HL Deb 10 August 1860 vol 160 cc1030-4

in moving the Resolution permitting the Bill to be now read the second time, said it had been asked on a previous evening why this Bill had not been brought forward so as to give their Lordships an opportunity of more maturely considering its provisions. The fact was that at an Early period of the Session the Secretary for Ireland introduced a general measure on the subject of the Irish Poor Law; but the pressure of other business obliged him to give up that Bill and bring in another for continuing the administration of the existing law for one year. The present Bill, therefore, contained continuing clauses, and also a provision for economizing the establishment in the employment of medical inspectors. Two other clauses had been added—one for the regulation of the law by which persons in the occupation of a quarter of an acre of land are not allowed to receive out-door relief introduced at the instance of Mr. Hennessy; and the other enabling boards of guardians to place out in families infants under twelve years of age, which was adopted from the Bill of Lord Naas, the only alteration being the insertion of twelve instead of ten years. the former of these clauses he did not mean now to press as not being urgent; but as under the present system it appeared that there had been a considerable mortality, he trusted their Lordships would consent that the other clause should be maintained.

Moved to Resolve, That as regards the said Bill, inasmuch as the Poor Law Commission in Ireland will, if not renewed, expire at the close of the present Session of Parliament, the Circumstances which require Legislation on this Subject appear to this House to be of such real Urgency as to render the immediate Consideration of the same necessary.


said lie considered the clause relating to the placing out of children open to most serious objection. It was not to provide relief for children out of the workhouse under the care of their parents, but to place them with other persons. Anything more objectionable he could not conceive. He considered it a bounty upon the desertion of children. He recommended that the clause should be omitted from the present Bill, and let a Committee be appointed next year, and if upon examination it was found necessary for the purposes of humanity and for the better care of the children, he should not object to it.


said, that if there was not a proper system of workhouse accommodation it was the fault of the Poor Law Commissioners. He submitted to their Lordships that it would be well for the Commissioners to take steps to provide proper arrangements in the workhouses for these children rather than to send them out in the way proposed.


contended that it was expedient a Continuance Bill should be simply that which it professed to be, and that clauses foreign to its immediate object should not be introduced into it as was in the present instance the case. So strongly did he feel upon the point that he should next Session take occasion to move a Standing Order on the subject. What they had to consider on the present Motion was what was urgent and what was not. The first and second clauses he was prepared to admit were of such urgency as to render it desirable that they should before Parliament broke up be passed into law; but then the third and fourth, he maintained, required detailed consideration, more especially the former, which made no provision whatsoever with respect to the religious principles in which the children to whom it related should be brought up. By the fourth clause, also, an important alteration of the law was proposed; and he felt it, under those circumstances, to be his duty to move an Amendment—a course which was not without precedent, for a similar Amendment had received the assent of their Lordships in 1857 —to the effect that, while it was desirable the first and second clauses should be proceeded with, it was not advisable to pass the third or fourth.

Amendment moved, "To leave out from the word 'That' to the End of the Motion, and insert 'as the Powers of the Poor Law Commissioners will expire and those of other Officers be rendered inoperative unless the same be continued as provided for in the Manner proposed by the First and Second Clauses of the said Bill, the Circumstances which render Legislation on the Subject Matter of the said Clauses expedient are of such Urgency as to render the immediate Consideration of the same necessary, and that the said Bill should be read a Second Time for the Purpose of passing the said Clauses only.


thought it would not be well to accede to the Motion of the noble Lord (Lord Redesdale) inasmuch as it might furnish a dangerous precedent in the case of other Bills which might come under their Lordships' consideration. At the same time, taking into account the late period of the Session, he would appeal to the Government whether it would not be better to withdraw the third clause also.


was also of opinion that there were strong objections to the adoption of the course proposed by the noble Lord opposite,—that it went far beyond the occasion, and that it was not fair to put such a construction upon the Resolution against the second reading of Bills after the 27th of July as to say that all the clauses in those Bills which were of urgency might he proceeded with, while those which were deemed to be not of such character should be postponed. The Government were, however, in the hands of the House in the matter, and if good reasons against the passing of Clause 3 on its own merits were urged — which had not yet been done,—and if a largo majority of their Lordships should appear to be opposed to it, he should not, while entertaining his own views with respect to it, press it against the sense of the House.


said, he was disposed to support the Resolution of his noble Friend (Lord Redesdale), inasmuch as it enunciated an intelligible principle, and for which, moreover, a precedent was set in 1857. He was strongly of opinion that in the case in which a measure came up to their Lordships' House under the plea of being a Continuance Bill, and they were asked by the Government to read it a second time on the ground of its urgency, it was not expedient that they should be called upon to deal with new clauses and provisions which could not be said to be of an urgent nature at all. That the Irish Poor Law Board should not he allowed to expire was, he admitted, a matter of urgency, and furnished a sufficient reason for suspending a Standing Order of the House to prevent the occurrence of such an event; hut the case was entirely different when it was sought to take a similar course with reference to provisions which were foreign to the professed object of the Bill, and which were introduced into it under no pressure. As he was informed, it had been determined to appoint a Commission next year to inquire into the working of the Irish Poor Law Commission, and to suggest remedies for those defects which might be apparent. If that was so, or any general measure for the amendment of the Irish Poor Law was intended, that was an additional reason for adhering to the spirit of the Resolution which the House had agreed to, of throwing no obstacles in the way of the Government with reference to what was urgent, and for refusing to discuss that which, whether right or wrong in itself, could not be held to be matter of urgency, so as to escape the operation of the general rule. He could not agree that the House was not to discuss the details of a Bill on a Motion like this for immediate consideration; for he wished to know how it was possible to ascertain whether or not a Bill was of an urgent character except by discussing the details. If it were agreed that all details should be excluded, and that the measure should be merely a Continuance Bill, the difficulty vanished at once; but if the Government insisted on introducing a number of new clauses, those on the opposite benches were bound to show that these new clauses were matter of urgency. Apart altogether from the merits of the case, he thought it very inexpedient that a discussion should be introduced at present on the 3rd and 4th Clauses of the Bill. And in supporting the Amendment of his noble Friend, he must fairly state that he did so with the object of assisting to lay down, as far as was in his power, a principle by which their Lordships would be guided in their future action in regard to Bills of this description, and to add another precedent to those which already existed for the conduct of public business.


also protested against any new clauses being introduced into a Continuance Bill, which it was proposed to pass on the ground of urgency, and that such a Bill should be pressed upon the attention of a jaded House with a view to smuggling it through.


wished to obtain from the noble Lord the President of the Council an assurance as to the course which the Government would pursue with reference to the objectionable clauses.


replied that, as all those who had spoken on the Ministerial side of the House had expressed objection to the clauses, and as none of those by whom the clauses had last year been originated had now said a word in their favour, it was quite clear that the sense of the House was opposed to them. He should, therefore, suggest to his noble Friend to give up the third and fourth clauses when the House got into Committee: but at the same time he hoped their Lordships would feel that the Resolution as it stood was a very proper one to be adopted.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Motion,

Their Lordships divided:—Contents 30; Not-Contents 34: Majority 4.

Resolved in the Negative.

Then the said Motion, as amended, was agreed to.

Bill read 2a (according to Order), and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.