§ Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Amendments read.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
said, he had to state to their Lordships, that when they had in Committee on this Bill, after considerable deliberation, determined upon the general expediency of fixing a limit to the duration of the Bill, to effect which alterations were to be adopted in various parts of the Bill, as should be suggested by the mover, he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had declared, in order that he might not take the House by surprise, that he reserved to himself the power of taking any course he might think proper on a subsequent stage of the Bill. Their Lordships having now come to the proper stage, it was his duty to state to them, that, retaining the opinion he had expressed in the Committee, he must now propose to strike out of the Bill all expressions which were intended to fix a limit to the Bill and to give it a temporary character. In making this proposal, it was not necessary for him to enter into any detail of the arguments which had been deduced in favour of the one course or the other. The arguments, indeed, on either side, would be found to be in a very narrow compass. It was alleged by noble Lords who were desirous of fixing a limit to the Bill, that it was a new measure, and that it was in a great degree experimental. He concurred in all those opinions; but he had stated in the Committee, and he repeated now, that, while 795 he admitted the experimental character of anything so new and so difficult, still he objected to any fixing of a limit which would bind the discretion of Government and of the Parliament as to the precise period when the question should be reconsidered. For these very reasons, because he did consider the importance of the Bill—because they were not able to appreciate exactly the difficulties which they might have to encounter—because of the length of time which might be required to consider those difficulties; he had to state to their Lordships, if they meant to give a fair trial to this measure—if they did not wish to overturn it, or to invite opposition and difficulties—they would reserve to themselves the power of reconsidering the Bill at any time, and at any period, with the view of effecting any improvement in its composition which might suggest itself. He thought that, consistently with reserving to themselves that full power, it was impossible not to see the inconvenience of compelling, at a particular and fixed period, the reconsideration. When he saw among noble Lords who were anxious to fix the period, that they were very long before they could agree among themselves as to the exact period to be determined on—when he saw that some wished for a year, some a year and a half, some three years, and that some preferred five years, he saw in these various opinions full proof that it could not be confidently anticipated when the reconsideration ought to take place, and that the time fixed might be the very period when it was most desirable not to enter upon the subject. If the Bill were to be brought into action in Ireland with any prospect of success, it must be in the confident expectation that, in principle at least, it was to be a permanent measure; otherwise they would see a disposition openly to resist it, or, if not to resist, at any rate to thwart it, and to render it in-effective. If the Bill were to operate as their Lordships intended, and as the House of Commons meant when they passed it, it must be as a permanent measure, subject to revision, as all such measures were; but they ought to give it a fair chance—it ought to have a fair trial; and the Legislature ought to choose the time for its reconsideration. Upon these grounds, without going further into the arguments, he would move that their Lordships disagree to the Amendments giving a temporary character to the measure. The noble Marquess then moved, in the 1st Clause, to 796 disagree to the Amendment made by the Committee inserting the words "during a time to be hereinafter limited."
said, that he retained the opinion he had formerly expressed in favour of making this measure not permanent, but temporary; and he must say, with the greatest possible respect for the noble Marquess, if he had not heard him say that he was about to move the omission of the words in the clause, he protested he should have thought his noble Friend had been arguing in favour of the course the Committee had taken. The Amendment was to limit the time when they would exercise their discretion; but it did not follow that they would at the end of the period fixed so exercise it, because in the meantime it might be found expedient to protract the period for some years longer. The noble Marquess admitted that they were going to make an experiment, which was full of hazard, and one encompassed about with peril. Now, when it was admitted to be an experiment hazardous and perilous in its nature, could there be any objection to their Lordships binding themselves, in the face of the country, to reconsider it, at all events, within a certain period? And for what? To ascertain whether the trial fortified the conclusions of some in favour of the measure, or impeached the strength of the reasons of others against the measure. Could any man's imagination picture anything more proper? By making the Bill temporary, it would be imperative on their Lordships to reconsider it. But then he was told that it was not giving the measure fair play. He was unable to understand that favourite phrase as applied to a measure of this description. If it were enacted for two years, it would be law for that time; and if it were found capable of being executed for twenty years, no doubt it would continue law for twenty years; but he did not believe it could be executed for twenty months; others thought, not at all. Could there be any objection to its being limited in duration, that it might be known whether it was capable of being executed or no? The Poor Law of 1834 was temporary as to the appointment of the Commissioners; and did any one then charge the promoters of that clause with a want of fair play? The noble Marquess had said, that giving this measure a limited duration would make the people of Ireland indifferent to its being properly carried into effect; his (Lord Brougham's) opinion, on 797 the contrary, Was, that the Irish were much more likely to acquiesce in and put up with the difficulties of the law, when they knew there was to be a limit to its duration.
observed, that if this had been the Amendment which the noble Earl behind him (the Earl of Wick-low) had given notice of moving—that the whole Bill should be in force for three or five years and no longer, whether right or wrong, it would have been a perfectly regular and Parliamentary course; but what was the Amendment of his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle)? He, in the same Bill, enacted that one clause should be perpetual, and another temporary. Their Lordships would be astonished when he pointed out a few of the incongruities and absurdities which would result from such an Amendment. The material enactment of this Bill was for extending the provisions of the original Poor Law in Ireland. Clause 1 enabled the guardians to grant relief to the lame and impotent out of the workhouse; Clause 2 gave power to the guardians (under the authority of the Commissioners) to grant relief, for a term not exceeding two months, out of the workhouse, even to the able-bodied; then another Clause allowed the relieving officer to give provisional relief before the guardians had been consulted; and there was a fourth Clause, allowing medical relief and medicine to be given out of the workhouse. These were the four extensions of the original Irish Relief Bill, and those four modes of relief were by separate clauses made temporary; but how did the rest of the Bill, the permanent clauses, correspond with these temporary enactments? Clauses 1 and 2 were both made temporary; but Clause 3 was a permanent clause, which enacted that the Poor Law Commissioners should from time to time, as they thought fit, determine the manner in which applications should be made for all relief to be given under the Act, and also the manner in which inquiry should be made into the circumstances of the applicants, and the kind of relief which should be afforded out of the workhouse.
Out of the workhouse! This clause was universal, and the words were, "out of the workhouse." What miserable, piebald legislation was this! The Commissioners' power to prescribe the manner in which out-door relief was to be given, was by this clause made 798 permanent, while by other clauses out-door relief, as far as regarded the able-bodied, was to be temporary, and also as far as regarded the provisional relief by the relieving officer. So also with regard to medical assistance and the supplying of medicine. Then go to the 10th Clause: the marginal abstract was in these words—"How cost of out-door relief shall be charged." This was a permanent clause; therefore the Commissioners would have the power of providing for the cost of out-door relief after the year 1850, although all out-door relief was to cease on the 1st of September, 1850. In short, there were contained in the Bill several clauses most pointedly and elaborately describing what was to be done by the Commissioners after the substratum of their power was utterly gone. He did trust that their Lordships, without any prejudice to the Amendment which the noble Earl (the Earl of Wicklow) was about to propose, would without hesitation reject the Amendment which his noble Friend (Lord Monteagle) had introduced into the Bill in Committee.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
hoped their Lordships would, in fairness, allow him to explain the nature of the Amendment which he had proposed, and the intention with which he proposed it. In the first place, however, he would set his noble Friend right with respect to a matter of fact. His noble Friend made a mistake when he stated that medical out-door relief was, by the Amendment, made temporary. The fact was not so. That relief was made permanent by the Bill, and he (Lord Monteagle) loft it so; and his reason was this —he had always drawn a broad line of distinction between that relief which could be given, not only consistently with charitable feeling, but with sound principle and wisdom; a relief which did not tend to increase the evil, but to diminish it. He had always distinguished that description of relief from that relief to the able-bodied, which, in his opinion, aggravated rather than alleviated the condition of the people. The Act provided, that during the period of three years out-door relief should be given, under the instructions of the Commissioners; and the clause providing for this was supposed to be inconsistent with the clause to which the noble and learned Lord referred. But that clause only provided, that during the time out-door relief was to be given, the Poor Law Commissioners should have the power of controlling and carrying it into effect. This was 799 the whole of the inconsistency which had been discovered by the noble and learned Lord; and, with respect to the other provisions, the objections would be found to be precisely of a similar character. On a former occasion, when his noble and learned Friend, with the same amount of indignation, denounced very strongly all the numberless anomalies into which he said he (Lord Monteagle) had fallen, he took the liberty to call their Lordships' attention to the fact, that they had already many precedents in the legislation of this empire where parts of Acts were made temporary, and parts perpetual. He alluded, for instance, to the renewal of the Bank Charter Act, and showed that that Act, being temporary in its duration, contained clauses which were of a permanent character. In fact, the whole of the usury laws of the country were modified by one clause in that Act. The East India Charter Act had also a clause in it that was perpetual, though a measure of a temporary nature; and many other instances might be given, to show that what he had done on this occasion was, in point of fact, no novelty among persons dealing with the work of legislation. The noble Lord the President of the Council had stated that his Amendment limiting the operation of the Bill as to time, would endanger the working of the whole Bill. Now, he believed they could not take a step more calculated to defeat the object of the Bill than to legislate permanently. There was not one among their Lordships who had expressed perfect confidence in the principle of the Bill, except the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies, who had said, that if the principle of out-door relief was once enacted, they would never have it in their power to get quit of it again. With the exception of that noble Earl, not one of their Lordships had expressed confidence in the principle of out-door relief; and he, therefore, called upon their Lordships to act up to their convictions, and to deal with the country justly and rightly. If they believed that the Bill contained within it the principles of permanence, and that it would be successful as regarded the object contemplated, then they would act rightly in giving it their support; but if they did not believe that it would he so—if they were groping in the dark, and regarded this as merely the trial of an experiment—then he called upon them to look to the interests of the country which the Bill referred to, and not to legislate permanently—to have a due 800 regard to their own characters, and not fix down for ever upon Ireland a measure in which they had no confidence, and which propounded an experiment which he would designate as frightful. He was not wedded to his own particular proposal. Whether the period was for three or five years, was to him a matter of comparatively little moment; and if the proposition of his noble Friend (the Earl of Wicklow) was adopted by the House, he should feel perfectly satisfied. In considering the importance of this measure, they now had to look to the probable state of Ireland for several years to come. No man could believe—even supposing the most sanguine anticipations of agriculturists were to be realized—that the next year would be anything but a year of great suffering and difficulty in Ireland. Not even for three years did he believe that Ireland could expect to be extricated from her difficulties. If so, then this Bill would be applied just at a time when they would have the sympathies of the whole country in its favour—when all parties would be most interested in its success. It had been said, that his object in proposing this Amendment was to defeat the Bill itself; but it was no such thing; his sole object was to insure to their Lordships and the other House of Parliament the reconsideration of the Bill at the end of three years. There were two living witnesses to whom he wished to appeal as to the nature of the risk their Lordships were about to run in the present experiment. The first Poor Law for Ireland, which was introduced upon the ground of there being no provision for out-door relief, was opposed by no one more strongly than the noble Lord near him (the Marquess of Clanricarde). That noble Lord had opposed the Bill from the first; and, in 1843, after he had experienced its working, he declared that all the evils that had been anticipated relative to the measure had been realized, and that the expenses were so great that it was impossible for that unfortunate country to bear them. He would also call another noble Friend (the Earl of St. Germans) as a witness to the danger of this measure, and would quote his testimony, given at a time when he was to a certain extent responsible for the government of Ireland. The noble Earl said he could not concur in a proposition for out-door relief, as he believed it would be "evil in its consequences, and ultimately destroy the property of the country." On the subject of out-door relief, the noble Marquess (the 801 Marquess of Clanricarde) had stated, that such a system would be a "confiscation of property which no man would have the hardihood to propose." Now they had the same system which they were formerly told no man would have the hardihood to propose, and which would amount to confiscation of property, proposed to their Lordships, and supported by the noble Marquess. He would ask their Lordships not to forget the principles on which all sound legislation should proceed; and, while they were making an experiment, the dangers of which they admitted, to pause before they fixed that experiment on the principle laid down in this Bill. It had been said by another noble and learned Lord (Lord Campbell), that many of their Lordships did not know for what they were voting when the question was formerly before them; but he believed, that if ever a subject was calmly and dispassionately discussed, it was this subject when last brought under the attention of their Lordships. He asked them to support now the vote then given. He was aware that there were circumstances connected with that House that would give an advantage in the vote over the proceedings which had taken place in Committee; but still he had that confidence in their Lordships which led him to believe that they would maintain the ground they formerly occupied.
The MARQUESS of CLANRICARDE
was surprised to hear a noble and learned Lord talk about reconsidering the principle of the Bill, when it must be evident to every one that the object of the Amendment was precisely that they should not consider the main principle of the Bill. The Amendment of the noble Earl behind him (the Earl of Wicklow) applied to the whole Bill; but that of the noble Lord (Lord Monteagle) practically left out all the parts of the Bill in which the main principle was involved; so that all who voted for the Amendment voted against the principle of the Bill, which was out-door relief. He had already admitted that no one had been more opposed than he had been to the introduction of the present poor-law system for Ireland; and if he was again placed in the same circumstances, he would again oppose it on the same grounds. He had then advocated the alternative which had then been open to the Legislature, and he had urged the adoption of that other system which had been recommended by the Commission of 1836, and which, had it been carried out on a 802 large scale, would have conferred incalculable benefits on Ireland. But a part of that very system would have been outdoor relief. Noble Lords might doubt if such was the fact; but this in reality would have been the case. He had contended that the object of the Legislature should have been, not to apply the workhouse test, but to relievo immediately all the impotent poor. This was the principle which had been laid down by the Commissioners; for this he had contended then, and for this he contended now. His noble Friend spoke of a fearful experiment, and expressed an opinion that they had no confidence in the principle of the Bill. He (the Marquess of Clanricarde) begged to say, that he had the fullest confidence in the Bill, provided only the people of Ireland chose to execute it in conformity with its principle. If, however, they passed it with the declaration that it was but a temporary law, passed to meet a passing emergency—if they spoke, not in reference to the destitution and pauperism of Ireland, but to the necessity of employing the poor; and if they entertained the opinion that this calamity under which the country now suffered, and its consequences, would in a short time disappear, then, he verily believed, they might by means of this Bill inflict suffering and injury tenfold greater than that which they sought to remedy and remove. If, again, they passed the Bill, so that, after a short time had elapsed, it would appear only as maintaining the workhouse test and doing nothing for the able-bodied poor—giving relief merely to such paupers in extreme cases, then they would be entitled to prophesy a fearful experiment. There was no shutting their eyes to the facts which stared them in the face; and there was no avoiding the question, how are the great masses of the poor supported at this moment? There was no doubt that the Bill was an experiment; but it was an experiment which they were bound to make; and they would make it with the greatest possibility of success if they induced the Irish people to use their best endeavours to obtain for the principle on which it had been framed a sound establishment in the country; and it was for this reason he deemed it the safest course to pass the Bill as a permanent measure.
The EARL of WICKLOW
conceived that the sole question now for their consideration was, not whether the Bill should be divided, and portions of its clauses made 803 temporary, while others were made perpetual in their operation, but whether the measure which they now discussed should pass entire as a temporary or as a permanent measure? His noble Friend (the Marquess of Clanricarde) had stated that the guardians would not be enabled to work such a Bill effectually if they had to deal with it as a temporary measure. He (the Earl of Wicklow), on the contrary, was of opinion, that the very best mode in which they would ensure such a measure being effectually carried out, would be by first attaching to it a temporary character. He was induced to form this conclusion, not only by reference to the motives which would actuate the guardians, but by reference to a much more important power, whose influence they would have to consider—if the Commissioners had to undertake the superintendence of this Bill for three years, their attention would be infinitely better directed to it, and their exertions would be infinitely greater, than if they looked upon it as a permanent enactment. He, however, admitted that he had not the slightest expectation that ultimately they would not have a Bill of this nature. He would go further. He would admit—so far as his own knowledge of particular localities and general experience enabled him to estimate the circumstances correctly—that he saw no reason to apprehend any evil result from the operation of such a measure. When, however, he perceived those who introduced the Bill—both the First Minister of the Crown and his noble Friend the President of the Council—expressing the most serious doubts of its working in some parts of the country; when he heard those most friendly to it confessing that they looked upon it as a fearful experiment, surrounded by rocks and shoals and quicksands; he could not avoid arriving at the conclusion that it was their bounden duty to limit the period for which such a Bill was passed, and to take those precautions which ensured them from possible danger and probable difficulties. He had put a notice on the Paper to limit its operation to three years; and he had done so solely with the view of insuring a revision of the measure by Parliament within a certain time. It was quite true that the making the measure at once permanent would not preclude Parliament from revising the measure; but he wished to make this a matter of certainty. He trusted, therefore, that their Lordships would decide in favour of this being a temporary measure. If they 804 should do so, he should feel it his duty, when they came to the last clause, to move that the whole Bill be temporary for the period of three years.
§ The EARL of RIPON
had given the subject the deepest consideration; and, after duly weighing the circumstances of Ireland and the means which they possessed of ameliorating the national disaster, he had come to the conclusion that it would not be expedient to agree to the Amendment proposed by his noble Friend, that the Bill should not receive the sanction of their Lordships as a permanent measure. He therefore could not undertake to vote for the Amendment. The object was to limit the operation of those clauses which, because containing the main principle, were essential to the success of those other parts of the Bill which would be permitted to pass permanently; it was the principle of out-door relief which would now have to be tested, and he could not see the policy of making such a restriction as that now recommended. He would, however, confess, that, as he had originally opposed the application of the principle of out-door relief, it was with very considerable reluctance he now consented to give his vote in favour of this measure. He saw, however, that in Parliament and out of Parliament—in the reports of Commissioners, and in other documents—the opinion was gaining ground that the time had arrived for the introduction of this principle into a Poor Law for Ireland; and as he could not deem himself an authority on such a subject, being indifferently acquainted with Ireland, he supposed he ought to bow to the dictum so generally pronounced. If he could discover in the state of Ireland any resemblance to the state of England, he should no longer have any hesitation in admitting that the principle of outdoor relief should now be applied to the one in precisely the same manner as it had been applied in the other country. He believed the principle to be sound, and, when applied to England, safe; but he saw no such similarity in the circumstances of Ireland as would warrant him in concluding that it would be a principle upon which they might rely for the good working of a Poor Law in that country. When he spoke of the condition of a country, he meant the social condition, and he took into account also the character of the people. The noble Earl then proceeded to quote from the reports of various commissions, to show that, as compared with the 805 number of acres, the number of agricultural labourers in Ireland greatly exceeded the number in England; and then proceeded to ask, how was it possible they could see that resemblance between the circumstances of the two people which alone would justify them in legislating on one principle for the poverty of each? The situation of the two countries was obviously directly different, and therefore that which was right for one might not necessarily be right for the other. The labouring classes in Ireland were, during thirteen weeks in the year, in a condition of permanent want, not from any fault of their own, but because there was no work for them to be had; and there was, consequently, good reason to doubt if the law which had operated so beneficially in England, might not be attended with a contrary result in the sister kingdom. The noble Earl concluded by stating, that the restrictions of the Bill appeared to him likely to prevent abuses; that he could not see any other way of relieving the immense mass of poverty they had to deal with; and he should therefore give his support to the Bill.
The EARL of RODEN
said, the question for their Lordships to consider was simply whether the Bill should be temporary or permanent. He confessed, when he first heard this measure mooted, in the public prints and elsewhere, he viewed the system of out-door relief with great alarm; but, under the circumstances of the country, he came to the conclusion that it was necessary; and he assured their Lordships, however much he might be opposed to it, yet, seeing the anxiety the Government had on the subject, proved by the other measures of relief they had introduced, he should, if the Bill were agreed to, give every assistance to carrying it into effect. But it was most important that the measure should be temporary, in order to satisfy the minds of that portion of the community which would have to carry out the measure in Ireland; if the Bill were passed, as a permanent one, it would terrify and disgust those classes, and would not produce the effect desired. It was absolutely necessary there should be a time fixed when the Government, in whatever hands it might be, should be compelled to reconsider this hazardous measure, and give it their full attention. He cared not what time they might fix, whether one year or two; he only wished them to admit the principle that the measure should be tem- 806 porary, and subject to further investigation and improvement.
§ EARL FITZWILLIAM
entirely agreed with the noble Earl (the Earl of Ripon) that the difference between England and Ireland was so great that it was impossible to reason from one country to the other; and therefore he would venture to infuse into the minds of their Lordships some further doubt as to the expediency of the measure. When they looked at its origin and history, the various proceedings that had taken place upon it, the opinions expressed and the arguments advanced with regard to it, and the appeals made to various quarters on its behalf, they could not doubt it was an English measure forced upon Parliament and upon Ireland by the opinions of persons who had not, like the noble Earl, the modesty to acknowledge they were not well acquainted with the country, and of persons who were not well fitted to legislate for it. The measure was introduced to the Legislature, and described to it as a measure of great danger, one to be looked on with apprehension; would it not be imagined that those who thus described it would allege this as a reason why it should be temporary? But his noble Friend had, for the first time, that evening, stated the very danger of the measure as one of the arguments why it ought to be made permanent. The noble Earl had spoken of the immense mass of poverty they had to deal with. The measure would not relieve that mass of destitution. The proposers of the existing Poor Law supposed it would give that relief, and it had utterly failed. Would the present Bill be more likely to succeed? If he were quite sure the restrictive clauses would be thoroughly effectual, he should have infinitely less objection to the Bill. However disinclined the Irishman was at present to receive parochial relief according to the English understanding of the term, and however efficacious the limitation of relief might be in other respects, the measure would still reconcile the Irishman to receiving parochial relief; that was one of his great objections to the Bill; every manly and properly feeling would be eradicated from the mind of the people, and ere long they would be as willing to depend on the parochial rates as the paupers in any county of England. As to the communities among which the support of the poor was to be divided, no one would deny that the burden ought to be distributed as equally as possible over all parts 807 of the country. They were well aware of the inequality with which the rating was already beginning to press upon Ireland; this was another reason why the measure should be temporary; they ought to keep the power of revising it in their own hands. For these reasons he must support the clause limiting the period of the operation of the Bill.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
said, he must enter his protest against the statement of the noble Earl, that the measure was a piece of English legislation forced on Ireland, against the opinion of everybody possessing any knowledge of that country, or connected by property with it. He entirely dissented from that assertion. He was not insensible to the dangers and difficulties that would have to be met; but those difficulties would be increased tenfold if the Bill were made temporary. At present great disinclination to receive the measure existed on the part of those whose co-operation was essential to its success; but let it be understood that it was a temporary measure, and it would be vain to look for aid in that quarter. Another circumstance ought to be taken into consideration in dealing with this question—a Bill was at present before their Lordships which empowered the Government to grant loans to the Irish landlords, which were not to be repaid until the end of 22 years. Now it was not probable that the people of England would be content to lend money to the Irish landlords on these terms if their Lordships should limit the operation of the Poor Relief Bill to three years.
The ARCHBISHOP of DUBLIN
said, that in the course of the discussion a noble Earl had referred to a report on the subject of the condition of the Irish poor, to which his (the Archbishop of Dublin's) name was affixed. It was not his intention to enter into any lengthened explanation of that report. It was a short document; and any noble Lord who might think it worthy of consideration could, by reading it, see what were the opinions of the Commissioners who made it. He would now only say, with reference to what had fallen from the noble Earl, that his opinion, and he believed he might say the opinions of his brother Commissioners, as expressed in the report, remained unchanged. They were not inclined to shrink from or retract the opinions which they had expressed. They saw such a difference in the circumstances of the two countries as would make the workhouse test much less efficacious 808 in Ireland than in England. The difference between the two countries rendered the giving of out-door relief a much more hazardous experiment in Ireland than it was in England; and after full and careful consideration, he and his Colleagues came to the conclusion that it was not desirable to establish such a system in Ireland. Nothing which had since passed had changed his opinion on that point. With respect to the present measure, he maintained the opinion, in common with many noble Lords who supported, as well as those who opposed, it, that it was a very hazardous experiment. He imputed no blame to those who had brought the measure forward. They had before them only a choice of evils; but, looking upon it as an experiment, he wished it to be treated and considered as an experiment. He had always, in his own mind, drawn a broad line of distinction between relief to the impotent, aged, and infirm, and relief to the able-bodied; and he wished that distinction to be strongly marked, by giving to those parts of the Bill which related to relief to the able-bodied a temporary character. It appeared to him that wisdom prescribed such a course when they were about to introduce a novel, and, as almost every one admitted, an hazardous experiment. In common parlance it might be said that he was hostile to the Bill; but if by that expression it was meant that he entertained a wish that it should break down and fail in working, he utterly disclaimed being actuated by any such motive. He was hostile to the measure only in the sense in which many persons who supported it were hostile to it—he deemed it to be a hazardous experiment. Without troubling their Lordships with the grounds on which his conclusion was founded, he would content himself with declaring his opinion that the measure would be more likely to have a fair chance of being carried into beneficial operation if it bore a temporary character. It might be said that Parliament could repeal the measure if it should be found to work prejudicially; but he did not wish to leave the question in that state; he wanted their Lordships to have the power of dealing with it at the end of three years, unfettered by what might be resolved upon in another place. He was very reluctant to proclaim to the Irish people the principle that the property of Ireland was made over to them in perpetuity. If the Bill—its operation being limited to three years—should be found to work well, and 809 produce beneficial results, without demoralising the people, it could be renewed for a further period, or in perpetuity. By taking that course their Lordships would avoid creating expectations which it would be impossible to realize, and hazardous to disappoint. It had been said, that if this Bill should pass as a temporary measure, the ratepayers would deal recklessly with the expenditure in order to bring the law into disrepute, and to prevent its re-enactment; but he could not conceive that even such persons as the Irish landlords were, would act so absurdly as that; for that, in fact, would be tantamount to imposing a fine upon themselves. It was desirable that their Lordships should consider the manner in which the measure would affect that excellent body of men, the clergymen of the Established Church in Ireland. If he were asked what class in Ireland had been most conspicuous in relieving the distress which afflicted the people of that country, he would reply, without fear of contradiction, the clergy of the Church of England. Their Lordships might think that he spoke with partiality of the order which he belonged to; but in support of his statement he appealed to facts which were notorious. The clergy of the Church had made the greatest sacrifices to administer to the relief of their distressed brethren, of all persuasions, under the present affliction. In spite of some ill-judged efforts which had been made to induce the clergy to avail themselves of the occasion to make proselytes, by tendering bread to the starving on condition of their listening to religious instruction opposed to the dictates of their conscience, they had disregarded all such influence, and nobly discharged their duty by administering to the wants of their suffering brethren of all persuasions. Few were aware of the extent, to which the clergy had suffered, for they had not obtruded themselves on the public notice. He knew it to be a fact that, in many instances, the clergy had deprived themselves, not only of luxuries and comforts, but almost of every necessary of life, in order to relieve their suffering countrymen—and that, too, in districts where nineteen out of twenty of the population were Roman Catholics. It was not his wish to raise an invidious comparison between the clergy of the Church and the Roman Catholic priesthood, for it should be borne in mind that the latter, whatever their disposition might be, had no endowments, but 810 depended for their means upon the contributions of their flocks. The clergy of the Church formed a class most important to the working of such a measure as that under their Lordships' consideration; and yet upon that class, impoverished by their charitable efforts, the measure pressed with undue severity. In speaking of the clergy of the Established Church of Ireland, he could not restrain himself from making one observation in reference to an individual well known to all their Lordships—a nobleman who had made the best, the truest interests of that Church his peculiar care, as far as had come under his supervision—he meant the present Lord Lieutenant. He hardly knew whether, at that very moment, that nobleman was Lord Lieutenant; but in the immediate danger in which they were placed of having him removed from them, he (the Archbishop of Dublin) could not forbear from adding his humble testimony to the great, most assiduous, and constant care with which the noble Lord had regarded the affairs of the Church. As long as that noble Lord had been able to give his feeble and partial attention to the business brought before him within the last few weeks, he had taken particular care as to the disposal of ecclesiastical preferment, and of all matters relating to the good conduct of ecclesiastical affairs in Ireland. He had had interviews with that noble Lord chiefly on matters connected with the Irish Church and education; and he could bear his testimony to the very great services which that noble Lord had all along rendered to Ireland upon all points which had come within his knowledge. He felt himself bound to express his gratitude, not only to that noble Lord himself, but also to Her Majesty's advisers, who, well knowing the character of the noble Lord, had appointed him to so important a situation at so critical a period for Ireland. That selection did them the highest honour; and in the presence of some noble Lords who had held the same exalted office, and in the presence of many others who, like himself, had had experience of many Lord Lieutenants, he must bear his testimony to the merits of the present Lord Lieutenant, who was second to none he had ever known for the display of the most important and valuable qualities under circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, which required the exercise of those great and good qualities to a larger extent, in the few months he had ruled over Ireland, than in ordinary times would have 811 been called for in the course of years. It would make the period of his administration long remembered in Ireland; and when it terminated, and he feared the time was not far distant, it would be looked back upon by the Irish people with lasting gratitude.
The MARQUESS of CONYNGHAM
wished, on behalf of the people of Ireland, to express the thanks which he sincerely felt for the liberality and munificent generosity which this country had displayed towards the Irish sufferers. With respect to the measure then before their Lordships, he did not participate in the fears expressed by many noble Lords as to the effects it would produce; he believed, on the contrary, that they were very much exaggerated. He could not think so ill of his own countrymen as to suppose that if fair labour were offered to them they would prefer a workhouse instead of availing themselves of that employment. He thought that the laws of this country and those of Ireland ought to be assimilated as closely as possible; and it was because he considered this measure to have that tendency, that he supported it. It would, at any rate, have the effect of relieving the landlords of Ireland of much of the odium and abuse which had hitherto been heaped upon them for not doing their duty to their tenantry; and though he did not regard it as a panacea for all the evils of Ireland, yet he considered it as a great step in the right direction.
§ On the Question whether to agree to the said Amendment of the Committee:—Content 42; Not-Content 54: Majority 12.813
|List of the CONTENTS.|
|List of the NOT-CONTENTS.|
|Viscount Combermere||Earl of Rosebery|
|Earl Charleville||Bishop of Durham|
|Earl Orford||Lord Portman|
|Viscount Lake||Earl of Denbigh|
|Marquess of Ailsa||Lord Beauvale|
|Earl of Erne||Lord Vivian|
|Earl of Orkney||Earl of Ilchester|
|Marquess of Exeter||Earl Spencer|
|Earl of Munster||Viscount Clifden|
|Earl of Bradford||Lord Dinorben|
|Marquess of Abercorn||Lord Dacre|
|Earl of Sheffield||Lord Walsingham|
|Bishop of Exeter||Bishop of Chester|
|Duke of Newcastle||Marquess of Headfort|
|Earl of Limerick||Earl Verulam|
|Lord Sondes||Lord Glenelg|
|Viscount Beresford||Marquess of Anglesey|
|Lord De I'Isle||Lord Crewe|
|Marquess of Ely||Earl of Leicester|
|Lord Ashburton||Earl Minto|
|Earl Delawarr||Earl Fitzhardinge|
|Earl Digby||Bishop of Salisbury|
|Earl of Eldon||Earl Camperdown|
|Duke of Manchester||Marq. of Winchester|
|Lord Wynford||Lord Lilford|
|Earl of Cardigan||Duke of Norfolk|
|Earl of Tankerville||Earl Cornwallis|
|Lord Saltown||Earl of Fingall|
|Lord Willoughby D'Eresby||Bishop of London|
|Earl of Wilton||Duke of Roxburgh|
|Duke of Beaufort||Lord Langdale|
|Earl Nelson||Earl of Effingham|
|Earl of Somers||Lord Lyttleton|
|Viscount Canterbury||Bishop of Rochester|
|Marquess of Ailesbury||Earl of Ellesmere|
|Earl of Warwick||Bishop of Oxford|
|Earl of Longford||Bishop of St. David's|
|Lord Brougham||Earl Craven|
|Lord Middleton||Earl of Sefton|
|Lord Faversham||Duke of Buccleuch|
|Viscount Strangford||Lord Gardner|
|Duke of Cleveland||Bishop of Ripon|
|Earl of Haddington||Earl Powis|
|Lord Gage||Lord Churchill|
|Earl of Kinnoul||Earl Howe|
|Earl of Egmont||Viscount Falkland|
|Duke of Montrose||Marq. of Westminster|
§ Resolved in the negative; and the words were struck out of the Bill.
The EARL of CLANCARTY
I feel, my Lords, that in proposing the Amendment of which I gave notice, I must do so under considerable disadvantage, after the protracted debate that has just terminated. I shall only preface the few observations with which I shall trouble your Lordships, by assuring you that the modification I beg to propose of the first two clauses of the Bill would not in any degree diminish its efficiency as a measure of relief for the destitute; but is, on the contrary, designed to render the Bill as efficacious as possible, as a measure to promote the moral and social improvement of the population. The principle has been affirmed that out-door relief shall be engrafted upon the Irish Poor Law. I call upon your Lordships to make the enactment such that it may tend to the benefit of the country, and be free from the evil consequences I shall point out as likely to arise from the operation of the first clause of the Bill as it now stands. The object of the Amendment is to make the principle of the existing Poor Law, viz. relief of the destitute poor within the workhouse, as far as possible the rule, and out-door relief the exception. I acquiesce in the necessity that may arise occasionally, and in the present year has arisen, of providing relief without the walls of the workhouse; and for such emergencies the Amendment I propose more amply pro-vides than does the Bill; for the very possible occurrence of the workhouse becoming unfit for the reception of the poor from other causes than fever or infectious disease, is quite overlooked in the Bill; and two months, which is the term beyond which it is proposed that out-door relief shall not be authorized at any one time, appears to me quite too short a period to contemplate as likely to cover the duration of a season of want. I, therefore, suggest in the Amendment, that the authority for any order warranting the distribution of food out of the workhouse, should be good 814 for six months, unless sooner revoked; and that every order authorizing this exceptional mode of relief should set forth the special grounds that called for it. It is necessary, if you attempt to put down the practice of mendicancy, that legal provision should be made for the relief of the destitute in the contingency of its being impossible to receive them into the workhouse. The practice of out-door relief thus limited, would not be liable to abuse, and would meet the necessities of any emergency that might arise. I trust your Lordships will not go further in applying the principle of out-door relief to Ireland than the necessity of the case clearly warrants. It is admitted on all hands to be a practice attended with much danger, and subject to the greatest abuses, unless, as in this country, guarded by the most careful system of parochial supervision, and that jealous watchfulness upon the part of the ratepayer which arises from the stimulus of his own interest, and the consciousness that he has the power to protect himself, which in Ireland unfortunately he would not have. If out-door relief were with any justice to be viewed as a been to the large pauper population of Ireland, or if the workhouse involved hardship, or severity, or failed of producing benefit, beyond the supply of their physical wants, to the paupers, I freely admit that a regard merely to the interests of property, and the apprehensions of ratepayers, might not alone justify opposition to the new and discretionary powers proposed by the first Clause of the Bill to be given to the boards of guardians. But I think I can show your Lordships, that such a change would not be for the advantage of the poor or of the community; and that the workhouse has been found, and may be rendered still more so, productive of moral good to the pauper inmates; and I therefore contend, and would most anxiously urge it upon the House, that the wants of the destitute claiming relief under this law, should continue, as at present, to be relieved in the workhouse, and always considered with the aid of the workhouse test, so long as the accommodation within the walls enables the guardians to apply it. Those who have seen out-door relief administered among the rural population of England, may have seen much to gratify, nothing to offend, the eye, or make one desire that the workhouse system were carried further than it is in a country where things are so well ordered and controlled. The circum- 815 stances of Ireland, however, are very different. I rather think that no one who is acquainted with the wretched and unimproved condition of the Irish poor, in all that relates to the comforts of civilized life, would wish that it should remain unchanged. There are not in England the habits to be corrected which there are in Ireland. The cottage does not here present the rude and comfortless appearance, the squalid and unwholesome reality, of the Irish cabin. It is, however, to the rising generation that you must chiefly look for any effectual and lasting improvement in the condition of the poor. Here, again the case of England contrasts with that of Ireland. The poorest of the rising generation in this country are accustomed to see prevailing habits of order, thrift, and industry; and the very example trains and fits them for useful exertion. Not so the children of the poor in Ireland. With excellent qualities of heart and capabilities of instruction, they are, like the soil on which they live, a raw material of great but unimproved value, and for want of motives and incitements, undesirous of improvement. Schools there are, but the parent, himself ignorant, unambitious, and improvident, cares not to see the condition of his child different from his own; and thus from one generation to another, the last only differing from the previous one in the greater amount and more hopeless circumstances of wretchedness it exhibits, the mass of pauperism has gone on increasing, and such will continue to be the case, though with somewhat of aggravation, from the mere substitution of relief given at the cabin by the hands of the relieving officers, in lieu of the charity demanded from an almsgiving public. My Lords, I think the Poor Law, as now administered strictly upon the workhouse principle, is calculated to correct, or greatly to assist in correcting, this state of things. The workhouse schools at the present time afford education to upwards of 50,000 destitute children, who, but for this institution, would grow up and remain for life burdens upon the public, instead of becoming, as with proper care they may become, useful and helpful members of society. The testimony of the most competent witnesses has been borne to the efficiency of the workhouse schools; and my noble Friend opposite (Lord Monteagle) has shown your Lordships how they may be further improved, at the same time that you enlarge the extent of workhouse ac- 816 commodation. There is, however, a collateral advantage arising from them, which is well deserving of consideration, that being in general better superintended and more efficiently supported than the parochial schools, and being pretty evenly distributed over the country, they are calculated to produce a spirit of emulation in those institutions most favourable to the cause of education, on which any real or permanent improvement of the country must mainly depend. I deprecate any step that may check this useful operation of the existing Poor Law; yet such there is reason to apprehend would be the effect of making it optional with boards of guardians to relieve in or out of the workhouse. Let me remind your Lordships of what I stated on a former evening, that relief can in each individual case be more cheaply given out of than in the workhouse, and that the poor in general will accept the minimum that they can obtain in their cabins, in preference to entering the workhouse. There can be little doubt, that should the boards of guardians adopt the principle of giving out-door relief in the case of the aged and permanently disabled, they will be still more disposed to do so in the case of children, and refuse longer to receive them into the workhouse, leaving them to take their chance of being educated in the parochial schools, supported at the expense of the State, and thus saving to the unions the entire expense of the staff of school teachers, their salaries, rations, and school requisites. Again, with respect to the adults, the aged, the widow, the cripple, and the blind, much cannot be done certainly to mend their condition; but it is due by the existing system of workhouse management to observe that they are eared for in a manner that is most satisfactory. This subject was much investigated before your Lordships' Committee last year, and the several witnesses examined bore out my own observation of the beneficial effects of the regulations and discipline of these establishments upon the health, comfort, and character of those objects of charity in whose favour the workhouses were primarily instituted. Well fed, clothed, and lodged, with medical aid at hand in sickness, and the comfort, at all times, of such religious instruction as they wish for, by degrees they come to prefer the habits of order and cleanliness that were at first distasteful. I have no hesitation, speaking from my own observations, in saying that a 817 great moral advantage is felt even by this class of the destitute from the institution of the workhouse. There is, undoubtedly, a reluctance to enter it; but this proceeds from a feeling that your Lordships should cherish rather than abate—a laudable feeling of pride that may he made productive of much good—that may be the foundation of habits of self-reliance. I would strongly urge upon your Lordships that a distinction should be maintained between poor persons dependent upon their own resources or industry, and those who are dependents upon poor-law relief; this is done at present by administering all legal relief in the workhouse. If it be administered at the cabin, or elsewhere out of the workhouse, by the relieving officer, the recipient of it may be placed upon an equal or even a better footing, than the poor person or family that shares in the hard-earned wages of industry. There will be then nothing to encourage to independent exertion—everything to promote fraud, idleness, and improvidence. Such, my Lords, will be the moral effect upon the population of Ireland, arising from the operation of the first clause of this Bill, in the very probable event of the boards of guardians adopting the practice of giving out-door instead of workhouse relief. Then what will be the prospect of the ratepayers, when relieving officers come to be appointed in the several electoral divisions? I will suppose that the very best man that can be found is in each case selected to fill the office— that he is chosen under no improper influences—that he is most desirous faithfully to discharge the duties for which he is paid; but what check will there or can there be upon him? The causes that will combine to coerce him to admit to relief, will be such as it will be impossible for him to contend against. You have, from the most unsuspicious sources, evidence of the abuses which, under the operation of the Labour-rate Act, arose from the power of obtaining pecuniary relief from public resources. Is it reasonable, my Lords, to think that one unprotected officer will be able to prevent abuses that committees of magistrates, clergy, and the most active agents of property, aided by Government officers were unable to check? To the relieving officer will practically be confided the duty, without the power, of protecting the interests of the ratepayer. He will be the sole judge of the urgency of the cases that will be brought before him. Did you ever, my Lords, receive a petition from Ireland that 818 did not eloquently describe a case of urgency? Too many such unhappily do exist, and they are likely to be found in still greater numbers in Ireland in every class of society. Urgent distress may indeed be said to be universal in that country, the cases differing only in degree. But how will the relieving officer discriminate, how withstand the combination of circumstances that will compel him to admit apparently helpless families to relief? The priest's dues, the middleman's rent of the cabin and quarter acre, the repeal rent, the interest of the apothecary or medical attendant to be appointed under the 5th section of the Bill, the powerful appeal of the applicant, and the natural disposition to comply with the seeming requirements of charity—these are so many inducements, that, separately, or together, will generally combine with the officer's own instinct of self-preservation to produce, in the dispensation of out-door relief, an almost indefinite lavish, and most demoralising expenditure of the rates raised from and only paid by the industrious. Such an Act cannot work well; nothing but a perfect assimilation of the law to that of England could afford the remotest hope of any effectual check against abuses. I deprecate, my Lords, the necessity for making any such change; and I lately stated the grounds upon which I objected to it. The noble Lord (Lord Stanley) who proposed it, did so expressly upon the ground that "the English Poor Law giving relief must be accompanied by the English safeguard"—that safeguard he has found that he cannot apply. I call upon him, therefore, and those who agreed with him, to consent to a modification of the Bill, which would render that safeguard unnecessary. I do not ask your Lordships, nor do I wish, that the Bill should be incomplete as a measure for the relief of the destitute—the contrary is my desire. The Amendment I propose is brought forward with no selfish, no party, no class view. My sole object is the practicability of what may be of service to my country; and I pray that your Lordships' deliberations may tend to the same result. I beg in conclusion to move to—Leave out from 'Ireland' in the sixth line of the first clause to the end of the second clause, and substitute the following for the words proposed to be left out:—' And whereas, from the insufficiency of room or other cause, the said guardians of the poor may sometimes be unable to afford relief within the workhouses to all who are proper objects to be so relieved, be it enacted by the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the 819 advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that if at any time it shall be shown to the satisfaction of the Poor Law Commissioners, that by reason of the want of room in the workhouse of any union, or in such additional workhouse or workhouses as may have been or may be provided for the reception and maintenance of the poor of such union, adequate relief cannot be afforded therein, or that the workhouse or workhouses of any union, by reason of fever or infectious disease, is or are unfit for the reception of poor persons, or that by reason of the dilapidated, damaged state of such workhouse or workhouses, suitable accommodation cannot be afforded therein for the destitute poor, it shall be lawful for the said Commissioners from time to time by order under their seal to authorize and empower the guardians of such union, for any time not exceeding six months from the date of such order to administer relief out of the workhouse to such destitute poor persons applying for relief as cannot be received and maintained in it; and on receipt, by the guardians of any union, of any such order, they shall make provision for the relief of the destitute poor persons of said union accordingly, for such time as shall be specified in said order; provided that all relief given out of the workhouse, under the authority of any such order, shall be given in food only, save as hereinafter provided in any case of sudden or urgent necessity; provided also, that it shall be lawful for the said Commissioners to revoke such order, at any time within the period for which the same may have been issued, or to renew the same from time to time, so as to extend the period of its operation as the circumstances of the case, to be specified in such order, may require.'
§ EARL GREY
said, the substantial difference between the Amendment and the principle of the Bill as it at present stood was, that the noble Earl would prevent any relief to the aged and sick poor being given out of the workhouse, so long as the workhouse was available; and he (Earl Grey) thought this limitation should be confined, as in the Bill, to the able-bodied poor. He wished, therefore, that the House would not agree to the Amendment.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Several Amendments were made consequent on the Amendment introduced by Lord Monteagle having been struck out.
The EARL of LUCAN
then moved the following clause:—And be it enacted, That for the purpose of charging the expense of relief to any electoral division, no person shall, after the passing of this Act, be deemed to have been resident in such electoral division, unless, during the three years before his admission into the workhouse, or his receiving any relief whatever, he has occupied some tenement within such division for thirty calendar months; or, if he have not so occupied some tenement, have usually slept within such division for the period of thirty calendar months.
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
was understood to assent to the clause, on the 820 words "for the purpose of charging the expense of relief to any electoral division." being struck out.
§ A conversation then took place, in which Lord MONTEAGLE, the Earl of ST. GERMANS, Lord CAMPBELL, and Lord STANLEY took part, and the clause was ultimately agreed to.
again moved the clause which he had brought forward in Committee, but subsequently withdrew, respecting the non-deduction of rates from rent due to landlords.
§ Clause negatived.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
then moved the following clause:—And whereas the payment out of the poor's rate of rents due, or which may at any time hereafter become due, from destitute persons receiving relief under this Act, or the herein-first before recited Act, or the payment of wages or in aid of wages to such persons out of any monies which may be advanced, raised, or expended under any Act for the relief of the destitute poor in Ireland, is an abuse which should be prohibited by law and punished; be it further enacted, that it shall not be lawful to any board of guardians, or relieving officers, or any persons on their behalf, to pay to any destitute person receiving relief under this or the herein-before-recited Act any sum, or to pay for the account or advantage of such person, any sum, out of monies advanced or levied for the relief of the destitute, in satisfaction of any rent for which destitute persons are or may be liable, or in aid of the wages of labour which such destitute person is receiving or entitled to receive; and that if on the audit of the accounts of any union, it shall be proved to the satisfaction of the auditors, that any relief shall have been given contrary to this enactment, any sum charged for such relief shall be struck out and disallowed from the said accounts, in the manner as is now provided in respect to any other payment made contrary to law: provided always, that nothing herein contained shall prevent the relieving officer from giving provisional relief in cases of urgent necessity in lodging, until the next meeting of the guardians, in the manner herein-before provided.
§ EARL GREY
, while he admitted the correctness of the principle laid down in the clause, thought it would be impossible to carry it out in practice. To attempt it would be carrying legislation beyond its proper limits; and he thought it was a matter which should be left wholly to the discretion of the boards of guardians, who would no doubt take care to guard against abuses of the description referred to, which formerly prevailed to so great an extent in England. He must therefore oppose the proposition of the noble Lord.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ House adjourned.