Front Page Titles (by Subject) Militia Men\'s Families - Poor Law Commissioners' Report of 1834
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Militia Men's Families - Nassau William Senior, Poor Law Commissioners’ Report of 1834 
Poor Law Commissioners’ Report of 1834. Copy of the Report made in 1834 by the Commissioners for Inquiring into the Administration and Practical Operation of the Poor Laws. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty (London: Printed for H.M. Stationery Off. by Darling and Son, 1905).
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Militia Men's Families
The Act of the 43d Geo. III. c. 47, (for consolidating the laws for the relief of the families of militia-men,) to which we have already referred, appears to us to be within the range of the inquiries which we have been directed to make, and it deserves to be reconsidered by the Legislature. It enacts in substance, that if a militia-man be called into actual service, leaving a family unable to support themselves, an allowance, after a rate not exceeding the price of one day's labour, nor less than 1s. per head, for the wife and each of the children under ten years of age, shall be paid, upon the order of one justice, to such family, by the overseers of the parish where they dwell.
The justices in quarter-sessions may settle the rate of allowance for such county, and the allowance so settled is binding on the individual justices. The payment made by the overseers of the place where the family dwell, to be reimbursed by other parishes and places in a manner immaterial to our purpose.
These payments are open to many of the objections to the "allowance system." They are made not in reward of the services of the father, or in proportion to those services, but in proportion to the assumed necessity of the family, and this necessity is assumed to be in proportion to their numbers; for although, perhaps, the words of the Act would authorize a justice to refuse to make an order, where the mother was manifestly able to maintain all her children, yet it is clear that, if he give anything, the magistrate must give the full allowance for all the members of the family; and we believe the Act is commonly construed (as without violence it may be) as not even leaving the justice satisfied of the fact of marriage, and the number and age of family, any discretion to withhold the allowance. We have already stated that this Act, or rather the Acts which it consolidates and amends, largely contributed, in many parts of the kingdom, to familiarize both magistrates and parish officers with the allowance system, and it diminished the shame of applications for parochial assistance, because it exhibited, as receivers of relief by the hands of the overseers, numerous families to whom no moral blame could be justly attributed. We feel great difficulty, however, in proposing the abolition of the provisions in question, depending as it does on the method established by law of recruiting for the militia by lot. It is not within the province of our commission to pronounce an opinion on this mode of recruiting; but whatever may be its advantages, we may be permitted to state our belief, that it has tended—it must tend when it is no longer dormant—to discourage the course of steady industry, and to increase the excuses for improvidence. It adds a factitious chance of ruin to those inevitable accidents of health and fortune which make the reward of steady industry in some degree precarious, and must render the strict administration of the poor-laws more difficult, by multiplying the cases of blameless destitution.