HC Deb 09 November 1882 vol 274 cc1102-3

asked the President of the Local Government Board, If his attention has been called to the evils arising from overcrowding in the lunatic wards of workhouses, especially at Saint Pancras and at the Dudley Union Workhouse; whether with reference to the latter he has noticed the following passage in the last Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy, pp. 159, 160:— Attention has been drawn by the Visiting Commissioners for several years past to the overcrowding of the lunatic wards, but it continues to be as great as ever, and nothing has been done, nor as far as I can learn is anything in immediate contemplation with a view to remove or abate the evil which in the male lunatic ward day room is indeed becoming worse every year; whether he has noticed the following extraordinary statement of the Commissioners:— In the dormitories of this ward also the beds are so close that they touch each other at the sides, and the patients have to climb into and out of their beds over the bottom, with other observations of a painful character; and, whether he will take immediate steps to remedy the evils complained of?


My attention has been called to the evils arising from overcrowding in the lunatic wards of the St. Pancras and Dudley Workhouses, and I have not failed to communicate with the Guardians on the subject. As to St. Pancras, the Guardians have, during the present Session, obtained a Bill to acquire land compulsorily for the extension of their workhouse; the plans for remodelling it are now under consideration, and when the alterations are completed I trust that all cause of complaint as to the overcrowding of lunatics will be removed. As regards Dudley, the statement of the Visiting Lunacy Commissioners appeared so serious that the Local Government Board at once directed one of their Inspectors to make a special Report on the workhouse. This Report confirmed that of the Commissioners, and the Board accordingly urged the Guardians to take steps to remedy the existing defects. Plans were submitted which we held to be inadequate. Amended plans have, consequently, been prepared, and these are now under consideration. With respect to workhouses generally, there is no reason to suppose that the lunatic wards are overcrowded; and the Commissioners expressly state that, as a rule, progress is noticeable in the manner in which lunatic inmates are cared for by the Guardians.