HC Deb 23 March 1830 vol 23 cc782-4
The Marquis of Chandos

presented a Petition from a hundred in Buckinghamshire, for the application of a portion of parochial Poor-rates to the assistance of voluntary emigrants. The noble Marquis, in supporting the prayer of the Petition, said, he hoped that Government would take the subject into its consideration, as he knew of no more efficient mode of lessening the Poor-rates, and improving the condition of the working classes, than supplying those who were unable to procure work with the means to emigrate to such of the colonies as have a demand for their labour.

Mr. W. Horton

begged leave to say, that he intended to bring in a bill to meet the wishes of the petitioners, Should the House favour him with its support, he would endeavour to convince it of the practicability of applying a part of those rates to assist the unemployed operative to emigrate where there was a demand for labour, and also of its expediency and efficiency, and of the groundlessness of those objections which had been made against it.

Mr. Portman

said, he coincided in opinion with the right hon. Gentleman, that this matter ought to be seriously taken up; but he regarded the Ministers as the only persons who could successfully carry it into execution. Government, he thought, ought to appoint a committee to investigate the matter first, and point out the proper methods in detail for executing the project. He conjured the House not to deserve the reproach of being unable and unwilling to do any thing to relieve the condition of the poor.

Sir Thomas Freemantle

concurred in these opinions. He was sure that it would not cost parishes more to send their paupers to colonies, where they might be comfortable and happy, than it cost to keep them at home in want and wretchedness, where so little demand existed for their labour that they were set to break stones to keep them out of mischief.

Mr. Secretary Peel

considered the subject to be one of almost equal difficulty and importance. His right hon. friend, the Colonial Secretary had directed his attention to the subject, and had, as a preliminary step, sent out an intelligent person with a view to establish a uniform system of emigration to the North American colonies. With respect to parishes mortgaging their poor-rates, that was a subject of great difficulty, and he did not yet see in what manner Government could take it up, and he was not prepared to give an opinion, either one way or the other. He would not then enter into a discussion of the points alluded to by the petitioners, but should reserve his opinions till his right hon. friend's (Mr. W. Horton's) promised measure was before the House. To the details and principle of that measure he would give his best attention,—the rather, as his right hon. friend had, on a former occasion, displayed such a perfect mastery of the question in all its bearings,—had, in fact, so exhausted the subject that no committee or further inquiry was necessary. He was glad that his right hon. friend had announced his intention of bringing forward a measure the tendency of which was to lessen the amount of Poor-rates, as it would afford the House an opportunity of examining his right hon. friend's proposition more carefully than it had done. He should be happy to give his assistance to a measure for consolidating the several laws respecting the poor, should any hon. Member take upon himself the task.

Mr. R. Colborne

thought it was time that something should be done with the now undeniable superfluous population, for whose labour there was no domestic demand. Under such circumstances, the Act of Elizabeth could not be strictly adhered to. If relief were given only to sick and infirm, many able-bodied men must starve. He hoped, therefore, that either the Government or the right hon. Gentleman would succeed in introducing some practical measure.

Colonel Wood

anticipated the best results from the intended bill of the right hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. It was evident that a part of the evils of the Poor-laws arose from the mal-administration of them.

Petition to be printed.