HC Deb 19 July 1916 vol 84 cc1000-1
26. Mr. R. McNEILL

asked the Secretary of State for War whether his attention has been called to a meeting held on 13th July of the committee of management of the Cavan and Monaghan Asylum, under the presidency of the Bishop of Clogher, at which the clerk reported that with two exceptions all the patients returned as criminal lunatics were soldiers who had been sent home from the front suffering from shell shock, and that in consequence of recent legislation all patients committed under the Army Act were treated as criminal lunatics, the full cost of their maintenance being paid by the Government; if he will say whether this is the practice in such cases; and whether he proposes to take immediate steps to put an end to such treatment of invalided soldiers?


My attention has not been called to this meeting. There is evidently some misapprehension as regards the treatment of these men. The explanation is that, owing to a misprint, the word "prisoner" in the Criminal Lunatics Act, 1884, became "person"—a mistake which was copied into the Irish Lunacy Act, 1901, the consequence being that soldiers committed as dangerous lunatics to asylums in Ireland, whether they are prisoners or not, become chargeable to the Prison Vote instead of to the rates. The matter is one of technical classification and the treatment of the invalided soldier is not in any way affected; it corresponds in all respects to that of the ordinary patient. No action is therefore called for. The term "shell-shock" is not correct as applied to these cases in the majority of which there is disability of another kind.


Will the War Office take steps to make these mistakes known, in order that the practice may be rectified?


I think that is very desirable.