HC Deb 27 April 1814 vol 27 cc562-3
Sir E. Brydges

rose, pursuant to notice, to call the attention of the House to a subject which had often engaged the attention of the legislature—the Poor Laws. To defend himself from any imputation of presumption, he thought it necessary to premise, that he did not mean to propose any thing contrary to the spirit of existing laws on the subject. There was no principle more generally approved by the legislature, and by all the writers on political economy, than that the poor should in as much as possible have the power of choosing their residence. It was the opinion of sir W. Blackstone, of lord Kaimes, of Adam Smith, of sir W. Young. What he meant to propose on this point had already received the sanction of the House, but was involved in a very large Bill. His first disposition was, that a settlement should be obtained in a parish by a certain number of years residence in it; either ten, seven, or five years. The next provision was, that paupers who had been thrice relieved, should not be prevented from having further relief. The third proposal of the hon. baronet was, that magistrates should have the power of affording medical aid to the poor, whether they belonged to the parish or not. Another proposal was, that servants (unmarried), who had been two years in a parish, were entitled to a settlement. The hon. member also proposed a number of minor measures conducive to the comfort of the poor, and concluded by moving, for leave to bring in a Bill for the better relief and settlement of the poor.

Mr. Lockhart

thought that the compulsory removal of paupers should in no case be allowed; but that should the pauper consent, he might remain wherever he became necessitated to receive parochial relief; and that such relief and aid should be administered by the parish in which the pauper might reside, to be subsequently defrayed by the parish to which be belonged.

Mr. Preston and Mr. Whitbread spoke generally in approbation of the motion, and complimented the hon. member on the pains and labour which he had bestowed on the subject.

The motion was agreed to; and sir E. Brydges brought up the Bill, which was read a first time, and allowed to be read a second time on this day fortnight, and to be printed.