§ Mr. SUMMERBELL
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to page 147 of the Majority Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, stating that in some unions out-relief is not given unless there is a sufficient income to pay rent, under the mistaken idea that it is illegal to give relief sufficiently adequate to pay for shelter; and, if so, whether he will reissue the instructional letter of the Poor Law Commissioners of 21st December, 1844, which explains that guardians should, where necessary, supply to a person given out-relief the means of paying for lodging, or take other means to correct this mistake of law?
§ Mr. BURNS
I am aware of the statement in the Report of the Royal Commission referred to. The object my hon. Friend has in view could not, I think, be conveniently met by the reissue of the Instructional letter of 21st December, 1844. That letter was intended to explain the provisions of the Outdoor Relief Prohibitory Order, which is not in force throughout the whole country, and it related to a number of matters besides that now in question. But I will consider in what way any misapprehension which may exist amongst boards of guardians as to their powers in relation to this subject can best be removed.
§ Mr. SUMMERBELL
asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he has read the statement at pages 147 and 148 of the Report of the Majority of the Poor Law Commissioners that in some unions in the case of a widow with children no relief is given for the widow and one child, even though it may be impossible for her to earn anything, owing either to her own condition or to the number of children of tender years who need her constant attention; will he say whether the 451W practice of refusing out-relief to a widow with one child only is due to a suggestion made by the Local Government Board in 1871, that out-relief should not, except in special cases, be granted to any able-bodied widow with one child only; whether he has read the condemnation by the Commissioners of the practice of taking children into the workhouse; and, if so, whether he would cause the Local Government Board circular of 1871, which says that in the case of any able-bodied widow with more than one child it may be desirable to take one or more of the children into the workhouse, to be withdrawn?
§ Mr. BURNS
I have seen the statement in the Report to which my attention is drawn. It is the fact that in a circular issued in 1871 the Local Government Board suggested that outdoor relief should not, except in special cases, be granted to an able-bodied widow with one child only, and that, in the case of an able-bodied widow with more than one child, it might be desirable to take one or more of the children into the workhouse in preference to giving outdoor relief. It is in the discretion of the guardians as to how they will deal with any particular case of this kind, and I see no sufficient reason for the withdrawal of the circular. I may add that the practice condemned by the Commissioners is, I think, that of the maintenance of children in workhouses in which there are adult paupers. The Local Government Board have repeatedly urged upon boards of guardians that the children should, as far as possible, be taken out of such workhouses and maintained in separate institutions.