§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1 (Repeal of the 4 & 5 Will. 4, c. 76, s. 26 Provision. The Relief of all the Poor in Union to be charged to the Common Fund.)
SIR JOHN JOHNSTONE
said, he wished to propose an Amendment, the effect of which would be to put the clause in harmony with a new clause he intended to bring up, providing for a gradual approach to the principle of union rating by annual instalments up to the year 1870. He therefore moved in line 14, after "shall," to insert, "subject to the provisions hereinafter contained."
§ SIR BALDWIN LEIGHTON
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had just taken 2d. in the pound off the Income Tax, and the right hon. Gentleman the President of 492 the Poor Law Board now proposed a measure which would impose an additional burden of about 3d. in the pound upon the agricultural interest of the country to the advantage of the towns, it was desirable that the whole law of assessment should be inquired into, as well as the exemptions of stock-in-trade and other species of property. He therefore hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) would give some assurance that all those questions should he considered.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, that when he was questioned on the subject the other night he had said that next year the Act for the exemption of stock-in-trade would come to an end, and as that would be an opportunity for an inquiry whether that exemption should be continued, it might also be an occasion for inquiring into all other assessments. If such an inquiry were proposed he should support it.
§ Amendment agreed to.
VISCOUNT ENFIELD moved in line 15i after "poor," to insert—
and the expenses of the burial of the dead body of any poor person under the direction of the guardians, or any of their officers duly authorized.
§ Amendment agreed to,
MR. HIBBERT moved in Hue 15, after "incurred," to insert—
and all charges thenceforth incurred by the guardians of such union in respect of vaccination and registration fees.
§ Amendment agreed to,
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Guardians of Unions, & c.)
MR. HENLEY moved in line 17, to leave out "when," and insert "no;" leave out "such," and insert "or parish;" leave out from "be" to end of the Clause, and insert—
liable to be or be removed to any other Union, parish, or place, or to Scotland or Ireland; and the several Acts recited in the Schedule to this Bill shall be repealed.
The right hon. Gentleman said: Sir, I rise to move the Amendment of which I have given notice, and the object of which is to entirely do away with all removals of poor persons. This Bill was introduced to the House by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board in a speech in which he stated most strongly the evils which the poor suffer from what he calls being "shuffled" about by all sorts of methods from one place to another, in
order that they may be prevented from obtaining a settlement by three years' residence in one parish. He very much rested this Bill for shifting burdens which have been sanctioned for 200 years on the alleged benefits to the poor which would arise from the change. I now want to test the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman and those who support him, as to whether they really do mean by this Bill to benefit the poor, and free those poor persons who may want relief from all the manæouvres, and consequent miseries and other evil consequences which the present law of removal entails upon them. It is necessary that I should call attention to a Return presented to this House by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and with the contents of which he must, therefore, be well acquainted. It shows the number of orders of removal for the year ending the 25th of March, 1863, and I beg of the House to attend to that date, because it is a material element of consideration. The House will recollect that during 1863 a great pressure from accidental circumstances arose in the county of Lancaster; necessarily there was a great pressure on the poor in that county; and, therefore, I think when the House sees what the number of removals were at such a time they will come to the conclusion that the case is now ripe to be dealt with. The right hon. Gentleman, when speaking the other night of those whom he was pleased to call "the farmers' friends," quoted from paper after paper in which the desire was distinctly expressed that those removals should be done away with, and that as large an area as possible should be adopted. It appears, from the Return for the year ending March 25, 1863, that the total number of orders of removal in England amounted to 5,689, and the whole number of persons removed to 13,900. Therefore we may say in round numbers that something like 6,000 orders for removal were made, and that something like 14,000 persons were removed—or not quite 2½ persons under each order of removal. The money expended in carrying out these removals was not less than between £19,000 and £20,000, and that was independently of the expense incurred in the maintenance of those persons while the orders were being worked out. In addition to those English removals there were 416 Irish and a very few Scotch and Channel Island removals. The carrying out of ibis system imposes hardships and involves cruelties
which no care can prevent, and I believe the greatest boon we could confer on the poor would be to set the labour of the country free, and do away with this dreadful system. Let us see for one instant how limited will be the benefit conferred by the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. Out of the whole number of removal orders only 366 were made out for removal from one place to another within the same union, and' therefore all the Bill would do as it stands would be to get rid of those 366 orders. But every one knows that an order of removal to a place within the same union does not necessitate, and in most cases does not cause the removal of the person. It is a mere document to shift the charge from parish "A" to parish "B," and in most cases the poor are allowed to remain where they are. The House cannot forget the case which occurred in connection with a union at Greenwich or some place in that direction. A poor Irishwoman who had been only recently confined was put on the deck of a vessel in the depth of winter, and nothing but the humanity of a man who was on board interfered to check her removal to Ireland in such a way and at such a time. An inquiry was instituted, and how had the law been evaded under the management of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board? A pauper had been employed to carry out the removals, and what was the use of levying a penalty on a pauper? That is the way the dodge was worked; and it does not appear that the Poor Law authorities took care to prevent it. The fact is, you cannot prevent the infliction of cruelties under such a law. A third, or nearly a third, of the whole of the removals—namely, 2,200 out of the 5,689—were from this metropolis; and if my recollection serves me rightly, the total number of persons relieved throughout the whole length and breadth of England was stated to be about 1,000,000, and the cost of the entire maintenance, indoor and outdoor, £4,000,000. The figures, as my right hon. Friend must be aware, show that these expenses come to about £4 per head. The number of persons in each order of removal was, as I said before something like 2| to each order, but of course in the metropolis many of the removals that have taken place have been from one part of the metropolis to another. They are not all external, and some, no doubt, are from places external
back again to the metropolis. Now, the whole rateable value of the metropolis, so far as the poor rate is concerned, and so far as I can ascertain, is nearer £11,000,000 than £10,000,000. The orders of removal within the metropolitan area have been something like 2,000, and multiplying that number by 2|, we find the number of persons removed was 5,000. Taking the cost of removal to be £4 per head the total amounts to £20,000, manifestly an utterly insignificant sum when compared with the rateable value. Then comes the question, are we justified in keeping this charge, and is there any danger in abolishing this system of removal; is there any possible ground for reasonable apprehension? An hon. Friend of mine has suggested the propriety of softening down the time of removal to one year. But I argue thus: We first limited the time for removal to five years, and no inconvenience was felt; we then further limited it to three years, and still no inconvenience was felt; then why not take the final step at once and for ever, and abolish the system altogether? Why do I say we should not hesitate to take this step at once? The right hon. Gentleman told us in strong language that now, when the time for removal is limited to three years, the people are hunted about in order to prevent their remaining so long in a parish. If that be the case now, what will take place when the time is limited to one year? Why, the unfortunate poor will be like peas in a shovel, they will not be allowed to be still for a moment. In the language of the right hon. Gentleman, they would be hunted about from one place to another, in order to prevent their becoming chargeable through one year's residence. The evil is bad enough at present, but what will it be when you multiply it by three? I say, act like men, and do away with the system altogether, Had the right hon. Gentleman proposed the Bill in this sense he would not have found me opposing it. I tell him that honestly and plainly, because in my opinion such a measure would be a great boon to the poor man. Did the right hon. Gentleman, or those who preceded him, meet with any opposition when passing the Act for throwing the irremovable poor upon the common funds? So far as I recollect, there was no opposition worth mentioning. And for what reason? Because everybody felt that that was a measure which would be a great boon to the poor man, and they were
willing to bear their fair share in lightening his burden. But when a measure is proposed, such as the Bill we are now considering, which confers no boon upon the poor but merely saves some trouble to officials, the right hon. Gentleman cannot expect that it will not be opposed. The difference in principle between the two measures appears to me to be so clear that I hardly like taking up the time of the House in explaining it. With regard to Lancashire, which appears to be the strongest case cited on behalf of the Bill, it appears that the number of removals in the year 1863—a year of extraordinary pressure—was 977, and what was that compared with the enormous wealth of Lancashire? The saving effected would be almost inappreciable, What becomes of the pretence of which we have heard so much about alleviating the burdens of the poor—supposing there is any sincerity in those who make use of that argument—if you refuse to relieve your poorer brethren of this great curse upon them? The question is now very much narrowed, for it will be impossible to prevent the rates of the metropolis being equalized, after the Bill before us shall have become law. I hope the hon. Members who represent the metropolis, with all its vast wealth, will not stand in the way of such a great boon to the poor. So that when we have made these changes we may have the satisfaction of knowing that we are at all events conferring a benefit upon the poor man. As the system remains at present our Irish fellow countrymen endure great miseries under it; but until it is abolished in this country we cannot do anything with it there. I am not either by ago or by disposition a very rash man, and if I believe there would be the slightest danger in abolishing the system, I should not stand here and propose such a measure. The words I move will have the effect of doing away with removals altogether. I believe if they can succeed once and for ever in getting rid of this question of removal it will confer greater credit upon Government than anything they have yet done.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 17, to leave out the words "When any," in order to insert the word "No."—(Mr. Henley.)
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, told them he made this Motion as a test of the sincerity of those who were promoting and supporting the Bill, Therefore the House 497 might congratulate itself upon the admission of the right hon. Gentleman that his objection was not to the principle of the Bill, but to the inconveniences which might arise if the Bill were passed without the Amendment he proposed, which ho alleged would, by giving a wider effect to the measure, complete that reform of the Poor Law system of which the Bill might be regarded only as a commencement. It must be a source of great satisfaction to all parties to find there was a road by which they might arrive at unanimity in dealing with this question for the benefit of the poor. He (Mr. Ayrton) could not be charged with insincerity upon this point, as during the five or six years be had sat in Committees of the House appointed to consider the subject, he had always advocated the principle of extending the area of rating, and of abolishing the law of removal. It had always appeared to him that the two principles were so intimately connected that it was impossible to deal with one without the other. The only question which remained, therefore, was which were they to deal with first. Every one who had studied the legislation during the last thirty-five years upon this question, would be convinced that the great obstruction to carrying out a uniform system with regard to the Poor Law was the disinclination of those who held large estates, and who possessed great influence, to allow successive Governments to propose a measure for the purpose. He must say he admired the courage shown by his right hon. Friend (Mr. C. P. Villiers), insetting aside the attempts that had, doubtless, been made in order to prevent him bringing the matter under the notice of the House. By the positive vote of the House that obstructive difficulty had now been got rid of. The moment that the area of charge was so extended as to render the charge of maintaining the poor fair and reasonable throughout the country, there would no longer exist any reason, as far as the ratepayer was concerned, for insisting upon the right of removal. With reference to the pauper, the argument was that if you did not remove paupers, people would go about from place to place for the mere pleasure of making themselves chargeable. That was an idea which had grown out of past errors in Poor Law administration, and would have no reference to the application of the law by an intelligent Board of Guardians acting for all. Under such a system, the only motive which a man could 498 have for moving from place to place would be to get work by which he might live as an honest man. This was proved by the experience of Ireland, where there was no law of removal, but where the Poor Law was administered in an intelligent and discriminating spirit, and in such a manner as to prevent any jealousy on the part of the labourer. There no such theories had ever been admitted as found favour with the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight) and others, that the Poor Law was a kind of regulated system of national charity and so on. It was remarkable how completely the people of this country had been injured and demoralized by a false system of Poor Law relief founded upon such views. In Ireland, with a population of nearly six millions said to be always on the verge of want, the annual charge for the poor was only £600,000, whereas in this country, with a population of 20,000,000, the annual charge for the poor amounted to £6,500,000. In this wealthy country, where industry flourished with remarkable freedom and vigour, and which was said to be the envy of the whole world, the number of paupers who were chargeable on any day in the year was 1,079,000, while in Ireland it was only 55,000. Can any one doubt that the large number of paupers in England was the result of the demoralization of the working people occasioned by a false system of administering the Poor Law? and he had no doubt that the first effect of this measure would be to compel the guardians as a body to apply themselves to the proper administration of the Poor Law, and the next to improve the moral condition of the people, so that ultimately they might be elevated to the standard of the people of Ireland. He spoke advisedly when he said "of the people of Ireland," because he had no doubt that the moral standard of the people of Ireland was infinitely higher than that of the people of this country, a circumstance which he attributed, first, to their not having had a Poor Law until lately; and, secondly, to the better administration of the Poor Law in that country, the poor not having been demoralized by a system similar to that established here. Under the operation of this Bill we should get rid of the false ideas which had long prevailed; it would be understood that the first object of the Poor Law was to maintain the independence of the self-supporting and honest members of the working classes; and when that had 499 been done no evil could result from the abolition of the law of removal. There remained among us now some of the leaven of the old statute in which the people were described as going about to parishes in which the best stocks were to be found, and where they could obtain most comfort from the Poor Law. That was the origin of the whole system of settlement and removal, and that motive being removed all the restrictions which had grown out of the original error of the Poor Law might be abolished at once. No one would propose that we should regard the Poor Law as part of a system of communism or socialism, and should establish a factory in each parish for the purpose of employing the people and paying them wages. The Poor Law Guardians would have to apply themselves to a more intelligent application of the system. Their object ought to be to give to the people the full benefit of railways and of all means of transporting themselves wherever their industry was needed and where they could earn the best wages. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) had justly pointed out that if the law was altered as he desired, it would be necessary that the metropolis should be considered as one union; and one of the Resolutions of the Committee, from whose Report this Bill had originated, was that in any legislation upon this subject it would be necessary to regard the metropolis as an exception to the rest of the country, and as requiring some special provisions, it being in fact one large city. One of the recommendations of that Committee had been adopted with reference to the houseless poor, and if the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman was accepted, it would be necessary to go further in the same direction. A servant who had been employed in Belgrave Square could not if discharged find lodgings in that neighbourhood, but must betake himself to those parts of the town where the poorer classes were gathered together; and it would not be fair to saddle such unions with the cost of maintaining persons who only came there when they were most likely to become chargeable. Some persons were afraid lest if the law of removal was abolished the difference between the dietaries in English and Irish workhouses should lead to the migration of a large number of paupers from Ireland to this country. He did not think that there was any real reason to apprehend such a migration, but if there was any danger of its taking place the guardians had the re- 500 medy in their own hands. They would simply have to treat Irish paupers coming over under those circumstances to all the comforts of the workhouse under the most rigid system of administration, and he felt assured no Irishman would be likely to leave his country and friends for the sake of indulging in such a privilege. He had only to say in conclusion that he hoped unless there were some reason, which he did not see, to prevent the introduction of the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman opposite into the present Bill, the President of the Poor Law Board would take that course; or, if not, that he would, at all events, give a distinct pledge to lay upon the table of the House a measure to accomplish the object which the right hon. Gentleman had in view.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, that every step taken to prevent the removal of the poor had been productive of good, but he was somewhat afraid of taking a step so much in advance as that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. We enjoyed in this; country great liberty of removing from place to place, but he had heard his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) say lately that we were becoming the most police-ridden country in the world, and we must he-ware that we do not adopt measures which would render it necessary to have resort to the intervention of the police in matters of removal. There were a great number of persons who went from fair to fair, and a large number of Irish in the metropolis, who were, in fact, a constantly migrating population. It might make landlords much too stringent if they did away with removability altogether, and therefore he was not willing to take so large a step with respect to all settlements. He thought it would be well if a measure of the kind proposed by his right hon. Friend were brought in as a separate measure, and he (Sir William Jolliffe) should be glad if so, to give it his support.
§ MR. ALDERMAN SIDNEY
said, that he begged to thank the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) for the enlightened views which he had expressed in his speech. As a measure of justice to the poor he thought no one could doubt that these restrictions were most unjust. In this metropolis they were indebted very much to what was termed the migratory habits of the Irish poor. Without such labour they would find themselves at a great loss, and he could not see why, when 501 a large society called forth so much labour, they should be unwilling to support the destitution which was necessarily occasioned. The sentiments expressed by the right hon. Gentleman were quite in unison with those which the metropolitan ratepayers entertained. The time had, he thought, arrived when the law of removal should be altogether expunged from the statute-book.
§ SIR WILLIAM MILES
said, he wished to call the special attention of the House to the evidence recently placed before it, and which was extremely singular in its character, though the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Villiers) had not gone much into it, but had contented himself with making general assertions. The Chairman of the Board of Guardians of the London Union was examined before the Select Committee that had sat on this subject in 1861–2, and he stated, that in his opinion the law of settlement should be abolished. Mr. Blatchford, the Chairman of the Fulham Board of Guardians, said he thought the law of settlement should be totally abolished, but not until the area of chargeability was enlarged, because if they were to abolish it before such a measure as that was adopted, they would swamp some parishes entirely. He (Sir William Miles) entirely agreed with the witness on that point, and he thought his right hon. Friend (Mr. Henley) had, with great propriety, made his proposal as a supplement to the present Bill. He quite agreed with the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) that there should be but one rate for the whole of the metropolis, and he hoped that the hon. Member, and those who thought with him, would support this Amendment, because they might depend upon it this question must be considered very shortly in its entirety. It appeared to him that the present unequal system of rating in the metropolis could not be continued for three years longer. Mr. Esdaile, overseer of St. George's, Surrey, was also examined, and likewise expressed his disapproval of the law of settlement. Mr. I George Goodwin, Chairman of the Board of Guardians of Norwich, stated that he was in favour of making the poor chargeable to the district where they were employed. Mr. George Bowring, clerk of the guardians of the London Union, said the effect of the union rating would be to make the richer parishes pay more and the poorer parishes less. He did not think that union rating would have much effect in increasing or 502 diminishing pauperism; but he said that the abolition of the law of settlement would circulate labour. Mr. May, clerk of the Macclesfield Union, said he would have all settlement done away with. He (Sir William Miles) believed that by abolishing the law of settlement and removal they would greatly add to the comforts of the poor and improve the interests of the ratepayers. The witnesses whose evidence he had quoted, stated in distinct terms that one of the most effectual methods of benefiting the poor was to allow labour to circulate freely. He hoped they would be able to make the Bill a good one, and he confessed that he looked forward with some anxiety to the answer of the President of the Poor Law Board. Some Gentlemen, no doubt, might be afraid of an influx of Irish paupers; but he did not apprehend that any such result would follow. Ho recollected the misery that was suffered in the years 1845 and 1846, when so many Irish paupers were sent over from Liverpool to their country and then reshipped to England. He trusted that such a state of things would never again occur, and in order to provide against the possibility of its recurrence, he hoped that the House would agree to the Amendment of his right hon. Friend.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, that Ireland suffered more than any other part of the United Kingdom under this law of settlement and removal. He was, therefore, delighted at the prospect of getting rid of the ill-feeling engendered by the removal of paupers from England to Ireland. He was Chairman of a Board of Guardians, and it had often occurred that an Englishman had presented himself to the Board for relief which they gave without hesitation. In Ireland, according to law, wherever a pauper was found, the ratepayers were bound to relieve him; whereas paupers were frequently sent to Ireland from England who had completely forgotten their native country. In his own union paupers were all sent to the house, instead of being offered outdoor relief, and therefore they had no wandering vagrants. If it were possible to introduce that system into this Bill, he would give it his support. If the right hon. Gentleman did not adopt the principle at present, he hoped some other hon. Gentleman would at no very distant date introduce a separate Bill for the purpose of carrying out that object.
§ MR. PUGH
said, ho should have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment of 503 the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) if he went to a division. When this Bill was before the House for a second reading he said that he should vote for it, not only on account of its own intrinsic merits, but because it was a step in the right direction. That direction was now pointed out to them by the right hon. Gentleman in recommending the abolition of the law of settlement and removal. The step might appear to be bold, but it had the sanction of high authorities. It had been recommended by Adam Smith a century ago. It had been recommended by a Select Committee of the House of Commons in 1847, who agreed to four Resolutions:—That the law of settlement and removal was injurious—1st, to the working classes; 2nd, to the employers of labour; 3rd, to the ratepayers; and 4th, that it ought to be abolished. These opinions were echoed by the country. Five unions in the county of Suffolk expressed the same sentiments; as also did various unions in other counties, in answer to inquiries which were instituted by the Poor Law Board in every direction through their Inspectors, whose Reports were made and published in 1850. And now they had the authority of the right hon. Gentleman, who was not likely to counsel a rash and precipitate step; and if any one feared the experiment he would say to him—Tune qua parentis Jussa time; neu præceptis parere recusa.The measure would be advantageous in this respect—that it would be free from those jealousies and heartburnings which might be attendant on the passing of the Union Rating Bill, where large towns and rural districts were in the same union. The interests of town and country would not be so strikingly brought into collision. Therefore it was that he had not been influenced by the arguments which had been directed against that Bill, as he considered it as temporary and provisional, and destined to lead to that larger and final measure which now occupied their attention, and which he believed would in the course of time, with great advantage to the community, become the law of the land.
It is quite evident the House wants to come to an early division on this subject. Sir, I cannot help thinking that there is nothing very real in this Motion, and that it is not really proposed for the purpose for which it appears to be moved. Certainly, we have great 504 authority for receiving a repentant sinner with welcome, and we ought, therefore, to hail the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) with all that joy which we know is promised to those who have sinned and who repent. So aggravated a case of an offender in this matter can hardly be found in this House. The right hon. Gentleman has, as I believe, taken the House, and he has certainly taken me, by surprise. Notice has been given, a speech has been made, and reasons have been assigned for the great change which the right hon. Gentleman proposes instantly to be made. He proposes, by an Amendment, to insert a few words, and omit a few other words. Perhaps, however, the right hon. Gentleman has hardly considered what it is he does propose. I beg leave to say that what the right hon. Gentleman proposes is the instant and complete abolition of the system of removal and settlement. That, I say, has taken me a little by surprise, because we know the opinions formerly entertained by the right hon. Gentleman on this particular question. I know no one so alive to these matters, or who has so constantly expressed his opinions on things of this kind. I will, however, venture to say that this is the first time that the House has heard that these are the views of the right hon. Gentleman, or that he ever contemplated such a measure. I took some interest in this matter before I presided over this Department. I have watched these measures, and I have listened to the sentiments expressed at various times by the right hon. Gentleman. Well, Sir, I have been on Committees with the right hon. Gentleman. I have remarked his votes, and have heard his speeches, and having regard to those votes and speeches, I am, I think, justified in saying that I am astonished at the course he has taken to-night, I do not mean to say that we ought to look behind the scenes and search for a man's motives. If he proposes anything good, and is an influential person, we ought to get all the good we can out of it without reference to what he has done be-fore, and without taunting him with inconsistency. But in 1846 the right hon. Gentleman objected to any measure of this kind, and curiously enough, seeing the sympathy he has expressed for the poor of that country this evening, that was an Irish question. The right hon. Gentleman then said that if the House were to declare by law every Irish person in this country to 505 be irremovable they would walk over into this country in such numbers that a heavy burden would be thrown upon English parishes. Well, that did not encourage one to expect that the right hon. Gentleman would introduce the measure he has proposed to-night. But the most important occasion on which the right hon. Gentleman expressed his views was in 1847, when he took a prominent part in the Committee which sat that year on the subject of the law of removal and settlement. Some one moved that the power of removing destitute persons from one part of the country to the other should be abolished. That Motion was lost by one. I will not say that the casting vote was given by the right lion. Gentleman. But who was in the majority on that occasion? Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire. He is no young man in the consideration of these questions, and his views may well be supposed to have been matured long since. Had he changed the views he then expressed on a subsequent occasion? Mr. Baines in 1854 brought in a Bill which in its main features was passed seven years afterwards, and which contemplated the abolition of the law of settlement and removal. The right hon. Gentleman was first in the field against Mr. Baines. He said that the measure was proposed on the authority of the Reports of Commissioners, and that he did not believe a word they said, and that their Reports were not worth the paper they were written on. The right hon. Gentleman said that he know something of the poor, and that they did not want the change proposed, and that, though they might be scattered about the world, they generally entertained the wish and the hope to end their days in their several parishes, which they looked upon as their home. Well, that is not a very strong argument in his favour. I never thought he had so much objection to the system of settlement. Then be gets to the favourite topic of the shifting of burdens. He resorts to the old method of disheartening any one who brings forward a measure on the subject, and discouraging the House from accepting it. The right hon. Gentleman is not insensible to the legislation which has taken place in this House. Some persons were astonished that certain measures were allowed to pass that made this Bill necessary. Why was the measure of 1861 passed? The right hon. Gentleman did the best he 506 could to prevent it. He said that nothing could prevent the House from having to pass another measure; that there would be first a union rating, and then an abolition of the whole system. He has been consistent in his opposition to that Bill, and he opposed it tooth and nail. He has been acting in co-operation with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight). I do not know which is the leader and which is the party, but they have both acted with great authority in warning the House that they could not pass the measure of 1861 without soon passing a Bill like the present. What the right hon. Gentleman has done since this measure' has been proposed has been to throw doubt and to excite distrust and alarm in the country with regard to this Bill. Well, the divisions which have taken place do not show that the right hon. Gentleman has got that influence in the House which perhaps he ought to have, and which it might be expected that he would have. ["Question!"] The hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Cave) says "Question;" but I beg to remind the hon. Gentleman that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire stated that his object in introducing this Amendment was to test my sincerity. Well, the question that is raised will test the sincerity of more persons than one, for I say, notwithstanding that the hon. Gentleman cries "Question," that people out of this House are very much interested and very much in earnest with respect to this subject. They want to know what course the right hon. Gentleman has taken hitherto—whether he has been always consistent, and what lie has been doing since the measure was introduced. I say the public want some explanation of all this. The right hon. Gentleman has been alarming the whole country. He says it is a rash, a hasty, an ill-considered measure—I think he even called it "a social revolution." When this measure, to which the only objection is that it is moderate, that it is careful, that it is only a step in the right direction, is thus spoken of by the right hon. Gentleman, and by those Gentlemen who are supposed to be authorities on all that is safe and conservative, I think we have a right to ask what is the character of this Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman proposes—whether it is more reasonable, more moderate and, more cautious that the one which I have proposed to the House. The right hon. Gentleman 507 remembers, I dare say, the speech which Sir James Graham made upon the Bill of 1861. He knows that Sir James Graham was extremely anxious not only to pass the Bill before the House but to go the length of the right hon. Gentleman; and in the division to which I have already referred it will be found that Sir James Graham voted for the abolition of removal, while the right hon. Gentleman opposite voted against it. Sir James Graham seeing the Bill proposed in 1861, gave it his hearty support, and why?—because he thought it would lead eventually and safely to carrying the other measures. He explained on that occasion the measure of Mr. Baines, which had been submitted to Lord Aberdeen's Cabinet, and he stated in this House, what he told me privately, that he thought the Bill of Mr. Baines went too far, for Mr. Baines proposed three things,—the total abolition of all compulsory removal, the extension of the area from parochial to union, and the establishment of an equal assessment of all rateable property. Sir James Graham said that Mr. Baines proposed to put the three things into one Bill and that therefore it failed, and he added that he approved himself of proceeding gradually. Now, Sir James Graham was sincere, and gave proof of his sincerity when he voted in Committee. He had nothing to gain by voting as he did; he knew the subject well, he had been always considering how to pass Bills for the purpose of getting rid of the question of settlement and removal. Almost the last speech he made in this House was upon this subject, and he expressed his entire approval of the gradual proceedings of the Government in this matter. Well, that Bill of 1861 was passed. And then he said that the next step was to extend the rating from the parish to the union, but he added, "Don't alarm the people, don't attempt too much at one time, because if you do you will do nothing at all." Well, I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire is pretty much of the same opinion. The right hon. Gentleman is as sagacious a man as Sir James Graham was, and he probably thinks if we only propose too much it can be thrown out altogether. I think that is very likely. I do not say it is the object of the right hon. Gentleman, but I say it is likely to occur, and I must say that the right hon. Gentleman has done everything he could to prevent the passing of this Bill. If the right hon. 508 Gentleman had said from the first, "I don't quite agree with you; I think you don't go far enough; I will go further," then all men would say, "You are a consistent man, you are sincere, and we will follow you." But when we see the right hon. Gentleman upholding what he calls the parochial system, condemning every measure of a different kind, denying all the facts upon which we recommend the abolition of removal, steadily opposing this measure—first in the field against it, last in the field against it, and, only when he finds overwhelming majorities on the other side, proposing something which will not be carried but which he thinks, if carried, would be rejected either upon the third reading of the Bill or in another place, I think the public will see these things and understand them. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman and his godfather in this movement, the hon. Baronet the Member for Somersetshire (Sir William Miles), that I am as favourable as they can be to the abolition of removal. I must do the hon. Baronet the justice to say that he has been consistent in this matter, for he voted in Committee against the right hon. Gentleman. Now, that is one redeeming feature in his career. Now, what do sincere men say as to the best way of carrying out the object of the Amendment, because I do not deny that it would be an immense advantage to get rid of this system of removal. But this is a question of means, and you must look to what is recommended as a means of carrying the proposed abolition into effect. You must distrust, and I distrust, any gift coming from such a Greek as that. He has been always opposed to abolition, and I have a right to distrust him, suddenly bringing such gifts as these. Sir, I do not believe that you could get this Bill through if you were to carry that Amendment, and that is one reason why I oppose it. I believe it impossible. No notice was given to the public—you have taken them by surprise. [Mr. HENLEY: Hear, hear!] I do not exactly know what that cheer means. It may mean that the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied with the course which he has taken, and that he has proposed this Amendment, knowing pretty well what would happen. But I want to carry this Bill, and I do not want it thrown out, though anybody else may want the Amendment. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) spoke to-night. I think the hon. Gentleman is 509 right when he declines to vote for anything which is not open, and therefore I hope the House will not trust or fly away to these new authorities upon the subject, who promise such fine things if you only get rid of removal altogether. But I am not at all sure that those are not right who say that it is objectionable to pass all at once, from the present system which has lasted so long—which I will even say has lasted too long—to quite another system. I am not at all sure that they are not right in saying that alarm and perhaps confusion would be created by doing so, and that it is far better to go first through the transition state which is proposed by this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have explained how what he proposes would work—whether arrangements have been made, and the country has been prepared for it. A man of sense, who was honest in the matter, in proposing the enactment of such a measure, must see that all the arrangements and management must be different. We must have uniformity of management throughout the kingdom. It will not do to pass this Amendment, and tell the world to-morrow morning that you have done away with removal. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman knows that such a proceeding would lead to confusion, because the systems of management are different in different parts of the United Kingdom-—in England, in Scotland, in Ireland, and in the islands which surround us, and abuses would be sure to follow from not having the same system. For instance, I have refused to approve any system which does not treat the Irish pauper in the same manner as the English. But the Irish system is different. No outdoor relief is given in Ireland, but the great majority of the relief given in England is outdoor relief, and the effect of that would be, without remov-ability, to bring a number of paupers into England, which would lead to much abuse. There are whole classes of persons who may be destitute, who might come here and could not be removed, and we should be obliged to support for ever such persons as the sick, the old, and, above all, insane people. You might have lunatics sent over from Ireland and from the Channel Islands. The hon. Member for Lincolnshire laughs at the idea; but he ought to know that that is one of the heaviest charges to which we could be subjected. Under the Amendment proposed lunatics and other persons 510 might be sent here, and you could not remove them or inquire into their circumstances. That would be very tempting to other countries to send their poor here. Have hon. Members opposite considered these matters and considered what would be the effect of this change? Are the workhouses large enough, are the relieving officers numerous enough, for the persons who in some parts of the country might suddenly come for relief? We must make some preparation for such a change of system and total change of principle. Has anything been proposed much more reckless than this Amendment? In other matters the right hon. Gentleman is very careful, and I feel sure that if I had made this proposal he would have been the first man to make the remarks which I am now making. He has said that he will put my sincerity to the test, Well, my sincerity is not at all affected by what he has proposed. I should be glad to see the system of removal abolished, and I propose this measure as an instalment, just as I have brought forward two other measures leading to that abolition; but I wish to give the public the opportunity after it has passed of judging whether that which we wish ultimately to adopt can be safely adopted. I must, therefore, object to this Amendment, I do not believe the country is prepared for it, and I cannot think that it is proposed with that earnestness and sincerity which such a measure involving so considerable a change demands. My hon. Friend (Mr. Kekewich) has upon the paper a notice of a Motion to the effect that paupers who have resided for one year in a place shall be irremovable. That is a greater change than I proposed, and I believe it would be a great improvement. But I ask the Committee to consider that proposal before adopting any greater change—to consider what this measure will be if coupled with the Amendment of my hon. Friend—whether that would not be a great change and improvement, and enough for the present? I think that with the good sense which it always exhibits the House will be of opinion that such a change would be sufficient for the present year.
After the honour which the right hon. Gentleman has done me in going back for eighteen years and tracing my opinions during that time, I hope that the Committee will not grudge me a few minutes. And I wish the Committee and I wish the country to observe 511 this—The right hon. Gentleman has twice said that I propose to give to the country more than he doe3, and I wish the country to consider it. Twice the right hon. Gentleman has said that what I propose is a good measure and will benefit the poor, but that be will not have it because it is proposed from the other side. Now, as to the details which the right hon. Gentleman has dug up. He said I expressed certain opinions about the removability of Irish paupers in 1846. But what was the state of Ireland in 1846? Eight millions of people were starving and dying by thousands, in spite of all your care and of all the money voted by Parliament. Was that a time to do away with the power of removal from this country? Is there any fairness in bringing forward such a charge? It is perfectly well known that I have been a consistent supporter of the parochial system. But when the House has decided on doing away with the parochial system, what inconsistency is there in my trying, in good faith, to introduce a measure which every authority and every person who has given evidence respecting it says could not be introduced while the parochial system lasted? What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by bringing that forward as an evidence of inconsistency? He says that after this measure has been carried so far by overwhelming majorities, then, without the knowledge of the country, I bring this proposal before the House. Now, in anything be more palpably untrue? I say that such a statement is positively untrue, and the right hon. Gentleman must know it. Immediately after the second reading of the Bill, I put a notice upon the votes that I should propose clauses to do away with removals. What does the right hon. Gentleman mean, then, by saying that I am taking the House by surprise? By no Parliamentary course that I could have taken could I have placed the House in earlier possession of what I proposed doing.
had the greatest possible respect for the right hon. Gentleman, but he rose to order. He said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman ought to be allowed to retract the charge he had made that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers) had stated what was absolutely untrue and what he must have known was untrue.
If the word "untrue" be unparliamentary, I should be the last person to insist on it. But, when the fact is that after the second reading, but before 512 the recess, I put a public notice upon the votes for the abolition of removals, it is neither just nor accurate to say that I waited until the overwhelming majority of the other night, and now, to the surprise of the whole country, make this proposal. Some allowance must be made for one's feelings under such circumstances. I think that every sort of charge that could possibly be made against mc was made by the right hon. Gentleman. But I do not think his language will be forgotten:—"I admit your proposal is for the benefit of the poor and for the advantage of the whole country, but I won't have it, because you have opposed my Bill, and therefore, though I am now trying to make it better, I mean to resist your Amendment." The plain English of the right hon. Gentleman's opposition to the Amendment is because it conies from the opposition side of the House. He admits it to be good, but he will not have it in consequence. It is perfectly true that in 1854 many of us doubted whether this could be done. But has nothing happened in the meantime? First we had irremovability after five years, and we said there was no difficulty in that. That went on for a time, and the five years were reduced to three; and in that change also we found there was no difficulty. Step by step we have made these changes. The right hon. Gentleman says:—"Let us be more cautious, lot us wait another year." I say we have had experience enough, and that we may safely abolish the liability to removal altogether, getting rid of that which the right hon. Gentleman himself admits to be a mischievous system. There will never be a more favourable time, for you can hardly expect a time of more general prosperity throughout the country. To frighten us the right hon. Gentleman has conjured up something horrible about lunatics and other people coming over here. Will not all these dangers exist, with only an infinitesimal difference, if the measure abolishes liability to removal after one year's residence? It cannot be argued that there is safety in one year's settlement and danger in abolishing settlement altogether. I am surprised that, instead of discussing this question upon its merits, the right hon. Gentleman should have pointed out what he thinks are inconsistencies in my opinions. I say that I have been always a consistent supporter of the parochial system, and I believe it would have been better for the poor; but, the House having decided to do away with it, I am not inconsistent in try- 513 ing to render the change as beneficial to the poor as I can, and in doing away with some of the evils which, under the parochial system, could not be altogether got rid of. There is a balance of evils and benefits. We gain on the one hand, and lose on the other. But I have no doubt whatever that, if the large areas are introduced, this system of removal ought to be abolished. Something has been said about vagrancy. Have not people more trust in the working men of this country—men who go about seeking for labour—than to think that they would become vagrants? The vagrant is as different from the working man as chalk from cheese. Their faces, their hands, their appearance generally all tell the tale. Now, so long as the power of removal exists, you will never get rid of the vagrant class, because the parochial authorities are afraid to deal with them. They shove them on from one place to another to get rid of them, because they are afraid of the expense of having to remove them. But if the power of removal was abolished, they would be treated very differently, and the guardians would be able to discriminate between the vagrant and the working man.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
said, he wished to say a word upon the unfair and unfounded insinuation made by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) that this Amendment was proposed for the sake of defeating the Bill. Up to this time he had strongly opposed the Bill, believing that it would do great injury to the poor; but he was of opinion that the Amendment would prove such a boon to the poor that if it were carried he should offer no further opposition to the Bill.
said, that having been connected with the Poor Law Board for some years, he hoped the House would give him its attention for a minute or two. He wished to state what he was sure the light hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) would believe that it was from no want of respect to him, but on the contrary, that he had made the observations he had done. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman in the regret that he had expressed that there should be any recriminations from one side or the other on a subject of the sort. He wished now to call the attention of the Committee to a fact which he thought had not been noticed. If the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman were carried there would be some 30,000 to 40,000 people now receiving 514 relief as removable poor out of charity who would become chargeable to the parishes in which they resided. There was no inconsistency in the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) saying that he was in favour of the Amendment, but that he was not in favour of it at that moment. His belief was that the right hon. Gentleman wished to come to that which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Henley) had proposed. With regard to the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Devon (Mr. Kekewich), he was prepared to support it.
§ Question put, "That the words 'When any' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 184; Noes 110: Majority 74.
MR. KEKEWICH moved at end of clause, to add—
Provided, That, from and after the twenty-fifth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, the period of one year shall be substituted for that of three years specified in the 1st Section of the Statute 24 & 25 Vict. c. 55.
He said he had placed that proviso on the paper because he thought it was in itself a good and just Amendment, and also, because, in his opinion, the change proposed by such a measure should be gradual and not too sudden. Again, he would on no account do anything that could by possibility endanger the Bill, which was, he believed, one of the most valuable Bills ever brought before Parliament. He had been chairman of a very large rural Board of Guardians for more than twenty years, and during the whole of that time he had wished to see the carrying out of that measure, the result of which, they might say, would be to do away with settlement and removal. There seemed to be a general agreement in the Committee, and also in the country, on that question; and after the debate which had just taken place it appeared that there was to be no further opposition to the Bill, which his right hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers) would have the credit of carrying. The measure was one which had been shadowed forth from (the moment that the Poor Law Amendment Act was introduced; it was advocated by his excellent friend the late Mr. Charles Buller, by Mr. Baines, and all the best authorities in the country; in his own I district he had never heard two opinions on I the subject, and all he could now wish was that the Bill might have a safe passage through Parliament. He understood that his proviso would be accepted by the Com-
mittee, and he thought it would effect a great improvement in the Bill.
Amendment proposed, at end of Clause 2 to add,
Provided, That, from and after the twenty-fifth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, the period of one year shall be substituted for that of three years specified in the 1st Section of the Statute 24 & 25 Vict. c. 55."—(Mr. Kekewich.)
§ MR. LOCKE
said, the Select Committee had recommended that in the event of any extension of the area of rating being effected, the necessities of the metropolis should be taken into consideration. He had stated when the Bill was introduced that it would confer no benefit on the metropolis, but would rather entail inconvenience. The metropolitan Members had supported the Bill, and on the last division be bad gone into the lobby with the ayes, as he wished to support a measure which was for the good of the country. The Irremovable Poor Act, reducing the period of irremovability from five years to three years, had thrown a greatly increased burden on the poorer parishes of the metropolis; and if the three years were still further reduced to one, as proposed by that proviso, it was obvious that the injustice done to such poor parishes as St. George the Martyr, Southwark, which had to support the work-people employed in the richer parishes though residing in theirs when they happened to fall into distress, would be infinitely aggravated. Moreover, when the 4,000 poor persons now congregated on the site of the proposed new Law Courts were turned out of their homes, they would have to seek refuge in other districts, and would become chargeable there. It was plain, therefore, that the case of the metropolis required special consideration, and he appealed to the President of the Poor Law Board to pledge himself to bring in at an early period—say, next Session at the latest—a measure to remedy the evils which must fall on the poorer London parishes through the operation of this Bill. That might he accomplished by establishing one rate for the metropolis, and by treating the whole metropolis as one union, as suggested by the hon. Baronet (Sir William Miles). That principle had been sanctioned by the Committee, over which the right hon. Gentleman had presided, and also by the House, and he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to give effect to it by legislation. As the wants of the metropolis had been hitherto ignored, it would be but 516 right that it should be excepted from the operation of the proposed proviso.
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, he joined in the appeal made to the right hon. Gentleman by the lion. Member for Southwark; but thought it would not be necessary to except the metropolis from the proviso, if the right hon. Gentleman would pledge himself next Session to bring in such a Bill as the hon. Member had sketched out, because it was only after the expiration of one year that the effect of the measure would be felt he thought that if the details of the Bill were interfered with one by one, great injustice would be done to sectional interests. As he understood the Amendment, the one year's irremovability would not affect the metropolis, and therefore it would not be necessary to bring in a Bill to alter the area of charge in the metropolis until next year. Considering the distinct conclusions at which the Committee arrived, he thought the right hon. Gentleman should pledge himself to bring in a Bill next year which would relieve the metropolis and other large towns from the injury which the Bill—on the whole a good one—would inflict in its present shape. Unless the right hon. Gentleman assured them that the measure would not remain permanently on the statute book in its present crude form, he would find difficulty in passing it through the other House of Parliament.
§ MR. BRISCOE
said, that he supported the Amendment, and believed that the measure altered in that respect would be received with satisfaction as a wise and prudent one throughout the country.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he thought the noble Lord opposite (Lord Robert Cecil) had taken the right view, as it would be objectionable to adopt exceptional legislation for the metropolis. But it was necessary that the right hon. Gentleman should give some assurance that he would in a future year take some steps to relieve the poorer parishes from the gross injustice under which they now suffered, and which would be greatly aggravated by the adoption of the Amendment. If there was any sense of justice in the House they would make the metropolis one rating district, if they abolished the law of settlement and removal or reduced the term requisite for rendering a pauper irremovable.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, that he adopted, with great satisfaction, the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for South Devon (Mr. Kekewich), who was deservedly a great authority on the subject. Considering what it was possible to pass 517 with safety and satisfaction to the rate payers, he thought the proposition of the hon. Member was the very best that could be made. Some experience had been obtained of the results of people coming into the towns and establishing themselves where they were not settled; and it was found that the large majority of the working class who came for the purpose of obtaining work found it, whilst those who did not became destitute and sought relief. But if they took relief at all, it was generally in the first year; and if so fortunate as to get employment in the first year, they were then seldom heard of. He, therefore, thought the experiment of the hon. Member might be tried with perfect safety. There was a general impression that a right to permanent relief should be obtained by domicile or by industrial occupation in the district. He had instituted inquiries as to the practice on the Continent, where, although there were no Poor Laws, there were large funds for the relief of the poor, and he found that the general practice was to regard the right to permanent relief as conferred either by residence or industrial occupation in the district for a given period. He, therefore, thought the Amendment might very readily be assented to. But he did not think that an assent to the Amendment raised the question to which the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Locke) had referred. There was, no doubt, a great practical grievance that those parishes were most burdened with poor which were least able to bear the charge. The consequence was that a heavy burden was cast upon the owners of property in the poorer parishes, and that the poor themselves received relief only under the most stringent rules. Great inequality between some wealthy parishes with few poor and poor parishes with many poor should be redressed in some way, and this Bill to a certain extent recognized the principle upon which an Amendment should be based, for it recognized and carried out the principle of an extension of the area of rating. Hon. Members had urged that where a man fell ill there he should be relieved; but at present a man falling ill at St. George's, Hanover Square, was relieved by St. George's-in-the-East. The whole country appeared to be struck with this inequality between the wealthy and the poor parishes; and he (Mr. C. P. Villiers) certainly thought a year could scarcely pass—considering the advanced opinions which had been expressed in the House in the course of the debate—opinions which, 518 three years ago, would have been deemed wild upon the subject—without his hon. Friends obtaining all they wished. In his position he had seen much of the injustice and misery inflicted on the poor, and when he thought it possible to introduce a measure with any chance of success he should be very glad to do it.
§ MR. KEKEWICH
said, that a report from the Clerk of the City of London Union had first suggested to him the propriety of proposing one year for settlement. He could assure the hon. Gentlemen on the other side that he thought the case of the metropolis so exceptional that when a measure was brought in for extending the area of rating in it, and forming it into one large union, it would have his cordial support.
§ MR. WARNER
said, he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. P. Villiers) had accepted the Amendment. Ultimately we must come to the abolition of settlement and removal altogether, and the enlargement of union rating in the metropolis. The Bill would produce a great improvement in the condition of the poor, and would relieve many parishes from unjust burdens which they at present bore. He hoped that they would in time come to a county rating, and perhaps to some national provision for the poor.
§ LORD FERMOY
said, there was no argument in favour of a general rate throughout the metropolis which did not apply equally to a general rate all over the country. He wished it, however, to be distinctly understood that the great majority of the metropolis did not share in the feelings of Southwark and the Tower Hamlets as represented by their Members (Mr. Locke and Mr. Ayrton).
§ MR. LOCKE
said, he thought the noble Lord had forgotten all the evidence and arguments which were adduced before the Committee on Metropolitan Rating. The Resolution of the Committee was unanimously agreed to, and not a witness from Marylebone appeared—the noble Lord not excepted—before them against it. No question of national rating was ever entertained—the subject considered was merely a rate for the whole metropolis. He regretted that the noble Lord now expressed his disapproval of that Resolution.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS moved the following clauses to follow Clause 3:—519
Clause A. (Signature and service of Notices and other Documents.)
Every notice, statement, demand, or other document, required to be given by any such guardians, in respect of any order of removal, shall be deemed to be sufficiently authenticated if signed by their clerk in their name, and shall be deemed to be duly served upon the guardians to whom it shall be addressed if it be delivered to their clerk personally, or be left at his office, or be sent through the post, addressed to him at such office.
Clause B. (Guardians empowered to call for books and papers from the overseers.)
For better enabling the guardians to obtain such orders of removal, or to appeal against the same, they may order the overseers of the poor, or any officer, or other person having the custody of any books, papers, documents, or writings, of or belonging to any parish in their union, to produce the same upon reasonable notice to the board of guardians, or to their clerk, or other person appointed by them, and shall allow copies or extracts to be taken therefrom, for the use of such guardians, without fee or reward.
§ Clauses agreed to and added to the Bill.
§ Clause 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5 (Paupers removing after Order of Removal punishable as Vagrants).
§ SIR BALDWIN LEIGHTON
said, he thought the clause might be omitted, as there was no Board of Guardians but would refuse outdoor relief to those returning after removal, except under exceptional circumstances.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, the clause was simply a repetition of the law as it existed, and he thought it was advisable to maintain the check.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 6 agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT ENFIELD moved the following clause to follow Clause 6:—
(Provision for deaths in the workhouse.—And for registration fees.—(See 7 & 8 Vict. c. 101, s. 56.)
For the purposes of the burial of any poor person dying in the workhouse of any union, such workhouse shall be considered as situated in the parish in the union where such poor person resided last, previously to his removal to the workhouse; and all fees for registering births and deaths in the same shall be charged by the guardians to the common fund.
§ Clause agreed to and added to the Bill.
§ Clause 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8 (Computation of the Charges on the Common Fund).
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS moved in line 3, after "contributions," to insert "to the common fund."
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ VISCOUNT ENFIELD moved the following clause to follow Clause 9:—
(Unions under Local Acts enabled to avail themselves of this Act.)
If, in any union or incorporation for the relief of the poor, where the cost thereof is not borne by a common fund, the body having under the constitution of such union or incorporation the management of such relief, shall be desirous of adopting the provisions of this Act, such body may, on a resolution to that effect of a majority at two successive meetings, by writing under the hands of the presiding chairman of the second of such meetings, apply to the Poor Law Board to be included in this Act; and upon the consent of that board being given under its seal to such application, such union or incorporation shall be so included from such time as the said board shall declare; and such consent so signified shall be evidence that such application was in all respects duly made according to the provisions above mentioned.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, these local corporations, under their own Acts, were peculiarly jealous of their own privileges, and a number of them had applied to be excluded from the Act. In the face of the strong feeling against the centralization, he did not think they could make the clause compulsory.
§ Clause agreed to and added to the Bill.
§ Clause 10 (Interpretation Clause.)
MR. C. P. VILLIERS moved at end of clause to add—
and the provisions in such Act which apply to poor persons rendered chargeable upon the common fund by reason of their having become irremovable through the operation of the statutes in that behalf, shall apply to all the poor in the union hereby rendered chargeable upon the common fund.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
said, that he moved the addition of the following clause at the request of his constituents:—When this Act has been adopted by any such Union or Incorporation as aforesaid, and such Adoption has been legally brought into operation in such Union or Incorporation, the Body having the Management of the Relief of the Poor therein shall from Time to Time make Calls in advance for Money for the Relief of such Poor upon the Overseers of the several Parishes therein respectively, on the Basis of an equal Pound Rate on the annual Value of the Property in each Parish rateable to the Relief of the Poor according to the Law in force for the Time being, and shall have the same Powers of enforcing such Calls as they now possess under the Provisions of such Local Act for enforcing Calls or Rates for the Relief of the Poor; and such Overseers shall have the same Powers for making, levying, and enforcing Rates to meet and pay such Calls as they now possess, either under the Provisions of such Local Act or the General Law relating to the making, levying, and enforcing Rates for the Relief of the Poor.
§ Clause agreed to.521
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he wished to give notice that on the bringing up of the Report he should move a clause to the effect that persons over seventy should have the option of receiving outdoor relief; and he should also on that occasion take the sense of the House upon the justice of the Bill itself.
§ MR. CAVE
, who had placed an Amendment on the paper for the insertion of a clause including mines in rateable property, said that the clause had, since he had placed it upon the paper, attracted great attention in those parts of the country most interested. The present state of things was extremely vague and anomalous. Coal was the only mining produce which was liable to the poor rates, and even stone and clay, when raised to the surface by means of shafts and windlasses, were exempt from rating, though if they were taken from quarries, no matter how deep, they were subject to the rating. No one had defended the present plan, and there was no reason whatever why all mines should not be rated. Metalliferous mines undoubtedly, though frequently more profitable, were more irregular in their returns than coal mines, but that very irregularity was an argument in favour of their being rated, because when the profits were small the wages of the men were reduced and the amount of pauperism, consequently, increased. There might be some slight difficulty as to the details, but the mode of rating would be decided by the tribunals of the country, as it had been in the case of coal he understood that he was not in order in proposing the insertion of the clause, but he wished to take the opinion of the Chairman upon the subject. He might add that, if he were not allowed to introduce it, he should consider it his duty to bring in a Bill at some future time for the purpose of effecting the object which he had in view. He had already on a former occasion explained this subject, and would not now detain the House. He should, therefore, pro formâ, move the insertion of the following clause:—Whereas by the Act 43 Elizabeth, chapter 2, section 1, coal mines are made liable to poor rates: Be it Enacted That from and after the passing of this Act all other mines of every description shall in like manner be rateable to the relief of the poor.
said, that the clause moved by the lion. Member had no relation to the subject of the Bill, and could not, therefore, be inserted.
SIR BALDWIN LEIGHTON moved the addition of the following clause:—
And be it enacted, that when an appeal is brought against the poor rate of any parish, which may appear to involve some common principle, it shall be lawful for the Board of Guardians or overseers, or other authorities, where there shall be no Board of Guardians who may be interested in the decision of such common principle, to enter into an agreement, to be approved of by the Poor Law Board, mutually to bear the cost which may be properly incurred in and about the trial of such appeal on the part of the respondents, as well as costs of the appellants, if any, which may be awarded against the respondents, in such proportions as shall be fixed and determined with reference to the amount of interest of the several parishes in the question, or otherwise, as shall appear just; and the said agreement shall continue binding upon the several boards of guardians, overseers, or other authorities in succession, until the appeal shall have been finally determined.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, the clause was not within the scope of the Bill. It belonged more properly to the Union Assessment Act. It was, however, his intention to bring in a Bill for the renewal of the Poor Law Commission; and in which Bill several amendments of the law would be proposed. He had no objection to the amendments embodied in the proposed clause, but he thought they might be more properly introduced into the Bill he had referred to.
§ Clause negatived.
§ SIR JOHN JOHNSTONE moved the following clause:—
(Increase in liability caused by this Act to be made gradually.)
With respect to every parish in every such Union there shall be calculated for the year commencing the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, the amount for which every such parish would have been liable if all the cost for the relief of the poor in the Union had been charged on the common fund:
There shall also be calculated the amount for which every such parish would have been liable if this Act had not passed:
The difference between the former and latter sum shall be ascertained:
In every parish where the former sum is larger than the latter the amount for which such parish shall be liable, for the year commencing the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, shall be the latter sum, together with one-fifth of the said difference:
In every parish where the former sum is less than the latter the amount for which such parish shall be liable, for the year commencing the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, shall be the latter sum, after deducting thereform one-fifth of the said difference:
In the years commencing the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, and one thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine, the amount for which every parish shall be liable, shall be calculated in like manner, after adding or subtracting, as the case may be, two-fifths, three-fifths, and four-fifths of such difference respectively; and for the year commencing the twenty-sixth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and seventy, and all subsequent years, the whole cost of the relief to the poor in every such Union shall be charged upon the common fund.
He said there were very many unions where great agricultural districts were joined with large towns, and where the immediate adoption of the provisions of the Bill would entail a large and sudden increase in liability. His object was, if possible, to bring the Bill into operation by instalments, as it were, without compelling unions at once to adopt the whole. The Bill would cause a considerable displacement in the value of property. The proposal he made was, he thought, calculated to ease the action of the measure without affecting its ultimate objects. The period he had fixed upon within which the Bill should be brought into operation was five years, but he should not object to three years, if the right hon. Gentleman preferred that. He thought a little time ought to be given to enable landlords to make fresh agreements with their tenants where, in many instances, the rates would be doubled. What he intended to effect might be illustrated in this way. If there were two parishes forming a union, one of them having a rate of £20, and the other of £40, the new union rating would be £30. Now, instead of at once raising the rate from £20 to £30, he would raise it £2 a year for five years. He thought that in parishes where the rate was to be raised the parishioners would rather receive the alteration in homæopathic doses than all at once. He had presented a petition from his own union (Scarborough) against certain parts of the Bill, but the town he represented was in its favour, and would gain £1,100 or £1,200 a year by it. He had no private interest to serve in this matter. Every labourer on his estate might have a cottage if he chose; if he did not it was his own fault; but there were a great many parishes in his union where the rates would be doubled, and he only asked that a little time should be allowed to smooth the passage of the Bill through the House, and prepare the unions for its reception.
§ Clause (Increase in liability caused by this Act to be made gradually,)—(Sir John Johnstone,) brought up, and read 1°.
§ MR. C. P. VILLIERS
said, he had understood that the hon. Baronet would not propose his clause on the present occasion, but would bring it up upon the Report. He (Mr. C. P. Villiers) had given the clause every consideration, but he was not prepared to adopt it. Several other Members had proposed clauses of the same kind, but had withdrawn them owing to the complication which must arise from the postponement of the measure so long. The clause also had this peculiarity, that it did not admit of the full advantage being given to the poor for five years. His hon. Friend had not stated a very strong case. His own union, that of Scarborough, he said, was anxious for the measure; but he doubted if there were many unions where the increased value of land was so enormous as in that neighbourhood, and where it was still increasing so fast. Scarborough was rapidly becoming one of the most important places in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and he found upon inquiry that if the ratio of all the unions in that district were equalized they would only amount to 1s. in the pound. In consequence of the prosperity of the town the value of property in the neighbourhood was greatly on the increase, and therefore it would be well able to bear the additional amount of taxation. He could not accede to the insertion of the proposed clause, as it would lead to an enormous amount of trouble, without effecting much real good.
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, he objected to the right hon. Gentleman treating this clause as though it particularly referred to Scarborough. There would be many cases of hardship occur under the Bill; such, for instance, as that of a man who had just taken a lease of a farm with low poor rate; for he would find his liability largely and suddenly increased by it. The lion. Baronet had proposed his Amendment with reference to the general interest, and not that of Scarborough only. He believed the small landowners and tenant-farmers would suffer severely through the operation of the Bill, yet he thought it would be scarcely worth while to press this clause upon the House.
§ LORD GEORGE CAVENDISH
said, that the burden created by this Bill would not fall upon the large landowners, who 525 would gain in one parish what they lost in another, but upon the small landowners and farmers; and he thought that the matter would be very much eased if the change were made gradual, and extended over several years. He would prefer seeing the clause inserted, but would be sorry to endanger the safety of the Bill by pressing it.
§ Clause read 1°.
§ Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 14; Noes 73: Majority 59.
(Assessment of all woodlands.)
And whereas by the Act forty-three Elizabeth, chapter two, section one, it is provided that underwood be liable to assessment for the relief of the poor; Be it enacted, That all woodlands he hereafter liable to assessment upon the average net annual value thereof.
§ But as it was of a cognate character with that of the hon. Member for Worcestershire (Mr. Knight), he should not move it. He understood that the President of the Poor Law Board had given a promise that he would next Session bring in a Rating Bill; he (Mr. Hubbard) would then move for the insertion of clauses for rating stock-in-trade, and for abolishing the exemptions which created so much difficulty.
SIR JOHN JOHNSTONE
said, that he had not called for a division upon the clause which he proposed, because his right hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers) was under a misapprehension that he intended to bring it up on the Report.
said, he thought it doubtful whether a taxing clause, such as was proposed by the hon. Baronet, could be brought up on the Report. It was not worth while to move any Amendment upon the Preamble; but he thought that it would have been nearer the truth if the Bill, instead of being described as "for the better distribution of the charge for the relief of the poor," had been stated to be "for the relief of certain towns returning Members to Parliament from their fair share of the burdens of the country."
§ Preamble agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered on Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 155.]