HL Deb 07 May 1838 vol 42 cc943-4
The Earl of Wicklow

, on presenting a petition from places in the county of Wicklow, disapproving of the bill before the House for the relief of the poor in Ireland, would take the opportunity to ask the noble Viscount at the head of her Majesty's Government, a question connected with this subject. He had been informed that Mr. Nicholls, the Poor-law Commissioner, had been recently on a visit to Belgium and Holland, by order of her Majesty's Government, in order to ascertain how the regulations with respect to the poor in those countries worked. The report upon this subject being closely connected by analogy with the bill now before their Lordships' House, would be of great value, and he should be glad to hear from the noble Viscount whether any steps had been taken for its production?

Earl Fitzwilliam

would take the occasion to suggest also to the noble Viscount that he and many of their Lordships felt extremely anxious to know the grounds upon which Mr. Nicholls had founded the report which he had last year presented. Mr. Nicholls had given them two reports of his six weeks' tour in the north of Ireland in 1836, and of his six weeks' tour in the south of Ireland in 1837, but he had never stated the grounds upon which he had arrived at the conclusions which he therein submitted to Parliament. It would be desirable, in his opinion, before this most important subject was disposed of, affecting as it did the whole state of society in that large portion of the empire, that their Lordships should know the grounds upon which Mr. Nicholls had, if he might use the expression, thrown overboard all the reports and labours of a most industrious Commission, which was engaged for several years on this subject, and advised Parliament to legislate in a manner directly contrary to that recommended by the latter. He trusted, that his noble Friend would give as satisfactory an answer on this subject as to the question of the noble Earl opposite.

Viscount Melbourne

believed it was true that Mr. Nicholls was now travelling in Belgium and Holland, and he believed also that he was paying close attention to the establishments relating to the poor in those countries. He was not aware, however, that that gentleman had been sent out by the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department; on the contrary, he believed not, and that Mr. Nicholls had not promised any report to Government on the subject. With respect to the observations of his noble Friend on his right, he must confess he did not clearly understand what he wished to have.

Earl Fitzwilliam

wanted to know the grounds on which Mr. Nicholls had arrived at his conclusions.

Petition laid on the table.