HC Deb 12 April 1934 vol 288 c493
38. Mr. PIKE

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the circumstances attending the death of Mary Medley, aged 60 years, a married woman, of New Street, Sheffield; and if it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to institute inquiries into the operation of the Lunacy Acts with a view to ensuring that certificates declaring persons to be of unsound mind shall not be issued until indisputable medical evidence has been established?


There is, I think, some misapprehension about the facts of this case. It appears from the Press report of it that, on the strength of a medical certificate from the district medical officer describing Mrs. Medley's condition as "bronchitis and unsound mind," she was removed by the general relieving officer to the hospital under the provisions of Section 20 of the Lunacy Act with a view to her being kept under observation in the mental ward. The patient died there before any question of further formal proceedings for certification under the Lunacy Act arose and she was never certified. In these circumstances, there is no case for inquiry into the operation of the Lunacy Act.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that in view of the present circumstances, which permit an officer of a public assistance committee to issue an order for detention in a mental ward, no person should be admitted as a mental case until there has been a thorough medical inquiry and the mental condition of the person has been established?


I do not think I can accept the suggestion which is contained in the hon. Member's Supplementary Question. He will see that in this particular case there was as a matter of fact no question of certification.