§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ EARL SPENCER
desired to draw attention to one of the clauses—that which provided for the removal of incurable and harmless lunatics from the asylums to the workhouses. He feared that hardship might be done under it unless the action of the authorities in the matter were carefully watched.
§ LORD LISGAR
concurred with the noble Earl as to the judgment which was required in carrying out the law; but the power of removing lunatics from asylums to poorhouses was necessary in consequence of the asylums being overcrowded 168 with cases of chronic lunacy' which could be quite as well treated in the poorhouses as in the asylums.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
said, that it had been found in England that, in consequence of the district asylums being filled with chronic cases, many lunatics were deprived of the relief afforded by those asylums during the period of the malady when there was most chance of a cure—namely, within the first year. After that time the chances were small, and in many cases it was better for the chronic patient to be sent to the workhouse, where the companions they met with and the small share they might take in the affairs of the establishment would tend to their benefit though not to their cure. As these cases of chronic lunacy were not curable it was better that the patients should be removed to the poorhouses, but, of course, with many precautions, and their places in the asylums occupied by others whom there was a chance of curing. A clause in the English Bill, similar to the clause in the present Bill to which the noble Earl had drawn attention, had been found to work well.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, this clause was not in the Bill as introduced originally in the other House of Parliament—it was inserted on the Motion of an hon. Member, who devoted much attention to county matters. After what had been said by the noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), who was so high an authority on such matters, he thought their Lordships would have no hesitation in agreeing to the clause. The framing of the clause evinced the greatest caution. The consent of no fewer than five authorities was required before there could be the transfer of a lunatic from a district asylum to a workhouse—namely, the Guardians of the Poor Law Union, the Local Government Board, the Inspector of Lunatic Asylums, the Resident Medical Superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum, and the Governors of the Asylum. If in Ireland so many different authorities were found unanimous in favour of the transfer, he thought there need be no apprehension on the subject.
§ Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Monday next.