HC Deb 28 January 1818 vol 37 cc66-7
Mr. Curwen

rose to inquire of the noble lord opposite, whether it was the intention of his majesty's government to bring forward any motion for the amendment of the poor laws in the present session? There was not a subject of more vital importance—no measure could tend more to produce that prosperity which he wished to see spread over the face of the country, than a wise revision and alteration of the poor laws. He was surprised that it had not been men-tinned in the speech from the throne; and certainly, if it had not been for the melancholy topic contained in that Speech, which filled all ranks of the people with regret, he would have made some remarks on the omission. He conceived that government ought to bring forward a measure on the subject; for so great a difference existed as to the plan which ought to be adopted, that he despaired of seeing any measure connected with the poor laws carried into effect, unless it originated with ministers, and was supported by their influence.

Lord Castlereagh

thanked the hon. member for calling the attention of ministers to this subject. He did not conceive, however, that the introduction of it was necessary in the Speech from the throne. From the zeal with which parliament had taken up the question in the last session, ministers thought it would be improper to interfere with it, until the legislature had brought the business to a satisfactory conclusion. He was of opinion, that the subject ought to be taken up on its own merits, and not as a government question; but ministers would feel it their bounden duty to use their utmost exertions, in order to bring the matter to a satisfactory result. A right hon. friend of his (Mr. S. Bourne), who filled the situation of chairman of the committee on the poor laws, intended to move the revival of that committee; and he hoped they would not abandon the subject, until they had effected every practical good that could fairly be desired.