HC Deb 31 March 1887 vol 313 cc63-4

asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether his attention has been drawn to the report of a meeting of the Stratford-upon-Avon Board of Guardians, appearing in The Daily Chronicle of 19th March, at which it was stated by the clerk of the Board, that it was distinctly illegal for Guardians to inspect the workhouse unless accompanied by the master thereof; whether it is a common practice in Poor Law Unions to prevent Guardians from visiting the workhouses, unless they be on a visiting rota, and give notice of their intended visits to the master of the workhouse; and, whether, if such be the case, he will take care to put the visiting powers of Guardians on a more satisfactory footing?

THE PRESIDENT (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)

I have seen the report alluded to, which appears to have reference to the visit to the workhouse of an individual Guardian, who, on a Sunday, entered the workhouse by a back door while religious service was being conducted in the workhouse chapel. The Visiting Committee of a Board of Guardians may inspect the workhouse at all times; and the Guardians can confer similar power on an individual Guardian, whether or not he is a member of the Committee. Without the authority of the Guardians an individual Guardian, whether or not a member of the Committee, has, in strictness, no legal right to visit the workhouse. The master or matron need not necessarily accompany the Visiting Committee when visiting the workhouse, and it is quite competent to the Committee to direct the officer not to do so if, for any special reason, they desire this; but, as a general rule, it is desirable that the Committee or individual Guardian, when visiting the wards, should be accompanied by one of those officers. The Guardians have full power with regard to authorizing visits to the workhouse by individual Guardians, and I see no reason for any alteration in the law on subject.