HC Deb 11 May 1865 vol 179 cc116-73

Order for Committee read.

MR. BENTINCK moved— That it be an Instruction to the Committee, with a view to rendering the working of the system of Union Chargeability more just and equal, that they have power to facilitate in certain cases the alteration of the limits of existing Unions.


said, there was no occasion for any such Instruction. As the law stood at present the Poor Law Board had ample power to do what the hon. Gentleman pointed at, and there was no necessity to move the Instruction of which the hon. Gentleman had given notice.


The right hon. Gentleman considers the Instruction unnecessary, because the Poor Law Board have now the power of altering the boundary of unions; but the question is, not whether the Poor Law Board has the power, but whether the Committee on this Bill would have power, without the Instruction, to do so; and in my opinion the Committee would not have that power, because the subject matter would not be relevant to the subject matter of the Bill. Therefore the hon. Gentleman (the Member for Norfolk) is in order, and rightly has precedence with his Motion, because an Instruction is not of the nature of an Amendment, but a substantive Motion. If it had been moved on the Motion that I do now leave the Chair then an Instruction would become an Amendment. The Motion would be that all the words after the word "that" be left out for the purpose of inserting the words of instruction. If the Amendment were carried, the Motion that I do now leave the Chair would be put an end to, and the Committee could not proceed with the Bill. But the hon. Gentleman wishes that the Committee should proceed with the Bill, and that its powers should be enlarged; therefore, it is right that an Instruction should have precedence of any Amendment of which notice has been given.


, in moving the Instruction, said, he had two reasons for taking exception to the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. In the first place the Bill, as it at present stood, would prove extremely injurious in many cases to the less able and less skilled labourer. Nothing could be more injurious to the working of the Poor Laws than a Bill which should have the effect of disinclining the occupiers of land to employ, under many circumstances, those whom he would not employ, if it were not that he would otherwise have to contribute to their support in idleness. He was borne out in this view by the evidence taken before the Committee in 1847. In a memorial of the Board of Guardians of the Sleaford Union, attention was called to the proposal to substitute union for parochial settlements, and the memorialists stated their conviction I hat the parochialties and responsibilities now existing were the means of giving frequent employment to the aged and less skilled labourer, who would otherwise be thrown upon the rates. The same point was supported by the answers given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) by competent witnesses in reference to the Nottingham Union. There was no doubt that in many parishes the rates were very much diminished, and the condition of the poor very much improved by private charity and liberality. Numbers of wealthy persons in many parishes contributed so largely to the maintenance of the poor that the rates in those parishes were very much diminished, and, the condition of the poor materially improved, and he feared that the effect of this measure would he to induce the discontinuance of that description of charity. Men could not be made charitable by Act of Parliament, and any Bill the effect of which would be to limit individual generosity would be of a most mischievous character. But his principal objection to the Bill was that it was a Bill framed upon the principle of benefiting the towns to the prejudice of the rural districts. The more he learnt of the Bill, the more was he convinced that the result would be to relieve the towns of a large proportion of the rates they now paid at the expense of the rural districts surrrounding them. He admitted the existence of inequalities in the present system, but it was not right to remedy one injustice by creating half-a-dozen others. At present in the Isle of Wight the rates varied from 4d. in the pound to 4s. 2d. in the pound, but he was told that the effect of the proposed Bill would be greatly to increase the existing injustice and to entail upon the rural districts an enormous increase of the rates which they would be called upon to pay, in order to benefit such places as Ryde and Newport. He believed that this was only one of hundreds of cases of a similar character, and that the general effect would be to benefit one-third of the community at the expense of the other two-thirds. He was informed likewise that in many cases the really close parishes would be the gainers by the Bill, and he believed that was not the object of the right hon. Gentleman. With the exception of coal, minerals contributed nothing to the poor rates, and without entering into the question of the justice of this arrangement, he should like to know what a Member of Parliament would say if asked to join a club, half the members of which paid a heavy subscription and the others paid nothing, and to enter his name in the former class. There was but one way of dealing with the case, and in order to obtain a fair and equitable adjustment, towns above a certain population must be constituted into separate unions. Without that it would be impossible to avoid the perpetration of the greatest possible injustice. In the case, for instance, of the Wisbeach Union, two-thirds of the ratepayers would be benefited at the expense of one-third, and the town of Wisbeach would be relieved to the extent of £1,400, which amount would have to be borne by the rural districts immediately surrounding it. There was a case which had come under his knowledge of an occupier in a small purely agricultural parish, who, having taken a twenty-one years' lease of the property, upon the understanding that his rates would continue as they were at present, would have his rates raised under this Bill from £8 a year to £140; and this man had no interest in the town which he was in immediate proximity to. It might be said that this was an exceptional case, but he believed that there were thousands of other cases in which a similar injustice would be done. The Docking Union, which had been referred to, included no large town, it was an agricultural district entirely, and could not be cited, therefore, in proof of the successful working of the system, when they were endeavouring to bring large towns and country districts together in one union. The Bill would produce an enormous change in the burdens to be levied in the rural parishes of the country, and such a measure was far too crude to be hastily passed. He concluded by moving the Instruction to the Committee of which he had given notice.


seconded the Motion. He said he believed this was a piece of legislation which would rob one part of the community and put the money into the pockets of the other. There were two extremely trying cases in Norfolk, stated in the petitions presented to the House. It appeared that North Lynn and West Lynn would be sacrificed for the benefit of the commercial town of King's Lynn. Nearly the whole of one of those parishes had been taken by a gentleman. His lease was a very long one, and he took it upon the understanding that there would be no alteration with regard to the rates of the parish during the lease. But this Bill would oblige him for the remainder of his lease to pay a very enormous sum for the benefit of the merchants and traders of King's Lynn. A still stronger case was that of Macclesfield Union, which consisted of 41 parishes, 37 of which were agricultural. The silk trade of Macclesfield was subject to great depressions, and these 37 parishes, which had nothing to do with the employment of the great mass of the labouring population, would be called upon to support the distressed silk operatives of the four manufacturing parishes, in times of distress. He trusted the House would not permit a Bill of this kind to pass without further inquiry and consideration.


said, he entirely agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that it was not right to empower one party to put his hand into the pocket of another, but he contended that that was precisely what the owners of property in agricultural parishes did under the present system. He thought that it would be better to place the agricultural labourer on the same footing as other industrial artisans and labourers, and that no special inducement should be offered to employers of labour to hire men who were least capable of doing their work. He would, with a view of meeting the question raised by the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), suggest that in any alteration the Poor Law Board should make in the limits of existing unions, they should be under the obligation of laying those alterations upon the table of the House, in the same way as was done by the Copyhold Commission and the Local Government Act, so that if parties were aggrieved by those alterations they could appeal for redress to Parliament. He thought that it would be a great pity to delay the passing of this Bill because some cases of injustice might arise from its too rigorous application. Although there might be cases of injustice in extending the limits of the existing unions, still, upon the whole, he thought the Bill would do justice to the ratepayers, and would confer a benefit upon the poor.


said, that many unions contained an area of 150,000 acres, while others contained only 3,000, the number of the inhabitants of the largest being 92,000 and of the smallest 3,900. The rate in some of the parishes was as low as 6d., while in others it rose to over 5s. in the pound. Such statistics as those ought not to be lost sight of in passing the measure under consideration, as it would be exceedingly hard upon a parish paying-only 6d. in the pound to be joined to a union paying 5s. The opinions as to the proper limit of unions differed widely. Mr. Chadwick, a great authority upon the subject, had advocated before various Committees a great extension of unions in order to form what he called "Quarter County Unions," while the Poor Law Commissioners of 1858 thought several of the large unions ought to be divided. The present unions were made under extraordinary circumstances, and many of them were formed out of a kind of spite of the Poor Law Board. By spite he meant this—One union would oppose the Poor Law Board, and would not have a workhouse, and the Board would then take parish after parish from that union and add them to another. In some cases a union would extend over thirty-five miles of country. If the Bill were passed without some distinct settlement of these questions they would be taking a plunge in the dark, and no ratepayer would be sure whether that time next year he would be paying 6d. or 5s. in the pound. Were the smaller unions to be thrown into the larger ones, were town unions to be joined to country unions, or town parishes to country parishes? He hoped that some satisfactory settlement would be come to on these matters before the Bill was permitted to pass.


said, he quite admitted that legally speaking under the existing authority the Poor Law Board had the power to enlarge, diminish, or alter a union, hut this was a power which was most difficult to carry into effect. He could state from his own experience an instance where two or three parishes had been added to a union against their will and to their great disadvantage, and they had no means of disuniting themselves, because the majority bound the minority. He therefore thought it highly necessary that at the outset of this debate the House should move the proposed Instruction to the Committee that the area of unions should be carefully considered. In a paragraph of his letter which followed that which had already been cited Sir E. Head stated that, in his opinion, the safer and practical course for giving effect to a plan of this description would be that the several parishes should for the next seven years contribute to the union fund in proportion to their respective expenditure for the last seven; that at the end of that period the guardians should be required to make a union rate upon a fair and equal valuation, and that for another period of seven years the contributions of the parishes should be regulated according to a ratio compounded equally of the past average and the union rate. It was clear, therefore, that Sir E. Head thought that this question required more consideration than appeared to have been given to it by those who had prepared this measure. It was impossible not to approve of many of the objects for which the Bill had been framed. The diminution of the practice of removal and the practical abolition of the law of settlement would be extremely beneficial. But he should add that cases of removal, as far as he had observed, had of late almost wholly disappeared. When he first became Chairman of the Quarter Sessions in his county, some seventeen years since, those cases formed frequent subjects of complaint and inquiry; but they were now scarcely ever heard of. It was a mistake to think that the large proprietors alone were interested in the question under the consideration of the House. A man who had property extending over several parishes would probably find that he would gain in one of them as much as he would lose in another; but under the operation of that Bill the owner of a small property might find that his charge for the poor rate was raised by as much as 1s. 6d. or 2s. in the pound, and that at a time when people were congratulating themselves on the diminution of the income tax by 2d. in the pound. With these convictions he should feel it his duty to support the proposal of the hon. Member for West Norfolk.


said, that the present law operated most unequally and unfairly. The Union of Macclesfield comprised forty-one parishes; and three of these, which were town parishes, paid a poor rate of 4s. 6d. in the pound, while the adjoining thirty-eight rural parishes, which enjoyed all the benefit of their contiguity to a large town, never paid as much as 1s. 6d. in the pound. This was a great injustice to the ratepayers of the manufacturing towns. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for having introduced this Bill, and only regretted that he had not gone further, and proposed the entire abolition of the law of settlement. However, he was sure thas if this Bill passed that law could not long remain upon the statute book.


said, that he was as much opposed to the principle of this Bill as he was to that of the Act of 1861, and he had presented many petitions against it. In one of them, which came from the Tynemouth Union, consisting of twenty-four parishes or townships, it was stated that, while the rates of agricultural parishes, some of them situated at a distance of thirteen miles from the towns of North Shields or Tynemouth, would be seriously increased under this Bill, the rates of those two places would be greatly diminished. There was, for instance, one rural parish which would have to pay £1,130, instead of £759, which was the average amount of its present charge. The Town of North Shields, on the other hand, which was situated at a distance of thirteen miles from that rural parish, would have its poor rate reduced from £3,628 to £2,680. In the Union of Berwick-upon-Tweed the operation of the measure would be precisely similar, and the figures which he had received from that union did not bear out what had been said by the hon. Member for Oxford as to the rural districts benefiting at the expense of the towns. He had risen simply for the purpose of pointing out what he conceived to be the injustice which would result from this measure, unless it were accompanied at the same time by a re-distribution of unions or some other arrangement which would give a fair and equitable chance to the rural parishes.


said, there was an amount of prejudice against the measure of the Government which was not justified by the circumstances. There was no reason for the outcry which had been raised against it. On the other hand, it would appear from the arguments of some hon. Gentlemen that the towns were very heavily taxed while the rural districts were very lightly taxed for the relief of the poor, but such was not the case. Taking the large towns generally it would be found to be otherwise. The whole county of Lancaster was rated at 1s.d., while Liverpool was rated at 1s.d., and Manchester, 1s. 10½d. The county of Warwick averaged 1s.d., including Birmingham, while Birmingham itself was 1s.d. It might be presumed that the agricultural counties were lightly taxed, but he would read the statistics of six agricultural counties. In Bedfordshire, for instance, the highest rated parish was 4s.d., while the lowest was three farthings. In Berks, the highest was 3s.d., and the lowest 1d. In Bucks, the highest was 5s.d., and the lowest a farthing; in Rutlandshire, the highest was 2s.d., and the lowest a farthing, but in Wilts, which contained no very large town, the highest agricultural parish was 9s. 10¾d., and the lowest a halfpenny in the pound. One would suppose that the Legislature was interested in keeping up these great inequalities in local taxation. He was at a loss to conceive why property in one parish should he rated so high, and in another property should be literally excluded from rating altogether. He thought it was the duty of the House to assist the Government in passing this very humane and proper measure, for he could bear testimony to the fact that in proportion as the poor rate was burdensome in parishes, so, in the same proportion, the poor were straitened and neglected. This was peculiarly the case in the metropolis, for they heard heartrending accounts of destitution and even death in the eastern districts, where the poor rates oppressed the poor and middle class, while such extreme cases of distress were unknown in the western parishes. He had no doubt the Motion of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) was deserving of consideration, and that there were unions that required revision. He lamented that the Government measure did not go further. He should rejoice in the abolition of the law of settlement altogether, and he should also rejoice if the Government, by adopting county instead of union rating, would avoid the present collision existing between town and rural parishes, as there could be no doubt that urban and agricultural rating would soon equalize themselves. No class would benefit so much as the poor themselves from the equalization of rating.


said, that one preliminary to this Bill, at all events, should be the re-adjustment of the boundaries of some of the existing unions. The opponents of the Bill had been charged with bringing into collision the interests of town and country parishes, but that collision, which had been so justly deprecated, was not attributable to the opponents of the measure, but to the immature condition of the Bill itself. It was one of the great faults of the measure that it brought these interests into collision from not having first made this preliminary adjustment. The Bill had been brought forward too hastily and inconsiderately. It had been stated, as sufficient excuse for letting town rates spread over country parishes in union with them, that the towns were more heavily rated than the rural parishes, but if the creation of greater wealth in the towns was attended at the same time by more poverty, it was fair that the greater wealth should support the attendant poverty created by itself. The hon. Member for Macclesfield had stated that he should support the Bill because he was an advocate for the abolition of the law of settlement, he wished to see poverty relieved wherever it occurred; but the object which the hon. Gentleman desired to see effected was precisely the one which the Bill signally failed to make any provision for. The Bill did not provide for the support of the poverty by the parishes where that poverty was found to exist. It left unions of incongruous areas, so as to inflict the charge of town poverty on a wholly dif- ferent population. He would again refer to an instance which he had mentioned to the House on a previous night. One-half of the town of Birmingham was united with three or four perfectly rural parishes in the same union. The consequence of passing this Bill would be to those unions perfectly ruinous. Some hon. Members referred to the advantage which such rural parishes derived from their proximity to the town, but was not that advantage mutual? The market of the town was no more necessary to the village than the custom of the village to the town. It was no argument that additional burden be imposed upon the country parishes, for the advantage was reciprocal. He knew of towns which were coupled with country 'districts in the same union where the injustice was two-fold, because of iron mines which were exempted from poor rates. Stock-in-trade also added another large head of exemption to towns. It was also customary for those who worked in towns to reside in the country—a very excellent arrangement, but one which, under this Bill without adjustment would, in many cases, shift from the town where a man had worked all his life the burden of supporting him in his old age or decrepitude to the country district where he lived. He therefore was prepared to support the Motion of the lion. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) not wishing to oppose the Bill, but because he thought there was no necessity for acting precipitately, and incurring the risk of inflicting injustice. The Government were too eager to have the credit of the Bill, and leave the less palatable precautions to their successors.


said, he had risen before to make a suggestion, that inasmuch as the purpose of several of the Amendments on the paper appeared to be the same—namely, to obstruct the passage of the Bill—they should at least take the Amendments in their order, and consider the purpose which they professed to be intended to serve. The Amendment now before the House had a distinct object—"to facilitate in certain cases the alteration of the limits of existing unions." That was the professed object of the Amendment, but hardly a word had been said upon that subject. The discussion bad been entirely on the merits of this measure. He meant that there had not been shadowed out in any way any provision or measure by which it was proposed to facilitate the alteration of the limits of existing unions. When he interposed between the hon. Member for Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) and the Motion for going into Committee he had intended to have pointed out to the House that there were ample powers under the existing law to effect the object described in the Amendment. He had, however, bowed to the decision of the Speaker, and, therefore, the hon. Member for Norfolk had been able to propose his Instruction, without, however, stating in what way he proposed to enable the Poor Law Board, or any other authority, to alter the existing limits of unions, so as to render the charges upon the parishes more just and equal. He contended that under the 7 & 8 Vict, there was ample power for revising the boundaries of unions, and if not it would be easy to confer a power for that purpose in Committee. Some vague statements had been made about inequalities which would be created in particular unions if this measure passed—that some townships or parishes would have to pay more than they did now, and the object of the Instruction was to prevent that result by enabling those particular parishes to retire from the union. If that were the object of the Instruction he would like to know where the changes would end. Whenever a parish had to pay a little more than it had previously done it was to be substracted from the union. The end of it would be to re-establish the parochial system, and to break up all the unions. There might be great variation in the amount of rates paid by different parishes, but almost every parish was differently circumstanced from every other, and, therefore, one was rated more highly than another. It was stated that towns would benefit by this measure, and that rural districts would suffer, so that if this Instruction were to have effect the rural parishes would separate from the towns. But when that was done the rural parishes would begin to consider whether some of them did not pay more others, and they would have complaints to make against each other. Thus the country parishes would get rid of the towns, which gave value to their property, employed their inhabitants, and to which they drove their poor. The 7 & 8 Vict, gave ample power for altering the limits of unions, and that power had been exercised in many cases. What, then, could be the purpose of this Instruction? Did it arise from any distrust of the exercise of that power in future by the Poor Law Board? ["Hear, hear!"] The right hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) cried "Hear," implying that he did distrust the Poor Law Board, and with reason, for that Board did distrust his facts. He was glad that the right hon. Member had spoken before him, as he repeated a statement which evidently made an impression upon the House, as showing conclusively what the operation of this Bill would be. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of a district comprising one-half of Birmingham—the district of Aston—not one-half of Birmingham, but a large district. In that district the right hon. Gentleman said there were three or four rural parishes, all of which would, if this measure passed, be mulcted in enormous rates for the support of the poor of the town districts of Birmingham. He could understand an hon. Member making a mistake once, but he could not understand its repetition, inasmuch as after the previous statement of the right hon. Gentleman, he (Mr. C. P. Villiers) received several communications, calling upon him to correct the error into which the right hon. Gentleman had fallen, and no doubt similar communications were addressed to the right hon. Gentleman himself. The fact was, that there were three agricultural parishes connected with Aston Union, and each of those parishes would derive benefit from this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman's statement produced considerable effect, and if its accuracy had been admitted by silence, his expressed distrust of the Poor Law Board would have been held to be justified.


I spoke the language of the petition of the guardians of those parishes.


said, that if he was in error, he would be very ready to admit it; but he had received communications which had induced him to make the statement he had just made. He had received one communication from Mr. Wyvill, the Poor Law Inspector of the district, an old and experienced servant of the Board. He could not consent to the Instruction proposed by the hon. Gentleman, because he did not know what powers were intended to be conferred, nor did he think that it was at all necessary to subtract from unions every parish which might have to pay something more than it had paid before. As he questioned the accuracy of one statement that had been made, he would also refer to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Haverfordwest (Mr. Scourfield), in allusion to an article upon the subject by Sir Edmund Head. The hon. Member said he respected the authority of the writer, and he called the attention of the House particularly to the mode in which this Instruction was to be carried out by the scheme proposed in that article of spreading over a period of seven years the establishment of a system of equal assessment, as set forth in the pamphlet of 1848. When that pamphlet was written the mode of levying the contributions of the different parishes was upon the average of property over three years, and the writer of the pamphlet before the House wished that all parishes should he rated according to the value of property upon an average of seven years. Sir Edmund Head republished this pamphlet in 1865, and in the interval he found that an Act had been passed which precisely secured that which he thought necessary to make the measure just, and which dispensed with the necessity of seven years. In a note to the pamphlet he said that the scheme proposed in the text was no longer necessary, inasmuch as the Union Assessment Act had provided the means of securing uniformity. He stated that the relief charges on the common fund were already 51 per cent of all the relief, and the transition to an union charge was therefore easy. He accepted, therefore, the authority of Sir Edmund Head himself to show that the alterations proposed by the hon. Member for West Norfolk were not necessary. The single object of the hon. Gentleman's Instruction was to facilitate the alteration of the limits of unions; but if that were to be the case, there would be no end to these alterations, and gradually everything would return to the old system. The Poor Law Board had always exercised its own authority for these alterations whenever good cause existed, but it would be utterly impossible to carry into effect what the hon. Gentleman was proposing.


said, if the Poor Law Board possessed the authority it was very disinclined to use it. Now-a-days there was the greatest indisposition to allow localities to manage their own affairs. The Poor Law Board were not willing to make those alterations even when the whole of the guardians were in favour of them. He had received a letter from a gentleman who had for seventeen years been chairman of the Bedminster Union, which stated that though the rural parishes of that union were only united with the urban parish of Bedminster on the express pledge of the Poor Law Board that if they did not work harmoniously the union should be dissolved, yet the Poor Law Board, notwithstanding numerous applications and the unanimous desire of all the parishes, had up to this time continued to refuse to allow a dissolution. No doubt there were many other cases in which the Poor Law Board had refused to dissolve unions. The right hon. Gentleman said he did not know how the instructions could be carried out. Ho (Sir William Miles) would tell him. He would, on application by two-thirds of the guardians, allow a dissolution to take place on such conditions as the Poor Law Board might direct. The House was too much in favour of placing everything under a central authority, and leaving nothing to guardians except what Inspectors might advise. The guardians were the best judges of what should be done, yet when they made any statement to the Board an Inspector was always sent down to inquire into its truthfulnes. The word of an Inspector was preferred to that of the guardians. He had moved for Returns over and over again of the instances in which the Poor Law Board had exercised the power of altering unions, but had not yet got them. He was not going to vote for the proposal without being ready to carry it out, and he thought that there would be no difficulty in doing it. The last time the question of union settlement came before a Committee of the House was in 1846, and he recollected well that the late Mr. Charles Buller, who presided over that Committee—such was the effect which the evidence, not of Poor Law Inspectors, but of men who were engaged in the actual working of the Poor Law produced on his mind—declared, in almost the very words of the present Resolution, that there would be no fairness in any union settlement until a revision of unions had taken place. There was the highest possible authority, therefore, in favour of the proposition of his hon. Friend, and there would be no difficulty, if it were acceded to, in framing a Bill which would give general satisfaction. For his own part he had always been for an extension of the area of rating, but then he wished to see that object effected in a fair way; and if the towns were placed with the towns, and the rural parishes with the rural parishes, there would be such a shifting of the burdens of taxation as would lead to there being less of recrimination between parish and parish, and more of goodwill between those with whom it would rest to carry any measure on the subject into effect.


said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board was by no means justified in the tone which he had adopted in reference to the proposition before the House, or in the statement that it had been brought forward with the view of obstructing the passing of the Bill. Such observations would not facilitate the passing of the Bill, lie, for one, should certainly vote for the proposition, which he considered a fair one, and one of his reasons for doing so was the confidence which he, in common with the right hon. Gentleman, placed in the opinion of Sir Edmund Head. So disposed was the right hon. Member to rely on that opinion that he had sent him the pamphlet of Sir Edmund Head, to which allusion bad been made by the hon. Member for Haverfordwest, and he deemed it but just to the writer to say that while he ably and successfully advocated union rating, he did so upon two grounds—the first being that it ought to be carefully and gradually introduced, and the second—which the right hon. Gentleman had passed over in complete silence—that before union charge-ability was adopted that change in the law ought to be preceded by a revision of the boundaries of unions. It was, he would observe, hardly ingenuous on the part of the right hon. Gentleman while referring to one portion of the pamphlet to make no allusion to the other. He had, he might add, every reason to believe that the authority of Sir Edmund Head was in favour of the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk, and he was happy to find that so eminent an authority as the late Mr. Charles Buller had also been in favour of the revision of Union boundaries. For himself, he had always been an advocate of the principle of union rating, and he believed a great mistake was made by the close parishes when they drove labour away. It must, however, be borne in mind that the extension of the area of rating could not be effected without at the same time causing a very great change in the incidence of taxation throughout the country, and it was therefore the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to do everything in his power towards making the change fall as lightly as possible on the ratepayers.


said, that it was not denied that there were great inequalities in the area of unions—greater than any that existed in the area of parishes. It was evident that the Poor Law Board admitted the necessity of some alteration of the limits of unions. Now these alterations of the limits of union must necessitate the transfer of a considerable number of parishes from one union to another in which the amount of the rates were probably very different. Thus this transfer of parishes involved the question whether some parishes should pay 5s.poor rate instead of 9d. The Poor Law Board, through which this transfer of parishes from one union to another would be effected, was a Government office. They were on the eve of a general election, and he asked whether it was the wish of the House to place in the hands of the Government at such a time the enormous patronage which the Bill would give them. As an independent Member he called attention to that circumstance. It was one which no former Parliament in which he had had the honour of sitting would have overlooked.


said, that the town parishes might be injured by this Bill, and therefore they regarded it with aversion, but the agricultural parishes would be benefited by it.

Question put, That it be an Instruction to the Committee, with a view to rendering the working of the system of Union Chargeability more just and equal, that they have power to facilitate in certain cases the alteration of the limits of existing Unions.''—(Mr. Bentinck.)

The House divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 193: Majority 75.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


, who had given notice of his intention to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, said, the large majority by which the Bill passed the second reading had decided the question of principle, and pledged the House to the adoption of union instead of parochial rating. It was, therefore, highly desirable that the Bill, before passing, should be rendered a well considered and comprehensive measure, needing as little alteration as possible. Looking at it from this point of view, the question to which he wished to call attention was the question of the division of unions. The House had decided that no special instruction should be given to the Committee with regard to the division of unions. That decision, however, he assumed, was based on the statement of the President of the Poor Law Board that no special instructions were required, it being already in the power of the Poor Law Board to carry out alterations of this kind, which they were doing from time to time. It was with surprise, however, that he heard so great an authority as the right hon. Gentleman declare that alterations of this kind could be carried out as well after the Bill had passed as they could be now, or in case the Bill was postponed to another Session. As long as parochial rating was maintained it mattered comparatively little whether parish A belonged to union B or C; but the Bill once passed, a change from one union to another implied a change in the amount of taxation which the ratepayers would be called upon to pay, for no two unions would be circumstanced precisely alike in that respect. On the passing of this Bill union rating would become law, but almost before the amount of the change could be ascertained the Poor Law Board would be at work again altering the various unions and changing the amount of taxation. He asked was it fair that these constant changes should be made? If the Bill were referred to a Select Committee the whole question could be considered, a scheme might be drawn up by the Poor Law Board and submitted to the Committee, and a Bill introduced in a form to make all the changes at once. With respect to another part of the subject, it was now thirty years since a strong recommendation had been made to abolish the Gilbert unions, as most mischievous in operation. But threatened men, it was said, lived long, and perhaps the same thing might be said of threatened institutions. Gilbert unions were still in existence. Though not entirely concurring in the sweeping censure which had been passed upon them, ho thought the few Gilbert unions which remained, making it inconvenient to work the Poor Law in their neighbourhood, should be, put an end to, and the parishes of which they were composed incorporated with other unions. Some such change was necessary if the Poor Law unions were to be made of convenient size. For various reasons he thought boundaries of unions required revision, not as was insisted on by the hon. Member (Mr. Bentinck), with the view entirely to equalize the charges between the different parishes or unions, but really with a view to the convenient working of the Poor Law. The Commissioners who formed the greater part of these unions were themselves of opinion that eventually it would be necessary to revise them, and this independently of the principle that unions were to be the areas of local taxation. The next question was the very important one of the incidence of the rate. This was another reason for sending the Bill to a Select Committee. The Bill laid down the principle of parochial rating, except where it was not possible to collect the rate on that principle. It was said there would be no great change as to rating, but he could mention two parishes in the union of Darlington where the rates would be raised, in one instance, 318 per cent, and in the other 1,750 per cent by the operation of this Bill. The increase of the poor rate within the last ten years had been very large. In 1853 it was £6,500,000, in 1863 it was upwards of £9,000,000; showing an increase in ten years of £2,652,000. Then there was another point, and that was, that the poor rate was raised from only half of the property of the country. The amount raised by income tax on schedules A and B was very nearly equal to that raised from schedules C, D, and E, but the poor rate was levied only on the property comprised under sehedules A and B. Now he asked the House whether that was a fair way of levying the poor rate? He might quote authorities on the question whether the levying of the poor rate from only one description of property was fair or reasonable. The first authority he should quote was the Report of the House of Lords' Committee in 1850. They had gone very minutely into the question, and examined all the highest authorities on the subject, including the late Sir George Lewis. The fifth Resolution of the Report of that Committee stated that the relief of the poor was a national object towards which every description of property ought justly to contribute. The statute of Elizabeth contemplated this according to the ability of every man. It was quite clear from the evidence given before the Lords' Committee that Sir George Lewis thought the existing mode of levying the poor rates was not an equitable one, and that he had only been deterred from dealing with the matter by those difficulties which he point- ed out in the course of that evidence. He might be asked what probability there was of a Select Committee being able to select some mode of levying the poor rate other than by raising it all from real property. No doubt a certain onus probandi rested on those who argued for making other than real property liable for poor rate to show that that was practicable. He believed that if a Committee were appointed suggestions would be made to it of a nature not open to objection. No doubt it would be excessively difficult to ascertain, for the purposes of a local tax, what was the amount of personal property which each person possessed; and if the relief of the poor were thrown upon the Consolidated Fund, the public would lose the benefit of local knowledge and vigilance. But the proposal of the hon. Member (Mr. Knight) avoided the dilemma, for if one-half of the relief of the poor were placed upon the national purse, personal property would be made in a measure to contribute, and if one-half were left to be raised by local taxation, a sufficient security would be taken for the due and economical administration of the fund. At all events, the majority of the ratepayers of the kingdom, who by the Bill before the House would have an additional charge put upon them, were entitled to have their case fully heard; and if a Select Committee had inquired into the subject, those ratepayers would feel that justice had been done to them even though they might not be pleased with the result. As against the delay which an inquiry of that kind would involve, it was said that the evils arising from the removal of the poor should be at once put an end to. Now, he had taken the last Return of removals which had been issued that for the year ending in 1863. He wished the Returns had been brought down later, because an Act was passed in 1862 altering the term of residence, and there could be no doubt that it had tended to diminish the number of removals. He found by the Return to which he had referred that for the year ending in March, 1863, the number of orders executed for removals from union to union was 5,689, and the number for removals between parishes in the same union 366; and that, while the total cost of removals was £19,184, the cost for removals between parishes in the same union was £1,151; so that this Bill would only apply to 6 per cent of the entire of the removals, and to an outlay of £1,151, out of a total ex- penditure of £19,184. More recent Returns would, doubtless, have placed the matter in a still more striking light. He came now to the question of close and open parishes—and here he had a confession to make which he was not certain ought not to send him to the bar clothed in penitential garments. He was the proprietor of one close parish, and part proprietor of another—if by a "close parish" was meant a parish in which there were no cottages. A Return on the subject of close parishes would have been very desirable; but hon. Members were snubbed when they asked for Returns. The two places to which he referred were "parishes" in Poor Law parlance; but in reality they were townships, maintaining their own poor. One was only 400 acres in extent, and the other only 500. He would explain the circumstances of those townships, and he believed his explanation would apply to a great many other close parishes in England. Those parishes were so near to villages where there was abundant accommodation for the poor that there was no difficulty in the labourers finding fit residences at a distance not exceeding half a mile from their work. For the last two centuries the proprietor of each of these parishes had been so largely interested in the neighbouring ones that it was a question of absolutely no importance to him where his labourers lived. The worst instances of want of cottage accommodation existed in certain open parishes with which he was acquainted. He believed that the number of cases in which the present system offered an impediment in the way of the building of cottages had been much exaggerated. The real reason why better cottages had not been built—which was felt in the open more than in the close parishes—was that the labourer had not been able to pay a rent that would yield a fair Return for the capital invested. But the greater demand for labour and the rise in wages would cause a great increase in cottage-building, and in that manner the evil would find its most effective remedy on a large scale. He desired to see the Bill sent to a Select Committee, in order that inquiry might be made as to the incidence of the poor rates, as to whether the Gilbert unions ought not to be done away with, and as to the re-adjustment of unions. When the Committee had reported, the Government would be enabled to draw up a comprehensive Bill to be introduced next Session for the consideration of the new Parliament, and which might effect a permanent settlement of that question. He concluded by moving that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee.


said, that as he found he could not consistently with the rules of that House bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice as a substantive question, he begged to second the Motion just made by the right hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson), than whom he believed no hon. Gentleman was better qualified to deal with that subject as it affected the agricultural interest. It was an extraordinary circumstance that, in the speech in which he moved the second reading of the Bill, the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. C. P. Villiers) never once alluded to the manufacturing districts. He had listened attentively to the right hon. Gentleman, expecting that he would have justified the introduction of this measure into the manufacturing districts of the north of England; but the right hon. Gentleman did nothing of the kind, although he could deliver a long speech full of bitterness towards the agricultural interests and the parochial system. In consequence of that omission, he (Mr. Ferrand) had felt it his duty to place on the papers of the House the notice of Motion which he found it was now incompetent for him to bring forward. The statement he was about to make would have fully justified him in proposing that Motion, and if he now showed it to be grounded on substantial facts, a strong case would also be made out for referring that Bill to a Select Committee. His notice of Motion was as follows:— The poor rates in aid of manufacturing wages have been and are still systematically levied in the manufacturing districts on agriculture, with the sanction of the Poor Law Board, whereby the burdena on land are grievously increased, and the worst features of the old Poor Law are maintained. That the Union Chargeability Bill will greatly extend the area of this unjust taxation, impose ruinous burdens upon agriculture for the benefit of manufacturers, and create serious discontent. That Bill had been denounced in that House as an unjust measure, and denounced in all parts of the country as one of spoliation. Its second reading had been carried by a majority of seventy-two, and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman thought he would be able to carry it through the House. But he would remind him that the second reading of the New Poor Law Bill of 1834 was carried by a majority of 319 to 20 in that House, and what was the consequence? A spirit of hostility sprang up against that Bill throughout the country. It was enforced in the manufacturing districts at the point of the bayonet, unions were garrisoned by the military; hut, in spite of the leading men on both sides combining to maintain that law, after a struggle of twelve years public opinion proved victorious against all opposition, and the harsh clauses of the measure were repealed. By the petitions presented to that House against the present Bill they found that the same spirit of hostility would be roused against it if it became law as was roused against the measure of 1834. He therefore entreated the right hon. Gentleman to consider well whether it would not be wise to adopt the Motion of the hon. Member for Whitby, and allow the Bill to be referred to a Select Committee, who, after taking evidence, would be enabled to report in a manner which would convince the people that every attention had been paid to making the measure subservient to the best interests of the country. The right hon. Gentleman said the Bill had been recommended unanimously by a Committee of that House, and no doubt that was quite correct; hut on reference to the proceedings of that Committee he found that no member of it was in any way connected with the manufacturing districts of the north of England. The hon. Member for Manchester, it was true, was a member of the Committee, but he was absent when the resolution for a union rating was agreed to. In moving the second reading of the Bill the right hon. Gentleman charged the agricultural interests with pulling down many cottages, with allowing the rest to be over-crowded, and causing the labourers to he employed on farms at a great distance from their work; but he forgot that the original promoters of the New Poor Law Bill of 1834 insisted on the landed property of the country being cleared of its poor inhabitants, and advocated the demolition of cottages as the only means of getting rid of improvident marriages and a surplus population. When the Bill of 1834 was undergoing discussion in that House, the Poor Law Commissioners were in communication with manufacturers in the north of England, receiving and accepting offers from them to sweep the agricultural districts of their population, and to absorb it in their factories. In that way, under the advice of the Poor Law Commission and the original promoters of the new Poor Law Bill, cottages were demolished and changes brought about which would for ever fill a dark and disgraceful page in our national history. A system of relief in aid of wages was introduced which inoculated with a spirit of dependence many honest self-reliant people who had previously scorned the name of pauper. No man had argued more ably than the right hon. Gentleman himself as to the necessity of an economical management of farms; and the agriculturists had been told over and over again that they must introduce machinery into their operations, and so save the expense of manual labour. That was the advice which was given to them, and they had followed it. They were using machinery, and thus diminishing the demand for labour, and now the right hon. Gentleman charged them with having got rid of the labourers and demolishing their cottages. What became of the agricultural labourers when the use of machinery had rendered their services in the country unnecessary? Why, they were compelled to go to the towns, to which they had been driven by the free trade policy of which the right hon. Gentleman had been so able and so consistent an advocate. When the right hon. Gentleman sent Inspectors to the agricultural districts in order to obtain materials on which to found this measure, why did he not also send to the manufacturing districts in order to ascertain how matters stood there? Had he done so, he would have found that a similar state of things existed in the north as in the south of England. There was not one millowner in fifty that provided the whole of his workpeople with cottages, and in his own neighbourhood he knew that many of the operatives had to walk one and two miles to work, and if they were not at the mill by six o'clock in the morning they had to pay a penalty. Even if the manufacturers built cottages for their hands, they charged 6 or 8 per cent on the sum expended, and they took good care on Saturday nights to deduct from the workman's wages the amount of the rent. But since the right hon. Gentleman had been so severe upon the agricultural districts, he would read a portion of a speech made by the right hon. Gentleman on the 18th of June, 1863. In speaking of the towns of Lancashire he said— There was a lamentable need of all those requirements which, according to our modern views of civilization, are essential to promote health, cleanliness, and general convenience. He saw in the Leeds Intelligencer of last Saturday that eighteen persons were living in two rooms, there being a large accumulation of vegetable and other decaying matter in a cellar beneath, and the two medical officers under the Board of Guardians declared before the magistrates that a more disgraceful place was scarcely to be found in the town, the qualifying word "scarcely" showing that there were other equally disgraceful places in Leeds. He did not bring this matter forward as a charge against the authorities of Leeds, as he had no doubt those persons had done their best to put a stop to such a state of things, but merely to show that so long as there were different grades among the poor, some—it might be, perhaps, the idle, the dissolute, and the drunken—would crowd together in unwholesome places. If blame were not to be attached to the town of Leeds, surely none ought to be thrown upon the inhabitants of agricultural districts in the event of similar cases being discovered. What right, therefore, had the right hon. Gentleman deliberately and continuously throughout his speech to make a series of charges against the agricultural districts for permitting a state of things which they had no power to alter? He would not pursue that part of the subject further, as doubtless hon. Members representing agricultural districts were fully capable of defending themselves from the aspersions of the right hon. Gentleman. He would, therefore, proceed to the subject of which he had given more immediate notice. But first he must remind the House that the right hon. Gentleman, in moving the second reading of his Bill, said, "The parochial system is very dangerous to property." He would remind the right hon. Gentleman how the New Poor Law had been administered in the manufacturing districts. The New Poor Law of 1834 was passed to put a stop to relief in aid of wages in the agricultural districts in the south of England at a time when such a system was unknown in the north. In consequence of the vast increase in labouring populations the guardians of the poor in the north were afterwards compelled to introduce the system. Thus, the result of the New Poor Law of 1834, which was professedly founded upon uniformity of system and unity of practice, was that the system of relief in aid of wages was abolished in the south and made the rule in the north. Before he brought under the notice of the House the state of things in the north he would read an extract from the speech of Lord Brougham in moving the second reading of the New Poor Law Act on the 21st of July, 1834, showing the effect of the relief in aid of wages system in the south. That noble and learned Lord said— Parish allowance is far worse than any dole of private charity; because it is more likely to be abused; because it is more certain in its nature, because it is better known, more established—because it approaches in the mind of the poor to the idea of a right. This terrible system has led, among other evil consequences, to the Act of 1796, which provided for the relief of the poor in their own houses, and was, in fact, the introduction of the allowance scheme—a scheme which provided for the partial payment of wages out of the poor rates, and which in its operation has been productive of all the worst mischief that might have been expected from such a source.… I will not say that many farms have been actually abandoned. I will not say that many parishes have been wholly given up to waste for want of occupants—(I know that there are instances of farms here and there, and of one parish in the county of Bucks, I think, which has been reduced to this state)—I will not say that as yet the system has so worked as to lay waste any considerable portion of territory. That it has a direct and necessary tendency to do so; that unless its progress be arrested it must go on till it gain that point—that before long we must reach the brink of the precipice towards which we are hurrying with accelerated rapidity; that the circumstance of one parish being thrown out of cultivation inevitably and immediately tends to lay three or four others waste, and that this devastation, gathering strength as it proceeds, must needs cover the land. Of these facts no man who consults the body of evidence before your Lordships can entertain the shadow of a doubt. Stand where we are we cannot."—[3 Hansard, XXV. 222, 230.] Now, if the Bill were referred to a Select Committee, he pledged his word to bring evidence to show that the relief system in aid of wages was carried on in the manufacturing districts of the north to a far greater extent than it had ever been practised in the south when the noble and learned Lord made his speech. Before 1834, when the Act was passed, the name of "pauper" was, in his (Mr. Ferrand's) district, regarded as a disgrace, whereas, now, not the slightest shame appeared to be attached to it, and relief in aid of wages was demanded by the working classes as a right. He would now explain how it was that this system had been adopted. Trade became depressed, and mills worked short time. The operatives went to the mill on Monday morning at six o'clock, and found the door closed. They were told that there was no warp or no weft, and that they must come again in four or five days; but the same state of things frequently continued for weeks. This threw the people upon the union. In other cases mills were running short time, say three days a week; and he would state a case:—A man, who had a wife and six children, worked in a factory during the three days and earned 6s.He went to the Board of Guardians and said that he had come for his allowance. The Board said they would allow 2s.a week each for the husband and wife, and 1s. 6d.for each of the children under sixteen; making in all 13s. The man had earned 6s., and they ordered the relieving officer to give him 7s., to make up the 13s. That was the regular system upon which the poor in the north were relieved, and he wished to know whether anything worse had ever existed in the southern agricultural districts previous to 1834. It often happened that the mills were closed for one, two, or three months, owing to depression of trade, and during that period the people were still living in their mill cottages. They wore maintained by outdoor relief. It very often happened that a man was ordered to break stones before receiving relief; but if this were suggested in reference to a faithful servant and high spirited man, some of the Guardians under the parochial system would know him, and would say, "Don't send that man to the stone heaps, it will break his heart; give him his relief and let him go home." He had himself repeatedly pressed this course upon the Guardians. Again, when trade was flourishing the workmen might strike, and the whole of the time during which they continued out of work they lived in their cottages upon the poor rate. The result was that the children became ill from want of sufficient food, the medical officer was called in, and thus additional expense was cast on the fund for the relief of the poor. Moreover, the cost of all the sick, crippled and diseased paupers, connected with manufactures caused a fearfully heavy drain on the poor rate. He had received from the relieving officer of the parish of Bingley, in which he resided, a Return of the number of people who had received relief from the poor rate in aid of wages or because they had no work, and the relieving officer stated that he had been relieving officer since April, 1857, and that during that time, to the best of his knowledge, a purely agricultural labourer in that parish had never become chargeable to the poor rate. The Return included the names of Moses Rhodes, wool-comber, earning 7s.,and who was relieved to the extent of £3 5s. on account of insufficient earnings; Joseph Pickles, twister, no work, relief granted £2 16s.; George Ratcliffe, power-loom weaver, no work, relief £1 16s.; Henry Holstead, power-loom weaver, no work, relief £4 1s. 8d.He could give several other instances, but he would not take up the time of the House in so doing. He would now read to the House the rules of the Guardians of Keighley, which were these— Rules of relief in Keighly Union—Able-bodied paupers, as regards relief given by the Guardians when out of work is a little varied, but, as a rule, 2s. each for the heads of the family, and 1s. 6d. each for the children under sixteen years of age. Relief given in aid of wages earned by the family when the head of the family is out of work or short of work, is much the same as the above, but it is difficult to define the exact sum given in all cases. Able-bodied paupers, (when the application is on account of no work) work at labour test, as stone breakers at present. He (Mr. Ferrand) had asked for Returns in reference to the payments in aid of wages in two unions in the manufacturing districts, but the right hon. Gentleman had not allowed him to have that portion of the Return which referred to that matter.


said, the hon. Gentleman knew he did not refuse; he knew who did refuse the information, and he had the letter in his hand.


was going to read the Return which had been drawn up in the right hon. Gentleman's own office. The right hon. Gentleman had allowed a Return of the amount paid in relief of the poor, in maintenance and out-relief, distinguishing the classes of persons relieved; but why was the relief paid in aid of wages not given? It was because the right hon. Gentleman knew that the adoption of such a system was illegal; and that the foul blot of relief in aid of wages was fixed upon the north of England to a greater extent than it ever had been upon the south. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right in saying that this part of the Return was refused by the Boards of Guardians, and what did the clerk of one of the unions (Bradford) say? He said that the applications for relief were contained in about 150 books, each comprising about 200 pages, and this extended over the period to which the Return moved for applied, fourteen years. The clerk of the Keighley Union said that the Guardians passed a resolution that it was impossible to make the Return because the books containing the information were of the aggregate thickness of five yards. Now, no doubt, a large majority of the applications were for relief in aid of wages. So far as he was able, from a Return placed on the table of the House by the right hon. Gentleman, he would state the amount of money expended from 1849 to 1862 for indoor and outdoor relief and other purposes in the Keighley Union, which consisted of six townships, in three of which manufactures preponderated, and in the other three agriculture preponderated. The population of the six townships was 43,122; and in the township of Bingley, the population of which was 13,254, the sum expended during the fourteen years from 1849 for in-maintenance was £2,744; for out-relief, £23,413, and for all other purposes, £17,446. In the township of Haworth, with a population of 5,896, the amount paid for in-maintenance during these fourteen years was £1,190; for out-relief, £19,387; the amount paid for all other purposes being £8.686. In the Keighley Union, with a population of 18,819, the amount paid for in-maintenance was £3,670; for out-relief, £36,723; poor rate for all other purposes, £24,515. Altogether the in-maintenance was £7,604; the out, £79,533. That was a startling fact connected with the relief in aid of wages. These were the three townships in which manufactures preponderated. He now came to the three agricultural townships, in all of which there were mills. In Morton, with a population of 2,113, the amount paid for in-maintenance was £556; for out-door relief, £3,510; for all other purposes £2,865. In Steeton, with a population of 1,341, for in-maintenance, £71; for outdoor relief, £1,970; for all other purposes, £2,375. In Sutton, with a population of 1,699, for in-maintenance, £128; for outdoor relief, £4,610; for all other purposes, £2,624. For fourteen years, then, the in-maintenance was £8,358; for out, £89,623, or eleven times as much. He came now to the Bradford Union, in which there were four townships, with a population of 106,218. In the township of Bowling there was a population of 14,494; the amount paid for in-maintenance was £2,189; for out-door relief, £15,246; for all other purposes, £17,211. In Bradford, population 48,646, the amount paid for in-maintenance was £23,348; for out-relief, £84,848; for all other purposes, £86,857. In Horton, population 30,189, the amount paid for in-maintenance was £7,736; for out-relief, £34,047; for all other purposes, £32,989. In Manning-ham, population 12,889, there was paid for in-maintenance, £1,653; for out-relief, £10,058; for all other purposes, £13,887. Altogether the in-door relief in the Bradford Union was £34,926; the out was £144,199; the expenditure for all other purposes, £150,944. Thus the Bradford Union, with a manufacturing population of 106,000, spent in fourteen years £35,000 in in-maintenance, and £144,000 in out-relief—four times as much in out-relief as in in-maintenance. The Keighley Union, with a large manufacturing and a considerable agricultural population of 43,000, spent in the same period £8,000 in in-maintenance, and £89,000 in out-relief, being eleven times more for out-relief than for in-maintenance. This was a startling result of the system of relief in aid of wages, and it was shown by the Return of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He would test this with another statement. He had taken three prosperous years and three depressed years in each union, for the purpose of showing the House the great comparative rise in the amount of out-relief in the three depressed years. In the Keighley Union, in 1855–57, three depressed years, the in-maintenance was £1,851, the out, £24,794; in 1860–62, three prosperous years, the in-maintenance was £1,810, the out, £17,591, showing an increase in the in-maintenance in the depressed years of £41, but of the out-relief of £7,203. In the Bradford Union, in the three same years of depression, the in-maintenance was £11,980, the out-relief, £39,056; in the same three years of prosperity, the in maintenance was £7,584, the out-relief, £20,869, showing an increase of the in-maintenance in the years of depressed trade of £4,476, of the out relief of £18,187. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to extend this relief-in-aid-of-wages system into the agricultural districts of the union, and while the Bill had been under discussion, a letter appeared in the Standard, headed "Union Charge-ability Bill," in which the writer confirmed his views. He contended that this would be disastrous to the ratepayers there. If it had not been for the parochial system, and if the guardians had not been well acquainted with the applicants for aid in each, parish, the startling amounts he had mentioned would have been much greater than they were. Suppose a union rating existed. In that case, instead of having mills closed for three or four days a week they would be closed altogether, because the masters would have their workpeople paid from the funds of the whole union instead of from the rates of the township in which their mill was rated. The right hon. Gentleman was now propounding doctrines very different from those used by him twenty or twenty-five years ago, when he denounced the conduct of the agriculturists as selfish. How often had he heard the right hon. Gentleman taunt the agricultural interest, and tell them they were whining for protection, and had no business to tax the towns for the benefit of the agricultural interest. He remembered Mr. Cobden declaring that all the manufacturers required was to be let alone, and they would feed and pay their own workpeople. But on the 25th of June, 1844, the right hon. Gentleman said—and this was the hardest nut ever given the agricultural interest to crack—"No right can be allowed to any portion of the public to enforce taxation on the rest." But what was the Bill before the House? Why a Bill to enable towns to tax the agricultural districts. To-night he (Mr. Ferrand) retorted and said, "Let not the towns tax the country districts." Free trade was established in 1846 on the compact that manufactures and agriculture should henceforth bear their respective burdens. But what did the right hon. Gentleman require? He asked Parliament to violate that compact by the Bill now before the House. For the Bill was one to allow towns to tax agriculture by levying on the agriculturists a rate in aid of the wages of the manufacturers. There was a general impression abroad that before long there would be a great stagnation in Yorkshire. His hon. Friend the Member for Bradford laughed, hut what would be the result, if the price of cotton dropped to sixpence a pound, to the woollen trade? He would not be surprised to find the agricultural districts called on for an enormous amount of money to aid the manufacturers in feeding their factory hands. This would lead to confiscation in the agricultural districts. If this Bill passed, it would produce an immense amount of envy, hatred, and malice. He did not know why the hon. Member laughed. Suppose he was a farmer, and the overseer called on him for a double or treble rate for the relief of the manufacturing population of a town perhaps ten or fifteen miles off, and that demand took the last shilling from his pocket, and left him a pauper, it would be no laughing matter. But this Bill, if it became law, would bring such misery and distresss on the heads of thousands. At present, while land was rated at its full annual value, mills and manufactories were assessed at a much smaller amount. He would trouble the House with a statement with regard to two mills and with regard to 225 acres of land as affected by rates. The first mill was rated at the annual value of £659, and to the rateable value upon which it paid the rates only £494, or £165 less than the real annual value. That mill employed 800 hands. The second mill was rated at £567, and the rateable value of £401 or £166 less than the real value. That mill employed 750 hands. The 225 acres were rated at the annual value of £450, and the rateable value also was £450, while the workpeople employed were about twenty in number. The farmer had to pay towards the hands employed in one mill, 800 in number; in the other, 750. The land was rated at the full value, the mills at two-thirds. This was a fair reason why the right hon. Gentleman should consent to the appointment of a Select Committee. But the farms in the manufacturing districts were to a great extent on poor land, which had been often taken on improving leases at low rents. Many of them were enclosed forty or fifty years ago on the waste wolds, many were on hills, exposed to severe frosts and heavy storms, with little labour employed on them; and these farms were to be liable to be rated for the distress in the manufacturing districts. These farms would never have been brought into cultivation had this proposed taxation of them been for a moment imagined. But it was not the landed interest alone that would suffer from this Bill. There was a large number of mills scattered over the agricultural districts, some worked by mountain streams, others by small engines, and here the manufacturers served their apprenticeship, and having obtained a little money, started in the towns. But this Bill would tax these small mills in the country for the benefit of the larger manufacturers in such towns as Bradford and Halifax. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the towns as having high rates to pay. But if they had they drained all the money of the surrounding districts, because the labourers came into the towns on the Saturday night and spent their wages there. Before he sat down he would just call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the case of the North Byerley Union, which extended nearly twenty miles in length. One portion of it run up into the Moor districts, and the other down to the densely populated neighbourhoods of Leeds and Bradford. The effect of the operation of this Bill would be that the small farmers and manufacturers in the neighbourhood of the moorlands would have to pay for the relief of the poor in the Low Moor Iron Works, which did not contribute anything towards the poor rates. He entreated the right hon. Gentleman to allow the Bill to be sent to a Select Committee, before which the system of granting relief in aid of wages, which was a violation of the law, could be thoroughly investigated.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the words "That the" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the Bill be committed to a Select Committee,"—(Mr. Thompson,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, there was this difference between the former and present state of things adverted to by the hon. Member for Devonport, that while many years ago there was a strong feeling amongst the poor that their interests would be injured by the change proposed in the operation of the law, they now believed, on the contrary, that they would be benefited. The hon. Member, who directed his arguments chiefly to the effect of the Bill on the manufacturing districts, asserted, first, that a certain agricultural district in the neighbourhood of which they both resided would be more heavily taxed under the proposed Bill, and, secondly, that the increase would be the more unfair, because, he said, it was the practice to give relief in aid of wages. At the second reading the hon. Member told him that he (Mr. W. E. Forster) had an agricultural constituency. He presumed that the hon. Member had since found out that such was not the case. The union of Bradford was the borough of Bradford and consisted of a manufacturing population. The hon. Member stated that of the six townships of the Keighley Union three were agricultural and three manufacturing. It would be, however, difficult to find a district more completely manufacturing than the whole six townships. The hon. Member asserted that the three townships which he called agricultural would be rather more heavily taxed after the passing of this Bill than they were at present. He had, however, gone through the Return, and he found that the three townships which the hon. Gentleman called agricultural were at the present rather more heavily taxed than the three he called manufacturing. He had received from the clerk of the Board of Guardians at Bradford a letter explicitly denying that the practice of giving relief in aid of wages ever existed during the fifteen years he had been in office, and this was confirmed by the three relieving officers. Mr. Farnall, who was at one time officially connected with the district, fully bore out this statement. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) was chairman of the Board of Guardians some years ago, and no such practice prevailed then. The hon. Member gave three or four instances in which relief had been given in aid of wages "or to men out of work" at Bingley. There was, however, an enormous difference between the two class of cases. If the hon Member said relief was given to men out of work—of course it was; what would the House, or what would any humane person, think if it was not? Several years ago, when the New Poor Law was passed, the hon. Member was foremost in the agitation against it, and he could not look with much pleasure on all the language he used at that time—but he was then against the in-door test, although now he seemed to think it ought to be applied. But that part of the Poor Law never was carried out in the manufacturing districts in Yorkshire. In the main the hon. Gentleman was right, for if at periods of depression of trade an attempt had been made to adopt the system of giving in-door relief in all cases of pauperism, the Board of Guardians would have been unable to meet such a change. The Boards of Guardians had ever since gone upon an opposite system of not forcing paupers to go into the workhouse if they could help it. When he (Mr. W. E. Forster) laid the first stone of the present workhouse at Bradford he stated that the building was intended for two purposes; first, as a refuge for the sick and aged who had no other home to go to; and secondly, as a test for lazy fellows who would not work elsewhere. That was the only system on which it was possible to work the Poor Law in the manufacturing districts, but it was not the system of giving relief in aid of wages. If a man were out of work for a few days, the guardians, instead of forcing him into a workhouse, gave him some relief. That of which the hon. Gentleman complained was really to the credit of the guardians, for if they forced the population during periods of temporary distress into the workhouse, they would be doing what was perfectly unjustifiable. If, however, the hon. Gentleman meant that any system existed analogous to that which formerly prevailed in certain agricultural districts, and by which the manufacturers paid the wages of their men or a portion of their wages out of the rates, he could only give the strongest denial to such a statement. The practice was utterly non-existent in any of the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire, and his hon. Friend near him could, he believed, say as much for Lancashire. He would agree with the hon. Gentleman that there were not enough cottages in the district, but if additional cottage accommodation were not provided, it was mainly because the demand had increased more quickly than it was possible to build the cottages. The hon. Member spoke of the ill condition of the cottages, and he (Mr. W. E. Forster) would not say that it was not a subject to which attention ought not to be constantly directed. But that had nothing to do with the question at issue so far as the manufacturing districts were concerned, although he believed the present state of the law had much to do with it in the rural districts. In the manufacturing districts it was to the interest of the employers to have a good supply of labour, and they knew they could not have that without plenty of cottages around their mills; but the action of the law as it now stood was to tempt the owners of property in the agricultural districts to decrease cottage accommodation, even where the population was increasing. He made no charge against the agricultural interest when he said that that temptation ought to betaken from them, as it would be by this Bill. The law operated to tempt the landowners and farmers to decrease the number of cottages, and that that statement was not without foundation might be seen by the seventh Report of the Medical officer of the Privy Council, which, he might add, completely bore out what had been said by the President of the Poor Law Board on the second reading of the Bill. Dr. Simon, who, he believed, was the chief Medical Officer of the Privy Council, and who was therefore responsible for the whole of the Report, said at page 9— To the insufficient quantity and miserable quality of the house accommodation generally had by our agricultural labourers, almost every page of Dr. Hunter's Report bears testimony. And gradually for many years past the state of the labourer in these respects has been deteriorating—house room being now greatly more difficult for him to find, and, when found, greatly less suitable to his means, than perhaps for centuries has been the case. Especially within the last twenty or thirty years the evil has been in very rapid increase, and the household circumstances of the labourer are now in the highest degree deplorable. Dr. Simon went on to say— An extraneous element weights the balance heavily against him, and he loses the fair chances of free trade. The element to which I refer is the influence of the Poor Law in its provisions concerning settlement and chargeability. Under this influence each parish has a pecuniary interest in reducing to a minimum the number of its resident labourers; for, unhappily, agricultural labour, instead of implying a safe and permanent independence for the hard-working labourer and his family, implies for the most part only a longer or shorter circuit to eventual pauperism. Now, he should be sorry to make such a statement as that did he not find it in an official book, substantiated by the authority of a gentleman who had extraordinary opportunities of obtaining information. ["Not from experience!"] But then he had ascertained his facts from those who had experience, and there was in them, he was afraid, at least some degree of truth. It became, then, a matter of serious consideration whether there was any law which tended towards the pauperism in question—"a pauperism which," to use the words of Dr. Simon— During the whole circuit is so near that any illness or temporary failure of occupation necessitates immediate recourse to parochial relief; and thus all residence of agricultural population in a parish is glaringly an addition to its poor rates. Dr. Simon then went on to refer to Dr. Hunter's Report, and he would trouble the House with a few extracts from that Report, which would be found at page 135. Dr. Hunter says— One of the most powerful causes of insufficient cottage accommodation is the system of close and open villages, a system which prevails through all the Midlands and East of England, and which is doing much mischief by its operation on the quality, quantity, and locality of cottages. It is a hiding away of the cottage population in certain villages, and this is effected by unsparing destruction in others. There are in all counties show villages, where the cottages have been reduced to but a few, and where none but persons who are needed as shepherds, gardeners, or gamekeepers, are allowed to live. In such nearly all the tenants are regular servants, and receive the good treatment usual to their class. But the land requires cultivation, and it will be found that the labourers employed upon it are not the tenants of the owner, but that they come from a neighbouring open village, perhaps three miles off, where a numerous small proprietary has received them when their cottages were destroyed in the close villages around. Then again— No farmer of a neighbouring parish will tempt a man with children to disturb his parish settlement, for fear of throwing him on the common charges. The man himself, although he knows that he might find work thirty miles off on a railway or great public work at 2s. 6d. a day, is not only without the capital to start without danger of apprehension for desertion, but has a vague fear of losing his settlement and being thrown among strangers in his old age. He also found at page 127 the following passage in Dr. Hunter's Report:— Much attention should be given to those notes. It has been stated with too much boldness, and the statement is universally accepted, because agreeable (no doubt it is true within the limits of the words in which it is put), that the agricultural labourers of England have not diminished in number in the past thirty years. But, though this be true, how different is the whole truth! The agricultural labourers remain within England; they are in the towns. It is the rural labourers who are being swept away, and many people, deceived by confusing the terms, have applied the deceptive solace to a suspicion of something going on wrong. He confessed he had supposed the state of things was not so bad as was represented, and that there had been a considerable improvement within the last few years. He did not, however, pretend to much personal experience in the matter, although he had some. As hon. Gentlemen seemed to wish it he would give them what personal knowledge he had. He recollected having gone, not very long after the ten hours' agitation, in which he had taken a part in favour of the Ten Hours' Bill, into a country district in which a hard working, excellent clergyman, a friend of his, resided. It was a parish without those advantages which he admitted generally flowed from country gentlemen living near their labourers. This gentleman told him certain things about these close and open parishes which he could scarcely believe. He described them to be exactly as stated. The labourers in the parishes about him did not live in them, and therefore they were not in proximity to the gentry for whom they worked, but they went to the open parish some three or four miles away. He (Mr. Forster) said to his friend, "There has been a great deal done by several persons in this neighbourhood in building cottages," and to his surprise he found out that what had been done was very much in the direction of what was called the showy system immediately around the park gates, and had been productive of no appreciable good result. He was, however, bound to admit that there had been of late a great many instances in which country gentlemen had expended large sum3 of money on their property with a view to remedying the evil to which he referred, but then their efforts were of necessity so isolated as not to meet the requirements of the case. He made no complaint against the landowners on that account; indeed, he did not believe the manufacturers would do better. Men generally acted according as their interests dictated, and if the law enabled them to do something that was not for the good of their neighbours, but for their own or their fancied good, they would, generally speaking, take advantage of that law. The real fact was this—They had in their Poor Law at present a system under which it was to the interest of the employers engaged in the most important interest in the country—that of agriculture—in very many cases to put their labourers at some distance from them, and to drive them off to cottages three or four miles distant from their work. But then it was contended that to alter the law so that it should no longer be their interest to do so, would be to transfer the burden of relief. It should be, however, borne in mind that a transfer of that burden had long been going on, for the employer had been transferring the relief of those whom he employed to some one else. If, then, the burden were re-transferred and placed on the right back no more than justice would be done, although the employer would naturally complain. He was not, of course, surprised to find that there was some outcry against such a proposal in the agricultural districts, because no man liked a burden from which he had escaped for years to be re-imposed however just it might be. But it was much to the credit of the residents in the agricultural districts that there seemed to be quite as much approval of, as opposition to it. By a Bill which had been passed by his right hon. Friend, making three years' industrial residence apply to unions, a very considerable trans- for of burden in the case of the manufacturing interests was effected, but they submitted to it, though by some it was opposed. The introduction of the three years' industrial residence was a transfer of the burdens from the rural to the town districts, because before that the moment a man became chargeable he was sent away from the place of his work to Ireland, or into one of the rural districts, as it might happen, to which he belonged. He was also opposed to the system in his own union, but he was unfortunately always in a minority when such cases came before the Board of Guardians. When the three years' residence was proposed a deputation from Bradford waited upon him on the ground that it would be a transfer of the burden to the manufacturing districts, but when he explained the matter to them they declined to go farther. He was glad to perceive that the feeling in the agricultural districts was coming round in the same way, for the principle on which the Bill was based was that the burden should be put on the right back—the cost of maintaining the poor on those who employed labour—although it was impossible to deny that it scarcely meddled with a most glaring exception—the state of London at the present moment. If cases such as those from time to time occurring at Bethnal Green or other places in London happened in any agricultural district, or in one of the manufacturing towns, so strong a feeling would be excited that there would be little likelihood of their recurrence. The reason was that in country districts, and in towns such as Bradford or Leeds, people needing relief were better known to their neighbours, and more sympathy was felt for them, than in London, where the pauper class was a small and comparatively unknown class in the midst of an enormous population. For that very reason, as well as on account of the sense of injustice rankling in the minds of the ratepayers, it was all the more necessary that the House should devote attention to their case, and that the press should watch over their interests. With such flagrant cases as that of the St. Katharine's Docks it was no wonder that the taxpayers complained. Those docks, enclosing a vast amount of property and employing an enormous population, constituted a union in themselves, and, the rates having been bought up, none were now in existence. The population employed in the docks lived. of course, in the surrounding pa- rishes, and, these being very heavily rated, the taxpayers in them felt as if the money was actually robbed from them, and hence the wants of the poor were not cared for with as good grace as they otherwise would be. He trusted this Bill would form a precedent for his right hon. Friend, and lead him to take up the important question of the condition of London very speedily. Looking to the period of the Session which had now been reached, any proposal involving delay must tend to defeat the Bill, because the two subjects which the hon. Gentleman wanted to inquire into—one, the getting rid of the Gilbert unions, and the other, whether they should extend rating to other than landed property—would necessarily occupy considerable time in the investigation. The present Parliament had accomplished very little, but if Members were able to return to their constituents and say that it had passed a Bill remedying one of the greatest practical evils affecting society, they would at least be able to point to its care for the interests of the poor man, in enabling him to bring his strong arm to work at any place where it could be used with most efficiency, and could earn in return the highest rate of pay.


said, that he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board that this Bill would remove the anomaly and grievance of close parishes, and he should be glad to assist the right hon. Gentleman in getting rid of it, but he felt that it was a measure that could not be hurriedly carried into execution. They must not forget that the close parishes had arisen from a system which had been in use for many centuries, and that persons interested in these parishes had inherited the property they enjoyed in them from generation to generation, or had purchased it under that system, and that, therefore, to make any sudden change would be to create considerable variation in the value of the property which they possessed. The discussion which had taken place had induced him to believe that to make the proposed change without its being connected with other concurrent measures would be to inflict great hardships on the rural parishes in unions with manufacturing parishes, as had been exemplified in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Egerton). According to the hon. Gentleman's statement four manufacturing parishes in the union would be greatly relieved at the expense of the remaining thirty-seven rural parishes of the union. However grateful the four manufacturing parishes of which that Gentleman had spoken might feel towards the President of the Poor Law Board for introducing this Bill, it was evident that the thirty-seven rural parishes comprised in the same union must feel the strongest repugnance to the measure. These latter had no community of interest with the manufacturing parishes; they did not benefit by proximity to the town; they simply happened to be comprised in the same union, according to the geographical combination made by the Poor Law Board. He saw no reason why the union between manufacturing and rural parishes should be eternal; for them, as for unions of a more sacred character, a divorce court ought to exist. If the Bill were carried out in its integrity there would be endless complaints and discontent on the part of those who found themselves exposed to heavier burdens than they had been accustomed to under the old system. He, therefore, was not disposed to proceed further with this Bill without something being done to remedy the injustice there would be inflicted on the rural parishes to the benefit of the manufacturing parishes. This might be accomplished either by reconstructing the unions, or in some other way providing against it. The Bill would leave untouched the great question of exemptions. An hon. Friend of his gave notice of an Amendment upon the subject, and he (Mr. Hubbard) had himself placed upon the paper a similar notice, but he was told that both the proposed clauses would be incompatible with the Bill, and that they could not, therefore, be introduced in the Committee. The fact was, that the measure would not deal in any way with the number of important questions which could not for any length of time be left untouched. Under these circumstances he saw no other means of meeting the difficulties of the case than by referring the Bill to a Select Committee. Such a Committee could take the whole subject into its consideration, and although the proposed course might impede the progress of the present measure it would enable them to obtain, at some further period, a final and satisfactory settlement of the question.


said, that the hon. Member for Whitby had given four or five reasons for asking the House to go into a Select Committee on the Bill. The first was that time should be given to consider the distribution and size of the unions. He certainly was willing to admit that many unions were too large in their present state; but he could not agree in the argument that the townships in the immediate neighbourhood of towns ought to be allowed to dissociate themselves from the unions of those towns. The property immediately adjoining large towns derived great advantage, and was oftentimes largely increased in value, from the proximity, and it was but fair that as they shared the advantage they should also contribute towards the burdens. He could state of his own knowledge that land situated at a distance of five or six miles from Manchester let for £5 an acre, while land removed some five or six miles farther let for only £3 an acre. There would be no difficulty in altering the forms of the unions under the Bill, where, under the circumstances, it was practicable. He believed the Poor Law Board to be willing to consider the alteration of unions, but there were oftentimes difficulties in the way of so doing which hon. Members seemed to have overlooked. The outlying townships were frequently too small to form a union, and the unions around them refused to have anything to do with them. He knew this to be the case at Oldham. Another reason which the hon. Member for Whitby gave was that an opportunity should be given for considering the incidence of the rate on the various townships and parishes throughout the country. He believed that every person might know the incidence of the rate in his own parish. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the increase in the amount of poor rate. There was an increase, but he believed that the increase was not owing to what went to the real relief of the poor, but to other sources of expenditure. In 1855 the cost of maintaining the out-door and irremovable poor was £3,821,000, in 1863, it was £4,077,000, being an increase of only a quarter of a million in eight years. It was not fair therefore to lay the onus of the increase in the poor rate on the amount paid for the real relief of the poor. The hon. Gentleman said that relief was granted in Yorkshire and Lancashire in aid of wages, but he believed it would be difficult for the hon. Gentleman to lay his finger upon a single case of the kind. He was willing to admit that the statement that in Lan- cashire they granted a great deal of outdoor relief was perfectly correct, but when they found that they could maintain a pauper out of doors for 2s. or 2s. 6d., and that the expenses attendant upon his indoor maintenance was 3s. 6d. or 4s., they believed that in so doing they were not only treating the paupers in a more humane and considerate manner, but were also, at the same time, consulting the interests and the pockets of the ratepayers. It had been stated that if this measure came into operation the expenditure consequent upon the relief of the poor would be considerably increased, because the guardians would not bestow upon the subject that care which they did at present. He had had some experience in these matters, and he found that the irremovable cases were looked after with greater attention than the parish cases, because they had, in too many instances, with respect to the latter class of applications, to leave the decision as to the amount of relief to the guardians of the parishes to which the paupers belonged. If a guardian desired to be liberal in the treatment of particular cases, he could suggest to the Board of Guardians to deal favourably with them, but when there was a common charge every guardian would be anxious to save the pockets of the ratepayers of his particular parish. In 1855 the whole cost of the irremovable poor amounted to 4s. 11d. per head of the population; in 1863 it was only 4s. 8d. Therefore, if this Bill passed, the probability was that the expenditure upon poor relief would be diminished. Much had been said about the unequal way in which this measure would affect the farming interest, but he was disposed to believe that generally the farmers approved the Bill, and even if they had to pay more rates it would give them opportunities of obtaining labour from more extended areas than at present. A secretary to a farmer's club had written to The Times stating that the question had been discussed at many meetings of farmers, and the general, if not almost unanimous, opinion was favourable to this proposition. It would enable them to have a greater number of persons from whom they might choose their labourers; it would remove the temptation to which they were at present exposed of employing an inferior class of labourers, merely because they would otherwise have to support those people in the workhouse; and it would thus in some measure promote their real welfare. He would only further re- mark that the Bill would leave the question still in an unsatisfactory state, because it would not simplify the numerous subjects which came tinder the notice of Boards of Guardians. He did not think the Bill simplified enough the payments which were made through the Boards of Guardians. They had various payments to make which were not properly connected with the relief of the poor, and two of these at least should be removed from them, the vaccination fees and the fees for the registration of births and deaths. It would also still leave the guardians charged with the duty of allotting a great number of payments on the separate parishes. He trusted, however, that the House would go into Committee upon the Bill, because he believed it would do away with some abuses, and by giving a freer circulation to labour would tend to improve the position of the people.


said, it seemed to him, that although the battle upon that question had been hitherto fought upon strong grounds, the strongest ground for opposing a union rating had not as yet been taken up. The only experience of a Poor Law in the world, with the small exception of Denmark, was in England; and if they wished to ascertain the probable results of any great change in regard to this subject they must look to the past history of the English Poor Law. He thought that history thoroughly established this fact, that no forced charity, by means of a Poor Law, could be worked successfully over any areas of chargeability except the areas of natural charity—areas in which the rich and the poor were known to each other., and in which the money was paid by those persons to whom, without a Poor Law, the poor would naturally turn for help in the hour of need. They would find that there had been repeated instances, extending from the first commencement of our Poor Law to the present generation, of large areas of chargeability having been tried—the result having been, in every instance, a reduction of these areas of rating from the proved impossibility of working them; and he felt quite certain, if this Bill passed, and large areas were again established in England, that the moment a real pressure came upon the rates those areas would be found perfectly unworkable, whilst the greatest confusion and misery would arise, and they would have to be reduced again to the areas of natural charity. When employment was pressing upon labour—when men could find work in all parts of England—we might almost get on without any Poor Law, but the moment the population pressed upon employment, and the moment a Poor Law became really necessary, not only in a single district, but all over the country, that which had repeatedly happened before would occur again, and the large areas would become one mass of inextricable confusion. Not only in England, but in Ireland and Scotland, these large areas had failed. The first instance is coeval with the existence of a forced Poor Law, which was first established in England by the 14th of Elizabeth. The burden of maintaining the poor was then thrown, not on each parish, but on the whole inhabitants of petty sessional divisions. That, however, was found not to answer. Twenty-six years afterwards the same Ministers who had introduced the system felt compelled to reduce the rating area, and by the 39th Elizabeth the parochial divisions were made the areas of Poor Law charge-ability.

The next instance of the failure of large areas of chargeability occurred in the time of Charles II. when all the large parishes in England and Wales were divided into townships for the support of the poor. It was found at that time that in all the smaller parishes the law was better administered, and the wants of the poor better cared for than in the larger parishes, where, notwithstanding the existence of the law, many persons, old and young, had died from the want of the necessaries of life. The preamble of this Act of Charles II. recites that— The inhabitants of certain northern counties and of many other counties in England and Wales, by reason of the largeness of the parishes within the same, have not, nor cannot reap the benefits of the Poor Law of Elizabeth; and the Act reduces the areas of charge-ability in these large parishes to townships and villages. The effect of this Act was to increase the number of places maintaining their own poor in England and Wales from about 10,000 to about 15,000; and in these reduced areas the Poor Law has worked without difficulty ever since. The next great instance of the forced reduction of large areas of chargeability occurred in the present generation. In 1838, when the Poor Law was first established in Ireland, the Poor Law Commissioners had recently been beaten in their attempt to establish large areas in England. They, however, succeeded in establishing large areas in Ireland, and what was the result? Ten years later, when hard times came upon the people of the sister country, the Government had to appoint a Commission called the Boundary Commission to subdivide those large areas, and to reduce them to the areas of natural charity. The Boundary Commissioners state in their first Report that they found the unions in the north and east of Ireland in a far better condition than those in the south and west, and assign, as a chief reason, the fact that the electoral divisions were smaller and more nearly coterminous with property. Indeed they say throughout, that in their re-adjustment of the electoral districts they Endeavoured to compose them of single properties, or groups of properties, in order that the stimulus and individual interest might be exerted for the improvement of the country and the condition of the people. In their eighth Report, dated February, 1850, they say— We found, as a general rule, that the largest town divisions were usually those in which the greatest pressure existed.…And we had little doubt that injustice was done to the more distant rural portions of those electoral divisions, by the support being thrown upon them of the persons who swelled the population of the towns. From this we endeavoured to liberate them, by confining the electoral division to the space benefited by its proximity to the town, and we departed from the parish boundaries, when by doing so we could make the town more central.…The areas, accordingly, attached to towns, will generally be found to be limited to lands within a circuit of one or two miles, and, so far as has been practicable, coterminous with the boundaries of properties.…In support of our general view of reducing the town areas, we may state, that we find the principal towns in the north of Ireland, as Londonderry, Belfast, and others, with very small areas; in the case of Londonderry, only 767 acres; while the rates on those towns have been moderate. In fact the very magnitude of the rateable district has been represented to us, and with great apparent reason, as one of the causes which has led to the present pressure on the rates, from the laxity which has been introduced by it, and not only as having caused it, but as likely to be ruinous in the end to the towns themselves. Thus within our own time, and with all the advantages that could be derived from a central administration and from the union system, the principle of extended areas sought to be established by this Bill has been fully tried, and its signal and rapid failure has caused this third great national example of the forced reduction of widely extended areas of rating to the areas of natural charity—areas which allow of mutual knowledge and a common interest between the payers and the recipients of a forced legal charity. The stress the Commissioners place throughout as the advantages of the boundaries of properties being coterminous with those of areas of chargeability, affords a great practical contradiction to those who talk of the evils of such areas in England, and stigmatise them as close parishes.

Now, as regards the Scotch Poor Law, it should be observed that in the Lowlands, where the parishes were small, the law worked well. On the contrary, in the Highlands, where the areas for rating were immensely large, much misery and starvation have existed since the establishment of a New Poor Law in Scotland. He (Mr. Knight) believed that the proper remedy was pointed out in a passage which he recollected in the Report of the Scotch Commission of Poor Law Inquiry. It was there stated that, previously to the passing of the New Poor Law, some of these large Highland districts had in seasons of distress adopted a system which was called the "quartering system." The large parish was divided into five or six small quartering districts or neighbourhoods, and each house in these reduced districts took its turn in giving quarters to a certain portion of the poor and infirm. A division of the large highland parishes into such neighbourhoods for Poor Law chargeability, would, he doubted not, make the Poor Law in the Highlands a practical reality, and would be quite a parallel to the division of the large parishes in the North of England into townships. He hoped he might, live to see such a division take place. There were many other instances of the failure of large areas of chargeability to work well—for instance, about the time of Queen Anne, some ten or twelve unions had been found for rating purposes by private Acts of Parliament. Most of these were of very small area, merely uniting the parish of a town. But the largest of these unions, Norwich, consisted of forty three parishes, and in extent from 4,000 to 5,000 acres. Here the union system had worked as ill as possible, and Norwich had been ever since its union one of the most highly rated, and yet the most miserable district in all England. More complaints came from Norwich than almost any other union, and while it, cried for a larger area, he thought it had too large an area at present. The late Mr. Buller, when at the head of the Poor Law Board, sent gentlemen round the country to inquire into the state of different districts; all seemed to have started with a determination to make out a case for union rating. The Commissioner (Mr. Beckett) sent to inquire into the condition of the poor of Norwich, and into the causes of its extreme wretchedness, says— The subject of rating is beset with difficulty as far as Norwich is concerned, for its parishes are already united for the support of the poor, and whatever advantages are to be derived from the union system, it is now in the possession of. This system is found to be wholly inadequate as a remedy for the evils of which Norwich complains, and it is, therefore, no matter of surprise that the ratepayers should look to a national rate as their only hope of deliverance from the very heavy burden under which they are suffering. The ratepayers of Norwich looked to a national rate as their only relief from the heavy burden of union rating. Now, he (Mr. Knight) contended that if they were to repeal the Act of Queen Anne, and allow the forty three parishes of Norwich to form separate boards for the relief of the poor of each parish, the misery of that place would soon cease, and the rates would be reduced. Another instance of the failure of the Poor Law to work satisfactorily in large areas was that of the large London parishes. Here the administration of the Poor Law had broken down. The rates in some of them were very high, and the poor died in the streets of starvation. A few years ago the whole country was in a fire of indignation at the disclosures about the Andover Union; but a single weekly paper at any time during the winter would recount in the metropolis twenty times the honors which were brought, before the public on that occasion. He believed that a division of the large London parishes, such as was now being made for ecclesiastical purposes by the Bishop of London, and not an extension of the area, was the only mode in which relief could be obtained. In Paris, in 1848, we saw the experiment tried of putting a great city in one great area for the relief of its starving population. The attempt plunged the city in hopeless confusion. The expenditure became unmanageable, and the whole attempt was a miserable failure. It was another instance of the failure of a large area, and very possibly it was that which prevented the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Poor Law Board from proposing to deal with London distress, which cried loudly for change, while he tried his experiments in the country when the Poor Laws were working tolerably well and without much complaint.

Against all these instances of the breakdown of the Poor Law in large areas, the President of the Poor Law Board brought forward only one instance of its assumed success. He had brought forward the case of Docking Union with a pæan of triumph as the one which settled beyond all doubt the superiority of union rating over the existing system; and if that case failed it might be considered as certain that no example was known to the Poor Law officials of a case of success. The President had relied wholly on the Docking case to exemplify the success that was to attend his plan. He (Mr. Knight) had therefore gone carefully into the case of Docking, and would show the House that no favourable precedent could be founded upon it. The President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Villiers) had garbled the case in a manner common to Poor Law officials—by means of short statistics he had made out a case of success. But the facts were these: during the first eight years in which union rating had been established in Docking Union the poor rates had steadily increased to the amount of 19 per cent; then followed a decrease, not of Docking Union alone, but of most of the adjoining unions. Thus taking the average poor rate of Docking Union for the three years, 1846–7–8, before union rating had been established there, and comparing them with the average rate of the last three years, of which an account is published—namely, 1861–2–3, a decrease has taken place in the poor rates of Docking Union of 18 per cent. But during the same period the poor rates of the adjoining union of Swaffham has decreased 24 per cent; of the adjoining union of Aylsham 21 per cent; and of the adjoining union of Erpingham 19½ per cent. Now, it is not open to the right hon. Gentleman to say—Look at Docking, it has decreased 18 per cent, because it has adopted union rating, and to quote it as an overwhelming proof of the success of his plan, without its being pointed out that Swaffham had decreased 24 per cent, because it had adhered to the contrary system. The population of Docking Union had steadily increased in every census from 1801 to 1851, and it was not until union rating was established that a decrease commenced. Between 1851 and 1861 there had been a decrease of between 700 and 800 persons in nineteen parishes of Docking Union. Now the only clue to be found to this decrease was in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in bringing in the Bill. He said (quoting the Chairman of Docking Union) that second rate or partially able-bodied labourers, if unable to find work in their own parishes, went further a field in search of work. It was clear that they went out of the union; in fact that they had been driven out of the union by the harshness and severity of the union system. Whenever the population in an agricultural district decreased, it was held by the Poor Law Board that this was occasioned by some sort of cruelty, and on the right hon. Gentleman's own principle it appeared that the poor had been driven from the Docking Union. The President of the Poor Law Board in bringing in this Bill made great capital of a Report by a medical man, Dr. Hunter. He had grounded on it that part of his case which referred to overcrowding in agricultural parishes. Very few Members had seen that Report, which had not been delivered to the House. Dr. Hunter had been sent all over the country, a careful examination was made in every county, and in many parishes, and a Report was made as to the number of cottages, what they were built of, and other details. But according to that Report there was next to no hardship on the score of overcrowding in the parishes he visited—in only one of these, Netherly, the seat of a late Baronet long a Member of that House, were persons described as being huddled together seven or eight in a house. Finding little in the parishes he visited out of which to make a case, Dr. Hunter appears to have examined the census, and extracted the names of 821 parishes in which houses had decreased, while the inhabitants had increased between 1851 and 1861. Not a word was said by Dr. Hunter of their being agricultural or close parishes. In fact, it turned out that a great many of them were town parishes, yet the president of the Poor Law Board, in bringing in the Bill, had most unfairly called them agricultural parishes. Dr. Hunter gave the statement without mentioning the name of a single parish out of the 821, the names of which he had had great difficulty in extracting from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Poor Law Board. But, for the sake of argument, supposing the Report to be true, it was clear on the face of it that no overcrowding existed in those 821 parishes. The Report showed that the average number of persons to a house in those parishes in 1851 was 4.41, while in 1861 it was 4.87. But the average number of persons per house in England and Wales was in 1851 5.469, and in 1861 5.366. So that the chief thing this list of 821 parishes shows is, that in 1851 they had in them a large surplus of houses over population; and in 1861, although the ratio of surplus had been to some extent diminished, in some parishes by a decrease of houses, and in others by an increase of people, yet even then, as compared with the whole of England and Wales, these 821 parishes were still much overhoused as regarded their existing population.

Since the commencement of the New Poor Law there had been a most extraordinary shifting of the population of England. It arose from two causes—the refusal of out-door relief to able-bodied persons, and cheap railway transport. This had been the case, more or less, in almost every part of the country, and particularly in the West of England. But it ought to be observed that all this had arisen since, and was referable to, the operation of the New Poor Law, and was not the result of the old parochial system. When he (Mr. Knight) named such places as Devizes, Trowbridge, Great Bradford, Westbury, Warminster, Heytesbury, Ames-bury, Salisbury, Cricklade, Corsham, Chippenham, Calne, Beaminster, Bridport, Whitchurch, Shaftesbury, Sturminster, Shepton Mallet, Wiveliscombe, Milverton, Nailsea, Yatton, Ilminster, Chard, Crewkerne, South Petherton, Ilchester, Castle Gary, Wincauton, Glastonbury, Anbridge, Cheddar, Tiverton, Bath, Bathford, Ashburton, Dartmouth, Totnes, Axminster, Honiton, Topsham, Chudleigh, Okehampton, and Crediton, as among the many towns in the West of England in which houses, or population, or both, had decreased between the Census of 1841 and that of 1851, he (Mr. Knight) could not allow that a corresponding decrease in any small agricultural parishes in the district could fairly be attributed to any other cause than a general resettling of the population under a new order of things, occasioned in great part by the action of the prohibitory order of the New Poor Law. It would be monstrous to assert that the diminution in houses or people in the towns he had named had been caused by a conspiracy on the part of the landlords to ease the poor rates, and that argument was equally false when applied to small parishes affected in like manner.

The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the Bill, had named the several Committees which had applied themselves to the subject of areas of rating. All the arguments brought forward in favour of an extension of the area of rating had turned on two points—first, the great injustice of inequality of rating; and, secondly, the close parish system—a term invented since the New Poor Law. But the injustice of inequality was not done away with by this Bill; because, whether it was a parish or a union that paid 6d., while another parish or union paid 5s., the great injustice of inequality remained the same. For his own part, when complaint was made of the inequality of rating, he confessed he did not see, when a property was purchased or inherited, why the purchaser or descendant should take what he had not purchased, or his predecessor did not possess before him.

He (Mr. Knight) should next consider the close parish case, which was a new term invented since the New Poor Law by the Poor Law officials. He (Mr. Knight) had gone most carefully into the matter, and would show the House that no evidence was before the country of the existence of a system of demolishing cottages in small parishes for the sake of diminishing the poor rates. Nothing could be so easy for the Poor Law Board as to name the parishes in which this bad taken place, if it really had done so; but in all the parishes they had so named at different times the contrary was proved, as the census showed that in almost every instance cottages bad increased in the parishes accused of having destroyed them. He (Mr. Knight) would examine seriatim the various attempts of the Poor Law Board to impress this House and the country with the idea that such a system existed.

The first attempt was made before Mr. Charles Buller's Committee in 1847. Many Poor Law officials came forward to detail the horrors of the system, but as they did not give the names of the parishes they afforded no clue by which their assertions could be verified. Mr. Hall, one of the Poor Law Inspectors, took a different course. He said he did not believe that cottages had been pulled down, and produced in support of his opinion the following facts:—Mr. Hall's district comprised 44 unions, 24 of which contained no close parish. In the other 20 unions, 76 close parishes existed. Between 1831 and 1841, houses in these 76 close parishes had increased 11 per cent, population had increased 9 per cent. In only 6 parishes out of the 76 had houses decreased. Mr. Hall gave the names of each parish and the figures for the census. This was the only real evidence given on the close parish case before the Committee of 1847. All the rest was mere outcry. Neither Mr. Charles Buller nor the Committee were satisfied. They passed a resolution for union rating, but determined it should not be reported to the House. After the sitting of that Committee, Mr. Buller sent eight Poor Law Inspectors into the country to see whether the close parish system existed or not They were sent into 14 different counties, and the result was printed. He (Mr. Knight) had spent several months in working out the results, which he had placed before the House in a private pamphlet in 1854. The extracts from the census therein contained showing the number of houses and persons in the parishes selected by the Commissioners as close parishes, showed that houses had largely increased in most of them. As a consequence Mr. Baines, in bringing forward his Motion for union rating, gave up the close parish case, and the charge of pulling down cottages. The number of close parishes reported on was 247, and the increase of the houses in those parishes was 44 per cent. The increase of the population in the same period was very much less. The most curious thing in this inquiry was, that the amount of real property rated to the property tax between 1815 and 1843, in the parishes which were said to have been injured by having population driven into them by the close parishes, had increased immensely, while in the close parishes it had increased very little indeed. In 40 open parishes the increase had been 56 per cent, while in the corresponding close parishes the increase had been only 5 per cent, and throughout in similar proportion. The cause for this was obvious, for, assuming the old division of agricultural produce to be correct, and that one-third went to the labourers, that proportion must have been spent by them in those open parishes in which they lived. The theory put forward on the management of property was, that one-third of the gross produce of a farm went to the rent, one-third to labour, and one-third to the farmer. Now, if there could be imagined a district of 30,000 acres, in which the cottages were pulled down, and the labourers driven into an adjoining parish, one-third of the whole produce of the district must be spent in that parish; and it would become thriving at the expense of the other parishes. There was no instance of a town which complained of the poor being driven in on them that was not benefited. For instance, the town of Spalding complained that it was injured by being made the place of residence of the labouring population of a large neighbouring extra-parochial district called Deeping Fen; but, on inquiry, it was found that more than £10,000 a year was carried in to Spalding by people who earned their wages in Deeping Fen. Within a short period the valuation of that town had trebled, and it was quite clear that the increase was in no small degree owing to the £10,000 which had been so brought into Spalding from Deeping Fen for a great many years.

The close parish case appeared to be dead as regarded the charge of pulling down cottages, and remained so for some years. It was, however, resuscitated in 1860 by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Villiers), on his becoming Chairman of the Irremovable Poor Committee. He (Mr. Villiers) brought forward witnesses who re-asserted the old cry of pulling down houses, &c. The Committee, however, refused to listen to such statements unless the names of the parishes were given, and evidence of the number of houses in each of such parishes, at every census since 1801, was afterwards given before the Committee. Five close parishes were spoken of near Lowth; but it appeared that in 1801 the number of houses in them was 82; in 1841, 151; and in 1851, 171; one was mentioned near Wakefield, in which the houses at those periods were 10, 9, and 9; two near Royston, in which the houses were 18, 44, and 64; four near Lincoln, in which the houses were 109, 173, and 206; one near Sunderland, in which the houses were 55, 78, and 86; five near Leeds, in which the houses were 523, 899,and 1,018; five near Birkenhead, in which the houses were 82, 94, and 100; five near Chesterfield, in which the houses were 653,867, and 1,086; in only two out of the whole of the close parishes brought forward before this Committee had houses decreased. The increase of houses in those parishes from 1801 to 1841 was 51 per cent; and from 1841 to 1851 22 per cent. No failure could have been more calamitous than that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers') wit- nesses in their attempt to show to the Irremovable Committee the existence of close parishes in which houses had been destroyed. He (Mr. Knight) maintained that the charge of pulling down houses in close parishes had been disproved in every case, and the right hon. Gentleman had no right to bring the charge forward again without fresh proofs, of which, however, it appeared he had none to give. The whole charge appeared to be a false and an invented one. There was one more Committee of which Mr. Villiers had spoken—namely, his own Committee, which reported in 1864, having taken evidence for three years, but they took no evidence on the subject of the extension of the area of rating throughout the country. The Chairman, in his draft Report, referred to it as a subject out of their sphere, as not having been specifically referred to them; yet, at the last moment, he (Mr. Villiers) placed three new Members on the Committee, who were known to be much in favour of union rating, but who had taken no part whatever in the proceedings of the Committee. One of these new Members proposed a clause in favour of union rating, and carried it without its having reference to any part of the evidence taken by the Committee, or to its former proceedings.

The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. P. Villiers), in his opening speech, had attributed to the parochial system a great many abuses which did not belong to it. No doubt it would be in the recollection of many hon. Members that the chief evils sought to be remedied by the Act of 1834 were not occasioned by the parochial system. In 1794, there was great distress for food, and the country was in great danger; alterations were made in the Poor Law, with the unanimous consent of Parliament. It was then that much that was complained of in 1834 arose. What was granted to the poor as a favour in 1794, was revoked by Parliament in 1834. But the parochial system had gone on for 200 years without any of the grievances which were attributed to it in 1834. As they were now talking about having another Committee, he thought it was but right that the House should know that all attempts which had been made to prove the close parish system of pulling down houses had been perfectly futile. It was clear that two-thirds of the ratepayers of England would be injured by this Bill. I was quite clear that the ratepayers, as a body, would not be benefited by it, and he thought it was equally clear that the Bill would be of no advantage to the poor. The only persons who would benefit by it were the officials of Gwyder House. Those officials had as yet held their position by a precarious tenure, That sister establishment, the Board of Health, which had intended to lord it over the towns in the same way as the Poor Law Board sought to lord it over the parishes, had been swept away, and Gwyder House felt that the question might also come to be asked—What was the use of that establishment? It was not improbable that some future financial reformer would bring before the House the useless expenditure which took place at Gwyder House. It might be easy to prove that thousands of letters were written on such weighty matters as whether or not a pauper boy was to have a pair of new breeches. But that was not sufficient to justify its continued existence. There was little or nothing for that large and expensive establishment to do. The officials knew that as long as the parochial areas and parochial officers existed there would be no difficulty in returning to a cheaper and less centralized system of poor relief. And if, instead of millions of surplus some future year should show a deficit, the Poor Law Board might be thought a proper item to be struck out of the Estimates; but if they could succeed in smashing up the parishes, they thought that they would be sure of their salaries for the space of their natural lives. This, then, was the real cause of all the false statements that had been made about close parishes and pulling down cottages, and this was the foundation of the present Bill.


said, that as the House had refused to hear the last speaker, he now begged to move the adjournment of the debate.


seconded the Motion for the adjournment, seeing that the debate had now (half-past eleven) been continued for nearly seven hours.

Motion made, and Question proposed "That the Debate be now adjourned.—(Sir Rainald Knightley.)


thought it a rather strong measure for the hon. Baronet to come there at a late hour—for he had not seen him in the House before—and at once propose the adjournment of the debate. They had been busily discussing that mat- ter, and although more had been said upon it than some perhaps might have wished to hear, still they had been patiently listening. It was said that some speeches were made to waste time, yet he was unwilling to believe it; but if an hon. Baronet came in about eleven to move the adjournment of the debate, it looked as if some such intention really existed. He hoped the Motion for the adjournment would be withdrawn. ["No, no!"]


said, that like the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Villiers) he had been present during the whole of the debate, and he must say it was impossible for anybody to attempt to speak in the state in which the House had been without any endeavour that he had seen on the part of the Government to keep order. If the hon. Baronet had not risen to move the adjournment he would have moved it himself. He wanted to speak on the question, and the course which the debate had taken made it the more necessary that somebody should speak, because a great deal of fresh matter had been introduced. But it required a hardy man to attempt to speak when it was perfectly certain that not one word would be heard. The only way in which a minority could protect themselves when the majority did not exert themselves to preserve decent order, was by moving the adjournment. Considering how thin the House had been, hardly a man, he believed, could recollect such a scene as they had had for the last half hour.


was sure the House would listen willingly to the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire.


said, that when the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) addressed the House he naturally was compelled to go into details at considerable length—["Order, order!"]—and he was met by the greatest interruption he ever recollected being offered in that House between the hours of eleven and twelve. His speech was, consequently, considerably shortened. As the House had thereby been entirely prevented from giving its attention to what an old official had to say upon the subject, he thought the hon. Baronet was right in moving the adjournment of the debate.

Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned," put.

The House divided:—Ayes 80; Noes 174: Majority 94.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, although he had not been present during the whole of the debate, he had been in the House a sufficient time to appreciate the injustice that had been done to the arguments of his hon. Colleague. He had also been able to appreciate the strong exertions which the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair had made to preserve the impartiality of debate. He therefore moved the adjournment of the House.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Lygon.)


I do not exactly understand the purport of the observations of the lion. Member who has just sat down, but I must say that I observed that Gentlemen on the other side of the House have shown considerable impatience during the course of the debate as well as those on this side. ["No, no!" "Hear, hear!"]


said, the interruptions which had taken place had been of a most unseemly character. ["Oh, oh!"] He begged leave to differ entirely from the right hon. Gentleman, as the unseemly interruptions appeared to him to come exclusively from the Government Benches. ["Oh, oh!" Hear, hear!"]


said, that one of the most disorderly Members in the House was a Member of the Government. ["Hear, hear!" "No, no!" and cries of "Name!"] He referred to the noble Lord the Member for the Wick district. ["Hear, hear!"]


observed, that if the hon. Member for South Northamptonshire and some few of his Friends chose to persevere in these Motions for adjournment they all knew what was the power of a small majority in such a case. Under these circumstances, he would agree to the adjournment of the debate. [Cries of "Go on!"]


thought it was much to be regretted, and it was also matter of surprise, that on a subject like the one which had been under consideration such a scene should have taken place as had occurred in the House that night; and he must, after the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the leader of the House say, with the greatest respect for him, that if the leader of the House had at an early moment risen to order and appealed to Gentlemen on both sides, and particularly to those on his own, this scene, which was not much to the credit of the House, needed not to have occurred. It was now, of course, quite impossible to proceed with the business, and as the Government were of that opinion also it was unnecessary to prolong the debate; but the House would recollect that if there was a subject which not only demanded, but which would have induced much discussion it was the one which had occupied their attention during that evening; and, on the part of the Members on the Opposition side, he must deny the charge that the attempt to oppose interruption to the debate originated with that side.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Mr. Lygon,)—put, and negatived.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that as the Question had now come back to its original position, he would move the adjournment of the debate, which Motion, he believed, the Government were ready to agree to. [Cries of "No!" and "Go on!"]


agreed to the Motion, as he thought it impossible to proceed further with the discussion at present.

Debate adjourned till Monday next.