HL Deb 04 August 1862 vol 168 cc1159-74

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee upon the Union Relief Aid Bill, and for Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38 to be considered in order to their being dispensed with, read.


(who was very imperfectly heard) moved, that the House resolve into Committee on this Bill. The noble Earl, in the first place, referred to the statistics of the condition of the distressed districts in respect of the increase of pauperism, and to the reports of the Government officers who had been sent down with the view of inspecting the actual state of those districts, in order to show the immediate necessity of some measure to enable them to meet the emergency. The noble Earl then stated the provisions of the measure introduced by the Government for effecting that object. The Bill, he said, contained two powers—the one, on the principle of the statute of the 43rd Elizabeth, extended the area of contributions for the relief of the poor, by enabling the guardians of any union within the distressed districts, where the expenditure of any parish of the union for the relief of the poor for the quarter ending at Michaelmas or Christmas next shall be found to have exceeded the rate of 3s. in the pound per annum on the rateable value of the property within such parish, to charge the excess on the other parishes of the union proportionately; and if the whole of the parishes of the union should unhappily be reduced to the same condition, then to charge the excess to the common fund of the union. In like manner, the fourth clause provided that wherever the aggregate expenditure of any union should at Michaelmas or Christmas be found to have exceeded the rate of 5s. in the pound per annum on the rateable property within the union, the guardians of the distressed union may apply to the Poor Law Board, who may thereon make a general order upon the other unions within the county to pay out of the common fund of each a proportionate sum to meet the excess in the distressed union. At the request of Members who represented the distressed districts, an alternative power had been introduced into the Bill, by which any union was authorized, if its expenditure at Michaelmas or Christmas should be found to exceed the rate of 3s. in the pound per annum, with the sanction of the Poor Law Board, to borrow a sum of money to be applied to the relief of the poor, sufficient to meet such excess. The money so borrowed was to be charged upon the common fund of the union, and was to be repaid, with the interest, in seven annual instalments, at the longest. The measure was intended to meet a case of extraordinary and exceptional distress, and one which, it was to be trusted, would be only of temporary duration; and the Bill, therefore, was confined to the suffering districts—namely, to the parishes and unions within the counties of Lancaster, Chester, and Derby, and its duration in point of time was limited to the 1st of March next.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee.


said, this, he need scarcely remark, was no party question; it was entirely a national matter, and must be treated as such. It appeared, indeed, that the House of Commons had taken that view of the matter; for in the divisions which had taken place on this measure, and particularly in that in which Her Majesty's Ministers were defeated, there were to be found Gentlemen of very different political opinions voting together on various views. The noble Earl who had just sat down, had, he (the Earl of Malmesbury) thought, fallen very short in his efforts to show their Lordships that there was any great necessity for this measure. He was glad the noble Earl had failed in so doing, because, at all events, it conveyed a satisfactory feeling that the distress was by no means so awful in its character as was described in the public prints, and as it was apprehended to be by the public generally. But the noble Earl had omitted to explain one thing. Be the distress great or small, it was notorious that it had been anticipated as a certain evil for more than a year. Indeed, from the first moment of the breaking out of the American war, the cotton trade became more or less affected, and everybody knew that that distress amongst the manufacturing districts which had now taken place must necessarily occur. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government had allowed nearly the whole of this long, and he must say, idle Session to pass by without bringing forward a measure of this kind—they waited until the last week of the Session to make these propositions. He thought that the noble Earl should have told the House the reason of this delay—why a measure of this gravity and magnitude should have been delayed until the eleventh hour of the Session of Parliament. Had the Government expected to see the affairs of America settled before this? or did they hope to see such supplies of cotton from other portions of the globe as would have compensated the manufacturing interest for the loss of the American produce? And what was the result of this delay? It had been rendered impossible for the persons best acquainted with the distressed districts to give the Government their advice. He felt convinced, that if the measure had been introduced by the Government in the early part of the Session, it would have passed the other House without the diversity of opinion that had existed, and that the Government would have been able to carry through the Bill without that extraordinary provision which made it so objectionable. As the Bill now stood, he thought it would form one of the worst precedents he ever remembered seeing passed by Parliament. From the importance of the subject, and the anxiety which it occasioned, one might certainly expect that the noble Earl would have favoured them with some figures as to what the rates at present actually were, and what it might be reasonably anticipated they would reach in the distressed parishes. Persons unacquainted with the suffering districts might imagine that Government, by such a measure as the present, were providing for a case in which the rates approximated to something like 10s. in the pound. Such a state of things might have been offered by them for having violated to such an extent the principle of the law of Elizabeth, and every principle of experience and political economy. But the noble Earl said nothing of the kind. The arguments used by the noble Earl in support of this Bill appeared to him (the Earl of Malmesbury) to go the other way. The noble Earl stated that the rates in these manufacturing districts had been only 7d. in the pound for many years. Now, although the existing distress in those districts was, no doubt, very great, he (the Earl of Malmesbury) held, that such a reduced rate was evidence of former prosperity, and therefore afforded a good reason why the Government should have said that the present distress might be relieved out of the former abundance, and without calling on the Legislature for ex- traordinary measures—especially for such as were of dangerous precedent. There was, as it seemed to him, no justification for such powers as this Bill would give. The noble Earl mentioned 2s. in the pound as the maximum probable amount of rate to be apprehended, and as representing the existing distress. On seeing the nature of the measure proposed by Her Majesty's Government, he wrote down to his own parish—a very large one in Hampshire and in Wiltshire—asking what had been the highest rate known within the last ten years; and he was told that the rate had been 4s., and that it was at present 2s. 6d. In that parish they had been living with a rate of at least 2s. 6d. in the pound ever since he was born; and yet he had flattered himself that he was living in one of the best cultivated and most prosperous parts of rural England. It was perfectly monstrous, then, that those districts which had been proverbially so prosperous as to be held up to the whole world as hives of wealth, should at the very first reverse of fortune come and ask Parliament to reverse the laws and principles which had been respected for 260 years—since the time of Elizabeth—for the sake of relieving them from the cruelty of having to pay 2s. in the pound only. This Bill came before them in a very peculiar form, and had been supported in a very peculiar way. He had read the arguments in another place, and he found that the class of politicians by whom this system of borrowing was recommended was the very class that had been opposed to all loans for the purpose of the defence of the country. Now, the question of borrowing money was one that affected posterity, and the borrowing of money by a parish for the erection of a new chapel or such a work was therefore justifiable, because the benefit was for posperity as well as for themselves. But this distress in Lancashire was only a temporary pressure—the misfortune of a day, affecting only the present generation—and to borrow money upon the rates of a parish and charge posterity with the relief of that distress was a principle so utterly at variance with anything they had heard before that he believed the proposition never would have been entertained if the House of Commons had had sufficient time for its consideration. It was now proposed that parishes within the cotton districts should have the power of borrowing when their rates amounted to 3s. in the pound. It would be seen from the returns of poundage in the different parishes that there were several parishes in England where the rates were now as high as 10s. in the pound for the relief of the poor; and there were one or two parishes who paid as high as 13s. in the pound. The average poor rate throughout England was 2s. in the pound; and this was taken as the maximum which the rich parishes of Lancashire and Cheshire could bear. If the principle of this Bill were a good one, nearly the whole of the parishes in England would be justified in asking for similar relief as that now proposed to be given to the distressed districts. The parishes of the manufacturing districts were to be permitted to borrow when their rates reached 3s. in the pound, and to cry out for the help of other parishes when they amounted to 5s. The 3s. rate was therefore a premium upon borrowing; and when the rate was near 3s. care would be taken that it should reach that figure, in order that the parish might become entitled to borrow. He regarded this as one of the unwisest measures that he had ever seen. In speaking upon this subject he could not but recollect the courage and dignity with which the poor operatives of the manufacturing districts had borne an infliction which had come upon them from no fault of their own. But while the operatives had shown so much courage and dignity under the pressure of severe misfortune, he considered that it was the duty of the ratepayers of those rich and great counties to exhibit something like the same spirit. Was it worthy of these ratepayers to come to Parliament to ask for assistance which ought to be extended to the whole population if justice were done to all Her Majesty's subjects? The noble Earl had stated that the principles of the law of Elizabeth justified and gave powers for rates in aid. That was no doubt quite true; and it was also true, as the noble Earl had said, that the machinery of that Act was not consistent with the habits and customs now ruling in England; but he (the Earl of Malmesbury) could not help calling attention to a point upon which he anticipated that many of their Lordships would differ with him. He thought it would have been better in this case if the law of Elizabeth had been strictly adhered to in the intention and in the letter. There was only one class of property which was at present assessable to the poor rates—namely, real pro- perty. But the wise councillors of Elizabeth had it in contemplation, when this Act passed, that all property should be assessable; and so convinced had Parliament been that that was the case, that they dared not repeal the liability. Session after Session a special Act was introduced exempting personal property from being taxed for the relief of the poor. He supposed that that Bill had already passed their Lordships' House this Session, and it was a curious circumstance that at the very moment that the richest districts in England, and those possessing the largest amount of personal property were coming to Parliament and asking for relief, Parliament should be passing an Act which exempted that very personal property from being assessed to the contribution for the relief of the poor to which it was liable under the Act of Elizabeth, and which would be sufficient to meet the distress. In the Committee which sat in 1850 he stated his views on the subject, and although those views were not adopted, the Committee did him the honour of reporting them to the House. Those views were that all property should be assessed in accordance with the Act of Elizabeth. If such a system were established, then the rates throughout England would not have amounted to more than 5½d. in the pound on an average in the year 1850. It was pointed out at that time that real property enjoyed exemptions from burdens to which personal property was subject. The succession duty on real estate had, however, since been imposed, and there was no longer the same force in this objection. He did not wish, however, to offer any opposition to the present measure. He need scarcely remind their Lordships that they could not attempt to alter the Bill without interfering with the privileges of the House of Commons. He felt, nevertheless, that it was their duty to protest against it as one of the unwisest measures that probably had ever been brought forward. Even according to the noble Earl's arguments the worst that could happen by following the principle of the law of Elizabeth would be that parishes in some of the richest counties of England would be obliged to pay until March the enormous sum of 3s. in the pound for the relief and maintenance of the poor.


said, he entirely concurred with the noble Earl who had just sat down, that this was a measure which ought not to be drawn into a precedent, and the Government brought the Bill forward expressly as an exceptional measure, to meet an exceptional and altogether extraordinary necessity. But he could not agree with the noble Earl that it was one of the most unwise measures that had ever been brought before Parliament. The noble Earl had brought two charges against the Government with reference to this Bill which, as it appeared to him, were so singularly inconsistent, that one or the other must fail. The noble Earl said, that after listening to the speech of his noble Friend who moved the Committee, he had been able to discover no case whatever in favour of the Bill; and at the same time he charged the Government with acting improperly in not bringing it forward at the earliest period of the Session, when it might have been fully discussed. With regard to the first of these objections it was true, as his noble Friend had pointed out, that the poor rates had not risen in most of these towns to a very exorbitant extent, and that they were not at the present moment so high as in many of the rural districts of the country. But his noble Friend had never based the necessity for this Bill upon the amount of the rates. Why were the rates not higher than they were at the present moment? It was not on account of the absence of distress. The noble Earl had complimented the working classes of Lancashire and Cheshire on their patience and courage, but had omitted to pay one compliment to them which they equally deserved, and which would have explained why the rates were not higher. There was a noble spirit of independence that prevented the operatives from coming upon the rates as long as they could possibly avoid it. Up to this moment those people had been living upon the savings of former years; they had been drawing out the last sixpence from the savings bank; they had been selling their furniture—they had been reducing themselves, in fact, to the lowest condition, that they might avoid receiving parochial relief; and, no doubt, in many instances they had been receiving support from the charity of neighbours. That was, and not the absence of distress, the reason why the poor rates were low. But this Bill was not intended to meet the condition of things on the present fourth day of August, but the distress which would become worse at a more and more rapid rate of progression if the same causes continued in operation. The worst state of things existed in the Union of Preston, where the poor rate expenditure was at present 700 per cent more than that of last year. Such a rate of increase was a sufficient answer to the charge that the Government had brought in a Bill that was not required. But then it was said the Government were culpable for having introduced the Bill at so late a period of the Session. On the contrary, he believed, that if the Government had brought in the Bill earlier, they would have acted in violation of their duty; and that if there had been a prospect of the Session continuing for a month or six weeks longer, they would have been justified in still further delaying the introduction of the measure. They had this alternative before them—either to provide for the emergency now, or to call Parliament together in the autumn, when great distress might exist. He trusted that under any circumstances there would be no breach of the law, but it would not be wise to wait and call Parliament together in an autumn Session, for the express purpose of passing a Bill of this kind, the want of which might lead to great discontent. If the Government had brought in such a measure at the beginning of the Session, they would have stopped the springs of private charity—they would have offered a premium on the closing of the mills—and they would, in other respects, have done infinite mischief, and would have caused the manufacturing districts a great deal of misery. It would have been most impolitic for these reasons to have brought in this Bill earlier in the Session. It was now, however, necessary to make provision for the state of things with which the manufacturing districts were threatened. The noble Earl said this Bill was at variance with the principle of the laws for the relief of the poor, and at variance with the Act of Elizabeth. With regard to this one clause—the loan clause—which was introduced in opposition to the views of the Government, that was true; but it was not true as to the rest of the measure, which carried out the provisions of the old law. With regard to this loan clause, he hoped it would not be drawn into a precedent; but it was not so bad as the noble Earl would have their Lordships believe. It had been introduced to meet the exigencies of the moment, and for that purpose only; he did not know who proposed or who voted for it, but the noble Earl's statement was not correct when he said that those on one side of the House who were connected with the districts were universally opposed to it in the House of Commons. One excellent and worthy friend of his, at least, a gentleman connected with Lanlashire, and who knew the country as well as any man living, was a warm advocate of the clause. Therefore, whether it was right or whether it was wrong, it could not be thrown upon any one party, or any one class. But then the noble Earl said this was throwing on future generations the payment of what was required to meet the immediate wants of the present. That could scarcely be the case, for the Bill provided that repayment should be made by seven annual instalments, which might surely be taken as repayment by the present generation. He (the Duke of Newcastle) did not say whether in principle this was right or wrong; but if wrong, it was in practice about the smallest amount of wrong that could be imagined. But he was not about to defend the principle of the clause. It was a clause which had been introduced not by the Government or at their suggestion, but at the suggestion of those who were more and directly interested to meet a great exigency, and as such had been assented to. The noble Earl said that the measure was the most unwise one ever introduced; but he contended, that looking at the circumstances of Lancashire at the present moment, the want and suffering which existed, and which were increasing week by week, the Government would have been most culpable if they had allowed Parliament to separate without making provision for meeting them. The measure had been introduced with the concurrence of the Inspector who had been sent down specially to investigate the state of affaire, and in concurrence also with the views of the guardians; and he hoped their Lordships would agree with him that under the circumstances it was one that ought to pass.


said, the objections to the Bill had been so powerfully stated by his noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury) that it was not his intention to enter into a general discussion on the measure; but having the honour to be connected with the county of Lancaster, and taking a deep interest in all which concerned that county, he could not forbear from stating the extreme pain with which he viewed the propositions now under consideration. He entirely concurred in what had fallen from his noble Friend with respect to the admirable conduct of the labouring classes in Lancashire. He also agreed with his noble Friend that for a series of years before 1861 there had been unexampled prosperity in the cotton districts. Mill after mill had been erected, and great populations had been brought together for the purpose of making those enormous fortunes which it was known had been made in those mills. Was it, then, he asked, worthy of those who had collected those populations—who had employed them and profited by their industry—that at the first moment when the least pressure came on them for the relief of their workpeople, they should stretch forth their hands for help, and endeavour to throw on their successors the burden which they themselves ought to bear? Was it reasonable that the millowners, who had made all the profit, should thus endeavour to throw the burden upon the owners and occupiers of other descriptions of property by resorting to a rate in aid? He repeated that he viewed this circumstance with very great pain. This was not a case in which very great pressure overrode all argument, because the consequence which appeared to be so much dreaded was that of the poor rate rising to 2s. or 3s. in the pound. He was ashamed when he heard such an appeal. What would be the outcry of the mill-owners of Lancashire if, because distress existed in the neighbouring agricultural districts, and the rates were high in consequence—say as high as twice 3s.—and a proposal was made to extend the burden by a rate in aid over the adjoining manufucturing districts? When the Corn Laws were about to be repealed, it was apprehended by many that there would be great distress in the agricultural districts. What answer was given to the representations on that subject? That agriculturists would find occupation in other ways; that they would gradually be absorbed in the manufacturing population, and that every man must bear his own burden. But in the case now under the consideration of their Lordships, because the rates were likely to rise in manufacturing districts Parliament was asked to make this extraordinary alteration in the law. As the measure was brought in originally, he was not prepared to say it might not have been wise to provide against danger; but he believed that at that time it contained no borrowing clause—no clause for enabling those who ought to bear the burden to throw it on those to whom it did not belong. Allusion had been made to Colonel Wilson Patten's supposed support of this clause; but he believed that though the hon. and gallant Gentleman was for a borrowing clause, he never intended that the power should commence until the rates reached 4s., which was higher than the amount fixed in the clause before their Lordships. It might be said that the principle was the same whatever the amount. That might be true; but, in a case like this, amount was everything. It was said that the Bill would not be made a precedent. That was frequently alleged in the case of a bad measure, but experience showed their Lordships that bad measures did become precedents, and he defied their Lordships to refuse hereafter to pass a similar Bill under similar circumstances. As to the provision for extending the operation of the Bill to adjoining parishes, seeing that the whole, or very nearly the whole, of South Lancashire, was involved in the difficulty arising from the scarcity of cotton, he was afraid that the extension to adjoining parishes would be of very little value. The effect of the Bill, he believed, would be in the first place to stop that private charity which was now flowing in for the relief of the distress; and in the next, to relax the vigilance of the Poor Law Guardians to keep down the rate. He could not imagine any sufficient ground for introducing the dangerous principle involved in the Bill, and could not but look upon its effect as a precedent as most fatal.


said, that he also was connected with the cotton manufacturing districts of Cheshire and Lancashire; but he had come to a very different conclusion from that to which his noble and learned Friend had arrived. He cordially agreed with the Amendment which had been introduced in the other House of Parliament, and believed the Bill had thereby been greatly improved. He believed that those of their Lordships who took a view adverse to the measure could have little idea of the state of the unfortunate manufacturing districts, where a vast population, willing to work and to perform its social duties, was prevented from doing so by the want of that article on which it depended for support. It was not merely the artisans who were reduced to a condition of distress by the failure of the cotton supply; small tradesmen, merchants' clerks, and small manufacturers were all equally involved. Remarks had been made bearing harshly on those manufacturers who had acquired large fortunes in the cotton districts, and who now shrank, it was said, from supporting their share of the losses entailed on the district. That might be true in some instances; but during the present year they had been incurring—and it was only just to them to add, voluntarily incurring—very great sacrifices in order to mitigate the sufferings of those who were dependent on them. He knew of many instances in which manufacturers had kept their mills open for several days in each week, at great cost to themselves, to support all their hands. One great manufacturer informed him the other day that he should sustain a loss of £20,000 a year. The knowledge that they had come forward in a laudable spirit to assist their workmen, wherever they could, had a great deal to do with the good feeling exhibited by the latter, and the patience and forbearance with which they had borne their sufferings. Private benevolence could do much to alleviate the existing misery, and he hoped those connected, territorially or otherwise, with the county would come forward cheerfully with their contributions. Calculations, however, based upon the present limit of rates in the manufacturing districts were very likely to prove fallacious. In other cases, the proportion of the population affected by a particular cause of distress was small as compared with the general body; but at Stockport he knew that at the present moment two-thirds of the ratepayers were not able to pay one sou of their rates. These, therefore, instead of being 5s. in the pound, would in reality be nearer to 10s. or 15s., when they fell on those only who could pay. The noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) had urged that such a measure as the present was ridiculous because in particular cases in the manufacturing districts the rates were only 2s. in the pound; but before another month these would have mounted up to 5s., and that 5s. would represent a 15s. rate. The noble Earl had also said that this Bill was promoted by interested individuals. With, the exception of one very small class, he believed that all in Lancashire and the manufacturing districts of Cheshire were of one mind as to the necessity of a loan. He quite appreciated the objection that many felt to this measure, but it must be remembered that it was introduced to meet an exceptional case. There might be some truth in the complaint that the manufacturers had not sufficiently exerted themselves to procure a supply of cotton from other places than America; but that had nothing to do with the distress which was now weighing upon the working classes, who certainly were not responsible for any neglect that might be charged against their employers in this respect. What was now asked was, not that the State should come forward to relieve the distress, but that the people of these districts might be permitted to bear the burden themselves, by borrowing the money and extending the repayment over a series of years. He trusted this would be conceded, and he had no doubt that when the present cloud passed away, either by the cessation of the civil war in America or by obtaining a sufficient supply of cotton from India or elsewhere, the artisans of Lancashire would again exercise the same industry, enterprise, and self-denying economy and forethought which had enabled them so far to bear the severe pressure to which they were now subjected.


explained that his statement with regard to the probable amount of rates in Lancashire was based on the official estimate of the Poor Law Department.


said, the Poor Law Department was very much mistaken if it believed that the rates would be only 2s., or double 2s.


said, that having been associated with the people of Lancashire in the days of their former properity, he could not be silent in the hour of their adversity. He felt satisfied their Lordships would exercise a sound discretion in giving their assent to this Bill, which was the only practical measure that bad yet been submitted for enabling Parliament to make adequate provision for the present extraordinary and anomalous condition of the cotton districts. But, while assenting to the measure, he felt bound to express the great concern with which he witnessed the necessity that compelled their Lordships to adopt a most questionable principle, and one fraught with the greatest danger as a precedent—that of introducing into the Poor Law system the principle of rates in aid, accompanied, he greatly feared, by a sus- pension of the labour test. Now, he held that the principle of a rate in aid was thoroughly antagonistic to the existing Poor Law system. No doubt latent traces of such a principle appeared in the Act of Elizabeth; and when the present system was established, full weight, perhaps, had not been given to that consideration; but an Act giving vitality and force to that principle must more or less endanger the safeguards surrounding the general right to relief, and could only be justified by the most urgent and overwhelming necessity. The Bill also introduced, for the first time, the principle of granting borrowing powers. While he admitted that such a principle was open to objections, yet, under present circumstances, there was a good deal to be said in its favour. All the provisions of this Bill were founded upon the calculation that this tremendous evil would be of only a transitory nature. If that was so, the districts which were now suffering would be the first to feel the full effects of a return of prosperity, and consequently this would be only a temporary expedient, enabling them, instead of seeking extraneous assistance by casting their burden upon other districts, to bear it themselves, and by casting it forward a few years to discharge the debt which they would have incurred in the hour of adversity in the years of returning prosperity. Upon that ground he assented to the borrowing powers. Lastly, they were by this Bill treating all the labourers of the cotton districts as the recipients of pauper relief, and by so doing they must in a serious degree interfere with and weaken the principles of self-reliance and independence which were so valuable to the moral character, and which these persons had up to this moment been most anxious not to surrender. These suffering persons in the cotton districts were not in any rational sense of the word paupers, and they ought not to be mixed up with the pauper system of the country. Paupers were a class of persons reduced to the lowest point of society by the uncertainties of the labour market, or by the caprices of taste, or by one of the many accidents necessarily connected with our social system. The persons who were now pressed down to a lower position, were not the victims of any ineradicable principle of our social system, but of a tenacious and extraneous adherence to a great principle of State policy; and it was therefore a grave question whether, under those circumstances, resort ought not to be had to the national resources for their relief or assistance. Upon that question, knowing the difficulties which beset it, he would not pronounce an opinion; but he besought their Lordships and the world calmly to consider the circumstances of the present crisis. There were in this and a neighbouring country immense numbers of persons who were reduced to destitution, not through idleness or any other fault on their own part, but because they could not obtain the material on which to exercise their industry; and there were across the Atlantic, according to the most reliable accounts, 4,000,000 bales of the raw cotton which these persons required. There was the raw cotton anxious to come to us and here were the millions, he might say, of persons who were reduced to misery and want because they were not permitted to touch that cotton. This was a serious and alarming state of things, and he was sure that it would be felt to be so by their Lordships. He trusted that it would not long continue, and he would humbly pray that it might terminate without causing still more serious injuries to our population. He hoped that for the present state of things a solution would be found, and that the unnatural contest which was now going on would not be much longer protracted. He trusted that those who not only shared the same blood and spoke the same language, but had lived and grown proud as citizens under the same institutions would return to amicable intercourse, whether it was under one or more independent Governments—a question with which it was not for us to interfere—and that an honourable and honest class of our population might be permitted again to apply their industry to the production of articles which would conduce to their own maintenance and comfort, and at the same time add to the material wealth of the world.


said, he regretted that when the Government accepted the objectionable provision which conferred borrowing powers upon the guardians, they did not insist upon the surrender of the rate in aid; because it was obvious that if money was borrowed the same economy would not be applied to its expenditure as was exercised in the case of money raised by rates, and the guardians would soon call upon their neighbours for a rate in aid. He also complained that the Bill had not been so successfully drawn as it ought to have been. It was provided that no union in which the rate amounted to 3s. in the pound should be called upon to contribute to a rate in aid, but there was no similar provision as to parishes. The provision with regard to unions in different counties also seemed to be rather loose, and it was not clear whether "the greater part" of the union, as determining to which county it should contribute, meant the greater part in acreage or the greater part in population.


wished to say a word as to the anxiety which had been attributed by the noble and learned Lord to the mill-owners to throw off the burden of the distress under which their workpeople were labouring. He did not think that these persons were open to the charge. The borrowing powers might be unwise, but it was obvious, that whether the money were paid at once, or whether it were raised by loan, the burden must fall on the mill-owners. On the other hand, a rate in aid would in come cases procure contributions from other parts of the union which were in agricultural districts. It was clear therefore, that if the manufacturers looked merely to their own interests, they would be in favour of the rate in aid rather than of a loan. It was also right to observe that the exigency which the Bill was intended to meet had not yet arisen. The measure was intended to provide not for an existing evil, but for any aggravation of the present state of things which might occur during the recess. The artisans of Lancashire were now bearing their privations and endeavouring to maintain their independence in a way which elicited the commendation of all parties; but care should be taken to provide means of relief in case more severe distress fell upon them.

Motion agreed to; House in Committee accordingly; Bill reported, without Amendment; then Standing Orders Nos. 37 and 38 considered, and dispensed with; and Bill read 3a, and passed.

[Royal Assent, August 7; 25 & 26 Vict., c. 110.]