HC Deb 12 April 1867 vol 186 cc1584-5

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether his attention has been directed to a public letter on the subject of the assignment of a portion of Greenwich Hospital to the use of the "Seamen's Hospital;" and whether he has any objection to state the reasons which have induced the Admiralty to select a quarter described to be the most unsuitable, upon sanitary grounds and general convenience, for the accommodation of sick and infirm sailors?


said, he was very glad his hon. Friend had given him the opportunity of disabusing the public mind of the most unfounded impression which the letter to which he alluded was calculated to convey. The writer of the letter, adverting to an undertaking on the part of the Board before he (Mr. Corry) went to the Admiralty, said, "Since then there was a new Lord;" but he omitted to state that the new Lord of the Admiralty had been the first to urge on the late Government to assign a portion of Greenwich Hospital to the use of the Seamen's Hospital; therefore, it was not likely that he should be the person to throw any obstructions in the way. When he went to the Admiralty his right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for War had, according to the usual course, called on the Medical Director General and the Admiralty Director of Works to report on the subject; and, as the matter had created some agitation, he might, perhaps, be allowed to read one or two extracts from their Reports. The letter to The Times stated— The Admiralty have now the assurance to offer to the Seamen's Hospital Society a part of Queen Mary's quarter, which for the reasons I am about to describe is wholly unsuited as a hospital for the sick, and which the Admiralty know perfectly well cannot possibly be accepted by the society. Now, he held in his hand the Report of the Medical Director General, one of the ablest and most experienced Medical Officers in Her Majesty's service. He said— I previously visited the Dreadnought in order to ascertain the probable amount of accommodation that would be required. I next, accompanied by the Captain Superintendent and the Medical Inspector General, examined the entire range of buildings in Greenwich Hospital known as Queen Anne's, facing the east, and Queen Mary's, also facing the east and south. In the first-mentioned range of buildings the wards or floors are divided longitudinally by a massive wall, and again subdivided by wooden partitions into small cabins or compartments, each capable of containing two beds. These, though they may have been suitable for old men in good health, are by no means suited to the kind of patients admitted into the Seamen's Hospital, even if all the cabins and bulkheads were removed. Besides, in this quarter there is no kitchen or means of cooking for so many patients. On the opposite side of the public road which passes through the hospital is Queen Mary's quarter, forming an angle facing east and south. The ground-floor in the eastern portion contains an excellent kitchen, in good repair and fit for use, capable of cooking for 800 men, with a good scullery, laundry, and washhouse, ample cellerage, and store rooms. It also contains a large number of baths, besides foot-baths, with an abundant supply of hot and cold water. In the first, second, and third stories above the ground-floor, extending round to the centre of the portion facing the school-ground, there are nine large wards, capable of containing upwards of 300 patients. I would, therefore, for these reasons, beg to propose that the portion of the building called Queen Mary's quarter, with the exception of the western half of the south block, might be offered to the Committee of the Seamen's Hospital. The Director of Works generally concurred in this Report. He might also state that the letter in The Times had been laid before the Board, and they decided to write to the Lord President of the Council and request him to permit Mr. Simon, the Medical Officer of the Privy Council, to visit Greenwich Hospital and give his advice on the subject. As soon as the Board receive his Report they will pronounce their decision, but that decision will not be at all influenced by the anonymous letter which appeared in The Times.