§ 29. Mr. R. RICHARDSON
asked the Minister of Health what is the longest period for which a patient has been kept under detention by prolongation of a stated term of leave of absence under Section 55 of the Lunacy Act, 1890; in how many instances during the last three years have patients been kept for a year and upwards in this condition, which precludes any assurance of freedom and leaves them liable to be sent back to the detention from which their friends wished to release them; and, in view of the de- 1885 pressing effect of such a practice upon those subjected to it, will he take steps to secure its discontinuance?
The information asked for by the hon. Member in regard to the practice of granting leave of absence on trial under Section 55 of the Lunacy Act, 1890, can only be obtained by an examination of the records of all institutions for the insane, and I do not feel justified in calling for this. If, however, the hon. Member is aware of any particular case in which it is thought hardship has resulted from an unduly prolonged period of leave, and will supply me with details, I will have inquiry made.
§ 30. Mr. RICHARDSON
asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that, according to a recent ruling of the Board of Control, the procedure under Section 49 of the Lunacy Act of 1890, for the examination of a certified person by two doctors with a view to discharge, is now held to require that the two doctors, instead of visiting once each with an interval of seven days and giving an indepedent opinion, should visit the patient together on two separate occasions with a like interval of seven days; and, in view of the fact that the Royal Commission recommended equality of opportunity for rich and poor and that the fees now required, as a result of this ruling, for four medical visits are, in most cases, prohibitive, will he introduce legislation at an early date to simplify and facilitate the procedure so as to place the opportunity for discharge conferred by this Section within reasonable reach of the poor?
The ruling of the Board of Control referred to was given after full consideration of the terms of the Section. The point raised by the hon. Member has been noted for consideration in the event of any fresh legislation being introduced.
§ Mr. RICHARDSON
Does not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that there is a hardship upon the poor as against the rich by this practice?