First published in 1910, this volume is a dispassionate analysis of the changes in and the various aspects of official policy towards pauperism from the ‘Revolution of 1834’ to the Majority and Minority Reports of 1909. In their preface to this volume the Webbs wrote:
"What obscured the history was the manner in which masses of heterogeneous facts were heaped together. To read, one after another, these complicated Orders and lengthy Reports, each dealing with all kinds of paupers and various methods of relief, was but to accumulate confusion. They resembled a heap of geological conglomerates which could not be assayed until they had been broken up in such a way as to sort the different materials into separate homogeneous parcels".
This book succeeds in presenting a masterly survey of this sector of the British social services on the eve of the foundation of the Welfare State, and completes the corpus of the Webbs on the Poor Law.