HL Deb 13 March 1862 vol 165 cc1415-6

rose to present a Petition with respect to the Regulation of the Waters of the Shannon; and to ask, Whether by the Answer of the Treasury to the Memorial lately presented to that Department through the Irish Government, respecting the better Regulation of the Waters of the Shannon, it is to be understood that the landowners who signed that Memorial shall pay the expenses of the engineers or other officers employed by the Government, or only of the engineer to be engaged in that inquiry upon their behalf, in conjunction with persons in the service of the Irish Board of Works? The noble Marquess said that the Petition had reference to the Commission appointed twenty-five years ago in compliance with an Act of Parliament, and to the works which under subsequent Acts were constructed by the Commissioners, involving an expenditure of nearly £ 600,000. The Petitioners complained that those works were improperly and unskilfully constructed, and that they were not in accordance with the Acts of Parliament which required them. They complained also that the improvement in the navigation of the Shannon was not such as had been anticipated from those works, and also that the drainage had been completed in an unsatisfactory manner, so that from floods and inundations the country was in a worse condition than before the dams and weirs were constructed. The destruction of property from this cause was so considerable that in several places the people affected rose, and would have committed outrages if means had not been used to quiet them, and to assure them that every effort would be made to draw the attention of the authorities to the grievance of which they complained. A Memorial, most influentially signed, had been forwarded to the Government upon the subject; but though it reached the hands of the Treasury in December, no answer was given to it until the 1st of March. The Petitioners prayed for inquiry by a Parliamentary Committee into their allegations; but he (the Marquess of Clanricarde) did not propose to give a notice in accordance with that prayer, because in the answer to the Memorial an inquiry on certain conditions had been promised. Whether the memorialists would be willing or not to accept the offer, he was not prepared to say. He might say, however, that the offer of an inquiry upon conditions that they should not investigate the shortcomings of the Commissioners, and that the inquiry should be conducted under the sole guidance, superintendence, and control of the Irish Board of Works, while the Petitioners were to pay the cost, was not such an answer as the memorialists had a right to expect. On Monday he should move for a copy of the Memorial, and of the answer of the Government thereto.


thought the accusation against the Treasury, as to the date of the reply to the Memorial, ought not to be pressed to any great extent. Considering the numerous applications made to the Treasury for the expenditure of the public money, it ought to take full time to consider them, rather than give a hasty answer, consenting to that expenditure. He understood that by the answer to the Memorial, dated the 1st of March, the Treasury consented to the appointment of two engineers, one by the Government, the other by the owners of the land, to report whether anything could be done, without injury to the navigation of the Shannon, to prevent or lessen the risk of flooding. This consent was given on three conditions—first, that the proprietors of the land pay half the expense of the inquiry; secondly, that nothing should be done that might in any degree injure the navigation of the river; and thirdly, that any improvements, when sanctioned, should be carried out at the sole expense of the proprietors. These conditions he hoped the memorialists would not consider unreasonable.

House adjourned at half-past Six o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.