As might have been expected, the advent of a Conservative Government was the signal for an attempt being made to relieve local taxation; and the overwhelming majority by which Sir Massey Lopes' resolutions on this subject were passed two years ago, pointed to the maintenance of pauper lunatics as being one of the burdens that should be partially, or entirely, removed from local, and placed on imperial taxation. Accordingly, in the Budget introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the 16th of April last, it was proposed that four shillings a week should be paid from imperial resources to each union in the United Kingdom, for every lunatic in the county or borough asylums, and subsequently Sir Stafford Northcote fully explained that this subsidy would not be allowed either for pauper lunatics in lunatic wards of workhouses, or for lunatics boarded out with friends or others, or for those in the Metropolitan Asylums at Leavesden, Caterham, and Hampstead. The arguments for and against this scheme are rather nicely balanced, and until it has had an extended trial of three or four years it will be difficult to decide whether its effects will be good or bad. It has been surmised that the result will be to induce Boards of Guardians to direct their officials to send acute and recent cases of insanity at once to the asylum, instead of retaining them, as is too frequently done, in the workhouse, until they become chronic; but it seems to have been forgotten that the union medical officer is the person who usually decides on the course to be adopted, and, moreover, that if the guardians are induced by the proposed subsidy to order acute cases to be sent at once to the asylums, the same motives will also prompt them to send off the idiots, imbeciles, and troublesome and chronic lunatics, now in workhouses or boarded out.
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