§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
moved the Second Reading of the Bill for Encouraging the Employment of Labour in Ireland. He said that, without claiming for this Bill the character of a great and comprehensive measure, he expected it would produce considerable improvement in the condition of the working classes in Ireland by stimulating employment. He proposed it not as a substitute for, but as an adjunct to, the poor-law, in the view of relieving that law from the stigma of operating as a discouragement to the employment of labour. All parties were united in one belief as to the great advantages which would result from the employment of labour, and the inadequacy of the existing means for effecting that object. Was it that the labourers were unwilling to earn their own livelihood? Was it that they preferred idleness and parochial assistance to work and wages? The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth had vindicated the character of the Irish labourers from that charge; and it had been proved by experience that the labourers were willing to work, rather than have recourse to parochial relief. He confidently referred upon this point to the evidence of Colonel Knox Gore before a Committee of the House of Lords upon the Irish poor-law. That Gentleman stated that employment had produced a marked improvement in point of feeling, and that, though he at first found a difficulty in getting them to work, they worked satisfactorily in the course of a month, so that now he found that when they did a good day's labour they were greatly pleased to receive their small stipend, which was paid to them every evening in cash. It was, after such experience, a harsh, cruel, and inhuman calumny against these men to say they would not labour, the fact being that they were willing to work for the smallest possible amount to maintain themselves and their families. 156 Ireland presented an ample field for the employment of all her labouring population, not only in the permanent improvement of the land, but in the better cultivation of the soil. The union of Glenties, in the county of Donegal, contained a population in the proportion of one soul to every 7s. of annual value, and this was quoted as an instance of excessive population beyond the power of the soil to maintain. But the principal proprietor in the union, stated, with all the labour he could collect from the district, he should not be able in twenty years to put his land in a state to be properly farmed, adding that there was a great want of labour to carry on the improvements which would be most profitable. What was the impediment to the carrying out of the profitable employment of labour, of which this was one among many instances? It proceeded from employers being heavily rated for the support of poor belonging to other properties; the consequence of which was, that not an inch of land could be let, and large quantities remained unproductive. The same proprietor stated that in one case he was obliged to pay 10s. 6d. in the pound for poor-rates, besides six and a half per cent instalment for the advances of Government, whilst he was not receiving anything from the land, because he could not let it. Now, he (Mr. P. Scrope) proposed to introduce the principle of individual responsibility in such cases. It might be objected that making each proprietor responsible for the poor upon his own estate, would operate as a greater encouragement to clearances than to improvements; but he would make the individual responsibility extend over a limited area, which would obviate that objection. He proposed, however, to make no alteration in the law, with regard to area, or in the general congregated responsibility of owners and occupiers in the electoral division. He took that as it stood; but if the owners and occupiers of a limited district, whether a townland, or part of a townland, were able to give employment, he proposed to exempt them from the liability to maintain the ablebodied population upon their giving employment to their fair proportion of that population. For this purpose, he should propose a census to be taken. The plan which he proposed secured not only the means of employing labour, but it was the only way of giving protection to the improving landlord. Some of the witnesses were asked before the Committee now sitting, what they would think 157 of paying their rates in work; and the reply was, "We now pay 6s. in the pound; if you adopt that principle, you may make the rate 12s., if you like." Mr. Napier, of Loughcroo, and other gentlemen of the highest experience and authority in Ireland, had declared that the principle of this Bill might he successfully carried into practice. He might state, as another excuse, why he, an English Member, should bring in a Bill affecting Ireland, that he was himself aware of the principle which he wished to have adopted, having been most successfully acted upon in a parish in this country; and the principle was introduced into England before it was sanctioned by the Legislature in 1832: it was practically adopted by select vestries, they dividing the ablebodied paupers amongst themselves to lessen the poor-rates. The particular parish to which he referred was the parish of Farnham, in Surrey, a large parish, from 8,000 to 10,000 acres. He quite admitted that this Bill should only be tried as an experiment, and he therefore proposed to limit its operation to two years. There was at present a perfect paralysis in the labour market of Ireland, and before they could expect the proprietors to employ the labourers on their estates, they should give them some security against being overwhelmed with poor-rates for the support of the paupers on adjoining properties where no employment was afforded. He would ask the House to compare the effect on a person, about purchasing property in the west of Ireland, between telling him that his poor-rates would not exceed 7s. in the pound, and telling him that if he purchased an entire townland, and employed a certain number of labourers upon it, he should have no poor-rate to pay at all, except what was required for the relief of the sick poor. He trusted that the House would not hastily or contemptuously reject this measure, and he would add that he had no objection to its being referred to the Select Committee now sitting on the Irish poor-law.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,
§ "That this Bill be now read a Second Time."
§ Bill read 2o, and committed.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
appeared to be about to address the House, but, delaying for two or three moments, was informed by Mr. Speaker that it was then too late to address the House, as the Motion had been agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,158
§ "That this House will, upon Friday next, resolve itself into the said Committee."
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, that he thought what had just occurred must prove to his hon. Friend, that he was not very anxious to oppose any measure that his hon. Friend thought it his duty to introduce to the House. He could assure his hon. Friend that the measure would not receive at his hands—to use his own words—any contemptuous rejection; because he fully appreciated the hon. Member's motives, and he believed that every Gentleman connected with Ireland owed his hon. Friend a debt of gratitude for his persevering attempts to alleviate the miseries which unfortunately afflicted the poorer classes in Ireland. If his hon. Friend had moved that the subject be referred to the Select Committee now sitting, he, for one, should have been ready to give it his best consideration then; but after the course which his hon. Friend had taken, he felt that he had now no alternative but to oppose the Motion for referring the Bill to a Committee. He believed that few questions had been more debated than the question of forced labour, which was, after all, the principle of the Bill; and the general impression seemed to be that such a system was most demoralising to the labourer. His hon. Friend had referred to the evidence taken before the Committee upstairs; but he had not noticed the fact that Mr. Twisleton, who had much experience in the working of the law in Ireland, had stated in his evidence that all the objections that could be urged against forced labour in England, applied with tenfold force to Ireland. The proposition of his hon. Friend was a departure from the great principle, which it was so necessary to adhere to, of keeping labour and relief completely distinct. Under this Bill the labourer, feeling that he worked not for profit but for relief, would give as little work as he could for the money which he received. His hon. Friend said, that in some parishes in England the system worked well. That might be the case, and he believed that in some parts of Ireland, for instance in the county with which he was connected, the system would work well; but then there were other parts, such as the pauperised districts of Mayo, Galway, and the other parts of the west of Ireland, where the system would be most prejudicial. He did not wish at the present time to allude to the details of the measure; but if hon. Members would look to the clauses, they 159 would see that its author contemplated considerable difficulty in carrying it out, by the number of safeguards he had provided; and he particularly referred to the sixth clause, where his hon. Friend attempted to provide against fraud by the infliction of penalties, which, however, he (Sir W. Somerville) was satisfied would have no effect whatever. He would not enter further into the details of the Bill, but would content himself by observing that, as his hon. Friend had not thought fit to refer it to a Select Committee (in which he should have been glad to consider its provisions), but at once to a Committee of the whole House, he should feel it his duty to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be committed that day six months.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "Friday next," and insert the words "this day six months," instead thereof.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, he had no objection to adopt the course of sending the Bill before the Committee now sitting on the Irish poor-law, if that would meet the views of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. F. FRENCH
could not concur in the objections of his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland to this Bill. It was perfectly true that the system embodied in this Bill had been tried in this country, and that it had not worked successfully or satisfactorily. But the circumstances of the two countries were entirely different. If the system had failed in this country, it was owing to the absence of that stimulus which now existed in great force in Ireland, and which would force the farmers of that country to evince a great desire to carry out this proposition of the hon. Member for Stroud—he alluded to the stimulus which the present destruction of property in Ireland (caused by mislegislation) administered to every Irish farmer to adopt every conceivable means to remove the crushing burden of poor-rates from his shoulders. Some of the ablest and most practical men in Ireland had given their opinion that this measure would work well. If the Legislature would adopt a reasonable view of the case of Ireland, and listen to the opinions of the residents of Ireland, they would know that if the people of that country were permitted to apply their means for the employment of labour, they would save the whole expense of the staff of the workhouses, from one end of the country to the other. But instead of thus judiciously applying the funds derived from the 160 poor-law, they were paying nearly two millions to soldiers every year, for the purpose of collecting a rate from persons who were themselves almost in a state of starvation, and whose condition, bad as it was at present, was likely to be still worse. Nearly one-third of the land in the west of Ireland was now lying in a state of waste. In Mayo the grass lands, which had always been considered one of the strongholds of the wealth of Ireland, were now lying waste. The condition of Ireland was becoming worse and worse every day—the people without labour, and the landlords without rents. He himself was cognisant of one case in Tipperary, in which a gentleman who had 8,000l. due to him from his tenants, had only been able to collect 35l. Generally speaking, his conviction was, that it was of no use stimulating the people to an improved cultivation of the land, or devising modes for the employment of labour, un-less better means of conveying produce to market than existed at present were projected and carried into execution.
§ MR. SLANEY
would venture to ask the House to recollect the numerous evils that prevailed throughout twenty-five of the southern counties of this kingdom some years ago, in consequence of the operation of a scheme such as that which the hon. Gentleman now proposed to introduce into Ireland. And he would ask them to be careful before they adopted such a plan, without having it guarded, at all events, from those evils which in this country were found to have been of so lamentable and demoralising a character. He gave the hon. Member for Stroud every credit for the benevolence of his intentions; but he believed that if this measure were carried into effect, it would have a tendency not to improve, but permanently to depress the condition of Ireland. If, however, in the present extraordinary state of Ireland, it were carried out for a period of two years, it might possibly assist the people of that country to pass through a state of transition from extreme misery to improvement; and entertaining such a view of the measure, he would vote for its operation during that limited period, on the understanding that in Committee every possible means should be adopted to guard it against the evils which were attached to the system when it was in force in England.
§ MR. R. M. FOX
believed that some such measure was required for the present state of Ireland. He believed that if they adopted the proposal to exempt from the 161 payment of poor-rates such as might, under this measure, give employment to the ablebodied poor in Ireland, they would drive out of that country its greatest enemy—a congestion of population in distressed districts—and effectually and economically expend their charitable relief funds. He did not look upon this measure as a counterpart of the Labour Rate Act; it was an enabling Bill—that was to say, it would enable the farmers and occupiers of land to discharge those duties which, under the present system, they were compelled to neglect.
§ MR. SHARMAN CRAWFORD
would ask the House if something should not be done to encourage the employment of the people of Ireland? He did not mean to say that the present measure would do everything that was required, or that it was not liable to some objection. But he put it to the House whether every measure was not liable to objection more or less grave, and whether it would not be well to adopt a plan which would at least do some good, even although it might not be wholly unobjectionable? It was objected to it that it would demoralise the people; but the present poor-law was demoralising the people to a frightful extent, and the present Bill was proposed for the purpose of preventing some portion of the demoralisation which the poor-law was producing. It need not be made a general Act. It might be limited to certain unions; and he himself would be favourable to its limitation. He thought that Ireland was in a transition state. The present measure was suited to a country in a transition state; and, in fact, no measure and no system could be devised which would be applicable without certain limitations to the condition of Ireland. He implored the House not to reject the Bill. They might make such modifications in it as would make it more suitable to the circumstances of the case; but he begged of them at least to give it a trial.
§ MR. J. E. DENISON
supported the Bill. They had evidence that while numbers of the ablebodied poor were unemployed and destitute, large tracts of land were remaining uncultivated for the want of the seed to put into it. If assistance were at once given to enable the people to raise grain crops on those lands, it was possible that the progress of the famine might be stayed; but unless such assistance was immediate, there would be but little chance—seeing that we had now 162 reached the month of May—of those lands being turned to any good account during the present year. He wished to know from the Government whether they contemplated any measures for bringing these lands into cultivation, and thus providing food for the people? It might be said the principle now proposed had been tried in England, and failed; but the circumstances which now prevailed in Ireland had never existed in England, and there was, therefore, no analogy.
§ SIR Gr. GREY
said, that the Bill having been read a second time rather by accident than otherwise, he thought the House might fairly be called upon to vote upon the principle of the measure in this further stage of it; for if it were now allowed to go into a Committee, it might be concluded that the House had assented to the principle which the Bill involved. He should, therefore, take issue upon the principle of the Bill by opposing its going into Committee. The principle of the Bill was to reduce all labour to the standard of pauper labour, and to reduce wages to a minimum. The hon. Member for Stroud required that a certain number of persons should be employed according to the extent of the estate of the landlord, and the same rate of wages was to be given. Now, the House was not altogether ignorant of what would be the practical effect of such a measure, because they had had the experience of the operation of a similar plan as applied to England. Some years ago, just such a Bill as this was tried in, England; and he believed the most convincing testimony was afforded that the principle of the measure was vicious, and tended to defeat the object they all had in view, that of affording legitimate employment to labour and capital. The Poor Law Commissioners had, in their report, adverted to this point, and had given it as their opinion that it would be an attempt to coerce the occupiers of land to employ labour, instead of encouraging them to employ it voluntarily, and therefore profitably. He would not go into the objections which he entertained to the details of the Bill. He thought the provisions of it were utterly impracticable. His hon. Friend the Member for Malton had expressed a hope that it would be in his (Sir G. Grey's) power to state to the House, on the part of the Government, that they had some plan in contemplation for the remedy of the evil which it was admitted on all hands existed in Ireland 163 —that of thousands of ablebodied men standing idle on thousands of acres of uncultivated but improvable land. He had only to repeat what had been already stated to the House, that Her Majesty's Government had no plan which, by direct interference of the Government or of the Legislature, could meet the evil which had been pointed out by his hon. Friend. He believed that the remedy, and the only remedy, was to he found by the land being allowed to go into the hands of persons who possessed capital, and who had sufficient skill, and the necessary spirit of enterprise to use it. He might observe that from recent information he had received from Ireland, more especially from the Ballina union, he believed there existed a disposition on the part of those persons who had succeeded to the occupation of land which had been deserted by those who could not pay their rent, to apply their energies to its cultivation; and that a much more wholesome state of things prevailed between the landlords and that class of solvent tenant farmers. He had had put into his hands a letter by an hon. Member, whose brother, having realised a competency in a manufacturing town of England, went over to see the west of Ireland last year, and, having determined to settle there, had taken in perpetuity 1,000 acres of land. The writer stated, that even from his very limited experience he considered his prospects to be anything but dispiriting or discouraging; that he had no doubt that with the capital and energy he possessed, and with a willingness on the part of the people to give their labour for wages which in this country would be considered low, but in Ireland were thought to be extraordinarily high—being 8d. a day—he should realise an adequate return for his capital. It was by a process like this that the real cure of the evils existing in Ireland was to be attained. He wished, however, to be considered, in making these observations, to be answering the question put to him by his hon. Friend the Member for Malton, and not to be addressing himself to the remedy which had been proposed, by reducing the extent of the area of taxation. In reference to the Bill before the House, he certainly did not believe it would effect the object which his hon. Friend the Member for Stroud had in view; and although it was proposed to be a temporary measure, yet it became necessary for the House carefully to guard themselves against sanctioning a principle 164 which was in itself vicious. He hoped, therefore, the House would not agree to refer this Bill to the Committee now sitting on the Irish Poor Law. If it should be the pleasure of the House to assent to the second reading—which, in point of fact, had by an accident already taken place—then he hoped he had stated grounds sufficient to induce them to think that it ought not to be referred to the Committee upstairs, but that it should at once go into a Committee of the whole House. But, disapproving as he did of the principle of the Bill, he should cordially assent to the Motion that it be committed that day six months.
§ MR. STAFFORD
was sorry that the reports which he received from Ireland were not of so cheering a nature as those which had been received by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary. He feared that the ray of hope had only glimmered upon one side of Ireland, while the other portions were plunged into still darker despair and gloom. He attributed much of the existing evils of Ireland to the extended area of taxation. In the county with which he was connected—the county of Clare—in that county the right hon. Baronet stated that there had been upwards of 15,000 evictions. That might be all very true; but if any hon. Member would inquire he would find that the greatest number of evictions had taken place in those electoral areas which were the largest; and it would appear that the numbers were just in proportion to the extent of the area. One witness before their Committee had declared that, in some instances, the area extended to as many as 12,000 acres, in others to more, and in one instance to as many as 17,000 acres. After all, the question would still and still revive—what was an ablebodied labourer? Here was a great practical difficulty in giving a proper answer to that question. In order to carry out the full principle of the Bill, they must give a ratio of wages on which all persons should be bound to act; and without some such provision as this, they would be adopting a principle which, obnoxious in England, would be perfectly impracticable in Ireland. The hon. Gentleman who had so strongly put to the House the idea of so many labourers in Ireland standing idle on so many thousand acres, had said, let this arrangement be left to the board of guardians. With this suggestion he quite agreed, for every Bill that had lately been laid on the table of 165 the House had had the effect of increasing more and more the power in the hands of the central commissioners in Dublin. This, to say the least of it, was an unwholesome doctrine, and he conceived that the greater the check given to such a system the better. Wherever the guardians did their duty, he should say, leave the arrangements of all their local affairs to local management. The objections which he entertained to the Bill of the hon. Gentleman were not those which could be remedied in Committee. Unless they settled the mimimum rate of wages, the whole question would remain open, and be the subject of continual dispute. They could not possibly establish any tribunal competent to decide upon the questions which would arise. If they established the boards of guardians as the tribunal, they would have more to do than they could possibly accomplish; and if they appointed only one person, he would be open to all kinds of bribery and influence, his decisions would be contested, and the Bill could not possibly work. There was not a single alteration in the poor-law which did not throw overboard more and more the power of the country gentlemen and the boards of guardians, and place them more and more at the mercy of a central board. From these considerations he found himself irresistibly compelled to vote against the measure of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
agreed that the principle of employing the people by a labourrate was bad. It had failed in England, and could not possibly be rendered practicable in Ireland. But that was not the object of this Bill. It was only proposed to carry out the principle which had already been found successful in Ireland, namely, that of voluntary associations for the employment of labour. He certainly considered the details of the Bill to be objectionable; but as those could be altered in Committee, he should give his support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Stroud, preferring that the Bill should go into Committee of the whole House rather than he sent to the Select Committee on the Irish Poor Law now sitting upstairs. He maintained that it was the poor-law which had brought Ireland into its present state; for, although it was impossible not to allow that many had been rescued from starvation by the money applied by the poor-law, yet it was equally impossible to deny that much destitution had been reproduced by 166 the operation of the enactments of that very law. The present state of Ireland demanded that they should depart for a time at least from the principles of an ordinary poor-law, and have recourse to extraordinary means, and that was what the measure of the hon. Member for Stroud proposed to do. The hon. Member proposed it only for a time. If the experiment succeeded, they could continue it; and, if not, they could withdraw it. For himself, he believed it would succeed, and therefore he should give it his cordial support.
§ VISCOUNT BERNARD
contended, that the measure was utterly impracticable, and that, even if it were practicable, it was irredeemably bad in principle. He maintained that much of the absence of employment in Ireland was occasioned by the indecision of Government as to the course they meant to pursue with reference to the area of taxation. He assured the Government that the question was one of surpassing interest among all parties in Ireland. He had attended many meetings of poor-law guardians in that country, and the universal cry was "Establish a small area of taxation, and we will soon take the people out of the workhouse." He hoped the House would not pass the present Bill, for it would afford no remedy to the existing evils.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, that in the belief that much of the misery of Ireland was to be ascribed to the absence of employment for the ablebodied poor, and thinking that the Bill of the hon. Member for Stroud would tend to promote such employment, he should give that measure his support. The hon. Member for Northamptonshire had proposed a reduction in the area of taxation, on the ground that if the change were made, and an ablebodied man found himself without employment, he would apply to the guardians, who would give him outdoor relief. Now, what was that outdoor relief? Outdoor relief, in his opinion, meant outdoor starvation—outdoor relief meant, reducing an ablebodied man to a helpless skeleton—outdoor relief meant, the depopulation of Ireland. What was the amount of that relief? One pound of Indian meal to each adult pauper within the 24 hours, and half that quantity to a person under age. In the majority of unions in Ireland, the adult who received that amount of food had not fuel to dress it with. That was what was called relief throughout half of Ireland, and the people 167 were sinking into their graves by the hour, whilst the British Parliament were quietly urging the adoption of the rigid principles of political economy towards the sister country. He had hailed with satisfaction the statement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had read from Mr. Bourke, the Irish Poor Law Commissioner, that distress was diminishing in the Ballina union. But although that might be the ease in that union, he (Mr. Reynolds) believed that distress was increasing with railroad rapidity in other districts of Ireland. He held in his hand an account of deaths which had occurred from starvation in Ireland. It stated that the people were not only dying by thousands, but that such was the poverty of the country that coffins could not be procured in which to bury the dead, and that the naked bodies were left exposed without burial. He would trouble the House with one extract from that account; and when the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had heard the recital, he felt sure that it would draw from his humane and benevolent mind something more than a simple response of compassion. The case to which he referred was copied by the Freeman's Journal from the Tralee Chronicle:—At the meeting of the Tralee hoard of guardians on Tuesday Mr. John Twiss, of Haremount, related to us the following horrifying circumstance:—A farmer named Daly, of Killackeon, in the parish of Dysert, in the previous week, lost a mare in fever. In two hours after the skin was taken off the entrails and head were seized upon by some squalid wretches and devoured! This occurred within a musket-shot of Mr. Twiss's house. And yet we have a board of guardians, relieving officers, with rates upon rates, wrung from many who are themselves paupers, or descending rapidly to that class. Mr. Twiss, who is himself a guardian, and an attentive one, should have brought this frightful affair before his brother guardians. Mr. Twiss informed us also, that a poor man in his locality, who had succeeded in procuring a coffin for his brother, was obliged to leave it on the road, within two miles of the hovel where the dead man lay, and died on the spot, the victim of that exhaustion and physical debility which what is called outdoor relief is every day producing, and which had already, bit by bit, crushed the life from the once vigorous frame of his brother. They were buried next day in the same humble grave.He invited the attention of the House to those accounts, which would show that the people of Ireland were being decimated at a greater rate than our soldiers had been in our most glorious battles. What, again, according to the evidence of two witnesses 168 examined yesterday before the Committee, was going on in Galway? [Sir G. GREY intimated that such evidence had not yet been reported.] He could have wished to have been able to report that evidence, as it would exhibit a fearful amount of destitution. In the Clifden union, also, of which so much had been heard, the people in the receipt of outdoor relief were not treated better than were the hounds in the kennels. In Galway, as it would appear, from the statement of Mr. Eastwood—an English adventurer, but a very honourable adventurer—that, in addition to the erection of auxiliary workhouses, 200 persons were crammed into the ordinary workhouses almost in a state of nudity. In Ballinasloe, again, which, under the resident landlordship of the Earl of Clancarty, was before the famine one of the best ordered towns in Ireland, the distress was of the most fearful character. Twelve auxiliary workhouses had been erected, and it appeared that 100 paupers had died in the course of a week. Prom one calculation it would appear that the numbers of paupers in the workhouse exceeded the population of the town itself. In the teeth of these facts, the House went on from day to day experimenting with the cold and iron-hearted principles of political economy. Without pledging himself to the details of this measure, he was prepared to support its principle; and considering the rapidity with which the House had agreed to the second reading, he did not anticipate any objection to its being referred to a Committee. At present, in portions of Ireland, 5 per cent of the people were, from physical disability, unable to work. And unless a remedy for the evil were applied, the remainder of the population would be reduced to the same condition; and if they would not support them in the workhouses, they would soon have to support them in the hospitals. And here he could not help deprecating the course recommended by certain English political economists, who were anxious, at a time when Ireland was plunged into such deep distress, and the cholera morbus threatening to attack that country, to effect cheeseparings in the public expenditure, by withdrawing from the Dublin hospitals, even the usual annual Parliamentary grants which had been enjoyed by them long before the time of the Union. He found that in the Richmond Surgical Hospital the Whitworth Medical or Chronic Hospital, and the Hardwick Fever Hospital, no fewer than 4,804 per- 169 sons had been admitted, 4,484 discharged, and 358 died, during the year ending December, 1848. This afforded an estimate of the numbers that would be annually deprived of hospital relief in Dublin if these hospitals were closed. But, returning to the proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud, the principle of it was simply to exempt the districts that gave employment to the, poor, and place the burden upon grass-lands, that might or might not be cultivated. Now, the best calculations showed that it would take twenty men to cultivate, by spade husbandry, 100 acres of land in a year. And 1,000 acres, therefore, would give employment to 2,000 persons, at spade husbandry; but 1,000 acres of grass land would only require two men to superintend the cattle or sheep feeding upon them. So that whilst the plan of the hon. Member for Stroud would force the owners of the soil to employ the people upon it, it would have the additional effect of largely increasing the amount of agricultural produce. He trusted the House would allow the Bill to go before the Committee; and if it required improvement, it might get it there.
§ SIR A. B. BROOKE
entirely concurred in the object sought to be attained by the Bill, but could not agree in the plan by which it was proposed to be carried out. He believed it would be quite impracticable to carry it out in the southern and western districts of Ireland, owing to the indolent habits that had been engendered amongst the people by the vicious system of outdoor relief. During the recent calamities the Society of Friends had offered the peasantry seed gratuitously in the west of Ireland; but the people actually refused to accept it, because they would not take the trouble of putting it into the ground so long as they could obtain outdoor relief. He entreated the House to adopt measures to compel absentee landlords who did not reside six months in the country, to employ people in developing the resources of the soil, because he believed that that would be the only effectual means of meeting the necessities of the case.
§ MR. O'FLAHERTY
begged to express his dissent from the statement of the last speaker, that the people of the distressed parts of Ireland were indolent and indisposed to work. The fact was, that most of them bad suffered so much that they were unable, though willing, to work; and he regretted to have to concur in the painful representations given by the hon. Member 170 for the city of Dublin of the distressed state of Galway.
§ SIR H. W. BARRON
felt embarrassed about the manner in which he should vote upon this Bill; because, whilst its objects were not only legitimate, but most desirable, and whilst all who were really acquainted with the state of Ireland practically must be ready to grasp at any measure likely to give additional employment, or incentives to employment, in that country; nevertheless, he was afraid that the Bill, good as was its principle, would fail in carrying out its objects: still, he should vote for referring it to a Committee. But he must tell Her Majesty's Government that all their legislation to stimulate employment, and the investment of capital in land, or to amend the poor-law, would be perfectly nugatory and useless so long as they allowed the enormous size of the electoral divisions to remain in their present state. In the largest electoral division in the county of Waterford—that of Ardmore, in the union of Dungarvon—the evictions within six months numbered no fewer than 600, being at double the rate of the evictions in any other electoral division in the entire county. This proved that the larger the area of the electoral division, the more certain were they that evictions by wholesale would take place within them; and the reason was this—that the man who turned out forty or fifty poor people in a large electoral division, did not have to pay for their support himself, but only shared the burden with nine or ten other landlords in the same district. Now, if we reduced the area, so as to make him pay for the support of the whole forty or fifty evicted persons, instead of for a proportion of perhaps, only five of them, as was often the case under the large area, that proprietor would be led to hesitate before be adopted a course which would only be injurious to his own interest. This was the prime injustice and most prominent evil of the existing poor-law: it destroyed all chance of its having its proper effect; and unless the Legislature applied a bold and suitable remedy, all their mere tinkering and patching would be utterly useless.
§ MR. LAWLESS
would give his cordial support to this measure. He was not aware, until informed of the circumstance when he came into the House, that the happy accident of the Ministers being asleep had secured the second reading of this Bill; and if similar results were to follow, it might be a very good thing for Ireland 171 if they continued asleep for fifty years longer. Under the present circumstances of Ireland he could not refuse his assent to any measure that would have the effect of saving life; but he called upon the Government to bring forward a large and comprehensive scheme to meet the present evils of that unfortunate country.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, before the House went to a division he wished to explain one matter. He feared they were about to divide under a misapprehension as to what passed between him and the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Baronet, on the part of the Government, stated, that if he (Mr. P. Scrope) had proposed to refer the Bill to the Select Committee, he should not object to it. The moment he announced his acquiescence in that proposal, the right hon. Baronet dissented from it instantly. He was in the hands of the House; but he wished to say he would be perfectly satisfied to refer the Bill to the Committee on the poor-law upstairs, and hoped the House would not dismiss summarily a measure which had been supported by all the Irish Members except those who had some crotchet about diminishing the area of taxation.
§ SIR W. SOMERVILLE
said, the hon. Member for Stroud had misrepresented him, though, he was quite sure, unintentionally. What he had said was, that if the hon. Member had invited him to consider the question in Committee upstairs, he should have been very happy to give it the best consideration in his power; but as the hon. Member had thought fit to launch his Bill before Parliament without having taken such a step, he (Sir W. Somerville) must oppose it. The fact was, the hon. Member was anxious to do two things—to make a speech, and to refer his Bill to a Committee. But he could not do both.
§ Question put, "That the words "Friday next" stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 166: Majority 125.
|List of the AYES.|
|Barron, Sir H. W.||French, F.|
|Blackall, S. W.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Blair, S.||Greene, J.|
|Blake, M. J.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Hornby, J.|
|Denison, J. E.||Ker, R.|
|Drummond, H.||Lawless, hon. C.|
|Dunne, F. P.||Lushington, C.|
|Fagan, W.||Macnaghten, Sir E.|
|Fox, R. M.||Meagher, T.|
|Mowatt, F.||Salwey, Col.|
|O'Connor, F.||Scully, F.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Osborne, R.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Pearson, C.||Sullivan, M.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Perfect, R.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Pinney, W.||Williams, J.|
|Reynolds, J.||Scrope, P.|
|Sadleir, J.||Crawford, S.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Foley, J. H. H.|
|Alexander, N.||Fordyce, A. D.|
|Anson, Visct.||Forster, M.|
|Arkwright, G.||Fortescue, C.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Freestun, Col.|
|Bailey, J.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Bass, M. T.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Bateson, T.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Glyn, G. C.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Bernal, R.||Greene, T.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Grenfell, C. P.|
|Bourko, R. S.||Grenfell, C. W.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Grogan, E.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hale, R. B.|
|Brown, W.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Buck, L. W.||Harris, R.|
|Buller, Sir J. T.||Hawes, B.|
|Bunbury, W. M.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Headlam, T. E.|
|Carter, J. B.||Heathcoat, G. J.|
|Caulfeild, J. M.||Henley, J. W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Henry, A.|
|Chaplin, W. J.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Clay, J.||Heywood, J.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Heyworth, L.|
|Clifford, H. M.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir. J.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Clive, II. B.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Coles, H. B.||Hope, Sir J.|
|Conolly, T.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Craig, W. G.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Howard, P. H.|
|Cubitt, W.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Dalrymple, Capt.||Hutt, W.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Jackson, W.|
|Denison, E.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Dodd, G.||Jones, Capt.|
|Drummond, H. H.||Kershaw, J.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Langston, J. H.|
|Dunouft, J.||Legh, G. C.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|East, Sir J. B.||Lewis, rt. hn. Sir T. F.|
|Ellis, J.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Elliott, hon. J. E.||Lewisham, Visct.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Evans, J.||Lockhart, A. E.|
|Evans, W.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Farnham, B. B.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Farror, J.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Fellowes, E.||Maitland, T.|
|Ferguson, Sir B. A.||Marshall, W.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hn. J. W.||Meux, Sir H.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Miles, W.||Spooner, R.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Stafford, A.|
|Monsell, W.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Moody, C. A.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Muntz, G. F.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Mundy, W.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Newport, Visct.||Thompson, Col|
|Oswald, A.||Thornely, T.|
|Packe, C. W.||Tollemache, J.|
|Paget, Lord A.||Townshend, Capt.|
|Pakington, Sir J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Parker, J.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Patten, J. W.||Vcsey, hon. T.|
|Pilkington, J.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Portal, M.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Pugh, D.||West, F. R.|
|Rice, E. R.||Willyams, H.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Wilson, J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Rutherfurd, A.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Shirley, E. J.||Young, Sir J.|
|Slaney, R. A.||TELLERS.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Smollett, A.||Bellow, R. M.|
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.
§ Bill put off for six months.