HC Deb 29 June 1909 vol 7 cc224-5
Mr. CLYNES (for Mr William Thorne)

asked the President of the Local Government Board if he is aware that in January, 1908, the Local Government Board discovered that for 29 years the guardians of the Ecclesall Bierlow Union had carried on a regular system of offering to every able-bodied man that applied for relief not the workhouse, but paid employment at piecework rates; that no food was supplied to the men; and that they went out like workmen at midday to get their own meals, and at 5 p.m. they were paid their earnings for the day, and that these earnings were not entered as relief but as wages to journeymen woodcutters, the men not being entered as paupers or subject to disfranchisement; and whether, seeing that this system of setting the poor to work was witnessed by the inspectors at every visit and went on from 1879 to 1908 without official objection, but was, in the latter year, stopped by the Local Government Board, he will state the reason why the Local Government Board put an end to the system?


The attention of the Local Government Board was called to this matter in 1907, and they pointed out to the guardians that it was not their duty to find work for men out of employment, but to relieve destitution, and in connection with such relief to set the men to work as a test. They added that the relief should not be regarded as payment for work done, but be granted according to the necessities of each particular case, and for short periods, and that the circumstances of the applicants should be carefully inquired into by the relieving officer from time to time. The guardians admitted that the regulations in force in the Union had not been strictly observed, but represented that the system adopted by them had been in force for many years. The Board, however, felt bound to adhere to the view they had expressed on the subject, and the system was altered by the guardians.