HC Deb 01 November 1909 vol 12 cc1445-6

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the unanimous recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded in favour of taking out of the Poor Law all classes of mentally defective persons and of removing the feebleminded from the workhouses, steps are now being taken for the preparation of legislation on the subject; and whether, in the meantime, care will be taken not to give the sanction of His Majesty's Government to any schemes of local authorities which would involve in any Department expenditure in a direction contrary to the recommendations of the said Royal Commission?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

The Government are alive to the importance of this matter, and I would refer my hon. Friend to a statement of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, made on 31st August last, in reply to a deputation. The Home Secretary on that occasion said that, though there might be considerable difficulties in the way of legislation, he was in agreement with the deputation as to the importance of the subject, and that he had ascertained that the Lord Chancellor was of the same opinion. And he added that he hoped to be able to make a practical effort next Session in the direction of legislation. In answer to the latter part of the question I would refer my hon. Friend to an answer given on 27th August by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Evesham Division, in the course of which my right hon. Friend gave an assurance that he would bear in mind the recommendations of the Royal Commission, but that, pending legislation, he was not prepared to undertake that his sanction should be withheld in all cases in which proposals for new buildings for inmates of the class described might be brought before him.