HC Deb 31 May 1883 vol 279 cc1320-2

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he has been made aware of the circumstances under which a pauper of the name of William Davis, with his wife and three children, were removed from Plymouth Union to that of Londonderry, which place he left fourteen years ago; whether it is true that he had resided at Plymouth ten years continuously, and at the time of his removal was engaged in weekly service, earning 22s. a-week, and was the holder of a tenement furnished by himself; that about the 1st of May he was ordered to proceed to Ireland; that a few days afterwards, owing to his refusal to leave Plymouth, his wife and children were forcibly seized by policemen and placed on board ship for Dublin; that the pretence or ground for such proceedings was that during two or three months absence of Davis from work, in hospital owing to ill health early in this year, the wife was allowed out-door relief of 4s. 6d. per week; that this man had a pension as a retired gunner in the Royal Artillery, in which he served fourteen and a-half years, and had a good character and possessed two good conduct badges; whether the Plymouth guardians could not have recouped themselves the small amount of relief expended on this family by applying for repayment out of Davis's pension; whether the conduct of the Plymouth magistrates and guardians was legal; and, whether he will take any steps open to him to prevent a renewal of such proceedings under the present Law?


Sir, if this were merely the case of an individual, I should not have thought it right to detain the House with the answer I am about to give; but it raises an important question with regard to the Irish poor removal question. The Board have caused inquiry to be made of the guardians as to the facts of the case of William Davis. The clerk to the guardians states that William Davis came to Plymouth, as he is informed, on the 28th of November, 1881, and in that case he "had not resided at Plymouth 10 years continuously." With regard to the question whether Davis, at the time of his removal, was engaged in weekly service, earning 22s. a-week, and was the holder of a tenement furnished by himself, the Board are informed by the clerk to the guardians that Davis was in no employ at the time of his removal, and never had, as far as he can ascertain, 22s. a-week wages. He had two or three days' work at the Tramway Company's stable during the illness of another man. He rented one room, and some of his things were taken out of pawn for him when he left. The person to whom the warrant was entrusted for execution was a policeman on leave, and he did not act in this matter as a policeman, but as the agent of the guardians. The relief of 4s. 6d. per week, the guardians state, was continued after Davis was discharged from the hospital, and he applied for a truss, which was granted to him. As regards the guardians being recouped the relief granted by applying for repayment out of his pension, the guardians state that Davis had a pension of 8d. a-day, but had received the amount to the end of March before the relief was given, and nothing could have been obtained by the guardians until July, and only then if Davis were living. They were of opinion that, considering the state of his health, the family would be per- manently chargeable, and in the case of the man's death would be entirely dependent on the rates for support. The material facts of the case are in dispute; and, this being the case, the Board do not consider that they can express an opinion as to the legality of the conduct of the Plymouth magistrates and guardians. If the guardians of the Londonderry Union think themselves aggrieved by the removal on the ground that the man was not, in law, liable to be removed, and proceed as provided by the 26 & 27 Vict., c. 89, the Local Government Board for Ireland may appoint a person to make a preliminary inquiry into the circumstances attending the removal, and, if they think fit, may appeal, on behalf of the guardians, against the removal. Davis was understood, when before the guardians, to express his willingness to go to Ireland; and the clerk to the guardians states that Davis told him that he did not object to go, but his wife was unwilling. Neither Davis nor his wife made any objection before the magistrates.


inquired, whether the man was actually in receipt of relief at the time of his removal?


said, that, as he understood the statement of the guardians, that was so.