HC Deb 19 July 1935 vol 304 cc1431-4

1.29 p.m.

The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. Jamieson)

I beg to move, in page 2, line 36, to leave out from "that," to "cause," in line 38, and insert:

  1. (i) the Department shall, on application made by or on behalf of any person in whose case such an order as aforesaid has 1432 been made, afford an opportunity to a medical practitioner employed by such person or on his behalf to examine him not later than thirty days after the date of the order, and the Secretary of State shall consider any report by such medical practitioner which may be submitted to him, and shall take such action as may seem to him necessary in all the circumstances of the case;
  2. (ii) the Department shall, if any person detained in the criminal lunatic asylum in pursuance of this sub-section recovers his sanity before the expiry of his sentence.
When the Bill was in Committee hon. Members opposite both above and below the Gangway raised a question as to the right of a person while serving a sentence of imprisonment, on being found insane, to be examined by his own doctor or by a doctor nominated by his relatives. We thought there was considerable substance in the point and agreed to consider it. It is to give effect to the point that was raised that we have put down this Amendment. The effect of the Amendment, taken along with those inserted in Committee, will be that where a person serving a sentence is found to be insane but his insanity is such that he is not suitable to be sent to an ordinary asylum he will be sent to the criminal lunatic asylum, and opportunity will be given to have him examined by his own doctor. The doctor's report will be considered by the Secretary of State, who will review the whole situation and make such order as may be necessary. On the expiry of the sentence, if the person is not yet fit to be set at liberty on account of his insanity and not fit to be sent to an ordinary asylum, certification to that effect will be given by two medical practitioners, one of whom is not to be in the prison service. An opportunity will be given at that time also for the person being examined by his own doctor. Again, the Secretary of State on receiving the reports will consider the whole of the circumstances before making an order. With these Amendments, I understand that the Bill is not contentious.

1.31 p.m.


I thank the Lord Advocate for going into this matter which arose out of the Amendment that I moved in the Committee stage. Certain protection will now be given which was not in the Bill as originally brought before the House. The Lord Advocate promised that he would see what could be done to meet our point, and the Amendment now proposed is the result of that examination. We are prepared to accept it. It meets a great deal of what we desire. While the Government may not have given to us all that we want, we consider that there is greater protection given now than in the Bill as originally drafted. Therefore, we do not propose to delay the progress of the Bill and we thank the Lord Advocate and the Scottish Office for meeting the point.

1.33 p.m.


I associate myself with the remarks of the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean). This difficulty was first raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) on the Second Reading of the Bill, and the hon. Member for Govan put down an Amendment in the Committee stage. We realise that the problem involved does not, fortunately, affect a very large number of people. Dealing with the criminal lunatic is perhaps one of the most difficult bits of public work that has to be done, although it affects only a small number of cases. We know the difficulties that confront those who are charged with this duty, and we are not anxious to make their task any more difficult. We are, at the same time, anxious to allay in every possible way the public fears that have undoubtedly existed about the treatment of these people, and we believe that this amended Clause will give reasonable protection both to the person concerned and the general public. We therefore, offer no objection to the Bill as it now stands.

Amendment agreed to.