HC Deb 04 February 1926 vol 191 cc289-90
13. Mr. AMMON

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the case of a youth suffering from the after effects of encephalitis lethargica, who was recently charged at the Lambeth Police Court with stealing a shilling; and will he say what provisions, medical or otherwise, are made to distinguish moral and mental defectives from ordinary criminals brought before the magistrates?


Yes, Sir. My attention was first called to this case while the lad was in prison on remand, and I asked the Medical Commissioner of Prisons to attend at the Court and give the magistrate a full account of the examination made by the prison doctors. The lad was released on probation, and his future welfare is receiving careful attention. With regard to the last part of the question, Courts have wide powers of dealing with persons who are certifiable under the Mental Deficiency Act, but persons whose morale have been affected by the disease in question may not be certifiable either under this Act or the Lunacy Acts; and the problem raised by these cases has been engaging the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, in consultation with the Home Office.

14. Mr. AMMON

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been called to the sentence of 12 months' hard labour passed at the Old Bailey, on the 19th January last, on a man who was certified on medical authority to be suffering from brain trouble; whether he noted the expressed wish of the learned Recorder in passing sentence that Parliament would give Judges necessary powers to send such cases to places, other than prisons, where they could get more expert treatment; and will he consider the subject with a view to introducing the necessary legislation?


Yes, Sir, and I have obtained a special medical report upon the prisoner in question. Upon the information before me I have no grounds for believing that the sentence passed upon this man was other than appropriate. As regards the Recorder's suggestion that special institutions should be provided for certain offenders who are not insane, I can only say that I will give this question most careful consideration.


Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider also that this has some relation to the case dealt with in the preceding question, and will he consider it from the point of view that these youths are made criminals?


I do realise that there is a difficulty in this class of case. The hon. Member might like to know that this particular prisoner is in good physical and mental health and shows no sign of organic disease.