HL Deb 23 August 1831 vol 6 cc450-1

Lord Teynham moved the second reading of the Overseers of the Poor Bill. It was positively necessary that some alteration should be made in these laws. There had been many attempts to improve the Poor-laws established by the Act of Elizabeth, many of which were cruel, others were absurd, and all were ineffective, and had totally failed. He therefore considered some further measures necessary, and he proposed, after the Bill was read a second time, to refer it to a Committee.

The Duke of Richmond

objected to the Bill for several reasons. He objected to the clause by which one Overseer was to be appointed for six months, and the other for the succeeding part of the year, and by which the one was to be bound to give friendly advice to the other. With regard to the accounts of Overseers, there was a Bill in progress in the other House, which effectually met the object which the noble Lord had in view; therefore, the clause was unnecessary in this Bill. He observed that the Bill provided, that all disputes between parishes respecting settle- ments, were to be decided by arbitration, and that lawyers and attornies were excluded from acting as arbitrators. He objected to this, as he thought it was unwise to exclude the only persons who could be supposed to be acquainted with all the legal difficulties attending a question of settlement. He also objected to the clause interdicting relief to the poor being given in flour or bread, because he thought, that when meal or bread was given, there was a probability that the pauper's family would receive the benefit of them, whereas, if money alone were paid, it was possible that the pauper would spend it at the alehouse, instead of bringing it home to his wife and children. He further could not consent to the clause by which all persons who received parish relief were interdicted from the power of creating a debt, as he thought it would be most unfair to deprive a man, because he was poor, of his character as a member of society. The same fault might also be found with the clause of exemption, wherein he observed officers, of the Army and Navy were not exempted from serving as Overseers, though other professional persons were. This he conceived to be very hard, and he did not know how the noble Lord would like to see any military friend of his compelled to act as an Overseer of the poor. Altogether, the Bill was hastily drawn up, and he recommended the noble Lord to withdraw it for further consideration.

Lord Teynham

said, his only object was, to accomplish a certain good; but, as the House did not appear to approve of the Bill, he would withdraw it.