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ality, and in comed, but by ejviorded relief, nes y
be practised as that of supplying the necessities of those who required assistance by giving it in labour or affording employ. ment, which is the principle of the act of Queen Elizabeth, the most important advantages would be gained. They would thus benefit those to whom they afforded relief, not only by the assistance bestowed, but by giving habits of industry and frugality, and in furnishing a temporary bounty, enable them to make permanent provision for themselves. By giving effect to the operation of friendly societies, individuals would be rescued from becoming a burden upon the public, and, if necessary, be enabled to subsist upon a fund which their own industry contributed to raise. These great points of granting relief according to the number of children, preventing removals at the caprice of the parish-officer, and making them subscribe to friendly societies, would tend in a very great degree to remove every complaint to which the present partial remedy could be applied. Experience had already shewn how much could be done by the industry of children, and the advantages of early employing them in such branches of manufactures as they are capable to execute. The extension of schools of industry was also an object of material importance. If any one would take the trouble to compute the amount of all the earnings of the children who are already educated in this manner, he would be surprised, when he came to consider the weight which their support by their own labours took off the country, and the addition which, by the fruits of their toil, and the habits to which they were formed, was made to its internal opulence. The suggestion of these schools was originally drawn from Lord Hale and Mr. Locke, and upon such authority he had no difficulty in recommending the plan to the encouragement of the legislature. Much might be effected by a plan of this nature susceptible of constant improvement. Such a plan would convert the relief granted to the poor into an encouragement to industry, instead of being, as it is by the present poor-laws, a premium to idleness, and a school for sloth. There were also, a number of subordináte circumstances, to which it was necessary to attend. The law which prohibits giving relief where any visible property remains should be abolished. That degrading condition should be withdrawn. No temporary occasion should force a British subject to part with the last shilling of his little capital, and compel him to descend to a state of wretchedness from which he could never recover, merely that he might be entitled to a casual supply.
Another mode also of materially assisting the industrious poor was, the advancing of small capitals, which might be repaid in two or three years, while the person who repaid it would probably have made an addition to his income. This might put him who received them in the way of acquiring what might place him in a situation to make permanent provision for himself.
These were the general ideas which had occurred to him upon the subject; if they should be approved of by any gentleman in the House, they might perhaps appear at a future time in a more accurate shape than he could pretend to give them. He could not, however, let this opportunity slip without throwing them out. He was aware that they would require to be very maturely considered. He was aware also of a fundamental difficulty, that of insuring the diligent execution of any law that should be enacted. This could only be done by presenting to those who should be intrusted with the execution motives to emulation, and by a frequent inspection of their conduct as to diligence and fidelity. Were he to suggest an outline, it would be this. To provide some new mode of inspection by parishes, or by hundreds -- to report to the magistrates at the petty sessions, with a liberty of appeal from them to the general quarter sessions, where the justice should be empowered to take cognizance of the conduct of the different commissioners, and to remedy whatever defects should be found to exist. That an annual report should be made to parliament, and that parliament should impose upon itself the duty of tracing the effect of its system from year to year, till it should be fully matured. That there should be a standing order of the House
for this purpose, and in a word, that there should be an annual budget opened, containing the details of the whole system of poor-laws, by which the legislature would shew, that they had a constant and a watchful eye upon the interests of the poorest and most neglected part of the community.
Mr. Pitt said he was not vain enough to imagine that these ideas were the result of his own investigations, but he was happy to say, that they arose from a careful examination of the subject, and an extensive survey of the opinions of others. He would only add, that it was a subject of the utmost importance, and that he would do every thing in his power to bring forward or promote such measures as would conduce to the interest of the country. He concluded with apologizing for having taken up so much of the time of the House: the fact was, the importance of the subject had led him into a further discussion than it had been his intention to go into, and he was desirous of shewing the honourable gentleman that he had spared no pains to collect information upon it: and although he gave the honourable gentleman every possible credit for his humane and laudable motives, yet, seeing the subject in the light in which he did, he was compelled to give his negative to the motion.
Mr. Whitbread afterwards, waving his motion for the second reading of the bill, moved for leave to bring in a bill to repeal the statute of the 5th of Elizabeth ; which was granted
February 15. 1796.
On a motion by Mr. Grey, för an address to His Majesty, “ That. he would be graciously pleased to take such steps as to his royal wisdom should appear most proper, for communicating directly to the Executive Directory of the French Republic, His Majesty's readiness to meet any disposition to negotiation on the part of that government, with an earnest desire to give it the fullest and speediest effect."
Mr. Pitt spoke to the following purport:
Much as the honourable gentleman * has introduced into his speech, connected with the origin and conduct of the war, from which I must decidedly dissent : much as I differ with him on many of the topics he has urged, and on many of the principles he has laid down, as grounds for his motion: and firmly as I am persuaded that no measure could be more hostile to the true interests of this country, than the line of conduct which he has proposed to be adopted; there is still one view of the subject on which I believe it impossible there can be any difference of opinion. If the state of the country, and the sentiments of a great majority of this House, are such as I have reason to suppose, there cannot, indeed, be any wide or essential difference as to the general result. But if, after the explanation which I may be able to give with respect to the state of this country, and the position of the enemy, the honourable gentleman shall still choose to persevere in his motion, there are one or two consequences, which might otherwise be drawn from any declaration of mine on the present occasion, against which it may be necessary for me to guard. I must; therefore, guard against any imputations which may hereafter be brought forward, either as to the insincerity of any declaration which I may express in favour of peace, or as to the inefficiency of the measures taken to facilitate its progress. However I may be disposed to favour that object, which the motion seems principally to have in view, I can by no means concede the grounds on which it has been followed up; - I mean that from a view of our situation, and of the events of the war, we should discover such shameful humiliation, such hopeless despondency, as to abandon every thing for which we have formerly.contended, and be disposed to prostrate ourselves at the feet of the enemy. If the necessity of our condition, if the sense of having been baffled, should operate so strongly as to induce us to make overtures of peace upon any terms; if every consideration of policy, and every feeling of decent and honourable pride, must be sacrificed to the extreme pressure of
our affairs, we must then, indeed, be bound to receive the law of the conqueror. This situation of affairs the honourable genlleman has not indeed developed, but has pretty plainly insinuated it as a ground for his motion. I trust, however, that the state of this country is far different, and that no temporary reverse in the fortune of war, no internal pressure in our domestic situation, has yet produced this mortifying humiliation, this dreadful alternative.
But the honourable gentleman, as an impeachment of the sincerity of ministers with respect to peace, has alluded to an argument which was formerly supported from this side of the House
- that we could not make peace without humbling ourselves to the enemy, and without discovering that we were baffled in our attempts and exhausted in our resources. From this he no doubt meant to insinuate that ministers were at no time sincere in their wishes for peace, and were disposed to throw every obstacle in its way. He does not think proper to mention, that this argument was made use of at a time when the opponents of the war, availing themselves of a series of mistortunes and disappointments which had befallen the confederacy, took the opportunity to press their motion for an immediate peace. We then contended, that the evil was not so great as to exclude hope, or to damp enterprize, that no circumstances had taken place under which a firm and manly resistance became impracticable, and that we might still look with confidence to the effect of a vigorous and persevering prosecution of the war. In proportion as this truth has become manifest to the enemy themselves, do we feel ourselves inclined to adopt a more conciliating tone. In proportion as the situation of things is inverted, the objection, which we formerly made, is superseded. That situation which the honourable gentleman chose only to suppose as theoretical, I contend to be practical; that our successes have been such as to obviate any obstacle to negotiation on the score of national honour; and so far I undoubtedly am of opinion, that the difficulty is infinitly diminished.
In stating, however, generally, my own sentiments, and those