Poor Law deputation

21 July 2010

The Church Times. July 22nd, 1910.

IN RECEIVING, on Wednesday, a weighty deputation from both Houses of the Convocation of Canterbury, which waited upon him to urge the pressing need of a large and comprehensive measure of Poor Law reform, the Prime Minister gave a handsome and ungrudging testimony to the devotion of the clergy in labouring to elevate the condition of the poor, and welcomed their experienced advice upon the best methods of giving effect to those not inconsid­erable portions of the Report of the recent Royal Commission upon which both the majority and the minority were agreed. The question had been raised in the Upper House of Convocation, whether a body which, in its Synodical aspect, is far older than Parliament, would not be establishing an undignified and unconstitutional precedent by addressing itself to the Prime Minister, and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that Convoca­tion ought not to petition Parli­ament itself, but he considered that a different rule applied in the case of the First Minister of the Sovereign. Mr Asquith received the deputation with great respect and courtesy, and it is certainly for the Church to lead the nation in this urgent matter of Poor Law reform. The Prime Minister made the re­mark that social amelioration is the duty most directly incumbent on a modern Administration and a modern Legislature. Liberalism has, in the past, too often made the mistake of supposing that the demo­cratisation of constitutional machinery was the way to bring about the improvement of the lot of the dim multitudes.

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