§ House again in Committee.
§ On Clause 20 being read,
asked whether the Government would object to give power to the Poor Law Commissioners to alter the boundaries of electoral divisions as well as of unions?
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
doubted whether Clause 18 of the 1st & 2nd of Victoria did not give sufficient power to alter electoral divisions; and he doubted the expediency of the re-enactment of that clause in another shape, or giving fresh powers.
called the attention of the House to the original Settlement Act of the 13th & 14th of Charles II., to show how much the present state of Ireland resembled the state of England at that time, and the mischief then experienced from the great extent of parishes.
The EARL of WICKLOW
then moved as an Amendment, to insert the words—That it shall be lawful for the said Commissioners, when they shall see fit, to form into separate electoral divisions towns with a population of 3,000 and upwards.One of the greatest of injustices would be to throw upon the towns the burden of the surrounding districts. He did not insist upon the exercise of the power; he only gave it.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
had a prior Amendment, to introduce words showing for what purposes alone the electoral districts should be altered.
objected to any words which would appear to limit the Act, as a preamble often did, mischievously.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
was of opinion that the Amendment would have no effect at all; but that, if it did, it would be restrictive of the power which the Commissioners already possessed; and he certainly was opposed to any such restriction.
did not believe that the Commissioners would exercise their power in the mode proposed by the noble Earl (the Earl of Wicklow). Why should the support of the poor fall upon the electoral division, and not upon the union at large? Nay, why not upon the whole kingdom? This was a most important question, and it was one which made him think that their Lordships would have acted most unwisely if they had made the Bill permanent.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
said, the clause, as it stood, left to the 557 Commissioners the power which they already possessed, of altering the size of the electoral unions as they should think fit; Tout the Amendment pointed out to them certain cases in which that power ought to be exercised. If the Legislature, after having given a discretion to the Commissioners to act as they thought fit, were to attempt to point out in detail the cases in which that discretion should he exercised, then, instead of the introduction of a few words like those in the Amendment of the noble Earl being sufficient, it would he necessary for them to insert a complete schedule. For this reason, he considered it better to leave the whole matter to the discretion of the Commissioners.
§ Amendment negatived.
The EARL of WICKLOW
said, he had another Amendment to propose, and which he wished to be inserted at the end of the clause, to this effect:—Provided, nevertheless, that nothing herein contained shall empower the Poor Law Commissioners to alter any union of electoral divisions without the consent and approval of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
suggested that the noble Earl should postpone the Amendment to a subsequent period of the debate, or to the bringing up of the report.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 21, 22, and 23, agreed to.
§ On Clause 24, which enacts that schools shall be established for the North and South Dublin Unions,
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
made a proposition that the Poor Law Commissioners should combine or make a union of unions for the purposes of education, and should establish school houses in which the children might be provided for; and that an education of industry should be superadded to the ordinary branches of education.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
was understood to say, that he had not the least hesitation in acknowledging the value of the suggestion made by the noble Lord, and would promise that the subject should be taken into immediate consideration.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ The other clauses having been agreed to, and the Bill having passed through Committee,
My Lords, I think this is the most convenient time at which I can place before your Lordships for consideration the important Amendments of 558 which I have given notice. I am quite sure that in proceeding to the consideration and discussion of this most momentous subject, your Lordships will approach it without partiality and without any bias of mind, or any reference whatever to those misapprehensions and misrepresentations which have been industriously circulated, with regard to the effects which this clause will have, and also with respect to the motives which led to its introduction—that you will not pause to consider whether the vote which I ask you to give is a vote which will confer upon you a momentary popularity or the reverse—that you will not be influenced by those insinuations which have been very liberally thrown out with regard to the probable political consequences of your Lordships' adoption of this course—but that you will deal fairly, manfully, and independently with the propositions which I have the honour to submit to your notice. It has been said that this Amendment I propose is a landlord's Amendment. I deny that altogether. I should be ashamed of myself if, connected as I am with Irish property, I submitted for your Lordships' consideration a clause intended for, or calculated exclusively, or even primarily, to benefit that class to which I myself belong. I should be yet more ashamed of myself if that advantage was to be purchased by any corresponding disadvantage to any other class in society. But, my Lords, my firm conviction is, that so far from being a landlord's Amendment, if it be for the profit of one section above another, it is a labourer's and not a landlord's Amendment. The object which I have in view, and which I am sure your Lordships will have in view, is, not the promotion of the interests of any particular class, but how best to conduct this perilous experiment on which we are now called upon to enter—how best we can steer clear of those difficulties and dangers attending a measure which we are asked to enter upon, and upon which you have decided—and, notwithstanding all the objections, and difficulties, and dangers, I think wisely decided—to enter; and this can be only done by calmly, deliberately, and impartially considering how best we can make the property of Ireland able to bear the heavy burden we are about to throw upon it, by enabling it to maintain those labourers whom we desire to rescue from their present distress. I am not deterred, therefore, by any of the considerations to which I have referred from sub- 559 mitting this Amendment to your Lordships, which in my conscience I believe is necessary for the safe working of this great measure. I am not even deterred from submitting this question to your consideration by the rather unusual announcement— by that extraordinary message—from the House of Commons which was conveyed to you this evening by my noble Friend on the cross benches, who, in order to influence and regulate your Lordships' decision upon this question, thought it necessary to state that the Earl of Lincoln had changed his mind. My Lords, undoubtedly recent events have made it particularly convenient that when there is any general change of opinion in the House of Commons—a change en masse—an intimation of the same should be forthwith conveyed to your Lordships; but I confess that, with the most unfeigned respect for my noble Friend on the cross benches, and for my noble Friend to whom the allusion is made, I am not in the least affected by that announcement, nor am I at all scrupulous, notwithstanding its importance, to call upon your Lordships to throw out of consideration altogether the fact that the Earl of Lincoln, who voted for a similar clause on a previous occasion, is prepared to give a different vote if the subject again be submitted to his notice. Nor am I deterred from bringing this subject forward by that which has much greater weight on my mind, the objection of my noble and learned Friend, who is not now in his place (Lord Brougham), and also the decided objection of the noble Marquess opposite. I am not deterred, because I think my noble and learned Friend upon this side of the House argued against the clauses upon that which I think rather an objection to the measure itself, than to the clauses; nor by the noble Marquess, because, I think, that, in stating the grounds of his objection to this clause, he propounded a principle most dangerous in an assembly of public men—namely, that we must legislate, not upon principles, but upon "impressions;" and that the "impression" which would be produced by the adoption of this clause would be inimical to its satisfactory operation. I think the noble Marquess was very unwise in that declaration; for, my Lords, I need hardly tell you, that it is not "impressions" we are to look to, but we must consider effects and consequences. We must, in our legislation, have in view, not a momentary popularity—not the gratification 560 of "impressions," but that which will be best and safest for the country. I feel convinced that unless you adopt the principle of this Amendment which I submit to your Lordships, you cannot hope that this experiment will terminate but in disastrous and ruinous results. I ask of your Lordships to deal with Irish property as you would deem it safe to deal with English. I know the great body of your Lordships are unconnected by property with Ireland; but you will, nevertheless, do your duty by that country; and I ask you with confidence, whether you would dare to propose or attempt to carry into effect a Poor Law for England based upon the principles of this Poor Law, although there would be so many safeguards in England against its abuse which it is universally admitted do not exist in Ireland? If you cannot, then, with what reason—with what hope—can you anticipate success, or, in short, anything but miscarriage, for a law which you could not and would not venture to impose upon England? Before you sanction such a Bill as this, you must, at all events, show me that this experiment, which would be dangerous in England, will be safe in Ireland. Point out to me the particular circumstances which make a law that would be liable to gross abuse even in England, not so in Ireland; and you must do so before you can withhold your consent from my proposition. On you lies the onus of proof, not on me. You ask me to extend the English system of relief to Ireland; and I, on the other side, demand that you show me that that system will be protected by the safeguards which you find to be, not expedient only, but essential in this country. Now, the measure which your Lordships propose to adopt, must, by the confession of every one, necessarily operate a great and vast change, social and economical, in Ireland; and the object which I profess to have in view— the main object of this Amendment—is to relieve them from the great pressure of the poor rates—not by any stingy niggardliless of bounty—not by withdrawing relief from those who are really destitute—not by driving to despair those who are really in distress; but by superseding the necessity of pauperism, by furnishing the means of independent labour. Let me recall to your Lordships' consideration the principle on which the burden is now distributed between the landlord and tenant. According to the law, as it at present stands, the rate is, in the first instance, 561 levied exclusively upon the tenant; but the tenant is entitled to deduct from his landlord, not half the amount of the rate charged upon him, but a poundage upon his rent, equal to one-half the poundage of the rated value on which he has been charged. Now, let me point out practically how this works. You would suppose, naturally—and, indeed, I have heard many of your Lordships say—that the burden is thus equally distributed between landlord and tenant. But, my Lords, it is no such thing. It is notorious that the rated value of the land is infinitely, on an average, below the fair rentable value of the land; and I believe I am not far wrong in stating that the land which is rated at 20l., would, without being at all over-rented, pay a rent of 30l. Now, observe how the law works with a shilling a pound rated upon the tenant. He pays, in the first instance, 1s. a pound upon his rate of 20l.; and then, being entitled to deduct from his landlord half the poundage of his rent, he deducts from his landlord not twenty, but thirty sixpences, or 15s. out of the 20s. which he is called upon to pay to the rate; and the result is, that one-fourth only of the rate is borne by the occupying tenant, and the other three-fourths by the landlord. I don't think that this is at all an exaggerated statement; but, suppose that the tenant pays less than this, still the result would be that the tenant pays one-third of the rate, while the landlord pays two-thirds. My Lords, the relation between landlord and tenant is better understood here than in Ireland. The condition of the tenantry is infinitely superior here; the farms are much larger than they are in Ireland; and yet I ask those of your Lordships—and I shall be content to rest the whole grounds of my argument on this point—I ask those of your Lordships who have been in the habit of attending to the working of the Poor Law in England, what would be the economical, financial, and moral condition of this country, if the farmers had the power of levying rates, two-thirds or three-fourths of which rates were to be paid by their landlords? I ask what you think would be the effect on the landed property of the parish? That is an important consideration; but it is not the only and it is not the most important consideration. I ask what you think would be its effect on the employment of labour? I ask what you think would be its effects on the multiplication or diminution of pauperism in the parish? I ask what you think would be 562 the inducement on the part of the farmer to employ additional hands and improve his holding, if the alternative should be— not as it now is in England, that unless you employ them as labourers you must pay them as paupers—but if the alternative should be, that unless you employ them as labourers they must be supported as paupers by the landlords? I am certain that England would sink under such a system—it would lead infallibly to the complete demoralisation of the condition of the parish—it would destroy the independence of the labourers — it would increase, not only the amount of the rates, but also the number of paupers — it would annihilate and deaden all exertions, all efforts, and that parish would be overwhelmed with the mass of pauperism. I ask, is there a man among your Lordships who will deny that this would be the more than probable consequences if such a measure were passed with regard to England? Is there a man among your Lordships who is prepared to follow up this measure of legislation for Ireland by assenting to a similar measure for England? And on what grounds would you hesitate? If the farmers of England were to say, "This is what the farmers of Ireland have obtained—this is a burden which you, the English landlords, say ought to rest upon the landlords—the imposition of which you say is wise, politic, just, and safe," let me ask you, my Lords, with what face, with what arguments, on what grounds you could resist the demand for vesting the same power, without the safeguards which you now have, in the farmers of England? Well, then, if none of your Lordships will deny the dangers of this state of things as applied to England—if none of your Lordships can suggest an argument by which a similar claim could be resisted in England—then tell me what are the safeguards on which in Ireland you peculiarly rely? Are the tenantry there more wealthy? are their means of employing labour greater? are their relations with their landlords more close and confidential? are they more thrifty? are they more likely to be so far-seeing as to see the advantage of employing the labourer rather than supporting the pauper? Why, my Lords, it is notorious that all this is not so—that it is the reverse. If there is any security from character—if there is any security from station—if there is any security from a friendly relation between landlord and tenant, that security exists in England—that security is lost in Ireland. 563 I don't know whether I would venture to entrust such a power into the hands of Scotch proprietors and tenants; I believe that the habits of that country, the intelligence of the farmers, the extent of the farms, the knowledge of their respective duties and rights, are such that, if such a measure would be safe anywhere, it would be safe in Scotland. I should be still more sorry to trust to the operation of that measure in England; but I am certain that in Ireland it would be absolute and entire ruin—absolute and entire ruin, not to the landlords only, nor even to the landlords primarily, but absolute and entire ruin to those hopes which you entertain, and which I yet trust to see realized, of introducing a better state of things, of creating an independent body of labourers, of separating the labourers from the farmers, and of employing the labourers on the land. My Lords, if you hope to effect these objects— and without effecting these objects there can be no hope for the social regeneration of Ireland—if you hope to bring about this change, it can only be by making it the interest of the occupier to increase the amount of labour on the land in his occupation; and that cannot be done in any other manner, or by any other means, than by holding out to the tenant this penalty, that if you refuse to employ the labourer it will be necessary and incumbent on you to support him. But if you hope that the tenantry will employ the labourer, and that they will exert themselves for the purpose of increasing employment, because they know that if they do not their landlords must support the labourer in idleness, then you are proceeding upon a supposition too Utopian, too monstrous, too absurd, to be entertained by such an assembly as I have now the honour to address. Well, then, if this principle cannot be safely attempted in England, I call upon you to show how it can be safely attempted in Ireland. I throw upon you the burden of proof—I call upon you to show why you propose to introduce into Ireland a principle with regard to relief which you would not introduce into England even with the safeguards that now accompany it; that demand I have a right to make, and I hope that your Lordships, before you agree to reject my Amendment, will expect to hear a satisfactory answer to it from Her Majesty's Government. But I may be told, "Oh, the circumstances are so different between England and Ireland, that though the law as it stands may be perfectly adapted to England, yet it is 564 not adapted to Ireland." Why? I want to know what are the circumstances which make that wise and safe when applied to Ireland, that would be unsafe and absurd when applied to England. Perhaps you may tell me that you cannot trust the Irish landlords in making arrangements with their Irish tenantry. This, indeed, is the only objection which bears on the face of it the shadow of an argument against the principle for which I contend. Let me, then, for a moment, examine this argument. You cannot trust the Irish landlords in making agreements with their Irish tenants. My Lords, if I proposed by this Amendment to remove an existing burden from the shoulders of one class to place it on those of another, while the other circumstances remained unaltered, I should be the foremost to denounce such a measure as a gross injustice and a flagrant act of iniquity. If the landlords were at present charged with the payment of the poor rates, and I were to say, remove the burden from them to the occupying tenant, that would be the height of injustice to the occupying tenant. But, my Lords, I seek no such thing. I ask you to affirm in this Bill—and unless you affirm it now you never will affirm it—I ask you to affirm a wise and sound principle—I ask you to lay down right principles at the time of imposing the burden—I ask you to lay down a rule which will make the burden bearable. Do I ask you to make the transfer now? By no means. I ask you to interfere with no existing agreements—I ask you to violate no present leases—I ask you to interfere with no existing contract or agreement between landlord and tenant as it at present stands. But this I ask you to say—that whereas the principle is sound and just that where the occupier alone has the means of giving employment, he should be induced to give it by the consciousness that if he does not the burden will fall upon his own shoulders, and not upon those of another man. I ask you to say that in the case of all future leases the principle should be affirmed as it is in England; and that the burden shall fall upon the tenant, and not upon the landlord. In the case of tenants at will—and there are many such cases in Ireland—I do not propose at once that the tenant at will, in accordance with this principle, should be made liable to pay; but I propose in my Amendment that on the 1st of January, 1850, the tenant at will should be liable to the game conditions as a tenant on a lease. 565 If the principle, then, be sound, the question is, is my mode of applying it a safe one? I do not apply it at once, I apply it prospectively. I save all existing leases, I apply it only to future leases. I save the tenants at will for two years and a half; and in the mean time I leave it to the landlords and tenants to enter into new agreements upon the subject under the altered circumstances of the case. I know, my Lords, that there is a popular argument used. I know that there is much popular declamation abroad respecting the hard hearts and the griping hands of the Irish landlords. I know that there is too much of an indiscriminately sweeping condemnation abroad at the present moment in this country at the cost of the Irish landlord—and I know how ready people are to say, "We can't stop to pick two grains of wheat from the bushel of chaff, and we can't separate the good landlords from those who are regardless of their duties and indifferent to everything but how they may collect with the utmost rapacity whatever they may wring from the hard earnings of their tenants. 'I know that these imputations are unjust in general. That they are well founded in many instances I admit with pain and regret; but they are unjust as applied to the whole. Yet you legislate for the whole. And let me remind you, my Lords, if that be the character of the Irish landlords—if it be the fact that there are instances of such rapacity and of such cruelty—such shortsighted rapacity and such blind cruelty— do you think that you can protect your tenantry by your legislation from the rapacity and cruelty of their landlords? Do you think that the same landlords who have now the power and the will, according to you, to exact the uttermost farthing from their tenantry—to screw every shilling and every penny which they can drag from them by any means in their power—do you believe that these landlords will not protect themselves against your legislation by demanding from their tenants an increased rent to cover the increased rate? But perhaps you think—indeed I have heard it alleged—that the tenantry cannot pay the rates. The fact is, my Lords, that the tenantry do now pay the rate. It is from the tenantry that the rate is collected—it is by the tenantry that the rate is paid, and all they do afterwards is to produce the receipt for the rate as part payment of their rental. Can you believe, if, as you say, there be a returning spirit among the Irish peasantry to give for land its full 566 price—if there he that spirit among the Irish landlords to exact every additional shilling that can be got, and to agree to every additional farthing that may be offered—can you entertain the vain delusion that by merely causing the landlord to pay the rate, you will relieve the tenant? If the landlord already exacts for rent as much as the tenant can be induced to offer, the landlord will be able to collect nothing more than the tenant has; and if he now collects all that he has, the result will be, that he will be able to collect less rent in exact proportion to the amount the tenant has already paid in the shape of rate; and so the proposition will also hold true in the converse, that he will be able to collect more rent in exact proportion as you relieve the tenant in the shape of rates. I have not heard an argument against this proposition, unless it be that it will be impossible to collect the rates, owing to the organized resistance of the tenants. But, my Lords, that is a confession which no Government can make with any regard to self-respect. That is a confession which is fatal to all law and all order; and I trust that in your Lordships' House, at least, it will not be brought forward as an argument against this clause. If the principle of my proposition be right—if it be sound —if the application of it prospectively be safe—then I hope that I shall not suffer what I must consider the degradation of hearing in the House of Lords this argument, that in adopting a principle just and sound in itself, and necessary for the welfare of Ireland, you will be met by an organized system of passive resistance, which you dare not encounter in support of the law. I know not that I need trespass further upon your Lordships' attention in advocating the Amendment of which I have given notice. I have stated shortly what I conceive to be its recommendations—the encouragement of labour. I have stated also what will be the fatal consequences of its rejection—that it will take away all stimulus to improvement—that it will bring all labourers down to one dead level of pauperism. As you have an amount of pauperism already hanging over Ireland, that threatens to absorb the whole of its available revenue, your only hope of encountering that pauperism is by the establishment of a different class of tenantry, the breaking up of those small farms which prevail in Ireland, and the diminution of that tenacity which the tenants of Ireland exhibit for the occupation of wretched plots 567 of land, and to establish a body of independent labourers. These are the grounds on which you can alone rest for the diminution of that flood of pauperism which threatens to overwhelm you; and if you reject this Amendment, you reject all those safeguards with which a measure like the present ought to be surrounded; and, in all sincerity I say it, you will render the future improvement of the social state of Ireland a matter of impossibility. Do not dream that by your legislation, legislate as you will, you can prevent that which I know is acting strongly on the public mind now, and which is kindling a flame in this country against Ireland and every thing Irish; do not hope that you can prevent the influx of a large body of labourers from among the poorest classes of Ireland into this country. So long as your rate of wages here is higher than the rate in Ireland, so long will that influx take place. The more you keep down the rate of wages in Ireland, the more you will add to this evil; the more you encourage pauperism, the more you discourage the occupiers of land from giving employment to the labourers for the purpose of keeping them off the poor rate; the more you reduce, in short, the amount of labour in Ireland, the more you will have of that influx of pauperism which is threatening to overwhelm this country. Do not let these considerations be without weight in deciding upon this question; do not hope that this legislation, which will throw on Ireland the burden of their own pauperism, regardless of the consequences that may happen to Ireland, will be without its effects upon yourselves. Believe me, that you soon will find out that your selfish legislation will be visited on your own shoulders—that the injury to Ireland will recoil upon yourselves and fall with recriminate justice on this country, while it will aggravate the evils which you unwisely think by your legislation to obviate. I entreat you to consider this question as judges deciding upon a question of right, and prudence, and justice; and I ask you to do no more for the landlords of Ireland—I ask you to do no more for the tenants of Ireland—I ask you to do no more for the labourers of Ireland, than to give them the same rights which you have given the same classes in England, accompanied with those safeguards which you have found to a certain extent to be effectual in this country; but without which, I again put it to your Lordships' knowledge and to your Lordships' 568 experience, without which you cannot safely carry into effect this law. The noble Lord concluded by proposing his Amendment as follows:—That, save as hereinafter provided, it shall not be lawful for any occupier of rateable property holding under any lease or agreement to be made or entered into after the passing of this Act, nor for any tenant at will, or from year to year, after the 1st day of January, 1849, to deduct from the rent to which he may be liable in respect of such property any amount whatever in respect of any rate which may be imposed at any period subsequent to the date of such lease or agreement, or subsequent to such 1st day of January, as the case may be. That all the provisions of the Act 6th and 7th Victoria, c. 92, intituled 'An Act for the further Amendment of an Act for the more effectual Relief of the destitute Poor in Ireland,' for the charge and recovery of rates upon property rated to a net annual value not exceeding 4l., shall be deemed and taken to apply to the like property rated to a net annual value not exceeding 5l.; provided nevertheless, and be it enacted, that no immediate lesson holding under any lease or agreement to be made or entered into after the passing of this Act, shall be authorized to deduct from any rent by him payable under such lease or agreement to his superior landlord, any amount whatever in respect of any rate which may be imposed at any period subsequent to the date of such lease or agreement.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
, who was nearly inaudible during a great part of his speech, said, that he had on a former evening adverted to this Amendment as being by far the most important that would come before their Lordships on this Bill. He would make no reference to that particular consideration adverted to in the outset of his speech by the noble Lord, and arising out of an observation made on a previous evening by a noble Earl on the cross benches, because, though he was far from thinking that, as matters of convenience, those considerations which arise out of the privileges of the two Houses of Parliament, ought to be entirely disregarded, he would leave that, as a subject for subsequent deliberation, to meet the noble Lord fairly, and to discuss his Amendment on its own merits, exclusively of all other considerations. Taking the most calm and deliberate view of that Amendment that it was in his power to form, he had no hesitation in adopting the noble Lord's own expression, and as the noble Lord had said that the retention of this clause would prove in its consequences disastrous to Ireland, and disastrous to the present measure, so in like manner would he confidently assert that the adoption of the noble Lord's Amendment to the clause would prove disastrous to Ireland—disas- 569 trous to the peace of Ireland, and disastrous to the success of a measure which he was justified in stating the great majority of their Lordships were desirous of seeing passed into a law. He would repeat, a great majority of their Lordships were desirous to pass this measure, because they had now gone through the most important clauses; and yet, with regard to the most important of the principles contained in them— namely, the extension of relief—they had seen that neither the noble Lord on the bench below him (Lord Monteagle), nor the most reverend Prelate above him (the Archbishop of Dublin), who were most opposed to the principle of the Bill, nor any other noble Lord, had up to that moment thought fit to take the sense of the House against that extension of the principle of relief. Even that evening they had heard the noble Lord himself say, that he was desirous the Bill should pass into a law. He thought he had therefore a right to take all this as a test that the Bill was considered by their Lordships to be necessary, and that it was a Bill which they were desirous to see adopted, though at the same time they should all admit that it was not without its difficulties, and not without the probability of circumstances arising which would beget opposition to it. He would beg their Lordships to consider what was the character of the measure. It was a Bill, the operation of which would require in Ireland new and extensive machinery—it was a Bill which would require a great extension of the powers of boards of guardians, and which would also require great efforts both on the part of the landlords and of the farmers to keep up and stimulate the industry of the country, in order to prevent the cost of relief to be given under this Bill from running into excess. Now he would say that the efficiency of this Bill to secure these objects depended on its fitness to give to all classes —but above all to the two great classes, who were the most important in the country, the classes of landlord and tenant—an equal interest in the administration of the law on the soundest, most careful, and most direct principles. But how was this great object to be carried into effect? Was it by any new principle? No. It was to be effected by equalising the burdens on the landlord and on the tenant. Was this anything new? Did not their Lordships adopt it five or six years ago, when the Irish Poor Law was first carried? And had it worked ill or well since then? Had 570 it not admittedly worked in the best manner? And yet now, when they were about materially to extend the law, and extend the burdens imposed under it, they were asked by the noble Lord to depart from the system which had worked well, and to adopt an experiment which, if he knew anything of the people, or of the tenantry of Ireland, would, he could answer for it, ensure its working ill. He would say it was most essential for them to carry with them the feelings of the country in adopting a measure of this kind; and yet at the very moment of introducing by Act of Parliament a greatly aggravated and new burden upon the country, their Lordships were desired to choose that moment in order to endeavour to throw the whole of that burden on the tenant and to take it off the landlord. Was that the enunciation —was that the herald of peace which the noble Lord had chosen to send forth from his ark in order to conciliate the people? Was this the proper occasion to adopt a provision, which up to this moment had not been executed, and which he would say could not be executed? The noble Lord had thrown out that Her Majesty's Government were extremely careful of securing popularity in Ireland—that they were extremely afraid of all rumours of opposition from that country, which might be directed against any of their measures, and more particularly against the Bill now before their Lordships. If they were about doing anything unjust in order to court popularity, he should most readily agree in the truth of the noble Lord's charge. But were they doing so in the present instance? Was it courting popularity to impose a heavy burden on the country; or was there anything unjust in making that burden press equally on all classes, in accordance with the principle of the law already in force there? But he would ask the noble Lord to reflect before he repeated that in imposing burdens of that sort they ought to be quite regardless of the "impressions" which their acts would produce in the country, or that there were any acts of the Legislature which ought to be adopted without a previous careful weighing of the impression which these acts would produce on the public mind, more especially when they were, as in the present instance, of a severe and pressing character. But what, he would ask, was likely to be the impression created abroad if the Amendment of the noble Lord were carried? By carrying the clause as it now stood, he did not think 571 the impression likely to prevail was that either Her Majesty's Government or their Lordships were disposed to act unjustly, or partially, or improperly towards the landlords. That was not, he thought, a charge which they were deserving of having brought against them, and it was not the argument which the noble Lord used. But what would be the impression abroad if the Amendment were carried into operation? Take the case of a peasant about taking a lease of some ground. The noble Lord said that the peasant so acting would proceed with a knowledge of the burden that was to be imposed upon him, and would be on his guard against offering too much rent. He was, however, a person likely to take land on any terms. That was the character which the noble Lord assigned to him, and yet the noble Lord thought he ought to calculate at such a time the amount of the burdens that were in future times likely to come upon him. Suppose the case of a tenant who had taken a lease, and who, from a sudden increase in the distress of the country—from a sudden alteration in the system of agriculture pursued, or from a sudden deficiency in the crops of the country—found that the poor rate imposed upon him for in-door relief and out-door relief came upon him with a doubly aggravated charge—take the case of such a man, with the rent and tax collectors at the door, and he thought that the noble Lord, with all his ingenuity— with all his powers of making the clearest possible statement—would not, if brought into contact with him, be able to satisfy him that he ought to pay the whole of the rates, and that the Legislature had acted wisely and justly in taking care that the entire burden should fall on him, and not a penny of it on the landlord. With all his respect for the powers of the noble Lord, he thought the noble Lord would be likely in such a case to find himself defeated in argument; and it was probable that among all the peasantry in Ireland he would not get a single convert to his doctrine. The tenants would say, "We did not calculate on these circumstances arising." "Oh but," the noble Lord would answer, "you ought to have calculated upon them. We, the Legislature, in passing this Act, avowed that we did not know what the consequences would be; we did not venture, with all our knowledge of the principles that might act in raising or diminishing the amount of poor-rates, with all our proficiency in the details of political 572 economy, we did not foresee any of these things; but you, sitting in your cabin and in the midst of your mountains, you were bound before you took your lease to take them into your consideration. You have made a mistake, and though that mistake is fatal to you, you must abide by it." The Irish landlords might in many instances concur with the noble Lord in his doctrine, and might be disposed to take the same view of charity as a very eminent and acute philosopher and moralist—Sancho Panza—did of honour. His view was, "There is nothing so noble or so fine as honour—there is nothing so deserving of merit; and so whenever I get into a fray or a battle, I endeavour to leave the whole of it to my master." But the noble Lord seemed to view with perfect indifference the idea of whether a tax, when once adopted and sanctioned by Parliament, could be collected or not. He would ask the noble Lord, however, whether this was the first time such a consideration was raised? Did the noble Lord remember anything that passed in the debates concerning tithes? Did he not remember that the Church of Ireland had been induced to abandon a portion of its just rights on no other ground but that the collection of that peculiar rate or tax—call it what they would—was attended with circumstances which rendered it impossible that it could be got in? The Church, much to its honour, concurred with the Government of the day, and consented to forego a portion of its rights, in order to ensure what had since taken place, the easy and certain collection of the remainder. But it was not in that case only, but in a great many other instances, that the Legislature was compelled to take into consideration, when imposing any burden on the country, what the facility would be of collecting it. It was, he would say, therefore, clear that the farmer would feel that he had an interest in not having the whole burden of the rate thrown upon him. The noble Lord had spoken as if it was only by the employment given by the farmer the amount of poor-rate was to be kept down. He agreed with the noble Lord that the farmer would, when the Act passed, have a considerable interest in keeping down the rates by the employment of the labourers; but the landlord ought also to have an interest in effecting the same object. It was not in the smaller class of improvements alone that labour was to be employed; and their Lordships had already 573 admitted such to be the fact in sanctioning advances of the public money to the landlord, in order that he might effect improvements on his property. If they wished to give him an interest in making those improvements, why should they place the whole burden of the rates upon the tenants? He would say that the Legislature acted far more wisely in adopting the course it had taken, than in following that suggested by the noble Lord. The adoption of the principle of placing half the burden on the landlord and half on the tenant, was originally sanctioned, without any material opposition, by their Lordships' House. But then the noble Lord said, "Why not take the example of the English law?" He would beg leave to ask another question of the noble Lord, and that was, "Why not follow the example of the Scotch law?" The Scotch Act, which he had before him, equally divided the burden between the landlord and the tenant; and what was most remarkable was, that that Act had received the sanction of the noble Lord himself two years ago, when the Bill was introduced. Every one of the noble Lord's arguments would have applied against the Scotch Bill, but not one of them was then thought worthy of being urged against it by the noble Lord. Seeing, therefore, that this principle was in operation now in Scotland, and that it had been working, and working well, in Ireland, for the last five or six years, he could not concur in the demand made upon their Lordships to disturb it now, when they were about to try what many called a perilous, and what he was free to admit was a somewhat adventurous experiment with regard to the state of Ireland. He begged not to be misunderstood on this subject. He thought it most material that the tenant should bear half the burden. The noble Lord said there were many instances in which the tenant did not bear half the burden; but he would remind their Lordships that a remedy was provided by law for any injustice that might be done to the landlord in consequence of the property being valued too low to the poor rates, and that remedy was now in course of operation. The landlord had power to require a revaluation of the property where he thought the former valuation too low, and that revaluation could not but ultimately bring the valuation of the country to a proper standard. If there was an imperfection in a law of which the principle was good, he would ask their Lordships not to let the 574 imperfection in one of the details weigh with them as a reason for departing from a good principle, and that for the purpose of adopting not only a vicious principle, but one which would raise a feeling—and that not without reason—in the country against the execution of the law altogether. On these grounds he would ask their Lordships to give their dissent to the Amendment of the noble Lord.
said, that he wished in a very few words to state his reasons for voting against the Amendment of the noble Lord. He agreed with the noble Marquess opposite that it was highly necessary that there should be a Poor Law, and an efficient Poor Law, in Ireland; and he thought that the Government were entitled to credit for the manner in which they had discharged the very difficult duty of preparing and conducting this measure through Parliament. Unquestionably the subject was one of great difficulty; but if the Amendment of the noble Lord were carried, the difficulty of putting this measure in force in Ireland would be incalculably increased; increased to such an extent, he believed, that it would be impossible to levy the rates. The noble Lord had asked whether any one would dare to propose the principle of this mea-sure as to the division of the burden for the Poor Law of England? Why, he knew that there were many persons who were exceedingly desirous of introducing into the English law the provision that, with respect to small tenements, the whole burden should be thrown on the landlords. He dissented also from the position of the noble Lord that if the farmer did not employ the labourer he must maintain him in idleness; he thought that the employment of the labourer should depend upon the real value of his labour to the employer, not upon such considerations as those suggested by the noble Lord, and he hoped that they should soon get rid of that principle which was now in operation in the English Poor Law. He would not further trouble their Lordships, but he had felt anxious to state that the noble Lord's reference to the English law did not appear to him to have the force attributed to it.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
paid, he felt it due to himself, as well as to his noble Friend (Lord Stanley), to state why it was his misfortune to differ with him on the present occasion. He thought their Lordships, as well as the public at large, were frequently led astray by the supposed good 575 which was anticipated from assimilating the laws of England and Ireland into a supposing that a measure which worked well in England must necessarily work well in Ireland. This might he the case if the circumstances of the two countries were the same; but they obviously were not so; and he could not give his support to the Amendment of the noble Lord without feeling that he was throwing difficulties almost insurmountable in the way of the possible success of this experiment. Now, he begged to say that when once this Bill became the law of the land, he should do his utmost, as far as he was individually concerned, and as far as his influence went in his own vicinity, in concurrence and in competition with its strongest supporters, to give it every fair play. He could not, therefore, in common candour, become a party to a clause which, in his judgment, would be fatal to its working, or which at least would diminish its chance of success. He did not say that he was one who entertained very sanguine hopes of its success; but whatever its chances of success were, he believed that the adoption of this clause would greatly diminish them. In the case of England the tenants, if not reconciled to the burden, had at least been long accustomed and familiarized with it, and had taken it into account in all their transactions. But he begged the House to remember, that in Ireland the introduction of a Poor Law was a novelty altogether. When the Legislature proceeded to pass a Poor Law in Ireland, they found all property alike exempt from the burden, and it became necessary to decide on what description of property it should be imposed. They accordingly made a selection; and he thought on the whole it was the wisest and best. They endeavoured to reconcile both landlord and tenant to the burden by extending it over both, subject to defined objections. If he remembered rightly, there was in the original Bill no exemption of the smaller tenants; but when they came to apply the measure in Ireland, they found themselves compelled to retreat from the principle of an equal division in all cases. In Ireland it would be most unwise to call on the smaller occupiers to contribute for such purposes; and even if it were prudent, under more favourable circumstances, to place the burden directly on the tenant, it became most inexpedient to do so at a time when their Lordships and everybody connected with Ireland knew that the amount of the distress, and also of the tax 576 now about to be imposed, was as compared with that hitherto collected, as the weight of a mountain to that of a molehill. Yet, concurrently with this increase in the amount of the burden, his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) proposed to cast it on the class least able to bear it. If the burden were diminishing, if the rate were falling from 10s. in the pound to 1s., then the lesser rate might be cast on the occupier; but, when the amount of the rate was rising from 1s. to 10s., it was entirely impracticable to take the step which was recommended to them. At best, he was not very sanguine as to the successful working of this measure in some parts of Ireland. In certain districts, where the population was not in excess, it might possibly succeed; but in the province of Connaught, in the county of Mayo, for instance, in Sligo, and in other parts, it was impossible to think there was a chance of the measure being carried into effect, should the Amendment be adopted; and he was not willing to make himself responsible for this consequence. Besides, they should look to the peculiar position in which Her Majesty's Ministers then stood. If the Bill with those clauses were sent, contrary to their wishes, to the country, and that it should not be found to work as had been expected, the Ministers might turn round upon their Lordships and say, that those who differed from them, like himself, had persisted in carrying an Amendment which had destroyed the very essence of the Bill, and but for the interpolation of which the measure might have succeeded. But his opposition to the clause did not extend to the general principles laid down by his noble Friend opposite. From those general principles laid down as matters of economical science by his noble Friend, he would not differ; and if they had in Ireland a better state of society—if they had a better social system, and a long habitude in favour of the payment of a tax like this— then the proposition might perhaps be safely adopted; but in the present state of Ireland it was impracticable—the introduction of the clause would make the collection of the rates impossible. He believed that the determination of the proprietors to bear their share in the burden of the rates, had produced a good effect in the trying circumstances in which they had been placed; and he had never yet heard any individual proprietor complain of that portion of the Bill which subjected him, as a landlord, to bear his own share of the rate. 577 If any step could be taken that would give a colour to falsehood and could lend calumny a strength it ought not to possess, it would be the refusal of the landed proprietors of Ireland, at the present moment and under existing circumstances, to bear their share of the burden. For these reasons, he undoubtingly and unhesitatingly—though from personal feelings reluctantly—gave his opposition to the clause.
§ The EARL of HARDWICKE
did not think that the manner in which the whole subject of the Bill had been introduced to their Lordships had been such as to attach them much to its prospective influence upon the country, nor was it calculated to induce noble Lords upon his side of the House to adopt it without looking maturely into the principles upon which it had been framed, or to prevent them from following a perfectly independent course with regard to its details. It was not surprising that they should look upon it as introducing a principle entirely new in the country, that of out-door relief to the able-bodied; and he suggested that they should imagine a condition of affairs in England similar to that existing in Ireland, in order that they might be enabled to form some judgment as to the propriety of adopting the several branches of the measure. The noble Lord opposite (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had stated that he was anxious to give the landlords an interest in the well-working of the measure, by placing a certain number of ex-officio guardians upon every board, and by making them liable to pay their proportion of the rates. But he (the Earl of Hardwicke) should tell the noble Marquess that the landlords had other, higher, and more important duties to perform, than looking after the allocation and economising of the rates. If an interest as a ratepayer were given to the ex-officio guardian to economise the rates as much as possible, was he or was he not likely to be careful of their expenditure? What was the position of the landlord in England with regard to the poor? The boards of guardians were formed of ratepayers elected from amongst the body of ratepayers at large, and of ex-officio guardians. The task of looking into the economy of the rate fell upon the rate-paying portion of the board; but the landlord sat at those boards as the poor man's friend, and instead of screening himself from liability to further rating, as he necessarily would do if the body to which he belonged were obliged to pay those rates, 578 his duty was to stand between the rate payer and the poor man, and to see that the poor received the care which was their due, and had the proper benefit from the rate. He was the friend of the poor, and it was desirable that such should be his position before the poor of the country, and were he the ratepayer himself he would probably be more rigid as to the expenditure. The effect of the clause too, was prospective, and not immediate, and the prospects of the ensuing three years were such as to make it most probable that the rates would be so heavy that the arrangements to be entered into between the landlords and the tenants, when the clause should come into operation, would be extremely favourable to the tenants themselves, inasmuch as they would necessarily seek for such reduction in the amount of rent as should compensate for the additional pressure of the poor's rates to which they would then be liable. And the rent being fixed and settled, the tenant would be left, when a reduction in the amount of the rates should have taken place, with a certainty of holding his land at a rent infinitely below what it would have been subject to had the landlord continued liable to pay a proportion. It appeared to him (the Earl of Hardwicke), therefore, that he at least had no other course left but to consent to the Amendment of his noble Friend. He knew nothing personally of Ireland whatsoever; but he knew that the state of things which had existed, and did still exist, could not be suffered to continue. A regulation should be made for the support of the poor, and in doing so some great principle should be laid down, by which the humbler classes should be relieved from their present state of misery; their lands should be better cultivated, employment should be obtained for them, and that could not be done unless the ratepayers themselves became the direct employers of labour. To the other powerful arguments which had been adduced by his noble Friend, he could add nothing; and he should therefore conclude by repeating his intention of voting for the clause.
§ The EARL of ST. GERMANS
said, that the noble Earl who had just addressed their Lordships had employed an argument to induce the House to accede to the Amendment, in the justice of which he (the Earl of St. Germans) could not altogether acquiesce. The noble Earl said, that if the landlords should be exempted from the payment of rates, or rather 579 they should not be called upon to pay them in the first instance, they, being many of them ex-officio guardians, would behave liberally towards the poor. What was that but saying that they would act as benefactors of the poor at the expense of the occupiers of the land? Those noble Lords who opposed the clause then under consideration appeared to assume that the circumstances of the two countries, Ireland and England, were alike. But the fact was, that they were very dissimilar. In England a farmer calculated the amount of the local burdens which he would have to pay in addition to the rent; and if be found the aggregate sum too large to allow of his getting an adequate return for his capital, he carried his capital elsewhere. In Ireland the case was widely different. The holding of land was in that country a matter of necessity. If a farmer in Ireland calculated at all—and very few in that country ever did calculate—all he would look for in return for his capital, or rather his labour, would be a sufficiency to enable him to maintain his family on the most inferior description of food. Throw upon such a man an additional burden, and you then drive him to maintain himself and his family on a smaller quantity of that inferior description of food. That would be the result of the adoption of the Amendment proposed by his noble Friend. His noble Friend had twitted him for having, as he termed it, been the bearer of a message from the House of Commons. He took all that had fallen from his noble Friend in good part; but, at the same time, he must be allowed to disclaim having been the bearer of "a message from the Commons." He had supposed—and it did not appear to him that the supposition was an unreasonable one—that the opinion of a noble Lord who had recently been officially connected with Ireland, and who did not habitually act with the party by which the measure was supported, might have some weight with many of their Lordships, who were unacquainted with the state of Ireland: under these circumstances, he thought himself justified in stating to their Lordships, that he had ascertained from conversation with his noble Friend, who had permitted him to mention the circumstance, that in consequence of information which he had received from Ireland since the present clause was under discussion, he had seen reason to change the opinion which he then entertained respecting it. He would now advert to the 580 impression which the adoption of the Amendment was calculated to make upon the minds of the people of Ireland. His noble Friend (Lord Stanley), far from evading that consideration, had, with that courage and disregard for difficulties which so pre-eminently distinguished him, called upon the House to despise and disregard all that they had heard of the impediments which lay in the way of such a proposal as that before them. He had said that their Lordships should not be intimidated from carrying it out, merely because they were told that it would be almost impossible. He seemed to think it more creditable that their Lordships should pass it for the very reason of the difficulties and impediments which surrounded it. It would not, however, be unbecoming in their Lordships to reflect calmly upon the effect which might be produced upon the people of Ireland by altering the clause in the manner proposed by his noble Friend. If, after having largely increased the number of ex-officio guardians, the Legislature were to deprive the occupying tenants of the right of deducting any portion of the rate from the amount of their rent, the guardians would be placed in a very invidious position. It might be that, in England, charges of this nature, though they ultimately came out of the land, would in the first instance be borne by the tenant; but, if a similar course were now to be pursued in Ireland, the occupier would see in it only this—that a burden bad been removed from the landlord and placed upon him; and the result would be, that the hostile feeling which already prevailed in many parts of Ireland against the ex-officio guardians, would be seriously aggravated. His noble Friend dwelt at some length upon the difference between the gross and set annual value for the various poor-law unions paid by the landlords; and it appeared to him (the Earl of St. Germans) that he greatly exaggerated their proportions; for, if noble Lords would take the trouble to look at a Parliamentary return which was laid upon the Table of both Houses in 1843, and headed "Parliamentary Electors," they would find a return from every union by the Poor Law Commissioners, showing the difference between the gross and the net annual value of the property rated, from which it appeared that the average did not exceed 18 per cent. It was not his wish that the difference, whatever might be its amount, should continue; but he begged to remind their Lordships, that if parties represented 581 to the Poor Law Commissioners that their property was unfairly valued, a new valuation would take place. It should also be borne in mind that a new general valuation, upon a just principle, was now in progress in Ireland, and would be completed in a few years. The Amendment proposed by his noble Friend was open to this further objection—that it would place the grasping, avaricious landlord on the same footing with the liberal landlord. In anticipation of the present discussion, he had endeavoured to make himself acquainted with the arguments which he supposed had been urged against the principle of the clause now objected to when the Irish Poor Relief Bill was brought up to their Lordships' House in 1841. For that purpose he had looked at the record usually referred to in such cases; but what was his surprise at not being able to find a syllable upon the subject. The measure, as a whole, was vehemently opposed. The strongest denunciations were uttered against it. The very words which, on the present occasion, had rung in their Lordships' ears —"confiscation," "revolution," "rebellion"—these were all lavishly employed on that occasion; but not one syllable was said against the mode of levying the rate which was now deemed so objectionable. The noble Earl (the Earl of Wicklow) had indeed spoken upon the subject of the limitation to 51. valuation; but the assertion of the noble Earl was not that it was too low; on the contrary, he then complained that it was too high, and that the rating ought to commence at a much higher amount of valuation; and the noble Earl had also urged that the rate ought to be paid by the landlord, and not by the tenant. Failing, therefore, to find anything upon the subject of the present assertions and arguments in the Upper House, he had referred to the debates in the other House of Parliament, and there he had been more successful. He found that Mr. O'Connell had moved to omit the clause, and to substitute for it a rate upon the landlords, and not upon the occupier. That hon. Gentleman argued at some length upon the injustice of the proposition, and his views were supported, not by the popular party, but by an hon. Friend of his (the Earl of St. Germans), whose opinions were much respected and looked up to—Mr. Lucas, the Member for Monaghan—who said that he—"quite agreed with the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, that in a variety of cases the 582 working of this clause would be found to be surrounded with difficulties. The first was, that the occupier, who was generally a person very little above a state of destitution himself, was to be called upon to advance the amount of this rate for his landlord. English gentlemen ought not to suppose that they had to do with rich substantial farmers, to whom a trifling outlay was a matter of no consequence. But, even where one-half of the rate was to be paid by the occupier, he would be subject to great hardships, inasmuch as if the county cess collector was also to collect the poor rate, the occupier had to pay the rate long before the period he was usually called on to pay his rent. The hon. Member concluded by stating his intention of moving a proviso to remove the payment from the occupier.Colonel Conolly, an Irish landlord, whose opinions were entitled to great respect, and could not be charged with being actuated by a desire to sacrifice the interests of his brother landlords, said that—"he agreed with what had fallen from the hon. Member for Dublin, and considered that the demand ought to be made on the person who was finally liable to the rate. The House by this clause was reversing the principle adopted with respect to tithes, and which was found to work so beneficially for the peace of the country. He agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan, that it would he peculiarly hard to call upon the occupier to advance the amount of this rate, when he was excused by the operations of this Bill from contributing anything himself. He thought entering into collision with the pauperism of the country was one of the causes of all the scenes that had unfortunately taken place in Ireland; and he implored the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland to weigh well the recommendations thrown out by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin and his hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan, and not throw the burden of this rate upon those who had not the means at command to meet it,The same view of the subject was taken by Mr. Redington, Mr. Jephson, and Mr. Shaw. Thus, then, it appeared that in one House the question which now occupied their Lordships' consideration was never alluded to, whilst in the other a proposition was made to make the clause apply with greater stringency to the landlord. He might be permitted to refer to the report of the Committee on townland valuation in Ireland, which sat in 1844, and to the evidence given before it by Mr. Gulson, Mr. Muggeridge, and Mr. Senior, the assistant poor law commissioners. That Committee, in its report, begged the House to consider whether the principle of apportioning the burthen of the rate between landlord and occupant, adopted in the Poor Relief Act, should not be extended to county cess and other local taxes? That was an additional authority 583 for retaining the clause as it stood. He entertained a very strong opinion as to the impolicy of the Amendment, as he believed that it would deprive the Bill of that prospect of success which would otherwise attend it when it became the law of the land in Ireland. The Bill before their Lordships proposed to make a great and important change in the social condition of Ireland; and he trusted that they would have sufficient wisdom to pass it unclogged by an addition which would deprive it of any reasonable hope of success.
§ The EARL of MALMESBURY
said, that although the noble Earl had quoted the opinions of Colonel Conolly and other Members of the House of Commons on this question, he would not take further notice of the arguments used in another place than to state that they had not influenced him. He should now explain as briefly as possible the reasons which induced him to support the Amendment of his noble Friend. He was an English landowner, and had neither an acre of land in Ireland nor any experience of that country, but he felt that the Amendment proposed by his noble Friend involved a direct principle, and was not a point of detail. He, along with the great body of the people of England, was favourable to, and indeed anxious for, the establishment of a Poor Law in Ireland. He was willing to give credit to Her Majesty's Government for the sincerity of their intentions to promote the well-being of Ireland; but he claimed equal credit for himself and those around him. When the present English Poor Law was brought in, it was supported by the most eminent Members of the then Government; and the principle involved in that measure was, that the occupier should pay the rates. The principle which he conceived common sense called for was, that the rates should be taken from the produce of the land; and how could that be better done than by going to the fountain-head, namely, the producer? He believed the farmers of England would be sorry to see the system changed in England: why then adopt a different course with regard to Ireland? No reasonable excuse had been used in that House for this difference, besides the assertion that there would be found great difficulty in making the occupiers in Ireland pay rates. Was it meant to be asserted that the occupiers could not afford to pay them, or that they would not do so? 584 He was not to be told that they could not pay the rates, for they would be smaller in amount than the rents they now paid. If he was told that they would not pay them, he could only observe that such a state of things involved consequences of the most serious nature. No enemy of Ireland had ever paid a worse compliment to the people of that country than to say of them that they would resist the payment of rates for the maintenance of their destitute fellow-countrymen; and he might observe, that it by no means followed that because the Catholics of Ireland refused to pay for the support of the Protestant clergymen in that country, their Lordships should refuse to pass a measure which would have the effect of administering relief to their starving fellow-men. He had often expressed his regret at the distinctions and differences which existed between the laws of England and Ireland. If they continued to legislate for the people of the latter country as they had done, they could not expect improvement. If, however, they legislated for them as they ought to do, there would be some chance of the regeneration of that people. If they did not take away the temptation to possess extremely small holdings of land, how could they improve the system of agriculture? As long as they neglected to assimilate as nearly as possible the laws of the two countries, they would, year after year, be falling into the greatest mischiefs. Would they insult the people of Ireland by telling them that the laws under which the people of this country lived with so much comfort were unfit for them, or rather that they were unfit for such laws? As long as they refused to assimilate the laws of the two countries, England and Ireland might be kingdoms ruled over by the same Sovereign, and though they might he born on the same day—though they might continue to be twins, yet they never could be sisters.
The EARL of WICKLOW
said, that on a former occasion he had urged their Lordships to give to the tenants an equivalent to the poor-law rate, by throwing upon the landlords the whole burden of the tithes; but it was a very different thing to adopt that principle at the time of the first introduction of a Poor Law into Ireland, and to follow it now. In his opinion it would be most inexpedient to do so at the present moment; and if their Lordships did adopt the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, prejudices would be raised in Ireland against that class, against whom, as their 585 Lordships were aware, very strong prejudices already existed in this country, and the working of the measure would be materially affected. It would create confusion and embarrassment; and, having that opinion, he called upon their Lordships to reject the Amendment.
The ARCHBISHOP of DUBLIN
said, he would not detain their Lordships with any discussion of this question, which had been so well discussed already by abler debaters than himself; but as he did not intend to support the Amendment, he thought it right to state that it was not because he at all dissented from the principles the noble Lord had laid down, for he believed them to be sound and right, but because he doubted the propriety of the application of those principles at the present time to Ireland. It was with great reluctance he should oppose the Amendment; but he really feared that the prejudices—in many points unreasonable prejudices—which by the numerous communications he daily received from Ireland he was informed existed against it were such, that the adoption of that one alteration would defeat altogether the working of the Bill. He was exceedingly unwilling to legislate for groundless prejudices; but he solemnly assured their Lordships, that he was really desirous that this Bill might have a fair trial — that no unnecessary impediment should be thrown in its way, even for the assertion of what he called a sound principle; and he was especially anxious that if there were any defect in the measure as it now stood, the cause of it might be seen and rectified before long — in other words, that the failure of the Bill in some points might not be attributed to this clause, and their views consequently misdirected as to the proper remedy for those defects. With the principle of the Amendment he agreed, because he thought it sound and fair; for ultimately, in the long run, the rate must be paid by the landlord, inasmuch as he took the surplus after the payment of all expenses; part of which consisted of the labour bestowed upon the land, and part of the rates. But supposing that all other difficulties which had been adverted to as to the existing state of leases could be got over, he did not think that the Irish tenantry were in such a state of purse or mind that they could be persuaded that they were not called upon to pay more; or to pay an additional rate over and above what they paid now. If that feeling were so strong, be it ever so unreasonable, they must take care not to urge them into such a state of 586 irritable resistance as might impede the working of a Bill that might otherwise work well. If Ireland were in a sound state, and the tenantry possessed more knowledge and more capital, and took a better view of their own interest, he had no doubt that the Amendment would be extremely beneficial; but the tenantry and farmers of Ireland wore different from those of this country. In England they were intelligent, and frequently took better views of a question than others of a higher class. He would just mention an occasion in which he had found that to be the case. In that union in England in which he had taken a large part in the management of the affairs of the poor, he found generally that the farmers took better and sounder views, and were more vigilant observers, and better judges of the real state of the poor, than the gentry and clergy. On one occasion he had brought forward a measure for the better management of the affairs of the union. He set forth his views before the guardians, who were mostly farmers, and they were almost unanimous in favour of it; but the governors, who consisted chiefly of the gentry and clergy, opposed it. It was, however, carried by a majority of one, and the result was a saving of 1,600l. a year to the parish. He had no doubt that, if they had a tenantry in Ireland such as they had in England, it would be in all respects safest, and wisest, and most beneficial to themselves, if they were the immediate payers of the rates; but such was the state of things there, that he would not venture to add one more peril to what he could not but regard as the very perilous experiment of this Bill.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, he could not understand the ground upon which this Amendment was opposed. They were told that it was right in theory, and the argument used against its adoption was the difficulty of its administration; and that difficulty was, that the people would not quite understand it. His belief was, that the intelligent men of Ireland understood it very well, and that the large body of farmers would readily turn round and say, "We shall be very happy to take leases at reduced rents, with the chance of keeping down the poor rates by finding profitable employment for the poor.'' The noble Marquess said, that they would never be able to make the tenants understand that making them pay the rates was not imposing the burden on them; but if they could not make that calculation, then with so helpless a tenantry it was impossible 587 they could expect that anything could be well managed. By the present law, charity was afforded to the sick and infirm, and to those who could not work; but it was now proposed to levy rates for the maintenance of those who could work. If the tenants had directly to pay the rates, they would calculate whether it was not better for them to employ the poor, instead of having them chargeable on the poor rates. It was said, that this measure had been propounded in consequence of the immense influx of Irish paupers into England, and with a view to prevent it; but it was upon that very principle that he supported the Amendment, for he felt persuaded that if they wished to keep Irish labour in Ireland, they must make it the interest of the Irish occupier to do so; and the only way to do that was, by making it his interest to maintain the poor upon the land rather than by the rates. Looking at this measure as a great experiment, which they were going to try for the first time, it was of great importance that they should proceed upon a sound principle; and if they did that, whatever difficulty there might be in the application, it would be found ultimately to be of the greatest possible advantage.
The EARL of ROSEBERY
said, that although he felt very anxious as to the fate of the Amendment proposed, to which he was extremely hostile, he had not intended to trouble the House with any remarks, till he heard what fell from the noble Lord who spoke last. He had stated so erroneously both what was the law, and what the practice in Scotland in rating for the relief of the poor in that country, and had drawn inferences, and recommended measures, in this respect, so much the reverse of real facts, that an erroneous impression would prevail in the House, if the matter was not correctly explained. The old general law of Scotland in assessing for the poor, directed that half the amount should be levied on the owner, and half On the tenant. The Poor Law Amendment Act passed two years ago, authorized three modes of assessment or rating in Scotland; the first, by an equal division of the rate between landlord and tenant; another, by half being imposed on the owner, and the other half on all the inhabitants of a parish in proportion to the amount of the personal property of each; and a third, differing from either of the others, but still leaving an equal amount to be paid by the proprietor, by establishing an equal per centage on him, and all the other inhabit- 588 ants. But there was, also, this provision in the Act, that wherever either by local Act or by usage any other system of rating was followed, it might be continued with the sanction of the new Board of Supervision. Now, in several parishes a practice had prevailed of charging the whole rate on the landlord; and in many instances with which he was personally acquainted, that was still allowed, though he felt confident not a single one could be adduced where the whole charge was cast on the tenant. These facts, which he was sure could not be contradicted by any one acquainted accurately with the Scottish Poor Law, found a complete answer both to the conclusions and the recommendations of the noble Lord (Lord Redesdale). They also bore strongly against many of the arguments of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) who proposed the Amendment, who being a Cabinet Minister when the Scottish Poor Law Amendment Bill was submitted to Parliament, was responsible for enactments, contrary to the principle he was now advocating, and which he held to be essential to the proper or even safe administration of such a law. With regard to the clause moved, he would only say that, in his judgment, it would convert a measure not only beneficent, but wise in the circumstances of Ireland, though he would admit hazardous, into one mischievous, and leading to evils greater than the good sought to be accomplished by it. The throwing of the rate wholly on such a tenantry as the Irish, with their poverty and their habits, would inevitably first induce them to evade and ultimately to remit the payment of it; producing, and in a manner inviting, a recurrence of all the horrors of the former tithe system. Although thinking the Bill by its indirect action, which would convert paupers into labourers, as well as by its primary object in relieving the destitute, would prove a great ultimate good to Ireland, he had rather that it did not become law, than have the benefit crushed and overbalanced by the effects of this Amendment.
The EARL of CLANCARTY
said, that if the Bill remained as it now was, the noble Lord's Amendment might not be altogether objectionable; but he hoped that other provisions would be made, and that the Amendment of which he had himself given notice, would be adopted, so as to render the noble Lord's unnecessary; and as he did not wish now to prejudge his own Amendment, he would feel it his duty to leave the House unaided by any vote of his 589 upon the present question. There were some circumstances which, in his opinion, would militate against the adoption of the proposed clause; for if the Bill, or any material part of it, was to be temporary, it would be objectionable to introduce a new principle of rating. There was another objection to altering the mode of rating, because the boards of guardians, which were now based on the representation of the ratepayers, would, under this Bill, be altered to a board of nomination, and not of representation. He was grateful to the noble Lords who were landlords in England for advocating an union system of rating, and showing that they would not put upon others what they were not ready to bear themselves. The occupiers of land, however, were too small and too unenlightened to see the real consequences of the noble Lord's legislation; they would think that advantage had been taken of them; and he urged their Lordships not to aggravate any circumstances which tended to compromise the peace of the country. It was with great reluctance that he withheld his support from the noble Lord; but he would not anticipate the decision to which their Lordships might come on his own Amendment.
Although there has been much irrelevant matter introduced into this discussion, and much in which I do not concur, yet it would be affectation in me to deny that there has been much at which, as a public man, I must feel gratified—much at which I must feel satisfied as an individual; for although several noble Lords have intimated a determination of recording their votes against the Amendment which I have taken the liberty of suggesting, yet not one of your Lordships has in the course of this discussion spoken a single sentence questioning the soundness of the principles on which these clauses are framed—not one who has taken up the challenge which I respectfully threw out—not one has, in short, attempted to answer the arguments which I adduced in support of my Amendment. The most rev. Prelate whom I see opposite (the Archbishop of Dublin) has borne the strongest testimony to the soundness of my principles and the accuracy of my views; and after that admission, I confess the declaration of the most rev. Prelate came upon me by surprise, that in consequence of the impression which would be produced in Ireland if this Amendment were sanctioned, he must come to the con- 590 clusion to refuse his assent to a principle in which he entirely concurred. And my surprise is the greater, when I recollect the very strong speech made by the most rev. Prelate in the course of last year, in which he strongly exhorted your Lordships against being actuated or influenced by public clamour or popular excitement, but declared his determination to be solely guided by the dictates of experience; and when moreover I remember that even in the course of the present Session the most rev. Prelate has placed his veto upon the principle of out-door relief being applied to Ireland in any shape whatever. The noble Marquess who followed me (the Marquess of Lansdowne) did not controvert the soundness of my views; and my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Clancarty) admitted that my arguments in favour of the Bill were convincing, but declined voting for the Amendment, on grounds which seem to me to be of rather a remarkable character, for the noble Earl says that, supposing the Bill to remain as it is, and without further alteration, he conceives my Amendment would be not only wise and desirable, but actually essential — indispensable to the working of the Bill; but yet he declines to support it, upon what seems to me to be a very vague and unfounded expectation, namely, that Parliament will hereafter assent to a modification of the principle of the measure. My Lords, although, from the kindness with which you heard my statement at the commencement of this discussion, I am now unwilling to intrude long upon you, yet there are one or two points to which I wish briefly to allude. It has been objected by some noble Lords that the principle of the Irish Poor Law remains, in respect of rating, as it has done for the last five or six years, and therefore I am not justified in dissenting now from that in which I have heretofore concurred. Now, my Lords, I need hardly remind your Lordships, that this is, in point of fact, overlooking the very basis on which my argument rests. The Irish Poor Law, noble Lords say, has worked well hitherto. Granted, my Lords; but what has been the Irish Poor Law hitherto? Yes, I repeat, what has been the Irish Poor Law hitherto, and what do you now propose to make it? There is just this difference. Hitherto the administration of relief has been strictly within the workhouse, and has been mainly limited to the destitute poor; now it is proposed to extend it to the able- 591 bodied. That makes all the difference, my Lords. Do you think, my Lords, that had the operation of the present Bill been confined to the aged, the infirm, and the diseased, I would have brought forward these clauses? No, my Lords, I would have rested satisfied had the relief been confined to the existing distribution, although unjust; but my whole argument is, that under the distribution of the rate as proposed by this Bill, the occupier in Ireland, as the occupier in England, has not an interest in keeping down the rates by the employment of the labouring population; and it is by the employment of the labouring population alone that the rates can be kept down. But I will not dwell further on what must be so obvious. You are now, my Lords, called upon, for the first time, to grant relief to the able-bodied—out-door relief—in Ireland in a most extensive form; and therefore it is that I ask you to apply that which will be essential in the new state of the law, but which was not so requisite in the old. But not a word has been said, not an answer has been given to the question, How can you apply that principle to Ireland, which you could not with safety apply to England? How can that be safe in Ireland, which you will not venture to affirm will be safe in England? Now, these are the true points on which I rested the whole case. These are the true points upon which I have demanded an answer. But from the first to the last of this debate, I will not say that my arguments on these heads have been unanswered; but they have been altogether untouched, and an answer has not been attempted. But I am told that in the course of proceeding which I now oppose, I have acquiesced in the enactment of the Irish Poor Law. On the first introduction of that law, I thought it equitable to divide the rate between the proprietors and the tenants; and if now, as on the proposal of the Irish Poor Law, you were introducing a new law, imposing a burden irrespective of all existing contracts, I should think it fair to throw the burden on all classes. It has been said that the principle was applicable to the present state of Ireland. I deny that proposition. This I said, I repeat it, and I feel most deeply, that now you are about to apply, as a piece of permanent legislation, a dangerous and mischievous principle; I think that, in justice, you should lay down what all admit to be the sound principle. Let its application be as prospective as you please; but when you lay down the law, you should 592 say at the same time what the sound principle is, and when it should be practically adopted. The Poor Law of Scotland has been referred to, and a noble Earl has alluded to the part I took on that Bill. Now, in the early part of my speech, in opening my statement, I distinctly declared that if there were any place in which the principle of a division could be applied with safety, it was in Scotland. It is true that I was a member of the Cabinet when the Scotch Bill passed, but I took no active part in it; and there was nothing in the support I gave that measure inconsistent with the course I have taken to-night. But even if I were answerable for every word in the Scotch Poor Law, there is nothing in that which in the least invalidates my arguments. In the Scotch Poor Law, legally I believe, practically I know, outdoor relief is not given to the able-bodied. By the Scotch law, there is nothing whatever to prevent the landlord and tenant from entering into an agreement whereby one or other may bear the whole weight of the poor rate. In Ireland, upon the other hand, the enactment not only does not admit of such an arrangement, but actually renders it illegal to enter into a covenant whereby the tenant is answerable for the whole of the poor rates without a corresponding reduction from the rent. My Lords, I will not much longer trespass on your time. I feel that a great majority of your Lordships will withhold your assent from my Amendment, although I fear your decision will be a most unhappy one for the prosperity and welfare of Ireland. My Lords, I deeply regret this, because the arguments which were used by those who have taken part in this debate in opposition to the course which I have suggested, show that you perceive this measure will be fatal to the improvement of the condition of Ireland—that you acquiesce in her continued humiliation and degradation, and bar the way which is now open to the fairest and best prospects of her continued and advancing prosperity. But, my Lords, if I feel this, I still more deeply feel the language and the tone on which the opposition to this measure is founded. I think that this measure, which you have decided to be sound in principle, just, and equitable— [The Marquess of CLANRICARDE: "No, no!"] Why, my Lords, who at the commencement of the debate disputed this principle? It is easy now for noble Lords at the close of an argument to say "No, no;" but I should have been better pleased 593 if, in the course of the debate, the noble Lord had ventured to say that the principle was unsound, and had proved his position by argument, which would have enabled me to meet him by counterarguments. My Lords, I have heard none. Not one of your Lordships has contended that this principle is not sound and wise. I deeply regret that to this at least generally admitted sound principle, the opposition should be vested on grounds so low—pardon me if I call it so cowardly—as the difficulty and the risk of introducing it into Ireland. I think it is a most fatal declaration of the most rev. Prelate, that we ought on this occasion to be guided, not by what is felt to be the dictates of reason and justice, but that we ought to be guided by the prejudices, nay, the most rev. Prelate went so far as to say that he admitted that they were the unfounded prejudices, of the Irish people. I regret to see what I feel is the determination of a majority of your Lordships to reject this clause. I regret it the more deeply because I see from those who have addressed your Lordships, that every Peer who is connected personally with Ireland acquiesces in the view which is taken by what I feel is the majority of your Lordships' House. I remember the time when, with deep regret, I was compelled to differ on some questions from those with whom I had formerly great satisfaction in acting; and even now, if I could hope by any arguments or any inducements in my power to persuade your Lordships to adopt a bolder, and because a bolder, therefore a safer course—no personal considerations, no suggestions, would induce me now to withdraw my opposition. But when I cannot doubt that the majority of your Lordships intend to requiesce in this Bill as it stands—when I see you consider it not expedient to adopt this Amendment, then, my Lords, I bow to the opinion which I cannot doubt to be general. I will not, for the mere purpose of recording votes, give your Lordships the trouble of dividing; and I trust that those of your Lordships who would have done me the honour of supporting me on this occasion—whose sentiments accord with mine with regard to the principle and policy of this measure—I trust you will not think that I am exercising an unwise discretion in declining to give the House the trouble of an unnecessary division, if your Lordships would permit me, with all espect, but, at the same time, with a full and entire conviction of the truth and the soundness of the principle, to withdraw 594 this Amendment which I have placed in your Lordships' hands. At the same time, so strongly do I feel as to the soundness of my views—so firmly am I persuaded of the evil consequences which will result from the rejection of this Amendment, that as the present proceedings will not appear on your Lordships' Journals, I beg to state that I shall feel it my duty for the sake of form, and only for the sake of form, to move this Amendment again on the bring-up of the report, though I shall not give your Lordships the trouble either of a division or of discussion; but I wish it to appear on your Lordships' Journals that such an Amendment has been proposed, as I fear that, in future, its soundness will be more and more apparent.
The ARCHBISHOP of DUBLIN
claimed the indulgence of their Lordships while he corrected a mistake into which the noble Lord had fallen. The noble Lord had ascribed to him a sentiment the very reverse of that which he had advanced. So far from being the advocate of political expediency, or of having come forward as the champion of it, he had always considered that nothing could be expedient but what was founded in reason and in justice; and he had to the utmost of his power, and according to his judgment, been the advocate of what he considered to be expedient for the general good.
said, that if he had misunderstood the most rev. Prelate, he was quite ready to acknowledge his error. At all events, he hoped he had not misrepresented or misunderstood that which had fallen from almost every noble Lord tonight.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
was desirous of expressing his dissent from the statement of the noble Lord (Lord Stanley), that his arguments had not been controverted, nor the principle of his Amendment objected to. Most certainly he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) considered that those arguments had been controverted in the course of the debate; and if he had availed himself of an opportunity of addressing their Lordships earlier, he should have directed his arguments against the principles which the noble Lord had laid down. He maintained that those principles were not in any degree sound as applied to Ireland; and he could quote the noble Lord's own eloquent words to show upon what different grounds and principles their Lordships ought to legislate for that country, owing to the difference of the law 595 between landlord and tenant in Ireland and in England. The only sound argument advanced in support of the Amendment, was advanced entirely upon a wrong principle. It was contended, that this was a measure for giving employment to the poor of Ireland. He denied that proposition. It was a Poor Law Bill, and that was the whole principle involved in it. Dissenting as he did from the principle laid down by the noble Lord, he had not sought an opportunity to enter into the many points which had been touched upon by the noble Lord, because he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) foresaw, at an earlier period than the noble Lord did, that a great majority of their Lordships were against the Amendment.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
§ Clause 29, respecting accounts of expenditure, was agreed to.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
then proposed a Clause enacting that certain clauses (four in number) in the Bill should be in operation for a time thereinafter limited. The noble Lord was understood to suggest that the clause should be inserted in the Bill, and be considered on the bringing up of the report.
had never, since he had had the honour of a seat in their Lordships' House, been more astonished than at the course just taken by his noble Friend. His noble Friend proposed the insertion of a clause, declaring that certain portions of the Bill should be enacted for a time thereinafter limited, without stating what that limitation should be. Neither in an English nor in an Irish Parliament was there any precedent for such a proceeding. Considering the Parliamentary experience of his noble Friend, this proposal would certainly not redound to his reputation as a Parliamentary leader. He was a little surprised at his noble Friend having introduced his first clause at the beginning of the Bill, declaring that the Bill should be in operation for a time therein to be limited; but now his noble Friend came forward with a second clause at the end of the Bill, enacting that certain foregoing clauses should be permanent, and others temporary. It reminded him of Sir Walter Scott's description of Melrose Abbey—that it was all "buttress, and buttress of ebon and ivory." Were the Committee to send up such a report, it would stultify itself; he must therefore most earnestly implore his noble Friend to reconsider the course he had adopted. His 596 noble Friend appeared to have been muck at a loss to fix upon any particular period. At one time he had proposed a year; but that would have been just one year short of the period fixed by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) for the commencement of the operation of his own Amendment. The noble Lord's Amendment was to begin in 1850, while his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) proposed that the Bill should expire on the 1st of January, 1849. Such were the proceedings of those who were opposing this Bill! However, it was indispensably necessary that some period should be fixed by his noble Friend.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
said, that what he originally proposed was, that the chairman should report progress, which he thought would have been a convenient course for all parties; but he would now move that the clause be added to the Bill.
The EARL of SHAFTESBURY
(Chairman of the Committee) read the clause, which provided that certain clauses in the Bill should be in operation till the 1st of September, 1850, and no longer.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
wished everything to be done regularly. He would not say anything either as assenting or dissenting from the Amendment; but merely assented to its being introduced into the Bill for the information of their Lordships, that it might be discussed on a future occasion.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
was of opinion that any attempt to limit to a definite period certain clauses of the Bill, while they left the remaining clauses unlimited, could only be attended with the most mischievous effects.
§ EARL GREY
was surprised to hear that declaration from his noble Friend; for on a former evening the vote of his noble Friend had been given in favour of a proposition, the inevitable tendency of which would be to bring about those results now described by his noble Friend as mischievous. Having gone through Committee, and having made some clauses permanent, while others were to cease to operate within a certain period, it would be contrary to common sense if they did not now name the period when these latter clauses should terminate. He would leave it to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley) and his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) to fight the battle between them, whether the period should be one, two, or three years; no one could suppose that when they had once intro- 597 duced the principle of out-door relief in Ireland, they would ever succeed, even if they dared to make the attempt, in putting an end to the system. He trusted, however, they would have the opportunity, before this measure became law, of reconsidering this most important question.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
protested that his only object was, to make the Bill work in a manner as beneficial as possible to the country.
The ARCHBISHOP of DUBLIN
thought that it was a wise policy to limit the operation of the new principle, that of outdoor relief, which they were about to apply to Ireland; and he did not see anything inconsistent in making permanent those parts of the measure not necessarily connected with this new principle. There could be no objection to their legislating permanently on principles already recognised; while there was the greatest possible objection to adopting, unless they had previously made an experiment, principles but imperfectly understood, and, when carried out, confessedly attended with danger.
The MARQUESS of WESTMEATH
considered that the limitation of the Bill was due to the feelings of the people and the fears of the landlords.
The EARL of WICKLOW
stated, that the principal object he had in view in bringing forward the Motion of which he had given notice, to limit the operation of the whole Bill to three years, was, to insure the attention of Parliament being early called to the effect of such a comprehensive measure on the condition of the people. He had no wish at all to injure the Bill.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
suggested that the Motion should be deferred until the report was brought up.
§ Amendments postponed.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
then moved the Amendment which had been the subject of conversation on a former evening, and which he had delayed introducing at the request of the noble Marquess, the object of which was to provide an effectual preventive against rates being made auxiliary to the payment of rents or wages.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
suggested that the noble Lord should allow his clause to be printed, and take the discussion upon it on the bringing up of the report.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
had no objection to this proposal, and accordingly withdrew the clause for the present.
§ House resumed. Bill reported.
§ House adjourned.