HC Deb 19 June 1835 vol 28 cc917-8
Mr. Arthur Trevor

rose to move for copies of any information in the possession of his Majesty's Government relative to the recent disturbances among the labouring poor in Ampthill, Bedfordshire; Chesham, Bucks; and Eastbourne, Sussex. He said it could not but be matter of regret that in attempting to carry into effect the provisions of the new Poor-law, some disturbances had broken out. Though he deprecated them, he could not be altogether surprised at them. There were some points in that measure which he thought extremely objectionable—there were some points in it which amounted to neither more nor less than saying that the poor were strangers to the feelings of their more fortunate fellow, creatures—that their nature was not so sensitive as was the nature of the higher classes. When he saw the social compact violated, as it was by this law, he could not be surprised at what had taken place; and he feared that, before they had passed through the winter, other cases of a similar kind to those he was now bringing under the consideration of the House would occur. In so saying, he spoke not his individual opinion only, but the opinion of many experienced persons, among whom were some of the magistrates of the county in which he resided. He thought that the information for which he was about to move, could not fail to show the temper of the people towards the law in question. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving—"That there be laid before the House copies of any information his Majesty's Government may have received relative to the recent disturbances among the labouring poor in the parish of Ampthill, in the county of Bedford; Chesham, Bucks; and Eastbourne, Sussex."

Lord John Russell

said, that the only objection he had to the production of the papers was, that the information would come before the House in a better way when the Commissioners of the Poor-laws presented their Report, and they informed him that they would be able to do so by the end of this month. That Report would take notice of any riots or disturbances against the alterations which had taken place in the law affecting the poor. He had desired particularly that the Report should be full respecting the disturbances which had taken place in Eastbourne, Ampthill, and Chesham. With respect to the riots in Devonshire, they were caused by a number of boys and women, who misconstrued the intention of the Poor-laws. These persons objected to receiving in food the relief which they had been accustomed to receive in money; but it was to be hoped they would become reconciled to it. The advantage of the present system was, that the giving of the food afforded substantial relief, but when, money was supplied, it was too often carried to the gin-shop. There had been no disturbances in consequence of dissatisfaction with the Poor-laws of a very serious character. The ordinary police had been in every case equal to the suppression of the riots. He thought the hon. Gentleman had better wait for the information he required till it was furnished by the general Report.

Mr. Arthur Trevor

said, that understanding from the noble Lord that the Report of the Poor-law Commissioners would be shortly laid upon the Table of the House, he would not press his Motion. He sincerely trusted that the Report would have the effect of removing the anxiety which was at present felt by many persons as to the consequences of efforts to carry the Poor-laws into full effect. Under the present circumstances he begged leave to withdraw his Motion.