§ Sir J. Graham
said, in moving the Order of the Day, for the House resolving itself into a committee on the Poor-law Amendment Bill, the House would permit him to call their attention to the position of the Bill, and to the course which Government intended to pursue with reference to it. After long and mature discussion, the House had assented to the adoption of the first clause—that clause which continued the commission for five years; and to which he, on the part of the Government, attached very great importance. The four next clauses, which related to the number of assistant-commissioners to be employed, 324 which limited the powers of the commission as to the issue of general rules, which regulated the time of the operation of rules and orders in cases of emergency, and which provided for the transmission of the commissioners' rules, it was intended to proceed with. But it was not the intention of her Majesty's Government in the present Session to press the following clause, which related to the abolition of the Gilbert Unions, nor that which had reference to the formation of districts for the purposes of education. After the promise which he had made to the House, that he would not press for their consent to the whole measure at so late a period of the Session, and when so many Members had left and were leaving town, he did not think it proper to proceed further. He, however, gave the House the most positive assurance on the part of her Majesty's Government, that they would reconsider the various enactments and details contained in the Bill, and at a very early period in the next Session of Parliament they would bring forward a measure on this subject, modified and improved in such a manner as further consideration and inquiry might suggest, and with such new provisions as anxious deliberation might point out to be necessary. There were, however, two or three clauses in this Bill, which, from the urgency of the matters to which they related, it would be necessary to press on the consideration of the House. One of those was the 23rd clause, which related to the power of the guardians in reference to the casual poor received into the workhouse. At the present moment the workhouse in these cases was used as a sort of hostelry, or house of call, where the casual poor were lodged for one or two nights, and received one or two meals, and a practice had arisen amongst the people thus relieved of destroying the furniture, breaking the windows, and even of destroying their own clothes. This practice rendered it necessary either to supply them with new clothing, or to detain them longer in the workhouse. To remedy this evil, the 23rd clause enacted that this offence should be deemed a misdemeanour, under the 5th George 4th, c. 83. There were other clauses which it would be necessary to consider One related to the right of ex officio guardians to act as magistrates within the limits of the union with which they were connected. There were three or four other 325 clauses containing matters of regulation, which, with the permission of the House, he meant to carry through. But those clauses which had reference to the abolition of the Gilbert Unions, to the formation of district unions for the purposes of education, and to an improved system of auditing the accounts, inasmuch as these clauses required a great deal of consideration, and considering the late period of the Session, it would, he felt, be inexpedient to urge them on. He should, at the proper time, state to the House the nature of those clauses which he wished to press on their consideration, and which he hoped the House would be disposed to adopt. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. S. Crawford) had given notice of his intention to move an instruction on going into committee. He doubted whether it was competent to the hon. Member, consistently with the forms of the House, to move such an instruction, because it involved the repeal of one or two of the enactments of the Irish Poor-law Bill. That bill provided, by a distinct regulation, that no relief, under any circumstances, should be given to the poor in Ireland out of the workhouse. The hon. Member wished to repeal that provision, and to introduce a provision giving a power to the guardians to grant relief out of the workhouse. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not think that it was from any want of attention to the subject on the part of her Majesty's Government, if they declined to accede to that proposition and were determined to resist it. The hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Fielding) had also a notice of motion for instruction to the committee. He should not make any observation on it, because he felt that it would be inconsistent with his duty to enter into a discussion on abstract points. Alf, however, the hon. Member should persist in his motion, he hoped the House would support him in opposing it.
§ Order of the Day read.
§ Mr. S. Crawford:
Would take that opportunity to protest against the powers granted to the Poor Law commissioners in Ireland. As that point was connected with the Poor Law system in this country, he respectfully claimed the attention of the House while he adverted to the subject. He knew that there was an unwillingness in the House to listen to Irish questions; but this question of the Irish Poor-law had an interest also for England, and therefore he trusted that they 326 would not refuse bestowing their attention on it. He wished, in the first place, to point out the essential difference which existed between the English and the Irish Poor-law. The difference consisted in this,—that the English Poor-law, though it. did not positively allow out-door relief, vet left to the commissioners a discretionary power to grant it; but the Irish Poor-law did not give power to the Irish commissioners to give any relief whatsoever out of the doors of the workhouse. Neither guardians, nor overseers, nor magistrates, could afford the smallest portion of out-door relief to any poor person in Ireland. He wished that powers should ire Sven to the commissioners to enable them to afford out-door relief in Ireland where circumstances rendered it necessary, in places where workhouses were not yet built, or where they were insufficient for the number of the poor. Surely these circumstance ought to be taken into consideration on renewing the bill. In Cork the guardians some time ago applied to the commissioners to know whether, according to the law, they might grant outdoor relief? The answer was, that the claw gave them no such authority. The guardians then demanded whether, if an assessment were made specially for that purpose, they might be permitted to administer the funds thus collected? The commissioners stated that they would not allow any guardian under the Poor-law to administer any out-door relief. The Poor-law commissioners, in their last report for England, admitted that the poor cook! not be relieved within doors; and did not the same impossibility exist in Ireland? In that country the amount of distress was appalling. In Belfast there w ere numbers of men out of employ, and food was wanted for many hundreds of the starving people. This state of things existed in that part of Ireland where distress had hitherto been least felt. Similar accounts had been received from the towns of Newton Ard and Bangor. In the west of Ireland the amount of suffering was enormous. Such being the case, was it not his duty to endeavour toe prevail on them in some degree to relax the severity of the law? Another objection to the workhouse was the mortality that prevailed among the paupers, which was not denied by the commissioners. In all workhouses where children where admitted the mortality was very 327 great, owing to the entire want of proper attention and treatment for them. In the south of Ireland the greatest distress existed among the labouring classes, caused by the extortion of oppressive rents and the iniquitous conduct of the landlords. It was of importance, therefore, that there should be an effectual Poor-law for Ireland, and that the poor should feel there was some consideration for them with the Parliament and the Government. The character of the English and Irish Poor-laws was the same; they were distinguished by the same harsh and oppressive features. The object of the English Poor-law was to destroy the right of the poor man to relief, the object of the Irish law was to give the semblance of relief without the reality. The income of England was 166,000,000l., which was derived from the labouring poor; and surely, it was just, that out of this enormous sum, a sufficient provision should be supplied to protect them from starvation. One shilling in the pound on that sum would raise 8,300,000l., a greater sum than the poor-rates reached. It was not prudent to refuse out-door relief in England under existing circumstances, and he maintained, that if it was not just in England, it was not just in Ireland. He saw no reason why the commissioners should not have a discretionary power to give out-door relief, and he should, therefore, move:—That it be an instruction to the committee that they have power to make provision that the commissioners may order relief to be administered to the poor in Ireland, on the terms of the out-door labour test.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 11; Noes 113: Majority 102.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Aldam, W.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Bryan, G.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Callaghan, D.||Scholefield, J.|
|Colvile, C. R.||TELLERS.|
|Duncombe, T.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Johnson, Gen.||Fielden, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Barnard, E. G.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Barrington, Visct.|
|Allix, J. P.||Baskerville, T. B. M.|
|Arkwright, G.||Bateson, R.|
|Bailey, J.||Berkeley, hon. Capt.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Broadley, H.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Brocklehurst. J.|
|Brotherton, J.||Kemble, H.|
|Buckley, E.||Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Lambton, H.|
|Busfeild, W.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Chelsea, Visct.||Lefroy, A.|
|Childers, J. W.||Legh, G. C.|
|Clive, E. B.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Compton, H. C.||Lindsay, H. H.|
|Cripps, W.||Litton, E.|
|Denison, E. B.||Mackenzie, T.|
|Dennistoun, J.||McGeachy, F. A.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Duffield, T.||Masterman, J.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Eliot, Lord||Norreys, Lord|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Northland, Visct.|
|Feilden, W.||Packe, C. W.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Paget, Col.|
|Follett, Sir W. W.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Forbes, W.||Palmer, G.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Palmerston, Visct|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Philips, M.|
|Gordon, Lord F.||Praed, W. T.|
|Goring, C.||Pulsford, R.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Graham, rt.hn. Sir J.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Greene, T.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Gregory, W. H.||Sheppard, T.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Standish, C.|
|Grogan, E.||Stanley, Lord|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Stuart, H.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Sturt, H. C.|
|Hayes, Sir E.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Henley, J. W.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Trotter, J.|
|Hodgson, F.||Vere, Sir C. B.|
|Hodgson, R.||Wall, C. B.|
|Hogg, J. W.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Hope, hon. C.||Wilshere, W.|
|Howick, Visct.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Wood, Col.|
|Hutt, W.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Jackson, J. D.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
§ On the question, that the Speaker do now leave the Chair,
§ Mr. J. Fielden
rose to move resolutions of which he had given notice, and he hoped the House would see it reasonable to postpone the consideration of the bill before the House, until his propositions were fully answered. He found, by looking to the report of the commissioners of inquiry, dated 20th of February, 1834, that the commissioners had announced that they anticipated that the effect of such a law as was subsequently passed, and had now been in force nearly eight years, would be 329 to cause a rise of wages, an increase of content of the labouring people, and a diminution of crime; and he thought it would be in the recollection of every one, who was in 1834 a Member of that House, and of a large part of the country, that Lord Althorp, on bringing in the Poor-law of that year, had stated his firm belief and confidence, that in a very short time after the relief then afforded to able-bodied labourers, according to the number of their families, was wholly withdrawn, the wages of those men would rise to such an extent as to give them an equivalent; that was, that they would receive, in a short time after parish assistance should be discontinued, as much in wages as they had been accustomed to receive in wages and relief put together. The words of Lord Althorp were:—He thought no man could doubt but that the change in the system would be advantageous to the labourers themselves. It was possible it might appear to some hon. Gentlemen, that the agricultural labourer having at present an addition from the parochial funds to the amount of wages paid by his employer (that addition being regulated according to the number of his family), the effect of taking away that assistance would make it impossible for him to maintain himself and family. He (Lord Althorp) did not think such would be the case, for he believed, nay, he felt confident, that as the labourer regarded the parochial assistance now added to the wages he received from his employer, as making the total wages to which he was entitled for his industry, a very short time would elapse after the removal of that assistance before wages would rise to an equivalent amount; and as soon as that was the case, the situation in which the labourer would be placed would be infinitely preferable to that in which he at present stood.The noble Lord was supposed to be so thoroughly conversant with all matters connected with agricultural pursuits and rural economy, that many Gentlemen were inclined at that time to defer to his judgment, and he believed, that if it had not been for the manner in which Lord Althorp urged the passage of that measure, and the unqualified manner in which he prophecied its success, it would never have passed that House. He had selected the words of the commissioners who recommended the law to the Government, and the words of the Minister who brought it before Parliament, both parties concurring in the statement that such a law would lead to certain specific effects. No 330 man could deny, that if it did raise wages, increase content, and diminish crime, it would be a good measure; but his opinion was, and always had been, that it could have no such effect, but an effect exactly the opposite. The law bad been in force nearly eight years, and from every thing he had heard, and read, and seen of its operation, he was convinced that wages had not risen, but relief had been withdrawn, that discontent amongst the labouring people had much increased instead of having diminished, and need we do more than read the charges to grand juries, delivered by judges and by chairmen of quarter sessions, and examine the yearly statistical details, to be convinced that crime had increased also, instead of having diminished? If his belief were correct, then the act had wholly failed, and it was idle, nay, wicked, to proceed with a bill for its continuance and extension; if, on the other hand, he was in error, he should like a Member of the Government, to get up in his place and tell him so. He should like the right hon. Baronet, the Home Secretary, or the Prime Minister himself to rise in his place and say whether or not he conscientiously believed that the effects promised by the commissioners had been realised, and that the rise in wages anticipated by Lord Althorp, had really and practically taken place. If neither of those right hon. Baronets could do so, he thought they were bound to delay the measure now before the House, until an inquiry could be made into the matter. The hon. Member concluded by moving the following resolutions:—That a 'rise of wages,' and 'increased content of the labourers and diminution of crime,' were two of the specific effects which the report of the commission, dated the 20th day of February, 1834, stated would follow the application of their principle of administering relief to the indigent by the agency of a Central Board of Control. That this bill be proceeded with no further, until it be ascertained by inquiry of this House, that there have been, since the Pool-law Amendment Act came into operation, a rise of the wages of labour, increased contentment among the labouring people, and a diminution of crime; and also, that if a rise in the rate of wages have taken place, it has been to such an extent as to give the able-bodied labouring man, with a wife and family, an equivalent for the parochial assistance afforded to him before the passing of that act. That it is desirable that such inquiry should be satisfactory and 331 conclusive, and that it should command the confidence of the country, and that, therefore, none but labourers and employers be examined.
§ General Johnson
seconded the motion. He denied that the New Poor-law had had the effect of raising the rate of wages, and those Gentlemen who entertained a different opinion on this point were bound to agree to the proposal for inquiry. If the Poor-law commission had been continued for one year only, an investigation could very properly have been instituted at the commencement of next Session. But the important clause, and worst clause of the bill, continuing the commission for six years, had been passed, and he thought it a proof that the law was bad when it was necessary to invest this commission with unconstitutional authority. He hoped that some inquiry would now take place before the beginning of the next Session into the working of the law altogether. He believed that the expenditure for the poor had increased under its operation in many parts of the country, and that the labourers were worse off, being more in the hands of their employers. As for the assistant-commissioners, he believed they were of no use, but only an expense to the country.
§ Mr. Grimsditch
agreed with the hon. Member in thinking that the worst part of the bill had passed—namely, that part which continued the commission for six years; but he did not see, as the House was now placed, how any alteration could be made at the present stage of the bill in the term agreed to. He was strongly of opinion that the continuing the commission for six years was most unwise on the part of the Government; and he was quite sure that it would have a tendency to shake that public confidence which was reposed in the Government prior to the discussion of the present bill. Still, as he thought it impossible to enter into an inquiry at this period of the Session, he would advise the hon. Member for Oldham not to press his motion to a division. Recollecting that the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) had promised to bring in a bill at the commencement of next Session for the purpose of meeting such objections to the present law as he conceived worthy of consideration, he trusted that the House would not neglect that opportunity of mitigating the severity of those provisions which emanated from the 332 commissioners at Somerset-house. There was no doubt that the unions in every part of the country were of a most inconvenient size; and the commission, with its centralizing power, had created universal disgust and caused the Government itself to be distrusted.
§ Mr. Aglionby
was of opinion that no practical good would result from the present motion, and should regret to see it pressed to a division. His objection to the first clause, continuing the commission for so long a period, remained as strong as ever, and lie thought it unwise toe fix the duration of the commission without previously deciding what jurisdiction it should possess. But what would be the result of coming to a division on the present motion? He assumed that the hon. Member for Oldham desired that the commission should be destroyed at once. He could not agree in such a proposition; for, in order to avoid confusion in the country, and distress to the poor themselves, he would have the commission continued for a time; and he should have been well satisfied if the Government had brought in a bill, at that late period of the Session, to continue the commission for one year, leaving it to Parliament to deliberate fully on the whole subject, at the earliest period next Session, and to come to that conclusion which the justice of the case demanded. He thought it high time that there should be a calm and deliberate inquiry, by a committee of the House, to ascertain how the Poor-law had operated, and, taking it as a whole, he believed it would be found to have acted beneficially for the poor themselves. He hoped the present motion would not be pressed to a division, and he should be happy to give the hon. Member for Oldham his support in endeavouring to limit the duration of the commission, on the bringing up of the report, or on the third reading.
concurred in many of the statements made by the hon. Member for Oldham; but he put it to him whether, after the House had twice decided to prolong the duration of the commission, it would not now be better to see what practicable amendments could be made in the bill. He suggested to the hon. Member to reserve the opposition he now offered to this measure, until his proposition respecting out-door relief came under the consideration of the House. If that motion shield be carried, on bringing up the re- 333 port, he believed the commission would be inoperative for evil, and more operative for good than before.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, that, believing the hon. Member for Oldham to be actuated by the most humane motives, he did not think it consistent with his duty to remain altogether silent on the present question. The hon. Member had asked him, whether he really believed the New Poor-law had had a beneficial operation with regard to the wages of the working classes? He concurred with the hon. Member's Colleague, who said that it had rendered the workman more dependent on his employer. It had done so; and had thereby, particularly in agricultural districts, rendered him independent of the overseers. He was quite satisfied that the effect of this measure generally had been, in the rural districts, to emancipate the working classes from confinement in the workhouses. With respect to the observations of the hon. Member for Cockermouth, he must say, that the powers to be exercised by the commission were those with which it was invested by the very act to which the hon. Member for Oldham had referred, and which was introduced by Lord Althorp. The only question for the House to determine now was, whether there should be a commission or not? The hon. Member for Cockermouth said, he wished to have a calm and deliberate inquiry on the subject. There had been several inquiries, but he was afraid that they were not altogether calm and deliberate. There had been long inquiries, and he had served on three committees, and there had been reports, respecting the working of the law, laid on the Table. It was not inquiry that was wanted; and the Members of that House were as competent as any persons to judge of the practicable operation of this measure. He thought, upon the whole, that the new law, at least in the rural districts, had operated moat favourably, both on the rate of wages and the condition of the labourers.
§ House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question: — Ayes 125; Noes 8 Majority 117.
|List of the NOES.|
|Cobden, R.||Williams, W.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Yorke, H. R|
|Holland, R.||Johnson, Gen.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Fielden, J.|
§ House in committee.
§ On clause 2, professional persons, not being assistant-commissioners may be appointed to make special inquiries, as assistant-commissioners,
Mr. T. Buncombe
said, he thought it would be advisable to allow those persons who might be summoned before those new tribunals, to appear by their counsel, agents, or attornies, and he should, therefore move a proviso to that effect.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, the hon. Gentleman had given him no notice of his intention to make this motion, and the hurried consideration which he could give to it made it somewhat difficult for him to pronounce an opinion upon it. The provision at the end of the clause was intended to remedy that which was complained of as a serious evil. If he remembered rightly, an inquiry had been instituted in the northern part of the county of Devon, by the assistant Poor-law commissioners, which did not give satisfaction. With regard also to the Sevenoaks workhouse, the conduct of an assistant Poor-law commissioner was impugned, and the inquiry which was conducted by other assistant Poor-law commissioners was much commented on, and dissatisfaction was expressed in that case. The clause, as it stood, was to remedy that evil, by allowing the Poor-law commissioners to send down persons competent to conduct the inquiry, conversant with the taking of evidence, and who were not interested in the case, or aware of the bygone circumstances. The power of those special delegations was limited to thirty days, and the check upon it was in the Secretary of State, and the object of the clause being what he had stated, he must say, that as he was at present advised, he saw no objection to the proviso moved by the hon. Gentleman. He thought it quite possible, that the investigation would be more fair, complete, and satisfactory, if the parties interested in the result were allowed to appear by their agent or attorney, but then the costs should be borne by the parties requiring such assistance, and not be thrown on the poor-rates.
§ Sir J. Graham
said, he should certainly 335 object to all parties at all times being allowed to appear by their counsel or agents before the commissioners, or assistant Poor-law commissioners. The power should only be given in cases of special investigation.
§ Mr. Aglionby
thought the inquiries had better always be open, as this would tend to produce more of public confidence in them; and it would be, in his opinion, exceedingly injurious to allow the assistant-commissioners or their representatives to close the doors at their pleasure.
§ Mr. Escott
cordially concurred in deprecating any secret inquiries into the operation of the Poor-law; and his opinion was, that the power of making them so at pleasure would produced great suspicion and dissatisfactton. There was, however, another and a far more important point, which did not seem to have been borne in mind during this discussion —and that was the authority from which the appointment of these special commissioners of inquiry was to emanate. Here, in fact, lay the whole matter. It was opposed to every principle of common sense, as it was palpably at variance with the plainest dictates of justice, that parties whose conduct was complained of should virtually conduct the inquiry. Yet, was not this really the case here? For would not the inquiries in effect and in truth be into the operation of the Poor-law, under the administration of the central commissioners, who themselves were to have the selection (it should seem) of those by whom the inquiries were conducted? Really, this appeared one of those cases in which argument was useless, and simple reason was conclusive. He felt warmly on this point, from a sincere conviction, that had this been otherwise, there would have been far less of odium cast upon the commissioners themselves, and far less of injury to the poor; and not less firm was his persuasion, that if now altered in this respect, the law would work with more of public confidence, and infinitely less of public mischief.
§ Sir J. Graham
acknowledged, that this argument would be conclusive, were it contemplated that these inquiries should embrace the general administration of the central commissioners; but the clause referred only to local abuses charged against the assistant-commissioners, and as to which the central commissioners required special means of information,
§ Viscount Sandon
said, that though technically and strictly his right hon. Friend might here be correct, yet the commissioners themselves did not consider it in the same light, and practically the inquiries of assistant-commissioners were always conducted with an evident anxiety to avoid any imputation on the Poor-law, as if the conduct of individuals necessarily involved the policy of the law. The point invariably pressed by these authorities most strenuously was, that the persons calling for the inquiry were not only opposed, but unfairly opposed, to the act; and all their energies were bent towards neutralizing the evidence adduced in sun port of the complaint. Now, if the inquiries were conducted by Gentlemen sent from the Home Secretary, there would be no anxiety and effort to make out a " case" for the New Poor-law; but the sole desire would be to elicit the truth satisfactorily and impartially. Had this been the case in the Bridgewater inquiry, there would not have been such cause for public discontent. Nothing was more important in regard to public feeling towards the law than this question.
Mr. R. Yorke
observed, that the conduct of the commissioners themselves would, in these cases, be the subject of inquiry; it was the same as setting a thief to sit in judgment upon his own accomplice.
§ Mr. Aglionby
would leave it to the commissioners to judge whether there ought to be an inquiry or not, but he thought the Secretary of State ought to appoint those by whom the inquiry was to be carried on. If the supreme power in these matters were vested in the Secretary of State, such an arrangement would, he thought, have the effect of greatly lessening the jealousy which would otherwise be felt. The danger was, that the public would be too apt to regard the whole as an ex parte proceeding—it would be impossible, he thought, to keep people from apprehending that the commissioners would lean towards the assistant commissioners with too favourable a bias. An appointment by the Secretary of State of those who were to conduct inquiries would not at all lessen the power of the commissioners, and would greatly tend to inspire the minds of the people with confidence in the whole system.
§ Sir Graham
said, that the original enactment gave to the commissioner su- 337 preme power in the administration of the Poor-law. The commissioners were certainly removable by the Executive Government, but that formed the only check upon their conduct. Now, the assistant-commissioners were the servants of the commission, and they should not look up to any other power; it was, therefore, that he desired to keep the enactment as it now stood. He would suppose that, in a particular case, persons were delegated by the Executive Government to carry out a certain inquiry against the wish of the commissioners, and he would further suppose that their report proved unfavourable to the assistant-commissioners, it would then be necessary to alter the whole of the act; for, however adverse the report might be, no assistant-commissioner could be removed without the authority of the commission; he hoped, therefore, the House would pause, before they touched a clause which so materially affected the moving power of the whole measure. If the commissioners were fit for the office to which they were appointed, he thought that they ought to be treated with a liberal confidence; if they were not entitled to confidence they ought to be removed. The object of the bill was, that the Executive Government should not be responsible for carrying out the act, but merely responsible for the appointment or removal of the commissioners themselves.
§ Mr. Aglionby
did not want to interfere with the supreme power of the commissioners; all he desired was, that investigations should be placed above all suspicion.
§ Mr. B. Wood
thought, that some powers ought to be given to the guardians, for the purpose of enabling them to promote inquiries into the conduct of assistant-commissioners.
§ Sir R. Peel
doubted not that his hon. Friend was actuated by conscientious motives, but the course which he took afforded but small encouragement to any Ministry to introduce relaxations of the law. His right hon. Friend had proposed, that other 338 persons than the assistant-commissioners should be appointed to make special inquiries, upon which the hon. Gentleman rose and said, he would rather have no clause at all than one of that nature. Such was the encouragement which the Government had to make concessions, that sundry amendments were proposed, which were inconsistent with the principle of the bill. The proviso proposed, that persons should be appointed to make inquiries who had no connexion with the commission. In the first place, whenever they saw fit, or were required by the Secretary of State, the commissioners were to appoint such persons to conduct the inquiry. The authority of the commissioners was supreme over that of the assistant-commissioners, and being called upon to exercise it they would proceed to nominate a doctor of medicine, or a surveyor, or a barrister, persons having professional qualifications for the performance of the services required of them. The authority rested, then, with the commissioners, but the Secretary of State for the Home Department must give his sanction; he had a veto, as his noble Friend, the Member for Liverpool had expressed it. His hon. Friend had spoken of the invidiousness of the Secretary of State appointing special commissioners; but there was no doubt that such appointments would be the subject of communication between the Secretary of State and the Poor-law commissioners. It would certainly not be wise to get up two conflicting authorities; the Secretary of State and the commissioners ought to act in harmony. It appeared to him that the clause as it stood was good, because it gave a security against abuse; and he hoped the House would affirm the proposition as originally made by his right hon. Friend, in deference to what, he thought, was the general feeling of the House and of those who were opposed to the bill, He trusted that the hon. Gentleman would abandon his proposition, and not take a course which would tend to discourage relaxations of the law in reference to those matters which had come under consideration.
§ The committee divided on the question, that the clause stand part of the bill:— Ayes 59; Noes 9: Majority 50.
|List of the NOES.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Crawford, W. S.|
|Buckley, E,||Fielder, J.|
|Johnson, Gen.||Williams, W.|
|Richards, R,||Grimsditch, T.|
|Scholefield, J.||Pechell, Capt.|
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4 to 22 inclusive, postponed.
§ On clause 23, that " guardians, &c., may set occasional poor to work."
Mr. R. Yorke
proposed, that the words in the clause " subject always to the powers of the Poor-law commissioners," should be omitted from the clause.
§ Mr. S. Crawford said,
that he objected to the whole of the clause under the consideration of the House. It was a most tyrannical clause, and vested in the guardians powers, which they ought not to possess. If a man went even for one night into the bunion workhouse, he was obliged to allow his hair to he cut off close to his head. Such a case had happened. So strong was his objection to the tyrannical powers vested in the guardians by this clause, that he was determined toe take the sense of the House on the subject.
§ The committee divided on the question, that the clause stand part of the bill;Ayes 84; Noes 8: Majority 76.
|List of the NOES.|
|Broadwood, H.||Scholefield, J.|
|Brother ton, J.||Williams, W.|
|Pechell, Capt.||Crawford, S.|
|Richards, ft.||Fielden, J.|
§ Clause to stand part of the bill.
§ The rest of the clauses were rejected or agreed to with amendments.
§ Clause brought cup, and read a first time. On the motion that it be read a second time,
§ Sir J. Graham
opposed the motion. Government bad determined, considering the state of public business, and the advanced period of the. Session, to introduce no provisions which would have the effect of introducing any important alterations into the spirit of the bill. The clause of his hon. Friend, however, was quite at variance with the existing law, and it was a mistake to suppose that the original 340 intention of the Poor-law Act was not that its provisions should be general. Through the operation of the proposed clause, upwards of 1,200,000 persons would he withdrawn from what he considered the salutary control of the Poor-law commissions.
§ Captain Pechell
supported the clause. He deprecated interference with boards under local acts, and referred to previous debates, with the view of proving that the House had affirmed this principle of noninterference.
§ Mr. T. Duncombe
thought that if Government objected to giving independent powers to local boards, that they should repeal their local acts altogether. Government, however, had no right, according to the original understanding, to sweep away these local acts, which were in many instances obtained at a great expense. He should strenuously support the clause.
§ The House divided on the question that the clause be read a second time:—Ayes, 42; Noes, 91: Majority, 49.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adam, W.||Halford, H|
|Archdall, Capt.||Henley, J. W.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Hervey, Lord A.|
|Beckett, W.||Hodgson, R.|
|Borthwick, P.||Hornby, J.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Johnson, Gen.|
|Buckley, E.||Langston, J. H.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Masterman, J.|
|Burroughes, H. N.||Morris, D.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Newry, Visct.|
|Colvile, C. R.||Richards, R.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Denison, E. B.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Dodd, G.||Scholefield, J.|
|Buncombe, T.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Escott, B.||Taylor, J, A.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Tufnell,|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Darby, G.|
|Grimston, Visct.||Pechell, Capt.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|A'Court, Capt.||Childers, J. W.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Antrobus, E||Clive, hon. R. H.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Colborne, hn. W.N.R.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Courtenay, Lord|
|Blackburne, J. L||Cripps, W,|
|Bolder, H. G.||Darner, hon. Col.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Douglas, Sir C. E.|
|Brotherton, J.||Dugdale, W. S.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Duncan, G.|
|Elliot, Lord||Northland, Visct.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Packe, C. W.|
|Fitzmaurice, hon. W.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Forbes, W.||Patten, J. W.|
|Forster, M.||Pemberton, T.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Philips, M.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Praed, W. T.|
|Goulbourn, rt. hn. H.||Pringle, A.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hale, R. B.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Rous, hon. Capt.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Rundle, J.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Russell, J. D. W|
|Hobhouse, rt. hn Sir J.||Seymour, Sir H. B.|
|Howard, P.||Sheppard, T.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Hume, J.||Stanley, Lord|
|Hutt, W.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Stuart, H.|
|Jones, Capt.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Lambton, H.||Thorneley, T.|
|Legh, G. C.||Tollemache, J.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Lockhart, W.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|Mackenzie, T.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Waddington, H. S.|
|M'Geachy, F A.||Ward, H. G.|
|March, Earl of||Wawn, J. T.|
|Morgan, O.||Wood, B.|
|Neville, R.||Wood, G. W,|
|Newport, Visct.||Young, J.|
|Nicholl, right hon. J.||TELLERS.|
|Norreys, Lord||Clerk, Sir G.|
|Norreys, Sir D. J.||Baring, H|
§ House resumed. Bill to be reported.