HL Deb 01 June 1880 vol 252 cc887-9

asked Her Majesty's Government, What grant the Lords of Her Majesty's Treasury would make under the Piers and Harbours (Ireland) Act towards meeting the large contributions from local and other sources already announced? The noble Earl said, that in the year 1846—the year of the great Irish Famine—Parliament granted the sum of £50,000 for fishery piers and harbours in Ireland, and in the following year, 1847, a further grant of 40,000 was made; but in the year 1866 a Bill was passed through Parliament by which there was no charge made upon the Consolidated Fund for the purpose, it being provided that grants towards piers and harbours in Ireland should be placed in future in the Estimates. During the period from 1846 to the present time the sum of £125,000 odd had been granted for piers and harbours in Ireland; and, deducting from that amount the two grants that were made during the years 1846–7, which came to £90,000, there had only been some £35,000 odd expended during that period, which amounted to about £1,100 a-year. It was generally believed that the grants towards Irish piers and harbours had been at the rate of £5,000 a-year; but he hoped he had shown their Lordships that that was an error. Parliament, of late years, had accepted the sum of £5,000 a-year as the fair share of Ireland for grants towards piers and harbours. That sum certainly ought to be a fair proportion for Ireland, taking into consideration the sums granted to England and Scotland. But he wished to remind their Lordships that these were exceptional times; and he hoped he should hear from Her Majesty's Government that the precedents established in 1846 and 1847 might be followed now as generously as they were then. The part of the country in which he resided was, unfortunately, in the scheduled districts—namely, the county of Donegal; and, indeed, he might say the whole of the West Coast of Ireland was a scheduled district. Speaking of the efforts made in his own district towards subscribing the one-fourth required by Parliament before a grant was made, he could only say that they had put their shoulders to the wheel. For one pier in his neighbourhood they had raised the sum of £800, and, to the great joy of their hearts, the Canadian Relief Committee had supplemented that sum by a grant of £500. That; put them in possession of a sum of £1,300 for a fishery pier. The pier had been approved of by the Fishery Inspectors. For another pier, also in his neighbourhood, they had been able to raise, from voluntary contributions, the sum of £1,000; and he might tell their Lordships that these voluntary contributions had been contributed to, not only by landlords who had not received their rents, but also by tenants who had not paid their rents. He would not trouble their Lordships further than to express a hope that the Government would make a grant of, say, £100,000, so as to assist those who were not able to assist themselves.


In answer to the Question of the noble Earl opposite, I have to say that Her Majesty's Government, in view of the present distressed state of Ireland, have determined to forestall the grant which is usually made towards piers and harbours in Ireland, and it is intended to bring in a Bill to advance £30,000 for that object. The noble Earl said that for the last 30 years the grant for piers had been £1,100 a-year; but I think I may say, without fear of contradiction, that for the last few years the average payments made for piers has been about £5,000 a-year. The grant of £30,000 is intended to meet one which has been made by Canada for the same object. It is the intention of the Government to bring in the Bill as early as possible.


said, he had heard with great satisfaction the announcement just made by his noble Friend, for no better employment of public money than this was possible. No doubt, the distress in Ireland would continue for the next few months, and the proposed expenditure would, during that period, be the means of relieving much distress. The construction of piers and harbours was a work in which the Government might most properly assist, and especially so as in some districts the inhabitants had no possibility of gathering a livlihood from the sea without having the assistance of these works. Looking at the generous contributions which had been sent over from the Dominion of Canada, the response which Her Majesty's Government had made was no more than would be dictated by a generous spirit. There was one point which he hoped would not be forgotten in the Bill which the Government had decided upon introducing, and that was the insertion of stringent regulations to insure that when the money had been expended the piers and harbours would not be allowed to get out of repair, as after 1846–7 the works were not attended to, with what result was pretty well known.