HC Deb 14 August 1883 vol 283 cc456-7

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether it has been the practice for the patients of the County Down Lunatic Asylum to be allowed to assist neighbouring landlords harvesting; if so, whether the Institution obtained any remuneration for their labour; whether the practice will be resumed this year; and, whether the patients have at any time been employed on the estate of Lord Bangor?


Sir, it has been the practice for some years past for patients in the Down Asylum to be occasionally employed in harvest work on farms adjoining the asylum. They have not been remunerated beyond the extent of getting food and refreshment. In fact, as far as I can gather, it is rather a service on the part of the farmers to find some work for them, in order to give them some occupation and outdoor exercise. They have never worked on Lord Bangor's estate. This employment has been regarded by the patients as a favour and recreation; and it has the approval both of the Inspectors of Lunatics and of the resident Medical Superintendent of the Asylum as being beneficial to their health. It was, of course, done under careful supervision. Fifty acres of land adjoining the Asylum have lately been purchased for farming purposes; and as there will be full employment on this ground for any patients available for such work, the occasional employment outside will be discontinued, as there will no longer be any necessity to seek it.