The New Poor Law: Goals and Motivations

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  • Topic: Poor Law, Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, Poverty
  • Pages : 7 (2417 words )
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  • Published : May 17, 2013
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The New Poor Law what were the Aims and Motivations

This essay is looking to explain the aims of and the motivations behind the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, also the links to the Emancipation Act, Malthusian and Benthamite influence on the Act. The outcome on history will not change but just maybe a clearer understanding of the reasoning behind the changes.

The first thing to look at is the amended Act itself presented by Nassau Senior and Edwin Chadwick the report took the view that people were poor and needy by either idleness or ignorance not by socioeconomic conditions, Outdoor relief for the able-bodied was to be abolished, this meant the only means of financial support for a family was to present themselves at the workhouse knowing it meant your family would be separated from each other and living in total squalor. The Bastardy clause meant that the mother had the right to relief for her child through the workhouse supposedly for them to make the father pay, this was an attempt at legal control of moral issues. The Parishes were grouped together into unions and workhouses to be established in each union, for example Cramlington was part of the Tynemouth union which went from Blyth to North Shields and Cramlington to Benton including everything in-between. The conditions in workhouses were to be made harsher than that of the lowest paid. This was the concept of ‘less eligibility’ or less attractiveness. Families were separated and lived in extremely poor conditions poor hygiene extremely poor food and received harsh treatment from governors. Poor Law Commissioners in London (the Poor Law Board) were Thomas Frankland Lewis, George Nicholls and John George Shaw Lefevre they were to supervise the scheme and maintain national standards. Which was an early attempt at national control on a local level, which could never truly work at that time. The Poor Law Amendment Act passed through Parliament with large majorities and very little opposition, The Times printed objections and Cobbett fought for the rights of relief for the poor. Chadwick had rushed the report through so some areas where not expanded on, as he had expected to take charge of the board and he knew what was meant to be done, but he only got the position of secretary to the board. The Cabinet had refused to force unions to build workhouses, Althorp, The Home Secretary said” The landed interests were looking for immediate relief and relief to be purchased through expenditure would be rejected at once”. From the start of the industrial evolution in England capitalist greed caused trouble. Technological advancements in farming caused unemployment in rural areas, poor harvests caused food shortages and price rises in everything but wages. In 1815 the war in France ends but that was not the end of troubles over the following nineteen years riots and revolutionary troubles followed such as Peterloo Massacre of 1819. There were Three revolutions in 1820 as well as the Cato street conspiracy. The Russian December revolt of 1825. a global cholera epidemic begins in India 1826. In 1830 the July revolution in France brought the abdication of Charles X and another revolt in Warsaw.1831 saw Polish independence, Belgian independence and Italian rebellions put down by the Austrians and the swing riots all of which worried the English Government fearing an all-out revolution, reforms with in government policy are seen as prudent. In 1829 Catholics were again allowed to hold public office in Britain and Sir Robert Peel created the Police force. H.L Beales 1931 summary of the Poor Law after 1831 referred to it as genuine primary radical legislation or more accurately ‘social fascism’. The fault with pre 1834 Poor Law was the abled bodied paupers that refused to work. Parallels can be draw to 2010 Conservative views of unemployed and DLA recipients. The New Poor law was deemed a success because it meant the workhouses where funded nationally not by the Parish and...
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