HC Deb 31 March 1927 vol 204 cc1402-3
23. Major ALAN McLEAN

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the case of Reggie Ford, aged 12, who was in 1922 committed to an industrial school and is now in a mental hospital; and whether he will cause inquiries to be made as to the circumstances leading to his present condition?


The case of this little boy was brought to the notice of my predecessor, who made careful inquiry, and on the 27th June, 1924, stated, in reply to a Parliamentary question, that he was satisfied that the magistrates, who in-eluded two women magistrates, dealt with the case with the fullest sympathy and with a desire to do what was best for the boy. The parents admitted that he was given to pilfering, that he was falling under the bad influence of older boys, and that they were unable to control him; and they asked that the boy might be sent away to school. I agrse entirely with my predecessor's statement. When the boy was received into the school, in January, 1923, he was said to suffer from a nervous disorder, and special attention was given to him under the supervision of the school doctor. As the nervous symptoms increased he was examined by a Home Office medical inspector, who came to the conclusion that the boy was probably suffering from the after-effects of encephalitis lethargica. Arrangements were then made for the transfer of the boy to another school, where, with the co-operation of the Somersetshire Education Committee, a special nurse was engaged for him for a considerable time, and where he received unremitting rare. Arrangements were also made for his special observation in a London hospital. The boy, however, steadily grew worse, and as it was impossible to keep him in the school he was discharged to the care of the guardians in July, 1925. Since then I understand that the boy has been certified under the Lunacy Act and is now in a mental hospital.


Will that boy now be classed as a mentally defective?


I am sorry to say it is more than that. I have given a full answer to the question because of the very unfair statement in a certain newspaper with regard to this boy.

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