Read transcripts of debates in both Houses
Produced by Commons Library, Lords Library and Parliamentary Office Science and Technology
Search for Members by name, postcode, constituency and party
Learn about their experience, knowledge and interests
Celebrating people who have made Parliament a positive, inclusive working environment
Four staff networks for people to discuss and consider issues.
Contact your MP or a Member of the House of Lords about an issue that matters to you
Sign up for the Your Parliament newsletter to find out how you can get involved
Explore the Houses of Parliament on this virtual tour
Sign up to our newsletter for regular updates about visiting
Book a school visit, classroom workshop or teacher-training session
Access videos, worksheets, lesson plans and games
This legislation, often referred to as the 1572 Poor Law, was an early precursor to the modern welfare state. The Act formally moved responsibility for poor citizens from the church to local communities by introducing a tax to raise funds for their provision. In each parish a Justice of the Peace was employed to register those who were poor and unwell and distribute relief to those who were in need. The Act also addressed problems of vagrancy, which were increasing due to a growing population and inflation. A series of Poor Laws were subsequently passed throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and eventually paved the way for the introduction of the modern welfare state with the passing of the 1946 National Health Service Act.
Find out more about the Parliamentary Archives