Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 63, 1830-1831. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].
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Die Lunæ, 14° Martii 1831.
The Marquess of Salisbury in the Chair.
The Reverend John Thomas Becher is called in, and further examined as follows:
Can it be humane or politic to entail upon the Nation a heavy Expence, in sending some of our best Agricultural Labourers Abroad, as long as we have Land at Home which is capable of being improved and made more productive?
In regard to this as well as a former Question I will state to your Lordships the Principle upon which I acted with reference to Colonization, very shortly, because it is here given by Mr. Nolan, in his Speech upon the Amendment of the Poor Laws. "If such a Plan is ever taken up, I would found it upon Two essentially governing Principles; first, that it be not made the Instrument of fraudulent or involuntary Eviction, even of the poorest or most insignificant Individual, from his native Country; ample Precaution should be taken, that all who avail themselves of the Measure should do so solely from the Impulse of voluntary Choice. The other would be, that those Places which are pressed by the Inconvenience should raise, from their local Funds, the necessary Means for enabling the Poor to emigrate. This would form the most effectual Guard against injudiciously pushing the Practice beyond the Evils which the Measure is designed to remedy. No Parish or Place would incur the Expence unless compelled to it by an injurious Superabundance of Population; and no Inhabitant would be aided to remove unless when the Inconvenience of over Numbers was practically felt." If the present Act respecting Emigration passes in its present Extent, it does not apply exclusively to Agricultural Labourers, but to the whole of the Working Classes. Such is the Light in which I have viewed the Question, because the Agriculturalists and Artificers are necessarily mixed up together in Society. Great Questions, it is well known, have arisen respecting inadequate and superabundant Population. I will state to your Lordships practical Facts which occurred within my own Knowledge, in the County of Nottingham, during the Year 1812. There was at that Time a Suspension of the Manufacturing Profits, and a Difference of Opinions between the Masters and the Workmen, principally arising from the Masters having introduced Means of their executing their Work by a more summary Process, so that they were enabled to fabricate Pieces which they could cut up into several Stockings. At one Time these Disagreements proceeded to such a Height, and to such tumultuous Conduct on the Part of the Workmen, that vast Numbers of them were thrown out of Employ, and whole Districts became extensively pauperized by a Mass of Artificers thrown upon the Poor Rates. The Opinion of several on this Occasion was, that a superabundant Population existed, and that the Case scarcely admitted of Remedy. The Superabundance was apparently so excessive, that several Parishes declared that the Expenditure for the Poor was equal to their Income; and an Application was made to the County Magistrates for a Rate upon other Hundreds, in aid of the Parishes so oppressed with Poor. The Magistrates were almost inclined to enter upon the Question, but some of the Parties having consulted Counsel for the Purpose of resisting this Application, it appeared that the Beds must be sold from under the Poor before a Rate in aid could be legally granted. This necessarily threw the Poor and the Proprietors of Estates upon the Consideration of other Resources. A Sum was collected by voluntary Subscription, amounting to about 6,000£.; and a Committee was appointed from different Parts, of whom I happened to be one, to meet from Time to Time in the Centre of the distressed Districts, so as to relieve these Artificers. The comparative Sufferings of the People I conceive was infinitely greater on this Occasion than in the Agricultural Districts, because, in the Agricultural Districts, many of these Paupers have not known Affluence or Happiness; but among the Artificers, many were reduced from earning 1£. or 2£. a Week to a State of total Destitution. It was then determined to employ this Subscription solely in manual Labour, and the Frame-work Knitters were employed at small Wages, I think about 10d. a Day; the Consequence was, that this threw the Artificers upon the Means of devising Self-support; and what was the Consequence? They invented among other Means the Lace Machinery; and I saw that
Population, which had been a little while before declared to be superabundant, rise up into such progressive Improvement, that the Market of Human Labour was not sufficient for the Supply; so that the upper Servants in Gentlemen's Families were tempted, in several instances, to withdraw, not only their Persons, but the Capital that they had accumulated, for the Purpose of dedicating both their Persons and their Property towards the Advancement of these Manufactures: in a Word, Lace-making proceeded at such an incredible Rate, that single Families of Artificers were earning at the Rate of Ten Guineas a Week; this they effected by the Father and his Son working their Machines both Night and Day; they took it in turns, and consequently they were enabled to work permanently. So valuable were the Machines fabricated by the Ingenuity of those Men, (for the Inventions were all, or nearly all, originated by working Men,) some of those Lace Machines were sold for more than 1,000£. apiece; even common Persons for filing the Parts of those Machines were Men hired at the Rate of One Guinea or more per Week. Now, having witnessed those Circumstances, they render me very scrupulous and very reluctant before I can pronounce that this Country is over-peopled. Circumstances of nearly the same kind occurred in 1819; there was a Dispute between the Workmen and the Manufacturers: this was the Time when Colonization was proposed, and it was tendered to the People, at least as far as I was concerned, not from any view to tempt them from their Homes, but to prove that as the Peers and Gentlemen had then made a Subscription of 5,000£. for Employment, and as many were of Opinion that Colonization might be advantageous, this Opportunity should also be presented to the Working Classes: but in this Colonization we communicated with the People individually; the whole Nature and Circumstances of the Transaction were distinctly explained to them; therefore, far from any Individuals being induced to depart from their Home, it was not 'till the Circumstances were fully stated to them, and until they expressed a Wish to depart from their Home, that they were colonized. But if it had then been assumed that our Population had been superabundant, your Lordships, I think, will admit, that, in an extensive Colonization, many Artificers must have been removed, and among those, very ingenious Artificers. The Consequence of our Project was, that they who did not approve colonizing at Algoa Bay, which was our Settlement, but who still wished to leave their Home, went over to France, where they established our own Manufactures, and dedicated their Ingenuity to a Competition against their native Country. One of your Lordships has alluded to the Ways of Providence; and I would ask, whether manfully struggling with Difficulties against Difficulties, does not improve the moral and physical Abilities of rich and poor, and enable us to overcome them? I would ask, whether it does not animate us to devise Means which were beyond our former Knowledge, and almost beyond our Calculation? and whether this has not been the Case in Nottinghamshire? But then Distress has forced the Workmen upon their own Inventions, for we have not allowed the Manufacturers to assist their Workmen by paying a Part of the Wages out of the Parochial Rates: and here I may, perhaps, be permitted to extend my Answer to one of the Questions Yesterday proposed, inquiring why the Northern Counties, at a certain Line of Demarcation, appeared to define the Boundary between the pauperized and the non-pauperized Countries, in respect of Payment out of the Rates? If we were to allow such a Practice in the Manufacturing Counties, it would at once terminate the Existence of Property. In the South, the Farmer or Occupier pays in a different Form than Wages of Labour, for which he has an Allowance from his Landlord; but, in the Manufacturing Counties we should, in paying the Wages of Labour, become Contributors towards the Manufacturers Fund, not towards the Fund of the Landed Interest; therefore we should be paying that for which no Allowance had been made in the Adjustment of Rental between Landlord and Tenant. For instance, if a Hundred Labourers are taken in one of the Southern Counties, though we repudiate the Principle because it demoralizes the Feelings of those People, yet an Allowance for Labourers Wages has been made to the Landlord in the Adjustment of Rent, and the Tenant only conveys to the Agricultural Labourers Subsistence through a different Channel; but if the Payment of Wages out of the Rates were to become a general Practice in Nottinghamshire, 50 out of 100 in some Parishes would be Artificers; then, by paying those Artificers through such a Channel, you would withdraw the Property of the Land to reduce the Price of Manufactures; consequently, though this Arrangement might benefit the Merchant, it would absolutely ruin the Landed Proprietors; indeed, so well was that understood, that a large Landed Proprietor in our County has directed Manufactures, in the Stagnation of Trade, to be carried on without reference to Profit, in order that every poor Man might be employed in this Parish, which was then pauperized nearly to the Extent of the Rental, at such Wages as were thought fair and just; and I believe on the Turn of the Tide, that this Concern did not prove a losing one, though it was dictated originally by pure Benevolence. This I have endeavoured to state as one of the probable Reasons why this Mode of Payment does not predominate in the Northern Counties; and so strictly do we adhere to this Principle, that if a Framework Knitter says, "I want Relief only for One Child," we reply, "Why do you want Relief for One Child;" he answers, "My Wages are not sufficient;" then we add, "Give up your Trade, if it will not support you; exercise your Ingenuity; chuse another;" but we never pay them in part; we never allow able-bodied Men Relief out of the Parish Purse when they are working for the Manufacturers. Then, with regard to this Mode of Payment, there is another gross Inequality in it, which I would just state. I could apply it to Houses and Property of other Denominations, but I will take the Tithe; it matters not whether it belongs to the Lay Impropriator or the Clerical Incumbent. Let it be assumed that a Man occupies Eight Acres of Land, and that the Rent of this Land is stated to be 1£. an Acre, which will amount to 8£. a Year; I will presume that the Tenant makes of that Land Three Rents; 8£. for his Landlord, 8£. as a Return for his own Capital and Superintendence, and 8£. for the Expences of Cultivation; we will assume that he pays the Whole of the Wages for Labour through this Channel, for if he pays a Part, he may, upon the same Principle, pay the Whole; at all events the proportionate Results will be the same. Now your Lordships will find, in the Evidence taken on Labourers Wages before the Committee of the House of Commons, that meaning to do an Act which I consider to be unjust, the Occupiers of Land did once, at Hurstmanceaux, in the County of Sussex, pay the Labourers only 6d. a Day, in order that in this Parish they might pay the remaining 1s. 6d. out of the Rates. Now this Farmer, we will suppose, cultivates at the Rate of 22s. 6d. per Acre for Labour; then the Labour paid out of the Rates will necessarily amount to 9£., that is Cent. per Cent. upon the Rent and the Tithe; the Whole of the Tithe is in such a Case absolutely absorbed. But how does the Farmer? He pays 8£. for Labour, but he receives the Whole of these Disbursements for Labour through a different Channel. I mention this, because a Bill pending before the House of Commons; — and I have not heard this Point so distinctly explained as I think it might be, though I conceive it would prove ruinous to Property in Tithes, and also injurious to Property of other Denomination; — if that Bill were sanctioned by the Legislature, it would confer a Power which might operate to the utter Extinction of such Property, because the Tithe Owner stands in a different Situation from any other Rate Payer, inasmuch as he is rated as the Owner, whereas in all other Cases the Occupier is rated.
Upon the whole, the Committee may infer that you are of Opinion it is not politic or humane to send them Abroad while we have Land at Home capable of Cultivation?
I should state further, that, by the Desire of the Noble Chairman, I have made out here a very copious Tabular Statement, extending the Comparison between Nottinghamshire and Sussex to every County in England; whence, on taking the Sums from Parliamentary Documents, it appears that the Rental of Land is nearly Fifty Millions of Pounds, as it was taken in 1815. It may be said that Land has fallen; still I believe the Rental of the Kingdom to be nearly as good as it was; because, though Land may have fallen, still the Multiplication of Houses has filled up this Deficiency, and raised the Aggregate to nearly its former Value. I hope I shall be enabled to obtain the actual Rent of the Land independently of the Rent of the Houses. We will for our present Purpose call the Rental of the Land Forty Millions; then we must have Three Fourths Profit upon it, being the Proportion assumed under the Property Tax Act; that is Thirty Millions, making jointly Seventy Millions. I mention this, because I have not seen the Tenants Profit taken correctly into account on making such Calculations.
You mean Profit on Capital employed upon it?
Yes; Profit arising out of the Land; for we generally speak of Rent not taking into account that it is universally admitted there remains still a Rent of about Three Fourths for the Tenant; besides which it appears, from the Table presented, there are Thirty-two Millions of Acres, and of those there are Twenty-seven Millions, I assume, of cultivated Acres.
In what Country are there Thirty-two Millions of Acres?
In England. I took the List of Counties, with the Annual Value of Property assessed in 1815 to the Property Tax; then the Square Miles, as stated in the Local Taxation, Column 4; then the Square Acres, being the Square Miles multiplied into 640; then I took Six Sevenths of the Square Acres, assuming them to be the cultivated Acres, which Process has been computed for every County. I then took the Population as it was in 1821. Column 7 gives the Total Number of Families in the Kingdom. Column 8 gives the Number of those Families that are Agricultural, taken from the Population Returns. Column 9 gives Seven Twelfths of the Agricultural Families, which I assume to be Labourers Families. Column 10 gives the cultivated Acres, divided into the Total Number of Agricultural Families. The next Column contains the Number of Acres assignable to each Labourer's Family. Then the Expenditure for Labour upon those Acres is stated for each Agricultural Family, assuming its Amount either to be 1£. or 15s. or 10s. or 5s. per Acre. I had in my Comparison taken 10s. as the lowest Sum, but have brought it down to 5s. by the Desire of the Chairman. The same Expenditure apportioned among the Labourers Families; then the Total Population, divided so as to give the Number of every Family; and then the Expenditure for the Poor, extracted from the Local Taxation Report in 1831; then the Expenditure on account of the Poor per Acre; then the Expenditure on account of the Poor per Head; then the Population upon every Square Mile; and afterwards the Number of Acres assignable to every Inhabitant of England; next, the Number of Poor relieved in every Hundred, and the Number of Members in every Friendly Society. Hence, I find that there are for every Agricultural Family Thirty-five cultivated Acres and Nine Tenths, being very nearly Thirty-six Acres; and there are Sixty-two cultivated Acres for what I assume to be every Labourer's Family. Now, when we talk of Overpopulation, I wish to trace the Subject in this Manner, and to ascertain what would be the Effect of Colonization. I will read the Columns relating to Hertfordshire, which Circumstances stand thus for that County: — The Rental of Hertfordshire is 571,107£.; the Square Miles in it are 528; the Square Acres are 337,920; the cultivated Acres are 289,646; the Population in 1821 was 129,714; the Total Number of Families was 26,170; the Number of Agricultural Families was 13,485; the Number of Labourers Families assumed was 7,866; the Number of Acres for each Agricultural Family was Twenty-one; and the Number of Acres for each Labourer's Family was Thirty-six; and taking the Expenditure for Cultivation at 1£. an Acre, there was for every Agricultural Family 21£., at 15s. an Acre Fifteen Guineas, at 10s. an Acre Ten Guineas, and at 5s. an Acre Five Guineas; and for every Labourer's Family at 1£. an Acre 36£., at 15s. an Acre 27£., at 10s. an Acre 18£., and at 5s. an Acre 9£. The Number of each Family consisted of Four and Nine Tenths. The Expenditure for the Poor in that County was 91,796£. in the Year ending on the 25th March 1829, and the Expence of the whole was 5s. 5d. per Acre; and it was 14s. 1½d. per Head. Population on each Square Mile, 245; Acres for each Person, Two and Sixth Tenths; Number of Poor in every 100 Persons, 11; Number in Friendly Societies, Nine and a Half per Cent.
What was the Result in Sussex?
In Sussex, 5s.; but it being in Hertfordshire the Sum computed upon the Population is 14s. 1½ d. per Head; in Sussex it is 1£. 0s. 2½d. per Head. In Hertfordshire there are 295 Persons upon the Square Mile, and in Sussex only 159. The Number of Poor relieved in Hertfordshire is 11 in the Hundred; in Sussex 14; and the Number of Persons in Friendly Societies is Nine and a Half per Cent. in Hertfordshire, and in Sussex only Two and a Half per Cent. In the Hundred of Redbornstoke the Question is asked, What Number of able-bodied Labourers can be spared? The Answer is, 681. Now, if we emigrate the 681 Persons, it appears in all the Parliamentry Reports that the Number of Houses is nearly equal to the Number of Families; therefore we have 681 Families to emigrate, and as Five may be taken for a Family—we may, for colloquial Calculation, call it 600,—we then have 600 multiplied into Five, or 3,000 Persons to emigrate. Various Sums have been stated as the Expence of Emigration, but we will suppose that Persons may be emigrated as low as 10£. each; we will take the above 3,000 Persons at 10£. each, amounting to 30,000£., who have quitted their Dwellings: now either these Habitations will be occupied or they will be unoccupied; if they are occupied they will be occupied by younger Persons than those who emigrated, consequently by Persons more likely to produce young Families; therefore the latter End of such a Measure will be worse than the first: but if we suppose that they remain unoccupied, the Consequence will be, that the Parish has paid first of all 10£. a Man, or 30,000£.; but there was a Quantity of the Capital of the Country vested in their Dwellings, and these Tenements we may average as producing 5£. each a Year Rent, which for the 600 will be 3,000£. a Year withdrawn from the Rent of such a District; but if we make our Computation upon the Capital of the Country, then 5£. may be taken as the Representative of 100£., or perhaps of 150£. laid out in building; we have therefore 600 Times these Sums, namely, either 60,000£. or 90,000£. withdrawn from the fixed Capital of the Country, in addition to 30,000£. paid as a low Estimate for Emigration. But I contend that it is impossible in the present State of Things that the deserted Dwellings should remain permanently unoccupied; there are People always ready to marry if Opportunity be presented, and any body who inquires among the People will say so. Young Persons frequently say, in the humble Walks of Life, "We are going to be married, but we are waiting for a Harbour," meaning for a Dwelling House. But under any Circumstances such Tenements would not remain unoccupied, because the Rents of these Houses would be progressively reduced; they would be first offered at Three Quarters of the former Rent, then at Half, or, in fact, on any Terms, rather than allow them to remain unoccupied and unproductive; the Consequence of which would be, that in attempting to relieve the Density of the Population, I feel convinced we should eventually increase it. Moreover, we should take away what Mr. Malthus calls the very Essence of the restrictive Check. I do not mean any Check specially on matrimonial Union, but the Moral Influences which induce discreet Persons to abstain from Marriage until they have made some Provision towards the Maintenance of a Family; and we should have taken away all such Restraint if we had emigrated out of Nottinghamshire to the Extent assumed in the preceding Argument, for the Hundred of Redbornstoke would, according to their own Statement, emigrate about One Fourth of their whole Population. Now, if we had emigrated upon this Principle One Fourth of the Population, we should have ruined the County, and we should have injured, to a certain Extent, the Welfare of the Kingdom as far as the Nottinghamshire Manufactory is concerned; though at the present Time I understand that the Manufacturers are doing more Business in Nottinghamshire, notwithstanding these preventive Checks, than they have been performing at any former Period; it is apportioned in a different Manner, and passes into other Hands. Capital is spread over a more extensive Surface; but I know, from the very best Authority, that the Manufacturers are now doing more Business than at any previous Time; the working Artificers are all usefully and happily employed.
Can it therefore, after what you have said, be humane or politic to send them Abroad as long as we have Land at Home which is capable of being improved and made more productive?
I have never yet seen the Question fairly decided, Whether there be sufficient Capital available so as to cultivate the Land? Taking into Consideration the general Average of Time and Season, for an occasional Stagnation will unavoidably occur, there has actually existed what I conceive a superabundant Population, that is, a Population exceeding the Competency of the Land and the Labour of the District or Country to support, when, the Population and the Property have been fully called into Operation.
Can there be any Want of Land of this Description when there are 6,710,400 Acres of uncultivated Land in England alone?
We must unite Land, Labour and Capital, to render the System productive; and in stating, upon the Table submitted, the Number of Acres assignable for each Agricultural Family or to each Agricultural Labourer's Family, I will further add, because it will shorten the Consideration of any Peer who thinks it worth while to dedicate his Attention to this Point, that we maintain the Poor in our Workhouses well, giving them Meat twice a Week, at 2s. a Week, taking the Average of Men, Women and Children, including Apparel. I believe the Poor can maintain themselves better and cheaper than we can. The Annual Cost is 5£. 4s. a Head; therefore your Lordships may ascertain at any Time whether there be a sufficient Number of Acres appropriated to any Family, so as to produce for them 5£. 4s. a Head as Wages of Labour; if there be, then sufficient has been earned to maintain the whole Population.
The Witness delivers in the Paper referred to by him; which is read.
(See the Tabular Statement, Page 317.)
Do not you find that in the pauperized Districts the Families are too much crowded, Two or Three Families in a Cottage?
Your Lordships will perceive from the Table that there are several populous Counties, and on examining the whole of the Counties there does not appear a Difference exceeding Unity between the highest and the lowest Number of Persons in any Family, taking any Two Counties. The Families averaging the greatest Number contain Five and Three Tenths Individuals, in Sussex, and the smallest Families contain Four and Three Tenths Individuals, in Middlesex.
Do the Family mean all the Inmates of the Cottage, whether One or more?
I find the Number of Families that there are, and I find the Number of People; if we divide the Population by the Number of Families, we find the Number in each Family.
Do you mean that each House contains only Four and a Fraction, or that each Family consists of Four and a Fraction?
The Families and the Houses are not taken in the Population Returns, as coincident Quantities.
Supposing a Man and his Wife and One Child, and another Man and his Wife and Two Children, occupying One Cottage, would you call that One Family?
No. The Number of Families in England is not strictly equal to the Number of Houses. Mr. Rickman, by whom the original Returns were compiled and arranged, has told me that he thinks the Agricultural Families a good Column; in his Opinion that Column is as correct as can be expected. The Inquiry was made at each Cottage of the Number residing in the Cottage. According to the Returns the Total Number of inhabited Houses are to the Total Number of Families nearly as 19 to 23.
If the Excess were to emigrate, there would still remain but One Family to every House, the Consequence of which would be, that there would be no Number of Houses left untenanted?
If 19 inhabited Houses contain 23 Families, then there will be in every 100 Houses an Excess of about 21 additional Families.
If those Families were to emigrate, there would be no superfluous Population?
If you could exactly gauge the Families as you would a Machine, and say, I will take precisely that Part away which creates an Excess in each House, such an Apportionment would not leave the Houses unoccupied; but I think it would reduce the Rents, because the Number remaining would not be so able to pay the Rent as when they were subject only to a Part of it.
You state that you conceive the Rental, including the Houses, must be nearly the same as it was in 1815; how do you conceive, taking the Prices of the last few Years, that the Tenantry have been able to meet that Reduction in Price without a Loss of Capital, particularly in poor Soils?
In Nottinghamshire there has been a Diminution in the Amount of Rents to the Extent of Twenty or Twenty-five per Cent., and where such Deductions have not been made, the Farmers have undoubtedly, in several instances, sacrificed their own Capital, and sustained a Loss.
If, where the Soil is generally good, as it is in Nottinghamshire, they have in many instances suffered in their Capital, do not you think that in Sussex, where the Soil is greatly inferior, they must have sustained greater Losses and suffer greater Inability of employing Labour?
I am not competent to speak precisely as to the comparative Value of the Land in Sussex and Nottinghamshire; but in Nottinghamshire there is a very large District of light blowing sandy Soil, yielding little, if any, Profit in Cultivation. In other Parts of it, and particularly in my own Neighbourhood, there are as strong tenacious unproductive Clays as I know of in any Part of the Kingdom.
What may be the Produce per Acre of Wheat upon that strong unproductive Land?
Under bad Cultivation about Twenty Bushels or Two Quarters and a Half, and under good Cultivation about Three Quarters, that is, Twenty-four Bushels.
On the light blowing Sand what is the Production?
Scarcely any thing in Corn; it is the Sustentation which is yielded by Turnips and by artificial Grasses which constitutes the principal Value of the very light sandy Soils; indeed, were it not for the Investment of Capital to a great Extent, and that principally in Bones, such Land would produce little or nothing.
How much of any other kind of Grain would this very light Land produce by the Acre?
Perhaps from Three to Four Quarters of Barley, to which we may add, as a Source of Profit, the preceding Turnips, and then the Seeds that are upon it; but I have known a whole Field carried away by the Wind.
Have you any further Statement of the Price of Cultivation per Acre in your County?
I have another from The Duke of Portland, and another from Mr. John Parkinson. The Duke of Portland, in his Letter, says, "I send you the following Account of Mr. Neil's Farm, under very high Management, for Three Years:—Acres, 260; Labour in 1828, 280; in 1829, 300; in 1830, 338. He is in the habit of bringing annually more than 300 Tons of Manure from Mansfield. The Average for Cultivation of 200 Acres for Three Years is 23s. 6d. per Acre." Mr. Parkinson writes as follows: — "Ley Fields, Newark, 11th March 1831. Revd Sir, I beg to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favour, dated the 7th Instant, and to express my Obligation for your good Opinion. I have considered the Subject of my last Communication to you more fully; and although I am convinced that, to carry on the Business of a Farm, of the Average Quality of Land and containing an Average Proportion of Arable, in the Manner now practised by many Occupiers of Land in this County, and which is certainly more beneficial both for Landlord and Tenant than if an inferior System were adopted by them, their Expences have for the last Three Years exceeded considerably 20s. per Acre per Annum; yet, taking into account the Proportions of light sandy Soil, and permanent Pasture and Meadow, and that there are many who do not, from Inability or the Want of proper Spirit, expend the Amount which they might do to advantage, I think that the Expenditure for Agricultural Labour upon all the Land used for Farming Purposes (excepting Roads, Wastes and Fences,) may not have exceeded 15s. per Acre per Annum for the last Three Years, and which is the Opinion of several, whom I think competent to give the Matter proper Consideration. The Expenditure for Labour on the Demesne Lands, and in Woods and Gardens, &c. must be considerably more; and the Amount paid for making Roads, and for draining Land, and various Improvements made by Landlords, must be-considered as paid in addition to the Average of 15s. per Acre per Annum. It is incumbent upon me to correct, by the foregoing Statement, the Opinion respecting the Average Expenditure for Agricultural Labour which I transmitted to you, as in the preparing thereof I had reference to the Management of too great a Proportion of those whose Concerns are certainly carried on at an Expence beyond the Ability of the Majority of Farmers in this County. In consequence of the general Liberality of the Landlords in this County, and from their having found Employment for so many Labourers, their Tenants have been enabled to give adequate Wages for supporting the Agricultural Population, without Parochial Relief, except in Cases of Infirmity and Sickness. In this Part of the County Farmers were sometimes inconvenienced by sturdy Paupers who depended upon and obtained Parochial Relief, although they could have earned sufficient Wages for supporting themselves and their Families; but since the establishing of that excellent Institution, "The Incorporated Poorhouse at Upton," a much better System of Management has prevailed, and which has produced most beneficial Effects, for the Labouring Classes here have never been more industrious and contented than they are at the present Time, and all are in full Employment and at good Wages. Wherever there is Distress, and the Agricultural Population is not in full Employment, it is most advisable that Landlords should improve their Estates in preference to their making Returns for Rent due. In all Cases where Rents are too high, permanent Abatement ought to be made, or Ruin is inevitable; but instead of making Returns of Rent on account of casual Losses, the Liberality of Proprietors would ultimately prove more advantageous to themselves and their Tenants by making permanent Improvements, than if the latter were assisted in any other Manner." I was asked on a former Day whether I could produce the Table that was originated at Speenhamland. I have got it now.
The same is read, and is as follows:
This shews at One View what should be the Weekly Income of the industrious Poor as settled by the Magistrates for the County of Berks, at a Meeting held at Speenhamland, 6th May 1795.
I have before me a Paper that I wished to have laid upon your Lordships Table, which proves these Facts: — In the Year 1823, when the Workhouse for my Neighbourhood was incorporated, the Rates payable by each Person were to be computed on what are called, in Gilbert's Act, their Mediums; those are the Rates payable solely on account of the Poor for the Term of Three Years immediately preceding the given Date. I examined those Rates myself, in conjunction with Two Arbitrators, and we reduced their Expenditure for the Poor to the lowest possible Sum; we then gave them the Rate that they might further reduce the Amount if practicable; consequently it stands at the lowest Sum. Notwithstanding this, it appears, by the Return made to me at Lady Day in the Year 1830, that the Rates which amounted in 1823 to 6,603£. were reduced in 1830 to 5,832£. being a Decrease of 771£. All the Accounts of those Parishes have been so arranged upon my System of Book-keeping, that I could explain, if it were desired, under what particular Heads of Expenditure the Increase and the Decrease took place in each Parish.
The Witness delivers in the Paper; which is read, and is as follows:
Have you turned your Attention at all to Spade Husbandry?
I did, when Nottingham was distressed; that was one of the Means we tried; we had some such Employment; and we have always in the Parish of Southwell a few Acres, perhaps Four or Five, to cultivate in this Manner; but our primary Object is merely to be enabled to say to a Man, "If you insist upon Employment, you may go and dig by the Piece." The Poor would undertake the Work at 3d. a Rod, Perch or Pole, that is, Thirty Square Yards and a Quarter, being about 2£. per Acre; but we allow them 4d. per Rod, or 2£. 13s. 4d. per Acre; we will say 2£.: but when we talk of generalizing Spade Husbandry as a Source of regular profitable Employment, we must take into account that it is impossible to conduct Agricultural Concerns without a certain Number of Horses; therefore Spade Husbandry cannot be extensively introduced as a Substitute for our present System of Husbandry. When Mr. Rickman read my little Book on the Anti-pauper System, he was pleased with it, and he made several minute Inquiries upon Subjects connected with the Management of the Poor in the Isle of Wight; they are, according to his Calculations, which I believe to be correct, purchasing Potatoes at 1s. 4d. while they are producing them by the Spade Husbandry at 11s. 9d. Potatoes being there grown at 11s. 9d. the Bushel, namely, 2,102 Bushels for 1,194£. though Potatoes in large Quantities were purchased at 1s. 9d. With regard to Spade Husbandry, all the Experience I have had goes nearly to this Point: every Man in Thurgaton, which is considered a well-regulated Parish, has a Garden; the Maximum of his Garden is Half an Acre, the Minimum a Rood: we have always found that a Man is considerably benefited by a small Garden, but that the Size of it should be such as to merely occupy occasionally his leisure Hours, without taking his Labour out of the Market, otherwise an Injury will be done to the Landowners and Occupiers.
Have you had any Opportunity of observing whether the Produce of Land is increased by Spade Husbandry, or not?
We may say, from looking at the Gardens around us, that it is increased manifold by Spade Husbandry in combination with other Circumstances; and in our strong Clays, Spade Husbandry would create a Drainage, because the Spade penetrates deeper than the Plough; but then, unless the Diggers were vigilantly watched, they have constant Opportunities of defrauding their Employers by not penetrating to a sufficient Depth. I have known Spade Husbandry tried to the Extent of some Acres during the Distresses of our Artificers, but it did not answerr.
What was the Loss?
I cannot say. We allowed the Men out of the Public Subscription, I think, about 10d. a Day, that they might dig, as a Substitute for ploughing it; at 3d. a Rod or Perch, the digging of 160 Perches, being One Acre, would be 2£.; and at 4d. a Rod or Perch, it would be 2£. 13s. 4d. The ploughing of an Acre of Land is worth about 10s.; consequently there is 2£. 3s. 4d. to set against the additional Produce; but that 10s. is the Cost if the Farmer has to pay for his Horses, not where he has them.
There is no Increase of Produce commensurate with the additional Expence?
I have never found that there was; their Gardens should not be such as to get them into the Irish Potatoe System, so as to increase in Population in that Way, or the Evil of Pauperism will be increased.
What is your Opinion with regard to the keeping of Cows?
That I have known tried extensively; it appears too great a Risk for a poor Man; and I have found it constantly tempting them to keep their Children at Home; their Daughters remain at Home to milk the Cows, and they get into Mischief. The great Advantage of a poor Man is, to teach his Family, as soon as possible, the Means of earning their own Livelihood, so as to subsist upon their personal Resources; therefore, regarding Cow-keeping as a System, I do not think it is beneficial to a Cottager, or to the Members of his Family.
Do you conceive that Thrashing Machines have the Effect of adding to the Means of Employment, or have a contrary Effect?
I have made very minute Inquiries respecting them; I have known them erected in our Country, and taken down again. Mr. Sutton of Kelham, the Brother to the late Archbishop of Canterbury, erected one, which was very soon taken down. Admiral Sotheron erected another, which was taken down. The Mr. Milwards, and nearly the whole of the Farmers around us, conduct their extensive Concerns without Thrashing Machines. It appears to me that the Question has never been argued upon its true Principle. Some of the Writers endeavour to sustain the Legality of using such Machines. I suppose no Person will deny the Lawfulness of using any Machine not prohibited by the Legislature. Then they say, that it produces One Tenth more Corn in certain Years, when Corn yields reluctantly to the Flail; possibly it may produce rather more Grain from the Straw, but it does not do so if suitable Wages for thrashing are allowed to Labourers, so as to induce them to thrash all the Corn out of the Straw; besides which, it produces an Effect detrimental to the Farmer, because it deteriorates the Value of the Straw. The Reason why I conceive the Question not to have been argued upon its true Principles is, that they reason upon the general Principles of Political Economy, without treating the Employment of such Machinery as a Question of Expediency. The Question to be decided by the Farmer is, Whether it be advisable to throw out of Employment those Labourers whom he is compelled to sustain when he has divested them of their ordinary Occupation? That peculiar Circumstance affects materially this Case, and imposes upon it a peculiar Character; for instance, a Manufacturer at Nottingham invents a Machine for shortening Labour; he throws a certain Number of Persons out of Employ; but he is subject only to a Rate upon his Dwelling House and his Factory or his Warehouse; but if the same Number of Persons are thrown out of Employ in an Agricultural Parish, they must still be maintained by the very Person who uses these Thrashing Machines. Therefore the Question in many Parts is, Whether the Labourers shall be maintained in Idleness, or whether the Farmers will lay aside their Thrashing Machines? In certain Districts their Husbandry cannot be conducted without Machinery; for instance, in the Neighbourhood of Howden, in Yorkshire, and in other Districts which are thinly peopled. But I will state it as a general Case. It is laid down as a Principle of Political Economy, that if a Machine is useful for abridging Labour, all Persons exercising the same Employment must, to compete successfully in the Market, use the same Machine, or such a Machine as will equally reduce the Cost of Labour. In the Reports on the Corn Laws before the House of Commons, the Wheat grown in England was taken at nearly Ten Millions of Quarters, and all other kinds of Corn at about Twentyseven Millions of Quarters: the present Annual Produce has been supposed to equal more than Forty-eight Millions of Quarters of Grain of different sorts. Now supposing this to be thrashed at the Rate of Half a Crown a Quarter, which is about the Average Rate, then, as Half a Crown is the Eighth of a Pound, Six Millions of Money are the Eighth Part of Forty-eight Millions. Then the Question becomes a Question of Expediency, Whether I will take Six Millions of Money out of the Fund for Human Agricultural Labour, and whether I will deteriorate the Straw? I know it will be replied, Women and Boys are employed in Thrashing Machines; I am fully aware of that. Suppose that a Million of Money may be paid to them under those Circumstances, or call it even Two Millions, still there will be Four Millions of Money taken out of the Market by those who are compelled to support the Individuals who have been dispossessed of their Occupation, and to maintain them either with or without Employment; consequently, in any Community where Labour is not superabundant, the Thrashing Machine imposes an Expence on Farmers, even though the Corn may be rendered cheaper and the Straw not deteriorated. Still, however, that Cheapness does not attach so much to the Farmer as to the Country in general. Moreover, we know that Transition is always attended with Inconvenience both to Operatives and to Mechanists; by which I mean, Transition from Human Labour to Machinery, or from one Species of Machinery to another: though the Change may eventually prove advantageous, still Transition is, during its Progress, invariably attended with partial Distress.
How much do you conceive is produced more by the Thrashing Machine than by the Flail?
It has been assumed to be One Tenth; but I have asked Mr. Milward, who, with his Brother, cultivates 2,000 Acres, and he does not conceive there is any Gain, taking the Straw into Consideration, but rather the contrary.
It has been supposed that Wheat thrashed by a Flail produces Ninety-eight Quarters, when by the Thrashing Machine it produces a Hundred; do you conceive that to be true?
That would, if true, amount only to One Fiftieth Part, which would not by any means be a Compensation for the Loss of the Straw. The Cattle eat the Straw that has passed directly from the Barn into the Fold Yard; but you cannot prevail upon them to eat the Straw which has been thrashed and huddled together, and kept for a considerable Time; it is not like the Straw served out to them from the Stack. I think one Proof that the Profit and Expediency of Thrashing Machines must be doubtful is, that Mr. Sutton of Kelham, and Admiral Sotheron, neither of them deficient in Capital, have laid aside their Thrashing Machines for several Years. At Clumber they have a Thrashing Machine, but they are not using it. Some state that the Horses are used at Times when they would otherwise stand idle; but in our County the Horses of a good Farmer are never without sufficient Employment; this I can state from personal Experience as well as from undoubted Authority.
Has any Alteration occurred to you as expedient in the Law of Settlement?
With regard to all the Laws concerning the Poor, I have no hesitation in saying, and I think every practical Magistrate must know, that it is much to be regretted, that, among the Consolidation of various Laws— those for Larceny and malicious Mischief, Turnpikes, and others, the Laws respecting the Poor have never been subjected to any substantial Revisal or Consolidation. If any Person takes up Nolan's Treatise on the Poor Laws, he will find that in the Third Volume there are 111 Statutes respecting the Poor; and if I have to refer to the Law required for the Management of a Workhouse I have to turn over Ten Acts of Parliament, several of which are contradictory to others. As to the Law of Settlement, and as to Parochial Questions, I have an Extract here, taken from Mr. T. Tidd Pratt's Edition of Bott's Poor Laws, which brings the Cases down to the Year 1827; and the adjudged Cases, which constitute but a very small Portion of the decided Cases, may be thus enumerated:—" Overseers, 78; Poor's Rate, 229; Overseers Accounts, 42; Proceedings for and against Overseers, 45; Rating Parishes in Aid, 23; Maintenance of Relatives, 36; Relief and Orders of Poor, 25." Then we come to Settlements:—" Bastards, 138; Parish Apprentices, 120; Proceedings for Poor in Incorporated Parishes, 1; Settlement by Birth, 32; Settlement by Parentage, 53; Settlement by Marriage, 38; Settlement by renting Tenements, 106; Settlement by serving an Office, 25; Settlement by Hiring and Service, 231; Settlement by Apprenticeship, 118; Settlement by Estate, 80; Persons irremovable until chargeable, 19: of Certificate, 64; Removal of the Poor, 147; Appeal to Sessions, 123: Total, 1,788." Now if we could go back, so far as Settlements are concerned, to the Statute of Queen Elizabeth, C. 43, it would be highly desirable. The Statute before the 43d of Elizabeth was the 14th of Elizabeth, which says that the Poor shall be maintained in that Place where they have been most conversant for the last Three Years, or at the Place of their Birth. It would prove highly beneficial if we could make the Place of Birth and the Place of Residence for Three Years, the only Modes of Settlement. Birth I do not conceive would be exclusively a desirable Mode of Settlement, because it is one of the Questions on which a Pauper can give no legal Evidence; consequently no judicious Man, if he can avoid it, will set up a Settlement by Birth. For instance, a Pauper is asked, Where were you born? He cannot know more than the Report upon this Point; therefore a Witness must be sent to examine the Parish Register, if it be at the Land's-end, and to bring back an authentic Copy; after which it is necessary to prove the Pauper's Identity. Then the Statute says, "where they have been most conversant the last Three Years." If Residence for Three Years would acquire a Man a Settlement, I conceive that Residence might be taken as Residence has been defined under the Clerical Residence Act, an Absence of Ninety Days nullifying the Residence. Any Person might give Notice to the Parish Officer that he or she will be examined, as it is now lawful under the Mutiny Act, and was formerly under the Friendly Society Act; and the Record of the Justices, if unappealed against, might be the Place of the Examinant's Settlement. But if your Lordships should think that would be abrogating too much of the Law, you will perceive that the Number of Questions decided upon Hiring and Service amount to Double the Questions adjudged on any other Mode of Settlement. Now for that as well as for other Reasons, it appears to me desirable, to prevent in future the acquiring of a Settlement by Hiring and Service; for in order to defeat a Settlement by Hiring and Service a Person was hired for Three Days less than a Year. The Question came before Justice Buller in the Case of The King and Mursley, in the Year 1787, when it was decided, that a Pauper may be hired for less than a Year, to prevent his gaining a Settlement; for such Hiring is not necessarily fraudulent. The Consequence of this Case has been, that in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire, scarcely any Servant is hired for a Year by any Person in Husbandry; such Servants are hired for Fifty-one Weeks. The Consequence is, that they are at liberty during One Week in the Year. The Bond between Master and Servant is dissolved; those who have no Friends spend their Time in Alehouses, or loiter about the Country, to the Detriment of their Habits and Morals. It will I presume be admitted, that when a Law is nominally in force, but is virtually and systematically evaded, that Law amounts to a dead Letter on the Statute Book. Now, this Mode of Settlement is virtually evaded in nearly all Cases, giving rise to Litigations and Perjuries without Number; for when these Settlements come under Discussion, the Pauper, not having completely understood the Nature of the Contract, swears to a Hiring for a Year; his Employer swears, on the other Side, that the Hiring was only for Fifty-one Weeks; he offers to produce his Book; his Book cannot be submitted to the Court, unless it be called for by the opposite Party; the Consequence of which is, that the Poor, not being able to discern between what is denominated in the Law an evasive Settlement and a fraudulent Settlement, are constantly devising the Means of defeating the Law. To prevent this, I provide for them, in Nottinghamshire, little Books, which are printed and ruled, to prevent, if possible, such frequent Perjuries. These Books contain the Date of hiring, the Name of the Master, the Name of the Servant, the Term from such a Time to such a Time, the Wages, together with the Signature of the contracting Parties and of a Witness. But the Evil does not stop here: this not being the Practice in Towns, the Land Occupiers are throwing all the Settlements on Service upon the Towns, since I never heard of menial Servants hiring for Fifty-one Weeks; the Consequence is, the Servants are in our Parts gaining Settlements solely in the Towns, or as domestic Servants. Indeed the Farmers have gone so far, in some Places, as to enter into Undertakings, that every Person who hired a Person for Fifty-one Weeks should pay a stipulated Sum of Money as a Forfeiture. Since they have found that such Contracts invalidated their Evidence, they have been more circumspect. The whole of these Transactions concerning the Hiring of Servants in Husbandry being, in the Midland Counties, a Collusion, I do not see that any Evil could arise from providing that no Person shall after such a Date acquire a Settlement by Hiring or Service. I cannot practically discern any Objection to such a Prohibition; it breaks no Link in the Bond of Society; a Person would still retain every Mode of gaining a Settlement. Respecting Settlements, I abstain from recommending further Attention, when we consider that in amending the Act concerning the renting Tenements the Legislature passed one Act in 1819, containing only a few Lines, and that to amend this Act they have subsequently passed another Act, and that there is now a third Bill in the House of Commons, which Mr. Weyland has brought in, to amend the former Acts. However, I have no hesitation in saying, that your Lordships would confer a Public Benefit if you should be pleased to recommend the doing away any future Settlement by Hiring and Service; for such Contracts in Husbandry Concerns are, in our Parts, from Beginning to End, collusive, and very frequently fraudulent.
Have you any Observations to propose to the Committee on the Subject of the Removal of Paupers?
Respecting the Removal of Paupers, there is an Act, which is the 35 George 3, which, in case of a suspended Order of Removal, requires that the Charges incurred by the Suspension, after having been allowed by the removing Justices, shall be repaid by the Overseers and Churchwardens of the Parish to which the Pauper is removed; it does not require any Account to be rendered, nor does it give any Parish an Appeal, unless the Costs exceed 20£. The Consequence is, we frequently have a Pauper brought to one of our Parishes, and a Demand made for a specific Sum of Money; a Bill of the particular Charges is desired, and refused. I think no Expence of this kind should be demandable, unless the Order of Removal be accompanied with a Duplicate of the Account, signed and allowed by the removing Justices; and that, be the Amount what it may, the Parish subjected to any such Payment should be empowered to appeal, if they consider that Account to be exorbitant or unjust. Moreover, it is my Opinion that it would be advantageous if the Medical Attendance upon the Paupers, under a suspended Order of Removal, were always to be defrayed by the Parish in which the Pauper becomes chargeable; because the Consequence of the present Arrangement is, that the Pauper falls into Distress. There is generally a Surgeon attending the Parish Poor at a specific Sum, who would demand little or perhaps no Addition to that Sum were he also to undertake the Medical Care required by the casual Poor; but he makes a Bill for the Poor remaining under a suspended Order of Removal, making generally the same Rate of Charges as if the Pauper were a Person in affluent Circumstances. The Provision proposed by me would be merely this: that all Sums of Money, except the Medical Attendance and Medicine, should be repaid by the Parish to which the Pauper belongs.
Would not that have the Effect of making the Parish in which the Person is situate remove the Person before he ought to be removed?
I think not; for the Pauper cannot be removed until Two Justices certify that "they are satisfied that the Order may be safely executed without Danger to any Person who is the Subject thereof." 35 Geo. 3, c. 101, s. 2.
Might not the Man be neglected?
If a Man applies for Relief, he is under the Cognizance of the Magistrates, and I cannot see why he should be neglected; before he is removed, his Case must be again brought under the Consideration of the removing Justices.
If the Order of Removal is a suspended Order, and the Parish where he is situate is liable to no Expence under that suspended Order, will they not be likely to keep him longer, and be kinder to him, than if they are liable to Expences?
The Pauper must first come under the Examination of the Justices; an Order is made and then suspended. I would provide, as at present, for the poor Man all necessary Maintenance, except Medical Attendance and Medicine, and direct that the Charge for these be defrayed at the Expence of the Parish, where the Casualty arises. These suspended Orders of Removal originate generally in Towns, where the Surgeon is frequently a Member of the Corporation, or closely connected with them, so that the Transaction becomes tinctured with Self-interest.
Would it not be more scantily provided?
I think not; for the Poor are generally attended according to a stipulated Contract, by a Medical Man, who is as much bound to attend the Paupers under a suspended Order of Removal as any other poor Persons, assuming that they are equally included under his Contract with the Parish.
Has any Evil appeared to you to arise from the Mode of Relief granted to Militiamen's Families?
A very serious Evil; for I conceive that the Universality of such Relief has tended to depress the Standard of Independence, and to pauperize the Country more than any other Law; for every Wife and Family of Militiamen or Volunteers on Service became entitled to such Relief, if they could not support themselves. I have ordered 16s. a Week to the Wife and Family of a Volunteer, while trained and exercised. Since that Period, the Law respecting the Militia has been altered for the better, allowing Relief only for the Wives and Families of balloted Men. Still, however, I conceive that the Family of a balloted Man should stand in the same Situation as any other Person applying for Money out of the Parish Fund; that is, they should show that they actually want it. If a Person of Substance is balloted, his Family ought to have no Demand upon the Parish; and the Magistrate should not be called upon to sign an Order for the Family of a Person who is in perfect Independence.
They are now entitled to it, without reference to the Means of the Individual?
Do you think any Exception ought to be made in favour of the Wife of a balloted Man, more than for the Wife of any other Pauper?
I conceive that every Person who draws Money out of the Parish Fund should do so for the Relief of his Necessities. Indeed I cannot admit that the compulsory Support of any Class of People by any other Class of People is founded upon any Principle of Civil Right or of Political Economy: it is dictated by the Moral Feelings of Tenderness and Beneficence. Therefore I propose that the Title of such Families to Relief should stand upon the same Foundation as other Parochial Relief; and I venture to recommend that the Clause should be thus worded:—"If any Person serving, &c. as a balloted Man, when embodied and called into actual Service, shall be unable to support his Family, and shall leave a Family unable to support themselves, the Overseers of the Poor, by Order of Two Justices," &c.—My Proposal is, that the Justices issuing any such Order should be not less than Two in Number, and that they should be empowered to take into Consideration, not only the Ability of the Family to support themselves, but the Ability of the Militiaman so to do. The same Remarks apply to Yeomanry and Volunteers.
Have you turned your Attention to the Effect of the Laws of Bastardy upon the Morals of the Lower Orders?
I have turned my Attention to this Subject. We find that by enforcing the Performance of the Order on the Part of the Woman as well as on the Part of the Man we obtain considerable Benefit, and improve, as we apprehend, the Morals of the Parties; but there exists a Difficulty in the Recovery of those Orders of Maintenance made on the putative Fathers of Bastards. It was supposed, until some few Years back, that an Order of Bastardy having been made and served upon any Individual, he was bound to obey it without further Notice; so that by absenting himself from the Parish, or from his Abode, he rendered himself liable to be apprehended by a Warrant. However, in a Case before Lord Ellenborough, it has been decided, that before you can apprehend the Father of a Bastard Child for Nonpayment you must give him Notice. The Consequence of which is, that sending to give such Man Notice, if you mean to apprehend him, amounts to giving him an Opportunity of avoiding Apprehension. I think that the Law might be advantageously restored to what was supposed to be its Principle; namely, that every Person, having been served with an Order of Bastardy, should, if he absents himself from the Parish on whose Behalf the Order may have been made, and allows Arrears beyond a certain Amount to accumulate, be liable to Apprehension by a Warrant, without any additional Notice; for the Nonpayment is his own Act; and to send an Overseer Thirty or Forty Miles for the Purpose of demanding the Payments due, and afterwards to send the Constable the same Distance to apprehend a Man who has fled, is imposing an unnecessary Hardship on the Parish, and almost precluding the Recovery of the Sums due by the Father. In several Counties they make their original Orders of Bastardy in Sessions, which subjects the Father to a heavy Expence, by the Employment of an Attorney and a Barrister; besides which it takes away the Opportunity of Appeal. In some Counties they make a Rule of Court that the original Orders of Bastardy should be executed out of Sessions. The Law should, I think, require all original Orders of Bastardy to be made out of Sessions. With regard to Relief, which is one of the grand Points at issue, the Relief of the Poor, it may be remarked that no specific Authority is to be found in any Statute empowering Justices to order Parochial Relief, until the Statute 3d William and Mary, c. 11, s. 11. You may inferentially deduce that the Statute of Elizabeth intended that Justices might order Relief when necessary, but it is not specifically stated. The next Act after that of William and Mary is 9th Geo. 1, c. 7; then comes the Act of the 59th Geo. 3, c. 12, s. 5, brought in by Mr. Sturges Bourne, which says, "that every Order to be made for the Relief of any poor Person, by the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of any Parish not having a Select Vestry, under the Authority of this Act, shall be made by Two or more Justices." Mr. Sturges Bourne, as I have understood, intended to introduce. Two Justices as necessary to make an Order for Relief, and to invest them with a Power to consider the Character and Conduct of the Person applying for the Relief; but all this has been rendered in a great measure nugatory, because a single Magistrate can make the Order under the former Statutes. If the 59th George 3d be the most eligible Statute, which certainly it appears to be, it seems almost necessary to enact that the Acts of 3d William and Mary, c. 11, and the 9th George 1, c. 7, as far as the ordering of Relief extends, should not continue in force. Indeed so strongly did Mr. Nolan feel upon this Point, that he intimated in his Speech that he meant to propose that even Three Magistrates should be required to make an Order of Relief. The same Opinion has been entertained by many, who regard the Interference of the Justices authorized by 36th Geo. 3, c. 23, to be nothing less than a manifest Breach of Faith. Magistrates were, previous to Gilbert's Act, 22d George 3, empowered to order Relief; therefore, the Parishes, to relieve themselves from the Authority of the Magistrates, incorporated under the Statute called Gilbert's Act. But Mr. Rose brought in an Act, 36th George 3, c. 23, empowering a Magistrate, under certain Circumstances, to interfere, and order Relief to the Paupers out of Workhouses, at their own Homes. This has been considered a Violation of Faith, as very large Sums of Money had been expended in order to evade the Interference of Justices; moreover it prepared the Way for the Clause in the 59th George 3, c. 12, s. 2, enacting that a Pauper shall not be required to travel more than Six Miles to the Visitor, but may apply in such Cases to a Magistrate. Now, if Ten Miles is to be the Distance of the Extremity from the Centre of a District, and if the Visitor of an incorporated Workhouse be situate in that Centre, it appears to be no Hardship for the Pauper to travel Ten Miles. In the present improved State of the Roads, this can scarcely be considered such a Distance to prevent an Application for Relief to the Visitor, without calling in a Justice of the Peace. According to my Opinion, that Pauperism which has overwhelmed several Counties has in a great degree arisen from the ill-judged, though well-intended, Interference of the Magistrate. In my Experience, the Leaning of the Overseers has been generally too much towards the Poor; they come into the Office for only a Year; some of them are under Intimidation; and in our Parts they were rather too easy in making Allowances, which appears to have been the Practice in former Times, before the Act of William and Mary, which enjoins that the Poor shall not be relieved without certain Preliminaries, controuling the Power of granting, Collection or Relief. Concerning Select Vestries, there is a Clause bringing the Proceedings of such Vestries under the Cognizance of the Magistrates; the Pauper gains the Victory; the Decision of the Select Vestry is superseded by Two Justices, and afterwards the Vestrymen refuse to act; and that has prevented many Select Vestries from being formed, and has dissolved others after having been established. In all Orders of Relief by the Justices, it seems desirable to allow an Appeal against their Decision. It has been adjudged now, that no Appeal lies against the Order of the Magistrates; any Pauper may apply to a single Justice, and cause the very first Persons in the Parish to be groundlessly summoned before him; yet from this Tribunal there is no Appeal. It was said that the Poor are not to starve. Certainly no Person would vindicate a Suspension of the Order of Relief; but it would surely suffice to have it remain in force until reversed by the Quarter Sessions; therefore the Privilege of Appeal would not affect the Pauper; and as for the Justice, he must vindicate his own Act; if the Appeal was frivolous or vexatious, he would be entitled to Costs.
Has not the Overseer a Power to refuse to obey the Order of the Magistrate, if he chooses to stand the Chance of being indicted for it?
Undoubtedly he may. But the Justices may impose a Penalty upon an Overseer of the Poor by a summary Process without an Indictment; a Distress may issue upon his Goods. If the Overseer were to be indicted for disobeying the Order of the Magistrate, which Order the Justice was competent to make without being subject to an Appeal, I apprehend that the Overseer must be found guilty under the Indictment, unless it could be shown that the Magistrate had acted under the Influence of Corruption: Error would not, in my Opinion, suffice. Undoubtedly the Magistrates have intended to conduct their Proceedings well and wisely. But exemplify this Subject by present Circumstances: a new Commission of the Peace has very lately been issued; there are 111 unconsolidated Acts concerning the Poor, and 1,788 adjudged Cases: surely it cannot be expected that every Justice should acquire full Knowledge of those. He asks what is the general Practice, and reduces his Principles of Action to a System, without entering into the Merits of each Case. A Man comes and says, "I want Relief." "Why do you want Relief?" "Because I have no Sustenance." "Your Wages have been very good; you ought to have provided yourself." "Am I to starve?" "No, you certainly shall not starve; but we shall make no Order, because you have stated upon your Oath the Average Amount of your Wages, and we can show that they are more than sufficient for your Sustenance, and that we could maintain you in the Workhouse for a less Sum." Then, if he insists upon it, we lend him Money; and thus we proceed, Step by Step, determining every Case upon its own Merits, and applying the several Statutes according to Circumstances. But it cannot be expected that any Persons who qualify as Justices, without studying the general Principles of Political Economy, or the Law of the Land, should enter successfully into such Investigation. Still no Man is more sensible than myself of the Value resulting to the Country from the gratuitous Services of the Magistrates; but I would not empower them to supersede the Authority of Select Vestries of Incorporated Guardians.
Would you take such a Man into the Workhouse?
No; we lend him 10s. or more according to Circumstances, and require him to repay it when in his Power.
Do you entertain a well-grounded Expectation that the Money will be repaid?
To illustrate this by a Case: there are 111£. in the Southwell Savings Bank, deposited by a common Labourer; if that Man was not controlled he would come to the Parish Officer the Moment that there was a Suspension of Labour, and apply for Relief; we would make him fall back upon his own Resources, and we should be sure that Money lent him would be repaid. But we are so sure of being repaid by those who have Ability so to do, that few borrow Money from the Overseers of the Poor.
In the South a Man receiving perhaps 8s. a Week, and having out of that 8s. a Week to give 3£. or 4£. for his Cottage, do you think that Man has any Resources he can fall back upon?
I know what Sum the Poor can maintain themselves upon. We maintain a Man for 2s. 8d., a Woman for 2s., and a Child for 1s. 2d. per Week; which Sums severally include Apparel. Therefore we say to an Applicant for Relief, You can support yourself for the Sum of our Maintenance and Apparel: this becomes our Standard. With regard to Cottages, a Difference prevails between those in the North and in the South. In the South, the Farmers take the Cottages with their Land, and let off these Cottages so as to realize a Benefit by what I should call an exorbitant Rent. But that is not the Practice with us; therefore I should ascertain the Number of the Family; and so I should make it a mere Question of regular Calculation, whether for a Man, or his Wife, or Two or Three Children. I know at once that every Part is 7d. for Maintenance, and a Penny for Apparel, that is 8d.; and that a Man is always called Four Parts; a Woman, Three; and a Child, Two. Therefore I should take for a Man Four Parts, or 2s. 8d.; for a Man and Woman together, Seven Parts, 4s. 8d.; if they have a Child, I have to add to the Seven Parts before mentioned Two more Parts, amounting to Nine Parts at 8d. each, or 7s. 4d. So I should know instantaneously what was sufficient for the Maintenance of the Parties.
Would you think that an isolated Individual, who has to purchase his Articles in Retail, which you can at your Poorhouse collect and purchase cheaper by ready Money or in the Aggregate, can live as cheaply as you can provide for those Paupers in the Aggregate?
I have given a good deal of Time and Attention to the Maintenance of the Poor both in and out of the Poorhouse. We have 129 Prisoners in the House of Correction; they subsist on Wheaten Bread, which is one of the most expensive kinds of Food, besides One Pint of Milk and Two Pints of Gruel, daily; the Cost of which Dietary amounts to about 5½d. a Head per Day, or 3s. 1½d. per Week. I believe, from extensive Inquiry, that the Poor can maintain themselves and their Families for as little Money as we can in our Public Establishments; they subsist upon Articles which in such Institutions do not constitute a Part of the Dietary. Having heard it repeatedly stated, both in Print and in Conversation, that the Poor were suffering very severely in these Times, and it having been stated by Mr. Lowe in his Book on the present State of Europe, as well as by Mr. Barton, that from 1742 to 1752 the Weekly Pay was 6s. and the Price of Wheat per Quarter 30s. and the Wages in Pints of Wheat Winchester Measure equalled 102; from 1761 to 1770 that the Weekly Pay was 7s. 6d., Wheat per Quarter 42s. 6d. and Wages Ninety Pints; from 1780 to 1790 the Weekly Pay was 8s., Wheat per Quarter 51s. 2d. and Wages Eighty Pints; from 1795 to 1799 the Weekly Pay was 9s., Wheat per Quarter 70s. 8d. and Wages Sixty-five Pints; from 1800 to 1808 the Weekly Pay was 11s., Wheat per Quarter 86s. 8d. and Wages Sixty Pints; the Conclusion was, that the Reduction of the Labourer's Ability had fallen progressively from 102 to Ninety, from Ninety to Eighty, from Eighty to Sixty-five and from Sixty-five to Sixty. I found, in Mr. Pitt's Speech in the House of Commons, in Opposition to Mr. Whitbread's Bill to regulate the Prices of Labour, he regretted the Circumstance of making Wheat the mere Standard of Human Ability, as several other Articles had fallen in Price. However, I have taken Pints of Wheat as the Standard; and I will show that the Poor have more Ability now than they had at any former Times. I take the Returns of Wheat as given by Parliament from 1820 to 1829, and the Prices of Labour at 12s. or 11s. or 10s. a Week. I will state the Results to your Lordships for Ten Years, specifying the Pints of Wheat which the Labourer could purchase, and the Pints of Wheat in Winchester Measure, supposing the Weekly Wages to be either 12s. or 11s. or 10s. From 1820 to 1824, 110 Pints and a Half; 101 Pints; Ninetytwo Pints and Two Tenths. From 1825 to 1829, 101 Pints and Six Tenths; Ninety-three Pints and Four Tenths; Eighty-four Pints and Nine Tenths. Then the Average of Ten Years, from 1820 to 1829, if Weekly Wages are 12s., will be 106 Pints and One Tenth; whereas a Labourer could not have purchased more than 102 Pints at any Period from 1742 to 1808. Estimating Weekly Wages at 11s. the Proportion would be Ninety-three Pints and Four Tenths; and if he earns 10s. a Week, it will be Eighty-eight Pints and Five Tenths. So that the smallest Average Quantity purchased Weekly has been Eighty-eight Pints and Five Tenths, even by the Labourer who receives only 10s. Weekly Wages, which is considerably below our Price of Labour in Nottinghamshire, and consequently, according to my Reasoning, below the just Standard. Therefore the Conclusion seems not less clear than satisfactory, that the Labourer in the present Times may support himself and his Family with Decency and Comfort, if he be not pauperized by an artificial and illegal System.
The Witness delivers in the Statement; which is read, and is as follows:
A Statement in the Pamphlet of Mr. Barton on the Condition of the Labouring Classes, showing the Proportion between the Wages of Husbandry and the Prices of Corn during the last 70 Years.
Proportion between the Prices of Agricultural Labour and Corn from 1820 to 1829.
That is a much higher Estimate of Wages than they have in the South; 6s., 7s. and 8s. having been the Payment in some of the Counties?
Mr. Barton takes from 100 to 108. I am convinced that the Poor were never doing so well as they are now, when they receive their just Hire. In the South Wages are not allowed to rise to their proper Level.
You conceive that according to the Prices of Labour and the Prices of the Necessaries of Life now, and Ten or Twenty Years ago, a poor Man can maintain himself with greater Comfort than he did Ten or Twenty Years ago?
I think I have demonstrated this in Figures, and much to the Disadvantage of the Calculation; because Twenty Years ago Apparel was much higher than it is now, and my Calculations have been made in Wheat.
Considering the Diminution of the Price of Salt, the Price of Beer and other Articles?
Yes; I consider that the Poor are better off than they were in former Times. The Reduction in the Price of the several Articles above stated renders the Calculation still more in favour of the Labourer. I will now venture to fortify such Opinions as I may have given upon the Poor Laws, by citing a few Lines from a Speech of Mr. Pitt on Mr. Whitbread's Bill. Mr. Pitt says, "That he should wish that an Opportunity were given of restoring the original Purity of the Poor Laws, and of removing those Corruptions by which they have been obscured; he was convinced that the Evils which they had occasioned did not arise out of their original Constitution, but coincided with the Opinion of Blackstone, that in Proportion as the wise Regulations that were established in the long and glorious Reign of Queen Elizabeth had been superseded by subsequent Enactments, the Utility of the Institution has been impaired, and the Benevolence of the Plan rendered fruitless."
It was the Opinion of Mr. Pitt that the Poor should be encouraged to increase?
Mr. Malthus had not broached his Doctrine 'till the latter Part of Mr. Pitt's Time; and notwithstanding the Speech of Mr. Pitt, which lays down the soundest Principles of Political Economy, the Bill brought in by Mr. Pitt was quite at variance with his own Principles; but the Bill was framed by Mr. Rose, and adapted to his particular Opinions respecting what he calls Houses of Industry or Schools of Industry. We have Schools of Industry, but only for teaching the Children of Paupers to read, knit and sow. Supernumerary Children are so schooled at Southwell during the Winter Months, and fed, but they return regularly to their Parents at Night.
Do you think that the Clothing of the Labourers, particularly the Women, is comparatively so much cheaper as it is represented to be; do not you conceive that the Stuffs which were worn in former Times were more substantial, and gave them more Warmth, and were far more durable than the Cotton Wear of the present Day?
They were more durable, and they possessed another Advantage, they were manufactured more by themselves; therefore, when the Children attend at our Parish School, besides teaching them to read, and giving them Religious and Moral Instruction, we teach them to knit and sow, by which Means they are enabled to knit their own Stockings. But with respect to the Question of Apparel, I can speak with Precision as to the Cost of such Articles; because we purchase at our Workhouse a Stock of Apparel; in fact we trade in Apparel. We can afford to clothe a Child for 2d. a Week; a Women for 3d. a Week; and a Man for 4d. a Week; and so sufficient has these Sums proved, that if our whole Stock of Apparel were destroyed we have Money in hand.
How would you propose to deal with the 36 George 3?
The Alteration I proposed was, that under a suspended Order of Removal the Parish to which the Pauper is removed should be liable to discharge every Expence incurred during Suspension, except Medical Attendance and Medicine; because it is customary to contract parochially with a Surgeon and Apothecary. Therefore, the Account should be attached to the Order of Removal, after having been signed by Two Justices; and then, whatever the Amount of that Account was, the Parish required to pay it should be allowed to appeal, if it was thought advisable so to do. I think every Person or Parish charged with any Sum of Money is entitled to an Account how the Charges have arisen. If I were to give an unrestricted Opinion respecting the Poor Laws, I would sweep off the Statute Book all Acts concerning Relief or Settlement subsequent to the Statute of Elizabeth passed in the Forty-third Year of Her Reign. Adverting to Parochial Expenditure, I beg to state, that a Parish Rate for the Relief of the Poor must be signed by Two Magistrates. It was for a long Time supposed that the Magistrates were invested with a discretionary Authority, and that they acted on such Occasions judicially; but it has been decided that they act ministerially, and that a Magistrate is compellable to sign any Parish Rate that may be presented to him; which subjects the Parish to the Expence of 2s. for signing the Rate, besides the Expence of Attendance, which I cannot estimate lower than 2s. amounting jointly to 4s. Now, as the Parishes and Townships in England exceed 10,000, therefore this creates an Expence of 2,000£. for One Rate for every Parish; and if the Annual Average Number of Rates is assumed to be Four for each Parish, 8,000£. a Year is thus uselessly thrown away, for the mere Purpose of Authentication. Surely it is sufficient to have the Rates signed by the Parish Officers, and published in the Church. There is another Way in which Money is uselessly expended: when Precepts are issued to Parishes for a Return of Lunatics, Two Justices are required to sign every Precept, so that this imposes 20,000 Shillings, or 1,000£. upon the Parishes. All which would be avoided if the Magistrates were, as in the Highway Rate, only to sign a general Precept to the several Chief Constables, instead of issuing a Precept to every Parish, directing the Chief Constables to issue their Precepts to the same Effect; because the Chief Constables charge for the Delivery of the Justices Precept the same as if they were to issue their own Precept. All these Things tend unnecessarily to increase the Parochial Expence.
Have you turned your Attention to Friendly Societies, and their Effect on the Morals of the Poor?
I conceive that the Wages of a Labourer should be sufficient to support him, not only in Health, but in Sickness and in old Age; but to require even a Person of good Character to appropriate sufficiently towards maintaining himself during the Casualties of Sickness or the Decrepitude of old Age is, perhaps, imposing upon him a greater Task than he may be able or inclined to execute. Finding that Friendly Societies had never been formed on sound Principles, I believe I was the first in this Kingdom to investigate the Ratio of Sickness, and to investigate the Quantity prevailing among several Thousand Persons; but my Result produced a Ratio of Sickness that differed very widely from Mr. Finlayson's. He has since published, in the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on Annuities, the Result of his subsequent Inquiries, and we come so near, that my Excess of Sickness above Mr. Finlayson's experienced annually by Thirty-five Persons, taking One Person at every Age from Twenty to Fifty-five, is only Five Hours, Fiftyone Minutes and Seventeen Seconds in a Year for each Individual. I likewise devised a new Principle for those Societies, which was, that instead of being managed as they had heretofore been by the Poor, they should be managed by those who were wholly disinterested, in the same Manner nearly as Savings Banks. Honorary Members are mixed up with others; but the Honorary Members retain their just Share of Influence. I introduced another Improvement, enabling a Member, when he has acquired a Sum of Money, to purchase his Assurances, by redeeming either the Whole or a Part of his Monthly Contributions; the Consequence is, that several of our Members have purchased their Assurances. There has been paid by different Members more than 700£. for Redemption, in part or in whole. These Members are secured, without any further Contributions, against Sickness and old Age, against the Expence attending upon their Funeral; and when they come to Sixtyfive they have each a regular Annuity; so that these Members are placed beyond the Reach of Pauperism. We provide Medical Attendance for the Members. Men, Women and Children are admissible: and no Meetings are held at a Public House. Such a System I conceive to be the most advantageous that can be adopted for the Benefit of the Poor. In many Counties throughout the Kingdom, in various Parts the System has been adopted. In Hampshire, in Devonshire, North and East, in Worcestershire, in Wiltshire, and different other Parts, very extensively. The Tables are always kept standing by the Printer, that they be furnished by him on reduced Terms to the different Societies. Before I ventured to assume that my Calculations were correct, I submitted them to my Friend Mr. William Morgan, the eminent Actuary of the Equitable Society; and I am happy to add that from the Beginning to the End we have never had a Difference of Opinion upon any Subject. In respect of Savings Banks, I devised and prepared a Table by which we should be enabled to calculate the Interest of any Saving Bank. The Interest allowed by most of the Saving Banks is 3£. 6s. 8d. computed upon 15s. The System I devised enables them to pay Interest on every 5s. and to give the full Rate of Interest. The System depends briefly on this: say that Five per Cent. yields an Interest of 1s. in the Pound annually; 1s. on the Pound is 1d. per Month; 1d. per Month on the Pound is ¾d. on 15s.; ½d. on 10s.; ¼d. on 5s. Therefore we compute all our Interest Money in this Manner, at Five per Cent., and effect it by Inspection; then by a single and simple Operation we reduce the Interest Money from Five per Cent. to 3£. 8s. 5¼d., being the highest Rate allowable by such Institutions.
How do you reduce your Interest from Five per Cent.?
We compute it at Five per Cent. If you compute any Sum of Money at Five per Cent. you merely assume the Shillings in that Interest to be equal to any Number of Pounds in the Table, and then convert it. At first I purchased a Book which cost 12s. and was very complicated, so that I was induced to devise a more simple and practical Process. 100£. yields 3£. 8s. 5¼d. per Cent. being the utmost Limit allowed now. If it were Five per Cent. it would yield 100s. or 5£.; then look opposite the Number on 100, here it is 3£. 8s. 5¼d. If your Lordship were to ask me what is the Interest of 36£. for a Month, if it were required, I would say at once 36£. per Month is 36d., and consequently 36d. is 3s. I find opposite Number 3 that 2s. 0½d. is the Interest sought. I have likewise originated very recently a Society which may perhaps be entitled to a little Attention, since it occurred on reading the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, of which Lord Milton was Chairman. It was contemplated by that Committee that Government might possibly be induced to grant an increased Rate of Interest in favour of Annuity Societies for the Working Classes. However, Government was not inclined to do so. I therefore devised a System for the Poor, which I call a System of Endowment; it is shortly this: you may endow a Person with any Sum of Money, to be paid at any Time, or with any Annuity, to commence at any Time and to continue for any Time, on paying either a single Sum or a Contribution, Annual or Monthly; and that the Annual Sum payable may be reduced even as low as One Halfpenny. If a poor Man wants to put out his Son an Apprentice, he may come to us when he is born. If he proposes to place the Boy out as an Apprentice at Fourteen, he comes and says, "I shall want 10£. for my Son at the Age of Fourteen." We say, you must give us 12s. 5d. for every Pound, at present, or you may pay us 1s. 1¾d. for every Pound; which Yearly Contributions we afterwards divide into Monthly Contributions, to make it easier; or, if you wish, when your Son is Fourteen Years of Age, to give him an Annuity for the next Five Years during his Apprenticeship, you may realize that Annuity by paying us down now 2£. 16s. 9d. for every Pound, or 5s. 1¾d. I have opened an Account with the National Debt Office, and our Capital is deposited in exactly the same Manner as the Stock of Friendly Societies or of Savings Banks, the whole being invested upon Government Security. Thus we bring to the Door of every Cottager the System of Endowment, and further, of Life Annuities, or of Annuities for Years certain; for if they purchase an Annuity from us for Years certain, which is larger than 30£. a Year, we cover ourselves by purchasing a correspondent Annuity in the Bank of England, so as to secure it for them. I thought that as we had done so much for the Poor, a Society of this kind might meet, not only their Necessities, but the Circumstances of Farmers or Persons above that Class, depending upon Life. Incomes; therefore I have embodied, with various Modifications of my own, that System which Lord Milton seemed to recommend in his Report. We have had Applications to a very considerable Amount. Friendly Societies are founded upon the Doctrine of Chances; a Saving Bank is established on the Principles of Certainty, but does not enter into Annuities, nor into deferred Payments. Our Endowment Society combines to a certain Extent the Objects both of Friendly Societies and of Savings Banks; moreover, it possesses this peculiar Feature, that no Member can enter into this Endowment Society, so as to assure any Benefit, unless it is either continued or deferred for at least Five successive Years; consequently, the Principle of the Society is intended to encourage Forethought and Frugality.
Is that Undertaking at all dependent on the Life of the Individual?
The Death of the Individual does not involve any Loss of the Sum deposited, for every Payment to this Institution must be returned to the Representatives of a deceased Member, together with Compound Interest at the Rate of 3£. 8s. 5¼d. per Cent. on every Farthing deposited, computing from the Day on which the Sums may have been severally deposited, which is a Benefit that cannot be realized in a Savings Bank. The Tables which have been computed for this Society are copious and original.
Have you found that the Tables upon which you originally proceeded were rather too high?
In my Tables for Friendly Societies I have made little or no Alteration, except such as was required in consequence of the Diminution in the Rate of Interest allowed by Government; the Rate of Interest originally granted was 4£. 11s. 3d.; now, with an Exception of certain Societies, it has been reduced to 3£. 16s. 0½d.; consequently the Tables have been proportionably advanced for those Societies. The former Tables were supplied at Four per Cent. with a Quinquennial Graduation of the Ages; the present Tables are calculated only at Three and a Half per Cent. with an Annual Graduation of the Ages.
Are you of Opinion that it would be of considerable Advantage if the Restrictions which limit the Total Amount of Deposits in Savings Banks to 150£., and forbid any Interest being paid when it amounts to 200£., were removed?
I know the State of our own Savings Banks, and the State of nearly all the Savings Banks in the Kingdom; the Progression of the Deposits is strictly in what I conceive the most desirable Line, that is, the large Depositors are all diminishing, and the small Depositors are all increasing, so that the Number of Depositors is becoming greater, while the Average Amount of each Deposit is becoming less. Moreover, I fortify my own Investigations by stating, that I have held Conversation with John Tidd Pratt Esquire, the Barrister at Law appointed to inspect the Rules of Savings Banks. Since I came to London our Savings Bank received a Letter Circular from the Brighton Bank, proposing that we should unite in an Application to Government for to permit an Advance upon the Amount of the Sum which each Person is now empowered to deposit; but I directed an Answer to be written, signifying, that in our Judgment such an Alteration of the Law would be a Disadvantage to the Country, because at present the Money, after Accumulation to a certain Amount, passes into Circulation and produces Public Benefit, whereas in the Saving Bank the Capital deposited is fixed, and productive only to the Extent of the Interest withdrawn.
Do you think the Establishment of a Select Vestry under Mr. Bourne's Act has worked beneficially?
It has always been my Wish to transact whatever is done under the Inspection of the Public, consequently we have not in our District a Select Vestry; but I know that in some instances very valuable and judicious Men have instituted Select Vestries. However, some have declined, and the Moment they found the Magistrates interfered with them. I think that if the Interference of the Magistrates were done away the Select Vestries would work well in Places where Public Vestries might prove unmanageable.
Are you aware that the Establishment of the Select Vestries was to limit the Power of the Magistrates?
I am. But this Intent was nullified by the Second Section, empowering any Two Justices to decide whether the Select Vestry had refused adequate Relief, which completely supersedes the Judgment of the Select Vestry, who should be the best Judges of whether the Relief tendered was or was not adequate.
You are not of Opinion that it would be advisable to repeal the Select Vestry Act?
No; because, though there are Persons acting under it who may have been inconvenienced, there are others who have not sustained any unpleasant Interruption in the Discharge of their Duty. It can do no Harm if it does no Good. My Opinion is, the Management of the Poor and the Amelioration of their Condition do not depend upon any single Specific, but upon the concurrent Use and Operation of various Modes and Means; consequently, I am disposed rather to extend than to contract the Sphere of practicable Utility.
You are aware that under the Select Vestry Act the Power over Agricultural Labourers is completely vested in their Employers?
It is; but in case of wilful Misconduct they are indictable, and must be annually re-appointed by the Justices.
Is it your Opinion that the Employers have exercised their Discretion under the Select Vestry Act discreetly?
I have not an instance within my Knowledge of a Select Vestry Act in Operation among our Parishes; we conduct all Parochial Concerns at Southwell and in its Neighbourhood by open Vestry. I beg leave to place upon the Table of your Lordships my System of Parish Book-keeping, which, from long and extensive Practice, I can strongly recommend; it is very simple and perfectly satisfactory. The Books are Four in Number: a Register, to contain the Names and Circumstances of every Pauper; a Day Book; a Weekly Pay Book; a Ledger. I also venture to present the following Publications for the Benefit of the Working Classes, which I have directed to be printed. The Constitution of Friendly Societies, Fifth Edition; A System of Book-keeping for Savings Banks; A System of Endowments.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned 'till To-morrow, Twelve o'Clock.