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that the loose and careless adminis. as it is now interpreted) that the tration of the law, by which it has State is to find work for all who ia been aggravated, will be essentially the present, and in all succeeding corrected.
time, may require it, your Committee But this is not all that your Com- are of opinion, that this is a condimittee deem requisite to secure the tion which it is not in the power of kingdom from the calamities that any law to fulfil; what number of must attend the continued progress persons can be employed in labour of this evil; and they do not believe must depend absolutely upon the ethat such security can be obtained, mount of the funds which alone are as long as by an erroneous construc, applicable to the maintenance of tion, as your Committee believe, of labour.” The Committee proceeded the Act of Elizabeth, parishes are to illustrate their position by a train supposed liable to be called upon to of reasoning, which will be found in effect the impracticable purpose of the 14th page of that Report. finding employment for all who may The further consideration and inat any time require it: they believe vestigation of this subject has conthe ill consequences which have ari. firmed their opinions; for your comsen from this practice are most pal. mittee are not aware, that the Courts pable, and most mischievous ; and of Law have at any time construed they are, therefore, peculiarly an- the act according to this practice; xious to recall the most serious at- indeed, the decision referred to in tention of the House to this con- the former report, in which it was struction which has been put practic held that an order of maintenance cally on this part of the statute. is not valid without it adjudges the
Pecuniary relief seems indisput. party seeking relief to be impotent, ably to have been only contemplated leads to an opposite conclusion. If by this act for “ the lame, impotent, reference be had also to the authoold, blind, and such other among rity of early writers, or to those who them being poor and not able to in modern times have bestowed the work, and also for putting out chil- most attention on this subject, the dren to be apprentices;" but the di- same inference would follow. In a rection to “set to work all persons work which has been lately cited by having no means to maintain them, an able anonymous author, entitled, and using no ordinary or daily trade “ A Description of England," by W. of life to get their living by," has Harrison, and which, as published been acted
upon as if it were a clear in the Chronicles of Holingshed, is authority for requiring the parish to brought down to the year 1586, it find employment for all who want it. is stated, that “ the poor are divided The Committee, in 1817, question- into three sorts, so that some are ed the soundness of this construc- poor by impotency, as the fatherless tion in the following terms :-" If child, ihe aged, blind, or lame, and the object of the statute was mere- the diseased person that is judged ly to set to hard labour such idle to be incurable; the second are poor wandering persons as might be found by casualty, as the wounded soldier, in a state nearly approaching to that the decayed householder, and the of vagrancy, such an object might sick person visited with grievous and possibly be carried into effect with a painful diseases; the third consisteth fair hope of beneficial consequences; of thriftless poor, as the rioter that but if the object of the statute was hath consumed all, the vagabond
that will abide no where, but runneth But to come nearer to our own times, up and down from place to place, (as and to the most laborious, copious, if it were seeking work, and finding and valuable work on this subject, none); and finally the rogue,” &c. we find the opinion of the judicious
“ The two first sorts, that is to say, and unprejudiced author of “ The the poor by impotency, and the poor State of the Poor," expressed in the by casualty, are the true poor, in- following decided terms :deed, and for whom the word doth " From the language of various bind us to make some ,daily provi. statutes concerning the poor, which sion; there is order taken through- passed during the reign of Queen out every parish in the realm that Elizabeth, and which being in pari weekly collection shall be made for materia, explain each other, either their help and sustentation ; but if in matter of law, or illustrate each they refuse to be supported by this other in matter of fact, it may fairly benefit of the law, and will rather be implied to prove, that the relief endeavour, by going to and fro, to of the able-bodied poor, with or withmaintain their idle trades, then they out families, was no part of the oriare parcel of the third sort, and so, in- ginal system of the poor laws. The stead of courteous refreshing at home, 3d of William and Mary, c. 11, s.11, are often corrected with sharp execu- corroborates this idea, which is pút tion, and whip of justice abroad.” out of doubt by the preamble to 8. and
Now, this classification of the poor, 9. William and Mary, c. 30, s. 2.“ To in the very age of Elizabeth, leads the end, that the money raised only to the conclusion, that the persons for the relief of such as are as well designed by the terms “ using no or- impotent as poor, may not be misdinary or daily trade of life to get applied or consumed by the idle, their living by," were, as the Com- sturdy, and disorderly beggars." mittee of 1817 supposed, that third These opinions would, in the abclass who are deemed “ thriftless sence of any decision of Courts of poor, &c.," who, it should seem, were Law to the contrary, be entitled to made to labour as long as they con- much weight; but this preamble retinued within their own parish; but ferred to by the last author, and if they left it, were subject to the which was cited in the former report, severe penalties then inflicted on va- p. 20, for the same purpose, seems grancy, and would now come within decisive on the question. Nor, inthe provisions of the present vagrant deed, can it be well imagined, that laws.
the supreme legislative power of any In the year 1695, another author country would have anticipated a perof eminence, referring to the sums manent order of things, in which a raised for the relief of the poor, says, large class of the people should be “ As this money is managed in most habitually and necessarily without places, instead of relieving such as employment. Your Committee conare truly poor and impotent (which ceive that the demand and supply of the laws design,) it serves only to labour have, in the natural course of nourish and continue vice and sloth things, such a tendency to regulate in the nation. The real and true and balance each other, unless counobjects of charity would cost the na- teracted by artificial institutions, that tion but little to maintain; and it is any excess of either, arising from to be doubted they have the least temporary causes, would, if met by share in the public reliefs."
temporary expedients alone, in no
long time correct itself; whereas perintending control of private interthe practice now under considera- est; and it must be remembered, tion, originating perhaps in a hu. that the persons who make this mane extension of the law to meet demand for work on the parish, are, cases of occasional and pressing e- generally speaking, (though at the mergency, and inconsiderately con- present time it is certainly in many tinued, is calculated to perpetuate instances otherwise), the least active, evils that would otherwise be transi- the least strenuous, and the least inent, and permanently to derange the dustrious of the community. It is whole industry of the country. the want of those qualities which has,
That such has been its effect in generally speaking, deprived them those parts of this kingdom where of employment. It has consequentthe practice has most prevailed, is ly appeared to your Committee, that but too manifest. Your Committee under this practice, not only the say, where the practice has most pressure of the burden of the poor's prevailed, because they have learnt rate has become almost overwhelmthat some Magistrates have resisted ing, but that the amount of reguthis, which they have deemed, with lar labour has been greatly diminishyour Committee, a misconstruction ed, and its quality materially impairof the law. We may feel and lament ed; and that it should be so, under that a compulsory provision, for even such direct temptations to idleness, the helplessness of age and infirmity, can scarcely be matter of surprise, has a tendency to weaken in a degree or even of inculpation. But a strikthe natural efforts of men to provide ing proof of the prejudicial conseagainst future ill; but if, by any hu- quences of this practice is afforded man institution, the present wants of by the circumstance, which for other life are to be obtained otherwise than purposes has been pressed on the atby human exertion, the very sources iention of your Committee, that it is of all industry must be destroyed. uniformly found that such inhabitants If, therefore, the parish be bound of a parish as have not acquired a to find employment for those who settlement in it, and can obtain no are, from whatever cause, without such relief without being removed, it, it is obvious that in cases where are distinguished by their activity the family is numerous, and the ho- and industry, and generally possess nest pride and independence of self- not only the necessaries, but the comsupport is extinguished, it becomes forts of life; and your Committee on calculation a matter of perfect in- have lately learnt with satisfaction, difference, whether the money requi- that the operation of the act of this site for their maintenance be deriv. session has already relieved some pa. ed from the wages of labour, or the rishes of the metropolis from the alms of the parish. The consequence heavy burden of maintaining numis, that the motive that would natu- bers of persons without settlements rally impel men to active and faith. in England; who are stated " now ful service is wanting ; for even if to support themselves, instead of ap. employment be forfeited by miscon- plying for parochial relief, under the duct, the same means of support, in apprehension of being sent home.” the case supposed, will be given, and If, therefore, from a due consideprobably little labour will be exacted ration of this part of the statute of in return; for the parish work is in Elizabeth, from the opinions of early all cases performed without the su- and late writers of authority on the
subject, from the nature of the case lar local interests, than to any deitself, and, above all, from the ex- fect in the principle on which it was press terms of the statute of William recommended. III., this supposed obligation of pa- That the market for labour is in rishes to find work for all who require many parts of the kingdom at preit, is at variance with the letter and sent much overstocked, does not adspirit of the law, and has been, and mit of dispute ; nor does your Comis productive of the most baneful ef- mittee believe, that in other parts fects: it appears to your Committee the demand is greater than the supto be of the last importance that the ply: it is not probable, therefore, practice of the country should be that even the entire and immediate made consonant with the law in this removal of all such impediments, if respect by a new enactment, specify- it were practicable, would of itself, ing distinctly to whom, and to whom at this moment, cure the existing alone, relief derived from a compul. evil. Other measures, assisted by sory assessment shall be afforded. the unrestrained operation of natural At the same time they are well aware, causes, will yet be wanting to bring that it is not at a moment like the the kingdom, in this respect, to its present, when, from a concurrence ordinary and healthful state. Your of circumstances, the country is un Committee, therefore, must recur to usually embarrassed by the number the opinion expressed in the former of persons without employment, that report, that "all obstacles to seeking it should be attempted to bring this employment wherever it can be found, better system at once into operation; even out of the realm, should be reand it would be probably expedient moved, and every facility that is reapreviously to remove any impedi- sonable afforded to those who may ments which are thrown in the way wish to resort to some of our own of the free circulation of labour, ei- colonies ;" for it seems not unnatuther by the existing laws respecting ral, that this country should, at such the settlement of the poor, or those a time, recur to an expedient which which relate to vagrancy; the for has been adopted successfully in omer of which, it must be recollected, ther times and in other countries, esdid not exist in their present form, pecially as it has facilities for this when the compulsory system of pro. purpose which no other state has viding for the relief of the poor com- perhaps ever enjoyed to the same menced. Your Committee, indeed, extent, by the possession of colonies recommended to the House to re- affording an extent of unoccupied place the law of settlement upon its territory, in which the labour of man, ancient footing, as the first siep to. assisted by a genial and healthy cliwards removing that restraint, which mate, would produce an early and they deem a serious obstacle to any abundant return. Your Committee radical amendment of the system; thought it desirable to make some and they regret that the view which inquiries on this subject, the result they had formed for the attainment of which will be found in the minutes of this object, and at the same time of evidence. simplifying this law, and thereby di- If by these and other means, by a minishing litigation, did not meet continuance of the blessings of peace, with the concurrence of the House; and a consequent augmentation of which they attribute rather to its ap- capital, the demand and supply of prehended operation upon particu- labour' should be nearly balanced, and the wages of labour become a seen how much security was wanting, more adequate remuneration of in- and how beneficially it would in all dustry, your Committee are satisfied, probability operate. This advantage, that the object which they recom- for the attainment of which hopes mend might be gradually attained, only were entertained at a very rewithout material embarrassment or cent period, is now very generally difficulty; provision continuing to be afforded, and in the most inviting made by law for the infirm and help form, by the numerous and successless, and the partial and temporary ful establishments of Banks for Sadistress which might occasionally be vings. They present the most unfal even the able and industrious, be- doubted security for the sum depoing left, as it confidently might, to sited, the certain profit of interest or the aid of voluntary and discrimina- accumulation, and the constant and ting benevolence, to which alone it immediate command over the princishould be remembered, the wants pal itself. If, however, ensuring a even of age and infirmity in most o. gainst the contingencies of life should ther countries are referred. The as- be more acceptable, your Committee sessment, thus limited in its applica. trust, that the calculations on which tion, would no longer threaten to Benefit Societies may be formed will absorb all the sources of supply, nor in future be placed on a surer foot. continue to seduce the labouring part ing ; some information respecting of the population, by the delusive both those institutions has been obpromise of parish relief, from their tained from a gentleman to whom the natural habits of industry. The public is under great obligations, for greater part, your Committee believe, his exertions in constructing and proof the sums of money which are now moting the former of those establishforced into the poor's rate, der a compulsory, and for the most Under these circumstances, your part unprofitable distribution, would Committee would therefore anxious. probably be restored to their naturally direct the future attention of the channel, giving thereby an increased House to such measures as may be activity to labour, under the inter- calculated ultimately to relieve paested but beneficial superintendence rishes from the impracticable obliga
. of their owners ; from which would tion of finding employment for all necessarily result a rise of wages, who may at any time require it at with the beneficial consequences that their hands, and to confine the relief would naturally ensue to the labour- derived from compulsory assessments ing classes; active and faithful ser- to the “ lame, impotent, old, blind, vice would indeed be found indispen- and such other among them being sable for the supply of present wants; poor, and not able to work ;" and and recourse would doubtless be had they are satisfied that the best prepato those facilities and inducements ration for such an enactment will be which are now afforded to realize the made by the careful execution of the benefits of exertion and frugality. act of the present session, by remorYour Committee need not dwell on ing any restraint on the free circuthe importance of giving undoubted lation of labour, and giving every security to the acquisitions of indus- facility
and encouragement to seek try, however small.
employment in any part of the King's From the evidence in the Appendix dominions; the provident habits of to the first Report (1817,) it will be the people being at the same time