HC Deb 12 June 1893 vol 13 cc794-7
MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board a question of which I have given him private notice, and that is whether the Local Government Board will undertake to assist the Metropolitan Asylums Board in acquiring further sites for fever and small-pox hospitals; and whether he is aware that, the Asylums Board have informed the Sanitary Inspectors that they are unable to accommodate patients whom they have been asked to receive?


As this is a very important question, and one on which there is a considerable amount, of public interest, I may, perhaps, be allowed to give a rather long answer. In connection with this question, it is desirable that I should state the facts as regards the action of the Local Government Board during the last three years. We have received in all four applications. The first application had reference to the site at Tottenham. The proposal was submitted in April, 1891, and was most strongly opposed by the Local Authorities and the owners and ratepayers interested in the matter. The Local Government Board, after full consideration of all the circumstances, came to the conclusion that the Managers should endeavour to obtain some other site for the erection of a hospital for that part of the Metropolis. This decision was arrived at in June, 1891. No further proposal was made to the Local Government Board for nine months. On March 18, 1892, there was a proposal of a Committee of the Managers with regard to a site at Stoke Newington. The Board replied on March 30, pointing out that the New River ran through a portion of the site in an open cut, that a park which had recently been provided for the use of the inhabitants was only separated from the site by a road, and that the Board felt obliged to direct attention to these facts as likely to afford grounds of objection beyond those which are usually offered to the erection of a fever hospital. The recommendations of the Committee which had been dealing with this matter were, however, negatived by the Managers, and the proposal was not, therefore, proceeded with. The Board received no further proposal until June, when the Managers revived the Tottenham site; and Mr. Ritchie, having been assured that after careful inquiries the Managers were satisfied that no suitable site for a hospital could be obtained in the North-Eastern part of the Metropolis, agreed to re-open the question, and after a local inquiry assented to the use of the land in question temporarily for hospital purposes. As the time in respect of which the consent has been given is expiring, I have had this site under my consideration, and after another local inquiry I have informed the Managers of my willingness to assent to the continued occupation of this site on certain conditions as to the reception of patients from the Tottenham district into the hospital. Early in the present year there was a proposal as to a hospital at Tooting Bee. This proposal aroused strong opposition. The inquiry was held in March; I subsequently inspected the site in company with Sir W. Foster and Sir H. Owen, and after very careful consideration we decided that assent to the acquisition of this site must be withheld. The only other site which has been proposed to the Board is one in the Lewisham district. The application was received last month. It has since been the subject of an inquiry by two of the Board's Inspectors, and I am now awaiting the reply of the Managers as to certain alternative sites which have been suggested by those who are opposing the present proposal. I am fully aware of the difficulties which always attend the acquisition of a site for a fever hospital. At the same time, Parliament has made the acquisition of sites by the Managers subject to the consent of the Local Government Board; and the Board, however desirous they may be of assisting the Managers, are bound to exercise the power thus entrusted to them with a due regard to their responsibility to Parliament and the public. I quite realise the difficulty in which the Managers are placed as regards applications for the admission of fever patients—a difficulty which is considerably increased by the fact that buildings which would otherwise be available are now required for small-pox patients—and I am aware that the Managers are discouraging applications except in necessitous cases. I shall do everything in my power in the way of giving prompt attention to any proposals which the Managers may submit to me for providing further accommodation.


I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his very full answer. May I further ask him whether the area within which it is now lawful for the Metropolitan Asylums Board to acquire sites might not be somewhat increased, so as to give further facilities for the acquisition of sites?


I am not aware of any limit imposed by law, and I have considered the matter in the Tottenham case, and consented there to the erection of a permanent hospital outside the Metropolitan area. If I find that any further legislation is necessary I shall be happy to attend to it, as it is, in my view, quite impossible to confine the provision for those patients within the present Metropolitan area.

MR. J. HOWARD (Tottenham)

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will give directions, in reference to the Tottenham site, that it shall not be used for small-pox patients?


I have already done so.