HC Deb 25 February 1834 vol 21 cc789-91
Mr. Pryme

rose to bring forward the following Motion:—"That the Committee on every Inclosure Bill shall, in their Report, certify whether a portion of land, as near to the village as conveniently may be, and not less than in the proportion of one acre to every twenty-five inhabitants according to the last population census, has been by such Bill directed to be allotted out of the commonable lands or waste grounds to the incumbent of the living and the parish officers for the time being, and the owners of one hundred acres of land in such parish, as trustees in trust to let the same in small portions, at low rents, to all labourers resident in the parish who may be desirous of hiring the same, such rents to be paid to the parish officers for the time being, in aid of the poor-rates; or whether there be any special reason why such allotment cannot conveniently or properly be made in that particular instance." The plan, said the hon. Member, of giving small allotments of land to labourers was not quite a new one. The experiment had been tried in some instances, and found very beneficial. In the November of 1830, when the firing of stacks and farmyards was occurring in different parts of the country, it was not found that labourers having these small allotments were in any instance connected with such outrages. In a parish in the county of Cambridge half an acre had been given to each labourer, with a condition that he should be discharged if he did not pay the rent. Since this establishment was formed, it had been found necessary to discharge no more than two; the poor-rates had been diminished, and the habits of the labourers greatly ameliorated. The pro- position he meant to submit to the House was to render it compulsory to appropriate a certain portion of any land that might hereafter be enclosed for the purpose of allotting it to the poor. Besides other advantages, labour would be created by the necessary fencing, draining, and cultivation of such allotments. It would be a stimulus to improvement to have the labourers allotments in immediate contiguity, in place of being dispersed over the whole surface of a parish. The rent accruing he proposed should be appropriated to the uses of the parish. The principal objection to the plan was, that it would take from every owner a portion of the land which of right belonged to him; but it was the same with roads. The owner of land in the case of a road was deprived of a portion of his land, but it was for the public benefit. The proprietors of land would eventually be more benefited by such allotments than if the inclosure was divided among them, for, while a body of more independent and comfortable labourers would thus be created, the poor-rate would be diminished. This diminution of rate would be a great benefit to the proprietor, for it was he, in fact, and not the occupier, who paid the poor-rates. They would pay a lower rate, and eventually receive a higher rent. Before he had the honour of a seat in that House, he introduced this system into one parish. It had been tried for some time, and was now found to be completely successful. This success appeared in the greater comfort of the labourer, and the crops produced on these allotments were more abundant than the crops of the neighbouring farmers. He might say it succeeded wherever it had been hitherto tried. One objection was, that by dealing out such small portions of land, a body of men would be created who would be neither farmers nor labourers. This might be a valid objection if he proposed to give large portions of land; but as he proposed to allot to each not more than a quarter or half an acre this could not alter the character or position of the labourer. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Resolution.

The resolution having been seconded and put from the Chair,

Mr. Gisborne

opposed the Motion. Very little benefit could arise now from a plan of this kind, when there remained but few inclosures to be made. He had no doubt of the good intentions of his hon. friend, but he could not support a motion which appeared to him a mere peddling attempt at getting rid of a great and extensive evil. He hoped the subject would be taken up on a more enlarged scale, and in a way calculated to do real good. This measure was much too partial in its operation. It would affect but very few parishes.

Mr. Tower

saw no good that could arise from the Motion. Poor lands were already out of cultivation, and there was no likelihood that if other poor lands were now enclosed, they could be advantageously cultivated by labourers. What was now proposed would not effect the object which his hon. friend had in view. The number of enclosures likely to take place was too limited to be extensively beneficial. The best way to improve the condition of the poor would be to afford them an opportunity of converting their labour to most profit.

Mr. Pryme

, in reply, said, there were twenty Inclosure Bills this Session, and he saw no reason why such a measure as that proposed by him should not be applied. If they could not do all the good they desired, they ought to do all they could.

The House divided—Ayes 31; Noes 136: Majority 105.

List of the AYES.
Brodie, W. D. O'Dwyer, A.
Beauclerk, Major O'Connor, F.
Buckingham, J. S. Pease, J.
Briscoe, I. Ruthven, E.
Brocklehurst, J. Ruthven, E. jun.
Blake, M. Roebuck, J. A.
Brotherton, J. Sinclair, G.
Buxton, T. F. Staveley, T. K.
Briggs, R. Tollemache, A. G.
Dundas, Captain Tyrell, C.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Walter, J.
Hall, B. Williams, Colonel
Kennedy, J.
Lalor, P. TELLERS.
Marsland, T.
Maxwell, J. Pryme, George
Miles, W. Potter, R.