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amount, and gives the remedy by action in the su. perior courts, or by civil bill, or by distress. This may perhaps be available as respects the resident proprietor; but how can the non-resident be come at 2 He has no property to be distrained. But even here other difficulties arise. The proprietor of the fee is perhaps not the immediate lessor; there is a middleman who has no tangible property. The head landlord, the proprietor of the ground, is safe. There is nothing due by him, and the rate is lost. It is easy to enforce payment from the resident gentry, and from the shopkeepers and mercantile class in the towns, who constitute almost the only semblance of a middle class existing in the west of Ireland. The Commissioners may appoint their own paid guardians, and may enforce payment from all those who have tangible property to be distrained; and having failed in collecting from the others, they may proceed to re-assess the arrears again and again, until they have thoroughly broken down the solventrate-payers, or forced them to leave the country, and thus cleared it at once of all property and educated intelligence, and reduced the inhabitants to one uniform level of pauperism. This picture may appear overdrawn. The writer does not anticipate that it will ever be realised. He feels confident that no such extreme course will be adopted ; but he is equally confident, that if the law be stringently carried out, and no assistance afforded from elsewhere, such must be the result.* The impression seems generally entertained in England, that the Irish poor-law must eventually occasion the confiscation and sale of portions of the estates of embarrassed landed proprietors. The writer cannot see how it can have any such result. The whole annual produce of the land is liable to the payment of the rates, prior to any other claim ; but the fee of the land itself is not liable. The owner may desert it, and leave it untilled. There is nothing to distrain. His rates are unpaid ; but there is no means of enforcing the claim against the land itself. Even where an action is brought against a proprietor, on account of rates due on holdings under £4 annual value, it may perhaps result in the appointment of a receiver over his property, but he cannot be forced to sell. The debt is merely personal, and the estate passes after his death to the heir of entail perfectly free.f
* It may be stated, in proof of the remarks in the text, that several persons of this class, who have property to lose, have already left the country, dreading the impending rates.
f It is thought by some that a judgment in the superior courts would have a more extensive effect; but as no case has yet come before a court of law, the question is still undecided. It was evidently the intention of the legislature, to give the poor the first claim upon the produce of the land; but it cannot be supposed that it was ever intended to confiscate
The present law is nearly similar to that of England in these respects. When the parish of Cholesbury became unable to support its poor, the land was not sold. It was useless to its owners for the time, because they could not get any one to rent it ; but when the parish righted itself again, the owners resumed possession.
The law in Ireland might no doubt be altered, if it be judicious to alter it, so as greatly to facilitate the recovery of poor-rates; and to give that power of confiscation, which the English press seems to think so desirable. The landlords might be made primarily liable to poor-rate, as they have been to tithe rent-charge, being entitled to add the tenant's portion to the rent. Summary powers might be given to the poor-law commissioners, in case of the rates not being duly paid, to appoint a receiver, or to sell the property in whole or in part. Such powers would be very severe and arbitrary, and would be a wide departure from the English practice, but they would be efficacious. Whether it would be wisdom and good policy, thus to root out a large portion of the landed proprietary of Ireland, and introduce new men, is another question. There are certainly many of them, who, by their conduct under the recent circumstances of the country, have not merited such a fate. While it may be necessary to afford assistance to those parts of Ireland, where the property is evidently unequal to the burden thrown on it, it is also necessary to enforce the payment of rates from all those who possess any means of paying them. To allow men to escape payment by intimidation or manoeuvre, would be an encouragement to roguery, and most disheartening to the honest man. It would inflict a serious wound on the moral feeling of the country. If it be necessary to advance money from the Treasury, and there be no means of repayment, it should at once be given explicitly as a grant; if it be a loan, the repayment should be strictly enforced. Arrangements may surely be made, short of the extreme measures above alluded to, which may facilitate the recovery of poor-rates, so that they may be collected as fully at least as any other tax. But the area for rating is by electoral divisions, not unions : and even in the west, there are many electoral divisions which will be fully able to support their own poor; the value of property being greater, or the means of employment better. There are other electoral divisions, where the property is small compared with the population, where the landlords are non-resident, and no attempt has been made to afford employment, which are evidently unable to support the burden of the poor-rate. In order to meet this difficulty, many have said, why not extend the area for rating, and throw all on the union ? Others have proposed a national rate. These propositions have found favor with many in England, because they expected in this way to make the property of Ireland support all its poor. In considering the provisions of an Irish act, they have chiefly looked to English interests, and in so doing have evinced a very short-sighted policy; for surely that which will best suit the circumstances of Ireland, will eventually be the best for both countries. To provide against this difficulty by an extension of the area for rating, appears a very questionable remedy. It would certainly lessen the inequality of taxation, but it would at the same time almost wholly take away the inducement, which now exists, to endeavour to provide sources of employment for the able-bodied poor, instead of feeding them in idleness; because the efforts of any one individual employer would be inappreciable, in diminishing the amount of rates, if they were spread over so great an extent of country. The effects of such
the fee of the land itself. Under the Irish poor-law, the unpaid arrears on each tenement remain a charge on that tenement; there is no power of remission, as in England. It is therefore possible that arrears might accumulate, until the amount exceeded the value of the fee; in which case, an act of parliament would be necessary, in order to remit the arrears, and so enable the land to be cultivated.