§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [28th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. W. M. TORRENS
said, before the House consented to read this Bill a second time, he hoped they would consider whether it was just to lay upon the rate-paying community inhabiting the metropolis the peculiar burdens it would impose; and whether it was really for the benefit of the poor to adopt the novel and experimental mode of treatment which they were thus called upon to sanction. The two considerations were distinct, and he should deal with them separately and specifically. They were happily not antagonistic, and he trusted they would not be antithetically set against each other. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford, when introducing the measure of 1867, which bore his name, had defined the duty of Parliament to be the taking care that the administration of the Poor Law was "in a manner just to those who find the funds, and merciful to those who receive relief." He accepted that definition cheerfully not as implying a balance of obligations, but as correctly stating that, which it was their single duty to do. For he had no more deep and settled conviction than that the true interest of an industrious community like that in the midst of which they 1341 dwelt consisted in the preservation, as far as possible, of the physical health and strength of those who lived by labour; and that the best means of preserving the health of the poor, of lessening preventable disease, and of alleviating acute suffering, did not require a wasteful or excessive expenditure supplied by taxation. He was conscious, however, that in this two-fold aspect of what he felt to be a fundamental truth, many persons might not be altogether prepared to follow him; he would therefore deal with the two questions apart—the fairness of laying burthens absolutely unprecedented on a particular section of the community, wherewith to try experiments in relief equally unprecedented, and then the humanity of treating the sick and infirm poor in a way in which they never had been treated before. He was persuaded that on neither ground ought the present Bill to meet; with the approval of the House. The House was asked by this measure to take a further important step in the same direction, in which, with considerable hesitation, they had advanced two years ago. Nothing could be more definite, precise, or clear than the estimate of cost which the right hon. Gentleman opposite laid before the House in 1867. Nothing could be more lucid than the statement of his intentions, or as to the figures which he then laid before the House. The right hon. Gentleman, yielding, as he said, to the pressure of the strong feeling of regret and anger excited by the neglect of duty by particular guardians in the metropolis, asked the House to put London aside from the rest of the parishes in England, and to apply to it a separate system. That was a strong measure, for they were asked to agree to a partial law; but he made the request on behalf of those who had no voice in the general representation, and the whole of the metropolitan Members, with the exception of the Members for Marylebone, accordingly voted for the Bill. But upon what conditions?—Tho right hon. Gentleman, by that measure, asked the House to allow him to spend, in case of exigency, £100,000 upon asylums for the imbecile and insane, £70,000 for those suffering from fever or small-pox, and £120,000 for what he termed district asylums—that was to say, hospitals for groups of parishes whore the guar- 1342 dians should neglect to make proper provision. The extreme limit of what would be required was said to be £360,000, or at the most £400,000; but now the estimate reached what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) designated as the "frightful sum" of £1,400,000, and the difference in figures was equal to the difference in tone between 1867 and 1869. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. Hardy) exonerated thirty-five out. of thirty-nine Boards of Guardians in the metropolis from blame, and frankly owned that they had done all that he had called upon them to do, while there had been but three or four exceptions, which a sensational Press had made the most of by turning as in a kaleidoscope to make a great show, highly coloured bits of abuse and rare samples of neglect. But now the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Goschen) laid a sweeping indictment against the whole body of London guardians, and summed up the catalogue of their misdeeds by alleging that the law to provide dispensaries had been deliberately and systematically thwarted and baffled by the wrong headedness and selfishness of the guardians generally; and he was seeking to apply the exceptional expedients asked by his predecessor for exceptional use, as the rule of ordinary administration in all cases. This was in fact the principal plea on which they were now called on to substitute a ruinously expensive scheme of in-door relief for the sick and infirm, for the cheaper and better method of relieving these classes of the poor in their own homes. He (Mr. Torrens) had sought opportunities of asking the guardians to put their own interpretation on their own conduct, and they repudiated the impression the President of the Poor Law Board seemed to entertain, and which he had conveyed to the House; and in one instance they had adopted a strong Resolution, which had been embodied in a Petition to the House, contradicting emphatically the assertion that they had neglected their duty. In the Act of 1867 there was a series of clauses specially intended to provide for an improved system of dispensary relief throughout the metropolis, and it was only in case it was not provided and workhouses were not improved, that it was ever intended by the Government or the House to give the exceptional powers which were now indiscriminately claimed. A good example 1343 to be followed was furnished by the Irish Act of 1852. He had heard with astonishment the statement the other night of the President of the Poor Law Commission as to the paucity of the numbers relieved in Ireland under the domiciliary system. The right hon. Gentleman had sarcastically observed that however good in theory it might appear to him (Mr. Torrens), it would practically go but a very short way, for that the total number relieved out of 6,000,000 in Ireland by this means did not exceed 18,000. He turned to the Report of the Commission for 1868, which the right hon. Gentleman must have had upon his official table, and what did he find? not the sum stated by the right hon. Gentleman or twice that sum, or ten times that sum, or twenty times that sum, but as the House would hear with amazement a sum still greater by far. Instead of the number relieved under it being about 18,000, it appeared from a Return that in 1868 there were 572,000 cases, exclusive of 191,000 relieved by means of visiting tickets, making a total of 750,000, relieved at a total cost of £l 18,000. The efficiency of the system was proved by the fact that diseases, including fever and small-pox, which we found it difficult to cope with in England, had been almost stamped out in Ireland. If there was any Department of the State well served by its subordinates, it was the Poor Law Board; and, of its many efficient officers, none was more worthy of commendation than Mr. Lambert. In 1866 he was sent to Ireland specially to inquire whether the dispensary system established there would be applicable here. He reported that, having examined carefully the facts of the case, and the operation of the dispensary system m Ireland—He considered it admirably adapted to the exigencies of large and densely populated communities, and did not hesitate to recommend that it should form an element in any scheme for the improvement of Poor Law administration in the metropolis.Our position, then, was this—the Department having sent its most capable man to inquire into the operation of the system, he made a favourable Report, it was acted upon, and clauses to introduce the Irish system here were put into the Bill, which so far remained almost a dead letter. But he denied that the guardians had set themselves against 1344 the Act. He deprecated a further stride in the direction of providing for in-door relief until a Royal Commission or a Select Committee had inquired into the adequacy of the existing means. If £118,000 had been found sufficient for the treatment of preventable and curable disease in an impoverished population of 6,000,000, was it not reasonable to infer that half that sum might be made to go a great way in securing the same object in the richest and densest community of 3,000,000 in the world? Had not the rate-payers of the metropolis a fair right at least to demand that the experiment should be tried of improving and expanding the dispensary system before their property and income were irredeemably mortgaged for the erection of enormous buildings which, as he should presently show, were by no means certain to answer their proposed purpose. When the right hon. Gentleman came into Office in December last, he found anxiety and alarm everywhere throughout the town at the prospect of enormous outlay on brick and mortar with which they were threatened. He (Mr. Torrens) had given early notice that he would ask the opinion of the House, whether in the present depressed condition of trade and industry of all kinds, it was not the duty of Government to suspend further outlay on great asylums and hospitals until full and impartial inquiry should have been made into the existing accommodation which might be made available in the voluntary institutions for the reception of the sick which already existed in every part of the metropolis. That measure of precaution seemed to many so reasonable that for a time he cherished a hope that it would be adopted. But when instead of inquiry the right hon. Gentleman resolved to precipitate matters and to make another plunge blindfold into reckless and ruinous outlay he felt it to be his duty to de- vote what leisure he had, to apply such ability as he possessed, to search out the truth in this matter and to make himself acquainted as far as he could with the actual circumstances of the case. Speaking generally the result of his investigations was this—that though many individuals who were in need failed to obtain the medical or surgical relief they required, it was nevertheless true that ample accommodation existed for all acute cases of disease and accidents, and 1345 that it was not for want of skill or for want of suitable buildings that the suffer-in g poor wore not now adequately relieved. He cheerfully admitted the admirable character of the metropolitan hospitals, and he was far, indeed, from charging them with any dereliction of duty. He charged the Poor Law Department, irrespective of party, with not making available these magnificent institutions, which were sufficient to do all that was required, without our building palaces for idiots, or sick prisons at an enormous cost. He had personally inquired into the state of the hospitals in London, and he had found their wards and offices open to all who were prosecuting inquiry with a good purpose. He found from his inquiries that the eleven great or general hospitals contained 4,354 beds, the sixty-four special and smaller ones could furnish accommodation for 4,840; in all, 9,194 beds, and, taking the low average of ten patients for each bed during the year, it appeared that the hospitals could easily relieve 92.000 in-patients per annum. As a matter of fact, they relieved only 78,000, so that it was evident they had plenty of room in their wards to spare; and the managers of the various hospitals assured him they would be only too glad to receive pauper cases and charge the parish so much per bed for them. He asked for a permissive Bill, under the provisions of which this could be done. One-fifth of Charing Cross Hospital was empty; of Middlesex, one-fourth; King's College the same; Westminster, one-third; and St. George's, of which they had heard so much during the last forty-eight hours, had an entire wing, the site of which had been given by the Marquess of Westminster, which would soon be ready for patients. For the means to furnish and maintain this new wing urgent appeals had recently been made by a Royal Duke, an Archbishop, and other distinguished personages, yet the right hon. Gentleman desired to tax the people for another new asylum within rifle-shot of all those empty beds. If the House had no other fact before it, this alone should induce it to pause and direct inquiry to be made before proceeding to legislate further. He did not ask that his word should be taken; let the House appoint its own Committee and be guided by the facts and recommendations it presented. But, putting aside the rate-payer, and 1346 dealing only with moral and medical considerations, how did the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman bear the test of experience or forethought? Did the results of scientific inquiry, or of practical observation tend to encourage perseverance in the old way of aggregation? Was it true or was it the reverse of truth that the accumulation of large numbers, under the same roof, who were suffering from accident or disease was the best method of promoting their recovery? This was a very serious question; and it was one which he would not have felt himself justified even in raising had not the voice of warning reached him from all sides, and had he not been satisfied by comparing the testimony of the ablest and the best of men that a more excellent way of relief for the sick and suffering lay in their dispersion, and as far as it was possible in their separate treatment in their own homes. Dr. Sutherland, the valued physician connected with the War Office, had assured him in a letter that hospital treatment was not so beneficial as was generally supposed. He wrote—I have no doubt myself that moral reasons are all in favour of home treatment, and I believe that, with the exception of special cases, there is a larger percentage of recoveries where sick are subdivided among separate dwellings than where they are removed in all stages of illness to a distant hospital, even although the surroundings and means of treatment may be greatly superior to those available in their own poor homes. The simple fact of bringing together a number of sick out of a number of separate rooms involves a new class of risks to all of them.That, however, was a general statement, and he would now come to particulars. Not very long ago he spent a long and instructive day in Guy's Hospital. There was scarcely any form of human misery that he did not see in its wards, which he was bound to say appeared to him to be almost perfect in point of size, light, and ventilation. Nevertheless, what did he find? He conversed with Dr. Steele, the reporter of the establishment, and he asked that gentleman how mutual contagion was obviated. Dr. Steele told him that nothing short of individual isolation would obviate it. In his statistical tables Dr. Steele made this statement—Notwithstanding all that has been done it is to be feared that morbific influences still remain to interfere and thwart to a greater or less extent the efforts of the medical officer. To allow patients suffering from the same or from adverse 1347 diseases to occupy adjacent beds in the same apartment, and to respire the same atmosphere in common, is an evil necessarily associated with every establishment for the maintenance of the sick, which can only be grappled with successfully by means, which on a largo scale it would be practically impossible to carry out. These would naturally consist of a process of individual isolation, and the stamping out, so to speak, of every disease which showed the slightest tendency to traumatic or spontaneous infection, by providing a separate apartment, with separate attendants, utensils, and furniture for each person.He found that fever patients were placed here and there among patients suffering from other diseases. The doctors did not dare to put all the fever patients in one building. They thought there was less danger from scattering them through various wards. In the face of that state of facts the Government proposed to spend a vast sum of money with the object of bringing a large number of fever patients together in one great hospital. He had visited King's College Hospital also. It was one of the newest and finest institutions in the metropolis. Formerly a large portion of the building was used as a lying-in hospital; but the best authorities were now against the system of having a number of midwifery cases in the same building. Dr. Priestly, of King's College Hospital, told him that if he had funds for the relief of such cases he would take the two-pair floors of about ten houses in one of the humble streets in the neighbourhood of the hospital, and fit up beds in them. He had been assured that in hospitals persons died of sheer despair, arising from seeing the dying and the dead in close proximity to them. But was this all? Sir James Simpson, of Edinburgh, had published some startling statistics in reference to the system of treating a large number of accidents in the same ward. He stated that of 2,098 cases of amputations of limbs treated in the homes of persons in Scotland and the North of England only one in nine had ended fatally, while of 4,937 treated in great hospitals in England and (Scotland one in three had ended fatally. Dr. Holme-Coote, replying to Sir James, stated that out of 2,131 operations in St. Bartholomew's only one ease in seven and a-half had ended fatally. Sir James Simpson answered this by saying that in the cases referred to by Dr. Holme-Coote there were many of amputations of fingers and of operations on the eye and the like, which rarely or never were 1348 attended with fatal results; but, that if only amputation of limbs were taken into the calculation, the facts against the hospital wore still stronger than he had supposed, because, instead of one in throe, one in two and six-tenths of the cases had been fatal. For the sake of the sick poor—discarding altogether the waste of the rate-payers' substance—he said, then, let the House hold its hand until they had mastered these facts, and they had been sifted and reported upon by a Royal Commission. He would refer to one more witness, whose testimony would be received with the respect which her name inspired—one who had devoted her life to hospital work—that person was Florence Nightingale—and let them hear her words—the words of truth and wisdom. She said—I have come to believe that the hospital system is an intermediary stage of civilization—at the end of a life spent in hospital work to this conclusion I Have always come—that the poor are better relieved in their own homes.He could not go further than that to show the necessity for an inquiry by such men as the Government should choose to appoint. He now came to the question of district schools for children. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. G. Hardy) had proposed to take £ 40,000 for district schools, and now the contemplated amount had grown to £ 120,000. Now, he objected to the spending of a single farthing of that money. He said that these district schools were not what they wanted. It was not their duty to exonerate the separate localities from the charge of their own afflicted and their own youth; it was the duty of those localities to keep an eye over them, and it was not the business of the State to assist in huddling their children away in mobs to a great distance, where they would be out of sight. The right Turn. Gentleman said that in the case of foundlings and orphans he would like to put them in separate schools. Even if they could be educated free from disease and from moral deterioration in that way, which they could not be, it would still be a misuse of power to attempt anything of that kind. The Poor Law authorities of Scotland had appointed assistant Commissioners to supervise and inquire during the last two years into the working of the opposite system in that country—the system, that was, of taking the poor children 1349 who were neglected through crime or misfortune, and placing them in farm-houses and other situations where they might form new ties and connections. Sir John M'Neil, the tried and trusted administrator of the Scotch Poor Law for many years, had given his imprimatur to the system of boarding out these children in farm-houses and else-where in Scotland, which worked well; and he summed up his testimony in favour of that humane and economical system by saying that these poor creatures seemed again to melt into society, and could not be distinguished from the children whose parents were living in the same localities. The children educated in workhouse schools, on the other hand, turned out badly as often as they did well. After appealing to the House not to take advantage of the fact that thy 3,000.000 of people who inhabited London were represented by only twenty-two Members; to place the metropolis under a separate and exceptional law on these matters, the hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. W. M. Torrens) had treated the subject on what he might call the theoretical side. He wished to treat it from a practical point of' view as a means of saving the pockets of the rate-payers, and he would show that on this side of the question also a change was most desirable. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Poor Law Board had spoken of the necessity of building Poor Law asylums, because the existing workhouse infirmaries were so small that the sick were lying in the corridors and on the floor. But for much of that the Poor Law Board were themselves responsible. He would illustrate this by a statement of the case to which his hon. Friend had already referred—the case of St. John's and St. Margaret's, Westminster, and St. Mary Abbot's, Kensington. So long ago as January, 1867, the surgeon reported that the sick wards at Kensington were overcrowded. The guardians admitted the crowded state of the workhouse, and prepared a plan for increasing their accommodation by 500 beds, but the Poor Law Board ordered the works to be stopped, inasmuch as legislation on the whole subject was contemplated. Nothing was done till January, 1868, and then by the guardians themselves, who, 1350 from the overcrowded state of the workhouse, were forced to erect some iron buildings. At the commencement of last year the amalgamation of St. Margaret's and St. John's, Westminster, took place, and land was purchased at great cost for a sick-house at the extreme end of Kensington. Plans and estimates were prepared for giving accommodation for 600 beds for the three parishes, at the cost of £100 to £130, instead of £40 a bed as formerly estimated. The Board, however, at present had not done what it had undertaken to do; the sick asylum had been stopped, and it was even doubtful whether the site was not to be re-sold. Probably the Poor Law Board would say they were thwarted in their wish to build a sick asylum, but he would ask whether they had not brought about the state of things of which they now complained. In a few months hence it might be found that the land at Kensington was not sufficiently large for the building of a sick asylum, so that next year they might find themselves in no better a position than they were in at present. No doubt the Poor Law Board thought their duty to be to look after the poor, and that the interests of the rate-payers ought not to be regarded as all in all. he ventured to suggest, however, that if the matter were inquired into by a Select Committee or by a Royal Commission there need be no fear either that undue regard would be paid to the interests of the rate-payers or that those of the poor would be neglected. On these grounds he seconded the Motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) for a careful inquiry into the system before the present Bill was passed.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the present condition of the Ratepayers of the Metropolis, and of the burthens laid upon them for the relief of the sick and infirm, it is not expedient to adopt any further measures of legislation until full inquiry shall have been made into the existing extent of hospital accommodation, and how far the same may be made adequate to meet the want of the sick poor not relieved in their own dwellings,"—(Mr. W. M. Torrens,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."1351
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that in 1867 he always felt that when the time arrived for carrying into effect the schemes then set on foot, there would be a considerable outery in the metropolis on account of the expenditure which would have to be incurred. It was indeed, but natural that this should be the case. The crying evils which were then brought before the House, and which invited and secured an almost unanimous assent to the passing of the Bill of 1867, had now to a certain extent passed out of sight, and those who at that time were greatly shocked and excited by what had occurred in different workhouses, were now thinking rather of the expense than of the evils proposed to be remedied. For his own part, he should always look back on the part he then took, and which the House was good enough to sanction, as one of the happiest incidents in his political career, inasmuch as he had been able to forward a scheme which, he believed, might serve as the foundation of something that was calculated to do good at once to the ratepayers and to the poor of this metropolis. It was quite true that the expenditure might have gone beyond what he had estimated, and, indeed, it might even have been more than was necessary. If such were the case the expenditure ought to be at once checked, though he trusted no expenditure would be checked which might be really required, as he felt convinced it would, in the long run, be as much for the interest of those who paid it as of the recipients. In estimating the expense that: would have to be incurred under the Metropolitan Poor Bill of 1867 he calculated that it would be necessary to provide accommodation for 2,000 imbecile poor, who he might remark in passing did not come in the same category as the lunatics confined in asylums. No one doubted that the imbecile poor ought to be separated from the other paupers and placed on a different footing altogether. Well, he had estimated that the cost would be £ 50 for each imbecile, making a total of £ 100,000. This estimate was for the buildings alone, exclusive of sites, furniture, and fittings. He thought it would be a sufficient sum for the purpose, because he found that in twelve workhouses built in late years the cost had been only £30 per head; but it appeared he was mistaken, and his successors in 1352 Office had come to the conclusion that it would be necessary to erect buildings of a much more expensive kind than those he had contemplated. The buildings were to be in blocks, and instead of there being only two large buildings, as he had intended, there would be in reality no fewer than twenty. The estimate was now for 3,000 imbeciles instead of 2,000, which, of course, greatly increased the charge. With respect to district schools, the estimate made for additional schools was £ 40 per head for 1,000 children. This was for buildings alone, and there was also £ 30,000 for enlarging existing schools. It was now proposed to provide for 3,000 children. As to fever and small-pox hospitals, he stated his opinion that it was desirable to have inexpensive buildings, and that wooden or iron structures would answer the purpose. The cost of these he estimated at £ 70,000–1,000 patients at £ 70 a head. Then there was a sum which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. W. M. Torrens) had said was £ 120,000, but which was, in fact, £ 160,000, making altogether for these buildings £ 400,000. This was exclusive of sites, furniture, and fittings, and also, of course, estimated without reference to the increase in the rates of building which had taken place. With respect to the other items which the right hon. Gentleman had spoken of as making £ 1,400,000, it was not in his power to speak on points of detail. But whether or not a Metropolitan Poor Act had been passed in 1867 there would have been an absolute necessity for new or enlarged workhouses. In round numbers the number of paupers in metropolitan workhouses, in 1867, was 25,000, and the workhouses were even then excessively crowded; but now there were nearly 30,000 in the same workhouses, to which very slight additions had been made. Therefore we must look upon this not merely as a question of the sick and imbecile poor, but as a question of the poor altogether. Probably one of the chief causes of the great amount of metropolitan pauperism was that it was not possible to apply the workhouse test in the case of the able-bodied seeking relief. Owing to the numbers inside the guardians were compelled to provide out-door relief, and doubtless many of the recipients were able-bodied. He agreed with the hon. Member for Fins- 1353 bury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), whose exertions to ascertain the facts entitled him to great credit, that it might be desirable, if it were possible, to separate the children and put some out in farmhouses; but in dealing with the masses of the metropolis it was idle to talk of this. On the other hand, was it justifiable to keep these wretched children mixed up with the inmates of workhouses? Was it not better to remove them to district schools? He had had opportunities of making inquiries respecting many of these schools, and found that great attention was paid to the care of the children, and at Stepney, for example, he found that the children, were comfortable, clean, and well educated, and that those who had been sent out into the world from the school had turned out well in the main. Everyone who had read the comparison drawn by Mr. Tufnell, the Inspector, between the children in the district schools and those residing in workhouses, would say that, it being impossible to carry out the system which the hon. Member desired, the district school system in which the guardians generally took a deep interest, ought to be maintained. The hon. Member said he wished to see the dispensary system carried out, and the country was greatly indebted to Mr. Lambert for his Report in connection with this subject on the Irish dispensaries in 1867. He (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) believed that if the dispensary system were properly organized in the metropolis, the number of sick would be much decreased; but he was far from thinking that it would be decreased in such a proportion as to enable them to get rid of the necessity for additional buildings. He did not say to what extent additional buildings were required, but it was necessary to provide hospital accommodation for the destitute poor. It was idle to talk of treating them in their homes; they had no homes in which they could be treated. The places in which they resided were rooms in which three or four families were huddled together, and how could they be tended there? The hon. Member spoke of lying-in wards, and no doubt the deaths in the lying-in hospitals were out of all proportion to the deaths of women confined at their own homes or in the workhouse wards. There had been 10,000 cases, he believed, in the Marylebone 1354 Workhouse, and only one death. Owing to the greater isolation there, the proportion of recoveries was in favour of the workhouse hospitals as against the lying-in hospitals, and this, no doubt, showed that there should be some separation of persons in this particular condition. But you could not treat these wretched women in their crowded homes. With regard to London hospitals supported by voluntary subscriptions or endowments, it appeared to him that they were not meant absolutely for the destitute poor, such as those who came into the workhouse. Then, too, the number of cases treated in the hospitals was far greater, and the cases themselves far more severe and aggravated than those treated in the workhouse sick wards. In the latter scarcely any wounds or accidents were treated, and there gangrene was not found. Such cases were taken to the hospitals, where, therefore, that particular disease prevailed. But the class of people treated in the hospitals and in the workhouse wards was also wholly different. Many of those in. the sick wards of the workhouses were people afflicted with chronic infirmity, who required constant care and attention, but who would hardly be admitted into hospitals; and it was for this reason he had proposed a clause to establish medical schools within the workhouse wards, which would be of great advantage in familiarizing the younger students with a class of cases which scarcely ever were brought before them in the hospitals. These hospitals were not meant to relieve the poor rates. There was abundance of sickness and suffering to be treated there without resorting to the destitute poor in order to fill the vacant beds. Those beds were vacant, not from want of sick, but from want of funds; and the destitute poor could only go there by excluding those who wanted relief as much as even the class of workhouse sick. He could not imagine any persons more deserving of such relief than working men visited by some unforeseen sickness or accident, or by some similiar visitation to any member of their families. No one could wish that such persons should become paupers and have to resort to the workhouse sick ward; and it was a greater charity to keep the hospitals open for them than to relieve the parishes by putting the sick and destitute poor into these hospitals. Leaving, 1355 then, the details to those who had devoted more attention than he had been able to bestow on them, he would say that he was in favour of the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not think it was wise that, two years after the House had unanimously agreed to a Bill, and just as the machine was being put into operation, they should take it to pieces to see how it had been made; and he thought that those who supported the measure of 1867 should support the plan of classification and amalgamation which the right hon. Gentleman was now trying to develop still further. If that were done, utilizing all existing buildings and classifying the poor, you could also classify the masters, and employ those best adapted to the work in dealing with sturdy, insolent vagrancy, while those who were better fitted for dealing tenderly with the infirm and aged should be employed in that way. He was not afraid to trust any right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Poor Law Board with a large discretion in these matters. Such a Minister was responsible to the House and the metropolis, and he might be left to deal with the questions as they arose. As to the arguments of the hon. Member for Finsbury, who evidently had carefully looked into the details of the question, and who was an advocate of whom no part of the metropolis need be ashamed, he did not think they were conclusive, for while the hon. Member had pointed out that the wards of the large hospitals in London were liable to particular kinds of disease, he had recommended that the destitute sick poor who were free from those diseases should be placed in these very wards. He hoped the House would not drawback in the career upon which it had entered. Let if. do its utmost to put down with a strong hand that which he believed to be the curse of the country—the wilful pauper—the pauper who would not work, and who degenerated into criminality unless his very inertness prevented him. That class, he was sorry to say, was growing in this country, and if not dealt with firmly, would over-ride the country and bring down calamities upon it. His advice, therefore, was, to clear the workhouses proper of the sick and infirm, and place those institutions upon such a footing as to deter persons from going to live there upon the industry of their neighbours. Let the House show that 1356 it was determined to put down that class of pauperism with a high hand; but let it at the same time show the utmost tenderness, mercy, and goodwill towards those who were suffering under unmerited calamity.
§ DR. BREWER
said, if even he had not been chairman of the Metropolitan Asylums Board—the first and most important Board constituted under the Act of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy)—a Board which seemed strangely enough to have fallen under the ban of the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens), he should still have been anxious to address the House on this critical point of the question, which had been brought before the House by the Bill of his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board, inasmuch, as having devoted twenty-five years of his life in the attempt to carry out practically the working of local self-government—to the lowly ambition of mastering the detail of parochial management, whether constituted under legislative sanction, or methodized by voluntary associations—he had not simply interested himself in what he believed a useful work, but given some guarantee of experience—still he trespassed on the indulgence of the House with hesitation—greater hesitation than he should have felt, perhaps, had his knowledge of the difficulties inherent in the subject-matter been less and his confidence been greater in the sufficiencies of the means to cope and grapple with these difficulties which had been presented to the House by his right hon. Friend. He believed this House was hardly likely to regard this as a mere metropolitan question; and. therefore, one in which, as a whole, it had little concern and less interest. They were not dealing with a matter of local but of Imperial concernment, and he warned the House that they were not at the tail-end of a transition state, gentle and progressive, of social government, but at the snout-end of a fierce and bitter struggle—a struggle between a new, hitherto untried system of centralized social government and an old system—the most ancient and once the most popular of all systems, although lately fallen into disfavour of all existing governments; and he would remind the House that the greatness of that change, especially regarding the state of 1357 opinion and tone of thought which under-lied the demand for that change, rendered it impossible that the system advocated could be confined to this metropolis, but must eventually, and at no very remote period, extend to every township in the country. Questions of local taxation had become questions of Imperial magnitude, for within living memory the whole Imperial revenue was loss than the sum they annually collected for local government. Already the Legislature had, by the passing of the Houseless Poor Act and the Poor Law Amendment Act of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University, made great strides on the road to centralization, between which system and local self-government there existed not only diversities of feature, but an antagonism of principle. The essential character and efficiency of local administration consisted in local knowledge and local supervision. If they extended the area of local action and responsibility beyond the area of individual knowledge, local self-government lost its characteristic limitation, and ipso facto ceased. But it would be asked why local guardians, ceasing to possess their original power and responsibility, should in a subordinate condition assume an antagonistic attitude towards a central authority? The answer seemed to him, he confessed, most natural. By the operation of the Act of 1867 the local guardians were not placed under the operation of fixed and known laws, to the admininistration of which they were invited by the Legislature, but under the arbitrary impulses of a central power which issued its edicts, according to the shifting policy of every varying controlling head, to unpaid unrecognized local agencies, who had no motive for obedience, and who in the nature of administrators with undefined rules of action had ever-recurring provocations to disobey. Every motive which influenced men opposed harmonious action between a central and local authority so circumstanced; the love of power was outraged, the sense of personal respect lowered, and the exercise of functions of usefulness humiliated. But, as if to render the breach wider, by the operation of the Act not only was the relation of representation to taxation disregarded, but actually an antagonistic interest fostered between the tax-spender and the tax- 1358 payer. For parish A collected rates from its constituents for parish B to spend, and parish A had no provision made in the Act of 1867 to send a single representative to control by his vote the expenditure of parish B; and to give the vagary the most reckless name also, it gave to this rate the appellation of the Common Fund. It was argued that, although parish B spent the rates of parish A, yet it spent its own money also, and that was sufficient virtual representation; but statesmen whom this country had delighted to honour had left it on record that to divest the expender of the control of the contributor, or even to diminish the directness of that control, was prejudicial to the liberties and subversive of the principles of constitutional government. But the reply was that the Poor Law Board was the receiver and the distributor in the cases of both parishes; but that was no atonement; the broad fact remained that a revenue of Imperial magnitude was collected and expended by persons over whom the tax-payers had practically no control. It was impossible that the House could long continue a system so unconstitutional in principle and so profligate in practice—the House would never sanction the divorcement of representation from taxation. If the House had determined an extension of the area over which taxation was to be expended, it would correspondingly extend the guarantees for constitutional control over no less an area. But it came as a practical question, what course was he prepared to support? and at once he said he could not accede to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury. Whilst opposition to the Act of the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford was a practicable thing, he, and those who acted with him, did all in their power to resist it; but when the Legislature of this country, by an irresistible majority, passed that Act, they thought and felt that the time for opposition was gone, and their duty was, as good citizens, to use their best endeavours to give effect to the provisions of that Act; and believing, as he did, that the moral of our Legislature was nulla vestigia retrorsum, and that they were far on the road of a new system of social legislation, no other course was open to them than that not simply of obedience, but? of co-operation. He did 1359 not deny—they never did deny—that the position of the right hon. Gentleman was an arduous one, and that the objects were a real social exigence, and a means to meet that exigence was, therefore, a necessity. Local government had, undoubtedly, disclosed many defects resulting from the altered character of the applicants for poor relief, and the increased demand for the treatment of the day-labouring class suffering under contagious disease and disabling sickness. Local government had to deal also with altered circumstances, arising from the increased requirements in the management of the sick, of space, and sanitary precautions. A number of harmless lunatics and imbeciles, amounting to nearly 3,000, had to be provided for. These were either in county asylums, built and maintained at great cost out of county rates, and necessarily furnished with means and appliances out of character for such a class; or these poor helpless ones were found in out-wards of union workhouses, but where, requring some special treatment, they were not simply an expensive charge, but their presence acted prejudicially to the discipline and management of the other inmates. All these eases demanded to be dealt with, and there were but two methods of dealing with them—either by extending the powers of local boards, or by creating a new machinery. The Legislature adopted the latter course; and, now the matter was settled, he was willing to admit that the system adopted was a less expensive and a more uniformly efficacious means, though he opposed its adoption and introduction. But now, strangely and inconsistently enough, came the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Finsbury, a member of that committee outside that House, whose vehement, and he must add unscrupulous agitation, was, mainly responsible for the heedless haste with which that Act was passed. He asked how it was that the hon. and learned Gentleman had let go by the golden opportunity when the measure was passing through that House, and had preferred that sterile thing an ex post facto discussion? How was it the hon. Gentleman was so innocent of the facts he had that night brought before that House? Not a danger he had deprecated, not a scene depicted, not a hardship exposed, not an alarm sounded, which the metropolitan guar- 1360 dians did not bring prominently before the country in their meetings at St. James's Hall. There was no excuse for the hon. Gentleman not knowing that the measure of the right hon. Gentleman would deal a death-blow to local self-government; where was then the voice which should here have been raised, not to avert the needful reformation, but the total destruction of that system he pretended to regret? By the course taken in the Act the whole metropolis was formed into a district from all parts of which a board was constituted, consisting of sixty members, forty-five being the representatives of local Boards of Guardians, and fifteen nominated by the Poor Law Board. Of that Board, of which had the honour to be chairman, he bore testimony that their zeal and patience, their assiduity and accurate knowledge of the subject under their management were worthy of all praise. The first duty of that Board was to ascertain the nature and extent of the duty committed to them. By careful investigation they found that the number of lunatic imbeciles to be provided for was 3,000, and the number which could be economically and safely housed in one institution did not exceed 1,500. The right hon. Gentleman imagined that these imbeciles could be provided for in some huge building, but science had long ago utterly condemned such erections. They were, therefore, compelled to build all their hospitals and asylums on the pavilion principle, an excellent example of which hon. Gentlemen would see opposite the 'House in which they were sitting. Two large pavilion asylums had. therefore, to be constructed; one at Leavesden on the north, the other at Caterham on the south, and these asylums were now in process of erection. Besides those, they were responsible for providing hospitals for from 2,600 to 3,200 cases of small-pox, and 4,500 cases of fever; the Liverpool Road Hospital, in 1866. having received under parish orders 3,342 fever-stricken poor. But that estimate would have been incomplete unless they could have arrived at some conclusion on the relative proportion of fever cases sent from different localities to the fever hospital, and the nests and hot-beds of contagious disease. The result of that investigation, coupled with the desirability that no case labouring from disease should be sent a dis- 1361 tance much, exceeding three miles, forced on them the necessity of selecting the sites which had been mentioned and commented on in the House. Strange, indeed, must it sound to the ear of men of ordinary experience that men or women labouring from infectious disease were more safely treated at their own homes. Was it so? Did the hon. Gentleman mean to treat a case of scarlet fever or small-pox in the crowded garret of the day labourer, with his wife, children, and perhaps a lodger, all confined to the four walls of one miserable chamber? Why such a course would endanger the infection of the whole metropolis. The great object of medical science was to find out the hot-bed of fever, and circumscribe it; and the way to do that was to remove the patient to some contiguously suitable asylum. Local self-government was gone. They who fought for its existence asked, now the country had pronounced against it, no dawdling or irresolute scheme. They asked for a bold hand and a resolute policy—a policy which would inaugurate a better system—more suited to the age—a system which would utilize the rates, protect the tax-payer from extortion and fraud, and the deserving poor from the injustice of designing knaves who devoured the substance set apart for them, and alienated that sympathy which their sorrow so justly challenged. Let the system be such as would teach the idle and improvident the necessity of adopting different habits; such as would render assistance to the infirm and aged, and see that the wants of sickness and of childhood were better provided. Let it be such as would inculcate habits of industry in the rising generation; above all, give to the natural guardians and protectors of the poor the assurance that the reproach they vainly sought to avert under the old system had been rolled away, and that whilst the rates were either diminished or increased—either had been effected without one single act which tended to demoralize or to oppress the really destitute and deserving poor.
§ SIR MASSEY LOPES
said, he objected to the principle of this Bill, as he did to that of last year. The President of the Poor Law Board had, on moving the second reading of the Bill the other night, made one or two statements which surprised him, and must have created a sensation not only in the me- 1362 tropolis, but throughout the country. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman told them that the Bill would compel an expenditure of £1,500,000, which was precisely the amount which had been expended in the metropolis on those objects since 1834, when the Poor Law came into existence, The second statement was that, within the last three years, pauperism in the metropolis had increased from 40 to 50 per cent—from 100,000 to 150,000 persons—and that the expenditure had increased in the same ratio. Well, in the teeth of that the right hon. Gentleman asked the ratepayers of the metropolis to expend another £ 1,000,000. The right hon. Gentleman then went on to say that he did not consider pauperism a matter of merely local interest. In that he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman; it was a matter of national interest. It was not only a matter for the rate-payers of the metropolis, but of every town in the country. It must not be supposed that the metropolis was most heavily burdened for the relief of the poor. He would give a few of the amounts paid by some of the towns in this kingdom. Salisbury paid 7s. 10d. on the rateable value; Leeds, 7s. 7½d.; King's Lynn, 7s. 2½d.; Norwich, 7s. 1d.; Southampton, 7s. 0¼d.; Great Yarmouth, 7s.; Plymouth, 6s. 10d.; and Stoke Damerel, 6s. 5d. What were the rates in the metropolis? In Bethnal Green they wore highest—5s. 3½d.; in St. George's-in-the-East, the poorest parish in London, they were 4s. 3¾d.; in the City of London, the wealthiest part, 1s. 4d.; in Paddington, 1s. 6¾d. These figures showed that, in fact, the poor rates of the metropolis were not nearly so high as those in some of the large provincial towns. Indeed, the Bill was the thin end of the wedge; it Mould be a precedent for all other towns. The present Bill was for a consolidation of unions, while that of last year was simply for a classification of paupers, and, therefore, there was a great distinction between the two. The right hon. Gentleman, when bringing forward this measure, confessed that the rate-payers of the metropolis would object to it, but said the public at large were so interested in the question that they would disregard the opinion of the rate-payers. Who were the public at large? Did they contribute to those large burdens? On what principle but 1363 the majority principle could the public at large be allowed to interfere in the question? What constitutional right had they to interfere in it? It was easy to be philanthropic at other people's expense. The test of a man's sincerity in the welfare of others was whether he would make pecuniary sacrifices in order to relieve them The great hardship of the poor rate was that it was levied on one description of properly. The ratepayers of the metropolis admit the necessity of this expenditure, but they say—"Our burdens are already intolerable. Why are we to bear these charges, which are for the benefit of the community at large, single handed. You who are owners of other property are equally interested; if you are prepared to bear your fair proportion, we will no longer murmur, but co-operate with you in promoting such needful and desirable objects." There were men in the metropolis with tens of thousands a year from rent-charges and ground-rents who did not contribute to the poor rate; and there were lodgers living in every luxury who did not contribute; to it, while poor shopkeepers and householders were taxed. Lord Overstone staled that there were £ 150,000,000 a year of capital accumulated yearly in this country. Why should not that capital contribute its proportion to the maintenance of the poor? Why should this description of property be exempted and go soot free? It was an unjust privilege and impolitic exemption. He objected to what was called the amalgamation of unions and to the enlargement of areas, because all this meant a loss of local control and local self-government. The large unions would be cumbrous and unmanagable, and every parish would help itself to as much as possible out of the common fund, and thus there would be no economy and little efficiency. The Government were pledged to bring forward the whole question of local taxation, and, therefore, he thought it premature and wrong to pass such a Bill as that now before the House.
§ MR. SAMUDA
said, his experience as an employer enabled him to say that the working people valued the large hospitals very much, and that, as a rule, they came out of them in a much better state than if they had been treated in their own homes. As a governor of the London Hospital he could state that the 1364 poorer classes were so anxious to avail themselves of the treatment in that and other similar institutions that the governors found it necessary to enlarge them from time to time, and in some cases could not provide sufficient accommodation for the applicants. It might be a disadvantage to bring a number of diseased persons into one building; but there was no advantage without a drawback. He believed that this Bill, instead of making the taxes on the metropolitan district heavier, would tend to lighten them, inasmuch as, the workhouses now being crowded to suffocation, out-door relief was widely given without the possibility of testing the fitness of the recipients. The amount asked for now was indeed larger than in 1867; but it was shown to be absolutely necessary that they should adopt some such plan as that proposed by the President of the Poor Law Hoard for separating the different classes of the poor, and all that the House could do, therefore, was to watch the expenditure in Committee, and keep it, as far as possible, within reasonable limits. Instead, however, of the estimate of £50 a bed given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite for accommodation in lunatic and infirmary wards, his experience led him to believe that the probable cost would be much nearer £150. One of the main advantages of the Bill was that it pointed to a general equalization of poor rates throughout the metropolis. The capitalist and the labourer no longer lived as they did at the commencement of the present century, in the same portions of the metropolis; but, as this change had been made in the interests of all, there was no reason why the wealthier classes who benefited by the arrangement should not contribute to the support of their poorer fellow-citizens, as they did formerly when residing in the same parish.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH moved that the debate be now adjourned.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the subject was important, and hon. Members naturally desired to speak upon it; but as the Session was now getting on very fast he hoped the Bill would be read a second time that night.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he was sorry to have the appearance of opposing an important measure. The hour, however, was really very late; only two 1365 or three Members for the metropolis had yet spoken, and several were anxious to do so; and as the measure was one involving a large amount of taxation and a great enlargement of the powers of the Poor Law Board, he thought his proposition was really not unreasonable.
said, he was sorry to put pressure upon the hon. Gentleman, but as the House would, in any case sit until two o'clock in the morning, the debate might as well be continued.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that unless the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) proceeded with his address at once he would lose the opportunity of speaking upon that stage of the Bill.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that yielding to what seemed to be the general sense of the House, he would withdraw his Motion and address himself to the main question. He contended that if the proposed buildings were erected an increased charge would follow for the maintenance of the asylums for the relief of the insane poor already in course of erection. There were to be not only fever hospitals, but district infirmaries to contain 3,000 patients, at a present estimate of £ 300,000. No such hospital had, however, yet been constructed at £ 100 per bed. Hospitals built under the voluntary principle, and which pro-posed the cure of the sick poor usually cost from £ 200 to £ 300 a bed. The estimate, therefore, appeared to him. to be greatly below the mark if six infirmaries, with 500 patients in each, wore to be erected. Another consideration was the cost of the beds when they were once provided. His impression was that if additional provision wore made, additional persons would appear 1o claim it, and that there would be found to be involved a permanent cost of £30 or £40 per bed per annum. No wonder, therefore, that alarm was felt in the metropolis at these enormous figures. There was, in fact, a want of confidence in the Poor Law Board, which rendered the taxpayers of the metropolis unwilling to place greater powers in the hands of that Board. This was not to be wondered at when the head of that Board was changed with every Ministry, and not unfrequently during the existence of the same Ministry. There had been for some time the want of a regular, 1366 persistent and persevering policy on the part of the Poor Law Board, and a strong desire existed throughout the metropolis that the administration of the Poor Law should form the subject of a careful and deliberate inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman now at the Board had not yet had an opportunity of mastering all the details of the question, and hence, probably, the vacillation and uncertainty in the administration of the office which had existed during the last three or four months. He did not doubt that Parliament would be obliged to widen very largely the area of administration so far as the existing workhouses were concerned. It would be necessary to separate more completely the able-bodied from the infirm, and the children from adults. On the other hand he was satisfied that the only true system of administering out-door relief was by making it as much as possible local in character, so that those who administered the relief might bring to bear upon it that personal and local knowledge which was found so advantageous in country districts. What was wanted was a street to street, and almost house to house, visitation, for the purposes of out-door relief. The expenditure would thus be greatly lessened by the elimination of cases undeserving of relief. There was, however, the danger of the loss of this personal supervision under the system of amalgamating large unions. He was also apprehensive that when large hospitals were substituted for the present workhouse infirmaries, and when large numbers of sick were congregated in them, they would be found to be as unhealthy and dangerous as some of the wards of the great London hospitals. While they all desired to help the suffering and deserving poor, it was equally desirable to discourage pauperism and prevent the honest and prudent working man from being taxed and compelled to provide comforts for the idle and improvident which he was unable to obtain for himself. He did not wish to impede the erection of these asylums and fever and small-pox hospitals; but it was well worthy the consideration of the House whether the Poor Law administration in the metropolis was as satisfactory as it ought to be and whether it tended to discourage pauperism. The rate per head for the London paupers greatly 1367 exceeded that for the rest of the country it being 8s. 4d. per head of the population of London, and 6s. 6d. throughout the whole of the country. To that 8s. 4d. per head must be added the interest of the captial sum employed in the proposed buildings, which would amount to a further sum of 7d. or 8d. per head. There was a large portion of the pauper population of London which was not the pauper population of London alone, but was, in fact, drained from the whole of England. In behalf of (he metropolis, therefore, he protested against that charge being imposed on the rate-payers of the metropolis alone. There were, other sources of taxation—possibly even the Consolidated Fund—which ought first of all to be tried before imposing so heavy a burden upon the metropolis.
§ MR. D. DALRYMPLE
said, he thought a well-arranged dispensary system in London would answer perfectly, but only as a subordinate part of a system where good and efficient hospitals existed. Dispensaries would meet the minor cases, which formed the commencement of pauperism; for a large portion of the pauperism depended on the head of the family being thrown out of employment through illness; but nothing could be so disastrous or costly as in a great city to adopt any system of dispensary treatment for every kind of disease. He very much doubted whether the statistics of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) would bear strict examination. For instance, there were amputations and amputations; and those cases which involved little trouble and no risk should not be compared with or included in the list of those serious cases in which the illness which had led up to the amputation produced half the danger. He did hope that those who had charge of the expenditure would exercise the greatest vigilance and economy. He was perfectly staggered when he heard the President of the Poor Law Board talk of the cost per head of some of the proposed buildings. He could not help fearing that there was to be an outlay for architectural display, which was wholly out of place. He hoped that the estimates before the House would be considerably cut down. The patients should be comfortably and reasonably housed and attended to, and not lodged in a luxury 1368 and semi-splendour to which they had never been accustomed.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, it was from no want of respect to his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. W. M. Torrens) that he would not at that hour attempt to follow him through that most able speech to which they had all listened with so much interest, to show in what points his hon. Friend was mistaken, but also to show the many points in which he entirely concurred with him. He was mistaken if he thought that the Poor Law Board discouraged dispensary treatment. That very Bill contained clauses to enforce it. They found the machinery inadequate; they were anxious to carry it out, and if the House passed that Bill, when he had to give an account of his stewardship next year, the erection of those dispensaries and the improvement of the system of out-door relief would be among the things which he hoped he should have been able to accomplish. But he agreed with two or three hon. Members who had addressed the House that it was impossible to hope to empty the workhouses in the metropolis by any carrying out of the dispensary system. And he might say the same with regard to schools. If they could manage to place orphan children in large numbers, and afterwards draft them into the population it would be done; but it was better to have the children in district schools than in any workhouse school. Then, again, the fever cases would have to remain in the workhouses if there were not fever hospitals, he agreed that it was better to have perfect isolation, but they could not have isolation in fever cases in the metropolis. But would they leave fever cases in the workhouse; or would they treat them in cottages? It was impossible to do that. There were thousands and thousands of eases that could not be treated with any hope of recovery in their own homes. Acute cases and chronic cases must be treated differently. If his hon. Friend would introduce clauses by which arrangements should be made authorizing guardians to send their worst cases to hospitals they should be taken into consideration. He wished to utilize all the space in hospitals that could be used. Then, as to expense, it seemed to be thought that this Bill was intended to authorize the Poor Law Board to spend £ 1,500,000, but that was not so. At pre- 1369 sent the Poor Law Board possessed all the necessary authority, but the Bill was intended to enable the Board to supersede the necessity of some of the proposed hospitals. He hoped the greater portion of the six separate infirmaries would be saved by means of the process he had explained to the House. It was with the view of saving the erection of these hospitals and infirmaries that this Bill was brought forward. A great many of the strictures of his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury did not apply to this Bill at all. It was in order to carry out the system of classification that they wished this Bill to be passed. "With regard to the expenditure, he wished to point out that of the sum of £1,400.000 there was cither expended or authorized to be expended for works in progress the sum of £700,000. That amount was the practical expenditure of the last two years under the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. Therefore, they had the large sum of £ 700,000 to deal with, and if he were able to cut off from that amount some £ 300,000 or £ 400,000, he should have effected, with the assistance of the House, a considerable saving. So far from the Government intending to destroy local government, as stated by the hon. Member for Colchester (Dr. Brewer) their wish was simply to substitute one form of local government for another. As a metropolitan Member himself, he was anxious to save expenditure as far as a saving could be effected consistently with efficiency, and he trusted that the House would not refuse to read the Bill a second time.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 15: Majority 103.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.