HC Deb 03 February 1837 vol 36 cc95-7
Viscount Morpeth

rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the Grand Jury Act for Ireland. As the amendments now proposed did not embrace any new matter, and were entirely formal, it was not necessary to go into any details. He would merely state that the Bill, with one exception, was the same as the Bill of last year, and he anticipated no opposition to it. He moved for leave to bring it in.

Mr. Shaw

said, the object of the noble Lord was one unconnected with politics, and that he should make no objection to the introduction of the Bill proposed by the noble Lord. The Grand Jury Bill of last year certainly required amendment, particularly in the two points mentioned by the noble Lord—the provisions for dispensaries, and those which related to deserted children; he thought it right, also, to put beyond a doubt, that last year's Act was not intended to bring the county and city of Dublin within its operation.

Mr. O'Connell

thought, some provision should be made in this Bill to regulate medical charities, as in those districts of Ireland where medical advice was most wanted, it was impossible to procure an adequate salary for a medical attendant. He had great doubts on the clause respecting deserted children. The evils that had resulted from the establishment of the Foundling Hospital at Dublin were so enormous as to necessitate the breaking up of that establishment. The frauds had been found to be so numerous, that he thought it better to trust to individual charity. He should have a better opportunity of discussing this subject when the noble Lord brought forward his Poor-law Bill for Ireland.

Mr. F. French

acknowledged the necessity of some part of the measure then before the House. Unfortunately, the Act of last Session was so defective, that if some of the provisions of the Bill now introduced by the noble Lord were not adopted, the salaries of the county-officers would have to remain unpaid, and the public roads and the remainder of the county expenditure unpresented for. By the law, as it at present stood, the Spring Grand Juries would not have the power to levy money for any presentments that were obliged, in the first instance, to be laid before the cess-payers at each Sessions. He was also aware of the necessity of a clause to regulate the posting of notices for applications, which, by some strange oversight, had been altogether omitted. So far he was willing to go with the noble Lord, and regretted that, consistently with his duty to his poorer fellow-countrymen, he could support him no further. Had his noble Friend read the Report of the Commissioners on the state of dispensaries in Ireland, he would have known it was anything but desirable, as he, by this Bill, was about to do, to restore them to their original state. For his part, he would sooner abolish them altogether. He did not, generally speaking, consider them to be serviceable to the people, 60l. or 70l. a-year was, in many instances, paid for distributing 10l. or 20l. worth of medicine; the continuance of this system had been decided against by the House last Session, notwithstanding the able advocacy of the hon. Member for Cork, and without any experience of the effect of the alteration, which was, that not more than half the amount of the entire income of the medical chests should be allotted to the physician. The noble Lord was about to re-establish it; he did not mean to deny that there were highly educated and intelligent men amongst those by whom the dispensaries were managed, but there were also many perfectly incompetent. The first class, he considered, were by no means adequately remunerated; they could not in justice to their families give up sufficient time to discharge the duties of their districts for the paltry stipend allotted to them. The employment of the second class ought not to be suffered to continue; it would be much better for his Majesty's Government to introduce a Medical Reform Bill, to intrust the health of the agricultural population to none but competent persons, and to make their remuneration ample, than attempt to patch up a system which could never, under any circumstances, be rendered efficient.

Leave given, and Bill brought in and read a first time.