HC Deb 13 April 1847 vol 91 cc751-3

On the Order of the Day being read for the Third Reading of the Fever (Ireland) Bill,


rose to make a few observations, but not for the purpose of opposing the progress of the Bill. There now prevailed in Ireland a low typhus, which generally carried off the parties suffering under it in the course of two or three days. But besides that, there was another fever of a very virulent character generated in the workhouses; and, he regretted to say, that these fevers now prevailed to a very alarming extent—to an extent such as made it incumbent on the Government to establish without delay an efficient system of medical superintendence throughout the whole of Ireland. There were now in Ireland 600 dispensaries—there were 150 fever hospitals; by the Bill at present, there would be established as many as 1,800 institutions for affording medical relief, and he thought that the people of that country ought not to be so heavily taxed as by the Bill it was proposed to tax them, without affording the benefit of competent medical inspection. The principle which he sought to induce was no novelty. Every Bill heretofore introduced by the Government and others upon this subject contained one most important feature—namely, the establishment of a competent medical board of inspection. The several commissions of inquiry—the Poor Law Commissioners—the late Government in the Medical Charities Bill, which they introduced—a Committee of this House—and, in the last Session, a Committee of the Lords, all strongly recommended such a board. At a large meeting of Irish Peers and Members, lately held, a strong opinion was expressed as to the necessity for a board of medical inspection; a resolution to that effect was adopted; and he (Mr. French) was deputed by the meeting to submit its views and resolutions to Her Majesty's Government—yet in the present Bill there was no such provision. There now existed, amongst all the medical incorporated bodies of Ireland a strong disposition to pull with the Government; and he (Mr. French) hoped that their wishes in favour of efficient inspection would be attended to on the present occasion.


was quite aware of the importance of the subject which had now been brought under the consideration of the House; he begged, however, to remind hon. Members that the Bill was one only of a temporary nature. But that, even so considered, it afforded the best means of checking the progress of fever. With regard to the subject of medical inspection, he was not then prepared to make any statement whatever. He was, however, most anxious to assure the House that the subject was under the consideration of the Government. It would be necessary for him to add one or two clauses to the Bill; it was only right that the Treasury should be entitled to some check over the expenditure; the appointments might be in the hands of those to whom they had been intrusted according to the original arrangement; but the Treasury ought to possess a check. It had been recommended, and care would be taken to insure it, that a separation of those who were affected with fever from those who were in health should be made. The Bill provided that relief should, as much as possible, be afforded to the patients at the dispensaries and in the hospitals; but he feared that strict rules on that point could not in every case be rigidly enforced, and therefore some discretionary power must be left.


, in reply to the observations of his right hon. Friend with reference to the Board of Health, must say that, as at present constituted, the Board of Health does not represent the profession in Ireland. "It is true that a man of the highest eminence (Sir Philip Crampton) is at its head; but it is equally true that those men whose distinguished professional career have added lustre to the high character, throughout Europe, of the Irish College of Surgeons and Physicians, have been left off this board. So long as such a system of exclusion is continued, it is impossible to expect that the Board of Health can obtain the confidence either of the profession or of the public." He should not, however, offer any objection to the bringing up of the clauses, although it appeared to him that they were totally unnecessary, as the cases referred to by his right hon. Friend were amply provided for by the 7th Clause.

The additional clauses were then brought up and agreed to, and the Bill read a third time and passed.

House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock.