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Officers must relieve without order.
But may be compelled.
Concerning relieving and ordering the Poor.
THE objects of parish relief are either settled poor, or casual poor. They are relievable, 1st, at their own houses; 2d, in workhouses; 3d, in parishes incorporated under general statutes or some special act of parliament; 4th, as lunatic poor; 5th, in gaols; and 6thly, as the families of militia men. The regulations respecting these different modes of affording relief are contained in various acts of parliament, the substance of which will be set forth shortly in the following sections.
may be generally observed that parish officers are under a legal obligation to relieve and support their poor in the manner pointed out by these statutes without an order obtained for this purpose. (1) But a discretion as to the mode of relief is taken away from them in some instances and reposed in the justices, who are empowered to make an order to compel them (2), as they may in all cases within their jurisdiction where the officers have improperly refused to relieve.
Poor to be set to work.
Concerning relieving the Poor at their own Houses, and herein of the Authority of Justices to order Relief, of the Form of the Order, and of Select Vestries.
By the 43 Eliz. c. 2. s. 1. the churchwardens and overseers, or the greater part of them, shall take order from
(1) Hays v. Bryant, 1 H. Black, 253. ante. 335. (2).
time to time, by and with the consent of two or more justices of the county, for setting to work the children of all such whose parents shall not by the said churchwardens, &c. be thought able to keep and maintain their children; and also for setting to work all such persons, married or unmarried, having no means to maintain them, and using no ordinary and daily trade to get their living by. And also to raise by taxation, weekly or otherwise, a convenient stock to set the poor to work (1); and also Those not able to work competent sums towards the necessary relief of the lame, to be relieved. impotent, old, blind, and such other among them being poor and not able to work; and also to put out children apprentices.
By sect. 4. the justices are to send to the house of Those who correction or common gaol such as shall not employ themselves to work, being appointed thereunto.
The 3 Car. I. c. 4. s. 20. authorises the churchwardens and overseers, by the consent of two or more justices, to set up any trade for setting the poor to work.
refuse to work to be punished.
Trades set up
for the poor.
By stat. 59 Geo. III. c. 12. s. 12. reciting that, by 43 Eliz. Land to be provided for c. 2., the churchwardens and overseers are directed employing the to set to work certain persons therein described, and that poor. by the laws now in force sufficient powers are not given to the churchwardens and overseers to enable them to keep
(1) On an appeal against the allowance of overseers' accounts, a very important question was raised for the opinion of the court of K. B., namely, whether the overseers of the poor are justified in giving pecuniary relief to the able-bodied poor when out of employment, without setting them to work. The case was fully argued, but as it did not appear whether the overseers could or could not provide work for the unemployed poor, nor what endeavours they had made to attain that object, the court merely suggested that it was undoubtedly the primary duty of the overseers to find employment for the poor, if possible, and the case was sent back to sessions to find whether any, and if any, what endeavours had been made to procure employment for the able-bodied poor out of employment. Rex v. Collett, 2 B, & C. 324.
such persons fully and constantly employed, it is enacted, that the churchwardens and overseers of the parish may, with the consent of the inhabitants in vestry assembled (1), take into their hands any land belonging to the parish or parish officers, or the poor thereof; or purchase, hire, and take on lease, on account of the parish, any suitable portion of land Not to exceed within or near the parish not exceeding twenty acres, and employ in the cultivation of it, on account of the parish, such Poor entitled persons as they are by law directed to set to work, and
Land may be let to the poor.
Limitation of sums to be raised.
such persons reasonable wages; who shall be entitled to the same remedies for the recovery of their wages, and shall be liable to the same punishment for misbehaviour, as other labourers in husbandry are.
Section 13. For the promotion of industry amongst the poor; the churchwardens and overseers of any parish, ́ with consent of the inhabitants in vestry assembled, may let any portion of parish land, or of the land purchased or taken on account of the parish, to any poor and industrious inhabitant to be occupied on their own account, at such reasonable rent, and for such term as shall be fixed by the inhabitants in vestry.
Section 14. limits the sum to be expended in one year, in purchasing and stocking land, and in purchasing and repairing buildings, to not exceeding one shilling in the pound upon the annual value of property in the parish, assessable to the poor's rate, unless by consent of the majority of inhabitants and occupiers assessed being present in vestry, and by consent in writing in the vestry-book of twothirds in value of the inhabitants and occupiers, whether present or not.
By 57 Geo. III. c. 34. the commissioners of His Majesty's
(1) As many powers respecting the relieving the poor in all its branches are given to the inhabitants of parishes in vestry assembled, see the statutes 58 Geo. III. c.69., and 59 Geo. III. c. 85., by which these meetings are regulated, Vol. I. p. 41.
treasury were authorised to issue exchequer bills not exceeding 1,500,000l., to be applied, amongst other objects, to the employment of the poor of parishes in Great Britain.
Section 29. provided, that no advance shall be made Consent to unless the application be made with the consent of three- application. fourths in value, and a majority in number, of persons assessed; and if there be a select vestry, governors of the poor, &c. then with the consent of four-fifths of them, such consent to be certified by a justice and one or more overseers.
Section 30. The application must be sanctioned by two Justices. justices, acting as such within or for the parish, &c.; and the application of the sums advanced shall be under their control.
Section 31. limits the amount of the advance.
Section 32. provides for the repayment of the sums advanced within two years.
Section 33. No advance shall be made, unless the sums expended for the relief of the poor shall exceed a certain sum.
Subsequent regulations have been introduced by 57 Geo. III c. 124. 1 Geo. IV. c. 60. 1 & 2 Geo. IV. c. 111. and, lastly, by stat. 3 Geo. IV. c.86., a further issue of exchequer bills is authorised for the purposes of these acts.
3 W. & M.
An order of relief might be made by one justice under Single justice 43 Eliz. c. 2. (1), but the power is more distinctly given may order reeither to a single justice or the quarter sessions by 3 W. & M. c.2. c. 11. s. 11. (2), which, after reciting that churchwardens and Sessions by overseers frequently, upon frivolous pretences, give relief c.11. to the poor, provides that a book shall be kept, that the names of those who receive relief shall be inserted in the book, with the date and reason of such relief; that yearly in Easter week, or as often as is convenient, the book shall
(1) Per Lord Kenyon, C. J. Rex v. Keer and Rich, 5 Term Rep. 159. (2) Rex v. Winship and Greenwell, Cald.72.
By 9 Geo.I.
summons of Overseers.
be produced to the parishioners in vestry or other place of meeting, who may examine the causes of such relief, and make new lists; and further, that no person who is not in the book shall receive relief, except by order under hand and seal of a justice, or by order of justices at quarter sessions, except in cases of pestilential diseases, plague, or small-pox.
This section of 3 W. III. c.11. gives no express authority to a neighbouring justice to make an order of relief, except where none resides in the parish: the words of the statute being, "if no justice be dwelling in the parish." This has been argued, therefore, to be a declaration, that if a justice be. dwelling in a parish he only shall have cognizance of the matter; and that being the foundation of his jurisdiction, the order ought to aver, that the justices making it lived in the parish, or that there was none living there. But it has been decided, that the statute was in this respect only directory, for which Salk. 473. was relied upon. (1),
The 9 Geo. I. c. 7. s. 1. reciting the stat. 3 W. & M. c. 11., and that under colour of such provision many persons have ous refusal to applied to the justices without the knowledge of the parish officers, and upon false suggestions obtained relief, to the great increase of the rates, directs that no justice shall order relief until oath be made of some matter which he shall judge to be reasonable cause for having relief, that the party has applied for relief to the parishioners at a parish meeting, or to two overseers, and has been refused; and until such overseers have been summoned to show cause why the relief should not be given, and the person so summoned hath been heard or made default.
Order of relief where there is no se
And by 50 Geo. III. c. 12. s. 5. every order after 1st May, 1819, for the relief of the poor, where there is no select vestry under this act, shall be made by two or more juslect vestry, to tices, who are to take into consideration the character and conduct of the person applying for relief; provided that in
be made by
(1) Rex v. Woodst erton, 2 Barnard, K.B. 207. 247. See ante, Vol. I. 55.