§ MR. COGAN
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether he is aware that seventeen out of twenty-three district asylums in Ireland have passed resolutions calling for the absolute withdrawal of the Public Bodies Order; if he will lay upon the Table the documents submitted to him from the Local Government Board, the inspectors of lunatics, and the association of asylum doctors on which he based his statement to Mr. Richard Jones, chairman of the Richmond Asylum Board, that the weight of authority and the views of other asylum committees in Ireland are not favourable to the changes suggested by the Richmond committee; whether the documents submitted included any reference to the powers conferred on the asylum committees by Section 84 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, and if such powers conferred on the committee the power to assign duties to every officer; and whether his attention was drawn to the letter written by the Local Government Board, dated 20th November, 1905, deciding to recognise the authority of the asylum committee in this regard.
I am informed that no resolutions against the Public Bodies Order have been received from asylum committees, except Richmond, since January, 1906. When the Order was first issued a considerable number of asylum committees adopted a resolution asking for the withdrawal of the Order; but, in view of modifications agreed to by the Local Government Board, and ex- 970 planations offered to committees on points which were misunderstood, the committees generally withdrew from this position, and the Order is now in force in all asylums, except Richmond, and working satisfactorily. All the asylums, except Richmond and three others, have already furnished their abstracts of account to the 30th September, 1906, in the form prescribed by the Order, and it is understood that the delay in the three cases other than Richmond is due to the fact that the accounts were not promptly closed. The documents referred to in the Question are confidential, and it would be entirely contrary to practice to lay them on the Table of the House. The position taken up by the Local Government Board in their letter of 20th November, 1905, is incorrectly stated in the Question. In that letter the Local Government Board expressed their willingness to agree to certain books and documents being kept by other officers than the resident medical superintendent; but an attempt has been made to read into that letter a proposal to deprive the resident medical superintendent of all responsibility and authority over the supervision and control of the work. The Local Government Board cannot accept that position. The responsibility in question properly belongs to the resident, medical superintendent, and this fact has been recognised by all the other asylums in Ireland, and I believe the same principle exists in England.