Sir Thomas Freemantle
moved for a Return connected with the Agricultural Employment Act. Thesystem contained in that Act in many parishes had been adopted with great advantage; and he knew that the promoters of the measure entertained great expectations from its general adoption. Owing, however, to a construction which had been put upon some of the provisions of the Act, some difficulty had arisen, and he understood that the hon. member for Shoreham would bring in a Bill to amend it. His Motion was, that an humble Address be presented to his Majesty for a "Return of the number of parishes in each county in England and Wales, in which a plan has been agreed upon by the vestry, and approved by the Magistrates in Petty Session, for the employment of the poor of such parish, under the provisions of the Act 2nd and 3rd Will. 4th, c. 96." He would take that opportunity of saying, that the abuses of the Poor-laws were become an enormous grievance. He wished therefore to know whether it was the intention of his Majesty's Government to bring forward, or originate any measure relating to the Poor-laws, during the present Session. It could not be deferred much longer, it was a subject of too much magnitude for any individual Member to take up, but was one that required the talent, the means, and the responsibility of his Majesty's Government. He presumed the Commission appointed would soon make a Report; but he thought it very frequently happened that Commis- 637 sioners, instead of promoting the object they were meant to serve, were too frequently the means of retarding reformation. He hoped that would not be the case in the present instance.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that at present it was not the intention of his Majesty's Ministers to originate any measure on this subject. He stated the other night, that the Commissioners were shortly expected to make a Report. Until then, he could not say what course his Majesty's Government would adopt, as, till they had the desired information, they could not tell whether it would be necessary to frame a new law, or whether the abuses could be remedied under those that now existed.
§ Mr. Slaney
must take it upon him to urge the Government to give the subject their immediate attention. He did not think the Labour-rate Bill had proved very advantageous.
§ Mr. Cobbett
thought that the Act alluded to by the hon. Baronet, possessed some advantages, and he knew instances of its having been most beneficially acted on. It would, however, be a great improvement, were they to require that farm servants, and agricultural labourers should be lodged and boarded with their masters.
§ Address agreed to.