HL Deb 21 December 1837 vol 39 cc1374-5
Lord Wharncliffe

presented a petition from surgeons and medical practitioners of Cheltenham, signed by nearly 200 persons complaining that under the provisions of the Poor-law Bill, sufficient medical assistance was not afforded to the poor. They stated that the remuneration offered to medical men, was wholly inadequate to the labour, and that, from the great extent of some of the districts, it was quite impossible to afford the necessary assistance. The prayer of the petition was, that their Lordships would appoint a Select Committee, fully to inquire into the operation of this part of the Poor-law Bill. He could not concur in the prayer of the petition, and he had written to the petitioners to that effect, informing them at the same time, that there was a Committee of the House of Commons sitting on the subject of the Poor-law, by whom their complaints would be investigated. In his opinion, the time would come when it would be found that the present Poor-law was much preferable to that which had formerly prevailed. He believed, that if the New Poor-law system had been gradually introduced into those places where riots had recently occurred, those disturbances would have been avoided.

Lord Ellenborough

was of opinion that the petitioners had attacked the least vulnerable part of the Bill. Under the law, the pauper received medical assistance gratis, which a man in full employment could scarcely command. The sick pauper was allowed broths, porter, and other comforts, he would not call them luxuries, which the working labourer could not purchase.

The Earl of Radnor

observed, that in his neighbourhood an opportunity was given for a report to be made to the board of guardians, as to whether individuals under medical care were or were not satisfied with the treatment which they had received. He understood, that, whenever the New Poor-law had been carefully introduced, even in the northern parts of the kingdom, it had given satisfaction, and that objections were raised against it only in those places where they had no experience on the subject. He knew that a great many petitions had been presented to the House from respectable medical practitioners, complaining that the Bill would have a tendancy to degrade the profession by the system of competition. But there were also a great many respectable men, who had since entered into that competition.

Petition laid on the table.

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