HC Deb 28 March 1938 vol 333 cc1626-8
53. Mr. Logan

asked the Minister of Health whether his attention has been called to the case of William Hargreaves, 31 years old, married, Territorial, who was arrested at the Ministry of Labour Office, Bootle, by two plain-clothes officers, who informed him they had orders to detain him until an escort arrived from the asylum in which he had been incarcerated 14 years ago, on the grounds that Hargreaves had not been subject and amenable to proper supervision during the 12 years he had been at liberty; and what steps he is taking to have this case reviewed with a view to releasing Hargreaves?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Mr. Bernays)

My right hon. Friend has caused inquiry to be made in the case of William Hargreaves. He was sent to an institution for mental defectives on 10th July, 1925, on the authority of an order made under the Mental Deficiency Act, 1913. He was allowed to leave the institution on licence on 22nd December, 1926. The periods were extended from time to time until 11th May, 1934, when the licence was revoked on the ground that its conditions had been broken. The patient was then treated as an escape from licence and was eventually brought back to the institution on 3rd February, 1938. He was again allowed to leave the institution on licence on 9th March. The Board of Control have reviewed the whole of the circumstances of the case, and as a result have directed William Hargreaves' discharge from the order under the Mental Deficiency Acts made in respect of him.

Mr. Logan

Is it not a fact that William Hargreaves has been sane all along and that he was released last week simply and solely because of the question being raised in the House, the examination having taken place only during the week; further, is it not a fact that this man has been away from an institution for 12 years, that he is considered to be sound mentally and that the Territorial officers under whom he has been working say that he is perfectly sane; and will the Minister say what inquiry, if any, he intends to make if a man is considered to be insane, sent to an asylum and treated as a convict, and what compensation he intends to pay?

Mr. Bernays

Special reports were made in August last year about the case of Mr. Hargreaves, and the specialists came to the conclusion that he was not a proper person to be detained in an asylum. It was within the discretion of the board to accept that recommendation or not, and, in fact, they did not act upon it.

Mr. Logan

In view of the outrage upon public liberty, I intend to raise this question on the Adjournment.