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LONDON CHARITIES AND PAUPERISM.

Dec 18 Anmerkung von Jenny Marx

Last evening a paper embodying startling facts as to the expenditure of the charities of London and the extent to which pauperism is encouraged by them was read by Dr. Hawksley, at a meeting which was held in the room of the Society of Arts. It was held under the auspices of the London Association for the Prevention of Pauperism and Crime, which, it was stated incidentally, is about to convene a conference with the view of adopting practical measures for the attainment of its objects. The meeting was presided over by the Earl of Shaftesbury, and among those present were Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, Mr. W. Cowper, Mr. J. Ruskin, Dr. Stallard, the Rev. H. Solly, and the Rev. Septimus Hansard. The noble Chairman at once introduced Dr. Hawksley to the meeting.

The paper commenced by referring to one read in June last by the Rev. H. Solly. That led to the appointment of a committee, which divided itself into sections for systematized work, and the result was the formation of this association. In the division of labour it fell to the author to take a survey of the means in operation to oppose pauperism; and the facts made out were thought by his colleagues sufficiently important to form the basis of a special discussion. These were some of the result arrived at:—There are in London 606 charities which give their annual income, and 382 which do not. The income of the first number is 3,857,119l. To allow for those whose sphere of operation was out of London, or only partially in it 144,655l. was subtracted, leaving 2,712,464l. Estimating the income of the charities which do not give returns at the same ratio, 1,499,176l. was added and that made a total of 4,211,630l. Classifying the charities, it was found that 121,414l. was spent in treating mental or corporeal disease, 951,302l. in supplying the ordinary necessaries of life, and 426,460l. for educational, training, moral, and religious purposes. So far Fry’s London Charities was used as a catalogue, by no means complete. In 1861 Mr. Sampson Low estimated the income of 640 institutions at 2,441,967l., stating the ratio of increase in the preceding ten years, and if that ratio had been maintained the income might be set down now at 3,011,753l., which showed that the present calculation was supported by that of seven years ago. There could, then, be little doubt that four millions was collected and distributed annually by the charities of London, while another million might be set down for offertory collections, &c., and an additional quarter of a million for private almsgiving. The police magistrates distributed about 9,600l. per annum. The parochial expenditure in 1867 equaled another million and a quarter, exclusive of the common fund expenditure for infirmaries &c. State expenditure in London for education might be set down at 100,000l., and for the repression and punishment of the crime which might fairly be put down to want of moral and industrial training at 80,000l. The result was that at least 7,000,000l. was spent annually in London in dealing with the requirements of poverty. If one-eighth of the whole population, or 400,000 persons, were dependent on the other seven-eighths, the sum named would supply to each 17l. a head for every man, woman, and child, or to every family of five persons 85l. per annum, with 50,000l. to spare for the expenses of collection and distribution. During the last ten years the population of London had increased one-sixth; the pauper part of it had increased one-half. Of offenders and suspected persons known to the police and at large in London there were, in 1867, 8,964; and in 1868, 10,342. The discontinuance of transportation turned 2,000 convicts loose upon the community every year, in addition to 100,000 of all sorts from our gaols. In London there were 100,000 children destitute of proper guardianship, and exposed for the most part to the training of beggars and thieves. He doubted whether a parallel to this picture could be found out of the Kingdom of Dahomey. He attributed this condition of things to erroneous method and want of organization. The new Poor Law dealt with destitution only in its completed state, and did not attempt to prevent pauperism. Through it we attempted to discharge the duties of humanity by proxy; we multiplied workhouse and officials, prisons and police, and how much did we do to prevent pauperism and crime? Including training and industrial schools, he had made out a list of 30 preventive institutions with an income of 60,000l. per annum. The second error of method (indirectly connected with this subject) was the diminution of our food supply by the pollution of our rivers. Experience had shown that we had an army of professional beggars, and that the aid afforded by our institutions often failed to reach those most in need of it. Reviewing the various causes of the failure of charitable agency to check pauperism, Dr. Hawksley submitted the following suggestions to remedy them;—First, a modification of our Poor Law system. There should be a more discriminating treatment of adults, and sufficient support given to the aged and infirm in their own homes, as well as to the sick (allowing for obviously exceptional cases). The ablebodied in health to work should be set on labour that would pay for maintenance. All children found without proper guardianship ought to be apprehended and sent to industrial schools, the parents being made, if possible, to contribute to their support. The schools should be made as far as possible self-supporting by apprenticing the children in sufficient time to make their labour profitable, or by employing the partially in factories. The difficulties in the way of the successful administration of the charities of London he proposed to remove in this way:—(a) By the union of all the charities, including the parochial, in a common understanding and obligation to attend only to applications authorized by an office of registration and inquiry placed in every parish or district. (b) Each office to be in communication with the others, and all to be subject to a central one, which latter would act as an office, not only of general control, but also for the general audit of charity accounts and for inspection of the annual reports of the same. The district office, on the other hand, would be constantly open to the application of all distressed or sick poor; the officer in charge would enter the particulars of the Applicant and his requirements in such a way as would identify the individual, and be evidence of truth or falsity of statement; he would then, or subsequently, either personally or by the agency of a district visitor, go and verify the statement, and he would at the time of application, if necessary, supply to the applicant a card directing him or her to the most appropriate charity or institution for the requisite relief, the card so given being the necessary but all-sufficient requirement by the charity or institution to which it was directed. In some instances it would be possible, when the inspector found that the applicant was not altogether destitute, to write on the card,—“The bearer can pay something towards the expenses of the charity;” and this would be as useful to the applicant as the institution, for everything that favours independence tends to diminish the mean and unmanly spirit of unnecessary dependency. Such machinery of a central and of district offices would constitute, in effect, a “police of charity.” It would require for its effectual working a large staff of voluntary or unpaid district visitors, who would be selected for their fitness, and act under the direction and government of systematic rules of conduct, and management. The district officer would teach them their duties and be responsible for their conduct, keeping a record, to be carefully and daily filled up, in which the particulars of every applicant would be “ledgered up,” and which would serve as a book of reference by other officers or by the public at all times, so that, when any one applied to private persons for relief, the latter could directly ascertain what had already been done in his or her behalf. If it were objected that such a system of charity police would be very expensive, it was easy to suggest how that would be met. Let charities pay 1l. per cent. of their annual income to a common fund for this purpose, and only 400,000l. of their income 40,000l. per annum would be immediately produced. There are 36 unions in the metropolitan area—suppose an average of five district offices to each union, and the expenses of each office equaled 200l. a year, the cost of the 180 offices would thus be 36,000l. per annum, leaving 4,000l. per annum for the central office. It might be found that fewer offices would do, but if not the work performed by them would be of the highest public utility. We should then obtain a public and independent audit of all charitable accounts and reports, which would strengthen the position of the good and deserving charities, and either reform or annihilate the bad ones. This agency would supply the poor with an easy, sure, and expeditious method of obtaining succor for the destitute and the real sufferer, for the office would possess the power of opening the door at once to the most suitable help at all hours of the day or night. Next, we should be able to prevent entirely the trade of begging, by identifying every dependent person, and obliging him to keep to his own district for relief, the correspondence of the offices making it impossible for the same person to obtain a ticket of relief from two offices, aided as the offices would be by the weekly reports of the different charities, and also by the reports of the district visitors. Put this system in complete action, and the law might mercifully |9 sweep every beggar from the streets. The machinery thus sketched out would subserve other useful purposes. Each of those district offices might constitute a center of parochial usefulness to which Mr. Solly’s notions of working men’s clubs might be affiliated, or in other cases the head-quarters might be allied to them of those organizations of frankpledge, of registration, and of friendly supervision which were devised to favour the honourable industry of the rearmed criminal. In some concluding remarks Dr. Hawksley discussed a scheme for amending the Poor-Law, suggested by Dr. Stallard which he said was sound in principle, but he did not think it necessary to appoint Poor-law magistrates.

The Rev. H. SOLLY read passages from some of the evidence taken by the sub-committee in corroboration of the conclusions in Dr. Hawksley’s paper as to the encouragement of pauperism by indiscriminate charity. Instances were adduced in which persons had been detected going from one clergyman to another, and seeking relief as a trade. In some cases numbers of confirmed paupers had organized themselves into gangs, who exchanged information as to the institutions and individuals that could be easily imposed upon. In other persons spent a considerable portion of their time in identifying themselves with several places of worship in order to obtain the relief dispensed at each.

A lengthy discussion ensued.

The Rev. SEPTIMUS HANSARD, of Bethnal-green, said the facts revealed were startling and disgraceful to Englishmen. That people were dying of starvation while so much was spent in charity was a scandal to us in the eyes of Europe. He hoped this Parliament would set about the reform of the Poor-law, and he would suggest that given districts of London should combine their charitable agencies. Surely that might be done which was being done or attempted in Liverpool and Edinburgh. He disapproved the building of large schools, because they deprived children of home influence. Two hundred countesses would degenerate in character if brought up together without being subject to home influence. It was perfectly idle to talk of stopping the flow of charity by any well-organized scheme; but he believed that system would prompt rather than retard charity. It was indiscriminate relief, sanctioned, he was sorry to say, by the press, and adopted by the public, to ease their own consciences, that had produced chronic pauperism in the East-end of London.

Mr. RUSKIN said we did not know how the poor lived and died, and these were the things we had to learn. The first thing to be done was to register the poor, and this was not impossible if everyone in his own sphere would take pains to ascertain what he could concerning the poor about him. Let people give to those they knew and prevent them becoming beggars and criminals. Let us educate the poor by teaching them how to live and maintain themselves, for there was no education without employment; and the work was to be done by the organization of agencies that were to be found in abundance in all ranks society, and especially in the drawing-rooms of the wealthy.

Dr. STALLARD (who is to bring some phases of the subject before a special meeting of the Social Science Association on Monday evening) said he was well acquainted with a district of London which illustrated all the positions laid down in Dr. Hawksley’s paper, and, after giving some instances of imposture, he defended his proposal to appoint magistrates for the administration of relief, contending that that office demanded more knowledge and discretion, and involved more serious consequences than the ordinary administration of justice. He did not think it possible or necessary to interfere with individual or institutional charity, but with a dozen districts of London, under as many magistrates, he believed we should gradually accomplish our purpose—the diminution of pauperism.

Dr. RICHARDSON said we need not discuss the question of charities if the Legislature would provide work for those who wanted it, treat as criminals those who would not work, and make provision for the helpless, both young and aged.

Mr. FORBES, amid general applause, asked the meeting not to overlook intemperance as a cause of pauperism, and the temperance movement as an important agent to prevent and cure it.

Mr. MEASOR advocated the employment of persons out of work upon waste lands, the organization of a more effective scheme of emigration, and the complete registration of labour to facilitate discrimination between the worthy and the unworthy.

Inhalt:

  • Social cases. 1869