HL Deb 02 May 1879 vol 245 cc1576-9

House in Committee (according to Order).

On the Question that the Preamble be postponed?


said, he despaired of inducing their Lordships to reject the clause which placed members of Friendly Societies in a different position from other members of the community, and he should therefore endeavour to limit its operation by the Amendments he had placed on the Paper.

Preamble postponed. Clause 1 (The provisions of sec. 23 of the Divided Parishes and Poor Law Amendment Act, 1876, not to apply to monies to which a pauper or pauper lunatic may be entitled as a member of a friendly or benefit society).


proposed, in line 7, to leave out the words "pauper or"—the effect of which would be to pro-vent the payment of monies due from a Friendly Society to a pauper or a pauper's family. He thought it quite reasonable, and in the interest of the ratepayers themselves, to deal exceptionally with the case of pauper lunatics; but with regard to ordinary paupers, he saw no reason why an exceptional provision should be retained in the Bill in favour of members of Friendly Societies. He was not indifferent, far less hostile, to Friendly Societies. For the last 30 years he had been President of one of the largest of those Societies in the West of England, and he had looked particularly to the soundness of that Society. Friendly Societies throughout the country were increasing both in numbers and soundness; and with increasing numbers and improving soundness they required no exceptional bounty, such as that given by this Bill.


said, he adhered to the opinion he had expressed last year when he supported an Amendment similar to the present. But while he was opposed to the principle of the Bill, the matter was really not very important; and, looking to the strong feeling which had been expressed throughout the country in favour of the Bill, he should, out of deference to public opinion, support it.


said, that the Bill simply reverted to the principle in force before 1876. He denied that any exceptional bounty was given to Friendly Societies by this Bill. What it did was to remove a supposed power under the Act of 1876 from the Guardians to attach the allowances due to members of Friendly Societies for the relief given to a pauper. The pauper would still be liable to the Guardians, on any money coming in to him, for the cost of his maintenance, and could be sued by them; but the officers of Friendly Societies com- plained—and he thought with justice—that they should have to pay the money due from them to their members to the Guardians, instead of its being applied directly to the maintenance of the member's family, and recovered by the Guardians from them if necessary. The Amendment, if carried, would be fatal to the Bill, in favour of which no fewer than 1,900 Petitions had been presented, with 12 7,000 signatures.


opposed the Amendment. When he introduced the Bill last year the feeling of the country in its favour was intense, and it was ten times more so now. It was an honourable feeling on the part of the people, who had a notion that it tended to encourage thrift; and if there was one thing more than another which it was desirable to encourage in the English people, it was the practice of thrift. It would be wise, therefore, to depart from the rigid principles of political economy in this case. The funds in question could not be considered property in any sense. They could not be bequeathed, drawn out, or traded with; it was only in the contingency of sickness that benefit was derived from them. He hoped their Lordships would pass the Bill, and give satisfaction to a large body of people.


said, the real question was, what was best in the long run for the people themselves? He thought there was some necessity for concession in this case. The feeling was almost universal, and was excessively strong, in favour of the Bill, which had passed in its present shape through the House of Commons. In a matter which did not go to a very great practical extent, he thought their Lordships would be right in rejecting the Amendment.


said, that the pauper himself would not be a bit better off for the clause. The only difference would be that the Guardians would have the power of suing the pauper instead of the Friendly Society.


, in reply, contended that the Bill contained a new principle which was not in the law previous to 1876.

Amendment negatived.


moved, to leave out, in line 8, the words "other relative dependent on him." The word "relative" appeared to him to be dangerously wide in its meaning. He would limit the effect of the clause to wife, child, parent, grandfather, or grandmother unable to maintain himself or herself. A great portion of the Petitions in favour of the Bill limited the words to wife or children, father or mother, so that what he proposed went beyond the prayer of those Petitions.

Amendment movedLine 8, leave out "other relative dependent upon him for maintenance" and insert "child, or parent, grandfather or grandmother, incapable of maintaining himself or herself and previously regularly maintained by such pauper lunatic."—(The Earl Fortescue.)


suggested that "grandchildren" should be inserted, as they were often dependent for support on the persons contemplated by the Bill.


thought it would be worth considering to add other relative "legally" dependent.


said, he would accept the suggestion, provided the words "and previously regularly maintained" were also added.


said, that an Amendment of that kind would be very little worth, and might cause a great deal of trouble.


said, it was reasonable to limit the liability as it was now limited. Certain persons were bound to support certain others, and it was only reasonable to make the law coincident with the obligation. It was desirable to have the law precise, otherwise those who had to administer it would experience great difficulty.


wished to know whether the word "relative" was capable of any legal definition?


said, his strong impression was that "relatives" meant, in law, those who were next of kin, and that the term would not apply to relations by marriage.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment, and to be read 3ª on Monday next.