HC Deb 19 June 1846 vol 87 cc685-8

rose for the purpose of asking a question of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for the Home Department, with respect to an allegation contained in a petition from Dr. Roberts, of Bangor, as to a lunatic asylum, called Haydock Lodge. The allegation of that petition was, that the establishment in question was under the influence or control, and established by, parties connected with the Poor Law Commissioners; and that Mr. Mott, the ex-Poor Law Commissioner, was president of the asylum. The question he wished to ask was, whether any communication had taken place between Mr. Coode, one of the Assistant Secretaries of the Poor Law Commission, and the Commissioners, on the subject; whether Mr. Coode had resigned his situation as Assistant Secretary; and, if so, whether the right hon. Baronet would be ready to produce any minute of the Poor Law Commissioners relative to the subject?


said: Sir, when I saw the petition to which the hon. Gentleman refers, I had received no previous communication on the subject of it; but, in consequence of the statements contained in that petition, I wrote an official letter to the Poor Law Commissioners, desiring them to communicate to me officially the inquiries which they had made on the subject. The result is, that I have received an official answer to that letter, which contains a memorandum as to the conduct of Mr. Coode, and information that Mr. Coode is no longer an Assistant Secretary to the Commission. I shall have no difficulty whatever in laying on the Table of the House copies of my letter to the Poor Law Commissioners and their answer. I have not yet received a full answer on the subject from the Lunacy Commissioners. I expect one in the course of a few days; and as soon as I receive it, I shall be ready to lay before Parliament the whole of the correspondence. Sir, I will now trouble the House with an explanation which is personal to myself, with reference to Mr. Mott, formerly an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, who has been mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. The Times newspaper contained two days ago an allegation as to myself, unintentionally erroneous I am certain, but still grossly erroneous. The statement was this:— Mr. Mott became, we believe, the editor of an unsuccessful journal in Sir James Graham's neighbourhood, and under his especial patronage. Now, I have to state to the House that Mr. Mott is personally altogether unknown to me and that he has ceased to be an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner for nearly four years; and the only origin of this error that occurs to me as possible, consists in the fact which I will now state to the House. Mr. Mott, in the year, I think, 1843—on the 11th of March, 1843—became editor of a work called the Poor Law Guide, which, so far from being conducted in my neighbourhood, was edited in London, and I think printed by Bradbury and Evans, and published by Mr. Onwhyn. On the 1st of October, 1842, there was another publication issued, called the Union Gazette, edited by a gentleman named Marryatt. That paper, published weekly, contained information on the subject of paupers in different parts of the kingdom who had deserted their families; and the board of guardians of Longtown, of which I am chairman, applied, in the year 1842, to the Poor Law Commissioners to know if they might have permission to take in this work, as being convenient in their proceedings. The Poor Law Commissioners answered that application by stating, that if the information contained in that publication was considered useful by the board of guardians in question, they were at liberty to take in that publication, and to charge it on the rates. I have the honour of being chairman of that board of guardians, but I was not cognizant of this particular transaction. Now, Mr. Mott, in the first number of his publication, in March, 1843, having a knowledge, from some source or another with which I am not acquainted, of this answer to the Longtown board of guardians, published the letter, but omitted to state all the circumstances and the names, and left the inference to be drawn that the board of guardians were authorized to take in the publication in which it appeared. Nothing could be more irregular than this transaction on the part of Mr. Mott. I repeat, that he has ceased for four years to be an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner; and, except on the supposition that The Times was led into error by the circumstances I have mentioned, I cannot understand on what ground such a statement can have found its way into that journal. But it is due to myself to state that Mr. Mott was never at any time editor of a newspaper under my especial patronage.


said, from the way in which the right hon. Baronet had referred to The Times, it might appear to the House that he (Mr. Stanley) had been in some way connected with what had appeared in that paper. He begged to state that he had never known anything about the article in The Times, and had nothing to do with it.


said, the most material part of the question of the hon. Member had not been answered, which was, whether any parties connected with the Poor Law Commission had had any speculation with Mr. Mott in connexion with this lunatic asylum. It could not require any time, on the part of the authorities of Somerset-house, to give an answer to that question.


had already stated that he had addressed a letter to the Poor Law Commissioners. On the day but one following he received an answer, informing him that Mr. Coode no longer held office under them. [Mr. T. DUNCOMBE: Why?] I think Mr. Coode was connected with the establishment of Haydock-lodge in a manner not inconsistent with the due performance of the duties of his office.


inquired whether Mr. Mott, who was the master of the asylum, did not hold office under the Poor Law Commissioners, as district auditor; and whether the Poor Law Commissioners, from their connexion with him, had not been cognizant of all the circumstances?


The last part of the question will be easily answered by the letter of the Commissioners, which I am prepared to lay on the Table. In answer to the first part, I beg to state that I understand Mr. Mott is auditor of a certain district, being chosen under the Act of Parliament, of which the hon. Member must be cognizant, whereby the choice of auditors rests with the chairman and deputy-chairman of the board of guardians of a district.

Subject at an end.

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