HC Deb 23 June 1879 vol 247 cc419-20

asked Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, In what respects the position of poor law medical relief in Scotland differs so materially from that of England as to justify a smaller proportionate Grant in aid; and, whether, if the Scotch system requires amendment, it may not be amended and satisfaction given to Scotland in the matter without waiting for the Poor Law (Scotland) Amendment Bill?


Sir, in England, the Guardians are required, by the orders of the Local Government Board, made under the Poor Law Act, to appoint a medical officer for every workhouse, and also a separate medical officer for each relief district—of which there may be several —within the Union. Their districts are arranged under the sanction of the Board, and cannot be altered without such sanction. The duties of these officers are prescribed by the Local Government Board under statutory power, and their approval of every appointment is likewise required. The officers hold their appointments for life, and can only be dismissed by or with the consent of the Local Government Board. The only legal provision in Scotland as regards Poor Law medical officers is that every parish or combination is required, out of the funds raised for the relief of the poor, to provide for medicine and medical attendance for the poor in such manner and to such extent as may seem equitable and expedient. There is a grant in aid of £10,000 for medical officers in Scotland, which is distributed by the Board of Supervision, who require that a medical officer should be appointed in all cases where the grant is awarded. The Board of Supervision, however, exercise no control over the appointments, the salaries, or the tenure of office, nor can they prescribe the duties. The Board of Supervision might, no doubt, prescribe conditions under which the grant would be made, and withhold it where those conditions were not complied with; but, without legislation, it is quite clear that medical Poor Law appointments in Scotland could not be put upon the same footing as in England.