HC Deb 04 June 1850 vol 111 cc721-3

MR. GROGAN moved for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the Dublin Hospitals, with the view of ascertaining whether it is not expedient to continue the grants made by the Government in aid of these charities. He would beg to refer to the report of a Select Committee appointed to investigate the subject in 1829, and which recommended the continuance of these public grants, in addition to the local voluntary contributions, as essential to the permanence and well-being of these public charities. Commissioners had also been appointed to inquire into the subject by the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in the year 1842; and these Commissioners, after carefully examining the whole of these charities, gave it as their opinion that the grants should be continued to them undiminished in amount. As the grounds of this opinion, the Commissioners stated that grants were formerly regularly voted by the Irish Parliament, and that the Imperial Parliament bound itself, after the Act of Union (which had the effect of drawing away from Dublin the gentry and nobility upon whose private contributions these hospitals used greatly to depend), to continue to vote a sum amounting to the average of the grants annually voted by the Irish Parliament during the six years preceding its dissolution. These, in the opinion of the Commissioners, constituted the pecu- liar claims of the Dublin charities to be subsidised from the Imperial Exchequer; but in that year, 1847–8, the Committee which sat on Miscellaneous Expenditure recommended the gradual reduction of the grants 10 per cent per annum, with the view to their ultimate extinction. Now he believed that that Committee had come to an inconsiderate and hasty conclusion without examining sufficient witnesses; and that was the ground upon which he had to ask the House to reopen the whole question, and to send it for reconsideration to a Committee upstairs. [The hon. and learned Gentleman then made several quotations from the report of the Committee of 1847–8, in order to show that that report was based upon the evidence of only one witness.] He believed the Dublin hospitals would be broken up by the withdrawal of the public grants, unless their claims were again investigated by a Select Committee; and he expressed his confidence that, if his Motion were acceded to, he would be able to show the Government good reasons for abandoning their present course, and for reverting to the grants which were formerly voted by Parliament in aid of the Dublin charities. He wished to draw the attention of the House to the distinguished rank occupied by Dublin as a school of medicine, for the purpose of showing how desirable it was that these philanthropic establishments should not be suffered to sink into that inevitable ruin which an extension of the grants formerly enjoyed by them could alone avert. He admitted that a Commission in 1848 had recommended the gradual reduction of those grants; but he contended they had done so hastily, for there was not a word in the evidence laid before them to justify the recommendation.

Motion made, and Question put, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the Dublin Hospitals."


seconded the Motion. He regretted that the circumstances of Dublin had been gradually deteriorating since 1832, the citizens being overpowered by reason of the pressure of local rates; and he therefore hoped the Government would accede to the proposition for a Select Committee.


said, if ever there was a subject fairly investigated, by several Committees, on several occasions, it was the subject then before them. If any hon. Gentleman required information on the matter, he had only to refer to the numerous papers on the table of that House relative to the subject, and then he could not fail to perceive that no additional evidence whatever was needed. It appeared to him, however, that the real object of the hon. and learned Member was to obtain an alteration in the reduced votes for these establishments. When he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) referred to the various Committees' recommendations, he found that they were all but unanimous in recommending the gradual reduction of these grants, on which recommendations the Government was then acting. He should therefore resist the Motion, because he conceived it utterly needless to go into an inquiry which could not adduce further information than they at present possessed.

Motion put, and negatived.