HC Deb 23 May 1817 vol 36 cc833-5

On the motion for the third reading of this bill, a conversation arose, chiefly on the clause to allow persons to avail themselves of parochial aid, should they require it, although they might have at the time money in the banks for savings not exceeding the amount of 30l. each, a power, however, being vested in the magistrates to withhold the parish relief, should the circum stances of the case justify such a proceeding.

Mr. Hammersley

particularly objected to this portion of the bill, as it was so complete a deviation from the principle of the poor-laws. The alteration went to remove what little objection remained in the breasts of the poorer classes of society to receive parochial relief.

Mr. Rose

said, he had held a consultation with many country gentlemen on this part of the bill, who all agreed in the necessity of retaining the regulation.

Lord Milton

observed, that agricultural labourers were already contributors to the saving banks without those clauses, which he did not think at all necessary or proper.

Sir C. Monck

opposed the clause, as he could not see any necessity for the over-zeal evinced in this portion of the bill; it was indeed undertaking to manage that which, if left alone, would manage itself. The operation of the bill would work a great injustice in Scotland.

General Thornton

trusted, as there was so much opposition to the bill, that the right hon. gentleman would withdraw it; and that, if a bill were necessary, one less objectionable might be brought forward next session. In the country there was much dislike of the bill in its present shape.

Mr. Protheroe

spoke in favour of the bill, as calculated to restore that independent feeling among the poorer classes, which was now so much broken down.

Mr. Frankland Lewis

observed, that the objection to the clause was an objection upon principle, and so far he entirely concurred in it. That principle was, that under the clause in question, persons would be admitted to parochial relief, without being wholly destitute of any kind of property. If the clause passed into a law, that principle would be recognized for the first time. He owned it was a wrong one, yet balancing all the circumstances, he apprehended there would be no danger in suffering it to remain. In the first place, the operation of the clause respected the right of receiving parochial relief by persons who had not amassed a sum exceeding 30l. in any saving bank; and next, it was to be considered, that even under the poor-laws, as at present administered, they did not require that an individual should be absolutely destitute of all property before assisting him. It was discretionary with the overseers, and in most cases that discretion was exercised on the side of mercy and humanity.

The bill was then read a third time; after which, Mr. Western moved, that the clause in question should be omitted.

Mr. Philips

supported the motion. If persons having property in saving banks, received relief from the poor-rates, it would tend to remove all sense of disgrace from dependence on the poor-rates.

Mr. Curwen

thought the clause could be of no service, and must do much mischief.

Mr. Courtenay

was against the clause, as affording a bonus for saving at the expense of the poor-rates.

Mr. Rose

maintained, that if the clause were rejected, it would prevent many from placing their savings in these banks, and that the general effect of the bill was to produce a habit of saving among the poor.

Mr. Wilberforce

supported the clause, as tending to propagate a spirit of independence, to promote a love of domestic comfort and enjoyment, and to prevent many evils that caused much misery and vice.

Mr. Calcraft

could not sufficiently admire the tactics of the right hon. gentleman, who attempted, in this disguised manner, to carry what he had failed in last year. This professed to be an encouragement to saving; but this saving was out of the poor-rates. It was preposterous to talk of saving otherwise than by one's own earnings. The clause therefore was most preposterous.

Colonel Wood

said, the clause was calculated to save a poor man involved in affliction and distress, from being altogether broken down and dispirited by misfortune. The public were very jealous of them, at that moment; they ought, therefore, to prove, by passing this clause, that a gene- rous regard to the feelings and comforts of the poor was their motive, and not an anxious wish to get rid of the poor-rates.

The House divided: For the clause, 60; Against it, 27. The bill was then passed.