(Jan 2010 Q b (i)) Do you agree with the view that the main aim of poor law administration after 1834 was to deter the able-bodied poor from seeking poor relief?

Topics: Poverty, Poor Law, Workhouse Pages: 6 (2439 words) Published: April 7, 2014
(Jan 2010 Q b (i)) Do you agree with the view that the main aim of poor law administration after 1834 was to deter the able-bodied poor from seeking poor relief? The report compiled by the 1832 commission of enquiry displays its strong belief that the able bodied poor were and had to be put in their 'proper position' as the reform of the poor law was based on the commission’s findings this could suggest that they agree with the interpretation that main aim of the poor law administration after 1834 was to deter the able-bodied from seeking poor relief. However D. Englander, author of 'Poverty and Poor Law Reform in 19th Century Britain' acknowledges some accuracy within the interpretation of the question. However he dismisses the idea that the main aim of poor law administration after 1834 was to deter able-bodied poor from seeking poor relief by stating "the workhouse was always something more than a test of destitution for the able-bodied". Englander acknowledges the role of the workhouse and how they were implemented in an attempt to help the deserving poor. However Peter Murray author of 'Poverty and Welfare' supports the interpretation from the report written by the commission and consequently agrees with the interpretation in question. Murray labels the workhouses as "institutionalised cruelty", presenting a definite belief that the main aim of poor law administration after 1834 was to deter able-bodied poor from seeking poor relief. Overall, when considering the national aim of poor law administration after 1834 it was administered in order to deter able-bodied poor from seeking poor relief. However at a local level this was completely different, in order to cut costs the main aim of local poor law administration was to costs after 1834. Concerning the treatment of the deserving poor the administration after 1834 aimed to sympathise with the deserving poor however it was difficult to implement at a local level. One of the main characteristics of the new poor law was (as stated by Murray) 'less eligibility' to be a pauper consequently "the new system had to be harsh". The reason for this was the expense of the old poor law, it was becoming increasingly expensive and towards the final years it was costing the government £8 million per year. The Whig government had to keep the rate payers happy, to ensure their new found right to vote in the elections (1832 reform act). To achieve this, the Whigs set up the 1832 Royal Commission which evaluated the issues of the old poor law. They produced a report which recommended changes that could be implemented and 2 years the Poor Law reform was passed. One recommendation that came from the report was for parishes to build deterrent workhouses in order to reduce able-bodied pauperism with the assumption that outdoor relief would stop being administered. The contemporary source from the commissioners clarifies that they believed that the paupers had to be “placed in its proper position below the condition of the independent labourer" which entailed the Poor Law reform to be as supported by Murray) "harsh". The Commission evidently wanted to create an incentive to be an independent labourer rather than an able-bodied pauper, hence the implementation of the workhouses. The workhouses, as accurately stated by Murray, were "institutionalised cruelty". They stripped you of your individuality by enforcing daily and weekly routines; they stripped you of your clothes and personal belongings and gave you a uniform regardless of size. Families were segregated as it was presumed that you'd given up all responsibility and ownership of your child by bringing them to such a place as the workhouse. This was all in an attempt to shed a pauper of their individuality and freedom. The commission believed that outdoor relief created "laziness and vice" and consequently felt that rehabilitation of the Paupers was a necessity, they attempted this according to Murray by governing the life of a pauper...
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