HC Deb 31 May 1836 vol 33 cc1207-9

Mr. William Smith O'Brien moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the better regulation of Medical Charities, supported by county assessments in Ireland. Under the present system the greatest inequality prevailed in the assessments for this purpose, and when the money was procured there were not those regulations which ought to exist, in order to prevent abuses, and to make these Charities as beneficial to the community as they could possibly be. The hon. Member then entered into some details to show the gross unfairness and inequality of the present system of assessments for these Charities in Ireland, and stated the obligations he felt himself under to Dr. Freeman for his laborious exposition of the state of that country in this respect. He then proceeded to ex plain the nature of the provisions of his Bill. With regard to Dispensaries, there were, it was true, a great number in Ire land, but they were very unequally distributed, some districts having too many, others too few, in many the medical men were not sufficiently qualified; in almost all, abuses of various kinds existed. He proposed that there should be in future a Dispensary for every district containing from ten to 15,000 inhabitants. That no medical attendants should be admitted into them but those whose competence should have been previously attested by a Board, that the Dispensaries should be supported by a district rate, to be levied, two-thirds on the landlord, and the remaining one-third on the tenants, and that they should be superintended and managed by persons representing the great body of the rate-payers. With regard to Infirmaries, the same general principles were to be acted upon, as also with respect to Hospitals; the whole were to be under the superintendence of a Central Board in Dublin, which was to be assisted by inspectors, whose duty it would be to make tours through their respective districts, ascertaining whether abuses existed, if so, reporting them to the Central Board, together with any improvements which might be suggested to them in the management of the Charities. These were the main provisions of his Bill, and he only hoped that the House would allow him to bring it in, that it might afford some assistance, at least, to Government or some Member more able than himself to under take the task, in framing a more perfect measure.

Mr. Wyse

said, he felt deeply the necessity for some such Bill as the present. The Medical Charities in Ireland were in a most anomalous condition. The first business of the Legislature was to consoli- date them, by providing such machinery as would bring them all under some central control, and, at the same time, furnish a good system for their support by local taxation, united with local inspection. He (Mr. Wise) as the House was aware, had already advocated the establishment of a Central Board of Public Works, and one for Education, he therefore hailed with pleasure a scheme for the establishment of a Central Board of Charities. He should be happy to render any assistance in his power to the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Brien) in presenting this Bill to the House.

Viscount Morpeth

said, the Government would be happy to avail itself of any hints which might be contained in the Bill pro posed by his hon. Friend for the regulation of Medical Charities in Ireland. He should therefore offer no opposition to its being brought in; at the same time not pledging himself that he would not present to the House a rival measure, which he had for some time been contemplating. He could not sit down without saying, that whoever should have to investigate this subject would owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Freeman.

Leave given.