§ MR. THOMAS LOUGH
The Amendment that I have put down here is in order to more fully define the duties of the county councils in regard to the care of the lunatic poor in their district and county. The words that I have proposed to omit run as follows—Provide and maintain sufficient accommodation for the lunatic poor in that county, in accordance with the Lunatic Asylums Acts.Instead of these words I propose to insert the words which appear in the English Act, and then the clause will run—It shall be the duty of the council of every county to carry out the necessary revision, enlargement, maintenance, management, and visitation of, and other dealings with, asylums for pauper lunatics.My objection to the words of the Bill is that there is not sufficient guidance 96 given to the county councils as to the spirit in which they shall carry out this important duty. I believe that this is another of those clauses drawn with a fear that the county councils will be extravagant. My fear is that they will be niggardly, and that they may perpetrate one of the greatest disgraces in the country at present by their management of these asylums. I think there is no more disgraceful thing in the existing Castle system, as it is called in Ireland, than the management of the lunatic asylums. There are 22 of these lunatic asylums in Ireland, and out of the 22 there is only one which has been constantly mentioned in this House, and with the condition of which this House may be said to be familiar, and that is the Richmond Lunatic Asylum. It is constructed to accommodate 1,000 patients, and it actually contains something like 1,600 or 1,700. It is not only overcrowded, but it has become plague-smitten, and it has bred infectious diseases, which are not only unknown in any other part of Ireland, but in any other part of Europe. You may think that the Richmond Lunatic Asylum is a singular instance, and that all the other asylums are in good condition, but the truth is exactly the opposite; the Richmond Lunatic Asylum is a good specimen of the whole of the Irish lunatic asylums. Almost every one of them is overcrowded and plague-smitten, and some of the most terrible diseases exist in these asylums at the present time. I must say that the Bill effects a practical reform that I desire to see carried out in taking them from the control of the Castle and putting them under the county. But I want the Chief Secretary, if he can, to kindly give his consideration to the question of the enlargement of the definition of the county council's duties which I have proposed, because I am afraid that if the clause stands as it is at present the various county councils will be guided entirely by the existing traditions of the treatment of lunatics in Ireland. The words, "sufficient accommodation for the lunatic poor in accordance with the Lunatic Asylums Acts," seem to me to be likely to suggest to the county councils that they are to do the very least possible for these poor persons. Instead of these words I suggest a wider definition—the definition 97 given in the English Act. Of course I am not absolutely attached to the words I have suggested to be inserted, I have only taken them because they have the very high authority of being used in the English Act; but if any better definition can be given I shall be satisfied, and I only press upon the Chief Secretary that the instructions given to the county councils in the Bill as regards their responsibility of caring for the lunatic poor are not sufficiently explicit and humane. I beg, therefore, to propose the Amendment which I have put down.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
If the honourable Member will examine the first sub-section of the clause he will see that the words which he thinks are insufficient are enlarged in that sub-section, because the sub-section empowers the Lord Lieutenant to adopt a remedy. That subsection runs—It shall be the duty of the council of every county to provide and maintain sufficient accommodation for the lunatic poor in that county, in accordance with the Lunatic Asylums Acts, and if it appears to the Lord Lieutenant that any council fail to perform such duty, he may order that council to remedy the failure within the time and in the manner (if any) specified in the order.Then there is a sub-section to the clause dealing with the question of management, that is Sub-section 5, and that runs—The county council, through the said committee, shall properly manage and maintain every lunatic asylum for their county; and, subject to the provisions of this Act, may appoint and remove the officers of the asylum and regulate the expenditure; and the powers, under the Lunatic Asylums Acts, of the Lord Lieutenant, or the inspectors of lunatics, as to these matters, and as to land and buildings, and as to the appointment of governors or directors, shall cease, and also the board of control for lunatic asylums shall be abolished.I think, therefore, there is no sufficient reason for the honourable Member saying that there is no adequate instruction to the county council to perform their duties in connection with lunatics in the clause. The question of management is left entirely to the county council, the Lord Lieutenant only intervenes when the county council fail in performing their duty. I may add that I do not think there is any justification for the charges which the honourable Member has brought against the management of lunatic asylums in Ireland.
§ MR. J. TULLY
I think the Amendment which the honourable Member for Islington has brought forward as to the assimilation of the law relating to the management of asylums in Ireland with the law in England, is a very good one indeed. There is one point which has been overlooked by the Government in connection with this matter of lunatic asylums in Ireland, and which I think the Amendment might cover. That is the point to which the inspectors of lunatic asylums in Ireland have been referring year after year in their reports, in regard to a provision for having in Irish lunatic asylums a class known as "paying patients." In Ireland you cannot, at the present time, in public asylums, have that class of paying patients. In England, on the other hand, provision is made to provide for that class. I think that is a very serious blot on the law as it stands at present. I have been reading the reports of the inspectors in Ireland, and year after year they have been asking the Government to make this slight change which would enable the poor people who are not exactly paupers—middle-class people, traders, shopkeepers, and farmers—to be treated as a separate paying class in these asylums. That has been already done in the case of the union hospitals. After a great deal of hesitation a provision was made in the case of the union hospitals that people who were willing to pay for the maintenance of their friends could get their friends treated as paying patients, and as a separate class. That has worked very well. It has removed a great deal of the odium which had hitherto attached to those hospitals, and they are, as a consequence, more largely availed of by people in different parts of the country. In the case of the asylums this is the time when we should insist upon a moderate reform in this direction, because there are a number of cases of people who are able to pay £20 or £30 a year in support of their friends who are afflicted with lunacy. At present if their friends are sent into the district asylums they are clothed in the same uniform as the pauper lunatics, they are treated exactly the same, and are marched out to do the work that the pauper lunatics have to do. It is very distressing to the relatives of these people to see their friends treated in this 99 manner, but the only alternative for them in Ireland is to send their friends away to Scotland to private asylums where they are accepted on moderate pensions. In Ireland there are only a few private asylums, run simply as personal speculations, and it is to the interest of the men who are running them that the patients who are put into them shall not be treated with a view to their ultimate recovery.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The remarks of the honourable Member are not relevant to this Amendment, because the words of the clause and the Amendment deal only with pauper lunatics.
§ MR. DILLON
On a point of order, Sir, there are no such things as pauper lunatics; that term does not apply in Ireland.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
I take the words from the Amendment of the honourable Member for Islington.
§ MR. M. HEALY
May I suggest that it is part of the functions of lunatic asylums to take in patients who are able to pay?
§ MR. TULLY
I think it should be clearly understood that these remarks of mine are covered by the Amendment of the honourable Member, which says, "carry out the necessary provision, enlargement, maintenance, management, and visitation of, and other dealings with, asylums for pauper lunatics." These words should, in my opinion, be held to include a provision of the law which is existing in England at the present moment. I am asking for nothing which is not the law in England, and I think that in the few remarks I have made I have striven to establish a case for a change, and I hope that the Government will later on, if not at the present moment, take some steps to insert this provision which their own inspectors have been asking for year after year.
§ SIR T. ESMONDE
I think that the proposal to allow paying patients to go into these asylums is a very good one.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
The question is not raised under this Amendment. This Amendment is strictly limited to paupers.
§ MR. LOUGH
We are dealing with asylums for pauper lunatics, and these asylums in Ireland are unable at present to take paying patients at all, and these very words which I have proposed to be added in the English Act give that liberty which honourable Members from Ireland would like to see included in this Bill.
THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS
Even if the contention of the honourable Member for Islington is correct, I do not think that the question which has been raised is covered by this Amendment.
§ SIR W. FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
I should like to support the Amendment of my honourable Friend on these grounds, because the Amendment contemplates giving more definite and larger powers than the original words convey to the county councils in Ireland, and the Amendment gives these powers by certain specific words so as to encourage the county councils to do the duties in connection with the asylums without waiting for the order of the Lord Lieutenant. I am rather in favour of the exercise of local government in such matters rather than allowing them to lean too much on the central authority. As the words of the clause stand, they rather tend to encourage such a leaning. I should be glad to see greater liberty given to these county councils to interfere in the work of the asylums without waiting, as I said before, for orders from the Lord Lieutenant, and because I think that the words of my honourable Friend would indicate more specifically the manner in which the county councils should exercise their powers, I am of opinion that the Amendment ought to be supported.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I have already explained the reason why I object to this Amendment. The first sub-section states that this particular duty of the county council, in connection with the lunatics, shall be properly done, and the failure to so properly do it may be visited upon them by an order of the Lord Lieutenant. If, in the opinion of the Lord Lieutenant, there has been a failure, then the county council is made the subject of a special order. No doubt the county council would consider that it was undesirable that there should be an order from the Lord Lieutenant in such a manner, and would act accordingly, and I may say that we have already taken in the Bill full powers for providing that the county councils shall not fail in their duty.
§ MR. DILLON
I cannot say that I am prepared to support the Amendment of the honourable Member for Islington, but I certainly do not like to allow the words of the first sub-section of the clause to pass without some protest. Of course, it would be more convenient to take a general discussion as to the working of this clause upon the clause as a whole, after the smaller questions raised by the Amendments have been disposed of. The words proposed to be left out by the honourable Member for Islington would cast a burden on the ratepayers, which I am sure would be found to be absolutely intolerable, because the words of the first sub-section say—It shall be the duty of the council of every county to provide and maintain sufficient accommodation for the lunatic poor in that county, in accordance with the Lunatic Asylum Acts, and if it appears to the Lord Lieutenant that any council fails to perform that duty he may order that council to remedy the failure within the time and in the manner (if any) specified in the order.As I say, I do not intend at this stage to enter into that question at large, but in my opinion, in view of the reports of the Lunacy Commissions and the present condition of the lunatic asylums of Ireland, to throw upon the ratepayers the burden of providing adequate accommodation for the great and daily increasing number of lunatic poor in Ireland 102 is a cruel and most outrageous proposal. Taking into account the financial proposals of the Bill later on, I cannot support the Amendment of the honourable Member for Islington, and I think it would be more convenient to take the discussion on the clause as a whole.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
In order to put the Committee in order upon this subject I will move to add as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment of the honourable Member for Islington "and to make provision for the reception, at moderate pensions, of lunatics other than pauper lunatics." I think that would meet the objections that have been raised upon this point, and I think it would offer the Committee a chance of putting into the Bill a very useful provision. The honourable Member for South Mayo has spoken of the great amount of cost that would be put on the ratepayers if this clause passed in its proposed form. I would respectfully suggest to him that a great number of these people who are confined by magistrates' orders as nominal pauper lunatics are of a class who would be very glad to avail themselves of the opportunity of paying a pension. I move, therefore, as an addition to the proposed Amendment—And to make provision for the reception, at moderate pensions, of lunatics other than pauper lunatics.
§ Amendment negatived without a Division.
MR. T. M. HEALY
, in moving the following Amendment—Clause 9, page 4, line 37, leave out 'Lord Lieutenant,' and insert 'Local Government Board;'Clause 9, page 4, line 41, leave out 'Lord Lieutenant,' and insert 'Local Government Board;'said: To-day, thanks to the beneficent influence of the English Government, 103 there are 20,000 lunatics in Ireland. My Amendment deals with a subject which goes to the root of the whole matter. Originally the State made no contribution to lunatics in Ireland. The landlords, who drove the people either mad or to America, took very good care that they should not contribute anything to lunatics, and the British Government assisted them in that by placing the whole charge of lunatic upkeep and management on county rates. The British Government, in the original Acts, seemed to suppose that only a very small number of lunatics would have to be provided for. I think, in the original Acts, the idea, was that there would not be more than 30 or 40 per county, and the British Government conceived themselves to be extremely liberal when they came to the conclusion that 4s. a head would be a sufficient contribution from the Government for the upkeep of these institutions. Time went on, and at last Her Majesty's Government, being of a frugal mind, have determined to throw the whole charge of these lunatics upon the counties. That is done under this Bill. And in doing so the Government have provided for the abolition of the Board of Control, and they substitute for the Board of Control the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. I can assure the Committee that if there is any subject upon which we feel more bitter than another it is this one. The suggestion is that the Board of Control, which has hitherto looked after Irish lunatics, is to be abolished, and that the care of these 20,000 persons is to come under the kind patronage of Lord Cadogan and his successors. Subsection 1 provides that the Lord Lieutenant shall do the work of the Board of Control. The Lord Lieutenant appears also, in Sub-section 2, the Lord Lieutenant appears in Sub-section 4, the Lord Lieutenant appears in Sub-section 5, the Lord Lieutenant appears twice in Subsection 6, and the Lord Lieutenant also appears in Sub-section 7. That is the end of his Excellency. At the outset, I 104 denounce the proposal contained in this clause as a gross hypocrisy. Everybody knows that the Board of Control is not going to be abolished, everybody knows that the Lord Lieutenant is not going to look after these lunatics, everybody knows that a Department in Dublin Castle, presided over by Sir F. Cullinan, C.B.—who will be the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for the purpose of this section—assisted by clerks, will fill the position of the Board of Control. I have been looking into the Reports that have been made to the Lord Lieutenant on this lunacy question, but which have never been acted upon, and I turn to the latest of them. It is a Report made in 1878–9. The Committee reported that (page 103)—We are of opinion, therefore, having surveyed the whole question, that the whole of the lunacy administration of Ireland should be under the general control, as the Poor Law and sanitary administration is, of the Local Government Board.Well, that was the opinion of these gentlemen in 1879. I turn to earlier Reports, and I find that they all denounce the management of the Irish lunatic system, and suggest that it should be placed under the Local Government Board. In order to give the Committee some idea of the cost and of the constant manner in which this question was being brought under the notice of Parliament, I quote from a Report presented in 1867–8 as to the cost of this system at that time. I find that they complained then, as we complain now, of the enormously growing cost of the upkeep of the lunatic asylums—that is to say, of the 22 or 23 county institutions worked without control, and practically without any vigorous check being placed upon them. The grand juries of Ireland said at that time—There are at present 23 asylums in Ireland, and unless some alteration is made as to the class of persons sent to them a considerable number of new asylums will have to be erected.The Government neglected that Report, as they neglected other Reports, and as 105 they will, no doubt, neglect every argument addressed to them to-night. The only alleviation brought about by the present Government has been the turning of the women out of Grangegorman gaol, and the turning of the overflow of lunatics into it. It was stated in 1867–8 that no charge on the county cess had so enormously increased as the charge for lunatics. If that was true then, how much more bitterly has it come home to us now? This I know—it may be denied in Committee to-night—but this I know, that when I made my Amendment first—when I first put it upon the Paper—and I did not hear this from any officials—the Government were disposed to accept it. Is that denied?
MR. T. M. HEALY
I say, when I first put my Amendment upon the Paper it was about to be accepted by the Government, but the clerks in the Castle and the lunatic inspectors—I beg their pardons, Commissioners; they are an order of what is called birthday men, entitled to certain privileges when the Queen's birthday comes round, and must be called Commissioners, they object to the term inspectors—those gentlemen objected.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
There is absolutely no truth whatever in the allegation which the honourable Gentleman has made. The Government never had any intention of accepting this Amendment.
MR. T. M. HEALY
What is the Government? Who are the Government? Is the right honourable Gentleman the Government? Where is the Cabinet? There is no one present on those Benches. Or is the Lord Lieutenant the Government? He has no voice in this House. I say that my Amendment was practically regarded as an accepted Amendment in Dublin Castle, and was so treated in that ancient hostelry until 106 these objections had been raised. Now, what is the defence of the present system of the management of lunatic asylums in Ireland? It is not even pretended that you have made a success of it. Admittedly, year by year, the cost of asylum management is growing; admittedly, year by year, you do not turn out any more cured patients; on the contrary, you are creating or you are treating the asylums as huge prisons. There is no efficient method, and, in fact, if a doctor turns out a patient as cured from an asylum, and he does anything wrong or commits any offence, that is the very last patient the doctor ever allows to leave the asylum. The notion of treating these asylums as curative institutions is absolutely absurd. You are making them tombs for the people by your system. As contrasted with the systems of other lands, I say your system of lunatic treatment in Ireland is a failure and a disgrace. Who is responsible? Dublin Castle is responsible. It has kept the thing in its own hands, and appointed its own inspectors or Commissioners, who, under the system, are grossly overpaid, both as regards salary and pension, and which so afflicts our annual Estimates. As regards the pension, the way in which these officers are run in and run out, after two or three years' service being run off on a pension, is disgraceful. If I had supposed that this Amendment would have come on to-night I would have given the House a few samples of it. Why, in Dublin now there are men who, in the bloom of their youth, are walking about as gentlemen at large, instead of doing something to earn the money which this Government provides for them. I say that there is no efficient control, and, what is worse, there is no sympathy. What is the alternative? Nobody has criticised the Local Government Board at times more strongly than I have done. We have criticised it up and down continuously during the last 17 or 18 years upon the Estimates. But it is a Board 107 which you can criticise. There are people upon that Board whom you can get at. You can go into the Customs House, and argue with the gentlemen inside, and local authorities can address remonstrances and resolutions to the Board. The gentlemen on the Board also regard themselves as being persons under Parliamentary control. We know them by name, though, indeed, the Government have got rid of two of the members in view of this Bill. But what is the Board of Control? Is it pretended that that is an office of Her Majesty? No such pretence could be made, and consequently I demand the acceptance of my Amendment on behalf of the suffering poor, whose unassuaged sorrows and afflictions call aloud to Heaven for vengeance. Because, of all the appalling systems which your alien rule has set up in Ireland, the most appalling is this lunatic system—this death in life, without hope, without comfort, without society, and without cheer, and, as I say, without efficient control. I propose to substitute some sort of Parliamentary control for the appalling system, which has had the disastrous results that this has had in the past. I say that you are not entitled to keep the dead hand of Dublin Castle upon the throat of this system. What entitles you to keep the control in Dublin Castle? What line of argument do you take? The money you pay, the 4s. a day, is not your money. You do not pay it. We pay it; the British give us nothing. The British are the outdoor relief of Ireland. You pocket millions every year out of our money, while you are talking all the while of the milch cow of the British Treasury, by which we are spoon-fed. You are simply paupers existing on Irish money. All we wish to do here is to claim the control, not for an Irish Board, not for a Board nominated under the Castle system, but for a Local Government Board, every member of which is your nominee, and who will be responsible under the Bill. I believe you will have the choice of nominating them, in place of the gentlemen you have turned out in the cold, because you would not give them a few more years. That is not denied. You said that Sir George Moffatt said he would 108 keep on if you gave him five years, but you would not give it to him, and then you say he went at his own request. You offered him one year, which meant that he would be kept on to do all the drudgery under this Bill, and he said, "No; if I am to be kept on, I want more than one year, I want something further." The right honourable Gentleman the Irish Secretary lives in the Palace of Truth, and I sometimes think there must be a telephone laid on between there and Paradise. What do we ask? We ask that we shall have the dealing with this system of lunacy administration, not by a popular Board, but a Board of your own nominees, whom we could criticise in Parliament, and who, when they send down their inspectors to this Board to be created, can be met by open criticism, and we make this demand at the moment when the British Government is shouldering off its responsibility for the failure which it has created, when, having given us its 4s. per day, it has not ceased from its manufacture of lunatics. So far as the British Government is concerned, they tell us, "Thus far shall we go, but no further, but you may get as mad as you like." Year by year, decade by decade, and generation by generation, the total of Irish lunatics has gone on increasing, and we ask that, as you are able to do nothing to bring assuagement and criticism to this system, you shall hand it over, not to Dublin Castle, but to an establishment, of which the Chief Secretary should be the head. We want an institution of which the head is not the Lord Lieutenant, who sits in the House of Lords, but which is the Chief Secretary, whom we can criticise in this House. In that spirit I move my Amendment, and in doing so, I take leave to say that I do not think in the history of British Administration in Ireland there is anything more miserable than the attempt to throw the increasing lunacy, which is of your making, upon the shoulders of the Irish people.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The honourable Gentleman has made in this Committee a most extraordinary speech. The greater part of it, I must say, has in reality been a violent attack on Dublin Castle, and not only on Dublin Castle, but also on certain officials whom he has actually mentioned by name.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Who are not here to speak for themselves, but whose action it is my duty to defend here. The honourable Member has stated again and again that the management of lunacy in Ireland depended, not on a Board of Control, not on the inspectors of lunatics, but upon Sir Frederick Cullinan and the clerks under him.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I understood the honourable Gentleman to say "will be already." The honourable Member goes on to say, "Dublin Castle, by which we are now to understand Sir Frederick Cullinan and his clerks, were prepared to accept this Amendment." What has Dublin Castle got to do with accepting or rejecting an Amendment in the House of Commons? The acceptance or rejection of the Amendment falls ultimately upon the House itself, and the idea of substituting the Local Government Board for the Lord Lieutenant has never entered into the mind of the Government, for reasons which I shall presently explain. The honourable Member opposite has gone farther than this in his attack upon Dublin Castle, for he has referred to the retirement of Sir George Morris and Sir Francis MacCabe from the Local Government Board, and apparently it is to Dublin Castle that he again ascribes the retirement of these gentlemen and the appointment of their successors. Sir, he 110 has told the Committee that these gentlemen have been practically forced out of office. Now, I can myself tell the Committee this: that both of these gentlemen have expressed to me personally their desire to retire, and that, in reality, they have been continued beyond the term, at which they themselves would have been willing to retire. But the most extraordinary thing is this: the honourable Member has made a great attack upon Dublin Castle, but his other charges seem to have very little in them. But if it is really true, as the honourable Member says, that he is in possession of all these curious revelations as to what Dublin Castle is, and what Dublin Castle says, that, indeed, would be the severest condemnation of Dublin Castle which I have yet heard from him, because it appears to me that the honourable Member is very much more in possession of the views and opinions of Dublin Castle than the Chief Secretary is. The thing is perfectly ridiculous from beginning to end, and I must say that these attacks upon Dublin Castle are some of the most absurd things that I have ever heard of, even within the four walls of the House of Commons.
§ AN IRISH MEMBER: No, no.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Yes, Sir. I do not hesitate to say that the officials at Dublin Castle are as zealous and as efficient as the officials in any other Government Department; and it is, to my mind, monstrous that these continual attacks should be made against men who are actually incapable of defending themselves. What would be said if such attacks were made upon the officials of the English Departments? And why should officials in the Irish Department be treated worse than in the English Department?
§ AN IRISH MEMBER: Because they are worse.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Is not the task which is thrown upon these gentlemen difficult enough without 111 being exposed to the calumny and abuse and aspersions which are so constantly cast upon them from the opposite side of the House? Now, Sir, I come to the merits of the honourable and learned Member's proposal. He says that we ought to substitute the Local Government Board for the Lord Lieutenant. I may explain that that could not in any case be done without extensive alterations in the law, which we are certainly not prepared to propose to the House in this Bill. The Lord Lieutenant, in the matters to which this clause refers, will have to act upon the reports of the inspectors of lunatics and other inspectors, who are a perfectly independent body, for the Lord Lieutenant, in all matters with which he is not closely conversant, will have to act upon the report of the inspectors. Now, if you are to substitute the Local Government Board for that independent body, if you are to substitute the Local Government Board for the Lord Lieutenant in this clause, it will necessarily follow that the inspectors of lunatics will have to be put under the Local Government Board. There may be something to be said for that, but there is also something to be said against it; but merely to subsitute the Local Government Board for the Lord Lieutenant would not carry out that change, and to carry out that would involve an extensive alteration of the existing law.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Well, I am not prepared to make it at all events in this Bill. In defending the inspectors of lunatics as a separate Department we are again following the English practice. The inspectors of lunatics in England have to report to the Home Secretary, and the Home Secretary has to carry out the duties, or some of the duties which are proposed, and which are the same as those functions which are entrusted to 112 the Lord Lieutenant under this clause. I refer in particular to the inspectors of lunatics in England, who have to report as to the sufficiency of accommodation. If the accommodation is not sufficient, then the Home Secretary orders the county council to provide sufficient accommodation. The honourable and learned Member says that there ought to be a Department with a Parliamentary head upon whom they could make an attack, and that he should not be the Lord Lieutenant who sits in the House of Lords. But surely the honourable and learned Member knows perfectly well that the Chief Secretary is here to represent the Lord Lieutenant, and if any attacks are to be made upon the conduct of that Department it is upon the Chief Secretary that attack should be made. That is the constitutional usage.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
What difference does that make? Is a Member of the Cabinet not to be attacked? If he is in charge of the business of a great Department in the House of Commons, is he not there to answer questions?
§ AN IRISH MEMBER: Yes, certainly.
§ MR GERALD BALFOUR
I only hope the theory—a very extraordinary theory—which the honourable Member for Donegal has set up that the Chief Secretary should be exempted from all attack because he is not a member of the Cabinet—
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
The right honourable Gentleman is perfectly right in commenting on my conduct, but he shall not misrepresent me. What I said was that the Lord Lieutenant cannot be criticised because he is not a Member of this House; and by a Rule of this House he is outside the range of criticism.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The honourable Member must be aware, or if he is not he ought to be, that in these matters the Chief Secretary takes the place of the Lord Lieutenant. The Lord Lieutenant is the Constitutional expression, but the person to be attacked, if anybody is to be attacked, is the Chief Secretary. Sir, I cannot see that, unless you are prepared to make extensive alterations in the law, which will require a great deal of consideration, this Amendment of the honourable Member, which is a simple thing in itself, but upon which he put such an extraordinary construction in his speech, is not one which ought to commend itself to the favour of the Committee.
§ MR. E. H. CARSON (Dublin University)
While I do not agree at all with many of the views put forward by the honourable Member for Louth, this Amendment does appear to me to raise a most important question. Now, Sir, I think the honourable and learned Member was unjust in his criticism of this section even as it is drawn, because while he denounced the Lord Lieutenant as being callous of the sufferings of the pauper lunatics he seemed to forget that under this particular sub-section the Lord Lieutenant will have the power to interfere only when the county council has neglected to do its duty. Therefore, all the strictures which have been passed upon the probable indifference of the Lord Lieutenant in the future—strictures with which I do not concur—seem to me to fall to the ground. But Sir, that does not in the slightest degree settle the question, and the matter still remains as to what the Lord Lieutenant should, or should not, have to do with reference to the matter under this section, or, indeed, under any part of this Bill at all. Sir, it is perfectly true that when you mention the Lord Lieutenant as having the power of supervision you do not mean the Lord Lieutenant at all, and the Lord Lieutenant himself will have no more to say as to supervision 114 under this section than any Member of this House will have, except as far as an honourable Member might bring the subject before this House. The reason why I think the matter is worthy of consideration by the House is this, that I do think it is a pity that the Queen's representative in Ireland in matters in which he will not in reality be concerned at all should be, under Acts of Parliament, consequently brought into the necessary hostility which must arise in reference to executive Acts. And of course if it was the fact that the Lord Lieutenant himself had to perform certain functions under this Bill, and that it was impossible to carry out the Bill without the intervention of the Lord Lieutenant, then the section of the Act might be enacted in the way it is. But, Sir, I want to know why, if the county council in Ireland fails to do its duty under that section, should we have the collision that must necessarily then occur between the Executive and the persons in the habit of being entrusted with this matter, and why should we have the hostility which must occur between them? Why should that be put down to the Lord Lieutenant, who is simply the Queen's representative in Ireland? Why should the responsibility not be put down to the Department which will have to carry out the matter in the absence of proper supervision by the county councils themselves? I should like to know how the Lord Lieutenant is to act in the matter at all. We are told that, in regard to this particular matter, there are inspectors in lunacy who will make reports to the Local Government Board. Well, Sir, the Lord Lieutenant will act solely upon those reports of the inspectors in lunacy, but why cannot these inspectors make their report to the Local Government Board? The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary seems to think there is some difficulty about the matter, but I cannot see it. If the formal matter is to be done upon the reports of these inspectors under the 115 various Lunacy Acts, I cannot for the life of me see why a particular Department cannot carry out what is reported by these inspectors just as well as the Lord Lieutenant, who will probably never see the reports at all. And that brings me to the second question, as to whether the Local Government Board are the proper persons to entrust with these matters. Sir, the Local Government Board ought to be a strong central authority for carrying out the various functions that are imposed upon them by the Bill, and they will have to be a strong authority if they are to act, in any sense at all, according to the spirit of the obligations cast upon them by this Bill. Now, Sir, what are the Local Government Board to do at present? They have to supervise and superintend, and do, in relation to boards of guardians, and the proper supervision for the sane paupers in Ireland, exactly what we say they ought to have to do if this Amendment were carried in relation to the pauper lunatic asylums in Ireland. They have exactly analogous duties in every way. They have to see that proper accommodation is provided, that the rates are properly collected and applied, and they have duties imposed upon them of themselves appointing proper persons to carry out what the boards of guardians are permitted to do. All we ask in relation to these matters under consideration—namely, the pauper lunatic asylums—is that there should be a proper Department answerable to this House, and a Department which we can hold liable if they do not carry out the directions of these Acts of Parliament; and, above all, in a country like Ireland, a Department which will be above all politics and political parties, who may be in power for the time being, and that they shall be persons who will see that the duties cast upon the county councils shall be carried out. I do think that we, on this side of the House, ought to take every opportunity—and under this Bill we have several opportunities—of dissociating the executive power in the person of the 116 Queen's representative, and I do think that this ought not in any sense to be a party question. I believe that there are many honourable Members on both sides of the House who are agreed that it would be much better, if you are to have the Queen's representative in Ireland, that he should be there solely and only as the Queen's representative, and not be put forward as doing executive acts which must be the responsible acts either of the various permanent Departments you set up or of the particular political Government which may be in power for the time being.
§ MR. DILLON
I do not think that anybody can say that the lunacy administration in Ireland, as it stands at present, or as it is proposed to be constituted under this Bill, is satisfactory; but, on the other hand, I confess that I do not think that the transfer of the lunacy administration of Ireland to the Irish Local Government Board is a satisfactory solution of the problem. It may be that it would be an improvement on the present state of affairs, or on the state of affairs proposed to be set up under the Bill. The honourable Member for Dublin University said that the Local Government Board had to do, under the present law, exactly the same for the sane poor as it was proposed by this Amendment that they should do for the insane poor. As a matter of fact there are no insane poor in Ireland. I confess that I think it would be a pity to bring the administration of lunacy in general in Ireland into the same close connection with, and under the same machinery, the administration of the Poor Law, which has been shamefully neglected for years in Ireland. I hold and feel strongly that the question of the administration of the Poor Law is based upon a totally different principle from the question of the administration of lunatic asylums, and I think the two things should be dealt with quite separately. The charge of the lunatic 117 poor may, I think, fairly be held to be an Imperial charge. But, from the very nature of the case, the State, in dealing with the lunatic poor, should be protected from any abuses or any of the extravagances of a too wide administration. Therefore, I maintain the question of the administration of the lunatic asylums is not, as the right honourable Gentleman said, analogous to that of the administration of the Poor Laws, and the two things, I think, ought to be kept entirely apart. I really approach the consideration of this question with a perfectly open mind. One argument—and a very strong argument for the Amendment—was pointed out by the honourable and learned Member for North Louth when he said that what it proposed to do was to place the administration of lunacy in Ireland under a body which should be responsible directly to this House. If I thought that the Bill proposed to take the control of lunacy administration away from this House, of course, on that ground alone I should heartily support the Amendment; but I understand from the Chief Secretary that he himself would be responsible, under the proposals of the Bill, in the fullest sense for the lunacy administration in Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
Therefore the administration would be just as much open to criticism in this House as it is now. I understand the Chief Secretary to give his word that in case the Bill passes in its present shape he would be equally responsible to this House for the lunacy administration, and that assurance cuts away one, at any rate, of the arguments advanced in support of the Amendment. Now I turn to the Report of the very interesting Departmental Committee which sat in 1894 on the question of lunacy administration in Ireland. The Report points out that the Statutes con- 118 cerning lunacy administration are 27 in number, commencing with the Act of 1834, George I. In paragraph 7, on page 3, they state that the question of the transference of the control of lunatic administration from the Board of Control to the Local Government Board had been very carefully considered, and they believed that such transference would be a great improvement on the existing arrangement. After full examination of the whole matter they arrived at the conclusion that the creation of a strong and independent department was necessary if the lunacy administration of Ireland was to be made as satisfactory as that of England and Scotland. I confess that those are the lines on which I should like to see this problem solved. The question of lunacy administration, both as regards private and public asylums in Ireland, is one which undoubtedly is, year by year, increasingly engaging the earnest attention of all who take an interest in the welfare of the people of Ireland. I think the burden of properly controlling the administration of these asylums is probably too great to be borne satisfactorily by the Local Government Board, and that what is required is an independent department with nothing else to attend to. I do not know whether the Government can give us any hope that some reform may be carried out on those lines. I daresay the Amendment of the honourable and learned Member for North Louth would be an improvement on the whole, but I could not see my way to give a silent vote, feeling so strongly as I do upon the subject.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I confess, speaking for myself alone, I am altogether in favour of the Amendment. This 9th Section, in my view, is one of the most vital and important sections of the entire Bill. The increase of lunacy in Ireland is a problem of the gravest character, and I submit it is the first duty of any Government that may 119 be in power to determine how to grapple with it. I quite agree with honourable Members who have already spoken on this question, that the first duty of the State is to provide for those who may be afflicted with lunacy through no fault of their own. Take, for example, the Richmond Asylum in Dublin. The state of that asylum is, I venture to say, a public scandal. It is overcrowded in a most scandalous manner, and the effect of that overcrowding has been to generate a disease of the most infectious and dangerous character—the disease of beri-beri. The existence of such a state of things—and no doubt similar lamentable conditions prevail in other asylums—is a disgrace to the Government which is responsible for it. But, strong as is the necessity for some reform, I unhesitatingly say that the provisions of this clause are entirely inadequate to effect that reform. Now I come to the Amendment of the honourable and learned Member for North Louth. I agree that it is most undesirable to throw personal responsibility in this matter upon the Lord Lieutenant for the time being; but, so far as I understand the clause, the responsibility would be thrown, not on the Lord Lieutenant personally, but he would have the assistance of his Council. He may act either on the advice of his Council or on the suggestion of the Chief Secretary—who, perhaps, would be his responsible adviser—but there is nothing In the clause to compel him to do so. On one point I differ from the honourable and learned Member for North Louth. I do not at all join witih him in his criticisms or observations about the officials in the various departments of Dublin Castle. I speak from a certain amount of experience, and I think I should be doing less than my duty if I did not announce, as the result of my experience, that I believe they are all most honourable men, and most anxious to discharge their duties efficiently. I am speaking of them, of course, as individuals; I do not speak 120 of the system. I am averse to the bureaucratic system which, prevails in Dublin Castle, but I think, having regard to my experience of the officials, I should be unworthy if I did not pay this tribute to them individually. The system, as a system, I totally deprecate, but, speaking of the officials only as individuals, I cannot in any way join with the criticisms of the honourable and learned Gentleman. Now, we know that the Local Government Board is about to be reconstituted. Two members of that Board—Sir George Morris and Sir Francis MacCabe—having retired, the Government have it in their own power to fill up those vacancies by the most competent men. It is possible now for the Government, if this Amendment is carried, to obtain the most able assistance and the best constituted board for the purpose of superintending the management of these lunatic asylums, and I trust the right honourable Gentleman will not fail to take advantage of this opportunity.
§ MR. KNOX
When the honourable and learned Member said that the Irish Lunacy Commissioners had seldom had any previous experience of lunatic asylums, I thought of looking through the number of men appointed Commissioners of Lunacy in England. The English Commissioners, I venture to think, would vie with their Irish brethren in the want of experience. We know that certain honourable Members of this House have, from time to time, been appointed Commissioners who have had no experience of lunacy, except, perhaps, in this House. So far as I understand, lunacy administration is one of those things to which it is of great advantage to be able to bring a fresh mind, and that is why, in making these appointments, men are chosen who have had no previous experience. These gentlemen who are appointed as Commissioners of lunacy are neither better nor worse than other gentlemen who are sent about 121 in Ireland to make inspections of other kinds. It is usually a mere accident that they are selected for this particular duty. I do not say they are incompetent; I daresay they discharge their duties conscientiously according to their abilities; but the fact remains that they are appointed without previous experience, and I cannot see that we have any assurance that there would be any better inspection of lunatic asylums if the work were done by a separate department appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, rather than under the control of the Local Government Board. I know that in many respects the present system works most unsatisfactorily. For instance, take the matter of building arrangements. When a new asylum has to be erected the authority of the Board of Control has to be obtained. So far as I can understand, there will be no change in that respect under this Bill. It is true the Board of Control will be abolished, but the work will still have to be done "to the satisfaction of the Lord Lieutenant," which means the Board of Control, and the effective voice in the matter will be that of men who may be experts in lunacy, but who certainly know nothing about architecture, and there will still be the same absurd requirements made by these gentlemen, who are never satisfied unless the architect appointed has something to do with the Board of Control. I think there is little to be said for these separate departments, dealing with various items of local government. It has been said that Ireland is the most inspected country in the world. I am altogether against the multiplication of these separate departments. The more simplicity we have in the administration of Ireland the better.
§ MR. ARNOLD - FORSTER
The Amendment moved by the honourable and learned Member for North Louth does not appear to me to be absolutely relevant to this clause. I believe there 122 is nothing more important in this matter than popular control, which makes it the interest of those who support the lunatics to get rid of them as soon as possible. The honourable and learned Member, in some of his observations, criticised individuals, but I take it that his real objection was to the particular body which is to be charged with the supervision of the county councils. I would point out that the supervision will not begin until the public authority has failed to do its duty. The Chief Secretary has definitely stated that he will be responsible to this House for the administration of lunacy matters, and that completely answers one of the main reasons advanced against the clause.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I think that the popular feeling in Ireland is that the Local Government Board is really a most unsuitable body to have the supervision of lunatics. That is certainly the view of everybody who has had experience of its administration. There is no doubt a feeling that reform is necessary in the matter of inspection of asylums, but no one believes that the Local Government Board is the proper body to take the work in hand.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
No one acquainted with the facts will dream of defending the condition of pauper lunatics in our asylums, but that condition is not in any way due to the Local Government Board. It is due simply to the unjust state of the Poor Law, and without some special legislation the Local Government Board will be powerless to make any change in the condition of these unfortunate people. The real question is this: in the future, the control of lunatic asylums is to be entrusted to the county councils. Their management is to be supervised by a central body in Dublin, and the question is whether that central body shall be the Local Government Board or the advisers of the 123 Lord Lieutenant. I am at a loss to understand how there can be two opinions upon the matter. In the first place, the work I take it which the Department would have to discharge would be the work of inspection and supervision. Now, the Local Government Board at present discharges the duty of the inspection of workhouses. Why should not the inspection of asylums be carried out conjointly with the inspection of workhouses? There is no reason why lunatic asylums should not have the same direct and constant supervision which the Local Government Board at present exercises over the workhouses. One cause of the failure of the present system of dealing with lunatics in Ireland is the totally inadequate supervision exercised over the asylums by the inspectors. I am in favour of the supervision of all institutions of this kind by the State, and I think the duties of inspection and management could be carried out with satisfaction by the Local Government Board.
§ MR. TULLY
I think it cannot be denied that there is a great deal to be said for the Amendment although I agree that the Local Government Board have completely muddled all the arrangements with regard to the treatment of pauper lunatics. Still, if we are to choose between the Local Government Board and the Lord Lieutenant, I think we should decide in favour of a Department whose acts can be criticised in this House.
MR. T. M. HEALY
The right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary has really not answered one of the objections I advanced against this clause. The Board of Control is to be abolished, and the question is: what authority shall be substituted in its place? No one can deny that the whole system of the treatment of lunatics in Ireland has been disgracefully mismanaged, and what we feel is that no effective reform will be brought 124 about so long as the system is controlled from Dublin Castle.
§ It being Twelve o'clock, the Debate was adjourned.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.