HC Deb 28 October 1943 vol 393 cc367-8
38. Mr. Ralph Etherton

asked the Minister of Health whether he is satisfied that the provision for mentally defective children in Lancashire is adequate; how many children are at present awaiting admission to an institution; and in such case when it is anticipated accommodation will be available?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Horsbrugh)

My right hon. Friend is aware that in Lancashire, as in other areas, there is a shortage of institutional accommodation for mental defectives. I understand that the number of defective children in Lancashire awaiting admission to institutions is 108. They will be admitted to institutions as and when vacancies occur.

Mr. Etherton

Will my hon. Friend inquire whether the number of beds held empty for emergency cases is not more than is required, and whether some could not be filled from the waiting list?

Miss Horsbrugh

We have looked into this question but I am afraid that there is very little hope of my hon. Friend's suggestion being adopted.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will not the hon. Lady look further into the matter? Is it not a fact that accommodation is available and that the problem is to get nurses and staff to look after these children?

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is it not time that we stopped using the offensive expression "mentally defective children"?

Viscountess Astor

Is it not a fact that there are empty beds all over the country while children are waiting for admission?

Miss Horsbrugh

If the Noble Lady will give me the addresses of the institutions where, she says, there are these vacancies, I shall be only too pleased to look into the matter.

Viscountess Astor

I did not say "institutions." I was speaking about provision which was made under the Ministry of Health.