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Discuss the Reasons for the Increase in Social Legislation in the 1830's and 40's

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In this essay the introduction of the poor law of 1601 will be discussed, the forces behind new legislation coming to play with the introduction of industrialisation and the results the changes of the Poor Law invoked and the social responses and results that followed.

Before the Elizabethan Poor Law Act was passed the nature of the medieval England will be discussed. Midwinter, 1994 explains that the economy in these times was mainly agrarian around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire. Peasants lived on estates named manors in which they would work the land in a tight knit feudal system where the peasants would answer to the Warrior Class who are under Nobles, who in turn answered to the Monarch. The Church was very powerful in these times providing aid in times of crisis to its parishioners. If there was a bad harvest or drought that affected the crops the collective manor would suffer. Churches offered almshouses which would provide help to the needy as explained by Midwinter, 1994 ;

They are the beginnings of a long line of institutions, including the workhouse and the residential care home, which offered a non-domestic package to the weary and indigent person They were few in number, but of great conceptual significance for the future.

Midwinter 1994 explains that famine and disease caused poverty within the parishes, and also local warfare could ruin the crops and food supplies leaving the peasants living at subsistence level. There was a lack of knowledge in this time about health, and with a lack of nutrition many died due to starvation. In times of ill health herbal remedies were used at this time and Almshouses provided help for the sick and orphaned children. Children were educated by their families and peers, they were socialised by the family through practise or habits for skills that needed to be learned, and taught basic Christian beliefs as the parish was so important before the times of the enlightenment. There was a 'know all' system in place in the manor as everyone knew each other so crime was low, but in the case of a crime being committed, which would be based on the manor custom the estate would deal with it within the manor and travelling judges would appear at the manor court to try the accused, this was the beginnings of a local government.

The Elizabethan poor act of 1601 was put in place and parishes would provide aid to the people living within that manor, if they were deserving and in poverty. The dwellers could get food from the parish if they were in need for their families to survive. Problems with drifters arose from the poor law, as different parishes would offer more or less aid in different locations, which lead to people travelling to other parishes in search of a better standard of relief. Alcock, 2000 explains that this in turn lead to various settlement acts being put into place to prevent people who were not born into the parish claiming help.

In 1795 The Speenham Land Act was introduced which would provide food to the deserving poor to draw on the poor rates if they needed to, they were also able to receive a top up on their wage if it was below a certain amount, based on the price of bread and the number of children the male of the family had. Barry, 1999 explains that the Speenham Land Act caused problems as this relief was going against utilitarian's such as Adam Smith who believed in individualism, and a man standing on his own two feet with his Laissez Faire idea that the state should not intervene but rather let people help them. Jeremy Bentham was an influential utilitarian as Midwinter, 1994 explains;

This set of beliefs is mainly associated with the name of Jeremy Bentham. He began with the premise that man is wholly motivated by his pursuit of pleasure and his avoidance of pain, and that all men (and women, although old-time philosophers concentrated entirely on the male of the species) were left to free so to pursue, the sum total of all these successful forays in the hunt for pleasure would be the greatest happiness for the greatest number

Historian Halevy, as cited in Midwinter, 1999 explains that Bentham believed commercial free trade was the outcome of self help, but then says that a person needs to have free pursuit of pleasure which the government needs to keep clear and be positive in this role, which contradicts himself as that in itself is a form of state intervention.

In the first wave of liberalism the essay will discuss Edwin Chadwick, who was a utilitarian and former pupil of Bentham agreed with Bentham's quote regarding the greatest happiness for the greatest number as told by Midwinter, 1999, and believed that topping up the poor's wages as relief was making people idle and not willing to work the amount of hours a man should as they can claim relief for the rest from the parish. He believed that unsanitary conditions of the poor caused illness and death which impeded the natural flow of production that was important to the economy. Chadwick thought there was ignorance in the workers and that they should be educated to be efficient time keepers and literate to increase the natural flow of the market. Chadwick's methods for devising this theory was using 4 elements, the first was the felicific calculus, which was a cost benefit analysis, if the middle classes pay out now for the above to be addressed they will reap the benefits later, He believed by preventing crime, poor health and poverty this would benefit production and the economy. Chadwick wanted to stop the people who he believed were lazy and unemployed solely due to the relief they were offered and not due to a general lack of work. He wanted to do this through Tutelle, in which inspectors would carry out checks to see if the three above principles were carried out, to hold a further control. Midwinter goes on to say that this was as a response to rise of intolerance of the middle classes who were in fear of their wealth and property due to crime problems, and ill health of their employers.

Chadwick's theory led to the New Poor Law Reform Act of 1832, which was putting Tutelle into action. As the start of the early 19th century the Industrial revolution was apparent, agricultural changes were happening, as Jones, 2000 explains that farming had changed, the enclosure movement meant that wealthy land owners threw farmers from the land they purchased leaving them in search of homes and work, and new farming machines left the labourer without purpose for the work anymore. A population growth had occurred since the poor law had been passed, Jones, 2000 explains that in 1801 the population for Britain was 8,893 but had doubled by 1851, births were on the up and the death rate was falling. With the search for work apparent with larger population, people moved to the towns in search of work expanding town size in urbanisation which was due

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