HC Deb 17 July 1856 vol 143 cc968-73

Order for Committee read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."


said, it was his intention to move, that the Bill be committed that day three months. It was from no want of sympathy for the inmates of the Dublin hospitals that he took that course. It was at once the glory and one of the most precious and palpable evidences of our common Christianity that such institutions existed, and he should greatly regret if the step he now took should, in the slightest degree, impair the usefulness of those charities, or close the portals of those hospitals against the admission of any one who required their aid. But he thought the course of the present and former Governments in respect to these hospitals to have been unwise and vacillating, and neither fair nor honest. He did not see why Dublin should enjoy a privilege which other large cities and towns did not enjoy. Edinburgh, for instance, was distinguished for its medical schools, and was as much entitled, in his belief, to receive a grant from the public fund as the Irish capital. He was informed by Sir William Gibson Craig, that the grants which had been made to the Irish hospitals would in a few years cease and determine, In 1844, a resolution was come to by the Government, that the grants should be reduced 10 per cent every year, and the hospitals be left to be supported by the subscriptions of the charitable and humane. That was acted upon for some time; but on the Motion of the hon. Member for Dublin, a Committee on the subject was appointed, and the present Bill was the result of the Report of that Committee. The tendency of the Bill was to place those hospitals permanently as a charge upon the Consolidated Fund. If the House continued these grants to Dublin, he saw no reason why they should not be extended to Edinburgh, and, if to Edinburgh, to Glasgow, Liverpool, and other great towns. He found that the Commissioners had laid it down as a rule that no grant should be given to an hospital unless it was also a medical school. He wished to know if the converse was also to be a rule, and every medical school to be entitled to these grants. No doubt a great proportion of the poverty of Scotland arose from immigration from the sister isle; and as Scotch hospitals were freely used by Irish paupers, he thought that was an additional reason why Dublin should not exclusively have the benefit of the public money. The Bill was useful so far as it proposed to deal with admitted abuses in the management of the Dublin hospitals, but he objected to its local operation and character. He hoped, however, that the whole matter would be set at rest by the Government retracing their steps and dealing equal justice to all.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee," instead thereof.


said, he hoped the House would not allow itself to be led into a discussion on a question which was not before it. The question they had then to decide, was not whether any grant should be made to the hospitals of Dublin, or whether that grant should be permanent. Those two questions had been already decided upon by a Resolution of a Committee and a Vote of that House. What the House then had to do was, to carry into effect the object of Parliament in making that grant. A Commission issued last year had reported the manner in which these grants of money had been hitherto applied. For many years these grants had been annually voted. In 1854, the subject of the grants was submitted to a Committee of inquiry, and which Committee recommended the continuance of them. The question which Government had then to consider was, whether those grants were wisely and well applied. With a view to ascertain that fact, a Commission was appointed to inquire into the condition and regulations of the medical institutions of the city of Dublin; and the present Bill was founded on the recommendations of that Commission. The Bill was not a Bill for granting money to those institutions, but was for the better regulation of the hospitals in Dublin. If Parliament should, next Session, refuse this grant, then the interference of Government would cease, but so long as the grants were continued, no one could deny that the Government had a right to provide for the better regulation of the hospitals. Under those circumstances, he hoped the House would allow the Bill to go into Committee.


said, the object of the Bill was plain and unmistakeable; it was to fix the maintenance of those hospitals on the public taxes. It was an insult to the subscribers to those hospitals to suppose that they could not properly manage and conduct them. If the power of appointing the governors and officers of those charities were vested in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, he would make use of that patronage for political jobbery. No other part of the Kingdom would come to that House and ask for charity out of the public taxes to support their institutions. He was surprised that the pride and national feeling of the people of Dublin allowed them to accept such charity. The result of the passing of the Bill would be that the maintenance of the institutions would be saddled on the public taxes.


said, he must remind the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Cowan) that grants had been made for the promotion of works in Scotland as well as in England. He might mention the Caledonian Canal as an instance. Therefore it could not be urged as a special ground of objection that this grant was exclusively for the benefit of Ireland, seeing that similar grants had been made for works in other parts of the United Kingdom.


said, he thought that it was the duty of the Government to extend hospitals all over the country. He should certainly support the Government in the measure under consideration. The opposition to the grant, he considered, was disgraceful in those who exhibited it. The grant was only of £15,000, and yet they made no objection to the expense of going to Aldershot to reviews, and for sending rockets into the air to please the Londoners. The expense in the course of the year for reviews and fireworks, and eating and drinking of the Houses of Parliament, in going to reviews at Aldershot, and for paying for railway fares to Portsmouth and Southampton, could not have been less than £100,000. No objection was made to dip into the public purse for those purposes, but when a sum of £15,000 was proposed for charitable purposes in Ireland, objections were immediately raised.


said, he could not understand why the city of Dublin should be paid a sum of £15,000 a year to support its charitable institutions. The question was whether the charge was to be permanently settled upon the country. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland had said that the object of the Bill was to guard against abuses; but his belief was that it was really to make it the means of ultimately imposing this charge upon the Consolidated Fund. He thought that the Irish Members, for the honour of their country, should put an end to these applications for charity, which were only to support abuses in Ireland.


said, that hon. Gentlemen were going away from the real object of the Bill. It was not whether a grant should be made, for that had already been agreed to. It was to make a great medical school as efficient as possible. The hospitals had produced many eminent medical men for the army, navy, and general service of the country. But those hospitals could not be kept up by means of their ordinary resources. It, therefore, became necessary to make a grant, and the object of the Bill was to regulate the application of that grant.


said, that the objection which he entertained to the Bill was, that it was intended to confer upon the hospitals of Dublin a Parliamentary title to an annual grant out of the Consolidated Fund, which no other similar institution asked for. None of the London hospitals received any public grant.


said, there was nothing in the Report of the Commissioners which impugned the administration of those grants. Those grants were originally made by the Irish Parliament. The grants were also made by the British Parliament for twenty years after the Union, under the impression that the Union would produce great prosperity, and in twenty years render the grants unnecessary. Such, however, was not the effect of it. The Union had removed the nobility and the wealthy commoners, and Dublin, from being the city of the rich, had become the city of the poor. For that reason he maintained that Dublin had a prescriptive right to those grants.


said, that the argument of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland was very ingenious. It was true there was not one word in the Bill having reference to money, and yet the fact was that the whole case turned upon and had reference to a pecuniary grant. These grants were most unpopular with his constituents. The hospital at Glasgow was quite as extensive and efficient as the one in Dublin, yet that received no Parliamentary grant


said that, although he agreed with the recommendation of the first Committee on this subject, that the grant to these hospitals should be gradually reduced, and, although he was opposed to the appointment of the second Commission, yet since that Commission had recommended the continuance of the grant, he considered it the duty of the Government to give effect to that recommendation.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 53; Noes 22: Majority 31.

House in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 (Lord Lieutenant may grant Superannuations to the Officers of the Hospitals).


said, he should move that the clause be omitted.


said, that the circumstances relating to these officers were different from ordinary cases, and he must support the clause as it stood.


said, he considered that granting pensions to officers who were no longer able to discharge their duties was introducing a new principle into those institutions, for which he did not see any necessity.


said, he also objected to the clause. Men were glad to obtain the reputation of having passed their days at the public hospitals, without asking for a pension.


said, that the subject had undergone great consideration, and that these superannuation allowances had been more than once recommended to the House.


said, he objected to the principle of allowing the governors of hospitals to diminish the funds by granting superannuations.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 43; Noes 29: Majority 14.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 10 to 13 were also agreed to.

Clause 14 (Lord Lieutenant may appoint a Secretary to the Board).


said, he should move that the salary be £300 a year.


said, the amount was excessive, and he should move that the salary be only £150 a year.

Question put, "That the blank be filled with the word 'three.'"

The Committee divided:—Ayes 26; Noes 51: Majority 25.


said, it was impossible that any medical gentleman could be prevailed upon to accept the office of secretary at so small a sum as £150 a year. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would be satisfied with the result of the division which had just taken place, and let the question stand over for consideration.


said, the question was whether it was desirable that the secretary should be a medical man. There were on the staff of these institutions some of the most eminent medical men of the country, who bestowed vast time on the management of the institutions, and therefore it did not so much require that the person who performed the duties of secretary should be a medical man. He believed there would be no difficulty in obtaining an efficient person at a salary of £200 a year.


said, he had heard of men who were perfectly competent to discharge the required duties, and who would readily accept the office at a salary of £150 a year.

The Motion was then put and agreed to, and the blank was filled up with £150.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported, as amended.