HC Deb 04 April 1805 vol 4 cc206-8
Sir John Newport

moved the order of the day, for the second reading of the bill for the protection of Irish lunatics. He said, that the act of 27 Geo. III c. 29, which impowered grand, juries to report upon the state of the charitable establishments, had not been carried into execution with any regularity. The principal object of this bill, was to remedy the inconvenience arising from the numerous establishments for beneficent purposes, yet very distinct in their nature, which were placed under the same general provisions. The act, sect.8,empowered the grand jury to :provide a ward for lunatics, and the sum expended was to be accounted for by the surgeons of the grand infirmary; and the consequence was, that 20 or 30 ,persons, in the unhappy state of mind. alluded to, required as much attendance; as would be necessary for 150 under the act now proposed. Another design of the bill was, that the accounts should be annually submitted to the inspection and control of parliament. He much lamented the neglect, in regard to the insane, in some of the districts of Ireland, but he was happy to make an honourable exception in favour of the neighbourhood of Waterford, where an in- stitution for their assistance was formed, which had met with the peculiar approbation of the great and benevolent Howard.

Mr. May

did not see the propriety of passing a new act, while another existed in the statute book, competent to the purpose now proposed. The design of the bill was to provide for a thousand mad Irish. At present these were under the protection of the grand juries of the county. The bill now under consideration, would take this important duty out of the hands of the respectable persons to whom the discharge of it was committed, and would place it with others who were less suited to the purpose. He added, that the only effect would be to impose a tax upon the counties, unnecessary and impolitic, and he concluded with moving the amendment, that, in the lieu of the word "now," the term, "six months," should he substituted.

Lord Dunlo

hoped the hon. bart. would not press the second reading of the bill on this day, but defer it till after the assizes in Ireland, in order to give the grand juries an opportunity of considering it. He expressed several objections to the provisions of the bill, as the distance of the asyla from each other would take the patients so far from their former residence, and sometimes 50 or 60 miles away from the visits or inspection of their friends; and, in that part of the country which he had the honour to represent, he saw no strong symptoms of extraordinary madness which could induce him. to vote against the amendment.

Colonel Bagwell

animadverted on the inconsistency of the noble lord, who began by expressing a wish, that the bill should be delayed till the assizes were over, and afterwards concurred in a motion for its total rejection. He highly approved of the object it proposed, as there was a vast number of those objects to be seen swarming in every part of Ireland.

Mr. Alexander

said, that though he approved of the outline of the measure, he must object to the mode in which the object was proposed to be accomplished. He thought the bill drawn up hastily and inaccurately, and could see no necessity for all this complicated machinery. He should, therefore, vote for the amendment, in hopes that another bill would be brought in, which would be better adapted to the purpose.

Sir J. Newport

replied, that all the ob- jections made to the bill appeared to him more applicable to a committee. It was notorious, that the act of the 27th of his majesty had been neglected, and that the returns of the grand juries of Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Ennis, and most of the other counties, were a negative to the provisions made by it. With regard to the power of the lord lieutenant, it was confined to the original direction, and the inspection, detail, and regulations, would be under the control of the judges at the assizes. He declared sincerely to the house, that the object of that, or any other measure he should propose, was not meant as a party job, or a provision for any individual, but purely founded on the report of the committee. If, however, the house should not think proper to assent to the motion, he hoped the house would take care that the grand juries should be compelled to make returns of the provisions they should make, in compliance with the act of the 27th of his majesty.

Sir G. Hill

expressed himself against the bill, which he thought to be unnecessary, when sufficient powers were already given to the grand juries.

Mr. Lee

said he would oppose the present bill, but was ready to support any other, which would accomplish the same objects in a better manner.

Mr. Fitzgerald

thought the law at present competent to attain ail the objects of the bill.

Sir J. Newport

said, that finding the sense of the house to be against the bill, he should beg leave to withdraw it, but not with the intention of bringing in another.— The amendment was then agreed to, that the bill should be read a third time this day six months.—Adjourued.

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