HC Deb 10 March 1891 vol 351 cc597-8
DR. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the seizure of Mrs. Mary Cathcart, if he is aware that the lady was seized by four servants of a Private Lunatic Asylum within the jurisdiction of the Law Courts, when she was there for the purpose of pursuing an action in one of the Courts; whether such seizure amounts to contempt of Court; if he will state whether it is legal to seize any person under what is called an "urgency order," and confine the said person in a lunatic asylum before any medical examination has been made, or any medical certificate signed for his or her detention; and whether he will give an order for the examination of Mrs. Cathcart by two independent medical men?


I am informed by the Lunacy Commissioners that Mrs. Cathcart was taken in the Strand outside the Law Courts. It is a matter entirely for the Court itself to determine whether there has been any contempt of Court. The hon. Member will see from the Lunacy Act, 1890, that prior to an urgency order there must be a medical certificate. I am informed that this enactment was complied with. There has since been a Justice's order founded on two medical certificates, A Lunacy Commissioner has visited Mrs. Cathcart in the asylum, and has reported that she-is a fit subject for asylum treatment. A medical man employed by her mother has also visited her, and has advised that she is of unsound mind, and that the existing arrangements for her treatment should not be interfered with. I am not aware of any reason which should induce me to order an examination of the patient under Section 205 of the Lunacy Act.