HL Deb 06 May 1884 vol 287 cc1454-6

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord President.)


said, that this was one of the first Bills that had been brought forward for the confirmation of Provisional Orders that had been made under the Act which was very properly intended to provide labourers' cottages in Ireland. That Act was passed rather hurriedly; two or three defects in it were pointed out at the time the measure was passing through Parliament; and it was even observed that, in the form in which it stood, it was totally unworkable. If it had not been totally unworkable, it had, at all events, caused a great deal of confusion, and might be the cause of a great deal more. The authorities who were intrusted with the administration of the Act were the Sanitary Authority—that was, the Board of Guardians—who had now constituted themselves, to a large extent, political debating societies; and, while not always keeping in view the advan- tages of those for whose benefit the Act was passed, disregarded the rights of anyone who was' not in favour with them. In short, they mixed up politics with the matter. At the same time, the Sanitary Boards had large powers to choose sites and take possession of them under certain formalities. The Lord President had asked them to carefully watch the working of the Act; and he thought it right to urge on him that one Amendment, at least, should be introduced to provide that sites taken by compulsion should, at all events, have a frontage to some public road. At present, the sites which were selected were often a very considerable distance from any public road, and even in the centre of a man's farm, which certainly was not intended by the Act. It was very desirable indeed that the choice of sites should be carried out under some more responsible authority, so as to cause as little inconvenience as possible. The working of the Act, he believed, had caused great expense, and was the cause of great dissatisfaction to those with whose rights it interfered; and he thought that, at all events, in the respect he referred to, it ought to be worked so as to trouble those concerned as little as possible.


said, he entirely endorsed all the allegations that had been made by his noble Friend in regard to the working of the Act. In Ireland a man had always a great objection to building labourers' cottages on his own land; but that objection did not apply to the building of cottages on the lands of his neighbours, and the only protection they had was the Boards of Guardians, which, as they had heard, had taken up a political stand. The result of this was that the Act had done far more mischief than it had conferred benefits. He hoped, however, that in future the authorities would take care that the benefits which it was intended that the Act should confer upon the labourers should not be neutralized by the action of the Boards of Guardians.


said, that he did not like to express any opinion of his own at this moment on the working of the Act, which had, no doubt, been attended with very considerable difficulty; but he would take care to bring to the attention of the Irish Government, and especially of the Chief Secretary, the points raised by the noble Lords.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly.