HC Deb 01 August 1935 vol 304 cc2839-40
30. Mr. TURTON

asked the Minister of Health whether, with a view to reducing the very heavy cost of the present lunacy administration based on a system of universal detention, he will introduce a short amending Bill to repeal Clauses 1, 2, and 3 of the Mental Treatment Act in so far as they involve detention, and take steps to enable and encourage the health committees of local authorities to provide inexpensive hostels to be run on a purely hospital footing for the benefit of such borderline cases as do not require detention?


My hon. Friend, no doubt, appreciates that the present lunacy administration is not based on a system of universal detention. Last year over 23 per cent. of the patients admitted to treatment were voluntary. This, in fact, is due to the successful operation of Sections 1 to 3 of the Mental Treatment Act, which only involve detention to the extent of requiring 72 hours' notice of a patient's intention to leave. The suggested hostels could not benefit borderline cases unless they afforded full facilities for treatment, requiring staff and equipment that could not, I fear, be provided inexpensively.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the fear of being in contact with persons of more disordered minds deters many people from seeking treatment? Will he give further consideration to the matter?


It is very difficult to answer a question like that by question and answer, but I shall be very glad to discuss it with my hon. Friend. I may point out, however, that the sections to which he calls attention have, in fact, proved quite successful in the direction that he desires.


Is my right hon. Friend at the same time considering the promotion of out-patients departments which have been very successful in those mental hospitals where they have been established?