HC Deb 19 February 1857 vol 144 cc838-9

said, that it would most probably be in the recollection of the House that a lunatic confined in the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum was recently subjected to certain treatment and died in twenty minutes afterwards. The medical officer, Mr. Snape, was committed for trial; but the Grand Jury ignored the Bill, and Mr. Snape had been re-appointed to the medical charge of the asylum by the visiting committee of Magistrates. He wished to ask the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary whether he had the power upon the appointment or re-appointment of such an officer to remove him; and, secondly, whether he had signified his disapprobation of the re-appointment of Mr. Snape. He also wished to know whether the right hon. Baronet would lay upon the Table the Correspondence between the authorities at the Home Office, the Commissioners in Lunacy, and the Committee of the Surrey County Lunatic Asylum.


said, that after the occurrence adverted to by the hon. Member, the medical officer was suspended during the inquiry and prosecution. He believed that he was not dismissed, and that there had strictly been no re-appointment, but that after the inquiry the Committee of visiting Justices recommended that the suspension should cease. The Secretary of State for the Home Department had no power as to the appointment or dismissal of the medical officer of a lunatic asylum, that power being entirely vested by the Act of Parliament in the visiting Committee. He had received a statement from the Lunacy Commissioners on the subject, which he had transmitted to the visiting Committee, and he had also received a communication from the visiting Committee in reply, which he had transferred to the Lunacy Commissioners. There would be no objection to the production of that correspondence.


said, he hoped that the papers would include Mr. Snape's statement, and also copies of the medical evidence taken by the visiting magistrates.


said, if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Otway) would make a Motion for the production of the papers, the hon. Member for West Surrey could add the papers to which he had referred to that Motion. If he (Sir G. Grey) could procure the papers they should be produced.