HC Deb 13 May 1914 vol 62 cc1112-4

asked the President of the Local Government Board what is his authority, under the Mental Deficiency Act, for authorising the reporting to the Local Government Board under the Mental Deficiency Act Regulations of all women of bad character who are in receipt of poor relief?


I have authorised no such Regulation. The Regulation to which my hon. Friend presumably refers is one which authorises the report to the Local Government Board of certain classes of mentally defective persons who are subject to be dealt with under the Act. One class will include any mentally defective woman who, being in receipt of Poor Law relief, gives birth to an illegitimate child, or is about to do so, or is living under conditions which are morally dangerous. Such a report is necessary in order to determine whether such circumstances exist as render desirable the transfer of a mentally defective woman from the care of the Poor Law authority to that of the county authority. The authority for the Regulation is Section 30, proviso ii., and Section 2 (1) (b) of the Act.


asked the Home Secretary if he will state, with reference to the Regulations recently issued in connection with mental deficiency, on what Section of the Act he bases the right to demand details as to the parentage of the defectives and the age and mode of life of parents; and whether he proposes to alter the Regulations in this respect?


The local authority is obliged, by Section 30 of the Mental Deficiency Act, to ascertain what persons within their area are defectives subject to be dealt with by them, to provide suitable supervision for such persons, or, if such supervision affords insufficient protection, to take steps to secure their being sent to institutions or placed under guardianship. To enable the local authority to exercise a proper discretion in carrying out these obligatory duties, it is obvious that they must have before them information as to the circumstances of the defective, and the means of care and supervision which exist, whether by parents or otherwise. I think, however, that it is unnecessary to specify the "mode of life" of the parents as a specific subject of inquiry, and I propose to omit these words in the final form of the rule.