The National Health Service
The 1574 Act in Scotland followed the English 1572 act. In England, the law was superseded in 1598, but the 1574 Act remained in force in Scotland till 1845.
1598/1601 The Elizabethan Poor Law was a national Act for England and Wales. This put in place:
- a compulsory poor rate
- the creation of 'overseers' of relief
- provision for 'setting the poor on work'.
- The provision for hospital treatment
1839-1840 A Poor Law Commission enquiry identified disease as a major cause of pauperism.
1842 Edwin Chadwick, the secretary of the Poor Law Commission, and one of the main authors of the 1834 report, wrote a Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain, identifying sanitation as a principal issue.
1848 Public Health Act. This was permissive - i.e., a law which allowed authorities to do something, rather than compelling them - which made it possible to build sewers.
The Act excluded London altogether. The construction of sewers was opposed on the grounds of cost; the General Board of Health was abolished in 1853, and the Act was repealed in 1858.
1866 Sanitation Act. It created 'local boards of health'. Scotland was brought in in 1867.
1872 Public Health Act. This defined responsible sanitary authorities, either town councils (in urban areas) or Poor Law Boards of Guardians (in rural areas)
The reason why the Poor Law authorities were used was that there was no other body in rural areas able to take on new responsibilities effectively.
"Are there no workhouses? then the poor better die and decrease the surplus population"115