HC Deb 24 July 1900 vol 86 cc1059-61

On behalf of the hon. Member for South Monaghan, I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that at a recent meeting of the Halstead Board of Guardians, Mr. Bagenal, Local Government Board Inspector, said that the Local Government Board would soon issue an order putting the guardians of the workhouse on a different footing with regard to the dietary of the inmates; whether he is aware that Mr. Bagenal said that the guardians would not be tied down to any particular dietary, and that so long as nutritious food was given to the inmates the Local Government Board would not interfere; and whether he can say if he will direct the Local Government Board in Ireland to give greater freedom to the guardians in Ireland in their treatment of the poor and management of the workhouses, as the Local Government Board in England are about doing with the English Boards of Guardians.


I have no information regarding the first and second paragraphs. With reference to the third paragraph, boards of guardians in Ireland, provided they do not reduce their scale of dietary below the minimum scale laid down by the General Regulations, have practically quite as free a hand as the English boards in carrying out any improvements or variations in the dietary which their medical officer suggests. The minimum scale now in force in Ireland was fixed in the year 1849, when the standard of comfort of the poorer classes was very much lower than it is at present, but as the boards of guardians have been gradually improving the dietary of workhouse inmates it has not been found necesssry to bind the guardians down to any new or uniform scale. A considerable difference, however, exists in the scales of dietary in use in the various workhouses throughout Ireland, and many are open to much improvement. In November last the Local Government Board addressed a circular to the several boards of guardians calling attention to this diversity and expressing the opinion that the existing dietaries might, in many instances, be revised on more varied lines with regard to the dietary of the children, the infirm and lunatic classes. The Board requested the guardians, after consultation with their medical officer, to take the matter into consideration, and also forwarded for the guardians' infor- mation a copy of a suggested dietary scale. As a result, a number of unions have adopted either the scale suggested by the Board or some modification of it.