§ MR. BIGGAR
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to a Resolution of the Board of Guardians of Ballycastle Union, county Antrim, passed on the 5th instant, to the effect—That we desire to state, for the information of the Local Government Board, that their 1383 inspector, Mr. Hamilton, read to this Board, on the 21st ult. a letter which he had received from Mrs. General Boyd, Ballycastle, in which she complained of the conduct of the master in reference to visits made by her and her daughters to the workhouse; that, after some discussion as to the admission of visitors, Mr. Hamilton recommended to this Board, and advised us to adopt a proposal to the effect, 'That the guardians order that for the future all persons, except professional Scripture readers, are to be allowed to visit their friends and acquaintances, and give them any books they may wish, so long as these are not of a controversial character;' that, when asked by the chairman to put his proposal in writing, Mr. Hamilton replied, 'Better for yourself or the clerk to write it,' or words to that effect; that, although he did not write it, he was the author of it, it emanated from him, he recommended it to this Board, and advised, us to adopt it; that, in acting thus, Mr. Hamilton tried to induce this Board to re-introduce a custom which he should have known has no sanction in the Poor Law Act, and which had been abolished by a resolution of this Board sixteen years ago, and had been the cause of sectarian disputes and bitterness in this house in past years; and that we are of opinion the master would not have done his duty if he had allowed the ladies and the Scripture reader to give religious tracts to the inmates; and we disapprove of Mr. Hamilton's action in the whole case;did Mr. Hamilton act as described in that Resolution; and, if so, did he, in so acting, exceed his duty as representative of the Local Government Board, the administrators of the Poor Law Act; if not, will he point out what section of the Poor Law Act sanctions the admission into workhouses for any religious purpose of any visitors besides the persons specified in 1 and 2 Vic. c. 56, ss. 48 and 49; and, if he did exceed his duty, will he cause the Local Government Board to instruct their inspector and the Ballycastle Board of Guardians to that effect?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
The Local Government Board inform me that they believe the facts to be as they have already reported, and as I have already stated in reply to a former Question; and the Guardians appear, therefore, to have been under some misapprehension as to Mr. Hamilton's intentions when they adopted the above-quoted resolution. Mr. Hamilton states that it is not the case that he recommended an indiscriminate permission to be given for all visitors except Scripture readers; but that he did intend to convey to the Guardians that he would like the patients in the hospitals to have the same privilege of seeing their friends as is given 1384 to the sick in the hospitals of other workhouses; but that in the remarks he made he did not recommend or advise the Guardians to adopt any course at variance with the regulations laid down by Article 28 of the workhouse rules. That article regulates the admission of "visitors" to the workhouse. Sec. 49 of 1 & 2 Vic. cap. 56 merely enacts that—It shall be lawful for any regular 'minister' of the religious persuasion of any inmate of such workhouse … to visit such workhouse … for the purpose of affording religious instruction to such inmate.I have already intimated that the Local Government Board do not consider that the course suggested by Mr. Hamilton's remarks at the Guardians' meeting on the 21st of June would have been an infringement of the Irish Poor Relief Act, or that the Inspector exceeded his duty.