HC Deb 21 July 1913 vol 55 cc1702-3

asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he has seen a statement made at the Leeds Board of Guardians last Wednesday that the workhouse was half empty, the number of inmates being 690 as compared with 1,240 in February, 1910; whether other workhouses in the country are also half empty; whether the decline of pauperism is attributable to recent social legislation; and what, in this state of things, he proposes to do to relieve the ratepayers of the upkeep of the empty buildings?


I have seen the statement referred to. The workhouse contains 1,072 beds, and the comparison, even if accurate, which my information does not confirm, is evidently between a time of abnormal pressure and one when, owing to the season of the year, and the bulk of trade and employment, pauperism is at a very low ebb. Recent social legislation has, no doubt, had its effect upon the Poor Law problem, and I am naturally anxious to see that no undue multiplication of Poor Law buildings takes place. The first thing that I look for as a result of a reduction in the numbers of inmates of these institutions is further improvement in classification, and this is obviously facilitated when there is a margin of accommodation available.