HC Deb 22 May 1865 vol 179 cc663-702

Order for Consideration, as amended, read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."


rose to move that certain expenses now charged upon the Union and parochial poor rates should be repaid out of moneys provided by Parliament for that purpose. They were entering on a new phase of poor law legislation. It was well known that all property in England was liable to be rated to the poor, but up to that time a small portion only of that property was in fact rated to the poor. So long as the old parochial management lasted it did not appear desirable to take any further steps with regard to the rating of other property, and the holders of real property were perfectly willing to accept the whole of the burden. Some years ago attempts were made to rate stock in trade as something tangible within a parish, but they signally failed from legal difficulties. Portions of the county rate, the police rate, the salaries of masters and mistresses in union workhouses, the stipends of pupil teachers, and one quarter of the expenses of the medical officers were, however, now paid out of the Consolidated Fund, and it appeared to him that this was a proper time for mooting the question, and seeing whether that principle should not be extended to all those items of poor rate expenditure to which his Motion referred. The purport of his Resolution was, that in the opinion of the House all the items paid out of the poor rates over which the guardians had no control should be paid out of the general taxation of the country. It was true that property in the kingdom was vastly increasing in value, but personal property had increased a great deal more in proportion than real property. They were now discussing a proposition for a re-distribution of the charge for the poor rate; but, by the system proposed by the Bill, one-eighth or one-tenth of the property in many parishes would be confiscated. The measure he laid before the House must not be regarded as being in opposition to the Bill, but rather as its necessary complement; because he thought that at the time they were putting such heavy new charges upon the landowners they were bound to take off those he proposed. Although he had no desire that the vote of the House should interfere with the Budget of this year, he trusted it would act as an instruction to the Chancellors of the Exchequer of future years. He was asking the House to take the sum of £1,700,000 off the poor ratepayers, and to lay it upon those who employed great numbers of people—often in unhealthy trades, greatly conducing to pauperism—and who at present were only lightly taxed towards the support of the poor. It might be said that his measure showed a tendency towards centralization; but, in point of fact, the items he proposed to deal with were already centralized, and were entirely under the control of the House of Commons and the Poor Law Board, the local authorities having no power whatever to deal with them. It might be said that the operation of this measure would soon be extended to Ireland and Scotland: but to that he had no objection. Unfortunately the Bill brought in by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board had been regarded in a party spirit, as an advantage to be gained by the towns against the country. The measure he was proposing, however, could not be regarded in that light, as the vote of the House could only be taken as an intimation to Chancellors of the Exchequer that in the opinion of that House a certain portion of the poor rates should be placed upon the national taxation. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Amendment.


, in seconding the Amendment, said, lie never knew anything more irregular than the way in which the Bill had been brought before the House. It was brought in and read a first time on the 20th of February, it was read a second time on the 27th of March, and it was not until the 28th of April that the Report upon which it was founded was in the possession of hon. Members. It was not laid upon the table in the usual manner, but was sent to the Paper Office, and hon. Members were told they might there obtain a copy if they thought fit. The Report, the title of which effectually concealed its real character, contained most unfounded charges against the landowners of almost every county in England. Mr. Henley had confuted the charges brought by Dr. Simon against the landowners of Oxfordshire; and he (Mr. Packe) wished to contradict most emphatically the allegations which had been made against the landed proprietors of Leicestershire. He could state most confidently as to that county that the assertions of the reports of Dr. Simon and Dr. Hunter were not only unproved but utterly unfounded; and he believed the same might be said of other counties. The statement of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board that the farmers were in favour of this measure was disproved by the fact that while petitions against it had been presented from farmers having nearly 12,000 signatures, the petitions in its favour had only 5,000 signatures. The fact was that it was a contest between town and country unions. That this was so would be seen at once by a reference to the boroughs represented by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department and the noble Lord at the head of the Government. The borough of Morpeth petitioned for the Bill, and the union of Morpeth against it; the union of Tiverton petitioned against the Bill, and the borough of Tiverton in its favour. So far would this Bill be from benefiting the poor that it would diminish the interest of the landowners in them, and would reduce rather than add to the number of cottages upon their estates. Under the Bill towns which paid a rate of 4s. would have to pay only 2s., and the country parishes which paid 2s. would hereafter have to pay 4s. So that the whole effect of the Bill would be to transfer money from the pockets of the country ratepayers to those of the payers of rates in towns, and he could not imagine a more dishonest course of legislation than that which would sanction an operation which between one man and another, would simply be larceny. He would second the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House it is expedient that the following expenses now charged upon the Union and Parochial Poor Rates, or which will become chargeable upon the rates of Unions and single Parishes throughout England and Wales, should be repaid to the Unions or Parishes by which they have been so expended out of moneys provided by Parliament:

Amounting to the following sums:— £501,368. All expenses of the maintenance of pauper lunatics in asylums or licensed houses; £679,480. The establishment charges of Poor Law Unions, or of single parishes under boards of guardians, including all salaries and rations of officers (in addition to those now repaid out of Her Majesty's Treasury); £468,745. All other expenses of or immediately connected with the relief of the poor, excepting only those of the in-maintenance and out-relief of the poor:

All Poor Pate expenditure for the following purposes, being unconnected with poor relief, viz:—£43,273. Constables Fees and cost of proceedings before justices; £69,130. Payments on account of Registration Act; £45,660. Vaccination Fees; £36,586. Expenses in respect of Parliamentary or Municipal Registration, and costs of Jury Lists,"—(Mr. Knight,) —instead thereof.

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


said, he did not think that a very strong case had been made out by the arguments of either the Mover or Seconder of the Amendment. When the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Packe) talked of confiscation, and of some parishes paying a rate of 4s. under the Bill, he would refer him to the valuable Return of the whole rates payable in every parish in the kingdom, presented to Parliament on the Motion of the late Mr. Charles Buller, and which he thought would lessen his alarm. It appeared from that Return that the average rate throughout the Kingdom was not more than 1s. 6d. in the pound—an amount which he did not think any parish would exceed after the present Bill passed. Though, however, the reasons for the Motion were not conclusive, yet the subject was one that deserved consideration. He was not an advocate for a national rate, but he knew of no reason why the chargeability for the poor should not be treated in a national manner as much as possible. The hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) could not expect the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consent to such a sweeping measure at present; but in the interests both of the public and the poor themselves, it would be wise for the Government to take the subject into consideration. There was strong argument for throwing upon the Consolidated Fund the establishment charges now paid by unions, and certainly a great change was demanded in the medical treatment of paupers. At present the Government contributed a moiety of the medical charges, but the medical officers were underpaid, and out of their small allowance had to provide medicines. The consequence of this arrangement was that those prescriptions which science had pointed out as important in particular cases could not be complied with, and when port wine, stimulating food, or expensive drugs like quinine were ordered, the poor patients were not able to get the pure articles, if they got them at all. He had no doubt whatever that the present measure would prove highly beneficial, and he was firmly convinced also that another Parliament would not take place without a further Amendment of the Poor Laws of England. Those laws ought to be a proper and well-digested code. Hitherto they had been a disgrace to the statute-book; they had worked out great injustice to the rate-paying community, and had been cruel and oppressive to the poor themselves, and he would give his vote for every measure which had for its object the equalization of burdens, and making the Poor Laws what they ought to be—a charitable and well-considered machinery for relieving the destitution of our fellow countrymen.


said, he was sorry to have again to trespass upon the attention of the House in defence of the report of Dr. Hunter; but as statements had been made with respect to it by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Packe) and others, to the justice of which he could not assent, he deemed it to be his duty to point out why it was that he believed the report to be trustworthy, and not fairly open to charges which had been brought against it. He had a few evenings ago, when it was alleged that the report had been made to order, given his positive assurance that it was only a sequel to others, and that it had been made without any reference whatever to the measure under discussion, or to any legislation contemplated by Government. His right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board, upon the same evening, stated that he had never heard of the report until after notice of the proposed introduction of the Bill had been given. Upon that point, then, he felt satisfied that it was quite unnecessary to add a single word. But, then, it was contended by several hon. Members that there was an evident animus in the report hostile to the owners of landed property, and that the inquiries of those who framed it had been specially directed to the evils in connection with the residences of the poor which existed in the country districts, while it was well known that evils equally great existed in towns. His answer to that charge was a reference to the various inquiries which had, during the last seven years, been made under the auspices of the Privy Council in the exercise of the power which had been transferred to it by the Public Health Act of 1858, and which had been mainly directed to the condition of things in the manufacturing districts and great towns. Since the passing of that Act investigations had been instituted by order of the Privy Council into the existence of diseases of different descriptions, and the rate of mortality in various portions of England and Wales, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Nottingham, and others of our large towns, had come within the scope of those investigations, so that it would be seen that the attention of the Privy Council in seeking for information had not been specially directed to the agricultural districts. The reports in reference to these large manufacturing towns had depicted great evil as prevalent there in language quite as vigorous and graphic as that quoted by the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire, and which the right hon. Gentleman characterizes as unjust when applied to the rural districts. For instance, the town of Merthyr Tydvil, with which he (Mr. H. A. Bruce) was particularly well acquainted, had several times attracted the attention of the medical Inspectors of the Department of Health, and they had spoken of its death rate as unnecessarily high; the number of deaths from smallpox being, they said, greater there than that of any other town in the country, and ascribing that fact, among other causes, to imperfect drainage. What, under those circumstances, he would ask, did the inhabitants of Merthyr Tydvil do?—and he would beg hon. Gentlemen not to imagine that in referring to their conduct he was making an electioneering speech. Alarmed by the statements contained in the report to which he referred, they bestirred themselves, and were at the present moment engaged in constructing drainage works at a very great expense; nor did they deem it necessary—as had been done on the opposite side of the House in the case of Dr. Hunter—to impute improper motives to the officers who made the report, or to say that they were actuated by prejudice against a manufacturing population. It might, however, be urged that although all that he had just stated might be true it would not justify the publication of a report which was in itself exaggerated. But had the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord John Manners), he would ask, or the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), succeeded in raising any well founded doubt as to the accuracy of the statements which the report contained? As to the speech of the noble Lord, it was, he maintained, founded entirely on a misconception. He produced a Return which had been moved for by the hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Mr. Knight), and had gone through it page by page with the object of proving that in a considerable number of the parishes mentioned in the report of Dr. Hunter, as parishes in which the number of houses had decreased while the population had increased—and proved or appeared to prove that in as many as 290 out of the 821, the number of houses had actually increased. Well, that, no doubt, would be strong evidence to invalidate the correctness of Dr. Hunter's report, if it proceeded upon the same basis as that upon which the Return was founded. The fact was, however, that the report of Dr. Hunter which was, in fact, extracted from the Census Report of 1861, included all the houses, whether inhabited or uninhabited, in the parishes to which it related; while the Return moved for by the hon. Member for West Worcestershire had reference to the number of inhabited houses only. The difference of the bases on which the two reports were framed was, therefore, the real foundation of the error which the noble Lord imagined he had detected in the report of Dr. Hunter, and he maintained, after having again carefully investigated Dr. Hunter's figures, that they were strictly accurate. He now came to the charges made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who in the strongest terms declared it to be his belief that the statements contained in the report of Dr. Hunter were incorrect. The right hon. Gentleman in making these charges traversed a wide field, but had invited special attention to Oxfordshire. "There," said the right hon. Gentleman, "I know my ground, and in that part of England, so far as I am aware, the demolition of cottages is unknown. It could not take place without my knowledge. I make that statement unreservedly, and in the strongest possible terms." [Mr. HENLEY: I was speaking of the close parishes; for that was the question.] There was nothing in the Census to show which were the close parishes and which were not; but when it was found that out of 300 parishes in Oxfordshire there were eighty which in the last Census showed a diminution in the number of houses, the presumption was very strong against the accuracy of the right hon. Gentleman's statement. In that county there was a slight increase of population during the ten years. Was, then, this increase rural or urban? The only considerable town in Oxfordshire was the city of Oxford, and that city showed a diminution of population. A slight increase must therefore have taken place in the country districts. But in 80 parishes in the county there had been a decrease of houses; and the natural inference, therefore, was that this decrease had not arisen from the decrease of the population, but from the various motives which induced landowners to reduce the number of cottages upon their property. The statement made by Dr. Hunter that in Oxfordshire there were 14 parishes, in which an increase of population had been attended by a diminution of houses, would only more clearly demonstrate the same argument. The right hon. Gentleman then stated that Dr. Hunter exhibited great ignorance of the working of the Poor Law when he asserted that the tendency of legislation had led to more frequent eviction of the poor from close parishes in modern than in former times. Before, however, the Act of Parliament was passed which prevented the removal of all persons who had resided, first for five, and then for three years in a parish or union, a man on becoming chargeable would have been removed to his former place of settlement, but under more recent legislation the facilities for unsettling the inhabitants of a parish had enormously increased, and had no doubt led in many instances to a diminution of houses. He might add that he had consulted the Census Reports, in which hon. Members would find hardly a page where local registrars did not state that the diminution of population was attributable to the destruction of houses. The test which he thus offered to the House was, therefore, a very easy one. In his hand he held a list of the 80 parishes to which he had referred, and that list was at the service of the right hon. Gentleman. It exhibited in every case a diminution of house accommodation, and in some instances a considerable diminution. In Somersetshire, out of 513 parishes there had been a decrease of houses in 318. It would, no doubt, be monstrous to assert that this decrease had in every case arisen from the arbitrary and tyrannical exercise of the power of the landlords. No doubt other interests and other inducements had led the inhabitants of many parishes to change their quarters. While, on the one hand, it must be admitted that the increase of education and the facilities of locomotion had attracted many people from the country to the towns in the expectation of receiving higher wages, it could not, on the other hand, on the evidence furnished by Dr. Hunter, and the experience of persons who were well acquainted with the country, be denied that the power which the landlords possessed had in many instances been exercised. He objected entirely to the interpretation which the right hon. Gentleman had put upon the statements of Dr. Hunter. In the case of Ossington, for instance, the right hon. Gentleman said— 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 had been a large increase in the number of houses in the place. One would have imagined that Dr. Hunter had purposely suppressed that fact.


said, that the right hon. Gentleman entirely mistook his argument. He had endeavoured to show that the period of thirty years should be made the basis for calculation instead of the shorter time.


would, of course, accept the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to several statements of Dr. Hunter for the purpose of showing that that gentleman had indulged in improper innuendoes against the course adopted by some great landlords, among whom were the right hon. Gentleman in the chair the Duke of Bedford, and the Marquess of Exeter, and insisted that Dr. Hunter had unfairly criticised their proceedings. But the fact was that Dr. Hunter gave these landowners credit for their benevolent intentions, and said they had built excellent houses; but in a spirit of fair and honest criticism he pointed out that in his opinion their benevolent efforts had to a certain extent been misdirected—that the class of dwellings built by them was so costly as to be beyond the reach of those for whom they were intended. Again, the right hon. Gentleman tried to raise a prejudice against Dr. Hunter for an assumed assertion (because he never made it) with reference to Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and five other counties, in which demolition had taken place. It was triumphantly answered that the Census showed that there had been an increase in houses in those counties. But the statement of Dr. Hunter was, that there was a number of places in those counties in which there had been an increase of population and a decrease in the number of houses, and that statement was not impugned. He had examined with Dr. Hunter all the statements which had been disputed, and he was satisfied that in every case that gentleman had exercised care and impartiality. He had heard it stated in that House that a good cottage could not be built for less than £150; but how could a labourer with from £25 to £30 a year be expected to pay the £10 or £12 rent, which might be regarded as a fair return upon such an expenditure? There was one point in Dr. Hunter's report which was open to misconstruction, and he was therefore glad that he had the opportunity of giving Dr. Hunter's own explanation. Speaking of Pirton, in Herts, Dr. Hunter said— Of the twenty-eight parishes of Hitchin Union, destruction of cots has exceeded the re-construction in nine, nor are the evictions confined to these cases, for the Census tells us of houses which have driven away the people by sheer dilapidation, where only one room remains habitable, but which are still returned as 'houses,' though only able to shelter half they were used to. In nine cases out often where the Census reports a decrease of population, and adds a note that it is due to emigration, that word may be safely expunged, and eviction substituted as being the first cause of the decrease."—p. 207. He would candidly admit that the statement was incorrect, if applied to all England; but the remark only referred to this particular county, where the inducements to emigrate were very few, and where, in Dr. Hunter's opinion, eviction and not emigration was the chief cause of the decrease in the number of houses. If there had been no demolition of houses how did they disappear? Not surely by mere natural decay. He thought demolition was the proper word to describe the cause of their disappearance; and he confessed, with every desire to find a solution not unfavourable to the right hon. Gentleman, he could not find any which would account for the reduction so as to bear out the statement he had made that the assertions of Dr. Hunter were rash and without authority. He did not mean to say that there were not in Dr. Hunter's report expressions that would have been as well unused; but the very note on Stanton Harcourt, which was the special object of the right hon. Gentleman's attack, was susceptible of a very simple explanation. Dr. Hunter assured him that he had not the slightest intention of reflecting on the conduct of Lord Harcourt, but it occurred to him while reading Mr. Read's report on Oxfordshire farming in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, that a chapter in Southey's Doctor was worth consulting on the subject, and he inserted a note to that effect, and called attention to it. The chapter contained such arguments as might fairly be offered in defence of special acts of demolition. Perhaps it would have been as well if mere literary allusions had been avoided, as sometimes leading to misconception; but, he repeated, there was no intention to reflect on Lord Harcourt or his representatives. He was satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman himself did not know the facts as to the demolition of cottages when he addressed the House. The more the truth was ventilated, the better the results that might be expected to follow. The more inquiry was made, the more the charges of Dr. Hunter would be shown to be founded in truth. He had shown that this was the case with respect to the principal heads of accusation, and he was satisfied that after making a fair allowance for such occasional errors of detail as must creep into works dealing with so vast a number of facts, the report was truthful in spirit and accurate in substance.


said, he was very glad he happened to be in the House during the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and he hoped the House would allow him to offer a few words of explanation on this subject. He was bound to accept, and he did accept at the time, what had been stated by both right hon. Gentlemen—that these reports had not been, as he said, using perhaps not a very good phrase, "done to order" But, as so much had been made of the expression, he might be allowed to state what led him, erroneously perhaps, to that conclusion. He found the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Villiers), in introducing his Bill, mentioned Dr. Simon's report in the month of February, and he found in Dr Simon's report the Bill of the Right hon. Gentleman named. It was quite possible the President of the Poor Law Board might not have seen this report; and by one of those unaccountable coincidences that sometimes happen, Dr. Simon might have seen the draught of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, and it surely was not very unnatural for him (Mr. Henley) to have put the two things together. In this way he was led to the conclusion he had stated. Of course he must have been in error; but he believed 99 out of 100 people would have come to the same conclusion. The Vice President of the Board of Education (Mr. Bruce) would do him the justice to say that throughout the statement by which be feared that he had wearied the House, he had in no instance questioned what Dr. Hunter saw. On the sad state of many cottages which he described, the deficiency of accommodation, or the overcrowding of the inmates, he gave no opinion. But he did this, he found that in almost every county he reported on, Dr. Hunter made a broad charge against the rural landlords of driving out the people by the demolition of cottages. It was that charge only he attempted to meet, and he did not think what the right hon. Gentleman said, had in any degree altered the position of that question. He had quoted the case of Ossington to show that Dr. Hunter himself referred to the period of thirty years as a better criterion in such a matter. He had gone back to three Censuses, not to take advantage of any accidental batch of cottages pulled down or rebuilt while a Census was being taken; he took thirty years as a just period to guess by. And now with regard to the 821 parishes—what had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman was quite true; the uninhabited houses made the difference. But he went into this part of the case and showed that in all these 821 parishes, taking the thirty years as a criterion, there was not a diminution, and that with reference to the ten years from 1851 to 1861 the witness quoted was not a fair witness. But that was not all. No one could doubt that the charge was against the owners of rural parishes; because Dr. Hunter distinguished for the first time between rural parishes and agricultural labourers living in other parishes. It was, therefore, perfectly clear that his animus—he could not help thinking so still I—his inuendos—his direct assertions were I all against landlords of close rural parishes as demolishing the number of houses and I thus throwing the people into other places. The right hon. Gentleman said it would be great injustice to ascribe all this to what he called the tyranny of the landlords. That was precisely what he had protested against. He so far agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; but there was this difference between them—he maintained the facts had not been proved; the right hon. Gentleman said they were partly proved and partly not. No one could prove a negative; but he said the case had not been affirmatively proved. The charge was against the landlords of rural parishes. Now how many of the 821 parishes were rural parishes? Some of them were in the mining districts, and others had nothing to do with rural landlords. Some of them were situated in the county of Berks next to the county he represented. Two of these were market towns. These were very odd cases of close rural parishes, and one of them he (Dr. Hunter) visited. In Berkshire, Abingdon and Wantage were quoted among those 821 rural parishes where the tyranny of the landlords had driven out the people. Was not that enough to make any one misgive? Again, there were fourteen places in the county in which he lived five of which could under no circumstances be called close parishes. Of the other nine, some were single properties; he did not know whether the others were so or not; but they were scattered all over the county. The right hon. Gentleman had made a great deal of Dr. Hunter not having said that in some places which he named houses had been pulled down. No, Dr. Hunter did not say it, but he insinuated it; and that was one reason why he complained that throughout his report Dr. Hunter did more by way of inuendo than by actual statement—which was not fair. As the right hon. Gentleman himself had said with regard to the footnote about evictions, he thought that would have been better left out. The right hon. Gentleman further stated that the city of Oxford had a decreasing population. [Mr. H. A. BRUCE: In the last ten years.] That was the first time he had heard it. He had looked over the Census Returns, and unless he had added up the figures wrongly, the population of Oxford was an increasing population. The population of the county of Oxford, apart from the city, however, as he had mentioned before, had actually decreased between the years 1851 and 1861. The right hon. Gentleman had gone on to tell them there were eighty places in Oxfordshire in which there had been what he called a demolition of houses. It would be very well if they were informed what those places were. There might have been a house more or a house less in those places; but that did not at all sustain the allegation that there had been a demolition of houses for the purpose of driving out the people—for that was Dr. Hunter's charge. All he could say was, that he did not know of it. He knew that for the last fifty years throughout the length and breadth of the county, the old thatched hovels, with no upstairs, had been gradually decreasing. Perhaps there was, here and there, a parish in which one or two were left with very aged people in them; but when these people died out these small hovels went down, and other houses were probably built in their stead. That had been the case in his own neighbourhood, and in the parish in which he lived there been a change of that sort. He believed it had occurred in many other places. But in insinuating that there had been a demolition of houses for the purpose of driving the people out, he thought Dr. Hunter had made a great mistake. That was the conclusion to which he had come, and nothing which the right hon. Gentleman had said had altered the view he took. And now that the matter had been so much challenged he could not help naming one or two other things which he had not mentioned before; because he was not in the habit if he knew it of exaggerating anything—he had expressed, or endeavoured to express, strongly his full agreement that there were plenty of shortcomings among them all. He had never controverted any one of the statements made by Dr. Hunter, either as to the number of people living in each house, or the smallness of their houses, or any point of that kind. But, attacked as he bad been for what he had said, he thought it right to call the attention of the House to another matter that showed at least a colouring, if nothing else, which he had never known before. Dr. Hunter in his description of these places spoke of so many adults and so many children in a given space; and in the commencement of his lecture he fixed the adult age at thirteen. The Poor Law fixed the adult age at sixteen; and certainly in no work of authority that he knew of was it fixed so low as thirteen. Those who knew anything of the children of the rural parishes knew that they were not very forward at that age. Why, the Board of Education of which the right hon. Gentleman was Vice President, had been urging them to keep not adults but children at school up to the age of fourteen. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that his Department regarded boys and girls of thirteen as children or as adults? For that was surely a matter which coloured the picture very highly, when they came to reckon a family of children, the eldest of which might be fifteen, as including so many of these "adults" The right hon. Gentleman had also alluded to a reference which he had made to a quotation from Southey's Doctor. He wished it had been left alone. The right hon. Gentleman stated to the House that the arguments pro and con. were put forward in that very interesting paper; but he did not state what was that great fact—namely, that in that paper there was an imaginary sketch given of a nobleman who was sweeping away all the houses near him—he did not tell them that there was a Quaker introduced into the story, who held out a good while, but who was at last over-persuaded to give in and sell his bit of ground; and that then the great man was able to make a clean sweep and get rid of all these people. He did not tell them that Southey's Doctor related how the Quaker was so much put out that he went mad and committed suicide, because he had been instrumental in helping that great wrong, nor did he tell them of the allusion to Ahab and Naboth—yet all these things were part of the story. He thought, therefore, the House would judge that when he complained of the introduction of such matters he had not salted the dish any more than was necessary, and that if he stated these things now that the right hon. Gentleman had dragged them out he had only done what he was bound to do in justice to himself. It was perfectly true that in Southey's Doctor they did not speak of the demolition of the village of Nuneham, but of the removal of the people; but Dr. Hunter quoted that paper as if the village of Nuneham had been demolished, and no other village built up in its stead; and no one who knew the facts described in that paper could come to any other conclusion from reading the footnote in the report than the one he had suggested. He repeated that such footnotes, bringing in literary matter which had little concern with the question, had far better be omitted. He had been restrained from stating as strongly as he could have done what was the injustice of the report; but he was obliged to state it now more fully, and after what had taken place that night he thought he should be acquitted by the House. He believed he had now nearly answered all the right hon. Gentleman's remarks with regard to what he deemed his misrepresentation of that report. All he could say was, that if he had been wrong it was not from want of taking pains to understand it. He had thought that throughout the report there ran a direct charge against the rural landlords of England for wholesale attempts to get rid of the poor people. He had given the reasons why he thought that grievous charge was unfounded, and showed that there was no evidence which proved it to be true; and he believed it would have been better if Dr. Hunter had been more careful. With reference to the Motion proposed by his hon. Friend for throwing some charges on the Consolidated Fund, he believed that no clause embodying the sense of the Resolution could be introduced into the Bill at its present stage. The Resolution, therefore, must only be regarded as an expression of opinion that something ought to be done by the Government to review the incidence of the poor rates. The Bill of the right hon. Gentleman would effect a very considerable shifting of burdens, and it was not unnatural that under such circumstances the country should be anxious for a review of all the incidents of taxation relating to the support of the poor. Whatever the reasons, personal property had now for many years been exempted from those contributions to which at one time it was subject in common with real property, notwithstanding that of late years the produce of personal property had risen so as nearly to equal that of real property. It being highly desirable that when burdens were shifted all should be made as far as possible to bear their fair share, he viewed the proposal of his hon. Friend as a protest against the continued exemption of that species of property, and as a suggestion for bringing a particular description of property into charge, instead of adopting the more difficult practice of taxing it as it arose. At the very time when proportions were being thus altered some special charges upon real property had grown very largely. For instance, the charge for lunatics at one time comparatively trifling, had enormously increased. The good feeling of the age required that every appliance which skill and humanity could devise for the treatment of these unhappy people should be accorded to them; but two things were not to be forgotten—first, that the care of lunatics was attended with very great cost, and next, that rural occupations were the least productive of the unhappy disease which rendered this expense necessary; and it was, therefore, a question whether it was not just that these charges should be provided for without being a direct burden on the land. Regarding the Motion of his hon. Friend not so much as unanswerable in itself as tending towards a fairer apportionment of burdens in future, he should give his vote for it. And he felt it right to state his views on this question, having been so pointedly alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman. If stock in trade and other property continued still to be exempted from contribution, it was the duty of the Government to find some means of giving countervailing advantages to the landed interests, upon which so many burdens were exclusively entailed.


, as one of the representatives of Dorsetshire, said, he had every reason to be satisfied with the terms in which Dr. Hunter had alluded to that county, and gave him credit for the ability distinguishing his reports. But, at the same time, he had fallen into inaccuracies which ought to be corrected. In the parish of Charlton Marshall, he stated, that "167 houses were standing in 1851, while only 124 remained in 1861." (p. 179). The facts, as he had obtained them from one of the principal proprietors of the village—a gentleman who had devoted a great deal of time and money to its improvement, and whose information was in every way to be depended upon—were that between the years 1851 and 1861 fourteen houses were pulled down in the parish and forty-five rebuilt, showing an increase of thirty-one houses instead of a diminution of forty-three. In Tarrant Hinton Dr. Hunter's report conveyed the impression that there had been a decrease, attributed to houses having been destroyed by fire and not rebuilt. The facts were that a farmhouse was burnt down, but that in its place five or six cottages had been built. Persons who only studied the question in their own rooms in large cities were quite unaware of the difficulties with which landowners had to contend; they were ignorant of the fact that cottages were often let with the farms, and knew nothing of the lifehold leases which manifestly could not be interfered with till they fell in. Too much must not be expected on this point, for cottage building undoubtedly was a bad investment, and many landed proprietors were not in a position to lay out the money. At the same time there was no doubt that the landed proprietors as a body were fully alive to their responsibilities, and in the last twenty years material steps had been taken to improve and increase the dwellings of the poor. Dr. Hunter should have verified his assertions on the spot.


agreed with his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire that there were many observations in Dr. Hunter's report which were unnecessary, and that that gentleman ought to have been contented with stating facts, and been less ready to draw inferences. Dr. Hunter found fault with the Duke of Rutland, and said that although his Grace's cottages were very good, yet they produced great poverty, because the rents were too low. He (Sir Baldwin Leighton) could not draw that conclusion from such a fact, as the rents were not nominal in amount; and, at any rate, it could not be said that was a fair observation to make in respect to it. He must be permitted to deny the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) that cottages seldom fell down from natural decay. Great numbers of his cottages had fallen from natural decay, or would have done so, but for having been taken down. Much had been said as to the necessity of a labourer being near his work. He believed it was more conducive to his welfare that he should live under the head landlord himself than under the farmer. But there was a case upon his own property where a waggoner had to walk eight miles a day to work, and, though a cottage fell vacant, he would not give it to the man, because he declined to have about his house one of whose character he did not approve. No facts had been brought forward to show that, although there was occasional crowding in the country districts, it was anything at all like that in large or even in small towns. All this sort of thing must be remembered, and people who lived in towns, and who, looking over this Return, found fault with the landlords, had no practical knowledge of the matter. No doubt there were instances of overcrowding, but they very frequently arose from special circumstances. When a man took his cottage he generally kept it for life if his behaviour was good; and the country gentleman of England would never think of turning out a man when his family became large to make room for a man with a smaller family. He once had a cottage which was in an exceedingly crowded state, as there were eleven persons living in it; but it had happened that a widow was left in it with three children, and as she wished it he did not disturb her. She then married a widower with three children, and they afterwards had three more. But they were well conducted, always paid their rent, and had got their children off their hands in a creditable manner; but he as the landowner could not be expected to build a cottage for them sufficiently large to properly accomodate a family of nine children. These were cases which ought not to be overlooked by theorists. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) that there were many things put upon the poor rate which had no right to be so placed. There was the cost of vaccination, which had no more to do with the poor rate than the cost of an ambassador at Constantinople; and so with the cost of registering births, marriages, and deaths. Those were arrangements for the benefit of the whole population, and ought to be borne by the Consolidated Fund. Again, the greater part of the cost of criminals was paid out of the county rate—but by far the larger number of offences was committed against personal property or against the person, and that expense therefore ought to be borne by the country at large. Though this was described as a fair measure, there was no doubt that it would make a great difference in the incidence of taxation; and, he might add, that there was one thing for which the proprietors of close parishes received no credit, and that was the great efforts they made to keep the poor above pauperism. They also, generally speaking, maintained very good cottages on their estates.


said, he would trespass on the attention of the House for a few minutes, because he could not agree in the concluding observation of the Vice-President of the Education Board, that the more the Medical report was looked into the more accurate it would be found. He would advert to that part of the Return which referred to the county he represented (Dorsetshire); and he thought that the matter was not unim- portant, because the chief ground on which the Bill was advocated by the President of the Poor Law Board was that it would lead to the removal of the great grievances—the want of accommodation for the poor and the restrictions on the employment of the labouring classes. But no proofs had been given that these effects would follow from the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. A. Bruce) said cottage accommodation had diminished even where the population had increased; but the whole evidence even as to that was confined to the Report laid on the table of the House. There had no doubt been plenty of opinions quoted on the one side and the other. The right hon. Gentleman quoted that of the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis (whose loss they all deplored); and then against that they had the opinion of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley), whose authority on points like these was equal to that of any other, living or dead. That Return professed to give an account of certain parishes in which the cottage accommodation had decreased simultaneously with an increase in population. In the county which he represented, the report gave 20 parishes as having so decreased. On looking through the first five decades, beginning with the year 1801, he found that the population of those parishes had increased about one-third in the fifty years, according to the figures given in the Return. He found also that the total cottage accommodation in those 20 parishes was at the beginning of the five decades about 1,200 cottages, and at the end of the decades it had increased to 1,954 cottages. That was an increase of cottage accommodation considerably in excess, proportionably, of the increase of population. Then he came to the next decade; and, no doubt, at first sight, there appeared a decrease on the whole of cottage accommodation, while the population went on increasing; but on looking further into the matter he found that out of 20 parishes given as instances of the fact, there had been in eight no decrease whatever of cottage accommodation, and yet the Return professed to show a decrease in all the parishes. He did not know for what purpose these were put into the Return, unless it was to swell out and show a particular fact, when it really showed just the contrary. His hon. Colleage (Mr. Portman) had shown in the case of another parish, which was stated in the report to have decreased in cottages from 164 to 114 in ten years, that that was a total mistake, and that the reverse was the fact. That parish was what he might call the right hon. Gentleman's "great gun" as regarded Dorsetshire; and yet it proved to have been altogether a mistake. Having thus shown that in 9 out of the 20 parishes selected, the direct reverse of the Return was proved to be the fact, how could that Return be trusted with regard to other parishes. If it was so grievously wrong in one county only, it might be wrong in many, or all; and was it therefore a fit groundwork upon which to base legislation?


said, the Return was not the Government's; it had been moved for by an hon. Gentleman opposite.


said, he had heard the right hon. Gentleman distinctly say that in that report was to be found the proof that the demolition of cottages which had been so long in operation in England was still going on. The whole question turned upon this point, whether that was the case. He admitted quite as fully as the right hon. Gentleman that there had been times when cottages were pulled down, and in some instances for the sake of getting rid of the poor; but the facts had been grossly exaggerated, and the point upon Which he wished to join issue with the right hon. Gentleman was this—that it was since the Poor Law had been altered that the evils had been renewed. There was no inducement now to pull down cottages or to refuse to admit labourers from another parish into one's own. If it could not be shown that those evils were in operation at present—for that was the question, and they were not to legislate for years gone by—then the foundation upon which the legislation of the right hon. Gentleman was built fell away. He had shown with reference to his own county, that for the first five decades the increase of cottage accommodation had been greater than the increase of population. As long as there was no interference with the law of settlement, so long did the cottage accommodation increase in the ratio which he had described, and that the Return proved. It was only within the last ten years, since they had interfered with the law of settlement and removal, that the cottages had decreased. The Return was a fair sample of the general character of the reports of the Medical Officers of the Privy Council, and it would be well to hesitate before entertaining such statements, as any ground for legis- lating in so important a matter. The right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members throughout the debate had relied very much upon the diminution of cottage accommodation as the justification for this interference with property. There was another aspect of the matter which he desired to press on the notice of the House. The hon. Baronet who had spoken before him (Sir Baldwin Leighton) had very truly said that the landlords were not all opulent and cottage building was an expensive indulgence. But how was it proposed to encourage cottage-building by this Bill? If landlords had not means, how were they to be enabled to build cottages? Was it proposed, as had been done in other matters, to advance money at a low rate or to give them any special facilities? It was quite the contrary? Where the landlord or his tenants had to pay a shilling before, they would, under this Bill, have to pay two; where they had to pay £50 they would have to pay £100. Would the landlord be better able to build cottages when they took out of his pocket what he had before? With regard to the change of the burdens affecting parishes, the right hon. Gentleman at an earlier stage of the debate upon the Bill had stated that it had been made to the extent of 51 per cent. That had been the result of legislation since the amendment of the Poor Laws in 1834. That legislation had been, on the whole, beneficial, and he did not regret that, so far, there had been a removal of the burden from one set of parishes to another better able to bear it. But to shift the whole of the burden because they had already shifted a considerable portion of it did not appear to be called for by the circumstances of the case; nor did the right hon. Gentleman, or other hon. Members who supported the Bill, prove its necessity. With regard to the points which formed the subject matter of the Resolutions of the hon. Member (Mr. Knight), he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire in thinking that they were conceived in a spirit of fairness, though he was not prepared to say that they should be carried out to the full extent. With respect to pauper lunatics, if a portion of the expense of their maintenance could be transferred to the Consolidated Fund, it would, in his opinion, meet all the requirements of the case. As long as the management of the county asylums was left in the hands of the county magistrates it was right that the counties should bear a por- tion of the expense. It was a larger question to go into whether the management of those excellent institutions should be transferred to other hands. The main charge was now borne by the several counties, it was under local control, and removed from the control of Parliament. They could hardly expect that local property should be relieved of the whole of the charge if local management were to be continued. With respect to the police and other matters, believing that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was in the right direction, though he might not agree to all its details, he should have much pleasure in supporting it.


said, that the President of the Poor Law Board, a few nights since, had referred to certain evidence given by a relative of his, formerly chairman of the Hartismere Union, and who was one of the chairmen of Quarter Sessions for the county of Suffolk. The evidence quoted by the right hon. Gentleman was to the effect that the cottages in the neighbourhood were very fast diminishing, and that he was informed the villages were supposed to look prettier with fewer cottages. Now, his relative had been dead sixteen years, and the evidence to which the right hon. Gentleman referred he thought was given before a Committee of the House of Lords nineteen years ago. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman wished the House to believe that this was an accurate description of the present state of things in that county, he could assure him that such is not the case, and that the amount of cottage accommodation is very different from what had been intimated by him. Dr. Hunter, in his Report, stated— In the south street of Needham Market are houses as bad as any that can be found grouped in such numbers in the county, but many Midland villages are much worse. Needham Market is one of the places where houses have been destroyed and population has advanced in the same decennium. He made it his business to write to the Chairman of the Bosmere and Claydon Board of Guardians, who is also rector of the parish of Barking, of which Needham Market forms a portion, to inquire into the accuracy of this statement. In reply he received the following letter:— I do not think there have been more cottages destroyed in Needham Market during the last twenty or thirty years than have been replaced by new and more commodious ones. Nor do I believe throughout the whole hundred, of some eight-and-thirty parishes, that, as a rule, there has been any decrease of cottages, but that they have been rather on the increase. I allude more to Bosmere and Claydon Hundreds than to Thredling, with which I am not so well acquainted. It is perfectly true that from Census 1851 to 1861 the population of Needham Market decreased, and so it did in many of the agricultural parishes; still there has been no demolition of residences for the poor. There never has been so many of these unoccupied in my own parish at any time for the last thirty years as at last Michaelmas. He likewise wrote to the Vice Chairman of the Hartismere Board of Guardians (that union having been particularly mentioned), who had occupied that post for eighteen or twenty years, and who replied— The number of cottages in various parishes has increased, and the population decreased. I think there are a few overcrowded, but it is where grown-up sons and daughters are at home. The average rents are between £3 and £4; the rates paid by the landlords, except in some parishes where the rents are very low. There are some cottages in Yaxley and Mellis in a dilapidated state unoccupied. He rose principally to correct an error in regard to the inference drawn by the right hon. Gentleman from the evidence he had quoted.


said, that those who were acquainted with the rural districts could not disguise from themselves the fact that there were many parishes in which there was a great want of cottages. He knew some in which there were only two, and one in which there was but a single labourer's cottage. It was a great mistake to say that cottage-building was not remunerative. Even in those parishes in which the greatest improvements had been made—such as the Duke of Bedford's or the Duke of Northumberland's—the property would fetch a much higher price, if it came to be sold, by reason of the improvement, than the cottages had cost. There were many points in regard to the Poor Law which had not been sufficiently considered, and nothing had given him greater pleasure than to hear that next Session a Committee was to be appointed to inquire into the subject. He should be glad to see some effort made to call out voluntary charity for the relief of the poor, for while compulsory charity was of no good except for the preservation of life voluntary charity did much moral good. He knew a district in which £800 spent out of the rates for the relief of the poor had not produced at the of the good feeling and gratitude which £80 or £90 spent out of voluntary contributions had produced. The system of voluntary charity was developed to great a extent in Paris, where it worked very well. He should like to see a plan adopted in this country somewhat analogous to that in operation at Paris, which was divided in thirteen arrondissements with a chef to each. We were so used to the Poor Law in this country that we never sufficiently considerered the positive sin of one man living on another's labour. By judicious management and by proper working of the Post Office savings hanks and the friendly institutions, the poor in many districts might be led to lay by sufficient to maintain them in sickness and old age, and the Poor Law to a great extent might be superseded. With regard to Poor Law chargeability the system of assessment had not been carried out satisfactorily. The basis of assessment was very dissimilar in different unions, and the completion of the cadastral survey would be very useful in bringing about a uniform system, He hardly thought that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Knight) could expect to carry his Resolution if he went to a division. There was certainly a feeling growing up in the country that all property should be rated to the poor, and he hoped this subject would form part of the inquiry next year.


said, though he believed there were many cases in which relief should be afforded he was not prepared to go the whole length of these Resolutions, in the case of lunatic asylums, for instance, he believed that at the time of the repeal of the corn laws it was proposed that some assistance should be given to the counties; and it was undeniable that the present constitution of the boards which regulated this expenditure was not satisfactory. He hoped these Resolutions would not be pressed, though in their discussion attention had been usefully directed to many specific grievances which called for alteration.


Sir, I hope the House will take notice of the extraordinary way in which hon. Members, who have spoken on this Resolution, have wandered from the subject to which it refers; for certainly everybody must feel that great inconvenience has been caused by the way in which the discussion has been conducted for the last two hours. This is an attempt, by moving an abstract Resolution, to arrest the progress of a Bill which there is no hope of finally defeating. We are about to consider the Bill as amended, when the hon. Member moves a Resolution having nothing whatever to do with the Bill. The Bill is one for the distribution of charges, but the hon. Gentleman's Resolution is an attempt to devise means of supporting the poor from new sources. I am informed that in point of order the only ground on which such a Resolution could be moved was the supposition that the hon. Member would follow it up by clauses in Committee to give effect to it. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who is an authority on the forms of the House, has stated confidently—his argument went to this extent—that every one knows it is impossible to give any practical effect to such a Resolution in this Bill. That, I say, is the inconvenience of the course which the hon. Gentleman has taken; and consequently I hope the course he has adopted will not be taken on any future occasion. The result of it is that we have been wandering away from the subject before us into every subject connected either directly or indirectly with the maintenance of the poor. The only satisfaction one can derive from the irregularity is, that in the course of this discussion a very different tone has been assumed by hon. Gentlemen on the other side with respect to the report of the Medical Officer who inquired into the state of the habitations of the poor in the rural districts, though indeed there was an exception in the hon. Member for Lancashire (Mr. Packe) who described that report as a scandalous one, and denounced the Bill in equally strong language. He was followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who is certainly in a much better mood to-night than he was on former occasions with reference to this Bill. He was ready to admit anything that fell from my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce) or myself was true; he said he had never denied that many of those things had occurred; he had never denied that there had been a diminution—I must not say a demolition—of houses in Oxfordshire, but that he meant they had not occurred in close parishes. My right hon. Friend the Vice-President of the Committee of Council completely vindicated the report; for while admitting there might he some faults of taste in the expression, or some inaccuracy in what did not signify, he satisfied the House that the report was substantially a correct one. I think the admissions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire most important, because he said he knew that the Return moved for by the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight), was one of the number of "inhabited houses," while Dr. Hunter's report referred to "houses." The right hon. Gentleman saw, therefore, that it was not fair to test the accuracy of that report by a return of "inhabited houses;" but I must remind the House that almost the whole of the criticizm on that report turned on its referring to "inhabited houses;" Again Dr. Hunter took the decennial period from 1851 to 1861; but hon. Gentlemen on the other side went back to 1841, and even to 1801, and took the period from that up to 1861. They did not, however, detect any errors in the period upon which Dr. Hunter reported, and to which I referred in my speech—namely, the decennial period from 1851 to 1861. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire says he did not deny that in former times those things did occur, but he did deny that they were going on now. [Mr. HENLEY: I never said that they occurred formerly.] I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. What I attributed to him was said by another hon. Gentleman (Mr. Floyer). I, therefore, take issue with the hon. Gentleman; hut in what I said I did not mean anything reproachful to landlords for what they have done. I only stated circumstances which do exist. I admitted that before 1851 there were not the strong motives which came into operation afterwards to clear out the poor, because before 1851, the parishes did not contribute to a common fund; but after 1851, when new charges were fixed on the common fund, a stronger motive existed for clearing the parishes of the poor by pulling down the cottages. There is a reason now why cottages should be levelled, and why there should be a clearing off of the poor, I must say I believe what Dr. Hunter has said. I believe his report is substantially true; I believe that no one has shaken it except in trifling particulars; and I further believe that he has not stated the worst of the case. From what I have heard since my conviction is that he understates the case. But it is a mistake to say that his report was the foundation of this Bill. I never did depend on it. I defy any hon. Member to point out a passage in my speech on the second reading which states that I did rely on it. I had no interest in proposing the Bill; I was obliged to propose it. It was no original measure of mine; it had been brought before the House, and, having been a Mem- ber of a Committee which passed a Resolution, I may say unanimously, in its favour, I felt bound to bring it forward. I am astonished, therefore, at the right hon. Gentleman repeating his statement that it was in consequence of Dr. Hunter's report I introduced the Bill. Authorities without number are in favour of such a measure, and I can refer to another report. ["Divide!"] If the House is anxious to come to a decision I will not go into that point at greater length, but come at once to the question raised by the abstract Resolution of the hon. Member for Worcestershire. This question is not an unimportant one, and it appears to me that, since we are to divide upon it, we should do well to consider what the proposition really is. It is to transfer not less than £1,800,000 from the local rates to the public Exchequer. It seems to me that the present moment is an extraordinary one for such a proposition, involving as it does such a transfer and such a change of policy. And what is the object? It is impossible to overlook the fact that, by the hon. Member for Worcestershire and those who support him, it is understood as a compensation to the owners of close parishes—those persons who will have to pay more rates than they have hitherto done. But this is a rather wild way of compensating those persons. We have been told that this is a measure for favouring the towns at the expense of the country districts. ["Hear, hear!"] But what is your proposition? To cast all those charges on the public revenue. So that if, as you allege, we are favouring the towns by this Bill, you are going to confer an additional advantage on them. I want to know whether that is not a wild proceeding! I suppose it will be admitted that the towns pay more rates than the country districts. By this Bill there is going to be a different distribution—not an increase of charge—not an additional burden cast on property generally or any class of property. Why, therefore, do you propose such a relief to the towns? The object of the Resolution, so far as I understand it, is to take £1,800,000 from the Consolidated Fund in order to indemnify those ratepayers who will be effected by the redistribution of the poor rates, and who, as some people say, ought to have borne their fair share of the burden before. There may be a policy in transferring local charges to the public, but that is a question which may be reserved to some future time. A time may come when property in this country will have decreased in value, when houses will have fallen into decay, and when pauperism will have vastly increased; and Parliament may then think fit to transfer the burdens of supporting the poor from the ratepayers to the general revenue of the State, surrounding such a change with such safeguards as the adoption of such a system would render necessary. But such a time has not yet arrived. I would ask has landed property deteriorated in value? Are houses falling into decay? Is pauperism increasing? Why, within the last twenty years land has risen 12 per cent in value, and its value is still increasing. There are scarcely any open spaces where houses are not being built. Pauperism is diminishing. And yet at this moment an hon. Gentleman who represents the country gentlemen is seeking to place nearly £2,000,000 on the Consolidated Fund for the purpose of assisting them in the payment of their rates. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite really intend to support such a proposition? Do they suppose that the public will ever allow the public taxes to be applied to local purposes, and to be administered by local authorities? It may be that, in the opinion of some people, the Government ought to interfere more than they do in local matters, and that the practice of allowing people to manage their own affairs is a bad one, and ought to be altered. Before that change can effected, however, Parliament must come to the conclusion that local affairs have been so badly managed as to necessitate a change. But is that the public opinion at the present moment? Is the public so attached to centralization that it is necessary to do away with all local government? On the contrary, the general complaint is that centralization has been carried too far already, and that the local authorities ought to have more freedom of action than they have at present. Besides, we must have either one system or the other. We cannot allow local authorities to administer the public revenue. If the public is compelled to contribute towards local expenditure, Government must exercise some amount of control over that expenditure. I am convinced the public would never rest satisfied with the proposition of the hon. Member to permit the local authorities to manage funds taken from the Consolidated Fund. I say there is no instance where the local authorities have power to administer funds provided out of the Imperial taxation. The hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Packe) points to the police as an instance where such is the case. Certainly the public do contribute to the support of the police, but that is on the condition that the police shall be inspected by a Government officer, and where there is no such inspection there is no assistance given.


instanced the case of the Poor Law Inspectors.


I do not see the application of that case. I believe there is no instance in which the Government give away money without interfering in its expenditure. The hon. Gentleman referred to the case of the schoolmasters. But though the State pays the salaries of the schoolmasters they are appointed by the Boards of Guardians, and after a contract has been entered into with the persons so appointed they are at liberty to earn a certificate by passing through an examination, and, in the case of their obtaining the certificate, they come within the general rules of the Privy Council and receive a salary. The payment of the salaries of Poor Law medical officers is another instance to which the hon. Gentleman referred. There Government only gives a portion of the salary, so that those who appoint the officers may be identified with the application of the money. Half the salary is paid by Government, and the other half is paid out of the rates. The consequence is that the salaries are, perhaps, too small, but the officers themselves are looked after closely by the guardians. Then there is the case of the auditors, to which the hon. Gentleman did not refer. Now, these officers are chosen by the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the various Boards of Guardians of the district, and after they have been appointed the Poor Law Board pays their salaries. There is no instance, however, where the State provides funds for purposes of this kind without, at the same time, providing for the control by Government of the application of the money. Now, the hon. Gentleman proposes to-night to bind Parliament to provide funds to be administered by the local authorities, but I warn him that if he gets the money he must expect that the State will exercise control over its application. By pressing this Resolution the hon. Gentleman is laying the foundation for Government interference in all local affairs. Looking at the present flourishing condition of the country, and at the general dislike to centralization, I really do not believe the hon. Gentleman has made out such a case as would warrant the Government in accepting his proposition.


said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just down (Mr. C. P. Villiers) complained that extraneous matter had been introduced into the debate by Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House; but he begged leave to point out that the extraneous matter had been, in a great measure, introduced by the Vice President of the Educational Department referring to the report which had been so often quoted. As a Member representing one of the midland counties, as well as a landed proprietor in two of those counties, he felt it to be his duty to protest against the whole tone and animus of that report. All hon. Gentlemen, no matter on which side of the House they sat, who read that report calmly and dispassionately must come to the conclusion that in no instance did it give one word of praise to any landowner, but poured upon them all indiscrimately a full sea of what approached abuse. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had made a great mistake in calling to his aid such an energetic auxiliary as Dr. Simon, by whose means a very unfortunate tone had been introduced into the debate. The whole tone of the debate on both sides of the House was most objectionable. The great measure which this Bill proposed to introduce, and which he was not prepared to say might not ultimately be of great advantage to the poor, might have been discussed without any of that unpleasant spirit which had been exhibited. There was no organized opposition to the Bill. The landlords of the country, though groans might be heard from some of them, were accepting the burden which was about to be placed upon their backs; therefore, what was the use of vituperating the poor animal upon which they were about to place this additional load? Landlords had been perfectly honest and straightforward; they did not oppose the Bill, but they wished that in introducing a measure involving such important changes opportunity should be given for fair discussion of its merits. He (Mr. Bromley) confessed that he voted with the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Rainald Knightley) in favour of his Motion for the postponement of this measure until they had had time to peruse the interesting documents referred to; without reading which the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) had himself stated that no Member ought to vote. Now as the report was not then issued, and the right hon. Gentleman was the only one who had seen it, this was curious advice, which, if implicitly followed, would have resulted in the right hon. Gentleman being left alone with the Speaker, when the division bell rang, to patronize which lobby he pleased; and he also voted in favour of the just and sensible proposal of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) for the re-distribution of unions, because he was firmly convinced that it must come to that eventually; that it was impossible that this Bill could be carried out without there being a redistribution of unions. This was not obstructing the Bill, But he voted with the right hon. Gentleman himself against the proposition to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, because he knew that such a course would practically amount to shelving a measure which was of great importance to a large portion of the poorer classes, whom some hon. Gentlemen contended had no representation in that House. But he could not understand why so much had been done to irritate and create bad feeling. Allusions had been made to the failure of the water supply during the past summer, which had, no doubt, been felt by the squire as well as the poor. Even the drought of last summer had been called in aid of this indictment against landlords, and from the tone of the report one would suppose this visitation of Providence was the fault of the squire. In the report of Dr. Simon, few exceptions were recognized to the general bad treatment of the poor by the landlords. Three Dukes and one Marquess had been omitted from condemnation, but in these cases there was a qualification— But by instances like those, judgment must not be blinded to the fact that they, in proportion to the mass of observed cases, are altogether exceptional and rare. Was that fair dealing? Did not the experience of Members on both sides furnish them with many instances of landlords who were tolerably kind and considerate to their poorer neighbours in respect of cottage accommodation? However, not to do injustice to Dr. Simon, it was right to state that that gentleman did specify one case in which the cottages were in capital order—on the estates of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He could not understand why the right hon. Gentle- man had taken so sudden an interest in the welfare of the poor of the country, while so little had been done in London. Bad as the statements were in Dr. Hunter's report, there was no mention of any death from starvation upon the estates of any of the country landlords, which, unhappily, was not a rare case in London. Then, as to removals, surely there was enough suffering among the poor in London to require consideration. In London, whenever a railway or a philanthropist had a new scheme to carry out they swept away whole districts. The railways empty houses by saying, "You must go because we want your room;" while the philanthropist said he desired to make improvements—but the result was the same—the poor were evicted from their dwellings, and disappeared from that part of the earth. He regretted that attention had been paid only to the districts commented upon in the reports, and he also regretted that the tone of debate had been such as to inflame and create animosity between classes and between Members on either side of the House.


said, no one could dispute the importance of the question that had been raised—the liability of other than real property to contribute to the support of the poor. It was a subject which must sooner or later come under the consideration of the Legislature. There was not a single item in the Amendment which one or other of the objectors had not admitted to be a proper subject for consideration. If they would refer back to the Act of Elizabeth they would find that it included every description of property then known. Now, consider the change that had taken place since that time in the nature of property. In the time of Elizabeth there existed nothing but land and houses that could come under the description of real property. But what was the property now existing which came properly under the incidence of taxation? Taking the Return for 1861–2, he found that income tax was levied upon the following values:—Lands, £55,000,000; houses, £57,000,000; mines and quarries; £6,000,000; gas, railways, and other works, £20,000,000; public dividends and others, £30,000,000; trades and professions, £93,000,000; offices, £20,000,000. In this list lands and houses represented only £112,000,000; and whether other property should be continuously exempt was a question that must come under the notice of the House at no distant period. It must not be supposed that personal property which by the reduction of the income tax was year by year being emancipated from Imperial taxation, was to escape from the general burden of contributing to the support of the poor.


I am anxious to say a few words upon the subject of a Motion of this importance, which I do not think has been considered from the point of view in which I purpose to regard it. It is quite true—without blaming any one—that in consequence of the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Packe), a large portion of the debate has run completely out of the topics to which it at first related, and has turned on the merits of certain reports which have nothing to do with the merits of the Motion. What are the propositions involved in the Motion? In the first place, there is a declaration in the Motion of a private Member applying in the first instance for £1,850,000 of annual charge, and that applying to England only; but the hon. Member, with great ingenuousness and. obvious equity, admitted that if the principle applied to England it applied also to Ireland and Scotland, and that those countries also must have a similar benefit. That would raise the charge to something like two-and-a-half millions a year. It is a Rule of the House that no private Member can move to fix a charge upon the Consolidated Fund. But the hon. Gentleman circumvents this Rule by saying that this should be done by repayments out of moneys provided by Parliament.


Those are the words which provide for the contingent to the Metropolitan Police Rate.


That was proposed by the Gentleman to whom the House commits the discretion and responsibility of proposing a charge upon the Consolidated Fund, and on the responsibility of Government. But if there be any method by which a private Member can escape the operation of the rule of restraint which the House has wisely imposed upon itself, all I ask in the name of justice and public policy is that some corresponding method should be devised to evade the Rule that a private Member may not propose taxation to be levied upon the people, and that the hon. Member himself, who proposes to add £2,500,000 to the public expenditure shall rise in his place and propose the taxes by which that sum shall be met annually. Far be it from me to deny that it is within the power of this House to alter the system under which provision is made for the public expenditure. The House is, no doubt, entitled to take into its own hands the preparation of the Estimates, and to commit to Members of its own choice the proposal of the public charges and taxes. But what I contend is that these two things ought to go together, and that nothing can be more preposterous than that individual Members should come to this House and propose to scatter right and left boons and bonuses to particular classes and parts of the community, leaving to the Crown and the executive Government the odious task of proposing the resulting taxation. If the hon. Member had—as he must have had—it in his mind to make this proposal a fortnight ago, why did he allow me to introduce a Bill for taking 2d. off the income tax? Why did not be resist that? Here is £2,500,000 to be provided for. Within a week after the House has passed a Bill for destroying £2,500,000 of the public revenue in the shape of income tax down comes the hon. Gentleman with a Motion which means that that tax ought to be re-imposed. But perhaps he will say that it ought not. [Mr. KNIGHT was understood to assent.] Is the hon. Member aware what serious considerations he is raising? This is virtually a Motion for largely diminishing the direct and adding to the indirect taxation of the country; because he would not retain the income tax at its old amount, and he has not in the slightest degree indicated his view as to the manner in which this heavy charge should be met. The balance between direct and indirect taxation is one of the nicest matters with which Parliament can deal. Wholesale attempts to relieve—not merely one kind of property at the expense of another, which would be a small matter—but to relieve the property of the country at the expense of the labourer, are very tender matters for the hon. Gentleman and some of those who have supported him to touch. But that is the practical effect of these transfers. I am astounded at the way in which all the opponents of centralization come forward to centralize when the object is to obtain relief from a pecuniary charge. All the sacredness of self-government, and the necessity for repelling the obtrusive action of the central principle, and maintaining the self-acting force and habits of Englishmen, inherited from their ancestors, appear to be completely forgotten upon an occasion of this kind, when marshalled by the hon. Member they come forward for the purpose of effecting this change. And what is the meaning of a transfer from local to public expenditure? It is a transfer from a fund which is supplied exclusively by a tax upon property to a fund five-sevenths of which are supplied by taxation not upon property but upon consumption. And who is it that provides the taxes upon consumption? Why, the greater part of them are paid by the labour of the country. And therefore, because my right hon. Friend (Mr. C. P. Villiers) has proposed a measure which, although sustained by the highest authorities, must incidentally modify the charge upon real property in particular parishes, the hon. Gentleman proposes | to revenge himself by not merely altering taxation in its incidence on property, but by relieving the whole property of the country—not real property only, but propertygenerally—from a local charge, and placing it upon a fund a great portion of which is supplied by taxes levied upon consumption. Can the hon. Member think that that is a course which it is desirable to pursue? Why because of this Bill of my right hon. Friend's are additional burdens to be laid upon the labourers of this country? Why is an additional drain to be made upon that fund which is sustained by such duties as the tobacco duty, the malt duty, and others which are paid in the main by the labouring classes of the community? I am persuaded that the House will not adopt this Resolution. It is another of that, I must say, ill-favoured family of abstract Resolutions whereby the House is continually tempted and incited by magicians who come forward to charm us for the moment into forgetful-ness of our obligations. It is a Resolution which invites the House to assert something that sounds exceedingly agreeable, without, at the same time, doing the thing which is excessively disagreeable, but which is necessary to give it practical effect. I should like to know the views of the hon. Gentleman as to the mode of meeting the charge he proposes to create. Will he double the Succession Duty? The Succession Duty is levied partly upon personal and partly upon real property. Will he double the Succession Duty? That will supply part of the money. I will not treat this as an abstract Resolu- tion, but as a practical proposition—as a Vote in Supply that must be followed by a provision in Ways and Means—and if the hon. Gentleman succeeds in inducing the House to impose this change, they ought not to impose it without having in view the means by which it is to be met. I do not think that the hon. Member would double the Succession Duty. I confess I should be very sorry to see it doubled. I have no wish to see this extensive tampering with the taxation of the country for purposes which appear to me to be so critical as regards the risks they involve, and so slight and trivial as regards any benefits that will follow them. But if that is not to be so, I hope that the House will have little difficulty in declining to deal with this question in the shape of a merely general and abstract declaration, and will therefore refuse to assent to the Motion of the hon. Member. The opportunity I have had of observing the working of our system of taxation has convinced me that whatever fault may, in the abstract, be found with our system of local taxation, that system is thoroughly wedded to the habits and usages of the country, and that taxes which are readily paid for local purposes cannot possibly be levied for Imperial purposes. When you remove a charge from local taxation, and place it upon the central Exchequer, you are taking it from a taxation which is easily levied, and placing it upon a fund which it is far more difficult to feed. I do not mean to deny that indirect taxation is levied with great facility, but direct taxation, which is levied for the purposes of the Imperial Exchequer, is raised with very great difficulty, and with a difficulty which stands in remarkable contrast with the facility with which it is levied for local purposes. Why is it levied with such facility for local purposes? It is because, being levied in comparatively narrow districts for purposes with which the taxpayers are themselves familiar, as they are also familiar with the machinery through which it is expended and the benefits which it produces, the matter is brought nearer to their views and convictions; and the unwillingness which they would feel to pay taxes which are required for expenditure at a distance is very much less felt when they are called upon to pay taxes which are raised, managed, and expended in their own neighbourhood. After all that has been said by my right hon. Friend upon the bearings of this measure I need not go further into the subject; and I will therefore only add that the House will do well to pause before it accedes to a Motion involving principles and consequences which it appears to me that the Mover himself has very inadequately recognized.


opposed the Motion on different grounds. The question of dealing with the Poor Laws, as opened up by the President of the Poor Law Board, was sufficiently difficult in itself without adding difficulties which the Motion of his hon. Friend would involve. He had opposed the Bill on the ground of its centralizing tendency. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that municipal and local self-government was one of the most valuable and cherished institutions of the country; and he deprecated the Motion of his hon. Friend, because that Motion would diminish the effect of those institutions and would throw the administration of the poor rates on aggregate masses, at the same time that it destroyed or diminished local responsibility. He trusted that his hon. Friend would not press his Motion to a division.

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

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered.

MR. KNIGHT moved to insert the following clause:—

(Rating of small tenements.) In unions where any local Act or Acts are in force which enact that small tenements of a similar rateable value may be compounded for on different rates in different parishes in the same union, so much of such local Acts as renders it impossible for an equal rate to be made on all the small tenements throughout any union shall be and are hereby repealed; and the general provisions for rating small tenements contained in the Act 13th and 14th of Victoria, cap. 99, shall be in force in all parishes alike in such unions.

Clause (Rating of small tenements,)—(Mr. Knight,)—brought up, and read 1°.

Motion made, and Question proposed "That the Clause be read a second time."


said, that the clause was rendered unnecessary by a decision which had been arrived at by the Court of Common Pleas on the point to which it related. What was proposed to be enacted by the clause had been thereby decided to be now the law.


asked whether the decision in the Common Pleas did not alter the status of the tenements which had been compounded for under Mr. Halsey's Act.


replied that the Assessment Act made it necessary to state the full value of all tenements, but this did not affect the arrangements between landlords and tenants.


The compositions are between landlords and parishes.


said, the decision did not affect these compositions.


said, he considered it necessary to press his question. The decision of the Court of Common Pleas, as he understood it, completely upset all the arrangements which were made under what was known as Mr. Halsey's Act, which operated to the advantage of a parish, not only by procuring the payment of the rates, whether a tenement happened to be occupied or unoccupied, but also by securing the receipt of the money without the cost of collecting it from some fifty or sixty tenants. That being so it would he well, he thought, that the right hon. Gentleman should consider whether it was not expedient that he should introduce a measure to remedy the inconvenience which in consequence must arise. That and some other matters in connection with the Assessment Act might very well be remedied in one measure.

Question, "That the Clause be read a second time," put, and negatived.


then moved in the clause providing for deaths in the workhouse, to leave out And all foes for registering births and deaths in the same, shall be charged by the guardians to the common fund. And in the clause relating to unions, under local acts, after common fund, to insert Or where the common fund is not calculated upon an equal basis throughout the union or incorporation.

Motion agreed to.


asked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board whether the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Devon, with regard to a one year settlement, was wide enough to embrace the Gilbert unions and other unions under local acts. If not, there would be a different state of things in them and in the ordinary unions which might he productive of mischief.


said, it would, but it was his intention to bring in a Bill to break up the Gilbert unions and attach those parishes to other unions.


asked if it would apply to all the parishes under the Act of Elizabeth, as well as the Gilbert unions.


said, it would.

Amendments made; Bill to be read 3° on Thursday.