Poor Law Amendment Act 1834

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  • Poor Law Amendment Act 1834
    • Why was it passed?
      • No change in the dealing with the poor since 1601
      • The poor were tied to their parish-Outdoor relief
      • Population doubled since 1750- the poor became an expensive burden
        • Malthus (economist) predicted large numbers would starve and there would be a famine
      • Speenhamland system encouraged the poor to have large families
        • Set amount of bread per child. Price of bread increased
      • Result of Grey setting up the Poor Law Commission in 1833 to examine the working of the Poor Law system
        • Report published in 1834
      • The process of the Act took a year
    • The Royal Commission
      • 8 Commissioners
      • Headed by Nassau Senior-an economist
      • Chadwick was an assistant Commissioner-he gave Utilitarian views
      • Malthus and Bentham influenced the 300 paged Report
      • The 'workhouse test' was established to abolish outdoor relief. To claim relief you must enter the workhouse
      • 'Less eligibility'-workhouse conditions to be worse than those outside
      • Segregation of sexes in the workhouse to limit the number of potential paupers
      • Centralisation- parish responsibilities to pass to Poor Law Unions
      • By 1839 15 000 parishes of Britain had been grouped into 600 unions and 350 workhouses had been built
    • Anti-Poor Law Movement
      • The Commissioners had less power than what was suggested in the Report
      • Tory Paternalists believed it destroyed a traditional understanding between the rich and the poor
      • Working class radicals saw it as an attempt to subjugate the working class
      • Centralisation was objected to
      • The workhouses terrified the poor
      • Protest was strong in the Midlands and the North
      • There were public meetings, mass meetings, press campaigns and local attempts at obstruction
      • The South wasn't as organised
      • Chartism grew out of the movement


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