§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, that as the law stood at present an annual subscription of three guineas was required to constitute a governor, and one of twenty guineas to constitute a life governor of a county infirmary. The obvious effect of this provision was to limit the number of 242 subscribers, and the Bill therefore proposed that a subscription of a guinea a year should constitute a governor, and one of ten guineas a life governor. He had, however, inserted a clause securing to those who gave the higher subscriptions a proportionate degree of influence in the elections of medical officers, &c.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Pollard- Urquhart.)
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
(Mr. LAWSON), remarked that the subscription by grand juries in Ireland to county infirmaries was at present optional; but it was proposed by the fourth clause of this Bill to make it incumbent on them in future to present the average annual sum which they had presented for the last ten years. This was a proposal of a most objectionable character, for circumstances might so alter as to render the continuance of the payment inexpedient, and, in fact, in the opinion of the Poor Law Commissioners, the workhouse hospitals had superseded the necessity for these infirmaries. If this clause were to be retained, he should oppose the second reading.
§ MR. BAGWELL
was of opinion that one or two infirmaries of a superior description in the different counties would serve a very useful end by treating serious disorders and accidents with more care than was possible in a local workhouse. Not that he wished to disparage the medical officers of workhouses, many of whom were men of considerable eminence in their profession; but it was well known that in certain cases it was desirable to call in more advice than could be obtained from any one physician in any one place. He did not ask for the revival of the Government grant to the officers of the infirmaries, which bad gradually been allowed to drop, for he was always an advocate for the Irish people doing for themselves what the people of England did in like cases; but he hoped the Government would promise to deal with the subject, and that when the Chief Secretary for Ireland was in his place, which he trusted, after what occurred on Monday night, would be very shortly, a Bill in accordance with what he had shadowed out would be introduced. He would advise the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Pollard-Urquhart) to withdraw his Bill on such an understanding, or else to ask the Chief Secretary in Committee to assist in modifying it in any way that seemed best.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
differed in toto from the opinion which had been expressed that these infirmaries had been superseded by workhouse hospitals. The fact was that they benefited a class of persons who were unable to pay for superior medical advice, but who yet, with a commendable pride, would never enter a workhouse hospital.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, no doubt the absolute necessity for the county infirmaries had been superseded by the Poor Act; but, at the same time, they were highly useful institutions to a certain extent and for a certain class. But the grand juries were in his opinion the best judges as to whether they ought to make presentments for particular infirmaries, and he did not think the House should interfere with their power in that respect. He suggested either the withdrawal of the Bill or the postponement of the second reading, in order to ascertain the views of the Irish Government upon the subject.
§ Motion put, and negatived.