§ Considered in Committee:—
§ [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith), CHAIRMAN OF WATS AND MEANS, in the Chair.]
§ (In the Committee.)217
§ MR. DILLON
moved upon Clause 9, page 5, line 11, that "subject to the provisions of this Act" should be left out. This is an Amendment which I do hope the Government will see their way to accept. The object of this Amendment is to give to the county councils the power to appoint and remove the officers of the asylums. Now I must put this to the right honourable Gentleman if I am not correct in reading the Act; as it stands, in Sub-section 5, it is provided that, subject to the provisions of this Act, the county councils may appoint 218 or remove the officers of the asylum, but when I turn to see what are the provisions of this Act to which this subsection refers, I find Sub-section 4 of Clause 55 is to the following effect—Where any part of a salary of an officer of a county council is paid out of money provided by Parliament, or from Local Taxation (Ireland) account, he shall not be appointed or removed, nor shall his salary be fixed or altered without the concurrence of the Local Government Board, and he shall have such qualifications (if any), as may be prescribed; and for the purposes of this enactment, part of the payment to every county council out of the Agricultural Grant shall be deemed, to be paid in respect of part of the salary of the secretary of the county council, and of the county surveyor, and of any assistant surveyor.And then upon the next page, Subsection 4, Clause 56, says the provisions of this Act, respecting officers of the county council, shall, subject, as aforesaid, apply to the officers appointed under this section—that is, of course, under the licensing committee, as well in a county borough as in any other county. The grant paid out of the local taxation (Ireland) account for lunatics shall be deemed to be paid in respect of a part of the salary of any resident medical superintend ant or assistant medical officer. Therefore, as I read the Act—of course, if the right honourable Gentleman says I read it wrongly, I will not take up any more time—as I read the Act, in Section 9 you confer upon the committees of the county councils the power to appoint and dismiss the officers of the asylums; but, as I said just now, in Sub-section 4 of Section 56, by some curious kind of artificial arrangement, you take away that power from them.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The honourable Member is not quite correct under Clause 9; the committee will have the appointment or dismissal of the officers, but subject to the provisions of this Act, which says, in effect, that any appointment or removal shall have the sanction of a superior authority—that is, as regards the medical officers, of course.
§ MR. DILLON
That is to say, you take away from the committees of the county councils the appointment and 219 dismissal of their officers. They can neither appoint nor dismiss their offices without the consent of the Local Government Board—that is, if my view is right. I fancy that by some oversight you have drafted this wrongly. I think that you really meant to give that power to the Lord Lieutenant, but for the purpose of my argument it does not matter whether the veto was given to the Local Government Board or whether it was given to the Lord Lieutenant. I maintain that the committees of the county councils ought to have power to appoint or dismiss their officers without any veto whatever. I desire to say at the very outset that this Amendment of mine would in no way affect the position of the existing officers. It would simply affect the position with regard to the committees of the county councils and their future officers. Now, I will as briefly as I possibly can, place before the Committee the ground under which this provision in the Act is, in my opinion, improper. In the first place, I will direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary has himself placed upon the Paper this morning a Government Amendment dealing with the matter. In Sub-section 5, in a new clause, he proposes to hand over to the joint committee as constituted, without any reserve, veto, or interference, the power of appointment or dismissal of the medical officers of the county infirmaries. I do not think that this Amendment will interfere with the existing officers of the existing asylums, but on what ground does the right honourable Gentleman justify his Amendment giving the joint committees the right to appoint or dismiss their officers without veto, while, at the same time, he denies that power to the county councils? I think a more extraordinary position was never taken up by him. There is another and, as I think, an unanswerable argument in favour of my Amendment. I turn to page 42 of the Departmental Committee which sat in 1891 for the purpose of inquiring into the lunacy administration in Ireland. It was a very strong Committee, and this question was taken into consideration by it. Speaking of the appointment of 220 medical officers to the lunatic asylums, the Committee says—Under existing arrangements, the appointment of the resident medical superintendent is vested in the Lord Lieutenant. All other important officers are appointed by the Governors, but the approval of the Lord Lieutenant is required. We agree with the Royal Commissioners of 1858 in much of what they said in regard to these appointments. 'We do not see,' they say, 'why the Executive Government should interfere in these matters, or that its interference has led, or is likely to lead, to a better selection of officers than would be made by the local authorities. It is true that the election may tend to local contentions, and that private feeling may prevail to the prejudice of the institution. We think that there is not a little reason to believe that political influences might lead to an equally injurious result, if the appointments were left to the Executive.' They go on to say, 'It appears to us, however, that the Central Board (that is the General Board of Lunacy) had a veto on all appointments, and that the Executive should have a power of removal on their recommendation, founded on full investigation of the officer's incapacity or misconduct.' The General Boards of England and Scotland have no such veto on appointments, nor is there any interference on the part of the Government with the removal of officers from English and Scotch asylums. These appointments are left in the hands of the local boards, and the outcome is believed to be on the whole satisfactory. Contests for appointments are keen, but the best men are usually chosen. The consciousness of responsibility leads generally to the preference of merit to other considerations. So far as Scotland is concerned, the advice of the General Board is often asked, and freely given; but the responsibility and power of the local boards are fully recognised and acknowledged. There would rarely be any practical difficulty in Scotland in effecting the removal of an officer for incapacity or misconduct, though possibly the removal might not come so sharply as it probably would do if the General Board or the Government had the power to issue an order, which must be at once obeyed, instead of being obliged to depend on reasoning and recommendations. Such recommendations, if well founded and well supported, prove irresistible in the end, though they may not be acted upon without some discussion and some waiting, but a little delay often does more good than harm. The circumstances of Ireland, however, appear to be exceptional, and in view of all that has been brought before us, we recommend that the General Board should have the power of vetoing the appointment of superintendents and superior officers, though we hope that the occasions for the exercise of the veto will rarely arise; and that the Lord Lieutenant, on the recommendation of the General Board, and after an investigation of the grounds on which the recommendation rests, should have the power to order the removal of any superintendent or officer of a district asylum, either on account of incapacity or misconduct.221 Now, not one single word contained in that Report explains what these exceptional circumstances are. What are they? If it has been found to work well in England and Scotland in the appointment and dismissal of medical officers, and has resulted in very keen contests for the appointment of those who have proved their superior merit, then I ask what are these special grounds alluded to in Ireland which call for different treatment, and I ask the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary before he makes any statement upon this Amendment to explain what they are. Is it to be said they are political grounds? If it is not what other grounds are there? I confess, in quoting this legislation on the lunacy clause of this Bill, that I may have been to some extent prejudiced; but I look at the construction of this clause with no political bias whatever. I had the happiness or misfortune in my youth to be a medical man, and I naturally do take a very keen interest in the medical departments of these institutions. It is purely for that reason that I take up the position I do. I do certainly strongly desire to see these new committees, as regards their power and responsibility, put upon an equality with England and Scotland; and I do claim from and ask the Chief Secretary for an answer as to these exceptional circumstances which necessitate this difference in the law of Ireland. And unless those reasons are overwhelming—and I cannot conceive that they will be—I hope the right honourable Gentleman will accept this Amendment.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
At the present moment not merely has the Lord Lieutenant the sanctioning of the appointment of the medical superintendent and the existing medical officers of the Irish lunatic asylums, but he himself actually appoints them. Under this Bill we are taking that power out of his hands and putting it into the hands of committees appointed by the county councils; but we do not think it is desirable or safe to put these appointments into their hands without some sort of check by a central authority. We hand over the control of these institutions to what is practically a body appointed by the county council, but the county council being a popularly-chosen body 222 we do not think that we should be safe in removing these checks. If, in course of time, after we had had some experience, it was found that the system which we propose to set up under this Bill works smoothly and well, it will be full time to make such changes as the honourable Member for Mayo desires. In the meantime I can only say: If the committee appointed by the county council under this Bill elect to appoint fit and proper persons to discharge the duties, and will consent not to remove them without good cause, there is not the slightest danger that their action will be interfered with by the Lord Lieutenant.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I do not think this is a convenient time to raise this question. I think it is a most extensive matter, and I do not intend to continue discussing it, except to say that I have watched the conduct of the local bodies in Ireland for 20 years—many of them years of fierce political excitement. During those 20 years the constitution of many of those bodies has been transformed, but during the whole of that period there has never been a case where a local board has dismissed an official without good cause. The crying vice of these local bodies is that they will not dismiss an incompetent official if they can in any way avoid it. Let him be drunken or let him be vicious, when his case comes up for consideration they say "Poor So-and-so, he has eight children, it will be very hard if we dismiss him." I challenge anybody who has searched the records of the Irish local bodies for the last 20 years to find a single, solitary case of an unjust dismissal.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN
It does appear to me that the Chief Secretary has submitted a very slender case for altering the provisions of this Bill from those of England and Scotland. He says that he has not sufficient confidence in the local authorities about to be established in Ireland to give them the powers which the local authorities both of England and Scotland possess. Now, if it had been found to be the custom of local bodies in Ireland to dismiss summarily or in any way treat unfairly their employees, there, no 223 doubt, would be some ground for the statement which he has made, but it does seem to me that the local bodies of Ireland behave in exactly the opposite way. I think they are far too lenient, and do not make their officials attend to their duties so strictly as they ought to do. At least, that is my experience of local management in certain portions of the north of Ireland, because I have known cases where men whom I have considered incapable and incompetent have not been so considered by the local authorities, who have retained their services. I have seen those men kept in their positions, and I have seen local authorities make great endeavours to cloak over the shortcomings of their officials. I have never known a case where the guardians did not extend to their very utmost their endeavours in order to grant superannuation to the highest possible extent. With reference to the statement made by the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary that he is of opinion that some care should be taken to protect the officials, I beg to remind him that the present officials will be continued in office, and will have all the protection which is necessary, but I do say it would be very unfair, and would be placing in the Local Government Bill which you are now about to give Ireland a very paltry provision. You will only hamper the future county councils of Ireland with provisions of this class, and I hope the right honourable Gentleman will consider this matter further before doing so.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I should like, before giving my support to this Amendment, to ask the honourable Member for Mayo whether he means that the words "subject to the provisions of this Act" shall include "regulate the expenditure" as well as the appointments, because that might make some difference in my consideration, because it appears to me the Amendment would be better if it ran thus: "the appointment and removal of the officers of asylums, subject to the provisions of this Act regulating the expenditure."
§ MR. DILLON
I have no objection to that, Serjeant Hemphill. Hinted in that way, I confess I altogether agree with the Amendment of the honourable 224 Member. I cannot resist saying—and I say it with the utmost respect—I was sorry to hear the grounds given by the Chief Secretary for his objection to this very reasonable Amendment. It comes to this, that he has such a want of confidence in the new boards which the Government are about to create by the Bill which is now before the House, that he could not safely entrust to these county councils even the appointment and removal of their own officers without restrictions. I was sorry to hear that, because we all hope, in the first place, that the county councils will be representative bodies, thoroughly representative of every class in Ireland. We hope they will represent the intelligence and value of the Irish people—all that is best in Ireland—generally, and we must always bear in mind, so far as the 9th clause is concerned, that it is through a committee that the county councils act, and that the committee may consist, as regards one-fourth, of outsiders, who would probably be experts, and men of the highest position and respectability. Therefore, there is every reason to confide to them untrammelled the appointment and dismissal of their own officials. This is a point I know upon which some of the public bodies in Ireland have had communications. In the first place it is not very clear what the provisions of the Act are that you allude to in this 5th Sub-section, and, as the honourable Member for Mayo pointed out, you must look at section 55, sub-section 4, in order to find out. Now, what does that sub-section say? It says, and it is quite clear, "where any part of the salary of an officer of a county council is paid out of money provided by Parliament, or from Local Taxation (Ireland) Act, he shall not be appointed or removed, nor shall his salary be fixed or altered without the concurrence of the Local Government Board." Therefore the Local Government Board has to control the appointment, and not the council through their committee, as contemplated in section 9. Why should that be? Why should you put the sub-section in a more, or less subsidiary position? You substitute these county councils for the grand juries, which were supposed to represent all the intelligence, and the the power, and worth of the Irish people, and you are going to submit to their 225 being snubbed by the Local Government Board without either rhyme or reason, putting a veto on their appointing or removing their officers. I do hope the right honourable Gentleman will have more confidence in these bodies which are to be created by this Bill, and that he will not press any further objection to the Amendment of my honourable Friend.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I entirely agree with the observations which have fallen from the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary. Of course, the result of the county councils about to be established is more or less problematical, and I think it would be extremely unwise to place in the hands of the county councils this power without the sanction of a superior authority. At the present moment, in England the guardians cannot dispense with the services of a doctor, a master, or a matron, without the consent of the Local Board. Why should it therefore be so in Ireland?
§ MR. DILLON
I suggested that the law in Ireland should be the same as in this country, so far as it applies to the administration of the lunatic asylums.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
All I can say is that it would be exceedingly unwise to establish by this Bill for all time the principle that the county councils should have this power. I have no doubt at all in my own mind that when a good case for dismissal is made out the Local Government Board would consent to the dismissal of the officer. Why should this arbitrary power be given to the county councils to dismiss doctors from the asylums? It is a very technical matter, and quite outside the intelligence of the county councils. Therefore I think the Chief Secretary is quite right in taking up the position which he has.
In my opinion the contention of the honourable Member for Mayo is a stigma upon the county councils. The honourable Gentleman must know very well that it only affects two officers, the medical superintendent and the medical officer, and the honourable Gentleman must know that no person can be appointed by any committee of 226 the county council but properly qualified. Why cannot you give the local committee the power and the rights that they have in England? If it is put forward by the Government that there is no reason for opposition and for this Amendment, I think, from the point of view of the medical officers themselves, that they would be quite satisfied to put their case in the hands of the local authorities. I myself have had some experience during number of years with the management of this question by boards of guardians, and I entirely endorse the statements made by the honourable Member for Tyrone. I hope that the non possumus attitude of the right honourable Gentleman will not be kept up, and that he will accept this Amendment.
§ MR. DALY
I would prefer to have the charge of the officers under the Local Government Board, because I have seen several cases in Ireland where the Local Government Board have actually dismissed officers, and the board of guardians have petitioned the Local Government Board to re-appoint them. I would prefer that the Local Government Board should have control of them in future. I think the right honourable Gentleman need have no fear to leave the management of the officers in future to the county councils. I think that the right honourable Gentleman cannot have any difficulty in accepting this Amendment. I think the officers will be better in the hands of the county councils than in the hands of the Local Government Board, and I speak from the experience of ten or twelve years as a poor law guardian. I hope the right honourable Gentleman will give the people a chance of having the management of the officers in regard to all matters under the control of the county councils, and that he will see his way to accept the Amendment of the honourable Member for East Mayo.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I do not think I can point to one such case. I fully recognise the truth of the remark that fell from the honourable Member for Cork, and I entirely recognise that, as a rule, every public body in Ireland hesitates to exercise their powers of dismissal, even when they ought to exer- 227 cise them. I have found it necessary on more than one occasion to direct the Local Government Board to dismiss an officer whom the guardians were anxious to retain. But I regard the question of appointments as of much more importance than that of dismissals, and it is because we wish to guard against the danger of improper appointments being made, at all events in the earlier years of this new system, that we cannot consent to this Amendment.
§ MR. DILLON
said he would invite anyone who objected to the Amendment to show that there was more danger of unworthy motives creeping in in the case of appointments made by local bodies than in the case of appointments made by a central body. Under the Bill the county infirmary committee would have an absolutely unchecked power to appoint or dismiss their medical officers. It was very easy to ruin a man by simply vetoing his appointment.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
appealed to honourable Members to bring the discussion to a close, and he pointed out to the honourable Member for East Mayo that if his words were left out the effect would be, among other things, to remove the sanction which the Bill gave to the appointment and dismissal of medical officers.
§ MR. TULLY (Leitrim, S.)
said that, as a matter of fact, the local boards were anxious that the responsibility and the odium of dismissal should rest upon the central authority. It would save a great deal of litigation if the power of dismissal rested with the central authority. There was a case he knew in which a town council had the power of dismissal without the intervention of the central authority. He thought that the large body of opinion in Ireland was that these appointments should be controlled by a Central authority. There was a great deal to be said on the other side of the question as well as on the side to which they had been listening.
§ MR. DILLON
said he would not put the Committee to the trouble of dividing now, but he would raise the question on a subsequent section.
§ The Amendment was withdrawn.228
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
moved his Amendment in regard to clause 9, page 5, line 12, to insert after the second "and," the word "all." He said the subsection of the clause appeared to him to be extremely insufficient. It provided that the powers under the Lunatic Asylums Act of the Lord Lieutenant, or the inspector of lunatics, as to those matters, and as to land and buildings, and as to the appointment of governor or directors, shall cease, and that the Board of Control for lunatics shall be abolished. The object of his Amendment was to go on and provide for the transfer of those.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND
said he need scarcely remind his honourable Friend that if the powers ceased it was impossible to transfer them afterwards.
§ On the return of the CHAIRMAN of WATS and MEANS after the usual interval,
§ Notice was taken that there was not a quorum, but when the CHAIRMAN counted 40 members were present.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
There has been a difference of opinion, Sir, on these Benches as to the difficulty of defining what the supervising authority of these asylums ought to be. Up to the present the work has been largely done by the usual inspectors of lunatic asylums, and it has been suggested that the work might be more satisfactorily done by inspectors under the Local Government Board, but the Government have declared against that; and what I wish to make clear at present is that, whether the inspectors be inspectors of the Local Government Board or inspectors of the Lunatic Asylums Board, a full public inspection there shall be; and that that inspection shall not be an inspection by unpaid persons, but shall be an inspection by persons who are paid and whose duty it is to go into these institutions and examine them, in order to see that the inmates are properly treated. Mr. Lowther, having that object in view, I was sorry to find within the past few hours that the Government had dispensed with one official whose experience would have been most valuable—I mean the visiting physician. Until a few yeas 229 ago there was in connection with every lunatic asylum a visiting physician, who lived outside the asylum, and whose duty it was to visit the asylum; and there is, in point of fact, a relic of that system still in existence in the City of Cork, where a visiting physician still exists. But as those officials have dropped off elsewhere, others have not been appointed in their places. Now, my view is that the more you allow officers who are outside to be engaged in this business, the better it is, and I believe the Amendment I have to propose only carries out the views of the Government. Therefore, I beg to move—in Clause 9, page 5, line 17, after 'abolished,' to insert 'Provided that nothing herein contained shall affect the powers of the Lord Lieutenant to appoint inspectors of lunatics as heretofore, or the power of such inspectors to visit lunatic asylums, and make such examination and inquiries as they are now empowered to make, or the powers and duties of such inspectors under the Lunatic Asylums (Ireland) Act, 1875.'
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I agree in the intention of the Amendment, but, Sir, I think it is totally unnecessary, and would only be confusing. The Amendment is in the nature of a saving clause, but it does not, as a matter of fact, cover all the powers which at present the Lord Lieutenant and the Inspectors in Lunacy have and which the honourable Member desires to preserve. It not only does not cover all those powers, but I am afraid the enumeration in the Amendment will tend to throw doubt on those powers which are not specifically mentioned in it. Among them are the powers of the Lord Lieutenant to vary districts and to convert a gaol into a lunatic asylum, the duty of the inspectors to visit every gaol or workhouse, or house of industry, in which any lunatic is confined, and to inquire the various methods of treatment, and other powers which the inspectors should exercise; and, again, the power of the auditor to make an order for payment in the event of an amalgamation of lunatic asylum districts. I only mention these, but there are one or two others, and it would be undesirable, as I am sure the honourable Member will see, to take an incomplete enumeration of this sort, as the effect would be to throw doubt on the powers 230 which are left out of the enumeration. And, further, all the objects which the honourable Member seeks to gain are, I believe, sufficiently made clear in Part 2 of the first Schedule to the Bill.
§ MR. M. HEALY
I have no desire to persist with my Amendment, having regard to the suggestion of the right honourable Gentleman that it is unnecessary, and that the object will be met by the schedule. But I may state that I have carefully studied the Lunatic Asylums Act, and I conceive that my Amendment would save to the inspectors all the powers which the Government would desire them to have. Of course, Sir, there is no necessity for specifying the power of the inspectors to visit gaols or workhouses, because those are not here affected, and my Amendment is only a proviso to Clause 9, and will not in any way trespass on the power of the inspectors of lunatics to visit gaols or workhouses. Neither would it affect their power to visit private asylums, for that is not mentioned in the clause. As regards the variation of districts, I am glad the right honourable Gentleman has alluded to that, because there is considerable doubt as to what will be the effect of this clause on the whole of that question. I think the effect of the clause, as a whole, will be to stereotype the existing law in some respects. Of course, something depends on the schedule of the Bill. I do not know whether the right honourable Gentleman thinks that the Lord Lieutenant will still have power to direct asylums to be built in certain cases; but I hold, Sir, that the power of the Lord Lieutenant to map out districts and direct that asylums shall be provided for each of them will be at an end. And similarly, Sir, as regards the apportionment of the charges, that power is also at an end, because the apportionment is now entirely carried out under the Act of 1878, and as the right honourable Gentleman is aware, that Act this Bill proposes to repeal. As a matter of fact, it was not included in the last Lunatic Asylums Act. It enabled the inspectors of lunatics to fix the proportion in which each district was to contribute, and I consider that that particular duty is affected by Sub-section 7 of this clause, so that in future the inspector will have 231 nothing to do with the assessment of the charge. I take it that, as the right honourable Gentleman says, he wishes to preserve to the Lord Lieutenant the power of varying districts, that that power will exist in the future as it has existed in the past. May I take it also that he will preserve the power of the Lord Lieutenant to cause new asylums to be erected in any district, because if he will not I do not see the advantage of changing a district in that way?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I think he will still have power to alter districts, and in any district which has no asylum, of course, it would be the duty of the council to see that proper accommodation for lunatics is provided.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
In view of what the right honourable Gentleman says, although I have a strong opinion as to the necessity for the proposal, I have no desire to persist with my Amendment.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I propose now, Sir, at the end of line 21, to move the insertion of the following words—And as to the conditions, and payments, and accommodation under which private patients may be admitted into and detained in an asylum.This, I think, will be a convenient way of meeting the point raised by the right honourable Member opposite. The matter was referred to in the House last night, and I think it is very desirable that there should be some provision in the Bill with regard to it.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
This is the draft of the Amendment that I beg to move. Clause 9, page 5, line 23, after "effect," insert "and shall have the same effect for the purposes of the fourth section of the Lunatic Asylums (Ireland) Act, 1875, as if made by the Lord Lieutenant and Privy Council." Clause 9, page 5, line 27, leave out from "to" to "and," in line 30, and insert "rateable value." This Amendment raises a somewhat important question, and I venture to put it forward for the careful consideration of the Committee. It may be that opinion will be divided upon it, but I am of opinion that a modi- 232 fication in the clause would be a desirable change. My Amendment changes the ratio under which different counties united in lunatic asylum districts are assessed for the purpose of contributing to the maintenance of patients. Now, so far as I have been able to read the Lunatic Asylums Acts there has been no law on the subject. The matter has been in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, and where two or three counties are united to form a lunatic asylum district it rests entirely with the inspectors to say in what proportion the several counties shall bear the charges. Henceforward, owing to the transfer of these institutions, it becomes necessary for the Government to put forward some scheme by which this important matter will not be left longer in the discretion of any official, but should be a matter of dry law. The method by which the Bill proposes to deal with the matter is this. It directs that the proportion payable by each county shall be fixed according to the number of lunatics, "according to the average of the three local financial years which ended next before the last triennial election of county councillors." Now I propose, on the other hand, that the charge shall be fixed by the rateable valuation of each county, and in making that proposal I think I ought to have the support of the Government, in view of a later provision in the Bill which proposes that where a union is divided between two counties the union charges should be apportioned between each divided part in proportion to the rateable value. Now, we in Ireland have been saddled for 16 years with the absurd system of divisional rating. Instead of taxing the union as a whole, the union was sub-divided in an arbitrary manner, and the law has been that each area has been built to support its own poverty. That has been an absurd system, and I cannot conceive what the advantage of it is. I believe it was in the interests of the landlords. According to my Amendment we get rid of that absurd system, and henceforward we will have the system of union rating. It proposes very much to do for the lunatic asylums district what has been done for unions—the plan of union rating. I do not understand why the plan of divisional rating 233 should have been selected for the lunatics, when you have got rid of it for the purposes of union rating. I conceive that, while arguments might be adduced for the proposal of divisional rating of the case of ordinary poverty, no argument can be put forward with respect to lunatic asylums. No such argument could be addressed in the case of lunacy, because, in lunacy there was no special condition to produce it. The number of lunatics who can be adduced in any county is not a matter peculiar to the circumstances of the county, it must depend upon the decrees of Providence. Now, at one time one area would produce a larger proportion of lunatics than another, and I cannot conceive why the Government should not have done in the case of lunatic asylums districts the same as they now do in the case of unions. My plan would have this further advantage—that the ratio would not vary for three years. As the clause at present stands a fresh assessment will have to be made every three years, and in my proposition the contribution of the area will be fixed by its rateable valuation; in other words, a rich area will contribute to the relief of the poor area, and the place with the large rateable valuation will come to the aid of the poorer district. It is a remarkable thing that up to this time there has been no fixed law on the subject, and the country has not even known on what principle the asylum inspectors proposed to make their assessments. I do conceive that the best plan would be that, when you have two counties in a lunatic asylum district, the contribution should be fixed, not by the number of lunatics, but by the rateable valuation of the district. That is the scheme of my Amendment, and I think it is worthy of consideration.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
This is one of the questions that it is almost impossible to discuss on abstract grounds. I do not say that, in principle, I have a very strong opinion one way or the other, but I hold that the Government are bound to make up their minds what system they will adopt, and it appears to me that if we were to adopt the principle recommended by the honourable Member it would create a great amount of discontent, and we do not think it 234 worth while to do that for the sake of a principle. You have to consider the maintenance of patients, and the Bill proposed is practically what has been in operation—namely, that each county should pay for the patients that it sent to the asylum. As regards buildings, until recent years the apportionment has been made on the basis of accommodation. The latest case of the Richmond Asylum was most carefully considered by the Privy Council, who considered that the fairest system of apportionment would be to average the number of patients during previous years. We have followed the decision of the Privy Council on that subject, and I hold that in deciding on the average number of patients we have taken the best course. The Chief Secretary has said he is more or less indifferent with regard to this question. I would suggest that, as the right honourable Gentleman is more or less indifferent, he should accept the Amendment of the honourable Member for Cork. It is, in my judgment, a most reasonable Amendment, and one that should receive due consideration from the Government. I happen to be the governor of an asylum, in which the lunatics come from two counties, Sligo and Leitrim, and I know that the largest proportion of lunatics come from the poorest districts, both in Sligo and Leitrim. As the right honourable Gentleman the Chief Secretary is not much concerned one way or the other, I would ask him to listen to the appeal of the honourable Member for Cork, and endeavour to introduce into the government of lunatic asylums the principle of union rating instead of divisional rating. This would relieve the poorer districts, and place upon shoulders able to bear the burden a certain amount of responsibility. As the honourable Member for Cork has said, the principle of divisional rating is to this effect, that the poorer the people are the more poverty they have to support. The poorer the people are in Sligo and Leitrim, the larger the number of paupers they have to support. I believe it would tend to the improved management of these asylums, if this Amendment were accepted.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I confess I think the clause better as it stands. I know that a good deal of 235 difficulty arose with reference to the Richmond Asylum, which is an asylum contributed to by three or four counties—Wicklow, Louth, the town of Drogheda, and the county and City of Dublin. Complaints were made by Wicklow and Louth that, whereas the number of lunatics from these counties to the Richmond Asylum was very few, they were taxed in proportion to the population. I think it is a fairer principle that the tax should be in proportion to the number of lunatics contributed by each county. I happened to be in office at the time this question of complaints about Richmond Asylum was considered. It was brought before the Privy Council, and the result was, if my recollection is right, that the proportion was regulated according to the population. But, whether that was so or not, I think the principle is fair. It would be very hard if in an asylum 500 lunatics came from one county, 50 from another, and only 10 from another, that the county supplying the lowest number should be as heavily taxed as the county supplying the larger number.
§ MR. J. HEYWOOD JOHNSTONE (Sussex, Horsham)
The question is simply one of proportion, or rather, of apportionment, of the cost of these joint asylums, and I do not entertain the slightest doubt that the apportionment should depend upon the services rendered.
§ MR. J. J. SHEE
In connection with this question of proportion, tion, nobody contests the fact that the poorer a district is, the greater is the number of lunatics in proportion to the population. It comes, in fact, to this, that we tax the poorer districts more heavily in proportion to valuation than the richer districts. As anybody who has studied the statistics of lunacy in Ireland knows, in those counties where there is tillage land lunacy prevails to a larger extent in proportion to the population than in the counties where there is grazing land. The poorer the land, the greater is the proportion of lunatics to the population. That being so, it follows that if you tax in proportion to the 236 number of lunatics you impose the heaviest tax on the poorest districts. The principle in this case is precisely the same as in the case of union rating; and as the Government have accepted a change in the law on that question, as against divisional rating, there can be no reason why they should not agree to a change in this other matter simply because it is a change. The right honourable Gentleman, the Chief Secretary alleges that the change proposed by this Amendment, if made, may produce discontent in those districts which would be affected adversely by it, but there is no ground, so far as I can see, for any such assumption. On every ground of justice and fair play a district should not be mulcted simply because it is a poor district; it should be treated fairly and on a level with the richer districts. Therefore I think this Amendment deserves a little more consideration from the Chief Secretary than the right honourable Gentleman has given it. The Chief Secretary has stated that, so far as the principle is concerned, he has no objection to accepting this Amendment, and his only argument against acceptance is that it may produce discontent. But there is no foundation in reason or probability for that contention, and I think the Government would do well to accept the Amendment.
§ Question put, and Amendment negatived without a Division.
§ Amendment proposed, page 5, line 32, to strike out the words "in case of dispute."
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
I propose to leave out the words "in case of dispute," because they will lead only to circuity. It is much better to have some authority to decide what the proportions should be. The clause itself says the committee shall be a joint Committee, with a representation of each council, determined in case of dispute by the Lord Lieutenant, in the same proportion as that in which the expenses are to be defrayed; but the clause itself indicates the proportion, and I do not see what object there is in anticipating that there will be disputes as between 237 the different parishes and then leaving it to the Lord Lieutenant to settle. It is not a matter of much importance; it is only a question of arithmetic, and it will only cause delay and create, perhaps, a burning grievance if you refer it to the Lord Lieutenant as if it were a disputed matter.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
The right honourable Gentleman says it is only a case of arithmetic, and if it is only a case of arithmetic it will hardly be necessary to bring it before the Lord Lieutenant. I do not think there will be any difficulty about the matter. The Lord Lieutenant is brought in to decide the proportion in which the councils are to be represented. In that case he might obviously desire it. Then the Lord Lieutenant will decide it, and I think the words are clear.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
It occurs to me that there is really nothing about which there can be a dispute. The words are—And the committee for the asylum shall be a joint committee of the councils of the counties, with a representation of each council.I leave out, for argument's sake, the words—Determined in case of dispute by the Lord Lieutenant.The concluding words of the clause are—In the same proportion as that in which the expenses are defrayed.Now, given that the expenses are an ascertained figure, and that proportion is fixed by Act of Parliament, why, then, put "in case of dispute" on a matter which ought not to be disputable?
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
But a dispute might arise on some question in regard to the number of the committee.
§ *MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
But the number of the committee is not an element at all in ascertaining the proportion.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
It is "a representation of each council." The Bill says that the representation must be in a certain proportion, but it does not fix the number.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
I hope the right honourable Gentleman will not accept 238 the Amendment of the honourable Member for Tyrone. I have a very considerable objection to too much interference on the part of the Lord Lieutenant with the operation of the county council; but I do say that in this case, it is putting if in the power of the Lord Lieutenant to fix the number, whereas the proposal of the right honourable Gentleman is that it is only in case of dispute that the Lord Lieutenant's interference would come in. The clause as it stands is much better than as amended by the right honourable Gentleman.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I think this involves a provision in that part of the clause which I certainly regard as of some importance. Sub-section 3 provides that—There shall be transferred to the council, acting through that committee, the business of the governors and directors of the asylum, under the Lunatic Asylums Acts, and the committee, subject to the general control of the council as respects finance, may act without their acts being confirmed by the council.'What this Amendment proposes is that the natural child of the county council, the committee, should be enabled to rise in rebellion against its own parent. As regards the finance mentioned in Sub-clause 3, it can be got rid of if the Lord Lieutenant thinks fit. That is my reading of it, which says, practically, that on matters of finance the council is the supreme authority. It does not relate to the case of two counties where they differ. I imagine that if you have your joint committee managing the asylum, and making certain financial proposals, and you have one concurring county and the other dissenting, as the clause stands you might get rid of it. What this clause provides for is, I take it, for the case of an asylum governed by a single county.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
But the Act provides that where a district comprises two or more counties there shall be a joint committee.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
Well, let the right honourable Gentleman consider 239 that two of the county councils may be against the decision of the committee. Suppose, now, that there is a committee formed by two counties to govern one asylum. The first part of the clause says that the financial questions shall be subject to the approval of the council. But the right honourable Gentleman proposes in this Amendment that, where a committee makes financial proposals, in such a case as I have put, though each of the counties may disapprove of what the committee has done, the committee will be able to override the action of both counties if it succeeds in persuading the Lord Lieutenant to approve of its action against the two counties which are contrary. It appears to me that we are entitled to demand that this Amendment shall be limited to the case where it is only one out of two counties. It seems to me a monstrous thing that if all the counties which go to make up the joint committee shall disapprove of any proposal, it shall still be possible for the committee to override the decision of all the districts concerned. Take the county of Cork, which you propose to divide—which I hope you will not. If you do you will have the committee constituted of so many members from East Cork, so many from West Cork, and so many from the city. That committee might make some financial proposals. All the three counties—East, West, and the City of Cork—might dissent from such proposals, but nevertheless the committee could go up to the Lord Lieutenant, and say—These three counties dissent from the financial proposals, but we think they are necessary, and we ask you to sanction them.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
Sub-section 3 says—Subject to the general control of the council as respects finance, may act without their acts being confirmed by the council.Well, Sir, this committee might recommend expenditure for a particular object, and one or more counties in the district might dissent, and the whole scheme might be supported with one objection. The honourable Member in his speech says it might simply mean all counties concerned—or two or more, as the case might be—being opposed to this expen- 240 diture, and then the joint committee might apply to the Lord Lieutenant to grant it. Well, Sir, if such a case should arise, I should undoubtedly think that the Lord Lieutenant would refrain from making the order. But it is not to be supposed that even in that case there is no remedy where the committee think that expenditure of that kind is necessary for the proper accommodation for the union. Under Sub-section I it is provided that—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 specified in the order.Under a subsequent clause of the Act, he has the power of controlling, in respect of maintenance. In the case of a single county council, he could adopt one of those procedures, and with the joint county councils we have thought it necessary to provide for where one county council or several object to the expenditure, although the others may agree to it. It may be that technically this does leave it just open to take that particular procedure to enforce it against the counties they represent, but I think it is a very remote danger.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
We have been listening to lectures all over the country upon the awful prospects of extravagance that the county councils in Ireland will be guilty of when they once get control of their own affairs. There is a dreadful feeling on the part of the large ratepayers; it is suggested that the one desire of the county councils will be to spend to the utmost possible extent. Now, I have observed all through this Bill a tendency to compel the county council to incur expenditure which the county council does not want to. I observe that the right honourable Gentleman has followed up that practice, in which he makes it compulsory for the county council to make these grants to the counties which before, apparently, the section of the Act left optional, and now we have this extraordinary proposal that a joint committee sent up by two or three or more counties will now form the joint committee. If the counties protest against any particular form of expenditure, the joint committee being in 241 favour of it, the joint committee have the power of going up to the Lord Lieutenant, and saying, "The counties are all wrong; we know better than they do," and though the committee are one and all opposed to this expenditure, the Lord Lieutenant upon being appealed to can make them spend this money. I did think that the right honourable Gentleman was going to say that it is not right to give the Lord Lieutenant power to compel a group of counties, united to resist a certain form of expenditure, to incur that expenditure, and it does seem to be absolutely unnecessary.
§ MR. JAMES C. FLYNN
I do not think the danger may be quite so remote as the Chief Secretary appears to think, and we can hardly expect in this House to be treated as if phraseology were of more or less small consequence. Well, Sir, it seems to me that in this Amendment of the right honourable Gentleman the part is greater than the whole, because obviously here a joint committee appeals from the more powerful body to the Lord Lieutenant. I think that, Sir, is rather vicious in principle, and is possibly also vicious in practice. I have followed the arguments of the honourable Member for the City of Cork, and I cannot conceive, particularly in a case like that, where presumably we have two or more counties, it possible, when these counties refuse their sanction to any expenditure, that they will be compelled to incur such expenditure upon the appeal of a small delegated body. I think that would be reversing the principle of local government into a sort of topsy-turvydom. I cannot conceive that a joint committee, fully acquainted with the needs of the lunatic asylums, could forward such proposal. On the other hand, let us conceive the case where a meeting of the joint Committee of the Asylum Committee is held at a short notice and without proper warning to the full body of the committee, and at a small meeting expenditure is embarked upon, surely the county council ought to have the power to deal with such expenditure. I do think this appeal to the Lord Lieutenant is the negation of the principle of popular control which this Bill presumes to set up. I do not think we have been unreasonable on these Benches in pressing for the 242 fullest possible powers for the county councils. I do not say that where the joint Committee appeals under any conceivable circumstances to the Lord Lieutenant that the Lord Lieutenant will act in an unreasonable manner, but the very fact that we have to appeal to him is not consistent with the clause itself, because the Committee well know that the new local bodies have larger powers than the present board of governors. If you compare the present power of boards of governors with the power that is to be conferred on these new Asylum Committees, you will find that these new Asylum Committees get very much larger powers. That may be a very desirable thing, but it is quite another thing to say that they shall go beyond that, and by appealing to the Lord Lieutenant shall overrule the bodies which called them into existence. I cannot conceive why the Amendment is brought forward at all.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
If the honourable Member for Cork (Mr. M. Healy) will wait until the Report stage, I shall be prepared to undertake that where a majority of the county councils concerned are opposed to any object approved by the joint Committee, this particular method of applying pressure by the Lord Lieutenant shall not be applied.
§ LORD EDMOND FITZMAURICE
I have always understood that a writ of mandamus would apply to such a case.
§ The Amendment was then agreed to.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I beg to move to add, at the end of Clause 9, page 5, line 34, the following words—Proceedings had or taken by any such Committee shall be had or taken in the names of the said councils jointly, and proceedings had or taken against any such committee shall be had or taken against such councils jointly.I cannot understand, as the clause stands, how the proposed Committee proceeds. It is not a corporate body, and consequently has no corporate existence. If a case arises in which the Committee propose to commence an action, will it 243 proceed in the name of the members of the Committee, or will it proceed in the name of the Committee as a whole? I imagine it would not proceed in this way, because it is not a corporate body. The only other way for proceedings to be taken would be in the names of the county councils jointly. Take again the case of a Committee being sued by a contractor. How is he to sue the Committee? Is he to sue the individuals who compose the Committee, or is he to sue the Committee itself? He cannot do that, because the Committee is not a corporate body. It appears to me that this is not a logical and rational mode of dealing with the subject, and the Amendment is devised to meet the case.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
I do not think the Amendment necessary, though I have no objection to accepting it. Any action taken will not be the action of the Committee, but that of the county council acting through the Committee.
§ On the Question that the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill,
§ MR. DILLON
said: I desire to refer to the rapidly increasing burdens cast upon the ratepayers in connection with the charge of lunatics in Ireland. I am not prepared to move the rejection of the clause, but I think, on the other hand, it would be a very foolish thing, and hardly an honest thing, if we were to leave the Government under the impression that the people of Ireland, or the Irish representatives, accept, without protest, the policy of casting on the ratepayers the increasing burden of the lunatic charge in Ireland.
§ *MR. W. E. H. LECKY (Dublin University)
In rising to move the Amendment which stands in my name my object is to give expression to the wish shared in by a large number of public bodies and a great number of private persons in Ireland that the Government shall keep the control and management of the lunatic asylums in their own hands, and not throw the care of this large, poor, and, unhappily increasing class of persons upon per- 244 fectly new and inexperienced bodies, overburdened with a great quantity of other work, and drawn largely from the same class of men as now constitute the Poor Law guardians. I do not think that this is a question either of politics, or of class, or of creed. It is essentially a question of simple humanity. It is of vital importance to this unhappy class that they should be under the care of medical officers who have devoted themselves exclusively to this particular work, who have given up other practice for it, and who, in fact, are thoroughly qualified to perform this special class of duties. Under the present circumstances this is very fully secured. The superintendents are chosen by the Lord Lieutenant from the senior assistant medical officers of all the asylums in Ireland, and there is every possible guarantee that they are thoroughly tfficient. In the Bill, as it stands at present, there is no guarantee whatever of that kind. They are not even required to have assistant medical officers, though I believe an Amendment will be accepted which will at least, in this respect, mitigate the evil. We wish, as much as possible, to keep these asylums in the hands of the State, and in doing so we are following the example of nearly all the great democracies of the world. In the United States, and in all our Colonies, the protection of lunatics is more and more placed in the hands of State asylums, managed by persons who are, for the most part, if not exclusively, paid from State funds. I think we have very strong grounds in Ireland that this should be done. Poor Law guardians, as they at present exist, form the bodies most closely resembling the future county councils, and I venture to say there are very few persons who know country life in Ireland who will not say that the medical patronage of those bodies has been marked by more abuses, perhaps—and that is saying a good deal—than any other class of patronage in Ireland. In many cases medical officers are appointed either on the ground of religion, or on the ground of politics, on local grounds or by all kinds of jobs, and they are often perfectly unsuited for their positions One gentleman, for example, told me that within his own district three successive medical officers had died of delirium 245 tremens. They had all, I believe, been appointed on the ground of religion. It is one of the greatest grievances in Ireland that the poor have so often to be attended by such men. A large number of the lunatics in Ireland are actually under the management of the poor law guardians. There are more than 4,0000 at present in the workhouses, and the last report of the Inspectors of Lunacy—it was only one of a long series of such reports—has given the most emphatic condemnation of the manner in which lunatics are treated in these workhouses. The inspectors speak of the very unsatisfactory arrangements in the workhouses for this class, and of the unwillingness of the guardians to take any steps to improve their condition. They speak also of the fact that, in spite of the constant recommendations of the Local Government Board—and I would particularly dwell upon this—the attendance on the insane is still left in the hands of pauper inmates, who are ignorant, untrained, and inexperienced, and who do not pay sufficient attention to these unfortunate persons. They state that in almost all cases the recreation provided for the able-bodied is most unsatisfactory, and they give descriptions of patients infested with vermin, and treated by nurses who have had no experience whatever. In one of these workhouses it will hardly be believed that during the whole of the past year the male lunatics had been left without anyone, not even a pauper inmate, to look after them. Now these are the kind of evils we are most anxious shall not penetrate into our lunatic asylums. I fully admit that it is impossible to deal with the subject without dealing also with the question of who is to pay for these asylums. For my own part, I frankly confess that I think these asylums ought to be an Imperial charge. This is done in a large proportion of the most civilised countries of Europe. However, any Amendment of that kind must emanate from the Treasury Bench, and I am afraid it is only too clear that such an Amendment will not be accepted in that quarter. I am myself so convinced of the vital importance and necessity of the management of lunatic asylums being kept in the hands of persons more responsible and more experienced than 246 the county councils are likely to be that I should be inclined to accept such an amendment even if the financial arrangements remained as at present. I do not, however, believe that such a measure would find general acceptance in Ireland, but I think there is at least a compromise. We might insist that the major part, at all events, of the expense should come out of the Consolidated Fund, and only a minor portion out of the county revenues. At present it is exactly the converse of that. The Government pay 4s. a week for a pauper lunatic, but this is considerably less than half the total expenditure. I think we might reverse the case, and say that the county might fairly furnish 4s. a week, and that the remainder ought to come out of the Consolidated Fund. The case I am urging has been brought forward repeatedly by grand juries in Ireland, by members of boards of guardians, and by asylums boards. It must be remembered that those whose care is in question are the one class in the community who cannot complain if their interests are neglected or mismanaged; and, having regard to the manner in which boards of guardians have behaved in recent years, it requires some courage on the part of the Government to commit the care of lunatics to bodies similarly constituted. We believe that to do this will be an act of folly not far removed from an act of crime. Lunatics ought to be kept out of this Bill altogether, and a separate Bill dealing with them ought to be brought forward. At any rate, the responsibility must rest wholly with the Government, and therefore I move to omit the clause.
§ MR. DILLON
With the financial considerations brought forward by the right honourable Gentleman I heartily agree, but I cannot, and he would not expect me to go with him in his protest against local control. I point, as a conclusive and complete answer to the argument of the right honourable Gentleman on the latter point, to the fact that while for 80 years the lunatic asylums in Ireland have been under the central Government, they had, until within recent years, been a scandal to humanity and to the whole country. How the right honourable Gentleman can say, in face of that, that there is a prospect of better 247 treatment under central control than under local control, is inexplicable. Feeling in Ireland is absolutely unanimous against the policy of the Government as contained in the lunacy clauses of this Bill—namely, the policy of throwing all the costs and all the responsibility for an increased charge in respect of lunatics on to the ratepayers of that country. What has been the recent history of this question, financially? It was only in the year 1875 that the law was so altered as to allow of an Imperial contribution of 4s. a head being paid as a grant-in-aid towards the maintenance of lunatics in Ireland. The Government contribution in that year was £56,000, in 1885 it was £98,000, and in 1896 £130,000. It is estimated that in the year 1897 it amounted to £143,000. It has increased, therefore, within those 23 years, from £56,000 to £143,000—that is to say, it has nearly trebled. Although the number of lunatics has gone up to this extent, there has been a tremendous decrease in the population of the country. While there are nearly a million and a half less people in Ireland now than there were when this law came into operation, the Government contribution has increased from £56,000 to £143,000. The daily average number of lunatics resident in asylums in Ireland has increased from 7,600 in 1875 to 13,700 in 1896. We are entitled, before we consent or approve of a policy which has for its object the throwing of the tremendous burden of future increases upon the ratepayers of Ireland, to inquire whether we have any reason to hope that this charge has reached its highest limit, or nearly reached its highest limit. When we come to look at the question, which is a very important one for the ratepayers, we have most abundant evidence to show that this tremendous increase has not reached its limit. The skilled gentlemen who formed the Departmental Committee of 1891 stated in their Report that—The progress exhibited by the figures is not an upward progress at a uniform rate, but it may nevertheless be described as showing a steady and rapid rise, and showing no indication of any tendency to stop.I will quote some of the figures given by these gentlemen in reference to lunacy, which are appalling. In 1885 there 248 were 258 lunatics per 100,000 of the population in England. In 1889 there were 260 per 100,000—an increase of only two. In Scotland there were, in 1885, 233 lunatics per 100,000 of the population, and in 1889 that number had increased by 12—namely, to 245. Now let us turn to Ireland. In Ireland, in 1885, there were 411 lunatics per 100,000 of the population and in 1889 that figure went up to 452. That is to say, in Ireland there were very nearly double as many lunatics per 100,000 of the population as there were in England and Scotland. Then comes a terrible passage in this Report. These gentlemen were asked to inquire and give their opinion as to the cause of this extraordinary, increase, as regards Ireland, and they deliberately placed it on record, as their opinion, that the increase of lunacy in Ireland was due to the fact that for a long period of years the best elements of the population—young men and young women, between the ages of 18 and 40—had emigrated, leaving all the weak, deformed, and feeble at home. Now, that is a probable condition of things which deserves the consideration of the Government, and which justifies us. Now, that is only one aspect of the question, but there is another extremely important aspect. Since the year 1891, under, as I believe, the benevolent system of the inspectors in lunacy appointed about that time, and the modified laws of lunacy administration in Ireland, there has been an increase in the cost of lunatics, and an enormous increase in the cost of providing accommodation for them, and we are still far from the end of this enormous cost. Every humane man must look forward to, and hope for, a further increase in the annual cost per head of lunatics, so that we have not only to look forward to the increase of lunatics in point of numbers, but also an increase in the annual cost of those lunatics, if they are to be attended and treated in a proper and humane manner. That accounts for the very great increase which has taken place. There are a few cases which I should like to bring to the notice of the Committee, in order that I may give honourable Members an idea of the enormous burden, which is put upon the shoulders of the ratepayers by this demand for increased accommodation of 249 lunatics. I take as an instance the asylum for county Mayo, which in 1886 had accommodation for 260 patients; that number had increased in 1896 to 485. Now, accommodation has been provided for 490, and the increase has been so great that now it is not sufficient. Then, again, take the case of Ballinasloe Asylum, serving the counties of Roscommon and Galway. It was strongly represented that these two counties should be separated, so enormous was the increase, and that a separate asylum should be built for Roscommon. After a great deal of negotiation the project had to be abandoned, because the expense was so great, and a detached block was built to Ballinasloe for 150 patients. In 1889 the number had increased from 150 to 717, and now it has 1,004 patients of both sexes. When the asylum at Ballinasloe was built the patients were only 150 from the two counties, and the population was double what it is at the present day. So that we find, with a vastly decreased population, you have had to make provision for 1,004. I maintain that in this Bill the Government has not made anything approaching an adequate provision for the charges of maintaining lunatics in Ireland. I may be asked why we raise this question upon this portion of the Bill. We raise it here because, as the right honourable Gentleman knows full well, we cannot move an Amendment upon the Financial Relations Committee to increase the charges, and I think it is only right, before the Government goes to a Division, to raise it. The whole thing is monstrous. This particular clause embodied in this Bill shifts the burden of responsibility for all increased expense, and the increase of lunatics of Ireland from the shoulders of the Government and puts it upon the people of Ireland, without any opportunity being given for the expression of the universal opinion of Ireland upon the matter.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I can speak upon this matter, I believe, of the uni- 250 versal opinion of Ireland. There is no question upon which the Irish people are absolutely united more than they are upon the fact that this Bill makes no adequate provision at all for this matter. If the Treasury would consent to-day to disburse the amount which it would take to build a torpedo destroyer, it would—and I say it without hesitation—settle the whole question. From the richest nation in the world I must say I do not think it is too much for a poor country like Ireland to claim in the name of justice and in the name of humanity this consideration. The honourable Gentleman the Member for Mayo has drawn, to my mind, certainly a most terrible picture of the Irish people. He has shown that while the population is decreasing the number of lunatics is greatly increasing.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I cannot say what it may result from; some people think it is whisky, some people stealing, and some people believe it to be politics, but I cannot tell. I know if the honourable Member for Mayo is correct—and I have no reason to doubt his figures—that there is a large decrease of population, and a large increase in the number of lunatics. If this continues to go on the result will soon be arrived at when all the Irish people will be lunatic. But I do believe that the honourable Member knows perfectly well that a great number of these unfortunate and demented people are sent into asylums now who in former years used to be kept and cared for at home. It is now much easier to get one of these unfortunate people into an asylum to be treated there than it was in times gone by. I do not think the increase in the number of lunatics in the asylums of Ireland is in any way to be attributed to the increase of lunacy among the Irish people. I have not seen any such increase in the county in which I live, and I really 251 believe that the increase of lunatics is due to the cause which I have indicated rather than to any decrease of the mental powers of the people. What we ask—and I think it is a very moderate request on our part—what we say is that the State ought to take over all these lunatic asylums. We say the State ought to contemplate a large increase for the maintenance of lunatics, for this reason: recent medical science shows that with more attention there are more cures, and necessarily greater attention involves greater expenditure. The greater the expense the larger proportion of cures, and I say that money laid out to relieve and benefit the most afflicted portion of our population is money well expended. I do not dare to hope that we shall soften the heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the extent of causing him to pay the whole of the expense of the lunatic asylums of Ireland. I only wish we could; but I am afraid, knowing the cast-iron character of my right honourable Friend, that we cannot. But what I say is, I think it would be a fair proposition, I think it would be a fair thing, if, having regard to the financial condition of the country at the present moment—the counties pay £174,000 and the Government pay £144,000 a year; that is to say, we pay proportionately the larger amount—it would be a fair thing if that order of things were reversed and the Government paid the larger and the counties paid the smaller amount, and let any increase be borne by the State. Increased expenditure for the lunatic asylums in Ireland is inevitable if they are to be conducted upon the principles laid down by the medical scientific research of the age. If you want to get the best results, and cure lunatics in the manner in which they should be cured, and have them attended as they should be properly attended, it must entail a far greater expense than is at present incurred. Therefore I say that should be borne by the State—besides which, it would be infinitely better for 252 the lunatic system if it were taken out of the control of the county councils and given over to the State. You would then have a homogeneous system, embracing the whole of the asylums. You would have influence in the State for getting the best men, and no expense ought to be spared in endeavouring to secure the very best men as doctors for these asylums. And we make this request and it is a very moderate one. There is no question which has excited so much attention in Ireland as this. All classes have joined together and all creeds upon this question, and I think this very moderate demand is one which ought to commend itself to the consideration of the Government and the Committee.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. E. HICKS BEACH,) Bristol, W.
Of course, everything that honourable Members do not approve of in this Bill is put down to the niggardliness of the Treasury. I will venture to trouble the House with a few observations, not because my right honourable Friend the Chief Secretary differs in any way from the view which I take, but because my honourable Friend who has just sat down has directly appealed to me. The question before the Committee seems to me to be of a double character. The very broad question of State management and payment with regard to lunatic asylums I would by no means dismiss as impossible for consideration in the future, but I venture to say it is not a matter which ought properly to be considered with regard to this Bill. As a question of principle, I do not see why, if lunatic asylums in Ireland are to be managed and paid for by the Government, they should not also be managed and paid for by the Government in England and Scotland. The same principle obviously applies to both. We have been told that in Ireland there is likely to be a very large increase of lunatics. I am not quite sure that the increase of lunacy which appears to have occurred in the past may not be largely explained by the very different conditions 253 under which lunatics are now dealt with, and that, as my honourable Friend has admitted, many unhappy persons in Ireland who were formerly left in their hovels are now properly treated in asylums. But I am afraid there is some, thing beyond this, and that the grant of 4s. per head has occasionally been a temptation to keep persons in the lunatic asylums who would not have been kept there if the asylums had been conducted wholly at the cost of the ratepayers. My main point is that if throughout Great Britain and Ireland the State were to manage and pay for the lunatic asylums, taking the present figures it would impose, in regard to Ireland, an increased burden of £220,000 a year on the Exchequer, and with regard to Great Britain an increased burden of something like £2,000,000. That is a matter which, I think, ought not to be lightly undertaken by Parliament. The Government, during their tenure of office have been very much blamed for what they have done to relieve the ratepayers at the expense of the Exchequer; and now that the whole question of local taxation has been referred to a Royal Commission, to attempt such an enormous change as this would be in the incidence of local taxation, without a complete consideration by the Commission of the necessities of the case, would be a thing which no Government would be justified in recommending to Parliament. Therefore, Mr. Lowther, although the proposition of my right honourable Friend may be a matter for the future, it is, I venture to suggest, not a matter that can be considered at the present moment. What then are we to do? The honourable Member for Mayo does not agree with the suggestion of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Dublin University; he entertains the belief that these asylums ought in the future to be under local popular control in Ireland, as they are now in Great Britain. I am very much disposed to share that view. I do not think there is any 254 real desire in Great Britain that the present management of lunatic asylums should be altered, and I can well conceive that there may be reasons which would make the management of lunatic asylums, as it is now in Great Britain, preferable to any general, uniform, and, so to speak, cast iron system of Government control. That, sir, is a question for the future. For the present we can only attempt to place the management of lunatic asylums in Ireland on the same footing as they now are in Great Britain.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Why are we to provide for an increase that is problematical? In this Bill the Government are providing liberally for the present needs. We are providing, in addition to the amount of £140,000 which is at present expended, a sum of £35,000, a great part of which will be devoted to this purpose. What have honourable Members to complain of in that? In a matter of this sort the future ought to take care of itself. If there is to be popular management of lunatic asylums, why is there to be no burden upon Irish ratepayers? Is it right, is it to be tolerated that there should be popular control, and that the funds for this purpose should be entirely supplied, or nearly all supplied, out of the Imperial Exchequer? I will not be responsible for any such proposition as that. Greater changes, as I have said, must wait for future consideration, and that is the only answer I can give to the proposition of my right honourable Friend.
§ MR. DILLON
I quite admit that if there is to be popular control there must be a certain burden on the ratepayers; but what we object to is that the Government should take advantage of a Bill giving rights of popular control to the people to hit the ratepayers again through, the lunatic asylums.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON
I am bound to say that I think the Chancellor of the 255 Exchequer is unfair in trying to terrify the House of Commons by saying that if the Amendment of my right honourable Friend is agreed to it would involve an expenditure of £2,000,000 a year. There is no doubt about it—for the census returns prove it—that we have in Ireland but the miserable remnant of a race. ["No, no!"] That is the fact. Among the Irish in America there are a smaller proportion of lunatics than among any other race there, whilst in Ireland there are a larger proportion of lunatics than among any other nation in the world. The honourable and gallant Member opposite says it is a question of whisky, or tea, or politics. It is not that only. There are more deaf mutes in Ireland than in any other country. I do not suppose that the deaf mutes are affected by politics. Even the Orange drum cannot reach the ear of the deaf mute. The question arises whether it is fair to apply to a poor country—a country which is afflicted with a greater charge of this kind—precisely the same rule in financial matters which you apply to the richer country, which has not been afflicted with the long curse of historical misfortunes which has fallen on Ireland. I do not know that between local control and central control there is a very great difference in this matter. I believe there is a very great importance in the point whether we in Ireland are to have taken into account the fact of our peculiar affliction, and to receive some greater measure of financial assistance than the people of Great Britain. I know, of course, that the subject of lunacy appears in some ways to be amusing, but it is a fact that, proportionately to population, we have twice as many lunatics as Great Britain. That is a census fact. It is the fact that the proportion of lunatics in Ireland has increased much more rapidly than in England or Scotland. Of course, it may be said that people are, owing to better administration, now treated as lunatic who before were allowed to foam at large, but that is the case in Scotland as well. The fact is that the proportion has been increased much more rapidly 256 in Ireland than in England or Scotland, or in any other country of Western Europe. If you look at the American figures, the reason becomes plain. The strong and vigorous part of the population of Ireland have been driven beyond the seas, and only this remnant of a race remains. I do trust that the House will give weight to the claim put forward by the honourable Member for Dublin University, that you should take into account, in dealing with Ireland, the special circumstances which afflict her at the present time with this large burden. On this ground, though I confess that, as between popular control and State control, I prefer any sort of local control, for I have no great belief in the virtues of any central control; still, on the question of whether there should be a special financial system applied to the conditions of Ireland, I venture to support the Amendment that he has moved.
§ *MR. H. C. PLUNKETT (Dublin Co., S.)
At nearly all the meetings called in Ireland to discuss this Bill, the unanimous desire has been that we should support the honourable Member for Dublin University in moving the omission of this clause. We are all glad whenever the Chancellor of the Exchequer intervenes in an Irish debate; as a general rule he figures merely as the inexorable Jorkins of the Chief Secretary. I think the right honourable Gentleman has entirely misunderstood the claim that we make on the British Treasury in this case. He has put it to the House that it is an unreasonable demand that we should ask the Treasury to pay the entire cost of the maintenance of lunatics in Ireland, while we in Ireland should have the right of deciding as to who should be classified as lunatics. That is a most reasonable objection. He says it is quite unreasonable on our part that the Treasury should provide for an anticipated increase of lunacy, which is entirely problematical. I do not think anybody will contend that, 257 if the State is to control our lunatics, we should not have to pay anything at all towards their maintenance; but all that has been said by the honourable Member for the University of Dublin, and by the honourable and gallant Member for North Armagh, is that the Treasury should pay a larger proportion than they now do, and if they want to protect themselves let them pay so much per capita. If they pay, for instance, two-thirds of the amount, it is quite certain that the fact that we have to pay one-third will prevent us from artificially increasing the number of our lunatics. But, as between State control and local control, I think there is a great deal to be said for the former. The Chancellor of the Exchequer objects, as I understand, to what he calls a cast-iron uniform system. In dealing with social and economical problems, it is quite true that local control is often necessary in order to keep in touch with local conditions, but in the case of the insane poor there is a great deal to be said for a thorough uniformity of system. I believe that the treatment of the insane is almost an exact science, and the more cast-iron and uniform your system is the better. I do not see how you can treat lunatics in one district in one way and in another district in another way. Consequently, I think that the objection to a uniform system in the case of the insane entirely disappears. As regards the increase of lunatics in Ireland, it is quite true it might be largely due to a different system in classification, but if the remarkable statement that has just been made to us by the honourable and learned Member for Londonderry is true, and if the average of lunacy among the Irish of the United States is lower than the average of any other nationality in that country, so that the Irish race, as a whole, are not more afflicted with lunacy than any other race, certainly the conditions in Ireland are very peculiar, and justify very exceptional treatment.
§ MR. E. F. VESEY KNOX (Londonderry)
I may say that the statement I made is based on the Report of the Departmental Committee appointed by the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. PLUNKETT
I accept that, and I am quite sure it can be verified. Although I have met a great many insane Irishmen in the course of my experience, I may say that I have lived a great many years of my life in the United States, and, as far as I can recollect, I have never met a single insane Irishman there. I am quite sure that the census figures, on which the honourable and learned Gentleman relies, are perfectly accurate, and, if that be so—I do not want to rake up the whole history of the question, or to enlarge the scope of this debate, but I do think that the figures show that, owing to many circumstances, Ireland has a claim to special treatment at the hands of England. There is, of course, the larger question of financial relations which I do not venture to introduce as a little side issue in this Debate, but it would be idle for us to disguise the fact that every Irish Member in the House has, at the back of his mind, this financial question in considering this clause.
MR. T. M. HEALY
I confess I have great sympathy with the Amendment, but I wish to say why it is that I am unable to support it. I am bound to say, having had experience of five Chancellors of the Exchequer—three Liberal and two Tory, or, perhaps, one Liberal Unionist and one Tory—I have never had the honour of saying a single word in favour of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer before, but he seems to me to be the only one man that I have known who has some idea of doing something in relief of the local rates. I first noticed it in 1884 and 1885 on the question of the registration of voters, when he led the whole Tory Party to sanction the proposal to put the cost of the registration of voters upon the local rates. I do go that length in his praise, and I do not know that I can go any further. Now, the right honourable Gentleman who has moved this Amendment has moved it upon a principle that commands my entire sympathy, but what are we on this side of the House to do? So far as the clause goes, it is in favour of giving us local control. Are we to vote against that? What would happen if 259 we rejected the clause? Are we to go back to the Irish grand juries? When my honourable Friend the Member for St. Stephen's Green Division shakes his head I know there is a great deal in it. I agree entirely that it is rather shabby and mean to throw the extra cost of lunatics on the ratepayers of Ireland, but I could tolerate that if the clause was not otherwise obnoxious. I do not want to see a huge series of prisons erected in all the Irish counties in which if an unfortunate wretch goes in from one cause or other, I do not say what, he is to abandon hope directly he goes inside the door. I think these unhappy men should get something like fair treatment, and should have some hope infused into their minds; they should be treated as Christians, and made to feel that they have something in common with the world around them.
§ MR. GERALD BALFOUR
May I venture to suggest to the Committee that this matter, after all, would be better discussed when we get to Section 42 of the Bill? The effect of this Amendment, if carried, would not be to place the control of lunatic asylums in future under State control. If the Amendment were carried we should simply preserve the existing system. The existing system, whatever may be advanced against it, has undoubtedly a great deal to recommend it. I must say I do not think this Amendment would improve the position; but, however that may be, if we are to have a discussion on the financial point, I think that should be deferred until Clause 42 is reached, when it can be properly raised.
§ MR. CLANCY
I trust that the appeal which has just been made to us by the right honourable Gentleman to close this discussion is not intended as a rebuke to those who have taken part in the Debate, because there can be no more important subject than that which is raised by this clause. For this reason I make no apology for saying a few words in justification of the vote which I intend to give. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Dublin University stated that at the meetings that had been held in Ireland the desire had been expressed that the Amendment before the House should be carried. Now, 260 that Amendment proposes to hand over to the State, or, rather, to hand back, as the right honourable Gentleman has just explained, to the existing authorities the management of lunatic asylums. What was proposed by the right honourable Member for Dublin University was to hand back those asylums to the State, and also that the State should at the same time be called on to maintain them.
§ *MR. LECKY
May I say that the honourable Member for North Dublin is not quite accurate? What I wanted to convey was this: that the feeling of those meetings was that the greater part of the expenses should come out of the Consolidated Fund, and that later on, at any rate, the whole management of these institutions should be under the control of the State.
§ MR. CLANCY
I accept the explanation of the right honourable Gentleman. Taking the view I do of the financial relations between this country and Ireland, I cannot admit the position of the right honourable Gentleman, because I say that if the State paid twice the amount that they do they would not even then be doing bare justice between the two countries. If we had an Irish Parliament the care of lunatics would be placed under a special Government Department in the capital, because it is a very special subject, and expert treatment of a high order is required. Until that takes place, I confess that I should prefer to have local control, and I would not thank any British Government for paying the whole of the expense, because I believe the whole of the money is Irish money and not British money. The right honourable and learned Gentleman the Member for North Tyrone had an Amendment on the Paper which I am surprised he did not move—I mean the Amendment proposing that the powers conferred on the Richmond Asylum by the Act of 1897 should be exercised by the joint committee. Last year the governors of the Richmond District Lunatic Asylum came to Parliament and, at their own expense, obtained a special Act enabling them to borrow money on more favourable terms than they could secure under the ordinary law. That, I under- 261 stand, is one of the Acts which will be affected by this Bill.
§ MR. CLANCY
I am sorry that I did not understand that; I am only surprised that that was not explained to the Committee before.
§ MR. SERJEANT HEMPHILL
The reason I did not think it necessary to move the Amendment was because of the subsequent Amendment that stands on the Paper in my name, to insert in Schedule 1 "The Richmond Lunatic Asylums Act, 1897." That would have the same effect.
§ *MR. J. G. BUTCHER (York)
The question of the control of lunatics in Ireland has been considered and reported upon by Committees on more than one occasion. A Commission was appointed by the Lord Lieutenant in 1890, and the conclusions to which they unanimously arrived were embodied in a Report which was issued in 1891. The Commissioners especially considered this question as to the general control of lunatics in Ireland, and the great feature of their Report was that they proposed to establish a general body have control of lunacy administration. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has admitted that the question cannot be finally determined until we have had the Report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the subject of local taxation. This Bill proposes that, pending a final decision of this question, the control of lunacy matters should be transferred to these new and untried bodies in Ireland. Now, what I ask the Committee to consider is, having regard to the admission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we cannot at present arrive at a final result, would it not be better to leave matters in their present state until we can have some legislation which will be really final? If we adopt the proposals recommended in this Bill, transferring the existing powers of the Board of Control to the county councils that are to be set up, we may hereafter be told that it will be very difficult to introduce legislation on the subject. If, on the other hand, we leave matters as they at present stand, then I trust the Government, at no distant date, may be induced to bring in a Bill 262 dealing with the whole question of lunatics in Ireland, private lunatics as well as pauper lunatics, and embodying in it the recommendation contained in the Report of the Mitchell Committee, that a general body should be established having the control of lunatics. This would once and for all put the matter upon a final and satisfactory footing.
§ Question put, "That Clause 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 251; Noes 25.—(Division List No. 86.)
§ On Clause 10,
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
The Amendment I rise to move on this clause proposes to preserve the existing grand jury procedure with respect to the making of a new road, or the widening of an old one. That procedure is probably the simplest and most inexpensive that could be devised, whereas, on the other hand, the procedure proposed by the Government to be substituted is most costly. I have never been able to understand why the Government should desire to make any change in the procedure which has worked fairly well during the last 60 years, and to substitute for that a Parliamentary procedure, which will be slow and cumbrous and exceedingly costly. Let me point out this to the Committee. Under the Grand Jury Act of 1889, you do not technically acquire possession of the land itself, you simply acquire for the public an easement over the land, and if any person desires that the grand jury should construct a new road he has to serve notices so many days before the presentment sessions on all the occupiers concerned. That is practically the only preliminary, and after that notice in the simplest possible form the matter is heard by the presentment sessions, which approves, or disapproves of the road. Then the matter comes before the grand jury, and they approve or disapprove. In this way the public authority has the power of making a road by a procedure as simple as can be conceived, and involving no expense whatever. If the landowner claimed that any damage had been done to him, all he had to do was to serve a notice on the chairman of the presentment sessions and the chairman of the 263 grand jury, and then the traverse was presented for trial by a judge and jury at the Assizes, and the judge and jury assessed that damage. Let me point this out. Antiquated as our Irish grand jury system is, it contained 60 years ago the provision for betterment for which you in England are now fighting so strenuously. It provides that where a party alleges that he has suffered by having a new road made, the jury in assessing his damages may take into account whatever benefit the party derives from the making of the road. Now, that is the simplest procedure conceivable, and what do the Government propose to substitute for it? A procedure by Provisional Order, which is founded essentially on our Parliamentary procedure. You have first to advertise three times in the newspapers, which is, of course, an expensive procedure. Then you have to serve notices on the owners and occupiers. Then you have to petition the Local Government Board, and you have to prove your case under the Standing Orders exactly as you have before a Committee of Parliament. Then the Local Government Board in Dublin send down an inspector, who holds an inquiry, and, strange to say, when that inspector comes he cannot even assess the damage to the land. All he has to do is to hold an inquiry into the question whether the road is desirable or not. If the Local Government Board grant the Provisional Order you have to serve notices on all the occupiers, and again to advertise it at great expense, and then, in the ordinary course, your Provisional Order would have to be sanctioned by Parliament, Fortunately, the Government see the wisdom of providing that the Provisional Order may be confirmed by the Privy Council; but even then that is a most costly process, because the parties have to go to Dublin, they have to have a hearing before the Privy Council there, and the Privy Council simply decides the mere issue whether or not it is desirable that the road should be made. That is only the preliminary stage, because when they approve it you then have to take proceedings under the Lands Clauses Act to acquire the land. You have to serve fresh notices, and lodge a petition to the Local Government Board, and an arbitrator is sent down from Dublin who pro- 264 ceeds to assess the value of the land. All this means enormous expense to the locality. I have known it to cost £50 for the inspector alone. The inspector generally makes a personal visit to the land, and, speaking generally, the procedure is as costly as can be. Now, why should the Government desire to substitute this cumbrous, difficult, and costly proceeding for the existing simple procedure by traverse? I have ransacked the Grand Jury Act in vain to discover any reason why the existing procedure should be changed. It may be said that under the procedure by traverse the road cannot be made until the holding of the Assize; that is to say, you can only do it twice a year. Well, surely that is quite often enough. Slow as it is, it is not so slow as this procedure will be, and it is infinitely less costly. I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name.
In Clause 10, page 5, line 36, after the word 'duties,' to insert the words, 'other than the making of a new road or the widening of an old road.'"—(Mr. Maurice Healy.)
§ MR. KNOX
I trust the right honourable Gentleman will accept this Amendment. I can see no reason for changing the practice which has worked well for so many years. It is even older than my honourable Friend said. I believe the practice dates back to an Act passed by the Irish Parliament last century. It is principally due to this procedure that we have any roads in Ireland at all. We have references to it in Arthur Young's "Travels in Ireland." The subject is certainly too important to be discussed in the few minutes now remaining, and I beg to move, Sir, that you report Progress.
Motion made, and Question—
That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again"—
put and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.
§ House adjourned at 12.5.