Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 63, 1830-1831. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Die Martis, 22° Februarii 1831.
The Marquess of Salisbury in the Chair.
Richard Spooner Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:
Your ordinary Residence is at Worcester?
Are you acquainted with the State of the Labourers in Warwickshire and Worcestershire?
The Agricultural as well as the Manufacturing Labourers?
Are many Agricultural Labourers out of Employment in Worcestershire?
There are not a great many out of Employment, but all those who are employed are employed at a very low Rate of Wages.
At what Rate; by the Farmers or by the Overseers?
In Warwickshire the Rate of Wages is higher than in Worcestershire. In Warwickshire it averages from Ten to Twelve Shillings a Week; by the Farmers in Worcestershire, from Seven to Nine Shillings.
How much by the Overseer?
I am not aware that there is any regular Rate in Warwickshire; they relieve each Case as the peculiar Pressure of the Case seems to require. In Worcestershire there was a Regulation passed at the last Epiphany Sessions;-a Regulation made amongst ourselves- not passed at Sessions. The Regulation was, to allow each Man Three Shillings a Week; each Woman, Half-a-Crown; each Child under the Age of Ten, Eighteen-pence; each young Person above the Age of Ten, Two Shillings.
Are you of Opinion that if the Farmers possessed greater Means more Labourers would be employed, and at full Wages?
I have not the smallest doubt of it.
Are you of Opinion that more Labourers could be profitably employed than are employed at present?
Certainly; I am not aware of any Farm - I have seen a great many-where the Farm itself is not now suffering in point of Cultivation from the Smallness of the Number of Labourers employed upon that Farm, and where the Returns of the Tenant are not very greatly diminished by that same Circumstance.
Would not the Number of Labourers be deficient in Time of Harvest were it not for the Irish Labourers who resort to that County?
Certainly; in the Midland Counties we have by no means Population enough to get in our Harvest without the Irish and the Welsh, both of which flock into the Midland Counties at the Time of Harvest.
What Wages are paid in Harvest?
The Wages vary very much according to the Circumstances, whether the Corn ripens altogether at once, or not. Harvest Work is chiefly done by Piece Work, and the Farmer makes the best Bargain he can, according to the Circumstances of the Case.
Can you state the Average?
Three Shillings a Day I should state to be a fair Average Rate of Wages, with a very full Allowance of Beer or Cider; Cider in our Country; and, perhaps, Dinner once or twice or three Times in the Week.
Are you of Opinion that Relief could be afforded by Emigration?
I conceive, certainly not; but that great Mischief would be done by Emigration. Emigration will take away from us the very best Hands, and will leave us burdened with the worst. Emigration will take away Consumers and Tax Payers, and therefore will tend to lessen the Price of Agricultural Produce on the one Hand, and to increase the Burden of Taxation on the other.
Do you think that Relief could be afforded by the Reduction of Rent?
Not Relief to the Labourers; because Reduction of Rent would not put into the Hands of the Farmers the immediate Means of paying the Labourers; it would be an ultimate Relief to him at the Expiration of Six Months-the next Rent Day; but the Labourer is now suffering from the total Inadequacy of the Means of the Farmer, in the way of ready Money, to pay the Men on the Saturday Night; the Reduction of Rent would not relieve that Evil.
Does the Truck System, that of paying Wages in Goods instead of Money, exist in your Neighbourhood, or in any Places with which you are personally acquainted?
It does, in the Manufacturing District, but has not as yet extended to the Agricultural Districts.
Are you not of Opinion that that System is productive of great Evils?
The System itself is very bad, and is productive of very great Evils.
You allude to the Manufacturing Districts?
What do you consider to be the Causes which have led to the Adoption of the Truck System?
I look upon the Truck System to be rather a Symptom than the Disease itself; it is the total Inadequacy of finding Means to pay the Labourers in Money which has compelled the Manufacturer to have recourse to the Truck System.
What in your Opinion would be the Remedy for the Truck System?
Increasing the Quantity of Circulating Medium in the Country, and so enabling the Manufacturer to get the same easy Way of procuring Money to pay his Men that he formerly had.
What do you consider to be the Causes of the present Want of Employment, and of the low Wages prevailing in so many Parts of the Country?
The Want of a sufficient Circulating Medium in the Country.
Do you mean sufficient for the Wants of the Country?
Sufficient for the Wants of the Country.
What do you consider to be the Remedy for those Evils?
Any thing that would tend to give to the Funds for the Employment of the Labouring Poor a Supply from any Source which is not now in action.
Will you have the goodness to explain that Idea a little more fully?
I mean that you will not increase the Means of employing the Poor, by diverting those Means which are now employed in one Channel, from that Channel into another; for instance, by Reduction of Rent you will not increase the Means of employing the Poor because, exactly in the same Way as you diminish Rent, you must diminish the Expenditure of those who receive that Rent, and their diminished Expenditure of course must diminish the Proportion of Employment of Labour in those Channels in which that Expenditure now takes place. By Emigration you will not afford Relief, because the Money which you spend to send Persons Abroad would be extracted from those Funds which are now devoted to the Employment of Labour, and which are already too small for that Purpose. The Money would be spent Abroad instead of at Home, and that would tend still more to decrease the Funds for the Employment of Labour at Home.
You therefore see no other Remedy than a greater Circulation of Money, and that a Species of Circulation which would be adequate to the Purpose?
I can see no other effectual Remedy. I do not mean to say that there are no other Evils; in a highly civilized State of Society like this there will always other Evils and Inconveniences arise; but the Want of a sufficient Circulating Medium aggravates every Evil, and will be found to paralyze every Remedy.
Are you of Opinion the Remedy which you recommend could be adopted under the present Monetary System of the Country?
Certainly not; because any Extension of Circulating Medium at the present Moment, under the present Monetary System, would have a Tendency, in the first place, to raise Prices; raising Prices would take away from Gold the Power of doing so much in this Country as it does Abroad, consequently Gold would leave this Country; in whatever Way you force your Circulating Medium out, while it is liable to be brought to the Test of Gold at its present Rate, it must be contracted when Gold leaves the Country, by lessening the Paper Circulation of the Country.
Are you of Opinion that any Relief was afforded by the Beer Bill of last Session?
Certainly not. The Beer Bill of last Session has been attended with most mischievous Consequences; its Effect has been to draw Labouring People to drink in Public Houses not under the Control of the Magistrates, at least very partially under the Control of the Magistrates; to lead them more from their Families than they were used to be before. The Effect has been to encourage Drunkenness in great Towns, but in no degree to give the Labouring Poor the Power of getting good Malt Liquor at their own Homes more than they had before.
Are you of Opinion any Relief would be afforded by taking off the Duty on Malt?
I conceive that very great Relief would be afforded, both to the Farmer and to the Labourer.
To the Farmer it would be attended with Benefit, by enabling him to make the best Use of a great Quantity of inferior Grain, which by the Duty on Malt he is now prevented from doing; there is much that would be malted if there was no Duty; this is not now malted, because the Duty is the same on Barley of a high Quality as on Barley of a low Quality, while Barley of a high or good Quality will make a much larger Quantity of Malt than the inferior Barley. It would be a great Relief to the Labourer; for could a Farmer make Malt upon his own Premises, and brew on his Premises, without the Intervention of the Excise, he would supply the Labourer with a good and wholesome Beverage in sufficient Quantity for his Family, without his resorting to the Public House. The Labourer also would be indirectly benefited if the Farmer could malt his Grain as he chose, as he would then be able to feed his Beef to a greater Profit, and consequently afford to sell it at a lower Price than he can at the present Moment; any one who has looked to the feeding of Cattle knows that a certain Quantity of Grain, first of all malted, will go much further in feeding Cattle than in a dry State.
Are you of Opinion that the Establishment of what is called a Labour Rate would be beneficial?
I should conceive it would be exceedingly injurious; for I cannot see how it can be done on fair Terms. I have seen a Scheme for a Labour Rate Bill under Print, and that Scheme for a Labour Rate Bill contemplates Three Things: the First Clause prohibits the Overseer from employing any Part of the Poor's Rate in the Payment of Labour; this is a proper Provision, if it can be carried into Effect; but the next provides there shall be a List of all Labourers in the Parish wanting Employment - a List of the Rate Payers, with the Amount each pays, and in proportion to the Rate he pays every one to be compelled to employ a certain given Number of Labourers. Now that will bear most unfairly upon the different Qualities of Land. Rich Grass Land has already been paid for by the Owner at a higher Price because of its Quality, and because of its Quality enabling a greater Return from a smaller Quantity of Labour; the poor Land has been bought at a lower Price, exactly upon the converse of that Proposition. The rich Land stands highest in the Assessment; and it is the highest in the Assessment because it by Nature requires less Labour; and that Land, thus by Nature requiring less Labour, and therefore higher in the Assessment, becomes subject to a greater Assessment towards this Labour Rate, which would thus act most unfairly on the different Qualities of Land. There is another Part of that Scheme which appears to me rather extraordinary: it is the Clause that a Man not choosing to employ this Labour shall forfeit any Sum not exceeding 2s. a Day for each Labourer; and what is to become of this Sum so forfeited; it is to go in aid of the Parish Rate, which Parish Rate is prohibited from contributing to the Wages of Labour; and therefore a Gentleman occupying a large House and Garden, rather than have a Parcel of Persons about him whom he does not wish to have, must either pay a Forfeit of 2s. a Day to the Overseer, which he is prohibited from paying in aid of Wages of Labour, or he must pay his 2s. or 1s. 6d. to a Man to go and spend it in Idleness at a Public House. I conceive there cannot be a Way invented by which there shall be Employment insured, and full Employment for the Labourer at a fair remunerating Price, but by making it the Interest of the Employer so to do, and which can only be accomplished by giving the Person who employs a Profit in the Employment.
Are you not of Opinion, however, that the Labour Rate would be advantageous to the Labourer?
I doubt whether it would; and I thought that I before explained, in the Answer to the last Question, the Difficulty which would arise from the Number of Persons in the Parish who would pay Money to get rid of the Men; the Men would go immediately into the Public House and drink, instead of being profitably employed.
Are you not of Opinion that a Labour Rate would tend materially to lessen the Poor's Rate now paid by all Land of that most valuable Description-the Land to which you have referred?
It would tend to diminish that Sum of Money paid under the Shape of Poor's Rate, but it would by no means diminish the whole Payment paid by the Owner or Occupier of the Soil.
That Money would be beneficially employed in that Case?
Not under the Provision to which I have alluded. If there was a Provision that the Overseer should not in any way pay the Rate to any one in aid of the Wages of Labour, but that he should find Means of Employment for all Persons out of Employment, and that he should separate them (if I may use the Expression) from the Market for Labour, I should conceive there would result great Benefit from that, because if there are but One, Two or Three Men idle in a Parish, those One, Two or Three contaminate the whole; they will tend to depress the Rate of Wages; but if you take away those whom the Farmer does not choose to employ, and the Overseers were to have a Labour Rate by which to employ them, it would be found that the Excess of Labour would not be very great, for the Excess of Labour now arises from the Want of Means on the Part of the Farmer to pay them. The Effect which One, Two or Three in a Parish may have upon the Wages of the whole Number in the Parish is great.
You are therefore of Opinion that the apparent Excess of Labour arises altogether from the Inability to employ Men, and from the general Pressure on the Country?
Are you acquainted with the Proportion of the Population to the Acreage in Warwickshire and Worcestershire?
I am not.
Why would Emigration not relieve the Country?
I have stated before, that I think it would take away from us the best Hands, and leave us burdened with the worst; and that it would take away Consumers and Tax Payers.
Do you think it would take away the best Labourers?
What do you conceive the best Labourers; do you mean in a moral or a workmanlike point of view?
I consider that it would take, both morally and physically, the best.
Do you not conceive that the Want of Employment driving a large Portion of Labourers of this Country to look to the Poor's Rate as their only Means of Subsistence tends to demoralize the People?
I should say that whatever drives the Poor to look to the Poor's Rate for their Subsistence greatly demoralizes the People; but I would wish to draw this Distinction: I do not attribute it to the Want of Employment, but the Want of the Means of Payment; there is Plenty of Employment if there were the Means.
Does not the Want of Employment drive a great Portion of the Labourers of this Country to look to the Poor's Rate as their only Means of Subsistence?
Do you believe that those Men are demoralized by deriving their only Means of Subsistence from that Source?
Do you not therefore think that if those best Men you allude to were out of the Market for Labour, that those who would succeed them, and therefore have constant Employment, would be much benefited in their Morals and in their Situation?
I do not conceive that that Effect would follow. If I am to answer the Question, whether the Employment of them would have that Effect, I admit that; but I do not admit that their Employment would necessarily follow; because Emigration would lessen the Funds of Employment exactly, in my Opinion, in the same Proportion, or perhaps rather more, than it would lessen the Claims upon those Funds; because the Money which was expended in Emigration would be expended out of the Country, instead of being expended in the Country.
Do you allude to Possessions which are not British Possessions?
I am looking, certainly, in answer to that Question, to the immediate Effect it would have upon this Island.
Would it not, in your view of the Case, be a Benefit to our Foreign Possessions to get this Increase of Population?
Undoubtedly it would be a Benefit to our Foreign Possessions; but I think it would do much more than a corresponding Injury to our Country at Home.
That must be a Matter of Calculation?
A Matter of Opinion arising from Facts.
Supposing that the Price of Labour in every one of our Foreign Possessions, Van Dieman's Land for instance, is 5s. a Day, would not the Transmission of a certain Number of our Labourers who now only exist from Relief given them by the Law materially benefit that Colony?
I should say it would certainly benefit that Colony.
Do you not think that every Benefit which is conferred upon our Colonies is a Benefit to the Mother Country?
I cannot answer that quite so largely; Benefits to the Colonies may be purchased by too great a Sacrifice at Home.
Are you not aware that our Colonies are an enormous Expence to this Country at this Moment?
Do you not think it would be very advantageous to this Country that they should be enabled to bear a certain Portion if not the whole of their Expences?
If what caused their Ability to bear their Expences did not lessen our Ability to bear our own.
If Gentlemen before this Committee have stated their Opinion that there are in the South-west Counties of England many Labourers who cannot be profitably employed, what Remedy would you propose?
I cannot propose a Remedy to a Fact which I cannot believe to exist. I come to a very different Conclusion: I believe there is, when I say no Land-I believe, with very few Exceptions-there is no Spot in England where, if a Labourer was set to work, the Result of that Labour would not be a larger Product than that Labourer, with an Average Number of Family, would consume.
And therefore a Gain to the Community?
And therefore a Gain to the Community.
Your Opinion is founded upon this, that there are no more Labourers in England than might be profitably employed?
My Opinion is so founded upon the Principle I have stated, that a Labourer set to work on a certain Quantity of Soil will find that Soil produce more than he and the Average Number of his Family would consume. The Want of Profit upon the Employment of that Labour may arise from different Circumstances; the Tenant may be burdened with Engagements which have brought him into a State in which he may not have the Means of employing Labour; not having the Means of employing Labour - not having the Capital nor Ability to wait 'till its Return - he is disabled from doing so, not being able to maintain the Labourer 'till a profitable Return can be made.
Do you mean to say that Spade Husbandry, or any Means of that sort, ought to be adopted on those Farms?
I believe that in many Cases the Labourers might be profitably employed by Spade Husbandry; but I believe when that Experiment is tried, supposing the Spade Husbandry could be set on foot by any Introduction of Capital not drawn from the present Sources of Employment for the Poor, it would be found that the Redundancy of Population would be very small - that the Population not employed would be very small, and there would be very little Necessity for having recourse to Spade Labour.
Do you admit that all Articles are cheap in proportion to their Abundance or Rarity?
No, I do not; there is another Cause which operates upon Price; that is the Power of Demand: this makes the Difference of Cheapness or Dearness of Articles. As an abstract Question, I should say that the Supply regulates the Demand; but as a practical Question, I should say there is a Difference between the Want of an Article and the Power of demanding it.
Is it not your Opinion that diminishing the Number of Labourers, the Wages of many of whom are made up partly out of the Poor's Rate, would so diminish the Amount paid in Poor's Rate by the Farmer that he would be capable of paying the remaining Labourers better Wages?
If that Diminution of Labourers was occasioned by the Application of Money to which the Farmer does not contribute; because, in exact Proportion as he contributes to that Payment of the Labour Rate, so much that would take from him the Means of employing others.
May it not be impracticable to employ the whole of the Labourers in particular Districts by Spade Husbandry or Home Colonization, and may it not, in such District, be desirable to obtain an immediate Relief by Emigration of Part, and are you not of Opinion that it is desirable as a general System?
To the first Part of the Question I should certainly say, that there may be Districts peculiarly burdened, in which the Number of Labourers may, as far as that District is concerned, profitably be lessened; but I doubt whether it would not be better to lessen the Number of Labourers in those Districts by an Application of their Labour to domestic Objects, rather than to send them Abroad.
Would you employ any superabundant Population which may exist in the Country exclusively on Home Colonization, or would you admit Emigration also as a partial Remedy for the Evil?
I should prefer Home Colonization exclusively.
Under all Circumstances, do you object to Emigration?
Decidedly so, under all Circumstances.
If Three Labourers could be sent away for the same Expence as will support One here, is not the Country relieved of the Burden at a less Expence than it would be at to support the Burden at Home?
I should conceive not, because the Expenditure of the Three would be made at Home; it would be a Source of Employment for other People; if the Labourer was sent Abroad, it would lessen the Employment of others at Home. A great Difference exists between spending Money at Home and Abroad.
Suppose there are Twenty Labourers altogether in a Parish, and that a Farmer who farms the Poor of that Parish requires only Fifteen, do not the other Five tend to reduce the Price of the Fifteen?
Do you believe that without an Alteration of the Circulating Medium you can relieve the Labourers of this Country?
I do not believe that you can give any efficient Relief to the Labourers of this Country without an Alteration of the present Monetary System of the Country.
If the Parliament should not be of Opinion to alter that Monetary System, you do not believe that any Relief can be given to the Labouring Classes?
I do not believe without such Alteration that any effectual permanent Relief could be given to the Labouring Classes of this Country.
You have stated, that an Addition to the Funds for the Employment of the Poor would improve their Condition, and that an Addition to the Circulating Medium would have that Effect; do you mean to say that the Funds for the Employment of Labour are or can be any other than Food, Raiment and Necessaries furnished by the Capitalist to the Labourer while he is employed in working up the raw Material, and will an Addition to the Circulating Medium add to the Amount of Food and Raiment?
To the first Part of the Question I should say, that there are no other Funds for the Employment of the Poor but the Food and Raiment to which your Lordship has alluded, but that the Increase of the Circulating Medium may enable the Farmer to command that Food and that Raiment for the Employment of his Labourer which without a Circulating Medium may lie perfectly dormant; there may be Plenty of Food and Plenty of Clothing, (and we have seen the Farmer complaining that he could not sell either of them,) and there may be at the same Time a great Population, on the other Hand, half fed and half clothed. Now the Effect of an increased Circulating Medium would be to give to the Farmer the Means of converting his extra Produce, which he feels a Burden upon him, into that Circulating Medium, and so to increase the Funds for the Employment of the Poor, and enable them to get at the Clothes and Food which without that Circulating Medium they have no Means of doing.
You allow that Food and Raiment are Capital?
Do you then imagine that Capital remains idle and unemployed?
There is a very considerable Proportion of the Representative of Food and Raiment now lying unemployed.
You have stated that you think there is no Excess of Population in this Country?
Do you confine that Opinion to the manufacturing, or do you include the whole Interest of the Country, Agricultural as well as Manufacturing?
My Answer was of a very general Nature. There always will be, in a high State of Civilization, certain Districts labouring under an increased Population, arising from the Application of Machinery; every Improvement in Machinery will for a certain Time throw a Number of Persons out of Employment; but the Effect of that Machinery being to add to the general Wealth of the Country, that general Weath will add to the general Sources of Employment of the Labouring People. A whole District may thus be affected, but that does not affect the general Question, in my Opinion.
Your Opinion is, that the Population of a Country never can exceed, under any Circumstances, the Means of natural Employment within that Country?
I am not prepared to go quite so far as that, but I do not think we are near that Point yet.
Are you not of Opinion that this Country possesses that Amount of Capital which, with the Assistance of a proper Circulating Medium, would give sufficient profitable Employment to all the Labouring Poor?
You have stated that you do not think the Country would derive any Advantage from Emigration, because that Emigration would take out of the Country a certain Body of Tax Payers; do you not think it would also take out of the Country a certain Number of Individuals who are subsisted entirely out of the Poor's Rates, and who are, under the present Administration of the Poor Laws, a constant Burden upon the Country?
I do not think it would take out of the Country those Individuals who have existed on the Poor Rates; I think it would take out a different Class. I admit that by so doing it would call a considerable Number into Employment who are now living out of the Poor Rates, provided the Funds for Emigration were found from some Source not already engaged in the Employment of the Poor.
How do you account for this, that in some Parts of England Occupiers of Land and yearly Tenants have agreed to tax themselves, having merely the prospective Benefits to be derived from Emigration by sending off the Overplus of the Population of their respective Parishes?
Because I consider that those Individuals have been in the habit of confining their Views to the peculiar Sphere in which they live, and they feel that their immediate Pressure is having more Labourers than they have the Means to employ. They conceive that by the Sacrifice of a few Pounds at the present Moment they shall ultimately get relieved from that. I think that in that Conclusion they are erroneous, and that they will not get the Relief which they anticipate.
What Grounds have you for supposing that those who derive their Existence from the Parish would not emigrate?
I think that any Person who conducts Emigration on a Principle to be beneficial to the Colonies would not pick out those Persons to go; they are not the Characters that I should send if I were employed to select them. The Persons who are willing to go have Enterprize; they are generally Persons of high independent Feelings, who feel that they cannot exist here, that they are pressed down by Difficulties here, and they are willing to seize any Opportunity which affords them a fairer Field for their Talents and their Labour.
Are there not Thousands of Labourers in the Counties of Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Wiltshire who are in such Distress that any Change would be a Relief to them?
I make no doubt there are, and that there may be in some instances Persons of that Character willing to go, but I do not conceive their going will leave the remaining Class of Labourers in a better Condition; for the Funds applied to send them out will be so much abstracted from the general Employment of the Poor at Home.
You stated that in your Opinion the best Part of the Labouring Classes would be the Body to emigrate?
Do not you think that the great Cause of Demoralization of British Peasants has arisen from the Want of Employment, and their having been subsisted out of the Poor's Rates, and that if Employment were found for that Class of Men they would be very much changed in point of Character?
Therefore it would not be a very material Consequence to the Parish whether the best Labourers went out, because a great Change would be immediately effected?
A great Change to a certain Extent would be effected; that would not perhaps be quite so great as your Lordship contemplates; but I must guard all these Answers against it being supposed that I think that Relief would be obtained, or that those Men would come into Employment; because the Means of sending these Emigrants Abroad would be taken from the Funds by which Labour is employed at Home.
If there are One hundred Labourers in a Parish, and Funds only properly to support Eighty, if the Surplus could be removed without any Expence would it not be a Benefit?
I even doubt whether there would be any Benefit arising from that in the present State of the Country; if the State of the Country was such that we had One Fifth more Population than could by a proper Application of Capital be profitably employed at Home, that would be correct; but I deny that Position altogether. I say that this Country is not in that Position, but that by a judicious Employment of Capital all the Labourers of this Country may be profitably employed, and would cause a corresponding Increase to the Wealth of the Country, by Employment at Home.
You stated that you thought a Labour Rate would prove exceedingly injurious, and your Opinion was founded upon the Inequality of the Pressure of that Rate on different Descriptions of Land in the Parish?
I have said that a Labour Rate under certain Circumstances might be beneficial: I objected to a Labour Rate a Scheme of which I have seen under Print.
Supposing there was a Parish in which all the Land was of the same Quality, and in which there were Ten Occupiers of Land; for instance, that Eight of those Occupiers concurred in the Propriety of employing a certain Proportion of the Labourers, and of giving them a certain Rate of Remuneration, but that Two of the Farmers objected to bearing their Proportion; would it not be just and equitable, and beneficial in the Result, to compel every Individual in the Parish to bear his fair Proportion of the Burdens thrown upon the Parish?
If the Two Persons refusing to employ their Share of Labourers were able to pay them, then the Labour Rate would certainly effect the Object in view; but if they were not able to employ them, if they had not sufficient Capital to employ them, and were compelled to employ them, they must diminish their Expenditure in some other Channel, and must throw some other Labourers out of Employment to the same Extent.
Do you think those other Farmers ought to be compelled to feel that Burden which ought fairly to have fallen on those Two Men?
If a Labour Rate could be so framed, meeting the Objections you have stated, compelling Occupiers of Land to employ Labourers in proportion to their Rate, and were framed so as to meet the Object of the different Qualities of Land, do not you think that would be beneficial?
If it could be framed in the Manner alluded to, and the Means of paying that Rate can be raised from any Source not now engaged in the Employment of Labourers, it would be beneficial; but no Benefit can be derived by a Labour Rate compelling Persons to pay for the Employment of Labour if it clashes with the Means of employing Labourers in the Manner in which they are now employed.
Would a Labour Rate be of the slightest Service if Parliament did not enact by Law what a Man should pay a Labourer whom he employs?
Would not that be one of the most objectionable Things that could possibly be done?
Would not an Interference in the Price of Labour be very objectionable on every Ground?
An Interference compelling any Individual to give a certain given Rate of Wages would be highly injurious; but an Interference requiring an Overseer to make a general Rate, and with that Rate to give Employment to all Persons who are unemployed, at a given Rate of Wages, would not, in my Opinion, be injurious, but would be beneficial, if that Labour Rate, as I have stated before, could be by any means met by Funds which are not now engaged in the Payment for Labour.
It would not be right to enact how much the Farmer was to give a Labourer, unless you could enact how much the Farmer should give the Landlord?
Certainly; that could not be done by Legislative Enactment.
You have stated that you consider there is no Excess of Population; in what Manner do you think this Population, which at present is very inadequately and very insufficiently employed, could be beneficially employed?
By increasing the Circulating Medium, which would immediately give the Means of profitably employing those Labourers; the Farmer, finding an Interest in the profitable Employment of them, would immediately employ them. But I must guard that again, by saying, under the present Monetary System no such Increase of the Circulating Medium could take place.
Suppose the Government were inclined to advance Money for the Purpose of employing an increased Number of the Population; do you not conceive that that would be providing the Funds which would afford Means for that Employment?
I do; but I conceive the Result of that, under the present Monetary System, would be to produce a Re-action: it would raise the Prices, and send the Gold Abroad; and, exactly in the same Proportion as the Government increased the Circulation for the Purpose of employing the Poor, the Bank would find itself compelled to contract its Issues, for the Purpose of guarding against the increased Demand for Gold which would follow the Rise of Prices.
Supposing such Increase of Capital could be provided for the Employment of Labourers; in what Manner do you think it would be most desirable for the Public that that increased Means should be applied; for instance, in respect of Domestic Colonization?
I think Domestic Colonization would be one of the best Means of employing them; but, with the view I have before stated, it is impossible it should take place, while it is met by the Check to which I have referred. The Circulating Medium cannot be increased above the present Point under the present Monetary System, for at this present Moment Gold is leaving the Country.
Under the Supposition that increased Capital were provided, in what Way would you think it best to employ it in regard to Domestic Colonization?
That is a Question with which I hardly know how to deal. If Capital could be safely employed, the best Means would be, to leave it in its natural Channels, for Individuals to employ it; but what prevents Individuals from now employing it is, first of all, that the Circulating Medium is not sufficient to enable them to do so, and those who have the issuing of that Circulating Medium know too well the Danger which would attend its Increase to put it into Circulation under the present Monetary System.
Have you any Reason to suppose there is a Quantity of Land in this Country on which an additional Quantity of Labour could be beneficially employed?
I believe there is a very small Quantity of Land in this Kingdom on which additional Labour might not be profitably employed.
Have you any Means of forming an Opinion as to the Quantity of Acres to which you think Labour might be profitably applied?
I cannot speak to the Quantity of Acres, but I should say generally, with few Exceptions, every Farm might, under proper Extension of Capital, profitably employ an increased Number of Labourers.
The Question does not apply itself to the Question of Increase of Currency, or the Monetary System, but simply whether you conceive that there is an additional Quantity of Land which, if Labour was applied to it, would be able to produce a sufficient Quantity of Productiveness in the Way of Food and in the Way of Clothing?
There is a very small Quantity of Land, in my Opinion, in this Kingdom on which the Employment of additional Labour would not cause an Increase of Production much larger than the Consumption of the Labourer and the Average Family of the Labourer.
Supposing any considerable Number of such Labourers as are called redundant should be taken away from the Parishes in which they are now to be found, and that Land was to be provided in this Country on which to locate such Labourers, and that a sufficient Quantity of Capital were to be supplied to maintain that Population 'till they should put those Lands into a productive State; in what Manner do you think that it would be most desirable they should proceed, with respect, in the first instance, to the obtaining Possession of redundant Labourers, and in the next instance to apply that Labour in such Manner as would be likely to be most beneficial to the Country?
I am hardly prepared to answer that Question; that is a Question which requires a great deal of Consideration; and I should say I should regulate (as at present advised) the Domestic Colonization, if it was necessary to have recourse to it, on much the same Principle as Foreign Emigration would be regulated. At the present Moment there is a Plan of Emigration; certain Steps are taken to procure Land, and to send the Persons out to be put into Possession of it. Some such Plan must be adopted with regard to Domestic Colonization.
Do not you think that the Population of this Country would be much better pleased with being located at Home, if Means were provided for their Sustenance 'till such Time as they could bring the Lands on which they are to be located into a productive State, than they would be by being called upon, on account of their Necessities, to emigrate?
Do not you think, that as by putting those Persons in a Situation where they would be able to be profitably employed would be far more beneficial to all Classes of Persons in this Country, that such Means should be resorted to?
No doubt whatever.
Do not you conceive that, supposing a sufficient Quantity of Persons in this Country were to be so located, it would be desirable, as far as may be, to assimilate the Description of Persons of whom the Population should be composed, with respect to Farmers, and with respect to Labourers and Mechanics, in the same Manner as prevails in the most prosperous Agricultural Parts of this Country?
Do you suppose that if Capital was to be found for that Purpose, and the Legislature were inclined to give Facilities, what is called the redundant Population in the different Parishes would be very well inclined to avail themselves of such an Offer?
Perfectly so; the redundant Population would be found much smaller under those Circumstances than is generally contemplated.
Do you not conceive that the Country would be found far better able to bear its Burdens if what is now found to be a burdensome Part of the Population was so provided for?
Do you not conceive that the mere Fact of such a Population being created would of itself be a Benefit with respect to bearing the Burdens of this Country?
Would it not also have a very great Benefit in increasing the Prosperity of those Parishes in which such redundant Population is at present situate?
Wherever there is a real redundant Population. I am very sceptical about the Fact of a redundant Population.
In case of a Location taking place, would there not in the neighbouring Districts be great Jealousy, in the North of England, extending even as far as Lincolnshire, and all those Parts of the Kingdom which conceive themselves not burdened with Poor, would there not be great Jealousy to admitting those Locations, under the Apprehension that they might be burdened with Poor's Rate, and injured in the same Manner as they have heard that Land had been injured in the South by what is called a redundant Population?
I should conceive, unless the Plan was guarded so that the Settlers (if I may use the Expression) should not become chargeable upon the Parishes into which they are brought to settle, there would be a Jealousy; but of course that would be provided for in any Plan.
Would they conceive it was possible so to provide for them, though you might make the Law compulsory upon some particular Parish; would there not be a Fear that the Increase could not be kept within its distinct Boundaries?
There might be that Jealousy; but my own Opinion is that it would be unfounded.
You must suppose that the adjoining Parishes in that Case would have a fair Ground of Jealousy, unless you conceive that what is vulgarly called the Preventive Check would act as strongly, or more strongly, upon the Persons and Families so located, as it usually does on Persons of a higher Rank in Society?
I do not think they would have a fair Ground of Jealousy, for I do not believe they would find any Evil from a superabundant Population; but Persons forming a different Conclusion to that at which I have arrived on the Question of a superabundant Population might perhaps be jealous of that Question.
You have stated that an Agricultural Labourer would always be able to produce more than he can consume, under proper Application of Capital; have you formed any Opinion of the Quantity of Land necessary for the Support of a Man and his Family?
Upon the Average Number of Families, I should say from Half an Acre to Three Quarters of Land, a Labourer will support himself and his Family.
And still leave a Surplus above his Consumption?
Must not that depend on the Fertility of the Soil?
Yes. I have taken it on an Average; it would depend on a Calculation which I have not accurately gone into; some Land would do much more, some much less.
Independently of any other Wages?
Do you mean to say that Three Quarters of an Acre per Head is applicable to the Heads of the Family?
Yes, Three Quarters for the Heads of the Family.
Can you make any Calculation, seeing how impossible it would be to expect that such Land would be equally productive Year after Year?
I have some Doubts of that: it would not be equally productive if Labourers were put, with the little Knowledge they have of Cultivation, upon it; but Land occupied by Labourers well acquainted with Cultivation might be maintained in a Condition equally productive. The greater the Produce, the greater the possibility of Return of Manure.
In the Cultivation which prevails in Gardens a great deal of Manure is derived from other Sources than that which the Refuse of the Garden produces?
That being the Case, do you suppose that Cultivation Year after Year would be that which would enable the Labourer to cultivate his Land equally productively?
I am inclined to think, by a proper Course of Cultivation, the Land might be kept Year after Year in an equally productive State.
If the Labour of a Man can support himself and Family on Three Quarters of an Acre of Land, what Capital should you think necessary to enable him so to do, further than the Land?
That supposes of course that there is a House for the Man to live in; then there is no other Capital than his Maintenance during the Time, his Tools and his Seed, and some Manure for him to begin with.
How does the Monetary System affect the Employment of the Labour on such Land?
Because that to any great Extent would require a considerable Capital, and that Capital coming into the Market would raise the Price of the Labourer's Food; there would come into the Market a certain Quantity of Money to be expended in the Capital which forms the Year's Maintenance and Stock of that Labourer.
How do you calculate that this Labourer would be enabled to find himself with Clothes, and Coals and other Necessaries, besides the mere Wheat or Potatoes he has to eat?
I may not be correct in the Quantity, but I am still of Opinion that with an Average Family that would be sufficient.
How much Wheat should you suppose a Labourer to grow upon his Three Quarters or Acre of Land?
If it was all employed on Wheat, the Average Produce is not more than Twenty-three Bushels an Acre; but the Land would be in a much higher State of Cultivation, and would, in my Opinion, under proper Management, be better guarded from Birds and Vermin than it can possibly be in large Fields.
You conceive that a Quarter of Wheat is more than sufficient for each Individual in a Family per Head?
Certainly, including Children.
Are you not aware that in the general Calculation the Consumption of Bread Corn is generally taken at a Quarter per Head upon the Population?
It is so; but I think it is a great deal more than is consumed by the Population in general. I know my own Labourers, a Man and his Wife and Three or Four Children, do not consume more than, I think, Three Quarters of a Bushel per Week; a Man and his Wife and Five Children.
The Calculation you have given in would take Forty Bushels in a Year?
That is, if they consume only Bread.
Do you think that there is any Garden in England, which, without a certain Quantity of Manure, and without Fallow of some Description, will produce Twenty Quarters of Wheat per Acre?
Certainly not; but their great Food upon the Ground would be Potatoes, and Potatoes will make a vast deal of Difference; but these Calculations are all off hand, and are without any Preparation; but from what I have seen of Families, I think that from Three Quarters of an Acre to an Acre would be sufficient.
Those Families of which you are speaking have probably had other Resources from their daily Labour?
When the Family is small they cannot do it, for a Man would not cultivate an Acre of Ground without Assistance, but when his Children got up he might, as they would assist him.
You stated that the Agriculturists at present are suffering under a considerable degree of Depression; what are the Plans, if any, that you would recommend for the Amelioration of those Sufferings?
I have stated my Views with regard to domestic Colonization; I having been asked so to do. I do not, however, recommend that as the best Mode of relieving Distress. I recommend, as the best Plan of relieving both the Agricultural and Manufacturing Counties, the Revision of the Monetary System; and were that System put on a right Footing, the more the whole Management of every Interest is left to the Individuals themselves, the more effectually will the End be answered, of making every Class happy and contented, and the Nation at large prosperous.
What is the Plan you would recommend, under the present Monetary System?
I am at a Loss really to recommend any Plan, but I would state One or Two very great Evils, which press very much on the Agricultural Interests; and One which I would state as pressing heavily on the Farmer is the Manner in which the Tithes generally are collected. I would wish to guard myself against any Idea of mixing myself up with the popular Clamour against Tithes, or of supposing for One Moment that they are not private Property as much and as bonâ fide and completely as any other Property; but the Way in which they are collected is certainly productive of very great Evil; and I will explain that to your Lordships by Example: a Person purchases an Estate; he is perfectly well aware that if he was to employ Capital in cultivating that Estate, the increased Return from that Estate would furnish him a very good additional Interest for his Money, and fully remunerate him, were he to have the increased Produce, that is, the Produce from the increased Application of Capital; but he must thus calculate: I have Money in the Funds, which Money does not now pay Tithe, but by bringing that Money into the Shape of improved Cultivation of Land it becomes liable to Tithe; and that Proportion of the Produce which goes in Tithe would very likely be the Proportion with which the Person would be contented for the Reward of laying out that additional Capital in the improved Cultivation of his Land. That is One great Evil, I conceive, that presses upon Land, and consequently upon the Labourers.
Are there no Plans which under the present System you would recommend as tending to ameliorate the Lot of the Poor?
I am not aware of any Plan which will be effectual under the present Monetary System.
You mentioned that the Land under proper Management would always be capable of maintaining increased Population; what Means might be adopted for the Attainment of that End?
By that Increase of the Circulating Medium which would give to the Farmer a Profit in so cultivating his Land; this is the only Way of ensuring Cultivation, and with Cultivation the only Means of ensuring the Employment of Labour.
Do you not admit that the Practice of making up Wages out of the Poor's Rates arose before we actually resumed Cash Payments; that it arose during the War?
I am not aware of its arising to any great Extent, except in Years of Famine or Scarcity; when Famine or Scarcity pressed very heavily, it was resorted to, but it did not become a general Practice, I think, 'till after the general Distress which followed the Measure of 1819.
Are you not aware that in several Counties it did prevail for some Years before the Year 1819?
I cannot say that of my own Knowledge I am aware of that Fact. As a general Principle certainly not in the Counties with which I am acquainted.
You may have heard of it perhaps as existing in Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire?
I cannot say that I have; it was not to such Extent as to attract Notice: I own it had not attracted my Notice.
Was not there a System of Allowance in Loaves?
I am not at all aware of it.
Supposing it to have so commenced, you would admit that it is that which tends more than any thing to the Demoralization of the People, and is the greatest Evil of the whole?
The Payment of Labour out of Poor's Rates is a very great Evil, but it is an Evil which is caused by the general Distress which prevails in Agriculture, and is not an Evil per se; it is created by the general Pressure on Agriculture. There were several Steps taken before 1819 for preparing for the Measure of Diminution of Cash Payments; and whenever the Country has relaxed from that Measure it has found a corresponding Return of Prosperity.
In the early Part of your Evidence you spoke about a Number of Irish and Welsh Labourers that come to assist in the Harvest Time in Worcestershire; what Proportion may they bear to the general Stock of Labourers?
I really do not know; but so many, that during the last Two Summers I have been called out to settle Disputes with our own Labourers trying to thrash them out of the Place. A considerable Quantity of Corn was spoiled in our Neighbourhood by the Want of Irish Labourers; after they threatened to beat them, and did beat them, they went away, and we were left without sufficient Hands.
Are you yourself an Agriculturist?
I have been all my Life very fond of it, and have always practised it.
Though the Farmers may be glad to make use of these Strangers, do not the Labourers consider it a Grievance that the most profitable Part of their Year should be interfered with?
Yes; but without that we should not have the Means of collecting our Harvest during the Time the Corn was in a proper State to be secured.
Do you recollect whether there has been a Difference in the Rate of Harvest Work since they began to give their Assistance?
No doubt they have brought down the Rate of Payment.
Is it not the Case in Worcestershire, that the Harvest Wages were always considered as a great Object to be obtained with a view to their Maintenance during the Winter, when there was less Work, and probably lower Wages?
Yes, certainly; but we should not have enough with our own Population only.
What Reason is there why it is more necessary to employ Strangers in the Collection of the Harvest in Worcestershire in modern Times?
I conceive within the last Ten or Twelve Years a great Change has taken place in the Mode of Cultivation. Lands that used to grow chiefly Rye and Barley, which ripened at different Times from Wheat, are thrown into the Growth of Wheat much more largely in our Neighbourhood than they used to be; therefore the Harvest ripens much more simultaneously, and Harvest Work is confined to a shorter Period.
Is there a larger Quantity of Land applied to the Produce of Grain in Worcestershire than used to be?
I think there is; and I think in all the Parts of the Kingdom through which I have travelled.
You say that of late Land is more applied to the Produce of Wheat than it used to be; is any of the heavier Land withdrawn at all from Arable Cultivation?
I think not; I think the reverse; and every thing which tends to decrease the Capital of the Farmer tends to bring a great deal more Land under the Growth of Wheat, because it requires greater Capital to stock a Grazing Farm than it does to stock a Plough Farm, and because a Farm that has been under Grass for some Time, being broken up, will afford Capital to the Farmer; he will get a Profit upon it which he could not get in any other Way. The Landlords, in consequence of the Pressure on their Tenants, have been obliged to wink at that sort of Cultivation, which they would not have permitted had the Farmer been in a more prosperous State.
If all Labourers were profitably employed in Wales and in Ireland as well as in this Country, how could an Emigration of Labourers take place from one District to another for the Purpose of assisting to get in the Harvest?
Emigration would still take place, because the Climate is so different in various Parts of Ireland that the Labourers would find it to their Advantage to come to our Harvest and return to their own.
You have stated, in a former Part of your Evidence, that you consider Food and Raiment as Capital applicable to the Cultivation of Land, and it was your Opinion that the Means of employing that Capital must depend upon the Amount of the Circulating Medium of the Country, and of the fixed Payments which are to be made?
I do; and it is from that Circulating Medium not having been sufficient that the Truck System has been created, which has substituted the Payment of Food and Clothes instead of Payment of Money; and I very greatly doubt the Policy of an Attempt to put down that Measure, and I doubt it upon Two Grounds: it either will or will not be effectual; if it is effectual, it will stop a great many Works which are now carried on entirely by Capital which the Truck System affords to them for carrying on those Works; if it is not effectual, and is evaded, it will be evaded by an increased Risk, from the Legislative Alteration, and that increased Risk will induce the Manufacturer to deal out his Commodities on still worse Terms to the Persons whom he employs, in order to cover the increased Risk so imposed.
Are you not of Opinion that the Means of employing Labourers, and that the Wealth or Poverty of the Country, must depend, not only upon the Food and Raiment that Country may yield, but also on the Circumstances of the Amount of Money that is in Circulation?
No doubt, in the present civilized State of Society.
Some Years ago a very large Capital was laid out in Foreign Mining Speculations and Matters of that Nature, and was lost; supposing that Capital had been expended, either profitably or unprofitably, in Ireland, in reclaiming Wastes and draining Bogs, and Improvements of the general Agricultural System of that Country, do not you think that would have taken up the greater Part of that Surplus of Irish Labour which now comes for its Market into this Country, and that the Farmers of this Country would have been reduced to the Necessity of seeking in their own Country for that Labour which was necessary for the Cultivation of their Farms, and that an Equilibrium would by that Means have been established between those Parts of England which have either really, or, as you would say, perhaps, apparently, surplus Labour, and those which have not?
It certainly would have added very much to the real Prosperity of Ireland, had the Money which has been lost in Foreign Speculations of that Nature been expended in the Improvement of Ireland; but I do not exactly see how that would have had the Effect of equalizing the Population between the different Districts of England.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
The Right Reverend The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, a Member of the Committee, is examined as follows:
Has your Lordship turned your Attention to the Effect of the Cultivation of small Allotments of Land by the Labouring Classes?
Will you state in what Places?
I first adopted the Plan at Willingham, near Cambridge, in the Year 1806; and I let to some of the Poor there a small Portion of Land, about a Quarter of an Acre each; but the Plan was afterwards carried on by me, more largely, on the Demesne at Wells.
Did you impose any Rent upon those Allotments?
The Rent I have always imposed has been the same as the Rent paid to the Farmers, and I have done this with a view that no Person might be deterred by the Lowness of the Rent from adopting the same System.
Do you make them subject to the usual Charges incidental to Land?
No; the Demesne at Wells is not subject to them.
That has been an Advantage to them?
Will your Lordship have the goodness to state the Extent to which you have now adopted the same System near the City of Wells?
There are Three Fields, Fifteen Acres in each, making in all Forty-five Acres, which I have divided among the Poor in the Neighbourhood, in Quarters of an Acre, and Half Acres, depending upon the Size of the Family; and there have been One or Two Individuals alone to whom I have given an Acre. I have also let Land to the Poor at Mendip, which is at a greater Distance from the City, to nearly the same Amount.
At what Rent have you let that Land?
They have it at the Rent which was paid by the Tenant to myself before I let it to the Poor. That in the immediate Neighbourhood of Wells was at the Rate of Two Guineas an Acre. All the Land is Tithe-free, and is subject to no Deductions, being Part of the ancient Demesne of the Bishoprick.
Can you state the Produce?
I have inquired particularly of the Occupiers. They almost all agree in saying that a Quarter of an Acre will produce Twenty Sacks of Potatoes, each Sack containing Three Bushels, the Average Price of which, as far as can be ascertained, varies from 1s. 9d. to 2s. a Bushel; therefore the Produce from a Quarter of an Acre will be from Five to Six Pounds.
Do they cultivate Potatoes only?
They are at liberty to make what Profit they can from the Land. I have promised it to them during my Episcopate. But besides Potatoes they grow also other Vegetables and Cabbages, along the Rows, for their Spring or Winter Consumption.
Are those Allotments near their Habitations?
They are within a Quarter of a Mile of the City of Wells.
Do they find any Difficulty in procuring a sufficient Quantity of Manure to render that Land productive?
They manage, I believe, all of them, to procure Manure sufficient. The Land has borne a Crop of Potatoes each Year for Six Years, and each Crop has been an improving one. They have had Wheat on some few of the Allotments, but Potatoes are the general Crop.
Does your Lordship know whether they purchase Manure for the Purpose of laying it on the Land, or whether that Manure is produced by their own Cattle?
Some few of them purchase, I believe, a little Manure; but in general, by Management, they procure it for themselves; which is, I think, One of the Advantages arising out of the Plan.
What Stock do those Allotments enable them to keep?
Some of the Poor have a Pig, but I do not think any of them have other Stock; nor do I encourage their Purchase of a Cow, as it would be a Risk, and few of them would have the Means, I think, of keeping it.
Have any of them attempted to plant any Part of their Allotments with Fruit Trees?
No, none. That never was a Part of their Plan, nor of my own.
Does your Lordship give any further Assistance to these Persons?
Yes; I fix the Payment to be made on a certain Day, and if they pay at the Time appointed, they have a Deduction given to them. I give also a Premium to those who produce the best, the second best, and the third best Crop, which is a Stimulus to Industry; they are proud of gaining the Prize.
Can your Lordship state what is the Rate of Wages in the Neighbourhood of Wells?
I am afraid it does not upon an Average amount to Nine Shillings a Week in the Neighbourhood of Wells; of course it varies; but I fear the Average is lower than that. I never give less; but less is given.
What is the Rent of the Cottages in the Neighbourhood of Wells?
We have not a great Number of what may be called Cottages. The Occupiers live in, or near the Suburbs of the City. Their Rent in general is about Three Guineas.
Do you know whether the Labourers who have this Produce receive any Parochial Relief?
Some do, and some do not; but I think fewer now than did before. In general, however, the Poor do receive Parochial Relief, unless they are regularly employed by the Farmers in the Neighbourhood for the Year.
Do People in regular Employment, and earning the Wages of Nine Shillings a Week, receive any Allowance from the Parish?
I do not think, if it were known that they received Nine Shillings a Week, that the Overseer would in any instance give them any other Allowance; unless indeed they had very large Families. I do not mean to say that they never do, but I think in general, if they did earn Nine Shillings a Week, that they would not receive any Parochial Pay.
Can your Lordship state whether they live in a State of comparative Comfort upon those Wages, together with the Allotments let to them by you?
My own Labourers appear to be perfectly satisfied with their Pay, as I asked whether that was the Case, and they said that it was so. This Year and the last have been Years of unusual Suffering; but with the Pay and Land they declared themselves satisfied.
Is Fuel cheaper in the Neighbourhood of Wells?
Coals are very reasonable at Wells. They get them from a Place about Ten Miles off. When I distribute them, I pay a Guinea and a Half at the Pit for a Waggon Load, exclusive of the Carriage.
What Sum weekly is sufficient to find a Cottager in Coals?
I should think that for about One Shilling per Week they might get Coals that would do tolerably well for that Time.
What have the Poor's Rates been in the City of Wells?
Not paying Rates for my Land, I can hardly with sufficient Accuracy say what the Poor's Rates are. There is a Vestry Meeting holden Once a Week, and they regulate the Poor's Rate according to Circumstances.
Has there been much Distress?
The Poor have suffered very much during last Winter and this. I never rode out but I met with Persons begging for Employment. I employ many, but cannot employ all.
Are they employed upon the Roads?
When they have no other Employment, they are engaged by the Overseers in breaking Stones for the Roads. They have in the Winter a large Number of Men employed in that Way.
Do they express any Dissatisfaction with their Condition?
They do complain very much. I have seen them breaking Stones, and asked what they got. They have said, that some of them earned Eight-pence, and some a Shilling per Day; but they complained very much.
Can your Lordship state the Amount of Population?
The Population of the Parishes is above 6,000; consisting of Two Parishes, the In-Parish and the Out-Parish; and they have distinct Rates.
Can you state the Number of Acres in the Parishes?
I really cannot with that Accuracy with which I would wish to answer the Question; but I believe there are about 13,800 Acres.
Is there any Manufacture in Wells which absorbs any Part of the Population?
There is now hardly any Manufacture at all; very little Employment for the Poor.
When your Lordship first had the Diocese, was there any Manufacture which employed them?
There was then One.
Does your Lordship not think that the Want of Employment tends to demoralize the Labouring Classes?
Undoubtedly, in every Way.
Is your Lordship of Opinion that those Persons who have had the small Allotments of Land let to them are generally better behaved than those who have not that Interest in the Soil?
Decidedly so. They are improved very greatly, not only in their Morals, but in their Manners, in their Appearance and their Comforts.
Is your Lordship of Opinion that last Year the Sufferings of the Labouring Classes in the District with which you are best acquainted was very severe?
Very severe indeed, as I observed before; distressingly severe to every Man of Humanity. I speak from that which I saw. I have not taken the Report of others, but have ascertained the Fact from my own Knowledge.
Is your Lordship aware that it has been the Practice in certain, Parts of England to employ Paupers in drawing Carts?
What has been the Custom in other Parts of England I do not know, but I have seen Persons drawing Coals myself; whether that was voluntary on their Part, or whether it was required of them, I am not able to say, nor whether it still continues to be done.
Is not your Lordship particularly averse to Men being so degraded?
Decidedly so; but their Distresses, I suppose, were such, that they were glad to be employed in that or any other Manner.
Does your Lordship know whether they earned sufficient Wages in that Manner to render them satisfied?
I should think not.
Has your Lordship ever heard them make any Observations to the Effect that they were willing to do any Work to support their Families, but that they saw no Reason why they should be degraded to the Situation of Convicts?
No. I imagined it was their Distress which induced them to submit to such Employment; but whether that was the Case, or not, I am not able to say.
How many Men were drawing the Carts loaded with Coals to which you refer?
I should think Eight or Ten to each Cart.
Does your Lordship know that they were compelled by the Overseers of the Poor to do this?
I have no Knowledge whatever upon this Point.
Is your Lordship aware that in some Parts of the Country Men are employed by the Road Surveyors to draw Stones upon the Roads, and that they are anxious for such Employment at the Wages given?
I have never seen them drawing Stones; that to which I have alluded was the drawing of Coals.
Has your Lordship drawn the Heads of a Bill to improve the Condition of the Labouring Classes, and to lessen the Demands on the Parochial Rates?
I have drawn up Heads of a Bill with that View, and with the Permission of the Committee I will place it upon the Table.
The same is delivered in and read, and is as follows:
Heads of a Plan to improve the Condition of the Labouring Poor, and lessen the Demands on the Parochial Funds.
1. To give additional Legislative Facilities to the affording small Allotments of Land to the Poor.
2. Such Allotments to be apportioned as near as possible to the Dwellings of the Poor.
3. The Rent demanded to be the same as what the Farmer would pay for it.
4. The Land to be let for a Period of Time, provided the Conditions on letting it be fulfilled.
5. The Quantity to vary with the Size and Circumstances of the Family, but not to exceed an Acre.
6. The Land to be cultivated only by Manual Labour, and a certified Quantity of Manure to be laid upon it annually.
7. If the Conditions be not complied with, the Overseer to recover Possession by a summary Process before a Magistrate.
8. The Land to pay no more for Tithe than the Average of the Composition for Ten preceding Years.
9. Wherever it be deemed practicable by the Magistrates acting in and for the Division, the Parish Officers may be compelled to set out small Portions of Land for the Poor.
10. The Overseers to be enabled to let out to the Poor Parts of a Common or Waste, with the Assent of Three Fourths of the Proprietors of the same.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Friday next, Twelve o'Clock.