Mr. W. Buncombe
said, he hoped the noble Lord would give an assurance to the House, that he did not desire to hurry 461 this bill through its future stages before the Easter holidays. It appeared to him to be due to the great body of petitioners, who had petitioned the House against the bill, that no unusual course should be adopted with regard to it, and that ample time should be given to consider its provisions after it had gone through committee. Under these circumstance he trusted the noble Lord would assure the House, that he had no intention of hurrying the bill through before Easter. He trusted it would not get through the committee before Easter, but if it should, he trusted the noble Lord would not press its other stages, but would afford ample opportunity to the House and the country, to consider its various provisions.
§ Lord F. Egerton
said, that lit: also hoped the noble Lord would give ample time for petitions to be presented on this important subject. He had been in formed, that several petitions were in preparation at Manchester, and that part of the country, very numerously signed, which were intended to be intrusted to him for presentation against the bill. He had no doubt there was a strong feeling in many parts of the country against the measure, but however happy he should be at all times to present any petitions entrusted to his care, he hoped, at the same time, that the petitions against this bill, or in favour of a repeal of the measure altogether, would be placed in the hands of some Member, whose views and opinions on the subject were more congenial with those of the petitioners than his were. He had had some experience of the working of the old law in some parts of the country, and he must say, that the new law was a very great improvement. The new law might not perhaps work so well in other parts of the country, but in those pails that he knew best, its operation was most beneficial, as compared with the old system.
§ Lord J. Russell
said, that he by no means wished to hurry the bill through the House. He had no intention whatever of hastening the subsequent stages of the bill. He only wished that the House should proceed day by day with the committee white there was a full attendance of Members from the country, who must know the opinions and feelings of the different localities which they represented. He thought it better, therefore, to take the clauses as soon as the House conve- 462 niently could through the committee, and it was for this reason that be proposed to proceed with it next week. He had no intention to prevent, due discussion at any stage of the bill. With regard to what had fallen from the noble Lord as to the feeling in Manchester against this bill, he must say, that so far its he could learn there had been no appearance of great feeling in that town, for when a meeting was advertised to take place on the subject, there could be no more than 300 persons induced to assemble. He had not a doubt, however, but that by means of considerable industry, it was possible to procure a greater number of signatures to the petition.
§ Mr. Fielden
said, that there was an extremely strong feeling against the new Poor-law in the manufacturing districts, and especially in Manchester. It was his opinion, Unit this bill could not be carried into effect in the manufacturing districts, and he should divide the House against it on every occasion,
§ Sir E. Sugden
rose for the purpose of deprecating unnecessary divisions, and and begging of hon. Members to direct their attention to those improvements which were desired by those who bad watched the working of the new law. He knew, that nothing had excited more prejudice against it than the separation of married persons advanced in life who were obliged to go into a workhouse. If the noble Lord would introduce an amendment to prevent the recurrence of such severity, he would cordially support him; but if not, he would himself introduce a provision to enable a husband and wife, when of advanced age, to live together, subject, however, to such rules and regulations as it might be thought proper to enact. There was another point deserving of attention. There were many old persons who, with a little aid, would be able to support themselves in their own cottages, but who were compelled by the existing law to go into the workhouse, where they cost more than would have supported them in their old residences. It was things of this kind, which were by no means necessary to the efficient working of the law; that were creating prejudices against it.
said, that in the Staines workhouse, of which he was an ex officio guardian, husbands and wives were never separated, but were allowed to live toge- 463 ther comfortably; and the paupers were warmed by good fires, and not by warm water.
§ Mr. W. Ellis
regretted, that every union workhouse was not as as well provided as that mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Mr. Leader
thought the noble Lord could not be in earnest, when he said there was not a strong feeling through the country on the subject of the new Poor-law. [Lord J. Russell: No; not so.] So he understood the noble Lord; and, in proof of the assertion, to observe, that many petitions had not been presented on the subject. But he could easily account for that. The people knew the value of petitioning that House, and did not petition merely because they had no confidence in it. There was no subject on which a stronger feeling prevailed, or on which so many petitions, and petitions so numerously signed, had been presented, for the short time that this Session had already lasted. The noble Lord was, therefore, mistaken, if he supposed, that there was not a strong feeling among the working classes on this subject.
§ Lord J. Russell
had said nothing about a strong feeling prevailing through the country. He had alluded simply to what the noble Lord had said with respect to Manchester, and denied, that there was any appearance of a strong feeling there.
§ Sir E. Knatchbull
had heard, that the Poor-law commissioners alleged, that under the existing law, they had the power to order the assistant-commissioners to do what he had done the other day at Barnstaple—summon before him the magistrates and gentlemen who had attended at a Poor-law meeting.
§ Lord J. Russell
had inquired of the Poor-law commissioners, what the facts of that case were, and they were not able to inform him, as they were not aware of what had taken place, but they intended to inquire further of the officers who were aware of the facts; as soon as he should be informed of the facts, he should be ready to state them to the House.
§ Sir E. Knatchbull
trusted, that if there were any papers on the subject, the noble Lord would lay them on the Table.
§ Mr. Slaney
, from having been a chairman of a committee to inquire into the working of the Poor-laws, could say, that abuses of the grossest kind had been carried on under the old law, and that some change 464 was necessary. That being the case, it was time now to address themselves to the law which had effected the change, and, if any parts of it were objectionable, to remove them.
§ Mr. Wakley
complained of the arbitrary power given as well to the commissioners as to the boards of guardians by this bill. He believed, that by proceeding with it the House was incurring such an amount of moral guilt, that ages of virtuous conduct could not redeem them. He had seen in the newspapers a most extraordinary case, to which he wished to call the attention of the House. It was an account of the proceedings before the magistrates at the Shire-hall, Nottingham, relative to the death of a man of the name of Parke. It appears, that he died from want, and complaint was made, that the parochial medical officer had not done all in his power to afford him aid. The surgeon, when he appeared before the magistrates, stated, that he endeavoured to obtain from the board of guardians some relaxation of the order as to giving nutritious food or other relief in case of destitution and illness occasioned by want of food. He said, that he had attempted, for six months in succession, to induce them to alter rule, so that he might be able, as the medical officer of the union, to go beyond the dietary in cases of urgency; but the reply was, that this was not to be done till he had reported each case to the board and obtained permission. So that if a surgeon of the union saw a patient dying from exhaustion, he had not power to order him a glass of wine or an ounce of nourishing food. He found one of the magistrates on the bench was Colonel Rolleston, he believed a Member of this House, who stated, that he believed, that the proceeding of this board of guardians had met with the disapprobation of the commissioners; and he should like to know from the hon. Member, if he was in the House, whether this was the case or not? Again, during the present day, in the discharge of his duty he met with a surgeon, who asked him why he had not replied to a communication which he had sent him in a somewhat similar case. He had no recollection of the case; so that it appeared the communication had miscarried. It appeared, that this gentleman was the medical officer of the Uxbridge union, and that he had got into some dispute with the board of guardians there, in 465 consequence of their interfering with the orders which he had given relative to his patients. This gentleman stated, that he found it necessary to order some nourishing sustenance to be given to some of the sick paupers beyond the usual dietary, and the board had thought proper to disallow his orders. He observed, that if this gentleman, as medical officer of the union, had applied to the commissioners on the subject, he would have found a remedy. The gentleman replied, that he would put into his hands the correspondence which had taken place on the subject, and, with the permission of the House, he would proceed to read it. It would appear from this correspondence, that if a rule of this kind was to be enforced by a board of guardians, and if it was to be carried out to the last, it would be consigning the poor in the workhouses to almost certain destruction. The medical officer of a union might order for a patient Epsom salts, he might order jalap, he might order rhubarb, or any other drug—he might prescribe medicines to any extent; but, as the House well knew, those drugs would not sustain human life. Still the guardians put no restraint upon the administration of drugs; but the medical officer must beware how he recommended anything more costly. There must be no stimulant; no remedy of that description could at any time or under any pretext whatever be administered without the consent of the guardians previously obtained. Now, he put it to the just feelings of hon. Members to say if anything could be more horrible than this? Could there be anything more deserving than this was of being called direct, cold-blooded, heartless cruelty? It never happened to him to meet with any detail of circumstances which struck his mind as being more horrible and dreadful than the conduct of these guardians. He should now, with the permission of the House proceed to lay before them the correspondence to which he had up to this time been directing their attention. The first letter he should read was from Mr. Rayner to the board of guardians of the Uxbridge union, and was in the following terms:—Uxbridge, December 3rd, 1841.Gentlemen,—It having been represented to me, that the board of guardians had observed, that I had given many orders for mutton, bread, and beer to the cases under my care, and which have appeared to them to be more than reasonable, I have considered it 466 right to acquaint the board, that I have not in a single instance given one order more than what I considered, as a medical officer, it was my duty to do; and I beg leave respectfully to remark, that a proper quantity and description of nourishment (only to be known by the medical attendant) is of as much, if not more importance to the successful issue of any case under treatment, as any other remedy.I remain, &c.WILLIAM RAYNER.The next document to which he wished to direct the attention of the House was an extract from the order-book of the Uxbridge Union; it was in these words:—It appeared from the medical weekly return-book of the Ruislip district, that the medical officer has attended nineteen patients during the past week, to fourteen of whom he has ordered indiscriminately mutton, beer, bread, &c. Besides these cases he has given two orders to the relieving officer for paupers whose names do not appear in the medical returns, namely, Mrs. Edward's child, ¼lb. of mutton per day, Mrs. Fellows's, mutton as before. Resolved, that Mr. Rayner, the medical officer, be requested to furnish the guardians with an explanation on the subject.The reply to that resolution made by Mr. Rayner was this:—Uxbridge, Feb. 4. 1841.'To the Hoard of Guardians, Uxbridge Union,Gentlemen,—I have to acknowledge the receipt of a resolution of the board of guardians, handed to me this day by Mr. Woodbridge. I beg to refer you to my letter addressed to the board on the 3rd of December, 1840; and again to state, that the articles of diet which I have ordered, to which that resolution refers, I consider necessary for my patients, and so long as I remain a medical officer of the union I shall continue to order them, if they require them. I have to-day learned, that some of my orders have been refused and others torn up, while to the paupers threats have been held out by Mr. Stockwell, that if Mr. Rayner continued them he should withdraw the money allowed to the pauper by the board of guardians. I therefore consider it to be my duty to state distinctly to the board, that I will not take upon myself the care and responsibility of those patients to whom diet is refused as a remedial means, nor risk the danger incurred by such refusal; but shall feel myself bound no longer to continue a medical officer of the union under such disadvantageous and hopeless circumstances.I have the honour to remain, gentlemen,Your obedient servant,WILLIAM RAINER.On the same day Mr. Rayner wrote the following letter;— 467Uxbridge, Feb. 4, 1841.To the Poor-law Commissioners of England and Wales.—Gentlemen—lam a medical officer for one of the districts of the Uxbridge Union, under a contract for one year, to terminate in March next. On the 3rd of last December, in consequence of reports which reached me, I sent the letter marked No. 1 to the guardians. To-day I received the resolution of the board marked No. 2, and have since sent the letter marked No. 3, in reply. The district which I have is extensive and exceedingly poor, and I have ordered articles of diet, which in my judgment I deemed necessary for the well-doing of my patients, and send you a copy of the return to the board of guardians, on which the resolution was founded. Now, gentlemen, I wish to be satisfied on the following points, and as it is ray present intention to publish the whole correspondence for the benefit of others similarly circumstanced, I shall, therefore, thank you for an explicit and clear answer to my inquiries, as upon your answer will greatly depend my continuing a medical officer of the union;—1. Have I authority, as a medical officer, to order any description of article of diet for pauper patients under ray care? 2. From whence does that authority arise? 3. Have the board of guardians or relieving officer authority to refuse an order for diet which I, as a medical officer, deem proper for my patients? And, if so, 4. What would be the proper grounds for such refusal?I have the honour to be, Gentlemen,Your obedient servant,WILLIAM RAYNER.He wrote again on the 26th of February, in the following terms:—Uxbridge, February 26, 1841.Gentlemen—I had the honour of addressing a letter to you three weeks ago, on a subject in connexion with the Uxbridge Union, and have not yet been favoured with a reply. Similar circumstances having occurred since I wrote to you, I am anxious for your immediate answer to my inquiries, and have the honour to be,Gentlemen,Your obedient Servant,WILLIAM RATHER,.To the Poor-law Commissioners.After the lapse of a few days, he received the following communication:—1,636 A.—Poor-law Commission-office, Somerset-house, March 4, 1841.DIET FOR SICK PAUPERS.Sir—The Poor-law Commissioners acknowledge the receipt of your letter, of the 4th ult., and of its enclosures, and they have had under their consideration the inquiries which you submit to them with respect to your authority as medical officer of the Uxbridge Union, to order any description of articles of diet for 468 pauper patients under your care. The commissioners, in reply, desire to inform you, that a medical officer is not empowered by the orders of the commissioners, or by his contract with the guardians, to order articles of diet for pauper patients under his care. Such a power would be equivalent to the power of giving relief, which the law has vested generally in the guardians, and which it is not competent to a medical officer to exercise. A medical officer can only recommend or advise the guardians (or relieving officer) to give certain articles of diet to a pauper patient, and the guardians (or their relieving officer) will exercise their discretion, upon their own responsibility, whether they will or not adopt such recommendation or advice.By order of the Board.——ASSISTANT SECRETARY.The House must now have seen that the board of guardians, after employing a medical man themselves, assumed the power of interfering with his medical treatment of the patients intrusted to his care. What else did their conduct amount to? The doctor was called in, he found the patient with a sinking pulse, he found that nutriment, and not medicine, was the chief thing required, he found that beef and mutton, that jellies and soups, and wines, were the remedies which alone could restore the patient to a stale of health. The necessity for this might arise on the night of a Tuesday; the guardians might not meet until the following Tuesday, and what in the mean time was to become of the unfortunate pauper patient? The Poor-law commissioners took little pains to provide for his sustenance in such an event. In what light, he would ask, was it probable that the public would view a transaction of this nature? Would they not view it with horror and disgust? It was horrible and disgusting, and nothing else; it gave the guardians the power of sentencing the paupers to death. What a contrast this exhibited to the treatment which the inmates of prisons experienced? There the medical officer was not restrained, as he was in the case of the innocent and unoffending paupers; he he might order whatever diet he pleased. The prisoners were immediately supplied with wine or with other sustenance, to whatever extent the medical officer might think necessary, and all this for the benefit of delinquents who had offended against every law; while the honest and industrious pauper who had toiled and slaved through thirty or forty years— 469 who throughout the whole of that period had, in common with the class to which he belonged, contributed to the resources, the dignity, the strength, and the wealth of the empire, yet was to be allowed to perish in his old age from mere want of sustenance! In the peculiar gaol which the Poor-law Amendment Act had created the prisoners were allowed to starve. The medical officer roust see them die under his care, and was not supplied with the means of administering to them the only remedy which his art enabled him to suggest.
§ Mr. Darby
said, that under the old law a remedy for the evil of which the hon. Gentleman complained was to be found in an application to a magistrate; he believed that that remedy still continued to exist. If a medical officer said that the case of any pauper patient was one of a dangerous character, and that additional nutriment and stimulants were required for his use, then the magistrates possessed the power, and it was not to be supposed that in any case they would want the inclination to make such an order, as the exigency of the case might seem to require. There certainly was a clause in the existing law to that effect, and he could not help feeling surprised, that it should have eluded the examination of the hon. Gentleman opposite, the hon. Member for Finsbury.
§ Sir Harry Verney
agreed, that it was desirable to have every case of alleged abuse investigated, and for his own part be could only say, that he was most anxious the poor should receive not only proper medical attendance, but such necessary articles of diet as their cases required. He had some experience in the matter, and he did not hesitate to state, that he never knew an instance where a pauper wanted relief in which it was not afforded. This was a case which should be inquired into, and he felt delighted when accusations of the kind were brought forward, because it would enable them properly to deal with them.
§ Viscount Howick
quite agreed with the last speaker, that in any case of emergency a remedy did exist. The question which the hon. Member for Finsbury had raised was this, whether or not the medical officer could order supplies of food independently of that discretionary power with which the board of guardians were supposed to be invested by the law, as it 470 at present stood. That was, he apprehended, the question which had been raised. Now, in common justice, he felt bound to say, that he never remembered an instance in which any board of guardians hesitated to allow nutritive diet when required to do so by the medical officer. It was well known that in every part of the country they readily gave wine, and everything else that the condition of the patient seemed to require; it was possible that in many cases statements to a contrary effect were circulated, but he believed that they were put forward without the least foundation. It did not by any means follow, that because a medical man had received legal authority to practise, he was therefore free from the wish to excite dissatisfaction throughout the country. Although a member of the College of Surgeons, he might be anxious to acquire a low and despicable popularity; he might wish to flatter the worst passions and prejudices of the multitude; he might abuse the trust reposed in him; he might avail himself of the power which he possessed and convert it to purposes of mischief, it did not follow from what the House heard that evening that something of that sort might not be the case, and if a board of guardians suspected that any thing of the kind were practised under the plea of duty, they wire bound not to allow the medical officer to take out of their hands the power of giving or withholding relief. He could not, without stronger evidence than had yet come under his observation, bring himself to believe that the gentleman, the magistrates, the farmers of England, would be guilty of such conduct as had been imputed to them by the hon. Member for Finsbury; he could not believe it on the unsupported statement of the hon. Member. He heard enough to convince him that the hon. Member gave ready credence to every story related to him on subjects of this nature. The hon. Member never allowed himself for a moment to doubt any statement made to the disadvantage of the Poor Law Commissioners. He did not accuse the hon. Member of wilful misrepresentation—to do so would be unparliamentary. He accused the hon. Member of nothing of that sort; but if the hon. Member were in the habit of loosely adopting statements with which he might be furnished on occasions of this kind, the hon. Member would never want materials for inflammatory speeches, [Mr. Wakley; 471 Have any of my statements been disproved?] They had not been substantiated. The hon. Member was a strenuous advocate for the maintenance of local Governments, and for allowing parties to manage their own affairs; yet now be objected to the exercise of any discretion on the part of the elected representatives of a parish or union. But the whole of what occurred at Uxbridge, and at the Nottingham union, convinced him—though he did not want any further proof—of the justice and the wisdom of having an impartial central authority to control the proceedings of local boards and officers. He did trust that the cases which had that evening been brought forward would not be implicitly received. Before he sat down, he could not help observing, that the hon. Member who brought them forward had not taken the precaution of mentioning the matter to gentlemen connected with that part of the country, in order that it might be inquired into before the subject came under the consideration of the House. Nothing was known of the matter beyond the statements which the House had heard from the hon. Member himself, and he did hope that the House would not attach any weight to complaints of that description.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, it had been stated, that Mr. Rayner might be one of those who were seeking popularity to serve their own ends, by bringing this measure into disrepute; but were there not others who were seeking popularity with the same view? Were there not noble Lords who, when they were turned out of one place, were trying by all means in their power to get into another? It appeared that three weeks had elapsed before any answer was sent to the statement of this medical officer. Now, if that were the feeling which the noble Lord justified, he would tell the noble Lord he had no reason to boast of it, and that the sooner he quitted the situation of poor-law guardian the more satisfactory would it be to the poor of the union over which he presided. He thought this was a most important case; and that it proved how little they could trust to the Poor-law commissioners in the regulations they made, and how little confidence they could have in the boards of guardians in carrying those rules into execution.
§ Sir A. Dalrymple
had listened with pain to the speech which had been made 472 by the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Howick) in answer to that of the hon. Member for Finsbury. The noble Lord seemed to forget, that at that moment the whole of England was not under the sway of the Poor-law commissioners, and that, therefore, it was necessary patiently and calmly to listen to and investigate any of those statements that were made, and see whether they were accurate or not; and not to answer those who brought them forward in the way the noble Lord had answered the hon. Member for Finsbury. What was the case and manner of proceeding in those places that were not yet brought into union? He would mention a case within his own knowledge. During the last winter he had received a letter from an individual resident in the town which he represented, stating, that his foot was frost-bitten, that he was in great distress, and begging he would afford him some relief. It appeared that he was a person who had been a pauper in the parish. He went to the surgeon who attended the parish, and asked him the state of the case. That officer answered, that the applicant was a pauper who had received out-door relief; but that it was in his power, from the directions he had received, to administer to the paupers under his charge any species of food or nourishment which he thought fit, and that it was therefore unnecessary for the man to have made that application. Now the statement which had been made by the hon. Member opposite appeared to him to deserve consideration in this respect. Even supposing that the medical officer, as the noble Lord had suggested, had made this statement for the purpose of creating popularity, still it was possible that the persons to whom he wished to administer that relief might really have required it, and it was therefore the duty of the board of guardians to have inquired into the circumstances. It was possible they had done so, but he had referred to the Poor-law commissioners in London. An extract from their answer had been read, and it stated nothing of any inquiry having been made. There seemed to have been no distinct inquiry, and the medical officer had received a reproof for his conduct, which in his opinion was wrong. But what he wished was, that all acrimony should be avoided on both sides of the House when cases of this kind were brought forward, He was sure that that 473 acrimony had been one of the causes that had produced so much ill feeling against the Poor-law throughout the country. There was only one more observation which he wished to make. Many of those gentlemen who acted as assistant Poor-law commissioners had theories of their own that did not answer when carried into practice; and it was, therefore, highly necessary that their proceedings should be carefully watched.
§ Colonel Rolleston
understood that during his absence his name had been mentioned in reference to a case with which he was in some degree acquainted; and he must express his regret that the hon. Member for Finsbury had not given him some little intimation of his intention to refer to that case, as he was led to believe from what he had ascertained from hon. Members one one side or the other, that some misapprehension might exist as to the circumstances of it, and that blame might be attached to the wrong quarter. He would, however, endeavour to give some explanation of the circumstances of the case. As an ex officio guardian of the union in which that case occurred, he was one of those who held the opinion, that unless guardians regularly attended to the business of the board, they did little or no good by going only now and then. Acting on that principle, he seldom visited the board, nor should he have done so on this occasion, but for a most frightful statement that had appeared in the public papers, in reference to a pauper who was represented to have died in the union workhouse under the most distressing circumstances. When he heard of it, he considered it his duty to attend the board to ascertain whether any steps had been taken in reference to it; and on doing so he found the question had been already argued, and that a resolution had been come to that the case should be investigated. From that investigation it appeared That this unfortunate man was exceedingly ill, and that he had been removed to the union workhouse, a distance of ten or eleven miles, in an open cart, in most inclement weather, when the temperature was ten or fifteen degrees below the freezing point. He was received into the workhouse at about five o'clock in the evening in a state of extreme debility, and was attended to, but he never rallied, and he died at eleven or twelve o'clock the following day. Everything was done, he 474 believed, that could be done by the inferior servants; but the more particular part of the question rested with the medical officer. On examination, he said he had prescribed for this man some water-gruel and tea, and something warm, &c. He asked him whether he had prescribed in writing or verbally, and his reply was, "In writing," and he accordingly produced his book. In that book he saw entered "water-gruel and tea," with an "&c." He observed to the medical officer that the "&c." was very wide in its meaning, and asked him what he meant by it. His answer was, "Something warm of that sort; nothing but warm tea or water-gruel." He asked,Do you mean to say, that under the circumstances of this case, which I understand to be one of extreme debility, something more calculated to sustain life, or more stimulating, was not necessary?The answer of the medical officer, to his astonishment, was this—Most assuredly I should have given him warm wine, or spiced wine, or something of that sort, but I had no power of doing it, by the orders of the board of guardians.He said he thought that was totally impossible, and that there could be no such order, for it was contrary to the spirit of the act, and the rules and regulations of the Poor-law Commissioners, and the common feelings of humanity. He told the medical officer he was quite satisfied he must be mistaken, but the answer was that he was not mistaken, that there was such an order, and he would appeal to the chairman of the board, a gentleman of the highest respectability, to know whether such an order did not exist. The explanation that was accordingly given was this—that what had been done, had been according to their order: it was true there was no written order of the kind on the books: but the medical officer had received an injunction, that he should not apply stimulants of this sort without a special order of the board. He regretted further to say, that that medical officer had applied four or five times to the guardians, to have that injunction set aside, but he had been unable to attain it. He was sure, however, that the House would see that this did not reflect on the commissioners. If the board of guardians had given that injunction, and that injunction had been acted on, the commissioners were not to 475 blame. It so happened that one of the Poor-law Commissioners (as we understood) was present at the time of the investigation; of course he took no part in the proceedings of the board, but he appealed to him whether such an order was not contrary to the spirit of the act, and the rules of the commissioners. He really believed it to be so; arid he considered that this unfortunate occurrence, whether from a mistake on one side or the other, did not rest with the Poor-law Commissioners, or any order they had made. But the case had been carried further. It was brought before the magistrates, and they thought the matter so serious, as to require still further investigation. It was then brought before a court of law, and the learned judge, in his address to the grand jury, said, that the persons were indicted only for a misdemeanour in this case; but he would most distincly tell them it ought, if anything, to have been an indictment for manslaughter, and it was, therefore, not found. The indictment was against the medical officer and the overseer, who had sent this poor unfortunate man to the workhouse, in an open cart, in such inclement weather. Those were the circumstances of the case, and they were still under investigation by the proper authorities, who would see where the blame ought to rest.
Mr. C. Hamilton
thought the statement of the hon. Member for Finsbury would induce hon. Members to pause before they voted for the clause defining the powers of the commissioners and guardians; because it was stated, that the commissioners did not sanction this extra allowance to paupers. It was said that the by-rule had been applied only to the Uxbridge Union; but, according to the 4th clause of this bill, he believed it would become a general law for all unions.
§ Mr. C. Wood
said, he thought the hon. Member Who had just spoken, would find nothing in the 4th clause of this bill to justify the fear he had expressed. The question was. whether a medical officer of an union had a right, without an order of a board of guardians, to order an indiscriminate supply of extra sustenance. He recollected that, according to the documents which the hon. Member for Finsbury had read, the medical gentleman in question had ordered extra sustenance in two cases which did not appear in his medical report; and he must say, that ac- 476 cording to all the experience he had had as a guardian of the poor, such a course was contrary to all the rules and regulations of any board.
§ Mr. E. Buller
said, that if a report were laid before a board of guardians, that a medical man had attended in the course of the last week only nineteen cases, and that out of those, in fourteen cases he had ordered wine, and extra sustenance of that kind, he must say, that if he were chairman of that board, he should have felt himself bound to make some inquiry into the circumstances. But he did not think it possible, that out of such a small number of cases, so many could have required such a liberal order as to wine and other things of the same kind. It did not appear to him, however, that the board of guardians did restrict their medical officers from making those orders, until they ex-they extended them too far.
§ General Johnson
said, it must not be forgotten that this case had been referred to the commissioners, and three weeks elapsed without any notice being taken of it. Another letter was then sent, and after taking further time to consider their answer, they at last confirmed the order of the board of guardians by saying, that the medical officer was not to give extra sustenance, except by the advice of the board of guardians, and either at the option of the guardians, or the relieving officer. Now, since boards of guardians only met once a fortnight, and although many cases might be brought in requring extra sustenance, yet the medical man would only have the power to order water-gruel or tea. Were hon. Members sent to that House to devise means for starving the poor? It was with deep regret he had heard the the speech which the noble Lord, the leader of that House had made, on the opening of this debate, on Friday last. The declaration then made by the noble Lord was pregnant, in his opinion, with most serious evils. The noble Lord wished to bind together the base and the good, the vicious and profligate with the virtuous and industrious, and throw them all into a chaos of confusion and destitution. He wished the House to observe the principles which were inculcated in the doctrine, that there should be only one test, whatever might be the circumstances of the case, and that whether destitution arose by the visitation of the Almighty, or by his own profligacy, every poor man should meet at the hands of 477 the House the same treatment. He called upon that House, before they proceeded with this bill, to guard against such a principle being embodied in the law of the land. Had the declaration which was made by the noble Lord fallen from the Commissioners, he should not have been suprised at it; but coming, as it did, from a leading Member of the Cabinet, it had made a deep impression on his mind.
§ Mr. Grote
said, the noble Lord's speech on Friday last was not the subject of the present discussion; but if it were he might say that never in his life had he listened to a speech in which he so thoroughly concurred. He felt the strongest admiration for the courage with which the noble lord had supported this measure, a measure which he believed to be the only true and humane one for paupers and pauperism, in spite of the obloquy that was attempted to be thrown on it. He entreated the House to understand what was the question really before the House. No blame could be attributed to the commissioners or to the board of guardians; but the hon. Member for Finsbury desired that all medical officers attached to unions should have the unlimited liberty of ordering sustenance of the most expensive kind, without it being in the power of the guardians or the commissioners to disallow the orders of the medical officers, even if they felt it necessary to do so. If this principle were admitted, the medical officers would become the real administrators of the relief to the poor, and the Poor-law commissioners and the boards of guardians might be dispensed with all at once. In the case instanced by the hon. Member for Finsbury the commissioners were appealed to, and they were obliged to interpret the law as it existed. The principle which the hon. Member wished to establish was a bad one, both under the new and under the old law.
§ Colonel Wood
protested against the doctrine of the hon. Member for the city of London. He regarded the medical officer as not only responsible for the medicine he prescribed to his patients, but also for the diet he ordered.
§ Mr. Easthope
said, that medical officers, when entrusted With the care of the poor, were bound to deal with them in all respects according to their best skill. In doing so they were under the superintendence and control of the board of guardi- 478 ans, who, if they exceeded the line of their duty, could at once discharge them; was not this sufficient to prevent any abuse of their power by the medical officers v He thought common sense and common humanity pointed out the proper course in this matter. The medical officer should have full power, being responsible for the manner of its exercise to the guardians. He could not but lament that this natural arrangement should be opposed, and especially at a time when there was so much exitement in the country respecting the administration of the law.
Mr. W. Attwood
said, that the case before the House was that of poor persons who had been convicted of no crimes, but whose sufferings proceeded from their poverty. They required medical assistance, and the medical officer did not feel at liberty, in consequence of the positive orders he had received, to administer the relief which their suffering and sinking nature required, without first receiving the sanction of the board of guardians, even though death might he the consequence of delay. If this was the case of any individual who was suffering, not from poverty, but from some cause that occasioned an excitement in the country, he was sure that such treatment would be alluded to in that House in the strongest terms of reprobation. It had been said, that no blame was due either to the guardians or to the commissioners. The hon. Member for London, had gone so far as to say that no blame was attributable to any one, and that that which had occurred was only what might be expected to occur under similar circumstances. Now, the House Would bear in mind some observations which had been made by the right hon. Member for Tamworth, showing the incautious manner in which the Poor-law commissioners were accustomed to express their wishes and intructions, and which was felt to be improper even by the supporters of the Poor-law. He would put it to the House, then, whether some of these incautious expressions might not, in the case brought under the notice of the House, have led the board of guardians into error. It was the opinion of some hon. Members that the medical officer should not administer relief without the consent of the guardians; but it might happen that unless the medical officer had such power he would not be able to save the life of a pauper suffering from sickness. He saw no security for the pauper if the medical 479 officer were taught to look upon the board of guardians in the characrer of a consulting physician. Unless a medical officer could be intrusted with the discretion of ordering proper sustenance for the poor, he was not fit to be intrusted with their care. It was competent for the board of guardians at their weekly meetings to check any abuse. He regretted to hear the hon. Member for London, defend rules which must necessarily lead to the recurrence of cases similar to the one just alluded to [No] Why, the hon. Member had said, that if the medical officer were vested with the unlimited discretion of administering food and sustenance to the poor, in that case the medical officer, and not the board of guardians, would be the actual administrator of relief to the poor. Now he said, that if the medical officer were to be allowed to administer no relief to the sick paupers without the consent of the guardians, cases similar to the one brought under the notice of the House must constantly occur. When he saw attempts made to extenuate proceedings of such a nature, he could not but believe that some expressions—unguarded they might be—contained in the reports of the Poor-law commissioners, had led to the formation of these stringent rules by the boards of guardians. It was for this reason that those who opposed the New Poor-law thought it would not be wise to continue it until security was obtained for greater caution in its excution.
§ Mr. Ward
said, the hon. Gentleman had entirely mis-stated what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Member for London. It was not a question whether a certain discretionary power should be intrusted to medical officers. That was, in fact, the general rule. But his hon. Friend said, that if such power were delegated to medical officers, without responsibility to boards of guardians, it would be transferring to them the whole administration of relief. His hon. Friend had been entirely mis-represented—almost wilfully misrepresented [Cries of "Order"]. He begged pardon if he had used any expression out of order; but his hon. Friends' statement had been very clear, and very much mis-understood. His hon. Friend thought responsibility necessary, and that was no ground for an imputation of inhumanity. In every part of the country a discretion was given for at least one week to the medical officers. [Mr. Wakley: Where do you find it?] In Hertfordshire and in the district with which 480 he was connected. A medical officer of one union informed him, that without communication with the board of guardians, he ordered wine, bread, meat, to any extent which he thought necessary; and that in no single instance had he been found fault with. At one time a low typhus fever prevailed, and for six weeks the charges for wine and other comforts amounted to three, four, and five pounds for each family. He did not wish to go into the general question, but he would just remind hon. Gentlemen that the system advocated by the opponents of the present measure was not condemned without trial. In 1793 Mr. Pitt, in proposing the alterations which were made at that time said, "Let us make relief, particularly in cases where there are a number of children, a matter of right, and not of opprobrium." Now he would ask whether the system then introduced did not give a premium upon improvidence, by holding out a prospect of honour and reward for families brought into the world without the means of providing for them.
Mr. W. Attwood
said, that as the hon. Member had withdrawn the charge he had made of wilful misrepresentation, he would leave the House to decide which of the two had been most guilty of misrepresentation.
§ Mr. Courtenay
thought that the old system of Poor-laws was like a cancer spreading on the vitals of the country, and he entertained respect for the courage of the Ministers who dared to probe the wound. He would no more think of charging them with cruelty than he would the surgeon who used the knife to cut out a cancer. Nevertheless, he could not shut his eyes to the occurrences which were taking place in the country. The House had heard of an individual case; but he could quote the case of many individuals in the union of Bridgewater, and he was sure the House could not listen to his account without shuddering at the pain and misery which the poor people had endured. At the end of October, 1836, the workhouse at Bridgewater was crowded to excess. An epidemy of a grave character broke out; dysentery prevailed, and a vast number of persons were 481 ill. The medical officer represented to the board of guardians that the disease was of an infectious nature; and he recommended that some change should be made in the diet. The House had heard of wine and meat and all kinds of com. forts being prescribed, but in this case, all that the surgeon asked was, that the poor might be allowed to change their water-gruel, which, as hon. Members might be aware, had a tendency to aggravate certain disorders of the bowels, for rice milk. The answer the surgeon received from the board of guardians was, that they could not interfere. The surgeon was given to understand that his duty was with the sick only. No redress was to be had, These statements could hardly be believed, unless they had been proved on oath before the House of Lords. An appeal was made to the commissioners, but from the end of October until the month of April following no answer could be obtained; and no power was given to change the diet, though the people were dying, and in a small population not less than fifty deaths occurred. He was not about to reason upon the principle post hoc ergo propter hoc; he admitted that these people may have died from some other cause; but when they saw persons enduring all the miseries of an hospital (for it was nothing else), medical men were bound to apply their understanding, their medical understanding, to the treatment of these poor people, in order to prevent the spread of an infection which had continued for five months, and nearly fifty persons had died. These were very serious considerations, and although he was no enemy to the Poor-law, and did not wish to inflame men's minds, he could not but think that the House should have before it what had taken place under this law, and he trusted that the noble Lord, in the present bill, would take care that where an epidemic unfortunately happened to break out, there should be a change of diet, not only of those who were actually suffering, but of such as lived in the atmosphere of the disease.
§ Mr. Muntz
said, that the great objection to this bill was the power given to the commissioners. If guardians could not do as they liked, why should they be responsible? He did not say, that the commissioners would do what they thought wrong; but if, from the circumstances in which they were placed, they did that 482 which produced the death of an individual, they were guilty of murder If they gave an order in consequence of which a poor man died, they were guilty of murder. No person of independent mind would be a guardian in the present state of things; no man of feeling would act under orders which no man of feeling could put in execution; and, therefore, no man of feeling would be a guardian. If a surgeon refused to act without the order of the commissioners, he ought to be dismissed. To tell him that a surgeon ought to wait for the order of the commissioners before he acted—why, it was a cold-blooded, deliberate murder. Men did not starve now, as in Queen Elizabeth's time, through idleness and dissipation, but because hey could not get the means of employment; thousands were every week thrown out of employment by the condition of the country. The object should be to induce men of independent minds and good feeling to become guardians, who would do justice to the people.
§ House went into committee.
§ On the first clause,
§ Mr. Easthope
rose to move the amendment of which he had given notice. He was sure that all parties in the House must feel anxiety that this measure should be accompanied by every possible security for the due administration of the great powers it conferred, and for the effectual control of Parliament over that administration. He could but feel the great delicacy, the great difficulty, and that even danger was necessarily attendant on powers so extensive. He could not but think, therefore, that the period for which those powers were by this bill to be continued should be shortened. He entirely concurred in the reasons which had been urged by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth against the period originally intended by the bill. The right hon. Baronet had succeeded by a statement of these reasons in convincing the House that the period ought to be reduced to five years. But he submitted to the House whether, considering the extraordinary functions of the commissioners, attended as they were with so much difficulty, and subjected as they were to so much misrepresentation, the term of five years were not still too long, and whether Parliament were acting with due caution in transferring all classes of the poor to the discretion of the commissioners for so 483 great a length of time. He did not think it necessary to go at length into the subject He thought the previous discussion, and particularly the debate of that evening, had furnished proofs of the expediency of shortening the period. He submitted to the House whether, after all that they had heard, five years was not far too long a time for the House to be without the power of revising this measure, and, if needful, of putting an end to the powers of the commissioners. If the bill worked well, and the commissioners executed their duties satisfactorily, and it was needful for the continued well-working of the measure that the powers of the commissioners should be continued beyond two years, Parliament would undoubtedly then prolong the existence of the commissioners. He knew there might be some inconvenience in having discussions on the subject frequently, but he trusted the House would not bend to considerations of that sort. He could not think it possible that the House, on account of mere inconvenience, would lay itself open to the charge of indifference to the well-being of the poorer classes, or of negligence in the discharge of its peculiar functions. He, therefore, begged leave to move that 1843 be substituted for 1846.
thought it necessary to take the opinion of the committee on a point of order. He had received intimation of different amendments on this point, one being for 1841, another 1842, and that which had just been proposed, 1843. It would be for the committee to decide which amendment should be taken first. He thought the figures in the bill were to be taken as blanks to be filled up.
§ Lord John Russell
thought he might be considered as proposing that the words 1846 should stand part of the clause, and that the amendment which had just been proposed should take precedence of others.
§ Question accordingly proposed that 1846 stand part of the clause, to which Mr. Easthope moved as an amendment that 1843 be substituted.
§ Mr. Grote
said, the question he understood the Chairman to have put from the chair was, "that the words forty-six shall stand part of the bill, to which an amendment had been moved by the hon. Member for Leicester, "that 1843 be substituted," and to that question he should address himself. He hoped that the noble 484 Lord would not consent to any proposition for shortening the duration of the commissioners to a less period than five years. The excitement which the continuance of their powers created served as an additional reason to his mind why the period of their existence should not be reduced below five years. Many gentlemen, like the hon. Member for Oldham, and the hon. Member for Finsbury, disapproved altogether of the working of this bill; and he could not wonder that gentlemen who entertained that view should be disposed to restrict the duration of the commissioners to one year or two years; or, as the Member for Oldham wished, to one or two days. But if it turned out that there were many gentlemen of that House who had not made up their minds that this law was really injurious, but who believed that it had worked very well, and in an exceedingly wholesome manner, as he believed; or, at least in such a manner as not to warrant them in condemning it at once—in either case it was not right to reduce its existence to a shorter term than five years. In fixing that term it was not like granting an irrevocable lease to a tenant of a piece of land, which they could not regain possession of before the expiration of the term. Gentlemen must not think that they would debar Parliament from all interference at any period before 1846 by agreeing to this term, if they should see good cause for such interference. Parliament did not in any way forfeit the right of investigation, or its power of interference. There still remained the opportunity of convincing Parliament that the commission ought to be put an end to. Now, conceiving as he did that this commission was naturally, and by the necessity of the case, determinable, at the will of Parliament, he hoped hon. Gentlemen would not forget that they annually voted the salaries of those commissioners in Parliament, and that it was competent by a single vote to put an end to the commission. It did not appear to him necessary to fix any period for its termination. But if the House was determined, that some fixed period should be made, at the expiration of which the House would pledge itself to take the whole subject of the Poor-laws into its consideration, to determine if any change might be required; or, if any qualification of the law might be necessary, he did say that it was not consistent with the reason- 485 able or the legislative working of the law, that they should reduce the period of its; duration lower than five years. They were paralyzing and weakening the authority of the law, if they gave to this commission the feature of an expiring and moribund body, and gave this measure the appearance of being but transient. They ought at any rate to say, that there should be sufficient time given to the commissioners, and the full power requisite to tin; adequate discharge of their important duties, and not give the impression that they were discountenanced and distrusted by; Parliament. A great, deal had been said by Gentlemen in that House respecting the arbitrary and despotic power of these commissioners; that was insisted on as a reason why the House should confine their power to so short a time as one year. He must deny that the commission did at all deserve the appellation of "despotic" or "arbitrary." The powers of the commissioners were large, because their; duties were serious and comprehensive I But the question for the House to decide upon was, were those powers more I than sufficient for the duties which they imposed on the commissioners to; discharge? When Gentlemen talked about "arbitrary" powers, he understood by that word something that was subject to no legal or other limit. He asked Gentlemen to say if the power of the commissioners was so unlimited? Why every part of the power of the commissioners was derived from the Act of 1832, and one or two less important acts since passed, Their power under every one of these acts was subject to revision by the Court of Queen's Bench by the processes known to the law. Not only that was the case, but every decision of the Poor-law Commissioners was liable to be disallowed by the Queen in Council. Not only did these legal securities exist, but let them look at the moral restraints under which the commissioners exercised these powers. All their acts were necessarily public; open to the most rigid criticism—open to a criticism which to say the least of it was severe and searching, not to say acrimonious. Then every one of the powers of the commissioners was of a severe and restrictive character; every one of their powers was liable to bring them into collision with persons of activity and station, and to create them enmity in all quarters. And, moreover, in the event of miscon- 486 duct on their part, there was no authority in the state which could hope to find so little favour. If Gentlemen considered these things, and would only confine their attention to the real nature of the case, and to the legal and moral restraints under which the powers of the commissioners existed, he thought they would see that they were not deserving of the appellation of "arbitrary and despotic." If the powers of the commissioners were arbitrary, he should like to know what Gentlemen would say of the powers of justices of the peace, to construe upwards of a hundred different Acts of Parliament, and to the construction they put on them being looked on in the most indulgent manner in the courts of law. But the House would recollect, that if they destroyed the commission, they must give either to justices of the peace, or to guardians, or to the Secretary of State, if they pleased, the power of making these subordinate regulations which now vested in the Poor-law commissioners. That power was requisite for carrying out the law. Under the old Poor-law the same power was exercised by a vast variety of inconsistent authorities, without the public having any power to check their abuses. He would put it to the House whether there was not a vast security in the commission for the avoidance of everything that was Mischievous, and for the enforcement of the real and true intent of this important law. He did say that the House would not be doing justice to its own intentions with respect to the power of the commissioners, if it did not continue the commission, and the law under circumstances favourable to their action, and if it consented to diminish the duration of the commission to any period less than five years. If the House acquiesced in any shorter term, the effect of it would be to paralyze the authority of the commission for good purposes much more than for evil purposes. The effect would be to create in the public mind an impression that these commissioners had not the confidence of Parliament; and any portion of those subordinate authorities who were now placed under their direction, bad only to run the duration of their own life against that of the commission in order to contend successfully against its authority.
Mr. Hodgson Hinde
confessed that he never was more surprised in his life than he was at what had just fallen from the 487 hon. Member opposite; and, knowing the hon. Member's powers of arguing, the only conclusion he could come to was, either that the hon. Member had not read the Poor-law Bill, or that he had no knowledge of the practical working of it. The hon. Member denied that the powers of these commissioners were "arbitrary and despotic." On what ground was it that he founded that denial? He said that their acts were subject to the control of the Court of Queen's Bench. He should like much that that hon. Member would quote to the House any case in which it was possible to make these commissioners subject to that authority. The hon. Member also said that none of their orders became operative unless they were allowed by the Queen in Council. A very superficial knowledge of the proceedings of the Poor-law commissioners would convince the House that the ingenuity of the commissioners had very much exceeded that of the hon. Member. They had found out a way of setting aside the Queen and Council altogether. They had taken care that their rules should not come under the title of "general order" at all, and had yet applied them to every union. He begged also to draw attention to another fallacy of the hon. Member's speech relative to the great and arbitrary powers vested in justices of the Peace. He was not there to dispute with the hon. Member whether the powers of justices of the peace were arbitrary or not; but could not the hon. Gentleman draw a distinction between arbitrary powers of administering; laws, and arbitrary powers of making laws? There were many faults under the old system of the Poor-laws. The law was frequently violated; but still the functionaries under the old law might have been called to account for such violation. He was not there to defend the old law. He had voted against the second reading of this bill; but if it had been thrown out then, it was a perfect fallacy to suppose that they could have fallen back on the old law. He felt perfectly sure, that had it not been for the general impression, that by rejecting that bill on the second reading, they would have induced a return to the old system, they would have had a very different division on that occasion.
§ Mr. Wakley
had listened with the greatest astonishment to the speech made by the hon. Gentleman, the Member for London. 488 That hon. Gentleman certainly could not be classed by the noble Lord among the mischievous demagogues of the metropolis. He really was at a loss in what class to place the hon. Gentleman. He was astonished at his speech. The hon. Gentleman was an advocate for the continuance of the commission for five years; but had the hon. Gentleman adduced one single argument to show that any benefit would arise to the country from that continuance? He had gone into general reasoning in the abstract, but where were the particular instances adduced to illustrate his theory, and show that the commission had worked well, or that it was likely to work well for the next five years? When the commission was established, it was understood that the new law was to create a new order of things. The law had been in existence ever since 1834, they were now in the year 1841, the commission had been created to insure uniformity, because the decisions of magistrates had been as checkered and various as they had been repugnant to common sense and the principles of humanity. But what had the commission done? Where were the general rules applicable to all unions? Was there a single one? No. As far as he could learn, not one general rule had been published applicable to all Poor-law unions. But the Poor-law commissioners had been at work; they had done something (plenty of mischief) he had heard, they had incorporated 13,000 parishes—how many more remained?—700. Now, trying the question by the rule of three;—if in six years they could incorporate 13,000 parishes, would it take five years more to incorporate 700? Why in the six years had they not incorporated the remaining 700? There might have been obstacles. Some had arisen, it was said, in the metropolis; all the metropolitan parishes had not been incorporated, thanks to the mischievous demagogues. He had often had reason to regret that no place existed in that House in which a Member, unconnected with either party, could sit quietly as a neutral. He had often felt great inconvenience from the absence of such a place. He for one had no longing desire to associate himself with noble Lords, and no doubt noble Lords had no wish to associate with him. He could assure noble Lords, that whatever contempt they might entertain for him, however they might doubt the state- 489 ments made by him, and discredit what he advanced in that House, he could, without any ill humour, sincerely return the compliment. It was most unfair of the noble Lord in the observations which he had made in the House to throw out any insinuation against the veracity of a person who, in point of family, was the noble Lord's inferior—a man who held a seat in that House, unpurchased by family influence and family intrigue. By such conduct as that the noble Lord had not shown disrespect to him, but to those who sent him there, and proved that he had yet a lesson to learn in what constituted true liberty. True it was that his family had not cost so much to the nation as that of some, who, if their weight in that House were in proportion to the weight of public metal which had found its way into their pockets, would most surely be entitled to great respect. It was neither consistent nor manly, in the noble Lord to throw out insinuations against an individual who had been the architect of his own fortune. He hoped, however, that the majority of hon. Members would be disposed to try him by his conduct in that House. Which of his statements, let him ask, had been refuted? The noble Lord asked, had they been substantiated? He said yes, by remaining uncontradicted. There were enough concerned in contradicting them to have refuted them, if they had been untrue. In making his statements he had kept within bounds. He had not made half the representations which it was in his power to make. He could securely say that he had made no statement for the purpose of obtaining a miserable and grovelling popularity. Any attempt of the kind he was sure would meet with an effectual check in that House. What he had stated that night had an immediate bearing on the continuance of the commission. For the accomplishment of what objects was that body created? Was it intended that by exercise of their functions the poor were to be benefited, or were they to be coerced? Were the guardians created for the exercise of cruelty on the one hand, or liberality on the other? Where was evidence to be found of uniformity of system? No sooner did one hon. Member get up to make a statement of a particular case of cruelty, than up started another hon. Member to state, that no such thing had ever hap- 490 pened in the union of which he was a guardian—in his union all parties were quite delighted with the system. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Sheffield, had given an account of what passed in his union, and from his statement and that of other hon. Gentlemen it might be presumed by the House and country that an uniform system prevailed. He held in his hand a list of "amended workhouse rules," dated August, 1840, in which he found special reference to the matters under discussion at the present moment. He would read the part relating to the power of medical officers with respect to making arrangements for the sick. One hon. Member had stated that the medical officer had power to order anything he pleased for a pauper for a week. What said the rules? Were the commissioners to be tried by their own rules, or by the statements of guardians: in the seventeenth rule he found.The paupers of the respective sexes shall be dieted with the food, and in the manner described in the dietary table hereunto annexed, marked B, and in no other manner.Then came a proviso—Provided, however, that the medical officer may direct in writing such diet for any individual pauper as he shall deem necessary; and the master shall report such direction to the board of guardians, who shall sanction, alter, or disallow the same at their discretion.[Hear, hear.] Very well—hear, hear. Now observe, a medical practitioner had a patient under his care, afflicted with some exhausting fever or abscess, day by day draining his strength, and threatening his life; the most imminent danger would be incurred by delay. Under these circumstances the surgeon orders port wine—as would be done in the case of criminals—mutton and rich broths, jelly; could the master of the workhouse keep these things? No such thing, he could not. Here was the evidence of the master of the Basford Union:—Mr. Johnson, governor of the Basford workhouse, was then called by the magistrates, and deposed, that the board of guardians had made an order that no wine, ale, beer or stimulents should be given without the sanction of the board.This was on their own bonk, it was not denied; "and that the auditor" acting, be it observed, under the immediate authority of the commissioners— 491Had told him that if any wine, spirit, or liquor, were given without the previous sanction of the board, the charge would not be allowed in his accounts.'Was not that an answer? What he complained of was, that the law was whatever the commissioners pleased to make it; for the guardians were entirely under their authority. If they were not satisfied with that, let them look at the interference of the commissioners with regard to diet proved by the 17th rule of the work to which he had already directed their attention. In this rule he found the following:—Provided also, that if the medical officer shall at any time certify, that he deems a temporary change in the diet essential to the health of the paupers, the guardians shall cause a copy of such certificate to be entered on the minutes of their proceedings, and shall be empowered forthwith to order by a resolution the said diet to be temporarily changed, according to the recommendation of their medical officer, and shall forthwith transmit a copy of such certificate and resolution to the Poor-law Commissioners, for their approval.That was the second provision; but he would entreat the attention of the House to the provision in the first, to which no answer had been given—namely, that the recommendation of the medical officer could not be carried into effect until it had been laid before the board of guardians. ["No, no."] He spoke only of what was laid down in their own printed rules. He would read them the evidence of a surgeon with reference to a man who had died from exhaustion—in short, from starvation. He stated—I should have given him spiced port wine but that I had no power to do so, because there was an order of the board which precluded me.The effect of that order was, that if a man were taken ill on a Tuesday, the surgeon had no power to administer these necessaries until the board authorised him on the following Tuesday. He was prepared to contend that this was in strict conformity with the resolutions of the commissioners which he had quoted. ["No, no."] The hon. Gentleman shook his head, but he held in his hand the printed rule. What followed? Referring to the minute book, he found that wine was prohibited without special order—in several cases it had been refused. Seeing, then, what had been the practice of the 492 commissioners—seeing the confusion to which the present system had given rise—that it had produced disorder in the place of uniformity—for what purpose were these commissioners to be fastened on the country for five years longer? The people looked to that House, and not to the Poor-law commissioners. He besought them, then, not to leave this question to the triumvirate, but to undertake it themselves. How could they expect justice to be done if they shrank from their duty? They were not treating the question in a manly and consistent spirit. If they were really desirous of establishing an uniform law, let them set down that law in their own hands, let them set it down in the statute-book, where it might be understood and administered by the judges of the land. The present bill went on a mean pettifogging system, unworthy for a great country to receive, and unbecoming a great assembly to impose. If they knew what should be done, why not make a law themselves in conformity with that knowledge? If they—658 men of all states and occupations—necessarily well acquainted with the people, did not possess sufficient information to enable them to come to a decision on this question, how could they expect the commissioners to possess the knowledge of which they confessed themselves deficient? Under these circumstances it was their duty to make the duration of this commission as short as possible, so as not to leave in the undisturbed possession of power an irresponsible body, whose previous conduct had given nothing but dissatisfaction to the country.
§ Mr. Hawes
said, that having from the commencement given his most earnest support to the Poor Law Bill, and having since attentively watched its operation, no fear of odium would induce him to swerve from the course to the justice of which all his experience gave increased weight. He entirely concurred in the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for the city of London. He must say that those Gentlemen who had testified their disapprobation of the principle of the bill by voting against the second reading had failed to shew what they proposed to substitute in its stead. Mr. Canning had declared that, looking at the extent and complica- 493 tion of interests which surrounded a poor-law, no Government could be held culpable for leaving the subject untouched, hi 1830, not long before the introduction of the Poor Law Bill, a noble Lord (then Mr. Baring) declared that he saw no means of coping with the increasing demoralization resulting from the existing system of poor-laws. The question of economy was the least important part of the amendment of the poor-laws; the most important part of the bill was that which created a control over the administration of relief, not indeed with reference to any saving effected in the relief to the paupers themselves, but with reference to those who used to live upon the fund intended for the relief of pauperism, The great saving that had been effected arose not from any contracting of the comforts of the poor, but from putting down jobbing, and diverting the administration of the poor-law fund from its legitimate purposes by a mass of interested persons. He knew from experience that the strongest testimony had been borne to the benefit conferred by the new poor-law, by persons connected with distilleries and breweries, who stated that a large saving had accrued to the country, which saving they measured by the losses they had sustained. The hon. Member for Finsbury had described the workhouses as gaols, and had called the workhouse test a torture. He knew what the workhouses were under the old and under the present system, and he declared solemnly that the old workhouses might justly be called places of torture. The aged and the young, the vicious and the virtuous, wore huddled together without order or classification, and that was the system to which some hon. Members seemed anxious to return. Well, perhaps, hon. Gentlemen would not wish to go back to the old law, but then they proposed to demolish the only system that could at all wrestle with the evils of the old system. When he had gone home the other evening, after the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Finsbury, he remembered having on one occasion passed the account of a relieving officer, and the circumstance of that case appeared to him an answer to the hon. Gentleman. The circumstance to which he alluded occurred at Richmond, in the county of Surrey. The account was passed as a matter of course. No one ever admitted that the medical officer should be restricted, unless reasons ex- 494 isted which induced a belief that be was abusing the trust reposed in him, by perverting that which had been granted for the sake of the poor to unworthy purposes. "Expenses attending the support of Anne Phipps: eight, weeks extra diet at 4s.—1l. 12s.—besides wine, brandy, arrow-root, sago, and isinglas." This was an answer to what had been stated by the hon. Member for Finsbury in reference to medical relief. Was this like cruelty, or in difference, or starvation, or would such advantages have been obtained under the old system? He would come to that which, in his opinion, was the great justification of the new law—namely, that it provided public responsible officers, and because the acts of these officers could be identified with the acts of the Government. A degree of intense interest attached to the administration of the Poor-law, compared to the interest that it excited when its administration was scattered among many thousands of irresponsible persons. The ground on which he defended the Poor-law commission was this, that for the first time the administration of an enormous fund, amounting to between five and six millions, was placed in the hands of responsible officers; and from the moment it was placed under the control of persons responsible to Parliament, it had been cleared of the abuses of the large number of persons who had an interest in the old system, and lived upon it. Under the old system there were 14,000 or 15,000 independent bodies with whom the House had no means of dealing, and what was the result? The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had read a most striking statement to show that increase of relief caused increase of distress; and in one particular parish, such had been the effect of an increase of poor-rate, that they had swallowed up the whole rent of the parish, causing, of course, general destitution. The hon. Member for Finsbury had stated that no practical benefit had been derived from the new Poor-law. Was there no improvement in the condition of the people? Was there nothing in the attention now given to the education of the people? Was there nothing in the attention now given to the dwellings and the sanatory state of the poor; matters that had never been meddled with until the administration of relief was entrusted to responsible officers. He believed, for his own part, that under the new Poor- 495 law, wages had risen, and that more attention was given to the moral and physical condition of the poor, than at any former period of history. It was stated that in Scotland, where the administration of relief was in irresponsible hands, the system worked well. Would any hon. Member venture to take credit for the state of the poor in Scotland? He had been over the greater part of the capital of Scotland, in company with a distinguished physician, and he declared that he had never met such a mass of misery and distress. In fact Scotland was fast sinking under the consequences of the neglected state of the poor, and there was fast spreading a demand for something similar to the amended Poor-law in England. With respect to medical relief, he contended that in all cases of emergency there was a direct power to order relief. By the 54th section of the act, he found that a justice of the peace even was empowered to give an order for medical relief in cases of sudden and severe illness. Did the same facilities exist under the old law? No. The system of medical relief under the old law was the most opprobrious part of it. A great deal had been said about the effect of the new law in forcing families into the workhouse. Were the gentlemen who made these statements aware of the extent to which outdoor relief was at present granted? Why, four-fifths, in point of value, of the relief given was out-door relief. If gentlemen wished the proportion greater, let them abolish workhouses altogether. At present the number of in-door paupers was 126,590, while the number of out-door paupers was 818,632. There was one other fact of the new Poor-law he wished to call the attention of the House to. He understood that those hon. Gentlemen who disapproved of the new Poor-law were anxious to revert to an improved system, founded upon the old law. Those hon. Gentlemen had not stated what this improved system was to be, but he must say that he could see no security for the continuance of any system unless there was some superintending control. He knew that under the old system, individual parishes were well administered; but that depended upon the accident of the persons in office directing relief; and when the officers were altered, the chances were that the system would be altered. Take away the superintending con- 496 trol, and they would take away everything that gave security and stability to the system. He defended this bill entirely upon popular principles. It was the only mode of securing the right administration of an enormous amount of money; and as to the complaints made by the hon. Member for Finsbury, he must say that he had been much amongst those most deeply interested in the good administration of the Poor-law, and he had never heard a single person ascribe to the operation of the new Poor-law the harshness of which the hon. Member for Finsbury had spoken. If that hon. Member had read carefully the accounts of the operation of the old system, and those of the present system, he would no longer doubt the benefit of the change that had taken place. What popularity or unpopularity might attach to this question had nothing to do with him. He did not hold, and he did not wish to hold a seat in that House upon any such tenure. If he deemed a measure one which he could defend upon principle, and for the vindication of which he could refer to its effects, he trusted that as long as he had a seat in that House he should on all occasions take an independent course, and from that course, cost what it would, no consideration of popularity or unpopularity should induce him to depart.
§ Mr. T. S. Duncombe
said, that his hon. Friend who had just sat down said that he defended the large, and he must add, despotic power of the Poor-law commissioners, on popular grounds. Now he, if he had his will, would not allow these commissioners to hold their office for one day longer than by the existing law they were entitled to do; and that upon popular grounds, also, as he believed. He believed that if there was any one principle more popular with Englishmen than another, it was that of self-government, and this was a principle which many hon. Gentlemen in this House would find too strong for them when they came to a general election. He had listened with great attention to the speeches of the hon. Members for London and Lambeth, but he must say that he had not heard a single word fall from either of them to induce him to give his support to the continuance of this commission for five years. If the speeches of his hon. Friends went to anything, they went to this—that it was impossible that this law could ever be carried out without the assistance of a central board. The 497 question then was this; commission, or no commission; and if there was to be a commission, it must not be for five years, or any limited period, but in perpetuity. Then why had not the noble Lord at once said, candidly, that five years would not be sufficient? Why had he not called for a perpetual commission, without which his enactment could not be carried out. Why the commissioners said as much themselves, in their report for last year, which was drawn up in language so unpretending, so modest, and withal so complimentary to the legislature of this country, that he could not help reading to the House a few passages from it:—The hon. Member read the following passage from the Poor-law Commissioners' report for 1839.It is not for us to justify the determination of Parliament, in devolving upon the Poor-law Commissioners a power of subordinate-legislation. We may, however, venture to remark, that if such justification were needed, it might easily be found. The Parliament of this vast empire, having not merely the affairs of Great Britain and Ireland, but also of the colonies, and the dominions of the East India Company to attend to, is occupied with the establishment of general legislative rules, and cannot afford time for entering into the minute details of parochial regulation."…The Poor-law Commissioners then told the people of England, that they were unworthy of the regard of this House; that it had no time to attend to them; that its business was, to vote charters for the East-India Companies, and pensions for their generals, but they were not to occupy their time with the affairs of their poor fellow-countrymen. The hon. Member for London declared, that the powers of these commissioners were not of an arbitrary character; but, upon this point, what said the commissioners themselves? They said,There is, moreover, in this country, another advantage in the interposition of an authority between Parliament and the people,So that these commissioners, in fact, constituted a fourth estate; they were to be something between this House, which ought to be the reflex of the public mind, and the people; but he maintained, that the power which had been reposed in the hands of the representatives by the people, could not be delegated by them to others. Again the commissioners spoke as follows, in a strain by no means complimentary to this House:—The style for the composition of Acts of Parliament, which has been consecrated by 498 usage, renders them hardly intelligible to persons who have not received a professional education, or who have not, by frequent study, become familiar with their peculiar language.''Being so satisfied of the inefficiency of Parliament, and of their own great skill, they assumed to be the interpreters of the wishes and meaning of Parliament. They saidHence it is convenient that some competent authority should expound the intentions of the Legislature to the public."…But how had the commissioners acquitted themselves in this matter? Was there nothing but perspicuity in their own Act? Why there were some clauses in this measure which they had drawn up, which he undertook to say his learned Friends below him would find it difficult to explain, and the commissioners who would have to expound them would, no doubt, put one construction upon them at one time, and another at another. But why, he would ask, should there be commissioners to expound this law only; why not a commission to superintend the working of every other important measure? The Municipal Reform Act, for instance, which had already given rise to so much doubt and litigation; why was there not a commission of three lord mayors to expound that measure? For his own part, he really thought that the Poor-law Act would work much more satisfactorily without this commission than with it. Let the matter be left to the good sense of the guardians they were generally gentlemen of standing and experience in the counties or districts, and he could not believe that they were such ideots as not to be able to understand, and carry into effect, a measure of this kind. He would ask, for instance, did the House believe, that the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, or the hon. Member for Halifax, or any other Gentleman who had addressed the House this evening, was so ignorant on this subject as to require the assistance of the central commissioners? He believed that it was the wish of the gentlemen of England to administer this law beneficently and humanely, and that whenever the commissioners interfered, it was on the side of strictness and severity. The hon. Member for Lambeth had quarrelled with his hon. Friend and Colleague, because he had called the workhouses places of torture. He, however, would still maintain that they were so. The House had already heard complaints of the Richmond Union; he 499 would now beg to refer them to another case, which came from Richmond, in Yorkshire, He held the case in his hand, and the particulars were as follows:—Thomas Stephens, the master of Richmond workhouse, was charged before the magistrates by Sarah Price with having assaulted and ill-used her. The clerk of the Union attended the summons, and contended that the defendant was justified in what he had done, by the rules of the commissioners, and the orders of the board of guardians. He (Mr. Duncombe) would not read the particulars of the charge, but he would read the opinion expressed upon it by the magistrate, at the conclusion of the inquiry, which extended to two days. The magistrate fined the defendant 20s., and, in doing so, made the following observations:—I cannot refrain from expressing my opinion, that the defendant has not conducted himself in such a manner as he ought to have done; he ought riot to visit the rooms of the female inmates after they hate retired for the night, that being the especial duty of the matron. Nor ought he to have used the indelicate threat of taking the complainant, naked as she was, down to the cell below. Neither should he have put her into that cell, or stopped Or altered her diet without an order warranting him in so doing; nor ought he to have beaten the children, particularly the child at the breast of the complainant, in the way he was described repeatedly to have done.Now, would any one who heard these observations, say, that places where such proceedings went on, were not places of torture? How, he would ask, were they to expect that the poor of England would be content to go themselves to such places, or to send their wives and daughters where such practices as here referred to were permitted? And what satisfaction was it to this poor woman that this person was fined 20s.? He did not believe, that under the old system, anything half so bad had ever taken place; and it was a disgrace to the country that it should ever have been perpetrated. Witness also the case referred to by the hon. Member for Bridgwater. He would ask what was the use of the central board in that case? Dysentery had broken out in the union, and the board of guardians wished to give rice instead of gruel, and they Wrote to the commissioners stating that request. Their application was made in October, and the answer was not received till April; and in the interim fifty persons 500 had fallen victims to the disorder. He did not believe that there was any use at all in this commission; he believed, on the contrary, that the law would work very well without its interference, and that experience showed that where it had worked well the commissioners had interfered the least. With these opinions, he should certainly vote against the continuance of the unconstitutional, the expensive, the arbitrary, and despotic powers of these commissioners for a single hour longer than the present law justified.
§ Mr. Darby
was against voting the continuance of this commission for a certain number of years, until ke knew what the provisions of the bill were to be by which it was to be empowered. If the bill were to be amended in committee, as he hoped it would be, he should have no objection to vote for the period proposed.
Mr. C. Hamilton
said, he should support the continuance of this commission, but for the shortest possible period. He would not be a party to handing over the poor of England to any set of men whatever. As the chairman of a board of guardians, he must say that all the rules of the commissioners were of a stringent and harsh nature, and that there were too many guardians who were willing to give full force and effect to these harsh regulations. He thought it might be necessary that the office of these commissioners should be continued; but he thought also, that their duration in office should be limited to two years at the utmost, in order that Parliament might exercise a proper control over their proceedings. He agreed with the hon. Member for Lambeth, that nothing could be worse than the old system of Poor-law, and that to it they never could or ought to return. But was that any reason why they should adopt the whole scope and force of the measure now offered them? In one material point the New Poor-law had entirely failed to produce the result which was promised from it: namely, the raising of wages and the bettering of the condition of workmen. So far from this having taken place, he maintained that wages had suffered a decrease in consequence of this enactment, and the reason was obvious, that the people, rather than undergo "the test," as the new system was called, would work for any wages they could get. The fact was, that the framers of this enactment thought too much of themselves, and not enough of the poor; the whole bill was "ratepay"—"ratepay" 501 nothing else seemed to be thought of. He did not wish to throw any factious opposition in the way of this bill, but he trusted it would be very materially amended in committee.
Sir G. Strickland
had always looked upon the Poor-law commissioners as a necessary evil, and he hoped that they would not be required much longer. He must say, however, that he was rather disappointed at the result of the seventh year's experience they had had of the working of this measure. He knew that the former law was full of errors, and subject to great abuses, and that it could never under any circumstances be resorted to again. He wished, therefore, to see the present law I made permanent and efficient, but he feared that would not be effected by commissioners; he thought it could only be accomplished by renewed legislation, and increased care and attention on the part of the guardians. In the mean time, he was desirous that the conduct of the commissioners should be brought frequently under the scrutiny of Parliament, and therefore I he would vote for the continuance of the shorter period proposed.
said, that he had listened with great anxiety to what had been said on this question of continuing the commission, for he certainly was entirely without interest or prepossession either one way or the other; and for one, he was as ready to vote against it as in its favour if it was shown to work ill; but really, after listening with all his attention to the different speeches that had been made, he only felt himself more confused on the matter than before. To the two Members for Finsbury he gave his peculiar attention, from the prominent part they had taken on the subject, but from them he certainly had learnt little for while the first Member for Finsbury that had spoken said the law was a sanguinary law which disgraced the statute-book, and which nothing could recommend, the other Member for Finsbury said it was a good law, or one that worked well, and was objectionable only on account of the commissioners. Again, he had attended to the facts or the evidence adduced against the bill, and he heard that while one Member referred every abuse and evil to the board of guardians, the next traced all the mischief to the control to which the board was subject under the commission; and the hon. Member for Aylesbury, who preceded him, while avowing his mistrust of the commission, and entering fully into the jealousy 502 of their power by the board of guardians, complained of the bill because he saw nothing but the interest of the rate-payers who elected the guardians consulted throughout. Now really, amidst these contradictory views and inconsistent arguments, he hardly knew what to conclude from the debate; and not seeing any necessary connection with the cases mentioned, and the existence of the commission, he was obliged to consider what had led to its establishment, and what evils it had been intended to correct; and that involved the principle of the commission and the conduct of the commissioners. Now, with regard to the commissioners, he should be as ready as any man to vote for their dismissal, or to visit them with punishment, if it could be shown that they had been guilty; but really it had not been said that in the discharge of their duty they had been unfaithful or negligent. Did any one say that they had not lent a ready ear to any remonstrance made against their rules? Did any one say that they had protected any negligent or culpable officer under their authority? Had they caused any of the evils that had occurred? [Mr. Wakley "Bridgwater!"] The hon. Member says "Bridgwater." Well, if they were to blame there, he did not stand there as their champion. He could not condemn them unheard, and he supposed that they would give an explanation of the case if required. As the hon. Member for Bridgwater stated the law or the regulation, he thought he was wrong, for he believed guardians had a discretion in cases of disease to change the diet; however, let the present men be dismissed if they had behaved ill, but that would still leave the question of the principle and purpose of the commission untouched, for though it was said that such a commission was unconstitutional, he really hardly knew what that meant. It seemed to him that it was pretty much what any body did not like at any time that they called unconstitutional. For really, men appointed by the Crown, paid by the Commons, whose salaries were voted annually, and whose proceedings were reported to the House every Session, did not seem to him a very dangerous power, and not more so than some of the oldest institutions in the country. But what was the reason for appointing the commission? Why, if he apprehended it rightly, it proceeded upon the experience which they had had of leaving to every different parish in the country the power to deal as it 503 pleased with what was called its own poor, and which showed that there should be some power of appeal, some independent power, that should control and check abuses which might be sanctioned by local authority. Having himself devoted some time to inquire into the operation of the old law, he could state, from what he met with, that there did exist before the new bill passed a very general feeling and opinion that the parochial system had failed, and that the interests of so large a number of fellow-beings as the destitute poor of this country should be the immediate subject of care and cognizance by the State. Many intelligent and benevolent persons, indeed, then thought that there should be a national provision for the poor, and that the interest and well-being of the poor should no longer depend upon the casual parochial authority that might be chosen for the purpose. It was, indeed, the general feeling, that responsible, competent, and independent men should be selected to administer the public relief for the poor. He could not, indeed wonder that this feeling should have prevailed, when he heard of the cases that people in the country were familiar with. Why, what effect would the hon. Member for Finsbury have been able to produce, had he been able to say that he had seen fine able-bodied men standing in the square of a market-place, like cattle in a fold, and placed there to be hired like beasts, at 3d. and 4d. a-day, what more they required to support life being given by the parish? What would the hon. Member have said, had he lately seen paupers brought in after a vestry dinner, at the expense of the parish, and put up to auction, for the vestrymen to bid for while drinking at their table?—a case of which, he was informed, was of monthly occurrence in one parish, and of which they should never have heard but for the inquiry, and which never could recur on account of the commission. Why, in the neighbouring district of the borough he sat for, he was told that the poor used to be farmed by a pauper, and their horrible treatment was what might have been expected; and in the next district to that, the female paupers were found to have been all impregnated by the master of the workhouse, who used thus to conduct himself without control. And these, as everybody knew who had inquired into the matter, were no solitary cases, but only specimens of the vice, cruelty, and cor- 504 ruption which prevailed under the old system. Now he did not say this to prove that the new system was perfect, nor did he charge any of those who did not agree with him with the wish to return to the old system; but he mentioned it to show what might and would occur if there was no superintending power. He then thought that the case had been made out for the interference of the State, and for greater attention being paid by the general Government to the interests of the poor than there had been; and he saw in this commission nothing but the recognition of this principle. He thought then, on this view, that the clause of his hon. Friend did not meet either of the points involved in the question; for if the commissioners were unfit persons, they had been in commission long enough for that to be known, and they ought to be dismissed directly. But if the principle of a superintending power was sound, then he could see no reason for limiting it for two years, and this being at present the only question before the House, he should say nothing further upon it.
Mr. W. Attwood
said, that the advocates of the present system were driven to the necessity of reverting to the worst abuses of the old law for a defence which certainly was not a very high compliment to the present law. All the advantages promised by the supporters of the new system—the improved condition of the poor, and the economical savings to be effected, were now abandoned, and the only argument urged in favour of the present system was a fear of reverting to the evils of the old one. The immediate question, however, just then before the House was as regarded the duration of the commission, and he with others did not think that sufficient reason had been shown for vesting in the commissioners, for so long a period, powers which it was admitted could be abused. No argument had been adduced to show why the House, instead of appointing the commission for five years, should not retain in its own hands a power of revision. The Member for Somerset, who was one of the committee which sat on the question of the Poor-laws, had stated, that many suggestions and recommendations had been made by the committee, none of which had been adopted or acted upon by the commissioners. Now the simple question was, whether, after the many statements of abuses which had been made by hon. Members on both sides of the House, 505 abuses of a frightful nature, and evils of a most alarming kind, from which it was the duty of that House to protect the poor—whether after these statements they would not adopt the only remedy which presented itself, namely, limiting the power of the commissioners? It was argued in the debate, that the House retained the power of controlling the assistant-commissioners when their salaries came to be voted. Then why object to retain a control over the commissioners by shortening the duration of their appointment?
§ Mr. Hutton
was of opinion that the period of the commission should be extended for the purpose of carrying the new Irish Poor law into effect. Of 130 unions in Ireland there were only fifteen at present in operation, and the guardians would for some time require instructions from the commissioners, in order to acquire what was of so much importance—uniformity of action throughout the various boards.
§ Mr. B. Wood
said, he could not vote for the continuance of the commission, if the immense establishment of assistant commissioners was to be still kept up. He thought it was their conduct that made the Poor-law unpopular; and that if the guardians were in direct communication with the commissioners it would be all the better.
§ Mr. Muntz
would like to hear some reason adduced for continuing the power of the commissioners for five years, for it had not yet been shown what benefit would be derived from the continuance of the commission either to the public or the poor. The hon. Member for London indeed said, that a shorter period would lead to discussion and unnecessary excitement, but by urging the same argument it might be proposed to grant the supplies for the five ensuing years, or pass the Mutiny Act for the same period. Until some reason was given he did not well know how he should vote.
§ The committee divided on the question that 1846 stand part of the clause:—Ayes 174; Noes 135; Majority 39.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Barnard, E. G.|
|Acland, T. D.||Bentinck, Lord G.|
|A'Court, Captain||Berkeley, hon. H.|
|Adam, Admiral||Berkeley, hon. C.|
|Alston, R.||Bethell, R.|
|Antrobus, R.||Bewes, T.|
|Baling, rt. hn. F. T.||Blake, W. J.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Botfield, B.|
|Brabazon, Lord||Labouchere, rt. hn. H.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Briscoe, J.I.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Buller, E.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Bulwer, Sir L.||Loch, J.|
|Busfeild, W.||Lushington, rt. hn. S.|
|Campbell, Sir. J.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Cavendish, hon. C.||Marshall, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Marsland, H.|
|Cayley, E. S.||Martin, J.|
|Chalmers, P.||Master, T. W. C.|
|Clay, W.||Melgund, Viscount|
|Clayton, Sir W. R.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Clive, E. B.||Miles, W.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Miles, P. W. S.|
|Compton, H. C.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Craig, W. G.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Cripps, J.||Morgan, O.|
|Dalrymple, Sir A.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Divett, E.||Murray, A.|
|Duff, J.||Muskett, G. A.|
|Duncan, Viscount||Neeld, J.|
|Du Pre, G.||Noel, hon. C. G.|
|Egerton, Lord F.||Norreys, Lord|
|Eliot, Lord||Norreys, Sir D. J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Ord, W.|
|Ellice, E.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Evans, W.||Parker, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Fitzalan, Lord||Patten, J. W.|
|Fitzpatrick, J. W.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Philips, M.|
|Fleming, J.||Philips, G. R.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Pigot, rt. hon. D.|
|Gisborne, T.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Gladstone, W. E.||Price, Sir R.|
|Glynne, Sir S. R.||Pusey, P.|
|Gordon, R.||Rawdon, Col. J. D.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Rice, E. R.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Rich, H.|
|Greene, T.||Rickford, W.|
|Grey, right hon. Sir G.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Grote, G.||Round, C. G.|
|Handley, H.||Rundle, J.|
|Harland, W. C.||Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.|
|Hawes, B.||Salwey, Colonel|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Sanford, E. A.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Seymour, Lord|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Hill, Lord A. M. C.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Hogg, J.W.||Smith, B.|
|Holmes, hn. W. A'C.||Smith, R. V.|
|Horsman, E.||Somers, J. P.|
|Howard, hn. E. G. G.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Howard, F. J.||Sotheron, T. E.|
|Howard, P. H.||Standish, C.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Steuart, R.|
|Howard, hn. C.W.G.||Stuart, W. V.|
|Howick, Viscount||Stock, Mr. Serjeant|
|Hume, J.||Strutt, E.|
|Hutt, W.||Style, Sir C.|
|Hutton, R.||Teignmouth, Lord|
|Jermyn, Earl||Thornely, T.|
|Knight, H. G.||Townley, R. G.|
|Troubridge, Sir E. T.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Tufnell, H.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Tyrell, Sir J. T.||Wood, C.|
|Verney, Sit H.||Wood, G. W.|
|Villiers, hon. C. P.||Wood, Colonel T.|
|Villiers, Viscount||Worsley, Lord|
|Vivian, Major C.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R.H.||Wyse, T.|
|Wall, C. B.||Yates, J. A.|
|Warburton. H.||Young, J.|
|Ward, H. G.|
|Welby, G. E.||TELLERS.|
|White, A.||Stanley, hon. E. J.|
|Wilshere, W.||Maule, hon. F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Gladstone, J. N.|
|Archdall, M.||Gore, O. J. R.|
|Attwood, W.||Grant, Sir A. C.|
|Bailey, J.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Bailey, J. jun.||Guest, Sir John|
|Baillie, Colonel||Halford, H.|
|Bainbridge, E. T.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Hamilton, C. J. B.|
|Bell, M.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Blackstone, W.S.||Hawkes, T.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hector, C. J.|
|Broadley, H.||Henniker, Lord|
|Broadwood, H.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Hindley, C.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Browne, R. D.||Hodgson, F.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Hollond, R.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hope, G. W.|
|Buller, Sir. J. Y.||Hotham, Lord|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Houldsworth, T.|
|Canning, rt. hn. Sir S.||Hurt, F.|
|Cholmondeley, hn. H.||Irton, S.|
|Chute, W. H. W.||Jervis, S.|
|Collins, W.||Johnson, General|
|Courtenay, P.||Jones, J.|
|Crewe, Sir G.||Kemble, H.|
|Darby, G.||Knatchbull, right hon. Sir E.|
|Dashwood, G. H.|
|Dick, Q.||Law, hon. C. E.|
|D'Israeli, B.||Leader, J. T.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Duncombe, T.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Duncombe, hon. W.||Mahon, Viscount|
|Dundas, C, W. D.||Marton, G.|
|Eastnor, Viscount||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Eaton, R. J.||Monypenny, T. G.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Morris, D.|
|Ellis, W.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Packe, C. W.|
|Feilden, W.||Palmer, R.|
|Fielden, J.||Palmer, G.|
|Fellowes, E.||Parker, R. T.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Pechell, Captain|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Pigot, R.|
|Fleetwood, Sir P. H.||Polhill, F.|
|Forester, hon. G.||Pollen, Sir J. W.|
|Fox, S. L.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Powell. Colonel|
|Praed, W. T.||Trotter, J.|
|Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.||Turner, E.|
|Richards, R.||Turner, W.|
|Rolleston, L.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Round, J.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Rushbrooke, Colonel||Waddington, H. S.|
|Rushout, G.||Walker, R.|
|Sanderson, R.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Scarlett, hon. J. Y.||Wilbraham, hon. B.|
|Scholefield, J.||Williams, W.|
|Sheppard, T.||Wilmot, Sir J. E.|
|Sibthorpe, Colonel||Wodehouse, E.|
|Smith, G. R.||Wood, Colonel|
|Smyth, Sir G. H.||Wood, B.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Wynn, rt. hn. C. W.|
|Spry, Sir S. T.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Strickland, Sir G||Easthope, J.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Wakley, T.|
§ Mr. H. Hinde moved, that after the words, "the year 1846," the words "and no longer" should be inserted.
objected to the amendment, as being an attempt on the part of the House to prevent any future House of Commons from continuing the duration of the commission.
would withdraw the amendment, although he could produce precedents of similar motions. He was of opinion that if the words were added to the clause, the people would have more confidence in the law.
§ Viscount Howick
said, he wished to correct a misstatement which had been made by several hon. Members that night, to the effect, that in 1834 the duration of the commission was recommended to be for five years and no longer, whereas it was the decided opinion of the commission, at the head of which was the Bishop of London, that the commission should be of a permanent character, and the bill, as introduced by the Government at first, was to the came effect. When it was agreed that the commission should terminate at the expiration of five years, it was never contemplated that it should cease at that period, but merely that the House should then have an opportunity of reconsidering the question.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, that it was his intention to move on a future day (Friday) the reduction of the salary of the Poor-law commissioners from 2,000l. to 1,000l. per annum, and the assistant commissioners from 700l. to 300l per annum. He thought three guineas a day was extravagant pay for their travelling expenses, and he should accordingly move, that it should be reduced to one guinea per day.
§ On the question that the clause as amended stand part of the bill, the committee again divided:—Ayes. 163; Noes 49; Majority 114.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Heathcote, Sir W|
|A'Court, Captain||Hill, Lord A. M. C|
|Adam, Admiral||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Alston, R.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Antrobus, E,||Holmes, hn. W.|
|Bailey, J.||Hope, hon. C.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Hope, G. W.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Horsham, E.|
|Basset, J.||Howard,hon. E. G. G.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Howard, F. J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H.||Howard, P. H.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Bewes, T.||Howard,hon. C. W.G|
|Blake, W.||Howick, Viscount|
|Botfield, B.||Hume, J.|
|Brabazon, Lord||Hutt, W.|
|Bramston, T. W||Hutton, R.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Bruges, W. H. L.||Labouchere, rt, hn. H.|
|Buller, E.||Langdale, hon. C.|
|Busfeild, W.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Canning, rt. hn. Sir S.||Loch, J.|
|Cavendish, hon. C.||Lushington, rt. hn. S.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Chalmers, P.||Marshall, W.|
|Cholmondeley, hn. H.||Marsland, H.|
|Clay, W.||Martin, J.|
|Clayton, Sir W. R.||Melgund, Viscount|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Miles, W.|
|Compton, H. C.||Miles, P.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Craig, W. G.||Mordaunt, Sir J.|
|Darby, G.||Morgan, Octavius|
|Divett, E.||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Duff, J.||Murray, A.|
|Duncan, Viscount||Muskett, G. A.|
|Dundas, C. W. D.||Neeld, J.|
|Du Pre, G.||Noel. hon. C. G.|
|Eliot, Lord||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Packe, C. W.|
|Evans, W.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Ewart, W.||Parker, J.|
|Fellowes, E.||Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.|
|Filmer, Sir E.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Fitzalan, Lord||Philips, M.|
|Pitzroy, Lord C.||Philips, G. R.|
|Fleming, J.||Pigot, rt. hon. D.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Gisborne, T.||Praed, W. T.|
|Gordon, R.||Price, Sir R.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Pusey, P.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Greene, T.||Rawdon, Col. J. D.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Rice E. R.|
|Grote, G.||Richards, R.|
|Handley, H.||Rickford, W.|
|Hawes, B.||Rotteston, L.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Hawkins, J. H.||Round, C. G.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Rundle, J.|
|Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.||Villiers, Lord Viset.|
|Salwey, Colonel||Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R.H.|
|Sanford, E. A.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Seymour, Lord||Warburton, H.|
|Shaw, rt. hon. F.||Ward, H. G.|
|Sheil, rt. hn. R. L.||White, A.|
|Slaney, R. A.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Smith, R. V.||Wilbraham, hon. B.|
|Somerset, Lord G||Wilshere, W.|
|Sotheron, T. E.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Stanley, E.||Winnington, H. J.|
|Stock, Mr. Serjeant||Wood, C.|
|Strutt, E.||Wood, Colonel|
|Style, Sir C.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Wood, G. W.|
|Teignmouth, Lord||Worsley, Lord|
|Thorneley, T.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Townley, R. G.||Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.|
|Troubridge, Sir E. T.||Yates, J. A.|
|Tufnell, H.||Young, J.|
|Tyrell, Sir J. T.||TELLERS.|
|Verney, Sir H.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Villiers, hon. C. P.||Maule, F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Attwood, W.||Hodgson, R.|
|Bailey, J.||Hollond, R.|
|Blackstone, W, S.||Irton, S.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Johnson, G,|
|Brotherton, J.||Kemble, H.|
|Collins, W.||Leader, J. T.|
|Copeland, Alderman||Lowther, J. H.|
|Crewe, Sir G||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|D'Israeli, B||Monypenny, T. G.|
|Duncombe, T.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Duncome, hon. W.||Parker, R. T.|
|Easthope, J.||Pechell, Captain|
|Eastnor, Viscount||Polhill, F.|
|Eaton, R. J||Rushbrooke, Colonel|
|Ellis, W.||Sanderson, R.|
|Evans, Sir De Lacy||Scarlett, hon. J. Y.|
|Feilden, W.||Scholefield, J.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Grimsditch, T.||Smyth, Sir G. H.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Trotter, J.|
|Hamilton, C, J. B.||Turner, W.|
|Hawkes, T.||Walker, R.|
|Hector, C. J.||Williams, W.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Wakley, Mr.|
|Hindley, C.||Fielden, J.|
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.