We fully endorse the following remarks of the President (Dr. H. Newington) at the last Quarterly Meeting of the Association: —“There seems to exist in the minds of some superintendents of asylums a fear lest, in consequence of various dates of the asylum year being altered under the Local Government Act, our statistics should have to be furnished, not from January 1 to December 31 as they now are, but to one of two other dates fixed under the Local Government Act. I need hardly say any alteration in our dates for the purposes of statistics would be disastrous. Some people make light of our figures and say they are useless, and no doubt they are useless to the great majority of people, because they use them as bricks, and try to build substantial edifices with them without the use of a due amount of the cement of common sense. But there are some who can use those figures in a masterly manner, and with great advantage in solving or attempting to solve many of the great problems of insanity; and for these a change of date would be more than inconvenient. The danger arises in this way: The County Councils, under the Local Government Act, 1888, have to take office on the 1st November. They are elected triennially. Unless they choose to make any alteration in the date, they have to appoint, on the 7th November, the Visiting Committee of the asylums. This Committee has again, unless there is any alteration of date made by the Council itself, to make a report to the County Council of the management of, and sufficiency of, the accommodation in the present asylum, and they may make what other remarks they like. Thus we get one date —November 7—which is the first Quarterly Meeting of each County Council. Then, as the Local Government Act has conferred on County Councils large benefits depending on contributions that used formerly to be made to the Exchequer, and as the Exchequer year ends March 31, it has been ordained that all the accounts of County Councils shall be made up to the 31st March; and then under the Lunacy Act the accounts of a Visiting Committee of an asylum are the accounts for the purpose of audit, and so on of the County Council itself. Therefore it follows that the financial statement, with regard to a County Asylum, must be made on March 31; so we get the second date, and we hope to keep our own date—December 31—for making up the medical statistics. But we can see that there is considerable confusion of date, and I may say out of that very confusion arises the answer that we can give to those people who want to move the date of our statistics. It is evident from what I have said that the Government do not intend that the lay report or the report of management of an asylum, from the lay point of view, should coincide with the report of the management of the asylum from the financial point of view, and we may well say that there is no necessity that the report of the management of the asylum, from a medical point of view, should fall in with either of these dates, and we can therefore well claim that these reports be made, as at present, up to December 31. And in addition to this, there is this further argument that the Commissioners in Lunacy have announced their intention to request that all the figures of the various asylums, from their point of view, should be made up to December 31. I have
made these few remarks so that the question shall not be sprung upon any of you without due warning, and we trust that every superintendent will do his best to educate his masters, his County Council, to stick to the present arrangement.’
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