connexion with their families, and, where necessary, day schools established on the lines of day industrial schools.
At a time of exceptional distress the following suggestions founded on much English experience may be of service (cf. Report of special committee of the Charity Organization Society on the best means of dealing with exceptional Exceptional distress.distress, 1886). Usually at such a time proposals are made to establish special funds, and to provide employment to men and women out of work. But it is best, if possible and as long as possible, to rely on existing agencies, and to strengthen them. Round them there are usually workers more or less trained. A new fund usually draws to it new people, many of whom may not have had any special experience at all. If a new fund is inevitable, it is best that it should make its grants to existing agencies after consultation with them. In any case, a clear policy should be adopted, and people should keep their heads. The exaggeration of feeling at a time of apprehended or actual distress is sometimes extraordinary, and the unwise action which it prompts is often a cause of continuing pauperism afterwards. Where there is public or poor-law relief the following plan may be adopted:—In any large town there are usually different recognized poor-law, charitable or other areas. The local people already at work in these areas should be formed into local committees. In each case a quick inquiry should be made, and the relieving officer communicated with, some central facts verified, and the home visited. Roughly, cases may be divided into three classes: the irresponsible casual labouring class, a middle class of men with decent homes, who have made no provision for the future, and are not members of either friendly society or trades union; and a third class, who have made some provision. These usually are affected last of all; at all hazards they should be kept from receiving public relief, and should be helped, as far as possible, privately and personally. If there are public works, the second class might be referred to them; if there are not, probably some should be left to the poor-law, some assisted in the same way as members of class three. Much would turn upon the family and the home. The first class should be left to the poor-law. If there is no poor-law system at work they should be put on public works. Working men of independent position, not the creatures of any political club, but such as are respected members of a friendly society, or are otherwise well qualified for the task, should be called into consultation. The relief should be settled according to the requirements of each case, but if the pressure is great, at first at least it may be necessary to make grants according to some generally sufficient scale. There should be as constant a revision of cases as time permits. Great care should be taken to stop the relief as soon as possible, and to do nothing to make it the stepping-stone to permanent dependence.
If employment be provided it should be work within the skill of all; it should be fairly remunerated, so that at least the scantiness of the pay may not be an excuse for neglect; and it should be paid for according to measured or piece work. The discipline should be strict, though due regard should be paid at first to those unaccustomed to digging or earthwork. In England and Wales the guardians have power to open labour yards. These, like charities which provide work, tend to attract and keep in employment a low class of labourer or workman, who finds it pays him to use the institution as a convenience. It is best, therefore, to avoid the opening of a labour yard if possible. If it is opened, the discipline should be very strict, and when there is laziness or insubordination, relief in the workhouse should at once be offered. The relief furnished to men employed in a labour yard, of which in England at least half has to be given ih kind, should, it has been said, be dealt out from day to day. This leads to the men giving up the work sooner than they otherwise would. They have less to spend.
In Great Britain a great change has taken place in regard to the provision of employment in connexion with the state. Since about 1890 there has been a feeling that men in distress from want of employment should not be dealt Unem-
ployment.with by the poor-law. A circular letter issued by the Local Government Board in 1886, and subsequently in 1895, coincided with this feeling. It was addressed to town councils and other local authorities, asking them to provide work (1) which will not involve the stigma of pauperism, (2) which all can perform whatever may have been their previous avocations, and (3) which does not compete with that of other labourers at present in employment. This circular led to the vestries and subsequently the borough councils in many districts becoming partially recognized relief authorities for the unemployed, concurrently with the poor-law. Much confusion resulted. The local authorities had seldom any suitable organization for the investigation of applications. It was difficult to supply work on the terms required; and the work was often ill-done and costly. Also it was found that the same set of people would apply year after year, unskilled labourers usually out of work part of the winter, or men habitually “unemployed.” As on other occasions when public work was provided, very few of the applicants were found to be artisans, or members of trades unions or of friendly societies. In 1904 Mr Long, then president of the Local Government Board, proposed that local voluntary distress committees should be established in London consisting of poor-law guardians and town councillors and others, more or less supervised by a central committee and ultimately by the Local Government Board. This organization was set on foot and large sums were subscribed for its work. The report on the results of the movement was somewhat doubtful (Report, London Unemployed Fund, 1904–1905, p. 101, &c.), but in 1905 the Unemployed Workmen’s Act was passed, and in London and elsewhere distress committees like the voluntary committees of the previous year were established by statute. It was enacted that for establishment expenses, emigration and removal, labour exchanges, and the acquisition of land a halfpenny rate might be levied, but that the rate would not be available for the remuneration of men employed. For this purpose (1905–1906) a large charitable fund was raised. A training farm at Hollesley Bay was acquired, and it was hoped to train Londoners there to become fit for agricultural work. It is impossible to judge this experiment properly, on the evidence available up to 1908. But one or two points are important: (1) something very like the “right to labour” has been granted by the legislature; (2) this has been done apart from the conditions required by the poor-laws and orders of the Local Government Board on poor relief and without imposing disfranchisement on the men employed; (3) a labour rate has not been levied, but a rate has been levied in aid of the provision of employment; (4) if the line of development that the act suggests were to be followed (as the renewed Labour agitation in 1908–1909 made probable) it must tend to create a class of “unemployed,” unskilled labourers of varying grades of industry who may become the dependent and state-supported proletariat of modern urban life. Thus, unless the administration be extremely rigorous, once more will a kind of serfdom be established, to be, as some would say, taken over hereafter by the socialist state.
In some of the English colonies Homeric hospitality still prevails, but by degrees the station-house or some refuge is established in the towns as they grow more populous. Finally, some system of labour in exchange for relief Vagrancy.is evolved. At first this is voluntary, afterwards it is officially recognized, and finally it may become part of the system of public relief. As bad years come, these changes are made step by step. In England the vagrant or wayfarer is tolerated and discouraged, but not kept employed. He should be under greater pressure to maintain himself, it is thought. The provision made for him in different parts of the country is far from uniform, and now, usually, at least in the larger towns, after he has had a bath and food, he is admitted to a separate room or cell in a casual ward. Before he leaves he has to do a task of work, and, subject to the discretion of the master, he is detained two nights. This plan has reduced vagrancy, and if it were universally adopted clean accommodation would everywhere be provided for the vagrant without the attractions of a common or “associated” ward; and probably vagrancy would diminish still further. It seems almost needless to say that, in these circumstances at any