HL Deb 06 March 1849 vol 103 cc234-5

The Earl of LUCAN and the Earl of RODEN having presented petitions from Louth and Longford against the imposition of a rate on the whole of Ireland for the support of paupers in certain distressed unions,


could not avoid addressing a few words to their Lordships upon the subject. The petition, referring, as it did, to a Bill then before the other House, might have been objected to by their Lordships upon a point of form.


said, it could not be refused, because it was of a general nature.


It was incumbent upon noble Lords from Ireland, who felt deeply the injustice of the plan proposed by the Government, to protest against it, and to call upon Ministers to reconsider the subject, and see whether some other mode could not be devised more just in its principle, more satisfactory to the feelings of the country, and better calculated to effect the object it professed to have in view. He believed it was necessary that they should accede to the proposition that, for a time, the whole property of Ireland should be taxed for the relief of the present distress. Such a tax, so applied for a time, would not he by any means so unconstitutional as the levy of the proposed rate in and. What was there to prevent Her Majesty's Ministers from doing at once what they must do in the course of a year or two? For no one considered that a renewal of the income tax could take place without including Ireland; and why not, then, at once proceed to levy it, instead of the unconstitutional and offensive sixpenny rate in and? The plan might be this—that the income tax should be levied at once; but, for two years to come, it should be appropriated to the relief of the distressed parts of Ireland. If that were proposed, Parliament would, without any doubt, accede to it. He did not mean to say that the income tax in Ireland should be solely for the support of the poor, but that the temporary relief having been afforded from it for two years, it should then be used for general State purposes, as in England. There was another mode which might be adopted. An advance of 1,200,000l. had been made from the Treasury, by way of loan, for the building of union workhouses in Ireland. Very little of it had been as yet repaid. Let it be put absolutely in course of collection within three years; but instead of carrying it into the Treasury, let it be given to relieve the pressing distress of the impoverished districts. The amount would be greater than—it would at all events he as much as—the Government expected to derive from the sixpenny rate in aid; and he begged them to observe how much more agreeable it would be to the people; for it was a debt which should be repaid, and the repayment of it would at once acquit the charge, and supply the wants of the poor. Either of these two modes would produce the sum of money required by Her Majesty's Government, without exciting the indignation and alarming the apprehensions of the people of Ireland. For it was no such thing as a movement of Ulster, or of Leinster, or of Munster; it was a general movement of the people of Ire-laud against the injustice of the proposed measure.

Petitions read, and referred to the Select Committee on the Irish Poor Law.

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