Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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and employed, of neighbor with neighbor, of Christian with pastor
were broken. There v/as no new resource opened to these scattered
poor in times of destitution.

To these causes we must add church divisions. The ancient Scot-
land knew but one great church, established by law, the spiritual
home by birth of every Scotchman. The Protestant faith and the



Presbyterian Church were established by act of the Scotch ParUa-
ment in 1560, and the former parish divisions were retained. The
first secession occurred in 1733, and others followed. Money for-
merly given for the poor from customary Sabbath collections must
now go to build rival chapels and maintain seceding ministers.
Churches thus placed could not cooperate in administering a common
plan. Controversies crippled charity. Bravely and conscientiously
such pastors as Chalmers endeavored to stem the current which was
setting against them, and in the hands of a few powerful leaders
there was success.^

But the system of voluntary assessments was found unequal and
unjust. Many of the rich refused to pay their share, and the church
collections were wholly insufficient to meet the increasing needs of
the poor. Many of the poor sufifered and their misery made its
appeal to the benevolent. One by one the parish authorities voted to
introduce the method of compulsory assessment, which for genera-
tions they had been permitted to do. The law remained, unlike the
English law, purely permissive, and even at the time Lamond- wrote
(1892) there were still 49 parishes in Scotland which preferred the
ancient custom and provided for all their poor without compulsory

The custom of voluntary assessments gained the power of pre-
scriptive right and made transition to compulsory assessments easy
and natural. In the first report of the Board of Supervision (p. Ill)
it is expressly said : "It has not been in our power to ascertain ac-
curately how many parishes were assessed for relief of the poor,
previous to August, 1845. Voluntary contributions were then
habitually called voluntary assessments, and in the course of our pro-
ceedings, we have found that the parochial authorities had some-
times lost sight of the distinction, and believed that they were levy-
ing a legal assessment, when in fact no such assessment had been
imposed, and the funds had been raised by a voluntary contribution
amongst the heritors, which had long been established, and had not
been objected to." Out of 878 parishes into which Scotland was di-
vided, there were, in 1842-3, 230 legally assessed.^

^ See the introduction by C. R. Henderson to abridged edition of The Chrisdan
and Civic Economy of Large Towns, by Thomas Chalmers.
^ Lamond, Scottish Poor Laws.
^ First Annual Report of the Board of Supervision for the Relief of the Poor


A-B. Since the Poor Law of Great Britain is described quite fully
in another section, that on England, it is not necessary to give space
to legal details at this point. Local government was reorganized
in 1889 to conform in the main to the principles of recent British
legislation. The members of County Councils are elected and take
the place of the former commissioners of supply and road trustees.
By an act of 1894 a Local Government Board for Scotland was
erected similar to that of England of the previous year ; and this act
provided that a Parish Council should be maintained in every parish
for the business of the parish. The English Poor Law differs from
that of Scotland in several very important respects. In Scotland,
as the able-bodied have no right to parochial relief, persons not dis-
abled, though destitute or in reduced circumstances, from want of
employment or other cause, must rely entirely for assistance upon
private charitable agencies. In Scotland persons who are partially
disabled, though not entirely destitute, are legally entitled to such a
measure of parochial relief as may be necessary to supplement their
other resources. If refused relief they can apply to the sheriff, and
if they think the relief inadequate they can appeal to the Board. In
England the Guardians cannot legally give relief in redeeming tools
or clothes from pawn, in purchasing tools, in purchasing clothes
(except in cases of urgent necessity), in paying the cost of convey-
ance to any other place, or in paying rent or lodging ; while in Scot-
land all these things may be done.^

in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1847. Poor Law Inquiry (Scotland), Edinburgh, 1844,
appendix. Part II, containing minutes of evidence. F. M. Eden, The State of the
Poor (1797), vol. Ill, appendix X, gives a brief account of poor-relief in Scotland
at the close of the i8th century.

^ Rules, Instructions and Recommendations of the Local Government Board
for Scotland (1897), p. 91.

"The principal acts relating to parish councils may be divided as follows :
I. The Local Government Act of 1894, being the Act by which parish councils
were constituted. II. The Poor Law Acts 1845 to 1886, being the Acts which
make provision for the relief of the poor. III. The Agricultural Rates Act of
1896, which modifies the provisions of the Poor Law Acts regarding rating. IV.
The Lunacy Acts 1857 to 1887, so far as relating to pauper lunatics. V. The Vac-
cination Act of 1863, under which the duty of enforcing vaccination is intrusted
to parish councils. VI. The Registration of Births, Deaths, and Marriage Acts
1854 to i860, so far as relating to the appointment of local registrars. VII. The
Burial Grounds Acts 1855 to 1886, under which the duty of providing burial
grounds may fall to parish councils. VIII. The Allotments Act of 1892, under


By the Poor Law (Scotland) Act, 1898, the right of settlement
by residence was defined as follows : Section 76 of the Poor Law
(Scotland) Act of 1845 (8 & 9 Vict. Ch. 83) was repealed and in
lieu thereof this provision was enacted : "From and after the com-
mencement of this Act no person shall be held to have acquired a
settlement in any parish in Scotland by residence therein unless such
person shall, either before or after, or partly before and after, the
commencement of this Act, have resided for three years continuously
in such parish, and shall have maintained himself without recourse
to common begging, either by himself or his family, and without
having received or applied for parochial relief; and no person who
shall have acquired a settlement by residence in any such parish,
shall be held to have retained such settlement if during any subse-
quent period of four years he shall not have resided in such parish
continuously for at least one year and a day. Provided always, that
nothing herein contained shall, until the expiration of four years
from the commencement of this Act, be held to affect any persons
who, at the commencement of this Act, are chargeable to any parish
in Scotland." The same Act determines the method of referring
disputed cases to the Local Government Board, and giving the pauper
the right of appeal to this Board when he thinks that he should not
be removed to another parish, to England, or to Ireland.

Law of Settlement. — Right to relief in case of need belongs to
every person born in Scotland, and must be furnished by the parish
of his birth or by the parish in which he has resided for a certain
period. A foreigner may acquire a settlement by residence. The
residence of a child is that of its father. If the father has died or
has deserted his children they have the settlement of the mother.
A child on attaining puberty (i. e., twelve years of age in case of a
girl, and fourteen in case of a boy) acquires a settlement of its own
after five years' residence, if he or she is not living with the father
("forisfamiliated"). An illegitimate pupil child follows the settle-
ment of his mother. A married woman has the settlement of her
husband ; and she is not regarded as a pauper, but her husband who
ought to support her and does not, is the pauper.

Right to Relief Is Universal. — The law of settlement is not in-
tended to prevent or delay the giving of necessary assistance. Any

which parish councils may have to act as allotment managers." J. Edward
Graham, Manual of the Poor Law and Parish Council Acts (1897), p. xvii.


poor person who applies to the inspector of the poor or other proper
officer must be at once aided in a humane way, whether he has a
settlement in the parish or not. The officer is required to secure in-
formation from the dependent person and otherwise in relation to the
parish of settlement, but not for the purpose of postponing relief.
If the inspector of the poor refuse to help, the indigent person can
appeal to the sheriff, who is empowered to order relief if he thinks
it is necessary.

If a pauper, subsequently to the time of receiving relief, comes
into the possession of property, he cannot be compelled by legal pro-
cess to pay back to the parish the amount he had received. It is a
charity, not a debt. Yet this seems to be inconsistent with the prin-
ciple that relatives are obliged to pay to the parish for relief given in
an hour of distress.

Amount of Relief. — ''Needful sustentation" is all that can be
claimed by a pauper. If the poor person believes the amount he is
receiving is not sufficient he can make an appeal to the Board, which
may order an increased appropriation to him, and the Court of Ses-
sion gives final decision, interim aliment being provided pending

Responsibility of Relatives. — The husband is bound to support
his wife, and if she is in want the parish officers may collect from him
by legal process. Even if a wife has abundant means it is not cer-
tain that she can be compelled to pay for aid given her husband.
The nearest relatives (after a husband) legally bound to support a
pauper are his or her descendants ; but the persons thus legally held
must "have a superfluity after providing for the maintenance of
themselves and their own families." In case there are no descend-
ants able to give help the duty falls upon ascendants, — father, mother
and grandparents, in this order.

Desertion of Wives. — The law on this subject goes back to an
Act of 1579, ch. 74, reinforced by the Act of 1845 (Poor Law of
Scotland) and certain other laws and decisions. If a man desert
or neglect to maintain his wife or children, being able to do so, and
they become chargeable to any parish or combination, he is to be
deemed a vagabond, may be prosecuted criminally before the sheriff
of the county at the instance of the inspector of the poor ; and, on
conviction, shall be punished by fine or imprisonment, with or without
hard labor, at the discretion of the sheriff. The same law applies


to every mother and to every putative father of an illegitimate child,
after the paternity has been admitted or otherwise established, if
they refuse or neglect to maintain such child, being able to do so.

Liability of the Parish of Settlement. — The authorities who grant
relief to a dependent person outside of his residence may recover
the sum expended from the parish of settlement, provided that im-
mediate notice is sent to the authorities wdiere the pauper has a

The Loeal Government Board. — By an Act of 1894 (57 & 58
Vict. Ch. 58), which included a previous Act of 1889 (52 & 53 Vict,
c. 50) the constitution of a Local Government Board for Scotland
was provided. It took the place of the former Board of Supervision.
This Board consists of a President, the Solicitor-General for Scot-
land, the Under-Secretary for Scotland, and three appointed mem-
bers. One member must be a legal authority and another a medical
.man of recognized standing. Appointments are made by the crown,
salaries are fixed by the treasury, and office is held during the pleas-
ure of the monarch. If for any reason a parish council fails to act
that Board has power to order an election and regulate afifairs until
the local organization is complete. This Board may regulate the
keeping of parish accounts and appoint an auditor for a parish coun-
cil ; may inquire into the management of the poor in every parish and
burgh, and demand all necessary information from officials and citi-
zens. If a parish council neglect their orders appeal may be made
to the Court of Session. The Board may appoint one of its members
to conduct a special inquiry in any part of Scotland, provide for his
expenses of investigation, and empower him to summon and examine
on oath such witnesses as he may call. The Board may, with the
consent of a representative of the crown, appoint an expert investi-
gator for special inquiries, even though he is not a member of the
Board. The witnesses may be paid necessary expenses. Clerks,
messengers and other assistants may be appointed by the Board.
Members or agents of the body have a right to attend meetings of
any parochial board for the management of the poor, and to take
part in the discussions, but not to vote. The Local Government
Board was also authorized by the Act of 1856 to appoint superin-
tendents over districts and to assign them duties as representatives
of the Board.

* See A. Shaw: Municipal Government in Great Britain, pp. 40, 138, 141, 256.


Parish Councils. — The Local Government Act of 1894 provided
for the estabhshment of a parish council in every parish. This coun-
cil is to consist of a chairman and councillors, the number of coun-
cillors being determined, with the approval of the Board, by the
county council, town council, or burgh commissioners, according to
the situation. The number shall not be fewer than five nor more
than thirty-two. The electors entitled to vote are those who meet
the requirements for the parish council register. All women, under
certain rules, are qualified to be electors.^ This is the organ of local
self-government which has most to do with poor-relief.

Duties of the Inspector of the Poor.^ — He has custody of all books
and writings relating to the poor ; keeps a register of applicants for
poor-relief ; reports to the parish council and Board as to manage-
ment of the poor. The inspector to whom appeal is made is bound
to investigate at once the circumstances of the applicant and furnish
sufficient means of subsistence. The inspector is the agent of the
poor law who comes into direct personal contact with the indigent,
and the efficiency of the entire system turns on his ability to perform
the tasks of this office. The striking contrast with the German
municipal system of appointing numerous unpaid visitors should
be noted.^

While the parish council appoints the inspector the Local Govern-
ment Board may dismiss him from office for failure to perform the
duties of his office; so that the parish council practically will not
appoint an inspector who is not acceptable to the Central Board.
Courts will interfere only when it is found that the Board has acted
without adequate attention or with malice. The inspector must
have a good character and may not engage in any business which
will interfere with the duties of his office.

^The regulations for electors are given in the Local Government (Scotland)
Act of 1894.

^ Rules, Instructions and Recommendation to Parochial authorities, issued
by the Local Government Board for Scotland, Edinburgh, 1897, pp. 1-26.

^ So able a writer as Lamond makes this queer comment on the Elberfeld sys-
tem : "Nor would the Scottish people display their customary caution and
wisdom were they to give up their existing law for any such system as that fol-
lowed at Elberfeld, which has been alluded to as a model one. So far as we
understand, it consists of levying a compulsory assessment and handing it over
to a voluntary irresponsible association to distribute." Scottish Poor Laws, p.
74. Compare our chapter on German charity.


The results of central control in relation to inspectors of the
poor are illustrated in a recent report of the Board of Local Govern-
ment: "We have investigated six allegations of a more or less seri-
ous nature against inspectors of the poor, and we have been under
the necessity of dismissing one inspector as unfit for his office. One
inspector we allowed to retain office on probation ; two inspectors
were allowed to resign ; in one instance we censured the officer con-
cerned, and in the remaining case we had the satisfaction of acquit-
ting the inspector of the charges brought against him." In the same
report disapproval of the Board is expressed in regard to the conduct
of an inspector who had sought to influence the electors to vote
for candidates who were believed to be favorable to his personal

Assessments of Poor Tax. — The Poor Law (Scotland) Act of
1845, sec. 32, gave the parish council (then the parochial board)
permission to assess the people for relief of the poor.^ The mode
of assessment must be approved by the Local Government Board,
and the legal requirement is that one-half shall be assessed on owners
and one-half on tenants or occupants. The parish council fixes
annually the amount of assessment and makes up a roll of ratepayers.

It is lawful for the parish council to exempt a citizen on the
ground of his inability to pay. The Parliamentary and also the local
franchise are lost by receipt of parish relief, by exemption from pay-
ments of poor rate, or by failure to pay poor rate.

Endowed Charities. — Parish councils may, under the Act of 1894,
become managers of property held by parties for the benefit of a
parish. Endowments for ecclesiastical and educational purposes are
not included ; and funds held expressly by church officers for the
poor of the congregation are administered by them and not by the
parish council.

Imperial Grants to Parish Councils. — By the Local Government
(Scotland) Act, 1889 (52 and 53 Vict. ch. 50), sects. 20 and 21, the
Commissioners of Inland Revenue are required to pay over the pro-
ceeds of the duties collected in Scotland on certain local taxation
licenses and also eleven-hundredths of one-half the sums collected
in respect of probate duties in the United Kingdom. These sums

* October, 1895, out of 877 parishes in Scotland, 839 were assessed, and 38
unassessed. In the latter, the heritors assess themselves. Graham, Poor Law
and Parish Council Acts, p. 153.


are distributed among the parish councils in Scotland as a contribu-
tion to the cost of the poor law, medical relief, and trained sick nurs-
ing in poorhouses, and for the maintenance of pauper lunatics. By
the Education and Local Taxation Account (Scotland) Act, 1892
(55 and 56 Vict., ch. 51), other sums are placed under the direction
of the Secretary for Scotland for similar purposes.^

A circular of the Board of Local Government to parish councils^
throws light on the standard of relief of widows with young chil-
dren. It is there stated that orphans are "invariably the objects of
a wise liberality ;" that 3 sh. a week, with clothing, is a very usual
aliment awarded to a boarded-out child, and in some cases a greater
sum is given. The Board urges the parish councils to show a similar
wise generosity to respectable widows with young children. "Unless
such cases are suitably alimented the mother may have to choose
between the sacrifice of her children's welfare on the one hand and
starvation on the other. The mother has probably no alternative
but to seek employment away from home, — a course which necessi-
tates the children being left, to their great disadvantage, under the
chance care of neighbors. The best security which the parish coun-
cil have against the future pauperism of the children would be an
aliment of such an amount as would allow the mother to do her
duty by them."

The objections sometimes urged to the Scottish system have been
summed up by Lamond (p. 75), as stated by the opponents of the
compulsory assessment rule : "that the poor law has augmented the
numbers and increased the expense of paupers ; that it has had very
little effect in mitigating their suffering or improving their condition ;
that it has increased vagrancy, and that the method of assessment
is unfair." He examines these objections and answers them with
many details of argument which throw much light on the actual
results of the system and at the same time show how, in the judg-
ment of many, it may be improved.

Statistics. — The number of persons relieved by public authorities
on May 15, 1902, was 100,848, of whom 86,999 were Ordinary Poor
and 13,849 were Lunatic Poor. Of the Ordinary Poor (86,999)
there were receiving outdoor relief, 76,019 (87.38 per cent.) ; in
poorhouses, 10,865 (12.49 P^^ cent.) ; vagrants, 115 (0.13 per cent.).

* Graham, p. 432.

* Eighth Annual Report, p. 14, dated June 5, 1902.



The Lunatic Poor (13,849) were distributed as follows: in asylums
and institutions for imbeciles, 10,072 (72.73 per cent.) ; in licensed
wards of poorhouses, 1,139 (8.22 per cent.) ; in private dwellings,
2,638 (19.05 per cent.). Of the 100,848 poor persons relieved,
65,387 were paupers (or separate individuals), and 35,461 were their

Classifying the same poor according to age we find that of indi-
viduals relieved, 22,017 (42.72 per cent.) were 65 years of age and
upwards; 4,058 (7.87 per cent.) were orphan and deserted children;
and 25,463 (49.41 per cent.) were between the ages of (say) 14 and
65. Of the 4,058 orphan and deserted children relieved 2,805 were
orphans, and 1,253 were deserted. Five thousand seven hundred and
twenty-one children were boarded out during the year. Of these,
3,617 were orphan and deserted children, and 2,104 children were
separated from their parents. Fully 11 per cent, of the poor relieved
chargeable to Scotland were natives of England and Ireland.

In 1883 the number of poor relieved at the May report was 97,097,
in a population of 3,793,587, or 26 in 1,000. In 1902 the total num-
ber relieved was 100,848 in a population of 4,531,299, or 22 in 1,000.
Compared with 1868, the year of highest recorded pauperism, the
number of poor per thousand of population has fallen from 41 to 22 —
a decrease of 19 per thousand of the population.

But if we separate the Lunatic Poor we discover another tendency.
While since 1868 the Ordinary Poor have decreased from 130,441
to 86,999 (from 40 to 19 per thousand), during the same period the
number of Lunatic Poor has increased from 5,790 to 13,849 (from
1.8 to 3.1 per thousand) ; the ratio of Lunatic Poor to the Poor of
all classes has more than trebled since 1868, having risen from 42 to
137 per thousand.

It must be remembered that the numbers in receipt of relief on a
given day do not yield the total number relieved during the year.
Different authorities use different multipliers. Thus Mr. Joseph
Chamberlain used 3>^, Mr. Charles Booth 2 1-3, Mr. Lamond 2^.
This made in 1892 the total number of persons relieved in Scotland
92,824 X 2^, equals 255,266.^

The revenue of the parish councils for the year ended 15th May,
1902, amounted to £1,238,975 ; of which the rates furnished £902,258
(72.82 per cent.) ; Local Taxation Contributions, and Treasury

* Lamond, The Scottish Poor Laws, p. 292,


Grants, £2/^4,071 (19.70 per cent.); relatives, contributions, etc.,
£92,646 (7.48 per cent.).

The assessment in 1893 was £750,696, the rate being 7>^d. per
£ of gross valuation in assessed parishes. In 1902 the assessment
was £902,258, the rate being the same. The ratio per head of popu-
lation at those dates were 3s. 7^d. and 3s. ii^d,
D. Ecclesiastical

Church Collections. — The ordinary church collections are admin-
istered at the discretion of the Kirk-session, and may be partly de-
voted to aiding able-bodied persons who are out of employment, a
class of dependents excluded from legal relief. But the Kirk-
session must send an annual report to the Local Government Board
as to the applications of the moneys arising from church collections,
and the clerk may be fined for refusing to make such report.^ The
parish council cannot control such funds.

Women in Church Charities. — Pastor Fliedner, whose influence
on the German Inner Mission was so great, visited Dr. Thomas Chal-
mers in Edinburgh in 1846. There was then a discussion about
establishing institutions for deaconesses similar to those of Germany,
but the church was not yet ripe for it. But in 1886 the General

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 26 of 73)