Saturday 3rd March 1917: At a meeting of the Bedford Board of Guardians, a motion was carried forbidding the provision of food or lodging to tramps, subject to approval from the Local Government Board. This was due to the urgent need for national service. It was declared that there should be no idle persons when it was up to the community to do as much as possible to help bring the war to an end. The Master of the workhouse clarified that tramps currently work an 8 hour day digging, sawing wood or grinding corn. It was felt that the tramps would be better employed serving their country when there was no shortage of work.
Whilst all sympathised with the sentiment of the motion, some were concerned about by-passing the Poor Law’s provision for tramps and felt that it was a problem that should be addressed by national government first. In response, the carrier of the motion, Mr L Clark, cited Eastbourne as having refused lodging and food to tramps and argued that the war would be over before the Government made a decision on the issue. The motion was carried without amendment.
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