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off and one more word that is about work I got to work harder than I did
in london for 12 Shillings a week and my wife work twice as hard for five
a sixpence a week and their is no rest at all and when we want water we
got to get it out a stream up to your knees in mud and water and when
you go to get food it takes two or three hours and it is very nice roads to
travel and climb I have to go with my wife shoping in case she looses her
way through the woods, a take a light my wife says that if there was a
shop she would sell her home off and go strait into the workhouse in
london rather than she stay here.


came running down the street as sheep will, whereon he
skipped nimbly into a doorway, saying, ' Lor' ! them be very
spirited animals.' 1 After that he was brought back to town.

Now, I would like to ask you, what can be the use of
such a man in the country ? Here I have in my hand a
letter which has just been forwarded to me from the Secretary
of your own Islington Committee, in which he says he thought
I might like to have some particular instances of their experi-
ments in this direction. He says that he sent a man down
to Wiltshire as a labourer. This man was willing and anxious
to go, and he had won some experience of farm work as a boy.
He was turned off after a fortnight because he was not suc-
cessful in his milking, and the farmer who employed him
said that he would not keep him because * he could not have
his cows spoilt in order to allow him to learn.' Personally
I am a farmer, and I sympathise with that other farmer,
knowing as I do that cows are very likely to be damaged by
unskilful milking. Another man was sent, apparently to a
good situation as a gardener, where he got 15s. a week and a
cottage and garden by no means bad wages but he came
back to London because he said that the wages were not
good enough, and because his children had to walk five miles
to school, two and a half miles out and two and a half home,
and he wanted to get back to town and, I suppose, call upon
your Secretary.

I quote these cases simply for this reason, that I wish
to point out it is absolutely futile to send unfit persons
down to the country, thinking they are going to under-
take the hard work of an agricultural labourer. Every-
body talks of the farm hand as though he was a fool, but he
is nothing of the sort. He is an uncommonly clever fellow,
and if we all were set to work to do what he does in a day we
should be very much of that opinion at the end of it. You
cannot take any person off the streets and send him to do
these tasks. In the first place, he hates them ; and, in the
second, he is unfit for them ; and if he does get to the end of


his day at all, he has done nothing as an agricultural labourer
would do it, who is a highly trained person in his own fashion.
Therefore I point out to you that it is folly to take wastrels
from the street and to send them down to the country to
become labourers.

But how about the young ? I think there is something
to be done with them, provided you send them young enough ;
but it is no good to attempt it after they are sixteen.

The next question is whether any system can be adopted
to make the young men competent for agricultural work ; and
whether any farm colonies or other similar schemes are of
real utility in this direction ; and whether teaching in regard
to agriculture, such as that adopted, it is stated with success,
both in Denmark and Italy, and I believe also in France,
would be of service ? Now, my answers to those questions
are these. Certainly such a system for making lads com-
petent for agricultural work could be adopted ; but that,
again, would involve the establishment of rural training-
schools, which are expensive things and would require to be
very carefully managed by people who understand the whole
matter thoroughly. Again, this is a question of funds ; and
not only of funds, but of their steady and systematic appli-
cation. Mere casual and spasmodic attempts would be of no
use ; things would have to be done upon a thorough system,
and to make it succeed those who do them would have to be
prepared to keep up their efforts for a number of years.

Now, in the phrase of the cookery-book, if I may say so I
dare say it has occurred to you already, but I will suggest it to
you there is ' another ' and, in my opinion, * a better way.' If
you can get quite young people, instead of going to the cost of ex-
pensive training-colleges, if you can board them out with selected
cottagers in selected villages, where they would begin to work
at the right end, I think that would probably be more effective
than any scheme of agricultural establishments in the country
and a great deal less expensive. This is merely an idea that
has struck me. It may have been put into practice for aught


I know, but while I was thinking over these things last night
it occurred to me for the first time. Say you take 1,000 lads
(and they must be young) and put them with respectable
people board them out and pay for their living at first until
they learn something you might then, at any rate, get a
proportion of good results.

The next question, however, is really the crux of the whole
matter, * whether any system of purchasing land for division
into smaller properties which would be of service on a more
intensive system of cultivation has been applied in England,
and is likely to prove useful? Possibly some syndicate or
company has undertaken the purchase and re-sale of land in
some counties on these lines.'

I am of opinion that most certainly it would be most
likely to prove of service. I am of opinion that most
certainly it is the best thing or one of the best things
that can be done in this country, and it would be indeed
a true charity, and, more than a charity, it would be an
enormous benefit to the nation. But here again we are
faced with the fact that very large capital and very good
management would be required. Another thing is, such
experiments must be run upon economic principles; you
could do nothing without them ; but I hope to say a little
more on that presently. You asked me first whether any
syndicate or company has undertaken the purchase and
re-sale of land in some counties of this island. Yes, they
have, and I will give you an instance or two. At Winterborne,
in Dorsetshire, Sir Eobert Edgcumbe purchased the Eew
farm of about 400 acres and sold it out in small holdings, and
he was good enough to give me an elaborate report upon the
subsequent history of that farm. The results are most
encouraging. All the land has been taken up and nearly all
the purchase money has been, or is in course of being, paid
off. It is a real pleasure to read that most satisfactory
report, which, if you care to do so, you can study in my book,
' Kural England.'


That is one case. Then there is the experiment of
Major Poore, who has done much the same thing, but under
a different system, in Hampshire, and that at an unpromising
place, with a very poor water-supply and poor land. Nine or
ten years ago he purchased that land at Winterslow and sold
it again in lots, and the results are surprising. The popula-
tion has gone up in Winterslow, while in all the neighbouring
villages it has gone down. On this uncompromising spot I
found springing up everywhere most excellent houses, and
these small holders have been enabled to borrow some 5,000
or 6,000 in order to build these houses. They are living
there and putting up dwellings there that no labourer would
ever hope or believe that he would have a chance of living in.
All these things have happened here because these men have
had the opportunity of buying their plots of land under a
system of instalments. Now, I ask you why, if that has
happened there, it cannot happen pretty well all over
England ? I will give you another example : the Worcester-
shire County Council (which is a more enterprising County
Council, perhaps, than any other I know of in England)
purchased at Catshill certain land, which I visited, and which
it has let out to small holders. These small holders used
to be people called nailers that is to say, they manufactured
nails by hand, but machinery came in and killed their trade,
and they were left at a very low ebb. I went over these
holdings and I saw these men working away, everyone of
them happy, every one of them contented and doing well,
and many of them had built good houses on their plots.
Then comes Norfolk ; there are some small holdings there,
and the men who have been there for a year or two, as far
as I could discover (and I spoke to several of them), are
doing fairly well. I might give you other examples, but I
have no time left to do so.

As I said before, the great thing is to deal with the
children, because, as regards the grown-up people, it is simply
a waste of money to send to the country those who are


unfitted for agricultural work. I sympathise with your
wish to send them there, also I know the extraordinary
efforts that will have to be made in handling these young
children ; but, on the other hand, you cannot expect a grown-
up townsman to do good work in the country a man who
has been wandering about the streets for a number of years.
I do hope that so far as in you lies you will as much as
possible in the future try and keep the country people in the
country and not let them rush hither to swell the number of
your London poor. We ought to direct our efforts rather to
prevention than to cure that is to say, to keep the country
people from coming to the cities ; we ought to try to induce
those people who are in the country to remain there. Gentle-
men, there was one man who took an earnest interest in this
question, and who did his best to interest his colleagues
therein and who spared himself no labour in order to acquaint
himself with all these problems. I allude to the late Mr.
Hanbury ; but unfortunately by the decree of Providence he
has been suddenly removed from us, which is one of those
misfortunes that seem to pursue British agriculture with so
swift and sure a foot. Before his death he asked me to work
with him towards these ends, and I was in hopes that he
would be able to do something in the directions I have
alluded to to-day, but he has gone, and now the whole thing
has to be begun afresh. You are people of authority ; you
have many connections, and I do hope you will do your best
to bring these questions forward, and that you will especially
try to bring forward this problem of the number of people
from the country who are seeking employment in the cities,
with the view of the discovery and application of remedies.
I have no more to say, or rather no time to say more, except
to express the hope that I have dwelt, not adequately it is
true, but to some extent usefully upon these matters, which
you have been so good as to submit for my consideration.

H. E. H.



VARIOUS conditions have been laid down from time to time by
those who have advocated relief works as a means for meeting
distress caused by want of employment. The following are
some of the principles on which most stress has been laid ; it
will be seen that they are not always compatible with each
other :

1. The work must be really useful, or it will degrade the

2. It must be of such a nature that all can do it.

3. Good value must be given by the workers.

4. Less than the market wage must be paid, for fear of
attracting the worker from his proper work.

5. The wage paid must be the market (or union) wage, or
the industrial worker will be undersold.

6. The work must be a step towards the permanent
assistance of the worker, and not merely a temporary job
needed to be repeated each year.

7. The work must not be such as would otherwise be
undertaken by private enterprise.

The following experiments illustrate the difficulty of
fulfilling any, still less all, of these conditions :


In the Mansion House Conference, 1887-8, it was decided
that it was desirable to organise a scheme for the employ-
ment of the unemployed which should avoid the objections


commonly made to relief works in general. The conditions
were that labourers should be employed as far as possible on
the same terms on which they would be engaged in the open
market. No work should be undertaken which was not useful
and desirable for its own sake. The work must not be a mere
temporary job, but must be connected with and lead up to
other remedies of a permanent character. An opportunity
for carrying out the scheme was afforded by the Metropolitan
Gardens Association, which for two previous winters had
given work to the unemployed, paying them partly out of
its own funds, partly from grants made from the Mansion
House Fund of 1886. The men had been paid at the rate of
4d. an hour and a 4d. meal, being slightly above the market
rate, and it was estimated that the work cost four times what
it would have cost if done by contract (Eeport on Excep-
tional Distress). Lord Meath now offered to employ 1,800
men at a total cost of 20,000 ; and the Lord Mayor
accordingly appealed in the Times for that sum. Only 5,303
was subscribed, and tickets for work were given to 456

In order that the scheme might be made of permanent
benefit to those employed, a Eeference Sub-Committee was
appointed to investigate the case of each man, and consider
how he might be helped ' so that when next winter comes he
may not again be found in the ranks of the unemployed.'
This Committee, reporting in the following summer as to the
results of the scheme, states that of the 456, 62 did not
present themselves for work ; 134 were dismissed for mis-
conduct or incapacity or continued absence ; 164 the Com-
mittee were unable to raise from their present position ; 17
left for better employment ; 26 were emigrated, and 53 were
assisted in other ways. The Committee, in deploring the
result of the scheme, point out that hardly any of the men
belonged to a Trade or Friendly Society, though many earned
a fairly high wage for most of the year ; also that many, even
of those willing to work, were undisciplined and with no


capacity for continued exertion. Miss Octavia Hill, speaking
afterwards of the same scheme, said that the work fell into
the hands of the loafers and did no good, whereas a con-
tractor would have brought in honest, industrious men.


In 1892 another Mansion House Conference initiated a
similar scheme of relief works, confined to the special class of
displaced casual dock labourers, with a view to their permanent
reinstatement in industrial life. The work was for a fort-
night only, and was intended as a test ; it consisted chiefly
in digging, the London County Council having provided land
for the purpose on their Abbey Mills estate at Stratford. It
was said that of the casual dock labourers referred to there
were between 6,000 and 7,000 ; of these, between 700 and 800
applied for the work, and all but 865 were rejected as un-
suitable. Of these 365, it was found possible to help with a
view to permanent improvement only 86, and an inquiry
some months after showed that of these again, only 40 had
been really helped, i.e. raised out of the casual labour class
by emigration or otherwise. The cost of the experiment was
1,315, of which 732 was spent on the test work. It was
thought by one of the Hon. Secretaries to the Committee that
better results could have been attained by spending the whole
of the money on assisting cases selected by careful inquiry,
and without the intervention of relief works.

Nevertheless, it was decided to resume the work in 1894
under slightly different conditions. The limitation to dock
labourers was removed, and it was open to anyone in the
Tower Hamlets to apply. Those who did apply were 414 in
number, of whom only 141 were accepted. Of these, the
proportion permanently assisted after the work was still
smaller than in the previous year. (Evidence before Select
Committee, 1895. 11,262.)

In 1895 the scheme was open to the whole metropolis,
but of those who applied only 85 were accepted. The work



was continued for three months i.e. was no longer merely
test work ; the total cost was 780 ; and it was suggested
that about half were permanently benefited, but there was no
subsequent inquiry to ascertain this.


In 1893-4 experiments were made in West Ham and
Poplar : 1,000 being raised by public subscription, and
another 1,000 being given by the municipal authorities in
each case. The West Ham Committee instituted relief works
on Wanstead Flats (levelling the ground), where men were to
be employed for four days a week for six hours a day at 6d.
an hour. ' The amount of pay being small, and the amount
of time being small, it is expected that we shall not draw from
the ordinary channels of industry working men able to get
better employment in their own trade ' ... It was also hoped
to avoid other evils of relief works by getting good value for
the wages paid. ' Directly you get no value for money paid
everyone admits you are doing harm, but if you get full value
for your money upon the works, actual value to the neigh-
bourhood, then it seems to me you are doing an unmixed
good, and you are helping people at the time when they want
it, in the most honest way.'

After the first year's experience Mr. Hills, who was prac-
tically conducting the experiment, expressed his dissatisfaction
with the result on the ground that at West Ham the work had
cost about 50 per cent, more than if it had been carried out
under ordinary conditions. In Poplar, where the work had
been of various kinds within the district, it had cost 100 per
cent, more; and he came to the conclusion that the only
remedy was to piece the work.

Accordingly the work at Wanstead was resumed in 1894-5
on the basis of a minimum wage of 4d. an hour, the work to
be measured and priced, and any surplus to be divided amongst
those who had earned it. The Town Council, under intimida-
tion, refused to co-operate on this basis, on the ground that it


was not a union wage ; and the experiment was entered upon
without their assistance. The success was even less than the
preceding year, as many of the men were found to earn less than
Id. an hour. Mr. Hills maintained that their idleness was part
of a deliberate attempt to break down the scheme, and Mr.
Keir Hardie suggested that the men would have done full
work if they had been paid Qd. an hour (Select Committee,
1895). It was found necessary to suspend the work for three
weeks during the severe frost.


As illustrative of the attempts to reinstate the permanently
unemployed in industrial life we may note some experiences
in connection with the Salvation Army farm colony in Essex.
Fourteen men were sent here in connection with the West
Ham Eelief Fund : half of these returned to the Fund ; the
other half were thought to have found work in the country,
but their subsequent history was not traced (Select Committee,
1895, p. 134),

' The experiment of the Camberwell Guardians in sending
inmates of the workhouse to the Salvation Army farm at
Hadleigh turned out a failure. 110 were sent. At the end of
" the experimental period " only 34 were at work, and half of
these had been there only for a month or two. What success
might be achieved in regard to the 34 was unknown. Of the
76, all except 15 returned to the workhouse ; of the 15, three
obtained work, and the rest are probably in other work-
houses.' (0.0. Beview, January 1896.)

Undeterred by this failure other Boards tried the same
experiment, and in 1898 we have the following report from
the Local Government Board Inspector : * The experiment,'
he writes, * has, so far, not proved very successful, as of the
paupers so dealt with 90 per cent, have sooner or later
returned to the more congenial haven of the workhouses still
incorrigible and unredeemed. Of the remaining 10 per cent.,

o 2


the Salvation Army Authorities have, so far as I am aware,
nothing in the nature of a complete record.'

Somewhat better results are achieved on Mr. Walter
Hazell's farm. He takes only a few men at a time about
eight and does not pretend to achieve great things ; never-
theless he can show a certain amount of assured success.


In 1893 Millbank Prison was being demolished, and it
was decided to reserve one pentagon to be demolished by the
unemployed, the works being opened in the midst of the
Tower Hill demonstration, when there was a cry of scarcity
qf work at the docks. It is not stated how many men were
employed, but a census being taken of the occupations of 120
of them showed that only one was a docker. They were paid
at the rate of Q^d. about half the regular wage in the trade ;
nevertheless their work cost about twice as much as when
done by contract. When a change was made to piece-work
nearly twice as much was done.

In Glasgow in 1895 a large number of men were em-
ployed at stone-breaking, receiving Is. a day and their meals
On March 2, 1,465 men were working under these condi-
tions ; on the 4th piece-work was introduced, and the number
fell to 621. The Lord Provost, giving evidence before the
Select Committee, urges strongly that after the first week all
men should be put on piece-work, adding : ' Daring my term
of office we have had two occasions on which we have had
relief works, and the instant we applied piece-work the men
melted away like snow.'


The winter of 1895 is memorable in London for some-
thing very like a panic amongst local authorities with
reference to the unemployed. In several districts, notably
Poplar, they yielded to intimidation. At Poplar both the
District Board and the Board of Guardians gave employment


relief namely, in the stone-yards. The Guardians spent on
the yards 2,877; an analysis of the first 1,100 spent
showed that only 342 of it had reached the men as relief.
The demand for the work was very great, it was found impos-
sible to discriminate, and the amount of work was limited
to two days in the week. The payment was not wages, but
relief, 2s. 6d. a day for single men, 3s. 6d. for married men
and additional for their families. The work was continued
until March 30.

In St. Olave's the labour yard was opened on January 7.
Men were employed at first two days, afterwards one day a
week, with 3s. 6d. a day relief; men with families propor-
tionately longer. Every ton of stone broken cost the union
7 (the contract price of broken granite was quoted in Ken-
sington in 1893 as 12s. 4d. a ton), and 17,000 was spent.
The Chairman of the Board stated : * You could not get the
men to do anything the class of men who were there. I
know some who would have honestly endeavoured to do the
work, but they were terrorised.'

In St. Pancras great pressure was put on the Guardians
to open the labour yard. It was opened for a week; 250
men were employed for three days a week at 6d. an hour in
a seven hours' day. At the end of the first week it was found
that over 100 had been paid them for work valued at 12.
The men were ' old stagers and steady relief-seekers,' and
after a second week the yard was summarily closed.

In Camberwell hundreds of able-bodied unemployed be-
sieged the Vestry, which opened a register of names and
addresses of men to be set to work on the roads. Postcards,
sometimes as many as 800 or 1,000 a day, were sent to the
men in rotation. No inquiry was made as to the correctness
of the addresses or other points. Consequently, it is said,
many gave false names and different addresses, and these
would obtain three or four days' work, while the honest men
had not enough to be of use.



In conclusion we may note the experience of New South
Wales in dealing with the unemployed. There is in force
there a very elaborate system by which any man may register
himself as unemployed, and is classified according to his
trade or calling. To every man thus registered work is
offered in rotation. In June, 1902, 13,076 were on the
books, and 305 were set to work. In their Eeport for the

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Online LibraryUnknownMethods of social advance; short studies in social practice by various authors → online text (page 7 of 16)