HC Deb 24 May 1878 vol 240 cc640-3

who had a Notice on the Paper— To call attention to the Order in Council removing the Mayor of Limerick from the Governorship of the Lunatic Asylum, Limerick; and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient in Orders in Council appointing Governors of Lunatic Asylums to observe the old practice of appointing the Mayors of cities; said, that he did not consider the subject one on which it would be necessary to put the House to the trouble of a division, even if the Rules would have permitted him. It was, however, one in which a great deal of interest was taken in the city he had the honour to represent. It was an illustration of a form of government too common in Ireland, and which was most mischievous. It related to the removal of the mayor and certain members from the places they had long occupied on the Governing Body of the Limerick Lunatic Asylum. In 1821 an Act was passed under which that asylum was constituted; and the then Lord Lieutenant by Order in Council, appointed certain persons to be governors of it; but there were to be four ex-officio governors—namely, the Mayor of Limerick, the Recorder of the City, the Bishop of the Established Church, and the Archdeacon, and so things continued till 1876; and then the Irish Church having been disestablished there came forth another Order in Council displacing all ex-officio governors, and, consequently, the Mayor of Limerick—and the Mayor of Cork was in the same position—was not allowed to take his seat at the Board of Governors. Even if it were necessary to displace the Bishop and Archdeacon from the governorship of the Limerick Asylum, because the Church was disestablished, he could not understand why it was necessary to displace the mayor. He considered that in this matter there had been a design to cast an unnecessary and undeserved slur upon municipal authorities and institutions in Ireland. Now, what he would ask of the present Lord Lieutenant, or those who represented him in that House—and he wished to say that he believed the present Lord Lieutenant had a sincere desire to conciliate the people of Ireland—whether something could not be done to remove the impression which prevailed? The Corporations, as the representatives of the people, contributed to the funds necessary for the maintenance of district lunatic asylums; and he saw no reason why the mayors, as the heads of such Corporations, should not be members of the Governing Boards. The principle upon which the government of Ireland had been conducted seemed to be to thwart the proper hopes and aspirations of the Irish people to have a part in the management of their own affairs, and it was this that he wished to see altered. This was a trifling thing, but it should be remembered that the lives of nations, like those of individuals, were made up of little things. From the year 1822, down to that of 1876, there was, in the person of the mayor, a representation of the ratepayers upon the Board of Governors; but under the Order in Council there was none, and he would urge that some independent person should be introduced. Why should they not wait for the passing of the County Government Bill before a matter of this kind took place, it might be urged? but he was unwilling to let matters remain until that measure had passed. If the principle were admitted, why not in the interval remove the evil of which they complained? To the County Boards there would be elected members, and he thought that the Corporations should be allowed to elect members to these Asylum Boards. As the matter stood, the people of Limerick complained that a slight had been thrown upon the office and dignity of the mayor, and upon the municipal authorities; and he hoped that something would be done to replace the mayor in the position which he formerly held on this Board—a position for which he was eminently quail fied—and thus remove the stigma which had been cast upon municipal authorities.


said, that he must first express, what he felt to be the general feeling which existed in the House, when he stated that he was glad to see the hon. and learned Gentleman once more amongst them; and he was also glad to think that upon the first occasion on which it had fallen to his (Mr. Lowther's) lot to reply officially to any question raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman that the difference between them was not one that would be very marked, or that would be difficult of arrangement. The hon. and learned Gentleman had called attention to an Order in Council under which mayors in Ireland were no longer constituted ex-officio governors of the lunatic asylums; but he (Mr. Lowther) would remind the House that in the Grand Jury Bill that question had been dealt with, and, as far as that measure was concerned, he might say, in order to show the spirit in which the Government had approached the subject, that two-thirds of the governors of lunatic asylums were to be elected by Grand Juries, County Boards, and the Corporations which contributed to the maintenance of the district asylums. That provision would sweep away the system under which the Government appointed those governors, and introduce anew one; and, therefore, the Order in Council to which reference had been made would share the same fate. The Government recognized the importance of consulting the opinions of municipalities, and by vesting, as they proposed to do, the election of a considerable number of the Governors in the municipal corporations, they had shown, he thought, that they had respect for municipal institutions. There was a good deal to be said in support of the view taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman; but he had hoped that the matter would be left until they had dealt with the Grand Jury Bill. As far as the Mayor of Limerick was concerned, he (Mr. Lowther) had not the pleasure of knowing anything personally of him, but from what he had heard he had no doubt that he was eminently qualified for the position he held; and if, upon inquiry, he found there was any particular grievance personal to himself in regard to the way in which that had been carried out, he would take an opportunity of consulting with the Lord Lieutenant and endeavour to rectify it. He (Mr. Lowther) regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman had been away from the House, because his assistance would have been very valuable in expediting the progress of the Grand Jury Bill; but that now he had returned, it was hoped that they would have the advantage of his help. So far as the Government were concerned, they would endeavour to remove any cause of complaint which might be supposed to exist. They certainly had no intention to vex the national spirit; but, on the other hand, every desire to act in a conciliatory spirit, with a view to the removal of any real grievance.


congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland on the manner in which he had met his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Butt), and trusted it would form a precedent which he would follow in the conduct of the business of the important Office he held. He had to complain of the Order in Council, that it seemed to have been framed in a most bungling manner by some under official, who, having been credited with a discretion he never possessed, had naturally fallen into error in performing the duty.


trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would consider the precisely analogous case of the Mayor of Cork, and that in a like case a like rule would be adopted. Until the recent change in the Privy Council rates the Mayor of Cork was invariably an ex-officio Governor, and as the Corporation of Cork had since the erection of the Asylum been regularly paying a considerable portion of the cost, they always had, and very properly, a representative on the Board. There ought to be no great difficulty in framing new rules for the object now required, and, if necessary, amending the existing Act, so as to confer power on the Lord Lieutenant to appoint some members of the Corporation as Governors, not for life, but during their term of office as town councillors.