HC Deb 23 July 1850 vol 113 cc146-51

Order for Committee read.

The House went into Committee on the above Bill; Mr. Bernal in the chair.

Clauses 1 to 7 inclusive were agreed to: with Amendments.

Clause 8.

MR. G. A. HAMILTON moved that the latter part of the clause be struck out, and that the provisions substituted be, that the Commissioners should prepare a plan for the division of each union in Ireland into so many dispensary districts, so that no electoral division formed under the poor-law shall be divided. In such scheme the Commissioners to state the number and salaries of the officers to be appointed to each dispensary district, and the number of persons who shall be members of the committee of management of such district, and that the Commissioners should transmit copy thereof to the board of guardians of each union affected, and fix a time not sooner than a month for the revision of the same. That, after the expiration of the month, after considering any suggestions for alteration in the scheme made by any board of guardians, the Commissioners shall, under seal, declare such district and the numbers and salaries of the officers, and the number of the committee of management, and shall send the declaration to the board of guardians. That the guardians may appeal against the order within one month to the Lord Lieutenant in Council, who shall finally determine the same. That, from and after a certain day, to be named in such order, if not appealed against, or, if appealed against, in the order of the Lord Lieutenant, the cost of medical relief within the dispensary district, with all salaries and charges, shall be charged on the poor-rates of the electoral division, according to its net annual value according to the poor-law valuation for the time. That it also should be lawful for the Commissioners, at any time, to alter such district, the amount of salaries, and the number of the officers and committee of management; subject, nevertheless, to the provisions and appeal before contained in the Bill with reference to the first order. He considered that if such power had been given in the poor-law, it would have obviated the necessity for many well-grounded complaints that had been made. He objected to the powers conferred by the Bill in its present shape upon the central board over local dispensaries and medical charities. He objected also to the principle of centralisation, which he thought had characterised the legislation of the House towards Ireland for many years past; and therefore he suggested a plan which would, he believed, reconcile the interest and control of the local authorities with the power with which it was necessary to invest the central board. His firm opinion was, that the local authorities ought to be consulted, and that their views and opinions should have due weight with the central power; he should therefore move that the latter part of the clause be struck out, and that the above provision be substituted.

Amendment proposed— Page 3, line 6, after the word 'appointment,' to insert the words 'prepare a scheme or plan for the division of each Union or of adjoining Unions in Ireland into so many Dispensary Districts, having regard to the extent and population of such Districts as they shall deem necessary.'


said, that the proposed Amendment raised an important question, by those words which authorised going beyond the boundary of any one union in forming the dispensary district. That provision militated against the principle of the Bill, and he could easily show the great importance of not exceeding the bounds of the union. The effect of the Amendment would also be, that it would bring the boards of guardians and the central authority into collision; and he feared that want of confidence between the two would be increased, if an appeal were given to the Lord Lieutenant. In conducting this Bill, he was most anxious to consult the wishes of hon. Members on both sides of the House; and if it really seemed desirable to the Committee that an appeal should be provided, and perhaps also that the plan of local arrangements should first proceed from the local authorities, he would offer no objection to such an arrangement. There might be this compromise, that the first scheme or sketch should be proposed by the different local authorities, and if that scheme received the approval of the Lord Lieutenant, he should not object to the Amendment.


could not see why the right hon. Secretary objected to the appeal, for it did not appear likely there would be many such appeals; and they would not be resorted to except in gross cases of abuse.


wished to bring forward his Amendment, which was to the effect of so altering the clause as to give the initiation or origination in the matter entirely to the boards of guardians, and that the Commissioners should have the same powers they now possessed.


did not see how the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin could be reconciled with that of the hon. Member for Leitrim.


thought that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Dublin University did not go far enough, and hoped he would endeavour to extend its operation.


offered to withdraw that part of his Amendment which would legalise exceeding the boundaries of one union in the formation of the districts, and taking parts of adjoining unions to form one dispensary district.


suggested, that the best course would be to withdraw the clause for the present, in order to incorporate with it the several Amendments proposed to be inserted; and then the entire clause would be in an intelligible form before the Committee.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted,"

The Committee divided:—Ayes 51: Noes 5: Majority 46.


then moved— At the end of the last Amendment to add the words 'but so, nevertheless, that no electoral division formed under the Acts for the more effectual relief of the destitute poor shall be divided; and in such scheme or plan the said Commissioners shall also state the number and salaries of the officers to he appointed for the service of each such Dispensary District, and the number of persons who shall be members of the committee of management of such district as hereinafter is provided.'


said, that the decision of the amount of remuneration to the medical officers ought not to vest with the hoards of guardians; for practical experience had shown that many of their decisions had been regulated in fact by no principle at all, but from motives the most capricious, personal, and partial. While in some districts medical officers had been appointed at salaries which it was wonderful the veriest drudge would accept, in other districts the medical officers had been appointed at an amount of remuneration five times greater than they ought to have. The proper course was to leave the final fixing of these salaries in the hands of the Commissioners.


defended the principle of the local settlement of the amount of the salaries, and would divide the Committee upon his Amendment.


thought the medical men should be paid according to the worth of their services, and irrespective of considerations as to their private practice. He objected to the boards of guardians originating the amounts of the salaries, because personal interests would be certain to intervene, and in some localities the salaries would be very low, and in others very high, being fixed and regulated by nothing but personal and local prejudices and influences.


was of opinion that it would be desirable to establish, by Act of Parliament, a general scale of these salaries, applicable to the whole country. Would the right hon. Secretary for Ireland say if any plan had been proposed for a scale of remuneration, to be drawn up according to the circumstances of the district, and having regard to the fact whether or not private practice was to he allowed to the medical officer.


thought that there might be a maximum. In the 25th clause, power was given to the Commis- sioners to make regulations, and there was no reason against a settled plan being laid down under that clause.


could point out to the Committee the inequality in salaries arising from the decision of the amounts being in the hands of the boards of guardians, the payments made in different unions ranging from 60l. and 70l. down to very low sums; and he said he could run over fifty cases if it were necessary in which it would appear that caprice, partiality, and evident corruption prevailed among the boards of guardians in regard to the salaries of their own friends.


said, that the question now before the House was whether the initiation of salaries was to come from the hoards of guardians or from the commissioners.


must protest against the doctrine of a Dublin board having the power of taxing the ratepayers. The boards of guardians were the persons who were responsible; the ratepayers were the persons concerned, and he contended that the salaries should be under the control of the boards of guardians. The Dublin board would give salaries of 90l. a year whether the duties performed were worth it or not.


wished the hon. Gentleman and the Committee to remember, during this discussion, that there was another party concerned, and deeply concerned, in the matter before them, besides the Commissioners and the boards of guardians, and that party was—the poor.


said, that in cases where the hoards of guardians had the settlement of the salaries in their hands, the amount of them was either too large or too small. Let the Committee then take the middle course and strike out the word "salaries," and, adding a proviso to the 10th clause, enacting that in cases of salary, which the Hoard of Health considered too little, that the Board of Health should have the power of reconstructing the arrangement, and awarding such a salary as they deemed sufficient. This would give to the board of guardians the power of proposing or initiating the salaries in the first instance, and would prevent the medical officers from being underpaid.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, by leaving out the words "and salaries."

Question put, "That the words 'and salaries' stand part of the proposed Amendment."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 24: Majority 17.


considered the proceedings on this Bill as a most complete interference with the whole of the institution of local government in Ireland.


then moved to strike out the words, "and it shall be lawful for any such board of guardians to appeal against such Order in Council within one month after the date of such order."


said, that if the order was to be made subject to the approval of the Lord Lieutenant, that approval would be given at the time the order was issued; and that before the guardians had seen it, and thus they would be mocked with an appeal against what they knew nothing about, and which had in fact been already decided on appeal.

Amendment proposed— At the end of the last Amendment to add the words 'and it shall be lawful for any such Board of Guardians to appeal against such order to the Lord Lieutenant in Council, within one month after the date of such order, and the Lord Lieutenant in Council shall finally consider and determine the same.'

Question put, "That those words be there added."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 31; Noes 39: Majority 8.

House resumed.

Committee report progress; to sit again on Thursday, at Twelve o'clock.