HC Deb 11 April 1850 vol 110 cc164-5

begged to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board whether any inquiry had been instituted into the conduct of the master of the Bideford union?


replied, that he understood the question of the hon. Member to refer to the inquiry promised by the Poor Law Board into the conduct of Mr. Surman, the master of the Bideford union workhouse, with reference to the treatment of the poor girl whose shocking death had formed the subject of a late judicial investigation. In the course of that trial there was something said by Mr. Surman which induced the Poor Law Board, as soon as the report of the case appeared, to determine upon instituting an inquiry into his conduct, and he had stated, before the Easter recess, that instructions had been issued to that effect. When these instructions, however, went down into the country, it was found that Mr. Surman had already resigned his office as master of the Bideford workhouse, and, consequently, he was no longer an officer under the Poor Law Board. Of course, he was no longer amenable to the jurisdiction of that board, and it was impossible to pursue the inquiry, the object of that inquiry being to ascertain whether Mr. Surman was fit to continue in the situation which he held. Another reason for not pursuing the inquiry was, that another prosecution had been instituted against the Birds, and, of course, these matters would come under investigation before the ordinary tribunals. If, however, the question of the hon. Member referred to the general conduct of Mr. Surman, he had the satisfaction of stating, that the chaplain, the surgeon, and the board of guardians of the Bideford union, all spoke of him in the highest terms.

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