HL Deb 22 July 1875 vol 225 cc1800-1

asked, Whether John Lee, a private in the Royal Limerick County Regiment of Militia, was on the 5th of June, 1875, sentenced by Mr. J. M. Harnett, a justice of the county of Limerick, to be imprisoned for the period of one calendar month, with hard labour, in the County Limerick Gaol, at Limerick, for having applied on the 4th of June For lodging and relief in the Glin Union Workhouse, which lodging and relief he received therein on the night of the 4th and morning of the 5th, he not belonging to the Glin Union, but coming therein for the purpose of obtaining relief; whether John Lee was ill at the time, and was on his way to join his regiment, which assembled for training on the 7th of June at Limerick, and so stated when the charge was heard; whether John Lee died in the county gaol at Limerick of fever on the 27th of June; and, whether Her Majesty's Government had caused or will cause an inquiry to be made into the circumstances of the above case? The Act under which John Lee was committed was intended to apply to a person who left one Union or district for the purpose of obtaining relief in another Union or district, and did not at all apply to such a case as that to which he had called their Lordships' attention.


said, that it was perfectly true that John Lee had been committed to the county gaol at Limerick under the 10th and 11th of the Queen, and that he died there of fever on the 27th June. The Local Government Board of Ireland having had their attention called to the facts, had sent an Inspector to the Union to inquire into the circumstances, so far as the Guardians and the relieving officer were concerned, in connection with the part they took in the matter. It appeared, from his Report, that up to the time of the committal to prison, Lee was to all appearance in a strong and healthy condition, and that he did not complain of his treatment while there. The relieving officer also stated that Lee did not say that he was on his way to join the Militia regiment to which he belonged. As to the proceedings before the magistrates which resulted in Lee being committed to Limerick gaol, further inquiries were now being made, but had not yet terminated; and therefore he was not in a position to give any information as to it.


observed that the proceedings had been taken under the Vagrancy Act of 1847, the provision in which was passed to prevent persons going from one Union, where the work-house was not full, into another where the workhouse was full, so that they might there get out-door relief. He found on inquiry that gross cruelty had been inflicted by applying this enactment to cases which it was never intended to apply to, and it was certainly never intended to apply to the case now in question. This man, he understood, stated that he was on his way to join his regiment of Militia, and yet notwithstanding that he was most cruelly and improperly committed to Limerick gaol, where he died. He (Lord Emly) most earnestly trusted that the Government would take some steps to prevent the law being so misapplied in the future.