HC Deb 11 December 1946 vol 431 cc1163-4
72. Mr. Wilkes

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what provision exists in British territories in Africa for the treatment of criminal and non-criminal lunatics; and whether he will appoint a committee to investigate, report, and to make recommendations regarding the present incidence and treatment of mental deficiency within the African territories

Mr. Creech Jones

The general policy in the African Colonial territories is to treat criminal and non-criminal lunatics as mental patients without differentiation. Dr. Cunyngham Brown, formerly a Com- missioner of the Board of Control, visited the West African territories before the war to advise on the care and treatment of lunatics. Action upon his recommendations was delayed by the war, but they are now receiving consideration In their development plans, the African Governments generally are making considerably increased provision for mental care In the case of Nigeria, an alienist has recently been appointed to advise on the development of mental health services, for which a sum of £520,000 has been earmarked. A psychiatrist is also in West Africa at present conducting an investigation at the instance of the Colonial Social Science Research Council into the forms taken by mental illness amongst West Africans. I should prefer to wait before considering the question of sending a mission to carry out further investigations in the African territories, until I see more clearly how the plans of the Governments are developing.

Mr. Erroll

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what progress is being made towards the elimination of the practice at present prevalent in certain African territories of putting lunatics in the common gaol?

Mr. Creech Jones

A good deal of attention has been called to practices of that kind, and I think that all the Governments in Africa are giving some attention to the matter in the arrangement? which they are now making.