HC Deb 27 June 1842 vol 64 cc643-91

On the Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on going into Committee on the Poor-law, and Mr. Duncombe's Amendment.

Mr. Fielden

rose to answer the speeches of the hon. Member for Bath(Mr. Roebuck) and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth. He would take that of the hon. Member for Bath first. That hon. Member had spoken with great confidence on the subject of the New Poor-law, but in his opinion with little sense. He doubted the hon. Member's experience of the labouring poor. He wanted to know what means he had of knowing their habits, feelings, wants and condition. Was the hon. Member engaged in such occupations as would bring him necessarily in daily contact with labouring persons? No; he understood from the hon. Member that he was a lawyer, and he would not admit that a lawyer was, in the course of his occupation, brought into that relationship with the labouring poor that would give him the means of legislating in their case. He claimed to be heard upon this question, because he felt confident that he did know much of the labouring people. He had been in business as a manufacturer ever since the year 1803, and he was so now. He and his partners had always employed great numbers of hands, and for some years past they had constantly in their employment some thousands; and, so long as he had a seat in that House, he would by speech and vote resist a law which was based upon the false and wicked assertion that the labouring people of England, or any material part of them, were inclined to idleness and vice; and he felt that he owed them too much to sit patiently by while this commission was proposed to be continued. He believed that the New Poor-law had been most oppressive, and that it was founded on the most fallacious principles. The hon. Member for Bath spoke first of the new law being both wise and humane, and he told the House that, being a lawyer, he wished to be answered by facts. As to the humanity of the law, he would give one fact, and he begged to be understood as giving one fact of many that he could produce. In 1836 there lived in the parish of Eversholt, in the Woburn Union, a widow of the name of Susan Deacon. She had been relieved by the parish before the union was formed, but, as the new law came into operation, her allowance was reduced down as low as 1s. a week. In the night of the 25th of December in that year that poor woman threw herself into a moat in the garden of the rector of the parish, a guardian of the union. It was a bitter cold night and the weather frosty. Her body broke through the ice, and when taken out it was found that she must have risen from her bed to drown herself, as she was dressed in her night clothes. The coroner's jury wished to return a verdict stating the circumstances that caused her to drown herself—that was, the refusal of the board of guardians to grant her the accustomed relief; but the coroner persuaded them to return a verdict of insanity. The jury however, immediately after, being touched with sympathy for a poor and respected neighbour, signed and circulated this paper, of which he had a copy:— We, the undersigned jurymen on the body of Mrs. Deacon, of Hill's-end, Eversholt, who drowned herself in the rev. J. Reed's moat, on last Monday morning, through distress of mind, in consequence of having been refused a shilling per week by the said J. Reed and the other guardians of the poor for Eversholt parish, have given our verdict "Insane;" and, out of compassion and respect to the deceased, in order to prevent her goods from being taken from her orphans to defray the funeral expenses, have contributed 6d. each towards burying her. The smallest contribution from any person who can feel for such a case, will be most thankfully received by the jurymen. Should there be more collected than will pay her funeral expenses, it will be given to her| poor children. He had offered to prove this case before; the Poor-law committee, but was frustrated. Mr. Bull had attempted to get it before a committee of the Lords, but he had also been frustrated. The paper, however, circulated by the jurymen, spoke for itself; and he adduced that one case as a specimen of the humanity of the new law. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Roebuck) then spoke of the "problem how to relieve the honest able-bodied without giving encouragement to idleness by relieving the idle vagabond." He said that The Reformed Parliament had looked this difficulty in the face," (and that) "he wished it to be particularly shown how the difficulties of this question would be met, except by imposing such restrictions on the administration of relief, as would make its reception not more agreeable than the exercise of honest industry. He maintained, first, that the Parliament had not met the difficulty in the face, but had created a board of three commissioners to do so, or to do as they liked. The Parliament had had proposed to it a bill abolishing out-door relief after the 31st of July, 1835; but it expunged that part of the bill, and left it to the commissioners to make the law. But, as the hon. Member praised the law and the commissioners, and their doings, he might be taken to approve of the prohibitory order for stopping out-door relief to all able-bodied poor, unless in the workhouse, and of the regulations and discipline which they had ordered to be observed in the workhouses. The hon. Member, in fact, approved of the workhouse test, the "self-acting test," as the commissioners called it, which was to sift the honest and hardworking man from the idle vagabond. Let him, then, examine the practical operation of that test, for he (Mr. Fielden) believed it to be a most atrocious cruelty on the honest and willing workman, and productive of infinite mischief to the country. He would take the two cases supposed by the hon. Member himself. Here were two applicants for relief, both coming to the board of guardians at the same time; both have families, both are able-bodied; but one is an honest hard-working man, who cannot get work; the other is an idle vagabond, who will not work if he can help it. What does the board do? It could not give any thing but the workhouse test and its discipline, its separation, and its diet to both. It must give the same to both. Now would come the operation of sifting, and the proof of the sound principle and philosophy of the new law. Which of the two would go into the house? If both go in, then the law punishes the honest man just as it did the vagabond. If the honest man went in, and the idle vagabond was driven to maintain himself, then the honest man only was punished. If the vagabond went in, and submitted to the discipline of the workhouse for the sake of idleness, then he would ask where did the honest and willing workman go to—the man who was admitted to be honest, the man who would do work if he could get it? He would ask whither had you driven that man? He would tell them. In a table, published by the commissioners in their sixth annual report, there was a column containing the number of vagrants and paupers relieved not belonging to any parish in the union, and it gave the numbers in Christmas quarter, 1838, and in the same quarter, 1839, from fourteen counties in England and Wales; the total showed, that in 1838 there were 1,705 vagrants, or casual poor, and in 1839 no less than 3,111, being an increase of 1,406, or 82 per cent. This admirable system had driven the willing workman to become a wanderer in search of work; and, failing in that, it had made him, whose virtue was confessed, a vagrant, gathering alms in the quality of casual poor. That was the wisdom and philosophy of this law. But it was the idle vagabond that the hon. Member for Bath wished to punish. Very well; the hon. Member, being a lawyer, knew doubtless that there was the Vagrant Act in force when the New Poor-law was passed, and in force still, by which all vagabonds were amply punished. Ay, but that law would not meet the whole mass of able-bodied. No; nor should it. Another assertion of the hon. Member for Bath was, that the outcry against the new law was not raised by the honest and industrious poor, but by self-interested persons of a dishonest sort, who had been destroyed by the operation of the new law. He would now read to the House a short paper that had been written by a labouring man of, he believed, the Diss Union, in Norfolk, and printed at the expense of one of the guardians, and which had been sent to him by a clergyman residing in the union. It was as follows:— Poor Law Amendment Act.—Since the New Poor Law, the honest, industrious, able-bodied poor are much oppressed, through the orders of the Poor-law commissioners. It frequently happens from severity of the weather that the farmer is unable to find employment; the poor man, under such circumstances, having a large family, is rendered totally unable to support them honestly; and when he appeals to the guardians, all the relief he can get is to leave his house and little furniture, and be made a prisoner in the union workhouse. I therefore think that the board of guardians ought to be empowered to relieve the poor man without forcing him from his house and home, till the farmer may be enabled to employ him, and the weather will permit him to work. I, Thomas Cook, can prove that during the last two months I have lost half my time, therefore take the liberty to inform the public that the parishes of Bressingham and Fersfield intend to send a petition to Government, and earnestly hope that other parishes will do the same, praying that the industrious poor may be relieved without being sent to the work-house. Thomas Cock, labourer, Bressingham, Feb. 9,1841. Now, he thought that simple statement not only proved that the hon. Member for Bath knew nothing of the feelings of the honest labouring poor on this question, but that the hon. Member was wholly uninformed upon the subject on which he so confidently talked. He would now come to the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam worth, who had said that he thought the people of this country were in favour of the commissioners, because he found, that leaving out the petition of the 3,000,000, there had been only 108 petitions that Session against the commissioners, signed by 25,000 names. Now, the fact was, according to the committee of petitions, that up to the 10th of June there were that Session 185 petitions against the new law and the bill before the House, containing 36,344 signatures, and there had been many presented since, of which no report had been made. The petition of the 3,300,000 required a total alteration of the constitution of that House; and it alleged, as one of its reasons for desiring the change, that the House as at present constituted had passed the unconstitutional New Poor-law. Was not that a pretty strong expression of public feeling against the commissioners? The 3,300,000 not only desired to abolish the commissioners, but the very constitution of the assembly which had made them. But he would call the attention of the House to the number of petitions in former years, all in effect against the New Poor-law, an immense majority for total repeal, and others for alterations which would defeat its principle.

1834 172 16,156
1835 16 15,680
1836 119 27,574
1837 295 270,096
1838 346 264,100
1839 136 30,000
1840 190 17,000
1841 895 286,646
1842(toJune10) 185 36,344
To those should be added the two na- tional petitions, the first with upwards of 1,250,000 signatures, and the second with 3,300,000. Now, the petitions in favour of the new law, or somewhat in favour of it, were—
1834 2 16
1835 0 0
1836 0 0
1837 35 950
1838 23 1,184
1839 0 0
1840 0 0
1841 72 467
1842(to June 10) 0 0
He thought that was an answer to the right hon. Baronet as to the public feeling on the whole of this law, and it was also an answer to the right hon. Home Secretary as to the direct remedy generally demanded upon the publication of the Report of the Poor-law Commission of Inquiry in 1834. He would now go to other parts of the right hon. Baronet's speech. He said, "Do you speak of this bill as depriving the poor of any of the advantages which they enjoyed under the law of Elizabeth?" Yes, he did. The law of Elizabeth made the overseers set the able-bodied poor on work, and it made them buy materials for the purpose. Under that law the overseers had no authority to imprison and separate them, man from wife, and parent from child, as a condition of giving them that work. The 9th of George 1st gave the overseers authority to administer relief only in a workhouse. The 36th of George 3rd repealed that law, stating in its preamble that much hardship had been inflicted on poor persons by withholding relief unless they would go into a workhouse. Then came the New Poor-law, and the Parliament not being bold enough to re-enact the 9th of George 1st, enacts that Poor-law commissioners shall have authority '' to declare to what extent relief shall be given to able-bodied persons out of the workhouse," and that they shall have power to make rules for the governing of those workhouses, which was, in fact, committing the able bodied poor of the kingdom to the will of that board. He did say that that had deprived the poor of advantages that they had under the 43rd of Elizabeth; and, if the right hon. Baronet meant to contend that the new law was the same in principle as the 43rd of Elizabeth, let him remind the right hon. Gentleman that Lord Brougham, in bringing the new law into the House of Lords in 1834, spoke of the 43rd of Elizabeth as that "accursed law," not a phrase likely to be used by one who was proposing a law similar in principle. The right hon. Baronet had referred to the mismanagement of the poor in the keighley Union, taking the information of a Poor-law commissioner, and he argued that these things could not be redressed, if we had not the commissioners. But had not the right hon. Baronet heard of worse things occurring under the Poor-law commissioners themselves? Had he never heard of the horrible deaths at Bridgewater? Of the fatal gruel of the commissioners? And did not the commissioners do everything in their power to stifle inquiry, and hide the facts from the public? What did they do at Sevenoaks, which was under the inspection of one of their own assistants? Remember the swollen throats of the children—the treatment of the lying-in women—a tale so harrowing and disgusting, that one scarcely liked to dwell upon the detail. Then, again, inquiry was forced on the commissioners, and the greatest attempts were made to stifle it. Yet the right hon. Baronet appeared to look on the commissioners as a board whose duty it was to drag to light, and hold up to public view, the ill treatment of the poor, whenever it might occur. That was new ground—quite a new function; but he quoted the commissioners' reports from the Keighley Union,'and asked how these things were to be brought to light, but by the commissioners? His answer was, the Bridgewater and Sevenoaks cases were brought to light, not by the commissioners, but in spite of them; and that, if the commission were abolished to-morrow, the same good feeling and natural abhorrence of cruelty which held up Bridgewater and Sevenoaks to public gaze, would bring to light such cases as that of Keighley, supposing it to be all true. But, if the right hon. Baronet was very anxious that the cases of hardship in managing the poor should be brought to light, would he now insist on bringing fully to light that which, he believed, would develope a tale of folly and cruelty, on the' part of the Poor-law commissioners, exceeding anything that had yet been heard of, and more fatal in its consequences? Would he aid him (Mr. Fielden) in bringing to light the conduct of the commissioners, their assistants, and their correspondents, with regard to the sending of labouring people from the southern counties into the northern factories? Would he make them produce their correspondence, and would he make them render an account of the thousands (there were upwards of 10,000 that were made the victims of the "migration" scheme? He wanted the whole of the correspondence—not the commissioners' garbled extracts. He wanted to know where the remnant of their victims was now to be found; how many they had sent down; how many had died; how many they had sent back; and the condition of those that remained. If the right hon. Baronet would aid him in that, there was matter enough to be brought to light, and he did not see how he could refuse his aid in that matter, if he really thought the commissioners were of use in bringing to light the cruel treatment of the poor. But, until this aid were given to him, and the commissioners made to account to Parliament for these poor migrants, he would not consent to pass a bill which proposed to continue their existence one hour.

Mr. Lawson

wished to vindicate his line of conduct on this subject, which had been designated as factious. He thought what was called faction in certain cases, might be spoken of in the same way that treason had been alluded to— Treason never prospers, and whats the reason? Why, when it does, then none dare call it treason. Thus, in the present case, if what had been designated as faction should succeed, as he thought it would, he thought no one in the country would be found to complain of the line they had pursued. He had been very much surprised to hear some of the sentiments which had fallen from the hon. Member for Bath, who plumed himself particularly on being a popular representative. He was surprised to hear the hon. Member for Bath declare that the dislike of the New Poor-law was founded on vulgar prejudices, and the hon. Member seemed, throughout the whole of his speech, to evince a particular wish to run down the popular feeling on this question. It had been stated, in that House, that the poor had no right to relief; but he found a writer of high authority (Paley) distinctly stated that the poor had a right to relief. He was sorry to pursue a course which appeared in opposition to the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government; but yet, at the same time, he felt it to be his duty to give his cordial assent to the present amendment.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes, 156; Noes, 37;—Majority 119.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T.D. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Acland, T. D. Flower, Sir J.
A'Court, Capt. Ffolliott, J.
Allix, J. P. Fuller, A. E.
Antrobus, E Gaskell, J. Milnes
Bagot, hon. W. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bailey, J. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Baillie, Col. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Baillie, H. J. Gordon, Lord F.
Baring, hon. W. B. Gore, hon. R.
Barnard, E. G. Goring, C.
Barrington, Visct. Goulburn, rt. hn. H.
Beresford, Maj. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Blakemore, R. Greene, T.
Botfteld, B. Grogan, E.
Bramston, T. W. Hale, R. B.
Bruce, Lord E. Hamilton, W. J.
Buck, L W. Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H.
Buller, C. Hastie, A.
Buller, E. Bill, Lord M.
Bunbury, T. Hodgson, R.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Houldsworth, T.
Burroughes, H. N. Hope, hon. C.
Busfeild, W. Howard, P. H.
Byng, G. Hussey, T.
Cartwright, W. R. Ingestre, Visct.
Chelsea, Visct. Irving, J.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Jackson, J.
Clayton, Rice R. James, W.
Clerk, Sir G. Jermyn, Earl
Clive E. B. Johnstone, H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Codrington, C. W. Jones, Capt.
Collett, W. R. Kemble, H.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Ker, D. S.
Craig, W. G. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Cripps, W. Lefroy, A.
Darby, G. Lincoln, Earl of
Dennistoun, J. Lindsay, H. H.
Dickinson, F. H. Litton, E.
Divett, E. Lowther, J. H.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Lyall, G.
Douglas, J. D. S. Mackenzie, W. F.
Duncan, G. Maclean, D.
Du Pre, C. G. M'Geachy, F. A.
East, J. B. Mc. Taggart, sir J.
Ebrington Visct. Manners, Lord C. S.
Eliot, Lord Manners, Lord J.
Escott, B. Marsham, Visct.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Martin, J.
Farnham, E. B. Master, T. W. C.
Fellowes, E, Masterman, J.
Maunsell, T. P. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Morris, D. Smyth, Sir H.
Morison, Gen. Smythe, hon. G.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Norreys, Lord Strutt, E.
Northland, Visct. Sutton, hon. H. M.
O'Brien, A. S. Thornhill, G.
Ogle, S. C. H. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Palmer, R. Trotter, J.
Palmer, G. Verner, Col.
Palmerston, Visct. Vernon, G. H.
Patten, J. W. Vesey, hon. T.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Waddington, H. S.
Pemberton, T. Wall, C. B.
Polhill, F. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Attend, Sir T. D. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Pollock, Sir F. Ward, H. G.
Powell, Col. Wodehouse, E.
Praed, W. T. Wood, B.
Pringle, A. Wood, Col.
Pusey, P. Wood, Col. T.
Reid, Sir J. R. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Wyse, T.
Rous, hon. Capt. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Rundle, J. Young, J.
Rushbrooke, Col.
Russell, C. TELLERS.
Russell, J. D. W. Baring, H.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Fremantle, Sir T.
List of the NOES.
Brotherton, J. Hawkes, T.
Brownrigg, J. S. Hollond, R.
Callaghan, D. Hume, J.
Cochrane, A. Humphery, Mr. Ald.
Collins, W. James, Sir W. C.
Colvile, C. R. Lawson, A.
Crawford, W. S. Marton, G.
Denison, E. B. Napier, Sir C.
Dundas, Admiral Pechell, Capt.
Egerton, W. T. Richards, R.
Egerton, Sir P. Sandon, Visct.
Ferguson, Sir R. A. Scholefield, J.
Feilden, W. Sibthorp, Col.
Ferrand, W. B. Wakley, T.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Wilbraham, hn. R. B.
Greenall, P. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Grimsditch, T. Yorke, H. R.
Halford, H. TELLERS.
Hall, Sir B. Duncombe, T.
Hampden, R. Fielden, J.

House in committee.

On the first clause, Continuing the Poor-law commission,

Mr. Wakley

was sorry to be obliged to interrupt the course of proceeding, but be felt it absolutely necessary to do so, in pursuance of the duty he had to discharge in that House. His object was, to obtain the postponement of the first clause, until the House determined what the provisions of the bill should be; and he conceived that a more reasonable proposition, or one more calculated to receive the sanction of the committee, could not be made, The first clause proposed that the powers of the commission should be continued until the year 1847, and until the end of the then next Session of Parliament. Now, there were many Members in that House, who objected to the powers which the commissioners already exercised, believing them to be incompatible with the Constitution, dangerous to the institutions of the country, and calculated to create mischief with reference to the poor; and the present bill proposed to confer on these commissioners additional powers. Nothing, therefore, could be more dangerous than for the House to determine to continue the commission for six years longer, without previously determining what should be the powers which the commission were to execute. He was not aware that the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary would oppose the proposition be now made. He was acting bonâ fide with the Government in this case. He was not desirous of offering what was called factious opposition to this bill; but he meant to offer it a frank, determined, and unflinching hostility—an hostility which he conceived to be consistent with the obligations he owed to society, and with the duty he had to discharge in that House. He, therefore, thought that the Government would be acting most unreasonably fey the House, unjustly towards the poor, and most irrationally with reference to the public, if they required the House to continue the commission for six years, without first informing the House what were the powers which the commission should execute. There were on the paper thirty-seven notices of amendments. Many of them involved considerations of the highest character. Many of them struck at the very root of the powers which the commissioners now exercised, and tended to diminish their authority in so high a degree that if these amendments were enacted he should very much disregard the continuance of the commission. But if those amendments were to be rejected, if Government intended to act in hostility to all the principles embraced by those amendments—if they were to call to their aid their truculent supporters on this occasion, and reject every proposition for: the amendment of the bill, nothing could; be more improper, nothing more disastrous, than that the powers of the commissioners should be continued for six years. He therefore hoped that the com- mittee would adopt the amendment with which he should conclude. He confessed, that after the vote the House had come to, his expectation that his proposition would be adopted was slight indeed. He should, nevertheless, submit it to the committee, because he felt it his duty to do so, after hearing what he did out of doors on this subject. He believed that the House was pursuing a course which would be fatal to itself and the aristocracy of the country. The House, he believed, was acting in a spirit of hostility to the working people of this country. He could entertain no other belief from what he daily witnessed in that assembly. They turned a deaf ear to all the entreaties which were made to soften down the harshness and asperities of this bill. In 1834 they established the commission for five years, and then public opinion acted upon them; but now that they had reached the year 1842, they proposed to renew the commission for six years; and the object of the supporters of the bill, he firmly and sincerely believed, was to render the Poor-law commission a perpetual authority in this country. He might be mistaken, but that was his belief, and every day's experience in that House strengthened him in it. He had stated that he believed that House to be acting in a spirit of hostility to the poor. He regretted, too, that there were to be found Members on that (the Opposition) side who concurred in the proceedings of the majority of the House, while they alleged that they were actuated by a spirit of kindness to the poor. The hon. Member for Bath avowed himself to be one of the most determined advocates of this law; he unhesitatingly and broadly declared that he supported its principles, but he had not yet heard from the hon. Member any explanation of its views with respect to any single one of the details of the measure. This, to the small party to which he belonged, was a calamitous circumstance. He had thought that on an occasion of this kind they would have had an opportunity of showing what were their principles, in opposition to the two great aristocratic parties in that House, and of really convincing the masses of this country that they were desirous of upholding their best interests, without, at the same time, derogating from or injuring the interests of the other classes. He was of opinion that that House never could uphold the interests of the aristocracy so strongly and effectively as when they upheld the interests of the masses of the population: for he could not conceive that the tenure of property on the part of the aristocracy was likely to be secure, if the millions remained in a state of discontent, and if the course pursued by the Legislature produced in their minds a feeling of hostility which bordered, in fact, on a feeling of revenge. The working people had not the opportunity of exercising their talents and abilities in the way best calculated to advance their own welfare. The laws passed by that House obstructed them; and then, when they were reduced to a state of destitution, they were told that they should be immured in gaols on account of their destitution. This, in point of fact, was the effect of the legislative proceedings of that House; and could it be expected, then, that the poorer classes should be in a state of contentment, or entertain towards the aristocracy that feeling of respect which, under other circumstances, the aristocracy might justly command? They were perilling every institution in the kingdom by the course they were pursuing with respect to the poor. The hon. Member for Bath told the House that he was a Radical reformer; that he was anxious for the extension of the suffrage to every person of twenty-one years of age; and yet at the same time he declared that this New Poor-law was the most humane law ever enacted. Why, could the hon. Member be ignorant that if the suffrage was extended as he desired, this law would not remain in existence for one month? Did the hon. Member fancy for one moment that this law would not be repealed by the very first Parliament elected by a system of universal suffrage? The hon. Member, therefore, to be consistent, ought to offer his opposition to this bill. He called upon the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary to state whether it were his intention to obtain the sanction of the House for the clause continuing the commission, and four or five succeeding clauses, and then to abandon the remaining clauses. If this were the right hon. Baronet's intention, let him signify it by some intelligible sign. If the Government meant to adopt such a course, they would not be justified in designating any opposition that might be offered to the bill unjust or factious. If the committee should by its next vote determine that the commission should continue for six years, the committee would then be called upon to take the whole subject into consideration, and not to abandon any portion of the bill, but to continue to sit until the 31st of December, if necessary, in order to take the other provisions into consideration. Should a different course be pursued, there would then be a violation of that implied contract which had been entered into with respect to the discontinuance of that violent opposition which had been threatened. There were many amendments on the paper which it would gratify him in the highest degree to see adopted, especially the amendments with respect to out-door relief and the continuance of the Gilbert unions. He asked what was the plea for the destruction of these unions? They had been told over and over again that the New Poor-law was rendered necessary by the abuses perpetrated under the old system, It had been stated that the administration of the law was so defective—nay, that the law itself was so defective, that a change was absolutely necessary. Therefore the old system was to be destroyed, because it was bad. But what was the case with respect to the Gilbert unions? That system was to be destroyed because it was good. The right hon. Baronet had stated what had taken place under this system, but had not adduced a single proof to show that it ought to be discontinued. The principle of the act of Elizabeth had been attacked, and he asked the House whether it had seriously reflected on the really beneficent principle of that act. It had been abused again and again in that assembly; and in that speech which had been quoted by the right hon. Baronet, and was delivered in the other House of Parliament in 1834, it was designated as an accursed act. Now, had the House really and truly reflected on the beneficent principle of the act of Elizabeth? In the same speech to which he had just referred, hopitals, infirmaries, dispensaries, and charitable institutions of every kind were denounced as evils; and it was asserted that a more correct state of society would render such establishments unnecessary. As the right hon. Baronet had adopted, by his declaration in that House, the principles of that speech to a certain extent, did he adopt them to the entire extent? Was he prepared to say that all hospitals, infirmaries, and charitable institutions, were nuisances in a civilized community; and was it the object of the Government, as it appeared to be the object of the eloquent speaker on that occasion, to get rid of the Poor-laws altogether? The Government ought to speak out manfully on this point. If it was the intention of the rich proprietors to get rid of the Poor-laws, to keep to their own estates, and allow the poor to starve on the highways and byways, let them declare this manfully, and then the people would learn how to enter into the strife with them. But if it were their intention to remain secure in their own possessions, and give effectual relief to the poor in time of necessity—let this also be declared, and let the people understand the position they were to occupy. He regretted to hear the speech to which he had referred commended. It was unfortunate for the country that such a speech should be commended. He did not think it would be possible in civilized society for the landed aristocracy to continue in their estates, if at the same time the millions were to be left without work or bread. It had been alleged that the principles of the New Poor-law were in strict unison with the principle of the law of Elizabeth. It was alleged that the aged and infirm had the same claim for support under the existing law as under the old law. But how could they enforce their claim? Take the case of a poor old man under the law of Elizabeth. He had to apply to the churchwardens and overseers of his own parish for relief. Had he to travel seven miles to a board of guardians? No; he applied to the churchwardens or overseers of his own parish; and if he refused relief what course did he adopt? He had an appeal from parties who were interested to the magistrate of his district. ["No."] He believed that the hon. Gentleman who contradicted him was a magistrate; and he could not help observing what difficulties magistrates had got them into by the mal-administration of the old law. ["Hear, hear."] This observation was cheered by the other side, but at another time anything said against the magistracy would have raised a clamour. He was ready to admit, that they were, on the whole, a highly respectable and humane body of gentlemen, and that when they erred in the administration of the Poor-laws, it was from benevolent feelings. But he would ask the hon. Member, where was the poor man to appeal, if not to the magistrate? The magis- trate ordered the poor man, if he thought proper, and the churchwardens and overseers were compelled to obey the order. But where was the poor man's appeal now? A poor decrepit old man applied to the relieving officer for relief, who alleged that he could not grant it. What course, then, was the poor old man to adopt? The relieving officer told him to come on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, and see the board of guardians and state his case there. When he went to the board he might be admitted; but it was always "closed doors" there. The public were excluded, and the press was excluded. The commissioners had sanctioned the exclusion of both. The commissioners had declared that both should be excluded, whether the guardians wished it or not. The poor man then stated his case to the board, and was directed to withdraw; and the board, consisting of rate-payers, determined that he should have no relief. The guardians of his own particular parish came out of the room, and said to the poor old man, "I am sorry for your case; I know your distress, and the excellence of your character; I am well acquainted with your merits for a long series of years; I voted for you, but I had not another guardian to support me." The poor man returned home. Where was his appeal from that decision of the guardians, all of whom were interested parties, and who decided in favour of their own interest with closed doors, there being no check, through the influence of public opinion, on their proceedings? Had the poor man any appeal from this decision? It was not till life was perilled—it was not till the applicant was starving, that any appeal was to be effectual: when a case of emergency arose, but not until then, could any assistance be granted. He begged that the House would look at the different position of the poor man under the two laws—in the one case he applied to an interested, in the other, to an disinterested authority; and, accordingly, it rarely would happen that he could obtain redress. It was impossible for any one to believe that the measure of the Government was just or rational, and it was impossible for any one to expect that such a measure would content the millions. The great mass of the people would never be content with the Government of such lawmakers; and without contentment amongst the people there could be no security for the possessions of the rich. It was just possible that the Chartists might hereafter obtain political influence in that House. Now, he wished to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite how they would like to be put into commission—not themselves, but their properties? How would they like to be put into commission and have receivers of their rents appointed? But all that the Chartists would do in such a case would be to put their acres into the charge of commissions; at worst they would but seize upon the wealth of the aristocracy, whereas by this bill it was proposed to put the bodies of the poor into commission. It might be thought nothing more than a just retribution if the Chartists acted towards the aristocracy as they now seemed disposed to act towards the people. Yet to put their acres into commission would after all be greatly short of full retaliation for putting the persons of the poor into commission. He observed that the present bill contained clauses which went to make provision for educating the children of the poor, and therein he thought that the framers of the bill defeated their own purposes, for an educated community would never submit to such a state of the law as the proposed bill would introduce. The Contest would Soon become one between men and acres—between intelligent beings and clods of earth. He was delighted to see a provision of this kind—let the working classes be educated, and the existing state of things must be overthrown. As he would be glad to see that change accomplished, why should he deny his statements? He hoped and believed that such a change would be advantageous to the world. The promoters of the measure appeared to him to assume that the people of England were idle; but he was sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not believe that their fellow-countrymen were idle—there was hardly a Member of that House who did not know the contrary to be the fact. On the ground then of that position being assumed, he should object to the bill; but he should object to it also on this ground, that he thought the House ought not to agree to the continuance of the commission till they knew what was to become of the various amendments which had been proposed; for those amendments appeared to him of very high importance. For example, he thought they were bound to take care that the Government did not do this,—that they did not come forward and say, let the commission be renewed for six years, and when that was effected then get up and tell the House that at this advanced period of the Session it was too late to go on with the other clauses. He hoped they would not, without the other clauses and amendments, appoint three persons and delegate to them powers equal to those possessed by the Legislature. Would the right hon. Baronet, when he rose to reply to him, say anything to prove that the measure was constitutional? Were not its provisions clearly opposed to those principles of constitutional law laid down by Blackstone, in referring to the proclamations issued by Henry 8th when he adverted to "the pusillanimous Parliament which, to their eternal disgrace, gave to Royal proclamations the force and effect of law? To "the eternal disgrace of the Parliament" of 1834, it did the same, or rather it did worse, for it gave the force and effect of law to the orders of three commissioners sitting at Somerset House; and it would be "to the eternal disgrace" of the present Parliament if it imitated so evil an example. They had given up the poor of this country into the hands of commissioners, and proposed to give to the regulations made by such commissioners the full force and effect of law. Mr. Theobald, in his pamphlet, stated that he had drawn up the original bill for the commissioners, and he dwelt upon the extraordinary powers which that measure gave them, and he said that he never thought those powers would be exercised—he never anticipated that the commissioners would be placed so entirely above the law. If the House would but take the trouble of looking at the history of the measure, they would see how well founded were the observations which he had been making. They would see that the bill of 1834 had been introduced upon popular principles—to prevent, as it was said, the payment of wages out of the rates, and thereby make the working classes independent; and in 1842 similar language was held. He would ask had that effect been produced? [An hon. Member:—"It has been produced!"] He begged respectfully to deny the statement. He believed that no such measure as the Poor-law Amendment Act ever would have the effect of raising the wages of labour. Everybody well knew it had not yet had that effect. A working man would rather accept the most miserable pittance by which human life could be sustained than go into the workhouse—than be separated from his wife and children. Was the production of such a state of things in accordance with the act of Elizabeth? It was not; and he should maintain that the working people of England deserved no such treatment as they were receiving under this Poor-law Amendment Act. A more faithful, just, patient, generous people never existed, and they were, moreover, a most grateful people; they never forgot benefits; but, urged by these inhuman enactments, they might at length be excited, and when once driven to desperation, there were no people on earth of more unflinching courage. With increasing knowledge and intelligence resistance to this measure might be anticipated; and if Ministers went on in their present reckless course, there was no knowing how soon it might come; and were it not for such measures as these, the country might be most happy, for he knew nothing so calculated to promote public happiness as a mixed form of government. It was suited to the circumstances and to the genius of the English people. For the reasons, then, that he had stated, he should submit this proposition to the committee, namely, that the first clause be postponed.

Sir J. Graham:

I have listened to the hon. Member, who has just addressed the House, with great attention, but, nevertheless, I have been unable to discover what his real feelings are upon several points of primary importance. Every man in this House must agree in the glowing eulogium which the hon. Member pronounced upon the character of the people of this country. It is most true, that they possess every virtue which can adorn a brave and free people. As to the institutions under which they live, however, I am left in a state of the greatest doubt with respect to the hon. Member's feelings towards them. In the latter part of his speech the hon. Member made a strong declaration in favour of our mixed form of Government, and gave the House a solemn warning of the danger of supporting the present bill, because it would, he thought, weaken the attachment of the people to that form of Government. I was lost in amazement when I heard the hon. Member speak in that strain, because it was totally inconsistent with what had fallen from him a short time before, when he was referring to the education clauses. The hon. Member's words—I took them down—were, that the education of the people would produce the effect of overthrowing the existing order of things in this country, and the hon. Member frankly avowed that he supported the education of the poor, because he believed, that it would produce that effect. [Mr. Wakley; Not with violence.] The hon. Member will have an opportunity of explaining; but I must say, that both the hon. Member's warnings and praise should be received with caution, whilst his motives are so doubtful. The hon. Member made use of a singular expression when he called the majority of the House which supports the bill upon the Table the truculent supporters of the Government. That expression is not very complimentary when applied to Members on the Ministerial side of the House, but it includes likewise a large number of Members on the opposite Benches. How can they be called the truculent supporters of the Government? I see sitting opposite the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, rejoicing in that idleness which the hon. Member has spoken of as being so agreeable to the Members of this House. Can the right hon. Member be fairly called ft truculent supporter of the Government? There is also the hon. Member for Lambeth, a decided and consistent supporter of the New Poor-law. Ought that hon. Member to be ranked amongst the truculent supporters of the Government? The same observation is applicable to the hon. Member for Bath, who is absent, and whose speech the hon. Member has commented upon with some severity. In fact, the bill is supported by Conservatives, Whigs, and Radicals of the first class, and it is absurd to speak of them as being the truculent supporters of the Administration. The hon. Member said, that if the first clauses of the bill should be carried, and the others abandoned, he would offer the most strenuous opposition to that arrangement. That remark shows me that the opponents of the measure are not agreed in their views respecting it, for the very course which the hon. Member deprecates, was approved by his Colleague on a former evening, when it was proposed by the hon. Member for Durham. It is not, however, of much use arguing the question, because it is the ear-nest desire of the Government to proceed with the whole measure in the order in which it is presented to the House. I will shortly state why I consider it of immense importance that this should be done, though I fear, that from the desultory nature of these frequent discussions, I shall be obliged to repeat what I have already communicated to the House. After the clause for continuing the commission, all the clauses, with the single exception of that relating to the Gilbert unions, are of a mitigatory character. Suppose the hon. Member should succeed in destroying the commission, and the Government should be unable to carry the bill further, all the proposed ameliorations would be lost. What would be the state of things afterwards? Passing by the extreme confusion and other evils which would result from a want of control over local authority, there would then be no appeal from the boards of guardians, who, being rate-payers, would have an interest in cutting down relief to the lowest minimum. The stringent order against out-door relief; too, to which such strong objections are felt, would remain a portion of the law of the land, and there would be no means of dispensing with it, except by an order of the Queen in Council. I could point out many other inconveniences which would arise from the adoption of the course to which I have referred; but perhaps I have already said enough to satisfy even the opponents of the measure of the impolicy of such a proceeding. Reference having been made to Lord Brougham's speech, from which I quoted on a former evening, I beg leave to say, that I do not go the whole length of adopting all Lord Brougham's views as embodied in that speech. On a former night I selected a particular passage of the speech in question, and passed an eulogium on it, because I conceived it expressed justly the views which were entertained by Lord Grey's Government in introducing the Poor Law Amendment Bill; but speaking with the utmost respect of Lord Brougham, I must say I think his Lordship fell into the error upon that occasion of pushing some principles to an extreme length, which aroused a feeling in the public mind against the economists generally. I do not contend against providing relief to the poor by forced contributions; much less am I disposed to say any thing against hospitals, asylums, and other charitable institutions. I contend broadly for all the great principles of the act of Elizabeth. I think it is wisely determined in England, Scotland, and, I am happy to say now, to a certain degree in Ireland, that the destitute, the sick, the aged, and the infirm, shall be maintained by a rate. Further, I admit, that able-bodied persons, when destitute, have a right to relief; but there is a condition attached to their claim. The aged, the sick, and the infirm have an unconditional right to relief; but the able-bodied have a contingent and conditional claim. A test is to be applied to their alleged destitution, and that test is a task of work. The statute of Elizabeth, upon which the hon. Member so much relies, distinctly provided that a task of work should be done by the able-bodied applying for relief; but it did not declare, that the work should be done in the workhouse; it left that point vague. The hon. Member is wrong in supposing that the act of Elizabeth gave the applicant who was refused relief a right of appeal to the magistrates. [Mr. Wakley: It does.] The hon. Member says, that the act of Elizabeth does give that right of appeal. Has the hon. Member looked at the statute? [Mr. Wakley: I looked at it to-day.] Considering that the hon. Member is a coroner of great experience and acuteness I might have been disposed to put confidence in his construction of an act of Parliament; but when I hear him maintain, that the act of Elizabeth gave an able-bodied pauper applying for relief, and being refused, an appeal to a magistrate, I must confess I am astonished. The act of Elizabeth did, it was true, give a right of appeal, but it gave it to the rate-payer, who might conceive himself injured by a rate unduly levied. I will tell the hon. Member where he will find the right of appeal to which he has referred first given to the pauper. It was in the reign of William and Mary. The hon. Member also supposes, that the poor-house test introduced in the bill of 1834 is a novelty. Is that to be taken as another proof of his legal knowledge? The test of labour in the workhouse, which is supposed to be a novelty which it was left to Lord Grey's Government to introduce, is part of the statute law. It stands on the statute book in as plain and indelible characters as those in which it was re-enacted by the bill of 1834. In that respect the measure of 1834, was but a plagiarism, and the adoption of an old principle to be found in the 9th of George 1st. If the hon. Member will refer to that statute, he will find that it went far beyond the present law; for it authorised the parochial authorities to let out paupers to other parishes, and to make a profit of their labour. I will quote the words of the act. [Here the right hon. Baronet read an extract.] Now, the House will observe, that here is the principle, first, of the union workhouses, and, secondly, of the in-door relief test. And how long did the 9th of George 1st remain in force? It was the law of the land till 1796, when at a period of great distress, there was some relaxation of the rule; there was then a provision, that relief need not be limited to the walls of the workhouses, even as to able-bodied paupers; and from that act it was, that all those evils sprung which it was the intention of the New Poor-law Bill to remedy. The act of 1834, repealed the act of 1796, and left the 9th of George 1st in force; so that, were the present act repealed, the 9th of George 1st would be left in operation, with all its stringent prohibitions of out-door relief. In this state of the law, the question is, whether the administration of the workhouse test shall remain under the control of some central authority. Now, the hon. Member for Finsbury has said, that there is a general feeling in the large counties against the operation of the measure. But this has been well replied to by my right hon. Friend, the First Lord of the Treasury, who stated, that there are only 100 petitions against the bill, signed by less than 40,000 persons. [Mr. Ferrand here asked how many had been presented from boards of guardians?] Well, then, as the hon. Gentleman has asked that question, I will just state how these petions are, many of them, got up. I have a letter describing the circumstances connected with the getting up of one from St. George's, Southwark, in these terms. A vestry meeting was convened in the parish church, to consider the new Poor-law Act Amendment Bill. The usual printed notices were distributed. A gentleman of the name of Boxer spoke against the enormities of the act. But in a parish containing 40,000 inhabitants, when I attended, the audience was thus composed:—two churchwardens, two overseers, one vestry clerk, one sexton, one parish clerk, two poor-rate collectors, one beadle, two reporters, the chairman, and seven other persons. This was on the 14th of June last. There had been the ordinary excitements of "Odious tyranny," "Workhouse bastiles," "Three kings of Somerset-house," &c. My informant proceeds as follows:— Petitions to Parliament having been proposed, I proposed an amendment, to the effect, that as in a parish containing 50,000 inhabitants, not thirty persons could be assembled to discuss the subject, it was manifest that the parishioners were content to leave the question in the hands of the Legislature. For the original motion, however, thirteen hands being held up, the petition were carried; and on an inquiry being made as to the expences of engrossing the petition, &c, it was carried that they should come out of the church-rate; seeing that the salutary dread of the Poor-law auditor deterred them from imposing the burden on the poor-rates. So much, then, for the petitions. But further: the hon. Member for Finsbury; has declared that wages have not been raised since the passing of that the new Poor-law. Now, I was happy to hear the hon. Member for Montrose—roused from his usual apathy—assert emphatically that statement was not correct: for wages have been raised in consequence of that measure, and the hon. Member for Montrose will, doubtless, from a regard to the best interests of the poor, give the measure his cordial support. I beg to repeat, that I deem the continuance of the commission and a continuance to it of the confidence of Parliament the very key-stone of the measure, and I am firmly convinced, that if the first five clauses were omitted, the bill would! be worse than useless; the Poor-law would then become a mass of confusion, productive to the poor of the greatest injury. Now, although I well know it is customary on these occasions to make plausible professions of zeal for the welfare of the poor, I shall make no such professions; but this I will declare, that having the condition of the poor constantly under my careful consideration, and my feelings being most powerfully interested in their relief, I am most deeply convinced of the necessity of this measure. I think the bill properly begins with the very point on which the law now stands—the justice of the continuance of the commission; all others are points of detail, being only modifications of the existing measure; and I am sure, that if the House, throwing aside all merely factious considerations, would apply itself calmly to the consideration of the bill, its deliberations would be conducive to the advantage of the public, and above all, to the alleviation of the distresses of the working classes, entitled as they are at all times to attention, and now, especially to the most tender and sympathetic regard.

Mr. E. Butter

said, it was generally supposed that the much talked of 43rd of Elizabeth made full provision for out-door relief. It did no such thing. It referred to the 14th of Elizabeth, which it left unrepealed, and which enacted that the paupers who chose not to go into the workhouses should be grievously whipped, even till blooded, and then bored through the gristle of the ear with a hot iron. It was in subsequent statutes only that outdoor relief was provided for. Not till the 3rd of William and Mary was provision made for application to justices of the peace. It was the 35th George 3rd which prescribed the rate at which out-door relief was to be administered, and from that act all the multifarious evils remedied by the New Poor-law had flowed. The operation of the old out-door relief system had tended to break down and deteriorate the spirit of the working classes, destroying all their independence. Now, as to the question relative to the right of the poor to relief—in the sense of an indefeasible claim—no such right existed, nor could it be supported on any ground which might not equally support a claim for landed property. But there was certainly a claim to relief founded on the statutable prohibition of alms-begging. That claim, however, he contended was fully satisfied by the workhouse proviso. Anything beyond that must be matter of mere indulgence. Some test must be applied to destitution, and the workhouse test was far more lenient and far more just than the labour test. On these grounds he supported the continuance of the existing measure.

Mr. Benett

said, that the remarks of the hon. Member for Staffordshire embodied principles so widely differing from those by which he was actuated that he must be excused for offering a few observations. The hon. Member told them that the poor had no right to relief save that they derived from the law. Now, he argued, that they derived their right from a higher source—namely, from the common usage of the land to relieve the poor in cases of extreme necessity, and he contended that under that usage they had an absolute right to such maintenance as was in conformity with it. But this was beside the question. What they were now to consider was, what was best to be done under all the circumstances of the present time; and his feeling was decidedly for modification. He did wish to see the local authorities exercising discretionary powers independent of the commissioners. The commissioners could only act by general rules, and those rules sometimes operated with great harshness. What, for instance, was the effect of their orders upon a labourer with 8s., 9s., or 10s. a week? Such a man must dispose of every chair and table he possessed before he could receive their relief, and then when he got into the workhouse what chance had he of getting out of it again? He could not repurchase his furniture—he possessed no means of reinstating himself in the world. These were cases of great hardship. He had met with several which had come immediately under his own notice, and he must say that he thought that under such circumstances the local boards of guardians ought to have a discretionary power of acting upon their own judgment. In his opinion, the idea of raising wages by the operation of the workhouse test had proved perfectly futile. At the time the Poor-law originally passed he had said that it would be ineffectual, for that wages were guided by the price of food. They had been so governed, and their notions of workhouse tests and of abstracting from one labour market to supply the demand in another had proved, as he predicted, great absurdities. But what they wanted was to see the law so administered as to give such comfort and support to the poor—and he only wanted a common support to be given—as would enable them to subsist free from beggary. In the west of England the commission s had one year adopted a plan which had proved a great relief. They had taken the children of the poor people into the workhouse during the winter, and, so far from the practice being objected to, the mothers, when they found they were taken care of, gladly concurred in the plan. The winter following, however, the system was abandoned, and many of the poor, being unable to support themselves and their children too, had, inconsequence, endure the greatest possible privations. Ha wished local boards of guardians to have some such power as this, and also to exercise more general control than they at present held. As to the question immediately under discussion, he was really much in doubt whether it was necessary to have commissioners in London or not, but at any rate, of one thing he was quite sure, and that was, that the commissioners at present relieved the country gentlemen of a vast deal of odium. At present nothing was more easy than for a guardian to refuse a request and throw upon the commissioners the blame of preventing his complying with it. For one, he did not wish to evade his duty as a proprietor of the soil. He did not wish to relieve himself from any share of odium which might attach to his administration of the law. But, at the same time that it was his anxious desire to do his duty to his country and his fellows, he must say, that, in coming to a decision upon this matter he was puzzled whether it would be better to assent to the continued appointment of commissioners at once, or to postpone the consideration of the point until hereafter. Feeling this doubt and difficulty, however, he should certainly not at once consent to appoint the commissioners for five years, and he would, therefore, give his vote in favour of the amendment.

Mr. E. R. Rice

did not think the hon. Member who had last spoken was just in reference to the wages of labour. In his opinion it was not the New Poor-law which kept down wages, but in most cases the bad arrangement under the old law. With respect to the general question, he considered the simple point in dispute to be, whether the House would continue the new law with its numerous advantages, or revert to the old, and much abused system. For his own part, he firmly believed that nothing could be more advantageous for the labouring classes than the administration of the central control, so much objected to by some. It was difficult, if not impossible, to secure perfect uniformity in working the system, and there was no surer way of meeting the objections and inconveniences which thus arose than by the creation of a central power. He trusted they would assent to the continuance of the commission, and would then proceed at once to details. When they came to the consideration of these points, they would find him as anxious as any one to modify any harshness in the bill; and here he might take occasion to remark that he thought other hon. Members would have done better if they had applied their powers to the same object, rather than have tried to throw obstacles in the way of the passage of the measure. Among the modifications he should endeavour to obtain was an additional security by an enactment, to the effect that all new rules made by the commissioners should be submitted to, and should receive the sanction of, the Secretary of State before they were brought into operation. This he considered an important point, and he should have something more to say on it when they came to discuss another clause.

Mr. S. Wortley

said, the question of the appointment or non-appointment of the commissioners had been already discussed, and the House had thought fit to decide the point in such a manner as to leave no doubt as to their opinion on it. The question now was whether they were to proceed to vote a continuation of the commissioners' powers for five years and a Session before they went into the remaining clauses of the bill. If he were told that this proceeding was captious or troublesome to Government, he was prepared to say in reply that he thought a more reasonable proposition could scarcely be made. The hon. Member for Finsbury said, Here is a measure containing a variety of provisions hanging upon the first clause. That clause contains an appointment of commissioners for a specific term. There are differences of opinion as to the duration of that term, and can anything be more fair than that the discussion of the point shall be postponed until the other provisions have been considered? Now, for his own part, if he could so alter this bill as to render it what he thought it ought to be, and also to render it acceptable to the country at large, and more especially to his own constituents, he should, without the slightest reluctance, give his consent to the continuance of the powers of the commissioners. But he did think that it was rather unfair that they should be told that they must continue them without knowing on what terms they were to do so; and he would say at once, for himself, that before he voted for such a continuance he must know on what grounds it was asked, for he must see what alterations were to be made, and whether such new provisions as he thought necessary were to be introduced. He must see all this before he consented to grant these powers, and in thus acting he did not think he was at all taking a course which was unwarrantable. The right hon. Baronet told them that those who objected to these powers had only to look to the bill and they would find that every provision went to limit them. Now, to this proposition he could not consent. [Sir J. Graham: I said that every provision went to mitigate the existing law—not to limit the commissioners' powers.] Well, to mitigate the existing law. Perhaps one or two clauses of the bill did go to limit the existing law, but there still remained the main principle on which the law turned—he meant the right of active and absolute interposition on the part of the commissioners. Now, he did most strongly object to the assertion of the principle, that it was necessary to this bill that such powers should be given. He hoped that the day was not far distant when they might expect to return to a more orderly, regular, and he would add, constitutional mode of operation, than taking all the power out of the hands of the local authorities. The sooner they dispensed with such central powers the better, if they would only put local administration on the better footing. He could conceive that for purposes of statistics, or such like, it might be advisable to retain such boards, but he repeated, that he did hope the day was not far distant when the local authorities might be reinstated with their constitutional powers, and might be freed from the perpetual interference of the commissioners. He was the more disposed to cherish this hope, because he observed, that the strength of the expression of public feeling on this subject had not been without its effect on the language of some of those who were accustomed to support the system. He would not say that those individuals had abandoned any opinion they entertained; but what he meant to say was, that they had become sensible of the strong public feeling which prevailed. That this was the case was proved by a number of remarkable admissions in the course of the debate. On the first reading the right hon. Baronet near him had admitted, that he had no longer any ground for defending the existence of the commission for the purpose of enforcing uniformity. He must say that he considered that a very important admission, and it was especially so as regarded the parties he represented, for there they had been accustomed to consider that uniformity was the main object to be gained. Then, again, in the debate on the second reading, the right hon. Baronet had also admitted, that parts of the law were inapplicable to the manufacturing districts. This was what they had felt very strongly in the north, and he must say, he believed not only that the statement was true, but that there were also points retained in the present bill which were equally inapplicable. A still more important admission was negatively made by his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. He owned that it did strike him, that his right hon. Friend so far agreed with him, that he studiously avoided saying anything that might be taken to imply that the agents or the powers of the commission were a necessary part of the general organization. They might differ as to the period to which they would wish to prolong the commission, but it certainly was a valuable concession to any party in opposition, even although it had been put negatively by the right hon. Baronet, that the time might arrive when there would be an alteration. The question, therefore, was, whether they should come to any decision as to the period for which the commission should be continued before they had considered the terms upon which it was proposed to continue it? Until they were satisfied as to the manner of its continuance, they could scarcely be expected to decide upon the other point. If the right hon. Baronet and the House could be induced to modify the provisions of the bill, so as to make it conducive to the best interests of the population of this country, he should not have the smallest objection to continue the commission for the whole period.

Captain Pechell

said, the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, had attempted to amuse the House by his description of an Anti-Poor-law meeting in the borough of Southwark, which he described to have consisted of two beadles, two churchwardens, two reporters, and other parties, in all, not exceeding thirty-six persons; and the right hon. Baronet seemed to shelter himself under the meagre amount of persons which he said attended the meeting. But the right hon. Baronet ought to have taken some notice of a meeting which was held on Thursday last, within two hours and a half's ride from London. He alluded to Brighton, of course; a town containing 46,000 inhabitants. It appeared, by a late decision in the Court of Queen's Bench, that the Poor-law commissioners were in possession of such powers with regard to towns having local acts as would place them in the same position as to the management of workhouses, and as to the relief out of doors, precisely as those places which formed part and parcel of Poor-law unions. The inhabitants of Brighton, therefore, being aware of the dangers to which they were rendered liable by the new law, saw no other means of averting them than by opposing the continuance of the Poor-law commission. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had taken a very rational view of the question; because the first clause might be considered as the preamble of the bill; and the abolition of the Gilbert unions was specially provided for. But, independent of that, it seemed that the power of the commissioners was such, that they could deal with towns under special acts just as they could with Poor-law unions. Therefore, as the bill did not recognise the rights established by local acts, and as there was no disposition to agree to the proposition of the Member for East Sussex, he thought no better course could be taken than one of opposition to the continuance of the powers of the commissioners. He called upon the committee to postpone the clause, until it could be ascertained whether the Gilbert unions were to be protected or not. The right hon. Baronet, in opening this subject, had appealed to the feelings of the House in favour of the continuance of the commission. But in what manner did he receive the deputation from the guardians of Liverpool? The right hon. Baronet refused to see the deputation, because he knew what they wanted; and he refused to see the deputation from Brighton, because he did not know what they wanted. The right hon Gentleman now assumed a very different spirit from that in which he had commenced these proceedings, and there was a sort of menacing tone which was not at all likely to conciliate the dislike which was felt towards this measure; and he could assure the right hon. Baronet that it was as much as he could do to keep peace and quietness amongst the people at Brighton. The right hon. Baronet had commenced one of his speeches by asking "Who is the Member for Rochdale and who seconds his amendment?" What right had he to do that? The right hon. Gentleman had spoken lightly of those unions which were not compelled to send up weekly reports to the commissioners, as though they were not competent to give any opinion upon the subject. The result of the experience of the people in Sussex with respect to neighbouring unions was, that they had no expectation of deriving any advantage from the continuance of the Poor-law commission. The circumstance which happened the other day, the case of a child having been starved to death at Ringmer, was one not likely to make the measure satisfactory, either to those who paid the rates, or those who partook of them. The right hon. Baronet had received a most able statement, drawn up by Mr. Anderson, whose authority he could not deem a light one, and who was chairman of the vestry at Brighton. It was an important document, and showed a particular acquaintance with the working of the Poor-law, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman had read it. It might be said, that if the guardians refused to act under the authority of the Poor-law commissioners, the country would be placed in a state of confusion. That had not been the case in Braintree when the guardians had retired from office. He believed that there was no union in which the Poor-laws might not be administered in a manner more satisfactory than they were at present, by a discretionary power in the hands of the guardians. The right hon. Baronet had said that the poor would be thrown out of employment in the inclement season, and there would be no means of relief provided for them, if his proposition were not carried. But why not give the guardians a discretionary power to act? He apprehended that no confusion would arise from the course which he advocated. At all events, they could not be in a worse position than they were. He should, therefore, consider it his duty to support the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury. The Poor-law commissioners had acted very unfairly; they had permitted abuses to exist, and what excuse had they for that? They did not attempt to interpose against a most extravagant outlay, at Brighton, of 9,000l.; but now, when the vestry proposed to lay out 2,000l. only, in the erection of a chapel and school, they stepped in to put a stop to it as an abuse, acting upon the powers which they were said to possess, according to the doctrine of Lord Denman. He concluded by declaring that the report of the Poor-law commissioners was inaccurate, and that he would support the motion for the continuance of the commission for one year and no longer.

Sir J. Graham

said, the gallant Officer had called upon him so pointedly for some explanation of what he had said on a former evening, that he must offer a few words to the notice of the Committee, wishing to remind them that he had called attention to a matter of fact, namely, that of two Members who opposed this bill, one was a Gentleman not conversant with the operation of the Poor-law act, and represented a large town to which its operation had not extended, and that the hon. and gallant Officer resided in a Gilbert union in Sussex; and he must add, that he thought his observations were quite consistent with the sentiments to which he had previously given expression. He did not think that the hon. and gallant Officer was informed of all the proceedings of the Brighton guardians, for he had that morning received a letter from Chester, enclosing another, which had been addressed, from Brighton, to the clerk of the board of guardians of the workhouse there, which was under a local act, as well as Brighton. Of this letter the hon. and gallant Officer seemed to be ignorant. He had stated how petitions against the Poor-law bill had been got up in the neighbourhood of the House—a meeting had been called in the borough of Southwark by public notice, and it was attended by twenty-six persons, thirteen of whom, he believed, agreed to a petition. Let the committee listen to the letter from Brighton:— Sir,—I beg to inform you that, as Sir J. Graham has declined to receive the deputation from Brighton, the vestry, guardians, and committee have sent in a statement of the Brighton case, and requested Mr. Darby, the Member for East Sussex (he should have thought they would rather have selected the hon. and gallant Officer) to move a clause which they have prepared and sent to him, to exempt all places under local acts entirely from the control of the Poor-law commissioners. Mr. Darby has written to me, promising to use every exertion in his power to carry the clause. I have, therefore, to request the favour of your board using all their Parliamentary influence to support his amendment. But what was the letter of the gentleman who had enclosed this one to him, and who was, he thought, clerk to the board of guardians at Chester? He said:— I enclose you a circular from the Brighton guardians, in order to show you the sort of machinery at work to get up a demonstration in places that have local acts against the Poor-law Bill. The Chester guardians, although under a local act, will not join in this opposition; they are not adverse to the principle of the measure nor to the commissioners, but they only object to be united to large rural districts,' which the present bill provides against. They have elected as chairman for the present year a most strenuous supporter of the Poor-laws, as well as myself, whose opinions are well known, as deputy-governor and treasurer; and I hope it will not be long before the board is placed under the superintendence of the commissioners. He hoped that was satisfactory to the hon. and gallant Officer.

Mr. Cardwell

said, if he had not listened to the debates which had taken place on this subject, he should scarcely have supposed that any man would dream that the present system of Poor-laws was to die a natural death, no provision being made for the poor in its absence. The very feelings which made him adverse to the Poor-law Bill also impelled him to support the continuance of the existing measure till some better one be substituied. Some hon. Gentlemen had objected to the New Poor-law Bill because it was a great and excessive change in the law, and yet they were prepared at this time of day to plunge the whole country into confusion by suspending the present system without proposing an adequate provision for the poor. He confessed himself ready to wave some of his opposition to the unconstitutional nature of the system when he found that the right hon. Baronet proposed to continue it for five years only instead of ten; because he believed the right hon. Gentleman was dealing fairly with the country in so doing, and giving a pledge that he did not mean to make it a permanent system. He had not armed himself with tales of sorrow, or with statistical facts in relation to the operation of the Poor-law—not that he was unacquainted with cases of hardship and oppression, or with evidence of a statistical character. He thought that a measure of this kind should be viewed in connexion with certain principles, and with reference to its bearing on society generally. We approach the Government calmly and expound our views, and we say, "If you will satisfy us that the remedy which you are about to propose shall be co-extensive with the disease, we will promise to take no step which shall have the effect of embarrassing the Government." The position which the right hon. Baronet held had not been properly considered. His (Sir R. Peel's) was not so much the triumph of party as the well-marked expression of public opinion. Reference had been made to the majority who supported the right hon. Baronet. He (Mr. Cardwell) thought that the circumstance of the right hon. Baronet being supported by so powerful a body in that Home was a subject of congratulation. The right hon. Baronet could afford to listen to the reasons of the minority without compromising his character. He considered that what had fallen from the Government justified them in expecting some mitigation of the provisions of the bill. As the right hon. Baronet had stated that certain amendments might be introduced into the bill when in committee, it was not inconsistent for the House to ask the Government for a little delay. Why should those who wished for the postponement of the clause be compelled to vote against a clause which, as the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire said, it was possible they might afterwards be induced to support? All they asked for was for time to consider. If that was not granted it was their duty to support the motion before the House. He should be pleased if the Government could be induced to yield on this point. If they did not, he should vote against this clause,

Mr. Darby

would address a few words to the House with reference to what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton. That hon. and gallant Member stated that he should oppose this bill on the ground of its interfering with local acts, without reference to its influence on other parts of the country. He could not take that view of the case. Hon. Members should bear in mind that if they got rid of the commissioners tomorrow, all the stringent laws with regard to the administration of out-door relief would still remain in full operation. He said this most decidedly. If the hon. Member for Finsbury wished to effect his object, he should bring in an act of Parliament to repeal the Poor-law Bill altogether. The hop. Member for Finsbury was mistaken on a point of law. That hon. Member had staled that there was no appeal to the magistracy in the case of the aged poor. Such was not the fact. They had the power of appeal, and the magistracy could administer relief. With respect to this class, the aged persons, the bill had acted well in his neighbourhood. The bill before the House differed from the act of the 43rd of Elizabeth with reference to the labour test. He objected to a Poor-law Continuance Bill every year. He wished to see introduced from time to time a Poor-law Amendment Bill, and then the House would have an opportunity of discussing its clauses with a view to their modification, if necessary. If they had a Poor-law Continuance Bill instead of a Poor-law Amendment Bill, it could not be modified in committee. Whether it was for three or five years he would object to it. With respect to local acts he should not then enter into a discussion. If he should succeed in carrying his clause with reference to local acts he should be satisfied.

Mr. T. Duncombe

wished to set himself right with the House and with the right hon. Baronet opposite, who had stated that he had consented to a continuance of the commission for five years. Nothing which he had said would warrant such a construction. He had stated when he brought forward his motion, that before he consented to allow the commission to continue either for one year or five years it must be proved to him that inconvenience would arise from its cessation. He objected to the bill on the ground that it was possible to afford the poor relief without any central control whatever. He was surprised that the Government had not at once come forward to support the motion which had been submitted to the House. His hon. Colleague, (Mr. Wakley) had moved that the first clause be postponed until the House decided what were to be the duties of the commissioners. First, let the House consider what was to devolve upon the commissioners, and then it would be time to discuss the question whether the commissioners could be dispensed with. That was the proposition before the House, and was it not a reasonable one? The view taken by himself and by his hon. Friend who proposed the amendment was that taken on a previous occasion by the right hon. Baronet the present Paymaster of the Forces. The right hon. Baronet had himself last year proposed to postpone the consideration of the first clause of a bill similar to that then before the House. On that occasion the right hon. Baronet stated:— In voting for the second reading of the bill, and for going into committee, he did not mean to give his approval of what the bill contained, concurring as he did with the hon. Member for Finsbury, that such amendments should be made as would render it more satisfactory to the country. He thought it would be convenient to postpone this clause for the present, and for this plain reason, that he was not prepared to say how long the Poor-law commissioners ought to be continued until he had ascertained what their powers were to be. He moved the postponement of the clause upon two grounds—first, the mode and manner in which the commissioners had exercised their authority up to the present period; and, secondly, what powers were to be given to them hereafter. In the same speech the right hon. Baronet again said:— He would not be prepared to say how long the commissioners ought to be continued. He might go through the whole of the clauses of this bill, and find fault with them, but he did not think he should be justified in occupying the time of the committee by so doing. The noble Lord had certainly managed the matter with great skill and adroitness. He at first proposed ten years as the period of continuance for the commission, and appeared pertinaciously to adhere to that proposition, although he (Sir E. Knatchbull) believed that the noble Lord had no notion of carrying the point. The noble Lord knew that it was one which would be well discussed, and upon which there would exist differences of opinion, and therefore went upon the principle of asking ten, in order that he might secure five, in case that number should be suggested by any hon. Member on that (the Opposition) side of the House. His right hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth had intimated on the first night the question was debated, that five would be better than ten, but he did not understand him to say that five was the precise term of years he would wish to see under this bill. He thought it would be infinitely better to postpone the first clause until they had gone through the other clauses, when they would be in a much better position do decide that point, which was about the most important in the bill. That was the opinion of the right hon. Baronet in 1841, on the subject of the continuance of the commission. When the second reading of the bill was under the consideration of the House in supporting its principle. Mr. Fox Maule expressed a hope that his noble Friend would not withdraw his bill on that occasion. The right hon. Baronet the Paymaster of the Forces said— He could not agree with the hon. Gentle man who had just sat down, that he had no reason for exhibiting any partiality for this bill. The hon. Gentleman held an important station in the Home Office, whence this bill emanated; he, therefore, might have spoken with more warmth than he probably intended in support of it. He agreed, however, with the hon. Gentleman that it would be better to let the details of this bill be discussed in the few observations which he intended to make to one or two important points. With respect to the new clauses in the present bill, there were very few of them to which he could give his full and cordial assent. He had hoped when her Majesty's Government introduced this bill, apparently for the amendment of the Poor-laws, that they would not have confined themselves almost entirely to giving increased powers to the commissioners. He thought, that instead of strengthening the hands of the commissioners, they should have enabled them to proceed with less stringent enactments than existed in the present law. In order to be consistent the right hon. Baronet must support the motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury. He would not charge the right hon. Baronet with having changed his opinions. He thought that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had been guilty either of a little pleasantry or malice, in placing the name of the right hon. Baronet the Paymaster of the Forces at the back of a bill which he had so strenuously opposed last year. He (Mr. Duncombe) had no doubt, however, that the right hon. Baronet would be able to give an explanation satisfactory to the electors of Kent, the House, and the country.

Sir E. Knatchbull

said, he should be exceedingly sorry to disappoint the expectation of the hon. Member. The hon. Member in rising to make an explanation had taken an opportunity of making a personal attack on him to create a laugh at his expense. He could, however, give the House and the hon. Member a simple but plain explanation of the part he had acted with reference to the Poor-law Bill; but before doing so, he questioned the right of the hon. Member to call upon him for an explanation. It was quite true that he took the course pointed out by the hon. Gentleman when the bill was introduced last year by the noble Lord the Member for the City of London, but he found that he met with very little support even from hon. Members opposite. The almost universal opinion of the House was against him, and, as he had no reason to suppose that the House had altered its opinion, he certainly could see no reason why he should support the motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury. He thought he would be perfectly justified in doing so on the ground that very considerable modifications had been made in the bill, although he was not satisfied with the bill introduced by the noble Lord; and inasmuch as the present bill proposed to mitigate many of the evils of the Poor-law, he thought he might, with perfect consistency, vote for it. The motion before the House was not proposed with the same view as the motion he made last year—he proposed bonâ fide to postpone the commissioners' clause until the House had decided upon the powers to be exercised by them, but the motion before the House was avowedly intended to defeat the bill, and on that ground he could not support it. He confessed that many of the earlier publications of the commissioners he had looked at with regret, but from a close attention to what had been the practice of late, he knew that very material modifications had been made in their rules, and he was prepared to give his vote for the continuance of the commission for the period named in the bill.

Mr. P. Howard

did not think that the hon. Baronet had been so successful in vindicating his own change of opinion, because if he had voted against the appointment of commissioners, whatever modifications of the principle of the bill were afterwards made, he ought now to vote with the hon. Member for Finsbury. On one point he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that in many cases the unpopularity of the commissioners had arisen rather from harsh expressions in their regulations, than from anything which they had enacted. Expressions which he trusted would never be repeated, respecting the giving of alms, had created considerable feeling against their power. Hon. Gentlemen seemed to think, that the power of the commissioners did away with the principles of local Government. It did no such thing; it merely gave a court of appeal, which acted more in favour of the poor than against then. It had been asserted, that the poor had no positive claim to relief. To that doctrine he could not assent. It was well known, that, previous to the time of Henry 8th there were no Poor-Laws, and the poor were maintained from the patrimony of the church, The church property having been taken away at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, the poor were deprived of a considerable portion of income which the canon law devoted to their support. The act of Elizabeth was merely an act of restitution, when Parliament gave back to the poor that which was wrenched from them against every principle of justice. He had given his support to this bill, and he concurred in the view taken by the right hon. Baronet in pressing this bill through Parliament during the present Session. He could fancy nothing more disastrous to the country than the annual agitation of this subject. It would arm the factious in every part of the kingdom with power against the authority of the law. It was desirable to pass the bill in a spirit of conciliation, and not allow it to be a constant source of agitation and discord.

Mr. Wakley

, after four hours' discussion, was compelled to say, that he had not heard one single argument of the slightest weight advanced against his proposition. Thanks to the excellent memory of his hon. Colleague, the arguments put forth last year by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Kent, were again fresh in the recollection of the House; and he could not improve upon them. He would only ask, was the House prepared to vole that the commission should positively last for six years before they had resolved upon the nature and extent of the powers they would intrust the commissioners with? Every man of sense out of the House would say that his proposal was a reasonable one, and they would be astonished to find that it had met with any opposition whatever. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department declared the determination of the Government to proceed with the bill as it stood. Notice had been given of at least forty amendments, and forty more might be brought forward before the bill got through committee, yet they were going to vote that the commission should last six years, they being in perfect blindness as to the powers or duties of the commissioners. He was prepared to go on discussing clause after clause, not in any factious spirit; but the bill was one of immense importance, and it was impossible it could meet with too much investigation and deliberation. He called upon all who had given notice of an amendment to vote in favour of his motion, otherwise they would be in the hands of the Government, and their amendments would be laughed at. With respect to the education of the children of the poor, the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department had misunderstood him. He was most anxious to maintain the existing form of Government—he thought it was the best adapted for the country. What he spoke of was the constitution of that House—it was the present system of electoral law that he wished to see overthrown. He desired to see the people have more power in that House and in order to qualify them for the electoral rights he desired to see them educated.

The committee divided on the question that the clause be postponed—Ayes 74: Noes 206; Majority 132.

List of the AYES.
Ainsworth, P. Hanmer, Sir J.
Arkwright, G. Harris, J. Q.
Attwood, M. Hawkes, T.
Beckett, W. Henley, J. W.
Benett, J. Hervey, Lord A.
Blackstone, W. S. Hodgson, F.
Blake, M. Hornby, J.
Bowring, Dr. Humphery, Ald.
Broadwood, H. James, Sir W. C.
Brocklehurst, J. Jervis, J.
Brotherton, J. Lawson, A.
Brownrigg, J. S. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Buck, L. W. Masterman, J.
Burroughes, H. N. Mundy, E. M.
Busfeild, W. Napier, Sir C.
Callaghan, D. O'Brien, A. S.
Cardwell, E. O'Connell, D.
Christopher, R. A. O'Connell, J.
Cochrane, A. Palmer, R.
Collins, W. Palmer, G.
Colvile, C. R. Pechell, Capt.
Crawford, W. S. Polhill, F.
Denison, E. B. Pollington, Visct.
D'Israeli, B. Richards, R.
Douglas, Sir H. Scholefield, J.
Duke, Sir J. Sibthorp, Col.
Duncombe, T. Smythe, hon. G.
Eaton, R. J. Stewart, J.
Etwall, R. Stuart, H.
Farnham, E. B. Taylor, J. A.
Fielden, J. Walker, R.
Ferrand, W. B. Wallace, R.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Williams, W.
Gore, M. Wodehouse, E.
Greenall, P. Yorke, H. R.
Grimsditch, T.
Halford, H. TELLERS.
Hall, Sir B. Wakley, T.
Hampden, R. Wortley, Hon. J. S.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Baring, hon. W. B.
Acland, T. D. Baring, rt. hon. F. T.
A'Court, Capt. Barnard, E. G.
Adderley, C. B. Barrington, Visct.
Aldam, W. Bentinck, Lord G.
Alford, Visct. Beresford, Major
Allix, J. P. Bernal R.
Antrobus, E. Blackburne, J. I.
Bailey, J. Blakemore, R.
Baillie, Col. Bodkin, W. H.
Baird, W. Botfield, B.
Bradshaw, J. Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.
Bramston, T. W. Hodgson, R.
Broadley, H. Hope, hon. C.
Browne, R. D. Howard, Lord
Bulkeley, Sir R. B.W. Howard, P. H.
Buller, C. Howard, hon. H.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Howick, Visct.
Cartwright, W. R. Hughes, W. B.
Chapman, A. Hutt, W.
Charteris, hon. F. Jackson, J. D.
Chelsea, Visct. James, W.
Chetwode, Sir J. Jermyn, Earl
Childers, J. W. Johnstone, Sir J.
Clerk, Sir G. Johnstone, H.
Clive, E. B. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Clive, hn. R. H. Kemble, H.
Colebrook, Sir T. E. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Craig, W. G. Knight, H. G.
Cripps, W. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Damer, hon. Col. Lincoln, Earl of
Darby, G. Lindsay, H. H.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Listowel, Earl of
Dickinson, F. H. Litton, E.
Divett, E. Lockhart, W.
Dodd, G. Lyall, G.
Douglas, J. D. S. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Dugdale, W. S. Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.
Duncan, G. Mackenzie, T.
Duncombe, hon. A. Mackenzie, W. F.
Du Pre, C. G. Maclean, D.
East, J. B. M'Geachy, F. A.
Ebrington, Visct. M'Taggart, Sir J.
Egerton, W. T. Mahon, Visct.
Egerton, Sir P. Mainwaring, T.
Eliot, Lord Mangles, R. D.
Elphinstone, H. Manners, Lord J.
Escott, B. March, Earl of
Estcourt, T. G. B. Marshall, W.
Evans, W. Marsham, Visct.
Fellowes, E. Marsland, H.
Fleming, J. W. Martin, J.
Flower, Sir J. Martin, C. W.
Forbes, W. Master, T. W. C.
Forster, M. Meynell, Capt.
Fuller, A. E. Miles, P. W. S.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Morris, D.
Gibson, T. M. Neville, R.
Gill, T. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Norreys, Lord
Glynne, Sir S. R. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Godson, R. Northland, Visct.
Gordon, hon. Capt. O'Brien, J.
Goring, C. Ogle, S. C. H.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Paget, Col.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Palmerston, Visct.
Greenaway, C. Parker, J.
Gregory, W. H. Patten, J. W.
Grey, rt. hn. Sir G. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Grimston, Visct. Peel, J.
Grogan, E. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Hale, R. B. Plumridge, Capt.
Hamilton, W. J. Plumptre, J. P.
Harcourt, G. G. Pollock, Sir F.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Powell, Col.
Hastie, A. Pringle, A.
Hawes, B. Protheroe, E.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Pusey, P.
Reid, Sir J. R. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Replon, G. W. J. Trotter, J.
Rice, E. R. Tufnell, H.
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Rous, hon. Capt. Vane, Lord H.
Rushbrooke, Col. Vere, Sir C. B.
Ryder, hon. G, D. Vernon, G. H.
Sanderson, R. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Seymour, Lord Waddington, H. S.
Seymour, Sir H. B. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Wawn, J. T.
Smith, A. Welby, G. E.
Smith, B. Whitmore, T. C.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Wood, B.
Somerville, Sir W. M. Wood, C.
Stanley, Lord Wood, Col.
Stuart, Lord J. Wood, Col. T.
Stuart, W. V. Worsley, Lord
Stock, Serj. Wrightson, W. B.
Strutt, E. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Sutton, hon. H. M. Wyse, T.
Talbot, C. R. M. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Thesiger, F. Young, J.
Thompson, Ald.
Thornely, T. TELLERS.
Thornhill, G. Fremantle, Sir T.
Tollemache, hon. F. J. Baring, H.

Clause agreed to.

On clause 2,

Mr. B. Wood

said, it appeared from returns made to that House, that in 1840, nearly 13,000 parishes had been formed into unions. At that time 795 parishes were unconnected with any union; but he took it for granted that a great portion of those parishes had since been joined to unions. It therefore appeared to him that assistant-commissioners were no longer required. The expense entailed upon the country by the maintenance of those assistant-commissioners was 20,000l. a year, and their services might now, he thought, be very well dispensed with. It had been said by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that if there were no assistant-commissioners, the former iniquitous system would again prevail. He would direct the attention of the House for a moment to the Keighley union, which was formed in 1837. It appeared that Mr. Alfred Power, the assistant Poor-law commissioner, had visited that union on three occasions during the year 1839. They had heard much said lately with respect to the state of affairs in that union; and he would ask if it was not, at least in some measure, the fault of the assistant commissioners that such a state of things existed? If the assistant-commissioners performed their duty in inspecting the workhouses, and inquiring into the state of the unions, how war it that Keighley was in such a condition? He wished also to call the attention of the House to the present mode of the appointment of auditors. He thought a great improvement would be effected by abolishing the offices of assistant commissioners, and appointing auditors in their place. The assistant-commissioners were appointed by the Poor-law Commissioners. The auditors were at present appointed by the boards of guardians, and he thought a worse system could not exist, for the accounts which it was the duty of the auditors to examine were those of the guardians. He considered the assistant-commissioners entirely useless, for it had been stated that they had not visited some unions for a long period. The Keighley union it seemed had only been visited three times in one year. If the assistant-commissioners were converted into auditors, not only would a great expenditure be saved to the country, but the accounts of the guardians would, be had no doubt, be more efficiently examined than under the present system, and any improper items would be disallowed. The hon. Member was understood to move that in clause 2, lines 19 and 20, the words "assistant-commissioners" be expunged.

Sir J. Graham

said, he thought he was justified in assuming, after the repeated divisions which bad taken place, that a considerable majority of hon. Members were in favour of the continuance of the commission. The question now to be argued was, whether the central commission being established, assistant-commissioners were to be maintained, whose duty it should be to visit the various unions. The hon. Gentleman had not confined his remarks to the continuance of the assistant-commissioners, but had made some observations as to the inefficiency of the present auditors. He thought, that the system now pursued with regard to the appointment of auditors was most impolitic, for the accounts of the boards of guardians were in fact audited by the guardians themselves. The present bill would, to a certain extent, remedy this defect; but, he thought it would be better for the hon. Member to bring forward his proposal on this point when they came to consider that portion of the bill to which he referred. He thought it was most necessary that assistant-commissioners should be maintained who might visit the various unions, and inquire into local circumstances; and this opinion was entertained by the hon. Member for Rochdale, who, though he objected to the central commission, was favourable to the maintenance of itinerant commissioners. The proposition of the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. B. Wood), was, in fact, merely to change the title of the assistant-commissioners. The hon. Member proposed, that those assistant-commissioners, who now reside principally in the country, should he stationed in London, and should he sent down by the commissioners to visit the unions in the character of auditors. If they had a central board established for the purpose of supervising the whole system, it was impossible that that board could act efficiently without some means of personal inspection. He stated no more than the fact, when he said, that the assistant-commissioners were the hands and eyes of the central board. If they abolished the assistant-commissioners, it would be useless to maintain the central hoard. If the House thought the assistant-commissioners should cease to exist, it ought also to dispense with the central commissioners. The hon. Member had referred to the case of the Keighley union, but his observations merely showed, that the inspection had in that instance been inefficient. If his statement proved anything, it was that the number of assistant-commissioners was too limited to enable them to conduct their inspection so efficiently as was desirable. He was satisfied, that as far as the north of England was concerned, more frequent inspection was desirable, and he should be glad to see it established.

Colonel Sibthorp

thought the best thing that could be done would be to throw the bill and the whole of its machinery overboard. There was not a clause, not a sentence, not a line, not a word of it, which could meet with his approbation. If there were to be assistant-commissioners at all, it was evident that the number proposed by the bill would not be sufficient. When an opportunity was afforded to him of taking the sense of the House on his amendment, he would endeavour to get rid of the bill root and branch, commissioners, assistant-commissioners, and all.

Mr. Ferrand

stated, as a Member of that House, that that part of Mr. Mott's report which charged the magistrates with interfering with the relief of the poor in the Keighley Union was a malicious falsehood. When an assistant-commissioner could go down at such a momentous time as just when there was going to be a debate on the Poor-law, and make these scandalous charges against the magistrates, he did think, that, the House should take such steps as would prevent Mr. Mott from ever acting as an assistant-commissioner again. Was the House aware who this Mr. Mott was, who went down and made these scandalous charges? Mr. Mott had accused him, another Member of the House, and four other gentlemen in the commission of the peace with having, for the sake of gaining popularity to themselves, interfered with the relief of the poor; and he had a right to show the House who Mr. Mott was. He found, then, that Mr. Mott had been a contractor for the maintenance of the poor of Lambeth, and that he had undertaken to farm out the poor in different parts of the country, and among others the poor of the parish of Alverstoke, in which Gosport is situate; that, as appeared from his examination before the commissioners of Poor-law inquiry, he farmed the poor of Lambeth at 3s. 11d, a-head, and those of Gosport at 2s. 8d. a-head; that he found that scowering the scales at the Lambeth workhouse made a difference of about half an ounce in the scales, or about 50lb. of meat a-week. Mr. Mott had proposed in this examination that the diet in workhouses should be reduced both in quantity and quality, by a compulsory order. This was the man whose charges against the magistrates of Keighley, he declared to be false, on the authority of a gentleman who had sat at the board of guardians since it was formed; and also of the clerks of the magistrates, who assured him, with the sanction of the magistrates, that there was not one word of truth in that part of the report. Then, as to Sir J. Walsham's report, he knew to be false, several of the extracts which had been read by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) from that report. He was convinced, that Sir J. Walsham was sent down in order to get up a statement to meet him in the House of Commons; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he did not know of Sir J. Walsham's having been sent down previous to the debate? As to the statement of that Gentleman, that a pauper in the Bingley workhouse had been obliged to lie in the same bed with a dead person, he considered it a most monstrous statement.

Sir J. Graham

I am very unwilling to divert the attention of the committee from the point more immediately before it,—namely, whether or no assistant-commissioners shall be continued; but after the direct appeal of the hon. Member, I think it right to answer that appeal immediately. I will begin by answering that part which more immediately related to myself, namely, whether Sir John Walsham was directed to visit the Keighley union immediately before the present debate. The hon. Gentleman had stated distinctly that a prohibitory order respecting out-door relief was in force in the Keighley union, and he accounted for the crowded state of the workhouse as being the effect of that order. I then stated, that that prohibitory order was never issued in the Keighley union. I am now about to use an expression which the hon. Gentleman will perhaps understand. I will join issue with him, not as to the character of Mr. Mott, but upon the question more immediately pending, namely, as to what has been the administration of the relief to the poor in the Keighley union. Mr. Mott is unknown to me. I found that gentleman | to be an assistant poor-law commissioner, appointed some years ago, and I am not aware of any circumstance which ought to dispose me to think any statement made by him to be untrue. The hon. Gentleman has stated that he knows Mr. Mott's report to be untrue. Of course I cannot speak of my own personal knowledge. I communicated to the House what had been represented to me. After I understood that some very strong objections had been taken to issue an out-door relief order for Keighley, founded upon Mr. Mott's report, Sir John Walsham, being in the immediate neighbourhood, and not sent specially to Keighley, but being in the Burnley union, I suggested to the Poor-law Commissioners, in order to remove all doubt upon the subject, that Sir J. Walsham should be sent there. I think I was justified in doing so. Nothing can be less satisfactory than to meet an assertion by counter-assertion. The House will recollect the offer I made the hon. Gentleman. I do not now recede from it. If the hon. Gentleman will move for a committee to inquire into all the circumstances connected with the management of the Keighley union, as set forth in the reports of Mr. Mott and Sir J. Walsham, I will second the motion. That there may be no mistake as to the precise points for inquiry, I will state to the hon. Gentleman the prominent questions which, as I am informed, can be substantiated by evidence before that committee. The points are these:— 1. The occupation of one small bed-room by three married couples (two of the couples young and able-bodied), and by two other females (one young and the mother of bastards). 2. The confinement in childbirth of a young woman in a bed-room occupied by above twenty other individuals, and opening out of the first-named room. 3. The use of the hovel described in Sir J. Walsham's report as a school-room, under the management of an old pauper. 4. The intermixture of males and females in rooms opening out of the same passage, and closely adjoining each other, as well as in one or more instances opening out of each other; a young woman's bed-room, for example, opening out of a man's bed-room, the master and matron in the meanwhile sleeping down stairs. 5. The fact that the same roof covers the Bingley gaol and the Bingley poor-house, the former being, however, the best half of the building. 6. In short, all other circumstances named in the report with reference to the Bingley poorhouse, Mr. Ferrand living close to Bingley. Another point is added, most horrible, if true, and to the statement I request the particular attention of the hon. Member (Mr. Ferrand):—. The master of the Keighley poorhouse volunteered to tell Sir J. Walsham, when he was expressing his dissatisfaction at the comfortless position in which the girl recently confined was placed, that, bad as that might be thought, he was sorry to say he had been obliged, for want of proper accommodation, to let the dead remain by the living till buried. Much horrified at this, Sir J. Walsham himself asked the question of the Bingley master, and he admitted, that when the house was full (as it then was) he also was compelled to do the same as they did at Keighley. This is the issue to which I now challenge the hon. Member. Let the hon. Member move for a committee. This time there can be no mistake. These are the allegations which can be confirmed by evidence, and if the hon. Gentleman likes to move for an inquiry, I will second the motion.

Mr. Wakley

asked, if the assistant Poor-law commissioners, with the 20,000l. a-year, nearly, which they cost the public, witnessed these enormities without checking them, of what use were they. As to dead bodies lying in the same room with the living, was the right hon. Baronet aware that such things happened every day in this metropolis—such was the condition of the poor. He had known bodies to remain two, three, and four days in the midst of a family of four or five persons, who had not the means of removing them. Within the last six weeks he had held an inquest on the body of a child which was in the room with its parents five weeks after it was dead. It had been stated to him that the father of the child made application for a coffin, but did not get it on account of some offence he had given. Ultimately, however, he succeeded in getting a coffin; but on applying to the guardians to bury the corpse, and being questioned as to whether there were any ornaments upon it, to which he replied in the affirmative—there being some small bits of plate—he was told that the clergyman would not bury it without the usual fee; that it would not be buried as a pauper, as the coffin was ornamented. Talk of the Keighley union! Things far more detestable and odious had come under his own observation. Soon after the establishment of the Poor-law commission the tolling of the bell and the use of the pall had been refused to paupers. Altogether the system was too detestable to admit of comment. As to the difference between the hon. Member opposite and Mr. Mott, he believed the hon. Gentleman, and not Mr. Mott.

Mr. R. Yorke

said, the matter ought to be investigated. He most respectfully submitted that it was clearly the duty of the executive to investigate the charges that had been made, for up to this moment they had not been satisfactorily met. Above all things, if the New Poor-law commission were to be continued, it should be first ascertained, as far as possible, whether the commissioner's acts had been faultless or not.

The committee divided on the question, that the words "assistant-commissioners" stand part of the clause:—Ayes 228; Noes 45:—Majority 183.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Botfield, B.
Acland, T. D. Bradshaw, J.
A'Court, Capt. Bramston, T. W.
Adderley, C. B. Broadley, H.
Aldam, W. Brooke, Sir A. B.
Alford, Visct. Brotherton, J.
Allix, J. P, Browne, R. D.
Antrobus, E. Browne, hon. W.
Bailey, J. Bruce, Lord E.
Baring, hon. W. B. Bulkeley, Sir R. B.W.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Buller, C.
Barrington, Visct. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Bateson, R. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Bellew, R. M. Burroughes, H. N.
Bentinck, Lord G. Busfeild, W.
Beresford, Maj. Cardwell, E.
Blackburne, J. I. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Blake, M. J. Cavendish, hon. G. H.
Bodkin, W. H. Chatteris, hon. F.
Chelsea, Visct. Howard, hon. H.
Chetwode, Sir J. Howard, Sir R.
Childers, J. W. Howick, Visct.
Cholmondeley, hn. H. Hughes, W. B.
Chute, W. L. W. Hussey, T.
Clayton, R. R. Hutt, W.
Clerk, Sir G. Jackson, J. D.
Clive, E. B. James, W.
Clive, hon. R. H. Jermyn, Earl
Cowper, hon. W. F. Johnstone, Sir J.
Craig, W. G. Johnstone, H.
Cripps, W. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Damer, hon. Col. Jones, Capt.
Darby, G. Kemble, H.
Dawnay, hon. W. H. Kerr, D. S.
Dennison, J. E. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Dickinson, F. H. Knight, H.G.
Douglas, Sir H. Knightley, Sir C.
Dugdale, W. S. Labouchere, rt. hn. H.
Duncan, G. Lascelles, hon. W. S.
Dundas, D. Lefroy, A.
East, J. B. Legh, G. C.
Eaton, R. J. Lennox, Lord A.
Ebrington, Visct. Lincoln, Earl of
Egerton, W. T. Lindsay, H. H.
Eliot, Lord Litton, E.
Elphinstone, H. Lockhart, W.
Escott, B. Lowther, J. H.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Mackenzie, W. F.
Evans, W. M'Geachy, F. A.
Fellowes, E. Mainwaring, T.
Filmer, Sir E. Mangles, R. D.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Manners, Lord C. S.
Fleming, J. W. Manners, Lord J.
Flower, Sir J. March, Earl of
Follett, Sir W. W. Marshall, W.
Forbes, W. Marsham, Visct.
Forrester, hn. G. C. W. Marsland, H.
Forster, M. Martin, J.
Fuller, A. E. Martin, C. W.
Gaskell, J. M. Master, T. W. C.
Gibson, T. M. Meynell, Capt.
Gill, T. Miles, P. W. S.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Mitchell, T. A.
Glynne, Sir S. R. Neville, R.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Gordon, Lord F. Norreys, Lord
Gore, hon. R. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Goring, C. O'Brien, A. S.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. O'Brien, J.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Ogle, S. C. H.
Greenaway, C. Palmer, R.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Palmerston, visct.
Grimston, Visct. Parker, J.
Grogan, E. Patten, J. W.
Hale, R. B. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hamilton, W. J. Peel, J.
Harcourt, G. G. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Plumridge, Capt.
Hawes, B. Plumptre, J. P.
Hervey, Lord A. Polhill, F.
Hill, Lord M. Pollock, Sir F.
Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J. Ponsonby, hon. J. G.
Hogg, J. W. Powell, Col.
Hope, hon. C. Praed, W. T.
Howard, Lord Pringle, A.
Howard, P. H. Pusey, P.
Rashleigh, W. Thompson, Ald.
Reid, Sir J. R. Thornely, T.
Rice, E. R. Thornhill, G.
Ricardo, J. L. Tollemache, hn. F. J.
Rose, rt. hon. Sir G. Trench, Sir F. W.
Rous, hon. Capt. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Rundle, J. Trollope, Sir J.
Rushbrooke, Col. Trotter, J.
Russell, Lord J. Tufnell, H.
Russell, Lord E. Vane, Lord H.
Ryder, hon. G. D. Vernon, G. H.
Sanderson, R. Vivian, hon. Capt.
Scarlett, hon. R. C. Waddington, H. S.
Seymour, Sir H. B. Watson, W. H.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Wawn, J. T.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Welby, G. E.
Smith, A. Whitmore, T. C.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Wodehouse, E.
Somerville, Sir W. M. Wood, C.
Stanley, Lord Wood, Col.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wood, Col. T.
Stuart, Lord J. Worsley, Lord
Stuart, W. V. Wortley, hon J. S.
Stuart, H. Wyse, T.
Strutt, E. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Sturt, H.C. Young, J.
Sutton, hon. H. M. TELLERS.
Talbot, C. R. M. Fremantle, Sir T.
Thesiger, F. Baring, H.
List of the NOES.
Arkwright, G. Hanmer, Sir J.
Attwood, M. Harris, J. Q.
Bagge, W. Hawkes, T.
Blackstone, W. S. Henley, J. W.
Brocklehurst, J. Hodgson, F.
Brownrigg, J. S. Hodgson, R.
Buck, L. W. Hollond, R.
Callaghan, D. Jervis, J.
Cochrane, A. Mundy, E. M.
Collins, W. Napier, Sir C.
Colvile, C. R. O'Connell, D.
Crawford, W. S. O'Connell, J.
Denison, E. B. Pechell, Capt.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Pollington, Visct.
Douglas, J. D. S. Richards, R.
Duke, Sir J. Scholefield, J.
Duncombe, T. Sibthorp, Col.
Etwall, R. Taylor, J. A.
Fielden, J. Walker, R.
Ferrand, W. B. Wilbraham, hon. R. B.
Greenall, P. Williams, W.
Grimsditch, T. TELLERS.
Halford, H. Wood, B.
Hall, Sir B. Wakley, T.

Captain Pechell moved, that the Chairman do report progress and ask leave to sit again.

Motion agreed to.

House resumed. Committee to sit again.

House adjourned at a quarter-past one o'clock.