HC Deb 12 August 1907 vol 180 cc784-5
MR. COOPER (Southwark, Bermondsey)

To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether he can state the number of men and women, giving the number of each sex, who are detained in the London workhouses as harmless lunatics on account of senile decay or † See (4) Debates, clxxx., 325–6. imbecility; if he can state whether any children, and, if any, how many, are detained in the London workhouses because of imbecility or idiocy; whether he is aware that no child under five years of age can be admitted into one of the imbecile asylums of the Metropolitan Asylums Board; and whether he will consider the desirability of altering this regulation.

(Answered by Mr. John Burns.) The number of the insane in the London workhouses on 1st January last was 322, of whom 159 were men, 149 women, and 14 children. The nature of the lunacy from which these persons were suffering is not specified in the Returns. The rule that children under five years of age should not be admitted into the institutions of the Metropolitan Asylums Board for imbecile children was made because it was felt that a trustworthy judgment cannot be formed as to the intellectual condition of very young children. The Local Government Board have, however, intimated to the managers that they would favour arrangements for the reception of children of the kind in question in such a way that they might be carefully observed by an expert before being finally drafted into an asylum.