Dr. Carlyle Johnstone, introducing the discussion, said: It is several years since any active steps have been taken by the Scottish Division, or by the Association itself, to obtain retiring allowances for the officers and servants of Scottish district and parochial asylums. Nothing has been done in the interval by the State or the local authorities to satisfy our reasonable claims or to remove the special injustice under which Scotland suffers. A memorial on this subject was presented to the Lord Advocate by the Scottish Division in 1877, and a similar memorial was presented to the Secretary for Scotland, Lord Lothian, in 1887. The representations of the Division were politely received, but no practical results have followed. It may be considered that it would be futile to send in a third petition; but the present Secretary for Scotland has never been approached by our body, and he may fairly consider that if we do not ask for pensions we do not want them. There is reason to believe that at any moment a Bill for the amendment of the Scottish Lunacy Acts may be introduced into the House of Commons. We should leave no stone unturned in order to secure that in this Bill provision shall be made for the granting of superannuation allowances in all Scottish public asylums. I have brought this question before the Asylum Workers' Association and the Parliamentary Committee of the Medico-Psychological Association, and both of these bodies have now memorialised Lord Balfour on behalf of the Scottish asylum workers. In my opinion our Scottish Division should do the same. The conditions of service in Scotland are so anomalous, so grossly unfair as compared with those in England and Ireland, that, if only we keep on protesting and agitating the matter, we may reasonably expect by our continual importunity to obtain justice sooner or later. At each General Election we ought to approach every candidate for Parliamentary honours, lay our case before them, and obtain from them individually, if possible, an expression of their sympathy with our claim and a promise to vote for a Bill which shall satisfy this claim. This is what we ought to have done at the last General Election. I hope that this meeting will resolve that this shall be done at the next one. It does not appear to me to be opportune to approach Members of Parliament at this moment. In a decaying House, with a dwindling majority on the side of the Government and many Members proposing to go into retirement at the dissolution, we can scarcely expect Members to pledge themselves to vote for what cannot be regarded as a “popular” or “economical” measure. But we ought, I think, to get into touch with Lord Balfour at once, and make plans for bringing pressure to bear on all Scottish candidates at the General Election, which may possibly occur at an early date.
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