I recall someone (may MP at the time) said something like.

No one that is in real need should be discouraged from using a workhouse due to its standard of housing and food, but on one that is not in real need should wish to use one due to its standard of housing and food.

Can anyone recall who said it and the correct wording.


I have a similar recollection. You might consult the British History Magazine podcast on workhouses (within the last 6 months, although I have trouble searching their archives); that is where I'm most likely to have heard it.

Third google result is "Recollections of Workhouse Visiting and Management During Twenty-five Years" link Page 68 of this book contains a quote similar to what you suggest, (I haven't mastered the art of quoting from google books) The same quote is in Women's Work, where in a footnote it is attributed to Sir F.B. Head.

There is some vaguely similar language in the 1832 Commission report; not close enough to be useful, but I suspect that the debate, and possibly the writings of Chadwick or Bentham might be a useful line of research.

  • 3
    It's amazing how little things change. "Every penny bestowed, that tends to render the condition of the pauper more eligible than that of the independent labourer, is a bounty on indolence and vice." - 1832 Royal Commission. Almost exactly the same arguments now.
    – James
    Jun 18 '15 at 13:00
  • @James the rules of logic haven't changed in the meantime.
    – hobbs
    Jun 20 '15 at 17:13
  • @hobbs Yes, but ideologies and base assumptions do.
    – James
    Jun 21 '15 at 8:50

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