§ MR. J. E. DENISON
rose to move an Instruction to the Committee to make provision for the establishment of union settlements; and was proceeding to state his reasons for asking the consent of the House to the proposition, when
§ MR. T. DUNCOMBE
rose to order. He had always understood that it was a rule of the House, that it was not competent for any Member to move an instruction to a Committee when the object in view could be gained in Committee, which he thought was the case in this instance. The question of the hon. Member could be raised in Committee, both as to the title and provisions 42 of the Bill. The Bill was entitled "A Bill to consolidate and amend the Laws relating to the Removal of the Poor." It proposed to repeal certain former Acts relating to the removal of the poor; and by the sixth Clause it was proposed to be enacted that every person who had become chargeable to any parish or union in which he was not settled should be liable to be removed therefrom to any parish in which he was settled; so that there would be ample opportunity for discussing the point the hon. Member for Malton had in view. If it was necessary to move an instruction to the Committee on the point the hon. Member was going to urge, they would never have a single Bill without an instruction being moved from that day forward.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Finsbury has quite correctly stated the practice of the House, that it is not competent for a Member to move an instruction to a Committee when it is competent for the Committee itself to entertain his Motion; but I am of opinion that, in the present case, it is necessary for the hon. Member for Malton to move his instruction in order to enable the Committee to entertain the subject.
§ MR. BANKES
would not venture to offer any observation upon the point which had just been raised after what had fallen from the Chair; but, in another respect, he ventured to object to the hon. Member for Malton having precedence on the present occasion. It would be in the recollection of the House that it was distinctly understood, when they allowed the Bill to be read a second time without discussion, that at the present stage of the Bill there should be a discussion on the whole principle of the Bill; and, undoubtedly, if they allowed the present opportunity to pass, another might not arise. If the hon. Member for Malton succeeded in his Motion, the opportunity of discussing the principle might be lost. Waving, therefore, for a moment, the point raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury, he submitted whether he ought not to have, on the ground he had already stated, precedence over the hon. Member for Malton. His right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would, he was sure, bear him out, that when they last parted, it was distinctly understood that an opportunity was to be afforded for making observations on the principle of the Bill. It was upon that understanding that the Bill had been allowed to reach its present stage.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, nothing could be more accurate than the statement of his hon. Friend, that the second reading had been allowed to pass without discussion, on the distinct understanding that it would be open to any hon. Member to discuss the principle at the next stage of the Bill. With respect to the point raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury, he begged to remind the House, that as the Bill now stood, its principle was strictly limited to the removal of poor settled in England. The hon. Member for Malton, however, was anxious to introduce into the Bill another most important principle, one immediately connected with the removal of the poor—namely, an alteration to a limited extent of the law of settlement. After what had fallen from the Speaker, it was not for him to offer any observation on the right of the hon. Member to move that instruction; but he thought it would be better that the hon. Member should proceed now, because, if he succeeded in obtaining the assent of the House to his proposed instruction, it would be in vain to discuss the measure as it now stood—the whole Bill must be remodelled, and he should have to ask the House to go into Committee pro formâ, in order that the Bill might be altered in some most important particulars.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, this case afforded another proof of the inconvenience of allowing the second readings of Bills to pass sub silentio; for, if the hon. Member for Malton succeeded, the time would be gone by for any discussion on the principle of the Bill. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet say that the law of settlement was not included in this Bill. To say so was really to throw dust in the eyes of the public. Why, it would much better have been called a Settlement Bill than a Removal Bill. He repeated that, in common fairness, there ought te be a discussion on the principle of the Bill.
§ MR. DUNCOMBE
asked whether, if the object of this Bill was to prevent the removal, under certain conditions, of persons who had a settlement elsewhere, such a provision did not, in fact, raise the question of the law of settlement?
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
was understood to say, that although the Bill provided that a person, after a five years' residence, should not be removable, yet that provision did not touch the settlement of such a party in the least degree. A party so non-removable still retained his settlement, which was not affected.
LORD J. RUSSELL
agreed with the hon. Member for Oxfordshire that it was more convenient in general to discuss the principle of a Bill on the second reading, and reserve for the next stage the questions properly belonging to it. But he did not see that the hon. Member would now be precluded from making any objection to the Bill which he might think proper. The right hon. Baronet said if the instruction were carried, the Bill would have to be remodelled, and it would then be a comparatively new Bill. If the hon. Member for Malton should fail, however, it would then be quite competent to the hon. Member for Oxfordshire to take an opportunity of obtaining a night for the discussion of the general principle of the Bill.
§ MR. J. E. DENISON
was most anxious in every way to consult the convenience of the House; and he had only given his notice in accordance with the advice of the Speaker. He begged altogether to disclaim any intention of getting rid of this measure by his proposed instruction, as had been suggested by his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury. Nothing could be further from his thoughts, as he was most anxious for the success of the measure, if accompanied by certain modifications, without which it appeared to him not to deserve the support of the House. He thought that it would be more convenient for the House to discuss his Motion before discussing the principle of the Bill, because, as the right hon. Baronet had told them, if the instructions were agreed to, the Bill would have to be remodelled, and the previous discussion of the principle would then have been a waste of time. He would, therefore, with the leave of the House, proceed. In the first place, some confusion arose from the title of the Bill. It professed to be a Bill for the removal of the poor; yet its first principle, they were told, was non-removability—a word not known to the English language, and which he hoped he would not have occasion to use a second time in that House. It was also said to be a Bill which did not affect the law of settlement, but it certainly did incidentally affect all who paid and who received poor-rates. It was introduced as a measure which was to be serviceable to the country districts, as regarded great towns. It was introduced at the same time as the Corn Bill, and was received with much approbation by hon. Members who sat on the Government side of the House. Now, as to this question between the town and country 45 districts, he proposed to raise no discussion; but as between different districts and parishes of the country, it did appear to him that the measure would work very great injustice. This was the subject he wished more especially to bring under the notice of the House. What were some of the chief evils under which the labouring poor now suffered? Bad cottages and too few of them. Many people were crowded together in rooms too small, and too often in single rooms, to the utter destruction of health and morals. The same evils had been brought under the notice of Parliament by Lord Ashley, as existing in the great towns of the manufacturing districts. That noble Lord said, that the state of the labouring population in those towns was the monster evil of this country. Would that the same reproach could not be cast on the rural districts, as regarded the condition of the labouring poor! It was in vain to take steps to ameliorate the condition of the people, it was in vain to vote money for their education and improvement, to build school-houses and appoint schoolmasters, if the scholar on his return home each day saw examples stronger than any precept, and far opposed to the instruction he had just received as to order, cleanliness, and morality. But the House had higher authority than his for those statements: they had the authority of their own Commission, to which they would naturally be disposed to pay attention and respect. A Commission was appointed to inquire into the employment of women and children in the agricultural districts in 1843, and he would read a few extracts from their Report and evidence. With reference to the state of the people in Wilts, Dorset, Devon, and Somerset, they said—It is impossible not to be struck, in visiting the dwellings of the agricultural labourers, with the general want of new cottages, notwithstanding the universal increase of population. Everywhere the cottages are old, and frequently in a state of decay, and are consequently ill-adapted for their increased number of inmates of late years. The want of sufficient accommodation seems universal; a great many cottages have only one bed-room; the consequence is that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to divide a family so that grown-up persons of different sexes do not sleep in the same room; three or four persons frequently sleep in the same bed.The next passage of the evidence was one to which he would pray the most particular attention of the House, for it was of the very greatest importance:—The want of proper accommodation exists in 46 the large villages rather than in detached cottages on the farms; the more immoral women come from these villages; the steady and better are from the detached cottages.The Rev. J. Guthrie expressly says—The want of good cottages, where the members of a family can live separate, is a great cause of demoralization: where grown-up members of the same family are continually occupying the same room, modesty and delicacy and sense of shame are soon put to flight; where these are absent, and dirt and disorder take their place, a gradual declension in good morals and character succeeds, and the whole family sink perceptibly to a lower grade in character and conduct.Mr. H. Phelps, contrasting two districts of Studley and Foxton, says—In Studley I found twenty-nine people living under one roof, amongst them married men and women, and young people of nearly all ages. In Studley it is common for a whole family to sleep in the same room. In Foxton things are different. The people in Foxton are much more moral, orderly, and better disposed. The wages are the same, and the employment the same. I attribute the difference to the circumstance of each family in Foxton occupying a separate tenement, with sufficient accommodation, while this is hardly ever the case in Studley.He would only trouble the House with one more extract respecting the working of the gang system. The example was from the county of Norfolk:—Castle Acre is what is called an open parish—that is, in the hands of a considerable number of proprietors, while the neighbouring parishes are each owned by one or two (or very few) proprietors. These last, partly in order to prevent an increase of birth settlement, and to keep down the rates, partly from an unwillingness to invest money in cottage property, not only allow no new cottages to be built, but let the old ones fall into ruin. The resident population of these parishes is thereby gradually reduced, as the labourers are forced to quit them and come to reside in Castle Acre. Thus, while in the adjoining parishes there are not hands enough left to cultivate the soil, Castle Acre is overstocked with inhabitants that do not properly belong to it, and who are, generally speaking, the worst characters of the parishes from whence they come. The competition caused by the new comers raises the house-rent throughout the parish; and as they are at the mercy of those who have land at Castle Acre, they are forced to pay exorbitant rents for very wretched dwellings. Forty-nine labourers' families belong to Castle Acre, 103 families belong to other parishes. Suppose a farmer in or near Castle Acre wishes to have a particular piece of work done which will demand a number of hands, he applies to a gang master at Castle Acre, who contracts to do the work and furnish the labour. He accordingly gets together as many hands as he thinks sufficient, and sends them in a gang to their place of work. If the work, as usually happens, is such that it can be done by women and children as well as men, the gang is in that case composed of persons of both sexes and of all ages. The system is essentially bad, productive of immorality, and attended with much hardship. The poor man, under the gang master, 47 works as hard as if he was doing piecework, but gets only day wages. Those who first, unintentionally and unknowingly caused the mischief, can alone cure it—I mean the neighbouring landowners. If these 103 stranger families, who now swell the amount of crime and misery at Castle Acre, were living in their own parishes, subject to the control of their landlords, aided by their care and kindness, guided by their example, benefited by that chance contact with persons of birth, education, and station, which indirectly tend to civilize; influenced, too, by that sense of shame which keeps many a man straight at home who, in a far country, would be a prodigal, Castle Acre would not be reproached as 'the cross of all the scrapings of the county,' and it would no longer be what it now is, the most miserable rural parish I ever saw anywhere.A system most prejudicial to the labourer prevailed in some parts of Yorkshire, and particularly near the town he represented. In the large parishes in the Wolds, the cottages were so much destroyed, that the labourers are obliged to resort to the small towns for shelter along with their wives and families. The farmer, however, who required his labourer near at hand, said that it would be too inconvenient to permit him to live a great way off, and so put him into some stable or loft to sleep for five nights in the week, while he paid his wages partly in money and partly in food. The consequence was, that the man was separated from his family, and those wages which would support him and them in comparative comfort, if living together, proved very inadequate to their maintenance when separated. From that system he was convinced that evils of the most grave and serious nature arose—evils which would be aggravated in every way by the present Bill; which seemed to him calculated to extend them to a most alarming degree. But some might say, his objection only applied to a few cases; that the close parishes, in the hands of one or two proprietors, were few in number. If indeed the proportion of close to open parishes were very small, the matter might not be worth consideration; but it so happened that he had taken the trouble to inquire into this point, and he found that the close parishes and the open parishes, taking the country through, were nearly equal. Thus there were in South well Union, 60 parishes; 28 close, 32 open. Loughborough Union, 23 parishes; 12 close, 11 open. Shardlow Union, 46 parishes; 23 close, 23 open. Basford Union, 43 parishes; 21 close, 20 open, two doubtful. Malton Union, 68 parishes; 31 close, 37 open; Norfolk (Tunstead and Happing, Hundred), 41 parishes; 20 close or nearly so, 21 open. The result, then, 48 of his inquiries proved, that the two classes of parishes were about equal, and the effect would be that one half the parishes would have to support the poor of the other half, who would be entirely thrown on them for maintenance. In looking for a remedy to these evils, it occurred to him that a change from a parish to a union settlement would be the most effectual and most advantageous—such a change would remove the main inducement to pull down cottages, and would rather have a tendency the contrary way; because if the landed proprietor were compelled to support the poor and destitute of the union, whether they resided in his parish or in an adjoining one, it was manifest that his interest would induce him to take advantage of their labour and strength in their better days, and provide residences for them in his immediate neighbourhood, that he might have the value of their labour. It struck him that the measure recently under consideration to repeal the Corn Laws would have no unimportant effect on this question. They were told that the change in the law would waken a thousand farmers from their sleep. When those farmers had aroused them from their slumbers, they would see that the first thing which demanded their attention was the question of labour, and the condition of the labourer: they would find that he often had to walk four or five miles to his work in the morning, and return as many every night; though any practical man among them would know that the profitable cultivation of his land would be impossible if his stables were four or five miles off, and if his cart horses were to go and come all that distance to and from their work. Could they expect to withdraw from men a degree of labour which they knew was impossible to be obtained from horses? Many farmers, he believed, in making arrangements with their landlords, would prefer having cottages built for their labourers to the diminution of rents. He believed if the Bill were to pass, and these resolutions received the favourable consideration of the House, the antagonist principles which now prevailed between interest and duty would be happily reconciled, and the landlord would no longer have any inducement to get rid of the labouring man. So far from that being the case, an opposite tendency would be produced, most useful to the labourer, and advantageous to the cultivators of land. It would be objected to his resolution, he knew, that to adopt it would involve an interference with the old parochial 49 system. Now, for the ancient principles of our institutions—for anything which produced feelings of contentment and good will between the employer and the employed—he entertained the highest and most sincere respect; but if the House were to consider the difference which existed between the state of things in the present day, and those which prevailed when the parochial system was established, he thought they would see that it was pushing our respect for antiquity to an extreme limit, to refuse under such altered circumstances a consideration of his proposal, and to insist on maintaining things as they are, merely because they have long so existed. Let them look to the preamble of 13 and 14 Chas. II., cap. 12, which established the parochial system, and they would find the following words:—Whereas, by reason of some defects in the law, poor people are not restrained from going from one parish to another, and therefore do endeavour to settle themselves in those parishes where there is the best stock, the largest commons or wastes to build cottages, and the most wood for them to burn and destroy; and when they have consumed it, then to another parish, and at last become rogues and vagabonds, to the great discouragement of parishes to provide stocks, where it is liable to be discovered by strangers.It was then, the principle of law that labourers should be confined to their particular districts; but at present it was desirable to provide for the free circulation of labour, so as to equalize as much as possible the demand with the supply. There was generally a redundancy of labour in the agricultural districts, whilst it was deficient in the towns; and it would be carrying respect for ancient systems very far indeed if we were to keep up the parochial establishment which interfered with the distribution of labour. It was under the parochial system that these evils had increased and grown up, and that these antagonist feelings between the employer and the employed, had come to prevail in the country. Though the parochial system might induce persons to act with kindness towards the poor, it led to such acts as the demolition of cottages. It might be objected to his proposition that the union system would fail in point of economy; but it was under the old parochial system that all the extravagant expenditure had occurred. In 1834 the expenses of the relief of the poor amounted to 6,300,000l., which was increased to 7,597,000l. by law and other expenses. In 1844 it amounted to 4,900,000l., which, with similar additions, came to 5,440,000l., showing a saving of upwards of 2,000,000l. 50 on the old system. The reduction of law expenses had been very great. There was reason to expect that a considerable diminution, not an increase in expenditure, would be the consequence of his plan. There were upwards of 14,000 parishes in England, and only 623 unions, so that it was evident the expenses attendant on removal would be greatly less if a system of settlement by union were established, instead of settlement by parishes, which at present prevailed. In the Report of the House of Lords on the Burdens affecting real Property, one of the latest Parliamentary documents brought under notice, it was remarked—The agricultural witnesses complained also of the restriction in the choice of labourers imposed on the farmer by the law of settlement; and Mr. Coppock, the clerk of the Stockport Union, bears evidence to the hardships and expenses occasioned by the present state of the law.It seemed evident that the union settlements would produce great advantages in this respect, and prevent great injustice and inequality, afford a wider scope for labour, place the labourer on a better footing with his employer, bring him nearer to his work, and, above all, do that which was most important, provide him with better lodging and accommodation. It was with a strong conviction of the great importance of this question, and of the results which would arise from this Bill, that he had ventured to make these suggestions. As far as his own interest was concerned—if indeed the interest of any individual could be distinct from the general good—the resolution he proposed was rather opposed than favourable to those interests. The proposal he had made would prevent the proprietor of land, over which he had exclusive control, from turning away his labourers. He thought such restriction was right; but it so happened that whatever property he possessed was so situated. He was an owner of close parishes. He could therefore claim at least to be free from any imputation of personal motives in bringing forward this question. If the House approved of his proposal, they would remove that power from his hands; if not, they would leave him a power which he hoped he should not be disposed to abuse; but he should be glad to be deprived even of the temptation to do wrong. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the following Instructions to the Committee:—
- "1. After a day to be fixed for each union, all paupers of the parishes comprising the union shall be settled in the union, and not in any parish of such union.
- "2. But such paupers be maintained, and all expenses defrayed from a fund levied from each parish, in the proportion of the expenditure for the relief of the poor incurred by such parish, for the last seven years.
- "3. Debts already charged on the rates, and interest due in respect of such debts, shall not be affected by the change."
was sorry that the resolutions of the hon. Gentleman had been brought forward to prevent the discussion of the question as to the removal of the poor. When the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government intimated what was the nature of the measure to be proposed in regard to the poor, he stated that the question which would be submitted for their consideration was the simple abstract question, whether the House would or would not relax the law of removal so far as to enable persons whose industry had benefited a parish to acquire a settlement there. The object was that they should be exempt from removal. The hon. Gentleman proposed to substitute a union for a parochial settlement; but in nine cases out of ten, poor persons were permitted to reside in the parish where they happened to be when application was made for relief to the parish of their settlement. But the hon. Gentleman stated that by the adoption of a system of union settlements, litigation would be avoided. The hon. Gentleman said there were nearly 630 unions, and the litigation would no longer be between parish and parish, but between union and union; but there could not be a more fertile source of litigation than the transfer of authority in such matters from parochial bodies to the clerks of the unions, whose profession was that of the law. The time was approaching when further changes would be introduced in reference to the relief of the poor. It had been proposed that the schoolmaster and schoolmistress of the union should be paid out of the public funds; but there were also the expenses of the medical establishment and other items which might be transferred to the same account. In 1817 he had served on a Commission which reported that funded property was liable, as well as other property, to pay its quota to the support of the poor, if it could be properly apportioned. He consequently hoped that the Bill would be reduced to the naked question, "yes or no, will the House remove the poorer classes or not, after they had lived a certain time in these parishes?" He firmly believed the day was not far distant when funded property would be made liable, as well as every other kind of property, 52 to the support of the poor. He thought it could be apportioned, and if so, that it could be made available for that purpose. For those reasons he felt it his duty to vote against the resolutions, and he hoped the Bill would be proceeded with, so that enough could be struck out of it in Committee to make it really serviceable.
§ MR. BANKES
was anxious to hear the opinion of Her Majesty's Government on the question of removal, and therefore regretted the interposition of these resolutions, which had so inconveniently interfered with the discussion of the general question. He opposed the adoption of them, simply on the ground that nothing could more effectually prevent the employment of labourers. Those who were practically acquainted with the Poor Laws knew that the farmers were now employing more men than they required, because they thought it better to employ them than support them in the workhouse. If they were all amalgamated, that reason would cease to operate, and the labourers would be all left in the workhouse together. He agreed with the hon. Member that thousands of farmers would be awakened from their apathy by the measures which were passing; but they would not awaken to find relief in such propositions as those, and they must look to a different system for the support of their labourers.
condemned the cruel and unjust operation of a system which encouraged a disposition to drive out persons likely to become chargeable from parishes with which they had long been connected. In the parish where he resided, there were many labourers who belonged to large parishes in the neighbourhood; but, as they lived in those parishes, they would not become chargeable on that which benefited by their industry, while at the same time the market for their labour would be circumscribed by the apprehension lest they should acquire a settlement in the parish where they were employed. He was convinced that union settlements would be a great encouragement to industrious labourers, and would tend very greatly to improve their general character and condition. He would not vote for union settlement unconnected with this Bill; but he trusted that the Bill would not pass without being remodelled in such a manner as to embrace this proposition.
§ MR. CHRISTOPHER
said, that if he could agree that the proposal was of benefit to the labourer, and especially to the agricultural labourer, he would give it his 53 support; but, from the practical operation of the existing Poor Laws, he was firmly persuaded that, instead of conferring a benefit on the agricultural labourer, he would be materially injured. He also considered the 5th Clause, which did not positively enact a new settlement, as objectionable in itself; but he considered the proposal of his hon. Friend still more objectionable. The benefit of the Poor Law was, that it acted as a labour-rate on the parish. He had known able-bodied labourers who had been refused employment in consequence of the distress of the farmers, because they could not agree who should employ them. These persons went into the workhouse; the parish found the expense so great that they agreed amongst themselves, and were willing to employ these people at a reduced rate of wages; but if the proposal of his hon. Friend were carried into effect, the parish would throw these persons on the union at large. It would be said, the adjoining parish is loss pauperised, and therefore will contribute, by a general rate, to maintain our poor. He had some respect for the ancient parochial system in England, because he thought it engendered a good feeling of mutual kindness between the middle and labouring classes of society; but independent of that circumstance he was convinced of this, that the practical effect of this measure, if carried into operation, would be, that the farmers, when they felt themselves distressed by legislative measures, or other causes, would throw the poor on the union, partly from the circumstance that they would not be compelled to contribute so much to maintain them, and partly because they might throw these people on adjoining parishes who had taken greater care of the poor. As to the measure itself, he would not enter into any remarks in the present state of the discussion. He agreed in many of the remarks of the hon. Member for Brecon, and hoped that some Member of Her Majesty's Government would get up and state the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to assent to this proposition.
§ MR. STRUTT
was as anxious as any hon. Member to see the Poor Laws improved, and to see that alteration so generally demanded with respect to the removal of the poor; but he, at the same time, did not wish to find defects obliterated by a still greater abuse; and he feared that by passing the Bill in its present shape, without such an Amendment as that proposed by his hon. Friend, they would 54 be adding to the evil. There were particular cases in which such a course as that proposed to be pursued would be most injurious; and in those parishes which were in the hands of individuals the Bill might tend to open up new sources of abuse. He was inclined to think that settlement was in itself an evil; that the power to remove the poor was an evil, in so far as it interfered with the freedom of labour; but these evils were, unfortunately, necessary evils. The only effectual mode of administration was that of a local system; they could not have a local system without local interests; and they could not have local interests without some sort of settlement. That was the only ground upon which they could defend it; but why extend the question of subdivisions of settlement further than necessary? If the Bill were passed into law, it would no doubt give rise to great abuses, unless accompanied by some measure of the kind proposed.
§ MR. PAKINGTON
felt considerable difficulty as to the course which, in reference to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Malton, he ought to pursue. He could not doubt that, by consenting to the Amendment, there would be involved a reconstruction of the Bill, and that the delay might be such that it might not pass this Session. He agreed, however, with the hon. Member for Malton, that union settlement would be an improvement on the present law of settlement, and he would therefore support the proposition. One of the strongest objections to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government was, that the Bill offered, numberless temptations to local jobbing, and that it exposed the poor to hardship; and he thought that by adopting the suggestion of union settlement they would remove those objections. It had been urged against the measure recently introduced by the Government with regard to a five years' settlement, that it was unjust to the manufacturing districts; but he thought that those who derived a benefit from the labour were called on to assist the labourer when in distress. At the same time, he was of opinion that inconvenience might sometimes arise from such a system, and that it would be an advantage if, instead of being confined to one populous town, there were a distribution over a union. It had been said there would be no longer the inducements which had before existed for farmers to employ the labourers in adverse seasons; but it was forgotten that, though there would be no longer parish interests, 55 there would be union interests; that there would be the same motives as before among employers, with the difference that the circle would be widened. He was convinced that the Bill would be improved by the introduction of union settlements, and he trusted that the Government would see that the poor did not lose the advantage of such an emendation.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
It may perhaps be for the convenience of the House, if I state on the present occasion what is the view which I entertain on this subject. Upon the abstract merits of the question we are now discussing, it is almost superfluous to trouble the House at any length; for this, in fact, is the same proposition which I had the honour of submitting to Parliament in the course of last Session. It is the introduction of union settlement, taken in conjunction with the irremovability of the poor who have resided in one place for five years, and have not during those five years been chargeable. Nothing is more true than what was stated, that when this measure was announced by my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, in the early part of the Session, it was announced as a measure limited to removal, and not interfering at all with the law of settlement. And the reason for that announcement was, that in the year 1844 I submitted to the House a proposition for an extensive alteration in the law of settlement, which I then believed, and still believe, would have simplified and improved the law, would have diminished litigation, and conferred a great benefit upon the labouring classes; but the House then refused to approve of that proposition. In the course of last Session again Government proposed, in conjunction with that which is the principal feature of this Bill, the substance of the proposition now made by the hon. Member for Malton, viz., that for parish settlement, union settlement should be substituted. The reception which that proposition met with at the time, has been correctly described; the attachment to the ancient parish system was very strong in many quarters of this House; and though the administration of relief has, by the Poor Law Amendment Act, ceased to be a parish and is now a union system, still it was considered advisable to restrict the liability of the charge within the ancient parochial limits. Under these circumstances, Government did not think it expedient in the present Session to accompany the proposition 56 it made with any arrangement for altering the law of settlement; and it was to meet what appeared to be the wishes of the House that this course was decided on. My own opinion on this matter remains entirely unchanged. I think there are many reasons why the proposition which we are now discussing would prove beneficial; but there are also some strong objections. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Brighton, on a former occasion, objected to the change as too extensive; and yet before he sat down he opened to the House a far more extensive, and, as I think, a still more dangerous proposition, namely, not only the substitution of union for parochial settlements, but as I understood, the abolition of settlement altogether, and the introduction of a charge on the national revenue, to be devoted to the relief of the poor. I do not think it advisable, at the present moment, to go into the discussion of so wide a subject; but I must say, according to my judgment, no proposition more dangerous in its tendency could receive the sanction of the House; and my conviction is, that if such a system as that suggested, be once adopted, no estimate can be formed of the ultimate charge to be imposed upon the public for this purpose. I may refer briefly to the objections raised by the hon. Member for Oxfordshire. He says, that this Bill, while professing to be a Bill dealing with the law of removal, is in reality a Bill affecting the law of settlement. Now, if the hon. Member for Oxfordshire would examine the matter with his usual acumen, and look to the first part of the first section of the Bill, he would see that the enactment is strictly limited to those portions of the ancient law which refer to removal. There is not the least intention whatever of altering the law of settlement; it purposes only to repeal the law relative to removal. I admit that there has been some doubt expressed on this point, and that among those competent to form an opinion an uncertainty has prevailed as to the actual meaning of the words used; but I can assure those Gentlemen and the hon. Member, that the intention of the Goverment is not in the slightest degree to interfere with the law of settlement; and in Committee I shall be prepared to insert words at the end of the first clause which will remove all ambiguity. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire, referring to the fifth clause, spoke of it as covertly introducing union 57 settlement, and as at variance with the avowed object, and with the title, which refer exclusively to the law of removal. The clause passed this House in 1844, and was only dropped in the other House of Parliament on the understanding that, as no alteration in the law of settlement was contemplated, that clause had better be postponed for further consideration. With reference to the instruction brought under our notice by the hon. Member, I may say that, in my opinion, it is to be considered in reference to the sentiments of the labouring poor themselves. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire states that if he were satisfied that the adoption of the proposition would be conducive to the interests of the agricultural labourer, he would, whatever might be his opinion on other points involved, give to that proposal his support. My view of the matter does rest upon a strong conviction that this proposal is conducive, and eminently conducive, to the welfare of the labouring poor, more especially taken in conjunction with the enactment of irremovability. It has been stated—and the argument has been sustained by the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Strutt) — that the law of settlement is, perhaps, necessary, but that it is anything but beneficial to the labouring classes, and that it is a great interference with labour. Adam Smith says that there is no one enactment which has interfered so much with the comfort and welfare of every labouring man in this country at some period of his life, as the law of settlement. I consider if that be admitted, the only question is what change, in reference to other interests, can be adopted least obnoxious to the charge of interference with the poor? The hon. Member for Malton has stated that even the law as it at present stands is open to very great objections in what he terms close parishes, as contrasted with open parishes; that power exists now, and is often exercised, of pulling down cottages. I know an instance in which all the land of a parish belongs to one proprietor; it is occupied by himself and one farmer, and for the last half-century there has not been a marriage allowed in that parish, nor I believe has there been a poor-rate collected, in consequence of the cottages built years ago having been pulled down, and the strict regulations of the proprietor, that no married persons having children should reside there. That is a state of things that has occurred under the law of settlement as 58 it now exists. Under that law, residence is the chief condition whereby a settlement can be obtained; in settlement by hiring, service, serving offices, residence is a necessary ingredient of all the modes by which settlement is obtained. Then comes the question, whether the great evil of the destruction of the dwelling-houses of the poor will not be aggravated, unless the irremovability of persons chargeable is checked by some other enactment; unless the new charge arising from that irremovability is in some degree counteracted, there cannot, I think, be a doubt that it would prove injurious to the working classes. I am strongly of opinion, that by diffusing the burden consequent upon the irremovability over a wider area, the tendency to exercise this power of pulling down cottages will be diminished. When I introduced this proposition in Parliament, in 1845, I received certain communications from various chairmen of boards of guardians, which, as bearing upon this point, with the permission of the House, I should like to read. I think the great misfortune of the present law of settlement is that character, good conduct, skill, and industry are no recommendation whatever to the favour of the law: on the contrary, the absence of these qualities—idleness, want of skill, and profligate habits, leading to pauperism—are unfortunately rather recommendations to relief and employment. The Rev. Mr. Chalk, the vice-president of the Bedford union, thus addresses himself to this point. In a letter addressed to the Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, Mr. R. Weale, dated 27th of March, 1845, he says—The labourer's sphere of action is materially extended, and he will soon discover that, if he cannot find employment in one parish, he must seek it in another; and that as the best labourers are most regularly employed at the best wages, it will therefore be greatly to his interest to endavour to become one of that class. The objection to settlers in a parish will be removed; and we may expect to see landlords building a better description of cottages, in order that their tenants may have the advantage of good labourers in their immediate neighbourhood. A member of our Committee stated that the best and most trustworthy labourers on his farm, which is a large one, do not belong to the parish. Why were these men so distinguished? Because they knew if they were not more skilful and more trustworthy than the other labourers, they would not retain their situations. I receive the rent of three cottages in my parish. One is occupied by an old widow, belonging to a neighbouring parish, the other two by able-bodied men belonging to us. The widow always has her rent ready on Michaelmasday. 59 The other tenants make every excuse to put off payment; in fact, give more trouble than the rent is worth, although it might be paid from the produce of their gardens, if judiciously managed. I could multiply instances, but the two I have mentioned will, I think, sufficiently explain my meaning.Ohserve the extent of this alteration in the circles to which labour is at present confined; there are 14,500 parishes where separate settlements can be gained; there are only 620 unions; thus the substitution of the union settlement for the parochial will at once admit of a great increase in the free circulation of labour. Mr. Price Alcock, the vice-president of the Medway union, says:—But, there is another and great evil under the present system: there is no inducement held out to the young labourer to excel as a workman, to be industrious and of good moral habits. If he travel beyond the boundaries of his parish, he can gain no employment, and, if he remain in it, he meets with little or no encouragement, inasmuch as he sees the most worthless men in the parish, because they have wives and families, obtain employment, when he can obtain none; and careless, idle, reckless habits, improvident marriages, and all the ills of pauperism, are the sad consequences. The proposed Bill will extend the field of labour for the poor man, and, instead of being questioned as to his parish, he will be questioned as to his quality as a workman, and his character as a man; and thus excellence and industry will meet with their due reward. You will see by what I have said that I anticipate good results from the proposed change.I have also a statement of the converse of the statements of these two gentlemen, vice-chairmen of boards of guardians, and I must say it makes the case complete. I have said that this alteration of settlement from the parochial to the union will make the character of the labourer of greater value, and that his skill and industry will be better tested; that these qualifications will recommend him to employment, and not his liability to relief. The objection to this is here stated by the Rev. Charles Green, rector of Burgh Castle. He expresses his apprehension that—The active and able-bodied could alone avail themselves of an extension of the field of labour beyond their parishes, while the inferior and decayed labourer would be injured in the same or a greater proportion. This last class of labourers, who most stand in need of protection, would materially suffer by throwing open the field of labour. For the independent subsistence of the decayed, and the stupid and the clumsy labourer, I apprehend, a monopoly, such as we now have in parishes, is necessary.Here is an admission that the existing law favours the idle. Protection to the clumsy and inferior labourer, as contrasted with the skilful and superior man, is the argument 60 used against a change in the law. I have here a report made by Mr. Tufnell, when he was Assistant Poor Law Commissioner in 1844. He says—I know a gentleman in an agricultural union who has taken a large farm, and cultivated it with the greatest skill, introduced the latest improvements, and made it a model for all the neighbouring agriculturists. He pays higher wages than any one else, employs on his land three times the proportion of labourers that other farmers do, and hence might be supposed to be popular in a pauperized parish. Not at all. His good farming requires good workmen; and hence he takes them from any part of the union, quite regardless of the parish to which they belong. His own parishioners grumble, and say he does not do half the good that farmer B does, who employs fewer labourers, but takes them all from the parish, and thus helps to keep down the rates. This gentleman acts as every one would act were a union settlement established, i.e., he takes the best labourers wherever he can find them, regardless of parochial considerations. With him, good character, skill, and trustworthiness are the very first requisites; and is it not clear that the whole population is far more benefited by the premium thus given to these qualities, than by simply considering the place of a man's setlement? Hence moral considerations, which I see put forward as arguments against a union settlement, appear to me to be strongly in favour of it; and I draw this conclusion, because such a change will do what it is apprehended it will do: it will give greater play to the operation of other and higher considerations than settlement ones in the selection of labourers for employment.I have now very briefly stated the opinions of those who have had great experience, first, in the management of the poor, as vice-presidents of boards of guardians, and next, as connected with the supervision of relief, assigning their reasons, I think very strong ones, in favour of the proposition contained in the instruction. I certainly apprehend that there is some risk that irremovability, without some check, may cause some addition to various local interests, which induce proprietors to destroy cottages upon their property, in order to throw the burden from themselves upon adjacent parishes. I do not, however, think that risk so great as some have stated it to be; for, as I have observed, the existing law of settlement is open to that objection to a great degree; and, notwithstanding that law, every one who has travelled on the Continent must have been struck with a peculiar difference between this and other countries, in the great number of detached cottages he sees in every direction in passing through England. On the Continent the labourers are congregated in villages and small towns; detached cottages are rarely seen. I believe there are other motives of a kindly nature on the part 61 of proprietors of the soil generally, which render them not indisposed to have for neighbours the humble class upon whom they so much depend, and whose good feeling it is their desire and interest to cultivate. Therefore I do not apprehend, if there were no such check as I have mentioned, that the pulling down of cottages would be carried to an extravagant extent; still I am of opinion that the proposition of the hon. Member for Malton would operate as a check to that evil, and I certainly should have great difficulty, personally, in voting against it. I do not think, however, that the insertion of it in this Bill is at all indispensable to the other provisions of the Bill. If the hon. Member presses his proposition, I must certainly give it my support; but even if it should be rejected, I do not see that I may not consistently proceed with the other parts of the Bill, improving them as far as practicable in reference to the general scope of the measure. In making this great alteration in the law of removal, I have proceeded on what I think the soundest principle—that of repealing all former Acts in reference to this subject, and embodying them in one general statute, that shall present them in a clear and distinct form. This Bill does repeal all anterior Acts regulating the law of removal, and will be a complete code upon that subject, obviating many objections to the present law of settlement. If the House goes into Committee, I hope I shall be able to assign reasons for its various provisions, and shall be most happy to attend to any suggestions that may be offered. I think there would be great difficulty in adopting the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member for Brighton, to introduce a Bill of two or three clauses, making provision for irremovability only; as the law stands, it would only add to confusion, and render the working of the measure uncertain. I entertain a strong opinion as to the importance of some regulation, which shall secure the labourers in manufacturing districts, after a certain term of industrious labour, against removal in the period of sickness or want. I think some such provision necessary. As bearing on those localities, there are some points the House ought to consider: I allude to the effect of this measure upon the manufacturing as compared with the rural districts. By the census of 1841, it appears that there are in Westminster 114,035 persons born in the county of Middlesex, 108,018 persons born elsewhere; in the hundred of 62 Brixton, Surrey, the number of persons born in the county is 156,571, elsewhere 154,015; in Liverpool, the number born in the county is 120,000, elsewhere 130,000; in Manchester, those born in the county are 108,196, born elsewhere 55,660; in Birmingham there are born in the county 66,768, elsewhere 41,447; in Glamorganshire, those born in the county are 129,759, elsewhere 44,429. Now, contrast these numbers with those of the agricultural districts. In Bucks, the number born in the county is 127,133, elsewhere only 28,860; in Essex, there are born in the county 297,671, elsewhere 47,000; in the East Riding of Yorkshire there are born in the county 174,246, elsewhere 20,690; in Anglesea there are born in the county 48,000, elsewhere 2,800. I could illustrate this still further, but this is sufficient to prove the great importance of the question we are discussing. I attach the utmost importance to these provisions, because I believe they will be conducive to the happiness of the labouring classes. But at the same time you must remember that, as bearing on the question of local charges, and the interest of the ratepayers, the change is very great. I think in many localities, the effect of introducing irremovability, without distributing the burden over a larger area, will be considerable hardship; and it would be well for the House to consider whether the proposal of the hon. Member for Malton would not in such cases greatly mitigate these new and additional burdens. There is also another consideration I cannot overlook; I think, as the burden will fall with accumulated weight on small localities, the severity with which the Poor Law is carried into execution in those localities cannot fail to be increased. If you distribute the burden over a wider area, there will not be, on the part of boards of guardians, so rigorous an enforcement of the law; its severity will be relaxed, and there will be a tendency to give a more generous consideration to the wants of the poor. Upon the whole, then, whether we look at the moral effects of the proposition upon the character of the labouring classes, the premium it would give to industry over idleness, to skill over want of skill, or its tendency to produce a more mild administration of the provisions of the New Poor Law, I am bound to say my opinion is in favour of the proposition. If it is pressed to a division, I cannot oppose it; if it is 63 rejected, I shall not therefore recede from the proposition I have made on the part of the Government; and I shall be quite prepared to sustain, in argument, the advantages of the clauses as they now stand. If the House should pass the instruction, I will undertake that it shall be laid on the Table, in the form in which it would require to be introduced into the Act, during the early part of the week.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
considered that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Malton would be a great improvement of the Bill of the Government. Whether the measure were or were not a boon to the labourer, it was more just to the ratepayer. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that the Bill of the Government would have the effect of throwing a very considerable burden upon the manufacturing districts, of which, however, they did not complain.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said, the House could not be surprised at the parental manner in which his right hon. Friend had treated the proposition of the hon. Member for Malton; which was, in fact, the offspring of the right hon. Baronet himself, though introduced into society by the hon. Member for Malton. He could not refrain, however, from asking why, if the right hon. Gentleman had so strong a sense of the necessity of this proposal, his right hon. Friend had not introduced it as part of his own measure. His hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire had been misunderstood; his hon. Friend only meant that the mention of former statutes gave the Committee a locus standi to consider the whole question, for removal and settlement were correlative terms. The hon. Member who spoke last had said, that though the measure imposed burdens upon the manufacturers, they were not against it; but he begged to ask for whose benefit had the large masses of population been congregated into the manufacturing towns. He felt, however, that he ought to have begun by expressing his regret that they had not been permitted to have an opportunity of discussing the general principle of the measure, on the Motion for leaving the chair. He could not forget, that when the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government first introduced to the notice of the House this measure, it had been represented as a great boon to the agriculturists—one of those twenty items, each small in itself, but the aggregate of which were to counterbalance the loss occasioned by the 64 depreciation of agricultural produce. He had at the time stated that such a driblet as the measure then shadowed forth imperfectly by his right hon. Friend, was not what they had a right to expect; it was not such a remedial measure as was worthy of the occasion or of those who offered it. He had suggested that a sum of half a million, taken from the Consolidated Fund; that a taxation of the funds themselves might have been a more worthy compensation; but he never meant to lay the whole burden of the poor upon the Consolidated Fund; he proposed to leave to the local authorities the means of checking expenditure; and that proposal would combine two important objects; it would afford something like an appropriate compensation to the agricultural interest, and it would give to such agricultural interest on the spot the means of checking the unlimited expenditure which might take place if the whole amount was charged upon the public purse. He believed, however, that this proposal would be fatal to the progress of this Bill during the present Session of Parliament; for, considering the period at which they had arrived, and the nature of the measures still before them, if Her Majesty's Government should be reduced to the necessity of introducing a new Bill, before that Bill could reach the stage at which the present had arrived, the Session, he hoped, would be so far advanced that the Government would not be able then to carry any Bill. There were several propositions involved in the Bill, which he admitted to be good, but which it would not be proper for him then to enter upon. He, however, regarded the instruction proposed as another attack on the parochial system, as calculated to weaken the social ties established by that system, and as open to the objection forcibly stated by the hon. Member for Lincolnshire and others. He felt convinced that it would hold out a great temptation to parishes to transfer the burden of taking care of all those who, from any cause, might become incompetent labourers, to the union, at an expense of 30s., instead of not more than 9s. or 10s. in their own parish. Reserving any further observations on the measure itself to a future occasion, he should certainly oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Malton.
§ MR. C. WOOD
said, that he for one was inclined to support the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Malton; but being greatly in favour of the present Poor 65 Law, he could not concur with the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in treating so lightly those parochial ties to which he had referred, as likely to be interrupted by that proposition. There was unquestionably a connexion existing between local labourers and the farmers, who were their employers, which, in his opinion, it was most desirable should, as much as possible, be maintained. He confessed he did not see, in reference to the measure before the House, how a more generous administration of the Poor Law was to be promoted by it. The administration of the law rested with the guardians of the union, and with them it was proposed to leave it—at least, he did not see that any change in that respect was contemplated under this Bill. He considered that an union settlement was necessary in order to obviate those objections which were felt to the Bill as it stood; and it would be still more necessary if the Bill were to be amended in Committee in such a way as to render it of the slightest use whatever. He thought the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford was wrong in treating the Bill as a settlement, instead of purely a removal, Bill. With respect to the principle of irremovability for a certain period giving a claim to a settlement, let him remind the House that irremovability for forty days was a foundation for a settlement—and he understood that, in the opinion of many professional men qualified to express an opinion upon the subject, it was actually a question whether the Bill would not, as it stood, give a settlement. And this he mentioned without at all admitting that it was a Bill for the establishment of settlement. He was sorry, however, to hear from the right hon. Baronet, that he should not be unwilling, in Committee, to introduce words which should have the certain effect of preventing it from being considered a Settlement Bill; because in his opinion, unless the measure did confer a settlement it was worse than useless. But if nothing less than irremovability for a space of five years was to confer such settlement, he could not conceive who would ever obtain one, particularly when it was considered how difficult it was to prove what, in many cases, constituted residence. In the hope that the Bill would, in Committee, be made effectual for conferring a settlement as the consequence of some shorter period of residence, and be so amended as to render an union settlement the best, he should vote in favour of the instruction of his hon. Friend.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the Government were taking an extraordinary course. This Bill had been first introduced as a compensation for another measure; and after bringing it in, the right hon. Baronet said, he was ready to make an important alteration in it. At present, it was in the power of parishes to have union settlements if they pleased; and there had not been a single instance of that plan having been adopted. The matter now proposed to be changed seemed very light; but considerations of that description ought not to determine the House in the vote which they should come to on the present occasion. They should ask themselves this—what would be the real benefit to the country? They should, he thought, not agree to anything of the sort, if they were not able distinctly to perceive that there would be a decided advantage to the poor—a clear and certain advantage to the poor. No doubt, they had a right also to look at its operation upon the ratepayer. With reference to the Bill now before the House, he understood it to be said that the measure was intended to affect decayed, inferior, and idle persons. Now, he begged to observe that poor men being decayed and inferior, were not necessarily idle; no man was necessarily idle because he did not happen to be so strong as his neighbours. But now the rule was, that those who were to employ labourers were entitled to buy in the cheapest and sell in the dearest markets. It was a novelty to apply this principle to the poor of England; the principle, however, had long been acted upon in Scotland; and that, perhaps, was one of the reasons why Scottish agriculture snrpassed that of England. The Scottish farmer did not, as the English farmer did, act upon the rule of "live, and let live." When he did not find that men in his employment were worth the rate of wages that he paid them, he turned them adrift. That never had been the practice in England; men once established in a parish continued there to the end of their days. Now, it became a very serious question for the House to consider whether the proposition before them was one which in the long run would produce the greatest benefit to the greatest number of human beings. In making these observations, he by no means addressed himself to the political economists, for they never touched the inferior labourers. Men to whom it had not pleased God to give sufficient strength to entitle them to be called first-rate labourers were never employed by those who called themselves 67 sound political economists. According to the new system, such people were to be kicked out of employment, and sent to the union workhouse. He should say further that, if the parochial system were to be broken up, the destruction of it ought to be carried out to a much greater extent than the proposition now before the House seemed to go; and, confining his view to the change which the Motion before them was intended to effect, he could not help saying that he saw no reason to believe that any advantage would accrue to the poor from the extension of the labour market to the unions, instead of limiting it, as heretofore, by means of the parochial system. That was a strong opinion; and he admitted that he did entertain strong opinions upon this subject. He believed that, in order to make farming profitable, people must seek out for the most effectual means of practising the greatest economy; and he feared that the result would be that all the inferior labourers must be thrown out of employment. These were the reasons which would influence him to vote against the instruction, if the House divided on the Motion which had been made by the hon. Member for Malton.
MR. V. SMITH
doubted whether it were expedient to take an average of seven years in preference to three years. It had been in the course of the present discussion made a matter of accusation against some hon. Members that they had, on former occasions, expressed disapprobation of the proposition which they were now prepared to support. He begged to say that he had never heard of any such disapprobation having been expressed. No disapprobation had reached him, except the disapprobation which was expressed by the public through the newspapers. Moreover, it could not be said that, with reference to the present instruction, the public or the House had been taken by surprise; on the contrary, the instruction had been talked of previous to the Whitsuntide recess. It must be well known to hon. Members that the subject had for a long time occupied the attention of the public. It was a plan, however, which he could not help saying was well calculated to do mischief to the measure now before the House—no plan better calculated to have that effect—nothing more damaging to the interests of the measure. There was another point which he found it difficult to avoid noticing, viz., the fact that the Bill now before them had been mixed up with the discussion 68 of the great measure that had recently occupied the attention of the House, with which he thought that it ought not to have been, at least in that manner, connected; and he thought further, that there was no necessity for thinking the worse of the Bill on account of the instruction which the hon. Member for Malton had deemed it necessary to propose; it therefore occasioned him no small surprise to hear the right hon. Baronet himself finding fault with his own measure. [Sir J. GRAHAM: I did not.] Surely the right hon. Baronet said that, without the introduction of the union system, great injustice would be done to the measure? He and other hon. Members so understood the right hon. Baronet. They were now engaged in discussing what ought to be the clause when they went into Committee; and let it be remembered that the Motion merely went to recommend the subject before them to the consideration of the Committee; the matter might certainly be disposed of without the introduction of a fresh Bill. The sole question for the House was this—were they prepared, when they went into Committee, to adopt the proposition of his hon. Friend? Did they think that parochial ties were the only thing that bound parties not to seek employment elsewhere—in fact, wherever they could best find it? At present, no doubt, if a landlord contemplated any improvement, and looked about for the fittest labourers, his agent and other persons in the neighbourhood would at once say to him that of course he could not think of employing people who came out of other parishes; and if labourers went out of their own parishes to seek for employment, they were warned against doing so, lest they should lose that support which, in their own parish, they might otherwise expect. Considerations to which he had thus briefly adverted would induce him to vote in favour of the instruction moved by his hon. Friend. He hoped that when adopted by the House it would put an end to that system which cramped the energies of the poor man wherever he went. It was not out of place that he should here observe that they could not have union settlements without union rates; and he wished to repeat his conviction that the hon. Member for Malton would find difficulties as to the average of seven years—three, he thought, would be much more convenient. As to the efforts which landlords and farmers in a parish might make for the purpose of keeping labourers off 69 the parish, he could only say, that people in general were ready enough to let their poor neighbours go upon any public fund, though very careful how they allowed such people to become burdensome to any fund to which those parties themselves especially contributed; and that appeared to him a reason why the poor rates should rather be levied off the owner than off the mere occupier.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the principle involved in this Bill, or rather in this instruction, was not in want of any notoriety, for it was very freely canvassed last year. He had himself consulted every board of guardians in North Warwickshire upon it, and, with scarcely an exception, they all disapproved of it. Though he did not agree in all that had fallen from the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Smith), yet he considered that he had advanced almost the only argument on which a union settlement could be defended. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman, that if they must have a union settlement, they must also have a union rating. In reference to this resolution or instruction itself, it appeared to him, he confessed, to be completely a one-sided resolution, and that the advocates of it were contradictory, inasmuch as they were in favour of a union settlement, but, at the same time, for a retention of a parochial rate. He could answer for his own constituency being not one which was more reconciled to this union settlement now than they were last year; and was persuaded that, if it were adopted by the Government, it would lead to a deep and well-founded discontent.
§ MR. GRANGER
was of opinion that the proposition of the hon. Member for Malton would do a great injustice to more than half the parishes in the country. He was surprised to hear the right hon. Baronet, on this occasion, express his willingness to accede to the proposition, which would tend to throw upon uninhabited rural parishes the burden of taxation for the support of those who had spent their lives in the employment and for the benefit of manufacturers in towns. Those who obtained the benefit of their work should pay for their support. It seemed to him that they were undoing with one hand that which they were doing with the other. He must say that he was not prepared for such an extensive change in the parochial system as that proposed by his hon. Friend below him. If there were to be a change at all, he would certainly prefer that which was 70 suggested by the hon. and gallant Member (Col. Wood).
§ VISCOUNT MORPETH
was not present at the commencement of the debate, but wished to record his opinion in favour of the instruction moved by his hon. Friend the Member for Malton. The best way to guard against repeating what had been stated before was to make his present observation as brief as possible, and to confine what he had to say to matters within his own local experience. He could hardly say that that was a proper rule to apply to a matter of national concernment, yet from the local wants of a district they might see what was best for the community at large. In the neighbourhood in which he lived there were very large tracts of country (especially in what were called the Wolds of Yorkshire) in which large portions of land had been recently enclosed. There were whole townships in the hands of a large proprietor, or two or three large proprietors, and in a great number of those townships there was no house or cottage in the whole township, and the labourers lived in towns and villages situate in the adjacent townships. If they enacted, as he believed the Government and the House were prepared to enact, that the person who resided for five years in any given parish or township, should not be removable, without making any further provision, he thought, without going into the question between the rural districts and the towns, that in the rural districts themselves it would bear very hard indeed upon several parishes and townships, while it would confer almost an immunity upon others, especially on those in which the property and influence of the landed proprietors would most preponderate. They would legislate almost exclusively in favour of what were called the close parishes or townships, and almost overwhelm the country towns and villages; and the man who could prevent any cottages being built on his land, or who would pull down those that were built, on the principle that he could do what he liked with his own, would be let off scot free. He thought the way to get rid of that objection was, to adopt union settlements (instead of township settlements), as proposed by his hon. Friend the Member for Malton. He thought that the objection which he had heard against union settlements partook of a superficial or sentimental character, whilst the evils they would otherwise leave untouched, if not abrogated, were very plain and palpable. He did not look upon this 71 as a question between the interests of the manufacturing and agricultural districts, as a question concerning the comforts and feelings of the poor themselves. And if there were any class of the population which was peculiarly affected by the frequency, and uncertainty, and complication and hardship of removal, it was the most destitute portion of the labouring population. It had been computed that in the rural parishes three-fourths of the removals consisted of persons who lived away from their parishes for a period of above five years. Now the number of those renewals would of course be very much diminished by adopting the Bill as it now stood, and as it was brought in by the Government; but if in addition to that they adopted the instruction of his hon. Friend the Member for Malton, and diminished the number of places having the power of removal from 15,000 to 700, it was plain they would diminish the hardship of removal in an enormous degree. He trusted if the House consented to the adoption of that course, enacting by joint legislation that persons residing for five years should be irremovable, and further limiting the number of districts having the power of removal to 700, he trusted that in that case the hardship which pressed upon the labouring poor, so far as the result of those removals, and the falsification of testimony which every person who attended to those matters must lament—he trusted that those growing evils by this joint legislation would be removed; and with that feeling he should give his hearty support to the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Malton.
§ MR. PACKE
said, that as this question had never been treated as a Government Motion, he thought it very strange that, on this occasion, the Government should, without giving any notice, adopt, as a measure of their own, that which contemplated a change of such vital importance in the whole system of parochial settlement. He thought that the country ought to be made well aware of the intended change; and it was most preposterous, no matter what good or what evil might arise from the measure, for them now to come to a division on the question. He could not, at the same time, help thinking that acrimony and litigation were evils likely to arise between parishes with regard to settlements. By this measure they were only making enlarged parishes. The noble Lord who had just spoken, had instanced parts of the country in which he lived, in 72 support of his arguments; and he would follow the noble Lord's example, by instancing a part of the country to which he belonged. The union in which he lived was most thinly populated, yet it was burdened with the support of those who were sent from an adjoining union. He thought that this measure would tend materially to aggravate the evils which already existed, by transferring large populations to thinly populated districts. He should oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Malton.
§ MR. T. DUNCOMBE
thought it would be perfectly consistent to entertain the Bill, as originally proposed by the Government, if they adhered to that Bill; but now that he saw the right hon. Baronet had consented to support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Malton, he thought the question came before them under a totally different aspect. What was the object of this Bill originally? He had, on a former evening, taken the liberty of addressing the House on the subject, and pointing out what he conceived it to be, and that it contained a principle most valuable, not merely to the landed interest of this country, but to the great operative population in the manufacturing towns of the country. He said if there was anything that tended to make that population favourable to the measures then introduced by Her Majesty's Ministers, it was the provision contained in this Bill when properly explained to them; for the House must be well aware, the country must be well aware, and Her Majesty's Ministers must be well aware, that what they called free trade in the abstract had not been extremely popular with the great operative classes of this country. They had looked upon this contest between the agricultural and manufacturing interest with perfect apathy and indifference; they looked upon it as something of a pull-devil pull-baker sort of contest; and he almost thought the baker was the favourite of the two. Now, why had they been so indifferent to that which he believed would tend to their ultimate benefit? Why, for this simple reason, that they had not believed, they do not believe, and it was very difficult to make them believe at the present moment, that the great capitalists of the country were really favourable and took a deep interest in their welfare—and how were they to judge of this? When there was any reverse of fortune in those manufacturing districts, had the unfortunate persons who were making the fortunes of the great 73 capitalists been supported as they ought to have been supported in times of depression? They had not; they had only to read the returns he had moved for from the manufacturing towns, to see that they had not, and he had moved for those returns for that purpose. He should not be surprised to hear the hon. Member for Birmingham opposing this Bill giving local relief to the operatives who were making the fortunes of the capitalists in the neighbourhood; and it might be said by him, that it was hard on the manufacturers. It was very hard that those who had made their fortunes by the services of these persons, should send them adrift without hesitation when they had taken enough out of their services, and turn them away in sickness or old age. The poor man was thus made to suffer, and a heavy burden was thrown on the agriculturists whenever a depression took place in the manufacturing districts. The Bill introduced by the right hon. Baronet was brought forward as part of his plan of commercial reform, and as a great boon by that right hon. Gentleman, as a great boon not only to the agricultural interest, but to the manufacturing labouring population. Up to the time when the Bill appeared in print, he understood the proposition of the right hon. Baronet was somewhat different from the plan embodied in this measure. He should have been satisfied, however, to have taken the measure as he found it, if the right hon. Gentleman had stuck to his text. The Bill was not made more valuable in his eyes, because the Government appeared to assent to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Malton, which proposition interfered with the valuable principle, that when a labourer required relief, it should be given to him on the spot where relief was required, instead of his being driven from pillar to post, as was the case under the law of settlement. But was this all? The Bill itself did not go so far as he wished, for he considered the five years' residence proposed was too long a period, and he had always intended to propose to reduce them to three years. The case, however, was now altered with respect to this Bill, as the right hon. Baronet had assented to the proposition of the hon. Member for Malton. What was the argument on which the hon. Member for Malton rested his proposition? It was, that in the neighbourhood of Malton there existed a particular state of things as regarded the poor. The House well knew to whom this borough and all the neighbourhood 74 belonged. It therefore did not become him to talk of the effect that would be produced by the Bill in that neighbourhood. His noble Friend the Member for Yorkshire talked of the wolds of Yorkshire. He, perhaps, knew as well as any man that part of the country; and he would ask, whether for the barren wolds of Yorkshire they should regulate the legislation of that House on such an important subject as this? Far from it, for he knew that not one-tenth, as had been asserted, of the population were receiving parochial relief, but one-seventh or one-eighth. The interests which they ought to consult were not those of the wolds of Yorkshire exclusively, but those of the great manufacturing population of the country, which might require relief. He should not be satisfied until they put an end to the law of settlement, which he considered to be a most injurious law. The right hon. Baronet had most inadvertently assented to give the support of the Government to the instruction to the Committee. Of course it was in the power of the House to say, whether or not such instruction should be adopted, and he trusted the House would not assent to it. If the operation of the law of settlement was inquired into at all, he believed that it could be clearly shown that its operation was most injurious to the poor man, and of no benefit to the ratepayer. On that account he intended to propose as an Amendment, and take the sense of the House on the subject—he should move that it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill, that the Committee be empowered to make regulations for the repeal of all laws for the relief of the poor, and that for the future all poor or destitute persons should receive relief at the place where such relief was required, and that the State should afford relief in such places, and that it should be levied by county rates, or other means which Parliament in its wisdom might devise. He should like to know what good reason there was for objecting to this Motion. They might tell him that the time had not arrived for adopting it; but he said that it had. Great commercial changes would shortly take place in consequence of the measures of the Government, and therefore the time was admirably adapted for that purpose. The speech of the right hon. Baronet on introducing his commercial measures, showed that such was the course which he deemed it advantageous to take, and that this was one of the 75 changes which he regarded as of very great importance. The right hon. Baronet then said—I come, now, Sir, to a law grievously complained of, and justly grievously complained of, by the agricultural interest. I mean the present law of settlement. Under the present law of settlement the population of a rural district, in times of manufacturing prosperity, is invited to emigrate to some great manufacturing town. The prime of a man's life is consumed in those manufacturing districts—all the advantages to be derived from his strength, his good conduct, and his industry, are derived by the master manufacturers in the towns. A revolution in manufacturing affairs takes place, a reaction ensues, and the trading and manufacturing interest do not prosper—then what takes place? The man, together with his family, who were removed from the agricultural districts in a season of manufacturing prosperity, are sent back to the agricultural districts; and that man, the best of whose life and energy has been spent in the manufacturing districts, that man who, perhaps, had not been provident in his prosperity, must return to the rural district unfitted for rural occupations; that man, greatly to his annoyance and suffering, is transferred to a former home, which probably he has forgotten—to a place with which he has lost all connexions, and where he has not the means of getting employment—and not only is a great injustice inflicted upon the rural district, but a shock is given to the feelings of every just and humane man. We propose, therefore, not only to relieve the land from a burden, but we propose to do an act of justice to the labouring man by altering the law of settlement. We propose, Sir, that an industrial residence of five years shall not only give a claim to relief; but that after such a residence the power of removing him shall be taken away, and that his legal claim for support shall not be on the place of his original settlement, but on the place to which for five years his labour and industry were given. Now, Sir, I dare say many will remember what took place in November, 1842. In 1842 there was great distress in the manufacturing districts; the practice then followed was, that the persons employed in manufactures who had a settlement in the agricultural districts should be returned to those districts for the purpose of obtaining relief. Now, Sir, I conceive that the alteration we propose will be a moral improvement of the law, just in itself, and a great relief to the rural districts. It will be a great advantage to the agricultural interest, while at the same time it will be the remedy of a gross injustice under which the labouring man now exists."*If these words meant anything, they implied that there should be such an alteration in the law of settlement as would enable a man to obtain relief on the spot where he required it; and this must have been the intention of the right hon. Baronet when he said, "Pass the Corn Law Bill and the Tariff, and I will give an alteration in the law of settlement." By the present proposition they were only going back to that involved in the old* Hansard, Vol. lxxxiii. pp. 266, 267.76 Bill of last year; but the country would not be done out of the promised measure by adopting the instruction of the hon. Member for Malton. Look to the returns which he had moved for relative to the removals of the poor from the manufacturing districts to the rural districts, and the abuses which existed would be clearly shown, and the hardships would be manifest to which the poorer classes were exposed by the bad state of the laws. What happened in 1842? Why, it was one of the threats held out by the manufacturers to the agricultural gentlemen, that they would stop their mills and send back all their men to the agricultural districts. Did the manufacturers think that the manufacturing population had forgotten this threat? They must not suppose that that large class could patiently bear the notion that they were liable to such injustice—that the manufacturers might send back to the rural districts two-thirds of the population which they employed. He knew that last year the grossest delusions prevailed on this subject. They were told, "Look at the poor man, he is attached to his parish and place of settlement." This was the greatest delusion which could exist, for these were not the terms on which a poor man wished to return to his parish; be wished to return in such a state of independence as would obtain for him the respect of his native parish, and not be dragged from place to place as a pauper, and sent as a felon with his wife and family from the manufacturing to the rural districts. Now look to the following returns which he had moved for:—A Return specifying the number of families and persons removed by any local order or other authority to their place of settlement, from each manufacturing town in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cheshire, during the years 1841, 1842, and 1843; the date of such removal, the name of the parish to which removed, and the occupation or trade, and length of residence in the town from which such families and persons were so removed.Now, he felt bound to say, that, from some of these towns he had the greatest difficulty in obtaining returns, and more especially from Stockport. He had thought that it would have been unnecessary to appeal to Parliament to obtain these returns. He had sent down to Stockport, and asked for these returns, as he had understood that a great number of the poor had been removed, and the place, they were told in 1842, was going to rack and ruin. The clerk of the union in which Stockport was, refused to let a ratepayer of the 77 district see the returns, or to give any information as to the length of residence of the persons who had been removed in the three years of distress. From most of the towns he readily obtained the information he required; but this was not the case as to Blackburn, Stockport, Bury, and Leeds. In the returns from Stockport and other places they would find no information as to the period of residence of the parties removed. But what was the result of these returns for three years? In 1841, the distress consequent on the depression of trade commenced; 916 families were removed, consisting of 2,288. In 1842 the numbers were doubled; the numbers of families were 1,802, and composed of 5,277 persons; and in 1843 there was an increase of nearly 30 per cent, for the number of families removed was 2,236, comprising 7,200 persons. Thus altogether, in the three years from 1840, 5,054 families, composed of 14,765 persons, had been removed from the manufacturing towns to their places of settlement. Was this the treatment which these poor people should experience, who had passed the best part of their lives in these manufacturing towns. From Manchester, a man who had lived thirty-five years in the place was sent with his family back to his place of settlement. Do not tell him that the law of settlement was advantageous to the working man, when such cases occurred as that a man, after thirty-five years' residence, should be sent back to his original place of settlement under the operation of some obsolete law of the 13th and 14th of Charles II. They must not suppose that the working men would patiently submit to such legislation as placed them in such a condition. Now what was the state of the families sent from Stockport? He did not know whether any Irish Members were present, but certainly Ireland was as much interested as England in this matter. Only look into the return, which would show the large number of Irish people who were sent to Ireland from these manufacturing towns in 1841 and 1842. Several poor men with their families had been sent back to Ireland from Stockport: he did not know how long they had been resident there, as the authorities there, and at one or two other towns, pretended that they could not furnish the information, although it had been readily obtained from the rest of the towns. The clerk of the union at Stockport distinctly stated that he could not tell how long any of the persons 78 removed had resided in that town. One man with a wife and eleven children had been sent back to Ireland. In 1841 there was another case of a man with nine children, and another, an overlooker, with six children; another with nine children, an overlooker with eight, a spinner with eight, but he could not learn how long any of these poor persons had resided in the place. His object, therefore, in moving for the return had not been obtained in the manner which he could wish. He therefore asked what benefit such a law of settlement could be to the poor man? He would then ask what benefit was it to the ratepayer? He had that night presented a petition from the parish of St. Luke's, relative to the number of persons who were employed in the city of London, yet who were chargeable to that parish. If they meddled with the law of settlement at all, they could not do better than abolish it altogether. The Motion of the hon. Member for Malton only went to prop up a bad system. He did not know what might be the result of the proposition which he should make; but he was determined to place it on record, and he was satisfied that it would ultimately be carried. He had been asked whether the public mind was prepared for this change. He was satisfied that the operative classes in the manufacturing districts were clearly in its favour; and they were most desirous, if they needed relief, that they should be enabled to obtain it on the spot where the necessity arose. He had been, during the last week, in the manufacturing districts, and he was happy in being able to state that there had been a great improvement in the condition of the working classes in these districts. There was no time when they could judge better of the condition of the people than in holiday time, for if they had any surplus means they generally spent it in enjoyment at such times; and he could not run through the manufacturing districts without seeing the extent to which this prevailed, and he was delighted to see the improvement which had taken place in those districts. On Sunday he went from Manchester to Leeds; and the trains, numerous and long as they were, were not nearly sufficient to carry those anxious to visit their friends in the neighbouring towns. Look to the state of things in 1841 and 1842. Then the families of the labourers were without clothing, and they were told that, in consequence, the children could not appear in public. Persons 79 then talked of giving spiritual instruction to the labouring classes; but they said that they had no clothes or food for their children, and therefore could not send them for that purpose. These classes now appeared to have the means to enjoy, as far as their station allowed them, the great blessings of life. Under these circumstances, this was the time, above all others, when they could conveniently, and should, alter the law of settlement, with the view ultimately to get rid of it. When there was a state of depression in the manufacturing towns, they could not do this, as a great mass of the people would be at once thrown on the local rates; it would be unfair at once, under such circumstances, to inflict such an expenditure on them. If they looked now at the state of the country and at the improvement in the condition of the working classes, and also entertained the hope that the measure Parliament was about to adopt would improve the moral and social condition of all classes, it was clear that it was the proper time to get rid of the law of settlement, and to make an equitable adjustment of the Poor Law. He did not see why the manufacturers should not bear the burdens of relieving that unfortunate portion of society in their districts which became destitute, and who, by law, were entitled to relief. The hon. Member concluded by moving as an Amendment on Mr. E. Denison's Motion—To leave out the word 'provision,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'for the repeal of all laws regulating the settlement of the poor, and also to make provision that henceforth all poor persons entitled to relief should have their necessities relieved within the Union where such necessities occur; also, to make provision, that the State, by an equitable assessment, should provide the means for affording such relief,' instead thereof.
, in seconding the Motion, said he was sure if the House was aware of the evils which arose from transferring large bodies of destitute poor in seasons when trade was depressed, from the manufacturing to the rural districts, it would pause before it agreed to the Motion of the hon. Member for Malton. He would therefore cordially second the Motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury, as he was perfectly satisfied that the only way to give entire satisfaction would be for Parliament to abolish all law of settlement whatever.
§ MR. BRIGHT
said, the hon. Member for Finsbury had made a speech, from 80 which he was at a loss to discover whether the hon. Member desired most to oppose the Bill, or the Amendment of the hon. Member for Malton, or to aim a blow at the manufacturers. The hon. Member had gone down, it appeared, to the manufacturing districts last week, his object probably being to foment the trades union differences there. The hon. Member stated that the working classes in the manufacturing districts cared very little about the free-trade movement which had latterly been in progress; and the hon. Member stated, moreover, that the change about being made would be a great benefit to the working classes. Now, if the change was to be a great benefit to them, and yet if they cared nothing about it, he would like to know who were the parties who had been instrumental in promoting that apathy. Was it the advocates of free trade, or the hon. Member for Finsbury himself and his friends? But he would deny the existence of any such apathy on the part of the working classes. He believed, on the contrary, that they felt the greatest possible interest in the success of the free-trade movement, and that if there was anything which more than another had contributed to the success of that movement, it was the cordial understanding which existed with regard to it between the manufacturers and the operatives during the last twelve months. He believed that cordial understanding had a great effect in bringing that House to feel that a repeal of the Corn Laws could be no longer resisted. The hon. Member said that the great capitalists cared very little about their workmen; but was it not a fact which could not be disputed, that wherever the largest capital was expended in the establishment and management of a factory, the operatives were best provided for. Any one who had been down in the manufacturing districts must know, that wherever there was a large factory established, involving the expenditure of vast capital, there was more attention paid to the comfort, to the education, and to the general improvement of the operatives, than where there were small establishments; and yet, in the fact of this fact, the hon. Member pandered—for it was nothing less—to the prejudices of ignorant persons, by speaking to the disadvantage of the large capitalists in regard to their treatment of the working classes. The hon. Gentleman said, that when distressing times came these large capitalists did nothing for the operatives; 81 but the hon. Gentleman should know, that in the very years to which he referred, the large manufacturers of Lancashire and Yorkshire had worked three entire years for nothing, without producing any profit whatever to their owners, and merely in order that the working classes might obtain employment. The hon. Member might, if he wished, refer to Stockport, but he would find that such had been the case there; and he would learn also that at Halifax, the largest concern there, an establishment that payed in wages 120,000l. a year, or 360,000l. for these three years, did not, in all that time, return one single sixpence to the income tax. He hoped the noble Lord the Member for Lynn, who appeared to doubt the statement, did not think so badly of human nature as to suppose that such a case as this was not possible. He could tell the noble Lord that it was possible and true; and though there might not be similar cases in which the employment given, without any return, reached to such an enormous amount, yet he knew that there were scores, and he believed there were hundreds, of cases in which very large sums had been paid in wages, and where the manufacturers had not received one sixpence profit during the entire period of that distress. The hon. Gentleman objected to the instruction proposed by the hon. Member for Malton, and the hon. Member proposed what he thought was much worse. The instruction of the hon. Member for Malton might be adopted, and yet the Bill could pass, and be of considerable importance to the poor; but if the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury passed, it was clearly impossible that anything further could be done this year. Now, when the Settlement Bill had been proposed two years ago, he objected to it, because he believed it was unjust for a majority of that House to compel the large towns to support a population which the House prevented the manufacturers in those towns from employing. But now, when that objection did not lie, and when the Corn Law was to be abolished, he believed there was not one of the manufacturers in that House who would be found to vote against this Bill. The poor rate was not considered in the manufacturing districts to be such a burden as it was regarded by the agriculturists. The people there were so well employed, and there was consequently such little demand for poor rates compared with the amount of property, and the people had, besides, such a horror of being sent to 82 their parishes, dreading that they might never come from them again, that the manufacturers never thought it necessary to come to that House to look for relief from the burden of the poor law. [Mr. T. S. DUNCOMBE: You relieve yourselves by removing the poor.] The hon. Member alleged that they relieved themselves by removing the paupers from among them; but if the hon. Member inquired, he would find that it was to countries where no law of settlement existed that the majority of the paupers who were removed had been sent. They had been removed to Ireland and to Scotland in the proportion at least of two-thirds, if not three-fourths, of the entire number sent away; and was it to be supposed that when landlords in Ireland and in Scotland cleared their estates, without being subjected to any additional burden for the support of the poor people expelled, that the manufacturing towns were to take the maintenance of these poor persons upon them, at the same time that these very landlords were preventing them from giving employment to the people? He asked them, was it rational that they should allow these towns to be eaten up, as the hon. Gentleman admitted that Stockport had very nearly been in 1842? The hon. Member complained, in the next place, of there being no return made of the number of years that each person removed had been living in the town; but it was very often very difficult to find out the length of time a person had resided in the district; and it was, besides, possible that no memorandum might have been taken at the time the paupers were examined. But as to Stockport, he could tell the hon. Gentleman that there was a return, or rather a report, made with regard to that town in 1842, by Commissioners sent down by the Government. That report bore testimony to the character both of the employers and employed. It showed that nearly half the employers were ruined: and was not such a state of things some excuse for the steps that were taken to send back paupers to their parishes? But was there not something in the fact that these agriculturists themselves would rather starve in the streets of Stockport than be sent back to their parishes—that such was their dread of being sent away, they would not ask for relief while there was the least chance that such might be the result? Stockport was the very last town in the kingdom that the hon. Member for Finsbury should have cast a slur upon in that House. The 83 hon. Gentleman had, he would repeat, shown himself extremely active during his speech that night in his desire to throw an imputation on the town of Stockport. He was sorry that his hon. Friend the Member for Stockport was not present; if he were in the House, he would no doubt have something to say in defence of Stockport, did his hon. Friend think a defence needful. The hon. Member for Finsbury was not justified in putting himself forward as the organ of the working classes of the manufacturing districts. Whether in or out of that House, the associates of the hon. Gentleman were the greatest opponents of freedom and commerce. Their views should not, therefore, be taken as those of the people of this country, of whom they formed but a mere handful. [Mr. DUNCOMBE: Name my associates.] The hon. Member asked him to name his associates; but he could tell the hon. Member that those with whom he was found at public meetings, and with whom he had associated for years past, did not represent the feelings of the people of England. [Mr. DUNCOMBE: Name them.] It was unnecessary. They were well known already. But he could repeat that the hon. Gentleman did not state the opinions of the working classes in that House, when he said they were indifferent to the settlement of this great question. Though there might be some portion of the working classes among whom the hon. Gentleman was popular, and though he might possess influence to stimulate the bad passions of trades unions, yet these circumstances gave him no right to put himself forward as speaking the opinions of the operatives of Lancashire and of Yorkshire.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
Sir, the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has endeavoured to reflect on the agricultural interests. In answer to the charges made by my hon. Friend against the millowners of Stockport and other manufacturing towns, the hon. Gentleman has appealed to the reports of the Government Commissioners sent down to Stockport, as affording evidence of the good conduct of the millowners and manufacturers when labouring under great depression; but I think the hon. Gentleman must have remembered the report made by Mr. Trimmer, one of the Factory Commissioners, who, in speaking of the injuries done to the operatives in the factories in Stockport, says there were in the years 1837, 1838, 84 and 1839, no less than 340 cases of persons in the infirmary of Stockport suffering from the injuries which they had received while at work in the factories of that town. Out of these 340 persons no less than forty had been injured in attending the engines whilst in motion. He says he was at great pains to ascertain what the millowners and manufacturers had done towards compensating the operatives for the injuries they had received; and he reports that out of the 340 cases there were but two single instances in which the manufacturers and millowners had made any compensation for the injuries done to those who had been injured. Where could an example be found in the agricultural districts of three hundred and forty persons being seriously injured, and two only receiving compensation? I should have thought that if there were any man in this House who had a right to say he knew something of the feeling of the operatives, it was my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury. Upon what interest is he returned to this House? Is it on the interest of the millowners, or is it on the interest of the landed aristocracy? Is he not especially returned by a constituency consisting of the lower classes—of the working classes? Therefore, I think we have a right to take the opinions of the hon. Member for Finsbury as affording a just criterion of the feelings of the operatives of the country. And I do believe he has told the House the truth when he told you that the operatives took no great interest in the question mooted between the agricultural and the manufacturing interest. Sir, I do not believe that the operatives are free traders. They knew full well that those free-trade measures are intended merely to benefit the millowners. The operatives know that the object of those measures is, by making bread cheap, to reduce wages to the continental level, and that is the reason why the operatives, who have become well instructed, do not side with the millowners; that is the reason why the operatives do not side with those cotton lords—with those Manchester politicians, who wish to beat down the industry of this country, and encourage that of foreign countries. I shall oppose the Motion of my hon. relative, for it appears to me that the adoption of his instructions would be the greatest injustice on the outside parishes, particularly in those unions where large towns suddenly spring up. The second Clause of those instructions recommended that the rate should be 85 fixed according to the average of the last seven years, and that that mode of fixing the rate is to continue for ever. This is a sort of plagiarism on the Tithe Commutation Bill. The proportion of charge is always to remain the same; so that if one parish shall rise in value from 10,000l. to 200,000l. a year, another parish which does not at all improve in value is to be made subject to the rate increased by the towns that may so grow up. The result of this arrangement must be, that in a union containing from twenty-three to twenty-five parishes, the parish which is in an uncultivated and barren district, and did not improve, would be entirely eaten up by the increased rate created by the multitude that might have flocked from some distant parish of the union. For these reasons I shall oppose the proposition of my hon. relative. With respect to the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury, I think there is so much of justice and humanity in it, that, although there is something in it with which I cannot fully agree, I think we ought not to decide on it in such a thin House, and without giving it further consideration. I trust, therefore, we shall come to no decision to-night, but adjourn the consideration of the Amendment he has brought forward till some later occasion. It was stated to-night by the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that the Government never held forth the idea that they were going to alter the law of settlement. The hon. Member for Finsbury has read a part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on bringing forward his measure this year in answer to that statement; and I appeal to the House and to the country, whether, until this Bill was laid on the Table of the House, the country was not altogether under the impression that we were going to have a new law of settlement? Why, the hon. Member for Breconshire charged us with delaying, by our opposition to the Corn Bill, the measure for the benefit of the poor. He said we were delaying a measure which was to prevent all the cruelties now committed for want of this new law of settlement. What pretence, then, is there for saying that it never was held out by the Government that it was their intention to widen the basis of the law of settlement? I agree altogether with my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury, that justice requires that the property of the country should contribute more largely to the support of the poor. 86 I believe that the poor who have been worked out by the cotton manufacturers and millowners should not be hunted back in their old age to the parishes in which they were born. I agree with my hon. Friend that the poor man feels no gratification, after he has passed his life with his wife and family in a manufacturing town, in being returned as a pauper to the agricultural parish where he was born but is forgotten. For these reasons I shall oppose the instruction to the Committee moved by my hon. relative the Member for Malton; and I trust the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend will be postponed till a period when there shall be an opportunity of considering the matter more fully. I believe the proposition of the hon. Member will have the support of the country—at all events, it will of the working classes.
SIR T. D. ACLAND
thought the Motion of the hon. Member for Malton entitled to the fullest consideration. It was, therefore, his intention to vote that the Bill should be considered in Committee, though he did not regard himself as bound to adhere to the provisions that either the hon. Member for Malton or any other Member might propose for attaining his object. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Denison) proposed to rate the various parishes of a union, not according to the actual property of the individual ratepayers, but according to the proportion now existing, not disturbing that, but maintaining as between them the status quo. But the noble Lord had just stated that this measure would thus become injurious to those whom it was intended to benefit, and probably it would be necessary to find some means of reviewing occasionally the proportion to be contributed by each parish. Then, again, it was scarcely possible but that the parishes immediately adjoining increasing towns should have some share in the increased value of labour created by capital expended in those towns. Arrangements ought to be made with a view to such an increase of population. These were considerations to be gone into before the proposed instruction became law. But his (Sir T. D. Acland's) great object was, that the main intent of this non-removal law should be attained. It would be a great blessing to the labouring population, and its results would approximate at all events, and perhaps as far as possible, to the more valuable parts of the change that would be effected by an abolition of settlement. 87 The point most aimed at by Mr. Sturges Bourne was, that a three years' residence should be the only ground of settlement; and the fairness, the justice of the case, was, that the labourer who had produced the wealth of his employer should be relieved out of the resources to which he had contributed. This Bill was certainly a step in the right direction. It was another question, however, whether the instruction proposed by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Denison) was not likely to delay the Bill and seriously hinder it, though it was the just corollary from the principle of non-removal, or making residence the principal ground of relief. It was said years ago by an intelligent and benevolent landowner who was examined upon this subject, and who was asked what he thought of a three years' residence settlement—"Why, the obvious difficulty is, that where the property of a parish is in few hands, and there is a large town near, you will find every cottage pulled down." The present proposition would meet that difficulty; but it was not indispensable that that point should be made part of this Bill. The right hon. the Home Secretary had intimated that he would not object to proceed with the Bill with the addition proposed by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Denison); but at all events let the Bill pass, whether such further provisions as were expedient were made now or hereafter.
§ MR. BANKES
agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the adoption of the proposition of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. E. Denison) would almost infallibly upset the Bill on the present occasion, and consequently could not but feel surprise that the Members of the Government should give that proposition their support. The right hon. the Home Secretary had said that it was a proposition so distasteful to the country at large, so much disliked by the agricultural interest, that he had been compelled to abandon it before; and yet he was willing to make it part of a Bill, which was to be a premium (for the term "compensation" was now repudiated) to the agricultural interest for concessions they had made; and the hon. Member for North Devon seemed disposed to vote for this proposition, endangering, nay, insuring the rejection of a Bill to which he professed himself friendly. He was also friendly to some of the provisions of the Bill; but he would carry it further in Committee, disliking, with the hon. Member for Halifax, this new and anomalous 88 principle, introduced for the first time into our Poor Law—a right of relief without a settlement. If there were doubts respecting a settlement being gained by residence, let those doubts be settled by an Act declaring that five years' or that three years' industrial residence should give a settlement; and he himself would propose an instruction, if necessary, that it should give a settlement, and not a mere right to relief, irremovable. This latter would be, in reality, no boon at all. Supposing an operative removed, in spite of the proposed law, from a manufacturing town, when no longer wanted, after working there for three or five years; who was to resist the removal? The pauper would have no funds for the purpose, nor would it be worth the while of the parish to which he was sent to spend money in contesting the question, because a decision upon it (unlike a decision at present on a settlement question) would fix nothing; it could not fix him to be settled in the manufacturing town, and if sent back there he might be removed again. Therefore, instead of having nothing but this new undefined right of relief, let it be accompanied, as at present, with a settlement. But the hon. Member for Durham had boasted largely of the indifference of the manufacturer to the payment of rates. The fact was, that the manufacturers were in a very different position with regard to rates from those who possessed other sorts of property. The establishments from which they gained their enormous fortunes were not rated with respect to the profits they derived from them; and, with regard to their stock in trade, a Bill was passed every year to exempt them; a Bill which, by the by, hon. Members would pass now, besides looking to a very different mode of rating such property in future. With regard to the proposition of the hon. Member for Finsbury, he (Mr. Bankes) hoped, with the noble Member for Lynn, that there would be opportunity hereafter for considering so important a suggestion.
§ MR. SPOONER
had no wish to detain the House except to put himself right with the hon. Member for Finsbury. He assured that hon. Member that he was perfectly mistaken if he supposed that he entertained the slightest objection to the principle of the Bill proposed by the right hon. Baronet, namely, that an industrial residence of five years should give the people so residing an exemption from removability. This was a principle which he regarded 89 as just and sound, and he should give it his cordial assent; and in saying this he believed he spoke the sentiments of the general manufacturing interest—who had no wish to send the people back to their original parishes upon the occurrence of a revulsion of trade, or when the people met with any misfortune; but they were obliged to do so by the present law. He knew not how the hon. Member for Finsbury imagined that he had formed a different opinion from that which he had just expressed. He had certainly seconded the Motion of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire to send the Bill to a Committee upstairs, because he felt that many of the details of the Bill were exceedingly imperfect; and that they would be much better dealt with by a Committee up-stairs than by a Committee of the House. Had that Motion been adopted, he felt that the Committee would, by this time, have framed a Bill which the House would have been able and willing to entertain, instead of which they were only just entering upon the discussion of the Bill at this late period of the Session; and, if one might judge from the turn the debate had taken, with little chance of its being brought to a speedy conclusion. He should certainly give his vote in opposition to the proposal of the hon. Member for Malton. It was liable to many objections; many of those objections had been stated, and he should not trouble the House by repeating what had been said; but there was one objection which had not been stated, and in his mind it was a very strong one. It proposed to carry out the New Poor Law, which he regarded as quite unconstitutional; and it proposed to increase the power of the Commissioners in executing that law; and he was quite sure that the manner in which they had hitherto carried it out was too fresh, at least in one instance, in the recollection of the House to encourage them to increase those powers. He (Mr. Spooner) objected to extending the principle of the New Poor Law, and he objected to increase the power of the Commissioners; and, as he believed the proposition of the hon. Member for Malton would do both, he should give it his decided opposition. With respect to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Dorsetshire for carr-ying out still further the principle of settlement, it was one which required deep and serious consideration. He should give it all the attention in his power; but he could not promise it his support, for it seemed to 90 him to be the most disadvantageous to the paupers themselves.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
was anxious, in the first place, to express his surprise at the misconception into which the right hon. Gentleman (the Member for Northampton) had fallen. The hon. Gentleman had said, that he believed he (Sir James Graham) had stated, that if the proposition of the hon. Member for Malton were rejected, he should consider it expedient to proceed with the measure. He believed that he stated exactly the reverse. He had said that if the House should reject that proposition, still the measure was so advantageous on the whole that he should give it his earnest support. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Birmingham, that the principle of the Bill was irremovability after a certain time. He agreed also with what had been stated on the other side of the House, as well as upon his own side, that the definition of residence was difficult, if not impossible. As the law now stood, residence was an indispensable ingredient in several descriptions of settlement; such as a settlement gained by hiring and service, or a settlement by estate. The noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) knew very well that the right of voting in many boroughs was, under the old law, vested in inhabitants resident therein; and yet that right, important as it was, had never been yet strictly defined by law. It might be possible, however, when they came to discuss the important clauses relating to this branch of the subject, to introduce words which would make good such a definition. With respect to the question mooted by the hon. Member for Worcester, he quite agreed with the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Birmingham. It would certainly simplify the measure greatly to make irremovability confer a settlement; but such an alteration would make a very important change in the character of the measure. If the House went a step further than it was proposed by the present Bill to go, and created a settlement in the place of irremovability, from that settlement would flow derivative rights. This change, therefore, would open the door to a question of immense magnitude. It would, as he had said before, simplify the whole question very much, but a very great and important change would be introduced. There was one more point on which he was anxious to say a few words. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire, and some of the Gentlemen who were sitting near him, appeared to 91 think that he (Sir J. Graham) had not acted with good faith in respect to this measure, because he was willing to adopt the instruction proposed by the hon. Member for Malton. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire said that this instruction would place the measure, with reference to the more important parts of it, in much the same position as the Bill which was introduced last Session. Since last Session, however, he (Sir J. Graham) had reason to believe that the propositions which had been made were become more acceptable to a large portion of the House than they had been previously, and that the eyes of some hon. Members were opened to the extreme hardship which would fall on many persons if they were only irremovable from a particular parish. There were many parishes in which the property in the land belonged solely to one or two landlords, and had been in their possession for many years, the effect of which had been to diminish the number of residents in those parishes, while the parties who cultivated the soil resided in small neighbouring parishes, where the property in the land was much subdivided. Now, irremovability, unaccompanied by the principle embodied in the instruction proposed by the hon. Member for Malton, would make these persons chargeable to the small neighbouring parishes, while they ought to be maintained by the parishes of the large proprietors. It had been objected by hon. Members that he had not proposed the alteration which was contemplated by the hon. Member for Malton; but as he had now reason to think that this alteration was not so distasteful to the House as it was in the earlier part of last Session, he could not, believing the principle involved in the alteration to be sound, hesitate to support it himself. He believed that if the instruction should be adopted, not more than six or seven days would be required to make the proposition conformable with the other parts of the Bill. With regard, however, to the belief that on the part of the Government there was any disposition to defeat the progress of this measure, he must give a solemn disclaimer to any such intention. He was most anxious to carry the measure, and to carry it without delay. With reference to the proposition of the hon. Member for Finsbury, who suggested that the law of settlement should be entirely abolished, he hoped that the hon. Member would be content with placing his opinion on record, without pressing it further, He hoped that the hon. 92 Member would look at the second clause in the Bill, which would remove all doubt on the subject, and which declared what the existing law was. It enacted that the overseers of every parish should take order for the relief of every poor person found destitute therein, but not settled therein, in like manner as if he were settled. He would only assure the House, in conclusion, that whether the instruction of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Malton should be carried or not, he was most anxious that the present Bill should pass into a law.
§ MR. BROTHERTON
said, that his plan was, that rich parishes should contribute to the relief of the poor, by whose labour they had been benefited. As to the term "industrial residence," he could not understand it, though he could understand what was meant by residence.
LORD J. RUSSELL
observed, that before he went to a vote on this measure, he wished to guard himself, as his hon. Friend the Member for North Devon had done, against being bound thereby to any future vote. The question before the House was a very difficult one, and certainly the difficulty had not been diminished by the course which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham) had taken. He believed the House was generally agreed on one point, namely, that when a man had for many years laboured in a particular parish, he should not be sent, when incapable of labour, to a different parish in which he might have been born. The right hon. Gentleman proposed in his Bill that this should be done by making persons who had resided five years in a parish irremovable. Upon this his (Lord J. Russell's) hon. Friend stated that there were certain localities in which such a provision would tend to the clearing of estates, the pulling down of cottages, and throwing an undue burden on the populous parishes in the neighbourhood. In these cases great hardships would be introduced by the Bill. But when his hon. Friend proposed to remedy these evils by a union instead of a parochial settlement, he owned that he felt such a strong objection to the proposal, that he did not think that he should, but for the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman, have made up his mind to give his vote in favour of the proposition. The House would recollect that there were many parishes in which there was a great accumulation of labour, which was only provided for at present by the good management, prudence, and humanity of those 93 who resided within those parishes. It was no answer to say that the administration of poor relief vested with the board of guardians, because every parish in the union would consider what burdens would be imposed on them, and would provide accordingly. If they changed all that, and declared that for the future relief should be given in the union, and that there should be a union and not a parochial settlement, he owned that he dreaded the effect which such a declaration and such an enactment might have upon labour. He did not feel satisfied if this declaration took place, whether those who now felt it incumbent upon them to provide employment would not cease to do so, and whether there would not be such a displacement of labour that the working classes in particular districts would feel the alteration to be an injury and a hardship instead of a benefit. Supposing, however, this difficulty not to be so great as he took it to be, there might still be great practical difficulties in the way. His hon. Friend the Member for Malton proposed that the rates should be levied according to the average amount of the expenditure in each parish for a certain number of years. Inequalities might exist, and although his hon. Friend might contrive some remedy for this, it must require a complicated remedy. There were also other difficulties. The case might be taken of a parish imprudently managed, where the rates had been allowed to increase in consequence of the want of employment for labour, and where now a better state of things was springing up—it would surely be unjust to load the inhabitants of that parish with the consequences of their past mismanagement. At the same time, when the right hon. Gentleman, on the part of the Government, declared that he wished the instruction of his hon. Friend to be carried, he thought it but just that the right hon. Gentleman, who had in fact become the maker of this proposal, should be allowed to take the instruction with him into the Committee as he thought proper. The real practical proposition before the House was, that when they went into Committee the right hon. Gentleman should alter the whole frame of the Bill, and make another Bill in conformity with the instruction which he had adopted. The right hon. Gentleman must perceive that the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Malton, which was for the present year new to the country, being the proposition which in 94 other years had met with great opposition, ought to receive much consideration; and he must see that the mere insertion of his clauses in the Bill by no means settled the question. The country at large, which expressed so many objections before to the proposition, must have the opportunity of considering the question as a new Bill. He had said that he did not object to the course which the right hon. Gentleman thought proper to follow. He thought that when so many difficulties were in the way, the last chance which the House would have of obtaining a good measure was, by taking, in the first instance, the course which the Government recommended. Though the right hon. Gentleman had changed his mind so many times on this subject, and had proposed at one time a birth settlement, and at another a union settlement; and now proposed to alter entirely the principle of the measure which he had introduced during the present Session—though the right hon. Gentleman had done this, he was far from saying that he thought it extraordinary that the Government should hesitate on a subject of such vast importance to the people. He certainly recollected the time when the right hon. Gentleman laid down a rule, without which, he said, a Government was entitled to no confidence whatever. He said that the Government were bound to take into consideration all the questions connected with the relief of the poor, and to weigh all the facts which bore upon them carefully, but that they ought not to introduce any measure on such a subject to the House unless they were persuaded that it was the best possible scheme that could be devised. Experience, he thought, must since have convinced the right hon. Gentleman that his judgment, though so solemnly delivered, though so very oracular, was rather harsh towards those who preceded him in office. For his own part, he wished to have all the information that could be obtained upon the subject. The law was one which, in itself, had been much misunderstood. The hon. Member for Birmingham objected to the instruction, because it carried further, as he said, the principle of the New Poor Law. He (Lord John Russell) did not think it a necessary consequence of the New Poor Law that this principle should be adopted. He thought that the New Poor Law had operated for the benefit of the working classes, and not to their injury; and year after year would induce them to come over to this opinion. In 95 giving, however, his vote for the instruction of his hon. Friend near him, if, upon further consideration he should think that the principle of a union settlement was objectionable, he should feel at liberty to revert to the Bill in its present shape.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, that although he agreed with what had fallen from the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), the Member for the city of London, he thought that his noble Friend had been rather severe upon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, in charging him with having changed his opinion. The right hon. Gentleman had informed them that he had brought in a Bill last year which he considered to be a sound one, but that he had to withdraw it, because the country did not approve of it, and that he had during the present Session introduced another Bill, although he considered it to be unsound, for the purpose of meeting the wishes of the country; and that he had now fallen back upon his original proposition, finding that it was likely to be approved of — therefore he (Lord J. Manners) thought that his noble Friend was rather severe upon the right hon. Gentleman in charging him with having changed his opinion. He wished to call the attention of the House to the state in which hon. Members might be placed, who would too implicitly rely upon the Government carrying all measures with the same reckless regard of consequences as they had shown in pressing forward a measure on a late occasion. What would be thought, he asked, of the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department had come forward on the part of the Government, to the aid of the Motion of their professed opponent of the measure then before the House? Whatever might be the advantages or the disadvantages of the Motion of the hon. Member for Malton, he was not then prepared to accede to it, as he was much more disposed to agree with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and should he press for a division, he would support him with his vote.
§ MR. BORTHWICK
rose for the purpose of moving that the debate should then be adjourned, as many Members had left the House, under the impression that the Amendments upon the Paper in reference to that Bill should be considered on going into Committee; and as he was satisfied that they would desire to express their opinions upon those amendments, he 96 thought that his proposition should be agreed to. He believed that it was competent for the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), or any other hon. Member, to vote for the motion of the hon. Member for Malton, and afterwards oppose it in Committee; but still he thought that such a course would have the effect of creating false impressions in the country. He did not rise for the purpose of making any observation upon the merits of the measure, but simply that the debate should then be adjourned.
§ MR. DUNCOMBE
wished to say a few words as to the Amendment he thought it his duty to propose. He never could have believed that hon. Gentlemen would have adopted the Motion of his hon. Friend; but having acted as they had done on this occasion, it was his opinion that they should not allow such a miserable tinkering of the question; because the course the Government had adopted was nothing less. If they were to know that those alterations would be made, let the House make them in accordance with the feelings and wishes of the people. It appeared that his observations—he knew not why—had excited the wrath of the hon. Member for Durham. The hon. Member said that if the repeal of the Corn Laws had depended on him and his party, it never would have been carried. It would not now have been passed. The hon. Gentleman was pleased to say that he (Mr. Duncombe) had gone down to the manufacturing districts for the purpose of fomenting dissensions between the employer and the employed, and of persuading the working classes, that the manufacturers did not seek for the repeal of the Corn Laws for the benefit of those classes. Well, he maintained that still. He said they did not seek the repeal of that law for the working classes alone. As to the charge, that if the repeal of this law depended on him, it would not now have taken place, he was sure he could see no reason why the hon. Gentleman should say so. For twenty years he had had a seat in that House, and for those twenty years he had ever voted for a repeal of the Corn Law. The hon. Gentleman had not condescended to say who were his (Mr. Duncombe's) associates, and he was sure he did not then know to whom the hon. Gentleman alluded. He had received several invitations to attend the League meetings, but he refused to go. He always had set his face against what were called "ticket meetings." He 97 always declared his willingness to attend meetings for public purposes, provided they were open meetings; and for that reason he had always resisted any invitation for attempting at genteel comedy at Covent Garden, and had refused to tumble with certain gentlemen at Sadler's Wells. An attempt had been made to call him to account in Finsbury because he did not go to tumble with these gentlemen at Sadler's Wells, or take part in their light comedy at Covent Garden. What was the result? He should be glad to go to any public meeting to ascertain public opinion. But those gentlemen had not submitted to public opinion. They needed not to have been afraid of discussion if their principle was right, as he believed it to be. They certainly had not looked to the interest of the working classes in the manufacturing towns, more particularly as regarded the removal of the poor in a state of destitution and want. His hon. Friend was wrong in the view he had taken; if he would go with him into the manufacturing districts, and hold a public meeting, he was willing to submit the case to the House and to the public. But to return to the question before the House. It was proposed the debate should be adjourned, and certainly, the opinion of the House appeared to be so unsettled, that an adjournment might perhaps be the best course. The noble Lord supported the Resolution, but said he would not pledge himself to any part of it. But as to the Bill itself, it was that which public opinion had condemned. What was the use, then, of allowing this Bill to be brought in? Here was an attempt, which they all saw, to tinker it; and to frustrate that attempt he certainly would take the sense of the House on his Amendment. If there were any other alteration to be made, or any Amendment proposed, it would be competent to any hon. Member to move it afterwards. But he said that the great principle involved was, that those who required relief should have it; and the House might depend on it that it was a matter of indifference to the poor and unfortunate whence relief was afforded, because it must be uniform. They could not do, therefore, a greater injustice than sending them about from parish to parish. They should be maintained by a uniform assessment on the property of the county, and the poor man should be enabled to say, "The State is my union," and not the miserable system of parishes and unions which was now held forth in this country.
§ Motion for the Adjournment withdrawn.
§ The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 105; Noes 59: Majority 46.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Langston, J. H.|
|Acland, T. D.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Acton, Col.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||M'Neill, D.|
|Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Marshall, W.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Beckett, W.||Milton, Visct.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Moffatt, G.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Morgan, O.|
|Bright, J.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Broadley, H.||Neville, R.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Parker, J.|
|Buller, C.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Cardwell, E.||Peel, J.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Rice, E. R.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G.||Scott, R.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Seymour, Lord|
|Cripps, W.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Smith, B.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Dundas, D.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Escott, B.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Stuart, H.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Strutt, E.|
|Forster, M.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Granger, T. C.||Thornely, T.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Thornhill, G.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Tollemache, hon. F. J.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Troubridge, Sir E. T.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Hope, G. W.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Horsman, E.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Hotham, Lord||Wood, C.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Howard, P. H.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Hume, J.||Young, J.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Denison, E. J.|
|Kemble, H.||Hawes, B.|
|List of theNOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Bridgeman, H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Carew, W. H. P.|
|Balfour, J. M.||Chelsea, Visct.|
|Bankes, G.||Christie, W. D.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Christopher, R. A.|
|Beresford, Maj.||Chute, W. L. W.|
|Borthwick, P.||Clifton, J. T.|
|Clive, Visct.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Duke, Sir J.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Duncan, G.||Packe, C. W.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Palmer, R.|
|Ewart, W.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Granby, Marquess of||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Hastie, A.||Spooner, R.|
|Henley, J. W.||Stanley, E.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Stuart, J.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Tower, C.|
|Hudson, G.||Trelawny, J. S.|
|Hussey, T.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Lawson, A.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Long, W.||Williams, W.|
|Lowther, hon. Col.||Wood, Col.|
|Mackenzie, W. F.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Manners, Lord J.||TELLERS.|
|Miles, W.||Duncombe, T.|
|Napier, Sir C.||Johnson, Gen.|
§ The House divided again on the main Question, that it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to make provision for the establishment of Union Settlements:—Ayes 92; Noes 70: Majority 18.
|List of theAYES.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Hotham, Lord|
|Acland, T. D.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Acton, Col.||Howard, P. H.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Hume, J.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Baring, rt. hon. W. B.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Langston, J. H.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Bright, J.||M'Neill, D.|
|Broadley, H.||Manners, Lord C. S.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Brotherton, J.||Marshall, W.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Meynell, Capt.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Milton, Visct.|
|Carnegie, hon. Capt.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Clay, Sir W.||Moffatt, G.|
|Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Clive, hon. R. H.||Neville, R.|
|Cockburn, rt. hon. Sir G.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Colebroke, Sir T. E.||Pakington, J. S.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.||Parker, J.|
|Damer, hon. Col.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Peel, J.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Dundas, D.||Rice, E. R.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Escott, B.||Sandon, Visct.|
|Flower, Sir J.||Scott, R.|
|Forster, M.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Goulburn, rt. hon. H.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Smith, B.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Herbert, rt. hon. S.||Somerset, Lord G.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Hill, Lord M.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Stanton, W. H.|
|Hope, G. W.||Stuart, H.|
|Horsman, E.||Strutt, E.|
|Sutton, hon. H. M.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Tancred, H. W.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Thornely, T.||Wood, C.|
|Thornhill, G.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Tollemache, hon. F. J.||Young, J.|
|Trelawny, J. S.||TELLERS.|
|Troubridge, Sir E. T.||Denison, E. J.|
|Vesey, hon. T.||Hawes, B.|
|Dist of theNOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Lawson, A.|
|Arkwright, G.||Long, W.|
|Barrington, Visct.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Beckett, W.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Beresford, Maj.||Miles, W.|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Morgan, O.|
|Borthwick, P.||Napier, Sir C.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Neeld, J.|
|Buller, C.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Christie, W. D.||O'Brien, A. S.|
|Christopher, R. A.||O'Connell, J.|
|Chute, W. L. W.||Packe, C. W.|
|Clifton, J. T.||Palmer, R.|
|Clive, Visct.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Cripps, W.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Duncan, G.||Seymer, H. K.|
|Duncombe, T.||Seymour, Lord|
|Egerton, W. T.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Sotheron, T. H. S.|
|Ewart, W.||Spooner, R.|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Stanley, E.|
|Fitzroy, Lord C.||Stuart, J.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Tower, C.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Villiers, Visct.|
|Granger, T. C.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Hastie, A.||Williams, W.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Wood, Col.|
|Hinde, J. H.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Hudson, G.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||TELLERS.|
|Johnson, Gen.||Bankes, G.|
|Kemble, H.||Henley, G. W.|
§ On the Question that the Speaker do leave the Chair,
§ SIR R. INGLIS
said, he would not take the trouble of inquiring to whom the largest share of blame was to be imputed for the state in which the Bill then was—he would not stay to inquire whether it were owing to the conduct of Her Majesty's Government in deserting the Bill, or to the noble Lord the Member for London in giving his powerful support to a principle in which he expressed his want of sympathy; or whether it might rest on those who—consistent, at all events—had refused to support the propositions of the hon. Member for Malton. It was proposed to go into Committee pro formâ, though they knew the principle of the hon. Member for Malton could not be carried into effect this present Session, even if it were admitted to be feasible. The Bill would be 101 entirely altered by the effect of the Amendment, and it would be hardly possible to effect the Parliamentary alterations in less time than the discussion on the Bill could be reopened.
§ MR. T. DUNCOMBE
said, that the Bill had now become the Bill of his hon. Friend; and he would ask if the hon. Gentleman was prepared to bring forward his clauses at that moment? It was proposed that the Government should introduce the alterations in the Bill; but were there not others who might wish to move instructions with a view to amendments in the Bill. The Irish Coercion Bill had been fixed for Monday; but in his opinion they would be better employed on Monday, in discussing a Bill the object of which was connected with the relief of the poor in England, than in proposing a Coercion Bill for Ireland; and he would move that this Bill should have precedence on Monday.
§ MR. HENLEY
objected to proceeding with the Committee of the Bill at twelve o'clock at night. It would look like a fraud to the people of England to proceed at that hour, and without further consideration, with clauses affecting the rating, which was the whole gist of the Bill. The proposition to alter the Bill ought to be for some time before the country, in order that the people could express their opinion of it when a Bill was to be proposed totally different from that which the Government had brought forward at the commencement of the Session; to proceed at once with a measure of which the country had no intimation, would be looked upon by the country as a fraud.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
observed, that he had no intention of deserting the measure for which he stood responsible. He had been exposed to the taunts of both sides of the House; but these would not induce him to relax in any course he might consider it his duty to follow. The hon. Member for Oxfordshire had, for one, used expressions towards him which he thought scarcely warranted by the usages of debate or of that House. Of that, however, he wished to say nothing more. He had a suggestion to make with reference to the measure now before the House, which he would offer to the hon. Member for Malton, and if accepted, he thought ultimately it would prove for the benefit of all parties. The suggestion was this, that the House would allow the further discussion of the Bill to stand over until Monday. In the interval he should have an opportunity of conferring 102 with the Gentleman who had carried the instructions. That Gentleman would then make known his clauses, and on which both would no doubt agree. He would be answerable for the introduction of the clauses, and he would then ask the House to go into Committee pro formâ on Monday, when a day could be fixed for further progress.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
observed, that the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down stated he had not deserted the Bill; but he was of opinion that he had not only deserted the measure, but that such desertion had not been his first. He had seen in the division that night a Lord of the Treasury and a Lord of the Admiralty voting on different sides of the House. He was not aware those official persons ought to have been found where they were seen. The Government would, perhaps, think so, as respected one at least. For himself, he was glad to find that hon. Gentlemen were sufficiently independent to exercise their own opinion; and he trusted that they would eventually resolve to shake off their subserviency in other matters.
§ Committee deferred till Monday.