HC Deb 24 November 1884 vol 294 cc264-5

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether (in spite of his assurance last Session that the cause of complaint should be removed) the representations of the Local Government Board to the Sheffield Board of Guardians in respect of the Roman Catholic inmates of the workhouses there have remained practically disregarded; and, whether his Department is prepared to vindicate the Law in this respect, and also the religious rights of the Catholic poor in question?


The Board, on the 12th of August last, wrote to the Guardians of the Sheffield Union, expressing their view as to the importance of permitting those inmates of the workhouse for whom a service according to their own creed is not provided in the workhouse to attend religious service on each Sunday, instead of on alternate Sundays as proposed by the Guardians, and urging the Guardians to amend their regulations so as to provide for this. The Board, receiving no reply, wrote to the Guardians again on the 4th of September. They were then informed that the Board's letters had been referred to a committee, and that the subject was under consideration; and that, on the committee reporting, the determination of the Guardians would be communicated without delay. Receiving no further communication, the Board wrote again to the Guardians on the 31st of October; and as they received no answer, they arranged for one of their Inspectors to attend a meeting of the Guardians. He attended the meeting held on Wednesday last; and I regret to state that, although the workhouse committee reported in favour of such an amendment as the Board desired, the Guardians determined to adhere to the arrangements which they had made as to alternate Sundays. The Board, having regard to the distinct refusal of the Guardians to allow the inmates such rights as to attendance at Divine Worship as the Statute contemplates, considered that they had no alternative but to issue a compulsory order in the matter, and before this notice appeared the directions for the issue of such an order were given. The order was signed on Saturday, and will be issued to-day.