HC Deb 09 June 1857 vol 145 cc1453-68

said, he rose for the purpose of moving for leave to bring in a Bill to alter and amend the laws respecting lunatics in Scotland, in pursuance of the undertaking given by the Government upon the discussion raised the other day by the hon. Member for St. Andrew's (Mr. E. Ellice). The Report which had been laid upon the table of the House by the Commissioners contained unquestionably a great deal that had struck the public as both new and important, and a great deal which demanded the serious consideration of the Legislature. With respect to that Report, it was only due to the Commissioners who prepared it to say, that it bore the marks of great ability, industry, and research, and he thought those gentlemen had laid the country under a deep obligation for their services. As to the observations of his hon. Friend (Mr. E. Ellice), he certainly rejoiced that the subject had been brought before the House with so much ability and in so striking a manner; but there was one part of his hon. Friend's statement which he certainly wished had been omitted. The Report presented by the Commissioners was never intended as, and was not, a Report upon the conduct of officials or of public men. The subject of their inquiry was, as to the state and practice of the law of lunacy in Scotland, and the object of their Report was to amend that law—an object for which he thought their Report was most admirably calculated. To take that Report, however, and make it, as it stood, the groundwork of grave accusations against officials who might be referred to in it, without knowing what explanation or statement these officials might make, was to use it for an object for which it was never intended, and for which it was not adapted; because, while many of the statements contained in it were most valuable as a basis for legislation, if the Commissioners had intended to inquire into the conduct of officials then investigation must have been much more extensive and the examination of parties much wider than they had been. His hon. Friend the Member for St. Andrew's, however, led away a little probably by a pre-possession which he held very strongly, had made the Report of the Commissioners the groundwork of various remarks with regard to the Board of Supervision. He (the Lord Advocate) made no reply to those observations the other night beyond stating that only one side of the question was then laid before the House; but, having sat upon that Board himself for at least a year, and knowing the way in which it had been administered by the right hon. Gentleman who presided over it, he felt confident that the remarks of his hon. Friend would hardly be justified to their full extent by the facts; and he had now received a statement from Sir John M'Neill with regard to these matters, the substance of which he felt bound to submit to the House. One would have imagined from the statement of his hon. Friend the other evening that, while pauper lunatics in Scotland were grossly neglected, the Board of Supervision had represented the law as sufficient, and their administration of it as satisfactory. The very reverse was the case, for in the year 1846, in their very first Report, the Board stated that the accommodation in the asylums was not equal to that required for one-tenth of the number of pauper lunatics, and that they found a state of things existing in which it was utterly impossible to carry out the law, because there was no accommodation for the reception of the lunatics. That was the statement contained in the very first Report of the Board, and in consequence of it Lord Rutherfurd, the then Lord Advocate, moved in 1847 for Returns showing the number of pauper lunatics in Scotland and the accommodation provided for them; and, founded upon those Returns, the learned Lord introduced a Bill for remedying the law of lunacy in 1848. It was important, also, to call attention to the fact, that in the same year Sir J. M'Neill was examined before the Select Committee on Miscellaneous Expenditure, and in his evidence upon that occasion he went fully into the whole question of the treatment of pauper lunatics, and he stated in the strongest manner that until sufficient accommodation was provided it would be impossible to carry out the law as it stood, and still more to treat lunatics as they ought to be treated. He would not trouble the House by going through the whole of that evidence, but he might safely say that there was scarcely one of the recommendations made by the Commissioners in their recent Report which was not to be found in the evidence of Sir J. M'Neill in 1848. Lord Rutherfurd's Bill being lost in 1848, the learned Lord re-introduced it in 1849, but was obliged to withdraw it; and from that time to this he was not aware that the subject had ever been noticed in that House, not even by his hon. Friend, although the Board of Supervision in their Reports still continued to call the attention of the Legislature to the imperfect state of the law and of the accommodation provided for pauper lunatics. It was stated the other evening, that the Reports which were made by the inspectors and medical officers were not true or correct; but Sir J. M'Neill said that they were thoroughly and completely true; and he (the Lord Advocate) might observe that it seemed to have been forgotten, that the only lunatics over whom the Board of Supervision had any regular authority were those who, under the dispensing power of the Act, were not sent to the asylums, and that the lunatic wards of the poor-houses were not under the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervision, but were under the Sheriffs. With respect to these last, he had the authority of Sir J. M'Neill for stating that special half-yearly Reports were sent in to the Board, giving full particulars with regard to every lunatic under their charge, in addition to an annual return from the medical officer, giving a particular report of the state of every lunatic under his charge. With respect to the details of the cases mentioned by the Commissioners he (the Lord Advocate) had nothing to say. He was quite ready to accept them as perfectly well founded for all the purposes of legislation, and he had no doubt they were; but on the other hand, every one who read the Reports must see that they were altogether imperfect as regarded any blame to be attached to the officials, because no details and no names were supplied. Sir J. M'Neil, however, had applied to the Commissioners for the names in the different cases, in order that they might be investigated, He (the Lord Advocate) had also directed the attention of the Sheriffs to the observations made in the Report, and from those gentlemen he had received a great variety of replies. Many of them were very short, because they simply stated that there were no lunatic asylums, no private licensed houses, and no provision whatever for the reception of lunatics in their respective counties. In respect to other counties various explanations were made as to the matters contained in the Report. Sir Archibald Alison stated in his reply that he had ordered two inspections every year in Glasgow, but that he had been obliged to discontinue one of them because the Commissioners of Supply would not pay the cost of both inspections. It must not be supposed that he had said one word to disparage that most valuable document, the Report of the Commissioners, for he believed it to be fuller, more detailed, and to afford more information with regard to the state of lunatics in Scotland than had been produced with relation to any other part of the kingdom. Now, one word as to the state of matters when the Commission was appointed. It was well known that Lord Rutherfurd's Bill had been withdrawn in consequence of the strong opposition which it had met with in Scotland, and, whatever the ground on which it was based, he must say that he never recollected a more determined or general opposition to any measure. When, in 1853, he (the Lord Advocate) was appointed to the office, which he now had the honour to hold, he was not hopeful of being able to accomplish that which Lord Rutherford had so completely failed to do, but he resolved to wait and to seize the first opportunity of doing that which each day's experience told him was more than ever urgently required. In the meantime Miss Dix, whose name no one could mention in connexion with this subject without the most sincere admiration, went to Edinburgh, and wishing to visit the asylum at Musselburgh, requested him to interfere and obtain access for her, as she was desirous to visit them unaccompanied by the Sheriffs, and at a time when she was not expected. Her usual sagacity did not fail her in making that request. In consequence of that application, and not exactly seeing how he could authorize her visits under those circumstances, he addressed a letter upon the subject to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He received in answer a statement that it was proposed to appoint a Commission; and on the 1st of March, two days afterwards, he wrote stating that he should rejoice to see the Commission appointed for the reasons mentioned in his last; that it was very desirable that the smaller asylums should be suppressed, but that the way of effecting the suppression required consideration, and that inquiry was necessary respecting the outrages committed upon lunatics at large. He had referred to the two previous letters for the purpose of showing that he was now, on the Report of the Commission, to which he had looked for aid in legislating, only carrying out the plan sketched by his predecessor about ten years ago. He assumed that hon. Gentlemen were acquainted with the details of the Report which had been laid before the House, and he thought he need not advert to the former law, which was entirely and thoroughly imperfect. The safeguards were simply these:—The Sheriffs of the counties, the Justices, and some other parties had the power and duty of inspection once or twice a year; certain registers were, ordered to be kept and certain regulations made. But there was no uniformity; every Sheriff might interpret the Act as he pleased, and there was no obligation to erect asylums for the maintenance of lunatics. The duty was thrown on the Procurator Fiscal of seeing the Act executed, but no power was given him to ascertain whether it was executed or not, and there was no power of visitation. He need not say that those safeguards entirely failed, and the remedy he now proposed was that there should be appointed a Commissioner, an Inspector General, who should be a medical man, a secretary, and a clerk; and that these should constitute the Lunacy Board for Scotland, though not under that name. It was not proposed to make the Commissioner a member of the Lunacy Board for England to the full extent in which an English Lunacy Commissioner was a member; but it was proposed to make him a corresponding member with the power of sitting at the Board, of communicating with the Board, and of writing the part of the Scottish Board to the English Board for the purpose of making inquiries. It was also proposed generally to give the right of appeal, in case the combined counties differed from the Commissioner on certain points, to the Lunacy Commission in England. He had communicated to that Commission not all the details of the plan, but a general sketch of it, and he believed that that Commission concurred in it. These persons—the Commissioner, the Inspector General, the secretary, and clerk—being appointed, the Commissioner would have, in the first place, the power of granting and refusing licences for Lunatic Asylums, and the provisions would be as stringent as possible consistently with the public benefit. It was quite clear that the granting of these licences had hitherto depended on the view which the Sheriff for the time being might take of their duty. The Sheriff of Mid-Lothian had stated that it was not the case that licences had been granted as a matter of course, but it was obvious that the Inspector of Lunatics should, before licences were granted, have the power of inquiring into the nature of the building and the character of the person keeping it. The Commissioner would have the power of renewing and transferring those licences, and of revoking them, and also of making rules for the management of the asylums, and of inquiring into the conduct of the officers. These matters would be reported to, and subject to the control of the Home Secretary. The Commissioner would have a quasi-judicial power of inquiring into cases under the Act, of summoning witnesses, and generally superintending the district asylums. The Inspector General would be bound to visit the asylums at least twice a year, and to discharge other duties, the details of which would be set forth in the Bill, besides having the control of the medical department. The Sheriffs and the Justices would retain the powers conferred on them by the present Act of Parliament. The general expenses under the Act would be substantially provided for in this way:—The staff of Commissioner, Inspector General, secretary, and clerk, and the office expenses, would be defrayed by Parliament. The expenses of building and repairing lunatic asylums would be arranged in the following manner:—Scotland would be divided into eight districts, under the title of the Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen (which would include Shetland), Perth, Dumfries. Glasgow (embracing the county of Lanark alone), Renfrew, and Stirling districts. In those eight districts the district lunatic asylums would be erected in the first instance by an assessment laid on for the purpose, and the district Boards would be formed by the prison Board within each county electing from itself the members of the District Lunacy Board. The Commissioner, however, would fix the number of the members of which each district Board should consist; the number of members to be elected by each county in that district being regulated by the amount of rate. The district Boards being thus formed, the Commissioner would inquire into the necessity of an asylum, and, if he thought an asylum required to be erected or repaired, he would communicate the matter to the district Board, which Board would have the power of assessing the district. Thus far, as to the erection of the building. With regard to their maintenance, it was believed that they would be self-supporting as far as the counties were concerned. The fees from private persons and the payments by parishes would, to a great extent, relieve the counties from the burden; and where funds were left for the maintenance of lunatics, there would be power to apply these to the purpose of each district asylum, so that to that extent the assessment would be diminished. Where there existed such institutions as those at Montrose and Aberdeen, a power would be given either for the Board to purchase them entirely, or to make an agreement with them for the reception and care of pauper lunatics. There were other provisions of a miscellaneous character. It was proposed that punishment should be enacted for the maltreatment of lunatics. The power possessed by the Board of Supervision to dispense with sending lunatics to asylums would be repealed, because the only necessity for that power arose from the circumstance that there was no proper accommodation in the asylums for them. He did not know that there was anything more he need trouble the House with. Much had been said of the abuses which had taken place in Scotland, but it should be remembered that it was not long ago since scenes such as were described in the Report of the Commissioners might have been witnessed in many parts of England. He trusted that he should be enabled to carry into effect a measure required by the necessities of the country to which it applied, and which would give to an unfortunate class of individuals that relief which was dictated by humanity.


said, a statement had been made on a former occasion, when he was not present, and repeated that night by the learned Lord, that the Bill of 1848, as introduced by Lord Advocate Rutherfurd, was withdrawn in consequence of the almost unanimous opposition which it had met with in that House. [The LORD ADVOCATE: In Scotland.] That statement, as far as the north of Scotland was concerned, was incorrect: on the contrary, that part of the kingdom was unanimously in favour of the measure. Long before Lord Advocate Rutherfurd introduced his Bill, in the year 1847, the gentlemen of the north of Scotland were so deeply impressed with the necessity for establishing a great public lunatic asylum, or asylums, that after repeated abortive applications to Government on the subject, they took the matter into their own hands, and collected a large subscription for the purpose—some of the great proprietors putting down their names for £500, and all of them contributing according to their means. Steps were then taken to secure a site for the building, whereupon Lord Advocate Rutherfurd gave notice of his Bill, and the immediate result was, very naturally, the withdrawal of the subscriptions, as the Bill had the same object in view as the subscribers. The northern proprietors looked anxiously for the passing of the Bill, and their surprize was great when they learned that it was withdrawn. He (Mr. Baillie) had received several remonstrances on the subject from his constituents at the time, and he had waited upon Lord Advocate Rutherford in relation to the subject; but he was assured that the Bill had only been withdrawn for a season, and that it would again be introduced. The north country gentlemen, therefore, were not liable to the charge of opposition to the Bill. But, even if they were—even if the whole of Scotland were opposed to it, that would be no justification of the Government for neglecting their duty, as the question involved was not local but general, casting, as the acts which were complained of did, discredit upon the whole empire. If the Government felt convinced that such a measure was necessary, it was their duty to force it through the House, whatever opposition they might have met with. The present Bill appeared to him to be, in most respects, the same as the Bill which had been introduced by Lord Advocate Rutherfurd. To that Bill he believed that some opposition had been made by Members from the southern counties of Scotland, because they had built asylums of their own; but he was sure that the general principle upon which the present Bill was founded would not meet with any opposition in Scotland.

MR. E. ELLICE (St. Andrew's)

said, he was glad to see that the Government had taken up the question, and he would not have trespassed upon the attention of the House had not the learned Lord Advocate referred to certain animadversions which he (Mr. E. Ellice) had made upon a previous occasion upon the Board of Supervision. The Lord Advocate had stated that the object of the Report of the Commissioners was not to accuse individuals. Now, in his opinion, if any lawyer had to draw an indictment against the Board of Supervision, he could not wish, a more forcible document than the Report of the Commissioners, The whole of that Report was, in fact, a narrative of the law set at defiance, and of facts suppressed by the authorities to which the execution of that law was entrusted. He (Mr. Ellice), therefore, adhered to the remarks he had made on a former night; he reasserted the accusations he then made, and he repeated that if the question was put to a jury, they would come to no other decision than that gross culpability existed on the part of the authorities, and he only regretted that the Government had not had the courage to say, in introducing the Bill, that the Board of Supervision had neglected their duty and had deserved the condemnation of the House. He asked any one to read the statements in the Reports of the Board of Supervision to which he had called the attention of the House, and he would admit that the real facts of the case relating to the treatment of pauper lunatics in Scotland had been suppressed by the Board of Supervision, and that those statements were perfectly irreconcilable with the facts which had been set forth in the Report of the Commissioners, With regard to the out-of-door paupers, what was the language of the Reports? They say— In all the cases in which we have dispensed with removal to an asylum we have provided against abuse, by taking care that there shall be medical attendance, and due attention to the wants and comforts of the patient. That was their language in Report after Report. What greater assurance could the House or the country have, that these lunatics were properly taken care of. But how was this statement to be reconciled with the Report of the Commissioners, which showed that uniformly the pauper lunatics in Scotland had been treated in the most disgraceful manner? What became of the case of the lunatic who was chained by a short chain, two yards long, for thirty years, and fed like a dog? It was impossible, therefore, to say that the Board of Supervision had not suppressed the facts in their Reports. He might have overstated the power of the law in such cases when he addressed the House on a former occasion, but he would still say that the law was humane, and provided that these poor lunatics should be cared for by the parish. At all events, it gave the Board the most ample power of supervision and inspection with reference to lunatic paupers of all descriptions, and that it had not been carried out as it ought to have been was, he maintained, owing to the laxity by which the proceedings of the Board of Supervision had been characterized. With respect to the custody of lunatic paupers in poor-houses, he had that morning read a document to be found in the appendix of the Report, containing the evidence of Mr. Walker the Secretary to that Board, which he must say was one of a most extraordinary nature, inasmuch as any one would be led, if he attached implicit credit to it, to imagine that no grievance whatsoever existed in connexion with the management of those lunatics. The Secretary to the Board of Supervision stated, that the pauper lunatics were well cared for, and that he did not think the Board would sanction their transfer, even in a single instance, from one place to another, merely for the sake of saving a few pounds. He (Mr. Ellice), however, should like to know how that statement was to be reconciled with the fact of lunatic paupers having been removed, for the sake of saving a few pounds, from the Murray Asylum in Perth to a licensed house in East Lothian, where they had very soon died off? The secretary went on to add, that those lunatics who were admitted to the poor-houses were either harmless, imbecile persons, or persons in whose case there was no chance of a cure being effected, and that they were not received into the poor-houses without a warrant from the Sheriffs. But did that evidence tally with the account which had been given by the Commissioners? Why, he held in his hand a list, from which he found that in almost every one of the poor-houses lunatics were confined without any legal warrant whatsoever. Such was the case, for instance, in the poor-house at Dunfermline. Again, in the poor-house at Dumfries there were no less than eight insane persons who had been turned loose among the rest of the inmates without the authority of a warrant, or even of a medical certificate. At Dalkeith two male and ten female paupers, who were insane, were confined, and no separate accommodation had been provided for their use. The charity workhouse of St. Cuthbert contained eighteen male and thirty-nine female insane paupers, who had been admitted into the establishment without any legal warrant, and yet all those places were in the immediate vicinity of the authorities, St. Cuthberts being only half a mile from the room where the Board assembles, and ought, one would suppose, to be under their direct and particular control. Here was a house in which insane paupers were confined indiscriminately with the sane in defiance of the law, and yet the Board of Supervision asserted that their supervision was perfect, and that these paupers were all visited by medical officers. Mr. Walker was a gentleman of high character, yet his statements were controverted and shown to be directly opposed to the fact. In a poor-house only a few hundred yards from his own door, either the members of the Board were sitting still and did not know what was going on, or they wilfully concealed the facts. The Lord Advocate might pass as many laws as he pleased to remedy the present state of things, but he warned him they would be of no avail unless the Executive took care that they were put in execution by the authorities. He had before him a return of the outdoor paupers who were directly under the Board of Supervision, because it was by their means they were allowed the exemption of not residing in the poor-house. It was thought he had some monomania on the subject of the poor law in Scotland; but his conviction was, that the allegations he had brought under the notice of the House were true, and, that if the law were put in force in the spirit in which it was agreed to by the Legislature, it would be sufficient. But his conviction was, that the law was not so put in force, and that the poor were in a different state from what the Legislature contemplated. He had moved for a return of the number of inspections made locally into the condition of the poor in the parishes of Scotland, and he found that, in most of the cases where the greatest grievances existed, the Board of Supervision took credit for visiting those parishes. In one parish in Argyllshire, which was visited by an inspector of the Board of Supervision, no remark was made; but he found that in this parish there were three cases reported on by the Commissioners, in two of which, women of thirty-two and thirty-four years of age respectively, who had been mad from birth, had each had an illegitimate child; and, in the third, a woman of forty-four, who had been fourteen years mad, was reported to be not properly clothed, and not taken care of. If such things could take place without remark, in parishes which had been visited by the Board of Supervision, their inspection was worse than useless—it was mischievous, because it led the public to believe that the lunatic paupers were taken care of, when they were neglected, ill-clad, and ill-fed. In another parish, seven cases of lunacy were reported by the Commissioners, the parties being great objects and very ill attended to. Sir J. M'Neill had himself visited that parish, and if the head of the Board of Supervision overlooked such cases, what security could there be that the poor law was put into proper execution in Scotland? In a Report made two or three years ago, Sir J. M'Neill stated that the whole system of the poor law in Scotland was a recognition of the right to relief, that the poor had a right to take statutory proceedings when they were aggrieved, and that they had facilities for claiming relief which were not known in England or any other countries. This was accepting, on the part of the Board of Supervision, a responsibility which they now had to answer for. He could only say, that if the poor of Scotland had such a protection, they had been most cruelly defrauded of it. He was sorry the Lord Advocate had attempted to defend a state of things that was indefensible. At present the administration of the poor law in Scotland was a mockery and a delusion. As to the Bill introduced that evening by the Lord Advocate, he wished for the present to reserve his Opinion as to its provisions. He certainly was of opinion, that a Board in Edinburgh was most objectionable, seeing what they had got from having a local poor law Board there. His own opinion, and he believed it was shared in by the majority of Scotchmen was, that the Lunacy Board of England, which did its work most admirably, ought to have its power extended to Scotland in the same way as to Wales, with, of course, the assistance of additional machinery. At the same time he was not in the least for relieving the local Boards of their responsibility. There was one point to which the learned Lord Advocate had not alluded, and upon which he hoped he would yet insist—namely, that the whole of those horrid receptacles of filth and oppression, the licensed houses, should be closed against the reception of pauper lunatics. The present horrible system could not be effectually uprooted unless they suppressed those abominations, and placed the whole of their patients in establishments under the direct control of the Board. With regard to the provision requiring the removal of pauper lunatics from their friends, he doubted whether that was a humane regulation in all instances. In many cases of idiotey, for example, where the patient was perfectly harmless, he might very well be left to the custody of his friends—proper care being taken, of course, that he should not be neglected. If the Lord Advocate succeeded in passing this Bill—and certainly the public demanded the introduction of a measure on this subject—he ought to take care that its provisions were put into strict execution.


said, that he had heard with regret the speech of the learned Lord. Its tone resembled the remark of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, who, in allusion to former Motions, of his own on this subject, said "that something occurred, and so the thing went on." Unless the English Members took the trouble to make themselves masters of the details of this Report, and insisted on justice being done to the pauper lunatics of Scotland, there was great danger that the provisions of this Bill never would be enforced, and matters would continue pretty much as they now stood. He (Mr. Drummond) had previously stated that there were ten cases mentioned in the blue-book of direct breaches of the law, which it came within the Lord Advocate's province to punish or correct; but the learned Lord hinted that this was an exaggeration. He had since taken the pains to read over again, not only the Report, but also the Appendix, and he found no fewer than fifteen cases of direct and wilful breaches of the law. He called attention to the Appendix, because, although it was said that these charges were not proved, there was not a single allegation in the Report which the evidence in the Appendix did not support. He had further said, on a former occasion, that the Board of Supervision were chiefly responsible, and that assertion he now repeated. The law directed that the parochial Boards should lodge pauper lunatics in suitable asylums; and when the inspectors reported to the Board of Supervision, the latter body were empowered to act where the local authorities refused to do their duty. The blue-book showed that the sole aim—especially in the houses where the patients were principally paupers—had evidently been to accommodate the greatest possible number at the smallest possible expense. The saving of money to the rate-payers, not the benefit of the poor, was the object sought; and that, among other reasons, made him distrust a separate Board for Scotland. True economy was, no doubt, a very right thing; but what was called economy in Scotland was a prolific source of insanity. He charged the Board of Supervision with being the creators of insanity, and the evidence before the House abundantly established that charge. Pauperism and under-feeding acted powerfully in producing certain kinds of insanity, and many instances might be cited in which the dietary of the poor, especially in the Highland districts, was miserably deficient. The patients in the Lily-bank Asylum, in the Lothians, were under-fed and badly clothed. There were numerous passages to the same effect scattered through the Report. He would quote another:— It never should be forgotten that imperfect nutrition is one of the most frequent causes of insanity among the poor. Now, the dietary of the poor was exclusively under the direction of the Board of Supervision, and as that Board did give insufficient food, they were manifestly more to blame in this matter than any other person in Scotland. But the learned Lord said "True, the treatment of these poor creatures has been atrocious—nothing could be more dreadful; but then, there are doubts as to the construction of the Act, find everybody has done what was right according to the best of his judgment." Whatever their other differences, they were all united on two things—namely, in refusing to obey the law, and in starving the poor. It was all very well to talk of the success of the Lunacy Board in England. He had been in frequent communication with the Lunacy Commissioners in England, and they had informed him that many cases of improper treatment of lunatics existed which they could not correct, because they had no means of obtaining the necessary evidence. That that was a growing evil was apparent from the many advertisements they saw in the newspapers, in which persons offered to receive old gentlemen and ladies of weak minds. Many of these private establishments were unknown to the Lunacy Commissioners, or to the public. A principle totally opposite to that which had hitherto been practised must be introduced, if they wished to see the state of the Scotch lunatics remedied. It was the poor, and not the money of the rate-payers, that ought to receive the first attention. If the Board of Supervision, for the last twenty years, had allowed so many cruelties to be perpetrated, he feared that the present Bill would not be found so efficient as they expected. He owned he had little or no faith in whatever machinery they adopted; for, had there been any wish in the magistrates of Scotland to see the law enforced, the existing law was quite able to protect the poor, and none of these things need have happened.


expressed his thanks to the learned Lord Advocate for his prompt endeavour to remedy a state of things disgraceful to Scotland, and to the empire. At the same time, he must warn him to avoid the mistake of Lord Rutherfurd, and not attempt to confiscate all the existing private institutions, and appropriate them to the service of the State. He referred to those asylums where insane persons of a higher class of society were provided for, and which he believed were conducted in a most unexceptionable manner. This, unfortunately, had been done by his predecessor, and he had thereby raised up an opposition which was fatal to the Bill of 1848. He hoped that, under the Bill, some receptacle would be provided for the criminal lunatics, so as to keep them detached from the others.


felt grateful to the Government for the measure, and could assure them that the Lunacy Commissioners of England would use every endeavour to promote its successful working.


, in reply to the observation, that he had not answered the cases of oppression mentioned by the hon. Member for St. Andrew's, said, that it was impossible to do so, because they were anonymous. The Commissioners had applied for the names for the purpose of investigation, but they were not given. If the inspectors and medical officers appointed by the Board of Supervision to report upon the state of these asylums had failed in the discharge of their duty and misled their employers, surely the whole of the blame of the present condition of Scotch lunatics ought not to be imputed to the Board. From year to year the Board had complained that the law was ineffectual, and it was therefore disgraceful to the Legislature, and not to the Board, that these lunatics were shamefully treated. Parliament was to blame for placing in the hands of the Lunacy Board a machinery which they were unable to work. They were required to see that the pauper lunatics were properly taken care of, and yet there was not accommodation for them provided. Bad as was the state of the lunatics in Scotland, it was a great deal worse when the Board of Supervision began its labours.

Leave given. Bill "to alter and amend the Laws respecting Lunatics in Scotland," ordered to be brought in by the LORD ADVOCATE and Sir GEORGE GREY.

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