29 JANUARY 1910, Page 47


How the Casual Labourer Lives. (Northern Publishing Company.) —This is the Report of a Liverpool Committee which under- took the task of investigating the conditions of the Liverpool labourers. Forty budgets, giving income and expenditure for various periods from a year downwards, are included. They were obtained at no small expense of patience and labour. Not one out of three applications was successful, even though backed up by a slight remuneration for the trouble of keeping the accounts. The average rent is not high. Here are five successive items taken at random : Four rooms and a cellar for 3s. 6d.; four rooms and a yard for Ss.; four rooms for 5s. 6d.; two bedrooms, kitchen, and back kitchen, "a clean attractive little home," 4s. ; three-roomed cellar, 3s. The average per room is a little over a shilling. The pawn- broking arrangements are not oppressive, but it might be a good thing to have a mont-de-piete. The system of moneylending is, as everywhere, cruel. One case is given of a debt of £1 on which the weekly interest of 3s. 4d. is paid,—between 800 and 900 per cent. Daughters in service are generous as usual. Provisions and coal seem to be cheap. Tea, Is. per pound; sugar, 21d. ; bacon, 5d.; coal, 9d. per hundredweight; meat, 3d. per pound ; potatoes, 6d. per peck, are certainly low prices. In this family the average income was 15s. 8d. per week—sixteen weeks were accounted for—but a fourth of this was borrowed. The lowest earning was 6s., the highest 19s. 6d. On the whole, it is a melancholy record, but well worth studying in detail. It is not the less melancholy because the visitors come to the conclusion that "in nearly every instance the misfortunes of the family are in part attributable to some defect of character or mind or body in one or both parents." The brightest spot is the kindness. In one poor family an old neighbour regularly shared the meals ; in another the gift of a " hotpot " ticket was passed on to some one who had been longer out of work.