HC Deb 15 May 1865 vol 179 cc303-71

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [11th May], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," and which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That" 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 again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


Sir, I think it right for the information of those Members who may not have been in the House on Thursday night to say a word or two respecting what took place on that occasion. The Cabinet Minister who has charge of the Bill, directly accused—in plain terms—those who were speaking on the Motion for going into Committee, of a design to obstruct this Bill unduly. I wish there fore to recall to the recollection of the House how the case stands. Some time in February, I think it was on the 23rd, this Bill was introduced. On the Motion for the second reading an Amendment was moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Rainald Knightley) for the purpose of postponing the Bill for a year. A debate and division took place on the Amendment; but no debate was taken on the Motion for the second reading. Now, I beg the House to observe that if it had been the object of the parties opposing this Bill to delay its progress, it would have been perfectly competent to them to raise a debate on the second reading, and so prolong the discussions. But what took place on the other side? In bringing this Bill under the notice of the House the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. C. P. Villiers) took the most unusual course of quoting from official papers not in the hands of the Members of this House. He quoted those papers in the very strongest language, language which, if it had been borne out by facts, I do not hesitate to say must have made any one to whom it applied feel very uncomfortable. But was that all? What was the state of the case with regard to the Report so quoted? It was a Report ordered by Act of Parliament to be laid on the table of this House in the month of March. What I am now about to say does not concern the practice of this House, but it does concern the practice of the Department from which the document itself conies. The right hon. Gentleman quoted it on the second reading of the Bill, and he said, "It is before the House, but I don't know whether it is printed." Those were his words, or his words were to that effect. The truth is this. The Report had been presented in what in official language is called "dummy." Well, the right hon. Gentleman out of that Re port made a most damaging statement affecting a large portion of the community. The right hon. Gentleman stated that he hoped to get on with the Bill on the 27th of April, but when that day arrived the Scotch Members took possession of the House, and as they generally stand firm to anything they have in hand, they would not give way. However, on the 20th of April the Report was printed; on that day it was delivered in the library of the House. The 20th of April was in the recess, and Members are not, I believe, in the habit of resorting to the library during the recess. I do not know whether it is open or not; but on the same day there appeared a sensation article, with large quotations from the Report, in the leading journal. Now that is hardly fair play to this House. If it was a Report dealing with other matters, the House would neither have said or thought anything about it; but there is not a passage of that Re port from the beginning—including the remarks of Dr. Hunter and Dr. Simon—which does not by implication, and in some instances actually by word, refer to the measure now before the House. We had, I [repeat, no opportunity of seeing that damaging Report, and surely when such a state of things exists it is not un reasonable that we should now seek to answer its charges. I think it is a little strong for a Cabinet Minister to say it is obstruction that we are now discussing the measure, when we could not have done so in an earlier stage in consequence of those most monstrous assertions not having been sooner laid before us. I use strong expressions, but I hope before I sit down, if I have physical strength, I shall be able to justify them. I trust the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) did not think me discourteous on Thursday night when I loudly cheered his remark that the Report not only did not support, but absolutely contradicted the statements of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Villiers). It is but fit that we should defend ourselves when we are lying under this scandal—for it is nothing else; not brought against us by the accident of debate, but deliberately by a Cabinet Minister, before we had had an opportunity of seeing the Report. I think it is a little too strong that the right hon. Gentleman should not only make the charge against us of obstructing the Bill, but, for all we know, let loose the press upon us into the bargain. An other matter intimately connected with the charge of obstruction is this—the other night there were two Motions before the House; one, which was debated for two or three hours, was in reference to alteration in the size of the unions. Not one single man who touched upon that point ventured to say—indeed, I believe, no man can say—that the unions are convenient in size. The right hon. Gentleman met us by saying he had plenty of power to make the necessary alteration; but he did not venture to say that the unions were convenient in size. I do not think he could screw himself up so far as to make such an assertion. It is well that the question should be raised, because if this power were necessary it ought to be so fenced and guarded as to prevent—I do not say this Minister, because I do not know that he is worse than others; but any Minister, I will not say from jobbing, but from having the imputation of jobbing east upon him in consequence of changes he might make. Another subject for remark is that the question we are de bating, the Motion for Inquiry, is not made by a Member hostile to the Bill. The hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson) who proposes that the subject be referred to a Select Committee, sits on the same side as the right hon. Gentleman. But what took place during the debate the other evening? The most conflicting statements almost that, could be made were put forward upon that occasion. The right hon. Gentleman in bringing in the Bill based his statements on the Report and on a certain state of things he alleged existed at the Docking Union, in Norfolk. Now, the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) made statements as to that union completely at, variance with those made by the right hon. Gentleman. Surely, under such circumstances, some inquiry into the matter is necessary. Again, with regard to Yorkshire, the hon. Member for Devon-port (Mr. Ferrand) stated that wages were paid out of the rates. Now, that was a most important statement, and was not likely to be overlooked by those who have known what, the inconvenience of that system was forty or fifty years ago, and who would, therefore, feel some consider able apprehension at its introduction into other parts of the country. How was that statement met? The hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) gave it a positive denial, and challenged the hon. Member to support his allegation by proof. There is a considerable difference between these Gentlemen, but I suppose we may take it that if the wages are not paid out of the rates, rates are paid in aid of wages which comes to nearly the same thing. But surely, when there are such conflicting statements, the matter becomes a legitimate object for inquiry? Now, I say that these are all legitimate subjects for inquiry. I must, at the rish of wearying the House, venture to draw their attention to this Report, which has been relied on by the Government in the course of the debate as a sort of great battle-horse. I feel strongly on the subject, and I trust the House will excuse me if I refer at some length to the Report. The charges contained in that Report are so grave that, if true, no man would like to show his face while under them; but, as I believe they are not true, I can only say for my self—old as I am, and half-worn out—if I could do nothing else when such charges are made I would lie upon my back and halloo "Fudge" as loud as I could. I am myself the owner of property, and I feel I could never again raise my head if fairly open to such charges. Not one tittle of evidence has been brought forward in support of these charges; on the contrary, the evidence adduced in their support has totally disproved them. The Report is made by a Dr. Hunter, under Dr. Simon, who is in some way connected with the Privy Council, That Report, if not intentionally kept back, at all events was not in the possession of hon. Members until the period I have mentioned—it was not circulated among them until after it had been made use of by Government. Now, in the introduction to that Report, Dr. Simon says— Especially within the last twenty or thirty years this evil"—(that is to say the evil of taking down cottages)—"has been in very rapid increase, and the household circumstances of the labourer are now in the highest degree deplorable. Whether he shall find house-room on the land which he continues to till, whether the house-room which he gets shall be human or swinish, whether he shall have the little space of garden that so vastly lessens the pressure of his poverty—all this does not depend on his willingness and ability to pay reasonable rent for the decent accommodation he requires, but depends on the use which others may see fit to make of their right to do as they will with their own."—p. 9. Pretty strong language. The charge which is made is not that there had been a deficiency of houses or an indisposition to build on the part of landlords, but that there has been a constant and untiring de struction of cottages. This is not a very pleasant charge, but we all of us fall so far short of the full performance of our duty that no man could complain if another said to him, "You ought to have spent so much more upon this or that than you have done;" or, "Out of your income you might have done so much more in one direction or another." That would be a matter of opinion, and I certainly should not say a word against it. But this Report goes a great deal further. It says—and in this the hon. Member for Bradford will bear me out—that for thirty years there has been, throughout the length and breadth of the land, a wilful, wanton, and unsparing destruction of cottages.


said, that he understood the Report to apply that charge specially to the eastern and midland counties, and not to the length and breadth of the land.


I am willing to narrow it to the midland counties, but the Report does not so confine the charge. In almost the next sentence Dr. Simon speaks of the landlords who exercise this power. He says they have but to resolve and there would be no labourers' dwellings on their estates. Another pretty strong statement. The hon. Member for Bradford says that this language only applies to a few counties in the kingdom. I wish I could think that that was the case; but Dr. Simon not only quotes Dr. Hunter's views, but he adopts his figures, and about those there can be no mistake. Dr. Hunter's figures extend to all the counties. There is a table showing the amount of what is called "unnecessary demolition" in each, and therefore it cannot be said that these observations apply to only a part of the country. But that is not all. Dr. Simon in his Report says that certain counties in the middle of England, which he names, are worse than others, and when he speaks of one being better or worse than another it is clear that he does not mean to exclude those with which the comparison is instituted. Dr. Hunter states that he was ordered in 1864 to make an examination into the cottage accommodation in every county, and he goes on to say that he was not to undertake this labour for what he calls "the elaboration of the views of others," but that he was to re port upon sight and measure. No mode of dealing with a subject could have been more satisfactory than that, if the gentle man would but have confined himself to what he saw, and drawn his conclusions from facts ascertained by his own observation; but it was impossible to read this Report without coming to the conclusion that it was done to order—that was to say that a certain point had to be established, and that bits of reports were picked up here and bits there, and things were fished out everywhere where it was possible in order to bolster up preconceived opinions. Dr. Hunter makes a very remarkable distinction as to the people who live out of towns. He says that the agricultural labourers remain in the towns, but the rural labourers are being swept away, and that the smaller close parishes are mere show places, and he goes on to say that this has been effected by unsparing destruction. The House will see that this is not a question whether or not a man builds sufficiently to meet the wants of an increasing population. The accusation is that throughout the length and breadth of England, especially in the midland counties, the people are driven out by the unsparing destruction of cottages. Now, if I show to the House, as I think I can, that not only is that not true, but that it is the reverse of the truth in the very places to which Dr. Hunter refers, I think that we have reason to complain that the right hon. Gentleman should so recklessly have brought forward this Report and should have done it at a moment when it would have time to fester in the public mind, and when it was impossible that it should be looked at, to say nothing about its being answered. I repeat I think that that was hardly fair. This Report was commented upon by the right hon. Gentleman before we had it, and he then paid that the poor were compelled by this demolition of houses to live in a brutal manner. Therefore he adopts Dr. Hunter's facts and conclusions, and upon the second reading he said that Dr. Hunter had paid great attention to facts—that is how he drives in the nail and clinches it—and that the Report would be read with suprise and sorrow. I con fess that I did read it with both surprise and sorrow, but I have given myself some trouble to analyze the facts which are stated in it, and have ascertained that its assertions are not well founded, and there fore my sorrow has passed away, though my surprise remains. Dr. Hunter goes on to say—and this shows how necessary it is that the House should attend to time in this matter—that up to 1837 the rural population—that is, those who live in villages, not those who live; in towns—maintained a rate of increase, and there fore it is clear that he means to intimate that since 1837 there has been an additional demolition of houses. "The cause," he says, "is parochial settlement. The charge of relief being upon each parish, the law of settlement tempts to pull down." But if there has been no pulling down, what becomes of the temptation? But there is no proof what ever of pulling down, not a vestige; therefore what becomes of the temptation? This gentleman cannot have been very well informed upon the subject of parochial settlement law. I am speaking now in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the President of the Poor Law Board, and they are both aware that the changes which were introduced into the Poor Laws about 1835 or 1836 very much diminished any inducement which might then exist to get rid of cottages. At that time, if a girl came into a parish to which she did not belong, and had an illegitimate child, because the kid was dropped in your parish you had to be accountable for it, that was done away with about the time which I have mentioned, as were also settlements ac quired by paying rates for a cottage, how ever low the rent, and by hiring and service. It is, therefore, astonishing that two learned pundits, both having the prefix of "doctor" to their names, should fix upon that time as the period at which something happened which increased the temptation to commit these inhuman acts. It seems to me, I confess, a little odd that these gentlemen should have pitched upon this particular time to make statements so ill-advised and so reckless, and I certainly feel it a very ungracious duty to have thus to comment upon their Re port. Let me not, however, in making those comments, be supposed at all to deny that in almost every part of the country, in the large towns as well as in the rural villages, in this great city itself, there is not much in the habitations of the poor to shock every man of right feeling—much one could wish to be amended, but which one is powerless to relieve. But then the question we have now to consider is not whether there is more or less distress in the rural districts or in towns, or whether there is not more than is desirable of it in both; the question with which we have to deal is whether that distress has been in any way caused or aggravated, not by the fact that houses were not built, but by the circumstance that they have been unsparingly pulled down. There are many curious things in this Report of Dr. Hunter which I should, when more at leisure, wish to examine more closely; such, for instance, as the archaeological question which he raises at its commencement with reference to over hanging houses like those at Chester, which he tells us he ascertained, by an examination of the soil beneath, were used as closets; such, too, as the questions whether there ought to be two or three rooms in a cottage; whether it was better the windows should open or slide, and what the number of closets should be, it being laid down with much precision that every four houses should have one accommodation of that kind. But, passing over those points, I come to grapple with the more important statements which Dr. Hunter makes on this Report. He says that the rural population of England continued to increase during the reign of George III and until 1837. That then a migration or expulsion set in and they began gradually wasting away, and he refers to the disappearance of scores of cottages on thousands of estates. He adds that the agricultural labourers were flying to the towns, not for work, but for residence, and that they were not attracted by the prosperity of the towns, but driven there for that purpose. Now mark the animus of that statement which I think I shall be able to show the House is absolutely untrue—the attempts to fix this odious charge not on the parishes but on the owners of the estates. There are, I may add, other equally strong statements, and here I would observe that Dr. Hunter refers to various agricultural reports, and especially to the census, the notes of which he looks upon as peculialy valuable for his purpose. We shall see presently the value he himself sets upon the census. Another sample of the animus of this Report may be found in the statement that every attempt made by the farm labourer to render himself independent of his employer had been too often met by imputation on his honour or on his industry. The labourer's cows have been within this century nearly extinguished, his pig was frequently condemned, and his garden seemed likely to follow—common rights heretofore of which he had been in this and the last generation deprived. But let us see how he proceeds. He tells us that their gar dens are taken away from the agricultural labourers. Here, again, we have a very explicit statement; but then he does not give us a single instance of a man's garden being taken from him. On the contrary, every page of the Report tends to show that the allotment system had become general. What honesty—for I can use no other word—is there, I would ask, under those circumstances, in making-such insinuations as that which I have just brought under the notice of the House? If Dr. Hunter means that, owing to the constant increase in the population, people go to live where gardens cannot be had, why does he not say so? That, however, which he would throughout lead the reader of this Report to believe is that the pulling down of houses is carried on to a considerable extent, and that it is a consequence that persons are obliged to go elsewhere. Having said thus much on the general question, I would now, with the permission of the House, enter some what more into detail, and I would take the liberty of remarking, that I wish every county Member had worked out his own county as I have done mine (Oxfordshire). It is only by facts that such general statements as those to which I have been adverting can be met. As to the general statements that are made, you can take the figures and show that they are not true. But with respect to the particular statements, a man can only speak of what he knows in connection with his own neighbourhood. Dealing with Oxfordshire, Dr. Hunter cites a number of instances in which he says the destruction of cottages has taken place. He names fourteen parishes in Oxfordshire in which he says houses have been unnecessarily demolished. He, however, does not give a single instance of a house having been pulled down in any one of the places he has visited. This, therefore, is a gratuitous assertion, founded on something which he has somewhere heard or read. I should have thought that before making a statement of that kind a man would have had recourse to the information which he had ready to his hand, in order to ascertain what was the truth. Now, let me tell the House what has been the state of Stanton Harcourt, said by Dr. Hunter to be one of those close villages which take the labour of the poor but decline to give them shelter or take the burden of their sickness or old age. During the last thirty years, during which time we are told this terrible work has been going on. Stanton Harcourt, as everybody knows who knows Oxfordshire, is the property of the Harcourt family. In 1831 there were in that place 117 houses, in 1841 the number was 143, in 1851 it was 141, and in 1861 it was 142. With these figures upon the face of the census I say that it is perfectly monstrous that a gentleman should not avail himself of this information before scattering abroad such charges as these, which are very painful charges, to some people. But that is not all which this gentleman has done for my county. He begins his essay, as I may call it, with reference to my county in a very curious manner, and I will venture to read an extract of it to the House. This gentle man, it must be remembered, deals very much in foot-notes. Now, he refers to a report which was published in an agricultural journal by a Mr. Reed. I had the pleasure of knowing that gentleman during the ten or twelve years he resided in our county, hut I know that Mr. Reed has fallen into a mistake upon the subject. Mr. Reed states that the unfortunate policy of our settlement law offers inducements for the demolition of cottages in places where they were urgently required; but I do not think from what he knew of the county that he could say that such was the case with reference to Oxfordshire. The report goes on to say that farmers are so short-sighted as to object to have cottages upon their farms. Let us come to the foot-note. In it the writer alluded to what he called the demolition of a certain place. I suppose he (Dr. Hunter) thinks that Mr. Heed's report does not go far enough, and so he will give it a little help, and so the foot-note quotes Southey's Doctor and Whitehead's verses upon the demolitions at Nuneham. Now, any one would have thought that when a man was dealing with transactions of 80 or 100 years ago lie would have been careful to quote only what would give a true view of the case. Common honesty would have required that. I have taken the trouble to consult Southey's Doctor, but I could not find the chapter until the right hon. Gentleman opposite was kind enough to give me a reference to the particular chapter. Mr. Heed states that the law of settlement operates as an inducement to the demolition of cottages, and then Dr. Hunter refers to transactions which took place eighty years ago—in 1785, before I was born. Now, what was the transaction at Nuneham that he refers to? It was not the demolition of cottages, but the removal of a village. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer knows Ox fordshire almost as well as I do, and probably he knows that in respect of cottage accommodation, considering the period at which the cottages were built, there are few villages which can rival Nuneham. What honesty can there be in quoting things in this way calculated to give pain to many. Then as to Whitehead's poem. I do not know whether the inscription remains in the grounds at Nuneham, but I believe it was a fugitive piece, and written very much upon this foundation. At the time of the removal of the village, when the church was rebuilt and other improvements were made, there was one woman who entertained a deep regard for the cottage in which she had been born and lived for many years. She also felt an attachment for a particular tree which now goes by her name in the grounds at Nuneham. Was this old woman turned out topsyturvy without any regard to her feelings? Not at all. She was allowed to remain, and her cottage was permitted to stand during her lifetime, and it was not until after her death that the cottage was finally removed. The last Lord died in 1830. Therefore, this statement or innuendo is made in bad taste, if not with bad feeling, to fix a charge upon people who are dead and gone. The only excuse which I can imagine for such a proceeding is that as every one who knows this family knows also the great care and the vast sums of money which they have expended to make everybody about them comfortable, probably this gentleman knowing that thought he could do them no harm, and might, perhaps, point his weapon a little sharper against other people. But I think that such conduct is unjustifiable on the part of any man, and I think it is also unjustifiable for a Minister to bring such a thing into the House. The right hon. Gentleman makes a face, but it is true. When a Minister produces such a work as this, and quotes it in order to base upon it a great measure, I say it is unjustifiable. Now, coming to other matters connected with my own county, I have already stated that this gentleman names fourteen parishes in Oxfordshire where he says houses have been demolished and unnecessarily demo lished. I will give the House the facts as to these cases. In order to prove a case, which would be one of cruelty and great hardship if it were true, the gentle man quotes figures to prove a decline between 1851 and 1861. My hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) the other night told us there was such a thing as short statistics, and they are very suitable for a case like this to justify the statement of the Government that in 821 parishes these dreadful trans actions have been going on sweeping away the people from their homes. The House appeared staggered—and no wonder—by the statement, made with the full weight of a Government announcement. My hon. Friend immediately moved for a Return of those parishes, and my hon. Friend knowing all about these short statistics, and how they could be drawn up and used to effect a particular purpose, required to have the state of the case in respect of these places from 1801. So now we have no short statistics, but all the facts of the case as to the 14 parishes in my county which this gentleman has referred to of which five were in no way close. In 1801 the number of houses in those 14 parishes was 658; in 1831 it was 870; and in 1861, 885. What foundation, then, is there for these charges? I cannot use in this House language which ought to be applied to such conduct on the part of those making them. A re ference is also made to Ossington, a place with which I believe you, Sir, (Mr. Speaker), are well acquainted. This gentleman tells us that he heard that there had been many houses pulled down there. If he had taken the trouble to refer to the census he would have found that since 1831 there has been a large increase in the number of houses in that place. I do not see why the same system should not have been applied to us small fish as was applied to the large ones. "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." In fact, the gentleman ought to have been more careful with us, seeing that we should have difficulty in bearing the odium. In these 14 parishes I have given the houses, I will now give the population. The people in 1801 were 3,239; in 1831 they were 4,125; and in 1861 they had risen to 4,460. The number of persons in a house was at both periods almost the same to a fraction. Then what comes of the case against my county? Time has not permitted me to go through all the other counties, but I have gone through the seven midland counties, which are selected as the worst, Bedfordshire, Bucks, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Berkshire. In each county certain parishes are named as having had the houses in them diminished. I find that in Bedfordshire in the parishes named as those in which the houses had diminished the number of houses in 1801 was 417; in 1831, 575; and in 1861, 717. In the county of Bucks the number of houses in the parishes named was 340 in 1801; 437 in 1831; and in 1861, 452. In Warwickshire the number rose from 964 in 1801 to 1,163 in 1831, and 1,234 in 1861. In Worcestershire the numbers are 927, 1,205, and 1,314. In Oxford shire, 658, 807, and 816. In Northamptonshire, 425, 621, and 703. In every case where he had stated a decrease there had been an increase, and these are the parishes in regard to which such dreadful accusations have been made against hundreds and thousands of gentlemen. Every instance which he cites to prove his case, in fact, disproves it. There is hardly a case in any county in which, after visiting 10 or 20 parishes, he can find any additional proof of his assertions. In Berkshire, which neighbours me—and in cases of this kind I always like to look to my neighbours, Berks and Backs, for I know that, if the fire is burning there, it will not be long before it gets to me—the numbers have risen from 816 in 1801 to 965 in 1831, and 1,070 in 1861. Before I leave my own county I should like to say a few words more that may exhaust the question. I am sorry to weary the House by all these details, but I feel deeply on the matter, and I believe there is not a gentleman in England who knows that this charge has been made against him but feels in the same manner. It would be worse if it were true, but it is bad enough that such a charge should be made without the slightest foundation. The gentleman has named three parishes in my county. In the parish in which I live there were 41 houses in 1831, 46 in 1841, 43 in 1851, 45 in 1861, and 61 in 1865. We have a hamlet where they only give two houses, though there have always been five; but that is accounted for by the fact that there are two houses each containing two tenements, and the only farmhouse in the hamlet is just on the borders of the parish. In Wood-Eaton 16 houses had become 18. In Elsefield 37 houses have risen to 42. I have referred to Stanton Harcourt, but the report as to these three parishes is equally base less. But the report is as untrue in its general statements as it is in its particular statements. We have a Return relating to 821 different parishes, and I will show the House that the whole of that Return is as untrue as the particular instances I have cited. Perhaps it is not of much consequence, though it is something—for, when a Return like this is quoted by a Minister of the Crown in his place in Parliament, one's mind naturally asks in what proportion of all the parishes does this horrible practice which is attributed to us exist—but, as a matter of fact, of these 821 parishes 325 are not parishes at all, but only hamlets or townships. The Registrar General is a particular man, and in the Return he gives he puts a little "t," "h," or "c," to show that the place is a township, hamlet, chapelry, and so on. Now in this Return of 821 parishes, if you strike out uninhabited houses, it is in- correct to the amount of 32 per cent even from 1851 to 1861, but when you come to the period of 30 years during which, he says, the great proportion of landowners carried on this cruel practice, it is more incorrect still. I have had this long Re turn added up, and it stands thus. In 1831, in all these 821 parishes spread over to counties there were 57,858 houses, and in 1861, 66,380. I ask the right hon. Gentleman what reliance is to be placed upon such a statement? This gentleman said that that state of things began in 1815, at the time when the Corn Laws were imposed. But what the Corn Laws has to do with the matter no one can tell. Why had lie not gone back to the period which he himself had selected, but which would not have given him a peg to hang his argument on from beginning to end? I will now refer to three counties in particular. In Derbyshire the increase in the number of houses was 20, but the number of people had decreased by 17. In Kent the houses had increased by 77, but the population had decreased by 2. In Northumberland, the county in which the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department resides, the houses had decreased by 117, and the people by 748, probably owing to matters connected with employment in the mining districts. In all the other cases there had been an in crease in the houses and the people. The right hon. Gentleman will therefore see that his own figures are conclusively against him. No doubt he has heard what he states; cock-and-bull stories have been told to him, and probably he has people in the Poor Law Office who go about open mouthed, and the result is that he has introduced charges which never ought to have been brought forward. They never have been brought forward on any occasion without being disproved. On one occasion it was stated that something of this kind had taken place near Beading. An hon. Member instituted inquiries on the subject, and it turned out that no houses had been pulled down. The gentleman who had made the charge then said, "Well, maybe no houses were pulled down, but I heard it and I believed it." Now, how can you deal with such customers? I want, how ever, to show the House what really is the state of the case. I have alluded to the value which the gentleman whose Report has been quoted sets on the census. In a foot note to the census returns for one county it is stated that in nine cases out of ten the decrease in the population is due to emigration. But what is this Gentleman's observation on that note? Why that the word "emigration" might be safely expunged, and the word "evictions" written in its stead. What right has he to say that in the face of the Registrar General's Report? Still less right has he to make use of his own remark on that foot-note for the purpose of establishing the case of this Rill. The statement of my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester shire (Mr. Knight) is quite satisfactory as far as it goes—namely, that the cases referred to are not general in the rural parts of the country, but confined to those villages visited by this gentlemen. Taking even what he calls the worst, the amount is not larger than in other places, and the comparisons he has drawn are not correct. In towns the humble working people do not live in houses, but in single rooms—in the country, in no case in less than two rooms—so that the comparison which this gentleman has made when he speaks of so many thousand houses is not quite fair. The comparison which is drawn in the Report between the small towns and the town of 45,000 houses docs not hold, though I find that the gentleman makes use of a descriptive term which I shall leave to be interpreted by one of the eminent Greek scholars on the other side. I find the term unalocula used in this Report, and I have no doubt it will be officially adopted, and that we shall have unalocula and multalocula constantly used in reference to the habitations of the poor. But the broad question is this—are the cottages pulled down? The truth is the cottages are not pulled down, and there is sufficient reason to account for the state of things connected with the population without this theory of pulling down. I am old enough to have lived through the great French war, and to remember the changes caused in my county through the effects of that war. I would ask the House to recollect that in my part of England we manufacture little or not at all. There is no employment except that which is derived from the land. Well, in Oxfordshire in 1801, the population was 111,000, and in 1861, it was 170,000, a very great increase. The increase of population from 1801 to 1811 was 7 percent; from 1811 to 1821, 15 percent; from 1821 to 1831 it went back to 11 percent; from 1831 to 1841 it was 6 per cent; from 1811 to 1851 5 per cent, and from 1851 to 1861 0.3 per cent. That is not the whole of the case. When the labouring population began to increase less rapidly, their condition began to improve in consequence of there being more employment for those who were willing to work. There are only two towns in Oxfordshire, except Oxford itself, of any importance—Banbury and Chipping Norton. In those three towns the increase of population between 1831 and 1841 was 4,399 out of a total increase of 9,000 for the whole county, leaving 5,000 for the agricultural parts of Oxfordshire. In the next decennial period the total increase was 7,000, of which 4,000 were in those three towns, leaving 3,000 for the agricultural parts. The results in the next decennial period were still more striking. Such being the state of things, was it just, was it reasonable, was it decent, to make the charges which were put forward in this case? There was a very curious statement in the Report with regard to the demolition of houses at a place called Charlton Marshall, in the county of Dorset. It is said that in 1857 it contained 167 houses, but in 1861 it only contained 124, some thing like 43 having been demolished between those periods, while the population increased from 463 to 553. The gentleman, however, much to my surprise, made no inquiry into the causes of this remarkable alteration. I, however, find that in 1831 there were only sixty-seven houses at Charlton Marshall, and in 1841 only ninety; therefore, it is very strange that the numbers should have jumped up to 167 in the next ten years, and down again to 124 in the last ten years. The right hon. Gentleman, in quoting the Re port, said that Dr. Simon frequently gave praise when it was due to those noblemen and gentlemen who had taken care of the interests of their labourers. But there is a kind of praise which damns, and I must say Dr. Simon does not give "clean" praise. He is continually making use of innuendoes; while pretending to approve the conduct of Lord Exeter and the Duke of Redford, he says the system they adopt is not perfect—I should much like to know what system is; that no attempt is made to sort the families to suit the accommodation afforded by the various dwellings. Did anybody ever hear such an absurdity? What a desire there must be on the part of the man who writes such stuff to scandalize everybody! He expresses his opinion that the cottages should be attached to the farms, and that they should all be made agricultural villages. What will become of the old and the infirm in that case? Why, they will be turned adrift, and the poor man who, although living honestly and decently, has but a small family, will be turned out to make room for those who have more children who can be made of use on the farm. This is a sort of handling which the poor man will scarcely be grateful for. I am glad to hear he approves the Berkshire cottages. Speaking of the cottages in Berkshire, he said— At Fenihampstead a gentleman had built excel lent small houses under the names of cottages, and is said to be about to pull down the old. It is feared the contemplated destruction of the houses will in the end drive the poor into towns. The new houses may not long remain in such hands. And again— On the Oxfordshire side cots have been destroyed and people driven four miles to seek lodgings in the country. Then, in reference to Basingstoke, he said— Cots go to ruin in hundreds, and families in crease everywhere, but it must not be concealed that the game preserver has reasons for disliking a full population, and the high value attached to game in this part of England has its influence in condensing the inhabitants of these counties with in the towns. Now, I am not a game preserver, but I cannot help being struck by the way in which this gentleman has gone out of his way to drag in everything into his Report that could produce an effect against land lords. I beg to know what proof this gentleman has offered, or can offer, in sup port of his statement. Let the House mark what this gentleman says as to the village of Broughton, in Lancashire— The excellent condition of the houses in Broughton and Barton is accompanied by a high degree of opulence and comfort not produced by the generosity or ostentation of the Lord, but the direct effect of the high value of the labourer. In the same page he states— In 1831 there were seventy-four houses in the manufacturing village of Nateby, but only three persons to a house; there are now sixty-two houses and six persons to a house. Now, what is the good of quoting that with any reference to an agricultural population? Here is another of his nasty in nuendoes. With reference to Bunworth, Pitsford, and Flone, in Northamptonshire, he says— If the village belonged to two or three rich men the wells would be deep, and deserve the popular name of everlasting, but the village would become a close one; no building would be al lowed; the failings of human nature would be prohibited and unforgiven; and the dreadful open village would have to form anew in all its misery on the nearest convenient space. The landlord has found it convenient to throw all his farms together into two or three. It simplifies the affair; fewer questions are raised; rents are more easily collected, and in his instinctive fond ness for land the farmer will pay more increase of rent than he can hope to get from his increase of land. The farm capital of the parish is reduced, loss food is raised, and employment gets scarce. The fields are full of thistles—there are more daisies than wheat—the barley is scarlet in June, and purple in August—and yet the people are idle in the streets. Soured by the sight of waste while they want, surrounded by crops of weed which their labour might have turned to fruit. While on the one side of the wall the field is crying out for labour, on the other side the baulked labourers lean looking longingly on the land. I Fevered in summer and half pined in winter, no wonder if, to use their own archaism, the parson and gentle folk 'seem frit to death at them.' I ask whether these passages do not war rant my assertion that it is a sensational Report, produced for the purpose of attaining a certain end. Whether it was got up to order or not I cannot tell, but if it were it could scarcely have been more highly coloured. A statement more un fair could hardly be made. It is as unjust as anything can possibly be. The true state of the ease is this. I believe at this moment there is no inducement to any body, and no desire on the part of any body, not to build. In the part of England in which I reside, and within a radius of twenty-five miles of my own house, demolition is, so far as I am aware, unknown, and it could not take place without my knowledge. I make that statement most unreservedly, and in the strongest possible terms. I have said what I have done, because the Government put this Report, unknown, unseen, and when it could not be answered, before the country and before the House; and I think that that fact, coupled with the contents of that Report, affords an ample justification for a demand for inquiry. It is the question of inquiry that we are now discussing; we are not debating whether we shall go into Committee on the Bill, but whether it shall be referred to a Select Committee. No man can be sure that he is right, but I have read this Report as carefully as I am capable of doing, and the time which I had to do it in would allow. The right hon. Gentleman must take a view of it entirely different from mine, or he would never have referred to it in the language which he used the other evening. The public press has written sensation articles commenting upon it, and we have a right, scandalized as we have been, to an inquiry to see whether it is true or not. Is that all? We are warned by the public press that this is a matter which touches the interests of the poor, and that they are not represented. I believe that this measure touches the interests of the poor, but I believe that its adoption would be a great injury to the poor. I am not going now into the question of the shifting of burdens. We have been warned that this Bill touches the interests of those who are not represented, but it might be well if we could imagine what other interests it touches. There are certain things called towns, and there are among those towns certain things that are called boroughs. I should have been unwilling to allude to this but for the use which has been made of this Re port, and the warning which has been addressed to us as to the unrepresented condition of the poor. I will tell the House what in two boroughs is the state of the ease. A gentleman with whom I am entirely unacquainted, has sent me what purports to be an account of the Union of Lancaster, and a statement of what will be the effect of this measure upon them. That union consists of 20 parishes, of which 5 will gain from £4 18s. to £941, and 15 will lose from £23 to £222. The place which happens to gain is the borough of Lancaster. Of course such a thing as that previous to a dissolution could have nothing to do with the measure; but here is the fact—that the borough of Lancaster will gain £941 a year. Capitalize £941 at 20 years' purchase, and it will give a pretty good sum. Poor wretches are prosecuted for taking a pot of beer for a vote, but this is a pretty considerable step in the same direction. An hon. Friend of mine (Mr. Egerton) stated the other night that the borough of Macclesfield would gain by this measure. According to the Returns, the rateable value of the property in Macclesfield had increased from £47,150 in 1852 to £60,000 in 1856. The average amount of the poor rate in the borough is 2s. 2d., and in the union 1s. 4d., a difference of 10d.; but take the gain of the borough at 9d. in the pound on the rateable value of £60,000, and the amount per annum will be £2,250. Is it to be wondered at, then, that Macclesfield should be strongly in favour of this measure? When, therefore, we are urged to pass this measure for the sake of the poor who are unrepresented, there can, I think, be no inconvenience in our making an inquiry as to how it will affect those who are represented, and who are to get so large a share of the plums out of the pudding. The instant this Bill was introduced I asked for information, but the right hon. Gentleman either could not or would not give it. I will conclude by telling the House what is the state of things in my own union. That union consists of 36 parishes, and the average rate is 1s. 3d. in the pound. Under this Bill ten parishes will be increased by 8d. in the pound; eleven will gain 6d. and up wards to 1s. 3d.; in five the rates will re main the same; eight will gain less than fid in the pound, and two less than 7d. Five of those which will gain are close parishes. See how curiously and capriciously the Bill will work. There is a close parish in which I live at the edge of the county. The next parish belongs to a Whig noble man (Lord Clifden), and it is equally close—every acre belongs to him. I shall lose 7d. in the pound, and he will gain 7d. The rich "Whig nobleman is to gain 7d. in the pound, and the poor Tory commoner is to be robbed of 7d. There may be a good reason for this, but concerning things non existentibus et non apparentibus eadem est ratio; and this is as clearly money taken out of my pocket and put into his as any thing can be. It is a most fortunate thing for the country that people have not gone on as Dr. Hunter would have had them. When people live in healthful neighbourhoods where the duration of life is long, and when they are not profligate, they get a smartish number of children; and if during the last sixty years whenever a young man wanted to marry, a house had been built for him and a piece of land had been given to him, I do not hesitate to say that we should have been pretty nearly in the state of Ireland. You can not limit the production of people if they can find the means of living, and I, for one, do not see what difference there will be between the state of things in a union and in a larger parish. Under this Bill every union will in fact become one large parish, and in the large parishes in the middle of England, as everybody knows, the people are infinitely worse off than elsewhere. The least pressure upon the rates produces great distress, whereas in rural parishes the moment the people come upon the rates employment is found for them. This measure, then, is, I believe, calculated to produce a bad effect. I should, perhaps, rather say that no man can tell how it will operate, and it is upon that ground I ask for further inquiry and further information. I therefore cordially support the Motion referring this Bill to a Select Committee—a Motion which was made not from these Benches, but by an hon. Member on the other side of the House, who, as far as I know, is friendly to the measure.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down intimated in pretty distinct terms, towards the close of his speech, that this Bill was introduced for a party object, and that the Government sought by its means to serve some electioneering purpose. He seems, however, to have forgotten that it is founded on the recommendation—I believe the unanimous recommendation—of a Committee which sat for three years, and which was as fairly constituted as any which has ever been appointed by this House. Nor does the principle of the Bill rest solely on the recommendation of that Committee. Everybody must be well aware that its principle is one which has been advocated by nearly every thoughtful writer and every thoughtful statesman for many years past. I am therefore surprised to hear from the lips of the right hon. Gentleman a statement which is capable of being so completely refuted. My object, however, is not to enter into the merits of the Bill, but rather to reply to the attack which the right hon. Gentleman has thought proper to make on the Report which formed the topic of so large a portion of his speech. The right hon. Gentleman has asked if this Report was made to order, and, it' not, what was its history? Its history, I may tell him shortly is this:—In 1863, a most competent person, Dr. Smith, was employed under the direction of the medical officer of the Privy Council to prepare a Report on the food of the people. That Report excited great interest; it was widely read and commented upon, and I am in a position to say that it produced the most beneficial effect. It was then suggested that this inquiry should be followed up by one of an analogous character into the residences of the people, and I can positively state that that inquiry was not instituted with the remotest reference to the present Bill or to any other Government measure. I, at any rate, when the expediency of making the inquiry into the dwellings of rural labourers was suggested to me was perfectly unaware that it was the intention of the Government to bring forward any such measure as the present, and I feel satisfied that Dr. Simon was equally ignorant of any such legislation being intended. Thus much, then, for the object of the Report. I will now say a few words as to the time when it was produced. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that its production was postponed until an unusually late period of the year, in order to keep from lion. Members that information which they had a right to expect. I would, however, remind the House that, the corresponding Report was laid on the table of the House last year, on the 15th of April, and this year, on the 20th of the same month—only five days later. I am further able to say that but for the illness of Dr. Simon it would have been produced a fortnight earlier. The right hon. Gentle man also complains that this Report was furnished during the Easter vacation; but it was published as soon as it could be printed, and it so happened that the publication was completed during the Easter recess, which accounts for its not having been circulated sooner. The circulation of this Report depends on the decision of the Printing Committee, and last year that Committee directed that it should not be generally circulated, but that 250 copies should be printed, and that they should be issued only to those Members who asked for them. This year, when the Report appeared, the Committee was not sitting, and the consequence was that the Librarian of the House acted on the precedent of last year, and to my regret I find that instead of the Report having been circulated among all the Members of the House, the number only was printed which was printed last year. But the right hon. Gentleman says that the object of the Report was not only to make out a case in favour of this Bill—an insinuation for which there is not the slightest ground—but that the Report itself is conceived in a spirit the most hostile to the landed interest. Now, before I reply to that statement, I would observe that all the agricultural reviews and journals have for many years past contained general statements as to the state of the working population in close parishes precisely similar to those in this Report, although, of course, not accompanied by the same fullness of detail. And is it true that this subject is not dealt with impartially in this Report? Why, I find that Dr. Simon, after mentioning the general circumstances of the case, says— It would, however, be unjust to suppose that the relations between the large landowner and the labouring population are universally such as I have described. Dr. Hunter's report shows many illustrations of landownership exercised in a far different spirit. There are some of the very largest land properties in the country where for generations there has been the tradition of better treatment; where at least no aggression has been made against the house-accommodation of the poor; where only very low rents are taken; where gardens are commonly given; where deep wells have been sunk; where at least roofs and walls have been kept in sufficient repair; and where, while the landlord has done these things, the tenants, knowing themselves to be secure against eviction, and hoping that their children may succeed to their homesteads, have been encouraged to plant their gardens, to protect their houses against dilapidation, and even to improve the property by occasional necessary out-build ings."—p. 11. Again, in the very next page, I find these words— Here, however, it is again right to observe that the evil is not universally found. In contrast with the last-drawn picture of a far too frequent phenomenon many parts of England show the pleasant spectacle of landowners taking real interest in the quality of such cottage accommodation as they chose to have existing on their estates. Often such landlords have begun the re-construction of their cottage property on a scale better suited than the old models to the requirements of an English labouring family."—p. 12. Then come the names of a great many noblemen and gentlemen who have in a special manner distinguished themselves in providing for the wants of the labouring population. But the right hon. Gentleman has gone minutely into statistics, and here it is, of course, impossible for me to follow him. I would, however, appeal to his sense of fairness and candour, and ask him whether he has not—unintentionally, I am sure—misrepresented the argument and statements in the Report? It is true that the Report states generally that there has been a deterioration in the condition of the labouring classes in the rural parishes within the last thirty years, but the specific charge on which the right hon. Gentle man relies is that as to the decrease of houses in parishes in which the population increased. He says that not only is that charge untrue, but that the readers of this Report would be misled if they thought that the statement applied to parishes, whereas it applied not only to parishes but to townships. Now, here is the state ment— But, as regards the extent of the evil, it may suffice to advert to the evidence which Dr. Hunter has compiled from the last census, that destruction of houses, notwithstanding increased local demands for them, had, during the last ten years, been in progress in 821 separate parishes or townships of England; so that, irrespectively of persons who had been forced to become non resident, the parishes and townships were receiving in 1861, as compared with 1851, a population of 5⅓ per cent greater into house-room 4½ per cent less."—p. 10. The decrease was stated, therefore, to have taken place between 1851 and 1861. The statistics of the right hon. Gentleman opposite have no real bearing upon the question. The right hon. Gentleman referred to certain parishes in Oxfordshire, in which he said the population had in creased and the houses had increased also, but he failed to show that the in crease had taken place between 1851 and 1861. All his statistics apply to the period between 1831 and 1861, and not to that between 1851 and 1861. Everyone is aware of the changes which may occur in a period of thirty years, and a statement of figures between 1831 and 1861 will not be accepted as disproving Dr. Hunter's statements. As the right hon. Gentleman has made this omission the House will be slow to accept the rest of his statements. Inquiry may be necessary—inquiry into the accuracy of the report; but is it pro posed to commit this Bill to a Select Committee simply for the purpose of inquiring into the accuracy of Dr. Hunter's report? If Dr. Hunter's report had never been presented this Bill would still have been brought forward. I do not, therefore, mean that an inquiry into the subject of this Bill is necessary, because inquiry has already been repeatedly made, and the result of all such inquiries has been to convince all statesmen of the necessity for some such measure as is now proposed. The Bill of my right hon. Friend receives the support of a majority of the House. It is looked to with interest out of doors, and therefore I hope that there will be no delay in passing it into law.


said, he thought that all the arguments which had been used in the course of the debate rather went to support the proposition of the abolition of the law of removal, than to justify an alteration in the mode of rating. As to the allegation that while population had increased houses had diminished in num- ber, he found that general statements were freely made, but the only particular statement was one rather recklessly made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers), who endeavoured to substantiate it by referring to a Return professing to be a Return of 821 parishes in which the population had increased and the number of houses had diminished between 1851 and 1861. He had looked into the Re turn, and he found in the first two pages no less than twenty-nine mistakes. As to Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Bucks, and Cornwall mistakes occurred. There were twenty-two pages of the Re turn, and, striking an average, there would be about 320 mistakes in the whole Re turn. "When the right hon. Gentleman based his argument upon a Return so erroneous, surely that was the strongest possible ground for asking for further inquiries. He did not wish to raise the general question, but he thought the feelings of the poor had not been taken much into account in this debate. It would be well to consider whether the poor man would be likely to receive as careful attention under the union system as he did under the parish system. His own opinion was that the expense would be greater, and that the poor would be worse looked after. No man would take as much interest in a union as in his parish. The right hon. Gentleman opposite relied upon the opinion of Adam Smith, but that opinion was not favourable to the right hon. Gentleman's argument, for M'Culloch's edition of that authority stated— It is essential to the right working of the Poor Laws that their administrators should be intimately acquainted with the condition and history of all parties claiming relief; and the smaller the divisions the more likely is this to be the case, and the more will every increase of the rates be likely to attract the notice of these and make them inquire whether it be indispensable. Had the project for supporting the poor by a general tax been adopted, each individual, conscious of the impotency of his own efforts to re duce the amount of national poverty, would have thought as little of its reduction as of that of the National Debt; and in consequence abuses of every sort would have prevailed. It is only by bringing the burden home, as it were, to the doors of individuals, and making them feel that unless it be confined within the narrowest possible limits it will make a serious inroad on their estates and properties, that a compulsory provision has been or can be kept from degenerating into an incentive to sloth; and it is plain that this principle will operate more effectually in a moderate sized parish than in a union, and in the latter than the kingdom at large, where, indeed, it would not operate at all. The opinion of Adam Smith, therefore, was in favour of parochial and against union chargeability. When it was found that the case of the right hon. Gentleman rested first upon a Return that he had shown was inaccurate, and next upon an opinion of Adam Smith which did not bear out his view, but was really exactly opposed to it, he thought the House would be inclined to agree that this was a subject which ought to be considered further before legislating upon it.


said, that he did not intend to discuss the merits of Dr. Hunter's report, for in his argument he could afford to admit that that report did not represent the real condition of the agricultural population, and he could follow the right hon. Gentleman in thinking that it might exhibit a bias. The real question before the House was whether inquiry into this Bill was necessary. Every one knew that its provisions were in accordance with the original intention of the distinguished men the authors of the New Poor Law, and every one also knew that it was in accordance with the views of the greatest minds upon the Committee on Poor Laws, which sat in 1847. Upon that Committee, and declaring in favour of the principle of the measure before the House, were Sir James Graham, Mr. Poulett Scrope, Mr. Thomas Buncombe, Lord Harry Vane, and Sir George Grey. And then, again, the Committee of last year actually recommended that a measure should be brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board had adopted the recommendation thus made, and brought forward this measure with the most conspicuous ability. This mea sure would be always connected with the name of the right hon. Gentleman, and it would form a brilliant sequence to the credit due to him for his exertions in favour of free trade, with the principle of which—namely, that of free exchange, this measure was intimately connected. What were the House now asked to do? Why, to refer this Bill to a Committee, notwithstanding all that had gone before, and to ignore everything of the past in connection with it. The effect of the pro position would be that the measure would be turned over for this Session, and that appeared to be the real intention of many Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House. He asked whether an opposition of this character was creditable to the party making it, and whether it would not have been more straightforward had they voted against the second reading of the Bill. The two questions to which the discussion had narrowed itself were—first, what had been called the "shifting of bur dens," and second, the rights and interests of the labouring poor. The former merely involved a money division between district and district; the latter affected the circulation of labour, and the homes and happiness of the labouring classes at large. He would admit at once that the state of the dwellings of the poor, not merely in the agricultural, but in other districts, was a disgrace and was to be deplored. The right hon. Gentleman had, much to his credit, fully admitted it, and no one would charge him with any indifference to the interests of the poor. He was, therefore, surprised to find the right hon. Gentleman opposing this Bill and when he complained that a Whig nobleman would gain, and he would lose 7d. in the pound by the operation of the Bill, he lamented his case with such good humour that no one could much commiserate him. He (Mr. Watkin) would admit that inequalities would arise, nay, he would go so far as to say that some in justice here and there might be done under the operation of this Bill; but that was a mere local and money question, and ought not to be urged when grave legislation and the happiness of the labouring population were at stake. But he thought the effect of the "shifting of burdens" had been exaggerated. He had presented a petition from the Board of Guardians of the Stockport Union in favour of this Bill. Now, that union contained 80,000 inhabitants, and was composed of manufacturing towns—of towns and villages partly manufacturing and partly agricultural, and of a large district purely agricultural. If offered, therefore, a fair illustration of the general operation of the Bill, and be found that the shifting of burdens was so small that he learned from the Chairman of the Board of Guardians it would not make a difference of more than ½d. in the pound. The deputy-Chair man of the Board (Mr. Heys) said, at the meeting at which the petition had been adopted— The amount to be re-distributed upon the pro visions of the New Law, taking the last two years expenditure, would be about £1,000 per annum or 1d. in the pound upon the present rateable value; but this expenditure is double what it would be in ordinary times, so that a halfpenny in the pound would cover the difference. He had been told by a gentleman of some understanding that the change would make a difference in the agricultural districts of 4s. in the pound; but he (Mr. Heys) stated advisedly that the amount would not exceed, in ordinary cases, one half penny in the pound on the annual rateable value. He must be clearly understood to mean a half penny in the pound on the annual rateable value, and not a halfpenny in the pound on every rate collected in a year. But, on the other hand, they would be advantaged by the increase of rateable property which must necessarily take place in townships such as Bramall, Reddish, Torkington, and Norbury. And it must he remembered, as Mr. Heys observes, that while the country might lose for a while, the constantly in-creasing assessable value of the towns would soon overtake that loss. The right hon. Gentleman, however, urged that this mea sure was a sop to the towns, and was in tended to affect the forthcoming borough elections. That allegation justified him in asking a question in return—a question which was being asked outside that House—and it was this, was the majority of the House to be allowed to carry the Bill, or was the minority who op posed to be allowed to defeat it by factious delays? He would not believe that the right hon. Gentleman would be party to so unfair an opposition, and he hoped yet to see him vote for the Bill. He could not help observing that the right hon. Gentleman had avoided a comparison of the amount of cottage accommodation in proportion to population in 1861 as compared with 1851. There could be no doubt that under the system which this' Bill would alter, the house accommodation for the poor decreased, while the population increased. The Times said— The results of the Census of 1861 have shown that throughout England the average number of persons living in each house declined in the pre ceding decennial period, but in upwards of eight hundred agricultural parishes the houses have decreased while the inhabitants have increased. The question was, had the present system a tendency to diminish the accommodation which ought to be available for the labouring class? Now, he would quote, not Dr. Hunter or Dr. Simon, but an authority which no one could question—that of Sir Edmund Head. Sir Edmund said, in 1848, and repeats the statement now— Unhappily, increase of distance from his work is not the worst evil hence inflicted on the poor man. The families of agricultural labourers thus get crowded into the suburbs of towns, or are thrust into cottages out of repair, the dimensions of which are wholly insufficient. As the children grow up, sons and daughters, father and mother, sleep, it may be, in one room, under circumstances most unfavourable to morality. In times of fever or epidemic disease the consequences are fearful in another way. Great positive suffering is inflicted, and the character of the labouring classes is seriously lowered. Nothing in Dr. Hunter's report was half so strong as that. It came, then, to this—was the equalization of charges to be set against the physical and moral well-being of the people at large? He would again quote The Times. The Times, in a leading article of that morning, said— The Union Chargeability Bill is in itself simple and complete. It will confer a real benefit on the landowners who so unwisely resist it, and it will be a still greater boon to the agricultural labourer. Mr. Bright, commenting some time ago on the condition of our agricultural population, declared that in no other European country was it so entirely divorced from the land. The sober truth is that the misery of the agricultural labourer is not that he is divorced from the land, but that he is tied and bound to it. He is adstrictus glebœ by the law which makes a settlement his inheritance, and which marks out the parish wherein he must continue to dwell. This Bill was approved, as he believed, by a large majority of the constituent body. It had been supported by most influential and numerous petitions. It had been opposed on purely selfish grounds, and repeating that he believed in no mo nopoly of regard for the health and happiness of the labouring classes on the part of either side of the House, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not obscure the services of his whole life in favour of the working man by defeating this measure on no stronger argument than that of a personal loss of 7d. in the pound.


said, that 450 petitions had been presented in reference to the Bill, 330 of which were against the Bill, and only 120 in its favour. One of the petitions came from the Union of Stock port, the guardians of which had them selves petitioned against the Bill. With regard to the condition of the calumniated midland counties he might say that he had lived in every part of Leicestershire, and he did not know of any close parish where the poor were not well treated and pro vided with comfortable cottages and allotments. He knew of no instance in that county in which a parish had been de populated in order to drive the poor into the towns. He had no personal interest in the matter, for he occupied two farms on one of which he would be benefited and on the other injured by the measure. In his opinion a more thoroughly unjust, dishonest, and tyrannical Bill was never introduced for the benefit of the towns over the agricultural population of the country. In point of fact, in this in stance, the towns were the wolves and the country the lambs; and those who represented the towns were endeavouring to share the country among them. The labourers were employed by the towns people, and helped to make their fortunes; and it was not fair that they should after wards be thrown upon the country parishes. An enormous mass of petitions had been presented against the Bill, and it ought not to be passed without further inquiry. The Members for forty-one counties—Members sitting on each side of the House—had voted against the measure, and so strong an expression of opinion ought not to be disregarded by the House generally. It was not a question of party against party, but of town against country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had declared that there was nothing more improper and mischievous than class legislation, and as that Bill would necessarily be class legislation the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself ought to vote with its opponents.


said, he always looked upon a Motion for further inquiry as an attempt to defeat a Bill; and as he was anxious to see the present measure passed he could not vote for the Amendment. But at the same time he should observe that if it were to receive the sanction of Parliament the Poor Law Board ought to take into their careful consideration the expediency of effecting a re-adjustment of the unions. He could state a case which would show the necessity for such a change. Northampton was a large and an improving town, consisting of about 30,000 inhabitants. The union of which it formed part, comprised, in addition, thirteen agricultural parishes. The poor rate in Northampton amounted, on the average, to about 4s. in the pound; the rate in those thirteen agricultural parishes amounted to about 1s. 6d. or 2s. in the pound. Under the present Bill, the in habitants of the town would evidently be relieved by their association with the agricultural parishes of the union in which, though the rates would be very much lower than 4s., they would still be much higher than those of agricultural parishes not united with a large town. Besides those thirteen parishes there were eight others adjacent, but not in the same union with the town of Northampton. Now, though those eight parishes, like the thirteen others, enjoyed all the advantages arising from proximity to a great town, they had not, like the thirteen, to pay for those advantages. Justice seemed to demand, therefore, that all the agricultural parishes should be grouped so that all within a certain area around a town should be included with it in the same union. What he had stated, in his opinion, proved the necessity of accompanying the present measure by a careful re-adjustment of the unions; and he hoped that matter would become a subject of serious attention to the Poor Law authorities.


said, it seemed to be admitted by all the Members who addressed the House upon the subject that the Bill would confer an advantage on the towns at the expense of the country; and if that were so it was manifestly desirable that they should have an inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining what would be the amount of the gain upon the one side and the loss upon the other. It had been stated, as a justification of the mea sure, that landowners had been in the habit of driving the poor out of their parishes: but so far as his experience went in his county, that statement was utterly unfounded. About thirty years ago the country gentlemen were told in official reports that the agricultural parishes were too crowded, and that every inducement ought to be held out to the inhabitants of the rural districts to migrate into the manufacturing towns. It was too bad, therefore, to accuse landlords of what the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board now charged them with. He had not heard a single authentic case of such a mode of proceeding in that county during the last thirty years; and he was convinced that if the Bill were passed it would not cause one cottage more to be built or one cottage more to be pulled down. He did not believe that cottages were either built or destroyed with a view to diminish the poor rate. It was, no dobt, true that proprietors like the Duke of Bedford or the late Duke of Northumberland, who erected a better kind of cottage, invited a more independent class of tenants, and so lessened the pressure of the poor rate; but that was evidently a legitimate mode of accomplishing the object. He wished to observe that some of the figures in the Returns which had been presented to the House might mislead those who were not acquainted with the details of each particular case. He knew himself a parish in which thirty-one cottages had been pulled down and thirty only had been built, and yet the accommodation for labourers had in reality been increased by the enlarged and generally more commodious character of the houses that had been erected in comparison with those which had been destroyed. There could be no doubt, he believed, that the condition of the agricultural labourers throughout the country had improved during the last twenty or thirty years. Many of these labourers were now able to put money in the savings banks. He could state that some of them had come to himself requesting that he might so place their money; and these people were not in every case unmarried men, but more than one of them were married. If towns conferred some advantages upon the country, it was true that they derived many benefits from it. What would Manchester and the other towns of Lancashire do for servants if they could not obtain them from the agricultural districts? Upon the face of it, this Bill was intended for the benefit of the towns; and it was only right that before going into Committee upon it they should inquire how much the boroughs would gain, and how much the rural parishes would lose by it.


said, that this Bill was only the necessary consequence of the legislation of the last twenty years with reference to the Poor Law of which hon. Gentlemen opposite had been the main supporters, and therefore they had no right to condemn it as unjust and unfair. It would, in fact, be the complement of that legislation; it was required for the purpose of restoring the balance between town and country; and he, therefore, felt hound to give it his support. He himself lived in a parish which would be benefited by the Bill. It was a large parish, answering in character to a town. Its rates amounted to 5s. 6d.; and owing to the provisions of the law as it now stood only 8s. out of every 20s. so raised was applicable to its own poor.


said, there was a strong feeling in the county he represented on the subject of this Bill; yet he must earnestly disclaim on his own part, and on the part of those who sat near him, any intention to offer it a factious opposition. He felt certain that a revision of the boundaries of unions must take place, and that the Poor Law Board would be obliged to appoint something like a Boundary Commission. He always felt that when a measure had passed the second reading by a large majority much respect was due to such a decision on a question of this kind; but he was sure that any candid person would admit that since the second reading of the Bill points of the highest importance had been raised, which absolutely and imperatively required examination. Whatever might be the views of particular Members these questions must press themselves on the attention of the great body of the Members of that House. He wished to protest, in the strongest manner, against this being treated as a question between town and country—an idea which was calculated to be productive of a mischief which they must all deprecate. This was a question between real property and other descriptions of property, and it was this that gave the impression of an antagonistic feeling, that the latter kind of property did not bear its share of the burden on account of the difficulty of carrying the law into effect in regard to its assessment. Although the Act of Elizabeth had never been repealed by which, he believed, all property whatever was liable to make contribution to the relief of the poor, real property alone was burdened. A man renting a farm for which he paid, perhaps, £50 a year, would make a bare subsistence, and employ not more than a couple of labourers, while his brother, paying a similar amount for a mere plot of ground in a borough, would have the opportunity of making £500 a year, and of employing, it might be, 100 persons. They could not persuade the farmer of the justice of exempting the stock-in-trade of the tradesman from the rate. Inequalities like these lay at the root of the whole question, and were sure to come to the surface and cause ill-feeling, when, as in the present case, a large transfer of burdens was proposed. As to close parishes that was not a question which he should think of treating at length after it had been so ably discussed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley). He (Mr. Liddell) believed there was a large number of close parishes in the southern and mid land counties of England, and, in theory, they militated against the free circulation of labour; but in the north of England he had never heard of such an effect being produced. If any hon. Member had passed through that district a few days ago he would have witnessed what were known in that part of the country as "May-day flittings," and probably there the people were, if anything, rather too unsettled in their habits. There was another point of importance to which he wished to advert and which he would put in the shape of a question. He wanted to know what just ground there was for supposing that the adoption of union rating and relieving the parishes of individual responsibility would lead to economical administration. It might be said that the guardians would be the same class of men they are now; but there was an old proverb that "what is every man's business is no man's business," and he was afraid that when individual responsibility was taken away, many of these persons would be very slack in their attendance at the Boards, so that the business would fall into the hands of a few persons, and the result would be extravagant expenditure and neglect of the poor. Of this he was sure, that the more they extended the urea of Poor Law administration, the more they relieved the different parishes of their respective responsibility, the more occasions would arise when they would have to call in the aid of the central power. The growth of this central power in every Department of the State was most remark able. It had grown up under a reformed Parliament, and under successive liberal administrations. He did not deny that many public advantages had arisen from the development of this bureaucratic influence, but its further progress ought to be watched with much caution, if not with considerable jealousy. A too active circulation of the heart was often attended with want of vitality in the members, and that simile might convey his ideas in the present case. As to the Motion before the House, he thought it would have met with favour if it had been proposed at an earlier period, but if it were carried now the measure would be hung up for the rest of the Session. There was a tendency to exaggeration on both sides in those matters, and lie should like to see the Government step in as arbiter between the two parties, and give a pledge that it would look into the important matters in dispute and under take their fair settlement.


said, he had voted for the Motion of the hon. Member for Northamptonshire because he thought it might have been better to try the effect of the Irremovable Poor Act a little longer before introducing fresh legislation and again altering the relative value of property. The House decided by a large majority in favour of proceeding at once with the Bill, and not being opposed to the principle of union rating he had no intention of offering any further opposition to it. He, therefore, could not support the Member for Norfolk, on Thursday last, but he fully agreed with him that there ought, in many cases, to be a revision of unions, and that pressure ought to he put upon the Poor Law Board to induce them to use the power they undoubtedly possessed more freely in that direction. Some hon. Members appeared to think that unions were compact districts, with the town in the centre, and country parishes all around drawing their labourers from a town and finding a market there. In such cases town and country, doubtless, benefited each other, and the equality of burdens was probably just. But many unions were very different. The one in which he was most interested was a long straggling line some twenty miles in extent, with a poor populous mining district at one end, and at the other a purely rural district, in an other county, across a large river badly provided with bridges; and this latter portion was in no way connected with or benefited by the dense population for which it would have to pay. In his own case the change made very little difference, as the land in which he was interested was as scattered as the union, and what was lost in one place was gained in another, so that he believed that this was not so much a question of large landed proprietors as some hon. Members had appeared to think. Again, when they came to the case of large manufacturing towns the area of their rating ought to he extended far beyond the rural parishes in their immediate vicinity, when their sudden and overwhelming paroxysms of pauperism were considered; unless, indeed, the House agreed with the extraordinary argument brought forward with an air of triumph by an hon. Member opposite, who had alluded to Lincoln or Grantham as a proof that the country had no reason to grumble because the manufactories there were of agricultural machinery—an argument which would manifestly apply to stocking weaving or almost anything else. He, however, believed that this Bill would have to be followed by another correcting other anomalies of the present system. He had given notice of an Amendment, or rather a new clause, for the purpose of including mines of every description in the rating. What possible reason could there be for making coal liable to be rated to the poor and exempting all other mines? Perhaps the caprice of legislation never went further than in this case, for by the present system clay or stone was liable to be rated when dug from an open quarry, but when brought up from the bowels of the earth by means of shafts and windlasses it was not rated, because it was then regarded as a mine, and it was not a coal mine. Again, if a land lord was paid—say 1s. in the pound royalty on the value of ore, lie was not liable, but if the royalty was reserved in a portion of the ore itself, though paid in money, he was liable to be rated. If there was anything which ought to contribute to the relief of the poor it was an iron mine. If, for instance, a small seam of hæmatite iron ore, which seemed to exist in small patches in almost every part of the country, was discovered, it was let to a speculator, who ran up a line of poor miners' hovels, drawing all supplies from the nearest town, because a seam of this kind was rarely worked unless close to a rail way; and the usual effects of strikes, stagnation, &c, were felt in the increased rates of the surrounding rural parishes, which this operation injured rather than benefited, and to which it did not contribute one farthing. He believed it was doubtful whether this Amendment could be moved, because it was beyond the scope of the Bill, which was only for the redistribution of burdens, and not for the imposition of fresh ones; but the country would not be satisfied unless a Bill were speedily brought in for the redress of that and similar anomalies, especially if the area of rating did not, as he thought it would not, stop at the limits of the arbitrarity and often badly arranged unions, but would before long be still more ex tended, and must embrace many descriptions of property now exempt. He was sorry that so much personality had been mixed up with the debate, and that the old fallacies had been repeated about close parishes and pulling down cottages to save rates. Allusion had been made more than once to the close parishes round Louth in Lincolnshire. He knew that country well, and if hon. Members who had referred to it only knew it as well as he did, they would remember that much of that country had only been lately in closed and cultivated. Until high farming and artificial manures brought the light lands into tillage almost the whole country was a rabbit warren, or sheep walk like the light lands of Norfolk, and had no more population or cottages sixty years ago than Salisbury Plain. Cottages were now being built to a great extent, but it should be remembered that landowners could not always build cottages, if they would. Cottage building did not pay; but then it was said, and said truly, "You should build a cottage, as you did a stable, for the convenience of those who worked your land, and not as a speculation." He thought this sound doctrine; but if a man succeeded to a life interest in a heavily charged estate, how was he to get the money? Landowners had turned their attention much to this subject. Amid the "shop" which country gentlemen were sometimes accused of talking, nothing was commoner than the mode of building cottages economically and well. When the numbers of cottages at different dates were compared, it should be remembered that the cottage pulled down was a wretched one or two-roomed hovel, while the cottage which was erected in its stead had generally four or five rooms, with staircase and other conveniences, and was infinitely superior to the undrained un healthy cottages too often run up by speculators in open parishes and the suburbs of towns. No longer ago than 1861 a Bill was brought in by a large landed proprietor, a county Member, on that side of the House (Sir Lawrence Palk), enabling tenants for life to get over this difficulty by charging the corpus of the estate for the purpose. A comparison of the debate which took place on that occasion with that which had just taken place would be a curious and instructive study. The Bill was very coldly received by the Government in that House, and was thrown out on the second reading by a supporter of the Government in another place. The hon. Baronet who brought in the Bill gave details of the evils of crowded cottages which could scarcely be exceeded by the sensation Report which had been so much commented upon, and on the 8th of May, 1861, the late Sir George Lewis, the Home Secretary, said, in reference to this sub ject— He thought the hon. Baronet had somewhat exaggerated the bad condition of labourers' cottages. … Certainly his own experience did not coincide with all that had been put for ward by the hon. Baronet. … It might be said that almost universally there had been efforts made by all solvent proprietors to improve the condition of cottages upon their estates. He did not think that landlords had been governed by any desire to protect themselves against the operation of the law of settlement."—[3 Hansard, clxii. 1736.] Such were the views of one of the most able and candid men who ever sat in that House, and who, having been a Poor Law Commissioner, was specially competent to form an opinion on the subject. When there were country districts near a market town the labourers often preferred being near their market to near their work. Perhaps it was the wife's convenience in opposition to the husband's in such cases, but he had often heard it said that the extra walk was made up for by the in creased convenience. He did not see the use of sending the Bill to a Select Committee. The Bill was naked in its simplicity, and certainly ought to be supplemented by others remedying the inequalities of which he had spoken. A Select Committee might go into those questions if necessary, but as it seemed that even so moderate an addition as the rating of mines could not be made to the Bill lie did not see what a Select Committee could do with it, the narrow limited subject with which the Bill dealt having already been pronounced upon by more than one Select Committee of that House. He should, therefore, vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Whitby.


said, that in 1857, when he was examined before the Select Committee, lie was opposed to the rating of mines, but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cornwall, who was a Member of that Committee, was in favour of it. The hon. Member for Cornwall proposed that mines should be rated to their full value, but he was then opposed to their being rated at all. They had since modified their views and approximated towards each other, and he was now of opinion that there ought to be no difference whatever in the rating of mines and quarries. But what he wished to call attention to was the peculiar position in which the mines were placed. Coal mines were rated on every conceivable principle it was possible to imagine. Mr. Joseph Pease was of opinion that, as the corpus of the estate was being exhausted in the working of mines, it was practically the royalty or the rent that was paid for them that should form the basis of the rateable value of mines, and not their annual value. The rating of mines ought to form the subject of a separate Bill and after the principle had been affirmed on the second reading it should be referred to a Select Committee to deter mine fairly between the landlord, tenant, and the parish what ought to be the fair rateable value placed upon that description of property. A principle ought to be laid down which should govern all the proceedings of union assessments in reference to them throughout the country, so as to secure uniformity of practice, and then the principle of rating mines might be successfully and advantageously applied. He supported the Bill before the House, believing it would tend to do justice between parish and parish, to ameliorate the condition of the poor, and give general satisfaction.


said, that he did not like to interrupt the hon. Gentleman when he was speaking. The hon. Member for Shorebam (Mr. Cave) had introduced the question of mines because he had given notice of a clause to that effect; but in a conversation he had with him he pointed out to him that the clause was not relevant to the subject matter of the Bill, and he would now respectfully point out to the House that to discuss the subject of mines was not relevant to the matter before it.


said, he could not help contrasting the different temper and tone of the debate on this stage of the Bill with that which was displayed on its second reading. The discussion on the second reading was in a spirit of good temper, and augured favourably for the result, but the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board had changed that feeling. The right hon. Gentleman had charged the opponents of the Bill with having recourse to every species of ingenuity in order to defeat the measure, and that they were obstructing the Bill; whereas all they had done was to express their opinion, as they had a perfect right to do, upon a question in which they were so deeply interested. The introduction of that mysterious Re port had compelled them to defend them selves. The right hon. Gentleman told them on a former occasion that there was something coming that would astonish them, and most assuredly it had done so, and it was impossible that those statements should pass without inquiry. The author of the Report—the medical officer of the Privy Council—had published—on the authority of the person he sent out to find cases of a peculiar character for his Report—statements which had created great attention. They denied their accuracy, and they demanded inquiry. As the Report involved charges against the humanity, honour, and good feeling of the gentlemen of England, the Govern- ment was bound to grant the Motion of the hon. Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson). If it were proved that an officer in the employment of Her Majesty's Government had stated that which was fallacious and untrue, it was a matter that still more demanded inquiry by that House. The author of this Report stated the dwellings of the poor to be insufficient, ill-drained, and unhealthful in every respect. The landowners, on the contrary, said that during a great number of years they had built, and were still building, a great number of improved and commodious cottages. They did not presume to deny that some speculators in houses had run up and were building in sufficient tenements for the poor, with rooms of a narrow and unwholesome character. He (Sir John Trollope) knew, unfortunately, that to be the case. He could safely say, in regard to his own county, has well as to that of the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair (Mr. Speaker), that though in the parishes alluded to there might be houses of a poor and insufficient class, an improved description of dwellings was being rapidly built. The Inspector having hit a blot, he founded upon it an argument which he applied to the country generally, saying, "Look at the pitiable condition of the labourers throughout the country!" As the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Cave) observed the district of Louth, for example, having been brought into cultivation lately, could now boast of the presence of an excellent class of labourers' cottages, in districts which had previously been a poor soil and a kind of rabbit warren. No charge, then, could be more untrue than that now made against the landowners. It was not the interest of the employers to draw their labourers from a distance, because they knew that if they did so the men would be exhausted by travel and not useful for their work. Her Majesty's Government themselves were the great destroyers of the labourers' dwellings. Under a recent Act of Parliament it appeared that a large number of small houses were to be thrown down in Westminster to build the new Courts of Law, and it was admitted that about 4,000 people would be driven from their dwellings. Did the Government propose to build houses elsewhere for these unfortunate persons? No; the Government would leave them to shift for themselves as best they could. But what a clamour would be raised if any land- owner in the agricultural districts were to pull down a tenth part of that number of houses without supplying the occupants with other cottages for their dwellings, And for whom are those new Law Courts to be built? Why they were to become a palace for the lawyers, and the expense of this gigantic structure was to be paid for out of the funds of the poor suitors of the Court of Chancery, as if they had not suffered enough already by their connection with that court. He thought upon all those grounds that the question ought to be adjourned. It must also be recollected that the union assessment valuations were not yet completed. He did not know why, for the Act was passed in 1862; never theless, though three years had since expired, those valuations were not completed. The last Return moved for by the right hon. Gentleman was in July, by which it appeared that the valuations of 184 out of 592 unions were still incomplete. He might be told that there was another basis to assess those unions upon—namely, the county rate. But that rate was only assessed at long intervals, especially in rural counties. In some counties there had been no new assessment for twenty years, and there fore it would be necessarily an incomplete assessment for the purpose. That was another reason why this Bill should not be adopted until they had a more accurate basis to go upon. There was another ground on which he opposed the Bill. He thought he knew the habits of the poor. They called their parish their home. A soldier or a sailor in a distant region always looked forward to his own parish as the place in which he desired to end his days. If this Bill passed he would find his home in the union house instead of his parish. As they had been often told, the poor, though old and partially infirm, were unwilling to enter the workhouse. Under the parochial system they were permitted to do a little work, and were not forced into the workhouse. They were paid little for their labour, it was true; never theless, the system tended to keep alive in those unfortunate men a feeling of in dependence, and they felt pleased to go to their own houses rather than to the union house. If, however, by such legislation as was now proposed they broke the tie between the rich and the poor, and drove the latter to the union house, the consequences would be very grave. The pre sent Bill tended more than anything they could devise to break the connection be- tween the employers and those dependent upon them. He thought, then, that time should be taken for consideration before they adopted this great social change; for he could not call it by any other name. If they adopted this measure it was impossible that they could stop within the limits of the union. He saw nothing but a long vista of changes that must follow, to end in a national rate. He deprecated such a change, believing that it must also lead to an extensive system of patronage, place-hunting, jobbery, and corruption. It appeared to him that the House ought to hesitate before they broke up the social system which had so long existed. A national rate, which would be sure to follow the adoption of the present mea sure, would deprive the ratepayers of all control over the fund, and would plunge the nation into an unlimited expenditure. Those with whom he acted asked only for further time and inquiry, and he submitted that the proposal for such a social change was entitled to the respectful consideration of that House.


said, that as he had been appealed to personally, without discussing a subject which was not immediately before the House, he would venture to express a hope that the House would obtain some expression of opinion from Her Majesty's Government, admit ting the principle of rating mines, plantations, and woods, and proposing to deal in some practical manner with that difficult subject. With regard to the general question, he would only observe that, to judge of the efficacy of this Bill, it was necessary to know how common charges have worked from the commencement. Having been Chairman of a large Union, he could ex plain that their effect upon the Board of Guardians was this—the moment there was a common charge, and a pauper applied for relief, the notion of the guardians—especially if it were near the dinner-time—was how, in haste, to get the man, by hook or by crook, upon the common charge. If they failed to do that, they then began to look into the case and see whether the man was really a pauper or not. If, on the other hand, they succeeded in getting him on the common fund, the guardians immediately gave up all care of the man—he was none of theirs. He thought that the results of the measures would be—first, that the guardians would be careless and would not attend; next, that there would be no security against expense; and third- ly, that the poor rate would increase. And what would be the consequence of that? When all became common charge eases, there would be no scrutiny. If there were not an efficient scrutiny heavy expenses would arise; the vestry would complain of the guardians, and would, on the first opportunity, elect fresh ones, and discontent would generally prevail. The new guardians, elected for a special purpose, would cut down the expenses suddenly, and probably without consideration, and the sufferers by such an act would be the real paupers, while the imposters would obtain a considerable share of the poor rates.


said, his hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham had ended his speech by saying that, inasmuch as he thought this Bill ought to be supplemented by other measures which he indicated, he should vote for it. Now, he must say that his Parliamentary experience led him to think that it was very unwise to follow such a course. He had not heard that it was the intention of the Government to supplement this Bill by measures such as he recommended. On the contrary, they knew from the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) that he regarded this measure with unmixed satisfaction. He admitted no injustice to be in it. It was a complete and perfect whole, and his hon. Friend the Member for Shoreham would find himself most grievously disappointed if lie assented to this measure in the expectation that in some future Session the right hon. Gentleman would supplement it by those other measures which he thought were absolutely necessary to render it just and fair. He should have thought that a measure of this great importance, and one which would effect an absolute social revolution, as his hon. Friend behind him had justly observed, would not be pressed so urgently upon the House unless it had the almost general support of those whom it would more particularly affect, and who had representatives sitting on both sides of the House. He should have thought that it would not have been pressed upon the House unless it was supported by the general intelligence of the country at large. Looking, however, to the petitions presented to that House, he believed the great majority of them were adverse to the mea sure. The debate, too, which had occurred, must have proved the fact that a great difference of opinion as to the merits of the measure existed in the minds of those most competent from their experience and knowledge to form a judgment upon the subject. And on what grounds was it recommended? Hon. Members talked of gentlemen connected with the agricultural districts shovel out the poor; and that there was a necessity to relieve the poor by placing some further charge upon the rich. Who were the poor and who were the rich? There was some declamation on the part of those who sup ported the measure, and hon. Members were told in unmistakable language that this was a measure which would relieve the towns at the expense of the rural districts. Taking the two statements together, was it intended that the poor were to be taken as synonymous with the towns and the rich with the rural districts? This was to him (Lord John Manners) a new reading; he had read the Parliamentary Returns on income and property tax, and was he now to be told in 1865 that the wealth of the country resided in the rural districts and the poverty in the towns? But some hon. Members had gone further, and said that this was a Bill for a rate in aid of the towns to be imposed on the rural districts; and if it were to be a rate in aid it must be on the principle that the rural districts were richer than the towns, and to be justified on ac count of the benefits conferred by the towns on the districts surrounding them. ["Hear!"] Hon. Members opposite said "Hear, hear;" but had it never occurred to them that if the rural districts were benefited by the proximity of the towns, the towns also were benefited by the proximity of the rural districts? The trades men in an ordinary English town would acknowledge that the market day on which the people of the country came into town was the most lucrative day throughout the week; but the argument on the other side was that the towns benefited the rural districts to a greater extent than the rural districts benefited the towns—and this assertion hon. Gentlemen in opposition to the Bill were called upon to controvert and disprove. He thought, therefore, there were good grounds for demanding an inquiry into the whole of the question. But how was this Bill introduced; and how was it substantially supported? They were told that the Bill was in the interest of the poor because the landowners were in the habit of demolishing the cottages of the poor and driving them into close parishes and towns. But even if it were proved that the landowners were acting on these bad principles, how would the Bill, on its becoming law, remedy the abuse? The statement was not true, and the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had demonstrated that the report on which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. C. P. Villiers) relied, was a tissue of fabrication, false logic, and erroneous statistics from beginning to end. His right hon. Friend had demolished that report, and not one word had since been heard in vindication of this extraordinary Government production. But he would call attention to what might be considered the supplement of that report. It might be remembered that it was brought forward as a startling fact that there were 821 rural parishes in which the population had increased, and cottage accommodation had decreased between 1851 and 1861. Upon the Motion of his hon. Friend the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight), a Return in full was given of those rural parishes. It was very dry going through statistics, but when it was assorted that there was a great cottage destruction going on, and the assertion was based on these statistics, it was only just that hon. Members should examine into the validity of the statement, and see whether a social revolution could be based on these statistics. The Return was headed as a document showing the number of inhabitants and houses in each of the 821 agricultural parishes mentioned between 1851 and 1861, and the charge was that the population in those parishes had increased and the house accommodation decreased within those ten years. He would go through the Return page by page, giving a summary of each, and he thought he would be able to show that that charge was not justified by facts. The first page gave the Returns for Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Cambridgeshire. It appeared from the Return that one parish in Buckinghamshire had the same number of inhabited houses in 1861 as it had in 1851; two in Berkshire had an increase of house accommodation, and another had equal house accommodation. In Buckinghamshire there was one parish in which the houses had increased, and there were two in which the houses were equal. In Cambridgeshire there was an increase of houses in one parish. Thus of the 27 parishes given on the first page of the Return, as increasing in population and diminishing in houses, 8 had increased or remained stationary in house accommodation. The next page gave the Returns for Cheshire, Cornwall, and part of Cumberland, and there were 16 parishes in which the houses had increased instead of diminished, and 5 in which they had remained stationary. Thus out of 43 parishes in that page, which professed to show a decrease of house accommodation, there were 21 which had increased or remained stationary. In the third page, which gave the Returns for the remainder of Cumberland, for Derbyshire, and part of Devonshire, out of 36 parishes given as showing a decrease of house accommodation, there were 15 in which the houses either in creased or remained stationary. The next page, which contained the remainder of Devonshire, the whole of Dorsetshire, and part of Durham, out of 45 parishes given to show a decrease of house accommodation, 21 parishes had increased or remained stationary. The next page, which contained the parishes of the remainder of Durham, the entire of Essex, and part of Gloucestershire, out of 31 parishes 10 showed an absolute increase. The next page, which gave the Returns for the remainder of Gloucestershire and the en tile of Herefordshire, out of 45 parishes 12 showed an increased and 2 a stationary-house accommodation. Out of 35 parishes on the next page, which gave the Return for Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, and part of Lancashire, 8 showed an in crease and 6 remained stationary. In the next, which gave the Return of the rest of Lancashire, and the whole of Leicester shire, of the agricultural parishes which had decreased in houses for ten years, there appeared the parish of Radcliff which showed an absolute increase of 560 houses during that time. Taking the next page, which included the county with which he himself was best acquainted (Leicester shire), he found that there were 14 parishes in which cottage accommodation had increased, while in seven it was stationary, thus giving 21 out of 43 parishes. What reliance, then, could be placed on statistics thus framed? In the 36 parishes for Lincolnshire, given in the 10th page of the Return, 5 showed an increase and 4 remained stationary. Of the 43 parishes an the 11th page, for part of Lincolnshire, Monmouthshire, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire, 13 showed an increased or stationary house accommodation. Out of 36 parishes in Northumberland, given in the 12th page, 14 had increased or wore stationary; and of the 41 on the 13th page for the remainder of Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, and part of Oxfordshire 12 had increased or remained stationary. The 14th page of the Return showed that of the 33 parishes in the remainder of Oxfordshire, in Rutland, and Shropshire, given as having decreased in house accommodation, 10 had increased or remained stationary in the number of their houses. Of 48 parishes in Somersetshire 25 had increased and 5 remained stationary. The 16th page showed that of 32 parishes in the remainder of Somersetshire, in South ampton, Staffordshire, and part of Suffolk, given as showing a decrease of inhabited houses, 8 had increased or remained stationary. Of the 44 parishes given in the remainder of Suffolk, in Surrey, and Sussex, 9 had increased and 6 remained stationary. Of the 32 parishes in Warwickshire, Westmoreland, and part of Wiltshire, 7 had increased or remained stationary; and the 19th page showed in like manner that of 40 parishes in the remainder of Wilt shire, in Worcestershire, and part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 13 had increased or showed a stationary house accommodation. The 20th page showed that of the 34 parishes of Yorkshire there given, 12 had increased or remained stationary; and of the 45 parishes given on page 21 there had increased in houses or remained stationary 12. He now came to the last page of all ["Hear!" from the Ministerial side.] He was not surprised at hon. Gentlemen opposite cheering when they found he had come to the last page. If he had had to pursue that dreary catalogue of Government misinformation at some length the responsibility was not his, for, surely, when a measure of that importance was brought forward upon fallacious statistics it was desirable that those statistics should not pass unchallenged. In the last page he found 13 parishes in which the house accommodation had increased, and three in which it had remained stationary. The total number of parishes given in that page was 37; of which no fewer than 16 showed either an increase of houses during these 10 years, or that the houses had not decreased. The paper he was quoting purported to be a Return of 821 agricultural parishes, which the right hon. Gentleman in introducing that measure assured them, on his own official knowledge, would exhibit a decrease of House accommodation coupled with an increase of population; whereas it would be found that in no less than 290 of those 821 parishes the number of houses had actually either increased or remained stationary. Had the right hon. Gentleman gone through these figures? If he had, he would agree with him that in these 290 parishes the number of houses, instead of diminishing, had been augmented by 1,493. After the exposures made by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire and the details which he had himself just given the House must see that it had not been fairly treated in respect to the information on which the President of the Poor Law Board based his great scheme for the redistribution of local burdens, and that it had every right to demand a fuller and more perfect investigation into every fact and figure adduced in support of that scheme. The hon. Member for Shoreham had spoken of the necessity of supplementing that measure, if it ever became law, with a revision of unions, and they had been told by the right hon. Gentleman that he had ample power for effecting such a revision. But with the frankness which characterized him the right hon. Gentleman avowed that he would never enter upon that task. Therefore, to pass a measure for the re distribution of local burdens and for raising a rate in aid of towns at the expense of the country, in the vague hope that at some time or other the gentle men of Cornwall would consent to mines being assessed, or in the equally vague expectation that the right hon. Gentle men would do what he had fairly warned them he would not do—namely, revise the unions, was one of the most futile courses that could be proposed to a deliberative Assembly. The question now before them was whether that Bill should be referred to a Select Committee, in order that these worthless statistics might their attempt to press the measure against the feelings, opinions, and convictions of a body of Members in the House representing that large class of people out of doors whose interests were, as they said, unfairly dealt with, without giving them any opportunity of testing the accuracy of the information on which the Bill was first submitted and still recommended to their notice; they must be prepared for an opposition to which the quiet, peaceful, and most decorous discussion they had had would be as nothing. There were many other reasons that would induce him to support the Amendment for refer ring that measure to a Select Committee, but he thought the observations which he had made would fully justify him in their determination to vote for that proposition.


Sir, if we could admit the premisses of the noble Lord who has just spoken—if we could admit all the grounds upon which he bases the conclusions at which he has arrived—I think our course would be easy, and we might accede to the suggestion that we should abandon this Bill, or, what is the same thing, accede to the proposal for sending it to a Committee upstairs. The noble Lord (Lord John Manners) like the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) sees the difficulty of his case. He sees that this is no ordinary question, that this is a Bill brought in upon information of a very extended character and supported by authority of no ordinary kind. And they feel that they must get rid of that—they must change the issue, they must shuffle the pack, they must try and divert attention from what is the real ground of this measure, and from the true reason why it is introduced. So, the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire first, and the noble Lord afterwards, fasten upon some statistics that were incidentally referred to in bringing in this Bill, and they assert what they do not prove. The noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman are arguing this Bill upon some imperfections or defects in certain statistics which have been introduced since this Bill was brought in, and which they allege are unfounded. They allege, further, that I have rested this measure on those statistics. Now, I say they have no ground whatever for that assertion. I introduced the Bill, Sir, upon the recommendation of a Committee of this House which had sat for three either be still further probed and exposed, or, if that were possible, set up again.: He ventured to say that such a case for inquiry had been made out that night as had never yet been submitted to Parliament in vain. And if in the face of that years inquiring into the operation of the exposure the Government persevered in Poor Law and its general administration. The hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) knew that the inquiry was to take place into this matter, and I believe he wished to be upon that Committee on that account. The inquiry was, as I have stated, instituted into the general operation of the Poor Law, and among other points that most important one of the rating of property, for the mainte- nance of the poor, became the subject of our investigation. But, Sir, those hon. Members who have seized upon what they call this imperfect statistical report know perfectly well that the disclosures which it makes were no novel matters even before that Committee. They know—and nobody knows better than the right hon. Member for Oxford shire—that it has been for thirty-one years before the House, that it has been a constant subject of discussion, and a constant object of resistance by persons who are circumstanced as the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire has acknowledged himself to be. I should be the last man to in quire into the motives of hon. Members for taking the course they do in this House. But the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire has told us that he is one of that class of proprietors who own close parishes, who are therefore interested in this matter, who represent the party which has resisted for thirty years past, and for obvious interests of its own, the measure that I have proposed, and who, in the opinion of the Committee, ought now to yield to the weight of evidence and authority, for that their interests can no longer be protected, but that the interests of the community must be in future considered. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I am entitled to give this character to the measure, from the various reports that have been made by Committees of the House, and the great authority that exists in favour of this Bill. I beg now to re peat, what I have stated already before—in consequence of the desire manifested by hon. Gentlemen to throw it in the back ground, and induce hon. Members to forget it—that this is a measure which was proposed by the original projectors of the New Poor Law [Sir WILLIAM MILES: Hear!] who never had any doubt that it was essential to the successful operation of that law. I do not know why the hon. Baronet cheers as he does, but it is the undoubted fact that the original promoters of the New Poor Law believed that a union rating was indispensable to the right working of the measure which established union administration. [Sir WILLIAM MILES: The Commissioners of Inquiry.] The hon. Baronet, then, knows it well, and does not, I presume, intend to dispute it. It has never ceased to be a subject of solicitude on the part of those who supported the New Poor Law, that that object should be carried out; for they thought that while each parish was left to indulge its own fancy as to how it could shift the poor off, which they were bound to support, to another parish, the New Poor Law would never have a fair trial. That has been asserted by the most eminent men in this House, who occupied themselves with the subject, and they all endeavoured, and endeavoured in vain, to complete the New Poor Law by the establishment of the system I now refer to. Sir James Graham and Sir George Lewis tried to carry out the scheme, and that valuable public servant, Sir George Nichols, with Sir Edmund Head, never ceased to urge its adoption. We have therefore not only the authority of the Committee of 1864, but of the Committee of 1847, and of the Commissioners of 1834 for this very measure. The noble Lord appears, however, to argue that this Bill ought not to be carried, because he thinks, with regard to 290 parishes out of 821, some errors have been detected in Dr. Hunter's report upon the rural habitations of the poor, made in no connection whatever with this measure. The proposal to send the Bill to a Select Committee in the middle of May can have no other purpose than to cast out the Bill for the present Session. No doubt hon. Members who dislike the Bill, and hope to throw it out, are perfectly right in taking this course, and a conversation which I heard makes me think so. An hon. Member observed to another that he had better support the measure, be cause the country desired it, and would have it next year, if they did not have it in the present. The reply was, "I do not think so: we got rid of Baines' Bill ten years ago, and if we get rid of this, another ten years will elapse before it is proposed again." I think that was a very wise observation; and I am quite sure that if people knew the trouble, annoyance and bother experienced in endeavouring to pass Bills of this kind, it would be a reasonable expectation on their part that, in case the present Bill were defeated, ten years would elapse before it would again be submitted to this House. Observe the various objects which this inquiry is sup posed to hold in view. The hon. Member who proposed the Select Committee (Mr. Thompson) wants it for the purpose of inquiring into the incidence of taxation with the view of transferring some of the burdens to the Consolidated Fund. The hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand), who seconded the Motion for the Select Committee, wanted the Committee for the purpose of making known the malad-ministration of the Poor Law, and the misapplication of the rates in the north of Eng land, with the view, I suppose, of showing what a favourable opportunity it is to cast the support of the poor on the Consolidated Fund, where he expects similar malad-ministration would never exist. The lion. Member for "Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) wants to go into Committee because he is ready to show that we have hitherto mistaken the area of charge—it was either too small or too large—and the new principle which he is ready to explain to the Select Committee is the area of natural charity. That undoubtedly is a new area, and at least will not be the parochial sys tem. The most direct Motion probably was that made by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Rainald Knightly) who proposed that the Bill should not be considered this year, as hon. Members were ignorant of the operation of the Irremovability Act which had existed for three years. The House could not agree to that Motion, for if it had it would have confessed itself more ignorant than most of the old women in the parishes throughout the country. The course, however, pro posed by the hon. Member was, at any rate, intelligible. The fact is that this is a very old story, and the question involved in it is rather too old to admit of its being treated in this manner. It is the question of whether the parochial system ought to continue as it has done. It has been constantly in agitation since 1832, indeed, I may say, for more than a century and a quarter, and its evils are perfectly well understood. It is now said that the practice of pulling down cottages used to exist, but that in the present days it has ceased. Now, the evidence of Dr. Hunter's report is merely to show that'—that which was known to exist before, which was proved to exist in 1847—and by the Commission sent through out the country in 1851—existed still in 1864, and there has not been a single thing stated, certainly not by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, to show that it does not continue now. What the right hon. Gentleman was trying to do was to show that somebody was wrong in some thing he had said; that Dr. Hunter had not been accurate in every respect; but the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, who has great courage in making his statements when he thinks he is right, has not said to-night that there is no such thing as getting the poor out of the parishes to prevent them being charge able, or that that is not the sort of principle acted upon in his neighbourhood as well as in other places. [Mr. HENLEY: I have said it, and I say it again.] I am very sorry, then, that the right hon. Gentleman has said it, for I don't believe that there are many who will agree with him. There are certain persons generally referred to by hon. Gentlemen opposite as being great authorities when subjects of this nature are discussed, and, I should like to know how it was that those hon. Members have never in the course of the discussion mentioned what the farmers think and what the poor say on this matter. I listened to the speech of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire for the purpose of hearing what he would say about the farmers. I thought he would have told us that the occupiers of land, the employers of labour, and the labourers themselves were dead against this measure; but, curiously enough, the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion has never alluded to the farmers. The inference to be drawn from his silence in this respect is that the right hon. Gentleman knows that the farmers are against him. I should be sorry to see the farmers and landed proprietors against one another. But it is a rather remarkable thing, considering how often hon. Gentlemen opposite speak of the farmers, and how exclusively they profess to represent them, that upon this subject they have not said a single word in their behalf. But the farmers themselves lost no time in making known their opinion. Two days after I introduced this measure, so injurious to agriculture, so hurtful to the labourer, so utterly destructive of property as it is said to be in this House, the farmers met in their society—the Farmers' Club in Blackfriars Road. Now, I remember that they used to be very much against the repeal of the Corn Laws; but with respect to this subject they have said that it might be infer red from the tone adopted by some proprietors that the farmers were hostile to the measure, but the contrary was the case. The subject had continually come under the consideration of the members of the club, and they had decided invariably by a large majority, if not unanimously, in favour of union rating. They had formerly, in 1847, been of opinion that the law of settlement should be totally abo- lished, and relief administered in districts so large as not to continue any restriction upon the agricultural labour markets or afford any motive to influence the choice of labourers by the chance of diminishing any share of union chargeability. In March, 1850, however, a resolution was adopted by them that the extension of settlement to unions instead of parishes would be highly beneficial. In 1856, at a meeting called to consider the condition of the agricultural labourer, there was a general expression of opinion in favour of abolishing parochial settlement. And, again, they lately passed a resolution to the effect that they fully concurred with Mr. Walter in the belief that there was not a farmer in the country who had not formed his opinion on the subject, and that it was not upon the part of the farmers generally that they found any objection raised to this measure; on the contrary, the agriculturists generally, had long been endeavouring to obtain that extension of the area of settlement now about to be granted. For about eighteen years, then, the farmers have been trying to get a measure of this kind; they know their own into rest; they do not conceal it, and, perhaps, that is the reason why their interest is concealed to-night. The farmers have one interest; the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire represents an other. The farmers, it may be said, are decidedly in favour of this measure. [Opposition cries of "No, no!"] Yes; your crying "No" is no answer to what they have said themselves. They know perfectly well the burdens of the parochial system, that they are obliged frequently to employ people whom they do not want, worthless persons, and that if this measure were passed they might select the best men, as every one would and ought to do. That is the advantage of the Mill to farmers. And then, as for the labourers, you have not said one word to prove that they are benefited by the present system. It is not necessary to depend on Dr. Hunter's evidence to prove the over crowding of the labourers in towns and villages in consequence of the pulling down of cottages in the parishes owned by proprietors. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Packe) cries "Oh!" but he let the cat out of the bag to-night, for he said that he had two interests with respect to this measure—in one case it would be highly beneficial, to the other it would not. Well, it is possible that he has, after striking a balance, discovered on which side his interest prevails, but I expect that what he means by its answering well is that he has in some places more than his share of rate now to pay, because some neighbour has less to pay than he ought; in fact, that he has property where this measure would do him justice, and that he has got other property, where by his paying more in future than he does now, lie would do justice to some neighbour in the same way, so that what he has told us just shows that this measure will in different places benefit landlords, tenants, and labourers. But I cannot quite leave this question of the farmers without calling the attention of the House to further evidence on the part of the farmers. An inquiry was instituted in the House of Lords a few years ago, and they very properly called farmers be fore them, persons competent to speak on this matter, and they gave exactly the same kind of evidence as that which I have already quoted. The Committee were told that— At a meeting of the Tenant Farmers' Club, in March, 1847, it was resolved unanimously:—" That it is the opinion of the members of the Committee present that parochial settlement should be abolished, and that the system of arrangement by which relief to the poor be administered should he extended to the utmost practical limit. They were not afraid then to say that they were against the parochial system. This was also a question raised in the House of Lords upon an inquiry into the burdens which pressed upon real property in 1846. The following is an extract from their Report:— The evidence accompanying this Report is pregnant with proof that the employment of unprofitable labour would constitute an important addition to such returns. In order to reduce the poor rates the fanners in many parishes employ more hands than the economical working of the land requires. Mr. Robert Smith explains this system, and Mr. Baker estimates this additional outlay on his farm at £3 per week on 500 acres. The actual sum levied in the name of the poor rate does not therefore correctly represent the full amount of the charge imposed upon real property by the laws regarding the maintenance of the poor. I will now read some extracts from the evidence taken. Mr. W. Foote, an attorney at Swindon, said— He considered that the present law of settlement operated unfavourably upon the farmer in diminishing his supply of labour. He had had a good deal of conversation with farmers in that respect. He knew front his own experience that it led to the crowding of the labourers into particular parishes to the exoneration of other parishes. The present law operates against the employment of free labour and against the employment of the best labour. Then there is a person of whom we have all heard, a highly respectable authority, and a man who was thoroughly conversant with life in the agricultural parishes, I mean the Rev. Alfred Huxtable, rector of Sutton Waldron, Dorsetshire. He said— I have talked with men in the parish, and they have said to me, 'You may as well give me work (that is the bad workmen who are rejected by the farmers) as keep me; you must do one or the other.' That is the common feeling. I do not mean with the well-disposed, but there will always be in the parish idle men who will want to get their subsistence as lightly as possible. I could name four men who would fairly come under this description. It is most annoying. I have some men—really very superior men, drill-men and others of that kind. The farmers of the parish will not give those a higher rate of wages, because they find they have to employ so many men. The case is this:—In my parish there is always a certain amount of work to be done, which must be distributed alike among all the labourers. If a few did a much greater quantity of work, and thereby earned higher wages, there would be so much less employment for the rest, so that there is really no encouragement for the superior labourer in the parish, nor can he carry his skill to another market, where there is no fit residence for him, and no pro vision in sickness and old age under the present system. Then there is the evidence of the Rev. Sir Arthur Henniker, incumbent of Thornham, Suffolk, and formerly chairman of the Hartismere Union. He says— I know of places in one of the eastern counties in which I find that when I visit them from time to time, the cottages are very fast diminishing, and when I have made inquiries about it, from curiosity rather than anything else, I have been informed that the village was supposed to look prettier with fewer cottages, and that the labouring class of people came from the adjoining parish. Witness stated that he saw that this evil was increasing in Suffolk, and he felt it his duty, as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, to comment upon it publicly. There was a very full bench of magistrates that day, and not a single magistrate afterwards made the slightest observation, either to contradict or find fault with the Chair man's remark; the fact, indeed, could not be denied. Well, things were denied, or not believed, notwithstanding much more evidence of the kind given both in this and the other House of Parliament. But I say there is abundance of important evidence at this moment that prove the same results from the same system, and the reason why I referred to Dr. Hunter's report was that I found him in 1864 confirming the facts which all authority had previously established. I beg to say distinctly that I do not distrust Dr. Hunter's report. I be have it to be a very valuable one. Substantially I have not a doubt of its correctness. You have attempted to do so in a few cases; but you must wait to hear his answer. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire has made insinuations and cast imputations, as if I had insidiously introduced this report, and quoted it as the authority for my measure. But I deny that. I say it again, whether hon. Gentlemen opposite believe it or not. I never heard of that report until after my measure was prepared, and until within; day or two before I introduced it; and I merely mentioned the fact in introducing it. Immediately on receiving the report I directed it to be sent to the Inspectors of all the districts, with instructions for them to test its correctness, and inquire whether it was an over-statement, or the contrary. My information is that it is an under-statement of the facts—that there may be inaccuracies in some of the details, but that substantially what is alleged in the report to exist may be found to a greater extent than is there alleged. One of the Inspectors, Mr. Weale, replying to my letter directing him to inquire into this subject, sends me a report which he made upon the same subject in 1849 or 1850, and which I think in the volume published by the hon. Member for Worcester shire (Mr. Knight) is characterized as the only honest report. He quotes this and then he says— Being desirous of furnishing you with more recent information than that contained in the re ports above referred to (although I believe they still represent with tolerable accuracy the present condition of those counties) as to cottage accommodation, and as the neighbourhood of my own residence in Bedfordshire is rather conspicuous in Dr. Hunter's report, I determined on inspecting some of the dwellings of labourers in this and the adjacent parishes. Accompanied by the medical officer, I visited several parts of this town, and the result of my inspection satisfied me that Dr. Hunter's report is not at all exaggerated; some of the dwellings I visited are more deplorable than those he reports on. I read over to the medical officer of Potten, a small town in the Biggleswade Union, Dr. Hunter's report on that town, and he assured me that the statements were not beyond the strict truth, and he also con firmed Dr. Hunter's statement as to Dunton, Eveworth, Wrestlingworth, and other neighbouring villages. I drove through these villages and inspected several of the cottages, and my own observations lead me also to the same conclusions. As Dr, Hunter has given in his report consider- able prominence to the village of Sutton, by a remark as to the original grant of that manor to the ancestors of the present proprietor, I determined to visit it, and as I have a slight acquaintance with Sir John Burgoyne I called on him and showed him the report, and told him that I purposed visiting some of the cottages for the purpose of ascertaining the correctness of Dr. Hunter's statements, and he offered to accompany me in my visits, at the same time observing that he was not aware of the overcrowding to such an extent as was reported. We visited thirteen cottages, several being the same that had been re ported on by Dr. Hunter, and at the conclusion of our inspection Sir John agreed with me in opinion that Dr. Hunter's statements were fully borne out. In the cottage, No. 10, described by Dr. Hunter as 'the Agapemone,'[A laugh.] four children have died from fever since his visit. Dr. Hunter speaks of two distinct families as the occupants of this house; it is only right I should state that the two families are—a widowed mother, as representing one family, and her son with a wife and children the other. The parish of Sutton comprises about 2,600 acres, and in it there are forty-six cottages; forty-three of these are occupied by labouring men. There are not more than five or six of these cottages with two bedrooms, and in those of this class that I visited the rooms were only divided a part of the way to the ceiling by a very rude partition. In no instance did I find two families unconnected by the nearest relationship living in the same house, and Sir John Burgoyne and his agent told me that with their knowledge or sanction lodgers were not allowed to be taken in. All the cottages I visited were ill-constructed and built in the commonest and cheapest way; they were mostly old, the bedrooms generally ceiled to the roof, and it did not surprise me to find them (crowded at nights as they are, and without any further ventilation than that afforded by a window, not far above the floor) close and offensive. Sir John Burgoyne told me that he had not been in possession of the estate many years; that on succeeding to it there was no house on it, the old mansion having been burnt down several years previous. He added that if tenants for life could charge the estate with the expenses incurred in building and improving cottages, as for drainage and similar improvements, it might operate as an inducement for them to do so. That, I think, is something like evidence in support of Dr. Hunter's report; and I have not the least doubt that if further inquiry were made, and if the Inspectors had the good fortune to find landed proprietors as candid as Sir John Burgoyne, they would report that the same state of facts existed. But I cannot allow hon. Gentlemen opposite to ride off on the statement that the facts alleged in favour of an alteration in the present system are entirely based on Dr. Hunter's report, and that therefore in the middle of May you are to appoint a Committee which is to burke and postpone altogether the consideration of this measure. There is much other evidence upon this matter, and among the rest I cannot help reading an address lately made by a Chairman of Quarter Sessions on this subject. Persons in his position are very likely to know what is the real state of the case in these country districts, and as the statement is that of an honourable conscientious man urging what he believes to be the truth concerning the question, his statement is worthy of attention. The gentleman is the Hon. and Rev. Mr. Talbot, Chairman of Quarter Sessions in Staffordshire, who since the introduction of this Bill has made an address respecting it, in the course of which he says— As a ratepayer in a rural parish, he thought it a very hard thing that his rates were to be in creased one-half by the proposed measure, when he had not a single pauper in his parish, and had not had one for years. Consequently, he should have to pay a very large sum to relieve the rest of the union. Personally, therefore, he had very strong motives for opposing the Bill. But he felt it his duty to look at the matter from a wider point of view. It was urged that the measure would have the effect of encouraging landowners and farmers to build cottages for their workmen near the place of their employment, and, believing this would be the case, he should support it. He had frequently observed that when a man who lived near his work came to be about fifty or sixty he was still fresh and active, while a man who had to walk daily two miles to and from his employment was worn out by the time he attained that age. He had observed, this again and again. He had been a large employer of labour, and he always found that the men who lived near their work preserved their strength for many years longer than those who resided two or three miles from it. He believed that the proposed change would be beneficial to the poor. I come now to the statement of a Member whose retirement was regretted by the whole House. He was one of those country gentlemen who filled us with hope that that party would keep pace with the progress of the country. He was a liberal-minded man, and had the courage to give expression to his views. I allude to the late Mr. Ker Seymer. Many Members now in this House may remember the "set" that was made against the Bill for abolishing the existing law of settlement by the late Mr. Baines when it was brought in. It was declared to be full of dangerous principles—that it involved union chargeability, union rating, and all sorts of other bad things, and evils without end were predicted from it. But after several speeches to this effect had been made from his own side of the House, Mr. Ker Seymer rose and said— The parochial system for Church purposes was invaluable, but it did not follow from that that it was equally good for affording relief. The clergyman or the squire, or the squire's lady, did not ask a man about settlement when they were giving relief. That was solely reserved for the overseers. He would go further, and say that the tendency of the parochial system was to pervert the best feelings of their nature. In his part of the country, where coals were comparatively dear, a subscription had been entered into to supply the poor with coals, but some persons threatened to withdraw their subscriptions if they were given to unsettled poor; and those who acted thus were by no means hard-hearted men. He believed that, in consequence of the present law, for one man who left his settlement and was returned to it a pauper, 100 were prevented leaving home in search of work.…At present, in confined parishes, the employer could make little distinction between the labourer of good character and the labourer of indifferent character; he must employ him without asking many questions …He believed that the effect of the alteration of the law would be to make the whole Board of Guardians more careful with respect to the cases of relief that came before them. He saw no reason for the supposition that the present alteration would ultimately lead to a national rate."—[3 Hansard, cxxxi. 1288.] That was Mr. Ker Seymer's opinion, and it deservedly had authority in this House; but he would not refer more to the opinion of individuals; he would point to another consequence of the system, in its effect on the physical condition of the labourer. It was suggested to me that I should apply to the Registrar General for a Return of the mortality among different classes of people in the union, with a view to ascertain the duration of life among these classes, and to judge of the effect upon life of the mode in which the agricultural labourers lived. Two unions were suggested by way of experiment. I did not select them myself, but they were suggested by one who is well known to have taken a great interest in all these matters. One is the union of Thame and the other of Beading. I will read the observation made upon the return by a competent authority. The evils of overcrowding in the production of disease are known to be as great in ordinary dwellings as those of bad drainage. Houses have been drained, but the medical officers report constantly that the gain from good drainage is counteracted by the bad effects of overcrowding. This renders the inhabitants more liable to epidemics. To test Dr. Hunter's report, some Returns have been got from the Registrar General as to the mortality in the Reading and Thame unions. Last year was a year of epidemic disease, which visits the well-to-do class more severely than the others, but the Returns show that the ratio per cent of deaths from diseases of the zymotic class were just double among the labourers, being, in the one case 16, as against 9 of the upper class in the Thame union. Reading shows 17 per cent among the labouring classes, against 9 per cent in the upper classes. A greater amount of pre mature mortality is shown among the labourers than any other class. Average ago of labouring class, 29; professional people and gentry, 55. [Some Members suggested "that this was a town union."] I do not think Thame can be called a town union, but the results in figures show the same proportions. Bearing in mind the great physical evils to which poor people are always submitted we cannot fail to consider these extremely shocking, when, according to the concurrent testimony of all who are competent to form an opinion on the subject, these evils seem necessarily to result from the fact that being prevented from procuring a residence in the close villages in the neighbourhood of which their labour is required they are compelled to resort to the open one where the rents being-very high they are forced to crowd together in order to procure any habitations at all. It is idle, therefore, to say that the health and well being of the people are not mixed up with this question of parochial settlement, and it will be now for the House to say whether the existing state of things shall continue. I am very sorry for the opinion at which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has arrived. He does not see this matter in the same light as others, for he does not think if we would leave it alone that there is any thing the matter. And he called it a cock-and-bull story to say that people were driven into villages and over crowded—


I never said they were not crowded. I spoke strongly to the contrary.


I understood from the right hon. Gentleman that it was a cock-and-bull story about people being crowded.


That it was a cock-and-bull story about houses being demolished.


Then, what is the fact? Are there cottages enough or not for the poor? Have the houses kept up in proportion to the population, or have they not? Everybody seems to be wrong about this matter except the right hon. Gentleman; but if you choose to in-inquire into this matter fully—[Loud cheers from the Opposition Benches]—yes; but you will find that inquiry into the incidence of rating will not include inquiry into the cottage accommodation of the people. That may he ascertained be fore going to a Select Committee at this time of the Session. This should not he viewed as a party matter. I am not disposed to classify opinion upon this subject in that way at all. There are persons, I know, who own close parishes, and con tend that no evil or injustice is involved in their continuance; and there are others who take an impartial, and perhaps a right view, who come to another con-elusion. But in order to show that there really is no foundation for the suggestions made in some quarters that this Bill has been brought forward for party purposes or for electioneering purposes, as I have even heard it suggested, and as a proposal calculated to favour the interests of towns, T will read to the right hon. Gentleman who cheers as if he thinks there may be something plausible in such insinuations, an extract from an organ which is in conformity with his own views, and which the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Packe), I have no doubt, would be pre pared to regard with favour. In commenting on the character of this measure, this paper, which is a thoroughly Conservative journal, the Manchester Courier, referring to some place named in the re port, says— In the fourteen bedrooms slept thirty-four adults and thirty-three children. At Langtoft, in Lincolnshire, a similar story was told—twelve bedrooms to accommodate thirty-six adults and thirty-eight children—and in hundreds of parishes all over the country the same cry of insufficient accommodation was everywhere raised.…The results of all this neglect are two-fold. Mo rally and physically the labouring classes suffer bitterly. The overcrowding inevitably destroys all feeling of shame, and injures the very sources of morality. Dr. Hunter can only hint at some of the evils which result from the system, and his report is not written for people of delicate organization, who are afraid to look the evil in the face. It will, therefore, be enough to say here that the evils to which he refers are such as strike at the root of all national morality and religion. The worst crimes become through this overcrowding not only possible but more than probable, and since nature cannot be outraged with impunity, physical evils follow with swift steps. Hence these overcrowded cottages become nests, not merely of all kinds of moral disease, but of every species of physical malady also. From them and from the neglect of all sanitary conditions, fevers of the most aggravated type are bred. An epidemic springing from similar causes is making its way over the Continent. If it at once reach this country it will find its house 'empty, sweet, and garnished.' What the final result will he it is now impossible to predict. That it will, however, be anything less than the decimation of the la- bouring class is hardly to be hoped, unless immediate steps be taken for the remedy of the evils which tend to produce it. Now, it is a strong Conservative journal that expresses these opinions, and makes an appeal not merely to sentiments of common humanity, but of common prudence. It is the organ of several of those Gentlemen who will to-night vote for this Committee with a view of cushioning the present Bill. The considerations which it puts forward are too serious to he over looked. If this epidemic comes, which medical men apprehend, I ask what securities have you against its devastations? [Hon. MEMBERS: In towns?] I suppose if it only affects the towns hon. Members will not think that of any great importance; but, as a matter of personal safety, they would probably find that a dangerous calculation for themselves. Reference has been made to-night to the prize essays which the Royal Agricultural Society have awarded to writers upon matters relating to agriculture and also upon the condition of farm labourers. That sounds like an authority that would have weight in this House; and I gather from the cheers of the right hon. Gentleman that he regards with favour the mode in which the subject has been treated by those writers. Now, I have looked at the various passages in these essays referred to by Dr. Hunter, or rather by Dr. Simon. Now, what are the opinions of these gentlemen, as expressed in is their writings, as to the practice of keeping down the number of dwellings for the poor? As to the county of Somerset, for instance, I find it said that— The practice of clearing off cottages at which my correspondent hints may, I fear, be found in this county in several instances. Again, with regard to other counties I will quote from the essays written in them— Northamptonshire.—It would he invidious to mention names, hut it must be admitted that in some grazing districts requiring but little labour a system of depopulation has been systematically carried on by proprietors for several years. Shropshire.—More cottages, and of a better character, are sadly wanted. Bucks.—Among the many causes which assist in degrading the poor, insufficiency of cottage room with bad situations and frequently high rents is certainly among the chief. Devon.—The small number and the un tenantable state of many of the cottages compel a large proportion of the workmen to reside in the nearest town or village, a circumstance unfavourable to his comforts and morals as well as those of his family, and a loss of time and labour to his employer. Bedfordshire.—The want of comfortable cottages and as near as possible to the scene of labour is in many parishes a crying evil. The wear-and-tear undergone by a labourer in traversing three or four miles a day to and fro, in addition to the toil on the farm (as is commonly the case), is a most heavy drag upon the living machine. Warwickshire.—Better cottages follow in the wake of other improvements, but there are many remaining which are mere hovels, where a single bedroom has to suffice for a whole family. Norfolk.—The worst cases are some of the overgrown open villages of West Norfolk. Here people build cottages for gain, and demand exorbitant rents. The scum of the neighbourhood settles down in this spot, for should a man lose his honesty, or a woman her virtue, both are ejected from the close parish, and, of course, take up their abode in the next open one. The houses are small and dear, crammed with grown-up children and lodgers. Oxford shire.—Though the cottages are as commodious and well arranged as in most agricultural districts, it must not be supposed that much may not yet be done in the way of improvement, or that cottages are nearly perfect. Far otherwise. One great hindrance to the elevation of our labouring poor is the defective accommodation in cottages, many of which have only one bedroom. Parents and children, grown boys and girls, are huddled together in the same room—nay, sometimes in the same bed. This evil is chiefly felt in the small towns and open villages. For this we have to thank the law of settlement. Gentle men who take interest in and are very kind to the villagers on their own estates are often quite unmindful of the condition of those un fortunate poor who belong to their parish, but who do not live in it; and many landlords, while very good and charitable towards their cottagers, are also very strict with them. It is the unfortunate policy of the settlement law to offer inducements to the demolishing cottages where they are urgently required, and to the congregating them where they are not. Even farmers are so short-sighted as to object to cottages on or near their farms, because they fear an augmentation of the poor rate. Thus it is, wherever you look for evidence on this matter on which you can depend, it is always exactly the same. In every case there is this struggle among parishes to get rid of the poor, with the same re sult—of driving them into parishes where there is no adequate cottage accommodation, and from which they have often to walk miles to their work. That is all that this report of Dr. Hunter proves, and if you could succeed, as the hon. Member has not done, in discrediting it altogether, you would but be obliged to fall back on evidence which has been given on authority that you cannot doubt, founded on evidence collected by your own Committees and by persons whose experience is beyond question, all pointing to the advisability of this measure and the necessity of doing away with parochial settlement. I cannot suppose that my hon. Friend the Member for Whitby (Mr. Thompson) who opposes the measure at this stage, and who pro poses to refer it to a Select Committee, can do so, with the deliberate purpose of preventing its passing into law. I understand from my hon. Friend that his object is to inquire into the incidence of the rate as it would occur under this Bill. He objects to the present exemptions from rating in certain cases that exist, and to the manner in which the rate falls on different classes of property, and he has asked me whether there is any prospect next Session, if this Bill should pass, of an inquiry being instituted into the system under which certain property is allowed to escape. Now, I do not want any inquiry into that matter. I have no doubt about the incidence of the rate or that this Bill will have the effect of removing much injustice that exists now, and I am also ready to say that I am as well aware as any one can be of the capricious manner in which, in many respects, property is made to bear the burden of maintaining the poor. It is not for me, however, to give my hon. Friend any undertaking to initiate such an inquiry as he desires. We are now under circumstances here that none of us can say when we next meet what side of the House he may sit upon or where he may be. But I may say this, that the Act expires next Session which provides for the exemption of stock-in-trade from its legal liability of contributing to the support of the poor, and it will be for the Legislature in its wisdom to say whether that exemption shall continue or not; and that would be the appropriate opportunity for an inquiry how far it is politic and just that such an exemption shall continue, as well as other exemptions that we know to exist. If the present Government should be in power, and they should have the opportunity of instituting such an inquiry, and if such an assurance would induce my hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment, I will offer him the assurance that, if I should hold office, I will either propose it or rather support such a proposal if made by another. It is for him to state whether that will be a sufficient reason for him to allow this Bill to pass now—a Bill which has been so many years before Parliament—which has been recommended by so many Committees, and which was only proposed after such preliminary measures as seem to make it a legitimate and logical step in the progress of legislation on the subject. And here perhaps I should call attention once again to what has been previously done to prepare the way for the legislation now proposed; for the House has somewhat lost sight of the position in which the law stands in this matter. There had been difficulties in carrying out this system of union rating, and of abolishing parochial settlement, and one difficulty had been this—that there had been a want of uniformity in the mode of assessing parishes in any given union for the purpose of rating. Some assessed themselves on one principle and some on another. There had been no uniformity in the mode of determining the rateable value of property. Parishes were required also to contribute to the common fund of the union according to the number of the poor and not the value of the property. I found that my predecessor, Mr. Baines, was very anxious to amend the law in these respects, for he found that the measure he had proposed for abolishing settlement was specially resisted owing to the great inequalities in the contributions to the rate, of which the former system admitted, and in which so many persons were interested; and he sought, by spreading the change over a considerable period of time eventually to provide for rating property equally and uniformly throughout a union according to its value. When I entered upon the office I found a Committee was sitting to consider this subject, and which having reported strongly in favour of a change, I submitted a measure to carry it out, and the Legislature having passed a Bill to meet the former defects of the law, we are now in a state in which we have a uniform assessment of property in every union, and every parish that is called upon to contribute to the general fund is assessed according to the value of property in the parish. With that change came another, that persons who had lived for three years in a union should not be removed, and that the burden of maintaining them should be cast upon a common fund. We have now then a uniform assessment of the union, and an equal contribution to the common fund, and we have a very large proportion of the poor of the union maintained from that fund. How little more is that now asked to be done, seeing what Parliament has allowed to be done already The union poor have in creased enormously, and are now supported by a common fund, it is only proposed that all those that claim relief in the union should be maintained in the same way. I give the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) credit for his foresight in this matter. In 1861 he said, that if the House allowed the Bill to pass causing parishes to contribute to a general fund, and the poor were allowed to be irremovable in the way then proposed, Parliament could not resist maintaining all the poor by union rating and settlement. I remember the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) urged the hon. Member for Worcestershire to let the Bill pass, but that he objected, asserting there would be no possibility of resisting such a Bill as the present, if the measure of 1861 were allowed to pass. I only mean to show that Gentlemen opposite allowed a Bill to pass in 1861 which allowed largo numbers of the poor to be chargeable upon the common fund, and the hon. Member for Worcestershire then said, and other Members knew that, if the mea sure were passed a measure like this could not be resisted. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir John Pakington) formerly objected to the Irremovable Bill, but now, like most men of sense, he was aware that they either must go forwards or backwards, that they could not stand where they were. It really is not a matter for further inquiry. Every question of principle has been settled, and every objection in that respect has been overcome. After what has passed, I hope, my hon. Friend will see the importance of now allowing this measure to be proceeded with, and will not persist in his Motion to transfer it to a Select Committee, which must result in the loss of the Bill, and I do trust that the House will be allowed to go into Committee upon the Bill.


said, that the farmers in his part of the country were not at all favourable to the Bill, and he had received many remonstrances against the system it was proposed to introduce.


said, when he gave his notice to refer the Bill to a Select Committee some weeks ago he expected that there would be ample time to report before the close of the Session. After the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman that there would not be time to complete the inquiry this Session, and as lie had promised to appoint a Select Committee next Session, if it should be required, he would, with the permission of the House, not press his Motion.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 266; Noes 93; Majority 173.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

[For Division List see Appendix.]


said, he had no wish to object to the Speaker leaving the chair, but he wished to explain that in the whole course of his speech he had never said that he was satisfied with the dwellings of the labouring poor—an assertion which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Villiers) had endeavoured to fasten on him. On the contrary, he had said that he was not satisfied, that there was much to be done, and he had spoken very strongly of the shortcomings of all, in whatever situation they might be. He wished to relieve himself of that charge. As to what the right hon. Gentleman had said of his general opinions he had no objection to make. His opinions about settlement were very well known, for he had given notice of an Amendment for doing away altogether with settlement and removal, which he hoped would be successful, and in which he hoped, after the language which had been used by him, to have the right hon. Gentleman's sup port. He had no objection to going into Committee on the understanding that the Chairman would report Progress at once, for the right hon. Gentleman could hardly expect to go on with the Bill to-night.

Bill considered in Committee.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again on Thursday.