HC Deb 17 June 1842 vol 64 cc94-168
Sir James Graham

, in rising to move the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Poor-law Bill, said, that as he had already explained to the House the principles on which this measure rested, he did not imagine the House would think it necessary for him again to go over the same ground, and he would, therefore, content himself with moving that this bill be read a second time.

Mr. S. Crawford

said: In rising to oppose this measure, I do not look upon myself as the mere representative of a particular constituency, but as a Member of this House, called upon to consider the interests of the whole nation, and I can conceive no subject more vitally important to those interests than the measure the principle of which we are now called upon to agree to. Before undertaking to oppose the second reading of this bill, I feel myself called upon to state the reasons and motives which induce me to take such a course. When this House is about to give its deliberate sanction to what must be considered a permanent renewal of the New Poor-law Act, it is, in my opinion, right, that the principle and working of the measure should be fully and fairly brought under your consideration. It is just and necessary that the complaints of the people should be heard, and that an act of the nature now proposed should not be passed without deliberately considering whether these complaints are well founded or not. This bill is not merely for a renewal of the commission; it is for the perpetuation of the new system. It is now for the House to determine whether that system is to be persevered in. As it is of importance to understand what is the real principle of the Poor-law Act and the ob- ject of appointing the commissioners, I shall refer to some authorities for that purpose. It is of particular importance to do so at this time, because the commissioners in their last report affirm a system of action which had been negatived in all their former reports, and by all the proceedings which they had adopted during a continued period of eight years. But I shall first refer to a position assumed by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department in introducing the present bill. He affirmed that the object of appointing commissioners was not for the attainment of uniformity in the management of the poor, but for the purpose of providing the means of a necessary diversity, accommodating the mode of relief to the circumstances of the different districts. He quoted Lord Brougham as his authority, in a speech delivered by him on introducing the Poor-law Amendment Bill to the Lords in 1834. He quoted the following extract:— Again, one part of the country may require one mode of treatment—another may require the application of different remedies. Agricultural districts will stand in need of a very different mode of treatment from that which must be employed with commercial and manufacturing places—nay, the circumstances of one agricultural parish may be so entirely different from those of another, even of one in its immediate vicinity, as to render the same course of management inapplicable to both. But if the right hon. Baronet had read on to the next sentence, he would have found that a very different meaning would be produced. The noble Lord went on:— The point we are desirous of reaching is one and the same for all; the state of things we would bring all back to is the same; but the road to be taken towards this point is necessarily different in different places, for each may have deviated from the right path by a different route, and by a different route must be brought back. Thus it will be seen, that the inadvertent omission of that sentence of the speech which intervened between the two sentences quoted, gave an untrue meaning to the sentiment intended to be expressed; but that uniformity was the ultimate object to be obtained is more strongly declared in another paragraph of the noble Lord's speech:— I think I may lay down as clearly following from what I have stated, that there is one main point, the necessity of arriving at which cannot be denied,—I mean the securing such a degree of unity of action in the authorities invested with the parochial superintendence as can be obtained only by the establishment of one central power. In a former extract the noble Lord said, that the point to be reached is one and the same for all. What, then, was that point? That will be explained by a further reference to Lord Brougham's speech:— For most certain it is, that anything more mischievous, anything more fatal to the country, anything more calculated to multiply indefinitely the numbers of the poor, cannot be conceived than the application to them of any regular fixed provision, be it tithe, or be it tax, which they can claim at the hands of the rich, except by the force of that duty of imperfect obligation—private charity, which is imposed upon all men; every permanent fund set apart for their support, from whomsoever proceeding and by whomsoever administered, must needs multiply the evils it is destined to remedy. Again, the noble Lord, in another part of his speech, says,— That at the present he would say nothing about repealing the Poor-law itself, But goes on to remark,— That when time shall have been allowed for inquiry and consideration, and when this measure shall have paved the way for the reception of ulterior projects, they will, should experience warrant their adoption, receive my assent. Such was the object Lord Brougham had in view, and no better authority can be quoted with respect to the purposes of the act. Perhaps other supporters of that measure did not take so extended a view of its objects and results; but if they had reflected they would have found that the limitation to in-door relief, which was the object the act had avowedly in view, must necessarily tend to the total withdrawal of relief from the able-bodied worker under any circumstances in which he might be placed. The truth is, it is evident that the great object of the promoters of this law was to do away with any fixed provision for the poor with as much speed as the state of transition would admit of; but they had not the courage (which Lord Brougham had) to assert that object, or to declare it in the act. The intention was not discoverable by the act itself; the fifty-second clause appeared to countenance the continued exhibition of out-door assistance, but the poison was covered under a sweet exterior, and the commissioners were to do that by laws of their own making, which the Parliament of the country deemed it imprudent to venture on. It can be clearly shown, from a reference to all the reports of the commissioners except the last one, that such was their view of the case. We find them holding the opinion that the spirit of the act and the intention of the Legislature was, that the in-door test should be brought into uniform and universal operation with the least possible delay, and that the only claim for relief should be absolute destitution. They uniformly objected on principle to the administration of relief under any other form than the workhouse test. In order to work out these objects, the commissioners acted upon the following principles:—1st. That out-door relief should be abolished. 2nd. That the only ground of claim for relief should be absolute destitution. 3rd. That the test of destitution should be workhouse confinement. 4th. That the test should be rendered effective by the nature of the feeding, labour, discipline, and restraint. 5th. That no discretion should be exercised in the admission or treatment of claimants founded on character or the cause of distress. I shall now proceed to quote some extracts from the commissioners reports. In the seventh annual report we find the following passage (page 42:— We cannot omit stating that since the institution of the Poor-law commission all the proceedings of the commissioners have been directed to a faithful execution of the intentions of the Legislature, which are embodied in the Poor-law Amendment Act. In particular, the intention of gradually withholding out-door relief from the able-bodied is declared in so explicit and unambiguous a manner as left the commissioners no option as to the course which they should pursue. Here is the view which the commissioners entertain of the objects of the act, and of the duty to be performed by them, expressed in the most clear and intelligible terms; and in conformity with this, we find the general order given in the same report (p. 63), expressed in the following terms:— And we do hereby order, &c., that from and after every able-bodied person, male or female, requiring relief, shall be relieved wholly in the workhouse of the said union, together with such of the family of such able-bodied person as may be resident with him or her, and may not be in employment, and together with the wife of every such able-bodied male person, if he be a married man, and if she be resident with him, save and except in the following cases. The order then details certain exceptions, but these exceptions in no degree derogate from the inviolability of the principle laid down as the general rule of action,—that the able-bodied are to get no relief other than in the workhouse. These exceptions have been put forward as if they abrogated the rule; but what do the commissioners say of their own exceptions? (Page 64.) Upon the portion of the order which relates to the able-bodied, the commissioners have only further to observe, that although the exceptions introduced in it are larger and better defined than those contained in the previous orders, yet it is upon the whole more restrictive than most of the previous orders, inasmuch as it extends to single women, including those with illegitimate children and to widows without children. In the special report of the 31st of December, 1839, the commissioners state (P. 28), That all distribution of relief in money or goods to be spent and consumed by the pauper in his own house is inconsistent with the principle in question, namely, the principle of the act. They state their opinion against an out-door labour test in return for relief (p. 28) in the following terms:— Supposing again that the persons charged with the duty of relieving the poor, relieve them with money or goods at their own houses, but attempt to exact some labour in return, this mode of relief is found to be equally inconsistent with the principle in question." "In order, therefore, to carry the above-mentioned principle into effect, it is necessary that the pauper should be relieved, not by giving him money or goods to be spent or consumed in his own house, but by receiving him into a public establishment. They then proceed to say The only expedient for accomplishing the end in view which humanity permits is to subject the pauper inmate of a public establishment to such a system of labour, discipline, and restraint, as shall be sufficient to outweigh in his estimation the advantages which he receives from the bodily comfort he enjoys. In conformity with this principle, we find the regulations of the workhouse are to be carried out even to infirm paupers and the partially disabled. In page 29, we find the following observation:— With regard to the aged and infirm, however, there is a strong disposition on the part of a portion of the public so to modify the arrangements of these establishments as to place them on the footing of almshouses; the consequences which would flow from this change would have only to be pointed out to show its inexpediency and danger; if the condition of this inmates of a workhouse were to be so regulated as to invite the aged and infirm of the labouring classes to take refuge in it, it would immediately be useless as a test between indigence and indolence, or fraud. Alluding to the nature of the rules prescribed by the commissioners (p. 29), they are divided into two classes— 1st., Those required for the maintenance of good order; 2nd., those which are necessary, not for that purpose, but in order that these establishments may not be almshouses, but workhouses in the proper meaning of the term, and may produce the results which the Legislature intended. With relation to the separation of married couples, the commissioners again show their horror of any approach to almshouses; they say that if other objections could even be removed (page 31),— The domicile thus afforded to indigent couples would change the character of the institution for these couples; it would forthwith become an almshouse, in which not only food, clothing, medical and spiritual aid, but even the comfort of a separate home, would be provided at the public expense. The commissioners in their last report seem to admit the necessity of out-door relief in the manufacturing districts, but in their former reports we find it was their undoubted intention to bring the whole of the districts under the New Poor-law system. From the report on the Liverpool poor (page 4),— In the autumn of 1840 nearly the entire manufacturing district of Lancashire had been formed into unions under the Poor-law Amendment Act, with the exception of the large towns. These had been left under their former management on account of the many difficulties which they presented; and it was thought that their omission would facilitate the working of the new law. The commissioners, however, found that while the leading places of the manufacturing district of Lancashire remained under the old mode of management, it was difficult to administer the law successfully in the neighbouring unions which had been formed and put into operation. Accordingly the commissioners in last autumn represented to the Marquess of Norman by the expediency of completing the union arrangements in Lancashire, and received his consent to that step; and in the sixth annual report, (page 2,) we find the following observations in praise of the refusal of out-door relief by the guardians. Mr. Edwards, sen., informs us that as respects certain unions (mentioned), where the population in some villages is exclusively manufacturing, in others exclusively agricul- tural, although the greater part of the operatives have been only partially employed during the last nine months, and a very large proportion unable to find manufacturing employment, the guardians have firmly refused relief to this class except in the workhouse. Again (same page),— Although we are sensible of the benefits which have resulted from the application of an out-door labour test, in periods of distress in the manufacturing districts, yet we are aware of its inferiority in effect to the workhouse itself; and we hope that on future occasions we may be able to devise arrangements which will render it unnecessary to resort to this secondary system of relief, notwithstanding the workhouse accommodation in a manufacturing union may be found to be inadequate. What can be more explicit than this, with reference to the barbarous cold-heartedness with which the system was to be wrought out? In page 4 we find reasons assigned for the non-extension of the system as follows:— The depressed condition of the manufacturing population, and the disquietude of the public mind occasioned by the Chartist riot at Newport, in Monmouthshire, rendered us extremely unwilling to take any step in the manufacturing districts of Lancashire which might have even a remote tendency to produce a disturbance, or which might be used by designing persons as a pretext for agitation. If we look through all the reports of the commissioners and the speeches of the supporters of the New Poor-law, we find the leading principle to be, that relief should on no account be given except on the existence of absolute destitution, and that the proof of this destitution should be obtained by means of the workhouse test. And what does the workhouse test mean? It simply means this—that the various regulations of the workhouse should be such as to produce that degree of repugnance to accept its relief, that no man should seek it except placed in the most urgent extremes of destitution; that starvation should be staring him in the face; and that this should be the only passport within its walls. For this reason and object the relief of the poor under any circumstances outside the House was to be withdrawn from the people of England; and the system of action was strictly in conformity with this object. The foregoing extracts most clearly prove the views which the commissioners took of the duties they had to perform. I shall now examine how far their proceedings were confirmatory of those views. In the last Session of Par- liament I stated to the House various cases, which have not been contradicted, and which established that the utmost severity of treatment had been carried on in several unions. I shall not trouble the House with a repetition of the details of these cases; I shall give a summary only of the facts stated. 1st. Separation of families to the extent even of the mother and sucking child. 2nd. Excessive punishment of both young and old. 3rd. Flogging of adult girls by the master. 4th. Harsh treatment of aged men by washing with pails of cold water, and by insufficient clothing. 5th. Poverty of feeding producing diarrhœa and other diseases. 6th. Indiscriminate mixture of the profligate and the virtuous. I shall now refer more particularly to some cases which have since attracted public attention in a high degree, more especially the proceedings in the Bridgewater and Sevenoaks Unions. The following is a summary of the proceedings at the Bridgewater Union:—In May, 1836, the new system was commenced. In August the dietary and other comforts of the poor were reduced. In September disease commenced, as appears by neglected protests of the medical officer. For nearly six years, up to the present time, the history of this House exhibits the following characteristics of the most loathsome maltreatment:—1st, spare diet; 2nd, rooms crowded to pestilence; 3rd, reckless exposure of the healthy to the most fatal contagion; 4th, its consequences—fevers, inflammations, and deaths; all this notwithstanding the earnest remonstrances of the medical man and others on the poisonous state of the workhouse. It may be said, and justly said, the guardians had their share of the blame; but what could excuse the commissioners for joining in the system and prohibiting the out-door supply of the poor under such circumstances? It was not till the close of six years of these proceedings that the commissioners at last prohibited further admissions. A similar instance is afforded in the Sevenoaks Union, but even of a more desperate character. It appears that this union was formed in April, 1835. The commissioner recommended the guardians to form a workhouse to accommodate 500, but the guardians refused, or neglected to make this provision, and adopted the old house with the sanction of the commissioners, which could only contain 300. In 1836 the Penshurst Union was combined with the Sevenoaks Union, and yet no enlargement of the house. In December, 1836, a strictly prohibitory order against out-door relief was issued to this combined union by the desire of the assistant-commissioner, but still no addition was made to the capacity of the House. The fruits of such a condition manifested themselves in the diseases of the inmates of every class, and in 1841 an inquiry was entered into by order of the commissioners, which confirmed in general all the statements before made, as acknowledged by the report of the commissioners. The commissioners blame the doctor, the master and matron, and the guardians. They complain that they were not sooner informed of the state of things! but had they not the information that a house was only provided for 300, when their assistant deemed accommodation for 500 necessary for the Bridgewater Union alone; and did they not know that they doubled the Sevenoaks Union by the addition of Penshurst; and might they not have foreseen the result? From a report by Mr. Adams, 22nd of April, 1841, the following facts appear:— 86 boys slept in 19 beds; 75 boys in 16 beds; 57 men in 31 beds; 40 women in 20 beds. In another return, Mr. Adams stated the health of the inmates as follows.— 78 boys enlargement of the neck, 42 having likewise goitres; of 94 girls and infant children, 91 had enlarged glands at the back of the neck, and 63 goitres; scrofulous cases 7. Nurse Middleton stated, that there lay 15 children in 2 beds feet to feet, and 18 children in 3 beds; the remainder of the beds had 4 each; the ages of the children, 5 to 12. The 2 beds in which so many children slept were tied together. The beds were four feet six inches wide. She describes the old woman being afflicted with vermin from want of clean clothes. Lying-in women confined two in a bed. Such have been the proceedings of the commissioners, acting as they stated under the spirit and meaning of the Legislature, as expressed by the New Poor-law Act. They carried this system on for eight years, in defiance of every claim of humanity, forcing it in such manner as to produce disease and death of old and young. But now it appears by the eighth report, that a new order or system is to be created. They have found out that the act gives them ample discretion, and that the out-door labour test is to be admitted as a part of the system. They have now found out (page 12),— The order prohibiting the out-door relief for the able-bodied, and limiting their relief to the workhouse, is inapplicable under two sets of circumstances:—1st, where the permanent state of the union is such as not to admit of its issue; 2nd, when the ordinary state of the union admits of its enforcement, but the workhouse is temporarily full. They quote the 52nd section in proof of these powers, and then proceed,— From these words it will be seen that the commissioners are expressly empowered by the Poor-law Amendment Act to prescribe other conditions for the relief of the able-bodied besides that of admission into the workhouse. The most obvious and generally applicable condition of this sort is the exaction of labour in return for relief, without the exception of the persons relieved in the workhouse. Let these extracts be compared with those before quoted from the former reports, and then I would ask these commissioners how they can explain such absolute contradictions. They stated in the former reports that it was the spirit and intention of the act that out-door provision should be withdrawn with all practicable speed, and yet now they affirm that there are certain unions whose permanent state will not admit the enforcement of the in-door test. They formerly reprobated the outdoor labour test, and now they admit its utility in such eases. If this be the case, I would ask, did not Bridgewater and Sevenoaks come under the description of the second class, the houses not being sufficient to accommodate the poor? Why, then, did they issue their prohibitory order in these unions? Why did they persevere in maintaining it up to the last year, when they were aware that disease, produced by over-crowded apartments, was spreading suffering and death among the inmates? Was this a right use of their discretion? They persevered for eight years in maintaining the in-door test. They now say that the out-door test must be resorted to. They must be wrong either in the one position or the other. If their present opinions be right, they have been for eight years committing a grievous wrong against the poor; and such conduct affords a clear demonstration of the evil of having such extended powers placed in their hands. They blame the guardians and officers of the union of Sevenoaks for the abuses which existed; they excuse themselves in this way; but what is the use of the commissioners if they have not the means of information independently of these officers? And here is an evident proof of the evil of such a system—where there is a divided responsibility—where there are two different sets of conductors, and each can lay the blame of their respective crimes or neglects upon the other. They now propose to apply the out-door labour test to manufacturing unions only; what will be the effect of this? If a less oppressive test be resorted to in the manufacturing unions than in the agricultural unions, will it not tend to produce a greater influx of poor into the already overloaded manufacturing districts, and thereby increase the distress? Or if they be returned to the rural districts, will they not be placed there as permanent paupers without the possibility of resuming their former position? Is this a proof of the right discretion of the commissioners? It is contended by some that a Poor-law is an invasion of property—that no man has a right to be supported out of another man's industry: this is true in the abstract, and might be properly applicable to a state of society where monopolies did not exist, and where there was no obstruction to the efforts of labour and the full enjoyment of its fruits; but this state of things exists in very few civilised societies, and none is more remote from it than the condition of Britain. The natural right of man conferred on him by his Creator is, that he shall support himself on the fruits of the earth produced by the sweat of his brow; the laws of society confer the property of the soil on individuals in extended tracts, and the laws of England, by the system of entails and the law of primogeniture, confer and sustain this monopoly, prevent that subdivision which would arise from the disposal of that right of property in the natural course of events, and render the poor man wholly dependent on the wages of hired labour for his existence. The Poor-law then, which sends the distressed poor man back to the land for relief in his necessities, is not an aggression on property, but is only a just compensation to the poor worker for the invasion made upon his rights by the monopolising laws of society. But, although this is the first and greatest invasion of his rights, the other laws which have been since passed aggravate in an immense degree the evils to which he is subjected—amongst which the Corn-law is pre-eminently iniquitous, and establishes beyond contradiction the absolute right of the poor to demand subsistence or employment out of the fixed property of the country. In fact, it is a quit-rent to the worker, to which all your estates were virtually subject before you possessed them. It is a quit-rent which, if not paid, destroys the title to your estates. On the payment of this quit-rent the existence of your title depends in justice and in policy, and according to all the rules of religion and morality. But there are causes of distress to the poor man created by the legislation of the rich for objects in which the poor had no interest—the immense debt, the enormous taxation oppresses him, and interferes with his struggles to obtain an independent support; and another circumstance which has arisen at the present time to increase his difficulties is the progress of machinery in setting aside human labour. Although it is to be hoped that this will be for ultimate good—yet it cannot be denied that present evil is created to the working-man; that it puts his interests still more in the power of the man of wealth, and that means should be taken for his increased protection, instead of the abatement of his right to subsistence. The poor man should be protected against the monied man, as well as against the landed proprietor. The wealthy manufacturer should be kept under the feeling that he will be responsible if he, in the first instance, collects together large numbers of workers, and then by the sudden application of machinery causes a production beyond the demands of supply, and throws those poor people idle; he should know that he will be compelled either to employ them or subsist them. Nothing but a well-organised Poor-law, administered by a body of men in the localities, elected by the whole people, can give the poor man any protection against the oppressions of the rich in a society founded on such principles, and legislated for by such laws as at present exist in England. The rich must be made responsible for the condition of the poor; but on this subject one practical example is worth a thousand theories; and to find that example in the highest degree of force, you have not far to travel—you have only to cross the Channel to Ireland. You will there find where, until recently, there was no Poor-law, that every evil which has been attributed to the English Poor-law by its opponents exists in a character of the most extended magnitude:—improvidence, slothfulness, early marriages, thick population, want of employment, bad cultivation of the land, want of respect for the laws; and why did all these evils exist in Ireland? Because there was no responsibility thrown on the rich with regard to the condition of the poor, a responsibility which can alone be created by the medium of a Poor-law with a settlement clause. Such was the condition of Ireland without a Poor-law. Compare this with the condition of England as it existed under the old Poor-law. What country in the world produced such evidences of prosperity, of improvement, good order, respect for the laws, respect for the rights of property, of peace, and contentment? Am I to be told that the Poor-law had no share in producing this, when such a practical example can be supplied as that of the two portions of the empire—England and Ireland, in juxtaposition? But I have further proofs. If we go back to the history of England, what do we find to have been its condition as to crime previous to the establishment of a Poor-law? We find in Hume's history that in the reign of Henry 8th there were confined, as debtors or criminals, at one time, in the gaols 60,000 persons; that 72,000 criminals were executed for theft and robbery alone in the reign of Henry 8th, an average of nearly 2,000 a-year; ta t in 1569, in the county of Somerset, forty persons are stated to have been executed in one year for robberies, thefts, and other felonies; thirty-five burnt in the hand, thirty-seven whipped. The rapines committed by idle vagrants were intolerable; at least 3,000 or 4,000 persons in every county were living by rapine, assembling in troops, committing spoil in the daytime, and magistrates intimidated from executing their duty. In 1597 an act was passed taking away the benefit of clergy from persons committing robberies in the daytime. An act of the 43d of Elizabeth, ch. 7, recites as follows:— For as much as unlawful cutting and taking away of corn and grain growing, robbing orchards and gardens, digging up and taking away fruit-trees, breaking hedges, cutting woods and underwoods, are now commonly committed," &c. Such was the state of England immediately before the passing of the Poor-law, and we find that after the passing of the Poor-law an amelioration took place, and that at the end of the reign of Elizabeth the entire capital punishments were reduced to 400 yearly, in place of 2,000, as in the reign of Henry the 8th, the preceding sovereign (Hume's history). If we refer to the condition of the people in other respects, we find it described as follows—in Hume's history, in the reign of Mary, 1558:— The frequent plagues were ascribed to dirtiness—floors commonly of clay, strewed with rushes, under which all manner of offensive dirt lies collected. Scarcely a chimney to the houses, even in large towns; the fire kindled by the wall sought its way out by the roof, door or window beds, a sack of chaff with a round log of wood for a bolster; houses built of sallow or willow; oak dedicated to the use of the rich. Now, if we refer to the accounts of the condition of the people lately published from various quarters, we find a progressing descent to the condition above described; we find them gradually losing both the comforts and decencies of life in their houses. The operation of the Poor-law as formerly established in the prevention of crime is further proved by a reference to the facts given by official returns as to crime at present, and previous to the enactment of the New Poor-law Bill. It appears from Parliamentary returns, Session 1842, that from 1834 to 1841 crime has increased as follows:—

England and Wales. 1834. 1841.
Offences against property with violence 1,027 1,454
Offences against properly without violence 12,177 16,285
Total of these two classes 13,204 17,739
Total of alt offences 15,995 20,280
From the above, it appears, that since 1834 to 1840 convictions for offences against property have increased about one-third, and the total of all offences has increased about one-fourth; but the most rapid increase has been in the last three years of this series regularly progressing, as appears from the following statement:—
1838. 1839. 1840. 1841.
Offences against property with violence 1,150 1,053 1,484 1,454
Offences against property without violence 13,513 14,294 15,852 16,285
Total of these classes 14,663 15,357 17,336 17,739
Total of all offences 16,785 17,832 19,927 20,280
Thus it appears that under the old Poor-law, England had prospered in an unprecedented degree, and that since the partial abrogation of that law by the new act, the descent from prosperity has progressed with extraordinary rapidity. I am ready to admit the imperfections of that law as it was latterly administered, and that it required amendment; but I maintain that its spirit should not have been violated. The vital and essential difference between the two laws is this, that by the one the poor were protected from destitution, by the other no relief is to be administered till the last stages of destitution have arrived. The one was prevention, the other is destruction. By furnishing the poor worker with work, or else with subsistence when temporary evil comes upon him, you preserve him in his condition; he is enabled again to become an independent member of society; but if you give him no aid till the last stage of destitution has overtaken him, you bring him to the condition of an irrecoverable pauper. When his employment ceases, he first gets into debt. He next pawns, first his articles of furniture, next his clothing. He parts, by degrees, with all the comforts, if not the necessaries of life. He cannot pay his rent. He is ejected. He then becomes a fitting object for your poorhouse, and if ever he leaves that house, he goes out as a vagrant; he commits crime, and becomes the inmate of a gaol. Such is the state to which your New Poor-law, in connexion with your other legislation, is reducing the people of England. You find the people now in such a condition that your Poor-law is incapable of relieving them; you have reduced them to the state of beggars, and you call for charitable subscriptions to answer the demands of these beggars. The supporters of the New Poor-law say, that the poor ought to be relieved by private charity. They say this consistently enough with their views, because charity will never be applied to any extent till extreme destitution has arrived, and even then it will not avail; but if the poor are to be thrown on the support of charity, are you to continue your vagrant law? How can the poor make known their wants except by asking alms, and if they ask alms, are they not treated as criminals of a high order? Was there not a case of this kind lately brought before the House, when a poor man, in the last degree of poverty, for the mere fact of seeking alms, was seized by a policeman and barbarously chained to a manger till it suited the convenience of this policeman to take farther steps for the enforcement of the law? Is this the fate to which the poor, industrious, working men of England are to be brought? But it had been said, that Poor-law taxation had progressed to an enormous extent, swallowing up property. But it appears by Mr. Rickman's calculations, officially made and returned to the House of Commons, that on a comparison of the amount of poor-rate expenditure and population in the years 1748, 1749, and 1750, as compared with the year 1839, the total contribution of each individual taken in the average value of wheat at each of these periods was exactly the same,—namely, forty-two pints; but in 1750, the condition of the working classes was infinitely better, because, since that time, machinery has interfered with the domestic manufacturer, by which the parent and all the members of the family could be employed at home at good wages. The most important acts which have been passed for regulating the relief of the poor were the three following—namely, the 43rd of Elizabeth, the Gilbert Act, and the Select Vestry Act; all these acts were founded on the principle that subsistence was to be given to the unemployed worker in return for work, if that subsistence be given to an able-bodied person; and the Select Vestries Act particularly placed the discretion as to this relief and the persons to receive it in the hands of representative bodies. The new law gives the representative bodies a mere mockery of power, and places the real power in the hands of three commissioners. The action of the Select Vestry Act is highly approved in the first abstract of evidence published by the commissioners, who gave instances of its successful operation in reducing the rates, and particularly in the parish of Stanford Rivers, in Liverpool, in Garstang, Lancashire, in the city of Carlisle, and in Whitehaven; in all which cases the rates had been rapidly reduced. There is a proceeding of the commissioners which cannot be passed over without comment. By their first and second annual reports we find that the commissioners exerted their utmost influence to induce a migration of working people from the rural districts to the manufacturing towns, and that they partially succeeded: Can such a principle of action be defended? Is it not manifest that although a temporary relief might by these means be obtained that a permanent evil would be created, by multiplying the numbers of those wholly dependent on the wages of manufacture? The very reverse should have been the course; instead of increasing the masses in the manufacturing towns, the manufacturers should have been induced to erect their mills in the rural districts, and thus combined the double means of support to be derived from manufacture and agriculture. The commissioners have now permitted an out-door test to be acted on, but from the previous disposition manifested, can it be doubted that they will make the terms of this test so severe as to deprive the poor of any use of it? Can their discretion be trusted in the humane administration of any test? Besides, this test is only permitted at present to be applied in five unions. Can it be supposed that if these five unions require it, there are not a multitude of other unions in which it would be requisite? I have now endeavoured to place before the House the principles of the act which you are called on to renew, and the principle of action on. which the commissioners carried it into operation. You are called on to renew both the act and their powers. You are called on to make nonentities of the representative bodies which you have constituted, and to leave for five years the care of the poor in the hands of these commissioners. Will you do so? Will you practically upset the grand principle of the British constitution, which places the power of taxing and the disposal of that taxation in the hands of the representatives of the people? Eight years should have given sufficient experience of the regulations generally necessary. Let Parliament, then, enact such regulations as it shall deem fit, but let not the lawmaking for the poor be left in the hands of an arbitrary oligarchy of three individuals. I do not deny that a court of appeal might be proper, but this court should have no other power than to decide whether boards of guardians had acted according to law, or the reverse. With reference to the outdoor administration of relief, I do not ask that the able-bodied poor should receive aid without the demand of work in return; but this work should be given with humanity, according to their strength and power of working and former habits of work; and the wages should be such as to afford a fair subsistence for themselves and their families. This I hold to be the wholesome principle of the original Poor-law, and I desire to see it restored not only in name but in substance. These are the principles which I wished to see tarried into operation, and I now call upon the House to reject a measure which goes to continue all that is objectionable in the system, which goes to continue all those powers of the commissioners which, in my opinion, have been grossly abused. Nothing, I can assure the House, is further from my wish or intention than to make this a party question. I am convinced there are many hon. Members who, at the time they gave their support to the New Poor-law, did it with the best intentions, and through a sincere desire of benefitting the country. But I now call upon those hon. Gentlemen to look to the experience of that law, not obstinately to adhere to any preconceived opinions it be may have entertained regarding it, but to judge of it the by results it furnishes, by the effects of its operation, and if they find that in the working of it the poor have been materially injured, and that they are likely still to be injured by its continuance, then do I hope that they will not persevere in a course which must be obviously unjust towards those who most stand in need of our protection. I thank the House for the attention with which I have been heard in endeavouring, as far as I could, to lay before it the principles of this bill, and the ground upon which I now move that it be read a second time this day three months.

Captain Pechell

had great satisfaction in seconding the motion which had been so clearly and so ably brought forward by his hon. Friend. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in introducing his bill, had appealed to the compassion and good feeling of hon. Members, and expressed a hope that the House would entertain it in a genuine spirit of charity, benevolence and good will. But what must have been the surprise of the House, after such a commencement, to find that the bill contained not a single alleviation of those clauses which operated with so much severity and cruelty. The right hon. Baronet had frankly announced his intention of abolishing the Gilbert Unions; while the right hon. Baronet avowed that he would not interfere with the local acts, because the law already gave sufficiently the power of doing that. Now, he was hostile to the powers of the commissioners, because he saw that there was no hope for the local acts unless those powers were abrogated. He should therefore give his strenuous opposition to every part of the measure, and take every means of defeating it. [The hon. Member entered into some details concerning Gilbert's Act to prove that it authorised relief near the pauper's place of residence, and that the right hon. Baronet (Sir James Graham) had not accurately quoted it.] The hon. Member continued:—As for what the Poor-law Commissioners said of that act, their reports had only misled the country;—they had been founded on wrong data, and, like all the other measures of the commissioners with reference to these unions, they had only had for their object to distract, torment, and wear out the Gilbert guardians, as indeed they must have distracted and tormented any one less hardy than a Somerset-house commissioner. The right hon. Baronet had averred that under the Gilbert Act the employer might be one of the guardians, and that the man might agree with his employer and guardian what proportion he would pay and what sum should come out of the parochial fund. Now, the burden of proof in this case lay with the right hon. Baronet, and he challenged him to state one case in proof of his allegation. But those were the sort of general charges made against all who acted under the Gilbert enactment. It was on a par with the allegation that all the Gilbert guardians were illiterate men, and men who were not likely to act for the interest of their parishes. Certainly, with respect to the latter part of the allegation, there was pretty good proof that they knew their own interest in the fact that they had resisted the incorporation of the unions over which they presided. Then another complaint of the right hon. Baronet's was, that there was no harmony between the Gilbert and the Poor-law Act unions, and that they could not coexist, because the Gilbert Guardians could not send able-bodied men to their workhouses. Now this assertion was also not borne out by the facts. He would quote a case which had arisen in 1835, and which had been submitted to the opinion of the late Attorney-general, now Lord Campbell. That learned Crown officer delivered the following opinion on the point:— I am of opinion that guardians under Gilbert's Act may order into the workhouse poor persons able and willing to work, when their being in the workhouse is compatible with their having employment under the 32nd section of the act, but not otherwise. But then another great ground of objec- tion was, that beer was supplied to the paupers under Gilbert's Act. That seemed to be a heinous crime, and was in fact the ground for all these clauses. Again, it was said that these unions offered geographical impediments to carrying out the Poor-law. Now, certainly that would be an excellent objection to the completeness of a game preserve; but he really thought it was immaterial whether the Poor-law unions were square, round, or of any other imaginable shape. Indeed, the idea of uniformity was discarded by the right hon. Baronet himself, so that he cut from under his argument the very groundwork of his own objection. But, turning to the other side of the question—contemplating the great interests involved—he must say, that when he saw so large a number of families enjoying the benefits of Gilbert's Act, he thought that House ought to act with some caution, when they were asked to consent to the entire abrogation of that system. At the present time there were 294 parishes with a population of 182,473 receiving the benefits of this act. In addition to these, there were 228 parishes with a population of 1,182,600 incorporated under local acts. Thus altogether 1,500,000 of the population of this country were enjoying freedom under their own acts, and under an act of Parliament which they had been at great trouble to obtain, and which they considered to have been satisfactorily administered. On a previous occasion, the right hon. Baronet had stated the number of persons living in parishes under Gilbert's Act at only 155,000. He had reason to doubt the correctness of that statement, and he found on inquiry that there were 182,000 and more persons taking advantage of its operation in 1831, whilst under the census of 1841 that number had increased to nearly 200,000. He might, therefore, have named 2,000,000 as the amount of the population not subject to the control of the Poor-law Commissioners. He was quite aware, that the great object of the Government was to deal what had been styled "a heavy blow and a great discouragement" at the nuisance, as they thought it, of the Gilbert Unions, and eventually at all other unions not under the control of the commissioners. The right hon. Baronet had, indeed, stated that this bill would not interfere with the operation of local acts, and so far he was correct in his assertion. The people were quite aware, however, of the power placed in the hands of the commissioners, and after the decision of Lord Denman in the Brighton case, in which it was adjudged that the commissioners had the power to build the workhouses, they were on the alert against every encroachment. After all he had heard, he should indeed be wanting in his duty to his constituents if he did not at once declare his intention of opposing this measure in every stage and in every way in his power. Before it was advanced an inch further it ought to be shown that the Poor-law had given satisfaction to the country. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet who sat on the Ministerial bench (Sir E. Knatchbull) would take an early opportunity of stating how far he was satisfied with the working of the measure in Kent. He fully recollected that in February, 1841, the right hon. Baronet had refused to consent to any bill on the subject unless he was so satisfied, and that he had then come down to that House, and expressed the strong feelings he entertained at the refusal of certain boards of guardians in that county to provide food or labour for the poor during the time they were out of employ, in consequence of the snow of the preceding year. He hoped that the right hon. Baronet would state what had been the result of his experience since that time, and that they should find from his explanation that the statements which had gone forth in the public papers had not had any foundation in fact. Now, it had been stated by the hon. Member below him (Mr. S. Crawford) that crime had increased throughout the country since the passing of the Poor-law. He had no doubt of the fact, and he would further express his conviction that crime would be found to have prevailed to the greatest extent in those parts where the Poor-law had been the most rigorously enforced. In his own county, Sussex, it had been stated at a late meeting of the magistrates in quarter sessions assembled, that the Lewes House of Correction was filled to overflowing, chiefly by persons committed for offences in the union workhouses. At his instigation a return on this subject, showing how many of these crimes had been practised in the Gilbert and Poor-law union houses respectively, had been ordered, and he could not but express some surprise that it had not been laid upon the Table. At that meeting it was also stated that the county had been put to great expense owing to these offences, and he would, with their permission, read to the House a short document giving a sample of the sort of crimes for which those committals took place. The case he referred to was that of a boy named Robert Crouch, who was charged before the magistrates on the Battle bench with running away with certain articles of clothes belonging to the guardians of the union. That charge was, in effect, that he walked out of the workhouse with his jacket and trousers on, and perhaps it was not quite so heinous an offence as that of the police, who commonly of a morning took away the clothes of the boys who were found after certain hours bathing in the Serpentine. But let the House hear the particulars. The master of the house stated that the boy had not long returned from the House of Correction at Lewes, where he had committed the same offence. As soon as he returned he again absconded and returned again to the house, where he endeavoured to instil into the minds of the other boys that Lewes gaol was better than the union-house, and several boys had run away for the purpose of being committed there. The magistrates said, it seemed extraordinary that the guardians should apply to the bench on such occasions. It appeared, on the following day, that this boy and another absconded, and were taken by a policeman and placed in confinement in the union-house. During the night they contrived again to escape; one was retaken and committed by a magistrate at Hastings to Lewes gaol for three months, which was just what the boy most desired. He understood that since this case had been heard the magistrates had grown quite tired of such proceedings, and had given notice that such charges must not be brought before them. Therefore it was, that he said it was only fair and just that before they abrogated the Gilbert system they should show that they intended to supersede it by some system of superior management. They ought to hold out some inducement to take such a course. They should soften opposition by showing that some benefit would be likely to accrue—either in the lessening of the expenses, in the better and kinder treatment of the poor, or in the improvement of the general workhouse regulations. He would only further say, that as he had never at any one time made this a party question, so he should now continue to pursue the course he had always taken—that of treating the matter fairly and justly, and without consideration as to the political views of the party in power. Entertaining these opinions, he should most gladly second the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale.

Mr. Pakington

hoped for the indulgence of the House whilst he stated the reasons which induced him to give his most cordial support to the measure which had been brought in by her Majesty's Ministers. There had been so much misconception of the entire principle of the measure, arising from a well-intentioned, but misplaced humanity, and in addition to this such unscrupulous endeavours had been made to excite the bad passions and the angry feelings of the people against it, that it was the duty of every man who had given the subject his conscientious attention, and who was desirous to afford the law a fair trial, without undue prejudice on the one side or partiality on the other, not to shrink from the bold expression of his opinions, whatever unpopularity might attach to them. He was glad to find that in the measure about to be introduced, Ministers had not been induced to swerve from the principle of the Poor-law. When a brief discussion took place on this question in last September, he ventured to express his hope that whilst Government would not hesitate to relax any of the provisions which might be found to operate with undue severity, no important principle should be compromised. He was glad to perceive that there were many useful alterations made in the bill, but he was equally pleased to find its main principles were preserved, and it should therefore have its support, for he was perfectly convinced that it was a measure of all others best calculated to promote the true interests of the working classes themselves. He should not follow the hon. Member for Rochdale through all the topics which the hon. Gentleman touched, such as the conduct of the policeman chaining the prisoner to the bed-post, as he did not see how such a case bore upon the question. There were two objections, however, of the hon. Gentleman to which he would address himself. The hon. Gentleman first objected to the commissioners, and next to the workhouse test. Now to him it appeared utterly impossible that the measure could be properly carried out, through all its complex details, without some central guiding authority. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman himself admitted the necessity of some central control. As to the commissioners, he was of opinion that, whilst some of their acts might, perhaps, be open to cavil, it must, on the whole, be admitted that they performed a delicate and difficult duty with great judgment and impartiality; and while he was on this subject, he must bear the testimony of his approbation to the late appointment of Sir E. Head, which was highly creditable to the Government, inasmuch as it showed the appointment to have been made apart from party consideration, and merely with a view to the due discharge of the duties involved. Last year he dissented from the proposal of vesting such power as was proposed in the commissioners, unless it was subjected to Parliamentary revision; but, at the same time, he thought it necessary to secure to them independence of action, by not having their appointments made from year to year, but for a sufficient given time. There could be no greater proof of the necessity of a central controlling body than what had recently taken place at Easingwold. There the guardians threw up their offices, because out-door relief would not be allowed to the able-bodied mothers of illegitimate children, to which relief the commissioners very properly objected. The relief was attempted to be justified on the ground of the deserving character of the parents, who never before had had illegitimate children, and were under twenty-two years of age; but if such an argument were to be allowed, and out-door relief granted, how could it be refused to poor but respectable widows? If every board of guardians showed such a disregard of sound principle, and abandoned their functions in such a way, there could be no more convincing proof afforded that it was necessary there should be a central board, to step in and check such irregularities. This, then, was one of the reasons why he approved of the commission. The next, and perhaps the most important, point in the measure was one of the provisions to which the hon. Member for Rochdale objected—namely, the workhouse test. The hon. Gentleman expressed great disapprobation of this part of the measure, and adduced several instances of alleged abuse as occurring in the workhouses under the existing law. Amongst these he enume- rated the Hoo, the Bridgewater, and the Sevenoaks Unions. He could not do better, as regarded this part of the argument, than slate to the House some of the malpractices which took place under the old law. He would take an instance from the general report of Mr. Mott, the assistant Poor-law Commissioner. In the first annual report Mr. Mott stated:— There are some of the parochial establishments for the reception of the poor which are positively a disgrace to our common nature. In the report on the workhouse of St. Philip and St. Jacob, out-parish of B s-tol, there occurred the following:— The state of the workhouse was filthy in the extreme—the appearance of the inmates dirty and wretched. There was no classification whatever—men, women, and children being promiscuously huddled together. In one corner of the building, I discovered a most dismal filthy looking room. I entered it, and the scene which I witnessed it is impossible to forget; it reminded me of a coal-cellar, or any place rather than the residence of a human being. The sole tenant of this miserable abode was a poor distressed lunatic. His appearance was pitiable in the extreme; his clothing was ragged; his flesh dirty as the floor; his head and face were bruised, apparently from falls.…. I endeavoured to arouse this poor pitiable fellow-creature, but the attempt was useless—all sensibility had forsaken him. To the very great shame of the parish officers, I found he had been in this disgusting state for years. In the report of Mr. Pilkington— Mr. John Hunt, who is surgeon to one of the districts of the Westbourne Union, stated to the board, that on visiting the Bosham workhouse—a house which had not then been altered from the system in which it had been left by the overseers acting under the old administration—he one day found a married man standing up in bed in the middle of the day, with nothing on but his shirt; while two young women, one of whom was daughter to the governor of the house, were making a bed adjoining the one on which he was standing. The old governor has been discharged by the board of guardians, and these indecencies have been prevented by a proper separation of the sexes. When Mr. Weale, now one of the Assistant Poor-law Commissioners, visited the workhouse at Horsham, at my request, he found several couples of able-bodied married persons regularly sleeping, without any partition or screen between them, in the same room; while several young females were also sleeping in a corner of it. He also found a highly dangerous lunatic in chains in the common sleeping room. As the hon. Member for Rochdale had spoken of the alleged abuses of the new system, he would ask the House to compare the two, and he would put it to them to say, whether details so revolting and disgraceful to human nature as he had just enumerated, were not utterly inconsistent with the useful application of a Poor-law. There was another point to which he would call the attention of the House, in comparing the old with the new system. He had just stated the condition in which a pauper lunatic had been for four years, and that arose from the fact, that under the old system there was no security against abuse, for no one knew what was going on, and there could consequently be no detection. Contrast that state of things with what had been said respecting the Sevenoaks and Hoo Unions. He did not mean either to palliate or defend the conduct of the master of the Hoo Union, but it was seen, that his conduct had been inquired into, he himself had been brought to trial, and he suffered three months' imprisonment. It should, however, be taken into account in bringing a great experiment which was to extend over the whole kingdom into operation, that it was not possible, in the first instance, to find persons who were all fully qualified to aid in carrying it out. With respect to Sevenoaks, no person could regret more than he the illness which sprang up there, or the misconduct which had taken place. But what was the result? The guardians refused to build a new workhouse when the inmates were found to be too numerous. In the spring of last year, attention was called to the fact that a glandular affection had exhibited itself amongst the children, and yet the guardians postponed increasing the establishment. This conduct led to an order on the part of the commissioners for the purpose of preventing the House being over-crowded, and this showed, that the poor could not be neglected, or abuses suffered to exist with impunity, whilst the Central Board had the power of correcting the evil. If, then, he wanted an argument in favour of the commission, the transactions which had taken place at Bridgewater, Sevenoaks, and Hoo, would serve to show their utility in bringing abuses to light, and secure the public from any fear of their continuance. There must be some test, and, in his opinion, none was better than that afforded by a well regulated workhouse. Workhouses were not almshouses, but places of last resort for persons thrown for support upon the public, and where three of the greatest advantages which persons in their position require,—namely, a good shelter, abundance of fire, and wholesome food, those three things were not denied in the workhouse—and if the poor man was sure of enjoying at the time of need what the honest and independent workman frequently wanted, he could not complain of some necessary restraint imposed, and some useful restrictions adopted. The outcry against the bill was raised by those who took no part in its administration, and was the result in many instances of good and benevolent, but mistaken feelings. He was convinced, that if those who from such motives now opposed it, were to lend their aid in administering the law in kindness, in justice, and in mercy, the complaints now made would not be so prevalent. There was one part of the bill, however, which he was inclined to consider with no little hesitation. He meant that part of the measure which related to the educational districts. This part would involve considerable expense, and it was very questionable, taking into account the great expense which had been already incurred in erections, whether it would be judicious to add a new item for schools. Whilst he applauded every measure for the promotion of education, he still thought it questionable whether illegitimate children who had been abandoned by their parents and thrown upon the country for support, should enjoy advantages which were denied to the children of honest and independent labourers. He was pleased, however, with the proposal of district committees, which would prevent the necessity of long journies; that he considered a wholesome alteration. With respect to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Brighton, he must utterly dissent from the doctrine laid down respecting the Gilbert Unions. It was essential to the well-working of the bill that the existence of these Unions should not interfere with the unity of action of the measure throughout the whole country. On the contrary, he regretted that there were two omissions of what, if he remembered correctly, had been introduced into the bill of last year. One related to the payment of county-rates by the board of guardians, and the other had reference to the rating of small dwellings. With re- spect to the expense, the amount of the rates under the old law was enormous and a great saving had been effected under the new system. When he spoke of this point, he always guarded himself against being supposed to mean that this was the great or primary object of the Poor-law Amendment Act. The primary object of that Act was to restore habits of industry and independence to the English peasantry. He believed that it was well adapted to effect its object, and that in many instances it had already succeeded in that object. He believed it to be, in all its principles, a sound and wholesome law, and he would not be deterred by any prejudice or clamour that had been raised, or any unpopularity of which he might be the object, from giving his assent to the bill now before the House.

General Johnson

observed, that opinions respecting this measure were more contradictory, on both sides of the House, than on any other which he remembered. The hon. Member had talked of uniformity of system as the main advantage to be obtained by the original measure, but that ground had been totally abandoned by the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, in his speech on introducing the present bill. No other advantage had ever been held out as likely to result from the appointment of the commissioners than that they should enforce uniformity. They had now held power for eight years, and had totally failed to enforce it. Was there any security, if five years' more power were granted to them, that they would do any better than they had done during the last eight years? They had sown disunion instead of establishing uniformity. The Poor-law Amendment Act had set man against man throughout the country, beyond any measure that House had ever passed. It had stirred up hatred between the employer and the employed—a hatred which would never be forgotten so long as the law continued in force. As for the assistant-commissioners, he should be glad to know from any one who could inform him, of what sort of use they were. He had spoken to the chairmen of several boards of guardians, and had never been able to ascertain from any of them that those commissioners were of the slightest use whatever. They were an incumbrance on the boards; they im- peded their proceedings, and did no earthly good whatever. That was an expense, therefore, which might be saved to the country. It was a mere source of patronage, which had better be got rid of. One part of the subject he wished to advert to, which had been totally overlooked by the hon. Member who had just sat down—the extreme difficulty experienced under this law by the poor in obtaining medical relief. The distance they had to travel before reaching the place where it could be obtained was often very great; and when the place was reached, the granting relief was entirely at the option of the medical man, who, it was probable, said he would come next day. He knew a case where a sick man had to go twenty-nine miles, backwards and forwards, over the union in search of relief; the medical man did not see him until the third day, and he died on the fourth. Another great objection to this law was, that it treated good and bad men alike. Whether it was the misfortune or the vice of an individual that made him a pauper, he was dealt with in the same way. The authorization of out-door relief was at the discretion of three men at Somerset-house who could know nothing more of the expediency of granting it than the box on the table. They had forbidden it wherever they dared, although their proceedings had been counteracted by the guardians of several Unions who had given out-door relief in spite of their order. Those Unions succeeded best which paid least attention to the orders of the commissioners. The amount of the poor-rates considerably decreased in the last three years before the act passed, but during the last four years it had most materially increased in almost every Union. The ratepayers were crying out against the enormous salaries paid to the commissioners and their officers. He was of opinion that the overseers had, in many cases, a fair claim to be paid for their services. They had often to go ten or twelve miles in and out, and a day was of consequence to farmers attending the board, particularly at certain periods of the year. In the Union with which he was connected they had been obliged to send to the next town to procure guardians to make a board. If guardians were to be employed that way, they had better be paid for their attendance. He thought the poor would have a better chance of being attended to if the guar- dians were paid for their time, than if they were put to the loss of their time and trouble. By the present bill, it was proposed to give power in cases of bastardy to imprison the father of the child under certain circumstances. If the mother could be supported for 1s. 6d. per week, it would be hardly worth while to prosecute the man. He would suggest, that the man should be obliged to support the woman during her lying-in month and pay her expenses. It had been said, that the present act worked well; he was of opinion it worked well for none but those who had to work it. Was it just to subject those for whose benefit it was pretended the act was passed, and who had no representatives in Parliament, to the control of the gentlemen of Somerset-house, who could know nothing of the local circumstances of the various districts? He objected most strongly to the system of centralization established by the act. Our forefathers were perfectly well able to take care of themselves and of all the inhabitants of their parishes, and why should not the present generation do as much? Why should the commissioners of Somerset-house, who were responsible to nobody, have the power of making laws? Why should the people be delivered up to the power of the commissioners without any liberty of appeal from their judgment in every case? It had been said, previous to the passing of the new law, that it would raise the value of labour and the rate of wages, but it had, on the contrary, lowered them, and had it not been for the employment afforded by railroads for five or six years, it would have depressed them much more. Would any man say, that wages in the south and west of England were not scandalously low, much lower than they ought to be? He did not know of any instance in which the New Poor-law had raised wages. The labourers were entirely in the hands of the guardians, their chief employers, who regulated the rate of wages, as must always be the case, by the quantity of labour in the market. The hon. Member who spoke last had drawn a parallel between the workhouses under the new act and those under the old system, but formerly it was well known there was hardly one workhouse to 100 parishes. For the reasons he had stated he should offer the present bill his most strenuous opposition.

Colonel Sibthorp

remarked, that it might be supposed he was most anxious to give his support to the measures of he present Government, entertaining as he did the highest respect for their talents and integrity, and knowing that they were possessed of every quality which could recommend them to the confidence of the country. He regretted, therefore, to be compelled by a sense of duty to stand up in that House and oppose any bill introduced by them. He objected to the measure before the House on the ground, that it would entail a very heavy and useless expense on the country. After eight years' trial of the new system, he thought that it had produced no good results; that the poor were not better taken care of, and not better satisfied under the present system, and that there had been, not a decrease, but a considerable increase, in the rates. He should give his cordial support to the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale.

Mr. Grimsditch

regretted, that such a bill as the present should have emanated from the Conservative side of the House. The existing law, as administered by the central power sitting in Somerset house, was condemned by the great mass of the people—not only by the recipients of relief, but by those who contributed to the maintenance of the poor. Within the last two years he had scarcely found a gentleman of any rank in society who considered it an improvement. On the contrary, he had heard it universally said, that unless some discretionary powers were given to the boards of guardians who had the management and distribution of the funds raised for the maintenance of the poor, the law could not be maintained. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had led the House to expect that this bill would enact some ameliorations and mitigations of the law; but, after a careful examination of its various clauses, he found it was nothing more nor less than the bill introduced last year by the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), although it was tricked out in somewhat different garments. When he found it seriously proposed that the Poor-law commission should continue for five years he could not help thinking that the object was to render it perpetual; and he had little doubt, if the country were to remain for five years longer in the hands of the commissioners exercising the powers they now possessed in the admi- nistration of the local funds for the relief of the poor, the people would be up in arms against it. The present law was based on a theory which was altogether unconstitutional. The commissioners exercised a power amounting to positive tyranny over the whole arrangements, even of the most minute character, in any way connected with the machinery of Poor-law administration. Their control extended to the appointment and superintendence of every master of a workhouse, every clerk to a union, in fact, every officer, even down to an overseer. In the union with which he was connected, a case had recently occurred which would illustrate the extraordinary manner in which they interfered in these matters. The four overseers had an assistant-overseer, who acted as clerk. In the course of last year they discovered, that he did not properly keep the accounts; indeed, it was found, that he had received monies for which he had not accounted. The overseers immediately applied to the board of guardians, whom they considered their masters, requesting that the assistant might be dismissed. The answer was, "We have no power, we are the mere tools of the Poor-law Commissioners, you must apply to them." Application was made to the commissioners through the auditor of the union, and their reply was, that the board of guardians were the proper persons to investigate the charge which had been made. The case did accordingly come before the board of guardians, consisting of some fifty persons—a little Parliament in itself. Macclesfield returned seven of that number, the remainder being guardians over a wide district round about. The board of guardians insisted that this was an affair of the town of Macclesfield, and that it was the duty of the guardians of that town to investigate it; they did, and reported unanimously to the general board that the charges had been proved. Next week the question was to be discussed whether the defaulter should be recommended to be discharged; but in the meantime the party charged went among the county guardians, and succeeded in bringing a majority of them to say, that he should not be dismissed. By-and-by an assistant-commissioner was sent down, and having stayed an hour or two in the place, reported to Somerset-house, whence the secretary announced to the board, that the commissioners saw no reason why this person should be discharged. Why should respectable men be insulted in this way, because reliance was placed on the representations of an assistant-commissioner, who held his situation only by managing to please those who appointed him? Last year, he was shocked to find, when the superintendence of parochial vaccination was placed in the hands of the Poor-law Commissioners, they were treated as a permanent body. On these grounds he should certainly vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale. It was expedient and politic, that the powers of the commissioners should be annihilated; and he did hope the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government would at no distant time apply his great mind to the whole working of this system. It was sometimes said, by those who objected to the present system, "Why don't you suggest a substitute?" He himself had, on a former occaion, suggested one to the noble Viscount (Viscount Howick) then Member for Northumberland, now for Sunderland, having lost his election for the county in consequence of his opinion on the New Poor-law; and he offered to show him how the principle of unions might be carried out to the satisfaction of the country at large and the comfort of those who received relief. Coming from so humble an individual as himself, the suggestion might perhaps have been treated with derision, but still he would frankly tell the right hon. Baronet, that if ever the system of unions was to work satisfactorily to the country, instead of paying 80,000l. a-year to the Poor-law Commissioners, they must at once reduce the size of the unions. That was absolutely necessary, and if this bill were read a second time, he trusted the House would assist him in making it imperative on the Poor-law Commissioners to reduce the size of the unions. For this purpose altogether new machinery must, of course, be introduced, and he should propose where any rule, order, or regulation was to be confirmed, it might be done by Order in Council. Some machinery of this sort, he was convinced, would be infinitely more satisfactory to the country than the administration of the Poor-law commissioners. While on his legs, he could not help adverting to one portion of the speech of the right hon. Baronet in introducing this measure. He quoted the authority of a great and distinguished man, who undoubtedly would always stand high in the estimation of the public—he meant Lord Brougham—who, in his speech on this subject, had thought it right to animadvert on those who were the framers of the salutary and mild statute of Elizabeth. Lord Brougham said, Those who framed the statute of Elizabeth were not adepts in political science. They were not acquainted with the true principles of population; they could not foresee that a Malthus would arise to enlighten mankind. The present bill, then, was intended to carry out the principles of Malthus, who insisted that no man came into the world with any title to relief from his fellowman. He had thus been led to look into the early history of pauper legislation in this country, and he found, that in 1388, the 12th of Richard 2nd, c. 7, prohibited persons from departing from the hundred in which they lived without a testimonial, which continued to be the law for 107 years. In 1495, the act 11th of Henry 7th, c. 2, required beggars to go to their place of birth without begging out of the hundred. The 19th of Henry 7th, c. 12, required them to go to the place of birth, or the place of abode for the last three years, without begging out of such place; which continued to be the law twenty-seven years. By the 22nd Henry 8th, c. 12, justices were to assign limits for begging. If out of the limits the beggar was to be imprisoned two days and nights in the stocks, and then sworn to return to the assigned limit; the able-bodied to be first whipped. The 27th of Henry 8th, c. 25, enacted compulsory relief. Every parish was to maintain its own poor, or forfeit 20s. per month. Sturdy beggars to be punished, first offence, whipped, second, the right ear to be cropped, third, to be tried at Sessions and suffer death as a felon. This law remained in force five years, but its severity prevented its execution. By the 1st of Edward 6th, c. 3, the able-bodied labourer was to be branded with the letter V, and serve as a slave for two years on bread and water, and refuse meat, and caused to work by beating, chaining, &c. If he ran away to be branded on the cheek with the letter S,—a slave for life. Second time to suffer death as a felon. Obligation of each parish to maintain its own poor on pain of forfeiture, if a city, 5l., borough, 40s., village, 20s., for not setting labourers to work. In 1550, 3rd and 4th Edward 6th, c. 16, repealed the last act, and revived the 22nd of Henry 8th, c. 12. The 5th and 6th Edward 6th, c. 2, confirmed 22nd of Henry 8th, and the 3rd and 4th of Edward 6th, and directed collections. In 1556, 2nd and 3rd of Philip and Mary, c. 5, re-enacted 3rd and 4th of Edward 6th, c. 16, in precisely the same words. The 5th of Elizabeth, c. 3, gave powers to justices to enforce contributions. The 14th of Elizabeth, c. 5, recited, That all parts of this realm of England and Wales be presently with rogues and vagabonds and sturdy beggars exceedingly pestered, by means whereof daily happeneth horrible murders, thefts, and great outrages;"— and assigned punishment for the first offence to be grievously whipped and burnt through the ear with a hot iron, of the compass of one inch about. Second, felons. Third, to suffer death as felons without benefit of clergy. Under this act, justices were to assess all the inhabitants, 1598, 39th of Elizabeth, c. 3, and 39th Elizabeth, c. 4, altered the punishment, and mitigated the severity in some degree—whipping until the body be bloody; transportation beyond the seas, or to the galleys. Four years afterwards, by 43rd of Elizabeth, c. 2, provision was made for setting to work the able-bodied, and relieving the poor and impotent. The punishment of the able-bodied was to be imprisonment in the House of Correction on a refusal to do the work set for him. There was no further alteration of the law till 3rd and 4th William and Mary, c. 11, which was the first foundation of the justices' power to order relief. The 9th of George 1st, c. 7, prohibited relief to those who refused to enter workhouses. Then came the 36th of George 3rd, c. 23rd, which gave power to the justices to order relief generally, under which the abuses so much complained of had grown up. But he contended, the present was not the law to cure those abuses. It was said, that the law in the manufacturing districts had been relaxed, and it was very proper that it should be so, for it could not be enforced. The population of those districts was of a character altogether different from that of the agricultural districts. In the report of the Assistant Poor-law Commissioners, who had been recently sent down to inquire into the state of Stockport, he found the following passage. They stated, that Eighty accounts of provident institutions had been opened at the savings'-bank in that town; a proof of a wide-spread prevalence of habits of economy. In addition to these we must, in justice to the manufacturing population of the northern counties, state, that they exhibit a degree of hardihood in the endurance of distress, and a spirit of pride and independence in regard to the receipt of parochial relief, which are not commonly prevalent in other parts of England. Again:— Those among them who have not been able or willing to leave a place where at present their labour is of little or no value, have been found enduring distress with patience, and abstaining, sometimes to the injury of health, from making any application for relief, while others, who have been driven reluctantly to that extremity, we have seen receiving a degree of relief sufficient only to support life, often with thankfulness and gratitude, and generally without murmur or complaint. He put it to the House, whether these were a class of persons who should be driven into the workhouse, their little habitations destroyed, their goods and chattels sequestrated, when a little temporary relief in sickness or distress, for a week or even a day, perhaps, might enable them to recover themselves? He believed, it was the desire of the Poor-law Commissioners to do the best they could, but it was impossible that they could have a proper acquaintance with the condition of all the various unions in the country. He did not see the necessity of the appointment of these mighty gentlemen, one of whom he perceived in the gallery. [Order.] Well, he would proceed without addressing anybody. He maintained, that the Members of the Board of Guardians, and the overseers of the poor in that part of the country to which he had referred, were as respectable, intelligent, and as anxious to do their duty as any set of gentlemen resident in the metropolis of London; but they found themselves, in consequence of the New Poor-law system, placed in a very irksome situation, being obliged to receive orders from a board which could not possibly form a just opinion of what ought to be done. He regretted, that he was obliged to vote against the present Government, but a sense of duty to his constituents and to the country at large induced him to vote with the hon. Member for Rochdale.

Sir C. Napier

said, there were many points of the present Poor-law of which he thoroughly approved, and many others to which he felt great objection. He would state shortly to what parts he objected. His first objection was to the Poor-law commissioners. He could not for a single moment understand what was the use of paying the Poor-law commissioners in London 60,00l. a-year for the purpose of supervising the affairs of the various unions in the country, of which they had no local knowledge, and interfering with those who were employed in them. In a district of South Hampshire with which he was connected there was an union of four small parishes, which had done an immensity of good to the district in which he lived. Generally speaking, the board of guardians established there had conducted the affairs of the union with great good management, and to the satisfaction of the people at large; and if all unions were equally small, he believed that the Poor-law bill would be a blessing to the country instead of a curse. He had been guardian there himself, and had paid great attention to the business. They were in the habit of giving out-door relief to elderly poor of sixty years of age, allowing each person 3s. a-week, and a man and his wife 6s. a week. The expense of keeping paupers in the house came to 2s. lld. each per week. Why, then, for the sake of saving one penny, should every poor person be driven from their homes into the union workhouses? The feeling of the guardians there was, that they ought to possess more power, and be allowed to extend the out-door relief, for the purpose of aiding deserving persons, who should not be driven into the union-house because they were not sixty years old. This was a point to which, as he believed, the commissioners objected. It was quite true that many guardians evaded the instruction of the commissioners on this head, and acted contrary to law, and when he was a guardian he certainly lent himself, as far as possible, to practices contrary to the law. In his union the elderly people were not confined as prisoners; but when they conducted themselves properly they were, on application to the master of the house, allowed to go out to walk in the country and amuse themselves. He believed that if it were permitted that the poor people should be generally treated in this way, they might be induced, instead of looking on the workhouses as they now did, as bastiles, to regard them as old seamen and soldiers did the hospitals of Greenwich and Chelsea. One great objection of the present system was this:—If a man had a wife and three or four children to support, his wages of 12s. a-week were sufficient to maintain them; but if he had eight or nine children, his wages of 12s. were insufficient for their maintenance. The consequence was that he was obliged to give up his cottage, which, if another system were adopted, might be made comfortable for him, and go into the workhouse with his eight or nine children. Was it right that good and industrious men, because they had the misfortune to have a large family, should be driven out of their cottages and kept in the union workhouse perhaps for years? He believed that the guardians generally, though they were not in the habit of acting too generously, would, if it were not for the commissioners, act with much greater generosity. It would be a far preferable course, instead of forcing the industrious man, who was exerting himself to the best of his power to provide a living for himself and family, into the workhouse, to take one or two of his children into the house, and feed, clothe, and educate them; and this would be better than giving out-door relief, which might encourage people to be indolent. He would then make use of these children in connexion with the bill of the right hon. Baronet, who was not attending to what he said, for increasing the navy. He would maintain them until they were fourteen years of age, under the express condition that they should repay their country for the care which had been taken of them, by serving their country either in the army or navy for a limited period. He did not see any reasonable objection to such a system, which would not be compulsory, but carried into effect by voluntary agreement between the guardians and the parents. He hoped his suggestion would attract the attention of the right hon. Baronet opposite. There was another part of the bill to which he materially objected, viz., the bastardy clauses. He believed the onus of maintaining illegitimate children had been thrown on the mother from a wise and just motive, namely, with the hope of rendering females more discreet. He did not believe that this part of the bill had had the smallest effect in that way, especially in the rural districts. He believed that there were as many illegitimate children born as ever, and the bastardy clauses had rendered, not the women more discreet, but the men more reckless. It was unjust towards the unfortunate girl to have the whole burden of maintaining her illegitimate offspring thrown on her. He saw that one of the amendments proposed by the right hon. Baronet was to the effect that the goods of the putative father were to be seized and sold for the maintenance of the child if it were in the workhouse, but if it were not in the workhouse, then the putative father was to escape clear. Why was this proposed? Was it to drive the unfortunate mother into the poorhouse by force; and why should not the father be obliged to come forward and support the child to the best of his power? He did not believe that the morals of the unfortunate woman would be improved by such a course of proceeding. But there was still a greater hardship. If the mother went into the poor-house she might when there receive the offer of a situation in which she would be enabled to support herself respectably and retrieve her character; but she could not accept the situation without taking her child out of the workhouse, and her wages in the country would not be sufficient to maintain herself and child. What objection could there be to enable a woman to go into respectable service by allowing her to leave her child in the workhouse, and making her pay something towards its support? In the union in which he lived there had been a woman and her child in the House for four or five years. She could get a place in a farmer's house, but she was kept in the union because her wages would not enable her to take her child out of the house. The system pursued was calculated to encourage bad conduct. He would suppose that a girl of a really bad character was living in a workhouse, together with a girl whose morals were not entirely corrupted. The bad character wished to go out of the house to have a "lark," or perhaps to amuse herself with some young man. She gave three hours' notice and set out, amusing herself for three or four days, and when she thought proper came back, pretending that she was unable to get a place. The guardians were obliged to take her in, and she might run this rig once a fortnight, or even once a week There was no law to get rid of her so long as she conducted herself well in the house. Was there sense, reason, justice, or morality in this? While the poor girl who conducted herself well could not escape from this prison, but was a prisoner there for life; but should she be offered a situation, the wages would not be sufficient for the maintenance of herself and child. He suggested whether it would not be as well in this case to allow the child to remain in the house, a charge of some 6d. or 1s. being made for its support. What could be the right hon. Baronet's reason for proposing the clause as it stood? He could not see any reason, justice, religion, or morality in it. He thought it altogether abominable and horrible. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of the house. If, as in the district to which he had alluded, every cottager was obliged to pay something, however small a sum, say a 1d. or 2d. a week—towards the poor-rate, this contribution would make him feel when he applied to the union for relief, that he had a right to it. Were such a system carried out generally, it would give to the unions something of the character of clubs, to the funds of which the poorer sort would themselves contribute. There was another point—namely, the Gilbert Unions, respecting which he had not got a clear notion. He understood from hon. Gentlemen connected with them, that they were extremely well conducted. If so, why should the Government be so desirous of interfering with them? Why not let well alone? Why try an experiment with bodies which had done a deal of good, and subject them to the inconvenience of change—for all sudden changes were bad? Though he approved of a great part of the bill, and was anxious to see it amended, yet he thought the only course left for him to pursue was to vote against the bill; for this was the only step he could take for the purpose of putting an end to the Poor-law commission.

Mr. Ferrand

deeply regretted that some Member in that House of high celebrity, or else connected with the Ministry, had not before the present hour stood forward to state the grounds on which they presumed once more to call on the people of England to support a law against which, wherever it had been carried out, there had been manifested an almost universal spirit of opposition. He rose that evening to tell the House, with every feeling of respect, in the name of the people in the north of England, that the New Poor-law Bill had been attempted to be enforced with a tyranny and oppression which it was a disgrace to Englishmen to submit to. He called upon the supporters of the law to show to him, to the House, and the country, in what way the act of Elizabeth had operated injuriously in the north of England? He had paid attention to the reports of the Poor-law commissioners, and he could not find a single passage in any one of them, and he defied any advocate of the measure before the House to place his finger on any portion of them which stated that the ratepayers of the north of England had neglected their duty. He challenged the right hon. Baronet, the father of this measure, to stand up in that House and tell the ratepayers of the north of England that they had forgotten their duty to themselves or to the poor; and that, therefore, in the right hon. Baronet's opinion, they were nothing but idiots, and the commissioners and their myrmidons were required to carry out the law for the relief of the poor in the north of England. He maintained that the act of Elizabeth had been regularly enforced, and given satisfaction to every class. The ratepayers had carefully nursed the rates, while they had not at the same time lost sight of their duty to protect the poor. He asked the right hon. Baronet, then, why he attempted to place the ratepayers of the north under an authority which, wherever it was exercised, constituted a monstrous violation of the Constitution? He was aware that the ratepayers in the south of England had forgotten their duty, and had not paid proper attention to the condition. He did not state this on his own authority; but on the authority of the commissioners, and he would show that wherever a man stood forward fairly and conscientiously to do his duty, the old law could be carried in to effect in the south. He would begin with a high authority—the county of Berks,—where the New Poor-law found its origin. It happened one day that while a noble Duke—a high authority—was taking his morning walk, he entered a vestry and found relief being granted in a headlong manner by a person whose duty it was not to grant, but to administer relief according to the directions of the ratepayers. He found this person squandering away the parish money. He inquired how this happened, and he was informed that the gentlemen in Berks were too fond of fox-hunting to attend to such parish matters. This noble Duke found that the farmers were paying the wages of their men out of the poor-rates; and, perceiving this indifference on the part of the gentlemen, he said, he would fill himself the office of overseer. He did so, and, carrying out the 43rd of Elizabeth properly, he soon brought the parish to a wholesome state. He appealed to the gentlemen of the surrounding parishes to support the law, but they would not, and the consequence was that the New Poor-law was introduced and finally made the law of the land. What said the Poor-law commissioners themselves? He appealed to the authority of a report of Mr. C. Mott, dated June 26, 1835. That gentleman stated, that:— The heavy amount of poor-rates was to be attributed to peculation and bad management almost exclusively. In a parish in Suffolk complaint was made to me, that notwithstanding there were at least thirty competent persons in the parish, the magistrates had actually appointed an old woman as overseer, and this woman is now acting as overseer of one of the badly managed parishes. It is not uncommon to find overseers appointed who can neither read nor write, and in a parish in Somersetshire, out of a population of 390 persons, only three persons besides the clergyman can read or write; one of these three persons is a respectable farmer, who about three years since went to reside in the parish, and finding the parochial matters, to which he was the principal contributor, managed so grossly bad, he undertook the task of investigating the affairs himself; the usual result followed: in less than two years he reduced the rates in that parish from 400l. per year to 100l. per year. He would then call forward Dr. Kay, another assistant Poor-law commissioner, who had authority. In a letter dated Manchester, the 22nd of July, 1835, he said:— The debasing influence of the southern method of administering or rather perverting the influence of the late Poor-law" (at the time recollect it was the late Poor-law he was speaking of) "is peculiarly evident in the character of the labourers who have migrated into Lancashire when contrasted with the population long trained to industry by the manufacturers of this country. There was a contrast between the labourer of the south and the labourer of the north! Now, having called those two assistant Poor-law commissioners as his authority for the statements he had made, that the old Poor-law was well and judiciously enforced in the north, but by the negligence of the magistrates and ratepayers jointly it was carried out in the south to the injury of the poorer classes of society, he had a right to state to that House that it was a system full of hardship, a weighty system of oppression, that the poor should be punished for the sins and omissions and commissions of the rich. If the rate-payers and the magistrates of the south forgot their duty, why was that tyranny and oppression to spread itself throughout the whole breadth of the land? Why were they to be punished who had done no wrong, who had only taken advantage of the example held out to them by others? But this system of Poor-law commissioners and assistant commissioners, which was appointed to run riot throughout the south of England, to get up a case against the old law, found that they would have great difficulty in carrying out their views unless they could manage in some way or other to get rid of what they termed the "surplus population" of the south—unless they could find some mode of driving the poor from off the soil of the south of England—of liberating the claims and demands which those poor people had on the soil—those kindred claims which he regretted to have heard so lightly mentioned by the hon. Member for Droitwich when he spoke of the benefit the poor would find in becoming the slaves of this oppressive system. The people of England had a right as old, as constitutional, and—he trusted to God this country would proclaim in a voice of thunder—as long, as sound, and as legal a right as that of any hon. Member in that House to the property he possessed. That right and that claim was to the soil of the country, and the poor of the south had a right and a claim to be protected from oppression. They had a home upon that soil to save them from destitution and want; they had more—they had homesteads on that soil; and he would tell the present proprietors in the south of England that their poorer population had been tempted into the north by that horrible system which could not be looked upon as less than an act of slavery. Many of the poor in the south of England clung with affection to their homes; they could not be driven away from the land of their birth; they knew they had a right to it, and they clung to it with steadfast feelings of affection. What was the consequence? The assistant Poor-law commissioners recommended and advised that they should be starved out of it—that they should be driven from their homes by starvation. ["No."] Did hon. Members say "No?" What said the language of the Poor-law commissioners? ["Read."] He would read, and he hoped they would allow him a fair chance of stating the whole case which he had to bring before the House, as this Session was fast drawing to a close. He felt very strongly on this question, and he should express his opinion firmly but respectfully to that House, and was prepared to substantiate every word he uttered. He would repeat that the assistant Poor-law commissioners recommended and carried out a system of starvation, to drive the poor from the south into the north of England, into a servile state of existence horrible to think of, and of which he would give a description from the pen of the assistant Poor-law commissioner himself. It was a state of monstrous, horrible oppression, in which he participated in driving those poor wretches. For those who were in favour of this bill, it had been better not to have called on him to "read." He would now read another extract from Dr. Kay's letter, dated from Manchester, July 22, 1835. And now let hon. Members, who cried out "Read, read" when he told them that the commissioners determined to starve the poor out of the south of England, listen to the words of Dr. Kay. He said— Necessity must drive some of the southern population from their present homes. Some natural yearnings for country and kindred will with others have to be overcome, and the dread of an untried change to a new and monotonous occupation must be extinguished. Had he verified his words? It was, indeed, a dreadful state for this country to be in, when a paid officer of the Government should recommend the poor to be starved out of their parishes. ["No."] What! Did hon. Members say [" No?"] Why Dr. Kay spoke of the "necessity." [Great confusion.] Let hon. Members listen. [Continued confusion.] He begged pardon of the House if they misunderstood what he had stated, he would repeat it, and if they could construe it in any other manner, he should be glad, for the honour of his country, to find that he had misinterpreted what he had read. He would trace these Poor-law commissioners in their career. He was now tracing them during the time that they ran riot in the south, and he would follow them in their course of driving the poor from the south into the north. Some hon. Members opposite seemed rather astonished, but he would read them now a letter from a manufacturer in the north of England who was in constant communication with that assistant Poor-law commissioner who had stated that necessity must drive these poor wretches from their homes. This was a letter from Mr. R. H. Gregg to Mr. E. Chadwick, secretary to the Poor-law commissioners, and he said— I have for some time thought of addressing you on the same matter as my Friend Ash-worth did some time ago, viz., the propriety of opening a communication between our (strange to say) under peopled districts and the southern over peopled ones. It is at this moment a most important suggestion, and deserves to be put into immediate operation. It must be looked on as a happy coincidence." (This was a cotton-spinner in Lancashire who wanted hands.) "It must be looked on 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 countries. He asked the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to listen to what this cotton-manufacturer said. His letter continued— This fortunate occurrence should be taken advantage of. Now, he wished particularly to inform the House, that the letter from which he was then reading was inserted in the report of the Poor-law commissioners, but some parts of it had been first cut out, because they durst not allow them to appear in their report. His hon. Friend, the Member for Oldham, whom he then saw opposite, once brought that statement before the House, and moved for an unmutilated copy of the letter to be laid upon the Table, but he was unable to carry his motion, and from that day to the present it had not been fairly brought before the public. He was therefore in the dark as to certain parts of that letter; but be thought he should be able to show to that House and to the country what was the manner in which those assistant Poor-law commissioners and their friends in the north carried on their system of kidnapping the poor in the south of England in lights so strong as to induce the House to take care that they never had the power of doing so again. The writer of the same letter continued— The suggestion I would make is this—that some official channel of communication should be opened in two or three of our large towns with your office (that was, the office of the Poor-law commissioners), or any office to which the more overcharged parishes might transmit lists of their families. Manufacturers short of labourers, or starting new concerns, might look over the lists and select, as they might require (for the variety of our wants is great) large families or small ones, young children, or grown-up men or widows, or orphans, &c. That was indeed a large class to select from—"widows, orphans, young children, or grown, up men," and an "&c." at the end of it. And then the letter went on— If this could be done, I doubt not in a short time, as the thing became known and tried, we should gradually absorb a considerable number of the surplus labourers of the south. That was the conspiracy of which he complained: that the manufacturers in the north should have entered into a conspiracy with the Poor-law commissioners to "absorb" the surplus population of the south. Had he, he asked hon. Members opposite who cried "read, read," stated what was not correct?—" It must be understood at once that we cannot do with refuse population and insubordinate sturdy paupers. We should require fair play. While food is cheap and wages high," (so said this manufacturer,) "the want of education (I do not mean the ability to read and write), which few here are without, but education which may affect manners, morals, and the proper use of their advantages, is extremely felt, and to be deeply deplored. It was not improbable that the right hon. Baronet might think he had not slated sufficient to show the conspiracy between the Poor-law commissioners and the manufacturers of the north to kidnap these poor people in the south; but he should hear another letter from a manufacturer. This was to his "respected friend Edwin Chadwick," and was from a gentleman who was somewhat notorious in the north of England as well as in the south, namely, Mr. Ashworth. It was dated— Turton Bolton, 6th Month 27, 1835. Respected friend Edwin Chadwick,—Agreeable to thy request, we proceed to give thee some account of four families who have migrated from Bedlow, in Buckinghamshire, to undertake employments in our manufactures, adding such information as we have been able to obtain from them relative to their previous condition. The wages of Joseph Stevens and four children the first year was 1l. 5s.; the second, 1l. 9d.; and the third 1l. 13s. The weekly income now is 1. 8s. Previous to their removal it averaged 14s. 2d. The Bucks people have sent a number of families to the neighbourhood of Staley-bridge, of which thou art aware. Our attention is constantly alive to this subject. No doubt it was; they were anxious to absorb the surplus population of the south; and he would ask hon. Gentlemen on both sides to listen, because he was going to show them what was the course pursued in the manufacturing districts. He would state it without making it a party question, for he who ran might read the statements that he made that evening. He did not mean to charge the writer of the letter he had just quoted with anything unfair or unjust, but he meant to say that he had mistaken his character of an Englishman, and that he had committed an egregious mistake in becoming the tool of the Poor-law commissioners. This Mr. Ashworth continued— We do not apprehend any immediate danger of the working population of this district becoming too redundant by reason of any extensive emigration from the south. He should be able to follow some of that population by and by; and he would now give the right hon. Baronet another authority from a paid agent appointed for carrying on this system of kidnapping in the south. ["Oh, oh!"] He would say that it was nothing else; and he should be glad for any hon. Member on either side of that House to give him an opportunity of answering any speech in which it was said that that was a proper manner in which to treat the poor of this country, and of exposing this most disgraceful system of tyranny. They had paid 20,000,000l. to put down slavery amongst the blacks, but they still had a system of slavery carried on in this country before their own eyes. The letter from which he was about to quote was from a Mr. Beard, a kind of paid agent for passing the poor from the south to the north. It happened, however, that they did not always find their way to the office of that gentleman; for he knew it to be a fact that some of them were one night turned out of a cart at Blackstone Edge. A man was hired to carry them in a cart from Manchester; but he grew tired of his labour and turned them out at Blakcstone Edge. What sort of a place that was hon. Gentlemen who were acquainted' with the north of England knew full well. Now, Mr. Beard's letter was dated from "Hope-hall, Manchester, July 7, 1835," and was to this effect:— I have made a further arrangement to send twelve more strong boys and girls"—(They were to be strong, it seemed)—"And have this day been introduced to several of the great spinners from Staleybridge. Amongst others, Mr. Thomas Ashton, of Hyde, and he seems to take the soundest view of migration that I have met with. Let them listen to this:— He conceives it to be impossible for too many hands to be sent. They are wanted, and must be had; and if the agricultural districts will not send them, the Irish will. I, therefore, with all due submission, beg to suggest the propriety of your taking the matter into your consideration, as some labourers were sent from Bucks in a most deplorable condition, and if this is too often repeated, migration will be greatly impeded. They were, therefore, not to send them in this deplorable condition, lest they should put a stop to that "absorption." He should not have dared to trespass on their time, if he had not considered that he had an awful responsibility attaching to him that night, and therefore, however painful it might be to him to trespass on their time, and however he might have to claim the indulgence of the House, he was going now, fearlessly, as a Member of that House, to hold up to public reprobation, from the mouth of the man himself—an assistant Poor-law commissioner, a paid agent of the Government of this country—for having assisted in kidnapping the poor, ignorant, deluded, starving wretches of the south of England into a state which they should hear described from that commissioner's own lips, in his own pamphlet—a state, indeed, of slavery, more horrible than was ever met with in a land of freedom. The writer of that pamphlet, Dr. Kay, was acting and practising as a physician in Manchester. He saw the frightful state in which the working classes existed, and he then appealed to the people of England to come forward with their Christianity and rescue them from their dreadful state, and his appeal should that night be quoted in the House of Commons as showing the true state of that society—that slavery into which the labourers from the south of England were sold by parties whose paid agent he afterwards became. He would now read some extracts from the work published by that assistant Poor-law commissioner, entitled The Moral and Physical Conditions of the Working Classes. In that work Dr. Kay said,— Instructed in the fatal secret of subsisting on what is barely necessary to life, the labouring classes have ceased to entertain a laudable pride in furnishing their houses and in multiplying the decent comforts which minister to happiness. When this example is considered in connexion with the unremitted labour of the whole population engaged in the various branches of the cotton manufacture, our wonder will be less excited by their fatal demoralization. Prolonged and exhausting labour, continued from day to day, and from year to year, is not calculated to develope the intellectual or moral faculties of man. The dull routine of a ceaseless drudgery, in which the same mechanical process is incessantly repeated, resembles the torment of Sisyphus—the toil, like the rock, recoils perpetually on the wearied operative. The mind gathers neither stores nor strength from the constant extension and retraction of the same muscles. The intellect slumbers in supine inertness, but the grosser parts of our nature attain a rank development. To condemn man to such severity of toil is, in some measure, to cultivate in him the habits of an animal. He becomes reckless. He disregards the distinguishing appetites and habits of his species. He neglects the comforts and delicacies of life. He lives in squalid wretchedness, on meagre food, and expends his superfluous gains in debauchery. There was a state into which Dr. Kay was employed to draw those poor creatures from the south of England—from their green fields and shaded lanes, their homesteads and their friends, although they had been guilty of no wrong. But he continued— The family sits round the table, and each rapidly appropriates his portion on a plate, or they all plunge their spoons into the dish, and with an animal eagerness satisfy the cravings of their appetite. And then let those hon Members who upheld that transportation from the south of England hear what Dr. Kay went on to state:— Hence, besides the negative results—the total abstraction of every moral and intellectual stimulus—the absence of variety—banishment from the grateful air and the cheering influences of light—the physical energies are exhausted by incessant toil and imperfect nutrition. Having been subjected to the prolonged labour of an animal—his physical energy wasted—his mind in supine inaction—the artizan has neither moral dignity nor intellectual nor organic strength to resist the seductions of appetite. His wife and children, too frequently subjected to the same process, are unable to cheer his remaining moments of leisure. Domestic economy is neglected—domestic comforts are unknown. A meal of the coarsest food is prepared with heedless haste, and devoured with equal precipitation. Home has no other relation to him than that of shelter—few pleasures are there—it chiefly presents to him a scene of physical exhaustion, from which he is glad to escape. Himself impotent of all the distinguishing aims of his species, he sinks into sensual sloth, or revels in more degrading licentiousness. His house is ill furnished, uncleanly, often ill ventilated, perhaps damp; his food, from want of forethought and domestic economy, is meagre and innutritious; he is debilitated and hypochondriacal, and falls the victim of dissipation. Dr. Kay, speaking of a district of Manchester, said— This district has been frequently the haunt of hordes of thieves and desperadoes, who defied the law, and is always inhabited by a class resembling savages in their appetites and habits. It is surrounded on every side by some of the largest factories of the town, whose chimnies vomit forth dense clouds of smoke, which hang heavily over this insalubrious region. Speaking of other parts of Manchester, he said— These districts are inhabited by a turbulent population, which, rendered reckless by dissipation and want, misled by the secret intrigues and excited by the inflammatory harangues of demagogues,ߞ ["Hear, hear."] Hon. Members cried "hear, hear." He could put his finger on some of those demagogues. [Cheers.] He knew what that cheer meant; but he challenged any hon. Member to place his finger on one word that he had ever uttered, either in public or in private, but what was calculated to excite loyalty to his Queen and obedience to the laws of the land. He would say, "Go thou and do likewise." Dr. Kay said, that the population of those districts had Frequently committed daring assaults on the liberty of more peaceful portions of the working classes, and the most frightful de- vastation on the property of their masters. Machines have been broken, and factories gutted and burned at mid-day, and the riotous crowd has dispersed ere the insufficient body of police arrived at the scene of disturbance. The civic force of the town is totally inadequate to maintain the peace, and to defend property from the attacks of lawless depredators. And then Dr. Kay went on to say— Though they labour fourteen hours and upwards daily, they earn only from 5s. to 7s. or 8s. per week. And then, assuming the population of Manchester to be 230,000, he stated— More than one-half of its inhabitants are either so destitute or so degraded as to require the assistance of public charity in bringing their offspring into the world. He then went on to say— The children thus adopted by the public are often neglected by their parents. The early age at which girls are admitted into the factories prevents their acquiring much knowledge of domestic economy; and even supposing them to have had accidental opportunities of making this acquisition, the extent to which women are employed in the mills does not, even after marriage, permit the general application of its principles. Now, he would only give one more quotation from this assistant Poor-law commissioner. Speaking of the view which a stranger might take of this state of things, he said— When he turns from the great capitalists, he contemplates the fearful strength only of that multitude of the labouring population, which lies like a slumbering giant at their feet. He has heard of the turbulent riots of the people—of machine-breaking—of the secret and sullen organization which has suddenly lit the torch of incendiarism, or well nigh uplifted the arm of rebellion in the land. He remembers that political desperadoes have ever loved to tempt this population to the hazards of the swindling game of revolution, and have scarcely failed. In the midst of so much opulence, however, he has disbelieved the cry of need. This was the language of a now assistant Poor-law commissioner giving an account of the manufacturing district of Lancashire. Yes, this was his language before he became an assistant Poor-law commissioner, when he was a physician practising at Manchester, with every chance of obtaining an intimate acquaintance with the condition of the poor; and this was what he said, speaking from his own ocular demonstration—this was the agent and assistant commissioner of those men whom the House were now called upon to re-invest with an exorbitant power for another five years—this was the man who afterwards became the agent of the Poor-law commissioners in kidnapping, or, if the House liked a more mild phrase, in transporting, the poor from the south into the north of England. He said in his report of the 22nd July, 1835— It is certainly grateful to a benevolent mind"—(to the benevolent mind of Dr. Kay)—"to have (with whatever partial mingling of ills) to offer so great a boon as thrice the amount of the present earnings and parish allowance of the southern labour; independent industry for pauperism; abundance for starvation; a home of comfort for a hovel of wretchedness. Now, would any hon. Member, after the exposure which he had that evening made of this assistant Poor-law commissioner, presume so far on the patience—he would say on the indulgence—of the House, as to venture to stand up in his place and ask them to sanction the authority—it was more than authority, it was reckless power, that the Poor-law commissioners had been invested with—to sanction the reckless power of these men for another five years? Were the poor of the south absorbed? Would the Poor-law commissioners come to the Bar of the House and say that they were absorbed—that there was to be no more kidnapping for the purpose of fixing them in a state of slavery under the manufacturers of the north? Would those gentlemen and their assistants come forward and say that they were deeply sorry for the offence of which they had been guilty—for offence it surely was in this Christian country—in being participators in passing the poor of the south from the land of their home to endure slavery amidst the scenes he had described? He would now, with the permission of the House, ask a question, the answer to which he looked for from the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham). Where were the poor who had been transported from the south to the north? Where were they at that moment? Had the Poor-law commissioners rendered any return of those who had died, or were dying? or of those who were suffering starvation? or of those who had been torn limb from limb by machinery, and who were wandering as cripples through the country? This was the question he asked, and this was a question which the House of Commons ought to have an answer to. They ought to demand from the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department a full and complete answer. It was no trifling question, or one relating to a small body of the people of this country. Tens of thousands had been passed, in the prosecution of this hideous scheme, from their homes in the south to the manufacturing districts. What was their fate? Had the right hon. Baronet any cheering accounts to give of them to their friends? Had he any account to give? Did the Poor-law commissioners know anything about what had happened to these poor people—were they able to tell the country anything about them? What had become of them? Were they wandering through the country wretched outcasts, after having been told by assistant Poor-law commissioners Kay and Mott that they should never know want? Could the right hon. Baronet render any account of them? Because, if he could not, then he (Mr. Ferrand) called upon the House not to repose any further confidence as to this matter in the right hon. Baronet. He would tell the right hon. Baronet that it was his belief that the country would not agree to maintain this system much longer. They would not see much longer the constitutional laws of this country and the laws of the Bible at once trampled under the feet of this triumvirate. It was said in that holy book, "Vengeance is mine, said the Lord, I will repay." And would He not bring on a retribution for these things? Has He yet repaid? Let the House look to what had been the state of the country since the New Poor-law came into operation in the northern part of this kingdom. The effect of the law had been to break through the old-established laws of this country, as well as those of the Bible itself, which enjoined men to "succour the poor and needy," and to put these poor men from the moment they left the land of their birth into the hands of men who rolled in exorbitant wealth, and which he might say was their idol, and who cared not for the poor. What had been the result? From that moment the trade of the district had sunk; it had decayed from day to day, from year to year, in a continuous decline. If the House was to be guided by the laws of religion, there was surely something for them to study in this result. But he had another point which he was desirous of bringing under the attention of the House. These poor wretches had been passed from their homes in the south into the manufacturing districts of the north, not for their own welfare, but in order to save eventually the pockets of the rate-payers of the southern parts of England. Now, he had watched the annual reports of the Poor-law commissioners, and the burden of their song had been that they had saved a large sum to the country. In their last report they said, that in the year 1841 they had saved, as compared with the year 1834, the year previous to the passing of the act, 1,556,326l. When this act was first brought foward, its chief advocates declared that there was no determination to carry it out oppressively; that there was no intention to separate man and wife in the union workhouses; or to tear the child from the bosom of its mother. He would quote a passage from a speech of Lord Brougham:— He had to give the most distinct, unequivocal, and peremptory contradiction to the statement relative to the alleged separation of families in contemplation under the proposed plan. No one ever entertained such an intention; but undoubtedly one or two workhouses in the union would be converted into hospitals, and the sound would not be shut up with the sick as heretofore. This was all the separation that could be contemplated. No child of an age to require nurture would be separated from its parent, nor would husband and wife be parted. That was the language of Lord Brougham, the parent of the New Poor-law, in the debate on the Stoke Poges petition; and on the points there noticed he called on both sides of the House to express their opinions fully and frankly. He would next ask the right hon. Baronet another question. Had the Poor-law commissioners been enabled to carry out this law in the north of England? Were they able to carry it out there? That was the question to be decided. They had attempted to carry it out there, and they had failed, and they knew that it was utterly impossible to carry it out there even if every rate-payer in the country would lend his willing aid; and if the enactment was as just as it was unjust, the Poor-law commissioners knew that they could not carry it out there, because the mass of the population would prevent them. But he had a particular charge against the commission- ers. In direct violation of their last report they had attempted to carry out the New Poor-law in his own union, and in a manner more unjust and more arbitrary than in any case that he had ever heard of. He found, from the last report of the Poor-law commissioners, that the order prohibiting out-door relief to the able-bodied and limiting their relief to the workhouse is inapplicable under two sets of circumstances—first, where the permanent state of the union is such as not to admit of its issue; secondly where the ordinary state of the union admits of its enforcement, but the workhouse is temporarily full. Now, he resided in a large manufacturing district inhabited by a population of somewhere about 50,000 souls, and yet, depressed as trade had been, ruinous as the poor-rates had been, in that district, the Poor-law commissioners, knowing all this, for the purpose of attempting to practise their absurd and ridiculous ideas on this subject, had issued to the guardians a prohibition of out-door relief. They had ordered that no able-bodied person should have one farthing's relief unless he threw up all the work he had and went into the workhouse. This order was put in force on Monday week, but it was his opinion if the commissioners persisted in enforcing it, a worse state of ruin would instantly ensue. They would find that the poor, instead of being summoned by hundreds as at present before the magistrates for not paying poor-rates, would be summoned by thousands; instead of summoning them by hundreds because they could not pay 2s. 6d. a week, they would be summoned by thousands for not paying a less sum. A short time before leaving his own union to come up to town, he was told of the following case: A poor man who had not had any work for weeks, was summoned before the magistrates, to show cause why he did not pay his poor-rates. He found the man one day standing at the door of the board of guardians of the union, and upon his questioning him, he said that he was out of work and had 3s. a week allowance from the board, which he had just got, but that as he was coming out he was met by an officer, who deducted 2s. 2d. for poor-rates, so that he was only left 10d. to keep himself and his wife and family for the whole week, and all for having been summoned to pay rates which he was unable to pay. This he found to be correct upon going back to the board, and he must tell the House that, in his opinion, hundreds of thousands, if the Poor-law were to be carried out in the north of England would be subjected to the same distress as this poor man. But with respect to another point, he asked, was it not a monstrous cruelty which they enforced upon aged people, that at seventy, or eighty, or ninety years of age, and he knew many persons of that age, they were to be turned from their homes under the direction of the Poor-law commissioners, who were not acquainted with their circumstances, or left to starve? This was so, for there had been a distinct order that no allowance should be made to them for the rent of their cottages. This was most unjust, because there was many a loyal old person, who, after paying poor-rates all their lives, and who were now no longer able to help themselves, and yet were to be left to starve. But he asked whether it was not the duty of the rate-payers to take care that these persons should not be taken from their homes and crowded in a bastile? How, then, was the right hon. Baronet to carry out the law in the north of England? Was he aware, that in an union not twenty miles distant from his part of the country the relieving officer went his rounds under the protection of a troop of cavalry? Was this living in the light of the Constitution, as the right hon. Gentleman had pledged himself to do when he accepted office? Was it according to the laws and usages of England that your relieving officers should go about under guard of a troop of cavalry, so odious were they? The people in the north of England said, "Leave us to ourselves; we challenge you to produce one single act of injustice to the poor or to the ratepayers ever committed by us during the time that we had the administration of our own poor." He appealed to the House generally. It was not more than twelve months since they had appeared on the hustings before their constituents. They had all made great professions there of opposition to this tyrannical law, and detestation of the Poor-law commissioners and their myrmidons. He wanted to know if they were determined to stand to their professions. The electors of England were not an arbitrary body of men, they were easily satisfied; and if the House did its duty to its constituents, this bill would never pass into a law. He told the Mem- ber for Montrose that it was so, and he hoped, at any rate, that they were not ready to vote black was white. If they were true to their promises, this bill would never disgrace the statute-book, and the country would not be again handed over to the arbitrary legislation of the officials of Somerset-house.

Sir James Graham

Sir, if I understood the hon. Member who has just sat down correctly, he asked what Member would, after he had addressed the House, presume to press for the second reading of this bill. Not daunted, however, by the vehemence of the hon. Gentleman's manner, I am quite prepared to press upon the House the policy, the necessity, and the justice of passing this measure. I have been pained and astonished by some remarks which the hon. Gentleman has made on a most faithful servant of the public. Dr. Kay was unknown to me until I was placed by the favour of her Majesty in the office which I now have the honour to bold. The hon. Member spoke of "the benevolent mind of Dr. Kay" with something of a sneer. Now, I must say, that if ever there was a public servant who was faithful to his trust, of whose acquirements any gentleman might justly be proud; and whose charity, and benevolence, and kindness to the poor were conspicuous, I should name Dr. Kay as the man. That gentleman is not my private friend. I know him only as a public servant, but I think I should betray my duty if I did not stand forward to defend from attack the character of an absent man, with whom I have in every respect, so much cause to be satisfied. Now, with respect to the conduct of Dr. Kay in a matter more immediately under the cognizance of the House,—in order duly to understand that conduct dates are most important. In regard to the first passage cited by the hon. Gentleman, I really must say that I think he placed a most incorrect construction upon the words which he read to the House. Dr. Kay was speaking of the condition in 1832 of the labouring classes in certain agricultural districts. [Mr. Ferrand: in Manchester.] No, not Manchester. I think I am not wrong in my comprehension of what fell from the hon. Member. I understood the hon. Member to have cited particular words, which I think 1 took correctly,—that speaking of the condition of the labouring poor in certain agricultural districts, (I believe Buckinghamshire or Bedfordshire) the words of Dr. Kay were, Necessity must drive some of this population from their homes. Now, the hon. Gentleman attempted to put a gloss upon those words, the effect of which was to impute to Dr. Kay that he intended to say, that the time referred to was a very advantageous opportunity—one which ought not to be lost—of forcing from their homes and into another district this population who were so circumstanced. I will at once say, that I think this was a most unfair construction to put upon those words of Dr. Kay. That gentleman was stating a fact, not using an argument—and he was describing the condition to which, in the southern parts of England, the labouring population were at that time reduced; and if the real cause of that condition were to be inquired into it would be found to be the abuses of the old Poor-law as it existed before the introduction of the present law. Talk of the slavery, of the tyranny, of the oppression which the labouring classes now suffer under the new law! I must call the attention of the House to the condition of those classes in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire at the particular time to which the extract refers. Does the House forget what that was? I think it is recorded that in one workhouse in Bedfordshire there were fifty or sixty able-bodied men in close confinement, desiring labour but obtaining none. Even in Sussex what was the state of the labouring classes there? Why, that they were working in gravel-pits, dragging their trucks like beasts of burden. This was the condition of those classes when the act was introduced—this was the condition in which Dr. Kay found them, and which led him to say that necessity must soon drive some of them from their homes. It was at a very considerable time after that the migration which has been spoken of took place. It was at a period of unexampled prosperity in the manufacturing districts. Dr. Kay had himself an opportunity of observing in the manufacturing districts the improved condition of these people. For a time they worked well, they shared the prosperity of the district, they were faithful, and their condition was changed to this state from a state of oppression under which they had suffered in the agricultural districts where the system of rounds men prevailed—where they worked, not according to their own wishes, but were reduced to take what they could get. They changed their former unhappy condition for several years of prosperity while the season of manufacturing prosperity continued; they had their cottages, and ample wages; they subsisted in comfort; and it was not until the unhappy revulsion which occurred in those districts that they were reduced once again to reap the fruits of comparative misery; and I repeat, that I never knew of more strenuous efforts made by a public servant than those which were made by Dr. Kay to improve the condition and alleviate the miseries of his suffering fellow-countrymen. The hon. Gentleman has put to me several questions, and particularly he has asked me about the administration of the law by the Poor-law Commissioners in the North of England. I admit that the prohibitory order in many districts in the North of England, more especially in the manufacturing districts, has not been acted upon. I have always contended for the necessity of investing the Poor-law Commissioners with a discretionary power; and if I required any test of their fitness for the office which they hold, I know of no one stronger or more safe than the prudence with which they have issued, or abstained from issuing, that order. But does the hon. Gentleman really mean to contend that the poor, in the midst of the misfortunes with which they are at present surrounded, should be taught to believe that they have an absolute indefeasible right to relief without any condition whatever? Does he really mean to say, that there exists a right in able-bodied men to claim and obtain relief for their distress without any test being imposed upon them? [Mr. Ferrand: No.] The hon. Member says no. [Mr. Ferrand: In my district it is in force.] Then I tell him that there the prohibitory order is not in force, but the outdoor relief order. Let us see how the case stands. The hon. Member objects to the prohibitory order which applies a test of work, and he cites the case of his own union, in which that order is not issued. There is, however, in that union what is called the out-door labourer order, and what is that? Why, simply this—that no able-bodied man shall receive relief from the union without a task of work to be performed, not in the workhouse, but under the direction of the relieving officer. That is a test, though not a test applied in the workhouse; but if you give relief, not in consideration of work done out of the workhouse, but without work at all, then you establish that dangerous doctrine of the indefeasible right to relief. You call it relief, but you had much better call it sub- sistence upon the industry of others. A more dangerous doctrine, one more degrading—one not only subversive of the rights of property, but destructive of all order, and, therefore, inconsistent with the well-being of the labouring classes themselves,—has never been propounded in any legislative assembly. But the hon. Member cited the report of Mr. Mott, the Assistant Poor-law Commissioner, and that report is one entitled to great respect. I hold in my hand a report from Mr. Mott as to the present state and condition of this very union of Keighly, about which the hon. Member said so much. I must say, that it is unwillingly I am thus drawn from the general consideration of the measure to this local subject; but it is my duty to answer the hon. Gentleman, and to tell him what are the real circumstances attending the out-door relief order in the Keighley Union. This is, however, quite apposite to the matter in hand, for I could not have a better evidence than the history of this union affords to show the absolute necessity of some superintending control over local authorities—that which I contend is the essence and spirit of the measure the second reading of which, and therefore its principle, we are now discussing. This report of Mr. Mott is dated the 23rd of April last. Mr. Mott says, speaking of this union:— Relief in aid of wages is generally given and payment of rents to an alarming extent. The workhouses are not subject to either classification or discipline. AH the errors of the old Poor-law are followed. The paupers claim relief as their right. I need scarcely add that the rates are fast increasing. To show the mischievous extent to which the practice of paying rent has arrived, I submit the following notice, which was brought to the meeting of the guardians by a pauper, and submitted on his behalf by one of the relieving officers:—'I hereby certify, that Edward Walton will be indebted to his landlord, the Rev. John Sevire, one year's rent, 3l. 3s., on the 13th day of May next.'

[Lord John Russell

; When was this?] In April of the present year. Mr. Mott goes on:— On complaining of the deviation from the provisions of the law, the guardians stated that it arose from the interference of the magistrates. Now this is the result of the objection to the "three kings of Somerset-house,"—this is the result of a wish to revert to the local magistracy, those who can get an easy character for great humanity, those who can obtain the title of the "poor man's friend,"—this is the result of giving the power of issuing orders of relief which are to be administered by third parties. Mr. Mott goes on:—" I was surprised to find, that an opinion prevailed amongst the guardians that their proceedings in granting relief were subject to the control of the magistrates, and a case was named in which, where the guardians had granted 9s. per week to an able-bodied man and his family, the magistrates had interfered and obtained a further relief of clogs, &c. The guardians even stated, that the magistrates had fixed the 'scale' by which they were to be guided in granting relief to able-bodied paupers. This report is dated on the 23rd of April in the present year; and this is the state of things in the north of England; the very district which is favoured by the presence of the hon. Member himself, and here you have the very word "scale" adopted, which has been, it seems, exploded in the south. Mr. Mott, and bear in mind that he is an authority with the hon Gentleman, goes on to say:— The Keighley Union affords a forcible illustration of the impossibility of any union or parish being depended upon to carry out the provisions of the Poor-law without a powerful control. The report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the old system of Poor-law management has been sent to every union formed under your board; the ruinous results of such a system have been repeatedly pointed out; the mischievous effects of the power given to the magistrates under the old system of relief have all been printed and widely circulated in every union placed by your board under the provisions of the Poor-law Amendment Act. No man can plead ignorance of them, and yet the Guardians of the Keighley Union, without, as I verily believe, the least intention of doing wrong, have introduced the worst features of the old Poor-law, under the belief that they were still under the control of the magistrates to whose directions they were bound to submit. So much for the Keighley Union. And if I were not fearful of troubling the House too much, I would go further; for perhaps the hon. Member would like me to complete the picture of the Keighley Union. ["Go on!"] Well, I will go on—having shown what is the mismanagement in this union, 1 will expose some of the jobbing that has taken place there. I continue to read from Mr. Mott's report. He says— Amongst the other extraordinary proceedings of the Guardians of the Keighley Union may be named the encouragement given to lawyers to create legal disputes. My hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield complained of the manner in which the lawyers were excluded from all adjudication under the management of the existing law. Now we will see how they do act where they are employed—not by the "three kings of Somerset-house," but under the authority of the local magistracy. Mr. Mott says:— The clerk is himself a solicitor, but being paid an inadequate salary (7Ol. per year), an inducement is offered to obtain additional remuneration by legal fees. The other attornies of the town were generally desirous of obtaining a share in the profits, and on the 6th of May, 1840, I find, by the minute-book of the guardians, an encouragement given to excite litigation by the following singular resolution:—'Ordered, that the trial of settlement cases for Keighley be given to the attornies of the town in rotation.' This plan does not appear to have suited the legal gentlemen, and, doubtless, the most profitable appeals may have been selected to take place at certain periods. An alteration was therefore desired, and accordingly, eighteen months afterwards, namely, on the 13th of October, 1841, the guardians further assisted the views of the attornies by the following resolution:—'The order of the 6th of May, 1840, having been attended by some inconvenience, ordered, that the attornies be so employed annually after the present sessions;' with such support from the guardians it is not to be wondered at that unfortunate Keighley is suffering severely from legal disputes. One of the Keighley guardians complained that the lawyers' bills for that town the last year would not be much less than 500l. The hon. Member asked me questions with regard to the Keighley Union, and I have given him the best answer I could. The hon. Gentleman also mentioned that relief was given—as was unfortunately the case—in the neighbourhood of Keighley within the last fortnight, aided by the presence of a body of cavalry. Now I am free to state to the House, that in the district in question, where very great distress undoubtedly prevails, there has been an extreme difficulty within the last month in carrying the Poor-law into effect. But in regard to this subject, I am not now about to cite the information furnished by the Assistant Poor-law Commissioners, but that received from another party. In saying this, I beg it to be understood that I am not, for a moment, disposed in the least degree to disparage those gentlemen, on whose reports I, for one, speaking from experience, am ever ready to rely with confidence. They are not gentlemen nominated by me, or in any way connected with my political friends; they are persons nominated by my political opponents, but in no case, as far as I can judge, have they been selected for political reasons. I consider them as highly honourable, well-educated, able men, fully entitled to the confidence of that Government under which they are now employed. The information I am about to repeat, however, came, not from one of the Assistant Poor-law Commissioners, but from a local magistrate, a gentleman who was present at the scene which has been spoken of. I have already stated to the House how dangerous I consider the doctrine of an absolute right to relief, without any previous test whatever being applied, or any labour exacted, as the condition of relief; and I will now state to the House what was the report of a magistrate who was present at the unhappy scene which has been mentioned. His words were:— I take the opportunity of stating to you, that after a strict inquiry into the disturbance which occurred op Tuesday, the 31st of May, we find that the men most prominent in that movement had, or might have had, ample employment for the support of themselves and families; and, indeed, that these men have actually hired other men, who were at work, to swell their begging party. I may add, on this subject, that I do not in the least anticipate any serious outbreak. No doubt considerable distress exists, but the people bear it with great patience, and we have to-day taken care that relief is afforded at once, amply, and satisfactorily. The people, when left to themselves, are patient, obedient to the law, exemplary in their conduct; it is only when acting under excitement by persons not in destitution—who tell them they are slaves—that their condition is that of slavery—that they are oppressed by grievous wrongs—and it is only gross tyranny which refuses them relief when they ask it; it is, in short, men of a higher station, who, raising up in the people's minds unlawful and unreasonable expectations, produce the dangers and inconveniences of which I have spoken. It was not ray intention to have addressed the House at this period, but having heard a gentleman for whom I entertain very high respect spoken of in a violent and most unjust manner, I was induced to rise; and now, being on my legs, I will take the opportunity of shortly pointing out what has hitherto been overlooked in the discussion which has taken place. I beg to remind hon. Gentlemen, however, that we are not now discussing the details of the bill which are for the committee. My hon. friend the Member for Droitwich has complained of the absence of certain clauses. In his admirable speech he pointed out many reasons why this bill ought to be read a second time, and in the main he approved of it. But he also, anticipating the duty of the committee, urged upon the House the propriety of adopting certain rating clauses. I have already stated that I purposely excluded all such clauses; I think the bill, as it is, is quite sufficiently laden with matter, and will give the House quite enough subject for consideration, independent of the subject of rating; but I have also stated, that if it should then still be my duty officially to discharge the functions now imposed on me, I shall consider it indispensable, at an early period of the next Session, to bring forward a measure dealing with the whole question of settlement and rating, as essential to the full carrying out of the system. Again, the hon. and gallant Commodore opposite, who, I am surprised to hear, is going to vote against the second reading, after the evidence he has given of the satisfactory working of the plan in the union with which he is connected, complained of certain clauses in the bill which have reference to the maintenance of bastard children by their putative fathers; a matter no doubt well worthy of consideration, but which will come properly before the House when in committee. The hon. Member for Macclesfield also complains of the size of the unions. I have endeavoured to deal with that question. 1 may not have done so in a manner that will be satisfactory to the House, but it will be a matter for the consideration of the House in committee whether a better mode can be devised than that which I have proposed. Then, again, the hon. and gallant Gentleman who seconded the motion that is made in opposition to the bill, complains of the bill as far as relates to the Gilbert unions. [Captain Pechell: I object to the whole.] And who are the two hon. Gentlemen who have moved and seconded the rejection of this bill? I speak with the utmost respect for the hon. Member for Rochdale. I should be ashamed not to say that, although an Irish gentleman, he was fully able to deal with every subject of legislation, but as an Irish gentleman the hon. Member can not be practically acquainted with the working of the measure; and, by a strange coincidence, he is the representative of one of the manufacturing towns of large size which are not under the operation of this law. Who is the hon. Gentleman who seconds the motion of the hon. gentleman the Member for Rochdale? Why, he is the representative of a town which is governed under a local act, and which has hitherto had no experience of the working of the present law. Now, speaking generally, I must say that those who have had the longest experience of the present law will be amongst those who are in the main the best and firmest supporters of this measure. I am prepared practically to admit that the point to be considered upon the second reading of this bill is chiefly centered in this short question—"Will you, or will you not, continue the control of the central commission?"—Every other question may be regarded as a question of detail. I will moreover add, that the bill is so framed that after the House shall have agreed to continue the commission, all the other clauses are, I think I might almost say without any exception, clauses which mitigate the rigour of the existing law. Without a single exception they are either clauses of mitigation, or clauses which may be made so to a very great extent. I beg the House not to forget this, that you may defeat the continuance of the commission, but that if you do so, the effect will be to put an end to control and introduce confusion; and having introduced confusion you will not be likely to mitigate the law. I shall now state to the House two or three reasons in support of the main principles of this bill. Its object first of all is to bring into general operation gradually, and therefore safely, a great alteration in the system of the relief of the poor. If you do not proceed by some such control as it enacts in immediate connexion with the Executive Government, you must legislate brevi manu, upon some general principle, and the circumstances in the condition of the working classes are so different in different quarters—I had almost said so opposite—that any such general enactment, not proceeding upon experience, and not considered with due caution, would be dangerous in the extreme. I say that you can devise no means so good as this central commission; and when hon. Gentlemen come to talk or remedies, they really propose something so very like this commission, that it is hardly to be distinguished from it. What said the hon. Member for Rochdale? Why, that he should like to have a perambulatory commission. He objects to a central control, but he thinks that there should be commissioners who would go circuit, which, under another name, is nothing but the assistant-commissioners without the central control. What does the hon. Member for Macclesfield propose? He proposes to have, as in the case of the factory commission, district commissioners, which under another name is but the suggestion of the hon. Member for Rochdale—namely, assistant-commissioners, only uncontrolled by a central commission. I now pass to my second reason for supporting a central control. I assert what has been proved by experience, that what may be found to be injurious in one union may, through the central government, be instantly stopped in every union throughout the kingdom. This, I say, is an immense advantage, and an advantage which can only be obtained by means of a central management in connexion with and under the control of the Executive Government. My third reason is, that for every act of an illegal character for which this authority is responsible, they can be promptly brought under the jurisdiction of the supreme courts of law in this country. It is vain, therefore, to say, that those commissioners are not a responsible body. They are bound to administer the law as it is enacted, and if they should be guilty of the slightest infraction of that law, they can be made responsible for it before the supreme tribunals of the land. It is impossible to legislate upon the minute details of a measure of this kind, the regulations of the workhouse, the dietary of its inmates, and all those minute particulars on which in the main the useful execution of the law depends; and it would be still more impossible for the Executive, without a commission of this kind and controlled by them, safely or beneficially to carry the law into operation. My last and strongest reason, which I have illustrated by a recent specimen of the results that ensued from the appearance of magistrates in the Keighley union, and that is only one instance amongst hundreds of what took place when the country generally was under the control of the magistracy;—my last reason is that, if you remove the central authority, you must revert to that local authority of the magistracy, and, with the return of that control of the local magistrates, I am certain you will open those floodgates which will let in upon the country all the abuses which it is the object of the law to put an end to; and I am also certain that the second condition of the labouring classes under such a change will, if possible, be worse than the first. Upon the most conscientious and guarded view which I have been able to give to the subject, it appears to me that the original enactment in the main is right, and believing it to be right I feel perfectly regardless of any imputations that may be cast upon myself individually, or upon the motives by which I am governed, and I should betray my duty if I for one moment hesitated to urge upon the House the second reading of this bill.

Mr. Ferrand

, in explanation, wished to say, as a magistrate of the Keighley Union, as chairman of a board of guardians, and as a Member of that House, that that report of the Poor-law commissioners was grossly unfounded.

Mr. S. Wortley

said, that the House was now called upon to decide what might be considered the main principle of the bill, namely, whether the Poor-law system of this country should be for the future as it had been for some time past, submitted to a central superintendence; and in briefly expressing his opinion on the subject, he was anxious to show that he was prepared to the fullest extent to act up to any profession that he, at least, had made upon the hustings. He might have been supposed to have proclaimed strong opinions upon this subject. He certainly had proclaimed decisive opinions, founded upon strong convictions, but he had never thought it necessary, nor should he on the present occasion deem it necessary, to express those decided opinions in a manner likely to prove inflammatory, or to cast reflections upon others, because their opinions happened to differ from his own. He must observe, that he did not think such a course was conducive to the good of the cause they had in hand; and he should belie his conviction, if he were to say, that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Home Department, the Poor-law commissioners, and the assistant-commissioners themselves, were what they had been represented to be—tyrants and demons. He believed no such thing. He differed widely and strongly from those individuals who used such language, and he conceived they were taking a mistaken view of the question. They might be pursuing that plan which they considered conducive to the interests of the lower classes, but they were not on that account entitled to impute motives to the conduct of others. With respect to the immediate question before the House, he was prepared to take it upon the footing upon which the right hon. Baronet had placed it,—namely, whether the administration of the Poor-law in this country should be for the future submitted to the control of a central commission? He had no hesitation in saying, that it would be quite consistent for any hon. Member who thought with him that it wag absolutely impossible—that, in a legislative sense, it was perfectly impracticable to sweep away the system under which the Poor-law was at present administered, to admit the second reading of this bill, and endeavour so to alter it in committee as to adapt it to his own views. The bill proposed to continue the commission for a limited period, and further to amend the laws relating to the poor of England. Now, he was prepared to admit, as on all occasions he had admitted, that it would be almost impracticable, and if practicable, impolitic, to suffer this Poor-law commission to expire at the present moment. He had always contended, too, that it would be impossible to repeal the Poor-law Act as it at present stood; but that did not preclude him from entertaining the strongest objection to the principle and views upon which this bill had been brought into the House; because, although he might be justified in saying, that he should now vote for the bill, and look to the committee for that limitation to the period of the commission which he desired to see effected, still he thought, that in considering and making up their minds upon the subject, they were bound to be guided, not merely by the letter of the bill itself, but by the language with which it was introduced, by the principle it went to continue, and by the prospects which were held out by the Minister from whom it proceeded. Under these circumstances what did he find? That reasons which the right hon. Baronet deemed insuperable had been advanced by him in favour of a superintending control. He was, therefore, bound to consider whether, if he voted for the second reading of the bill, he thereby pledged himself to an opinion in favour of the expediency of continuing such control in the abstract sense; because that was a principle to which he never could give his consent. He thought that the commission might be justified by an emergency, but that its existence should not be prolonged one moment beyond that emergency. He was aware, that in some parts of the country abuses had become so interwoven with society as to render a strong and decisive remedy indispensable; and so far as those parts of the country, and those abuses were concerned, he had no hesitation in admitting, that it might have been necessary to invest somewhere an authority such as that possessed by the Poor-law commissioners. But he was not, therefore, compelled to admit, that body having been constituted, that they were to forget its origin, to forget the grounds upon which it had been created, and to reconcile themselves to the permanent continuance of it as if it were a body which was in entire accordance with the spirit of the constitution. He was aware, that arbitrary acts, such as the suspension of the habeas corpus and the Coercion Bill, had been resorted to by the executive for express purpose of meeting certain cases; but in all instances they had been regarded and treated as only temporary. He repeated, therefore, that although he might think it necessary to submit to the continuance of such an authority as they had now to deal with, an authority empowered to issue statutes and laws for the purposes of effecting a reformation of certain abuses—although he might think it right to submit to it with a view to the exigencies upon which it was first established, he could not be thereby bound—he was not thereby bound—to regard it as an integral part of the institutions of the country. When the question was last discussed, some hon. Gentlemen who thought that this commission could not be dispensed with, said, that a board of guardians having had the question referred to them, at once avowed that this superintendence was necessary; stating, that if deprived of the assistance it afforded, it would be driven into abuses which their own conviction would induce them, if possible, to avoid. But he held that to be no reason whatever, if they looked to the more permanent view of the question, and to what ought to be the object of a Legislature in providing a machinery for the management of a great system. Were they to assume, that in all future times those natural established functionaries in whom that machinery was to be found were incapable of performing their functions? He considered that it should be the object of the Legislature gradually, but as certainly as possible, to adapt the system to the existing machi- nery, and so guide and instruct those by whom it ought to be administered, that they should meet the responsibility placed upon them by their position in society, and so bring about a mutual state of things by leaving the subject in the hands of those to whom it properly belonged,—namely, the local authorities. In looking through this bill, he observed, that it was not without improvements on the existing law. He might refer particularly to that by which sick persons were entitled to relief wherever they were resident at the time for a period of six weeks, thereby getting rid of the suffering and inconvenience attending the removal of persons to their own parishes. This he looked upon as a great improvement. There were also others, that for instance relating to apprentices, but he would not trouble the House by dwelling on these points. The Poor-law commissioners, whose power it was proposed by this measure to continue, on the one side had been abused and reviled, as having mismanaged and abused the trust confided to them; whilst on the other hand, they had been highly praised for their wise and judicious conduct. He confessed, that he thought the commissioners had been placed in a position involving the performance of very disagreeable duties, but at the same time, he could not but give them every credit for discharging those duties with considerable wisdom, judgment, and good sense. He must object, however, and that in the strongest manner, to the scheme upon which they had constructed the unions. He did not pretend to be so well acquainted as other hon. Members with the particular union which had been so frequently referred to that evening; but when they were told of the abuses which existed in that union, let them not forget that those very abuses were formerly charged upon the old law, and that they were still said to exist to as great an extent as ever under the new system, despite the emendations which that system professed to introduce. The right hon. Baronet must well know that there must be great differences in the execution of the law, from the manner in which different unions were constructed. He must know that size and other circumstances obliged the inhabitants not unfrequently to resort to expedients to get rid of the many inconveniences to which they were subjected. Indeed, the fact itself was admitted in this very bill, for a clause was introduced to divide the districts, and so to obviate the inconveniences at present existing. So far the clause was an admission of the extent of the evil; but, on the other hand, he feared it would prove anything but a remedy for the evil really existing. He would not, however, detain the House any longer. He could entirely wish that, looking to the very imperfect applicability of the Poor-law to a large portion of the country, the Government should re-consider the principles on which they called upon the House to pass the second reading. He also thought it was the duty of the House to look to the period when it might be within its power to restore the administration of local government to its former footing. He did not mean to restore the local administration to the smaller parishes—he did not think that was necessary; but to give a power of local government in cases where such power could be advantageously administered. In fact, in his opinion, local government was one of the safest of our institutions: and nothing should be allowed to interfere extensively with the operation of that salutary system. They might get more accuracy—they might get more punctuality under a central government—but those advantages were, in his opinion, dearly bought by the entire destruction of the habits of self-government which had prevailed for ages among the people, and which they regarded as one of the most important parts of their social policy; and if the House were still to act on the general principle—if they were determined to carry out to their full extent the views embodied in this bill—yet he would plead for his own district—yet he would ask the House to consider the wide and undeniable distinction between that part and other portions of the country to which the system was at first adapted; and yet he would ask them to let him enjoy the hope that the time was not far distant when they might obtain the management of their own concerns.

Colonel Wood

did not exactly comprehend the tenor of the argument used by the hon. and learned Member who had just sat down. He understood the hon. and learned Member to state that he did not desire the central commission should be immediately done away with. But the commission terminated on the 31st of July, and therefore if the hon. and learned Gentleman did not want to give this bill a second reading, how would he prevent the commission from expiring? He agreed with the hon. Member that it was not desirable to do away with local jurisdiction, and he also coincided in very much that had fallen from the gallant Officer opposite, though he certainly did not see how he could introduce amendments into the bill if he did not permit it to go into committee. For his own part he thought it would be very advisable to divide the bill, and to pass forthwith the first five clauses, which would continue the powers of the commissioners for a limited time—not so long as five years—and they could then go into the whole of the general question next Session, without any difficulty or chance of obstruction. As it was not the fashion that night to touch upon the details of the measure, he would say nothing more respecting it than that there were many parts of the bill to which he had very strong objections. He objected to the proposed formation of educational establishments. If the Poor-law commissioners were to have any thing to do with schools, they ought already to have erected them in connexion with the union workhouses. Upwards of two millions of money had been expended upon those buildings; and he must say that the commissioners having neglected to build them schools, he thought it was too much to ask that they should be called upon to make a further outlay for such a purpose. Besides, he entirely supported the principle of good parochial schools, somewhat on the plan proposed by Mr. Whitbread in 1806, which had been found to answer every object designed and expected from it. There were other clauses to which he had great objections, particularly that which made the casual poor of one parish chargeable upon the whole union. He felt, however, that this was not the opportunity to discuss these details, and he would, therefore, content himself with saying that, entering his protest against these clauses, he should give his vote for the second reading, with a view to amend the bill in committee.

Mr. Liddell

did not suppose the House would divide that night, but he would take advantage of the opportunity which offered to make a few observations on the bill under consideration. And, first, he must say, that, agreeing with the hon. Member for the West Riding, he yet found it quite impossible to go along with him in his vote. He felt perfectly convinced that time ought to be given to arrange the affairs of the commission, even if they felt inclined to dissolve it, and therefore he should offer no opposition to the second reading of the bill, but would reserve a power to support any amendments he pleased in committee, or to vote against the bill on the third reading, if those amendments were not satisfactory. But apart from this consideration, he should also base his vote on his estimate of the language used by the hon. Member for Knaresborough. It was impossible to hear that hon. Member's speech without feeling that he was perfectly sincere, yet he must say, that he thought be had spoken that night with much more zeal than discretion, and with a good deal of over-wrought feeling. When that hon. Member spoke of Dr. Kay, he could not help remembering the evidence given before the committee on the Poor-law by that gentleman, and he certainly could not find it possible at all to agree with the representation made of him by the hon. Gentleman. That hon. Member had implied, that a delusion had been practised by the commissioners to produce a migration from the agricultural to the manufacturing districts. Now, he could not but think, that at the time that migration took place, the chief cause that operated to induce it was the very natural one of a demand for labour in one district, and a falling off in the means of affording employment in another. Any one who referred to the evidence given before the select committee on the Poor-law in 1838 would find, by referring to Dr. Kay's evidence, at question 4,644, that although it was true, that this migration was attended with much subsequent distress, and that there were many instances of disappointment, yet certainly there was no reason to charge upon the Government, or its agents, any wilful attempt to practise a delusion on the people, He, believed, there was nothing more in this case than happened too often with reference to the Irish labourers who came over to England at harvest time; and although undoubtedly there was a great change of circumstances and situation, and very much suffering was occasioned, yet it was acknowledged, that the results were only in a natural course of events. With respect to the principle of the workhouse test, he entertained many strong objections. He thought that, in the first place, it was impossible that it could at all times be applied in the manufacturing districts, where it was out of the question that relief could be afforded in the workhouse to all the destitute poor. He also felt there was a much better test than any workhouse test or labour test—a test which no Government, or Secretary of State, or party, either in that House or out of the House, would properly apply—he meant the test of character, which could only be applied by those who were on the spot and accustomed to the administration of relief. Certainly, this was one of the proofs of the greater value of the local over the general board, which latter could not by any possibility sympathise so well with the feelings of the locality. The object of the law should be to benefit the poor, the public, and the rate-payer; but if the poor were not so well taken care of, and if the guardians were desirous of getting rid of a perplexing machinery, why should not the power be granted of resolving the unions into the original parochial control, but still under the superintendence of the central board? This was a grievance which remote unions might well complain of, but it might be said, that the particular circumstances of remote unions ought not to be taken into consideration in a general measure. Now, he conceived it to be a principle of the British Constitution, that the more remote the place the stronger right to a hearing. The objection would equally apply to Westmoreland, Cumberland, and North Wales. He was astonished, that no notice was taken in the bill of the objections to which he called the attention of the House, more especially when he remembered the speech of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) in 1841, from which he was led to conclude, that if the right hon. Baronet came into power, he would use his best energies to remedy the evils, the existence of which be then admitted. In this hope he was disappointed. There was one other point, namely, that relating to the bastardy clause. He, admitted, that the provisions of the present bill, were an improvement upon the former, but he objected to that part of the clause which provided, that no order should be made except for relief in the workhouse. With respect to this subject, he had procured a return from a populous town in the northern district of the county which he had the honour to represent, and he found the number of illegitimate children to be as follows:—In 1831, they were seven; in 1832, five; in 1833, seven; but after the New Poor-law passed, the number increased, and in 1839, they were twelve; in 1840, eighteen; and in 1841, they were twenty-two. This was a point upon which he felt deeply, having seen such grievous injuries ensue from it; and he knew fathers who were well to do, absolutely refused any relief to their illegitimate children. He should also oppose any attempt at an arbitrary suppression of the Gilbert Unions, and he was of opinion, that the ingenious arguments used by the right hon. Baronet on this point cut both ways. Though he would not join with the hon. Member for Rochdale in his present motion, he should certainly oppose the clause which related to the Gilbert Unions. He hailed with approbation the proposition for the appointment of district committees, but when the subject came under consideration he would move an extension of their powers.

The House divided, on the question that the word "now" stand part of the question—.Ayes 260; Noes 61: Majority 199.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Bruce, Lord E.
A'Court, Capt. Buck, L. W.
Adderley, C. B. Buller, C.
Aldam, W. Buller, E.
Alford, Visct. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Allix, J. P Bunbury, T.
Bailey, J. Busfeild, W.
Baillie, Col. Byng, G.
Baillie, H. J. Campbell, A.
Baring, hon. W. B. Cardwell, E.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Barnard, E. G. Charteris, hon. F.
Barneby, J. Chelsea, Visct.
Barrington, Visct. Chetwode, Sir J.
Bateson, R. Cholmondeley, hn. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Christie, W. D.
Beresford, Major Christopher, R. A.
Berkeley, hon. C. Clay, Sir W.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Clayton, R. R.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Clerk, Sir G.
Bernal, R. Olive, hn. R. H.
Bernard, Visct. Codrington, C. W.
Blackburne, J. I. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Blake, M. J. Collett, W. R.
Boldero, H. G. Coote, Sir C. H.
Botfield, B. Corry, rt. hn. H.
Bramston, T. W. Courtenay, Lord
Broadley, H. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Brodie, W. B. Craig, W. G.
Brooke, Sir A. B. Cripps, W.
Darby, G. Hussey, T.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Dickinson, F. H. James, W.
Dodd, G. Jermyn, Earl
Douglas, Sir H Jocelyn, Visct.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Johnstone, Sir J.
Douglas, J. D. S. Johnstone, H.
Dugdale, W. S. Jones, Capt
Duncan, G. Kemble, H.
Duncombe, hon. A. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
East, J. B. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Eaton, R. J. Langston, J. H.
Ebrington, Visct. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Egerton, Sir P. Lefroy, A.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Legh, G. C.
Ellice, E. Leicester, Earl of
Eliot, Lord Liddell, hon. H. T.
Emlyn, Visct. Lincoln, Earl of
Esmonde, Sir T. Lindsay, H. H.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Litton, E.
Evans, W. Lockhart, W.
Farnham, E. B. Lyall, G.
Fellowes, E. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B
Filmer, Sir E. Mackenzie, W. F.
Flower, Sir J. M'Geachy, F. A.
Follett, Sir W. W M'Taggart, Sir J.
Ffolliott, J. Mahon, Visct.
Forbes, W. Mainwaring, T.
Forster, M. Manners, Lord C. S.
Fuller, A. E. Manners, Lord J.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Marshall, W.
Gibson, T. M. Martin, J.
Gill, T. Martin, C. W.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Gladstone, T. Meynell, Capt.
Glynne, Sir S. R. Miles, W.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Morgan, O.
Gordon, Lord F. Mundy, E. M.
Goring, C. Murray, C. R. S.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Neeld, J
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Granger, T. C. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Greene, T. O'Brien, C.
Gregory, W. H. O'Brien, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. O'Brien, W. S.
Grimston, Visct. Ogle, S. C. H.
Grogan, E. Ord, W.
Hamilton, W. J. Packe, C. W.
Harcourt, G. G. Pakington, J. S.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Palmerston, Visct.
Hawes, B. Parker, J.
Heathcote, G. J. Patten, J. W.
Heathcote, Sir W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Heneage, E. Peel, J.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Pemberton, T.
Herbert, hon. S. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Hervey, Lord A. Philips, G. R.
Hill, Lord M. Philips, M.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Plumridge, Capt.
Hogg, J. W. Plumptre, J. P.
Holmes, hon. W. A'Ct. Pollock, Sir F.
Hope, hon. C. Ponsonby, hon. C.F.C.
Howard, Lord Powell, Col.
Howard, P. H. Praed, W. T.
Howard, Sir R. Pringle, A.
Hughes, W. B. Protheroe, E.
Hume, J. Pusey, P.
Rae, rt. hon. Sir W. Thompson, Ald.
Rashleigh, W. Trench, Sir F. W.
Repton, G. W. J. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Rice, E. R. Trollope, Sir J.
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Trotter, J.
Round, C. G. Tufnell, H.
Rous, hon. Capt. Turner, E.
Rundle, J. Turnor, C.
Rushbrooke, Col. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Russell, Lord J. Vane, Lord H.
Russell, J. D. W. Vesey, hon. T.
Ryder, hon. G. D. Villiers, hon. C.
Sandon, Visct. Vivian, J. H.
Seymour, Lord Vivian, hon. Capt.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Waddington, H. S.
Sheppard, T. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Shirley, E. J. Ward, H. G.
Shirley, E. P. Watson, W. H.
Smith, A. Wawn, J.T.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Welby, G. E.
Somerset, Lord G. Whitmore, T. C.
Sotheron, T. H. S. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Stanley, Lord Wodehouse, E.
Stanton, W. H. Wood, B.
Stewart, J. Wood, Col.
Stuart, Lord J. Wood, Col. T.
Stuart, W. V. Wood, G. W.
Stuart, H. Worsley, Lord
Stock, Serjt. Wrightson, W. B.
Strickland, Sir G. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Strutt, E. Young, J.
Sutton, hon. H. M.
Talbot, C. R. M. TELLERS.
Tancred, H. W. Baring, H.
Thesiger, F. Fremantle, Sir T.
List of the NOES.
Ainsworth, P. Hanmer, Sir J.
Attwood, M. Hardy, J.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Hawkes, T.
Beckett, W Heathcoat, J.
Bernal, Capt Henley, J. W.
Bowring, Dr. Hindley, C.
Brocklehurst, J. Hodgson, F.
Brotherton, J. Hodgson, R.
Cobden, R. Hollond, R.
Cochrane, A. Hornby, J.
Collins, W. James, Sir W. C.
Colvile, C. R. Jervis, J.
Dashwood, G. H. Johnson, Gen.
Denison, E. B. Knight, F. W.
Drax, J. S. W. S. E. Lawson, A.
Duke, Sir J. Leader, J. T.
Duncombe, T. Marton, G.
Duncombe, hon. O. Masterman, J.
Escott, B. Murphy, F. S.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Napier, Sir C.
Feilden, W. O'Connell, D.
Fielden, J. O'Connell, J.
Ferrand, W. B. O'Conor, Don
Fitzroy, hon. H. Owen, Sir J.
Gore, M. Pollington, Visct.
Grant, Sir A. C. Richards, R.
Grimsditch, T. Sibthorp, Col.
Hall, Sir B. Walker, R.
Hampden, R. Wallace, R.
Williams, W. TELLERS.
Wortley, hon. J. S. Crawford, W. S.
Yorke, H. R. Pechell, Capt.

Main question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.