HC Deb 21 February 1851 vol 114 c874

again rose to ask the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention had been called to the increase of vagrancy in the metropolis, and whether it was the intention of the Government to propose any remedy for that evil? Recent coroners' inquests showed a great amount of distress in the metropolis; and it had been stated in a public journal that on one day this week 430 ablebodied persons had applied to the Leicester-square soup kitchen, of whom 200 only could receive relief.


in answer to the hon. Member, begged to state that he had received no information from the police commissioners, or other authorities, leading him to think there was an increase of vagrancy. On the contrary, he found, from a report which he had called upon the police commissioners to furnish when the hon. Member gave notice of his question, that vagrancy had diminished, judging from the number of vagrants apprehended by the police in the months of November, December, and January, in each of the years 1848–9, 1849–50, 1850–51. In the first period the number of vagrants apprehended amounted to 2,372; in the second year to 1,309; and in the third, which was for November and December, 1850, and January, 1851, the number was only 1,022. From an account of the vagrants apprehended for the last ten years it would appear the amount of vagrancy in 1850 was less than in any of the preceding years. The best thing he could do would be to lay these returns on the table of the House. As to the increase of vagrancy in any particular district, if the hon. Member would communicate any observation of the kind he might make to him, the commissioners of police would be directed to turn their attention towards it.