Annual Report for 1908-1909: Report of the Royal Commission

These proposals [of Majority Report] raise many questions in regard to which there could not but be differences of opinion among members of the Society---differences especially relating to the work of the present Poor Law, its sufficiency to meet the requirements of the time, and the principles on which it is founded. On the issue of the Commissioners' reports the Administrative Committee arranged that the Secretary should, ina series of papers, submite to the Council at special meetings the main recommendations of the Commission, and, as far as might be, the evidence on which they were based. Susequently, as the reports were sutudied, the divergence of opinion became more clear. Some of the Society's members expressed themselves as strongly oppsed to any fundamental changes in the present Poor Law ot its methods of administration. Thus, after a lapse of time that in the circumstances could not but be regretted, it appeared that , apart from the redommendations in regard to voluntary aid, the Council could not with advantage tale any common action for the promotion of the recommendations of the Majority Report. Accordingly, in December last, they passen the following resolutins:

  1. That while not unanimously agreeing with all the recommendations of the Majority Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress, the Council is of opinion that the necessary redorm of the Poor Law lies rather along the lines laid down in that Report than on those laid down in the Report of the Minority, and that it is desirable that immediate steps should be talen to influence public opinion in this direction.
  2. That no steps should be taken by the Society which would restrict the action of members or officers of the Society in advocating or criticising in their individual capacity any of the recommendations of either Report.

Later, at a large general meeting, a resolution was adopted in favour of the establishment of a society for the reform of the Poor Law, at which one chief issue---insistence on the principle of unity of administration in all public relief---became the central point of associative action and a common propaganda. For the institution of this new Society there was the more reason, since a widespread agitation was being promoted by a Society formed for the promulgation of the views of the Minority, for break-up of the Poor Law and for the distribution of its functions among some four or five separate departments; and, judging from experience, it seemed to very many members of Charity Organisation Society that such a proposal would kead to very great confusion in administraton, to great and unnecessary expense, and to a quite needless and very injurious increase in dependence and pauperism.

[SW 276-278]