§ (1.) £133,823, to complete the sum for the Local Government Board.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
I wish to call the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board to a question of considerable importance —namely, the frequent occurrence of blindness in this country among the children of the poor. At the time the last census was taken there were 22,833 blind persons in England and Wales, and I think something ought to be done to diminish, if possible, the misery which must result from this cause. It has been calculated by high authority that about 30 per cent of the cases of blindness occur from ophthalmia in newly born children, who are allowed to become blind through the negligence or ignorance of their parents. I think it is in the power of the Local Government Board to bring the gravity of what in the first instance may appear to be a comparatively slight ailment under the notice of parents. Some time since the President of the Local Government Board was approached by the late Sir Jacob Behrens, of Bradford, with a suggestion, that when the Registrar of a district gave to the parents of newly-born children the registration or vaccination notice, he should be allowed at the same time to distribute a card, such as was issued by the Eye Hospital at Bradford, calling the attention of the parents to the gravity of ophthalmia. It was believed, if this were done, that this ophthalmia would come in for timely treatment, and that the serious loss of sight of 7,000 persons would be prevented. It is a national loss because the persons so afflicted instead of being producers, become more or less burdens upon society. I want the President of the Local Government Board to undertake that the registrars shall be empowered to distribute at the same time as the notice of Registration or vaccination such a card as is issued with great benefit by the Bradford Eye Hospital. It contains the fol- 1713 lowing very simple instructions in reference to newly-born infants. "If the eyes become red and begin to run with matter, take the child at once to a doctor. The disease is very dangerous indeed if not seen to at once. It destroys the sight of both eyes" This is very well known to people who are educated, but the masses of the poor do not possess the same knowledge, and the consequence is that a large number of children are allowed to grow up deprived of sight from negligence and inattention when they are infants. It has been contended on the part of the Registrar General and the Local Government Board that, inasmuch as the parents do not get the notices of registration or of vaccination until some weeks after the birth of the child, the damage would be done in the meantime. I quite admit the validity of that argument as regards a great many cases, but if only one per cent of the children afflicted were saved, we should be doing a great benefit to them and, indirectly, to the general community; while at the same time there would be brought to bear an educational process of a most valuable character. It would probably be enough to have printed at the head of the vaccination notice in red letters some simple instructions, and in many cases we should be able to prevent the needless sacrifice of one of the most precious of the senses. I do not suppose that we should save all those who are annually afflicted; if we succeeded in saving one-seventh we should have conferred an incalculable benefit upon the community.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
I entirely appreciate the object the hon. Gentleman has in bringing this matter under the attention of the Local Government Board, and I also value the suggestion he has made. I need hardly say that if the Local Government Board could do anything that would have the effect of diminishing the spread of ophthalmia, and the consequent danger to sight, which the hon. Member has described, we should be very glad to do so. I understand the proposal is that when the parent registers the birth of the child, it is to be the duty of the Registrar to give a formal notification of the danger of ophthal- 1714 mia with the vaccination notice. When the question was brought before the Board previously by Sir Jacob Behrens, it was referred to the Registrar General, who is subject to the jurisdiction of the Local Government Board, and the objection which the Registrar General raised was that the duty suggested was something quite foreign to the duties the Registrars have undertaken to discharge. At that time it was proposed that a separate paper should be issued, but the suggestion now is that the intimation should be printed on the vaccination notices. As against that I would point out that the notification with respect to vaccination is a notification of an imperative duty, and it might, perhaps, lead to misunderstanding if along with and as part of the notice there appeared a recommendation which it was optional on the part of the parent to adopt. However, I admit that if we can do anything in the matter we ought to do it. I will, therefore, consider whether the objections which have been raised are really insurmountable, and I assure the hon. Member that I will further consider whether anything can be done in furtherance of of the object he has in view.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER
Will the right hon. Gentleman be willing to try the experiment in one town? I quite understand the objection he has raised in reference to the vaccination paper, but a notice printed in red ink would attract attention. When there exists such a serious amount of disease, and a disease attended by such grave consequences to the children who survive, if we can do anything to lessen the evil so far as future generations are concerned it is our bounden duty to do it. I will, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman to try the the experiment in any one town he may select.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I must ask the hon. Member to remain content with the assurance I have given, all the more as I have not by any means exhausted the objections. There are many other diseases to which proper attention is not paid by parents at the right time, and if special measures are taken in respect of this particular disease, there will be many other demands in a like direction.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman need 1715 have the least fear that there will be any considerable demand for other medical notices, and that I take it, is one of the objections of the Registrar General. Unfortunately this is a disease, the gravity of which the people do not understand, and it is one which is attended with the most serious consequences. The right hon. Gentleman has approached me with a certain amount of fair-mindedness, and I hope that next year something will be done to prevent what I cannot help regarding as a national calamity.
§ *MR. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)
, complained that in some of the workhouse infirmaries imbeciles, whose habits were repulsive or disgusting, were placed in the same wards with the ordinary patients.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
I wish on this vote to draw attention to the question of the vaccination of children in workhouses within two or three days after birth. I regret that the President of the Local Government Board should decline to interfere with the system which has been adopted very largely in the Metropolis. That the Local Government Board are responsible for the system and could put an end to it is shown by the circular they addressed to Boards of Guardians in 1881, advising this early vaccination. I have received a letter from a former Vaccination Officer of one of the largest towns outside London, who stated that formerly—The Public Vaccinator had the children brought to him from the workhouse from four to six days old. Afterwards a Resident Medical Officer was appointed who declined to vaccinate the workhouse children till three months old. I took the Registrar's returns for two periods—one month after vaccination—and found the deaths to be nearly 50 per cent in favour of the Resident Doctor's plan, clearly showing that many deaths must have occurred consequent upon too early vaccination.The other day I called attention by means of a question to the case of a child described as extremely feeble, which was vaccinated three days after birth, and died a month afterwards. The doctor who carried out the operation stated on oath at the inquest that the mother of the child consented, but the mother distinctly stated on oath that her consent was not obtained. In regard to this particular case to which I drew the attention of the right hon. Gentle- 1716 man the other day, the doctor of the St. Giles's Workhouse, in replying to a medical paper which somewhat sharply criticized his conduct, stated that—The immediate cause of death was convulsions, probably brought on by intestinal irritation.But I would like to point out that Dr. Ballard, a very strong friend of vaccination, in an essay published in 1868, stated that a French authority, Bousquet, held—That the cutaneous excitation [from vaccination] was apt to show itself in the form of erysipelas and roscola, and in infants very young indeed, the intestines sympathized, and enteritis or diarrhœa might result.The Hospital Gazette, commenting on this case, says:—Whatever one's opinion may be as to the merits of vaccination, no one can say that the risks of an outbreak of smallpox in St. Giles's Workhouse were so urgent as to justify the doctor in vaccinating the child before it was a week old, and that, too, without the mother's consent. Such indiscretions as this are calculated to bring vaccination into unmerited contempt.Of course the justification of early vaccination is that possibly the small pox may get into a workhouse, where there are always many young children, and may produce a very serious epidemic. But there are other dangers. Dr. Crichton, in his article on this subject, draws attention to the fact that—In Foundling Hospitals, notably at St. Petersburgh, the erysipelas of vaccination has been the starting-point of disastrous epidemics affecting the inmates generally.Erysipelas is far more likely to occur after vaccination than small-pox is likely to occur in a workhouse not specially liable to infection. We all know what great care is taken by our medical men in regard to the vaccination of our own children. They wait to see what the constitution of' the child is, and not till they are sure the constitution is strong enough do they vaccinate. There is a very strong opinion among the highest medical authorities that a child is best fit for vaccination at a period of about half way between the birth and the time of dentition. Most of the children born in workhouses are not legitimate. A poor woman goes into one of these places and gives birth to a child, and she is, a few hours after, utterly incapable of forming an opinion as to the period when vaccination should 1717 take place. The right hon. Gentleman, in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for the Ilkeston Division, has just been dwelling on the notices carefully served on parents to vaccinate. But in such cases as this there is no notice whatever. To say that her consent is obtained is a mere farce, and it seems to me that very great hardship is caused both to the parent and the child. It is obvious that in many cases some serious malady may be breeding in the body of the child, and it is difficult to say whether any doctor on earth can discover it when the child is only two or three days old. Undue risk is inflicted on the child by such early vaccination, which really sets aside the principle of the Vaccination Act, fixing three months as the period after which the penalty for non-vaccination shall be enforced. I must, therefore, condemn the practice, and unless the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board indicates an intention of issuing some order discouraging it, I shall be compelled to move the reduction of the Vote and take the sense of the Committee upon the question.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I do not think the Local Government Board has any power to issue such an order as that. The matter is in the discretion of the Guardians, on whom lie the responsibility of carrying out the law, and the Local Government Board has no power of interference. The hon. Gentleman says it is owing somewhat to the advice of the Local Government Board that this practice has been adopted. Certainly the Local Government Board has never given any advice which would justify the Guardians in doing either of the things of which the hon. Gentleman complains. He says that young children are frequently vaccinated without the consent of the mother. That, I distinctly assert, ought not to be done, and certainly it is not done under the advice of the Local Government Board. In my opinion, no child ought to be vaccinated within the period of three months allowed by law without the consent of the parents. At the same time, I think it extremely desirable that the child should be vaccinated at such a period as will enable the sore caused by vaccination to be healed before the child leaves the 'workhouse. In a large number of cases 1718 the children born in workhouses are illegitimate, and when the mother goes out it is extremely doubtful whether any trace can be found to enable the authorities to see that the law is complied with. We have frequently had investigations by Inspectors of the Local Government Board which show that the ill-health, and sometimes the death of the child is caused by the neglect on the part of the parents to see that the arm is properly looked after. A certain percentage of children do, no doubt, suffer from erysipelas after vaccination, but in nine cases out of ten that is owing to the child's being brought into an erysipelatic atmosphere. Vaccination ought not to be performed at such an early period without the consent of the parent, and in no ease where there is danger to the child. The doctor ought to satisfy himself that the child is in a condition of bodily health which renders it perfectly safe to perform the operation. In the case referred to by the hon. Gentleman, the Board was informed that the consent of the mother had been obtained before the vaccination of the child, and the statement that there was any unfortunate result from the vaccination has not been substantiated. There is no power vested in the Local Government Board to issue instructions to the Guardians, though we have given advice that the children should be vaccinated before they leave the workhouse. With respect to the case referred to by my hon. Friend (Mr. C. Gray), I sent down an Inspector, who reported that there were five imbeciles in the infirmary, but that there was no pregnant woman with the imbeciles. I quite agree that the association of women in that condition with imbeciles is most undesirable, and I will take steps to put a stop to such a state of things if it be brought to my notice. The Inspector reported that the imbeciles were of an unobjectionable character, and the other inmates of the infirmary said they had no objection to make. It should not be forgotten that the Lunacy Commissioners have jurisdiction over such imbeciles as well as the Local Government Board, and it would be the duty of the Lunacy Commissioners, if they found any abuse of the kind existing, to at once order the removal of the patients from the workhouse infirmary. It would be the duty of the Local Government Board 1719 Inspector to draw the attention of the Lunacy Commissioners to any such abuses as the hon. Member has referred to.
§ *MR. C. W. GRAY (Essex, Maldon)
I have had a long-standing experience of the very ward to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, and I know that many of the imbeciles bad the most objectionable habits. However, after what the right hon. Gentleman has said, I trust Guardians will be more careful in the future.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, whilst showing the most kindly feeling and the best intentions, has not, I think, sufficiently answered the case as presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton. The right hon. Gentleman said the Local Government Board had no power. But, Sir, the Board exercises power continually, or exercises a description of pressure which amounts to very much the same thing. I hold in my hand a printed copy of a letter signed by the Secretary and dated front the Local Government Board, Whitehall, January 7th, 1881, and sent apparently to the clerks of all Guardians throughout the country. In this letter the greatest pressure appears to be brought to bear upon the Guardians to see that newly-born children are vaccinated before they leave the workhouse at the end of the fortnight. The letter states that some Boards of Guardians had passed a resolution requiring the Medical Officer, subject to the exercise of his judgment, and making exceptions in particular cases, to secure the vaccination of all children born in the workhouse, as soon as practicable after birth, and further that it had been found practicable as a rule to vaccinate the children when six days old. I hold, therefore, that the Local Government Board is responsible for the initiation and continuation of this practice. Oftentimes, as we all know, the most unexpected changes take place in the health of young children, and some who are apparently strong to begin with are taken with some serious illness. Nothing is more uncertain than the health of a young baby, especially when born in the circumstances which have been referred to. 1720 In more than one case in my own experience, the vaccination has been put off for a year or more after birth. Our own children are dealt with in a very different way from those of poor parents, and I maintain that a very great hardship is inflicted on the poor parents. The right hon. Gentleman says that in all cases the consent of the mother must be obtained. But in this instance evidence was given at the Coroner's inquest, by the mother herself, that she did not know her child was to be vaccinated. It is, of course, open to the Medical Officer to interpret the silence of the mother in such circumstances as giving consent, but it seems to me to be a very illegitimate mode of interpreting such silence. It has often been said that the proper way of enforcing vaccination is to take the child out of the recalcitrant mother's arms and put it into the arms of the doctor. The reply made is, that public opinion in this country will not stand that—that public opinion will stand the infliction of fines again and again, but will not stand recourse to such violent measures as that. I maintain, however, that incidents like that which has been referred to are simply the thin end of the wedge. You begin with violently taking away the child from the mother in the workhouse, and if that is not protested against perhaps some plan will be proposed of taking away the children of other mothers in the same way. I therefore think it is only the right thing to protest earnestly against what took place in this case, and as I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has sufficiently indicated appreciation of the gravity of the position, I am rather disappointed that my hon. Friend has not moved the reduction of the Vote. I desire to protest against what I call the cruel and unconstitutional arbitrariness of taking away a delicate child from the mother in order that it may undergo an operation of this kind which has the effect of causing its death.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I wish to protest against the statement of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton), that the death of the child referred to was due to vaccination; because that is not the fact.
§ *MR. CHANNING
At any rate it was an improper thing to vaccinate a 1721 child in the state of health in which it then was.
§ *MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I desire for a few moments to call attention to the question of the emigration of pauper children, and I have to complain that the intentions of Parliament and the Local Government Board in regard to the emigration of pauper children are continually being frustrated. For years past there has been a general opinion in this country that there is no better way of dealing with that portion of the population than by emigration, and yet year after year next to nothing is being done in that direction. I am informed that last year out of a total of 60,000 pauper children only 600 were emigrated, or at the rate of 1 per cent. I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman opposite sympathises with my view that the best way of dealing with those pauper children who are left as orphans is to send them out to places where they may find comfortable homes, and I wish to ask why it is that the intentions of Parliament and the Local Government Board in this matter are so constantly frustrated? Compare the children who are sent out with those who are kept at home. Pauper children are kept in this country at an average cost to the ratepayers of £20 a year, whereas they might be sent out to the Colonies and placed with farmers to their own very great advantage and also to the benefit of the community at an average cost of from £10 to £15 per head all told. Why should the ratepayers be put to the additional expense involved in keeping the children in this country? Our Colonies are calling out for this class of emigrants. A society with which I am connected sends out poor children to Canada, where they are placed under all kinds of guarantees for their proper care and future welfare, and the system works most satisfactorily. But in this country we have still those 60,000 children brought up in pauper schools, whence they are sent out into our large cities, where they are exposed to great temptation and where their future chances of earning an honest livelihood are not to be compared with the prospects they would have in the Colonies. I therefore hope that the President of the Local Government Board will bring more pressure to bear upon Boards of Guardians in order to induce them to use 1722 that safety-valve of emigration which they now so much neglect.
§ MR. LONG (Devizes)
There has been a steady increase in the number of pauper children sent out to the Colonies, and I can assure the hon. Member for Flintshire that the Local Government Board not only throws no obstacle in the way of such emigration, but encourages it by Poor Law Guardians as far as they can, subject to the regulations. I can endorse every word that has fallen from the hon. Member as to the advantages which awaits the children when they get out to Canada. A vast number of residents in the Dominion of Canada are only too glad to receive children who are reasonably prepared to work in either in-door or out-door occupations. It would be unfair to compare the methods of private associations in promoting such emigration with those of the Central Board in London, which could not adopt similar methods. But the Department offers every facility in its power for the emigration of those children in such a way as will secure their being properly placed when they arrive on the other side of the water. The Local Government Board are as anxious as the hon. Member himself to promote that object; but when the hon. Member asks us to go still further and put pressure on Boards of Guardians for that purpose, he asks us to do that which it is impossible for us to accomplish.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Brightside, Sheffield)
It is only on such occasions as the present that we have the opportunity of calling the attention of hon. Members and of the President of the Local Government Board to cases such as that to which I referred a week ago in regard to the condition of the blind in this country. I allude to the prevalence of a disease known as granular ophthalmia, as to which there is an abundance of evidence showing that that disease is largely existent in our workhouse schools. A few days ago I brought before my right hon. Friend opposite a case which it could hardly have been supposed would have occurred in this country, so bad is it in point of neglect and so scandalous to the Local Authorities concerned. What are the circumstances of that case? It is one which is under the immediate control of the Guardians of the richest union of the richest city in the world—the City 1723 of London. The school is situated at Hanwell, and there are 1,100 children there at St. Saviour's School. In that school ophthalmia has been chronic for over 20 years; and in the course of the ten years, from 1875 to 1886, no fewer than 2,420 children have suffered from ophthalmic disease. There is another school at Anerley where there was a similar outbreak three years ago. They called in an eminent oculist, and he advised them as to the course they ought to take to stamp out the disease, and I am told that in that school there has only been one case of ophthalmia. In the Hanwell school at the present time there are quite as many children suffering from ophthalmia as there were ten years ago. They called in the same eminent man, who gave them the same advice, supported by the Inspector of the Local Government Board, but in spite of this pressure the Guardians, by a small majority, refused to make the necessary outlay to stamp out the disease. I do not complain of the action of the Local Government Board, but I hope the time has come when some additional pressure may be exerted, having regard to the fact that this disease is one of the most fruitful sources of blindness, and of misery and pauperism in later life.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I am not at all sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned this matter, and I hope that what he has said will have an effect upon the managers of the schools in inducing them to carry out the works which are in the opinion of the Local Government Board absolutely necessary for stamping out the disease. It is only fair to say, however, that the managers of the schools have taken some steps, with the result that, while the re still exists a regrettable number of cases of ophthalmia, the prevalence of the disease is enormously lessened, and the cases are not so severe. But the managers are incurring a grave responsibility in not carrying out still further the suggestions of the Local Government Board. A new infant school is absolutely necessary. The Local Government Board have strenuously advocated this course, but its powers are limited to remonstrance and the exertion of pressure. I cannot, however, believe that the managers will continue to resist the pressure which has been, and which will continue to be, 1724 put upon them, and the effect of which will be considerably enhanced by the expression of opinion which has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the member for Sheffield.
§ MR. RATHBONE (Arfon, Carnarvonshire)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not possible that in cases where the Guardians do not do their duty, the Local Government Board should supersede the Guardians, as has been done in Ireland? At any rate, could not the Local Government Board give the names of the people who so discredited themselves?
§ *MR. RITCHIE
Whatever the powers of the Local Government Board may be, the circumstances would have to be extremely grave to justify them in taking such serious action as that suggested by the hon. Gentleman. I cannot contemplate that, after what has been said in the House, and done by the Local Government Board, the managers will fail to do what is necessary.
§ *SIR TINDAL ROBERTSON (Brighton)
I desire to endorse the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sheffield. If two things are clearly demonstrated by the inquiries of the Royal Commission on the Blind, they are that ophthalmia is one of the most contagious diseases, and that, if properly treated, it can be stamped out. Under these circumstances it is most criminal on the part of Guardians not to take steps immediately. I believe that the forthcoming Report of the Commission, on which I have lately served, will strongly recommend that the President of the Local Government Board should have further powers. If these powers are not enough, I hope that the pressure of public opinion will be brought to bear on the managers, and that there will be no longer a possibility of a large number of poor children being afflicted with such a terrible disease.
§ MR. J. NOLAN (Louth, North)
I may be allowed to say that I have had opportunities of watching the inception and growth of this disease, and I am sure that there is scarcely a reformatory, industrial, or workhouse school in the country where it is not known in some degree. With regard to the emigration of pauper children, I think that the Government ought to act with very great caution. I have had reports from Canada 1725 with reference to these children which cause me to doubt whether they do benefit in all cases by exportation, and I will ask the Government, before consenting to bring pressure upon Poor Law Guardians to send children out to Canada in large numbers, to take time for reflection and allow the scheme, which has been at work for some time under the auspices of the hon. Member for Flintshire to show its fruits in an unmistakable way, so that there shall be no doubt as to the real tendencies of the plan. For my own part I hold that the rescue of children from lives of shame, and suffering, and sorrow is well worth the ambition of any man, whomsoever he may be, but from what I have seen and heard I know that it is possible for people with the best intentions in the world to make very grave mistakes indeed in dealing with this delicate subject.
§ MR. W. H. LONG (Wilts, Devizes)
I only want to say in reference to what has fallen from the hon. Member who last spoke, that the Government recognize the importance of very carefully safeguarding the interests of the children when they are sent out, but I can assure the hon. Member that we receive reports which are the results, not of flying visits, but of annual inspections made by competent and painstaking officers of the Government of the Dominion of Canada on the subject. We find from these reports that the children like their places, and would, on no account, return home. The experience gathered from these reports coincides with the experience on the subject which I gained when I interviewed some of the inspectors, and also witnessed the arrival of a number of these poor children and their conveyance to their respective homes.
§ MR. J. NOLAN
I have seen some of the children, who, under great disadvantage and after great trouble, have made their way back to this country.
§ MR. LONG
Yes, Sir. Of course there are a few cases where the good intentions of the promoters fail, but surely the whole system of emigration is not consequently to be condemned. It is manifest, looking at the material with which we have to deal, there will be some cases of failure, but nobody who has seen the homes provided for the children, and who knows the excellent future which is before the majority of them, can deny that it is completely to 1726 their advantage that they should be emigrated, provided that the Local Government Board exercises proper control as to the destination to which they are sent. It is impossible to expect that there will be success in every case, but in the vast majority of cases, complete success has so far attended the emigration.
§ *MR. SAMUEL SMITH
I merely want, in reply to the hon. Member, to explain that our scheme of emigration has now been carried on for nearly twenty years, and that after the most thorough and searching examinations of the results we have found that 95 per cent of the children we have sent out have gone on happily and well, and will grow up, or have grown up, good, prosperous citizens of Canada. I must say that the result is one which no system of workhouse management could possibly produce. I do not blame the managers of workhouses for that at all; but when you get hundreds, or even thousands, of children herded together in pauper schools, you find from experience that the result in after life is very disappointing. In these workhouse schools it is hardly possible to touch the hearts of these children; and, after all, it is through the heart that you can best train a child. Now, with regard to the precautions which are taken to secure that the children in Canada are well treated, I may say that if any child makes a complaint we immediately send an Inspector to inquire, and should there prove to be a good foundation for the complaint, the child is removed. My hon. Friend has suggested that we are sending these children into the backwoods of Canada. Sir, that is not so. We send them to the settled parts of Canada, where the land is in a fair state of cultivation and covered with homesteads, and the children are planted out in the most comfortable farms. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will see that what we do is for the real good of the children. It is a purely benevolent enterprise to save the children from the misery of the streets of Liverpool, and I hope he will admit that our work has not altogether failed.
§ MR. J. NOLAN
I only wish to add, in reply to the hon. Member for Flint-shire, that I never thought for one moment to doubt his intentions. I have been for a long time familiar with the 1727 character of the hon. Gentleman, who has devoted a considerable portion of his time and means to helping on the most unfortunate of his fellow creatures, both grown up and children. What I wished to do was to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that human nature is the same pretty well all the world over; and if we in England cannot find homes here for our poor children, it is hard to expect that Canada shall be willing to find satisfactory homes for them.
§ *MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I have risen only for the sake of making one remark in confirmation of what has just been said by the Secretary to the Local Government Board and the hon. Member for Flintshire. There is in New York a society for exactly the same purpose as that which they have been referring to. It is called the Children's Aid Society, and has been in existence for thirty-five years. This society gets hold of the poor children from reformatories and sends them out West, finding homes for them amongst farmers, and I believe the same testimony which the Secretary to the Local Government Board and the hon. Member for Flint-shire have given with regard to Canada might with equal truth be given as to the result of the operations of this society. Since 1853 it has sent out 80,000 persons, nearly all children, and in 1885 it sent out about 2,600 children. I believe an equal percentage of the children turn out well—it is stated at over 93 per cent for children under 14 years of age. I have gone into the question in America, and I found but one testimony, to the effect that this society has produced the greatest possible benefit, and that nothing can be imagined which is more likely to relieve the pressure of the population of large cities, and to meet the great difficulty which such cities experience in dealing with juvenile vagrancy and crime, than this plan of getting children of this class and sending them out to new homes. The decrease of crime, and especially of juvenile crime, in proportion to the population which has lately been observed in New York is attributed largely to its efforts.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER
I desire to raise the question of compulsory contributions to the maintenance of pauper relatives. I have in my hand a letter 1728 just received which gives an instance illustrative of what occurs in some of these cases. A Staffordshire man has been earning when in full work 2s. 4d. a day. His father was injured some years ago in a colliery, and his earning power was lessened, and the parish has forced the son to pay one shilling a week as a contribution towards his father's outdoor relief. That one shilling a week was paid by this man for some time, but lately he has fallen ill and been confined to his bed and attended by a medical man. While ill in bed he failed to appear on a summons, and when he did appear he was condemned to one month's imprisonment for not contributing a shilling a week to his father's maintenance. The actual rate of wages he received for April came to nine shillings and a halfpenny per week, and yet he was absolutely condemned at the instigation of the Board of Guardians to go to prison for one month for not supporting his father. I think the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board might well exercise a certain amount of pressure upon Boards of Guardians in different parts of the country, so that these cases of cruelty and hardship may not be so frequent. There is in all the Poor Law districts a large amount of work done by Poor Law Guardians with humanity and kindness, but there are, on the other hand, from time to time, instances of hardship and almost cruelty itself, and if the right hon. Gentleman can, during his tenure of office, introduce more of that tenderness and kindliness to poor people which should prevail, in the treatment of the poor, he will have done great service. There are, I know, gross abuses, in which people able to contribute to their poor relations are unwilling to do so.
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER
I do not plead for any mitigation of the punishment in such cases, but where a man has to support his wife on 9s. 0½d. a week it is a disgrace to our humanity that he should be sent to prison for a month for failing to contribute one shilling out of the nine towards the support of a man nearly as well able to earn his living as he is himself.
§ *MR. A. B. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
Probably the reply of the President of the Local Govern- 1729 ment Board will be that there is an appeal to Petty Sessions against orders to contribute made by Guardians. But there are many poor people who do not know of this, and who, if they do, do not care to go before a Bench of Magistrates, prefer to go on paying. It may be in the recollection of hon. Members that some two years ago I brought forward a case which the Secretary for War at first hardly believed, but which on inquiry he found to be as I had described. It was the case of a poor man earning only 12s. a week, who for years had been called upon to contribute 1s. 6d. a week to the support of his son, who was in the Guards, and was wounded at Aldershot during some manœuvres. As a result of the inquiries then made, the Government granted an allowance for two years, but the grant has ceased, and his father has again been ordered by the magistrates out of his scanty earnings to pay this 1s. 6d. a week. The reply will probably be that the magistrates can exercise their discretion. but as a fact I know that some Benches do make these orders on working men who earn only 12s. a week, and who have a wife and a family to maintain. I would suggest that a Circular should be drawn up by the Local Government Board to the Boards of Guardians, so that there may be some uniformity with regard to the exaction of contributions for pauper relatives, and that poor people, with a wife and family and scanty earnings, shall not be called upon to make payments which are very heavy for them.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I do not at all complain of the manner in which hon. Members have brought this matter forward. I think we are all agreed on the general principle that persons able to pay should contribute to the support of relatives who are under the Poor Law. Any other principle I think would lead to great abuses. The case cited by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ilkeston appears on the face of it to be one of hardship. If the Local Government Board had any power, by remonstrance or otherwise, to induce those who are responsible to deal with cases of this kind in a more kindly and humane spirit, we should not hesitate to do so, and I hope and trust that those who have to administer the law will, while seeing that the law is observed, be extremely careful that is not unduly 1730 strained. It would be most inexpedient, however, to lay down any hard and fast line, which would only lead probably to more difficulties than would be got rid of.
§ MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I desire before the Vote is passed to draw attention to its exceedingly inflated character. We have been assured that during last year there has been the most stringent investigation of every detail of the estimates by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and I assume that the President of the Local Government Board has himself overhauled his own estimate with a view to seeing if some economy might not be affected. Now, Sir, this Vote affords an illustration of the character of the detailed investigation which has been carried out. There is, for example, a Chief Inspector and Assistant-Secretary with a salary rising from £900 to £1,000, by a triennial increment of £50. The Chief' Inspector has a maximum salary of £1,000, but no less than £4,100 is put down for this single officer. Anyone might suppose that that is a clerical error, but I have taken the trouble to cast up the figures and I find the total is correct. Now, Sir, with regard to the general character of the Vote. It seems to me that it is clearly inflated. I do not see why services rendered to this country should be more highly paid for in England than in any other part of the United Kingdom. I do not refer to Ireland, because we have long ago given up the attempt to get justice for her in that respect. I will compare it with Scotland, and I will ask why Scotch officials should have 30 per cent less than English officers, although they perform similar functions? The Local Government Board appears to cost £450,000, or at the rate of £17,300 per million, or about 44d. per head. The Board of Supervision in Scotland, on the other hand, is allowed £29,000, or £7,330 per million, or 13/4d. per head. Again, in the vote for salaries and wages of Local Government Officials England receives £72,843, and Scotland £7,300, or less than one-tenth. Now, I pass to the Engineering Department of the Board of Trade. It costs £8,000 of which £6,300 is for salaries. Why does Scotland get the generous sum of 1280? And so it is throughout the whole public service; the Scotch are 1731 underpaid and the English exceedingly overpaid. While in England you have four Inspectors with a salary of £1,000, 13 others with salaries ranging from £600 to £900, and four Assistants at £500 a year, you have only, in Scotland, two with a maximum salary of £500, beginning with a minimum of £300. And in the case of the clerical staff, you find precisely the same thing. In England there are 12 first class clerks receiving from £400 to £600 a year each, and 32 second class clerks receiving from £200 to £350 a year each. In Scotland there are three first class clerks who receive from £250 to £400 a year each. The same thing occurs in the case of the employés of the lower grades. The English messengers get salaries ranging from £70 to £100 a year, while the Scotch messenger has to be satisfied with something between £50 and £60, and we find that the English charwoman receives £36 a year, while the Scotch charwoman is only paid £16. For the Medical Department in England £15, 000 is asked in these Estimates. What does Scotland get? One-thirtieth part, or £500. The salaries in this Department range from £500 to £1,200 in England, the total salaries paid amounting to £9,080. Scotland, however, only gets £300 in salaries. Again, under the Alkaline Acts £4,600 is spent in salaries in England; but Scotland does not get a penny. Who is to blame for the inflated state of the English Estimates as compared with the starved condition of the Scotch Estimates? I cannot find it in my heart or conscience to blame the Government. They are providing for their own people. But I do think that the blame rests upon the Scotch Members who, year after year, have had all these figures before them. In duty to their constituents they ought to have investigated these things. It seems rather an odd thing that it should be left to Irish Members to point out to Scotchmen the way in which Scotland is treated. Having said this. I feel that perhaps I had better leave it to some Scotch Member to move whatever reduction is necessary. I have only risen for the purpose of illustrating what inequalities are found in the Estimates by anyone who takes the trouble to examine the figures.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I think it may appear strange to the Committee that 1732 when the hon. Gentleman desires to institute a comparison of the expenditure of certain public offices he should not have done so as between England and Ireland. The hon. Gentleman. exercised a wise discretion in comparing England and Scotland; had he taken the course which might seem a natural one for him, and drawn a comparison between England and Ireland, the deduction to be derived might not have been quite in the direction he desired it. Now it is perfectly impossible for the Committee to arrive at any correct conclusion on the matter without knowing the whole of the duties devolving upon one Board and another. The hon. Member has not given any such information, and therefore he omitted to furnish the necessary guidance. The hon. Gentleman started by saying that one Chief Inspector and Assistant Secretary receives a salary of £4,100 a year. Anybody who looks at page 138 will see that that is the amount for three Assistant Secretaries and one Chief General. Inspector.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I am not at all sorry the hon. Gentleman has drawn the attention of the Committee to this Vote, because he has afforded me an opportunity of saying—and I must know more about the work of the particular gentlemen referred to than any Member of the Committee can possibly know—that not only do these gentlemen do, most valuable and efficient work, but that there are no public servants who work longer hours or more continuously. There is hardly a day on which the Secretary of the Local Government Board and his assistants do not work for 10 and sometimes 11 hours and more. The pressure brought to bear on the Local Government Board in consequence of the alterations connected with the Local Government Act have been of a very great and onerous character, and the country owes these gentlemen a debt of gratitude for the most valuable and efficient services which they have rendered in the matter. I am glad the, hon. Member has given me an opportunity of saying how much I am personally sensible of the value of the I services rendered to the country, the Department, and myself by the gentlemen to whom the hon. Member has 1733 referred. Now it is impossible for me to enter into a comparison of English and Scottish expenditure. But if the expenditure of the Local Government Board now is to be compared with the expenditure of previous years, it will be found in the highest degree satisfactory and economical. Year by year additional responsibilities are constantly being placed on the Local Government Board. Nevertheless, the expenditure upon salaries has certainly not increased in proportion. Indeed, it has positively decreased as compared with many previous years. In 1879–80, putting aside grants in aid, the expenditure was £127,904; in 1884–85 it was £126,196; and in the present year it is £126,317. I am sure the Committee, looking to the immense increase of work thrown on the Local Government Board, will regard that as extremely satisfactory.
DR. CAMERON (Glasgow College Division)
I should not have intervened in this discussion but for the observations of my hon. Friend the Member for East Donegal (Mr. A. O'Connor). The hon. Gentleman thought it very wonderful that he had discovered a mare's nest that no Scotch Member had been able to find. He discovered one mare's nest which has been pointed out by the President of the Local Government Board, and I think he discovered another mare's nest when he instituted a comparison between the expenditure of the Local Government Board in England and the Board of Supervision in Scotland. We have repeatedly called attention to some of the inequalities, but those inequalities were in the form of grants in aid. There is no use in talking of them now, because national grants in aid are to be given to the different countries and are to be distributed by them. We have had the worst of it in many cases. In respect to vaccination the English got excessive grants in aid. This was also so in the case of grants in aid of the sick poor, but in the matter of grants in aid in respect to lunatics Scotland had the best of it. So far as the Board of Supervision is concerned we do not want to increase the emoluments, but want to sweep it off the face of the earth. The Local Government Board has in it the germs of the most important Ministry that can possibly be represented on those Benches—the Ministry of Health. The Board of Supervision is 1734 a non-representative body, altogether out of accord with the spirit of the age. It is composed of a paid secretary, sundry Sheriffs, and a couple of Law Provosts who have no official acquaintance with Poor Law administration. We think that the duties of the Board might be better performed by an Inspector elected to the Scotch office. I know there are some who think that the Local Government Board itself might be dispensed with. Sir Charles Dilke thought so. But I am of opinion that the Ministry of Health is as important as a Ministry of Agriculture, and I should be very sorry to cripple it in any way. Of course I do not mean to say that the Department is administered with a single eye to economy, but I am not aware that there is any gross or extraordinary extravagance in its administration as compared with that of other Departments. I am inclined to think there is less, and what inequality we have had to complain of in the treatment of Scotland, as compared with England, has been in respect of grants in aid. Those inequalities will by the new arrangements be entirely redressed.
§ *SIR H. ROSCOE (Manchester, S)
I wish to call attention to a matter of some consequence as affecting the health of the people, viz., the working of the Alkali Acts, which however in my opinion ought to be called the Noxious Vapours Acts. We all know how important is the question of air pollution, and these Acts have in this respect been of the greatest value in the manufacturing districts both to the manufacturer and to the public. Whilst, however, I say this, and will bear testimony to the knowledge and ability of the Inspectors who carry out the Acts, I think that much still remains to be done. The subject is a somewhat complex one, but I may explain that the Acts apply to certain manufactures in which. noxious gases are evolved, but they apply to manufactories alone and not to any other place in which such noxious gases are evolved by the use of the products made in those manufactories. I desire, therefore, to suggest that the President of the Local Government Board should consider whether the provisions of the Acts may not be extended so as to include places where chemical substances are employed which, during that employment, give off 1735 noxious vapours. For example, many refineries of gold and silver, where nitric acid is used, do not come under the supervision of the Inspectors. This, as I have said, is a matter of the greatest consequence to the health of the people. It is impossible to get rid of the fogs of London under any Act of Parliament, but a great deal may be done to purify the atmosphere, especially of our manufacturing towns, much has been done under the Acts by the application of the best practicable means clause, but much still remains to be done, and I therefore desired to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the suggestion I have made.
*DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire)
This Vote may be inflated, but if there is any increase it is certainly not due to any excessive emoluments paid to the Medical Department of the Local Government Board. The Chief of the Department only receives £1,100 a year, and the juniors £800 and £900. I should be glad to know whether steps cannot be taken for the circulation among medical officers of health of the admirable report of Dr. Barry on the Sheffield smallpox epidemic. I understand that the price of the volume has been reduced from 24s. to 10s. or 12s. But I do not see why a cheap edition should not be published and sent out to to the Inspectors of the different districts. May I suggest that Members of the House who are supplied with copies should, if they do not want them, give them to their local Officers of Health.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
The price of the volume has been reduced from 24s. to 10s., and that I hope will cause the Report, of which I cannot speak too highly, to get into the hands of many people who would not otherwise see it. We are now in communication with the Treasury concerning the supply of a certain number of copies for distribution amongst medical officers.
§ MR. PICTON
I have been informed by friends who endeavoured to buy the Report, that it has been withdrawn from circulation, for the purpose of being corrected. I should like to know what truth there is in my information. There is another matter I wish to raise. The terms of reference to the Royal Commission on the opera- 1736 tion of the Vaccination Act leave it a little uncertain whether the question which I raised on Tuesday will come before the Commission. In 1887 a disease broke out amongst a certain herd of cows in Wiltshire. There were various speculations as to the nature of the disease, but Professor Crookshank, who is a very eminent authority upon such questions, having closely examined the cows and compared the disease with what he had seen elsewhere—on the Continent and in thiscountry—came most decidedly to the conclusion that it was a clear case of cowpox. He read a paper on the subject before the Pathological Society in December, 1887. A report of the meeting was published in The Medical Journal, and in the course of the discussion, it was stated that the medical officer of the Local Government Board expressed his satisfaction that the outbreak of cowpox in Wiltshire would afford an opportunity of testing the effect of vaccine from that source on human beings as had long been desired. The right hon. Gentleman stated on Tuesday that the report was incorrect, perhaps he would now say in what particulars it was wrong.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
What I meant to imply on Tuesday, was that the report was substantially incorrect; that Dr. Buchanan had not expressed the views attributed to him.But I am not at all sure that the language in The Medical Journal was wrong. I think it was capable of another interpretation. That is how it was put to me. The question the hon. Gentleman asked as to the Sheffield Report surprises me. I have never heard of the withdrawal of the Report, neither have I heard any suggestion that it required correction.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Economies have been effected in this Vote notwithstanding Ministerial assurances of their impossibility. That only shows how necessary it is to scrutinize these Votes most carefully. A certain number of the Inspectors travel, and in addition to the large salaries paid to them it seems to me excessive to give them a guinea per night for expenses. In the case of four of the Inspectors of Workhouse Schools the travelling expenses appear to have been commuted for a sum of £250 a year, which is, I think, an exceedingly good commutation for them. At a guinea per 1737 night I think the amount would be much less. The same system runs through the whole of the Vote, and brings the total up to a very large sum per annum.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
So far as the ordinary expenses are concerned, the hon. Gentleman should remember that most of these gentlemen have large districts to superintend, and they must of necessity, in order to discharge their duty, be a great many nights away from home, and be compelled to obtain accommodation at hotels. The Inspectors do not receive more than a guinea a night for personal expenses when they are on duty away from home — an allowance only equal, I understand, to that paid to commercial travellers; and considering their position, and the work they do, I do not think that amount is excessive. For years past the Inspectors have been required to reside in their districts, so that travelling expenses may not be incurred unnecessarily. I do not think that we can do more in the matter. These accounts are gone through with the utmost care by the Department.
§ MR. J. NOLAN
I do not intend to criticize the Vote, but I wish to say that in my opinion the Canal Boats Act has conferred an immense benefit on the canal boat population, both physically and morally. I believe that the population living in these canal boats have been much benefitted by the system of inspection, but I should like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that there are other wanderers in the country besides those who live in canal boats.
Order, order! The canal boat inspection comes under item B., and that has already been passed.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £13,215 to complete the sum for the Lunacy Commission, England.
§ *DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
I had hoped that the Lunacy Act Amendment Bill would have been introduced this Session, and if that had been the case I should not trouble the Committee with any remarks on the present occasion; but as our hopes in that respect have been so often before disappointed, I will offer a few observations on the general system of 1738 inspection. I wish to obtain a little information from the representives of the Home Office. I am not one of those who look upon our lunacy inspection generally as being well carried out. I consider that the number of Inspectors is too few to render the inspection of that thorough-going character which we all desire. Three medical men and three lawyers, who go about together, have to inspect 100 asylums containing 82,600 lunatics. One question I want to ask is, why lawyers should be employed for that duty at all? I presume that the object of the inspection is to find out whether persons are mad or improperly shut up, and that the asylums are maintained in a proper condition. A man who has not been properly trained to the technical and difficult study of insanity cannot give a competent opinion as to whether persons who are shut up in these asylums are mad or not; and if they have only to see that the asylums are properly furnished and the like, the salary, which is £1,500 per year, is too high for the performance of such a duty. I want to know what is the actual function which the lawyers discharge in these cases. In Scotland, where the lunacy arrangements are nearly perfect, this system of inspection by lawyers and doctors does not exist; the doctor goes round by himself, and the system of inspection there carried out is one of a more searching and complete character than that adopted in England. If any legal question arises, of course a lawyer is called in. In Scotland the inspection is done from patriotic motives; the gentlemen by whom it is done get no salary, whereas in England they receive the large salary of £1,500 a year. If inspection is necessary it ought to be thorough, and the doctor ought to see the patients at least once a year. In Scotland we have an excellent arrangement of lunacy districts. A doctor is appointed to each district, and by going round regularly he gets to know the patients. There is nothing of that kind here. The remedy which I propose is to abolish the legal Commissioners, and to appoint in their place three more doctors, thus insuring an inspection which would give confidence to the public. I should like to know what the functions of the legal Commissioners are, and how they have ever been of 1739 practical use in detecting persons improperly confined in asylums.
§ *MR. H. H. FOWLER
My hon. Friend behind me has assumed that the Government have no real intention of proceeding with the Lunacy Amendment Act this session. If I thought so, I should regret that decision very greatly. The Bill has been introduced by successive Governments year after year, and I understand that having been passed through the House of Lords, it is now awaiting a Second Reading in this House. I would appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury to say whether arrangements can not be made for reading the Bill a second time in the House of Commons and sending it up to the Grand Committee on Law, which has at present nothing before it. The country is anxious for legislation, and the Bill will arouse no Party feeling whatever. So far as I am concerned, I am ready to give it all the support in my power.
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
I think I had better reply at once to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman. The Government have every hope of being able to pass the Bill in the course of the present Session. With such a Bill, touching a great many interests and prejudices, it is desirable before reading it that communications should pass between those who have fair reason to object to any of the provisions in order to smooth down any opposition. Those communications are passing; and I trust that the Second Reading will not occasion any debate in the House, because the Bill is very generally approved and it is most desirable that it should be carefully considered in Committee upstairs, and after issuing from the Committee, by the House, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Government will pass the Bill unless they meet with uncompromising opposition.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I am sure that the Committee have heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman with great satisfaction and relief. I do not see how he can expect anything like factious opposition to the Bill which he proposes to bring in. I presume that all the details will be settled by the Committee upstairs. I wish now to join the hon. Gentleman who initiated the debate in urging he Home Secretary to substitute medical for legal Lunacy Commissioners, 1740 as lunacy is pre-eminently a subject for doctors. The legal man knows nothing of lunacy, which is a physical and not a legal question, and consequently under the present arrangements two men are employed to do the work of one. There are few subjects on which the public mind has been so disturbed, and several recent cases have served to increase the anxiety. The other day the relatives of a man who had been missing for years applied for permission to administer his estate, when the man was suddenly discovered in a lunatic asylum. There must be something wrong in a system which could permit this. I think there are many persons within the walls of a lunatic asylum who ought not to be there at all, and on the other hand there a good many outside who might be confined with great advantage to the wives and children who have to live with them. I believe that in some cases both lawyers and doctors have mistaken eccentricity for lunacy. In former days it was much too easy to have a man shut up in a lunatic asylum, and now we are confronted with the other evil, that it is too hard.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
The right hon. Gentleman who spoke from the front bench, and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), have assumed that this Bill will be a great improvement of the existing law. Now, I have heard on competent authority that the proposed Bill, if carried, will make the law worse than it is at present. My belief is that at the present moment there is not a proper amount of supervision. I think that the present system of putting people into asylums on the certificate of two doctors is a most objectionable one. There ought to be no private asylums, but the Executive Government should be responsible to the public for all institutions for the confinement of the insane.
§ *THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Dr. Farquharson) is aware that the arrangement by which the Commission is composed of members partly legal and partly medical is one that cannot be altered without legislation, so that if the hon. Member will 1741 render what assistance is in his power for bringing on the Lunacy Bill which has come down to us from the other House, he will be bringing nearer his opportunity for bringing about an alteration in the law in the direction he desires. On the merits of the present system there are some impartial judges who have arrived at an adverse conclusion to that of the hon. Member. The Medical Members of the Commission are in favour of the present arrangement, and they find advantage in the presence of their legal brethren on the Commission. It was the opinion of the late Lord Shaftesbury, who was Chairman of the Commission, that it was an advantageous arrangement, and an examination of the duties of the Commissioners shows why that should be so. Those duties are by no means exclusively of a medical character; they include investigations into matters of fact and other matters of an administrative nature upon which legal qualifications are required. The Commissioners have to inquire into not only the physical and moral treatment of the insane, they have to consider the disposition and arrangements for property; to conduct prosecutions for neglect or ill treatment; they have to enter on the plans for the structure and accomodation in asylums; and deal with contracts relating to administration and general rules. They have also to deal with the licensing of Metropolitan Asylums and to examine the forms of orders, certificates, and all similar documents under the Lunacy Acts. These duties cannot be described as entirely medical, and there is no doubt it was with a view to these matters that Parliament decided there should be a strong legal element on the Board. The hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. T. O'Connor) says that under the present law lunatics may possibly be improperly confined, and the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) complains that the Bill we have laid on the Table would probably make matters worse, but without infringing on the rules of the House that forbid me to discuss the merits of the Bill not now before us, I may point out that the Bill alluded to makes only two proposals, curtailing the extension of private asylums and ensuring that judicial intervention in reference to orders for detention which 1742 the hon. Member thinks would check the evils of which he complained.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I think the hon. Gentleman has made out a case for having a certain number of lawyers upon the Commission, but that was not exactly the point of my hon. Friend, and that to which I also alluded. It is not that lawyers are not useful for the legal work to which the hon. Gentleman referred, the work of looking after the property of lunatics and that sort of thing. Our point is that lawyers go with doctors for examination into the state of the mind of the lunatic, and that, we say, is exclusively medical work, with which lawyers should have nothing to do. We say that medical men should do this medical work.
§ *DR. FARQUHARSON
The legal Members of the Commission might sit to adjudicate on points of law, but I object to the dual examinations of asylums by the two sets of men, lawyers and doctors. It is a plan which limits the number of medical inspectors, and unduly contracts their influence and operations. If we could get the £1,500 which the lawyers have, for the doctors, we should have a more effective supervision. There should be in England an arrangement such as we have in Scotland, a legal Board to which reference might be made by the doctors in case of doubt or difficulty.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
The visits of the Legal Commissioners are incumbent on them by Acts of Parliament that require that there shall be two visitors—one legal, one medical. They have to investigate charges of ill-treatment and therefore to deal with disputes as to questions of fact—duties, I think, that are better discharged by persons accustomed to legal investigation.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 3. £49,421,to complete the sum for the expenses of the Mint, including coinage.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
There is only one point I wish to raise in reference to this Vote, and that is the great scarcity of sixpences among the currency and the enormous quantity of florins. I cannot understand why this should be, and I very much doubt whether the public care very much for 1743 florins. At any rate, I can see no reason why they should be coined in quantities out of all proportion to sixpences. I hope we may have some explanation from the Secretary to the Treasury, or whoever is responsible for the Department, as to the system pursued in regard to the small coinage, and the proportion of one to the other—how many florins, shillings, and sixpences.
§ *MR. H. H. FOWLER
My hon. Friend has anticipated a point I was going to raise. There is much inconvenience caused by a scarcity of small silver coins. There is an ample supply of florins and half-crowns, but speaking for my own locality, and I think I can speak generally, there is a want of shillings and sixpences. I hope we may have this remedied.
§ MR. JACKSON
I shall be very glad to convey this complaint to the Mint Authorities, but I am in a position to say that steps have been taken to increase the coinage of silver considerably, including these smaller pieces.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 4. £10,708 to complete the sum for the National Debt Office.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 5. £48,496 to complete the sum for the Patent Office.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I believe it is the fact that arrangements have been made for the exchange of the publications of the Patent Office in England for those of the United States office, and of other countries, but there are great complaints that these exchanges are conducted unfairly towards us. We do not get the same number of copies we give to America, and other countries. It is important in our great centres of industry that there should be means of access to these publications, especially those from the United States, and the public libraries in Leeds and elsewhere should have copies for reference. There are complaints that libraries have not copies of these publications, nor indeed the publications issued by our own Patent Office. At any rate, I think these last should be procurable for the actual cost of paper and ink. In all the issues of publications from Government Departments there is an attempt on the part of the office to recoup itself not only for the cost of the parti- 1744 cular copy, but for the cost also of setting up and the original expenses. It is the idea of large profits and small sales, instead of small profits and large sales. I do not think it really ought to be a question of profit at all, and surely some arrangement might be made to facilitate the distribution of both our own and foreign Patent publications. In America, as we know, there are far more patents taken out than there are here, and we know that labour-saving appliances are continually being produced, knowledge of which would be of great advantage in our manufacturing towns. I have had a correspondence on this subject with a gentleman who strongly urged me to mention this matter, and it appears to me a very reasonable suggestion.
§ MR. JACKSON
I was not aware that there were any complaints in reference to the exchange of Patent Office publications between this and other countries. I know it has been the practice to make such exchanges of publications of designs and specifications, and I will call the attention of the Patent Office to the statement of the hon. Member. As to the publications of the Patent Office, there were some complaints, but quite recently the whole subject was examined by a Departmental Committee, presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Wigton (Sir Herbert Maxwell), and it was decided that in future a journal should be issued consolidating into one the three publications that have hitherto been issued, and at a price that will bring it within the range of those who desire to refer to it. Illustrations also will add to the usefulness of the publication, and the arrangements made promise to work very satisfactorily.
§ MR. COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)
No patent is ever taken out in the United States without a guarantee of its distinguishing merit, but there are patents taken out in England without any merit at all. I think it would be a wise change if our Patent Office were made responsible for the thing patented having some real benefit about it.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 6. £20,190 to complete the sum for the Paymaster General's Office.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I should like to know precisely what are the functions of the Paymaster General and his assis- 1745 tants. Here we have a Paymaster General who gets nothing, and an assistant with a salary of £1,000. What is the use of keeping up this office of Paymaster General? It was acknowledged to be a sinecure office, and the salary was abolished, I believe in the time of Lord Wolverton, who, I believe, as he did not earn the salary, declined to take it. Why keep up the fiction when the office is superfluous, and does not require a salary?
§ MR. JACKSON
If the hon. Member will refer to the Estimates he will find that there is no amount placed against the entry of "Assistant"; he has been abolished. I may say in relation to this subject that I hope shortly to introduce a Bill dealing with this office, which was the subject of consideration by a Committee some years ago. It is believed that by the re-arrangement proposed considerable economy will be affected. The Bill will, I hope, shortly be ready for submission to the House.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
Has the official in question been transferred or pensioned, or how has he been treated?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
We shall be anxious for the production of this Bill, for it seems that we have a Department that is almost unnecessary, maintained at considerable cost.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Is it possible for the hon. Gentleman to help the Committee a little further by shadowing forth the arrangement proposed, because it may or may not be satisfactory? I hope it may be, but it is clear that as the head of the Department is gone, and the assistant head is gone, we should feel more happy with the knowledge that the body is to go too, and no particular harm would result to the country. It would give satisfaction outside the House and in if the hon. Gentleman would increase our information a little.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think it would be rather irregular, and I think the Committee will hardly wish me, to anticipate the statement that necessarily must be made when the Bill is introduced. I gave the information I did that the Committee might know that we contemplate dealing with the office generally, but the Government must not be sup- 1746 posed to convey the impression that the office has been extravagantly conducted. I did not mean to cast the least reflection on the officers of the Department. As to the re-arrangement. we propose—I may say as much as this—that it is in the direction of making payments through bankers rather than through the Office. The Committee will excuse me if I do not enter further into a Bill not yet introduced.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
Only one thing I will ask, will the Bill certainly be introduced with the intention of carrying it through this Session?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I cannot make out whether there is any head to the Office. I suppose there is some head?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
The Chief Clerk gets £1,100 a-year, but then we have a Treasury Remembrancer and Deputy Paymaster for Ireland who gets £1,200. What duties is he called upon to discharge?
§ MR. JACKSON
Anyone who knows the Treasury Remembrancer for Ireland knows that he has most important duties to discharge. He is the representative of the Treasury, the officer to whom, if the Treasury has occasion to make any communication, reference is made. He is a most efficient and capable officer, and I can assure the Committee has a great deal of official work.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I do not know who the gentleman is, and am not disposed to dispute the assertion that he is a very capable officer, but it strikes me as strange that the head of the office in England should be satisfied with £800 but the official in Ireland should require £1,200. We know, as a matter of fact, living in Ireland is very considerably cheaper than living in England, so that the difference in salary should be the other way, and £800 in Dublin would be about equivalent to £1,200 in London. But I am afraid my hon. Friend has hit upon one of the many examples that run through all the Estimates that extravagant salaries in Ireland are more extravagant even than extravagant salaries in England. I would be diverging into questions I am anxious 1747 to avoid if I were to suggest a reason for this disproportion.
§ MR. HANBURY
I must press my hon. Friend for an answer as to the terms upon which the Assistant Paymaster has been removed from office.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am afraid I cannot say, for I do not remember, but I will get the information, and give it to my hon. Friend on Report.
§ *MR. H. H. FOWLER
May I ask whether the same rule is applied to Civil Service Officials in Ireland as is wisely applied in England, and is it adhered to, that they shall abstain from all party political manifestations and controversies?
§ *MR. JACKSON
Oh yes. There is not the least objection to stating the name of the present holder of the office of Treasury Remembrancer; it is Mr. R. W. Holmes; and having given his name I feel bound to follow it up by saying that from observation of his work in connection with the Department in London, and from personal knowledge acquired in several visits to Ireland in connection with the Department I can testify to the very efficient manner in which he discharges his duties.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I have not the least knowledge of Mr. Holmes, and am quite content to take it for granted that he deserves the eulogium passed upon him by the hon. Gentleman; but I would like to ask, does Mr. Holmes take part in political demonstrations, is he compelled to exclude himself from party politics as similar officials are in England?
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
Is not the very fact that the hon. Member does not know Mr. Holmes in itself sufficient evidence that that gentleman does not take part in political matters?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
With all due respect to the hon. Member I cannot allow him to answer a question addressed to the Treasury Bench, which he does dot yet adorn, though he may do so some time in another House and in another country. Until then I must address my question to the Secretary to the Treasury, and he can probably answer from personal knowledge whether or not Mr. Holmes abstains from taking part in Party politics in Ireland in the same manner as officials are compelled in England?
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
The same rules apply to Members of the Civil Service in Ireland as those which operate in England, as the hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, and thorough impartiality is exercized so far as the Treasury is concerned. I hope this will be satisfactory. I have no personal knowledge of Mr. Holmes, but believe he is an efficient officer.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7. £8,205 to complete the sum for Public Works Loan Commission.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 8. £17,506 to complete the sum for the Record Office.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
I drew attention to this Vote not long since, but on that occasion I had no answer. I should like to refer to the subject again, not with a view of criticizing the work done at the Record Office which I believe is extremely good, but because the public records are very insufficiently housed, and the public have not sufficient opportunity of viewing them. I believe that many of the records have been ruined and are still being destroyed by the dampness of some of the rooms. Then there are large numbers of our most valued possessions in the nature of relics stored in the Record Office, but they cannot be exhibited to the public. There is no space to allow of them being shown. I think it will be found that the Rolls Chapel is hardly ever used, and might be turned into something in the nature of a museum, where the "Domesday Book," the "Roll of Agincourt." and other interesting historical national possessions might be shown to the public. The collection of national records of this country is perhaps the finest in the world, and, independent of those in the British Museum, those at the Record Office are such that there is no collection to compare with them. But in Paris the collection is infinitely better housed in the Palais d'Archives, and presents a most interesting feature for the visitor. I hope something may be done by which the collection may be properly housed and seen.
§ *MR. JACKSON
I know the hon. Member takes great interest in this question, and I do not say but I sympathize with his views to some extent. I am not sure that his suggestion is practical. I dare say he knows that the original plan contemplated the pulling down of Rolls Chapel and adjoining buildings, and some day this scheme will have to be carried out. I should not like to say more, but I will report the hon. Member's views to my colleagues, and I hope he will be content with this general answer. No doubt, when the further extension of the building (which I admit must be made, because a great many papers are stored in a building quite unfit for them) is under consideration, and when additional accommodation is provided, then the question will be considered how they may be most conveniently disposed for public inspection.
§ MR. LYELL (Orkney and Shetland)
Can the hon. Member give the Committee any information as to the progress being made with the Orkney or Icelandic Sagas, about which I asked for information last year?
§ *MR. JACKSON
I am glad to be able to say something more definite on this subject than I was in a position to on the last occasion. I am bound to say I think the hon. Gentleman is entitled to make some complaint as to the delay that has taken place. Many circumstances have contributed to it, but I am now in a position to say that one volume is in print, and that another volume is in MS. ready to be sent to the printers, some progress having been made with the proofs. The volume in print lacks one sheet. That is to be sent to the printer, and the MS. of the second volume will be sent within a month. Every effort is being made to complete the work during the present Session, and I hope that before the discussion on the Estimates comes round again, it will be completed.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I do not see any return as to the amount which has been received from the sale of these publications, nor of the number of copies published and sold. It is desirable that we should have this information, as it will show us what, as a set-off, we get back for these publications. We want the information before we discuss whether the price is too high, or too low.
§ MR. JACKSON
I will make inquiries into the matter, and endeavour to obtain for the hon. Member the information he desires.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 9. £39,952 to complete the sum for the Registrar General's Office, England.
§ *MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, South)
On this Vote there arises the question of the preparation the Government have made with regard to the census. Some time ago, a very important deputation waited on the responsible Department of the Government, and several suggestions were made for rendering the next census more efficient, and giving a larger amount of information than has been given on previous occasions. There is no doubt that our census is inferior to the census of the greater number of civilized Governments, and especially to those of Australia and America, and it seems to me very desirable that we should not defer too long the preparations which should be made for carrying out desirable improvements. The Government should take the matter in hand at once. I think something was said by the deputation about the appointment of a Royal Commission or a Committee to collect the opinions of those who feel a large interest in the subject. I would therefore ask the Secretary to the Treasury when the first steps will be taken, and whether facilities will be given to those who have matured opinions on the question to bring them before Her Majesty's Government.
§ MR. A. ACLAND (York, W. R., Rotherham)
Before the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government replies, I may be allowed to endeavour to elicit from him what I know he is willing to give, namely, a friendly consideration of this question in a little more detail than has been indicated by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. A most important deputation went before the President of the Local Government Board and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and suggested further classification, to a very moderate extent, with reference especially to the industrial workers in the country. The deputation was introduced by you, Sir, and there were present not theoretical, but practical 1751 men, Mr. Charles Booth, whose book on the East of London, has attracted so much attention, being the chief speaker. Mr. Booth is a gentleman who has already done much valuable work in collecting statistics with regard to the industrial and commercial character of the East of London. He is a gentleman who has spent a considerable sum of money out of his own pocket in providing the public with a better knowledge of the industrial and social condition of the people, and he is of opinion that the census of 1891 might give information of a valuable kind which the enumerators could without much difficulty provide. He does not ask for a large number of classes which those who have the duty of filling up the census tables might find it difficult to deal with, but he thinks we ought to draw a distinction between employers and employed, between skilled and unskilled—that is to say, between the artizan and the ordinary labourer. I would ask the Local Government Board to pay attention to what practical men like Mr. Booth have to say, before giving the reply tendered by those who have prepared previous censuses—the very natural reply — a sort of non possumus— that what was done in 1881 is good, and ought to be repeated. I know that that will in all likelihood be the answer, but I trust the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board will go into the matter fully before he says that nothing can be done. It is often said it is better to have few statistics and good than many and bad, but I say that practical men—men like Mr. Booth—would not be asking for these statistics if they did not believe that they could be provided. I would add that every year education is increasing in the country, and we may rely upon it that the bulk of the working people will be better able to fill up the census papers in 1891 than they were in 1881. I go further and say that if they can be made to understand — as no doubt they can in many cases—that the census is being made in their interest in order that we may know the industrial position of the country, they may take more pains. Trade unions, friendly societies, and others ought to appeal to them on the subject, for if they are not induced to believe that the census is going to be utilized on their behalf by 1752 persons who take an interest in their position they are not likely to take the trouble to fill up the papers accurately. I feel sure it is not the Treasury that is going to stand in the way of the improvement of the census, for the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave us a friendly and cordial answer. I do not think we need have any fears as to the supply of the money, provided we can induce the Registrar General's Department to give a favourable consideration to the proposal, and persuade them not to be too much afraid of the ignorance of those who fill up the papers. The question is one which will have to be settled now in a very few months, and this is probably the last opportunity we shall have of raising it. I hope that before the matter is finally settled the Treasury and the President of the Local Government Board will see some of the practical men I have referred to, and hear what they have to say on the subject.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I desire to draw attention to the fact that the evidence reported upon last year by the Committee on Emigration —I am afraid I should not be in order in referring to the evidence taken this year—clashes with the Returns prepared by the enumerators and I think there ought to be more care exercised by the enumerators, especially as regards the number of foreigners in particular cities and districts employed in particular trades. We have had one very curious piece of evidence as to the Italian population and the number of their fellow countrymen relieved by the Italian Authorities in England. The number so relieved shows an excess in one occupation over the whole number of Italians without occupation stated by the census to be in the country. Allowing for some disposition on the part of the Charitable Authorities to magnify their operations, one cannot help thinking that there must be something seriously wrong in the Returns that the enumerators have accepted as correct, or in the facts as given in evidence. I desire to support what has been urged by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Rotherham Division, that the census as affecting industrial questions can only be useful when both employers and employed are taught to rely upon it. The more accuracy we 1753 get in these matters the more disposed the workers will be to place reliance on the census. There is now a very grave matter to which I wish to call attention. The very specific instructions issued by the Registrar General to the Registrars of births and deaths have been disregarded in a matter which very much affects infantile mortality. Where a child is insured the Superintendent Registrar is not to issue certificates under which a sum can be obtained in excess of that provided by the Act. If it comes to his knowledge that certificates have been issued, or that insurance has been effected, or that money has been paid beyond the amount for which the certificate is given, he should report to the Chief Registrar for prosecution, or he is at liberty himself, as a person aggrieved under a Section of the Act. Now, I am sure that the Registrar in the case of the Borough of Oldham, has continually neglected that duty. I should think, on an average, in eight or nine cases every year for the past five or six years, children's lives have been insured for amounts in excess of the sums for which they ought to have been insured. According to his own statement, in three or four cases where illegal payments have been made, he has never reported to the Registrar General, nor has he himself initiated any prosecution. It is useless to have provisions on the Statute Book prohibiting the improper insurance of very young children if they are not to be carried out. The complaint I am now making is in the same line as that I made in connection with the Department of the Registrar of Friendly Societies last night. The House passes Statutes which, if they were carried out, would be productive of enormous good, but which are utterly disregarded. In the case of Oldham there is no doubt about the law having been disregarded. A gentleman wrote me a letter a year and a half ago calling my attention to the facts I have stated, and this gentleman has since repeated his allegations on oath. I do not blame the Chief Registrar for not initiating prosecutions, as he had no knowledge of these events, no report having been made to him; but the subordinate Registrar was clearly bound to report or prosecute. Unless the Government will promise to inquire into the matter and cause some 1754 representation to be made to the Chief Registrar, and through him to the Registrars throughout the country, I shall move the reduction of the Vote. I do not wish to do that, as I look upon such a Motion as one which should only be resorted to in the last extremity.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
I desire to call attention to the tables prepared by the Registrar General in regard to deaths. I drew the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board last Session to the increase in the number of cases of cancer which is taking place in England, and suggested that information specially bearing upon this disease should be supplied in the Registrars' Returns, but the right hon. Gentleman, whilst admitting the importance of the question, declared that the staff of the Local Government Board was not such as to enable them to undertake any further duty. On looking into the matter, I must say it hardly seems to me that it would cause any additional labour to the Local Government Board, as the work would be done by the officials under the Registrar General. The death tables, valuable as they now are, should be extended so as to afford information on the subject to which I have referred. Sir Spencer Wells has lately called attention to the great increase of cancer in the United Kingdom, and has suggested that under the head of "Cause of death," further particulars, especially in respect of the organs effected, should be given. He says that the disease has doubled itself within a comparatively short space of time, and he and other members of the medical profession are anxious that there should be some means of ascertaining the cause of the increase, as it may enable them to supply a remedy. Additional information as to age, occupation, and geographical distribution might be afforded. The Irish tables are much fuller than those of this country, and if the English standard were raised to the Irish the medical profession would be satisfied. I do not think it can be said that there is not sufficient authority under the Act of Parliament to require this information to be given, as the powers under the Act are very general.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I gather that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Childers) is anxious to ascertain what 1755 the Government are doing or contemplate doing in connection with the census. It is true we received a deputation on this particular subject a short time ago. The recommendations of the deputation I may divide under two heads. In the first they urged that the census should be quinquennial instead of decennial, and, secondly, that the information should be much more ample than that now afforded, especially with regard to the skilled and unskilled workmen, and to employers and employed. Of course, it will be the duty of the Government to consider the recommendations of the deputation. I have been in communication with the Registrar General, and have found that there would be great difficulty in obtaining the additional information. It is only a week ago that I had my last interview with the Registrar General. He went fully into this question and stated that it is not easy to obtain accurate statements of what is now required, and he feared that if we were to endeavour to obtain information as to employers and employed, and skilled and unskilled labour, we should not only get incorrect information on those subjects, but damage the information obtained under the existing system. He urged on me that there was a reluctance on the part of those who are asked for this information to give information as to whether they are employers or employed, or skilled or unskilled. There is frequently a tendency on the part of unskilled workmen to take advantage of some incident of their employment to make out that they are skilled, and in the same way a tendency on the part of the employed to make out that they are employers. Indeed, the line of demarcation can scarcely be drawn between classes of labour, for workmen are themselves sometimes employers also, and come under both categories. With regard to the question of a quinquennial census, the Registrar General states that even if we were to get an intermediate census, confined mainly to the enumeration of ages, sexes, inhabited houses, and the like, the cost and labour would be almost as great as that of the present census. But it has been suggested that, looking at the fact that the great cost was the cost of enumeration, 1756 the reduction of expense in taking such a census would not be so great as was at one time supposed. I do not, however, intend to rest satisfied, and I have informed the Registrar General that I will put definitely in writing certain propositions to which I have requested his most careful consideration. I have also thrown out the suggestion that there may be some of the information which they now obtain that is not of such great value as that which it is desired to have, and whether some of the information that is now obtained might not be omitted, and other information obtained that would be more useful. All these matters the Registrar General has promised shall be carefully considered. An hon. Member opposite has alluded to Mr. Booth, a gentleman who has devoted much time and labour to the subject in a manner highly praiseworthy. It does not follow, however, because that gentleman has been able to gain more information than the tables of the Registrar General give, that the matter is an easy one. But I am fully aware of the great value of having some conference with Mr. Booth and the hon. Gentleman at the Local Government Board, and I am in hopes that some of the difficulties raised in connection with the subject might perhaps be disposed of if we had a personal conference. I understand that arrangements are being made for such a conference. I am most anxious to obtain all the information that is desired by those who take an interest in this subject. But I wish the Committee to realize the very great difficulties that stand in the way. Unless we have some guarantee that the information they desire is fairly accurate, it will not be worth collecting. I have been asked by the right hon. Gentleman what work has been done in preparing for the next census. Sir, a great deal of work has been done for a considerable time past; a great deal is now going on through the Registrar General on the question of the areas. There had been a great change in the areas in connection with divided parishes, and also through the Local Government Act of last Session; and attention is being given to all these matters, with the view of forwarding the work of the census when it is undertaken. I have especially put it to the 1757 Registrar General whether it would assist him if the Bill, instead of being passed next year, as would be the natural course of things, were passed this year; and his reply was nothing would be forwarded by the passage of the Bill this year. The Registrar General has convinced me that there is no stoppage in the work at present, and that the work is now going on.
§ *MR. CHILDERS
Would it not help the Government and the Registrar General if a small Commission were appointed to make preliminary inquiries before the Bill is introduced?
§ *MR. RITCHIE
That point has not escaped my attention, and when I have pursued my investigation a little further I shall he glad to let the right hon. Gentleman know the conclusion which has been arrived at. With regard to the matter referred to by the junior Member for Northampton, I will make personal inquiries into it, with a view to see whether or not the law has been obeyed. I am sorry to hear that such a state of things as he suggests exists in Oldham.
§ *MR. BRADLAUGH
I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that I suggested the Government should inquire into the allegation that the Oldham Registrar has neglected to report breaches in connection with the insurance of children under five years of age, thereby allowing illegal societies to carry on operations while registered societies have been paying more than they ought to
§ *MR. RITCHIE
I will make personal inquiry into this matter, and avail myself of any information the hon. Member can give me with a view to seeing that the law is not evaded. With reference to the question raised by the hon. Member for Harrow as to the increase of cancer and the insufficiency of the tables, I will undertake also to make inquiry into this subject and communicate with him. If anything can be done to give fuller information upon matters of such vital importance I shall be happy to do it.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON
I wish to urge upon the President of the Local Government Board that a new item might be introduced into the census. It would be of great interest to the country, for it deals with a matter vitally affecting the statistics. Temperance has made great progress during the 1758 last 10 years, and I think in the census papers there might be a column showing the number of total abstainers.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
I have been much impressed by the suggestion that instead of having a census once every 10 years we should have something in the nature of a continuous Statistic Department and a continuous census. Under the present arrangement you have for every census to form a special establishment to work it, and the task is not completed for several years after the census is actually taken, so that when you get the statistics some of them are almost out of date. You do not in fact get the full benefit of the enormous expense which you incur. If you had a continuous establishment you could keep your machinery up to date, and the work would be got out much more rapidly, while you could get additional information. I hope that this question will be carefully and adequately considered by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his answer to me a short time ago as to the facts supplied by the Registrar General in regard to the causes of death, and the detection of causes of death by violence or crime. As a matter of fact this country is behind every other country in Europe in that respect. In 17,000 cases of death people were buried in England without any steps whatever being taken to ascertain the cause of death. In Scotland matters are ten times worse, and in Ireland matters are even worse than that. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to talk to him privately, for I may be able to induce him to reconsider his decision.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I desire to say a few words on the important question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham. I think it is unfortunate that this discussion did not come on earlier so that the debate might have been more exhaustive. I sympathize very much with what was said by the hon. Member for the Harrow Division, I think the tables are singularly deficient in regard to some statistics of mortality. I look upon the Census as the Intelligence Department of the country, by which it is able to survey its population, health, and circulation; and 1759 with regard to the question whether this subject should be in the hands of a spasmodic and temporary or a permanent body, I think there cannot be two opinions. So important a matter deserves a well-equipped and permanent department; and if the right hon. Gentleman only takes the steps necessary to establish it permanently, I do not think he is likely to meet with any opposition, even from the most rigid economist. Now, I fully sympathize with the objects aimed at by the hon. Member for Rotherham; but let me point out that, in regard to census statistics, there is a very strong disinclination on the part of the people of this country to anything like an inquisitorial inquiry, and I am afraid that if some of the questions suggested by the hon. Member were put, the replies would in sundry cases be more forcible than polite. With regard to what has been said by the hon. Member for Belfast, of course it would he desirable to be able to have statistics showing the effects upon men of temperance as opposed to a moderate indulgence in stimulants. I heard a large shipping agent once say that he never employed a captain who was a total abstainer because he felt assured he would prove to be a badly-reformed drunkard who would break out into intemperance again when he got an opportunity. I fear that a large number of hopeless sots would take the advantage of a census paper to give themselves a good character by describing themselves as abstainers. While sympathizing with the suggestion of the hon. Member. I must say I do not think it is a practical one.
Vote agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again this day.