HC Deb 01 April 1895 vol 32 cc566-7
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that the wife of the Clerk to the Guardians of St. Asaph Union procured signatures from the paupers to a petition against the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, in the presence of the master of the workhouse, and without the knowledge of the Guardians; and whether he will take steps to prevent paupers, whom the Legislature has disfranchised for the reason that they cannot be expected to exercise the franchise as free and independent electors, from having pressure put upon them to sign Petitions to this House?


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was aware that in several places in Wales the local authorities had sent round the town-crier to prevent people from signing petitions against the Bill, and whether he would take steps to prevent this


I have made inquiry on this subject, and I find that the wife of the clerk to the Guardians of St. Asaph Union did obtain the signatures of some of the inmates of the workhouse to a petition against the Bill for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales. I am, however, informed, that only those who expressed a wish to sign were allowed to do so, and that not the slightest pressure was put upon any one. I cannot but think that the action of this lady was ill-advised, but I am unable to say that the paupers in a workhouse have not the right to petition this House if they desire to do so. With regard to the question of the hon. Gentleman opposite, I have no information on the subject.

MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)

Arising out of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask whether he is aware that, since the guardians of the workhouse have abolished the paid chaplain and invited the clergy and ministers of the various denominations to perform services without payment the services of the Church of England have never been omitted, but on 22 Sundays the Dissenters have neglected to provide any service?


Order, order. That question does not arise out of the right hon. Gentleman's answer.