HC Deb 21 March 1884 vol 286 cc451-2

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, If his attention has been called to the Reports of the Belfast Board of Guardians of the 11th and 4th. instant, in which was disclosed the heartless treatment of a woman named Higgins, who, though her son was in the infirmary on the point of death, was denied admission to the workhouse on two separate occasions, until he had become unconscious; whether, in pursuance of the Act of Parliament, which provides that the workhouse master shall send for the immediate relatives in cases of urgent necessity like this, the Belfast workhouse master did so act in this case; or, if it is true that he delegated his functions to a pauper to take charge of the gate, and did this pauper actually refer to the book in which the names of dangerous cases are recorded; whether there is a Resolution on the workhouse books in force, prohibiting the employment of pauper labour in all positions of trust; and, will any further steps be taken by the Local Government Board to prevent a recurrence of such gross mismanagement?


, in reply, said, that the Local Government Board had inquired into this matter. It was true the person referred to was twice refused admission; but the Guardians stated that the pauper assistant of the gatekeeper, in refusing the application, did so on his own responsibility, and did not refer the matter to the gatekeeper, as he should have done. The Guardians had removed this pauper assistant, and had taken such steps, by cautioning him, as would make the gatekeeper in future discharge his own duty. The workhouse regulations required the Master, in a case of dangerous sickness, to send for any relation or friend of the sick person, residing within a reasonable distance, whom the sick person might desire to see. In this case, the sick man did not ask that his mother should be sent for; and the father, who was in an adjoining ward, was allowed to visit his son every day, and was with him when he died. The Local Government Board were not aware that there was a resolution on the workhouse books prohibiting the employment of pauper labour in all positions of trust; in fact, the employment of the pauper assistant by the gatekeeper was recognized by the Guardians.