HC Deb 20 July 1843 vol 70 cc1283-5
Lord Ashley

would take this opportunity of calling the attention of the right lion. Baronet, the Secre- tary for the Home Department, to a subject which demanded his serious attention and consideration—he meant the treatment of the lunatic poor. A system prevailed, he believed to a large extent, of retaining pauper lunatics in the workhouses, instead of sending them at once to the county asylums, thereby, in effect, causing great expense to the county. This was a subject on which the testimony of medical men had been obtained, and from their evidence it appeared that they had no doubt that one-half of the pauper lunatics of the country might be cured and restored to their friends, if they were immediately sent to the proper institutions provided for their reception. He should best exemplify his meaning by referring to a case, the particulars of which had been recently sent to him. He had received a letter from the chairman of a board of guardians in Dorset, from which it appeared, that a pauper had been ordered to be removed to the county asylum, in November, 1842, but that the relieving officer, who was charged with his removal, detained him in his care until April, 1843. In many cases, he was informed, that where an expense of 4l. or 51. would be sufficient for the cure of a pauper, 2001., 3001., and even 4001., were necessarily expended, and this expenditure was caused only by the inefficient discharge of their duties by the parish officers.

Sir J. Graham

entirely agreed with his noble Friend, that the subject to which he had referred was well worthy of consideration. He did not imagine, however, that the law was defective, for he believed that it was imperative on persons charged with the maintenance of pauper lunatics to remove them immediately to the county asylum. Any omission of duty on such a head, in a paid officer, he had no hesitation in saying might be the subject of an indictment; in an unpaid officer the remedy would be more certain, for upon the facts being substantiated, he might be dismissed from his situation. If the noble Lord would forward to him the communication to which he had alluded, he assured him that the circumstances should be inquired into, and if they should prove to be as they had been stated there was no doubt that the officer would be immediately discharged.

Orders of the day read.