Lord John Russell
and others brought up the Poor-law Bill for Ireland.
§ Viscount Melbourne
moved the first reading of the Bill, which was accordingly read a first time, He proposed to take the second reading on Friday, the 11th instant, as by that time he apprehended noble Lords connected with Ireland would be in attendance. He did not wish to press it on too early in its second stage, because it was a subject of so much importance that he wished noble Lords to have ample means of examining its details.
The Marquess of Clanricarde
, after alluding to the proposition of the noble Duke opposite, last Session, on the subject of the Irish Municipal Corporations Bill—for postponing that measure until it was seen what the other measures were which were intended for Ireland—expressed a hope, that their Lordships would agree with him in thinking, that it ought to be seen, at least, what the nature of the Bill was on the subject of tithes in Ireland, which Government was to bring forward, before the Poor-law Bill for Ireland was pressed to a second reading. The landlords of that country had a heavy charge upon them as regarded the tithes. There was a large arrear of them at that moment owing, and he thought it only fair and reasonable towards that class of persons, that they should see what the measure on the subject of tithes was before they were called upon to sanction this Bill now brought up from the other House of Parliament. Under these circumstances, therefore, he was of opinion, that the measure should not be proceeded with beyond its first stage, until the Bill on the subject of tithes had been introduced into the House of Commons. He was well aware, that as a money bill it was not for their Lordships to originate it, nor alter it, but they ought to be informed of its provisions before being called 723 upon to give their sanction to the Bill now before the House.
The Earl of Limerick
said, he had a petition to present from the grand jury of the county of Limerick against the Bill, and he believed it contained the sentiments of almost all, if not the whole, of the grand juries of Irish counties—indeed, he might say all of them. This was a question upon which all parties were united in that country. There was unfortunately enough of religious animosity and political strife prevailing upon many other topics, but upon the introduction of a measure of this sort but one opinion prevailed, and that was deprecating it. It was a measure, he believed, which would cause great mischief and vast ruin, and, in his conscience, he believed it would go more towards promoting the separation of the two countries than anything that had ever taken place.
The Marquess of Londonderry
trusted, that the noble Viscount would fix a later period than that he had named for taking the second reading of the Bill, in order that noble Lords connected with Ireland might have ample means afforded for considering it. There were numerous petitions to present from the northern part of Ireland; he had several in his possession, and others, he had been informed, were in preparation, and he could assure the noble Viscount at the head of her Majesty's Government, that even his strong political adherents in that part of the kingdom were averse to the Bill. For his own part he begged to add, that when it was proposed to be read a second time, he should certainly take the sense of the House upon it.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that the object of the noble Marquess (Clanricarde) would be answered by the Bill proceeding no further than deferring the period for the Committee (after it had been read a second time) until it was seen what the nature of the other measure was to which the noble Marquess had alluded. He must say, he thought the noble Viscount had not given sufficient time between this and the period he had mentioned for the second reading. He would, therefore, suggest, that the second reading should not be moved before the Monday or Tuesday after the day now named by the noble Viscount.
§ Lord Lyndhurst
thought, that his noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham) 724 ought to be present, who had taken so conspicuous a part in the Poor-law Bill for England, and his noble Friend would not have returned from the Continent by the 10th instant.
The Earl of Glengall
remarked, that it had been said by his noble Friend near him (Lord Londonderry) that in the northern part of Ireland the feeling of the country was against the introduction of such a measure, and he (Lord Glengall) could bear his testimony, as far as some portions in the South of Ireland were concerned, that a similar feeling prevailed there; so that it was pretty clear what the provinces of Ulster and Munster thought on the subject.
§ Viscount Melbourne
could have but one wish, which was, that the measure should have the most impartial consideration, and that ample means should be afforded all noble Lords interested in the question to be present, when the principle of it was discussed. He had imagined, when he named the day for the second reading, that he should be told he was delaying and not as now, hastening its progress. If there was also any desire to see what the other measure alluded to by the noble Marquess, who had spoken first in the discussion, was, he would rather it should be on the motion for the second reading than afterwards. But he thought the position of things was different from what was presented last year. The Municipal Corporations Bill was deferred because the other Bill, the basis of the Irish legislative measures—the Irish Poor-law Bill, was not then in the House. But now that the Bill was there, it was sent up as the basis of the whole measures, and it was not a little unreasonable to ask that it should be deferred until the less important measure was produced. He was not surprised to hear, that a difference of opinion existed upon the subject, because the measure was undoubtedly one of very great importance. It had been discussed in the other House of Parliament without any party feeling being mingled up with the consideration of the subject, and he trusted and believed, that their Lordships would give it the same quiet and dispassionate consideration here. After these few remarks he would only add, that as it appeared to be the wish of many noble Lords that the second reading should not take place on the day he had named, he had no objection whatever to defer it.
§ Bill to be read a second time on the 14th of May.