HL Deb 25 July 1898 vol 62 cc992-1000

Amendment proposed— Page 16, line 15, after 'council,' insert 'and in the case of the borough of Galway the Galway Town Improvement Commissioners.'"—(Lord Morris.)


My Lords, although a small matter, this is one of some importance. There are certain towns in Ireland which, following the analogy of the English Bill, have been made county boroughs. In England I think the number of county boroughs amounts to between 160 and 170, but the number of towns in Ireland selected as county boroughs amounts to six. True it is that the urban population of England is, practically speaking, two-thirds of the population of the country, whereas in Ireland, I regret to say, the urban population is scarcely one-fifth; but that appears to me an additional reason why the few towns of importance in Ireland should be put in the Schedule. Six towns have been put in the Schedule—Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Londonderry, and Waterford—and I move to have the town of Galway added as a seventh. I believe the number of inhabitants which was selected as a rough sort of test as regards county boroughs in England was 50,000. To apply such a test in Ireland would be simply ridiculous, for there are only three towns in Ireland with 50,000 inhabitants. I believe there was some sort of rough test applied as regards Ireland, and that a line was drawn at towns of 20,000 inhabitants—I am not quite sure whether I am correct as to the number—which would include only six towns. But that was only a rough test, and could be only a rough test. In England other towns which did not amount to 50,000 inhabitants were added for special reasons. I hold in my hand a list of 10 of them, one being the city of Canterbury, of which the population is only 23,000, or not quite one half the minimum that was accepted. Why was Canterbury included? I suppose for historic reasons, and because it was a city of itself, or probably because applications were made for its inclusion by the inhabitants and persons interested. Therefore there was no hard and fast rule about it, and why should this hard and fast rule be applied in Ireland, contrary to the wishes and contrary to the sentiments of the people? The town for which I plead was the town that first introduced me into the other House, over three and thirty years ago, and the first time I ever held office under the Government. I was a colleague of the Prime Minister when he was Secretary of State for India in 1866. But personal considerations should have no weight in your Lordships' House. What is the history of Galway? I will give you, in a few words, a short summary of it, which I have not taken from any Irish book. Under the circumstances I thought it better to refer to a Scotch book, and accordingly I referred to Black's Guide Book, published in Edinburgh, and I find it stated there that Galway was one of the earliest of the towns, if not the earliest town, after the Anglo-Norman invasion; that it was built in the 12th century and walled in by Anglo-Norman settlers, 13 in number, who derived the soubriquet of the "Tribes of Galway." I may say interlocatory, that I represent one of those 13 families. What was the position of Galway in the middle ages? Black's Scotch book tells us that it was remarkable for its great commercial prosperity, principally trading with Spain; and the writer of the book prognosticates the great advantages that are to be derived from Galway. The tourist traffic has been very much developed owing to the exertions of patriotic Irishmen, amongst whom I would include my noble Friend the Earl of Mayo in the front rank; and I fail to see why Galway, which is one of the oldest cities in Ireland, should be excluded from the list merely because it fails, to quite come up to the rough test of 20,000 population which has been applied by the Government as a qualification for a county borough. Galway has a population of over 17,000. The last census states the population to be 16,972; but Galway has made great progress since 1891. The Town Commissioners, who represent the municipal authority, and the expiring grand jury have memorialised the Chief Secretary to have Galway included in the list of county boroughs. It affects nobody but Galway itself. I can understand objecting to the sentiment of Home Ruler, because that was sentiment when sentiment clashes with important interests. I was myself called to order in a leading journal because the other night I happened to speak about sentiment in Ireland. I was told that in order to be consistent I ought to be a Home Ruler, because that was sentiment also. But many think that that sentiment would lead to disastrous result? whereas the sentiment I am advocating will lead to no result which can injure anyone or interfere in the slightest degree with the working of this Bill. I will ask my noble and learned Friend, therefore, to give some more definite answer than sic volo, sic jubeo. There are four provinces in Ireland. You cannot abolish that geographical fact, and unless Galway is included in the Schedule there will be one province without a single county borough in it. Galway has always been a distinct county. Boroughs in England, with less than 50,000 population were included as county boroughs. Why? Because they had always been counties. Well, Galway has been a county always. It had a Charter in the reign of King John. It has a distinct lord lieutenant, a distinct grand jury, a distinct recorder, and it is in every respect as much a county as any of the other counties in Ireland. I await with great expectation the answer of my noble and learned Friend as to why Galway has not been included. People of prosaic mind may say this is purely a matter of sentiment. But is not the basis of two of the greatest motives in life—patriotism and loyalty—sentiment? Looking back to old times and to old memories, and not bad ones, we find that the position of Galway was great in the Middle Ages, and it now promises to be great again. It has a population verging upon the number that, as I understand, was to be the limit of the population which was necessary as a qualification for a county borough. I ask your Lordships—I ask the independent opinion of this House—as to whether my Amendment should not be adopted, if there is no reason given sufficient to satisfy your Lordships that there is no principle involved, or that there will be nobody who will have a reason to complain.


My Lords, I beg to support the Amendment of my noble and learned Friend. It is perfectly true, as he has stated, that the town of Galway is an entirely distinct unit from the county of Galway. I have the honour to be Lord Lieutenant for both, but by two separate patents, which I remember for the perfectly good reason that I had to pay separate fees on the transaction, and I am disposed to think that if Her Majesty's Government are fusing the two communities together, and throwing the town into the county, the question arises whether I ought not to be reimbursed part of the fees I paid. I merely mention this matter to show how entirely separate these two places are, and I think that what my noble and learned Friend has stated as to the county of Galway is quite true—I have every reason to believe that the people would thoroughly wish that the old divisions should be maintained, and that the county of Galway and the county of the town of Galway should be kept distinct. I think they would like it, because of old traditions and sentiment. Being, as it is, the capital of a county, they would think it an indignity if it was merged into the county. The county of Galway is very large as it is. It is pretty nearly 100 miles from end to end, and it is my opinion that the county council will have quite enough to do without having to look after the county and town of Galway, and they would undoubtedly prefer that the county of the town of Galway should continue to manage its own affairs, and they should manage theirs. I really think that in such a case as this the hard-and-fast rule ought not to be pressed too strictly. Some consideration ought to be paid to the sentiments and feelings of the people, and we all know that in Ireland people are deeply impressed with feelings of that kind.


This is a matter that was mentioned more than once in the House of Commons. I think it was discussed in all its stages. Naturally, there was a good deal of feeling amongst the towns which are under the limit that was fixed for the size of county boroughs, and my noble and learned Friend who represents Galway, with all its traditions and associations, and the position which it occupies possibly next the population, limit, naturally feels strongly upon the subject There is no one entitled to speak with more strength and persuasiveness upon that question, connected, as he is, by property, by family, and by old ties and associations with this ancient town of Galway. But other towns with figures near to the limit mark also feel a considerable grievance upon this point, and my noble Friend the Marquess of Ormonde has a very strong view in reference to Kilkenny, with its ancient corporation, and memorials of history, which show that Parliaments have been held there. The noble Lord opposite (Lord de Vesci) who represents the young community of Kingstown is anxious that it should be included, not upon any ground of history or of association, but on the ground of population and of progress. The question in the House of Commons was dealt with upon the broad ground that the line had to be regarded as drawn from the point of view of convenience—that it must be drawn somewhere, and whenever it was drawn the towns that were excluded, and particularly the town that came nearest to it, would naturally feel very strongly. Under all the circumstances of the case, as there must be a line drawn, the line was drawn at the places thought most convenient, where divisions of the population were very clearly marked. With no desire whatever to cast the slightest reflection upon the towns excluded—and I may mention that in the case of Galway, it retains its assizes and a great amount of its ordinary civic work—I think, under the circumstances, I have to ask your Lordships not to assent to the Amendment moved.


I knew that the case did not admit of an answer. This case was not dealt with on its own merits in the House of Commons. There was a Motion affecting many towns in Ireland—some of them going down to a population of 8,000 or 10,000—and these were dealt with en bloc. The circumstances—the particular circumstances of the case of Galway—were never put forward by anybody. The Member for Galway does not attend, excepting under very special circumstances, and there was nobody to point out the historical associations of Galway, and the large population it possessed. My noble and learned Friend says, in an airy way—and there is nothing more dangerous than treating figures in an airy way—that these towns have all very much the same population, and he mentioned the case of Kilkenny. I have no objection to Kilkenny being also included. My noble and learned Friend has given no answer excepting that one which I mentioned the other night, sic volo sic jubeo. I shall certainly go to a Division, and assert the independence of the House of Lords.


I am not quite sure whether the noble and learned Lord has sufficiently realised the great difficulty of dealing with this matter upon any basis excepting that of population. The moment you depart from the limit of population you drag in all sorts of more or less fanciful claims and considerations. The noble and learned Lord put in an eloquent claim on behalf of Galway, because of its; antiquity. There is another noble Lord, on the other side of the House, who is equally prepared to put in a plea for another city with which he is connected on the ground that it is a young and rising community. So you will have to take all of these cities on the ingenious pleas which are put forward, with the result that if you do you will create a great feeling of dissatisfaction and resentment in the minds of those-who are refused. In regard to Galway in particular, I am assured that when this Bill was under discussion in the House of Commons no claim was put in on behalf of it. The Members for that part of Ireland did not apparently think the case was a strong one, and the desire of the people of Galway was not sufficiently marked to justify them in urging the claim which has been so strongly urged by the noble and learned Lord. I hope, therefore, that your Lordships will support the Bill as it stands, and not make an exception in favour of Galway.


I shall certainly support the noble Lord's Amendment. Your Lordships must bear in-mind two things—namely, that Galway is the chief town of the county, and if it is not put into the schedule the county of Galway will have no county borough, at all—and surely that, in itself, without any other reason, is almost sufficient a reason for making an exception, and not to be bound by absolutely hard and fast rule of population. I do not wish to go over the ground so ably traversed by my noble and learned Friend, but I trust that your Lordships will remember that, for many reasons which your Lordships will recognise without me going into them, Galway occupies a unique position amongst the towns of Ireland The House divided:—Contents 67; Not-Contents 62.

Abercom, M. (D. Abercorn) Fingall, L. (E. Fingall)
Hare, L. (E. Listowel)
Bristol, M. Harlech, L.
Hertford, M. Hawkesbury, L.
Zetland, M. Hood of Avalon, L.
Inchiquin, L.
Camperdown, E. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare)
Carlisle, E.
Dartrey, E. Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl [Teller]
de Montalt, E.
Haddington, E.
Lucan, E. Lingen, L.
Mayo, E. Loch, L.
Rosse, E. Macnaghten, L.
Vane, E. (M. Londonderry) Massy, L.
Methuen, L.
Monck, L. (V. Monck)
Bangor, V. Monckton, L. (V. Galway)
Falmouth, V.
Llandaff, V. Morris, L.
Sidmouth, V. O'Neill, L.
Templetown, V. Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde)
Aberdare, L. Plunket, L.
Annaly, L. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough)
Ardilaun, L.
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort) Rathmore, L.
Revelstoke, L.
Castlemaine, L. Russell of Killowen, L.
Castletown, L. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown)
Cheylesmore, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam) Saltoun, L.
Saye and Sele, L.
Clonbrock, L. [Teller] Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde)
Cloncurry, L.
Colchester, L. Stanmore, L.
Connemara, L. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway)
Crofton, L.
de Vesci, L. (V. de Vesci) Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Digby, L. Sudley, L. (E. Arran)
Fermanagh, L. (E. Erne) Templemore, L. Ventry, L.
Halsbury, E. (L. Chancellor) Albemarle, E.
Ancaster, E.
Devonshire, D. (L. President) Clarendon, E.
Coventry, E.
Cross, V. (L. Privy Seal) Denbigh, E.
Hardwicke, E.
Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal) Kimberley, E.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Grafton, D. Morley, E.
Portland, D. Mount Edgcumbe, E.
Onslow, E.
Bath, M. Portsmouth, E.
Lansdowne, M. Powis, E.
Salisbury, M. Saint Germans, E.
Pembroke and Montgomery, E. (L. Steward) Selborne, E.
Stamford, E.
Waldegrave, E. [Teller]
Abingdon, E.
Addington, L. Kenyon, L.
Alington, L. Kinnaird, L.
Ampthill, L. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore)
Ashbourne, L.
Bagot, L. Lawrence, L.
Balfour, L. Mendip, L. (V. Clifden)
Bateman, L.
Belper, L. Monkswell, L.
Braye, L. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Muncaster, L.
Calthorpe, L. Poltimore, L.
Churchill, L. [Teller] Rothschild, L.
Crawshaw, L. Shute, L. (V. Barrington)
De L'Isle and Dudley, L.
Thring, L.
De Mauley, L. Tweedmouth, L.
De Saumarez, L. Wantage, L.
Fairer, L. Windsor, L.
James, L. Wrottesley, L.

Motion made and Question put— That clause 21, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Motion agreed to.

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