§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. C.P. VILLIERS
said, a misapprehension prevailed that the Bill introduced a new principle into the law of settlement. It introduced no new principle, but simply carried out more effectually the beneficial objects of a Bill passed in the last year in which Sir Robert Peel held office, and of a Bill subsequently passed. That Bill was recommended by Sir Robert Peel, partly for the benefit of the poor, but chiefly to compensate the agricultural interest for the losses they apprehended from the withdrawal of protection. At that day the burden of the poor was greatly aggravated from the circumstance that they used to leave the villages and go to the manufacturing towns when trade was prosperous, and in seasons of distress return to the agricultural districts. The Bill of Sir Robert Peel provided that no poor person who had resided for five years in any place should be chargeable on the place of his settlement, and by the 11 & 12 Vict., it was provided that the charge of that new class of paupers should be cast upon the common fund of the union, and not be a charge upon the parish. The principle of the Bill was subsequently extended by a Bill introduced by Mr. Buller to other classes of paupers. The common fund was levied on each parish on an average of its payment of poor rates for three years. It soon, however, became evident that there must be an alteration of the principle by which that common fund was constituted. As the poor were to be maintained by the 29 establishment, and were to have the services of union officers, it was thought at first only fair that the parishes should pay in proportion to their demand for that service. So long as that was the only charge cast upon the fund there was no complaint. But when other charges were cast upon it, it became necessary to constitute the fund differently, and to render liable the property of the union. It was, therefore, deemed necessary by the late Government to institute an inquiry to ascertain what grounds there were for the complaints which had never ceased to be made by the parishes for the charges cast upon them. Accordingly, in 1858, a Committee was appointed to inquire into this subject, and that Committee came to certain Resolutions, on which and on the evidence taken before it the present Bill was founded. The first of these Resolutions was that the period of residence should be reduced from five to three years; the second, that the area of residence should be extended to the unions; and the third, that some improvement should be made in the mode of raising the common fund. The reduction of the period of residence and the extension of the area seemed to be generally approved. It was exceedingly difficulty at present for the parochial authorities to discover whether a man had a five years' residence or not; but the fact would be much easier ascertained if a three years' residence was provided for, and the proposal for three years was made in deference to the wishes of the Committee. If the shorter time were agreed to it would be a means of circulating labour, while at present the law was little else than a trap to deceive the poor. If the House believed there was any good in the inquiries of Committees it would have no hesitation in passing this measure. The most important change proposed in the Bill was that in the 9th Clause, by which the common fund would be levied, not on the average of three years' relief given by a parish, but according to the valuation of the rateable property. In the Committee a proposal was made by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Estcourt), and agreed to, to combine the element of population with that of the rateable value of property, and his right hon. Friend had given notice that he would move in Committee an Amendment to that effect. That was a proposal to which he could not agree, and he hoped it would not be sanctioned by the House. It was unnecessary to tell the House that at 30 present the relief of the poor fell very unequally upon parishes. It often happened that wealthy parishes had the advantage of the labour of the poor, while some adjoining poor parish had to bear all the burden of their relief when they required it. This injustice was not one that arose between the conflicting interests of the trading and agricultural districts, or between town and country parishes. The injustice was often experienced in the case of two parishes situated in the same district. For instance, in the parish in which the Bank of England was situated there were almost no poor. In the parish in which St. Catherine's Dock was placed few poor were to be found; while adjoining parishes from which the labour came were swarmed with them. The same state of circumstances occurred in agricultural districts, so that one or two fortunate proprietors were frequently exempted from the support of the irremovable poor, while their neighbours were overburdened. He believed the new mode of contributing to the common fund proposed in the Bill, by the rateable value of each parish, would do much to remove the injustice that now existed. The new proposal had the recommendation of those in all parts of the country who were best able to judge of its probable effects. He thought the measure an exceedingly moderate one; and should it be rejected by the House, he begged them to remember that there was an organized movement for an equalization of poor rates all over the country, and that they would act wisely in not giving strength and energy to such a movement.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair."
§ MR. SOTHERON ESTCOURT
said, that no notice of any Amendment having been given, he apprehended that it was not intended to offer any opposition to the Bill. He, for one, was ready to give his best support to the Bill, because, with one exception, he thought its clauses would tend to simplify the administration of the Poor Law, would benefit the poor, and be a relief to the guardians. He believed that the Select Committee to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred was most impartially constituted; and its decisions certainly had nothing about them of a party character. They had viewed the question simply as one of local administration. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that it was fair to make the rateable value 31 the basis of the assessment for the common fund, but he thought at the same time that the element of population ought to be added with the rateable value, and then they would have a satisfactory result. The Amendment which he had carried in the Select Committee, which the right hon. Gentleman had omitted from his Bill, and which he should move to restore, was to combine population with rateable value in calculating the share of each parish's assessment. Take the case of two parishes, each rated at £10,000 a year, but in which there was a population in the one case of 10,000 and of 1,000 in the other. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to assess both alike; but he (Mr. Estcourt) would assess one at £10,000 and the other at £11,000—that is to say, he would add to the rateable value £1 per head of the population. On the face of it, the parish which had the larger population would be likely to make a greater demand upon the common fund than the other. He contended, therefore, that the Resolution which he had carried in the Select Committee, and which he should endeavour to introduce into the Bill was required by the principle of common fairness. With respect to the accusation which had frequently been made, that cottages were pulled down, or were not built, because the landowners and farmers wished to relieve the parish of the poor rate—in his belief that accusation was utterly false. The real reason why such cottages were not built being, that as speculations they were not remunerative. Cottages were usually built by speculators, and it was asked why could not landlords do the same? The answer to that was, that the landlord refused to screw out of the cottager the same amount of rent which persons not connected with the land had no hesitation in doing. He thought, therefore, that the accusation which had been brought against the landowners in this respect was a most unjust one. They did not build cottages, not because they wished to avoid the introduction of a class of persons liable to become chargeable to the union, but simply because the building of cottages was not remunerative to them. It was said that the Amendment would not lead to any practical result. But even admitting that, he contended that it would be good policy to adopt it, because if they did not do so, all charges would be put upon the common fund; and if that were done, it would lead to union, to county, 32 and even to national rating. No doubt there would be much theoretical benefit in adopting a national rate; but it would at the same time tend to much practical mischief, because it would entirely destroy the idea if responsibility, and the consequent wise and judicious management of the fund. It was exactly because we had small areas, and that every one in a neighbourhood knew the nature of every item he had to pay in the shape of relief, that such excellent results in the administration of the new Poor Law had been obtained. It was easy to say that the parochial system was a remnant of feudalism; but it lay at the root of the Poor Law, which, notwithstanding all the attacks that had been made upon it and all the obloquy that it had excited, had admirably fulfilled its object. With regard to lunatics, it had been proposed to place them on the common fund, because by so doing it was hoped that it would encourage sending them at once to the asylum, in which case they should stand a chance of being amongst the 75 per cent who were cured, if they were subjected early enough to proper medical treatment; whereas if the expense were left on the parishes they would be apt to keep them in the work-houses till their cases had become hopeless. When they went into Committee on the Bill he should have opportunities of explaining his views on all the points to which he might wish to address himself, and would not, therefore, now enter upon all the topics introduced into the Bill.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM
said, he rose to make an earnest appeal to the House not to enter into a general discussion of the subject with the Speaker in the Chair, but to proceed at once to the Committee, when each individual clause could be discussed. He himself being responsible for a great change in the Poor Law, he naturally took a deep interest in the subject, and especially in the measure before the House, which would affect the poor as well as property, though they did not seem so directly represented in it. He had served on the Select Committee, and was under the full impression that they would go into Committee on it to-day; and although it was natural enough that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board would make some explanation of the measure in moving that it be committed, he did not think the present time was a proper one to discuss its principles, and, therefore, he entreated the House to 33 proceed at once to the consideration of the Bill in Committee.
said, he had voted in Committee for the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Sotheron Estcourt) with respect to population, but he had done so under a misapprehension. He had been greatly influenced by the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman; but on further consideration he was satisfied that he had been in error.
§ MR. KNIGHT
said, he must protest against any attempt to choke discussion on a Bill, which went further than that of Mr. Baines, and which the country had not had an opportunity of considering. It had been read a second time at half-past one in the morning without a word of explanation as to its objects, and now they were asked to proceed with it without any discussion. The effect of the Bill would be to establish union rating in more than half the parishes of England in one year; and it would transfer many millions of property from the hands of one class to those of another. The real question was whether the poor were to be supported in small or large areas—in neighbourhoods, or in large masses? Large areas had often been tried and had always broken down. In the very first instance the Poor Law was established with petty sessional divisions. After a few years it was necessary to reduce the area to parishes; and even those were afterwards divided in some cases into townships. In Ireland and Scotland large areas had at first been tried and had signally failed. Those large areas had been reduced, and then the Poor Law had worked admirably. The House had actually passed a Bill that very Session for the purpose of dissolving combinations of parishes in Scotland. In Norwich, where forty-three parishes had been united for rating purposed in the reign of Queen Anne, the Poor Law had failed; and the City was more heavily taxed than any other part of the country. In the City of London, where the parishes were ridiculously small (some of them being only half an acre in extent) the Poor Law had not broken down. There were in fact in the City ninety-eight parochial staffs to look after the poor instead of one; and the work was, therefore, well done. Even the existing law of irremovability had worked ill. More out-relief was allowed to the union poor, and they were much worse attended to than the parish. There had been very few complaints of the Poor Law except from places like Norwich. 34 In London the only complaints were from St. George's-in-the-East and Fulham, where the work-people, the dock-labourers, and the market gardeners, were paid, not by the day, or by the week, but by the hour; and the meaning of the outcry was that the public should pay their wages for them. Other parishes, even while they complained of the inequality of the rating, admitted that they had never paid so little. A union rating would not remedy their complaints, because there would be some which would only pay 6d., whereas others would pay 3s, 6d, or 4s. The case of overburdened parishes had altogether broken down. The worst case at starting was Spalding, but it turned out that the labourers from Deeping Fen carried into the town £10,000 a year in wages. Spalding had, moreover, all the retail trade of the district. The rateable value of the town had risen from £17,000 in 1815 to £66,000 in 1843, and the poor rate had been gradually becoming less, so that with all its grievances Spalding was growing fat. All the other cases had broken down in a similar manner. It would be far better, both for the poor and for the ratepayers, to extend the rating all over the kingdom at once, and have a national rate; for a national rate would be far less injurious to individuals than a union rate would be, and which, as he had pointed out, would effect an immense change in property, whereas from its greater diffusion a national rate would not. It was idle to attempt to smuggle the Bill through as a small measure, and he sincerely hoped that the House would not interfere with the five years' settlement.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, that he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say this Bill involved no great principle, and that any discussion upon it might take place on going into Committee. Now, it appeared that it involved great and dangerous principles, and was very much objected to by his constituents of the borough of Southwark, whom it would materially affect. The 1st Clause said the chargeability should be on the union; but in the borough of Southwark all the large parishes were unions of themselves. Where the Bill read "union," the people of Southwark read "metropolis." They complained that the poor lived, to a great extent, in their parishes, while those in other parts of the Metropolis, who enjoyed the benefit of their labour, paid nothing for their support. Legislation had driven the 35 labouring classes into poor parishes, and to that extent benefited the rich. The Earl of Derby had over and over again called the attention of the House of Lords to the removal of numbers of poor by the making of railways; but by the metropolitan improvements many thousands of poor persons had been driven over the water, where there was space for the erection of a class of houses suitable for the poor. No less than 2,000 poor persons were removed when Victoria Street was opened up, and when the Dean and Chapter were remonstrated with, and asked, "What is to become of the poor?" the reply was, "That is their look out; they must go over the water to Lambeth;" and so, nolens volens, they were obliged to move. The same removal of poor was occasioned by other metropolitan improvements, commencing with Oxford and Regent Streets, while the same thing was about to be done in the removal of a large number of poor people's houses in the neighbourhood of the Strand, in order to provide for new law courts. It was not, therefore, necessary to travel down to Spalding and other distant places to point out the evil. All that the people of Southwark asked was that as legislation had created these evils, so legislation should provide a remedy. The Bill declared that a person should be irremovable after a residence of three years. This made matters worse, and his constituents, therefore, recommended that the area of rating should be extended to the whole Metropolis.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
observed, that the Bill was one of great importance in three different respects, and required the careful consideration of the House. In the first place, it introduced union rating. Now union rating might be a good or a bad thing, but it was undoubtedly a change in the law of the country, and ought not to be introduced without a full and free discussion of the principle it involved. In the second place, the Bill involved the interests of the removable poor throughout the country, which was a matter of no slight importance. In the third place, it touched the interests of a much smaller class numerically, but still a class which, like every other class, was entitled to justice — he meant the proprietors of extra-parochial places; and it touched their interests in the face of a distinct pledge given by the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) in 1857, that their interests should not be 36 further interfered with than by the last Poor Law Bill. Those were all important questions, and it should be also remembered that the Bill passed the second reading at two o'clock in the morning, without any discussion, and in consequence of an appeal made by the Government, which was consented to by his right hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, on the clear understanding that before the Bill went into Committee its principle should be fully discussed. And now, when they had scarcely entered into the discussion the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, one of the most experienced Members in the House, proposed that all discussion should be stopped. He could not allow such a course to be adopted without saying that it was a most unusual one, would form a most objectionable precedent, and would make the House extremely cautious how they acceded to the wishes of the Government on an understanding which might not be afterwards adhered to. With regard to the merits of the Bill he had always taken rather a different view of the first question to that of a great many of his hon. Friends on that side of the House; for he had been disposed to favour the adoption of union rating, thinking it might be an improvement on their present Poor Law system, and, therefore, so far as that principle was involved, he was not inclined to take exception to it in the Bill. He was also of opinion that the five years' Act had proved a great and valuable boon to the labouring classes in this country; that it had worked extremely well, and accomplished the end for which it was intended. He raised no objection to the reduction of that five years to three, believing that it would be advantageous to a still larger class of people. With reference to the extra-parochial part of the question, all he asked was that the understanding which had been come to should be adhered to, and that burdens should not be thrown upon the proprietors which they could not be called upon in reason or justice to bear. On that point, when the Bill went into Committee he should move an Amendment.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, he did not see that the right hon. Baronet was justified in the observation that he had made in regard to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle. The object of the right hon. Gentleman was not to stifle discussion, but that the discussion should be attended with some benefit, and not prove 37 a mere waste of time. He wished the full discussion should take place on the clauses, so that when they suspended their sitting they would at least have made some progress. He could not agree that there was such a change of principle as had been indicated, and at all events, as all the observations which had been made had reference to particular clauses of the Bill, they might as easily have been made in the Committee.
§ MR. WALTER
said, he acquiesced in the principle of the Bill. He had always thought that union rating was a necessary consequence of the principle of union management, which was put forward as one of the principle advantages of the new Poor Law. He was no admirer of the new Poor Law, but the principle of union management which it introduced was a new principle, by which the old parochial system was broken up and demolished. It had always appeared to him that the area of rating should coincide with the area of management. Some hon. Gentlemen seemed to think that there was no ground to be taken up between national rating and parochial rating. He did not see the question in that light. If the area was not too large for purposes of management, why should it be considered too large for the purposes if rating? If the labour of the country was so equally distributed through all the parishes that every man lived in the parish in which he worked, there would be no difficulty in the case. But that was not so. The theory of the Poor Law was that a man was, or ought to be, relieved in a particular locality, not merely because he resided in that locality, but because he worked there. Now, the tendency of parochial rating in small parishes had been to discourage the building of small cottages, and to enable landlords to avail themselves of the labour of persons living in other parishes. That was a system opposed to justice and sound policy. He thought there was a great deal of force in what the hon. and learned Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) had said when he urged that the Bill did not go far enough, and that the rating of the metropolitan parishes should be extended to some larger area—he would not say an area including the whole Metropolis, but certainly one going beyond the range of single parishes. With regard to the details of the Bill, he would make no remarks upon them till they went into Committee.
§ SIR JOHN SHELLEY
said, that he did not think that the country or the House would object to the time that had been spent in discussing the principle of the Bill. Having had a considerable experience in the working of the Poor Law he thought that the principle of union rating would have a fatal effect upon rural districts. He did not understand the argument of the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) with regard to the Metropolis: for if the rating area of the Metropolis was to be extended at all, the whole Metropolis must be introduced, and he need hardly say what a state of things that would originate. The great inducement of guardians in rural districts to attend was to prevent the ratepayers from being imposed upon; but if the area was enlarged to the whole union that feeling would be greatly weakened. As to the Metropolis, if there was only one board of guardians, the work would soon become so onerous and so little honourable that it would practically fall into the hands of very few persons, and those the hands of very few persons, and those probably not the best qualified for the task. If any one would move that the Bill be committed that day three months, he should give the Motion his most earnest support.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, the main principle of the Bill was to extend the beneficial influence of the law of irremovability, and the principal objection urged to it related to the question of rating. He thought that a point which could be very well considered in Committee. The Bill left Southwark in exactly the same position in which it now stood.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he was very strongly in favour of the Bill, which he believed would most favourably affect, not only the pauperised, but the non-pauperised portion of the labouring poor. It was a great hardship that there should be such a temptation, not to the landlords—who he believed would always resist it—but to the farmers of a district, to resist the building of proper houses for their labourers. No more fruitful source of demoralization existed than this system of open and close parishes. It seemed to him that the chargeable area should be made co-extensive with the employing area. There were reasons also which operated very strongly in large towns which made this Bill most desirable, and his constituents in Bradford had urged him to support it.
§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
contended that the Bill would a prejudicial effect on the labouring poor. There could be nothing more desirable than the improvement of the cultivation of the soil, and the Bill would militate against such improvement, because if two parishes were contiguous, and one was well cultivated and the other not, the one that was cultivated would have to bear the burden of the badly cultivated one. They were all greed as to the removal of the poor, but he hoped the House would not agree to the proposal for union rating. Indeed, he regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had not divided his Bill into two parts.
§ MR. CAYLEY
said, there were principles in the Bill that involved neither more nor less than confiscation, and the destruction of the principle of local self-government. The country was not prepared for a union rating, or for an equalization of rates. They were in point of fact by this Bill striking a blow at the root of the parochial system. The only grievance they had a right to complain of was the system of close parishes; but surely the right hon. Gentleman was ingenious enough to find a remedy for that evil without altering the whole incidence of the Poor Law. Therefore, considering that the Bill was one of an extremely dangerous character, he would give the hon. Member for Westminster an opportunity of opposing the present further progress of the Bill. He moved that the Bill be committed that day three months.
§ MR. WARNER
seconded the Amendment.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—instead thereof.
said, he was surprised that the proposition of the right hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir James Graham), to go at once into Committee, should have been supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, because when the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Poor Law Board, brought the Bill before them, he went minutely through every clause; but not content with that he did his best to pull the proceedings of the Committee all to pieces; and then, when it was proposed to discuss the measure, up jumped the right 40 hon. Baronet, the Member for Morpeth, and said, "Oh, let us get on; you can discuss it very well in Committee." The right hon. Gentleman told them that there was not a single reason which was advanced in favour of the five years' irremovability which did not apply with tenfold force to the proposed three years' irremovability; but if so it would apply with fifty times more force to a proposition for irremovability, with no limitation as to the period of residence, and as sure as a stone set rolling on the side of a hill would roll to the bottom, the union ratings would extend to county ratings and national ratings. With irremovability they must necessarily have a national rate; but, as it had been well said, with a wide area it would be impossible to check pauperism. In a small area the employers did not discharge their workpeople in the winter months. Taking the Saturday night and the rate together, there was not that difference between the two classes of parishes which people supposed; and it was a singular fact that in what were called town parishes, where the rates were high, the rent of land was also high—a sufficient proof that there was more equality than was imagined. He really did think, then, that the House should take a little more time before they proceeded with the Bill, and should afford the country a better opportunity of considering the question. The Bill, indeed, had been so curiously managed that the country knew nothing at all about its nature and what its effect would be, and, therefore, he had had but little communication from his constituents on the subject. It would not be just and right to do away with irremovability to the extent proposed, without some shifting of the burden, and at present they had had no Returns to show how far the incidence of rating would be changed, and what had been called confiscation would take place. From a communication which he had had with the clerk of one of the boards of guardians of a parish contiguous to Oxford, it appeared that it would increase the proportion of the common charge of that parish from one-eighth to a third. Therefore, he did not think it either just or right to run such a risk as they would of ruining parishes, if they passed the measure in the absence of all information. It was an unsatisfactory thing that they were asked to pass a Bill on the mere faith of the Report of a Committee, when a Member of the Government immediately afterwards got 41 up and pulled the Committee to pieces. As to a union rate it would make people wholly careless of what became of the poor. The area would be so large that it would induce a general carelessness, and labourers would be paid off even to half a day, and packed about their business with a total indifference as to what became of them. He was opposed to a national rating, and should be extremely sorry to see the parochial system broken up. For these reasons he should vote for the delay of the measure.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS:
This Bill is only a Bill to facilitate the development of principles recognized in our existing laws, but as it has been said that the country and the House are ignorant of the grounds on which it rests I shall take the liberty of making a few observations regarding it. The first Act of Parliament referring to this matter originated with Sir Robert Peel, who stated, in bringing forward the repeal of the Corn Laws, that there were certain securities he wished to afford to the agricultural interest, and that one of these was the principle of irremovability. An Act was passed in 1846, by which a person residing for five years in a parish should be irremovable, but that Act did not in any way interfere with the law of chargeability as regarded the irremovable poor. In 1847 a Bill was introduced, which first established the principle that the relief of the poor made irremovable by the Act of the previous Session should be charged to the common fund of the union, and not to the parish. That Bill was afterwards extended by Mr. Buller to other classes of poor, including lunatics and the casual poor, and I may here state that the common fund was to be made up by assessments based on the average of relief given in each parish for the previous three years. Now, what are the changes proposed in the present Bill? The first change is to diminish the term of five years, which constitutes irremovability, to three years. That is a question of degree, not of principle. It is embodied in the Scotch law, where it is known as the principle of industrial residence. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) says that if you once make this change you will be led further, and will ultimately come to the abolition of all settlement. [Mr. HENLEY: I said, irremovability.] I consider the terms to be the same. The very essence of settlement is the power of removing a man from a 42 place where he is now chargeable. I am so much a heretic as to wish to see the law of settlement entirely gone. I believe its abolition to be perfectly practicable and safe. There is no connection between the law of settlement and union rating; and the abolition of settlement is perfectly compatible with chargeability. According to the law of Ireland a poor person is chargeable to the electoral division in which he resides, and there is no law of settlement in Ireland. In this case Irish legislation has been founded on our English experience. The second change proposed by the Bill is that when a person has resided three years in a parish that residence will confer the benefit of a residence in the union. It will prevent him from being removed in many cases in which he is now liable to be removed. I am not alone in being an enemy to the law of settlement. Mr. Pitt, in 1796, declared himself to be opposed to what he called the "striking grievance" of the law of settlement, and if he had been allowed to legislate according to his own views, he would have abolished the law of settlement altogether, having founded his views, no doubt, on a well-known passage in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The first two changes in this Bill, then, cannot be considered very dangerous. The third change is contained in the 9th Clause, and it alters the principle on which the union charge is calculated. The charge for the maintenance of persons on the common fund is diffused over the different parishes of the union. What the clause proposes is to calculate the common charge, not according to the average of three years' relief, but according to the valuation or absolute property of each parish. It is merely a change in the mode of calculating the constituent elements of the common fund, and it is, I admit, a fair question for the consideration of the Committee. Wherever there is a common fund raised there the advantage of an area having a unity of management will be experienced; and it seems to me a fair principle that you should make the charge equally on all the property of the union. I cannot subscribe to the doctrine that if we admit the principle of calculating the common fund in the way I have described it leads, by any logical or probable consequence, to the introduction of national rating, or rating on any large area. No person can be more strongly opposed to national rating, or even county rating, 43 than I am, but I believe that a union rating is within a manageable area. I believe with the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) that there is an essential distinction between that and a larger area, and I cannot believe that the House of Commons will be deterred by any fear of national rating from changing the assessment now based on pauperism to one based on the absolute value of property. There are halting places between a parochial and a national rate which we may prudently occupy, and I hope that will be the opinion of the House.
§ MR. BARROW
said, that the Bill proceeded altogether on the principle of union rating, and he objected to deparochializing the parishes as much as he did to national or county rating. It was quite fair that in the first instance a common fund had been raised on the averages of the individual parishes, because at that time they required money to build the workhouse, but what he objected to was that when the irremovable poor became union paupers the charge was still placed upon the parishes, instead of on the whole of the union. That was unfair in the highest degree, inasmuch as many of the parishes of different unions returned no average charges, and, therefore, escaped liability altogether. He thought they ought to go into Committee to remedy that evil.
§ SIR BROOK BRIDGES
said, he believed that there would have been stronger representations on both sides of the House with regard to the Bill if it had been made more thoroughly known to the country. He considered that the present parochial system gave enormous advantages to the poor man, and that those advantages would disappear entirely with the enlargement of the area. The farmer would no longer continue his exertions to employ labourers all the year round, and he believed that this was the thin end of the wedge to introduce union ratings and extended area, which he looked upon as an unmixed evil, and, therefore, he should vote for the Amendment.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 187; Noes 44: Majority 143.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again on Monday next.