HC Deb 16 February 1831 vol 2 cc606-7
Mr. Briscoe

moved for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the 59th of Geo. 3rd, c. 12., as far as it. relates to the letting and leasing of Land to labourers. The object he had in view was, to repeal that clause of the Act which limited parish overseers to twenty acres as the quantity of land which they were allowed to purchase and let to the poor. The amendment he meant to propose would be, he was convinced, productive of great good.

Mr. Sturges Bourne

approved of the proposed alteration. He happened to know, that the Act had effected great good, and he believed would effect more than at present if the Amendment were carried into effect.

Mr. J. Smith

also supported the Motion. In a village of Sussex, with which he was connected, the greatest benefits had been experienced by acting on such a plan. Many persons had accepted small spots of ground on condition of not receiving parish relief. They had all done well, and brought up large families.

Sir J. Shelley

was of opinion, that parishes ought to take a quantity of land, in order to give employment to their own poor; and thus in some measure enable the pauper to contribute to his own support. He, too, knew from experience, that such a plan had been followed by the most beneficial effects.

Mr. Portman

feared that such a plan would be impracticable with regard to parishes, but private individuals might let out small portions of land to poor men, who would thus be enabled to support themselves without entirely depending on parish assistance, and who would, consequently, raise themselves above the degraded state in which they now were. However, he must say, that rather than see the present system patched up in this manner, he should wish Parliament to repeal most of the Acts on the subject, till they got back to the Act of Elizabeth. This was a subject which his Majesty's Ministers must speedily take into their consideration.

Lord Althorp

said, his Majesty's Ministers had the question of the Poor-laws now under their consideration, but they found it was a difficult subject on which to come to any satisfactory conclusion. It would be most imprudent to take any ill-advised step on the subject. If the system of partly paying the labourer wages out of the poor-rates could be got rid of, the administration of those laws would be much improved. The proposition of the hon. member for Surrey had his approbation, so far as he understood it.

Mr. Calcraft

thought, the true cause of the evil was to be found in a most redundant population. No good could be done till the effect of that evil could be remedied.

Mr. Sadler

denied, that there was any redundancy of the labouring population, and observed, that the evils of the Poor-laws were to be attributed to very different causes. So long as there were so many thousand acres uncultivated, he could not see how any one could assert that we possessed a redundant population.

Mr. Tennant

thought, that by emigration alone was the country to be saved from a dreadful convulsion.

Leave was given to bring in the Bill.

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