Michael Quinn (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: Writings on the Poor Laws, Vol. 1
pg 143Systems relative to the mode of executing the task of making provision for the relief of indigence, are all reducible to one or other of [four]1 topics: 1. the quantum, 2. the quality, 3. the place where, and 4. the fund:
1. As to the quantum—in what quantity or proportion to the demand: whether there shall be no provision at all—an inadequate provision—or an adequate one?
2. As to the quality—or, in essence, the degree of comfort to be administered, whether such as to render the condition of a burthensome Pauper eligible or not in comparison of that of the self-maintaining Poor—and whether simply eligible or simply ineligible, or eligible or not according to circumstances.
3. As to the place—whether in private Houses, or in Houses of a public nature, appropriated to the purpose: and in the latter case, whether in Houses upon a small scale, such as common Poor Houses, or, as they are sometimes stiled, Work houses, or in Houses upon a large scale, such as those which have taken the name of Houses of Industry?
4. From what fund—that is, at whose expence? At the expence of what description of persons?—At the expence of the class of contributors at present charged, or at the expence of a new class of contributors?—And in the latter case, whether at the expence of the persons themselves liable to become Paupers (charged upon them at a period anterior to that of their becoming burthensome), or at the expence of any and what other description of persons?a
5. In any case, the question with regard to the Fund introduces another set of questions with regard to the hands in which the management of the Fund shall be reposed. Whether the Fund shall be national, for the whole country, as is the case with the Funds for National Defence, Administration of Justice, and other public exigences, or whether it shall be local, and broken down into a multitude of independent Funds, for example as many as there are Parishes in the Country, as at present: and, in either case, whether the hands pg 144intrusted with the Management shall or shall not have a personal interest in the success of it. Hence the following questions under the head of management—Management national, or local? Undivided, or divided? Management in the hands of Administration, or in Hands independent [of]1 Administration? Management—in interested,a or in uninterested Hands?b
Such are the questions, the discussion of which will occupy the ensuing pages.
a Systems which endeavour to charge the expence of the provision for indigence upon the indigent themselves, that is upon those who otherwise might have been indigent, are of a preventive cast, and may be considered as systems, or schemes, for the prevention of indigence.2
a To farm the Poor, as the phrase is, is to vest the management of the concerns of the Poor in interested hands. This introduces the discussion relative to the eligibility of the Farming System—for which see Ch. | |.3
b In the case of a National Joint Stock Company, establishing a Subscription Fund, with an authority extending over the whole country, the management is national—vested in independent and interested Hands. Independent with reference to Government, and interested (in proportion to the shares of the several Stock holders) with reference to success.