§ MR. BANKES
rose to oppose the Bill at that stage, because there was not one clause in it of which he approved. The noble Lord had expressed no disapprobation of the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners, and considered them qualified to fill office under the new Bill. ["No!"] He understood the noble Lord to have said on a former occasion that he would enter into no understanding that the same persons should not fill the newly-created offices. The noble Lord had the power of appointing them; and if he did consider them not competent, it was his duty to have taken an earlier opportunity of removing them. If the same persons were to be reappointed, he should have thought it better to have gone on in the same system, than taken an inconvenient time, at that late period of the Session, of making the change. He complained that the report of the Andover Committee had never been followed up by any Member of that Committee. He then approved of establishing a more direct representation of the interests of the poor in that House; but it was established 667 by the Bill in a highly objectionable manner. It might have been obtained at less expense, and in a much better mode. It was now assumed that the body of Commissioners, created at first for a temporary purpose, was to be made permanent. Nobody could look at the Bill and not see that it was intended to be of a permanent character. It was quite obvious that the new arrangement was intended to be permanent. It was, therefore, a permanent system the House was called upon to consider; and, as a permanent system, he objected to it. He had on a former occasion stated something about the increased patronage which the new Bill would give; and he had been told in reply, that no increase of patronage would occur. But every one know what an essential increase of patronage was the control of two additional scats in that House. Such a control, in his opinion, was no inconsiderable increase of patronage to Ministers. If he were asked what he had to propose in opposition to the present measure, he would say, without troubling the House with any lengthened details, that a scheme of less extent, more agreeable to public feeling, more efficient for securing the good administration of the Poor Law, and for providing effectually for the interest of the poor, would have been preferable to the present measure. It would have been better had the plan of Lord Althorp, of making the measure temporary, not been departed from; and, instead of the patronage of the Crown being increased, had an opposite system been adopted. It would have been better to have intrusted to the local authorities a greater degree of discretion and power; at the same time having a central committee in the metropolis, and a Member of the Poor Law Commission in the House, immediately connected with the Home Office, who would, in his opinion, have proved a more efficient public officer than the contemplated new Board. The new Board was to be formed on the principle of the Board of Control. Undoubtedly the system of the Board of Control had worked well for India; but that was no reason for adopting the same system for England. The old system was devised by Sir Matthew Hale, and established a cheap local administration; it was because they did not trust the local authorities that these difficulties had occurred. The Board sitting in London did not know how their regulations worked in the country. Similar cases to those which had occurred at Andover would 668 have been discovered elsewhere, had there been efficient superintendence and proper investigation, or, if, on the other hand, a wider discretion and a more direct power had been vested in the local officers. He did not deny that the general principle of the law was most humane, and that it had been carefully framed by most benevolent men; but the central control was inefficient, and, in consequence of its inefficiency, had disgusted all parties. He desired to maintain the law as had been originally intended; and, to relieve it from its present unpopularity, he called upon the Government to discontinue altogether the existing administrative system. He considered that they might safely invest a greater discretion in the local guardians; and, admitting of appeal to a central power in cases of necessity, they might, in this way, establish a system which would work as well, and with as excellent general effect, as the system of magistracy. He hoped that the noble Lord would be content with one seat for the Commission; no one would grudge that; and with this check upon local abuses the administration of the law would be carried out satisfactorily to all parties. Under the circumstances he thought it would be much better if the present system were continued until another Parliament had assembled. There would be many advantages if Members came to the consideration of the question fresh from their constituents; and if it was now at once understood that a proper remedy would be applied, the unpopularity which at present attached to the law would pass away. They could not hope to make the administration of a Poor Law popular so long as they refused to adopt a system different from that hitherto pursued. He regretted that a measure deserving of support, should, for this reason, have been met by general aversion; but as the question stood, he must object to the Speaker leaving the chair, and to the further progress of the measure. He begged to move as an Amendment that the House go into Committee that day three months.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
thought the noble Lord would best attain the object he had in view, of bringing the debate to a conclusion that night, if he gave the House the assurance that when the Bill had passed, no one would have to complain of the employment of the men who, in the situations they had held, had proved themselves so utterly unworthy of the confidence reposed in them. So much the country had 669 anticipated from the Government; and be regretted to say, that there seemed a chance of everybody being disappointed. What was the reason the hon. Member for Andover had refrained from bringing those resolutions which had so often been the subject of conversation before the House? Why, he believed that the noble Lord would propose a complete change in the administration of the law. It was, how over, gratifying to find, from what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that, whatever arrangement was made, they would get rid of two at least of these men. The Commissioners had been proved, in numerous instances, to have grossly neglected their duty; in no one case had a Chief Commissioner made himself acquainted with the practice and system pursued by the country authorities; and that, it might be concluded, was one of the reasons which had led the noble Lord to the conclusion that the present management was ineffective and unsatisfactory. A Chief Commissioner had been asked if he thought it expedient, on the appointment of an assistant commissioner, to hold out the hope of promotion; and his answer was, '' No; except it be on the ground that, in the course of his duty, he had visited and become acquainted with the practices of boards of guardians." This was certainly a very important point; and he trusted that in the bestowal of patronage under this Bill, the noble Lord would take care that no Commissioner was appointed who had not fully informed himself of the manner in which the law was carried out by the local authorities. If this were the only argument that could be urged against the reappointment of the present men, it should be sufficient to disentitle them to the confidence of every Member of the House. He had seen in the newspapers, that in one county—he thought in Wales—a Poor Law Commissioner was offering himself as a candidate to stand at the approaching general election: this was a conclusive intimation of what was expected; and unless the Government could distinctly state to the House that none of the men now in office would be appointed, they would have to make up their minds to encountering the most energetic opposition to the Bill. After the evidence furnished by the investigation of the Andover Committee, it could not be satisfactory to the country to see the existing arrangements continued. This Bill was to perpetuate the power of the 670 Poor Law authorities for five years. He agreed with the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, that this was one of those subjects which should be left to the deliberations of another Parliament; and the noble Lord might be assured that there would be such an infusion of new opinions, though not to the extent contemplated by the hon. Member for Knaresborough (Mr. Ferrand), that he would find himself compelled to adopt a much more comprehensive change than that now proposed. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire had not merely opposed this measure, but had suggested the substitute. He (Captain Pechell), if asked what he thought would be a better system, would reply that the Act of George III. would be the most advisable arrangement, if adopted throughout the country. There were many towns and parishes in this kingdom which could do very well without any central control; and there were places incorporated under Gilbert's Act, which were never under the necessity of appealing to the Board here. The hon. Member for Dorsetshire expressed the opinions of a great proportion of the agricultural community respecting this question; and he trusted that in the progress of the Bill, some effort would be made to the amend it in conformity with his views. If he (Captain Pechell) succeeded in getting rid of the present men, and in modifying in certain cases the central control, he should gladly give his support to the noble Lord; but, under the circumstances, he could not but think it a very salutary precaution to limit the operation of the Bill to a period of three years. If, however, the noble Lord was desirous of carrying the Bill, he could not too soon pledge his word that the next Poor Law Commissioners should not be suspected men, and that they should be men who had manifested that interest in the condition of the poor which could alone qualify them for so important an office. He distinctly objected to the reappointment of the present men. He thought that perhaps the gentlemen who had some years ago officiated in the department of the Poor Law Commission, might again with great propriety be intrusted with those very responsible functions; and he might say, he was sure, with the concurrence of the House, that there had never boon an abler Poor Law Commissioner than Mr. Lefevre, the relative of the Speaker. In his opinion, the greatest care ought to be taken in the selection of the gentlemen upon whom would have to depend the due 671 administration of any law for the poor; and he did not think the noble Lord could hope to make any system popular if administered by the present Commissioners.
§ MR. W. MILES
must say, that nothing which had taken place since the last discussion on this subject had altered his mind with regard to it; and he regretted that his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) had seen it his duty to raise the present debate, rather than allow the Speaker to leave the chair. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke had expressed a wish that none of the present Commissioners should be permitted to hold office under this measure; and he had, in expressing that opinion, referred generally to the conduct of those Commissioners. Perhaps he would be allowed on the present occasion to direct the attention of the House to the case of Mr. Chadwick—a gentleman he had known for sixteen years, who, he believed, had ever acted honestly and consistently in the discharge of his duties, and who had faithfully endeavoured to carry out those principles, of which he had ever been an advocate, in relation to the support of the poor. He believed there was no man possessed of a more independent mind than Mr. Chadwick; and he naturally felt himself injured by those imputations which had been thrown out against him in that House, not only by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), but by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorchester (Sir J. Graham). Mr. Chadwick had complained to him of those imputations; but Mr. Chadwick bogged him not to bring the question before the House unless he found it necessary for Mr. Chadwick's vindication. That morning, however, he had received a communication from Mr. Chadwick, stating that he was determined to bring the question under the notice of Parliament, and asking him to lay a paper which Mr. Chadwick had transmitted to him before the House, as a defence to the charges brought against him by the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet. He asked Mr. Chadwick to send him a copy of the particular expressions used in reference to him both by the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman, to which he took exception; and accordingly Mr. Chadwick had sent him extracts from the report in the Times of what had fallen from those distinguished individuals. After reading these passages, he would give to the House Mr. Chadwick's statement, corroborated by a communication from Mr. Ni- 672 cholls, who was himself a founder of the present system—the only one now in the Commission—and whose testimony therefore, in exculpation of Mr. Chadwick, the House could not but regard as exceedingly valuable. [Here the hon. Gentleman began to read that part of Lord J. Russell's speech, on the second reading of the Poor Law Administration Bill, in which he spoke of Mr. Chadwick having secretly countermined his official superiors.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
interrupted the hon. Member, and said, it was contrary to the rules of the House to read the speech without the permission of the House.
LORD J. RUSSELL
had no objection to the hon. Member making any explanation he thought proper on the part of Mr. Chadwick; but certainly it was not according to the rules of the House to read a speech which he had formerly delivered.
§ MR. MILES
begged pardon of the House for his breach of order; but he had thought that no objection would be taken to his reading a communication sent him by Mr. Chadwick in vindication of his conduct from charges made against him in that House. He would, however, give to the House the statement made by Mr. Chadwick himself. That gentleman said—No previous charge having been preferred, no authentic complaint having been heard of, a gentleman engaged in the public service suddenly and without notice finds himself arraigned on charges which, if preferred at all, should have been preferred in a proper manner—of having secretly countermined his official superiors—of having preferred groundless charges against them—and of having thwarted them in the execution of their duty, and of having done so from personal disappointment. Now, to all these charges you have my authority for giving a direct negative. In the first place, I have had no opportunity of preferring any charges against them. I was simply examined as a witness on charges preferred by others. In respect to the charges of countermining my superior officers, I beg of you to road the letter of the Senior Commissioner." [This letter he would afterwards read to the House.] "I have had, from time to time, to remonstrate against the measures of the Commissioners; but these remonstrances I have preferred officially and in form; and every representation I made was affirmed. I appealed to Lord John Russell against proposals made by the Commissioners to extend the allowance system, and my appeal was affirmed. I wish particularly to state that my complaints have always been of measures rather than of persons. The larger remonstrances were made in 1835, 1837, and 1841; and, therefore, no disappointment in 1841, as Sir James Graham imputes, could have been the motive to acts begun in 1837, and earlier. Until I was called away from other business, by the request of Mr. George Lewis, to interpose in the And over case with Mr. Parker, for the omission of a pas- 673 sage in his statement which might wound the feelings of Sir Edmund Head—until, indeed, I was afterwards compelled to speak as a witness to the character and conduct of officers who have been pronounced to he harshly treated, and to speak to the general circumstances out of which the injury arose, every representation I made, every opposition, as it is called, was as to some measure calculated to injure the law, and eventually to discredit the Commissioners; every measure I proposed would have gone to their credit, and those adopted that I did propose have gone to their individual credit, not to mine; that the leading reports, circular letters, and instructions, which largely facilitate and govern the public service in the administration of the law, sometimes bore the names, and always went to the public credit of the Commissioners, and not to mine; and that all those for which they have taken credit were initiated, laboriously prepared, and urged by me, until they were finally adopted. Circumstantial evidence will negative every imputation.Such was the letter he had received from Mr. Chad Trick. He would now read, first, a letter addressed by Mr. Chadwick to Mr. Nicholls, and then that gentleman's answer:—
§ "May 25, 1847.
§ "My dear Sir—I have now acted with you nearly fourteen years in the public service under the Poor Law Commission. You have had under your observation the whole business of the Commission from the commencement to the present time, except partially during your absence in Ireland; and you have, therefore, seen more of my course of public service and conduct in it than any other member of the Commission. Circumstances have arisen which appear to render it necessary to ask of you to state of your own knowledge your view of that conduct. I beg of you to review the whole, and more especially the occasions on which I may have differed from you, or opposed your view or the views of the Board on any questions; and I would ask of you, whether I have pursued that opposition in a manner eventually to obstruct the public business? "Whether, when asked to do anything in which I might not agree, I ever concealed my opinions, or you found reason to suspect that I secretly thwarted or consulted against directions? Whether I have ever appeared to oppose or not to support a public measure from private disappointment, or evinced any desire to thwart or depress the labours of others from unworthy personal motives—in short, whether you have experienced towards yourself, or observed towards others, conduct on my part such as to lead you to decline my private friendship, or make you object to act with mo for the future?—I remain, my dear Sir, very truly yours,
§ "EDWIN" CHADWICK."
§ The following was the Senior Commissioner's answer:—
§ "17, Hyde Park Street, May 27, 1847.
§ "Dear Chadwick—I yesterday received your letter dated the 25th instant, in which you ask me to bear testimony to what I have myself seen of your conduct during the period we have acted together in the Poor Law Commission, and to state whether, in cases where you have differed from myself and colleagues, you opposed us in a 674 way to obstruct the public business? Whether I ever had reason to suspect you of secretly thwarting or caballing against the directions of the Board, or opposing public measures from private or unworthy motives? And whether your conduct generally was such as would induce me to decline your private friendship, or object to act with you in the public service? To each of these questions, I answer in the negative. I have differed with you in opinion, as men of independent thought will occasionally differ; and on the question as to the mode of transacting the office business, of which so much has been said, you know I always thought you wrong; but I never saw reason to doubt your sincerity or the integrity of your motives in anything which you advocated, however different the view which I myself took of it. I may further add, that I have always felt great respect for your character and talents, and highly estimate the benefits which you have been in no slight degree instrumental in conferring upon the community, not only with respect to the New Poor Law, but likewise as regards other measures, affecting the welfare and improved condition of the people, to the furtherance of which you have with so much zeal and ability devoted yourself.—I am, dear Chadwick, sincerely yours,
§ "GEORGE NICHOLLS."
§ Having read these letters, he must say that he knew of no other mode in which Mr. Chadwick could have come forward in answer to the imputations which had been thrown upon him. Mr. Chadwick knew not on what grounds these accusations had been made, but had taken them as he had been able to collect them from the public prints, and laid them before that gentleman who had been longest in the Commission, and who had the greatest experience of any of the Commissioners; and Mr. Chadwick left it to the House to judge whether that gentleman had not borne out the denials which Mr. Chadwick had given to the imputations cast upon him. Mr. Chadwick wished these exculpations to be laid before the House, as he considered his good fame injured by the representations which had been made. Mr. Chadwick made no charges against any one, as he was only actuated by a desire to vindicate his individual character. As to the measure before the House, he (Mr. Miles) must say that, considering the feeling which pervaded that House regarding the present Commissioners, he scarcely thought it possible that that Commission could have been longer continued. He did not bind himself to all the details of the Bill; but of this he was certain, that the principle of having a responsible Minister in that House to answer immediately questions and complaints that might be brought forward, was one of equal necessity and importance. This system would be infinitely superior to the present, when nothing 675 could be ascertained without lengthened communications being carried on between the Ministers and the Commissioners; and he was sure that the change would give great satisfaction to the public.
LORD J. RUSSELL
After what the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has stated, perhaps I may be permitted, without entering into a renewal of the discussion on this Bill, to state what is my impression with regard to the conduct of Mr. Chadwick, who has been referred to by the hon. Gentleman. I have no reason to question the ability of Mr. Chadwick. On the contrary, I greatly respect his ability, and estimate, perhaps, more highly than any other man, the report he made as one of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the subject of the Poor Law, and which conduced perhaps more than the reports of any of the other Commissioners to the establishment of the Poor Law as it now exists. Neither do I mean to question the general respectability of his character; but I did question the propriety of his conduct with respect to the Poor Law Commissioners, whom he was appointed to serve as Secretary—I did question the propriety of his conduct both as regards those Poor Law Commissioners and the Secretary of State. That opinion was formed, not from any representations made to me, as Mr. Chadwick seems to suppose, but from the evidence given before the Andover Union Committee, and more especially the evidence of Mr. Chadwick himself. Let us consider what was the position of Mr. Chadwick. He was Secretary to the Poor Law Commissioners. He was appointed to carry into effect their orders; and he was bound to represent to them and to the Secretary of State any facts which came to his knowledge, or any doings or measures of theirs that he thought at variance with the provisions of the law, and which prevented, in his opinion, the relief of the poor in the manner which the law intended it to be carried into effect. Now, with regard to measures which he thought would be generally injurious, I must say that I agree with what Mr. Chadwick has said, that more than once he did represent that certain courses of conduct on the part of the Commissioners would lead to abuse; and in one instance of considerable importance, after hearing all he had to say, and after hearing the representation of the Commissioners, I decided in favour of the view taken by Mr. Chadwick. I desired the Commissioners to re- 676 consider their opinion on that subject, which they did, and ultimately they concurred in the view taken by Mr. Chadwick. But the statement made by Mr. Chadwick related to what I consider a very different matter—not as to whether there was a right judgment or a wrong judgment on the part of the Commissioners in particular cases, but whether they were conscientiously fulfilling their duty of listening to every case of abuse laid before them, and proceeding to consider it steadily, and applying such remedy as the case might require. Now, I found my statement on Mr. Chadwick's answers to questions put to him before the Andover Union Committee. Mr. Chadwick, in answer to the 19,042 question that was asked, says he thought that certain representations made by Mr. Parker to the Commissioners would put them in such a state as to require action, and added—I think I may have said to him 'All this may be very true; but still it will not be well received, and will excite displeasure.'In answer to the second question further on, he says,When I have had a general conversation with him about the state of his district, and he has represented to me that this or that illegal practice was spreading very much, and when he stated to me that he intended to make representations of them, on those occasions I have told Mr. Parker, or intimated to him, although this may be all true, yet the shape in which you put them, which imputes blame for not acting upon them, will not be pleasant or well received.By the 19,047th question this inquiry is made of him:—These were representations made by Mr. Parker of an abusive and illegal practice, which he forced on the Commissioners' notice; and you warned him that such a mode of proceeding would be likely to give displeasure?To which he replied—I warned him that it would not be well received; I did not warn him to this with any recommendation that he should not prefer them, but that he would gain no favour by preferring them, but rather a painful duty. I had expressed some opinion to that effect.A good deal further on, in the 19,129th question, Mr. Chadwick was asked—Is it your opinion that the assistant commissioners have not improved their position with the Poor Law Commissioners by representing strongly abuses and violations of the law?He replies—I should not say that of the whole of them; I should say that of some of them. That is the feeling in the office, that representations of that sort, importing an obligation to act, are distasteful and not well received.677 He then is asked—What do you mean by the feeling of the Office; do you mean the feeling of the assistant commissioners?And he answers—Yes, that is the feeling prevalent amongst assistant commissioners, and stated to me by them in answer to my complaints or representations to them of particular instances of an apparent relapse or relaxation of the progress of the law towards amendment. It was stated to mo by three of the assistant commissioners, if not four or more, that the reason why they had ceased to make representations of abuses which they knew to exist was, that the representations which they had made did not give satisfaction.These answers convey to my mind a charge against the Commissioners—not a charge that they were men incompetent to perform their duty, or who had formed an erroneous estimate of what their duty was—but a charge that they were men who declined to examine into cases of abuse, who wilfully shut their eyes to abuses, and even illegal practices going on, and who visited with displeasure and disfavour assistant commissioners who made representations to them of the existence of such abuses. Now, I consider this a very grave charge against the Commissioners; and I say that if such was the opinion of Mr. Chadwick, their Secretary—if he believed this charge to be true, he ought to have made it a matter of complaint. If he did not believe the charge, then, when the assistant commissioners related the existence of abuses, he ought to have endeavoured to dispossess their minds of any impression as to their being open to the displeasure of the Commissioners, and ought to have said to them, "Go and make your representations to the Commissioners—they are bound to listen to you, and to take steps to reform those abuses of which you complain." This was the course he should have taken if he did not believe the charge; but if he thought they wilfully shut their eyes to such complaints, then he should have gone to the Secretary of State and said, "I can no longer stay in an office in which the Commissioners neglect their duty, and wilfully refuse to hear the complaints that are made to them of abuses and illegalities." That was the course which Mr. Chadwick ought to have taken; and I say that the practice of telling assistant commissioners that if they made complaints they would be regarded with displeasure, I do call that undermining the Commissioners appointed to carry out the Poor Law Act. I am sorry that I am bound to state that such 678 is my impression. It is not taken, as I have already said, from any representation made to me, but from Mr. Chadwick's own evidence. I again say that I do consider Mr. Chadwick a very able man. I do not impute such conduct to any particular motive. It is for him to explain his conduct; but at the same time I do think the effect of that conduct was such as to injure and destroy the efficiency of that body of Commissioners whom he was appointed to assist and serve as Secretary. As to the measure before the House, and the debate which has been raised upon it by the hon. Member for Dorsetshire, I must say that that measure was fully discussed on the second reading, and that every objection which could be urged to its principle was decided upon by the House by a majority of 218 to 42; and, after that decision, I do not think it would be courteous to those who formed that majority to enter upon a full discussion of the question again. I shall be ready in Committee to defend any of the clauses to which exception may be taken; and I really hope the House will now consent to go into Committee on the Bill. If anything further is said as to the case of Mr. Chadwick that will tend to remove the impressions I have formed, I should be happy to state it to the House; but I am sorry to say that the explanations given to-night have not removed the impressions I had formed on the subject.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
I am anxious to say a few words on this subject; but in the state of public business, and considering the time that has already been bestowed on this question, it would be unpardonable in me were I to enter at any length into the case, especially as I had an opportunity on the second reading to speak in favour of the measure. In passing, I may observe that I was somewhat struck by an observation that fell from the hon. Member for Dorsetshire as to the constitutional question of discussing a question of this kind in an expiring Parliament. It appears to me that the severest test you can apply to this measure is, that it should be discussed in an expiring Parliament, and within a few weeks of our going before the constituencies. If any measure of Government can be made to undergo strict scrutiny, this is the very moment, of all others, when that scrutiny is likely to be made. I should be sorry if anything fell from me in the former debate which evinced any feeling or desire to disparage the merits of Mr. Chadwick. I have a sincere respect 679 for the character of that gentleman; I think highly of his abilities, and I believe that upon many occasions he has rendered public services. But with respect to the Poor Law Commission, I think his position was an unfortunate one, and I think he was thereby betrayed into errors. I was Secretary of State in 1841; at that time Mr. George Lewis was the only Poor Law Commissioner resident in this country; Mr. Nicholls was in Ireland, and Mr. George Lewis discharged all the duties of the Poor Law Commission. I consider it quite unnecessary to refer to the misunderstandings which occurred before Mr. George Lewis was appointed to the Commission; but I think that any one who reads the evidence taken before the Andover Committee will find ample proof of serious misunderstandings between Mr. Chadwick and the immediate predecessor of that Commissioner. I believe that the appointment by Lord Melbourne of Mr. Lewis to be the successor of his father, was displeasing to Mr. Chadwick; and I found, when I came into office, there were misunderstandings between the Commissioner and Mr. Chadwick. It soon became necessary to recommend to Her Majesty to appoint an additional Commissioner; and, exercising my judgment in this matter as fairly as I could, I thought it, on the whole, better to recommend an assistant commissioner, and not Mr. Chadwick, to the vacant Commissionership. But I fear that this decision on my part, as well as that of Lord Melbourne, in passing over Mr. Chadwick, was most displeasing to that gentleman, and the misunderstandings between him and Mr. Lewis extended to the interruption of the good understanding between him and Sir E. Head, the second Commissioner; and from that time, during the whole time I was at the Home Office, there were deeply-seated misunderstandings between the Commissioners and their Secretary, which were injurious to the public service. It might be asked, why the power was not exercised by dismissing Mr. Chadwick? I think it right to state, that on very many occasions I felt that the opportunity of employing Mr. Chadwick was most advantageous to the public service; that many inquiries were conducted with very great ability by him; and that the duties entrusted to him were discharged to my entire satisfaction and with great f benefit to the public service. Then came the Andover inquiry; and I must say I think that the misunderstandings which had occurred between the Commissioners 680 and Mr. Chadwick did give a colour to the evidence of Mr. Chadwick against the Commissioners under whom he was serving. I do not think that the continuance of Mr. Chadwick under this particular Commission would be advantageous to the public service; on the other hand, I must say that the loss of his services to the public would be a serious loss, and I am sure that in some other situation, apart from the causes of these disagreements, and even a superior situation, Mr. Chadwick would be most usefully employed. I should be sorry if anything I have said should be injurious to that gentleman. I think his services have been most important, and I trust that his claims will be considered by Her Majesty's Government. But in connexion with the Commission, I think his continuance not advisable, and that it would be most to the advantage of the public that an entire change should take place. With respect to the question immediately before the House, I hope the hon. Member for Dorsetshire will not think it necessary to divide the House.
§ VISCOUNT COURTENAY
felt called upon, as Chairman of the Committee on the Andover Union, to express his opinion—not on the Bill before the House, of which, however, he approved, but with regard to the other subject which had been introduced. As the name of Mr. Chadwick had been introduced with reference to the evidence he gave before the Andover Committee, he was anxious to do what justice required. He was bound to say that nothing had been said or done by Mr. Chadwick which gave any ground for au impression on the minds of the Members of the Committee that he was taking any underhand advantage against the Commissioners, or anything unfair on his part towards those under whom he was acting as Secretary. The evidence taken before that Committee to which the noble Lord had referred was of a most voluminous character; and he believed the examination of Mr. Chadwick extended to four days, and a great variety of matters were gone into, and he underwent a most searching examination; and the result of this full inquiry was, that, unfortunate as the original position of Mr. Chadwick was with regard to the Commission under which he was placed, and in circumstances of great difficulty, his conduct throughout had been marked with fairness and an anxiety to do his duty, and to carry out and act upon the sound principles of poor-law adminis- 681 tration. If Mr. Chadwick had abstained from bringing before those under whom he acted, those matters which he conceived to be abuses, and only for the first time brought them forward as a case before the Committee on the Andover Union, then his conduct would have been justly open to the imputation; but when that Committee received evidence that Mr. Chadwick had brought a manifest abuse under the notice of Sir F. Lewis, and on a subsequent occasion another case of the same kind before Mr. G. Lewis, and which had not been attended to, and when the object he had in view was submitted to the Andover Committee, he was at a loss to see any ground for the charge of unfairness. It had been stated by the noble Lord, that the principal ground on which he rested his charge against Mr. Chadwick was, that he might fairly be charged with undermining his superiors, by stating that certain assistant commissioners had made complaints of illegalities and abuses which existed under the administration of the Poor Law: but no notice was taken of these complaints, and that he recommended the assistant commissioners to make no further complaints of the kind. The question was, whether Mr. Chadwick was justified in saying to Mr. Parker that if he made complaints they would not be well received. He would not say whether the evidence taken before the Committee bore out this charge; but it was distinctly stated by Mr. Chadwick, in his evidence, and he named three or four assistant commissioners who had made such statements of abuses to the Board, but which had been unfavourably received. He admitted that Mr. Chadwick had not reported these cases to the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the time being; but he (Viscount Courtenay) did not think that they could bring a charge against him on this account, after what had been described to have taken place. He had now some personal acquaintance with Mr. Chadwick, but previous to the Committee of the Andover Union he did not know him. From all that he had since seen of him, he felt bound to state that Mr. Chadwick was entitled to his respect. Tested as the evidence of that gentleman was by a very fearful cross-examination, and confronted as he was by those against whom his evidence might appear to bear, the impression on his (Viscount Courtenay's) mind at the time was—and this had been confirmed by a reperusal of the evidence that morning—that there 682 was nothing in Mr. Chadwick's evidence which could justify the view which seemed to be taken by some hon. Members, that there had been a degree of unfairness on the part of that gentleman to his official superiors. He should not have felt it to have been an act of justice to have abstained from saying so much with respect to a man undoubtedly of great ability, and who had manifested the greatest energy and anxiety to promote sound principles in the administration of the Poor Law, and to do all in his power to advance the sanitary condition of the people, and to improve the moral and physical well-being of the labouring classes.
§ MR. CHRISTIE
could not help expressing his satisfaction at what had fallen from the noble Lord who had just sat down. With respect to what had fallen from the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he was sure that that noble Lord was the last person who would willingly be guilty of an injustice to another person. The noble Lord's opponents had always admitted the perfect fairness of his conduct; but still after the expression of the grounds of the noble Lord's opinion, he felt the noble Lord had not done justice to an individual in the conclusion he had arrived at in this case. He considered that Mr. Chadwick was fully justified in the course which he had taken. All accounts agreed that what he did went to this extent, namely, that he felt called upon to warn certain assistant commissioners with whom he was on terms of friendship not to present complaints in a particular form to the Board. In doing this he merely cautioned them not to put their complaints in such a way as would throw upon the Poor Law Commissioners the necessity of action; for if this were done, it would injure the assistant commissioners in the estimation of the Board. He did not think that any imputation remained on Mr. Chadwick as to his advising the assistant commissioners to abstain from making complaints. The noble Lord at the head of the Government seemed to think that Mr. Chadwick should have made his complaints at the Home Office. Now Mr. Chadwick had on other points made complaints to that department, which had not been attended to; and therefore he could not be blamed for not placing himself again in what must be considered an invidious position. The House had heard the late Secretary for the Home Department state that Mr. Chadwick, in the 683 course which he had pursued, had acted under feelings of personal disappointment. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to consider Mr. Chadwick as a disappointed man, because he had not been made a Commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman had given an explanation of the impression on his mind which he stated on the second reading of this Bill; and on the present occasion he had done justice to the great services rendered to the public by Mr. Chadwick; but he still seemed to be under the impression that Mr. Chadwick was labouring under feelings of disappointment, and that these had influenced him in his conduct towards the Commissioners. If the House and the country would consider the whole conduct of Mr. Chadwick, and the explanations he gave before the Committee, they would be induced to believe that the treatment he had met with would justify feelings of disappointment on his part; but there was nothing to show that any feelings of this kind actuated him in his conduct towards the Commissioners. When the public looked to the services which Mr. Chadwick had rendered in connexion with the poor-law administration, they would duly estimate the important influence that that gentleman had had in bringing forward a change in the laws. The noble Lord at the head of the. Government had alluded to the valuable report of Mr. Chadwick then one of the assistant commissioners appointed to inquire into the operation of the Poor Laws. In consequence of that report, Mr. Chadwick was invited to take, and took, an active part in the preparation of the general report presented to Parliament by that Commission. On the portion of the report prepared by Mr. Chadwick, he felt that he was justified in saying that the Poor Law Amendment Act was mainly founded. He repeated, he believed that a great portion of the enactments of that measure, and certainly the most important portion of them, were founded on Mr. Chadwick's part of the report. When Lord Brougham moved the second reading of the New Poor Law Act, in the House of Lords, he took the opportunity of making particular mention of the Commissioners by whom the Bill was prepared. On the 21st of July, 1834, after having spoken of some of the Commissioners with whom he was personally acquainted, he proceeded to say—Most of them I before knew, but Mr. Chadwick I never had seen, nor have I now more 684 than once or twice; but I confess I have risen from the perusal of his papers—admirable in all respects for excellence of composition, strength of reasoning, soundness of judgment, and all that indicates the possession of every species of talent—I say I have risen from the perusal with a degree of admiration that I find it difficult either to suppress or to describe.When that Bill became law, Mr. Chad-wick was appointed Secretary to the Board, where, according to the right hon. Gentleman, he was placed in an unfortunate position. Certainly, after the part taken by Mr. Chadwick previous to the passing of the Act, he might have some reason to anticipate that he should be made a member of the Board of Commissioners, instead of being appointed to a subordinate office. On this ground, certainly, there was a reason for a feeling of disappointment, if, however, he really did entertain such feeling. Subsequently, two vacancies had occurred in the Board of Commissioners, one of which was filled up by Lord Melbourne, and the other by the right hon. Gentleman. Two gentlemen had been appointed to those vacancies, of whom he might have said, previous to the Andover inquiry, that better appointments could not have been made; but it must not be forgotten that both Mr. George Lewis and Sir Edmund Head were comparatively new to the administration of the Poor Laws; and therefore there must be same allowance made for Mr. Chadwick, if some feelings of disappointment existed in his mind at the appearance of two gentlemen at the Board who were ignorant of the administration of the Poor Law, in comparison with himself. The right hon. Gentleman said, that when he became Secretary of the Home Department, he found the greatest differences of opinion existing as to the administration of this law between Mr. Lewis and Mr. Chadwick; and that this state of things continued all the time he was in office. The right hon. Gentleman held that office for five years; and during the whole of that time he was aware of the existence of this misunderstanding, which he stated he believed to have been injurious to the public service. The right hon. Gentleman also said, that he did not feel justified in dismissing Mr. Chadwick. [Sir J. GRAHAM had not the power of dismissing: it rested with the Commissioners.] But the right hon. Gentleman was consulted on almost all subjects by the Commissioners, and no doubt had had conversations with them on the subject. [Sir J. GRAHAM, had he been consulted, would not have ad- 685 vised the dismissal of Mr. Chadwick.] He must then suppose, that with such misunderstandings existing, which the right hon. Gentleman described as having been most detrimental to the public service, still he would not have advised Mr. Chadwick's dismissal. Now, from this the only inference that could be drawn was, that the conduct of Mr. Chadwick had been such as to fully justify his being continued in the situation which he held. He was sure that no dismissal of Mr. Chadwick could have taken place before a full inquiry had been made into the conduct of that gentleman; and he was convinced that if such inquiry had been instituted, that the result would have been that those to whom the inquiry had been entrusted, would have arrived at the conclusion that justice had not been done to Mr. Chadwick. He exceedingly rejoiced at the testimonies borne that night to the conduct of Mr. Chadwick, as regarded the zeal and ability which he displayed in the public service. He would say no more on this part of the subject; but he was anxious to say a few words with reference to a personal attack made on himself on a former occasion. The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, on the second reading of this Bill, made some observations on his conduct, with reference to the proceedings before the Committee on the Andover union. There was one specific statement made by the hon. Gentleman with respect to which he was glad of an opportunity of alluding. The hon. Gentleman had said, that he (Mr. Christie) had put a question during that inquiry to Sir Frankland Lewis, the late Chief Poor Law Commissioner, as to his private affairs. Now he asserted this statement was untrue: he saw before him the noble Lord the Member for Devonshire, and the hon. Member for Oxfordshire, who were Members of that Committee; and he would appeal to them as to whether he were not correct in his statement, that he had never put any question to Sir Frankland Lewis as to his private affairs. He was aware of the question and answer alluded to by the hon. Member. The question was, whether the witness could explain the circumstances under which Mr. G. Lewis was appointed to succeed him. He saw from the commencement of the answer that the witness misconceived the nature of his question. He, therefore, had the room cleared, and explained to the Committee that he did not wish to put it to Sir Frank-land Lewis without explaining it to him, as to its not being necessary to go into any 686 statement of his private affairs. The right hon. Member for Shaftsbury was in the Committee-room at the time, and no doubt recollected his stating that any explanation of the kind on the part of Sir Frankland Lewis, was a matter for his own private consideration. He was glad the hon. Member for Wolverhampton had afforded him an opportunity to remove any misconception which might have existed. He was sure that every Member of that House who had at all watched his conduct, would readily admit that there could be no wish on his part to wound the feelings of any gentleman; and, above all, of a gentleman so much older than himself, and whom he was bound to respect from his long public services. As for the zeal manifested on the former occasion by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, he (Mr. Christie) would not be guilty of the bad taste to reply to that which he now knew to have been a laboured attack on himself. This conduct on the hon. Member's part could easily be accounted for. He might state—and he trusted that it would go forth to the public—that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was the brother-in-law to one of the Commissioners, namely, Mr. G. Lewis. This accounted for the bitterness manifested by the hon. Member, and went a great way to excuse it. This, no doubt, induced the hon. Member to speak with the indignation which he did on this subject; but he felt if the hon. Member on any future occasion indulged in opprobrious language towards him, either in his presence or absence, that he should be justified in taking no notice of it.
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had complained of the language used by others towards himself; but before he made that complaint, he should learn to be cautious himself in what he said. The hon. Member had appealed to the character which he had established for himself in that House; and he seemed to rely upon it, in answer to what he (Mr. Villiers) had said of him. He (Mr. Villiers) did not know to what part of his career in that House the hon. Gentleman referred, to serve him in this respect. He felt bound to say, that he considered that if there was one man in that House more likely to do what was objectionable, who was less guided apparently by the rules that influenced Members in their conduct towards each other, it was the hon. Member for Weymouth. He did not say this rashly. He had only to recall to the recollection of the House 687 what was done last Session by that hon. Member to support what he said. The House would remember the course the hon. Member pursued in bringing forward the case of Mr. Parker, when, as one of his points, he read the private memorandum made by his client of a private conversation which had taken place between himself (then in the service of the Government) and the Secretary of State, of which memorandum, or his intention of reading it, no notice had been given to the Secretary, whose conduct he was assailing, nor had it been verified or shown to a third person, who had been present on the occasion, but he used it as an argument to show the bad faith of the Secretary towards his client.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
I hope the hon. Member will allow me to interrupt him for a moment. I think that in referring to that matter now, he cannot be aware that the hon. Member for Weymouth, on a former occasion, expressed his regret that he had acted inadvertently in the manner stated by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, and that he made me a most handsome apology. I then said that the circumstance was for ever obliterated from my recollection, and that I should never refer to it. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton was not aware of that explanation; for I am sure that if he were, he would not now have reverted to the subject.
had not altogether forgotten what the right hon. Gentleman was referring to, and was indeed coming to it, when he was interrupted. The circumstance itself of bringing forward this memorandum, seemed at the time, and as it regarded the right hon. Gentleman, to reflect upon the hon. Gentleman's client, Mr. Parker, and as if he (Mr. Christie) had only acted as advocates are sometimes used to do, in adopting the instructions of their clients, and saying things that they would otherwise abstain from doing. But what he had been about to refer to was, that the hon. Gentleman allowed nearly twelve months to elapse before he had told them that he had not acted upon the instructions of his client in producing that memorandum, but had only received it from him with other matters connected with the case, and that it had been left to his (Mr. Christie's) judgment to determine what use to make of it. The right hon. Gentleman might have complained of its being used at all against him, and of its having been made at all; and if the 688 hon. Member for Weymouth had only acted in obedience to the request of one whose case he was advocating, and had stated this, it might have been excusable in him. But he (Mr. Villiers) had referred to the case because it was now known that it was not in compliance with the request of his client, but in the exercise of his own discretion, that he had made this memorandum part of his case—and he had only referred to it to show that the hon. Member had no particular reason for appealing to his known conduct in that House, as an answer to his (Mr. Villiers') reflections upon him. The hon. Gentleman had denied the truth of what he (Mr. Villiers) had said upon a former occasion, namely, that he (Mr. Christie) had put questions to the witnesses that had reference to their private affairs. Now the hon. Member for Weymouth had, on this Andover Committee, inquired of Sir Frankland Lewis about a private arrangement with his son, for the latter to succeed him in the Poor Law Commission. [Mr. CHRISTIE: NO!] Did the hon. Member deny that this inquiry had been made of Sir Frankland Lewis, and that the indecency of the question had not been so obvious to some Members of the Committee, that he (Sir Frankland Lewis) had been stopped in his answer? [Mr. CHRISTIE: Yes!] That settles the matter, then. But he (Mr. Villiers) had read the reports of what occurred in that Committee from day to day, and he must have been completely misled by what had been reported, if his (Mr. Villiers') statement was not correct. It was generally understood to have occurred at the time, and it had not been denied up to the present time. Sir Frankland Lewis, indeed, was anxious to give the answer to the question, and the Chairman, or some person struck with its impropriety, cleared the room. [Mr. CHRISTIE: That is untrue!] The hon. Gentleman used strong language. He was the last man in this House that should do so. How dared the hon. Member?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that it was clear to him that both hon. Members were out of order; he must, therefore, in the first place, call upon the hon. Member for Weymouth for an explanation as to charging another Member with uttering an untruth; and then he should call upon the hon. Member for Wolverhampton to recall the expression he had just used.
§ MR. CHRISTIE
, in explanation, stated that in saying it was untrue with respect to the assertion of the hon. Member, he did not mean to charge the hon. Gentle- 689 man with wilfully uttering a falsehood; but he meant to say that when the question alluded to was put, it was not the chairman who ordered the room to be cleared. It was clear that the matter arose out of a mistake of the hon. Member, and there was no intention on his part to impute wilful untruth to the hon. Member.
said, if the House was satisfied with the explanation of the hon. Member as to charging him with uttering an untruth, he was bound to be so. It was clear, however, from the hon. Member's own statement, that the question was put to Sir F. Lewis, and, according to what he now said, was misconceived by that gentleman. The effect of it was, whether or not some arrangement had not existed between Sir F. Lewis and his son as to the retirement of the former in favour of the latter; and that, they were told, was no inquiry into the private affairs of the witness. But this was not a singular case; for every man who went into the Committee-room where the inquiry respecting the Andover union was carried on, must have been struck with the extraordinary mode of examination pursued by the hon. Member. He felt bound to say that the hon. Gentleman had taken a very different view of what was becoming and decent, from several other Members of that Committee. The hon. Member interrupted the witnesses most improperly, and treated them in a most offensive manner, and his conduct was much complained of by several of the witnesses examined upon that occasion. This, indeed, was so manifest and so offensive in some cases, that it was made the subject matter of a leading article in the Times newspaper. The Times took the same view of the Poor Law as the hon. Member; and therefore it must have been a strong course of conduct on his part to induce that newspaper to take up the matter in the way it did. There was a medical gentleman examined amongst others, of the name of Westlake, to whom the whole credit of the inquiry was due; and the conduct of the hon. Member for Weymouth towards that gentleman, for whose honesty and disinterestedness in coming forward to make disclosures repecting the Andover workhouse great credit was due, had been such, that, literally, the papers on his own side were compelled to notice and comment upon it. There were other persons too, who had been examined by the hon. Member, who had also complained of the manner in which he had conducted the examination. 690 He must therefore say that he had nothing to retract of what he had said with regard to the hon. Gentleman's conduct. He should repeat that it exhibited gross partiality and bad taste and a vindictive feeling on the part of the hon. Gentleman towards the Poor Law Commissioners. The hon. Gentleman had utterly failed to establish the charges which he had tried to make out against the Commissioners. The charge which the hon. Gentleman had put forward in his speech, and which had since been set forth in an anonymous pamphlet, which he believed had been published by the hon. Gentleman, was, that the Poor Law Commissioners had exercised their functions in habitual violation of the law. He said that the hon. Gentleman had failed to prove that assertion. And if anything were wanted to establish the fact of his failure, it was to be found in the letter which had been read that night by the hon. Member for Somersetshire, in which Mr. Chadwick referred to Mr. Nicholls to bear testimony to his character and conduct; and what had been Mr. Nicholls's reply? That in all the complaints which Mr. Chadwick had made as to the mode in which the Poor Law Commissioners had conducted their business, Mr. Nicholls thought him wrong, as he had told him always in private, though he had never seen reason to doubt his integrity, however different the view was which he himself took of the subject in question. Mr. Nicholls was a friend of Mr. Chadwick; and he said farther in this letter, that he always felt great respect for his (Mr. Chadwick's) character, and that he highly estimated the benefits which he had been in no slight degree instrumental in conferring upon the community. What then became of the charges made by the hon. Member for Weymouth in his speech, and which he had again brought forward in his pamphlet? [Mr. CHRISTIE: I published no pamphlet. It is not mine.] The extract given in the pamphlet, at all events, purported to be from the hon. Gentleman's speech. [Mr. CHRISTIE: The pamphlet is not mine. I did not publish it.] The hon. Gentleman might not have either written or published the pamphlet, but that did not prove that the extract given in it was not an extract taken from the hon. Gentleman's speech; and that extract asserted that the Commissioners were constantly in the habit of violating the law. The next charge which had been brought against the Poor Law Commis-Weymouth, and others, was, that they constantly discouraged their assistant com- 691 sioners, both by the hon. Member for missioners, and those acting under them, from doing their duty. Now he (Mr. Villiers) said there was not a particle of evidence to support that charge. One assistant commissioner, he would admit, might take a different view of a subject from that which another might take, and he might send his report, founded upon his own views, to the Central Board; but the Central Board might not choose to view it in precisely the same light, nor to adopt the course which their assistant commissioner might think necessary. They might lay the report aside. But he denied that the assistant commissioners had been discouraged. One of them, indeed, had written a letter to the Secretary of State to say, that though his name had been mentioned as having complained of this, that he did not confirm what had been said. He did not believe that there was one who could, with the slightest truth, say that he had been discouraged in the performance of his duty. He did not believe the charge. To use the hon. Member for Weymouth's own language, he (Mr. Villiers) thought it untrue. He should not have addressed the House on this occasion had it not been for the pointed allusion of the hon. Gentleman to him. He felt that the hon. Gentleman had entirely failed in his reply to what fell from him on a former occasion; and he said, that if the hon. Gentleman had been present on that occasion, he should have referred to what he considered his discreditable conduct in the Committee in stronger language than that which he actually used.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
could not help expressing his regret that anything personal should have occurred to change the character of the debate. He begged the House to go at once to the business before it, and he hoped hon. Gentlemen would not longer hinder the House from going into Committee. He made that request, because he believed the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) did not mean to divide the House upon the question.
§ MR. GRIMSDITCH
begged to be heard before the question was put, as he had made several ineffectual attempts previously to address the House. For the previous hour and a half the time of the House had been taken up, not with the business before it, but with the private squabbles amongst Poor Law Commissioners, and between two Members of the House. Those squabbles amongst the Commissioners 692 were, however, only part and parcel of the complicated evils which had always attended the administration of the New Poor Law; but they formed no part of the question before the House, which was simply whether they should or not go into Committee upon the Bill. He confessed he had been greatly disappointed by the speech of the noble Lord. He had been greatly disappointed at finding that the Bill was only a mere renewal of the old Board of Commissioners, instead of a new and comprehensive measure. The assistant commissioners under the former law had been a great nuisance. They had done no good whatever, and it appeared that there were some of the poor-law unions that had not been visited by an assistant commissioner for as many as three years together. The hon. Gentleman read a number of statistical details with regard to the number of poor-law unions, distinguishing their various descriptions, from which he showed that, taking the average number of working days in the year, it would be impossible for the nine assistant poor-law commissioners to visit each union more than once in every half year. He recommended that the central control should be vested by the new Bill in a new Secretary of State. He did not care about the patronage, upon which a great deal of stress was sometimes laid by hon. Gentlemen. But to carry out so very important a measure as the Poor Law, affecting as it did the whole body of the people, rich as well as poor, he thought they should vest the central control in a Member of the Privy Council. The new Secretary of State might, in the same manner as the Secretary of State for the Home Department, appoint two under secretaries and as many assistants as should be found necessary to transact the business Each of the assistants should be compelled to live within his own district, and to visit all the unions regularly. Seeing that the Bill before the House was a mere naked revival of the old Bill, with nothing but the addition of a seat in Parliament to one of the Commissioners, he could not but express his disappointment at it. Let them have as Chief Commissioner a Privy Councillor. Their Chadwicks and Lewises would not do. He had always considered both Mr. Chadwick and the hon. Member for Wolverhampton mere theorists upon the Poor Law; and theorists alone would not suffice to carry a practical measure into effect. He, for one, was ready to meet the question fairly and fully, and go into it.
§ MR. SPOONER
deprecated going into a question of such importance as the Poor Law in the last few weeks of an expiring Parliament. A Bill of such deep moment as the permanent alteration of the Poor Law, should not at that late period be brought on. They had not time to debate it fully and properly in all its bearings; and the public had not time to form and express an opinion upon the merits of the proposed measure, and to make the opinion known to the House. The House did not seem to be at all in sympathy with the public out of doors upon it, or they would have more hon. Members present than they then saw about them, and who were barely in sufficient numbers to keep a House. He could tell them there was a very strong feeling out of doors upon the subject, and that feeling would exhibit itself forcibly hereafter, as soon as the nature of the measure should have become generally understood. One thing the country certainly required, and that was an alteration in the present system; but not such an alteration as the one now proposed, which was a mere alteration in the names of the parties to whom the carrying of the law into effect was to be entrusted, whilst continuing in full force all the objectionable portions of the old system. He thought the great error of the system hitherto in force had been the detention of the principle of self-government, and the abolition of the parochial system. There had been, he admitted, many abuses arising out of the parochial system: but he would go back to the principle of the law of Elizabeth, that every man who could not obtain employment, although he was able and willing to work, should have work found him. But under the present system, the poor man, who was both able and most anxious to work if he could obtain employment, being unable to find any, was subjected to treatment worse than that to which convicted felons were subjected. He would undertake not to give any opposition to the Bill in Committee if the right hon. Baronet would consent that the Bill should be passed for only twelve months, and to the end of the then next Session of Parliament. The impression out of doors was, that it was not intended to persevere with the Bill, or otherwise he was convinced the Table of the House would be covered with petitions against it. In the absence of his hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, he would not trouble the House by pressing a division upon it.
§ Original Motion agreed to.694
§ House in Committee.
§ On Clause 12 being proposed, which repeals certain enactments as to the records of the Commissioners,
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that as the real object of the Bill was to invest one single individual—the President of the Board—with the power of executing the Poor Law, it was quite unnecessary to provide that records of the kind, now required by law, should continue to be kept. By a clause in the Bill, the Secretary of State for the Home Department was to have a seat at the Board, and it was, therefore, unnecessary to keep records for his use.
§ Mr. BANKES
said, that this statement showed that the Government had come round to the views entertained on his side of the House, as to the propriety of placing the power in the hands of a single individual. But if such were the intention, why speak of a Board? If a single person was to have all the power, let it be so; but do not palm upon the public the delusion of a Board. He would divide the House upon the point.
LORD J. RUSSELL
said, it was never denied that the power would be exercised by a President, and that upon him would rest the responsibility. He (Lord J. Russell) did not think that the hon. Gentleman would have objected to an arrangement which was the same as that which existed in the case of the Board of Trade and the Board of Control. When the hon. Gentleman was himself (as we understood) the Secretary of the Board of Control, he did not think that the fact of all the power being placed in the President was a delusion.
§ MR. BANKES
thought that the Board of Control, as presently constituted, was effective enough as regarded India; but he did not approve of a Board similarly constituted being entrusted with the administration of the Poor Law.
§ MR. CHRISTIE
said, that the complaint so frequently made about the Poor Law Commissioners not having kept minutes was an instance of the many misrepresentations which had gone abroad. The Commissioners did keep a record of their proceedings of the kind required by the Act; but the complaint to which they were liable was, that they did not keep minutes in the way that a board ordinarily kept minutes, that was to say, a record made 695 at the time by the Secretary, and verified by the Commissioners present. He concurred in the propriety of repealing the clause in the present Act which required minutes to be kept, now that the Board was differently constituted. Under the arrangement which placed the responsibility on the shoulders of a single person, the public had a guarantee for good management, in the fact that both the President and the Secretary would sit in that House, and might at any time be called upon to afford explanations as to their proceedings.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that as the Home Secretary would be a member of the Board himself, it would be absurd that he should report to himself; but as a substitute for that report it was provided in another clause that the Board should report yearly to the House what had been done during the preceding twelve months.
§ MR. BANKES
said, that the learned Attorney General and his Colleagues appeared to assume that these functionaries would always have a seat in the House; but how were they sure of that? He confessed he looked with much suspicion at a clause which went to repeal that which would seem to be one of the essential duties of public functionaries.
§ MR. HENLEY moved the omission of such words in the clause as absolved the Board from the necessity of keeping minutes of their proceedings.
§ The Committee divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 65; Noes 23: Majority42.
|List of the AYES.|
|Acheson, Visct.||Grosvenor, Lord R.|
|Aldam, W.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Baring, right hon. F. T.||Hawes, B.|
|Bell, J.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Borthwick, P.||Howard, P. H.|
|Boyd, J.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Brotherton, J.||Jervis, Sir J.|
|Buller, C.||Kemble, H.|
|Busfeild, W.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Christie, W. D.||Langston, J. H.|
|Cowper, hon. W, F.||Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B.|
|Craig, W. G.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Denison, J. E.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Morris, D.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Morison, Gen.|
|Esmonde, Sir T.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Evans, W.||O'Brien, J.|
|Forster, M.||O'Brien, T.|
|Fox, C. R.||O'Conor Don|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Parker, J.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Polhill, F.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Price, Sir R.|
|Protheroe, E. D.||Tollemache, J.|
|Pusey, P.||Turner, E.|
|Rice, E. R.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Rich, H.||Ward, H. G.|
|Russell, Lord J.||White, S.|
|Scrope, G. P.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Seymour, Lord||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||Wyse, T.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||TELLERS.|
|Strutt, rt. hon. E.||Tufnell, H.|
|Thornely, T.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Allix, J. P.||Hodgson, F.|
|Arkwright, G.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Brisco, M.||Miles, W.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Prime, R.|
|Deedes, W.||Spooner, R.|
|Douglas, Sir H.||Stuart, J.|
|Entwisle, W.||Thompson, Mr. Ald.|
|Etwall, T.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Floyer, J.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Frewen, C. H.||TELLERS.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Bankes, G.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Henley, J. W.|
§ Clause agreed to.
§ On Clause 25, Commission to continue for—years, and on the question that the blank in the clause be filled with the word "five,"
§ MR. BORTHWICK moved that the word "three" be inserted instead of five, thus limiting the duration of the Act to three instead of five years.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
would prefer the limitation to one year, to show that the House had no confidence whatever in the Poor Law Commissioners. He would be glad, if allowable, to move as an Amendment to substitute one year instead of three years.
§ SIR G. GREY
must oppose the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman. He did not think that one year would give a fair trial, neither did he think that three years would be sufficient.
§ MR. SPOONER
thought the substitution of three years would be a decided amendment. Indeed he would prefer one year if the Government would agree to it.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that hon. Members wore mistaken as to the intended operation of the Bill. It would not give the first President a five years' tenure of office; 697 the period of five years had reference merely to the duration of the Act, and if it worked ill it might be amended. The hon. Member for Birmingham, whom he hoped to see in the next Parliament, might, in the course of a future Session, make any Motion he thought proper for its alteration.
§ MR. BANKES
observed that five years exceeded the average duration of Parliaments; he preferred one year to three, but five he should decidedly oppose.
§ CAPTAIN HARRIS
considered that the measure was nothing more than a renewal of the Commission, with the simple difference of having a President with a seat in that House, who being connected with Government, would be liable to removal and the influences of party. He wished to see placed on the Statute-book a revised and consolidated poor-law code, to which any one might refer, and a copy of which should be sent to each union, the whole to work under the Home Office with an additional irremovable Under Secretary. The twelve inspectors to be appointed to districts where they should superintend the working of the law, conduct inquiries, and report to the Home Office. He thought that if the Bill was allowed to pass at all this Session, its operation should be limited to as brief a period as could conveniently be named.
§ MR. HUDSON
expressed a hope that the Government would see the expediency of giving way on this point without going to a division. Three years would be a period sufficiently long for a trial of the amended law; and if it was found to be based upon a sound principle, there would afterwards be no objection to extending it to five or a greater number of years.
§ The House divided on the question that the blank be filled with the word "five:"—Ayes 76; Noes 43: Majority 33.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aldam, W.||Christie, W. D.|
|Bell, J.||Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Clive, Visct.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Corbally, M. E.|
|Blake, M. J.||Courtenny, Lord|
|Bodkin, W. H.||Craig, W. G.|
|Boyd, J.||Denison, J. E.|
|Brotherton, J.||Dickinson, F. H.|
|Buller, C.||Duncan, G.|
|Buller, E.||Dundas, Adm.|
|Burke, T. J.||Dundas, Sir D.|
|Busfeild, W.||Evans, W.|
|Cavendish, hon. G. H.||Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.|
|Gill, T.||Pinney, W.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Plumridge, Capt.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Price, Sir R.|
|Hallyburton, Ld. J. E. G.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Hamilton, Lord C.||Rice, E. R.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Russell, Lord C. J. F.|
|Hawes, B.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Somerville, Sir W. M.|
|Howard, hon. E. G. G.||Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Hughes, W. B.||Strutt, rt. hon. E.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Thornely, T.|
|Langston, J. H.||Tollemache, J.|
|Lemon, Sir C.||Turner, E.|
|Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Maule, rt. hon. F.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Monahan, J. H.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.||Ward, H. G.|
|Nicholl, rt. hon. J.||White, S.|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Ogle, S. C. H.||Wyse, T.|
|Pakington, Sir J.|
|Parker, J.||Tufnell, H.|
|Philips, M.||Hill, Lord M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Hall, Sir B.|
|Allix, J. P.||Halsey, T. P.|
|Arkwright, G.||Harris, hon. Capt.|
|Bankes, G.||Henley, J. W.|
|Berkeley, hon. C.||Hudson, G.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Brisco, M.||Masterman, J.|
|Buckley, E.||Morris, D.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Muntz, G. F.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Neeld, J.|
|Copeland, Mr. Ald.||Neeld, J.|
|Cripps, W.||Palmer, G.|
|Davies, D. A. S.||Pechell, Capt.|
|Deedes, W.||Perfect, R.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Egerton, W. T.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Entwisle, W.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Etwall, R.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Floyer, J.||Williams, W.|
|Frewen, C. H.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Gardner, J. D.||TEELERS.|
|Gladstone, Capt.||Spooner, R.|
|Grimsditch, T.||Borthwick, P.|
§ House resumed.
§ Bill to be reported,
§ House adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock.