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POOtt LAW CONFLUENCE AT !…

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POOtt LAW CONFLUENCE AT SHRE vvSBURY. A meeting of Guardians and of clerk- to Boards of Guardians in Shropshire was held on Thr.rcUy, Oct. 21st, at the Board Room of the Atcham Un>ir>, Shrewsbury. The Lord-Lieutenant of the County (the l'corl of Bradford; presided, and there were also present the Riht Hon. J. Scl.iter Booth, M.P., President of the Local Government Board, Mr J. T. Hibbert, Manchester, Mr Albert Pell, H.P., Mr Rathbone, M.P., Liverpool, Mr Uvedale Cor- bett, Local Government Board Inspector, Mr E. J. Dansey, Assistant Insoector, Mr Corry (private secretary to Mr Disraeli), Jleasrs John Loxdale, Atcham, W. L. Dodgson, The Mo.r, Ludlow, Cecil T. Parker, Stoke Lodge, Lud.ow, Joseph Everest, Atcham, J. Southam, Atcaana, H. >-an f.-rd, Atcharn, E. Lawreaoa, Wellington, O. O. Walker, LilleahalL J. A. Wolryehe Whitmor?, Bridgnorth, Riou G. Benson, Church Stretton, C. 1.1. Jones,Atcham, S. AI. Millar, Forden, J. Whittak-^ Atcham. Lev. J. Brooke, Shifnal, J. M. Rovde >'a*s, G. W- Wheeier, Madeley, Rev. G. Edwards, Madeiy, Eev. The*. Ulead owe, Atcham, Bev. J. G. Corser, Ludlow, Jiev. J. L. Whatmose, St. Mary's, Bridgnorth, James _t age,, Madeiey, W. Reynolds, Bridgnorth Union, Kev. R. E. Warren, Atcham, J. E. Severn, Atcfiam, H. Dickenson, Madeley Union, I J. M. Southwell, Bridgnorth, Alfred Salway, Ludlow Union, W. Layton Lowndes, Madeley Union, Charles 1 Wadlow, Church Stretton, H. J. Ward, Bridgnorth, G. Smythe, R.N., Bridgnorth, VV. H. Wavne, Atcham, J. R. Ke uyon, Q.C., Rev E. G. Child, Cieobury Mortimer, Rev F. Bixrd, Creasage, Rev H. O. Wilson, Church Stretton, S. Ward, Oswestry, Waiter Minor, Itlarket Drayton, Samuel Minor, Wellington, Evan Davies, Bridgaoith, Edward Jcnes, vice-chairman of Oswestry Incorporation, Samuel Powell, Forden L'niop, George Evans, Forden, S. Miller, Forden, Sir Baldwin Leight<.n, Atcham, Henry 3,- J. Bather. Rev Edward Warter, Atchsm, John Bather, A::ham, Sir üffiq Wakemaa, Bart., Rev. J. Mitchell, Aiciam, Richard H. Coiiey, Bridgnorth, Stanley L-ightou, Oswev.ry, S. K. Main waring, Eilesmere, Robert Peel A'nelstone, Whitchurch, Thomas Poole, Clun, William Wilding, Montgomery, Rev. G. A. Salisbury, Atcham, Jjhn II. Scrymsher, Atcham, Rev. J. B. Davies, Wellington, William Hawaii, Whitchurch, John Bateiaan, Eilesmere, John Hudson, Atcham, Thos. Hudson, Atcham, J. L. Hodgson, Eilesmere, H. Hurle, treasurer, George Townsend. John Calcott, rL Bucaniil, and Rev. T. Bearcroft, Alchaui, H. Lee, Whit, church, Rev. W. Reynolds, Bridgnorth, Rev. G. J. Davies- Ludlow, H. :1. Bathurst, Madeley, E. lustone, Madeley, J. Instone, Madeley, C. C. Cotes, M.P-, R. Jasper More, Clun, T. Turner, Atcham, T. B. Baker, Hardwicke Glou- cester, Rev. W. M. Rowland, Clun Union, Rev. A. ihursbv, Pelham, Atcham, &c., &c. The Noble PRESIDENT, in opening the proceedings, said that a short time ago he was asked to preside over a meet- in- of Guardians ana others interested inouc-door relief,and as it was a subject of so great importance, and of so much interest to both rich and poor, he did not hesitate to com- ply. It was a subject which appeared to him of all sub- jects the most desirable to have frequently, quietly, and amicably discussed. No one was a greater admirer than his lordship was of our system of local government in this country, and his own opinion was that the less it was inter- fered with by central authorities the better as a rule, but this being so, it was the more necessary and desirable that our system should be a good one, our rules well considered, and that the practice in diiferent unions should to a great degree be alike. He knew that there were a great many gentlemen there who would probably be anxious to give their opinions on this subject, and he foresaw it would be verv difficult for them to have sufficient time to really and tto roughly discuss these subjects, and he would not detain them any longer but would call on Mr W. Layton Lowndes, Chairman of the Madeley Union, to read a paper on THE RELATIVE ADVANTAGES OF IN-DOOli AND OCT-DOOR RELIEF. Mr LAYTON LOWNDES said Our presence here to-day is a proof of the interest we feel in solving that great pro- blemâthe best mode of administering relief how to satisfy the right to relief out of a public fund given by law to every destitute person, without at the same time breaking down the incentives to prudence and foresight which we all wish to inculcate upon those with whom we are brought in contact. We are guardians of the poor, appointed to carry out the provisions of the Poor Law Amendment Act in the soirit of that lawâon the one hand relieving destitution, on the other attaching such conditions to the relief afforded a may deter those not actually destitute from becoming branded with the stigma of pauperism.* The great var.a- ti"llS in the amount of pauperism in the fifteen unions in this county, even in unions placed under similar conditions, show that guardians have very varying ideas of the duties they are chosen to perform, and of the principles of the law which they are appointed to administer and I hope the discussion to-day will lead the way to a better appreci- ation of the principles, and to more uniform and definite rules by which we may carry those principles into practice. The distinguishing principle of the Poor Law is that des- titution, and not poverty, is the sole title to relief. This is no new principle. It was the spirit of eur early pauper legislation, which was originally intended to restrain vagrancy, or, in the language of t.ue Act, to keep sturdy vagabonds and valiant beggars to continual labour," and em- bodied two hundred years after in the 4cird of Elizabeth. It is matter of history how the relaxation of this principle almost brought ruin upon the land; how the labouring classes generally were partially supported at the weekly pav-tabfe; how the progressive increase of the rates drove land out of cultivation, so that one parish at leastâthat of Cholesburv, in Buckinghamshireâwas entirely aban- doned to pauperism. To remedy this the Act of 18.34 was passed, and the following words from the report of the Poor Law Commissioners, on which the present law was f unded. give the principle to which I wish to call your attention: â" The express or implied ground of application is that the applicant is in danger of perishing from want. Requesting to be rescued from that danger out of the pro- Requesting to be rescued from that danger out of the pro- perty of others, he must accept asÃstance on the terms, whatever they may be, which the common welfare re- quires.+ We, who attend the meetings of the Boaris of Guardians, can recall cases where an old man or woman seeks an allowance of 18. 6d. a week, advocated, it may be, by the guardian of the parish, because he or she would be better off, or more comfortable, with it." There is no pretence or fear of destitution, although the poverty may be unquestionable. The money is given, and the guardians feel they have done a very kind and charitable action, but a charity supplied from other persons' pockets, while they forget they are doing an injury to those who contribute to the fund (often little removed above the applicant), and are applying funds entrusted to their care to a purpose not contemplated by the instrument which gives them the power. I should like to see painted on the walls of every Board room the words, Destitution, not poverty, relieved here." It would remind the Board of the point of view from which every application should be regarded, and would be useful to the applicant, as showing him the justice of the decision arrived at. Having then arrived at the point that destitution, and that only, gives a legal claim to relief, the all-important question follows what is the best way of giving this relief ? At the outset we are met by the difficulty that any legal c'aim to be relieved out of a public fund is a direct discour- agement to make provision either for sickness or old age. A man breaks his lej and applies for reiki. His wife and children are destitute. He is asked wric-n-r hc i i:l a berefit club, if net, why he io -:Jt ? Or an oid man and-in* wife come to the Btwrd (gentr-y the man sends his %vif.« to represent him), lie has befen ;n receipt of good alt his life, but iastead o: laying by anything has spent all lie could s?*re (probibly ax-«iv) ii; drink. Ei'h.-r of thtse men might reply, Why .should 1 deprive mvself of any iudulgerc-, when I hav,- the po-y,* ras 4 r.s a benefit club?" And in avnt xxnious th.-SE 0.3-3 T.-OUH get the coveted ont-door relief, and are in {. r^evice famiUsr to moat of xx^> If" is al>bOiutv!j- iieoe^irv to -uluuu'.ster without undermining provident h^.w. This 1,-g.J ciai-i to relief gives a corresponding right to those vyno contribute to the fund (whose representatives tha guardians are) to prescribe the form which the relief shall take, and we have to determine, therefore, whether we will give in or out-door relief. I am speaking now generally, and not as to individual cases. The fraDJr3 of the Poor'Law AmendiuL-rt Act of 1834 certainly contemplated that in- door relief should be the rule, and out-door relief the ex- c.-ption. The Commissioners, in their enquiries into the working of the podr law, found that, -where the workhouse ,L 1 1. r.1*- .1' 6.L t;3I c;w uccu onr.^iy aypuea, iuere was a lower amount of paupErk" They found that this was the principle of the o de** legislation, that in 1T23, in conseoixence of the abuses which had gradually crept in since the Act of 43rd Elizabeth, an Act was passed prohioiting relief to those who refused t- enter the workhouse. + Re.ief \^a3 considered a burthen to the payors and a degreaation to the receiversC(and to be ma-ed as "ch by a badge)-a remedy for unexpected an-1 a mitigatiou of the punishment inflicted by n-Mire" -n extravagance and improvidence. But in 1796 an Act was passed which the Commtsnoners describe as the ereat and fatal deviation from our former policy." It re- co-miz-d as obiect< of relief industrioxxs persons, and enabled thfmagiuate^at his just and pnf r discretion to order re- lief to be given in a way which shoul. not be injurious to their comfort, domestic situation, "1d happiness. Mr Pitt's Bill went still further: it admired witbin tie pale of paupcrianj, not onlv the industrious labourer, but the per- son., with property, and enabled him, when possessed 01 land, E.ot.oaly to retain it while an applicant, for re.ief, but to be supplied at the expense of the parish with a cow. It is true that this Bill was dropped, but as it was not an indi- vidual but a Government measure, it may be cited as ovi- d?:.ee of the general feeling on the subject.§ From to^ia period commenced that flood of pauperism which gradually rose higher and higher until ifc threatened to involve the country in ruin.^ We see, then, that this plan of in-door relief was no nev'-j'-invent^d scheme of the Poor Law Com- missi m. In the ISth century, while the Act of the 9th waa ^rce> n? 8reat harm arose on its repeal evils'if the greatest magnitudeâu,of,seen, no doubt, by the b -aevolect authors of tne Act of 36 George III âgradually soread over the country, acting with more intensity in some rarts than in others,but existent everywhere. It was fouuJ t,where an efficient system of in-door relief was adopted at Bii^ha-u, Southwell, Cookoam, and a few oth~r t.I -oes- pauperism had b»en kept down, while the character -â d c.,Ddition of the labourer had been proportionately im- proved. The CommL-sioners, therefore, reasoning from in- SSor, made in-door reluf the keystone of the present ey-itern, and the wisdom o-' their judgment is proved by tae ?:.t â¦Mtin proportion as h*ve a strict administration ll lief so we find a low rate- of For some vears after the passing of the new »aw the amount expended time when »' feeling ol .eeoority mdncej PuardianTto relax their vigilance. An increased amount f nt- "ief was giver.; gua Jiang came into ofiice who w-e unaware of, or had forgotten the l^ns from winch

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COMPARATIVE TABLE OF PAUPERISM…

---------------AN ELOQUENT…

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