administration has always in the past been attained â€”
namely, by the gradual adoption of successful modes of
administration which were in the first instance tried and
found efficacious in one or two unions only, will be, and
indeed is now being, followed elsewhere. What Bradfield,
St. George-in-the-East, and other unions are doing will be
generally imitated, unless some abrupt change in the
policy of the nation in regard to pauperism be introduced.
I per cent
.8 per cent
ist January 1881 .
ist January 1891 .
In the first week of January i8gi about 153 children were in the district schools,
and 16 persons belonging to the Reading Union were in the Henley Workhouse.
A correspondent writes: "The heading 'lunatics, etc.,' of course does not in-
clude the lunatics at the asylum, of which there were 78 in 1881 and 104 in 1891. I
think you should notice that the increase of ' not able-bodied and children ' is due, in
a great measure, to the present policy of the Board in sending the children of widows
to the district school instead of giving outdoor relief in such cases, thereby lessening
the outdoor list, which shows a decrease from 1019 in 1881 to 395 in 1891, and at the
present time is only 89 ; and I may .safely say that under the present Board the tend-
ency will be downwards rather than upwards.
" Respecting the accommodation at the Workhouse, through the increase in the
area of the borough and the consequent addition to the number of indoor paupers
transferred from Wokingham Union, the House became full above its recognised avail-
able accommodation, and the Local Government Board directed the Reading Board
of Guardians to enlarge the Workhouse. This matter has been taken in hand, a
new infirmary built (which will be occupied very shortly) and the House generally
" The number of inmates to be accommodated when these changes have been
completed I cannot say, but I should think there will be room for about 200 more
than at present, as it is intended to provide for the harmless lunatics now at the
asyhnn, and also to provide rooms for married couples, as we have several aged
couples now on the relief list (outdoor) who would be better in the House.
" On the ist January 1891 the accommodation in the House was exactly the same
" The accommodation at the district school at Wargrave is for 160 for Reading
and the remainder for Wokingham."
^ Separate Workhouse Infirmary.
152 ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM x
We have come to these conclusions before considering
any of the National Insurance Schemes. And I think
rightly so, for (to revert to our original questions) we have
seen that the new Poor Law has not been tried and found
wanting. The statement that in a period of comparative
prosperity it has indeed reduced pauperism, but that not
20 unions are managed on lines that would have been
approved by the Poor Law Commissioners, is, we have
seen, incorrect and misleading. And we have on this and
other grounds concluded that no new scheme is, as alleged,
The Insurance and Endowment Schemes.
On the I St August 1890 â€” for it is necessary to refer
to this now well-known return â€” a census was made of
persons over 60 who were in receipt of Poor Law relief.
It showed that there were in receipt of indoor relief 68,124
persons over 60, in receipt of outdoor relief 218,743
persons, or, if 65 be taken as the limit, the numbers in
and out were 54,752 and 190,935. The larger number
were women. Thus, of the total over 60, namely 286,867,
102,563 were men, 184,304 were women. The total
pauperism of the country, in and out, on the ist January
1 89 1, was 780,631. Of that number, 336,639 were
children under 16, vagrants, and insane. Deducting
these, we have: Able-bodied paupers, 98,794, and not
able-bodied paupers, 364,198 â€” in all, 342,998, of whom
245,687 are over 65. Clearly, then, the chief part of our
adult pauperism is, at any given time, old-age pauperism.
This is, as we have seen, what might have been expected.
As adult able-bodied pauperism was reduced, old-age
pauperism would become prominent. Besides, with age
strength diminishes, and, children apart, if there be pauper-
ism at all, the aged rather than the adult would naturally
be in receipt of poor relief.
Now for a few words of analysis.
I. The larger number of these paupers over 60 are
in receipt of outdoor relief It is certain that with careful
X PAUPERISM AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS 153
administration the pauperism of the greater number of such
persons may in future be prevented. Experience has
2. A large part of these people are women. If the
pauperism of able-bodied adult women, especially widows,
were prevented, as it can be without much difficulty, the
beginning of very much of the pauperism of women in old
age would be stopped.
3. A large number of those over 60 or 65 years of age
who are in receipt of poor relief are senile, sick, or unable
to look after themselves at home. In a Poor Law return,
published in August 1870, it appeared that on a single
day in the previous December the number of persons over
60 in receipt of sick relief was over 51,000. We have
done much since then to provide the best of infirmary
accommodation, and we have grown very lenient in granting
medical relief, and it is hkely now that the number is much
4. Lastly, the question should be considered in relation
to the date of chargeabihty. We take a census on a single
day, and find accumulated a drift of old-age pauperism.
But we are apt to forget that it is a drift. It has come bit
by bit down the stream, till it reaches our bar â€” the census
day. Go up stream and you will find no such accumula-
tion. Bit by bit at intervals the driftwood is coming down.
There are more as we get close to the bar ; fewer at a little
way off. If you could take the bits out higher up, our bar
would show but little accumulation. When, then, do we
ask, have these people become chargeable ? We have no
return to show ; and unfortunately the further elaborate
return which the Local Government Board are asking
Guardians to send in, will not include this information.
Mr. Charles Booth has given the year of chargeabihty of
paupers at Stepney in April i88g. I have worked from
this very useful statement.
At Stepney there were on the books in April 1889,
1 1 94 persons. Of these, 281 were children under 16,
297 were persons of from 17 to 49 years of age, 610 were
50 and upwards; in six no age was given. Of the 610,
ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM
400 were over 65. Of these 181 were chargeable before
the age of 65, and only 219 after that age. Apply this
proportion to Mr. Burt's return, and of those who, being
65 and more, are in receipt of relief, viz. â€” 245,687, all
but 134,513 would have been chargeable before their sixty-
We have, then, this conclusion : granted that there is
much old-age pauperism, very much of it, unless it be due
to sickness, incapacity, or moral defect, can be prevented,
but in any case, all but a little more than half of it com-
mences before the age at which any of the proposed
pension schemes would take effect.
I have said nothing yet about sickness, incapacity, and
moral defect in regard to the aged. Accordingly, I give
an analysis of the 219 cases that became chargeable at 65
Cause stated to be the Main
Cause of Pauperism.
17 . . .
76 . . .
1 Taking cases of persons at 50 years old and upwards, and excluding
cases in which drink or vice are set down as the main cause of pauperism,
I find the figures to be :â– â€”
Age of Chargeability.
30 to 35 .
35 to 40 â€¢
40 to 45 .
45 to 50 .
50 to 55 .
55 to 60 .
60 to 65
65 to 70
70 to 75 .
75 to 80
80 to 85 .
From this it will be seen that chargeability is greater between 60 and
65 than between 65 and 70, and than between 55 and 60, and 50 and 55.
X PAUPERISM AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS 155
From this it appears that of those who were chargeable
at 65 or afterwards, viz. 219, only 54 per cent, or rather
more than half, were paupers mainly on account of their
old age. And if we take the total number of paupers at
Stepney, viz. 11 94, of this number only 123, becoming
chargeable at 65 or later, were paupers chiefly because of
their age. Old-age pauperism, pure and simple, after 65,
is evidently, then, a much smaller factor than it is usually
imagined to be. If the Stepney proportion (123 out of
400) holds good generally, 75,000 would approximately
represent the number throughout the country of those who
become chargeable at 65 or afterwards, and whose charge-
ability is mainly due to old age. This comes to about 5
per cent of the total population over 65.
From this it will be seen that the number of people
who at 65 or afterwards become paupers owing to old age
without serious contributory causes is comparatively small.
But even this conclusion is too favourable. In the 123
cases in which old age was a main cause of pauperism are
found among contributory causes, sometimes overlapping,
16 drink, 2 vice, 3 extravagance, 3 temper, 3 incapacity.
Of the 123, 30 have i or more pauper relatives, 5 have
3 or more. Thus a final sifting shows that in a well-
administered town union the cases of those who are
chargeable at 65 or later, and who w^ould avoid pauperism
if there were a pension scheme for them at that age, are
comparatively few. We need not, then, be so alarmed at
the figures as some have been. They show ground for
reform on the lines of the best modern administration of
the Poor Law, but none whatever for a change of system.
The Schemes â€” Mr. Charles Booth's Scheme.
I will refer to two schemes only, Mr. Booth's scheme
and Mr. Chamberlain's scheme.
Mr. Booth's scheme is this. Every inhabitant of the
British Isles, on reaching the age of 65, is to receive as a
right the sum of 5s. a week until his death, unless he or
she have, in the ten years before that age, been in receipt
156 ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM x
of Poor Law relief or have been convicted of crime. In
order to get this pension, the claimant would personally
appear before the superintendent registrar and state what
he believed to be his age and where he had passed his life,
and he would, in particular, give the actual addresses at
which he had lived for the last ten years. He would also
give the names of two or three respectable persons who
might be willing to speak to his credibility and the prob-
able truth of his statement, and he would be cross-
examined. A moderate fee for this inquiry would be
stopped out of his pension. The system would be main-
tained by vote from year to year. There would be no " in-
alienable right " to a pension. Yet the plan is to be taken
as a final settlement. The age 65, it is said, represents
the true mean between a natural dependence on others and
the ability to earn one's own living. The cost would be
about ;^i 7,000,000 for England and Wales. We now
spend ;^8, 500,000 on poor relief The aged are taken
as a third of the paupers in the country ; and out of our
Poor Law expenditure, therefore, about ;^2,8oo,ooo might
be saved. There is to be gradually a practical abolition of
all outdoor relief. This may lead to a further saving. But
we have to estimate for the expenditure of ;^i 7,000,000
a year. It is assumed that taxation can be arranged to
fall in true proportion to income ; and it is stated that
those who have a family income of about ;^i5o a year
shared by four or five persons, young and old, would be
on the middle line, paying out in taxation as much as they
would subsequently receive in benefit. Those who are
in " a fair working class position " are to pay less and to
receive the difference from the middle and wealthy class ;
and for the quite poor (family income ^^50 or less) all but
a fourth is to be so provided. The middle and more or
less wealthy class are to pay for their own five-shilling pen-
sion and make good what is deficient in the payments of
all other classes. To provide for those who are in need
of a pension before 65 a bridge must be built; this is to
be the duty of Insurance, Friendly Societies, and others.
To prevent application to the Poor Law in case of sickness
X PAUPERISM AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS 157
we are to have a hospital system organised under the
sanitary authorities, with a small charge for patients
and provident payments. Those who do not become
" free of the hospital " are to be paid for by the parish.
All will receive the pension, or be entitled to it, therefore
no one will be under any sense of pauperism : dependence
on the State will thus lose its disgrace. " He who has
wants more : " therefore the promised pension will provoke
to thrift. Fear of destitution plays no important part in
the development of thrift. Enterprise is the most potent
cause of saving ; the next motive is to provide for one's
children, but this is secondary with the poor. With them
the most irresistible incentive is " a prolonged experience
of comfort." Filial duty may be shown in many ways
besides the supporting of father or mother. The present
system, by which the young have to support the old, leads
Now to run over some points in this statement.
There is not, as is alleged, any finality to the scheme.
As we have seen, of the paupers over 65, most probably
about 46 per cent become paupers before that age. If
the scheme were adopted, what would be so natural as,
out of a sense of justice, to press for the inclusion of
paupers from the age of 60? But then the cost! The
^17,000,000 would become nearly ^25,000,000 ; and no
one dares face so large an expenditure. There is, in fact,
no principle in sticking at the age of 65.
The Insurance Societies, the Friendly Societies, and
others are to make a bridge till the sixty-fifth year is
reached. This bridge must be a strong one, so strong that
if it be built, the difficulties after 65 may be set aside, for
they will probably disappear, when provision up to 65 is
thus provided. As we have seen, if the Stepney figures
hold good generally, only 134,513 persons would be charge-
able at or after the age of 65 â€” 134,513 out of about
1,323,000 persons â€” the total population over 65. And
this number is reckoned so as to include all paupers over
65 whose pauperism is due to sickness, incapacity, or
ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM
To prevent the pauperisation of, or rather to endow as
State dependents, so small a number of those over 65, is
all this large expenditure desirable, especially as we must
have the bridge up to 65 in any case? And then, if we
make the bridge, we most probably can do without any
" endowment " at all.
Next, the ;^i 7,000,000 is to be levied in such a way as
to fall in true proportion to income. Let us set this out.
I take Mr. Giffen's rough estimate.^
England and Wales.
Income in Millions.
Income Tax Incomes
Upper and middle
classes, below In-
Manual Labour class .
The total national income is put at about
^1,000,000,000. This rough estimate of Mr. Giffen's is
rather larger. Suppose we follow it. Then of the required
^17,000,000 Class I., the income tax-payers, would pay
about ;!^8, 100,000. The middle class, the ^150 people,
who would pay for themselves, would pay about ^1,500,000.
From the manual labour class ^2,600,000 may be levied,
of which artisans (about 5/iiths of the whole number)
may pay half, and the remainder, as labourers, a fourth of
the amount of their future pensions.
To make up the balance of the needful ^17,000,000,
a further sum of about ^4,500,000 must also be de-
manded of income tax -payers, whose total contribution
1 Journal of the Statistics Society, p. 63, vol. xli.x. , 1886.
X PAUPERISM AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS 159
will thus amount to over ;^i 2,000,000 a year, levied for
the benefit of the manual labour class and quite poor.
We have thus (bar a small reduction which may be taken
as set aside for their own old age) a wholesome trans-
ference of over ;!^i 2,000,000 from the richer class to the
poorer for maintenance. We have yet to learn that a
transfer of this kind does not ruin and pauperise the
receivers. Only those who adopt a socialistic view of
society and hope that the State instead of private in-
dividuals will become the general fund-holder, would find
such a reform satisfactory ; to them it would be a stepping-
stone to a completer division. To others it would hardly
appear to give (as Mr. Booth calls it) " a security of position
which will stimulate rather than weaken the play of in-
dividuality on which progress and prosperity depend."
Next the proposal would lead to a repeal of the section
of the Act of Queen Elizabeth that requires children to
support their parents, though the reverse obligation would
still apparently remain : parents would have to support
their children. The Poor Law Commissioners speak in no
over-stern way of the former duty ; they would apparently
trust rather to the personal feeling of obligation than any
legal enactment. But a moral feeling may, like a limb of
the body, lose its force and even its existence by gradual
desuetude. What we keep healthy, we use constantly.
The obligations of child to father, if treated as a kind of
luxury â€” not to be expressed in payment for maintenance, but
in works of kindly supererogation â€” may in time lose their
potency altogether. Perhaps, if it were found necessary to
keep family affection alive as a kind of indispensable salt
of humanity, we might, as in old Poor Law days, come back
to the payment of bounties for it. I would submit a pro-
posal for a large expenditure from the public purse on the
lines of the following bill incurred at Yattendon by the
overseers of the poor about the year 1834 : â€”
To Elizabeth W., a present for her kindness to her father 5 o
To Lucy A., for looking after her mother when ill . . 36
To Mary B., for sitting up at nights with her father . 2 o
i6o ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM x
"The overseer's wife, herself a mother it is stated, saw
nothing wrong in this ; as for children to be dutiful to their
old and sick parents was a great hindrance."^
Here we shall have a further anomaly also : family
affection up to the age of 65 will be necessary for bridge-
making purposes ; therefore, the Act of Queen Elizabeth
must not be modified within that limit. But after
65 it will no longer be necessary. Therefore after
65 the child will not be required to maintain his
parent. Then, again, the transference by taxation of
;^ 1 0,000,000 per annum from one class to another for
maintenance, is said to be in no way injurious. Will not
the money be spent in articles of consumption, it is said ?
Will it not be used to give employment when transferred,
as much as it might have done if not transferred ? No
economic harm will be done, and a great bounty will be
given. Rather, I should say, a great and ruinous economic
mischief will be wrought and a most fatal bounty will be
given. The money is now in the hands of those who,
whatever their faults, are in the main desirous of turning
their possession of it to the best economic account. It
is raoney phis a certain intelligent energy in the holder,
and, transferred in a natural manner to others in payment
for labour done, it is no less when thus transferred, the
wage of intelligent energy in the receiver. But take it
away from the one class by the compulsion of taxation,
and hand it to the other for maintenance, and, so far as
it is a force for good and progress, you devitalise it.
;^i 2,000,000 less a year will be invested in trade by
those who, as holders, have most interest in investing it
well. ^12,000,000 more a year will go to a single class,
not as the result of their energy but simply as a bonus,
and also under conditions which require neither directly
nor indirectly any return for it in service rendered.
Two arguments are used to controvert this. It is said
that the State is our great Labour master, and that after
all the labourer may expect from it his compensations for
^ Extract from Mr. Edward Gulson's report, First Annual Report of the
Poor Law Commissioners, p. 185.
X PAUPERISM AND OLD-AGE PENSIONS i6i
a hard life. But this is a very false analogy. We, most
of us, however much we care for social progress, do not,
indeed cannot, labour for the State, as employees. We
labour for ourselves ; and out of what we earn, and often
out of our time, we give a quota to the State for the com-
mon purposes of the community. We gain no claim to
compensation or maintenance by the State on the ground
that we do not receive sufficient profit or advantage from
the labour of our hands. We do not pay taxes for our
own maintenance or for the maintenance of any class in
the community, but out of what we earn for our main-
tenance we pay taxes for common advantages. In a
Socialist community the State would be the Labour master
â€” not elsewhere.
The other argument is that the prospect of the five-
shilling pension will so act as an incentive to thrift and
well-doing that the objections to it may be set aside.
Public servants who have the prospect of a pension are, it
is said, among the most thrifty and careful people in the
country : the " five-shilling " pension will produce a similar
thrift in the labouring classes. But the prospective five
shillings at 65 is altogether unlike a pension. It begins
abnormally late. It is, most would think, very small. It is
not in any sense deferred wages, as is the pension in the case
of public officials. Still, it is said, "He who has wants more."
This in a degree is true. But it is doubtful if he who may
be about to have wants more. And, as I say, it is only in
a degree true. He who has earned what he has, wants to
earn more. But, so far as we have analogies, the having
by way of gift, altogether irrespective of work done or to
be done, a gift without responsibilities is no stimulus to
energy. To be entitled, as the inhabitants of some town,
or the member of a certain family, to a fixed sum from an
endowed charity has not been found to prove a motive for
industry, but the reverse. And in these taxation doles of
five shillings there is no single element that fosters good
feeling and gives life to the gift. Charity there is not, nor
the reward of wages. There may be in them, some may
think, a rough social justice ; for he that has is obliged to
1 62 ASPECTS OF THE SOCIAL PROBLEM x
give to him that has not. And if the gift of ^12,000,000
could be shown to remove pauperism and make poverty
content, I suppose all would say, that for so great an
object it should be given. But all our experience goes to
show that such wholesale giving leads not to happiness,
but to misery, discontent, and social confusion. Of
pauperism, as I have pointed out, there will be, so far as
this scheme goes, as much, or nearly as much, as ever;
and poverty will have learnt, as even yet it has never done,
the fatal lesson of chronic dependence on the community.
This doctrine â€” because all have the pension, therefore
the result will be good â€” is used in another form also. It is
said : if all have, or are entitled to, a pension, there can be
no degradation in receiving it. The common sense and
experience of the nation have hitherto held dependence on
the funds of the community â€” dependence for which no
service has been rendered â€” to be degrading. In practice,
it has looked leniently on dependence by way of outdoor
relief, but this rather because that form of relief was more
attractive than because dependence was anything but
objectionable. And the feeling against dependence in
any shape grows, I think. Yet it seems as if some
believed that this feeling might be done away with by a