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GUARDIANS' EXTRAVAGANCE. Our leaderette of last week on Poor-Law Extravagance, which had a general rather than a local application, has been followed by a serious object-lesson in the Chester Union. At Tuesday's meeting of the Chester Guardians, Mr. Dansey, Local Government Board Inspector, attended and passed a severe criticism upon the costly administration of the Union. Pointing out the recent growth in the Board's expendi- ture, he told them that, with one exception, Chester shewed by far the largest increase in expenditure in all the forty-one unions of his district, and that district comprises numerous large unions in Cheshire, Shrop- shire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Hereford- shire and Worcestershire. Moreover, the percentage of pauperism in the Chester Union is three against an average of 2 3. Within the past year alone the money spent on relief at Chester has advanced by the enormous sum of no less a figure than £ 75.) representing the growth of out-relief in that period. From a tabulated statement issued by Mr. Dansey, but nOt quoted at this week's meeting, it appears that to Chester Union belongs the unenviable distinction of having the highest cost of pauperism per head of the popula" tion in that district, namely, 2 s. 7d., againsfc an average of Is. nd. In Tarvin U nien, I which, of course, is not over-weighted with an urban population, the cost per head is only Is. Id., in Wirral Is. 2-td., Nantwkh Is. Sid., Runcorn Is. 3d., wlule there are many other unions about equally economical. Another striking fact brought out in the printed table is that during the past ycar the local paupers have increased from 1,50.3 vo 1,667, and that, too, without the excuss of any great industrial depression, and while the Cobdenite economists continue to descant upon the prosperous state of our national trade. We have still the vaunted blessings of Free Food and the alleged Big Loaf of Free Trade, and yet pauperism is increasing by leptps and bounds. Mr. Dansey sat throughout the consider- ation of the relief cases, and at the close he candidly informed the Guardians that they were oppressed with an excess of kindness of heart. A generous and charitable dis- position to the poor is an estimable quality in the individual, acting in a private capacity, but when these individuals are serving in a combined character as a Board of Guardians, they must remember that they are working as trustees for the rate- payers, and trustees are called upon to harden their hearts. They must also shew a hardness of head, and generally bear in mind, when the voice of the tempter suggests some liberal allowance to a certain case, that they are dealing with other people's money. This was the effect of the little homily preached to the Chester Board by the Local Government Inspector. The matter must be sufficiently grave, when the Inspector stated that his attention had been called to the startling figures of the Chester Union by the Royal Commission on Pocr- Law, who wanted to know why Chester figured so largely among the highest pauperised unions in his district." To put their house in order the Inspector recom- mended the appointment of a thoroughly practical committee, to devise a means of checking this growing expenditure- iAl r. Dansey traced the increased expenditure to a too lax adminis tration of out-relief, his own experience being that where there was a laxity in the administration of that depart- ment it also increased the cost of indoor relief. The ratepayers will look to the Guardians to take immediate steps to remove this reproach of extravagance under which they have fallen. We trust a committee will be appointed forthwith, to examine thoroughly the system of out-relief and to make enquiries, as the Inspector suggested, in unions which are administered on more economical lines. It is obvious that the granting of out-relief should be conducted on some hard and fast system, and without regard to the individual or the particular parish to which lie or she belongs. There is room seemingly also for a saving of money in other directions, as the Inspector's criticism of the building projects of the Board clearly shewed.




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