HC Deb 21 July 1842 vol 65 cc401-2
Captain Pechell

called the attention of the Roust to a petition from Mrs. Charlotte Forbes. presented on the 5th of July. It set forth, That the insanity of the petitioner's husband was produced from the severe service to which he had been exposed on the coast of North America, and in the operations against New Orleans, in the winter of the year 1815, which so impaired his health, that on his return to England he was attacked with lunacy. That he had the affliction to lose the sight of both eyes, from the effect of illness acquired whilst crossing the Isthmus of Darien. That he was admitted into Haslar Royal Lunatic Hospital in 1826, where he still continues; and that up to 1831 a moiety of his half-pay was deducted by the Admiralty for his support, which on afterwards being found to be a sum far greater than the proportion of the expense incurred for that purpose, 1s. 6d, per day has been deducted since that time as the actual cost of his maintenance; and the petitioner submits to the House that her said husband should have been received into Haslar Royal Lunatic Hospital without any charge for maintenance being made. She therefore prays that the house of Commons, with its usual equity and liberality, would provide that her unfortunate husband may be supported, for the future, free of expense, and that restitution may be made to her of the amount deducted from his half-pay for that purpose from 1826. The hon. and gallant Member enforced the statements contained in the petition, and expressed a hope, that at length justice would be done in this case. He concluded by moving for returns of officers admitted into Haslar Lunatic Asylum since 1819, and of the deductions made from their half-pay.

Sir G. Cockburn

said, it was only as a matter of indulgence that this officer had been taken into the lunatic asylum at all. On such occasions it was customary, if the officer was unmarried, to give the whole of his half-pay for his maintenance in the asylum; and if he was married, to apply only one-half of his half-pay in such a manner to his maintenance, and to pay over the remaining moiety to his family.

In the year 1826, the friends of this officer applied to have him received into the asylum, subject to these rules, which had since, in 1831, been mitigated. To give back these arrears now would impose a heavy burden on the public, as no less than 700 officers had been received into the asylum subject to the same regulations. He did not think the subject a fit one to be discussed in the House of Commons.

Sir C. Napier

thought the argument that there had been 700 sufferers, a very poor ground why these arrears should not be returned. lf there had been so many as 700 naval officers in the lunatic asylum, he had no doubt the greater part of them had been driven mad in consequence of having had withheld from them the promotion to which their services had given them a good claim.

Mr. Hume

thought the sum so paltry that he was surprised the subject had ever been allowed to come before the House. He thought the money ought never to have been taken from the wife.

Mr. Sydney Herbert

bore testimony to the great anxiety of the lion. and gallant Admiral to investigate every case of hardship brought before him, and to do all in his power to obtain justice for every officer who appeared to have been aggrieved. There was, however, the less hardship in the present case, because the regulations had been in force before the gentleman in question had been received into Haslar. In a case of compassion, it became a matter for the consideration of the Government to determine how far they could gratify that feeling consistently with their sense of duty towards the public service.

Motion agreed to.