HL Deb 04 March 1847 vol 90 cc826-7

moved that the House go into Committee on the Labouring Poor (Ireland) Bill. To meet an objection which had been stated on a previous evening, he intimated his intention to introduce words to the effect that regard should be had to voluntary agreements between landlord and tenant as far as possible.


thought the language of the second clause, giving indemnity, required reconsideration, as the terms employed were very general. If an officer of a relief committee absconded with its funds, would not the clause of indemnity, as now expressed, shield him from the consequences?


stated that the Bill gave indemnity to parties who had acted under any presentment in regard to any proceedings for "giving effect to such presentment."


repeated the objections which he had formerly urged on a previous night to the wide nature of the second or indemnity clause of the Bill. He thought it ought to be reconsidered, for the loose words in which it now stood would cause very illegal proceedings under the Labour Act of last Session; whereas the object of the present Bill, as he understood it, was to indemnify the Irish Government, and those parties who had gone beyond that Act, in issuing and acting under Mr. Laboucbere's letter.


could not agree with the noble and learned Lord that the words of the Act were loose, though large they certainly were. It was intended that they should be so, for it so happened last year that many relief committees, acting with the very best intentions, had still fallen into error, and had overstepped the limits of the law, probably in anticipation of some such measure as the present. The Bill before their Lordships was intended, therefore, not merely to extend indemnity to proceedings under Mr. Labouchere's letter, but to the proceedings of several relief committees.


was satisfied with the explanation of the noble Marquess, which had got rid of the greater part of his objection, but suggested that it would be advisable to give a power of indemnity to the Lord Lieutenant, or to some other person, to be exercised at his discretion in such cases.


said, he wished that the noble and learned Lord had a large estate in Ireland himself, and then he would see what a necessity there was in cases such as had recently arisen of acting in anticipation of the law. He was himself liable for going beyond the Act, if he were not shielded by an indemnity. In many cases the distress was so great that people, particularly those who had large estates, and many persons dependent on them, were obliged to go before the law. That had happened in his own parish last autumn. 400 or 500 people were without work; the priest came to him, and stated that if there were not employment provided for them, a disturbance would, in all probability, arise in forty-eight hours. The officer in charge boldly said to him (the Earl of Devon) "We have no authority to act, but I will set the people to work with your concurrence, if you undertake to pay them." He did so, and most probably saved the parish from an outbreak, and, for doing so, he required to be indemnified by the Act.


remarked that the clause would certainly indemnify every proceeding under the Act. As to his having a large estate in Ireland, as the noble Lord had kindly wished him, he (Lord Brougham) could only say he would rather—if it were the same to the noble Lord—have a small estate in England.

House in Committee, and went through the Bill with Amendments.

House adjourned.