« ForrigeFortsett »
tience with which the operatives the stock and supply of cotton, had borne their late and present and upon the unfavourable prostrials, said the Poor Law Guar- pects of the future, and he suggest. dians already had the power of ed some relaxation of the Poor dispensing with certain regula Law in the districts in question. tions if they thought fit; but, in Sir C. Wood intimated his belief the event of their doing so, they that the report of the reductions would have to report the circum- in the Indian tariff was correct. stance to the Poor-Law Board in Mr. Villiers, concurring in the London. It was, however, the description given of the extent of wish of those who were busied in suffering in the cotton districts, relieving the present distress, to and of the noble manner in which be left to their own efforts. An it had been borne, stated the inspector had been sent down to measures he had taken in anticimake inquiries as to the real state pation of the effects likely to reof the operatives of Lancashire. sult from an interruption of the He was inclined to think that the supply of cotton, and to mitigate distress was not so great as had the evil when it arrived. In rebeen represented; still, it was plying to the inquiries and sugvery alarming, and he could only gestions of Mr. Egerton and Mr. express his hope that a cessation Potter, he observed that the Poor would soon take place.
Law could not undertake to reLord Derby thought the dis- lieve persons who did not seek tress most alarming, but the relief, and whom private agents manufacturers were doing all would do well to bring under the they could to alleviate it, and notice of the poor-law authori. would continue their efforts as ties, who had the power, under long as funds lasted. In the special circumstances, to relax event of those funds being ex- the rules in respect to the adhausted, an appeal might be made ministration of out-door relief. to the charitable feelings of the But he believed the people in country, which would doubtless Lancashire would rather work be warmly responded to. Any than receive relief without work. demand, however, for public Looking at the rateable value of money to relieve present suffer. the county of Lancaster, there ings ought to be avoided, or only were at this moment ample reresorted to as a last resource. sources in the public rate. That
In the House of Commons, rateable value amounted to no also, Mr. A. Egerton asked the less a sum than 7,298,0001., and, President of the Poor-Law Board assuming that the demand for questions respecting the working relief would go on at the same of the Poor Law in the cotton rate as for the last four months, manufacturing districts, and the it would only be ls. 10d. in the Secretary of State for India whe- pound. The Government, he ther any reductions had been added, had instructed experienced decided on in the Indian Tariff; persons to proceed at once to the and, if so, when they would come cotton manufacturing districts to into operation? He dwelt upon ascertain whether the guardians the amount of suffering in Lan- were in want of information as to cashire, upon the diminution in the proper administration of the
Poor Law, and to correct any pelled the Government to adopt misapprehensions on the part of extraordinary measures, with a the local authorities.
view to alleviate its pressure, Mr. Bright said, although there and as it was thought that somewas great and growing distress in thing might be done to give the districts in question, it was greater elasticity to the machinery not 30 universal as many sup. of the Poor Laws, shortly before posed, owing to different branches the close of the Session the Mi. of trade being carried on in dif- nisters announced that they would ferent towns. The distress in the ask the sanction of Parliament county of Lancaster in 1840 and to a Bill to be introduced for this 1841 was very much greater than purpose. The charge of this at this moment. All that Go. measure devolved on Mr. C. Vil. vernment could do would only liers, the President of the Poormitigate the evil, and Mr. Villiers Law Board, who, on the 22nd of had acted humanely in inciting July, moved for leave to bring in the liberality of the guardians; a Bill to enable the Boards of but there was an immense amount Guardians in certain counties in of wealth not touched by the England to meet any extraordi. Poor Law, and it was necessarynary demands for relief. He said that there should be some private that he did not mean to imply by assistance given to the rates. this motion that the law was not Committees might be formed to adequate to meet the case, or collect subscriptions from those that any further powers were who did not pay in proportion to necessary to enforce the law; but their means. He had a strong the measure he proposed was confidence that the county felt only a precautionary one during itself quite competent to take care the recess, and he proceeded to of its own poor.
state facts that appeared to him Other members, among whom to justify it. He showed from were Mr. Hibbert, the Marquis returns the amount of distress of Hartington, Colonel Lindsay, that existed in the principal towns Mr. Bailey, and Mr. W. Egerton, in Lancashire in consequence of continued the discussion, bearing the want of employment, and the testimony to the great distress expenditure for the relief of the and suffering in Lancashire. poor, remarking that the number
Mr. Gilpin, the Secretary to of persons dependent upon the the Poor-Law Board, acknow. rates was no criterion of the ledged the existence of the evil, number destitute of employment. and believed that, unhappily, it The deposits in the savings-banks was not yet at its height. The were now, however, nearly ex. object of the Poor-Law Board, he hausted; the distress was insaid, was to administer the law creasing rapidly and extending, in a generous, but at the same and there was no prospect of its time a just, spirit, since indiscri- diminution but by the revival of minate relief had a tendency to trade. Looking to these circumdemoralize the recipients. stances and to the principle of
The urgency of the distress, the existing law, which sanctioned which increased as time went a rate-in-aid, he proposed by on, in the cotton districts, im- the Bill to give vitality to that principle, so that any parish or in Lancashire, the Government parishes, overburdened by extra would have failed in their duty if ordinary local distress and pau- they had not made some preperism, might claim a contribu- paration to meet the emergency. tion from the common fund of Lord Palmerston added some the Union, or, under certain cir- explanations as to the scope of cumstances, one Union might the measure, remarking that the call for a contribution from the Ministers were, in his opinion, other Unions in the county. He bound not to let Parliament explained the principal enact. separate without attempting to ments of the Bill, which he pro. do something to meet the aggra. posed to continue for a limited vated distress in the manufacturterm, till the 1st of March, 1863. ing districts.
Colonel Patten said he was so Leave was then given to bring convinced of the exigency of the in the Bill. case, and of the necessity of Upon the motion for the second something being done before Par- reading, Mr. Potter gave a variety liament separated, that he was of statistical details, showing the prepared to consider with the existing condition of the working greatest favour any proposition classes in the manufacturing disof the Government for relieving tricts through the want of emthe suffering districts, and would ployment and the losses suffered readily sacrifice many opinions by the mill-owners. He consi. of his own as to the remedies. dered that the Poor Laws were He hoped the Government would inadequate to deal with the case, not consider that another alter- and that some exceptional meanative-the borrowing money on sures were necessary. the security of the rates-would Colonel Wilson-Patten said so interfere with their measure, little time had been afforded for
Mr. Bouverie could not conceal considering the measure, that he from the House that the change should defer his suggestions for proposed by the Bill was a por- its amendment till the House was tentous one, and he did not in Committee. He could not help think Mr. Villiers had laid any thinking that, should the emerground for this departure from gency apprehended arise, the presthe recognized law. He believed sure of the rate under the Bill that the rate in the pound for re- would fall, in the manufacturing lief of the poor in the districts districts, upon the occupying tewhere the pressure was greatest, nant-not, as in the agricultural was not nearly so high as in districts, upon property; and he many of those in the south of urged reasons in favour of raising England. He considered that money by loans secured upon the the proposal for extending the rates, which he thought would, charge to the county, was likely in many cases, meet the emerto invito profusion and extrava. gency better than the proposed gance. The best mode of meet measure for extending the rate ing the emergency, in his opinion, with the pressure. was to stand by the ancient law. Lord Stanley agreed, to a
Mr. Gilpin said that, looking to certain extent, with Colonel the actual and increasing distress Patten, thinking it a matter for
regret that provision had not artificial causes ; and this fact been made to enable Unions, complicated the difficulty of meet. which were desirous of so doing, ing the calamity. The Poor Law to draw upon their own future was not adapted to such a state resources, by way of loan, in- of things. The practical quesstead of throwing themselves tion was, how to deal with a upon the charity of other dis- population circumstanced as that tricts. He hoped, however, that engaged in the cotton manufacno opposition would be made ture, deprived of the raw mateto the second reading. One rial. It was absurd to go back point only he wished to refer to to the Act of Elizabeth; a prinat that stage of the Bill. He ciple should be adopted that could not see why the rate-in-aid would add as little as possible to was not to come into play until the burden of those whose mills the charge for the maintenance were now working at a heavy of the poor exceeded by two. Sacrifice to their owners, who, in thirds its average height for many cases, had very little floatthe preceding three years. He ing capital, and would be ruined thought also that the area over by heavy rates laid on for the which the rate-in-aid extended sake of symmetry. The ruin of might be enlarged at once from these manufacturers would aggra. the limit of the parish to the vato and extend the distress not linit of the county.
only of operatives but of little Mr. Henley said, in attempt. shopkeepers. In his opinion, the ing to meet the crisis, the House Government and the House ought should not, if possible, take any to act on the advice of those whose false step, or lay down any false interests were at stake in this principle, and he hoped that in matter, and if parishes wished the Committee the Bill would (as he thought they did) for a be made more consistent with borrowing power on the security the old law of Elizabeth than it of the rates, spreading the burden was. He threw out a few sug- over a series of years, he thought gestions as to the effects of the it would be a very unwise interworking of the Bill; and, with ference on the part of the Goregard to borrowing of money, vernment to take upon themselves which was always a very easy the responsibility of preventing matter, he was not, on general those communities from carrying principles, fond of it. He thought out this policy. the old principle of a rate-in-aid Mr. Bouverie observed that was the soundest.
Mr. Villiers had admitted that Mr. Cobilen considered that the present means, under the Mr. Henley had founded his ordinary law, were adequate to the argument upon a fallacy. Be- present emergency. But it was fore a rate could be levied, there argued that the emergency might must be property to levy it upon. increase and the means be exIn the cotton manufacturing din. hausted, and therefore it was a tricts production could be got measure of prudence for Parliaonly by a sacrifice of capital. 'l he ment to take precautions. The paralysis in these districts had question then was, what was to arisen, not from natural, but from be done? The proposal to raise
money by loan was, in his opinion, able to loans, but at the same the very last resource to be looked time was not averse to a rate-into. A public grant was not to be aid. .. thought of. Then a rate-in-aid The second reading of the Bill was proposed; but, before this then took place, without opposiproposal was acted upon, there tion. In Committee it underwent should be some proof, which he a rather protracted discussion, had not seen, of an inability on and some importantmodifications the part of the parishes to be re- were introduced. lieved to support their own poor. The principal alteration made
Mr. Bovill criticised some of was one which was proposed the details of the Bill, and urged by Mr. Puller, and warmly upon the House that the effect of seconded by Mr. Cobden, Mr. it would be to throw the addi. Ayrton, and other members, for tional burthen, not upon property, enabling the distressed Unions to but upon occupiers.
raise money by loan, as well as Mr. Villiers, after replying to to resort to the expedient of a the criticisms of Mr. Bovill, inti- rate-in-aid. Mr. Cobden declared mated his willingness to consider that it was the unanimous wish the suggestion of authorizing of Lancashire to have borrowing parishes to raise money on the powers; and, speaking for the mortgage of the rates. It was a county, he was prepared to say resource, he observed, that should, that he would be ready to give up if possible, be avoided, and he the rate-in-aid unless it were given did not speak with confidence in conjunction with the power to about a matter which it was for borrow. the parochial authorities in Lan- Col. W. Patten also stated that cashire to consider. He justified he found it to be the general wish the step taken by the Government of his constituents in Lancashire in the introduction of this pre- that they should be enabled to cautionary measure, and the relieve themselves of part of their views upon which it was founded, burthens by loans. there being nothing new in its Mr. Villiers at first showed a principle; and replied to objec- disinclination to accede to this tions, stating the modifications in proposition. the details of the measure he was Lord Palmerston also suggested prepared to consider previous to the inconvenience that might the committal of the Bill.
arise from granting the power to Sir H. Willoughby did not con- borrow, which introduced a new sider himself pledged by assent principle into the Poor Laws. ing to the second reading to the He stated that the wealth of principle of a rate-in-aid, which Cheshire and Lancashire was it would be very difficult to carry amply sufficient to meet all deinto effect. He thought no very mands upon it. strong ground had been laid for Mr. Henley supported the proextraordinary legislation, but if position of the Government. anything were done, it would be Mr. Puller, however, succeeded safer to limit it to raising aid by in carrying his motion for the loans.
re-committal of the Bill, and it Mr. Newdegate also was favour- being evident that the majority of