§ *Mr. MARTIN (Worcestershire, Droitwich)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if he will state the grounds upon which the Local Government Board propose to base their decision to divide the Stourbridge Poor Law Union into two parts; and if they have any reason for disregarding the expressed wishes of the union and its representatives; and, if so, if he will make that reason public.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The workhouse accommodation of the Stourbridge Union is very unsatisfactory, and the Local Government Board have for many years past been urging on the guardians the necessity for its improvement. The union, however, is partly in Staffordshire and partly in Worcestershire, and the workhouse, which is situate almost at one end of the union, is not conveniently placed as regards many of the Worcestershire parishes, and a petition was presented to the Board from some of the guardians of the Worcestershire parishes and others, asking that unless a workhouse on a central site was erected the union might be divided. In 1897 the Board received a deputation on this question, and subsequently an exhaustive local inquiry was held with regard to it. In April last the Board informed the guardians that in their opinion the evidence taken at the inquiry clearly showed that a now workhouse should be built on a central site, and that failing such a site being obtained within a reason- 211 able time, they considered that the Worcestershire parishes should be formed into a separate union. A central site has not been obtained, and the Board have accordingly decided that a division of the union should take place.