HC Deb 09 May 1894 vol 24 cc716-8

Order for Second Reading read.

* MR. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)

, in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said, he did not think it necessary for him to occupy the time of the House very long, as this was the same Bill which he brought in last Session, and which met with approval on both sides of the House. At that time the Bill was one which was of local importance only, and which was generally supported in the County of Somerset, a portion of which he had the honour to represent; but he thought that this Session he might claim that it was of national importance, as the Friendly Societies throughout the country were unanimously in favour of it. The Bill was a short one, containing practically only one clause, and it would, perhaps, save time if he proceeded to read the Operative Clause of the Bill, which was as follows:— Notwithstanding any Orders or Regulations of the Poor Law Commissioners or the Local Government Board under and by virtue of the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834, or of any Act amending the said Act, it shall be lawful for any Board of Guardians to grant relief out of the poor rates to any person otherwise entitled to such relief, notwithstanding that the said person shall, by reason of his membership of a Friendly Society be in receipt of any sum, and that in estimating the amount of the relief that shall be granted to such person, being a member of a Friendly Society as aforesaid, the Board of Guardians need not take into consideration the amount which may be received by him from such Friendly Society. What did that clause do? It only gave power to Boards of Guardians to do legally what, they wore constantly in the habit of doing now illegally. In the case of sickness the amount given by some Friendly Societies to a member was very small, only amounting to some 4s. or 5s. a week, which made it necessary for a man to go to the Board of Guardians in order to get it supplemented, and what he asked the House to do was to make it legal for the Hoards to give outdoor relief in addition to and without taking into consideration the whole amount a man received from his Society. He had been told that there was some doubt upon this matter, that the Local Government Board had not settled the question, and that Guardians might give relief in these cases without taking into account the amount received from a Friendly Society. That was not the case, however, for the Local Government Board in a letter to the hon. Member for the Wells Division of Somerset distinctly laid it down that the Guardians must take into account any contributions the applicant was receiving from a Friendly Society and then add no more to that amount than they held to be necessary to deal with the destitution of a person similarly circumstanced who was not a member of a Friendly Society. Again, in the 10th edition of Glen's Poor Law Orders, it was laid down that whatever the Guardians might do in giving relief beyond the actual necessities of the case they would by so doing have acted illegally, and would be liable to be surcharged. This Bill last year received a good deal of support from various parts of the House, but, it, was only locally supported outside, principally, as he had already intimated, in the County of Somerset. This year, however, not only had it, got, that local support, but they might clam for it national support, and in addition to being backed by Somerset Members it also had upon it the names of an hon. Member from Wiltshire and of London, the Metropolitan Members being the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) and the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Howell). He had had a letter sent him from Mr. Cleveland, the Secretary to the National Independent Order of Oddfellows, giving the Bill the most hearty support. This letter was dated April 5, 1894, and was as follows:— Dear Sir,—I beg to hand you a copy of the resolution passed at the Conference of Friendly Societies held in London on the 21st ultimo, at which were represented 2,509,876 adult members possessing capital amounting to £18,145,826.

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