HC Deb 13 June 1839 vol 48 cc217-20
Lord John Russell

moved for leave to bring in two Bills, one to continue the Poor-law Commission for one year, the other to amend the law relative to the assessment and collection of rates to the Poor-law Amendment Act. He had already stated, that it was too late in the present Session to introduce the bill he had originally intended as to details, which had been under discussion both in the House and before a Select Committee; but all he now proposed to do was, to make a provision to prevent any occurrence to put an end suddenly to the Poor-law Commissions. The bill would provide for the continuance of the commission for a year longer than it would now exist by law; it would now expire at the end of the next Session of Parliament. He wished, also, to introduce a bill to amend the system of the collection of rates. Much difficulty and inconvenience was now felt in the collection of the rates, in consequence of the different authorities between the board of guardians and the overseers. By this bill, he proposed to enable the board of guardians to order the collection of the county and other rates collected with the poor-rates.

Mr. Darby

regretted that the noble Lord did not mean to introduce the bill as he originally intended; particularly he regretted, that he had omitted from this bill an alteration of the bastardy clause. He would also refer to the Report of the Committee of 1837, in which the special attention of Members was directed to the cases of widows with children; of men who were married before the Poor-law came into effect, who had large families; and persons who were unable to work. And as the proposed bill was only to last for a year, he thought that it would be a good opportunity to try to amend these points. He had had much experience with respect to the working of the Poor-law Bill, and the noble Lord would do him the credit of saying, that he had not factiously opposed it or used it for any party purpose. He might at first have objected to the Commissioners, but as it was now quite impossible to get rid of the system, they must make the best of it. He had personally received great attention from one of the Commissioners, Mr. Lefevre, whenever he had had occasion to consult him; but he had seen so much mischief from parts of the bill as it stood, that he would be glad to see it altered, and trusted that the amendment would not be made to depend upon any bill which was not likely to pass in the present Session. The bastardy clause, especially, was so drawn that it was perfectly incomprehensible—one part was totally inconsistent with the other, and the judges had said that they could put no construction upon it. He hoped the noble Lord would introduce a bill to clear up these points, and it would be certain of being carried.

Sir E. Knatchbull

might see, from the absence of any opposition to the noble Lord's motion, that it was not the intention of that side of the House to oppose any obstacle to the introduction of those bills. He regretted, however, that the noble Lord had not brought forward the measure he had intended to propose with respect to this subject, at an earlier period of the session, when it might be fully considered. He thought that, with respect to the bill, for the assessment and collection of rates, it ought not to be brought forward at so advanced a period of the Session.

Lord J. Russell

hoped the hon. Baronet would give his attention to that bill when in Committee, and he should be happy to attend to any suggestions he might offer.

Leave given.

The two Bills were brought in and read a first time.