I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, with regard to the appointment by the Local Government Board of Ireland of a trained nurse in the Armagh Workhouse instead of a probationer assistant nurse, in opposition to the wishes of the local authorities, will he explain why the Local Government Board have not adopted the course offered by them and agreed to by the guardians, of having the legality of the action of the Board, in appointing the nurse contrary to the wishes of the guardians, and the liability of the guardians to pay the wages of the nurse appointed under such circumstances, tested in the superior courts by means of a case stated; and why, instead of adopting that course, a few weeks afterwards—namely, on 4th February, 1901—the Local Government Board issued a General Order by which the previously existing power which boards of guardians possessed of appointing, with the consent and approval of the Local Government Board, such and so many assistants as boards of guardians should deem, necessary, has been taken away, and by which boards of guardians are now compelled, without regard to their own opinion, to appoint such and so many qualified assistants as the Local Government Board alone shall from time to time think necessary; and, has the word "qualified" in that Order been given any definition save the words "such qualifications as the Local Government Board shall think necessary."
The Local Government Board made their General Order of the 4th February, 1901, because an objection had been raised by the Armagh guardians to the Board's Nursing Order of 1895. Similar but not identical questions arose in other unions. The Board therefore decided upon making a General Order dealing with the whole subject of the appointment of assistant nurses and attendants, and they were advised that this was the best means of avoiding litigation when irreconcilable differences of opinion on the sufficiency of the nursing staff existed between the Local Government Board and boards of guardians. As this course involved the repeal of the previous Order referred to by the guardians, it was not necessary to test its validity in a court of law. The word "qualified" is correctly interpreted in the question.