§ Financial Relations between Exchequer and County, and Contributions by County for Indoor Paupers.
§ Clause 21 (Grant to County Council of portion of Probate Duty).
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford Central)
said, the discussion on Tuesday last was on the question of indoor pauperism, and whether it was expedient to pass a clause which, in the opinion of many Members of the House, would promote indoor pauperism at the expense of outdoor pauperism. On the Amendment, which he rose to move, he should confine his observations wholly to the 598 question of the financial result of the proposal of the Government, which he believed would be a very great and gross inequality, and which also, he believed, would be extended by the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board for making the present distribution last for the next five years. Those inequalities appeared to him best realizable by a reference to the distribution of the fund in respect of the Metropolis. It would be observed that of the £1,800,000 which it was proposed to contribute to the Local Funds, no less than one-third would go to the Metropolis. But he need only remind the Committee that the rateable value of the Metropolis was only one-fifth, and the population one-seventh of the rest of the country, and if the money were to be divided in proportion to rateable value the Metropolis would get only £360,000, and if in proportion to population, £262,000. There was no doubt that the pauperism of the Metropolis was higher in proportion than that of the rest of the country; but even if they were to take the ratio of pauperism and divide it in proportion to the poor rate throughout the country, the Metropolis would then get £80,000 less than was proposed to be given to it by the Government under the clause. But in order to illustrate the effect of the clause and the distribution to the Metropolis and other parts of the country, it was necessary to consider one or two other circumstances. The Poor rates in some other parts of the country closely approached although they did not quite equal those of the Metropolis. Taking the case of the Principality of Wales, the poor rates there were very high—not so high as in London, but very much higher than in the rest of the country. He found that the Principality of Wales would take out of the fund £51,000; if the money was distributed according to rateable value, Wales would get £78,000, and, if according to population, £92,000; while if it received the same treatment as the Metropolis, it would get no less than £124,000. The five agricultural counties, Bedfordshire, Somersetshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire, and Cornwall, in which pauperism was higher than in the rest of the country, would receive £95,000 out of the Probate Duty. If they were to receive a sum in proportion 599 to rateable value, they would get £23,000 more; if in proportion to population, an additional sum of £48,000; while if in proportion to pauperism, they would receive £11,000 more than was proposed to be given to them under the clause. He would then take five other counties, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Rutlandshire, Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire. In those counties the average of pauperism was about the same as in the rest of the country, but he found that they were about to receive under the Bill 56 per cent less than they would receive under the distribution founded on rateable value. They would receive £76,000 under the Government proposal; they would receive £42,000 more than if they had been paid on the rateable value, and on the basis of population they would receive about the same as upon that of rateable value. Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, and Cumberland would receive £72,000 under the clause, whereas according to rateable value they would receive £110,000. The pauperism in these counties was about the same as in the rest of the country. He would now call attention to the different treatment of two counties—namely, Lancashire and Yorkshire. In Lancashire pauperism was 28 per cent less than in any other part of the country; but notwithstanding that, it would receive a full share of the grant on the basis of population and rateable value—namely, £220,000. If the money were received in proportion to pauperism, it would get £65,000 less than was proposed; but it would receive, according to the Returns laid upon the Table of the House, £221,000, which was about the same as it would be entitled to on the basis either of rateable value or population. On the other hand, crossing the boundary into Yorkshire, he found that pauperism was somewhat higher there, and, therefore, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it ought to be somewhat better treated than Lancashire. He found that the West Riding would receive 50 per cent less than it would be entitled to on the basis of rateable value. It would receive £82,000 under the proposal of the Government; whereas, if its rateable value were taken, it would get £122,000; and if the money were distributed on the basis of population, it would receive £151,000, or nearly double of what the 600 Government proposed to give. These statistics appeared to him to afford a very good illustration of the inequitable result of the proposal now before the Committee. He could multiply illustrations of this fact if it were desirable to do so; but he would content himself with two other illustrations only—namely, the town of Bradford and Sheffield. He found that Bradford would receive £6,000 under the proposal of the Government; whereas, if the money were distributed according to rateable value, it would receive 12,000; and on the basis of population no less than £16,000. Again, in the case of Sheffield, the population was somewhat in excess of Bradford; and under the proposal of the Government it would receive £14,000; and upon the basis of rateable value or population it would get about £18,000 or £20,000. It appeared to him that these examples showed the great and gross inequality which would result from the method of distribution proposed by the Government, and which also appeared to him quite indefensible. In answer to a Question put to him yesterday, the President of the Local Government Board said, with reference to Wales, that the House ought to consider, in connection with this matter, not merely the inequality resulting from the proposed distribution, but also the existing inequality with reference to the grants made by Parliament up to the present time. He ventured to say that that was hardly the way in which this question should be looked at, nor was it the time for rectifying one inequality by setting up another. These inequalities would be extended and continued for no less than five years, and at the end of that time there was no security that they would be redressed; whether that would be so depended to a great extent upon the increase or decrease of pauperism which might take place in the meantime. It might be that the effect of the proposal would be to stimulate indoor pauperism, and that at the end of that time the inequality might be redressed; on the other hand, they had the assurance of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that no administrative objects were aimed at by the Bill, and that the Government did not wish that there should be any stimulus given to indoor pauperism; that th 601 Government offered no bribe and intended no bribe, and that indoor pauperism would not increase in consequence of the Government proposal. Now, his opinion was that the effect of the Government proposal would be to stimulate indoor pauperism. They must recollect that the proposal of the Government was not only to give to the counties 4d. a day for each indoor pauper; but the counties would derive the benefit of the proportion of the £1,800,000 divided between them for the 175,000 indoor paupers; in other words, the counties would derive the benefit of £9 per annum per head for every indoor pauper, of which £6 would be paid over to the parish. He would suppose the case of a widow with four children coming before the parish officers, and the question arising whether they should have outdoor relief or go into the workhouse. If she went into the workhouse, that would result in a gain to the county of £45 a-year for the next five years; if she remained outside, the parish would receive £30 a-year for the next five years. [Mr. RITCHIE: How?] He had already stated that the amount to be divided was £1,800,000, which, divided according to the total number of indoor paupers—that was to say, 175,000, would be about £9 per head, and he was now saying that the county would receive at the end of the first five years £45, and that the parish would receive £30 a-year for the next five years. He had confined himself mainly to the financial proposal, and he thought he had shown that a very grave and gross inequality would result. He had accordingly proposed to amend the clause by adding the words "rateable value and population," the effect of which would be to compel the Local Government Board to take into account both the indoor pauperism and the rateable value of the district, and thus reduce, if not wholly remove, the inequality which he had shown to exist. In the case of the Metropolis, the effect would be to reduce the contribution by £150,000; on the other hand, it would add to the contribution of Wales £22,000; to the West Riding of Yorkshire £36,000; to the five western counties, £11,000; and in all other cases it would reduce inequalities. It was in that he ventured to propose his Amendment, being confident that the proposal of the 602 Government could not be defended, and that some change, whether in the direction of that indicated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton or by an Amendment which the Government themselves might bring in.
In page 16, line 28, after the words "indoor pauperism," to insert the words "their rateable value and their population by taking the arithmetical mean of the result arrived at on these three bases."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
I think the course taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford is not exactly a convenient one for the Committee. The right hon. Gentleman has raised a discussion to-day which is practically the same as the discussion we had when the Committee last considered the Bill. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head; but I would remind him that he was only present during an extremely short period of the evening when the clause was last discussed. The right hon. Gentleman had maintained throughout his speech that distribution, according to indoor pauperism, was unfair. That was precisely what the Committee was discussing for several hours last week, and the deliberate decision at which they arrived was that the basis of indoor pauperism was the one which they approved. The right hon. Gentleman by means of his Amendment is raising precisely the same question. [Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE: No.] Yes, he does. The question decided was whether or not the words "indoor pauperism" should stand part of the clause, and the Committee decided that they should. The whole discussion was as to the basis of indoor pauperism, and the question was decided by a vote for the retention of the words. The right hon. Gentleman very cunningly proposes an Amendment which says that although the basis of distribution decided upon by the Committee is indoor pauperism, that the basis should be something else. Under those circumstances, looking at the fact that the matter was very fully discussed, the right hon. Gentleman will probably 603 excuse me for not going over the arguments in favour of the basis of indoor pauperism again. I will, however, enter into one or two of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments in order to show that it would not be right to depart from the conclusion at which the Committee arrived. The right hon. Gentleman says there are many and great inequalities under the proposal in the Bill, and he has given statistics showing those inequalities. He was kind enough, however, to admit that, although he was able to produce instances of inequality in the proposal of the Government, even his proposal would also lead to a great many inequalities. Yes; and so they would; but I will tell the Committee the great difference between the inequalities which will result from our proposal, and those which exist in the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and inequalities, if there are any, are brought about by the proverty of the district; the inequalities of the right hon. Gentleman would be the consequence of the wealth of the district. That is the real and essential difference between the proposal of the Government and that of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman confines himself exclusively to the amount to be paid to the localities out of the Probate Duty grant; he altogether ignores the position in which certain localities would be with regard to the Licence Duties. The right hon. Gentleman took the case of the Metropolis, and said that it would have an undue advantage, and he quoted to the Committee the amount which London would receive as compared with the other parts of the country; but he altogether failed to inform the Committee that, notwithstanding the fact that London would get a considerable amount of the grant for indoor pauperism, according to the number of poor to be maintained, it would lose very heavily as between the amount which it had received and the amount to be received in lieu of the existing grants. We have always contended that you must not look on the proposal of the Government simply in reference to the amount of Licence Duty or Probate Duty, but with reference to the amount which will be received for both. It is obvious that in the richer communities, as a rule, the less will be the amount of pauperism they will have to support, and vice versâ. 604 The Government have therefore arrived at the conclusion that the Licence Duties and the contributions in aid of paupers counterbalance each other. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Metropolis will gain considerably by our proposal, and I point out that it will lose largely on the licences. The net result of that to the Metropolis will be that while there is a gain to the whole country, including Wales, there is no reason to suppose that the percentage of gain with reference to it will be greater or materially different from the amount of the existing Licence Duty. We have not been able to estimate, or I should certainly have done it, the total amount which would be gained from all the Licence Duties, including the Horse and Wheel Tax; because we have found it impossible to allocate to the various districts any certain amount. Leaving out the Horse and Wheel Tax, the Metropolis gains 2½d. in the pound by the financial operation; whereas the rest of the country, including Wales, will gain 3½d. in the pound; so that it will be seen that the Metropolis, although it gets a large amount on account of the indoor poor, yet, on the whole, it will be a loser to the extent of 1d. in the pound as compared with the rest of the country; whereas, if the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman were accepted the gain to the country districts would be increased from 3½d. to 4d. in the pound; whilst the gain to the Metropolis would fall from 2½d. to 2d. in the pound. Therefore I say that the inequalities would be enormously increased by the adoption of the right hon. Gentleman's proposal. I entirely demur to what the right hon. Gentleman has said with regard to London receiving a larger amount than the existing grants. Those grants are paid for specific purposes—that is to say, they are proportionate to the amount of expenditure incurred under certain heads in the localities. We have never pretended that this is a perfect system. It was always held that it would be wise to place local finance upon its own bottom, so we say that these grants are to cease, and we must allow the localities to depend on what they can collect. But I altogether deny that these grants ought not to be considered in connection with the proposal in the Bill. The right hon. gentleman went on to prove, by a most extraordinary calculation, that the 605 parishes and counties were to be very large gainers in consequence of our proposal; he said that in the case of a widow with four children, there would be a gain of £35. When I ventured to challenge the accuracy of that statement, the right hon. Gentleman said that he had altogether forgotten the cost of the maintenance of the widow and children. The right hon. Gentleman said,It is quite true that I have overlooked that matter, but then there is, on the other hand, the cost of outdoor relief, and if they were in the house instead of being relieved outside, the county and parish would largely gain.It is almost impossible to avoid arguing in connection with the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman questions which have been raised over and over again; but I think that the Committee will not consider it unimportant that I should give some statistics in relation to this subject. The cost of maintenance, which I have calculated for England and Wales, excluding the Metropolis, is as follows—Cost of maintenance, 5s. 7d.; workhouse and other loans, 1s. 3d.; two-thirds of salaries (indoors), 2s. 9d.; other expenses, 1s. 2d.; in all, 11s. 2d. for England and Wales, excluding the Metropolis. Now, in the Metropolis, the amount instead of being 11s. 2d. is 16s. 3d. Well; but the right hon. Gentleman would no doubt say that many of these charges would be the same however large the number of indoor poor may be. I am perfectly prepared to admit that that is so; but it is quite apparent that you cannot largely increase the number of indoor poor without some increase in the working expenses. Let the Committee remember that the cost of the maintenance is 5s. 7d. I contend that if you are to take even an extremely small percentage for other charges, the cost will certainly be more than 6s. It was stated the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) that the estimated cost of outdoor relief was something like 1s. 6d. a-week, or about 2½d. a-day. Looking at the fact that the cost of the indoor poor, even maintenance alone, is about 9d., and the amount to be received by the Guardians, if our proposals are accepted, is 4d., it is clear that instead of the Guardians gaining, they would be losers, without taking into account the other expenses of which I have spoken. 606 Of course, if it were necessary to increase the size of the workhouse buildings, the amount would be very large; but if there were room for all the indoor paupers, it would not pay the Guardians to take a man into the house as against relieving him outside. When we come to discuss the question whether 4d. per head should be paid by the County Councils to the Guardians, if the House should think the amount is too large I should be glad to consider whether it should not be-reduced. But that is, of course, a separate question. I think I have disposed of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, first, as to the inequality both of the amount received from the Probate Duty and also as to the grant to be discontinued. I have endeavoured to show that our proposal, if there is any inequality at all, is in favour of the poorer localities which have to support a larger number of paupers; and if there is an argument in favour of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman it would be that an inequality would be created in favour of the richer localities as against those that are poorer.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he had been present during the whole of the last debate on this question, and although he was very anxious to take part in it, he had unfortunately been prevented. He ventured to say to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) that this was a Bill which could not be forced through the House. It was one which involved grave and difficult questions; they were endeavouring to make a great and permanent change in the Constitution, and it was most desirable that the question should be considered fully, and that all hon. Members should have an opportunity of stating their views upon it. He wished to approach the question from an entirely economic point of view, and without any antagonism to the opinions of the hon. Gentleman opposite, merely because they supported the proposal of the Government. It was the desire of the Committee to settle the question fairly, and unless that was done the settlement arrived at could not be permanent. The right hon. Gentleman frankly admitted that there were great inequalities in the Government proposal; but that unless the great inequality with regard to London were maintained justice would 607 not be done; and he said—"We are creating inequalities in favour of the poor localities, and not of the rich. "Now, he (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) asked the Metropolitan Members to consider this matter fairly. The population of London with relation to the rest of the country was one-fourth, and the rateable value as one-fifth. But its proportion of the Poor Law Grant was to be something like one-third. No doubt the pauperism of London was larger than that of the rest of the country; there was a great influx of the labourer into London, besides the cheap foreign labour, which tended to the increase of pauperism. But if London attracted a great deal of the pauperism, it also attracted a great deal of the wealth of the country; and he had shown over and over again, that it was nothing like so heavily taxed as other large cities in the country. That was a matter of statistics, and was proved by the evidence given before a Committee which sat last year. For the five years—1882–6—the average taxation of London, including the School Board rate, Lighting and Sewers, and all other rates, was 5s. 2½d. in the pound. He would now take such towns as Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool, and ask the Committee whether London was not, in the matter of local taxation favourably situated, and whether any case had been made out for its receiving exceptional treatment on the ground of the heavy burdens which it had to bear; and whether, in the case of the Metropolis, the Government were not treating it on the principle of—"To him that hath shall be given." The rates in the parish of St. George's, Hanover Square, were 3s. 10d. in the pound.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
Of course, they were high at the East End; but they were now dealing with the general taxation of London, and the right hon. Gentleman, as he understood him, said that London had a special claim, which ought to be met by an unequal distribution of the Probate Duty grant.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
His point was—that those who were familiar with local taxation in the country could not be expected to look with very great 608 favour upon a special claim on behalf of London, founded on the necessity of relieving it of its heavy burden of taxation. The right hon. Gentleman said that London was being deprived of a considerable amount of money received in grants; but what were the existing grants for? There was a large grant to London in respect of police. But some hon. Members on those Benches, who had had something to do with the administration of the police, contended, and believed that if the financial administration of the police were placed in the hands of an elected Body there would be much less cost. The right hon. Gentleman had forgotten the sums devoted to the various institutions of London out of the Consolidated Fund; he had forgotten how London had been nursed at the public expense. The other great cities and towns provided their own Police Courts and the salaries of their magistrates, but in London these were paid for out of the Consolidated Fund. He wished to ask the special attention of hon. Members representing agricultural districts to the working out of the distribution of the Probate grant, and, amongst others, he invited the hon. and gallant Member for North-West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) to consider how his own county would be affected. He had taken two counties of similar populations, in order to show how unfairly the distribution, on the Government basis, would work out, and the Committee would then be able to judge of the necessity of something being done in the direction of the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. Devonshire had a population of 608,000, and a rateable value of £3,010,000; Essex, with a population of 633,000, had a rateable value of £3,029,000; but in the case of Devonshire the grant would be only £31,000, and in that of Essex it would be £41,000.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
said, it was not. He was showing the manner in which the £1,800,000 arising out of the Probate Duties was to be distributed, and how unfairly it would work in the counties and boroughs as compared with London. He would give another case in which the population and rateable value were pretty nearly the same. Lincolnshire had a population 609 of 463,000, and Sussex of 544,000. The rateable value of Lincolnshire was £3,158,000, and that of Sussex, £3,230,000; but the grant which they would receive was £21,000 for Lincolnshire, and £36,043 for Sussex. Oxfordshire and Dorsetshire were another example. The population of Oxfordshire was 181,000, and that of Dorsetshire 185,000. The rateable value was about the same, yet Oxford would get 111,861, and Dorsetshire only £9,944. Another remarkable case was that of Lancashire and the Metropolis, each of which had a population of 4,000,000. But the wealth was in London, which had £30,000,000 of rateable value, while Lancashire, with all its prosperity, had only a rate able value of £18,250,000. It was impossible to give figures showing more clearly the enormous wealth of the Metropolis; yet it was to receive £536,000 of the grant, and Lancashire £221,000. Thus, London had more than double what Lancashire received, although the populations were the same. He fully admitted that it was very difficult to regulate this grant, and that it was almost impossible to avoid some inequality; but the plan proposed by the Government would produce exceptional inequality, which would be largely increased in the case of the Metropolis if any tax were imposed on vehicular locomotion. For these reasons, he supported the Amendment of his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, that the right hon. Gentleman had not pointed out that the average of the rates paid in London were brought down by the lower rates levied in the richer districts of the West End. It had been proved in evidence before a Select Committee that in four parishes in Whitechapel the rates were over 6s. in the pound. In St. George's, Hanover Square, they were shamefully under-taxed; and that was an injustice which should be dwelt upon, because if the statement of the right hon. Gentleman were taken without qualification, it would give a false notion of the real state of the case.
§ MR. LAWSON
said, he only wished to point out the misleading effect of giving the average rate of the whole 610 Metropolis. As the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly aware, the great public buildings of London did not contribute their fair share to the local rates; and if the ratepayers gained from London being the seat of the Government, they lost more from the same cause. When the position of London and its local burdens were spoken of, it ought to be borne in mind how much the London ratepayers suffered from the imported pauperism of the Home Counties and of foreign immigration. The right hon. Gentleman must show, if he wished to make out that the London ratepayers were going to pay less in respect of the burden of pauperism in future, that some legislation was contemplated by which immigrants were to be excluded. The pauperism of the Metropolis was increasing every day; and the Committee ought also to consider that the average rental was far higher than in the large cities of other parts of England. It had been shown that more than 88 per cent of the working classes of London paid a quarter of their weekly earnings by way of rent. It seemed only fair that the Metropolitan Members should rise on behalf of those they represented, especially in the poorer districts, and show that they were not living in quite such a Utopia as the right hon. Gentleman would have the Committee believe.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
said, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) had expressed regret that this discussion should be brought up again; but he (Sir William Harcourt) thought it ought to be borne in mind that this was one of the most important parts of the Bill. There could be no doubt that, however much they might hurry the Bill through the House, they would not prevent discussion arising in different districts of the country as to whether or not particular districts would have a fair share of this grant; and, therefore, it was of the most vital consequence that the question should be considered whether the distribution of the grant was founded upon sound principles. He was a little disappointed—he was afraid that he was open to the charge of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, of not being able to attend the discussion the other night—that the Government had not made a more distinct departure from their original proposal. The Chancellor 611 of the Exchequer, on the second reading of the Bill, said that he had been so much impressed with the disadvantages of this particular provision in reference to the indoor poor, that the Government would seek some other principle; and, therefore, he felt very much disappointed that some more equitable form of distribution had not been put forward. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER dissented.] He (Sir William Harcourt) was sorry to have misquoted the right hon. Gentleman; but he thought the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hall) would agree that that was the impression which he conveyed. However, it was a very great misfortune, because the figures which had been quoted incontrovertibly proved that there would be a very serious pecuniary advantage in forcing the people who were out of the workhouse into the workhouse. The figures given by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill proved that conclusively—he had shown that the Guardians would receive £9 a-head, that the cost of maintenance and other matters was about £4, and that the profit would be £5 for each person they put into the house. Therefore, to that degree, there was a premium upon putting people into the house as against keeping them out. As for the proposal, he warned the Government that it would make the Bill exceedingly unpopular in the rural districts, especially those with which he was well acquainted. The working of the measure there, he was convinced, would be very much resented. It was said that the Committee had decided the question the other night. It might be so, and, if so, he was very sorry to hear it. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford, however, did not deny the decision altogether. It sought to modify it by introducing other elements which would mitigate the evils, and remove many of the inequalities, which would otherwise result from the Government scheme. That was the character of the Amendment of his right hon. Friend, and it was not open to the reproach of raising an old question. His hon. Friend who preceded him in the debate (Mr. Lawson) very properly stood up for the interests of the Metropolis, and it was natural that the Metropolitan Members should agree with the proposals of the 612 Government, because, unquestionably, they were very favourable to the Metropolis. ["No, no!"] A right hon. Gentleman opposite said "No;" but he would allow him (Sir William Harcourt) to observe that the three potential Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench were Metropolitan Members—the First Lord of the Treasury (Strand, Westminster), the Chancellor of the Exchequer (St. George's, Hanover Square), and the President of the Local Government Board (Tower Hamlets, St. George's). By those unconscious influences which sometimes governed the minds of men they had come to the conclusion—he was sure a perfectly impartial conclusion—that an arrangement which was greatly to the benefit of the Metropolis was the wisest and best that could be made. He did not complain of it. No doubt, if he had to make an arrangement on behalf of his constituents, he should follow their example completely. He did not pretend to be more virtuous than they were; but those right hon. Gentlemen must allow non-Metropolitan Members to look upon the matter from a different point of view. Did the Government dispute the figures of his right hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), and the extraordinary comparison brought out as between Lancashire, and the Metropolis? Did they believe, if the right hon. Gentleman's figures were correct, that the people of Lancashire would not regard this matter with a jealous eye, and ask upon what principle they had proceeded? The right hon. Gentleman said—"You must not look at the Probate Duty Grant alone; you must look at the Licence Duties as well," and that a particular town would get a much higher amount for indoor paupers because it was poor, and that a town would get a less amount of Licence Duty because it was rich. As he understood, the right hon. Gentleman said—"Yes; you look at a poor place, and you find it gets a large amount out of this fund in consequence of its poverty; but it would get less under the Licence Duty because of its poverty." Hon. Gentlemen near him had pointed out that that was an entire delusion. Take Sheffield as compared with Leeds. The population of Sheffield was 285,000, and that of Leeds was 613 340,000. Sheffield, with a less population than Leeds, would get under the Probate Duty £17,555, and Leeds, with the larger population, would get £13,900. Then came in the right hon. Gentleman's argument—"Yes; but Sheffield is a poorer town, and it gets more under the Probate Duty, but it will get less under the Licence Duty." Was it so? Why, Sheffield, with a smaller population, got £29,000 under the Licence Duty, while Leeds, with a larger population, only got £24,000. Those figures showed the argument of the right hon. Gentleman to be absolutely fallacious.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, it was quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman's argument failed with regard to the larger boroughs, as the extraordinary inequalities showed. He did not want to delay the Committee; but he asked whether, considering the inequalities, which were of the most startling character, the Government would consider whether the shutting out of a man like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) by the Closure was a wise use of the Closure? He did not wish to raise any Party asperity upon the subject; but, really, he wanted to show that this was a matter which must be thoroughly thrashed out if any satisfaction was to be given in the country. There were difficulties in the matter which even the Government had not fathomed. The right hon. Gentleman appealed to the Committee always extremely fairly, and under the pressure of the figures of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) admitted that the question of the 4d. grant deserved to be reconsidered. That being so, the Government would do well to reconsider it from the point of view of the present Amendment. The introduction of the three elements of rateable value and population, as well as indoor pauperism, was a suggestion of great value; because, as in astronomical observations they compensated one error by another, so it might be found that by the introduction of these three elements they would get a fairer and a juster average than they would obtain from one of them alone. That was the proposal 614 of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), and he thought it was a proposal which was worthy of the consideration of the Government.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN) (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said, the right hon. Gentleman stated that surely the Government would not wish to closure a Gentleman like the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler). He did not think the right hon. Gentleman rose once during the course of Tuesday evening. Certainly, there was no desire to exclude him from the debate. The discussion had continued for four hours and a-half, and the Government thought that the matter, looking to the character of the debate, had been sufficiently discussed. He assured right hon. Gentlemen there was no desire to exclude any right hon. Gentleman whose opinions were of vital importance on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) said that in astronomical calculations errors compensated each other. Inequalities compensated each other, and that was precisely one of the arguments they urged in opposition to the speeches which had been made against them. The right hon. Gentleman had said that there were three Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench, all Metropolitan Members, who had taken considerable interest in this subject. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that those Members had been influenced in the arrangement of this Bill by some favour to the Metropolis. But the right hon. Gentleman had failed to point out, or had failed to remember when he made that suggestion, or he thought that he would not have made it, that the total result of the relief which was given to the Metropolis and the country generally had been that, while the rest of the country benefited to the extent of 3½d. in the pound, London only benefited to the extent of ½d. in the pound. That was to say, taking the whole of the calculations together, London, after the local taxation had been adjusted, would gain infinitely less than the remainder of the country. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] He did not understand whether that was doubted. It was certainly a point he should like to enforce, if necessary; he 615 believed the figures were accepted, and had not been challenged. Looking to the matter as a whole—and that was how the Government had looked at it; looking to the withdrawal of the grants, looking, on the other hand, to the licences and the distribution of the Probate Grant, the rest of the country gained more, and London gained less.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, the 3½d. was arrived at by this calculation. They withdrew the grants, and they then saw how much they would receive on the indoor pauperism test, and they saw how much they would gain by the licences. Adding together the two gains and withdrawing the losses, a certain sum remained over, and that sum represented 2½d. in the case of London and 3½d. in the case of the rest of the country
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Upon the rateable value of the Metropolis on the one hand, and the rateable value of the rest of the country on the other. He was anxious that that should be thoroughly understood; that was how they had arrived at the calculation. On the one hand, they said the localities would gain so much by the distribution of the Probate Duty; they would gain so much by the Licence Duty, and then they would lose so much by the withdrawal of the grants; and the reason why London came out worse than the country was that the withdrawal of the grants was a much more serious matter to the Metropolis than it was to the rest of the country. The right hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct in saying that that was, in the main, due to the police. The Imperial Exchequer at present paid to the Metropolis £575,000 in respect to the police. The Exchequer would be relieved to that amount, and London would lose that amount; and therefore, so far as the taxation of the country generally was concerned, the various other parts of the country would cease to make that large contribution to the Imperial grant for the Metropolitan Police to which they were now subject. The considerations involved were extremely grave, but he thought that they had really arrived at 616 a point where they could easily see the issue raised by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Right hon. Gentlemen wished to treat this one item of the Probate Duty by itself, and so regarding it they contended that London gained more than the rest of the country. The Government looked at the scheme as a whole, and if they looked at it as a whole, London lost more or gained less than the other parts of the country. In order to see whether their distribution was fair, surely it was much more just to look at the three factors in the case as a whole than to pick out one of them for separate treatment. At all events, he had established this—that there would be no favour shown to the Metropolis. It was surely not perfectly fair or equitable to point to one of the three factors in the problem and say, "See how London is treated preferentially in this case," unless, at the same time, they showed how London lost by the withdrawal of the grants. It was a perfectly fair argument for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) or for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) to say that at present London as compared with the rest of the country was in an entirely preferential position. It was perfectly open for them to say that the present contribution unduly favoured London, and that matters should have been put right in this distribution. The Government had so far put matters right that London was actually less favourably treated on the whole by their arrangements than the rest of the country. Though they were charged with being Metropolitan Members, they thought that, on the whole, it was fair, and that, looking to the position of London, London could not complain if she did not gain as much by the general re-arrangement of local taxation as the rest of the country. Having placed their whole scheme before Parliament, and having in that scheme put London at a disadvantage of 1d. in the pound as compared with the rest of the country, they did not think it fair to accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) by which the unfairness would be almost doubled, the result being, as a right hon. Gentleman had pointed out, that the gain to London would be 2d. in the pound and the gain to the rest of 617 the country generally 4d. in the pound. They did not think that that would be an equitable conclusion; and as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) appealed to the Members for the Metropolis to judge impartially in the matter, so he (Mr. Goschen) ventured himself to appeal to all Members of the House, whether representing London or the country, to consider what was really the equity of the case, and not to be guided simply by the position of their own constituencies. The Government recognized the position taken up by right hon. Gentlemen opposite to this extent. They said that the effect of their proposal would be to take away—they frankly admitted it—upwards of £100,000 from London, and to disperse it throughout the rest of the country. If the House of Commons were to decide to do that, they would then be placing London at a greater disadvantage as compared with the country than it was already according to the proposals of the Government. He trusted right hon. Gentlemen opposite would, at all events, admit that in these observations he had fairly stated the issue between them. He gladly followed the example of hon. Members opposite in not treating this question in any heated manner. He had endeavoured to put forward the justice and equity of the case, denying most strongly that in their proposals, as a whole, they had any desire to, or, as a matter of fact, did, favour the Metropolis.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derby, Ilkeston)
said, he wished to make one or two observations, as he had not had an opportunity of doing so the other night. He quite agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) had said in respect to this matter, that it was an extremely difficult and complex question to say on what principle this money should be allocated. He and his hon. Friends admitted that with perfect frankness; but, at the same time, they did feel that the principle upon which the right hon. Gentleman allocated the money, the indoor relief principle, was one of the worst he could have chosen. He (Sir Walter Foster) supported the Amendment of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), because it lessened the amount of evil which would be inflicted, and would modify 618 the principle upon which the grant was to be allocated. He did not think they could argue this question as one simply of figures. They were obliged to look at the proposal of the Government from the point of view of the effect it would have, not only upon the poorer population of the rural districts, but also upon the efficiency and ability of Poor Law Guardians to discharge their work. It ought not to be lost sight of that in this Bill they had made no effort to reform the Poor Law Guardians. Therefore, they would increase, by the adoption of this principle, the chances of unpopularity for the Poor Law Guardians in every rural disstrict in the country. In reference to the question of the effect of the grant, he believed it would greatly increase the amount of indoor relief, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Ritchie's) figures were not absolutely satisfactory. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the average of outdoor relief was 2½d. per head per day, making an average of about 1s. 6d. per week. But in many of the rural districts the amount of relief given to old people was 2s. 6d. per week. Assuming that 2s. 6d. was paid, in many places there would be, by this proposal of the Government, a distinct gain on the part of the Guardians by diminishing outdoor relief and forcing old people into the workhouse. That would be the most deplorable result they could obtain under this Bill, for the reason that these people, whom they ought to have the tenderest regard for, belonged to a class of society who had practically no means whatever of putting by at any time for their old age savings, like artizans in towns. These people at best only earned a bare living, and in the end they had no refuge to look forward to except the refuge of parish relief. That parish relief coming to them in the beneficent form of outdoor relief was the sweetest and sole solace of their old age. But, if the authorities forced them into the workhouse, they would take away the beneficence and kindliness of the Poor Law system. It was because he believed the proposal of the Government would encourage the indoor system that be felt bound, as representing to a certain extent an agricultural district, to speak in the strongest way against it. In our large towns a similar effect would be produced. He knew that some people spoke of outdoor relief as undesirable, 619 but there were many cases in which the home of the artizan might be absolutely saved by timely outdoor relief. When an artizan, after probably six or seven weeks' illness, found all his savings gone, and he had nothing between him and starvation except parish relief—when he applied to the Poor Law Guardians he would be met by the workhouse test. He was met with it now—he would be met with it still more frequently under this proposal. What was the result? That artizan, who had been a respectable working man all his life, refused the offer of the workhouse, and first a table and then a chair, and after a while every bit of furniture the man had, went either to the broker or the pawnbroker, in order to enable him to get food for himself and his starving family. Then, in the end, when his whole home was stripped, and then only, did he seek the refuge of the workhouse. In this country, during the last few years, there had been some 200 deaths a-year from starvation and exposure. That, in a great measure, showed the horror people had of the workhouse test. The House did not want to increase the number of those terrible deaths from starvation. Timely relief would save the home of many a working man; if it was not saved by some such means, once gone, it was gone for ever. When once a man was obliged to accept indoor relief, when once he was obliged to take his family to the manufactory which made paupers, it was seldom that he and his family recovered their position among their follows. It was because he had seen many cases of that kind that he was anxious that greater tenderness and kindness should be meted out to the poor people both in town and country. It was because he believed the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) would tend rather to increase the harshness than to increase the humanity of the system that he was obliged to vote for the Amendment of of his right hon. Friend (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). That Amendment would lessen the evil; it would lessen the encouragement to grant indoor relief as opposed to outdoor relief; and, at all events, it would do this—it would not place before the country the bare principle that it was upon indoor relief only that this money was to be granted. He had spoken in the 620 North, South, East, and West of England on this question, and he assured hon. Gentlemen that there was no question in which the poor agricultural labourers and the poor people of our towns were more keenly interested; and he said to the right hon. Gentleman that if he passed this proposal in its present form, he would bring about himself a storm of unpopularity which it would be very difficult for him to withstand.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, he could quite understand the feelings expressed by hon. Gentlemen, not on one side alone, but on both sides of the House—feelings of repugnance to assenting to anything which they thought would have the effect of causing the Guardians to drive old people into the workhouse who might otherwise be maintained outside. He was sure hon. Gentlemen would believe the Government also would regret, as much as themselves, if any effect of that kind were to arise from anything they proposed. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) had already said that, in proposing what they had proposed in this Bill in reference to this particular point, they had not been actuated by any desire to improve the administrative machinery. That had not been their guiding motive in what they had proposed. Their sole desire was that a contribution should be made towards the rates of the localities, and they believed that that could be best done by giving that contribution upon the basis of indoor pauperism. With the view of removing, if they could, from the minds of hon. Gentlemen any suspicion, and to remove the possibility of anything they proposed acting in the way feared, he desired to make a suggestion to the Committee. As the Committee was aware, the Government had, by an Amendment they had placed on the Paper, proposed that for the first quinquennial period the basis of the indoor pauperism of last year should be taken. They also proposed that, unless Parliament were otherwise to direct, the amount of the grant at the end of the quinquennial period should be based upon the average indoor pauperism during the five years. Many hon. Gentlemen felt that, although undoubtedly the objections had been greatly lessened by that proposal, yet they had not been altogether removed, and that there 621 would be still a desire on the part of the Guardians, even although five years would elapse before they would receive any benefit, to obtain that benefit by forcing people into the workhouse who might not otherwise be forced there. Now, if the Committee thought it was desirable to remove the smallest inducement to such a course, the Government would be prepared to assent to their Amendment being amended, so that the indoor pauperism of last year should be taken without any express directions as to any quinquennial revision, leaving simply the provision that the basis, being last year's pauperism, should be maintained for the distribution of the grant until Parliament otherwise directed. It was perfectly clear that then there would be no inducement to act in the way which some hon. Members feared the Guardians would act if there was to be a quinquennial revision; and he hoped that, after that expression on the part of the Government of their willingness to amend their Amendment so as to meet the express difficulty raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House, the Committee would be prepared to accept the basis which the Government, on the whole, thought was the best basis for this distribution. By his present proposal the inducement to Guardians to force people into the workhouse would be altogether removed. Just one word as to one or two of the statistics which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) quoted in his most interesting speech. The right hon. Gentleman drew a contrast between the position of Essex and Sussex under the Bill, [Mr. HENRY H. FOWLER: Sussex and Lincoln.] He thought the comparison was made between Essex and Sussex, and in regard to those counties he had the figures at hand. The gain to Essex under the proposal of the Government would be £38,000; whereas under the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) it would be £36,000; the gain to Sussex under the proposal of the Government would be £48,000, and under the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman £51,000. He trusted that the concession of the Government would remove all objections, and that under such circumstances the Committee would agree to the proposal they had made.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he quite admitted the concession the right hon. Gentleman had just announced would do something towards mitigating the danger which was apprehended; still it remained that the proposal of the Government was based, not as the right hon. Gentleman said, upon poverty, but upon the severe application of the indoor test in the past. He desired to say a few words in respect to the experience of Scotland. He knew that in England, in consequence of abuses which prevailed before the existing Poor Law, and on account of the doctrines put forward by certain Gentlemen, it had become a sort of article of faith that outdoor relief should be discouraged as far as possible. In Scotland they had a large experience, but they were entirely free from that belief; in Scotland there was no belief whatever that outdoor relief was bad and that indoor relief was good. Their belief was that by outdoor relief they were able to administer relief to the indigent in a much less expensive and in a much more kindly way, and in a way which was much more popular and more pleasing to the country. It would be a great misfortune, in his opinion, if there should be forced on them in Scotland anything like the English system; and therefore he regretted the Government had, in the main and substantially, adhered to the proposal to make indoor relief the test upon which the Probate Duty grant was to be distributed. He did not believe that the Government would succeed in forcing this upon the country. They might succeed in getting small majorities in the House, but he did not believe that they would succeed in the end in forcing it upon the country. He believed it was a most unpopular proposal, and that it was a most suicidal policy on the part of the Government to persevere with it. They would be much better advised if they yielded not only partially, but wholly in regard to this matter.
§ MR. A. W. HALL (Oxford)
desired, in a very few sentences, to thank the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) very heartily for having gone so far as he had in meeting the wishes which had been expressed on all sides of the House. They felt now that, although any test connected with the indoor poor was not what they desired, because it would, to some ex- 623 tent, act as a reward to those who had in the past adopted a very harsh policy, still, inasmuch as the temptation would now be entirely removed from them to continue that severe policy in the future, they might accept, and accept with very much gratitude, the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie).
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
said, he also thanked the right hon. Gentleman for having met their wishes as far as he had. He wished, however, the right hon. Gentleman would go a step further, and say that the past year's expenditure on pauperism in a district, adding the indoor and the outdoor relief together, should be the test. The administration of Boards of Guardians, even in the same county, varied very much. One Board of Guardians thought it right to rigidly enforce the workhouse test and to grant little outdoor relief; while a neighbouring Board of Guardians, adopting, as he thought, a more sympathetic system, kept old people in their homes by granting them outdoor relief. He put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether he would not meet the feeling expressed very strongly on both sides of the House by making the distribution of the Probate Grant dependent upon the expenditure in poor relief of both kinds? That would give Guardians no inducement whatever to alter the system which they found suited best their own localities.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
said, he hoped the Government would stand to the proposal they had now made. He had intended, a short time ago, to have got up and expressed his dissent from the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre), because he could not see that they would be doing anything advantageous to themselves or to those who sent them there if they accepted that proposal. There was no one, not even the right hon. Gentleman himself, certainly none of the right hon. Gentlemen sitting upon the Front Bench opposite, who could tell them now what the effect of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment would be—how it would affect the towns situated in thinly-populated counties. Let him take the case of a town in his own county, the town of Brighton, which was to be made a county in itself for the purposes of the Bill. How would the 624 poor and sparse population situated outside that town fare as compared with the town of Brighton? How were large towns to fare who had an enormous number of poor persons, but whose rateable value was nothing like that of other towns, and yet were to be put in the same category? There would be three classes of districts, the rich towns with a high-class population; the poorer towns with an enormous number of poor people, but a low rateable value; and the poor and sparsely-populated rural districts. They did not know what amount of money these localities would receive; it would be most unwise to jump at a conclusion hastily; therefore, he hoped that whatever hon. Members on that side of the House might think about the proposal that had been made they would vote in support of the Government, who had gone as far as they could be reasonably expected to go. In conclusion, he had only to say that he had had as much to do with the relief of poor persons as most Members in the House, and he denied emphatically that the wish of the Guardians would be to send poor old people that had done their work and brought up a family well, and who had been receiving outdoor relief, into the workhouse, as he believed such a system would be as abhorrent to those who administered the relief as to those who received it.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, he thought the course that the debate had taken showed what a great mistake it was to wind up the discussion the other night. They were now really debating, in a somewhat informal manner, the very result and question they had before them and were supposed to have settled on Tuesday evening. By the alterations the Government had made they had really departed from the position they took up three nights ago. He had studied this subject for many years, and he really thought that the clauses relating to the administration of relief were of such importance that they might almost form a Bill in themselves; it was certainly a mistaken notion to hurry them through Committee. He candidly admitted that he was not at all pleased with the alteration the Government had made. He thought the principle as originally given in the Bill on which the money was going to be allocated was a sound and wise one; and if 625 it might put pressure at all it would put put pressure in the right direction, pressure not so much in the interests of the ratepayers, as really and truly in the interest and the well-being of the great mass of the poor. The Rules of the House would prevent him from going into the various questions connected with Poor Law relief, and from considering the way in which outdoor relief had been worked in many districts. The debate had turned, to a great extent, upon London, and reference had been made to the immigration of paupers into London. The immigration from abroad had been very much exaggerated; it was altogether a mistake to say that this immigration was very large. It was large in certain districts of London; but, taking London and England as a whole, it was not large. What was large was the immigration into London from the country, and this was an element to be considered in the allocation of this money. There was another question to be considered, and that was that the rating of London was extremely high. There was no doubt whatever that the rating of a house of the same value and same quality was higher in London than it was in many Provincial towns. In comparing the amount in the£ for local rates in the case of London and the rest of the country they must take this into consideration. Also in many Provincial towns the water and gas rating and the repayment of loans on these undertakings to a certain extent was included in the rate, and that complicated the problem, which otherwise was not easy to solve with complete accuracy. He protested against the idea that Metropolitan Members were advocating this measure with a view to favour London; all they wanted was strict equity and fairness in this matter. They wanted to have this fund distributed on a basis which would have a tendency to improve the administration of the Poor Law, render it more easy, and give greater facilities for men to raise themselves by thrift and energy.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
said, so far as he understood the concession of the right hon. Gentleman, it amounted to this—that it made the basis of the outdoor pauperism of last year perpetual, and did not make it dependent upon any quinquennial change; but he presumed it only made it per- 626 petual as between the Exchequer and the various counties. What he (Mr. Ellis) desired to ask the President of the Local Government Board was, were the counties, in allocating it to the different Unions, to allocate it on the basis of last year's indoor pauperism, or to vary it from year to year?
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, that, of course, whatever rule was adopted in one case would be adopted in the other.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS
said, he was glad that concession had been made. The only other question he wanted to put to the right hon. Gentleman was, whether he would not reconsider the question from the point of view which had first been put forward by his hon. Friend the Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire (Mr. Winterbotham)? It had been repeatedly pointed out how great was the poverty of London, and how people rushed from various parts of the Continent and of the country to London, and much had been made of the stress and the strain upon the resources of London. In looking over the Reports of the Poor Law relief, it was interesting to find that, although in London there was one poor man to every 53 of the population, in the country generally there was one poor man to every 43 of the population. In the South-Eastern District of England, in Cornwall and in Devon, there was one poor man to every 27 of the population; and the same was the case in Wales. In the Eastern District there was one poor man to 30 people, so that the stress and poverty in London was below the average of poverty in other parts of the country, and certainly it was much below that in the South-West of England and Wales. In view of that, he maintained that the allocation was doubly and trebly unfair, because of the way in which it was made. The objection was still greater if the allocation was to be perpetual. It amounted to this—that London got very nearly one-third of the whole Probate Duty grant on the basis of indoor pauperism; while its population was only one-fifth of the whole country. If they compared the case of London with that of Wales, they found that, while London had a population two and a half times that of Wales, its grant from Probate Duty would be ten times as much as the Welsh grant, so that the inequality which the right hon. 627 Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) pointed out between the various counties and London was doubly aggravated in the case of Wales. The only other remark he desired to make was that the hon. Gentleman the Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) admitted, fairly and candidly, that there was a gross inequality, because of the Poor Law taxation in various parts of London, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton admitted that the cost of the police in London was greater than it ought to be and than it would be were the police managed by a representative authority. What it came to, therefore, was simply this—that the poor peasants of Dorsetshire and of Wales were to be driven into the workhouse, or were to have very little of the grant, in order that the hon. Gentleman the Member for West St. Pancras and the Chancellor of the Exchequer might be, in their own words, shamefully undertaxed. That, he thought, was reducing the proposal of the Government to such an absurdity that he hoped they would even now reconsider it, and make something like a fair adjustment between London and the various parts of the country, and not press the grant to London, first upon the inequality of the rich and the poor districts, and, secondly, upon the great extravagance of the Metropolitan Police.
§ MR. HANDEL COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
said, he had one or two very strong objections to the Government proposal. The first was that he feared it would give permanency to pauperism. His belief was that outdoor relief was of a more temporary character than indoor relief. He thought the House was hardly aware of the way in which a man's intense desire to live outside the workhouse operated on the poor. Anything that broke down that feeling would work evil for this country. and it was because he believed that the proposal of the Government would work in that way that he asked them to reconsider their position. He had always found in the working of the Poor Law system that the people spent their own money much more economically than they spent money which they got from the State, and he believed that proposal would lead to extravagance of that kind, and therefore he opposed it most strongly. There was another evil 628 he felt very much—that it would lessen the tendency to thrift. If they broke up poor people's homes they destroyed the great motive they had for keeping themselves off the rates. So long as a man had a home, no matter how small or humble it might be, he desired to keep out of the workhouse. Deprive him of that feeling and they took away his object for keeping out of the workhouse. If they broke up this man's home they broke down the strongest barrier to a man's pauperism. He therefore desired the Government to amend their proposal, with the view of hindering so many persons coming on the rates.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, that, as he had got an Amendment on the Paper for the rejection of the clause, he wished to say that, after what the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) had just said, his objections to the clause were entirely removed. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the changes he had made in the clause, and he thought that the hon. Gentleman who preceded him (Mr. Handel Cossham) had rather darkened counsel in the matter. He thought his hon. Friend had really missed the point. He took it that this clause had really now nothing whatever to do with indoor relief; it merely took indoor relief as it existed now as a basis for allocating to each county its share of the Probate Duty grant. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie) might now translate the clause into a Schedule, giving a certain definite proportion of the proposed grant to each county without so much as mentioning the Poor Law at all. He was glad the right hon. Gentleman had made the change. Now, what he wanted to point out was this—that he regretted the Government introduced the clause in the present form, and that they had spent a whole day, or nearly a whole day, in discussing the propriety of making the grant dependent in its variations upon the variation of indoor relief, a point which he understood they had now entirely abandoned. It had been said that the proposal of the Government was advantageous to London. He was not prepared to accept the advantageous arrangements for London, if it were in pursuance of a principle which he believed to be bad, and which would pro- 629 bably have an injurious effect upon the country at large. As a London Member, he wholly dissented from the statement which had been made as to the extremely advantageous character of this Bill for London. He agreed with what the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) had said—namely, that it was not fair to take alone the question of this particular arrangement. They must look at the Bill as a whole, and at its financial effect upon London. He ventured to say that the Bill, as a whole, was not particularly advantageous to London; but he thought that, on the whole, it dealt fairly between the Metropolis and the country in this matter. He asked leave to withdraw his Amendment for the rejection of the clause, and to thank the right hon. Gentleman for the change he had promised to make.
§ MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)
said, he wished to point out that, unless there was some modification of Clause 59, the inducement to Guardians would still be in existence when the grant came to be distributed through the County Council to the Unions.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was prepared to admit that the concession of the right hon. Gentleman was a very important one, and entirely removed the objection to the clause from the point of view that it would give an inducement to the Guardians to drive poor people into the workhouse. But the financial inequalities remained as before. If the right hon. Gentleman would accept the proposal of the hon. Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire, and include outdoor as well as indoor pauperism, there would be a probability of coming to a conclusion at once; but he understood he was not prepared to do that, and, that being so, the inequalities he had referred to would be made worse. He could not agree to the principle laid down for the division of the money, and as the Government were not disposed to make any other proposal he must take a Division on his Amendment.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
said, they ought to have the proposal of the Government stated in black and white. As he understood it, he ventured to say that it was not one which the House ought to accept, and, moreover, it did not in any way touch the Amendment 630 of his right hon. Friend on which they were about to divide. If the Committee decided that pauperism alone should be the basis, then the question of the principle of his hon. Friend the Member for the Cirencester Division of Gloucestershire would come in—namely, that the distribution should be on the basis of both indoor and outdoor pauperism. He still insisted that an enormous injustice would be done to Wales. The Principality spent £58,000 on indoor maintenance and £280,000 on outdoor maintenance, and the former amount would be all that it would receive on the Government lines. He thought they were not then in a position to come to a conclusion on the question, and that further time should be given.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 183; Noes 260: Majority 77.—(Div. List, No. 197.)
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—(Mr. Ritchie,) put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.