HC Deb 25 July 1844 vol 76 cc1411-29

The House resumed the further consideration of the Report on the Poor Law Amendment Bill.

Sir C. Napier

proposed the following Clauses:— And be it enacted that it shall be lawful for the Guardians of the Poor to give a higher rate of out-door relief than that now given, at their discretion, to aged people above sixty years of age, who have paid their poor-rates. And be it enacted that in the event of a married couple or a single man or woman possessing a cottage under the value of 5l. annual value, and having paid their poor-rates, and being no longer able to work, they be eligible for out-door relief at the discretion of the Guardians. The hon. and Gallant Officer said, that in submitting these Clauses he was anxious to encourage industry and thrifty habits amongst the poor, for the consciousness that they would hereafter be paid an increased amount of an allowance for having paid their poor-rates for a certain time would stimulate them to those exertions which, if they did not keep them from the necessity of seeking parochial relief, would, at least, better their condition when they became chargeable to the parish. Surely, it would be worse than cruelty to turn away the destitute owners of a cottage and say to them, "You must first go and sell your cottage, and when you have parted with it we will relieve you." To prevent any such power being vested in the Board of Guardians was the object of the second Clause, but he had no objection to its being modelled in any manner which the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary might think proper. All he cared for was the admission of its principle. He should like to see the very name of "workhouse" abolished, and this, he thought, would greatly tend to that result.

First of the two Clauses brought up and read a first time.

On the question that it be read a second time,

Sir J. Graham

was disposed to pay the greatest attention to every suggestion of the hon. and gallant Officer, to whom it was in the highest degree creditable to be thus engaged in endeavouring to promote the welfare of his country in time of peace when the exercise of the bravery and skill which had so distinguished him in time of war was no longer required. The hon. and gallant Officer must excuse him for expressing his belief that the object he had in view would not be gained by the adoption of the Clauses which he proposed. With respect to the first Clause, he must say that it would be superfluous legislation, as the Guardians already possessed the discretionary power referred to in the first part of it. They were already empowered to relieve such parties as the Clause referred to to the extent which the peculiar circumstances might call for; and that power being already the law of the land, it was not necessary to enact it. With regard to that portion of the first Clause which empowered Guardians to give a somewhat higher allowance to those paupers who had at one time regularly paid the poor-rate, he must say that the recognition of such a principle would lead to results which he was sure the hon. and gallant Officer did not intend, for a sort of premium of this kind for the payment of the poor-rates would involve a penalty on those who had not paid them. The recognition of the principle would of course lead to inquiries as to the regularity of payment of rates, and that would tend to a career of injustice, the consequence of which would fall on those whom it was the object of the Bill to relieve. In framing the second part of the first Clause, the hon. and gallant Officer seemed to forget that many parties who paid their poor-rates were almost as closely on the verge of poverty as they who received parochial relief, and the distinction between the amount of relief to be given to each would be unfair, as being founded on a very erroneous test in very many cases. On these grounds he must oppose the first Clause. With respect to the second Clause (continued the right hon. Baronet), I have on more than one occasion in this Session adverted to the principle on which it is founded. That principle is, that the Guardians have power to say to destitute applicants for parochial relief, "You have a small cottage and a few chairs and a table, and a few other articles of furniture,—go and dispose of them in the first instance before we can assist you" — that is not the law. [Sir C. Napier: I am glad to hear it.] The law is—that the destitution of the applicant for relief is the test to be applied in each case, and where that is proved the Guardians are bound to give relief without reference to the fact that the applicant is possessed of a small cottage or not. Even this test of destitution may be applied to able-bodied paupers, and relief be given to them, each case being decided with reference to its own peculiar circumstances. But I repeat it, that relief cannot be refused by the Guardians on the ground that the party seeking it is the owner of a small cottage if in any other respect he be destitute.

Mr. Spooner

expressed his readiness to divide in favour of the hon. and gallant Officer's second Clause. He had himself been an eye-witness to cases in which the test of the possession of a cottage had been made a ground for refusing relief. This was not done in any underhand or evasive manner. It was the bold assertion of a principle, believed to be recognized by the Legislature, and carried out by the Board of Guardians. The applicants were plainly and simply informed, "We have no power to relieve you—you are the owner of a cottage and some furniture; first sell your cottage and spend the money in your support, and then, if you should continue in want, we will relieve you, but the law will not allow us to relieve you while you possess this properly;" and there was no doubt that the construction thus put upon the Act was an honest one, though now, after the statement of the right hon. Baronet should have gone forth to the country, the Act would be differently interpreted, Pains ought to be taken by the Government to inform the Boards of Guardians, and other parties having to do with the relief of the poor, what was the real state of the law on the subject of relief, for most assuredly vast numbers had put on that part of the law, the construction now for the first time repudiated by the right hon. Baronet.

Lord Ashley

said, that the Poor Law never had been, and probably never would be administered in the humane spirit with which the right hon. Baronet had referred to it. He (Lord Ashley) had come down to the House that morning to vote for the Clauses of his hon. and gallant Friend, but, after the statement of the right hon. Baronet, from which it appeared that what his hon. and gallant Friend proposed was already the law of the land, he would recommend him not to press his Resolutions to a division.

Sir C. Napier

said, that if the interpretation put upon the law by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary was correct—and there could, he presumed, be no doubt on the subject—the whole principle on which the law had hitherto been administered was changed. So that, in effect, it would be equivalent to a change in the law itself. Under these circumstances he would withdraw his first Clause, but would divide on the second.

Mr. B. Denison

hoped that the hon. and gallant Officer would not press his second Clause, which, if inserted in the Bill would lead to bad consequences. A man might claim relief, and say he had a cottage for which he paid less than 5l. a-year, and yet that cottage might perhaps be worth 150l.

Mr. Newdegate

begged to tender his thanks to the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary for his explanation as to the interpretation of the Clause authorizing immediate relief to the destitute. The misinformation which existed as to the correct state of the law pressed very heavily in its consequences on large classes of the poor, and on none of them with greater severity than on the handloom weavers; for such was the general impression as to the conditions on which alone parochial relief could be obtained, that many of them parted with their little stock of furniture, their beds, and finally their looms, in order to qualify themselves for obtaining that relief. That misconstruction of the Act was now, he was glad to find, at an end, by the explanation of the right hon. Baronet, and he hoped that statement would go forth to the country. It could not obtain too great a publicity.

Sir J. Graham

hoped he might not be misunderstood as to the point of relief in cases of destitution. When he said that the Boards of Guardians would not be justified in withholding relief from the destitute applicants on the ground that they were in possession of a cottage, he was not of course to be understood to mean that if a party came permanently on the parish for relief, and remained in possession of a cottage from which he derived 5l. ayear, the Guardians would not have a right to inquire under what circumstances he held it, and whether its produce might not be made available for his relief. But that was a totally different case from that of an applicant for relief in sudden destitution. In such case, whether the destitution was brought on by illness, or inability to work, or by having to attend and support a family in illness, the Guardians were bound to administer immediate relief, according to the exigency of the case. It would not be in that case any fair answer on the part of the Guardians to say, that the applicant was the owner of a cottage, with some furniture, and must first dispose of those. In cases of sudden destitution the law said, that relief must be given, and if death should ensue from the want of such relief after it was demanded, there was no doubt whatever that the relieving officer, or other party whose duty it was to have given relief, would be rendered criminally responsible.

Mr. Wodehouse

said, that if his hon. and gallant Friend divided on his second Clause, he would most certainly vote with him, if it were only to put an end to all doubt on the subject; but of this he thought there could be no fear after the explanation of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He could state many instances of the general misapprehension of the law on the point. He had been applying to the Poor Law Commissioners at Somerset-house for three years on the part of the handloom weavers, but without effect. He begged to thank the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary for the explanation he had given, and for the spirit in which he was disposed to have the Poor Law administered. He would recommend the right hon. Baronet to ride the Poor Law Commissioners with a curb, and not with a snaffle.

Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.

The House divided on the question that the other Clause be read a second time:—Ayes 28; Noes 42: Majority 14.

List of the AYES.
Aldam, W. Hinde, J. H.
Arundel and Surrey, Earl of Kemble, H.
McGeachy, F. A.
Ashley, Lord Masterman, J.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Newdegate, C. N.
Borthwick, P. O'Brien, A. S.
Brotherton, J. Pechell, Capt.
Bruges, W. H. L. Pollington, Visct.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Round, J.
Collett, J. Sibthorp, Col.
Dodd, G. Spooner, R.
Douglas, J. D. S. Williams, W.
Duncombe, T. Wodehouse, E.
Entwisle, W.
Hall, Sir B. Napier, Sir C.
Hervey, Lord A. Yorke, H. R.
List of the NOES.
Allix, J. P. Jermyn, Earl
Boldero, H. G. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Bruce, Lord E. Lennox, Lord A.
Byng, rt. hon. G. S. Liddell, hon. H. T.
Childers, J. W. Mackinnon, W. A.
Clive, hon. R. H. Marsham, Visct.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Meynell, Capt.
Cripps, W. Mundy, E. M.
Damer, hon. Col. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Darby, G. Norreys, Lord
Denison, E. B. Peel, J.
Dickinson, F. H. Pringle, A.
Escott, B. Somerset, Lord G.
Flower, Sir J. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T. Thornhill, G.
Fuller, A. E. Trotter, J.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Goulburn, rt. hon H. Wawn, J. T.
Greene, T. Wortley, H. J. S.
Hawes, B.
Henley, J. W. TELLERS.
Hodgson, R. Young, J.
Howard, P. H. Baring, H.
Colonel Sibthorp

addresed the House in support of a Clause which went to abolish the Poor Law Commission, giving to the several Boards of Guardians constituted and appointed for the management of each separate union or union workhouse the full power, management, and control, without any inter- ference, power, or control of the aforesaid Board of Commissioners. At first there were three Commissioners. These were afterwards raised to four. At first there were nine Assistant Poor Law Commissioners, and the Act said there should be "nine and no more." But by some hocus pocus trick they were raised to twenty-one, and now they were to be reduced back again to their former number. If nine were found sufficient, why raise it to twenty-one? It was, he supposed, to let the law be administered by the Assistant Commissioners rather than the local Magistrates. The whole system was based on the principle of centralization, which had the effect of setting man against man, and of making it necessary to protect the poor man in some instances against his natural protector. A very considerable expense, amounting to about half a million, had been incurred by Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners; and he contended that the people were not at all improved in their condition by the working of the whole plan. In his opinion, the best thing that could be done would be to put an end to the whole system. Dismiss the Commissioners, and Assistant Commissioners, and go back to the ancient jurisdiction of the Magistrates.

The first Resolution brought up and read a first time.

On the question that it be read a second time.

Sir J. Graham

said, that the principle of the hon. and gallant Member's Clauses had been already under discussion in that House, which had declined to adopt it. The hon. and gallant Member had complained of the increase of expense attendant on the appointment of Commissioners and Assistant-Commissioners. He (Sir J. Graham) was not disposed to try the efficiency of any plan by its cost; but if he were to try the New Poor Law system by that test, it would be found that by an expense of about 50,000l. a saving had been made of about 2,000,000l. annually. His hon. and gallant Friend had complained of the great power of the Commissioners, but it was on that power that the whole system was based. If that were taken away the whole superstructure would be destroyed. Great as the power was at first, it had since been considerably enlarged in the control which they now, by recent enactments exercised over the appointment and removal of paid officers, and in other respects. One thing he would admit. It was this, — that the Commissioners had written too much, and in a harshness of spirit which was to be regretted. He had said this when out of office, and he now repeated it in office. He had used his influence to correct that harshness, and not without success; and now he was engaged in carrying out the system cordially and with a disposition to soften down any little asperities which might have arisen in its early working. He would not deny that some of the first acts of the Commissioners were arbitrary, but they perhaps arose much more from the nature of the duties imposed by law on the Commissioners than from the feelings of those engaged in carrying it out. The very novelty of the system was calculated to lead to errors which experience had since tended to correct, better than any individual influence could have done. In the discharge of their important functions, it would of course be necessary that those whose duty it was to carry out the New Poor Law should have the confidence of that House; but even that, important as it was, would not avail if the proceedings of the Commissioners were not brought, under the inspection of the public. That desirable aid to the system was now fully complete, and it was seen that the Commissioners and all parties connected with them in office were constantly and unremittingly engaged in attention to the wants of the destitute poor. The duties were discharged not only with alacrity but with an honest zeal in their performance which merited praise. Under such circumstances he must say nothing could be more injurious to that department of the public service than suddenly and at such a period of the Session to strike a blow at the root of the system, which was what the hon. and gallant Member called on the House to do, and what he felt called upon to resist.

Mr. Bernal

hoped that his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lincoln would not press his Clauses. He fully agreed with him that in the commencement of the New Poor Law there had been many errors, and blame was to be attributed somewhere. One cause of some of the errors was, perhaps, the very didactic manner in which some of the Commissioners laid down the law on some points. Owing to this, some of their decisions as to the law were not, well understood, and she consequence was, that up to this time there were strange discrepancies as to the meaning of some clauses and sections of the Law. However, many of them would be removed by the effect of this Bill. He had heard with satisfaction the explanation of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on one important point, the administering of out-door relief to the destitute poor. The explanation of his right hon. Friend would set all doubt on that point at rest for the future. He admitted, that great ignorance prevailed on many other parts of the law, and what he would venture to suggest to his right hon. Friend opposite, would be, that with the aid of the law officers of the Crown there should be prepared a plain and clear statement as to the meaning of the most important clauses of the Bill. When the law became thus better understood, it would be much more easily administered.

Mr. Spooner

would support the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Lincoln. The right hon. Baronet had stated, that the Poor Law Commissioners had the confidence of Parliament. He (Mr. Spooner) asked if they had the confidence of the people, undoubtedly not; and never would have while the law remained as it was, and while the administration of that law was left so completely to their discretion. The fact was, that too much power was given to the Commissioners; they had the power of making, altering, or repealing Acts of Parliament at their pleasure. Such power vested in three or four individuals was unconstitutional, and became more objectionable from the manner in which it was administered. He had the authority of the greatest statesman whom this country had produced—he meant that of William Pitt—for saying, that all the difficulties we experienced in administering relief to the poor arose from our departure from the pure spirit of the Act of Elizabeth. He would not stand there to palliate the many deviations which we had made from that Act, but he would, in the name of the poor of the country, conjure the House to come back again to the spirit of that law, by which every man who could work had work provided for him; but who, if unable to work, had his wants immediately attended to. How great was the contrast with our present system! Admission to our detested workhouses was the only way in which the honest pauper, willing and able to work—could obtain relief. His only crime being that he could find no one willing and able to employ him; he, to obtain relief, was obliged to sacrifice the company of his wife and children—must resign his cottage and leave his family to the care of strangers. What was it which could induce any man to make this sacrifice—what but the alternative of that, starvation, the latter of which many unhappy men had preferred? Allusion had been made to the ignorance of those who administered relief to the poor, of the law which they administered; but that was to be attributed to the fact that the instruction which they received ran before the law. It was Commissioners law, not the law of the land. He hoped that the hint which had been dropped by an hon. Member, as to drawing up a statement of what really was the state of the law, would be taken up by the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, as nothing was more really wanted than a clear statement of what the law really was upon some of its most important points. If the ignorance which existed upon the subject was ignorance of statutory enactments it would be inexcusable; but when it was found to exist only upon resolutions and orders issued by the Poor Law Commissioners, the matter was very different. If the feeling which he entertained as to that Board was a strong one hitherto, it had become much more so since he had heard the declaration of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), who had stated that the Poor Law Commissioners had the power of interfering with Local Acts. Such a circumstance made him still more strenuous in his desire to see the Commission abolished. The local administration of the Poor Law in Birmingham had now subsisted for a long time, carried on by a large body of Guardians elected under a local Act, who had always evinced an earnest desire to admiminister effective relief to the poor with an anxious attention to the interest of the smallest ratepayer. To do this in the midst of a dense population, liable to be suddenly thrown out of work by unavoidable fluctuations in trade, with a very narrow line of separation between the last payer, and the first receivers, requires sound discretion, grounded upon local knowledge; a knowledge none but local Guardians can possess, a discretion which none but they who possess that knowledge are competent to exercise. If the Commissioners interfered, upon that now declared power, with the Local Acts, he felt bound to warn them of the consequences, as they would inevitably paralyse the zeal of the Guardians, and destroy the confidence of the poor. Having stated his opinion upon the general principle of the law, he begged to announce his inten- tion of supporting the Motion of the gallant Member for Lincoln.

Mr. Hawes

had expected the very best results from the operation of the New Poor Law Act, but those expectations had not been altogether realised. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J, Graham) had stated, that great mitigations had taken place, but it appeared that the real mitigations were not those which had taken place in the enactments of the law, but in the temper with which it was administered. The Poor Law Commissioners in interpreting the law in 1839 did so just in the same way as did the Secretary of State for the Home Department in 1844. The real question was, whether or not the care of the poor was an object of national concernment, and if so, whether or not it were to be intrusted to irresponsible bodies scattered over the country, or to one Board subjected to the control of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and responsible for the proper discharge of its duties. The law could not be unconstitutional, as it was the law of Parliament. The rules which had been framed under it were all published, and were therefore open to inspection and scrutiny if such be sought. The administration of the law was most popular, if even it was granted that the law itself was harsh and unconstitutional. There might have been a little less writing, a little less attention to details; but the law itself and its administration were, he thought, very well adapted to their purpose. He would oppose the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln.

Mr. S. Wortley

saw very clearly indeed the difficulties which must result from acceding to the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln. He saw many functions which the Poor Law Commissioners might be beneficially called upon to discharge, and among them that of controlling the Boards of Guardians. He objected to the notion which had for some time past prevailed, that this Commission was to be permanent, and had he held a seat in Parliament when the New Poor Law Bill was passed he would not have given his vote for the formation of a body of that kind. The proposition, however, for abolishing this Commission, was, as matters stood, almost impracticable; and, therefore, though he felt very strongly the objections to the constitution of the Commission, he felt it his duty to oppose the Motion of the hon: and gallant Member for Lincoln.

Mr. W. Williams

thought, that as the Poor Law Act was now in complete operation, the functions of the Poor Law Commissioners had been discharged and ought to cease. One Commissioner was sufficient for transacting all the business now before that board, and a reduction of that kind ought at least to be effected.

Mr. M. Milnes

would ask whether there was not in the working of the Poor Law a tendency to discourage rather then encoursge voluntary charity, and to raise an opinion that it was on the whole more injurious than the principle of out-door relief? He felt very strongly that if it was contemplated that the wants of the poor were to be altogether left to the Poor Law, that law was totally unfit for supplying them. He was of opinion, and more so from the increase of population and its tendency to centralize itself, that a Poor Law could never be successful unless assisted by a large amount of private charily. So far as he had seen the operation of local acts in the borough which he represented, he approved of them; yet he could not shut his eyes to the enormous inconvenience that would arise from the abolition of the Poor Law Commission; and upon the whole, he thought that the Motion of the hon. Member for Lincoln ought not to be acceded to.

Captain Pechell

was surprised to hear from a Liberal Member on that side of the House that irresponsible Boards of Guardians were not to be trusted with the administration of the Poor Law. If abuses arose would not the rate-payers have power to remove them? The Poor Law Act never would have passed the House if it had been contemplated that the Board of Commissioners was to be perpetual; yet they were now from year to year allowing statutes to be passed for the purpose of giving a pretext to effect that perpetuity. Sir J. Scarlett had said, that the Parliament were delegating to a separate body an absolute power over the greater portion of their domestic economy. Sanctioned by that authority, and by that of Lord Lyndhurst, he was justified in supporting the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln.

Mr. Borthwick

would take leave to state, very briefly to the House the grounds upon which he had decided to support this Motion. Its effect would be to abolish the entire system of the law of 1834. He wished to see that consummation; and not blind to the hazards attending its achievement by this particular means, he still saw greater, much greater evils, connected with the continuance of the present system. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Graham) had, in his praise and defence of the Commission, admitted, that when called into existence by the Act of 1834 it had at first advanced with the feeble and uncertain step of infancy. It had staggered, stumbled—he did not say it had fallen—but it had babbled with a sad loquacity, and its babblings had not been understood by the public, if indeed they were comprehended by itself. But the hon. Member for Lambeth was not discreet in his praises. He laid at the feet of of this Commission the very devotion of a lover's homage. The hon, Gentleman in his Commission could see no faults—nay, like Waller and his mistresses what in any other man would be a blemish and defect, the hon. Gentleman found in a Poor Law Commission to be the most exquisite beauty, but the very beauties for which the Commission had thus been praised were, to his mind, grounds of his distaste and disapprobation. The hon. Gentleman had brought to his mind a smart epigram, written by a gentleman of the time of Louis Quatorze, upon some praises bestowed by a rival upon one of the court beanties. It was something as follows;— Quelle flatterie importune Comparer Iris au Soleil! Il est commun, elle est commune; C'est tout ce qu'ils ont de pareil. Really the very qualities for which the hon. Gentleman admired the Commission were those which recommended it the most strongly to his dislike. It was the creature at once, and the exponent of a piinciple—a philosophy—which could not be engrafted upon the British Constitution without the most fatal consequencs. The hon. and Gallant Gentleman opposite (Captain Pechell) had quoted high authorities; he would, without disrespect to those authorities, quote a yet higher, he would quote a name which must ever live amongst the brightest and most enduring glories of this country. The name of one who had reached the highest honours through a life every step in which was marked by honour to himself and by benefit to his country—he meant the late Lord Eldon. That illustrious man, as they were informed by an able and valuable record of his life, just published, expressed himself on the night on which the Bill of 1834 was to be discussed in the House of Lords to this effect—he quoted from memory—"That the evils which I foresee in this new treatment of the poor and helpless may never fall upon the country I fervently pray. It is to be discussed to-night; but to their assembly mine honour be not thou united." That the evils which Lord Eldon had foreseen had fallen upon the country he thought had been proved by the unhappy experience of years; but whatever might be their opinion of that, the evils, if they existed at all, were from their nature permanent, enduring, and ever crescent; and to prevent their continuance and growth he would vote, notwithstanding its hazards and difficulties, for the motion of his hon. and gallant Friend.

Mr. Newdegate

gave full weight to the objections that had been taken to the specific Motion of the gallant Member for Lincoln. No hon. Member felt more grateful to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) than he did for the alterations which had been effected in the Poor Law; but he felt that these alterations were worthy of a better enactment than that to which they belonged, and which was a mere dedication of powers to this Commission. In announcing his intention to vote with the gallant Member for Lincoln, he felt himself bound to state his objection that the period within which the Poor Law Commission should be abolished, ought not to be so short as was proposed in his Motion.

The House divided on the question that the Clause be read a second time:—Ayes 8; Noes 81: Majority 73.

List of the AYES.
Baskerville, T. B. M. Newdegate, C. N.
Borthwick, P. Pechell, Capt.
Collett, J.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. TELLERS
Hall, Sir B. Sibthorp, Col.
Hornby, J. Spooner, R.
List of the NOES.
A'Court, Capt. Broadley, H.
Alford, Visct. Brotherton, J.
Allix, J. P. Bruce, Lord E.
Aruudel and Surrey Earl of Bruges, W. H. L.
Clerk, Sir G.
Baring, hon. W. B. Clive, Visct.
Boldero, H. G. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bowes, J. Corry, rt. hon. H.
Courtenay, Lord Lincoln, Earl of
Cripps, W. McGeachy, F. A.
Damer, hon. Col. Marsham, Visct.
Darby, G. Meynell, Capt.
Denison, E. B. Milnes, R. M.
Dickinson, F. H. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Duncan, G. Norreys, Lord
Egerton, W. T. O'Brien, A. S.
Eliot, Lord Packe, C. W.
Emlyn, Visct. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Entwistle, W. Peel, J.
Fellowes, E. Plumridge, Capt.
Forster, M. Pringle, A.
Fuller, A. E. Rawdon, Col.
Gardner, J. D. Round, J.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Rushbrooke, Col.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Shepgard, T.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Goulburn, rt hn. H. Smythe, hon. G.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Somerset, Lord G.
Greene, T. Stanley, Lord
Harcourt, G. G. Stewart, P. M.
Hawes, B. Strutt, E.
Henley, J. W. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Herbert, hon. S. Thornhill, G.
Hervey, Lord A. Trench, Sir F. W.
Hodgson, R. Trotter, J.
Hope, hon. C. Vernon, G. H.
Howard, P. H. Wawn, J. T.
Jermyn, Earl Wodehouse, E.
Kemble, H. Wortley, hon. J. S.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. TELLERS.
Lemon, Sir C. Young, J.
Lennox, Lord A. Baring, H.

A Clause proposed by Mr. Vernon Smith respecting the appointment of collectors of the Poor Rate was added.

The Earl of Arundel

moved the insertion of the following Clause:— And be it enacted, that the Commissioners do and shall order Boards of Guardians to take measures for allowing all paupers, not being members of the Church of England, to attend their respective places of worship, when within reasonable distance, at all reasonable times.

Sir J. Graham

said, that he was willing to give every attention to the subject. He thought that all facilities ought to be given to the inmates of workhouses not members of the Church of England, for attending their respective places of worship. Every instruction would be given to the Poor Law Commissioners for effecting that purpose, and he hoped that as such was the case the noble Lord would not insist upon pressing his Motion.

Mr. Escott

said, that the present Clause was free from the objections which subsisted to a similar Clause moved on the preceding evening, and he hoped that the noble Lord would press it.

Mr. Darby

bore testimony to the efficacy of the principle, which he had seen carried into practice with the greatest advantage though not without difficulties in doing so.

Mr. T. Howard

contended, that without the most strenuous efforts on the part of the Poor Law Commissioners to restrain Board of Guardians, the existing evil would not be removed. He hoped that his noble Friend would press his Motion.

Mr. V. Smith

hoped that the noble Lord would not press his Motion after the explanation of the right hon. Baronet.

The Earl of Arundel

consented to withdraw his Motion.

Mr. S. O'Brien

moved the following Clause:— Provided always, and be it further enacted, that whenever it shall appear to the Board of any district school that the space within such school is more than sufficient for the accommodation of poor children within the district for which such school shall have been built, it shall and may be lawful for such board, subject to the approval of the Poor Law Commissioners, to make order for the admission of so many other children residing in the same district as shall seem expedient to such Board; and the weekly provision for the maintenance and education of such children shall be fixed by the Board at such rate as shall in their judgment be amply sufficient to cover every expense on account of such children.

Sir R. Peel

in 1831, strongly recommended such an arrangement. The right hon. Member for Perth (Mr. F. Maule), and others, had concurred in the sentiments of the right hon. Baronet upon that occasion. He was prepared to defend his Motion upon two grounds first, because there was danger if it was not adopted that a premium would be given to poverty; and, secondly, because he believed that such an arrangement as was thereby proposed, would tend to prevent pauper children from feeling the stigma attached to their situation, by being educated as a separate class. The Bishop of London had in 1831 stated, that it was not desirable to make the education of the poor more different from that of the rich than their situation demanded. He (Mr. S. O'Brien) had no authority for saying so, but after what he had just quoted, he had no doubt that the Clause which he now proposed would meet with the approbation of that right rev. Prelate. The House would observe that the consent of the Poor Law Commissioners and of the Board of Guardians was requisite before the Clause could be made operative. With these two provisions, with the restriction to a radius of seven and a-half miles, and considering that the means of education were so notoriously disproportioned to the wants of the people, he could not conceive that any danger could accrue from admitting this Clause into the Act. The effect of his Motion would be, to add to the amount of education and to approximate so much the nearer to a general system thereof.

Sir J. Graham

said, that nothing beyond the proceedings of that debate were necessary to convince him, had he no other proof of it, how intimately the question of the Poor Law was interwoven with the greatest subjects of national policy. To the number of leading topics which had already been touched upon, the hon. Member for Northampton had now added that of education. That hon. Member had, however, omitted to consider that the district schools provided for in the Bill were pauper boarding-schools, inasmuch as they were the collection in these district schools of pauper children drawn from the surrounding workhouses. It would, therefore, not be right on the part of the Commissioners, or of the district Board of Guardians, to consent to any expense for the building of larger schools than were necessary for the ordinary number of children contained in the surrounding workhouses. It would not be just to the ratepayers to expose them to greater expense than was requisite for the pauper population of their unions. He (Sir J. Graham) objected to the Clause, not only on these grounds, but because it held out expectations which it could not fulfil. It was an attempt to introduce a general scheme under cover of a local and particular enactmeni; for, as the plan of district schools was, by the Bill, confined to the metropolis and four or five other places, and affected only one class of the poor, such a Clause as that proposed would create the greatest disappointment, by creating hopes for the education of the poor generally throughout the kingdom. He did not attach so much authority to the opinion of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of London as the hon. Member for Northampton, for he was not prepared absolutely to be bound by it; but he had no hesitation in saying, that that right rev. Prelate was opposed to the proposition of the hon. Member. It was admitted, that as far as was possible, the Bill sought to increase the means of education among the poor, especially where the largest numbers were congregated; but was this proposition adapted for such a purpose? He had a decided opinion that it was not. It would place an unjust assessment upon the rate-payers, and be most injurious to the existing schools of all kinds, supported by voluntary subscriptions, if it succeeded. Such a supposition, however, he regarded as delusive. The hon. Member had referred to what took place upon this subject in 1841; but the schools then under discussion were day schools and not boarding-schools. The whole scheme of the district schools was founded upon the understanding that provisions as well as education should be found for the children. On these grounds, he felt it to be his duty to oppose the Motion.

Mr. Hawes

was astonished at hearing now the decided opinions of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) compared with what he had previously said upon the subject. The objection taken by the right hon. Baronet that the schools were to be boarding-schools, was not valid, as the Poor Law Commissioners had, by the Clause, the power of saying when day borders should be received, and when they should not. There was no compulsion under the Clause to receive children as boarders; though he was the last person who would say anything disrespectful of the Bishop of London, he felt bound to state it as his opinion that that right rev. Prelate saw in the Clause a more liberal system of education than he approved of. He (Mr. Hawes) would support the Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton.

Sir R. Peel

said, that he intended to support the views of his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Graham). On a previous occasion he had declared that he had a strong prepossession in favour of the Motion now before the House, as he thought it would give to parents generally the advantages of such an education, as they could not otherwise possess. If the question was one between ignorance and knowledge, between Christianity and infidelity, the Church could not he conceived, be much injured thereby. He found not only on the part of the Bishop of London, but of others also, an opinion that such an arrangement as that now proposed would rather check and impede voluntary efforts for the education of the people than encourage them, and that in- stead of increasing the sum of education it would very likely check it. The district schools ought to be constructed only of the size requisite for the accommodation of the pauper children, and it would not be right to charge the rate-payers for room beyond that which was required. He yielded his former opinions to the authority of those who were conversant with the subject, and would therefore oppose the Motion.

Mr. V. Smith

would not tax the right hon. Baronet with inconsistency, but thought that hon. Members had a right to be convinced by his previous arguments; for at present he had adduced none. He thought the principle of the Clause was excellent, as it went to convince the pauper children that they were not outcasts from society, and to encourage a general and high spirit of concession towards them among the children of the lower classes generally.

Mr. O'Brien

was of opinion that, under the circumstances, it was not of any use to divide the House upon this Clause.

Clause withdrawn.

Further consideration of Report adjourned.

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