Reform of the poor law

Poor Law Commission 1832, Poor law Ammendment Act 1834

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  • Created by: Amy Brown
  • Created on: 08-05-11 15:59

How did the Comission conduct its enquiry?

  • Consists of severn members appionted in 1832 and two more appoionted in 1833
  • two most influencial Nassau Senior and Edwin Chadwick.
  • The commsion set about gathering evidence concerning the opporation of the poor law.
  • 26 assistant commissioners were dispatched to carry out this investigation, armed with precise instructions from the commissioners they were to
    • interview clergy, parish officers and magistrates
    • inspect parish documents
    • cross-examine witnesses
    • attend vestry meetings
    • follow up the replies to questionnaires that had been sent out by the commissioners.  
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Critcism towards the Royal Commission

  • Wildly unstatical
  • of the 1500 parishes in Endland and Wale on 10 percent were investigated.
  • in the parishes visited the questions were confusing therefore the replies were less then useful.
  • the overseers that answered the questions were often semi-literate and certainly unaccustomed to dealing with such matters
  • However  there is a recorgnition that such a survey was in itself groundbreaking in an age with very primitive bureaucratic procedures.
  • it would be unacceptable to expect modern standards to be carried out in a survey in the early 1830's
  • Chadwick and Senior had come to thier conclusion before the evidence was gathered and therefore used the evidence to support thier ideas. Using it as a tool to reform the poor law in a way they had already chosen.  
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The 1834 Report

  • The first part of the report the poor law was attacked using research from the assisstant commissioners, the second part contained the conclusion and recomendations for reform.
  • The central argument concerned the demoralisation of the labouring class, which the commissioners claimed had resulted from the poor laws.
  • They made it clear that people should distingish between the labourer who was poor, but independent, and the pauper.
  • They belived that poverty was a naturalk form of existance, but indigence was not.
  • They also thought that the poor should be separated from the pauper phsyically and psychologically.
  • The report recomended that all froms of relif apart from the workhouse should be outlawed. therefore able-bodied persons and thier families would only be able to use the workhouse asd a from of relief.
  • To enforce this a new central authority should be established to compel parishes to co-operate.
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