§ Mr. S. Crawford
rose and said, that he had to solicit the kind indulgence of the House, while he endeavoured to bring before them the important subject which he proposed to submit to their consderation—a subject which he was aware might, in the opinion of the House and of the country, have fallen into abler hands than his. No other hon. Member, however, having given notice on the same subject, he felt it his duty to come forward, and if he failed in his advocacy of that great cause the consequences were not his fault, but that of his constituents, in not having sent a more worthy representative to the House. In so important a subject as this he was fully aware how necessary it was to avoid all party recriminations, and he, therefore, wished to cast no imputation on Gentlemen on either side of the House who had supported the principle of the bill, but only to call on them to consider whether the further extension of it ought not in some degree to be suspended during a period of such great distress, and while the further consideration of it was pending. The right hon. Baronet opposite and the Government had asked for time to consider all the provisions of the Poor-law Act, and he thought he was therefore entitled to assume that the measure might have its defects, and if there were those defects it must be admitted that they might operate disadvantageously on the poor during the time when they would be under consideration. For that reason, and with a view of preventing that evil, it was, that he now claimed from the House a consideration of the propriety of suspending the powers of the commissioners to a certain extent during the time while this vote for the temporary renewal of the commission would take effect. By the Poor-law Bill the commissioners were intrusted with absolute powers over the boards of guar- 926 dians— absolute in every respect, with the exception that they could not interfere with the actual relief to be given to individuals. But they had absolute power as to the formation of unions; they had a right to form as many unions as they might think fit. By the 15th section of the act absolute power was given to the Poor-low Commissioners to make orders for the regulation of the boards of guardians; and by the 52d section there were particular powers as regarded the administration of out-door relief. The words of that section were—That from and after the passing of the act it should be lawful for the commissioners, by such rules, orders, and regulations, as they might think fit to issue, to declare to what extent, and to what purpose, relief to able-bodied paupers should be administered throughout the kingdom, and in what proportions, to what persons and classes of persons, at what time and in what place and manner, such outdoor relief should be afforded.Now, he maintained, that it was contemplated by that order, that out-door relief was to be continued, and he maintained that the commissioners had exceeded their powers by their order, in which they took away the power of affording out-door relief. He submitted to the House that that order was not consistent with the act. The words of that order were," that every able-bodied pauper be relieved in the workhouse, and such portions of the families of such able-bodied paupers as may be resident with such able-bodied paupers and not in employment and the wives of such able-bodied paupers, if resident with them." Now, he maintained that the words of this order were not in accordance with the powers of the commissioners as laid down in the act, and he contended that it was the duty of the House to limit the exercise of a power which in a period of such distress might be made the medium of the most grievous cruelty and oppression. The principle that seemed to have dictated that order was, that poverty arises from profligacy, and, therefore, that poverty ought to be subjected to punishment. But he maintained that in the present circumstances of the country, there were a great many most honest and industrious persons in the community who were subjected to distress, not from the consequences of their own fault under such circumstances the cases of persons so situated ought to be taken into consi- 927 deration, and Parliament ought to interpose to stop the execution of the order. Under the existing system five great evils were prevalent:—first, the separation of families; secondly, arbitrary punishment and too severe discipline; thirdly, harshness to old age; fourthly, bad food; fifthly, difficulty of obtaining admission into the workhouse; and sixthly, the mixture of the virtuous with the profligate. The great principle seemed to be to surround the workhouse by terrors, and these were the terrors by which it was surrounded; terrors which too often prevented honest and industrious members of the community from availing themselves of the relief afforded by the Legislature to the poor. With the permission of the House, he would refer to some facts which he had collected, and which he had classed under these several heads. They were collected from different unions in which all those points which he had mentioned were productive of great oppression. He would first apply himself to the subject of the separation of man and wife. He was willing, in the first instance, to admit that when large bodies of persons were congregated together, it was difficult in all cases to avoid separation of families; but surely the principle could not be justified when applied to the separation of mother and child under circumstances of great hardship, and still more when carried to the extent of separating a mother from her sucking child. Those instances he would state, together with the others which he had collected, and which he had classified under the six heads which he had already mentioned. Of separation of families even to the extent of mother and sucking infant, there was an instance at Bath. A letter of Mr. F. Watts, a chaplain at Bath to The Times, September, 1840, stated,—About a fortnight ago a woman came out of the house under the following circumstances:—While she was out in the yard the porter went, unseen by her, into the ward and snatched up her baby, only eight months old, and carried it away. She did not discover the robbery until the porter had arrived at the other side of the yard door, where the unfeeling monster stood ridiculing the anguish of the parent, whose cries were very nearly making her for hours an inmate of the black-hole. The poor creature nothing able to endure the thoughts of her infant crying and moaning all the night through, immediately left the house for the purpose of weaning it by degrees.928 Of excessive punishment and discipline there was an instance at Eton, where a mother was confined for thirty-two hours for visiting a sick child; also, at Bath there was the case of Rebecca Collett, punished in a- similar manner for an offence of a like nature. At Hoo the flogging of girls of fifteen years of age by the master, with an indecent exposure of their persons, was already well known. At Bath the Rev. C. F. Watts, who made the complaint with regard to Rebecca Collett, was dismissed; and at Eton the hon. and rev. S. G. Osborne was punished by a vote of censure. Of harsh treatment of old people there was a case at Crediton workhouse with reference to the two old men Lock and Dart. After the death of these men an enquiry was made by the guardians, who were disgusted with a futile inquiry made by the assistant-commissioner. The following was the evidence of one of the witnesses:—Packer stated,I have seen Dart washed in cold water several times. I have seen him taken from his room across the court to the washhouse, and washed naked with a mop, James Tremlett took him, and he was hardly able to walk. I have seen Robert Tucker and Tremlett wash him with a mop and cold water. I was present at the time, and Mr. Leach (the master of the workhouse) was there. I have seen Mr. Leach present when he was washed with cold water. It was after Christmas. It turned me so much, that I hoped I should never come to the pass of that poor fellow. I have seen Pius draw a bucket of cold water from the cock and throw it right down over Dart, and there was Tucker washing him down with a mop all over his body and legs. Pitts said, ' Will one bucket do?' and Tucker answered, ' Heave five over him, and I'll make a soager of him.' Pitts kept heaving cold water over him; Dart said, ' Now you are a mind to kill me.' Dart's senses were almost gone; it was enough to kill any man in his perfect health. Tremlett was there twice when he was washed with cold water; Leach was there when the five buckets were thrown over him, and the answer Leach made was, Not too ill usage,' and he went away. I said, ' He can't stand this long,' and the answer Leach made was, that it would be no sin to give him laudanum to put him to sleep out of the way.In Uxbridge workhouse an old man, William Wye, seventy years of age, severely afflicted with sciatica, formerly a market gardener, was obliged to resort to the workhouse. On his son going to see him a few days afterwards at the union-house at Hillingdon, he found his aged 929 father in a very bad state, complaining greatly of cold and shivering, and the son on inquiry learned that his smallclothes, which just before he entered the workhouse had been lined with flannel at the expense of the clergyman of the parish, as well as his flannel drawers had been taken from him. The son immediately applied to Weekley, the governor of the workhouse, on the subject, because his father, from the nature of his affliction, required warm clothing, and requested that he might be allowed to wear the lined smallclothes instead of the thin ones of the union, or else that he might be allowed to wear his great coat over his union clothes. Weekley, however, refused the application, saying, that as his father had consented to become a pauper, by coming into the union workhouse, he could not be treated better than the other inmates. Of repugnance to enter the workhouse there was a remarkable evidence in the case of William Eaton, a ladies shoemaker, who died from want in March last. He had applied at Kensington union workhouse for out door relief, and had got a small and inadequate supply of food on some occasions, but on the 23d of February an order of admission to the workhouse was given him. He had this order in his possession, yet died of want rather than enter the House. Mr. Madden said—The deceased's case was revised by the board every fortnight, and his ghastly appearance induced both me and the board to advise him to come into the House, thinking it would be a charity to take him in; but he always said, 'No, I thank you.' The jury found a verdict, that the deceased died from exhaustion, gradually produced by a scantiness of nourishment.'In the examination on this case, it appeared that the difficulties imposed on applicants were of the most oppressive nature at the Kensington union-house, partly ascribable to the largeness of the union. Mr. Ryder stated—Mr. Coroner, there have been cases in which persons while waiting have fallen down from exhaustion- During the winter they have frequently waited from eleven in the forenoon until eight and nine o'clock at night, in all the frost and snow, and then some of them have been sent back without relief to the next day. Some of the cases of exhaustion have appeared in the papers.Mr. Mayers stated—If applicants are not in the workhouse by 930 eleven o'clock, they are not admitted to see the board at all.The Coroner—Do you really mean to say, that poor creatures coming from Fulhain, or from Kensal-green on the Harrow-road, to the Workhouse at Kensington, and, miscalculating their strength, take half an hour longer to walk it, if they reached it after eleven o'clock, they would be excluded?Mr. Mayers—I certainly do say so.Another remarkable case of the like nature was that of Elizabeth East. It appeared that this woman died of a slow process of starvation, and although for a length of time suffering the effects of want, she could not reoncile her mind to the workhouse domicile. Edward Holmes, with whom she had lodged some time previously, said, he advised her, a he had often done before, to apply to the workhouse; but she said—Oh, no, no, I'll not go to the workhouse, while I can scrape a few halfpence by selling Congreves.Deceased had nothing to eat that day, nor at any time previous to her death, she having no money, and he not having anything to give her. The jury returned the following verdict:—That the deceased died from exhaustion, consequent on starvation, arising from her not having made application to the parish for relief, and from her refusal to go to the workhouse.Of bad feeding and other discomforts a notable instance was afforded in the Bridge-water workhouse. In evidence taken before the House of Lords the following facts were proved: —In August, 1836, the commissioners' dietary was introduced. The inmates were then generally healthy, according to the return. On the 25th of October the return was, ' Much sickness among the children and old people, The medical officer reported the dietary was producing disease. The committee made a like representation, and that the house was infectious. The guardians answered, that the dietary having been fixed by the commissioners must be abided by, and that whilst there was room fresh applications must be admitted. Notwithstanding numerous deaths, this system was continued from the 25th of October, 1836, to the 21st of April, 1837.Of the use of unwashed linen, there was an instance in the Pewsey workhouse. Facts are detailed in the report of the rev. W. Bleeck of the condition of the paupers 931 from want of clean clothing that were of a most disgraceful character, and this rev. gentleman, for reporting these facts, was first censured by the board of guardians, and afterwards compelled by the assistant-commissioner to resign his situation. For these facts he would refer to the letter of the rev. Gentleman in the Times, dated June 17, 1S40. Of refusal and difficulties of admission there was an instance:—At; an inquest, held some time back, on the body of Hannah Robinson, it appeared that she was paralytic; that her husband was a working man; that he applied to the officers of St. George's, Hanoversquare, to take her into the workhouse, because she was not in safety when left alone, and he could not pay a servant to attend her when he was working. The answer was no; he must also come into the house along with her. This industrious man being able to support himself would not be a burden on the public; he did not go in. His wife was left alone. In her helpless condition her clothes caught fire, and she was burnt to death. The jury added the following remark to their verdict:— IThe jury cannot separate without expressing in the strongest manner their abhorrence of such a system of oppression to the poor, and hope that no similar case will be refused attention on the part of the overseer or relieving officer in future.The coroner was also requested to write to the parochial authorities on the subject. At an inquest on the body of Elizabeth Friry, November, 1840, it appears that after different applications to have her taken to the workhouse, she died from disease, brought on by want. The following was the verdict:—We find that Elizabeth Friry died from fever, brought on by the want of food and sufficient nourishment; and that the jury cannot separate without expressing their disapprobation of the conduct of the relieving officer and of the surgeons in not being more prompt in: their attention to the wants of the deceased.With reference to the mixture of the vicious and the virtuous, the rev. Fowell Watts, formerly chaplain to the Bath union, stated in a letter to The Times, dated: August 20, 1840—I had occasion, not long before my removal, to complain in the chaplain's book of two most improper grown-up girls having been put with the school children, and in three different entries to entreat that they might be re- 932 moved; in one observing, ' for I consider every hour of such intercourse to be fraught with danger to the morals and general principles of the children;' and yet these girls were left among the children about ten days after my first entry.That was the case he had to lay before the House. The result of this system was, that the respectable moral poor would sell their goods, part with their clothes, and keep themselves at the almost extreme degree of starvation, rather than go into the workhouse, while those whose sense of morality was not so strong committed crime in order to obtain support in a gaol. Disease, wretchedness, suicide frequently resulted from the same cause. The spirit of the people was broken down by that feeling of self-degradation which must ensue from being compelled in the workhouse to associate with the most abandoned of every description. Another consequence of this state of things was a disposition to outrage; while the apprehension of disturbance introduced the rural police—a novel species of constabulary, which was itself a degradation to Englishmen—as if the peace of the country could not be maintained as in the days and upon the institutions of Alfred, by the people themselves, without resorting to the aid of a hired police. It would not be denied, that distress prevailed among the people to an unprecedented extent. To whatever cause they might attribute it, the existence of that distress could' not be denied. While Ministers took time to consider the provisions of the new law—while they required time, and he admitted the justice of the demand for the consideration of the Corn-law question, was it not fitting, while they refused to lower the price of provisions, that some steps should be taken at least to relax, during the winter, the inhibitory orders of the Poor-law commissioners? The commissioners, it seemed, were determined to carry those orders into effect, as far as they possibly could. He would take the liberty of reading to the House one or two extracts from their last i report.We have the satisfaction to state to your Lordship that more progress has been made in extending the provisions of the Poor-law Amendment Act to new districts in the year to which our present report relates, than was made in the preceding year.They then stale different manufacturing districts,—the Manchester, Salford, and 933 Charlton unions. Then they go on to say in another place —We have the satisfaction of informing your Lordship that, although last winter was unusually long and severe, the main provision of the prohibitory order (the withholding outdoor relief from the able-bodied in health) was supported, with only a few exceptions, in the unions in which it had for some time been in force, and in the majority of unions to which it had been recently issued; and that even in the unions of the latter class, which were unable to carry it fully into effect, a considerable progress was made towards its observance.Was it not painful that such a declaration should conic from the commissioners, when they reflected on the sufferings of the poor, and the extraordinary means they were compelled to resort to for relief dining the last winter? While such a spirit influenced the commissioners, they could have no disposition to allow a greater licence to the guardians, unless the House interfered to limit, in some degree, the extent of their control. Me would now say a few words with respect to the Irish Poor-law. He had heard the first Lord of the Treasury state the other night his great satisfaction with the reports received from Ireland, and his determination not to interfere to alter the provisions of that measure. It was right that Ministers should not be deceived in the opinion they formed with reference to the Irish Poor-law. It certainly had not come so far into operation as to enable one to say that it would be effective for the relief of the poor. Only a very few unions had yet been formed, and the poor were still scattered to a great extent throughout the country. But he must take the liberty of expressing his opinion that it never could be carried into effect under its present provisions. Its provisions were still worse in many respects than those of the English bill. The English bill left a discretionary power in the hands of the commissioners, with regard to out-door relief; but in the Irish bill they were much more stringent, giving no power to the commissioners, the guardians, or any other authority, under any circumstances to administer one farthing of relief out of the workhouse. A poor man might reside ten miles distant from the union workhouse, he might be sick, in extreme distress, and it might be impossible to remove him to the workhouse; still it would be impossible to administer to him any relief what- 934 ever without its walls. An act so constructed never could come into beneficial operation in such a country as Ireland. There were many instances which he might quote illustrative of the arbitrary and tyrannical mode in which the act was carried into effect. He would content himself with selecting one or two:—In the proceedings of the board of guardians of the North Dublin union, reported in the "Freeman" of the 6th of March, 1841, a complaint was made that a boy named Walter Wheelan was struck on the back of the head with the handle of a hammer, by the master of the workhouse, so that the boy fell down in a faint, senseless. A witness swore, that he saw the boy struck and fall on his back, and that she master desired him (witness) to bring water to throw on the boy's face to revive him. The board ruled it a false statement, because they did not believe that, being struck behind, he would fall on his back; and, on this ground alone, acquitted the master, and ordered the man and the boy to be expelled from the workhouse. Again, in the same day's proceedings, a complaint was made of the unreasonable severity with which a boy had been punished by the schoolmaster. The cat-o'-nine-tails was brought before the board; it is described as a monstrous weapon; the use of it was condemned, and ordered to be discontinued. But it appeared that the mother of the child had remonstrated when she saw the child beaten with it; and what was her punishment? She was put into one of the solitary cells and confined, from eight o'clock in the morning till seven in the evening, and yet no censure was passed against the master either for the punishment of the mother or the boy. In the same day's proceedings, it was moved by one of the guardians, that children of from two to five years old should be allowed to sleep with their mothers. The proposition was rejected l>y a majority of two to one.The mode in which children were treated appeared in the following extract:—We find that for children under two years old, left with their mothers, an allowance was given out of boiled bread and milk twice a day, but the mothers were not allowed to heat it except in the morning and in the evening, unless when the children were in hospital. Children from two to five rose at eight in the morning, but got no breakfast till eleven. In the female ward there were eighty children in twenty-two beds. In another female ward and closet, intended for the accommodation of 100, there were 180 children; there were seven in one bed and six in each of four beds. In one boys' ward, there were 126 boys of from two to five; one pauper woman had the night charge of them all, although several of them had sore heads, sore eyes, itch, and dysentery. The board on this representation ordered one woman to every ten children. No ticks on beds, 935 bare straw, tossed up in the day time, but not brought out to air or dry.There was another case of still grosser character:—Cork Union.—At a meeting of the guardians held on the 20th ult. (the 26th of January, 1841), Mr. Gould drew attention to a disgraceful and demoralizing trade carried on in that house, that of ' procuresses' going in as paupers and mixing with the young females, whom they endeavoured to deprave in mind, and then got them to seek their discharges to become prostitutes. The truth of Mr. Gould's statement was assented to by the other guardians.Was it possible to suppose that any person of proper feeling, however poor, would consent to allow their children to go into a house where they would be exposed to such temptation and compelled to associate with such depraved characters? He hoped the House would pardon him for having intruded such instances upon their attention; he thought, however, it was better to make out his case by a reference to facts than by any attempt at declamation. He asked from hon. Members no sacrifice of their principles or opinions. With those who approved of the principles and operation of the New Poor-law Act he would not at present contend. He was willing that the general discussion should be reserved till the Government brought the subject fully before the House; but this he would say, that under such a statement of facts as he had laid before them, and considering the condition of the people, humanity alone required that the powers of the commissioners should be restrained until the new measure was introduced. He trusted he had made out a case which would have the support of every friend of humanity, and especially of all those who had on different occasions condemned the New Poor-law Act. The hon. Member for Finsbury, perhaps, would endeavour to dissuade him from testing the opinion of the House by means of a division; he must say, however, that in his opinion no question was worthy of being discussed which was not worthy of being carried to a division. He did not think that it added to the respectability of that House in the eyes of the public to have eternal talking on questions without bringing them to the proper test—the votes of hon. Members. It might be said that a measure being in a minority showed weakness, and that insisting on a division 936 in such a case must injure the cause. But reform and the abolition of the Slave-trade for many years were advanced only by minorities. If the cause did succeed indoors a manifestation of feeling out of doors came to its assistance; and, in his opinion, nothing could be done in the advancement-of popular rights or interests but by the power of those without, acting upon hon. Members within the House. On the other hand, he felt it would be impossible to rouse public opinion upon any subject, unless the people saw there were men in the House ready to support their rights by advocating their measures, and carrying them to the test of a division. This was the proper mode of acting, and he for one would never intrude upon the House any motion which, unless acceded to, he did not think of sufficient importance to call for a division. Thanking the House for the great indulgence they had shown him, which he attributed to the interest and importance of the subject introduced, he begged, in conclusion, Jo move the first instruction of which he had given notice, presuming it would be the pleasure of the House to take each instruction separately.—The hon. Member accordingly movedI. That it be an instruction to the committee, that they have power to introduce a clause that it shall not be lawful for the commissioners from the date of the passing of this bill, to declare the formation of any new unions in districts which are not already placed under the operation of the act 4th and 5th of William 4th, c. 76.
§ Mr. Ferrand
rose to second the motion. He assured the House he did so with the greatest diffidence, but when he stated that he had taken the most active part for many years in bringing before the notice of the public what he considered to be the most objectionable parts of this bill, and that there had been a strong feeling in support of his views among that class of the people whom hon. Gentlemen opposite described as unrepresented in that House, he felt he should have a kind indulgence shown him from that (the Ministerial) side of the House after the sympathy they had expressed on the hustings; for he believed it came from the heart, for the poor never appealed to them in vain, their hand was always open to relieve distress; while, on the other hand, he should have the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite when he told them he was in possession of the pre- 937 scription which the right hon. Baronet below would recommend for the distresses of the country. He was surprised last night to hear the hon. Member for Halifax declare that there was no excitement in the county of York upon this question. He could assure him that the Conservative Members who had been returned for that county had no occasion to raise any excitement there; it came with open hands to welcome them when they went to solicit the suffrages of the electors. The hon. Member bad said there was no excitement in the borough of Halifax. Was he aware that when the new Poor-law workhouse was built there was a guard obliged to watch it day and night, and that a troop of cavalry was quartered in the town for the same purpose? Was he aware that the cavalry had trampled under foot the people of Bradford, because they had assembled to remonstrate against the bill? Was he aware of what took place at Keighley? The hon. Member for Halifax had taunted the Conservative candidates fur going before the West Riding of York, and using language on this occasion for the purpose of carrying their election. He had heard that when Lord Milton came forward on a requisition of the Whigs of the West Riding, with the name of the hon. Member for Halifax at their head, that hon. Member had actually assisted in drawing up his Lordship's address to the electors. What, then, was Lord Milton's opinion? He bent, as a man should, to public opinion. He said,If the Poor-law requires amendment in any of its provisions, I am ready to consider whatever may be proposed with that view. I am decidedly of opinion that every security ought to be given for its being administered in tenderness to the poor. If such security does not now exist, I am desirous that it should be provided.He maintained, no such security did exist. There was another point which struck him very forcibly last night. It had been tauntingly said on the other side, that it would be seen from Members' votes how they were inclined to keep their hustings professions. When the division was approaching last night he saw several hon. Members leave the House, who were accustomed to plume themselves on their sympathy for the distresses of the people. The hon. Member for Manchester left the House before the division, so did the hon. Member for Leeds, the hon. Member for Salford. [Mr. Brotherton, "No, no.'" 938 At all events the hon. Member's name was not in the list of the division. The hon. Member for Stockport, too, (Mr. Cobden), absented himself. The hon. and learned Member for Liskeard, the Member for Tiverton, and, to instance no more, the colleague of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Halifax. A very serious charge had been made against hon. Members on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, for having made a handle of this question in order to excite the people and carry their elections. He would ask the hon. Member for Halifax, and those who made this charge, if their party had never taken up subjects with the view of exciting the passions of the people. Why, he had seen at one of their elections a chimney-sweeper, with chains about his legs, representing a negro slave; he had seen a scavenger dressed up as a bishop; and during the excitement of the Reform Bill, when it required some extra steam to make the people of this country believe the assertions of the Whigs, it was asserted on the hustings of the city of Westminster, that a fairer head than Adelaide's had rolled upon the block. [" No, no."] He assured them it was true. In a procession which took place in the borough of Leeds during the Reform agitation—and he called the particular attention of the hon. Member for Manchester to this—there was painted upon one of the flags of the Whig candidates the King in petticoats and the Queen in breeches, and there was stuck in the King's neck the axe. The son of the late hon. Member for Leeds, who sat on the Ministerial side of the House during the last Session of Parliament, proposed three groans for the Queen, and the sire of so worthy a son was returned. His opinion on the New Poor-law was, that it was in the highest degree unconstitutional, that it did not afford adequate relief to the poor, and that they were not receiving from it the relief to which they were entitled by the constitution of this country. It had also to a great extent dried up the sources of private charity in the country, and given an excuse to hon. Members of that House, as well as to the people generally, to button up their pockets, and not to relieve the poor in the manner which the feelings of humanity prescribed. He would here take the liberty of mentioning a case which had been brought under his notice by Captain Morris, R.N., who was a perfect stranger to him, but who had been induced to do so from knowing the 939 sentiments which he (Mr. Ferrand) entertained regarding that law. The letter he had received from that gallant Officer he would now read, with permission of the House:—Charmouth, Saturday, Sept. 25, 1841.Sir,—Having observed the good part you are taking in the amendment of the Poor-Iaw Bill, I am induced to write to you upon the subject; and to take the liberty of suggesting, if it has not already occurred to yourself, or some other Member of the House of Commons, or if already suggested, to strengthen by a very strong case, the necessity of having a clause introduced into the bill, which will give a right to a pauper who has been many years resident in a parish not his own to receive the relief afforded him by the union to which his proper parish is annexed, in that to which by residence he is attached, and in which he has lived and laboured, say for five years. You may be surprised that one of my profession should lake so much interest for the adoption of this particular clause, but an instance has very lately occurred in which, from my long acquaintance with the pauper, the hard ships and sufferings to which persons under similar circumstances arc liable have been so forcibly intruded upon my notice, that I must indeed have been either indifferent or dead to feelings of commiseration for the miseries of my poorer follow-creatures, if I had not used the only means in my power of alleviating them, or at least in endeavouring to do so. I have enclosed you the case above alluded to, with the blanks not filled up with the names, fearing the publicity of them may excite the unkind feelings of the guardians of his parish, when they perceive their injustice has been publicly noticed. I have, however, given the names in order to a reference, should you deem it necessary. Upon perusing the statement herewith enclosed, and which can be verified upon oath, I hope you will allow that a case sufficiently strong has been made out to excuse an entire stranger from intruding upon you, and for presuming to suggest an alteration in an existing law. I do not think that because this part of the law was the same in the old as in the New Poor-law, it should be permitted to remain so. Oppression, under whatever law or form of it, should, if possible, be removed. I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant.H. G. MORRIS, Capt. R.N.The case alluded to was as follows. He should conceal the name of the party, as it might do him injury in his parish:—— is a labourer, aged fifty-five years who has resided and laboured in the parish of Charmouth nearly forty years, but belonging to the adjoining parish of Whitchurch-common, in the Bridport Union, county of Dorset. He has brought up a family of eight children without parochial assistance of any kind, except in 940 one instance, about fourteen years ago, when he met with an accident and broke his leg. While under cure he did receive assistance from his proper parish. Being returned from Exeter Hospital with an incurable complaint, he was obliged to seek for parochial aid; and fur that purpose, on the 7th of July last, he appeared before the board of guardians at Bridport. He was refused relief of any kind, until passed to his parish in regular course of law. Monday, the 26th of July, he was conveyed by the parish officers to Beaminster, for the pin pose of being examined before a magistrate; but, no magistrate being present, he was brought hack to Channouth, and en Monday, the 2nd of August, he was again conveyed to Beaminster, was examined, and at the expiration of the proper number of days he was sent to his parish, and has been allowed 4s. a week for the support of himself, his wife, and one child of ten years old. But to receive that 4s. he is obliged to go or send to Chidcock, a distance of four miles and a half, every Saturday, it being the place of residence of the relieving officer of his parish.
Miles. "On the 7th of July he went from Charmouth to the Bridport Union, a distance of seven miles, and returned 14 "On the 26th of July, he was conveyed to Beaminster, a distance of thirteen miles, and brought back to Charmouth 26 " On the 2nd of August, conveyed a second time to Beaminster and returned to Charmouth 26Thus making a distance of sixty-six miles which tills poor diseased and suffering paupers, has been obliged to travel before he could be legally acknowledged as belonging to his parish, although he had formerly received assistance from it, and though the parish he belongs to, is in some parts touching the bounds of the parish of Charmouth, in which he resides, and notwithstanding the county magistrates reside in the to we of Lyme, not two miles distant from Charmouth.In the union of Keighley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it was common for old and destitute persons, sixty, seventy, eighty, and even ninety-three years of age, for he had known such an instance, to have to travel in the most inclement days of winter a distance of seven, eight or nine miles, to attend upon the board of guardians; to arrive at ten or eleven o'clock in the morning, to stand out of doors in the rain, perhaps, for a long time, for they were let in one by one; and the poor decrepid creature who could not find his or her way to the door at an early hour was obliged to stand half dead from wet and cold before receiving relief. It often happened that they did not receive more than 6d. or Is., that was all that was 941 given to them by a board of guardians, which was often composed entirely of manufacturers. He identified the New Poor-law with the factory system. He believed that it had originated first of all owing to the factory labourers in Lancashire and Yorkshire being so reduced by death and disease, that the cotton spinners found it impossible to carry on their establishments with such a number of hands as they required, and this law originated in a deep-laid design between the rich cotton spinners of Lancashire and the Poor-law commissioners and assistant-commissioners. He would give them his evidence directly, he would assert nothing that he could not prove. When the hon. Member for Manchester moved the Address in answer to the speech from the Throne, he had described, in language which must have sunk deep into the breast of every man of feeling who heard it, the dreadful state of misery and distress to which 102 families of Manchester were now reduced. The hon. Member had recalled to his recollection the account of the rich man possessed of this world's goods, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. The hon. Member came to that House, and charged the lauded proprietors of England with being the cause of the distress of those poor wretches. He recollected that about two years ago a public dinner was given at Manchester by the Anti-Corn-law league cotton-spinners, and by way of giving it eclat and effect, they asked over to it the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. O'Connell). The hon. and learned Member then asserted, that the landlord's venison was sweetened with widow's tears, and their claret dyed with orphan's blood. That language was cheered by the cotton-spinners; but it was received with ineffable disgust by the working classes; so much so, that the hon. and learned Member was now glad to pass unnoticed through Manchester. Had the hon. Member been there, he (Mr. Ferrand) should have told him it was a foul calumny on the landowners of England, that it was alien to their blood, their religion, and their soil. In the sister kingdom of Ireland he knew this had been asserted, but he would ask any of those agitators and lecturers who roamed through the kingdom, and were paid salaries in proportion to the amount of the foul calumny they could heap upon the landowners of England, if, instead of trying to set landlord and farmers against each other, and stir up 942 hatred where affection ought to subsist, they had made inquiries in any districts where extensive estates were situated. If they had done this, they would have found, that the proprietors of those estates, by their conduct to the suffering poor, set the very best example, and one which deserved to he followed by those who talked more loudly of the claims of the poor. But the endeavours of those of the opposite side to excite the poor would be of no effect. They had made immense fortunes by the sweat of the labourer. Where was the hon. Member for Stockport, who the other night declared that the Corn-laws were baptized in blood. [Mr. Cobden "Here."] He told the hon. Member, every farthing he had gained by the cotton trade was dyed in the blood of the poor. The manufacturers had so glutted the market at home and abroad, that it was impossible to find the means of selling their goods, and after they had exhausted their labourers by hard labour, they cast away the poor wretches to die in misery. These unfortunate people had petitioned the men of wealth, who had risen, in a few years, to enormous fortunes, to hold out the baud of charity to them. They refused charity to their victims, but they came into that House to deceive them by throwing every term of obloquy on the landed proprietors. He would hold up to those Gentlemen, and to the House, a picture of the manufacturers, drawn by the skilful pencil of Mr. Marshall, of Leeds, who a short time ago fell into a dispute with Lord Fitzwilliam. Mr. Marshall was a flax-spinner of Leeds, who had not so kind a feeling towards the poor as to spend his capital in. England. Wages here were not sufficiently low; Mr. Marshall must go to Belgium, and fit up a mill in the neighbourhood of Brussels, where labour was at a low price. The words of Mr. Marshall were—Look again at the crowded streets of our great manufacturing towns; peruse the various statistic accounts by impartial observers of the terrible destitution, the fearful want, disease, degradation, misery—physical and moral—in every shape that reigns there. Look at the wan and haggard faces of the workpeople that come into our courts of justice, that attend our public meetings. See how the very race of Englishmen is dwindling down and degenerating under the effects of the unremitting labour, the insufficient and unwholesome food that their country's laws allow them to enjoy.He thought food was cheap enough in this country, if the labourer were properly 943 paid. He told the manufacturers, who came here to lay the blame of the misery they had caused upon the shoulders of the landed proprietors, that they were the most selfish and avaricious class of all the holders of property in the country; the landlords were very well satisfied with their rents, but he doubted if the mill-owners were satisfied with less than 1,000 per cent, profit. [" Ok, oh,"] If he did not speak within bounds, what did they mean by boasting at the Manchester dinner that they could vie with the nobility of England? But he would ask if the misery that was now so eagerly pressed upon their attention was a phenomenon of yesterday? Had it never been known to exist in the manufacturing districts previous to the present year? He would read to the House the opinion of Dr. Kay, the Assistant Poor-law Commissioner for Manchester, respecting the state of the poor of that town, when manufacturers were in a state of great prosperity, previous to the introduction of the New Poor-law. The following was an extract from the report from the Committee on the Bill to Regulate the Labour of Factory Children, Mr. Sadler Chairman—Now, Sir, if you take the average of the above nine factory districts, and compare it with Rutland and London, the result will be as follows—As compared with Rutland, an increase of deaths under five years of age of 2,017; under twenty years of age, 2,272; under forty years of age, 2,287. As compared with London, the increase of deaths will be found to be under five years of age, 1,077; under twenty years of age, 1,448; under forty years of age, 1,207. In Rutland the survivors at forty years are more by 2,287, out of every 10,000, and in London by 1,207, than they are on the average in these nine factory districts. In fact, the murderous result developed by this official table is, that about as many human beings die before their twentieth year, in the factory districts, as before their fortieth year, on an average elsewhere ! It is necessary I should inform you, that Manchester is excluded from this official table, because the returns of burials from that place were so incomplete as to render them useless for this comparison. But we have the evidence of Mr. Assistant Poor-law Commissioner, Dr. Kay, that' in Manchester more than one-half of the offspring of the poor die before they have completed their fifth year/ And, in proof that the factory system impoverishes and degrades, as well as kills its victims, the Doctor adds, ' more than one-half of the inhabitants of Manchester are either so destitute or so degraded, as to require the assistance of public charity, in bringing their 944 offspring into the world !' Is it possible to urge a stronger reason for restraining this accursed monster.Were the hon. Members opposite, who possessed factories, aware of the dreadful misery which the factory system was bringing upon their workpeople? If they were, he really did not believe there was any man living who wished to be considered an upright, honourable man, who could in that House bring such charges against the landed proprietors, when it was quite notorious throughout the manufacturing districts that they were not at all to blame for the distress there prevailing, which was entirely owing to the factory system, and to the forgetfulness of the millowners that property had its duties as well as its rights. The hon. Member for Manchester quoted the other night the opinions of a chaplain extraordinary—the Rev. Baptist Noel—to prove that the Corn-laws had produced all the existing distress. He should quote to the House the opinion of a man who had during a long life studied the whole subject of the causes which had brought about the present distress of the working classes in the manufacturing districts. That man had laboured night and day in this good work, but his praise and his reward had been a cell in the Fleet prison. [Hear, hear.] The Gentlemen opposite cried "Hear, hear;" they rejoiced in that man's sufferings; they might imprison his body, but let him tell them they could not imprison his soul. Mr. Oastler was heartily engaged in forwarding the welfare of the operatives. It was he who put a stop to the system of dragging out the poor people of the south of England to the manufacturing districts that they might fill up the places of those who had been brought to their end by this accursed system. Mr. Oastler said—''-The official ' comparative table of the duration of life ' proves to a demonstration, that the unremitting labour of the factories is actually more destructive to human life than famine, war, or pestilence ! I started from the perusal of that table with indescribable horror —I could scarcely believe my eyes! But the facts are indisputable !—the data most correct! The horrible factory system is making a charnel-house of England—it cuts off life at both ends—it works the living to death— it genders death, untimely death, even in the womb ! It destroys the stamina of both father and mother—it ushers into the world children who are incapable of life !—it actually cuts off one-half of the years of human existence I 945 do not exaggerate; I appeal to the official table of births and deaths. The following extracts from that table will prove if I am not abundantly borne out in all which I have asserted. In every 10,000 burials in the undermentioned places read the awful result:
Now, had hon. Members opposite no better proof of sympathy to give than empty words? He assured them the poor working men of the north of England would be well content if the hon. and learned Member for Bolton subscribed towards their relief 1,000l. out of the 17.000l. he had received from the public. The millowners of Manchester, it appeared, allowed 102 families to pawn their clothes to keep themselves alive; they collected the particulars of their cases, wrote them down on paper, and came to London to state them, but they did not make one substantial effort for their relief. It would have been excusable if they could have alleged with honesty that they were ruined, and could subscribe nothing for that purpose; but they took care not to say that they had not yet done anything to assist the perishing people. The hon. Member for Stockport had asserted that the landlords compelled their surplus population to go into the manufacturing districts. He would read on the subject with permission of the House, an extract from the first report of the Poor-law Commissioners for 1835. It was a communication on the subject of the migration of labourers, in a letter from Eton and Ashworth, dated Turton, near Bolton, 9th of 6th month, 1834. It began, "Respected friend "—for the writer was one of that class of men who made great professions of religious feeling:—.
Places. Died under 5 years of age. Died under 20 years of age. Died under 40 years of age. Lived above 40 years. Rutland 2,865 3,756 5,031 4,969 London 3,805 4 580 6,111 3,889 Factory Districts. Bradford, Yorkshire 4,687 5,896 7,06l 2,939 Macclesfield 4,462 5,889 7,300 2,700 Wigan 4,790 5,911 7,117 2,883 Preston 4,947 6,083 7,462 2,538 Bury 4,864 6,017 7,319 2,681 Stockport 4,879 6,005 7,367 2,633 Bolton 4,939 6,113 7,459 2,54l Leeds 5,286 6,213 7.441 2,559 Holbeck 5,090 6,133 7,337 2,663I take the liberty of forwarding for thy consideration, a few observations on the proposed New Poor-law Bill, the leading principle of which I most cordially approve, whilst in some of its details I fear it will be found prac- 946 tically defective. I would not venture to suggest an opinion to you, who have already so ample a store of evidence, were it not that I feel so much the vast importance of the subject, and am most anxious that, whilst a change is making, the law which is substituted for that now in force may be made applicable to the wants and circumstances of all parts of the community. The poor-rates of Lancashire have long been the lowest of any county in the kingdom, in consequence of the great demand for labour, caused by the increase of manufactories. Full employment, in every department, was never more easy to be found than now, consequently, wages have advanced in most operative employments, and particularly so in the least skilful; spade labourers, for instance, who last year had 2s. 3s. per day, have now 2s. 6d. to 3s. Hand-loom weavers have been much wanted, and their wages advanced, on an average ten per cent. This bespeaks a scarcity of labourers here.What that those poor men should have 10 per cent, raised on their wages, and that that should bespeak a scarcity of labour ! It was melancholy to think that the cotton-spinners of Manchester should make such assertions as they had, when wages had been raised 10 per cent. The letter proceeded:—I am most anxious that every facility be given to the removal of labourers from one county to another, according to the demand for labour; this would have a tendency to equalize wages, as well as prevent, in degree, some of the turn-outs which have been of late so prevalent.Ay? He found then, that the men of that same Mr. Ashworth had turned out, because they did not consider they were sufficiently repaid for their labour. Why he thought their traders were ruined is Lancashire, and that they required that Poor-law Bill to bring in extra numbers of poor labourers from the southern counties to keep down the equalization of wages. But he would read an extract from another letter—a letter written by Mr. R. H. Greg, a brother, he believed, of the late hon. Member for Manchester, to Mr. E. Chadwick, secretary to the Poor-law Commission. It began thus:—Manchester, Sept. 17, 1839.—I have for some time, thought of addressing you on the same matter as my friend Ashworth did some time ago.What then, that Mr. Greg who was addressing the Poor-law commissioners on the same subject as Mr. Ashworth, was assisting to equalize wages, and was in despair because the poor handloom weavers 947 were increasing 10 per cent, in their wages. The letter continued—Namely, the propriety of opening a communication between our (strange to say) under-peopled districts and the southern over-peopled ones. It is at (his moment a most important suggestion, and deserves to be put into immediate operation. It must be looked upon as a happy coincidence that, at the period of depriving or curtailing perhaps the facilities of gaining a livelihood to the people of one half of England, and causing a fall in their present low wages, and a scramble amongst them for employment, there should exist a difficulty in obtaining labourers at extravagant wages in these northern counties. This fortunate occurrence should be taken advantage of.To talk of extravagant wages when they looked to the poor handloom weavers whose wages had been raised 10 percent.! Those poor wretches had from time to time petitioned that House in vain, and had never obtained relief without a league being entered into with the Poor-law commissioners to obtain new labourers from the south of England, to be chained down to the factory mills and there to die.But for the operation of the Poor-laws in binding down the labourers to their respective parishes, in the mode and to the degree I need not attempt to explain to you, of all men, there would have existed a free circulation of labour throughout the country, to the benefit alike of the southern and northern parts.He would assert, without the least fear of contradiction, that this was a land of slavery, that those men were bought and sold by the Poor-law commissioners of England to the cotton-spinners in Lancashire, there to he worked to death. Could any man who had heard the details which he had read that night doubt it? If they denied it, he knew not what the country would say to their assertion; but he would leave it to the country to judge. He would describe what the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, had recommended to save those poor wretches in Lancashire, and he fearlessly said, that the right hon. Baronet had shown, since he had taken his scat in that House as Prime Minister of England, a great anxiety to relieve the poor. But he would ask the right hon. Baronet to carry out that sympathy towards the living for the next six months which he had shown for the dead; for he had ascertained, after the division last night, that the poor of England must remain for the next six months at the mercy of the Poor- 948 law commissioners; but they must remember that their appointments were in the power of that House, and that if they did not do their duty according to the directions of the right hon. Baronet, they would soon cease to hold them. He would then withdraw as far as he could, as the representative of his constituents, who comprised an immense mass of the operatives of the West Riding of Yorkshire, the whole responsibility from the three Poor-aw commissioners for the next six months, and would place it on the shoulders of the right hon. Baronet. He had a right to do so. They had heard accounts of the distress in the counties of York and Lancaster; he was not going to deny them; but this he would tell the right hon. Baronet, that trade in Yorkshire was rapidly increasing; that in his neighbourhood he had lately communicated, as he generally did, when he was residing there, with a great many of the working classes, and they told him they had as much employment as they wanted; but what they wanted was this—better wages, which, however, they had much difficulty in convincing their masters ought to be given them. He would then give the prescription of the hon. Members for Manchester, Bolton, Salford, and Stockport; three of whom were, he believed, closely connected with the cotton trade, and the fourth, the Member for Bolton, was connected with the revenue of the country. But he would first read what the right hon. Baronet had stated in that House; he said,I am one of those who have derived our fortunes from the industry of the operative classes, and I trust that others, who owe their prosperity to the same causes, will feel, as I do, that it is our duty to relieve the public, by taking on ourselves the charge of a just requital to those classes from whom our prosperity has sprung.He would ask those hon. Members, then, to reconcile their enormous wealth with the present dreadful distress which was stated to exist among the working classes, and if they could, any one of them, lay his head on his pillow that night without saying he had done his duty to them, he did not envy him his repose. He would then refer to the medical relief that was supplied in the Keighley union. He had it brought under his notice now three years ago, and on application to the medical officer of the union, he found that during the previous year he had been paid only at the rate of 3s. 4d. a case, and that in the 949 parish of Bingley the medical officer had been paid but 2s. 7d. a case for attending the poor. He brought the case before the Poor-law commissioners, but they said they did not consider it was a case in which they could interfere. He then sent a petition to that place, where so many had been presented and forgotten. His petition was laid on the table; what became of it afterwards he knew not, but those medical officers received the same salaries still, and he did not hesitate to say there was a feeling of extreme disgust among the working classes, as well as the better classes in that union, to think that the poor should have medical relief offered to them at a price which was not so high even as that which was given to a dog doctor anywhere, and that they were placed in that respect on a level with dumb animals. Though be should vote for the instruction of the hon. Member, still he felt regret, when hon. Members were anxious to redeem the obnoxious clauses of this bill, that such a course should have been taken; for ratepayers who formerly paid only 1s. 6d. for rates were now paying 7s., 8s., and 9s., and were paying, to a great extent, the wages of the manufacturers.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, he was painfully aware of the duty that attached to him on the present occasion, but he could assure the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken, that no eagerness of manner, or warmth of declamation, could spare him from endeavouring faithfully to discharge his public duty, and that, conscious of that duty, he should not hastily abandon a measure the importance of which he felt so deeply, and to the principle of which measure, although it might require some consideration, and be susceptible of some amendment, he was conscientiously pledged, and from which he would not recede. He thought it; necessary to state thus much in the outset; of his observations; but having stated that, he hoped the House would permit him to add that on the measure which he had that night brought under discussion, he did not ask any hon. Member in that. House to pledge himself to the maintenance of the Poor-law in its present state. He; carefully reserved, as he stated on the previous night, the discussion of all the: details of that measure; nay, the decision of the House on the principle of the measure itself, until the next Session of Parliament. And all he would then ask the House to do was to pass a measure for the continuance of the commission for the 950 next six months, without the superintending care of which commission the whole management of the poor would be thrown into inextricable confusion, to enable the Government to consider the shape in which it would present to Parliament the Poor-law bill itself, with such amendments as they might think necessary, in an early part of the next Session of Parliament. In the first place he would observe, with respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Knaresborough, that what they were that night discussing was, whether the Poor-law commission should be continued; but the principal statements which the hon. Gentleman brought under the consideration of the House were proofs, if they were accurately stated, and which he (Sir J. Graham) was sure, from what he knew of the hon. Gentleman, he meant them to be, of great local mismanagement. They did not tend to impugn the conduct of the central body; on the contrary, they went far to show the danger of local management being left uncontrolled, and were a strong argument in favour of the superintending authority of some such commission as he then asked the House to continue. But, passing from the hon. Member for Knaresborough, he turned to the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the present motion. It was quite unnecessary on that point to vindicate the purity of the hon. Gentleman's motion, or the kindliness of feeling that prompted him to make that motion, for he had always thought from what he had known and heard of the hon. Gentleman, that they were the characteristics of his conduct, both in that House and in his native country. No vindication of that kind then was necessary; but, without being offensive to the hon. Gentleman, he (Sir J. Graham) would just call the attention of the House to one very remarkable fact, and it was this, that the hon. Gentleman who moved this instruction—which affected the different counties in England and Wales, was not resident in this country; that he had had no practical experience of the working of the system which he then sought to interrupt, and there was this strange coincidence, that he represented one of the few places in England—namely, Rochdale, to which this system of the New Poor-law had not been extended. Now, the hon. Gentleman said, that to prove a case there was nothing like a statement of particular cases resting on facts. He would agree with the hon. Gentleman in the latter part of 951 that proposition, that there was nothing so convincing as resting on facts in particular cases. But then the hon. Gentleman, having no personal knowledge of those facts, and his constituents having no personal experience of the working of the system, brought forward a string of cases, in a most sweeping form, which did not rest on his personal authority, or the experience of his constituents, but which were ex parte statements — ex parte statements, that could only be tested by inquiry, and until facilities were given, he did think that statements of that kind were far more likely to mislead popular assemblies in discussing this question than any other mode that could be devised. Tile instruction that was moved on the previous night touched only on the incidental part of the question to which it more immediately referred. But the instruction of that evening went to the very essence of the measure itself—namely, the power of extending the unions, which was the preliminary step to bringing the act into operation anywhere, and the power which was vested in the commissioners of refusing relief out of the workhouse. That went to the very essence of the measure itself; and if he refused to enter on the discussion of those points at that, time, it was only because he wished to leave the measure untouched for future discussion; and he was quite sure, that the House would see how impossible it was for him, without departing from that reserve which his sense of duty imposed on him, to follow the hon. Member in the discussion of his details. But he would just state to the House, that in point of fact, without giving any pledge itself on the part of the executive Government, those powers which were given by the Act of Parliament were not sought then to be altered in the least degree. He did not ask for any alteration of that law, but only for the continuance of the controlling power vested in the commission by that law; and he could further state, that by that law as it would remain, no power would exist to touch the Gilbert Unions Act, and introduce the Poor-law in its stead. Then as to local acts, he would admit that indirectly some interference had taken place; but he would give no pledge whatever on the part of the Government which should go to demonstrate on their part a want of confidence in the commission, or a feeling of prejudice against the principle of that measure, which it would be their duty to 952 reconsider, and bring under the notice of that House in the next Session of Parliament. He thought that taking that discussion under the pressure which then existed would be prejudicial to the measure, and he therefore could give no such pledge; but he asked the House to extend the operation of the measures at that time and under those circumstances. If they believed that the commission controlled by the executive could act so imprudently for the short time to which it was proposed to be extended, then he said, "Do not deal with this question in the shape of an instruction, but refuse the passing of the bill." If, however, they had confidence in the commission controlled by the executive, then, he would, say, reject the instructions, but pass the measure." He would then call the attention of the House to one or two remarkable circumstances which ought not to be overlooked. And first, with respect to this commission. This commission had yielded to public opinion, and as he thought most judiciously, and quite in accordance with the spirit in which the measure was enacted. He said the commission within the last six weeks had marked its sense of the pressure of public opinion, and had yielded most judiciously and in a manner which he highly approved. When the act was discussed incidentally last Session, he had pointed out some errors of judgment in carrying the original act into execution. There had been an evasion of one of the most essential provisions in the original enactment, by multiplying special orders in particular unions to an immense extent, thereby evading the provision which rendered the passing of general orders necessary as it was only to those general orders that the approbation of the Secretary of State was necessary. Now, what had been the conduct of the commission upon the vital point of forbidding out-door relief? Within the last six weeks,—yielding to public opinion—on a re-consideration of all the circumstances, and from a proper sense of duty, they had put into one general order all the scattered, individual orders prohibiting out-door relief, and submitted them to his predecessor at the Home-office. That order had not been negatived, and the prescribed period, within which the Secretary of State's disapprobation should have been signified being just on the point of expiring, it was to be concluded that the sanction of the department had thus indirectly been given. He 953 repeated, that the commissioners had brought under one general order all the special orders touching out-door relief, and had brought it under the general executive. So much for their conduct on that head. They had shown a disposition to do away with any consideration of the Act of Parliament, and to bring their conduct directly under the control and into conformity with the spirit of that act. But was that all? He thought it his duty, and he hoped the House would pardon him for so doing, to read what appeared to him a list of most important relaxations in the extreme stringency of the order relative to out-door relief. These relaxations were many of them in direct conformity with recommendations of the committee over which Mr. Fazakerley had presided, and in which he (Sir J. Graham) had the honour of acting. First, he would read the order itself.Every able-bodied person, male or female, requiring relief from any of the said parishes shall be relieved in the workhouse, and shall, together with such family as may be resident with him or her, and who may not be employed," &c, be resident in the workhouse,— "save and except the following cases.Then followed seven most important relaxations of the stringency of that rule:—First, when such person shall require relief in consequence of sudden or urgent necessity; secondly, where such person requires relief on account of any sickness, accident, or bodily or mental infirmity affecting such person, or any of his or her family.Here was a very wide door opened to out-door relief, certainly, in the case of "sickness" or any other "urgent necessity."Thirdly, where such person requires relief for defraying the burial expense of any part of his family; fourthly, where such person, being a widow, shall be in the first six months of her widowhood, even if childless.He begged the House to observe how this was extended,—In case such person, being a widow, shall have a legitimate child or children dependent upon her, &c, then, in that case, the willow shall, without stint or limit, receive relief out of the workhouse, and in her own home; sixthly, when such person shall be confined in any gaol or place of safe custody.This form was adopted in consequence of words in the original act referring to the rule which should be adopted towards members of a family in the absence of the 954 head; and thus a door was opened for the relief of the wife and children in their own homes.Lastly, where relief was required by the wife and child, or children, of any able-bodied man who shall be in the service of her Majesty as a soldier or sailor.Now, these were assuredly most important relaxations, as he stated, in the stringency of the rule as laid down originally. He did not wish to trouble the House by going further into the matter, but by the 16th clause of the original act the executive had the power, not within any prescribed period, but at any period whatever, to issue an order in Council, altering or relaxing any of the rules. There was, therefore, ample protection in this power of the executive (during the interval for which alone he asked the renewal of this measure) against any hardship or injury arising from the administration of the law. Now really, without offence, he must say, that he never could hear without pain language from any side of the House which might have the effect—he knew it would not by any Member be uttered with the object—of exciting angry passions, on the part of the commercial or manufacturing interests, against the landed interests, or on the part of those against the former. Neither could he refrain from frankly admitting that the main source of the prosperity of this country was its manufacturing industry and enterprise. But now, he asked, what had been the operation of the law, in the manufacturing districts, as to this rule of out-door relief? One could not conceive a case in which that rule was likely to have a more stringent application than in the instance of the Irish handloom weavers, not having settlements in the manufacturing districts. The rigour of the law would lead the commissioners to say, "Give them relief, but remove them from this country to Ireland." That was the strict letter of the law. But was that the direction given by the commissioners? Anything but that. He held in his hand orders passed within the last week by the commissioners, in respect to this very case of the handloom weavers in Manchester, directing the assistant-commissioner to use his authority over the board of guardians, directing peremptorily that relief be afforded to these weavers, not in the workhouse, but out of doors, in the shape of breaking stones or work of other kind, paid 955 for fairly—and no attempt was made to remove them to Ireland in consideration of that relief. He hoped the House would pardon him for departing somewhat from the strict line he had laid down in the discussion of this question, not to enter into details. On the best consideration he could give to the subject, he thought he had not exceeded his duty in going thus far to remove false impressions; further than that he did not feel it his duty to go. Last night the House gave him a general support in resisting the introduction of amendments. He hoped nothing had fallen from him which would induce them to withdraw now that limited confidence which alone at present he asked. Having made these observations, it would be his duty to resist both the amendments of the hon. Member for Rochdale; and he hoped the majority would support him in that resistance.
§ Mr. M. Philips
should not have trespassed upon the attention of the House had it not been for the exceedingly personal character of the speech which had been delivered by the hon. Member for Knaresborough—a speech far different in tone from that which had just been delivered, and a speech which he listened to with a great deal of pain. He had listened to that speech in the expectation of hearing the hon. Member for Knares-borough support the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale. But, unless bold declamation was to be taken as argument, there was not much argument in the speech. As to the opinions the hon. Member had expressed of the manufacturers, he would not go much into that subject, not wishing to be betrayed into any undue warmth, even in debating, and very unwilling to follow the example of the hon. Member himself in that respect. He would content himself with just adverting to the manner in which, as he imagined, quite unjustifiably, the hon. Member had alluded to the manufacturers, as if they were necessarily without feeling, and as if their sole object was their aggrandizement at the expense of the blood and sinews of their fellow-citizens. This he would tell the hon. Member, that he had formed a very wrong estimate of the character of those among whom it appeared he had been in the habit of living. Though it was not for him to pretend that the manufacturers, as a body, were more merciful or liberal than any other 956 class, and, although he wished not to institute comparisons, this he would say, that the manufacturers of Manchester could not with truth be charged with any dereliction of duty, or any want of sympathy with the necessities of their poorer fellow-townsmen; and that to affirm that they were not always ready to lend relief to the operatives when distressed, was a libel upon their characters in no degree borne out by truth. As to the administration of the Poor-law in Manchester, it would be sufficient for him to say, that he knew the rates had doubled between the 24th of March last, and the 25th of March preceding; so that there was certainly no indication of the manufacturers shrinking from the consequences of the distress prevailing among the poor. Now, as to the manufacturers, to whom the hon. Member for Knaresborough had been pleased to allude in terms they had not de-served, this he would say, that one of them had told him (which he knew to be the case,) that be never shortened the time even of working, unless he was losing to such an amount as would, if carried on, produce an annual loss of 10,000l. Others had given him 7,000l. as the sum; and really, was it not a very strong circumstance, that these master manufacturers did not even shorten time, much less reduce wages, till they were losing at such a rate as would inevitably, if continued, lead them to bankruptcy. And he might state, that last year, when there was great pressure upon the operatives—just to show that there was no lack of proper sympathy, (though he was far from boasting as regarded his class, much less as regarded himself), between 3,000l. and 4,000l. had been collected in an incredibly short space of time, in order to relieve the distressed families, and prevent the pledging of furniture, clothes, &c. Thus much, then, in justification of the manufacturers, who had been so unfairly attacked. Now, as to himself. The hon. Member for Knares-borough had charged him with having been absent from the last division on the subject; that was true, and it was true that he bad been intentionally absent, and the reason was this, that the proposition before the House had been one which would involve censure of the reparation of man and wife, which separation took place at Manchester before it was included in a union; and he did not wish to imply a censure upon the old practice in the town, 957 neither did he wish hastily to vote approbation of a principle which he thought well worthy of the most careful consideration of the House. Now, as to the general character of the Poor-law, he was not about to shrink from any declaration of opinion he had given in favour of the principle of the law, which he considered had been productive of great advantage, move particularly to the agricultural districts; and he should not on this occasion offer the right hon. Baronet the slightest opposition. This was a question on which, of all others, he would never be committed to a factious opposition to the. Government. It was above all party considerations, and by him it had never been made a party question, he had been attacked violently upon the subject at the election when he had stood up for the bill, because he had believed it a good bill; and he was not to be deterred from the course he had adopted from conviction. He was persuaded at the same time, that with the experience they had obtained of the working of the act, some alterations might be desired, and he much wished to see the act discussed more with reference to the alterations which had been already introduced into its working by the commissioners, than to its original shape and operation, which had been so materially altered (as by the important relaxation staled by the right hon. Baronet), respecting out-door relief and other points. Still it was so much the practice to take the act merely as it stood, that he confessed he had sometimes been led to think certain alterations might be made in it. It ought, however, to be made plain to the world, that there had been great changes in the law as originally framed, and the time of the House could not be more profitably employed, perhaps, than in the revision of the act at the earliest possible period next Session. Having said thus much, he should have no difficulty, in case of a division, in voting for the bill before the House.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, it was now understood, that the Government had resolved to adhere to the principles of the existing law, and the right hon. Baronet, with a candour which did him credit, had admitted, that such was the case. It now appeared, then, that the Whig aristocracy of England, and the Tory aristocracy of England, were pledged to the maintenance of the existing law in its principles. But when 958 the right hon. Baronet, on the 16th of the present month, made his statement in the House, that he was desirous of prolonging the commission for six months, he gave no notification whatever that it was his intention to maintain the existing law. It appeared, that he had put an interpretation upon those words which circumstances had not justified. He did not complain of the conduct of the right hon. Baronet on that occasion, but this he did say, that he had been completely deceived. He admitted ii frankly; he had been deceived. The circumstances which had deceived him, however, were simple and clear enough. In the present year in the last Session the subject of the Poor-law had been discussed, and with several anxious debates. The right hon. Baronet then led the opposition to the bill, and Lord John Russell having proposed the prolongation of the commission for ten years, the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had himself proposed that the period be reduced to five years. Having now become the leader of the Government, he did certainly expect that the right hon. Gentleman would only request the House to continue the commission for a short time; therefore, in a moment of infinite gratification, had expressed his determination not to offer any opposition to the continuance of the commission. He should adhere to that pledge, but at the same time he confessed, that he had hoped, considering the circumstances under which the right hon. Baronet had acted, that his better judgment had resumed its sway, that his determination to maintain the commission had relaxed, that he was sensible of the strong feeling in the country against the existing commission and the law, and that he was prepared to yield to public opinion, and to renew the commission for a short time, only to abolish it altogether. It now appeared, however, that the commission was to be continued. He had expected, from the constitution of the Government, that a different course would have been pursued. The hon. Member for East Kent had expressed opinions adverse to the law. The noble Lord, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, had taken a very active part against many of the clauses. Then the learned Attorney-General had made a speech against it marked by that sincere feeling and sympathy for the poor which to the hon. Gentleman was natural. Then 959 the hon. and learned Solicitor-General had never expressed an opinion in favour of the law. At the same time he had not forgotten that the right hon. Baronet, the Home Secretary, and the noble Lord, the Secretary for Colonial Affairs, had been among the framers of the measure. Still, looking to the general formation of the Government, he had expected a different course would have been pursued upon the subject. However, he had been deceived. But the deception he had laboured under would be in some respects useful to him; it enabled him to understand the position he held as an individual in that House; and it would be useful to the country, also, as pointing out clearly the course which ought to be pursued, and to which he would soon advert. Now, a great deal had been said to night as respected abuses under the law. The hon. Member for Rochdale had brought forward a motion on which, if there was a division, he would divide with him. Last night he had not divided, for he considered that the motion then made had been imperfect, and could not, in fact, had it been adopted, be carried out by the commissioners or guardians. But he differed from the hon. Member for Rochdale in the opinion, that hon. Members had expressed, that on every question brought forward in the House every Member ought to vote and to declare his opinion. The effect of this would often be to force Members to a division before they had been able to form their judgment properly on the question to be submitted to them. That had frequently happened to him, or rather would have happened, had he not, on such occasions, quitted the House rather than vote on questions whereon he had not had time to make up his mind on a due deliberation and proper investigation of the merits. [Mr. Hawes: Hear.] The hon. Member cheered. Had he the sagacity of that hon. Member—had he half that hon. Member's experience, happy acuteness, and vivid perception, joined with that profundity of judgment which ever characterized the hon. Member, then might he be able to comprehend subjects the most abstruse with the slightest attention; and on questions the most difficult to form his opinion at once speedily and soundly; but he had not those extraordinary qualifications; therefore, sorry he was for it, he must be content, like ordinary men, to 960 endeavour by consideration and attention, to make up his mind upon important questions. Now as to the detailed cases which had been given by the hon. Member for Rochdale, in a great degree he Mr. Wakley) could confirm what had been stated. He thought in discussing a question of this nature, it was not so important to dwell upon cases of hardship originating from the operation of the law —not upon specific abuses, as upon the principle of the law—upon its tendency to produce the evils complained of. It was the false principle upon which the Poor-law was based which he wished to see fully discussed, and which required immediate alteration. If he understood the principle of the Poor-law correctly, it amounted to this—that it took away from the rate-payers the powers of applying the fund collected for the relief of the poor to its original purpose, it deprived the ratepayers of the authority they formerly possessed, and transferred it to the Poor-law commissioners at Somerset-house. He did not think that it were possible for human ingenuity to construct a law which operated more oppressively on the poor than that which the commissioners at Somerset-house were instructed to carry into effect. What remedy has been proposed by a Member of this House for the evil? The hon. Member for Bath, whom he was sorry not to see in his place, had directed his mind to the consideration of this subject with the view of discovering a remedy for the admitted abuses of the Poor-law. To effect that object, the hon. Member had hit upon one of the most extraordinary schemes that could, by any possibility, have entered into the mind of a human being. This remedy was of a most extraordinary character. The hon. Member for Bath proposed to transfer the authority from the Poor-law commissioners at Somerset-house to the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He could conceive nothing more destructive to the real interests of the poor, than that they should be placed at the mercy of the Home Secretary. The hon. Baronet who now filled that office would not, he was sure, think he meant, by his observations, to reflect upon him individually. He did not refer to any individual who had filled, who now filled, or was likely to occupy, the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department, but he objected to the proposed alteration purely on principle. He was, 961 indeed, astonished that such a proposition should have originated from the hon. Member for Bath. Of all the Members of the House, he thought that that hon. Gentleman would have been the last to have contemplated such a transfer of authority. When that hon. Member advocated in the House the interests of the Canadians, he informed them that he applied in vain for justice to the Home Secretary; he said that he could absolutely get nothing from him; that he was literally spurned from the door, when he applied in behalf of the Canadians, whose claims he had been appointed to advocate. He (Mr. Wakley) could not recal to mind the precise tropes and figures of speech which the hon. Member made use of on the occasion to which he referred, but the impression left on his mind was, to the effect, that it was ridiculous for the Canadians to suppose that they could obtain anything but injustice from the Secretary of State. He would, were the hon. Member for Bath in the House, ask that hon. Gentleman, whether it was likely that he (Mr. Roebuck) would meet with more civility from the Home Secretary now, than he did on a former occasion—he would ask him whether he thought that he would meet with more humanity in that quarter? Does the hon. Gentleman consider that the Secretary of State is less fortified in his opinion, in consequence of being backed by a large majority of the House of Commons? Such a transfer of power would be a mere device to deprive the poor of redress; and that being his opinion, he (Mr. Wakley) would offer the motion, whenever submitted to the House, his most strenuous opposition. He would now refer to the discretionary powers possessed by the Poor-law commissioners, and that question involved also the consideration of the principle of the enactment, as well as two other points springing out of the law—one relating to the centralization of power in the hand of the commissioners, and the other having reference to the legal right of the poor to demand parochial relief. These points he would illustrate presently. He thought that it was the paramount duty of the House to understand the nature of the question then under discussion. He would ask hon. Members whether the nobility of England—whether the aristocracy of this country had a right to claim the protection of the law—whether judges should be appointed to adjudicate 962 exclusively for them, and to protect their many privileges, when they denied the same right to the poor? Had the poor the protection of the law? By the laws of this country, the poor had been literally outlawed—they had been placed beyond the pale of the law. The law of the present day was not the law which existed for the poor in the time of Queen Elizabeth. By the statute of Elizabeth, the poor had a right to demand relief—the law authorised them to demand it. How were the poor provided for before the enactment of Elizabeth? Hon. Members should recollect, that before that period, there were scattered through the country a number of monastic and charitable institutions, erected for the purpose of administering relief to the distressed, When these were dispersed at the Reformation, the act of Elizabeth came into operation, which gave the poor a right to demand assistance, when necessity impelled them. The right of a poor man was as strong as the right of the first nobleman in the land; the one had not a stronger claim upon the protection of the law than the other. Could that fact be denied by hon. Members? What did they say that they would do? They declared their intention of passing a law which would deprive the poor of their right to claim legal protection. They had also erected a tribunal of an irresponsible character. He was not in the House when the Poor-law Bill was first proposed, he did not participate in its enactment. Let hon. Members ask themselves how they as individuals would like to be compelled to apply to a certain authority for relief, without knowing beforehand what was the nature of the reception they were likely to receive? He said again, that the poor had a right to the protection of the law. If they denied them that right, they destroyed the principle of true aristocracy. He would ask whether that was Conservatism? Whether that was the effectual mode of maintaining the institutions of the country, to obtain the good feelings of the poor, and to uphold the monarchical principle? He thought that the present course was fraught with great danger to the country; it was one that could not be pursued with safety or impunity. It was his belief, that if the House adhered to the law as it at present stood — if its provisions were not considerably mitigated—that the country would be stained with blood. That was 963 his opinion, and it was his duty to state it to the House. He had frequent opportunities of ascertaining the real feelings of the country respecting the Poor-law. He mixed with people belonging to all classes of society; he was conversant with their opinions. It was the belief of the great majority of the country, that the Poor-law was not only inhuman in its nature, but anti-Christian,—yes, he would repeat, it was anti-Christian—and that it had its origin in selfishness—the most destructive feeling that could be engendered by the human mind. He did not believe that the Poor-law originated in a feeling of selfishness; it sprang from ignorance of the condition of the poor.]f hon. Members could see what he was almost daily in the habit of witnessing, he felt assured that their views would undergo a material modification. Was it right that the poor should be subjected to such treatment? The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester, had informed the House that evening in the course of his speech, that the commissioners at Somerset-house had considerably, in certain districts, relaxed the operation of the law. He would ask the House if the Poor-law commissioners, possessing the limited information which they could obtain, considered it their duty to apply the law less rigorously, whether the Poor-law guardians, having better opportunities of being made acquainted with the local condition of the poor, could not also be empowered to relax, under certain circumstances, the operation of the law? He did not see why the discretionary power should be taken from the guardians. He would ask, was this an effort of reform? Was this paying a proper deference to the wishes of the people? He was not for the total abolition of the law, but he thought that the interest of the poor was so vast, that the nation generally was so mixed up with the question of the poor, that it was advisable that a court of appeal should be constituted. To preside at this court he would have a man in whose judgment and humanity he could place implicit reliance; he would appoint a man who should be designated the "Poor-law Judge." He would also suggest the appointment of a Poor-law advocate, whose duty it should be to support before that tribunal the claims of the poor and distressed. If her most gracious Majesty had her paid advocates, he did not see why the poor should not have 964 theirs. He hoped the hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, would take this subject into his serious consideration. He maintained that the poor had a right to be placed under the law, and not under the authority of paid commissioners at Somerset house, whose administration of the law must depend to some extent upon the state of bodily health, for what would be law one day, would not be law the next. What do the commissioners say with reference to the application of the poor for relief? In the report of 1829 it is said: —A pauper likewise commonly receives the public relief as his due.As his due? He (the pauper) does not go down on his bended knee to supplicate relief. Then, again, to continue the same extract:—And without any gratitude or any of the feeling which induces the industrious labourer 10 make the most and the best of his hard-earned gains.He would ask if any person who could use such language was fitted to administer relief to the poor? He felt assured, that if these were the notions really entertained by any one appointed to carry the Poor-law into operation, they had much mistaken the feelings of the House. He would say a few words with reference to the constitution of the present law as carried out by the Poor-law commissioners. He would ask the House whether they approved of the present size of the Poor-law unions? He wished to know whether hon. Members who supported this law considered that it was right that unions should exist embracing between thirty and forty parishes, containing a population of 100,000 persons? He was acquainted with one union which contained a population of 120,000 individuals. Hon. Members should consider the size of the unions in connection with the application for relief. A man starving for food applies to the overseer for assistance; he is told to make an application to the board of guardians. To effect that purpose, this poor pauper has to walk a distance of nine miles. [An hon. Member said twelve miles.] A Gentleman below me says twelve miles. Owing to the pauper having miscalculated his time, he arrives too late; he finds the board broken up, and he is compelled to retrace his weary steps without having received a promise of re- 965 lief. He would ask hon. Members, what must be the feelings of a man under such circumstances? what must be his reflections, when he recalled to mind that his father, and perhaps brothers, had fought and bled in the defence of his country? He would now direct the attention of the House to the administration of medical relief to the poor under the operation of the Poor-law enactment. In former times the poor man could easily obtain medical assistance when it was needed. If the man was honest, industrious, and deserving, his neighbours were always ready to afford him every assistance, without the necessity of applying to the overseers or guardians of the poor. The parish doctor was on the spot, and was always willing to give his advice in cases of illness. If these happy days were ever to be restored, the preliminary step was to restore parochial government, but in such a manner as to obviate the abuses which existed under the old system. The unions were so large and extensive, that it was quite impossible for the poor to obtain the necessary relief in cases of sickness. Connected with this subject he would read a communication which he had received from a gentleman connected with the Basford Union. It was dated April 17, 1841:—Sir,—I beg leave to forward to you the following particulars relating; to the administration of medical relief in the Basford Union:—They have been communicated to me by a friend, on whose accuracy I can fully rely. In that union, a medical gentleman, who has only recently passed his examination as medical practitioner, holds two districts, consisting of twelve different parishes, including a population of 12,410 persons (according to the census taken ten years ago, since which it has considerably increased), situate in an agricultural and manufacturing country, the salary which he receives for fulfilling the medical duties its the whole of those two districts being only 87l. a year. He resides at Bulwell, and before he reaches three of the parishes—namely, Woodborough (population 717), Lambley (population 690), and Calverton (population 1,064), each of which is seven miles distant from his own residence—he passes, in order to visit his patients, through Arnold, containing 3,572 persons, at a distance of four miles; and in Arnold there resides a legally qualified medical gentleman, who has practised there for at least thirteen years, a man of excellent conduct, and I believe universally respected. He has a strong objection to the tender system, which he has pledged himself never to adopt. He attended several 966 years previous to the formation of the union of the parishes of Arnold, Calverton, and Wood-borough; and applications have since been made to him for a renewal of his services, but the tender system forms the objection to his consenting. He held one district in the union for three years, but finding that the amount of remuneration was inadequate to the duties required of him, he resigned it; and because he would not tender, the district was awarded to an unqualified parson, who, after three months' trial, was dismissed for in competency and neglect of duty. The district is now held by the young man before referred to, who has just commenced practice, and who already holds another district in the same union. The extreme parishes of the two districts are at least twelve miles asunder, so that if a patient living at either of the three parishes requires medical attendance, he has to send seven miles for the medical officer, which will, in urgent cases, require a distance of fourteen miles to be travelled, almost daily, and frequently a distance of twenty-eight miles (if two visits be required in a day), before medicines can be obtained and supplied to the sick person.It was important that the poor should receive medical relief with the least possible delay. In many cases of accident, such as fractures, wounds of blood-vessels, inflammation?, delay was death. The difference of five minutes often, in such cases, made all the distinction between life and death. Were hon. Members who supported such a state of things influenced by feelings of inhumanity or gross ignorance? Tie did not mean to assert that there was no remedy for the evil. In former periods the poor could easily obtain relief from the medical man resident in his own parish or district. He was ready to admit that many abuses existed under the operation of the old law; but has not the present Poor-law produced evils much greater than those which formerly prevailed? He (Mr. Wakley) would propose to the Secretary of State a remedy for the evil The members of the medical profession had taken a deep interest in this subject, it had been much discussed by them. It caused him much regret that he should differ from the profession on the question involved in the mode of administering medical relief to the poor. He was convinced that the view taken by the profession was an erroneous one. This subject had been investigated by several societies, and had been fully inquired into. The right hon. Baronet would see in the second report of the evidence an account of the proceedings of the committee. 967 Before that committee Sir A. Cooper gave some important evidence, which ought, from that distinguished surgeon's ability and knowledge, to have great weight with the House. Sir A. Cooper was asked his opinion of the system of tenders. He replied that it must end in the death of the unfortunate paupers. In confirmation of that opinion, he said,What guarantee have you that the lowest tender is not put in by a surgeon incompetent to perform the duties of the office of medical attendant?Sir A. Cooper spoke most strongly against the system. He proposed that a calculation should be made of the cost of attending each case. All those receiving parochial relief should be entered on a list, and so much per case should be paid to the medical man, and if he attended additional cases, he should be remunerated in the same manner. Having got over the difficulty as to what the payment should be, for it was felt to be a difficulty amongst the medical profession, what he would take the liberty of proposing to the Government was, that medical orders should be made out and placed in the hands of certain persons in every parish —say the clergyman of the parish, the churchwardens, and the overseers, and also the relieving officer; and that a person whom the authorities admitted to be entitled to medical relief, on making application for such an order and receiving it, should then have an opportunity of taking it to any medical practitioner he might think proper, to that one residing nearest to his own home, or to that one in whose ability and attention he had the greatest confidence, and for whom he had the highest regard, and who would attend him for the sum named at the beginning of the year. Such a plan could not add to the expense of the union, although it would give to the person an opportunity of having his choice of a medical practitioner. It too frequently happened that a poor person living at the extreme point of a union was afflicted with sickness, and although their might be a medical practitioner with in half a mile of his residence, and one of great respectability too, the poor creature would be compelled to go or send seven miles to obtain the necessary aid. Was that justice, was that kindness to the poor? It amounted, in a great many instances, to the sacrifice of human life; and he was quite satisfied, 968 that if the House would only investigate the matter, this slate of things would not be allowed to exist after another Session of Parliament. He wished much to read to the House the statement contained in a letter which he received from Uttoxeter in April last, relative to the case of a poor man in a union of sixteen parishes. The writer said,A case has just occurred this last week, where a neighbouring medical man, not the one attached to the union, was sent for to visit an individual, the father of a small family of seven or eight children, and who, when he arrived, found him suffering under deep-seated disease of the lungs, apparently the consequence of neglected bronchitic inflammation, with but faint hopes of recovery. This poor fellow, on being asked why he sent for the medical man in question, and not the union doctor, seeing that he owed for a former attendance, in fact, had not been able to pay for any part of it, replied, ' how could he send so far, a distance of seven miles, and no money to pay the messenger, first for fetching the surgeon, and then the medicine: he had but half a crown in the world, and tendered two shillings of it to pay for the journey, leaving,' as he faintly said, ' to his wife sixpence to pay for a bit of coal they then stood in need of.' This could not be taken, the poor man is still attended to, and the half crown was left as a something to defray the cost of other necessaries a large and poor family may easily be supposed to want, with the principal wholly incapacitated; but who, with proper treatment early enough applied, might have been well and hearty. This is the language of the medical man attending, and whose name I am at liberty to give, and will gladly do so should you wish it.Hundreds, nay, thousands, of similar cases might be adduced to show how badly the present system of medical relief worked for the poor in large unions. He trusted that the right hon. Baronet would take the subject into his consideration, and, if he found the present system could be altered without inconvenience, and without increasing the public expense, seeing also that it would be advantageous to the poor, adopt the plan be had recommended.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, from the calculation which had been made, it would be from 6s. 6d. to 9s, per head. He had referred to the size of the unions; and he believed that the House was of opinion, as the committee of inquiry was, that the unions were too large. If those unions were intended to be continued, it was monstrous 969 to make them so large. Where the unions were small the law worked better than where they were large, because the circumstances of each case could be more accurately investigated. In the next place, he would ask, did the House approve of the mode of electing guardians? Was that a part of the law which "Reformers" liked? Was the present mode of choosing guardians agreeable to the views and feelings of those Gentlemen who advocated the popular cause? What did his hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, say to it? How were the guardians elected now-a-days? First of all, there was no public meeting. There was a quelling of the public spirit at once. And how was the voting carried on? A poor occupant of premises in the parishes who paid his rates would possess but one vote, while the absent owner of larger property would have six votes. Was that a mode of election which the House could approve? Recently, in a parochial election in London, one person put in 1,500 proxies. That must be a pretty system under which such a thing could be done. Under the old law every rate-payer had a right to vote. [An hon. Member: Not under the local acts.] No, not under your local acts, but under the act of Elizabeth before it was spoiled by modern innovations. Sturges Bourne's Act was a shameful innovation; and in looking over the books in the library of the House, he found, to his astonishment, that that act was passed without any discussion whatever. The present law transferred the six votes there given to one man to the absent owner, and that was another great, and gross, and scandalous innovation of the just rights of the rate-payers. He hoped, then, that he might understand the House to consider the unions too large, the mode of electing guardians radically bad, and the medical arrangements very imperfect. What was perfect, then? They had a central board for the purpose of securing uniformity, because the ancient practice presented such a checkered and diversified scene. Well, what had been the system of government adopted by the commissioners who formed that central board? Chairmen of boards of guardians who were Members of that House had said to him, "How can you object to the authority of the commissioners? They never interfere with us. We do just what we like." But was that a system of law? It was despotism. A 970 system which permitted those in office to do just what they pleased was a system of tyranny. There was no law which could be said to be violated under such a system, and the poor must of necessity be left without protection He would now advert to the question of diet. He had heard it stated again and again by hon. Members of that House, that their object in supporting the new Poor-law was to improve the condition of the poor. The object was an uncommonly good one, and very easily professed, but, he feared, not so easily carried into effect. Hon. Members had repeatedly declared that the first object which they had in view was to increase the wages of labour, and to make the English labourer an independent man. Those were all very good objects. He had often heard it alleged that the labourer would become independent, and his wages would be raised, because if he could not get good wages he would fall back upon the workhouse. Of course, the first inference which he drew from this was, that the workhouse was a place of excellent accommodation, in which everything was to be found that could delight the heart and soul of a working man; so that if he were ill-treated by his master— if he did not get the rate of wages to which he was entitled, he could fall back upon this comfortable asylum. But what had the commissioners done? On this point he complained of their conduct more than on others, because he fancied that he could detect at the bottom of it a spirit of wickedness which was altogether unjustifiable. If the commissioners had provided good accommodation for the labouring man in the workhouse, and if the labouring man could not obtain good and remunerative wages, then he could have believed that it was their object to make the labourer an independent man. He would take this for a rule with regard to a workhouse in any locality. Supposing the commissioners found in any locality that wages were high, and that working men were well rewarded and in the receipt of high wages, then he would freely admit that the workhouse there should have no attractions for a working man, because it ought to be held out to him, that while he was in the receipt of high wages he ought to belong to some club or society for depositing his savings, and that he ought not to expect to fall back upon the workhouse. In such a locality, therefore, he would 971 have an exceedingly moderate dietary table. But if be found in another locality that the wages of the labouring man did not exceed 6s. per week, and if his object were to raise the independence of the working man, and make his employer do him justice, then he should make his condition in the workhouse better than his starvation state out of it. But what had the commissioners done? This was a grave charge which he was making against them —one that showed that the power ought not to be left at the entire merry of the commissioners, or of any particular body of men, but that some law ought to exist under which they could seek protection, and some law officer should be appointed to see that protection was secured to them. He begged the attention of the right hon. Baronet to a statement of the weekly allowances to paupers in the London and Cirencester unions. He did not think the right hon. Baronet would applaud the dietary table of the latter union. The allowance to the men, weekly, was—in London, bread, 112 ounces: in Cirencester, bread, ninety-eight ounce?. In London, beef or mutton, twenty-one ounces; in Cirencester, bacon, rive ounces. In London, let it be remembered that wages were high; yet there was a difference of sixteen ounces of meat in its favour above that of Cirencester. In London there were allowed, vegetables, two pounds and a quarter; in Cirencester, potatoes, six pounds: in London, soup, four pints; in Cirencesler, soup, two pints: in London, cheese, fourteen ounces; in Cirencester, cheese, seven ounces: in London, milk-porridge, ten pints and a half; in Cirencester, gruel, seven pints: in London, suet-pudding, sixteen ounces: in Cirencester, suet-pudding, or any other food to correspond, none: in London, beer, eleven pints; in Cirencester, not a drop of beer,; or any other beverage to correspond. Was that the uniformity of the system? If so, then give him London. Such a system was very disgraceful, and, in his opinion, reflected most severely upon the conduct of those who administered the law; and coupled with what he had already quoted from their opinions on the gratitude of the poor, convinced him that the commissioners were incompetent to administer; the law, and did not, in fact, understand i the true principles of a Poor-law. He found a note appended to the two dietary tables, as published in a pamphlet by Mr. 972 Waller, late a Member of that House, a gentleman whose labours in the cause of I the poor deserved all commendation from; every humane-minded Member of the House. That note was as follows:—Infirm persons, and those above seven years of age, to be allowed one ounce of tea with milk, seven ounces of sugar, and three ounces and a half of butter instead of gruel; and twice a week—namely, on Tuesday and Friday, twelve ounces of suet and rice pudding. Children under ten years of age to be dieted at discretion, and above ten years of are, according to the dietary of the women; and the sick according to the orders of the medical officers. The refractory to be allowed sixteen ounces of bread with water per diem.He heard the governor of a workhouse once say, that he considered a man "refractory," who said he did not know whether he should go or not, when he was told to go. That man was actually confined by the master of the workhouse, for such was the nature of the law which I that House had passed, that it actually gave power to the master of a workhouse to place an English subject in solitary confinement at his will. He found further on, that in the London union, one ounce of butter might be allowed for supper instead of two ounces of cheese, or a pint and a half of broth; and that the women were allowed half a pound of sugar per week, while the sick and infirm were to have such wine and beer as the medical attendant might direct. Roast veal and pork were provided on Easter Sunday and Whit Sunday, and roast beef and plum pudding on Christmas-day, in the city of London union. Surely that must have i been an arrangement made by the aldermen. He knew that when the guardians of Kensington gave the poor roast beef and plum pudding on Christmas-day, they had to pay 56l. out of their own pockets for it, for the Poor-law commissioners refused to allow the expense. Oh, the present Poor-law was a rare law ! One much calculated to bring down upon the Legislature the ' admiration of nil noble hearts and intelligent minds! They had absolutely given a receipt for soup, and no doubt it was a very good one. Weights and scales were: provided for each poor-house, to which the paupers were to have access at all; times. That might be a satisfactory arrangement if it could be carried out; and the aldermen probably deserved the credit of making it. It had been alleged again; and again, that the object of the new 973 law was to increase the wages of the working people; but the commissioners had, in districts where the labourers could scarcely exist on the small amount of wages which they received, so modelled the union houses, and so framed the dietary tables, as to hold out no temptation to the working man to enter the workhouse. In fact, the poor man was obliged to reason thus,—" I am offered 7s. per week, for my labour; if I go into the workhouse, what I shall receive will be of the value of 2s. 6d., besides having to submit to the stringent rules of that establishment." Was there any chance, under such circumstances, of the labouring man being raised to a state of independence, or of his condition being improved? None. In most cases, the parties who gave him inadequate wages, were the very parties in whom the administration of relief as guardians vested. Altogether, then, this was a state of things which ought not to continue. If a law of this nature could be enacted in that House—if a Secretary of State could be found to approve of the meagre dietary tables of the commissioners, and if they could confirm the decisions of the boards of guardians, he hoped, that the House would exercise the same authority for the regulation of the dietary tables of the union workhouses which they exercised in framing dietary tables for gaols. Let them take the responsibility upon themselves, and not, by shifting it upon the shoulders of others, make others their scapegoats. Let them determine, themselves, what ought to be the dietary of workhouses. Had the commissioners established a system of uniformity in diet, and that diet had been sufficient for the proper sustenance of the poor, he should not have complained of their conduct in that respect. But when he saw in one union, in the vicinage of which wages were high, that men were allowed twenty-one ounces of fresh meat per week, while in another, where wages were low, they were allowed but seven ounces of salt meat— when he saw, that in the one there was an ample portion of broth, and in the other nothing but wretched gruel—when he saw in the one, that eleven pints of beer were allowed, and in the other none at nil, he was compelled to say, that it was perfectly ridiculous to come down to that House and say, that the practice of the new law had led to uniformity, and that it was a 974 system which ought to be continued. Such a state of things, he repeated, reflected seriously upon the character and conduct of the commissioners. There was a practice in that House which he might as well notice for the information of younger Members. Towards the end of a Session some friend of the Government would bring in a bill which was professedly of a very trivial nature, merely for shaving and powdering a mouse, or something of that sort. At the end of August they resembled shooting-stars, they were here and there and everywhere, and it was difficult to say exactly where they were. By and bye, some discussions would arise, with regard to some one of these little bills, and an objectionable part would, perhaps, he struck out, which, however, would be inserted again in the other House, and thus the bill would pass. He did not mean to say, that the present Government would not propose such bills as well as others. Well, in 1835, a bill was passed at the end of the Session; it received the Royal Assent on the 9th of September. He did not know what the hon. Members who saw that bill expected would be done under it, but he must confess, on looking into the reports of the commissioners, he was exceedingly annoyed at discovering what they had done under the authority of that measure and another, which was passed in the first year, he believed, of her present Majesty's reign. The bill he alluded to was one to authorise the commissioners to sell parish property; and he recollected perfectly well, that he understood it was to apply to the sale of workhouses, and the ground on which workhouses stood. But that was not the case, it appeared. He found, that under this bill the small tenements belonging to parishes had been sold. All the little habitations, as well as the workhouses belonging to parishes, had been brought under the operation of that act. Was it the intention of the House, at the time, that such should be the operation of that measure? An hon. Member behind him said it was; but he would ask, was it the intention of the House, that under that act, the Poor-law commissioners should sell all the dwellings of the poor as well as the old workhouses, and while they thus created a source for obtaining money, leave the poor no habitations at all but the union house? Did the House intend, that the humble tene- 975 merits of the labouring population should be razed to the ground. [No, no !] Oh, yes! but they had been razed to the ground, in many instances; and the transfers of property of that description, effected by sales, under the orders of the Commissioners, had amounted, according to the seventh report, to the enormous number of 3,900. Parish property consisted of two kinds. One description of this property belonged to the ratepayers, and another description belonged to the poor. Of the latter, a large proportion was thus dispossessed of their property, which, though he could not say, that they were possessed of it by any written trust, they were entitled to by tenure, and by that right it belonged to them. What did the commissioners say upon this subject? The commissioners stated, that under the powers conferred by the bill, a large portion of property, consisting for the most part of small tenements, had been disposed of. Some of the property consisted of houses in a state of great dilapidation, which, if suffered to remain, would be places of reception for other persons. To be sure, they would become so. Houses were made for I he reception and occupation of inhabitants; but the object of the commissioners was clearly that there should be no parish property, and that all the poor should be compelled to resort to the workhouse. Now, what was the opinion of Blackstone upon this point? His words were these, when speaking of the statute of Elizabeth, with respect to the poor: —The two great objects of this statute seem to have been,—1. To relieve the impotent poor, and them only. 2. To find employment for such as are able to work. And this principally by providing stocks of raw materials to be worked up at their separate homes, instead of accumulating all the poor in one common workhouse, a practice which puts the sober and diligent upon a level, in point of their earnings, with those who are dissolute and idle, depresses the laudable emulation of domestic industry and neatness, and destroys all endearing family connections, the only felicity of the indigent.Now, if the tenements thus destroyed had been retained, they might have been converted to useful purposes. It would be a highly desirable object to endeavour by law to force the labouring population to the practice of virtue. Might not other influences than those of coercion be resorted to for the purpose? Did hon. Gentlemen imagine that their properties 976 were more secure from plunder, or their persons more safe from violence, because no regard was shown for the wants of the poor, and no efforts made to train them to virtue? He would entreat of the House to weigh the subject well; and he was satisfied that the more they reflected upon it, the more would they be induced to adopt another line of conduct than that which was at present pursued. Much of the immorality and of the vice which was to be found amongst the labouring classes could clearly be traced to the fact, that no reward or inducement was held out for the promotion of good conduct. In the whole of the Poor-law, and throughout the entire of the machinery by which it was carried into operation, there was no contrivance for the reward of good conduct, and no provision by which some slight honour or distinction might mark the last days of those who in their lives had set examples of humble virtue. Now, the tenements to which he had alluded would have answered well for such a purpose, by granting them to well-behaved paupers of a certain age, as places in which they might repose in peace and quiet during the remainder of their lives. Such a course would be far better than the present practice of sending them to prisons, in many instances miles away from all the scenes of their former associations. He did not believe that any hon. Member who heard him would feel gratified with the latter course; but, if the former course were adopted, and if the prospect of reward was held out to deserving paupers at certain periods of their lives, the labouring population would soon become a new race of men, working in tranquillity and contentment, and happy in the position in which circumstances had placed them. He could not help expressing his deep regret that the executive Government had expressed a determination to adhere to the principle of a law which was obnoxious to the best feelings of our nature, and pregnant with danger to the institutions of the country. It was a law of which no portion was worthy of commendation, and if hon. Members, instead of taking their opinions from the published reports, would but take the trouble of visiting the cottages of the poor, would associate themselves with them, in their homes for an hour or a half — inquire into their wants, and make themselves acquainted with their circumstances, they 977 would enter that House with very different views from those which they at present entertained. He was quite certain that they were not aware of the thoughts which passed in the minds of the poorer classes with respect to this law. If they could see what he had seen it would be calculated to show how the poor must feel upon the subject. In one union, where it was necessary to procure a particular body for examination, it was found that the bodies of twenty-six paupers had been thrust into one hole. Could Ministers believe that a system so characterized could be favourable to Conservative views? When the poor man sat in his miserable hovel, were not considerations such as these calculated 10 produce a belief that the wealthier classes were indifferent to his position? It was very true that the rate levied for the relief of the poor amounted to a large sum, but then it should be remembered that the rates were expended in the localities in which they were raised; and it should also be remembered that the poor-rate had not increased in any degree at all proportionate to the increased wealth of the country. Within the space of seventy or eighty years, whilst the one was only increased by the amount of 9 per cent., the other had increased to 40. He felt it necessary to apologize to the House for trespassing on its patience so long, but he must again recommend to their attention what he had said with respect to the medical treatment of the poor, which he considered to be a point of very great importance, and though his views on the subject might appear to be strong, they were not visions conjured up in the closet. They were the result of practical observations, daily deduced from the study of nature's book. Every day the popular feeling against the law became stronger and stronger. An hon. Member near him shook his head at this observation, but he was ready to pledge his existence on statements which he had made, and he was satisfied that the millions of this country would not endure such a state of things much longer. Every poor man in the land was struck with the fear that he might one day become subject to the law, and one poor man, a small rate-payer, said to him—I have now been paying rates for twenty years, I am becoming indigent, and I have no prospect before me but the gaol or the workhouse.978 There were difficulties in the way of this question, but those difficulties could be overcome, if the House agreed to legislate in the spirit of the law of Elizabeth. Would they do that, or on the contrary, would they allow the commissioners to go on, and then say that the poor of this country were divested of gratitude? He hoped the House would take fully into consideration all the feelings connected with this question, and appreciate the advantages which would arise from a state of things in which all classes would live in peace and amity with each other. Why not approach the consideration of the subject in a humane and Christian spirit. The law had originated with a set of Utilitarians, who were prepared to sacrifice everything to what they called the splendid principle of utility. For them they would have gone on and ground the bones of the poor, and used them for manure if they thought it would enrich' the soil. [" Oh, oh."] He did not hesitate to say he believed they would go that length. Some hon. Gentlemen might not be aware of the opinions entertained by that body. They believed it was an affliction to a country that there should be any poor persons in it. He trusted the House would legislate in a spirit that should cause the working men of this country to teach their sons that the gentry were their friends and benefactors. He hoped that when the poor man approached the close of his life, and when his bodily energies began to flag, some provision would be made for him whose exemplary conduct deserved it, so that he might be enabled to call his children around him, and point out to them the reward which his deserving had procured, and tell them that so long as they proved virtuous the high and mighty in the land would not be unmindful of their welfare. If this were done there would be no fear of midnight conspiracy or crime, nor would any tremble through the night, in apprehension of the scenes which they might be doomed to witness in the morning.
§ Mr. Ward
would make no apology for troubling the House, after the roost extraordinary speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Finsbury, for he was not one disposed to sit down quietly under the imputation of giving a vote or pursuing a course, being actuated in so doing by what the hon. Member termed the foulest feelings that could disgrace the human 979 mind. He was not disposed to submit calmly to the accusation of having wilfully supported a bill, framed, as the hon. Member was pleased to say, in the spirit of wickedness, and fraught with injustice and cruelty. He would say nothing of the taste of the hon. Member for Finsbury, who was as audacious in his language in that House as he was cowardly in his: political acts, for he never carried out his words by his votes. Nevertheless, the speech of the hon. Member bad surprised him, because on a former occasion he had told the House he had arrived at the conclusion that the subject was one of deep importance, one with respect to which no exciting language ought to be used, but which should be discussed with sobriety and calmness, and yet the hon. Member had thought proper to taunt and vilify those who had supported the bill from the most conscientious motives, and upon the honest conviction that it was a good bill for the working classes of this country— nay, they knew it was a good bill, and they were prepared to defend its principles against the attacks of the hon. Member. The hon. Gentleman had said, that the supporters of that bill were prepared to grind the bones of the poor and use them for manure, if they thought it would enrich the soil.
§ Mr. Ward
The hon. Member had said that the Poor-law Bill had originated with an Utilitarian Society of which the Bishop of London was the head, and said that all who approved of that bill, who concurred in its principles, were men who were prepared to grind the bones of the poor, if they thought it would answer their own unworthy ends. What had been the hon. Member's ground of attack? He had said that the effect of the law was to take from the rate-payers, the management of their own funds. No such thing. The effect of the law had been to institute a better system of management of those local funds, which theretofore had been most miserably mismanaged, and to restore the true meaning of the noble act of Elizabeth. Did not the hon. Member know that the Administration of that law of Elizabeth had been characterised by the grossest absurdity and most miserable fatuity? And 980 was it not a gross error to talk of the better condition of the poor under the old law! Had the hon. Member never heard of men being harnessed to carts, and of women being forced to drag loads up hills under that system he so highly eulogised? Under the old Administration of the Poor-laws every motive for bad conduct had been given, for then the idle and the dissolute argued that, when their means were expended, they had nothing to do but to fall back upon the parish. The hon. Member had chosen to assert that the New Poor-law had put the poor out of the pale of constitutional right. No such thing. It put them under a system of administration they had never had before —a system which established a direct system of responsibility. The Poor-law commissioners were directly responsible to the Government, and the Government was responsible to that House. In every discussion it had been shown that no abuse could be committed, nor act of oppression perpetrated, under the power of the law without being quickly brought to light. Few knew the mystery of iniquity that was in daily practice under the old system, which was converting the population of this country into the most demoralised in the world. The hon. Member had spoken of the power of the commissioners, and, objecting to that concentrated power, he had contended that the resident guardians would be the more fitting persons to wield it. He was as little inclined to closet theories as the hon. Member himself; he had mixed much with the world in all classes. He represented a manufacturing constituency, and he resided in an agricultural district, and he could speak from experience as to what was the feeling on this subject of local responsibility. There was a general anxiety that the Legislature should not interfere with the law in that respect—that it should not repeal or spoil by crude and hasty measures a bill which was admitted to be the best that had been passed since the Reform Bill. Such was the general feeling without distinction of party. At the time when that very question of local responsibility was under discussion there were certain guardians, clever men, men perfectly conversant with the working of the law, who had said to him, "Put no responsibility on our shoulders. We have an onerous and difficult task as it is, but then we have certain fixed principles laid down which we can administer." 981 One of those guardians bad told him (Mr. Ward) there was a feeling of honor in reference to the hon. Member for Finsbury, and his proposals, and had said, "If you give boards of guardians absolute power to act, we should be worse off" than under the old system, for we should have a Wakley at every board, and have our houses burnt down if we did not go along with him." Those were the very words that were used. They were not very respectful to the hon. Member for Fins-bury, but they showed how much that hon. Member mistook the feeling of the agricultural population of this country. They did not wish for more responsibility— they had a dread of it; they wished to have the power of dealing calmly and deliberately with the questions brought before them, and of applying their conscientious attention to the task which the law imposed upon them, and a very onerous task it was. Less onerous, however, than it was some years ago, because the ameliorations which the operation of the law had introduced into the habits and condition of the labouring poor in many districts of the country, and especially in the southern districts, where the provisions of the old law were more particularly abused, were so marked, so decided, and so unequivocal, that he did not think the hon. Member for Finsbury himself would question them if he had had the means of witnessing them. Then the hon. Member talked of medical relief; and he invoked the shade of Sir Astley Cooper to prove that there was no provision made under the present law for immediate parochial relief. The union workhouses, he said, were obliged to send seven or ten miles for a medical practitioner at times when a delay of five minutes might end in the death of the sufferer, and inhumanity, he asserted, was the rule of the law in this respect as well as in all others. Had the hon. Member read the 52d clause of the act? Did he not know that there was at the close of that clause a special provision for every casualty that might occur? Was he not aware that the 52d clause empowered every guardian in a rural parish (for it was in those parishes only that the emergency could arise), instantly to have recourse to any medical practitioner on whom he could lay his hand, and to make a separate charge for the expenses incurred in such emergencies? He apprehended that that 982 provision of the law was amply sufficient, if properly administered by the guardians, to provide for every case of sudden emergency. The hon. Member then alluded to the dietary tables, arid contrasted the table of the city of London with that of the rural districts. The dietary table of the city of London, which the hon. Member so much applauded, was not one that he would undertake to defend. It might seem harsh to say so, but in his opinion, a workhouse dietary which gave to paupers a greater amount of food than the independent labourer could command by his utmost exercise was indefensible. The natural standard to take of these things was the amount of comfort that the independent labourer could procure by the work of his hands. The comforts afforded by the London diet table were greater than could be commanded even by the inferior rate-payer. He had no wish to introduce again into this discussion any of those party allusions which were made in a previous singe of it. He had the less wish to do so, because he had had the pleasure of hearing from the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, one of the most manly, rational, and plain-spoken speeches in reference to this bill and all its provisions, that he had ever listened to from the lips of any person charged with the Government of this country. The right hon. Baronet, as it appeared to him, took the perfectly prudent and practical course. He did not pledge himself to all the details of the bill. It had now been seven years in operation, and it was not only probable, but certain, that there were many parts of it in which, with the general concurrence of those who approved its principle, considerable changes might be made. Any change made without impairing the principle of the act— any proposal to humanize and soften the severity with which some of its provisions were made to bear upon industrious and deserving men—any such proposal he was satisfied would meet with the general concurrence of that House. He had listened to the intimation made by the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham), that such would be the course of the Government, with as much pleasure as to that part of his speech in which he announced that it was the intention of Ministers to adhere to the main principles of the act. After the statement made by the 983 right hon. Baronet, he (Mr. Ward) should consider himself unworthy of the seat which he held in that House, if he did not fairly take his share of the responsibility of stating his entire concurrence in the principle of the act, as well as in the course which Government proposed to pursue in reference to it. To that course he hould give his cordial support. He would not at that moment, enter into any further details. He had perhaps spoken rather warmly at the commencement of his observations, but the provocation was really much greater than he felt himself called upon to endure. He would now only repeat, that he should give his cordial support to the course which the Government intended to pursue, and that when the bill should be brought forward next year, he hoped the House, for the sake of its own character and credit, would enter upon the discussion in a better tone and spirit than had been exhibited in the debate of that night.
§ Mr. S. Wortley
had, on the night previous, expressed the view which he took of a part of this subject. It appeared to him that the instruction offered by the hon. Member for York was one that went to open up the whole subject of the Poor-law Amendment Act, and that, under the circumstances now existing, it would be more consistent with the dignity and regularity of the proceedings of the House, and, indeed, with common sense and reason, that they should defer a question of the sort involved in the hon. Gentleman's motion until they could take the whole subject in hand, and deal with it as became a legislative body. But there was one of the instructions, now moved by the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Crawford), to which he thought that objection did not so strongly apply, namely, that the question being at this moment in a state of abeyance, it was but fair that the act should not be carried further into effect during the time that the Government and the legislature were making up their minds as to what the law should ultimately be. He certainly thought it no unreasonable request to make, that no more of the unions should be obtruded upon parts of the country where they did not at present exist until it was known what the new system was to be. That he understood to be the whole effect of the hon. Gentleman's first instruction, and it appeared to him that the adoption of it would not offer any impediment or obstruction to 984 the Government in considering the question. He thought, therefore, that it would be fair to vote in favour of that proposition. With regard to the other instruction offered by the hon. Gentleman, he confessed he did not take precisely the same view of it. It appeared to him that that instruction much as he agreed in its general tenor, was liable in a great degree to the same objections as the instruction offered on the previous night by the hon. Member for York. It went entirely to forbid the application of the rule relating to out-door relief from the present time. He was not prepared to go that length, because he felt that if he were to do so, it must open the whole subject, and he might be interfering, without sufficient knowledge of the subject, to prevent the application of this regulation in parts of the country where it was possible it might be absolutely required. These were the views which he took of the two instructions offered by the hon. Member for Rochdale; and he could not close his remarks upon them without taking the opportunity of expressing the pleasure with which he had heard the judicious and conciliatory observations of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, upon the subject of the Poor-law commissioners, not that he entirely concurred in the view taken by his right hon. Friend. His right hon. Friend talked of adhering strictly to the principle of the act. He should give some reasons for dissenting from that view. He owned, however, that he had listened with great pleasure to the encomiums passed by his right hon. Friend upon the conduct of the commissioners, in instances where they had paid deference to public opinion, and introduced ameliorations into the administration of the law. He took these encomiums, on the part of the country, as an earnest from his right hon. Friend, that he felt it to be his duty to watch over the operation of the act, and to see that it was carried into execution in a manner consistent with the dictates of humanity. His right hon. Friend had gone as far as it was possible for one in his situation to go. He had gone to the very brink of that caution which it was his duty to preserve. He stated that he approved of concessions to public opinion and that he was anxious to promote the relaxation of rigid rules. He (Mr. Wortley) took his right hon. Friend at his word, and upon the assurance, that he objected to the rigid enforcement of rigorous rules, would consent to take the 985 bill now proposed upon trust for the interval that must elapse between the present time, and the period at which the amended act would be brought forward. He was quite aware, that the real question before the House, at the present moment, was not whether the Poor-law Amendment Act should be continued, but whether that portion of it should be continued which established the Poor-law commission. That was the real question, and under ordinary circumstances, he should not have felt it necessary to say any more than he had already taken the liberty of offering to the House upon the subject. But it appeared to him, that the circumstances under which they were discussing the question were not of an ordinary character. This bill to continue the commission for a year, was introduced in order to give a new Government time to consider the whole subject. It was introduced into a Parliament lately returned by the country, and which comprised within its ranks many Members who had never before had an opportunity of taking part in the discussions upon the subject of the Poor-laws. He stood in that situation himself, and he owned, that having only lately met a large body of his constituents, with whom this question possessed an intense interest, he felt it his duty to ask the House to permit him to extend his remarks upon it. It was necessary, that he should do so for two reasons—first, that he might not himself be misrepresented, as he found he had been—having opinions ascribed to him which were of a stronger and more sweeping character than any he had ever entertained or uttered; and, secondly, because he was anxious to exculpate himself from the imputation that he had used language in reference to this subject upon the hustings, which he shrunk from repeating or adhering to, when he came into that House. He owned, that with respect to the first of these difficulties, he might make up his mind to remain silent; to allow the mere misrepresentation of private opinion to pass. But he trusted that the House would not think him irrational if he felt the deepest anxiety to acquit himself wholly and entirely even of the suspicion, that he was capable of deceiving those from whom he had received the great trust which he held, and of representing himself to them in a character which he was not prepared to maintain in that House. He had been the subject of specific attacks and insinuations in that respect. The hon. Member for Halifax had last night talked of the 986 language which had been used—of the war-cry of "No Poor-law" which was to be heard throughout the district for the representation of which he (Mr. Wortley) was a candidate. But was there not, at the same time, a war-cry of "No Corn-laws," and "untaxed bread?" If these matters were to be taken into consideration at all, it was only fair to look at both sides. He had never used the expression, "no Poor-law," himself; but he knew, that the war-cry of "no Corn-laws," and "untaxed loaves," was made use of in support of Gentlemen who proposed to lay a duty of Ss. a-quarter upon corn, and in support of a Government which had been five years in office, not only doing nothing for the Corn-laws, but opposing every possible resistance to any alteration of them, the head of the Government little more than a year before, having pronounced it madness to attempt an alteration, and that even the agitation of the question of a fixed duty, would shake society to its foundation. That being the case, he asked whether it was just to impute to him expressions of the same description, that were used by his supporters, whilst expressions of a contrary kind were as freely used by the supporters of the hon. Gentlemen opposite? Then the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Charles Buller) last night, in a speech which no doubt was intended to be facetious, and with a series of the complacent sneers which formed a frequent characteristic of his oratory, seemed to insinuate that he (Mr. S. Wortley) had made use of violent expressions upon the hustings as to the course he intended to pursue with reference to the Poor-laws, but that he was now ready to abate his opposition to them, and to allow the question to stand over for fear of embarrassing his Friends the Government. If that hon. Gentleman were present, he would give to him and to the House in general the most solemn assurance that he had never to his knowledge, upon any occasion whatever, made use of any one of the expressions to which the hon. Gentleman referred. During his canvass he was frequently asked whether he would go against ! the whole law and vote for its repeal? He had invariably answered that he would do no such thing—that he believed it required amendment, but that he would not consent to make it a party question. He felt that he ought, perhaps, to beg pardon of the House for the seeming egotism of the remarks he had just made. He should 987 gladly have avoided it; but it appeared to him, that after what had passed within those walls, after the sneers and insinuations which had been thrown out merely because he had been returned by a large I body of constituents who rejected two of the party opposite—after that it appeared to him that he might, perhaps, not be considered as trespassing too much upon the patience of the House if he availed himself; of the opportunity to set himself straight. He would now take the liberty of explaining as briefly as he could, the view which he took of the subject immediately before the House. In the first place he conceived that in point of strict order and regularity the House was perfectly justified in going into a discussion of the administration of the law upon that occasion; because it must be recollected that the greater number of points to which objections were taken were not integral of the Poor-law act, but parts of the regulations of the commissioners, whose existence was about to be prolonged by the bill upon the table. With respect to the existence of the commission, he was not one of those, and never had been, who said that the constitution of the board was altogether inadmissible, and that it was wholly and totally unjustifiable that such a board should be established. He could conceive that there were parts of the country (parts with which he was not at all acquainted) where grievous and extensive abuses under the old system rendered it indispensable that some such superintending body should exercise a general control. But granting all that, he thought no man would hesitate to concede; at least, this much, that the powers given to the commissioners were very unusual and extensive, and that in some degree they were unconstitutional. He did not pretend to say that in cases of emergency unconstitutional powers should not be given to certain functionaries for certain purposes. But, admitting that, he must take leave to say, that the Legislature, finding itself compelled to establish such powers, was bound not only to watch over the execution of them, but to guard against the undue continuation of them. Such powers were not justifiable for one moment beyond the period that they were absolutely necessary. There was another point upon which he frit very strongly. In his opinion, one of the most valuable parts of the social institutions of this country—one of those which we might well prize amongst the very best, was the habit of local self-Government 988 which we had enjoyed from the earliest ages. This was not his opinion alone, it was the opinion of many of the best and wisest men of all times. On this subject he could quote no higher authority than that of a great foreign writer. M. de Tocqueville who showed that tin's system of local Government was one of the most valuable principles attaching to the British constitution. At the same time, there might be occasions when it would be necessary to interfere with this practice of self-government; but all he asserted was, that in deliberating on such powers as those given to the commissioners, they were justified in considering that those powers were in themselves unconstitutional, and unusually extensive, and in declaring that they should not be maintained longer than the necessity existed. Now, with respect to the administration of the law by the commissioners, he would first of all ask the House to attend to what appeared to him to be one great objection to it. The enormous size of the unions which were established was a point greatly objected to. He thought, that the extent of the unions in many parts of the country was wholly unnecessary, and totally unjustifiable. Let the House consider what had been the language used by those who, at the time of the passing of the act, explained the intentions of its authors. In May, 1834, Lord Althorp, in talking of Marylebone, which it was suggested might be thrown into a union, said,The parish of Marylebone has quite sufficient to do with paying attention to its own affairs; and it is utterly absurd for hon. Gentlemen opposite to think of there being any union formed with a parish of that description and extent.In the House of Lords, the Chancellor, Lord Brougham, used language still stronger. He said,There never was such a bugbear conjured up to fright men's minds as to suppose that the parishes of a whole county are to be united, and that all the paupers of large districts, whether agricultural or manufacturing, are to be brought together and to be placed in one immense prison. If the commissioners be not absolutely deranged they will never attempt anything of this kind. The sole object of this clause is to put a convenient number of parishes together—probably some six or seven—for the purpose of having a common workhouse, and of managing it economically.And yet they found, that unions now existed, consisting of from fifty to sixty 989 townships, and superintended by seventy or eighty guardians. In the appendix to the reports of the Poor-law commission it was stated by Sir John Walsham, that the number of elected guardians in Northumberland, Durham, and Cumberland, was not less than from fifty to eighty: the number of townships was from thirty-nine to seventy-seven, and the amount of population from 14,000 to 31,000. The commissioners had lately been forming unions in the north of England, and the strongest instance he could quote was that of the union of Manchester. From the last report it appeared, that the township of Manchester contained 142,000 souls. One would naturally have thought, that this was a tolerably sufficient population for one union, and as large as any board of guardians could manage with any degree of satisfaction. However, the commissioners had added to it no less than eleven townships, with a population of 22,000 souls. He did not think, that in thus acting the commissioners were executing the provisions of the act according as they were originally represented to the country; and the commissioners seemed to have altogether mistaken the spirit with which authority was conferred on them by Parliament. With regard to the second instruction which was to be submitted to the consideration of the House, that was also a point depending on the regulations of the commissioners, and with respect to it the commissioners had, in his opinion, taken a wrong course. They seemed to lay down the principle that the workhouse should be the rule, and out-door relief the exception. He maintained, that they ought to lay down precisely the reverse principle. He thought, that out-door relief should be given wherever it possibly could be given without mischief; and the workhouse should never be made a condition of relief wherever it could be safely dispensed with. He never pretended to be one of those who denounced the workhouse system altogether. It had not been created for the first time by the New Poor-law, but had been established by the 9th of George 1st. Still he thought, that if the guardians appointed to dispense relief could satisfy themselves by any reasonable proof, that the applicant for relief was a bonâ fide applicant, having by law a right to assistance from the state, in that case relief should be afforded out of the workhouse. But the workhouse might be used in cases where it was necessary to offer a check to the ap- 990 plications of those who were ascertained to be impostors, or in those parts of the country where abuses of the Poor-law existed most extensively. He could conceive that in many parts of the country such was the extent of intimidation, and such the impediments to the administration of the Poor-law, that it was unavoidably necessary to introduce some check to a corrupt system. On referring to what took place in the course of the discussions on the original introduction of the bill, he found that assurances were given, that in parts of the country where no change was required, the commissioners would have the discretion of withholding the application of its enactments. In June, 1834, Lord Althorp observed:—It certainly will not be a part of the duty of the commissioners to include all the parishes of Ibis country in unions. They will have the power of forming parishes into unions wherever they may think it desirable to do so; but there is no clause in the bill which makes such a duly imperative on them.He believed, from what he had heard, that some of the commissioners entertained different views, and considered the act compulsory on them. With respect to those parts of the country where the Poor-law was already well administered, additional assurances were given by Lord Althorp that the then existing system should not be interfered with. That noble Lord said:—With respect to the hope expressed by the hon. Member for Marylebone, that the commissioners would not interfere with parishes which are well regulated, I will only say that I hope so too. All the interference that need be had with them will be to follow their example.He (Mr. Wortley) came from a part of the country in which, though he did not pretend to say that no abuses existed under the old system, yet he would state that there was not that extensive prevalence of abuse which called for a violent change; and, therefore, it was unjust to introduce there all the provisions of the New Poor-law. There was a great difference with respect to the administration of the old system in I different parts of the country. In the southern parts, where great abuses existed, there was a desire on the part of the population to have a change introduced and supported by the Executive. But in the part of the country with which he was connected there was no one single class of the population, from the highest to the 991 lowest—from the ratepayer to the pauper (he did not speak of individuals)—that desired the introduction of the new system in accordance with the theory of the commissioners. Those parts of the country had therefore a right to claim an exemption from the operation of the law. The only argument he had ever heard urged against their exemption was, that it was desirable to provide uniformity of system. Uniformity might be very well, but they should consider the price they paid for it. He feared, that in endeavouring to attain uniformity, they would be violating the strongest feelings of the people, and committing an injustice on the several classes of the population. On what principle was uniformity insisted on? Under the present bill they had anything but uniformity, for with respect to unions formed under local acts, and with reference also to the Gilbert unions, the commissioners were not allowed to interfere. So much for the principle of uniformity in those cases. The Government who passed the measure had equally discarded the principle of uniformity in framing the Rural Police Act; so that it was too much to put forward this principle as a reason for such great changes- Then, with respect to the advantages which were to be gained by the population of those parts of the country where the commissioners were seeking to intrude their system, he would undertake to say that the advantages which would be derived there from the adoption of that system would be so small, that not only would they prove no compensation, but, in his opinion, they afforded no justification for the violence which the introduction of that system would do to the feelings of the people. There was one other point on which he had a few remarks to make, although he was ready to adroit that it could not be discussed on this occasion so correctly under the forms of the House as those points to which he had been referring. Hitherto he had been speaking of those parts of the Poor-law which depended on the continuance of the commission; the discussion of these was in strict order. But there was one more point on which he begged the indulgence of the House while he said a few words, and which related to an independent part of the act; he meant that part of the act called the bastardy clauses. He knew very well that under the old law very considerable abuses had crept in relative to this subject. The change had been made, as was said at the time, in order to 992 follow the course of nature, its operation being to throw on the woman the whole weight of the crime. He owned he was not quite able to see the matter in this point of view. What did the commissioners themselves say? "Bastardy cases will no doubt occur of much hardship and cruelty; but the object of the law is not to punish but to prevent." Now, this sounded very plausibly, but what did it amount to in reality? When the commissioners said, that the object of the law was not to punish but to prevent, that amounted to saying what appeared to him to be perfectly unmeaning. How did men proceed when they wished to prevent crime, but by punishing crime as it arose. If they had said, that the object of the law was not to revenge but to prevent, there would have been some meaning in what they said. But he held, that the object of this and all laws having anything of a penal character, was to prevent by punishing, and he said, therefore, that this reasoning furnished no support for the conduct of those who had recommended the introduction of this provision into the act. His firm conviction was, that the working of these clauses, perhaps not in the agricultural districts, with which he did not profess to be minutely acquainted, but certainly in the manufacturing parts of the country, had been very pernicious. There it was the case, he believed, that by a portion of the male population they had been considered as a free charter conceded to them by Parliament. He thought, that great evil had been produced by this part of the act, and that it was right, therefore, that it was but fair, that Parliament should consider the wide difference that existed between the states of society in the agricultural and manufacturing districts, when they come to legislate on the subject. In the agricultural districts the young woman was in some degree fortified against this species of delinquency. He knew how difficult it was to speak on this subject without exciting the risible faculties of some hon. Members, still the subject must be discussed as a matter of business. The truth was, that in the manufacturing districts the female was far more thrown in the way of temptation, than in the agricultural; she was shut up in factories with the other sex, as they were told by the Factory Commissioners, for very long periods together; she was thus exposed, when very young, to great temptations, and she was thrown into that situation without any safeguards of virtue; 993 and being so thrown in the way of temptation, he believed it to be unquestionable as a matter of fact, and it was not unnatural, and quite to be expected, that the consequence was, these clauses worked perniciously in the highest degree among such a population. This was nearly all that he had to address to the House at present, but before he sat down he wished to repeat what had been said by him before, and adopted by one of his late opponents—that he thought in this discussion the House ought to take for its guidance a spirit of tenderness and kind feeling for the poor; and was it not reasonable, that they should do so? Who were the parties whom this law most affected? Who, but the poor, who formed the main portion, the bulk of the population of this country, and on whom, as a class, they were most dependent? He, therefore, was not using too strong language, and, in his opinion, it was no exaggerated language to use, when he said, that it was the duty of the House to approach the consideration of this subject with tenderness to those classes of the population whom they intended principally to be affected by the law. Saving this, he could not refrain from adding, that when it was imputed to him, that he had employed sentiments of this kind for occasional purposes, that was imputed to him which he had not ever been guilty of. He repeated, therefore, that he thought the discussion of this measure ought to be conducted by the Legislature keeping this principle clearly and steadily in view, and that if the Legislature should adopt the same view of the obligation to do so as himself, it would be better, that they should err on the side of tenderness than on that of too much rigour.
Mr. R. Yorke
rose amidst cries of "Divide" and "Question," and a cry in an undertone of "Yorke, you are not wanted." He begged the attention of the House for a few minutes while he addressed to them a few words, not in answer to the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire, for to answer the hon. Member he should not attempt, because, having a Parliamentary connexion with that part of the country, and knowing, therefore, the great power of lungs, and great facility of expression without an adequate power of comprehending a continuous idea, which was sometimes found in persons who came thence, he should not venture to trespass so far on the time of the House. He would only say, in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for the West 994 Riding, that to a portion of it he acceded— he thought that part was conceived in an admirable spirit; from another portion he disagreed, and as to the rest of it, he would say nothing, because he had not the faculty of understanding it. There; was one statement, however, which had been made that was either truth or falsehood; if it was true it ought to be attended to immediately; if false it ought to be exposed. The statement was, that great distress prevailed in the country— not that kind of distress which he feared was incident to any state or country, but distress of a kind which formed an epoch in human misery. If this was so he said the time was come when the Legislature ought to depart from laws which might be beneficial perhaps if left to exercise their legitimate effect in ordinary times, but were not suited for a time like this, and he should therefore support the proposition for giving to guardians on the spot the opportunity of assisting immediately cases of pressing misery as they came before them. The guardians on the spot were the persons best qualified to judge of the fitness of administering or withholding relief.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, that an hon. Member had been talking something about the luxurious enjoyment in the Poor-law union workhouses, and that hon. Gentleman had asked him in what part of Lincolnshire it was that the independent labourer—for independent labourers he asserted that there were in that county— ever took those luxuries, namely, meat, except on Christmas-day and one other day in the year. Now, he (Colonel Sib-thorp) could tell him that in the very parish in which he resided, and in other parts of Lincolnshire, the independent labourer had from 12s. to 15s. a-week. There was scarcely a day in the week on which he and his family did not partake of this luxury, as it was called, of meat. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would do him the honour to pay him (Colonel Sib-thorp) a visit, and see how these things were in Lincolnshire. Though he had said last night, and he had no objection to repeat it, that he placed great confidence in her Majesty's present Ministers, yet he must say he had heard with some regret the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department (Sir J. Graham) state his determination to adhere to the principle of the Poor-law Amendment Act. To 995 that act he had given his constant opposition. It was well known in this House that the very name of commissioners was odious to him, and to this commission he had given the greatest opposition of any that ever came before the House. He confessed he thought that when the right hon. Baronet told them that he should adhere to the principle of the measure he was pursuing a consistent course, if he showed some consideration for that class of people whom this law principally affected, and voted against extending the operation of the law. To the whole system of the Poor-law he objected, considering it most unconstitutional, most degrading, and most unsatisfactory to the people at large, and to those in a somewhat higher class, who had shown no inaptitude that he knew of for the local management of the affairs of their own poor. With such feelings as his in regard to the commissioners, he could not support any measure which went to maintain the power of that body. He, therefore, felt it his duty, though he had supported the Government in their resistance to what amounted to an interference with the internal management of the poor, to support the hon. Member, as he should to support any one who interfered to prevent any additional attempt to extend the powers of the commissioners.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 49; Noes 131: Majority 82.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Hollond, R.|
|Aldam, W.||Johnstone, A.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Lawson, A.|
|Beckett, W.||Leader, J. T.|
|Borthwick, P.||Masterman, J.|
|Broadwood, H.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Morris, D.|
|Brotherlon, J.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Buckley, E.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Cobden, R.||O'Connell, M.J.|
|Collins, W.||Paget, Colonel|
|Colville, C. R.||Paget, Lord W.|
|Dick, Q.||Pechell, Captain|
|Egerton, W. T.||Rennie, G.|
|Escott, B.||Scarlett, hon. R. C.|
|Fielden, J.||Sibthorp, Colonel|
|Fitzroy, Captain||Wakley, T.|
|Fleetwood, Sir P. H.||Watson, W. H.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Wigney, I. N.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Hardy, J.||Wyndham, Colonel|
|Harford.S.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||TELLERS.|
|Heathcote, J.||Crawford, S.|
|Hanley, J. W.||Ferrand, W. B.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acton, Colonel||Howard, hon. H.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Allix, J. P.||Ingestrie, Viscount|
|Antrobus, E.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Arbuthnott, hon. H.||Johnson, W. G.|
|Bagge, W.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Baird, W.||Jones, Captain|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Kemble, H.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Ker, D. S.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Knatchbull, right hon. Sir E.|
|Bodkin, W. H.|
|Boldero.H. G.||Knight, H. G.|
|Boscawen, Lord||Larpent, Sir G. de H.|
|Botfield, B.||Layard, Captain|
|Bowes, J.||Legh, G. C.|
|Bowling, Dr.||Leicester, Earl of|
|Broadley, H.||Lindsay, H H.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Lockhart, W.|
|Buller, C.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Lyall, G.|
|Burrell, Sir.C. M.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Campbell, A,||MacGeachy, F. A.|
|Clayton, R. R.||March, Earl of|
|Clerk, Sir G.||Marsham, Viscount|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Martin, C. W.|
|Cochrane, A.||Morgan, O.|
|Cole, hon. A. H.||Munday, E. M.|
|Coote, Sir C. H.||Neville, R.|
|Courtenay, Viscount||Newry, Viscount|
|Crosse, T. B.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Darby, G.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Philips, M.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Planta, right hon. J.|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Polhill, F.|
|Duncan, G.||Pollock, Sir F.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Pringle, A.|
|Emlyn, Viscount||Rawdon, Colonel|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Reade, W. M.|
|Ferguson, Colonel||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Fleming, J. W.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Forbes, W.||Rushbrooke, Colonel|
|Forster, M.||Scott, hon. F.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Shaw, right hon. F.|
|Gaskell, J. Milnes||Sheppard, T.|
|Gladstone,rt hn.W.E.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Gore, M.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Goring, C.||Stanley, Lord|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Stuart, H.|
|Granger, T. C.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Greene, T.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Grimston, Viscount||Tennent, J. E.|
|Grogan, E.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Trotter, J.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Tumor, C.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Hardinge, rt.hn.SirH.||Verner, Colonel|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Hodgson, R.||Vivian, hon. Captain|
|Holdsworth, J.||Ward, H. G.M|
|Wood, Colonel T.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
§ Mr. Crawford
moved the second instruction, of which he had given notice as follows:—That it bean instruction to the committee, that they have power to make provision in the bill, that it shall not be lawful for the commissioners to disallow, by any general or other order, any payments which shall be made by the authority of a board of guardians for the relief of any poor persons or their families out of the workhouse, notwitlistandiagany powers given to them by the Act 4 and 5 Will. 4, c. 76, to the contrary.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, that he should support the amendment, and he thought, that the House was bound to support it. The House had been informed from several quarters, that distress prevailed in particular parts of the country, and he thought that the House ought to show some disposition to take measures for relieving that distress, by giving to guardians authority to exercise a discretionary power, according as circumstances might require. He should not have troubled the House with any further observations, were it not that the hon. Gentleman opposite, the Member for Sheffield, had addressed the House just now in a tone which did not indicate a kindly feeling on his part; and the hon. Member had, he thought, given him just cause of complaint, for he had imputed to him expressions which he had not used; and the hon. Member for Sheffield had thought proper to read him a lecture, in the course of which he imputed to him cowardice for not having divided last night in conformity with the sentiments which he had expressed in the course of the debate. He supposed, that the language of the hon. Member was Parliamentary—that such language was admitted in debate. He should be the last in the world to wish to curtail the freedom of debate; but he must take the liberty to say, that the hon. Member ought not to have taken upon himself to read such a lecture to any one. The hon. Member ought to have been the last man in that House to have done anything of the sort. It would be recollected, that at the commencement of the present Session the hon. Member for Rochdale had moved an Amendment to the Address, and on that occasion who amongst the hon. Members opposite was the first to resort to a 998 cowardly flight? Who was the first to betray that sort of moral cowardice, of which he now took upon himself to be so severe a censor? But that was not all. If the case simply affected the hon. Member for Sheffield, it would be of very little importance. But there was not only cowardice in that House, there was cowardice amongst the hoard of guardians, to which that hon. Member belonged. The House had heard the hon. Member detail a conversation which had taken place between himself and one of the members of the board of guardians to which he belonged. If any such conversation did take place, perhaps the hon. Member would be at the trouble of stating who the individual was with whom he had held it. If he recollected right, that hon. Member had stated that the guardian to whom reference had been made, expressed an anxious desire that he and his fellow-guardians should be relieved from all responsibility. They cried out, "For God's sake don't alter our position, we don't want to lake upon ourselves any responsibility; we want to have the Poor-law commissioners to fall back upon." What a valiant group ! He had now nothing more to say, but this, that if the House discharged their duty, they would throw upon the guardians that responsibility from which no men in their situations ought to shrink.
§ Mr. Ward
hoped, that the House would, under the circumstances, allow him to say a few words. If he had used the word "cowardly" in any unparliamentary manner — if he had used any language that was too strong, he now begged to express his regret. He had not forgotten: the course which he had himself pursued on the occasion of the amendment to the Address moved by the hon. Member for Rochdale. He neither forgot that occasion, nor desired to apologise for his conduct, or to retract anything that he had said, and he was now prepared to say, that under similar circumstances he should again pursue a line of conduct precisely similar. With respect to the hon. Member for Finsbury, what he endeavoured to do on the former occasion, was to contrast the boldness of his language with the diffidence of his acts. He had told the House that he, above all men, was the best enabled to give them advice —that he had paid the closest attention to the working of the Poor-laws; yet this 999 hon. Member, so well qualified to form a judgment, declined to vote. The hon. Member did what he had done in a very different case, when the question was not so simple and obvious as that on which the hon. Member refused to vote, but when it was one which involved the whole course of conduct pursued by a Ministry going out, and that which was expected to be pursued by one coming into office — the cases were totally different. As to the conduct of the board of guardians to which it was said, that he belonged, he felt bound to say, that he attended its meetings very rarely, except during the first year of his connexion with it, and for these reasons—that he had not time to be a constant attendant, and that he did not think it right for ex officio guardians to attend occasionally, and interfere with the proceedings of those who, from being frequently present, were the best qualified to carry on the business of the union. He desired to repeat, that the conversation, which he stated to the House on a former occasion, had been held with himself, and it was only fair that he should then say, that the person with whom he held them had not expressed any fear of responsibility, but a reluctance to undertake the duty of determining principle, in dealing with every individual case. He wished for the sanction and authority of the commissioners, lest, as he said, some Mr. Wakley should denounce him. These were the sentiments of that person, though he would not mention his name without his permission.
§ The House again divided. Ayes 32; Noes 146:—Majority 114.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Fielden, J.|
|Aldam, W.||Ferrand, W. B.|
|Baldwin, C. B.||Fleetwood, Sir P. H.|
|Borthwick, P.||Hardy, J.|
|Broadwood, H.||Harford, S.|
|Brotherton, J.||Heathcoat, J.|
|Browne, hon. W.||Hollond, R.|
|Cobden, R.||Howard, hon.H.|
|Collins, W.||Johnston, A.|
|Colville, C. R.||Leader, J. T.|
|Dick, Q.||Morris, D.|
§ Bill went through a committee, and report brought up. Adjourned.