HL Deb 17 July 1862 vol 168 cc415-20

House in Committee (according to Order).

Clause 1 (For charging Expense of Relief).

LORD LIFFORD moved the omission of the word "immediately," in order that persons might not have any reason to induce the poorer classes to remove from their residences and thus become chargeable to another union.


said, he should be willing to accede to the Amendment if the Irish Peers present desired it.

Amendment agreed to; Clause as amended to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 (Tenth Section of 10 Vict., c. 31, repealed).


said, no provision of the present Poor Law had been better considered than the Quarter-Acre Clause, and he saw no reason why it should be repealed.


said, that the present law operated harshly in many cases, and he should therefore support the clause.


said, that the bringing forward this clause by the Government was a breach of faith; and if it was acceded to, extermination of the labouring classes would be common in Ireland, and it should be recollected that the population was already sufficiently reduced.


objected to the repeal of the Quarter-Acre clause, and therefore thought that this clause should be struck out. There might be cases of hardship under the present law; but for the sake of the landlords, and considering that the holders of small quantities of land in Ireland were semi-farmers, semi-labourers, and semi-paupers, he trusted it would not be repealed.


said, that under the present law the wife and family of a man holding a quarter of an acre of land might be taken into a workhouse and receive relief, though the man himself could not receive relief.


dissented from the noble Earl's view of the law. He wished to know who had petitioned in favour of a repeal of the law? There was not, in his opinion, any necessity for an alteration.


said, the repeal of the Quarter-Acre Clause had been recommended by the Select Committee of the House of Commons, one of whom was the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory), who originally proposed it, and who had recently stated in his place in the House of Commons that the clause was, from the altered state of the times in Ireland, not only unnecessary, but absolutely prejudicial to the labouring classes of Ireland.


thought it would be beneficial if the Quarter-Acre Clause were repealed as regards in-door relief; but that this class of tenants should not be entitled to receive out-door relief. If the present clause were retained as it stood, the law was liable to be abused to the prejudice of the industrious ratepayers. He should therefore move that the clause be struck out.


said, that he had no objection to the Amendment, which he considered would be a great improvement in the present law.


observed that he was opposed to the extension of the system of out-door relief in Ireland. He would therefore support the Amendment; but if it were not adopted, he would vote in favour of the clause, which was based on the unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee of the House of Commons.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 (Guardians may admit any poor Person requiring Medical or Surgical Aid in Hospital).

THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE moved that the clause be omitted. He contended, that if these union-hospitals were established, the result would be to destroy the system of county infirmaries, which worked extremely well. The county infirmaries were very popular, as was shown by the fact that in the four years from 1858 to 1861 the number of patients were 160,000, 184,000, 180,000, and 186,000; and they were also very useful for teaching young men the medical profession, a purpose for which it was not likely that the union-hospitals would be used. He did not deny that in some counties it was desirable to increase the number of hospitals, but surely this was no reason for destroying a system which worked well, in order to substitute one of which they knew nothing. He would mention another circumstance, and that was, that of late years there had been attempts to transfer charges from the county rate to the poor rate; and the reason of this was that by arrangement in Ireland the tenants paid the whole of the county rate, whilst to the poor-rate the landlords contributed one-half.


urged, that the Bill should be withdrawn, as it settled nothing and unsettled everything.


said, that the hospitals in Ireland were not sufficient to supply the wants of more than two-thirds of the population, while there was accommodation in the Irish workhouses for 92,000 more inmates than were received even in a time of distress; and the proposal was, to appropriate a portion of the surplus accommodation to hospital purposes. There was no intention to supersede the infirmaries, and all that could be said, was that rival institutions would be established. But with the reputation and favour which the infirmaries enjoyed there need be no fear of injuring them. In large counties the hospitals were useless to a large portion of the people in consequence of their great distance from the places where they resided, and this Bill would be a cheap and effectual mode of providing a remedy for that defect. He sincerely hoped that the Committee would agree to the clause.

On Question, Whether the said Clause shall stand part of the Bill? their Lordships divided:—Contents 27; Not-Contents 29: Majority 2.

Newcastle, D. Dartrey, L. (L. Cremorne.)
Somerset, D.
De Tabley, L.
Ailesbury, M. Foley, L. [Teller.]
Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
De Grey, E.
Ducie, E. Harris, L.
Granville, E. Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)
Saint Germans, E.
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]
Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)
Rivers, L.
Torrington, V. Saye and Sele, L.
Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Worcester, Bp.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Camoys, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Carew, L.
Westmeath, M. Clarina, L.
Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Bandon, E.
Cathcart, E. Clonbrock, L.
Powis, E. Colchester, L.
Romney, E. Congleton, L.
Wicklow, E. Denman, L.
Downes, L.
Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.) [Teller.] Grantley, L.
Grinstead, L. (E. Enniskillen.)
De Vesci, V.
Dungannon, V. [Teller.] Redesdale, L.
Lifford, V. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Chichester, Bp. Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)
Churston, L.

Resolved in the Negative.

Clauses 4 to 6 struck out.

Clause 7 to 10 agreed to, with Amendments.

Clause 11 (Religious Education of Children, the Religion of whose Parents is not known.)


said, this was the most objectionable and absurd clause in the entire Bill. Under its provisions, a child found by a Quaker, a Jew, or an Anabaptist, was to be registered in the religion of the finder. He moved to omit from "Orphan" to the end of the clause.


said, the existing law was a dead letter, and Law Officers of the Crown at different times had given conflicting opinions. Such perplexity had been felt with regard to this question that at last a Bill was brought in, directing the child to be registered in the religion of the majority of the guardians. It was easy to see into what strife Poor Law boards would be plunged by such a regulation. Another proposal was to decide the point by the religion of the majority of the inhabitants of the district; but there were districts in Ireland where the population was pretty evenly divided between Protestants, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. It was said that this question was a very important one and ought not to be left to chance; but, not to say it profanely, what was the religion of anybody but chance? The finder was the person in whose religion the child ought properly to be registered, because the child properly belonged to him, and no one except the parent had a right to take it out of his hands.


opposed the clause, and trusted their Lordships would not by, agreeing to it, sanction a breach of the law at present in force.


thought that in cases of the kind referred to the religion of the State should be the one in which the children should be brought up; and if the noble Viscount would alter his Amendment, by simply moving the rejection of the last four lines of the clause, he would support him.


had not the slightest hesitation in accepting the suggestion of the noble Earl.


suggested that if there was any difficulty about the enforcement of the existing law, the Poor Law Commissioners might send down a sealed order.

On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand Part of the Clause? their Lordships divided:—Contents 24; Non-Contents 26: Majority 2.

Resolved in the Negative; Then the said clause, as amended, was agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to; Further Amendments made: Report thereof to be received To-morrow [Bill No. 197].

House adjourned at a quarter before Eleven o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.