HC Deb 31 July 1883 vol 282 cc1149-50

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether, in view of the enforcement of the provisions of the Contagious Diseases Acts, and of the great increase of disease that has taken place in our seaport towns, as well as the abandonment by the Government of all legislation upon the subject this year, he can assure the House that, as far as lies in the power of the Government, police assistance shall be given, as heretofore, to enforce the Law; and that, pending future legislation, the health and efficiency of our Army and Navy shall not suffer by the departmental negligence of the Executive during the Recess?


asked the Prime Minister, Whether he is not aware that it is not only the health and efficiency of the Army and Navy, but the morality of those towns which were heretofore protected, that is suffering to an alarming extent, owing to the withdrawal of the provision for compulsory examination; that, in fact, there are hundreds of young girls and women on the streets of those towns who dare not have carried on their immoral trade had the Acts been in force?


in reply, said, he was aware that the restrictions of the Acts, whatever they were, operated upon the population of the places subject to the Acts as well as on the troops who might constitute the garrison of those places; but if the assertion which the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Price) conveyed in his Question were correct, it appeared to him (Mr. Gladstone) that it raised another question—as to whether the attention of the police had been properly directed to that state of facts, for they would have power to deal with such abuses as they arose. In answer to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Eustace Cecil), he had to say that he had consulted with his noble Friend the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington); and he was of opinion, with his noble Friend, that the time which had elapsed since the Resolution against the compulsory provisions of the Act was adopted by the House did not disclose a state of things sufficient to warrant the Government in arriving at any positive conclusion, or in undertaking to announce any particular course of action. Comparing the increase which had taken place in subjected and non-subjected districts, the utmost effect which might be attributed to the suspension was that, of a strength of 40,000, there had been 27 additional admissions per week. Without further information as to the stations from which troops had lately come—Egypt, for instance—it was impossible to say how much disease was to be ascribed to the change which had been made. Some part of the increase, however, might he explained by the circumstances surrounding the removal of troops to different places. He would not, therefore, give an assurance that the same practice would have been adopted if the Resolution had not been passed. With respect to the last Question of the noble Lord, undoubtedly there would be no departmental negligence during the Recess on the part of the Executive.


asked whether the Government would allow local authorities, upon application, to have the assistance of the Metropolitan Police?


asked that Notice might be given of the Question.