HC Deb 30 June 1884 vol 289 cc1672-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Did Mr. Richard Tipping Hamilton, Local Government Inspector hold a sworn inquiry in the union workhouse, Ballycastle, county Antrim, on Saturday the 21st instant, into a complaint made by the Protestant chaplain, regarding the religious registration of two inmates; did Mr. Hamilton, at the meeting of the Board of Guardians held the same day before the inquiry, read a letter he had received from Mrs. General Boyd, Bally-castle, in which Mrs. Boyd complained that she and her daughters were pro-vented from distributing religious tracts, &c. in the workhouse by the master; is it true that Mrs. Boyd's late husband bequeathed an annuity for the support of a professional scripture reader, and that that scripture reader visited the workhouse accompanied by Mrs. Boyd's daughters for the purpose of distributing religious tracts, and was prevented from doing so by the master; did Mr. Hamilton hold two other inquiries, one on the 28th of March 1866 and the other on the 30th of October 1867, in the same workhouse, into matters of dispute arising from the evangelical visits of other ladies, and was he (Mr. Hamilton) made thereby aware that such visitations had heretofore been a source of heartburning in the Ballycastle Workhouse; and did Mr. Hamilton, notwithstanding, write a resolution at the meeting of the Board of Guardians, on the 21st instant, and ask the Board to pass it, to the effect that Mrs. Boyd, her daughters, and other ladies should be admitted into the workhouse for the purpose of distributing religious books, tracts, &c. among the inmates; and, did Mr. Hamilton thereby exceed his duty as Local Government Inspector; did he act contrary to the Poor Law Act (1 and 2 Vic. c. 56, s. 48 and 49), which, by enumerating only the official chaplains and other regular ministers of the persuasion of the inmates as authorised to visit workhouses to give religious assistance to the inmates, excludes all others, and contrary to the wishes of the Local Government Board; and, if so, what action does the Local Government Board intend to take in the case?


Mr. Hamilton held an inquiry as stated in the first paragraph of the Question. At the meeting of the Board of Guardians held on the same day, Mr. Hamilton read a letter which he had received from Mrs. Boyd complaining that the master of the workhouse had prevented her from giving books to Protestant inmates whom she visited. The master appears to have acted in accordance with a rule made by the Guardians some years ago. In the course of the conversation which ensued Mr. Hamilton mentioned the arrangements which exist in most other workhouses in his district, under which ladies are allowed to visit the sick of their own persuasion and give them books, provided that no sectarian or controversial work is given. It is not the case that Mr. Hamilton framed a resolution with the object of permitting ladies to distribute religious books at Ballycastle. On the contrary, though asked to do so, he declined, saying it was for the Guardians themselves to deal with the matter. A resolution was subsequently proposed but was not carried. Mr. Hamilton held the inquiries referred to in 1866 and 1867, and was aware of what occurred then. He did not act in the manner imputed to him in the Question, and the Local Government Board do not think that he exceeded his duty in bringing Mrs. Boyd's letter before the Guardians, or that the course suggested by his remarks would have been an infringement of the Poor Relief Acts. The Local Government Board know nothing of the alleged annuity referred to in the third part of the Question.