HC Deb 11 March 1853 vol 125 cc33-4

said, he rose to put a question to the hon. Secretary of the Treasury on a subject which had before occupied the attention of the House. It related to those unfortunate creatures who were sent either for care or security to Bethlehem Hospital. His hon. Friend would remember that a Report had been issued by the Lunacy Commissioners in reference to this asylum, in which it was stated that the female lunatics were subjected to great cruelties, and to treatment of a most disgusting character; that some of them were made to stand naked in the cold weather; that they were then washed down by a mop and pail, and sent back to their wretched cells. The Commissioners reported also that the property of the corporation was worth 20,000l. a year, and was under the management chiefly of the Corporation of London. He felt it his duty to put this question in consequence of what took place yesterday in the Court of Common Council. A meeting of that body was held on that day for the despatch of business, at which, after disposing of the question of the Jews, they considered that of Bethlehem, and Mr. Gilpin moved— That this Court do appoint a Committee to make a searching inquiry into the present and recent management of Bethlehem Hospital, with especial reference to the treatment of patients in that hospital; and that they he directed to report to this Court the result of their investigation. A Mr. Abrahams seconded the Motion in a speech which was much applauded, and was considered most creditable to his humanity; and a Mr. Gresham "warmly commended the spirit in which the Motion was brought forward, Mr. Gilpin having ingenuously declared that his object was to do justice to the Governors, as well as to aid the cause of humanity." Finally, however, the Motion was withdrawn. What be wished to ask the Government was, whether any steps had been taken to prevent the recurrence of the abuses detailed in the Report of the Lunacy Commissioners upon Bethlehem Hospital, whether any further Report would be laid upon the table of the House, and whether the exemption from supervision which now existed in the case of this asylum was likely to be removed?


said, he was not aware of any further Report with respect to Bethlehem Hospital which was likely to be laid before the House; but in a Bill lately introduced into the other House of Parlialiament by the late Lord Chancellor, a clause was inserted by which the exemption from visitation in the case of this asylum was repealed, and Bethlehem Hospital henceforth, if that Bill passed (as there was no reason to doubt it would), would be placed, with respect to visitation, on exactly the same footing as every other establishment for the care and treatment of lunatics.

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