§ VISCOUNT RAYNHAM
said, he wished to put a Question to the President of the Poor Law Board; and in order to enable himself to make a short statement, he would move the Adjournment of the House. A few years ago he had had the honour to move for a Select Committee to consider the mismanagement of the London workhouses. Yesterday afternoon, as he was passing through Oxford Street, he saw a poor woman and four children apparently in a state of utter destitution. He told her that St. Marylebone workhouse was the nearest place of shelter, and that he would follow her there in half an hour. Accordingly he went, and on arriving at the workhouse found the woman and her family standing outside in a drenching rain at the door. He knocked, and asked why they were refused? He was received in a most insolent manner, and he was told by the master, that if he did not leave, he would be turned out forthwith. He did leave; but returned, and on passing his card through the grille, he was admit- 524 ted, and treated rather more civilly; but the master refused to take in the woman and her children. Under these circumstances, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether the authorities of any workhouse whatever had a right to deny admittance to any destitute person so long as the casual ward was not absolutely incapable of containing any more persons? At the same time, he wished to say that the casual wards were places in which no gentleman would like to place his dog. He begged also to give notice that he would to-morrow move for leave to bring in a Bill to improve the condition of the casual poor in the workhouses of the metropolis.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
, in seconding the Motion, observed that the introduction of the Bill by the President of the Poor Law Board on Friday night involved a most important question, and that was whether such a measure ought not to have been introduced in a Committee of the Whole House. He did not think it right that important Bills of that description should be introduced at two o'clock in the morning, when only thirteen or fourteen Members were present. He wished also to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether a Bill involving a grant of public money on the security of the local rates ought not to be introduced in a Committee of the Whole House?
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, his right hon. Friend the President of the Poor Law Board had made the usages of the House a subject of particular inquiry before introducing the Bill, and the answer obtained, from competent authority, was that the proceeding he contemplated was perfectly regular. His right hon. Friend consulted him as to the expediency of that course, and he certainly was of opinion that, on the whole, it was the course most expedient, if it were allowable. Had the plan of proceeding upon a preliminary Resolution been adopted, the House of Commons must have been asked in the first instance to bind itself to a particular sum which could not be exceeded (which in that instance he was not prepared to do), or else the circuituous measure would be adopted of moving for a fresh Committee to enlarge that sum after the Bill had been introduced. It was not easy for the Government to say beforehand what sum would be required; but they expected 525 to derive valuable information upon this point from the discussions upon the measure which must take place both in and out of Parliament. Instead, therefore, of laying down rigidly the precise amount of public money required, it was thought more judicious to obtain from hon. Members and local representatives information as to the amount that would probably be required.
§ MR. FERRAND
asked, for what day the President of the Poor Law Board intended to fix the second reading of the Bill?
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, that he had already stated that he proposed to take it on that day week. It was not necessary to submit the question to a preliminary Committee, because the Bill did not impose any fresh charge upon the Exchequer; it only authorized the Exchequer Loan Commissioners to advance monies which were already in their possession. With regard to the question of the noble Viscount (Viscount Raynham), he could only say, that as the noble Lord had given him no notice of it, he could give him no information as to the case. He submitted to the noble Lord, however, that the proper quarter to apply to in the first instance was the Poor Law Board. If he could not obtain redress there, it might be very proper afterwards to call the attention of the House to the matter.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.