§ Mr. Sharman Crawford
said that notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, he thought it would be more convenient for him to proceed with the Motion of which he had given notice than to postpone it to another night. The subject he was about to bring under the notice of the House might appear from the nature of his Motion to be of a local character; but the House would be mistaken if they considered it to be of mere local interest, for it involved the question, whether the authority of the Poor Law Commissioners should be enforced in every corner of England that still resisted their authority. It was in fact the great question whether all the districts under Local Acts, or which still managed their poor under the Select Vestries' Act, should be compelled to bow their neck to the yoke of that sovereign authority which had been not inappropriately called the authority of the Three Kings at Somerset House. The Motion which he brought forward also raised the question, whether the New Poor Law Act should continue as it was, or whether it should be amended in such a manner as to render it more conformable to justice, to policy, and 695 to the ancient constitution of England. He would shortly state the circumstances more particularly connected with his constituents on the present occasion. The district of Rochdale had been managed for twenty-six years under the Select Vestries' Act, and he believed that no fault had hitherto been found with the manner in which the relief of the poor had been there conducted under that Act. In 1837 a Union was formed under the new Act for the purposes of Registration; but the guardians under that Union were directed to abstain from the management of the relief of the poor, which still continued conducted under the Select Vestries' Act. Matters remained so until October 25, 1844, when an order was issued by the Poor Law Commissioners requiring that the guardians should take on themselves the relief of the poor. This order was accompanied by a letter, in which, however, no reason was assigned for the course dictated by the Poor Law Commissioners, they merely stating that "the exercise of the function for the relief of the poor is expressly intrusted to them by the Legislature; and though the Commissioners deemed it expedient to restrain it for a period, they have come to the conclusion that the time has now arrived when that restriction may be properly withdrawn." This order, then, without any reason assigned, was issued by the Poor Law Commissioners, notwithstanding that the people of Rochdale had been permitted, since the formation of the Union for Registration purposes, to administer the relief for the poor in their accustomed manner. In spite of the order of the Commissioners, it was found impossible to obtain a meeting of the guardians, either ex-officio or other, in sufficient number to constitute a board of three to carry out the order, which was thought injurious to the interests of the people. In this state of things a mandamus was applied for on the 24th of November in the Court of Queen's Bench; and there was something that appeared very strange about that mandamus. It was moved for and required by the Poor Law Commissioners to be issued, not in the usual form, by way of rule to show cause, but the Court was solicited to grant an absolute mandamus at once, and, as he understood, on the allegation that the poor were starving. The mandamus was accordingly granted. It was exceedingly strange that such a representation should 696 have been made to the Court of Queen's Bench, because, under the authority of a letter addressed to the overseers of the poor of Rochdale by the Poor Law Commissioners, the overseers were still relieving the poor according to the former system. The poor were not starving, but were relieved as usual, and that, too, under the authority of the Poor Law Commissioners themselves; for, in the letter to which he alluded, the Poor Law Commissioners "recommended that if any embarrassment or misunderstanding should arise, the paupers should be relieved by you (the overseers) as usual." The Commissioners, therefore, or those who acted under them, employed something like deception when they said that the poor were in danger of starving, and thereby induced the Court of Queen's Bench to grant an absolute mandamus, without allowing the people of Rochdale an opportunity, in the first instance, of showing cause against it. As to the legality of the mandamus itself, he should say nothing at present, as he understood notice had been served for the trial of the question at the assizes at Lancaster. The people of Rochdale had made every exertion possible to avoid the infliction on them of this New Poor Law. They had tried by all legitimate means to prevent its being forced on them; and at the same time had endeavoured to avoid the appearance of any resistance to authority. The guardians signed a memorial addressed to the Home Secretary; and the ratepayers of Rochdale also addressed a memorial to the right hon. Baronet, hoping for his interference to prevent the infliction of this New Poor Law upon them. That memorial was signed by 11,415 ratepayers; and it was a remarkable thing that amongst the vast number of ratepayers there was such a degree of unanimity. It was also remarkable, that notwithstanding his constituency was divided into so many political parties, he represented at that moment the feelings of the whole body. There might be some few exceptions, but he was proud to say that he was then advocating what might properly be termed the wishes of the whole body of the people of Rochdale. That memorial was presented to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department; but his answer was, that he had no power to interfere in preventing the operation of an of Act Parliament. Now, he would ask that House whether it was justi- 697 fiable, under such circumstances as he had stated, for the Commissioners to force their authority upon Rochdale without having a sufficient cause for doing so? The memorialists wanted to know whether any mal-practices could be changed against them; if there were any, let them be stated and inquired into. But it was hard that the Commissioners should attempt to enforce their authority against the feelings and wishes of the people. It was on that ground that the inhabitants of Rochdale appealed to that House. They had appealed to the right hon. Gentleman as the organ of the Government; but were told that the Government could give them no remedy, and they therefore came to that House to ask whether they would give them any relief from the infliction of this law. Although no reason was assigned for the infliction of it in any regular document, yet he had a correct knowledge of a document which had been produced, and which he believed was made the foundation of this act of the Commissioners. It was the Report of Mr. Clements, and in that he found a table comprising thirty-nine Unions, and forming a comparison between the aggregate average of those Unions with three others under the Select Vestries' Act. Upon that comparison the Commissioner made out a case against the Select Vestries' Act. But his mode of computation was not correct; he stated that the average increase in 1843, as compared with 1838, had been under the Commissioners in thirty-nine unions 68½ per cent., whilst under the three Select Vestries Acts it had been 147 per cent. But if that Table were examined it would be found that in several Unions which included those thirty-nine, the percentage of increase was a great deal higher than in the three Select Vestry Unions. He could select three towns in which the average percentage would run as high as 170 per cent., and that without taking the extreme highest in the list. Now, under such circumstances, was it fair to compare the average of thirty-nine Unions with the average of three, when among those thirty-nine there were several which equalled or exceeded the average of the three so selected? Again, there was a difficulty in comparing the percentage of one Union with another, because the Commissioner wisely abstained from giving in his table the percentage of each Union. The Commissioner admitted that Rochdale was the 698 lowest of those three Select Vestry Unions; and, if an examination were permitted, it could be shown that the amount of expenditure in Mr. Clements's table attributed to Rochdale was largely overstated; that between 8,000 and 9,000 persons and families were relieved in 1843, and that the average expenditure in that relief did not exceed 28s. per head. It could also be proved that in the year 1844 there had been a decrease of expenditure to the amount of 1,087l., equal to one-ninth of the whole expenditure of the former year. But there was a triumphant argument in favour of Rochdale. By the Tenth Annual Report of the Commissioners, page 3, it appeared that the number of paupers relieved in England and Wales (in-door and out-door) in 1843 was (in round numbers) 1,500,000; and the expense (in round numbers) 4,000,000l. This was at the rate of 2l. 13s. 4d. per bend, whilst at Rochdale the rate per head was only 28s. That was a strong argument why an inquiry should be made before this law was forced upon them. But it was not the first time that Rochdale had been attacked, and that he had had to defend it. In 1841 he stated the distress of the inhabitants of Rochdale, and the consequence was that an inquiry was instituted, which inquiry was extended to the system for the relief of the poor. That inquiry was reported by Mr. Tufnell in February, 1842, and in Mr. Tufnell's Report he found this passage:—They asked persons whom they found in distress, had they applied for relief? 'They declared they had not; and appeared to me to have a pride in endeavouring to keep off the parish as long as possible.' Again, you will not fail to observe the small amount of out-relief given in some of these townships, compared with what is usual in the Poor Law Unions of the south of England. In Wardleworth, a population of 11,400, the weekly out-relief amounts on an average to only 10l. A similar amount of agricultural population in Kent or Sussex would usually receive 35l. weekly, or three and a-half times as much.Such was the testimony given by that Report in favour of the manner in which the relief of the poor in Rochdale was conducted. That was another ground why they should not be sentenced without being first permitted the liberty of showing why this law ought not to be forced upon them. But was economy to be the only object in view? Was that to be the only criterion of the administration of the law? 699 There were other considerations. He thought the manner in which the poor were relieved, as well as the expense, ought to be considered; and if it were found that it afforded the poor insufficient relief it ought to be condemned, whilst, on the other hand, if there were economy with sufficient relief, the system should be maintained. But the Commissioners seemed to think only of economy, and they appeared, in his opinion, to have corrupted the guardians by the constant reiteration of that principle, for the guardians seemed to be as much inclined to starve the poor as the Commissioners. But this petition contained a variety of allegations, and he should not do justice to those who had commissioned him to appear before that House if he did not call the attention of the House to those allegations. They stated that the Poor Law system was unconstitutional, and that its introduction into Rochdale would utterly destroy that principle of self-government upon which the inhabitants had hitherto acted with perfect satisfaction to themselves and the poor of that town—a principle which was the acknowledged palladium of British liberty, and the only safeguard against despotism and tyranny. They also told the House that the Poor Law Commissioners were not recognized by the constitution of England. Nor were their commands to be regarded as legislatorial authority, inasmuch as the Commissioners took upon themselves, under pretence of administering the provisions of a law passed by the House, to issue mandates called rules and orders, having all the authority of law. The rules of the Commissioners had all the power of Acts of Parliament; but they were made by those who had no authority to make acts, who derived no authority from the people. The petitioners also told the House, that the Commissioners assumed the power of originating large levies of money to be imposed for purposes not consented to by the guardians. Now, that was a right of taxation vested in irresponsible hands, which the constitution did not acknowledge. They had also power to appoint officers and to give salaries; that, too, was contrary to the British constitution; but the people of Rochdale had lately experienced an exercise of that power, for the Commissioners had recently appointed there an officer with a salary of 150l. a year. In fact, the guardians were hackneys to be 700 ridden by the Commissioners, and made to sanction that taxation which they had no power in themselves to control. The petition then went on to remark, that it was one of those great and glorious principles of civil liberty which constituted the Commons of England the great bulwark against dictatorial and tyrannic sway, without whose consent not even the Monarch on the throne could levy one penny of a tax upon the people; and yet the Commissioners had assumed that power. Another unconstitutional part of this system was, that the Commissioners combined both the legislative and executive power in themselves. Parliament, by creating those Commissioners and giving them the authority they had, were doing that which they were not entitled to do. They were by such a proceeding not making laws, but legislators; but Parliament had no right to surrender its rights to other persons. Parliament was constituted to make laws, but had no power to transfer their authority to any other quarter. He had heard it remarked in that House, not very long since, that it was dangerous for Parliament to transfer its authority to other bodies. He had heard it said that if Parliament did transfer its authority to other bodies, it would soon become nothing but a debating club, and that they would lose their character as the representatives of the people and the guardians of the rights of the people. He said, then, that Parliament endangered their weight with the people by surrendering their authority to any body; but why was this transfer of authority made to the Commissioners? Because it was intended that they should do what Parliament did not choose to do. The object for which, beyond all doubt, Parliament created the Commissioners, was to abolish all out-door relief, and with that to abolish the right of the working man of England to that support to which he was entitled. That was what the people of Rochdale believed, and that was the reason why they had such an aversion to this law. The right of the working man of England he conceived to be this:—Every working man was entitled to offer his labour to those who might be in the occupation of the soil; and if he could not obtain labour, he was entitled to subsistence. That right originated in the dispossessment of the working man of the soil; but it was a right higher than any law could give; it was a right from above, that the 701 working man should be supported by the soil, and if the soil were withheld from him, then those who possessed the soil should support him. The working man of England had a right either to have work or a subsistence, and that right had been acknowledged by every Act of Parliament, particularly by the Act of 1790. That Act was a most kind act to the poor, as it enabled the overseers to give outdoor relief. But the object of the present law was to exclude out-door relief. It was stated that five-sixths of the paupers in England were supported by external relief. He did not deny that; but he said that that was contrary to the intention of the Act, and was contrary to the existing rules. There was a very important observation of the Commissioners upon that part of the Bill. In their Second Report they said—In the Poor Law Amendment Act first submitted to the consideration of Parliament, a clause was inserted which directed that all relief to able-bodied paupers out of workhouse should cease on the 1st of July, 1835. In the progress of the Bill the clause was withdrawn, and the Commissioners were charged with the important duty of fixing the time when in each Union that provision, which formed the first recommendation of the Poor Law Commissioners, and is in fact the main object of the Poor Law Amendment Act, should be carried into effect. We have not ceased to bear in mind this very important part of our duties; and we have carefully watched the progress of the districts first formed into Unions for the purpose of ascertaining at what time, and to what extent, this provision might be enforced in them.They then stated that the rule had been applied to certain Unions mentioned, in all sixty-four (in one year), and went on to say—No doubt can be entertained that it was the deliberate intention of Parliament, in framing the Poor Law Amendment Act, that all out-door relief to the able-bodied should cease at the earliest period that it could safely and with propriety be put an end to, and the question which we have successively to decide as to each Union is, whether the time may be fairly deemed to have arrived.But there was another paper which sank deep in the minds of his constituents. It was a paper of secret instructions, which was at a former period mentioned in that House by Mr. Walter, then Member for Nottingham. The various rules of the Commissioners contained in those Suggestions had since been carried cut in the 702 fullest manner—they still existed in full force—that no able-bodied person should be relieved except in the walls of the poor-house. The Commissioners had published their rules in their Eight Annual Report, and had there acknowledged that principle. That rule which was originally proposed, had been since carried out consistently and regularly by the Commissioners; and, although it was true it had not been entirely adhered to, still there was every reason to believe that, if it were not for the force of public opinion, it would still be carried out with all the severity of which it was capable. Then, again, the Commissioners had the power to reduce allowances, but not to enlarge them; so that the poor man had no court to appeal to for an increase of his allowance. Another cause which led his constituents to wish for inquiry was the poverty of the diet given to the poor under the Poor Law. From the Cirencester Dietary Tables which were dated March, 1844, and were laid on the Table on the Motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe), it appeared that the allowance for an able-bodied man for five days in the week was as follows:—"Breakfast, seven ounces of bread, and one pint of gruel; dinner, one pound potatoes; supper, seven ounces bread, and one ounce cheese. On Sunday he was allowed an addition of five ounces bacon; and on Thursday his one pound of potatoes for dinner was withdrawn, and in place of it one quart of soup given. One pound of potatoes for a working man's dinner! Why, one good-sized potatoe would almost weigh a pound, yet not a drop of milk or a morsel of meat was added to his meal. He could tell the House that in Ireland an able-bodied man would eat seven pounds of potatoes for his dinner. Yet the diet he had named was what was prescribed for the able-bodied Englishman. It was a starvation diet, and yet, with the exception of five ounces of bacon in two days, that was all he got for dinner. Nor had his constituents forgotten the diet in the Bridgewater Union. In May, 1836, the new system of diet commenced there. In August the dietary and other comforts of the poor were reduced. In September disease commenced, as appeared by the reports of the medical men, and for nearly six years this House exhibited proofs of the most grievous ill treatment as exhibited in the following characteristics:—1. spare 703 and unwholesome diet; 2. rooms crowded to pestilence; 3. wilful exposure of the healthy to fatal contagion; 4. consequent fevers, inflammations, and deaths; and all this was continued notwithstanding the remonstrances of the medical men. Not till the close of six years did the Commisssioners take means to alleviate this suffering by giving a greater latitude for out-door relief. His constituents had observed all these things as they happened at Bridgewater, and they, therefore, commissioned him to appeal to the House. There could, he apprehended, be no doubt that any extension of out-door relief to the able-bodied poor was contrary to the laws of the Commissioners. Yet what did Mr. Clements say in his Report, of November, 1844, at page 184. He said—But I have yet to learn that there is anything in the regulations issued by your Board, or in the advice given under your instructions, which would ever cause the guardians to oblige respectable married couples who require relief to enter a workhouse.How could he assert this? He (Mr. S. Crawford) on the contrary challenged Mr. Clements to show that the rules of the Commissioners did not provide the direct reverse of what he stated to be the practice. There might, perhaps, have been a mitigation of the rule in practice, but there was no real change of the rule itself. The principles of the system were what he had already declared them to be, and such also were the proceedings by which it was attempted to be carried out in the first year of the government of the Commissioners. Since then public opinion had forced a mitigation of the severity of the system; but was there any real change in the system or its objects? He denied that there was. In the Eighth Annual Report the Commissioners republished their general rules:—Article 1 — Every able-bodied person, male or female, requiring relief from any parish within any of the said Unions, shall be relieved wholly in the workhouse of the Union, together with such of the family of every such able-bodied persons as may be resident with him or her, and may not be in employment, and together with the wife of every such able-bodied male person, if he be a married man, and if she be resident with him, save and except in the following cases.And the exceptions referred to sickness and accidents, funeral expenses, the cases of widows under certain circumstances, 704 persons in gaol, soldiers and sailors' wives and children, and other cases. Again, in the Tenth Annual Report, p. 1, the Commissioners said—The regulations respecting out-door relief of the able-bodied, which were in force in the several Unions, were generally observed, and we were not required by special circumstances to modify our general orders on this subject.Therefore, he contended, if the rules of the Commissioners had been relaxed, that relaxation had arisen from acts of indulgence wholly independent of any power which the boards of guardians were authorized to exercise. Another point arose out of the power of the justices to order out-door relief to infirm paupers. That power was given by the 27th clause of the Poor Law Amendment Act. What said the Commissioners with respect to the relief given to infirm persons? Why, in the Second Annual Report, they say—They have hitherto applied the prohibitory scale, with few exceptions, to able-bodied male paupers; but the guardians of many boards have been induced to investigate the claims under which widows and old persons have been for a length of time relieved; and to put to the proof the actual destitution of many long-established pensioners on the rates. Persons struck off by the guardians have appealed to the magistrates under the 27th clause, which gives them a limited jurisdiction with regard to paupers whom they can certify as wholly unable to work. The Commissioners say they have been called upon to explain the nature and extent of this power. They say it can go no further than to the extent that relief shall be given in the workhouse; but the amount and quality of the relief which is to be assigned to the individual is to be decided on and awarded solely by the guardians, by whom alone the power of doing and regulating the relief to the poor is (subject to our orders and regulations) to be exercised.So that it was in the power of the guardians to neutralize altogether the power given by the Act to the Justices of the Peace. But if any evidence were still wanting as to the spirit in which the Poor Law Amendment Act was conceived, it would be supplied by what fell from the most distinguished promoter of it—Lord Brougham — when moving the second reading. The noble Lord said—For most certain it is that anything more mischievous—anything more fatal to the country—anything more calculated to multiply indefinitely the numbers of the poor, cannot be conceived than the application to them of any 705 regular fixed provision, be it tithe or be it tax, which they can claim at the hands of the rich, except by the force of that duty of imperfect obligation—private charity—which is imposed upon all men. Every permanent fund set apart for their support, from whomsoever proceeding, and by whomsoever administered, must needs multiply the evils it is destined to remedy. The real question is,—whether your Lordships shall retain your property or not. The Commissioners appear to be of opinion that unless some measure of this kind be adopted the property of the country must shortly be confiscated.There the secret was let out. But a more unwise principle never was adopted as the ground of legislation. That was the way really to make the property of the country change hands. Let property afford the people the relief they were entitled to. Depend upon it if that relief were withdrawn or withheld it would lead to a much greater danger than that which was here put forward by Lord Brougham as a reason for passing the Act. Another evil in the present law as compared with the old one was, that the right of appeal was taken away from the poor. Formerly there was an appeal to the magistrates from the acts of the overseers. He did not mean to say that the magistrates were the best body to whom to allow the appeal; but still he could not help thinking that the gentlemen of England, as a body, entertained feelings which would be more likely to lead to kindness to the poor than could be expected from boards of guardians. Another most grievous operation of the law was the manner in which it mixed up the industrious poor and their families with the most abandoned persons. This would effectually prevent the industrious and well-conducted poor from availing themselves of the provisions of the Act. It was of no use to say that the poor had the right to relief, so long as the relief was to be administered within the walls of a workhouse. There were two kinds of poor. All the poor were not "paupers." That kind of poor were not to be classed with the industrious working men of England—those who had, when in better circumstances, contributed to the support of others, and who had thereby established a claim to the same support in their turn. The difference between the New Poor Law, and the old Select Vestry Act, was that destitution was now the only ground of claim, while the workhouse test was the only proof of that destitution. This was 706 a miserable position in which to place the working men. The right given to them by the Law and the Constitution was for the purpose of preventing them from coming to that state of destitution which was now made the only ground on which they could claim relief. The effects of this law had also claimed the attention of his constituents. They were shown in the general reduction of wages; in the cases of starvation to death that had occurred; in the increase of crime; and in the startling fact that the poor would commit crimes and go to prison, only to prevent their being forced into the workhouses. He maintained that the right of the poor man to relief was as sacred as any other kind of right recognized by the Law or the Constitution—it was his birthright, and was quite as sacred as the right of property itself. The New Poor Law had abrogated this right. That law had perhaps never been more accurately described than by a celebrated public man now living, when he said that the "pith and marrow" of the enactment ought to be comprised in two sentences—'1st. Be it enacted that the Poor Law Commissioners shall have unbounded dominion over the rich and poor of the land;" to which should be added a proviso, "provided always, and be it enacted, that they shall invariably exercise that dominion in the most insulting manner." He had now endeavoured to explain the reasons why his constituents were so opposed to the law—he had endeavoured to do so fully and fairly, and without the use of any aggravated expressions. They were, however, most anxious that Parliament should take some means to prevent them from being brought under the influence of the law. They desired that there should be some inquiry into the means by which the Commissioners had administered the law. They were not conscious that the old law had been abused in their hands. He (Mr. S. Crawford) would not press for an inquiry into the operation of the existing law if they would send a Commissioner down to Rochdale to inquire how the affairs of the poor had been administered there. He wished for inquiry. If no malpractices should be found, his constituents would have a right to complain that the law should be forced upon them. Their Select Vestry Act directed relief with a distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor—terms entirely alien from 707 the principles of the New Poor Law, but carrying out a humane, charitable, and useful principle. His constituents were anxious not to get into collision with the constituted authorities, nor to show any disrespect to them; but they were united as one man in the determination not to be made the instruments of bringing into that district of the country a law they so highly disapproved; and they would be ready to risk the penalties of an attachment, rather than be made to do that from which their consciences revolted, and which was so contrary to their feeling of duty towards their fellow men. He would vary the terms of his Notice of Motion, and conclude by moving—That the Petition of the Ratepayers and Inhabitants of Rochdale, presented on the 25th day of February last, be referred to a Select Committee of this House, to inquire into the administration of the relief to the Poor in that district.But if the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) would state that he would institute an inquiry, he would be quite satisfied.
§ Mr. Ferrand
I rejoice, Sir, that I have caught your eye, for I am anxious to bear my testimony to the unanimity of that vast meeting at which this petition was agreed to, and the determined spirit which the inhabitants of Rochdale then exhibited, to stand by the principles which they on that occasion asserted. I also rejoice to have the opportunity of calling the attention of the House to the solemn pledges given by those who introduced this law, and the manner in which those pledges have been broken, as well as the fearful results which have accrued to the country by the enforcement of this law. I will prove that the inhabitants of Rochdale are justified in resisting the extension of the system into their neighbourhood; and that obedience, on their part, would be a crime, while resistance is a virtue. There were the most solemn pledges given when this law was introduced; this House was deceived by those pledges, and so was the country; and what can Parliament say now, when I prove that those pledges have been most unblushingly broken? Will it assert that the people of Rochdale are not justified in resisting a law which was carried by unjust and unconstitutional means; or will it aid the Poor Law Commissioners in enforcing it upon them? Sir, when this measure was first introduced by 708 Lord Althorp, he distinctly said, on the 17th of April, 1834:—As to the observation of the hon. Member for Marylebone, who hoped that the Commissioners would not interfere with parishes that were well regulated, he had to say, that he hoped they would not; the only mode in which, he trusted, they would deal with such parishes would be by following their example. When a parish was really well regulated, it need not entertain the slightest apprehension of interference upon the part of the Commissioners.Upon this pledge, given by the mouthpiece of the Government in this House, the House of Commons gave its consent to the Bill, and the country did not offer that opposition to it, which it would otherwise have done. Afterwards, on the same day, Lord Althorp said, "he need not say that an immense advantage would be obtained by an uniformity of system throughout the country;" and on the 27th of June, he observed, "The proposed amendment would destroy one of the principal advantages of the measure, namely, uniformity of practice." The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) said, on a later occasion, on the 20th of July, 1839, that "the law contemplated that on a given day the refusal of out-door relief throughout England and Wales should be general." Lord Althorp said, on the 1st of July, 1834, "the object of the Bill was to put a stop to the allowance system." On the 12th of June, 1834, the same noble Lord stated "that it was not intended as a general rule, that a man should be separated from his wife, or children from their mother, or that paupers should have their heads shaved, or be compelled to wear badges." On the 9th of June, 1834, Lord Althorp said, "it would prove of the greatest possible benefit to the labourer;" and on the 27th of that month, "the farmer and his labourer would both be benefited; the latter being made independent by increased wages, and the former, in consequence of that increase, would have his work much more effectually and zealously done and performed." He asserted, that at that very time the average rate of wages in the north of Nottinghamshire was 13s. a-week; in Northamptonshire, 9s. But there were also most solemn pledges given by a noble Lord, who has been quoted to-night, I allude to Lord Brougham, who, in moving the second reading, said:— 709Such a system (that is, the old Poor Law) deadens all sense of shame, all sense of real dignity; erases from the mind every feeling of honourable independence, and fits its victims only for acts of outrage or of fraud. Look at that volume (the Poor Law Commissioners' Report,) the record of idleness and her sister guilt, which now stalk over the land. Look at the Calendar, which they have filled to overflowing, notwithstanding the improvement of our jurisprudence, and the progress of education.He then called the attention of the House of Lords to the state of the country, and spoke of it asThat which I could not bear to think of, did I not know that the same hand which lays it bare to your eyes, and makes its naked deformity horrible in your sight, will be enabled by your assistance to apply to the foul disease a safe and effectual remedy; restoring to industry its due reward, and visiting idleness with its appropriate punishment; reinstating property in security, and lifting up once more—God be praised!—the character of that noble English peasantry to the proud eminence where, but for the Poor Laws, it would still have shone untarnished, the admiration of mankind, and the glory of the country which boasts it as its brightest ornament.Now, I ask the House of Commons — I ask England — have these pledges been redeemed? What, let me ask, has been the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners? — an open defiance of those solemn pledges. Have they refused to enforce this law in "well-regulated parishes?" Have they taken well-regulated parishes as "their example" in enforcing the law elsewhere. No; but they have trampled under foot the rights, the liberties, and the privileges of the people of England. How has your "uniformity of practice" been carried out? Has that been enforced throughout the country? Why, I want no other evidence than that of the hon. Baronet himself (Sir J. Graham), who, in this House, after this law had been five years in existence, was obliged to bear testimony to its utter failure, and to the breaking down of all "uniformity of practice" in the granting of out-door relief, and in the allowance system. On the 20th of July, 1839, the right hon. Baronet said:—He had been Chairman of a Board of Guardians. He had seen the practical working of this measure, having for four years watched it with the greatest possible anxiety. In the Union with which he was connected, there was a large body of handloom weavers, 710 and he did not hesitate to say, during the last winter it would have been utterly impossible to have conducted the affairs of that Union without relief, though sparingly administered, and with great caution, to the able-bodied labourer. The noble Lord said what was true, that there was very great danger lest the administration of relief, even in such special circumstances, and in kind, should relapse into all the evils of the former system.He said also,The law contemplated that on a given day the refusal of out-door relief throughout England and Wales should be general. … This rule prohibiting out-door relief, so far from being general throughout England, was, he must say, somewhat capriciously applied. It was applied to certain Unions in the south, but in the north the rule was not in operation. In Cumberland, in the Union of which he was chairman, they were bound by no such regulation. An ample discretion was left them; they were not fettered in the least; and if they had not been left to the exercise of this unfettered discretion, he was bound to say that he should not have held himself responsible for the conduct of that Union.Here is a wholesale breaking of the pledges given when this blessed New Poor Law was introduced into the House of Commons. And what said Sir Robert Peel on the 8th of February, 1841. He said,—It was in the hope and in the belief that a new test would improve the condition of the labourer himself, and that it would teach him the happiness and pride of an independent position, that he had consented to the alteration in the law.The "independent position" of the labourer of the present day! Why, Sir, the "independent position" of the labourer of the present day is beggary, starvation, and a gaol. I see in the House the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell), and I wish to bear to his face the testimony which I have borne behind his back, that the way in which he adhered to the New Poor Law, previous to the last general election, was both manly and honourable. There is no doubt but that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government sits on that Bench, placed there by the New Poor Law cry throughout the country. Ay, it was fanned into a blaze by the Conservative party at the last general election, and fanned too by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department. I have not forgotten reading the speech of that right hon. Baronet, and the First Lord of the Treasury, when they abused the Poor Law 711 Commissioners for their disgraceful language, in declaring that the New Poor Law was to put a stop to alms-giving in this country. The First Lord of the Treasury raised his hands in horror at such inhumanity, and appealed to Heaven if such language ought to have been used; and these sentiments were re-echoed by his Colleague, and widely circulated in the north of England. But what said the noble Lord the Member for London, when he saw these right hon. Gentlemen breaking their pledges which they had privately and publicly given, to stand by the New Poor Law, whichever party was in power. On the Motion of the hon. Member for Sussex (Mr. Darby) to allow out-door relief to persons who had married before the passing of the Act, and had families, the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) said,—He considered it to be at variance with every other clause in the New Poor Law Act. It was a renewal of the worst part of the old system — the allowance system. It would expose the new law to universal relaxation, and would in that respect alone be productive of the most pernicious consequences. It would create great dissatisfaction among the labourers, as it would divide them into two distinct classes, one of which would be entitled to relief out of the workhouse, and the other not, and that, too, without the slightest reference either to the goodness or the worthlessness of their character. By the cogency of such arguments, and by the want of uniformity thus created in the system of Poor Laws, the House would be compelled to break down by degrees all the efficiency of the present law.Sir, the House has "by degrees broken down all the efficiency" of that law. The New Poor Law is a dead letter; there is not such a thing in existence. There is one law in the north, another law in the south, another in the east, and another in the west. There is one law carried out in one Union by the Duke of This, and another in the next Union by Lord That; and the practice varies with the extent to which the Commissioners have ground the guardians into submission. The whole law is a farce. The noble Lord the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord G. Somerset), hearing that speech of the noble Member for London, jumped up and—Expressed his intention to support the Clause. So far was he from being willing to extend the authority of the Commissioners, that he had every desire to abridge it; for he 712 would tell the noble Lord that he had no confidence whatever in the Poor Law Commissioners.There were other Cabinet Ministers not then within these walls who have expressed themselves to be adverse to this law; and I remember being in this House during the last Session of Parliament when there were either eight or nine Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench, who had either obtained their seats by violently abusing this law upon the hustings, or had spoken strongly against it in this House. I ask the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) whether Lord Althorp's solemn pledge has been kept, that as a general rule a man was not to be separated from his wife, or a child from its mother, nor paupers to have their heads shaved, or be compelled to wear badges? And I know that these indignities and insults have done more to arouse the spirit of disloyalty and dissaffection among the masses in this country, than all the other evils put together which have been heaped upon them under the administration of this law. Have you not continued the allowance system?—You have; in the north of England you have been compelled to do it. You are enforcing the out-door labour test at Bradford; but the day will come when you will bitterly repent it; and you are not enforcing it at Leeds, a few miles off. Well might the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) say, that this difference of treatment would "create great dissatisfaction among the labourers." Is it not disgusting that a law is now in force in England, which on one side of a brook treats the labourer with apparent consideration, and on the other with cold-blooded inhumanity? But Lord Althorp assured the country, when he introduced the measure, that wages would rise. What are the wages in the country now? Why, your labouring man in the agricultural districts is well off, if he obtain 7s. a week! Has the Poor Law raised wages, and redeemed that pledge? But I come to more startling facts. We were told by Lord Brougham that the New Poor Law was to eradicate poverty, to reduce the poor rates! I find by a Return I hold in my hand (the Poor Law Commissioners' Tenth Report) that the population of England and Wales in 1841 was 15,906,829. And now let the House listen to the following Returns, remembering that 1842 and 1843 have been good years in the 713 manufacturing districts. The numbers relieved were—In 1842, in-door, 222,642; out-door, 1,204,545. Total, 1,427,187. The cost—Of the in-door, 934,158l.; of the out-door, 3,090,884l. Total, 4,025,042l. In 1843 — In-door, 238,560; out-door, 1,300,930. Total, 1,539,490. Cost—In-door, 958,057l.; out-door, 3,321,508l. Total, 4,279,565l. The increase of 1843 over 1844 being—In-door, 15,918 in number, and 23,899l. in cost; out-door, 96,385 in number, and 230,624l. in cost. Total, 112,303 in number, and 254,523l. in cost. Again, the parochial rates levied were—In 1834, 8,338,079l.; in 1837, being the minimum expenditure under the New Poor Law, 5,294,566l.; in 1843, 7,085,595l.; showing an increase in 1843 over 1837, of 1,891,029l., and a decrease of 1843, as compared with 1834, of 1,252,484l. There was expended in relief—in 1834, 6,317,255l.; in 1837, 4,044,741l.; in 1843, 5,208,027l.; showing an increase in 1843 over 1837 of 1,163,286l. and a decrease of 1843, as compared with 1834, of 1,109,228l. I now wish to call the attention of the House to the expenditure of parochial rates otherwise than for the relief of the poor. In 1834 the expenditure otherwise than for the relief of the poor was 2,020,714l.; in 1837, it was 1,249,852l.; in 1843, it was 1,877,568l.; giving an increase of such expenditure in 1843 over 1837 of 627,716l., whilst the decrease in 1843 over 1834 is only 143,146l. That is the result of your attempt to save the poor-rates of this country! Sir, I call the attention of the House to the price at which you have obtained this result. Lord Brougham, in moving the second reading of the Poor Law Amendment Bill in the House of Lords, gave a picture of the blessings which were to flow from this law. It would eradicate crime, it would put down poverty and pauperism, and prevent the noble Lord himself from becoming a Cumberland pauper. What is now the state of crime in England and Wales? I will read to the House an extract from the statistics compiled by Mr. Redgrave, from the Records of the Home Office, where the right hon. Baronet may see them tomorrow if he pleases. I have extracted them from the British Almanack for 1845, of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Lord Brougham Chairman of the Committee. The amount of crime as evidenced by the commitments in 1836, was 20,984; in 1837, it was 23,612; in 714 1838, 23,094; in 1839, 24,443; in 1840, 27,187; in 1841, 27,760; in 1842, 31,309; in 1843, 29,591. The result is, that the increase of crime in 1842 over 1836 is 10,325, being six years after the New Poor Law came into operation. The increase in 1843 over 1836 is 8,607. I ask, again, has the New Poor Law diminished crime? This is a startling result, and must enforce conviction. I have made an extract from this book of the nature of the crimes, and there is a long catalogue of attempts to murder, unnatural crimes, rapes, robberies with violence, robberies attended with wounds, arsons, and other frightful offences; with a long enumeration of commitments for cattle stealing, horse stealing, sheep stealing, larceny in dwelling-houses, coining, forgery, and housebreaking, subsequent to the repeal, in 1832, of capital punishment for those offences. For the years 1830, 1831, 1832, the average was 1,444 commitments for offences of this description; in 1843, the total number of commitments was 1,735, making an increase in 1843 over the average of those three years, of 291. This increase has wholly taken place since the New Poor Law came into operation. In 1838, the repeal of capital punishment for attempts to murder and maim, for burglary, robbery, and arson, took place. The average number of commitments for those offences in the three years 1835, 1836, and 1837, was 807; in 1843, the total number of commitments was 1,696, or an increase of 889 over the average of those three years; that is to say, more than double the average of those three years were committed for these offences in 1843. But is that all that has occurred under the operation of the Law? Why, instead of a decrease, there is a frightful increase of crime; so much so, that you are obliged to have an extra winter assize to sweep off from the face of the public the monstrous mass. At the last York winter assizes, on the 29th of November ult., hear what Judge Coleridge said in his charge to the grand jury:—Another cause for a winter assize, he lamented to say, must be considered to be the steady increase of crime throughout the country and in their own county; that increase, too, being not so much observable in crimes of a petty nature, as in those of a more serious character. Within the last eight years, the number of prisoners had nearly doubled in their own county; and, though it was true that 715 the population had increased, that the police were more efficient than formerly, and that capital punishment had in a great measure been removed, yet he did not think that it was possible, by the application of those facts, satisfactorily to explain away the great incubus which seemed to hang over them.Here, then, we have this fact, that crime in the county of York has doubled during the last eight years. That is the period during which the New Poor Law has been in operation in Yorkshire. That is the result which the law which was to put a stop to crime has produced in my native county! Good God! what can the right hon. Baronet say in justification of this frightful state of things? Have you one word to say? You have rebellion in the north — you have incendiarism in the south — and rebellion again in Wales, Staring you in the face, as the result of this law; and how are you to justify this state of things to the people of Rochdale? They will tell you that if, in spite of all this evidence against your law, you will persist in forcing it on them, you will have to take the same course as you adopted in Bradford—you will have to draw the bayonet and cut down the populace; but the feeling of the people of England, depend upon it, will be raised against any attempt to force this law upon the people of Rochdale in defiance of every constitutional principle, and in defiance of every feeling of justice. The right hon. Baronet declared the other night that there are 1,500,000 paupers, in England and Wales, existing on the poor rates. The right hon. Baronet also declared that the agricultural labourers are in a state of poverty which we can no longer with safety neglect. Sir, Lord Brougham said, in the speech to which I have alluded, that the time was when the English peasant dreaded the word "pauper" next to that of "felon." Sir, now the time is come when the British peasant flies from the precincts of an Union workhouse, exclaiming in wild despair—The workhouse! No!A gaol, a gaol for me!I told you that, under the operation of this law, you had wrapped the south in flames; that you had produced a rebellion in the north; and the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) has himself declared that it produced the rebellion in Wales. But this is not all; infanticide has frightfully increased wherever the New Poor Law is 716 enforced, and there is scarcely a week passes but the hon. Gentleman opposite, as Coroner for Middlesex, has to hold an inquest on some poor victim of the system, who has died of famine. That crime is steadily on the increase: you have the evidence of a Judge on the Bench; and the extra winter assize which you have established shows that you admit this to be the case. I would quote the language of Lords Brougham and Grey in support of the conduct of the people of Rochdale, but I am unwilling to detain the House at this very late hour; but if the House will permit me, I will read to them from a speech of the First Lord of the Treasury what he said on the attempts to introduce this law into well-regulated parishes. This was just before a general election, when the right hon. Baronet was courting popular favour. On the 26th of March, 1841, the right hon. Baronet said—"He had always thought, that where there were immense masses of population well governed under Local Acts, it would not be found expedient to place them under the control of the Commissioners." That was just before the general election; but now that he is firmly seated on the Treasury Bench, with his majority at his back, what can be say to justify his present course? Sir, he must eat his words. It will not be the first time he has done so. I will also read to the House the opinion entertained of this law by Lord Chief Baron Pollock, who was an ornament to this House whilst he was in it, and now graces the Bench on which he sits. I hope, therefore, the House will allow me to repeat to them what Lord Chief Baron Pollock has said on this subject; and he was a man whom all the inducements of the Government could not drag up to the Table to say one word in favour of this law. He said, at the same time that the speech of the right hon. Baronet was delivered — "Great complaints had been made of the Poor Law generally."…."A Bill which might be good for the north might be injurious to the south. The evil which he and others complained of was, the attempt made by the Commissioners to introduce the same law into every parish in the kingdom, without reference to local circumstances which might act in modifying the operation of that law." That was the opinion of Sir F. Pollock. You must prove what I have this night asserted to be incorrect; if you 717 do not, how can you dare to introduce this law into Rochdale, with all the frightful evils which it has produced? You have sown the wind, and more than once you have reaped the whirlwind. A foreign foe may come: if you appeal to the people of England, will they answer you? At the bidding of their Sovereign, when England was threatened with invasion by a foreign foe during the French Revolution, the people rose in one mighty phalanx, bristling with bayonets ready to be turned against the foe, and formed an impregnable barrier on the shore of their native land, Appeal again to them, and you will find them disaffected and disloyal. ["No, no."] You have made them so. I repeat—appeal to them in your perils, and you will find them disaffected and disloyal. Are the agricultural labourers distressed? What makes them so but your tyranny? Treat them as your forefathers did, and so raise them to what they were before the introduction of the New Poor Law, and they will return to their ancient nature and their wonted loyalty,—they will easily forget and forgive, and be again a loyal people.
§ Sir J. Graham
said: I have now listened to the addresses of the hon. Member for Rochdale on this subject several times, and on all those occasions I never failed to testify the respect for him which I have always felt; but on this occasion I perhaps may be permitted to advert to a practice—in order to prevent its being made a precedent — which the hon. Member has adopted, and which is very inconvenient,—I allude to the practice of deliberately putting upon the Order Book of the House the form of a Motion which an hon. Member gives notice he shall submit, and then at the last moment varying materially his terms of the Motion which he actually makes to the House. I certainly came down to the House thinking that we were to discuss the question whether we should hear counsel at the Bar on behalf of the people of Rochdale, according to the Notice of Motion of the hon. Gentleman; but now I find that the hon. Gentleman has altered his Motion and asks for a Select Committee. Sir, the hon. Member has shown very great industry in the elaborate speech he has made to the House; I have given it all the attention which is due to the hon. Member's station and to the importance of the borough he represents; but he must permit me to say that I have 718 not heard, in the whole of that speech, one new argument or one new topic. I must be permitted further to observe, that the hon. Gentleman's speech is a speech against the existing Poor Law; it was well calculated to preface a Motion for leave to bring in a Bill to repeal that law, or at all events to introduce some Motion for a substantial Amendment of the existing law. The hon. Member said, this was not a local question; but he must pardon me for observing that his speech and his Motion owe their origin altogether to a dispute of a local nature. The hon. Gentleman made many injurious remarks, but it is evident that he has no practical acquaintance with the law. He talks of the Bill of Rights—of the rights of the people of England, and says, that the able-bodied poor are entitled to some relief in aid of their wages; yet the hon. Gentleman's experience on this claim of right in his own part of the country amounts to nothing. There destitution does not entitle the labourer to relief in aid of wages; there property is not compelled to pay the slightest dole by way of rate in aid of wages. Here, it is true, we live under a different law; but when the hon. Gentleman lectures us on our law, it would be well if he understood and attended to those habits of the people which modify the law. But to come to the subject of the Motion: as early as the year 1837, the Poor Law was first began to be carried into operation at Rochdale, and a Board of Guardians was constituted; they exercised various rights; they appointed a clerk, a surgeon, a registrar of births and marriages, and fixed the salaries to those situations; they have dismissed officers they thought not altogether worthy, and they have exercised several acts of power as a Board of Guardians from 1837 down to the present time. A general law was passed for the administration of relief throughout the whole of England and Wales. There are some exceptions in the Gilbert Unions and Local Acts, where the provisions of the Poor Law are not carried into effect; but Rochdale is not one of these cases. In Rochdale there is neither a Gilbert Union nor a Local Act. The hon. Member asked me if I would consent to any particular inquiry with reference to the poor of Rochdale. I have already told the hon. Member that the provisions of the New Poor Law have been partially carried into execution there for five years. At present, the course of the administration of his Poor Law at Roch- 719 dale is a question for adjudication in the Courts of Law. A mandamus has been moved for to compel the Board of Guardians to execute the law and be responsible for the relief of the poor. In that district the law is now inoperative from the resistance of the Board of Guardians. The Guardians are bound to execute the law, and it is my duty to see the law carried into execution. There has been resistance to the law; an appeal has been made to the Commissioners, and a mandamus has been issued and served on the Rochdale Board of Guardians to compel their obedience. They have refused submission, and made a return to that mandamus. At this moment the Crown has traversed to that return, and an issue is to be tried at the Liverpool Assizes. That issue being about to be tried within a fortnight, it would be unbecoming in the House, under such circumstances, to enter into the question. Certainly, at this hour of the morning I do not wish to detain the House further on a question which is purely a local one, and which is awaiting the judgment of the proper tribunal.
§ Mr. Bright
said, he was a ratepayer of the parish, and was acquainted with the circumstances under which this memorial had been raised. He could bear the fullest testimony to what had been said by the hon. Member for Rochdale, that there was a common dislike to the introduction of the New Poor Law. The right hon. Baronet said quite truly that there was no Poor Law in operation there, save the general law for the relief of the poor, and that law was in abeyance at this time; ninety-nine persons out of every one hundred in that parish were more or less hostile to the introduction of the law: and more than that, there was a general feeling among those who paid the rates, that the interests of the poor and of the ratepayers had been very well and wisely attended to by the vestries under which the old law was carried out. He said this with perfect impartiality, for he was one of fourteen who did not sign the petition presented to the House, and he had not in any way encouraged the opposition to the law. But he was bound to say, that among all classes of the people there was but one feeling with regard to its introduction; all had a very excusable attachment to the old forms of local government and a dislike to the government of the Commissioners. They 720 had some occasion to be afraid of the Commissioners; for, although in some cases their authority had been useful, never was any law of great importance carried into execution with a more total disregard of the feelings of the people and of the circumstances under which the law was to be applied, than had been shown by the Poor Law Commissioners who had the direction of this great measure.
§ Captain Pechell
regretted that the right hon. Baronet had almost repeated the same words as he had used when the hon. Member for Rochdale opposed the second reading of the Poor Law Bill. The law proceedings which were going on, gave no ground for rejecting the Motion. These parties had now come before the House to state the grievances they complained of. Although a local question, it was one in which all places not under the power of the Commissioners had a right to join, because it would not be very long after the wedge was introduced before every place now under Local Acts would be placed under the power of the Poor Law Commissioners. In all these places, wherever the New Poor Law had been attempted to be introduced, the people were united in resisting it. The people actually preferred going to prison rather than be detained in the workhouses. What a lamentable picture did the Report of the visiting justices of the town of Devizes present! Paupers had been sent to that prison not decent as to their clothing, or in a fit state of health; and the visiting Justices had made a report by their chief magistrate, that people were sent to prison in a state of destitution, and that they committed crime in order to get into prison. The right hon. Gentleman no doubt thought it right to give no reason for the refusal of the Motion, because a mandamus had been issued. But the Guardians would resist that mandamus, and there was not a Guardian who was not prepared to go to gaol rather than give way. He appealed to any Gentleman from that part of the country if that was not the feeling. He had no doubt they would be able to pay their way, and defeat the Poor Law Commissioners in the Court of Queen's Bench.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
supported the Motion. He had always considered this a most oppressive law, and interfering unnecessarily with the rights of the poor. He 721 did not agree with the hon. Member for Knaresborough in one expression which he had used with regard to the disloyalty of the people. He was one who thought that Englishmen would be Englishmen under every trial, and that the poor would suffer any hardships rather than be disloyal. He hoped that the Poor Law Commission would be done away with altogether, and a vast amount of useless expense be saved.
said: If the hon. Member for Rochdale divided the House on the Motion, he would vote in its favour. He was convinced that the feelings of the people of this country had been very materially changed by the Poor Law; and the longer it was continued, oppressive as it was in its operation, the more extensive would be the evils it produced. It could not be denied that the New Poor Law had failed to effect every object for which it was intended. Had it increased the rate of wages?—had it improved the condition of the labourer?—had it raised the morality of the country?—had it reduced the amount of rates? He was not aware that it had benefited any one, except the officers of the Unions, who absorbed a very considerable portion of the money which ought to be applied to the relief of the poor. He thought it must be evident to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), that whatever evils existed under the old law, the New Poor Law had effected no improvement; and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues would turn their attention to the subject, and remove the administration of the Poor Law from the rule of the Commissioners. The law was daily becoming more unpopular mong all classes; it had long been obnaoxiousto the poor, and now it was becoming equally obnoxious to the ratepayers themselves. He hoped some alteration might be made which would reconcile the poor to the operation of the law.
§ Mr. Borthwick
would not detain the House longer than to state his reasons for voting for the Motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) had said tonight—what he was in the habit of telling them when questions of this nature were under discussion—that, after all the labour and attention devoted to the subject by the hon. Member for Rochdale, he had not said anything new. He would admit that the speeches of the right hon. Baro- 722 net and his Friends did not possess this characteristic; for the grounds on which they defended this law were most variable and diverse. He would remind the right hon. Baronet that truth was ever old, and altogether unchangeable, and that those who were her advocates—if really and truly her advocates—must repeat the same things year after year. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would vote for this Motion; he certainly ought to do so, and he would tell the right hon. Gentleman why. The right hon. Baronet asserted that the old law did not work so well as the New Poor Law. Then, let them have the Report of the Committee proposed by his hon. Friend opposite, on the working of the simple old Poor Law in Rochdale; and let them compare the condition of that place with those districts of England where the New Poor Law had been introduced, and was in operation.
§ Mr. Entwisle
thought the petition of the inhabitants of Rochdale scarcely received proper respect when it was considered in so thin a House, and treated so lightly. He would give his support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Rochdale; for the instances adduced in that House had fully evidenced the hardship of the Poor Law, and the horror with which it was regarded by the great mass of the people. He would appeal to the right hon. Baronet whether so strong a feeling of opposition and dislike, exhibited by so large a proportion of the population, ought to be disregarded.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 16; Noes 59: Majority 43.
|List of the AYES.|
|Ainsworth, P.||Morris, D.|
|Blake, M. J.||O'Conor Don|
|Borthwick, P.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Duncombe, T.||Pechell, Capt,|
|Entwisle, W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Escott, B.||Williams, W.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Johnson, Gen.||Ferrand, B.|
|Manners, Lord J.||Crawford, S.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Bowring, Dr.|
|Alford, Visct.||Brotherton, J.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Bruce, Lord E.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.|
|Baird, W.||Cardwell, E.|
|Baring, rt. hn. W. B.||Clayton, R. R.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Clerk, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Bowles, A.||Compton, H. C.|
|Corry, rt. hem. H.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Denison, E. B.||Neville, R.|
|Dickinson, hon. H.||Newry, Visct.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Forbes, W.||Packe, C. W.|
|Gaskell, J. M.||Patten, J. W.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Plumptre, J. P.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Praed, W. T.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Pringle, A.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Shaw, rt. hon. F.|
|Greenhall, P.||Smith, rt. hon. T. B. C.|
|Hale, R. B.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Hamilton, W. J.||Stuart, H.|
|Hope, G. W.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Hussey, T.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Hutt, W.||Trotter, J.|
|Jermyn, Earl||Vivian, J. E.|
|Legh, G. C.||Warburton, H.|
|Lincoln, Earl of||Wawn, J. T.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Wood, Col. T.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Young, J.|
|Maxwell, hon. J. P.||Lennox, Lord A.|
§ House adjourned at one o'clock.