stated, that from the great hardship felt by the unequal pressure of the county rates in Ireland, in consequence of their being levied according to surveys taken in some instances a century and a half ago, and in others according to customs peculiar to those counties in which no survey existed: he conceived it of the utmost importance that a revision of the system by which so large a sum as 900,000l. was annually levied, should without delay take place, and that an uniform practice should be adopted, which would relieve those who felt themselves unequally burthened, without doing justice to those who had hitherto been exempt from their share in this contribution. Among many instances of the undue operation of the practice now in existence, he stated, that in the northern part of the county of Antrim, one portion of the barony of Glen-arm was rated at 18s. per acre, while another, in an equal state of cultivation, was entirely exempt. In some of the southern counties of Ireland, this tax was laid on denominations of land called plough lands, which, although varying in extent from sixty to five hundred acres, were obliged severally to contribute an equal sum towards the purposes of the county. He instanced the disproportion which existed in the county of Limerick, between the survey by which the county was rated, and that which it actually contained, of many thousand acres, by which it might be in the power of collectors to commit frauds of an extensive nature, by levying an acreable rate from those who, under the present survey of the county, were not subject to the charge of it. He concluded by moving "for leave to bring in a bill for a more equal assessment of monies levied by presentments in Ireland."
§ Sir J. Newport
said, that no tax was more unequally levied at present than the county rates in Ireland. It was of the utmost importance that of a tax of 900,000l. annually, the inhabitants of the country should contribute in just and fair proportions. He therefore believed the measure contemplated would prove of immense advantage to the great body of the tenantry of Ireland.
§ Mr. Leslie Foster
wished the House, at this early stage of the measure, to be aware of its magnitude and difficulty. A survey of Ireland of 12 millions of acres, at 6d. per acre, would cost no less than 300,000l. The smallest sum that it could be estimated at was 100,000l. and though he thought that sum would be well bestowed in making such a survey, yet it was the duty of parliament to be careful that means were employed to obtain a good one. As to what had been said of the pressure upon tenants by the unequal assessment, it should be remembered, that they had made their bargains with their landlords, knowing what proportion of the assessment they were liable to bear.
§ Mr. Croker
said, that on the return of peace the admiralty had lost no time in considering how they might obtain charts of the coasts of the empire, such as they never have yet had, namely, accurate ones. The west coast of Scotland and the coast of Ireland were perhaps those parts of Europe, of which the existing charts were most defective. In considering how they might remedy this disgrace, the admiralty had found that in taking a maritime survey of a coast so indented as that of Ireland, a country, of which no part was more than 50 miles from the sea, much of that expense would be incurred, which would suffice for an internal survey also. Knowing, too, that the ordnance survey of England was in great progress, and that it would probably be extended to Ireland, they thought it would be a profligate waste of the public money, if they did not endeavour to have both the maritime and the ordnance survey prosecuted at once. They had communicated on the subject with the member for Oxford (Mr. Peel), then secretary of the lord lieutenant, who had received it with that attention, which he paid to every subject connected with the welfare of Ireland. The persons and instruments employed in the ordnance survey were now in Scotland, whence, when they had completed the survey of that country, they would be 806 transferred to Ireland. In addition to a maritime and geographical survey, a statistical one might be completed at a small expense, if all the works proceeded together. He thought, therefore, that a Resolution of the House ought to be passed, the execution of which might be safely left to the executive government. He had no objection to the bringing in and printing of the bill.
said, he had no objection to any means by which the object he had in view, might be attained at less expense.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
was of opinion that unless government took the management of the business into their hands, it would not be found practicable. The hon. mover could not expect members to agree to a measure of so important a nature without being made acquainted with its machinery. He therefore trusted that he would have no objection to adopt the suggestion of his hon. friend, and let the bill lie over till the next session.
§ Leave was given to bring in the bill.