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DISTRIBUTION OF CHARITABLE AID., Issue 7934, 15 June 1889
DISTRIBUTION OF CHARITABLE AID.
At last night's meeting of the Caversham Council the Town Clerk (Mr Martin Pearce) read a letter which bad been received from Mr A. Clulee, secretary of the Otago Benevolent Institution, dealing with the question of charitable aid in relation to cases which came under the immediate notice of the Borough Council in consequence of remarks made by the Mayor of Caversham (Mr M'Laren) upon that snbject at a recent meeting of the Caversham Borough Council. At that meeting the mayor referred in adverse terms to the action of the Trustees in withdrawing monetary relief which had previously been granted to an applicant—"a most deserving case," as Mr M'Laren put it—while others not requiring relief so urgently continued in receipt of mouey from the Trustees. Several other matters were touched upon by the Mayor of Caversham in connootion with tne dispensing of charitable aid by the Benevolent Trustees, which he said, did not rellect the greatest credit on that body, aud which called forth a reply from them in which the Mayor of Caversham was requested to funvsh to the Trustees particulars of the cases cited by him. This Mr M'Laren did, but his answer was not considered satisfactory by the members of the Trustees, and a motion was eventually passed by the Trustees in which it was stated that that body regretted that the Mayor of Caversham had seen fit to lay such grave charges against a public body in such a rash manner before he acquainted himself fully with the particulars of the matter. The letter which was read last night mentioned that, in answer to the communication frcm the Borough Council dated the 3rd inst., information regardiug the fiaseo mentioned therein (and, as we have said, hientio.-.ei at the previous meeting of the Borough Council), aud in the communication dated March 11, was forwarded by the Trustees to the Borough Council. It stated tiiat the Trustees were quite aware of the presence iu Melbourno of the husband of a woman who was in receipt of charitable aid, but that, being satisfied that the woman and her children required assistance, thoy continued relief. With reference to the case of a man who was stated by the Trustees to have been in the hospital while at that particular time he was driving and training horses, it was explained that the man was subject to epileptic fits, and was in need of some assistance in supporting his farpily; consequently the relief waa granted. Regarding the reduction in the Bum pre viously paid to a female recipient of charitable aid, it was stated that "the Trustees had granted such allowance to the womap as they considered would meet the requirements of the case." Coming to the que?tion of furnishing the Borough Council with tj)e ages of children, the Trustees replied that they concluded the Council would have obtaiued that information for themselves. The reason vfhy the particulars regarding the applicants for relief residing in the borough had not been furnished to the Council was stated to be because the cases were not considered of sufficient importance to forward particulars of the same to the borough, they being only applications for temporary relief. The explanation offered to the Borough Council regarding the non-forwarding to the latter of the nameis of those persons residing in the borough who were in receipt of charitable aid was to the effect that those persons had probably removed from some other district to the borough since relief was first given them. In conclusion, the letter stated that regarding a ease (the "deserving case" mentioned previously) wherein relief wan stopped, the Trustees had discontinued relief to the woman "after making careful and exhaustive inquiries and satisfy, ing themselves that no relief was required." Upon the conclusion of the reading of the letter, The Mayor said that ho had a few remarks to make upon the subject beforo the letter was dealt with. He had been taken hardly to tisk at a recent meeting of the Benevolent Trustees, and it had been said th»t he SDQke about matters regarding the particulars of he was ignorant. But in the first ease the Trustees should have answered the letter in connection with this matter before now—they should have answered it at the time. He was indeed sorry to sec that the Trustees had said they were perfectly aware of the fact that the man mentioned was in Melbourne; he was indeed floiry that they possessed such bad memories. They could not have been aware of the fact at that time,'' aj; least, he thought not. Mr Solomon had stated' that -Jka other man mentioned was paralysed, haft
he (the speaker) had made inquiries, and now emphatically made the statement that the man was not paralysed, because he had been outside in charge of unbroken horsei. He did not know whether it was the Trustees who were paralysed or the man. —(Laughter.) At any rate, the man must have been paid for the work. He was astonished that Mr Mee (manager of the Institution) had not made inquiries before. The Trustees had been accused of squandering money, and they evidently found that the word "squandering" was not agreeable to them, but perhaps "paying negligently" would do as well. They thought that 7a 6d per week was too much for one unfortunate, so they reduced the amount to 3s 6d; that was what he called skinflint relief.—(Hear.) The case upon which he laid special stress was indeed a most painful one. The woman from whom the much-needed relief was withheld had received some money when her husband died. The money was not regularly given ; it was withheld, then granted again. It was a sad case, and as he thought of the action of the Benevolent Institution Trustees he did not hesitate for one moment to say that it was without doubt the cruellest case that had come under his notice. All that the woman had asked was that the Trustees should pay her rent, and for that purpose she had waited upon him. The woman had gone to the Trustees, and Mr Solomon had said: "So you are in want of assistance. Is it true that your daughters cam more than 111 per week?" She had answered " Yes," and was about to explain, when Mr Solomon ejaculated " No more, no more !" and the woman's chance was gone. Yes, the daughters were working; but under what circumstances ''. The most painful and cruel, the speaker thought. They were at present agitatingagainst thesweatingsystem, and here was a case—a strong case indeed. Strange to say Mr Mee had, when reporting upon the amounts earned by the girls weekly as wages, quoted the highest price—32s per week for the two girls—but he evidently forgot to go when trade was dull and discover what wages the girls were then earning. To earn those 32s the daughters had to work until one and two o'clock in the morning. Mr Solomon knew a good deal of the evils attending sweating, but he did not know all there was to learn. The Trustees had said : " You can get no money from us ; you earn 32s per week." They never recognised the claims of the poor widow and her two hard-worked children; they gave money to far less deserving cases time after time. It had been said times innumerable that it was a shame that these girls were worked like slaves. The Trustees should know that they should not be a party to this accursed practice of sweating in any form. If this was to be the way in which the girls were to be worked in this colony to support themselves and parents, God pity the breed which we would soon have in our midst.—(Hear.) There were one or two rather strong things which he had intended to say regarding the Trustees, but ho would leave that to another occasion, being satisfied with referring to the cases previously cited by him and giving his opinion to the Council thereon, Cr Wilson thought that the ease cited by the Mayor was only one of many. The Mai ok replied that he had heard remarks made by numerous persons regarding similar cases. There was one thing that he was sure upon, and it was this: the Charitable Aid Board did not understand the question of charitable aid. Cr Cole was in favor of some motion being submitted to the Council regarding the action of the Benevolent Trustees.
The Mayor thought that he was getting blamed for the action of the Council, Cr Cole : Yea, and that is why I am desirous of getting a motion passed which would contain the expression of the Council in connection with this matter. Cr Bridoman was in favor of the whole question being minutely inquired into to see if the statements made were correct. The Mayor said that he never made statements in public without being able to substantiate them. Cr Bridgman said that if the particulars of the case as mentioned by the Mayor were true, the Council should go right through with the matter, and investigate others aa well. It was a case which worthily claimed the urgent attention of every member of the Council, The Mayor said that when he considered the positions of the gentlemen occupying the positions of Trustees he was astonished at their actions.
Cr Bri mi man thought that the Trustees were not perhaps wholly to blame. The book was simply laid upon the table, with the respective amounts earned, and perhaps they did not know
Cr Lawless : That's just what we say—they do not know enough. Cr Bri DOM an : I am afraid that, regarding this question, none of us know enough. The Mayor considered that he could give the agitators in connection with the sweating movement a wrinkle or two. His crime seemed to be that he was accused of fighting for the widowed and the fatherless children Cr Coverlid : And more honor to you. Cr Bridgman : Back him up, I say ; back him up. Cr Nutting : Is this Council going to start a crusade against the sweating system ? —(Laughter.) After further discussion—in the course of which the Mayor stigmatised the Benevolent Trustees as " The Skinflint Board " the follovvinging resolution, moved by Cr Bridgmax, and seconded by Cr Cole, was unanimously agreed to :—" That the clerk be instructed to ask tho Trustees what the average earnings of the two girls for the last three months were, and the hours that they had to work," The clerk was also directed to request that a woman should receive an increased sum from the Trustees, the present allowance being, in the Council's opinion, insufficient. The discussion then terminated, and the ordinary business was proceeded with.
DISTRIBUTION OF CHARITABLE AID., Issue 7934, 15 June 1889
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