HL Deb 27 February 1846 vol 84 cc220-3

The Order of the Day for going into Committee on this Bill having been read,


said, that he had often stated his strong approval of the conduct of the Government in bringing these Bills forward, which he considered of great importance to the country, and therefore he should not be suspected of any desire to throw any difficulty in the way of their eventual success. At the same time he did not wish that the Government or the Irish people should deceive themselves by thinking that these measures would produce the advantages which were expected from their operation, unless there were increased facilities given for carrying them into effect. The Government relied on the assistance of the Board of Works, which was originally composed of three persons appointed for the performance of certain duties, which had been since greatly increased by the consolidation of other public bodies with the Board. The last two or three years had added greatly to their labours; and their Lordships would hardly believe that with the increase of duties which had fallen upon the Board, the strength of the establishment had not been increased beyond the addition of two or three persons. He warned the Government, therefore, that they would strangely deceive themselves in carrying the present measures into operation, unless they increased the strength of the Board of Public Works. It would be necessary to keep a very strict watch over the expenditure of the money; the accounts must be carefully audited, and every possible check given to malversation. All this could not be done by an overtasked Board. If it were not done, moral evil would be produced, where physical good was intended. He had taken the liberty of calling the attention of the noble Earl (the Earl of St. Germans) to the subject, though it was rather hard upon him; but the Irish Government was at present in such a peculiar state that there was no opportunity of asking any question about Ireland in either House of Parliament. He repeated, that it would be utterly impossible for their Lordships to expect any good whatever from the Bill, unless they strengthened the machinery for carrying it into effect. He entreated, therefore, the noble Earl, as the organ of the Government in that House, to take immediate means for promoting this object, or all hope of relieving the distress of the people of Ireland would fail.


agreed entirely with the views of his noble Friend who had last spoken, and was anxious to bear his testimony to their accuracy. It would be well also if the people of Ireland were reminded that nothing could be done by passing Acts of Parliament, unless they were seconded by individual efforts. There was no doubt that a great portion of the soil of Ireland might be made infinitely more productive than it was at present, if greater efforts were made to improve its cultivation.


did not mean to dispute the assertion made by the noble Lord (Lord Monteagle) that the establishment of the Board of Works had not been increased in proportion to the increase of labour cast upon it; and he was therefore prepared to say that Her Majesty's Government would consider the subject, with a view to an efficient and permanent augmentation of that establishment. In the meantime it was proposed to add to the strength of the Board of Works a number of military engineers, not as a Government arrangement, but with a view to meet the existing emergency.


took occasion to remark that the machinery of the Bill was totally inadequate to protect the interests of remainder-men, infants, and mortgagees; and he submitted to the noble Earl (Earl of St. Germans) that it would be advisable to introduce a provision similar to that which was inserted last week in the Public Works Bill, rendering the consent of the Court of Chancery necessary when the interests of such parties were affected.


was unwilling to clog the Bill with such a provision, as he thought the danger to remaindermen and incumbrancers more apparent than real.


was sure that the noble Earl would, upon consideration, see that there was really no difference between this Bill and the Public Works Bill, so far as the matter in question was concerned; but if the noble Earl declined to act upon the suggestion which he had made, he should certainly take the sense of the House upon it.


would be very sorry to see any difficulty thrown in the way of carrying this measure into effect, which he thought would be the case if the Amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord should be adopted by their Lordships. He thought there was some distinction between the Public Works Bill and the present measure, because it was perfectly impossible that any work done under the Drainage Bill should not be for the benefit of all parties, whether they had a present or future right to the possession of the land. He feared greatly that any introduction of such a clause as that contended for by the noble and learned Lord would tend to defeat the Bill altogether.


must say, that he felt much indebted to his noble and learned Friend for the attention which he had paid to this clause, because he was fully convinced that unless his noble and learned Friend's suggestion was attended to, this Bill would be of no use to Ireland. He knew that the noble Earl was anxious that these Bills should be framed in the best manner, and that his private reasons for opposing the introduction of the clause were no doubt excellent; but he was rather surprised at the advice which he must have received outside of the House. If it were certain that every operation under this Bill would be successful, it would, no doubt, do good to all parties interested; but the noble Earl could hardly be so sanguine as to suppose that, in every place where money was laid out to a large amount, it would repay the outlay. There would, no doubt, be occasionally some indiscretion in the way in which the operations under the Bill were conducted; and supposing that the Board of Works were ever so active and intelligent, there might, notwithstanding, be most serious injury to the interests of the remainder-man or mortgagee. Let them look at the situation in which a mortgagee would be placed under such a state of circumstances. A large sum of money might he raised for drainage, and this was placed as a charge on the land prior to the claim of the mortgagee. In England there existed methods by which the interests of absent parties might be protected; and he did not see why the same machinery might not be introduced into Ireland: the object of both Bills was the same, and he thought the machinery ought to he the same.


said, there were very important differences between the two Bills, as in one case the consent of a considerable number of proprietors was required; and he was of opinion that an application to the Court of Chancery in all cases would cause a great interference with the efficiency of the Bill; besides, it should be recollected that the charge was not to be on the whole estate, but the part drained, or within a certain distance of the part to be drained.


did not object to the part of the Bill which referred to the drainage; but what he required was, that the interests of all those concerned in the land should be provided for.


said, he would recommend the noble Earl to take into consideration the suggestion of his noble and learned Friend before the third reading.


said, he had no objection to a further consideration of the suggestion, and he would therefore not proceed with the Bill on that occasion.

Further consideration of the Bill postponed.

House adjourned.