Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by pipisme, Oct 6, 2010.
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George Odger said that in order to receive unemployment benefit a worker must accept work offered to him, but not at a lower wage or less favourable conditions than he had in his previous employment, or if a job becomes vacant because of a strike. A worker who becomes unemployed because of a strike at the factory or other premises at which he was employed, is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit for as long as the strike continues.  But a worker who becomes unemployed because of a lockout by his employer would be entitled to receive unemployment benefit. Unemployment benefit would be not be payable to workers who are under the age of thirteen and at half the full rate to workers aged thirteen or older but below the age of eighteen. Apprentices would be entitled to benefit at the rate for their age. Women would receive unemployment benefit at the same rate as for men.
Tamsin Penrose [Penryn and Falmouth - Commonwealth] asked if workers employed in domestic service would be eligible for unemployment benefit. Odger said that they would if they were employed in a household in which there were more than two workers in domestic service.
 In other words a worker would still be entitled to receive unemployment benefit if he refuses a job which has become vacant because of a strike, but is disqualified from benefit if he becomes unemployed because of a strike at the factory or other premises where he was working.
It took me three days to read this through and I have very much enjoyed it.
I'm glad you enjoy this timeline.
In his speech, George Odger said that the government had decided that health insurance and unemployment insurance would be financed by contributions from workers and employers, rather than out of taxation the cost of which would be prohibitive, and to give people and sense of ownership of their share of the funds. The health and unemployment insurance funds would be kept separate from government funds. 
George Sclater-Booth rose from his place on the Opposition Front Bench.
'Will the Chancellor tell the House what is to stop the Treasury from raiding the insurance funds.'
'The independence of these funds is guaranteed by the Bill'
'But a government could introduce legislation to remove that independence.'
'I agree with the Right Honourable gentleman, but I can assure him that a government of my party would not do so.'
Odger continued with his speech. He said that workers would have the choice of joining the state scheme or of joining one run by a friendly society, a co-operative society or a trade union.
 In other words they would be ring fenced.
After the unemployment section of the National Insurance Bill, George Odger came to the widows and children benefit scheme of the bill. He said that it would provide eight shillings a week for a widow, six shillings a week for an eldest child and two shillings and six pence a week for other children in a family. Orphans would receive six shillings a week. Benefits would be payable only for children who were at school full time. They would not be payable to children who aged between ten and thirteen who worked half time and attended school half time. The benefits would be non-contributory and financed out of general taxation.
Jessie Craigen [Partick - Commonwealth] asked Odger if benefits would be payable to widows who were in a common law marriage and to their children.
He said that they would.
Jessie Hannah Craigen was born in 1834/5, the daughter of a Scottish sea captain and an Italian actress. When she was a young woman she worked as an actress. Her first appearance on the stage was as a fairy in a pantomine when she was four years old. 
 See the entry for her in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
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In 1863 Craigen became a full time speaker for the National Association of Women's Suffrage Societies and travelled all over Britain accompanied only by Tiny her dog. The following year she joined the Commonwealth Party. She kept audiences enthralled with her booming voice and huge stage presence.  In 1866 she became the Lanarkshire Organiser of the Ladies National Organiser for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts.
In the general election on 5 October 1874 she was elected Commonwealth MP for Partick with a majority of 747 over Conservative. The Constituency was carved out of the Lanarkshire North-West constituency and was basically the north-west suburbs of Glasgow, and was a marginal Commonwealth/Conservative seat.
 This sentence is taken from the book Hearts and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote by Jane Robinson, London: Doubleday 2018.
When George Odger finished his speech on the second reading of the Social Insurance Bill, he was greeted with enthusiastic cheers from the Commonwealth benches. Then George Sclater-Booth rose from the Opposition Front Bench. He said that his party opposed the Bill. It was confiscatory taxation on the poor, the contributions by employers would be an intolerable burden on manufacturers and would mean that that they would have no choice but to reduce their labour force. He gave the example of a factory which employed four and hundred fifty workers aged eighteen years old and over for which contributions were payable at the full rate, and fifty workers aged between thirteen and seventeen years old for which contributions were payable at half rate. The total annual cost to the employer would be £487 10 shillings for the workers at the full rate and £27 1 shilling and eight pence for workers at half rate, making a total of £514 11 shillings and eight pence.
The contributions by the government to the health and unemployment insurance funds, and the widows and children benefit scheme, would inevitably mean taxes would go up. 'Commonwealth governments increase taxes, Conservative governments reduce them.' His party would use all the means at its disposal to stop the Bill becoming law. When he sat down he was greeted with cheers from Conservative MPs.
Edward Pleydell-Bouverie led for the Liberals in the debate. He said that they would be voting for the Bill because they agreed with its general principles, but there was a lot wrong with it and if it received a second reading they would be voting to improve it in the committee stage.
For the Irish Nationalist Party, John Blake Dillon said they supported the Bill in principle but would be voting to improve it in the committee stage.
Now it was the turn of the backbenchers to speak in the debate which took place on three days, 3, 4 and 8 February 1875. I will concentrate on two of these speakers. Goodwyn Barmby [Wakefield - Commonwealth] and Lady Anna Eliza Mary Gore-Langton [Bath - Conservative] because they did not toe their party's line.
Goodwyn Barmby was elected Commonwealth MP for Wakefield in the 1864 general election. He was First Commissioner of Works in George Cowell's first government from 9 June 1871 to 7 October 1874 when he resigned because he preferred the freedom of the backbenches to the responsibilities and constraints of government. He was the leader of what contemporaries called the Barmbyites, and historians also term the hard left of the Commonwealth Party, which numbered about thirty MPs. In his speech on the second reading of the Social Insurance Bill he condemned the contributions by workers as a tax on the poor, and argued that the benefits should be financed entirely out of taxation. He also advocated that benefits should be payable to children between the ages of ten and thirteen working half time, to children aged over thirteen and below eighteen at the full rate, and not half rate, and to all servants, not only those in households where there are more than two. He said he would be voting for the bill on second reading, but would table amendments in the committee stage.
Lady Anna Eliza Mary Gore-Langton was elected Conservative MP for Bath in the October 1874 general election in which she campaigned as a liberal Conservative. But she was more sympathetic to the Commonwealth Party than the Liberal Party. She called herself a radical Tory in the tradition of those in the 1830s and 1840s. In the House of Commons she socialised with women Commonwealth women members. She was specially friendly with Tamsin Penrose, the MP for Penryn and Falmouth. Before she became an MP, Mrs Penrose was a cook and the family she worked for were friends with a cousin of Lady Anna. So the family took her with them when they stayed with these friends. There Mrs Penrose cooked for them and she met Lady Anna and they became friends. Both women were widows.
In her speech Lady Anna Gore-Langton said that she welcomed the Social Insurance Bill. It showed that this country has a responsibility to its citizens when they fall on hard times. We are not a nation of competing individuals but a community. She said that particularly welcomed the proposed benefits payable to widows and children. She would vote for the bill.
When she sat down a Conservative MP stood up and said:
'My honourable friend is in the wrong party. How long will it be before she crosses the floor of the House.'
The last day of the debate was Monday 8 February 1875. During the closing speech from the opposition front bench by W.H. Smith, the President of the Board of Trade, William Allan, rose from his seat on the government front bench and said:
'Will the right honourable gentleman tell the House that if the bill becomes law will a Conservative government repeal the Social Insurance Act.'
'We will if the bill is not satisfactorily amended.'
After Allan had given the closing speech for the government, the House voted. There was no doubt that the bill would receive a second reading, the only uncertainty was the size of the government's majority. The result was:
For giving the bill a second reading: 438
The vote was made up as follows:
For: Commonwealth: 353
Irish Nationalist: 58
Against: Conservative: 174
Lady Anna Gore-Langton was the only Conservative MP who voted for the bill, but twenty-three Conservatives abstained.
After the Speaker had announced the voting figures, George Odger stood up and said that the bill would be considered by a Committee of the Whole House, with the first day's debate on Monday 1 March.
On 10 February 1875 the President of the Local Government Board, Robert Applegarth, moved the second reading of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (Repeal) Bill. He said that it abolished the cruel and inhuman workhouse system. Workhouses would become houses of hospitality and would be for people who have nowhere else to live.
Sarah Taylor [Liverpool Kirkdale - Commonwealth]: 'Will residence in these houses be voluntary?'
Applegarth: 'It will be, but it is intended they should be homely places where people would want to live.'
Charles Adderley from the Opposition Front Bench asked:
'Will residents in these houses be liable to pay for the privilege of living there?'
Applegarth: 'They will not.'
Continuing with his speech Applegarth said that any work by the residents in the houses of hospitality be voluntary. He went on to say that the Boards of Guardians would be responsible for these houses and for out relief for those people in need who were not receiving unemployment allowance. he ended his speech by saying that this bill ended a system which caused untold misery to countless numbers of people.
In his speech Adderley said his party opposed the bill and would vote against it. He said that the principle of less eligibility, which was the foundation of the Poor Law was still valid. It was right that conditions in workhouses must be austere, but not cruel, and the inmates of workhouses should do work which they find hard and unpleasant. Paupers must suffer more than their neighbours who have kept their independence.
I have decided to change the name of Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 (Repeal) Bill to the Poor Law Abolition Bill. It repealed the 1834 Act and Poor Law Acts for Ireland and Scotland.
After Adderley had spoken Edward Frederick Leveson-Gower [Bodmin - Liberal] said that while the administration of the Poor Law needed to become more humane, its basic principles were still sound. The Bill was socialist extravagance and utopianism and his party would vote against the second reading.
For the Irish Nationalist Party, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa [MP for Tipperary North] said that they welcomed the Poor Law Abolition Bill. After his speech it was the turn of backbench MPs.
Eliza Fearnley [Spen Valley - Commonwealth] said that in February 1838 her mother, Mrs Susanna Fearnley, had chaired a public meeting of women in Elland, in an adjacent constituency to hers, in which the following resolution was debated and passed:
'That this meeting considers the New Poor Law Amendment Act an infringement on our rights. Because it considers it to be unmercifully oppressive and tyrannical, sparing neither age nor sex.' 
 The meeting happened in OTL and the account and resolution is taken from Political Women 1800-1850 edited by Ruth and Edmund Frew, London: Pluto Press, 1989
Sarah Taylor [Liverpool Kirkdale - Commonwealth] spoke about her experiences as an inmate in the Liverpool workhouse. She said she hated being there.
When Lady Anna Eliza Mary Gore-Langton entered the House of Commons on 11 February 1875, the second day of the debate on the Poor Law Abolition Bill, she went and sat on the Commonwealth side of the House,next to her friend Tamsin Penrose. In her speech later that day she said she gave her full support to the bill. She had resigned the Conservative Party Whip and had applied for and been given the Commonwealth Party Whip. She could no longer in conscience be a member of the Conservative Party.
Separate names with a comma.