Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

considered a sufficient declaration the services of those who achieved of the sentiments of the govern- it. The political questions conment. He did not accept the dictum nected with the Syrian war did of the honourable member for Dub- not arise upon the present occasion. lin, nor feel bound to his alterna- But, referring to the improvements tive of conservatism or repeal. of modern times in the arts and

The subject was then dropped. machinery of war, he wished to

In the house of lords, on the 4th observe that their successful results of February, the earl of Minto were owing in a great degree to moved the thanks of the house to the character of the men who had admiral sir Robert Stopford, G.C.B., applied and directed them-a chaand the officers and men under his racter formed and exalted by the comtnand in the late operations on institutions of a great and free the coast of Syria. His lordship country, and combining in a repaid a just tribute to the merits of markable degree the qualities of that portion of the British fleet valour and of prudence. which had been employed on this Lord Stanley seconded the mooccasion. After a few words of tion. He agreed that the political approbation from lord Colchester, merits of the contest were not now the duke of Wellington, in terms in discussion ; the present duty of of the most earnest and cordial na- the house was only to record their ture, expressed his admiration of high opinion of the officers and the services performed by those men who had done so much honour engaged in the glorious expedition to their country. He was anxious, under discussion. He considered on the part of his own side of the the present achievement one of the house, to express, that whatever greatest deeds of modern times, but might be the differences of party, thought it his duty to warn their there was but one feeling among lordships that they must not al- men of all politics on the subject ways expect that ships, however of the country's success, and of the well commanded, or however gal gallantry of her forces. lant their seamen might be, could Viscount Ingestre, sir R. H. Ingbe capable of engaging success- lis, and other members, warmly supfully with stone walls. The vote ported the motion, which was carwas then carried unanimously, and ried unanimously. on the following day lord John On the 6th of April, a letter Russell moved the thanks of the from sir Robert Stopford, acknowhouse of commons to the same gal- ledging in suitable terms the vote lant individuals. He gave a short of thanks, was read to the house narrative of the reduction of Acre, by the speaker, and ordered to be and bestowed a warm eulogy on entered on the journals.

CHAPTER II.

Poor Law Amendment Act--Expiration of the power of the Commis

sioners-State of Public Opinion and division of Parties with respect to the Law-Efforts of the Press-Lord John Russell moves for leave to bring in a Bill_Vehement Opposition of Mr. Wakley and other Members - Speeches of Sir F. Burdett and Lord John RussellDebate on second ReadingSpeeches of Mr. D'Israeli, Mr. Wakley, Mr. Gally Knight, Sir Robert Peel, Viscount Howick, and Lord John Russell Division on the second Reading - Motion of Mr. Townley Parker, that the Bill should be committed that day six months, rejected by a large majority-Strictures of Sir Roberi Peel on the language used by the Commissioners in their public Documents Observations of Lord G. Somerset and Viscount Sandon to a similar effect Renewal of power of Commissioners for five years carried - Discussion upon Union Schools and compulsory Education-Speech of Sir Robert Peel thereupon-- Mr. Colquhoun's motion for the appointment of Chaplains to UnionsRemarks-Ultimate fute of the Bill at the dissolution of Parliament - Return of Mr. Walier for NottinghamProgress and working of the Poor Law in IrelandInquiry in the House of Lords respecling Clonmel Union-Resolution of the House respecting the Secretary to the Poor Law Commissioners in Ireland.

THE powers of the poor-law the laws relating to the poor in

commissioners, wbich had England.” been limited by the act of parlia- Although much diversity of opiment to a period of five years, nion, and even considerable excitewould, in due course, have expired ment of feeling, existed at this at the close of the present year. time with respect to the principles The speech from the throne ad- and working of the new poor-law, verted to this among the very few perhaps upon no single measure topics of domestic concern which introduced of late years has the were touched upon, as calling for public mind been less affected by the earnest and immediate atten- those party feelings which inflution of parliament. Accordingly, ence the views taken of almost on the 29th of January, lord John every question submitted to the Russell moved, in the house of legislature. The whigs, as a body, commons, for leave to bring in might indeed be said generally to "A bill to continue the poor law be in favour of the new system, commission for a time to be limited, but among those who usually supand for the further amendment of ported them, though differing by various degrees of liberalism, were for leave to bring in his proposed many who regarded with invete- bill to continue the powers of the rate hostility, and who loudly de- coinmissioners for ten years, and nounced, the law, its authors, the to make certain amendments and commissioners, and all the agents alterations in the act, several memconcerned in its execution. The bers spoke strongly in opposition language held on this subject by to it. sowe men of wild and extreme po- Mr. Wakley objected in strenulitical views was of a very inflam- ous terms to the course proposed. matory nature, and had been em. He denounced the principle of the ployed with very exciting effect on act as harsh and tyrannical, the inseveral occasions. On the other stitution of the commissioners as hand, while the leaders of the con- both expensive and useless. He servative party in parliament had was surprised that a ministry callavowed a distinct though modified ing itself reformed should propose assent to the measure, such could the continuance of such a law after by no means be described as the the experience they had had of its general feeling of that body, which pernicious and most cruel working. comprised numerous persons as de- He wished to know what duty the cidedly and strongly opposed to it as commissioners were to do; whether any among the radicals themselves, the law was to be in their will or and who frankly expressed dissent in the statute-book. The office he from their usual leaders and guides held (as coroner for Middlesex) with reference to this question. gave him opportunities of knowThe discontent felt by the oppo- ing how much the law was disnents of the measure was sedu- liked by the middle classes ; they lously fanned and kept alive by a considered that the workhouse had portion of the public press, which been made a place of torture inindustriously gave publicity to stead of protection, with a view to every case of alleged mismanage- deter the poor from asking any asment or oppression on the part of sistance. Among the poor, also, those invested with authority by the abhorrence to the only species the act, and strove to foment, upon of relief which the law allowed of popular grounds, an opposition to was still more strong. He knew the proposed renewal of the powers of two instances that occurred in of the commissioners. These ef- one week, of persons who preferred forts were not without effect, and death rather than resort to the the difficulties experienced by the workhouse ; they declared they ministers in the progress of the would rather die than be separated measure which we are now about from their children in the manner to record, may doubtless, in a great proposed by the new poor-law, measure, be referred to the active and they did die, rather than go endeavours of the press to repre- into the workhouse. The honoursent opposition to the authority of able member referred to the case of the commissioners, as an evidence the Kensington union, where, as of regard for the interests of the he alleged, fathers, mothers, sons, poorer classes, and to inculcate it and daughters were located in four as the best recommendation to different houses in different parishpopular favour.

es, and, after descanting on the On lord John Russell's moving harshness, inhumanity, and inpolicy of the law, declared his ir. expire; but he thought his duty reconcileable opposition to any ex- required him to deal positively tension of the office of the com- with so important a subject. The missioners.

labouring classes must depend on Mr. Wakley's views were sup- wages, on public relief, or on priported by several members. vate charity. The old system con

Sir F. Burdett said, he had al- founded all these, and put the ways disapproved the principle of honest and industrious on a level the new poor-law, as unconstitu- with the idle and vicious; and it tional, and repugnant to the habits pretended to do that by public reand feelings of the people; and he lief which only private charity did not think the proposed bill could effect. It was easy for the could be so framed as to render it parish officers to be charitable at a permanent measure, or one which the expense of others; but their the country ought to adopt. The alms did not create the mutual system could never be made palat- good feeling which real charity able to the people of England. begets. The amendment of the Men who loved the public liberty old law had proceeded, therefore, could never be reconciled to the upon the principle that wages tribunal at Somerset-house, and it should be a just reward for labour; tras the universal feeling, that that and thereupon it was presently at any rate should be abolished. It found that persons, before regarded was impossible to frame unbending as idle and worthless, became inlaws for remote places and un- dustrious and useful. The wise known circumstances without the principle was that of the act of the greatest mischief. He thought 43rd of Elizabeth, which distinthat parliament had done a most guished the relief of destitution dangerous thing in introducing so from the wages of work. To execruel an experiment, and he would cute the amendment of a system so support any motion for its repeal. essentially vicious, there was a

Mr. Hume urged the gross necessity for assistant as well as abuses of the old system, and the for general commissioners. Lord necessity for some such reform as Althorp had proposed to make the this law had introduced. The rules experiment under those commiswere not unbending ones—the sioners for five years, but had not commissioners had been entrusted intimated that their office was newith a discretion. Great benefit cessarily to determine at the end had been produced by the law, and of that period. He should be dethe house ought to do their best ceiving the house if he were to to make it still more useful. He hold out that there was any intendoubted, however, the expediency tion on the part of government to of extending the continuance of propose any considerable alteration the commission to so long a period or relaxation in the main prinas ten years.

ciples of the existing sytem. Lord John Russell observed, that Leave was given to bring in the it would of course be for the house bill on the 8th of February. The to determine the duration of the second reading being moved, a long commission. It would have been and important debate took place. the easiest course for himself to let Mr. D'Israeli first rose to opthe powers of the commissioners pose it, trusting that, as members had been taunted with a silence in ciple of the bill were really the the house unsuitable to their de- establishment of a distinction beclarations on the hustings, the tween vice and misfortune, no man house would indulge him with a would have objected to it; but it hearing. It was impossible, he had been honestly explained that said, to conceive any revolution the bill had no such object, that affecting more deeply than the the object of it was merely to prepoor-law the happiness of the vent the poor from starving. And people. The parochial constitution this was cheered by the liberal side of England had been destroyed for of the house ; such was the libea mere pecuniary benefit, which, rality of the reformed ministers after all, had not been obtained. and members! In the name of The expenditure was now on the the poor and laborious people, he increase ; and we should soon have appealed to the great conservative to pay, under a system of abuse, party. The landed gentlemen were as much as was paid under the the natural leaders of the people abrogated law. The statute of to them the poor must look, not to Elizabeth might be defective or the manufacturers, who wanted to obscure, but the new scheme of lower the price of bread, knowing shutting up your pauper popula- that wages must conie down in tion in prisons was, upon the prin- proportion. The commissioners, on ciples of human nature, impractic- a hint no doubt from ministers, had able. He admitted that the con- made a report, slıowing ingeniously trolling power under the new the expediency of their receiving scheme must be central, but he their salaries for ten years longer. thought it might also be local; it They said the poor showed no gramight reside in the chief city of titude; none was called for. The each district. In the bill he poor had right, by law, to the refound not only unions, with the lief they got, and owed no thanks objections belonging to them, but for that. It had been matter of unions of unions, with all these complaint that the poor-rate had objections proportionally increased. increased, but had not population Here were powers to the commis- and property increased as largely? sioners quite without precedent; In the ten years preceding the new centralization, after all, was a prin- poor law, the poor-rate had inciple rather applicable to material creased about one and a half per than to moral government. A me- cent., the population about sixteen tropolitan control might be cheaper per cent.; and the property, as and more convenient than a pro- appeared by the returns of the vincial one; it might make go- legacy-duty, had increased by the vernment strong and society weak, amount of between 6,000,0001. and but he would rather have a strong 7,000,0001. The new poor-law society and a weak government. had transferred the votes in the He was persuaded that the meu- election of guardians from the ocsure had produced much disaffec- cupiers to the owners. This was tion, and he would move that the done by a liberal government; but present bill should be read a second if this kind of liberality was still time on that day six months. to guide them, the sooner they

Mr. Wakley seconded this amend- ceased to be a government the ment. He said, that if the prin- better. The people had come to

« ForrigeFortsett »