in a Measure which I trust the Government may see fit to introduce next Session, having for its object the application of some comprehensive and effective remedy? If the Government were to come forward next Session and say, "Here is a Bill setting up machinery by which we hope to stop the famine in the west of Ireland, but we insist upon accompanying the Bill by a provision which will secure the Treasury in the future against these periodical and constantly recurring demands for relief of districts in the west of Ireland," I, for my own part, would be prepared to give such a proposal favourable consideration, and I do not think it would be an unreasonable proposal if it were part of a Bill which would give us a reasonable hope of putting an end, or beginning the work of putting an end, to these famines. But when it is introduced in a Bill like this, which has no provision whatever of that kind—not the smallest proposal directed towards mitigating or removing this miserable condition of things in the west of Ireland—I say it is most unreasonable and most unfair that this proposal should be introduced in such a Bill, and I appeal to the right honourable Gentleman, at least if he is ardently attached to the idea, to postpone the introduction of it until it forms part of a comprehensive scheme for dealing with the distressed districts.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The policy of this clause was discussed at very great length when the Bill was passing through Committee, and I venture to say that the honourable Member for East Mayo has not added any single argument of any 595 kind to those which were repeatedly used from that side of the House on that occasion. Sir, the reason why the Government have introduced this clause is two-fold. In the first place, it is extremely desirable that machinery should be available for making possible those relaxations of the poor law which we have had during the last 50 years to effect by Act of Parliament. I have proposed in this clause machinery for that purpose. The second ground is this: experience shows that it is absolutely necessary in dealing with these periods of distress to increase the local responsibility. I have adopted that policy with boards of guardians; it is the method which we have employed in the present year, and I may say with most beneficial results. By this clause we propose to extend that responsibility to the county also. The honourable Member says, "Why not extend it to the whole of Ireland?" That is an attack upon the whole system of the poor law. No doubt it may be an unfortunate thing that the poor law necessarily throws the burden of the support of destitute persons very often largely upon poor areas, but you have to confine this responsibility, to some extent at all events, to the locality; it is in the locality only that the true character of the distress can be properly understood. If you choose to give up the principle of local responsibility, and throw the charge for poor relief on the country at large, I venture to say that is not a principle which will commend itself to this House. On the contrary, I believe the tendency is rather to increase local responsibility than to diminish it. Well, Sir, the honourable Member said that the Amendment I have put on the Paper, to meet several objections taken, makes the clause worse than before, and he asks if the amount of the rate which we have assigned as the limit of the liability of the county is to be taken as the measure of what must be provided by the locality before any grant from the Imperial Exchequer is made. Sir, that is not the true interpretation of this 596 Amendment. I put down the Amendment because, when the clause was under discussion in Committee, the honourable Member for East Mayo complained that the county council, if it acted upon the power given it by this clause, would be rushing blindfold into an expenditure the total amount of which it could not calculate. I therefore offered to put down the Amendment on the Paper, so as to let the county council know the maximum of what they might be called upon to expend. But I did not mean that as the expenditure that the county council should incur before the Treasury intervened. The probability is that if the distress was really serious the Treasury would be ready to come to the assistance of the distressed locality early, and the amount which the county council would have to pay would only be one-half the extra expenditure, under the clause, of the guardians, after the amount of Imperial expenditure had been deducted. I protested, when the clause was still under discussion, that it was by no means the intention of the Government to secure the Treasury against the claims now made upon it. I do think the incidental effect will be to diminish the period of expenditure during distress. Why is that? Because it has almost invariably exceeded the requirements of the case; because every locality has deemed it its duty, or at all events its advantage, to exaggerate the distress, in order to get a large share of the grant. That, in my opinion, is a public evil of very great magnitude. In order to further check it we propose this clause, and for these reasons I move it here.
§ MR. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)
The right honourable Gentleman has given as the chief reason for maintaining this clause the argument that by means of the clause he increases local responsibility for the relief of distress. Well, that would be all right if the Bill also conferred some power upon the local authorities to deal with what we contend is the cause of these recurring famines in the west of 597 Ireland; but he denies all power of applying a permanent remedy; he insists upon saddling upon the afflicted districts what will amount practically to the entire responsibility of dealing with these recurring periods of starvation. I submit that the real object of the clause is to shift Imperial responsibility for a condition of things occurring periodically for which this House ought to be answerable. I think the right honourable Gentleman has admitted more than once that if people who suffer from this distress in the so-called congested districts had more land upon which to employ their labour, had more opportunities of employment, this House would have to vote no more money for these purposes, and we should stop, as we wish to do in Ireland, begging from our friends all the world over. I do wish, therefore, that the right honourable Gentleman will listen to the appeal made to him more than once from these benches during this Session, and try, in the very next Session of Parliament, to bring forward some remedy to put an end, once and for all, to these periodical famines. But if at the present time he persists in his attitude we will go to a Division.
§ MR. DALY (Monaghan, S.)
The right honourable Gentleman has said that my honourable Friend the Member for East Mayo has produced no argument in addition to those he used in the Committee in reference to this clause 12. Well, Sir, it is impossible to do so. Unfortunately, the old argument stands, and the old argument stands accentuated and emphasised at the present moment in these very distressed districts. Her Majesty's Government has been practically deaf to the appeal, and in this case it is the charitable public in Great Britain and in America who have come to their help and their aid. I contend that the main argument brought from these benches against this clause has never yet been answered—namely, that by the 598 clause you impose upon the very poor districts in the country the responsibility and the expense of dealing with the poverty of these poor districts. I should be sorry, Mr. Speaker, to have recourse to a national Vote in aid for these unfortunate people, stricken with famine, in the south and west of Ireland, but as a self-respecting Irishman, and one representing a constituency poor enough, but still not so utterly poverty-stricken, I should much prefer to see a national Vote in aid, to see the burden of these districts thrown upon all the counties of Ireland, rather than the sending, round of the hat in Cork and Kerry and in Dublin for the relief of the west of Ireland that has taken place within the last six months, I remember that during the Committee stage of the Bill an analogy was sought to be made with regard to the equalisation of rates in London. Sir, we then pointed out that the principle adopted in London by which the rich parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, and the other rich parishes in the West-end, contributed their quota to the poor parishes of the east and south of London was a very fair, I will say humane, one, and I should have no objection to seeing a proposal of that kind adopted, and this rate-in-aid thrown upon all the counties of Ireland. Of course, the Amendment of the right honourable Gentleman goes in the direction of limiting the rate to the extent that it is not to exceed 5d. in the £; but in districts where rates are already crushingly heavy, where they run up to 8s. or 9s. in the £, an additional rate of 5d. in the £ is the last straw to the ratepayers, who are nearly as poor as are the unfortunate people suffering distress.
§ MR. DALY
There is a strong ground against the clause itself, which we 599 condemned at the time it was produced, which was condemned by public opinion, and by popular newspapers in Ireland. Surely, if you deny the people the right of dealing with the causes of this poverty, and insist on governing the country by forcing upon it a land system which we contend has led to this poverty, then you should take the responsibility yourselves. Do one thing or the other. We proposed that this rate should be put on all the counties of Ireland If you will not do that, let the responsibility remain where it does, with the Treasury. I have had experience since this Bill was in Committee of the condition of distress in the west and south-west of Kerry. As a member of the Cork committee who raised funds for the relief of these unfortunate people, I can assure the House that the distress was in no way exaggerated, and I do not think it was quite in keeping with the responsibility of the position which the right honourable Gentleman holds that he should so often have sought, in this House and elsewhere, to minimise the existence of distress which was only too evident, too painfully evident. Why, Sir, the evidence we had at the last meeting of the Cork committee, coming from four or five districts in Kerry, was that the people absolutely were living on Indian meal mixed with water. The effect of this clause would be that that distress would, first of all, after having been certified by the guardians of the various unions, fall on the county of Kerry, one of the most heavily rated counties in the United Kingdom. If that is so, I contend that it would be a most iniquitous proposal. We spent a long time in discussing very much less important points in Committee. We are dealing with the very poorest of the populations in Ireland. I believe the rates in Kerry all round run up to 9s. in the £.
§ It being midnight, the Debate stood adjourned.