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Defectives in United Kingdom

Defectives and the Poor Law Commissioners

In this issue about defectives, the book “English Poor Law Policy” [1] reads as follows: We must note the beginning of a new class, only just mentioned in the Report and Act of 1834, viz. that of the physically defective, at first only those who were blind, or deaf and dumb. The Act of 1834 had implicitly sanctioned the grant of outdoor relief to such of these defective persons as were either wives or children, by regarding such relief as not made to the husbands or fathers, even if these were able-bodied and in employment. Within the period 1834-47 we find no hint of a new policy. The Central Authority issues no Order dealing with the suggestion, made in the Report of 1834, of institutional treatment for the blind. In 1842, however, the local authorities are incidentally reminded that they have power to send the blind or deaf and dumb to such voluntary institutions as existed for them even if they were outside the union. Beyond this there is no suggestion of policy, either for the blind or for the deaf and dumb, except as regards apprenticeship. The deaf and dumb did not need to be taught to read and write before being eligible for apprenticeship. Premiums were admitted to be necessary in binding as apprentices lame or blind children; and might be given even for children over fourteen or even over sixteen, if they were unfitted for the trade by permanent bodily infirmity.

Defectives and the Poor Law Board

In this issue about defectives, the book “English Poor Law Policy” [1] reads as follows: During this period, the blind, the deaf and dumb, and the lame and deformed were increasingly recognised by Parliament as classes for whom the Poor Law authorities might, if they chose, provide expensive treatment. This was done by authorising boards of guardians, if they chose, to pay for their maintenance, whether children or adults, in special institutions. We do not find that the Central Authority suggested the adoption of this or any other policy or gave any lead to the boards of guardians with regard to these cases.

Defectives and the Local Government Board

In this issue about defectives, the book “English Poor Law Policy” [1] reads as follows: For the first twenty years after 1871 there is no alteration of policy to record with regard to defectives. In fact, the Central Authority does not seem to have paid much attention to this class, whether mentally or physically defective, during this period. It enjoined no policy for the treatment of them till 1891. A Circular on “Blind and Deaf and Dumb inmates of Workhouses” then required the inspectors to “continue to give special attention” to children among this class, and urge their removal from the workhouse when desirable. It was held that the guardians might, if they chose, pay the whole of the maintenance of deaf and dumb children sent to appropriate institutions. No limit has been fixed, but in no case has more than ?20 a year been sanctioned. Adults also were to be given instruction in reading and writing, if able to profit thereby, and if such instruction could not be provided in the union, they might be sent, under contract, to the workhouse of some other union where teaching might be available, either in the workhouse or in the town. It is also suggested that arrangements might with advantage be made for reading aloud to the aged blind in the workhouse. But it was held to be illegal to pay for the technical instruction of blind workhouse inmates at a non-Poor-Law institution. From 1903 onward, however, we have the almost dramatic extension of the scope of the Education Authority with regard to defective children of all kinds-a change which has already gone far to transfer responsibility for the treatment of the blind, the deaf and dumb, the crippled, the epileptic, and the mentally defective children up to sixteen from the Poor Law to the Education Authorities. The first step was the Act of 1893, which required the local Education Authority to provide education for blind and deaf children; but children sent to any institution from the workhouse, or boarded out by the guardians, were expressly excluded. In 1899 similar provision was made for defective and epileptic children; and the guardians were authorised to arrange with the Education Authority to take over Poor Law cases on payment. Under these Acts provision is more and more being made, especially in London, for the education, treatment, and even (where requisite) maintenance in educational institutions of these children up to sixteen.

In 1903 a Special Order provided for the transfer, from the Metropolitan workhouses to the special homes of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, of children who, without being certified as of unsound mind, were mentally defective; and for their retention in such homes until twenty-one years of age. We do not find any corresponding provision with regard to the mentally defective children outside the Metropolis; or for the mentally defectives beyond sixteen years of age. In the rural workhouses, at any rate, which make up three-fourths of the whole, it would seem that in 1907, as it was officially reported in 1879, these mentally defectives, together with “the imbeciles, are more or less mixed up with the ordinary inmates of the class to which they belong.”

In recent years we see the Central Authority willingly sanctioning special provision for individual cases. Thus, special assistance may be given for starting in trade persons handicapped by their infirmities. In one case, the Board sanctioned the purchase of tools for a blind man who had been taught a trade. In another case, “an adult having become incapacitated by reason of accident from again following his usual occupation, the guardians were desirous of paying a premium in consideration of his being taught a trade which the nature of his infirmity would not prevent his carrying on. On the proposal being submitted to the Local Government Board, the Board observed that as the person was too old to be bound as an apprentice, there was no authority for the payment of the premium, but they suggested whether the difficulty might not be overcome by out-relief being granted during the period of learning.”

A third instance is given as follows: “A boy, aged sixteen years, has been a pupil at an institution for the blind, the fees for his board and education having hitherto been paid by the said board under the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893. The boy is desirous of competing for a scholarship of the value of ?40 a year from the Institution for the Blind in London; total fees, ?60 a year. The guardians wish to contribute ?13 a year, the father, who earns on an average ?2:2s. a week, being willing to pay the balance of ?7, in addition to travelling expenses and outfit. The Board hold that the guardians can, assuming the boy is in need of relief, carry out their proposal under 30 and 31 Vic. c. 106, sec. 21.” An interesting feature of this case is the vagueness of the term “in need of relief,” instead of “destitution.”

Resources

Notes and References

  1. Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb, “English Poor Law Policy” (1913), Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay and Calcuta.

See Also

Resources

Notes and References

  1. Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb, “English Poor Law Policy” (1913), Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay and Calcuta.

See Also

Defectives and the Local Government Board

In this issue about defectives, the book “English Poor Law Policy” [1] reads as follows: For the first twenty years after 1871 there is no alteration of policy to record with regard to defectives. In fact, the Central Authority does not seem to have paid much attention to this class, whether mentally or physically defective, during this period. It enjoined no policy for the treatment of them till 1891. A Circular on “Blind and Deaf and Dumb inmates of Workhouses” then required the inspectors to “continue to give special attention” to children among this class, and urge their removal from the workhouse when desirable. It was held that the guardians might, if they chose, pay the whole of the maintenance of deaf and dumb children sent to appropriate institutions. No limit has been fixed, but in no case has more than ?20 a year been sanctioned. Adults also were to be given instruction in reading and writing, if able to profit thereby, and if such instruction could not be provided in the union, they might be sent, under contract, to the workhouse of some other union where teaching might be available, either in the workhouse or in the town. It is also suggested that arrangements might with advantage be made for reading aloud to the aged blind in the workhouse. But it was held to be illegal to pay for the technical instruction of blind workhouse inmates at a non-Poor-Law institution. From 1903 onward, however, we have the almost dramatic extension of the scope of the Education Authority with regard to defective children of all kinds-a change which has already gone far to transfer responsibility for the treatment of the blind, the deaf and dumb, the crippled, the epileptic, and the mentally defective children up to sixteen from the Poor Law to the Education Authorities. The first step was the Act of 1893, which required the local Education Authority to provide education for blind and deaf children; but children sent to any institution from the workhouse, or boarded out by the guardians, were expressly excluded. In 1899 similar provision was made for defective and epileptic children; and the guardians were authorised to arrange with the Education Authority to take over Poor Law cases on payment. Under these Acts provision is more and more being made, especially in London, for the education, treatment, and even (where requisite) maintenance in educational institutions of these children up to sixteen.

In 1903 a Special Order provided for the transfer, from the Metropolitan workhouses to the special homes of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, of children who, without being certified as of unsound mind, were mentally defective; and for their retention in such homes until twenty-one years of age. We do not find any corresponding provision with regard to the mentally defective children outside the Metropolis; or for the mentally defectives beyond sixteen years of age. In the rural workhouses, at any rate, which make up three-fourths of the whole, it would seem that in 1907, as it was officially reported in 1879, these mentally defectives, together with “the imbeciles, are more or less mixed up with the ordinary inmates of the class to which they belong.”

In recent years we see the Central Authority willingly sanctioning special provision for individual cases. Thus, special assistance may be given for starting in trade persons handicapped by their infirmities. In one case, the Board sanctioned the purchase of tools for a blind man who had been taught a trade. In another case, “an adult having become incapacitated by reason of accident from again following his usual occupation, the guardians were desirous of paying a premium in consideration of his being taught a trade which the nature of his infirmity would not prevent his carrying on. On the proposal being submitted to the Local Government Board, the Board observed that as the person was too old to be bound as an apprentice, there was no authority for the payment of the premium, but they suggested whether the difficulty might not be overcome by out-relief being granted during the period of learning.”

A third instance is given as follows: “A boy, aged sixteen years, has been a pupil at an institution for the blind, the fees for his board and education having hitherto been paid by the said board under the Elementary Education (Blind and Deaf Children) Act 1893. The boy is desirous of competing for a scholarship of the value of ?40 a year from the Institution for the Blind in London; total fees, ?60 a year. The guardians wish to contribute ?13 a year, the father, who earns on an average ?2:2s. a week, being willing to pay the balance of ?7, in addition to travelling expenses and outfit. The Board hold that the guardians can, assuming the boy is in need of relief, carry out their proposal under 30 and 31 Vic. c. 106, sec. 21.” An interesting feature of this case is the vagueness of the term “in need of relief,” instead of “destitution.”

Resources

Notes and References

  1. Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb, “English Poor Law Policy” (1913), Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay and Calcuta.

See Also

Resources

Notes and References

  1. Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb, “English Poor Law Policy” (1913), Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York, Bombay and Calcuta.

See Also



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  • Article Name: Defectives
  • Author: Anthony Lincoln
  • Description: Defectives and the Poor Law Commissioners In this issue about defectives, the book English Poor Law Policy [1] reads as [...]

This entry was last updated: February 13, 2017

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