HL Deb 08 May 1851 vol 116 cc677-9

The EARL of CARLISLE moved the Third Reading of this Bill, and briefly pointed out the alterations which had been made in the original form of the measure. In its altered shape, the number of inspections made as to the comfort and condition of young persons hired from the workhouses, would be made twice a year instead of four times; and it was now proposed that the certificates authorising prosecutions for negligence should be signed by two justices.


thought the 4th clause an inquisitorial interference between master and servant, and considered it highly objectionable to base their legislation upon a single case of monstrous and extreme cruelty. The means already existed for making anybody's grievances known to the public; and the system of inspection proposed by this Bill would almost entirely prevent persons from hiring any more servants from the workhouses of the country.


concurred in the objections of the noble Lord who had just spoken. If extreme cases of cruelty, like that of the Sloanes, were likely to be frequent, he thought they might legislate on the subject, but he disliked special legislation based upon an isolated case.


replied. If the Bill would prevent the hiring of young persons in the workhouses at all, it would only be that class of persons who were likely to ill-treat them who would object to the inspector's visits. This Bill was not proposed to meet the case of the Sloanes alone, but there were other cases evincing an habitual cruelty towards unprotected young persons; such as the case of the Birds, in Devonshire, where the parties not only had illtreated the unfortunate girl Jane Parsons, but their cruelty was such that the poor creature died while in their hands. It was said these were extreme cases. For the sake of the victims, he hoped they were; but there were many cases of negligent and cruel treatment, the details of which never reached the public eye. The neighbours of the Birds allowed Jane Parsons to continue in her emaciated and declining condition, and people were apt to say it was no business of theirs; and unless they had a periodical and systematic inspection of unprotected and friendless young persons, they could never hope to prevent the recurrence of practices at which the heart of the country had so naturally revolted. In some instances the system of inspection had been voluntarily adopted by the boards of guardians, and the Poor Law Board had received representations from all parts of the country, strongly urging the adoption of a compulsory system of that kind; whilst there had been no objections to any of the details of the Bill raised by any board of guardians, or in any part of the country. He therefore trusted that their Lordships would agree to the measure, which had passed through the other House without opposition.

Bill read 3a.

Amendments made.


objected to the 4th clause as dangerous and inexpedient, and could not remain silent whilst it was proposed to be passed into law. At present there were 14,000 children with no parents, or at most with one parent, in the union workhouses, and there they must continue, without ever learning how to earn a livelihood, if this system of inspection was insisted upon. It would be a virtual prohibition of pauper apprenticeship in the small towns of the country. He therefore moved that the 4th clause be rejected.


defended the clause.


supported the clause, pointing to an instance where a systematic periodical inspection had been practically carried out, and yet there was no difficulty in getting rid of the pauper children.

Amendment negatived; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.