HC Deb 27 July 1896 vol 43 cc699-700

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland,—(1) whether the Board of Poor Law Guardians of Belfast Union had any legal authority for admitting to the workhouse from the district asylum Eliza Jane Hanna, who did not belong to the union of Belfast, and by what authority did the auditor to the Local Government pass the charge of her maintenance on the rates of Belfast; (2) whether he will give the name of the pauper who was exchanged for Eliza Jane Hanna; (3) whether it was at the instance of the Local Government Board or the Board of Control that the system of exchanges between patients in the workhouse and asylum at Belfast was instituted; (4) whether the Local Government Board will make careful inquiry into the matter before it now gives its approval to this system which facilitates the removal of the afflicted poor from properly equipped asylums to places never intended for the reception of such cases; (5) whether he will state what number of such transferred patients were on the 18th instant in Belfast Workhouse, not belonging to Belfast Union but illegally kept there at the expense of the Belfast ratepayers; (6) and what is to be done as to the illegality of the admission and charge of maintenance in these cases?


Patients in asylums are transferred to the workhouses of the district from which they come under the provisions of the 11th Section of the Act of 1875, but in this case it would seem that instead of being sent to the Antrim Workhouse, to which she was properly chargeable, Hanna was transferred to the Belfast Workhouse in exchange for Margaret Dendinney, a dangerous lunatic requiring Asylum treatment. This transfer appears to have been the result of a private arrangement which existed between the Guardians and the Asylum Governors, but this practice was discontinued in March, 1894. It was neither at the instance of the Local Government Board nor of the Board of Control that this system was instituted. The Auditor states it would not be possible for him to verify the chargeability of every person admitted to the workhouse. This is a matter for the Guardians to decide at their next meeting subsequent to such admission. As to the fourth paragraph, communications, I understand, are being carried out between the Guardians and the Asylum Governors with reference to the interchange of inmates. There were twelve transferred patients in Belfast Workhouse on the 18th instant who were not properly chargeable to that Union, and arrangements are being made to re-tranfer them back to the Asylum as soon as possible.