HC Deb 17 March 1925 vol 181 cc2082-4

I beg to move, That leave be given to introduce a Bill to amend Section seven of the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913, for the purpose of enabling a defective to be removed from an institution for the purpose of being placed under guardianship. This very small Bill is designed to remedy a defect in the Mental Deficiency Act of 1913. Under that Act mental defectives are liable to be dealt with by means of certain judicial proceedings which are necessary in their own interests and in the interests of the society in which they live. Under these proceedings a judicial Order may be made by the judicial authority authorising detention in an institution or under guardianship in order that the defectives may receive the appropriate medical and other treatment. There is another provision in the Act authorising a simple method of procedure by which persons under guardianship may be transferred to an institution, but there is no comparable procedure under which a mental defective in an institution can be transferred to guardianship. The fact is that after a period of treatment in an institution—usually after a considerable length of time—it is sometimes found that such improvement takes place that it is desirable that the patient should be removed from the institution and placed under guardianship, both in the interests of the patient's health and happiness and also in the interests of economy, detention in an institution being very costly. The Bill authorises the transference of patients from an institution to guardianship under the Order of the judicial authority which originally made the order of detention or another judicial authority, following exactly the same procedure that has been found to work very well in the case of transference from guardianship to institution. I speak with a little experience on this matter as, since 1913, I have been Chairman of the Central Association for Mental Welfare, which has a great deal to do with the administration of the Act throughout the country, and I know from our own experience, and from the experience of the Board of Control, that it will be of great public advantage in the administration of the Act if this small legislative change could be made. The Bill is a one-clause Bill, and everything that can be said upon it can be said in Committee or on Report Stage just as well as on Second Reading. The reason I have adopted this procedure for introducing the Bill is because I wish to ask the Members of the House who are present if they would not consider, when the Bill comes up for Second Reading, whether they might not allow it to pass as unopposed business at 11 o'clock.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir Leslie Scott, Mr. Fisher, Sir Henry Slesser, Lieut.-Colonel Fremantle, and Mr. Gerald Hurst.