HC Deb 05 April 1894 vol 22 cc1430-2
MR. M'CARTAN (Down, S.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he will state the number of additional nurses and officials appointed to the lunatic department of the Belfast Workhouse since 1st November last; also the number of deaths in the lunatic department since that date, and the number on which inquests have been held; whether the epileptics are still kept in the lunatic department, and if the Local Government Board has instructed the epileptics to be so kept there; whether, at a recent inquest on an epileptice who died in that department, held in Belfast, the coroner's jury strongly protested against this practice; whether he will state by what authority epileptics are placed there, or lunatics kept under restraint in the workhouse; whether he is aware of the practice of exchanging patients carried on between the workhouse authorities and the Governors of the asylum at Belfast; and if some inquiry will be made into the whole system in relief of those helpless afflicted persons?

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

At the same time, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman when he proposes to introduce his promised Bill dealing with the detention of pauper lunatics in Irish workhouses?


(1) A medical officer and six male and female attendants have been appointed to the lunatic department of the Belfast Workhouse since November 1 last; 41 deaths have taken place in the lunatic department since that date, and the number of inquests held was 10. (2) Epileptics, I am informed, are still kept in the lunatic department, but the Local Government Board have not directed that they should be placed or kept there. The matter is one appertaining to medical administration, and rests solely with the responsible medical officer. I understand, however, that the epileptics occupy separate dormitories, day-rooms, and sick wards, and are only associated with the lunatics in the dining-hall. (3) The reply to the third paragraph is in the affirmative. (4) The authority for the employment of restraint in this, as in all civil hospitals, is the order of the responsible medical officer, who directs that it shall be imposed when he deems it, necessary for the safety of the patient or those about him. (5) The practice referred to in paragraph 5 did exist prior to March, when it was terminated by the Guardians. As regards the concluding paragraph, and the question which stands in the name of the hon. Member for South Tyrone; just before the Autumn Recess I stated that the whole question of lunacy administration was receiving my careful attention, and that I hoped to confer at an early date with the Inspectors of Lunatic Asylums on the subject. In consequence of communications which afterwards passed between me and the Inspectors, I have caused a Bill to be prepared dealing with the whole question of lunacy reform, including the particular branch of the question referred to by the hon. Member for South Tyrone. The Bill, however, inevitably contains matter which I fear might be regarded as contentious, and in the present state of public business I see so little prospect of carrying it into law this Session that I do not think it worth while to include it. On the other hand the object aimed at by the question of the hon. Member for South Tyrone should not, I conceive, be regarded as controversial, and I shall see whether it is possible to introduce a separate Bill dealing with this branch of the subject.


I may explain to the right hon. Gentleman that the question was intended to refer only to pauper lunatics.

MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

Would the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman change the incidence of the charge from the poor rate to the county rate? Such a Bill would be most contentious.


I think the hon. Member had better wait till he sees the Bill.