HL Deb 14 May 1849 vol 105 cc384-7

Order of the Day for the House being put in Committee read.


said, he wished to ask the noble Marquess opposite whether any progress had been made in relation to the Bill for altering the size of electoral divisions in Ireland; as it appeared to him that if that measure were brought forward it would facilitate the operation of the Rate in Aid Bill?


replied that no Bill had as yet been brought into Parliament upon the subject to which the noble Duke referred; the reason being that, though the subject had been for some time in the contemplation of the Government, neither the Committee of that nor the other House of Parliament, to whom the question had been referred, had yet delivered any report. The Poor Law Commissioners had, however, at present the power of making such arrangements as might be necessary. He apprehended and hoped that a Bill would soon be introduced on the subject.


observed, that the agitation in the north of Ireland with reference to this Bill was so great, that he thought the Government ought not to press the measure without due consideration. He feared that, if they went on in their present course, they might drive the people of that part of Ireland, who had hitherto been remarkable for their loyalty, almost to a state of rebellion.


said, that it had been understood that no discussion would take place on this stage of the Bill, and many Peers had left the House under that impression. The noble Earl would have an opportunity of making any observations he might wish to offer to the House on the third reading.


said, that upon the grounds he had touched upon he was about to propose that it would be desirable to postpone going into Committee until some future day.


said, that there had been an understanding on the part of their Lordships that the discussion upon this measure should take place upon a future stage, and that no resistance would be made to it upon its present stage. The noble Lord was of course at liberty to adopt any course he thought proper; but it was desirable that arrangements of this nature, when made, should be adhered to.


said, that though he decidedly disapproved of the Bill, he deprecated getting up any unexpected discussion at the present stage of the measure, and thought that doing so in the absence of so many noble Lords, would only defeat the object which the noble Earl himself had in view.


said, that he was totally unaware of the existence of any such agreement as that referred to, and of course should not, under those circumstances, press the Motion which he had intended to make.

House in Committee.

The 1st Clause having been read.


said, that much as he objected to the principle of the Bill, he still objected even more to the mode by which it was proposed to carry out the measure. Supposing the rate in aid were a legitimate and proper thing, the proposed mode of levying it was an exceedingly unjust one. The mixing up of the rate in aid with the general rating of the country, would have the effect of impeding the operation of the poor-law in every part of the country. With a view of correcting this evil, he would take the liberty of proposing that the Bill should be so amended as that the rate in aid should be collected as an entirely separate and exclusive rate. He should follow that up with a Motion to levy the rate in aid solely upon the landed proprietors, or make such provision in the measure that the tenant who would have to pay it, should have the power of deducting the whole of it from his rent. If such a provision as that were made, although it would not alter the injustice or impolicy of the measure, still it would prevent much of the difficulty and distress that would arise from it. He should also wish to see the rate in aid made a separate rate altogether, as it would then give the landed gentry of the country the power of taking it entirely upon themselves, in such cases as they might think it right to do so, in order to relieve their tenantry from the unjust burden cast upon them by this measure.


opposed the Amendment, on the ground that it appeared, from the evidence which had been given before a Committee of their Lordships, that the landlords had already been compelled to pay a far greater share of the poor-rates than they ought to have paid. In cases where the tenants did not pay more than 4l. per annum rent, the whole of the rates had to be borne by the landlord. In very many cases the landlord received no rent at all, and yet he was compelled to pay the poor-rates. That was a hard case enough; but if to this were to be added the whole amount of the rate in aid, it would make the case much worse.


regretted that he could not accede to the proposed alteration of the noble Lord, who, upon all subjects connected with Ireland, spoke with such weight. The suggestion which he had now made was one prompted by no selfish motive, but quite the reverse. There was, however, a constitutional objection to the whole plan, which prevented him from acceding to the Motion, and dispensed at once with the necessity of further discussing it.

Amendment withdrawn.


said, that under this Bill a certain sum was to be raised by a rate in aid, which was to be distributed by the Poor Law Commissioners according to their discretion. It would perhaps be inconsistent with the principle of the Bill that it should be dispensed in any other way than that proposed by the Bill; but, at the same time, he thought some provision might be introduced for the purpose of securing an effectual control over the disposal of the money. He would, therefore, propose that a distinct account should be kept of the amount received under the rate in aid, and the mode of its disbursement, and that accounts of the same up to the 31st of December of each of the years during which the Act should continue in operation should be laid before Parliament within ten days after its assembling.


said, with the reservation that such a provision should not be found incompatible with Parliamentary forms, he saw no objection to the provision.

After a short discussion the Amendment was agreed to, as were other amendments and the several clauses of the Bill.


moved that the Bill should be reported to-morrow. It was understood that no discussion would be taken upon the measure in that stage, and he would propose that the third reading should be fixed for Friday, when it was understood the discussion would take place.


said, he came down to the House totally unacquainted with the fact of any understanding having been made; he was told, however, that one had been made, and that he must not therefore say a word in opposition. Now, upon the next stage, he was told that an understanding had again been made. All this time the Government, however, were progressing with the measure, and now it was understood that the discussion was only to come on upon its final stage. He protested against this mode of carrying through a measure, which, like all the recent Irish measures, would only place Ireland in a worse position than she was in before.

Report to be received To-morrow.

House adjourned till To-morrow.