HL Deb 15 July 1897 vol 51 cc134-7 The Commissioners may by notice require the visiting committee of any asylum, or the committee of management of any hospital, to make such alterations in, and addition to, the rules and regulations of the asylum or hospital as the Commissioners may consider expedient, and if the committee do not within two months after the notice make such alterations and additions to the satisfaction of the commissioners, and send to the commissioners a printed copy of the amended rules and regulations, the Commissioners may make a report to a Secretary of State, and. the Secretary of State shall have power to determine whether the alterations or additions required by the Commissioners, or any of them, with or without modification, ought to be made or not, and any alterations or additions which the Secretary of State may approve shall be observed as part of the rules and regulations of the asylum or hospital.

moved that the clause be omitted. He said the noble Lord in charge of the Bill kindly consented to postpone the Committee stage till that day in order to give some opportunity for observations to be made upon it on behalf of the London County Council. He was sorry to say that time had not permitted of formal meetings, and their Lordships would understand that any observations he made must be taken to be the result of informal conferences and not the deliberate opinion—although he believed he was expressing the wishes of the statutory Asylums Committee of the Council. If a clause, such as this could always be carried out with perfect reasonableness and a desire to avoid all friction between the Commissioners in Lunacy and the body in charge of an asylum, there would be no objection to it. But the Asylums Committee did not feel quite confident that that would always be the case, and circumstances might arise in which the operation of this clause might be very objectionable. The effect of the clause was that the Commissioners might require the Visiting Committee of an asylum to make alterations or additions in the rules or regulations such as to the Commissioners might be deemed expedient; and if the Committee did not within two months after the notice make such alterations and additions to the satisfaction of the Commissioners, the latter might apply to the Home Secretary, and he would determine whether the alterations were to be made or not. One could conceive many cases in which such power would be very desirable and in itself might not seem objectionable. I But in the case of asylums managed by publicly elected authorities, such as county asylums, when the people who managed them were re-elected and where their action was subject to criticism it did not seem necessary that such powers should be given. Indeed, if it were exercised by the Commissioners over the Managing Committee, who knew all the local circumstances, it might lead to friction and to the taking away from the latter that full sense of responsibility which made them careful mid conscientious in their management. If the clause could be eliminated he asked that at any rate it should not be made applicable to asylums under the management of popularly elected bodies.


was afraid he could not accept the noble Lord's Amendment. He did not think the noble Lord would deny that in institutions which were the subject of the investigation, such as the Holloway Asylum, it was manifest that there was a necessity for some such clause as this. He did not believe there was any ground for suggesting there would be any friction. The Commissioners of Lunacy would only be anxious to do their duty, and if they exceeded it or behaved unreasonably there was still an appeal under this clause. The Holloway investigation disclosed the necessity for an alteration in the law, and the Government considered the one which they proposed by this clause was as well devised as could be. If the noble Lord had suggested the alteration of the clause or the placing some restriction upon it that would be considered, but his present proposal was to leave it out altogether. The noble Lord would have an opportunity before the Standing Committee of formulating some amendment which he should consider with respect; but if it came to a question of refusing such power in some body or other he could hold out little hope that the Government would yield.


entirely agreed that the clause as it stood gave too much power to the Commissioners in the internal management of asylums.


said perhaps the noble and learned Lord who had charge of the Bill would take into consideration this suggestion, that county and borough councils where asylums were under county or borough councils, and maintained out of county or borough rates, might have an opportunity before the Secretary of State gave his decision to make any representation they wish to make contrary to the proposed rules. No doubt the Lunacy Commissioners occasionally made suggestions, that if carried out would increase expenses, and so long as asylums were maintained by the ratepayers, the representatives of the ratepayers should have the opportunity of expressing an opinion. ["Hear, hear!"]


thought that was very reasonable indeed, and he would gladly welcome an Amendment in that direction. The suggestion as he understood the noble Lord was, that before the Secretary of State decided finally upon the point as to which difference of opinion arose between the asylum authorities and the Commissioners, the borough or county council should be heard. That was a very reasonable suggestion, and it would not interfere in the least with the working of the Bill.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 16 (Branch establishments to be registered), 17 (Alterations and additions to hospitals, etc., to be approved), and 18 (Management of hospitals), ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 19,—