asked the President of the Local Government Board, If it is true, as stated in the local newspapers, that a Catholic pauper inmate of Walsall workhouse named James Hawkins, whose 1711 son, a soldier, was now serving in the Afghan war, was recently allowed to die in the house without the consolations of religion, the master having neglected to send for a clergyman, as was his duty; if the same master, about the time when Hawkins lay dying, prevented the attendant Catholic clergyman from visiting a sick inmate named Blake, because of an altercation which Blake's wife had had with some of the officers, but of which circumstance the clergyman had no cognisance whatever; and, if these statements are substantially true, what notice he proposes to take of such conduct on the part of a workhouse master?
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
Sir, I have made inquiries into the matter, and find it is true that a pauper Catholic recently died in Walsall Workhouse without the consolations of religion; but it can hardly be said that the master neglected his duty, as he was not bound to send for a priest under the consolidated Orders, unless the pauper required it. I do not say he ought not to have sent for a priest; but it is fair to add that a few days before the man died he was told that a priest was in the house, but he declined to see him. It is also time that an altercation took place between the matron and the priest. The wife wanted to visit her husband during the prohibited hours, and when she was not allowed to visit him she sent the priest; but as the priest did not come within the regulations of the house he was not admitted. The matron was not justified in refusing to admit the priest. I have received a communication from the governor of the house, which says that, so far from there being any desire to interfere with the Roman Catholic clergy, every facility consistent with the rules of the house was afforded them.