HC Deb 30 March 1843 vol 68 cc183-206
Mr. Ferrand

rose, pursuant to notice, "to move for leave to bring in a bill for the allotment of waste lands." He said, in the middle of the second Session of the present Parliament, the middle classes, and more especially the working classes, looked to the First Lord of the Treasury for measures which would conduce to their comfort and permanent happiness. It was perfectly true that the measures which the right hon. Baronet had brought forward last Session had conduced to the comforts of the working classes; but this benefit had been short-lived. The working classes had scarcely tasted the cup of sweetness which the right hon. Baronet had granted them than it was dashed from their lips by [an universal reduction of wages throughout the country, far beyond the reductions which had taken place in the price of food; and, instead of the working classes having been in the least benefited or relieved by the measures of the right hon. Baronet, in both the manufacturing and agricultural districts, they were suffering misery, want, and privation unparalleled in the history of England. He asked the right hon. Baronet now whether he had any remedial measures to bring forward for the purpose of raising this oppressed class of people out of their distress. In preparing the measure which he asked leave to introduce into the House he had been advised and assisted by some of the cleverest men of the country; and he was convinced that the measure he was about to propose would restore the working classes of the country in a great degree to their former comforts. The distress which had prevailed in the large manufacturing towns was rapidly extending to the smaller towns and into the agricultural districts. With the permission of the House he would give a slight idea of the state of the population of the town of Bingley. He remembered when it had only contained one mill, now it had ten mills; formerly it had been almost a purely agricultural district, now it was equally agricultural and manufacturing. What had been the evidence of the state of Keighley given before the committee which sat on the Keighley Union? [Sir C. Napier: The Keighley Union again.] He hoped the hon. and gallant Member for Marylebone would not interrupt him by personal remarks addressed across the House. He had been informed by the medical officer of that town, that in cottages of four rooms each as many as twenty-five people were living, sleeping almost altogether in one room in a manner productive of the grossest immorality, whilst typhus fever raged amongst them. In this town this fever annually increased in virulence. He held in his hand a report made to her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Home Department from the Poor-law commissioners on an inquiry into the sanatory condition of the labouring population of Great Britain, which was presented to Parliament by the command of her Majesty in July, 1842:— Mr. Chadwick states that the annual slaughter in England and Wales, from preventable causes of typhus, which attacks persons in the vigour of life, appears to be double the amount of what was suffered by the allied armies in the battle of Waterloo. In Manchester, among the labouring classes, more than 57 out of every 100 die before they attain the age of five years. He states that when the kelp manufacture lately ceased on the western coast of Scotland, a vast population of the lowest class of people were thrown into extreme want; they suffered from cold hunger, and despair; nevertheless, from their scattered habitations being surrounded by pure air, cases of fever did not arise among them. The mortality and immorality of the population now crowded in the manufac- turing districts, were, he could assure the House frightful in the extreme. Was there no remedy to rescue this portion of the population from their misery? Were the functions of Parliament at an end, or were they able to redress the grievances of the people? They were told to look to foreign colonisation for a remedy. Were they to send abroad to die unpitied and unheard-of, the peaceable and loyal subjects of this country, who had a right to exist in the country where they were born? What said Mr. Burn in his letters on home colonisation:— If the 46,000,000 acres now in cultivation are not sufficient to maintain the population, there are millions yet uncultivated that may be increased in value 5,000-fold. It appears, that there are 46,500,000 acres of land in cultivation, and nearly 31,000,000 uncultivated. 16,000,000 were reported by the Emigration Committee to be profitable lands. Nearly the whole of the waste lands in Ireland are reclaimable, 3,000,000 of which, that are equal to 5,000,000 of English acres, can be brought to produce a rental of 1l. per acre, at an outlay not exceeding 10l.per acre. Thus, in the cultivation of the land, Sheffield and Birmingham must send their spades, their pickaxes, and their draining tools; the wheelwright must find ploughs, harrows, and carts; the iron founder must supply the plough-coulters and the axletrees; the saddler must put on the harness; Wolverhampton must supply its chains, Walsall its bits and ornaments; the carpenter must put up the gates with tools from Sheffield, and hang them with the hinges and padlocks of Staffordshire; the hedger and ditcher who encloses the ground, and the ploughman who brings it into cultivation, are clothed by Stroud, Manchester, and Leeds; their hats come from Newcastle-under-Line, their half-boots from either Northampton or Stafford; they take their breakfast out of a basin furnished by the Staffordshire Potteries; Sheffield finds the knife; Birmingham the spoon; the merchant traverses the ocean to bring their coffee and sugar; the engineer finds a coffee-mill, in which the turner furnishes a handle, &c. What he proposed to ask the House to do was to restore the poor again to their comforts, and he proposed to do this by an allotment to them of the waste lands-He asked for an allotment of the waste lands of England to the poor as an act of justice: he asked for it in the name of the law of England—a law acknowledged by the greatest writers on the law and constitution of England for centuries. He also asked for it in furtherance of a principle acknowledged by that House. Bar- rington, in his work on our Ancient Statutes, calculated that not many centuries ago half the lands of England were held upon the degrading tenure of villeinage; and that without being abolished by statute it gradually ceased by force of long usage. If a royal forest were enclosed, the contiguous proprietors urged their claims on the ground that they had depastured upon it, and those claims were allowed. Sir A. Fitzherbert, the celebrated lawyer and judge, and one of the earliest legal authorities, in his book of surveying, thus laid down the law:— Every cottager sal have his portion assigned him, and then' sal not the ryche man overpresse the poore man.

Sir R. Cotton

, a lawyer, who wrote on the subject of enclosing, said:— In the carriage of this business there must be much caution to prevent commotion," (and he recommended), "that plots shall be devised to the inhabitants at and under easy values.

Lord Chancellor Bacon

strenuously urged the enclosure of waste lands, with this condition, So that the poor commoners may have no injury by such enclosures. A report (drawn up by Sir J. Sinclair) of a select committee of the House of Commons appointed for the purpose of considering the subject was in these words— If a general bill were to be passed, every possible attention to the rights of the commoners would necessarily be paid. The poor would then evidently stand a better chance of having their full share undiminished. But was any hon. Member of that House prepared to deny that the public had a right to these waste lands? Why, what meant the Standing Order on the Table of the House?— That in every bill for enclosing lands, provision be made for leaving an open space in the most appropriate situation, sufficient for purposes of exercise and recreation of the neighbouring population; and that the committee on the bill have before them the number of acres proposed to be enclosed, as also of the population in the parishes or places in which the land to be enclosed is situate; and also do see that provision is made for the efficient fencing of the allotment, for the investment of the same in the churchwardens-and overseers of the parish in which such open space is reserved, and for the efficient making and permanent maintenance of the fences by such parish; and that in any case where the information hereby required is not given, and the required provisions are not made in the bill, the committee on the same do report specially to the House the reasons for not complying with such order. The poor man had a right to call on the House to recognise this principle. In many parts of England the poor for centuries had cut turf and peat for their consumption during winter; but he regretted to say in many parts of England, the landed proprietors had taken advantage of the poor ceasing to practise their rights for a certain number of years, and had then prohibited them from doing so for ever. It was said in an old distich— Great is the crime in man or woman To steal a goose from off a common; But surely he's without excuse Who steals the common from the goose. In many parts of the country the working classes, more particularly the poorer portion of them—and he spoke positively with regard to many of the handloom weavers in his own neighbourhood—had been enabled to live comfortably through the enjoyment of these rights, which of late years had thus been taken away from them. If every hon. Member in that House would declare his conscientious conviction after a due consideration of this subject, he would certainly avow himself to be in favour of the allotment system. He knew that some hon. Members, even during the present system, had declared that the system had not worked well where it had been put into practice; but he was prepared to prove quite the reverse, and that the allotment system had conferred the greatest blessings on the people wherever it had been adopted. He was sure that he should convince the House that if the allotment system of waste lands were adopted, it would prove, to a great extent, the salvation of the country; for it must be clear to all, that if something were not done for the working classes, and that speedily, the consequences would be most serious. The Government were sitting on the verge of a volcano at the present moment, which might burst forth with mischievous effect, unless precautionary measures were taken. Thousands were in want and suffering, and had borne their distress and privation with patience and humility, that had been praised by almost every Member of her Majesty's Government; but praise would not fill their empty bellies. Those poor people had waited with earnest anxiety to see what would be done for them in the present Session, which was nearly half over. ["No."] Atallevents, hon. Gentlemen were about to enjoy the Easter festivities; but what had they to say to the people? What had they done? There had been a great deal of talk, but not one practical measure which would give relief to the poor. The working classes laughed at the idea of foreign colonization; they would never sanction it; for it had been tried, and not a ship came home from the colonies which did not bring some disappointed wretches who had suffered more abroad than at home, and would rather die of starvation at home than be transported again to a distant colony. But, he would proceed to state some other important facts. In the parish of Long Newton, in the county of Glocester, the effects of the system were these;— The late Mr. Estcourt stated, that out of 196 persons there were thirty-two families, consisting of 140 persons, in the depth of extreme poverty. The poor-rates amounted to 324l. 13s. 6d., in 1801. The result of the allotment system was an immediate abatement in the misery of the poor; the most gratifying improvement in their character and morals; and a progressive diminution in the poor-rates down to 135l. in 1829 (the last year reported). In Skiptonmoyne, an adjoining parish, the same results were experienced. In the small parish of Ashley, where the same plan was pursued by the hon. Member for Oxford, the same results followed. In the parish of Lyndon, in Rutlandshire, where the cottagers had been allowed these privileges for at least 200 years, an enclosure took place, and an allotment was reserved for the use of the poor, and to be let to the cottagers at moderate rents. The happy results of the system were described in a letter written by the Earl of Winchilsea on the 4th of January, 1796, to Sir John Sinclair, the President of the Board of Agriculture. Lord Winchilsea in that letter said, he had made inquiries into the effect of giving small allotments of land, and that he was more and more convinced that nothing could be of greater benefit to the labourers and the landowners. The working people were enabled to better their condition, and to make their homes comfortable, and to keep a cow or a pig, and thus they became better able to do their work, were more contented in their station, and acquired a sort of independence and self-respect which prevented them from becoming burdensome to others. The effect was beneficially felt upon the poor-rates. Lord Winchilsea also wished, that Parliament would never make an enclosure without setting aside a portion of land for the use of the poor; and he mentioned the case of one family which enjoyed the privilege during 200 years, and never did one of them receive relief from the parish. He thought that letter was sufficient to show the advantages of the system he was now advocating, proving, as the letter did, that for 200 years it had worked beneficially to the lower orders. But he held in his hand the report of a gentleman whose opinion he supposed would have great influence with the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department. It was that of Mr. Power, respecting the county of Cambridge, as stated in the Poor-law Commissioners' report for 1834, page 103:— Allotment of small portions of land to labourers for the purpose of employing their leisure hours, giving them a feeling of dependence on their own exertions, and bettering their condition by increased sustenance and comforts, is beginning, much to the credit of the landowners, to be very generally adopted in this country. Of the excellent effects of this practice I am provided with testimony from many quarters. At Wells, fifty acres ate now granted by the bishop of Bath and Wells to 303 persons, in quantities varying from one-twelfth to half an acre, at a rent of 12s. 6d. the quarter of an acre. Of these persons not above ten are unmarried, and many are widows. The average of each family being taken at five, upwards of 1,000 persons are thus benefitted. No stipulation is made against the receipt of parochial relief, but the result has been to the same effect, as only three of the number receive parochial relief, two of whom are infirm persons who would otherwise be in the workhouse, and the third also infirm, belongs to Bristol. Twenty-nine names were pointed out of persons who formerly had received relief, but had discontinued it since they had got land. Many Dissenters have allotments. The following is an account, on an average of six years, of the profits of a quarter of an acre:—

£ s. d.
Rent for a quarter of an acre 0 12 6
Digging 0 8 0
Manure 0 10 0
Seed 0 3 0
Planting 0 4 0
Hoeing, &c 0 8 0
Digging and hawling 0 10 0
Supposing the man to hire and pay for everything £2 15 6
Twenty sacks of potatoes 4 10 0
Other vegetables 1 0 0
£5 10 0
Less labour, &c, as above 2 15 6
Clear profit, supposing the man to hire and pay for everything £2 14 6
If all done by the man 4 4 6
The opinion expressed by the agent was, that the man who works for a farmer for twelve hours, from six to six, with the help of his wife and family, can manage half an acre, supposing it half potatoes, keep a pig, and support his family, and that a mechanic can do more. The continued increase in the demand for allotments is the best proof of the advantage derived from them. There is a general improvement in the character of the occupiers, who are represented as becoming more industrious and diligent, and as never frequenting those pests, the beer-houses. Frequently they have been known to work by candle-light. Not a single instance has occurred in which any one thus holding land has been taken before a magistrate for any complaint. Was not that an instance worthy of the consideration of the House? Was it not one over which they would rejoice, at a time when the working classes were so much distressed, which fact not one of any party denied, and when there was so much difficulty in keeping the peace of the country, and to prevent the scenes of last year being re-enacted? He knew that any such disturbances could and would be put down by the strong arm of the law; but would it not be more gratifying to be able to say that they had done justice to the poor, by restoring to them their rights, and placing them beyond the reach of temptation and want, and making them) once more happy, and contented, and peaceable subjects. But he found, that Mr. Power gave a similar account of the working of the system at West Looe:— The effect upon the poor-rate has been a diminution from 10s. in the pound to 3s., but the moral effect upon the poor is beyond calculation, the population being principally seafaring men, who in bad weather had no occupation, and who idled about a dead weight upon the poor-rate; but who have now occupation, and are happy, contented, and laborious. I went over the land and found it in excellent condition. No doubt, many hon. Members bad heard of the parish of Tring, where this allotment system was first carried into effect a few years ago, when the whole parish had become insolvent, the poor-rates had broken down under the demands upon them, and rates in aid were received from neighbouring parishes, and things were still growing worse and worse. A society in London took the matter up. A quantity of land was bought at Cholesbury, and the rector of the parish, who had acted in a most praiseworthy manner, had in a letter dated November 3, 1842, thus reported the result to the Labourers' Friend Society:— 1. The land is still divided into allotments, varying in size from two to five, and in one instance twelve acres.—2. The land is still occupied by the original tenants, with few exceptions.—3. The population of the parish has slightly decreased.—4. The estate has passed into private hands. (About 150 acres.)—5. The tenants are maintaining themselves, and their families exclusively by their allotments, and by the casual employment they obtain elsewhere.—6. The tenants pay their rent punctually—namely, 22s. per acre (inclusive of tithes). This is the full average rent of land in the neighbourhood.—7. With respect to the question, 'What was the rent of the land per acre previous to the Agricultural Employment Institution purchasing it?'—You probably have forgotten that, with the exception of about sixteen acres, the whole of the land in the parish at that period was abandoned on account of the excessive rates upon it. The last tenant of the estate, before it passed into the hands of the institution was R. D. The result of his agreement with his landlady is curious, and shows how valueless land in the parish then was. He rented thirty-five acres for 23l., and stipulated to pay all rates up to a certain amount, whilst all above, it was agreed, were to be deducted from the rent. When settling-day came, the balance was against the land-lady; her share of the rates having absorbed the whole of the rent, and extracting from her pocket some few shillings besides. The tenant had paid rates to the amount of 46l. 7s. The contrast with the state of the parish then, with what it is now, is so remarkable that I cannot refrain from laying it before you, resulting, as it does, entirely from the allotment system. In 1832, just before the Agricultural Employment Institution took the parish in hand, it was almost exclusively a parish of paupers; since that period, it has not had an able-bodied pauper belonging to it. In 1832, the land was worse than valueless, for it was a source of loss and anxiety to the proprietors; it is now largely bought up when offered for sale, and equals, if it does not exceed, in value, adjacent land in the surrounding parishes. In 1832, the poor consumed the profits of all the land in the parish; they now maintain themselves and their families, most comfortably on only a portion of that land. In 1832, the weekly expenditure of the poor, at this period of the year, averaged 5l.; it now scarcely exceeds as many shillings, if the maintenance of a lunatic in an asylum be excepted. In 1832, the poor were supported by rates in and levied on other parishes; they are now themselves contributors to the rates, to the amount of above one-eighth of the whole parochial expenditure. Lastly, for these eight years, no person resident in the parish has been convicted of any offence against the laws of the country. To this contrast of the past and present state of the parish, I beg to add another of the past and present condition of one of the allotment men. I select purposely the most remarkable case, the more fully to show what the capabilities of the allotment system are to better the condition of the agricultural poor. In 1832, G. S. was almost the only labouring man belonging to the parish who was not a pauper. He was, however, all but reduced to the state of one, whilst as to the actual amount of privation, he was a greater sufferer than most of those receiving parochial relief. Having a wife and four children dependent upon him, the institution allotted him four acres. He is now the occupier of eighteen acres; he is the owner of a cow, a pig, three horses and a colt, a waggon, two carts, a plough, harrows, &c. He ploughs the land for the other tenants, and is paid either in kind or money, as best suits the parties. He finds at all times profitable employment for his team in taking up hay and straw to the London markets, and bringing back soot and other manures for the neighbouring farmers. This last spring be purchased 20l. worth of wood, and turned it to good account by carting it to the neighbouring towns, and disposing of it there. Of the married men who received allotments only one, an old marine, had not sufficient energy to make his land answer; he has since left the parish. The reasons he assigned for his want of success were, that 'he possessed the worst land and the worst wife of any man in the parish.' The same reverend gentleman had addressed a letter to him that morning, in which he confirmed all that he had stated in that passage just read, but the rev. gentleman added some words to which he wished to call the attention of the right hon. the Home Secretary:— I have at this time the charge of an adjoining parish, the population of which exceeds 600, three-fourths of whom are paupers. The parish has for years ingloriously earned the epithet of 'Wicked Wigginton.' The poor-rates are rapidly on the increase. There is a large unenclosed common in the parish of about 200 acres. I would guarantee, that in three years, if I were put into possession of this common, with the means of bringing it into cultivation, and of allotting it to the poor, there should not be half-a-dozen able-bodied paupers in the parish.' This may appear to be a presumptuous boast; but after what I have witnessed in Cholesbury, I feel that I am speaking guardedly in making the assertion. I cannot conclude without informing you that the conduct of the men generally, since they have held their allotments, has been such as to give me very great satisfaction. They are very punctual in their attendance at church, and we have been obliged to build a gallery in it for the accommodation of their children. All the allotment men, with their wives, and every child old enough to attend the Sunday school, are members of a clothing and fuel club; and as much as from 30l. to 40l. has annually been intrusted to my care, the fruits of their weekly savings. Now, was it not the duty of the Government to take this subject into their most serious consideration? Here was an example of the beneficial effects of the system; in the course of eight years a community of persons was restored to industry, comfort, and morality, and from being distressed and discontented, made loyal and peaceful subjects, not one of them during that period ever having infringed the laws of their country. That was the character given to them by their pastor, who declared, that although there were in "Wicked Wigginton" 600 paupers, if he could have the 200 or 300 acres of waste land, he would soon reduce the pauperism, and raise that wretched place to the same happy state as Tring. There was another point to which he begged the attention of the House—the state of the cottages of the poor, which, in fact, did not deserve the name of cottages. They were wretched hovels, in which fevers were generated, and where that scourge of the human race —the cholera—which snatched away in an instant the highest as well as the lowest, played alarming havoc. Medical men had declared, that it was as much the interest as the duty of the rich to remove from the poor the causes of those diseases, which were increasing in malignancy every year. Mr. Higgins, chairman of the Bedford Union, had thus described the advantages which had arisen from an improved description of cottages in his vicinity, in his report to the Poor-law commissioners:— "The man sees his wife and family more comfortable than formerly. He has a better cottage and garden. He is stimulated to industry, and as he rises in respectability of station, he becomes aware that he has a character to lose. Thus an important point is gained. Having acquired certain ad- vantages, he is anxious to retain and improve them; he strives more to preserve his independence, and becomes a member of benefit, medical, and clothing societies: and frequently besides this, lays up a certain sum, quarterly or half-yearly, in the savings-bank. Almost always attendant upon these advantages, we find the man sending his children to be regularly instructed on a Sunday, and where possible in a day-school, and himself and family more constant in their attendance at some place of worship on the Lord's-day. A man who comes home to a poor, comfortless hovel after his day's labour, and sees all miserable around him, has his spirits more often depressed than excited by it. He feels that, to do his best he shall be miserable still, and is too apt to fly for a temporary refuge to the alehouse or beer shop; but give him the means of making himself comfortable by his own industry, and I am convinced, by experience, that in many cases he will avail himself of it. But it was not only the poor who would be benefited by such an arrangement as he proposed; the freeholders, he felt convinced, would speedily find all the advantages resulting from it. Why, let them take the case of flax. Between 25,000,000l. and 30,000,000l. a year was paid to foreigners for flax, oil-cake, linseed, &c. Societies, however, were now rapidly forming both in England and in Ireland for the prosecution of the flax cultivation. There was one of those societies at North Walsham, in Norfolk, and another at Belfast. The latter had succeeded beyond their most sanguine expectations. Mr. S. R. Mulholland, at the society's meeting in Belfast in November last, stated that the firm with which he was connected had sent no less than 40,000l. of ready cash annually out of the country for the purchase of flax, but that in the present year they had not spent as many pence, and he called upon the meeting "to take advantage of what God and nature had done for our soil." He had also been told, that— Mr. Beard, of Killalea, lately sold a parcel of flax in which there were three different qualities; the highest reached 140l., the second, 133l., and the third, 126l. per ton; and few finer samples had ever been imported into this country. But he had still better evidence. There was no Member in the House who was not acquainted with the name and reputation of the firm of Messrs. Marshall, at Leeds, indubitably the largest flax purchasers in the kingdom. What did they say of our capabilities of producing flax? In a letter which he held in his hand they wrote as follows:— As we import a considerable quantity of flax yearly from Belgium and Holland for our establishments here, we are, of course, much interested in the success of any plan for increasing the quantity grown in England. We believe both the soil and climate are suitable for the plant. At one time the flax grown in the east of Yorkshire was of as good a quality as that grown in Belgium. But he would now proceed to state how he proposed to allot the waste lands. According to his calculation, there were in the three kingdoms no less than 75,000,000 of cultivatable acres of land in a state of waste. There were also about 46,000,000 of those lands in cultivation, and 30,000,000 uncultivated. Now, he should propose, that the land at present un appropriated, should be allotted to those who had a claim upon the different parishes. Where the lands were already allotted, he did not intend that his measure should apply. He should propose, that out of every hundred acres in every parish one-twentieth, or five acres out of every hundred, should be allotted to the use of the poor. He considered, that to give them that quantity was not to give them too much, whilst it would be a downright robbery to give them Jess. He should propose, that this land should be for ever reserved to the use of the poor, and that, with that object, it should be held by trustees for their benefit, the said trustees being the rector of the parish, the lord of the manor, the churchwardens, and the overseers. By this arrangement, he should, he thought, prevent the slightest chance of jobbing: but, in order to preclude all suspicion of it, he should also propose to enact, that the trustees should be bound to make an annual report to the magistrates. He should also propose, that five acres of these lands should in every parish be laid out as a drying ground. [A laugh.] Hon. Members might laugh, for they probably did not know the miseries of wet and tattered clothing; but he could tell them, that medical men were almost unanimous in declaring their opinion, that nothing was more detrimental to the health of the poor, than their habit of drying their clothes in their own confined dwellings. In his own part of the country, it was not uncommon for a poor man to carry his wet linen three-quarters of a mile, or even a mile, to a hedge, and having hung it out, to remain for the purpose of watching it until it was dried. Another proposal he should make, would be to allot a portion—say five acres of land—for the purposes of recreation. By this arrangement he hoped our old national and healthful sports might be revived, to the benefit, as well as the enjoyment, of the inhabitants of every vicinity. The remainder of the land he should propose to allot to the use of the poor, to be divided into lots of such size and extent as shall be deemed most useful, no man being apportioned less than a quarter of a rood. The expenses attending this allotment he should propose to be paid out of the poor-rates, but the extent of the enclosures, and consequently the outlay, in any one year, he should propose to leave for the decision of the ratepayers in public vestry assembled, and convened by public notice. He should also propose that the trustees should have the power of exchanging allotments of equal or greater value previous to their having been broken up, also of purchasing waste lands, with the consent of the rate-payers, if the extent of the original allotments to the poor should hereafter be found inadequate. With the same sanction he should also propose that the trustees might expend out of the poor-rates a sum of money not exceeding, he should say, 3d. in the pound, in anyone year, in the erection of cottages on the allotments. They should also have the power of leasing all allotments for any term not exceeding twenty-one years, the rent of the cottages to be at the fair annual rate of cottage rents within the parish. The waste lands he should propose to be let rent free for the first year, at half the value for the second year, and at a fair annual value for the third and every succeeding year. With respect to the products, he should propose, that first of all, the rents should go to remunerate the parishes for the expense of building cottages, and enclosing allotments, and that after that, the surplus should be annually paid into the poor's-rate fund—an arrangement under which he felt quite confident that in a very few years not only the poor-rates, but the county and all parochial rates, would be paid off. With respect to priority of claim, he should propose that the poor who had obtained a settlement in the parish by birth, or otherwise should have the first claim on the land originally allotted, as well as on that afterwards purchased; and with regard to these purchases, he should propose that the trustees with the consent of the rate-payers might, if they saw fit, purchase waste lands pre- viously allotted, and erect cottages thereon upon the same terms, and in the same manner as in the parishes where no allotment had taken place. The other provision of his measure would be of comparatively minor importance. With regard, however, to the difficult question of boundary, he should propose to adjust it in this manner: that owners of allotments should not be compelled to enclose them, but that any owner desiring to enclose his own might call upon the adjoining owner to erect his boundary fence, and if he refused might build it himself, and compel payment before justices of the peace. With respect to the machinery for putting the bill into operation, he should propose that for the first three years the tithe commissioners should be employed in making the allotments—their expenses during that time to be defrayed by the Government. For the second three he should propose, that their charges should be paid half by the Government and half by the owners, the portions of the expense attached to the poor's allotments to be defrayed from the poor-rate. After the completion of these six years, the expense should fall solely upon the owners. This was his scheme, and he felt convinced, that if adopted, it would give a stimulus to the people which at present they sadly and woefully required. The following case occurred in his own parish:—A man of the age of 80, applied to the board of guardians for relief. In answer to his application, the board of guardians said, "You have a son who has a cottage in Herefordshire. He must sell that, and with she proceeds of the sale he must relieve you." The son came to him. He said, that he had built the cottage out of his hard-earned savings, and before he would comply with the advice of the board of guardians and sell his cottage, he would become an alien from the country. He begged the House to listen to his appeal in behalf of the poor man. Give the poor a small allotment of land and a spade to cultivate it, and it would have the effect of diminishing the number of instates in the union workhouses. The poor man then would not be deprived of the privilege of attending at his usual place of worship. Give the poor, before they were weighed down to the dust, what they had a right to demand. He maintained it was the right of the poor—a right of which they had for centuries been plundered.

Colonel Wyndham

, while he feared that the working of the measure would be found impracticable, would yet counsel the Government to allow the bill to be brought in. There were great quantities of land, however, which he should like to see inclosed. There were great tracts of land in Hampshire and Surrey which he should be delighted to see cultivated by the people of the parishes in which they lay, but he had no idea of strangers coming from every part of the world to settle upon it. Between the Epsom-road and the Portsmouth-road was a tract of fine land, which was left quite uncultivated because of a quarrel between the lords of the manors. Now, he wanted to see all England cultivated. Let the hon. Gentleman bring in his bill; but did the House suppose that at this moment, when the greatest depression prevailed among the agriculturists, that bad lands would remain long in cultivation? No; they would all be thrown out of cultivation. He thought that their first care should be to keep in cultivation the land already in that condition. For this purpose let them support their agriculture—let them not be afraid of those gentlemen there [pointing to the Opposition]. He would stand by the Government as long as they stood by agriculture, and when they threw agriculture overboard he would throw them overboard. He had lately been honoured by a letter from a working-man in the manufacturing districts. The letter was dated from Cheetham. Now he did not exactly know the geographical position of Cheetham, but as he believed that it was not for from Manchester, he was sure that the hon. Member for that town very well knew the way to Cheetham. He would really recommend the Anti-Corn-law League to take for their motto, "The way to Cheetham." Well, but with respect to the letter, the writer said— I wish you would favour the country with some more of your speeches in the House of Commons, as home truths are not often spoken in that assembly. And let the hon. Member for Stroud mark this— The people here," continued the writer, ''want work, not recreation; they have had too much of that already.

Lord Worsley

thought, that the hon. Gentleman opposite had brought forward his bill with the best intentions, but he feared that the plan would not be found practicable. He feared that this would be the case, because he gathered from what the hon. Gentleman had stated, that the land proposed to be allotted was of such a description that those who were to occupy it would be losers by attempting to bring it into cultivation. The greater part of the waste lands existing consisted of such bad soil that it would not pay the expense of tillage. And in that fact might be found the reason why these lands remained still unenclosed and unimproved. A proposition, however, to the effect that guardians and overseers should be enabled to hire good land for the purpose of letting it out to the poor would be worth the consideration of the House. Such a plan might be of use, if the allotments were made of a proper size. The allotments proposed by the hon. Gentleman would make small farms rather than gardens He should not, therefore, be disposed to have them of such extent. The hon. Member had spoken of a man who kept upon his allotment three horses, a cow, and a pig; but surely a person in such circumstances could hardly be classed as one of the working classes. In the country parish in which he was particularly interested there were a great number of what were called cow clubs. The members paid Is. a month, and when a cow belonging to one of them died, the club contributed the greater proportion of the price of another. There was hardly any exception in North Lincolnshire to the rule that all the cottagers possessed gardens and kept one or two pigs. The plan of the hon. Gentleman of making them cultivators upon a larger scale was, however, he thought hardly feasible. He would ask the hon. Gentleman how a man could work upon a farm of his own after having been working for a farmer all day, and how it was possible for him to carry manure to his land. He himself had given notice that he intended to bring in a bill for the enclosure of waste lands; but a plan such as that of the hon. Member opposite he did not anticipate would succeed, and unless the bill should be materially altered, he should be precluded from giving it his support.

Sir J. Graham

The hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex, had recommended that the Government should allow the bill now proposed to be brought in, and he (Sir J. Graham) would follow his advice. Indeed, he should be very unwilling that the hon. Member for Knaresborough, who had bestowed so much thought and consideration upon the subject, should be subjected to such an offensive course of proceeding as would be the refusal of the Government to allow the bringing in of the bill. The hon. Member had not only stated to the House that he himself had bestowed much attention upon the preparation of his measure, but that the measure was the result of consideration given to the subject by most able and intelligent men, whose opinions were entitled to great weight, and he had also stated that he was quite satisfied, that if the House would consent to legislate in the way in which he proposed, they would add much to the happiness and comfort of the labouring portion of the community. A measure introduced with such assurances, and embracing so important a subject, ought, it appeared to him, to command the attention of the House. A motion somewhat similar had been made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud, but in an objectionable shape. To the present motion, that objection in point of form did not, however, attach. The hon. Gentleman had truly said, that he (Sir James Graham) had expressed apprehensions that any legislative measure would be found inadequate to relieve, in a direct manner, the wants which pressed heavily upon a very large portion of the working classes. He said so with regret; but he thought that it was highly inexpedient to bold out delusive hopes to the people—hopes only tending to disappointment, and he would guard himself against being held to be a party to any encouragement of sanguine expectations which the speech of the bon. Gentleman might tend to excite. They must bear in mind, that in our present advanced and complicated state of society, with a dense population crowded within the limits of two islands, it was hardly possible but that all land capable of being profitably tilled was already enclosed, and under cultivation. If the land which the hon. Member wished to enclose and cultivate was not of such a quality as to yield a profit to the cultivator, then the scheme was, after all, one of charity—charity at the expense of the State. If the State was to contribute, and if the poor-rates were to pay the burthen, it was only a system for maintaining the poor out of the rates, in another and a new form. The hon. Gentleman had touched on the question of colonization; but he (Sir J Graham) thought it would be highly inexpedient were he to enter upon that subject on the present occasion, or {he general subject of the administration of the poor-laws, which the hon. Member had also alluded to. He would also abstain from entering into the subject of the Corn-laws; but in peculiarly addressing himself to the matter of the hon. Gentleman's motion, he must be allowed to observe that the hon. Gentleman based his plan upon an assumption which he (Sir J. Graham) conceived to be directly the opposite to fact. The hon. Member had assumed, that where population was most dense, and where want of employment was the most felt—in consequence of the great competition between the workmen—a great extent of waste lands generally existed. The hon. Member had quoted instances of parishes in Yorkshire in which this was the case, but, without disputing the accuracy of these particular cases, he would remark that, in general, the largest tracts of unclosed lands existed in districts where the population was comparatively thin. It was true, that waste lands existed to a considerable extent not far from the metropolis, but he thought that it was also true, that these tracts were distinguished for their utter sterility and incapacity for cultivation. Generally speaking, then, where large masses of population existed, no waste lands to any extent, capable of cultivation with profit, remained unenclosed. He did not know, from the plan of the hon. Gentleman, how the poor were to be conveyed from crowded localities to these waste lands; but even suppose that difficulty to be surmounted, what habitations were to be found for them? He knew not how the hon. Gentleman proposed to provide habitations for those who were to cultivate the allotments; his cost of the erection of such habitations alone would require a large outlay of capital. Practically, there fore, there appeared the greatest difficulties, not to say impossibilities, in the way of the working of the plan. Could the system be carried out, it would probably assume the aspect of the cottier system in Ireland. He entertained the greatest doubt of the practicability of this meaure; he feared that it would not answer the benevolent purpose which the hon. Member had in view; but yet he was willing to yield to the advice of the hon. Member for Sussex, and should offer no impediment to the introduction of the bill.

Lord J. Manners

was anxious that the utmost facility which the House could afford should be given to the introduction of this bill. When he reflected on the state of the country, when he considered that men of all parties bore testimony to the want of employment, not only in the manufacturing, but in the agricultural districts, and when he saw before the country but three plans that could in any way better the condition of the people, he was sure that every encouragement should be given to such plans as that now submitted. The first of the schemes to which he had just alluded was a gigantic system of emigration, against which, as a means, he was the last person to say anything; but against which, as a first principle, he should protest, except it was voluntary. And not only this, but to be worth anything, it must be an emigration to countries where the emigrants should not be liable to the miserable vicissitudes to which they now often found themselves exposed, and where, if they should not have all the comforts, they should at least have the necessaries which they enjoyed in this country. The next proposition was a total evolution in our fiscal arrangements. He was not prepared to say, whether a great revolution of that kind would be attended with the consequences which its advocates expected; but even if it were demonstrably certain that a total and immediate repeal of all restrictions would be the means of employing a hundred thousand additional hands, he could not willingly assent to such a change. He did not, of course, wish to throw any impediment in the way of a gradual increase of our manufacturing power, but he must hesitate if he were asked, whether there was no other plan than a total change which could conduce to the happiness and contentment of the whole community. He could not shut his eyes to the fact, that there was an increasing conviction that some such proposal as that of the hon. Member for Knaresborough would have a beneficial effect. And when the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department expressed his doubt whether any waste land could be cultivated at a profit in England, he should refer him to a fact of which he was himself cognizant. Some noblemen took 270 acres of the worst land on the Charlwood Moor, and in two or three years, seventy acres only having been brought under cultivation, the produce paid the expense of the establishment. When he saw such effects of skill and capital, he hoped (it might be a dream) to see the country able to produce food sufficient for the support of its people. He was sure that the time had arrived when mere party politics had no longer a hold on the feelings of the people. The clamour that had been raised for a new Reform Bill, and all that sort of thing, had waned and faded away before the distress which hung over the country. He believed that the Ministry, by taking into their consideration such a plan as that proposed, and, if possible, acceding to it, would lay a more solid foundation for fame than if they dealt with abstract theories and fine spun ideas; and not only for their own fame, but for the stability of the monarchy and of our institutions.

Mr. Hume

fully agreed with the observations of the right hon. Baronet. He had seen a good deal in his time of home colonization, and watched plans propounded by humane, honest, and zealous men with that view, but they all failed, though their projectors could not be convinced of their failure. The noble Lord (Lord Manners) had asked triumphantly whether our resources in waste lands could not be employed as the portion of Charlwood Moor alluded to had been. But he ventured to say, if the noble Lord stated the capital which was expended in making this change, it would purchase a freehold property of the same amount. When the high price of land was considered, it was impossible to suppose that for the last twenty years much that might yield profit in return was left uncultivated. Then arose the question, was it expedient to cultivate in the manner proposed on charity? Individuals might be found benevolent enough to give money for such a purpose, but he greatly doubted whether parishes would submit to assessment for such a purpose. He thought a simpler plan than either home colonization or emigration would be to admit the corn of other lands. Our people should be put on the same footing with those of other countries. England was the largest market, and it onght to be the cheapest; and if a million acres were brought into cultivation elsewhere to supply us, it was the same thing as if so much was added to our territory. We must pay for this produce by our manufactures, and this must necessarily increase the employment of the people. He had no objection to have the bill brought in, for he was sure no machinery could make it effective.

Sir J. Hanmer

There was no doubt that, amongst the middle and upper classes, the dictum of his noble Friend (Lord Manners) was correct, and that those who belonged to these sections of society had a distaste for party politics, but he greatly feared that amongst the lower orders, and those who subsisted on their labour, such a feeling was by no means prevalent. He believed there was amongst them a feeling of discontent which was growing daily. He believed the only remedy for this state of things was practical measures, which ought to be undertaken by a responsible Government; and if the condition of the people was not made better, he asked any man of the least reflection who considered what had taken place in our own time, and the time before it, and who was capable of inferring what might be the consequence, whether it was altogether certain that any confidential understanding of Lord Grey's Cabinet) which was now dissolved, and the Members of which were scattered on either side) could stop the demand for some further organic change? He thought the present proposal was entitled to be numbered in the category of practical measures; for he had the testimony of Mr. M'Gregor that such establishments had flourished in Holland, and that it was not unlikely they would succeed here. Though this was a step in a right direction, he still thought that it would be very ineffectual in relieving the wants of the community, compared to the adoption of the principle of cutting away the ligatures which tied down our trade and commerce. That principle was so strong, that it would ultimately sweep away all impediments. He was told that low profits were a sign of vigour, inasmuch as capital was expended over a larger field; but it must be borne in mind, that every improvement in our manufactures pushed a number out of employment. It was said, "Stop machinery." They might as well attempt to stop the satellites of Jupiter. But the serious question was, what could be done with these poor people? He did not want to deal with any topic by way of popular excitement; but he did think that freedom of trade would be the best means of ensuring employment. He thought it was the duty of the Government to support this measure, or some measure of an analogous character. There might be some of the details of the hon. Member's bill, to which he could not give his sanction, but he approved of its principle, and, therefore, would vote for its introduction. He entreated the House to allow the bill to he brought in. The people looked anxiously, and sometimes sorrowfully at what took place in that House, and it was unfortunate that they had cause to regret that hon. Members did not more frequently stand up in their places and express their sympathy for the sufferings and privations they endured.

Mr. Brotherton

believed that the abolition of the Corn-laws would be more beneficial to the people than any measure such as that now proposed. He had received communications from poor persons in many districts, expressing their apprehension that the hon. Member's bill, though introduced professedly for the benefit of the poor, was intended covertly to advance the interests of the rich. Nevertheless, he would not oppose the introduction of the measure, but would wait to see whether the machinery of the bill was calculated to carry out the object which the hon. Member had in view.

Lord Pollington

said, that although the hon. Member for Salford seemed to think that the proposed measure was intended for the advantage of the rich, he was satisfied that it would be for the benefit of the poor, and on that ground he would support it.

Mr. Aglionby

remarked, that whilst the hon. Member for Knaresborough told the House that those who opposed the bill would be considered the enemies of the people, the hon. Member for Salford had stated sufficient to show that those who supported it would run the risk of being thought the favourers of the rich. For his own part, he had his misgivings with respect to the measure, and thought it was one which ought to be watched with great jealousy. He would not object to the introduction of the bill, because he was anxious that every proposition which was brought forward with the view of alleviating the sufferings of the people should receive calm and impartial consideration. At the same time, he entirely concurred in the observation of the right hon. baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, that the House should be cautious not to take any course calculated to excite hopes and expectations which it might be found impossible to realise. There was one measure which would, he thought, exercise a most beneficial influence upon the population of this country, namely, a system of voluntary emigration upon a large scale, under the supervision of the Government.

Mr. S. Crawford

thought the repeal of the Corn-laws would not, alone, be a panacea for the distresses of the people. It was necessary to diminish the mass of the population depending for subsistence upon the hire of their labour, and the only way to do that was to place them upon the land. He anticipated much good from the hon. Member's bill.

Leave given to bring in the bill.