§ MR. M'LAREN
asked, Whether the Lord Advocate's attention has been called to the fact that the local Poor 1029 Law authorities in Stromness having unanimously appointed a woman to be Inspector of the Poor for that parish, the Board of Supervision in Edinburgh cancelled the appointment, although the woman had performed all the duties to the entire satisfaction of the parish for several years previously, in place of her father, who nominally held the office, but from the state of his health could not perform the duties; and, to inquire whether there is any Law disqualifying a woman from being appointed to the office of Poor Law Inspector in such a parish as Stromness?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
Sir, this Question refers to the conduct of the Board of Supervision in dismissing from the office of Inspector of the Poor a woman who had been appointed to that office by the Parochial Board of the parish. I have to inform my hon. Friend that this matter is not one with which I have any duty or authority to interfere. Nevertheless, I have communicated with the Chairman of the Board of Supervision, and requested an explanation of the circumstances of the case. Prom the answer returned, it appears that in the first instance the Chairman of the Parochial Board sought the opinion of the Board of Supervision as to the competency of making the appointment of a female to such an office. The Board of Supervision, without expressing an opinion as to the legal question involved, informed the Chairman of the Parochial Board that the appointment of a female was unprecedented, and in the opinion of the Board of Supervision inexpedient. In spite of that, the Parochial Board appointed a female. Now, the Scotch Poor Law Act vests in the Parochial Board the sole power of appointing a suitable person as Poor Law Inspector; but under another section of that Act the Board of Supervision has the power to dismiss any person who may be incompetent to discharge the duties of the office. The whole subject was very carefully considered by the Board of Supervision, and they came to the conclusion, upon the general question, that a female was not a fit or competent person to discharge the duties of an Inspector of the Poor Law, and therefore they had no alternative but to dismiss the female who had been appointed by the Stromness Board. The matter is entirely within the jurisdiction of the Board of 1030 Supervision, which is not a Department of the Government, but an independent statutory Board, whose proceedings are not interfered with by the Government, but who are subject to any complaint which may be made against them. As to the abstract legal question involved in the matter, as the Board of Supervision has not passed an opinion, I hope my hon. Friend will not think me wanting in respect if I also decline to pass any opinion on that subject.