§ The Order of the Day for the resumption of the Adjourned Debate on this Bill having been read,
§ MR. CHRISTIE
said, that he mainly approved of the principle of the Poor Law Amendment Act, and concurred in the opinions expressed last night with so much force and clearness by the hon. and learned Member for Bath. He was also thoroughly convinced of the necessity of a Central Commission with large discretionary powers, for the purpose of aiding, guiding, and controlling, local authorities. Entertaining these opinions, the only fault which he found with the Bill, referred to the clause —which had been stated to be an afterthought—which rendered the provisions of the measure temporary. Notwithstanding the strong assertions of the hon. Member for Knaresborough yesterday, he believed that the New Poor Law—a measure so salutary and at the same time so obnoxious to prejudice—was supported by the favourable opinion of the great bulk of the educated classes, and, indeed, he might say, by the great bulk of the people generally, 1065 and that they were desirous that it should be placed by Parliament above the disadvantage which was inseparable from a law renewed for only five years. The hon. Member for Knaresborough said that the law had failed—that it had crumbled to pieces—and that all parties admitted it had proved to be a miserable failure; but he had listened in vain for any proof in support of the hon. Member's assertions. The only matter which the hon. Member referred to as supporting his broad and sweeping assertion, were the proceedings before the Andover Committee, to which he (Mr. Christie) would presently advert. The course which the hon. and learned Member for Dorsetshire pursued last night, whilst professing to be friendly to the principle of the Poor Law Amendment Act, had infinitely surprised him, and rendered it necessary that he should endeavour briefly to explain what were the advantages to be derived from the Bill now before the House. The experience of the past had shown that security was needed for the correct administration of the law. Now, the Bill, in three different ways, produced important additional security for the correct administration of the law. The first of those additional securities was the direct responsibility in Parliament to which all officers employed in the administration of the Poor Law would, under the operation of the Bill, be subjected. They would be present in that House to be questioned and to answer for themselves, and would be fixed with direct responsibility for the answers which they might give. Then four Cabinet Ministers were to be associated with the President of the Commission proposed to be appointed under this Bill—a circumstance which must secure, as he presumed it was intended, the great additional advantage to the public of Cabinet deliberations upon every important exercise of the discretionary power with which the Commissioners should be invested. In the third case, the new footing in which the Commission was to be placed, by its officers being removable on every change of Government, though it was received by some persons as likely to endanger the stability of the law, appeared to him to furnish an important additional security in this way—that the administrators of Poor Law affairs would take every step they adopted with the full knowledge that their conduct would be canvassed thereafter, perhaps almost immediately by their successors, and, it might be, by their political 1066 opponents; and, on every change of Government, the persons who undertook to administer the Poor Law would by their mere acceptance of office, imply that they intended to maintain the fundamental principle of the law. The Bill made a slight change in the titles of some of the officers at present employed in the administration of the law, which appeared to him likely to have an important effect. The assistant poor-law commissioners were henceforth to be called inspectors. The Secretary for the Home Department yesterday enumerated some of the disadvantages under which the Poor Law Commissioners were placed by the present constitution of the Commission; and, upon the whole, he concurred in the view which the right hon. Baronet took of that subject. There was one disadvantage, however, under which the Commission was placed, to which the right hon. Baronet did not advert. The Central Commission, as was stated by the hon. Member for Bath, had been made responsible for every abuse and defect in the local administration of the law throughout the country. The effect of the change would be to place the Central Commission and their officers in a more proper and just relation towards the local administrators of the law by making it clear to the public that they were something external to the local administration diffused throughout the country. It would now be understood, that the Central Commission and their officers were appointed for the purpose of watching the local authorities, and compelling them to perform their duty; and the Commission would be looked upon merely as controllers. The hon. Member for Knaresborough, in the course of his speech, complained of the principles of the Act of 1834, and of the mode in which those principles had been carried into effect; and he spoke of the law as an utter failure. He agreed with the author of an anonymous pamphlet, published within the last two days, and which he thought might, without, fear of mistake, be attributed to one of the Poor Law Commissioners, that in the present state of public feeling-brought about, he was aware, by the important inquiry of last Session into the case of the Andover Union—it was desirable to ascertain the precise meaning of the declaration that the New Poor Law had been proved to be an utter failure. It was important to ascertain whether the Act of 1834 was impolitic and impracticable in itself, or whether it was a good law, and 1067 had failed only through the fault of its administrators, local and central; in other words, it was necessary that the distinction between the law and its administration should he placed clearly before the public. The points into which the Committee on the Andover Union inquired and reported, were all points bearing upon the administration of the law, as distinguished from the law itself, The right hon. Secretary for the Home Department said that he had read the report of the Andover Committee without finding a word in it affecting the principle of the law, or the expediency of a central Commission. All the points inquired into by the Committee, as he before stated, involved the local administration of the law. The master and matron of the workhouse were unfit for their offices, and, consequently, the workhouse was ill-regulated. Large discretionary powers were improperly left to the relieving officer, and the result was the infliction of hardship on the poor. The accounts were disgracefully kept, and the system of relief administered by the guardians was intended to defeat one of the chief objects of the Act. They applied the workhouse test so harshly, that labourers were afraid to enter the workhouse, and were glad to accept any wages, however insufficient, which were offered them. Upon these abuses the Committee reported in terms of strong condemnation. Then the Committee inquired into the conduct of an assistant commissioner in conducting an investigation connected with the union—into the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners in dismissing Mr. Parker and Mr. Day; and upon these questions the Committee came to a decision, and reported it. He would take that opportunity of complimenting the hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakenham), and the noble Chairman of the Committee (Lord Courtenay), for the talent and impartiality exhibited by them throughout the inquiry. All these were points affecting the administration of the law, not the law itself. Various incidental questions also arose before the Committee, which they found themselves obliged further to investigate, as a matter of justice to individuals. Those questions had reference also to the mode in which the Commissioners had conducted their business, which was in many respects illegal, and altogether irregular and injurious; and especially they had reference to an arrangement of the business of the department, by which Mr. Chadwick was excluded from all recognised participation in it; thus de- 1068 priving the public of the advantage of his abilities, and of his great and various economical knowledge. Further questions were raised: of the existence of great distrust of the Commissioners by their subordinate officers—an imputation on them of discouraging their officers in detecting abuses—a charge made by Mr. Chadwick, on the authority of three late assistant commissioners, not one of whom had come forward to contradict his statement; also some instances of injustice by the Commissioners towards their subordinates—and a charge against them of withholding a return twice ordered by the House of Lords. Upon all these charges a great deal of evidence was taken, and public opinion was much affected by it. But all these questions, like the previous ones, concerned the administration of the law, not the law itself. And he considered he was justified, on a review of the whole of the subjects brought before the Committee, in saying that the hon. Member for Knaresborough was not entitled to refer to the report of that Committee as confirmatory of his assertion that the New Poor Law Act had proved an utter failure. The Andover Committee reported towards the close of the last Session of Parliament, when the present Government had very recently come into office. The right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary, during the greater part of the inquiry, was new to his present office, and much time elapsed before the report and evidence were delivered to the Members—not, indeed, until within a month of the meeting of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman then instituted some inquiries, the result of which was the letter of the Commissioners which had just been laid on the Table of the House. The Commissioners were still in office when Parliament met for the present Session; but within a few days of its meeting, the noble Lord, adopting an unusual course for a Government, but a course which the state of public opinion demanded, did, in moving the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the Law of Settlement, make a statement to the House of the intentions of the Government as to the reconstruction of the Poor Law Commission. One effect of that statement was, that the hon. Member for Montrose, who had a notice on the Paper for an Address for the removal of the Poor Law Commissioners, was so satisfied with the noble Lord's declaration, that he said he should not make that Motion. Entertaining as he did a 1069 very strong opinion as to the conduct of the Commissioners, he was not prepared to gay, under all the circumstances, and as the Commission was then about to expire, that the Government did not exercise a wise discretion. But that statement of the noble Lord led the House and the public to believe that in the reconstruction of the Commission, the present Commissioners would cease to be Members of the Board. Under these circumstances, and considering that the Government were still obliged to depend on them, he was not surprised that the noble Lord had refused, when asked the other night, to pledge himself not to reappoint the present Commissioners. That was an unreasonable request; and he ventured to say that the noble Lord's refusal would give the public no concern. He could not wholly approve of the course taken by the right hon. Baronet (Sir G. Grey), in calling on the Poor Law Commissioners to give an account of the way in which the business of their office had been conducted. Their proceedings had been impugned by Mr. Chadwick, in the paper addressed by him, in 1841, to Mr. Lewis, and afterwards in his evidence before the Andover Union Committee. Mr. Chadwick and the Commissioners were at issue on various matters of fact. The Poor Law Commissioners would naturally make the statement that was most favourable to their own view; and he would take it on himself to say that the letter of the Poor Law Commissioners contained several misstatements; and yet that letter, unchecked by any counter-statement from Mr. Chadwick, had been submitted by the right hon. Gentleman to the law officers of the Crown. The letter contained several statements that were calculated to mislead. It was proved before the Andover Union Committee, that individual Poor Law Commissioners had at different times exercised all the powers which the Act of Parliament had entrusted to the Board of Commissioners, without having obtained that delegation of power which by the Act ought to have taken place. The Commissioners had not thought it right to give the opinion of the law officers of the Crown, although had they done so he could not suppose that this mode of procedure would not have been condemned by them. It was stated, as the reason for refusing it, that the opinion of the law officers of the Crown was never published by the Commissioners; but in a report on the state of relief in the parishes of St. Pancras and Marylebone, 1070 they voluntarily produced the opinion of the law officers of the Crown upon a case submitted to them. But the Commissioners had made some comments, and given their opinion upon some parts of that opinion of the law officers, by which an imperfect insight into its nature might be obtained; and he thought it would be better that the public should be put in possession of the whole opinion at once. He inferred from the letter of the Commissioners, that the law officers had given their opinion that the letters written by the Commissioners ought to be recorded in conformity with the Act of Parliament. The Commissioners said, that the letters which they had not entered on the minutes were, like all others, recorded; but he (Mr. Christie) asserted that all their letters were not recorded, for they were in the habit of writing letters of instruction to assistant commissioners which were marked "private," and which were neither entered on the minutes nor recorded. No copies were kept. Again he inferred, from the letter of the Commissioners, that the law officers had expressed the opinion that the Poor Law Commissioners had no power to decide separately without reference to the Board. But he asserted that they had been in the habit of deciding separately, without reference to the Board, all sorts of business entrusted to the Poor Law Commissioners. Before the meeting of Parliament an anonymous pamphlet had been published; and since he had had the benefit of seeing the official explanation of the Commissioners, he had no hesitation in ascribing that pamphlet to the same quarter. It was a digest of the evidence on the Andover inquiry, with introductory remarks, by a barrister; and it was impossible to read it without feeling assured it proceeded from the same quarter as the letter. The very words were in many instances almost identical. He had as little hesitation in saying that this digest, as it was called, was a most disgraceful garble, and that the introductory remarks, professed to be written by a barrister, were full of mistakes. The hon. Member read an extract from the digest relating to the dismissal of Mr. Parker, observing that the force of garbling could no further go. The gentlemen who composed the Andover Committee had a right to complain of the conduct of the Commissioners in putting forth anonymous statements reflecting upon the motives which had actuated them in the inquiry. They had chosen to say that a majority of 1071 that Committee was composed of anti-poor-law members. That statement was untrue. Eight out of the fifteen members were friends to the Poor Law. The Commissioners further said, that the enemies of the law and the personal friends of Mr. Parker were banded together in hatred against the Commissioners. Why, eight members of the Committee had been nominated at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Andover, and seven at the suggestion of the hon. Member for Cavan. The series of resolutions declaring the insufficiency of the reasons alleged by the Poor Law Commissioners for dismissing Mr. Parker, were prepared and submitted to the Committee by the noble Lord its chairman (Lord Courtenay). He took it for granted that the publication proceeded from the Poor Law Commissioners; and he wished to call the attention of the House, and of the public, to one statement which it contained with regard to Mr. Chadwick: "A discontented Secretary attempts to counterwork his official superiors, and they guard themselves against what they deem to be his injudicious and imprudent acts, by so arranging the details of their office business as to retain in their own hands all the controlling power." The hon. Gentleman also read another extract, stating that "an ambitious, conceited, or wrongheaded subordinate" had endeavoured to gain his own objects. He (Mr. Christie) considered that the Poor Law Commissioners ought to take the very earliest opportunity of disavowing—if they could do so—any participation in this publication, which cast such reflections upon their Secretary. With regard to the conduct of the Commissioners towards Mr. Chadwick, he was able, though he was not authorized, to say that Mr. Chadwick had the strongest desire for a full and most minute investigation of the conduct of the Commissioners towards him, and of his conduct to them. He (Mr. Christie) thanked the House for the patience with which they had listened to his observations." After the statement which had been made at an early period of the Session, with reference to the Poor Law Commissioners, by the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he had thought it right to abstain from making any Motion in that House with regard to the conduct of the Commissioners; but considering the part he had taken in the inquiry before the Andover Committee, he had deemed it his duty to avail himself of this opportunity of separating the conduct of the Poor Law 1072 Commissioners from the administration of the Poor Law, and of showing that the law ought not to suffer in consequence of the proceedings of the Commissioners. He might be allowed to observe that the prominent position he had occupied during the course of the investigation before the Andover Committee, with reference to the Poor Law Commissioners, came upon him, in a great measure, by surprise. When he first brought forward in that House the Motion for an inquiry into the conduct of the Commissioners towards Mr. Parker, he had not the slightest idea that such extensive and deep-seated abuses existed as were proved during the Andover inquiry. If he had been aware of the existence of such a state of things, he might have considered the expediency of bringing forward that Motion. He had always been a warm friend of the principles of the Poor Law Amendment Act; and when opposition to that measure became a party cry with the constituencies of the country in the year 1837, he published a pamphlet defending the principles of the law and the expediency of a central Commission, in answer to the attacks which were made upon it by the hon. Member for Cambridge, who was afterwards Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, and who came forward last year as the champion of the Poor Law Commissioners. He must repeat, also, the statement he made when he brought forward his' Motion for the Andover inquiry—that he was acquainted with two of the Poor Law Commissioners who were most affected by the evidence given before the Andover Committee—Sir E. Head and Mr. Lewis; he had always previously entertained the greatest confidence in their abilities, and in their judicious administration of the law; and he could therefore deny that he had been actuated by any feelings of personal hostility towards them in moving for the appointment of the Committee. He willingly turned from the contemplation of the past to indulge the anticipation of a happier future with regard to the administration of the Poor Law; and he believed that the Bill now before the House would afford securities, which past events had shown were much needed, for the effectual administration of that law. He would ever feel satisfaction that he had been the instrument of exposing the injustice which laborious public servants had experienced from those from whom they deserved very different treatment; and he believed, when the ex- 1073 citement caused by the Andover inquiry had subsided, it would be admitted by all parties that that investigation had been productive of very great benefits in preventing the maladministration of the Poor Law.
§ MR. ETWALL
did not concur in the statement made by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down as to the feeling entertained in the country with reference to the present Poor Law; for he knew that, in many parts of England, and in the agricultural districts especially, there was a very strong feeling against that law. He must confess that he saw no necessity for maintaining a Board in London to regulate the administration of the Poor Law; and he was not aware that any benefits had resulted from the present Commission which might lead the House to be enamoured of the system of centralization. On the contrary, he thought there were many objections to such a system. He might, however, be asked, "How can you recommend and advocate the local administration of the Poor Law after the irregularities and mismanagement which were shown to exist in the Andover Union? He begged distinctly to make the Andover Union an exception; but he believed that in general the boards of guardians were as desirous to administer the Poor Law humanely, as the Andover board of guardians had seemed determined to administer it with severity and oppression. He wished the House and the country clearly to understand, however, that the guardians elected by the ratepayers of the town of Andover had uniformly stood up for the rights of the paupers, and that they had endeavoured, so far as was in their power, to alleviate the severity of the law; but he regretted to say, that their attempts to effect this object had been thwarted by the decided opposition of the rev. chairman of the board and by the country guardians. He did not think there was any great improvement in the constitution of the Board proposed by this Bill, beyond the direct responsibility of one of the Board, who was to have a seat in that House, and who might be called upon to afford information and explanations as to the administration of the law. It was proposed that the business of the Poor Law Commissioners should in future be transacted by a President and two Secretaries. If it was considered necessary to have a board at all, he would rather see the whole responsibility borne by the President, who was to be a Member of that 1074 House, than by the Cabinet. He had hoped that the Government would have brought forward some proposal for ameliorating the severity and correcting the irregularities of the law, before they made any alteration with regard to the Central Board. He was satisfied that there was something so rotten in the present Poor Law, that, however it might be carried out—whether by a Board in London, or by local authorities—it never could be administered satisfactorily to those who were engaged in its administration, or for the benefit of those for whose relief it was intended. He might take this opportunity of observing that, at the commencement of the Session, he had given notice of his intention to bring the evidence taken before the Andover Committee under the consideration of the House; but partly in consequence of the time which had been occupied in discussing measures designed to relieve the lamentable distress of the Irish people, and partly because he thought it fair to give the Government an opportunity of laying before the House and the country the alterations they proposed to make in the Poor Law, he had hitherto deferred bringing the subject forward. He was anxious to call the attention of the House to a point which he considered of great importance. In 1834, when the Poor Law Amendment Bill was introduced into that House by the late Lord Althorp, the noble Lord stated that a very short time would elapse before the wages of the agricultural labourer would rise to the point at which they would be necessary for his subsistence. In that respect the law had lamentably failed; and there never was a more striking evidence of that failure than at the present moment, when wages had not risen in the same ratio with the increase in the price of bread. He hoped that the farmers would take this subject into consideration, and that before the labourers were too much reduced, they would make a proper and judicious advance in the wages of agricultural labourers. The hon. and learned Member for Bath had stated last night that one of the objections to the old Poor Law was, that, when relief was refused to the idle and able-bodied poor, it led to incendiarism. He begged to remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that the riots which took place in 1831 were not produced by the old Law, and had nothing to do with it, but were 1075 solely the result of a low rate of wages, which rendered it impossible for the agricultural labourers to support themselves and families. The hon. Member for Weymouth had expressed his gratification that the title of the assistant poor-law commissioners was changed by this Bill. He could not see that any advantage would result from that alteration; the title would merely be changed to that of inspectors, but the duties of the officers would remain nearly the same as at present. It was proposed by this Bill to appoint twelve instead of nine inspectors; but he thought an increase of three only in the number would be utterly inadequate to carry out a proper system of inspection. A statement was laid before the Andover Committee with reference to the visits of assistant commissioners to unions, to which he would beg to call the attention of the House. That statement showed that from October 1, 1844, to September 30, 1845, the total number of unions was 463; and that out of this number 398 were visited by assistant commissioners, and 65 were not visited at all. A summary of the visits of the Commissioners, embracing a period of three years, from 1842 to 1845, was also presented to the Committee; and it appeared from this document that during one whole year 252 unions were not visited by any assistant commissioner; that during two years of the three 48 unions were unvisited; and that five unions were not visited at all during the whole three years. He considered that Mr. Parker had too large a number of unions under his superintendence for any man properly to inspect. Taking the same years which he had previously mentioned, he found that during one year Mr. Parker never visited 57 of the unions in his district; during two years 26 unions were not visited, and in the course of three years five unions were not visited. Nevertheless, he was certain that, with regard to the West of England, those unions which were the more seldom visited by the assistant commissioners were better managed, and the way in which relief was administered to the poor in them was more satisfactory to the ratepayers and to the poor. Considering the extensive districts to which the assistant commissioners were appointed, he thought they ought to have made a representation, and many did, of the impossibility, on their part, of making a regular supervision of their districts; and great blame was to be attached to the 1076 Commissioners for not devising arrangements for regular, and, at least, annual visits to the several unions. The most efficient inspection, however, would, after all, consist in making the proceedings of the boards of guardians public. In confirmation of this view, he might here quote the opinion of the Duke of Wellington, as stated to the Andover Committee by Mr. Chadwick. When that gentleman waited on the Duke of Wellington in reference to the 4th section of the Poor Act, he pointed out that there might be many things in the administration of the law by the Commissioners, the knowledge of which by the public might not be attended with particular convenience; but the noble Duke asked, "What can be said or done about my parish which I, as a parishioner, should be shut out from knowing?" For these reasons he (Mr. Etwall) advocated publicity in reference to the proceedings of the boards of guardians; and if they were made public, those boards would never dare to decide on a poor man's case until they had first heard the poor man's story. He felt bound, after what had been stated, to mention some of the circumstances which took place before the Andover Committee. The noble Chairman proposed the following resolution:—That, on the whole, the preponderance of the evidence leads the Committee to believe that Mr. Parker conducted the second inquiry under difficult circumstances with ability, and a desire to do justice to the parties implicated.Now, being strongly impressed with the manner in which that inquiry was conducted, he (Mr. Etwall) could not suffer that resolution to be passed; and, consequently, he moved the following Amendment:—That, on the whole, the preponderance of the evidence leads the Committee to believe that Mr. Parker did not conduct the inquiry with that strict impartiality which ought to characterize the conduct of the presiding officer at such an in vestigation.That Amendment was carried by a majority of one vote. On its being then put as the main question, the hon. Baronet opposite did not vote, and the numbers were consequently equal. The noble Chairman gave the casting vote, which naturally went in favour of his own resolution; but he (Mr. Etwall) said that, practically, his resolution was carried, to the effect that Mr. Parker did not conduct the inquiry with strict impartiality. It had been observed, that the poor felt great objection to the regulations of the Commissioners, because they were the rules of three indi- 1077 viduals, and were not embodied in an Act of Parliament. He admitted the truth of this observation to a certain extent, but he could not go the whole length of it. He could not go so far as to agree in the opinion that before the present Bill passed, it was desirable that those rules and regulations should become the law of the land, for he thought it extremely desirable that they should be completely blotted out; and, if there must be a Board in London, he trusted that one of their first acts would be to frame other regulations. The right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department said last month that it never was intended that there should be strict uniformity by this law. Then he (Mr. Etwall) had always been labouring under error, for he thought that one of the greatest advantages proposed to be derived from this Poor Law was the establishment of uniformity throughout the whole of England; although uniformity had not been carried out. Taking, for instance, the labour test, which was the result of one of the most important rules made by the Commissioners, he found that the labour test was strictly and cruelly enforced in the south and west of England, though it was not dared to be put in force in the great towns and places in the north of England. Could the law, then, be essentially good in itself, when that uniformity which the great supporters of the law considered to be its essence could not be enforced? The hon. Member for Weymouth had so fully gone into the case with respect to the Commissioners, that little remained for him to say on the subject. By the evidence taken before the Andover Committee, he found that a case was drawn up by the Commissioners, and that the opinions of the late Attorney and Solicitor General and Mr. Tomlinson were taken on it. He would prove that that case, so drawn up for a legal opinion, was erroneous. It did not state the facts as to the manner in which the business was conducted at Somerset House. The fourth section of the Act enacted—That the said Commissioners shall make a record of their proceedings, in which shall be entered in writing a reference to every letter received, whence, its date, the date of its reception, and the subject to which it relates, and a minute of every letter written, or order given, by the Commissioners, whether in answer to such letters received or otherwise, with the date of the same, and a minute of the opinion of each of the members of the Board of Commissioners, in case they should finally differ in opinion upon any order to be given, or other proceeding of the Board.1078 Was this part of the law carried out by the Commissioners? No! They were daily acting in flagrant opposition to it. They were sending letters to their assistant commissioners, giving suggestions and orders relative to the unions, and to many other most important points—letters which he held to be official communications— without complying with the directions of the law as to the keeping of a proper record of them. He would now read to the House extracts from the case drawn up by the Commissioners for a legal opinion. The case stated, that—"every letter received is opened by a clerk specially charged with the duty, and is at the same time stamped with a stamp, showing the date of its receipt, and is immediately numbered in a consecutive order from the first to the last day of the year, and a note is made in a book of every letter so received, in the order of the number affixed to it. The book in which these numbers are consecutively entered secures a knowledge of every letter that enters the office, and is adopted for this purpose, and with a view to official convenience in other respects.If a letter be received from any assistant commissioner, it is entered on a sheet With the same headings as those described.And the case then went on to refer to communications relating to particular parishes or unions. Now, it was proved by evidence before the Andover Committee, that there were many letters written which were never thus entered. There were the letters in Mr. Day's case, signed by Mr. Nicholls on behalf of his colleagues, which, it could not be denied, were official, because, the correspondence having by some means been published, Mr. Lumley thereupon wrote to Mr. Day, stating that the Commissioners were surprised that he had suffered this correspondence, which was of an official nature, to be published in the newspapers. Then, with regard to another letter, there was no proper record made of it; but merely an allusion to it on a piece of rough paper, which was pasted in the book. He had spoken in strong terms relative to the mode in which Mr. Parker conducted the Andover inquiry; but, considering the evidence before the Andover Committee, he had no hesitation in saying that he thought the manner in which Mr. Parker was treated by the Commissioners, was anything but becoming the character which the Poor Law Commissioners of England ought to maintain. And the way in which Mr. Day was tempted to send in his resignation was perhaps even worse. If a proper record had been kept of these letters, there would 1079 not have been so many versions of the reasons for which Mr. Parker was dismissed; nor would the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) have fallen into the error of stating that Mr. Day was dismissed on account of the reduction of the establishment, while the reason alleged by the Commissioners for wishing him to resign was the state of his health. There was a letter written by Mr. Lewis to Mr. Day, directing him to what district to apply his superintendence; that was unquestionably an official Act, but there was no record of it. The hon. Member for Weymouth had stated how many days Mr. Nichols transacted the business at Somerset House alone; these individual Acts were decidedly in violation of the law. In 1834, when this law was introduced, and when there were many objections made to the great powers which were proposed to be given to the Commissioners, Lord Althorp said—I shall be most happy, indeed it is my intention, to take away all immunities from the Commissioners which are not essentially necessary; not to give them any, unless they are acting in a corporate capacity.Now the Commissioners seemed to have entirely forgotten that they were to act in a corporate capacity; and instead of their acting individually being the exception to the rule, their acting collectively and in a corporate capacity was the exception. He opposed this law from a deep and conscientious conviction, that it was neither beneficial to the industrious labourer nor advantageous to the ratepayer; and he should support the Amendment of the hon. Member for Knaresborough, thinking that there was no necessity for a Central Board to administer the Poor Law.
§ VISCOUNT COURTENAY
did not intend, nor should he feel justified in following either of his hon. Friends who had just spoken, in detail through the statements they had addressed to the House. Still, as he had the honour of being chairman of the Committee, respecting the report of which so much had been said during the course of this discussion, he might be permitted to offer a few observations to the House. He did so for two objects: first, he was anxious, as he had not an opportunity as chairman of expressing his opinion but by his vote on many of the resolutions that were adopted, and he was anxious now to state how far he agreed and how far he disagreed with those resolutions; secondly, he was desirous to have an opportunity, however briefly, of stating 1080 his views on that which was perhaps the more immediate subject of discussion, he meant the Bill now before the House. It was his misfortune not entirely to agree with any of the views which were represented, so to say, by the different members of that Committee. He had the honour of submitting to that Committee a certain body of resolutions, which underwent a discussion which he was bound to say was carried on with a degree of personal kindness to himself, for which he should be sorry to omit that or any other opportunity of expressing his acknowledgments. The result of that protracted investigation and discussion was, that a certain body of resolutions were agreed upon and presented to the House, addressing themselves respectively to three subjects of inquiry: first, the administration of the law in the Andover Union; secondly, the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners in reference to the investigation in the Andover Union, and also the circumstances under which they called upon Mr. Parker to resign; and, thirdly, as to the subject included within the jurisdiction of the Committee at a subsequent period, namely, the case of Mr. Day. He thought the evidence before the Committee showed—and he felt himself unable to avoid coming to the conclusion from the evidence stated before them—that there had been great mismanagement in the board of guardians on what was submitted to their investigation; and he could not avoid coming to the conclusion that the administration of the law had been marked upon the part of the guardians of the Andover Union by very unnecessary harshness. He felt bound to say, as had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Weymouth, that that investigation, protracted as it was, unnecessary as were, perhaps, some of the topics on which the inquiry rested, on the whole was useful by pointing public attention to that which he considered the unduly harsh mode of administering the law. The next head of the inquiry was the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners, with respect to Mr. Parker, and the circumstances under which they called upon him to resign. He was not asking, nor would this be the time to re-open the case of Mr. Parker, or to inquire whether or not the Commissioners were justified, in the course they had pursued with regard to Mr. Parker. His own impression was— he stated it frankly, and did not shrink from doing so before the Committee—his own impression was, that no evidence was 1081 laid before them which showed that the Poor Law Commissioners were justified in the course they took with respect to Mr. Parker. He thought that Mr. Parker's superintendence of the Andover Union was marked by an absence of that attention and vigilance which, he thought, if they had been bestowed, might have prevented many of the evils that had resulted; but he also thought that neither that nor any portion of Mr. Parker's conduct, with respect to the investigation that was brought before the Committee, justified in his mind the Poor Law Commissioners either as to the manner or the tone in which that dismissal was expressed. He had the honour to suggest a resolution which was afterwards carried, blaming the Poor Law Commissioners for the conduct pursued in reference to that case, and to the dismissal of Mr. Parker. He was bound, in justice to Mr. Parker, to say, and he should not shrink from saying it, that although in some instances his superintendence might be defective, there was strong evidence given of the laboriousness—of the unwearied perseverance—with which Mr. Parker had devoted himself to very important duties in connexion with the Commission in a former position as Secretary, and as to his efficiency on other occasions as an assistant commissioner. The third subject of inquiry—the case of Mr. Day—it might be right to touch upon, because the conduct of the Commissioners in reference to their assistant commissioners had formed a prominent subject in this discussion. And he must declare, that while out of this Andover inquiry, few, if any, of the persons who brought forward charges came wholly free from blame, he thought that the individual, to whom least, if any, blame attached, was Mr. Day. He was bound to say that, upon the evidence adduced before the Committee, there did not appear to him any justification whatever of Mr. Day's dismissal. It was painful to him to express this opinion, having had for many years the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with two of the Members of the Commission, and having been brought into communication with the third, Mr. Nichols, under circumstances which conveyed a deep impression of his ability, and zeal, and judgment, when he was engaged in the introduction of the Poor Law into Ireland; but justice required that the opinion should be stated. There were also one or two resolutions with respect to which he (Lord Courtenay) was anxious to say a 1082 few words. The 6th Resolution, with regard to the union books, had been already alluded to:—That the Committee have been informed of a strong representation made by Mr. Parker to the Poor Law Commissioners shortly after he joined the district, including Andover, of the disgraceful state of the accounts and the workhouses in many of the unions of the district, and of special representations made by him as to the accounts in the West Farle and Wycombe unions, which seem to have received no attention whatever from the Poor Law Commissioners.These matters were but incidentally alluded to, and were not subjects upon which the Committee were called upon to report; and, with regard to the Wycombe Union, he felt obliged to dissent from this resolution, because he did not see evidence which justified the Committee in pronouncing that opinion. Least of all could he concur with it when it went on:—And these are not the only circumstances disclosed in the evidence which have led the Committee to the conviction that the Poor Law Commissioners have not given that encouragement to their assistant commissioners in the detection and removal of abuses which would have been the best security for the zealous services of their subordinate officers.To that resolution he should be unwilling to be considered as giving his assent. Neither did he assent to the last resolution but one:—That, on a review of the conduct of the Commissioners with respect to the Andover inquiries, and towards Mr. Parker and Mr. Day, the Committee are of opinion that their conduct has been irregular and arbitrary, not in accordance with the statute under which they exercise their functions, and such as to shake public confidence in their administration of the law.He differed from that resolution, first, because though he believed the Commissioners' proceedings to be, in some respects, irregular and arbitrary, there was no evidence before him which brought him to the conviction that they were at variance with the provisions of the statute; and, looking to the difficult circumstances in which they were placed, the extent of their duties, the way in which, in some instances at least, as shown in this inquiry, they had been thwarted by the guardians with whom they had to act, he was not prepared to take so strong a step as to pass such a censure as this upon the Commissioners. He felt it rather consonant to his own sense of what was right to express an opinion upon individual acts, either arbitrary or irregular; and he dissented from so general and unqualified a censure. With regard to the Bill before the House, he thought it gave 1083 reason to hope that the future administration of the law would be conducted under a greater responsibility, and with more of regularity than had been the case heretofore. That part which provided for a more direct Parliamentary responsibility appeared to him likely to be beneficial; as well also as the substitution of inspectors, to be sent to particular districts when occasion might require, in place of the assistant commissioners. He should support the Bill, in the belief that the alterations it introduced would supply a more efficient guarantee for the due and regular administration of the law. Much of this discussion had turned upon the general principles of the law. He should not have given his assent if he saw reason to anticipate a departure from the sound and prudent arrangement which, while abstaining from imposing a harsh and unbending series of rules and regulations sanctioned by Parliament, would at the same time secure that degree of uniformity which was essential to the just administration of the law. He should oppose the Bill if he thought the Government contemplated any material alteration in principles. He believed that the principles of this law, impeded as they might have been in some instances by tad local administration, and carried out in others with excessive rigour, were upon the whole sound and safe, and that we should be materially prejudicing the prosperity of the country were we to take a step backwards, and to shrink from carrying it out, gently, but still steadily and firmly.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
thought, that after the speech of the noble Lord who had so ably presided over the Andover Committee, the House would be surprised at the delay which had occurred in the introduction of a measure for altering the law. But the Government would not admit that they had been influenced by the results of that inquiry. Were they satisfied, then, with the mode in which the Poor Law Commissioners had exercised their functions? Did they hold that the Commissioners had conducted their business as a public board in accordance with the Act of Parliament? It had been proved that the Secretary was often relegated to the attic, while the whole business of the Commission was transacted by one Commissioner. Were such considerations not likely to have acted on the noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government? But when the House was told that the exposé made on 1084 the Andover inquiry was not one of the reasons which operated on the Government, then they could only ask what it was that could have induced the Government to dispossess the Commissioners of their powers, and appoint others with still greater powers, which might be exercised in a political sense with very great advantage to the Government, though not to other parties? The powers of the new Commissioners might be misused, as the powers of the old Commissioners had been. The question which had been raised was, what had the Commissioners done as a board? The Secretary of the Commission had described their conduct; and of the Secretary he must say, that gentleman had conducted his business most ably and efficiently. Having in the first instance been placed on the Commission of Inquiry into the Poor Laws, Mr. Chadwick arranged the machinery of the Commission, and was afterwards appointed Secretary; when the Commissioners transferred him to the garret, where he was employed in drawing out statistical statements. Much had been said of the definition of a board by Johnson and others; but they found instances in which one Commissioner only was present, while another Commissioner was running about from one room to another; and the sanction of the one, giving authority to an order of "the Board," was obtained out of sight and hearing of the other. One of the Commissioners had remarked, that Mr. Chadwick's views of a board were most extraordinary, as appeared from a statement of Mr. Parker's. Another Commissioner observed, that a board was an analogical term, a quorum of persons appointed to act in a particular matter. It seemed as if they thought that when sitting separately, pasting scraps of Minutes in the Minute-book, and calling these orders of the Board, they were doing their duty according to the Act of Parliament. He knew not if the noble Lord, in bringing in this Bill for the annihilation of the Poor Law Commissioners, would disclose the precise considerations which had acted on his mind; but as no reason was stated, it could only be conjectured that the noble Lord had seen a letter which it might be supposed the right hon. the Secretary for the Home Department had intercepted, and which purported to be an answer to a question from a foreign country, a communication to a gentleman in China. The writer said —"We have in England a set of people who are called ' boards;'" and he went on 1085 to remark of a board, that "the harder and thicker it is the better; but if it splits it is done for." It was a common expression in this country that a man was "boarded and done for;" and it was said that circumstanced as England was, there were so many boards that the poor were often "done for." He hoped that under this Bill Commissioners would he appointed to carry out the law in the spirit in which it was framed, and in order that there might not be a repetition of those disgraceful occurrences, the existence of which had been proved before the Andover Committee. It was extraordinary that, notwithstanding all that had been said at several times against the bone-crushing system, the Poor Law Commissioners had continued it for several years, pretending all the while they knew nothing about it. It never was intended that paupers should be subjected to such labour as a test before they received relief. Another sufficient cause for the proposed change in the administration of the Poor Law was, that the Commissioners used a restricted dietary not in conformity with the rules in the printed annual report of the Commissioners; and that dietary was still further diminished by the peculations and dishonesty of the master. The conduct of the Commissioners towards Mr. Parker and Mr. Day, who had so faithfully and efficiently served the public was most improper. Mr. Day, in reference to the treatment he had received, had thus expressed himself—It's a very good world we live in,To spend or to lend or to give in;But to beg or to borrow, or look for your own,It's the very worst world that ever was known.He was very desirous of a change of the present law, but he felt himself in a difficulty. If he voted against the second reading, it would be said that he left the gentlemen of Somerset House untouched; and if the Bill passed, they were to be prevented making any observations or charge in reference to the administration of the Poor Law without being considered as against the Government. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had suggested that one of the advantages of passing this Bill would be, that they would have men in both Houses of Parliament to discuss what amendments of the law would be necessary. He only hoped that they would have such amendments of the law as would prevent the recurrence of many of those practices which the Poor Law Commissioners had tolerated. The hon. 1086 and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Roebuck) had stated that the Commissioners had been influenced by that great public organ, The Times newspaper; that they had quailed before that journal; and he blamed them for doing so. He did not think they had quailed before The Times, when they tolerated bone-crushing and many other practices which had been complained of. He was very desirous to carry out the view of the Andover Committee with respect to the Poor Law Commissioners having lost the confidence of the country; and he was also anxious, if possible, to do away with a central control; but if they were to have a central control, the Government could not do greater harm than by holding out threats that they were going to centralize the whole kingdom and abolish all local Acts, including the unfortunate corporations under the Gilbert Act, which had survived, and he hoped would continue to survive, the Poor Law Commissioners. The hon. and gallant Member concluded by declaring his intention of opposing the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. MANNERS SUTTON
said, that three subjects, each of them of great importance, but still each distinct from the other, had been brought under the consideration of the House in the course of the present discussion. In the first place, the hon. Member for Knaresborough, in moving that this Bill be read a second time that day six months, addressed himself mainly, if not entirely, to the merits of the law of 1834; the same question had also been touched upon by several subsequent speakers; but inasmuch as it was not intended by this Bill to alter that law, he did not think it necessary to enter into that part of the question. His hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) next applied himself to the question which was more particularly the subject of discussion, namely, the Bill introduced by Her Majesty's Government. That hon. Member had stated the objections which he entertained to the Bill, and then expressed his intention of concurring in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Knaresborough, although dissenting from the grounds upon which that Amendment was based. Subsequently to these two speakers, a third subject had been brought under the consideration of the House—one almost equally important with the others to which he had adverted, but still he must take leave to say, perfectly distinct— he meant the conduct of the Poor Law 1087 Board; and to that subject, with the permission of the House, he wished in the first instance to address himself. His noble Friend the Member for Devonshire (Lord Courtenay), who acted as chairman of the Andover Committee, had arranged the subjects into which that Committee was appointed to inquire, under three heads; and in that course he should follow the noble Lord. Before doing so, however, he begged to remind the House, that he could not concur in the report of the majority of that Committee; that was to say, he did not concur in that part of it which referred to the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners, though he concurred in many other parts of it; and here he begged to be allowed to express his satisfaction at having learned very early in the present Session of Parliament that his humble opinion in this matter was strengthened by the concurrence of Her Majesty's Government. He was justified in saying this both by the acts of Government, and by some observations which fell from the noble Lord at the head of the Government on a former occasion, because, if the Government had concurred in the resolutions of the Andover Committee, they would never have felt it to be consistent with their duty either to themselves, the Committee, or the public, to retain men in their service whom they believed to be guilty of the conduct imputed to them by that Committee. He begged also to be allowed to express his regret, that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had not taken occasion, in his speech on the previous night, to explain to the House the views entertained by Her Majesty's Government. He regretted it the more because, if the right hon. Gentleman had explained the views of Government, it might have relieved him from the necessity of intruding upon the House. He felt convinced, however, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government would, before the conclusion of the debate, redeem his pledge and state his views to the House. He begged now to follow the noble Lord the Member for Devonshire (Lord Courtenay). That noble Lord had stated, and stated truly, that the first point to which the Committee directed their inquiry was, the administration of the law in the Andover union. His noble Friend had also stated with great force, although very shortly, the evils which were brought before the consideration of the Committee in the evidence submitted to them; and had 1088 very correctly acquainted the House with the opinion which the Committee entertained on that subject. He thought he might say that that opinion was unanimous; he was not aware of one dissentient voice; but although he was perfectly prepared to concur in the conclusions at which his noble Friend had arrived on this point, he was not prepared to concur in some of the inferences and deductions which he believed had been drawn from it by some members of the Committee, as well as by some of the public—that was to say, that while he perfectly admitted that great mal-administration did exist in the Andover union—that there was a laxity of administration, joined with severity, which inflicted great hardship on the poor—he was not prepared to saddle the responsibility of those things on the Poor Law Commissioners. He admitted that their functions were extensive, and their powers great; but, as had been rightly stated in an earlier part of the evening, their powers and functions were more of an inspective than an executive character, as respected the administration of the Poor Law in the different districts of the country. He admitted that, whenever an abuse was brought to their knowledge, and they neglected or refused to inquire into it, they ought to be held responsible for it; but if, when sitting in Somerset House, they should be blinded or misled by the laches of the assistant commissioners, or by any other means, and their ignorance did not arise from their own negligence, he held that they were not justly responsible for any evils, wherever they existed. Now, this was clearly shown to be the case in the Andover Committee. He held that that evidence clearly established, that the guardians and the assistant poor-law commissioners were responsible. For what was the evidence received on this point? It was this: that in the month of February preceding the investigation, the assistant poor-law commissioner (Mr. Parker), upon a personal visit to Andover, reported that all was going on favourably. It was true, that on a division, the insertion of this particular report was excluded from the resolution of the Committee; but still it remained in the evidence; and, as an appeal had been made to the evidence by several Members of that House, he begged to be allowed to appeal to the evidence also, and to say that that report completely exonerated the Poor Law Commissioners from any blame of the maladministration at Andover. His 1089 noble Friend had then proceeded to notice the conduct of the Commissioners with respect to Mr. Parker and Mr. Day. Now, he did not stand there as the advocate of the Poor Law Commissioners; he stood there to defend them against imputations and accusations which he believed to be ill-founded; but he was perfectly prepared to admit when he thought them wrong; and he thought there was not a more imperative duty which a public man was called upon to discharge—however high his position might be, as in the case of the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Russell), or the right hon. Gentleman (Sir G. Grey), or however humble, as in his own case— than to defend against accusations which he himself conscientiously believed to be unfounded, any public officer with whom he might have been officially connected. He said, then, distinctly, that in respect to the conduct of the Poor Law Commissioners in that inquiry, he thought there was one point on which they had shown indiscretion; but he did not concur in the resolution of the Committee. He differed from the opinion of the Committee, because he thought the granting of the adjournment of the inquiry by Mr. Parker unnecessary; but, being granted, he thought the overruling of it by the Commissioners, indiscreet. With respect to the manner in which Mr. Parker had conducted the inquiry, he maintained that the evidence submitted to the Andover Committee distinctly showed that he conducted it with very great partiality. He would not trouble the House with an analysis of the evidence on this point; but he would remind them that there was not merely the general impression on the minds of the witnesses, but particular cases were mentioned which were not disproved, in which great partiality was shown. Visitors who had dropped in to see the sight— men of respectable station, clergymen with cure of souls, and others—stated most strongly that great partiality had been shown by Mr. Parker. He now came to the case of Mr. Day; and he at once admitted that the case against Mr. Parker was stronger than the case against Mr. Day. He took the two cases, however, conjointly, because his justification of the Commissioners rested on the same principle, though on somewhat different grounds. In considering this point, he begged to advert for a moment to the position in which the assistant commissioners stood to the Poor Law Commissioners. The Poor Law 1090 Commissioners were responsible, and had been held really responsible, for the conduct of their subordinates. In imposing that responsibility, Parliament deliberately voted them both the power of appointment and removal; and it would not be fair to make a man responsible for his subordinates, unless he had that power. He felt justified in repeating the assertion he had already made, that the Committee had not resolved that the Commissioners were not justified in the removal of Mr. Parker. Mr. Parker's conduct in the second inquiry was one of the reasons which induced the Commissioners to remove him from his office; but it was not their only reason. The Andover Committee picked out only two of the reasons which the Commissioners had for removing Mr. Parker; and they summed up by saying that the time and manner of his dssmissal had been productive of great hardship to him. The Poor Law Commissioners were unanimous in censuring Mr. Parker's conduct. They were examined separately, but they all came to a similar conclusion, though in some respects upon different grounds, namely, that Mr. Parker had lost their confidence, and that it was not expedient to continue him longer in his office. There were, in his opinion, sufficient grounds for the loss of confidence; but whether there were or not, it was unjustifiable to impute corrupt motives to public officers unless the imputation could be sustained by proof. Mr. Parker distinctly stated the Commissioners required his resignation only for the purpose of throwing upon him the odium to which they themselves were justly obnoxious; not a tittle of evidence was given in support of that imputation. The case of Mr. Day differed from that of Mr. Parker in this—that the Commissioners attributed no improper conduct to Mr. Day. The cause of calling on Mr. Day for his resignation was this—it was discovered, in the course of an inquiry into the disturbances in Wales, that the Poor Law in Mr. Day's district had been badly administered, and therefore the Commissioners felt it necessary to remove him, although they bore testimony to his ability and integrity. What then was there in the time and manner of the removal of Mr. Parker and Mr. Day to justify complaint? They were removed precisely at the period when the necessity for taking that step became apparent in order to ensure a more efficient administration of the law in their respective districts. Other 1091 charges were made against the Commissioners, to which he would advert only for the purpose of showing the animus which suggested them; for, as any one who would read the evidence must perceive, they were totally unsustained by proof. One of these charges was that the Commissioners discouraged their subordinate officers. Mr. Chadwick came forward and said that Mr. Lewis had discouraged him, because, when he presented a report about Bolton in 1840, Mr. Lewis did not adopt the suggestion Mr. Chadwick made. On Mr. Chadwick being cross-examined, it turned out that he never offered any suggestions to Mr. Lewis beyond what might be held to be contained in his report; and he said that all he meant was, that Mr. Lewis's manner was very discouraging. It was fortunate that the Commissioners did not act upon the recommendation contained in Mr. Chadwick's report, which was this, that in 1842, when Bolton was visited with severe distress, the Commissioners should at once have stopped the system of outdoor allowances, which had been uniformly adopted in that town in all seasons of distress. If that had been done, it was impossible to doubt that an outcry would have been raised, not against Mr. Chadwick, for it would not have been his act, but against the Commissioners. And the very persons who now blamed the Commissioners for not having adopted Mr. Chadwick's suggestion, would have been the first to declaim upon the cruelty of their proceedings. The Commissioners were stated to have discouraged other of their subordinate officers; and the hon. Member for Weymouth said that no evidence had been offered in disproof of those statements; but surely the onus probandi lay upon the party who made the charge. Mr. Chadwick, however, offered no proof in support of his charge; it rested entirely on his ipse dixit. As Mr. Mott's case had not been brought forward in the debate, he did not feel it necessary to advert to it; and all he would say of that of Mr. Jenkin Jones, which had been referred to, was that strict justice had been observed in the treatment of that gentleman. There was only one other point relating to the conduct of the Commissioners to which he would allude, and that was the mode in which they kept their record. It was a point on which high legal opinions were divided; and laymen like the Commissioners might surely be excused for having followed a, practice which two law officers of the Crown had deliberately 1092 decided to be in accordance with the law. With respect to the Bill before the House, it appeared to him that his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire raised the real objection to it when he referred to the objection in the public mind to an Act "which combined in one board legislative with executive functions. That, he frankly admitted, constituted the great difficulty in dealing with the question. If his hon. Friend could point out any mode by which the two functions could be separated, he would gladly concur in its adoption; but the remedy which his hon. Friend proposed was worse than the disease. His hon. Friend's proposition was, that all the orders which might be deemed expedient, should at once be enacted. The answer to that proposition was, first, that the law was not generally applied; and, secondly, that it was not generally applicable. A rule suitable to the southern parts of the country could not be acted upon in the northern parts. Another and a more important objection was, that if the legislative and executive functions were disjoined, it would be impossible to deal with cases in which, at a moment's notice, it was necessary to modify the rules. That objection could be obviated only by giving the Commissioners the power of reversing an Act of Parliament; and there was little difference between that and the power of making rules to have the effect of one. The proposed alteration in the form of the Commission was a great improvement. As to the objection which had been raised to placemen having seats in the House, he was not apprehensive that the power of the Crown would ever become predominant in the House of Commons. It would be of advantage to the public, and productive of convenience to the Commissioners themselves, that they should be brought into closer connexion with the Houses of Parliament. They would thus become more directly responsible to Parliament, and more conversant with the feelings of Members of the Legislature.
§ Debate adjourned to Thursday.