HC Deb 25 March 1847 vol 91 cc387-413

House in Committee on the Poor Relief (Ireland) Bill. Mr. Greene in the chair.

On the 11th Clause being read,


moved to omit the words that declared it expedient to increase the number of ex-officio guardians. He trusted he should be supported in this Amendment by those English Members whose object in passing this Bill was that of strongly and heartily making the property of Ireland support its paupers. He was not, as he said before, at all certain that the Bill would be effective; but he was still, under the circumstances of the country, willing that the experiment should be tried. He would put it to English Members whether there was not a striking inconsistency in bringing forward this clause at all. What was the reason assigned for the introduction of the Bill? Why, it had been stated in that House over and over again that this extended Poor Law Bill was necessary in the present crisis, because, as the House considered, a large portion of the landlords of Ireland would not do their duty by the poor unless forced by a system of compulsory taxation to do so. And yet what did they find? They were about handing over to the exclusive management of these gentlemen, whose conduct they impugned, the very matter in which they accused them of gross negligence. They told the Irish proprietors that they would compel them to feed the poor, but they provided no means of doing so. They said to them, "Your conduct has been very bad; you have been deficient in your duty towards the poor. You must suffer and be taxed for your conduct, but we shall leave the amount of that taxation to yourselves. You are to tax yourselves as much as you please, and no more." The ex-officio guardians formed a very large proportion of the present boards, being one-third of the entire; and the landlords had, besides, a plurality of votes, first as owners and then as occupiers, according to the scale laid down in the existing Act. They also exercised great influence under the system of proxy voting—a system that worked the greatest evils, and produced the greatest frauds in Ireland. It did no good, and there was no practical check on the party holding the proxy papers, who might be a person having no right of his own, and holding the proxies of parties that had no existence. Under this system the landlords had great influence over the farmers and labourers on their estates; and the party of the ex-officio guardians were thus able to obtain a large majority on the boards. To suppose that these men would give extensive relief, was to go against the experience of the past; and if they resolved to restrict the relief, there was absolutely no remedy against them. He did not think there had been any case made out for the clause. The property of the elected guardians was as dear to them as that of the ex-officios; and he thought some attempt ought to have been made to prove them guilty of wanton prodigality before their power was taken from them. There could be no doubt, however, but that they were more inclined to lend a humane ear to the wants of the poor than the ex-officio guardians. The hon. Gentleman read several extracts from letters, from the parish priest of Cootehill, the rev. Mr. Dillon, parish priest of Ballinasloe, the very rev. Dr. O'Rafferty, of Tullamore, and other Roman Catholic clergyman in Ireland, condemning the proposed increase of the ex-officio guardians in the strongest language, and alluding to particular acts of intolerance committed by them. He could, if he wished to detain the House, read many more extracts of a similar kind, and more particularly the resolutions of the meeting of clergymen from which the very rev. Dr. Collins and the rev. Mr. M'Carthy had been sent as a deputation to this country, and which were of the strongest kind against the proposed increase in the number of the ex-officio guardians. He next came to the most painful part of the subject, and one which he would endeavour to deal with as briefly and as lightly as possible. He meant the interference with the religious feelings of the paupers by the guardians. It appeared, by returns, which though not laid before Parliament, had been made with great care, that in all Ireland there were 2,600 Protestant magistrates, and only 410 Catholic magistrates. This disproportion was the more severely felt, as, strange to say, the borough magistrates, amongst whom chiefly were the Catholics, were not allowed to become ex-officio guardians. The Protestant ex-officio guardians of the counties interfered with and controlled the religious teaching of the Catholic pauper children; and that injustice would be necessarily much increased if this clause were; carried. In the North and South Dublin unions there had been very strong instances indeed of such interference; but he would not go into particulars unless required. He would only say, that in both the Dublin unions the Catholic chaplains and Catholic guardians unanimously protested against particular acts, declaring that if persevered in they would be religious grievances. The Protestant guardians unanimously voted in favour of these acts; and in consequence of the number of ex-officio guardians having the majority on the boards, they succeeded in inflicting the grievance in both cases. They were backed out, he regretted to say, by the Poor Law Commissioners: but in the North Dublin union the case was too flagrant, and the Commissioners, after endeavouring to make the Catholic guardians be silent, were forced to give way. In the case which occurred in the South Dublin union, and which took place only a few months ago, the Catholic guardians were treated with complete contempt by the Commissioners. He wished to say nothing against the Protestant members of these boards individually; but he had to accuse them of bigotry in the execution of their duty as guardians of the poor. As for the Catholics, all they claimed or desired was noninterference and perfect equality for each sect. The noble Lord at the head of the Government expressed his belief, that a better spirit was growing up among the different religious parties in Ireland, and hoped that this spirit would be soon fully realized. He would remind the noble Lord, however, of what happened in that House. An Irish party was formed at the commencement of the Session, and it was hoped that at last both parties began to see they had been made the tools of others, and that their country suffered in consequence. It was supposed that they were united on the principle of some little degree of mutual concession being made. The Catholic members of that party did make such concession. Up to this hour there had not been on their part a single call made to the House to look into the exuberant and overgrown revenues of the Established Church, notwithstanding that they were in a time of national calamity, when even the imperial revenues were threatened to be drained, and when every person possessing any species of property in Ireland would soon feel, if they had not already felt, the strain that was put upon them. Nothing could be more proper than if they called upon the House at once to originate some plan by which the Church of a small minority in Ireland should have its surplus revenues made applicable to the wants of the country; but under all the circumstances they did not do so—they remained completely silent on the subject. But was there any similar concession made by hon. Members from Ireland sitting opposite? He alluded to this subject merely to make the House aware of the spirit that existed among the class to which the ex-officio guardians belonged. A Bill had been proposed to repeal a few empty words—to repeal words which were not only confessed to be empty and useless, but which, it was admitted, the present state of society would not endure to give them any practical effect whatever. They were only valuable as a means of insulting the Catholics. They were avowed to be a mere brutum fulmen, which could not be acted upon; and the Catholic Members were watching to see what would be done in that case. It was quite possible for the Irish Members on the other side of the House to have stayed away when the discussion took place on that Bill. But they could not do so. The habit of intolerance was too deeply rooted within them to let them relinquish the chance of keeping up this wretched miserable shred of bigotry against their Catholic countrymen, and they accordingly came and spoke and voted against it. And yet these were the men to whom the House was about giving a power of interference with the Catholic chaplains and the Catholic pauper children of the workhouses in Ireland. They talked of happy times coming; but he asked them to look at the conduct of men of high character and of education, and occupying a foremost place in every social relation of life; but who, when touched on the point of their old ascendancy prejudices, at once become intolerant and inclined to act with tyranny. The Catholics were a very small minority in that House, and they could expect but very little response to any Catholic feeling. In that House, where Protestant feelings and—he did not use the word offensively — Protestant prejudices prevailed, the Catholics had very little, hope of his Amendment being carried. But still they would make an appeal to English Members on this question. They would tell them fairly and frankly that the Irish Catholics could not submit to it. If they passed this clause, they would permit the Protestant guardians to tyrannise over Catholic pauper children. They would thus give a signal for the commencement of a religious agitation such as had not yet been witnessed in that unfortunate country; and he could tell the House that the Catholic Members would feel bound to make it an effective agitation. By passing the Bill with this clause, provision would be made for religious intolerance and persecution, and for the exercise of ascendancy in its most cruel form against those classes of the people who could not help themselves; the seeds would be sown, and the foundations laid, of a most miserable and bitter agitation, which it sickened the soul to think of. He therefore called upon every friend of peace between men of different religions—upon every person who hated dissensions upon subjects too sacred for dissension, to vote for the Amendment which he proposed.


wished to express, on the part of the Government, and on his own part, his entire concurrence with the opinion the hon. Member for Kilkenny had expressed, that in thus providing a measure of relief for Irish poverty, the rights of conscience should be respected, and every reasonable precaution should be taken against the infringement of those rights. In proposing this clause, the Government never dreamt that it would have the effect ascribed to it by the hon. Gentleman. He deeply regretted that the introduction of it had occasioned any discussion involving religious considerations. Not that he blamed the hon. Gentleman; he respected the warmth of the hon. Gentleman's feeling on behalf of the Church to which he belonged; and he agreed with the hon. Gentleman that every proper precaution should be taken to prevent the members of that Church, whilst receiving the funds provided for relief under this Bill, being subject to any infringement of their religious liberty. But the Government thought, that whatever objection might be entertained to the existing arrangement in respect to religious differences, it would be to a certain degree diminished by this clause. The hon. Gentleman had rested his objection to the clause upon the religious part of the question. With regard to that part of it, the hon. Gentleman drew his inferences, as to the probable working of this clause, from the actual state of things in Ireland at the present moment. He said, that all the magistrates, speaking in general terms, who were now ex-officio guardians, were Protestants; and that the consequence was, that tyranny was exercised over the minds and consciences of the inmates of the workhouses, if they were Roman Catholics, by the influence of those magistrates. The Government had certainly thought that in proposing the alteration embodied in this clause, far less opportunity would be afforded for the exercise of any religious feeling of the kind. By a return which had been laid before the House, it appeared that in a great majority of cases the effect of this clause would be to let in the whole of the justices resident in the union, who, without the possibility of any exercise of religious feeling, be they Protestant or Roman Catholic, would immediately become ex-officio members of the board. In all those cases where the present objection existed of a partial selection of magistrates as ex-officio guardians, it would be put an end to by this clause, as all, whether Roman Catholics or Pro- testants, would be ex-officio members of that board. In England it was quite true, that all justices resident in any union became ex-officio guardians; and it was thought that when it was proposed to add a great burden to property in Ireland, there should also be an increase in the representation of the property in the boards of guardians. That was the motive with which this clause was proposed; and he must remind the House that a much larger portion of the rate fell upon property in Ireland than was the case in England. In England the occupier paid the whole of the rate, though there was not much difference in the end, because, by arrangement, it came ultimately to be paid by the landlord. But in Ireland the liability was, in the first instance, thrown exclusively upon the landlords in the case of tenements rated under 4l. per annum; and in all cases above 4l. the landlord was, in the first instance, in some cases liable to half, and in many cases to considerably more. Now, looking to the increased amount of the rate likely to be paid by the operation of this Bill, it was thought proper that there should be an increased representation of property in the boards of guardians; and when the Government came to consider the extent to which that should go, they thought of a small increase only, similar to that which was proposed in 1843; but that proposal was not accompanied by any such measure as this Poor Law Bill; and they thought also that it would, in connexion with that Bill, be open to the objection that there would still be the power of selection, and that that selection might be partially exercised, and might have been attended with those prejudicial results which the hon. Gentleman anticipated from the clause as it now stood. It was impossible to meet such objections as the hon. Gentleman had urged against the clause, by exactly balancing the number of Roman Catholic and Protestant magistrates; but he thought that Clauses 48 and 49 of the present Act had made special provisions with regard to this subject, of which the hon. Gentleman could not complain, and which, at the same time, showed the intention of the Government to guard against any interference with the religious liberty of the inmates of workhouses. He sincerely trusted that the clause would not be productive of the results stated by the hon. Gentleman; but if there should be any real and well-founded apprehension of that kind, he thought it would be better met by a direct provision in the law, than by any indirect mode to limit the number of ex-officio guardians.


earnestly deprecated any party, or personal, or acrimonious spirit being introduced by Irish Members into that debate. The feeling in England and in that House was sufficiently hostile towards them in respect of that Bill to make them stand by each other, or at all events differ—for independent men of course must differ on many of the questions that came before them, but differ—without any personal animosity, as he and his hon. Friend near him, the Member for Limerick (Mr. Smith O'Brien), did; differing on that clause, and indeed on most political subjects toto cœlo. It had been the bane and curse of their country that they had always been played off against each other, sect against sect, and party against party—and, for God's sake, let it not then be class against class. What else had kept them and their country down, but a want of that self-reliance and mutual independent respect which had too much characterized all classes of their countrymen, and made them on each side a sort of tacitly consenting parties to a system of Irish inferiority which had been acted on to such an extent that, up to the accession of the present Government, it was almost assumed that Irishmen were unfit for the government, and incapable of filling the highest offices of their own country? So, with regard to landlord and tenant—to the higher and to the lower classes—he knew of no separate interests that should divide them. In his heart he believed that their real interests, when well understood and comprehensively viewed, were identical, and that they must stand or fall together. He would endeavour to state his reasons for suppporting that clause, and his own Amendment going somewhat beyond it, in a mere business-like manner, without offence to any class or person. First, then, he thought that the existing boards of guardians had not attended exclusively as they should have done to matters of business, but had entertained political questions upon the repeal of the Union, and topics of that nature; and that there was not that large class of substantial farmers in Ireland that there was in England, from whom a board of guardians could be elected. He felt, moreover, that as that Bill would impose a large additional burden on property, it was but just that property should be represented at the board more fully than it had been; and a number of well-educated men would be secured for the administration of the affairs of the union. The hon. Member complained of the proportion that Protestants bore to Roman Catholics in the magistracy. He was sorry that the hon. Gentleman had made any such reference to religious distinctions; but as the hon. Gentleman had, he must answer, that the proportion was as nearly as possible the same as their relative property and numbers in that rank of life from which the magistrates were taken. Then as to the case of religious persecution at the South Dublin union, upon which the hon. Member relied—it really amounted to nothing more than the removal of one Roman Catholic schoolmistress, who had charge of the Roman Catholic children in the school of the workhouse, as she was thought incompetent for the duties of a schoolmistress—and another Roman Catholic mistress being appointed in her stead. He regretted that the hon. Member had spoken of what he called the exuberant revenues of the Established Church, for at any time they afforded scarcely a decent maintenance to the clergy of the Church; but during the present calamity in Ireland, he might safely say, that a sum equal at least to the whole of those revenues had been voluntarily devoted by the hands of the clergy of the Established Church to the sufferings of the poor, who were principally Roman Catholic. Then the hon. Gentleman upbraided the Irish Members on his side of the House, for their bigoted conduct that Session on the Bill of the hon. Member for Kinsale (Mr. Watson). Now, he believed he was the only Irish Member on that side who had spoken on the Bill, and his was not a very bigoted speech; for all he had said was that he did not desire to disturb the settlement of the Roman Catholic question which had been made in 1829; that the rest of the Bill was unimportant, and the essential part of it that which went to unsettle that question, by the repeal of the securities which had, in 1829, been conceded to the Protestant supporters of the measure; and that, therefore, he opposed the Bill of the hon. Member for Kinsale (Mr. Watson). He thought the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary rather in favour of his (Mr. Shaw's) proposal that all the magistrates should be ex-officio guardians, than of the Government proposal, that there should be a number elected by the whole body equal to the elective guardians, as in his plan there would be no opportunity of a partial or party selection; but as, from the return laid upon the Table of the House, it appeared that in 118 out of the 130 unions, the magistrates were not equal in number to the elected guardians, he did not think the difference between the proposal of the Government and Iris own of sufficient importance to justify him in dividing the House upon it, and he would leave the matter in the hands of the Government.


observed, that several hon. Members expressed apprehensions with respect to the working of the Bill. Now, he entertained an entirely different view of the subject, for he had always been in favour of a Poor Law for Ireland, and he should strongly oppose anything which threw difficulties in the way of making an adequate provision for its pauper population. The House had that day heard a statement from the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and he could not help saying he did not think that that right hon. Gentleman had succeeded in making out the case which he sought to establish. Any one acquainted with Ireland, and taking an impartial view of the condition of that country, would feel that the Irish landlord had at present quite enough of influence. He greatly regretted that religious feeling had entered so much into the present discussion. The introduction of religion into proceedings of this nature opened a door to the renewal of scenes which he hoped had been closed for ever. He could not see how any other but party and religious questions would arise, where property was all on one side, and the population on the other. There were 2,600 Protestant magistrates on the one hand, and only 400 Roman Catholics upon the other, so that the Roman Catholics could have no more than one-sixth of the ex-officio guardians. There was, therefore, a decided preponderance in favour of one religion over the other. He hoped that the Government would take measures to prevent, as far as possible, the exhibition of any feelings of religious animosity in the operations of the Act.


was desirous of making a few observations upon the Bill, as an English Member, though somewhat connected with Ireland, and the sincere advocate of religious toleration towards our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects in Ireland. As such he much regretted the tone that had been adopted by some hon. Members in speaking of this clause. If the opinions expressed by hon. Members as to the extent of religious animosities in Ireland were borne out by the facts, they would lead to the conclusion that they must despair of effecting the social improvement of Ireland. If religious dissensions prevailed to such an extent in Ireland as to affect the whole constitution of society, and affect it in such a manner that no question could be entertained without the subject of differences between Protestants and Catholics being raised, that would be a bar to all improvement whatever. The question to which this clause referred was an economic and civil question, and the religious question could not by possibility be raised unless as a collateral question, and by implication; and yet it was said that it would be impossible for Catholics and Protestants to meet on the same board for the purpose of carrying out its provisions, without the introduction of religious dissensions and animosities. He should deeply regret the existence of such feelings; but if they prevailed, it would not be advisable or wise for the Legislature to recognise them in its acts. The Legislature had already removed religious disabilities, and they ought not to do anything by their public acts which would tend to keep alive the feelings of animosity to which those disabilities gave rise. It had been assumed in the discussion of this clause, that the landlords of Ireland were in a position of antagonism to the people; but that was a principle which, in legislating for Ireland, he was not inclined to recognise, for it was calculated, if acted upon, to be highly injurious to a measure containing a principle of self-government that required a great deal of harmony and good feeling, in order that it might be effectually carried into operation. With regard to the attendance of ex-officio guardians, he could state that in England they were men of such station, intelligence, and respectability as to be placed beyond the suspicion of any unworthy motives, and were looked upon as most efficient in carrying the poor law into effect; and if that were the case in England, he thought that their attendance in Ireland must be attended with similar results, inasmuch as the Irish elected guardians were chosen from a lower class than those of England, and did not generally possess the same position and intelligence as the elected guardians of England, and therefore they would more require the co-operation of the intelligence of the ex-officio guardians. He thought that a Bill which would repudiate and ostracise the landed gentry of Ireland, and prevent them from taking a part in the administration of the business of the country, would be a very great misfortune. If it were said that there already existed too great a desire on the part of the Irish landlords to reside out of that country, would not an Act which would deprive them of the opportunity of administering the affairs of Ireland—a duty which naturally belonged to them—have a tendency to increase that desire to reside out of the country? He supported the clause because he believed that it would be impossible that the Bill could work well if the gentry of Ireland were not allowed their proper share in administering it.


said, the question for them to consider was, whether the landed proprietors of Ireland, from their conduct in past and present times, possessed a claim on the people of Ireland and on the Legislature for a greater amount of influence on the boards of guardians than that which they enjoyed under the existing law. He spoke of the landlords of Ireland as a class, for he was ready to admit that there were many amongst them who discharged their duties in a manner that reflected credit upon them. As a class, then, he would ask what claim had the landlords of Ireland for this increased influence on the boards of guardians? He was an Irish landlord, and he had felt it his duty on a late occasion to introduce a resolution to that House, which resolution contained the assertion that the main evils which affected the people of Ireland were caused by the manner in which the relations of landlord and tenant were treated by the proprietors of landed property in Ireland; and he proceeded, in introducing the resolution, to argue that the grievances under which Ireland suffered were caused by the existing relations of landlord and tenant; and if hon. Members would refer to all the evidence which had been given before the House on the subject of the relations of landlord and tenant in Ireland, they would find that his view was borne out. He thought that the protest which was promulgated by a great number of the landlords of Ireland, was well calculated to enable the House to judge whether they were fit to carry out the objects of this Bill, and whether it would tend to carry the objects of this measure into operation if the Legislature increased the influence of the landlords of Ireland upon boards of guardians. The Labour-rate Act had failed because the landlords of Ireland had not carried out its provisions as they ought; and he would add, that if they had acted properly in carrying out that measure, it would have proved to have been a serviceable instead of an injurious measure for Ireland. The magistrates of Ireland were allowed to investigate the nature of the presentments that were made; but they did not act as they should have done in many of those presentments, and instead of selecting those which were best, they yielded to popular clamour. He would state another circumstance which would enable the House to form a judgment as to the claims of the landlords for a greater share of influence on the boards of guardians, namely, that it appeared from the information which he had been enabled to obtain from various sources, that the most difficult rates to collect in Ireland were those for which the landed proprietors were responsible. It was found much more easy to collect rates from the poor man than from the landlord. He repeated, therefore, that, as a class, the landlords of Ireland had no claim to come before the House, and before the people of Ireland, and ask for greater influence on the boards of guardians than that which they already possessed—to ask for greater control in carrying out this Act. The tenants of Ireland were now very poor; they had been racked out by the landlords, who had drawn the heart's blood from the people by obtaining extortionate rents, and all this had been caused by the want of proper management on the part of the landlords of the relations between landlord and tenant. All the landlords who showed themselves deserving of being-elected guardians would be elected, and thus they would be enabled to carry out the provisions of the poor law in a more efficient manner than if they were appointed ex-officio guardians. It would therefore be a wiser course to rely on the good sense and good feeling of the people for electing those landlords who had properly discharged their duties, than to adopt a provision for placing them on the boards of guardians as ex-officio members.


did not think that any grounds had been shown by the right hon. Gentleman opposite for the change which was proposed by this clause. He was not surprised that hon. Gentlemen near him (on the Opposition benches) should support the proposition for this in- crease of ex-officio guardians; but it was somewhat strange that the right hon. Gentleman opposite should volunteer this concession to the Conservative party. It had been assumed, that the proposition for the increase of ex-officio guardians had emanated from the Irish Party; and it was only fair to them to state that it had not emanated from any such source. It had emanated from the Whig Government, and was a concession to the Conservative feelings and tendencies of that House. No arguments had been brought forward to show that the landlords of Ireland had not been properly and fairly represented on the boards of guardians; and on the contrary, he thought it fully appeared that the landlords possessed their fair and just amount of influence on these boards. It was said, that this would make the proportion of ex-officio guardians to be elected assimilate to the proportion which were members of the boards in England; but it was his opinion, that if the subject were inquired into with, sufficient attention, it would appear that the ex-officio guardians in England were no more than one-third of the whole. He thought it would be a great mistake on the part of the landlords of Ireland to accept this provision, inasmuch as they ought to rely on the goodwill and good feeling of the people to elect them.


said, they had been often told that it was their duty to endeavour to assimilate the laws of Ireland with those of England. Now, the proposition under discussion was no concession to any party or class, but an assimilation of the law of Ireland, as far as practicable, to the English law. That law worked remarkably well, and in many parts of England could not be carried out without the presence of a great number of ex-officio guardians, the occupations of the elected guardians leaving them but little leisure to attend to its administration. The right hon. Member for the University of Dublin had called upon the Government to extend the principle to the whole body of magistrates; but he apprehended that they had gone as far in its application as the circumstances of Ireland would permit, in some parts of which the number of magistrates would be found, under the right hon. Gentleman's plan, to exceed that of the elected guardians to an extraordinary degree.


said, the hon. Member for Limerick had described this clause as a concession. He would tell him to whom it was a concession. It was a concession to that party with whom the hon. Member was so strangely allied; a concession to the landlords of Ireland for the purpose of conciliating them in a place where they possessed some influence. He opposed the clause because it gave a weight to the landlords calculated to outbalance the great electoral principle. He could conceive nothing so well calculated to make both the Bill and the Government unpopular in Ireland; and had such a proposition been introduced by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, it would have been laughed out of the House. The landlords of Ireland, generally speaking, were influenced by a bitter hostility towards the Roman Catholics; and the same influences would be manifested in the carrying out of this Bill if they were appointed ex-officio guardians. He gave the noble Lord great credit for the manner in which he treated the deputation that waited upon him on this subject. He wished, however, that the noble Lord had taken some of the advice that was then offered to him, and taken measures to have the Church property of Ireland restored to its original owners. If this course had been taken, there would be no necessity whatever for any poor law in the country. If they left the matter as it was, there would be a sufficient number of magistrates in the board of guardians; but if they increased them in the manner proposed, they would destroy all the good effects that were likely to arise from such a measure.


said, the landlords of Ireland were remarkable for their bigotry and intolerance towards the Roman Catholics, and this clause would encourage and strengthen those feelings. He would ask those who were in favour of the clause, whether they would not be influenced by religious feelings? The Irish Party had been spoken of—what had been the acts of the Irish Party? The only acts he knew of which had emanated from the Irish Party were the resolutions he (Mr. Fitzgerald) had signed. Let the Government adopt the suggestion which had been made to it—of restoring to the people of Ireland the Church property; let that property be applied to its original uses; and there would be no occasion to pass a poor law; there would then be sufficient for the education of the people without any Maynooth grant. The clause under discussion would give great power to the magistrates and land- lords of Ireland. Hitherto, there had been the greatest harmony between the magistrates and the boards of guardians. If this clause should pass, religious animosities would be renewed with greater bitterness than ever. If the law were left as at present, there would be a sufficient number of persons for boards of guardians, and the influence of the boards would be for the good of the country; whereas the addition of ex-officio guardians would destroy all beneficial influence there.


was satisfied with the clause as it had been introduced by Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department had given most important and convincing reasons for the introduction of a certain number of magistrates. With respect to what the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Fitzgerald) had said of the danger that religious bitterness might be renewed, it was the object of both sides of the House to get rid of religious differences in Ireland. He thought Her Majesty's Government were justified in introducing and maintaining the clause, not only for the protection of the rights of property, but in order to secure the Bill's being carried out beneficially. For these reasons he should support Her Majesty's Government.


said, the magistrates of Ireland were not, generally speaking, persons who should be entrusted with extraordinary powers; and he hoped the noble Lord would not insist upon a greater number of ex-officio guardians than existed at present. The average number of magistrates in the poor-law unions in England was not more than six or seven; but there was in Ireland a much greater number, say thirty-five or thirty-seven magistrates in some unions, who would exercise an influence anything but beneficial at the board. The present clause, if carried, would bring the Government into general contempt. He would support the Amendment.


did not doubt the integrity or competence of the persons proposed to be made ex-officio guardians, yet as it was adverse to the wishes of the people that they should be appointed, and as their nomination would render the law less efficient, he should resist the clause, and support the Amendment.


was strongly persuaded that such a clause would effectually prevent the well-working of the whole measure. In three whole counties there was not a single Roman Catholic magistrate, so that what was now proposed could never give satisfaction to the great majority of the inhabitants of Ireland. The clause to which he had objected, had not been originally inserted in the Bill; it was brought in to meet the wishes of an individual, and would be the Chandos clause of the Bill, as there was a Chandos Clause in the Reform Act. It would never be viewed with a favourable eye by the people of Ireland.


supported the clause, as he said, not upon Conservative principles, or in reference to the due representation of property, but because he was convinced that if the lower orders in Ireland could be polled, it would be found that the majority were in favour of having their affairs managed by gentlemen, and not by elective guardians.


urged that it was not fit to make boards of guardians in Ireland non-elective. He was surprised at this endeavour to impose boards of guardians upon the people.

The Committee divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—Ayes 154; Noes 26: Majority 128.

List of the AYES.
Acheson, Visct. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Adderley, C. B. Courtenay, Lord
Ainsworth, P. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Archbold, R. Craig, W. G.
Arkwright, G. Cripps, W.
Austen, Col. Damer, hon. Col.
Baillie, H. J. Deedes, W.
Baine, W. Denison, J. E.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Dickinson, F. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Disraeli, B.
Beresford, Major Douglas, Sir H.
Berkeley, hon. C. Douglas, J. D. S.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Duff, J.
Berkeley, hon. H. F. Duncan, G.
Bodkin, J. J. Duncombe, hon. A.
Botfield, B. Dundas, Adm.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Dundas, F.
Bowring, Dr. Dundas, Sir D.
Broadwood, H. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Brotherton, J. Ellice, E.
Buck, L. W. Ferguson, Sir R. A.
Buller, C. Finch, G.
Bunbury, W. M. Fitzmaurice, hon. W.
Busfeild, W. Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.
Carew, hon. R. S. Forster, M.
Carew, W. H. P. Fox, C. R.
Cavendish, hon. C. C. Fuller, A. E.
Chandos, Marq. of Gaskell, J. M.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Gore, W. R. O.
Clay, Sir W. Gore, hon. R.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Gregory, W. H.
Cole, hon. H. A. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Grimsditch, T.
Grogan, E. Newdegate, C. N.
Hamilton, G. A. Northland, Visct.
Hamilton, W. J. O'Brien, A. S.
Hastie, A. Ogle, S. C. H.
Hawes, B. Owen, Sir J.
Henley, J. W. Parker, J.
Hobhousc, rt. hn. Sir J. Pattison, J.
Hodgson, F. Philipps, Sir R. B. P.
Hodgson, R. Plumridge, Capt.
Holmes, hon. W. A. Polhill, F.
Hornby, J. Reid, Col.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Repton, G. W. J.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Rich, H.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Romilly, J.
James, W. Ross, D. R.
James, Sir W. C. Russell, Lord J.
Jervis, Sir J. Sandon, Visct.
Jocelyn, Visct. Shaw, rt. hon. F.
Johnstone, Sir J. Sheppard, T.
Johnstone, H. Shirley, E. J.
Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H. Somerset, Lord G.
Kemble, H. Spooner, R.
Ker, D. S. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Kirk, P. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Labouchere, rt. hon. H. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Stuart, Lord J.
Lefroy, A. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Tancred, H. W.
Lincoln, Earl of Thornely, T.
Lindsay, Col. Tollemache, J.
Loch, J. Towneley, J.
Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B. Trotter, J.
Manners, Lord J. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
March, Earl of Vane, Lord H.
Marjoribanks, S. Vesey, hon. T.
Matheson, J. Wall, C. B.
Maule, rt. hon. F. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Maxwell, hon. J. P. Ward, H. G.
Meynell, Capt. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Milnes, R. M. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Monahan, J. H. Young, J.
Morpeth, Visct.
Morris, D. TELLERS.
Mostyn, hon. E. M. L. Hill, Lord M.
Mundy, E. M. Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
Browne, R. D. Macnamara, Maj.
Callaghan, D. M'Carthy, A.
Collett, J. Napier, Sir C.
Crawford, W. S. O'Brien, W. S.
Dennistoun, J. O'Connell, M. J.
Escott, B. Pechell, Capt.
Evans, Sir De L. Rawdon, Col.
Ewart, W. Scrope, G. P.
Fielden, J. Stuart, W. V.
Fitzgerald, R. A. Wawn, J. T.
Hall, Sir B. Williams, W.
Hindley, C.
Howard, P. H. TELLERS.
Lawless, hon. C. Bellew, R. M.
Layard, Maj. O'Connell, J.

moved that the words "whether for the county or the borough" should be added to the words "justices of the peace" in the clause, so as to make borough justices ex-officio guardians.


objected to the Amendment as likely to lead to inconvenience, without any corresponding advantages.


strongly advised the Government to consent to the admission of the borough magistrates, so that they might form part of the board. He thought that the elective principle ought to be allowed a little more scope than was given to it.

Amendment withdrawn.

Upon the question that the Clause stand part of the Bill,


said, that in order that the public might know who the parties were who were sincerely in favour of a poor law, and those who only pretended to be so, he should divide the Committee against the Clause.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 133; Noes 21: Majority 112.

List of the AYES.
Acheson, Visct. Gaskell, J. M.
Adderley, C. B. Gladstone, Capt.
Ainsworth, P. Gore, W. R. O.
Archbold, R. Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.
Arkwright, G. Grimsditch, T.
Baine, W. Grogan, E.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Hamilton, G. A.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hamilton, W. J.
Beresford, Maj. Hastie, A.
Berkeley, hon. C. Hawes, B.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Hindley, C.
Bodkin, J. J. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Botfield, B. Hodgson, F.
Bowring, Dr. Hodgson, R.
Broadwood, H. Holmes, hon. W. A.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Hornby, J.
Brotherton, J. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Bruen, Col. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Buck, L. W. James, W.
Buller, C. James, Sir W. C.
Bunbury, W. M. Jervis, Sir J.
Busfeild, W. Jocelyn, Visct.
Carew, W. H. P. Johnstone, Sir J.
Chandos, Marq. of Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Chichester, Lord J. L. Kemble, H.
Clay, Sir W. Ker, D. S.
Cole, hon. H. A. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Coote, Sir C. H. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Lefroy, A.
Courtenay, Lord Le Marchant, Sir D.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Lindsay, Col.
Craig, W. G. Loch, J.
Cripps, W. M'Donnell, J. M.
Dalmeny, Lord Mangles, R. D.
Deedes, W. Manners, Lord J.
Denison, J. E. March, Earl of
Dickinson, F. H. Marjoribanks, S.
Dodd, G. Matheson, J.
Douglas, Sir H. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Duncan, G. Meynell, Capt.
Duncannon, Visct. Milnes, R. M.
Duncombe, hon. A. Monahan, J. H.
Dundas, Adm. Morris, D.
Dundas, Sir D. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Evans, W. Mundy, E. M.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Neville, R.
Finch, G. Newdegate, C. N.
Fox, C. R. O'Brien, A. S.
Fuller, A. E. O'Conor Don
Ogle, S. C. H. Spooner, R.
Owen, Sir J. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Packe, C. W. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Parker, J. Stuart, Lord J.
Pattison, J. Strutt, rt. hon. E.
Philipps, Sir R. B. P. Tancred, H. W.
Plumridge, Capt. Thornely, T.
Polhill, F. Trotter, J.
Reid, Col. Vane, Lord H.
Rendlesham, Lord Vesey, hon. T.
Repton, G. W. J. Villiers, Visct.
Romilly, J. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Ross, D. R. Ward, H. G.
Russell, Lord J. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Sandon, Visct. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Wyse, T.
Sheppard, T.
Shirley, E. P. TELLERS.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Hill, Lord M.
Somerset, Lord G. Tufnell, H.
List of the NOES.
Bellew, R. M. M'Carthy, A.
Bright, J. O'Brien, C.
Callaghan, D. O'Connell, M. J.
Crawford, W. S. Perfect, R.
Escott, B. Rawdon, Col.
Evans, Sir De L. Scrope, G. P.
Ewart, W. Stuart, W. V.
Fielden, J. Wawn, J. T.
Gisborne, T.
Howard, P. H. TELLERS.
Lawless, hon. C. O'Brien, W. S.
Layard, Maj. O'Connell, J.

On the 12th Clause, which enables the Poor Law Commissioners to dissolve a board of guardians, on default, without any intermediate election, being proposed,


suggested that words should be inserted, giving the Commissioners power to impose a penalty on boards of guardians, if the amount of arrears of rates was not collected within three calendar months after they became due. Under the 78th section of the Act 1 and 2 Victoria, it was declared that it should be lawful for the board of guardians to distrain for arrears of poor rate. He did not know whether the word "lawful" meant "discretionary" or "compulsory" in the Act, and there was no such provision at all in the present Bill. He should be glad, therefore, to hear from his right hon. Friend whether, in his opinion, penalties were leviable on boards of guardians who neglected to obey the orders of the Poor Law Commissioners, and collect the arrears of rates. If not, he should move an Amendment, to the effect that if the guardians neglected to levy within three calendar months, it should be lawful for the Commissioners to direct the guardians to proceed to levy the rates, and in case they did not do so, then they should be liable to a penalty. An enormous amount of arrears remained uncollected, although they were leviable by law, in those very districts in which the people were starving.


said, that the object of the clause was to enable the Poor Law Commissioners to dispense with the necessity of waiting till a fresh election of guardians could be made, in case a board of guardians neglected their duties. He did not apprehend that the Commissioners had any summary power of directing the guardians to do certain acts, and enforcing a penalty in case of default. They could only direct the guardians to take proper steps to levy the arrears due, and the guardians might issue directions to the collector. If they were then unable to collect it, the matter would not be advanced one step further. One word as to the large amount of rates outstanding. His right hon. Friend seemed to think that a vast amount of rates were in arrear; but he (Sir G. Grey) apprehended, that as the collection of the rate was necessarily spread over a number of weeks, there would always appear, on the mere production of a balancesheet, a considerable amount of rate uncollected. He hoped and believed, however, that a large portion of the rate now due would be collected and made available.


said, if it was really expected that the poor-law system should work well, or indeed at all in Ireland, the House must not found its legislation upon the supposition that boards of guardians would not do their duty. There might be some few exceptions; but he felt warranted in saying that, generally speaking, the boards of guardians in Ireland did their duty. The Committee must not be led away by statements of hon. Members like that just made; and he (Mr. Hamilton) would ask the attention of the Committee to the opinion of the Poor Law Commissioners themselves on the subject. It was true, no doubt, that there was a large amount of uncollected rate at the present time; but then it should be remembered that the circumstances of Ireland were rather peculiar now. But what was the language held by the Commissioners in their last report on the subject of the collection of the rate? Why, the Commissioners stated, in their Twelfth Report, laid on the Table of the House last Session, that the general state of the unions never was so satisfactory. They gave, in their report, an account of the funds of all the unions in Ireland for some years; and they stated that, whereas in May, 1843, there was a balance against 111 unions then open, of 5,697l.; in February, 1845, there was a balance in favour of 116, of 30,799l.; and in February, 1846, there was a balance in favour of 128 unions then open, of no less then 49,020l. They also stated that, in general, considering the newness of the rates, the collection was conducted successfully, and at a moderate expense, and that in some unions the rate was collected with an accuracy and fidelity which reflected credit on the local management. Now, really, when such wholesale charges were made against the boards of guardians in Ireland, these statements of the Commissioners ought to be recollected. And then, as to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton proposing or supposing that guardians could be compelled to do their duty by pains and penalties—why, he really had thought that such notions were long since exploded.


observed, that if the rates were not collected, it was not unreasonable to suppose that the fault rested with the boards of guardians. If they were not to blame, then it was clear that the rate could not be collected at all, and then there was no use in going on with the Bill at all.


, entirely concurring with his hon. Friend (Mr. Hamilton), that the boards of guardians had been very unjustly blamed in many instances, still he did not wish to mislead the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. V. Smith) or the House into an opinion that in many parts of Ireland there would not be real difficulty in collecting the rates. It was one thing their being leviable in law, and another, their being leviable in fact. Well, he had not deceived the House. He had warned them of the danger they would incur by enacting outdoor relief to the able-bodied; and he verily believed that in many of the western counties, if it were attempted to enforce the law to the utmost, that the paid officers under that clause would represent not only the boards of guardians, but the landed proprietors, for that the poor rates would be more than the land was worth; and that it would not be possible for the boards to collect, or the lands to pay them.


said, that there were several large landed proprietors who appeared to be in arrear for rates; and he thought that in their cases, at least, payment should be enforced.


objected to the Amendment on the ground of the impracticability of carrying out its provisions.

Clause agreed to. Remaining clauses were agreed to.


had a clause to move for the purpose of relieving the Irish clergy from an unfair and unequal pressure upon them of the burden of the poor rate. This had operated to the disadvantage of the clergy since the passing of the Irish Poor Law in 1838, and he had frequently complained of it in that House; but it became of still greater importance, when the impost was about to be indefinitely increased by that Bill, and at a time when, he believed no person would be found to deny that the clergy of Ireland were devoting not only their time, their thoughts, and their best energies, but also their pecuniary means, to an extent far beyond what they or their families could justly spare, to alleviate the unparalleled distress that in every part of Ireland surrounded them. Under the existing law, the occupier was supposed to pay both the landlord's and titheowner's poor rate. He then deducted from his landlord the half of his entire advance, and the landlord deducted the whole poundage rate from the rent-charge payable by him to the titheowner—the theory being, that in that way the occupier paid the entire poundage rent upon the sum actually paid both for rent to the landlord and tithe rent-charge to the clergyman; and that for the half advanced by himself, he paid so much the less rent to the landlord. But practically the case was very different. In reality the land never was valued at the full rate it paid, both in the shape of rent and tithe rent-charge; but provided the valuation was comparatively correct, it signified little to any party, except the titheowner, what the standard was. For example, if all lands were equally undervalued, the proportion was the same to both lessors and occupiers; but in the ratio that the whole was undervalued, did the proportion of the clergyman's rate rise, inasmuch as he paid the poundage upon the utmost farthing that he received; and then, when from a lower valuation a new rate was required, he had to pay his whole unduly large proportion over again; and even though the clergyman did not pay less, he would greatly prefer the payment going direct to the poor; for now the mode of payment was complicated and not very intelligible: the tenant paying the whole of the tithe rate, and only getting half back; the landlord paying only the half, and stopping the whole; and the clergyman being under the impression that what was stopped from him rather went into the landlord's pocket, than to the support of the poor. But besides that, the clergyman had to pay upon his gross income, while the landlord only paid upon his net. For instance, a clergyman with a living of 400l. a year, had, since the passing of the Church Temporalities Act, to pay 25 per cent, or 100l. of that to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as a tax upon his benefice, as also, say 50l. a year in other fixed charges, over which he had no control; yet instead of paying, as would be just, upon his real income of 250l. a year, he had the rate to pay upon his nominal income of 400l.; and under the law they were then passing, authorizing out-door relief, it would be very easy to conceive a case in some unions where the poor rate might absorb the clergyman's entire income. He was persuaded that was not the intention of the Government, and could not be the desire of the House; and that, therefore, they would not refuse him the act of justice he demanded on behalf of the Irish clergy, namely, that they should be taxed upon their real and not their nominal incomes. What he proposed was, to assimilate the Irish to the English law in that respect—placing the clergy upon the rate, and then ascertaining, by means of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as prescribed by the Church Temporalities Act, their real incomes. He had stated the substance of the alteration he proposed, and it was very simple; but his clauses might at first sight appear intricate, inasmuch as he had first to make the rent-charge a separate rateable hereditament; secondly, to provide both for impropriate and clerical tithes; and, thirdly, to alter the mode of valuation, by excluding the rent-charge from the sum paid by the occupier, whereas at present it was included. The clauses would stand as follows:— And whereas, under the provisions of the said Act of the first and second year of Her Majesty's reign, tithe composition is liable to be rated only as, and with, the hereditaments upon which such composition is charged, and it is expedient that such provisions shall be amended; be it therefore enacted, that from and after the passing of this Act, composition for tithe, or rent-charge in lieu thereof, shall be deemed to be a separate rateable hereditament under the said Act, and shall be distinctly rated as such. And be it enacted, that in all cases of rent-charge in lieu of impropriate tithes, the annual amount of such rent-charge, after deducting there-from all rates, taxes, and public charges, if any, imposed on the owner in respect thereof, shall be deemed the net annual value thereof; and that in all cases of rent-charge in lieu of tithes, payable to any spiritual person, the net annual value thereof, upon which the rate for the relief of the poor, under the said recited Act or this Act shall be made, shall be deemed to be the amount of such rent-charge or composition, as ascertained and valued by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of Ireland, for the purpose of a certain tax or assessment upon church property, under an Act passed in the third and fourth year of the reign of his late Majesty King William the Fourth, intituled 'An Act to alter and amend the Laws relating to the Church Temporalities of Ireland,' after the deductions and allowances therein directed to be made, and after deducting also the portion of the assessment or tax chargeable in respect of such rent-charge, under the said last recited Act. And be it enacted, that the rate made upon each rent-charge or composition for tithe, shall be paid by the person in the receipt or enjoyment thereof, and may be recovered by all the ways and means by which any rate made on any lessor may be recovered. And be it enacted, that from and after the passing of this Act, the net annual value of all rateable hereditaments, other than rent-charge or composition for tithe, shall be deemed to be the rent for which, one year with another, the same might, in their actual state, be reasonably expected to let from year to year, all the rates, taxes, and public charges, if any, and the probable average cost of repairs, insurance, and the other expenses necessary to maintain the hereditaments in their actual state, and the rent-charge or composition for tithe, being assumed, for the purpose of estimating such annual value, to be paid by the tenant.


was understood to assent to the principle of the clause, inasmuch as it related to the assimilation of the conditions of tithe-rent proprietors in England and Ireland. He, however, proposed certain verbal amendments.


said, that the clause, even altered as was proposed by the right hon. Baronet, would in some degree remedy the injustice and hardship of which the clergy in Ireland complained; but he regretted the right hon. Gentleman would not agree to it in the shape proposed by his right hon. Colleague. Without going over the statement made by his right hon. Friend, he would state to the Committee that there were two great injustices or grievances under which every one must admit the clergy of Ireland laboured. The one was, that whereas all other persons were rated on a low valuation of their property, the clergy were rated at its full amount, without any allowance for losses, or any deduction whatever; and the other was, that whereas all other persons were rated at a net valuation, the clergy were rated at a gross. If the Committee referred to the original Bill of 1837, they would find that tithe rent-charge or composition was intended to be made like all other property, and, as tithes in England, a rateable hereditament. Supposing it had been, of course it would have fallen under the 64th Clause of the Bill, and been rated at its letting value, deducting all charges; but the Bill was altered in Committee, and the landlord empowered to deduct the full poundage upon the rent-charge, without any allowance or deduction for charges whatever; and what was the effect of this? Why, that the Irish clergyman at present paid poor rate upon the tax which he had to pay to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, which tax was imposed for the repairs of churches, as a substitute for an assessment on the land; and he paid also ecclesiastical tax upon the sum which he paid as poor rate. Nothing could be more unfair than this. A clergyman was bound in Ireland to pay instalments for the building of glebe-houses; and he had also, in many cases, to pay to the family of his predecessor, interest for sums expended in repairing glebe-houses, or he was obliged to expend money on such repairs himself; the value of the glebe-house was thus increased, and of course the poor rate upon it so much higher, and yet the clergyman had to pay poor rate upon the sums thus paid by him for the building or improving of his glebe, while he had to pay also the additional rate placed upon the glebe in consequence of these improvements. The clause, as assented to by the right hon. Baronet, would at least remedy these hardships; and he (Mr. Hamilton) therefore did not think it necessary to go further into the subject on the present occasion.


observed, that many of these deductions seemed to him to be similar in principle to the owner of an incumbered estate claiming exemption from his liabilities. It was not judicious in the supporters of the Irish Church to endeavour to free the property of that Church from the burdens which the Legislature placed upon it. The great bane of that Church was, that it was too rich, and that it had not applied to the relief of the poor that sum to which, under the canon law, they were entitled. He should oppose the clause.


did not well understand the nature of the clause. Was it to shift the burden from the titheowner to the landlord?


The law was to be the same as it was in England. The titheowner would be rated by name on the amount of tithe he was entitled to receive, and the landlord would not have to pay rates on the tithe-rent charge.


, in reference to the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. M'Carthy), begged to say, that the alterations which he suggested, were offered because the clergy were anxious that the sums levied on their incomes should really go to the support of the poor.


said, that as the Government agreed to the principle of the clauses he proposed, he had hoped they would have allowed the deductions under the Church Temporalities Act. As, however, it would be of no use for him to divide, he would withdraw the clauses then, and, after conference with the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), bring them up on the next stage of the Bill.

Clauses withdrawn.


moved clauses directing a separate place of religious instruction to be built in each workhouse for Catholic children.


said, he was anxious to take time to consider the hon. Gentleman's proposal, and should say on the bringing up of the report whether he could assent to it.


The object of his clauses was to prevent Roman Catholic children from being placed for religious instruction under persons of another religion.

Clauses postponed.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.