HC Deb 01 August 1836 vol 35 cc699-700
Mr. Maunsell

presented a Petition from the Board of Guardians of the Poor of a place in Northamptonshire against any alteration in the Poor-law Bill that would affect the' working of the system in that district.

Colonel Rushbrooke

would avail himself of that opportunity to give an explanation of a statement made by the hon. Member for Finsbury, on a petition presented to that House by the hon. Member for Berkshire, complaining of oppressive conduct pursued by the guardians of the poor at Stowmarket. The hon. Member for Finsbury stated, that "a poor decrepit woman was not allowed to attend on her husband, who was blind, until a special order had been obtained for that purpose; and also that another woman who had employed a different surgeon than the one attached to the workhouse to attend on her, had her allowance withdrawn, and before she would consent to the change she was nearly starved." He had made it his business to go over to Stowmarket to ascertain the truth of the accusation, and, after a most strict inquiry of the clerk, and the most active of the guardians at Stowmarket, he was prepared to give the statement of the hon. Member a complete refutation. In this they could not be mistaken, for the first instance of the separation of man and wife took place on the 8th of July; and it was only resorted to when sufficient accommodation could not be had. The guardians denied ever having applied to the Commissioners for a special order, or any order whatever: and as for the surgeons, there were three of them attached to the union, all able and humane men, and no complaint bad been heard against them or their mode of treatment. In a word, the poor were never better attended, or enjoyed more comfort or contentment than under the present Poor-law Bill; and they had received an addition to their out-door allowance during the last winter. He was glad of having the opportunity to release his constituents from so false and scandalous a charge, and he would not detain the House longer on the subject.

Mr. Wakley

stated, that shortly after making the statement on Wednesday, an hon. Member from the opposite side of the House came over to him, and he gave him the name of his informant, and even read the letter containing the charge. He (Mr. Wakley) was not to be held answerable for the misrepresentations of the proceedings of that House which went forth. He did not, however, wonder that there should have been a mistake in the way they were reported on that occasion, for much excitement prevailed at the time. The first charge of the blind man being ill, and his wife not being allowed to attend on him until a special order from the Commissioners, did not apply to Stowmarket, but to the union of Besemere; the other charge related to Stowmarket, and they had been confounded together. The hon. Member read the letter of the medical officer who attended on the woman at Stowmarket, in which he stated that he had attended on her, and that she had complained bitterly of the poverty she suffered before she consented to give him up as her attendant, and it was not until one of the guardians told her that she should receive no further relief that she consented.

Petition laid on the table.

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