HC Deb 17 November 1908 vol 196 cc1023-4

To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he is aware that about 200 unemployed men were given orders for the workhouse by the Whitechapel Guardians on or about 5th November, after applying to the board for work or relief; that the chairman of the board said that the guardians were powerless to give outdoor relief; and that the master of the workhouse told the guardians that the house was full, but he would do his best for the men with blankets, and accommodate them on the floor of the receiving room; whether, if the workhouse was full, the men were entitled to outdoor relief (having regard to the judgments of the Court of Appeal in the Merthyr Tydfil case) if they were ready and willing to perform any task of work which the guardians might impose in accordance with the Outdoor Relief Regulation Order, 1852; and whether, even if the workhouse were not full, the guardians could, instead of offering the workhouse, have given them employment and relief under that order.

(Answered by Mr. John Burns.) I have made inquiry and am informed that the guardians know nothing of the exceptional circumstances mentioned in the Question. During the week ended 7th November, the relieving officer gave 55 orders for the workhouse to destitute persons who were without permanent residence in the union, but not a single order was given or applied for in the case of anyone with a home in the union. In about half a dozen instances genuine unemployed residents sought the advice of the relieving officers, and these have been found work, either through the borough suveyor or through the agencies in the district. The workhouse is certified for 818 inmates and the highest number in it throughout the week ended 7th November was 642, so that there was no occasion for any such observations as those attributed to the master.