HL Deb 13 February 1865 vol 177 cc202-3

moved that there be laid before the House— Return of the Number of Unions or Parishes that have availed themselves of the Act of 29th July 1864, enabling them to receive from the Metropolitan Board of Works the Sums of Money expended in the Relief of the casual Poor; of the Amount of Money hitherto so expended; and of the Unions and Parishes where the Guardians have provided new Wards or other Places of Reception for this Class of Poor, since the passing of the above-mentioned Act.


said, that when the Bill referred to was under the consideration of their Lordships last year, he ventured to prophesy that the measure would not work satisfactorily. Never had the metropolis been so infested as at the present moment with vagrants and beggars, and never before were such harrowing cases of distress brought under the notice of the public. When he was Secretary of the Poor Law Board he ventured to suggest that the best way of dealing with the casual poor was to place their relief in the hands of the police authorities. He could conceive nothing more unsatisfactory than leaving the administration of funds derived from a great variety of sources in the hands of a number of perfectly independent, and very often anything but harmonious, bodies. The best feature in the Act was that it was temporary, and he hoped that no further steps would be taken to renew it until the Government had given the subject the most careful consideration.


said, there was no objection to the production of the Returns.


said, he had pointed out last year that such provisions as those contained in the Bill were rendered necessary by the numerous evictions—amounting to not less than 15,000—which had taken place in the metropolis in consequence of the metropolitan improvements. There was a Bill now before Parliament, the Westminster Improvement Bill, which displaced 3,500 persons; and the Westminster Commissioners, who had charge of the improvements, reported on the Bill that it made no provision for the location of the persons who would be thus displaced, as the main object they had in view was the improvement of the sanitary condition of Westminster. It might be very important for the sanitary condition of London that narrow thoroughfares should be removed. No doubt the persons to be displaced belonged to a class for which very little could be said; nevertheless, they were men and women, and if their Lordships gave authority for such wholesale removals of the population, they made themselves to some extent responsible for the overcrowding of other districts, and for the consequent miseries which ensued. He hoped the promoters of this scheme would not be permitted to proceed with it until they had satisfied a Committee that they had considered the subject of providing accommodation for the displaced population more closely than their remark seemed to imply.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at half past Five o'clock, till To-morrow, half past Ten o'clock.