§ LORD GEORGE HAMILTON
asked the President of the Local Government Board, Whether he is aware that the Medical Officer of Health for Hackney has reported that the re-opening of the Homerton Hospital of the Metropolitan Asylums Board for small-pox patients is causing a spread of that disease in its vicinity; whether he is aware that the Diseases Prevention (Metropolis) Bill (by the alteration in the existing Law effected by Clauses 1 and 2) took away from the public the legal protection they hitherto possessed against the Asylums Board, or other similar authorities, so conducting their hospitals as to cause disease to spread therefrom; and, if so, if he could explain why no intimation was given to Parliament of a proceeding so seriously effecting the rights, and even the lives, of the public; whether, in any authority given by the Local Government Board to the Asylum Board for using their hospitals for small-pox or fever patients, he will stipulate that such user must be contingent on their being able to prevent disease spreading therefrom; and, whether, in the event of any application being made by Government to Parliament for an extension of the Diseases Prevention (Metropolis) Act beyond the 1st September next, he will undertake that there shall be no general power asked for which will deprive the public of the legal protection they previously had against hospitals proved to be so conducted as to spread disease?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
The Local Government Board have no information as to the Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Hackney beyond that which has appeared in the public Press; but they learn from the Chairman of the Managers of the Metropolitan Asylums Board that that Report will be the subject of inquiry by the Managers. I may, however, say that the Managers are making special efforts to prevent any possible risk of the spread of small-pox from the hospital, not only by largely reducing the number of patients in the building, but by clearing adjacent properties, which have been purchased by the Managers for the purpose of securing a free space 1312 around the hospital. As regards the Act of last Session, Clause 1 merely gives the short title of the Act. As to Clause 2, it was not intended by that enactment to take away from the public any legal protection which they previously possessed against the Asylums Managers or any other Local Authority carrying on a hospital in such a manner as to cause the spread of disease; neither is it considered by the Board that such is the effect of the clause. The clause, in effect, provides that if the Diseases Prevention Act is put in force, and the Managers of the Asylum district are called upon to exercise powers as a Local Authority under that Act, they may utilize the buildings, &c., which they have provided for small-pox and fever cases for patients suffering from the epidemic disease which has led to the Statute being put in force. The Diseases Prevention Act never has been brought into operation in consequence of an epidemic either of fever or smallpox; and the Board have never contemplated its being put in force except in the case of an outbreak of cholera. The Board have always endeavoured to secure such arrangements in connection with the fever and small-pox hospitals of the Asylums Board as would prevent disease spreading therefrom; and they are fully satisfied that the Managers desire to take all due precautionary measures against such a result. The Board, for the reasons mentioned, do not consider that an extension of the Act will take away from the public any protection which they previously possessed.