HC Deb 30 May 1844 vol 75 cc29-31
Sir J. Graham

moved to nominate the Select Committee on Poor Relief (Gilbert's Act):— Mr. Barneby, Captain Pechell, Mr. Thomas Duncombe, Sir Robert Heron, Mr. Colvile, Sir William Heathcote, Mr. Becket Denison, Mr. Wrightson, Viscount Barrington, Mr. Manners Sutton, Mr. Strutt, Viscount Marsham, Mr. Labouchere, Mr. Wakley, and Mr. Protheroe.

Captain Pechell

had not been aware that the right hon. Gentleman was going to nominate the Committee this evening, and he was sorry there were so few Gentlemen present who were interested in the subject. Great apprehensions were entertained in those parts of the country which were liable to be affected, that whatever might be the report of a Committee, even if it should be in favour of the retention of these incorporations, it was the intention of the right hon. Baronet to legislate for their abolition. He had understood the right hon. Baronet on Thursday to say, that he would not at that time pledge himself in one way or other; but from something that had since transpired, either in or out of the House, an unfavourable impression had gone abroad that these incorporations were to be abolished. He thought the parties concerned were justified in believing, that the Poor Law Commissioners were endeavouring to control the Government in the course they should pursue, and were endeavouring to cajole, bully, and tamper with Boards of Guardians in order to induce them to come to certain resolutions. The petition which had been presented from Derbyshire contained a serious accusation against the Poor Law Commissioners, who, it seemed, were endeavouring to persuade Boards of Guardians to dissolve their Unions, as they represented for their own benefit, and in order to give satisfaction to the rate-payers. If it went forth that the Government intended to listen to the representations of the Commissioners, notwithstanding any report of a Committee, it would be believed, that the Bill which they intended to bring in would be completely under the management of the Poor Law Commissioners. The insinuations thrown out against the Gilbert Unions were causing much dissatisfaction in the agricultural districts, where the people were satisfied and happy. The Commissioners were endeavouring to persuade the Boards of Guardians that their affairs would be better managed if they were placed under their control at Somerset-house, and they represented the labourers in the Poor Law Unions as returning whistling from their work, happy and contented. The right hon. Gentleman had before refused a Committee; but having now granted it, he hoped he would enable the advocates of the Gilbert Unions to bring up their evidence, and not throw impediments in their way, and would give them notice of the evidence he meant to produce against them. If that were the case, he did not so much care about the names on the Committee, because he knew the treatment of the poor in those incorporations would bear investigation.

Mr. R. Yorke

said, that the right hon. Gentleman had declared on a former occasion, that whatever might be the determination of a Committee, it was his intention to follow out the principles of the Poor Law on a system of uniformity. Let the Poor Law Bill be made applicable to the necessities of the people, and he should have no objection to the Gilbert Unions being placed on a footing of uniformity; but after what the right hon. Baronet had formerly declared, it was too great a farce to be endured, that this Committee should be proposed.

Sir J. Graham

said, that what he had stated on a former evening was, that it would not be respectful to the House to announce his intention before inquiry was made.

Sir W. James

said, as the measure now before the House connected with this subject was in many respects an improvement on the existing law, he should be glad of an assurance from the Home Secretary, that notwithstanding the lateness of the Session, and the appointment of this Committee, it was the intention of the Government, under all circumstances, to proceed with their Bill.

Sir J. Graham

said there was not the least intention on the part of the Government of not proceeding with the Bill.

Committee appointed.

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