§ MR. STEWART (Greenock)
To ask the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been called to the circumstances under which a lunatic, named Alexander Paton, escaped from Morningside Asylum, Edinburgh, and made a most serious assault on Mr. Thomas-Mitchell, the chairman of the Greenock School Board, on Friday the 18th instant, who has suffered severely in consequence; that the lunatic, although in asylum uniform, was allowed to make his way through Edinburgh to the railway station, there and thence by train to Greenock without any apparent effort on the part of the asylum authorities to trace him with the view to his capture, and without any inquiry directing the police in Greenock relative to his escape, although it was known to those in charge of the lunatic that he was communicating with Captain Angus, the superintendent of the Greenock police ; whether he will inquire if this is the first time the lunatic has escaped; and whether, in view of the 617 neglect to take ordinary precautions to prevent the escape and effect the capture of the lunatic, he will cause the whole matter to be inquired into for the protection of the public from the recurrence of this peril.
(Answered by Mr. Sinclair.) I am aware of the circumstances referred to by the hon. Member and regret the injury sustained by Mr. Mitchell. The hon. Member's information that the lunatic was dressed in uniform when he escaped and that those in charge of him knew that he was communicating with Mr. Angus is erroneous. The inmate has not escaped before and steps were at once taken to secure his recapture. All possible measures will be taken to prevent the inmate from escaping again, and I do not consider that there are grounds for apprehension, as such escapes are very rare, and all such precautions are taken as are consistent with the policy of differentiating the discipline of lunatic asylums from that of prisons.