HC Deb 22 April 1907 vol 172 cc1423-4

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether a dangerous patient in a district lunatic asylum may be discharged and handed over to relatives relieved, but not cured; and, in that case, whether the lunacy authorities have no further charge or responsibility.


A patient who, when admitted, was dangerous, may on the sheriff being satisfied and on medical certificates, be discharged when this can be done without risk of injury to the public or the patient. As to the latter part of the Question, it does not appear to me that there is any such charge or responsibility if the procedure is correctly followed.


I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he will, consider, the advisability of taking the necessary steps to ensure that all cases of dangerous lunatics who have committed assault resulting in lose of life should be dealt with in a criminal lunatic asylum, instead of relegating them to a district asylum.

I beg also to ask the Lord Advocate, whether, seeing that the presence of criminal lunatics who have committed murder is detrimental to the general freedom from severe discipline in district asylums, the beneficial effect of what is termed the open-door system being acknowledged, he will take the necessary steps to keep the district asylums as far as possible free from criminal lunatics who have committed murder or attempted murder.


I may be allowed to answer these two Questions together. The sending of these cases to a district asylum is no doubt warranted if the procedure under the 15th Section of the Lunacy Act of 1862 is adopted. I may say, however, that the other course, which is also correct in law, appears to me to be more advisable in practice, viz., that when crime has been committed by a lunatic the criminal authorities should deal with it in accordance with their regular powers under Sections 87 and 88 of the Lunacy (Scotland) Act, 1857. There may no doubt be exceptional cases, but my desire is that the practice which I think to be preferable should be adopted.